Last week I sat down to talk shop with Jamie Walker, co-founder of Fit Approach, a healthy community focused on providing expert advice, instruction and support to Bay Area residents in search of better health.
After reading rave reviews of her classes and learning about her declaration of insanity upon registering for her first 100-mile race later this year (yes, you read that correctly – the extra zero is not a typo), I figured there’d be no better brain to pick for advice on how to stay motivated throughout 2012.
Read on for a continuation of our conversation, where Walker shares some of her favorite training tips, secrets to kicking some serious bootcamp booty, plus tricks for dragging yourself out of bed – and to the gym – on those days when you just can’t stop hitting the snooze button:
Q: Welcome back, Jamie! So here in the Bay Area, we live in tech hotbed – amidst high stress, long hours and even longer commutes, how do you help people prioritize fitness?
JW: In high-stress environments, it’s very easy to feel like you don’t have time to take care of yourself. And the worst part is, when you don’t take care of yourself you’re actually less productive at your job because you lack energy, focus and happiness.
To help others prioritize their own fitness, I try to lead by example. I, too, work in a high-stress environment and understand long hours and a demanding job. I show people that having a high-demand job and fitness can go hand in hand. I don’t spend eight hours at the gym every day or hours cooking every night; I squeeze in my workouts when it makes the most sense for me: the mornings. I wake up an hour earlier than I would need to every morning to ensure that I get my workout in, no excuses.
I also try to get a lot of my meal planning done on the weekends when I have a bit more time. I get groceries and prepare what I can to make the transition back into the week that much easier. I always have some kind of whole grain ready to go, whether it’s quinoa, brown rice, amaranth, lentil or another variety. Then it’s easy to just add some veggies. I also have a lot of “go-to” 30-minute-or-less type recipes on hand so I never have the urge to succumb to take out or eating junk food.
Q: Many people are hoping to embrace fitness in 2012; care to share five of your top training tips for beginners?
JW: First, don’t overdo it. One of the worst mistakes a beginner can make is to overdo it. Just remember that you’re not going to get the results you want overnight. Instead of trying to get to the gym or to a workout class every day of the week, commit to getting there three days of the week. This will not only help you establish a sustainable routine but will also give your muscles and body the proper time for recovery.
Second, set realistic and attainable goals. Again, you’re not going to get the results you want overnight. Building fitness into your life will take time. Embrace it, own it, and work for it. Make sure the goals you set for yourself are realistic and attainable so you don’t burn out or feel frustrated.
Third, eat right. One of the most important things you can do to boost your workouts and achieve your results faster is to eat well. Just as with your fitness, you’ll need a plan. Commit to cooking at least four times per week, and plan your meals in advance.
Fourth, get some zzzzz’s. Don’t forget to sleep!! Your body needs sleep to function. Your workouts will feel stronger, and you’ll be less tempted by cravings throughout the day.
Finally, find a buddy. Working out with a buddy not only makes your workouts more fun, but it will also hold you accountable. It’s a lot easier to hit snooze on the alarm clock if no one is going to be waiting for you. Make fitness dates and you’ll be more likely to stick to your workout and achieve the results you’ve always wanted.
Q: On top of your Fit Approach training, you’re also known for ultra-distance running; what’s your must-run route in San Francisco?
JW: My all-time favorite place to run in San Francisco is the Land’s End Trail – there is nothing more beautiful and amazing to me on a clear day. I feel like I can run from the front door of my apartment to the trail head and get lost on what seems to be something far, far away from the city itself. On a clear day, you cannot beat the views. And the hills and stairs add a perfect amount of challenge to your run, no matter what distance you decide to do!
Q: You’re also known for your killer workouts; do you have a favorite move (i.e. method of torture)?
JW: This is a tough question because it’s hard to pick only one! I’d be willing to bet that if you asked the Fit Approach bootcampers they’d tell you my all-time favorite moves are push-ups, inch worms, hill sprints, squat jumps and burpees – and they’d be right. But if I had to go with just one move that I would do each and every single day, I’d have to go with something as simple as push-ups. Push-ups are such a great and easy way to work your core, arms and back. For many people (especially women), push-ups can seem very daunting and unachievable. One of my favorite moments in any bootcamp is when someone does their first-ever full set of push-ups…not on their knees, not half way down…but the real deal. It’s such a qualifier, an overall test of one’s strength…and often, a great party trick! ;)
Q: What do you do to motivate yourself on a day you’re just not feeling it, workout-wise?
JW: Just like anyone else, there are mornings when I just don’t want to get out of bed, those times when my alarm clock sounds like nails on a chalkboard and when that extra hour of sleep sounds so much better than a morning sweat session. On those days, I always remind myself that I am lucky. I don’t have to get up and run or go to yoga. In fact, nobody is forcing me to go. I get to go, and it is an amazing privilege to be able to get up and get moving. It is a privilege to start my day off on the right foot and no matter how I feel beforehand, I always know I will feel 100 times better afterward.
And when all else fails, I bribe myself with a glass of wine at the end of the day!
Q: Any parting advice for people hoping to make 2012 their year to get in shape?
JW: In short, if you want to add fitness and health to your daily routine you just have to do it. You have to carve out that hour somewhere in your day – and it’s there – it’s either in the morning, and you just need to get your butt up earlier, in the afternoon (bring your gym clothes to work!) or in the evening before your plop down in front of the TV. Make fitness as necessary as brushing your teeth, and you will find the time.
For more information on Fit Approach or to learn how you can “sweat pink” with co-founders Jamie and Alyse, visit FitApproach.com.