How I’m Learning to Be Still

I’m probably the last person that would typically write a post like this. While I’m good at reacting during a crisis, I’ll be the first to admit, sometimes day-to-day stressors just get to me, especially when it seems like so many of them keep piling, one on top of the other. Probably one of the toughest lessons I’ve had to learn spiritually is to just be still. Probably the toughest thing I’ve had to learn to do while pregnant is to wait on God.

Let’s face it, waiting on anything is not my strong suit…I think growing up in America has taught me to be very self-reliant and impatient. After all, this is the land of drive-thru’s and self-checkout lines. This is an area that I have to submit to the Lord – oh, and didn’t I mention, I’m not so great at submission either. I’ve always worked a job…since before I’ve had a work permit…in college I worked 3 jobs to make ends meet, and try to pay school bills. Can anyone relate?

Be Still

It happened this week, as I was reading some Scriptures – have you ever been unable to get a really convicting verse out of your head until you read that passage? Well, I couldn’t turn my brain off until I began to read Psalm 46. Verse 10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” The words “be still” struck me in a new way. I thought, “But I don’t know how to be still.”

Continue reading “How I’m Learning to Be Still”

My Top 8 Pregnancy Exercises

Hello there!

Here I am this week in almost week 30 of my pregnancy! Erin is growing and I feel and look like I’m about to pop. I’ll spare you the picture…Just kidding – there will be a picture at a later post…I’m learning how to use the new camera I got for Mother’s Day!

Let’s talk about exercise! Did you know that if your doctor okay’s it, you should be getting a healthy amount of exercise during your pregnancy. (Hey, even if you’re not pregnant, you still should be exercising regularly.) I’ll admit, I was doing well to exercise 3 times a week during my first trimester, but the second and third trimesters have been easier on me in the nausea department. Since I’ve had a healthy pregnancy and exercised regularly before my pregnancy, my doctor encouraged me to stay active, within reason. I have had to learn how to listen to my body, which hasn’t been easy for someone who formerly had a no pain no gain mentality. I do miss lifting heavy, but I am enjoying adding new exercises to my repertoire and taking the intensity down a notch or two.

Disclaimer: Before beginning any exercise or diet program, consult with your physician/healthcare provider. The opinions in this post, although by a fitness professional, are not, in any way a substitute for medical treatment or advice. 

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  1. Squats – This was recommended by the nurse-midwife at my ob/gyn. I have been gradually increasing the number of squats I do with each session, up to 100. I break it up in to sets or somtimes add a light resistance band around the ankles. Adding kegels at the bottom gives an added benefit. For a beginner, standing in front of a chair is a great way to learn how to sit back correctly. You can also stand with the chair in front of you as time goes on.
  2. Donkey Kicks – This exercise can be done on all fours and is great for the low back and booty. With your knee bent, press your heels up to the ceiling, but keep your abs engaged to protect your spine. Complete all reps on 1 leg before the other.
  3. Wall Push-ups – This one is fairly self-explanatory.  Stand at arm’s reach away from a wall. Without bending at the hips, bend your elbows as you lower your body closer to the wall. Press into the wall to straighten your arms.
  4. Tricep Dips – Sit on the edge of a chair or bed, with elbows bent behind you and feet flat on the floor. Slide your bottom off of the seat and press through your hands to straighten your arms. Bend your elbows to lower back to your seat level.                                          Prenatal Exercises
  5. Glute Kickbacks – Standing with good posture, lift one leg behind you until you feel your glutes contract, without forcing your range of motion. Lower the leg until your toes barely tap the floor. Repeat. To make this move more challenging, tie a resistance band around both ankles.
  6. Side Lunges – Stand with both feet together. Step to the side with your right leg, bending your knee as you land and keeping your left leg straight out to the side. Push off your right leg to return back to start.
  7. Bird Dogs – Start off on all fours, using and exercise mat to make you more comfortable. Engage your abs and extend your right leg in front of you and your left leg behind you. Lift your opposite arm and leg to parallel with the floor and pause for 2 counts at the top of the movement, then lower, after you’ve completed the desired number of reps, then change sides, using the left are and right leg.
  8. Seated Row – For this move you will need to be seated in a chair or on the floor. Use a resistance band that challenges you, but allows you to complete the exercise with proper form and technique. From the seated position, loop the band around your toes. taking one end of the band in each hand. Be sure that there is no slack in the band, even with your arms extended out in front of you. Now, simultaneously, bend at the elbows to bring the ends of the band toward you, keeping your elbows by your sides and close to your rib cage. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, and release, allowing your arms to come back in front of you. Repeat.

