Why I follow Jessica Alba’s Workout Rules and Break Jillian Michaels’

There are some pros and cons about being a first born rule follower. Con: I can be predictable. Pro: I can set my own rules around things I want / know I need to do and then I have to do them because as a rule follower, I am obligated.

Over the years, I have created a series of rules about working out. Some follow Jessica Alba (i.e. 1 and 5), while some (like #5) contradict Jillian Michaels. Most importantly, I whole-heartedly embrace Jessica Alba’s mindset that my diet, not my exercise, impacts my weight. After pneumonia side-lined me for 6 weeks (doctor’s orders) and my weight did not change by a single pound (which was shocking to me), I learned that exercise is for taking care of my body, my strength, and my mental clarity.

These rules have helped me establish a habit. The great things about good habits: even when I don’t feel like doing it, I do it (also the problem with bad habits!)


I normally don’t run in bun hair and make-up, but we had a playdate that am for which I actually got dressed. And shockingly, my hair stayed put like this. There was no bouncing!

Here are the rules that keep me behaving.

  1. Time and Day Requirement
    • Almost everything in life has a time requirement for it to count. The standard rules:
      • Work: 8 hours per day, 5 days per week
      • Sleep: 7-8 hours per night, 7 nights per week
      • Church: 1 hour per day, 1 day per week (full disclosure: I’ve been lacking on this one lately.)
    • Why not set a similar standard to dedicate time to take care of my body?
      • My minimum is 30 minutes per day, 4 days per week (with an optional 5th day).
      • 30 minutes is 1/48th of the day. Or 1/16th of the time we allocate to work! It can be squeezed in during lunch, before the sun breaks or after dinner. 30 minutes is 30 more than zero and plenty of time to sweat, get my heart rate up and do something good for my body (not to mention enough to release mounds of endorphins).
  2. Be an Athlete too: Never watch a sporting event without working out in the same day (preferably before it so I can enjoy a beverage during it). This rule was a lot more effective pre-kids, when we’d often attend or watch games on a whim. Those days are far less, but this rule still helps (especially during March Madness).
  3. Record and Measure it: Teachers keep attendance records and grades. Work keeps performance reviews. My health is just as important so I track it too. I write down what I did and the days I took off (all in the old-school planner I still live and die by). This keeps me accountable. Plus, writing “off” is pretty painful.
  4. The 2-day Weekend Rule: A workout break should never be longer than a work-week break (barring the obvious like an injury, pneumonia, the 4 weeks post-partum, etc.) We only give work and school a two day break, why give making my mind and body stronger any more? This also helps me keep a cadence and momentum.
  5. Mix It Up: Running is my first love, but variety is important. My bag of tricks includes: spinning, classes, weight training, yoga and even the elliptical. The elliptical gets so much bad press, but I keep it in the rotation because there are days when life calls for it. Its main function is to keep me on track. When I studied for the NC bar, I was working full time and studying in all the other hours. I couldn’t afford full work-outs, but I didn’t want to sacrifice working out for 6 weeks or the habit I had established. Solution: the elliptical. I could study my outlines while on it, break a little sweat and not break my workout routine. Once the bar was over it was easy to transition right back into a workout schedule.
  6. Look into the Hill: In 7th grade, my cross country coach pulled me out of Mrs. Watson’s english class to tell me something: Look into the hill. Anyone who attended grade school with me likely just spit coffee all over their phone or computer (sorry about that) because I am quoting Jeff Sinclair. But seriously, this little nugget turns out to be life-long advice that is so versatile. I know where the top is. I have a plan to get there. I focus on each step and before I know it – I’m at the top. I take this advice literally, like pushing the double jogger up the hill to the Big Four bridge last weekend. I just kept repeating to myself: “look into the hill. You can do this.” And figuratively, keeping my body healthy is about the little steps I take everyday.


    That face! I hesitated putting this picture in, but it’s honest. Sometimes running is hard, but I am so proud of completing that run on Sunday that it still feels good!

With that, I’m off to the the hotel gym! Have a great day!



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