5 Ways to Speed Up Your Six-Pack

No matter what your age, body type, or fitness level, I’m pretty sure one of your main workout goals is to improve your abs. And why not? A flat midsection, with or without a visible six-pack, is the ultimate symbol of being fit and lean. (And yes, it looks great at the beach.) But it’s not just a matter of vanity—a strong core helps stabilize your entire body. That’s why every workout program should include a variety of ab-tightening exercises.

Still, whatever you’re doing to get fit, there’s always room for improvement where the core is concerned. Here are five tips to help you to get those great abs faster than ever:

5 Ways to Speed Up Your Six Pack

1. Work your entire core.

Our “core” (the trunk muscles of your abdomen, lower back, and pelvis) is a whole system that supports your body as you stand up straight, perform everyday activities, and work out. And it’s important to strengthen all these muscles, not just the rectus abdominis (the main “six-pack” muscles targeted by crunches). At the very least, you should strengthen the spinal erectors of the lower back to balance out your abs, which will help your posture and reduce the risk of back pain. Think of total-core training as increasing your functional fitness—meaning you won’t just look better, but you’ll also be able to do things better.

2. Take it slow.

When you’re doing crunches or other ab-focused exercises, it’s easy to speed up and lose proper form, especially when you start to get tired. Either you let momentum carry you through much of the movement or you pull yourself up with your back and shoulders. But you’ll get the most benefit (and the least chance of injury) from your workout if you concentrate on measured, controlled movements. And keep the abdominals contracted the entire time. After all, they’re the ones that should be doing the work. (Doing some Pilates-style movements in which you lift your upper body to a count of 8 and then lower to a count of 8 are a good way to train yourself to slow it down.) When you can’t do any more reps with the proper form, it’s time to stop.

3. Don’t overdo it.

If you really want great abs, you may be tempted to grind out crunch after crunch to the exclusion of other exercises, or to do more ab-centered workouts than your fitness program recommends. But directly working your abs too often can do more harm than good. Like any muscle, the abdominals need to recover between workouts. If you find you aren’t improving the number of reps you can do or the amount of weight you can handle, that’s a sign that you’re overtraining, and you need to cut back.

4. Don’t neglect the rest of your body.

The more you work your entire body, the better it is for your abs. In fact, just about any full-body or compound movement, from push-ups to squats to deadlifts, takes a lot of ab effort. What’s more, working your full body will burn many more calories and raise your metabolism, which is important, because you also need to…

5. Lose the fat to make your abs flat.

No matter how much you strengthen your abdominal muscles, the only way to get a flat midsection is to lose body fat. That’s going to require a diet that’s high in protein and fiber, low in simple carbs, and full of bulky, nutrient-dense foods that keep you full with fewer calories—and of course, plenty of water. If you’re on a meal plan associated with a particular workout, make sure you’re really following it and not fudging here and there. (Keeping a food diary can help.) When you combine an effective full-body workout with a proper diet, getting the flat abs you’ve always wanted is just a matter of time.

Pumpkin Risotto

Risotto is comfort food, pure and simple, but it can be loaded with high-fat ingredients. That’s why I created this delicious, lighter version with pumpkin, sage, and brown arborio rice (if you can’t find it, brown rice will do).

Pumpkin Risotto Healthy Recipe

Pumpkin Risotto

Total Time: 1 hr. 10 min.
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cooking Time: 1 hr.
Yield: 6 servings, about ¾ cup each

4 cups low-sodium organic vegetable broth
3½ cups water
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3 medium shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ cup dry white wine (or water)
1¼ cups dry brown Arborio rice
2½ cups cubed raw pumpkin (½-inch cubes)
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage
¼ tsp. ground black pepper

1. Heat broth and water in large saucepan over medium heat. Do not boil. Set aside.
2. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.
3. Add shallots; cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until shallots are translucent.
4. Add garlic; cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute.
5. Add wine; cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute, or until wine evaporates.
6. Add rice; cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute.
7. Add 1 cup broth mixture; cook, stirring frequently, for 6 minutes, or until liquid is almost completely absorbed.
8. Add remaining broth mixture ½ cup at a time; cook, stirring constantly. Add the next ½ cup after the first ½ cup is absorbed. (This will take about 50 minutes.)
9. Add pumpkin during the last 15 minutes of cooking.
10. After all the broth mixture has been added, add cheese, sage, and pepper; mix well.
11. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving):
Calories: 220
Total Fat: 4 g
Total Carbohydrates: 38 g (Fiber: 2 g; Sugars: 3 g)
Protein: 5 g

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10 Excuses to Not Work Out — And How to Overcome Them

I’m too tired. I’m too overweight. I don’t have time. It’s easy to come up with a zillion reasons NOT to exercise. Here are tips to overcome the top 10 excuses to working out.

Overcome Workout Excuses

Excuse #1: I can’t afford a gym.

The cost of gym memberships can vary widely — from $10 a month to more than $200. According to Statista.com, nearly 55 million Americans were members of a fitness center as of 2015. But here’s the problem — 67 percent of people with gym memberships NEVER use them, so if you fall into that category the only weight you’ll lose is from your wallet.

Solution: Instead of putting your fitness dollars down the drain with an unused gym membership, look for more affordable solutions like creating a simple home gym and joining Beachbody On Demand, which provides unlimited, streaming access to hundreds of workouts for just $99 per year. The result: More muscle for less money.


Excuse #2: I’m way too tired to exercise.

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Our 24/7 lifestyle often leaves us feeling busier and busier, and as a result, downright exhausted. “When I ask people to give me one word for how they feel most often, whether it’s a high school athlete or a group of leaders, they consistently use the word ‘tired’,” says Jarrod Spencer, Psy.D., sports psychologist at Mind of the Athlete in Bethlehem, PA. “And it’s not just a physical fatigue. It’s a low emotional energy leaving us feeling negative and drained.” All this leaves us wanting to skip workouts to preserve what little energy we have left.

Solution: When you feel too tired to work out, Spencer says the solution is… to actually work out. “Working out is almost paradoxical. It can make your muscles physically tired, but you’ll actually feel more energized from it.” Once you start sweating, Spencer explains, your body will start releasing neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and natural endorphins that will make you feel better. You may need to find a mantra that helps to train your brain to overcome your tired body’s reluctance. Set a reminder on your phone that triggers positive notifications like “I’ll have more energy after I exercise” or “You’ll never regret a sweat session” to pop up before your scheduled workout. Planning to exercise with a friend will also motivate you to keep your commitment to exercise even when you’re pooped.


Excuse #3: I need more motivation than health to hit the gym.

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If losing weight or your general health isn’t a good enough reason to work out and you need extra incentives, do some soul-searching to find what will work to motivate you to get moving.

Solution: Give yourself a reward for meeting your fitness goals — a reward that you really want. If you love massages, book a massage at the end of every month you complete your target number of work outs. You can log your workouts using a habit-tracking app like HabitBull to keep you on track. How about money as a motivating factor? Apps like Pact allow you to wager money on meeting your workout schedule. You receive cash when you hit your goals, but cough up money when you don’t. A more altruistic soul? Track your sweat sessions with the Charity Miles app that donates money to your choice of charity for every workout you log.


Excuse #4: I don’t have time.

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Between kids and a commute, a job and other responsibilities of life, it can feel hard to fit a workout in your daily schedule. There is only so much time in the day and with so much on our plates, working out can often get pushed to the back burner.

Solution: Instead of trying to find time to work out, think about how you can make time. The trick is to find a block of time in your daily schedule that’s consistently free of commitments. For some, that might be before or after work. For others, that might be during their lunch hour.

The time commitment can be minimal. If you can carve out just a half hour a day for exercise, you’ll have all the time you need to get in the best shape of your life.

“Many of us have ‘fear of missing out’ and so we have difficulty saying ‘no’ to things,” explains Spencer. “The key is learning how to say ‘no’ to some things and ‘yes’ to taking care of ourselves.”

And if you are trying to figure out how to eat healthy when you are crunched for time, check out this article for 8 simple strategies!


Excuse #5: I don’t like working out alone.

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Unless you have a crazy big supply of internal motivation, working out with a friend can make your workout time fly by and prompt you to push yourself a little harder. Since there is no accountability when we work out solo, it’s easier to flake or not give the workout your best effort.

Solution: Ask a friend to meet you for a weekend run or see if some colleagues want to join you for a HIIT session, a bootcamp, or a dance class after work. Exercising with a partner or a group increases motivation and consistency.

Don’t have any friends (or at least any into fitness)? Find some by looking for upcoming fitness-focused get-togethers on Meetup.comZogsports.com, or your work bulletin board. You can also check out the Bvddy app which works like Tinder for your workouts helping you find fellow squash players, jog buddies, or tennis partners to grow your sports – and social – life.


Excuse #6: I’m too old/fat/uncoordinated/embarrassed to exercise.

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Sure, it may be easy for that size 0, twentysomething to just looooove going to the gym, but me? — you think — not so much. Whether you feel too old, too overweight, or ridiculous in workout wear to break a sweat, there is a simple solution. Start small, but start with something.

Solution: Go for a walk, says Spencer, ideally with a friend and in a park or somewhere else in nature. “Walking is the best way and the first step to get a person moving forward. Often times, people won’t even realize how far they have gone!” And how many calories they’ve burned. Video workouts are another great option since they can be done in the privacy of your own home and often include examples of how to scale up or down the workout to match your ability and fitness level. Try a program like Beachbody’s PiYo that uses low-impact but effective moves to burn fat and sculpt your muscles. Or YOUv2, which is a lively dance workout program created for beginners that is so much fun that you may forget you’re working out.


Excuse #7: I get bored easily.

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Cringe at the thought of hitting the treadmill or same exercise class again? The key to beating boredom is to find a workout program that both caters to your fitness level and that you actually look forward to. It’s also important to switch things up every few weeks or months so that you don’t fall into a “routine.”

Solution: If your gym doesn’t offer an assortment of classes to choose from, consider signing up for Beachbody On Demand, which includes a variety of workout programs from a handful of the nation’s top trainers that encompass a range of exercise styles and intensities. There’s something for every personality, exercise preference, and fitness level.


Excuse #8: I don’t like to sweat.

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Exercise doesn’t have to mean grunting and groaning and dripping in sweat. There are a variety of effective workouts that burn calories and build muscle while not leaving you dripping in sweat.

Solution: Try a slower-paced workout that emphasizes stretching and controlled movements. One great option is a yoga class that focuses less on getting your heart pumping and more on experiencing a full-body stretch, increasing your balance and flexibility, as well as strengthening muscle by holding yoga poses.


Excuse #9: I’m a full-time parent.

Let’s be honest – kids are cute, but they take time so parents and caregivers need to get creative in order to find ways to exercise with kids around.

Solution: When kids are young, pop them in a jogging stroller for a few laps around the neighborhood. As they get older, find ways to exercise that mesh well with your kids’ activities. Run trails at the baseball fields while your son goes to practice or do intervals on the school stairs while you wait for dance class to let out. Parents can also model healthy living by finding workouts that kids and parents can do together! Beachbody On Demand now has a “kids and family” category. Whether it’s a family bike ride, friendly game of hoops, or a dance-based workout like YOUv2, exercising as a family will help you spend time together, fit in your workout, and help you demonstrate healthy habits.

This article on getting yourself back on track during the school year has even more advice!


Excuse #10: I don’t like to work out around the opposite sex.

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If the opposite sex makes you self-conscience to break a sweat, find ways to overcome your fear.

Solution: See if your gym offers gender-specific classes or workout areas. Of course, working out in the privacy of your own home also solves this problem. So choose your favorite workout program on Beachbody On Demand, and with the curtains closed, bust out your calorie-burn session.

Cantaloupe Crème Protein Shake

Cantaloupe might not get as much love as other fruits, but summer is a prime time to add this melon to your diet. Switch out the standard summer fruits and try incorporating cantaloupe into your next Shakeology drink.

Cantaloupe Crème Protein Shake

Recipe - Cantaloupe Creme Protein Shake IG

Prep Time: 5 min.
Cooking Time: None
Yield: 1 serving

1 scoop Vanilla Shakeology (or your preferred protein powder)
1 cup cubed cantaloupe
1 cup water
½ cup ice (add more to taste)

Place all ingredients in blender; cover. Blend until smooth. Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts (per serving):
Calories: 184
Fat: 2 g
Carbohydrates: 27 g (Fiber: 4 g; Sugars: 20 g)
Protein: 17 g

Making a SPLASH! 8 Benefits of Swimming

As you know, I’m all about switching up exercises each week to keep the body guessing and to continue working different muscles in order to get stronger and healthier. I was NEVER a swimmer, and, in fact,  I turned my nose up at the idea of swimming in high school when I had to choose a fall sport to get out of PE! Anything where I had to stick my head under the water for long periods of time was a no-go for me. Then when I joined the triathlon team in college, it was literally either sink or swim! So I learned how to swim… And oh my gosh… I’ve never looked back! Great for both mind and body, here’s why spending more time in the water is a seriously smart choice… (not to mention, it’s a great way to get a tan and epic total body exercise outdoors without worrying about the summer heat! In my opinion, the HOTTER it is outside, the BETTER for swimming!)

8 Benefits of Swimming

1. Swimming helps to manage weight

Expect to burn around 367 calories after just 30 minutes of breaststroke – that beats walking, cycling and even running.

2. Swimming reduces stress levels and raises self-esteem

Anytime I need a mental release or it’s just been “one of those days”, I make sure to hit the pool and just drown out the cares of the day under the water! According to a survey of 4000 swimmers undertaken by Speedo, 74% agree that swimming releases stress and tension, 68% say that being in the water helps them to feel good about themselves, and 70% feel mentally refreshed after swimming.

3. Swimming boosts your mood

As with most exercise, you get that “high” after you’ve finished, and all of sudden you feel like there is nothing you can’t do! Another study shows that swimmers, no matter what level, are less prone to tension, depression, anger and confusion when they’ve been swimming. It means that novice and amateur swimmers can feel just as good as the pros, thanks to the release of feel-good hormone serotonin.

4. Swimming strengthens muscles

I’m a total weights-girl… so the concept of “weight lifting” in water totally speaks to me. The resistance of water can be 44 TIMES greater than air, meaning you have to work harder to move through it. It’s like working out with weights or machines without the need for expensive equipment, which makes swimming an affordable way to strengthen your muscles.

5. Swimming is low-impact exercise

I was drawn to swimming after my latest knee surgery, because it felt so good to be able to do something active that didn’t hurt. I could walk in the water when I couldn’t walk on land, I had no problem aqua jogging, and then, of course, swimming itself felt amazing! You’re only bearing about 10% of your weight when you swim due to the buoyancy of water. With greater ease of movement and less strain on bones, joints, and muscles, swimming has a lower risk of injury than many other forms of exercise.

6. Swimming improves your sleep

I’ve never had trouble catching some good Zzzz’s (I think it’s a gene in my family), but it has been shown that people who undertake vigorous exercise, such as swimming, are around twice as likely to report on having a good night’s sleep, according to a poll by the National Sleep Foundation. “They’re least likely to report sleep problems, with most avoiding problems like insomnia and waking too early.”

7. Swimming is sweat-free

There’s nothing I love more than a good sweat, but there are many people that don’t actually care for the feeling of sweat. As a swimmer, you’ll never get overheated or feel sweaty because the water around you is constantly cooling you down.

8. Swimming lowers risk of disease

My favorite aspect of all! And perhaps the thing that makes swimming the most beneficial for everyone. Swimming is not only kind to your heart and a great form of cardiovascular exercise, it’s also been shown to control blood sugar levels, lower blood pressure, and reduce levels of bad cholesterol in your blood. So by swimming regularly, you’re less likely to develop illnesses like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

BONUS: different swimming Stroke demonstrations

What are you waiting for?!? Go take a dip in the water today and start reaping all of the benefits!

5 Tips to Avoid Muscle Soreness

Nothing derails your fitness goals like feeling sore. Yet getting sore is almost unavoidable—it’s a rite of passage, if you will. But it doesn’t have to wipe you out. Follow these tips and, if you’re lucky, you’ll avoid the dreaded DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) monster altogether.

How to Avoid Muscle Soreness

1. Start SLOooW

It’s very tempting to begin an exercise program with a lot of enthusiasm, but try your best to go at a reasonable pace. If you’ve never exercised, or it’s been a long time since you have, go much easier than you feel you are capable of on Day 1 and ramp things up at a pace that is based on how you feel. If you’re not sore, go a little harder the next day. If you’re a little sore, take it down a notch. If you’re very sore, scroll down to the next section of this article to mitigate the soreness.

If you’ve been exercising, but it’s been more than a week since you last worked out, follow the same pattern but go harder, based—again—on how fit you are. A good example to use here would be to start with about half of the workout scheduled—something like the warm-up, cooldown, and one round of exercises. Because you have a better fitness base, you can advance a little bit further each day than if you were out of shape. In general, take about a week to get back to full-bore 100% effort. This is also the example you want to use if you’ve been training and taken some time off.

If you’ve been exercising, but are starting a new program, base how hard you push yourself on how much advancement there is in your program. Whenever your program makes a big jump, in time, intensity, or style of training (from all cardio to weight training, for instance), you’ll always want to hold a bit back in the beginning.

