Category Archives: Get Movin’!

Fitness tips, workouts, and motivation to get moving!

At-Home Leg Workout …and Happy Fall!

Yesterday was “leg day” for me. But it was also one of those days where I just didn’t feel like going to the gym. I debated skipping the workout altogether and just having some chocolate instead (always a good idea). But, I was feeling antsy from sitting at my computer all day and wanted to burn off some energy…so I decided to get creative and design an at-home workout I could do in my basement.

When I’m in a gym, I take advantage of the weight room and get some good strength training in while I can. Squats, deadlifts, and bench presses are my kind of thing. But it’s always good to mix it up and keep your body guessing! This is how you see results in fat loss, muscle gain, and fitness! So, I like to throw in random workouts from time to time that utilize other skills like flexibility, stability and plyometrics.

With that in mind, I created the following leg workout that you can do at home. All you need is a set of dumbbells! 

leg circuit

Click here for links with videos and descriptions of each exercise: Stability and Plyometric Leg Circuit

I’m pretty thrilled that Fall is finally here! This is my favorite season of the year. Although I also say that about winter. And spring. It’s hard to choose a favorite.

I’ll be back soon with delicious recipes for Fall…accompanied with more leaf graphics and fall-themed workouts.  😉

For now, I leave you with my latest find for this season:

pumpkin spice tea

          Pumpkin Spice tea from Trader Joe’s

I’ve been drinking a cup of this goodness every day this week!

Happy Fall! 🙂

Advertisements

That Time I Ran a 5K in a Tutu…

Last weekend, I crossed another item off my Bucket List – Race Edition:

– Dress up in a costume for a race.

On Sunday morning, I donned a purple tutu and set out to conquer 3.1 miles on a lakeside trail at a local park.

This all began when my bride-to-be friend messaged me a few weeks ago with a link to a Groupon deal: half off the registration for The Bride’s 5K.

The race – as the name suggests – is for brides-to-be and their bridal parties.

I’m always up for a fun 5K, and after doing some poking around on the race website, I discovered that runners were encouraged to dress up in costume – done deal! I replied to her message with a very enthusiastic “let’s do it!” and so the adventure of the tutu began.

735593_10100108489358416_1824995545_o

As a bridesmaid, I felt it my duty (and pleasure) to be in charge of our outfits for the race. I’m not usually a procrastinator when it comes to these kinds of things, but somehow I found myself in Walmart the day before the race, buying yards of tulle and googling “how to make a tutu” on my phone.

In case you’ve never made a tutu from scratch before (I sure hadn’t), there are many different options suggested online (and countless Youtube tutorials) and each one claims to be the best. I settled on the one that looked the simplest (considering I had less than 24 hours til race time) and picked out some $3 Walmart tank tops to go with our tutus.

The bride, of course, would be decked out in white: a white tutu and veil, accompanied by a matching tank top with some glittery fabric paint proudly announcing her status as the bride.

I, on the other hand, chose purple for my tutu and a turquoise tank to go with it.

The tutus didn’t turn out as ruffly and obnoxious poofy as I would have liked, but I consoled myself that this was my first tutu endeavor and each one from here on would be much better. (If you ever need a tutu, let me know… the next one is sure to be a huge improvement)

We showed up at the race on Sunday morning and mingled a little bit with the other bridal parties. They were apparently very intent on winning the award being given to the best dressed bridal party…one group was decked out in redneck gear, camouflage viels, overalls, and carried a huge sign that said, “My Big Fat Redneck Wedding.” We passed them halfway through the race, mopping the sweat off their faces with red bandannas. I’d be sweating too, if I tried to run a 5K in overalls.

This race definitely got me thinking about other ways I could embarrass myself costumes that would be fun for a race… (I’m kicking myself now for not getting a picture of that redneck bridal party)

My friend and I set off in a flurry of excitement, as she had arrived late (GPS glitch sent her to the wrong side of the park) and it was well past the starting gun. It didn’t matter, though, because we were definitely just running this for fun. (Is it even possible to race competitively in a tutu?)

1149101_10100108489433266_1615179197_oThat being said, we did keep a good pace and even passed several brides that had started way before us – score! After a quick water break at the turnaround point, we finished strong and crossed the finish line with a cheer. Post-race pictures followed, of course. 😉

I’ve heard of women running half or full marathons on the morning of their wedding, and always knew that was NOT kind of my thing. (I’ve only run a half marathon once, but I definitely did not feel up for getting married afterwards! I spent the day watching movies on the couch and eating copious amounts of chocolate covered almonds.) However, after my tutu experience on Sunday, I think it would be really fun to do a casual 5K with my bridesmaids (when that time comes) and burn off some wedding stress a few months before the big day.

