Extreme Squat and Wall Sit Challenge

Well folks, summer is pretty much over – at least summer vacation time is over.  And with that and the start of September just a day away I figured it was a good time to post a new fitness challenge for the new month.

And since jeans season is back (I refuse to wear pants (other than to work out) throughout the warmth of spring until the end of summer/start of fall – for at least 3 full months I am either in a skirt or a dress) I thought a good butt and leg workout would be fun and fitting.

I struggled with which Challenge I wanted to post – the Extreme Squat Challenge or the Wall Sit Challenge.  Because I love both.  And because I love both I said, “FB, you should post both.”  And that’s what I’m going to do.

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These are two great exercises that will work your butt and legs.  Squats are so good for you because you’re engaging your entire body (ankles, core, calves, thighs, butt, arms, neck) and it will definitely get your cardio up.  And the wall sit can help you strengthen your legs, thighs, and even your back.

Two important things to remember when you’re doing either of these exercises are to keep your chest lifted* and to not let your knees come too far over your ankles.  Performing these exercises wrong can lead to injury.

(*Keep your chest lifted means don’t round your shoulders or hump forward (don’t slouch!).  Your chest should be at the angle as if you were standing normally, keeping your neck aligned – as if you’re looking forward (which is a good move, especially for beginners).  When you squat your upper body should stay as normal in form as possible while your knees bend and your booty goes back.)

This guy is my hero! via

This guy is my hero!
via

Keep in mind that the above squat challenge is the Extreme Squat Challenge and may be a little too intense for beginners.  If you want to do both challenges but don’t think you can handle the Extreme you have two options:  1) you could cut the Extreme in half (so, on Day 1 instead of 250 squats you would do 125 squats) or, if you still think that’s too much you could 2) try the original Squat Challenge I posted a while back.  My suggestion, if you’re just starting out with a workout program (or have knee issues) is to go with the original Squat Challenge.  After 30 days if you’re comfortable with the squats and feeling like a superhero then you could continue with the Extreme Challenge (it picks up at 250 which is where the original ends).

As always, these exercises can be done on their own or as part of fitness program/routine.

Good luck, have fun, and be careful.

~Fit Bitch

Recap

Can you believe summer is nearly over?  I’m still having a hard time believing it.  It seems like it just flew by.

But, I’m not fully complaining.  It was busy…and it looks like the busy-ness is continuing through into the fall.

So,  the summer brought me back outside to teach my boot camp classes.  The classes were small this summer but the new sessions begin tomorrow and I’m full – with mostly new faces *AND* my first boy!!  I’m so excited.  I’ve had a little interest from men in the past (and currently) but none have ever bothered to follow  through.  I’m thoroughly stoked about this.

I’ve continued to run several times each week throughout summer, and in the disgusting heat wave.  However, most of my outside runs have been in the evening.  The rest of the runs have been in the gym – although that hasn’t been much better.  Twice last week the gym was a few degrees warmer than the air outside.  It was gross.

Twice last week the gym thermometer read 29 degrees (C).....that's like 82 or 84 (F).

Twice last week the gym thermometer read 29 degrees (C)…..that’s like 82 or 84 (F).

I also joined a yoga studio and got a 30 for 30 promo which allowed me to attend several classes a week on my lunch break, as well as some really cool evening classes.  My body loved it.  I always try and promote yoga to people because I love it so much.  And let me tell you that I love it even more now.  <3

On top of all that yoga-ing for those 30 days I also participated in a huge yoga festival two weeks ago.  It was so much fun.  I was in absolute heaven!  Y’know, aside from being in the scorching sun and not thinking to wear protection on my head, which resulted in a sunburned scalp.  Other than that it was a blast and I’m looking forward to next year.

Valley Yoga Fest via K.W.

Valley Yoga Fest via K.W.

Valley Yoga Fest via S.C.P.

Valley Yoga Fest via S.C.P.

On top of all this yoga I’m also participating in the Sunset Yoga festival in Halifax in mid-September.  I am really looking forward to this.  It’s going to be a great evening with yoga, music, vendors, and friends.

Sunset

If you can remember, last year I participated in the Zombie Run.  I was so stoked when I found out that the event would be coming to a community semi-close to mine (it’s at least an hour away).  My friend Angie and I had the best time so we were certain to sign up again this year.  The race is the weekend following the upcoming Sunset Yoga event….as you can see, September is filling up.

