Category Archives: exercise

Exercise for Beginners

Are you ready to start exercising regularly? Or maybe you’ve fallen off your exercise plan and need a boost getting back to the gym. Follow this 20 day sequence to help you start, or start again. Starting with day 1, only progress to the next day once you complete the previous. If you miss a day return the the day before you missed.

Credit: downtown.tumblr.com

Things to remember

  • Don’t skip your break days: they are important to protect your muscles.
  • Stretch properly beforehand.
  • Keep yourself hydrated.
  • Push yourself but not to the point of injury. Be mindful of your body.
  • Have fun!

Workout Terms Glossary

Jumping Jacks
Starting standing with feet together and arms straight by your sides. Jump up and spread your arms and legs wide as you land. Jump up again to return to center.

Leg Lift/Raise
Lay down on your side, hip on the floor, and prop yourself up on your forearm. Lift your top leg straight up into the air. Lower it back down without touching your bottom leg. Repeat.

Lunge
Take a big step forward with your left foot, bend your knees and lower your body until both legs form 90-degree angles. Push off with your left foot and stand back up. Do reps, and then repeat on other leg.

Crunch
Lay flat on your back. Place your hands behind your head, and your feet flat on the floor. Pull your shoulders away from the mat. Make sure you don’t pull your head forward with your arms but rather keep your gaze upward and use your hand for neck support only. Lower yourself back to the mat.

Sit-ups
Start by lying on your back on the floor, cross your arms over your chest or place hands behind head or neck. With feet flat against the floor and knees bent, lift upper and lower vertebrae from the floor. Lower back to the floor with control. That’s one rep.
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How to Wake up Early to Workout

Busy schedules sometimes mean waking up earlier just to get a workout in. I know it’s hard, it was hard for me to wake up early just to write about waking up early to workout. But there are some benefits to getting a workout in before you really start your day.

  • Morning exercises “jump start” your metabolism and kick your body into overdrive, helping you burn more calories throughout the remainder of your day.
  • Doing something good for your body in the morning energizes you for the day.
  • Studies show that working out in the morning helps brain activity for four to ten hours after exercising. Harness your new super power toward good, not evil.
  • Regular exercise leads to better sleep quality meaning you won’t need as much and it’ll gradually be easier to wake up earlier. You might not even need an alarm some days. It’s a cycle of good health.
  • Keeping a consistent exercise schedule regulates your bodies endocrine system and circadian rhythm. This means your body will start to recognize a pattern. It won’t be confused by different wake times and will start to regulate various systems in your body.
  • Working out in the morning leads to healthier diet choices throughout their day. Endorphins tend to suppress appetite.
  • Exercising in the morning gives you an opportunity to plan your day, pray, or just be alone with your thoughts.
  • If you “get it over with” in the morning, your fitness goals are less likely to slip through the cracks of a busy life.
I hope you’re convinced to give morning exercise a try. Here are some helpful tips to help you get up earlier and get moving.
If you’re running out of workout ideas, check out my printable workouts here.

Sun Salutations

It’s Workout Wednesday and about time for another post about yoga…

All around the world, many cultures have long viewed light as a symbol of consciousness and self-illumination. In The Origins and Historyof Consciousness, Erich Neumann wrote, “The world begins with the coming of light, opposition between light and darkness has informed the spiritual world of all peoples and molded it into shape.”

The only source of light for most of human history was, of course the sun, and today it remains our primary source of light. The Hindus called the sun Surya and they revered it as both the physical and spiritual heart of our world and the creator of life itself. They called the sun the “eye of the world” (loka chakshus), which was regarded as a pathway to the divine.

One important way many Hindus honored the sun was and is through the asana sequence known as Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutations. Namaskais a Sanskrit word, which can be derived from namas, meaning “to bow to” or “to adore.” The placement of joined-hands touching the heart at the beginning and end of each sequence shows that only the heart can know truth.

Ancient Yogis believed that each person replicates the world around, including “rivers, seas, mountains, fields… stars and planets… the sun and moon” (Shiva Samitha, II. 1-3). Therefore the practice of Sun Salutations allows each person to share their inner sun with the sun which shines down upon them.

There are many variations of Sun Salutations but generally it consists of eight basic postures in a similar order as follows, with alternating inhales and exhales as transitions between poses (Photos courtesy of Yoga Journal dot com):

Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute)
Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose)
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog Pose)
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose)

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This is One Hundred Workout

It’s Workout Wednesday, and while we all (hopefully) can count to one hundred, and we all know what it looks like (“one hundred” or “100”) especially if you’ve played with coins at all. Now you can know what it FEELS like too, because this workout is a breakdown of five awesome moves to do for a total body workout. You can even know what two hundred and three hundred feel like it, if your up for it.

Start by warming up with some stretches of the shoulders, legs and side body for at least five minutes. Stretching feels awesome so longer is definitely not frowned upon here. Then when you’re ready turn on some tunes and go for it!

Try to go all the way through without taking breaks (obviously stop if you can’t go on). If you’re a beginner stop at just one time through, you can always work up to more. Intermediate, take a 1-2 minute break then try going through the workout a second time and advanced should shoot for three times through. As always, drink lots of water and have fun!

