How Do I Start Exercising At Home?

IMG_1192Some people need the accountability of meeting a workout partner or attending a scheduled class or training appointment. Some people aren’t motivated to exercise once they’re home and their couch and pjs are calling to them!

However, many people love the flexibility and privacy of home workouts. And no locker room cooties! That’s reason enough for me!

If you want to workout at home, either full time or as a supplement to your gym routine, it’s not hard to get started.

  1. Make sure you have a dedicated space to exercise. I’m not saying you have to have your own in-house gym room complete with a rubber floor and mirrors but, designating the spare bedroom or the family room or even the backyard if the weather cooperates will help you stay focused. And having a designated place to keep any equipment you have is also a good idea. If you plan on streaming workouts online, make sure you can easily see the screen.
  2. Figure out what you already have available. A set of stairs you can run up and down? A sturdy bench you can jump on? A device to stream workout videos on? Once you know what you have, you can decide what to do with it.
  3. Pick your exercises. A mix of cardio type exercises and strength exercises will make for a well-rounded program. To get you started, pick a variety of exercises from each column below and mix up the order for a great workout. Do each exercise for 1 minute moving through your list. When you’re done, stretch a little or rest 1 minute and go through it again for a longer workout. Do this 3-4 times per week.  

Screen Shot 2018-09-21 at 12.45.45 PM

Alternatively, you can stream an exercise video. Anything from yoga to high intensity interval training. This is a great way to mix it up. FitnessBlender.com has a full library of videos for all kinds of workouts. You can also do a straight cardio workout by going for a run or hike or running up and down your flight of stairs.

4. Finally, if you are interested in getting some equipment, start simple. You can get a very effective workout with just a jump rope and a kettlebell. A resistance band set is portable and takes up very little space and a medicine ball isn’t much bigger than a soccer ball.

That’s all there is to it! Home workouts don’t have to be complicated but they can be powerfully effective…and fun.

Happy Exercising!

Advertisements

What Fitness Equipment Should I Buy?

As a fitness professional, I get questions about lots of different topics.

One of which is….

“What fitness equipment should I buy to use at home?”

There are so many ways I could answer this question. I don’t suggest that anyone HAS to buy fitness equipment in order to get a good workout. Bodyweight workouts are great and you can use stairs, park benches or the curb out front to workout and never spend a cent. 

Or you could spend thousands setting up a home gym.

If you’re looking to expand your home workout routine without taking out a second mortgage, here are some items that pack a big exercise punch without pounding your budget.

A yoga mat is a good general piece of equipment even if you’re not into morning vinyasa. You can use it for stretching or foam rolling (Which I highly recommend, by the way!). You can also use it as a base for doing other activities to protect your hardwood floors or keep from slipping on tile. Yoga mats are very portable too so if you decide to workout outside you can keep your butt out of the dirt.

Resistance bands are a great addition to bodyweight workouts or a great alternative to dumbbells. They take up very little space and like a yoga mat, are very portable. And if you think bands won’t provide heavy enough resistance to give you a good workout, think again! You can get a killer full body workout with a couple of bands, attached handles and a door jam attachment.

A jumprope. Yep, a simple jumprope. If you haven’t jumped rope since elementary school I want you to go immediately to the nearest toy store or dollar store and grab a jumprope for a few bucks. You don’t need a high-speed, fancy sports rope. Just a simple rope with a decent set of handles and you can get a workout that will kick your ass!

Kettlebells are a little bit more of an investment than the other items on this list but you can get a wide range of exercises with two or three bells in varying weights. They can be used in similar ways as dumbbells but take up less space. Some of my favorite exercises with a kettlebell are squats (I like any kind of squat, really!), overhead presses and swings.

My personal home gym happens to have a lot of equipment in it. I know, I know…I advocate no equipment, bodyweight workouts all time, how can this be? Most of my equipment was given to me or bought second hand or at deep discounts – thank you Sports Authority going-out-of-business sale. And it has taken me many years to acquire all the equipment I have. If you’re just starting out working out at home then you can definitely do it with nothing or just a few pieces and add to your home gym over time when the opportunity arises.

Happy Exercising!

Note: This post contains affiliate links

Workout…RECOVER…Repeat

(affiliate links included in this post)

The older I get, the important recovery time has become for me. In my mid 40’s, my workouts can still be intense but my recovery takes sooooo much longer. Like, A LOT longer! Some days I get out of bed and feel like I’m 100 years old!

