Fitness Basics: 5 Exercises You Can’t Live Without

Get fit, be strong with these 5 fitness moves

Don’t have a gym membership? No weights you can use? Hate situps? Want real exercises that work?

Well don’t be fooled by the fitness industry, with its fad exercises, equipment and complicated workouts when they all trace back to simple basic moves that can be done at home. Here are 5 essential exercises that take you back to basics and help to strengthen muscles, target your core (no situps needed) and even count towards your cardio quota if combined and done rapidly in a sequence.

Here is one Round:

Motivation Monday: Fitness For Survival

HandstandsWhat would you do if you knew you were going to have to outrun a vicious dog on the way home from work tomorrow? Could you sprint away or climb a tree to get a way from it? Now what if you also had to carry your grandmother on your back as you ran away?

The other day, I was at the gym practicing handstands. It was the 87th time that I had attempted to do a free standing handstand after my workout, and I was excited to hold the stance in the air for the three seconds that I did. As I tumbled down, a gym regular asked me why I wanted to learn to handstand in the first place.

I just responded “why not?” but it really got me thinking, why do I want to do a handstand so bad? Sure it makes a great party trick, but I’m too old to join the circus and no one is going to offer me a fitness training job solely based on my handstanding ability. For me, I think it’s because I love knowing that I have conditioned my body to do things it couldn’t do before. I like knowing that my core muscles are strong, that my shoulders are getting stronger, and that I can build trust in my body not to let me down. The same goes for why I want to squat and deadlift 315lbs, and why I am pushing myself to do unassisted chin ups and pull ups… I am motivated by being a stronger version of myself. I like to know that I can take care of myself, that I can carry my grandmother as I run from a pissed off stray dog or that I can possibly save myself from ailments and disease if I work on being physically strong.

Of course, not everyone is motivated by the same things. Many can’t imagine a dog running after them, or ever being in a situation where their life is in danger and the only way to save themselves is to jump, kick or pull themselves up. Many also think that diseases won’t actually happen to them, assuming that tragedy only strikes others. Unfortunately, I bet you know at least one person hit by ailments like high blood pressure, knee and joint pain, diabetes, gout or hormonal imbalances and so on… all easily controllable or even preventable with diet and exercise.

For many, the physical aesthetic positives are simply not enough incentive and if being strong doesn’t motivate you, what about just being able to simply keep up with your kids? What about going up a flight of stairs without feeling out of breath? What about living a long life without aches and pains?


New Year Fitness Resolution DON’TS

Get Fit this New YearHappy New Year!

Every year during the first few weeks of January and February, my gym is packed with new people making New Year resolutions to be fit and healthy. Then by the middle of February the number of cars in the parking lot start to dwindle down, gym equipment starts to become more readily available, and the personal trainers start to spend more and more time sitting and texting on their phones.

Many people have issues sticking to their fitness resolutions past a few weeks because they don’t set realistic expectations and are going about working out all wrong. Instead of thinking quality, they are thinking quantity and that is where the problem arises. Increasing the number of hours at the gym may help a sedentary, obese person, whose act of just getting off the couch is going to help in weight loss, but for the regular person looking to lose the 10-20 pounds that has crept up on them, the real solution is to workout smarter not longer, and to set realistic expectations of about 3 months or more.

Below are the top 5 fitness don’ts to keep in mind when wanting to change body composition and the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant & Time-Bound) do examples that can help you stick to your fitness goals for the new year.

1. Don’t do so much cardio!

Endless hours a week on the elliptical or treadmill will burn you out and won’t give you the quick results you want. Instead look at mixing things up with lower duration (think 20-30 minutes) but higher intensity workouts (think intervals). Avoid the 50+ minutes of steady pace cardio if you want to improve your body’s ability to burn fat and build lean muscle.

An example of a SMART resolution DO: I will do 2 HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) sessions a week at 20 minutes each for 3 months. In 3 months, I will reassess and perhaps work on adding 5 additional minutes of HIIT to each session.

2. Don’t be scared to lift weights!

You will not get big and bulky by lifting weights. I actually want to get a little big and bulky and no matter how hard and heavy I lift, I have a difficult time gaining enough muscle mass to get bulky.  My female hormones make it quite difficult to look manly, and instead weight training has made my cellulite disappear and I look more toned because I have muscle under my skin that holds it taught.  If you are not building muscle, you’ve got fat holding its place. Fat is all wobbley and squishy, adding to the look of cellulite dimples under your skin. You can be thin, but if you don’t weight train, you probably have a higher fat to muscle ratio, making you “skinny fat”. Strength training is also crucial for bone health and overall long-term health, and will improve your body composition and help you burn fat faster as your muscles continue to burn energy even at rest.