Plus, it would give me chance to perfect my tutu-making skills.

One Simple Change to Get More Out of Your Workout!

When it comes to fitness, more isn’t always better.

Simply put, the QUALITY of your workout is more important than the amount of time you spend on it.

For years, we’ve been told that the best way to burn fat is through long, aerobic workouts, such as long distance running or hours on a similar cardio machine. In recent studies, though, we’re learning that shorter interval workouts are actually just as effective for burning fat, increasing your metabolism, and lowering insulin resistance.

Here are some other benefits of interval workouts:

– simple to create using any kind of exercise, which keeps you from getting bored!
– easier to fit into your schedule because they can be done in less than 30 minutes and still give you a great workout
– they can be done anywhere – I’ve done them at parks, in my basement, and in hotel rooms
– increases your RESTING metabolism rate – meaning, your body will burn more calories throughout your day, even when you’re resting. Long aerobic workouts might burn a lot of calories DURING the workout, but interval workouts cause you to burn more calories overall because you continue burning throughout the next 48 hours

Without further ado, here are the simple steps to creating a great interval workout:

Creating an Interval Workout

You can make your intervals as long or as short as you want, but a good rule of thumb is somewhere between 30-60 seconds. So, following the 2:1 ratio, if your intervals are going to be 30 seconds, your rest periods will be 15 seconds. The short rest period keeps your heart rate elevated and is guaranteed to give you a great workout!

A couple years ago, I started incorporating intervals into my running workouts and saw a noticeable increase in my speed. Lately I’ve been using intervals for various exercises on the floor or with weights, primarily using movements that work multiple muscle groups.

Here are some of my favorite exercises for intervals workouts:

  • Burpees – Everyone hates them (myself included) but they are one of the best total body exercises you can do without any equipment
  • Push-ups – If you can’t do military-style push-ups, put your hands on a bench, or just do the push-ups on your knees
  • Squat jumps – squat with your feet shoulder-width apart; as you rise from the squat, jump off the ground with both feet
  • Lunges – many variations you can do on this one! Lunge forward, backward or sideways and add an overhead press with dumbbells if you can
  • Plank – if you’re able to plank easily, add in an alternating leg lift or other variation to make it more difficult!
  • Scissor Legs – you can use ANY ab exercise in your interval workout, but scissor legs are one of my favorites. I also love doing Russian twists and In-and-Outs
  • Tricep Dips – all you need is a bench or chair
  • Bench Step-ups – exactly what it sounds like: find a bench or flight of stairs and step up and down, alternating your leg each time
  • High Knee Sprints – great exercise to get your heart rate going!
  • Jumping jacks – simple and old-school!
  • Side shuffles over a step
  • Mountain climbers – this one targets your abs and also hits your shoulders, glutes and legs

Those are just a few of the exercises you can incorporate into your interval workout.

Here’s a sample routine that I created for myself a few days ago:
Full Body Interval Workout cropped

This circuit will give you a great full-body workout in less than 20 minutes!

I’ll leave you with a little workout humor that made me laugh today…

funny-workout-quotes

The Happiest 5K on the Planet!

the_color_run_logoRoll

Generally speaking, I go into most 5K races with few expectations, simply looking to have fun and perhaps hit a new personal record. I don’t expect the race itself to “give” much to me…except the opportunity to run a few miles with a bunch of strangers other runners and get a t-shirt out of the experience. Free coffee at the finish line is a plus, too.

However, when I headed downtown for the St Louis Color Run 5K last Saturday, I will admit that I had some expectations. This race is marketed as “the happiest 5K on the planet” so I felt justified in expecting it to be…well, HAPPY!

You’ve probably seen some of the posters and pictures from this nationwide 5K race series…people covered in rainbows of color splatters, huge smiles on their faces, waving their arms in the air or riding triumphantly on the shoulders of a friend. It’s hard not to feel happy when you see the glossy displays of color and the sheer pleasure and triumph on every face.

