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Exercises for the Cable Machine and Archie’s Debut!!

Hiiiiii!!!

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How are we all doing today? Good I hope! I am working hard on keeping my smile up :)

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Unfortunately ezekiel french toast is not that photogenic. For such a decadent breakfast, it was pretty healthy though!! Two eggs + a splash of skim milk, cinnamon and vanilla, all whisked together then soaked up with sprouted grain bread.

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Dipped in sugar-free syrup. The little eggy end parts are the best ;)

After this I made the executive decision not to work out today. Good thing I did, as I ended up having family obligations that took up a huge chunk of the day. For all you positive thinkers out there – please send some this way for my dad and his family. They could use a few extra good vibes!!

Then I drove into oncoming traffic on the Gunningsville bridge. Stuck by a median. Holy heart attack. Rain + drifting thoughts = dangerous driving on my part.

I perked myself up with a new ‘do. It’s in a ponytail right now, I will primp properly tomorrow and show you. Getting rid of hair has a therapeutic effect, no?

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So does chocolate. Even when it’s cocoa powder mixed with soy protein powder. I gave a bite to the little step-bro and he said it tastes like chocolate mousse! I didn’t even tell him to say that!!

Mom pulled out all the stops again for dinner tonight.

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Roast chicken – my favourite. With roast carrots, turnip and sweet potato.

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I swiped the thigh and leg as I like the dark meat best. Yes, I used to be a vegetarian and now I eat it off the bone ;)

Tried a little scoop of these random preserves my mother handed me. I thought they were cranberry.

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Got quite the surprise when I took a bite and found out it was sweet cherry! Turns out Sister Sara bought it back when she was living in Edmonton. I’m thinking it would be much better on waffle ;)

In other news, I found a new kind of gum today!

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It’s no secret that I’m a mad gum chewer. It’s a problem. I’m [not] working on it.

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It’s fruity, yet refreshing!! I think it’s some sort of grapefruit concoction. Tasty.

 

Cable Exercises

A long, long time ago, Lori asked for a post on exercises to do on the cable machines at the gym. I told her I’d get around to it that week. That was around three months ago.

Coincidentally, I gave my mom a mini-training session on the cable machine and she wants me to write down what I showed her. So I’m covering all my bases! :P

Since I got my personal training certification, one of the most common requests I get from people is how to use the above cable machine, or ones similar to it (some only have one pulley).

First we must understand how it works. Most can be adjusted by pulling out a knob on the side and sliding the pulley up or down. There are several different attachments you can clip on.

 

We’re mostly concerned with the above attachments. Not pictured though is the velcro strap that fits around your ankle. Usually these parts are hanging out somewhere around the machine, or you may have to remove it from another machine to use. Don’t worry, most of the following pictures clearly illustrate which one you’ll need.

Before we get into the exercises, I need to make a very important point.

Don’t let the cable boss you around. 

When trying out new exercises on a cable machine start at a low weight. As the weight plates drop on the machine, the cable will pull forward. It is SO important not to let it jerk you with it. Stay strong and balanced. If you’re struggling, lower the weight. Sometimes we can’t go as heavy on cable machines as we can with dumbbells. That’s okay. You’ll see better results when you actually hit the intended muscles ;)

Legs

A stiff-legged deadlift to work your glutes and hamstrings. You can also do a regular deadlift where you bend your knees. A straight bar would be needed for this one.

The cable pull through hits mostly your glutes, but you’ll get a little thigh work in there too. Please keep your back straight and supported!

The one leg cable kickback is actually one of the best butt exercises there is. Want a bubble butt? This is one for you.

 

Cable thigh pull can work either your inner or outer thighs. The motion pictured above will hit your inner thighs. If you turn around and pull the cable away from your body, you’ll hit the outer thighs. Remember to pull the weight with your thigh muscles, don’t just put all the work in your hips.

Chest

The cable chest press is one of my favourite ways to change up the boring ole’ chest press. You can do this two arms at a time, or one arm at a time. Remember to push through your chest and not your shoulders.

Back

Standing cable row. I like doing this one best in a squat position to activate my legs as well. This is an important one to keep your upper body stable on. Try not to round your back when the cable pulls away from the body.