And, on top of the Zombie Run I am the most excited to have finally been able to register for the huge annual Harvest Marathon.  I’ve been wanting to do this for so many years but something has always been in the way.  Last week I finally officially registered!!  I am beyond happy!  This race takes place the second weekend in October (Thanksgiving weekend in Canada) and it’s always a huge deal.  I usually have to get re-routed during my travels.

The next race on my list will be the Wine Run.  Wine + running.  Need I say more?

~Fit Bitch

When You Try

Via Yahoo

Via Yahoo

I got an email the other day from someone close to me that stated “though I will never be a runner…”

As soon as I read that I jumped into a reply saying “YES, You can be a runner!!”

You can be a yogi.  You can be a marathon runner.  You can be a boot camp rock star.  You can be a bench presser.  You can be a swimmer.  You CAN do it!

And that, my friends, is simply my point.  If you try, you can.

Last week I did my first head stand in yoga class.  I tried it and I did it.  I was so happy.  I never would have known that I could balance on my head if I had not tried.

So often we let opportunities pass us by because we’re afraid to try.  We watch beautiful things enter and exit our lives simply because we are nervous that we might fail.  Know what I say to that??  PFFFFFTTT!!!

I say go ahead and put those sneakers on and start out with your jog.  I say sign up for the class, join the gym, get some yoga use our of your yoga pants.  Do it!  DO ITTTT!!

Because you’ll never know unless you try, and then you’ll just be left with regrets.

You can do it!

~Fit Bitch

REDBOOK’S Strong Sexy 21-Day Challenge

I just came across this 21-day challenge by Redbook.  This is a great little challenge for new exercisers (and for those wanting to add to their current workouts).

This beginner workout is great because it incorporates both cardio and strength, and works different muscle groups. Basically, how it works is you do one exercise on Day 1.  On Day 2 you do the exercises from Day 1 and Day 2.  On Day 3 you do the exercises from Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3….so that when you finally get to Day 21 you’re doing 21 different exercises.

Via Redbook

Via Redbook

Definitely check out the website here and watch the video.  Familiarize yourself with the exercises so that you can keep your form in check.

What’s also really great about this workout is that you can virtually do it anywhere – that includes while you’re watching TV (take advantage of those commercial breaks, folks!).

Everyone has to start somewhere and this little workout is very basic.  I’m not going to say it’s easy because there may be some difficulty, especially for beginner exercisers.

If you have any difficulty with a particular exercise and feel like it’s too much for you right off or that it may cause you injury (ie. burpees) you can either omit that exercise and sub in something else – like crunches for instance, or extra jumping jacks – or if you think you’d like to try burpees but don’t feel like your body is strong enough yet you can rearrange some of the exercises – make Day 6 your day for hip bridges and make Day 20 your day to try the burpee.

Whatever you choose to do will be right for you.

Good luck and have fun!

~Fit Bitch

Start Again

via Yahoo

via Yahoo

The last couple of weeks I have been absolutely loving my workout routines.  I am fortunate enough to work with the owner of a local yoga studio, as well as with a few fellow yogis. So, some friends and I have been going several times per week during our lunch breaks (and some evenings) to the different classes.  I’m loving it so much!  There are a dozen or so different instructors so each class can be different.  Last week I went to a class every day and this week I was able to reach goals with my practice that I really didn’t think was possible.  They may have been small goals but they were milestones for me just the same.

I’ve also been going a little cray-cray with my boot campers but I think we’re all loving it.  Although, I still think I’m the only one who’s smiling through 5 minutes of squats.

And tonight, I shaved a few more minutes off of my run time (a 5k post-yoga, pre-Zumba run).  I’m feeling fantastic!

Last year I was struggling so much with the pain of my tarsal tunnel that I didn’t think I’d be running too much, nor did I imagine that I would get so much better.  But I stayed with it.  Like the caption above says: I took a deep breath and started again…and again and again.  Did I mention I feel fantastic??  I really, really do.

And you will too!  I know there are days you want to give up.  Days that you don’t think the struggle is worth it.  But it is because you’re worth it.  Your health and your self-love is worth it.  So stick with it.  Keep taking those deep breaths and keep starting again.