If you would like to print out this workout you can download it from my Google Docs by clicking here.

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Below is a description of how to do these workout moves. For a full list you can check out my glossary here. You can also find more printable workouts by clicking here.

Pushup
Lay on your belly with hand flat on the floor on either side, forearms perpendicular to the floor. Stiffen body and literally push yourself away from the ground, hinging at the toes. When arms are straight hold and with control release your body, hover above the ground and repeat.

Lunge
Take a big step forward with your left foot, bend your knees and lower your body until both legs form 90-degree angles. Push off with your left foot and stand back up. Do reps, and then repeat on other leg.

Tricep Dip
Find an elevated surface such as a step, a coffee table over a chair. Place your palms on the surface directly behind your body. Hold yourself up and gently lower yourself down using your arms. When your arms make a 90-degree angle behind you lift yourself back up to the starting position.

Squat 
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, arms by sides, Squat slowly until both knees are bent 90 degrees and raise arms straight to shoulder level in front of you. Immediately rise out of squat, returning to standing with arms by side. 

V-Ups 
Hold a weight in each hand, arms at your side with palms facing in. Lift with straight arms and open them into a v-shape until arms are parallel with the floor. Hold then carefully release to starting position.

Runner’s Stretches

I’ve been learning so much in my running journey over the last three-months. Did you know that if you stretch your range of motion in your hip joint you can actually become a better runner? If your hips are too tight your leg won’t extend behind your body very far before swinging forward, which reduces the propulsion your body has the potential to exhibit. These stretches are meant to open your hip joint in order to improve your running.

The Happy Runner [dot] blogspot [dot] com

Kneeling Hip-Flexor Stretch
Step into a lunge position, and lower you back knee to the ground. Keep your upper body straight while you tilt your pelvis forward. Hold for one minute, release, and repeat twice more. Then switch to the other leg.

Knee-to-Chest Bridge
Pull in your right knee, holding it against your chest. Keeping your head and shoulder blades on the floor, push up with your left leg into a bridge position while keeping your right leg against you. Push up, keeping the pelvis level, then lower yourself down. Do 12 to 15, then switch legs. Do three sets on each side.

I Heart Inspiration [dot] com

Marching Bridge
With your head, shoulders, and both feet on the floor, push up into a bridge position. While up, begin “marching”—alternate lifting each foot about an inch off the ground, while keeping your pelvis steady and facing straight up. Do three sets of 20 marches (10 on each leg), with a short break between each set.

Swing Drill
Bend and lift your left leg in front of you, then swing it back behind you as far as it will reach without moving your pelvis or lower back. This is the running motion you want to have—hip extending back, pelvis and lower back neutral (not arched). Do two sets of 20 swings with each leg, alternating legs with each set.

Community [dot] Saucony [dot] com

Half-pidgeon

Starting in a v-shape position with hands and feet flat against the floor, pull your right leg through, placing your right foot next to your left hand and your right knee next to your right hand. Bring your butt as close to the floor as you can as you place the top of your left foot on the ground with your leg stretching behind you. Sit up tall and then bending forward at the waist, touch your forehead to the floor. Hold, release and repeat on the left side.
Runner’s Lunge
Get into a lunge position with the right knee at a 90-degree angle, knee not passing the toes, and the left leg straight.  Put your hands flat to the floor on either side of your right foot. Then move your right foot to the outside of your right hand, toes at a 45 degree angle. Move around in this stretch, roll to the outside edge of your right foot opening your right knee to the floor, or lower your left knee to the floor. When you feel adequately stretched, switch legs.
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What to Eat Prior to Working Out

It’s Workout Wednesday, and on this particular Workout Wednesday I would like to share with you a little secret about fueling your body for workouts.

We all know it’s a bad idea to exercise on an empty stomach, because your body burns muscle tissue when there is no food energy to use (contrary to popular belief, of burning fat in this situation). In fact according to this study, women who ate before working out actually ate less the rest of the day. But, did you know that there are many foods you shouldn’t eat before working out? Some can even cause cramping, dizziness and headaches. After some research I’ve come up with a few ideas of what to eat (and not to eat) before my runs and other workouts.

About 2 hours before:

Grab something full of carbs, protein and healthy fats:

  • Cooked quinoa and grilled chicken
  • Whole wheat pasta with cheese and veggies
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
  • Greek yogurt with berries and almonds
  • Grilled fish, avocado and mango wrap

Avoid fibrous veggies:

  • Broccoli
  • Onions
  • Beans
Avoid high-fat foods:
  • Burgers
  • French fries
  • Ice cream

About 1 hour before:

Eat easily digestible carbs and a little protein:

  • Whole wheat toast with nut butter
  • Whole grain crackers or pretzels and hummus
  • Small bowl of cereal
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Yogurt and fruit
  • Some cottage cheese and grapes
  • Half a fruit and nut bar
  • Cheese stick and carrots

    Aviod gas-producing fruits:

    • Pears
    • Apples
    • Melon

    About 15 minutes before:

    Enjoy easily digestible carbs:

    • Banana
    • Applesauce
    • Some saltine crackers
    • Raisins

    Avoid large servings of protein and carbs and high-saturated fat and high-fiber foods:

    • Pasta
    • Bagel and cream cheese
    • Fried chicken
    • Granola bar (high fiber)

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      4×4 Workout

      This workout (originally created over at Fit Fab Cities) is another designed to be done in whatever amount of time you have available for it. There are FOUR sets with FOUR individual exercise per set (hence the title).

