Whelp, it's still raining every day in Portland. What else is new, right?? The good news is, the temperatures are finally warming up, which means I've gotten to migrate outside more and more for my morning workouts. Its a nice change of pace from working out in the garage space. Doing cardio, especially, is so much more fun when I have a little space to run. Can you tell I'm having a little too much fun with this one? I know, I know, I'm such a nerd. Word.
Here is one of the outdoor workouts I did last week in my driveway that was HARD. Much harder than it looks. Aaaaaaand incorporates two new-to-me core exercises that I'm absolutely loving right now: the double crunch and the dolphin raise plank (descriptions below).
Double Crunch. This move is a combination of a traditional crunch and a reverse crunch. It's awesome because it works both the upper and lower abs. More bang for your buck. It looks like this:
Dolphin Raise Plank. One of its many names, anyway. In addition to working the core, you also get a lot of shoulder action with this one. Its definitely easier than than the double crunch, but effective in a different way. It looks like this:
I think this driveway workout is going to be filed in my favorites box because it had my heart rate through the roof and my abs burning like crazy. I have this weird thing about needing to be drenched in sweat at the end of a workout for me to feel like it was really effective. Which is why I'm not a yoga person, BTW. But this workout did deliver.
Hi friends! Hope everyone had a great weekend. I was out of town for a continuing education course over the past four days and didn't make it back until Sunday night, so some one-on-one time with Avery today made for a very happy Monday.
The course I took over the weekend was level II of the American Hippotherapy Association's Hippotherapy Treatment Principles. Our class was a mix of physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech-language therapists, and we spent 4 full days refining our skills in all things related to hippotherapy (if you're wondering what hippotherapy is all about, read this earlier blog post: www.bettysbalance.com/home/horses-kids-and-a-bit-about-hippotherapy) It was my favorite continuing education course so far. Typically, continuing education courses involve sitting in a classroom and listening to lectures, but this one looked more like this:
Give me horses over handbooks any day. I had never been a horse person before learning about hippotherapy as a PT treatment strategy, so this course was super helpful in boosting my horseman(woman?)ship skills.
There are SO many amazing things you can do with horses to help someone improve their strength, range of motion, posture, balance, speech production, etc. etc. etc., and this course got me all eager to get back to work and try the new things I learned with my kiddos. But I'll save that soapbox for another day...
On a completely separate note, I somehow managed to squeeze in a couple of workouts during my trip and wanted to share one ab workout that was particularly fun. It requires no equipment, since a closet-sized hotel gym was what I had to work with (to their credit, they did have a recumbent bike and a television, which with the addition of some wine sounds like a fantastic way to spend a kid-free evening). Here ya go:
Before I dive into the topic of BBG, I need to take a moment to share an amazing breakfast idea I ran across while scrolling through Facebook last night. Plain yogurt + vanilla flavored protein powder. It tastes like vanilla yogurt but with waaaaaay less sugar and waaaaaaaay more protein. I tried it this morning and it. is. SO. GOOD. I added banana and chia seeds to the mix too, and although it doesn't look particularly beautiful in the photo, please please try this if you're a yogurt lover. You'll never buy vanilla flavored yogurt again.
Ok, back to what I originally intended this post to be about - BBG. I guess I'm a little behind the times because I only heard about BBG a few months ago. In case you're in the same boat as me, BBG = Bikini Body Guide and it came out in 2012. It's a 12 week workout plan (there is also an accompanying 12 week nutrition plan you can buy), and its written by 25 year-old Australian personal trainer and fitness guru Kayla Itsines. Here is the website if you want to check it out: https://www.kaylaitsines.com/collections/guides. A friend of mine told me about it after she used it to get fit for her wedding. She took "before" and "after" photos using the BBG program, and her results were impressive. So I decided to buy the workout guide and give it a try.
The workouts in the guide are 28 minutes long and consist of high intensity resistance training. The nice thing is that they require minimal equipment and can be done at home or at the gym. I did them in my garage, although I had to be creative a few times since I didn't have an official workout bench (I used a sturdy step stool and occasionally our dining room bench....shhhh, don't tell my husband). I don't usually like workout programs/DVDs/videos, and honestly didn't think this one would keep me engaged for the whole 12 weeks. But it did. I actually finished the entire 12 week program today.
