More Core…Than You Originally Thought

So, It’s midweek. Usually, This is my day of the week where I really blast my core, which involves a lot of integrative exercises, using multiple muscle groups. Usually there is some type of ridiculous balance exercise involved. But I promise my entire body feels more toned once I get the training for this group out of the way! Some people love training abs…I used to, but now I enjoy training legs more, so to keep it fun, many times I train abs and glutes together. You might be thinking…really, isn’t that time-consuming, it’s really not. Besides, by training this way, I ensure good posture and balance on both sides of my body. Which helps prevent injury. Besides, glutes are part of your core too, this often overlooked muscle group can cause severe back pain in people who don’t train properly. The other muscles people don’t think of: lower abs. If you don’t train them, forget a six pack. their connected to your upper abs and your obliques, and inner thighs. Think planks with any kind of leg movement. One thing to be mindful of, pun intended, is to put your mind into the muscle. Knowledge is power, so think about contracting the muscle you want to work during the exercise. I promise you’ll get better results.

I usually train straight-set/ consecutive sets for 2 weeks, then superset for 2 weeks, and then circuit or HIIT for 2 weeks. Depending on whether or not I’m looking for strength or long lines. This is what a sample core workout looks like for me. I’ve trained this way for awhile and it works.

Warm-up: 1min.   marching knee lifts

3x 12-20 hip lifts

3x 12-15 side reach throughs  (each side) with top leg lifted. This can be done from plank position

3x 3-8 plank straddles each side (This one should not be rushed through.) You can even try this move on hands and knees.

 3x 12-20 reverse crunches

 Try this routine. You’ll be breaking a sweat and on your way to stronger core in no time! Think of your core as a belt which goes all the way around when you choose your exercises, and you’ll be much more functionally fit!

Terrific Tabata

Ok…so, I hate cardio…just for the record. I do the occasional 5k, but the idea of spending anywhere from 30 – 60 minutes on a a machine that makes me feel like a two-legged hamster. I realized I haven’t touched on this topic since I started the blog over a year ago. Well, here it is. I love the results I get from sprinting, but I knew there just had to be a form of cardio out there, other than the Zumba® classes I teach, that challenges my mind as well as my body. Well, here lately, I’ve been on a Tabata kick. It’s wonderful. I get my cardio done in less than 10 minutes, am dripping with sweat and actually feel like I got a workout. You might say, Ta-whata? Tabata training was discovered by a Japanese scientist names Izumi Tabata. It works the cardiovascular system and the musculoskeletal system, increasing endurance and strength. Tabata training involves 20 seconds of high intensity work followed by 10 seconds of rest. This pattern is completed 8 times. I usually like to do 2-4 types of tabatas in a cardio workout.

Sample Tabata workout:
20 seconds jumping jacks
10 seconds rest (march in place)
complete 8x
20 seconds squat to kick and punch
10 seconds rest
complete 8x

Well, I thought I would hate Tabata too, but I was wrong. It’s wonderful…(did I already say that?), and it accelerates results, and it saves time. It can be adapted to your fitness level, no matter what level you are, and it isn’t  time consuming! And…you can even do these workouts at home! Try it out you just might like. I like Tabata so much now, that I even teach a combined strength and Tabata class now!


Hi my wonderful friends! So, after a very long blogging hiatus, I’m back in the saddle, with blogging. I’ve been tweaking my diet and fitness regimen to include a more holistic fitness regimen, and it’s really paid off. Amazing what a little stress management will do for you, especially when that includes prayer and Scripture.
In Hebrew, the word “salvation” means “room to breathe”. Oh how I’ve needed that lately! But don’t we all! There are lots of studies by ACSM and other organizations showing how true breathing reduces stress, and as a result, reduces, cortisol, which in turn, has side effects such as reducing belly fat.
So my friends, let’s think about this: Salvation= room to breathe. God already had the corner on this market!  When we experience the presence of God, He can give us room to breathe. If we reach out and accept it. Matthew 11:30 “Take my yoke upon you, for My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” God really does care about the effects of stress on us, but how many times do we take too much on…? He is the only One at whose feet we can lay our burdens down, so that we can receive His yoke, one of rest. So convicting…but that’s what I learned this week.

Allergies, Pollen, and Hayfever, OH MY!

Tis the season…to sneeze.
News stations have been reporting that we have had the highest pollen count in 20 years…and my ears, nose, and throat said, “Amen”! This has been a rough allergy season for me, but the past few days, they seem much better, and my migraines have ceased for the moment. I don’t even have to take medicine but once every 3 or 4 days, as opposed to every 3-4 hours. “What has brought about this turnaround?”, you might ask. Well, allow me to share with you what has worked for me, so that you may try it yourself. Of course, with a doctor’s supervision.

