This is a lot easier said than done, I know. With all the "motivational" things we see on social media like:
All the work you do in the gym is great, but what you need to remember is that the 45 minutes you spent working out is not when your body gets stronger. Seriously, it's not. Those 45 minutes told your body what to do, but WHEN it happens is way after those 45 minutes are up. Your body needs to recharge. It needs to sleep. It needs to leisurely walk. It needs to stretch and regain mobility. All these things that happen outside the gym are what let your body get ready for next time so you can be more agile, faster and stronger.
If you don't give your body time to repair, then you'll be in the second camp from above = on the verge of sabotage. I've seen it many times before from training clients... People get super motivated at the beginning and take on too much at once. They feel great (at first) but eventually get burnt out and give up completely because they are so tired, sore and grumpy. If they listened to their body's needs and took a break, they would have been able to continue.
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so you know you need to rest, but when?
Here's the hard part. Listening... My rest days are never the same day each week, it always varies depending on what I've done in the week, what is on my to-do list, and where my head is.
What I advise you to do is use these two general rules of thumb:
Need even more help listening to your body? Check out my confidence coaching plan, it helps you gain body confidence through working out, but also through treating rest as a way to honor your body!
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Sometimes, you just need a crunchy snack... I am a big chip lover... and popcorn lover... really I love anything salty. If you're like me, chips are a HARD thing to say no to, especially when its summer time and the grill is fired up! Chips are a perfect side to your awesome grilled meats and veggies.
What are you to do though? Buy the conventional chips that have hydrogenated and inflammatory oils?
NOPE. Get on Amazon and buy yourself some GOOD snacks, in bulk, so you never get tempted to buy the "bad stuff"! Below are my top six snack items that I feel CONFIDENT eating on a regular (very regular) basis! The first three are chips, just like discussed above. The last three are the other things I order on auto ship just because I love them so much!
My favorite chips (in no particular order)...
The non-chip snacks I buy on auto-ship...
that's it! did I miss anything other good snacks out there? let me know in the comments!
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yeah, pushups are hard.
Yup, they're hard. Not denying that at all. BUT, pushups are a critical part of building strength when done correctly. Watch this video first, then read on for a detailed explanation.
So... what's going on here? First, any pushup should start out in a proper plank. (read more about setting up a proper plank HERE). Think about it, a pushup is really just a moving plank. The goal is to keep your body nice and tight throughout the whole movement, with only your arms and shoulders moving.
To do this, start with your hands directly under your shoulders. If you are performing your pushup from your knees, that same rule still applies. Think about it this way, the more centered your hands are under your shoulders, the better they will be able to push your body away from them. If you are performing your pushup from a bench or the wall, again keep your hands as directly under your shoulders as possible.
See how my elbows stay close to my sides? Ideally, your arms should be at a 30 degree angle to your body. This means that your elbows are NOT splayed out to the sides and that your fingertips are NOT pointing towards each other. Your hands can turn in slightly, but just enough to mimic the 30 degree angle that your arms make. At first, this might seem like your arms are way too close to you, but I promise this will save your shoulders in the long run! Learn how to do them well NOW, before you engrain bad habits.
The other thing to remember is that your hips should not fall down and they should not fly high. Keep them in the same position you started your plank in. If you notice your hips shifting up or down, it's time to stop, you're done with your reps. At this point you can either take a break and try another set, or you can try an easier variation of a pushup.
my biggest piece of advice:
It was about a $300 investment up front, and it was a pain to get it into our basement because of our skinny stairs, but it was totally worth it. We even loved it so much that we moved it to our next house!
how to organize your deep freezer
Let me preface this organization part by stating that our deep freezer is ONLY used for meat. Yes, only meat. Yes, we DO have that much meat to store. Remember how I said that I am an avid Costco shopper and have a hunter husband? Well, in addition to those two budget friendly meat sources, we also belong to a few meat CSAs. In my opinion, buying meat in bulk from a CSA is the absolute BEST option when it comes to getting high quality meat that doesn't break the bank. By buying directly from the farmer, you avoid the middle man. Buy buying in bulk you save even more money. By buying local, you're helping out a small business and doing you part to make a difference in the world. You can read more about the number crunching I did about CSAs in this article.
