Mental Work

Hi everyone!

Last week, I finally started my meditation- my new mental workout.

In recent years, meditation has become a hot topic to study-and the findings show that it can help a wide range of people and health issues.

I’ve had a few apps on my phone that I’d listen to while doing things. Mostly to see if I liked the app or the voice. After some research, I decided to try out Headspace. This app has animations, tips, and it can be customized to fit to your lifestyle. Andy, one of the creators and the voice for each day, is soft and yet not too “dreamy”. The only downside is that is costs a monthly fee.


Personally, I decided to start meditating because I find myself too busy in my mind. If I’m sitting somewhere beautiful or having a casual conversation with someone, I’m also thinking of today, tomorrow, the things I need to do, the things I need to be better at, how to make more money, getting ready for school, etc. Lately, my attention to detail seems off and I’m not actually ever relaxed. When I finally lay down at night for bed, I can feel my body slowly releasing tension. I attribute a lot of my scatter brain to my phone. Everything is instant and quick. Information is best seen in blurbs. I’ve made a consciences decision to make limit my digital intake in the morning and while in bed. Now, I listen to podcasts while I get ready in the morning,

So, the big question is: how’s it going so far?

Well… honestly? It’s really hard. I like that I’m spending time out of my day to try and get grounded and take care of myself. Headspace is very calming and even though I’m not anywhere close to stillness of the mind, I don’t feel like I’m being judged. It’s actually been very interesting as far as processing certain emotions I’ve been ignoring. I’m currently on day 8 and after reading MindBodyGreen’s post on meditating for 100 days and the differences the witter say. Needless to say, I was jealous.

My goal is to make it 100 days! I’ll try to update it at the 30 day mark. Wish me luck! And please, please, please check out headspace!

Have a wonderful day!

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Logging Workouts 

Happy Holidays!!

I hope you all had some nice relaxing family time!

In the midst of the holiday sweat-fest, I’ve started to notice something at my gym. Several people have been carrying around notebooks. As a trainer, I had my notebook/ index cards to keep track of my clients, but for my own personal workouts I log them on My Fitness Pal! Yes, MFP is my favorite fitness companion.

Let me tell you why-

The best part for me (besides logging water intake) is the ability to create your own exercise names to log under the “exercise” tab. I have some pretty unique names.


It’s free, it’s super easy to make an account, and very user friendly! Since I’ve started using this app, my weight progression has increased exponentially and my workout experience overall has been enhanced significantly!

Hope this helps 🙂

 

Deadlifts and Backbends

Happy post-Thanksgiving!

Hope everyone ate plenty and slept well 🙂

The past few years I have dragged my cousins out of bed early to run a turkey trot of our own. This year, more cousins joined us, we made shirts, and I woke up early to spray paint mile markers while strangers walked by and commented on how I was ruining the environment (it rained later that day and most of the paint is already gone, so don’t worry). Fifteen of us set our own personal timers and walked or ran. So much fun!

In other news, I’ve implemented deadlifting into my routine and I’ve noticed and improvement in my backbends!

First let me start off with how my lower back has been. I used to sleep on my stomach and I would wake up every morning with a tight lower back. It wasn’t terrible, just tight. Sometimes I would feel it more when I had run farther the day before. A few months ago I trained myself to sleep on my back, by talking to myself before falling asleep. Yes, I really spoke out loud to myself before falling asleep in the dark in my bed. I picked the mantra “Sleeping on your stomach is bad for your back, sleeping on your back is good for your posture”. I said this 10 times right before I fell asleep for two weeks. Crazy as it sounds, it totally worked!

Even with my acute back pain, I have a very flexible lower back. My full bridge pose is comfortable, and I am beyond camel pose to thunderbolt pose.

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Little Thunderbolt Pose.jpg

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Enter the deadlift.

Deadlifting is a strength training exercise for hamstrings in a quad dominant world. Many people are quad dominant for a number of reasons: posture during lower leg workouts is a big one. First off, make sure you are focusing on your hamstrings in lower leg exercises that call for a recruitment of both sides of the thigh- squats, lunges, etc. Once you feel confident in that awareness, try the deadlift!

Deadlift rules:

  1. Go light to start– yes, you read that right. I’m not saying start with a 10lb flat bar, I mean start with either just the 45lb barbell with maybe 5-10lbs on top. This is for your form. If you start at a heavier weight, you may tweak your back while trying to finish the last few reps. Try a lighter weight so that you can keep the hamstring awareness and also focus on the next few points.
  2. Do a Kegel– yup, that’s right too. This is much easier for women to do. How to do one? (man or woman) next time you need to pee, start and stop your stream before finishing. This helps engage the pelvic floor. Work on this tightening and releasing while maintaining a relatively normal breathing pattern.
  3. This exercise is the reason why they tell you to lift objects with your legs. If you try to hinge at your hips, you will hurt your back.
  4. Roll your shoulders at the top to not only show off your proud chest, but to help maintain a good posture at the top of the lift.
  5. Inhale lift, exhale lower.

