Tomorrow Sleep

Last weekend, I led a lecture to a group of university students on Preventing Burnout. The simplest yet most profound piece of advice I could give was this: get enough sleep!

Science has proven that insufficient sleep can affect your mood, appetite, motivation, job performance, relationships, stress hormones, and even your weight!

I had a baby 6-months ago (6-mo ago today! Happy Half-Year Birthday, Julie Anna!!) The one thing that worried me more than anything about having a newborn was the sleep deprivation that usually goes with it.

I hate being tired more than I hate being hungry, spin-up on, unbathed, cried to, or used as a human pacifier. I abhor being tired.

Thanks to God (and Julie Anna), I haven’t had to be.

I go to bed between 7:30-8pm every single night with the baby. That’s my ace in the hole! She wakes 2-3 times throughout the night to feed, and we get up before 7am every day. Errrrrry day! But I feel great the next day, because I’m getting the cumulative hours of shut eye!

When it comes to sleep, I take things seriously. I believe in the “>8, it’s time to replace” mattress philosophy. Nothing freaks me out more than bugs crawling on my bed. And nothing annoys me more than a sinking mattress. So, I spent thousands of dollars on Tempur Pedic (on Full bed in nursery room) and Simmons Beautyrest Gladney Hybrid Black (on King bed in master bedroom). But in the guest room- the poor unfortunate guest room- I’ve had the antique bed I grew up with.

When I was 5 years old (ehem, 31 years ago), my parents bought a custom-made antique bed frame with a used mattress. I slept on that wonky, crimply, sunk-in mattress until I left their house. (Did I go to graduate school to pursue higher education or escape the possibility of having to move back home and sleep another night on that mattress? The world may never know). Well, all grown up, now, my home needed more furniture and my parents’ home needed less. That bed made its way back to me.

A334CAA8-F60B-4817-9102-6834F9F5C6B4The headboard of this antique bed is gorgeous, and it makes for a beautiful presentation for a guest room. But, just approximating, it’s probably a 50-year-old mattress I’ve had on top. Not exactly the southern hospitality you’d expect if you laid your hat at my home for a night. It’s the bed that makes you sleep poorly from the woman who advocates sleeping well! (And isn’t it Ironic, don’t ya think?)

As a member of the press, sometimes I am privy to testing out desirable stuff. When Tomorrow Sleep reached out to me about their Bed In A Box, I was in for replacing my guest mattress with their new product. Their mattress arrived within days, along with some super comfy bedding and even a sleep monitoring application.

The mattress is exactly what they say: a bed in a box! Upon opening say box, there is a mattress hugged inside, tighter than my post-baby bod shoved into my pre-baby skinny jeans. The mattress spread out upon opening. It wasn’t at all adversely affected by the snug shipping process- the logistics for getting a mattress from store to customer has never been so simple! (In the past, when I’ve purchased mattresses from mattress stores, I have had to schedule delivery and wait around during a vast delivery window for people to bring and install it. This was way more convenient).

Out went my antique bed’s old mattress on my bed, and on came this beauty. I selected the medium-firm option, as I believe firmer mattresses are best for your back. The difference was remarkable. That bed that I shunned to have guests sleep on is now a luxurious landing for the night. It feels similar to Tempur Pedic for a fraction of the price! I now plan on replacing my son’s bed with Tomorrow Sleep, too!

If you’re a savvy shopper, looking for a comfortable mattress, I recommend you try Tomorrow Sleep.

And here’s a code for you to get $100 off any $500 purchase… cause I’m a giver. CARDIO100

662DD901-9416-4588-8B50-FB51B0AB3F46I cannot overemphasize the importance of quality sleep. I recommend you cut out early every night, curl into bed, and get plenty of glorious shut eye to live life to the fullest! Carpe Diem!

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Hurricane Harvey

The apartment complex I lived at while attending grad school in Houston, TX was one of the disaster zones hit last weekend. My brother and (pregnant) sister-in-law live in Houston, now. So many of my friends live there. I shrill at the thought of how many lives have been affected by this disaster-of-a-storm!

