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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts Review, Recipe and Giveaway

When I hear the word "hemp", the first thing that comes to mind are those rope like necklaces I used to wear in middle school when I was going through my "skater" stage.  You can imagine my reaction when I was invited to taste and review Manitoba Harvest's hemp hearts which are raw, shelled hemp seed.  I'll be honest I didn't even know you could eat hemp, let alone what it was.

For those of you, like me, who aren't familiar with this plant, hemp has many uses, including but not limited to food, paper, clothing, and fuel.  Hemp plants that are used for food are grown primarily in Western Canada.  On the top of the hemp plant a small, hard seed can be found.  Manitoba Harvest has used that seed to produce yummy items like hemp hearts, hemp protein and hemp oil.

Come to find out after some research and review of these nutritionally stacked seeds, I've been missing the boat!

Hemp hearts are high in protein, omega 3 and 6, fiber, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, thiamin and phosphorus.  Plus, they're ridiculously easy to use.  You can sprinkle them on salads, yogurts, smoothies, and cereal.

But what do they taste like?  Watch the video to catch my honest, first reaction.

I even threw a couple tablespoons of hemp hearts into my homemade granola bar recipe!  Amazingly delicious and kid approved.  I love sneaking in nutritious ingredients without my kids knowing.

Homemade Granola Bars

4 cups oats
2 tbs hemp hearts
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup chocolate pieces
1/2 cup chopped dried cherries
1/4 cup whole wheat flour 
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup coconut oil (original recipe called for canola oil the switch worked well)
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix dry ingredients together and wet ingredients together then combine until all is covered. 

Line 13x9 pan with parchment paper and press mixture into pan. 

Bake at 325 for 40-ish minutes

Now, you know I wouldn't tell you how good something is and then not share the love right?  Mantiboa Harvest has been so kind to not only offer a discount of 20% on your online orders but they also want to give one lucky reader a 2oz package of their own hemp hearts to try!  Simply use the rafflecopter below to check off your entries! *

Can't wait to see if you've won?  Head over to Manitoba Harvest's website and use code HHSweatPink14 for 20% off your order.  Offer good until November 30th.  

*USA and Canada residents only.  Please no PO Boxes.  Manitoba Harvest did supply me with the product but all opinion are my own.  

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Switch Witch: What To Do With Halloween Candy

I don't know her but I could kiss Jana S. for this poem.

Halloween candy is fun the first night, but in our house it turns in to battle after battle over how much candy, when we can have candy, can we have more candy, candy, candy, candy!

I'm so excited to use this adorable poem with my children.  They can enjoy their favorites and swap out the excess for a "even better" treat.  A trip to an indoor pool, a little toy, a date night with dad…the possibilities are endless.  Spend time day dreaming with your child what the Switch Witch might bring.  It's a great way to get ideas too!

What you do with the candy is no ones business.  Wink, wink.  Click the image below to print off your own copy!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Should You Let Your Child Lift Weights?

Ask any parent at if children should be allowed to participate in resistance training type activities and you're bound to get in a heated debate.  

It seems that people feel pretty passionately about one way or the other with the fans claiming it can help increase activity, decrease body fat, and be a great way to bond with their kids.  Critics claim weight lifting is too dangerous, can cause harm to growth plates and not safe until after puberty.  

So, what's the truth?  First, let's address if strength training is safe for children.  (For the sake of this post, I'm referring to children 7 years and older. )

Many critics suggest strength training is unsafe for children due to potential damage that can occur to growth plates.  Turns out, that's a myth.  Over the years many studies, like this one, have researched this exact topic and according to the American Academy of Pediatrics Online, "In general, training with weights has been found to help increase strength in children without negative effects on things such as bone growth or blood pressure. "

In fact, in a "Tween and Teen" article, Mayo Clinic encourages adding strength training into your child's exercise repertoire because when done properly, strength training can:
  • Increase your child's muscle strength and endurance
  • Help protect your child's muscles and joints from sports-related injuries
  • Improve your child's performance in nearly any sport, from dancing and figure skating to football and soccer
  • Strengthen your child's bones
  • Help promote healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Help your child maintain a healthy weight
  • Improve your child's confidence and self-esteem
While this is all great news if you and your kid are itching to get lifting, there are a few items left to consider before you head to the weight room:

Injuries do happen:  While the argument about damage to growth plates has long since been debunked, strength training still has risk involved.  Whether you're in a home gym, fitness center or group class make sure your child is always under proper supervision.  Grown adults who know the proper mechanics of strength training still get hurt, and beyond that accidents happen.  Don't leave your child unsupervised.  

Children are not mini adults: With shorter attention spans, poor spatial awareness, balance and postural control, and lack of knowledge, children should not be treated like miniature adults. They're children.  Giving them complex movements with a list of details to remember, sets, repetitions, weight formulations, and timed sequences may be a bit overwhelming.  Start with body weight or extremely light weight exercises and keep the focus on proper form.  

