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Category Archives: Exercise

Free Yoga isn’t only on Youtube

I try to go to the Yoga class at my gym, but they changed the time of my favorite instructor’s class and it unfortunately does not fit my schedule.  I decided to watch yoga videos at home to keep up the practice on my own time.  I’m comfortable practicing yoga on my own because A. I’ve had some yoga class experience where I’m confident in my form and B. No one is there watching me fall over repeatedly.  I’m also on a strict budget, so I perused through the multitude of free yoga videos online and found the best instructor for me.

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Yasmin Yoga: Basics 1: Breathing & Alignment is a full one hour video that can be found for free on Hulu.  I’ve only practiced this one video and cannot wait to complete the other videos in the series.  All in all there are 5 one-hour episodes available for free on Hulu and the Yasmin Yoga Website has free downloads of guided meditation and other instructional videos.  Yasmin Yoga is based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

The Yasmin Yoga: Basics 1: Breathing & Alignment video is very relaxed without being super cheesy.  The well instructed verbal commands voiced over the yoga practice performed on screen keep you from fumbling from the tv/computer screen to your own body.  Yasmin’s fluid instruction is fairly slow with clear and concise movements that are also modified for all levels.  It’s helpful if you have a folded blanket and yoga blocks if needed, which is unfortunately not explained before the workout begins.  I would recommend this film for beginners, or anyone who wishes to focus more on their posture and breathing.

*If you are attempting to practice Yoga for the first time, please attend a class by a certified instructor to learn the basic forms to avoid injury.  I am not a certified yoga instructor and practice yoga casually.  Please listen to your body!*

USEFUL LINKS:

Yasmin Yoga Hulu Channel
Yasmin Yoga Website
Yasmin Yoga Free Downloads
Yasmin Yoga Facebook
Yasmin Yoga Youtube Channel

Furthermore, if you ever thought about joining Hulu for $7.99 per month, you can get 2 weeks FREE with no obligation to continue your subscription by using this referral link.  It’s as easy to cancel as it is to sign up!

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Get Up and Go!

We all have our own unique ups and downs while paving our path to wellness.  It could be a setback because you are momentarily unwell or other time vortexes (work, family, travel) may derail you from your typical health regiment.

For the past 2 weeks I’ve been sick with an Upper Respiratory Infection and unable to get to the gym. After a week of rest and drinking enough water to cause a drought in my state, I finally got my appetite back but my energy was still missing. I realized I was overindulging in food with the awakening of my taste buds where EVERYTHING TASTED DELICIOUS and I had no energy to burn off the extra calories.  I’ve been tracking my calories regularly and finally after a few days of reassessing my meal choices I was able to stay within my daily weight loss goal of 1400 calories thanks to the decision of choosing Smart Ones® as one of my daily meal choices.

If you’re unable to balance life and your calories on a daily basis, it’s empowering to know that you can start fresh with a clean slate the next day, or next week, and not feel you have to go all the way back to square one.  Occasional slip ups are part of any health journey, whether it be overindulging in calories or physical set backs, and tomorrow you can choose to get up and go!  Move forward from the crappy day or weeks you’ve been having and start fresh! Just be sure you are not overdoing it with physical activity after being sick and try not to limit your calorie intake in the extreme in order to to make up for a recent overindulgence in food. My advice would be to try and choose the right foods next time.  Life is all about finding that healthy balance, and some days the scale may be tipped against you but there is always a way to even the scale over time.

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Out for a short brisk walk after being sick for 2 weeks!

 

You Are Not Alone

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I have been on an amazing roll as far as portion control and exercise, I can honestly say I am very proud of myself!  I’ve tried all the crazy machines at the gym to try and switch things up, but I will always end up on the elliptical.  The elliptical runner burns major calories and it’s heaven on your joints while feeling natural to my running gate. If I can’t get to the gym, I do yoga or Pilates at home or if it’s above 30 degrees out I’ll go for a walk outside.  I am in the beast zone!  If I don’t get at least 30 minutes of cardio, I feel off.  Naturally I am worried about my addictive behavior and exercise becoming an obsession as I attain the endorphin “high”.  I also fear falling off the wagon as my social and work schedule pick up.

