fitspiration

Benefits of Writing IT DOWN

We all get busy, we all think ‘well that isn’t so bad’ or ‘I worked out a few days ago…I think’. We all get wrapped up in school, work, family, friends, pets, chores, errands, and just keeping our heads above water (trust me I know-I work two jobs as well as a full time students and I get up and have to be somewhere by 8am every single day of the week-I GET IT). But while you are guessing about your food intake, you thoughts on how much you are eating, how much you are actually active and pushing your goals onto ‘next week’, today is still here and you can fix it all TODAY. RIGHT NOW.

LOL

It has been proven in countless studies that people who physically WRITE down their goals before they start trying to obtain them are more likely to stick with it and actually achieve them. 

Here’s some more statistics for you. This is the more troubling one:

 

50% (yes-HALF) of the people who start a new diet/workout routine or program will END UP QUITTING. 

This should be startling to you, as it is to me. Why? Why do we constantly put our health on the back burner? Years from now, you will have so many aches and pains, along with some diseases or disorders probably and wish you had taken your health seriously NOW before it was too late.

CHANGE YOUR APPROACH

Can we stop only dieting/exercising to lose weight?! This is aggravating as a fitness professional, it’s all I see. If you start think about simply getting healthy, becoming active to prevent diseases, to keep your body working properly, and to eat right to fuel it. It’s like you have a Lambo and you decide to never wash it, never have maintenance done and you decide to use orange juice instead of gas. Really guys? I love cheese fries as much as the next girl but I know my body can’t USE that junk for much of anything besides storing it as fat and hating me for putting that fried stuff in it. Now, don’t get me wrong, I do eat a balanced diet, so I eat loads of fruits, veggies, protein packed lean foods but I also eat when I get a craving. My goal isn’t surrounding whether the scale says SKINNY or it says FAT ASS. Because guess what? That scale DOESN’T know me. For most of my life, for my height, according to those ridiculous charts doctors go off of based on height and weight to determine your BMI and whether you are overweight or not, I have ALWAYS fell under the overweight column. Even though I have been an athlete, with muscular legs and been in small clothing sizes. So I don’t believe the scales. You should ditch yours, too.

 

weight

 

That’s what weight is-mass times acceleration of gravity. Yet so many people spend their lives worrying about this stupid calculation. Chill out. Eat. Workout. Be happy.

 

Keep a journal-for work outs and for food

When you write down things and see it on paper, in one place, you can really start to realize what it is you need to work on, what you are doing that might be really working for you or damaging your goals. 

For food, I always come back to MyFitness Pal. Why? Because this world is glued to a freakin piece of technology constantly in their hand at all times, so by having an app you can take anywhere, you can even pull up foods if you are out to eat and about to order, to see what fits your macros/calories or any of that stuff if you count them. You can scan barcodes on most foods and it’ll pop up automatically, showing the content and serving size immediately. For average people, they do not realize a few things when it comes to eating

1.) Calorie/fat amount. This is a big one. If you asked someone the amount of calories in something they were eating, they would usually guess a number incredibly lower than what it really has in it. Educate yourself! If you thought there was only 300 calories in a slice of pie but it really has 800- you are seriously underestimating you daily amounts. So be sure you are aware of these things.

2.) Serving Sizes.  This is another biggie that I see even with educated individuals. Marketing people for foods and brands are smart. They know how to get you to buy their product and eat it. If they say that 1 serving of something is only 100 calories, you are sold and go digging in, head in the bottom of the bag like a vulture. Please read further on your nutrition label. The serving size is probably tiny, like 10 crackers, 2 cookies, etc. You have to watch this. If there were only 100 calories in a serving, but you just mindlessly ate 12 servings, well…….

 

As for your exercising and working out, you can easily do this by setting a goal-let’s say you want to work out at least 3-5 days out of a week. So write that goal and put it on the fridge. Now invest in a calendar, one you can hang somewhere you can see it daily, like the fridge, the wall, your bathroom, the front door, where ever. Get one that you can go back and see your progress later, so not just a washable weekly/monthly board one. Now pick two color markers. On each day, you will mark with a check mark in one color or a big X in the other color. The check mark will mean you worked out, the X will represent that you did not. 

 

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(You can also Google ‘Workout Calendar’ and find some awesome templates to print out and use if you want!)

