body strength workout

For today’s Wednesday Workout of the Week, I want to talk about the value of body strength training. If you only have 20-30 minutes to spare, you can do this workout any and everywhere!

Tricep dips

Tricep dips target the back of the arms, which is a consistent weak spot for women. To make these more challenging, straighten your legs, but make sure the sensation is focused on the back of the arms, not the shoulders or wrists.

IMG_4506.JPG

Push-ups

Push-ups are much maligned, but they are the perfect exercise. It works the total upper body and the core and they can be modified to make easier and more challenging in so many ways. Mastering the push-up is a work of art. Keep

IMG_4499.JPG

Squats

If you have sensitive knees, try using a TRX, if you have access to one, of course, or simply focus on sitting up and standing from a chair. If you feel an air-squat without weight is too easy, try adding a jump to it. Your legs will hate and thank you at the same time. (I didn’t like the picture of my squat from this photoset)

evacait17_orig

Step-ups

I hate this exercise and that’s a good thing! They are challenging and work all of the lower body, while also utilizing the core and testing your balance. Try them on stairs, two at a time if you want the challenge. You can alternate legs or do one at a time with minimal momentum to make it more difficult.

IMG_4505.JPG

Plank

Never are seconds so long then when you are planking. I’m almost sorry. If you must avoid holding a plank at all costs, try them with movement by performing mountain climbers or tapping one shoulder at a time.

IMG_4500.JPG

For body-weight exercises, work on perfecting technique and performing higher reps. These exercises are great when you are starting a routine, looking to keep things simple and quick, or as a supplement to heavy lifting to work on form.

Get moving!

You Can’t Face Swap With Your Dog

Hello party people, it’s Friday! The weekend forecast isn’t looking too promising come Sunday, but I am determined to be positive and have a great weekend.

I have some weird stories and pictures to share with you all today, so I hope you cherish the ridiculous. First, I woke up later than I wanted to on Wednesday as I was covering for someone at work and had to eat breakfast on the go. This is all well and fine, except, I was hankering for waffles and thought they could be portable if I ate it more like a piece of toast than cut up in usual waffle-style. I’ve actually done this before, so I was feeling good until I must have over maple syruped the waffles and the maple syrup dripped everywhere! My steering wheel may never be the same, nor will the inside of my jacket sleeves. I also smelled like maple syrup the rest of the day. Yay, me! *I could have smelled a lot worse!

A couple of nights ago, I finally realized how to use the face swap filter on Snapchat and it did not disappoint- except that I’ve been trying to face swap with my dog and it won’t work. Here’s option one between my mom and me.

IMG_5050.PNG

Kinda spooky, not at all flattering, but overall hilarious.

Second option, I can’t even preface:

IMG_5051.PNG

I kept some of my childhood dolls over the years and decided to have some fun yesterday morning to see if it would work. It did, except, as you can see, my face maintained that weird, creepy smile so everything just went bananas. I disturbed myself with this photo. I’m sorry if you have nightmares tonight!

Now onto a workout recap! This week was 3 sets of 15 reps for each exercise with lower weight and it kicked butt! I used the same workout plans I did the past two weeks, six exercises for each body part, so the breakdown looked like this:

Monday- Biceps, Shoulders, and Core

Tuesday- Rest

Wednesday- Triceps, Chest, and Core

Thursday- Back, Legs, and Core

Friday- Total Body

For today’s workout, I incorporated a ton of moves with kettlebells and plyometrics, which means I really got that heart rate moving! I will be sharing that with you soon! On Wednesday, I also ran and will be heading out for another one tomorrow before the weather gets bad.

Next week’s reps and sets will be pyramid-focused so I’ll start at my highest amount of reps with lowest weight, decreasing the reps and increasing the weight as I go until I’m lifting my heaviest for 2 reps. I like to mix up the reps and sets to keep from plateauing and working my muscles in different ways. For instance, lower weight and longer reps works endurance, heavier weight and lower reps is what builds that strength and power.  Already feeling a little scared, but also excited.

Get moving this weekend and make sure you spend a lot of time with the people you love!

Standing Room Only- Sunday Night Thoughts

I don’t like sitting all day, so I’ve been searching for a place around the house where I can have an office to stand, but everywhere I go I have to hunch over and then I end up sore for all the wrong reasons.

Not anymore!

Have I mentioned I love my new kitchen? Especially the new island counter top where I have set up shop to do all my work. Being able to stand has given me better posture and helps me realize how long I’ve been stationary.

Except of course when you’re working and the cat jumps up and lies down on all of your work….

IMG_0046.JPG

Both my sister and her fiancée requested standing desks at work and love them. In order to avoid any back pain, make sure the computer is at a good elevation where you’re reading. Every so often, I like to include a few squats or calf raises to mix things up and get my blood pumping.

Another big suggestion, especially for those who have to work at a sitting desk, get up and move whenever possible. Force yourself to do this until it becomes a part of your routine that you don’t even have to think about it. I’ve worked a couple of jobs, some more stationary than others, and I’ve been able to find random spaces to stand when sitting became too much.

When I was teaching, I was standing the entire time, which is a very good thing and didn’t make me feel too guilty about going home and sitting at night, though of course this was also after a nice long workout.

Your daily exercise is important, but it’s also important to be moving your whole body throughout the day. Take little walks and get in as many steps as possible. Don’t let the convenience of technology prevent you from being active. Our bodies were meant to move and the effects of not moving have been worsening.

