Why I’ve stopped being a perfectionist – 2 reasons

Interested in ditching that perfectionist mindset and beating yourself up when you fall short? My FREE #EndEatingPerfectionism course is for you. 

Perfectionism is my M.O. It’s always been. From the time I was a kid in grammar school to my first day at Google, trying to be perfect at whatever I was doing was my goal. I would always get the A, make the team, get the job, and be the best.

And if I wasn’t? I wouldn’t do it.

I remember one time in high school when I was working on a paper. Sitting in the library with a bag of trail mix on the corner of the desk, I feverishly wrote my “rough draft” of my paper. This paper had just been assigned the period before lunch, and the perfectionist student I was believed that I had to complete the first draft ASAP so I could spend the rest of the week getting it reviewed by my teacher, editing it multiple times, and making it absolutely perfect. Even though I had plenty of time to write the damn paper, I still skipped lunch to indulge my perfectionist beliefs.

I was trapped by the idea of perfection and didn’t know how to get out. (here are the exact strategies I used to separate from perfectionism)

Lovely, this was my reality for as long as I can remember. But recently? I’ve ditched perfectionism in favor of “good enough.” And there are two main reasons why.

2 reasons I’ve stopped being a perfectionist

 

I was trapped by the idea of perfection and didn't know how to get out. (here are the exact strategies I used to separate from perfectionism)  Lovely, this was my reality for as long as I can remember. But recently? I've ditched perfectionism in favor of "good enough." And there are two main reasons why.

Perfectionism forces us to disregard the progress we’ve made

When all we think about is perfect, we belittle progress. We belittle the changes we’re making that are getting us where we want to be.

When I first started as a trainer and coach, I was super guilty of this. Even though I’ve ditched perfectionism in many areas of my life, I would look at pictures of myself (PS. I’m talking even more intimately about perfection and sharing my most recent progress pics with my email buddies this weekend. It’s probably the most vulnerable email I’ve ever sent. Get on the list here if you wanna read it), and nitpick them apart until I was in tears.

My arms look flabby.

I’m nowhere close to a six pack

My legs have cellulite.

dynamic stretching

I’d constantly compare myself to the other coaches and trainers out there, believing I looked nothing like the (perfect) trainers I saw on Instagram. This attempt to reach perfection made me completely ignore the progress I’d made and the reasons I should be coaching.

I disregarded that I’ve started squatting 1.15x my bodyweight.

I’d ignore the fact that I’ve coached dozens of women in the last year away from restrictive and obsessive eating and exercise patterns.

My recent chin up progress (5 reps stringed together on a good day!) meant nothing.

These things are super important. But if I were super focused on perfection, I wouldn’t even notice or care about these things.

These steps are the

Perfectionism makes us think in black-and-white

By looking at ourselves as perfect or imperfect, we perpetuate a mindset that makes us think in black-and-white. We only see perfect vs. us. If we continue as a perfectionist, we imprison ourselves into this false dichotomy where there’s only the perfect ideal and everything else that doesn’t measure up. We start thinking that we’re either Karena and Katrina from Tone-It-Up or we’re a piece of shit, because perfectionism doesn’t let us see that middle ground. And let’s be real, that middle ground is what helps us make progress. (See how stopped falling off the healthy eating bandwagon every single Saturday here)

Wine, Protein, Veggies

During my 10+ year battle with anorexia, I could only think in black-and-white. My brain literally could not see the shades of grey in between.

There was only that 90 minute BodyRockTV workout and sitting on my butt.

I either ate lunch and felt super guilty about it or I didn’t eat and felt in control.

These were my only options.

And by continuing life as a perfectionist, we don’t allow ourselves to see the moderate options in between perfect and imperfect (this is why I felt compelled to create my free training to #EndEatingPerfectionism. See more here).

How you can stop being a perfectionist, too

I hate to break it to you, lovely, but perfection doesn’t work, because a) no one can actually do it, and b) it perpetuates feelings of inadequacy that only lead us to eat more crap, and taking us even farther from our goals. Perfectionism is a myth, and is doing all of us a disservice.

Why?

Perfection is impossible.
Perfectionism sets us up for failure.
Aiming to be perfect is super stressful.
“Perfect” really is unnecessary.
And honestly? It ultimately leads to obsession, restriction, and guilt.

Thankfully. There’s another option.

end eating perfectionism. learn to stop being a perfectionist and actually get consistent with healthy eating.

And I’m going to show you how. Starting on June 26 (MONDAY!), I’ll take you through a free 5-day training via FB live video (don’t forget to follow me) along with my exclusive nutrition workbook. Every night, at 6pm PDT (replays always available), I’ll walk you through a specific strategy that I’ve implemented with myself and my clients to help them eat well without getting obsessive. By the end of the 5 days, you’ll have the tools you need to get consistent with healthy eating once and for all and ditch the perfectionism that’s holding you back.

Grab all the details and get started here

Are you still trying to eat perfectly? 3 reasons it’s not working

If you’re sick of falling short of your perfect nutrition goals and are ready to get consistent once and for all, my #EndEatingPerfectionism free training is a game-changer. Grab all the details here.

Scrolling through Instagram, we see all these women sharing their week’s worth of healthy meals, displayed with pride on their counters as a symbol of their ability to eat perfectly all week long. We can’t help but be inspired by the hundreds of pictures of meal prep containers full of chicken and broccoli.