No wheat, or dairy, except for yogurt, and pepper jack cheese(because of the capsaicin, which clears sinuses). Although recently stated by prominent members of the medical community to be an old wive’s tail, this always reduces my symptoms. If I’m having too much drainage. I know immediately to not cheat on my gluten-free diet, and eliminate dairy as well. After a few days, my sneezing reduces.

Black Cumin Seed Oil. A natural inflammation fighter, this supplement tastes like aftershave going down, but after a week’s time, cut my use of claritin in half. My headaches are almost non-existent now.

Leave your shoes at the door. Not tracking pollen all over my house has kept my symptoms to a minimum. We leave our seasonal shoes in a basket by the door.

Vacuum, often.

Wash your hair and face, daily. Pollen gets blown into our hair around our face, and for those of us with longer hair, causes the little pests to be in close contact with our eyes and face.

Breathe. Practicing pilates has taught me to breathe more deeply in order to calm my body’s response to allergens, not allowing my system to get too hyped up. The unrelieved stress will often trigger a headache or allergy attack for me. Be patient. Take a moment to pray.

I hope this will help ease your seasonal issues. I still have some days that are better than others, but my symptoms have been greatly reduced.

Consider it pure joy when you encounter various trials. James 1:2

How to Have a Healthy St. Patty’s Day

Hi There!
As you all are aware, St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner! I was thinking this morning, since Micah and I try to be healthy, and avoid gluten, this holiday could be a challenge, but I gave some thought, and realized that this should be the easiest holiday to celebrate! It’s all about green! (And please, forget about those cookies with the green sprinkles, can’t we be a little more creative?) There are so many healthy options out there that are healthy and green.
-take a Clean Green tray to your office/school party filled with green fruits and veggies.
Kiwis, spinach, cucumbers, bell peppers, honeydew, pistachios, wasabi peas, edamame, sugar snap peas, bean sprouts, celery, white raisins, avocado/guacamole, salsa verde, artichokes, green beans, broccoli, green onions…and many more
-make an all green salad…these are really full of flavor, and antioxidants
-get out and walk (in green grass)
-get up and dance to irish folk music
-wear green to a group fitness class

-do a simple leg workout, such as 40  squats, bridges, or lunges or standing kickbacks and leg raises
-drink green tea
-if you must dine out, ask for a box as soon as your food is delivered, and box up half of the portion. this will decrease your calorie intake
-everything in moderation, if you’re going to have a beer. drink a low calorie, and that’s it.
Maybe my St. Patrick’s Day won’t be so unhealthy after all!

Have fun and be safe!

Yours in fitness!

All or Nothing

So, this week has been a strange one…and when I say strange, I mean…STRANGE… phone not working, email not working. You name it. Miscommunications right and left, people showing up early, late, or not at all…*sigh*. One of THOSE weeks. It’s one of those weeks where my prayer life has been dramatically increased by 200%. Those of you who are reading are probably laughing hysterically by now, at least some of you are…unless this week has been that way for you. Between planning a major fundraiser for work, balancing home life, and trying to carve out just a little time for myself, between wasted hours waiting for people…who don’t care…my “grace-o-meter” is just “plumb tuckered out”. Friday, I went into the gym, determined to work hard and fast…I only made it through 2 sets of three exercises before I had to clock in for work, but man have my glutes and lower body been sore today…mission accomplished. The point is when you put your mind and heart into your training, you can make it work, no matter how little time you have, but if you just mindlessly work your way through exercises, it doesn’t matter how many you do…you won’t feel that “reward” the next day, and by reward, I mean delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). A study by the University of South Carolina Upstate states that when told what muscle to squeeze during an exercise, participants experienced 25%  more muscle gain from their workouts. Amazing! 25%! That’s a huge number! The bottom line is it’s all or nothing. You can’t go through life giving 80%, if that’s your philosophy, then you will fail at careers, marriage, parenting, relationships (with God and others), but if you truly commit with your mind, not just going through the motions (no pun intended), then the rewards are endless.
“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” Phil. 4:13

Try this exercise for easing low back pain and strengthening the muscles surrounding (glutes and hamstrings).
Hip lift/Bridge
Lie on your back, palms down and  heels pressing into the floor, close to seat, with feet hip-width apart.
scoop your abs in,and squeezing glutes, lift hips into the air.
Hold for 2 counts then lower, barely touching the floor.
(This exercise also stretches the hip flexors/psoas.)

This blog is no substitute for supervised exercise. Always consult a physician before beginning any physical activity regimen.

Cheating: Is food fair?