      Enjoy!


      Beginners should take breaks whenever needed. Intermediates should take short breaks between exercises and longer breaks between sets. Advanced exercisers should limit breaks to only between sets. and again… DRINK WATER!

      Free printable version: click here.

      *Update: My glossary for these, and many more, workout terms is here. The following is a shortened list of only those terms found in this workout:

      Bicycle Crunch
      Lay flat on your back. Place your hands behind your head, lift your left leg straight up about 2 inches from the ground and bring your right knee up to form a 90-degree angle. As you do this pull your left shoulder away from the mat bringing your left elbow to your right knee. Make sure you don’t pull your head forward with your arms but rather keep your gaze upward and use your hand for neck support only. Now switch, pull your right elbow to your 90-degree-bent left knee and straighten your right leg to hover above the floor.

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      Butt Kickers
      Start in a standing position. Start jogging in place kicking your foot as close to your butt as you can with each step.

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      Front Kicks
      Start in a standing position. Lift your right leg straight out in front of your body until it is as close to parallel with the ground as you can lift it. Alternate legs.

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      Jumping Jacks
      Starting standing with feet together and arms straight by your sides. Jump up and spread your arms and legs wide as you land. Jump up again to return to center.

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      Lunge
      Take a big step forward with your left foot, bend your knees and lower your body until both legs form 90-degree angles. Push off with your left foot and stand back up. Do reps, and then repeat on other leg.
      Mountain Climbers
      Begin in a pushup position on the hands and toes. Bring the right knee in towards the chest, resting the foot on the floor. Jump up and switch feet in the air, bringing the left foot in and the right foot back. Switch back, that’s one rep.

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      Plank
      Set-up the top of a push-up position with your hands directly below your shoulder. A variation of this is to rest on your forearms with elbows directly beneath shoulders. Hold your body completely straight by engaging your abs. If you can’t hold the plank for the full duration, work up to it. Form is more important the length of time: don’t drop your hips or raise your butt.

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      Pushup
      Lay on your belly with hand flat on the floor on either side, forearms perpendicular to the floor. Stiffen body and literally push yourself away from the ground, hinging at the toes. When arms are straight hold and with control release your body, hover above the ground and repeat.
      Quad Lift
      Sit with leg straight out in front of you, back straight. Place your hand on either side of your hips. Keeping your leg straight lift your right leg, lower it back to the floor, then lift your left leg, lower it. That’s one rep.

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      Reverse Crunches
      Lay flat on your back, with your arms at your side. Use your arms to support your body, curve your back as you lift your legs, butt and lower back into the air. Pull your legs close to your chest, then using your ab muscles lift them straight into the air again.


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      Shoulder Press
      Hold a weight in each hand above your shoulders, next to your ears. With palms facing in life the weights straight up until your arms are straight directly over your shoulders. release to starting position.

      Ski Jumps
      Starting in a standing position with knees slightly bent and chest forward, quickly jump from side to side over an imaginary line. Land each time with feet hip-width distance apart. When you land where you began (2 jumps) that’s one rep.
      Squat Press
      Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, arms by sides, Squat slowly until both knees are bent 90 degrees and raise arms straight to shoulder level in front of you. Immediately rise out of squat, returning to standing with arms by side.
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      Tricep Dip
      Find an elevated surface such as a step, a coffee table over a chair. Place your palms on the surface directly behind your body. Hold yourself up and gently lower yourself down using your arms. When your arms make a 90-degree angle behind you lift yourself back up to the starting position.
      V-Lift
      Hold a weight in each hand, arms at your side with palms facing in. Lift with straight arms and open them into a v-shape until arms are parallel with the floor.  Hold then carefully release to starting position.
      V-Sit
      Start by sitting with your legs extended in front of you, toes pointed, hands resting by your hips. Slowly hinge your body backward by lifting your legs off the ground, keeping them straight and toes pointed. Lift your arms so they are parallel to the ground.  You should be balanced on your butt, with your body forming a “V” from your toes to your head.

      50 (or so) Date Ideas

      Date night ideas, popsicle stick jar



      We are BORED! Bored out of our minds. Bored with ourselves, bored with our stuff, bored with our house, bored with our day-to-day lives. Just plain bored. It’s about time to spice things up around here. We want more time with each other, more time without stuff, more time away from the house, more excitement and creativity. I found an idea on Pinterest (regretfully I forgot to pin it and have no link) to fill a jar with popsicles sticks each with a date idea written on it. We went ahead and gave it a try.

      First we gathered our supplies:

      Date night ideas, popsicle stick jar 
      multi-colored popsicle sticks, thin point Sharpies, two plastic bags (one for new ideas and one for used ideas), and sustenance


      We assigned the colors of the popsicle sticks as follows:

      • Red = Things to do at home
      • Yellow = Free things
      • Green = $
      • Blue = $$$

      We then started brainstorming ideas and writing them down, some examples are listed here:

      • Go to the local art museum
      • Take a brewery tour
      • Write a novel
      • Buy coloring books and color in them
      • Make a home video
      • Rent a hotel room for the night
      • etc.

