Recapping a year’s worth of exercise and fitness tirades

Keep working out. Our bodies are not designed to sit around all day.

Hooray for the new year, and for your renewed commitment to health and wellness. Yup, you’re heading back to the gym, the track, your trainer, your group exercise class — and who knows, maybe this year you will actually see results.

Allow me to assist. Below is a recap of the scads of columns I wrote last year regarding working out and how to achieve your goals. Let’s review:

Use your mind, not just your body. Mentally focus on what is is you want to achieve. On a daily basis, envision exactly how you want your body to look and feel. Keep that vision in your head as you eat, as you sweat through your workouts, as you fall asleep at night. Mentally visualizing your success, then taking action with effective workouts and healthy eating will create the healthy body you desire.

Schedule your workouts. Put them on your calendar like any other appointment or important task. If you don’t, you’ll likely blow them off.

Get your cardio in about four to five times per week. Include at least two high-intensity interval workouts, alternating 30-60 second bursts of aerobic exercise with lower intensity recovery periods. You’ll burn more calories over a shorter period of time. Added bonus: Interval training burns more fat and calories in the 24 hours after a session than a steady-paced workout does.

Lift weights. Aim for at least three times per week. Strength training has helped keep me and my clients lean and strong. You have to build muscle to increase your metabolism and burn fat. If you already strength-train, keep adding weight (in small 2- to 5-pound increments) to an exercise until it becomes challenging to perform 10 reps. Ladies, you will not bulk up, I promise you.

Up the intensity of your workouts. This is a must if you are endeavoring to change the size and shape of your body. If you have been performing cardio for awhile, try the interval method I just mentioned, or work aerobically for a longer duration of time. If you are building muscle, go heavier as you get stronger, or shift to more challenging exercise formats. (Suspension weight training, anyone?)

Change it up. If you typically work with weight machines and the stationary bike, switch to dumbbell lifting and a cardio workout on a treadmill, elliptical or, my personal favorite, the stairmill. Better yet, take an exercise class where a trained professional will keep your muscles and cardio endurance challenged with exercises you are likely unfamiliar with. By switching up your workouts, you stay physically — and equally important — mentally stimulated, which leads to better results.

Respect your injuries and limitations. Don’t force your body to perform lunges when you have cranky knees or 50 pushups with a torn rotator cuff. I forbid my clients to perform exercises that cause unnatural pain. I don’t care how many calories you might be burning. It’s unkind, and it’s the opposite of self-care. Take care of your body the way you would your child’s body — with the utmost love and respect. Your body will thank you for it.

Don’t work out when you are sick. Skip exercise if you have a fever, chills are nauseated or have a head cold. I tell clients who are recovering from illness to wait to resume exercise until they have at least 80 percent of their usual energy. When you reach this point, perform a gentle workout and monitor how you feel every 10 minutes. If you feel worse than when you started, your body is not ready. Stop immediately and give yourself more time to recover.

Ditch the scale. Weight loss is never a straight line downward. It’s a lumpy, bumpy slope with peaks, dips and plateaus throughout — especially if you are building muscle via strength training. I say forget the numbers completely and gauge your success by how you feel and how your clothes fit. To hell with the scale: The thing is evil and creates unnecessary hysteria, particularly in women.

Above all, keep moving. Inertia breeds inertia, and our bodies are not designed to sit around all day. Exercise in any form strongly impacts our physical and psychological sense of well-being — and the more you move, the more your body will want to move.

I’ll squat to that.

Catherine Bongiorno is a personal trainer, nutritional therapist and owner of Lift To Lose Fitness & Nutrition. Email her at or visit for more information.

Talk to us

More in Life

Kid 'n Play members Christopher "Kid" Reid, left, and Christopher "Play" Martin perform on NBC's "Today" show during the "I Love The 90's" morning concert at Rockefeller Plaza on Friday, April 29, 2016, in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

Relive the music of the 1990s with Kid N Play and other stars of the era at the Tulalip Casino Amphitheater.

Contestant chef Brian Madayag (left) of Edmonds and West Coast team captain Brooke Williamson on “Beachside Brawl.” (Food Network) 20220616
Edmonds chef reps Pacific Northwest on new Food Network show

Barkada owner Brian Madayaga will compete on a new Food Network series that premiers Sunday.

After two years of wellness, Covid finally hit this family, but thanks to vaccinations, the symptoms were mild. (Jennifer Bardsley)
Jennifer Bardsley’s fighting COVID-19 with vaccines and TLC

But even with vaccinations, the disease is scary for people like her with less than robust immune systems.

Turkey vultures’ pervious nostrils are among the features that help them feed on carrion. (The Columbian files)
In praise of turkey vultures, nature’s cleaning service

These raptors should be revered, not reviled, for their disposal of stinky, disease-laden animal matter.

close-up of gardener's hands planting a tomato seedling in the vegetable garden
This summer, it’s smart to go big or go home at the nursery

When buying annuals, vegetables or perennials, go for the 1-gallon pots. And don’t skimp on the soil amendments and plant food.

Writing on Belfast's Peace Wall.
Rick Steves’ Europe: Europe tears down walls — and builds bridges

The walls of antiquity — and of the Cold War — were symbols not of strength, but of mistrust and insecurity.

Coming home for the summer: Your college student and you

It can be tough going and conflicts will arise, but don’t worry, parents — they’ll be back in school soon.

He booked his JetBlue tickets on Orbitz. Now they’re gone

When Benjamin Eckstein shows up at the airport for his flight from Boston to San Jose, his airline says he doesn’t have a ticket. Whose fault is this mess, and how does he clean it up?

Musicians Rod Argent, left, Hugh Grundy, Chris White, and Colin Blunstone of The Zombies attends the 2019 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Barclays Center on Friday, March 29, 2019, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

Get your tickets now to see rock Hall of Famers The Zombies in Everett. Plus there’s a month of music planned in Langley.

Celebrate national pollination week

This year, the week of June 20-26 is National Pollination Week and… Continue reading

The GPP for this Friday is Clematis 'Rooguchi' and the image credit goes to Richie Steffen.
Great Plant Pick: Clematis ‘Rooguchi’

This charming, non-twining vine is ideal for tight situations, and does well in a container.

What causes gut infections, and how to avoid them

Gut infections are the top cause of acute diarrhea, and can be life-threatening if severe.