Fine Tune Your Lunges, Say Hello to Your Legs!

Written By Maryanna Gibbs

Anyone who has been attending my classes lately knows I have been on a mission in getting my students to become more engaged in their lunges.  It took me years into my own yoga practice to realize the potential my lunges had.  Despite the occasional complaining about the burning in their quadriceps, my students tell me they secretly love the work and attention their legs receive in class!

There is a lunge, and then there is a LUNGE.  Have you ever seen the person who can hold a lunge forever?  The student who looks incredibly relaxed and like they are not working.  Often it is because they probably AREN’T working the pose.  Using proper alignment and knowing how to engage your own body can make all the difference in whether you are engaged in your lunges, or just hanging out.

Proper alignment in a lunge

-Hips square

-Feet hip-width apart

-Front knee directly above your ankle

-Tailbone reaching down

How to engage your lunge

-Sink the hips lower (Just make sure you move the front foot forward more if needed so that the front knee stays directly above the ankle, not past it)

-Squeeze the inner thighs inward

-Find a 90-degree angle in your front knee, bringing the front thigh parallel to the ground

-Firm up your back leg to make it straight by reaching the thigh and kneecap up and back, and reaching through the back heel

Muscles being worked and toned

Thighs, quadriceps, and gluteus

Stretches and opens

The psoas, hips, front torso, chest, and shoulders

Also works

Balance and endurance

Try this…

In the lunge position, place a block at tall height just above the knee of the back leg. Allow your weight to fall onto the block (see picture).  Notice not only how low you can get into your high lunge, working the leg muscles, but also enjoy the deeper stretch and opening of the muscles as well. 

Maryanna Gibbs

Find out More >

How to make perfect hard boiled eggs

Written By MissFIT Becky

Peeling hard boiled eggs is the worst.

Me shaking a fist at my hard boiled egg.

I know this is a first world problem, but you have to admit it is a frustrating experience.

All the little shell pieces relentlessly stick to the egg and it takes 5 minutes to attempt to meticulously chip away at each individual piece.  Then, when you are able to remove a piece, it pulls half the egg white off leaving moon-like craters and wasting precious nutrients.  The end result barely resembles an egg due to the mangling process that is “peeling.”

I try and give myself preemptive pep talks that go something like this, “No, really, this time it’s going to be a good one.  I used week old eggs and baking soda in the water this time.  I’m going to peel it off in one of those super satisfying peels where the whole thing comes off in 2 smooth pulls.  It’s going to happen this time.”  You get one good egg peel and it gives you hope you will do it again.

And when pep talks don’t work, I try threatening my egg.  See pic.

This sometimes works.

In reality, peeling hard boiled eggs almost always ends in frustration.

UNTIL NOW.

Many failed attempts have led me to the perfect recipe for the perfect hard boiled egg with a perfect peel.

Here’s what you do and how you do it:

  1. Let your eggs sit at room temperature for 30-60 minutes.  This is key.  You could also run them under lukewarm water.  Point being, you want them at room temperature.
  2. Fill a pot with enough water to cover your eggs, but do not boil the water with the eggs.
  3. After your water is boiling, slowly lower in your eggs.
  4. Return to a boil.  This may take a little bit depending on how many eggs you are boiling.
  5. Let boil for 10 minutes.
  6. Immediately remove from heat and run eggs under cold water.
  7. Skip the preemptive pep talk and let the frustration-free peeling begin.

A few quick thoughts on eggs.

Eggs have gotten a bad rap for their cholesterol.  The thought is that by eating whole eggs we risk raising our cholesterol because of the cholesterol found in the yolk of eggs.  Actually, recent research has shown that eating 1 egg every day for an entire month does not raise cholesterol levels at all.  While eggs are indeed high in cholesterol we are finding that just because they have cholesterol does not mean they will raise our cholesterol.  Some health experts think that some of the proteins in eggs actually block some of that cholesterol from being absorbed in our bodies.

Trans fats have been shown to be the biggest culprits for raising cholesterol levels (think fried and processed foods).

Eggs yolks contain antioxidants necessary for eye health, choline for brain health, monounsaturated fat (a healthy fat, just like in olive oil), and are one of the few natural food sources of Vitamin D.

If you’re going to choose a food to ban, ban trans fats, not eggs.

Happy peeling, my friends!