The set up:

Approach the bar and stand so your feet are pointing 45 degrees out and the laces are under the bar. Your feet should be hip width distance apart. Squat down until your arms can grab the bar, flipping one hand for an overhand grip and one for an underhand grip. Remember that this is a leg lifting exercise, do not hinge from your back or you’ll really feel it the next day! Keeping your arms strait, rise all the way up and roll your shoulders back. Pause. Lower. Repeat

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Currently, I am on 3 sets of 12 reps with 70lbs. It’s not a lot, but I did practice with the bar before I added weight just to make sure my posture was correct. The results I’ve noticed in one month is the stability I have in backbends and in my posture in general. I can use other parts of my body so I don’t compress my spine when I’m doing any sort of back yoga posture (locust, bow, frog, etc.)

Have a nice Sunday!

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Exercise of the Month: SeeSaw Barbell Press

Hello there!

I hope you all are well 🙂

I’ve recently been revamping my workouts and I cam across a really sweet shoulder/tricep/traps exercise I wanted to share:

The SeeSaw Barbell Press

You can do this with a bar, or dumbbells! The key is to not move your body side to side while moving your arms. It’s also important to move slowly, that’s how you get that tricep burn!

Right now I’m at 3 sets of 16 reps at 20lbs. The lady in this picture looks like she’s using more weight, but I’ll get there!

That’s all I have for now, hope you al had a wonderful Mother’s Day!

 

Recording Progress

Finding the right way to record your workouts is crucial to really seeing and feeling progress.  Before I found my current routine, I was trying to write it all down after the workout and it just wasn’t working for me! I would forget the exercises I was working on or the weights/ reps I was on. It was getting a little frustrating.

Then it dawned on me, doesn’t MyFitnessPal have something?!

Yup!

Me and my interestingly named exercises.

 This has helped me so much! Not only can I change up my routine more, but I don’t have to remember what my weights were at. I’m getting stronger faster, and I’m never discouraged if I can’t up my reps that session. Plus, I can look at that day compared to the last time I did a certain workout and see what effected me.

Time to see some progress!

The HARDEST Hike Yet

Wednesday, I think I had my most challenging hike yet.

Alex, Katie, and I took the dogs up to Mount Ellen and we had no idea what we were in for.

First off, we didn’t even make it to Mount Ellen. We got confused and ended up at Stark Mountain which is part of MadRiver ski mountain. The map told us if we hiked to the top of this small mountain, we could walk across to Mt. Ellen. So we decided to just try it that way. A nice walk along the ridge line sounded beautiful and relaxing.

MadRiver

Let me tell you…

Katie and her dog (Tegan) haven’t really been hiking like we have. Because its a smaller mountain, we figured “shorter hike, right?” No. Nope. Not even a little.

The ascent picked up right away and we were using our hands and hauling both dogs up rocks and over tree branches. Everyone was pretty sweaty, but doing great! Once we made it to the top of the mountain, we realized where we actually were, and decided to try and walk across to Mount Ellen. It was a race against the sunset. That’s when we noticed one of the dogs limping and realized it was time to turn back pronto. Her feet were all ripped up and the pads of her paws were bleeding! Poor thing wasn’t even crying or making any sound. I made the judgement call to walk down the access route on the mountain. I was a lot easier and we could send someone to walk up and get the car.

Thanks goodness we decided top take that route down. The first dog wouldn’t walk at all, so Alex essentially fireman carried an 80lb dog 2.5 miles down the winding road. If that wasn’t bad enough, half way down, the second dog’s pads gave out. So, I carried her the second half of the mountain. I had to start from kneeling, get her on my shoulders, and then slowly stand. Talk about a monster leg workout.

Upon reaching the bottom, I then walked with Katie another mile uphill to retrieve the car. Pretty much a second hike with how steep and windy the road was. Some how, after 6 hours and 8.5 miles later, we were all back in the car on our way home (with our beloved McDonald’s chocolate milkshakes- I think we deserved them!) Everyone is okay, the dogs are resting and being extra loved!

There are two things I have been working on that I think saved my legs and my back from serious injury.

