Exercise Highlight: Squats.

Do you have a favorite exercise move? I have a favorite I like to incorporate in almost every strength training session.  It’s the Goblet Squat. As Tony Horton, the man of P90X, says in his intro of the Ab Ripper X video, “I hate it, but I love it.” It’s so true.

Goblet Squat

Squats and lunges are probably the main two reasons I never used to exercise. I hated these two moves, even in their simplest of modifications. I avoided squats at all costs. But when I decided to get health focused for life, I was all in, pushing myself to exercise in a way that would actually produce results. Nothing halfway. Early in my fitness journey, I started with a Total Body Transformation plan. I thought I’d stick with this plan for one month…and I’ve stayed with it now for almost a year! Even though I didn’t immediately love squats, I pushed through and I saw almost-immediate results.

Squats make me feel stronger. By incorporating dumbbells, they transform my entire body, not just my legs, but arms and core included. By including squats in my strength toning exercises, I’ve noticed muscle toning and quads, hamstrings, and “rear-end”. A personal trainer at the gym told me that squats, when done in correct form, use the most muscle groups out of all the other exercise moves out there.

I believe it. I can see and feel the benefits in my own body.

You all know I travel often. I’ve blogged about that several times before. The squat is something you don’t have to pack. I’ve found myself incorporating  squats in all forms while brushing my teeth, meal planning and cooking, while cleaning my place, watching T.V. and going about day-to-day activities.

So, enlighten me. What’s YOUR favorite exercise move?

REMINDER: Don’t forget that SlimKicker is giving one of my readers an awesome 7 Quart Stainless Steel Slow Cooker. To enter this GIVEAWAY, visit this post. Monday is the last day for entries!

7-Quart Oval Slow Cooker

Wishing you the best. katie

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Home & Happy.

I’m back home! Isn’t it funny how even though you grow up and move to your own little place in the world, perhaps in a different city or state, “home” is always where you grew up? I have been looking forward to being home for this special Mother’s Day weekend for several weeks now. As I mentioned on Wednesday, my parents are really amazing people. Though my parents will always be “Mom” and “Dad”, I’m realizing I’m at a point in my life where I begin to view both of them as great friends, too.

The drive wasn’t bad at all. It’s about 2.5 to 3 hours to get back to home. Since I was driving during my afternoon snack time, I enjoyed a delicious Apple Pie Larabar. These things are really delicious. I appreciate and support a company who uses whole, natural ingredients in their products. I can have a safe, delicious, nutritious and unprocessed snack that’s convenient to eat on the run. This is how Larabar describes this bar on their website: “Just like Grandma’s and under 200 calories, this Apple Pie provides 1 full serving of fruit and 5 grams of fiber. Not too sweet, and spiced with cinnamon and raisins, Apple Pie also has almonds, walnuts and natural chewy goodness.” So good.

Please note, my car was parked when I took this shot.

Before heading home yesterday afternoon, I managed to get a great workout in during my office lunch hour, focusing on my legs. My Sumo Squats improved by increasing my free weights from 12.5lbs to 15lbs. I’ve played with this weight a bit before by trying one set of sumo squats with 12.5lbs, the middle set with 15lbs, and then finishing with 12.5 again. But this time, I did 15lbs for each set. I’ll take and celebrate this little victory! I also finally increased my hammer curl to press weight from 10lbs. to 12.5lbs for each set. While it’s not much, it’s definitely improvement and I like to see my fitness goals improving!

When I arrived home, we decided to go out to dinner to a little Chinese buffet just outside of town. I was able to stay on the healthy side of things with a plate full of shrimp (which needed peeling, so it slowed my eating down), salad without dressing, sushi – though it was spicy and I didn’t eat much of it, and honeydew melon. I also had a small serving a vanilla soft serve ice cream. After dinner, Dad dropped Mom and I off at the grocery to shop for my healthy grocery list. We bought the ingredients to make Salsa Lime Tofu and we’ll be making that tonight for dinner. I’ll be curious to know if my Dad will enjoy it…at least he’s willing to give it a try!

Because I’m not sure when I’d be able to exercise today, I got up around 5:30AM to go on a walk around town. Mom joined me and it felt great starting my day off by making fitness a priority. The best part of the walk, of course, was the company. Walking with Mom allowed the time to pass quickly and made the walk more enjoyable. Want to see a funny thing about this morning’s walk? I didn’t pack clothes suitable for the chilly morning, so I had to borrow some sweats that didn’t quite fit…

Anyway, I’m taking my Mom out later this morning to a coffee spot just outside of town that will be new for both of us to try. I thought we’d celebrate Mother’s Day one day early. We have the best time sharing about life over a cup of coffee and a scone. Many good tears have been part of our coffee dates. I’m looking forward to trying a new place, but most of all, I’m looking forward to spending this treasured time with Mom. I’ll report back with a review on the coffee shop later.