Motivated by others’ self discipline, we believe we can eat perfectly, too. Whether it’s prepping meals ahead of time or following a strict meal plan, we’re constantly aiming for perfection when it comes to eating.

And still, with all of our best intentions, we end up letting our prepped food wilt in tupperware, noshing on ice cream after a stressful Thursday at work, or waiting for a massive cheat day on Saturday. 

We feel so frustrated, wondering how we slipped up again, and make grandiose plans for a stricter, more specific, perfect plan for next time.

But I hate to break it to you, lovely, next time isn’t gonna work either.

Multiple times a week, I hear from women all over the world who are so frustrated with themselves for their inability to eat healthily on a consistent basis (here are the 4 main reasons why they’re struggling). They hold themselves to a super high standard in attempts to eat consistently but but constantly fall short, overindulging and subsequently beating themselves up.

And let’s be real. I get it. For years during my recovery, I would follow a super strict meal plan until Friday night. With all my willpower gone, I’d drink a few too many Mike’s HardER Lemonades and have one too many bites of ice cream. By the next morning, I’d be beating myself up incessantly, wondering how it was possible that I slipped up again…just like last week.

I now realize, as a personal trainer and nutrition coach, that my willpower was not the problem; my perfect eating goals were. Although there are hundreds of coaches and trainers recommending their clients eat perfectly, I believe that’s the biggest reason we all still struggle to stay consistent with healthy eating.

Three reasons perfect eating is failing you

Perfect eating is stressful.

Everything gets so much harder when we try to eat perfectly. Our social life goes out the window.

Eating out with friends is too difficult, because we can’t control everything that goes onto our plate. Instead, we feel like we have to prepare all our food ourselves.

Happy hours are off the table, because we can’t fit alcohol and bar snacks into our meal plan. These little indulgences are just too much.

mimosa cups

As we aim for perfect, we narrow in on the minute details of our eating, making every decision a little more difficult. It’s this difficulty that stresses us out to the point of giving up.

Sure, it may not happen immediately, but eventually we stop being able to navigate all of complexity, so we fall off the wagon.

On the other hand, finding a sustainable eating solution eliminates food stress so that we can stay consistent once and for all. In my #EndEatingPerfectionism series, I’ll teach you exactly how to eat well without getting obsessive, using the exclusive strategies I’ve employed with my clients. Grab all the details and get your workbook here.

Perfect eating makes us restrict.

For years, I battled with eating perfectionism too. I tried EVERYTHING to eat clean and perfectly. All week long, I’d eat only the foods my trainer wanted me to eat: so many dry chicken breasts, soggy broccoli, and brown rice (I hate rice). I restricted all week long.

And, every Saturday morning, I found myself staring in the mirror, so frustrated that I drank 3 Mike’s HardER Lemonades. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t just make myself eat perfectly like everyone I saw on Instagram.

Wine, Protein, Veggies

But here’s the thing. Perfection doesn’t work, because it makes us restrict our eating in the name of being perfect. And that’s why perfectionism is a myth, and is doing all of us a disservice, because our continual restriction and bingeing keeps us from eating well.

Perfect eating makes us feel like failures.

If perfect is actually impossible, aiming for perfect eating means we inevitably fall short, doesn’t it? Even if we’re eating pretty well, we look in the mirror, frustrated that we couldn’t just resist that chocolate in the break room.

These feelings of guilt and failure hold us back and keep us from staying consistent, don’t they? When we feel guilty, we restrict even more. And that restriction? It makes us binge more later.

And let’s be real. Feeling like a failure serves no one.

I know perfectionism is our default, but it doesn’t have to be. There is another way to eat well, see results, and feel better…without all the guilt.

I wanna show you how.

 

In my #EndEatingPerfectionism 5-day free video training series on FB live (from June 26-30), I’ll take you through the 5 strategies (one per day) I’ve used with myself and my clients to help them eat well without getting obsessive. Using the tools included in my free workbook (grab your copy early here), you’ll be able to get consistent with healthy eating and ditch the perfectionism that’s keeping you from reaching your goals. I can’t wait to get started!

Grab all the details and join me, here.

Conventional wisdom touts the importance of listening to our bodies. I swear, in every single workout video I watch and fitness blog post I read, we're told to "listen to your body." But what about when we have no effing clue what that means? That's why I'm sharing my three best tips to listen to your body, even if you don't know wtf that means.

3 ways to listen to your body when you don’t know how

Conventional wisdom touts the importance of listening to our bodies. I swear, in every single workout video I watch and fitness blog post I read, we’re told to “listen to your body.”

But what about when we have no effing clue what that means?

For years, as I worked through my eating disorder, doctors told me to listen to my body. After being put on bed rest for three days because my heart rate was grounds for hospitalization, I remember my doctor telling me I could do light yoga or go for a walk, if I “listened to my body.” I shifted my weight on that exam room table, hearing the crinkly paper under butt, trying to figure out a way to respond. I realized I had no idea what the fuck it actually meant to listen to my body.

I had gotten so good at tuning out my body’s signals–hunger signals, exhaustion signals–that I couldn’t even hear them anymore.

Sound familiar?

Whether we’re eating disorder survivors, hardcore fitness enthusiasts, or perpetual dieters, we get good at ignoring our bodies. And sometimes ignoring our body’s signals can even help us at times.

