4 Minimalist Moves for Do Anywhere Workouts

Did you know that 3 in 4 Americans claim their schedules are too packed for exercise? Not exactly an earth-shattering revelation though, since most of us have used that fallback when unavoidable time commitments‚ÄĒor urgent Netflix binges‚ÄĒhappen.

But, among¬†the¬†self-described “Super Busy,” about 60% indicated they’d exercise more often if they could do so at home.¬†Well, sure….makes sense. I mean, half the battle is¬†finding motivation to (a)¬†invest in a gym membership then¬†(b)¬†get your money’s worth from said membership.

I’m no stranger to the price tag of¬†staying in shape. Lemme tell you‚ÄĒPure Barre classes cost a pretty penny! Fitness is an expense I’ll willingly take on…but just once a week, thanks. My twenty-something budget can’t handle much¬†more! So, what’s a girl to do those other 6 days?

Enter: the TKO Ab Stretch 4-Way Resistance Band.¬†This affordable‚ÄĒwe’re talking $12.99‚ÄĒtwist on gym-quality equipment makes strength training accessible for anyone¬†who can’t spare gym-quality payments.

4 way resistance bands

With adjustable tension to customize your resistance level and a portable design for on-the-go convenience, low maintenance finally meets effective. TKO Ab Stretch targets the core, arm and back for a full-body circuit that develops muscle tone, promotes strength and increases flexibility.

Courtesy of¬†this gotta-have gadget, your home‚ÄĒor anywhere, for that matter‚ÄĒworkout¬†regimen can be as simple and straightforward as the¬†examples below (thanks¬†to my sister Victoria for being a topnotch fitness model)!

Deltoid Raises

resistance band arm exercise 1

  1. Place 2 of the resistance band loops around your feet, and grip the other 2 loops with your hands.
  2. Stand with your legs about shoulder-width apart, or wide enough to create tension on the cord.
  3. Engage your abdominal muscles and keep them taut throughout the remaining steps.
  4. Lower your arms to each side then, with a slow and controlled motion, raise them outstretched into a T-position.
  5. Hold this stance for 5 seconds, while keeping your shoulders relaxed, then lower your arms back down.
  6. Complete 20 more repetitions of steps 1-5.

Bicep Curls

reistance band arm exercise 2

  1. Place 2 of the resistance band loops around your feet, and grip the other 2 loops with your hands.
  2. Stand with your legs about shoulder-width apart, or wide enough to create tension on the cord.
  3. Engage your abdominal muscles and keep them taut throughout the remaining steps.
  4. Stretch your arms into a low V-position, with your elbows facing down, then curl them upward toward your shoulders.
  5. Hold this stance for about 5 seconds, keeping your shoulders relaxed, then lower your arms back down.
  6. Complete 20 more repetitions of steps 1-5.

Forearm Extensions

resistance band arm exercise 3

  1. Place 2 of the resistance band loops around your feet, and grip the other 2 loops with your hands.
  2. Stand with your legs about shoulder-width apart, or wide enough to create tension on the cord.
  3. Engage your abdominal muscles and keep them taut throughout the remaining steps.
  4. Lower your arms to each side then, with a slow and controlled motion, extend them parallel in front of your body.
  5. Hold this stance for about 5 seconds, keeping your shoulders relaxed, then lower your arms back down.
  6. Complete 20 more repetitions of steps 1-5.

Deltoid Pulses

resistance band arm exercise 4

  1. Place 2 of the resistance band loops around your feet, and grip the other 2 loops with your hands.
  2. Stand with your legs about shoulder-width apart, or wide enough to create tension on the cord.
  3. Engage your abdominal muscles and keep them taut throughout the remaining steps.
  4. Lower your arms in front of your body then, with a sweeping motion, raise them outstretched into an inverted V-position.
  5. Move your upper arms in small pulses, while keeping your shoulders relaxed, for about 5 seconds then lower your arms back down.
  6. Complete 20 more repetitions of steps 1-5.

So, now I wanna hear from YOU. Ever tried a resistance band circuit? Know any more¬†“minimalist moves,” involving this equipment? Comment with your¬†favorite¬†strength training tips!


Special thanks to TKO for letting me test out this awesome product. Follow this dynamic fitness gear brand on Instagram @TKO_WhateverItTakes and use the hashtag #WhatEverItTakes.

