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Fitness Friday – The Perfect Lunge

Hellohello! First and foremost THANK YOU to those of you who voted for my first Project Food Blog submission.

I advanced to the next round!

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I honestly cannot believe this, so thankyouthankyouthankyou from the depths of my heart for taking the time out of your day to pick my lil’ bloggie! The second challenge will happen this weekend. It’s all about “The Classics” and will have me experimenting with a unique ethnic dish in my kitchen. I’ve got the dish picked out and it’s going to be fun! Or… at least interesting ;)

Now, enough of the food stuff for now – we’ve got fitness to talk about!

Today’s Fitness Friday post is a continuation on my “perfect series.” So far I’ve covered:

The Perfect Push Up 

The Perfect Plank

The Perfect Squat

 

After covering the squat, I feel like we are ready to tackle one of the most abused exercises:

The Lunge.

I say abused, because 90% of the people I see doing lunges are doing them incorrectly. Mostly due to the fact that it is an advanced exercise. It’s still hard for most people to do! The lunge is one of the best lower body exercises there is, but it requires a lot of stability + strength to perform correctly.

Because it can be such an effective exercise, many trainers and instructors use lunges in their programs despite having “beginner” clients and students. I work with one trainer who tests his clients abilities before even graduating them to a lunge.

Why all the fuss about doing it properly? Because an incorrect lunge can do a number on your knees. Especially if you’re prone to knee problems already. 

Fret not though, I am here to get you doing it correctly! Start with just your bodyweight. There’s no point in adding load if you feel like you’re going to topple over to begin with. Then, remember these points:

  • Take a biiiig step out. This is to ensure that your knee is above your ankle when you come down. If your knee comes past your toes, it puts unneeded stress on your knee joint.
  • Keep your feet at hip distance apart. Too many people put their feet one foot in front of the other when lunging, and that’s why they fall sideways!
  • Your torso moves up and down. Never lean forward when lunging – that will also lead to the front knee coming forward which we don’t want. Remember to keep that chest up and proud!
  • Your back knee should ideally be inches from the floor when you’re at the base of your lunge. However, I’m not too strict on this point. Come down to wherever is comfortable, just make sure you’re still working hard!
  • Remember to push up through your heels and not your toes. This ensures you’re hitting those bigger leg muscles.
  • Try picking a stationary spot to stare at while lunging, it will help with your balance.

The lunge is great for:

  • Quads (front thigh), glutes (butt) and hips. Secondary muscles are the hamstrings (back of thigh) and calves.
  • Balance
  • Keeping your heart rate up (burning calories!) during a strength routine

 

Variations:

There are of course a million variations of the lunge. Here are the main ones:

Forward lunge: Take a big step forward, come down, then push back up ending with your feet together.

Reverse lunge: Take a big step behind you, bring that leg down, then push forward ending with your feet together.

Stationary lunge: (pictured above). Stand with your feet hip distance apart but a wide space from front to back. Keep your back toe up and front foot planted in the ground. Bring that back knee down, push up, stay where you are, and come back down again. This also goes by a “split squat.”

Walking lunge: A forward lunge, except instead of pushing back, you bring the back leg forward into a wide step and come down again.

Now onto to some of my favourite fancier versions!

 

Twisting Walking Lunge

A regular walking lunge performed holding a weight (can be a plate, dumbbell, medicine ball, etc). As you come down, with straight arms, twist using your ab muscles to the side of the front leg. Come up straight again, then twist to the other side as you lunge forward with the other leg. Great way to get ab and shoulder work in with your lunges!

 

Curtsy Lunge

This is essentially a reverse lunge. But instead of bringing your leg straight back, bring it back diagonally so it looks like a curtsy. I personally find this a lot easier for balance over a regular reverse lunge.

 

Lunge Kick

A fun way to get that heart rate up and take out some of your frustration ;) Perform a reverse lunge, then swing that back leg forward on the way up and kick it in front of you. I don’t recommend trying this with weights like in the photo on the first try. This one requires a lot of balance!

 

Lunge on a Bosu Ball

Think a regular stationary lunge is hard to balance on? Try putting that front foot on the top of a bosu ball. The extra instability causes those working muscles to really fire up.

 

The Lunge Jump

Aka “my most hated exercise ever.” Start with a regular forward lunge. From that down position, push up into a jump, switch legs, and land by lunging down on the other side. Repeat until your legs feel like they are going to burn off :P

 

And that my friends is my spiel on The Perfect Lunge. A lot of people moan and groan about how awful they are. But I promise that once you get the form down on the basic bodyweight variations, it will start to feel better and more fun. As a disclaimer though, I absolutely do not recommend a lunge of any kind for anyone with nagging knee issues! They can be tricky for those with ankle problems as well. With that said – happy lunging!