The reason is that your body has two types of muscle fibers: fast and slow (there are actually increments of these but this is enough for our scope). Fast-twitch fibers are very strong but break down easily and take a long time to repair. This translates into soreness. By easing into a program, you rely on your slow-twitch fibers which aren’t as strong but recovery very quickly. Going full bore on Day 1 activates your fast-twitch fibers, and leads to extensive breakdown and soreness. The harder you go, the sorer you are likely to get because there is something called emergency fibers, the fastest of the fast, which can take two weeks to repair.

2. Minimize Eccentric Motion

Concentric contraction is the shortening of the muscle, while eccentric contraction is the lengthening part of the movement. DOMS is almost entirely related to the eccentric part of the movement. You might be asking yourself, can I do one without the other? Good question.

If you’re doing a biceps curl, the concentric part of the movement is when you move the weight up, while the eccentric part is the way down. In order to avoid the eccentric part, you need to drop your weight. This won’t make you very popular in a gym and might ruin your floor at home, so probably not a very helpful suggestion.

In other cases, avoiding eccentric motion can be impossible. Jumping, for instance, uses concentric force to get you elevated, at which point you need to land, which is eccentric. The only way to do concentric-only jumps is to jump onto a platform and then lightly step down. Again, not too practical.

You can, however, limit the amount of time you’re lengthening your muscles. Slowing down your concentric motions and returning to the start position very quickly, or eliminating the airborne portion of jump training, are good ways to mostly avoid eccentric motion with only slight modifications.

You may have noticed that a lot of very popular exercise programs actually target jumping and eccentric movements. That’s because training them is highly effective, just not until your body is in shape to handle it. Which it never will be unless you proceed slowly and carefully.

3. Hydrate

Dehydration can also make you sore. In fact, once you’re used to your workout program, nearly all excessive soreness is due to dehydration or nutritional deficiencies.

Most people are chronically dehydrated. In fact, you can actually get sore by simply being dehydrated, even without the exercise. Adding exercise increases your water needs. A lot. Hydration is your body’s first defense against, not only soreness, but also most illnesses and other maladies.

How much water you need varies depending on your activity level, lifestyle, where you live, etc., but an easy gauge to use is to drink half your body weight in ounces each day. That’s before you account for exercise. For each hour you work out, you should add another 32 ounces (on average). This, too, varies based on the individual, heat, humidity, exercise intensity, and so forth, but you probably get the idea. You need a lot of water for optimal performance.

Water isn’t the only factor in hydration. Electrolytes, or body salts, are also sweated out when you exercise and must be replaced. If you’re training an hour per day or less, you probably don’t need to worry about them unless your diet is very low in sodium.

It’s also possible to drink too much water, a condition called hyponatremia. While this is a deadly condition, it’s irrelevant for most of the population for most conditions. Hyponatremia is an imbalance of water and electrolytes. However, it’s very hard for normal humans to get hyponatremia in everyday circumstances because you have to drink a lot of water, have very little salt, and sweat profusely for a long time. So while it’s a very real danger for those doing Ironman triathlons or people stranded in deserts, it’s not a relevant concern for most of us. If you’ve been eating regularly, your foods contain some salt (most do), and you’re not exercising over an hour or two per day, it’s not something to worry about unless you’re drinking multiple gallons of water a day.

4. Get Postworkout Fuel

The hour after you finish exercising is your nutrition sweet spot. The quicker your muscles recover, the less sore you get, so you never want to skip your postworkout snack unless you’ve reached a point when you know you’re not going to get sore.

What this snack should consist of has been debated for ages but countless modern studies show that glycogen depletion (replenished quickest with simple carbohydrates), should be your primary concern. Glycogen is a fuel that your muscles store in limited amounts. When you run out of it during exercise, your workout goes south very quickly. When it’s gone, muscle damage increases until it’s been restored.

Protein, which repairs muscle tissue but is very slow to digest, replenishing body salts, and targeted micronutrients (aka vitamins), all come next.

Left out of this puzzle is fat, but not in all forms. Some studies show promise using medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) postexercise, though it’s probably too techie to bother with in this article because most consumable fat slows digestion of all nutrients, which should also be your first priority when excessive muscle tissue damage has been done.

What is debated, however, is what that ideal carb to protein ratio should be. It basically comes down to how depleted your glycogen stores are. The more depleted, the more important carbohydrates become in your replenishment strategy.

While you will learn to tell when your glycogen is gone (or low) through experience, keep this in mind for now: the body can store enough glycogen for about an hour of hard training. If your workouts are 30 minutes or less, you may not need any carbohydrates. Approach an hour and you probably need at least some.

It also matters what you’ve eaten during the day, prior to the workout. If you’re hungry at the start, it could be an indication that your glycogen is low. If you start low, you may run out quickly.

Glycogen depletion is characterized by feeling empty. If you hit a point in your workout where you feel like you can’t go on, or you’re performing worse than you had been, you’re likely out of glycogen. Known as bonking in sports circles, when this happens you’ll want to shut down a workout and fuel up ASAP.

When you’re out of glycogen, it’s most effectively replaced by a targeted recovery supplement, like Results and Recovery Formula. These are formulated using every nutrient your body can use for recovery. In lieu of that, almost anything carb heavy can be effective. Something like a small bowl of cereal, perhaps with a banana, is a decent substitute. Aim to consume between 100 and 250 calories, depending on your size and how difficult your workout was. More than that probably can’t be digested within an hour.

If your workout was short or didn’t seem to tax you too much, opting for a protein-based snack is a better choice. Whey protein, due to the quickness your body absorbs it, is the best option here, and it’s also where you might consider MCTs if you’re intrigued by them.

To read about what’s the best preworkout meal, check out my What Should You Eat Before Your Workout article.

5. Pick the Correct Workout Program

It’s worth noting that the more you stretch yourself with your choice of workout, program, or even each individual workout, the more you increase your chances of getting sore. The right program—or a trainer/coach—should ease you into exercise at a pace your body can handle, which is always the better choice. But, you know, whatever works for your psyche is probably what you’re going to choose. And that’s okay. Just be honest with yourself, and follow the rules above if you know you’re biting off a little more than you can chew.