      Originally we were going to use bags but I found this jar in my cabinet so the new ideas were placed in it when completed (used ideas still go in a little bag).

      Date night ideas, popsicle stick jar


      We didn’t fill in all of the popsicle sticks so we made one that says simple “Make new popsicle sticks.”

      http://ad.doubleclick.net/adi/N963.148119.BLOGGEREN/B6527721.7;dcadv=3632184;sz=180×150;lid=41000000028007181;pid=NMG51146;usg=AFHzDLu0fWE6lbFbnherRIsbuZEI9JV8Hw;adurl=http%253A%252F%252Fwww.funtoymall.com%252Fnmg51146.html%253Fmr%253AtrackingCode%253DFBD64503-0DE4-E111-8FF3-001B21BCC0BC%2526mr%253AreferralID%253DNA;pubid=575791;price=%246.30;title=American+Classics+Corp…;merc=FuntoyMall;imgsrc=http%3A%2F%2Fsite.unbeatablesale.com%2Fimg268%2Fnmg51146.gif;width=59;height=85http://ad.doubleclick.net/adi/N963.148119.BLOGGEREN/B6527721.7;dcadv=3632184;sz=180×150;lid=41000000024781945;pid=216079;usg=AFHzDLunczpSvw8crm6tzu4upfG9iYNPTQ;adurl=http%253A%252F%252Fwww.samsclub.com%252Fsams%252Fball-regular-mouth-jars-8-oz-24-jars%252F187726.ip%253Fpid%253D_DoubleClick_Affiliates%2526ci_src%253D15781033%2526ci_sku%253D216079;pubid=575791;price=%2418.86;title=Ball+Regular+Mouth+Jar…;merc=Sam%27s+Club;imgsrc=http%3A%2F%2Fs7d2.scene7.com%2Fis%2Fimage%2Fsamsclub%2Fs7product%2F0001440060000_A.jpg;width=85;height=85http://ad.doubleclick.net/adi/N7433.148119.BLOGGEREN/B6631428.7927;sz=180×150;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000005217789;pid=10000722;usg=AFHzDLtszl_Za14lFVHJlQH7fyW8uWZtuw;adurl=http%253A%252F%252Fwww.officemax.com%252Foffice-supplies%252Fpens-pencils-markers%252Fmarkers%252Fpermanent-markers%252Fproduct-ARS19646%253Fcm_mmc%253DPerformics-_-Office%252520Supplies-_-Pens%252C%252520Pencils%252C%252520and%252520Markers-_-Markers%2526ci_src%253D14110944%2526ci_sku%253D10000722;pubid=575791;price=%248.28;title=Sharpie+Fine+Point+Per…;merc=OfficeMax;imgsrc=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.officemax.com%2Fcatalog%2Fimages%2F397x353%2F10000722i_01.jpg;width=95;height=85


      For ideas for your own popsicle stick dates follow the links below.


      What are some of your great date-night ideas?

      Mighty Squats Challenge

      Squats… it’s a horrible word, but a wonderful workout especially if you want a nice round butt (yoga pants can help with this as well). Surprisingly, I watch this video (and do the workout, I swear) every other day. Cassey Ho is super (impossibly) peppy and also inspirational.  I’ve watched (and done, I swear) her other videos available on YouTube and her blog.

      If you like the song Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen (or at least think it’s catchy like I do) then this squats challenge is strangely quite enjoyable. AND it only takes about six minutes, BUT if you want to skip to the workout it starts at 31 seconds and ends at about four minutes, SO the workout is actually only about three minutes and 30 seconds long… NO BREAKS!

      Now…







      Do you enjoy squats? How do you tone your butt and thighs?

      1-Hour Total Body Workout

      I am not one of those people who really love to work out. I wish I were, because my life would be so much easier if I didn’t have to force myself to do things to keep in shape. I do what I have to in order to keep active but mostly I enjoy activities that are exercise plus something else, like yoga for relaxation and stretching, riding a bike to a friends house, walking the long way to the grocery store, hiking and backpacking, or running to the ice cream shop.  These activities have another purpose, and yet I still get some exercise out of it. I do have a few workout plans that I like to fit each in once a week (5-4-3-2-1 workout for one) and this one.

      I developed this plan for myself based on some Women’s Health Magazine workouts and an app I have for my Kindle Fire (as well as from my limited knowledge of what a good workout is). It takes an hour as is, but can easily be cut down to 45, 30 or even 15 minutes just by cutting out reps.

       
      1-Hour Total Body Workout


      For a printable version click the link below
      1-Hour Total Body Workout




      Check out my workout terms glossary. These terms are used in this workout:

      Butt Kickers
      Start in a standing position. Start jogging in place kicking your foot as close to your butt as you can with each step.

      Clamshell
      Lay on your side with both knees bent at 90 degrees. Keeping your knee bent and feet together, hinge your top leg open. Lower your knee back to starting for one rep.