 

Of course you can do your calendar digitally, but there’s something about marking it yourself-with your own hands, and having a physical connection with this log. It’s just like writing your goal, you can type it out but it won’t be the same as if you wrote it in your own handwriting with pen and paper. There’s a psychological connection when you actually write with your own hands that you don’t get from technology. You can also see your progress and how you have been adhering to your goal all at once, rather than clicking on the days one at a time on your computer. But, to each their own. Do whatever works best for YOU!

 

Happy Working out guys!

 

-a

Watermelon Slush!

It’s summer. It’s hot. How do you cool down? How about a delicious slush drink, but healthy? Here is the answer to your prayers!

 

Watermelon Strawberry Slush

watermelom

This. This is all you need.

  • Frozen Strawberries
  • Fresh Watermelon
  • Blender

 

That’s it. Put a handful of frozen berries in the blender. Throw chunks of your watermelon in. Blend. Tada.

slush

It is soooo delicious.

If you aren’t a berry fan. Simply put a handful of plain old ice cubes in the blender with your watermelon chunks.

Stay cool!

-a

Are You Drinking Enough Water?

The benefits from drinking enough water, yes plain Jane water (not including juice, teas, flavored water with sugar) is phenomenal. Your body is made up of about 70% water, you need it to survive. You should drink minimum 8 glasses (8 FL oz = 1 glass) of water a day. But if you work out and are active, you should definitely be drinking more than that.

Benefits
Water has so many positive side effects.
-eliminate and help bloating
-loss of water weight as you begin to drink water when you never drank any. Because your body didn’t know when it’d get water again, it retained the little bit it got.
-cleaning out organs like kidneys, intestines ect by flushing out the toxins
-helps all your organs work properly because they are made mainly of water
-if you drink water at certain times of the day, it has health benefits (a glass before a shower has been shown to reduce high blood pressure)
-aids in digestion, slightly (very slightly) helping your metabolism boost
-energizes. Yes if you need a boost of energy try drinking a big thing of water. You may have been dehydrated.

The downfalls are yes, you do need to use that bathroom a lot. But once you get in the rhythm of things, you won’t have to go as much and you’ll know when and how to time your drinking.

Juices and sodas aren’t hydrating you. They’re dehydrating you more in all honesty. The sugar, carbonation, and all the added junk is dehydrating your body more. Give your body what it needs. After eating a bag of Doritos which is sucking you dry from the salt content, adding a Dr. Pepper on top of it is so terrible for you.

How much should you actually drink?
I know you see (if you’re on instagram/twitter) people drinking 1 or 2 gallons a day. I’m not saying you need to carry a gallon jug everywhere. Not at all. I don’t do that either. I find it hard to drink from the gallon jug. Its a mind game of sorts. So I have collected the 1.5 liter bottles of smart water and keep them to refill. I drink minimum of 2 of those a day. Minimum. The goal is 3 or more but this is my lifestyle and I don’t beat myself up if I only even drink 1 (traveling days in the car to not have to stop so much). You get used to it. Start with a small water bottle and move your way up to the big leagues. You don’t have to go from drinking no water to 8 gallons overnight. No ones forcing you to do such. But if you feel hungry after you recently ate, drink a glass of water. You could just be thirsty. If you feel fatigued, drink a glass.

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Heres my 1.5 liter bottle I refill constantly. At home I refill with my filter on my sink. But since I’m on vacation I brought spring water gallons to refill. Easy as that!