20 years ago I could go for a run, grab a bagel and a shower and go about my day. And do it all over again the next day and the next and so on. Not anymore!

As we age it takes our muscles longer to repair themselves from the damage we do during hard training. I hate to admit this but it’s reality.

Besides an extra rest day here and there (and a nap) I use several tools that help me recover a little faster and get me ready to move again.

My hip and hamstring flexibility is abysmal. It always has been, my high school track coach can confirm this. I’ve never been able to reach my toes.

fullsizeoutput_1ee1

Just. Can’t. Reach!

So I use a Stretch Out Strap. It helps me stretch, and hold the stretch, with good form without bouncing around and I can use the loops to slowly stretch deeper as I loosen up. I’m never going to be Olympic gymnast-flexible but the Stretch Out Strap helps me be a slightly looser version of the Tin Man.

I have very high arches that get tight and sore sometimes so this Sportline Recovery Massage Stick works great for that. It also works well on tight muscles to work out the kinks.

My Fitness Gear foam roller is my new favorite piece of equipment. I think I love it more than my treadmill! I use it for self massage on my calves, hamstrings, quads and hips after a hard run and for a few minutes at night when I’m winding down. It’s done a lot of good for my tight hip flexors.

These tools along with rest, lots of water and good food help me feel less like I’m 100 and more like I’m 45!

Happy Exercising!

How to Prep for the Grocery Store

shopping-1232944_1280

We’ve all heard the saying that health is 80% nutrition and 20% exercise, right? I don’t know if those numbers are right but I do know that nutrition and exercise work together and it’s difficult to have a well rounded healthy lifestyle if you only focus on one part. That’s not to say you have to do everything at once. For example, you can take a month or two to focus on establishing a good exercise routine before you worry about changing your eating habits. But eventually, to work towards your best health, you’ll need a combination of good exercise and good nutrition.

Once you’re ready to focus on nutrition, what do you do? I had a friend recently tell me she was standing in the grocery store just looking at the shelves and not knowing what to buy. So here are a few tips to get you started if you’re not sure what the heck to do.

  1. Make a list of fruits and vegetables you like. Don’t try to “force” yourself to eat things you don’t like just because you’ve heard they’re healthy. (I’m looking at you, kale!) You’ll be miserable and won’t stick to it. If you don’t like the texture of Lima beans, don’t put them on the list. If peeling oranges seems like a lot of work for a little piece of fruit, then don’t put them on the list. A healthy diet has lots of fruits and vegetables so make that the bulk of your list but you can also add things like nuts, seeds and beans. (Link to webpage)
  2. Find some recipes or prep techniques for the list you just made. Maybe you find some fruit smoothie recipes that look interesting. Or maybe a vegetable side dish recipe or a bean salad that looks good. Having a plan for what you buy will cut down on waste and help you feel better prepared for the week.
  3. Make a list of your favorite meals and think of ways to make them a bit healthier. Do you love toast with your eggs in the morning? Spread it with mashed avocado or natural peanut butter instead of butter. or make it with whole grain bread. Can you add some pureed or shredded vegetables to one of your favorite dishes? Can you cut down on a sauce or some cheese in a recipe? 
  4. Some people do detailed meal planning and prep every week. If this works for you, especially at the beginning, then go for it. Write down all your meals and snacks for the week and build your shopping list from that. Personally, I plan my family’s dinners but breakfast, lunches and snacks are not usually planned out. I try to have a couple of options available. For example, my kids like cereal, fruit, bagels, oatmeal, yogurt and eggs so I have all of those available for them to choose from for breakfast.
  5. Think outside the box. You don’t have to have breakfast food for breakfast or sandwiches for lunch. A salad of baby spinach, chopped apples, walnuts and dried cranberries makes a great breakfast! And I eat oatmeal or cereal at any time of the day.
  6. It can be challenging to stay away from processed food but also keep things convenient. There’s nothing wrong with some prepackaged, processed foods as long as you pay attention to ingredients and as long as you’re not making these items your primary source of nutrition. Fruit and nut granola bars are easy to stash in your bag or desk for an afternoon snack or for your commute home. Whole-grain crackers and cheese slices or pretzels and hummus are good too. Precut vegetables make it easy to throw together a salad for lunch or dinner. Jarred marinara sauce makes an easy topping for chicken or pasta and you can add shredded vegetables to boost its nutritional value. Canned beans or soups or frozen vegetables are good to keep on hand as well.
  7. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. The middle aisles are usually where all the pre-packaged junk food is. Stick to the perishable sections like produce, the meat and dairy case and the bakery department. Pre-cooked chicken or packaged, marinated meats can make putting a meal together quick and easy but stay away from processed meats like lunch meat and hotdogs. Choose low-fat dairy options or non-dairy like almond milk. If you like yogurt, choose brands with real fruit that provide some sweetness instead of added sugar. Whole grain or Ezekiel bread make quick, healthy sandwiches or toast.