      Crescent Lunge with Row
      Stand in crescent lunge position, one foot a large step in from of the other, the front foot flat against the floor and the knee bent 90 degrees and the back foot on tip-toes with the leg straight. Lean your chest forward slightly and with a weight in both hand, palms facing in, pull the weight straight up, elbows bending behind your body.

      Dog Lifts
      Start in a tabletop position, hands directly below the shoulder and knees directly below the hips, tops of feet against the floor. Keeping your right knee bent lift it from the ground up to the side until it is parallel with the floor. Slowly lower it to hover above the floor. That’s one rep, do all reps then repeat on the opposite leg.
      Donkey Kicks
      Start in a tabletop position, hands directly below the shoulder and knees directly below the hips, tops of feet against the floor. Keeping your knee bent lift your right foot up toward the sky, lower it back to hover over the floor with control. That’s one rep, do all reps then switch legs.

      Flutter
      Lay flat on your stomach. Lift your legs and arms from the mat, keep your forehead against the floor. Quickly alternate lifting your right arm with your left leg, then your left arm with your right leg.
      Froggy Lifts
      Lay face down on your mat with your forehead to the floor. Bend your knees to 90 degrees and flex your feet. Turn your toes out slightly keeping your heels together, lift your feet straight up removing your knees from the mat.

      Hamstring Curl
      Lay flat on you stomach, prop your upper body up onto your forearms. Attach ankle weights to your ankles or hold a hand weight between your feet. Slowly bend your knees, lifting the weight into the air. Carefully lower the weight toward the floor, hover above the floor, for one rep.

      Hip Bridge
      Lay on your back with arms by your side and feet flat against the floor, hip-width distance apart. Lift your hips from the mat until your body forms a straight line from shoulder to knee.

      Inner Thigh Raise
      Lying on your side pull your top leg forward into a 90-degree angle with knee resting on the floor. Lift the bottom leg a couple of inches and then lower it back to hover just above the floor. That’s one rep.
      Jog-in-place
      Pretty self explanatory, jog… but do it in place.
      Jumping Jacks
      Starting standing with feet together and arms straight by your sides. Jump up and spread your arms and legs wide as you land. Jump up again to return to center.
      Knee Ups
      Start standing and begin jogging in place lifting your knees as high as possible.
      Leg Extension
      Lie on back with knees bent. Rest your arms on the floor at should level, with palms facing up. As you lift your hips from the form to form a straight line from shoulders to hips, extend on leg in the air. Hold, then lower foot flat to floor and switch to the opposite leg.
      Leg Raise
      Lay down on your side, hip on the floor, and prop yourself up on your forearm. Lift your top leg straight up into the air. Lower it back down without touching your bottom leg. Repeat.


      Plank
      Set-up the top of a push-up position with your hands directly below your shoulder. A variation of this is to rest on your forearms with elbows directly beneath shoulders. Hold your body completely straight by engaging your abs. If you can’t hold the plank for the full duration, work up to it. Form is more important the length of time: don’t drop your hips or raise your butt.

      Quad Lift
      Sit with leg straight out in front of you, back straight. Place your hand on either side of your hips. Keeping your leg straight lift your right leg, lower it back to the floor, then lift your left leg, lower it. That’s one rep.

      Shoulder Press
      Hold a weight in each hand above your shoulders, next to your ears. With palms facing in life the weights straight up until your arms are straight directly over your shoulders. release to starting position.
      Side Kick
      Start in a tabletop position, hands directly below the shoulder and knees directly below the hips, tops of feet against the floor. Lift your right leg so it is extended straight back from your body. Slowly bring it around so that it is perpendicular to your body and parallel to the floor. Return it to straight behind you for one rep. Do reps then repeat on opposite leg.
      Side Plank
      Lie on your side with your legs straight. Prop yourself up with your hand directly below your shoulder (or on your forearm with your elbow directly below your shoulder). Your body should form a diagonal line with your feet stacked on top of each other. If you can’t hold the plank for the full duration, work up to it. Form is more important the length of time: be sure your hips and knees stay of the floor.

      Ski Hops
      Starting in a standing position with knees slightly bent and chest forward, quickly jump from side to side over an imaginary line. Land each time with feet hip-width distance apart. When you land where you began (2 jumps) that’s one rep.
      Squat
      Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, arms by sides, Squat slowly until both knees are bent 90 degrees and raise arms straight to shoulder level in front of you. Immediately rise out of squat, returning to standing with arms by side.

      Static Lunge
      Begin with right leg one large step in front of the left leg. Lower your body until both knees from a 90-degree angle. Don’t touch your back knee to the ground. Lift yourself out of the lunge. Do reps then switch to left leg.

       

      Triangle Pushup
      Do a pushup but instead of placing hand outside of your body, move them in under your chest with index finger and thumb touching to form a triangle.
      Tricep Dip
      Find an elevated surface such as a step, a coffee table over a chair. Place your palms on the surface directly behind your body. Hold yourself up and gently lower yourself down using your arms. When your arms make a 90-degree angle behind you lift yourself back up to the starting position.
      Tricep Extension
      Hold one 10- to 15- pound weight in both hands. Place it behind your head and with control lift it over your head.
      V-Lift
      Hold a weight in each hand, arms at your side with palms facing in. Lift with straight arms and open them into a v-shape until arms are parallel with the floor.  Hold then carefully release to starting position.

