Weekend Challenge April 27th and 28th

Hooray! The end of another long week, and what better way to celebrate than with some exercise? Endorphins, sweat, and smiles all around! So this weekend your challenge is simple: get at least 45 minutes of exercise each day (that means Saturday AND Sunday, people!) Whether it be outside or in the gym. Cardio, lifting weights, or an exercise class. Just do it! And be happy that you did. Don’t treat it like a chore. Your workouts should never be treated like a chore. Do it because it makes you feel good, because it gives you energy, and because it’s good for you. Getting bored of the same old things? Switch between exercising inside and outside, do a different leg workout than you did two days ago. Try something new, like Zumba, a Boot Camp, Kayaking, Hiking, Jogging, etc. The list goes on and on!

The start to my weekend will be with all my kiddies for the last Lil Punters (football) practice and the last Kid’s Triathlon Training practice. The Lils’ kids will be getting their usual cupcakes, football design this time. The Kid’s Tri athletes are a little older and in preparation for a big race next weekend. I don’t think feeding them cupcakes would be a great example, so I bought a bunch of oranges to cut up for them. Brings me back to my soccer halftime days. Still yummy, hydrating, and much healthier. Also a relaxing treat on the porch or by the pool!

Healthy Football Cupcakes for Lils'

Healthy Football Cupcakes for Lils’

Everyone have a wonderful weekend!

Don't leave him hangin'!

Don’t leave him hangin’!

Good Things 🙂

FS&JJ

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Hips Don’t Lie

My new roommate/not-new-friend/future-sister-in-law (unofficial) inspired this post tonight. She’s been having a lot of hip problems lately that are getting in the way of her running and exercise activities, as well as life in general. So for her and all of you other readers out there who sometimes struggle with sore hips, lower back, and glutes, this ones for you! For all of you who don’t, read this anyways, because these are good exercises whether you’re a marathoner or a couch potato. Low-impact, low-intensity, but supportive strength-building exercises.

Hip Bridge

A hip bridge is a simple exercise that really helps to strengthen not only your glutes and hamstrings, but also your hip flexors and lower back. Use the picture below from Women’s Health Magazine online and follow these directions: Lie flat on your back with both knees bent and feet on the floor. Pinch your butt cheeks together, push your heels into the ground, and raise your hips towards the ceiling until your body forms a straight line. Lower back to the ground and repeat. 3 sets of 20. Want to make it harder? Follow my picture and extend one leg out, so your knees still touch. Raise hips using just one leg, heel still digging into the floor, until your body is straight. For a little extra core work, try putting your feet up on a yoga ball.

Hip Raise, Step 1

Hip Bridge, Step 1

Hip Bridge, Step 2

Hip Bridge, Step 2

Single-leg hip bridge

Single-leg hip bridge, Step 1. Dig in those heels!

Single-leg hip bridge, Step 2. Dig in those heels!

Single-leg hip bridge, Step 2. Dig in those heels!

Hip Bridge Roll-outs

This exercise requires a yoga ball. Lie flat on your back on the floor. Put your legs up on the yoga ball, about mid-calf. Roll the ball in towards your butt, keeping your butt cheeks pinched, until your knees are at about a 90 degree angle. Roll the ball back out. That’s one rep. 3 sets of 20.

Hip bridge roll-out, Step 1

Hip bridge roll-out, Step 1

Hip bridge roll-out, Step 2

Hip bridge roll-out, Step 2

Leg raises

This exercise requires a pilates or theraband tied in a loop around something sturdy, like a table or bed leg (preferably in front of the tv!). Stand far enough away from table so that the band is stretched a bit around one leg. Move forward or backward to make it harder or easier. Raise leg out in front of you. Do 20 reps. Repeat this on all sides (left, right, and back) and then switch to the other leg and do the same thing. Do this a total of 3 sets of 20 reps on each side, each leg.

Leg Raises, Step 1. Stand with one foot through theraband, feet even, band stretched.

Leg Raises, Step 1. Stand with one foot through theraband, feet even, band stretched.

Leg Raise, Step 2. Slowly raise leg out in front. Repeat 20 times.

Leg Raise, Step 2. Slowly raise leg out in front. Repeat 20 times.

