These are by far my very favorite pieces of equipment for a 10-minute workout. Actually these are my favorite for ANY type of strength training workout. They are my top recommendations for when someone asks what equipment they should purchase. They are inexpensive, can be found anywhere from Target to Amazon, and take up very little space when not being used.
This is my #1, go to equipment. Less than $10 and takes up a minuscule amount of room to store. Not only are these bands excellent for adding resistance on their own, but they also can be used in tandem with weights for added resistance and taking your exercise up a level. For example, if you’re completing 1 minute of alternating lunges with an overhead press. You will have weights in your hands for the overheard press that also provides extra weight for the legs, but if you place a resistance band over your legs as well as you are doing the lunges, it creates an even greater strength training to the exercise. One pack comes with 5 different strength levels, and you can layer them if you outgrow the hardest resistance band, making them hard to outgrow completely. You can purchase a set by clicking on the picture below.
2.) 2-3 sets of hand weights
Think about picking weights as a place to start and a place to go, and you’ll also be using them for different muscle groups that have different strengthening needs, so you’ll need several sets. My favorites to start with are either a 3lb, 5lb, 8lb set or a 5lb, 8lb, 10lb set for women or 10lb, 12lb, 15lb or 12lb, 15lb, 18lb set for men. When your completing one of your 1-minute exercises, the weight your choose should make it difficult for you to finish the minute, but not so difficult that you cannot complete the minute or you have to compromise your form to finish. Click on the pictures below for a couple of options on different sets.
3.) A thick yoga mat
As I’ve gotten older I appreciate more and more things that make my body more comfortable and protect my joints. Hence, the thick yoga mat. If we’re going to be doing things that challenge us like push-ups (especially on our knees, but also thinking of your wrists), or planks on our elbows, or kickbacks and leg lifts on our hands and knees, then why don’t we do them on a nice, cushy service. While we are burning and pushing our muscles, we don’t need the added joint pain of doing these exercises on hard, unyielding floors with a thin, unsupportive mat. When it comes to mats…go thick! Click on the picture below for a mat that is a great choice and less then $20!
Several months ago I received a message from my friend, Erin. She wanted to hire me so that I could create a 10-minutes a day strength training workout that she could do 6 days a week using the equipment that she already owned. She described the areas that she wanted to focus on and sent a picture of the equipment that I could use to create her workout program. This was a very unusual request. I had never had this type of request…ever. Never ever. I had choreographed barre routines to requested songs for clients and had developed and created workout routines for clients that were based on the typical 45min to an hour workout, and my clients bought specific equipment needed for the workout or they joined a gym to do so. Never had a client given me such specific and limited guidelines to work with when creating a program. But instead of feeling stifled by her request, I felt intrigued and challenged.
Here was someone who sat down and sincerely thought about what she was lacking, what she needed, and what she could be consistent at when it came to developing her fitness. In her thought process, she discovered that moving and stretching were consistent, between taking walks or bike riding with her family she felt good with her cardio, and she always stretched after, but what she was lacking in was muscle strength and endurance, and the knowledge to develop either. So instead of just contacting me to create a standard routine, she thought about the implementations and requested a routine that would give her maximum consistency. Her thoughtfulness inspired me, so I agreed to create a workout that she could do 10 minutes a day 6 days a week and got to work.
Within the next few days I had her fill out a questionnaire and then I put together a list of exercises that I thought would give her maximum bang for buck. If 10 minutes was the goal, every minute was going to count. We met for an hour, going over the exercises and choosing weights and bands from her equipment for each exercise, and then I went home and put together her 10-minute 6 day workout program as requested. A week later I delivered it to her, and within the next month I realized that there was something to what Erin had inspired in me to create.
You see Erin was SUCCESSFUL at her workouts. Week after week she was completing each day of her program. She was achieving consistency, something that had eluded her, and frankly most people, from implementing a regular fitness program. After six weeks her labs were better, her weight and BMI were down and she had increased muscle strength and development. She had less pain, less inflammation and was handling stress better. She added to her routine on days when time allowed, which also increased her results, but if she couldn’t do more then her 10-minute program, she knew she was fine because she would still get results.
So what made Erin’s successful? Consistency and quality.
We have a very all or nothing attitude when it comes to fitness. If we cannot fit it within a certain criteria…at least 60 min, using certain equipment, taking a particular class, only working out at a gym…than it’s not worth doing. But Erin’s success proves this attitude wrong. Instead of “go big or go home” in fitness, we should be reaching for “go sustainable to be attainable”. Because making our fitness consistent and of good quality will give us the results we are so desperately trying to achieve.