What Happens If You Do Get Sore?

No matter how diligent we are, we all seem to mess this up, somehow, sometimes. Depending upon how much you skewed it, you can be back at full strength within a few days.

Occasionally—at least if you’re like me—you’ll go way beyond what you should have done. In such cases, you can be out up to a couple of weeks. Either way, these tips will help you get back on the fast track.

1. Move

The last thing you want to do, when everything hurts is to move. But that’s exactly what you need to do. While you won’t want to continue with your gung ho workouts, you’ll still want to exercise daily. How much you do depends upon how sore you are.

If you really overcooked it, and things like walking down stairs feel like a torture test (I’ve been there), you won’t want to do much beyond moving as much as you can. All movement promotes blood circulation, and the more blood you circulate around your body, the quicker you’ll heal.

If you have a more sensible soreness, you can do your workout at a modified pace or, better yet, choose a recovery workout. If you’re using a Beachbody program, it probably came with a recovery workout or two. These workouts are designed to help your body work out kinks and soreness better than doing nothing could ever hope to. They can be used anytime you need them, can’t be done too often, and always leave you feeling much better than before you started.

2. Use Circulation Techniques

You can also induce circulation with some other techniques, all of which will help. In extreme cases, physical therapists are loaded with various devices to aid recovery, but here are three you can do at home. While none of these will rid you of soreness alone, each one you can put into practice improves your chances of relief.

Ice and heat – Though ice slows circulation over time, it’s a fantastic circulation tool when used strategically. Your body is almost a hundred degrees. Rubbing ice on (or submerging for short periods of time) affected areas causes blood to rush from that area. Applying a little heat brings it back. It’s a bit like moving, without the movement.

Hot/cold showers – On the same theme, alternately turning your shower on hot, then cold, and pointing it at sore muscles causes a similar effect. The greater contrast between hot and cold you can stand, the greater the recovery effect.

Restoration poses – Also known as taking a load off, yoga restoration poses are a bit more targeted than just kicking it on the couch with your feet up, though some of the poses are very similar. These are movement-free poses designed to circulate blood in and out of targeted areas.

Nutrition – The better you eat, the better your body works, period. When you have excessive breakdown, which you do when you’re sore, every nutrient helps. It’s a common tendency to drown injuries (and soreness is a small injury) with alcohol and desserts. And while that may help your mental state, it will slow down your recovery.

What Not To Do If You’re Sore: Take NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)

In the “what doesn’t work” section, see vitamin I (street name for ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin). While they are a common tool for recovery and pain relief, especially for recreational athletes, studies have repeatedly shown that they don’t aid in muscle recovery and, in fact, may exacerbate muscle breakdown. Plus, they come with a slew of other side effects.

Therefore, they should be avoided as much as possible. Understandably, you may want to use them to mask the pain in the most acute stages. Just know that it’s masking, and not solving, the recovery process. There’s too much on this topic to go into here, so I’ve provided some studies (below) for the curious.

More Resources:

  • Donnelly AE, Maughan RJ, Whiting PH. Effects of ibuprofen on exercise-induced muscle soreness and indices of muscle damage.
  • Gorsline RT1, Kaeding CC. The use of NSAIDs and nutritional supplements in athletes with osteoarthritis: prevalence, benefits, and consequences.Clin Sports Med. 2005 Jan;24(1):71-82.
  • Rahnama N, Rahmani-Nia F, Ebrahim K. The isolated and combined effects of selected physical activity and ibuprofen on delayed-onset muscle soreness. Journal of Sports Science. 2005 Aug; 23(8): 843-50.
  • Trelle S1, Reichenbach S, Wandel S, Hildebrand P, Tschannen B, Villiger PM, Egger M, Jüni P. Cardiovascular safety of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: network meta-analysis.BMJ. 2011 Jan 11;342:c7086. doi: 10.1136/bmj.c7086.
  • Warden SJ. Prophylactic use of NSAIDs by athletes: a risk/benefit assessment. Phys Sportsmed. 2010 Apr;38(1):132-8. doi: 10.3810/psm.2010.04.1770.
  • Wharam PC, Speedy DB, Noakes TD, Thompson JM, Reid SA, Holtzhausen LM. NSAID use increases the risk of developing hyponatremia during an Ironman triathlon. Medicine and Science Sports and Exercise. 2006 Apr; 38(4): 618-22.

5 Reasons You Keep Getting Injured

When you drop a kettlebell on your foot or karate kick the coffee table, there’s no mystery as to why you’re injured. It’s when there isn’t an obvious cause and you find yourself limping to the sideline that leaves you scratching your head (and rubbing your achy muscles or tendons) in search of clues as to what went wrong. These five reasons could very well be the culprits that are keeping you from injury-free exercise.

5 Reasons You Keep Getting Injured

1. You’re Dehydrated

Dehydration can lead to loss of focus and coordination. The less focus you have, the more prone you are to making avoidable mistakes putting yourself at a greater risk of injury because in most cases… the muscle doesn’t have the capacity to do its full range of motion.

There’s no hard-and-fast rule for how much water you should consume on a daily basis. The “drink eight glasses per day” advice you were taught in phys ed has largely been dismissed. So instead of going by thirst, check your urine. If it’s dark in color, like iced tea, chug a glass of water. If it’s pale yellow to nearly clear, you’re in the clear. And if it’s sparkling neon green, you’re undoubtedly a space mutant.

Symptoms of dehydration include headaches, fatigue, and light-headedness. What’s more, according to a small study published in the Journal of Nutrition, even moderate dips in hydration levels can turn someone into a grouch.

