One big side effect of losing more than 80 pounds is that I've lost my caboose!
I was kind of shocked when I caught a side view of myself lately. Apparently, my rear was made up of pizza and tacos and not much muscle, because when the weight came off, so did my back side.
So I knew that I'd have to work on building muscle and definition in that area, and what better way than to squat!
But squats can be tricky -- unless you have perfect form, you can end up aggravating your knees and your back. Since I don't have the best upper spine, I tend to lean over too much when I squat, and bad squats can be more tiring than good squats.
I was sent a SquatMaster for review purposes, and I love it. It's not a machine -- instead you do all the work but you do it in perfect alignment, which makes the squats less stressful (and you can do more of them).
From the photos, it may look like I'm sitting on something but I'm not. I'm performing a perfect squat.
This thing is great. All you do is stand on the SquatMaster, put your legs between the rollers, grab onto the handle and squat. Holding onto the handles lets you sink into the perfect squat while keeping everything in perfect alignment.
I'm all about the squat, but you can do a bunch more moves on the SquatMaster, including post-workout stretches and yoga poses. Here's a short video showing all the different exercises you can do,
We keep the SquatMaster in the corner of the living room where it's easy to hop on and bust out a bunch of squats while watching TV.
I've made the SquatMaster a part of my everyday strength training because you can never do enough squats.
Here's a little secret -- twice a week I've been working out with people my mom's age and loving it.
Maybe it's because I'm usually the youngest person in the pool, maybe it's because you can't get hot and sweaty in the pool, maybe it's because I get to wear all my new swimwear that I bought since I've lost more than 75 pounds.
Or maybe because aqua aerobics classes are a damn good workout and it's super fun.
Now that I have a Fitbit that I can safely wear in the pool, I noticed that each hourlong workout burns around 500 calories, which is not too shabby for feeling like you're playing with pool toys while Pitbull "dales!" in the background.
If you want to take the plunge (HA!) and try pool workouts, I have learned there are some things that are essential.
Don't workout barefoot
Aqua aerobics has a lot of jumping, shuffling, hopping and jogging, so it's important that there's a bit of a supportive layer under your feet. It'll just make things more comfortable and more enjoyable -- and it'll keep you from getting athlete's foot from the soggy locker room floor. There are some top-notch real-deal aqua workout shoes out there but I wanted to see if I could economize and get a happy medium between those and those drugstore cheap-o aqua socks. (Do they only sell stuff like that in Florida drugstores?) I found these slip-on water shoes and they seem to be holding up well -- unlike the water shoes of one woman in class whose shoes basically disintegrated in the pool last week. She was picking up chunks of rubber from the pool bottom at the end of the class. They drain really well, dry quickly and are relatively cute.
Wear a supportive swimsuit
There's a lot of jumping going on in the pool, something that on land would be considered really high impact. You need to hold those girls down so finding the right swimsuit is important. I have learned that floaty layered tops don't work (the layers just hang out in your armpit area) and flirty skirted suits don't stay where they're supposed to and you spend half the time yanking the skirted part down.
Tankinis are great as are sporty one-pieces. I got a cute purple paisley tankini at Swimsuits for All, but alas, I can't find it there anymore. I also got a sporty Reebok suit at Nordstrom Rack that's made for working out in. It's not there anymore either but here it is at Amazon.
Get a wet bag for that drippy swimsuit
Here's my tip for doing a "prewash" on your chlorine-saturated swimsuit -- take a shower at the gym in your swimsuit to wash off a majority of the pool water. Then instead of wrapping up your wet suit in your wet towel, creating a wet mess in your gym bag, get yourself a "wet bag" that'll tote your suit home and keep everything else dry. I got a set of two cute Alva Baby wet bags on Amazon, and what's great about them is that they have two compartments, because I found that one of my new swim tops bled a little on my board short bottoms. This way you can keep 'em separated.
