Arms for Days

Happy August! I’m happy to say I wrote a blog post for every week day throughout the month of July. I’m back and trying to be as consistent as possible. And now…

Have 20 minutes and a pair of dumbbells? You can crush this arm workout.

Many clients come in complaining about their arms, particularly the underbelly. Some of this loosens with age, or in my case, weight loss (from being stretched for so long), but it is not impossible to tighten up everything.

When I say arms, we aim to target the biceps, triceps, and shoulders. Chest and back would still be considered upper body, but I will provide a nice push/pull workout another day.

Here is a quick routine to follow to get the arms you desire:

Front & Lateral Raises

Yes, perform both in sequence. Enjoy the burning sensation in your shoulders.

Plank Shoulder Taps

Holding a plank is hard, now add some movement. To keep too much pressure off your shoulders, lean back into your heels, keeping your hips down. Trying hard not to rock your body, lift one hand to the opposite shoulder, alternating.

Hammer Curls to Shoulder Presses

The trick with any form of bicep curls is to keep your arms close to your body and keep everything still, except for the forearms. Don’t rock your body back and forth. If you do, the weight is too heavy and not hitting the intended target.

High Curls

I enjoy this exercise because I can see the muscles pulsing as they get to work. Also hits those shoulders for the double whammy.

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Tricep Extensions

Again, keep everything steady except for the forearms. Elbows nice and tight, as well.

Tricep Pushbacks

Bend the knees, drop your hips and butt to maintain a nice, flat back, and slowly press your arms behind you as far as you can while still keeping proper technique. Do not swing your arms, it won’t be as effective.

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If you have a lighter pair of dumbbells, 5 pounds each for example, perform each exercise in 3 sets of 15 repetitions. Rest for 30 seconds per set before moving onto the next, OR perform circuit style and rest for 1 minute after each set.

If you have a heavier pair of dumbbells- and I would encourage you not to be afraid of lifting heavy weights- try 3 sets of 10 repetitions each.

Don’t forget that leg day will follow….

Buggy The Slayer of Absolutely No One

Whoa boy! Yesterday’s workouts took a lot out of me, but they were powerful! After I finished breakfast and blogging, I got myself to the gym for a strength workout. I went through my go-to power moves and my muscles were not disappointed.

You may remember last week when I did this same workout and tried to deadlift with 45 lbs on each side and couldn’t do it. I felt strong during my entire session, so I decided to give it another try. Granted, I really had to pump myself up, but I did it! Success! It was really a moment of pride that had me grinning and sweating from head to toe. The trick is to maintain a firm grip on the barbell while lifting so much weight. The rest of the workout went great too and I finished with a core workout that included curtsy lunges, push ups, mermaid raises, leg raises, and Russian twists. Phew!

After my workout, I hopped in the shower because I was super sweaty and gross. I know it’s strange, but I love this feeling if only because it shows the effort I put into it. If I’m not sweaty, I feel as though I haven’t pushed myself.

This salad came together in no time thanks to leftover tilapia. It included sweet baby lettuce, shredded carrots, chopped red pepper and cucumber, chickpeas, walnuts, feta cheese, and red pepper flakes. So good! I enjoyed with a piece of cinnamon raisin toast. In lieu of the apple which wasn’t tasting fresh, I enjoyed a few pieces of pineapple that added just the right touch of sweetness.

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It was a major day of studying and I felt accomplished! I’ve moved onto learning about the cardiorespiratory system, which I find to be a lot less complicated, thank all that is good and pure. I did find this tidbit about inspiration, which is actually just inhalation, striking.

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As you can tell, I turned this into a Snapchat moment. What stands out to me is how inspiration in the physical sense means to breathe, while in the figurative sense means to be motivated. We really do draw breath, both literally and figuratively, in the things that inspire us.

The rest of the day included more studying, some babysitting, a dip in the pool, and maybe my favorite part of the day: kickboxing!

I haven’t gotten a chance to take this class again thanks to work and other obligations, but I was so glad I got to tonight! Maybe part of me is drawn to the fact that I have a lot to improve upon when it comes to my kickboxing skills, or that I just need to take some aggression out on the air by punching and kicking. I think it really is just me channeling my inner Buffy. *Note: As I typed “Buffy,” I accidentally typed Buggy and I found it to be too amusing. Just call me Buggy the Vampire Slayer. (Except, please don’t try to bite me).

Anyways, I was a sweaty mess by the end of the class and my arms are sore, but I really did feel powerful.

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Do I look at all intimidating?

As for my moment of strength, I cannot decide between my deadlift achievement or my kickboxing fun, so I’ll go with both! No matter if you’re a seasoned pro or starting new, you will surprise yourself by how much power you have in you. Just have to try it first!

Dinner included a fresh piece of swordfish that was marinated in some teriyaki sauce and grilled to perfection. We paired it with a few Chinese food items, broccoli, and spinach.

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The rest of my night included some more studying, writing, and doing much of nothing at all. Happy Hump Day!