I’ve noticed in schools that teachers have been trying to find ways to get students up more often during class, though I think they definitely have more energy to expend! Healthy bodies are meant to explore and do physical work. I honestly think that if we were as active as they were however long ago, we wouldn’t even need the gym. Alas, we are in these times, so the gym is crucial to health. Just find exercises that incorporate natural movements, like running, swimming, hiking, and strength moves, both body and free weights that don’t rely on machines.

When I was out for brunch today with my friends Andrea and Lauren, we were looking for something to do after. I’ve realized more and more that it’s difficult to do something that’s not centered around eating. Believe me, I love food and eating, both for fuel and for enjoyment, but fun life moments can be enjoyed without it. We ended up walking around a flee market in the square even though it was hot, hot, hot! (I want fall!)

When wanting to be entertained, we are all about consumption. We want to see and receive immediate gratification, but we do far less. That is partly why I had so much fun in New Hampshire this summer because we were up and moving, exploring nature, and being involved in these experiences, rather than just watching and absorbing.

Sometimes, just having the ability to stroll down the street is an extraordinary feat because you learn so much about the world around you. Maybe this sounds cliche or obvious, but in this world, we were given bodies for a reason, and I truly believe it has a lot to do with finding adventures, both physically and mentally. Enjoy the stationary moments, but don’t forget about being involved yourself.

Edit: As my friend Nouha commented on my Facebook, she likes to stand and walk around while she studies because it helps her focus better. Standing is definitely harder than sitting, but it keeps you more alert and aware of what you are doing. Putting in that effort helps to concentrate rather than allows you to zone out into mindless activities, such as my biggest weaknesses, Twitter and Tumblr. I’m more apt to focus on work than browse if I’m standing and realizing it’s a working time.

If anything, give it a try! You may feel mentally exhausted after a long day at work, but being physically exhausted helps you sleep better at night, which lends to improved over all healthy! Convenience does not always mean better!

Step Up, I’m Ready for My Close-Up

One of the big excitements in our family is the pending marriage of my sister Lauren to her fiancé, Nick. It is a big honor that I have been asked to be my sister’s Maid of Honor, and people have taken to calling me MOH. Okay, I’ve been calling myself that, but so have others. Some (my sister) may find my excitement to be over zealous, but I just like to refer to myself as sassy.

Others close to me have received nicknames that have to do, not with the bride, but with the Maid of Honor. For instance, my cousin Mikey is considered to be the MOH assistant, so with affection, we call him MOHAss. His sister Erin, is the assistant to the assistant of MOH and is now MOHhalfass, or at least I think she is. It changes on the regular. My mom’s nickname took off best, MoMOH, mother to MOH. It’s all very silly, but fun. Odds are, if you are in anyway connected to this wedding, you’ll get a nickname in time.

That was just a fun look into my quirky perspective, but it does have some connection to Workout Wednesdays. My goal for this wedding, or I should say hope, is that my excess skin will have tightened. I’ve maintained the same weight for a good two years now and the skin has progressed, but I still have a ways to go. Once this happens sufficiently, I will know if I want to lose more weight or if I feel that I’m in a good place. I have a lot of muscle, which makes the number on the scale skewed.

With September’s arrival, I’ve stepped up my workouts so that I can be in my very best shape for the wedding, which isn’t until next summer. My main goal is to incorporate a regular Yoga practice into my schedule because I believe this will help to tone and heal.

Last week, I went from having the best run of the summer, six miles, to a very poor run, maybe one mile. This was due to my cold. After being at my sickest last Wednesday, I thought I was feeling up for a run on Thursday, but I was very wrong. My nose started running and burning, my legs felt numb and weak, and I realized that even if I was feeling better, I wasn’t fully recovered yet. It actually took me past the weekend to be able to run again, which I just came back from and legged out three and a half miles, feeling good and strong, with only a slight nose drip.

I plan on increasing my runs as we progress into fall because the air will chill and the humidity will disappear. That’s what prevented me, in part, from running until today. The past couple of days have been killer.

During this time, I found it easier to perform my strength workouts. In order to up this, I’ve taken to doing five sets of ten or four sets of twelve for each move. I rotate between going through a cycle or focusing on all the sets of one move before moving on. I’ve felt the difference and feel like it has been more effective.

I’ve also increased my Tabata intervals to extend beyond the bike. Tabata means four minutes total of one exercise, twenty seconds working as hard as you can and ten seconds resting, then repeat. For my cardio two days a week, I’ve been doing this for the bike, treadmill, box jumps, kettlebell swings, and jump rope. It is exhausting, but fast and effective.

Another aspect I am trying to fit in more consistently is core work. I’ve extended my plank to hold for a minute and twenty seconds and my side planks for 45 seconds to a minute. I’ve been doing different core moves,d my current routine including t push ups, mountain climbers on my forearms, kneeling kickbacks, mermaid raises, hip lifts, bicycle crunches, hundreds, alternating ankle grabs, and elevated Russian twists. I find that when I break these moves up into sets, I am able to perform at my highest each time. I’ve been working through them in a cycle, which moves fast and leaves my abs burning.

I have not been swimming laps as much lately, but spending some time on the elliptical. This is partly because I wanted a break, but now because the pool is closed for a week for renovations at my gym. Once it gets cooler out, I will get back into that routine because I really like doing it. The problem has been finding the right time to go when it isn’t overcrowded.

With exercise, it’s all about listening to your body and resting enough, especially if your body has been sick or overworked. Working out is a source of comfort and stress release. It helps me feel better, happier, and more productive. When it doesn’t leave me feeling this way, I know I need to take a step back. After feeling off and weak last week, it was nice coming back strong these past few days!

IMG_0169.JPG