Cable face pull. This one targets your upper back and shoulders as well. Make sure to keep your shoulders down and neck soft. Arms should be parallel to the floor.

Shoulders

  

Pictured above is the lateral raise. This will work mostly the top of your shoulders. It requires very little weight, and if you’re on a machine with two cables, you can set it up so they cross in front of you. You can also turn around and pull your arms out in front of you to do a front shoulder raise.

Triceps

The cable pushdown is one many people are already familiar with. Pleasepleaseplease do not move your shoulder joints in this exercise. The only joint that should be moving is your elbow, which should also be tucked in by your waist. You’ll be able to feel the difference in your triceps!

Cable overhead extension. The thing to remember for this is to keep your shoulders down, try not to shrug them up with the movement. Again, make sure only your elbows are moving!

Biceps

It’s only fitting that Ahhhnold demonstrate our bicep exercise ;) The one and only cable curl. Set the cable at the bottom of the machine, take on a staggered stance and curl up. Broken record time – only bend at your elbows!!

Abs

 

Cable woodchop. Above is the diagonal version. But you can also set the cable in the center and twist horizontally for the cable horizontal woodchop. Thing to remember here is to keep your arms straight, and pull through using your abs first.

 
For some reason I get asked about the cable crunch all the time. Maybe because it looks hardcore. I personally find it’s awkward. In the above picture, the guy is twisting diagonally to hit his obliques, but you can also just go up and down for a normal crunch. Again, keep the work in your abs here, and try not to curve your spine too much.

All the demonstrative pictures are hyperlinked, so click away to get more info on the exercise behind the photo :) Of course, these aren’t the only cable exercises you can do, but it’s at least a good start!

 

Last, but most certainly not least, I have a video to share!! Clickclick to see the one and only Archibald in action.

 

Haha, my mom says he looks scared in the video. He must be camera shy ;) Also very cute is that is got SO confused when I played back the video!! He kept looking at me and wondering why my mouth wasn’t moving when my voice was coming out of the computer :P

 

Question of the Day: I want to do a vlog before I leave my mom’s place – what would you like to see? Recipe? Exercise move? Rambles and silliness?? Let me know!

The Perfect Plank

Well, the votes are in, and salmon is the most popular fish. SO fun reading over all your favourite kinds! Mostly because I got ideas on new kinds I need to try, including walleye, sea bass, flounder, croaker, stingray and trigger.  Shellfish and other seafood is a whole other story. We will be revisiting this issue for sure! ;)

My family was up late last night, and I was actually in bed before my mom and Mark. I thought for sure I’d sleep in past 7am today. Little did I realize, my poodle also doubles as an alarm clock.

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I may have been prepared to sleep past 7am, but this furball most certainly was not. I awoke much too early to the feeling of a wet nose on my face. He was wagging his little bum and rearing to go. Okay poodle. You win this time. But you didn’t need to pass out on my lap after I let you outside. Salt in the wound.

Needless to say, it was a pancake kind of morning.

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My new Dairy-Free (ish) Pancakes.

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Janetha asked about the nutritionals on these, and without the added Benefibre, they’re 247 calories, 6.6g fat, 9g fibre, 20g carbs and 32g protein.

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I also cooked in a tbsp each of flaked coconut and walnut pieces. Oh, and I added 1/2 tsp almond extract for a little sumthin’. May-jah yums. I still can’t get over how fluffy they are!

I had a kickboxing date with my mom later this morning, and this new-to-me Banana Larabar was calling out to me as a pre-workout snack!

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I usually don’t care for banana flavoured things as I find they always end up tasting artificial. But I figured the chances of that happening with this one were pretty low.

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However, I think this may have been my smallest Larabar yet.

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Next to my lens cover. What it didn’t have in size, it made up for in taste. Pretty darn good! Didn’t quite get to the top of my favourite flavour rakings, but it’s nowhere near Cherry Pie, which is at the bottom of the list.

I also mummified my foot.

