The other night my daughter had her first musical theatre audition. In recent months my husband and I have discovered her incredible singing talent. I decided to foster this gift and massage her into something where she can flourish. She’s an artist and often dabbles in things for short periods before losing interest. She doesn’t really harness that stick-to-it-ness even when she enjoys something.
Here is a peek into my latest article on Bodybuilding.com. Head over to the site for the full article plus a 4-day workout that you can use for 4-6 weeks.
No ifs, ands, or buts: If you want a nice butt, you must train for it. If an Olympian wants to be the fastest swimmer, longest jumper, or most precise marksman, she has to train for it. The swimmer isn’t going to swim twice per week, then head over to the archery range a couple times, and follow it up with a few hours of sprint drills. She’s going to swim until mastery is achieved.
After five hours of typing, I break to water the garden and tend the chickens. It’s nice to finally venture outside, even if it’s just for chores. I end up back at my desk, writing a few plans, answering emails, and balancing my budget.
Now 7 hours into my workday, it’s time to take another break before finishing up a few small details and starting my evening chores—oh, and of course dinner needs to get on the stove.
The other night I sat on the porch pitting cherries with my son Ellis. My daughter Gwyn and her friends surrounded us, sharing stories from school and writing notes to boys they would never actually share.
I taught my son different ways to pit a cherry, but we both found that using our fingers worked best. For him, it was a treat to squirt juice at the girls. Sometimes he would toss the stems and pits into the cherry bowl and the cherry into the pit bowl. In the end, we didn’t quite have it sorted out as some of us found pits in our cobbler.
I learned this practice from spending summers with my grandmother as she and my aunts would sit in the backyard shucking corn, pitting cherries, and prepping pole beans.
Meal preparation is such a huge part of my parenting. From morning pancakes with eggs to holiday pies, fresh salads to school lunches. It’s important to me that my kids know their way around the kitchen, and not just for life skills.
I want them to know that food is the center of our lives. Not just to provide us energy for the day, but as a part of our culture, our past, and our traditions. Around the world food has a religious importance, is part of story telling, and is thought to be a gift from the earth or gods. Food makes us strong, and handsome, and gives us long lives. The most primitive cultures on earth know this, but our Western minds have neglected this notion for some time.
In fact, it’s often felt that our culture can do nothing but reduce food to particles that which we can’t even see. Our meals become a numbers game and we forget entirely what an enjoyable time meals can be from start to finish. We forget to respect where our food came from and the people who produced it—or that we are capable of growing food ourselves.
We neglect the time-honored traditions passed down from our ancestors. Those worn recipe cards sitting on shelves in our grandmother’s pantry that have moved through a generation of hands.
As a parent I struggle between what I know is right about food and what we are being taught in our modern world. I do not want my children to pick up items and ramble off how many calories and grams of fat are listed on a label. Or refer to their friends as carboholics or worry that they’ve become sugar addicts.
But they do.
I do not want them to think about getting enough protein or vegetables. I do not want to them feel concerned with foods that make them fat.
But they do. Because they speak the language that they hear. From me, from the media, from their friends.
And it’s painful. But I will change it.
I want them to understand what food means to us as a family. How it brings us together, gives us those teaching moments, those times of splendor and of healing. I want them to know what my grandmother taught me and learned from her mother. I want them to experience the traditions my mother created, and to feel that food is a part of who we are so they can share this with their families when they are grown.
For that, I am taking back my table. I will no longer play part in the calculations game. Food will not be simply particles that make up a whole once I add them together.
Food will share the same importance in my house as bedtime stories, nights under the stars, and wiping tears away. Memories etched in our table surround us each time we sit. As we pass dishes, butter bread, and pour tea we feel secure together and nothing else matters in the world more than filling our bellies and our hearts. The day’s stress washes away, the evening news shuts off, and for those 30 minutes stories are shared and lessons are taught.
For families that spend the day apart, food brings you together. Don’t rob yourself of this time because it will vanish before you can blink. So I encourage you, as spouses and parents, to take back your table. Bring back food in the traditional sense. Food that is the common bond in your home, among friends, and is a part of your heritage.
Give yourself that small peace of mind. With all the uncertainty that surrounds us, nothing gives us a sense of hope more than the family meal.
This post was written by Susie Francis an aspiring freelancer who loves all things fitness. If you want to keep up to date with what Susie is upto follow her on twitter @susiefrancisw.
Many people live a very sedentary lifestyle, stemmed from being stuck at our office desks 9-5. Finding time to exercise when you have a full time job isn’t easy especially if you’re trying to balance work with family and having some form of social life. However having a sedentary job doesn’t mean you can’t have a good workout whilst there!