Leg Raise, Step 3. Turn to side and pull band across body, working the inside of your leg. Repeat 20 times.

Leg Raise, Step 3. Turn to side and pull band across body, working the inside of your leg. Repeat 20 times.

Leg Raise, Step 4. Turn again and kick backwards this time. Repeat 20 times, slowly!

Leg Raise, Step 4. Turn again and kick backwards this time. Repeat 20 times, slowly!

Leg Raise, Step 5. Turn one more time and raise leg to outside, working the outside of your hip. Repeat 20 times. Switch legs and repeat all four sides.

Leg Raise, Step 5. Turn one more time and raise leg to outside, working the outside of your hip. Repeat 20 times. Switch legs and repeat all four sides.

Penguin Waddle

You will need some sort of stretchy band for this, like a pilates or theraband. Loop the band around your legs, so it sits on your ankle bones or just above. Spread your legs out just wide enough so it’s tight enough to not fall down your legs. Take a step to the left (or right), stretching the band with your legs. Let the other leg follow, returning to your first stance, where the band isn’t loose enough to fall down your ankles. Waddle (like a penguin!) about 10 yds across the floor, then come back facing the same direction. Give it a rest and go again. Try to do this 3 times. This exercise works the outside of your hips (really good).

Penguin Waddle, Step 1. Band it tight so it won't fall down, but not stretched too far.

Penguin Waddle, Step 1. Band it tight so it won’t fall down, but not stretched too far.

Penguin Waddle, Step 2. Step out to the side, pulling the band tighter. Bring other leg in, and continue to "waddle" across the floor". Don't forget to come back so you get both sides evenly!

Penguin Waddle, Step 2. Step out to the side, pulling the band tighter. Bring other leg in, and continue to “waddle” across the floor”. Don’t forget to come back so you get both sides evenly!

Scissors

This is an ab exercise that also works your hip flexors. You may remember it from previous posts. Lie flat on your back, with legs straight and about 6-12 inches off the ground. Spread legs out horizontally and back in, exactly like a pair of scissors. Pair this with flutters, the exercise below, for a full-hip workout. Try 3 sets of 25 reps.

Flutters

Flutters are the opposite of scissors. That is, you kick vertically, like you’re swimming in a pool. Again, try these with the scissors exercise above, and do 3 sets of 25 reps. If either of these give your lower back trouble, put your hands flat under your butt for support.

Fire Hydrants

This exercise gets its name from the motion. Just think of a dog… doing his business on a fire hydrant. You know, stereotypes. Get on all fours. Keeping core tight, raise leg out to the side and bring it back down. That’s one rep. Try to do 3 sets of 20.

Fire hydrants, Step 1

Fire hydrants, Step 1

Fire hydrants, Step 2

Fire hydrants, Step 2

Leg Kick-backs

This exercise is also done on all fours. Kick your leg back straight behind you, pinching your butt tight. Bring your leg back down. That’s one set. Do 3 sets of 20.

Leg Kick-backs, Step 1

Leg Kick-backs, Step 1

Leg Kick-backs, Step 2

Leg Kick-backs, Step 2

Lunge Stretch

This is just how it sounds. Lunge forward so knee rests on the ground. Lean forward to feel the stretch in your hip. To make it more intense, raise both arms in the air straight above your head. Hold for 3-5 slow breaths. This is a great hip stretch.

Front Leg Lift

The effort you put into this will vary based on the strength/pain of your hips. Lie flat on your back with your legs straight. Keeping your legs straight, lift them into the air slowly. To make it harder, raise your legs high into the air (until you come to a 90 degree angle). If that hurts your hips, don’t go as high! Whether it be a 45 degree angle or just 6 inches you can get off the ground, as long as you’re doing it slowly you’re doing great and building strength. This exercise really helps your hip flexors, and also does good things for your lower abs. If this strains your back, simply place your hands flat under your butt to help support it. Try 3 sets of 15-20.

Front Leg Lift, Step 1

Front Leg Lift, Step 1

Front leg lift, Step 2

Front leg lift, Step 2

Side Leg Lift

Lie flat on your side with one foot/leg on top of the other. Raise leg up in the air, as close to 90 degrees as you can get (the full 90 takes a bit of flexibility!). Lower back down for one rep. Try 3 sets of 20.

