Saturday, April 19, 2014

F*** Thigh Gaps!

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Who all out there believes that having a thigh gap is a form of self worth or beauty?
What do the men out there think: are thigh gaps truly sexy to you?

Beyonce's recent Instagram picture sparked much controversy when fans were left wondering if a thigh gap had been photoshopped in and Old Navy's poorly photoshopped "thigh gapped" ad made headlines just the other day. It seems that there is so much focus on how skinny a woman can get her thighs. But why haven't beauty standards changed and why are we still dragging ourselves through the same vicious cycle of hating our bodies?

As a new mother, I can't imagine how difficult it must been for teenage girls these days who are facing the pressures of social media. Countless Tumblr accounts such as ThinspirationforyouWelcome to Skinnyville, and Stay Thin This Time teach women that being skinny is the equivalent of beauty. Many of us fall victim to these false ideas of beauty & glorified eating disorders and the message that starving yourself is the only way to achieve this. Though I am a mother to a son, I am frightened to think about the pressures that my future daughter would face with how the trend is going. Where have all the role models gone? Why are companies still putting these ads out there, giving us the idea that if we want to wear their clothing, we must look just as the photoshopped model does.

Studies show that 80% of teenage girls dislike their bodies by the time they are 17 years old. Up to 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in the US alone. 69% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported that magazine pictures influenced their idea of a perfect body shape. 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat (Mellin et al., 1991). These are just a few of the very real and sad statistics. Though there is something about seeing those pictures or ads in high fashion magazines, suggestions from peers or parents, or #thinspo quotes and messages telling us that if only we would lose just 5 more pounds, we could be something special, too.

What bullshit!

I am so thankful to have turned to sources such as BodyRockTv or BodyBuilding.com that teach you that eating clean and working out is the way to achieve the body you have dreamed of. Their models have abs, arms, legs-MUSCLES! I honestly wish there were more positive reinforcements out there. Women are so afraid of lifting weights out of fear of looking like a man and they have this idea that having muscles is "gross."

We should be teaching that strong should be the new skinny. 

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As a fitness enthusiast, so many people ask me these days about how to get a "thigh gap." My first question is "Why the hell would anyone want a thigh gap as a goal?" Since when did thighs that touch determine our beauty, our worth, and who we are? My thighs touch and I am totally okay with that. This gap between our legs does not determine how fit or healthy we are-it is simply our bone structure so not every one can have this feature and that is alright!

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If you are not happy with your thighs or lower body for that matter, then try some of these workouts.

Also, check out this hilarious video that one blogger made on How to Fake a Thigh Gap. I love the sense of humor she has and how the trend does not seem to affect her in the least bit!




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Always remember that your reflection does not define you-it is what's from within. Cheesy and cliche as it may sound, I realize that. However, there is proof that we are not being told this enough. Just as Bruno Mars said, "You are amazing, just the way you are"-thigh gaps or not.

