6 of the Best Short Workouts You Can Do at Home

6 of the Best Short Workouts You Can Do at Home

6 of the Best Short Workouts You Can Do at Home

Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental health. We know that, but it can be tough to do long workouts with our busy schedules. As a homeschooling mom, writer, and speaker, I know all about being time pinched. That’s why I love short workouts. If you choose the right workouts, they can be just as effective in helping you get fit and reduce stress as longer workouts. Here are my top six picks for short workouts you can do at home.

Scroll down to watch the Periscope broadcast of this post.

#1 Bill Phillips’ 20-minute HIIT

Ever since I completed the 12-week Body for Life challenge, I have continued to enjoy the high-intensity interval training that is part of the program. Each interval is one minute long. Your intensity is rated on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being no difficulty and 10 being as hard as you can work. You do two minutes at a 5 intensity to warm up. You then do a 6-7-8-9 intensity rotation four times. You end with a 10 intensity and a 5 to cool down. I usually take longer to cool down.

Why I’m Crazy About It:

This workout can be done with almost any form of cardio you enjoy. It automatically adjusts for days when your energy is low. You can buy Body for Life or you can just follow the instructions above for free.

21 Day Fit

#2 Shawn Phillips’ 21-Day Fit

There is no question that the 45-minute weight training plan espoused in Body for Life is effective, but I wanted something quicker. When I learned about his brother Shawn’s plan, I knew it was perfect. You lift a challenging weight for a 30-second interval followed by a 30-second rest. You will need some dumbbells, but that’s all. You can sign up to get the exercise list at 21 Day Fit for free. I have used this workout for years and love it. I listen to music on my phone and use the Interval app so I know when to start and stop. I set the app up to change songs as well.

Why I’m Crazy About It:

It’s short, free, and provides the weight training that is critical to fitness and weight management. I also love that I can listen to my own music while I do it.

#3 Jillian Michaels’s 30 Day Shred

This video uses Jillian’s hallmark rotation of cardio, strength training, and abs. It’s challenging, but she provides modifications and reminds viewers that she has 400-pound people doing these exercises. There are three levels of difficulty.  It’s 20 minutes plus a short warm-up and cool down.

Why I’m Crazy About It:

I love the rotations and Jillian’s motivational style. It’s short, intense, and effective. This workout succeeded in eliminating the back pain my friend had suffered with for years. It retails for under $7. You can’t beat that!

Daily Burn 15

#4 Daily Burn 15

These subscription online workouts are really just 15 minutes long. But don’t be fooled. They’re challenging! There are a number of 15-minute workouts to choose from. I watched them from an older Mac, but you could watch by attaching a computer to a bigger screen. Daily Burn offers a free trial to see if it’s for you.

Why I’m Crazy About It

I love that it truly is just 15 minutes long and that there are a variety of instructors to choose from. It’s cool that you can chat with instructors on Facebook via the website, too.

20 Minute Winter Workout for Kids printable

#5 Marie Claire’s 20-Minute Workout

I wrote about how great this workout can be for kids, but it’s great for anyone who wants a short workout. It requires no equipment except for a time keeper.

Why I’m Crazy About It

It’s a great workout to do when you travel because you do stairs. It’s also easy to make it a ten-minute workout by doing just one round.

Chalene Johnson's Turbo Fire

#6 Chalene Johnson’s Turbo Fire

The complete set of DVDs in Turbo Fire includes 15-, 20-, and 25-minute high-intensity interval workouts. You’ll get your heart rate up and can get on with your day. This is the most expensive option I’ve listed at about $70 at the time of this writing. BeachBody does have sales, however.

Why I’m Crazy About It

Chalene has a way of making you feel like exercise is great fun. She’s the most energetic fitness instructor out there.


Choose one of these workouts to start with OR simply modify a tougher workout. Just because a workout runs for an hour, you’re not required to do it all. I often do just 15-20 minutes of a longer workout. Right now I am doing that with the excellent workouts from Roca Body Fitness.

Want more fitness inspiration? Follow my board on Pinterest.
Follow Dr. Melanie Wilson @psychowith6’s board Fitness Inspiration on Pinterest.

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A Fitness Sanity Saver for Homeschoolers, Bloggers & Other Sitters

A Fitness Sanity Saver for Homeschoolers, Bloggers & Other Sitters


A fitness sanity saver for homeschoolers, bloggers, and other sitters

Even though fitness is a regular part of my life, I do a lot of sitting. I usually sit to read to the kids and I sit at the computer for many activities. That’s a problem.

