Holiday Workouts

Happy holidays! It is Christmas week and I could not be more excited to go to Michigan this weekend to see family and friends! As some of you know, I got my NASM personal training certification this year and am passionate about fitness and teaching others how to work out in order to achieve results. I wanted to share some of my favorite upper and lower body moves along with two core blasts that can be mixed into a longer workout or done separately if you don’t have much time. Make sure to keep prioritizing your health and fitness during the holidays with these quick and easy moves!

Upper body: 10-12 reps, 4 sets

  1. Overhead press: hold a barbell at chest level while standing and push it straight up overhead before returning it down to you chest. Try not to arch your back or lean forward as you extend the barbell.
  2. One-arm row on bench: using a kettlebell start in a split stance with one arm on a bench and your other arm holding a kettlebell. Extend the leg on the side you are holding the kettlebell back behind you. Keep your back flat and pull the kettlebell up towards your body and lower it back down while keeping your shoulder blades low and contracted.
  3. Core 1 (see below)
  4. Push-ups: start in a standard push up position with your back flat and your head in line. Lower down towards the ground until you are just slightly above the ground and drive  back up with a big exhale. Try a couple in a full push-up before dropping onto your knees or putting your arms onto a bench.

Lower body: 10-12 reps, 4 sets

  1. Deadlifts with kettlebell: place a kettlebell on the ground, lowering down to grab it while hinging at the hips and keeping your back straight. Power through your legs to stand up straight with the kettlebell hanging towards the ground. Repeat the motion, slowly lowering down and powering up.
  2. Single leg lunges with barbell: hold a barbell across the top of your shoulders. Lower down into a lunge and come back up with your feet together before stepping forward into a lunge on the other side.
  3. Core 2 (see below)
  4. Mountain climbers: start in a plan position with your back straight and body in line. Draw your leg in towards your chest. As you push it back into the starting position, bring in your other leg. Alternative legs increasing the speed if you are able to.

Core 1:

  1. Forearm plank hold: hold a plank position on your forearms for one minute, keeping your whole body in line. If one minute is too much, hold for 20 seconds and take a 10 second break and repeat three times.
  2. 30 second side plank hold: hold a side plank position on your forearm for 30 seconds, making sure to keep your body in line and not letting your lower body drop down.

Core 2:

  1. Walking plank: start in a push up position with your back straight in a plank. Lower down onto one forearm and then the other. Push up off the first forearm that was lowered back into a fully extended push up position, raising the other arm. Repeat for 30 seconds alternating arms (down, down, up, up pattern).
  2. Russian twist: sit on the ground holding a medicine ball in the middle of your body. Lift your legs slightly off of the ground and begin twisting side to side, ensuring you are fully rotating your body and keeping your core braced inward.

– A – 

Stress-Free Holidays

Hi all! We hope you had a great weekend and are enjoying the time leading up the holidays! This time of year can be very busy with holiday events and Christmas shopping on top of completing weekly duties. We wanted to share some ways to de-stress in order to make the most of the holiday season!

  1. Keep a schedule & to-do lists– A great way to keep track of work, school, and holidays events is to keep a planner or agenda and update it weekly. It is a good idea to look at your planner while having your coffee in the morning to see what you have to do that day and in the upcoming week.
  2. Stay on top of your workouts- Many people use the holidays as an excuse to stop working out because they are too busy. We find that keeping our normal workout routine helps keep our stress levels down so we are more productive throughout the day. Having a workout buddy and scheduling workouts ahead of time (even penciling them in your planner) will help you stay on track!
  3. Online shopping- We generally stay away from the mall especially as it gets closer to Christmas. While it can be fun to go shopping a time or two at the mall to get in the Christmas spirit, we do most of our Christmas shopping online to avoid the lines and crowds. Presents delivered right to your door, what more can you ask for?
  4. Meditation – It is important to find times to purify your mind, especially when things get busy and stressful before the holidays. Think of it like showering or working out. It is essential to take time to get in touch with yourself and find peace during a stressful day. One meditation app we like is Mindspace. It is a 10 minute guided meditation that reminds you that meditation is not about pushing away your thoughts but more about being at peace with them. Try scheduling 10 minutes into your morning or night time routine!
  5. Remember to enjoy the season – It is easy to forget the meaning of the season when it feels like there are a bunch of to-dos that come along with it. Remember to enjoy time with family and friends and let the little things go. Looking back you will be much more likely to remember the great times you had with the ones you care about most.

Happy Holidays!

– A & M – 

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Happy Monday and Happy December! This year has flown by, I can’t believe the holidays are already here!

I had so much fun decorating my place for Christmas. I wanted to keep the decorations more neutral, but added some pops of color and plaid. I swapped out simple things like pictures in my gallery wall and mugs hanging above my coffee bar to help make the main living spaces festive. Special thanks to my mom who came over and helped me decorate!

I hope everyone is enjoying this busy and joyful time of year!

– M –

Valentine’s Day DIY Gift Ideas

With Valentine’s Day coming up next weekend I wanted to share some last-minute gift ideas with you guys. These gifts are inexpensive and are hand-crafted which makes them even more meaningful. And I promise they are easy to make! I have personally given all of these as gifts (mostly to Nick) over the years and I find that it is fun to make something for your loved one that the enjoy too. You will notice that these gifts are all food or drink related (based on Nick’s likes) and some are a bit cheesy, but that’s what Valentine’s Day is all about! So without further ado…

Edible Treats

1. “You Float My Boat”

Blog pic 5

Nick and I both share a love for ice cream and when I saw this printable on Pinterest (my forever inspiration), I knew this would be a perfect gift for him. I included root beer, vanilla ice cream, and fun curly straws (along with a new swimsuit and Reese’s peanut butter cups because he’s spoiled). I put the goodies in a basket I already had at home and finished it off with ribbon and the printable. Ta-da!

