How is it mid-July already?! I think it's the business of the summer season that makes it feel like it always flies by so fast. Here's of glimpse of what we've managed to squeeze into just the month of July so far...
No doubt that all the summer fun has gotten us a little behind in other areas of life. The laundry is piled up 3 stories high. Yard work has taken a backseat. I haven't updated this blog since the end of June. Exercise has even fallen to the wayside. But ya know what? I'm beyond ok with all of that. I've been making a conscious effort to relax and go with the flow this summer, and I have to say it's been awesome.
When I have found time to get a workout in here and there, I've opted for either outdoor runs or fast-paced circuit workouts that I can finish in half an hour or less. This morning before Avery and Brandon woke up, I threw together a quick core circuit using my 10 pound medicine ball. It took me about 20 minutes but really did get my abs burning. Although this kind of workout is something I'd normally tack on to the end of a run, it was perfect for the type of get-up-and go morning before another day of summer fun. We are off to the farmer's market this morning, and then going for a swim later this afternoon. Happy Saturday everyone!
1. Family movie night
You guys. Friday night was the FIRST TIME EVER that Avery sat through (most of) a movie. We enjoyed over an hour of snuggles in our jammies with plenty of popcorn and blankets. It was amazing. Oh, and the movie was Moana. We all loved it.
2. New sandals
Every time I score an awesome coupon, I waste no time in using it. Enter DSW coupon for $10 off any $30 purchase. I used it this past weekend to buy my first pair of sandals for the season. How cute are these??
3. Oaks Park
For those of you non-Oregonians, Oaks Park is a small but charming amusement park near downtown Portland. It's one of the oldest amusement parks in the country, so you get to enjoy classics like an old carousel and a roller skating rink. We spent a fun-filled Saturday afternoon here. Avery was weary about the rides at first, but after a few rounds we couldn't pull her off the kiddie rides. The nice thing was that it wasn't crowded at all, so she got to stay on the rides round after round after round after round.....
4. Imaginative play
My two-year old is the queen of imaginative play, and I always have a blast participating in the creative games she comes up with. On Sunday evening during dinner, she lined her spaghetti up around her high chair tray and pretended that each strand of spaghetti was a snake. Each snake was affectionately named "Jelly." The Jellys were napping, so we had to be super quiet, but one by one, we snuck up on them and ate them as they slept. Avery burst into a giggle fit each time we ate a Jelly. These kinds of moments with my munchkin are so precious to me.
5. A new no-equipment workout
As I was lying in bed Sunday night, I was conjuring up ideas for my Monday morning workout. I wanted some simple bodyweight exercises that I could do in my garage before Avery woke up, so I came up with the circuit workout below. It really kicked my butt both cardio and strength wise, which made it a winner in my book and worthy of sharing. Here ya go:
Let's talk about fitness when you have a toddler. Although chasing a 2 year-old around is exercise in its own right, I'm the kind of person who need my regular workouts on my time to keep me sharp both physically and mentally. This is why I wake up at the crack of dawn, week after week, to get in a good sweat session before Avery and Brandon wake up. This little bit of morning "me time" always sets a good tone for my day. However. Having a toddler means that NOTHING is absolute. There are days when Avery decides its time to party at 5 am. Or nights when she keeps us up way past our bedtime. Or nights when she sleeps between us and none of us get much shut eye. And then my morning workouts are a bust.
If I still want to get some exercise on the days when my morning workout plan fails, it has to be with Avery by my side. Of course, workouts with Avery are much less intense and include lots of potty, snack, play, and snuggle breaks. But, I have to admit, they are a fun change of pace every now and again. One of my favorite ways to workout with Avery is to put on Toddler Dance Radio (her favorite Pandora station) and have a jam session. We have a dance party warm-up together, and then she continues to dance/sing/totally ignore the music and do something else while I exercise. I like to do one exercise or exercise set per song - its a manageable length because kids songs are typically shorter than "adult" songs. I put together a sample workout to share with you guys below. Enjoy and happy Monday (:
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)
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.