Women's Health 15-Minute Workouts Review

Thursday, February 28, 2013

I first saw this book at a book fair we had at work and it, of course, caught my eye. A comprehensive collection of 15 minute workouts? Of course that would catch my attention. I passed it by though in honor of my family's budget (I'm such a martyr, I know). Then, I put the book on my Amazon wishlist, where it's been for quite some time. Then, the book fair came back to my work months later. I didn't think they'd actually have the same book again as their selection is ever-changing, but they did! I finally bought it. When something has been on your wishlist for that long, you know it's time.

Women's Health 15 min workouts photo P2231293_zps1451af68.jpg

So far, I'm loving the book. Instead of all those scraps of magazines lying all around my house, I now have a perfectly bound book of them all in one place. Ahhhh. This must be Women's Health's way of creating feng shui throughout the homes of magazine workout page hoarders. Tell me I'm not the only one, please!
Here are the coolest things about owning this book:

1. The variety of workouts: this book has workouts of all varieties--everything from weight lifting to martial arts to yoga and pilates. All in one place. My workouts always depend on the mood I'm in, how sore or stressed out I am, and where I am. There is a workout in this book for every mood and every level of fitness equipment access you have.

2. Doable time limit: everyone has a spare 15 minutes, right? We twiddle away time on all sorts of so-called extracurricular activities (Pinterest browsing, anyone?) We can certainly find 15 minute increments throughout our week to fit in these exercises. See my post on finding time to work out if you're not convinced.

3. You can easily combine workouts: 15 minutes might not cut it for some more serious exercises. Well, all you need to do is combine two or more routines or perform the circuits a few extra times. Simple as that!

4. Trip-friendly: I plan on packing this book the next time I head out of town. Many of the workouts require little to no equipment. Instead of trying to dig through my stack of magazine workouts to find do-anywhere moves, I can just pack this one book. Simple!

5. Pretty pictures and quality cues: the quality photography and physical cues lead you through the workouts without too many questions. I have not come across an exercise yet that made my eyebrows furrow and wonder "what are they talking about?" Each move is pretty crisp, clear and comprehensively described.

6. Price: the price was super friendly at the book sale--about 1/2 off the publisher's price. Even Amazon has the book for a cool $9.00 used. That's about the cost of 1.5 magazines off the magazine stand.

I tried the stress-busting routine earlier last week and enjoyed the heart-pumping workout it gave me. A boosted metabolism and sculpted limbs? Um, yes please.

15 min stress workout photo P2231294_zps9f6c9e38.jpg

Guess who I spied on the pages of the book? Tone It Up's very own Katrina Hodgson. I thought those moves looked familiar! They're pretty true to the Tone It Up style. Can't complain about that.

TIU workout photo P2231299_zpsc718af32.jpg

TIU workout photo P2231298_zps00bf2559.jpg

Are you convinced to buy it yet? :) Or, do you know of any Android apps that offer this same type of thing? Because that would probably make me pass out in amazement.

*Note: I was not compensated or solicited in any way to endorse this book. This is simply me giving my personal review.

More Mantra Madness

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Oh, the power of a mantra! No new DIY mantra ideas have popped into my head lately, but that doesn't mean they haven't been on my mind--or placed in front of me out of nowhere! Take, for example, my current computer wallpaper. There I was, minding my own business, when a tweet came up on my feed about a free "'make it happen" wallpaper design. Of course, I immediately clicked.

This beautiful wallpaper is the design of the talented designer, Breanna Rose.  Add this wallpaper to your computer background to remind you every day about your goals and that you have the power to make them reality. Go ahead and search your own personal mantra on Pinterest, and you might come across some beautiful prints or backgrounds like this.