Pushing through the discomfort in a tough workout

Ignoring that 3pm sugar craving when we’re trying to lose weight

But what do we do when we’re told to listen to our bodies after years of ignoring them?

Simple.

We start incorporating little actions that (1) help our bodies recover from our intense exercise and attempts at perfect nutrition and (2) help us get just a little more in tune with ourselves. Below are my top three strategies.

3 ways to listen to your body (when you have no idea how)

Conventional wisdom touts the importance of listening to our bodies. I swear, in every single workout video I watch and fitness blog post I read, we're told to "listen to your body." But what about when we have no effing clue what that means? That's why I'm sharing my three best tips to listen to your body, even if you don't know wtf that means.

Get more sleep

The average American gets 6.8 hours of sleep per night (source – Gallup poll) compared to the expert recommendation of 7-9 hours of sleep per night.

And here’s the thing: sleep is soooooo important (love this PN article on sleep) to how we feel every day, our ability to recover from our workouts, and even our body composition.

So, if we don’t know how to listen to our bodies, getting more sleep is a safe bet. Because, honestly, everybody could use more sleep. I prioritized sleep when I had no idea how the F to listen to my body. It was the first change I made. I’ve felt worlds better since getting at least 7 hours of sleep on weeknights and 9 hours on weekends (#grandmastatus).

Eat more protein

Most of the women who come to me for nutrition guidance aren’t eating enough protein to sustain their active lifestyles. So, if we’re having a hard time listening to our bodies, adding more protein is a good place to start.

Protein

Increasing protein intake is an awesome step towards listening to our bodies, because:

  • It keeps us feeling satisfied.
  • It helps stabilize our blood sugar over long periods of time.
  • It’s also much harder for our bodies to turn into body fat.
  • It’s the building block to rebuild muscle tissue broken down by exercise.

If we try to eat some protein every time we feel hungry, we can naturally decrease our cravings, help our bodies build, and stop getting hungry 10 minutes after we finish a meal.

Prioritize recovery

Recovery is super important and super un-sexy, I get it. For those of us who love working out, taking a rest or recovery day sounds awful.

dynamic stretching

The more intensely you are training, the more recovery your body needs! So, really, the less we want to take a day off, the more we need it.

So, if you’re struggling to listen to your body and you’re working out consistently, it’s time to prioritize recovery. Below are my favorite ways to facilitate recovery in my weekly routine.

  • Foam roll tight muscles.
  • Take an epsom salt bath.
  • Practice yoga or meditation.
  • Watch a funny movie (no really).
  • Take a long walk instead of hitting the gym.
  • Rest 1-2 days per week at a minimum.

(I wrote a whole post about recovery a while back. If you want more info on how many rest days to take per week, see here)

Using these three simple tips helped me start to get a little more in touch with what my body needed. Implement them all or try one at a time to listen to your body.

This week, I’m getting super real with my tribe about how I stopped exercising seven days a week and attempting perfect, restrictive eating. So if you want to get up close and personal with me and get my best stuff, join my tribe asap. Let’s talk 🙂

Would you call this an eating disorder phase?

I almost deleted this post at least three times. But I’m sharing anyway. Sometimes, something fires us up so much that we have to share, even if it’s super scary, vulnerable, and raw.

A few months back,  I was listening to a recent episode of one of my favorite podcasts, The FitCast (be sure to check it out). I was especially excited to listen to two strong women talk about strength training (another fave). I was minutes away from my office, I had just exited the freeway. There were only a few minutes left when one of the guests made a passing comment that irked me.

I went through a disordered eating phase.

As I heard those words and drove into the parking structure, something turned in my stomach. It felt like she punched me in the stomach with just 7 words. And although I knew exactly what I was feeling, it took me a little longer to understand why.

I sat with those awful feelings and that pain all morning. I prayed about it. I talked with a close friend. And sometime in the middle of all that, I realized what hurt so much.

I didn’t have a disordered eating phase. I had an eating disorder.

I had a brutal battle with anorexia for over ten years. It made my high school and college years miserable at times. It made me, at 5’7″, beat myself up when I could no longer fit into size 2 jeans (thank GOD I found Stitch Fix). It made traveling a stressful nightmare, lost me a job I loved, and taxed relationships with my family and friends. It wasn’t a “phase” that I could snap out of, like my emo Evanescence phase.

If it were, I could have stopped self-destructing before my fifteenth birthday (not my twenty-fifth).

If it were a phase, March 31, 2005, the date of my clinical diagnosis, would not still stand out in my mind. I had been diagnosed with anorexia nervosa the day before. I kept saying to myself: no no no, there must be a mistake; I was just trying to lose a few pounds. I’m not super skinny like all the real anorexic girls. I didn’t even cry when she told me I needed more help than she could offer. I just kept thinking to myself, I’ll just start eating again; I’ll be fine by summer.

It was the next day that I realized that this quick fix would not be happening. In an attempt to “get better,” I forced myself to bring more for lunch but when I was faced with the prospect of eating the additional 35-calorie wedge of Laughing Cow Light Cheese, I burst into tears and threw the cheese away, disgusted with myself. It was in that moment that I understood that I had a problem. A normal, rational person who was trying to lose weight would be able to eat more if a doctor told them they needed to: I couldn’t.

Does that sound like a phase to you?

I look around the fitness industry, and all I see are trainers who make disordered eating this messy thing all women share. And honestly, there is some validity to that. Many women have an unhealthy relationship with food, whether that’s over-eating, under-eating, emotional eating, or assigning morality to the foods they eat.