 

How To Spring Clean Your Diet

Hi everyone!

I hope you’re enjoying the beautiful weather if you’re in NC! It is a gorgeous day today, and Micah and I (and Erin) have already taken a relaxing Sunday afternoon walk.

With this amazing weather, everyone wants to look and feel their best, but it’s so easy to hang on to those old habits of junk food and unhealthy cravings…trust me, being pregnant, I would know a thing or two about cravings.The reality is, what better time to start eating a healthy diet? With the rise in popularity of farmer’s markets and gardening, healthy choices are more accessible  and affordable than ever. If you’re still not sure where to start, don’t worry, I’ve got some tips for you on how to spring clean your diet. These tips are so simple, that even if you’ve never tried to eat healthier foods, you’ll still be able to get on the right track to a balanced diet.

(Disclaimer: the following information is intended as suggestions for healthy eating. Before you begin any diet or exercise regimen, consult your physician or healthcare provider.)


Are you ready to spring clean your diet?

How To (1)

1.  Look for local on the label. Local produce is based on what’s in season and readily available in your area. This makes it cheaper, and usually, local farms are very careful about the quality of their produce. I find great deals at a local flea market in my area, where I can find pretty much any kind of produce that’s in season for a great price.

2. The fewer (ingredients), the better. This is a great general rule of thumb when grocery shopping. I mean, look at the back of a doritos bag….Think about how long that list of ingredients is….a much healthier alternative would be those sweet potato chips that only have about 5 ingredients, or better yet, and cheaper, just roast a can of chickpeas in the oven until they’re crunchy…I love to sprinkle chili powder and garlic powder on them…Delicious!

3. Buy foods with ingredients you can pronounce. Okay, with the exception of that exotic fruit or veggie whose name we have no idea how to spell, this is one of the best rules for cleaning up your diet. This is especially true of pre-packaged foods. Don’t buy it unless you understand what’s in it…if in doubt… make a healthy freezer meal instead of buying the ready-made alternative. (That’s what a slow cooker is for.)

4. Drink more water. Micah and I do not keep 2 liter sodas in our house. Ever. We drink water, tea and coffee, and I’m sure not too long after little Erin arrives, we’ll be adding quality fruit juice to that mix. It’s actually saved us a lot of money on our grocery bill over the years…I’m not sure how much, but if you were to add up what you spend on soft drinks each month, I’m sure you’d see how that money is better spent on fruits and veggies….it’s all about your priorities.

5. Pack your lunch for work. A homemade lasagna with chopped up veggies added in is way better for you than ordering out pizza or Chinese. Once again, I add, remember to use your slow cooker. You will also save a lot of money. Your body and your wallet will thank you.

6. Say “no” to fried and breaded foods. I’m from the south, where we love our breaded chicken tenders, but they’re just not that good for us. A healthier alternative is to roll chicken tenders in egg and oat flour and then bake them in the oven.

7. Be accountable. Keep a food journal. When you see what exactly what you’re putting in your body, it’s far easier to realize how much good or harm you’re doing to your body. Part of health journaling is about how that healthy meal made you feel versus how that fast food meal made you feel. I’ve coached a lot of clients through the years, and those that keep a food and exercise journal have more lasting results and reach their goals much sooner than those that don’t.

Cleaning up your food intake is easy, and can really be done without a lot of expense or a lot of extra effort. What is your favorite tip for staying on track with eating healthy? Comment below!