Happy Drinking!
-a

Staying fit and healthy-even on vacation

So I’m on vacation on the beach this week. Does this mean all my hard work goes down the drain? Of course not! If you really are committed to health and the lifestyle (that means this isn’t a diet or a temporary thing-you live this healthy way all the time) you know you feel best when you workout at least 20-30 minutes a day to get your endorphins raging, to lift your mood and give you energy. You know eating grilled or broiled versus fried makes you feel alive. If you go on vacation and have been living the healthy lifestyle a while, you don’t want to have a whole cheat week otherwise you’re in for some pain. You’ll feel bloated, tired, weak and miserable. Is that how you want to be? Didn’t think so.
So come prepared.
Just bring a cooler, book a room with at least a fridge and pack your fave health foods. Yes you can still eat out with everyone, just remember you’ll feel miserable if you don’t choose something broiled. But if you’re by the ocean, fresh seafood tastes better that way anyways. Yes you can still splurge. I’ve had froyo and other treats, but I’ve upped my water intake to help not feel so miserable from them and limit it to one treat a day ( froyo after dinner with cheesecake bites, get a small daquiri at lunch, have fries with my scallops). You should drink a lot of water anyways because you’re probably in the sun more than usual, you are walking a lot and you need to replenish and often. I brought my 1.5 liter bottles and bought 80 cent gallons of spring water to refill them. I’m drinking about 3-4 liters of water.
Sunscreen is your friend.
If you’re wanting to be healthy in life, its not just about what you eat and drink. Take care of your skin, too. I’m using 30 SPF sport. Putting it on every 2 hours. I’m getting a little color but not too much. I’m not burning. Which is key. Don’t come and get burnt your first day and be miserable the rest of your vacation. Each time you burn your also increasing your chances of skin cancer. Be cautious. If you want to be dark, I suggest faux tans. I personally use the Jergens lotion that darkens you over time. Its awesome and you apply it just like normal lotion. No skin cancer to be had.
Foods I brought
So here’s a list of the stuff I brought to stay pretty healthy plus save money:
Oatmeal
Greek yogurts
Babybel cheese minis
Light string cheese
Organic grapes
Mandarin oranges
Balance bars
Nut mixes
Veggie chips from whole foods (like vegan cheddar kale chips)
Whole wheat bread
No added sodium turkey breast
Thin sliced provolone
Laughing cow wedges
100 cal multi grain English muffins
Natural peanut butter
Natural jelly
Microwaveable brown rice packs
Tuna packs
Salmon packs
Gallons of spring water

Working out
You can run on the beach, find a gym that’ll let you work out for the time you are there, get a hotel with a gym or simply work out in your room. Where I’m staying has a treadmill and a Bowflex. That’s it. So I improvised and used the treadmill for intervals of 30 sec sprints 30 sec jogs for a 10 minute mile. Then I went to my room to do bodyweight exercises! Here’s what I did:

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Health is a choice. And its a lifestyle. Don’t stop just because you’re away from home. And you don’t have to deprive yourself of anything. Still stick to 80% whole foods 20% anything else.

Happy travels!

-a

My Arguments Against ‘Clean Eating’

One of the most frustrating things I keep seeing in this world and fitness/health industry is the finger pointing game. I find it ridiculous that if you have found a diet you like, that works for you, and you can stick with for the long term (this commitment should be up there with marriage guys, it’s serious) than that is great for you. So what if someone else is finding results doing something way different from you. We should embrace each other and be happy they found something that works for them. You don’t have to follow it. Just support them. But instead, everyone acts 5 years old and accuses each other of doing things wrong, without much research and backing into their argument. Which is silly.

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Clean eating is the idea that you never eat anything bad for you, which is, pretty much everything in this world. Only eat organic, never eat preservatives, never eat refined sugars, never eating pre packaged food. Pretty much, this is a very strict lifestyle.

One of the arguments of clean eating being the ‘only’ way you can become healthy and fit is that all of the ‘chemicals’ in food are bad for you. Yes, some of the chemicals that have been added to your food are terrible, and some of them are cancer causing agents. But saying all chemicals that are in food are bad for you, really isn’t a valid argument when that organic orange naturally is made up of chemicals. If you have taken any science class in high school or higher, you know this. Chemicals make up nearly every substance in this world. Yes, man has made some chemicals and have added them to foods that are terrible. Yes, try to steer clear of these. But to say all chemicals are bad, that’s a little far fetched.

There are also so many different ‘rules’ of clean eating, that it’s just a headache just to look into it and know what you are getting into. There are lists like this one going around the internet:

list

Yet most hardcore clean eaters wouldn’t touch any cheese, Kashi products, etc with a 10 foot pole. Most serious clean eaters stick with the unsweetened almond milk, sweeten things only with stevia drops (pure stevia), eat plain greek yogurt from brands they do serious research on (or make their own) and only eat organic, local foods. They hardly eat wheat, especially processed pre-made pastas. This list wouldn’t be too bad actually, so if you could just stick with it, I doubt it would be that bad. But that’s usually just the gateway for most. It’s like people with Anorexia, they don’t start just starving themselves right off the bat usually, they start small with a diet and lose a few pounds and then it becomes extreme because they love the feeling and dropping the weight. If you could simply stick with this diet and this list and never go further, great. Good for you. For most, this is just the beginning of the dive into the deep end, head first.