I almost deleted this post at least three times. But I'm sharing anyway. Sometimes, something fires us up so much that we have to share, even if it's super scary, vulnerable, and raw. Finally sharing my story as an eating disorder survivor. But eating disorders are a different beast all together. When trainers comment about their “disordered eating phase” they minimize the struggle many of us faced and fought our way through. I’m not okay with that.

I’m an eating disorder survivor.

So instead of alluding gently to an unhealthy relationship with food and exercise, I’m speaking my truth and standing up for the women who have reclaimed their lives from eating disorder hell. Instead of continuing to hide my battle scars, I’ll continue to speak out about about my journey to moderation and accepting my body, because the scars make me the woman I am today.

A coach, dog mom, partner, and friend

A personal trainer, nutrition coach, and eating disorder survivor (warrior).

I’m passionate about helping women move through their eating disorders, battles or phases.

Just a couple years ago, I wanted to make a change but my doctor’s voice rang in my head: you’ll never be able to diet or lose weight like a “normal person.”

Needless to say, I thought losing weight, getting stronger, and feeling better were out of reach. I was so scared that my eating disorder tendencies and obsession would stop me from reaching my goals.

But now? In 2017, I’m living, breathing proof that it is possible to love our bodies and also change them, WITHOUT reverting back to our eating disorder tendencies.

My friends, are you ready? If you want to take that step towards lovingly changing your body, without obsession, restriction or stress, let’s talk. I’m passionate about working with YOU to reach your goals, because life is so much better outside of restriction.

Full Body, Bodyweight Stair Workout

When we are pressed for time and have zero equipment, sometimes it’s best to turn to the things that are already around us. Whether traveling or at home, we often aren’t far away from a set of stairs. So that kind of makes it the perfect piece of workout equipment, doesn’t it? That’s why I decided to share today’s newest full body stair workout.

It’s been a while since I’ve shared a workout, so after Andrew and my trip to Healdsburg (see the shenanigans on Instagram), I wanted to create a workout we can do while traveling.

As I started thinking about the workout I wanted to create, I started thinking about the time in high school I went to Washington DC on a class trip. Thousands of high schoolers flocked to DC to see the 2008 election. Apparently, my school had worked out some sort of agreement with the hotel that barred the students from using the hotel gym. Now, I was in the throws of my eating disorder and absolutely panicked at not being able to work out. We were seeing museums and sitting in buses all day. There was no way I wasn’t working out.

I remember weighing the options in my mind and settling on using the stairs. I was so scared to wake up my roommates that I simply walked up and down ten flights of stairs for an hour.

Looking back now, I had options (quick bodyweight circuit in the hallway anyone?) but this memory got me inspired to create a workout JUST using the stairs. I’m sharing that workout with you, today.

What is it?

Today’s stair workout will work your entire body. One round will take about 6 minutes to complete, and I recommend completing 2-3 rounds for a full workout.

Today's full body bodyweight stair workout will work your entire body. One round will take about 6 minutes to complete, and I recommend completing 2-3 rounds for a full workout.

As always, be sure to incorporate a warm up and some activation per the DARR Formula for Effective Workouts.

If you’d like to follow along with me, you can use one of my favorite warm up routines.

What do I need to complete this stair workout?

You’ll need a flight of stairs. That’s it! I’m using the stairs (there are 12 steps) leading up to my second story apartment

If you have more stairs (like a set of bleachers), that works too. I’d suggest breaking up the exercises into reps of 12-16.

How should I incorporate this stair workout into my routine?

This stair workout incorporates both conditioning and a bit of strength training. Given that we’re not lifting super heavy weights, you can include this workout 2-3x per week in your workout plan (learn more about how I create my workout plans here).

As always, take it to your level. I’ll provide modifications and form cues in the demo video below. If you’re looking to progress this workout without adding any equipment, I’ll show you how here.

Let me know if you have questions! I hope you enjoy this one (more bodyweight workouts here) as much as I did! If you want more real time workout videos, nutrition coaching, and email access to me, sign up for my free fitness challenge.

What’s your workout today!?

What if you really hate working out?

Exercise. It’s either a passion, source of enjoyment, or the bane of our existence. There doesn’t seem to be much of a middle ground. But whether we hate working out or love it, we know it has tons of benefits.

So when I got an email from a woman earlier this week saying she knows she should be more active but she hates working out, I felt compelled to write about the topic.

As a personal trainer and nutrition coach, I work with women all around the world to help them get more consistent with their workouts and nutrition without becoming obsessive. And the truth is, not all of them come to me loving fitness [start with my free fitness challenge if you want some guidance]. So sometimes, we have to work through why they aren’t wanting to exercise.

Through working with lots of women, I’ve found that asking three simple questions can help us be more consistent with our workouts even if we’re not currently enjoying them.

Three questions to ask yourself if you’re hating your workouts

Do you hate working out? Through working with lots of women, I've found that asking three simple questions can help us be more consistent with our workouts even if we're not currently enjoying them.

Do you have a skills based goal?

Often, we exercise without specific goals. We try to drag ourselves to the gym because it’s “good for us” but we have no real reason for being there. That’s where skills based goals come into play.

A key way to achieve long term fitness motivation is to focus on building skill competency. In other words, emphasize skill development in your workouts. By picking a new sport or skill, you’ll set goals that revolve around improving yourself. This is HUGE with adult exercisers, because research shows that skill development is strongly correlated with greater exercise participation over the long term.