–  Julie

5 Simple Ways Pregnant Women Can Take Care of Their Health

Hi There!

It’s been awhile since you’ve heard from me and with good reason….The past 6 months have been busy to say the least since Micah and I found out that WE’RE HAVING A BABY! Little Erin is expected to make her entrance into the world in July of this year! We couldn’t be more excited! She’s growing more and more every day.

With this exciting new adventure on the horizon, I’ve had to take a step back and look at my health. Sure, I still try to eat a healthy diet. (“Try” is the operative word.) I do exercise, but in spurts throughout the day. My workouts have changed a little bit, but now I focus on being active to increase my endurance and to feel good, as opposed to only getting faster or stronger.

So without further ado, Here’s some simple, yet effective ways that I’ve been able to stay healthy through the past 2 trimesters.

(Disclaimer: I am not a medical practitioner, and this post is not in any way intended to replace the recommendations of your practitioner. Please consult with your doctor prior to beginning any diet, exercise, or wellness regiment.)

Stay Hydrated
I’m not going to lie to you…I’m not the best about drinking plain old water. But this is something I’ve had to change as an expectant mother.Let me tell you why…If I don’t get enough water, then I feel completely drained and icky. I attribute maintaining a healthy body composition during pregnancy to water. You are over 70% water, so I would venture to say that it’s important for your little one’s growth and development too. I track how much water I drink by how many times I have to refill my water during the day. I also keep a glass by my bedside because having to take allergy medicine this time of year dries out my mouth and throat.It’s such a simple thing to do and pretty much anyone can do this…and it takes minimal effort…ok, so it is getting a little tougher to get up and down, but you get the idea. Add some ice cubes and a slice of lemon or orange and you’re ready to go!

Eat a Rainbow
Fill your plate with as many colors as possible. I know, craving fried foods is the temptation of every pregnant woman alive, but just think about the good you’re doing your baby and yourself by making a healthier choice. Recently, I’ve gotten addicted to Greek yogurt parfaits with berries and granola. This is such a great way to sneak in those antioxidants! I do still love salads too, I haven’t been much on cooked veggies, but I still love any veggies I can eat raw, so I monopolize on that when I can. Be sure to get sufficient protein too. Invest in a great-tasting protein powder and mix in a blender bottle with coconut or almond milk and the nut butter of your choice.

Get Moving
This might be a tough one, and please, check with your doctor to see what guidelines apply to your specific pregnancy. Remember, no two pregnant women are the same. My doctor recommended that I work up to 100 consecutive squats, but remember, I was in great shape when I got pregnant. Side-lying floor exercises might be a great option too, and don’t forget kegels…Walking is great exercise and dancing to music is fun too. Talk to a prenatal exercise specialist. You can break up 30 minutes of daily exercise into 3-10 minute segments. Make it happen once your doctor gives you the green light.

Rest
Get enough sleep. Take the day off work if you can. Never allow yourself to get so busy that you can’t unwind and relax. Don’t feel guilty about taking a nap. There is a little human being growing inside of you, so your body is working overtime.

Breathe
Take 5 minutes a day to focus on your breathing and nothing else. You will feel calmer and more relaxed, and you’ll be glad you had a moment of sanity. There are lots of studies out there that show the positive benefits of breathing on the immune system, the heart, and the brain, and stress levels.

I know the months fly by when you’re waiting for your little one to arrive. Frankly, I can’t believe it’s been 25 weeks already! This is a great time to take care of your health and prepare for setting an example for your child. I know for me personally, Erin is a great motivator for staying healthy, because I want to be a good example, as well as feel physically capable of taking good care of her.

Moms and expectant moms, what do/did you do to stay healthy during your pregnancy(s). Comment below!

Julie

6 Ways to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions You May Have Not Heard of (Long After the New Year)


Hi there! 
It’s been a long time since I’ve written, but it’s good to be back. Today, I have a great post for you brought to you by the Ninja Challenge Obstacle 5k! They have some awesome ways to keep running towards your New Years’ resolutions, long after many others give up. (Yes, that pun was intentional.) 