When the hurricane made landfall last Friday, I was in Los Angeles. The only way it affected me was not being able to fly home to Austin, and getting diverted to Dallas. I wish so badly that I could have been at a place in Houston, accepting displaced families– helping! I can only imagine that there were a handful of nursing mothers, separated from their babies, that would have been so blessed by another nursing mom, nurturing their babies… instead of pumping into plastic, as I did where I was at. My heart goes out to all affected by Hurricane Harvey, but especially the mothers and babies.

I will be traveling to Houston next weekend, and will be bringing supplies for moms and babies. If you live in Central Texas and would like to donate diapers, clothes, used breast pumps with new breast pump pieces (either, but both would be great), bottles, formula, or baby supplies- like toys, Boppys, activity mats, etc- I would be happy to meet you to collect these things. I hope to deliver this stuff, personally, to victims, to be sure it gets where it needs to get! (If this is not doable, I will bring the supplies to a drop-off in Katy, TX).

Another way to help is to exercise. That’s right: exercise! WaterRower has committed to donate $1 to the American Red Cross for Hurricane Harvey disaster relief for every 1,000 Meters you row, with a max of 10,000 Meters. All you have to do is take a photograph, caption your distance, and hashtag #RowforRelief and #WaterRower. If, in the next 12 days, over 2 million Meters are logged for this cause, WaterRower will DOUBLE their donation! (For those of you who accuse the American Red Cross of mishandling funds, the way I see it is this: all of the food and water the ARC provided, those survival kits, and >13,000 cots didn’t pay for themselves).

I spoke with my brother last night. They are fine. Flood waters came right up to his front door and stopped. (Albeit, they had crawfish crawling on the driveway after the waters subsided, but their home and family- including the dog- are fine). He feels guilty for their good fortune; he has coworkers who lost everything. No one in that area got out of this disaster unscathed.

Please give monitarily, if you can give money. Row, if you can exercise. Volunteer, if you can lend a hand. Pray, if you can find faith! Luke 16:7 says “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘be uprooted and be planted into the sea; and it would obey you.”

May the worst in Mother Nature bring out the best in human nature.

#RowforRelief #WaterRower

#RowforRelief
#WaterRower

On Wednesday, I rowed 5,000 Meters. I rowed another 5,000 today. You do the same! Post a picture to any social media outlet with your distance and use those two hashtags: #RowforRelief and #WaterRower.

 

One more thing, as a University of Houston alum, I feel behooved to end this post with this: Whose House? Coogs House!!!

 

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Announcing NEW Hyperwear Products

Check out the brand new Hyperwear soft barbell and soft kettlebell, just announced at IDEA World!  These are just prototypes, but check back at Hyperwear.com later this year for these awesome new products.  (Soft dumbbells, “SoftBells,” are already sold at hyperwear.com and on Amazon.)

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10 Push-Up Variations for your Best Arms Ever

Push-ups can, obviously, be progressed by transitioning from knees to toes. But that is not the only way to make your push-ups harder! There are plenty of ways to take a standard push-up and tack on a new layer to challenge your chest, core, arms, hips, and legs in new ways and get the most out of your movement. Here are 10 push-up variations for your best arms ever- do them on your toes if you have the strength to do so without breaking sturdy, safe, proper form.  If not, do them on your knees for now!

Perform 30-seconds of each of the following push-ups variations with 30-seconds of rest before progressing to next on the list. These may be performed on your knees or on your toes. Repeat this 10-minutes to “best arms” workout 4 non-successive days per week. Incorporate pulling exercises on off days to avoid shoulder imbalances from all pushing, no pulling.

1 Push-Ups with Shoulder Taps
Ex1.PUwithShoulderTapThe benefit of push-ups with shoulder taps is extra challenge to the (stable) shoulder, obliques, and abs.
Assume standard push-up position on knees or toes. Perform one push-up to the ground and up. At the top, touch one hand to the opposite shoulder.  As much as possible, avoid shifting your hips to the side. Repeat, tapping the other hand to the opposite shoulder on the next rep!

 

 

2 Tripod Push-Ups
Ex2.TripodPU.Step2The benefit of tripod (aka “3 point”) push-ups is extra challenge to the core.
Assume standard push-up position on the knees or toes. Lift one leg off the floor, even with the torso. Perform one push-up to the ground and up. At the top, place that foot down and lift the other leg. Notice the extra work on your middle muscles by removing one balance point! Repeat!