The thing that keeps me hanging on is that I am not alone.   Knowing that there are others out there who don’t have time to spend hours working out at home or at the gym puts my mind at ease.  It’s been refreshing to learn about others who may fall off the wagon with their portion control as well, but are encouraged and supported to get back on.  I am one of many who struggles with knowing when enough is enough.  Having a clean slate mindset has helped me stop beating myself up for losing control once in a while, and start fresh the next day.  When others confess to me that they overindulged, I’m the first one to not make a big deal out of it.  No judgement zone here!  You are not a horrible person for losing control.  Knowing you overdid it is the first step to getting back on track, but you must want to get on that healthy track or it can just become a vicious unhealthy cycle.  But always know, you are not alone and tomorrow is a new day!

Zumba is the New Jazzercise.

I finally joined the masses of ladies hoping to shake their hips like Shakira, pop their booties like J Lo, and hip-hop their way to attaining Beyonce’s strong and shapely thighs.  If you have never heard of Zumba, then you’ve been living under a rock.  I may be late to the badass dance party, but this week I’ve taken two Zumba classes at Urge Fitness and I’m sore in places on my body I didn’t even know could get sore.   I learned from 2 different instructors, which was great because I was able to gain different views on the practice of this dance fitness program that combines a plethora of dance styles including hip-hop, soca, samba, salsa, merengue, mambo and martial arts.  I already prefer one of my instructors over the other, but that’s because the other shakes her belly dancing hips ready to create a tornado and the instructor I enjoyed more focuses on mixing in traditional aerobic moves that I can hack as a beginner.  With lots of energy and dedication, I know that over time I’ll be able to learn plenty of styles of dance from them both.

Zumba is not only a huge calorie burner if you put your all into it, but it is the ultimate in modern Jazzercise!  Seriously, it is like Jazzercise on crack, cocaine, caffeine, speed, and anything else that makes your body convulse like it never has before to music that makes you move before you can even think.  Zumba may not require a leotard or overly enthusiastic voiced instruction (Zumba instructors use hand movements to instruct you on their next move), but both practices do encourage moving those hips, smiling, and overall having a good time.

SO, here are 10 things I learned during my experience being a new Zumba student for a week as well as advice from friends who regularly practice this style workout:

1. Stand where you can see the instructor!

  • I took this advice from my friends and I’m glad I did because I was planning on staying way in the back.  At my first class I stood in the front row next to the instructor and now I stand directly behind her to get a better view of the moves. When I mess up it’s much easier to pick up and keep moving!

2. Focus on the feet first, then add hand and arm movements.

  • The more often you attend Zumba classes, the more you will pick up on the added arm and hand flair.  As not to get overwhelmed at first, just focus on the foot moves then if you’re up to it, add your jazz hands!

3. You are not going to perform the moves as flawlessly as your instructor.

  • Zumba Instructors are trained professionals, they may make mistakes, but their dance talent can be daunting.  If you are just starting out you need to remember your limitations while still trying to have fun!  I pushed my ability in the second class before realizing I have never belly danced a day in my life and I needed to CHILL OUT BEFORE I PULL A HIP MUSCLE.  I have also yet to get to the having fun part because I’m intent in learning the dance moves with a serious furrow on my face.  Zumba is srs bzns in my world…for now.

4. If you have ever played Just Dance on your video game console at home, then you already have a head start.

  • I am a Just Dance veteran, and Zumba class is pretty much a 3D version of this Wii Fitness game.  In fact, they have a multitude of  Zumba fitness games for the Wii now if you want to start off (or continue) in the privacy of your home.

5. There will probably be plenty of other people in the class who are beginners.

  • This will hopefully allow you the courage to take a step and attend your first Zumba class.  You are not alone in your trepidation.

6. You will sweat like crazy and want to drink as much as a gallon of water during and after the workout.

  • Bring a towel, wear a sweat band or bandana, and have your water bottle handy.

7. If you are lost with the steps, just do your own thing!

  • My Salsa moves pretty much turned into an Irish jig at some point, but as long as you keep moving to the music you are doing it right!

8. If you are large chested, double bra it!

  • Latin dance moves like to shake their shoulders and there is a lot of jumping with the hip-hop repertoire, so ultimately this will lead to excessive shaking of the tatas. Trust me, strap those puppies down with 2 sports bras.

