How to Use Bodyweight Exercises to Improve Your Fitness

Hi there!

It’s been a while since I did a workout post, which is strange because those are my favorite posts to write.

As a wife, mom, and business owner, I have to have a quick workout routine that doesn’t involve a lot of expensive equipment that I can take anywhere.

That’s one of the reasons why I’m an advocate for body weight exercises. They’re easy to learn (most of the time), convenient, and can be modified for just about any fitness level!

I’ve also seen many, many clients through the years achieve phenomenal results with body weight exercises, not only maintaining their fitness levels but advancing their fitness levels by leaps and bounds.

I’ve also had many personal training clients and group fitness participants say to me, “Oh, I just didn’t work out this week because I was out of town and couldn’t get to my gym.” That’s just crazy. Doing something is better than nothing.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love free weights, and resistance  bands and pretty much any kind of resistance you can think of, but at the end of the day, what matters is that you trained.

(Disclaimer: This blog post may contain affiliate links to products, the sales from a portion of which help support my blog, which I put a lot of effort into. The opinions of any products I review are my own, and I only recommend products which I believe are exceptional. Thank you for supporting my blog!)

Really, the only equipment you need is you, or a yoga mat or towel. I prefer a yoga towel because they’re sweat absorbent and can easily be folded and placed in a tote bag or suitcase.

So you see, you really can’t go wrong with this type of workout.

With body weight training, your body experiences these benefits:

  • Less chance of injury
  • Ability to focus on your form and technique, rather than the amount of weight you’re lifting
  • A convenient workout you can do just about anywhere
  • A multitude of exercises so you can add endless variety to your workouts

To give you a taste of body weight training, especially if you’re new to exercise, I’ve provided a sample workout for you. You can do this workout as many rounds as you like, but I recommend completing the series, one exercise after the other, with little to no rest in between, anywhere from two to five times. You can use any variations of these exercises that you like, so the possibilities are endless!

 

They are pretty basic exercises, but if you really do them correctly, you’ll definitely feel them working.

Squats: butt, legs

This classic exercise is one of the best at boosting your metabolism because it uses some of the largest muscle groups in your body. Try basic, plie, single-leg, and jump variations. Try holding still at the bottom of a squat for 30 extra seconds at the end of each set.

Side Planks: abs, obliques, lower back, shoulders    

Side planks can also be done on your elbows and also have lots of variations. The key is to make sure your head is in a straight line from your head to your heels.

Pushups: shoulders, triceps, chest

Another classic exercise, push-ups are a great way to get your heart pumping. They also have numerous modifications. And for those of you who need to build up your upper body strength, they can be done on your knees instead of your toes. Just don’t let your stomach hang to the floor and aim for a straight line from your head to your heels.

Lunges: butt, legs, core

Lunges are another exercise that can really rev up your metabolism. There are lots of ways to to do them too: static, front, rear, side. The options are almost endless. Just remember to put your weight into your front heel to stand. (If you’re a beginner, gradually make your lunges deeper and deeper as you get more fit.)

 

What’s your favorite body weight exercise?

Tell me in the comments below!

 

– Julie

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things that Make Life Easier as a New Mom

So, I know… I’ve been doing a lot of blog posts on motherhood lately. But I think that there’s a lot of misconceptions about entering into motherhood.

One such misconception is that you need lots of stuff to be a good mom. From the time a woman gets pregnant, or embarks on the journey to foster or adopt, she is bombarded with ads and offers from companies, all competing to get her time and money.

There are gadgets galore, and the possibilities of things you may or may not need may seem overwhelming.

Let’s be real. What your child needs is a safe place to sleep, eat and lots of love and attention.

When we brought Erin home, I quickly learned that half of those things that are touted as luxury baby items are not necessary for my child’s development nor helpful for me as a mom.

There are a few things that are really simple things that do make my life easier as a mom. And I thought I’d make a list of them for you. Granted, they’re things that help me, but may not necessarily be the things that save your sanity. Every mom is different. But without further ado, here they are.

(The posts on this blog from time to time contain affiliate links, and a portion of the proceeds go to this blog, which takes time, energy, and money to run. However, I only recommend products I really like.  Thank you for reading and supporting this blog.)

1. Comfortable, easy to wear clothing for mommy and baby. I own a few good pairs of leggings. Old Navy has great leggings with a roll-down, yoga waist band. They were essential for me when we brought Erin home from the hospital because I could slide them on quickly with a t-shirt before guests came over. Having a comfortable robe helped too with nursing. No one prepared me for the lack of clothing that having a newborn involved.

