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Fitness Friday: Fun Ab Exercises

Welcome to another edition of Fitness Friday!

I’m not sure about you guys, but I reeeeally dislike doing ab work. I don’t have the personal motivation to stick it through a long plank. I don’t like taking a break during my heart-pumping workout to lay down on a mat. I justify skipping ab work all the time because I’m “bracing my core” during all my other exercises.

Truth is, yes, we work our core in almost every exercise we do. But that alone is not enough. Core strength is imperative to everyday movement. A weak core can lead to a slew of pains and injuries in your back. I’m the kind of trainer who will tell you crunches are lame, but that doesn’t mean we should skip out on the core work all together.

The following are a list of some of my favourite core exercises. They’re the few that motivate me enough to focus on my tummy. And when done properly, it hurts to laugh the next day. The true sign of a good ab workout ;)

 

Diagonal Woodchop

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Start holding a medicine ball or dumbbell (5-15 lbs). Come down into a partial squat, bring the weight to one side like you’re picking something up. The straighten up and push the weight above your head on the other side. Really exaggerate the movements to get the full benefit of the exercise.

 

Sit Up on Ball

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Sit on the edge of the ball with your feet planted on the ground. Let your spine fall over the ball, and pull yourself up using your abs. Try not to let the ball roll underneath you. As this gets easier, you can hold a plate or medicine ball at your chest or above the head.

 

Reverse Crunch

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Lay on the floor with your arms to your sides. Bring your feet above your body, with a slight bend to the knee. Using your abs, lift your hips toward the sky. Try not to tense up your neck and shoulders and don’t use force to get your hips up. As this gets easier, you can try doing it on a decline bench.

 

Prone Jackknife

 

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With your feet on top of a ball and hands under your shoulders, roll your feet in toward your chest. Try to keep your hips down and control with your abs.

 

Ball Pike

 

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A step up from the prone jackknife. Start in the same position, but bring your hips up in the air and toes on the ball. This one is hardcore!

 

 Russian Twist

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Take a seat with your feet on the floor and slight bend to the knee. Keeping your back straight, lean back bringing your torso to about 45 degrees. Hold your arms straight out in front of your chest (better with a weight like a dumbbell or ball) and twist your torso side to side. Try not to move your arms too much and keep the twist solely in your core. Make it harder by lifting your feet off the floor and/or sitting on the round part of a bosu ball.

 

Boat Pose

 

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When I don’t feel like doing a plank, I do a boat pose to get my isometric core work in. Take on a similar position to the Russian twist, leaning back with a straight torso and slightly behind your sit bones. To begin, keep your knees at 90 degrees and shins parallel to the floor. Once you master that, bring your legs straight out like in the picture. Want to make it even harder? Get out that bosu ball!

 

Hanging Leg Raises

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One of the hardest ones, but amazing once you master it! You can usually find horizontal bars on the cable machines at the gym. For a beginner, start by bending your knees toward your chest. Straighten your legs once you have that down, stopping once they’re parallel to the floor. Once you have that mastered, you can bring them all the way up like in the picture!

 

As always, there are tons more ab exercises to do. This is just a handy list of the ones I find to be:
1) effective
2) fun!

Just don’t watch any funny movies after ;)

 

Question of the Day: What’s your favourite ab exercise?

The Job Collector

Please, do not adjust your monitors.

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Yes, I know it is Thursday and not Waffle Wednesday. But some weeks, one day of celebration is just not enough.

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Same protein waffle recipe as yesterday. But today topped with Lori’s buckwheat honey marshmallow fluff and almond butter mixed with syrup. 

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So much decadence for 9 in the morning. I almost couldn’t handle it. But then I got a grip on myself and gobbled it all up :)

Other wonderful eats from the day included a homemade shrimp burger. I remember seeing shrimp burgers on the menu of a burger place in Calgary. I desperately wanted to try it, but knew that when in Calgary, you eat the beef. Needless to say, the idea of a shrimp patty has been teasing my taste buds ever since.

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Started with a dozen large raw shrimp (bought frozen then defrosted). Cut up small then mixed in:

  • 1 tbsp bread crumbs (I used a smashed up rye cracker)
  • 1 tbsp egg whites
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise (Yes a whole tablespoon. Do it.)
  • Pinch dried garlic
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • Pinch black pepper

It’s not a sticky mixture like beef or turkey burgers. Very wet and sloppy because shrimp is so, well, wet. I plopped it on my George Foreman grill, but you could also put it in a frying pan or the oven. Just make sure it’s at a low temp and as time to cook on one side so it doesn’t crumble when you try to flip it over.

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Makes one large patty. Eaten on an english muffin with spinach, red onion, ketchup and mustard.

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Ohmy. It was goooood. The mayo in the mix is what really made it tasty. I have a feeling my taste buds will be wanting this more often!

