Don't be left out!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Strong For Life

It's no secret that I love strength training.  And, while pumping some iron is easily one of my favorite past-times and could go on and on about the list of benefits-both physical and emotional- that come along with lifting weights, I realize not everyone wants to/needs to test their strength or striving to be a powerlifter.

Nonetheless there is no denying that the benefits of strength training, even at moderate levels, can spill over into everyday life often.    So you don't want to be a strongman?  Totally cool!  But wouldn't it be nice to be able to perform a variety of movements and tasks in life with strength and confidence and without injury or help? Simply put, strength training makes everything easier.

Sure bragging about deadlifting 300 pounds may sound cooler than, "I carried a bag of ice melt.".  I mean who puts up photos on social media bragging about how many grocery bags they can carry in?  Really, who does that?  Wink, wink.

All kidding aside, as much as I'd love to keep increasing my strength in the deadlift, I also want to be strong for life.  I want to be able to carry my kids when they're too tired to walk, shovel my own driveway, put my own luggage in the car and so much more.  I'm in this life for the long haul and at the risk of tooting my own horn, I came up with 20 ways strength training has made my everyday life easier and strong for life.  

See example #2.  This is light weight---anyone have anymore bags I can carry? :)

1.  Carrying big bags of pet food, garden soil, or ice melt is no issue.

2.  I can bring everything in from the grocery store in one trip, regardless of how many bags there are.

3.  I can trek a toddler and kindergartner up and down stairs when they both want to be carried…at the same time.

4.  I can mow the lawn with ease…without using the self propel feature.

5.  I can carry a toddler and a trike back to the car when my kid decides he's too tired to bike the rest of the way home.

6.  When the FedEx guy offers to carry a large package into the house for me, I can politely decline and carry that sucker in like a boss.

7. I can lift one side of the couch high enough to search for missing toys just to avoid a meltdown.

8.  Loading heavy luggage into the car is not just a job for my husband.

9.  I'm happy to change the water cooler jug.

10.  I can move most furniture myself to vacuum under it…if I wanted to.  Not that I actually do that.

11.  Helping a friend push a stalled car to the side of the road is something I actually find fun.

12.  Climbing the stairs 25 times in one night while trying to teach my little boy to sleep in his big boy bed doesn't phase me.

13.  When I want to go canoeing, I can pull a canoe from a rack without help.  It's a little awkward, but I can do it.

14.  I often find myself asking myself if random people needed to be pulled from a burning car, could I do it?  The answer is typically "yes".

15.  I can swing a baby carrier with smooth rhythm to calm a crying baby…without throwing out my back.

16.  My strong legs can help me sprint along side my five-year-old while teaching her to ride a bike.

17.  I can demonstrate how to do the monkey bars instead of pointing and telling.

18.  Helping our old, 175 pound, English Mastiff into the car for vet check-ups isn't exactly fun, but I can do it.

19.  I can pull myself out of the water easily when my not-yet-ready-for-deep-water-but-refuses-to-wear-a-life-jacket son takes off spiriting for the deep end.

20.  I can pick up a 40lb, tantrum throwing, screaming toddler up off the ground in Target, while wearing a 15lb diaper bag on my back, holding an Americano and not spill a drop, hurt myself or my child.  ;o)

Your turn:  How has lifting weights made you strong for life?  I'd love to see pictures hear stories about how weights have changed your life.  Tag me of Facebook, InstaGram, #StrongForLife

Friday, July 25, 2014

3 Tips To Make Lunch Hour Workouts A Success

While it may not be your first pick, working out over lunch is growing in popularity.  Many companies today, are including gyms on site or free/reduced memberships to near by fitness studios because they know regular exercise means improved health for their employees.  For you it can mean a chance to de-stress, get away from work and sneak in a little activity.  

For my husband, working out over his lunch hour has been a saving grace for him and really...our entire family.  To John (my hubby), it comes down to the lesser of three evils- get up early to workout and sacrifice sleep, go to the gym after work and sacrifice family time or workout over lunch.  

My powerlifting friend Laurel has some experience in this department, "I work out over my lunch break 4 to 5 times a week and have been for 5yrs now." Laurel told me.  "I had tried to work out after work for a year after my son was born but felt like I was missing out on even more time with him. I was willing to sacrifice the occasional lunch with friends and time away from my desk to sit in a lunchroom." Yes that means for people like Laurel and my husband they eat their lunch at their desk, while working. It may not be as fun as a lunch out with friends but it can be done.  

