Fitness, get fit, get healthy, Health blog, self care

Four Easy Ways To Make Time For Fitness

The Cheese-Puff is nude more often than he’s clothed.  Shirts, shorts, and shoes are such an unnecessary bother when sensory processing is a daily struggle.  “Clothes on,” I say, at least twenty to thirty times a day.  Pulling a shirt back over his skinny-winny little bare naked body, I take time to kiss his tomato red hair.  Who could resist?

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Hopey dumps waaaaaaay more water from her cup than she drinks from a straw.  She sometimes pours it over her own head … sometimes over mine.  Why?  I wish I knew.  But she thinks it’s hilarious.  After the water is spilled, she runs off on her tippy toes and giggles with abandon.  “No, Hopey,” I yell, as she ditches me for the hidden shadows.  At every moment, though, I choose my battles.  And water just isn’t that big of a deal.

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Bringing up two kiddos who sport an extra chromosome and who are non-verbal is challenging.  Neither speak one word, but they still fuss and fight like typical siblings.  And both vie for my attention constantly.  One goes to bed with the chickens and rises early.  The other is a night owl and is like waking the dead.  One can tag you in the head with a ball from twelve feet away.  The other can climb your body like you’re a tree and have his arms around your neck before you know what’s happened.  They try to get away with jumping on beds, climbing on tables, and rolling the house in toilet paper … every single day.  They’d rather dance to a Luke Bryan song than eat.  They’re master escape artists.  And if I leave the house without them, you’d think the whole world has come to an abrupt end.  You’ve never seen the drama these two can cook up.

I travel, kayak, explore, and dance like a fool with Hope and Charlie.  My life is so much fun, but it can also be chaotic.   And hard.  If I didn’t take time to be on top of my game, I’d be overthrown in a minute.  My secret to being the consistent queen of my brood is fitness. Exercise boosts my mood, gives me energy, and is empowering.  Do I have time to be fit?  Ummmmm, the answer to that question is a hard no.  Do I always feel like working out?  I’m fifty years old and am outnumbered by two kiddos who have more energy than a zoo monkey, so the answer to that question would be a hell no.  But I make fitness a priority so I can remain the queen.  haha.  At least in my own mind.

This begs the question of HOW to make time for fitness.

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If you’ve read this far, you’ve checked off the biggest and most important box by realizing you need to make fitness a part of your routine.  If I can do it, you can too:

First, make a schedule and stick with it.  Carve out thirty-five minutes of time, five days a week, and make that time a priority.  Even if you don’t feel like working out, push through it.  Eventually, it will become a habit.

Second, plan your workout ahead of time.  If you try to workout on the fly, you won’t make near as much progress.  Every other day, use weights to focus on arms, shoulders, and back.  The other days, work legs and glutes.  Take five minutes each day for abs and set aside fifteen minutes each day for cardio.  It’s can actually be that simple.

Third, find someone who will hold you accountable.  Without an advocate who will push and encourage you, the beginning of this journey will be nearly impossible.  Your head will give you every reason under the sun why it’s not normal for a woman to sweat.  You won’t be able to sit down on the toilet seat, climb out of your car,  or bend down to pick up the quarter you dropped when checking out at Publix, because your muscles will be aching.  You’ll wonder what you’ve gotten yourself into.  You’ll think you’re too old, too fat, too tired, too busy, or too depressed.  Trust me, you need someone lined up who will remind you that if you want to be a queen, you must continue to tackle those push-ups, squats, and burpees.

Fourth, change your point of view.  Your workout isn’t optional.  It’s sacred.  You wouldn’t skip eating or sleeping.  You wouldn’t miss an episode of The Bachelor or that Starbucks visit with your college roomie.  With statistics overwhelmingly proving how a regular fitness routine boosts your health and increases longevity, why wouldn’t it be sacred?  It’s a no-brainer, and can be achieved with only 35 minutes per day.  Yassssss, Queens (and Kings)!!!!