9. Stretch and rest after your class.

  • Dancing for an hour is nothing to scoff at.  If you feel you need to stretch more after class then do it!  I love stretching and I believe it’s a huge part of any workout.  Resting your muscles is also important, especially if you’re just starting.  I’m hoping I soon won’t have to crawl into bed like this:

10. If you are self conscious, avoid the mirrors & don’t compare yourself to others!

  • I started my first class avoiding the mirrors to build my confidence up and I’m glad I did.  I focused on the moves of my instructor, and if my eye went to the mirror I would bring it back to her.  Now, I don’t really care how I look because everyone in the class is there to have a good time and not judge you, therefore you should not judge yourself.  You should applaud yourself for moving your body and enjoying your time bustin’ a move.  Now, Everybody dance!

Strengthening and Shaping for the Lazy

I like easy strengthening exercises.  I’m lazy and a procrastinator who will build up what she needs to do to epic proportions in her mind, psyching herself out of doing any work at all.

I have not done yoga or pilates, or any sort of strengthening exercises for months.  (I can blame it on the Holidays, but, well, ok I’ll blame it on the holidays.)  Over the past 2 weeks I’ve been back working on the weight machines at the gym to strengthen without the pressure of not falling over during yoga or Pilates.  I just started to see and feel results this past week so I figured I’d try my hand at some floor moves.  Anyone who says yoga and Pilates are easier than pumping iron are DEAD WRONG.  Ok, maybe it’s relative to your own body weight vs. weights on the machine.  I’ve got some lbs. on me, so lifting 20 pound weights to work my shoulders on a machine is kids play opposed to holding my body weight up in some Pilates moves.  Personally, I prefer floor work over the weight machines since machines isolate specific muscles and yoga/Pilates work all the stabilizing muscles as well as main muscles.  I like a full body workout!

I also strongly procrastinate working on my core.  I know it’s necessary to work your middle to feel your strongest, and once my middle has gained strength I think “why did I ever stop doing this!?”  So, I attempted some new and seemingly easy core work to keep my waistline slim (I like to accentuate the hourglass) and strengthen at the same time.  I threw in some glute work and yoga as well.  These exercises took me about 30 minutes, but you can easily shorten it by picking and choosing your own routine.  Thank you Pinterest!

1. I started with about 15 minutes of Yoga to “warm up”.  I put that in quotes because Yoga is more than a warm up, it’s a great strengthening medium in addition to Pilates.

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2.  Laying your back seems easy right?  I tried these Alternating Single-Leg Glute Bridges to work both the glutes and Hamstrings before heavily working on my core.  Hot damn, they were my least favorite exercise of this series so I’m glad I got them out of the way first.  And let me tell you, I have strong glutes.  I’d probably save this for Intermediate workouts.

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3. My planks, which engage the core muscles, are not very strong so a moving plank exercise seemed up my alley to build up stamina.  I rather enjoyed the Wide Leg Plank as it was challenging but not impossible. I was able to do 3 sets of 10, definitely feeling the burn by the end.  For more waist slimming exercises, click on the image.

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4. I love working my obliques…especially in slight and easy exercises. The Side Bridge and Oblique V-Up are now two of my new favorite exercises because at the time I felt like I was doing nothing but today my sides are SORE. I did 3 sets of 10 for each.  That’s my kind of exercise!

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Oblique V-Up

Lie on your side with your body in a straight line. Fold your arms across your chest. Keeping your legs together, lift them off the floor as you raise your top elbow toward your hip. The range of motion is short, but you should feel an intense contraction in your obliques.

10 repetitions each side

core45. I of course ended with the Corpse Pose because THAT is the lazy lady’s favorite Yoga move. I end all of my routines in this relaxing and meditative pose. Sometimes I fall asleep…

corpse

Today is the day after this workout, and I feel just the right amount of soreness in my core muscles.  That is encouraging and makes me want to continue with new exercises on a regular basis to keep the core strong without obsessing.  Variety is key!  I’m a victim of routine and I need to force myself out of my comfort zone to keep myself interested in body maintenance as well as work some new muscles.

If you’d like to try yoga at home with some help from a professional, check out this great series of Kris Fondran’s ShapeShifter Yoga videos!  Kris Fondran has been teaching and practicing yoga for more than 12 years. Her yoga experience and her Master’s degree in Exercise Science make her one of the top experts on yoga and fitness today. Click through the image below to read more about it!

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Maintaining in Both Worlds

I’ve gotten into the habit of using my personal Facebook account as my voice instead of my blog, and that needs to get rectified.  I want to share my thoughts and ideas with the world not with a limited group of friends!