 

3 Diamond Push-Ups
Ex3.DiamondPU.Step2The benefit of diamond push-ups is extra challenge to the triceps.
Create a diamond shape with your thumbs and pointer fingers at the top of a push-up. Your hands do no have to touch, but they should be close. (For some people, hands touching may be achy for the wrists and elbows during this push-up). Wedge your elbows out wide and lower your torso towards the ground. Push up. Repeat!

 

4 Spider Push-Ups
Ex4.SpidermanPU.Step2The benefit of spider push-ups is extra challenge to the obliques, abs, chest, and shoulders.
Assume standard push-up position on knees or toes. Bring one knee to touch the triceps on that side. Keeping the knee touching the triceps (and possibly resting on the humorous bone), perform one push-up to the ground and up. At the top, switch legs. Repeat!

 

5 Crossover Push-Ups
Ex5.CrossoverPUThe benefit of crossover push-ups is extra challenge for the supporting shoulder, obliques, and abs.
Assume standard push-up position on knees or toes. Perform one push-up. At the top, step out to your toes (if you’re not already there) and tap one hand to the opposite foot. Repeat. Alternate leads every other rep (right hand to left foot, then left hand to right foot).

 

6 Clap Push-Ups
Ex6.ClapPUThe benefit of clap push-ups is extra challenge to the chest and core, and a heart rate spike (metabolic training).
Assume standard push-up position on knees or toes. Drop your chest towards the ground, then lift up and clap your hands together in front of your chest. (If you cannot do this without breaking the straight line from shoulder to hip to knee, omit this variation). Open your arms to catch yourself as your chest approaches the ground. Repeat!

 

7 Tuck Push-Ups
Ex7.TuckPUThe benefit of tuck push-ups is extra challenge for the abs, hips, and thighs, and heart rate spike
(metabolic training).
 

Assume standard push-up position on knees or toes. Perform one push-up. At the top, step out to your toes (if you’re not already there). Hop your feet in, under your belly to tuck your knees towards your belly. Hop the feet back out. Repeat!

 

8 SandBell Uneven Push-Ups
Ex8.SandBellPU.Step2The benefit of uneven push-ups is extra challenge for the chest, shoulders, triceps, and core.
An uneven push-up can be done with a medicine ball, but for a lower and more stable tool, try it with a SandBell. Place one hand on the Sandbell (or ball) and the other hand on the floor. Assume standard push-up position on knees or toes. Perform one push-up, then roll the medicine ball or flip the SandBell to the other side. Repeat!

 

9 Decline Push-Ups
Ex9.DeclinePU.Step2The benefit of decline push-ups is extra challenge for the chest, shoulders, triceps, and core.
Set a few risers under a step. Place your feet on the step and hands on the floor. (Because your head will be angled below your heart, omit this variation if you have high blood pressure). If you opt for knee push-ups, set your knees to the step, instead of toes! Perform a push-up, taking your chest towards the ground and up. Repeat!

 

10 Triple Clap Incline Push-Ups
Ex10.ClapFront-Back-Front.InclinePU.Step1The benefit of triple clap Incline push-ups is extra challenge to the chest and core, engaging good posture muscles on second clap, and a heart rate spike (metabolic training).
Set several riders under a step. Place your hands on the top of the step. Assume standard push-up position on knees or toes. Inhale as you rapidly but diligently drop your chest to the step, then explode your torso up and clap your hands together (1) in front of your chest, (2) behind your back, then again (3) in front of your chest. (If you cannot do this rapidly enough to be sure you avoid face planting, or if your hips pop out of alignment with the rest of your body, omit this variation). Open your arms to catch yourself as your chest approaches the step. Repeat!
Ex10.ClapFront-Back-Front.InclinePU.Step2Ex10.ClapFront-Back-Front.InclinePU.Step1

 

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Food and Fitness Friday 7

Mamabear doesn’t have time to watch a lot of television.  I record Good Morning America on ABC every morning.  It is the only show I watch and it takes me all day long to get through an episode, watching a little bit here and there.  I like GMA because it’s the closest thing out there to the “good news news.”  There are bad things and bad people in the world, but I need to believe there’s more good than bad.  That’s why I turn to GMA.  That, plus George Stephanopoulos interviews like a boss!

