Workout Nirvana

I figured it was time for a post like this. I thought perhaps some people with resolutions to work out or lose weight this year might be losing steam in their motivation. As January stretches into February I start to see the gyms thinning out and I know that many people have already given up on their goals. I wanted to share some knowledge from another blogger who is worth following on Twitter for good fitness tips!

You can also check out some recent posts that might inspire you to renew your goals. You Can Do This and I Hate Going to the Gym. Without further ado, here are some tips from Suzanne:


1. How many days a week do you lift weights and how long is each session?

I usually lift four days a week. Each session lasts an hour or a little more. If I do cardio it happens after weights.

2. What’s a typical day of eating look like for you?

For breakfast and lunch I eat the same basic foods with small variations. I find that this allows me to control my diet and weight better and prevents digestive upset from eating foods that are outside my clean eating lifestyle. Even for dinner, we rotate among a set of recipes. If a new one is added it has to be low fat, low salt, and delicious of course. I always have a big breakfast with Greek yogurt and blueberries and walnuts and supplement that with toast or cereal. Lunch is usually a chicken and avocado sandwich, turkey meatballs, a tuna sandwich, or salad. Having snacks between meals helps keep me fueled (I always combine a protein with a carb). One of my favorite snacks is red grapes and roasted, unsalted almonds.

3. What is the most common mistake newbies at the gym make? What can they do to fix it?

I see a lot of women lifting very light weights. This is frustrating because while they may experience positive changes in the very beginning, they will soon plateau (and maybe quit). After you’ve learned proper form and can lift a weight for much more than 12 reps, don’t be afraid of going heavier. The basic principle behind strength training is progression – continuing to push your body after it has adapted. You’ll need to continually increase the weights to get stronger. Don’t worry about getting bulky – I lift heavy and am still a very petite person!

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4. Why do you think many Resolutioners quit on their goals? What advice would you give to them to keep going?

Giving up too soon is a mistake people make all year round. It may be due to frustration with not seeing results, feeling intimidated, or simply boredom. Whatever the reason, if you can make yourself stick with it consistently for at least three or four weeks, you’ll start to see differences in the way you look and feel. Keep pushing and force yourself to lift until it becomes a habit. Do whatever you need to do to overcome barriers. You won’t regret it.


Suzanne Digre is a fitness writer and owner of Workout Nirvana Fitness LLC, which provides online and in-studio personal training. Suzanne writes about clean eating and weightlifting in her blog, Workout Nirvana. Twitter:!/WorkoutNirvana and Facebook:


I really admire her dedication to fitness and her clean eating diet. What I love most about Suzanne is that she LOVES lifting weights. She found an activity that she enjoyed and made it a big part of her life. I think that is the key to making any exercise program stick. For me it was swimming. I eventually grew to love other things and a running injury lead me to lifting weights a few years ago.

While I didn’t like weight lifting at first, it grew on me. I was seeing results and my body was reshaping itself with my hard work. The trick is to stick with it. The results won’t be immediate and it does require consistency to keep it. When summers roll around I spend less time in the gym and more time outside (as it should be) so weight lifting takes a back seat and sadly, sometimes I don’t even do it. I’m trying to be better about that so that each Fall I’m not starting over from scratch.

If you’re starting to feel discouraged or less enthusiastic about your own exercise routine, take some time to check out Suzanne’s blog for some inspiration. Maybe you need to re-evaluate what activities you are doing. If you aren’t feeling the FIRE or excitement anymore, try a different workout! And definitely give strength training a try. The effects are amazing!

Finally, check out a previous guest post written by Suzanne: Reshaping Your Body with Weight Lifting. It will give you a good starter workout.

QUESTION: Do you lift weights? Why or why not?

Reshaping Your Body with Weight Lifting

Reshaping Your Body with Weight Lifting

Guest Post by Workout Nirvana’s Suzanne

So you want to make changes in your body, and you’re pretty sure you can do this with resistance training. Well, you’d be right – using weights, bands, and even your own body weight will give your body curves in all the right places, not to mention stronger bones, higher metabolism more energy, strength, and an overall feeling of well-being.