I realize there are schedules and situations that aren't conducive to working out on your lunch hour but before you poo poo this potential solution entirely check out the tips Laurel shared with me that helped her get into her lunch time workout groove.  

Put it on your work calendar.  Laurel encourages you to write it down just like you would a meeting.  If you have an electronic calendar that co-workers can view block out your time (if applicable) online as well to avoid potential conflicts.  

If you need extra time, ask your boss.  This is my favorite suggestion of Laurel's and one that has been used by my husband as well.  If you're finding you don't have enough time to squeeze in your workout ask your boss for a longer lunch.  In exchange offer to come in early or stay late.  If your boss scoffs at your request remind him/her (in a polite, persuasive manner) that studies have shown that people who exercise also increase their ability to make complex decisions, focus, think clearly and improve their mood.  Oh yea, then throw in a compliment.  Can't hurt right?  

Skip the shower.  Oh before you get all grossed out just listen… consider saving your lunch hour for your less sweaty workout sessions.  As hard and heavy as I lift weights I rarely sweat.  (Remember that sweat in NOT an indicator of how hard you're working.)  Laurel suggests just toweling off, touching up your make up and switching clothes.  Swap what would be your shower time for a few extra reps.  Besides, wipes like these, a little baby powder and a spritz of fragrance can go a long way.  

Weather you make working out over your lunch break part of your regular routine or use it as a back up plan these tips are sure to help make your workout a success.  

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

What Shoes to Wear for Lifting Weights

It seems now-a-days everyone is wearing running shoes everywhere, even when they aren't running.  I see them at the mall, out to eat, on walks and even in the squat rack.  With high tech cushioning, shock absorption and cool air vents these shoes are comfy!  Really, I get it! Believe it or not, I actually own a pair.  Running shoes may be your go to sneaks for toting around town but I encourage you to proceed with caution when sporting them while lifting weights.

Generally speaking, running shoes are made for running.  They are designed with cushioning and support to absorb force generated each time your foot comes into contact with the ground.  This is great for running because it (hopefully) means less wear and tear on your body after tens of thousands of steps and hundreds of miles.

When you wear those same running shoes to lift in, it can be a different story.  With cushioning can come loss of stability and when you're trying to generate force by pushing against a surface a hard, flat platform is ideal so you can "feel the floor" with your feet.  In other words,  think of lifting in running shoes like trying to squat on a mattress…. probably not your best choice.

So what should you wear?  Ideally a flat soled shoe with a firm/hard surface will be your best pick. The good news is that they are plenty of options at a variety of price points.  I also realize many of you enjoy using the same shoe to perform a variety of exercises and they're are shoes for that too!  Check out a few of my picks below...

*Please note, these are my top picks of shoes that I have tried first hand and I'm speaking from personal experience and I'm assuming that most gyms require footwear so barefoot lifting although a viable option for many isn't applicable.

Chuck Taylors ($50):  These bad boys (or girls, if you wish) are worn by novice and veteran lifters alike.  They're relatively inexpensive, provide a flat, hard surface and will hold up forever.  If you don't own any lifting shoe already these would make a great first pair for anyone. If money is an issue, I also own the Target converse and they work just as well!

Inov-8's ($60-130) haven't been around quite as long as the chucks but man, they seem to be just as popular- and not just with crossfitters!  If you're looking for a shoe to run, climb, jump AND lift in this is one of the top brands I've seen.  They offer a variety of shoes that mimic the barefoot feel, lifting shoes and running shoes.  They are considerably more expensive than chucks, The Clymb always has great deals.  While this wouldn't be my first pick for lifting shoes, I realize that not everyone can own multiple pairs of shoes for each different activity and many people enjoy utilizing plyometrics, lifting and running into one workout.  If that sounds like you, check this shoe out.

Lastly but not least, I also love my Adidas Powerlift 2.0 ($90) for squatting.  It's not secret that I have poor hip and ankle mobility and it's taken lots of work over the last three months to hit depth with more confidence.  Using a shoe with a lift in the heel for squats is a topic that's been debated over and over as some see it as putting a bandaid on poor mobility.  I do love my squat shoes but before you jump into a pair of these make sure you try a flat sole pair like Converse first.