Here’s a quick 35 minute routine to get you started:

Download Tabata Stopwatch Pro

Settings:

  • Initial Countdown = 5 seconds
  • Exercise Interval – 25 seconds
  • Rest Interval = 10 seconds
  • Number of sets:  30

 

Week 1:  

(Use your Tabata stopwatch with the settings above.  It will prompt on when to begin each exercise and when to rest … Just do as many reps as you can within the exercise interval, making sure to implement correct form.  Don’t rush.)

Arm Day:

  1. Bicep Curl and Overhead Press
  2. Tricep Dips
  3. Bent Over Flies
  4. Chest Press (lie on mat or on bench)
  5. Chest Flies (lie on mat or on bench)
  6. Skull Crushers (lie on mat or on bench)

Leg Day:

  1. Prisoner Squats
  2. Front Kicks
  3. Side Lunges
  4. Squat Jumps
  5. Donkey Kicks
  6. Walking Front Lunge

Fifteen minutes of cardio:

Walk three minutes, jog three minutes, walk three minutes, jog three minutes … alternating until you’ve completed fifteen minutes.  Go as hard as you can.

Five Minute Abs:

  1. 20 crunches
  2. 20 crunches with legs bent into stomach
  3. 20 crunches with right leg up in the air / left leg still crunched to stomach
  4. 20 crunches with left leg up in the air / right leg still crunched to stomach
  5. 20 crunch toe-taps (crunch legs into stomach, then extend legs down to tap floor)
  6. 20 crunches (cross right leg over left knee — bring left elbow to right knee)
  7. 20 crunches (cross left leg over right knee — bring right elbow to left knee)
  8. 20 bicycle crunches
  9. Two 30 second elbow planks 

PLEASE send me a private message if you have any questions … or feel free to comment.  I’ll be your advocate, your cheerleader, and your go-to!!!

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Just my thoughts!

Melanie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fitness

Ten Seconds A Day To Change A Life: Why A 50 Year Old Special Needs Mom Is Competing For The Title Of Ms. Health & Fitness 2018

What would make a 50 year old special needs mom enter a competition called Ms Health And Fitness?  Is it a mid-life crisis?  A shot at fifteen seconds of fame?  Nah.

I entered this competition because of Kaylee.

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Kaylee is a good friend, she’s funny, loves to give hugs, always has her nails perfectly painted, and is also a dancer.  She’s part of a dance class with other girls who have special needs, and I’ve had the awesome opportunity to be a spectator at one of Kaylee’s performances.  Upon just a single glance, it’s immediately obvious how the entire dance crew feels music down deep in a place the rest of us haven’t experienced.  Kaylee’s big sister spins her around on stage in her wheelchair, and I promise, there’s not a dry eye to be found.  It’s an unforgettable sight to see as joy always radiates from this beauty’s face.

Speaking of the wheelchair, Kaylee is confined to it … and her home isn’t handicap accessible.  Her momma, as a result, has to carry her when moving her from room to room.  Recently, her family was scammed by a person who was supposedly printing and selling t-shirts to fundraise for Kaylee.  The money was going to be used to widen hallways and doorways in their small mobile home to give Kaylee and her wheelchair more freedom.  Family and friends pitched in to purchase the t-shirts, and more than one-thousand dollars was raised.  But it was a con.  The money is now gone right along with the man who crafted the scheme.  In his terrible wake is Kaylee, who is in need of money to make improvements to her home.

I entered this competition because of Jessica, Leslie, Graham, Hannah, Nick, Dustin, Amber, Jared, Heather, and Kevin:

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These silly willies are my best buddies.  They’re quick-witted, charming, kind, loyal, hard-working … and they have intellectual disabilities.   Graham is in charge of recycling at the Trousdale School, and he is always spreading the message of saving the earth.  Leslie was recently honored the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame “Heart of a Champion” award for being a multi-sport Special Olympic superstar.  Hannah has Autism, and she is a brilliant actress.  Jessica is an artist.  Nick and Jared can sing every word to most country music songs.  Dustin and Kevin have Down syndrome, and both have dance moves rivaling anyone on Dancing With The Stars.  I guess you could say each are differently abled in the most spectacular sort of way.