Handstamped Jewelry: Stamping a mantra into a bracelet is another fantastic way to keep your mantra within sight at all times. This particular mantra is something I say to my son every night: "Dream Big." I want him to grow up knowing that he is only restricted by the bounds of his imagination and determination. I never want him to feel that his dreams are only pipe dreams. He can Make Them Happen. Those sweet little nothings we whisper in their ears can mean so much, can't they?

 photo P9090939.jpg

By the way, you can buy a basic little handstamping kit at the hardware store for less than $10. Harbor Freight carries them for around $7. Handstamping is such an easy little art, once you learn how to do it. All you need to do is hammer the letters into an aluminum disc like this, color in the letters with permanent marker, and sand over the top to give it shine and remove the surface ink. I went to a craft night at a little local handmade shop and learned just how to do it.

 photo P9090938.jpg

If you haven't checked out my other mantra projects, check them out here:

Weekly Food Rundown

Monday, February 25, 2013

 photo 7a0e3606-0646-4e33-9c1c-ec30739425c2_zps0cc1fc6b.jpg

I am one of those people that can eat the same thing every day for five days. It makes prepping on Sunday for the week a whole lot easier. I try to plan what I'm going to have for the following week by Friday. That way, I can put together the grocery list for Hubster by Saturday (he does the grocery shopping. Whew!) and prepare everything on Sunday.

Here's what's in my lunch bag this week--all healthy and as "clean" as possible. I am participating in a health bet (more on that to come), so I have been making very health-conscious decisions about my weekly fare. Even more so than normal! Here's what's in my lunch bag for the week and the approximate calorie counts for how I prepared them:

 photo P2241316_zpsa2fc19c7.jpg


fitnessista breakfast cookie photo P2241317_zps5bf5d63e.jpg

Snack #1:
  • Cottage cheese with pineapple bits (1/2c and 1/4c respectively)
  • 119 calories

 photo P2241320_zpsf1dab601.jpg


lentil meatloaf photo P2241323_zpsbc83f9a3.jpg

Snack #2:

Broccoli chickpea salad photo P2241318_zpsba8053ff.jpg

It took me all of about 1 hour to prepare a week's worth of food on Sunday night. That is a very short amount of time compared to the time it would take to prepare all these meals--or different meals--separately throughout the week. While working in the kitchen, I am always preparing multiple things at once. For example, while the lentils are simmering, I'm mixing up breakfast cookie batter ingredients. I also have a tendency to choose very easy recipes so I'm in and out of the kitchen as fast as possible. I'm a low-maintenance cooker--I like my food healthy, fast, easy and tasty. You know, no pressure.

The breakfast cookie is awesome because it tastes like an indulgence. And, because you prepare it the night before, you have zero to prep the next morning. This is good for me, because I'm always running perpetually late on weekday mornings. The breakfast cookie is actually my recipe for being on time. No joke!

I'm on a chickpea kick, so I googled "easy chickpea recipes" and came up with this whole chickpea slideshow on Eating Well. I chose a simple super nutrient-dense salad that tastes amazing. I would probably add chickpeas to anything. Well...except breakfast.

I also have a goal to incorporate more lentils into my diet since they're amazing. I never had any growing up and only recently discovered their magic. I've been researching lentil recipes for awhile now in an attempt to add more lentils to my recipe library.

Dinner will depend upon my family. I have some healthy butternut squash mac 'n cheese up my sleeve as well as mini whole wheat English muffin pizzas (DIY to come). By the way, no I am not a vegetarian, but I do try to eat as little red meat as possible and am willing trade meat for healthier vegetarian options sometimes.

Perhaps one day, I can build up a nice array of these meal plans to help you, my readers, create your own healthy weekly menus. Would you be interested?

How do you prepare for the week?

Weekly Workout Rundown

Sunday, February 24, 2013

 weekly workout rundown

Here is a rundown of my workout schedule for the week:

  • 35 min run in AM
  • 20 gym strength training at lunch
  • 15 min PM workout from this book (review to come!)
  • 35 min run in AM
  • 30 min slow/mod walk at lunch
  • 35 min run in AM
  • 30 min slow/mod walk at lunch
  • 40 min Shiva Rea yoga in PM
  • Rest
  • 30 min slow/mod walk at lunch
  • 35 min interval run in AM
  • 30 min brisk walk at lunch
  • 25 min Supreme 90 Day Total Body
  • 60 min run (4.5 miles)
  • Rest
This is a pretty typical workout week for me. I always get 5 days of running and 3 days of strength training in. Then, I walk with my mom on my lunch break sometimes and if I'm feeling super strong, I might do other activities. I've just started incorporating foam rolling into my routine. And adding in a regular yoga rotation has been one of my goals for this year.

