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