 

A Groom’s Take on “Sweating for the Wedding”

If you follow me on social media, you might’ve noticed my not-so-subtle references to recently getting engaged. BUT, if you follow almost any engaged woman on social media, you’ll be hard pressed to escape #SweatingForTheWedding posts.

In fact, this Instagram search yields 171,277 results‚ÄĒtalk about a staggering number of body conscious brides-to-be! Yet, with all the emphasis placed on that “feminine ideal,” who could blame them?!

Since I’ve been tempted to dabble in said fitness fad (hellllooooo…this girl’s gotta fit into an Alfred Angelo dress 8 months from now!), I enlisted my future hubby for his stance on the subject. Thus, our discussion became a blog post.

Check it out, bridal beauties, straight from a guy’s POV:

Sweating for the Wedding

image courtesy of CNDY via Flickr Creative Commons  (changes have been made)

I’m fairly new to this whole “Sweating for the Wedding” thing. In fact, I didn’t even know it existed until my fianc√© brought me up to speed once I put a ring on her finger.

Now, after Googling the phrase, I can attest that “Sweating for the Wedding” has indeed gone viral. Brides can get dri-fit shirts with this hashtag printed across the front. There are even water bottles, car decals, sweat bands and more, urging women to jump on the bandwagon.

Listen, I’m all about exercising and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but I also feel this trend could send a harmful message to some women‚ÄĒespecially those who struggle with insecurities surrounding weight or body image.

Not to mention, if these insecurities are triggered by stress, they’ll escalate into overdrive once those wedding plans get underway. I’ve only been engaged for about a month, yet I can already vouch for all the time, energy and craziness that goes into this process. So, with the added pressure of sculpting that “perfect bod”…well, you’re eventually gonna crack.

While there’s nothing wrong with prioritizing fitness, “Sweating for the Wedding” is not a prerequisite for marriage. Your future husband already finds you sexy. He wouldn’t have pursued you in the first place if he wasn’t sexually attracted, right? Exactly. You’ve got nothing to prove.

Men are visual creatures. I am a man, so I’ll freely admit this. But I can also assure you that any guy, who kneels down and proposes, thinks the girl standing in front of him is drop-dead gorgeous. She’s the only woman he sees‚ÄĒguaranteed.

Anyone, who’s anxiously anticipating their wedding day, wants to turn their spouse’s head. However, when this goal manifests itself through extreme workout regimens, it could result in serious physical damage.

I hope my fianc√© knows that her appearance and physique will never disappoint me. From my‚ÄĒokay, biased‚ÄĒviewpoint, she’s the most beautiful woman alive, and my jaw will drop when I see her walk down the aisle. She doesn’t need to impress me…or anyone else, for that matter.  

Same goes for you other brides out there. Imagine how your husband will perceive you that day. After all, his devotion isn’t only surface-deep.

And, if you opt to workout beforehand, make it a bonding activity for both of you. Be each other’s accountability partner, so‚ÄĒrather than just “Sweating for the Wedding”‚ÄĒyou’ll discover positive motivation for long-term health.  No hashtag needed.

******

Can you see why I’m marrying him, ladies? The dude’s a keeper (and my self-esteem levels concur)!

engagement 1

I’m painfully awkward sometimes.

engagement 2

But at least we clean up good.

 

Crunching the Numbers for Your Healthiest 2016

We’re 3 weeks into the New Year, people. How are those resolutions going?

Is your will-power a force to be reckoned with, or does¬†your lack of motivation beg the question, “why even keep up this charade?”

Or, maybe you’re like me and would rather¬†take a neutral stance on this whole “resolution” business. I believe in setting (and achieving!) positive intentions for self-improvement…but those stereotypical “must-fit-into-skinny-jeans-by-such-and-such-arbitrary-date” goals?¬†Hard pass.

In order for any lifestyle change to have staying power, it’s gotta be 3 things‚ÄĒrealistic,¬†¬†fulfilling and¬†sustainable.¬†

Exhibit A: “I will lose 15 pounds before bikini season.” Slim¬†chance for long-term success. No action plan whatsoever…just wishful thinking,¬†fueled by¬†body shame. And, ultimately¬†doomed to fail.

Exhibit B:¬†“I will engage in regular physical exertion¬†and choose¬†whole foods over processed ingredients because my health takes priority.” Now, this meets all the¬†requirements for success. A clearly stated initiative with tangible benefits and definitive follow-through potential. Ding…ding…ding. We have a winner!