Spend some time thinking of a skill you want to develop and make a plan. This could include joining an adult sports league, mastering a tough movement pattern (like maybe a Turkish Get-Up), or increasing your squat weight.

Are you focusing only on outcomes?

Outcomes goals are the most common type of goal, right? We workout because we want to lose 10lbs, fit into our skinny jeans without sucking our stomachs in, or rock that LBD for our high school reunion. But what about when we reach (or fail to reach) those goals?

I’ll tell you…we start to hate our workouts.

I’m not saying to throw away outcome goals all together, in fact, they help you get started, but if you also work to value the actual act of exercising, you’ll achieve much more long term success.

Start thinking about all the positives that come with working out. These will be super individualized and personal but some examples of how to focus on the actual act of working out include mantras like:

  • Doing circuit workouts are fun/enjoyable.
  • I love improving my kettlebell skills.
  • By working out, I’ll be able to stay active for the rest of my life.
  • I build a community of friends through my workouts.

To get your personal mantras, ask yourself questions like:

  • How does exercise help me live the life I want?
  • What do I enjoy about working out?
  • How am I building social connections through working out?
  • How does exercise make me feel?

Are you not moving in a way that brings you joy?

Too often, I talk with women who are doing workouts that bore the crap out of them because they think they’re what they *should* be doing.  Their old personal trainer said HIIT was best for fat loss. They read on Tone It Up that we have to lift itty-bitty weights. BodyRockTV says intensity is key to getting results. So they drag themselves to the gym to do the next popular workout…even if they hate it.

Lovely, this just won’t work. If consistency with working out is our goal, we gotta move in ways that bring us joy so we actually want to keep moving.

It’s time we stop punishing ourselves with movement and find ways of working out that bring us joy. When we actually enjoy the process of what we’re doing, motivation stops becoming an issue (see the research/my take on it here) and consistency comes naturally (see the three most common workout consistency mistakes here).

If you wanna learn more about how I motivate myself to workout, I’d love you to join my email tribe (sign up in the sidebar to the right or at this link). Each week, I share my best stuff on fitness, nutrition, and getting over the obsessive BS with my tribe. I’d love to share it with you. Sign up now.

Whether workouts are second nature or we're still trying to build the habit, shortening our workouts can be a game changer. In fact, as a nutrition coach and personal trainer, I find myself consistently telling my clients to workout for LESS time. It's counterintuitive, I know, but this simple shift can be the best thing you can do for your fitness. Below are my top two reasons to shorten your workout!

2 reasons to shorten your workout

Do you think a workout has to be 60 minutes? Or maybe you think it’s impossible to see changes in your body if you’re exercising for less than an hour a day.

Yeah. I used to think that too.

Somewhere along the line, we got it into our heads that an hour of exercise per day was *best.* To be totally honest, I’m not really sure where that came from; the USDA and other government agencies, popular fitness culture, and PE teachers around the world all seem to profess the importance of getting an hour of physical activity per day.

All throughout high school, college, and my early twenties, I went through my life thinking if I didn’t have that hour long workout it somehow didn’t count. Every time I laced up my shoes to go for a run, I’d set that stopwatch for 60 minutes. When I’d search through FitnessBlender’s video archives for my daily workout, I’d mentally tabulate if the videos added up to an hour. As I stepped on the elliptical machine, I’d calculate how much cardio I’d need before starting my arm workout to hit that 60 minute mark.

I felt constant anxiety any time I exercised for less than an hour and constantly thought about how to fit in my long ass workouts.

And let’s be real, this sucked.

Whether workouts are second nature or we’re still trying to build the habit, shortening our workouts can be a game changer. In fact, as a nutrition coach and personal trainer, I find myself consistently telling my clients to workout for LESS time.

It’s counterintuitive, I know, but this simple shift can be the best thing you can do for your fitness. Below are my top two reasons to do a short workout!

2 reasons to shorten your workout TODAY

Whether workouts are second nature or we're still trying to build the habit, shortening our workouts can be a game changer. In fact, as a nutrition coach and personal trainer, I find myself consistently telling my clients to workout for LESS time. It's counterintuitive, I know, but this simple shift can be the best thing you can do for your fitness. Below are my top two reasons to shorten your workout!

You can dial up the intensity

When we have to do a full 60 minutes on the treadmill, it’s nearly impossible to push ourselves to the maximum intensity. From the mental standpoint, it’s hard to motivate ourselves to go hard when we know we have to keep on going for another 40 minutes. And from the physical standpoint, our bodies can’t go all out for long periods of time.

So when we work out for long durations, intensity drops significantly.

On the flip side, when we shorten our workouts, we can work much harder. And honestly? Intensity is what brings the results.

When performed correctly, high intensity training majorly increases excess post-exercise oxygen consumption [source]. This means extra calorie burn even AFTER you finish your workout while your body is making up for all the energy it used during your sweat session. Intense training is what gives you the afterburn effect all the online fitness websites reference.

You will be more consistent

If you’re like me, you don’t often have time for 60 minute workouts. However, a 20 minute workout is super reasonable AND effective. If you cram intensity into 20 minutes, you can still get results, because you’re forcing your body to work hard, instead of going through the motions on the elliptical for an hour.