On Saturday morning, I headed downtown with my boyfriend to see what this gloriously happy 5K was all about. The day didn’t start out on a particularly happy note as we drove down Highway 40 with a steady drizzle of rain falling on the windshield. I don’t have a problem running in the rain (I enjoy it, usually!) but when I think of a HAPPY race, I think of sunshine and butterflies…not puddles and ponchos.

It was pointless to worry about the rain, though – rain or shine, I was going to be a mess by the time I reached the finish line – what’s a little extra water? After several minutes of navigating the one-way streets downtown, we found an open parking garage and quickly made our way to the start line. It took about 15 minutes before I was able to start, as they were sending out waves of people in 5 minute intervals. I wasn’t able to connect with any of my friends before the race (it’s hard to find people in a sea of 1,000 white t-shirts) but I just told myself to enjoy it and have fun regardless.

After about a quarter mile of running past tutus and tiaras (apparently it’s popular to dress up for this race) I heard someone calling my name and turned around to see two of my good friends. I stuck with them the rest of the way and we talked the entire time, which was so much fun!

color run collage

The color stations weren’t exactly what I was expecting… I didn’t realize we would have to go up to a volunteer and specifically ask them to spray us with color. For some reason, after ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the awesome posters on the Color Run website, I pictured “color machines” showering color all over us as we ran by – or a similarly innovative method. But nope, volunteers with plastic bottles of colored powder! It was still a lot of fun, though!

Three miles have never flown by so quickly for me. Because of the color stations and the distraction of good conversation with friends, I was shocked when the finish line came into view. We coasted in at a nice, easy pace and then evaluated the damage. 🙂 I was pretty covered with color on my face, arms, and t-shirt, but thankfully I didn’t get too much in my hair. I’ve seen some horror stories posted on the Facebook page…people that have been showering up to 3 times every day since the race, in an attempt to get the blue and green highlights out of their hair. Yikes. The color came off of my skin with some good scrubbing and a bar of soap, and it washed completely out of my shorts, which was a pleasant surprise.

We hung around downtown for a little while after the race, taking pictures and shivering in the drizzle of rain. All in all, this 5K was a great time and definitely a fun race to put in the books. We could have used some “happier” weather, but the rest of the experience was a lot of fun!

The Color Run is quite expensive for a 5K (almost double what I’m used to paying for smaller, local races!) but I guess someone has to cover the cost of all that pixie dust powdered color they’re spraying all over us! I don’t think I’d pay for it again, but it was definitely a good one-time race and I’m glad to check it off my “Bucket List: Race Edition”. 🙂

Two At-Home Workouts: Shoulders + Abs

Tis the season…of allergies SPRING! The sun is shining, the flowers are blooming, and my throat is scratchy. Allergies have never really bothered me in the past, so when I felt my throat slowly closing up and my nose getting stuffy on Saturday night, I was caught off guard. The tree pollen has been incredibly high this week (so high that my Weather Channel app is sending me alerts about it, whatever that means!) and as a result, I’ve spent most of my time indoors. It’s frustrating to not be outside enjoying the glorious sunshine, but it’s given me the motivation to get back into strength training in my workouts this week.

allergies ecard

I haven’t been in the mood for the gym the past few days, so I decided to create a couple simple workouts that I could complete in the comfort of my own basement. All you need for these is dumbbells and a stability ball.

On Saturday, I completed this shoulders workout, circuit-style. Meaning, I didn’t rest at all between the exercises and completed the set 3 times. (I did rest about 1 minute in between each set.) It was a tough and sweaty workout that left my shoulders completely spent. For circuit-style workouts like this one, I often use a slightly lighter weight on all the exercises for the first circuit, then increase to a heavy weight for the second, and back down a little bit on the third.

Shoulders Circuit:
(15 reps each, with no more than 10 seconds in between each exercise)

– Seated Arnold Press on Stability Ball
– Side Lateral Raise
– Standing Overhead Press with Dumbbells
Bent-over Rear Delt Raise (you can do this exercise either bent-over while standing, or sitting on a bench)
Dumbbell Front Raise

< repeat 3x >

I followed this workout with a 30-minute HIIT run on the treadmill and called it a day!

On Sunday, I was in a little bit of a rush to workout before making it out to church for an earlier Easter service, so I jotted down a simple at-home abs workout that took me less than 25 minutes to complete.

