Archive for January 2012
Here are a few of my favorite Lower Body exercises that I can do at home with only a towel or mat, dumbbells, balance ball and bands.
1. Wall Squats with Dumbbells and Ball
Place ball between lower to mid back and wall. Keep your spine in a neutral position. Spread feet shoulder width apart and make sure toes are pointed forward. Grasp dumbbells, palms facing in, at your sides.
INHALE: Slowly (about 3 seconds) bend knees to 90 degrees. Hold for 1-3 counts here.
EXHALE: Slowly straighten legs and return to starting position, making sure to keep knees bent slightly, to complete one rep.
Muscles Worked: Quads, Glutes, Hamstrings
2. Standing Hip Abduction with Band
Grab each handle and place feet on band, hip-width apart, toes forward. Stand tall with back straight, abs engaged, legs straight and arms at your sides. Shift your weight onto left leg, keeping knee soft.
EXHALE: Push right leg out against the resistance band using the other thigh.
INHALE: Slowly return leg towards the midline of the body to complete one rep.
Stay balanced and finish set on this side before switching sides.
Muscles Worked: Outer thighs
3. Standing Hip Adduction with Band
Make a loop at one end of the band and place it around your left ankle. Hold the other handle in your right hand. Stand with your right foot on the band with back straight, abs engaged, right hand on hips and knees soft. Lift your left leg off the floor just slightly, foot flexed.
EXHALE: Keeping both legs straight, use the inner thigh to pull the left leg towards the midline of your body.
INHALE: Slowly return left leg to the side, returning to the start position to complete one rep.
Finish set on this leg and then switch sides.
Muscles Worked: Inner thighs
4. Single Leg Hamstring Extension with Ball
Begin this exercise by lying on your back with a Swiss ball under your right or left heel. Your opposite foot should be off to the side of the Swiss ball and off the ground at approximately the same height as the foot on the Swiss ball. Place your arms straight out to your side for support.
Lift your hips so that you create a straight line with your body. Do not use your arms at any point. Take the leg on the ball and bring the ball in towards your body using your heels. Keep your opposite leg straight, slightly higher than the ball. Reverse the movement and lower your hips back to the ground. Trying doing 2 sets with 10-12 repetitions for each leg.
Muscles Worked: Hamstrings, Glutes
5. Bridges on Ball
Begin seated on the ball. Walk your feet out while lying back until your mid-upper back is on the ball while your feet are flat, knees bent. Without moving legs, roll the ball forward so that your hips and butt drop toward the floor.
EXHALE: Using your glutes to pull you, roll the ball back as your hips rise up until your torso is in a straight line, parallel to the floor.
INHALE: Slowly lower down to start to complete one rep.
Muscles Worked: Glutes, Hamstrings
6. Dumbbell Squats
INHALE: Arch back slightly, squat down as if sitting back into a chair until thighs are parallel to the floor.
EXHALE: Straighten legs to the starting position.
Muscles Worked: Quads, Glutes, Hamstrings
7. Laying Double Leg Rises
EXHALE: Keeping legs squeezed together, lift both legs simultaneously up into the air. Hold for 1-2 counts here. Be sure that feet are flexed and toes point forward.
INHALE: Lower to start without letting bottom leg touch ground to rest to complete one rep.
Switch sides and repeat to complete one set.
Muscles Worked: Inner thigh, Outer thigh, Hips, Obliques
8. Forward Lunge with Dumbbell Press
Step forward with one leg and lower your body to 90 degrees at both knees. Don’t step out too far. There should be 2 to 2.5 feet between your feet. Keep your weight on your heels. Don’t allow your knees to cross the plane of your toes. At the same time, lower the dumbbells down to the sides of the front foot, creating a flat back and keeping your core strong. Push off with the front foot and return to the starting position. Try doing 2 sets with 10-12 repetitions.
Muscles Worked: Quads, Glutes, Shoulders
9. Single Leg Bridge-Ups
EXHALE: Squeeze glutes and lift hips, keeping them level.
INHALE: Slowly lower to starting position to complete one rep.
Complete all reps and switch sides.
Muscles Worked: Hamstrings, Glutes, Calves, Lower back, Quads
10. Calf Raises with Wall
Raise up on balls of feet, and hold for 2 seconds, Return to start position and repeat.
Muscles Worked: Calves
There are many more lower body exercises out there, but these are some of the ones I use the most. I hope this is helpful! Next week: Upper Body!