2. You’re Unsure About Being Sore

Do you know the difference between good sore and bad sore? It’s important info to possess for a couple of reasons — 1) it’s the type of question that might pop up in the Cash Cab; 2) knowing can enable you to detect an injury, or prevent one from worsening. Bad soreness typically has a radiating sensation. Or it’s a localized, continual disruption or irritation. Good soreness isn’t sharp, shooting, stinging, or radiating. It just feels like it’s within the movement pattern or general muscle tissue.

Where the soreness occurs can also tip you off. Good sores do not exist in the joints. Joint pain can typically be a result of some type of injury, or a lack of hydration, recovery, or lubrication. If that’s the case, drinking more water may be able to help you hydrate. Whether you feel a radiating sensation or discomfort in the joints, a wise idea would be to reassess your approach to training and recovery, and revisit your body alignment during exercises that utilize those body parts. You should also ice down the injury to reduce inflammation.

3. Your Warm-Up Was Lukewarm

A proper warm-up does more than prime the body for a workout; it helps improve your performance. While trainers like Shaun T and Tony Horton remind you how important warm-ups are before each Beachbody workout, you also need a warm-up game plan if you’re working out solo.

A general warm-up elevates the heart rate, while a specific warm-up uses similar biomechanics and movements that target muscles that will be used in forthcoming exercises. So which of those is right for you? There’s really no right or wrong way to warm up, so an improper warm-up is subjective. It depends on each person. That means it’s on you to decide when your body feels it’s ready to rumble. But if you dodge your warm-up or fail to loosen up the right muscles (and those supporting ones, too) that oversight can come back to bite you in the back or shoulders, ankles, knees…

4. Your Ego Is Bigger Than Your Muscles

You probably feel like a chump doing so, but sitting out a set when you’re too sore (the bad type of sore) to continue or subbing in an easier exercise for one that’s too advanced is sometimes necessary to prevent injury. Your ego may get bruised in the process, but that’ll heal much quicker than a muscle tear.

When you’re on the fence about pushing further or participating in a progressive movement, slow things down. Double-check your technique and body alignment during the movement to reassure yourself that what you’re doing isn’t demanding too much of your body. Going slow and steady enables enough time to recruit other muscle fibers to help support and handle the workload.

5. You’re Not Stretching Enough

Optimally, you should be stretching multiple times per day. No, you don’t have to drop into a downward-facing dog in the middle of a meeting with your boss, but, specifically, you want to at least stretch before and after workouts. A preworkout stretch can identify which muscles have tension within them – and gives you more information to protect your muscles, having been aware of which seem tight, than if you go into a movement pattern having not stretched. Add extra warm-up time if you detect muscles that aren’t ready.

Stretching increases flexibility and encourages your joints to move through their full range of motion. However, before you train, opt for dynamic/ballistic stretching. Studies show static stretches during preworkout can actually inhibit the ability for muscles to fire, and performance output can decrease. Keep static stretches for your cool down instead. Hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds, and take it out as far as two minutes.

Mini Workouts, Major Results

When it comes to sustainable weight loss, you basically have two options: Eat less and exercise less, or eat more and exercise more. Odds are you’ll fall into the second category (me included!).

I know, I know… you’re barely able to carve out 40 or 60 minutes a day to work out as is. But what I’m talking about is doing two 10-minute sweat sessions instead of a single, longer one, so you’ll actually spend less time exercising. And for each of the below sessions, all you need is your bodyweight, so you can do them anytime, anywhere.

Not only are there scheduling advantages of splitting one long workout into smaller, more manageable chunks, but each time you exercise you initiate a series of metabolic events that help your body burn fat and build muscle. If you work out once per day, you’ll trigger those events once. But if you work out two or three times, well, you get the idea — you compound the effect, and ultimately reach your goals faster.

If you’re not sure where to start, try the mini-workouts below. Perform two of the workouts each day — one in the morning, and one in the afternoon or evening — and warm up with two minutes of jumping rope or jumping jacks before you begin. If you find any move too difficult, do the “modifier” exercise instead. Keep boredom at bay by mixing up the routines you do each day!

Mini Workouts - Major Results


Perform the exercises as a superset (one superset equals one set of each move back-to-back). Do as many supersets as you can in 5 minutes without rest. Start with 20 reps of the wideout drop and 10 reps of the judo push-up. In each successive superset, do two fewer reps of the wideout drop, and one fewer rep of the judo push-up. So in your second superset, you’ll do 18 wideout drops and nine judo push-ups. In your third set you’ll do 16 wideout drops and eight judo push-ups. You get the idea. Try to go all the way to zero reps of both exercises before your five minutes are up. If you do, begin working your way back up the sequence.

Purpose: Building explosive power in the legs and strength in the chest, shoulders, and triceps

Wideout Drop
Stand with your legs together, elbows by your sides, and hands together in front of your chest. Jump your feet out to your sides and drop into a wide squat, extending your arms straight out in front of your chest. Spring back up to the starting position, and then begin your next rep without pausing.

Modifier: Bodyweight squat (perform each rep quickly, exploding up from the bottom position, but don’t jump).

Judo Push-Up
Begin in a push-up position but move your feet hip-width apart, and raise your hips so your body forms an upside-down V. Lower the front of your body with your arms until your chin nears the floor, and then swoop your head and shoulders upward while lowering your hips until they almost touch the floor (you should end in an “upward dog” position). Reverse the move to return to the starting position.

Modifier: Standard push-up.


Perform the exercises as a superset (one superset equals one set of each move back-to-back). Do as many supersets as you can in 5 minutes without rest. Start with 20 reps of the split jump and 10 reps of the explosive push-up. In each successive superset, do 2 fewer reps of the split jump, and one fewer rep of the push-up. Try to get all the way to zero reps of both exercises before your time is up. If you do, begin working your way back up the sequence.

Purpose: Building explosive power in both the upper and lower body.

Split Jump
Assume a staggered stance with your left foot forward. Lower your body into a lunge, and then jump with enough force to propel both feet off the floor. Land with your right leg forward. That’s one rep. Alternate legs each rep.

