I’ll often hear many people, usually women, complain about their upper body strength. Most likely, this is because women (and I know I’m generalizing here) tend to stick to cardio like running, biking, or ellipticalling, which is great for their health, hearts, and legs, but they’re completely ignoring an important part of their body! Or else, they aren’t working out at all.

There is no judgement in this post, I’m just pointing out what I’ve heard and trying to remedy that! Cardio is easy- hold the pitchforks- in the sense that you hop on the machine or head outside and you pretty much know what to do.

Strength training is intimidating. There is equipment involved, whether complicated looking machines, funny-looking dumbbells, heavy-looking barbells, or the even stranger kettlebell to name a few. Also, it can be difficult to know what to do and why.

If you are starting out with weight training, exercising, or coming back from an injury, I recommend checking out the weight machines offered at the gym (this is the only time I’d recommend the machines for the record).

Otherwise, if you’re interested in lifting, take the time to do some research, whether in online tutorials or trainers at your gym (we’re always happy to help!) to learn exercises and the proper technique, whether the workout involves equipment or body strength.

Below is an upper body workout that targets all the main muscle groups, including the biceps, triceps, shoulders, back, and chest. If you perform each move properly, the core will always be engaged.

Upper Body 1

Come back next week to check out the lower body workout!

weekend report

Greetings, Monday! I’m one tired girl, but it’s all thanks to a great weekend.

Things got started the right way after work on Friday with a margarita and some chips and salsa with some friends. After, I watched some Netflix and happily slumbered my way into Saturday morning.

I had a hankering for some bacon, so I delayed breakfast in favor of grocery shopping and it actually helped beat the crowd! Breakfast was all the more delicious. After some hydration, I headed to the gym and knocked out a killer workout that involved strength training and a HIIT-inspired run. I was a sweaty, but happy mess.

I got a lot of chores done, including meal prepping for Monday, which always feels satisfying.

That night, I headed to Hollywood Forever Cemetery to take in a viewing of The Wizard of Oz. With some wine, cheese and crackers, popcorn, and friends, it was a great night. And a beautiful one to sit under the stars.

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I actually thought this picture was a lot nicer when I snapped it, but I guess it gets the point across…

On Sunday, I was up bright and early for a day at Disneyland to celebrate my cousin’s birthday. There’s nothing quite like Disney that makes you both walk and eat a ton.

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It was a great day, into the night, but I was a tired girl by the end of it.

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#ThrowBackThursday to that time I met Sarah Michelle Gellar.

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Oh, sorry, too soon to be a throwback?

Wednesday morning started precariously with me waking up only seconds before my alarm, which is cruel when you think you can go back to sleep. Traffic was bad and I fell and hit my knee pretty hard, but once I was at work and sipping on some coffee, I decided I wasn’t going to let those beginnings define my day. Power of positive thinking works and I had a standard, stellar Wednesday!

My meals are probably feeling a little boring to you, but I’ll share them anyway.

Breakfast featured another bowl of oats with the fixings (walnuts, raisins, banana) with a scoop of peanut butter to make things creamier.

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Lunch was more of the same with quinoa and beans, brussels sprouts, and spinach with soyaki. My post-workout dinner was grilled chicken and pasta with a whopping salad that hit the spot.

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Said workout was strength training (back, biceps, and core) with a dosage of cardio on the spin bike. Nothing particularly interesting occurred, but I’ll take that any day!

Rock on, Thursday!

Happy Birthday!

Happiest of birthdays to this kid:

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Who now looks like this:

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You keep on making your big sisters feel old, but also proud. I can’t believe you’re 21!

In non-related news, I am currently nursing a painful lower body injury that I’m hoping doesn’t last long. I’m not sure what the source of the pain is as it started in my foot and some how traveled up to my left hip and mid-lower back. Ouch! It really flared up when I started to lift this morning, so I stopped and stretched, then stuck to a half hour of cardio to try to warm up the muscles. Listen to your body!

My lunch was this stir fry made with teriyaki ginger chicken meatballs, zoodles, pepper, carrots, and spinach.

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Before I leave you on this Thursday, I saw this post on my Facebook newsfeed and I can’t deny how much I identify with this child.

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Have a drink for Jimmy tonight!

Sit Up Straight! No, But Really, You Should Do That

Is everybody recovering from their (hopefully) fun-filled Labor Day weekend?

Saturday morning, I opened at work, but I was out by noon and ready to enjoy a weekend! After lunch, I picked up my friend Nouha and we headed out to the store. Now’s the perfect time to buy a bathing suit because everything is on sale. Now is not the perfect time to buy a bathing suit because 1. they are hard to find in the store 2. all products are tossed together in one section regardless of size, shape, and match.

Fun fact: I found the bathing suit of my choice lying on a dressing room bench. It was 75% off and I just so happened to have a gift card, so I spent a whopping $3.44. Time well spent.

