Tag Archives: workout

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! 🙂

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:
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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…

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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.

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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.

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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

Brownies are the Way to Anyone’s Heart…

It’s no secret in my family that I love to bake. And I love having excuses to bake.

This semester, I’m doing the “young adults” group at my church, which is on Thursday evenings. So, when our table leader asked for a volunteer to bring snacks for the next week, my hand shot up with record speed. Like I said, I love having excuses to bake. 😛

After taking a poll from the table, it became obvious that the majority wanted something chocolate. Surprise, surprise? So, I decided on some good ol’ homemade brownies. I didn’t want to just make box-mix brownies, though, so I set out on a search for a delicious from-scratch brownie recipe. Two hours of google-ing later, I finally found a winner, and the baking commenced:

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These brownies turned out perfectly! I didn’t actually try one of them because I really try to avoid gluten for my health and wellbeing, but EVERYONE that had one could not stop raving about them.

The key to brownies is making sure you cook them just enough that they’re not raw, but not long enough that they become crisp and overdone. Everyone seems to agree that moist brownies are the best – and these definitely fit the bill!

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One of the girls at our table follows the Paleo way of eating, so I decided to find a “Paleo brownie” recipe to make for her. That wasn’t hard to do, and I ended up making these Sweet Potato Brownies from a great Paleo blog I found. <—if you eat Paleo, this is a great resource for recipes!

Don’t be turned away by seeing the words “sweet potato” and “brownie” in the same recipe. I promise, you can’t taste the sweet potatoes at all. The sweet potato is used in place of flour and sugar and gives the brownie the perfect consistency and sweetness.

I DID try (several) of these brownies and they were amazing. Sadly, I forgot to take pictures of them, so you’ll just have to imagine how delicious they were…

The brownies were perfect kickoff to a fun weekend, which I spent largely watching hockey and football with my brother and acting like I know which teams are good and all of that. 😉

I do follow football (somewhat) but I’m completely lost when it comes to hockey. I know the basic rules and strategy of the game, but that’s about it. I’ve discovered that i can appear pretty knowledgable, though, by inserting the occasional comment here and there…such as: “How did he not make that shot?!” and “What an awesome block!” etc, etc. 😛

Somewhere in between hockey games on Saturday, I got the crazy idea to arm wrestle my brother, which didn’t end too well for me. Well, it never does. About every 6 months, I challenge him to an arm wrestling match, as if I actually think I’ll be able to beat him this time. Hah. Who am I kidding? He’s a buff, 18 year old guy who’s always down in the basement, grunting and groaning as he benches, squats, and deadlifts insane amounts of weight. I’m kind of jealous, not going to lie. 😉

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After being sufficiently humiliated in the arm wrestling match, I headed to the gym and had a great 5 mile run on the treadmill. I felt bad for not running outside and enjoying the beautiful weather on Saturday, but by the time I was heading out, it was almost dark. I’m ready for longer days, please! No more of this getting dark at 5pm business.

Sunday, after church, I headed back to Lone Elk Park for another adventurous trail run! It was a chilly 20-something degrees, but the sun kept it from being miserable. This time I took the trail in another direction at one of the forks, and instead of taking me into Castlewood Park, I ran along the Meremac River and toward West Tyson Park. I’d never heard of this West Tyson Park before, but apparently if I’d kept running long enough, it would have taken me all the way there! I wasn’t looking for a crazy long run, though, so I kept my roundtrip to about 6 miles and got a great workout from jumping over all the roots and rocks along the way.

I was excited to visit this trail again without the slush, snow and ice I encountered last time, but for some reason the trail was STILL really muddy! I squelched my way through and ended up with some pretty muddy shoes by the end.

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After my run, I drove around the park to see some of the elk, and got pretty close to a couple of them:

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So far, the week is off to a great start…
This morning I woke up and just felt like it was one of those days that I needed to put a little extra effort into breakfast. I took my time deciding what I wanted, and ended up using some cubed chicken out of the freezer for my base. I stir-fried the chicken with some veggies and ate it alongside a few eggs. Everything was topped with avocado, which I’ve been eating like crazy these days. Avocados are a great source of healthy Omega-3 fat, as well as potassium and protein.

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(sorry for the blurry picture…I was in a rush to taste this before it got cold!)

I’m off to enjoy the rest of this day! I hope you’re enjoying it too!

“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:

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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!

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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:

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Blurry iPhone picture taken by a fellow Starbucks patron:

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

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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.

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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:

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Trail runs are so good for the soul. 🙂

Finally, Some Snow! …and a couple at-home workouts!

SNOW!!

Yes, good ol’ Saint Louis got some SNOW last night! We were predicted to get a little bit on Christmas Day evening, which never really came. Fail. However, we got a beautiful couple inches of it last night, which wasn’t really predicted at all! The temperatures hovered right around 32 so it could have gone either way. I’ll take the gorgeous snow! The roads weren’t bad at all this morning because it was just enough to make things pretty. 🙂

I woke up around 7 this morning and did this short Youtube yoga workout in the comfort of my bedroom where it was nice and warm. It was a very relaxing and refreshing start to my day! Then I leashed up the beagle for a short walk in the snow. She is such a wimp and acted like her paws were going to fall off, as she daintily picked her way down the street. Makes me laugh, that one.

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After my cheeks and nose were sufficiently numbed, I came inside and enjoyed a mug of warm lemon water while chatting with my mom.

BASEMENT WORKOUTS!

A few weeks before Christmas, my mom started bringing up the idea of getting in shape and having me design some workouts for her. My mom has always been a very active woman and loves to hike, bike and walk with my dad on their vacations. She’s not by any means overweight but wants to get more “toned” and build some muscle. 😉

We joked back and forth for a few weeks about me being her “personal trainer” but it wasn’t til the day after Christmas that we finally got down to business and got our sweat on together. My parents have a fair amount of workout equipment in our basement, including a treadmill, elliptical machine, bench with bar/weights, and numerous free weights.

On Wednesday, I created a short and sweet (and sweaty!) abs and core workout for Mom to do. I was a little nervous because:

1) I’m a Holistic Health Coach, but NOT a personal trainer! Although I’ve done TONS of research about workouts and love to create workouts for myself, I’m not officially qualified to train someone.

2) I know what works for ME, but I don’t know how to evaluate someone else’s fitness level and create an appropriate workout for THEM.

Well, it must have been a success, because Mom said her abs were on fire the whole time and the next day she definitely felt it! Win!

Here’s the circuit workout I created for her; you don’t need any equipment except a big stability ball and a weight to hold for the Russian twists.

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On Friday, we decided to tackle the legs so I designed a simple but effective workout for her that focused on basic exercises like squats and lunges. Since my mom is just getting back into working out, we did most of the squats and lunges with light weights, but she plans to continue increasing the weight over time to get even better results!

Here’s the leg workout I designed for Mom, along with some extra notes about improving stability and balance, which are areas she wants to work on:

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When it’s cold and dreary outside, I tend to opt for at-home workouts so I can stay in the comfort of my own home. Even if you don’t have a lot of equipment in your home or basement, there are tons of bodyweight exercises you can do that will definitely have you sweating! Think pushups, lunges, squats, mountain climbers, tricep dips, etc! If you intersperse some cardio bursts (jumping jacks, fast feet, jump squats) in between the exercises, you’ll really get your heart rate up!

I’m off to drink some Gingerbread Spice tea and start a new book!