Friday, October 10, 2014

Running on Empty

Running on Empty - My Fit Family

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Somewhere to Grow

While practicing yoga, there is always somewhere to grow: to make a pose more challenging, breathe deeper, to stretch a bit further out of your comfort zone, and into a place of sweet discomfort. Yoga cultivates gentle growing pains as it exerts the muscles rarely utilized in other activities. The growth in your yoga practice can come in various ways. You might be able to hold a balancing pose much longer than the week before. You might try “Crow pose”—using your core and triceps to create a new stepping stone for your body. What is the worst that will happen? That you might fall down? Fall down seven times—back up eight!

  Now, I am not an expert yogi—the following tidbits of advice are what I’ve picked up from yoga instructors and I’m only sharing information that has worked for me to get more out of standard yoga poses and, I hope, will work for you too! 

 "Yogahands" by lululemon athletica - SSC Yoga with Eoin Finn. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

Good Old Fashioned Breathing 

Especially in poses like Child’s Pose, filling your lungs slowly, your “Ujjayi” (pronounced “Oo-jai”) breath should fill your body in three parts: belly, chest, lungs. You should feel like you are filling up with air like a balloon. Then to exhale, your breath will descend downwards from lungs, chest, into the belly. Think of the balloon deflating. Your breath in and out may remind you of the ocean. When you are in Child’s pose, focusing intently on your breathing can help relax your mind and body.

In my experience, those rounds of deep breathing help me to let go of the outside world and to focus inward on my practice. Yoga is internal, mindful, and it all starts with one breath.  Also, I find if I focus on breathing and letting that breath go, I can get further into a stretch on the exhale. Deep “ujjayi” breathing helps me release muscle tension and hopefully gain more suppleness, grace, and serenity. I am not very “Zen,” so I need to deliberately focus in order to “chill out” as my husband regularly recommends that I ought to do;). 

Chaturanga Dandasana   

Often we descend into the Chaturanga, the “yoga push up” pose with elbows pointed outward in a traditional chest-driven push up, which relies on our biceps. It’s fairly easy to gain bicep strength, right?  If you keep your elbows in tight to the body, as though they are glued to your sides, you’ll quickly realize how the focus shifts to the triceps. More of a challenge? Yes. Easier? No. Worth it? Let your tank tops be the judge. While coming down from a yogic push up, stop prior to reaching the floor, (no belly flop), and then pull up into cobra. So, instead of flopping to the floor, then peeling ourselves up, we begin that pull up out of the pose before the pelvis descends to the mat.

 Downward-Facing Dog  

In a standard pose like downward-facing dog, you can focus on the whole body: tucking the belly button in towards the spine, lengthening and strengthening your legs by pedaling with your feet, spreading fingers wide, and trying to keep the spine a straight line. Recently, I learned that by rotating my upper arms externally, which an instructor assisted me with, you feel the position so differently. PopSugar Fitness has some good yoga resources to check out: 


 What about corpse pose, otherwise known as Shavasana? You’re supposed to just lie there, right? How hard can that be? Well, for busy people, giving yourself the permission to just be still and let thoughts float away like balloons at the county fair is tough. It is hard to let go. When I am troubled by concerns during Shavasana, I will take my pointer and middle fingers together to press on the “third eye” (middle of forehead/between the brows) asking for the divine wisdom to release my burdens.

Faith and fear can’t co-exist.

If you are in a balancing tree pose and you are afraid of falling, guess what will happen? Timmm-ber. . . If you have faith that today you can find balance, stretch and wave your lovely branches, well, aren’t you much more likely to hold that pose longer than before? Have faith, not fear. In some ways, yoga is multi-tasking at its finest. I am not overly fond of multi-tasking because I know it will just add to my absent-mindedness (Hey, where did my purse go? Who hid my keys again?!) but this is the best form. Here’s why: there is so much to focus on in a “simple” posture that there is no time for self-consciousness; no room to worry about error. Yoga pushes me to ditch perfectionism at the door-- along with my sneakers.

 With yoga, the goals are to improve, stretch, grow, enhance balance and look within. Don’t we all need more of those goals in our lives? Grab a little piece of Zen, however possible. You deserve it. 


Healthy on the Go

Could you use a few ideas for healthy work lunches? Here are some to try! Check out purse-friendly snacks as well: I always throw a box of raisins, an energy bar or bites, or a piece of fresh fruit in my purse for a quick snack.

Healthy Lunch Ideas for Work That Are Anything But Boring

| Fit Bottomed Girls

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Tasty Chocolatey Energy Bites

 Did Someone Say Chocolate?

Want a quick, chocolatey bite that will give you some much needed protein and energy? Enjoy these before a workout, after a workout, and maybe just as an after-breakfast snack with your coffee. Don't worry, I won't tell anyone;).

Try these tasty morsels. Word to the wise: always soak the dates to make them soft. If there are pits, get them out of there! Don't make the mistake I did, forgetting to de-pit a date or two and hearing a sound like I tossed a shot glass into my food processor. Cringe. Soak the dates in warm water for about ten minutes, while you get your other ingredients ready.

Medjool dates can be pricey so don't be shy about choosing another dried date, chopped or whole, as a substitute.