~Fit Bitch

Preventing Knee Injury When Exercising

I have mentioned many times over the course of my posts that I have very weak ankles.  I’ve had problems with my ankles for as long as I can remember – since I was a toddler, I believe.  They’ve both been sprained, strained, twisted, torn, rolled, and broken (yes, both of them).  Because of my ankle weaknesses I am always super diligent in doing my best to prevent (further) ankle injury.  So much so that I sometimes need to remind myself that other parts of my body need to be looked after.
Like the knees.
via Yahoo

via Yahoo

Because I’m so active, and because there is a history of osteoporosis in my family, I have made a conscious effort to be kind to my knees – and I’m going to let you in on these efforts:
First of all, be aware.  That’s pretty easy, right?  Our knees carry us and they take a lot of crap throughout each day.  So, if we are aware of the possible injuries we could endure – and what our lives might be like with a knee injury – we can ensure better care and safer performances.  We want to avoid a bigger situation, such as getting a knee replacement and having ongoing problems after that.  (The Zimmer Persona Knee Replacement is just one example of this.  Coincidentally, a few months ago I posted MOM-spiration and told the story of my mom being injured in a hit-and-run accident and has suffered her whole life with bad knees as a result. She is potentially facing knee replacement surgeries but is doing her best to avoid that option.  She’s been coming on-and-off to my boot camp classes (go mom!!) and has joined a walking group.  Knee replacement surgery is clearly something we all want to do our best to avoid.)
And of course having proper footwear is a key factor in preventing many types of injuries – knees and ankles included.  Making sure you have the right type of sneaker for your particular exercise is necessary, even if it will cost you a few extra bucks, it’s worth it in the long run.  Since I run and do a lot of plyo exercises I find it necessary to have a high end pair of sneakers or two with excellent shock absorption and tread, to start with.  And wearing proper and well-fitting gym shoes will help maintain leg alignment and balance (something I often need help with due to my weak ankles).
Having an exercise routine that includes a warm up and a cool down!!  THIS IS KEY.  I REPEAT <<– THIS IS RIDICULOUSLY IMPORTANT!!!   I make sure my clients, my fitness groups, and myself are all properly warmed up prior to exercising.  I can’t tell you how often I see people at my gym jump right into a workout without warming up.  That right there is one of the biggest factors causing injury.  If the body isn’t warmed up properly we’re not respecting it and we put it at risk.  Warming up before a workout will reduce the chance of soft tissue injuries and will lubricate your joints for easier movement. Cooling down and stretching after a workout is just as important as the warm up.  Our muscles tighten during exercise, so stretching post-workout will help loosen our muscles and joints, getting them back to proper mobility.  Although, we must be cautious of overstretching as this can further ail us by softening the ligaments under the kneecap or pulling tendons and muscles further than they should be pulled (stretched).  The Runner’s Stretch is guilty of this.
Having a strength-training routine is great for me for supporting my ankles and knees.  Strengthening my leg muscles will help me in the long run to reduce further injury, stabilize my muscles and joints, and keep me better balanced.
Knowing how to treat a knee injury is very important.  If it’s an injury due to over-training or over-use then there are several rules to follow.  I had an over-training injury to the side of knee that lasted for months this past winter and spring.  It was a terrible joint injury that caused me more pain than I had bargained for.  Here’s the routine I followed for a very.long.time: Ice and elevation, for starters.  I would come home from the gym, or from work, or from a class and elevate my knee over some pillows and then put the ice packs to it.  I was also very big on Epsom salts baths (Epsom salts are brilliant.  The sulfates play an important role in the formation of joint proteins and easing muscle pain.  Also, the magnesium helps with nutrient absorption, which can help with osteoporosis).  I would soak my knee for a good 20 minutes nearly every night for weeks on end.  I found a lot of comfort in doing this. I also made sure that I did some light stretching while my knee was warmed and soaking.  Compression wraps are something I had to deal with.  It would look big and bulky underneath my gym pants or whatever I was wearing but it had to be done to reduce the swelling.  Anti-inflammatories* became my best friend.  Well, not really, but when the pain and/or swelling got too bad I had to pop an Advil** here and there to reduce both.  (* and **  I am not promoting this, nor do I have any affiliation with Advil.  Please either see your doctor or your pharmacist or other health professional before taking any medication, and follow the instructions and/or recommended dosage of any medication.)  I also spoke to a professional to determine that my injury was indeed an over-use injury.  Because my pain was in a weird place I wanted to ensure it wasn’t anything more worrisome.
Following a yoga practice definitely helped – and continues to help me.  Yoga has helped me: increase my flexibility, enhance my performance, reduce stress, and stretch my muscles.  After all the exercising I do, incorporating a regular yoga practice is probably one of the smartest things I’ve done to help my body recover after my workouts and from the daily wear and tear I put it through.  My body (and mind and soul) continually thanks me for introducing it to yoga.
And lastly, but certainly not less important, knowing my limits and exercising properly is just as important as every other factor.  And this goes for everything I do.  Thankfully, my over-training injury healed up several months ago and I’ve been fortunate enough to not have another flare of it (I’m knocking on wood as I type).  If we are educated properly about exercises – whether it be by a trainer, an instructor, a doctor, or a teacher, then we can prevent almost any type of injury. For instance, we know that when doing a basic lunge the knee is not supposed to come out further than the ankle.  Just like we know that in a plank or push up our lower back should not sink in.  Anytime either of these happens we are putting our body at risk.  But there.  I’ve just told you the most important rules of a basic lunge and of a plank or push up.  Educating ourselves on correct form and exercise basics (what to do and what not to do) and how to avoid injuries is a great start to any fitness routine and respecting our body.
{FYI: I work with a man who has ongoing knee problems stemming from an old injury and ever since I found out about his issue (somedays, when flare ups occur and he’s visibly in pain) I will send him tons of info on preventing knee injury, strengthening his knees, and taking care of himself to prevent further injury/flare ups.  I think, perhaps deep down, he appreciates my scolding and sticking-my-nose-in.}
~Fit Bitch