I loved this post when they sent it to me, and I think you will greatly benefit from the solutions mentioned here. (Disclaimer: While I did receive compensation for this post, I whole-heartedly agree with the ideas presented. Please speak with your healthcare provider prior to beginning any exercise regimen.)



6 Ways to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions You May Have Not Heard of
About the Ninja Challenge: The Ninja Challenge Obstacle 5K is designed to bring out your inner ninja through obstacles that include climbing walls, throwing ninja stars, running on water, dodging ninjas, and more. This family-friendly event is held every year in Fuquay-Varina, and is locally-owned and supported. It’s perfect for first-time racers of all age ranges, and we often have competitors ranging from 8 to 80 years old. A portion of all proceeds benefit the Triangle Aquatic Center and the Triangle Red Cross to help promote drowning prevention and safety. The 2016 Ninja Challenge Obstacle 5K will be held May 21, 2016. To register, please visit www.theninjachallenge.com.
Now that February has arrived, the will to maintain New Year’s Resolutions is disappearing fast. We’ve all heard the sad statistic that only eight percent of resolutions are kept. We all know that it takes about three weeks to form a new habit, but that people stop trying after just 10 – 14 days.
Most of us also know the common solutions: Write down your goals; tell other people about your resolutions; form a group of friends and cohorts committed to the same goal. Nevertheless, each year, that eight percent success rate fails to budge.
This isn’t to say that the common tips listed above don’t help. (They do, and you should be implementing them into your routine each day.) However, there are a few “extra” ways that are less known, and since we believe in doing everything you can to set yourself up for success, we would like to share them with you.
Here are six ways to keep your New Year’s resolutions that you may not have heard of:
1. Forget the results:
If you’re like the majority of people in the United States, your New Year’s Resolutions are essentially two-fold: Lose weight and save money.
Each year, these two goals are among the top resolutions, but unfortunately, they’re incredibly vague. After all, if you manage to save a single dollar or lose a single pound, you’ve technically succeeded. But we doubt many people would actually consider that “success.”
Instead of focusing on vague, unmeasurable results, see if you can focus on the process of changing your habits. Instead of saying “lose weight,” change the resolution to “eat a salad every day for lunch,” and “walk 30 minutes each evening.” That is a much more specific goal, and it will have the payoff of establishing a good habit.
Plus, this way, you can look back at your day — each day — and know whether or not you succeeded. Each time you go to bed having accomplished your goal, you’ll be more motivated to do it again the next day.
2. Get an app:
People often complain about the downsides to living in a technology-oriented society, but there are also some serious advantages! Today, anyone with a smartphone has access to thousands of goal-setting apps available, ranging from apps to improve your motivation, organization, budget, fitness, diet, sleep, relationships, and nearly every other area you could want to improve.
Need some ideas for helpful apps? Start with this article, published on Mashable.com, which lists eight apps to help you keep your resolutions.
3. Follow a motivational blogger (or bloggers):
(Of course, if you’re a fan of Julie’s, you probably already have this one covered!)
You probably already know that it’s much easier to stick to your goals when you’re surrounded by like-minded people. It’s why new runners are so much more successful when they find a training partner.
Why not use this same principle when it comes to your online habits? For some weekly motivation, consider following a few blogs written by people that inspire you. When you constantly expose yourself to successful habits and lifestyles, you’ll naturally begin to change your own habits as well.
4. Work at your goals for 10 minutes a day:
Often, a big goal is intimidating. Losing 100 pounds is doable, and you can find hundreds of success stories online, but it’s clearly a daunting task that takes several months, if not years. Many New Year’s Resolutions are similarly grand in scale: get out of debt, complete a marathon, etc.
Thinking about the size of your big goals can be so overwhelming, it may seem pointless to even start. Therefore, you should break it down into tiny, easily-doable goals each day. In fact, make it a goal to spend just 10 minute working toward your goal each day.
What’s the point of doing something for only 10 minutes? Will a 10-minute workout really burn off that many calories? Yes and no. The actual outcome of those 10 minutes is less important than the fact that you spent time working toward your goal. One of the biggest motivators is progress, and even 10 minutes of progress can be enough to keep you coming back the next day.
What can 10 minutes get you?
     You can find a budget template that will help you track your expenses
     You can find a training plan that will get you started on marathon training
     You can read an inspirational blog post
     You can block off time during your lunch hour to head to the gym
     You can make plans with a friend to go for a morning run
     You can find a local running club
     You can pack a healthy lunch for work the next day
Any one of these things will get you started on the right track toward your goal. And who knows … usually after those 10 minutes are up, you’ll want to keep going. If that’s the case, then definitely keep going!
5. Try “New Month’s resolutions”:
Along the same lines as Tip No. 4, it may be easier to focus on one resolution at a time. Breaking down big goals into smaller, achievable steps will make it much easier to stay motivated because it takes less time to achieve success. For a great article on how to implement “New Month’s Resolutions,” check out this piece from 50by25.com.
“[A New Month’s Resolution] ensures you have enough energy and focus to truly achieve what you set out to do; only when you’ve mastered one goal do you move onto the next in your planned stack,” the article says.
We’re already through most of February, but you’ve still got 10 more months in 2016, which means you can achieve 10 new goals! From creating and sticking to a budget, to running a mile each day, there are hundreds of 30-day changes that you can make to better your health, relationships and finances.
Telling yourself that you only have to work at a goal for 30 days is much less daunting than working at it for … forever. At the end of the month, you can look back and decide whether or not it’s worth it to keep going. If you’ve achieved any kind of success, you’ll probably say yes.