I failed to take a "before" photo, because whenever I've tried to start some exercise program or DVD I usually get bored and quit 3-4 weeks in. I wish I would have though, because I'm impressed with the results this program delivered. This is the first time in my life that my back and arm muscles are toned without having stepped foot inside a gym. Aaaannd my abs and lower body are more defined too. In a way, I'm not surprised, because each of the workouts in this program are HARD. I had sore muscles 90% of the time after doing a BBG workout. But I really did enjoy them. There is lots variety in the exercises, so I never ever felt like I had reached a plateau. Plus, I felt like the workouts were well designed to maximize muscle gains.
Now that I've finished BBG, I'm not quite sure where to take my fitness routine next. Get back into running? Train for a triathlon? Make up my own 12 week program? Any thoughts/ideas would be greatly appreciated!
It's Monday (again), which means my workout motivation was at an all-time high this morning. I've been on a HIIT routine for several weeks now where I focus on my upper body on Mondays, lower body on Wednesdays, and abs on Fridays. It's hard for me to stick to routines. It really is. I get bored so easily, and even though I know I need some consistency in my workouts to see results, I always crave exercise variety. Well, since I've been on my HIIT kick for 10 WEEKS now (which is a record for me), I decided to give myself a break today and come up with a fun total body workout instead of concentrating on arms, legs, or abs. It requires no equipment (except a timer) and incorporates a lot of variety to work every part of the body. Just the mix-up I needed.
Since I've been doing a lot of weight training/strength building, I've been trying to incorporate more protein into my diet. Especially because I'm a vegetarian. I normally eat a lot of dairy, nuts, and beans, but to kick things up a notch I've also started started adding protein shakes to my diet. No too surprisingly, it has made a difference in how I look and feel. When I drink a protein shake in the morning, I have more energy during the day. I feel less hungry before lunchtime, and I feel like my muscles recover more quickly after a hard workout. Adding the protein shake has also helped me build muscle after I felt like I had plateaued. I definitely notice more muscle definition since starting on the protein shakes. Makes sense right, since protein is made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks of muscle.
I've tried a bunch of different varieties in the past, but there are two brands that are my go-to favorites. The first - Bodylogix Natural Whey, which is an animal-based protein. Its delicious and doesn't taste chalky. Its natural with very few ingredients. And its very reasonably priced for the quality you get. Another bonus - it's cold-processed so that all the nutrients and immune factors are retained (a lot of protein powders are high-heat treated, which denatures the proteins and limits their bioavailability and immune-boosting qualities).
My other favorite is Purely Inspired organic protein powder, which is plant-based. I love the chocolate flavor in this variety. It tastes like a brownie milkshake. Bonus points - it's organic, affordable, and more nutrient-dense than the Bodylogix brand (fiber, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, etc). Aaaaaand there is no soy in this product. Whooop.
Disclosure: Betty's Balance is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
Ah, Monday. I tend to feel the most motivated on Mondays when it comes to exercise, which is why I typically tackle my least favorite workouts on Mondays - upper body. Allow me to explain. My favorite type of workout: lower body. There are so many cardio options you can add in when you work out your legs, so I always feel like I get the best bang for my buck with lower body workouts. Next on my list: abs. Because, who doesn't love a six pack? Last on my list: upper body. I struggle to find good bodyweight exercises to work my arms/upper body. There are only so many push-ups and tricep dips a girl can do before she gets bored. And I get bored quickly. One solution I've found - circuit workouts. They are the answer to all my of low motivation, exercise burn-out, and upper body strength training woes. The fast pace and variety of a circuit workout always keeps me energized and engaged. I get a good sweat going and I'm usually done in 30 minutes or less. I put together an upper body circuit over the weekend that was actually (sort of) fun, and of course included push-ups and tricep dips. Here it is:
The other solution I've found to beat my upper body blues is a few pieces of exercise equipment. I'm all about minimalism when it comes to working out, but I have to admit that having some dumbbells and a medicine ball adds variety to my exercise regimen and helps keep me motivated. Okay, okay, I have a jump rope too. And a step stool. But THATS IT.