As they’re getting older, though, their parents are aging too.  And the worry of what the future will look like is a viable concern.  Every special needs family faces the burdensome reality of the circle of life.  In response, the Trousdale School in Cleveland, TN is getting ready to build an incredible residential center that will house my best friends.  It will have around the clock supervision and care while encouraging independence, creativity, friendship, and personal growth.  But money is needed to get this project completed.

The winner of Ms Health And Fitness 2018 gets a whopping $20,000.00.  And if I win, half the winnings will go to Kaylee and half will go toward the Trousdale School’s residential center.  That’s the reason a 50 year old special needs mom would enter this kind of competition.  I mean, let’s get real.  The rules encourage contestants to use professional photos.  And as a mom of two cuties who have special needs, I barely have time to snap pictures with my iPhone.  Want to see what I’m up against?

These are my fellow competitors:

 

This is Anna Neal, the very fit young woman who won the competition last year:

 

Aaaaaaaand.  This is me. (You guessed it, a picture snapped with my iPhone):

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While I totally think I could rock this title … and while I’d love to have the opportunity to showcase the special needs community … I realize it’s a looooong shot.  haha.  The greatest stories and victories, however, usually come from the longest shots.

I’m not as young and beautiful as the other contenders, but I definitely qualify because health and fitness are life to me.  Four years ago, I was so overwhelmed with many different things life was throwing at me.  It got to a point where I was I living each moment waiting for the next panic attack.   Anxiety looks different for every person.  For me, panic attacks would come out of nowhere and would cause my body to start shaking violently.  It was completely out of my control and frightening.  Finally, I reached a point where I had to make a change.

My choices were to spill my guts to a therapist or to hire a trainer who would push me physically to a point of spilling my guts out on the gym floor.  Studies show it only takes five minutes of aerobic exercise to stimulate anti-anxiety effects in our bodies, so I chose the trainer and have never looked back.  Panic attacks, fear, and feelings of inadequacy are a distant memory.  I work out with my trainer five days a week and run at least one mile a day.  So far this year, I’ve competed in ten races … I earned first place in one of the races in my age group and took second in two others

 

I entered this competition because of Hope and Charlie:

One day, I may be in Kaylee’s mom’s shoes and find myself needing assistance in widening a doorway or in buying a piece of therapy equipment for my own kiddos.

One day, I may not be able to care for Hope and Charlie, and they may need a residential center where they can thrive while being loved and kept safe.

Kaylee represents my life.

The Trousdale School represents my life.

I also entered this competition because I’m proud to be part of the differently abled community.  Daily, I see all the special needs mommas on social media who are in the trenches … loving, serving, and spilling themselves out for those who have been placed in their care.  Advocating.  Training.  Celebrating.  Holding out hope for the brightest future.

Those moms represent my life too.

It only takes 10 seconds per day for the next six weeks … and voting is free:

click here to vote!

And remember to vote every single day for Kaylee and for my best buddies!!!!

(A big thanks to all who have already voted!!!)

Just my thoughts,

~Mel

 

For all who have asked, here are the official rules:

Round 1: TOP 25 (Starts June 19th and Ends June 28th, 2018) – Selected Entrants will be divided equally into seventy two (72) groups. Public voting will help reduce each group to the top twenty-five (25) models.

Round 2: TOP 10 (Starts June 28th and Ends July 5th, 2018) – Public voting will help reduce the top twenty-five (25) to the top ten (10) models in each group.

Round 3: TOP 5 (Starts July 5th and Ends July 12th, 2018) – Public voting will help reduce the top ten (10) to the top five (5) models in each group.

Round 4: Group Winners (Starts July 12th and Ends July 19th, 2018) – Public voting will help reduce the top five (5) models to one (1) preliminary winner in each group. Second place group finishers will advance to the Wildcard Round.

WILDCARD ROUND (VOTING RESETS)

Round 5: Wildcard Round (Starts July 20th and Ends July 22nd, 2018) – Second place group finishers will be divided evenly into twelve (12) groups. Public voting will determine one (1) winner from each Wildcard group. Wildcard winners advance to the semi-finals.

