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Abs, Abs, Abs

Hey y’all! For this Wellness Wednesday, we’re going to be talking about abs. That’s right, it’s winter time, and I am still working on my abs, keeping them from disappearing even though sweater season is right around the corner. At least, in my case, I sure hope it is, Florida seems slow on the winter update.

So before you start moaning and groaning, let me first say that having a strong core can help you with so much more than just looking great at the pool or beach. While it definitely has that benefit, it’s also helpful for keeping you balanced, as well as helping you to build muscle in other areas. Not to mention, if you are a dancer or even singer, a stronger core will help you to perform better. I remember my ballet days, and despite the main focus being on my posture and form and stretching my legs, I also had to have a good core to be able to do some of those moves. So if you’ve ever wanted to pursue dance or singing, then you’ll definitely want to work on those abs.

Now, you may be thinking, ick crunches, I hate crunches. I actually don’t hate crunches, but they can get a bit boring. Not to mention, regular crunches only work one part of your abs, while you have other parts that need to be worked too. Luckily, there are some variations on crunches, which I do every single night.

  1. Froggy crunches. I’m sure there’s a better name for them, but they make me think of frogs for some reason. Basically, lay down on your back and put your feet together, with your knees on opposite sides, like the butterfly stretch, except laying down. Then do your crunches as normal.
  2. Legs up crunches. Again, a simple variation, you’ll just want to lift your legs up in the air, bent at the knees and do your crunches as normal.
  3. Planks. Oh planks, can’t say I don’t hate those, but they are fantastic for working on your abs. They aren’t necessarily a crunch variation, but they’re a great workout so they had to make the list.
  4. Standing crunches. These are better if you don’t want to get down on the floor. So you’ll stand with your feet shoulder length apart, and you’ll bring your leg up to your chest, one at a time, alternating, while also crunching your stomach inward.

I am trying to keep my health a focus and priority, and that means not taking many days off from workouts. These are some of my go-tos for every day, and so far I’m really seeing progress that I’m very happy with. I hope they help you out and that you continue to make fitness a priority in your life as well! And don’t feel that you can’t start now, New Years doesn’t have to be the starting point to getting your health where you want it.

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Get Your Greens

Hey y’all so by now we’ve all heard it enough since we were kids to eat our greens. In fact, it’s just as important now to eat your greens as it was then. No, you’re probably not still growing into a big strong kid, but your body still needs that fuel and for this Wellness Wednesday, it’s all about getting your greens!

A colorful plate is a healthy plate is what health experts are saying, and while it’s tempting to look at a bowl of M&Ms or Skittles that’s not quite what they mean when they talk about a colorful plate. Instead, think about veggies!M&M's Chocolates in Bowl

I personally have always been pretty good about eating my vegetables, even since I was a kid. I always like broccoli, green beans, peas, even lima beans. But thankfully, my palate has expanded since then to now include other greens like kale, spinach, and asparagus. However, I understand that not everyone loves these things, which is why there are some easy ways to sneak it into foods, so you won’t even taste it. These tips are great for if you have kiddos too or simply struggle to make those healthy meals each night!

Get your greens tips:

  • Blend them in a smoothie. Adding fresh or frozen kale or spinach to a smoothie automatically bumps the healthy up a level, and with it blended with other fruit and delicious protein powder, you won’t even taste it! I even found a protein powder that has greens and the protein, I ordered some this weekend and once it arrives, I’ll start making my smoothies that way. If you’re interested, it’s Tone It Up Greens and Vanilla Protein Powder. Their protein is plant-based, and tastes fantastic.Clear Glass Bottle Filled With Broccoli Shake
  • Add them to pasta dishes. I know when I was a kid, I was a bit of a picky eater, but you know what would guarantee I’d eat it? Put it in pasta. I’d eat anything if there was pasta over or under it, and sadly, that hasn’t changed. But it’s a great way to get some spinach or even zucchini in your diet, without really noticing the taste.unnamed (2)
  • Speaking of zucchini, did you know there are zucchini brownies and muffins out there to make? They taste great, and I can assure you, you won’t even taste it. One of my favorites is pumpkin zucchini muffins, which you can find the recipe here. 
  • Eat them with rice for a delicious power bowl. These can be prepped ahead of time, and are so easy to make. Just start with a bed of brown rice, then add your favorite veggies, heavy on the greens, and voila, you have a delicious and healthy lunch that didn’t take too long to prepare.
  • Add them to casseroles. With the blend of different flavors, you won’t even realize you’re eating a whole bunch of veggies, because it tastes so good! There’s a plethora of healthy casserole dishes out there, all you have to do is a quick web search to pull up some recipes.
  • Make a veggie soup. Simple, delicious, and perfect for the cooler weather, soups can be a wonderful option for dinner with sandwiches or bread or salad, and you can get plenty of greens in there.

 

Have a Cup of Tea

Ahh tea, one of my absolute favorite drinks. It’s perfect for hot or cold weather, since you can drink it hot or iced, and there are so many flavors and styles, it’s impossible not to enjoy a good cup of tea. Not to mention, you can drink it however you like, with milk, sugar, lemon, nothing added at all, how you drink the tea is completely up to you. But you know what’s even better than all of that? The health benefits of drinking a good cup of tea.