Strength training is different bodybuilding or powerlifting: There is a distinct difference between those three disciplines.  Most children have success with strength training when the workload consists of lighter weight and higher repetitions.  However, if you and your child want to try your hand at something more specialized I'd highly suggest you do so under the proper supervision of a professional who has experience with training children.  

So back to the initial question, should you let your children lift weights?  All things considered, if you AND your child have an interest, arm yourself with the required knowledge (or hire a professional to help you both), devote the time and give it a go!  

Your turn:  Would you/Do you let allow your child to participate in strength training activities ?  

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Kettlebell Ladder Workout

This is one of my favorite kettlebell workouts for beginners and veterans alike.  With increments of low reps for each move, participants are able to execute each move with proper form without too much fatigue.  It's also a great way to help ingrain the movement patterns of a squat and a deadlift.  Although they have many similarities, they are two very different moves.

Remember, regardless of your experience, please move through this workout at your own pace, resting as needed.  If at any time you feel your form start to break down, stop, rest and reset.

For total beginners, try moving through this workout for ten minutes.

For a review on proper kettlebell swing technique, check out my "how to" post here!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

How To: The Turkish Get-Up

It never fails, every time I practice Turkish get-ups in the gym, someone always gives me a, "what in the hell are you doing?" look.

To the unfamiliar eye, a Turkish get-up or TGU can look a little awkward, but when done correctly, this functional, full body movement has many benefits.  As Brandon Hetzler from Strong First points out, the long list of perks include:
  • Promotes cross lateralization (getting right brain to work with left side)
  • Promotes upper body stability
  • Promotes lower body stability
  • Promotes reflexive stability of the trunk and extremities
  • Ties the right arm to the left leg, and left arm to the right leg
  • Gets the upper extremities working reciprocally (legs too)
  • Stimulates the vestibular system (1 of the 3 senses that contribute to balance)
  • Stimulates the visual system (the second of 3 senses that contribute to balance)
  • Stimulates the proprioception system (3rd oft he 3 systems that contribute to balance)
  • Promotes spatial awareness
  • Develops a front/back weight shift
  • Develops upper body strength, trunks strength, and hip strength
That's a pretty impressive list of benefits for just one movement but it's not easily executed.  

While there are a few different styles of TGUs and a spectrum of ways as how how to include them into your routine (including but not limited to: assessment, warm-up, corrective work, strength gains focused,  finishers, etc) I'd encourage you to master a body weight or light weight dumbbell/kettlebell before progression to more advanced versions like heavier kettelebells or barbells.  

I've broken the Turkish Get-up into 7 segments as follows: 

  1. Lay face up, on the ground.  Rolling over to grab the kettlebell, push it up so it's directly above your right shoulder.  Bring your right knee up so your foot is flat on the ground.  Place your left arm and leg at about 45 degrees out away from your body.  
  2. Pushing through the heel of your right leg and left arm raise up to your elbow.  Be sure to keep the kettlebell (or fist if your practicing with body weight only) directly above your shoulder with your eyes on it the entire movement.  
  3. From the elbow, press up onto your palm
  4. Press your hips to the ceiling in to a three point bridge. Keep the kettlebell in line with your shoulder and wrist.  
  5. Swing your left leg back though behind you, and place your knee on the floor
  6. Press up off your left hand into a half kneeling position
  7. Again, keeping the KB directly above your wrist and shoulder, come to standing.  
  8. To finish the movement, follow the steps back through in reverse order.
Important tips to remember: 
  • Begin with a body weight get-up first.  If it help to replicate the proper positioning of a weight, place a shoe on top of your knuckles and try to keep it in place the entire movement.  
  • Keep your shudders packed (shoulders down, away from your ears, and shoulder blade flat)
  • Keep your wrist in a nice straight line with your knuckles.  (see photo below)
  • If your struggling, don't get frustrated.  This is a complex, difficult move to perform correctly.  Spend a 5-10 minutes practicing 3-4 times a week and you'll see improvement.  

Proper wrist position for a Turkish get-up
Your turn:  Have you tried a Turkish get-up?  

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Open For Business

I whole heartedly believe that lifting weights has the ability to help women find inner and outer strength, feel confident, feel empowered and beyond that, a girl who lifts is pretty bad ass.  And who doesn't want to be bad ass?

Next to my family, there's nothing I'm more passionate about than helping women feel comfortable in their own skin AND in weight room.  In my opinion, the two go hand and hand.  The confidence that can come from lifting naturally seems to spill over into other areas of life, which will leave you a force to be reckoned with.  

You don't have to look far to discover the many benefits of including strength training in your workout routine but with all the information (and misinformation) out there, it can be overwhelming to get started on your own. 

That's what I'm here for!

For many months now I've been trying to figure out a way to help more women get started on the right foot lifting weights without spending every night in the gym training clients in person.  Enter ONLINE TRAINING! Why it took me so long to think of this…I don't know, but I'm super stoked to offer an online training option to women who are looking for…..
  • Personalized workout/training plans 
  • Video form checks as needed
  • Accountability and support via email, text, phone calls, etc (which ever way works best for you)
Would I love to work with you in person?  Absolutely!  But the reality is, not everyone belongs to my gym, not everyone lives in the area, not everyone wants/needs in depth attention that comes with personal training and finally, not everyone can afford multiple personal training sessions.  Nonetheless, 
I want to help.  I want you to succeed.  I want you to reach your goals. 