Erin realize this when she thought about what was sustainable for her, during this season of her life. She was not in a season where she could take an hour 6 days a week to work on her strength training, she was not at a place where she could go to the gym 6 days a week and she was not at a place where she could buy specialized fitness equipment. Instead, she figured out what would work for her so that she could be consistent in developing her strength training, and that was 10 minutes a day – 6 days a week, and then hired a professional to give her 10 minutes maximum quality. And it worked! Months down the line, we have met again and she is still checking off her workouts.
So now I challenge you! How can you “go sustainable to be attainable” in your fitness routine? What can you implement today that you will be able to sustain for the year to come?
You don’t need an hour a day, you don’t need fancy equipment or a gym membership or to see a personal trainer every week. You just need to be consistent and make that time count!
I’ve said it once, I’ve said more times then you probably want to hear, but…
Just like with everything in life, the things we do on a daily basis have the most impact.
So if we want to get the rest our bodies and brains need, we must have a routine, things that we do everyday (or evening), that will help facilitate quality rest. For many, finding a routine is where we get lost. We just don’t know how to develop one, or it’s not in the creation of the routine where you struggle, but in its implementation.
I understand this wholly, because I struggle with BOTH. I can desire to create, but won’t take the time to do so or I can create, but not implement. It’s hard, because both take work and diligence. Something that I like to call “spadework”, which I’ll explain further down.
In knowing that I struggle, and knowing that others must struggle as well, I set down to create a 2-week Get Your Rest Challenge to help develop a nightly routine that will support quality rest. I have broken it down into 4 easy steps.
Step 1: Print out the Get Your Rest 2-Week Challenge Worksheet
I find that going to God before I go to bed, not just in prayer, but in his word, really helps prepare me for rest. As you might have read in a previous post from this series, when I lay down for the night I like to go through the A.C.T.S. prayer and the Lord’s prayer before I go to sleep. But before I hit the bed, before I start the teeth brushing and face washing, before the stretching or applying my favorite essential oils, I like to read scripture that reminds why rest is important. Why it’s commanded by God to fulfill just as much as the holy work he’s set out for each of us. For each night of the challenge, pick a scripture that will remind you of the importance of rest and restoration, and write it in the space provided. As you start your evening routine, refer to your worksheet and look up the verse you wrote down. Reminding yourself of why you need quality rest. It can be the same scripture every night or it can be a different piece of scripture each night. It’s whatever works best for you.
Are you stuck on scripture? Not sure which to use? No worries. Below is a list of scripture that speaks to the importance of rest and restorations.
While scripture was probably self-explanatory as to what to write, I know that most of you might be scratching your heads on what I mean by spadework. The definition of the word spadework is “routine or difficult preparatory work.” This is the stuff that we need to do, that we need to do daily, that we KNOW we need to do, to get the best results in whatever we are pursuing. But more often than not, it’s the stuff that we put off, push aside and replace with things that don’t produce the best results.
And what’s worse, is that a lot of times spadework isn’t necessarily hard or takes that much time. But for whatever the reason, whether it’s the routinliness of it or that we just get sucked into our couches watching American Idol, playing games on our phones or surfing our social media, we just don’t seem to want to do that daily preparatory work.
So what does spadework look like for rest?
It’s anything that you need to do every night that will prepare for that quality rest your body and brain desperately need. It can be preparing and drinking sleepytime tea, dry brushing your skin, taking a relaxing shower, applying some essential oils or magnesium lotion, taking some melatonin, practicing some stretches that produce relaxation, preparing your bed for maximum comfy-ness, etc. I think you get the gist. You might need to do all these things, you might only need to do some of them, or you might create some that work just for you (I think warm milk is gross, but if it gets you prepared for quality rest, go for it!). Just make sure these things work for YOU, and in some cases check with your health care provider before taking supplements. Take the time now right out your spadework on the worksheet in the space provided. Remember you can always adjust your spadework as you find new ways to prepare or what works best over others.
Step 3: Dates and Bedtimes
Pick the dates for the 14 days you will be completing your rest challenge, and write them on your worksheet. Next, decide on a bedtime. This can be challenging, because we tend to place expectations that we cannot meet either within the 14-day challenge, or for our future rest routines. At the end of the day, it’s not just about replenishing sleep that we may need to make up over the next 2 weeks, this challenge is to promote a healthy, attainable rest routine that produces the best results. So when it comes to choosing a bedtime, let’s be realistic.