These are my personal favorites from the shoes I've tried for lifting but the many additional options are out there and sometimes you just have to try it out to know what works.

Your turn:  What shoes do you wear for lifting?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

No Bake Protein Balls

I'm going to warn you right now, before you read any more if you have no will power to say "no" to yummy treats quit now and don't even bother making these amazing, easy, tastes like a cookie but better, no bake protein balls because I promise you, you'll have to hide the entire batch or force your husband to eat the rest so you don't eat them all.  Not that I would know…that's just what I heard….from a friend…. wink, wink.

I came across these bad boys on Amanda's new fit life Facebook page.  I just happened to have all the ingredients on hand so I thought I'd try it out. Ermahgerd.  Totally knocked my socks off, my kids were hounding me for more (I didn't really want to share), and super quick and easy.

I made just a few, slight modifications to her recipe because it called for honey and I don't like honey all that much so I swapped in some light maple syrup instead.  Don't judge.

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, mix (I used my hands), shape into a ball and store in the fridge…assuming you don't eat them all before they make it there.

(Makes 24 balls)
-1 cup oats
-2 scoops protein powder (I used vanilla whey)
-1/2 cup peanut butter (I used crunchy and it was awesome)
-1 tbs vanilla
- 1/4 cup honey
-added light maple syrup until it formed a consistency to make a ball


According to my calculations, one ball has 67 calories, 9g carbs, 2g fats and 4g protein

Give them a try!  I'd love to hear what you think!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Finisher: A Metabolic Finisher

Metabolic Finishers can be a great way to torch some extra calories at the end of a workout.  They're typically full body moves, short on time, high on intensity and can be tacked on to the end of lifting workouts to blast fat.

Try adding applying the simple (read simple, not easy) rule of three's to your metabolic finisher.  Three minutes, three moves, three repetitions each.  Move from one exercise to the next as quickly as possible for the entire three minutes.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Climbing Kettlebell Workout

Grab your kettlebell and warm up!

Start with the first line, then repeat the first line again adding the next line.  Return back to the top adding a new line each time.  Continue until you have added all the lines.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Never Skip A Workout Again

Do you find yourself skipping workouts often?  Do you start your day or week with the best intentions to hit up the gym and always seem to have conflicts leaving you no time to workout?

If you answered yes,  I'm here to help!  The men and women working out everyday aren't any less busy than you are.  They have simply chosen to make their workouts part of their schedule, and when things come up (as they do for everyone) they are able to adapt quickly to stay on track. I promise you when you use any (or all) of these five techniques below you'll never skip a workout again.

Prioritize:  Make a daily to-do list.  Anything that must be done that day goes to the top.  Any tasks that can wait another day goes towards the bottom.  Put your workout at the top of your list.  Pushing it back another day or two is not an option (because you know how that will turn out…).  It's not negotiable.

Schedule it early in the day:  If you find that your evening gym sessions are always getting cut, try scheduling your workout for first thing in the morning.  Throughout the day, things come up but getting your workout done and over right away leaves you the rest of the day to take care of your other responsibilities without skipping out on your gym time.

Have  a back up plan:  Kids will get sick.  You will get sick.  Your boss will require you to travel unexpectedly.  The thunderstrom will keep you from running outside.  You will oversleep and miss your 5am gym time.  These things are going to happen.  That's life.  However, you don't need to play victim to any of these situations.  Have a back up plan!  Sick?  Can you move your workout back a few days until you feel better?  Traveling for work?  What about finding a local gym to train at?  Poor weather?  Can you move your workout inside?  Overslept?  Pack your gym clothes and hit it up on your way home from work.  Always, always  have plan b ready to go.

Have a home workout ready to go:  In my opinion, not having access to a gym, for whatever reason, is not a valid excuse for skipping your workout altogether.  Home workouts are a dime a dozen and with websites like Fitness Blender you can get a great workout from the comfort of your own living room, most with no equipment required!

Find a training partner:  A training partner can be one of the best ways to stay accountable with your workouts.  Find someone who is committed, trustworthy, and won't let you cut corners!