Size Doesn’t Matter

…At least in this instance.

This week Woman’s Running magazine made headlines by making a “plus sized” woman its cover model.  

  While  this certainly seems to be a profound move, it’s also sad that, in 2015, this is news – because it’s never really happened before.
I’m ecstatic that Women’s Running is fantastic and chose this beauty to display on their cover – to show the world that being heavier doesn’t always equal unhealthy (or that being thin equals being healthy, for that matter!!).  I’m tired of seeing people who have a little more meat on their bones being portrayed as lazy.  It’s an unfair stigma, dammit!  

And to add, we all have to start somewhere.  The woman on the cover is pretty much me ten years ago.  I was  the gal running down the street and on the trail with a little extra jiggle here and there.  But I was running. And I was exercising.  

Furthermore, It’s tiring and often heartwrenching for many, seeing the magazine racks lined with supermodels and waifish celebrities. Enough with that crap!  Here’s hoping more magazines will follow in the footsteps of Women’s Running magazine and include men and women of all shapes, sizes, genders, and races to portray the “average” woman and man.

~Fit Bitch

30 Day Whole Food Challenge

Real Food

I’m finishing up Day 17 of a food elimination program (I will be posting about this when I have completed the program).  I have struggled with stomach issues since I was a small child and I’ve had doctors and allergists put me on elimination “diets” in the past that completely sucked the life out of me – not to mention the medications and invasive tests that I’ve undergone in my lifetime.

The program I’m participating in allows me to eat real, whole foods – fruits, vegetables, and meat – nothing processed.  Like I said above, I’ll be posting about this experience once I complete it but the let me just say the theory behind this program is that there are foods that cause systemic inflammation in the body which can have other effects on us (allergies, sleep disorders, skin problems, tummy troubles, etc.) and so the foundation is to eliminate all the processed stuff and whatnot and rely on fueling your body – your temple – with nutritious, delicious, whole foods.

So I have cut out sugar in all forms – except what I get from fruits and vegetables – all processed foods, dairy in all forms (which isn’t so bad for me since I’m allergic to dairy anyway and sometimes indulge in foods that make me feel like I got hit with a bat), etc.  And you know what?  I.Feel.Great!

I was trepidatious and doubtful going into this program but by day 3 I really started to notice a change in my digestion of the foods I was eating.  I’m not going to elaborate (at least not yet) but I will say that for that reason alone this elimination program has been worth it.  And for the most part, it’s a program that I can sustain.  AND the best part of it:  nothing I eat has to come from little silver packages.

So, all of that being said, what I’m about to challenge you to is a little different than what I’m doing.  Instead of eliminating everything, I CHALLENGE YOU to eliminate a processed food from your diet for one whole month.  It sounds easy enough, but believe me, letting go of something you “rely” on daily isn’t always that easy (I sorta miss my mayo – but am learning to love avocado).

For instance – try cutting the cream out of your coffee for a month.  Either go black or drink it blended with a little coconut oil or coconut milk.  (I do this all the time anyway and love it.)  Or, go without bread in all forms for the month.  That means no morning bagel, no cronut at the office, no weekend PB&J.  I swear you can do this.

Step outside you comfort zone and try something new.  If you like pasta try using zucchini or carrot “noodles” instead of actual pasta noodles.

Zucchini-Noodles-with-Pesto-8

Or try making your regular ice cream from frozen bananas and fruit.  Instead of going out for that sugary, calordie-dense frappuccino, make your own at home with fresh brewed coffee (cooled), sliced frozen banana, 100% real cocoa, and some coconut milk – this is just as delicious and refreshing and it’s pretty healthy.