Clean eating is supposed to be a great way for you to eat without counting anything, keeping up with any intakes, just as long as it’s clean. Hmmm. Let’s go over this. So you are saying I can go from counting my calories/macros and as long as I eat strictly ‘clean’ I will still lose weight and can see my dream body in the mirror in a couple of months, then? WRONG. Calories in < Calories out. It’s the equation for weight loss, whether you like it or not. If you are bulking, you will either have calories in = calories out or calories in > calories out. If you go with your clean eating ways, you could fall in love with organic plan greek yogurt and go eating 3 tubs a day of it. You are 2000 calories over your maintenance. Oh no, your shorts aren’t fitting. But went wrong? Oh right, your calories went high so you gained. It’s science, guys. Science doesn’t lie.

Binge

Another downfall of the clean eating hype is the problem of being so strict. Most people who are deep in their clean eating ways become so obsessive of every morsel of every single thing that enters their mouth. Which is a problem. This causes a spiral down into the deep dark cave of disordered eating in it’s way. These people become obsessive to the point they are constantly checking ingredients in foods, scolding those around them for eating ‘bad foods’ and if they have a treat or binge, they hate themselves even deeper than usual because those foods were so ‘terrible’ for them. When it comes to the Battle of the Binge (I will be posting about this soon), I think it is the clean eaters I see dealing with this problem the most. It’s because they are trying so hard to restrict themselves and when a craving finally takes them over, they go nuts and can’t stop. And then they feel guilt for days. What kind of life is that? Would you call this living?

You can combine clean eating with being a human being, I swear. The 80/20 rule is what most people should live by. Eat 80% healthy wholesome foods but if you get a craving, give into the damn thing and have a slice of cake. If you don’t give into these cravings once in a while, you will go nearly insane whether you admit it or not and then you will binge on all the junk food in your house in one night. You will save your sanity, your gut, and your calorie intake a lot of trouble if you just give into the damn cookie calling your name.

 

 

Importance of Stretching-Even if you don’t workout

The latest craze in the world, especially in the female population, has been yoga. And there is a good reason why! Yoga gets your body moving, it helps you escape from your stressful daily life, it moves your body when you have been sitting at a desk all week, for 40 hours or more. It helps you get a break from studying for school. It helps you get the blood pumping, release energy, actually even build muscle slowly over time. Stretching has so many benefits, whether you are suffering from insomnia, stress, feeling bloated or tired, having the usual back pain from sitting too long, or to prevent/heal injuries. Stretching has so many amazing benefits, you would have to be a fool not to get into it!

Yoga, stretching, whatever you want to call it

You don’t even have to necessarily do ‘yoga’. You don’t have to know those crazy poses and moves. I can barely pronounce them myself, so you don’t need to know them either. I just want you to understand even bending down and touching your toes (forward fold) and breathing deeply for a couple of minutes to escape and gain some sanity back during a hectic work day. By doing this daily, you will eventually be able to completely fold over, touching your nose to your knees with your legs straight, reaching your hands behind your feet. And you will feel alive and awesome.

Start small-it’ll make a difference

If you are already working out, you can probably handle more advanced things, but still, be careful. Don’t go jumping into a full on split too quick and rip a hammy (pulling a hamstring hurts- I am still recovering from an injury 6 years ago in my show-off cheerleading days. This injury is what got me into yoga and stretching daily). Start with downward dog, deep lunging, warrior poses, table pose, and simple things. I started with simply typing in ‘Yoga for Beginners’ and following some yoga people on Instagram (yogagirl, beachyogagirl, and ellefit are some of my personal faves). Don’t EVER think to do good at yoga you have to be able to hold a handstand for 8 hours and do fancy stuff like that. Just trying it, even if the most advanced you get is wheel pose (a back bend or bridge to normal people), you are doing the best you can and that’s amazing.