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On the side I had some of my microwave sweet potato chips. All you do is slice up a sweet tater real thin, spread it out on a plate, season, and nuke for a ludicrous amount of time. For these, I microwaved them for 10 minutes, flipping halfway through. Once cooled, they get crunchy like a chip!

 

While not eating today, I was also exercising. Almost done the first week of my new lifting split and I really like it! My body was completely hammered after a week off exercise. Major DOMS after my first couple days. Even from just doing sprints on the elliptical! Anyways, if you’re curious, here is what my Shoulder/Abs workout looked like today:

Warm-up: 5 minutes walking on the treadmill + 1 mile run

Straight sets:
Arnold press @ 10 lbs x 15
                         15 lbs x 10
                         20 lbs x 5
                         10 lbs x 10

Alternating sets (x3):
Cable lateral raise @ 2.5 lbs x 12
Cable horizontal woodchop @ 12.5 lbs x 12

Superset (x3):
Mountain climber x 60 sec
Plank ups x 10

Superset (x3):
Russian twist on bosu 6lbs x 30
Plank on bosu x 60 sec

Superset (x3):
Squat with front raise x 20 (holding swiss ball)
Prone jackknife x15

Cool-down: 1 mile run + 5 minutes walking

 

That opening press set killed my shoulders. It was all downhill from there ;) And in case you can’t tell, I hate doing crunches. Give me a plank any day!

 

Kind of ironic that I just started myself on a weight lifting focused workout routine, as I suspect I may now be doing a lot more running!

You see, I got a part-time job! At a running store!!

Even though I am a full-time personal trainer, I still don’t work the usual 8 hours a day. My client base is still increasing, but I am finding myself with a lot of down time. Especially on weekends. So I’ll be selling running shoes, clothing, gadgets and apparel to Toronto runners in my spare time. The extra money will be great and I’m really looking forward to meeting some more fitness-minded folk! They also do a run club and running clinics that I’ll probably start participating in as well. I’m pretty stoked about the employee discount. I’m desperate for a new pair of running shoes!

I’d just like to say, as for my full-time job of training, I am loving it. I’m to the point now where I’m starting to see results with my clients (one guy has already dropped 8% body fat with me!) and it is so rewarding. Not to mention, I’ve already had a few clients renew training packages with me, so it’s nice to know they like and respect me enough to want to keep working with me!

Now I am off to pack! I’m heading to Buffalo, NY for weekend with some friends. A special edition Fitness Friday post will be going up, but it will have to last you until I’m back on Sunday. Have a great weekend everyone! xo

Flashback Friday!! “Feelin’ Irie Mon”

Hello!! So it seems most of you are creatures of habit. I was actually surprised!! I encourage you to go do something spontaneous!

For the first time ever, I contemplated staying in bed instead of going to the gym this morning. But I was already awake, and going back to sleep wouldn’t have guaranteed me all that much extra sleep in the long-run. Tonight I’ll just get a solid 8 hours.

Here’s how it went down:

Elliptical 20 min:

Minutes Level
3 10
2 12
1 16
2 13
1 17
2 14
1 18
2 14
1 17
2 13
1 16
2 12

Lower body:

Exercise Sets Weight Reps
Barbell Squat 3 55 lbs 12
Static Lunge 3 15 lbs ea 12
Single Leg Romanian Deadlift 3 15 lbs ea 12

Abs:

Exercise Sets Reps
Plank 1 90 sec
Side Plank 1 each side 45 sec ea
Stability Ball Roll Out 1 15
Prone Jackknife 1 15

Stairmill 10 min:

Minutes Level
1 7
1 8
1 9
1 10
1 11
1 7
1 8
1 9
1 10
1 11

 

Then I cooled down with some stretching :) Obviously, today was a lower body + abs day. I contemplated throwing a calf isolation move in there, but decided against it. Oddly, my calves are the most sore!! Well, right now anyways. I predict the pain will move to my glutes tomorrow…

In order to maximize sleep time, I prepared everything last night so all I’d have to do is just come home, shower and shovel food and coffee in my face before rushing off to work. Enter an old favourite: the breakfast cookie!!

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Today’s was a PB&J breakfast cookie. Can you believe I’ve never thought of this before?? It was awesome!!!

  • >1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp Crofter’s raspberry/yumberry jam
  • splash almond milk

All mixed together, flattened on a plate, and chilled in the fridge overnight to harden. Must do these more often on my early a.m. workout days :)

It was a busybusy day at work!! It flew by! Happy to have my first week under me. I actually got a few projects accomplished that I’ll get to see go up on the website this weekend. I’ve also got some interesting projects coming up that I’m excited to get my hands on :)

Work eats today included…

IMG_2470An awful photograph of a quark/yogurt/vanilla protein powder/strawberry combo. This is quite possibly one of the worst food pictures featured on my blog. For being so delicious, yogurt is not always photogenic.