Protect your hair
The first week, before I had my aqua goodies, my hair resembled shredded wheat, so I desperately googled how to protect your hair from chlorine because my mop isn't going to fit in a swim cap without looking ridiculous. The key here is to make sure your hair is already saturated with something good so your hair doesn't suck up the chlorinated water. Fresh water, hair conditioner, even coconut oil (greasy!) is supposed to work, but I found AquaGuard Pre-Swim Hair Defense, and it got enough good reviews that I decided to give it a try. First off, it smells fantastic and has a really nice texture. I put my hair in a ponytail, then squirt out a big handful of AquaGuard and coat the outside of my hair and all the ponytail area. It has made a huge difference in my hair's condition, and it also rinses out easily (unlike the coconut oil, I'm guessing).
Soak your suit
I bought a swimwear cleaner that's supposed to get the chlorine stink out, but so far it's not working as well as Woolite Delicate Care liquid and a splash of vinegar, so that's what I'm going to stick with. Just make sure to soak the suit for around 20 minutes, then rinse it well and hang it to dry without wringing it out, because that's bad for the fabric.
My gym has its own pool noodles and aqua dumbbells, so thankfully I didn't need to buy those or shlep them to the gym. But I did learn that even though the dumbbells are basically made from foam roller material it makes a difference what size you use. The bigger the dumbbell the more water resistance, so go big for a lot of "weight." But go thinner on the pool noodles because you want to be able to sink that noodle down under your foot to provide lower-body resistance, and unless you're King Kong, you're not going to be able to keep a full-size noodle under your foot.
(I learned that the hard and hilarious way on the first day!)
Hey there! I've been a bit busy the past few weeks, first getting the kid off to college and settled in his apartment (done!), then coming home and cleaning up the wreckage of said move (done!)
With those two big things done, we're officially empty nesters (aside from the dog). It's the perfect time to work on refining habits and that's what I'm doing this week.
First off, my lunchtime workouts were NOT happening, and wearing workout clothes all day doesn't count, so this week it's roll out of bed and into the gym. I downloaded Jamie Eason's LiveFit app on my phone, and this time I downloaded the right app. I tried it a year or so ago but I had downloaded the more elaborate BodySpace social fitness app, which made following her program too complicated. This time I downloaded only her program and it's a lot easier to follow.
Here's a video intro to the first week:
I had bought an intro package to some kickboxing classes, but to be completely honest, I'm just not ready for it yet. After a couple hourlong classes, I found that my shoulders were really hurting and various parts of my feet are not happy (I wasn't exactly kicking the bag properly).
But more importantly, the whole day after the class I was ravenously hungry, like bottomless pit hungry, so I switched to Jamie's program because I find that I'm not a hungry grizzly bear if I focus on weight training.
And I really missed the gym! Fortunately, the one we've been members of since 1999 recently went through a huge and much needed remodel, so I dropped my secondary membership to Planet Fitness. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Planet Fitness, but with the kid away at college, I'm not getting my value out of the Black Card membership, and we have a kid going to college, so I'm looking for ways to cut down on costs. (Our main gym has a crazy cheap yearly renewal.)
Food wise I'm still doing Weight Watchers and leaning on fruit and vegetables for the bulk of my meals and snacks. I used to plan my meals around the protein but now the vegetable is the centerpiece. By putting produce front and center I'm taking in more food for fewer Smartpoints.
Wait a minute, I'm burying the lede!
I had skipped last week's Weight Watchers meeting because I had a dental cleaning, but I had a feeling it was going to be good news today because:
I've been working out more
I've been going to sleep earlier, so ...
eating less late at night.
So I step on the scale Wednesday morning and BOOM! 5 pounds down, which is HUGE for me. I've also been replacing my evening snack with a bottle of kombucha. I've really grown to love the stuff and it's only 50 or so calories for the whole thing, plus I think it does good things for gut health. Whatever's on sale is what I buy. So far, I'm loving all the flavors from Humm, Kevita and Big Easy 'Bucha.
So what I call Operation #shittogether is coming together very nicely in my first week!
So what's in my gym bag?