6. Don’t worry about “getting motivated”:
Finally, sometimes you just have to accept that you won’t always be pumped-up, ready-to-go, get-out-of-my-way motivated. Motivation comes and goes, but willpower stays with you all the time.
Realize that the path toward accomplishing your goal isn’t going to be straightforward. As your motivation waxes and wanes, remember that it’s all part of the process. Enjoy the parts that are easy, and tell yourself that you’re earning your success during the parts that are hard. Make the decision just to “get started,” and the motivation will come in time.

What are your favorite tips for keeping your New Year’s Resolutions?

The Power of a Conversation – Ministering to those Dealing with Miscarriage and Pregnancy Loss

I don’t often show this side of myself. Maybe I felt compelled to finally speak out because I’m tired of seeing so many women suffer in silence on the subject…Maybe because I am one of those women.

October was pregnancy loss and miscarriage awareness month. The weekend before last Thanksgiving, I discovered I was pregnant. Some people will read this and probably judge this post and say that maybe I shouldn’t write about something so personal, but let me be clear, I don’t write to relive my hurt; I write this so someone else can learn to find joy in the midst of  suffering, like I did. Don’t get me wrong. Almost a year later, I’m still a work in progress, but I’m so thankful for the friends that reached out to my husband and myself during that time.

The Reality of Emotion

Does this mean I don’t experience sadness when I think about Alex, and how old she would have been and her limitless potential? No. Does it mean I don’t experience just a hint of sadness every time a friend or family announces that they’re expecting? No. Am I still happy for them? Yes. Do I still love being around children? Yes.

What friends and family need to understand:

One of the most common misunderstandings about pregnancy loss is that others often assume the intended parents somehow experience less hurt because they maybe just found out they were expecting or hadn’t had their first ob/gyn appointment yet or maybe this was a surprise pregnancy. This simply isn’t the case. I remember crying for weeks…and weeks… and weeks… and being physically and emotionally exhausted for weeks. There is an emptiness there. A family member gave me a stuffed elephant to remember Alex….such a simple act meant so much to me, and really helped me to heal…

How you can help: 

Be a shoulder to cry on. Ask them if they’ve been back to the doctor, but allow them to open up to you. Don’t pressure them for answers, in many ways, they may be trying to sort through their emotions and thoughts.  I am so thankful for my friend, Julie, yes, I have a close friend also named Julie, who allowed me to vent…which I desperately needed…Your friend or family member may feel dysfunctional, much like I did…being in the age group where all of our friends and family were having babies…I felt like something was wrong with me. I felt the glaring awkward silence at family gatherings when yet another family member would announce that they were expecting…and I felt like the elephant in the room.