The Problem with Sitting

Sitting a lot has been shown to decrease life expectancy. It also decreases caloric burn, thereby contributing to weight gain. Sitting can contribute to a number of physical disorders as outlined in The Washington Post.

Potential Solutions

Taking breaks from sitting  is a great idea. We use the Move app between subjects. It suggests one-minute exercises at regular intervals.

Standing desks are another solution. I purchased this one. standing deskI have to admit I haven’t used it much. I really hate standing. I would rather walk a mile than stand in one place for a minute. I understand that standing has to be worked up to. I would like to work up to standing for at least one work period a day.

Because I like to walk, a treadmill desk is an option. The problem with this for me is the size, the expense, and the small work space.    

I write with my ASUS Transformer attached to a large monitor. Here’s my review of the ASUS Transformer if you’re looking for a compact laptop.

The latest option I heard about was the FitDesk. This is smaller and less expensive than a treadmill desk. But the size of the work space is still an issue. I would have to work using only my small laptop, which isn’t optimal.

The Fitness Sanity Saver That Works for Me

In considering the former options, I found the DeskCycle. It meets all my needs. It is small and fits under my desk/work table, inexpensive, and allows me to use my full-size monitor. I am using it while I write this. It doesn’t move and is completely quiet. While I still need to get up and walk around every hour, I feel very good about staying active during long stretches at the computer. I did a review of it on Periscope if you want to see exactly how I’m using it.

Follow my Fitness Inspiration board for more ideas.

Follow Dr. Melanie Wilson @psychowith6’s board Fitness Inspiration on Pinterest.

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Six Easy Ways to Get Your Kids Exercising

Six Easy Ways to Get Your Kids Exercising

Are Your Kids and Grandkids Getting Enough Exercise?

Kids spend a big part of the day sitting doing school. Even if your child participates in sports, they may not be spending enough time moving. But don’t worry, you don’t have to add another sport to your already busy schedule. There are simple strategies for squeezing in more fitness time.

  1. Lift weights. You’ve probably heard that lifting weights is for kids in their late teens only, and if you’ve seen any videos of kids who have taken fitness to extremes, you probably believe that’s good advice. But just as weight training is vitally important for adult fitness, lifting light weights in a controlled manner is important for kids. Strong Kids, Healthy Kids presents evidence that slow weight training is particularly suited to children because the light weights and repetitions avoid injury. What’s even better for busy parents is that slow weight training gets results in less workout time than traditional exercise. Using forms to track kids’ progress is especially motivating for them.
  2. Do pushups. While I’m tempted to add other superb exercises like squats and sit-ups to this list, pushups alone are a fantastic form of exercise. They strengthen the entire upper body and the core. One way my husband has motivated our kids to stay fit doing pushups is to pay them for doing a certain number of pushups a day for a month. Of course, you wouldn’t want to use this strategy for life (you could go broke quickly!), but offering a reward is a great way to jump start your kids’ interest in fitness. Once they’ve gotten good at pushups, have them move up to doing burpees.
  3. Use a kids’ video. I’ve tried out a number of kids’ videos, and I really like Kick to Get Fit for Kids. It’s very instructional and what kid doesn’t like to kick? Some kids like to kick too much (like my son in the video who kept “accidentally” kicking his sister), so make sure you allow plenty of room. I like to have the kids workout with this during our mid-morning break if the weather isn’t cooperating.
  4. Make it routine. One of my friends has her kids run a pre-planned circuit through the neighborhood each morning and keeps track of their time. I like to have the kids use the trampoline or play outdoor games during our mid-morning recess. The key is doing a little exercise on a regular basis.
  5. Take up a family sport. Having one child play soccer while the family watches from the sidelines isn’t a family sport, despite the fact that team sports are rewarding in other ways. Playing a sport or enjoying an exercise activity together is not only wonderful for your child’s fitness, but builds family closeness. Our family loves tennis, bike riding, and hiking. There are so many options! If you aren’t sure what to do, make it a family project to try lots of activities until you find the one that works.
  6. Play fitness games together. I mentioned in a post on getting your child’s screen time under control that we originally bought the kids a Wii thinking that it would keep the kids active. Unfortunately, the inactive games soon became more popular. But we’ve noticed that if Mom or Dad or aunts or grandparents will play with our kids, they love the active games again. Dance games can really be a lot of fun (kids love it when we make fools of ourselves) and what’s better is that you’ll get more exercise, too. You know you need it! We all do.

