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Best Tips for Workout Success + Free Printable Fitness and Food Tracker

It is no secret that I love to workout. Today I’m sharing my best tips for workout success plus a free printable planner to use to track your fitness and food.

Best Tips for Workout Success

Best Tips for Workout Success

Working out started for me when I joined my mom for aerobics classes at our local elementary school as a teen.

Mama and I put on our leotards and tights with leg warmers and sweated to tunes of the 80s.

Our aerobics teacher took me to the Y to do weights and it was love at first lift. We weren’t doing free weights back then, we did Nautilus machines.

I started exercising with free weights at the beginning of 1992 and enjoy it as much now as I did back then.

Paula Skulina working out at Total Fitness in Lynchburg, VA

After 28 years of seriously working out, I have some tips for workout success that have worked for me.

Tip One: Make a plan

Before your workout, decide what you plan to do and how long you plan to do it.

If you are walking, running, or biking, think about either the distance you want to accomplish or the time you want to spent doing your workout.

A plan makes it much easier to keep going knowing you have a certain distance or time goal.

Paula Skulina working out at Total Fitness in Lynchburg, VA

If you are working out at a gym, plan out your workout before entering the gym. If you know what you want to accomplish, you’ll accomplish it.

For example, a plan might be:

  • Cardio – 20 minutes on the treadmill
  • Weights – 30 minutes: Back, biceps, quads, hamstring
  • Core – 10 minutes: mat work

When I go to the gym, I keep in mind exactly what weight exercises I want to do for each body part that I want to train. I also plan out which machines I will use and which exercises I will do with free weights.

Remember what Benjamin Franklin said: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Tip Two: Workout with a Partner

Back when I could still run, I met my running partner at 5:45 am to run before school. If you know that your partner is counting on you to show up, you’ll be there.

I found the same to be true with taking cycle class. My back no longer allows me to take cycle class but I used to do a class every Tuesday and Thursday at 6:00 am at the YMCA.

I rarely missed because I loved seeing my cycle class buddies and if I missed, the next class, my friends asked where I was.

Tip Three: Hire a Trainer or Attend a Class

I have had ongoing back trouble since 2011, but my back really started to give me big problems in 2017. I’ve found that a weekly PT visit keeps it in check enough to be able to walk, lift weights, and garden.

My PT’s husband is a trainer and I decided to start working with him in August of 2018. Heather and Ken work together to keep me going. Heather explained my back trouble to Ken and he designs workouts that include movements that are safe for me to do.

Paula Skulina working out at Total Fitness in Lynchburg, VA

I lifted weights on my own for 27 years at the YMCA. I worked hard but I work even harder working with Ken. He has me do exercises that I wouldn’t think to do and if he tells me to do it, I do it. If I were alone at the gym, if I didn’t particularly like an exercise, I wouldn’t do it.

If you are interested in weight training but don’t know what to do, find a class. Most gyms have classes that incorporate weights. It’s great to attend a class where a teacher guides the workout and can monitor the class participants for proper form.

My cousin does Crossfit and loves it! She loves the variety of programming and the encouragement that she both gets and gives the others who workout with her.

Tip Four – Prep Workout Gear Ahead of Time

If your goal is to workout at a gym after work, pack your gym bag the night before and have it in your car. Stopping at the gym on the way home from work is a lot easier than going home with the plan to change and then head out to the gym.

When I was still teaching, almost every time that I went home after school with the intention of going to the gym later ended in not going at all.

If your plan is to workout in the morning before work, the night before, place your workout outfit, shoes, and water bottle in one spot, ready to go. The next morning, getting ready to workout requires no thought.

Paula Skulina working out at Total Fitness in Lynchburg, VA

Tip Five – Time your Workouts

Timing a workout is particularly helpful when you workout at a gym. Why? Well, if you are anything like me, then part of the fun of going to the gym is to talk to people.

Paula Skulina working out at Total Fitness in Lynchburg, VA

Talking to people is not working out, so I time my workouts with my sports watch. A cell phone can also do this. (More on cell phones in a bit.)

I start the timer when I start working out and if someone starts to talk to me, I stop the timer while the conversation is going on and then start it again when I pick back up with my workout.

Timing lets you know exactly how much time you are exercising. A 1.5 hour weight room session may only be an hour of actual exercise for me depending on who I run into.

If you are short on time, exercise while you talk! I do that a lot, too.

Tip Six – Stay off of your phone!

A phone can be a big distraction, so if I’m at the gym, I leave mine in my locker while I’m working out.