Side leg lift, Step 1

Side leg lift, Step 1

Side leg lift, Step 2

Side leg lift, Step 2

Any or all of these exercises can be added to your leg workout or even your daily life. Hip and glute strength are a very important thing to keep strong for your body’s balance, and hopefully these exercises will help. Some may be quick and easy enough that you can do a few sets before you go to bed at night, or while you’re waiting for your toast to pop in the morning. I hope you work as hard at these exercises as I did with this post (It took me three days, so appreciate it!! Just kidding…. kinda).

Are you looking forward to a new weekend challenge tomorrow night??

Good Things 🙂

FS&JJ

Weekend Challenge April 20th and 21st

Hello all! Pardon my tardiness on this post. It was my not-so-little brother’s birthday yesterday and we got a little carried away with cake and presents. Now that that’s over, though, it’s time to turn our attention to our Weekend Challenge!

Have you ever done a yoga video or been to a class? Every one that I’ve tried has ended in Savasana, or “Corpse Pose”, as my yogi roommate has just informed me. We both prefer Savasana, but take your pick. Google it, but it’s basically just a time at the end of the yoga session… or a workout… or the day in general… where you lie flat back on the floor, with legs and arms out straight and relaxed, and palms facing up. Take deep breathes and try to forget about everything else that is taking up space in your mind, things on your to-do list, what you did earlier that day. I’d like you to try doing this before falling asleep at night, whether it be in your bed as you fall asleep or on the living room floor after you turn of the TV for the night. It’s important to de-stress and allow yourself to clear your head.

Try Savasana tonight and tomorrow night as you’re falling asleep, and try to think about how you feel when you wake up the next morning. Relaxed? Like you got a better night’s sleep? The same? Did you fall asleep faster? Maybe this will be a habit you get into at the end of every night. It doesn’t take extra time, it just takes mindfulness. Good luck!

How is everyone coming on stretching and touching their toes? Have you improved?

I hear it’s still snowing up north, and down here it’s an uncharacteristic 60 degrees and raining. What are you doing to stay active inside today?

Good Things 🙂

FS&JJ

Magical Kale Smoothie and a Kick-Butt Interval Workout

Today I am sick and I don’t know why. My tummy hurts! Being sick means cinnamon toast and other foods that are all, unfortunately, the same color. My lovely brother took care of me and brought me an “Island Smoothie” from Tropical Smoothie a little bit ago. Two things happened. First, it hit the spot. I couldn’t drink the whole thing, but what I did drink was deee-licious. Second, it reminded me of the homemade smoothie I’ve been making lately. Here’s the recipe:

Banana Kale Smoothie
1 frozen banana
1 branch/leaf/whatever that thing is called of kale
5-8 slices of frozen peaches
1 small container vanilla Light & Fit yogurt
1/2 to 1 cup of milk (depending on how thick you like it, and how much liquid your blender needs to mix it)

Toss everything into the blender and blend until smooth. You don’t want kale leaves floating around in your drink (or maybe you do?)

This recipe makes a lot, definitely enough to serve 2 people, but I don’t usually have anyone to share with and end up drinking it all myself. No complaints here! Yummy! It looks green and tastes like banana. Get a serving of veggies and the only evidence is the color.

Because I wasn’t feeling well today I missed my workout (better than throwing up on the machines I always say) but I’ve been thinking of what to share with you to make up for it, because if I can’t workout someone’s got to do it for me!

This can be done walking or running, inside on the treadmill or outside in the sunshine. You can walk the “recovery” stage and jog/run the more intense parts, or run the whole thing. I’ve read in more than one place that doing a 20-25 minute interval workout can have the same benefits as a longer 40-45 minute constant cardio workout (although both should still be utilized). Interval workouts are also nice when you’re a little short on time. Try this one next time you want to spice up your cardio session:

Interval Cardio Workout
5-10 minute warmup
1. High-intensity pace for 90 seconds
2. Sprint for 30 seconds
3. Recovery Pace for 120 seconds
Repeat steps 1-3 as many times as you can or have time for. Each set is a total of 4 minutes. Give yourself a slight cool-down at the end.

