12-Minute Workout: Whole Body

Today, my alarm went off for my run. Last night, I stayed up way too late. Today, I hit snooze roughly 2,347,834 times. Today, I missed my run.jM2LoC8FitV4c

But never fear! I was able to get my booty outta bed and into my makeshift home gym (in reality it’s a dining room that currently hosts my bike, an extra couch, my desk and all of my workout equipment but zero dining room furniture). I was very short on time and didn’t really want to focus on any one muscle group. So, on-the-fly, I came up with a fun little workout that I found to be just tough enough! Check it out:

Warm-Up:

A brisk walk with my dog followed by some quality time with my foam roller.

Now I’m Ready:

  • Single-arm bicep curl with balance (15/arm) – Stand on one leg and use a dumbbell (or a bottle of wine, a candle, whatever) to do bicep curls with the opposite arm. Tip: To isolate your biceps, keep your shoulders down and pulled back, keep your elbow locked to your side.
  • Hip lifts with a band (1:00) – Lie on your back and pull a resistance band up around your quads. With knees bent, squeeze your glutes to raise your core off the ground. Tip: Make sure the lifting is coming from your glutes, you don’t want to hyper-extend your back.
  • Leg raises with weight (30) – Lie on your back, holding a weighted object (in my case an Ugi ball) above your head. Raise your legs and your arms to meet in the middle, directly over your face. Tip: Focus on keeping your back flat on the ground, don’t let it arch. Also never forget to breath!
  • Back hypers (1:00) – Lie on your stomach with feet spread about hip-width apart, bend your arms and hold your hands just to the side of your head (face down). Now squeeze your glutes and back muscles to raise your shoulders and quads off the ground at the same time. Tip: Squeeze to raise up smoothly, then release slowly back down.

Repeat the above exercises three times through. This may not be the savior of a workout that will shape your beach bod like no other, but it was a very quick, hard-hitting, enjoyable full body routine. Give it a try and shoot me a note if you want better explanations for certain activities!

loveB

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Checking In

Oh hey there. I’ve been missing you all. I took a short break from blogging, not intentionally but because life has been busy in all the right ways recently. But I am back, and figured that a good place to start would be to check in on how I am doing with my 2017 Goals. We’re one quarter of the way through the year. Here’s my progress and the completely ambiguous score that I’ve given myself.

The Ones Who Matter

  • Current Status: In just three months, I have already made some amazing memories. I also had my first Galentine’s Day trip with two of the most beautiful souls I know.
  • What I’m Looking Forward To: A few friends are getting married this year and I hope to be able to celebrate with them! I’ve also got a killer 4th of July road trip planned.
  • Score: 7. I can do better, particularly with the long-distance friends.

My Best Friend is a Pit Bull

  • Current Status: I remain painfully aware that Annie won’t live forever, and it’s almost debilitating. I’m super fortunate to have people in my life who understand how important Annie is and include her whenever possible. We have spent very few nights apart this year, aside from some travel. And my saint of a mom came up from South Carolina to dog-sit while I was in Ghana!
  • What I’m Looking Forward To: Annie is coming on the epic 4th of July road trip. I am also excited to continue a fun tradition that we started last summer. We skateboard to a nearby park where I work out. Then we skateboard home. It’s a great way for us to both get exercise and spend quality time together.
  • Score: 8. I still think I could do more. I specifically should hire a dog walker, as my work days are long.

Selfie

  • Current Status: Feeling good. In a steady workout routine, eating pretty well at home. But most importantly, I am not letting the stress of life hold me back from doing adventurous and exciting things. Like my recent, spontaneous, trip to Ghana. I’m surrounding myself with beautiful people who raise me up and bring out the best in me.
  • What I’m Looking Forward To: Continuing this trajectory of happiness, knowing good and well that I will encounter a few potholes, but feeling confident that I’m armed with everything I need to get past them.
  • Score: 9. Nobody should ever get a 10 when it comes to self-improvement.

I am still becoming who I’ll be. And if you ask me in a year, I’ll tell you the same thing. If you ask me when I am 100, I’ll repeat myself once again.

loveB

 

 

 

Planks Planks Planks

Y’all, planks are the shit. They’re so so so great for your core. They require no equipment, and can be done almost anywhere. To top it off, you don’t ever have to get bored with them because there are a million variations.