SO, the ability to BUY AND STORE MEAT IN BULK is why a deep freezer is so life changing.
Maybe this will sound like you: You are trying to eat healthy, so your meals are centered around a protein, vegetable and/or starch. Meat is the most expensive part of your meal, so it seems like it's the hardest thing to keep on hand, especially when you are limited to only a small freezer. You plan your meals based off what meat you buy at the store every single week, maybe even multiple times a week. You worry about those small sized packages going bad in the fridge if your social plans change throughout the week (like going out to eat unexpectedly), etc. Maybe you can store some bulk items in your small freezer, but you quickly run out of space and get frustrated.
With a deep freezer, all you would need to do is take a trip down to the basement (or wherever you put it) and it's like you have a fully stocked meat counter at your fingertips. Sound nice? I promise, the investment up front will pay off in the long run both financially and mentally.
On to the organization part. Our deep freezer is 7.0 cubic feet... That's BIG. Luckily, it came with two baskets that slide across the top rail. These baskets were a big selling point for the freezer because it helps to keep all the small items from falling down into the depths of the freezer. I will say though, my freezer is not the best organized at the moment and some extra bins would be nice! Maybe that will be another blog post some day? I think it will!
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Currently, I store small items in the two sliding bins. One contains breakfast meats (bacon from Costco, sausage from CSAs) and smaller cuts from our CSA, while the other contains smaller cuts of meat that I have portioned out on my own (either from CSAs or Costco). The bottom of the freezer is where things are currently the most disorganized and where I do need to improve! What is down at the bottom is venison (from my husband hunting), large cuts from our CSA, and bags of seafood from Costco. Ideally, I would have shallow stacking bins that I could pull out easily and see my entire stock. But like I said, that organization overhaul will be a post for another time!
If you struggle to eat healthy because you feel like time is working against you and that making multiple trips to the store in a week is just NOT convenient (it's not, no shame there) then I strongly urge you to consider a deep freezer BECAUSE:
Who doesn't want all those things? Do you already have and love your deep freezer? Comment below if you have any organization tips!
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1. get in the zone
The first thing you need to do is accept the fact that this might be a very big change for you and your family. Emptying out a fridge and only keeping the good stuff is hard and can be emotional. So, I ask you to turn up your favorite music and plan at least half a day to embark on this journey and just get excited! Yes... cleaning out the fridge is a lot of work, but it will be so worth it in the end! Being an appliance we see and use multiple times a day, it’s easy to overlook what piles up in it and just let it become the norm.
So, maybe this idea of clean eating is new to you, maybe it’s not. Either way, the health benefits you will gain from it cannot be found in any other health habit.
2. empty it out
Out with the old and in with the new right? You can’t start fresh without seeing all you have to work with. A lot of times, we get frustrated with our fridges because they just seem to fill up so fast! The reality is, they are probably just poorly organized and full of things we don’t need...
I am probably the biggest anti-food-waster out there, it makes me physically hurt to throw out food, but sometimes, it just has to happen. If you’re like me, ask yourself something like this: “would I rather have a half full jar of store bought Alfredo sauce OR space to fit a block of grass fed butter?” I think you know the answer to that one.
While you are emptying out the fridge, make two piles on your counter:
1. Food that came from grocery store aisles
2. Food that came from grocery store perimeter
That's it for now, leave the food on the counter and proceed to step 3!
3. start fresh
Now that your fridge is totally empty, it's time to deep clean. You don't want to put your sorted and nice fresh food in a dingy fridge right? Here's some tips to make that process suck a little less:
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Now that the interior of your fridge is clean and your bins are drying in the sun, it's time to tackle those piles of food. You currently have three piles (food from grocery store aisles, food from the perimeter, and leftovers) and it's time to refine those further.
Before we begin, think about the real purpose of a fridge: it keeps food with a short shelf life COLD. Again, it's for food with a SHORT shelf life. Haven't we heard the advice of staying at the perimeter of the grocery store while we shop? All the foods at the perimeter NEED the fridge right off the bat right? The following organization will help to solidify this notion:
Now that you are left with only the “good food”, it’s time to organize so that you can make the most of it! You want your fridge to be visually pleasing so that when you open it up, you’re not left feeling overwhelmed. I organize my fridge similar to how a grocery store is organized, and these five categories are: PRODUCE, “DAIRY”, DRINKS, LEFTOVERS and “CONDIMENTS”. Each category has its own space and I try to keep similar shapes of items together too. I encourage you to stick to these categories as best you can and I will explain the quotes later. Let’s start from the bottom of the fridge and work up.