This blog post is for those of you who don’t know what Zumba is and are wondering what the heck I’m getting myself into. Or for those that have heard of Zumba and are interested in learning more, and maybe getting involved. Even for those who just randomly found my post and find yourself reading these lines.
I can give you the official definition of what Zumba Fitness is:
Zumba Fitness® is the only Latin-inspired dance-fitness program that blends red-hot international music, created by Grammy Award-winning producers, and contagious steps to form a “fitness-party” that is downright addictive.
Since its inception in 2001, the Zumba program has grown to become the world’s largest – and most successful – dance-fitness program with more than 12 million people of all shapes, sizes and ages taking weekly Zumba classes in over 110,000 locations across more than 125 countries.
To me, that sounds like any other infomercial trying to sell some silly fitness apparatus that is going to make my stomach so flat that I will be able to do my ironing on it, and honestly, if it was for that advertising, I would have never tried it.
I was lucky enough to be introduced to Zumba through my friend Krista. I had never heard of it, I just randomly found myself at a class, and I loved it!
I feel like Zumba is way more than just a “dance workout”. Every instructor makes it his/her own and going to different classes can be a completely different experience; with some instructors you will dance to different Latin styles while others enjoy choreographing to fast-paced hip-hop music.
I haven’t been to a master class by one of those award-winning producers, but I have been to two classes by two different instructors here in Kentucky, I do the Zumba Fitness Wii workout a few times a week, and I have watched videos of many instructors online. All the routines are always great, fun, easy to learn and I always end up sweating like crazy, which means I am getting some serious cardio (I barely ever sweat).
But the greatest thing about Zumba is that nobody is there to judge you. Sure there is always the sexy Barbie dancing in the first row and making everybody else feel silly, but no matter how old you are, what music you like or what your fitness level is, there is always a Zumba class that will be good for you.
I believe that these are some of the reasons why I have decided to get certified as a Zumba instructor. I do want to join the party. I want to have fun while helping people get fit by having fun.
Check out the video below. It is one of the greatest I have found on Youtube, and though I know that I am far from dancing like that or looking that great, I think that I may be able to become a good instructor.
So here is me reusing a post from my Wedding Planning blog. If there is one thing that I made for my wedding that I think I might be doing in the future, that is the card stock flowers. They are very easy to make and can be used to decorate any space. They are also cheap to make, which I think is always a good thing.
Step 1: Cut one of the card stock sheets in 6 squares or 4, depending on how big you want the flowers.
Step 2: Draw a spiral on your square of paper and cut out the spiral along the lines you have drawn.
Step 4: Keep on rolling until there’s no more left to roll, then put a dab of hot glue to keep the flower from unrolling and loosening up with time.
Step 6: Place your flowers in a nice vase, and enjoy these flowers that will never die!!
That’s it!! I made this many flowers in just a few hours, and only using 3 sheets of card stock, so it is very easy, fast, and you don’t need too much material to make a ton of flowers!!!!
I have many flaws; both as a wife and as a person. But one that is probably one of the ones that affects my husband the most (because he is one of the only people I see all day) is my random complaining. I don’t think I’m a complainer, but I when having a bad day, I will find every single thing that is wrong with everything and everyone. Hey, the first step is to admit it, isn’t it?
That’s why I want to take the time right now to be thankful. I want to type it down so I can come back to this post when I’m having one of those “what is wrong with everybody” kind of days.
My husband might be kind of messy and not very helpful around the house, but he has so many other amazing attributes that I think I need to remind myself of that. I’m going to go with the four things that Brandon does that I am most thankful for (at least today) because I don’t want this post to take all day.
First of all, he’s amazing. No need to write down why or how I know that. He’s my husband, of course I think he’s amazing.
Secondly, he always supports me. I have been all over the place since I moved to Kentucky (basically because I am trying to find myself in this new life without figure skating and away from my family) and even when I have made wild and silly decisions, he has never judged me. He always tries to reason with me and make me see both sides of the situation, but whatever I decide in the end, he is always there for me.
Third; He has taught me how to overcome stupid fears and face life with an open mind and positive attitude. He has helped me understand how life can be simple and amazing at the same time, and that what your life becomes, is only up to you; it doesn’t matter what limitations you have, the only real limitations are the ones you create in your mind.