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You will notice my laptop in the background. That’s because I followed a step-by-step guide that everyone’s favourite Smoothie Girl Deb sent me. I mentioned a while ago that I was getting plantar fasciitis symptoms in my left foot, and she said taping hers up has helped her symptoms a lot. All I did was take sport tape and wrap horizontal strips on the bottom of my foot, then a vertical layer, then another horizontal layer.

I actually did this at the cottage over the weekend when my feet were bothering me while cleaning. It helped a lot! After the 45 minute kickboxing class (which despite being at a beginner level, had a great instructor) I ran 2 miles on the treadmill. Last time I ran two miles on the treadmill, I was in pain for the rest of the day – but today I feel fine! Yayyy!! Thank you Deb!!

Lunch was the usual!

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A gargantuan salad with kale, tuna and feta cheese. The dressing was hummus watered down with the juice from a bottle of olives. Gooooood stuff.

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I’m sure these big salads are getting redundant, but I honestly crave one a day now. Nomnom.

I may also crave chocolate after every meal.

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Another Newfoundland Chocolate Company chocolate. I think this one had raspberry or strawberry mixed into the center. Not like the cheap chocolates, this blended the flavours really well!

 

The Perfect Plank

After doing my Perfect Push-Up post, I got a question from Angharad on proper plank form. It’s very similar to the push-up and many of the same rules apply!

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Coincidentally, Lori’s strength training move of the week was also the plank! I asked her for this picture because she demonstrates it perfectly here :)

Some things to remember:

  • Do not stick your butt in the air. Your body will want to do this naturally, and sometimes you don’t even realize this is happening.
  • Conversely, don’t arch your back too much and let your belly fall toward the ground.
  • Elbows should be under your shoulders, or if you’re in a high plank, hands under your shoulders.
  • Keep your head down to make sure your whole spine is straight. It should look like a straight line from your heels to your head.
  • Speaking of your heels, push them back a little. We have a habit of pushing all our weight forward onto our arms, but balance that out by putting some weight back into your feet too. This will help with that straight line.
  • Tuck your pelvis in. Pretend like you’re gyrating it forward.
  • BREATHE. Focusing on your breaths will help you pull through.

As always, I recommend doing them in front of a mirror. You’ll eventually learn what that proper position feels like without having to look at yourself. Remember, this is a core exercise. If you feel it more in your back than in your abs, chances are your form could use some tweaking.

The plank, in my opinion, is probably the best core exercise there is. Isometric exercises (ones where you contract your muscles without movement) are great for your abs. It’s something you do in everyday movements without even realizing it. You’ll be able to perform activities with a lot more power and ease when strengthening your core this way.

That’s not to say crunches don’t help with core strength either, but the only time you’ll really notice these strength gains is when you’re actually doing crunches. Not to mention, many people perform crunches horribly wrong, and do more harm to their back than good to their abs.

Some other plank variations:

High plank

 

Side plank

Plank on a ball

 

 

Leg lift plank

 

Reverse plank

   

Click on the pictures if you want to see their original sources!

As usual, there are tons more plank variations, these are just the very basic ones. But you don’t need to get fancy to reap the benefits. Doing 1-3 sets of Lori’s version above, holding for as long as you can, will get the job done :)

 

Question of the Day: What’s your favourite ab exercise? The cable horizontal woodchop is probably mine :)

 

I’m hitting publish early folks! Off to see Shrek with the daddio and step-sis :)

The Perfect Push Up

Lookie what I got!!!

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SO excited!! For those of you who may not know, the Healthy Living Summit is a conference for “healthy living” bloggers and readers. For two days, I’ll be joining 200 like-minded folk to listen to presentations and talk about all things food and fitness related. Tickets sold out quickly last night and I’m elated to be able to take part this year!!

I was up later than I should have been last night, then up way earlier than I should be this morning.

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My nose and head were all stuffed up while my belly was completely empty. Breakfast needed to be quick and comforting. It was a no-brainer.

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And then I ate a cookie.

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I dunno, for some reason, an oatmeal-chocolate chip-coconut-maple-raisin cookie seems to make the cut as an acceptable breakfast cookie.

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I am majorly impressed by these Super-Charge Me Cookies. I took these photos this morning and there are only two left. The 6 people in this house have successfully demolished them in one day.

