Monday, March 31, 2014

Top 4 Workout Apps!

Health & Fitness week is over, but with today's guest post you could consider it to be a little continuation of last week!  In today's guest post Catie of the blog Books, Beauty & Bars shares her top 4 workout apps with us!

I've talked about getting cute workout clothes to motivate you to get your ass to the gym, but another thing that motivates me is using fun apps to get through a long gym sesh.

If you're working out to lose weight, this app has everything you need.  First, you let them know your current weight and the weight you would like to be in any given (realistic) amount of time. Then, they give you an allotted amount of calories for each day.  Throughout the day, you can log all the food you eat and any exercise you do. The app will automatically allot you extra calories by calculating how many you burned during the physical activity, which is awesome.  This way, you aren't constantly wondering if you worked out enough for the day.
Another great feature of this app is the food logging.  Not all food you eat has nutrition labels on it (restaurant food, fruit, etc.), but you can search almost anything on the app and they'll have it.  They even go so far as to give the option for how much of the food you ate.  You can literally log the 1/4 of the candy bar that you ate, and they can tell you exactly how many calories it was.  My Fitness Pal also keeps track of past food that you've entered, so if you eat the same sandwich every single day all you have to do is click on the pre-logged entry for that sandwich every day at lunch and you're done.
Lastly, click on "Progress" in the app's sidebar and you can log your weight every day.  They give you a visual line graph of your weight loss so far, which is insanely motivating.  Definitely recommend this for anyone who truly wants to lose weight and has the right amount of discipline!

If you're dying to do one of those fun 5Ks like The Color Run, but don't even think you could jog from your couch to your refrigerator right now, download this app.  Running is a tough habit to get into, and sometimes being on a treadmill is the last thing you want to do.  With this app, you slowly work your way up to a non-stop 5K within 9 weeks by switching between walking, jogging, and running at different intervals.  Who knows, you might end up loving it and slowly make your way up to half or full marathons!

I've written about this app before, but I've included it because it's still one of my all-time faves.  If you're like me and can't understand how people actually get stuff done on the mats at the gym, you need this app.  I used to lay there, catch my breath after cardio, do maybe like 7 crunches, and then get distracted by my phone or that super attractive guy doing push ups a few feet away from me.  Now, all I need to do is turn on Sworkit and I have endless mat exercises to do.  
The app generates random workouts in either strength training or stretching/yoga and switches to a different exercise or stretch after a certain amount of time that you designate.  The app is also designed to give you the occasional break and has alerts when it's time to switch arms, legs, etc. in certain workouts.  
This is perfect for someone who can't seem to find a good mat routine and seems lost in a sea of robots doing contortionist moves next to them... or maybe that's just my gym. Regardless, this will definitely help you minimize your time at the mats and maximize your results. 

Daily Workouts is simply an app that generates different daily workouts for you to do at home.  But, the maker of the Daily Workouts App also created separate apps that allow you to focus on specific body workouts.
These are fairly similar to Sworkit, but instead allow you to focus on a certain problem area of your body.  If your yoga pants fall down because your flat butt can't fill them out (like me...), download the Daily Butt Workout and fix that ish! If doing the skinny arm pose in photos can't even make your biceps look hot, download the Daily Arm workout and you'll have Jennifer Aniston arms in no time.  I think you get where I'm going with this...
Download one for a specific workout, or download them all! They're a great way to tone and shape the parts of your body that get forgotten, and a good source to find new moves for those areas.
What are some of your favorite fitness apps?

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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Weekend Wander Hop!

 Welcome to the Weekend Wander!  Link up your favorite post from this week that you want to show off!  Then hop around and spread the love!

Let's party!

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Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday Five Link Up & 5 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Workout!

 Welcome to the Friday Five link up!  There is no theme to Friday Five, you can link up any post that has a list of five!  Get creative!

This week's post comes from one of our Health and Fitness Bloggers Devin who writes over at the blog Run Like a Girl.

Five tips for getting the most out of your workout!

It can be difficult to motivate yourself to workout so it's important that once you get up and get moving you do all you can to make you workout worth it!

1) Hydrate- This is important to do prior to your workout. If you are planning on exercising in the morning, you should hydrate the night before. Those of you who work out at night should make sure you are drinking enough water throughout the day. And of course, make sure you hydrate during and after your workout as well!

2) Stretch- It can be tempting to just get up and go but light stretching before exercising can warm your body up and help prevent injuries. You should hold each stretch for about 20 seconds and incorporate moving stretches into your warm-up. Stretching after your workout is important as well. 

3) Give it your all- You got yourself up and moving! Now give it all you've got. Whether you are running, lifting weights, or doing yoga- try to push yourself and try something new. Maybe incorporate sprints into your jog or do one set of curls with a higher weight. It doesn't have to be anything crazy but try to see what your body can do. You will be amazed! But with that being said...

4) Listen to your body- If you start to feel pain you should slow down and listen to your body. Getting through a workout is not worth a serious injury. If you feel pain in your knee while running- stop! There are other workouts you can do while you let yourself heal.

5) Fuel up- Many make the mistake of not eating properly when working out. It is so important to make sure you are eating enough calories throughout the day to fuel your body for a strong workout. Eating protein, vegetables and fruits are especially important. You must also make sure you eat protein after working out. This allows your muscles to recover and grow- making you more fit! 

The most important thing is getting out there and being active. Whether you are going for a walk or training for a marathon you are using your body and getting stronger. These tips can help improve any type of exercise and make you more healthy and fit!

Thanks Devin!  Be sure to check out these tips and more over at her blog!
And now it's your turn!  Link up your Friday Five post below!
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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Health & Fitness Week: Favorite Workout DVDs!

Welcome to day 4 of our Health and Fitness week!  Today's Health and Fitness post comes to us from Ash of the blog Ash's Right Direction!

Hello fellow Northeast Bloggers! My name is Ashlee and I blog over at Ash's Right Direction.  I am a mom of a busy toddler, wife to an amazing guy, and a girl trying to get fit and healthy. I am so excited to be doing a guest for for Health & Fitness Week.

I have been working my butt off for a couple years now to get myself into a healthy or "normal" BMI range. I ended up getting pregnant after losing 35 lbs and gained the weight and then some back. I have lost all of the baby weight plus 17 lbs. I feel amazing, but I still have some work to do. Last year, after walking most of the weight off I decided to try some circuit training with Jillian Michaels.
Left is from 2010 at 225 lbs -- Right is from this past Christmas at 175lbs

The decision to mix up my workout routine was the best decision I have ever made. I ended up losing inches and toning my body. I am a big at home workout person. I had a gym membership for a year in the beginning of my journey, but I did not like having to go to the gym and I never used it like I should have. My gym did not have any group classes and I usually went at midnight after work. I am sure a lot of people share my dislike for the gym and would rather do at home workouts. My biggest problem is having a structure routine to follow.

I wanted to share some of my favorite workout DVDs.
Why are they my favorite ones?

  • They are all less than 35 minutes which is nice for a mom with a rambunctious toddler
  • They are easy to follow with modifications - I like when there are modifiers in the routine because I feel great when I work my way up to the advanced person in the routine. 
  • They have a time period. I like having days to mark off on the calendar. 
  • Most of the videos I enjoy are less than $10

Jillian Micheal's 30 Day Shred: (<$10) This was the first workout DVD I tried and actually stuck to. I was addicted to working out with Jillian everyday. I noticed a pretty big difference after 30 days and I was happy. I lost inches and became more toned. You can see my results here

Jillian Michael's Yoga Meltdown: (<$10) I did this program in January and really enjoyed it. I had wanted to try yoga and this was great for a beginner. I enjoyed trying to keep up with the modifier in the beginning and then being in tune with the full workout at the end.

Tony Horton's P90X3: ($120) This one is in the higher price range and I was able to try it because I won a copy. I have always been intrigued with P90X, but the length was too long for me. When this program came out I was intrigued and wanted to give it a try. I had watched a few of the infomercials and was loving the results people were getting. I am in Block 2 of 3 right now and I really like it. I am enjoying the workouts and seeing myself getting better and stronger.

A couple other ones I have tried are Ripped in 30 & Shred it with Weights, I have not finished those though. I want to go back to those at some point and do them all the way through the 30 days.

If you are intimidated by the gym, don't think you have no other options grab a dvd and give it a try. You will need a set of weights - start with 3 lbs if you are just starting and work your way up to 5 lbs.

Do you have a favorite workout DVD or program? 

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Thanks Ash!  Be sure to come back tomorrow for our Health & Fitness themed Friday 5 post and link up your own Friday 5 with us, too!

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Blog of the Week: VITA - Train for Life

Continuing with our Health & Fitness week theme, today's blog of the week is none other than fitness blogger, Allie, who writes the blog VITA- Train for Life!

Hello and welcome to my corner of the universe known as VITA - Train for Life (pronounced VEE TA) where I write about all things health and fitness with a dash of twin craziness. I want to thank Rachel and all the Northeast Bloggers for the support system they have created. It's been a great resource for me as well as a place I've found other great blogs and the bloggers behind them!  

It's always so challenging to condense who you are into this space. How shall I describe all that is me in one blog post? Well, hopefully you'll read more then one but really...who has that kind of time? In the interest of that time, here's a three-part answer that is based on my different personalities: 

My most recent half-marathon PR! woot woot

 Personality #1: Fitness Freak Yep, I'm a freak and I will totally admit it. I love to run and race. In fact, I haven't really met a race I don't like...except maybe for the Triathlon because it involves swimming...and maybe also because the last time I won one I was dissed pretty hard by my local paper. You can read about that HERE. I also competed in the National Duathlon Championship (run/bike/run event) in Tuscon, AZ last October where I qualified to represent Team USA at the World Championship at the end of June! You can read about that HERE and HERE. In addition to running and racing, I'm a group fitness instructor and personal trainer and I used to own a private studio. Then I got pregnant with twins.

Yep. I'm so proud. 

Personality #2: Mother of Twins It's a pretty funny story and you can read about that here. Are they identical? Who the hell knows? You can read about that here. They are almost five now and drive me completely out of my mind. You can read about that here and the massive meltdown I had because of them here. I really do love them or else I would have left home long ago. I will never regret becoming a SAHM and, I'm sure very soon, I will miss these days.

My Key West wedding...worth waiting for!

Personality #3: Wife/Daughter/Sister/Friend My husband and I have been married for 8 years. We were married on a beach in Key West and it was awesome. I did, however, call off the wedding the first time around which you can read about here

My dad is an amazing one. My mom died of ovarian cancer when I was 17 and my dad has been an unbelievable mom and dad to me and my brother and you can read all about that here

My older brother is awesome and lives in upstate NY where my meltdown occurred. And, of course, where would I be without my friends? Not sharing my life on this blog, that's for sure! You can read all about that here.  

If you just did a quick skim and clicked on nothing...I don't blame you. If you're still interested and have 50 seconds 3 minutes, you can watch this video and get the gist.  Thank you so much for reading! I do hope you'll visit and/or leave a comment. I always respond. And, if you follow me on Bloglovin, Twitter, FB, Pinterest and Instagram I'll really feel the love...and I'll stalk follow you back.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Health & Fitness Week:
9 Ways to Stay on Track!

Welcome to our Heath and Fitness Week!  This week we have a great line up for guest post from our bloggers who focus on health and fitness topics!  We hope you find some inspiration and useful tips in the posts this week!

Today's guest post comes from Maria who writes the blog Pappa Don't Preach

9 Ways to Stay on Track at your 9 to 5
If you work in an office environment 9 to 5 (likely longer these days) you are probably no stranger to Bagel Friday, Pizza Wednesday and Bonnie in Client Services' latest baking extravaganza. This is not exactly the best environment when you're trying to lead a healthy lifestyle. So how do you avoid the forbidden treats when you're cooped up in your office, stressed over your latest project or just craving something sweet? Here are 9 tips to help you avoid the corporate 15 (or 20).

 photo 9to5pizzatitle_zps2ab37d75.jpg 

1. Bring your own meals. This is stating the obvious. If you plan ahead, you'll have a much easier time avoiding the treat table. In fact, if you bring something delicious like kale salad and last night's salmon, that pizza will pale in comparison. It sounds easy because it really is. If you cook in bulk on Sunday, it's easy to simply toss together your lunches for the week. Not to mention, you'll also save a significant amount of money. 

2. Stock your desk with healthy snacks. Munchkins screaming at your during your weekly (or daily) meeting. Bring a snack size bag of nuts and unsweetened dried fruit with you instead. Other ideas include almond butter packets (jars can be dangerous), larabars, and fresh fruit. Check out some items from my desk stash.

  photo 9to5larabar_zps7723c6d7.jpg 

3. Take 5 minute breaks through the day. Stretch, go for a quick walk around the building, get some air. These small activities will perk you up and give you the energy you're really looking for. 

4. Drink all the water. Most of the time, you're not really hungry, just thirsty. Gulp the crap out of that water! It's calorie free and refreshing! If your company supplies fresh bottled water, even better!

 photo 9to5water_zpsfd3417ea.jpg 

5. Pass on the coffee. That sugar and creamer can really add up when you're downing 3-5 cups per day. Opt for a couple cups of green tea per day instead. And in the warmer months, iced green tea with fresh lemon is extra delicious.

  photo 9to5greentea_zps2c98c2f5.jpg 

6. Opt for a healthier option. If you can't say no, survey your options. Is there a healthier option at the pizza table? A side salad perhaps? Maybe a small slice of thin crust? You don't want to forgo quality time with your coworkers, and my hope is that you enjoy their company, so be social without going overboard. 

7. Make it an occasional treat. Sometimes you just need to say "yes," but you don't have to do it daily. Make it an occasional treat so when you do have it, it's that much more satisfying. 

 8. Make a pact. Have an office friend that has the same health goals as you? Make a pact with them that when these office shindigs occur, the two of you will stick together and remind one another that the jelly doughnut is only temporary gratification. 

 9. Drop a suggestion. If you feel that your company should offer healthier options, let them know! It doesn't hurt to offer alternative suggestions. Chances are you're not the only one who feels that way and eventually, it will make a difference. 

And if your office has a lounge with wine and beer, always say yes on Fridays at 5pm. 

For more of my helpful healthy living tips, and occasional snarky post, visit me at Pappa Don't Preach.

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Monday, March 24, 2014

Health & Fitness Week!
How To Survive Hot Yoga

Welcome to our Heath and Fitness Week!  This week we have a great line up for guest post from our bloggers who focus on health and fitness topics!  We hope you find some inspiration and useful tips in the posts this week!

Today's guest post comes from the blog The Dance Grad.

How To Survive Hot Yoga


Its important to drink a lot of water before you take a hot yoga class of any kind. I made the mistake once of going to a fairly challenging hot flow class after a day of not drinking much water at all, and I nearly passed out and/or vomited during the class (sorry if that grossed you out, but its true). It also important to take a water bottle into the class with you so that you can take a few sporadic sips throughout the class as well.

Stand by the door.

This one is especially important if you’re new to hot yoga. Standing by the door not only provides you with a quick escape if needed, but during the class (hot yoga only, not bikram), the teacher opens the door to regulate the temperature. This will provide you with a few moments of fresh air which may help you to continue with the class if you’re feeling unwell. Since I’ve just started getting back into exercise on a regular basis again, when I take my hot yoga classes, I like to stand by the door to catch the breeze every time the door is opened. It may seem a bit trivial, but trust me, it’ll be worth it.