So, in the interest of tackling¬†realistic, fulfilling and sustainable¬†(yep, those magic words are back!) wellness goals throughout 2016, I’ve teamed up with Chobani Simply 100¬ģ Crunch¬†and their “crunch the numbers” fitness campaign.

You don’t need an expensive gym membership or unlimited free time to add more movement into your daily grind. If you’ve got a body and about 30 spare minutes, these 100 calorie-burning activities will be right up your alley. Take that, New Year’s¬†resolutions! (mic drop‚ÄĒoptional.)

12 fun ways to burn 100 calories

Special thanks to¬†Chobani for providing the infographic¬†featured in this post. I’m proud to support their Crunch the Numbers campaign to “live life lighter” throughout¬†2016.

Why Your Body Could Use a Healthy Protein Boost {Infographic}

If you’ve ever researched the health and fitness industry, you probably know how much conflicting data exists in that minefield of information.

On every website, self-appointed nutrition gurus peddle superfood products, fitspiration¬†tips and wellness¬†insight. But with all these contradictory “expert” opinions, it’s tough determining right versus wrong.

Today’s hot debate revolves around high protein diets, and whether they are beneficial or detrimental to your health.

First, it’s worth noting that this term often refers to a bodybuilder’s average protein intake, which can exceed¬†400 grams per¬†day.¬†Bodybuilding supplements¬†help achieve this objective, but that amount is unnecessary for people working toward routine fitness goals.

Therefore, the data referenced in this infographic explores numerous health benefits from eating¬†1–1.5 protein grams per pound of body weight. Consuming this target amount, while maintaining a balanced and nutrient-dense diet, will help yield the results shown below.

health benefits of a high protein diet

Note: The majority of your protein should come from various whole food sources, rather than relying solely on supplements.


Special thanks to Bodybuilding Warehouse for providing the research, content and infographic for this post.

Back-to-Barre Basics, Anyone?

Throughout these past several months,¬†I’ve become a Barre Believer. And why’s that? Well, because week after (grueling yet habit-forming) week, this fitness program¬†works its transformative powers on my entire body.

Based on scientific findings that small, precise isometric motions exert more effort on those hard-to-reach muscle groups, the Barre workout effectively develops a lean physique without the high intensity impact of other resistance training regimens.

In case you’re unfamiliar, Barre combines various elements from ballet, yoga and Pilates. Classes generally take place inside a dance studio, but with some ingenuity, you can practice without even leaving the house.

The following Barre-approved exercises sculpt noticeable full-body results, regardless of skill or activity level. All you gotta do is just lift…tone…burn.

Aaaaaand, go!
barre moves you can do at home

Tone the Arms:

*You’ll need 3- or 5-pound dumbbells to perform these exercises.

  • Elevated Hammer Curls¬†(targets¬†Biceps)
barre bicep exercise

If you’re too cheap for actual weights (like me!), improvise with water bottles

  1. Stand with your feet parallel, about shoulder-width apart, and bend your knees slightly.
  2. Keep your back straight, shoulders relaxed, core engaged and hips tucked inward.
  3. Raise your arms to shoulder-level and straighten your elbows, with both palms facing each other.
  4. Curl your right forearm back toward your shoulder, while keeping your upper arm stable at the elbow.
  5. Return your right forearm to its initial position, then repeat step 4 with your left forearm.
  6. Perform this move with  alternating arms for 20 repetitions, making sure they both remain steady and elevated.
  • Back Arm Lift (targets¬†Triceps)

barre tricep exercise

  1. Stand with your feet parallel, about shoulder-width apart, and bend your knees slightly.
  2. Hinge your upper body forward at the waist, so your back is inclined at a moderate angle.
  3. Keep your shoulders relaxed, core engaged and hips tucked inward.
  4. Extend your arms straight behind you and straighten your elbows, with both palms facing each other.
  5. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, while making sure both arms stay entirely stable.
  6. Keep your shoulders engaged and lift both forearms with controlled movements toward mid-level.
  7. Alternate repeating steps 5-6 for 20 repetitions, making sure your arms remain steady and elevated.

Trim the Thighs:

*You’ll need a chair or tall step-stool to¬†perform this exercise.