Step 4: Start Challenge
Ready to get some rest? Ready to start a new routine? YOUR ARE READY!
I have discovered that like with most things in life, and with the stress and anxiety we sometimes carry, quality rest doesn’t just happen. You have to be intentional and work for it, again just like most things. So I made a list of my 5 favorite items for creating quality rest. Each of them were picked with great thought, and were gained from adhering to my 3 best practices for quality rest (if you haven’t read that post yet, check it out here).
Here are my top 5 products for quality rest…
Soft comfy pjs
I have always been a t-shirt girl when it comes to bed attire, but after spending time coming up with a better sleep plan, I purchased a pair of very soft and light feeling pjs and I have been a convert ever since. I will take my new pjs over a t-shirt any day (or night actually) of the week! Here are the pjs I purchased.
I would love to just make my room totally dark with every light source carefully covered, but that’s just not my reality, so I brought the dark to me. Investing in a quality sleep mask is important. I had tried cheap, poorly made ones in the past that were not very comfortable. They hindered sleep more than helped it for sure. Look for ones that do not use a lot of elastic and are contoured for your head and eyes. And there’s a bonus, with a sleep mask you can bring the dark with you wherever you travel. This is the sleep mask I use. Click on the picture to order yours.
2. Magnesium Oil
Most people are magnesium deficient, because the current soil that most fruits and vegetables are grown, and the food of most of the animals we eat consume, has been leached of its magnesium. Our food that once supplied us with plenty of magnesium, no longer does so. Magnesium is needed for quality rest because it calms the nervous system preparing our bodies for rest. There are lots of Magnesium supplements that you can take orally, but the best way for magnesium to get into your system is through your skin, and that’s why I recommend a magnesium oil to either spray/rub on your skin or to make a magnesium oil body lotion if you find the strait magnesium oil to be irritating to your skin, or you would like to get a two-fer effect of magnesium and a moisturizing lotion. I love this recipe from Don’t Waste the Crumbs for a Whipped Magnesium body lotion and you can order magnesium oil spray by clicking on the picture below.
Lavender is one of the best known essential oils to create calm and promote rest. There are many different brands with various ranging prices. I like to use Plant Therapy. They are a great company that stands behind their products, seem to have a lot of transparency when it comes to sourcing, processing and ingredients. And finally, they’re economical. If you’re going to use an essential oil on a daily basis, you want it to not only be of excellent quality, but also to not break the bank either. You can purchase a bottle of lavender essential oil by clicking on the pic.
5. Really good sheets
Just like your pjs, how your sheets feel and make you feel comfortable, is important too to quality rest. Definitely look for sheets that are soft, non-sweat inducing and our hypoallergenic. But you should also think about whether the sheets are stain-resistant or fade-resistant or wrinkle-resistant. Just like the expression says, “we eat with our eyes first”, the same can be said for sleep too. When our bed looks wrinkled or stained or old and faded, or any combination of the three, it can make our beds undesirable to us, thus creating poor rest quality. If you look at your bed, and think, “ugh…these sheets are wrinkled and stained, making me feel itchy all over and look like they’re a hundred years old”, would that make you want to jump in it and get some good sleep?…probably not.
Some sheets to consider…(click on pic)
Bonus: A Quality Comforter
When I started this list, I wanted to give you my top 5 rest products, but I also didn’t want those five things to be unattainable financially, so while there are a few more products, like a quality mattress, I would also recommend, I didn’t not want to put anything on the list that cost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. I wanted my list to attainable for most people, so I capped my list at products that were not over $50 (ps-most, if not all are under $30). But if you were to ask me if there was something else you could get to help with sleep, I would say a comforter. For a lot of us, we want to feel warm and secure in our beds, and a comforter provides that, even in those hot months (I live in the south, I know what I’m talking about). However, that warm secure feeling that we start off in our comforter as we drift off to sleep can later in the night turn our bodies into sweaty, uncomfortable states. And not very conducive to staying asleep to say the least, plus nobody wants to wake up in the middle of the night feeling like they desperately need to shower.
