Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Few Things: My Grandpa

My Grandpa passed away last Monday. For those that didn't know, he had been suffering with Alzheimer's for quite a long time. Luckily we went to visit him for Christmas and got to spend some time with him but even then, he was not doing so well. Within the last week of his life he had come down with a cold and his body was starting to shut down on him. I had just talked to my mom about letting go, I knew it was only a matter of time before he couldn't hold on any longer and last Monday was that day. 

Part of me is relieved that he doesn't have to suffer any more. I know it couldn't have been easy to deal with the condition he was in. It makes me feel slightly better knowing that he must be in a better place but it doesn't make it suck any less. 
IMG_5794
He was my Grandpa. He was a wonderful Grandpa, the best. He was important to me, I respected him so much and I loved him a lot. I was actually named after him and brought his first grandchild into the world, who brought an immeasurable amount of joy to his last few years of life. I guess the simpleness of interacting with a child comes easy when you're brain isn't capable of much else. Even when he couldn't carry on conversations anymore, he always had the biggest smile when Eliza came around and had no problem entertaining her (or being entertained I suppose). I'm so glad that Eliza got a chance to know him before he left us, I just hope that she remembers him as fondly as I do.

I think the hardest part is imagining that I will never see him again, that he has left this world, and that I no longer have a grandpa here. There's so much I will miss about him even though I know he's better off now. 
IMG_5728

He was such a great man in so many ways, those who knew him could attest to that. I could go on and on about how much he brought to this world but I'll save that for another time. He had such a kind and loving soul and had the biggest heart of anyone I knew. You can actually read an article about him here and learn of some of his accomplishments. I can only hope that I can live up to the legacy he left behind, make my mark on the world and somehow make it a better place. 

I'm trying really hard to be positive about it all but it still hurts, you know? Like a lot. But it's been a great experience, very humbling and inspiring to look back on his life and try to celebrate it rather than just mourn over him. I spent the last weekend in New Orleans with my family and I have never felt so close to all of them than I do now. I don't know what it is about grieving that makes you feel more connected to others. Like somehow people are more open and loving and forgiving and accepting. There was a lot of drama involved as everyone's emotions were all over the place, trying to prepare for the funeral, but if anything, I think it really brought us together. Physically, because it isn't often that our huge family manages to be in one place at the same time but also emotionally. It was overall a pretty good, deeply fulfilling weekend. 

Death is such a strange thing though. It's hard to explain why exactly I'm sad because even though he is "dead", I don't truly believe or feel that he is gone. I can still feel his loving presence when I want to, when I focus hard enough. I can still feel him in my heart when I beckon him. I know he is there... (or here?) when I need him, I can feel his spirit all around me. It can be very sudden and overwhelming. And sometimes, it brings tears to my eyes but they're not tears of sadness. They're intensely happy and whole and filled with so much gratitude. 

I am not religious but consider myself pretty spiritual, following my own path of learning and understanding. There are still a lot of things I can't yet comprehend but death is always such a tremendous learning experience for me. It's always a time of introspection and evaluation for me, to make sure I'm living my life true to my self and creating an existence that I love and wholeheartedly believe in. 

Among the many things my Grandpa was, I think what I took away most from him was his faith and his thoughtfulness. He displayed them in every aspect of his life from his work, to his family, to his dedication to his church. He was an extremely logical man but lead his life with his heart. His passion and commitment were evident in all areas of his life and I like to think that in that way, I am a lot like him. He was courageous and frugal and always had the best intentions. He was the best role model anyone could ever ask for. And even though he is no longer "with us", I will continue to learn from his adventures and forge a life that I know will make him proud. 

RIP Grandpa, I will love you always. 


IMG_5162 copy

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Easy // Vegan // Enchilada Spaghetti

A heaping bowl (or two) of corn pasta is one of my favorite raw till 4 dinner meals! But the typical, Italian spaghetti sauce gets old after a while and personally, I like my meal with a little spice added to it. I originally found this idea last year but have made some adjustments to account for my vegan-ness and my own favorite, homemade enchilada sauce. If you like enchiladas, this is definitely for you. I could seriously eat this every night of the week. Unfortunately, Brandon and Eliza don't share my enthusiasm love for chili powder so I don't. But that is just how good I think this is. You should definitely try it!  
photo 1 (29)Ingredients: 
15 oz can tomato sauce (watch the salt content!)
1/2 can of water (also helps to get out extra sauce)
3-5 tbsp chili powder (I  like mine extra chili-y)
1 tsp cumin 
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp oregano 
1 tsp cocoa powder 
1/4-1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt 
16 oz. gluten free pasta (I do corn, organic and non-gmo) 

Optional: 
Vegan cheese to sprinkle on top (I actually preferred mine without)
Sauteed veggies, if you really feel like going all out, such as an onion, bell pepper, a few cups of spinach, or a few cloves of garlic 
enchilada spaghetti 2
1. Cook pasta. If you don't know how, follow ingredients on package. 
2. Meanwhile, mix tomato sauce and spices together in saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat. 
3. Enjoy! 

Inspiration:Chicken Enchilada Spaghetti
Quick Veggie Enchiladas

IMG_5162 copy

Monday, February 16, 2015

BBG: Week 2 // 3 // 4 // 5

earn
source.

I've made it through 5 weeks of this workout guide! Woohoo! I don't know if I'll show my result pictures here yet (eeeesh) but I wanted to share what my weeks look like, working out wise. I'm still getting the hang of making extra time and fitting it all into my schedule so it's taken a little bit of experimenting and adjustment. But I'm constantly improving and am so proud of myself for taking care of my body and working towards something I think is so important. I'm not perfect, as you'll see but all of my effort and what I have accomplished is really paying off! 

For those that don't know, your week on this guide consists of 3 major workouts: Legs & Cardio, Arms & Abs, and the Whole Body Workout. Then you have 3 low intensity (LISS) workouts such as walking, jogging, hiking, or biking, that you fit in in between. And then she suggests that you fit in one rehab session a week which is basically just extra stretching (I do yoga). There are a number of ways you can structure your workout schedule to fit into your week but the easiest way is to just stick to what she's laid out. Lately though I've been mixing it up a little to squeeze it all in and found that it's best for me to switch around the major workouts depending on how my body feels (ie how sore I am). Now that I'm more accustomed to how they work, I feel comfortable doing that and being able to fit it all in according to what my body needs. Plus it allows me to be flexible and go to the gym to workout with my brother whenever he has the time. 

So anyways, here's what my last 4 weeks have looked like in the fitness department. 

WEEK 2: 

Tuesday (Leg day) // Well I skipped Monday. Obviously. I did my leg day today though, IT WAS KILLER. I think I was able to do the first round of workouts twice in each circuit but man, that second one was tough. I did mayyybe 1 1/2 before my legs were just giving out on me each time. Also, I took my progress pictures today and not much of a difference. Although I'm pretty sure my crappy eating over the weekend has something to do with that. I think I've gained a little more muscle definition but it's kind of hard to see behind the bloating. Eek! 

Wednesday // My week is just all fudged up. The weather is crappy and I got caught up doing lots of thingssss so no LISS today. But I plan on making it up... eventually. Also, pretty sore, mainly in my buns! 

Thursday (Arms and Abs) //  Pretty sore, probably because I didn't get my LISS in yesterday. But the bloating from the weekend is going down and I'm starting to see a definite definition in my obliques. Super cool! This workout was pretty rough. I did it after lunch and was on the verge of puking during the second half. Plus it was just hard and I ended up having to take mini breaks just to be able to go on any further. And not puke. Yikes. But I'm done and it feels good! To be done that is. 

Friday // Of course, it rained again and I lost ALL motivation to do my LISS. When will it stop?! 

Saturday // I got very little sleep and spent the morning at a meeting. By the time we got home, we hopped straight in bed and watched movies all day. So no working out for me. 

Sunday (LISS) // After I dragged myself out of bed, I went on a hike in the woods with the family. 