 

 

 

Becky Nowak

Certified personal trainer for the past 10 years. Married 9 years. Working for MissFIT 8 years. Mom for 3 years, Precision Nutrition certified, and a lifetime lover of all things wellness! Find out More >

Don’t Just Sit There

Written By Peggy Kresch

This goes out to all the desk workers out there.  You know who you are.  You get to work and your desk and chair are waiting for you.  First you log in to your email and there you are, settled in for the long haul.   The ‘to do’ list is getting longer by the minute.  Then it’s off to a meeting where you SIT again.  Oh great, it’s lunch time where you can SIT and talk to co-workers.  Now it’s off to tackle the ‘to do’ list for the afternoon.  Your list is so long, that you better skip your exercise class and stay late to get as much done as possible.

This may not exactly describe your day, however I bet many of you can relate a little bit.  Hey, wait.  There is a new trend out there in the corporate world.  Hopefully you are lucky enough to work for an employer who understands that a fit and active employee is a healthy and productive employee.

Yep, there is a MOVEMENT out there to get you moving.  Workplace wellness is the trend at so many companies both big and small.  Some of you however may have to take the movement into your own hands.  There are a couple things you can do to incorporate a little wellness into you sedentary day at your desk.  Afterall, the human body is not designed to sit still.  Our joints like to be fluid and so do the small muscles that hold our stress.

5 things you can do to get more movement into your day.

  1. Get an adjustable standing desk, ASAP.  The benefits of standing and working go way beyond what you might think.  The simple act of standing all day burns fat.  No, you don’t have to stand all day.  Find an adjustable set up that allows you to raise and lower your work station.  On a tight budget?  Use 2 milk crates to raise up your monitor and keyboard.  They will stash nicely under your desk when you decide to sit.
  2. Create multiple office workstations. No, you don’t have to stand all day.  Find an adjustable set up that allows you to raise and lower your work station.  On a tight budget?  Use 2 milk crates to raise up your monitor and keyboard.  They will stash nicely under your desk when you decide to sit. Try sitting, standing and what about a low desk set up where you can sit cross legged on some pillows?
  3. Ban Chairs. Say goodbye to a 90 degree chair with arms.  It is like a cage for your body.  You can’t possible move side to side in that seat.  Replace the typical chair with a stability ball, bar stool or swooper chair.  Check it out at  http://www.swopper.com/
  4. Walk and Talk. Take your meetings out of the conference room.  Have a walking meeting.  Studies show that many people are better listeners when they are walking and not distracted by the internet.  Just think of the miles you can put in if you walk for every meeting.
  5. Get Isometric. It’s easy to flex your muscles without anyone noticing.  Here are some isometric exercises you can do inconspicuously.  Hold each for 5 seconds, relax repeat.  Do 15-20 reps.
  • Legs – Raise your behind an inch off the chair for 5 seconds.  Lower down, for 1 second, repeat.
  • Shoulders – Sit up straight with your arms at your sides.  Pull your shoulder blades down into your back as if to pinch a pencil between them.  Hold for 5 seconds, relax, repeat.
  • Core – Sit up straight and tighten your pelvic as if to stop urine.  Contract your belly button into your spine.  Hold and relax and repeat.
  • Chest – Press your hands flat on your desk with your elbows at a 90 degree angle.  Push as if to push yourself away.  Lock your chair wheels before you do this one.
  • Biceps – Place the palms of your hands under your desk and press up.
  • Triceps – Place your palms on the top of your desk with your elbows bent at 90 degrees.   With your elbows locking into your sides, press down on your desk as if you were trying to straighten your arms.

There you have it.  A couple ideas to become a healthier employee.  If you raise some eyebrows, let them know you are just trying to stay as healthy as possible.

Peggy Kresch

cPT, American Council on Exercise; MissFIT Complete Program Coordinator Find out More >

Ahh, A Breath of Fresh Air

Written By Maryanna Gibbs

“What if we treasured every single breath?”

-Kelly Rae Roberts

 

With Spring right around the corner (or is it already supposed to be here??!!!) I long for the feeling of being outside as the weather gets warmer.  I love the change of seasons.  After being cooped up inside all winter, I can’t wait to once again feel what its like to breathe fresh Spring air.  At this moment I can even feel and taste the fresh air just thinking about it, savoring the energy and nourishment it gives my body.