      Whether you enjoy working out or not, how do you keep in shape? Try the workout, tell me what you think; I appreciate constructive criticism.

      How to Yoga: and Other Life Lessons

      I have been practicing yoga routinely since I started college, four years ago. Before that it was an occasional activity that I enjoyed but was never too attached too. Now, I find it hard to sleep, and my muscles feel stiff if I miss even a day. I feel that every person has a different experience when practicing yoga, and I don’t claim to be an expert, or even that good at it, but I do think that I have learned a few thing in my four years.


      Stay Present
      My life is full of distractions: what are we having for dinner, I need to check my email, how much homework do I have, etc. Yoga is my escape from all of that.  The only problem is letting myself escape.  Most of the time my mind wanders away from quality breathing and properly setting-up poses to these other thoughts that seem so urgent. When I DO get my thoughts focused in, not only does this helps with my yoga practice, but also helps de-clutter my life.



      Wear Yoga Pants


      ‘nough said

      Breathe
      If there is one thing I know, it’s that breathing is the best medicine, both inside and outside the yoga practice. Breathing is something that’s taken years of practice for me to learn especially with tough poses. The same way a sigh can relieve tension during a stressful argument, the proper exhale or inhale of breathe can relieve tension in muscles.



      Don’t Give Up
      There are hundreds of poses that are too difficult for me to even fathom at this point in my yoga practice. I know it will take time and practice to get there, but I won’t get there if I give up.


      Laugh at Yourself
      Every sport and activity on the planet has a few nuts who take it too seriously. I always take time to laugh at the nut I see in myself. I wrote this song to Tik-Tok by Ke$ha once.

      Wake up in the morning feeling like Siddhartha, grab my mat it’s on the floor this isn’t Sparta, start chlid’s pose, downward dog, sun salutations holmes, ‘Cause when I do lotus pose, I can be like “om.” 😉

      Also, Yoga: the complete and balanced parts of breakfast.


      Backpacking for Dummies: A Dummy’s Guide to Backpacking

      This past weekend my family and I went on a backpacking trip.  The members of our travel party would include, myself, my father Charles, my boyfriend Reid, my sister Erica, my brother-in-law Dustin, Dustin’s brother AJ, and my Australian cousin Steven, all of us at varying levels of expertise.

      My dad has been backpacking passionately for as long as I can remember and plays a bit of a game with his buddy Tim: they try to pack the lightest pack with only the necessities. Erica, Dustin and AJ had never been backpacking before, but were interested in trying it out, Steven has gone a number of times both in the U.S. and in Australia, Reid, whose dad is also a passionate backpacker, has gone backpacking since he was very young, and I have gone a few of times, always with my dad, inheriting the gear he replaced with a lighter option. This is our story.



      From left to right: Dustin, Erica, AJ, Reid, Maggie, Steven
      Missing: Charles the photographer


      Backpacking for Dummies: A Dummy’s Guide to Backpacking

      Preparation:

      As any backpacker would know, a backpacking trip doesn’t start at the trailhead. It begins at home with the preparation.

      Choosing a date for a backpacking trip can be a very complicated process. Factors to consider:

      • Is there a wedding?
      • When will your cousin be visiting from Australia?
      • Will your uncle be celebrating his 70th birthday?
      • Do you have work or school?
      • Are you also planning a trip along the Continental Divide?
      • What will you have to reschedule?

      In addition to scheduling conflicts, especially when travelling in a large group, backpacking is a sport best enjoyed in warm, dry conditions. It is important to follow the weather reports and choose dates that will ensure a happy company.

      The weather in Colorado has been consistently dry and hot for the entire summer thus far, hence the wildfires up and down the state and the creation of this photo. Source: Facebook friend’s wall

      However, sometimes you will find that the warm and dry dates fall during conflicting events and you are left with the single cold and wet weekend for probably the entire summer.

      After deciding on a date you must gather all of your gear.

      • Tent
      • Backpack
      • Stove and fuel
      • Lighter
      • Cooking pot and skillet (depending on what you plan to cook)
      • Utensils (don’t use your hands, we aren’t barbarians)
      • Bowl and/or plate (again… barbarians)
      • Mug (hot things are hot)
      • Water filter (unless you enjoy the effects of giardia)
      • Water holding device (bottle or bladder)
      • Sleeping bag
      • Camp chair (much nicer than the ground)
      • Sleeping pad (cuz the ground is hard and rocks are lumpy)
      • Hiking socks (prevent blisters)
      • Underwear (I really shouldn’t have to explaint this one)
      • Lightweight hiking shorts (move easily)
      • Non-cotton lightweight shirts (cotton tends to stay wet once it gets wet from sweat or rain)
      • Long underwear pants and shirt (cozy pajamas)
      • Fleece (for warmth, dries quickly)
      • Rain coat and pants (keeps you dry)
      • Hiking boots (broken in)
      • Lightweight camp shoes (to relax your feet in after hiking all day)
      • Hat (1 to protect against sun, another against cold)
      • Headlamp (it gets DARK at night and when nature calls you don’t want to stumble into the lake)
      • Trekking poles (nice for steep slopes)
      • Toothbrush and paste (for fresh minty breath)
      • Hair bands (to tie back your wild tresses)
      • Chapstick (cuz chapped lips sucks)
      • Sanitation wipes (such as Wet Ones)
      • Toilet paper (again with the explaining)
      • Sunscreen (sun burns and sleeping outside don’t mix)
      • Deep woods bugspray (bugs are annoying)
      • First-aid kit (in case of the worst happening)
      • Fishing pole and license (cuz it’s fun to catch your own dinner, but don’t count on it)
      • Camera with a charged battery (it sucks to get to 11,000 feet carrying your camera the whole way just to find that you can’t take any pictures of the beautiful wildflowers)
      • Rope and caribiner (for hanging food in the trees away from camp: bears)

