Weekend Challenge May 11th and 12th

Here’s to the weekend! Time to kick back and relax, whether relaxing means hanging out on the couch or doing something active with every moment of your free time, it’s the not-being-at-work part that really counts. So, how are you spending your weekend?

Hopefully you incorporate this weekend challenge into your Saturday and Sunday morning. When you roll out of bed, whether it be before you wash your face and brush your teeth or while breakfast is cooking, try to get your metabolism awake with this mini total body workout.

50 Jumping Jacks
20 Push Ups
20 Lunges (each side)
30 second Wall Sit
50 Crunches
1 minute plank

This week I made this crock pot macaroni and cheese recipe. However, instead of using two cups of macaroni I substituted half of that with about a cup or cup and a half of cauliflower. I used frozen cauliflower, heated it up a bit so I could tear it into “macaroni-sized” pieces, and dumped it in the crock pot. It was good! Something needs to be added to the recipe to give it a bit more flavor. I used a little ketchup this time, but I’m hoping to find something else to make it taste cheesier. Any suggestions?

Tomorrow is the first Lil’ Kickers (soccer) practice. The soccer portion of Lil’s is my FAVORITE! A friend I’ve known from 4th grade is visiting this week. We’ll hit up the beach and hopefully head to Disney on Sunday. One of my life mottos: When in doubt, DISNEY!

Everyone have an awesome weekend. Spend some time outside. You’ll feel better, I promise.

Good Things 🙂

FS&JJ

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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

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

IT’S PI DAY EVERYBODY

March 14th=3/14=3.14. You know what that means? Only that you get to look forward to a pi-themed workout and healthy pi(e) for dessert. Let’s get cracking.

The workout today will provide a good mixture of cardio and strength training. There are two workouts. One for those of you who don’t have access to weights at the gym, and one for those of you who do. Do each exercise for one minute. There will be 3 minutes of cardio (3 exercises), a 1-minute rest, and 4 minutes of strength training. Here are your options:

At Home: No Weights

3: Jumping Jacks
Mountain Climbers
Squat Jumps

1: REST

4: Lunges
Push-ups
Squats (touch the floor with your fingers every time you squat down!)
Diamond Push-ups
REPEAT 3-5 TIMES

With Weight

3: Jumping Jacks
Mountain Climbers
Squat Jumps

1: REST

4: Lunge with Bicep Curl
Curtsey with V-Raise
Squat with Shoulder Press
Squat Pulse holding weight straight out in front of you
REPEAT 3-5 TIMES
*3 minutes of cardio can also be substituted at a fast pace on an elliptical/treadmill/bike etc.

And what would Pi Day be without super delicious yummy almost-homemade pie? My pick (the same one I made last year) is Easy Peanut Butter Pie. My love of peanut butter may sway my vote a bit when choosing this over a fruit pie, but I can’t resist! You’re all invited over to have a piece of mine when I come home from work tomorrow night. First come, first serve!

So happy Pi Day to all, and may you find the perfect way to celebrate!

Good Things 🙂

FS&JJ

Legs, Legs, Legs, and English Muffins

Has your weather been as nice as ours has the last couple days? Clear blue skies and temperatures hovering around 70 degrees, with a lovely 50-something at night. Perfect weather for a run. Or a light jog, or a walk, or a hike, or a bike ride, or a just get the heck outside and enjoy the sunshine.

Or maybe the Frigid North is up to its normal habits of think clouds and snow. Time for some sledding or cross country skiing!

Either way, here’s a leg workout that’s an awesome way to finish whatever cardio session you just sweat through. It’s pretty basic, but really works your butt, hamstrings, and quads for a 15-minute-or-less total strengthening and toning exercise set.

You can do this one without dumbbells to start if you’d like to experiment. If you want to make it tougher, grab whatever you’re most comfortable working with (5-lb., 10-lb., etc). Don’t be afraid that your arms can’t handle that much weight for arm exercises, as you won’t actually be lifting, but rather holding.

Here are your exercises:

Same-leg lunge: Start standing straight up, feet together. Hold one dumbbell in each hand at your sides. Step forward and lunge with your right foot, putting most of your body weight into your right heel. Push through the right heel back to your starting position. This motion is kind of like taking a step forward and then stepping back again, as opposed to a walking lunge where you move across the floor. Repeat on SAME LEG.

Curtsey: Like these pictures from a previous post, but just holding the weights at your sides instead of doing a v-raise…
Step 1– Stand straight, feet together
Step 2– Holding weights at side, tap one foot back and behind standing leg
Step 3– Return to standing position
Repeat on SAME LEG

Step-to-Squat: Start standing straight up, feet together. Put one weight down, so you’re only holding one with both hands at chest level or between your legs. Step right foot out to the side and squat down (like a regular squat). Come up and bring right foot back to standing position. Repeat on SAME LEG.

Squat Pulse: Spread legs and feet further than shoulder-width apart. Keep that one weight at chest level, or hold it between your legs. Squat down so legs are parallel (or close!) to the ground. Come up to a 45 degree angle, about halfway up. Come back down to parallel. Repeat! To keep some of the pressure off of your knees and get the most out of your squat, pretend like you’re going to sit down in a chair. Stick your butt out and squeeze those cheeks!

So all together, one set will look like this:
1. Same-leg lunge– RIGHT
2. Same-leg lunge– LEFT
3. Curtsey– RIGHT
4. Curtsey– LEFT
5. Step-to-Squat– RIGHT
6. Step-to-Squat– LEFT
7. Squat pulse

Try 3 sets of 10 (each exercise) to start. Get through ALL exercises 1-7 before you stop to rest for 60-90 seconds. If you need more time, take it! Try to push yourself to keep your recovery time only as long as your legs need it. You’ll feel it in your legs, but it also gets your heart rate up a bit. When your legs stop getting sore after this workout, try spicing it up by doing the exercises in a different order, using heavier weights, or attempting more reps or sets.

I’m up to 15-lb dumbbells now, doing 15 reps of each exercise on each leg. My next step will be a rotation between 4 sets of 15 reps and 3 sets of 20 reps, because I’m not sure my hands want to hold 20-pounders. At least not until I get lifting gloves.

I made homemade english muffins last Sunday. Before I started talking about them I wanted to make sure they were edible. I’m happy to report they are not only edible, but also delicious!

English muffins. Yes, they look burnt, but they were definitely cooked perfectly.

English muffins. Yes, some look burnt, but they were definitely cooked perfectly.

I got the recipe from another blog called BudgetBytes. Here is the link! Making them was very cheap compared to buying them from the store. It “takes” 3.5 hours, but most of that is just allowing the dough to rise.

Superbowl plans tonight, anyone? I’m making my own pizza and watching the game with my boyfriend and some friends. Neither team is on my naughty list, but I think I’m pulling for the 49ers so it makes the Packers look better and Dad wins his bet.

Hey, at least I didn’t choose a team based on whose uniforms were prettier.

Good Things (and a good week!) 🙂

FS&JJ