‘But I already work out’

Yeah, so do I. And I get a good workout even at work. But guess what? Yoga and stretching should be done even more by people who work out a lot. The more flexible your muscles are, the more work you can do, the more movement you can do and the less likely you are to pull something or become injured. Stretching after working out also prevents some soreness, and injuries. Even if you are a strong Hulk, you can benefit tremendously from stretching.

Prevents joint pain, arthritis, back pain, spinal problems, lowering heart attack risk,help reduce depression/anxiety/stress

With all of these benefits, why wouldn’t you want to pick up the habit of stretching, even if it’s only for 5-10 minutes a day? Working out does wonders. If you stretch in the morning, you can get some energy to make it through the day ahead and feel lighter on your feet. If you stretch after eating a big meal, you can help prevent stomach aches and bloating. If you stretch before bed you can help your body go into relax mode and drift right off to sleep.

You don’t need a class, you don’t even technically need to go out and buy a yoga mat

Yeah, they’re cute and all. But do you actually need a yoga mat? No. If you have carpet or rugs, you are totally fine. The yoga mats are more useful for hard wood/tile floors or stretching outside. Save money and just use your carpet in the bedroom as your stretching area.

Build up to the advanced moves

I was a gymnast and cheerleader for a long time. Now I coach. I could handle jumping right into head/forearm/hand stands with no problem. I can also do back bends all day. You may never have done a sport in your life. And that is totally fine. Start with trying to do head stands against the wall if you feel comfortable, but please read up on proper form, possibly ask an instructor to guide you some one on one (try to find a cheap beginner class at the local rec center or YMCA and ask to get extra help after class) or at least make sure you have another person to help spot you and hold your legs if needed to ensure you put your weight on your hands (or elbows depending on your position you choose to execute the head stand) and not on your neck or any other bad area. The easiest way to get into a headstand is to lace your fingers together in front of you, place your hands on the floor and place the top of your skull into your palms. Straighten your legs with your toes pointed and still on the ground. Try and test putting your weight on your elbows that are bent and on the ground (your forearms are on the ground as well as you are still clasping your head). Now jump your legs into a tuck position (knees bent, feet off of the ground). Make sure you are sucking in your belly, keeping your spine and neck straight, supporting your balance in your forearm and elbows. Now straighten your legs with your toes to the sky. Squeeze your booty and stay tight. If you are using the wall a lot for support in the beginning, that’s okay. Stay in this position as long as you can to try and get the feel for it as well as trying to gain the muscles needed to be able to hold this without the wall one day. Eventually, you can start trying to get your legs off of the wall slowly to find your balance and hold the position without support for as long as you can. Then you will be able to try it away from the wall completely.

headstand

 

 

Here are some basic stretching moves you can try anywhere and at any level!

 

Happy Stretching 🙂

 

Jivamukti-Yoga-Beginners-Class-4 Ashtanga-Yoga-Class-1

 

a

Working Out-On a Budget

Think you need a gym membership to get fit? Think you need a personal trainer for $90/hour? Think you have to spend thousands to get a decent set up for a home gym?

Think again.

You can work out at home- with little to no equipment. Body weight exercises, yoga, all types of things! I will break down proper form on these in later posts, if you don’t know what any of these are (or you can ask me!).

  • Squats/squat jumps
  • Lunges (walking, forward, back, side, pulses)
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Push ups (push up rows, incline, decline, on your knees, wide, narrow, regular)
  • Mountain climbers (slow or fast)
  • Burpees (beginner style or advanced)
  • Squat then raise one knee to elbow, squat, repeat with other side
  • Tuck jumps (stand still, jump and bring your knees forward and up towards your chest)
  • High knees in place
  • Booty kicks in place (lift feet back towards your booty)
  • Plank tucks (in plank position, jump knees to chest together, jump legs back into plan)
  • Plank holds
  • Plank arm switches (go from on hands down to elbow one arm first, then the other, then one at a time get back on your hands while engaging your abs and squeezing your booty)
  • Tuck Straddles (sitting on your booty with knees to chest, lean back some, lifting your feet off the ground with knees still bent, lift hands off the grounds and go from tuck position into a straddle-straight legs out-and return back to tuck position still not touching the ground nor your legs with your hands)
  • Superman lifts
  • Handstands and Handstand Push Ups against the wall (please work up to this, I will post working up to handstands and inversions soon)
  • V ups (laying flat on your back, with arms straight by your head, engaging your core lift both shoulders and legs off the ground, reaching hands towards your toes then come back flat down and repeat)
  • Penguins (laying on your back, feet on the ground, legs bent, knees in the air, you will go side to side touching the side of your hand to the side of your ankle on that side, repeat as quickly as you can, with shoulders lifted off of the ground)

 

 

 

 

Equipment on a Budget

There are so many ways to get some equipment when you want to be more hard core than just body weight moves.