WEEK 3: 

Monday (Leg day) // Spent half of my day, checking off things on my to do list, avoiding this workout! The first round seemed easier (still hard) but I definitely feel stronger. I got through the first half no problem and was feeling it the second time around for sure. But it feels good to get it done! Used my 10 lb medicine ball and 5/10 lb weights (switched off depending on how out of breath I was). Now to stretch! 

Tuesday (LISS) // Went on my first bike ride in almost 6 months! Rode about 12 miles in 45-50 minutes. It was nice, totally don't enjoy inhaling car fumes but it was nice to get back on my bike. Next time, I'll try some trails though. 

Wednesday // Skipped because I ended up getting caught up with work, I was on a roll! 

Thursday (Arms and Abs) // Went super hard today, got my workout done plus some! But I hadn't eaten much before hand (it was already 2) and did not feel so great afterwards. Woops 

Friday // Skipped because I got caught up working again. Also, I was planning on going dancing but it didn't happen. I did do a lot of walking around town though? 

Saturday (LISS) // Did a lot of walking and going up stairs and "cheer-leading" and intercepting rugby balls .... That counts right? It was a pretty active day. But no intense workouts. 

Sunday (LISS) // Went on a 9 mile, 1 hour long bike ride hauling Eliza and groceries. It was so pretty outside.

RESULTS: 
-ABS: Definitely noticing some definition in my abs, my little size pack is starting to show!! It's weird though because I thought I'd lose some fat beforehand but I guess the muscle will burn more fat in the long run? Either way, I see some definite progress. Although now that you can see my ab muscles, it has become noticeable that they are totally uneven. I'll have to work on that. 

-ARMS: Also, I have a bump in my arm! Before, I could see the muscle becoming more defined but only on the sides. However,  now it's actually grown into a bump on top!! Prettttttty excited about that. I guess all my girly pushups are starting to pay off! 

-Other than that, I feel stronger in the workouts and have lost some roundness in my belly/bloating but that's it so far. Only week 3 though, 9 more to go!! 


WEEK 4: 

Monday //  Nothing. 

Tuesday (Whole Body) // Did a full body workout, trying to play catch up 

Wednesday (LISS and Abs)  // Super intense bike ride, I was planning on doing legs but that didn't happen. My legs were too sore! I also did a circuit of ab work later that night, because I had too much energy to go to sleep. It was nice. 

Thursday (Arms and Abs) // Arms and abs, it was crappy out so I didn't get in a LISS. Halfway through my workout, I didn't think I'd be able to make it all the way to the end but I just took it one workout at a time and it was over before I knew it! Feels good, it was rough though fa sho. 

Friday // NADA, took a rest day because I was not feeling so great (just exhausted in every way) 

Saturday // Nothing, worked all day 

Sunday (LISS and Leg Day) // Did a hike with friends for my LISS. Also completed week 4, leg day! Was great. 

RESULTS: 
-ABS: Definitely more definition in my abs, haven't lost any extra fat yet though, I really need to work on my LISS. Oh and evening out my left and right abs (it's pretty noticeable). 

-LEGS: Really appreciating my leg muscles and butt this week. 

-Feeling stronger for sure, I can do girly pushups like a pro! Haven't tried a real one yet, a little scared to *eek*! This week is the week before my period so I was feeling off physically with bloating and exhaustion and just all around yuckiness so no real progress picture as I was feeling gross and unmotivated. But 8 more weeks to go! I'm 1/3 of the way done! 

WEEK 5: 
Catch up week! 

Monday (Back and Bis) //  Back, bis and abs with my bro at the gym plus a little cardio for warmup

Tuesday (LISS, Chest and Tris) // Went on a lovely bike ride to the store. About 40 minutes split in two. Super sore and tired today. Had to carry a bunch of stuff on the way home and it wore me out! Did chest and tris with my brother and a friend. It was super intense. Starting to not feel so great now, my sinuses are acting up. 

Wednesday (LISS) // Went on a hike with mom and Eliza for an hour or two. Kind of taking it easy. I don't feel too great, my whole body aches from working out a lot and starting to get sick.

Thursday // Ended up working till 2 in the morning! So no working out for me. 

Friday (LISS and Full Body ) // 37 minute bike ride to Eliza's school to drop off a Valentine's present for her teacher. Man, I didn't get much sleep last night. My body feels weak but I'm determined to stay on schedule and catch up with my work outs this week! Bring it on! Later that night, I also did week 4's full body workout. I did the both circuits once, added in an ab circuit, and then did another circuit with the workouts of both circuits (done once each). It was exhausting but feelin' good! 
Saturday (LISS)//  Did soooo much dancing. 

Sunday (Legs, Abs, and Rehab) // Went to the gym with my brother, did legs, plus abs, and some rehab/yoga after. 

RESULTS: 

-I weigh about 10 pounds more than when I started (all about those gains baby!). 

-BACK: Definitely more muscular, my butt is lookin goood! My booty is only going up and out, in a good way though! My back curve is looking pretty, my posture is improving with my stronger core.

-LEGS: Getting a wee bit stronger and more toned. Thighs are slimming down in the middle (!!). I'm going to have to get bigger bottoms to fit my butt! My legs are definitely tightening up, with noticeable definition in my leg muscles. Cellulite is still there but as I continue to shed fat, I think it'll go away.

- ABS: Mored definition compared to first week, slimming down a bit on the sides. A little bit less belly fat, pooch is going down. My hip bone is becoming a bit more prominent which is the only way to tell I'm losing any of that muffin top. Might be a little bloated in this week's pictures but definitely overall slimming action happening in the tummy region. 

-ARMS: I got a bump in my arm! I got a bump in my arm!! I'm really, surprisingly proud of my arm strength improvements. 

-My overall impression is that this past month has been all about gaining muscle. I'm assuming (hoping) that after this, I will start leaning up a bit more. I'll be able to work out harder, my muscles will be able to burn more fat, and my body will be more acclimated to this new routine. My metabolism will pick up even more, I just have to make sure to feed it correctly and the fat will just start melting off. I'm pretty excited about the next 7 weeks! Here we gooo! 


Goals for the next few weeks:

-Make sure to fit in ALL of my workouts PLUS my LISS's. 
-Keep up the eating well, don't let the weekends get me down. 
-Start keeping record of what I can lift to notice any improvements, and possibly body measurements, that would be interesting.   


I'm pretty happy with how I feel so far, almost halfway through my workout guide. I really really love the guide because it keeps me on track with working out through the weeks. It kind of keeps me accountable for my fitness which really works for me to keep me motivated! Like I said before, I don't follow the nutrition guide though because I have found that Raw Till 4 works wonderfully for me and I love the way I feel eating this way. I've done a ton of research and believe that a vegan, plant based, high raw diet is the most nutritious way I can eat and nourish my body. However, while I try to stick to it as much as possible, I remain flexible because stressing out about your diet too much can be harmful too (same goes for working out too). I let myself have "cheat meals", especially on the weekends when we tend to eat out a lot because we are home less and it's harder to remain as healthy as I'd like. But like I said, I don't worry about it too much. I just hop back on the raw till 4 train and bounce back! 

Also, on a side note. I've found that working out is much  more enjoyable with other people. It's fun to bond over something as healthy as working out and the support is really wonderful. So if you have a hard time getting motivated to work out, I suggest you recruit a friend with similar goals so that you can support and encourage each other. I'm telling you, it makes a world of difference! 

IMG_5162 copy

Friday, February 13, 2015

Vegan Vindaloo

photo 4 (16)
I'm fairly new to Indian food, only discovering my love for it within the last two years or so. And even more recently than that, I've decided to try my hand at cooking it! It took me a few tries to get a really good dish as I'm not used to working with all of these different spices but I made this last night and it totally hit the spot! I love vindaloo, it's a go-to for me so when it came out even more delicious than I expected, I was extremely pleased with myself. Success! And what I love about Indian food is that it is pretty easy to whip up (if you get the spices right), mostly healthy (if you use the right ingredients), and really simple to make vegan. Hey, everything I look for in a meal! So anyways, here's my recipe. I hope you like it as much as I do: 

Ingredients: 
1 onion, chopped 
1/2 bulb garlic, peeled and diced
1 head of cauliflower, cut up into bite size pieces
15 oz can chickpeas, drained 
2 potatoes, cut into bite size pieces
2-4 cups spinach (I forgot this but I'd like to add it next time)
1 bunch cilantro (about 1/4-1/2 cup), chopped
14.5 oz can diced tomato (no salt added)
1/4 cup lemon juice/acv/red wine vinegar/white vinegar/balsamic vinegar 
(I used balsamic)

Spice mix: 
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbs mustard seed 
1 tbs coriander seed 
1 tbs cumin 
1/2 tbsp paprika 
1/2 tsp cinnamon 
1 tsp turmeric 
1 tsp black pepper 
1 tsp coconut sugar (I added a little extra to make it sweeter for Eliza, just a few tablespoons)
2 tsp fresh grated ginger or 1 tsp ground ginger
Salt to taste 
photo 2 (23)
Directions: 
1. Saute onion and cauliflower in pan with a little bit of water (or oil if you prefer). 
2. Meanwhile, boil potatoes in a pan with water just covering them until they become soft. 
3. When onions soften, add in crushed tomatoes, garlic, and chickpeas. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Add vinegar or lemon juice, spice mix, and cooked potatoes. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
5. Add the cilantro and spinach in last, cook for an additional 5 minutes. 
6. Serve over naan or basmati rice.
photo 3 (20)
For next time: I think I'll add a bit more salt (read: I'll actually add salt) and more chili powder to bump up the spice. Maybe even cayenne? But everything else was great! I can't wait to delve into creating other yummy, vegan Indian dishes. Woohoo! 
IMG_5162 copy

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Tiny Home Living: Ways to Simplify

IMG_7109

Whether you live in a tiny home, a small space, or a big space, simplifying is a great tool to manage your home so that you can spend more time playing instead of cleaning! I have a love/hate relationship with cleaning. You see, I LOVE it when my house is clean and tidy. However, it's usually not. We have 3 people living in 192 square feet, things just get messy. So I end up cleaning, every day. Lucky for me, it takes a short amount of time to do all of it but still. Cleaning is cleaning is cleaning. Over time, I've learned some easy ways to keep the mess in check and make my job a little bit easier. So I'm here to share it with you, so you can keep your cleaning to a minimal too! And if you have any extra tips, I'd looooove to hear them!
  • Use only one towel per person each week for bathing, wash on laundry day
  • Use hand towels/washcloths for everything else, no paper towels = less waste and less trash
  • Meal plan on Sundays or Mondays. It's easier to plan and shop for food all in one day, I usually plan for only 4 meals during the week. That way we can have a day for leftovers if I make too much or we can eat out on Friday. And usually the weekends are free for all. We're not usually home much on the weekends so I just skip trying to plan meals for them. 
  • Do laundry on one day, my laundry day is Monday. This means clothes, towels, and bedding if needed. I try to do our sheets and pillowcases every week and comforters/quilts every couple of weeks. 
  • De-clutter more! Obviously the less you have, the less you have to take care of, the less you stress about cleaning and picking up. This includes clothes, toys, decor, other random belongings, kitchen appliances and accessories, do you really need that many wooden spoons?
  • Make list of goals and prioritize. I am the queen of lists. I have lists for everything. My mind is always going 1,000 miles per hour so having lists helps me to keep my thoughts straight. It also allows me to prioritize and get the important things taken care of! Plus I know when I've done enough for one day and can relax knowing I was productive enough (by my standards). 
  • Travel! Go camping or visit somewhere new. I find that traveling helps to put things in perspective most of the time. It can help you to figure out what you can or can't live without and inspires you to let go of the need for "stuff" so that you can enjoy life's other adventures.
  • Get rid of unnecessary/excess dishes, silverware, and cookware so you don't have to do as many dishes! Whether you have a dishwasher or not, keeping the eating ware to a minimum does wonders for your dish washing time. If you can't let them go quite yet, keep the excess in storage for any special occasion when you may need all of them again. 
  • Keep things where you use them, this may seem obvious but if you store things closest to where you might use them, it cuts down the chance of them wandering off and getting placed/thrown somewhere else and having to get picked up later on. If you keep them right where you need them, they'll never have to move. 
  • Have a place for everything! Having a good system of organization is key to keeping a tiny home clean. And if you can't find a place for it, get rid of it! Or else it'll just float around and add to the clutter and mess! 
  • Communicate! Organization is important but it doesn't help if no one else knows where things belong. It's important to collaborate and communicate so that everyone can pitch in keeping a space clean and tidy! 
  • Smaller is easier. Small table, small tv, small decorations, small closet, small fridge. Small is just easier. 
  • Invest in services like Netflix, Hulu, Redbox, online swap markets, and even use your local library! This minimizes the amount of books, movies, clothes, etc. that you have to store but can still enjoy at your leisure. 
  • And my number 1 easiest way to make a house feel clean: declutter surfaces, keep them clean. Sometimes when I get stressed out, I'll pick a surface (say my kitchen counter, table, pantry shelves, or even living room shelving), put away the stuff that doesn't belong, tidy up the stuff that does, wipe it down to make it look clean, and voila! It works wonders on my anxiety levels. It's totally just a mind trick but when you can actually see empty space, it really makes an area feel so much cleaner and decluttered. And then I can get back to doing whatever it is I was supposed to be doing instead of stressing out about my messy house! 
  • Sometimes it just takes living in a space to figure out what works best for you, how you use it, and the best systems to keep it tidy. That's why I loved that we were living in our tiny home before it was completely finished. It gave us the opportunity to be flexible about our design and change it when we felt we could improve on the space efficiency. We didn't deviate too much from our original plan but we did make minor (but still important!) changes that definitely enhanced our tiny little home. You can only plan so much on paper but when you can actually be in the space, it makes a world of difference to be able to imagine and devise physical structures and see how they fit into the grand design. 

We're still working on simplifying every day. Living in a house this mall is definitely an adventure and I imagine, it will be a while before we get completely used to it and work out all the kinks. But there is no where else I'd rather be. 
IMG_5162 copy

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Getting Fit: ABS

A while back, I went on a little research binge to learn everything I could about abs. One of my goals this year is getting my stomach back in shape! They haven't *fully* recovered from having a baby.... um, 5 years ago... and I think it's about time that I quit procrastinating. I've never really been confident about my tummy so I'm more determined than ever to get the six pack I've always dreamed of!

@basebodybabes

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

We'll start off with a little bit about mommy bellies: 

"... Crunches only target one of several ab muscles — primarily the Rectus Abdominus (your six pack muscles) which is one of the most overstretched muscle groups during pregnancy and your obliques. These muscles easily overpower the weaker internal abdominal muscle (the Transverse Abdominus) during crunch-like exercises which can cause your abdominal wall to bulge out!

The secret to flattening your post baby mommy belly is….
work from the inside out.

In addition to cleaning up what you eat, your focus must be on rebuilding strength and control of your Transverse Abdominus – your deepest core muscle. This muscle compresses the abdominal wall, acts like a corset, draws the belly button closer to the spine and is the body’s most important core stabilizer.


Effective Post Baby Core Exercises include: 
The “drawing in” maneuver – You can lie on your back, on your side or get on all fours – contract and hold your deep core muscles as you imagine drawing your belly button in toward your spine – and hold for count of 10 as you breathe.

Here’s a Mommy Belly Makeover Video that demonstrates How To Get Started with your post baby core exercises:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zd3rGZ1ki9E

Plank variations which are most effective when you perform sets of 10-second holds with a brief rest between sets instead of holding for 30-60+ seconds at a time."


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So after a ton of digging, this is pretty much what I've found across the board: the transverse abdominals are where it's at ya'll! 

Here are some great exercises for those Transverse Abdominals: 

Planks 
Scissor kicks 
Spidermans 
Squats

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Midriff Makeover - interesting tips to help bring in that belly! 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Do you have swayback causing you to have a pooch? Here is a demonstration on how to do the hip flexor stretch to get rid of it

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Crunches, sit-ups, oblique twists. Surprisingly, many of these hard-core ab exercises still pop up in postpartum ab workouts. The emphasis is on getting rid of the mummy tummy, yet the approach does exactly the opposite.

Any exercise that jack-knifes the body increases intra abdominal pressure. If your midline is not strong enough to start with, these exercises can hinder or reverse the healing of diastasis recti. You’ll know if the exercise is ‘wrong’, your stomach will dome as you attempt it. Which is basically your innards playing peek-a-boo through the weakened midline (nice!).

If that’s you, your diastasis is not going to improve, and your belly is not going to get flat, while you continue to do this type of exercise. So please stop!" -source

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"The fibers of this muscle run horizontally around the abdomen and works as a girdle or belt. Hence the nickname for the transversus abdominis of the "corset muscle".

The primary function of this muscle is to compress the ribs and viscera, stabilizing the pelvis and spine. The TrA will help prevent a protruding belly. Basically, it helps hold the stomach in.

While achieving achieving a flatter belly is one of the benefits of strengthening the muscle, preventing lower back injury is a greater benefit." -Source 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Some more knowledge (pretty much what everything else says) combined with a few hardcore stomach exercises: 

"While the rectus abdominis muscle responds to strengthening exercises by developing outward, the transverse abdominis muscle develops inward and in effect, as mentioned earlier, is analogous to tightening your belt or wearing a muscular girdle. It is like the Spanx of the abdominal muscles!

So, regardless of your current body fat percentage, developing the transverse abdominis muscle will aid in flattening your tummy and will ultimately help you feel better in your clothes. For those who have a lesser body fat percentage, a developed TVA muscle will create excellent definition and frame around your stomach so that you will look and feel better without looking bulky or too muscular." -Source 

The muscle fibers of the Rectus Abdominus (the six-pack abs) run VERTICALLY on your body, starting at your rib cage and attaching down on your pelvis, just like if you were looping the tenser bandage over your shoulder and between your legs.

You can work them like crazy and even develop that six-pack, but you WON'T get that completely tight waist and flat stomach you're looking for because the muscle fibers would have to run horizontally AROUND your body in order bring your waist in and tighten it up.

The solution, like I mentioned above, is to work the muscles that are designed for the job: the deep muscles of the core that are have fibers that run AROUND your waist... these are called the Transverse Abdominus and the Obliques.

And I'm going to teach you exercises that DIRECTLY target these often-ignored deep muscles to cinch up your midsection and give you that tight, wasp waist that crunches haven't given you and never will.

To actually achieve the goals of a flat stomach, a tight waist and a better six-pack, you need exercises that DON'T make your midsection look WORSE. You need exercises that properly target and train the abdominals.

One of the keys to developing the "six-pack" muscles of the abs and getting that washboard look is achieving a FULL contraction through body position...in this case, you'll be bent in half.

That body position puts your frontal abdominal wall in it's most anatomically-possible contracted state.

The other key is to use the abs to PUSH, not to pull, as regular crunches do. This pushing uses the abs differently and will actually make those little blocks of muscle pop more, giving you that washboard look, rather than the flat, undefined look that regular crunches give.



I've got a lower abdominal exercise that works like a vacuum to draw your abdominal wall up and in WHILE you're doing something that LOOKS like a leg raise (but isn't a leg raise). This combination movement FORCES your lower ab muscle fibers to tighten up and FAST.

Can you really truly isolate the lower abs? There is a lot of debate about that...when you have an exercise like this, the academic debate doesn't matter...it's the RESULTS that matter.


Remember what I said above about weighted side bends pushing out the love handles to make you look fatter? I've got an easy exercise that will target and tighten the "love handle" areas directly, making them look smaller within DAYS.

The exercise doesn't reduce the fat itself...NO ab exercise is going to do that. It works to tighten up the muscles directly UNDERNEATH the fat, which pulls it in, making it smaller in a very short period of time (and I'm not kidding when I say it's a matter of days).