      Some things you might already have, you might have to borrow things from friends and family. The important thing is to make sure you have your basic needs covered, shelter and warmth. Sustenance, of course, is another basic need. You have everything you need to store water and to filter it for safe drinking. You also have food preparation and consuming equipment. Now you must decide what food items to bring.

      This depends on how many days you will be backpacking, weight and comfort. It is best to go for light items that are filling for their weight. Some good options that I like to bring include:

      • Instant oatmeal packets
      • Applesauce
      • Granola bars
      • Ramen, macaroni and cheese, cous cous (anything with a dry grain that you just add water and flavoring)
      • Cashews, almonds, pistachios, etc.
      • Dried fruit such as raisins, or craisins
      • Dehydrated veggies
      • Candy bars especially chocolate
      • Trail mix
      • Instant coffee
      • Tea bags
      • Chicken or tuna in a foil pouch
      • Tortillas can be used to make PB&J roll-ups or quesadillas
      • Alcohol

      There are many things you can bring and it takes practice to decide what you like best. These are just my personal favorites.

      Communication:

      It is very important to stay in contact with those who will be travelling with you. They are your support system and prior to the trip everyone should be on the same page as to where you are going, for how long, the hike distance, elevation etc. This can easily be done through email so long as you send emails to the correct address.

      Finally all your preparation will be rewarded; the day of the trek has arrived. Have a big breakfast at IHOP and drive to your trailhead, because things are about to get real.

      “Up up up up the stairs we go, until we come to the tunnel. And when they go in, there’s no coming out… all she gets is filthy orcses and they doesn’t taste very nice does they precious? No, not very nice at all my love.”
      (Not really sure what’s with all the LOTR references, just go with it)
      Source: http://www.councilofelrond.com/imagegallery/stairs-of-cirith-ungol/

      The Climb:

      It’s been said that your brain will quit a hundred times before your body will have to. The thing to remember with backpacking is that you must trick your brain. Encouraging it with phrases like, “We’re almost to the top,” or “You can carry yourself and 40 extra pounds up this steep section,” will help. Another thing to remember is that you can’t stop too often or for too long, your muscles will have to warm up every time you stop and it’s best to just keep going.

      Finding Nemo reference, instead of LOTR, 🙂
      Source: http://howimetyourfatherblog.blogspot.com/2010/10/keep-calm-and.html

      I find that after about 20 minutes I get into the zone: the weight and constant pounding of my feet keeps me centered. Other may experience different findings. Whatever works for you, channel it. (Also make sure to eat snacks and drink LOTS of water)

      A quick rest

      Camping:

      When you find an area that looks nice to camp (with a water source nearby), it’s best to set-up camp before doing anything else (except maybe following nature’s call, which I will not be getting into in this post. If you would like information on using the world as your toilet and leaving no trace please read the 5th subheading in this article.

      Our campsite, set up just before the rain fell, lucky we brought that big heavy tarpaulin

      To set up camp first, set up your tent (and a rain tarp, since the clouds will be rolling in at this point). After setting up the tent, pull out your sleeping pad and bag inside the tent to get fluffy and cozy before bed. Then as the first drops begin to fall on your head, put on your raincoat and pants and set up your camp chair. Duck under your rain tarp, hunker down, and try to laugh away the misfortune: play games, drink alcohol, DON’T check the time, and hope for some sun.

      When the rain calms a bit and it’s safe to walk around in the tall wet grass snap a few pictures of the beauty that surrounds you.















      It’s good to have some activities prepared between meals, to pass the time: day hikes, reading, drawing, photography, fishing, writing, talking, laughing, card playing, and sledding are all good ideas.





      As the sun sets, find a good place to hike up to (careful of the slippery wet rocks) and enjoy the view.





      When the tarp begins to collect water, engineering must come into play.

      The Moose Destroyer

      When all else fails and you are feeling lost in the wetness, make new friends.

      Hemingway the Caterpillar (if he can survive the cold and wet, so can you)

      After cooking and eating dinner, playing a few silly games about what you can take to the moon, and passing around a few communal beers it’s time for bed. Brush your teeth (with a bottle of Jack), strip off your wet clothing and snuggle into your sleeping bag as you listen to the creeks flowing all around you (don’t forget to use the natural toilet before getting in bed, it is the absolute worst thing to have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night on a camping trip, especially when there are streams flowing in every directions and marshes just beyond the streams and tall wet grass everywhere you step).