Friday, April 18, 2014

My New Favorite Organic Lactation Snack


So good! Tastes like a Larabar!
https://www.mommemeals.com

10 Awesome Workouts for a Bangin' Booty & Luscious Legs

  1. Squats:
    • Plant your feet flat on the ground, about shoulder-width apart.
    • Point your feet slightly outward, not straight ahead.
    • Never let your knees extend beyond your toes.
    • Look straight ahead. Bend at your knees as if you were going to sit back in a chair, keeping your heels on the floor.
    • Pull in your abs, and keep your lower back in a near neutral position (a slightly arched back might be unavoidable).
    • Tighten your whole body when you perform the squat.
    • Lower yourself. In a controlled manner slowly lower yourself down and back so that your upper legs are nearly parallel with the floor. Extend your arms for balance.
    • Keep the upper body tight at all times.
  2. Butt Kicks:
    • Start on all fours, with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips.
    • Keep your right knee at a 90-degree angle as you slowly raise your leg behind you until your thigh is almost parallel to the floor. Pulse your flexed foot toward the ceiling by squeezing your glutes. Your back should remain perfectly still in a neutral spine. The motion should be small and controlled with the muscle doing the work and not momentum.
    • Return to start position to complete one rep.
  3. Lunges:
    • Stand up straight, with your legs hip-width apart. Place your hands on your hips. Flex your abdominal muscles inward and upward.
    • Step forward with your right foot approximately 2 or 3 feet (0.6 to 0.9m). The taller you are, the further you will need to step forward. Keep your back straight as your body moves forward.
    • Lift your left foot up slightly, so that the toe is in contact with the floor, but your heel is not.
    • Bend both of your knees at the same time. The aim is to make both of your knees stop at a 90 degree angle. Make sure your right knee does not go over your toe line.
    • Pause in this position for 1 to 5 seconds. Stopping your forward momentum will help you to put more effort into rising from the lunge.
    • Push off of your right heel to rise. Return your right leg to its starting position.
    • Repeat with the left leg.
  4. Wall Sit:
    • Stand in front of a wall (about 2 feet in front of it) and lean against it.
    • Slide down until your knees are at about 90-degree angles and hold, keeping the abs contracted, for 20-60 seconds.
    • Come back to start and repeat, holding the squat at different angles to work the lower body in different ways.
  5. Side Lunges:
    • Stand with your feet set about twice shoulder width apart, your feet facing straight ahead.
    • Clasp your hands in front your chest.
    • Shift your weight over to your right leg as you push your hips backward and lower your body by dropping your hips and bending your knees.
    • Your lower right leg should remain nearly perpendicular to the floor.
    • Your left foot should remain flat on the floor.
    • Without raising yourself back up to a standing position, reverse the movement to the left. Alternate back and forth.
  6. Calf Raises:
    • Stand on the edge of a step.
    • Stand tall with your abdominals pulled in, the balls of your feet firmly planted on the step, and your heels hanging over the edge.Rest your hands against a wall or a sturdy object for balance.
    • Raise your heels a few inches above the edge of the step so that you’re on your tiptoes.
    • Hold the position for a moment, and then lower your heels below the platform, feeling a stretch in your calf muscles.
  7. Toe Touches:
    •  Lie on your back on an exercise mat on the floor with your legs touching and fully extended and your arms extended outward with palms down.
    •  With your knees slightly bent, raise your legs straight up in the air until your feet are parallel with the floor.
    • Reach your arms toward your feet, forming a 45 degree angle. Your head should still be on the floor. This is your starting position.
    • Roll forward as you exhale, lifting your torso off the floor as you try to touch your toes with your fingers.
    • Inhale as you slowly reverse the motion back to the starting position.
    • Repeat for a complete set.
  8. High Knees:
    • In basic high knees, you need to stand still with your feet hip-width apart. Pull your right knee towards your chest and keep it there for 3 seconds. Now move it back to the original position and then repeat the step.
    • Now do the same gesture with the left knee and do several repetitions. Take 2 minutes rest between the repetitions to increase your tendency to do more repetitions.
  9. Jumping Jacks:
    • Assume an erect position, with feet together and arms at your side.
    • Slightly bend your knees, and propel yourself a few inches into the air.
    • While in air, bring your legs out to the side about shoulder width or slightly wider.
    • As you are moving your legs outward, you should raise your arms up over your head; arms should be slightly bent throughout the entire in-air movement.
    • Your feet should land shoulder width or wider as your hands meet above your head with arms slightly bent
  10. Plie Squats:
    • Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart with toes turned out, holding lighter dumbbells vertically in front of thighs.
    • Keeping abs tight and torso tall, bend knees 90 degrees; keep knees aligned between second and third toes and weight in heels.
    • Press back to start; squeeze your glutes.

3 Yummy Muffin Tin Mini Meals


Did you know that muffin tins serve more of a purpose than just for baking cupcakes and muffins? You can make perfectly proportioned mini meals in a jiffy using this common kitchen dish. These are also fun to use when you have smaller children as they make the perfect proportions for them as well!
Here are 3 of my favorite muffin tin meals using a 6 cup muffin tin:

Ham & Egg Cups
 Ingredient
  • 6 whole eggs
  • 6 slices thick ham
  • Salt/Pepper to taste
Directions
  1. Grease muffin tin.
  2. Place one piece of ham in each tin.
  3. Crack one egg into each ham slice.
  4. Sprinkle salt/pepper to taste.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees until eggs are cooked to your liking. (I like mine all the way baked so it usually takes 15 minutes)


Meatloaf Muffins
 Ingredients
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp oregano
  • 1 cup Annies Organic Ketchup 
  • salt/pepper to taste
Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a bowl, combine all ingredients except for the ketchup, mixing well. 
  3. Pack mixture into each of the muffin tin slots.
  4. Bake muffins for 20 minutes or until beef is browned. Top each muffin with 1 tsp of Annie's organic ketchup.
  5. Place back into the oven for ten more minutes. Take out and let sit for 10 minutes. Enjoy!



