Month: February 2016

This off-day recovery workout will help keep you active on your rest days. Use this workout to work up a little bit of a sweat, but don't push yourself too hard. Save this pin for your next rest day and click through for a FREE workout planner.

Off day recovery workout

Hello again. As I sit here today with all of my muscles sore and achy, I also have this drive and excitement of starting a new fitness routine that I have never done before. It has given me a challenge and that is something I have not had since college when I was in competitive athletics.

I want to go back into the gym but there is no way another workout of that intensity would be anything except detrimental to my body. So now what to do? I have two options one: do something in my living room or two: stop by the clubhouse of my apartment complex and do something low impact that still gives me a challenge.

Because I live on the second floor I think I will respect the neighbors and get on an elliptical. Here is a workout for an off day or an active rest day. This is also great if you’re looking for a low-impact cardio workout. Best of all you can watch your favorite 30 minute show and have it finished by the end.

Make sure speed is moderate for you. Shouldn’t be killer but should work up a little sweat.

– Aaron

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What’s your marathon?

Hey there, this is Aaron. As a lifelong sports nut, I’ve never really gotten into writing and nerdy stuff but I am going to give it my best shot.

As a personal trainer, I see many different types of people with many different goals and aspirations. None of them are better or worse than another, just different. What needs to happen no matter your point in the journey and wherever the end point, your goal must be specific and attainable. It sounds so simple but it is crazy how many times I have been in a first-time session and had to help steer a client in the right direction. When you commit to a goal, be specific, decide when you’ll get it done, and break the goal up into smaller parts.

When you commit to a goal, be specific, decide when you’ll get it done, and break the goal up into smaller parts.

I know everyone knows the saying ‘it’s a marathon, not a sprint,’ and in the fitness world it couldn’t be truer. During a marathon the end goal is the finish line at mile 26.2. But what happens along the way?

You have your start. You’re all fired up you get to try out your new clothes and show everyone around you that you made this decision to race and you’re super excited about it. When you take that first step, miles 1 through 3 are awesome and fun and full of encouragement and high fives.

Then you get into miles 3 through 10. Here the initial excitement is wearing off, and now you start the grind. This is where you get 10 miles in, the first 10 lbs come off, it’s where you’re seeing results; and the work and the consistency are so important. This is where you find out what keeps you going and what small goals you can set to eventually reach your ultimate goal. Get through mile 5, do 5 more push ups, or go for 5 more minutes.

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Mile 13.1 is special. Now you are halfway through and need to look at what has worked and what you need to do to finish this thing. Maybe more weights. Maybe more rest days. Maybe join a class you have never tried just for the heck of it. From half way to the finish line it’s all about you. People on the course know you now and excitement and novelty have worn off. Now you put your head down and finish this thing.

And here is the finish line!!!! Finally all the work and time and energy has paid off. You reach that goal, throw your hands up and cheer. But here is the part no one thinks about. What’s next? Do I run this same race again? Do I look for a different town or change of scenery? Or do I change races altogether? That is up to you to decide. Once you finish one it’s so much easier to do it again because now you have the tools and drive to make it happen. Whether it’s a big transformation or mastering a certain exercise, all goals deserve the same focus and attention.

Share with us! What’s your marathon?

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Health hack: Get smarter while you workout

Sometimes getting through a workout calls for a health hack. Read on for my top three health tips and tricks for ignoring the fact that you’re exercising.

Sometimes getting through a workout calls for a health hack. Read on for three health tips and tricks for ignoring the fact that you're exercising. Or, save this pin for later!

Can we talk about my inability to properly use a playlist? Even after I finally subscribed to Spotify Premium (how did I ever live pre-Spotify?) and was able to curate the most thoughtful and organized playlists, I still found myself butchering my own hard work.

skip, skip, skip…. oh I like this song….ok, now I’m bored with this song…. skip…

I have a hard time driving passengers in my car. First, because no one is nearly as excited as I expect them to be about my new favorite song.

Second, because they always want to talk during my new favorite song. And third, because they don’t appreciate that I’m clearly looking out for them by switching to a new tune once all the good parts are over.

I will admit that while I’m working out and simultaneously trying to forget that I’m working out, my habitual song flipping gets in the way. I finally realized that there are some situations when the music is just not making things better.

Related: Mini habits will help you start working out

While I try to keep my workouts exciting, there are some times when I just need to distract myself. That’s why I decided to multi-task by nerding out during my time at the gym.

Health Hack #1: Podcasts

These are a current necessity during my workouts. There are so many I want to listen to and there just aren’t enough workout hours in they day. Podcasts are so great because you can find the ones that interest you the most.

Unlike a radio show, you can find podcasts that meet very specific interests. And best of all, they’re usually not much longer than an hour, so you won’t have to remember where you left off! I just started listening to The Bold Life Movement with Kimberly Rich and I’m a longtime fan of Nerdette Podcast and Reply All.

Health Hack #2: Listen to a book

I try my best to make reading  a priority, whether it’s fiction for fun or non-fiction for personal growth. I downloaded Audible and can get through 5 hours of a book in some weeks just from my workouts.

Most of the books I read range between 12 and 18 hours so I feel like I’m getting my money’s worth. My recent favorite book (and one I pretty much recommend to strangers I meet on the street) is We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. You will not regret listening to this one.

Health Hack #3: Catch up on the news

If you’re like me and no longer own a radio outside of your car, you’re in luck because you don’t need one. If podcasts and books aren’t your thing and the idea of actually keeping up with the news is something you’ve been struggling with, you can download Tune In Radio or a similar radio app on your smartphone.

Looking for more healthy hacks? We have a whole category for ’em!