This week, GMA had a “Full Body Fit” series.  The editorial content in the beginning before the live practical demonstrations were fitness journalism done RIGHT!  Dr. Jordan Metzl was the contributing expert.  Check out the whole series if you can.

So, if a narrow-based push up (also known as a close-grip push-up) is best for muscle recruitment of the upper body, what’s a great sister exercise with that?  A pike!  Narrow-based push-ups engage all of the upper body, the core, and really burn the chest and shoulders.  Pikes engage all of the upper body, the core, and really burn the shoulders and abs.  That’s why for today’s fitness recommendation, I pair these sisters for your best shoulder series ever!

Take a stability ball and place your feet on the ball and hands on the floor, directly under your shoulders.  For the push-ups, drop your chest to the ground then up.  For the pikes, lift your hips over your shoulders then back to horizontal.  I recommend, if you’re just getting started, try:
4 narrow-based push-ups/1 pike
3 narrow-based push-ups/2 pikes
2 narrow-based push-ups/3 pikes
1 narrow-based push-up/4 pikes
As you get stronger, start with a higher rep number.  I like this inverted ladder with these two exercises.  Trust me, as you build the volume (number of reps) up, your shoulders will burn and your entire upper body and core will quiver like a quake!

And as for your food recommendation for today’s Food & Fitness Friday, let’s make it peachy!  I am a big proponent of tweaking the majority of fruits and vegetables in your diet around what’s in season at the time.  It’s summertime and the living is easy… and the peaches are GOOD!  I recommend cooking oatmeal (not the sugary stuff. Specifically, the only ingredient on the packaging should be oats) then stirring in freshly sliced peaches, a few walnuts, and a splash of whole milk or almond milk.  It’s a delicious, nutritious take on seasonal goodness: peaches and cream!

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Food & Fitness Friday 6

Grab a set of dumbbells, and let’s get to work on today’s Food and Fitness Friday!

Ladies, use 15-20 pound dumbbells. Men, 25-35 pound dumbbells. You only need one set that you’ll use for all of the strength exercises.

Here’s your workout of the week:
image1-724 Dumbbell push-ups*
24 Pop Jacks
12 Dumbbell Lunges Forward/Back RIGHT
12 Dumbbell Lunges Forward/Back LEFT
24 Plyo Lunges
24 Renegade Rows
24 Pop Jacks
24 Dumbbell Dead Lifts
24 Plyo Lunges
24 Dumbbell Triceps Kickbacks
24 Pop Jacks
24 Bicep Curls
24 Plyo Lunges 

*The dumbbells neutralize your wrists and provide greater range of motion for the shoulders than performing PUs with hands on the floor)
The Pop Jacks & Plyo Lunges are body weight only.
Here’s your recipe of the week.

Brotherbear thinks Mom’s gotten soft with this whole “mother-of-2″ thing and now letting him eat lots of ice cream.
Little does he know, it’s mock ice cream! (If he actually knew it was mostly cottage cheese, he’d say “I don’t yike that.”) Mom win!

 

image2-3As far as my own Mamabear Bod-After-Baby, trust me, I have not “bounced back.” I’m two pounds heavier now- at 7 weeks postpartum- than I was just four days after giving birth! (Nanabear says “in your Breasts!” and I can’t help but think of that line from Liar Liar). I’m now 14-pounds over my weight on my first prenatal doctor’s visit. I anticipate holding pretty steady around this weight for the first several months of breastfeeding. But what’s important is that I’m happy, and folks, I AM! The weight will come off- as will yours if you’re embracing healthy behaviors that do that. Mama to mama, enjoy this time and look far more often into the eyes of that miraculous little life you created than you do at the bathroom scale.

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Food and Fitness Friday 5

Summer is a great time for water. Rower, that is! What I love about rowing is that it works the quads, core, arms, upper back, lower back, glutes AND hamstrings! It also provides intense cardio!! As a mom, I’m all about efficiency- how to get as much accomplished in as little time as possible. Case in point: I siphoned water into my WaterRower while bathing my 4-year-old, nursing my infant, and snapping a shot for Instagram! (Granted, Brotherbear did most of the work by filling a water bottle with bath water and dumping it in to the bucket. I’m sure he had tinkled in it first, but that’s neither here nor there. Thank you, Brotherbear!)

