Fitness in the Kitchen

Fitness in the Kitchen

Workouts & recipes fueling a busy, healthy life.

Workout Move of the Week – Butterfly Situps

In the world of ab and core exercises, sit-ups are kind of a controversial topic. Are they effective?

My personal thoughts are the more well-rounded and balanced your core routine, the more you will build strength, and endurance in your entire core area which is essential to total body functional fitness. Which means, situps can be effective, but they need to be combined with other exercises, even other versions of the classic sit-up to give you the most bang for your buck. 

So, today I’m going to show you how to do one of my very favorite versions of the situp; butterfly sit-ups. 

First of all, butterfly sit-ups are an effective core exercise because the “butterfly” positioning of the legs engages your hips and abdominals in a different way stengthening both areas. This version of the sit-up also increases flexibility in your hip area. Which in turn will help your running, squatting, and many other fitness movements. 

How to do it:

Sit on the floor in sit-up position with your knees out wide, and the soles of your feet touching each other. Your legs will resemble butterfly wings. 

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Keeping your back flat and your head in a neutral position, slowly lower your upper body until your shoulder blades reach the floor.

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Using your abdominals “sit-up” reaching out over your toes if you can. If you aren’t that flexible, try to touch your feet instead. This is one rep. 

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Tips to remember:
- Keep your back flat at all times, and your head neutral. Don’t be tempted to tuck your chin into your chest. 
– Do not to use your bodyweight as momentum to sit-up.
For example, do not lower your body quickly and bounce off the floor into the sit-up. It should be a slow lower to engage your core effectively. 
– If you cannot do a full sit-up at first, that is okay. Start with a half.
Try this:
Using the same leg positioning, lower your shoulder blades to the floor, and as you sit-up reach your hands for the ceiling stopping at the top of the half sit-up. Hold briefly and lower. 

Now you have a new move to add to your next core/abs workout! I hope you’ll try it. 

Looking for some fitness motivation for today?

A workout to try:
30-20-10 Workout
Start with a 5 minute warm up of light jogging, jumping jacks, and squats, and finish with 5 minutes of stretching for a 30 minute workout! 

Have a great day! 

~ Liesl 

Liesl January 28, 2015 Leave A Comment Permalink

January Jumpstart Week 4 – You Can Do It All!

Hey, and happy Saturday!

It’s 6am as I finish up this post and currently Kester my sweet 10 week old is still snoozing.

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Eight hours and counting folks = awesomeness! 

Our weekend started out with a Friday afternoon walk outside, 34 degrees (whoop!) and a lovely dinner with friends which included some of this…

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recipe to follow in the coming weeks.

This afternoon we are headed north for a few hours with more friends and are loving these times of connecting personally with those who love, care for, and pray for our little family as we serve and do ministry life in Mexico.

So how did Week 3, smart snackage go for you? It was hard wasn’t it? I realized how easy it is to grab a handful of pretzels, or a packaged granola or protein bar during the day just because it’s there. Snacking on real food takes more work, more preparation, but made me feel really good about the food I was putting in my mouth. Some of my favorite “real food” snacks from the week: hardboiled eggs, veggie sticks and homemade hemp hummus, yogurt and fresh fruit, chia pudding, and cheese with apples. MMMMmmm…getting hungry just thinking about the snacks I’ll eat today! ;) 

This week as I was tossing around ideas for week 4 of the January Jumpstart Challenges and I thought why not combine all three challenges from the previous weeks into one week? Really end our healthy month of January with a bang!! Say what?

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Yes, you heard me correctly, this week I am challenging you and myself to a week of:

1) starting the day with a healthy breakfast & 30 minutes of exercise/conscious movement every single day 

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2) swapping sweets and sugar for healthier options

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3) snacking smarter, on “real” foods

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It’s going to be tough, I know, but you’ve got this! 

I’m excited about doing all the challenges this week because I know it will jumpstart my body in a major way preparing me for the challenges to come this next month in Fit February. 

If you’re game and joining me this week you can review the details for each challenge by clicking on the links above. Have a question? Contact me in the comments section, I’m more than happy to help provide ideas, motivation and encouragement. 