Note: If you click through one of my links and then make a purchase, I will receive a small commission. Yay! Please note that this commission does not affect your purchase price. Also note that I think you’re really cool for clicking on my links.

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How to do a squat

It’s easy to get lost in the simplicity of a squat during a workout. Step 1: sit in imaginary chair. Step 2: stand up from imaginary chair. Keeping the following notes in mind will allow you to squat with the best of ‘em!

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  1. Back should be straight and chest should be elevated
  2. Knees should not drive forward, but should remain directly above your ankles
  3. Keep your feet flat, your weight should drive through your heels. In fact, you should be able to wiggle your toes at any time
  4. Knees should stay in a straight line, don’t bend them in or out

Next try a plank and a lunge!

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No-run treadmill workout

Just because you’re not a runner doesn’t mean you can’t get hot and sweaty with the treadmill this Valentine’s Day. (See what I did there?) Some days I’m just not motivated for my workout. Usually, if I can just get my butt into my workout clothes and out the door, the rest is easy. But… some days when I get to the gym, face-to-face with whatever torture machine I’ve planned on using, I become even less motivated.

It’s best to have a backup plan ready for these situations, and there are several great reasons to keep this one in your back pocket. For starters, because it’s a walking workout, I immediately scoff and think ‘Oh, I can handle this.’ Also, because it’s broken down into short intervals, I can avoid the boredom that can come with longer workouts.

So that’s how I trick myself… but once I’m about 8 minutes in (when it’s too late to turn back), I remember why this no-run workout actually kind of sucks. The steep incline gets my heart rate up right away. The ‘no hands’ intervals force my glutes and hamstrings to work to keep up with the speed of the treadmill while my core is working to keep me balanced. The backwards intervals felt a little silly the first time I did them, but eventually I came to appreciate the unexpected switch.

Try out this no-run interval workout and let me know what you think!

no run workout

Need something nerdy to keep you moving (and distracted)? I listened to this episode of Reply All while I did this workout.

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A pesto recipe that’s smart, like you

Let’s talk food. Food for nerds. Rather… food for people who want to eat smart. This recipe isn’t the healthiest one you’ll ever save (although it does have some great power ingredients), and it doesn’t meet your daily requirements for… well… anything. But the reason I’m calling this green goodness smart is because it’s easy, inexpensive and it can top off so many nutritious foods. You know, the ones that do meet your daily protein, fiber or veggie goals. And of course, it’s pretty delicious.

Truly, the best thing about this pesto (really any homemade pesto), is that you can pipe it into an ice cube tray, freeze it and then bring it back for an encore appearance 2 weeks later.

basil pesto

Here are a few ideas to get you going:

My favorite way to enjoy pesto is on grilled salmon, chicken or pork chops. I’m not going to pretend that I enjoy any of these foods on their own. Adding pesto tricks me into thinking I actually like these things.

Pesto salmon or tuna salad sandwiches Mix tuna, mayo, onion and a spoonful of pesto to give your tuna/salmon salad sandwich some pizzazz. Not interested in all the extra calories from mayo? Try replacing half of the mayo with non-fat greek yogurt.

On corn-on-the-cobb in place of butter

Spread pesto on naan bread in place of tomato sauce to make a personal pizza. Sprinkle feta cheese and tomatoes or kalamata olives on top of the pesto, or any ingredients you have on hand. Grill or toast the “pizza” until the cheese melts.

Exchange the mayo for pesto on a BLT, or add some kick to a grilled cheese sandwich by spreading pesto on the inside of the bread slices.

 

pesto

Amazing Pesto with No Cheese
Makes 8 Servings; 1 Tablespoon

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup walnuts
3 raw garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Add walnuts and garlic to the food processor and pulse a few times until they are minced. Add the basil leaves and pulse until leaves are chopped, but not liquefied. Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on until the basil mixture is the consistency of applesauce. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula, as needed. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper a little at a time until you’re satisfied with the taste. Serve right away, refrigerate and serve within 3 days, or pipe into an ice cube tray and freeze for up to 3 months.

Serving size: 1 tablespoon; Calories 89; Total Fat 9.4 g (Saturated Fat 1.1 g) Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 74 mg; Sugars 0.1g; Protein 1.5 g; Dietary Fiber .5g; Vitamin A 6%; Vitamin C 2%; Calcium 2%; Iron 2%

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Anatomy of a lunge

Lunges are a great way to work your glutes and hamstrings. (Aka… work that booty!) Step out with your right leg into the position below. Then repeat with your left leg.

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  1. Chest up, don’t lean forward
  2. Your front knee should be at a 90 degree angle and not in front of your toes
  3. Your back knee is also bent and slightly wider than a 90 degree angle
  4. Keep feet shoulder width apart while stepping into your lunge

Try these two variations:

  1. Walking lunge: step out with your right foot into a lunge, then bring your left foot up to meet your right foot in a standing position. Repeat with your left leg. Kind of like you’re taking very long step (with great lunge form, of course!)
  2. Reverse lunge: Instead of stepping forward into a lunge, step backward. Remember to keep your weight on your front leg.

Put it all together. Learn how to do a plank, then try this:

20 walking lunges, alternating between each leg
30 second plank
(4 rounds)

20 reverse lunges, alternating between each leg
Plank with leg lift: begin in a plank position, lift your right leg for 15 seconds. Then repeat on the left.
(4 rounds)

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Anatomy of a plank

Planks are a great way to strengthen your arms and core while practicing balance and stability. However, improper form might mean you’re working the wrong muscles. Bookmark, pin or print the diagram below to guarantee proper planking!

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  1. Elbows directly under shoulders, straight legs
  2. Flat back and tight core
  3. Head neutral with chin up
  4. Tight glutes and hamstrings

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