After our shopping trip, Nouha and I walked the five mile trek around a local lake. It was hot, but trees shaded us for the most part and things didn’t feel too bad. We rewarded ourselves with frozen yogurt after- mint chocolate chip is amazing! When I got home, my legs were still itching for a bit of a workout, so I took off for a run. By the end, I reached five more miles for a wonderful and exhausting tally of 10 miles.

The ability to walk/run 10 miles = my strength for Saturday.

I came home and grilled up the rest of the tilapia for another delicious meal! As I settled into study for the rest of the night, my parents came home and bullied me into going over to my neighbors’ house to sit by the fire pit. I say this in jest as it did not take much to tear me away from my textbook. It was the weekend after all!

On Sunday, I got to try out my new bathing suit. I had one goal in mind when it came to selecting a new suit: I wanted something I did not need to keep adjusting as I dove into the waves. I am a big beach girl so far as I love the ocean. Yes, it scares me because, sharks. Pools are also very nice and safer because, no sharks.

But there is something majestic about the salty water, the push and pull of waves, and connection to nature. So long as I can see through the water and there isn’t any seaweed hooking its way around me, or, sharks, I’m a happy girl.

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This picture just proves I have a humungous forehead. But at least it’s a happy forehead. Every dive into the wave on Sunday, and trust me, I was in the water for over an hour so there were a lot, gave me my strength.

As far as food on Sunday, I had a toast breakfast before the beach, a deliciously well-crafted sandwich for lunch, and barbecue for dinner (hot dog, grilled chicken, the fixings). On the way home, we stopped at Dairy Queen and I indulged in a blizzard- reese’s cup!

Monday morning, I set my alarm early to get in a workout before work. I started with a dumbbell strength circuit and I was feeling tired. I think it has to do with all the wave-diving of the previous day. I followed my strength routine up with a core circuit. I’ve been more devoted to core strength since I started studying for my personal training cert, as I grow increasingly aware of how important posture is for the body to function.

True Life: I am a sloucher.

Listen to your mamas and papas, folks, and stand/sit/walk with that head held up high and back straight. Damn.

To end things on a high note, I rocked a plyometric circuit that left me nice and sweaty. Before a few hours of work, I showered and stuffed down a peanut butter wrap, feeling strong to start my day.

I was out of work by noon and ready to relax by the pool. I fully intended to swim, but the water was a little chilly and I tried to take things slow by sitting on a raft. Relaxing turned into a full blown nap and I only woke up when a bird cawed loudly in the distance. For my life purposes, I am thankful I did not topple over into the water. For blogging purposes, I am thoroughly disappointed I could not share a story of me tumbling into the water with you.

After my nice nap, it was study time! I have a nice feeling about the nervous, skeleton, and endocrine systems, but the muscular system is still proving to be difficult to comprehend. I’ll get there, I hope.

Dinner was tilapia once again. This piece was intended to be spread over two meals, which means, yay! I don’t have to cook much for lunch. I topped it with thin slices of butter and a lemon pepper seasoning. Since it was a slightly thicker piece, I cooked the fish for six minutes on the first side and four for the second. Perfection! I paired the fish with a heaping portion of broccoli and a sweet potato topped with butter and cinnamon.

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I met up with my friend Molly to walk. We haven’t seen each other since our Californian adventures, so it was great to catch up! I’m not sure how far we got, but I do know there were a ton of laborious hills that left my legs feeling sore today. Chatting away as day gave into night and it was still hot as balls  was my moment of strength for Monday.

Before bed, I put in a few more hours of studying.

This morning, I woke up and made myself a pancake breakfast. Pancakes, peanut butter, jelly, coconut, and a berry bowl = delicious.

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The cakes with ample water and coffee left me feeling energized and ready to attack my strength workout. Now to get to it!

Dobby’s Left Sock: Should Have Gone for the Right One Too

I know what you’re going to say: “You started this 80 Days of Strength thing, then let it fall apart on the second day.” I can’t promise that I’ll be able to update every day, but I will promise to share my strength with you the next time. I had very important business to take care of yesterday and starting work at 6:30 AM was only one of them.

Once I got out of work, it was time to make my way to pick up my sister, Lauren. I had a hankering for an iced coffee all day, so I made a brief stop. Once I scooped Lauren, it was off to meet my friends Katie and Erin so that we could stake out our spots for Harry Potter trivia.

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We were sitting at the bar for a good three hours before trivia even began. This was serious business. There is not much in this life that I can claim I know well, but Harry Potter is one of them. I think there were two questions total that we had no idea, but even in those, we were close. This happened before my annual reread too! At one point, Lauren pulled mimbulus mimbletonia out of the darkest recesses of her mind and I came up with kneazle with two seconds to spare. I can’t lie and say it didn’t feel good that we were in first place the entire time. Except for when it counted, of course.

Let me just assure you that Dobby’s Left Sock did not lose because we got the questions wrong. We lost in Sudden Death because we were not positive about the answer and we didn’t bet enough points. Of course those placed in second and third would risk more and we should have too. Turns out, we were right and we would have won. This is something that will haunt me to my grave. Go ahead and put on my tombstone, “Death by Ragnuk the Goblin playing with an Erumpet Horn.” I guess you had to be there. I’m so sorry we failed you JK Rowling, but Dobby’s New-and-Improved Left Sock will be back at it as soon as another trivia event comes up and you bet your house-elf, we will bet it all. And win.