So maybe your sprint is the fastest walk you can do, or your sprint is a jog and your high-intensity pace is the fastest walk you can do. Or maybe you’re intense and you’re going to run the whole thing. Maybe it will be harder than you thought and you can set a goal for yourself to not walk through any of it. Maybe you’ll have to start with only 3 or 4 sets, but want to work your way up to 7 or 8 sets. Or maybe you woke up late and need a good cardio workout in a shorter amount of time than your long run (look into Tabata for a solution also).

Whichever way you decide to do it, be thankful that paying attention to the minutes help time fly by. Before you know it, your workout will be done!

Have you tried running/walking/working out to something other than music? Pick up an audiobook for your iPod of that book you’ve been meaning to read but just can’t find the time for, or try a podcast. Check out the library for some good books on tape you can load onto your iPod. I’ve found audiobooks and podcasts to really help pass the time, especially when I wan’t in the mood to workout in the first place.

Good Things 🙂

FS&JJ

Weekend Challenge April 13-14

We’ve all made it through another week! Hooray! And with that comes another healthy weekend for all of us. Double hooray! Your challenge for this week is simple. Do 300 reps of abs each day. “THREE HUNDRED?!?” you say? Yes! It may sound like a lot, but it will take no time at all to knock them all out. Best of all, it’s your choice of what to do. Switch it up or do the same exercise. Split it up into sets of 100 or 50. Do them all before breakfast or before you go to bed. If you need inspiration, check my bonus abs sections in previous posts. Do them while you’re watching TV, or outside in the sun (if you have any this weekend). In the end, your tummy and core will thank you.

Good Things 🙂

FS&JJ

Weekend Challenge April 6th and 7th

Happy (rainy) Friday! Friday means time for another weekend challenge (although doing this more than just on the weekend is good for you, I promise). Before you go to bed Saturday and Sunday night (even tonight if you read this in time) STRETCH! Five to ten minutes is all it takes. The back of your legs, your butt, your quads, your arms and shoulders, your hips, your back, your tummy. Take a few deep breathes during each stretch, or count to thirty. It will relax you for bed, and you will feel looser when you wake up in the morning. Choose to keep with this routine for a few weeks and you’ll start to see improvement in your flexibility. Don’t believe me? Check how close you can get to touching your toes, and keep a mental note. Check again in a few weeks and see how you’ve improved! I bet it’s quite a bit.

I’m going to the happiest place on Earth this weekend… EPCOT at Disney World! EPCOT is my favorite park. Before I get to do that though Lils’ flag football starts, and Kid’s Triathlon training continues. Swimming practice tomorrow! Oh boy! By the way, have you heard how good swimming is for you? Pick it up this summer and you’ll see what I mean.

Good Things 🙂

FS&JJ

Easy Peasy Salmon Squeezey… and Asparagus

I’m always in such a time crunch to get my dinner ready to bring for work (I close most nights). Enter sauteed salmon and asparagus. SO easy, and takes less than ten minutes!

First of all, let me say it makes me so happy that it’s asparagus season. All you have to do is cut about an inch off the ends, pour about a tablespoon of olive oil into a frying pan, and toss 5-6 asparagus around until coated (adjust accordingly for more people). Sprinkle with seasoning, like Old Bay, and cook on medium heat for 5-10 minutes, until asparagus are a bit soft, like you can dent it if you press a spatula into it.

Grab another frying pan. Rub a seasoning (I love anything by McCormick Grill Mates, found in the spice and seasoning section) over both sides of a piece of thawed salmon (I buy prepackaged salmon, but fresh salmon will work just as well). Set salmon in the frying pan and turn onto medium heat. Pour low-sodium soy sauce (maybe two to three tablespoons, but i just eyeball it and give it enough to cook in) over the salmon and let it cook about 5-7 minutes. Flip over, add more soy sauce if necessary, and cook another 5-ish minutes.

I know these directions are slightly vague, but I usually eyeball most things I cook. Just saute the salmon until, if cut in the middle, it is a light pink color and flakes a bit. It’s quite easy, and very tasty and healthy. Yum yum!

Everyone have a great Friday! Try something that’s active, whether it be a whole exercise routine or just a new exercise, or a walk to the mailbox or high-fiving a new friend or telling a funny joke to everyone at work. YOU can make it a good Friday!

Good Things 🙂

FS&JJ