When my son was first born, I always did a 30 to 60 minute Yoga Today workout every Saturday morning, bar none. I always felt better equipped to handle a newborn after Zen-ing out for awhile. My husband was ever so kind to let me have Saturday mornings to sleep in a bit and do some sun salutations. I've been having some issues with stress lately, so I want to make sure I keep calm by incorporating a regular yoga practice. Plus, I sometimes get all hardcore on my workouts, and it's a nice change of pace to slow down and stretch out (although Shiva Rea is no lightweight). I could use a little more flexibility in my life.

I'm going to try and make it a habit to log my workouts here once a week, just to show you how I'm training and to keep myself accountable. Also, I want to see progress. I think that by posting this, I will have a tangible progress report to pump me up for the next week.

What about you? What is your regular workout routine?

Birthday Banner DIY: Tassels

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

I love a good tassel. I'm not a fan of tasseled shoes or curtains, but give me some pretty yarn tassels in a bunting banner, and I just might swoon. I've seen some tassel DIY's out on the interwebs, but I just wanted something really really simple. So, I decided to create my own DIY.

 photo P5120643.jpg

First, cut and gather a handful of 12" strips of yarn. Let's say, about 10 strips total for a thinner tassel. Add as many more strips as you'd like to beef up the effect.

 photo P5120644.jpg

Fold the strips over the top of what will be your hanging string.

 photo P5120645.jpg

Then, take one side of the tassel, wind it around the other tail,
and form a knot around the banner string.

 photo P5120646.jpg

By wrapping one tail around the other, versus just tying a knot at the bottom, 
you create the tassel-like effect seen here:

 photo P5120647.jpg

Continue making and attaching tassels until you get the desired effect.

Yarn Tassel Banner photo P5120641.jpg

I then made a "happy birthday" banner overlay using alpha stencils and matching scrapbook paper.

*Brushes hands together* That's it, my friends! Another birthday celebrated in handmade style.

Check out my other birthday banner creations:

Barefoot Running Review

Monday, February 11, 2013

I recently picked up The Barefoot Running Book by Jason Robillard from the library (where else?). Like so many others, I became interested in barefoot running after reading about the concept in Born to Run. Turns out, the book is a fascinating read that I recommend to all my fellow runners or runners-to-be out there. The arguments for running barefoot are quite staggering.

Barefoot Running Research

Take, for example, the studies explored in the beginning of the book. They seem to suggest that running in old, worn out, cheap shoes is the best for running. The closer to barefoot you get, the better for your body. The modern cushioned running shoe has led to a higher injury rate. Absolutely no studies indicate that they're any good for you. In fact, the total opposite is true. One study of over 5000 race finishers shows that "those who ran in expensive shoes (costing more than $95) were more than twice as likely to have been injured in the past year than those who ran in cheaper shoes (costing less than $40)." See page 6 for this fascinating research.
Treadmill Barefoot Running
Some takeaway tips and tricks that I will be incorporating into my own training are these:

1. On page 104, Robillard suggests that "a necklace can be a handy training tool. As you run, the necklace should remain more or less stationary around you neck. If it bounces up and down, you are probably over striding. If it sways side to side, your upper body is moving too much or your arms are moving across your body." I love this simple way to tell if you're running with the correct form. Unless I have someone following me who is trained in critiquing running form, how would I know if I was doing it correctly? I might feel as though I am running efficiently, but, on my own, I am always uncertain about the correct posture. A necklace! Simple  as that.

2. You should practice running in short, quick strides. One way to train yourself to take short enough strides is to set a metronome to 180 beats per minute and keep pace. Reason being that shorter, softer, less vertical movement uses less energy than big vertical movements. Also it's helpful to focus on lifting the foot versus landing. This way, you're always thinking of elevating, creating lighter footing.