How do you get your kids to spend more time exercising?


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How to Homeschool and More on TaskCurrent

How to Homeschool and More on TaskCurrent

I’ve spoken of my fondness for TaskCurrent before, but now you might say we’re in a relationship.

I’m one of their featured authors currently providing streams on homeschooling, fitness motivation, and dealing with difficult people.

If you own an iDevice, I highly recommend you download TaskCurrent at the App Store.

TaskCurrent allows you to sign up for streams–a topic-focused series of mini blog posts with associated to-do’s. These are like little shots of wisdom and advice that take no time to read.

Here’s what LifeHacker had to say about TaskCurrent. I like that the developers want family-friendly content and they’ve been really wonderful to work with.

I’ve created one stream for new homeschoolers and those who love them.

If you’re brand new to homeschooling, you will love my How to Homeschool stream as it makes the process very simple, with the best resources to get you started. But if you’re a veteran, you’ll love my stream, too. It’s the perfect thing to recommend to people who ask you how to get started homeschooling. Have I mentioned that it’s free? You’ll find it in the education category.

I’ve also created two streams for motivating you in fitness and relationships.

The first is 15 Days of Fitness Inspiration. I’ve collected 15 videos, articles, and blog posts that will help you finally get fit. It’s like 5-hour Energy for fitness, without the shakes and insomnia. You’ll find it in the Health & Fitness Category.

The second stream I authored that may be of interest is a series on dealing with difficult people. I combined a number of blog posts I’ve written on the topic into a series of advice. Unfortunately, this has been a really popular topic for me! You’ll find it in the Relationships Category.

I will have more streams available in the future, but for now:

  • please download the free app
  • subscribe to one or more of my streams
  • and spread the word!
  • If you like my streams, please rate them. (If you don’t like them, I don’t mind if you’re too busy to rate.)

When you share this on your favorite social media, you will help people find my streams (and other helpful streams) on TaskCurrent and God willing, help change people’s lives. Thanks in advance for helping me help others!

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10 New Apps to Get Things Done

10 New Apps to Get Things Done

One of my hobbies is trying new applications to make life easier, more productive, or just more fun. These ten applications have been added to by productivity arsenal in recent weeks.

  1. ActiveInbox You may recall my love affair with Goodtodo. The Goodtodo website and accompanying iPhone app helped me get to inbox zero and stay there. There was only one thing I didn’t like about it and that is that it isn’t fully integrated with Gmail, my email client of choice. In other words, while I could forward emails into Goodtodo (and that’s the point), I often had to go back into Gmail to access emails with lots of links, as these aren’t clickable in Goodtodo. I had heard of ActiveInbox before, but was put off by the Getting Things Done moniker. I don’t use every aspect of the GTD approach. What I didn’t realize is that ActiveInbox does everything that Goodtodo does and more. While it’s not meant to be your primary task manager, that’s exactly how I’m using it and I love it. I have the paid version and feel it’s worth every penny.


2. Springpad Everyone knows Evernote and lots of people love it. I liked it, too, but had a         particular frustration. I didn’t like that I couldn’t make a checklist that I could easily rearrange         or easily make a note that was a task to complete. Springpad does that and more. The user         interface is much more appealing to me as well.


3. SmartPad Even though I have my tasks neatly organized in ActiveInbox, I have days when I don’t know how I’m going to fit it all in. One app I love to use in that situation is SmartPad. This iPad app tells you how much you can get done given your schedule and time you have to work. If you dawdle, you can watch the tasks you hoped to accomplish fade from possibility. SmartPad will soon integrate with a SmartDay website which will make the app even more user friendly.

Mark Forster Free_app_wunderlist_task_manager_1



4. Final VersionWunderlist The man pictured above is not an app, but Mark Forster, who comes up with a new productivity approach every few months. As long as you don’t think of the “Final Version” as the be-all-end-all, but rather as a fun way to gamify your task list, you might enjoy it. I like to use it when I am feeling unmotivated and then Wunderlist is the iPhone app I use. As you tap the stars to indicate that this is a task you prefer to do before the last starred task, the items are put in order at the top of the list for you to begin working on.