Modifier: Split squat (perform each rep quickly, exploding up from the bottom position, but don’t jump).

Explosive Push-Up
Assume a push-up position with your arms straight, body rigid, and hands slightly wider than and in line with your shoulders. Keeping your elbows tucked, lower your chest until it’s a few inches from the floor. Push up with enough force for your hands to leave the ground. Land softly and repeat. Extra points if you add a clap.

Modifier: Standard push-up (push off the floor forcefully, but don’t let your hands leave it).


Perform as many reps as you can of the superman walkout push-up in two and a half minutes. Repeat with the reverse lunge. Don’t rest between exercises. Each time you do this workout, try to perform more reps of each exercise in the allotted time.

Purpose: Building strength and boosting muscular endurance in the chest, shoulders, lats, triceps, and legs.

Superman Walkout Push-Up
Get down on all fours and raise your hips so that your body forms an inverted V. Walk your hands forward until you’re in a push-up position, and do a push-up. Continue to walk your hands forward until your arms are stretched above your head (like you’re Superman), and hold for one to two seconds (you’ll feel an intense contraction in your lats and abs). Walk your hands back to a push-up position, do a push-up, and then return to the inverted V position. That entire sequence is one rep.

Modifier: Walkout push-up (follow the directions above, but don’t go past the push-up position).

Reverse Lunge
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your fingers interlocked behind your head. Keeping your torso upright, step backward with your left foot and lower your body until your front knee is bent 90 degrees and your rear knee almost touches the ground. Pause, and then push yourself back to the starting position. Repeat, this time stepping back with your right leg. Alternate legs each rep.

Modifier: Forward lunge.

Workout D

Perform the following exercises as a superset (one superset equals one set of each move back-to-back). Begin by holding the indicated position of each exercise for five seconds, and then doing five full reps. In each successive superset, hold for one less second, and do one fewer rep of each exercise. Continue counting down until you reach zero seconds and zero reps of both moves. Each week, add one second and one rep to each exercise in the first superset.

Note: There are no modifiers for the exercises in this workout. If you’re not fit enough to perform the moves as described, wait to do this workout until your fitness level increases.

Purpose: Boosting muscle growth and amplifying strength throughout the body.

Split Squat
Assume a staggered stance with your hands on your hips (or fingers interlocked behind your head) and your left foot forward. Lower your body into a lunge until your rear knee is a few inches from the floor and your front knee is bent 90 degrees. Hold for the allotted time, and then begin your full range of motion reps.

Assume a push-up position with your hands in line with and slightly wider than your shoulders. Brace your abs (imagine someone is about to punch you in the gut), tense your arms, and press them into the floor and toward each other (imagine you’re trying to push the floor together between them, but don’t actually move them). Hold for the allotted time, and then begin your full range of motion reps.

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Chicken & Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers

Last night I felt like I creating something more glamorous than my usual, but delicious, chicken and veggie stir-fry. So I got a little creative and decided to take my Mexican stir fry recipe and through it into halved bell peppers! We all LOVED IT!!! Thought I’d share this fun healthy recipe with you so you can try it at home this week! Let me know what you think!

Chicken and Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers Healthy Recipe

Chicken & Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers

Let’s get cooking!

1. Cut Bell Peppers in half (one per person), and roast them for 15-20 minutes in the oven with a drizzle of olive oil and pepper or seasonings of choice.

2. Create the stir Fry- I mix and grill up the veggies in a wok first (onions, mushrooms, corn, black beans, leeks, zucchini, spinach, and garlic) with a spoonful of Trader Joe’s Enchilada Sauce!

3. Then add quinoa or brown Rice or and chicken chunks or ground turkey to the wok and mix it all together.

4. Spoon stir fry into 1/2 roster bell pepper, sprinkle with a little cheese, toss back into the oven for 15-20 mins at 350 degrees and BOOM, you are ready to ENJOY!

5. You can add a slice of avocado or salsa on top when plated, just as a little extra bonus!

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Meal Prepping – Quick, Easy, and Virtually Foolproof

Every Sunday after run practice and church, it’s grocery shopping & meal prep time to get ready for a great week ahead. The biggest complaint I hear from my clients when I talk to them about meal prep and getting everything laid out ahead of time is “I don’t even know where to begin.”  So that sparked my idea for creating a simple, easy to follow guide for picking out what items to get at the grocery store and which foods to prepare on Sunday so you are set for the week and less likely to fall off track with your nutrition and possibly your weight loss goals.

As with most healthy eating meal plans, preparation is ESSENTIAL! If you don’t prep in advance you are waaay more likely to just wing it and end up eating fast food and unhealthy options that are quick and cheap. (and my favorite motto is this “You ARE what you eat, so don’t be fast, easy, or cheap”)

Healthy Meal Prep

So here’s the quick breakdown for a perfect week of clean eating with a target calorie range of 1200-1500 calories each day.

Note: You will see “color-coded container counts” referenced in the meal plan. These are for portion control and make it easy to know how much to eat throughout the day! Many of my clients have had amazing success with portioning their food this way… gone are the days of counting calories, weighing your food, etc… just whip out your containers and it’s as easy as Red, Blue, Yellow! To get a set of these containers or learn more, check them out here.

Week Overview

Now that you have a overview of your week’s plan. Let’s move on to your grocery shopping list! Grab these items over the weekend, so they are ready to go on Sunday. You can jump right into the prep, whip it out, and move onto family time (which is what Sundays are really all about)!

Grocery List

 Breakfast Items:

Container Counts (1 yellow, 1 red & 1 purple each morning!)