Mini Tacos
Ingredients
  • 1 package wonton wrappers
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 3 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • shredded lettuce, shredded cheddar cheese, chopped tomatoes-for topping (optional)
Directions
  1. In a skillet heated over Medium, brown ground beef. Drain.
  2. Add in seasonings and mix well. Set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees,
  4. Place two wonton wrappers in each tin cup of the muffin pan. (It is okay for the corners to point upward)
  5. Spoon ground beef mixture into each cup.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes until corners of the wonton wrappers are golden brown. Remove from oven.
  7. Top with your favorite toppings.

3 Moves to Perkier Ta-tas

Ladies, let's face it.
There is no magic pill that we can take to enlarge our boobies. The only way to enlarge our breasts naturally is to gain weight-and how many of us gain weight in just our chest alone? Not many, because if more of us did, then we would not resort to breast implants!  
However, if surgery is not an option for you, there are a few exercises out there that will help build our pectoral muscles, which lie under the fatty tissues of our breasts. In turn, your ta-tas might appear a bit fuller than they were before. Regardless if it does or doesn't improve the look of your chest, it certainly won't hurt to try-and I personally love chest days!
Here are 3 exercises to help build those pectoral muscles to help your lady bits appear much perkier than they were before:
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Push-Ups
  1. Get into a plank position with hands planted directly under the shoulders (slightly wider than shoulder width apart). Ground the toes into the floor to stabilize the bottom half of the body. Engage the abs and back so the body is neutral. In other words, flat as a… plank (ah, now we get it!)
  2. Begin to lower the body—back flat, eyes focused about three feet in front of you to keep a neutral neck—until the chest nearly touches the floor. (Note: Some experts say a push-up isn’t a push-up unless the chest actually grazes the ground). Don’t let the butt dip or stick out at any point during the move; the body should remain flat from head to toe all the way through the movement. Draw the shoulder blades back and down, while keeping the elbows tucked close to the body, so the upper arms form a 45-degree angle at the bottom of the push-up position.
  3. Keeping the core engaged, exhale as you push back to the start position as explosively as possible without leaving the ground (pow!). That’s one! Repeat for 10-20 reps or as many as can be performed with good form (no sagging those hips, ya heard?)
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Chest Press
  1. Lie on a fitness ball with a dumbbell in each hand and your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Push the dumbbells up so that your arms are directly over your shoulders and your palms are up.
  3. Pull your abdominals in, and tilt your chin toward your chest.
  4. Lower the dumbbells down and a little to the side until your elbows are slightly below your shoulders.
  5. Roll your shoulder blades back and down, like you’re pinching them together and accentuating your chest.
  6. Push the weights back up, taking care not to lock your elbows or allow your shoulder blades to rise off the ball.
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Ab Plank

  1. Start off on a yoga mat in the pushup position. Starting with the pushup position is the easiest way to get into the plank.
  2. Lower both your forearms to the ground so that both your elbows and fists are flat to the ground. Your palms should be balled up, and directly underneath your shoulders.
  3. Curl your toes under and engage your abs by tilting your pelvis and pulling your belly button toward your spine.
  4. Straighten your body but keep your neck and spine neutral. Imagine that you’re a plank of wood, and that you’re straight as an arrow.
  5. Flex your abdominals and squeeze your glutes. These are the two major muscle groups you’ll be working out in this exercise.
  6. Hold this position, also known as the plank, until after the burning begins. Keep your eyes on the floor in front of you. Avoid raising your behind. Your body should make a straight line from your heels to the back of your head.