This workout consists of 2 circuits of 10 different exercises that are each done for 1 minute with no rest in between. My favorite way to do these workouts is to set up my interval timer app and just start and stop it when I do each exercise, without clearing the accumulated time. That way, I can see the minutes adding up and know that I’m getting closer to the end of the circuit! Pausing the timer in between exercises for a few seconds allows me to grab a dumbbell, stability ball, or whatever I need, without cutting into the “1 Minute” of the next exercise.  😉

Here’s the workout:

abs circuit workout

Abs Circuit Workout:
(Do each exercise for 1 minute and complete the entire circuit without resting, if possible! Repeat twice.)

1) Hanging leg raise (if you don’t have a pull-up bar at home, do some mountain climbers for this segment instead)
2) Russian Twists (with dumbbell)
3) Side Tilts with Dumbbell
4) In-and-Outs
5) Scissor Legs
6) Plank with Feet on Stability Ball (or a Medicine Ball, if you prefer!)
7) Crunches on Stability Ball (the ball should be under the “small” of your back)
8) Side-plank with Leg Raises
9) Stability Ball Leg Lift (squeeze the stability ball between your ankles/calves; lay on your back and slowly raise the ball up off the ground, while tightening your abs)
10) Bicycle Crunches (left elbow to right knee, and vice versa)

If you aren’t sufficiently sweaty at the end of this workout, throw in a minute or two of mountain climbers to finish it off!

I hope you had a great Easter weekend!

🙂

Slush and Mud

In case you didn’t know, St Louis got quite a lot of snow this past Sunday! I’ve been told the official measurement at the airport was 13 inches, although some areas got as many as 16!  Regardless of the exact amount, snow on the ground turns running into a whole new ball game.

I’m not one of those maniacs hard-core runners who sees that a blizzard is coming in and decides it’s the perfect time to tie on the running shoes and head outside. No. When I hear there’s snow coming – be it 3 inches or 13 – I start to plan what kind of delicious foods I will enjoy on my warm couch while watching a movie…in my warm house. (cue popcorn and chocolate)

The day the snow arrives, and usually the day after, I take to the treadmill to knock out my miles. I’m not particularly fond of treadmills (except for speedwork) because I get incredibly bored after .3 miles, but it’s better than twisting my ankle on a patch of ice or face-planting in front my neighbor’s house. Desperate times call for desperate measures – and for me that means the treadmill.

image

Sunny Day at Forest Park

Monday morning, with somewhere between 10-13 inches of snow outside, I headed to the basement and completed 4 miles of HIIT.

Tuesday morning, I woke up to sunshine and seemingly warmer temperatures. I debated about whether or not the snow would have melted off my favorite running paths by now, and decided to chance it. I was heading to Clayton for a meeting that morning so I threw my running clothes in the backseat and headed over to Forest Park when I was done.

Although I did encounter some pond-sized puddles at several points, most of the 6-mile outer loop was clear – at least from snow and ice. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day for a run. I listened to a couple podcasts as I made my way around the park, and debated a short stop at the zoo as I passed it. I wish I lived just a little closer to Forest Park because I would definitely run there more often!

Gorgeous View at Queeny Park

Gorgeous View at Queeny Park

Wednesday, I decided to venture to yet another park and test my luck on its more “primitive” path. Sure enough, it was clear of most of the snow, but lots of slush and mud remained. My favorite. 😉 As I made my way around the loop, and noticed my shoes getting more and more soaked, I realized that running in mud and slush can actually be quite enjoyable. Or, maybe not enjoyable, as much as adventurous.

Something about hopping over puddles and strategically trying to avoid large patches of slush makes me feel like I could conquer the world. For a moment, I forget I’m 5 minutes from my house, at a small park in the middle of the suburbs, and instead I’m just out in nature, trying to survive keep my shoes as dry as possible.

There’s something satisfying about finishing a run, panting and sweating, and looking down to see mud caked all over your shins and shoes. Usually this is accompanied by soaked socks – which can be annoyingly chilling – but then I remember that I’m just a few minutes from home…complete with hot tea, dry socks, and a warm shower.

Happy Running!

Footprints in the snow

“Legs Day” and Enjoying the Present Moment

Today was “legs day” for me at the gym, so I thought I’d share the workout I created this morning. I basically just compiled this from the random exercises that came to mind at the moment:

20130116-170450.jpg

My legs were burning after this workout, and I refueled with one of my chocolate Greek yogurt concoctions as soon as I got home.