One of the things that has crossed my mind lately is how awesome I feel in my skin. I’ve had a lot of personal road blocks this year, but right now I am in such a good place I need to share it with you all.  I found my goal has slightly changed as far as my clothing size.  Naturally, I’d like to feel lighter, stronger, and ultimately reach a healthier weight goal, but I also realized that losing more weight may hinder the natural curves of my body.  In the past when I’ve gone down one pant size lower than my current size 16, my ass got lost.  I have such a larger bone structure that I literally have to lose my ass to fit into a size 14.  I can feel my sit bones protruding and it’s actually uncomfortable sitting on hard surfaces.  If anything, I should maintain my booty for seat comfort alone!  I’m hoping glute exercises will help me keep the meat on the bone as I continue on my journey, but it seems when I get to a certain point of losing weight my body pulls from the areas I quite rather appreciate, like my derriere.  Does it pull fat from the rolls in my belly or my double chin, not so much!  But, I digress, that is a subject for another post entitled “Embracing the Rolls!”.

So for now, I’ll keep up the regular exercise and well as drink a milkshakes every so often to make sure I keep my curves nice and full.

milkshake

My Milkshake bring no boys to the yard because I’m still single.

Another reason I’m enjoying this time to maintain my shape while sharpening up the curves a bit with some yoga/cardio/pilates 3-4x per week, is because I’m wearing the perfect clothing size for a woman who loves to shop.  I’m 5’9″ and wear a size 14/16 in plus.  I also wear a L/XL in non plus sizes (depending on the store).  This is an awesome size to be because I get to shop IN BOTH WORLDS.  I get to wear clothing especially made for larger curvier ladies at Plus Size stores, as well as the higher end sizes at non-plus sized stores.  It’s quiet magical to say the least. I truly do find some items that fit me  well at shops like NY&Co., H&M, Kohl’s and TJ Maxx since they carry up to XL as well as some plus sizes,  but I tend to shop at more plus size specific stores like Lane Bryant because the clothing really caters to my curves.  (Please see my Curvy Fashion Page for a list of Plus Size friendly  stores.)

I recently invested in the Scalloped Boudoir Lace Dress in size 14/16 from Kiyonna, a high end plus size designer, to wear to a wedding last November in Manhattan.  Kiyonna’s designs are not cheap but they are simply stunning as well as durable and well worth the cost.  She is actually one of the only plus size designers who starts at size 10 instead of 12, which reaches a wider range of women but ultimately leaves out sizes lower than a size 10.   I wore this dress to two Halloween parties as well as the intended Manhattan wedding and I’ve gotten wonderful and genuine compliments on how classy and well made it is for my shape.

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Manhattan Wedding November, 2013

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Halloween Party #2 in Philly Oct. 2013

Halloween Party #1 at Artworks Trenton, Oct. 2013

Halloween Party #1 at Artworks Trenton, Oct. 2013

Needless to say, I got my damn moneys worth out of that dress.  I’ve been asked where I purchased the dress as well as the designer, both in person an on Facebook, by numerous women.  Being one who is not ashamed of being a plus size lady, I simply tell the gals who are clearly not more than a size 8 that it’s from  Kiyonna, a plus size designer for sizes 10 and up.  I do feel bad if it’s not available in their size, then I think about the clothing items I find online and in stores that only go up to a Large and I know by the cut I will never be able to squeeze my T&A in that item.  C’est la vie!

So, let’s wrap up.  Where am I on my journey to Health and Wellness?  Well, I’m taking some time to maintain my weight and health where it is now.  I’m not going to obsess over losing weight, even though I’m only half way to my “set” weight goal.   I feel if I can maintain at the half way point and find it’s not the end of the world difficult, then when I do reach my goal I won’t sabotage myself like I have in the past.  My tattoo artist (he lost 100 pounds!) gave me some advice regarding my journey to health & happiness.  His advice was NOT to set a weight goal and just do your thing, be healthy, be active, until you feel you have reached your goal.   For some of us, that sounds awesome and for others it sounds like a train wreck.  You know you.  You know if you need structure, goals, a plan or if you can change your mindset for the better and ride it out until you find your  healthy weight.  I’ve gone the regimented plan before and it works only temporarily for me.  Once I hit that goal, I seem to self-sabotage in order to find that other “goal” I need to reach.  Maintaining is not fun for me.  There is no prize at the end, except perhaps living a longer healthy life and not feeling like crap.  But that’s apparently not enough for me! So we’ll see if having no goal in the back in my mind (for now) is either worse or better.  Commence Happy & Healthy Kate Experiment #53983404.