Images: Women's Health Magazine

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

3 Yoga Moves for Splits

Splits are hard to do. Unless you are a gymnast, yogi, or cheerleader, there is really no reason to be able to do one. However, many people like the challenge of attempting something that they know is quite hard to do. The benefits of being able to do a split are the added flexibility and range of motion, which can come into good use and to help relieve pain if you have tight hips or joints. Splits take lots of time and patience to do, but with practice, it will happen.

To do a split, flexible hamstrings and hips are a must! Here are 3 yoga poses to help get you there:


Pigeon Pose
  • From Downward Facing Dog, step both feet together and bring your right knee forward between your hands so your outer right leg is resting on the mat.
  • If your hips are more open, inch your right foot away from you. Make sure your left hip is always pointing down toward the mat. If it begins open up toward the ceiling, draw your right foot back in toward your body.
  • Stay here with your hands resting on your right leg or walk your hands out in front of you, allowing your torso to rest over your right knee.
  • Hold here, breathing into any areas of tightness and tension for at least five breaths.
  • Then place your hands on the mat in front of you, tuck your left toes and step your right foot back. Take a vinyasa, then step your left foot forward and repeat Pigeon on the left side.

Lizard Pose
  • Begin in Downward Facing Dog. Step your right foot forward between your palms keeping your hands on the floor.
  • Lower your left knee to the floor, and release your elbows to the floor as well. Either rest your hands palms facing down on the mat, or bring your hands together in prayer position.
  • Continue to squeeze your right knee toward your body and keep your gaze in front of you to encourage your hips to lower toward the floor.
  • Stay here for at least five breaths. Then come back onto your hands. Tuck your back toes and step your right leg back. Take a vinyasa and step your left foot forward to do this pose on the other side.

Crescent Lunge
  • Start in Downward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana). On an exhalation, step your right foot forward and place it beside your right thumb, lining up your right knee over your right ankle. Lower your left knee to the floor, ensuring to place it behind your hips.
  • On an inhalation, raise your torso and sweep your arms above your head with your palms facing one another, placing your biceps beside your ears. On your next exhale, allow your hips to settle forwards and down until you feel a stretch in the front of your left leg and psoas.
  • Draw your tailbone done towards the earth, lengthening your lower back and engaging your core muscles. Begin to draw your thumbs into the back plane of your body as you reach up with your heart, and shift your gaze up for a mild backbend.
  • Stay here, or raise your back knee off the mat for a full Crescent Lunge.
  • To exit the pose, place your hands down on the mat and step back to Downward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana). Repeat with the left leg forwards.

Thirsties Baby Cloth Diaper Review + Giveaway

Hi ladies! Today, I am review a popular cloth diaper line called Thirsties, a family owned business stationed out of Colorado. Their mission is to make it easy and affordable for every family to choose cloth while simultaneously investing in our local economy and sustainable business practices.



I had the chance to review the Thirsties One Sized Pocket Diaper in the Hoot pattern, which features little owls. So cute! I chose the snaps over the velcro because snaps are more durable in my opinion. This diaper is a pocket diaper meaning you will have to stuff it with inserts-my favorite way to cloth diaper!





The one sized pocket diaper features:

      • A two-piece pocket diapering system combining 8 layers of absorbency with a  waterproof exterior
      • One size diaper provides a customizable fit for most babies from 8 to 40 lbs.
      • No need to remove soiled inserts; they agitate out in the wash
      • Newborn insert - 3 layers of microfiber. Full size insert - 5 layers of hemp cotton.
      • Inserts can be used individually or snapped together to provide four different absorbency and size options.
      • Available with Thirsties NEW hook & loop or NEW snap configuration with two rows of snaps
      • Signature leg gussets provide gentle, yet secure, leak protection


      I must say that I absolutely LOVE this cloth diaper! After washing it for over a month, it has stayed incredibly durable and still looks as brand new as the day I had received it. The microfiber inserts absorb a large amount of urine-my son is a heavy wetter and these really did the trick for us! The diaper fit his little skinny legs when he was born and now, after putting on some weight, they fit his cute little chunky legs perfectly. This proves that this diaper truly will fit any body type that your baby may have. 

      Want to know something else that is cool about this diaper that sets it apart from other pocket diapers? There is absolutely no reason to remove the inserts manually. When you wash them, they will agitate outside of the diaper on their own! So put the gloves away!

      Want to test the diaper for yourself? Enter the giveaway below to win your very own Thirsties cloth diaper!