And last, I need to thank my husband for eating the food I cook ever day. As I have mentioned before, I am not the best cook out there, and even though I try to be creative and try new healthy recipes every week, sometimes I fail. I can tell how bad it tastes, or how burnt it is… Brandon will just sit at the table, eat, and say: “Thanks, hun!” He will give constructive criticism if I ask for it (he is a way better cook than me) but will never ditch my horribly cooked meal and get himself something else.
There are so many other things that I need to thank him for! Like how great he is at helping me not work myself up about stupid things; how we can joke about anything together, make fun of each other and never get upset about it; how he used to drive for 4 hours for me to go coach figure skating for one.
Thank you, Brandon for always being here for me and supporting me. Thank you for listening to me, letting me vent when I need to (and when I don’t) and helping me become who I am.
Well, Tuesday posts are going to be pretty random. I know many people won’t really care about my Top Ten “whatevers” but I will post them anyways because this is my blog and that is what I feel like posting .
If there is something that I believe helps my motivation to workout, is definitely music. It doesn’t matter if I am running, walking or doing a Pilates DVD, I always have my tunes. The only problem is that sometimes I really feel like singing, and then I get out of breath. But oh well, no big deal, breathing isn’t that important, is it…?
Anyways, here are the top ten songs that I use to workout. Some of them are kind of rough and have a lot of swear words, but honestly, when I’m working out, I am basically listening to the beat, not the words. Just in case, I will post it next to the song if they have swear words, so if somebody wants them and doesn’t like that kind of language they can find a “clean” version to download.
These songs are posted in no particular order.
1. Black Eyed Peas – Anxiety (Explicit): Good mid-tempo song. They sound pretty angry, I guess that motivates me sometimes…
2. Beyoncé – Run The World: It has such a great beat! Quite upbeat and energizing.
3. Missy Elliott – Lose Control (Explicit): I know her lyrics are FULL of swear words, but her beats are, well, probably the best.
4. Maroon 5 ft. Christina Aguilera – Moves Like Jagger : I mean, who doesn’t love this song… Maybe a little overplayed right now, but I still love its happy beat!
5. Pussycat Dolls – Don’t Cha: An old song that may increase your heart rate and your ego.
6. Shakira ft. Pitbull – Rabiosa (Spanish): Fantastic Latin rhythm with a good beat.
7. Alicia Keys ft. Jay Z – Empire State of Mind: A classic. mid-tempo, but so good!
8.Timbaland ft. Justin Timberlake – Carry Out: Questionable lyrics, great beat.
9. Outkast – Hey Ya: An oldie that to me, will never get old and will always be in my running playlist.
10. Rihanna – Please Don’t Stop the Music: Maybe one of the only Rihanna songs I like. She was still a normal human being back then singing about normal things…
I obviously use many more songs than the ten listed here, and when I find new music I like, I tend to rotate songs so I don’t get sick of a particular tune. If you need more song ideas, check out Jog.fm by clicking here. They help you find songs based on your walking/running speed, pretty awesome, huh?
Anyways, if there are any songs that you think I might want to add to my playlist, please let me know; I am always searching for new stuff!
I know, I know. Last week’s recipe was also a lemon “something”. I love lemons, and I always have tons around my kitchen, so it’s easy for me to find excuses to cook with them.
Last week we were having some friends over for dinner, and I decided to try making lemon bars. I also thought I t would be a good idea to take pictures while I cooked, just in case something funny happened. I am happy to report that I followed the directions and my lemon bars came out pretty delicious. My friends love them and there were none left by the end of the evening!
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
4 large eggs
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed and strained (about 5 lemons)
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line 9×9-inch baking pan with aluminum foil.
2. Make the crust. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest. Cut butter into chunks and add to flour mixture. Blend in with an electric mixer at low speed until mixture forms coarse, sandy crumbs. Pour into pan and press mixture down (with your fingers or the back of a spoon) into an even layer.
3. Bake for 16-19 minutes, until just lightly browned around the edges.
5. When the crust comes out of the oven and is still hot, pour in filling mixture.
6. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until filling is set and does not jiggle when the pan is gently shaken.
7. Cool completely before slicing.
8. Top slices with confectioners’ sugar to serve.
- Servings Per Recipe: 24
- Calories: 131.0
- Total Fat: 5.1 g
- Cholesterol: 42.3 mg
- Sodium: 43.7 mg
- Total Carbs: 20.2 g
- Dietary Fiber: 0.3 g
- Protein: 1.9 g
I hope you like these as much as me and my friends did! Feel free to post if you have any questions
For me, having a home gym is a blessing. I live in the country, some 10 miles away from town, and I don’t drive at the moment, so even if I were able to afford it, joining a gym is not an option for me right now. Instead, I decided to create a small home gym. Now you will think that I live in a huge house and I have a spare room, but that could not be further from the truth; my husband and I live in a trailer with two bedrooms and a small room that I have turned into my office. I don’t have any big workout machines, treadmills, etc, but what I do have is a lot of nature outside and a few basic fitness allies that serve me as a gym.
