Tuesday, April 01, 2014
When doing ab curls on a stability ball (the big ones full of air), make sure you extend back over the curve of the ball, and only come up to where your head is just barely above parallel with the ground.
I see so many people start with their torso parallel with to ground (or higher!) and wind up almost sitting up on the ball at the top of the movement This pretty much negates the advantage of having a ball. You'd get a more intense ab contraction if you did regular ab curls on the ground.
Additionally, keep in mind that the closer together the legs are, the harder the move is. So legs together from heel all the way to upper inner thigh is the most advanced method of doing stability ball crunches.
Also, as with any ab exercise, keep the abs tight and engaged throughout the movement. When you don't let momentum take over and instead actively use muscle all the way through, the exercise becomes both more challenging and more effective.
Sunday, March 02, 2014
Most days I work out at the gym, but on Friday I was doing my "Strong Curves" workout at home. I have a rather unconventional set-up to make it work, and thought I'd take some pictures to show that you don't need extensive equipment or copious amounts of space to get a good workout in.
My exercise equipment has migrated it's way into my son's room. (Looks better in a boys room, as I am a very aesthetic person.) We have a "no shoes on the carpet" rule at our house that I try to follow. This wasn't a problem, since I rarely worked out at home.
When I started the "Strong Curves" program earlier this year it occurred to me that many of the workouts could be done at home. This was a savings in both the time and gas money departments. The only problem was, how was I going to manage without walking on the carpet much in my workout shoes?
Finally it hit me: The entry way! We have a pretty large entry, and it's accessible to my son's room though French doors. (His room is technically a "study".) Moving the weights (which only go up to 30 lbs, but can be a real hassle when I have to tote them), out to the entry isn't much work at all. For floor work where I need some "cush" under my upper body I lay on the carpet and put my feet on the hard floor. To keep the bench from scooting in moves that would push it around, like bench push-ups, I put it on the carpet. Additionally, there is a mirror in the entry that helps with checking my form.
Here's my "workout room" on Friday. Note the exercise ball peeking out from behind the hall table:
And here is the view from the entry into my son's bedroom, where you can see the positioning of my weight rack and it's adjacency to my "workout room":
And lastly, his room re-assembled with the bench holding his "stuff" and the weights all in place. The ball is kept in the closet:
With the glass panel in our front door I feel sorry for the UPS guy if he ever shows up while I'm lifting........
This is not my dream home-workout set-up. I'd like to have dumbbells through 75's, a barbell, weight plates, and a classic bench-press bench, at least. Oh, heck... The fact is that I wish I had an entire basement to set up a complete home gym with all kinds of equipment. Dream on, eh? But it's what we have space for, so I make it work.
The point is that you don't have to have an "ideal" set up to get fit. Maybe you don't have a space this big. I haven't always. In my house in Ohio, which was 1200 square feet with four bedrooms (yes, you read that right), I only had weights through 10 lbs and a very small living room. I scooted the coffee table out of the way and got busy exercising in that very limited space. Before I had weights, I worked out with cans from the cupboard.
Did you know that rear lunges, push-ups, and bicycle crunches makes a full-body workout in a 3x6-foot space? Try doing a circuit of those, 10 per set, 5 or 6 times and tell me you didn't get a great workout!
Here are a couple of blogs I did years ago about getting started with a home workout, if you want more:
This one is on Equipment To Start An At-Home Exercise Program:
And here is one on Getting Stared Lifting Weights:
You don't HAVE to have formal weights, a bench, and an exercise ball to get a good workout. You DO have to have a little ingenuity and determination. Look at it as a game. "How do I make this work?" instead of "This just can't work!".
As my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Ladd, used to say. "Can't means won't".
Will you? Or won't you?
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Sooooo...... I just did a SparkPeople Radio interview and said I would put a template in for my grocery list. Well, it just figures that SparkBlogs don't let you upload documents. So I've done the next best thing and copied and pasted my grocery list here. Now the whole world gets to see our menu for this month. :-)
A few things to note:
1. Yes, I'm uber-organized. Call me OCD, if you'd like, but this makes menu planning and getting in and out of the store as quick and easy as possible for me.
2. My grocery list consists of two pages with two columns each. I need it this big, since I only do my "big shopping" once a month. I've indicated below what goes on which column.
3. In the radio interview I said that I shopped every 2 weeks. That was then, this is now. There used to be 9 people in our household and we got paid in the beginning and middle of the month. Now there are, on average, 4 people in the household and I get my portion of the household budget once a month. I'd rather just get it over in one fell swoop. (Side note- When I was shopping twice a month for 9 people, the grocery portion of the list was still about this same size. Can you imagine doing this every-other week?)
4. This is not the ONLY grocery buying I do. It's the stuff I can foresee needing at this point. We run out of fruit, milk, eggs, etc, and I have to run back to the store for them throughout the month.
5. You will note there are 15 meals planned. We typically go out for both lunch on Sundays after church, and pick my son (who is a mentally handicapped adult) up for dinner on Wednesdays (fast-food someplace where I can get a salad) before church. This leaves 22 nights in a 30 day month unaccounted for. But I've found that when I plan for every night I think we will be at home I always over-buy. It never fails: Not everyone is home, or we wind up going out for some reason, or there's a big "odds and ends" night (or two) to clear out perfectly good foods that aren't enough for a meal. (I heat it all up, set it out buffet-style, and we all dive for whatever we want before someone else gets it. Whatever doesn't get eaten gets pitched for once and for all. I've done this for years) 15 meals insures I don't overspend.