Don’t forget to prepare this weekend! Sit down for a few minutes and write out your fitness plan for the week and get to the store so your fridge is stocked with healthy, fresh meal options.

Looking for some ideas for your fitness plan this week? Head over to one of my favorite fitness reads The Fitnessista. She is starting her well known & free! Winter Shape Up! I’m planning on checking out some of the workouts and meal ideas and you should too!

Cheers to a healthy final week of January and an amazing jumpstart to February!!

~Liesl

Liesl January 24, 2015 2 Comments Permalink

Not a Minute to Spare

Hey there! It’s Friday… holy wow!!! And no workout move of the week post to report. There was one in the works, but the finished product never materialized. It has been one of those weeks.

Kester had a really rough day on Sunday. I think it was over-stimulation from the busy weekend combined with signs of teething. He didn’t want to eat well all day and had several bouts of intense screaming, seemingly for no reason. Poor, sad boy. Poor Momma and Daddy. Glad that’s over. 

If that wasn’t enough he had some trouble sleeping a night or two because of some intense gas issues. Yeah…Momma ate cauliflower. I guess that won’t be on the menu again any time soon. Oh and I had a root canal. Yeah, ain’t no thang. 

All that to say there’s been some serious snuggling and lack of getting much else done around here this week. 

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So, here are a few links to past posts that I thought you might want to check out if you are looking for some fitness reading. 

How to: Pushup
Plank Like a Boss
Deadlifting with Dumbbells

Something to make: Pear Spice Baked Oatmeal, it’s perfect for a lazy Saturday morning breakfast! 

See you tomorrow with Week 4’s January Jumpstart Challenge.

~ Liesl

Liesl January 23, 2015 6 Comments Permalink

Jumpstart January Week 3 – Smarter Snackage

Hey friends! 

So how’s your Saturday going? We are out of town visiting Pete’s family in Milwaukee this weekend. Kester has been out of sorts this week as far as eating and sleeping goes, so I could be going through some sort of Mommy hell right now as he always seems to be worse when we are away from home. 

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But that cute face…anyways, hoping I’ll only have good reports. (fingers crossed)

Week 2…the Sugar Swap challenge, how did it go? Who lasted the entire week without eating sugary junk? 

I was doing great, not even craving the stuff really and then Pete and I went out for Mexican on Wednesday night. We decided we really needed a night out just us, and that we missed Mexico since it truly is a part of who we are now. So after a long chat (in Spanish) with the owner who just sat down in the booth with us (totally Mexican) he brought us free dessert. Did I want it? Not really. Was it completely culturally appropriate that I eat it, yes. So I did. 

But you know what? After I ate it, I moved on and jumped right back into the challenge. Why? Because these challenges aren’t about how long you can last without eating sugar, or how many workouts you can do consecutively. Nope, that’s not the idea. The goal behind these challenges is building healthly habits that re-set our bodies, and minds regarding living a healthy lifestyle. 

As we ate the dessert I told Pete, it’s not about this one piece of flan ruining my week of “no sugar” it’s about what I do once I finish this piece of flan. Do I go home and say screw it and eat cookies and chocolate every day for the rest of the week because I blew it? No, I go home and focus my mind on the goal ahead. I want to finish what I started because I know a week with just one dessert will begin to re-set my body (hello post-Christmas detox) and my mind to have the will power to make healthy food choices as the year progresses.

So I want to encourage you, these challenges are not so you can check something off a list, or feel good about a week of healthy eating and exercise. They are about building a foundation, brick by brick, of a healthy lifestyle. Small changes, gradually, add up to a healthy, energetic, motivated, happier, more successful you. And hopefully your jeans will be fitting a little better too. ;) 

All that to say I hope Week 2 went well for you. I know I felt like my body went into re-set mode, and I love it! I always feel this way when I cut out sugar, and it’s awesome. I think I might do it again this coming week along with the new challenge…anyone else want to join me?

Well enough of my motivational talk, let’s get on to Week 3’s challenge!!