IMG_9100IMG_9092

 

 

Very strenuous cardio while simultaneously working muscular endurance is what I call a “twofer.” Both are crucial from a metabolic standpoint, as well as for attaining my personal fitness goals- so I would be doing both types of exercise, anyway…may as well get two for the time of one!

Rowing technique almost always has room for improvement. Too many people push out and in quickly, but not efficiently. They don’t powerfully push with the legs. That’s problem one. Then they pull with the arms prematurely. That’s problem two, and it creates problem three: a short stroke.

You want long, efficient, powerful strokes when rowing. You should follow this technique:

Step 1- Push with the Legs
Step 2- Engage the Core and Lean Back (far beyond 90-degrees)
Step 3- Pull with the Arms
Step 4- Punch the Arms back Out
Step 5- Lean the Core back In
Step 6- Pull the Legs In and Reach the Arms far forward

This will challenge all the muscles I spoke of initially and give you a long, powerful stroke.

It will also be freggin’ hard! Remember what I always say: there’s sweetness in the struggle!

Try this Express Rowing Workout.

500 Meter Row
30-second rest
400 Meter Row
30-second rest
300 Meter Row
30-second rest
200 Meter Row
30-second rest
100 Meter Row
30-second rest
500 Meter Row

Challenge yourself to complete this in 10-minutes! Tough? Yes. But short, sweet, and exhilarating? Yes, Yes, Yes!! IMG_9507

 

 

 

 

 

 

After that, I recommend this easy, tasty, and healthy snack. It is well balanced with protein, carbs, and fat. (You could cut the sugar a bit by using PBfit, instead of PB2).

Mix…

7oz 2% Fage Greek yogurt
1/2 banana, sliced
1 T PB2

Stir and Done!

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Food and Fitness Friday 4

Human beings are creatures of habit. We like routine; we resist change; and we want to count on things staying the same. For those of you as methodical (OCD) as I am, not only do you like to repeat the same jogging distance, but you want to jog the same course at the same time and at the same intensity- all the time! You even have a set landmark finishing spot, and you absolutely have to hit that mark to feel complete. It’s your thing and you dig it.

From a fitness transformation standpoint, that doesn’t work. (Can you get really skinny, repeating that same jog over and over again, multiple times a day? Yes. But who has that kind of time on their hands? And wouldn’t you rather be fit than skinny?) The FITT Principle says that, in order to keep seeing fitness gains, you must change the Frequency, Intensity, Time, or Type of workout you’re doing.

Let me backtrack a bit and say if you are just getting started exercising, you don’t need to worry about the FITT Principle. You need to build an aerobic base (capacity of your heart and lungs to do somewhat tough work for a sustained period of time). A slow trek where you just keep going for 20-minutes or longer is a great place to start. You have to build that aerobic base before you can do anything else. Plus, initially, you will see changes from doing nothing to doing something. It’s just after you have been doing that a while, you’ll need to change things up to keep seeing results. (From a purely heart healthy standpoint, if this was all you ever did, it beats the heck out of doing nothing!)

For those of you who already have an established aerobic base, I’m not saying a workout should never be jogging a slow, steady pace in 70-degree breezy weather while singing along to Wilson Philips (“Hold on for one more day”)… These easy workouts enable you to get cardio and wellness benefits. They channel the parasympathetic nervous system. If you’re always doing very hard, strenuous workouts, your body will constantly feel under stress. The sympathetic nervous system will work overtime in “fight or flight” mode. Who wants to live in a catabolic state? (No one). So, occasional low-intensity workouts most certainly have their place. But if getting into serious shape is your pursuit, slow and steady cannot be your one trick pony.

There are plenty of ways you can spruce up the old jog. One is to, once or twice a week, do hill sprint repeats.

If you usually jog for distance, it may disappoint you that on these days, you won’t be logging as many miles as you do on long jogs. That’s not the point! Try to get that urge to always hit a certain mileage out of your head. The key with hill sprints is working very hard (all out!) during the on periods, recovering, then doing it all over again.