There is MUCH fun to be had with weight lifting, so let’s get started.

Now I’ll assume you’re familiar with the types of weights out there (dumbbells, machines, barbells) because we both know you’ve been walking right through the weight room on your way to yoga. And you’ve eyed the weight room nervously while wondering if you should be in there. The answer is YES – or, in your own living room, whichever is your preference.

So here’s some gentle nudging – no, make that confident fist pumps – to help you get you started. Because if you’re going to lift weights, you need a little attitude. No more “nice girl” here… it’s time to forget that there’s anyone else around and rely on your own STRENGTH – physical and mental.

The Basics

First you’ll want to be familiar with a few key concepts:

Repetitions (reps): One complete movement of an exercise.
Sets: A group of consecutive repetitions.
Rest: The time taken to recuperate between sets.

Beginners do best with full-body workouts lasting 30-60 minutes/3x week (and never two days in a row for the same muscle group). Start with low weights at first and focus on proper form. Without good form, you can injure yourself! If you can’t maintain good form, you’re lifting too much.

Now keep in mind a key concept in weight lifting: In order to get those sexy, sculpted muscles, you will need to change something about your workout every 4-6 weeks. Your body adapts to the stress you put on it so it needs to be continuously confused. During those 4-6 weeks you will also need to increase the weight whenever you can easily do 12 reps. Your muscles should be very fatigued by the last rep, or you aren’t lifting enough weight.

For each exercise, do 10-12 reps for 3 sets, with 30-60 seconds rest in between each set. For example, you would do 12 bicep curls, rest for 30-60 seconds, and then repeat twice for a total of three sets. Also remember that the less time between sets, the more calories you burn.

Your Starter Workout

Warm up on any cardio machine on which you can pump your arms for 5-10 minutes.

1. Step-up Curl to Press. This is a fabulous full-body exercise that works your lower body, core, biceps, and shoulders. If you cannot stand on one leg long enough to do this exercise, start by standing on two legs.

2. Walking Lunges with Rotation. This works your lower body, arms, and obliques. Grab a medicine ball (start with 2-4 pounds) and a nice longish path in front of you. If you don’t have a medicine ball, simply grab a dumbbell – OR use no weight to start.

3. Two-Arm Squat to Row. This works your lower body and back. You can use a cable machine or a resistance band. If you don’t have bands or a cable machine, you can substitute one-arm dumbbell rows and regular squats.

4. Dumbbell Chest Press on a bench. This works your pectoral muscles. To make this harder, do it one arm at a time. You can also do chest presses on a stability ball, but you will need to use less weight. Your core will be doing a lot of work to keep you steady and your hips up.

5. Dumbbell Triceps Kickback. If you want to really harden up your triceps, do this exercise back-to-back with the Triceps Press or Triceps Pushdown. Doing two exercises back-to-back without rest is called a “superset” – that’s one set.

Abs: Try performing the following abs exercises for more reps (15-20). If you’re in a rush, superset two of these exercises. You can also add leg lifts, bicycle, etc. if you want more challenge.

6. Ball Crunch.

7. Reverse Crunch.

8. Plank. You may be familiar with this staple of strength building. Hold for as long as you can, working up to one minute or more.

Are you tired yet? Time to cool down. Spend 5-10 minutes stretching and/or foam rolling your entire body!

You might be surprised at how strength training can transport you to a calm, meditative place. Put your mind to it and dive in. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how tight and sculpted your body will become.


Suzanne is a NASM-certified personal trainer and fitness writer who is passionate about helping women feel at home in the weight room. She writes about weight training, clean eating, and gaining confidence with weights in her blog, Workout Nirvana.

Lisa’s Note: Thank you so much Suzanne! I greatly appreciated her writing this post because I know I do a lot of things wrong when it comes to weight lifting. It’s also great to see a workout routine that I can incorporate into my gym sessions.

QUESTION: Are you a weight lifter? If you want to start but have questions, ask them here!