I’ve been having a cup of tea each morning for months now, and even when I was a kid, my gram and I used to do tea parties each afternoon where we’d enjoy a cup of tea in her tea china. Needless to say, that holds amazing memories for me, and that’s definitely where my love of tea came from. However, if you don’t have something like that that made you a tea drinker, these health benefits may just convince you to have a cup of tea.

Health Benefits of Drinking Tea:

  • Soothes a sore throat. I think it’s safe to say we all want a nice hot cup of tea when we’re feeling sick and have a sore throat. It’s soothing, and there are certain types of tea that are better than others for helping it. Lemon tea is great for helping with that, as are the special Throat Coat teas that are made specifically with sore throats in mind.
  • Helps ease your stomach. A cup of ginger or peppermint tea can help if you are having some nausea or an upset stomach. It’s an all natural way to get feeling better in no time!
  • Helps ease anxiety. Peppermint and chamomile tea are great for helping when you are feeling anxious or stressed. If you’re struggling to sleep at night, chamomile is great as are special blends of night time tea that may include lavender or chamomile.
  • Gives antioxidants. Most teas, but especially green teas, are high in antioxidants which help your body to stay healthy. Having a cup of green tea each day can be extremely beneficial to your health.
  • Wakes you up. Green tea has an all-natural form of caffeine, so if you feel you can’t quite quit the coffee habit, this is a great alternative to help you still get that jolt. Black tea is also full of caffeine, so that’s a great option as well.
  • May help reduce heart issues and cancer. Tea has these things called flavonoids in it, which can be very beneficial for reducing heart issues and even potentially helping protect against cancer. Seems like a great reason to add a cup or two to your diet!
  • Lower cholesterol. Oolong tea has actually be found to help lower bad cholesterol in an animal study, so if that’s a health issue you’re currently working with, it certainly couldn’t hurt to add a cup or two each day to help with that.

The reality is, there are so many benefits to tea, some of which are just relaxation and enjoyment. One of my favorite things that I’ve done with some family friends is going to an afternoon tea and just spending time together over delicious little snacks and several pots of tea.

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Get Your Steps In!

I think by now we all know how important exercise is. However, did you know the reasoning behind getting in your 10,000 steps a day? Of course, most of us have heard of this goal, but we may not know the reasoning behind it. Luckily, I pulled that information, so you now know why you need to get your steps in!

As with most forms of exercise, getting your steps in is not just to torture you, there are real health benefits to it. So check them out and start walking!

  • Increased flexibility. That’s right, just walking can help with that, though I definitely suggest adding something else on too to help keep those muscles loose.
  • Burn fat. It’s a form of working out, so of course, by getting those 10,000 steps you are burning calories and fat.
  • Promote good digestion. This one may be a bit surprising, it’s actually not something I had known about previously.
  • Relieves stress. Especially now that we are getting into cooler weather, there’s nothing like a nice walk outside in the brisk fall air to help you get out of your head and let go of some of that stress.
  • Increases energy. All forms of exercise give you more energy after to tackle what’s left of your day, so make sure you hit those step goals!
  • Improves posture. This one is important for soo many reasons, the top one being, you don’t want to see a chiropractor once a week for the rest of your life! So stop slouching and get walking!

There have also been a few studies showing women especially are less likely to suffer from medical issues if they get their 10,000 steps a day. So ladies, and gents, please make time for this, and use a tool to help you know if you got your steps. If you have an Apple watch or Fitbit, check those stats! If not, pedometers and other fitness trackers are cheap, and easy to use 🙂

Get Those Gains

Hey y’all, this post is for those of you readers who want to work on some gains. Well, some of these tips come straight from a coworker and friend of mine who is absolutely crushing it in the health and fitness department, and I figured I’d share some of the tips that she gave to me.

Now, I’m not really focused on becoming a bodybuilder, but I do want to build up some muscle and get my arms especially a lot more toned than they are. I was chatting with my friend about this one day, and since she’s built up her body so much in the past few years and is super dedicated and focused on healthy eating and personal training, I figured I’d ask her for some tips and tricks, anything to really help me in this fitness goal, since I don’t have a lot of information on it.

Well guys, here are her suggestions on how to get those gains, at least a few pounds of muscle, and to really tone up and build.