  • Parallel Pli√© Pulse¬†(targets Adductors & Quadriceps)

barre thigh exercise

  1. Stand elbow-distance behind the chair and position your legs parallel, touching at the knees and feet.
  2. Hold onto the chair back with a light grip and elevate to your highest tiptoe point.
  3. Bend your knees into a deep plié, keeping your hips tucked inward and inner thighs squeezed together.
  4. Hold this position for 5 seconds, then raise up halfway before lowering back into a deep plié.
  5. Repeat step 4 for 20 repetitions, making sure your thigh muscles remain tightly engaged.

Tuck the Butt:

*You’ll need a chair or tall step-stool to¬†perform this exercise.

  • Leg Bend Press (targets Gluteus)

barre glute exercise

  1. Cross your forearms, folded at the elbows, across the chair back, then rest your head on them.
  2. Tuck your hips inward until your back is flat and extend your right leg out behind you.
  3. Bend your right knee and flex the foot, squeezing your right glute to engage the lower muscle pocket.
  4. Lift your right leg with controlled movements, while making sure your back and hips remain stable.
  5. Return your right leg to its initial position and press it straight outward before bending your knee again.
  6. Repeat steps 4-5, alternating between lifting and straightening your right leg, for 15 repetitions.
  7. Switch to your left leg and perform this move on the other side for an additional 20 repetitions.

Tighten the Core:

*You’ll need a chair or tall step-stool to¬†perform this exercise.

  • Elevated Plank (targets Obliques & Rectus Abdominus)
barre core exercise

a chair works better for this move than a stool

  1. Place your hands, palm-down, on the chair seat and lock your elbows to support the upper body weight.
  2. Flatten your back on a slight incline and engage your core to produce a standing plank position.
  3. Stretch your right leg straight out behind you along the same plane as your back, then point your toes.
  4. Raise your left foot onto its highest tiptoe point and tighten your thighs to keep the lower body stable.
  5. Bend your right knee into your chest, rounding your spine to scoop the abs deeply inward.
  6. Hold this position for 5 seconds, then extend your right leg straight out behind you again.
  7. Repeat steps 5-6 for 20 repetitions, making sure the core and thigh muscles remain tightly engaged.
  8. Switch to your left leg and perform this move on the other side for an additional 20 repetitions.

Balancing the Crucial Connection Between Fitness & Nutrition

Due to the gradual development of poor lifestyle choices, such as unhealthy diet and irregular exercise, numerous Americans have begun exhibiting risk factors for high blood glucose, metabolic syndrome, cellular oxidative stress and other conditions associated with inadequate nutrition intake and fitness levels.

While the average person knows that consistent physical exertion must be sustained by wholesome eating habits, and vise versa, this balancing act is often difficult to maintain.

In a culture that values pre-packaged convenience over freshly prepared quality, many people consume an overabundance of artificial preservatives, toxic chemicals, saturated fats and refined sugars. These heavily processed ingredients cause unwelcome weight gain and can result in various medical concerns.

In addition, many people also lack the motivation to incorporate vigorous activity into their daily routines, so when combined with nutrient deficiency, a sedentary lifestyle could trigger the premature onset of serious cardiovascular issues.

To protect your body from these health hazards, practice eating whole foods and exercising every day until doing so becomes a ritual that no longer requires conscious effort.

Healthy eating woman holding a salad and smiling - isolated over white

A well-rounded diet includes plant-based proteins (e.g. beans, lentils, raw nuts, non-dairy milk); lean meats ‚Äď unless you‚Äôre a vegetarian, of course! ‚Äď (e.g. chicken, turkey, fish); whole grains (e.g. oats, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, spelt); low-sugar fruits (e.g. berries, avocados, papayas, oranges, melons); and leafy green vegetables (e.g. kale, spinach, broccoli, Swiss chard, lettuce).

These powerhouses contain essential nutrients, naturally-occurring chemicals, antioxidants and beneficial fats, rather than those harmful ingredients found in a typical fast food meal.

The other ‚Äúpuzzle piece‚ÄĚ ‚Äď habitual movement ‚Äď combines aerobic (e.g. running, cycling, swimming, dancing, kickboxing) and anaerobic (e.g. weight lifting, push-ups, squats, crunches, resistance yoga) training.

Together, both disciplines promote muscle tone, cardiovascular strength, skeletal resilience, flexibility, endurance and physical energy. Your body needs these wellness properties to function optimally, experience longevity, and build defenses against illness or injury.