So finding a comforter that makes you feel warm and secure, but doesn;t cause a sweat fest is ideal. There’s several choices in brands, but sticking with an alternative comforter made of bamboo is your best bet. Bamboo does not retain heat and kick it back into your body like traditional comforters do. It allows heat to be transferred instead of stored, keeping you warm, but not baking.
If you’re in the market, check this comforter out…click on pic!
And there it is…my 5 favorite products (plus a bonus) for creating better rest. Now go forth, and sleep well.
I found that things that work well in my life, that contribute to my health and well-being take thoughtfulness, work, and diligence. So it was not surprising the same has been found when it comes to me getting quality rest on a nightly basis. Here are the 3 best practices I found to achieve quality rest on the regular…
1.) Avoid stimulants
So…what’s a stimulant? A stimulant is anything that raises levels of physiological or nervous activity in the body.
While you might know that caffeine is a stimulant, and you should stop consuming it 4-6 hours before going to bed, a stimulant is also things like light, exercise and mental stimulation.
Light tells our brains that we should be up and be active. That is counterproductive to falling and staying asleep. The blue light especially that is emitted from electronics creates brain stimulation to be and stay awake. So I am extremely aware of all intense lighting at night in the hours before I go to bed. Soft lighting and avoiding electronics about an hour before I go to bed is my general rule.
Another stimulant that we might not be aware of is greatly increasing our heart-rate over an extended period of time right before bed. I avoid any high-intense cardio workout right before bed and if I do partake in a nightly cardio session, I make sure it ends at least 2 hours before my designated bedtime.
Finally, reading a book, watching a movie or playing a game that requires high-level thinking or emotional management can impair your quality rest, and should be avoided several hours before bed. So bedtime is not the time to read that book about understanding quantum physics!
2.) Promote sleep
Find things that help promote sleep that work for you. Here are some things that I have found to help me fall and stay asleep…
Essential oils: Applying essential oils to my shoulders, especially lavender and eucalyptus, promotes almost instant relaxation within me. There are other oils that are known to promote sleep, like chamomile and vivitar, and most oil companies have nighttime blends, so find what works best for you.
Magnesium Lotion: At least half of the US population is deficient in magnesium, even people who eat a nutrient-dense diet. This is because our soil is magnesium deficient as well, so those fruits and veggies grown in the soil do not hold the magnesium levels they once did. Magnesium is an important mineral for many functions in the body, especially the conversion of vitamin D, but it also promotes GABA in the body for sleep. You can purchase magnesium lotion online, but if you want to make your own click here for a great recipe from Don’t Waste the Crumbs.
Comfortable sleepwear & sleep mask: While most of my life I’ve always just grabbed an old, and sometimes holely oversized shirt, I have in the past year invested in some extremely soft, extremely comfortable sleepwear, and it has made a huge difference in my rest. For one, it helps that I use my sleepwear only for sleep and so I only associate those clothes with rest. I put them on, and my mind and body know it’s time to settle and prepare for rest.
And I top my sleepwear with a light-eliminating, soft and comfortable sleep mask, so that any changes in light that happen, such as a bathroom light being turned on etc., it doesn’t interrupt my sleep. Again, avoiding the stimulation of light during sleep.
Soft and breathable sheets and comforters: I do not like to sweat or feel itchy and scratchy while I sleep. These things, body temp and skin reaction, can actually act as stimulants and keep us from achieving REM sleep, which is the restorative sleep that we need for quality rest.
Teas: I was skeptical as to whether sleepy teas would do anything to get me ready for rest, but surprisingly (at least to me) they HAVE helped and I have included them in my nightly routines. While some people stick to a simple chamomile tea, I prefer the herbal blends that promote sleep.
Supplements: While this can always be a controversial subject, I have used supplements such as melatonin and L-Theanine to help me achieve quality rest.
Here are some general rules I give myself when it comes to supplements. First, I research side effects and how the supplement works within the body. Second, unless directed by a doctor, I start with the lowest possible dose, and only increase if I am not getting the results desired and I am not experiencing any side effects.
Lastly, I look at my daily routine, things going on in my body (hormone fluctuation can really impact sleep) and stressors in my current life that could be causing the need for supplements, and I see if addressing these issues can reduce my need for daily supplements. Sometimes I can, sometimes I can’t.
3.) Go to God.
I have found that ending my day in God’s embrace is the best way to set up for quality rest. Just as starting my day with God puts me on the right path for the hours before me, the same goes for the end of my day.