This is the fun part! Take inventory of what you have and plan a few meals using what is already in your fridge. If there is anything else you need, buy it and take a second to see if there are ways to make some parts from scratch, like sauces or sides. If that is overwhelming, just remember that the more you cook, the better you get!
what about the freezer?
Congratulations, you tackled your fridge!!! Freezers are just as important, so stay tuned next week for the next part of this post!
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weights are heavy... and expensive...
You've probably seen all the other pins on Pinterest talking about building a home gym with "no weights", "minimal equipment", etc... But what if you LIKE using the big stuff? This is the exact issue I had. Weights are fun, but because they are heavy they are also pricey. I started out with all the "typical", "cheap" things that you see on those Pinterest lists like a mat, stability ball, mini bands, etc. But I knew deep down that I NEEDED more.
The list below shows the exact order I purchased things and the prices I paid!
Dumbbells were priority number one for me, and they were one of the most intimidating purchases too because of the expense and because there's just so many types! To not clutter our basement, I decided to find a set of adjustable dumbbells. To not break the bank, I also decided to buy these dumbbells USED because really, a weight is a weight. It doesn't matter if it's scuffed, rusty etc, all it's doing is weighing you down. On average, you will pay AT LEAST a dollar a pound for the most basic dumbbells (new), but when buying them used, I was able to get about 200 lbs of weight for only $100. I found this deal by scouring Craigslist (Facebook marketplace didn't exist back then) until I finally found a used set of dumbbells really similar to these. Once I brought those home, I thought I would be set for awhile, until I decided to bench press with them.
At first, I thought I could get away with benching on my stability ball, but there was just no way for me to keep my neck in a comfortable position for that long. So... next on my list was a flat weight bench. I am pretty sure I tried to find a bench like this on Craigslist, but when I couldn't find anything used, I went to Amazon. I still have this bench today and it works great, but every so often I do need to retighten the bolts.
3. BARBELL (#1)
I love barbells. Working with them makes you feel like a bad ass, and they are just so convenient when you want to pick up heavy stuff like I was used to doing. My college gym had beautiful Olympic bars, plates and racks and I had no idea that there was any other type. I looked up these Olympic barbells (2" diameter on the ends) online and was shocked by their price. So, I then discovered standard bars and plates (1" diameter on the ends). These bars would be a perfect fit for the weight plates that I already had from my adjustable dumbbells, so I decided to buy a bar for deadlifting. The bar I chose was the cheapest I could find and also the shortest (in order to save space).
4. SQUAT RACK
So I could bench, I could deadlift, I could do any accessory work I wanted with dumbbells, but I couldn't really squat like I wanted to. Sure I could put dumbbells up on my shoulders, do goblet squats, or overhead press the bar up on my shoulders, but my shoulders then limited how much weight I could use. This dilemma really got to me (to the point where I just couldn't take it anymore) about 3 months after buying my dumbbells and so my quest started for a rack. This was definitely going to be my biggest purchase, so I made sure to do my research. I didn't need anything fancy, but I wanted something that would keep me SAFE. To me, that meant a power rack (four corners that "box" you in) rather than just a squat rack (only two supports for the barbell). At the time I purchased my rack, it was NOT available on Amazon, but here it is now, even with free shipping (which I didn't get 5 years ago). This specific power rack from Titan Fitness was easy to assemble and HEAVY, a great safety feature. It has a pull up bar, safeties, and was easy to assemble for my husband and I. I have even taken this rack apart and moved it to a new basement, and we had no issues at all!
This was definitely the biggest purchase, but it was also the most useful and paid for itself easily. Right now you can get it for $335, so let's do the math. At the time I am writing this article, Goole says that the average cost for a gym membership is $58 per month.
$335 / $58 = 5.77 months. Say what?
You can make up the cost of that squat rack in 6 months??? Even if you live somewhere that a gym membership is HALF that, you could still make up the cost of the squat rack in a year. And who knows, maybe you can even find a used power rack near you for cheaper!