Add-ins: I have tried chocolate protein powder in this recipe and I wouldn't recommend it. The protein powder affected the consistency. I would like to try shredded unsweetened coconut, maybe rolling these bite-size balls in the coconut. Semi-sweet chocolate morsels may work as an add-in as well but I have not tried that either. If you try variations on this treat, please share the outcome!

Prefer bars? You can press the mixture out into a pan and refrigerate, then cut into small bars. See how it goes. I have a link to The Lemon Bowl, where I found this great recipe:

Thursday, September 11, 2014

 Sometimes we only have a few minutes. This five minute yoga sequence can be done in the morning after you wake up or even in the evening to unwind.

Five minute yoga--when you only have a few minutes!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Busy Mom workout

Looking for an effective workout you can do at home? Try this one out:

Also, always remember that you can modify any workout to meet your needs. If jumping rope is too tough on your knees, try an alternate cardio exercise you can do with your bodyweight. Always make your workout work for you

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Clean Eating Barbeque Sauce for your Late Summer Grilling

I'm not a huge fan of barbeque sauce, especially not the kind that is mostly made up of high fructose corn syrup. So, occasionally, I make my own barbeque sauce with varying results. Sometimes my husband tries it and makes a sour lemon face and has to"fix" it with some sweetener. However, this clean eating barbeque sauce was a winner. I doubled the recipe and added a bit more honey and pure maple syrup (NO Aunt Jemima, please). The result was a thick barbeque sauce that pared very well with grilled chicken and my kids enjoyed it, too. By doubling the recipe, you can have extra for another recipe later that week--store it in the fridge or freezer to use at a later date.

Clean Eating's Best Barbeque Sauce

Changes: I omitted onion powder and swapped in minced dried onion. I omitted Worcestershire sauce and red pepper flakes. Using red pepper would have caused :( faces at my table; we don't do spicy food too often. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

I have Con-fi-dence in Me. . .

Remember Maria from The Sound Of Music brazenly bouncing around with her blonde pixie cut, proclaiming she has confidence in sunshine and in rain? Well—I’ve found confidence in fitness. Beginning with my journey back into a gym after years spent mothering and wanting to get back in the swing but not really knowing how, I began going to ZUMBA classes. From there, I began to include strength training, and the confidence in my abilities began to spiral upward. 

Fit, confident woman

Today’s modern woman is expected to be confident. But don’t we often struggle with body-confidence? One way to feel more confident is to experiment with fitness, trying on new challenges and finding the confidence to keep our heads raised, shoulders back, and “bust out” while rising to the challenge. And in ZUMBA, which I’ve heard described by a friend who felt like she was “flopping around like a fool,” confidence is not always easy to come by. However, insecurity fades as we grow through trial and error.

Flopping Around Like a Fool

Some people have asked me about my weight loss and fitness and I always tell them how I started with ZUMBA, which got me back in a routine of going to the gym, breaking a good sweat and loving it. Then, I would hear replies from others about trying ZUMBA for the first, possibly only, time: “I just felt so silly,” “I hid in the back of the room,” “I couldn’t follow along; I just felt like an idiot.” And, of course, “flopping around like a fool.”
I, too, felt insecure and self-conscious as I fumbled through the dance steps, twirling occasionally in the wrong direction as the rest of the class. But, for months, I kept going. I kept going and advanced to the front of class, checking my steps in the front or side mirror to ensure I was following correctly, monitoring my form. For the first five, possibly even ten minutes, I would be plagued by self-consciousness that limited my movement. Then, I would begin to have fun. Really have fun. I felt free as my feet moved along, hips swiveling sensuously, shaking my white girl booty. I didn’t care after a while, who might see me from outside the door and whether or not I looked silly. So what if I was flopping around like a fool? So what if I felt sexy and maybe looked like a giraffe that gobbled up some ADHD meds?  And I got a killer workout, as the cardio got my heart pumping, sweat pouring, and legs strengthening. I grew more aware of my body. I gain at least a half-teaspoon of grace. I grew to look forward to my own Friday night fever—it was my night to shake it to the beat, for one hour in an exercise studio.

Post ZUMBA Growing Pains

Unfortunately, I had to hang up my ZUMBA sneaks due to neck pain that would occur hours after I completed my dance workout. My neck and shoulders were always a sensitive area, and I guess the twisting and jiving in Zumba was just not good for my body.  I researched ZUMBA and neck pain or shoulder/neck pain but there was not much information out there.  I tried stretching before ZUMBA, stretching after, warming up for longer; yet no modifications seemed to work. I turned to spinning instead and have had so much fun with it! I’m still getting a solid cardio workout that strengthens my legs, yet no neck pain afterwards. I am glad I started spinning, as it challenges me on a mental and physical level and I doubt I would have entered that dark Spin studio or gone back if I hadn’t had my pain in the neck post-ZUMBA aches.
The lesson I took from ZUMBA, though, was that in trying new kinds of fitness, sometimes you will feel awkward or ill at ease. You won’t always know what you are doing and it may be obvious to on-lookers. However, when you press on, keep your smile, follow along as best you can, you will grow in confidence. You will find a new comfort zone. But don’t settle there for too long; keep pushing the walls of your comfort zone. Stretch within the space and listen to your body. Smile and remember that you are fit, sexy, and confident.