  1. Do cardio for 30 minutes a day. You really don’t need much more than that, she’s not the only one saying this, there are many studies showing that if you do more than that, you’re not really doing much more for your body. So aim for 30 minutes a day or 150 minutes of moderate cardio each week. This is also good for cardiac health, which is key to survival 😉
  2. Do various exercises every other day, taking a rest day in-between. So for example, if you do arms one day, do a whole bunch of different exercises to work all of the muscles, not just the main ones. Same thing for legs, but if you do this, you’ll want to do around 3 sets, and 10-15 reps of each, so you’ll definitely need to take that rest day in between your workouts.
  3. Build it up slowly. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your muscles be. So take it slowly, and build up the weights slowly. If you’re like me and are working with dumbbells, rather than building up the weights, you’ll want to build up the sets. Just take your time, don’t move too fast because an injury will put you further behind.
  4. Use protein powder to help. Make sure you’re getting enough protein in your diet, and an easy way to do this is with protein powder. Every morning I make a protein smoothie for after my workout, for several reasons. One, it helps keep me full throughout the day, and two, it helps my muscles repair themselves after each workout, which is very important.
  5. Listen to your body. This may be the most important one, if your body hurts or something doesn’t feel right, listen to your body. Take an extra day off, make sure that you’re not pushing yourself too much to where you’ll suffer an injury. I know from experience that pushing yourself too hard, only results in you falling further behind on your goals, so take it from me, if your body is saying no, listen to it.
  6. Eat well. This is also key to building up those muscles, eat healthy fruits, veggies, and lean meats, and don’t be afraid to have several meals in a day. As long as you’re eating healthy things, don’t feel guilty about snacking. Snacks are important when you’re trying to build up your gains, so make sure you have good snacks like an apple in peanut butter or hummus and pita chips. Even trail mix is a great option with the nuts and dried fruit.

I hope these tips help, and if you have any other suggestions, please leave them in the comments below!

Cinnamon Apple Breakfast Quinoa

In honor of fall being just around the corner, I present to you, a cinnamon apple breakfast quinoa recipe that is sure to delight your tastebuds and keep you feeling full all morning long! This recipe makes enough for two, so if you’re cooking for more, just go ahead and double or triple the recipe.

You’ll Need:

  • 1/2 cup of quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups of water
  • 2 large apples, peeled, cored, and diced
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • A dash of honey to taste

How To Prepare:

  • Put quinoa, water, and apples in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer 20-25 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, stir in cinnamon, and serve with a dash of honey!

That’s it, it’s super easy! For drool-worthy pics and to check out the original recipe, go here. Enjoy!

Cinnamon Apple Breakfast Quinoa

No Gym Gym

If you’ve made some resolutions and health goals, but unfortunately can’t find it in the budget for a gym membership, I have news for you. You don’t need one! You can achieve your health goals without having to pay for an expensive membership or the expensive equipment that some use to build their own home gyms. Check out my suggestions for a no gym gym, that uses things you already have or can get pretty cheaply.

  • Run outside. Fresh air is free, and with sunrise being earlier and sunset being later, there is no time like the present to get outside before or after work and taking a brisk walk or run. You can even alternate between the two. Just make sure you keep your heart rate elevated for 30 minutes each day to truly get the cardiac benefits.
  • Use chairs to help with stretching. As someone who did ballet, I had to practice even when I wasn’t in the dance studio taking my lessons. However, I never had a ballet bar installed in my house, which meant I had to get very creative. Even though I no longer do recitals or take lessons, though I may go back to it, I still remember some of the stretches and practices, and have found that using the back of a couch is a pretty close second to a ballet bar. A hard backed chair works as well, just make sure it is firm enough to support your ankle and not too high to where you are uncomfortable while stretching.
  • Utilize your swimming pool. This may be surprising to some, but your pool can be used for more than lust-worthy Instagram pictures. You can swim laps, as well as do different core workouts! And if you have a pool or a community pool, you can get a workout in for free.
  • Try free classes in the area. If you think you’d like to take a class in the future and have the money for it, try some out on a trial basis to find the right fit for you. You don’t want to get locked into a membership if you find out that you really hate yoga and can’t stand hearing the word “namaste.”
  • Get a cheap pair of dumbbells for your arms. That’s how I get my arm workouts in each day, I don’t have any fancy equipment, just two 5 pound dumbbells that help me keep my arms toned. I may not be able to up the weight, but I can change the different sets and reps and exercises that I do to get all the muscles worked out.
  • Use an exercise band. These are also really inexpensive, but can help a lot with stretching and even resistance training.

There are so many ways to have a no gym gym, and most of it is completely free. You just may have to think a little bit outside of the box, but it’ll definitely be worth it.

Pick Up a Hobby You Stopped as a Kid

Most of us tried various hobbies as kids, and then dropped them. Pick up a hobby you stopped as a kid and see if it still brings you the same joy it did then or maybe even if you hated it then and now love it.

Yoga

If you’re looking to improve your flexibility, calm your mind, and work on your core, there is one workout that does all of the above. Yoga! In college, I did rooftop yoga once a week on the roof of the gym at my school, and I absolutely loved it. Now, in the words of the yoga instructor, this was not “namaste yoga” this was “CORE yoga” and she was not kidding, it was a great workout, I felt relaxed, but I also felt it the next day, it was a serious workout. Of course, depending on what you prefer, you may choose a more relaxed yoga, a core yoga, or even hot yoga, though since I live in the South, unless it’s outside, I want my yoga air conditioned, but that’s just me.

No matter which you choose, there are plenty of benefits to it for both men and women. I slacked on it a bit after college, unfortunately finding a good yoga place here is difficult, so I started doing it myself at the house with the help of videos. No matter how you do it, you’ll notice the benefits. I always find myself more relaxed after a yoga session, and yes, it is a bit of a time commitment, but if you’ve always wondered and never tried it, I encourage you to do so. It’s definitely worth it.

 

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