The Fifteen Minute Rule, No Excuses

My husband calls them ankle-biters. Those dastardly little things that gobble up all your spare time and linger on your to-do list. Those nagging commitments that require more time than you have to give. So often they end up procrastinated into eternity.

Am I singing your song? If that isn’t your jingle all year round, it certainly is the anthem of the holidays. Too much to do, too many people, too little sleep, too many presents, too many plans, too many finals, too many cookies, too much food, too little exercise, too much, too much, too much. I feel overwhelmed just thinking about it.

Enter the 15 minute rule. I first read about this in my writer’s magazine. When an article or story seems too daunting and writer’s block has built a mansion and taken up residence right in front of you, it’s time to implement the 15 minute rule. This is simply setting a timer for 15 minutes and telling yourself that you are only promising to work on this project for 15 minutes. After that, all bets are off. After that, you just might get up and go take a bubble bath. After that, finished or not, you have the option to quit and walk away. Anyone can do anything for 15 minutes. Right?

This little trick worked so well! Somehow, removing the pressure of “I will sit here until I finish this,” gave my creativity wings. Instead of waiting for that beep to end my misery, I barely heard my timer ring. And 15 minutes everyday, quickly resulted in a finished product!

I just spent the Thanksgiving holiday with my wonderful 3 sisters, their husbands, daughter and my parents. Around the dinner table one night, my brilliant doctor sister gave credit to a mentor for helping her pass a critical exam. “She told me to set the timer for 20 minutes. After that, no matter how much I had done, I could quit. It worked!”

Don’t spend too much time trying to figure it out. It’s the human psyche that responds to the pressure of limited time and the relief of an end in sight. So how does this apply to you, to your fitness and to the holidays?

Less is more!

Instead of wondering how you’re going to manage getting in hour long workouts while you’re visiting family, simply promise to do  15 minutes of intense exercise everyday.

I recently practiced this principle in my own workouts. While in Missouri with my family, I told myself that I would only get up early enough to workout 20-30 minutes everyday. Getting up 30 minutes early wasn’t hard. The workouts were over before I knew it and it was enough to boost my energy, my mood and inspire me to eat healthily on vacation.

Why not try it? You can do anything for 15 minutes. 

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Winterizing Your Health

In spite of all the glorious aspects of autumn, it heralds an end to (un-bundled) hiking, water skiing, swimming and a myriad of other fun ways to sneak activity in our lives. Usually, more of our time is spent indoors with quieter hobbies. We shift our focus to look forward to once-a-year favorite foods, hot chocolate, good books by a fireplace and board games with friends. So what happens to your exercise routine? Can you maintain progress toward your health goals even in the face of chilly obstacles?

When I was a kid, my parents’ boat was the favorite summer pastime. As September slipped over the horizon, we begged to get in one more trip to the lake before Daddy winterized the boat.

In the marine world, winterizing a boat is the single most important maintenance duty. If it is done correctly, winterizing simplifies getting going again in the summer. It greatly extends the life of the boat and its engine by protecting its components during winter hibernation.

Our bodies are intricate machines. It makes sense that caring for them, especially in the slower seasons of life, will lengthen our lives, prevent injuries and keep us on track for toward our health goals.

So how do you winterize your body?

1. Establish a new routine.
Don’t expect to be able to keep the same pace that you did all summer. That doesn’t mean take it easy! It just means you might have to get creative in order to squeeze in workouts around the holidays, snow storms, etc. Find a couple workouts you can do without any equipment. Write them out and stuff them in  your suitcase when traveling. Find a couple workouts you can do in 16 minutes – try using the Tabata protocol.

2. Invest in a good pair of mittens and a good beanie cap.
Everyone has their preferences, but I tried everything before I found what I think is the best solution to miserably cold runs. A fleece lined beanie cap can make me start to steam, even in the coldest weather. Mittens keep your fingers tucked in close to each other, snug as bugs in a rug. And purchase some Hot Hands – those things are like magic!

3. Layer, layer, layer!

4. Find a couple workout DVDs that you enjoy.
Sometimes it’s nice to know just exactly how long your workout is going to take. Especially when you know that the rest of the house will be waking soon, or others are waiting on you to do something.

5. Throw a make-over party!
     Ask your friends about their healthy versions of your favorite holiday dishes. If no one has any, challenge them all to Google one, test it and share the results. Delicious, easy versions of nearly every recipe are out there! Check out Hungry Girl, Chocolate Covered Katie,  Skinny Taste and Eating Well. 

I’m sure there are other obstacles to winter workouts, but I’m just as sure there are solutions to every single one of them. What are your plans for a healthy winter and happy holiday season?

Boat winterization facts: Article Source:

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“I Should Do That” – and she did

This blog has told the stories of several women who put their physical training to good use. These ladies, of all ages, have shared how they used their passion for fitness to benefit others. Let me introduce you to one more, Diane Lindquist.

Diane just completed the Marine Corps Marathon. This is an iconic race, held in D.C. every October. It is known as the “people’s marathon” because 30,000 runners from age 14 to the 90-year-old veteran, Jonathan Mendes, who became the race’s oldest finisher in 2011, compete simply for the purity of the race. There is no monetary prize.

“I chose to do a marathon because when I finished the half marathon I had no injuries and I felt I still had some left in me. I heard so much about the Marine Corps marathon, I wanted to experience it myself,” Diane said.

The Marine Corps Marathon is famous in the race world. As soon as registration opens, the race is usually full within hours. Suddenly, at the end of a very busy day, Diane realized she had missed her chance to register.

“Why don’t you try running for a charity?” her husband asked. At first she was concerned about raising money, but she boldly decided to stretch outside her comfort zone. Diane chose to use her marathon to support Jill’s House. By race day, she had surprised herself, raising $1252!

Diane tackled training systematically. She selected a popular plan called, “Run Less, Run Faster,” by the F.I.R.S.T. institute.  Training isn’t supposed to be easy, but Diane found ways to make the most of every moment. “Running is my therapy,” she said. “It’s cheaper than therapy! But the hardest part is when I have to run alone, with no one to help pass the time. I’ve learned to use that time to have conversations with God.”

In fact, Diane credits God with getting her into running. She was inspired by her sister and friends who had begun running 10 mile races and half-marathons. “Then, God just opened my mouth and I said, ‘I should do that!’”

Diane says that running is teaching her to rely more on God. “I want to learn to be more positive and not become my worst enemy when the running becomes a challenge or there is pain.”

Post Marine Corps, Diane is staring undaunted into her next challenge. “I want to qualify for the Boston Marathon,” she says.

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