This is a topic I get asked about by everyone…and I do mean EVERYONE…So often I hear people bemoan the fact that their one cheat meal of the week was traditional barbecue food or cookout food…I hear…but it was just one meal, but my digestive system feels like a wreck…I’m holding water weight…I feel heavy…on and on the list goes. Some say, can I really cheat, or is that just a lie trainers use to get you to try a diet… The good news is yes, you can cheat, but moderation is a lot less that what you may already believe. Here are the cheating commandments…er uh…guidelines…of cheat meals/snacks

1. A cheat is only a cheat when it is once a week. More than once a week and it’s a habit, not a cheat.
2. It is not a piece of that chocolate mousse pie. It is one BITE of that chocolate mousse pie. People think that following the moderation rule involves pigging out on that food once a week during that cheat meal. I say is is a portion only a tiny bit larger than what you already eat…you normally would not THINK about chocolate mousse pie…as Mary Poppins said, “Enough is as good as a feast.” This is a time to practice self-control and feel empowered by exercising control over what you put in your mouth.
3. It is not “saving” your calories for tonights big banquet…This is especially true for those of you who go to family get-togethers and business dinners. By doing this, you are depriving your body of the nutrients it needs to keep your metabolism fueled, and then gorge when you arrive in temptation central. Practice pre-eating: a small clean meal, even if it’s only cucumbers and hummus, will trick your body, and you will eat less that what  you would have originally.
4. Food is not a social networking tool…even though we treat it like it is…you will not be anymore or less accepted in reality if you eat that shrimp scampi or those doritos than if you do.
5. If you must gorge, gorge a whole food you love, like blueberries…
I hope you enjoyed this comical but practical take on cheating….please feel free as always to comment. 🙂
Galatians 5:23
“For the fruit of the Spirit is…self-control.”

How Determined Are You?

Committment: This word is one that probably holds less meaning than any other word in the dictionary, to the current generation. We are a society of instant gratification. Period.We want our fast food, entertainment, and our lives to be well, uh, faster. Never mind who we hurt in the process…who cares about learning the value of people…we must get to where we’re going…AND FAST. The most appreciated journeys are just that. It is so important to enjoy or at least learn from our journeys…when you’re at a destination, yes you’re there, but your deepest memories of the experience will come from the journey itself, not the destination. So many people look at a destination, i.e., competition, wedding, weight loss, and think the result is amazing, so they sign up for change, and then get frustrated and quit, after the first roadblock. CHANGE is UNCOMFORTABLE. But through change, you have the opportunity to learn something you never experienced before. So before you decide to make a change, count the cost, and purpose in your heart to make that change happen. You will spend less time backtracking and spend more time headed in the right direction if you do some serious soul searching BEFORE you begin. When you begin to take those next steps in you fitness journey, enjoy the process. Find a class you enjoy, a trainer you get along well with, healthy meals you actually like, a time amount that is challenging but reasonable for you to devote to your routine, and stick with it. Don’t look back.
“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:3,4

Motivation:When it’s tough to move on

       Let’s be honest…The past few weeks have been difficult for me to get motivated….You might think, “But you’re a fitness professional…you’re immune”. WRONG. I’m not immune. Let’s banish the thoughts of fitness professionals who claim to never eat sweets, bread, alcohol, or other such temptations…It’s not a realistic picture. I learned a long time ago that if I never treat myself, then I’ll crash and man, will I crash hard and quickly. And I’ll crash for hours, maybe days, maybe weeks…lol, but really, that picture is not pretty. Life happens, that’s the blessed truth. But one valuable lesson I’ve learned is to make the most of the times when I’m at home…It’s MY time, my clean meals, and my fitness routines that matter then, no one else’s. I was asked recently by someone what it would take for me to give up my health and fitness regimen. I looked at that person and said, “You’re asking me to give up the one thing I do for me – that’s not going to happen. If I don’t get that time in, then what you want from me is not going to happen.” Really though, some women go shopping, some love pedicures (there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that), some women have other hobbies. The one thing I do for myself, and my hubby is we try to indulge in healthy foods and exercise. Next to my quiet time with God, then time with Micah, this is the most critical part of my day. If I don’t get that 15 min. – 1 hr., then I’m one cranky caterpillar. Here lately, fitness has helped me deal with stress, with emotional pain, and brother has there been a lot of it.

       Micah’s grandmother passed this week. But she wasn’t just his Nana, I claimed her too, even for the short time I knew her. After both of my grandmothers passed away last year and my husband and I started dating, Nana adopted me. It has been during the past month as she digressed that I spent a lot of time on the recumbent bike, praying that we’d get to love on her just one more time. My thoughts would be so blurry and scattered to the outer edges of my mind, but something about hopping on that bicycle became my prayer chair, and the place where I could clear my head…I took out stress from work and other areas on that bike, and honestly, it helped. But oh, how my goal of working towards that fitness contest in November was not as all important for me. I had to find another reason to train in addition to that. Strength training makes me feel like a valkyrie…just kidding…but pretty close. I needed to feel strong. The tension I felt in my mind began to fade as a contracted my muscles to the max…the more I thought, the more I placed the tension in my muscles. Now I’m back working towards that contest, but more importantly, I’ve persevered….I didn’t just stop…I still kept going. I pity those who think they can not deal with the physical because of the mental and emotional issues they face. Intrinsic and extrinsic motivators affect each other… so Persevere.
“For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love, and of self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7