3. Robillard also offers another handy nugget about proper posture with this super simple exercise. Raise your hands over your head and stretch upward. The posture that this leaves you in is the best posture for running. I have routinely stopped myself on the treadmill when I have felt myself slumping and perform this exercise. It really brings awareness back to the correct body posture.

I have tried a little bit of barefoot running on my home treadmill. I can't wait to try it out this summer on the sidewalk, as the ground is like permafrost right now in Wisconsin. That's right--the sidewalk. Robillard emphasizes the efficiency of running on concrete. If you see a goofy blond running around sans shoes, now you'll know the backstory.

And I'll leave you with some handy resources reiterated several times throughout the book for further exploration:

Chi running
Kemme Fitness
Evolution Running
Good Form Running
Pose Method
Barefoot Running University: Robillard's very own website

Have you jumped on the barefoot running train yet? Would you ever consider running barefoot?

Personal Trainer Interview 3: Sarah Loranger

Friday, February 1, 2013

Sarah Loranger just passed her personal training test last week. *High fives* all around! Since she's a brand new personal trainer, I thought she could give us a unique perspective from someone who is just starting out and fresh off the hot-testing-seat. She is also a Tone It Up member, which is how I actually met her.

Thanks so much for being with us Sarah and for sharing your fresh insight!

"My main goals this year are to learn as much as possible working in the fitness industry and inspire as many people as I can!"

1. What was the driving force behind your decision to become a personal trainer?

During college I gained about 20 pounds. I knew I had to do something so I bought a few workout DVDs and instantly fell in love with working out. I loved the challenge of making my body stronger and the feeling of accomplishing workouts. I wanted to turn my passion for working out into a career of helping and inspiring others.

2. How did you choose which personal training agency to certify with?

I Googled a bunch of different certifications and talked to a few personal trainers I knew and they recommended ACE.

3. How did you prepare for the exam? Any tips, tricks, or best practices?

I studied a little bit every night after work. I would also study most of the weekends but give myself a day off. What helped me most was taking advantage of breaks at work. I would bring my study material with me and study on my fifteen minute breaks and during my lunch hour.

4. Could you give me an idea about what the testing day was like?
I always get nervous before exams but a friend told me to stay calm the day of the exam and visualize myself passing and starting my dream career. That helped a lot. The test went a lot quicker than I thought it would. Seeing PASS at the end was one of the best feelings ever!

5. How are you using the web/social media to build your online presence as a fitness professional?

I mostly use Twitter to try to motivate my followers. I also have a Facebook page where I post health-related articles and motivational pictures. I eventually want to start filming workout videos to post on YouTube/Facebook/Twitter.

6. Any health and fitness resources/research publications that you read daily or recommend? How else do you keep up with PT trends?

I love the articles on Fitsugar.com and Shape.com. I also love ToneItUp.com for workouts/recipes. I would like to get a subscription to Women’s Health and Shape magazine soon.

7. These days, there are a variety of places/ways to train—at a studio, in homes, in offices, and even online. Where do you see this certification taking you?

I am going to be applying to several gyms soon. I think that will be the best place to start my fitness career to gain experience and learn more about the industry. A friend of mine is taking her personal training exam sometime soon and we are planning to start our own business together in the future. With the ACE certification it is required to have 20 hours continuing education every two years so I will get my Group Fitness Instructor certification next.

8. What are your plans for using your certificate in the future? Any personal training goals for this year?

My plan is to motivate/inspire/help others to achieve their weight loss goals and live healthier happier lifestyles. I also want to start my own business with my friend within the next few years. My main goals this year are to learn as much as possible working in the fitness industry and inspire as many people as I can!

9. What advice would you give to someone like me who is just starting out and studying for the CPT exam?

Keep your goal in mind and take advantage of any free time you have. Use that time to study-and workout of course ;)

Thanks so much Sarah! Congratulations on passing your exam and good luck to you in your future in the fitness business. I look forward to seeing that pretty face on YouTube!

For more personal trainer insight, check out my interview with:
Erica House
Tamara Treu