I try to make it uncomplicated and easy to remember, because sometimes (most of the time) at the end of my day I can barely remember my own birthday, let alone some complicated prayer or scripture. For this alone, I love the very simple A.C.T.S. prayer and then following with the Lord’s Prayer to finish my day. It’s simple and easy to remember, but it turns my heart and mind towards God, and gets me on that path to quality rest.
The ACTS prayer can be done at any point in your nightly routine, but I have found that it works best for quality rest when I have laid down and prepared myself to go to sleep. I begin with taking some cleansing belly breaths. Breathing that requires my belly to rise and fall as I inhale and exhale. This breathing slows my heart rate and begins to quiet my mind. After 3-5 belly breaths, or when I feel my mind and body give in to rest, I start going through the ACTS prayer…Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.
Adoration: I pour out my love for God. I let my love for God settle throughout my body, from my mind, to my heart, to my soul.
Confession: I confess any sins from my day, and any sins a continually struggle with regularly.
Thanks: I give thanks to God for today’s blessings, and his love and guidance in my life.
Supplication: I bring my requests for the needs of others and myself.
Once I have completed my ACTS prayer, I take another 3-5 cleansing belly breaths, and then I end with the Lord’s Prayer. I’ll admit that sometimes I get through the entire prayer and sometimes I will fall asleep before I have finished. Either way, I have set myself for rest that will renew my mind, my body and my spirit.
I’ve written over the last several weeks about how the quality and consistency of your fitness is key to being successful. Well, that concept can be extended to so many things in our lives that we want become a priority, and for this series we’re going to apply to rest. Moving our bodies well and with purpose keeps us in the best possible physical condition for the longest amount of time during our years here on earth, and helps us mentally process stress and increase creativity. If this concept was a coin, one side would be movement, the other would be rest.
Eight hours of sleep sounds adequate for most people, but if you are tossing and turning, waking and then again trying to fall back asleep, your mind and body are not getting most of those hours of rest it needs for the next day no matter how many hours your affording yourself. Quality rest will always be just as important, maybe more, then the amount of hours you put into it each night. And just like quality, consistency is important in rest as well. One quality night of sleep is not going to make for 6 nights of poor sleep. Again, quality and consistency is key.
Let me give you four reasons why quality sleep matters and why you should be consistent in obtaining it…
rest allows your muscles, nerves, bones and connective tissue time to rebuild
While moving your body purposefully will maintain and grow your body’s strength and flexibility, rest allows for your muscles, nerves, bones and connective tissue to rebuild after using them and breaking them down during your day. It’s as equally important to maintaining and growing in your health and wellness as your fitness is during your waking hours.
It gives you a boost, literally. Both your memory and immune system are boosted when we get quality rest. Think about all the time you’ll save, or even just swap, if you aren’t constantly struggling to remember things or recovering from the things you forgot. And the time you’ll save from not being sick or recovering from illness. At the end of the day your spending time no matter what…your choice is whether you want to spend it resting in bed or spend it on the fall out from sickness or memory loss (sounds harsh, but if you’ve ever stood in a room wondering why you came in there, it’s honestly the best term to use).
Do you want to be creative? Do you wish you were my creative in your family life, job(s), activities and other commitments? Get more and better rest! Quality rest stimulates the creative part of the brain. Better ideas, better plans, better intentions, better goals…they don’t just come from pinterest, they come from quality rest.
We are commanded to rest. God knew, as He always does, that we would struggle with rest. He knew that he needed to command it, like loving Him and others, because we would fill our time with ALL THE THINGS. Important things. Giving things. Idle things. Commitment things. Fun things. Mind-numbing things. All the things. There are lots of verses that discuss rest, but here are a few of my favorites. Just like with everything God commands, He does it because it’s what is BEST for us.
Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Psalm 4:8 In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety.
Psalm 127:2 In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves.
Mark 2:27 Then he said to them, The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.
Hebrews 4:9-11 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.
Now go forth and recover, boost, create and be obedient to God’s command with quality and consistent rest!
If you read the previous posts in my attainable, sustainable fitness series, you know that I have herald the 10-minute workout as the key. I have given instruction in a previous post on how to create your own 10-minute workout, but I know that even with instruction, it can be overwhelming. Because of this, I’m giving y’all a 10-minute total body workout I’ve created, and I included videos! AND, there’s a section for you to spread your wings and create your own 10-minute workout.
So get started. Do it every day. Do more if you have time. It’s that easy!