Workouts: Lose the All or Nothing Attitude

by Jillian on January 19, 2012 · 7 comments

I will be the first to admit, I used to have an all or nothing attitude about working out. I had a set schedule every week and if I veered from it even the least bit, I would beat myself up over it. If I couldn’t get in an hour and a half per day, I would feel that it wasn’t worth going. In the last year, I’ve learned how wrong I was and made many adjustments to my workouts.

My schedule used to look like this:

  • Monday
    • abs (upper, lower, obliques)
    • 45 minutes on the elliptcal
  • Tuesday
    • abs (upper, lower, obliques)
    • 1 hour run (~7 miles)
  • Wednesday
    • abs (upper, lower, obliques) …you’re seeing this trend, right?
    • total upper body strength training (chest, shoulders, back, triceps, biceps)
    • 25 minutes on the elliptical
  • Thursday
    • abs (upper, lower, obliques)
    • 45 minute run, steady state
  • Friday
    • abs (upper, lower, obliques)
    • 3 mile run
    • total leg workout (glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves)
  • Saturday
    • abs (upper, lower, obliques) …you’re seeing this trend, right?
    • total upper body strength training (chest, shoulders, back, triceps, biceps)
    • 25 minutes on the elliptical

Yes, I did abs every. single. day. And you know what? My abs look just as good now without doing them every single day. I rarely did HIIT (high intensity interval training). I also didn’t switch my strength training up as much as I should have. I was in the gym for 75 to 90 minutes a day, sometimes more on upper body days.

When I started my new job in November of 2010, a lot of things changed. I was gone longer during the day and I would find that I was extremely tired of getting up extra early just so I could fit my planned workout in. It wasn’t until I started missing workouts because “I only have 45 minutes, I woke up late”, that I knew I needed to make a change.

I began learning more about HIIT workouts and how a 20 minute high intensity workout can be just as effective as 45 minutes of steady state cardio. I tried to incorporate these on Mondays and Thursdays and still keep some steady cardio in my plan.

Some of my favorite HIIT workouts are listed below:

Joe got me in the habit of doing abs. I mean, I have to look at this everyday.


Six days a week times 30 minutes of abs is 3 hours of abs per week. Insane. I don’t have time for that. What was I thinking? I’ve changed my routine to do abs on days that I don’t do upper body or leg strength training. I also mixed up my routines for upper, lower, and obliques. For instance, since Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays are just cardio, I will focus on certain ab workouts each day. One day I will do core exercises like planks and stability ball exercises. Another day I will focus on mat exercises and another day I will do weighted ab workouts or use handlebars to do leg lifts. I cut abs down to under 1.5 hours per week. Big difference, right? And guess what, my abs look the same.


Lastly, I was really stuck on my long run day. Tuesday mornings I would wake up dreading my long run. Ugh! I would drag my ass to the gym and think about how awful it was going to be and therefore my run would be awful because I already had a bad attitude. Now, I do not force myself to do long runs. Some days I just wake up and I am totally feeling a long run. I will get out there and do it and with a positive attitude because my body is telling me it is ready. The one time that happened, I ended up running the furthest I’ve ever run: 8 miles!


Some other things I did to switch up my routine are bootcamp classes and plans like Jamie Eason’s LiveFit.

This morning I mentioned that I woke up feeling like I could just  not bring myself to the gym. Well, you know what? After working for a few hours, I felt better and got the itch to get in a sweat session. I knew I didn’t want to spend a lot of time so I quickly remembered Tina’s tabata treadmill workout and combined that with my core stability ab workout. I was in and out of the gym in 35 minutes!



I came home and had a quick protein filled snack.


I’m loving the new Chobani apple cinnamon flavor! This was the first time I’ve tried it. I added some Erewhon brown rice crispies to it and it was heaven. I can’t wait to try the other new flavors, like blood orange!


It’s pretty much apple pie filling, which knocks my socks off.

Anyway, if you feel like you are forcing yourself to the gym I encourage you to reassess your current workout schedule.


  • a 20 minute workout is better than no workout at all
  • listen to your body, take rest days when needed
  • try new workouts so you don’t get stuck in a rut
  • don’t focus on quantity, focus on quality
  • do not beat yourself up over an unplanned rest day

Have you change your workout routine lately? What are some tips you have to save time at the gym?

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Marilyn January 19, 2012 at 6:16 pm

Great picture of Joe. Wow !! I do beat myself up when I have an unplanned rest day. Have to work on not feeling guilty on those days. With my new heart monitor, I see I am burning more calories and working at a higher rate than I thought I was.


2 Chels R. January 20, 2012 at 1:17 pm

Rest days are so important! I’m taking one today :)

I’ve gotta try that new Chobani I heard it was good! :)


3 Jillian January 20, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Love rest days! And yes, the apple cinnamon is a must try!


4 Sarah @ newlyeverything January 20, 2012 at 1:21 pm

I just started a new job and my day starts very early. Since I’m on my feet all day I try to get extra boosts of exercise in. I try to take the stairs often and try to make my pace brisk when I’m running all over on the the hospital .HIITs have been a savior of me, I just can’t seem to log too much time on the treadmill these days. I also hula hoop with a weighted sport hoop for 10 mins in front of the tv whenever I think of it.

Making a date to try a new class at the gym is also great motivation for me


5 Jillian January 20, 2012 at 2:03 pm

It’s great to break up your workouts too. You can do a quick treadmill run in the morning and maybe some weights after work. The hula hoop idea sounds neat! :)


6 Lizzie August 17, 2012 at 11:11 am

I break up my workouts, sometimes, too- super quick run and then upper body or yoga later in the day. Spreading it out can extend the endorphin rush while giving you a bit of a nice rest period in-between. Such a refreshing post, Jillian!


7 janetha January 20, 2012 at 2:21 pm

That’s definitely my new favorite Chobani!


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: