Weekend Challenge: Try Something New

Friday, March 30, 2012

I hope you really embrace this weekend's challenge. All I ask is that you try something new every day. New exercise class, new restaurant, new running route, new yoga pose, new food...you get the idea. The world is your oyster, as Shakespeare said (read: All the pleasures and opportunities of life are open to you!) so take full advantage.

Feel free to comment below on what you tried and/or send in a pic. Enjoy!

Veggie Lasagna

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

This lasagna recipe is adapted from the "The Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook" Spinach Lasagna. This is also where my recipe for banana bread is from.

I love veg so we throw a little more in. Feel free to alter the recipe with veg you enjoy. I don't know the nutritional value, but it will count for at least 1 of you 5 servings of fruit and veg.

9 uncooked lasagna noodles
1 cup chopped onion (1 large onion)
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms (we omit this because James doesn't like mushrooms. Boo.)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons margarine or butter
1 bell pepper (any color)
Head of broccoli
1 cup chopped carrots
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry or bag of fresh spinach sauteed
1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese (note you can add in 1/2 brick of firm tofu as the consistency will match the ricotta and add protein)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 (30 1/2-ounce) jar spaghetti sauce (meatless, if desired) (We end up using 1 1/2 jars)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 9x13" pan with butter or oil to prevent food sticking.

2. Cook lasagna noodles 10-12 minutes, or until tender but still slightly firm. Drain noodles; rinse with cold water (or drizzle olive oil to prevent sticking after draining). Drain well.

3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook onion, mushrooms and garlic in hot
margarine until tender but not browned. Set aside.

4. Steam broccoli, peppers, carrots until they reach desired texture. Some people like a crunch, some don't.

5. Pat spinach dry with paper towels (lots of paper towels as the water will make the lasagna watery).

6. In a medium bowl, stir together spinach, ricotta, tofu, mozzarella, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, the eggs, basil, oregano and pepper. Stir rest of the veg (onions and steamed veg) into spinach mixture.

7. Spread 1/2 cup of the spaghetti sauce evenly in a 3-quart rectangular baking dish. Arrange 3 lasagna noodles on top of the sauce.

8. Layer with half the veg/spinach mixture and 1 cup of the spaghetti sauce. Repeat layers, ending with noodles. Spoon remaining sauce over the top.

9. Sprinkle with the 1/4 cup Parmesan.

10. Bake, covered, for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake about 10 minutes more, or until heated through.

11. Let stand 10 minutes before serving to let the lasagna set so it will hold its shape better when cut. Makes 8 servings.

12. Great to re-heat or freeze.

Photos To Illustrate
Veggies to steam:

Sauteed fresh spinach (rip off stems and remember is really reduces to nothing. Buy an extra bag just in case)

Veggies and cheese

Bottom layer of sauce and noodles

Veg and cheese middle layer

Just out of the oven and served up for din-din

Look at all that delicious-ness!

Guest Post: The First 100 Pounds

Monday, March 26, 2012

I don’t have an exact date of the diagnosis. It was somewhere between 2005 and 2006. It came about because I had to change primary doctors. My old doctor was going back to school to specialize in cardiology. He had been content to “keep an eye” on my high blood pressure. He never said anything about my weight, which was over 400 pounds. When I switched to my new doctor, I had no idea of the awakening I was about to go through. Dr. M. took one look at me and sent me for tests.

The tests came back with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and Type II diabetes. I dove into problem-solving mode. I had a daughter. I had just had my first back surgery . I had a knee scoped. I have arthritis in my back due to a combination of genetics, abusing my body with football (American) and weight. The knee problem was mostly weight. I was a mess. I went on offense.

The first thing you learn about with Diabetes is the amount of sugar in EVERYTHING. It is insane. Diabetes health care people want you to regulate your carbohydrate intake. Carbs equal sugar. This forces you to adjust your diet. It forces you to try to control your blood sugar throughout the course of a day. And, just for fun, everybody is different. Their bodies react in different ways to high and low blood sugar. I, for example, can never eat another jelly bean again. Other people can strap on a bag of Jelly Belly’s and go crazy.

I now take an assortment of pills every day. One for cholesterol, one for blood pressure, two (combined) for diabetes. The diabetes “medicine” causes you to retain weight if not outright gain it.

The health care people don’t take a holistic approach. They don’t even talk about calories really. They don’t talk about the Glycemic Index. I was looking for a more holistic approach. I started reading. I found Dr. Andrew Weil. I’ve read a lot of his books. I don’t know which one I read first:

Eating Well for Optimum Health
Eating Well For Optimum Health: The Essential Guide to Bringing Health and Pleasure Back to Eating
Eating Well For Optimum Health: The Essential Guide to Food, Diet and Nutrition


8 Weeks to Optimum Health
Eight Weeks to Optimum Health, Revised Edition: A Proven Program for Taking Full Advantage of Your Body's Natural Healing Power

Both do a really good job of explaining Weil’s holistic approach to wellness. He takes an “anti-inflammatory” approach to diet. Bad food causes inflammation in your various body parts. Inflammation leads to sickness. I am WAY oversimplifying his approach. Eating Well is a must read. It will BLOW YOUR MIND. He takes a clinical/scientific approach to the fuel your body needs: protein, fats, carbs, etc.

In 8 Weeks, he lays out a plan for you. Diet, Exercise, Mind. I love it. I cycle through it still. The changes he gradually introduces are now a standard part of my approach to living. I still can’t kick diet soda. But I am trying.

I dropped 100 pounds in about 2 years after switching to Dr M. I had gone through a series of rough career patches, ok, maybe one long rough patch. I started exercising a lot. Through the encouragement of Dr. Weil, I found yoga. For exercise, he recommends walking every day and some strength training and some stretching. I was unemployed so I started a twice a week yoga practice. If you are out of work and are not already exercising, start walking. Thirty minutes a day. Go to the library, get a yoga DVD. Or - use the internets. (I actually wrote a blog post about all the things I learned while being unemployed: http://mikelally.net/blog/things-i-learned-during-my-year-long-unemployment/.

I LOVED it. Me and a crop of retirees. I approached it like I approached lifting for high school football. All business. I also needed to strengthen my core. I knew I had on-going issues in my back. Yoga worked me. I have seen it bring gym rats literally to their knees. It will kick your butt. I started a job at a startup and spent way too much time working and not enough time doing any kind of exercise.

I put on weight - 30 pounds. My back started giving me a lot of trouble again. I went through a series of spinal injections. Not fun. I went to a neuro-surgeon. I wanted a different opinion. He showed me the vertebrae crumbling in my lower back. He showed me the arthritis climbing its way up my spine. In September, I had 6 titantium screws put in my lower back along with 2 spacers where discs had once been. This is a spinal fusion. Three vertebrae fused together. I am still recovering (March 2012) and will be for another six months. My recovery has been pretty simple: walk 30 minutes (a little over a mile for me) and get in the pool once or twice a week. I walk in the pool. I still can’t generate enough power in my legs to even use a kickboard effectively, but I will get there.

In the hospital, my heart rate was JACKED. They worried that I was having a heart attack or going to at any time. My primary doctor - Dr. M. - got involved. Love that guy. Seriously. Find a doctor that you love. And make sure that it is love based on the fact that he or she will tell you the real deal and not cut you any slack.

I had gained another 20 pounds in the hospital and the first couple of weeks of being home. (Pain meds make you constipated. Let’s just leave it at that.) At this point I am up 50-60 pounds from my low.

Unacceptable. Time to get to work.
I went back to Dr. Weil as soon as I had recovered. I got an infection after the surgery which set me back with exercise and eating?. With diabetes you don’t heal as quickly as a normal person. And you can easily get infections. Even with taking precautions, I got an infection. It destroyed me. I could not move around because I had zero energy. I couldn’t keep food down/in. I was doing everything I could to fuel my body. When I got stable, I broke out the 8 Week Plan and got to work.

I started walking. S.l.o.w.l.y. Crawling really. But one foot in front of the other. I changed my diet. Weil is all about not eating processed food. Cut out the junk. And there is a LOT of junky food out there. I started counting calories. I got some meals together that I really like. I know the calorie counts of those meals. I eat 5 to 6 times a day. It regulates my blood sugar. Small meals. Portion size is critical. You have to put all these things together: calories, portion size, quality of food you are eating, when you eat, exercise.

I just got weighed yesterday at the surgeon during a follow up visit. I am at 303. That is the lightest I have been in 15-20 years. My goal is 290 by June. I go back to my primary doctor then. When I get under 300 I can stop taking the meds. Well, I can start to wean off them. You can’t go cold turkey. I am stoked.

It has been a long journey. And it will be a continuing journey. My ultimate goal is somewhere around 225. I am a big guy - 6’ 2”. Broad shoulders. Giant head. You look at certain literature and it will point me to 170 - 180 as being my “ideal” weight. It is about overall wellness for me. Not just weight. Plus I think I would look like a freak that skinny. Or, as Mollie says, a bobble-head. :)

Mike lives in Western, NY where he drives by a farm every day. He married Karen at the Flamingo in Las Vegas (yes, Elvis was there) in 1998. In 2001, they had Erin, who decided she was going to be 72 days (11 weeks) early. He works as a project manager with a software development team in a telecommunications firm. You can find out more at www.mikelally.net, LinkedIn, google+ and Twitter.

Recent Events with Boutique Sport

Sunday, March 25, 2012

I recently had the privilege of collaborating with Boutique Sport. They have arranged a few events and I was lucky enough to take part in them.

First was 'Sport with Style Session.' I was on-hand to answer questions about running and other fitness activites. For an entire recap of the night, click here. Photos from the evening are posted on Facebook.

Ruth Field, aka The Grit Doctor, and I. Don't we look fabulous?

The next day, I lead a web chat answering more training questions. Here is a round up of what we discussed. Thanks to everyone who 'tuned' in!

My next event is Tuesday evening when I will be leading a beginners run club. These are the details if you live/work in London and care to join us. If you'd like to read my post about tips for beginner runners, please click here.

I am looking forward to working with Natalie and the rest of the girls at Boutique Sport in the next few months. Please check the 'Upcoming Events' tab for the latest news.

Quickie Workout #4

You can use a kitchen timer to keep track of your intervals. If you are unclear what the exercise is I am describing, please look for a video or arrange for an in-person tutorial.

Please consult your doctor before engaging on any fitness regime.

Remember to go for QUALITY over quantity. Breath on the excursion (ie, exhale when pushing yourself up on the push up, inhale as you return to the ground).

This week's workout I am borrowing from Thames CrossFit (TCF). Last summer they lead a few outdoor sessions and this was one of them.

Be sure to warm up by walking or running. Once you break into a light sweat you are ready to begin.

Min 1: 3 burpees, 5 push/press ups, 7 lunges (stationary or walking) for beginners, 8 burpees, 10 push/press ups, 12 lunges for advanced fitness levels. Finish within 60 seconds. Rest for any remainder of the 60 seconds.

Min 2: Repeat minute 1.

Min 3: Repeat minute 1.

Min 4: Repeat minute 1.

Min 5: Suicides/Shuttle runs from starting point to 10 meters, back to starting point. Then starting point to 30 meters, back to starting point. Finally, starting point to 30 meters, back to starting point. This needs to be completed within one minute.

TCF had us repeat the above 5 minute program 4x through for a wicked 20 minute workout. Remember to listen to your body, as this one is a little more advanced. I encourage you to give it a go though. You will never know you can do it unless you try!

Weekend Challenge: Two Minutes To Spare

Friday, March 23, 2012

This weekend I am asking you to do one minute of push-ups/press-ups and one minutes of crunches/sit ups on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Everyone has two minutes to spare.

If you feel this is too easy, keep track of your repetitions each time and continue the challenge until next Friday. Try to beat your previous day's record!

Your push-ups can be 'regular' or on your knees. Keep your hands under your shoulder and inhale as you drop down, exhale as you push up. Keep the back straight and tummy tight (think of a string pulling from your belly button to your spine).

Crunches can be done any way you prefer. Look up and behind you to reduce pulling on your neck. Keep elbows wide. Don't forget to breathe!


Product Review: Green People's Self Tanning Lotion

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spring is starting to blossom as the weather turns a bit warmer and the sun is shining overhead (where are my sunglasses?). We are dusting off shorts and tank tops (aka vests) and dreaming of our soon-to-be-booked summer beach holiday. But as you put on your favorite sun dress, you are blinded by glaring white skin! Your tan from last summer has completely vanished. You look as pale as a vampire who hasn't fed in years. What are you to do?

Before you go off to the tanning salon, take note that artificial and natural sun rays can give you cancer and wrinkles- two things that don't go with any outfit. The British modeling world even banned fake tans at the year's London Fashion Week to show solidarity in the fight against fake tanning.

You might be wondering, 'what are my options?' Self tanning lotion has been on store shelves for years. It has come a long way from the orange-streaky/clothes-staining mess of the past into something that every person should have on hand.

Green People (GP) were nice enough to call when the spring line launched, asking if I would review their Self Tan Lotion. Of course I said yes! As mentioned in my previous review , my sensitive skin limits what lotions I can use. I also have a history of skin cancer in my family and used to be on medicine for my acne that made my skin more sensitive to the sun (yes, I have horrible genetics. Thanks Mom and Dad!). According to my doctor, I am not supposed to lie out and tan. My friends know they can count on me to have a giant tub of hypoallergenic sunscreen with me at all times. And often I still burn under an SPF of 30. I have been looking for an affordable self tanner for a long time but usually they contain evil ingredients that cause my skin to boil. Self tanning seems the best way to go for me rather than lying out in the sun.

The GP Self Tan Lotion recommends exfoliating the skin before use, preferably with their Sensuous Sugar Scrub. I didn't have a loofah or their scrub and believe this affected my results. I did try exfoliating in the shower with a white washcloth three times but the dye came off a tiny bit onto the cloth. I only applied the lotion on my left arm so I had a baseline (my right arm) to compare to.

First impressions- the pump gives you a large amount of lotion to use (well large if you only plan on using on your left forearm, which is why the experiment ended up being my entire arm). The lotion is the consistency of regular lotion and not too greasy. The smell is noticeable after application and reminds me of camping (I think this was due to citronella being an ingredient). My husband said it smelled "clean and eucalyptus-y" after I applied it. The smell only lasts an hour or so and no one else ever commented on it. I washed my hands immediately after applying and my right palm never looked orange or dark. The color change was subtle during the course of treatment. I slabbed on the lotion 8 times in a week and a half to obtain this result:

My left arm showed a little bit of darkening but never looked orange, streaky, or strange. A few people noticed the difference in my arms but only if I was wearing a sleeveless top and was out in the sun. I would imagine if I had exfoliated as directed on the bottle, my skin would have absorbed the color more readily. Four days after my last application, my left arm is still a little darker than my right arm. The color has never come off on any of my clothes, except the washcloth in the shower. Even then it was slight.

I really like that I can use this organic self tanning lotion (no nasty chemicals or parabens!) and not have to worry about being allergic. It is reasonably priced (£17.95 for 200ml) and even comes in a smaller size which is perfect for travel. It does NOT contain any sun protection factor (SPF) and CANNOT be used in lieu of suntan lotion. However, it will help you blend in at your first time on Brighton Beach this summer rather than being the beacon directing the boats to shore.

Green People did not pay me for this review. They graciously sent me the product and all opinions are honest and my own (and my husband's). If you have a product you would like me to review, please contact me

Eating Healthy Tips and Pizza From Scratch

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Jared Tubbs is currently enrolled in the Culinary Arts Management program at Art Institue of California- LA, Santa Monica. Here he shares with us some tips he learned in his nutrition course and a delicious recipe for homemade pizza.

1. REPLACE butter with olive oil. Olive oil is like magic. If you use it on anything you would normally use butter, you will increase your HDL's (healthy cholestrol) and lower your LDL (lousy cholesterol). Seriously... like magic.

2. If you eat a VARIETY of foods daily, your health will benefit a great deal. We've learned that VARIETY is the key to a healthy lifestyle. Switch up the colors of veggies, and proteins, and you will be on the right track.

3. When you're making your own things from scratch, you know what's going into your body. For example if you used whole wheat flour, the below recipe would be healthier.

4. Anything refined is bad. It just strips away all the goodness from the grain. Always buy things unrefined.

5. One thing my nutritional science teacher said she made for her nieces & nephews was chicken nuggets, but breaded with a whole grain cereal that was ground up in a food processor. Be creative in the kitchen!

Top one has Pesto, Artichoke Hearts, Cherry Tomatoes mixed with basil- garlic & olive oil, and pine nuts.

Bottom is my take on a BBQ Chicken pizza. Red sauce, chicken marinated in BBQ sauce from scratch, caramelized red onion.

Pizza From Scratch

The Pesto Veggie- I made pesto using a lb of basil (leaves only); 1 cup of both pine nuts and parm; 3-4 cloves of garlic; 3 cups of oil. If you make your own basil oil, that would be preferred. Put everything minus the oil in the food processor and turn it on... then drizzle the oil in while the food is spinning.

I then made a cherry tomato salad- two pints of cherry tomatoes, washed and halved; 6-8 basil leaves, cut into a small ribbon (chiffanade), minced ~3 cloves of garlic (to taste), drizzled a bit of olive oil over the top (a light amount), and then mixed together with my hands.

The artichoke hearts came out of a can, but we spruced them up a bit with a vinegraitte and marinated them in that for a bit. Finally, spread the pesto on the dough, added the tomatoes and artichoke hearts and topped with a very light amount of cheese.

The BBQ chicken- We made homemade red sauce and BBQ sauce. First, we sauteed the chicken in olive oil, then placed the chicken in the simmering BBQ sauce. Next we carmelized some red onions. To finish, we spread the red sauce down, put some cheese on it, then added the chicken and the onions. Then after it's out of the oven... top with some freshly chopped cilantro (we forgot to do that part for the photo).

The dough is a basic dough...

1 TBS active dry yeast
60 ml water (90-100 degrees)
420 g bread flour (remember to be whole grain if you can)
180 ml water, chilled
6 g salt
30 ml olive oil
20 g honey

Procedure to make dough:

1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water.
2. In a mixer (or by hand, but that gets messy!) and the flour... add the yeast mixture.
3. Add the remaining ingredients in order on the recipe.
4. You want the dough to get to pass the "windowpane" test.... mix together in the mixer until you can take a piece of the dough, hold it up to the sunlight and when you stretch it- it becomes almost translucent, like you can see through it. Basically until it can stretch without tearing. You can also see the gluten form... looks like spider webs inside the dough. This takes about five - eight minutes, depending on the mixer's strength.
5. Once it reaches this stage, take it out of the bowl and form a ball by hand.
6. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover and let it proof. Humid hot spaces work... or on top of your gas stove.
7. Let it double in size.
8. Once doubled, "punch" the dough down.
9. Seperate into desired size (we made two 6" pizzas with this, so cut the ball into two).
10. Form into ball again, and then place in fridge until you are ready to make the pizzas. The longer it waits in the fridge, the more flavor will develop. I think you can have it in there for up to 3 days. We waited about half hour to one hour.
11. Shape the dough into the desired shape on a floured service. We chose a circle.
12. Top it off with your toppings.
13. Bake at 400 degrees F, and we didn't time it. We went by look. When the crust is golden brown, it is ready. Probably took 8 minutes.

Send me your homemade pizza photos and I will post them here.

#RFBR Giveaway Winner!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Thank you to all those who entered the "Run Fat B!tch Run" by Ruth Fields giveaway. And the winner is.....

Kim P. in Toledo, Ohio USA

I hope you enjoy the book and find it motivating!

Winner was chosen using random.org

Guest Post: Bowen Technique

When I broke my ankle few years ago, it took very long time for the bones to heal and longer still for my foot to regain its shape and flexibility. Sometimes, I wonder how different my rehabilitation would have been had I known of the Bowen Technique at that point in my life.

Many active sportsmen find the Bowen Technique to be an effective aid in accelerating their physical recovery after a contest or after serious injury. Celebrities such as Bear Grylls swear by it! (See Daily Mail article) Bowen is also becoming very popular with football and rugby teams.

As a practising Bowen Therapist, I have met clients with both acute and chronic problems. In the case of a new injury, the therapy tends to have an immediate effect and usually only 1 or 2 treatments are required. For long term complaints it can take a little longer, as often the place where a problem manifests itself (i.e. in the form of pain or restriction) is not necessarily where the root cause of the problem lies. So, sometimes many layers have to be peeled off in order to free a person from their aches and pains for good, rather than a temporary easing of their surface symptoms.

I have treated people with sciatica, pulled muscles, swollen joints, haematomas, cervical spondylitis, injured hamstrings, frozen shoulder, twisted ankle, injured back and many other unpleasant complaints. It never ceases to amaze me how, within few weeks of treatment, their condition often improves significantly. And better still, once treated successfully, the problems tend not to return.

This soft tissue, non-manipulative body therapy addresses the body as a whole, looking into inter-relationships between various body parts. During Bowen treatment, a series of light, rolling moves are performed over specific muscle groups, tendons and ligaments.This creates a vibration which travels via nerve fibres to the brain and triggers the body's own healing and realigning mechanisms. There are regular waits - not unlike the wait for a computer programme to open after a button has been pressed - in between each set of moves to help the body integrate the work. This is also the reason why in Bowen therapy, ‘less is more’.

Due to its gentle nature, Bowen is suitable for all ages, from babies to the elderly. It has proven effective in treating various chronic and acute problems, especially of a musculoskeletal nature. Other conditions which responded favourably to the Bowen Technique include:

• head and neck aches
• back pain
• impaired mobility
• ear and jaw conditions
• digestive and respiratory disorders
• gynaecological and fertility problems
• bedwetting and other children’s conditions
• stress, anxiety, depression
• sleep problems

…and many others. This innovative bodywork often brings substantial relief after only one session. Many clients claim that Bowen Technique is the most relaxing therapy they have ever experienced.

Marty Fabianova(BTAA) practices Bowen Technique in her home borough, Stoke Newington, London. She shares a therapy room with another therapist in their private practice in the heart of N16. From March 2012, she will be joining the team of therapists in Shine Holistic on Church Street, Stoke Newington. She is also a qualified Reiki Therapist.
For more information and testimonials visit Marty’s website or Shine Holistic.

My Personal Experience with Marty and Bowen
Growing up, I had patellar maltracking (PM) which required me to wear 2 knee braces. It was a result of my hips widening through puberty and leaving my quadriceps muscles too weak to hold my knee caps in place. Since then, I have always had ‘bad’ knees. In 2009, I further hurt my left knee somehow playing soccer which required physical therapy for a few months (luckily I didn’t tear my ACL). My knees still grind to this day, which is common for people who experienced PM. When Marty and I met in person, I had had a bad left knee pain earlier that week during a fitness class I was taking. Needless to say, I was eager to find some relief as knees are really important for general mobility.

Marty and I met in her home where she was very welcoming and professional. We exchanged medical histories (as I would later be training her in the park) and decided to start with my Bowen treatment first. She took a look at my posture and how I walked. She explained how Bowen Technique is different than massage and there would be several ‘rest’ periods where she would leave the room to allow my body to respond to her touch. Once I was comfortable on the table, she spent a minute or so symmetrically treating my left and ride sides and then left the room for 2-3 minutes. As this was our first session, she did an overall treatment involving my back and legs. She focused on my knees towards the end and I felt the energy pulsing in my left knee when she left the room. Since our meeting, I haven’t had any problems with my knees (touch wood). Unfortunately due to our busy schedules, we have yet to reconnect for another Bowen session.

I describe Bowen Technique as acupuncture with fingertips rather than needles (I have never had acupuncture so this is a guess). Even just one session worked for my knees and I have recommended it to friends with chronic back problems. If you have an old injury that continues to bother you and you feel like you have tried everything, give it one last go with the Bowen Technique.

Quickie Workout #3

Sunday, March 18, 2012

You can use a kitchen timer to keep track of your intervals. Perform once through and keep going if you can. If you are unclear what the exercise is I am describing, please look for a video or arrange for an in-person tutorial.

Please consult your doctor before engaging on any fitness regime.

Remember to go for QUALITY over quantity. Breath on the excursion (ie, exhale when pushing yourself up on the push up, inhale as you return to the ground).

This workout can be done inside or outside.

1 min- Walk

30 sec- Jog with high knees

1 min- Squat with leg lift As you come up alternating left and right knees.

1 min- Jumping jacks/star jumps

1 min- Feet shoulder width apart, arms out to side in a letter T, touch opposite hand to opposite toe then come up straight and repeat on other side (work those obliques).

1 min- Reverse lunge Stand with feet together, bring one foot back and drop that knee almost to the ground. Keep front knee over the ankle and bring back foot to starting point. Repeat on other side.

1 min- Pilates 100 Remember to inhale for 5 counts and exhale for 5 counts. Don't pull with your neck and keep legs in table top position and shoulders off the ground. If your neck hurts, stop.

30 sec- Side plank Right side, keep top leg's foot in front of the bottom foot.

30 sec- Side plank Left side, keep top leg's foot in front of the bottom foot.

1 min- Russian twist You can hold a weight or ball if you want to add resistance.

1 min- Crab dip To work your triceps start with hips high and tummy tight. Bend elbows to lower hips.

1 min- Frog crunch Have legs in butterfly stretch position but lie on back. Keep heels up but keep toes on ground for extra challenge. Keep tummy tight and don't pull with neck.

10 minutes and you are done! Add a cool down by walking for 1 minute. Stretch a bit too as your muscles and joints will be warm. Make 2012 the year of flexibility.

Weekend Challenge: Become a Sportmaker

Friday, March 16, 2012

Signing up new recruits

Yesterday I have the privelage of recruiting new volunteers to a new Sports England program called Sportmakers. One of the reasons the Olympics are in London is because of a pledge to register 40,000 England residents who will volunteer 10 hours of their time and help people become involved in sport. Anything from encouraging the family to go for a walk after dinner, to organizing a game of pick-up football in the park, to giving a friend swim lessons, to bringing a friend along to Zumba, to leading a 5K team to organizing a 3-on-3 basketball tournament counts towards your 10 hours. The planning time can be registered too. Sportmakers have until a year after the Olympic to complete their hours. If you are already volunteering your time to lead a running club or play in a city soccer league you are already a Sportmaker! Make it official and add something to your CV at the same time.

Those who complete their 10 hours by May 1 are entered to win free Olympics and Paraolympics tickets. Score! To register with Sportmakers click here.


Even if you don't live in England, you can take part in this challenge. Sometimes friends and family need some encourgament to get active. Bring a friend to the gym with you next time. Call you neighbor and take the kids on a bike ride this weekend. Register for a 5K event with your partner. Being healthy and active is possible when you make the commitment. Sometimes getting started is the hardest part.

How have you helped others become involved in sport? Have you lead a bowling team? Did you invite your friends over for backyard baseball? Did you take your dad golfing last week? Comment below and let me know!

Healthy Mac-N-Cheese

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I grew up on Kraft Mac-n-Cheese in the blue box. I would only eat the elbow shapes and my brother would only have the spirals. It is now my comfort food when I am hungover. It is also the reason I gained so much weight in 2001 as I ate it 2 times a week for lunch (Yes the entire box in one go. I had branched out to shapes by that point too).

A friend clued me in to this recipe for healthy mac-n-cheese. Although not as emotionally satisfying as Kraft, it was still delish and filling.

It can be a little expensive and use lots of pans so here are some tips I found in the reviews that would help. I put my modifications in ( ). Basically it is a versatile recipe, but remember if you use different cheeses than those listed, the calorie count will go up.

• Cook only 12 oz. pasta & drain. Use same pot to simmer pre-cut and peeled squash (found it in Walmart's produce dept.) in stock, garlic, bay leaf and 1 2/3 cups milk with cover on the pot, and let cool. Remove bay leaf and blend. Then use same pot to mix up with a 2 cup bag of store-brand Italian cheese. Mix in dried Italian seasoning and lemon-pepper, dash of ground red pepper, then turn into baking pan and top with panko and store-brand Parmesan. Then MOST IMPORTANT--cover and bake. It was not dry at all because I increased milk and decreased pasta, simmered squash with cover on, and baked with cover on. Delicious!

• Use frozen pre-cut squash (I did this)

• I was skeptical but thought the reduction in calories was definitely a worthwhile reason to at least give this a shot. The only real modification I made was using Swiss instead of Gruyere simply because I have found that in recipes like this, Swiss works just fine as a cheaper alternative to Gruyere. Additionally, I did add slightly more milk than it called for, but no more than maybe 1/2 cup. As far as personal touches, I did add some peas and crab meat to the dish to make it more of a main course rather than a side dish. The flavor of the sauce was truly outstanding and while it isn't overwhelmingly cheesy, I love the nuttiness of the squash and Swiss cheese. Super good and it sure doesn't taste like it is missing any of those calories. We will most certainly be making the dish again. Oh and I did omit the parsley because I just don't care for it on anything.

• Buy shredded cheese (we did this and it saved so much time!)

• This is a great recipe, but I agree with some of the other reviews - it is expensive to buy all the cheeses and it does get very dry. However, I've learned that many Cooking Light pasta recipes dry out while baking, so I've learned to add more milk and Greek yogurt to counteract that. Also, the time to prepare is always longer than the recipe says, in this case, due to the butternut squash which is really hard to peel and cut.

• Such a delicious, light alternative to traditional, southern-style homemade mac n cheese. It was a bit labor intensive but not bad considering we got two meals out of it (two adults and three children). The taste is subtle and mature, like grown up kid food. You would never guess there was so much squash in there! We used whole wheat penne instead of cavatappi, and a fresh 3 cheese blend (Parmesan, Romano, Asiago) in lieu of the Parmigiano-Reggiano. I also shortened the baking time to 15 minutes and found it quite adequate (watch for the bubbling, just as the recipe said, and you won't over bake it). Make sure you brown the panko well for an extra little taste infusion. My kids scarfed this up, and we'll be adding it to our rotation. No, it doesn't taste like the boxed stuff--it's better!

• Super easy-if you boil the pasta first (you only need to cook it about half the time the package says since they will keep cooking in the oven), then cook the squash in the same pot and use an immersion blender, you've got hardly any dishes. Substituted a minced shallot for the garlic, and used a mix of Romano and fontina cheese and a little less pasta than it called for to keep it saucier. I also nixed the topping and mixed in some steamed broccoli at the end. Yum!

• I had some leftover squash from a different recipe and decided it was a good excuse to try this recipe. I had a bit of a head start on it, since my squash was already, well, squashed. I still added the milk, broth, etc. I did cook the noodles ahead of time as directed. I did cut corners money wise by choosing other cheeses. I chose Swiss, asiago, and mozzarella. I cooked everything in my dutch oven and then used my immersion blender to create the sauce consistency. Because people were indicating the final product was dry, I decided to add the cooked noodles to my dutch oven and add the cooked panko on top. It's been my experience in the past that if mac and cheese is baked in a dish that is too shallow it can dry out quicker. Not sure if there is any real science to it, however I baked it in the oven as directed and it came out gooey. So, the method seems to have been successful.

And finally the recipe! I took a photo on my phone of the finished product but the quality wasn't very good. The next time we prepare this, I will bring out the SLR.

3 cups cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 [1-pound] squash) (I used a bag of pre-cut frozen which I cooked in microwave)
1 1/4 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth (I used vegetable broth from cube)
1 1/2 cups fat-free milk
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fat-free Greek yogurt
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) shredded Gruyère cheese
1 cup (4 ounces) grated pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 cup (1 ounce) finely grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
1 pound uncooked cavatappi (We used penne and a little less than 1 pound. If you cook ahead, rinse with cold water or add a little it of oil to prevent the pasta from sticking to each other)
Cooking spray
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) (With an impulse purchase, I got flavored Jamie Oliver breadcrumbs. They ended up over-powering the flavors of the pricey cheese but added a nice texture.)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (Omitted)


1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Combine squash, broth, milk, and garlic in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat.

3. Place the hot squash mixture in a blender. Add salt, pepper, and Greek yogurt. Remove the center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Place blended squash mixture in a bowl; stir in Gruyère, pecorino Romano, and 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano. Stir until combined.

4. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain well. Add pasta to squash mixture, and stir until combined. Spread mixture evenly into a 13 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray.

5. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add panko, and cook for 2 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Sprinkle evenly over the hot pasta mixture. Lightly coat topping with cooking spray.

6. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with parsley, and serve immediately. (we put some in the fridge and it reheated well)

Sidney Fry, MS, RD, Cooking Light

The Dietitican Interviews Me

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

You may remember an interview I posted a little while back featuring registered dietitian Nicola Whitehead. If you head over to her blog, you can read her interviewing me.

Her site is also a wonderful resource for healthy eating tips and delicious recipes with plenty of photos.

Guest Post: Working Out Made Me Feel Athletic Again

Monday, March 12, 2012

Here is a post from a friend of mine who has Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP). It was originally posted on October 18, 2010 on Sam Patierno's website. It is a story of inspiration and persistence. Enjoy!

I played every sport imaginable growing up. I was always obsessed with playing sports. I loved to compete. I excelled in basketball and tennis. I was captain of the tennis team in college. Unfortunately after I graduated college I started having trouble with my balance and coordination. Like anyone would do I went to my doctor to see what was wrong. 8 years later, about 8 neurologists, 1o MRI’s, spinal tap, and many more uncomfortable tests I was diagnosed with a very rare hereditary neurological disorder called HSP. HSP – Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia refers to a group of inherited disorders that are characterized by progressive weakness and spasticity (stiffness) of the legs. Early in the disease course, there may be mild gait difficulties and stiffness. These symptoms typically slowly progress so that eventually individuals with HSP may require assistance of a cane, walker, or wheelchair. I couldn't run anymore. I have difficulty walking because my legs are so tight and stiff. I lost one of the most important things in my life – The joy of competing in sports and feeling athletic. I would have done anything to feel athletic and healthy again, like the way I felt after playing tennis for 5 hours or playing pick up basketball all day. The problem was simple, what can I do safely to feel athletic that doesn’t require running, jumping, kicking etc… The answer I came up with was lifting weights. But, I had no experience with weight training. I was a skinny kid who never thought about the many positives weight training can give you. Luckily I had a few close friends who brought me into the gym and showed me many lifting exercises and more importantly showed me the proper form. I even learned a weight training program where I worked on a different muscle group to target each day. I would do chest, bi’s and tri’s, shoulder’s, and back followed by 15 minutes of stretching 5 days a week for 10yrs. I would write the name of the exercise, number of set’s, and number of reps for each exercise I did in a notebook after every workout so I could make goals for myself and see improvement. I have been working out like this consistently five days a week for the past ten years.

At first it was very hard. I was extremely sore and I wanted to quit everyday I was in the gym, but I kept at it. I got every ounce of stress, frustration, and anger I had that was built up because of my illness out in the gym for an hour five days a week. After time, I didn’t get as sore anymore and really became obsessed with working out. I loved the way it made me feel. I admit it was nice to see myself with muscles that I grew because I worked so hard in the gym, BUT the best benefit about working out was the way it relieved all my stress and anxiety. I never thought in a million years I could feel so good physically by just sticking to a routine in the gym and make sure I eat and sleep well. Other than than the psychological benefits, working out makes me sleep better, increased my immune system (I am rarely sick), and in time it changed the shape of my body. I can honestly say I am no longer angry or frustrated because I can’t play tennis or basketball anymore. In fact, I am very thankful because going through it all caused me to find my new love – Physical Fitness. I plan on taking care of myself and going to the gym five days a week for the rest of my life. And if anyone is reading and is going through an illness like HSP or knows someone who is, please start a weight training program. It will change your life…….

Dave Hawkes is 34 and has worked in the hospitality industry ever since graduating college in 2001. He has been going to the gym 5 days a week for over 10 years, primarily lifting weights. He works a different muscle group each day and finishes his workouts with 200 to 300 pull ups and push ups a day. When he is not working or at the gym, you can find Dave playing fetch with his puggle at the park, at the beach, or intensely watching a Red Sox game. He lives a very happy, simple life and takes a lot of pride in living a healthy lifestyle. He is completely addicted to exercising and staying fit.

Quickie Workout #2

Sunday, March 11, 2012

You can use tv commercials as 20-30 second intervals or a kitchen timer. Repeat at least 3x in a row. If you are unclear what the exercise is I am describing, please look for a video or arrange for an in-person tutorial.

Please consult your doctor before engaging on any fitness regime.

Remember to go for QUALITY over quantity. Breath on the excursion (ie, exhale when pushing yourself up on the push up, inhale as you return to the ground).

1 min- Go up and down the stairs. The first time through climb at normal pace as a warm up. The following times you can pick up the pace a bit. **Be careful!

30 sec- Continuous effort of pushing arms out to side in a door frame (try to make a letter T)

30 sec- High knees while running in place

30 sec- Sumo squats Your feet are wider than shoulder-width apart and turned at 45 degree angle. Remember to keep your knees behind your toes.

30 sec- Push/Press ups against wall, counter, or on the ground.

30 sec- Wall sit Sit with your back against wall and knees at a 90 degree angle. Hold it there. If this is easy, hold it for 1 minute.

30 sec- Calf raise on a low step with ball of foot on edge of step or just standing in place. **Do not fall down the stairs


Tips for Beginner Runners

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Here is a short blog post I contributed to Boutique Sport. They March event series is coming up and I will be leading a run in London Tuesday 27th March. The run will start at Good Vibes Studio, 11 Tottenham Street, London, W1T 2AQ at 6.15pm as part of the Boutique Sport Running Club.

This free event is for beginners (those never to run longer than 15 minutes continuously) only. Register by emailing info@boutiquerun.com and quoting NEWBIE RUN.

Team PT Mollie also has two upcoming 5K events if you have caught the running bug. Click on the 'Upcoming Events' tab for additional information.