After breakfast and breakfast dessert, I immediately preceded to go back to bed. I woke up an hour later feeling much better, although my mom still looked at me and said “Susie, you’re looking a little rough this morning.” Harumph.

A giant mug of strong brewed coffee helped out my situation a lot though.

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As well as snacking on multiple Mr. Freezes and a giant medjool date stuffed with almond butter.

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These pictures don’t do it justice. I honestly don’t think I will spend the money on medjool dates again because they are just too much for me. One of these bad boys has 16g of sugar crammed into two bites. I think I will stick to my baby dates :)

Lunch was nothing special, a ginormous salad with tuna, hummus, feta and pickled onions.

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I seem to be cleaning out my mom’s vegetable crisper every two days. Her boyfriend, Mark, makes a salad every day for lunch. Between the two of us, no fresh veggies stand a chance in this house.

Clearly, today was a rest day from exercise. Sometimes I get really lazy on rest days and do nothing but lay around. Other days I get antsy and feel like I need to be productive. I did get a few things done today – my main project being grooming the poodle.

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No fancy poodle cuts here. Archie is incredibly well-behaved, so we just cut him ourselves with a pair of scissors. He politely stood still while I hacked away at his fur.

I thought he might hate me after, but he still jumped up and helped me read blogs ;)

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And then I plotted how I could get away with smuggling him to Toronto with me ;)

Dinner featured one of my favourite foods from my vegetarian days – falafel!

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I do believe these are Veggie Patch Falafels that my mom bought at Costco.

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I ate them on top of a bunch of frozen veggies tossed in garam masala spice. I think I overdid it on the veg. My tummy was ready to bust with brussels sprouts after. I had to roll back to the living room. My family keeps teasing me for the size of my veggie bowls  – and in this case they may have been right :P

 

The Perfect Push-Up

I got an e-mail from Hallie the other day about proper push-up technique. For being one of the best exercise moves out there, it’s damn tricky!

 
Having good form is imperative to doing the exercise properly. I know I always nag about having good form, but it’s how you ensure you hit the intended muscles. Bad form means no results. Or worse, pain and injury. This is me pointing my finger at you and giving a stern face.

So what is good push-up form?

  • Your body should make an imaginary straight line from the top of your head to your heels. Make sure your butt isn’t up in the air by tucking your pelvis in and shifting some extra weight back into your toes.
  • Hands are under your shoulders. They should not be up by your face when you come down.
  • Keep you chin tucked in and don’t strain your neck. Remember that straight line!
  • For a regular push up, space your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Keep your elbows around 45 degrees. The main movers here are your pecs. Sticking your hands and elbows out too far to the side will hit your back too much, and tucking them in will engage your triceps more (unless that’s what you want to do)
  • Bring your chest far enough down so that it almost grazes the ground.
  • Practice doing them in a mirror, so you know what that straight line feels like!

The above picture is a tricep push up. You’ll notice her narrow hand grip and how her elbows are tucked in.

Now I know many people (not just women!!!) can’t do the standard push up on their toes. Many of you know the traditional knee push up.

However, I would suggest putting your feet on the floor to support your back and posture more.

Personally, I’m more of a fan of progression into toe push ups by starting on an incline. If you’re a beginner, the wall is a great place to start.

   
As you get stronger, decrease the incline. I often still do toe push ups off a bench.

When the bench gets too easy, grab a step to push off of.

 
And before you know it you’ll be cranking out 20 on the floor! ;)

I know some of you are way past the stage of incline push-ups, and there are tons of ways to make them harder. My two favourite ways are putting your feet up on a bench or a stability ball.

And the T push up!

The above pictures are all hyperlinked to their original sources if you want to check them out as well :)

 

Question of the Day: Push ups – love? Hate? Favourite way to do them? I only just got to the point where I can squeeze out a few on the floor off my toes. I’ve always struggled at supporting my bodyweight with my upper-body, and push ups are torturous for me!!

Be sure to come back tomorrow for what may be the cutest/funniest/most embarrassing Flashback Friday ever. I’ve been holding on to these photos since my mom pulled them out last Sunday, at which point we both starting crying with laughter :P