Embracing the Mombod and overcoming postpartum

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Why and how to do a proper lunge

Do you lunge, tho? Most clients tell me they hate lunges, which is exactly why I make them do them. But the reason behind lunging can be misunderstood. Also, form is everything in order to avoid injury. Lunges are one of the hardest single-leg exercises out there but they are important for endurance athletes, from…

Why and how to do a proper lunge was originally published on Self Evolve

Do you lunge, tho?

Most clients tell me they hate lunges, which is exactly why I make them do them. But the reason behind lunging can be misunderstood. Also, form is everything in order to avoid injury. Lunges are one of the hardest single-leg exercises out there but they are important for endurance athletes, from runners and hikers to cyclists and climbers. Lunges improve unilateral leg strength which is critical for navigating trails, maximizing agility, and preventing muscular imbalances. Also, doing that lunge uses the body’s stabilizer muscles from the leg all the way up to the core.

Sore knees

A lot of athletes and people in general struggle with lunges due to sore knees. The traditional upright lunge is a quad-dominant exercise, meaning you’re putting more stress on the front of your thighs-knees included- than on anything else. But by taking a bigger step with each rep and allowing your torso to angle forward as much as 45 degrees, you can transfer some of the stress from your quads to your glutes, alleviating joint pressure. “Strength in the posterior chain, specifically the glutes, is important for pristine running mechanics and horsepower to make you faster for a race” according to Erica Suter, a Baltimore-based strength and conditioning coach.

Here are the five best lunge variations:

  1. Deficit Lunge: Stand tall with feet hip-width apart on a low box or step, holding a dumbbell in each hand down at your sides. From here, take an exaggerated step back with one foot and lower your body until your front thigh is parallel to the floor. Then push through your front heel to raise your back foot to the starting position.
  2. Lateral Lunge and Pulse: Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell by both ends against your chest. Take an exaggerated step to the side with one leg, and allow your torso to hinge forward slightly at the hips. Bend the knee of your stepped-out leg to lower your body until that thigh is parallel to the floor (or as deep as you comfortably can). Extend your arms straight out in front of you, then immediately return the weight to your chest. Push through the heel of your bent leg to raise back to start.
  3. Cursey Lunge: Best one yet! This lunge engages every glute muscle! Stand tall with feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand down at your sides. From here, take an exaggerated step back with one leg and cross it behind your opposite leg. Allowing your torso to hinge forward slightly at the hips, lower your body until your front thigh is parallel to the floor. Then push through your front heel to raise your back foot to start.
  4. Offset Reverse Lunge: Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, holding a kettlebell in one hand down at your side. From here, take an exaggerated step back with the opposite foot and, allowing your torso to hinge forward slightly at the hips, lower your body until your front thigh is parallel to the floor. Then push through your front heel to raise your back foot to start.
  5. Reverse-Forward Lunge: Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, holding a kettlebell by the horns with both hands against your chest. From here, take an exaggerated step back with one foot, and allowing your torso to hinge forward slightly at the hips, lower your body until your front thigh is parallel with the floor. Then push through your front heel to raise your back foot, swinging it all the way through into an exaggerated step forward. Lower once more into a lunge, then push through both feet and straighten your back leg to return to start.

What’s your favorite lunge variation?

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Why and how to do a proper lunge was originally published on Self Evolve

Snack to feel full longer: what to snack on

What do you snack on? Most of us grab what’s convenient: chips, crackers, pretzels, or a box of cookies. While this may seem like a great idea, it is terrible for people like me. I have a HUGE appetite and find that I need an entire box of cookies to feel full. But if I…

Snack to feel full longer: what to snack on was originally published on Self Evolve

What do you snack on?

snackMost of us grab what’s convenient: chips, crackers, pretzels, or a box of cookies. While this may seem like a great idea, it is terrible for people like me. I have a HUGE appetite and find that I need an entire box of cookies to feel full. But if I go for veggies instead of cookies, I can eat way more for way less calories. If you have a huge appetite like me, read on to learn what type of snacks you should snack on.

Nutrition bombs

While cookies and crackers are nutritionally poor, veggies are nutrition bombs. Crackers only offer salt and carbs. Veggies pack macronutrients and antioxidants to boost your energy and immune system. Not only that, they are full of fiber! Fiber is key to feeling full, gut health and comfort, energy levels, and mood. Fiber also prevents belly bloat caused by constipation. Whether you’re trying to lose weight or just eat healthy, think of snack time as an opportunity to fill the holes in your diet that you’re missing with meals alone. Most people don’t get enough veggies and eat too many processed carbs, so this is a great swap!

Snack Hack

Make this choice easier by meal-prepping carrot and celery sticks, sliced peppers and cucumbers, and broccoli and cauliflower florets. Keep stacked veggie containers at eye level in the fridge so they’re as easily accessible as a box of crackers, inspiring you to grab them. I also like to mix up my snacks by adding in peanut butter and raisins or fruit. For example, I will bring celery sticks, sliced apples, and peanut butter for both. Yum!