  • 2 cups Steel Cut Oatmeal
  • 5 cups Blueberries
  • One Dozen Organic Free Range eggs

Lunch Items:

Container Counts: (1 red, 1 green, 1 blue, 1 yellow, 3 tsp each day)

  • 5 scoops or packets of Shakeology
  • 5 cups spinach
  • Raw unsalted and unsweetened Almond Butter
  • 40oz Unsweetened Coconut or Almond Milk

Dinner Items:

Container Counts: (1.5 red, 2 greens each night)

  • Big bag of Frozen or Fresh Stir Fry Veggies – I get my big bag at Costco! (look for bags with red peppers, carrots, mushrooms, asparagus, jicama, snow peas, squash, zucchini, onions, broccoli)
  • Minced Garlic
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Pre-Cooked Shrimp 12-16 ounces total (if you don’t like shrimp, chicken works great too!)
  • 2 Red Bell Peppers
  • 2 heads of Broccoli
  • 2 x 6oz Organic Grass Fed strip steak

Once you are finished grocery shopping, it is time to prep!

Directions for Meal Prepping Breakfast

Step 1: Hard Boil 10 of your Eggs (2 for each morning!)


  1. Place the eggs in a single layer at the bottom of a saucepan. Cover with at least an inch or two of cold water.
  2. Heat the pot on high heat and bring the water to a full rolling boil.
  3. Turn off the heat, keep the pan on the hot burner, cover, and let sit for 10-12 minutes.
  4. Strain the water from the pan and run cold water over the eggs to cool them quickly and stop them from cooking further.
  5. Store in the fridge and take 2 for breakfast each morning

Step 2: While the Eggs are cooking, prep your Steel Cut Oatmeal:

Steel Cut Oatmeal Recipe


  1. Bring the water to a boil: Use 6 cups of water for firmer, more intact oat grains or 8 cups of water for creamier oatmeal. Stir in 2 cups of steel cut oats.
  2. Return to a boil: Let the water come back up to a rolling boil — this should only take a few seconds.
  3. Reduce heat to low
  4. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes: Let the oats simmer for anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and scraping the bottom of the pan. Cook until the oats are very tender and the oatmeal is as creamy as you like it — longer cooking will make thicker oatmeal.
  5. Divide the oats into ½ cup servings and top with 1 cup blueberries and store in the fridge. (and I sprinkle in some cinnamon, vanilla, and honey, just for a little added flavor!)

Directions for Meal Prepping Lunches

No need to meal prep your Shakeology — just whip up the milkshake-style deliciousness each morning before you head out the door! Make sure to refrigerate while you’re at work. (I store mine in my Hydro Flask to keep it cold.) Or if you’re lucky, you have a blender at work and can make them up right there on the spot!

Shakeology Recipe

Recipe: Shakeology with 1 cup spinach, 1 tbsp almond butter, 8 ounces unsweetened coconut milk or almond milk, 1 tbsp MCT oil, ice. Blend and Enjoy!

My go-to lunch is ALWAYS Shakeology. I take a packet with me everywhere I go, so I can sip on it while working with clients, running errands, or typing up blog posts! I could give you a whole host of scientific reasons why I choose Shakeology every day for lunch, but let me just say (in hopes you’ll do your own research) our “health food” isn’t even close to what it used to be. Our soils are severely nutrient depleted and most of our greenhouse produce is genetically modified! Over 2/3rds of Americans need to lose weight and that means there needs to be some calorie restriction… period. We have to be smart about where the carbohydrates we choose to consume come from. You cannot find more nutrition in only 150 calories (and only 15 grams of carbs) anywhere else except Shakeology. Personally, it gives me a huge variety of the foods I need and I couldn’t possibly consume everyday without overeating or spending hundreds of dollars. I largely attribute my great skin, healthy nails, great digestion, thick healthy hair and athletic physique to it. It’s an absolute staple for me (and great for traveling too).

I’ll say it again, I’m out to make you healthy… not skinny!


Directions for Meal Prepping Dinner

Cast Iron Stir Fry Recipe

This will serve as your Dinner for Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday night!

Super healthy, low carb and quick!

Shrimp and Veggie Skillet Recipe

  1. Boatload of veggies 5-6 cups: celery, red peppers, carrots, mushroom, asparagus, jicama, snow peas, squash, zucchini, onions, broccoli, shrimp and minced garlic
  2. Line pan with coconut or olive oil and throw in all the ingredients (my shrimp was precooked)
  3. Cook on medium high and stir every minute or so
  4. Takes about 15 minutes– With so many vegetables, there’s no need for a starch, but you can add Bragg’s Amino Acids for a little more flavor if you’d like but the garlic (and a touch of Himalayan salt and pepper) was enough for me!


Strip Steak with Veggies

This will serve as your Dinner for Thursday and Friday night! (Don’t need to meal prep this until Wednesday night!)

I was “raised” a meat and veggie kinda girl.. now I only buy responsibly “raised” meat!**

  1. Season Strip Steak with your favorite seasonings and place on medium high cast iron skillet
  2. I like my steaks medium so I cooked them for 5-6 minutes each side. Place on outside of skillet to keep warm
  3. Add broccoli and pour a couple tbsp’s of water in the center and cover for 3 minutes
  4. Remove lid and stir fry for 3 more minutes
  5. Remove steaks and broccoli and then roast red peppers for about 2 minutes each side. With so many vegetables, there’s no need for a starch. Add Bragg’s Amino to season.

**By buying organic AND grass fed, you’re supporting farmers who choose to raise their animals humanely, but it all comes down to: “you are what you eat.” Think about it, if a cow eats grains, and then you eat that cow, you’re ingesting the grains it ate, along with the toxins and hormones that the animal had pumped into them.

You may be opposed to spending the extra $2 on a humanely raised package of bacon than what you could get at Wal-Mart, but you can afford this small change and it’ll do additional wonders for your body… more than what dieting and exercising alone can do. Whole Foods, Sprouts, and your local Co-Op are all great grocery stores that offer a wide variety of these options.**

And that’s it! Congratulations on a week of meal planning & prep! As always, I’m here to help. Feel free to leave a comment or shoot me a message if you have any questions!


My specific product recommendations mentioned in this article (if interested, click on the links to find out more):

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