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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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

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

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

“Lung Conditioning”

For some reason hearing the phrase lung conditioning seems a lot less painful than “cardio”. Maybe I’m the only one. It almost sounds relaxing. Well I’d love to tell you this workout is just that, but I’d be lying 😉

Good news is you will most definitely feel relaxed and accomplished when this half-hour Tabata session is over. It’s all about cardio (lung conditioning!) and abs today. I’m so excited to share this with you and I hope you have the same love-hate relationship with it that I do.

Remember Tabata from an earlier post? 20 seconds on and 10 seconds rest for 8 rounds, a total of 4 minutes. These 4 minutes equal 1 set, and there are two exercises in each set. In this instance, the first exercise is lung conditioning and the second is an ab move. Like this:

(any exercise with a * by it has a how-to picture further down the post)

1. Jumping Jacks
2. In-and-Outs*

1.High Knees/Butt Kicks (do two of each)
2. Bicycles

1. Burpees (no push-up)
2. Scissors*

1. Frog Jump Squats*
2. Crunchy Frog*

1. Mountain Climbers
2. Kayakers aka Russian Twists

1. Squat Jacks*
2. Plank Jacks*

In-and-Outs Step 1. Use your hands to support yourself

In-and-Outs Step 1. Use your hands to support yourself

In-and-Outs Step 2. Use your hands to support yourself

In-and-Outs Step 2. Use your hands to support yourself

Scissors Step 1. Try to keep you foot flexed and your leg as close to straight as possible

Scissors Step 1. Try to keep you foot flexed and your leg as close to straight as possible

Scissors Step 2. SWITCH! Try to keep you foot flexed and your leg as close to straight as possible

Scissors Step 2. SWITCH! Try to keep you foot flexed and your leg as close to straight as possible

Frog Jump Squats Step 1. Wide squat stance and make sure you're fingers touch the floor!

Frog Jump Squats Step 1. Wide squat stance and make sure you’re fingers touch the floor!

Frog Squat Jumps Step 2. Explode into a high froggy leap, which you can tell is oh-so-fun by the look on my face

Frog Squat Jumps Step 2. Explode into a high froggy leap, which you can tell is oh-so-fun by the look on my face

Crunchy Frog Step 1. Hug your knees. This one is hard to do at first, especially the balance part.

Crunchy Frog Step 1. Hug your knees. This one is hard to do at first, especially the balance part.

Crunchy Frog Step 2. Legs go straight out in front of you, not necessarily this high. This one is hard to do at first, especially the balance part.

Crunchy Frog Step 2. Legs go straight out in front of you, not necessarily this high. This one is hard to do at first, especially the balance part.

Squat Jacks Step 1. Basically a jumping jack in squatted position. Stay low!

Squat Jacks Step 1. Basically a jumping jack in squatted position. Stay low!

Squat Jacks Step 2. Basically a jumping jack in squatted position. Stay low!

Squat Jacks Step 2. Basically a jumping jack in squatted position. Stay low!

Plank Jacks Step 1. These can be done with straight arms in push-up position or as shown. Move legs in and out like you would a regular jumping jack.

Plank Jacks Step 1. These can be done with straight arms in push-up position or as shown. Move legs in and out like you would a regular jumping jack. Try to keep your butt down! I’m cheating here, shame on me.

Plank Jacks Step 2. These can be done with straight arms in push-up position or as shown. Move legs in and out like you would a regular jumping jack.

Plank Jacks Step 2. These can be done with straight arms in push-up position or as shown. Move legs in and out like you would a regular jumping jack.

Any other exercises you aren’t sure how to do can be found easily in an online search. So now it’s your turn. Try this on a cardio day, or when it’s raining outside and you can’t go for your usual walk/jog/run/skate/bike/hike/swim/skip/cartwheel. Oh, look! Ideas for fun exercises to enjoy outside! Isn’t that something.

Mommy was here to visit this last week and a half. She left this morning and now I’m lonely again! I guess taking pictures of myself doing exercises is one strange way to pass the time. Luckily the only eyes that saw me belonged to the neighbor cat. She’s always being nosy.

I’m hoping next time to post some smoothie ideas. Why don’t you get a head start on me and try making one yourself today? Delicious and nutritious!

Check back tomorrow for your Weekend Challenge!

Good Things 🙂

FS&JJ

Weekend Challenge March 2nd and 3rd

TGIF! And here’s your weekend challenge to prove it.

Frog Jump Squats are awesome for a cardio kick start, as well as waking up those booty and leg muscles. Try doing them for 30 seconds before each meal, and if you sit in one place for more than a half hour do it for 30 seconds when you finally do stand up. As the crazy guy from P90x would say, “YOU CAN DO ANYTHING FOR 30 SECONDS!” Really, how hard can it be?

Hint: Make sure when you squat down you legs are in a wider stance and your hands touch the floor each time you come down! Count how many you do each time and try to beat your own record!

Do something exciting this weekend with your free time. Maybe something you haven’t done before. Try a new exercise routine, that craft or recipe you’ve been wanting to try, something outside, a movie you’ve been telling yourself you’d see, a new restaurant with your friends, your options are endless!

Good Things 🙂

FS&JJ

Cardio with a Cherry on Top

“Cherry on Top” is code for that lovely exercise set that can kick your metabolism into full gear much further than regular cardio might. Good ol’ plyometrics! Awesome, quick, and just pushes your body to the brim to finish your workout power-strong. Let’s get to it!

Six exercises for thirty seconds each (no resting in the middle you dirty cheaters). This can be done once, twice, or three times with a minute rest in between each set.

Plyo Set
Jumping Jacks
Mountain Climbers
Squat Jacks
Lunge Jumps
Squat Jumps
Burpees (with or without push-ups)

Each of these for thirty seconds with no break in between makes a total of three minutes. Go ALL OUT on this! They are the cherry on top of your cardio, the icing on your weight training, the grand finale! Try to do three sets. If your cardio workout was really rough (good for you!) stick to one, two, or whatever you have energy for. I believe in you, and you should too.

Have you tried myfitnesspal? It’s an app and a website where you can log everything you eat, all of your exercise, etc. It’s very helpful if you’re ever curious how much you think you’re eating and how much you’re eating in reality, especially if you have a special goal in mind. It’s a bit of a hassle at first, but once your foods get stored in the app’s memory it gets quicker to log meals and is very interesting. Try it out!

Good Things 🙂

FS&JJ