Despite being a simple exercise, most people actually do not plank correctly. Improper form is a problem because, at best, you are not toning the muscles you desire, and at worst, you could get hurt.

Common Mistakes:

  • The Arch: Many people arch their shoulders and upper back as this helps distribute weight to your arms. With this improper form, you’re not getting the workout you desire. Instead you’re allowing your shoulders and neck to hold the majority of your weight as opposed to your core.
  • The Dip: Don’t let those hips sag! Tighten things up by squeezing your abs, glutes and hamstrings. This mishap could seriously injure your lower back.
  • The Vanity Strain: You’d be surprised how many people I see at the gym holding plank while looking up at themselves in a mirror. If you need to check your form, steal a glance, but then put that head back down. Keep your gaze down at the ground, keep your neck and spine in a straight line. Correct neck alignment will prevent injury to your neck and shoulders.
  • Hips in the Air like You Just Don’t Care: Just as you don’t want your hips to sag, it’s easy to get lazy and stick that booty up in the air. This, my friends, is not accomplishing anything except a weird hybrid of plank and down dog. No bueno.

Proper Form Checklist::

  • Keep your whole body tight. Flex everything.
  • Focus on pulling your shoulder blades together to prevent arching in your back.
  • Tuck your booty, but don’t sag your hips.
  • Suck in your stomach while you’re flexing.
  • Play around with the distance between your feet. You may find positions that are more difficult than others.
  • If you start shaking, you’re probably doing it right. Keep going. You rock!

loveB

 

 

 

Biz Trip Health Tips

Hi. I’ve missed you all! Work took me on an awesome, but exhausting trip to the Super Bowl. My business trips are usually jam-packed, high-stress and complete with a lot of fun, late nights. In order to keep up (both mentally and physically), I’ve learned a few routines that I stick to diligently. Check /em out, and let me know what you do to stay sane on business travel.

Pace Yourself: I’m lucky that many of my work trips are complete with cool parties and late-night events. But if I am going on a four-day trip, I know that I can’t stay up until 2 a.m. every night. I’m not 23 anymore. Pick and choose when to stay up late. Maybe go to the evening event, but skip the lobby party later.

Hydrate!: Hydration is always important and I am the WORST at it. But I drink water on the plane, and if there is not a big bottle of water in my hotel room, I’ll make sure to buy one first thing. Drink water throughout the day, the evening and then a TON before bed. When you change timezones, temperatures, schedules, etc. it is easy to get sick. Water is like a miracle drug, acting to both prevent and cure.

Keep Your Routine: Packing is easier when you don’t have to consider workout clothes. But if daily workouts are part of your regular routine, DO NOT STOP when you’re on the road. Making time for myself is the best way to handle stress. I wake up by 6 a.m. each day and by the time I’m done with my workout and coffee, everyone else is just rising. Here are some of my favorite parts about working out on the road:

  • Exploration: Running around a new city is a great way to learn your way, scope out restaurants, or have yourself a fun adventure. Be careful though. If you don’t know the city at all, ask the concierge. I typically look at Google Maps to locate a nearby park or river running trail. Some of my favorite cities to run in are places I went for work, like Austin, TX and Columbus, OH.
  • Creativity: Some hotels have incredible gyms. Others offer a very limited selection of machines and weights. But get creative in there. No matter what they have, you can figure out a kick-ass workout that will leave you feeling energized for the day.
  • Resourcefulness: If your hotel doesn’t have a gym and you aren’t into running, no problem. Find a nearby park with open space and maybe some benches and do a quick bodyweight workout (see below for a list of things you can do with no equipment). No time to leave the room? Move some furniture aside and do something to get the blood flowing and your heart rate up.

No gym, limited space, no problem! Here are some of my favorite activities that require no equipment:

Legs:

  • Squats
  • Lunges (many variations)
  • Single-leg deadlift
  • Hip lifts
  • Leg lifts

Arms:

  • Push-ups (a few variations)
  • Bear crawl (a few variations)
  • Tricep dips
  • Inchworm (also stretches your hammies!)
  • Plank jacks

Core:

  • Crunches
  • Plank (many variations)
  • Side plank
  • Russian twists
  • Toe touches
  • Bicycles
  • Dead bug
  • Crazy Ivans

I hope you get a little more out of your next business trip, and feel healthier when it’s all over. Thanks for reading. Love you all!

loveB

 

 

 

15-Minute Workout: Glutes

Sometimes I sleep through my alarm (don’t lie, you do it too!). And missing a workout can set a bad tone for my day. So, I have mastered the quick and easy, 15-minute workout. I change up the muscle groups, but it’s typically something I can do at my house or outside, without any equipment.

