Let’s call it “life.”

Life is that thing that happened these past few months that’s kept me busy, lazy, or just falling out of shape. Whatever it is, I’d put on a few pounds, lost a lot of the definition that I’m used to seeing in my body, and just haven’t felt as strong as I’m used to.

Like so many of us, it was the prospect of a upcoming beach holiday that prodded me to start working out again. With my departure date about 6-7 weeks away, I developed this plan to get myself toned and leaner before packing the suitcase.

It’s not overly strenuous. It doesn’t require a huge time commitment. And it’s not very strict or rigorous. It’s a workout plan that’s actually quite accessible for most people. And that’s why I thought it might be worthwhile to share it with you–to show that getting fit or seeing some muscle definition doesn’t require daily CrossFit workouts or training for a marathon.

In fact, you’ll find most of my summer workout plan is based on at-home workouts and an active lifestyle. I love lifestyle fitness because it doesn’t have the slave mentality of going to the gym, and even better, it can be done with friends and going to someplace new for hiking, walking, or biking has the same joy of discovery that travel has.

Here’s my weekly plan to get toned and fit in 6-7 weeks–

  • 1 day per week: Barre Class
  • 1 day per week: Yoga
  • 1-2 days per week: Cardio–HIIT in the form of sprints, Tabata or Dance Cardio (search youtube “dance workout” / “dance cardio”)
    • Toning: Squats and lunges on cardio days
  • 2-4 days per week: Toning arms and abs with videos on youtube (I like the ones from Tone It Up). I usually do 15-30 minutes before making dinner.
  • As much lifestyle fitness activity as possible: walking, hiking, biking,or  quick runs with the dogs.
  • Put my standing desk to use. Standing and walking are among the most practical and effective ways to slim the hips (useful for women who carry the weight on the lower body, which is common among women with estrogen dominance).

So a typical week may look like this:

  • lifestyle fitnessMonday – 4-10 10-second Sprints + 30-50 squats. 15-20 minutes of arms / abs videos. Standing desk (Total workout time: ~30 minutes)
  • Tuesday – 45-60 minutes of yoga. Standing desk (Workout time: 45-60 minutes)
  • Wednesday – Longer walk with the dogs. 30 minutes of arms / abs videos. Standing desk. (Workout time: 30 minutes)
  • Thursday – 55-minute barre class. (Workout time: 55 minutes)
  • Friday – 5-15 minutes of dance cardio. 20 minutes of arms / abs videos. Walking. (Workout time: 25-35 minutes)
  • Saturday – 2-3 hour moderate hike / steep walking. (Workout time: lifestyle fitness + nature)
  • Sunday – 2-4 sessions of 30 minute walks, while running errands. Plus, optional arms / abs. (Workout time: does it really count?)

I don’t want to spend a lot of time going to/from the gym. I don’t want to commit to long classes. I want my workouts to fit into my schedule and to fit with my life. I’m also not trying to look like a fitness competition model.

I firmly believe that 80-90% of the results happen because of diet, sleep, recovery, and joy, not because of extreme workouts. But the Arnold look is also not what I’m going for.

Since starting this plan about 2-3 weeks ago, I’ve increased the tone in my arms, leaned out my legs, and begun seeing the definition in the upper part of my abs.

But, do you want to know my ‘dirty little secret’?

In only this short time, I’ve already completely skipped out on my plan at least 1 day per week. Life happens.

On those missed days, I remind myself this isn’t about vanity, this is about health. It’s about the sleep, the joy, and trusting my body to know what it needs and wants. Some days it just doesn’t want to workout. Other days, it wants to push longer or harder, and I honor that.

Here’s what I want you to know: even a little bit helps; fit the workout into your lifestyle so it works for you; do the workout you like; don’t do all cardio and forget the strength training, or all toning and forget the cardio, they work together; vinayasa or power yoga definitely count as a workout; and most importantly, it’s 80-90% diet.

Perhaps if you’re interested, I could a separate post discussing the diet changes I’ve made in prep for the upcoming trip and how much weight I’ve lost. If you’re interested in that, please say so in the comments.

Leave a comment: what workout are you loving right now?