6. This list is for our local commissary. You will note I have what is on the aisle after the aisle number. After years of trying to recall which aisle the canned milk was on on, this made it easier for me to put the needed items in the right place and not be correcting my list in the store.
7. Yes, I plan on having "leftover" nights. I make enough to get us through 2 nights and then reheat the next night.
8. The numbers you'll see at the bottoms of the columns are the items in that column. I've found if I triple this, it gives me a rough estimate of how much the grocery list will cost.
9.This menu is NOT absolute! Anything is subject to change if I get to the store and see a really good deal on a healthy food. I'll scratch out something on the list and sub the better deal in.
10. Obviously, a pen comes with me and I cross items out as I put them in the cart. This makes sure I get it all. (I hate running back to the store for something I forgot!)
11. Yes, we have a pantry and a deep freeze. Without them, this much shopping would never work: The list would be shorter, and the shopping more frequent.
And now, without further ado:
Page 1 Column 1:
1.) Baked potato Bar w/
2.) Tuna Spaghetti w/ Angel hair and Kalamata Olives
3.) Honey Soy Marinated Tilapia
Creamy Avocado Pasta (x2)
4.) Southwest Turkey Meatballs (to try- use canned corn and tomatoes, parsley instead of cilantro)
5.) Pizza (Frozen- Yes, I let the kids have this once a month!)
6. 7.) Taco’s (2 ground beef, 2 cheese)
8.) Bean soup with ham and noodles
Bread machine wheat bread
9. 10.) Make-ahead Lasagna
Bread Machine Bread
11.) Broiled Tilapia Parmesan
White Beans, Spinach and tomatoes over linguini (to try folder)
13.) Bourbon St CP chicken (to try folder-x2)
14.) Easy Sweet & Sour chicken
Chow Mein noodles
15.) Sandy’s Casserole (To try folder)
Page 1 Column 2:
2 parmesan cheese
4 baking potato
10 ounce bag spinach
Aisle 2- (baking, sauces)
Peanut Butter- Girls
Smart balance mayo
Baking coconut oil
My coconut oil
8 ounce bottle Russian dressing
Large sliced olives
Aisle 3- (soup, fruits, veggies, meat, Italian, milk)
Pears in fruit cups
1 jar spaghetti sauce
Angel hair pasta
12 ounces linguini
9 ¼ ounce tuna
2 cans diced tomatoes w/basil, garlic & oreg
2 cans white beans
Onion soup mix
Small Whole-Grain Elbow macaroni
2 large cans chicken
2 cream chicken soup
Can sliced mushrooms
2 large evaporated skim milk
Page 2 Column 1:
Aisle 4- (Ethnic, milk, rice, beans, coffee, candy, toppings)
Bag white beans
Chow mein noodles
Aisle 5- (breakfast, juice)
Small apple juice
Aisle 6- (crackers, cookies, bars, soda, popcorn)
Aisle 7- (Snacks, chips, water, batteries, light bulbs)
3 pounds lean ground beef (1, 2)
2 1/2-3 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast
1 ground turkey breast
12 boneless chicken thighs
Aisle 8- H&B aids-
Aisle 9-(Baby, TP/paper towels, tape, dish)
12 Toilet Paper
Regular dish detergent
Page 2 Column 2:
Aisle 10 (laundry, cleaning, paper, pet treats)
Aisle 11- (deli, dog food)
Ham for soup
Back wall dairy-
15 ounce ricotta
Organic half and half
1 gal milk
Side wall dairy-
6 greek Yogurt
1 String cheese
1 Cheddar sticks
5 C shredded cheddar (1,2, 2)
4 C shredded mozzarella (4)
Tilapia- 2 nights
Easter basket Stuff
I hope this is found helpful!
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Cautiously optimistic, here- Weight 169.8 this morning. That's down almost 2 pounds from last week.
This is a weight I believe. I was not dehydrated: I drank water like mad yesterday and my sodium levels were high according to Spark. So my tendency is to believe that this is a true fat loss.
I had in my head several things that were going to change if the scale refused to budge again, but since it moved I'll just keep up the status quo and see what happens next week.
In other Nancy Anne news, I got a pedometer. In the past my motto was "Who cares how many steps you take, as long as you are moving all you can?". But I have been thinking lately I'm not moving a whole lot and wanted to have a method to not only keep an eye on it, but also to motivate myself to move more. Yesterday was a cardio day and I logged 10,000 steps (just under 5 miles). Today is just lifting, so I don't expect the number to be as high. I'm sure I'll work on finding ways to get more movement into my days as I keep looking at this thing.....
The other thing I've done is making water more of a priority. I started realizing I had let my water intake go by the wayside. I was down to about 12 cups a day, which may seem like a lot for most people, but I tend to do best when I consume a gallon of water or more a day. So I've been making a conservative effort to drink more water the past few days.
And lastly, I've noticed that my daily fiber level is almost always lower than what Spark recommends. This surprised me, as I thought my fiber intake was good. Upon examination, I realized my veggie consumption has really dropped off. So I've been working on eating more veggies. I don't know that this will help with weight loss, but it is good for my health. And I'm all about getting healthier.
I don't know if these things helped with the loss this week, but regardless they are habits I need to develop and there is no time like the present. We shall see if I have another loss next week, or if I'm back up to 171.6, which seems to be my latest "fat and happy" weight. Anymore, nothing surprises me.
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