Unless you’re an elite athlete training for a competition or under strict doctor’s orders, you don’t need to make yourself crazy over your food. Focus on fruits and vegetables and use common sense.

Happy Exercising!

Home Step Workout

Working out at home allows me a lot of flexibility with my schedule but can sometimes be limiting since I only have a certain amount of equipment. I get creative with things around the house, such as a step or fireplace hearth. This is a simple but very effective workout. It left we wiped out with my legs feeling like Jell-O!

Make sure you have a sturdy step and that you plant your feet solidly on the step when you’re working out.

1 minute of walking step-ups.

Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 12.34.19 PM

1 minute of running step-ups.

Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 12.37.30 PM

30 reps of alternating lunges.

Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 12.38.27 PM

30 reps of angled push-ups.

 

Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 12.42.58 PM

Another 1 minute of running step-ups.

30 reps of side squats. Switch sides halfway through.

Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 12.40.08 PM

30 reps of tricep dips.

Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 12.41.38 PM

Another 1 minute of running step-ups.

Another 1 minute of walking step-ups.

I repeat this circuit 2-3 times depending on how much time I have and how I feel.

Happy Exercising!

 

 

Last Minute Valentine Gifts for Your Fit Significant Other

fullsizeoutput_1d4f

Yes, I know Valentine’s Day is in two days but, if you need a last minute gift idea, here are a few for the fit-minded person in your life. Or if you just want to treat yourself!

  1. Edible Arrangements. Flowers and chocolates are so overrated but a fresh fruit arrangement is unique and a bit healthier than that heart-shaped box of candy!
  2. Beeline Bike Compass. This little device is so simple to use. Just clip it to your bike and follow the arrow! It makes your trip safer by being less distracting then trying to follow a map on your phone. It has two different modes depending on how you want to use it. It also has a built-in clock, speedometer and odometer to track the stats of your ride.
  3. Soundsport Free Wireless Headphones by Bose. For a truly wireless workout experience, these in-ear headphones are perfect. You can keep your phone in your pocket or strapped to your arm or in the cup holder of the stair climber. It doesn’t matter because there are no wires to organize or move out of the way. These headphones will keep the beat no matter what type of workout your loved one is doing.
  4. Simple Green Smoothies. This book is the perfect gift for anyone who likes making their own healthy smoothies. Or for someone who wants to make their own but isn’t sure where or how to start. The book includes a wide variety of recipes, including kid-friendly ones (always a plus!) and information on useful equipment, shopping lists and much more.

Happy Exercising!

Restaurant and Party Tips

The month of February for me includes several close family members birthdays so it got me thinking about eating out and attending parties. I thought these tips might be helpful for you guys as well!

restaurant-449952_1280

  1. Check the menu in advance. Many restaurants now list their menus, including ingredients and nutrition information, online. Having a good idea of what you want before you go makes things less stressful. Of course, you might not be able to get an advance peak at the menu for a party, especially if its pot luck but if you know the  host very well you could ask a few strategic questions.
  2. If you are attending a pot luck party, make sure your contribution is something that fits with your nutrition plan and something you like. Then you know there will be at lease one thing for you!
  3. Think about your drinks. Certainly indulge in a good glass of wine or a fancy drink if its a celebration but make sure you drink some water too. You want to be able to enjoy the great food so don’t fill up on liquid calories.
  4. Get your veggies. Start your restaurant meal with a salad and if you can choose the sides for your meal, make sure to pick a vegetable, and no, french fries don’t count! If you’re at a party, hit the vegetable tray first.
  5. Enjoy yourself! This is the most important tip. There are lots of additional little tips I could tell you, like…dressing on the side, have the server remove the bread, packs doggie bag right away, blah, blah, blah…but honestly, if you’re at a party or out to dinner, just relax and enjoy yourself. One meal is not going to make or break your overall fitness plan. One caveat: If you eat out A LOT then don’t celebrate every time!

Happy Exercising!