The Top 5 Reasons to Drink More Water

DrinkWaterHaving once read that your body is already dehydrated if you feel yourself being thirsty, I have been pushing myself to drink more water on a more regular basis. I find the taste of water boring so I really have to force myself to drink it, especially now that I am weight training more often and looking to help muscle gain and aid with fat loss. With that said, I really wanted to know what the actual consequences of dehydration were, and what the real benefits to drinking a gallon of water a day were to keeping my body strong for body building.

Here is a list of reasons that I found convincing enough to make me drink more water every day.

1. When working out you are losing body fluids at a very high rate. Everything from the duration and intensity of the workout, the environment of the workout and type of clothing all effect water loss. Drinking water will help replenish the water your system needs just to keep bodily functions going.

2. When you are dehydrated, you will not be able to lift as heavy as usual or workout at the same intensity that you would normally workout at.  Scientists think that even a 2%reduction in body fluids could decrease your performance by a bout 15-20%!

3. Drinking water plays an important role in the digestion of the food we eat. The digestion process depends on a huge amount of water to help the acids and enzymes in the stomach break down food, extract the nutrients needed, convert it into energy and transport it all to the rest of the body.

This means that no matter how great your diet may be, it will all be wasted if you don’t take in enough water to help extract the nutrients from your diet.

4. Water dilutes the acids in the body, (acidity in the body has been associated with inflammation and some cancers) and helps carry toxins out of the body (this means water also helps with constipation). Water is an undoubted cleaner for the body, helping transport waste out of the body.

5. Dehydration can cause joint pain, stomach pain & ulcers, low energy, mental confusion & disorientation. Often times, daytime fatigue is associated with the lack of sleep, when in reality it may just be mild dehydration and drinking water could be just the solution.

I now add a slice of lemon to every glass of water to help make the taste more appealing for me. I first started wearing 10 elastic bands on my right wrist for every glass I had to drink. After every glass, I would transfer one elastic to my left wrist until I got through drinking all 10 glasses. I got so used to sipping on water, that I felt thirsty if I didn’t have anything to drink for 15 minutes and that is how I worked my way up to about a gallon of water a day. Let me know if you have any tricks that work for you, I would love to hear about them.

To living Positively Strong,



The Fit List: 10 Ways to Live Healthy

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor the longest time, I thought that being fit meant that I had to be super skinny and look like a runway model to be healthy. I was constantly battling a war against myself and confusing my curves, my strong legs and any muscle gain as fat.  It’s taken a long time to get here, to a place where I feel positive about myself, where I feel strong and know that I am healthy even though I don’t look like the typical girls in magazines.

I have realized that I need to fuel my body, that body fat is necessary for me to be healthy, and that exercising should not be about 2+ hours of cardio at the gym everyday.

Here is a list of habits that I have had to develop to pave the way for living positively, healthy and strong:

1. Drink more water. Everyone says this, but it is hard to do. I had to make myself wear 10 elastic bands on my right wrist for every glass I drank, I would transfer a band over to my left wrist every time I drank a glass… until it became a habit to drink 10 glasses a day.

2. Get fat back into my diet (I always thought fats were evil, everywhere I turned, the media told me fat was bad!). I did this by cooking with olive oil and coconut oil and taking a fish oil capsule every day. Getting healthy fats in my diet was a necessity to helping clear my skin (it balances your hormones), it made me more regular and I could concentrate on my work better. It was also instrumental in helping me build muscle.

3. Eat carbs!  Cutting carb intake might be okay for two weeks max, let’s say if I want to cut some fluffiness before bikini season, but it is never okay to go on a low carb diet for long periods of time, especially not when you are working out and strength training.  Believe me, you will be a happier, more positive person with carbs in your diet.

4. Calculate the exact macro-nutrients needed for my body. I did this after learning how to calculate my daily macros using the “If it fits your macros website”.  Then I was able to plan healthy meals that included lasagne and cookies in my daily meal plans.

5. Lift weights, and lift heavy. Majority of women do not get all Schwarzenegger with weight lifting, instead they start looking lean and curvy. No manliness and more fat burn at rest, I promise.