Moving on! Lunch!

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…was delicious. Hummus, cheddar cheese, tomato, sprouts, spinach on an everything bagel. With a particularly juicy bag of baby carrots. Stellar combo, will do again!!

Snack attack…

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Two carrot protein squares that I sandwiched laughing cow cheese in (gotta have that cream cheese frosting!) and a granny apple sauce cup. I miss my homemade sauce :(

Supper was some sort of weird take on chili cheese fries…

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Butternut squash fries, turkey breast, baked beans. I’d originally planned on making these three things separate components on my plate. Then thought “what the hell” and just threw it all together.

Halfway through though, I decided it needed ketchup.
 IMG_2517 Much bettah ;)

I also got more bloggie presents today! That’s three in one week! I feel like such a lucky gal :D

Today was my belated Blogger Secret Santa package. It’s awesome. So many goodies! I’m so grateful Chandra was my BSS – you know my tastes perfectly!!

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Naturally More Almond Butter, Mrs. May’s Cran-Blueberry Crunch nut clusters, Larabar in Tropical Fruit Tart, Peanut Butter & Jelly and Pecan Pie, and a mug! (which I think may be designated my office mug). Thank you SO much!!!  

And don’t worry about it arriving late Chandra. My birthday is in two weeks, so we’ll call it a Christmas/New Years/Birthday gift ;)

Obviously, I had to dig into some of the goodies right away. I had to try this almond butter. Check out what’s in it:

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For some reason, I thought it would be ground flax. But it’s whole flax. It makes the nut butter not crunchy – but crispy!!!

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I’m in love.

In other news, I also got my first big paycheck today from my new job. It called for a little celebratory spending…

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Shoes!! Not just any shoes, but ones with heels. I’m pushing 5’7” and never wear heels because they make me feel like an Amazon Woman. But, my office is pretty dressy, and my usual clunkers just aren’t cutting it. I feel like such a grown up!

 

Not only is it TGIF ‘round these parts – but it’s also Flashback Friday!!!

I think it’s been a while since I’ve participated in Janetha’s fun bloggie feature. Today’s FF is all about my trip to Jamaica in 2008.

I’ve done the resort thang a few times, but I was reeeeally excited about Jamaica. Maybe it’s just the Bob Marley fan in me, but of all the Caribbean islands I felt it had a really distinct and interesting culture.

Of course, as any Canadian knows, if you travel in March you will fly out on the day of a snow storm. It’s a guarantee. It’s happened to me every. single. time.

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Thankfully, the weather in Jamaica was fabulous. I’m always cold, and found even the evenings stayed quite warm.

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I was definitely right about Jamaican culture. It really is distinct. They have their own language which sounds like English, but is actually reallyreally hard to understand! It’s called Patois and includes things like “feelin irie” instead of “feeling alright.”

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Before we left, everyone told us to be careful because Jamaica is a really dangerous country. This is true, I would not want to wander around by myself. But with that said, the Jamaicans we did meet were amazing people!!! Chris and I always joked that everything ran on “Jamaican time” (timely customer service does not exist) and the country’s motto is “No problem mon.”

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Chris and I did a lot of day trips. Probably too many, as we were pretty exhausted by the end. But in retrospect, I’m still happy with everything I got to see. Highlights were definitely travelling to various waterfalls.

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We also did the touristy thing to do there and climbed Dunn’s River Falls.

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It was a damn big waterfall, and tough work to climb up. Amazing though. I dunno, I’ve always had a thing for swimming in waterfalls…

Now you may be wondering why after aaallll these Flashback Fridays, I’m only just talking about this trip now? Well, I ate. A lot.

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I was a good 5+ lbs from my highest weight at the time. While it was an awesome trip, I ate and drank way too much. I continued the vacation once I came home, and skyrocketed to my highest weight soon after.

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Looking back on these pictures brings mixed emotions. It was an amazing trip (seriously, Jamaica is an fun country). But I also feel kinda sad for myself. I can’t believe I let myself get so out of control.

I wasn’t making the best food or drink choices…

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And the rum. My god the rum was good. And cheap.

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Oh, and did I mention? If you’re Canadian, it’s also guaranteed you’ll get a snowstorm when you’re trying to fly out of a foreign country in March.

100_2251 Uff.

 

Okay folks, that wraps it up for me! I’ve got some Real World to watch!

 

Question of the Day: Name one place you’ve travelled to that had amazing food. My family travelled to Germany when I was younger and I’ll always remember the bread+meat+cheese. Sounds simple, but all three were soooo much better than anything I’ve had since. There’s nothing like some authentic German bratwurst and cream cheese on a freshly baked roll.

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