You may feel as though you have chosen one of the low-end personal training courses available with the equipment brought by the trainer not being quite top-notch. However they work in their own little way, such as a simple elastic band. You can use it when working on your arms, such as a light stretch of your arms above your hand, whilst pulling apart the elastic band from either side, helping to work your muscles.
Buy a hand gripper, they are also very cheap and easily tucked away in your office drawer. If you’re undertaking a task that doesn’t require the use of both hands such as reading, then it’s an opportunity to squeeze the gripper and give your forearm a workout.
Invest in a large stability ball and it can be your new office chair. Through just sitting on it, with the right posture (back straight, abs firm) you’ll burn a considerable amount of calories. It will take some time to get used to and obviously it is a visible option but don’t be ashamed of wanting to keep fit! It’s also one of the most supportive seating you can get to help prevent tendinitis and carpal tunnel.
You can work out your abdominal muscles right from your desk in the form of seated crunches. Simply place your feet flat on the floor, with your knees bent, sat sitting up straight. Place your hands on your lap and slowly push your lower back against the chair whilst tightening your abdominal muscles, release and breathe out and continue this for several repetitions.
A hamstring pull helps to stretch your hamstrings, giving you more strength and flexibility. Remain seated with your back and torso aligned. Place the palms of your hands on one of your hamstrings. Lift the other leg towards your stomach, whilst maintaining this bent position. Repeat for several repetitions and then switch to the other leg.
I can see you from the corner of my eye as you glide along the elliptical trainer. You’re curious, no doubt. But something prevents you from wandering out of the cardio section into the weight room.
It’s not your place—a woman’s world, I mean. Sweat pools left behind on benches and racks stacked with bending bars loaded to the max. Tinny cords of Metallica spill from headphones, only to be chorused over by grunts and howls of red-faced men followed by clanks of heavy iron.
Though that space on the other side of the gym seems all too foreign, it somehow appeals to you. Mottled in the wash of heightened testosterone, you see me—and women like me—with quiet persistence moving bars loaded with twice our bodyweight.
You think that could never be you, but your mind plays funny tricks. I know this all too well, because I stood in your place not long ago. I was the woman peering from the aerobic room windows, eyes fixed on those strong ladies who seemed to know exactly what to do in the weight room. I wanted to be out there, not hiding in the back of a choreographed class. Out there, doing what seemed impossible.
Four years ago I wandered into my local gym with a desire to get in shape. Bodyweight lunges killed me and I ran out of breath after a 20-minute workout. I made an effort to show up twice a week to a fitness class. After I spent some time getting to know the other women in the room, I learned a valuable lesson.
Some women were in their third or fourth year of the class, while others where fairly new. The longtime attendees didn’t look that much more in shape than did the ladies who’d only been going for a few short months.
I knew that if I wanted to get in the best shape possible I had to change things up. I couldn’t show up to endless aerobic classes week in and week out expecting better results. The routines grew tiresome. We did the same movements to different songs, and sometimes the music didn’t even change. I craved more than what the instructor had to offer.
After gaining some footing in the fitness room, I ventured out on the open range. Surrounded by plates, dumbbells, and machines, my heart suddenly began palpitating. Intimidated but determined, I made the effort to show up everyday, work hard, and try new things.
I didn’t know how to bench-press, squat with a barbell, nor had I ever heard of a deadlift. Two years later I maxed my deadlift at 275 pounds. This happened not because I suddenly figured it all out in one day. It happened through persistence, a whole lot of trial and error, and consistent progressions over the course of many months. I started at the bottom, plain and simple. There were no shortcuts, no magic bullets, and I am by no means a genetic freak with superior strength.
The key is to start is with your own bodyweight. Master basic movement patterns, get in tune with how your muscles activate, and gain a good understanding on how your body works.
We are often so eager to go big or go home. Resistance training doesn’t work like that. Quality precedes quantity, and weightlifting is no exception to that rule. I want you to go into your new fitness journey with confidence, so I put together this guide to help you get off to the right start.
To read the entire article and receive a two-phase beginner workout program, click here.
You had family stay with you for a week. With all the cooking, cleaning, and entertaining your workouts got pushed to the wayside. Then your kids were sick, you’re a/c went out, and your boss asked you to work overtime to finish a project.
All this stress built up over the course of two weeks and once you finally got back in the gym, you tweak your low back during a deadlift.
You can’t win. What started as a little trickle of rain to dampen your plan turned into a category 4 hurricane. Nothing seems to work in your favor and soon what seemed like reachable goals are now laughable. There’s no way in hell you will ever make any progress. Life is too messy. Nothing is going in your favor. You want to just throw your hands up and forget about it.