If you’re a relative, don’t ignore that this has happened, all you have to say, is “I’m saddened that this happened to you. How can I pray for you?” I’ve learned this from friends and family members and dealing with many situations. Be a listener, not a talker. Women who’ve been through a miscarriage don’t need a psychoanalyst, they need a friend. Scripture says that we are to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.

Another common misunderstanding is that the family doesn’t need to grieve at all, especially if the pregnancy loss is early term. This is a tremendous mistake. I’ll be honest… I think when I first told people, they thought I was joking. Someone told me, “you don’t seem upset.” Huge mistake. I felt like dying on the inside. Be aware that this person is coming to you in confidence, and that they need your emotional support. The most difficult thing I heard during the process was “why didn’t you tell your families…?” We were so unsure about telling our families because we didn’t want questions, we wanted to be supported.

“A person’s a person, no matter how small.” Those are wise words from Dr. Seuss. Once again listen, don’t lecture. Personally, I believe who a husband and wife chooses to tell when they’re expecting is their personal business.  Allow them to grieve and don’t deem their grieving as silly. Don’t try to psychoanalyze them, don’t ask them how their pregnancy test looked. They will open up to you, when they feel they are in a safe place. Just letting them know you’re there is the best thing you can do…because that is something, the mom will need to hear. I know I needed to hear it.

To the woman and family experiencing pregnancy loss or miscarriage:

Know that there is hope. God is the healer and mender of all things broken, including hearts. Psalm 139: 13 says, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.” Your baby’s life matters to God.

 Give yourself time to heal. Make time to process what has happened. That s
is something my husband and I didn’t do at first, and as a result, we regretted it.
I think the healing process took longer because of it.

Find an outlet to pour your heart into. Maybe it’s journaling, walking, painting, songwriting.

Talk to someone you trust to listen, and allow yourself to be emotional. Job was. David was.

Talk it out with God. I think I must’ve done this hundreds of times. Scripture says, ” For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses.” He understands the temptation to stay angry…he understands.

My hope and prayer is that someone will read this post and share it with someone who needs to hear it.

Blessings,
Julie

3 Reasons You’re Not Reaching Your Goals

We’re all human, trust me, I’m not superwoman by any stretch of the imagination. And some days, and weeks…and for some of us, months, we throw in the towel, refusing to face what is preventing us from reaching our goals, whether it’s health and fitness, or other areas of our lives. Let’s talk about 3 common obstacles, and how to overcome them. Remember, the book of James says, “To him who lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all freely and without reproach. Together, we can examine the 3 Reasons You’re not Reaching Your Goals.

Challenge #1: You don’t have time. Okay, I get it…you’re a busy mom, you have PTA, work a job, and your family gives you lots of social obligations.
Let me ask you the question, “How bad do you want to have more energy, lose weight, or feel stronger?
I believe that if a goal really matters to an individual, they will make time for it. Pack your lunch the night before. Work out during your favorite tv show. You don’t have to go to the gym for over an hour. Start out working out for just 10 minutes. Prep healthy foods while the kiddos are napping. The worst mistake that people make is that they think they have to work out for hours at a time to get results or create extravagant meals…it’s just not so.

Challenge #2: You don’t have money….I also believe that if something matters to you, then you’ll invest in it, even if it’s just $5. Cheap is not always good. Invest in a few high quality workout bands, and pay a personal trainer to teach you correct form and technique. A small investment now can save you lots of time and injury. And eating healthy, is not as expensive as you might claim.