Last week I had a horrible migraine-like headache that lasted for 6 days…not exactly a fun time! I took it easy on the exercise front and stuck to long walks and yoga for the week. It felt good to give my body a break. 🙂

I used to do yoga DVDs or find videos on Youtube, but recently I’ve just been winging it and creating my own yoga workout each day. I now know enough different poses to keep myself busy for 20-30 minutes and I love the relaxing feeling of creating my own routine. I always turn off all the lights in my room, turn on my “Calm Meditations” station on Pandora, and light several candles around the room. It relaxes me so well and is such a great way to start the day!

20130116-170819.jpg

One of my goals for the new year is to SLOW down, in several ways:
– eating
– driving
– talking

I tend to move quickly in all of these areas, and none of them are really beneficial! Since 2013 began, I’ve been consciously slowing down in these 3 things and it’s really made a difference. I feel so much more relaxed when I’m not speeding down the road (not to mention that it’s so much safer!) and I enjoy my meals so much more when I take the time to eat slowly and savor each bite. Talking slowly has still been a difficult one for me…most of my family talks at a breakneck speed so it’s a pretty well developed habit of mine! But when I do remember to slow down and speak at a relaxed pace, it’s great. 🙂

We often miss out on the moment in front of us because we’re too busy thinking about the ones ahead. We live at such a fast, crazy pace that I think we could all benefit from slowing down in some way, shape or form. Take the time to savor the here and now, with whatever it holds for you. 🙂

Refreshed

My 2013 started off right with a fun visit from my friend Alyse! She lives in Minnesota and came in town for a conference on the 27th. After the conference ended, she came to stay at my house for a few days! I picked her up at her hotel on New Years Day and it was such a great reunion! Alyse and I met back in 2008 on a mission trip to Nicaragua…I had just graduated high school and she was going into her junior year. That’s the same mission trip where I met my friend Amy, and she and I became best friends because of that summer.

We had a lot of fun together while Alyse was in town…lots of girl talk, chocolate, giggling, Starbucks, and a chilly walk in the snow!

Alyse and I:

20130107-183350.jpg

Blurry iPhone picture taken by a fellow Starbucks patron:

20130107-183404.jpg

And of course, the Beagle had to join us on our walk:

20130107-183413.jpg

Alyse headed back to Minnesota on Friday morning and the rest of my weekend was pretty low-key! I had a friend over on Friday afternoon to hang out before she headed back to college, and Saturday I joined some friends for a chili dinner and the Packers game. I’m not a Packers fan, per se, but these friends are diehard fans from Wisconsin, so it was fun to watch the game with them!

On Sunday I woke up in the mood for a trail run so I got on my All Trails app and discovered a new-to-me park that was just minutes from my church. I packed up my running clothes before heading out to the late morning service, and threw in a couple Larabars since I’m always ravenous after church! I made it to the park at around 12:45 and found the trail without too much trouble.

20130107-184148.jpg

I’d never run on the Chubb Trail before, and it was not exactly the best day for a trail run because of the melting snow going on here in St Louis! The trail was still icy in many parts and the rest of it was slushy and muddy. It definitely made it feel like more of an adventure, though! I love muddy runs for some odd reason, so I was perfectly content. 🙂 I took the Chubb Trail down into a beautiful valley, where I crossed some railroad tracks and found myself in Castlewood Park:

20130107-184537.jpg

I ran through a gorgeous, sunny field before the trail headed back into the woods.

20130107-184637.jpg

I love trail runs for many reasons, but largely because they bring me back to the FUN of running! It’s so easy for me to get focused on the STATS of my running – distance, pace, miles logged – instead of just enjoying the ability and opportunity to run. Trail runs make me feel like a little kid again, exploring the woods just like I did when I was 10. 🙂 Trail runs remind me to enjoy the beauty of nature instead of focusing on my “workout” all the time. And I always do my trail runs without my ipod so I can listen to the rustling of the wind and the cracking branches in the woods as I run. It’s cheesy, I know, but I LOVE being outside so much and I wish I did more of it. Trail runs are one way I stop (figuratively, haha) and enjoy the beauty of it all.

20130107-185311.jpg

My blurry phone photos don’t do it justice.

I also got to run alongside the Meremac River for a little bit, which was fun! I loved all the different scenery I got to witness on this trail.

20130107-185520.jpg

Needless to say, by the time I made it back to my car, my shoes – and legs – were covered in mud! It was well worth it, though, as I drove home with a refreshed and happy heart.

20130107-185800.jpg

Trail runs are so good for the soul. 🙂