I don’t blame you. It seems like the world is trying to tell you that you don’t deserve to get in a good workout or eat a healthy diet.
The world wants you to fail. It’s written in your stars.
Or is it?
Are you really making a concerted effort to create these positive habits in your life, or are the excuses too easy to come by?
Think about this for a moment. How many TV shows do you regularly watch? How many online games do you keep up with or magazines do you read each month? Perhaps you enjoy chatting online or talking on the phone several hours a week.
We create these habits in our lives, simple rituals that add a bit of normalcy to our week. Whether it’s catching the Today Show before work or watching The Voice every season. It may be reading the latest issue of People as soon as it arrives in the mail or feeding that ever-present addiction to Candy Crush on Facebook.
Whatever it is, you’ve created a habit in the form of entertainment. It’s your means of escaping just for a brief moment during your week. It helps you unwind.
Now imagine taking that energy, that time commitment and channeling it toward your health. Sounds crazy, I know. But it may be your ticket to staying on track.
We can easily plop on the sofa at the end of the evening and fixate our minds on these arbitrary activities. Television watching, game playing, magazine reading—whatever your guilty pleasure.
What if you took that time and channeled it toward something active? Of course, the last thing you want to do before bed is workout, right? But there are other places in your schedule to fit in exercise.
Something as simple as an evening walk can get you in the right mindset. A ten minute yoga session or a quick bodyweight circuit. It doesn’t have to be a huge time commitment, and you don’t even have to leave your house for the gym.
When you get in these ruts and feel like everything is working against your goals, most often it’s all in your head. Stop thinking that you have to follow a plan or it’s not going to work.
If you can’t follow your plan, figure out what you can do to supplement until you have time to commit to that plan. If you miss your favorite show, you record it and watch it later. Think of your fitness plan in the same way. If you can’t get to the gym for your lifting session, do something else in its place.
Don’t just sit around feeling defeated. Take action. Be in charge of your own health.
I just returned from a 2-day excursion to Wine Country for our anniversary. I am far from a wine aficionado. Don’t get me wrong; I certain enjoy a good libation. But give me a $9 bottle of chardonnay and I’m happy.
Nevertheless, this trip was nothing short of spectacular. Napa and Sonoma are such pristine, peaceful places to visit. You really feel like you are in another world when traveling there. Everyone is happy, and possibly drunk. But in a happy way.
Here are some photos from my trip.
We stayed at this peaceful wine inn right inside the Napa city limits. It was a former barn and mansion converted into a hotel. The service was wonderful and the setting was very relaxing.
Just sharing this in case you were wondering if I ever wore anything other than fitness clothes. I do, when prompted. Otherwise it’s tanks and yoga pants galore!
Pretty much every winery in Napa takes you to a storybook setting. We munched on this afternoon snack on a veranda overlooking the entire city. Each time we visited a new place it seemed like it was the best wine country had to offer. But they were all spectacular.
This sounds a little crazy, but I went to this restaurant for these tacos. I read about this place in Sunset magazine. Apparently grasshoppers are only served to those who ask about them. Why did I want to eat bugs? I just find it an interesting cuisine. In several countries all over the world insects are a main protein source. I figure why not try them? I won’t be traveling over seas anytime soon, so I gotta get them where I can.
If you are wondering if I had a little too much wine that day, perhaps. But I actually order the grasshopper tacos completely sober. I would describe grasshoppers as toasted seeds or popcorn. They were actually quite good.
Glute-y, glute-y, glute-y Rockin’!
In addition, Get Glutes has entered its 6th month of training. Our members are doing a spectacular job and we couldn’t be prouder of them. These workouts just get tougher and tougher as the months go by, but our members just keep coming back for more. And their bootyrific results show it! (Did you know you could change any adjective by replacing the beginning of the word with booty?)
However, as coaches we don’t just want our members to reap the benefit of butt-building workouts, so Bret put together this wildly entertaining 30-Day Challenge sure to whip even the fittest booties into better shape.
There are all sorts of fun workout challenges floating around out there. But I don’t think any of them will get your glutes pumped as much as this one. Oh, and did I mention that Bret designed it—so, yeah, it’s a doozy!
I encourage you to take it on if you aren’t using Strong Curves or Get Glutes. We even have a Glute Challenge group rockin’ it out on Fitocracy, so don’t forget to hop over there and see what’s going on.
Basically each day you take on the assigned challenge. The goal is to get in the number of reps for each exercise within a 24-hour period. So you don’t necessarily need to do three billion hip thrusts in one sitting. Just get them done in one day. Okay, so we don’t really require three billion— but close to it. I kid, I kid.
