Today Trainer Paul asked me about my cardio routine, and it got me thinking about how I keep it fresh, and what I do for fun. Because if I don’t have fun, nothing gets me moving. And if I don’t move, I don’t lose.

Here’s my secret: music.

Shhhh. Don’t tell anyone. I’m only sharing this with you.

Now, most important is you have an iPod or other mp3 player that shuffles. You never want to listen to your music in the same order. It’s like changing up your weight routine to avoid muscle complacency. Avoid ennui. Because boredom is bad.

Next, find music you really like. Make playlists. Make sure that you have a good mix of slow and fast and very fast. Make your playlist at least five songs longer than your longest workout, so you don’t hear the same songs every time, and if you’re not in the mood for a song, you can skip it. And for heaven’s sake, freshen up your playlist every now and then.

Finally, here’s what you do. Match your pace to the rhythm of the song. Starting out with a slower song is often a good idea, just to help you warm up. If you want to get your heart beating harder but the pace isn’t very fast, pump your arms, take big strides, maybe do some lunge-walking.

If you walk outside, bring hand weights if you’re up to it, and really get your arms moving when the music gets going.

If you treadmill it, use the incline. Always have the incline at at least .5 (but 1.0 is, of course better). If a song is slower, your incline can be much higher. And work hard to keep your hands of the rails–use them to pump it!

As many of you know, I love my Polar Heart Rate Monitor watch. I do not stay in one zone all the time–for example, I will be in the 135-140 zone for one song, then in the upper 150s, then in the low 130s, then I’ll be in the low 170s. Push, recovery. Push, recovery.

I am the person who is doing dorky little steps along with my music. I am the crazy woman smiling on the treadmill next to the man running full-tilt at a speed of 8. He’s grunting, sweating buckets, pounding, and I’m swinging my arms, singing, and grinning like a maniac. It brings joy to my workout.

And, it gets me moving.

Here’s my Getting to 120 (as in pounds lost) playlist (which, of course, plays randomly):

1901 (Phoenix)
Waking Up in Vegas (Katy Perry)
Uprising (Muse)
Animal (Neon Trees)
I Don’t Know (The Replacements)
Cold Day in the Sun (Foo Fighters)
Great Expectations ( The Gaslight Anthem)
Anesthesia (Bad Religion)
Flat Earth Society (Bad Religion)
Boy (Ra Ra Riot)
Holiday (Vampire Weekend)
Dashboard (Modest Mouse)
1983 (Neon Trees)
Funhouse (Pink)
Love Song (Sara Barilles)
You Got Your Cherry Bomb (Spoon)
Out Here All Night (Damone)
California Gurls (Katy Perry & Snoop Dogg)
Take Away (Big Drill Car)
No Way Back (Foo Fighters)
Tik Tok (Ke$ha)
Snake Oil Tanker (Alkaline Trio)
Say Hey (I Love You)  (Michael Franti)

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