There are many advantages to having a home gym; one is obviously the fact that you can workout when you are home and have spare time, and you won’t need to travel anywhere. Also, if you are not trying to buy every single workout gadget that is out there, it is a very affordable option, which in this economy sounds quite good.
Each person, depending on their finances, the space they have, where they live, etc, will need or be able to get different things, but if what you want are the basics that will allow you to work out at home without having to go to the gym or break the bank, here is a list of the things I have found are more necessary to get your home gym started.
SET OF DUMBBELLS ($5-$40 depending on weight)
When buying a set that is appropriate for you, you must test them; they have to be light enough for you to be able to do around 12 repetitions without stopping, but heavy enough to where the last few repetitions are a bit strenuous. When that weight becomes too easy to lift with, it might be time to buy a heavier set.
If you don’t want to buy dumbbell sets regularly, you can always get adjustable ones; they are more expensive, but you can change the weight in them. I personally like the fixed weight ones that are coated in neoprene, since they don’t hurt your hands as bad.
Resistance Bands or Tubes ($10-$30)
I am a big fan of resistance bands because everyone from beginners to conditioned athletes can benefit from them. Resistance bands can add challenge and variety to any workout program, and they come in a convenient and affordable little package.
The most stretchable bands have lighter resistance than the harder-to-stretch ones that offer heavier resistance. This, along with body position, allows you to customize the level of resistance to fit your strength level. You control the tension by shortening or lengthening the band.
You can work every muscle in your body by using resistance bands. Moreover, you can easily use them anywhere. They’re lightweight and take up hardly any space, making them easy to store at home, or take anywhere if needed.
Stability Ball ($10-$20)
Just as resistance bands, stability balls are very versatile. They can be used for strength training, Yoga, Pilates, stretching, or even as an office chair if you want to improve your balance and work your core. They take up a bit more space, but I think they are worth it.
Stability balls come in three standard sizes; 55cm, 65cm and 75cm. To choose which one is right for you, all you need to know is your height; for 5’5” or shorter, you’ll need the smallest one, if you’re in between 5’5” and 5’11” what you want is the 65cm ball, and if you are 6’ tall or taller, you will go for the 75cm one.
It is important to get the right size because if your stability ball is too small, your core center is not as active as it should be and you will have the tendency to lean forward if lifting weights while sitting on the ball. If you are positioned too high, then you are working at a much more unstable position.
Workout DVD’s ($5-$20)
Having a few assorted workout DVD’s can be a good way to switch up your workout routine. It is important to find out what type of exercises you like the best, and try to find some good DVD’s that you know you will want to use a couple of times a week.
Workout DVD’s usually come with different lengths of workouts, different intensities and a variety of exercises for different levels, so I feel like they are a tool that can be used for a long time and in many different ways.
My workout DVD collection is currently pretty small, but they are varied and that is what I like about them. I have a Yoga DVD, a Pilates DVD and a Zumba DVD. Yoga helps you build strength and flexibility, Pilates is all about the core and strength training, and Zumba is a fun way to burn calories when the weather doesn’t allow for me to go outside and run.
Yoga Mat ($10-$20)
Okay, having a yoga mat might not be as basic, since using a folded towel can work just as good, but they are MADE for exercise, so unlike a towel, they won’t slide around while you’re trying to stretch and they won’t pick up all the dirt from your floor.
Yoga mats are great not only for yoga, but for any type of exercise that requires you to lay on the floor. It is a lot more comfortable to do crunches on a soft surface than putting your back against the cold hard wooden floors.
They are easy to clean, take up little space, and you can use them for almost any workout. I believe they are worth having.
Jump Rope ($5-$10)
I don’t use mine as much during the winter since I rather not break anything in my house so I usually jump rope outside, but it is certainly a great workout. It is a fantastic way to do some interval training, and my favorite way to do it is by playing some tunes at the same time.
