Top 5 things you should do during your workout!

Have you ever dreaded going to they gym?  Felt a little overwhelmed by all the equipment, the size of the facility and all of the people?  And if you actually made it to the gym, were you unsure of where to start?  You’re not alone.  More than half of gym goers aren’t working out properly or making effective use of their time.  But who’s to blame them?   Gyms can be so overwhelming and without a personal trainer to assist it’s easy to get it wrong.

As a health and fitness coach, I cannot stress enough that the most important thing to remember is that everyone is at a different fitness level.  Do not expect to walk into a gym after not working out for sometime (or not at all) and do the same as others!  Your workout is for YOU and YOU only.  It’s your time to do something good for yourself!  Enjoy!  Who cares what everyone else is doing?

Your first goals need to be proper form and technique.  Slow and steady wins the race at the gym, otherwise injuries will occur.  If you’re unsure of a certain move or how to use a piece of equipment, ask a fitness professional at the gym to assist you.  Again, your safety comes first!  You only have one body so keep it safe.

The framework of the workout below can easily be adjusted to fit any fitness level and be accomplished either at the gym or at home.  It’s only FIVE different phases to use while creating a workout routine for your self.  It’s good to do your home work and go in with a plan.  That will make things less intimidating.

  1.  WARM-UP.  Warming up seems to be the one thing that most gym goers do not do or do not do effectively.  The funny thing is that it takes the least amount of time and prevents the most amount of injuries.  The warm up should include stretching, flexibility training and cardio, and on average take about 10 minutes total.Examples of an effective warm up are:
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    FOAM ROLLER:  TFL Stretch
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    STATIC STRETCH:  Standing Adductor
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    DYNAMIC STRETCH:  Tube Walking Side to SideIn addition to your stretching and flexibility training you’ll want to include cardio, about 5-10 minutes to your Warm-Up routine.  Treadmills, rowing machines or stationary bikes are great options to accomplish this.
  2. CORE/BALANCE/PLOYMETRIC.  The core (or abdomen) is the main hub of our body and needs, in my opinion, a signficant amount of time spent in developing it.  Think about how often you (should) use your core muscles.  It’s the center of all movement in the body and supports your posture and lower back and, with proper training can improve both.  Balance training links directly to the core and will help prevent lower lower extremity injuries.  For plyometric training it involves quick and powerful movements causing the muscle to contract, like a ‘cocking’ motion.  This doesn’t mean you have to complete all three types of training for this phase of your workout. Choose one or more depending on your fitness level.  Another option is to find exercises that incorporate all three moves. Examples of Core/Balance/Plyometric training are:
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    CORE:  Two-Leg Floor Bridge
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    CORE and BALANCE:  Single-Leg Lift and Chop
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    PLYOMETIC:  Squat Jump with Stabilization
  3. SPEED/AGILITY/QUICKNESS.  This may be something new to many of you, but what’s great about SAQ training is that it’s fun and effective.  (SAQ is the favorite phase of my workouts!)  It allows the body to enhance how you accelerate, decelerate and stabilize your entire body.  The speed gives you the ability to move your body in one intended direction as fast as possible.  The agility gives you the ability to accelerate, decelerate, stabilize, and change direction quickly while maintaining proper posture.  And the quickness gives you the ability to react and change your body position with maximal rate of force production, in all planes of motion and body positions.  The best way I can describe this phase of the workout is like playing Red Light, Green Light (taking you back to grade school).  Stop Go, Stop Go, Go Stop Go! Examples of SAQ are:
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    SAQ:  Box Drill, 10 yards each sprint98d24800080b405e80cfa8c29763b54e.jpg (736×348)
    SAQ:  Speed Ladders (using taped off boxes)
  4. RESISTANCE.  The resistance training phase is about the body increasing functional capacity.  In other words, building muscle.  It’s up to you how much or little time you want to spend here, and whether you’re looking to build muscle endurance, enlarge the muscles, build strength or increase power.  Again, everyone is at a fitness level and if you’re a beginner, you should choose endurance.  What’s great about resistance training is that you can use your own body weight, bands, free weights, medicine balls, strength machines, kettle bells, TRX and BOSU balls.Examples of Resistance training are:
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    Squat, Curl to Press
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    Push Ups
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    Standing Cable Row
  5. COOL-DOWN.  Ah, the cool down!  You’ve earned it.  This is the time to put yourself in a state of rest.  The cool down has tons of benefits like reducing your heart and breathing rates, cooling your body temperature and returning the muscles back to their optimal length.  It all sounds very scientific and there definitely is a science behind working out in general! Examples of a Cool Down are:
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    Foam Roller Stretch:  Hamstring
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    Static Stretching:  Soleus

And just like your Warm Up, you can Cool Down by getting back on the treadmill for 5-10 minutes at a SLOW pace to cool down the body.