First of all, I have a new gym bag! I covet gym bags the way some people love Pradas. I've got big ones, small ones, gray, purple, pink, blue -- a gym bag for every occasion. My newest bag is the Infinity bag from Go Dash Dot. The bag was designed with the input of more than 100 women to make sure every square inch of it is useful. It's large without being too bulky, has a load of zippered compartments decorated with cool tassels, a padded laptop area, a shoe compartment that doubles as a yoga mat holder, a very cool, stylish strap and a great smaller inner bag you can use as a cross-body bag, so your purse and gym bag fit into one neat duo. So not only is it a premium gym bag, it's also a work tote, a diaper bag, and a crossbody bag.Inside that bag is my Bandi belt. I have a few of them but recently I got a large size to comfortably stash my phone so I can follow my workout program. There are a load of similar belts on the market, and I've tried many, but I always come back to Bandi belts because they're cute and they have a latch so you don't have to crawl in and out of it.
In my Bandi, along with my phone, is a pair of Sol Republic Relays Sport wireless headphones. I had gotten them a few years ago on Kickstarter, then there were production problems with them and they stopped selling them. Now, it appears, they're selling them again, and they cost even less than they did on Kickstarter. I've had a few pairs of Bluetooth headphones and these are my favorites. They seem to keep a charge awhile, they're super lightweight, charge quickly and they sound great.
Because I don't want to pay $3 for a snack at the gym if I find myself in need of something, I usually stash a non-melty protein bar in there. Quest bars have their moments, but often there's too much sweeteners in them and just taste overwhelming, but I was sent a variety of Mauer Sports Nutrition protein bars. Each bar is around 200 calories and around 20 grams of protein (dairy, pea and nut blend), so one and a coffee makes a quick on-the-go breakfast, and half a bar is a decent snack. There are no artificial sweeteners or flavors, they're not cloying at all, there's a great selection of flavors (I am partial to the chocolate chip cookie dough), and many of them are uncoated so they won't melt in the heat.
And bonus! If you use the code Gail20, you'll get a 20 percent discount on your order of bars.
And because I edit and write for the Fit Bottomed World of blogs, I have a ridiculous collection of athletic shoes. One of my jobs is to schedule social media on posts, so I read pretty much every post on every site, old and new. And because of that, I find myself playing "Target Lady" and dashing off to order things when I read reviews. One recent purchase was these Brooks Neuro shoes. Since the post is a year or so old and Brooks has already released a Neuro 2, I was able to score a great deal on them. They're super cool looking, and the cushioning on the soles is great.
As a member of the Stonyfield Clean Plate Club, I received products and coupons from Stonyfield and PrAna to write this post. All opinions are 100 percent my own.
Now that my mouth is pretty much back to normal, I’m adding back in some things that were off limits, like seeds. When you can’t eat things with chia seeds and hemp seeds, you realize just how many things you buy with chia seeds and hemp seeds.
I was inspired to make a little bowl of breakfast yum by a pair of prAna workout capris.
This month Stonyfield and PrAna are teaming up to celebrate #TheWholeYou, so I was sent a pair of PrAna’s Chetan capris, which are a blend of cotton and hemp (a ha!) They’re super comfortable and a little heavier in weight than my usual workout capris, so they’ll be great for wearing to more than the gym. They’re a warm charcoal gray and have cool diagonal piecing on the lower legs. They also have a handy little pocket sewn in the waistband. (Here's a detail shot of the capris at right. Are those my legs? I wish!)
I kinda live in workout clothes. Every morning I wake up and change into them because my goal is to get some work done, take a workout break and go back to work.
The past few weeks have NOT gone that way, what with dental surgery, vacation and IT band stuff, but yesterday I actually did that and it felt great to get back to my routine. Mouth doesn’t bother me, I’m caught up on work, I’m working through the IT band thing (curse you!) and I have a fridge stocked with Stonyfield yogurt, which REALLY came in handy when all I could eat was soft stuff.