What types of snacks do you enjoy?

 

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Snack to feel full longer: what to snack on was originally published on Self Evolve

Top rowing mistakes and how to fix them

Rowing is great cardio If you haven’t tried rowing yet, you should. It’s a great form of cardio that hits all the major muscle groups, including your legs, back, and abs. But if not done properly, you can easily injure yourself. Ain’t nobody got time for injuries! These are the top rowing mistakes I see…

Top rowing mistakes and how to fix them was originally published on Self Evolve

Rowing is great cardio

rowingIf you haven’t tried rowing yet, you should. It’s a great form of cardio that hits all the major muscle groups, including your legs, back, and abs. But if not done properly, you can easily injure yourself. Ain’t nobody got time for injuries! These are the top rowing mistakes I see on a daily basis and simple ways to fix them.

Avoid these rowing mistakes

  1. Not checking the damper setting. You’d be surprised at how many people don’t even know what I’m talking about when I mention the damper setting. Many new rowers just start rowing without checking the lever on the side of the air-resistant flywheel. Also, some people will set this too high. It’s ideal to set it between three and five since this is most similar to being on water.
  2.  Rowing with only your arms. Rowers have amazing built upper bodies, so you’re ready to pull the handle with all your might, right? Wrong! Putting too much pressure on your arms, shoulders and back can cause serious injury. About 60 percent of your power should come from pushing with your legs, 20 percent from engaging your core, and 20 percent from pulling with your arms. 
  3. Mixing up the order. Firing the arms and legs at the same time may feel right, but this will put unnecessary strain on your upper body. There’s a three-step process to the rowing stroke. Focus on pushing with the legs first, next pivoting backward at the hips so your shoulders pass your pelvis (you should be in a slight lay back) and then pulling the arms into your chest. A good target for your hands is the place on your chest where you would bench press below your ribs. Once your hands are pulled into your chest, reverse the order to go back to starting position, and repeat.
  4. Hunchback. If you normally round your back when sitting at your desk at work, you’ll likely do the same thing when you sit down at a rower. Focus on turning on your abdominal muscles and relaxing your shoulders so they are pulled down and back. Keep your spine aligned.
  5. Rushing. You’re in the zone, taking strokes as fast as possible towards that imaginary finish line. Problem is, your seat keeps slamming into the front of the rower and your body is jerking forward uncontrollably. To regain control, pay attention to the timing of your strokes. The stroke’s ratio should be a 1:2 count, meaning that the body should expend lots of energy quickly at the drive, while the second half of the stroke should be more relaxed and controlled. Having a calm and collected recovery will prevent your seat from smashing frantically into the front of the rower.

Do you row?

ROW, or Recovery on Water, is a Chicago-based rowing team that gives survivors of breast cancer a unique opportunity to interact, become active in their recovery, and gain support from fellow survivors. Check out these local ROW classes in Bridgeport to up your row game. John A. teaches these classes; who’s a training client and a workout friend of mine.

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Top rowing mistakes and how to fix them was originally published on Self Evolve

Valentine’s day: fitness gifts for your loved one

Today is Valentine’s day. Cupid’s day to go around shooting everyone with arrows. The typical go-to gift is usually a card with either flowers, chocolate or both. But as you become more health-conscious and earth-friendly, you may be struggling with new gift ideas. Well, no fear! For I am here to give you plenty of…

Valentine’s day: fitness gifts for your loved one was originally published on Self Evolve

Today is Valentine’s day. Cupid’s day to go around shooting everyone with arrows. The typical go-to gift is usually a card with either flowers, chocolate or both. But as you become more health-conscious and earth-friendly, you may be struggling with new gift ideas. Well, no fear! For I am here to give you plenty of great fitness and health-friendly gift ideas for your loved one or friends.

Valentine’s day gift ideas

  • Workout outfit. Everyone loves new clothes to workout in. Personally, if I have great clothes to workout in I’m more likely to workout more often. As far as where to go? I’d recommend Athleta, Lulu Lemon, or even Target has some great workout gear.valentine's day
  • Water bottle. Most people don’t drink enough water when working out. What better way to keep your sweetheart hydrated than getting them a large, reusable water bottle for them to bring to the gym.
  • Protein and supplements (i.e. food). I’m all about the food. I literally workout just to eat. And yes I have a problem. I have to make sure I have a good protein shake so I don’t go for the cookies. 
  • Activity tracker. In case you haven’t noticed, I absolutely love my Garmin VivoSmart HR+. I think if I had a boyfriend and he got me an activity tracker as a gift, I may just take him on walks on the beach with me. Or perhaps just walk to the local bakery and get donuts.
  • Gym membership or classes at a local gym or studio. If you have a girl you’re shopping for, I can’t recommend barre classes more. Get her a month of classes to try it out, she may get hooked. If there’s a guy in your life, consider boxing or martial arts classes.