Strength in Nature

Yesterday’s workout consisted of a strength training circuit that focused on moves meant to support the big six I did the day before. I focused on higher reps and lower weights, running through the circuit four times with twelve reps each. I did bicep curls, shoulder raises, tricep extensions, front raises, weighted lunges, and deadlift squats to high raises. After, I ran through a core circuit, same amount of sets and reps- kneeling kickbacks, mermaid raises, v push ups, hundreds to v ups, hip lifts, and bicycle crunches. For cardio, I hopped in the pool for a 40 minute lap swim.

At home, I was glad to have leftovers for lunch so that I wasn’t in a rush to get off to work. This chickpea dish is delicious, though next time, I think I’ll be more contemplative when it comes to spices. I like spices, but I don’t know how to utilize them in my recipes, so more research must be done! A piece of buttered raisin toast and a cup of plain Greek yogurt with a spoonful of peanut butter and a handful of grapes completed my meal.

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I’m loving all the standing work entails! My hips and butt don’t feel as sore from sitting all day and I can already feel my legs grow stronger as they get accustomed to standing so much again. Nothing was quite like teaching when it came to standing/running around all day!

Dinner was a plate with crockpot buffalo chicken, broccoli, asparagus, and red peppers with a drizzle of ranch over everything. I had a separate bowl for some macaroni and cheese. After a long day, it was a great way to end things.

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I curled up to read for awhile after before drifting off to sleep.

This morning, I took the time to whip up my favorite peanut butter pancakes. They were delightful topped with more peanut butter, jelly, and shredded coconut and paired with a side of bananas and blueberries. I’m still full with these protein and nutrient dense cakes! They’re quite pretty too!

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Now’s time to talk about what gave me strength yesterday, something I promised in another post, but didn’t get to it last night. After work, I was walking outside with my friend when we saw lightning a way’s away from us. It was strange because there was no thunder and it wasn’t raining, so it was just one of those heat things. I tried to get a picture that captured the beauty of the illuminated night sky, but I don’t think I did it justice.

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Standing in a field, surrounded by nature, filled me with the realization of how insignificant the small and petty things in life are. We always need reminders of this. The gift of having seen this lightning show for just a few minutes helped me to see that strength is not always something we seek. Sometimes it entails going out into the world and living in it. These small blessings surround us every day.

*A brief aside: There may be good in this world, but terrible things do still happen, like earlier this morning during the news broadcast. I don’t know why we keep hurting each other and why we remain immobilized from making changes. Living in a world where we’re afraid to live in it (and validated in that fear), is not much of a life at all. For now, we can focus on the victims. Be kinder, love harder, do good.

Finding Strength: Uphill, Downhill, On the Way

As of late, I’ve been fascinated with strength. It wields so much power, both in the physical and emotional state. Through my emotional strength, I built physical strength. I don’t succeed if I don’t have the two strengths combined.

Picture this: you’re running; it’s hot; it’s uphill; it’s downhill; it’s uphill again; your legs say no more; your mind says stop; you stop.

Picture this: you’re running; it’s hot; it’s uphill; it’s downhill; it’s uphill again; your brain says no more; your legs stop; you stop.

Two scenarios that happen to me all the time when I run. Sometimes, it depends on the sneakers or the playlist. It could be what you had for breakfast or how much water you had during the day. It’s having to use the bathroom or the workout from the day before. Sometimes, it’s necessary to stop. Sometimes, it’s necessary to keep going. I can’t tell you what’s right in each situation. It’s a matter that relies on the mind-body connection. That connection deserves to be strong.

Strength does not just mean you have the will-power to go to the gym or that you lift heavy things and put them down. It doesn’t just mean that you avoided eating the cookie or you burned 400 calories on the elliptical. Strength does not just mean success and it does not just mean overcoming failure. Strength for you, does not mean what it does for me. It’s immeasurable. It can’t be defined. Strength is your own to build, to learn, to discover.

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Strength is having the will to lead a happy and healthy life to the best of your ability and to what you can control. To quote my favorite show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (which you’d know if you were paying attention!), “The hardest thing in this world is to live in it.” So let’s live it our way.

If I did the math right, which could very well be wrong, then my 26th birthday is 80 days away. I decided to do something productive about it.

Every day, for the next 80, I want to reflect on at least one thing in which I found strength. At the end of each post, I am going to share what I found strength in that day. I would love if you would share along with me. It can be anything that makes you feel happy, strong, healthy, and powerful. It does not have to be about exercise or any other subject in particular. I know it won’t always for me.

Today, I ran 6 miles. Some of it was uphill, some of it was downhill, and some of it was flat. My legs were beneath me, my mind was above, and my spirit within. That run, during and after, gave me strength because it’s the first time I ran in weeks (maybe months) that I didn’t feel like I was struggling to get through. I didn’t feel the need to walk or to give up. I pushed through this block and I found my strength again. It feels good.

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Let’s go for 80 days strong!