Hi friends! We've had a super busy week with lots of family in town and Avery's 2nd birthday. I plan on writing up a post about her birthday party when I get some time, but for now, I just wanted to pop in and share a fun new workout I put together over the weekend. It requires no equipment and incorporates a little bit of everything - cardio, lower body, upper body, and abs. I sped through this workout in about 20 minutes, taking a rest break only between the two pyramid sets. It's a sweaty one!
It has been FRIGID around here over the past few days. Like bitter, bone chilling cold. It's weird because when we lived in Alaska, I could easily go for a hike in 0-10 degree weather and be just fine. But here in Oregon, temperatures in the teens and twenties somehow feel much colder. Maybe the moisture content in the air is different? I don't know. All I know is I have been freeeeezing over the past few days. I've been drinking hot chocolate like it's my 9-5 and have had zero motivation to get outside for a workout. I think the only thing that inspired me to take off my fuzzy socks and get some exercise this week was knowing that it would warm me up. I ended up doing a couple of HIIT workouts in the garage, my favorite of which I posted below (as a winter themed graphic, naturally).
Once I was all warmed up from and had my post-exercise endorphins on board, I started reminiscing about how this cold spell makes me miss Alaska. It was actually two years ago, right around this time, that we saw the most incredible northern lights display up there. It was a very cold, clear night. Just a few days before Avery was born. We got a text from a friend telling us that the northern lights were out, so we headed outside at 3 am to check it out. We stayed out for over an hour just watching them dance around. Hands down, one of the top 5 most amazing things I've seen in my life. Here are a few photos we captured that night:
It was most definitely worth braving the sub-zero temperatures. Now if only Oregon offered some kind of reward for this bitter cold we're having...(cue snow dance)
It's been in the 20s and 30s over the past couple of weeks, so today's high of 45 degrees felt almost tropical in comparison. Almost. It necessitated outdoor activitiy nonetheless. Avery and I started our day by riding the bus to the grocery store. For my 2 year old, riding the bus is equivalent to riding the best roller coaster at Disneyland. While eating ice cream. With fireworks going off in the background. And glitter falling from the sky.
I know she doesn't seem as excited in this photo as I made it sound, but I chose to post this one because at this particiular moment, Avery was staring at the bus driver and every once in a while would turn and eagerly ask me when he was going to say "move on back" (Wheels on the Bus reference....anyone....?) We had a blast, and by the time we got back home, she was more than ready for her nap. I took advantage of the "warm" weather and did an outdoor workout while she slept.
As for my December photo challenge, here is a recap of last week:
Superset workouts have been my jam lately. What is a superset you ask? By definition, a superset is completing two exercises in a row without rest. There are different types of supersets, like those targeting the same muscle groups, those targeting opposing muscle groups, and those that involve exercises targeting completely different muscle groups. Supersets are commonly used in bodybuilding to maximize muscle gains. Like HIIT workouts, they also incorporate short bursts of high intensity exercise, but their focus is more on muscle strengthening.
The gym is a great place to do supersets because weights are a key component in strength training. That being said, you can also use your body weight pretty effectively for strength training. I've been experimenting a lot with bodyweight supersets at home, and came up with the workout below that requires no equipment.
This particular workout targets the same muscle groups, so you will definitely feel the burn. It took me about 20 minutes to get through the whole thing. Next time, if I'm feeling super ambitious, I'll try for 2 rounds. Enjoy!
Hey all, and happy Monday! I have a few spare minutes before work today during which I wanted to share my quick workout from last night. I have to be honest in that over the holiday weekend, I failed to exercise AT ALL. When Sunday night rolled around, I really didn't want to admit to myself that I had gone 5 days without doing anything more active than chasing Avery in circles around the couch (but really that should count as a workout). At the same time, I was still feeling pretty sluggish after a weekend full of indulgences. What I finally found my peace in was putting together a quick ab workout, which mostly involved lying on the floor but still had me working up a sweat. Aaaaaand my abs are sore this morning!
I’m Betty and I live in the beautiful pacific northwest. I'm a mommy. Vegetarian. Wife to a meatatarian. Pediatric physical therapist. Outdoor enthusiast. Enjoyer of fitness/healthy living. Even bigger enjoyer wine and chocolate lava cake. And hoping to find some balance between it all.