Hope to see you out!

Weekend Challenge: Waist-to-Hip Ratio

Friday, March 9, 2012

This weekend's challenge is fairly simple. You will need a flexible tape measure and a calculator. If you don't have a flexible tape measure, use a piece of string or a belt for the measurements. Then use your ruler to measure the string.

Nowadays, most people discourage the body mass index (BMI) as a way to accurately assess your health. BMI doesn't take into account your body shape (short or tall, apple or pear) or the amount of muscle you have versus fat. However, I feel if your height and weight are the only information you have, it can clue you in a little bit to your general health. You know there is muscle on your body if you lift weights 3x/week. If you are typically more sedentary, knowing your BMI might help motivate you to take action and head outside for a walk.

Here are some links to help you calculate your BMI:

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute

National Health Service (NHS) They even have a phone app.

But this challenge is about your waist and hips! Recently, the waist-to-hip ratio is coming more into fashion for assessing your general health. It indicates how much visceral fat (around your internal organs) you have. Apple-shaped bodies increase the risk for complications with obesity such as high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, and type II diabetes. The apple shape can be due to genetics but it is a good idea to keep your overall weight in check, no matter what shape your body naturally is.

Use this tool on the BBC's website to calculate your waist-to-hip ratio. Go ahead and have a measure. I have an 80cm waist this afternoon and a 100cm hip making my ratio 0.8 or average. How did you do?

Another personal trainer and I were chatting over Twitter and he loathes the BMI. He prefers his clients answer these two questions:

1. Can you run for the bus?
2. Can you climb the stairs?

I would like to add:

3. Can you easily tie your shoes?

While we are on the subject, do you know your percent body fat? Some high-end scales offer this as a feature. Or you can have hand held device like these:

US                                       UK

I received one for Christmas (for assessing clients) and we had a lot of fun seeing who gained body fat due to all the holiday feasting.

On average body fat should be:

Age      Up to 30   30-50   50+
Females   14-21%   15-23%   16-25%
Males    9-15%    11-17%   12-19%

Athletes have different standards as they are paid to train and compete. Lucky ducks!

Click here for an interesting article on how women bodies have changed shape over the last 50+ years. Which do you prefer? Why do you think we are changing? Is is for better or worse?

Above image courtesy of www.women-health-info.com

Product Review: Graze.com Light Snack Box

Thursday, March 8, 2012

I first heard about Graze.com from Nic's Nutritionhttp://nicsnutrition.com/. Nicola is a registered dietitian and said very good things about Graze's snack boxes. I grabbed her code and tried this service out for myself.

After creating a profile on the website, there is a huge menu of snacks to choose from. I went with the 'lightbox' option which are low calorie snacks. Graze describes is as "All our lowest calorie nibbles. Everything's between 54 and 146 calories and nothing tastes like diet food. Great if you're watching your weight." The two other options are Eat Well and Boost. After choosing a plan, you have several pages of snacks to 'like,' 'bin,' or 'try.' I decided to 'try' everything except the few that sounded very spicy (what can I say? I am a wimp). With my lighter option, many of the chocolaty choices were unavailable. This is good though as I am primarily using my snacks for the 3pm munchies. I am trying to put healthy energy into my body, rather that my stand-by of Diet Coke and a candy bar.

On Fridays (you choose the day and frequency of delivery), my snack box arrives in my work mail slot (shipping is included in the price). The pack is about the size of an Ipad. Inside are 4 treats picked out for me. The packaging (both box and punnets) is recyclable and includes a napkin and nutritional info pamphlet.
Also enclosed are coupons/vouchers for your friends to give Graze a try for free (keep reading for your chance). I am being more label conscious and love that this info is provided. The packs are a handy size to stick in your purse, lunch box, or backpack and allow you to choose health over convenience. Have a look on their site for ideas on which nuts, fruits, crackers, and other nibbles that can be combined for a delicious treat. Remember that portion control is key. Limit the snack to 30g or a 1/4 cup.

Live in the UK (I emailed about the USA and they are focusing on UK for now. Bummer) and fancy giving Graze a go? Use this promo code for a FREE BOX: JLT7C18. Each time someone uses the promo code, I will donate £1 to the graze school of farming - Uganda. Students are taught how to grow avocados, lemons, mangos, oranges, paw paws and sweet bananas. It is good and to receive, isn't it?

Comment here with which is your favorite punnet or if the site inspired you to make your own healthy treat.

Pancake Inspired Crepes for Pancake Day

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

In honor of Pancake Day/Fat Tuesday/Lent, James and I made crepes last weekend. They ended up being crepes as my new crepe tools (spreader, spatula, and ladle) arrived and I was itching to try them out.

The recipe was loosely based on Buttermilk Pancakes from the Double Energy Diet by Judi and Shari Zucker, the Double Enegery Twins. These ladies introduced me to agave nectar, rice syrup, and some other healthy stuff that I had never heard of. The book was a gift and is used regularly in my kitchen.

If you are in the US:                  If you are in the UK:

The original recipe is below. We omitted the flaxseed meal (didn't have any handy), used 1% milk (what we drink at home), used plain whole meal/wheat flour, and substiuted course bran for oat flour (again because that is what was in our cupboard). To make the mixture thinner for crepes, the ratio of dry to wet is about 1:1. Once we poured the mixture on the skiddle, we make it very thin with the spreader to transform it into a crepe.

Cooking is supposed to be fun, so experiment! The first pancake of the batch never turns out as good as the rest anyways.

Wholesome Buttermilk Pancakes by the Double Energy Twins

1/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
3/4 cup buttermilk or soy, rice or almond milk
1 tablespoon of your favorite liquid sweetner (apple juice concentrate, pineapple juice concentrate, applesauce, honey, molasses (preferably blackstrap), maple syrup, rice syrup, pear juice concnetrate or agave nectar) *I used honey
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup oat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

1. Place water in a marge bowl, stir in flaxseed meal and let sit for 5 minutes.
2. Add buttermilk, sweetner, oil, and vanilla to flaxseed mixture and stir until combined.
3. In a seperate bowl, whisk together whole-meal flour, oat flour, and baking powder. Then stir in to wet mixture.
4. Heat a large skillet or griddle until moderately hot and oil lightly.
5. For each pancake, pour 2 heaping tablespoons of batter onto the hot pan.
6. Cook each pancake until bubbles appear on the top, then flip and cook until other side if a golden color.
7. Serve with pure maple syrup

We pulled out all of our jams from the fridge, pure maple syrup, Nutella, almond butter, and honey to create different dilicious crepes. My husband started off with the Canadian maple syrup, eh? Each was delicious, as well as the plain crepe on its own. If you have fresh fruit, such as berries or bananas, pile them on top too!