So here’s a simple workout, focusing on your glutes, to try when you’re short on time! TGIF!

Warm-Up:

Getting your muscles warmed-up is really important. Never jump into a workout cold turkey. For my warm-up I do a brisk walk with my dog followed by a very thorough foam roll session. But you could do any number of things to get your heart rate up and your muscles warm. Then give it a bit of a stretch out prior to starting the 15-minute plan.

Let’s Go!

  • Squats: 1 minute – With your feet about shoulder width apart, squat down, slowly and controlled. Be sure your knees do not cave inward as you squat, and stay back with the weight in your heels. Go down as far as you can, comfortably, aiming to get to about 90 degrees. Keep your shoulders up and push your butt out. As you slowly rise back up, squeeze those glutes! Bonus: If you have dumbbells, or an Ugi ball or any other item you wish to hold, feel free to add weight.
  • Side Lunges: 1 minute – Stand with your feet together and step one foot out to the side, lunging down, laterally, to about a 90 degree bend in your knee. Like the squats, keep your shoulders up and push your butt out. Return to starting position and then do the same on the opposite side. Keep all of your movements slow and controlled. Focus on form.
  • Hip Lifts: 1 minute – Lie on your back with your knees bent, heels just a couple of inches from your butt. Lift your hips up off the ground by squeezing your glutes and hold for 1 second. Return slowly and repeat. These sound easy, but if you’ve never done them, get ready for some sore muscles! This is one of those exercises that I love to hate.
  • Side Leg-Lifts: :30 per side – Lie on your side, bend your arm to hold your head up. Tighten your core, flex your foot and squeeze your glutes then raise your leg to about 45 degrees. Again, go slowly to maintain control, form and balance. If you need balance help, bend the bottom leg a bit. Switch sides. A couple of variations exist to make this a little more advanced. You can do the workout in a half side plank, or completely in side plank position or on a bench, if you’re at the gym. But keep everything tight and controlled!
  • Lateral Bounds: 30 seconds – Stand with your feet slightly apart. Hop out to the side, landing carefully on one foot with your knee bent, and allowing the other leg to cross behind your planted one. Then leap the opposite direction. Go slow, pausing as you land to maintain form and control. This is not specifically a butt workout, but is an all-body, stabilizer muscle activity that is just great all around. I do this every single day, no matter what workout I am doing.
  • Back Hypers: 30 seconds – Lie on your stomach with your hands behind your head. Lift your shoulders and legs off the ground, without bending your knees, by squeezing your glutes, quads and back muscles. Be careful not to pull too hard on your back. Return slowly, then repeat.

Try it, enjoy it, work hard at it and have a blast. Cheers, y’all!
loveB

Cold Day Layers

We got our first snow of the year in D.C., today, and I could not be more excited! I was born during a blizzard, and that’s my best guess as to why I love the snow so much. It’s always been my favorite weather.

Anyway, I digress. I decided to hit the streets for a long(er) snowy run and realized that layering can be tough. So here are a few layering tips for you outdoor enthusiasts:

Up Top: They used to say you lost half your body heat through your head. That’s silly, and totally base-less. HOWEVER, any exposed part of your body is a place for heat to escape, so it doesn’t hurt to wear a hat. Plus cold ears are the WORST!

Face It: Wind burn blows (ha! I’m lame). I recently got into wearing a Buff, thanks to my friend Tricia. I use my Buff as a neck gaitor, but they can also be used as a headband, ponytail holder, scarf and much much more. I like to keep my nose warm!

That Core: Here’s where things get interesting. I tend to be cold, but HATE feeling suffocated or too warm on a run, so I have a rule of 3 (not counting a sports bra). For instance, in the 23/feels like 11 temps today, I opted for:

  1. A tight t-shirt that I could tuck into my tights to avoid any cold air getting through at my waist.
  2. A fleece-lined running sweatshirt. It’s thick and wooly inside but the zipper allows me to control the temp a bit.
  3. Finally, a vest. They keep your core and chest warm, while allowing your arms to be free. If your chest stays warm, your arms are not going to be cold.