 

The breath is vital to our well-being.  We all go through our days breathing, but are we REALLY breathing.  How often during the day do we pay attention to our breath?  How often do we use our breath to nourish our body the way it is supposed to?  It is so easy to take our breath for granted.  When we actually take time to focus on the breath, and learn how to breathe, there is a noticeable shift in how our body and mind feel.  In yoga we actually refer to the breath as pranayama,  prana being our “life force”.  Breath does this – it gives us life.  Breath is fuel for our body.  During yoga practice in particular, the breath:

  • Nourishes our body
  • Relaxes our body
  • Draws us deeper into our practice

 

One way to start to be aware of our breath is to first notice our natural breath.  Find a comfortable position.  You can be seated, or lying down, and just take a few minutes to notice your breath.  Do not change the breath, but just notice it.  Is your breathing shallow or deep?  Are you breathing from the chest or the diaphragm?  Is your breath quick or slow?  You may even notice things like if your breath has a taste or texture to it.  Just being aware of how we breathe is a start in the right direction.

After you become aware of your breathing patterns, start to cultivate what we call the ujayi breath in yoga.  Breathe in and out through the nose and find a slight constriction in the back of the throat on your exhale.  Think of your exhale like your fogging up a mirror.  The breath is not forced.  You will find it amazing how much your body will relax just by breathing!

Avoid these common mistakes:

  • Breathing only from the chest
  • Forcing your breath
  • Holding your breath
  • Shallow breathing

 

 

 

 

 

Maryanna Gibbs

Find out More >

Keeping Nutrition Simple

Written By MissFIT Becky

Nutrition can be confusing and overwhelming.  Nutrition can create feelings of fear and anxiety.

One moment research is telling us one thing.

The next it is finding the complete opposite.

Stay away from all fat.  It makes you fat.  No, just trans fat does.  But include more good fat.  Now stay away from carbs.  They make you fat.  No, just starchy carbs do.  But include whole grain carbs.  Stay away from protein.  It’s not healthy for your heart.   And makes you fat.  No, just red meat does.  But include legumes.  Wait, what the heck is a legume?  Lastly, stay away from sugar.  THIS is really what’s making you fat.  No, just the added sugars do.  But don’t get rid of fruit!

It’s no wonder we’re all confused.

Who do we trust to give us the most accurate information when the research seems to change so often?

In an effort to help simplify our confusion I’ve considered 2 ideas that I hope will help us make trustworthy, life-giving, nutritional decisions that don’t require hours of research and exasperation with opposing conclusions.

1.  Eat foods close to the earth.

A food that is close to the earth has little to no processing involved.  It is in it’s natural state.  Or, it’s darn close to it.  It probably grew somewhere.  If it even has a list of ingredients, it’s short.  You can read and probably understand what the ingredients are.  Think orange vs. orange juice, baked potato vs. french fry, brown rice vs. packaged rice mix, steel cut oats vs. sugary packet oatmeal, a meal vs. a meal replacement shake or bar.

Pick up a food item in your hands and give it a rating on the close to the earth scale.  1 being straight from the earth (think vegetables), 10 being heavily processed (think Cheez Whiz).

Rate it and choose the foods that fall on the closer to the earth side of the scale.  Do this most of the time.

If you have a hard time trusting your ability to rate a food try this Fooducate app.  According to the Fooducate website, “Fooducate’s scientific algorithms grade each product and provide simple, concise explanations. Grading system developed by scientists, dietitians and concerned parents.”

It’s a bit of a different system, but it will help guide you along a similar path as the close to the earth grading system.         

2.  Make your own food.

Kitchen remodels and cooking shows get hours of air time these days.   We love our kitchens to look pretty for entertaining.  We love to watch other people cook for our personal entertainment.  Yet many of us struggle to find (or make) the time to prepare our own food.

According to Michael Pollan’s new book, ‘Cooked,’ cooking may be the best line of defense against obesity: Pollan cites a 2003 Harvard study that correlated the increase of obesity in America with the decline of home cooking.

It makes sense to me.  Whether it is a direct scientific correlation or not isn’t my arguing point.  I see a value in home cooked meals that I believe could be life altering in a living well kind of way.  The more we invest time and positive energy in the food we eat, the more we stay connected to it and, I’d like to hope, the more we connect well with it.  Is it more work?  Absolutely.  But as I often tell my 3 year old, good things are worth working for.  Sometimes it’s the end product that makes it worth it.  Sometimes it’s the struggle along the way only then to enjoy watching someone else benefit from your hard work.  Sometimes it’s the big picture realization that comes later.

My advice is work hard to connect with your food at home.

Start with 2 simple steps.  Choose your foods close to the earth and prepare them at home as often as possible.

 

Becky Nowak

Certified personal trainer for the past 10 years. Married 9 years. Working for MissFIT 8 years. Mom for 3 years, Precision Nutrition certified, and a lifetime lover of all things wellness! Find out More >
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