For safety and because I like to listen to podcasts, if I walk, I always take my phone but I don’t allow myself to scroll as I walk. If I scroll as I walk, I don’t walk as fast and I’m not paying attention to my surroundings.

Paula Skulina working out at Total Fitness in Lynchburg, VA

I do play on my phone when I ride the stationary bike. I find the stationary bike incredibly boring and playing on my phone makes the cardio time go by quickly.

Tip Seven – Pack a Healthy Snack

When I go to the gym, I always pack a healthy snack to eat in the car on the way home.

Paula Skulina working out at Total Fitness in Lynchburg, VA

I usually pack grapes or an apple and I’ve found that eating after my workout takes the edge off of my hunger and prevents me from eating everything in sight when I get home.

Tip Eight – Drink Water

Be sure to stay hydrated while working out and throughout the day.

Paula Skulina working out at Total Fitness in Lynchburg, VA

My favorite water bottle is a CamelBak. I like the straw and flip top. For some reason, I’ll drink more water from my CamelBak bottle than I will from a glass.

We won’t talk about how many of these bottles I’ve misplaced over the years.

Tip Nine – Wear a Cute Outfit

If you’re going to work out, you may as well look cute while you do it.

Paula Skulina working out at Total Fitness in Lynchburg, VA

If you feel good about what you are wearing, you are likely to work out harder and longer.

Speaking of workout clothes, invest in quality and it will last for years. The top that I’m wearing is from my tennis days and is over ten years old and still is going strong.

Tip Ten – Log Your Workouts

I use this log book to keep a record of my workouts. In my attic, there’s probably at least 20 of these books from previous years.

Not only do I write down what exercises I did, but I also write down any problems that I am having. If a body part is hurting, I make a note of it. If I end up with an injury, having a record of when it started is information that I need to know when seeking treatment.

Paula Skulina working out at Total Fitness in Lynchburg, VA

Since I think it is super important to keep track of your fitness, I am sharing some printables that will help you do just that!

Free Printable Fitness Tracker

I’m sharing a free printable fitness and food tracker to help you keep track of workouts, food and water intake, and weight.

Free Printable Fitness and Food Tracker

I find it very motivating to write down my activity. I also don’t mind writing in Day Off because the human body needs rest days for muscles to recover.

Free Printable Weekly Exercise Log

I don’t keep a food diary but I think that it is a great idea to do so, particularly if you are trying to lose weight.

Free Printable Weekly Food Diary

This page has a spot to record how many calories you’ve consumed each day and a chart to help you drink water. It is so important to drink water.

Free Printable Calorie and Water Tracker

If you’re trying to lose or maintain your weight, use this page to keep track of your progress.

Free Printable Monthly Weight Monitoring Page

How to Access the Fitness Tracker

To access the free printables, subscribe to my blog and you’ll receive a welcoming email with the password. Then head to my free printable library, to print.

If you are already a subscriber, the password can be found in any email from me that you have received.

Workout Ideas

I used to write a Fitness Friday series where I shared exercises that I found to truly work.

These posts are old but the exercises are good ones and there are also videos in many of the posts to show you exactly how to do the exercise.

Enjoy your free printable pages and happy exercising!


  1. HI paula
    Thanks for the reminder to add weights. I was a big runner and then an overuse injury just kept getting in the way.
    I miss running, but finding that breaking a sweat is what I really need.

    Been thinking about you (and Sherman). laura in colorado

    1. I agree with you on the breaking a sweat. I really miss sweating through a run or a cycle class! I have found that the arc trainer at the Y makes me sweat more than any other cardio machine.

      Thank you for thinking about me. Having support from my blogging friends mean so much!


  2. I was so happy to see this in my emails this morning!! I’ve really been thinking about you and your recovery! Thanks for the workout tips and helpful charts…I just started a healthier eating program and needed a little “shot” in the behind to up my exercise!

    Enjoy your weekend,

    1. Thank you so much for thinking about me, June! I got through that pesky procedure and the four screw area on my head are healing nicely. Good luck with your healthier eating program. The nurse who took care of me after my procedure talked to me a long while about a cancer fighting diet. I already had cleaned up my diet somewhat, but after his talk, I’ve been working even harder on eating cancer fighting foods. Good luck with your exercise. I think starting is often the hardest part. Once you get a habit formed, it is much easier to maintain exercising.


    1. Thank you, Rita! It’s not my usual blog content but exercise is one of my favorite things to do.


  3. Paula you are looking great and helping us all look and feel better ‼️👍 especially during Covid
    keep up all your hard work and thanks for taking the time to post all your great info ‼️
    love and positive thoughts 😍🙏

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