A workout should take you about an hour in total if you’re only focused on one portion of your body (which I highly recommend).  Creating a workout schedule is really important.  For example, working out Monday, Wednesday and Friday is optimal, separating out muscle groups:  Monday: Back and Chest,  Wednesday: Legs, and Friday:  Shoulders and Arms.  This way your muscles rest in-between workouts and have time to recover.  I suggest writing this down on a calendar so you can plan out the entire month, and have accountability to it!

The important thing, with any workout, is to mix it up.  Don’t do the same routine over and over.  Not only will you become bored, but your muscles will get muscle memory and stop growing or strengthening and you’ll plateau.

It’s time to start enjoying your workouts again, and with the above routine I KNOW you will!

Snack Happy! Spicey Pepper Dip: Bean, Gluten and Dairy Free

I’ve been on this mission to create healthful snacks.  I know my body works best when I eat three meals a day plus two snacks in-between.  If not, I get hangry and that’s not good a good thing.  Never heard of hangry?  Well, I can guarantee you’ve felt it!  It’s when you’re so hungry you get angry and then become one with the refrigerator!!!  ERRR!!!  You almost feel a little out of control mainly due to your blood sugar dropping, and you end up eating whatever you see first vs. something satisfying and healthful.  I don’t know about you, but I like to save up my calories for something really good and not binge hangry eating!!!  80 healthful and 20% whatever you want.  Important not to switch those numbers around and a hangry appetite can do just that!

So the journey began to find a healthful snack.  I’ve tried all kinds of homemade, healthful things…but have begun to get bored.  Hummus with veggies – BORING!  Apple and almond butter – BEEN THERE DONE THAT!  Cheese and celery – SNOOZE!  Although these snacks are very healthy and could absolutely fill my hunger, I was getting bored with them and found my way into the fridge more times than I needed because I wasn’t satisfied!

Above everything else, my body has decided to reject beans.  BEANS.  I could live off chickpeas.  That means no kind of hummus or bean dip.  Ugh, now I’ve really have to think outside the box and figure out something that will cover all my needs:  filling, healthful, satisfying and above all not boring.  What’s a girl to do?

I recently read a fantastic book called The Beauty Detox Foods and was inspired by all the healthful foods you can have in your life and still be satisfied.  (Check out the book if you need some tips on healthful eating.  The author’s vision is clean vegan eating and foods that heal the body.  Love that!  Everything homemade.)

Have you ever had Muhammara Dip?  I hadn’t until I picked up the book.  It’s a traditional Middle Eastern dip packed with walnuts, red peppers, spices and olive oil.  But the author of The Beauty Detox Foods managed to make it healthy by keeping it raw and eliminating the olive oil.

This particular dip totally inspired me to get in the kitchen and test our some new recipes.  I’ve toyed around with a recipe for some time now.  I love to mix it up and have found my version of a healthful pepper dip.  It’s delicious!  It’s spicy, tangy, sweet, and is 100% satisfying.  Goes with any kind of veggie or you could turn it into a spread or thin it out for a healthful dressing.

The base of my dip is roasted cashews.  I’m using cashews for a few reasons.  Roasted cashews add a richness to this dip that regular nuts just wont do.  In addition, cashews, when ground, give a starchy quality that thickens your recipes without actual starches.  It’s great to thicken soups, stews, curries (it’s typically the base of curries) and desserts.  The plus is that cashews have great health benefits.  They are a good source of Iron, Magnesium, Potassium and Protein.

Behold, your new favorite snack:

Spicey Pepper Dip

1 cup roasted cashews
4 small tomatoes, roasted or grilled
3 hatch chilis, roasted and skinned
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tbsp lemon juice (1/2 large lemon)
1 tsp tamari sauce
1/4 tsp salt


Place cashews, sesame seeds, and garlic powder into a high-speed blender.  Blend until it comes to a mealy texture, almost paste like.  Then add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth!

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It’s that simple.  A few minutes and you’ve got the base of a healthful and satisfying snack.  Think about how great this would be at parties in addition to your daily snack.  It’s easy to make in a large batch and with no dairy, it can sit out worry free!


Some things to note:
**This version of the dip is not raw.  However, you can change to accommodate raw eaters!  Raw cashews, garlic, tomatoes and chilis would be perfect in this recipe.

**I HIGHLY recommend roasting your own veggies.  They take about 10 extra minutes to prepare on the grill or under a broiler.  The chili peppers I did skin, but the tomatoes I just left whole.  If you’re not into that, you can substitute canned fire- roasted tomatoes with green chilis.  But again, TRY to roast yourself.  It’s super easy, I promise!