  1. Pull upsthe quest for the pull up is already paying off! Since I’ve been isolating the major muscle groups for pull ups, as well as slowly working on my assisted pull ups, I was able to carry my dog while keeping a strong frame as well as engaging multiple large muscles to help with shoulder fatigue. Engaging the abs in a hollowing fashion (what we call “udyana bhanda” in yoga) while still being able to breath was key.
  2. Step Downs– I saw a woman doing this at the gym and I’ve been all about it ever since.To perform the step down (that’s what I named it), you stand on the assisted pull up machine platform with one foot while the other foot stays down on the ground/step to support you. Using the assisted weight as your a counterweight, slowly push the platform down until your leg is strait. Then let the knee bend (watch that it doesn’t go over the toes) until it’s at a 90 degree angle. The trick here is to not let your backside move towards and away while doing it, the only thing that should be moving and working is the pushing leg. This corresponds to hiking because it’s similar to stepping uphill and having to put more body weight into each leg than we do on solid ground.

I think it’s safe to say I am totally ready for that Spartan Race now…

Life Goals: The Pull Up

Hey everyone!

Have any of you ever seen Terminator 2, where Sarah Connor is doing her beast workouts and all her awesome pull ups?

Bangin’ them out like a champ!

Well, that movie has motivated me for at least the past 4 years to be able to do a pull up. Just one is all I need! It’s always been my “if I can do a pull up I’ll finally feel like I’m really fit” goal. Not that I don’t think I’m a pretty fit person, this is just something I feel like will push me to my next level f awesomeness.

When I first started working with my trainer some-odd-years ago, I told him dream and we got to work. We worked on the assisted pull up machine and we also did what I call “laying down pull ups” (maybe you know them as laying rows?)- where we would set the smith machine bar to about thigh height and I would lay underneath and try to pull myself towards the bar maintaining a plank position. They were super hard!

With the tools and the help of my trainer I tried super hard, and when my noodle arms didn’t start changing, I got mad and fell off the fitness wagon (we’ve all been there).

Now, back in action, I’m researching and cross training and I want this so badly! To be able to do a pull up for the spartan race would be fantastic, but even before new years is a grand feat!

Here’s what I’ve found so far:

  • Melody Schoenfeld shares her 10 moves to help prep for the pull up in her Proof is In the Pull Up article. What I really like is that a. she is a woman, so it’s more relatable and b. she shows these really hard core exercises that help mimic how to set up your abs for the actual pull up. I like how she talks about initiating the lats and I learned that using the assisted pull up machine doesn’t set you up for using the correct muscles, which is something I had started to notice when watching other people on it.
  • Steve, from NerdFitness, has some good tips in his How to Do a Pull Up for people who don’t necessarily have a lot of equipment. He also talks about the different assists either using a rubber band, chair, or person.
  • Jeff Kuhland’s “Coach, I Can’t Do Pull Ups” emphasis on mobility and not “kipping” or swinging and losing form to complete a rep. Kipping happens a lot with people. Going nice and slow makes it harder, but always makes it better.
  • Stew Smith, a former Navy SEAL, gives us the good old military workout for good pull ups in “Tips For A Better Pull Up“. Nothing better than military tips- those guys are like pros.
  • Pull Ups for Total Beginners” is another do-it-at-home kind of deal which I like. I feel like the less props you use to start, the better off you’ll be. I also just want to give props to the guy’s hat. Lookin’ good in a bucket hat.
  • Allyson Globe’s lengthy and in depth article on “How Women CAN Do Pull Ups”  was a good read for motivation. I like that she gives a quick explanation of the difference between a pull up and a chin up and what muscles are used in each. I really appreciate how detail oriented she is and how she describes the fundamentals of shoulder position and hand grips. People tend to see the big picture and the big muscles more so than the details that build your pull up from the ground up.

In my own pull up journey there is one thing I didn’t see  mentioned very much that I’ll add. Jeff covered it very briefly, but I’d like to go into it a little more- mobility. I have a stiff neck and I am sensitive and aware of it when I do upper body work. I try not to progress too quickly with weights so that I don’t compensate by hunching my shoulder or straining. I need to work on opening that up. Even in yoga I have a hard time keeping my palms together and extending my arms fully above my head. So, those of you who carry stress and tension in your neck should be mindful of this as well.

Female power! Look at those muscles!

The exercises I learned and will begin to incorporate are:

  1. Hanging and one armed hangs for time
  2. Bat wings
  3. Negative pull ups
  4. Laying rows
  5. Hanging shoulder shrugs/ lat initiating

I think that doing my push-ups, tricep push-ups, and shoulder push-ups, as well as the other arm/back exercises I do will also help.

I’ve started and feel that I’ve already mad a tiny yet notable bit of progress! I have 4 months until New Years, plenty of time!!! »♥«

The Move: Tire Flips

Tire flip workout!