SEMI-FINALS (VOTING RESETS)

Round 6: Semi-finals (Starts July 23rd and Ends August 2nd, 2018) – Preliminary group winners and Wildcard winners will be divided evenly into twelve (12) semi-final groups. Public voting will determine one (1) winner from each semi-finals group that will advance into the finals.

FINALS (VOTING RESETS)

Round 7: Finals (Starts August 3rd and Ends August 9th, 2018) – Public voting will help reduce the top twelve (12) finalists to the one (1) winner of the Ms Health and Fitness competition (the “Grand Prize Winner”), subject to such individuals compliance with the Rules and any other applicable terms and conditions in connection with the Competition.

 

 

Fitness, get fit, get healthy, self care, skin care, Summer Fashion, Summer Style

Hats, Baths, & Masks

HATS:

Hats are a must have for the summer months.  Not only do they protect our faces from the sun, they protect our hair too.  UVA rays dry out and damage the outer layer of our hair, making it appear brittle.  Add in the daily humidity, and summer hair can be the worst.  If you’re not having that great of a hair day, put your hair in loose braids or pull it back into a low pony and sock a cute hat on for instant style.  If you have short hair, you’re already ready to just wear a hat and go.  Most females overthink hats, but it’s actually a simple addition.  Solid colors are easier to coordinate and straw hats go with everything.  Just have fun with it.

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My black hat sort of reminds me of Jethro from the Beverly Hillbillies, but I really like it.  haha.  It’s a bit stretchy, not too tight, and is lightweight.  I’ve paired it with a shirt I pulled off the sale rack at American Eagle for $10.00 and some cut-off jean shorts (also from American Eagle).  With black sandals, I’m ready for any outdoor event.  Here’s a link to the tops currently on Clearance at American Eagle.

BATHS:

Do you sweat?  I’m a fitness freak.  Every day I do high intensity interval training and also run a couple of miles.  In the summer, especially, I sweat a lot.  Exercising to the point of producing lots of sweat is so good for us.  It manufactures happy feelings, gives us an energy rush, reduces aches and pains, and releases toxins from our bodies.  But getting that sweat off of our bodies is equally important.  The bathtub is a perfect solution.  Not only will it cleanse your body, but it will also restore and relax your body.

After a long day outside, it’s important to pamper our skin.  Again, the sun will do some damage.  Find a good moisturizing bubble bath, light a candle, turn on some soft music, and relax.  I experiment with different kinds of bubble baths, bath bombs, and body washes.  This one from Caress really does have a buttery burnt brown sugar smell as advertised.  It. Is. Yummy.  Here’s the link … I picked it up at Target.

 

 

Masks:   

If caring for our entire body is important, our faces should be at the top of the list as the most important part of our bodies.  Caring for our faces every day needs to be a priority.  I’ve said it before, and will say it again, don’t ever go to bed with makeup on.  It will age your skin.  Cleanse your face everyday.  Exfoliate often.  Pamper it with moisturizer two times a day, morning and night.  And try to make time for a mask once a week.

 

This mask is by a company called Yes To.   I’d heard the company was started by two guys who played soccer, and was definitely curious to find out what these dudes know about skincare.  As it turns out, they apparently know a lot.  They use 95% natural ingredients in their products and make sure all are free of toxins.  This was my first time using one of their masks, and I have to say I might be hooked.  It was thick and creamy, had a nice gentle scent, went on easy, and left my skin feeling so soft.  If you aren’t married to a certain type of mask, give it a try.  Target carries this product too!

The takeaway is self care.  As women, we’re so adept at taking care of others, aren’t we?  We check off lists all day every day.  It’s part of our DNA.  I swear, when God made Eve, that woman probably opened her eyes and immediately got to work sprucing up the Garden of Eden.

Adam was like:  “Hey, God made sex, and He says it’s very good … wanna have a go at it?”

Eve:  “Ummmm, yeh, sure thing.  But first I need to figure out how I can turn a pile of palm leaves into cute throw pillows for our bed, clear away all the brush so our outdoor digs will be tidy, prune a couple of trees to give some sharp curb appeal, and gather more fruit and veggies in case the Lord stops by for dinner … plus, don’t we have babies to tend to?”