2. Heart Krispies

rice krispie treats

I decided to make these fun rice crispy treats as part of Nick’s Valentine’s Day gift one year. I made regular rice crispy treats (I use the Rice Krispies cereal recipe), but instead of making them squares I cut them into hearts using a heart-shaped cookie cutter. I inserted popsicle sticks and dipped them into melted chocolate adding festive sprinkles afterwards. I placed the treats in a vase with tissue paper to create a man-friendly bouquet of sorts.

2. Sweet Sayings

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Okay, this gift wasn’t for Nick, but I thought it would be perfect for Valentine’s Day since it is packed with yummy candy. I made this for my Grandma’s 90th birthday and she loved it! This is a gift you can personalize with whatever sayings and candy you want based on the recipient. I also added some stickers to fill in any white space leftover. Make sure to use a study poster board that can hold up the weight of the candy.

Drinking Goodies

1. Drink Coasters

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This was my most recent creation. I chose a couple of Nick’s favorite beers and bought a case of each so that I could use the wording on both sides for the coasters (I gave him the beer in a bucket to go with the coasters). I bought white tiles at Home Depot and felt and Mod Podge at Hobby Lobby. I cut the cardboard and felt to the size of the tiles. Then, I used Mod Podge to adhere felt to bottom of each tile. Once dry, I placed the cardboard on top of tile and used Mod Podge to coat. I let it dry for 15 minutes before applying one or two more coats. You can also use a gloss spray on top, I just used several coats of Mod Podge. He uses them all the time at his apartment, score!

2. Favorite Drink Kit

Blog pic 1

Nick is a big fan of rum and coke so I loved the idea of making a drink and chaser kit. This is another gift that can be personalized based on your honey’s favorite drink. I tied the rum onto the Pepsi along with some cute straws (holla Target dollar section!) with twine I had at home. I added a cute little “Cheers!” sign to finish it off.

3. “To the Moon and Back”

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Okay you caught me, another Pinterest inspired gift… I can’t help myself! One of Nick’s favorite beer is Blue Moon so I just added some extra words to personalize it, easy right? I used construction paper for the backing to the words. I also tied a balloon to the beer for some extra fun. Sometimes a hand-made gift doesn’t have to be complicated!

Alright, that is enough cheesiness for one day. I am currently exploring options for Valentine’s Day gifts this year. Please comment with any ideas or favorites of your own! Happy Valentine’s Day everyone, enjoy the love this weekend!

– M –

Holiday Mania

Happy Monday everyone. Only eleven days until Christmas! This weekend Kevin and I attended two holiday parties. It was a great weekend of celebrations, but I’m a little tired from all of the fun. 🙂

Every holiday season brings holiday parties galore, shopping for gifts and endless amounts of food and holiday treats that are hard to resist. Personally I love the holidays, but I find myself so busy that it’s often hard to really enjoy the season. And of course there’s delicious food at all the parties that makes it so difficult not to derail from my usual diet.

My rule of thumb for controlling what I eat at holiday parties is allowing myself to splurge a little.  For example, I might treat myself to cookie after dinner, but skip the bread.  For me, I like to allow myself one treat a day, but otherwise stick to my normal diet. For times where I indulge a little too much, I make sure to hit the gym extra hard the next day. It’s definitely difficult to stay on track during the holidays, but allowing yourself to indulge here and there while mostly making good food and exercise choices is key.

Through all of the craziness, I try to keep my regular workout schedule, working out 5-6 times per week. Here’s an example of a 20 minute workout that targets the whole body in short amount of time. No excuses on not being able to fit this into your busy holiday schedule!

Easy 20 minute holiday workout (3 sets of each):

  • 12 squats with a kettle bell
  • 12 burpees with a jump at the top of each one
  • 60 second forearm plank
  • 12 lunges
  • 12 bicep curls with weight bar

This year I decided to think about my New Year resolutions including my health and fitness goals in November and December  instead of waiting until January. This way I can finish out the year strong (as my dad would say). I’ve also found that writing down my goals makes me more accountable and more likely to achieve them. I’ve also already set my goals for 2016, and encourage everyone to do the same. I hope everyone enjoys the next few weeks of celebrations and time with family and friends!

– A –

Thanksgiving Inspired Side

Happy Thanksgiving week! I was inspired last night to make a healthy Thanksgiving side for dinner. I love Thanksgiving food especially the yummy mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and stuffing, but we all know how many calories a typical Thanksgiving dinner can be.  Why not switch out one of those high calorie side dishes a healthier alternative? This delicious roasted brussels sprouts and squash with dried cranberries and dijon vinaigrette dish is the perfect festive yet healthy side dish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small butternut squash cut into 3/4 inch chunks
  • 1 1lb brussels sprouts, stems trimmed and cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt (I used truffle salt)
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries

Vinaigrette:

  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • A pinch of of salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees fahrenheit
  •  Place the butternut squash chunks and halved brussel sprouts on a baking sheet
  • Sprinkle them with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss with your hands to ensure they are covered equally.
  • Roast the vegetables for 20 minutes, tossing them gently 2-3 times
  • Add the cranberries for the last five minutes of baking
  • A few minutes before the vegetables finish, start preparing the vinaigrette
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the red wine vinegar and dijon mustard
  • Slowly pour in the olive oil and, quickly whisking all three ingredients together
  • Add salt and pepper to taste
  • When the vegetables are done, place them in a large bowl and toss with the vinaigrette before serving
  • Enjoy at room temperature or chilled

Have a great holiday week everyone and enjoy some pumpkin pie! Just make sure you have a fun workout planned for the next day to burn off those yummy treats!

– A –