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Snacking…I find this is an area where it is so easy for me to falter. Anyone else?

First of all, I’m a huge advocate of eating snacks. I think they are a fantastic way to manage your daily food intake and keep your metabolism running high. The key is smart snackage! Hence this week’s challenge.

The idea behind smart snackage: This week’s challenge is two-fold.
1. Concentrate on eating only “real food” snacks.

So what are “Real food” snacks?

This week the goal is to snack on foods in their most natural form. The idea is to avoid packaged, processed snacks, and to think about how to best fuel our bodies. 

For example:
Real food snacks – veggies (very natural), hardboiled eggs, smoothies with fresh fruit and veggies, yogurt (plain nothing added), homemade hummus with natural ingredients, cheese, apples, oranges, grapefruit, nuts (plain, nothing added), homemade trail mix with nothing added but real nuts, and dried fruits, natural nut butters (nothing but nuts and salt).

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Other snacks (not “real” food) – packaged trail mix, sugary yogurts, pretzels, chips, granola bars, protein bars, honey roasted nuts, packaged muffins and cookies, cereal, crackers, bottled sugary smoothies, nut butters with sugar or other added ingredients. 

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* Example: I Love both of these items, and they are healthier choices when it comes to packaged snacks, but not “real” food in it’s most natural form. (which is what we are going for this week)

Make sense? To do this we are going to have to be prepared. Don’t go into the week with an empty fridge. Get to the store and pick up some veggies and fruit, frozen fruit for making smoothies, and prep some healthy snacks for yourself and your family. Fail to plan, plan to fail. That’s all.

 And part 2:

2. Tracking our daily snackage. 

This week we are going to write down every.single.snack that crosses our lips. And for extra credit what time of day you ate the snack.

Why? The goal is to go over our “snackage journal” in the evenings and evaluate our choices for that particular day. Ask yourself the following questions as you look at your snackage journal:

What time of day did you snack the most? What was your body craving? What types of snacks did you eat? Was your snacking excessive, not enough, or just right? 

So get out a notebook, or keep track on your computer or phone, whatever is easiest for you. Then take 5 minutes to go over your snackage journal before you go to bed and decide how you can snack smarter the next day. 

The point of incorporating snacks into our diet is to keep our metabolism firing throughout the day, and to keep our hunger levels balanced. If we head into a meal ravenous we are more likely to eat an unhealthy amount of food, not make great food choices, and feel terribly full. However, if we snack smart throughout the day we keep our blood sugar levels balanced and our body will crave healthy lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats, versus empty carbohydrates and sugar. So…this is the goal! 

Personally I’m super excited about this week’s challenge. I’ve never kept track of just my snacks before and I know it will be incredibly eye-opening for me to see where I lack some self-discipline regarding my eating. Plus, I love the idea of concentrating on whole foods for snacking! It’s something I want to get better at because I know it’s what is best for my family. 

That’s the challenge for Week 3. Real food snacks, and track your snacks…Smart Snackage 101. :) 

And as always if you have any questions or comments on this week’s challenge post them to the comments section of this post and I’ll be happy to answer you! 

Have a great week, and cheers to smart snackage!

~ Liesl

 

Liesl January 17, 2015 2 Comments Permalink

Workout Move of the Week – Bicep Curls

Hey everyone! How’s the week going?

I know alot of you are doing Week 2’s challenge, the Sugar Swap, and I hope you’ve made it over the hump of the first few days sugar free. It seems like once you get past 2-3 days it gets easier…at least for me. How are you feeling with it? 

For this week’s Workout Move of the Week I wanted to pick another basic move that is familiar to most of us, the bicep curl. Last week we talked about squats you can check that out here.

All of us like the idea of shapely arms, am I right? There is nothing that will give a woman more confidence than a little muscle tone, rather than a waggle when she waves goodbye. ;) Not only that, strong arms are functional for things like carrying car seats and toddlers, hefting those grocery bags, and having pushup contests with your little boy. Which I full intend to do…in a few years. And guy readers, we know you like to look buff, but still, if you can’t pull off a tank top, don’t wear one. We can still see, and admire your guns from the t-shirt. :) 

Okay, so back to the bicep curl. 