Adam:  “Well, no … we have to have the sex first.”

Can you relate?  The housekeeping and the lists will wait.  The kids will wait too.  It took me fifty years, but I’ve finally embraced the importance of putting myself first for a couple of hours a day.  Living in the moment.  I’m very type-A … if I can do it, so can you.

Exercise, take baths, experiment with different beauty products, and love yourself.  Age is just a number, but life is short.  You’re worth the extra effort!

Just my thoughts,

Melanie

Fashion, Fitness, get healthy, Turning Fifty

On Turning 50

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I’ve had a year to prepare.  Actually, I guess I’ve had forty-nine years to prepare.  But who can ever be adequately equipped to reach the age society refers to with such doom and gloom?  I mean, the latest studies agree.  By age fifty, we should drop flip flops, ditch denim, toss tanks, swap shorts for capris, and chop our hair into an age-appropriate bob or pixie.  And the latest trend?  Don’t even get me started.  “Just allow your hair to go graaaaay,” they say.  “Gray is the new black,” they say.  And my favorite:  “Gray is sexy!”  Hmmmmmm.  On Jamie Lee Curtis, a gray pixie cut is sexy.  On Jamie Lee Curtis, capri pants may even have a snow ball’s chance at looking hot.  But can we agree that she’s been an exception to a whole slew of rules for many many years?  Say this with me out loud:  “I, (insert your name here), am not Jamie Lee Curtis … and no matter how much ACTIVA I ingest, I will never ever ever be Jamie Lee Curtis.”

(Deep breath)  I’ve actually had well-meaning women tell me that I need to cut my hair and throw out my denim shorts because I’m “getting too old”.  Please, for the love of all things good and true, can we at least agree to give denim a break?  Denim has been with us through thick and thin … literally.  And has stood the test of time as much as we have.  Maybe more than we have.  If I can say anything here today about fashion, it would be that we should ALL own some denim.  Until. We. Die.

I’m sorry, but the thought of all the false fashion notions that are prevalent on the internet brings on a mild panic attack with me.  Even right now, my heart is in a rush as I picture myself being yanked away, kicking and screaming, from the gorgeous diva who colors my hair.  Can anyone else relate?  As long as my hair is perfect, I can take hold of satan himself by his pointy ears and firmly place him behind me.  In the south, after all, hair is everything.  Gray is not the new black.  It’s just not!

Let’s be real.  When a person reaches fifty or sixty or seventy … or even eighty … the last thing we should be discussing is age appropriate fashion and/or hairstyles.  That person has lived five or more decades of life, which these days, is a feat.  And because of their years on the planet, they’ve earned the right to look however they want to look.  I may be waging war against capri pants and pixie cuts for myself, but for whoever chooses them, I’ll give 100% support (as long as the pixie cut, gray hair, AND capri pants aren’t paired together — a fifty year old female can only be stretched so far.)  My gripe is when the fashion police puts us into a middle-aged box of do’s and don’ts when what should truly matter is the sum of our experiences.

For instance.

At age fifty,  I’ve experienced two marriages and divorce … healthy relationships and abuse … having a successful career and being a stay at home mom … raising typical kiddos and raising kiddos who are differently abled.  I know what it’s like to have a close knit family, but I also know what it feels like when the family unit crumbles with estrangement.  I’m the very proud momma of two adopted kiddos, and can tell you that my love for those two is the exact same as it is for the three I birthed.

I’ve weighed too much and too little, and now have determined the scale doesn’t matter near as much as choosing good health.  Reveling in the highest of highs one moment, I’ve also walked through the deepest valleys of depression the next.  I’ve written books and songs, have earned my place in 5k races, attended law school for two years, and ran for state senate as a write-in candidate to bring light to a law that would have been unfavorable to the special needs community.