5. Clear This is another iPhone app that works for doing the Final Version or just as a great list app. The beauty of it is its simple, clean interface. To make an item a priority, move it up on the list and it’s in the red zone. To add an item between items, simply spread your fingers apart to make room for the new one. If you just want a simple means of organizing tasks in terms or priority, Clear is a great option.


6. Schedule Planner Pro Research shows that we accomplish more of the tasks we schedule. This iPhone app not only allows you to schedule your tasks, but compare what you actually did with what you planned. It’s not perfect, but I love the concept and will use the app when I am working on schedule discipline.


7. Task Current I think of the  Task Current iPhone app as a Fun To Do list that I can use to inspire me or even as a reward for doing less-than-fun to do’s.


8. Fitocracy Fitocracy is a seriously addictive website/iPhone app for people like me who thrive on compliments. This diverse community will make you feel like a million bucks for completing your workout, whether you’re a seasoned exerciser or just getting started. There are groups for Christians, but I’ve found the whole community to be very supportive. I was doing squat thrusts at 11:00 p.m. just to finish a “quest” and earn the approval of my fellow fitocrats. What on earth?

9. Daily Feats In case you were wishing there was a pat-on-the-back app for things like housework and parenting, I have good news. Daily Feats gives you points, social approval, and even tangible rewards for doing tasks related to your goals. While company reps are often giving out what are called “props” and sharing links to their products, I’ve found it to be welcome as the products are appropriate to my goals.

10. 750 words Are you a writer who wishes there was a social gaming app to help you get writing done? There is! Earn points for logging 750 words into this writers’ website and compare yourself to others with writing muscle.

What new apps have you found for getting things done? 



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The Fundamental Habits of the Super Fit

The Fundamental Habits of the Super Fit

The Fundamental Habits of the Super Fit

This week, our friend Gari sent out this great list that he lives by. Not only does Gari live it, but he inspires others to live likewise. He challenged his friends to do 3000 pushups this month (100 a day for 30 days). My husband in turn challenged our kids to participate, offering a financial incentive so good that I had to take the bait, too. Last night when I was finishing my last 20 pushups of 100 for the day very late at night, I was cursing him (sorry, Gari!), but I admire Gari’s attitude and commitment so much. Even if you’re more into faith than fitness, I think you’ll find that these habits translate very well.

Gari11. They don’t think of their fitness as work, but rather a way of life.

It’s kind of like taking a shower; you don’t need one, but you just don’t feel right the rest of the day.

2. They don’t skip workouts.

They take training days as serious as a Dr’s appointment. Appointments and meetings get scheduled around their workout time, not the other way around.

3. They take their rest as seriously as their workouts.

They know that in order to perform at their best and to get the most out of their bodies, they have to give it a rest. Rest days and sleep are as essential as the workouts themselves.

Gari river


4 They eat to fuel their goals.

Everything they eat serves a purpose. Protein for muscles, carbs for energy, and produce for vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Treats are done, but never over-done.

5 They tune everything out when they workout.

Focus. They know that anything you give your undivided attention to works out better. Being in tune with your body allows them to make tweaks, and know which tweaks to make.



6 They push through frustration.

If you think it’s easy for the super fit to get fit,and stay fit, you’re wrong. They’re highly competitive and always striving to hit new goals. They struggle like everyone else with busy lives. Stress, plateaus, fatigue, and frustration. But there isn’t a thought of giving up, it’s just a matter of finding their answer.

7 They prepare their food in advance.

They know what they’ll be eating the whole day. If they don’t bring their food, they know what they can order off menus and what they can find at a grocery store. Drive-thrus don’t exist in their world.

8 They use their flaws as motivators, not a reason to give up.

They see their flaws (even if you don’t) and despise them like everyone else. But rather then letting their flaws bring them down,,they use them to motivate themselves.

9 They envision the win-goal-finish line every day.

The goal is crystal clear in their mind. The thought of the sculpted body or winning the race always keeps them motivated. Regardless of life’s pressures, they race towards the winner’s tape.

10 Persistence, persistence, persistence.

Yes… they are persistent!

11 There are no excuses.

They learn early that excuses are time-suckers and don’t get you anywhere near your goals. Better to get it done than whine about why you didn’t.

12 There is no giving up.

Enough said…

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us – Hebrews 12:1

Which of these habits do you struggle with the most?

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