Send me your crepe/pancake photos and I will post them here! mollie@ptmollie.com

Guest Post: Punk Rope

Monday, March 5, 2012

Punk. Rope. What do you think of when you hear those words? Mohawks? 3rd grade gym class? Do those two terms even go together?

My husband and I, certified Punk Rope instructors since 2009, think so. So do hundreds of other fitness enthusiasts, including Tim Haft, the ACE-certified personal trainer who created Punk Rope. The great news? You don’t need to have a Mohawk or wear spikes… You don’t even need to know how to jump rope. All that Punk Rope requires is a spirited attitude and the desire to move.

Because Tim couldn't find any fitness classes that were fun, challenging, or social, he was left to choose between attending classes that didn't thrill him and starting his own class. Punk Rope made its debut at New York University in October of 2004. The mission of Punk Rope is to build community, play to get fit, and promote health and fitness.

Punk Rope was originally designed for adults, but it also holds a large appeal for children too. Punk Rope has created a school-based program that has lesson plans for kindergarteners through high schoolers. There are instructors in about 18 states in the U.S. and Punk Rope is still growing. Tim recently spoke with a personal trainer in the UK (Manchester) about the possibility of him introducing Punk Rope over there and has also conducted an interview with TV Japan.

Since our certification, my husband and I have been blessed to share Punk Rope with many different groups. We have used it in Vacation Bible School, with ages 7 and up; a 64-year-old grandfather has attended class; and soccer players have used Punk Rope to stay in shape. Jump, play, jump, race, jump, laugh – who wouldn’t love this class?

Yes, there is definitely a message in Punk Rope! It's important to have variety in your workouts and high intensity exercise is good for you, some of the time. It's important to play, even as adults. By playing together in a fitness class, it becomes easy to form friendships and through friendships, it becomes easy to form community, and community is what Punk Rope is all about.
For more information or to join a class, see punkrope.com.

Stacie Macias is a 30-something fitness enthusiast and mother of two, who does her best to encourage people of all ages to do things that make them feel fit. She believes that being fit doesn't come in a one-size-fits all package: it's not about how much one weighs or what size you wear, but how you feel. She likes to encourage women to find physical activity that they enjoy; be it soccer, lifting weights, or daily walks. She is a certified Punk Rope instructor, working towards a personal training certification and enrolled in a Bachelor Degree program in community health. Macias Athletic Club

Do you have time for a quickie?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Of course you do! Look here for a 13-15 minute workout that should be easy enough to do anywhere. Minimal kit is required. It is handy to have a timer or watch with a second hand. If you are unclear what the exercise is I am describing, please look for a video or arrange for an in-person tutorial.

Please consult your doctor before engaging on any fitness regime.

Remember to go for QUALITY over quantity. Breath on the excursion (ie, exhale when pushing yourself up on the push up, inhale as you return to the ground).

Quickie WO
3-5 minutes of warm up- walking or jogging (can be in place or going up and down stairs). You want to break into a light sweat. Warm up is important because it lubricates your joints and warms up your muscles, two things which prevent injury.

1 minute of jumping jacks/star jumps- A modification to make this easier is rather than jumping extend your leg out to the side and touch your toe to the ground and alternating sides.

1 minute of squats
- Feet are shoulder/hip width apart. Toes are pointing forward. Sit back and stick out your bum (as if you were going to sit on the toilet). Be sure to keep your knees behind your toes. Extending your knees beyond your toes may injure your knees. Progression: easier- actually sit in a chair. Don't use arms to get up but instead think of a string pulling you up from your chest. More difficult- Hold weights or wear a backpack with some newspapers or magazines in it for extra resistance.

1 minute of push-ups/press-ups- These can be in several forms (from easiest to most difficult) incline against wall or counter top, kneeling, on toes/normal, decline (feet elevated). Perform whichever one you feel most comfortable with. No matter which position, remember to keep your body in a straight line. Keep hands underneath your shoulders. Don't stick your bum up in the air!

1 minute of leg lifts- Lay on your back with legs extended. You can have your hands underneath the bottom of your bum for support (hope that makes sense!). Lift straight legs up the in air and slowly bring down to the ground. If your lower back comes off the ground, modify your movement so this does not happen. This may mean that your legs are raised straight up and you can only lower them to 45 degrees. That is a good place to start until your back is stronger.

1 minute of supermans- Let's get that lower back stronger! Laying on your tummy with arms extended above your head, lift opposite arm and leg in unison and return to the ground. Only lift as high as is comfortable for you. This exercise does not call for a big movement. To make this a little more challenging, lift all 4 limbs at once. Don't forget to breath. :)

1 minute of hip raises- Time to work the hamstrings (you always want to work complementary muscle groups). Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Raise your hips so there is a straight line from shoulders to knees. Lower hips 2-3 inches (a comfortable range) and raise up again while squeezing your bum. Keep your core tight by visualizing a string pulling from your belly button to your spine or kicking your abs tight to prepare for someone to punch you in the stomach. (Don't try the punching thing at home though)

1 minute of lunges
- Do these either standing in place or walking down the hall. Start with feet together. Take a large step forward and lower your back knee almost to the ground (or within your comfortable range). Remember to keep your knee behind your toe. Do not lunge forward. Alternate sides.

1 minute of dips- On a sturdy chair or bench, sit on the edge of seat with hands beside your bum. Drop hips off of seat (keep bum close to the seat) and lower yourself down as your elbows point behind you. The closer your knees are to you (and more bent such as at 90 degrees) the easier this will be. To make more challenging, keep legs straight out in front of you. Rely only on arms to push yourself up, not your legs!

Repeat as you'd like! Stretch out when you are done to help prevent delayed onset of muscle soreness.

Measure your reps to monitor your progress. Try to keep your heart rate up by resting no more than 30 seconds between exercises. (Of course listen to your body and take more time if you need it).

Good luck!

Weekend Challenge: Ah... push it!

Friday, March 2, 2012

From now until Sunday midnight please drop and give me 20 push/press-up before you eat a snack or meal (anything really). You can do this on a counter, against your car, or, for those who are more traditional, on the ground.

If push-ups are easy-peasy for you then touch your thumbs and index fingers in your basic stance for a diamond push-up.

Good luck!