I’ve been fortunate to have formed associations with individuals who, just by their very existence, make me dare to believe there is a God.  At the same time, though, I still wrestle with the heavy weight of disbelief.   I’ve mourned the loss of loved ones.  I fear for the future of my children who have Down syndrome.  What if I die first?  And as the former owner of a non-profit that provided free clothing to teenage girls who are fighting through the ravages of poverty, the foster care system, and an addiction to self harm, I can tell you without a moment’s hesitation that “those kids” are amazing young women who are striving for a better future.  They cling to hope, as do I, for a society that will choose the attitude of love, peace, and charity over selfishness, fighting, and suffering.

These are the things that matter.

I get it.  I’m fifty.

And in the eyes of much of society, that means I’m now over the hill.

Regardless, my fifty years of life has mattered.

And your life matters too.

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Happy Birthday to me!!!!

~Mel

 

 

Fitness, get fit, self care, skin care

Don’t Let Age Define Your Legs

I’m turning fifty in seven days.  A couple of years ago, I decided I wanted my body to be the best it could be by the time I reached half a century.  And I’ve succeeded.  Do you want to do the same?  If so, follow along with my blog and keep reading.

Warm weather is no longer creeping upon us at a snail’s place.  It’s officially arrived.  As a firm believer in being my best self, I want to show you how you can have fantastic looking legs for Summer.   Admittedly, it’s work  … but anything worth having requires effort and consistency.  In the end, when you feel confident in your shorts, your one-piece, or in your bikini, you’ll be happy you stuck with a plan.

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SKIN:  Skin is our largest organ, but sometimes we forget to take particular care of it.  I’m always amazed by the story of Queen Esther who went through twelve months of beauty treatments before she could even meet up with King Ahasuerus.  The words that formed the basis of “beauty treatments” in scripture, by the way, are translated “to scour, polish”.   The King’s servants literally scoured and polished that woman until she was shining with beauty.

As we age, its no secret we begin to lose moisture and elasticity, which can cause our skin to look dull, dry, and old.   When wearing shorts or a bathing suit, we want and need our legs to shine just like Queen Esther’s.  So here’s what I do at least three days per week:

First, I exfoliate (scour) my legs with a sugar and olive oil mixture.

Second, I cover my legs in a dead sea mud mask.

Third, I rinse and then coat my legs in a neck firming cream.  (Yes, I know it sounds crazy to use a neck firming cream on legs … but it really works!)

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I use the olive oil / sugar scrub because it’s natural, and because olive oil is such a good moisturizer for your skin.  Homer called it “liquid gold”, and the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans used it in place of soap.  They’d apply it to their skin and then scrape off dirt and dead skin.  (Gross, but true!)  If it worked for the ancients, and if we’re still using it today, it has to be legitimate.

I swear by the Dead Sea Mud Mask.  I use it all over my body often.  According to the package, it detoxifies impurities and restores skin with nourishing minerals – magnesium, calcium, potassium, zinc, and iron.  It also shrinks pores and tightens fine lines and wrinkles.  Getting rid of toxins makes sense to me.  You can find it here.  

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So why the neck firming cream?  On my legs?  haha.  It actually happened by accident.  I work religiously on forming muscles in my legs, but no matter how much muscle I gained, I still wasn’t happy with the appearance of my legs.  I wanted them to not only be muscular and lean, but to be vibrant.  I searched Amazon for any type of cream that would help firm my skin, and found this neck firming cream.  It had great reviews, so I gave it a shot.  It has worked wonders!!!!  No kidding, my legs look twenty years younger, and I could tell a difference within days.  You can find this miracle product here.

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MUSCLES:  If you want younger looking legs, not only is it important to care for you skin, but it’s equally important to take care of your leg muscles.  Build them.  Sculpt them.  Envision what you want them to look like, and then go for it.  If time is an issue, here is a simple twenty minute plan to get you started:

10 minutes:  Run one mile per day.  It’s easy and will reduce fat while building muscle fast.

10 minutes:  Weighted squats / Weighted calf raises / Weighted donkey kicks (4 sets of 12) Do this every other day.  On your off days, spend those same 10 minutes on arms as a bonus!!!