Question of the Day: What is your most hated exercise? Do you still make it part of your routine?

Ready, Set, Blog!

For you non-bloggers, you may have wondered what that banner on the side of my website is. Always changing, always featuring mouthwatering dishes. Foodbuzz is a social networking site for food bloggers. Even better, they sponsor food blogs. By showing their banner, my wallet gets a small boost every month. Foodbuzz is an awesome community that brings us blogging foodies together, and it has proven to only enhance my blogging experience.

Case and point: Project Food Blog.

I’m one of almost 2000 food bloggers competing in the contest. It consists of a series of food blogging challenges, with one blogger named the top foodie. He or she gets $10,000 and a regular feature on the Foodbuzz website.

Not bad, eh?

The competition kicks off this week, with voting opening on Monday, September 20. The following is my first submission for the contest. Expect to see a lot of food bloggers writing similar posts over the week. If you like mine best, I’ll remind you next week to support me with a simple click. Deal? Deal. Now let’s get to it.

 

“Why are you taking pictures of your food??”

Anyone who is a food blogger has probably received this question at some point. In restaurants, cafes, food fairs, even by roommates or family members. I first began food blogging with a site called Trying For A Tri. Its purpose was to chronicle the trials and tribulations leading up to my first triathlon. Much of that included what I was eating daily to fuel my training.

When I started The Great Balancing Act, I wanted to expand my horizons. Food and fitness are large part of healthy living, but I wanted to focus more on taking those two areas and balancing them out with family, friends, work, LIFE. There is no doubt I am borderline food-obsessed, but I love the idea of sharing food that works in an everyday lifestyle. That includes the good, the bad, and the ugly ;)

Sometimes, I eat really healthy.

I like to share these meals because they show how easy it is to incorporate simple, healthy foods into your everyday routine. They can also introduce others to new ways of combining foods!

I love to cook, bake, and generally just spend time in the kitchen. Sometimes I make up recipes

…and sometimes I follow them.

Then sometimes, I don’t make anything at all. I eat food just for the sheer ridiculousness of it.

 

“But you work out all the time, so it’s okay.”

Actually, no. I am just another girl trying to make good decisions for her body all the while having a little fun. Yes, I am a personal trainer, and yes, I do work out frequently (not all the time!). But this doesn’t mean I can eat whatever I want, or that I eat super healthy all the time! Like the name of my blog suggests, it’s all about balance.

I lost 30 lbs two years ago by overhauling the way I ate. Not necessarily for the better, but I’ve been doing the best I can ever since. It’s so easy to be too strict or too relaxed with your eating habits. Even worse, it’s too easy to become obsessed with your eating habits. My blog is a way to not only balance out those good and bad foods, but balance out food in general with the rest of your life.

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“Does that camera ever leave your side?”

No. No it does not. My camera is my baby. An extension of myself. In a former life, I worked as a reporter with a focus in broadcast journalism. I hosted a TV show, interviewed people, while regularly hiding behind a microphone and camera lens. Permanently documenting the events around me is a second habit. To whip out my camera in public and say “I have to take a picture of this!!” is just who I am.

Taking pictures of my food has never remotely irritated me. I love putting together a fabulous dish, finding a good pocket of light, and letting the shutter loose from a gazillion different angles and perspectives. I sometimes feel like I view the world through the eyes of a picture frame and am always excited when I can capture that and put it on screen for others to see. Besides, food is beautiful. Even oatmeal.

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“What makes your food so special?”

It’s not. And that’s the point. I don’t use crazy expensive ingredients. I’m not a vegan/vegetarian/onlydrinksjuicetarian. I don’t spend hours slaving behind a stove, nor do I have a big family to cook for. I hate washing fancy kitchen appliances and when I’m hungry, I won’t wait hours to prepare a dish.

For me, it’s all about using just a few simple ingredients to make stellar flavour combinations. Friends, I am all about the food combos.

Dates + cashew butter, smoked salmon + jam, hummus salad dressing, carrots + salsa, cream cheese + marshmallow fluff, bacon peanut butter. I’m not writing the next Joy of Cooking here, but I do like to think I share some of the simplest pleasures of food.

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“How do you find the time?”

Easy. You make time for the things you love. Blogging about my food has never felt like a chore to me. I look forward to sitting down and writing a blog post every day. Writing about food, and blogging in general, have changed my life. When I first began, I saw it as a good way to do some recreational writing and keep myself on track with triathlon training. Now it is one of my greatest joys. Even more, I am beyond thankful to have amazing people who choose to read it every day. I can sit here and ramble about food and exercise all I want, but it doesn’t really begin to take shape until those words are read and interpreted by others. So thank you for playing such an important part in this great balancing act of mine :)

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