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    As busy moms, we often don't have a second to spare for ourselves or our workouts. That's why doing double duty on our errands and exercise is the best gift we can give ourselves.

    That's where the playground comes in. It's just for children, right? Wrong.

    It turns out you can get one of the best workouts of your life using only what you find at the playground. Swings, slides, monkey bars, ladders -- all of it can become your own personal ninja warrior circuit!

    To make it even more like a game, rest while your child plays -- so in other words, you do an exercise on the slide while she climbs the ladder, then you rest while she slides down. She'll love it, too!

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    You have big plans to go to the gym after work today. You arranged someone to be there to take care of the kids, you packed your gym bag, you piously said no to after-work drinks with your colleagues. Then 6 p.m. rolls around, and, well ... maybe the kids need help with their homework tonight after all. Or your boss is going out for drinks, maybe you should go along too. Or you’re exhausted after a long day, and didn’t you read somewhere that you’re more likely to get injured exercising when you’re tired?

    Chances are, you already know when you’re making excuses because you just don’t feel like working out. But are there actually times when it IS a good idea to skip the gym? Yes, there are -- and here’s the personal trainer take on what’s a valid excuse and what’s NOT.

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    Ahh, the scale. You’ve had a great week of getting your workouts done, and eating healthy, and you step on the scale with excitement building -- how much will you have lost? Three pounds? Maybe four?

    Cue horror music as you look down and see the same number you remember from last week or, even worse, higher. But the reverse is true, too, when you’ve ... um ... "forgotten" a couple of workouts, and then the kids wanted to make cookies, and don’t forget the pizza. When you check your weight on the scale, certain that you’ve gained, doesn’t it feel amazing to see a surprise loss? 

    Why? Why are we tying our mood, and our self-worth, to a number on a scale? "Duh, because I’m trying to lose weight!" I hear you say. I’m here to tell you: The best way to lose weight safely and maintain your weight loss, is to forget about the scale. Get rid of it, seriously. Here’s why ...

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    How many times have you admired a celebrity who looks perfect three months after baby and been bitter? Maybe if I had a personal trainer, personal chef, and private gym, I could look like that, too! 

    Most of us don't have the money to spend on those luxuries. But that doesn't make it impossible.

    The fact is, Working out doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Check out these money-saving tips that will help you get fit like a star without breaking your "real person" bank.

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    We've all experienced the feeling you get after a tough workout, when you can feel your muscles begin to tighten up, and you know that tomorrow -- or even worse, the day after -- you are going to be in a world of hurt. If you have time, what's the first thing you can think of to try to offset the pain? Stretching, right? Well, as it turns out, research shows that static stretching is not the best way to alleviate future soreness. Static stretching, for those who aren't familiar, is the kind where you hold a stretch position for 20 or 30 seconds. Active stretches, on the other hand, work to stretch out your muscles, while you're getting your blood flowing, which is the best way for your body to begin the repair process.

    So guess we'd better get started, right? In that spirit, check out these 8 active stretches that will make you feel fantastic after working out.


    Image via Giacomo Carena/Flickr

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    ONLY. You use this word every day, and it's innocuous -- until you use it to downplay your achievements. Saying "only" doesn't just take away from your hard work, you could be trivializing someone else's accomplishments. Here are some places the word only doesn't belong:

    I went running, but I only ran a mile.

    I do exercise, but only once a week.  

    I only have time for 20-minute workouts.

    So why does it matter how you talk about your workout -- whether you're talking to yourself or others?

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    In a perfect world, we’d all have lots of free time to work out. Not only would we be getting our sweat on every day, we’d all be loving every minute of it (or loving to hate it, anyway!). In reality, it can be near impossible to find the time to work out, and what makes it even harder is not knowing what to do when you DO have time for exercise. If you find yourself on your way to the gym, still trying to work out what you should be doing there, or forcing yourself to a class you’re not really into because it works with your schedule, you might need to assess your fitness personality

    Maybe it’s not that you haven’t found the workout that suits you ... maybe your personality doesn’t suit your workout of choice. Here are some suggestions for you to try thinking about the way you exercise from a personality point of view:

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    While it's no secret that I love using weights in my clients' workouts (and my own!), there's no reason you can't get a challenging, effective workout using bodyweight exercises. By incorporating a Swiss ball (also known as an exercise ball, a stability ball, or a fitness ball) into your routine, you can up the intensity level and get even more out of your bodyweight workout.

    Try these seven exercises, which work your entire body -- get ready to challenge yourself!

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    Exercise can easily turn into something you dread, a boring chore somewhere on your to-do list. But it doesn't have to! While it may be hard work at times, working out should be fun and something you enjoy doing. If you dread going to the gym because you know it's going to be boring, or your weight loss has stalled, or you’re looking for ways to distract yourself, it’s a sure sign that something is wrong. 

    What’s going on? It could be as simple as being in a workout rut, which is easy enough to fix. Here are tips on getting out of the rut and making exercise fun again!

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    We nearly always focus on what we can teach our children. They're constantly learning from our examples, actions, and words, whether it's learning how to eat solid food or the difference between right and wrong. What we often don't realize is that our little ones have a lot of wisdom to share with us, too, sometimes in surprising ways.

    What does this have to do with working out? What could your kid teach you about fitness that you couldn't learn from a trainer or a fitness instructor? You may be surprised by the fitness truths your kids can teach you.

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About This Column
Carly Pizzani

Having trained many moms, and being mom to an active toddler herself, Carly Pizanni knows how to get the most out of our limited time. She'll explain what works (and what doesn't) and give you all the tips and advice you need to get into shape.

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