I’m still leading an active life, I’m not counting calories or cutting back on any certain food, but I’m just trying to be more aware of portion control and what my body is telling me.  Do I still overeat? Yup.  Especially with the holidays surrounding me.  But as weird as this sounds, I don’t overeat as much or as often as I used to and to me that’s a small victory.  I’ve also realized a setback won’t be as huge in my crazy mind as if i was trying to lose weight.  Maintaining is just as challenging as losing weight for someone who has struggled with the scale their entire life, so once I master the art of maintenance I think I’ll finally have the knowledge I’ve been lacking in the past throughout my yo-yo dieting to finally live life at a healthier weight, whatever that may be.

Focusing on strength instead of weight has also really helped my overall mindset regarding my health.  On some level it feels great to fit into a lower dress size, it shows your hard work is paying off, but for me I’m at the point where I am OK with the number printed on my clothes.  Why?  Because I feel healthy, I feel great in my clothes, and I look damn cute.

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TJ Maxx – Owl Sweater in XL

Long Time, No Write.

I would like to express my extreme gratitude to my readers who have helped me achieve over 10k views in 5 months.  I was on vacation for a week and not really posting much over the past month, so when I logged in today I was all smiles!

It has been a very surreal past few months for me.  My personal life is in a place I would not have believed if told details 6 months ago.  I’m in a wonderful new(ish) relationship with an old flame, I’m in a new living situation I’ve never been in which is pretty awesome, and my sister is getting married in a little over a week with me as Maid of Dishonor. But this is what I’ve been feeling like doing instead of going to the gym…

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It’s that horrible spiral I find myself on when my health routine gets interrupted.   But these are life’s curve balls that get thrown at you whether you are sick, have little ones, have a full social calendar, or go on vacation and your gym/workout schedule gets pushed to the side.  I attempted Yoga while on vacation, but in an environment with lots of bugs and humidity in a cabin with NO AIR CONDITIONING I gave up after 2 days.  Then upon return from vacation my boyfriend moves in with me the very next day.  Not finding time to get to the gym because I’m hot and exhausted from our road trip and the move makes me realize I’m just coming up with excuses.  So I get down on myself.  This leads to a week of adjusting to the new living situation with a house in disarray and going back to work for the week.  I do have time for the gym if I made an effort, but I’d rather get the house together so it looks presentable than focus on myself making sure I look presentable.  Once again I need to change my way of thinking.

no time gym

I will stop thinking like the photo above.  I need to get my priorities back on track, I need to start making time for my own well being, and I need to remind myself it’s not too late.  I mentioned in a previous post if you fall off the healthy living wagon for a day, a week, a month, or even a year, it may be difficult to get back on but not impossible.  Of course it would be ideal not to fall off the wagon at all, but pshaw, I’m far from leading an ideal life!  What I do need is to take my own words of advice and not feel like I’ve permanently messed up my health regiment.  Time to get back to making better decisions!  It’s something I need to do, and I will.

I will take the feeling of tight jeans, joint pain, and lethargy as a reminder that I need to start moving just a little bit each day instead of feeling depressed and sabotaging myself when I go down the dark path of healthy destruction.  I will remind myself that my usual daunting 2-3 hour gym routine doesn’t have to exist.  Running for 20 minutes is better than nothing, don’t you remember that amazing feeling you get from the endorphins after a workout!?  Believe me, once I get moving, I’m good to go.  It’s the getting moving part that I have trouble with, I seem to psych myself out instead of up.

Stupid Newton and his physics laws of motion.

This blog helps keep me accountable for my actions and I cannot thank the blogging community and readers enough for it’s support and outlet for people struggling with body image and health issues their whole life.   Writing has always been easier for me than speaking face to face (though I’m definitely pretty open in person too) but it’s when I’m not open in either area when things are probably bad.  This blog helps me get out of that dark place and back on track.  I suggest anyone thinking about starting a blog should create one as a therapeutic resource on top of any other personal reasons.

So far, It’s worked for me.

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