Now that you know what to buy, make sure you have enough space for your gym. If you can’t dedicate a room to exercising, set aside a corner of the basement or home office. Choose a room with a high ceiling, and a sturdy, clean floor. Make sure you’ve got good lighting and ventilation (possibly with a fan).
There is no need to buy all of it at the same time, just evaluate and first buy those items that you think are more versatile and that you will be using the most. Slowly, as you discover your body and the ways you like to exercise, you will be able to make smarter decisions on what you need for your home gym.
I hope this post helps, and feel free to comment or contact me with any extra information or questions!
I hate cleaning the microwave, I’m not going to lie. I feel like every time I clean it, I put something in it to cook, and it explodes all over. So then I have to clean it again. And to be honest, sometimes I don’t feel like it, so then it dries out, and when I actually decide to clean it, it’s pretty much impossible and it takes way longer than it would have if I hadn’t procrastinated.
Either way, I just found a way to clean out my microwave easily. Rather than using strong chemical cleaners, try this:
1. Add lemon rinds to a microwave-safe bowl filled halfway with water.
2. Cook on high for 5 minutes, allowing the water to boil and the steam to condense on the walls and tops of the oven.
3. Carefully remove the hot bowl and wipe away the mess with a towel.
That is basically all you need to do! Isn’t that a lot easier than scrubbing for hours? I think it is. I hope this is helpful!
Log onto my Simple Blog for more thrifty ideas next Thursday. Thanks for reading!
Today my husband turns 31 years old. It is a day to celebrate, though he is not one for much celebration. We are going to go to his parents house and eat some delicious Lasagna made by his mom, and enjoy some family time.
Since this is the first birthday that I get to spend with him at home, and since I have also become a bit obsessed with learning how to cook and bake, my mission for the day (besides from treating Brandon like a king) is to bake a delicious cake for tonight’s celebration! I am planning on making a Sachertorte, since it is one of my favorite cakes, but with my lack of baking experience, we will see what happens. Keep an eye for an upcoming Salt & Pepper Saturday post with illustrations of my hopefully successful chocolate cake.
But back to the subject matter; today is my husband’s birthday. And even if he doesn’t like to celebrate, I do. I am one of those people that loves getting presents for other people. If I see something that I KNOW that certain person is going to love, I like to buy it for them and save it until Christmas, their birthday, or I will just give it to them just because.
But this year I think I have failed. I had never been in Kentucky for Christmas, and I usually got to see Brandon around his birthday, so I would get him a couple of presents and give them to him whenever he came to visit.
This year, since I was home and I got sooooo excited because I got to spend Christmas with the family, I put all my amazing gift ideas for Brandon together, and bought him a thousand Christmas presents. They were nothing big or expensive, they were just a compilation of things that I knew he needed, things that he wanted, and a couple of things that I knew would make him laugh.
Right after Christmas I realized that his birthday was barely a month away. And that all my brilliant ideas had already been gifted. I panicked for a minute, and then I thanked the Lord for having given me a husband that does not care about presents.
I ended up finding a couple of things that I know he will like, but I must admit I am disappointed with myself for my lack of planning. I know that this is not that big of a deal, that Brandon doesn’t care if he gets one present, a thousand, or none at all as long as he gets to eat his mom’s Lasagna, but this is our first birthday celebration as a married couple and I wanted it to be special.
So here I am, with some crappy last minute gifts and the hopes that I will bake the best Sachertarte in the history of baking so I can feel like I tried hard enough to make Brandon’s birthday, a great one.
With all this said, I am logging off and getting ready to spend a memorable day with the man I love. Happy Birthday, Husband.
Today, for my Salt & Pepper Saturday, I am going to show you one of the easiest cheesecake recipes ever. I mean, if I can do it, anybody can. I am a pretty bad cook (but I’m slowly improving!).
It tastes delicious so I make it quite often, and it lasts in the refrigerator for a very short time; I believe my husband secretly eats it all…
8oz of Cream Cheese
8oz of Whip Cream
3oz of Lemon Jello
1 (9″) Graham Cracker Crust
1. Combine first three ingredients and mix with blender until clumps are minimal
2. Scoop onto pie shell
3. Add lemon rind for decoration (if desired)
4. Let cool one hour in refrigerator. Give it a try and let me know what you think!
- Servings Per Recipe: 8
- Calories: 250.0
- Total Fat: 16.1 g
- Cholesterol: 38.3 mg
- Sodium: 347.3 mg
- Total Carbs: 20.7 g
- Dietary Fiber: 0.4 g
- Protein: 7.0 g