But first, I’m about to head to the kitchen and whip up a healthy omelet for Dad and me to enjoy for breakfast.

I hope you have a great Saturday ahead of you! Wishing you the best. katie

QUESTIONS OF THE DAY:
What’s one of your favorite on-the-road snacks?
How are you celebrating Mother’s Day weekend? 

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Healthy Habits While Away from Home.

My breakfast this morning consisted of my typical 3 Egg White Omelet and caramel nut truffle coffee. I wasn’t kidding when I said I eat an omelet almost every single day. Some people wonder why I bother getting up and cooking rather than sleeping in. I find that cooking wakes me up and gets me going. Plus, it ensures that I begin the day with a healthy choice.

Within the past year I’ve turned into a planner. I’m really into routines and systems. I like to know what to expect or what’s coming up…though I do love to leave a little room in for spontaneity. I guess I just like to have an idea of what’s coming up next in my day, though I’m never bothered when plans do change at the last-minute. I just like to prepare. I think it’s because being on a routine helps keep me in control of a healthy balanced lifestyle.

This newer “plan ahead” version of me began when I started traveling more . Having a routine lifestyle when I return from trips keeps my life balanced. I’m extremely focused when I’m home because that’s an environment I can control. When I’m on the road, I’m open to trying new things and being spontaneous. When traveling, new experiences dd variety to my diet as I’m pretty low-key at home when it comes to eating. I stick to the same types of meals. Also, being on the road lets me be creative on my workouts rather than sticking with my normal circuits at my gym.

As I prepare to travel the first thing on my “pack” list is always workout clothes and tennis shoes. I love exploring new places. I generally do a lot of power walking on trips, taking in sights and sounds around me. When I’m home, I’m not much into walking because I see the same things every single day. It’s hard to find the beauty in the environment in which you’re always in, though I certainly try. That’s why the change of scenery on my out-of-town walks really gets me focused on life, where I can pause and embrace the moments of here and now.

Beach Chairs

Destin at Dawn

I was recently in Destin, Florida for vacation. I’d never been and boy, was I in for a real treat. I don’t live near a beach, so every morning of vacation I got up earlier than anyone in the house and walked the beach. (Wow, the sand is kills your calves! Honestly, I got in great leg workouts those mornings, simply by walking barefoot on the beach.) One morning as I walked the beach, I realized I was too focused on moving forward and not focused on taking in the beauty around me. So a paused and looked toward the ocean. And the moment I paused, I saw a dolphin in the not too far distance jumping in the water. This may be a familiar sight to you, but for me this was such a gift. And it made me realize  how we need to embrace the moments around us.

Dolphin Sighting

Where I paused and saw the dolphin. I was more excited than a kid in a candy store.

Ralph Waldo Emerson says, “Never miss an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting.” Perhaps that’s why I’m a huge fan of walks when I travel.

Walking is not the only thing I do when traveling or on vacation. Depending on my destination,  I will sometimes bring an extra set of dumbbells in the car to do some strength toning or I’ll bring exercise DVDs like Insanity or P90X.

As for eating while away…I do allow myself to try new things and, let’s be honest, it’s hard to be in complete control of your food intake when someone else is buying the groceries. I always want to promote a healthy lifestyle so I’ll make sure my portions are in check, I’ll watch out for heavy carb intake like skipping rolls at restaurants. I also play a game with myself to try to order the healthiest option on a menu. Or, if I’m at someone’s house, I discretely choose options that are closest to whole or natural foods as possible like loading up on salads or steamed veggies, skipping dressings that I don’t know what’s in them. Again, I do this very discreetly as not to offend the host.

Some tips for healthy habits away from home:

  • When you are at home, stick to routines, especially if you travel often. This way, you’ll be in control when you’re home. Look for healthy varieties pertaining to workouts or eating when you’re on the road.
  • Always pack workout clothes first. This way, you’re making fitness a priority.
  • If you’re driving long distances, pack healthy snacks before hand. DON’T fall for the convenience store options. The chocolate gooey sweet stuff will get you every time.
  • If you’re traveling to see friends and family, make sure they know your healthy lifestyle is a priority. They will try to help you with your options if they know food choices are important. There is a gentle way to approach this. For me, people observe that I choose a healthier options and I’ve never had to request special “diet” foods. Usually greek yogurt is available for breakfast or veggie options are sides for lunch and dinner. for me They know that’s what I gravitate toward.
  • Continue logging your food intake. I use the mobile app Lose It! to record everything. I sometimes take a photo of the food I eat so I can remember what was on my plate and then log it when I have some down town.

These are few things I find that I do when I’m traveling. Walk, play the “what’s my healthiest option game” and take in beautiful moments.

Wishing you all the best. katie

QUESTION OF THE DAY:

What do you do to maintain healthy lifestyles while traveling or on vacation? I’d LOVE to hear your tips and tricks.