Tire flips are awesome. Men and women alike can benefit from some good old fashion tire flippin- as well as looking totally badass. And let’s be real, if you can look like a badass doing an exercise you’ve pretty much won the whole “fitness” thing hahaha

Here is a photo/explanation play-by- play of a tire flip with me! I was able to get someone at HammerFit to take some photos and I also posted a video of me on my instagram. The tire I’m using is about 150lbs, but when doing tire flips you’re only lifting half the weight at a time.

The set up:

assume the position

How you position yourself before you even lift the tire will determine the entire act. You really need to get low. I generally have a wider squat. The lower you can get in a good defense stance, the better. My shins are also touching the tire and so are my forearms. Remember to keep your chest up. Your shoulder need to be strong and sturdy to keep the rest of your frame strong.

Lift with your legs and back:

Begin with the deadlift

Tire flips are dead lifts. It’s the same thing expect with a dead lift you finish standing up and with a tire flip you move your body and the tire in a forward motion. Keeping your back strong, start to lift with your legs and lean into the tire with your forearms. Equal parts pushing with the legs and lifting with the back. Meanwhile, really focus on keeping your body still with your abs.

Give it extra umph at the top:

pushing and walking

Right before the tire is completely upright, you’ll have to give it an extra umph with your arms. This is where the dead lift ends and the pushing begins. Your body will feel the weight shift naturally.

Pulling turns into pushing:

BAM

Once your tire is upright, all you need to do is push it over and get that satisfying BAM as it hits the ground. Concentrate on using your thighs, forearm, biceps and back. If your lower back hurts in a bad way, stop doing flips and ice. Make sure to always start with the core basics to help your entire body be connected through out the exercise.

Then, Repeat!

Once you feel comfortable with the tire flip form and repetition, try this sweet workout!

the I Am a Badass Tire flip workout

  • do 10 tire flips
  • turn around and do 10 “booty tapping” squats using the tire as the lowest point, tap it with your booty and then stand back up
  • run a lap
  • repeat 3x or more!

Hope you feel the burn

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Treadmills Are Good For More Than Just Walking

Hey everyone!

I stumbled upon this awesome treadmill workout from one of my favorite websites Popsugar. I watched it and I was hooked!

Treadmill Killer! Be warned, your arms will work just as hard as your legs.

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This is a 4 part-er people

Part One: Plank walk. Place your feet on the ground and your hands on either side of the rotating belt. A good speed to start is 1.0 or less so that you can move your hands safely and you feel in control if you need to stop. Squeeze your glutes and engage your core. Try to keep your hips from swaying too much by maintaining core connection, When you are ready, start walking with your hands! Try and walk for 30 seconds- 1 minute

Part Two: Crab walk. Assume the crab walk stance with your back facing the front of the treadmill, feet planted on the floor. Start with 1.0 or less for speed (I tried it with .80 to start and then went up to 1.0). Concentrate on keeping your tailbone elevated. 30 second-1 minute

Part Three: Mountain Climber. Place your hands on the ground behind the machine and your feet on either side of the rotating belt. When your ready- put your feet on and start walking! It feels like you’re walking backwards. Focus on keeping your butt high in the air while holding yourself strong with your arms. A good place to start is at .8mph to get comfortable with the feeling and then make your way to 1.0. 30 seconds-1 minute.

Part Four: Hill Sprint. Raise it to a 7.0 incline and a good running speed. run for 1 minute!

Walk it off for 5 minutes and start over. Repeat 2-5 times.

The other day I did this workout and was on the treadmill for a total of one hour. Sundays are my long run days, so I ran a mile, walking plank, crab walk, mountain climber, and repeat for a total of 4 miles. Nice alternative to a rainy day long run outside.

Thank you Popsugar for this awesome workout! 

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Yoga is Running, Running is Yoga

Happy Monday Folks!

Yesterday, I went for a 4 mile run and noticed something very interesting starting to happen. I have started to practice yoga while I run.


I don’t mean poses- I’m not spontaneously doing a back bend or a sun sun salutation- I mean more along the lines of fundamentals.  Breathing. Posture. Focus. Continuously monitoring and keeping everything in check.


Let me break it down a little- less yogi more trainer.

When running, there are things a person should take note of every so often- breathing, pain, posture, energy levels, etc. On my run, I started to think of my yoga teacher and how we did a practice where we sacrificed our poses for a continuous breath. You know when you stretch or practice yoga and some positions your breathing may become more shallow or intense? Try to stretch without changing your breath- even inhale and exhale.

It may sound silly, but it’s always nice to find a new way to analyze your body in motion.

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