      In the morning you will wake up to the babbling brooks and songs of the birds (and your urgent need to urinate). You will hope that the sun is shining and poke your head out of the tent warily. You see that it is and your heart will flood with joy. You get dressed and let yourself fully out of the tent, joining your party under the big blue tarp. You start preparing your breakfast just as the sun shyly hides its face again behind the clouds.

      You resign yourself to another chilly and cloudy day and the company decides to finish breakfast, pack up and head back down the mountain.

      Hiking down:

      Hopefully you remembered to clip your toenails before the trip because the constant jamming of your toenails into the front of your boots can be quite painful. Just ask those who have decided to have their toenails removed completely. Lacing your boots tightly around your ankles can help with the downhill hike.

      Some people say hiking down is the hardest part, yes hiking up is more strenuous and breathing is much harder, but hiking down takes finesse and concentration. Constantly trying to stop your body’s potential energy from turning into kinetic energy is tough work, but still usually takes less time.





      Then the whole trip is over. You can load your gear into the car, get in yourself and drive home (or to get some bagels and Taco Bell).

      That is, of course, unless your boyfriend is chased down the mountain by a mountain line, which he fights off by punching it in the face, which is seen by pirates who think he is bad ass and want him in their troop, but first they have to initiate him by locking him in a mine in Idaho Springs, which he only escapes because Gandalf (LOTR reference again) shows up blinding them with his staff, and he crawls to safety through a tunnel which leads to the basement of Beaujo’s where he is picked up by his girlfriend and her dad, or so the story has been told.

      Further (more practical) information on backpacking:

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      What do you think of our experience? Do you like to backpack? Tell me about your past trips.

      The 5-4-3-2-1 Workout (my version)

      Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: 5-4-3-2-1 Workout

      One of my latest obsessions is the website Pinterest (if you want to follow me, my username is: maghaseman).  I spend way too much time there pinning things to plan the wedding that is non-existent, the house I’ll never be able to afford and the vacation of my dreams.  There are a few things I do pin that I actually use though, including workouts.  I came across this wonderful routine about a month ago and have tried it a few times.  I love Caitlin’s Blog Fit Fab Cities and have tried a lot of her ideas.

      This particular routine, The 5-4-3-2-1 Workout, is such a great idea, it’s quick and, as Caitlin says in her blog, easy to fit into a busy schedule, and I love the formatting (bright colors).  However, as I was doing the exercise I found that I lost track of the workout.  I have always struggled with workouts that have too much variety, some people enjoy the variety because it keeps it interesting but for me personally it doesn’t work.  The other thing I didn’t like was that it was missing ab exercises.  So I revamped it a little to suit my own needs:

      54321 workout, schedule, busy, fitness nuts
      You can download the printable version by clicking this link: 5-4-3-2-1 workout.


      I kept Caitlin’s cutesy rainbow formatting and a lot of her content.  I replaced her 4 minute section with ab exercises.  Hope you enjoy it!

      **Update: Check out my workout terms glossary.

      These are the terms used in this workout:

      Bicycle Crunch
      Lay flat on your back. Place your hands behind your head, lift your left leg straight up about 2 inches from the ground and bring your right knee up to form a 90-degree angle. As you do this pull your left shoulder away from the mat bringing your left elbow to your right knee. Make sure you don’t pull your head forward with your arms but rather keep your gaze upward and use your hand for neck support only. Now switch, pull your right elbow to your 90-degree-bent left knee and straighten your right leg to hover above the floor.


      Crunch
      Lay flat on your back. Place your hands behind your head, and your feet flat on the floor. Pull your shoulders away from the mat. Make sure you don’t pull your head forward with your arms but rather keep your gaze upward and use your hand for neck support only. Lower yourself back to the mat.

      High Knees
      Start standing and begin jogging in place lifting your knees as high as possible.


      Jumping Jacks
      Starting standing with feet together and arms straight by your sides. Jump up and spread your arms and legs wide as you land. Jump up again to return to center.

      Lunge
      Take a big step forward with your left foot, bend your knees and lower your body until both legs form 90-degree angles. Push off with your left foot and stand back up. Do reps, and then repeat on other leg.


      Plank
      Set-up the top of a push-up position with your hands directly below your shoulder. A variation of this is to rest on your forearms with elbows directly beneath shoulders. Hold your body completely straight by engaging your abs. If you can’t hold the plank for the full duration, work up to it. Form is more important the length of time: don’t drop your hips or raise your butt.

      Pushup
      Lay on your belly with hand flat on the floor on either side, forearms perpendicular to the floor. Stiffen body and literally push yourself away from the ground, hinging at the toes. When arms are straight hold and with control release your body, hover above the ground and repeat.

      Squat
      Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, arms by sides, Squat slowly until both knees are bent 90 degrees and raise arms straight to shoulder level in front of you. Immediately rise out of squat, returning to standing with arms by side.

      Tricep Dip
      Find an elevated surface such as a step, a coffee table over a chair. Place your palms on the surface directly behind your body. Hold yourself up and gently lower yourself down using your arms. When your arms make a 90-degree angle behind you lift yourself back up to the starting position.

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      Leave a comment: What kind of exercises do you enjoy?  How do you fit workouts into your busy schedule?