When I graduated with my business degree, I was given $500 as gifts from family. I took that and went sale/yard sale/craigslist shopping on the hunt for some great deals on workout equipment. Even if you just get dumbbells in different weights, you can do a lot.

 

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I started with just the dumbbell set where you can add or take off the weights as you desire or need. But then I went and got the 10 lb, then 20 lb and then a 30 lb (yes, I can actually curl that 30 lb one because ARMS OF STEEL). You can find dumbbells at Walmart or Target as well as people who bought them and let them collect dust for months for pretty cheap.

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Having a stability ball is great for abs, arms, and all kinds of things. I love this stupid thing. Next I wish to get a bosu ball, which is just half of a ball and is really great for getting all areas of your abs with different moves.

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This bench set came with the weights, the barbell and the bench. I found it on sale for $150.00 at Walmart. No joke. It was the last one. I see them online, especially Craigslist often too. Check everywhere. Price check on Amazon as well, especially if you have a Prime membership. I recently bought another barbell and 100 lbs of extra weights to be able to add more weight to my squats.

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I got this for FREE. A family member had it and used it for like a month. He heard I am a fitness junkie and that I jokingly wanted a punching bag to tape my old manager’s face (from my desk job) to it and go at it. He took me up on that joke and I found this at my house in the bed of a truck the next week. Ask around. People buy or receive workout stuff over time and if they aren’t using it, you can!

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Craigslist. $125. No lie. Keep your eye out. Set an alert from the app available on the smart phones for certain items when they are posted. This is how I found this baby. It had been bought by a husband to his wife after she had baby number one. She hardly used it, and just had baby number two and just wanted to sell her fitness stuff for extra money for the family. It was a win/win situation. I got a great working treadmill for my HIIT sprints and she gained extra money for feeding her two children.

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I know as odd as it seems, ankle weights are a cheap must have. As a former gymnast and gymnastics coach, you can do so much with these babies. Walk with them on the ankles, put them on your wrists while you walk to gain some muscle work as your do cardio. Put them on the ankles as you do your jumping jacks. Do leg raises with them on. Put them on your calf and do straddle seated leg raises with toes pointed. Hurts sooooo good for the thighs.

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Another cheap but great item. Jump rope is great cardio. Change your cardio up to keep your body guessing and your metabolism through the roof. Do 30 sec of jump rope as fast as you can (feet together) and then a 30 sec rest 20 times. Good burn!

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Not only is the pull up bar ($20 at Walmart/Target/pharmacies) great, but you can even add the bands either for assistance with pull ups (if you are new, you probably need the bands to put your foot in to help until you are stronger) or as I show on the right, you can do pull downs for arms with the bands. See? No need for a gym membership here.

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Another way to use your bar and $5 pack of bands, leg day! Put your bar on the ground in the doorway for support, place a foot in the band loop, kick that leg straight back as far as you can while keeping your upper body remains straight with your chest up. Repeat on the other leg! You can also stand facing the other way and kick forward, or try to kick side to side.

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You will not miss doing the equivalent of this move in the gym, the hip abductor machine. (lol) This helps with saddle bags and the sides of your booty. Tie a band into a loop, put legs in, raise one leg as high as you can. Then the other leg. You will feel the burn. If not, tie the band tighter and/or add the ankle weights for extra work!

Another good idea is trying out YouTube videos! Look up fitness or home workouts and you can find videos similar to programs like Insanity or P90X.

See? Working out doesn’t have to break the bank. If you do things right, you can create a home gym on a budget, for less than it would usually cost for a gym membership for 6 months. You save gas. You save time. And you can workout in your underwear (or naked) with your own music blasting (unless it’s 3 am and your neighbors aren’t cool with that). It’s much more fun.

Happy exercising!

a