The bicep curl is a fantastic strength move that has a myriad of variations to target the biceps brachi muscle and also tone the surrounding muscles of the arm. It is important to use proper form when doing bicep curls as to not risk injury to your back, shoulders, or wrists.

Basic Bicep Curl: Stand holding a dumbbell in each hand, arms extended, palms facing forward, one foot slightly in front of the other foot, knees soft and slightly bent. Tuck your booty under and squeeze your core tight. 
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Keeping your elbows tight to your sides use your bicep muscle to slowly curl the weights up to your shoulder height. Pause the curl briefly at the top and then slowly lower the weights back to the starting position. This is one rep.

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So that’s the basic idea. Here are a few tips to remember:
- do not use your back and legs to swing the weights up into the curl. If you find you are doing this you are using too heavy of weights and you need to dial it back. You are no longer using your biceps to do the lift.
– when doing any variation of the bicep curl you want to keep your wrists straight, not curl them in. 
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Right
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Wrong
If you curl your wrists in while practicing bicep curls you are working your forearms and wrists and with heavier weights (chosen for the biceps) this could easily be a recipe for injury.

Now for a few variations on the bicep curl to spice up your arm workouts, and target other portions of the muscle!

1. Hammer curls – Holding two dumbbells stand with one foot slightly in front of the other, knees soft and bent slightly, and arms hanging straight down at your sides with your palms facing in towards your legs. The head of the weight facing forwards. 
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Keeping your elbows tight to your sides use your bicep muscle to slowly curl the weights up to your shoulder height. Pause the curl briefly at the top and then slowly lower the weights back to the starting position. This is one rep.

2. Concentration curls – Kneel down on the floor and put one foot in front of you, knee bent at a 90 degree angle like in a lunge position. You could also sit on a bench, step, or stability ball and spread your legs wide. Lean over slightly placing the outside of one elbow against the inside of your knee, arm extended straight holding a dumbbell.
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Keeping your elbow tight to your knee use your bicep to curl the weight up, pause, and then slowly lower to the start. This is one rep. Do all your repetitions for one arm, and then switch to the other arm. At this point you will also switch legs putting your other leg in front.
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3. Supine curls – Holding two dumbbells stand with one foot slightly in front of the other, knees soft and bent slightly, and arms hanging straight down at your sides with your palms facing outward. 
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Keeping your elbows tight to your sides use your bicep muscle to slowly curl the weights up to your shoulder height. Pause the curl briefly at the top and then slowly lower the weights back to the starting position. This is one rep.

4. Stability ball one arm preacher curls – Kneel on the floor behind a stability ball. Place one arm out in front of you laying it over the ball, inner arm and palm facing up. 
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Using your bicep muscle curl the weight up, pause and squeeze the muscle at the top of the movement and then slowly lower the weight back to the start. This is one rep. Do all your repetitions for one arm and then switch to the other arm. 
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A few more thoughts:
–  If you are a beginner, start out with light weights, (5lbs or less) to get the form down. However, don’t stay here long. You won’t challenge your muscles. Increase the weight you are using once you are comfortably performing 15 repetitions with the lighter weight.

– More advanced exercisers, play with other forms of weight such as a barbell, or kettlebells. Or try a ladder type workout moving from HEAVY weights and low repetitions in your first set to then lighter and lighter weights with more repetitions in your following sets. 

Also here are more bicep curl variations for future workouts!

An Arm Workout to try:
Basic Bicep Curl – 15
Pushups – 15
Hammer Curl – 15 
Pushups – 15
Concentration Curl – 15
Pushups – 15
* Rest 60 seconds and repeat the workout this time doing 12 reps of each exercise. Next rest 30 seconds and repeat one last time with 10 reps of each exercise. 

A healthy snack to make: No Bake PB Granola Bar Bites

Have a great Wednesday!

~ Liesl 

Liesl January 14, 2015 Leave A Comment Permalink