Each online training package will be tailored to meet your needs and schedule, and there are no minimum ability requirements.  I'm happy to work with you whether you can do 20 push-ups or none at all.  

I'll be honest, because I'm new to online training and I promise to give my undivided attention to tailoring workouts that suit you, answer questions and providing unlimited amount of support, I'm limiting my online training to five women (for now).  If you're interested or have additional questions please don't hesitate to contact me via email or through my Facebook page for details on pricing.



Thursday, October 2, 2014

Building Confidence in the Weight Room

I have to brag for a minute about a few gym friends of mine.  This group of ladies approached me about getting started with weight training.  These women were no strangers to the gym as most of them attend multiple group classes a day.

They all have a great workout routine already but when it came to weight training they were a little unsure of where to start.  I offered a few suggestions and I'm happy to report that a few of them are enjoying the New Rules for Lifting for Women training program!  Ok, happy is a total understatement.  I'm truly giddy for them.

They're off to a great start but ironically enough these women all had the same thing to say about it….they all wanted to get more confident in the weight room.

They aren't alone.  I hear this from a lot of women.  The weight room can be an intimidating place.  There may be equipment you're not familiar with,  people who look to be serious lifters, you're probably out in the open for people to watch your form, no teacher to tell you what to do…. I get it.  I totally get it.  If you put me on a stair mill I'd feel the same way.

So what do a lot of women do instead?  As I mentioned on Facebook, it looks like to me that they gather a few pieces of equipment and set up shop in a small corner of the gym to complete their strength routine.

Quite a lot of you commented that you too experienced some anxiety in the weight room, completed your workouts in a designated women's area and/or felt intimidated and a few of you noted that at least women in the corner are doing a strength workout.

It's understandable that women feel like this.  I too felt anxious stepping foot into 22nd Street Barbell despite pervious lifting experience.  Here's the thing though….in my opinion the corner isn't good enough.  Sure the corner workout stuff can be a stepping stone to ease into the real deal but it shouldn't be your final destination.  I know you're probably thinking, "What do you care where I do my workout, Annie?  Get off my back" right?

Honestly, I'm not here to make anyone feel bad if you're cozy in the corner.  I want to encourage you because you're capable of more than a corner workout.  Everyone is.  Here is what I see typically happen….If you limit yourself to the corner (or whatever isolated part of the gym you're in) there's a chance that you're also going to limit yourself to the same equipment and movements week after week.  You also might be too nervous to grab heavier dumbbells, too anxious to try pull-ups (or modified pull-ups), and too self conscious to learn proper form for a barbell squat.  So instead, you stay safe in your corner, in your comfort zone.  Eight weeks go by, you finish your strength training program and figure that's all there is- totally missing out on exploring your true potential.  To me, it's like saying you been Chicago when you really just had a layover at O'Hare.  It's not quite the same experience.

There is no denying the fact that some of you may be able to get a killer workout in your corner sanctuary, experience some strength gains and I completely understand that not everyone is as interested in lifting as I am but if you want to take your lifting to the next level you have to get out of the corner. By staying in the corner you're robbing yourself of the powerful experience that comes with conquering the weight room.  To me, the corner symbolizes lack of confidence, and I don't want anyone stuck there forever!  It's not just about physical strength gains.  It's also about gaining the confidence that you can walking to a room, do your thang and not give two shits what anyone else is thinking.  And that type of confidence doesn't stop when you leave the gym.  I promise you it will spill over into all areas of your life.  Of course if you're happy with the results you get in the corner, stay there.  Otherwise, I don't want any of you to miss out on that.  I really, really don't.  And THAT's why I care.

While I could give you a list of ways to ease into lifting in the weight room like...
  • Ask gym staff for times of day it's less crowded
  • Ask a friend who has experience lifting to go with you
  • Hire a personal trainer to take you through workouts in the weight room
  • Research how to execute any moves in your workout ahead of time
…but the best way to build confidence in the weight room is … spend time in there.  

Pretty scientific right?  I know it's not a magical cure but it works.  The truth is you just gotta get in there and start.  Feeling at home in the weight room won't happen over night but with each workout you complete you'll feel a little bit more confident.  If it helps, pick one, just ONE exercise you know you can do well and do it in the "real weight room".  The next time, pick two exercises.  Keep adding until you're comfortable.

Finally, I think it's important to note that some of those meat head looking dudes you might find intimidating may actually have something of value to offer you weather it be a form tip, a new move or a spot during a heavy lift.  Some of them might have big muscles and tattoos but they're not all assholes.  In fact, I've gained a ton of lifting knowledge just from listening and watching to those tatted up, buff dudes.

Your turn:  Have you ever felt uncomfortable in the weight room?  
If so, how did you build confidence?