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No matter when you were born, remember, age does not have to define your legs.  You get to control what your body looks like at any age.  So go for it!!!

Just my thoughts,

~Melanie

 

Fitness

So You’re Over Forty And Ready To Begin Building Muscle?

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Getting older is such a pain, isn’t it?  What used to come so easy requires much more effort.   Even sleeping now requires effort … what is that about and whyyyyy?  Just over three years ago, I found myself at a real crossroad in life.  Everything fell apart in one fell swoop, and I wanted to curl up in a hole and disappear.  But I was still responsible for two kiddos who have special needs and who require constant care, so retreat wasn’t an option.  You’ve heard of flight or fight?  I thankfully chose to fight and have been fighting like hell ever since.

You may not be at a major crossroad in your life, but perhaps your waistline is.  haha.  You can’t really run from your waistline, so maybe it’s time to fight back.  Want to lose some of that fat?  Decrease the risk of Osteoporosis?  Burn more calories?  And improve your heart’s health?  Then, you better hit the weights and get to lifting.  When you’re ready to take that first step toward build muscle, as with anything, it’s best to begin with a simple solid foundation.  Three really good tools for your cache are the foam roller, the medicine ball, and Yoga.  I’d suggest to begin by spending one month, 30 minutes a day, becoming a student of these three fitness weapons that will assist you in initial steps toward slaying your body.

  1.  Foam Rolling:  Do you foam roll before or after a workout?  Yes.  Both.  It only takes a couple minutes of time and is worth every second.  Rolling Massagers reduce muscle tension and tightness, reduce soreness, and reduce levels of stress hormones.   Some studies say it even fires up your central nervous system, helping to regulate heart rate and blood flow.  I don’t know much about the scientific evidence, but I do know how foam rolling has benefited me.  I work out hard six days a week, and still run and do yoga on the seventh day.  As a result, muscle pain has become my norm.  I kept reading about roller massagers, but was a major skeptic until one day I found one on sale and decided to give it a try.  Aaaaaaand it works.  After rolling, my muscles feel energized and aren’t nearly as sore.  As with anything, rolling can be overdone, so I keep it to only a few minutes twice a day.  Most rollers are around $30.00, so it’s not much of an investment to add to your fitness arsenal.  If you’re looking for a first step, then buy one!    foam roller
  2. Medicine Ball:  Medicine Balls were used by ancient Greek Athletes and Gladiators, and they’re still around today, so there must be something special about them, right?  Absolutely.  Not only will you burn calories with the medicine ball, but you’ll build strength, power, balance, and work your core.  Abdominal curls, Russian twists, big circles, standing torso twists, woodchoppers, lunge twists, wall sits, chest pushes, hamstring curls, knee crushers, and squat leg raises are all examples of what you can easily do with one simple medicine ball.  With three sets of 12 reps, building muscle with these exercises will be no problem.  To buy a 6 lb. ball, click here.  For an 8 lb. ball, click here.pineapple clothing 2

    3.  Yoga:  Last, but far from least, is Yoga.  I cannot say enough about Yoga.  It has transformed my life and my body.  To build beautiful lean muscles the right way, you need to be physically flexible, and Yoga will definitely improve your flexibility.  More than that, however, yoga will also increase your muscle tone, improve your energy, help you maintain a balanced metabolism, improve your circulatory health, produce a gorgeous posture, and as an added benefit, will greatly enhance your mood.  Formal Yoga exercise classes can be found at most gyms, but Yoga instruction can also be found on DVDs and at your fingertips on convenient phone apps.  I have the Asana Rebel application loaded on my cell phone and use it every day.  The most magnificent thing about Yoga is you can jump in at anytime, at any age, and at any level … and grow into it.  It’s something you evolve into slowly, but the benefits are almost immediate.

     

     

    As with anything, building muscle takes time, dedication, hard work, and patience.   Consistency pays off.  If you begin with these three simple building blocks, you’re off to a strong start.  Just stick with it, and then slowly incorporate other exercises into your life.  Each new challenge will bring a brand new reward.
    If you ever need any help getting started, and if you live close by, just let me know!
    ~Mel