I didn’t make it back home until after 11:00 PM and I went straight to bed, considering the disappointment. Did I mention it was for money? No, no. It’s fine. It’s all just fine. (It’s too bad you can’t see my sarcastic anger in this. I bet you can feel it.) It’s almost karmic because whenever I watch Jeopardy or other game shows, I get mad when people don’t bet it all and then end up losing. I didn’t follow my own rules!

Oh, but look! Look at what Harry Potter inspired me to do:

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So where did my strength come from yesterday? Having confidence in my ability to know and do something. This might sound silly, but dominating at Harry Potter trivia is a skill. It made me feel exceedingly nervous throughout because I am an impatient person, but having the (somewhat useless) knowledge is still having knowledge. And being able to play with my sister and friends, laughing and winning and losing by default on our own terms.

This morning, I made myself an egg, cheese, and chicken sausage breakfast sandwich that I enjoyed with a side of fruit, including half a banana and a scoop of almond butter. This kept me fueled for a few hours of work before I changed into my exercise clothes and worked off my energy in the gym. I added some fuel to the tank with a serving of roasted almonds and red grapes, which kept me going and feeling strong, but not pulled down.

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It was heavy strength day and I was feeling powerful. I hit a lot of highs in my weights, which included deadlifts, clean and presses, rows, squat presses, leg presses, and bench presses. For cardio, I focused on interval training: box jumps, jump rope, skater jumps, high knees, and lunges. I was still feeling strong, so I took it onto the mat for a core workout that made my abs feel sad. I worked through a circuit of push ups, grasshoppers, alternating ankle grabs, sit ups, and a move that combined hundreds and Russian twists into one (I don’t know why I do that to myself). My body wanted to hang out in a shoulder stand for awhile as well, so I did that along with a series of planks. My final piece of my workout for the day was ten minutes on the bike, four of which consisted of cycling as fast as I could for twenty seconds and resting for ten.

For lunch, I wanted to try something a little different. Here’s one of the recipes I was talking about wanting to make that I actually made! I chopped up a sweet potato and tossed it into a pan with garlic and olive oil. I dumped in a can of chickpeas followed by chopped red pepper and baby spinach. I finished things off with a sprinkling of red pepper flakes, coriander, and onion powder. Fun Fact! I don’t like the texture of onions (except for onion rings, which is embarrassing), but I can’t deny the flavor they bring to a dish. This was a nice compromise for me!

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My strength today came in the form of simply tossing a few ingredients together and creating something healthy and delicious. Healthy eating does not mean compromising taste and enjoyment. I suppose I should also say, my strength came in having the power to lift heavy things and put them down again without dropping them on myself (or someone else).

What do you say? Are you with me on this?

Top o’ The Mornin’ To Ya

We are ignoring the constant sniffling and soreness sneaking its way down my throat. We’ll chalk it up to the wind and singing as loud as I could on my way home. To stave off this impending cold, I’ve been popping vitamin C cough drops and drinking as much tea and water as I can stomach. The gym was fine this morning because once I got up, the sniffles weren’t so bad. I knew that getting up and going to the gym was my only option because once that alarm goes off, I’m pretty much up anyways and I wouldn’t make the best of the extra sleep I could have had.  I told myself that if I ever got to the point where I wasn’t feeling well, I could take it easy, but it never reached that.

I started out with a body strength workout and some stability/medicine ball action. I did have Burpees on the menu, but I cut that out the second I got there. It wasn’t the day to push myself that hard. The first circuit included step ups, split squats, push ups, mountain climbers, hip lifts, and side plank twists. The second circuit had rollouts, kneeling kickbacks, mermaid raises, hundreds, sit ups, and Russian twists. After, I headed down to the pool for some cardio and fit in a half hour of laps. The cold didn’t hit me so bad until well into the work day, so at least I got in a great workout! My meals for the day started with a little sweetness in the form of French toast. My batter included an egg, a splash of milk, pumpkin, vanilla, and cinnamon. I soaked two pieces of whole wheat sour dough bread and after frying it on the pan, topped it with peanut butter, jelly, and some shredded coconut for staying power. It was so satisfying and yummy and kept me nice and full until lunch. photo 1 For lunch, I threw some leftover macaroni and cheese into a dish and served it with a fresh salad. I love the combination of the vibrant, crisp veggies and the warm, cheesy goodness. photo 2 Dinner took us to our Irish roots. Since the weekend is looking pretty busy for us all, my mom wanted to cook a traditional Irish meal in honor of St. Patrick’s Day while we were all around. We always have smoked shoulder instead of corned beef, with boiled potatoes, cabbage, carrots, and turnip. Once a year it’s a treat! I remember only ever liking the potatoes when I was younger and my Nana would make it for us, but now my favorite part is the cabbage.

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