Okay, so find a hill! Search for a hill in your community that’s 200 meters long (half the length of one time around a track) and about 4-6% grade. If you aren’t quite sure what that looks like, try this workout first on a treadmill to get a feel for it. 6% grade for 200 meters is not always easy to find! Fortunately, if you’re reading this and live in central Texas, I have a few suggestions:

Georgetown- on Rabbit Hill Road, just north of Celebration Church, there’s a 200M incline at 6% grade.  I have named it “Lucifer.”
Round Rock- in Teravista, on Teravista Parkway. Begin at the rectangular concrete slab on the east side of the street; end at the speed limit sign. You’ll pass the nature trail about halfway up.
Taylor- in the Mustang Ridge neighborhood (around FM 973 and the Loop). Around the middle of the community, there’s a 200 meter hill at 6% grade.
Austin- there are plenty of these in the Jester area. (I mean, there’s even a road named Great Hills). *Some will be steeper than 6% grade… if you couldn’t run it, all the way up, it’s probably too steep for this.

Wherever you live, find that sweet 200M, 4-6% incline… then here’s the plan!

Bring a digital stopwatch (or use the stopwatch on your smartphone). Do a light jog to the landmark so that you are warmed up.

Sprint with all your might up the 200M hill. (pump your arms big and brisk- it’ll help). Acknowledge your time.

Take two to three times the duration of your sprint to catch your breath, walk back down, and get your mind and body ready to do it again.

Be sure to time your sprint every time. If you’re used to steady state jogs, you’ll be tempted to just jog the hill with no pressure of performance by a stopwatch. Remember: this workout is about performance! You’ll have your days to jog without care of time. But this one is about bettering your best, and you do that by using the clock!

With training, most of you will be able to sprint the 200M in about 1-minute. (Yes, it depends some on how steep the hill is you selected within that range, but that’s doable for most people on 4-6% with training). If it takes you 1:00 to sprint up, stop the watch at the top and being counting the 2:00 to 3:00 time until you go again. The time you take to catch your breath and hydrate should all fit within that time, as well as your walk or jog back down the hill.

Repeat the hill sprint 5-10 times. When finished, as a recovery, jog slowly back to wherever you came (maybe singing along to Wilson Philips :-).

 

If you’re just getting started, 5 hill sprint repeats will be plenty. I would recommend, for most of you, starting with 5 repeats and doing that workout twice a week for two weeks. Then bump it up to 6 repeats. Spend two weeks there before raising it to 7.  At this recommendation, it’ll take you 12 weeks to complete this program (2 d/wk, 2 wks with 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, then 10 hill sprint repeats, respectively). After those 12 weeks, it may be time to find a new hill!

May your gams and glutes feel burn they have not felt in a while (or ever!) and may you shock your body and see results from adding these hill sprints into your program!

 

 

FOOD

There’s something new on the freezer aisle that’s changed the game of convenient healthy eating since the birth of my first child. I am not compensated in any way for this endorsement. This marvel in “TV dinners” is called Cafe Simply Steamers by Healthy Choice. Read the label! It is “simply” veggies, protein, and good-for-you carbs without any added fat, sodium, or flavoring of any kind. Underneath that is a healthy sauce. Because they’re separated, you can use as much or as little of the sauce as you’d like. Now, most of these dinners are in the 250 kcal range, which isn’t sufficient enough to make a meal for a nursing mother.

So, I add a few quick and easy (& super simple) homemade ingredients…

I boil a few red potatoes for about 15-minutes. I then turn off the heat and toss raw broccoli, mushrooms, and red bell pepper in the starchy water for about 5-minutes. I cook some chicken tenderloins in olive oil, salt, and pepper on the stovetop or grill while the veggies cook. Last, I chop up the chicken, drain the veggies, and add to the Cafe Simply Steamers. This more than doubles the volume of food! I use all of the sauce from the bottom compartment of the Simply Steamer- but you don’t have to! It’s so easy, so healthy, and so delicious!

 

Photographed is the Cafe Simply Steamers by Healthy Choice grilled chicken pesto & vegetables… plus my homemade steamed red potatoes, mushrooms, red bp, and grilled chicken.