5. BARBELL (#2)
Remember how I bought a short barbell in step 3 to save space? This decision bit me in the butt really... Please keep in mind that you need a 7' barbell (not 6') in order to make it span the width of a squat or power rack. This is the exact reason I now have two barbells (this is the 7' bar I bought). One stays on the floor for deadlifts, and one stays in my power rack for benching and squatting.
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6. PULL-UP BANDS
Without an assisted pull up machine, how was I supposed to work up to a full pull up? Bands. Simple as that! Again, I did my research on these bands and based off my bodyweight (around 140 lbs) and ability, I decided on a green, purple and red band. These are way cheaper than an assisted pull up machine right???
7. SUSPENSION TRAINER
Notice how I didn't say TRX here? That's because I was NOT going to pay the price for a name brand system. Although the exact brand I have is not available on Amazon anymore, there's lots of great options that my clients have found, like this one specifically (same price as what I paid for mine, and way cheaper than a $200 TRX!)
8. BOSU BALL
At this point in my fitness journey, I knew I was lacking in the area of stability (because I was going through my personal training certification)... Once I learned what a bosu ball is and learned how they can change almost any exercise and turn it into something totally new, I was sold! It is now one of my favorite pieces, even more used than my stability ball!
Total damage (over the span of 9 months or so) = $1,200
Let's go back to that calculation from before. If Google says that the average gym membership is $58 a month...
$1,200 / $58 = 20.7 months to make up your cost.
That's under two years! I bet that you have been lifting in a gym for at least 6 months if you're reading this, so you're a quarter of the way there! Wouldn't your money be spent in a better place (like your own home) rather than a gym?
Now I am not going to lie and say that I do not want anything else for my home gym... In fact, I have upgraded my dumbbells (but I still bought them used through Facebook marketplace!), and I do dream of buying Olympic barbells and plates... But until that day comes, I am perfectly happy with the home gym I created because it has given me all the tools I need to progress in my fitness journey!
Do you have any specific things you love in your home gym? Leave me a comment and let me know!
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1. bent knees
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3. "regular" side plank
yes, you CAN use all these variations, no matter your skill level!
Even though I can do the hardest variation of side plank (not for long though...), that does NOT mean that it is the only variation I perform! The way I determine which variation I use is by figuring out how long I want to hold side plank. Do I want to hold it for 2 min? 1 min? Only 30 sec? Basically, the longer I want to hold plank, the easier variation I use and vise versa. You can read more about that theory here and you apply the theory by using these workout cycles to build your strength each week!
Unfortunately, the wedding business is based a LOT on appearances. One of the first appointments you booked was for dress shopping, you've spent hours picking out flowers, you made a seating chart that lets everyone have a good time, you schedule a trial run for your hair and makeup because a day like this just can't be left to chance, and on top of all that, you hired a great (but probably expensive) photographer to document every single moment of the day despite being totally ready for it or not... So after all of that, where do YOUR emotions fit in to all of this?
try to change your mindset.
Normally, your emotions are sent way down to the bottom of the list, somewhere under stuffing invitation envelopes... I urge you to remember something during all this planning:
when it comes down to it, you and your spouse are the only ones that matter.
I know you have heard this advice before, but I am going to say it again to help it sink in: YOU AND YOUR SPOUSE TO BE ARE THE ONLY ONES THAT MATTER. No one else will remember the day like you two do. No one else will feel the way that you two will. No one else matters. I mean really, does your "spouse to be" really care if you weigh a couple pounds more than you wanted to? I sure hope not. Hopefully, what really matters to them is that you feel confident on that big day, and that you are ready to start your life with them.
how do you achieve that?
By working out. Wait, what? I know, it seems like this goes against my previous advice of not caring how you look, but I did say that I want you to FEEL good, right? Working out releases happy hormones (and "happy people just DON'T kill their husbands" - thank you Elle Woods). Happy people GLOW on their wedding day. Happy people float down that aisle knowing that they look awesome, they feel awesome, and that they have an awesome person waiting for them at the end of that aisle. So yes, all that is how a good workout plan can make or break your wedding prep.