Becoming committed to proper fitness and nutrition can mean the difference between healthy aging and chronic disease development. However, the ultimate decision is yours: would you rather feel vibrant, active and nourished at the cellular level?

Or, are you content to keep avoiding exercise, frequenting the drive-through window and, potentially, suffering from metabolic syndrome or other weight-related complications?


Huge thanks to Nutri Lifescience, LLC, for supplying the research, content and graphics for this post.

Hippie in the City: 5 Ways to Stay Active While Visiting NYC

In a definitive ranking of things I’m most passionate about, the order goes:

  1. New York City
  2. Everything Else

Although my first time actually experiencing the city didn’t happen until a couple years ago, I’ve spent¬†my whole¬†life daydreaming about living there¬†(all you native New Yorkers are probably rolling your eyes right now!).

And, full disclosure: I will¬†live there someday. Once I’ve successfully convinced Amy Poehler that¬†we’re second-cousins-once-removed. Meanwhile though, I’ll settle for weekend visits¬†— against¬†my bank account’s better judgement. But, hey…no regrets!

In fact, I just¬†got back from spending Labor Day in New York, and as per usual, New York did not¬†disappoint. I could write an entire novel about¬†my trip, but rather than a gratuitous “I heart NY” recap, let’s give this post¬†a wellness twist. ‘Cause I’m always on the lookout for healthy tidbits, after all.

So, if you’re planning a Big Apple getaway this fall, include my Top 5 Picks for Figure-Friendly Fun¬†in your travel itinerary:

1. Rent a Citi Bike

Citi Bikes 1

my cycling-obsessed main squeeze!

Citi Bikes 2

Citi Bike central

This cycle-sharing transit system allows you to cruise the Manhattan streets from a two-wheeler vantage point. Simply stop by any docking station (located in various neighborhoods around town), select your payment plan (24-hour or 7-day) from the touchscreen kiosk, pedal away on a Concrete Jungle adventure, then return the bike to another station along your route.  Exercise + Sightseeing = Win-Win Situation.

2. Check out Chelsea Market

Chelsea Market 1

this way to pure happiness

Chelsea Market 2

so many choices!

Chelsea Market 3

Japanese lentil & rice bowl from Takumi Taco

This enclosed¬†food court, flea market and art gallery extravaganza might just be the Meatpacking District’s trendiest attraction. Located inside a brick industrial building, the urban¬†architecture, artsy vibe and tantalizing smells make Chelsea Market a can’t-miss on your NYC agenda. Over 35 restaurant vendors are featured, running the gamut from kale smoothies to imported cheese. I recommend Takumi Taco¬†(a.k.a.¬†Japanese-Mexican-fusion-amazingness).

3. Walk the High Line

The High Line 1

amazing views of the Lower West Side

The High Line 2

historic freight railway

The High Line 3

Hudson River from the High Line

The High Line 4

Empire State Building from the High Line

The High Line 5

selfie with graffiti!

This above-ground walkway meandering through Manhattan’s West Side is actually a refurbished freight line. Ogle at¬†panoramic spectacles including¬†Lady Liberty, the Hudson River, the Empire State Building and other iconic landmarks. Traipse¬†along old railroad tracks, bursting with seasonal foliage and colorful blooms. Even participate in wellness activities such as Meditation or Tai Chi. Because life’s better¬†over street level!

4. Explore the Parks

Central Park

the happy couple in Central Park…

Bryant Park

…in Bryant Park

Washington Square Park

…and in Washington Square Park

These next stopping points on your Big Apple checklist offer¬†a unique juxtaposition of nature surrounded by skyline. From¬†iconic Central to shore-lined Battery, the thriving New York park system provides ample space for¬†hiking, cycling, recharging with fresh air and even¬†relaxing in the shade. Whether you’re uptown or downtown, this sprawling¬†metropolis¬†is also a tree-hugger’s playground.

5. Visit a Green Market 

Green Market 1

all the veggies!

Green Market 2

seasonal…local…delectable

This urban farmer’s market initiative takes place during the entire week,¬†throughout various city-wide districts. My personal preference is visiting the Union Square location on Saturdays. Sample organic herbal teas, stock up on locally-sourced produce and peruse artisan “foodie” finds. It’s a health-conscious flavor tour that both your waistline and taste buds will appreciate. ¬†‘Nuff said.

Know any other¬†wellness-centric¬†activities worth adding to the list? (Looking at you, New Yorker peeps…) Sound off in the comments section below!¬†