Archive | April, 2014

Five Tips for a Fit Family Vacation

28 Apr
Photo courtesy of www.alfahotel.at

Photo courtesy of http://www.alfahotel.at

Please welcome my guest blogger and travel expert Kendra Thornton…

Whether you are on vacation or at home, it is important to eat healthy and exercise. This is not always easy to do, but with some advance planning you can stay fit and healthy regardless of where you are. I have some tips I have developed over the years that help me stay healthy on vacation, and hopefully you will find these tips beneficial to you as well.

While on vacation, you will probably come across numerous buffets at hotels or restaurants. Depending on where you are staying, sometimes these buffets are available at all hours. While there is a lot of gourmet food available at buffets, you can still eat healthy. Instead of loading up your plate with desserts or carbs, balance it out with a healthy portion of vegetables. Try the higher calorie foods, but give yourself a smaller portion. There is usually fruit or lighter desserts at buffets as well. Make these your choice for dessert, or if you must indulge in the cheesecake, take a small slice and fill the rest of your dessert plate with fruit or frozen yogurt.

If you are vacationing somewhere near a body of water, take advantage of the water sports available!  Whether it is paddle boats, canoes, or rowboats, you can have a great time on the water. You will have fun while you are staying active, and most water sports burn a great deal of calories. These watersports can even be done with small children, in case you are vacationing with your family. Children will have a great time riding in the paddle boat or helping you steer the boat.

Drinking water is important for your health at all times, but especially when you are traveling. In order to keep yourself from getting dehydrated, stock your car with a cooler full of ice and bottles of water. If you are staying in a hotel, stop by a grocery store beforehand to buy a case of water to keep in the hotel room. Having ice-cold water readily available on vacation can make it easier to keep your body hydrated.

If you have some down time on vacation, why not create your own active games? If you are traveling with children, they will have a blast creating their own mini-Olympics. You could utilize the hotel pool by having splash contests, races in the pool, or relay races. Even if you do not have a pool at your hotel, there are many ways you can create fun competitions on vacation. Skipping rocks at a lake, obstacle courses, or jumping games are just a few other ideas that will help you create a silly tournament. As long as you are they are having fun, your children will hardly realize that they are getting physical activity.

While these ideas can be helpful on vacation, it is important to stick with this mindset of a healthy lifestyle at home as well. Maintaining a routine can be extremely difficult while on vacation. For our upcoming trip to Orlando we made sure to stick with our routine. To do this we ended up booking a great hotel with a great gym. With so many places to stay, sites like Gogobot are necessary to make the process a little easier. Taking time to prepare healthy snacks for home and school, fitting in extra physical activity, and drinking lots of water are good steps to take in creating a healthy lifestyle.

 

My name is Kendra Thornton and I am a mother of three. Before being promoted to the position of full-time mom, I was the Director of Communications at Orbitz. I now live in Chicago where my family is my number one priority in everyday life.

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Let Go… and Make Room for More!

21 Apr
Good-bye Fancy Pants

Good-bye Fancy Pants

Confession time. I have been holding on to a pair of jeans for far too long that are far too small for me. It’s like watching a Great Dane trying to fit into a Chihuahua’s sweater–it ain’t happening! And my reasoning for holding onto these jeans is even sillier: I don’t want to get rid of them because I invested a lot of money in them… and I dread shopping for jeans. Please join me in playing my tiny violin. Thankfully I called myself out on my own BS and will bequeath them to another fashionable soul because my booty cannot squeeze into them… nor do I want it to…

 

I purchased those jeans after I lost quite a bit of weight (gluten intolerance and adrenal fatigue suck) due to a stressful chapter in my life. That chapter is finished and so are these jeans.

 

It can be scary to let go, to admit that something or someone isn’t working for us. When we let go of negative energy, we free ourselves to receive so many positive blessings. We literally make room for opportunities we want to attract. Every Fall and Spring when I go through my entire apartment one room at a time and clear out everything I don’t need, I end up attracting new clients, have a surge of creative ideas and have more time and energy for the people and hobbies I love. True story.

 

What are you holding on to? What clothing, appliances, relationships, furniture, food, thoughts are holding you back from moving forward and reaching your goals? What is one action step you can take today to let go and make room for more?

Rise Up!

13 Apr

IMG_1902As a wellness writer, I feel like I should be giving you stellar recipe ideas for Passover and Easter. Alas, I am not. *sigh* Wipe those hungry tears away, because I am going to rock your world–personal progress? Yes please!–and I’m sharing this amazing Raw Brownie recipe with you from My New Roots. Soooo…. healthy Passover and Easter dessert recipe too? I got nothing but love for you, baby!

 

Before I rock your world, we need to climb into our Tardis and revisit the meaning of these holidays. (Total Squirrel Moment: time traveling tends to use phone booths a la Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Dr. Who. Interesting.) So here are my Religious Cliff Notes…

Christian: Easter is about the resurrection of Jesus.

Jewish: Passover is about the Israelites liberation from slavery.

 

See the theme? Regardless of what you believe, this time of year is about rising up. So, ya know that story you’ve been holding on to? That one about your mean ex which leads you to believe you are unloveable and that every relationship you do begin will end in lonely failure. Or that story about why you can’t be healthy, because your metabolism is slow and you just don’t have the time to exercise or cook. Or how about that story that begins with “I’m not [good enough, smart enough, wealthy enough…].” Think of what your story (or stories) is and write it down on a square of toilet paper (use a separate square for each story).