Here’s the thing, lovely. 60 minutes of exercise is great…if it’s doable, stress-free, and fun. But for most of us, that’s just not realistic on our busy (standard) days. 60 minute workouts are for that best case scenario, when we have a day off work, the fur children (kids) are taken care of, and our schedule is wide open. They’re not for Monday mornings when we have a 9am meeting and the dogs need to go for a walk.

If 60 minute workouts are our default, we inevitably are less consistent.

If our workout routines are all 60 minutes long and we only have thirty minutes, what happens? I’ll tell ya what happens….we slip up. We fall into a fuck it moment and tell ourselves “oh well, I can’t do xyz, so I’ll just get back on track tomorrow.” These moments are what make us inconsistent. I am a huge proponent of shorter workouts–not because 60 minute sweat sessions aren’t valuable but because they can hinder consistency and progress.

Before implementing shorter workouts, I’d feel overwhelmed by the amount of time it’d take to complete a workout. On days where I didn’t have at least an hour to devote to working out, I’d just skip it and make myself eat less to “make up for” my missed workout. Now, I’ve cut my workout time in half without compromising results.

If you’re ready to try out some shorter workouts, I’d love you to check out my free 7-day fitness challenge. Over the course of 7 days, we’ll work together to get your workouts short, consistent, and efficient.

How long are your daily workouts?

dynamic stretching

How to create the best 20 minute workout

We head to the gym or lace up our running shoes most days. Maybe we’re 100% consistent with our workouts or maybe we’re still struggling to build that habit. But either way, we can all identify with the nagging question: did I do enough?

I talk with women all the time who tell me they’re hitting the gym, getting consistent, but they never feel like they’ve done enough. When they get home, they are constantly beating themselves up, wondering if they should have done more, pushed harder, or stayed longer.

They’re never finishing a workout feeling awesome. And that sucks, right? This makes working out 10000000x less fun AND it makes makes staying consistent with our workouts even more difficult. (are you making one of the top 3 workout consistency mistakes?

I get it. When I first graduated college and started trying to make changes to my body composition, I was working out a TON. I did at least two BodyRockTV or FitnessBlender workouts per day and ran three days a week. I remember waking up at 6am, rolling out of bed, and grabbing my computer to choose my daily workout. First, I filtered out the ‘too easy’ workouts (anything level 1-4). Then, I reviewed the level 5 (or most advanced) FitnessBlender workouts and picked 2-3 to complete that morning. Even after killing myself for an hour, I would feel like I should have worked harder or done more. It was an awful feeling.

So, with lots of experimentation, I’ve found a formula for creating the best 20 minute workout, and I’m sharing it today. I’ve found that the best 20 minute workouts have four components, so  if we include these, we can rest assured we’ve created the best 20 minute workout out there and stop questioning whether we’ve done enough.

Why 20 minutes?

When we’re training for RESULTS (whether aesthetic or performance), intensity trumps duration. When we work out for short periods of time, we are able to push harder and challenge our bodies more than if we drag ourselves through a 60 minute session.

By implementing 20 minute workouts into our routines, we stop making the “I don’t have time” excuse. Through working with women around the world, I’ve found that the 20-30 minute workout is a #ConsistencyKey (a high impact behavior that make us significantly more consistent).

With that, let’s see this formula for the best 20 minute workout, shall we?

The DARR Formula for creating the best 20 minute workout

So, with lots of experimentation, I've found a formula for creating the best 20 minute workout, and I'm sharing it today. I've found that the best 20 minute workouts have four components, so  if we include these, we can rest assured we've created the best 20 minute workout out there and stop questioning whether we've done enough.

Dynamic warm up

When we’re pressed for time, our default is to skip the warm up (*I’m guilty of this*). This is a big no-no.

Warm ups decrease likelihood of injury and help our bodies prepare for intense movement.

If we don’t have time, just include 2 minutes of dynamic stretching and light cardio (think jumping jacks, high knees).

dynamic stretching

Activation round

OK. We’ve used 2 minutes for our warm up. 18 minutes to go in the best 20 minute workout. The next step of the DARR Formula is activating the muscle groups to be used in the workout. With DARR, we focus on full body workouts, so I recommend choosing 1-2 movements per muscle group (listed below).

Lower body

Glute bridges

Glute bridge marching

Bodyweight squats

Bodyweight lateral lunges

Upper body

Arm swings

Arm circles

Elevated push ups

Core

Bird dog

Toe taps

Dead bug

Plank

Alternatively, you can go through one round of my general warm up or my glute and core activation warm up. Both incorporate the dynamic warm up and activation elements.

Resistance training

When pressed for time, we want to make the most of the time we have. So for the remaining 16 minutes of our workout, we will do some high intensity resistance training. My favorite way to do this is implementing Metabolic Effect’s Rest Based Training (RBT) principle (see more here). With RBT, we work as hard as we possibly can for the prescribed interval, resting only as needed.

The simplest way to do this is to do a 4×4 circuit: four exercises (1 total body, 1 lower body, 1 upper body, and 1 core exercise), 1 minute per exercise, four times through.

Alternatively, below are a couple of my favorite full body workouts that you can use for the resistance training portion of the workout.

My go-to full body workout

25th birthday inspired full body workout

10 minute full body ladder workout

Full body chained complex workout

Metabolic conditioning full body workout

Recover

Here’s our bonus section. Before we get on with our days, the best 20 minute workout’s gotta include some sort of recovery or cool down.