Gloves vs. Mittens vs. Nada: I just can’t get down with mittens. But I know they’re warm and if you don’t mind them, I’d suggest mittens all day long. Recently, however, I’ve decided that gloves do not keep my hands warm. Instead, they separate all of my fingers, leaving them on tiny cold islands of despair. So today was the first truly cold day in which I tested my new theory, and it worked! I simply pull my sleeves around my hands and I’d venture to say my hands almost get too HOT!

Stems: I hate bunching, and I’m pretty neurotic about it. So I don’t wear multiple layers on my legs. I simply shop for the right tights for the season. I have a pair of fleece-lined tights that I wear when it’s below 20 degrees out. And I also have an INCREDIBLE pair of tights that feature a wind/waterproof layer that surrounds your quad, which is genius for those blistering days. But anything above 20 and I am usually good with regular tights. If I stop, my legs start to freeze, so it’s just motivation to keep my ass moving!

The Double-Sock Myth: No matter what anybody tells you, it is not, I repeat NOT smart to wear multiple layers of socks. Foot warmth is all based on circulation. Your heart has to pump blood down to your feet, and if you have multiple layers of socks, you’re constricting the flow. Instead, buy socks for all weather. I wear thicker and higher socks in the winter, tucking my tights into the bottom. Wool socks are definitely the warmest. But make sure your shoes aren’t too tight with thick socks on, otherwise you’re back to the circulation issue. If you feel your feet start to get cold, use the downhills to open up your stride and wiggle your toes with each step. PS The same rule applies for skiing. Don’t double up!

And now, you have no excuse not to #optoutside, and kick some cold-weather butt! Have any other tips for layering? I’d love to hear them, share in the comments below!

loveB

#HikeVA

Hey D.C.-area friends! Who has some free time this week + needs to burn off some Christmas cookies? Me! Me! Me! Here’s a quick guide to some of my favorite hikes around the District.

Not Much Time?:

  • Theodore Roosevelt Island – It’s not so much of a hike as it is a great trail run (or walk). It’s about a 1.3 mile loop and has a lot of shade for those hot summer months. The parking lot for the island is located off of George Washington Parkway, but you can run there via the Mount Vernon Trail or the Potomac Heritage Trail.
  • Turkey Run – Also located off of GW Parkway, this secret spot is never crowded and is just about a 5-minute drive from D.C.. There are multiple routes, including about a 4 mile loop that I love. Most of the trail runs parallel to the Potomac, so it’s a great place to bring your four-legged friend for a quick swim.

Don’t Mind Crowds?

  • Scott’s Run – This is probably my favorite hike in the immediate D.C. area, although it’s generally crowded on weekends. There are multiple trails, so you can make your hike anywhere from 3 miles to 6 or 7 miles. It has steep grades to work those glutes and also has a few picturesque views of the Potomac.
  • Seneca Falls – I don’t even know if this is the name of this hike. It’s located out in Great Falls just a few miles off of Rt. 7. It isn’t always crowded, but you sometimes get horse traffic out that way. The trail is wide, and includes wooded areas and more open fields, as well as long stretches along the river. If you do the loop, it’s just about 3 miles.
  • Difficult Run – This one is very short, and mostly flat. It’s about a mile out and a mile back. But it runs along Difficult Run, which is a pretty beautiful area with a few small falls. There are places to stop for a quick dip during those hot summer months. (Side note: Back in high school, we used to go rock jumping here. Apparently we had a death wish.)

Want to Get Outta Town?

  • White Oak Canyon – I’ve only been here once, but it was awesome. The trail is fairly steep, so it feels like a great workout. Toward the top is an incredible natural rock slide. WARNING: The water is FREEEEEEEZING.
  • Old Rag – Surely I am not the first to tell you about this one. I’m admittedly a bit of a hiking snob because I’ve been lucky enough to live most of my life in Colorado where hiking can sometimes mean mountain climbing. Old Rag is the most like a Colorado hike. It has a nearly 3,000 foot vertical climb and features a rock scramble at the top. The views are to die for and it’s well worth the 2-hour drive from D.C.. WARNING: No dogs allowed on Old Rag. The terrain is too tough.
  • Falling Springs Falls – This one is not a true hike, but has a lot of wooded trails for exploring AND two fun rope swings! Falling Springs Falls is home to the tallest waterfall in Virginia. There are campsites nearby as well! TIP: Stand under the waterfall for a VERY loud and incredible natural massage.

What are some of your favorite hikes?

loveB