No Gym Membership? No Problem. Create your own gym at home with these 5 things!

I gotta tell you, for someone who enjoys working out like I do, I do not like going to the gym.  It’s not my favorite place to go.  It’s not my happy place.  It’s not my sanctuary.  I can survive just fine without it.  When I started working out about 10 years ago, I did join a large gym, and still have that membership to this day.  I fight myself about getting rid of it, however, they have some good spin instructors there, and it’s cheaper than joining a spin club.  So alas, I’m charged monthly for it and I only use it for that!!!

For me, the gym is overwhelming.  There’s tons of equipment and people.  I find, depending on the hour, it’s less about working out and more about flirting.  Ugh.  That’s just not my style.  I like to get in, get out and get on with life!  So what’s a girl to do?  I’m very fortunate that I have a workout space in my home.  My husband and I created it when we bought our home a few years ago, and it’s priceless.  We’ve added to it over the years, but it’s still simple and approachable.  And the best thing about it…I don’t have to leave the comfort of my home to get my sweat on!!!

So where do you start when creating a home gym?  Everyone is at different fitness levels.  However, the five things I’ve chosen can be for any fitness level.  You control the reps, resistance, length and just how hard you want your workout to be.  Simple!

Here are few pointers to create your home gym, for a fraction of what you would pay at your local gyms.  Plus, you can work out in the privacy of your home while watching the show on tv (or tablet) that you want to watch!  Ha, take that over-priced commercial gym.  Now you have no excuse not to give yourself some time to look and feel better!!!

Jump Rope
I don’t know of a cardio machine at the gym that can get your heart rate up like a jump rope.  Have you done this recently?  I could barely get in 30 seconds before wanting to fall over.  I did splurge on this and get the 3-in-1 jump rope.  This one cost $6.47, but you can get them for much less.  What I liked about this style versus the others was that the rope is completely adjustable.  You can customize to your height.  In addition to that, it has rubber grips and removable weights that store in the handles.  You can google “jump rope workouts” and get tons of workout ideas or simply create your own by making one up!
Cost:  $2-$12
Sample Workouts:  Start with 30 seconds jumping, rest 10 and continue for 5 minutes; or try this 10 minute routine.
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Resistance Band
These are great and just like the jump rope, compact, and can fit in any space.  You can even travel with them.  These come in many different styles from a rubber band type to ones with handles and are adjustable in resistance.  I have both, and use them for any exercise you would typically use in resistance training: bicep curls, chest flies, squats or triceps curls.  All within a small space.
Cost:  $7-$30
Sample Workouts:
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Stability Ball
If you’re house doesn’t have a stability ball, go out and get one today.  Yes, these do take up a little bit of space when blown up, but can be easily tucked away in a closet for storing.  From planks to leg tuck crunches, the stability ball will support you in your ab work beyond expectation.  Because you’re actually ‘unstable’ on it, you have to use more muscles AND you tend to slow down the speed which is even better for strength training.  Burn more calories and build muscle?  I’m in!  Please note that they come in multiple sizes based off your height, so read up prior to purchasing.
Cost:  $15-$40
Sample Workouts:  Sit Ups or V-Pass,  Wheel Barrow or Wheel Outs and Plank
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Yoga Mat
Yoga mats can be used for so many things.  I typically keep mine out 24/7 so I’m inspired to stretch, do yoga or a quick plank anytime I’m inclined!  They come in a variety of colors and thickness to support you and your fitness needs.  These too are portable and can be stored in the closet or under the bed.
Cost:  $9-$20
Sample Workouts:  Yoga routines (I like the yoga studio app) planks or stretches.
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This is the one exercise I will never get used to, step ups!  Hurts so good.  What I love about the step is you can continue to build upon them and make them higher or challenge yourself to jump up, over and around them or increase your pace!  This will be the biggest purchase of them, but if you find the right ones, you’ll have them forever and you can easily store them under the bed or in a closet.  Another option is to find someone who can build a set for you – even better.  Either way, they need to be in your workout!
Cost:  $28-$100
Sample Workouts:  Lateral step ups and Jump Ups
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On the low-end, you’ll spend around $60 to build your in home gym.  A typical gym membership will cost you an entry fee plus monthly fees, adding up to approximately $450.  That’s a significant savings!

If you’re starting out fresh and haven’t worked out before or haven’t worked out in a while, do your research FIRST.  Review links and consult a physician if you need to ensure you can do these types or any type of physical activity.  Start slow, be cautious of your surroundings to protect yourself from injuries!

We only get ONE body.  Use it properly!