Oh and for baby, those frou frou outfits just don’t work for every day. Erin lives in onesies and leggings, and they are easy to change. She also has had several comfy zipper sleepers that were a lifesaver when it came to changing diapers, half asleep in the middle of the night. I will only do zipper sleepers with the new baby.

2. Lots of books. Nothing calms Erin like reading a book when she’s teething. We’ve been reading to her since birth and now she picks up little stroller books and pretends to read them… it’s so cute! We read her Beginner’s Bible before bed at night. She also has a few other favorites.

3. A big crockpot. So this really makes my life easier. I make at least two meals a week in a crockpot. It’s a lifesaver. Just throw in some chicken, potatoes, green beans, and Italian dressing, and you’re all set!

4. A diaper clutch. Someone had the brilliant idea to give me one of these diaper clutches by Skip Hop, and I love it! I can throw it in my tote bag for a quick trip to the store, and the built in changing pad has saved Erin’s bottom in many an emergency.

5. A good nursing/car seat cover. So for about 8 months, we exclusively breastfed and pumped, and this cover has been amazing! It also works as a car seat cover, and I love the 360 coverage. I just slide it over my head, and I felt like I could nurse Erin anywhere in this cover.

6. Stacking toys and puzzles. So as Erin has gotten older, she’s wanted more of a challenge. I’m so thankful one of my old co-workers got me this puzzle, and my mom and dad gave her a developmental tea set for Christmas. She also has some simple rhythm instruments that keep her entertained for quite awhile.

7. An easy to assemble stroller. Let’s face it. Big bulky strollers are a hassle. I have a stroller I’ve used only once because it was just too difficult to assemble. But I love my Graco stroller. I can unfold it with one hand. Woohoo!

8. A good swing. Oh man, I don’t know how I got any sleep without a baby swing. I didn’t think I needed one, but my oh-so-wise SIL bought me one at Once Upon a child, and it was a lifesaver for the first 6 months!

9. A workout dvd with short workouts. Okay, mommies, you cannot use the excuse that you have to much to do. You are worth your time and attention. Can’t get to the gym? A dvd with a 10 minute workout will help you lower stress levels, reduce the risk and/or duration of postpartum depression, and allow you to feel more like a human being. Here’s my faves:

Pilates Workouts for Busy Moms – Erica Ziel/Knocked Up Fitness

Strength – Mash-up Conditioning

Rev4 – Natalie Jill Fitness

You can also check out some of the short workouts I have on this blog. Just remember, you don’t have to work out for an hour to see, feel or maintain results!

10. Healthy snacks you can eat with one hand. If you are breastfeeding, this is an absolute must. I love cheese cubes, a handful of nuts, veggie slices and hummus, bananas, and protein smoothies in a blender bottle, just to name a few. They’re easy to prep in bulk. I can put them in portion appropriate containers to grab and go later. It’s a win win.

 

11. A fertility monitor. So this is a personal preference, but your hormones do all sorts of wacky things after childbirth. I wish I’d bought one of these earlier. It tracks your cycles and basal body temperature and even the early stages of pregnancy. I have the Easy@Home fertility monitor that plugs into my smart phone. (I did receive this product for a great discount.) And it is so nice to not have to keep a paper chart. I just sync the thermometer with my smartphone, and voila.

12. A planner. With kids, the appointments seem never ending, and trust me, you shouldn’t try to remember them all. That’s why a planner is so important.

13. A way to relax…. I’ll admit.. I’m a little more of a type A personality, but I’ve learned to have me time each day, even if it’s 5 minutes before bed. I love journaling and crocheting when I’m trying to relax, and I’m always in the mood for a good cup of tea with my manatee tea infuser. I also typically sneak in a 5 or 10 minute workout to lower my stress levels.

14. A cleaning routine. I’ll just be honest, this is one I struggle with, but we do make sure certain things get done daily, like kitchen counters and sweeping, while others, such as bathrooms, get completed once weekly… (or every other week). Assign who does what, and this will save you frustration and heartache.

So here’s my very short list of different things that have made my life easier as a new mom this past year… notice, there were no wipe warmers or baby food makers. (That’s what I use my Ninja blender for!)

Keep it simple, and you’re sure to enjoy spending time with your little one, and less time, thinking about this lavish routine I’d have to maintain.

Stay genuine,

Julie