What are you getting your sweetie for Valentine’s day?

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Valentine’s day: fitness gifts for your loved one was originally published on Self Evolve

Don’t be a starter, be a finisher

It’s easy to start.. You start out every year strong. This is the year I’ll… (insert New Year’s Resolution here). You have great intentions. Lose ten pounds, start working out, eat better, write a book, finish that thesis, etc. But how many of us actually finish what we start? Are you a finisher? I’m not…

Don’t be a starter, be a finisher was originally published on Self Evolve

It’s easy to start..

finisherYou start out every year strong. This is the year I’ll… (insert New Year’s Resolution here). You have great intentions. Lose ten pounds, start working out, eat better, write a book, finish that thesis, etc. But how many of us actually finish what we start? Are you a finisher?

I’m not pointing any fingers since I’ve definitely started many projects and goals only to stop and never finish them. It’s easy to start something, but way more satisfying to finish something. To crush that goal, no matter how small. To complete that big project, and be able to move onward and upward. The feeling of accomplishment is indescribable. But sometimes we lose motivation, discipline, or lack knowledge in regards to finishing our goals.

Stay motivated

Motivation is key to finishing any goal or project. If we see results, we tend to stay motivated. For example, if you continue to lose body fat week after week while dieting and exercising, you’ll continue dieting and working out. Staying motivated is one of the biggest hurdles we face. I like to look to positive social media accounts for motivational quotes and images. I try to share them on my social media as well in order to motivate others.

Be disciplined

There will be days where you don’t feel like eating well or working out. There will be days when you don’t feel like working on your projects. But you have to push through the thoughts that are holding you back. Most of the time, it’s mental. If you can push yourself to work towards your goals and projects despite not wanting to, you’ll be making progress towards being a finisher.

Do your research

If you get stuck halfway through your project, do your research. If you’ve been doing the same workout and stop seeing results, look up some new exercises to change your workouts. Research helps us expand our knowledge and make progress in reaching our goals. The more you know, the more you’ll accomplish.

What projects and goals are you working on?

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Don’t be a starter, be a finisher was originally published on Self Evolve

Why everyone needs a personal trainer

One of the main questions I ask every person I meet at my job is if they’ve ever worked with a personal trainer before. And if they have, was it a positive experience. If not, I dig deeper to see why. Most of the time, the response is that it was a great experience where…

Why everyone needs a personal trainer was originally published on Self Evolve

personal trainer

One of the main questions I ask every person I meet at my job is if they’ve ever worked with a personal trainer before. And if they have, was it a positive experience. If not, I dig deeper to see why. Most of the time, the response is that it was a great experience where they were able to reach their goals and have the body they wanted. If they’ve never had a personal trainer, I always ask if they have ever considered getting one. I ask this because I feel like most of us, at one time or another, have thought of hiring a personal trainer to help us achieve our goals. But we may have hesitated, likely over the cost of a trainer. Today I’m going to go over why I feel like everyone needs a personal trainer, at some point(s) in their life.

Why you need a personal trainer

  • Workout planning. “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” Benjamin Franklin had it right. If you go to the gym without a workout plan, you will just be winging it every time. And with that comes a lot of guessing and free-styling it, but also you’ll likely just do the same routine every time they’re at the gym. This isn’t ideal as our bodies get used to the same exercise and you will stop seeing results.
  • Tracking your progress. Most people only track their progress by weighing themselves, but this can be very discouraging. Especially since muscle is more dense than fat, the number on the scale may not change as much as your measurements and body fat. A personal trainer will take your measurements at least once every month or two to verify you’re seeing results.
  • Proper form and technique. Without any prior training or education in relation to exercise, it’s hard to know the proper form and technique for all exercises. Also, it’s hard to know what type of exercises will help you get to your specific goals. That’s where a certified trainer can help immensely.
  • Health advice. In addition to fitness and exercise advice, personal trainers can also help provide overall guidelines in regards to health. While we aren’t nutritionists or dietitians, we can give our clients a general idea of what they should be focusing on when it comes to their diet.
  • Avoid injury. This is huge. The amount of injuries that occur at the gym is substantial. Without proper form and technique, it is easy to hurt yourself. Having a personal trainer to demonstrate and verify that you’re performing exercises correctly mitigates the risk of injury.
  • Accountability & motivation. Having a trainer keeps you accountable. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t pay for a trainer and then not show up to my sessions. Money is a great motivator, and once you start seeing results the motivation will just start pouring in!

Exercise is complex

Exercise isn’t just science, it’s also an art form. The key to exercise is variety, and to know not only the right type of exercise but also the different variations is needed to reach your goals. Without proper knowledge and education, it’s hard to walk into a gym without feeling intimated. Big weights and barbells can scare off anyone. That’s where a trainer comes in.

Have you ever had a trainer? Or do you currently have a trainer?

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Why everyone needs a personal trainer was originally published on Self Evolve