IMG_9193 I also very highly recommend the Unwrapped Burrito Bowl- it’s my favorite!!

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Food and Fitness Friday 3

If I’m working out from home, I often turn to workout videos.  They entertain and motivate me- and I’m not just talking about other people’s workout videos.  I do my own workout videos all the time!  Here’s one I’m particularly fond of because it blends athletic conditioning with a little choreography.  It’s 30-minutes, total running time, and includes abs at the end.  If you don’t have a GoFit 12″ plyo box, just use an aerobic bench with some risers.  If you are on carpet, you probably won’t need the mat for abs- but it’s always nice!  This is my WOD (workout of the day).  Hope to hear you enjoy it, too!!

As for food, it’s time we talk about the incredible edible egg.  Many of you are still only eating egg whites and discarding the yolk.  You are missing many of the nutrients and a great deal of protein.  Here’s why you should consider eating the whole egg.  Have you ever tried a soft boiled egg?  Check out this to-die-for Skinnytaste recipe for soft boiled egg with steamed asparagus.

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Food and Fitness Friday 2

Three years ago, I personal trained a postnatal client to strengthen her core and tone her upper body after baby with a series of push-ups, planks, and V-ups, crisscrosses, and double leg stretches.  To support and encourage her, I committed to doing a similar workout, myself.  5 days a week, I did 60 push-ups per day.  I kept that up for over two years- until my recent pregnancy made it too challenging to push my body weight up.  Those 60 PUs/d are the singular thing I pinpoint as what made remarkable improvement in my core endurance and got my upper body more toned than ever before.  Sisterbear was my second pregnancy.  I had absolutely zero lower back pain with her pregnancy.  I absolutely attribute that to the core strength and endurance that I had built through those years of daily push-ups!

IMG_6365Back then, I started with 3 sets of 20 push-ups on my toes.  Oh man, I would struggle towards the end!  That’s a good thing- you want to hit a point where it’s dreadfully difficult to continue, but you can… quivering… but you can!  With consistency in training, I was able to do more before hitting that “OMG this is so hard” point.  So, I extended the set.  By summer 2016, I was up to 2 sets of 30 push-ups on my toes.  The key is to be sure your number of reps and your body position deliver a challenge by the end that is very hard to push through, but you can- and with proper form.

Now, at <4 weeks postpartum, my form is crummy with push-ups on the toes.  Push-ups on my knees are far better suited for me right now.  How can you tell which option is best for you?  If your body (from shoulder-to hip-to heel) looks like a perfectly straight sloping line that you can maintain from top-to-bottom-to-top of a push-up, do your push-ups on your toes!  If your hips droop or pop up at any part of that movement phase, try it on your knees, instead.  If, still, you cannot maintain alignment from shoulder-to hip-to knee, a simpler option yet may be to perform modified push-ups in quadruped position (on “all 4s”), just keeping your boo-tay up and dropping your chest to the ground.

The song “Cupid’s Chokehold” has a great beat for an endurance workout.  {The lyric “Take a Look at my Girlfriend” that’s repeated throughout also felt appropriate for my uhh-session with sweet, gentle, beautiful, teeny tiny Sisterbear}.  From top-to-finish, this push-ups workout will take you 4-minutes.  I opted for push-ups on the knees, but ballers out there can amp it up to push-ups on the toes, or newbies to fitness can ease it up with quadruped position!  Pick the position that will challenge YOU by the end of 4-minutes… that may mean starting out with one option, then changing to an easier option midway through.  That’s A-ok!!

4-minutes Upper Body & Core Workout from Brook Benten on Vimeo.

I hope, by the end, you’re super fatigued… maybe plummet down and almost swear- as I did in this video!!

For a quick protein-packed snack or dessert, try my healthy banana pudding.  You will be shocked at how easy and delicious this is!  Plus, if you’re like me, you always end up buying too many bananas than you can use before they turn brown… here’s your solution for what to do with those!

4-ingredient super healthy banana pudding (2-mins total time!)
Great post-workout snack or dessert
1. nonfat cottage cheese 2. overripe banana 3. vanilla whey protein 4. cinnamon BLEND!

 

 

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