Just so you know you’ve been warned: your legs and booty will be sore. And when I say sore, I mean oooooouchie! But in a good way—a booty-growing way.
A few months back, Kate from Nayad Aqua Sports Wear contacted me about her suits. She sent me one of her custom swimwear outfits to test out and I absolutely love it. I am not a big shopper at all, and swimsuit shopping is the pits. Nothing ever fits correctly. So, when Kate told me her suits are made to order, I couldn’t resist accepting her offer.
The process was seamless, and my suit shipped in no time at all. The best part about Nayad is the suits double as fitness attire. You can work out in these babies! I also love that it’s more ‘mom’ appropriate for this pool parties and beach days, but I don’t feel like I’m wearing mom clothes.
The creation process for each suit is incredible. You have multiple options for tops and bottoms, and an array of colors and patterns to choose from. I really enjoyed going through the process of creating a suit just for me.
I think this apparel is perfect for busy moms who like to spend time outdoors. I can imagine throwing my suit on and heading out for a hike or a swim with my family. I also love training in it during these warm summer months.
As a gift to you, Nayad is offering a 15% discount now through June 15th. Simply add the coupon code “getglutes” to your order and get the savings!
I mostly talk about family in relation to nutrition and fitness, but today I want to discuss another type of family health: financial health– more importantly, the financial security of your kids’ future. Sadly, money directly relates to our personal health. We stress about finances all the time, so taking steps to help prevent an overly stressful financial future for your kids will also give them a little more health security.
Josh and I were a tinge bit selfish with our money before having kids. Perhaps carefree is a better word. We’d dine out all the time, pay the bar tab for friends, hit the highway for impromptu trips, and let our bills linger until those pretty colored envelopes started showing up in the mail.
Everything changed when our daughter arrived. We had her future to worry about. She was going to college one day, and before then would need a car, a school wardrobe, heck, a stroller and crib for that matter. Our wallets tightened a bit after that positive plus sign appeared on the pregnancy test. Being young parents, we knew the value of hard work, but we hadn’t quite established a good savings plan when she was born. After our son was born, money got even tighter, and we also realized that we had to plan for our future in order for them to have a secure one.
All the college funds, car funds, and wedding funds won’t do a lick of good if one day they will have to take dear ol’ mom and dad in as they age. As parents it’s imperative to set aside funds for your own future—otherwise your kids will be footing the bill.
Here is a list of things we are doing to help our kids have more financial security as they grow and we age.
Retirement savings. It’s scary for us to think that our own parents are aging. We are as concerned about their future as we are the future of our kids. Eventually we all reach a point when we have to stop working, and it’s better to start preparing for this time from a young age. Teaching your kids about saving for the future should start as soon as they learn how to use money. They should know how much money it will take from the time they turn 20 to save $1 million by the age of 50. They should also know that by the time they are 50, $1 million dollars won’t go as far as they’d like to think. I wish I could convince my 20-year old self that my mom’s idea of putting away 10% of my income was a pretty smart one. Though it took me a few years to catch onto this, I’m glad I started in my 20’s and not in my 50’s.
Money matters. When my seven-year old gives a store clerk a $20 bill, he always gets excited for the change. He says to me, “I gave him a 20 dollars and he gave me back all of this money.” It’s hard to convince a kid that a handful of ones is far less than a $20 bill. But he is learning that if he wants something, he needs to save for it. Our lessons on financial stability should go beyond earning and saving. Kids should learn how to invest wisely, so it never hurts to open interest bearing accounts. If they can see how money grows when you leave it alone, they may avoid poor spending habits in the future.
Life insurance. This is always a dreaded process, but we always have to keep in mind that anything can happen to us at any given time. Life insurance is important for your children for so many reasons. If your primary provider suddenly dies, the bills don’t go away. Add in funeral costs, time away from work, and all the other stress—well, that’s just not something anyone needs in their lives. It’s a good thing to have when your kids are young, but also provides them peace of mind as they get older. You don’t want your kids to bear the burden of expenses if you pass away when they are just getting on their own two feet.
Long-term care. Someday we will get old. It’s true. Letting your spouse and kids know your wishes well in advance will save them some serious decision making in the future. Getting everything in place now will spare your family the worry in the future. If ever you’ve had to take care of an elderly family member when they could no longer care for themselves, then you know the importance of this process.
Love teaches value and respect. Of course, there is no greater gift you can give then love. Teaching your kids to value and respect their own lives and each other will help secure their future even more. It also reminds them they always have you to turn to, which makes a big difference on how confidently they go out into the world.