Foam rolling, stretching, and dog walking are my favorite forms of post workout recovery. Even when pressed for time, taking just a few minute to breath deeply and take a walk can make a huge difference to your performance longer term.

Use the DARR Formula to create the best 20 minute workout out there, and let me know how it goes!

So, with lots of experimentation, I've found a formula for creating the best 20 minute workout, and I'm sharing it today. I've found that the best 20 minute workouts have four components, so  if we include these, we can rest assured we've created the best 20 minute workout out there and stop questioning whether we've done enough.

What’s your favorite 20 minute workout? 

4 reasons we still struggle with consistency

Consistency with healthy eating and exercise is really tough. Women email me almost every single day, struggling, because they just can’t seem to stay consistent with healthy eating and exercise. They know that eating healthy and exercising are “good for them” but have a hard time implementing what they “should” do when life is crazy, their schedules change, or their motivation wavers. And when they don’t stay consistent? They’re overwhelmed with stress and guilt. Yuck.

And we’ve all been there, right?

I struggled every single day before I understood WHY I was inconsistent.  I was obsessed with perfectly following a meal and training plan during college and my first few years of adulting. Any time that I had one treat, shortened my workout, or ate a little too much, I’d be so mad at myself.

One time in particular stands out. It was Friday night after a long work week. I was sitting on the couch, finishing up some last minute emails, when Andrew got home. And because it was Friday, he came bearing gifts: a bunch of cranberry Mike’s HardER lemonades, because he knew they were my favorite. I wouldn’t let myself have one all week, so he brought me one to celebrate the weekend. I drank the whole damn thing (I deserved it). And over the course of the night? I drank two more!

By Saturday morning, I was a wreck. I looked in the mirror disgusted with myself for being so inconsistent with my nutrition. To make up for my inconsistency, I found the most advanced, longest FitnessBlender workout and made myself do it to “burn off” the extra calories. I beat myself up all weekend. 

Now, I know the things that actually make a difference when we’re trying to see results, and I stop beating myself up for the little things. I want to help other women stop struggling and enjoy their lives instead of being bogged down by constant thoughts of food and exercise in the name of consistency.

So, let’s break it down. Over the last year of working with dozens of women online, I’ve found that we generally are inconsistent for a couple reasons. We can turn things around (let me help) as soon as we realize WHY we’re inconsistent. 

4 reasons consistency is a struggle

Over the last year of working with dozens of women online, I've found that we generally are inconsistent for a couple reasons. We can turn things around as soon as we realize WHY we're inconsistent.

We’re overwhelmed

When we try to get consistent, there are so many things we want to change. We want to eat more veggies, drink less alcohol, workout more, eliminate sugar, etc etc etc.

We often take on more than we can handle when we’re exposed to a hundred options. This makes us feel overwhelmed by all the changes in our lives.

And what happens when we feel overwhelmed? We stop taking action and moving forward.

To stop the overwhelm, I’ve created a cheat sheet to consistent healthy eating. With lots of experimentation, I found a way to cut to the middle between deprivation and guilt. That’s why I created my #ConsistentNutrition Cheatsheet to help all of us implement the things we know we should do with our nutrition. There are no crazy meal plans or calorie counts, just the handful things you need to implement daily to eat moderately and find that middle between restriction and guilt. Grab your copy here. 

We’re under-prepared

Trying to get more consistent without an explicit plan of what we want to implement is like heading out on a road trip without Google maps.

We’re gonna get lost.

Sooooo…why do we do that with our health goals?

Sure, we may download a workout plan and food list but we don’t make plans on exactly how we’ll implement these changes into our lives. That makes it way to easy to get off track as soon as we face a tough situation. Instead, we need to take the guesswork out of getting consistent by planning out the situations we anticipate.  

We’re busy

Healthy eating and exercising take a lot of time. These can be the first habits to fall by the wayside when things get crazy busy.

For years, I was trapped by 60 minute workouts. Even though I wasn’t seeing results, I thought I had to workout  for 60+ minutes a day, which was a huge time suck. None of the trainers I worked with or plans I found online taught me how to exercise for LESS time and get BETTER results. 

We’re unaccountable

There are so many programs out there that give you one-size-fits-all meal plan and workout program without any customization, coaching, or accountability. If we do a Google search right now, we can find thousands of free downloadable workout and nutrition programs. Pick any of them, and I guarantee we’re going to get the same results: inconsistency, frustration, and a shit ton of guilt about why we couldn’t just stick with it.

This is not our fault. These downloadable, free programs forget the most valuable part of any workout or nutrition program: one-on-one support. Whether that’s on-the-fly troubleshooting, accountability check-ins, or just being there with you, one-on-one guidance is the magic sauce to finally getting consistent with your healthy eating and exercise. In all my programs, I offer lots of ways to connect with me so that you always feel accountable to someone for the changes you want to make in your life.

What helps you be more consistent?

Three workout mistakes that are keeping you inconsistent

Struggling to stay consistent with our workout routine sucks. Sometimes we’re on it. Our workouts fit perfectly into our schedule, our motivation is high, and we’ve got tons of energy. All is good. Until, suddenly, out of nowhere, we’re sitting on the couch watching the Bachelor, realizing it’s been two weeks since we last hit the gym.

Whoops.