Solution: Make your health a priority in your budget…honestly, fitness takes priority over eating out for us, and I can buy much more fruits and veggies than I can meals out with the same amount of money. Try a body-weight exercise routine at home until you save up some money. Many canned goods come with reduced sodium now. Eggs, lentils, and protein powder are great inexpensive sources of protein…and water is cheap.There are lots of ways to add veggies to meals, just chop up cucumbers and green onions and add them to salads. Make your own healthy salad dressings – we rarely buy salad dressing, maybe once or twice a year. Most importantly, make it a priority to eat healthy. Tell me, what should take priority in your families grocery budget – foods like potato chips and fried chicken tenders, or foods like, mini sweet peppers and hummus? Try one new healthy food a week. That way if you don’t like it, then you’re not wasting as much.

Reason #3: You don’t know where to begin. Knowledge is power, but make sure you’re using reliable resources. Don’t throw yourself under the squat rack….seriously. This is the easiest fix of all…but make yourself teachable – swallow your pride and ask a professional. If you wanted to add on to your house.wouldn’t you consult a professional if you didn’t have experience? You get my point.

Solution: AceFit has a great exercise library, where you can learn to perform most basic strength exercises and ranks them in order of difficulty. Book a couple of sessions with a personal trainer. They can help you learn how to set up your workouts in a way that prevents you from injuring yourself, while challenging you and giving you a specific game plan that will help you reverse engineer your goal(s). The operative word is specific. Write down your goals, break them up into little chunks, and then find a way to track your progress, whether it’s fitness printables, or an app. Make a list of resources pertinent to your specific goals, and do some research. Make yourself accountable to someone who has knowledge of this process. Changing habits isn’t easy, but the way you will look and feel is worth it.

What stops you from reaching your goals? What are some tools you’ve found along the way that worked for you and have kept you going strong? Stuck in a rut? Then find someone to be accountable to today! Reach out to me via my contact box. I’d love to help!

Julie

5 Exercises for Strong Lean Legs

Hi There! It’s been a long time since I’ve written. Busyness got the better of me.

Can you believe summer is almost over? I haven’t been outside much, since it’s been so hot here. I am excited that cooler weather is on the way though. Many women work on their legs and abs all summer and then neglect them in lieu of arms in the winter time, if you’re one of those, you should probably focus on a more well-rounded regimen. Squats and lunges and calf raises aren’t solely for aesthetics… if you want to have healthy, mobile hips and knees and ankles, then it is vital for you to strengthen this area… side effect: leaner legs and being able to jump/run/ski/walk/hike faster and longer without pain and reduced risk of injury.

The only equipment you’ll need is an exercise ball for these 5 Leg Leaning and Strengthening Exercises

Plie Squats
Who cares if you ever took a ballet class?! I love these
squats because the quads, glutes and hamstrings are involved. They’re also easier on my knees, and allow me to improve my flexibility too. For a tutorial on how to perform a basic squat, watch the video below. Use the Swiss ball between your feet to provide extra resistance.

Single-leg Calf Raises (not pictured)
 A simple exercise, but challenging to perform, these calf raises will improve your balance, and leave your calves screaming. Master regular calf raises first. Read the tutorial

Ball Hamstring Curls
These are one of my favorite leg exercises. The stabilizing action require to keep your legs on the ball will strengthen your core too. If you’re ready for a challenge, try, just try to do the single-leg modification of this exercise…I double dog dare you. Read the Tutorial

Side Lunges
These are a staple in my routine. The key is to think about the muscles being used and contract them to perform the motion, instead of relying on momentum. I’ve also learned that it’s either best to perform this exercise slowly, or explosively, with a knee lift as you bring one leg back towards the other. Read the Tutorial.


Single-leg Glute Bridges 
this is a great exercise to isolate the glutes, which support the lower back. Be sure to bring the spine to a neutral position, not arching the back in excess. It’s also one of my favorites because you don’t need a lot of space. Be sure to contract the glute of the working leg. You will also feel this in your hamstrings. Try the basic glute bridge and know it well before attempting this exercise.Read the Tutorial

Wall sits (not pictured)
This exercise almost needs no instruction. Lean with your back up against the wall. Feet about 3 feet away from the wall, as long as your knees stay behind your toes. Lower into a squat and stay there until you feel the burn big time. Make sure your back doesn’t arch away from the wall though.