Instead of topping it with all kinds of crap, instead add some unsweetened coconut (toasted is even better), cinnamon, or mint leaves.

Instead of topping it with all kinds of crap, instead add some unsweetened coconut (toasted is even better), cinnamon, or mint leaves.

Give this 30 day challenge a try.  It may seem hard – but it’s really not; and it’s only 30 days.  You can do anything for 30 days.  Try it.  See how you feel before, during, and after.  See if your body changes at all – inside or out.  See if any part of your health improves.  Try it.  You’re worth it.

And if you do it – hashtag it, baby!  Let the world know you’re participating.

#wholefoodchallenge  #realfoodchallenge  #30daywholefoodchallenge  #justeatrealfood  #nsfitbitch

~Fit Bitch

Note *Remember, this is not a calorie-restrictive, low carb, low protein, unhealthy plan.  The goal is to focus on clean eating – therefore eating an abundance of nutritious foods without the added sugar, chemicals, or unhealthy benefits

Laughter – The Best ~Ab~ Medicine

Abs = laughter

Is there anything better than laughing so hard your stomach hurts?

I love my workouts but this is how I feel one hundred percent!

I’m fortunate enough to have, honestly, the most incredible friends: my work mates, my besties, my boyfriend, my family.  I believe that laughter can keep us young and healthy, and I’m fortunate enough to spend most of my days with people who like to laugh.  In fact, my lunch breaks are almost always spent with one of my best friends and we laugh non-stop.  I’ve said to her before “Do you think people see us walking thru Town and are jealous at how much fun we are having?”  I mean, honestly, we are laughing nearly continuously.

Last year we were in a shop during our lunch break and having a bust-a-gut moment and a guy kept staring at us and grinning.  Eventually he approached us and told us he wished he could spend his afternoon with us; that we seemed to be having a very good time.  I thought that was great – especially coming from a complete stranger.

Laughter is infectious.  It’s good for the mind, body, and soul.  Laughter is good for your heart, and it’s good for relieving stress, and for healing a sad or bad mood.  And it’s an excellent way to burn a few extra calories.

I’ve gotten into the habit of laughing at everything (myself included)…it’s so much easier to turn a bad moment into a good one.  I’ve even started laughing out loud at the T.V.  I mean, if it’s funny…why not?

Try not to take things too seriously (if you don’t have to).  Enjoy yourself, enjoy life and it’s moments.  And laugh with the ones you love.

Some benefits of laughing: Laughing is wonderful way to get in a little cardio.  And I think laughter is beautiful and adds to our beauty.  People who laugh a lot are healthier – physically, mentally, and emotionally  Laughter is attractive and infectious (go ahead and brighten someone’s day).  Also:

  • Laughter relaxes the whole body.  A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
  • Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
  • Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
  • Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems
    • Boosts immunity
    • Lowers stress hormones
    • Decreases pain
    • Relaxes your muscles
    • Prevents heart disease

~Fit Bitch

Commitment

COMMITMENT

If you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time, you will know that I take my fitness regime seriously.  But, as I continue to work at getting beyond my workout addiction (yes, that’s a thing), and struggle with a few health issues, I’ve weened myself off of my every-single-day workout habit. There are days that I am still at the gym much longer than I need to be, and there are days when I still exercise because I feel like I “have to”, but for the most part, I am very happy with where I am today compared to where I was a year ago.

That being said, I have certain days that I commit myself to working out, and as I’ve mentioned in a recent post or two, I’ve committed myself to running at the gym) several times a week (once I’m running outside it won’t be a commitment, but a pleasure) so I’ve had to dedicate myself to this schedule and staying on track.

That means I’m at the gym whether I want to be or not. That means that Friday nights I’m at the gym.  That means that Saturday afternoons or Sunday mornings I’m a the gym.  That means that aside from teaching boot camp and participating in other classes, I’m at the gym.  I’m running and I’m lifting and I’m sweating and I’m loving it.

InstallingMuscles.

I still feel that exhilaration when I’m working out.  I feel accomplished when I’m completed my fitness task for the day.  A long time ago I committed myself to a better life.  I made the commitment to get fit and be healthy and stay active.  Sometimes that means sacrifices.  There are still a good many days that I want to come home after work and schlump on the couch or Friday nights when I want to just get the freakin’ weekend started.  But, like I said, I committed myself to these goals and really, what’s another hour or two?  Friday night will still be there when my run is complete.  Sunday coffee dates will wait until I’ve finished in the weight room.  There is room in my life for sacrifice.

~Fit Bitch

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