I've also got some great "anti-rotational" exercises for you as well, where you actively RESIST rotation in order to work the deep muscles of the core...









To increase abdominal stability, you will be holding your breath during parts of this movement. As you start to lower yourself down, inhale. Begin holding your breath just below the halfway point of the squat as you come down to the bottom position. Continue to hold it until you're about 1/4 to 1/2 of the way back up.

If you don't want to or are unable to hold your breath, exhale through pursed lips (as though you're blowing up a balloon). Keeping the breath held towards the bottom will maximize core stability and allow your abs to function more effectively during the movement.

That being said, if you DO feel lightheaded at any point in the exercise, rack the bar and rest. Always use your best judgement here. The idea is to work yourself in a SAFE manner.

With this exercise, having the resistance in front of the body (similar to when you're doing a front squat but with even LESS skeletal support) allows you to keep a more vertical body position while putting tremendous tension on the entire abdominal area. "

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I am following the bikini body guide but I love throwing in a few extra ab workouts each week. I know I'm starting off with a pretty weak core so I try to work in a little extra to help build it back up! Plus it helps to know which ones will help you to do what. I know I need to work on my core strength so I do exercises like the ones above that will help me build my transverse abdominals. And I think it's just nice to be informed. Growing up I thought crunches were the best way to get abs and I wasted sooo much time doing hundreds and hundreds of them! I wish I would have known then, what I do now. But that is the beauty of the internet, so much information at your fingertips! 

Hope you guys are having a fantastic Tuesday! I'm going to go get my six pack on! 

IMG_5162 copy

Monday, February 9, 2015

Vegan Potato Nachos // Homemade Salsa

GUYS, I've found my newest favorite meal. VEGAN. POTATO. NACHOS. Ahhhh, they are so delicious. Like all of my favorite foods combined! 

For some reason, I've had potatoes on the mind, non-stop, for the past week (is that the p.m.s?) sooooo we've been eating a lot of potatoes. But no complaints here! And I've actually had this specific meal like 3 times in a row (it's that good!) so I figured it's about time I shared this wonderful, tasty goodness!  photo 2 (19)
It's basically nachos but instead of using chips (boooo), you use baked potatoes (ya!). And just like that, it's healthified! Then I loaded them up with all of the typical nacho-y goodness.

I used: 
-Baked Potato Chips (you can bake them like medallions or just do regular fries, both are great)
-Spinach and/or lettuce
-Guacamole (avocados, lemon juice, cumin, salt)
-Black beans/corn/taco seasoning mix, mmmm
-Vegan Sour Cream (recipe below)
-Salsa (recipe below)
-Black Olives

photo 3 (18)

SALSA 
1 clove of garlic 
1/2 onion 
4 roma tomatoes (2 cups)
1/2 cup cilantro
1/2 lemon or 1 tbs 
1 tbsp coconut sugar
1 tsp apple cider vinegar 
1 tsp salt 
1 tsp cumin
2-4 jalapenos or 1/4 cup tabasco
-Process all ingredients in food processor. I suggest doing the onions, garlic, and peppers first and then adding the rest (to make sure you don't get giant chunks of onion or pepper!). 

VEGAN SOUR CREAM 
1 cup cashews (preferable soaked for an hour or overnight) 
1/2 cup-3/4 cup water 
2 tsp lemon juice (I used about 1/2 a lemon) 
1 tsp acv 
pinch of salt 
1 tbsp nutritional yeast 
-Blend all ingredients in a blender for maximum creamy-ness

I taste tested it and decided to add a splash more of lemon juice and acv, giving it a little more "sour" to the cream! 



So this meal is kinda fatty with all the nuts, avocado, and olives. BUT it's the good kinds of fat and it's still loaded with tons of yummy veggies. So while it's still healthy, I wouldn't be eating this every night of the week. But it is a wonderfully tasty alternative to regular nachos! And animal cruelty free! Wahoo! 

IMG_5162 copy