      To learn more about Thirsties and to snag your own cloth diaper from the line, visit their:


      Disclaimer: I was given a cloth diaper to test, at no cost. All opinions are my own.

      Tuesday, April 15, 2014

      Are Abs Really Made in the Kitchen?


      Have you ever heard anyone say that "great abs are made in the kitchen" or that getting fit is "80% diet, 20% gym?"

      A  new study from the University of Washington has found that while more people are exercising, the rate of obesity is climbing too. People automatically assume that just because they spend an hour on the elliptical, it will undo all of those donuts or frappuccinos that they ate or drank the day before. Consider that an average 150-pound person would have to run more than 5 miles just to work off the calories found in a fast food milk shake or a quarter pounder (~600 kcals). Exercising off excess calories daily is not always easy when you are continuously tempted by high-calorie foods.
      Yes, it is true that you cannot exercise a bad diet. I can't help but laugh a little bit when I hear someone say "I want abs." Why? Because we ALL have abs-the muscle is there! It is just the matter of making them visible and to do this, a combination of a great diet and exercise regimen is needed. You cannot have one without the other. Well, you can, if you want, but the results won't be as outstanding as they could potentially be if you were to do both.

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      In 2010, I dropped almost 45 lbs from eating a clean diet alone. That's right. Working as a nurse, I was on my feet during my entire shifts and by the end of the day, I was just too tired (or too lazy) to even think about going to the gym.  The results? I lost weight and had the best abs of my life. However, the rest of my body was left flabby without any type of muscle tone because I did not put any muscles to work. Eating helps you to gain muscle, but does not create them like working out does. This is one of the many reasons why they go hand in hand. They each serve their own purpose, but, together, they serve a common goal-getting fit. Remember, food is fuel! Only put the best into your body.

      Primarily, yes, it is true that abs are made in the kitchen. But you do not want just great abs-you want the total package! Right?

      Stop doing thousands of crunches. Compound, multi-joint, total body movements will promote more total fat loss and promote a much bigger muscle building response than crunches and sit-ups ever will. Another great thing about this form of exercise is that you typically work more than one muscle group in the process.

      Be smart with your cardio. All cardio is not created equally. Try interval training next time you are at the gym. Studies have shown that your body burns significantly more calories and fat if your cardio workouts push you to your limits in spurts, allowing brief periods of recovery. Ditch those long continuous runs and keep your body guessing, at best. Hint: HIIT it!

      Eat 5-6 small meals a day. Think of your body as a furnace. It constantly needs fire to keep burning, right? Your body is no different! By consistently eating these small meals throughout the day, you are constantly feeding your body so it has to work to digest those foods. You also do not risk going into a starvation mode from going too long without a snack.

      Cut out the processed crap. Sugary foods, salty foods, fast foods, boxed foods, white breads, foods with chemical names that you cannot pronounce, white flours etc.

      Stock up on healthy fats and lean proteins. There is so much misconception that "fats make you fat" and that "meat is fatty." That is certainly not the case. Proteins are the building blocks to building muscles and healthy fats help to regulate your hormones that control fat burn.

      Drink at least half your body weight in ounce of water. Everyone knows how important water is. If you weigh 120lbs, then aim for at least 60 oz. of water daily.


      BBQ Roasted Chickpeas


      Throw the BBQ flavored chips away-I have something even better and tastier for you!
      The Garbanzo bean aka "Chickpea" is high in fiber, Manganese, Folate, and antioxidants. This bean also helps to regulate your blood sugar, decreases your cardiovascular risks, and increases satiety so you do not feel the need to snack as much.
      Here is a crunchy and healthy little snack that you are sure to love:

      Ingredients 
      • 4 cups chickpeas (cooked from dry)
      • 1/2 cup organic BBQ sauce (I prefer Annie's brand)
      • 2 tbsp of garlic powder
      • 2 tbso onion powder
      • 3 tbsp olive oil
      • 1 tsp pepper
      • 1 tsp salt
      Directions
      1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
      2. Toss chickpeas together with the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl.
      3. Spread the chickpeas in a thin layer over a greased cookie sheet.
      4. Bake for 30 minutes or until chickpeas are crunchy and golden.

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