I lifted weights even before I got engaged, so this wasn't totally new to me, but I did step up my game once I got that engagement ring. I knew lifting weights made me feel good, I knew it would help me fill out the curves of my dress and I knew it would make me feel confident on that big day. So now is when I share the skills I learned with you.
I am a big believer in workouts that should fit your schedule (and the rest of your wedding planning), so what you need to think about is:
How many days a week can you devote to lifting weights amidst all the wedding planning: 2 days, or 3 days?
Once you think that through, click the buttons below to purchase either the 2 or 3 day plan. BOTH plans last three months which is plenty of time to make a difference in both your appearance and confidence level for that big day! Your workout plan will change each week and you will cycle through 2 different "phases" of exercises, each phase lasting 6 weeks for a total of 12 weeks (3 months). These phases come straight from my tried and true workout cycles but are offered to you at a discounted rate ($10 - $15 off) because we are preparing for your wedding, think of it as my wedding gift to you!
Upon purchase, you will receive an instant download (mobile friendly so you can take it with you to the gym) with all your workouts complete with detailed descriptions of every exercise you will perform. It doesn't stop there, purchasing this special wedding prep package comes with access to me and my advice! Send me an email whenever you need it if you're stuck, confused, or just need a pep talk, I'm here for you during this major step in your life! Want even more info about the plans? Click here.
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why not every day?
Yes, I know, hearing anything that talks about "muscle confusion" seems like a great idea and the best way to get your body to respond. But is there such a thing as too much muscle confusion? YES. Think about it this way: if you performed all new exercises EVERY SINGLE DAY, wouldn't you get frustrated when each exercise felt like a new skill to master? Wouldn't you like to go to the gym knowing that you have good form on at least some of the exercises in your routine? I know I do... AND, let's take a second to talk about soreness. You know how sore you get after doing a new exercise for the first time? Do you REALLY want to be that immobile every day of your life? NOPE.
So if we aren't going to change things up every day, how do we know when to change things? It's a fine line here, because you want to change things the least amount of times you can WHILE STILL challenging your body. So:
why not every 3 months?
Every 3 months seems like it would be a good idea, because you would give your body plenty of time to master a movement, but honestly, your body is WAY smarter than that. 3 months is a long time to do the same thing over and over and I promise that your body will get bored and plateau! No one wants a plateau.
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why not every month?
Yes, your body IS amazingly capable of adapting, but one month doesn't give it that much time to master something. Think about it, if you perform a two day split routine for 4 weeks, you are only performing each exercise 4 times before you move on to new exercises. It sure takes me longer than 4 tries to learn something new!
the "perfect" number:
This leaves us with the middle ground... somewhere between 4 weeks and 12 weeks. Let's continue with our example from above: if you perform that two day split for 6-8 weeks, you get 6-8 days to master each exercise! That's plenty of time to progress.
What about getting bored? The longer you perform a workout, the more likely you will get bored. One way to eliminate that is by performing the same exercises in different ways throughout your routine. This is the exact reason I designed my workout cycles to progress like this. Each of your 6 weeks contains the same exercises, but each week has a slightly different goal. If that kind of layout sounds appealing to you, take a second to look more in depth look at how my plans are organized here!
Alright, you are now READY to tackle your workout routine with CONFIDENCE. Go forth and LIFT YOUR LIFE!
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Some terminology to note before reading:
PULLING - any movement that pulls a weight towards your body (deadlift, row, etc)
PUSHING - any movement that pushes a weight away from your body (bench, squat, etc)
1. "micro" gloves
3. extra pulling grip
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2 things to note:
how to use these in YOUR workout routine
My general guidelines are:
Even though I give these guidelines, EVERYONE is different. What might feel good to one person might feel bad for the next. I happen to have a client who has tried a mixed grip and Versa Gripps on her heavy deadlifts and doesn't like either! Do whatever feels best for you, these are just tips to help you find that!
What types of gloves/straps do you like? Let me know by leaving a comment!
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My name is Laura and I am a holistically minded personal trainer and confidence coach.
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Although I am a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine and write to the best of my knowledge on fitness, nutrition and lifestyle practices, I cannot be made liable to know all information on a particular subject. Knowledge gained through this blog is to be used at your own risk and all lifestyle changes should be discussed with a doctor before starting.
I am also a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. I do receive a small reimbursement for sales made through the links provided on my blog.