 

Now flush that crap down the toilet, because you are not your story! You are so much more. Rise up, take your power back and move forward!

 

What is one simple action you can do today to reclaim your power? Please share your comments below, because your simple action step may just be the inspiration someone else needs.

Jungle (Gym) Fever

7 Apr

There is far too much Spring beauty outdoors to keep your sweet, tight cheeks lifting weights indoors. About time you spice up your routine with some jungle gym action. The routine is written for all levels, but I added an alternate exercise in parentheses if you need more of a challenge.

 

Truth: I’m not a fan of generic exercise programs (hence my words of caution you will read right…. NOW). It is extremely important to work with your doctor (to make sure you are cleared for exercise and do not have any orthopedic issues, etc.) and a certified trainer (like yours truly) who can properly assess and design an individualized exercise program for you that effectively reaches your goals while keeping your safety and needs numero uno.

 

Before beginning any exercise program, always check with your doctor and stop exercise immediately if you experience any pain, dizziness, numbness, etc. There are four things you need to execute with each exercise to ensure proper technique: 1) activate abdominals (as though someone was going to poke or punch you in the stomach), 2) lift your chest, 3) breathe and 4) drink water. It’s about to get crazy…

 

Equipment: jungle gym at your home or park, you (yay you!) and jungle boogie tunes never hurt

 

EXERCISE PROGRAM***

Warm Up:

Walk to the park or around your yard (at least 5 minutes)

Perform any corrective exercises or stretches you need

Bodyweight Squats–8 reps (Figure 1)

Modified Push Up on bench–8 reps (Figure 2)

Split Squat–8 reps each (Figure 3)

 

Bodyweight Training Circuit: perform 10 reps of each exercise in a row, rest for 60 seconds and perform entire circuit again for 3-4 more times.

 

1. Plank (or Plank with Arm Reach). Start in a neutral spine position with your elbows under your shoulders and your weight back in your heels (Figure 4). Hold this for 30-60 seconds rather than performing 10 reps (or Plank with Arm Reach: keep pelvis level and still while reaching one arm out in front of you at a 45 degree angle, set back down in start position and reach opposite arm. Perform 10 reps each side). Keep breathing.

 

2. Split Squat (or Bulgarian Squat). Start in a split stance with right leg in front and left leg back, legs hip width apart (or Bulgarian Squat: place top of the toes of the left back foot on a swing seat so it is elevated). Inhale, bend knees to lower your body, leading with the left knee towards the ground (but don’t touch the knee to ground) (Figure 3). Exhale, squeeze the glutes and push with the right heel to start position. Keep the spine neutral the entire time. Perform 10 reps, then switch to the other side.

 

3. Push Up (or Push Up with feet elevated on bench or swing seat). Start in a neutral spine position with your wrists under your shoulders (Figure 5). Inhale, squeeze your shoulder blades to pull yourself towards the ground, elbows pointing back at a 45 degree angle. Once your arms are level with your torso, exhale and push up to start (Figure 6). This can also be performed like the modified push up in the warm up.

 

4. Reverse Row (or Pull Up). Find a sturdy bar that is hip or chest height (or Pull Up: find monkey bars or a sturdy bar that is slightly taller than you). Place your hands on the bar shoulder width apart and position yourself underneath the bar where the chest is in line with the bar (or Pull Up: you will be hanging directly underneath the bar, knees bent if needed so feet do not touch the ground). Start in neutral spine/ plank position. Inhale, squeeze the shoulder blades and pull your chest towards the bar, moving the body as one unit and not braking at the hips or overextend the lumbar spine (or Pull Up: use your back muscles to pull your chest up to the bar until elbows are bent slightly past 90 degrees). Exhale and lower, straightening the elbows but still staying in a neutral spine/ plank position.

 

5. Squat (or Jump Squat). Stand with feet hip width apart. Inhale, sit back like you are going to sit in a chair, keeping knees behind and in line with second toe (Figure 1). Exhale, squeeze the butt and push through the heels as though you are pushing the ground away from you to return to start (or Jump Squat: push through the heels and jump) (Note: my arms are in a prisoner’s squat position. This is not the best position for those with shoulder issues, tight pecs, etc. Please keep hands on hips or folded at your chest. I simply posed like this because it was the best view to demonstrate proper technique in the photograph without blocking my lower body.)

 

Cool-down:

Walk back home or around your yard until your heart rate slows and returns to normal. Foam roll and stretch as needed.

 

***This program is designed for healthy individuals with no medical concerns. Always speak with your doctor before performing any exercise program. If you are new to exercise or haven’t exercised in a while (but your doctor has given you the A-OK), start with one set and build your endurance and strength from there. Optimal results can only be obtained with a customized exercise and nutrition program.

Figure 1: Bodyweight Squats

Figure 1: Bodyweight Squats

Figure 2: Modified Push Up

Figure 2: Modified Push Up

Figure 3 Split Squat (you can use the chair for balance if you are a new exerciser)

Figure 3: Split Squat

Figure 6

Figure 4: Plank

Figure 4

Figure 5: Start position of push up

Figure 5

Figure 6: Bottom position of push up