I get it. I hear from women all the time who are working so hard to get consistent with their fitness. They know that eating healthy and exercising is “good for us” but they can have a hard time implementing. They buy countless online training programs, download free workout templates, and sign up for Classpass (see why you’re not getting the results you want here), believing that this time will be different, but they’re still missing workouts. (If this sounds like you, my free fitness challenge could help! Sign up here.)

In our minds, it shouldn’t be so difficult. We shouldn’t continue to struggle even when we *know* working out is super important–and even a priority.

Well, I’ve found that we struggle to make our workouts consistent, because we’re making the same we’re-doing-the-best-we-can-and-trying-to-do-all-the-right-things kind of mistakes over and over.

No more.

Today, I’m sharing the top three workout mistakes that are keeping us from consistency in our workouts AND how to overcome each workout mistake using a #ConsistencyKey. A #ConsistencyKey is a high-impact behavior that makes a huge impact on our ability to be consistent. If you’re new to exercise or struggling to get consistent once and for all, it’s time to check yourself.

Three common workout mistakes that keep us inconsistent

Still missing workouts? Check yourself. Are you making one of these mistakes? #3 was the hardest one for me to fix!

Workout mistake #1: we’re doing workouts we don’t love

Our old personal trainer said HIIT was best for fat loss. We read on Tone It Up that we have to lift itty-bitty weights. BodyRockTV says intensity is key to getting results. [Insert source here] said we need to do [insert workout here], so we drag ourselves to the gym to do the next popular workout…even if we hate it.

Lovely, this just isn’t worth it. If consistency is our goal, we gotta move in ways that bring us joy so we actually want to keep moving.

#ConsistentKey Solution: Change it up!

Just a couple weeks ago, I was checking in with a client of mine who was scared to let me know she wasn’t super excited about doing a particular workout in her program. She told me “I know it’s good for me, so I do it anyway.”

Full stop.

Instead of preaching the benefits of a particular style of workout, we pivoted, discussed her exact goals for the next two weeks, and created a new plan she was actually excited about. And you know what? She crushed every single workout in that new phase.

It’s time we stop punishing ourselves with movement and find ways of working out that bring us joy. When we actually enjoy the process of what we’re doing, motivation stops becoming an issue (see the research/my take on it here) and consistency comes naturally.

Workout mistake #2: we’re don’t have a plan

When consistency becomes an issue, self-discipline or willpower will never be our solution. Too often, we try relying on self-discipline, which sets us up to fail.

Instead, I’m a huge proponent of doing all things nutrition and fitness without any willpower and with a lot of planning. It sounds so simple but it’s true. We don’t just skip work meetings because we’re tired. We don’t no-show dinner with friends because we’re stressed about school (well most of the time). But we do this with our workouts all the time.

#ConsistentKey Solution: 3 S Formula for Consistency

By implementing this formula [read the full breakdown here], missing workouts will be a thing of the past.

Schedule

As with anything else in life, failing to plan is essentially planning to fail. So, when it comes to our workouts, we’ve got to schedule them. I recommend taking 10 minutes every Sunday to review the upcoming week and insert workouts into particular dates and times.

Start ahead

While having a plan is definitely helpful, we need to take it one step further and really prepare for each workout sesh. I take it a step further and start ahead mentally by asking myself the following questions before every workout:

What exercises are included in my workout?

Do I need any modifications? Progressions?

What’s my goal for the workout?

How much time will I need to complete the workout?

Stay accountable

It’s incredibly valuable to have someone hold us accountable for the workouts we want to complete. A simple social media check-in can be sufficient but I like to take it a step further. This is why I incorporate accountability elements in every single program I do. Accountability is SO important to our long term consistency success.

Workout mistake #3: we’re forcing ourselves to abide by the “60 minute workout rule”

For years, I believed that I had to exercise for an hour in order for it to *count.* If I couldn’t get in a 60 minute sweat sesh, I’d skip my workout.

I remember waking up late for class in college and realizing I didn’t have enough time for my crazy long workout session. Instead of throwing on my shoes and doing a quick bodyweight circuit in my dorm, I huffed off to class, feeling like a failure.

And that’s so common, isn’t it? We get down on ourselves and feel guilty when we can’t fit in that hour long workout, regardless of the circumstances. 

#ConsistencyKey Solution: reset expectations asap

We gotta get our minds right and reset our expectations.

Before implementing shorter workouts, I’d feel overwhelmed by the amount of time it’d take to complete a workout. On days where I didn’t have at least an hour to devote to working out, I’d just skip it and make myself eat less to “make up for” my missed workout. Now, I’ve cut my workout time in half without compromising results.

Instead of focusing on duration, I encourage my #SpringIntoConsistency ladies and clients to focus on intensity. Whether I’m outside running sprints, doing bodyweight metabolic conditioning, or modifying a strength session to be more metabolic, I LOVE making my workouts intense and super fast.

Why?

They rev our metabolism, making that 60 minute, slow and steady workout pretty pointless. You can bet that’s why all #SpringIntoConsistency workouts are less than 30 minutes!

When train intensely, it majorly increases excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. This means extra calorie burn even AFTER we finish our workouts. While we are resting and recovering, our bodies are making up for all the energy it used during that sweat session.

Before I started training efficiently, I’d spend hours every day working out. And if my nutrition was less than perfect? I’d punish myself with excessive exercise. Now, working out almost every day is just part of my lifestyle. I don’t think about it, and I do it, even when I’m not feeling motivated.

How do you stay consistent with your workouts?