Wear the right clothes.

For a class where you are performing physically difficult postures in 85-95 degrees fahrenheit (30-35 degrees celsius), you will sweat… a lot. I would definitely suggest wearing minimal clothing that is sweat wicking. You want to stay away from wearing anything cotton because that’s going to completely soak through as soon as you walk in the room and then it will feel really heavy on your skin throughout the class. I would recommend an outfit of this nature: Shorts & Sports Bra OR Capris & Tank Top.

Listen to your body.

This tip is important for all yoga or fitness classes. If you’re body is hurting in the wrong way (ie. any kind of sharp pain, if you feel nauseated, feeling faint, etc.) then you should definitely stop what you’re doing and take a moment of rest. With yoga in particular, two poses I would recommend going to if you’re feeling that its too much are downward dog & child’s pose. These poses will keep your body still engaged while allowing it to rest for a bit. Test it out and see which of those two poses feel right in the moment. For me, I like to revert to downward dog in hot yoga if I’m feeling unwell because it allows more airflow to my face. Child’s pose is a good pose to go to if you are feeling a bit nauseated and also if you take the pose with your knees slightly apart.

Bring towels.

At minimum, bring one large towel to put on your mat and one small towel for drying yourself. If you’re going to use the studio’s showers to rinse yourself off, then I’d suggest bringing a clean towel (one that hasn’t been in the class with you & that’s not already covered in your sweat) for that as well. Its good to have something absorbent to go over your yoga mat so that you don’t slip while you’re in the poses (sweaty hands & feet), and its good to have a smaller towel to wipe the sweaty off your face periodically.

Bring your own mat.

Most yoga studios provide their own mats that you’re free to use, but I personally like to bring my own mat, especially for hot yoga. If you haven’t already grasped this concept from reading the rest of the post, hot yoga will make you sweat… a lot. Obviously, that sweat will drip onto your yoga mat as you’re doing the class. Get where I’m going here? Its a bit gross using a “public” yoga mat, even if they do get cleaned. I’d rather do the class on a mat covered in my own germs over someone else’s.

Bring a change of clothes afterwards.

For some people, this one may have been obvious, but for me it wasn’t. I went into my first bikram class with only the clothes that I was wearing, my yoga mat & a water bottle. Seriously, what was I thinking? I was completely drenched afterwards, and if I hadn’t taken my shirt off and done the class in my sports bra, I would have had to travel back home after the class in a completely soaked outfit. Head to toe, you will be completely wet during and certainly after the class, so don’t forget to bring a change of clothes & a change of underwear. Nothing is more uncomfortable than sitting on the bus, train or in your car going back home in completely wet clothing. If you skip this step, you’ll go from hot yoga to cold bum in a matter of minutes. Not fun times.

Final Thoughts: Although hot yoga is challenging, it really does provide a lot of benefits. Sweating that much allows for detoxification, more of a cardiovascular workout, and it warms up your muscles faster allowing for a safe way to perform the yoga postures. It also helps you to become more flexible if you do hot yoga on a regular basis, which is something that I’ve lost since I’ve stopped dancing. The heat also helps improve your breathing and relax your body. You should really know your limits before trying a class of this nature. Even though you may feel more flexible during this class (and you will), that does not mean that you should surpass your limits and overdo it. That could cause you to overstretch the muscle causing injury. Personally, I enjoy the classes, and I would recommend giving it a try if it sounds like something you’d like as well. Its a really intense workout, and it allows you to really push and challenge yourself.

Thanks for the great tips on hot yoga!  Be sure to check out all the other great posts on Christina's blog The Dance Grad!

Health and Fitness week will continue tomorrow with another great guest post on ways to stay on track with your healthy eating goals!
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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Weekend Wander Hop

Welcome to the Weekend Wander Hop!  Join the fun by linking up your favorite post you wrote this week!  Then, be sure to visit and comment on 3 - 4 other blogs in the link up!

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