Turn these exercises into a complete workout by performing 10-20 reps of an exercise then move onto the next exercise with little to no rest. Repeat for 2-3 rounds for fat-burning, or perform 3 sets of 10 – 20 reps of an exercise before moving onto the next for muscle-building emphasis. Hold wall sits from 15 seconds – 1 minute as you progress. And as always consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

What’s your favorite leg exercise? What’s your strength goal for leg day?! Comment below! 

Enjoy and let me know your progress!

Don’t Forget to Stretch! 

Julie 

Why Superfoods are Super

Oh, wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve written…the summer is halfway spent, and well, life is good but crazy. On to our topic of the day.

What are superfoods?

Superfoods are nutrient-dense foods whose nutrients benefit multiple systems of the body. Their high concentrations of a wide variety of nutrients make them extremely important for boosting the immune system, the metabolism and other systems of the body. It’s like eating a multivitamin, but tastes way better than the aftertaste pills have.

Take quinoa for example….which is one of my favorite superfoods.
Quinoa is the only plant-based source of protein that contains all eight essential amino acids. It also is a complex carbohydrate that is better for your metabolism, and prevent spikes in insulin. Long story short, this superfood meets a lot nutritional needs in one, thus the nickname.

A list of other superfoods include:

kale – Vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, and iron
pomegranates – Vitamins B6, C, and Potassium
apples – Fiber, Vitamin B6 and C, and Potassium
spinach – Vitamins A, B6, C, Iron, Magnesium, and Potassium and Vitamin K
kiwi – Vitamins C, K, Potassium,
brussel sprouts – Vitamins C, K, fiber, folate

These are just a few of the myriad of superfoods that can benefit your diet. Pomegranates are a personal favorite of mine. They have so much vitamin C and potassium, which is great for immunity and stress. Plus, they taste amazing! 
Looking for a way to get more superfoods into your diet?
 Enjoy this great salad from my Cheap, Clean Recipe Collection!

Greens or Greek Salad
 What you need:
  • 4 c. of baby kale, organic if possible
  • 4 c. mixed greens, organic if possible
  • 1/2 c balsamic vinegar 
  • 1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
  • 1.5 c. crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 c. sliced almonds
  • 1 c dried cranberries
Instructions:
Combine oil and vinegar in a container. This will be the salad dressing.  Toss all other ingredients together in a large bowl. Add dressing and toss. Enjoy!
 

For the Dudes!

It was national men’s health month! LOL I’m super late with this post, but I didn’t want to leave the dudes out.


My husband is pretty good at taking care of his health, he goes for yearly checkups and eats nutritious food and exercises. He also tries to keep up with how his overall health is doing and manage his stress levels.


I know we talk a lot about how women juggle busy schedules, but men are busy too. Need a way to keep up with health screenings and check-ups? Here’s a cool graphic to help you!

See the graphic below. Thanks to Oscar Insurance for providing this cool graphic that helps de-mystify all those yearly check-ups! They are a new type of health insurance provider in NJ and NY, moving into Cali and Texas soon, that offers many services that help their members take better control of their health, for example their Doctor on Call service. Through the Oscar app, their members can speak directly with their doctor with the Doctor on Call service with any health questions they may have, without having to make an appointment or even leave their house!

hioscar.com



Eating right and exercising is important for your health guys. It also relieves stress, and who doesn’t need to alleviate the symptoms of stress. If you need healthy lunch or dinner ideas or even workouts for when you just can’t get to the gym, check out these posts. 

5 Fat-Blasting Workouts: http://gracelaceandiron.com/2015/04/08/my-top-5-fat-blasting-workouts/

and 

Quinoa: A Recipe Round-up: http://gracelaceandiron.com/2015/03/25/quinoa-what-is-it-a-recipe-roundup/


Enjoy your day! 

Julie