So what’s in my bowl this morning? Six ounces of plain whole milk Greek yogurt topped with a small sliced banana, a drizzle of honey and about a teaspoon of hemp hearts. I used to be really into flavored yogurts, but lately I'm all about the plain. You can add whatever you like, make it sweet or savory and use it in place of sour cream on things like tacos. It makes a great base for a super thick smoothie, too.
I was more than ready to celebrate #TheWholeYou, and you can, too.
PrAna is offering my readers 15 percent off using the coupon code WHOLES17GGG through the end of May.
I highly recommend the Chetan capris and may get a pair in another color!
As a member of the Stonyfield Clean Plate Club, I received products and coupons from Stonyfield and Justin’s to write this post. All opinions are 100 percent my own.
I have vowed to add more fresh fruits and vegetables to my diet because sometimes it's just too easy to grab a protein bar or a bag of pretzels when snack time rolls around.
"Protein and produce" is my mantra.
So while hummus and carrots or turkey celery rollups are perfectly acceptable snacks, there are times when you want something a little more indulgent feeling. This fits the bill.
I hurried and made this Chocolate-Hazelnut Yogurt Dip as soon as I received the jar of Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter because I knew it wasn't long for this world. Have you tried this stuff? It's much tastier and better for you than that other hazelnut spread.
I mixed a tablespoon of the nut butter with some Stonyfield plain whole milk Greek yogurt, a little honey and a sprinkling of cacao nibs for added texture. Feel free to sub out your favorite nut butter. The dip is great with apple slices but would also pair nicely with bananas, strawberries or just a spoon. The entire dip recipe has 13 grams of protein for a little over 200 calories so it would make a light breakfast paired with a piece of fruit.
Chocolate-Hazelnut Yogurt Dip
4 ounces Stonyfield plain whole milk Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter
1/2 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon cacao nibs
Whisk ingredients together until smooth and sprinkle with cacao nibs.
I am a member of the Stonyfield Clean Plate Club. I received products and coupons to write this post, and all opinions are 100 percent my own.
We go through a lot of yogurt at our house, so much so that one of the produce bins has been reclaimed as the yogurt bin. It's usually filled with a variety of yogurts -- Greek, "regular," plain, fruit flavored and so on. There's usually a bottle of kefir in the fridge, too, (I'm a recent convert to plain kefir), and a quart of plain yogurt for recipes.
Got a lot of culture up in here!
Have you noticed that fat is making a comeback in the yogurt section? Hold up, dieters, it's actually a good thing. The past couple of years have seen the release of studies showing that America's fat phobia has come back to bite us in the ever-growing posterior. By taking out all the fat and replacing it with gobs of sugar, we're actually doing ourselves a disservice. The satiety that a little bit of naturally occurring fat provides works much better than sugar, which basically burns through you like jet fuel. For reference, HERE'S a study showing that people who consume full-fat dairy were actually leaner and had less cardiovascular risk than people who eat the fat-free stuff.
Stonyfield recently sent me a variety of its new 100 percent grassfed whole milk yogurts, and I'll admit, at first I was a little freaked out. We've been programmed for so long to believe that fat is the enemy that it's unsettling to see the words "whole milk" on a label.
But soldier on I did!
The yogurts I was sent were "old school" thinner yogurt, instead of thicker Greek yogurt, so these are lower in protein than strained varieties. Looking at the plain container, it has 120 calories, 5 grams of protein, 8 grams of carbs and 7 grams of fat in a 6-ounce container. See? That's not scary at all. Grassfed is also organic, non-GMO and made without artificial hormones.
My husband's favorite combo is cereal and frozen berries topped with a container of yogurt. He appreciated the thinner texture of these yogurts as he mixed up his big bowl of yum. The flavored ones -- vanilla, strawberry and blueberry -- are 140 calories per container.
What did I do with the plain? Lemme tell ya:
I subbed it for the milk and butter in boxed macaroni and cheese, and the teenager thought it was great. The tang of the yogurt gives the cheese powder some needed sharpness.
I used it in place of the liquid and fat in a boxed cornbread mix, giving the cornbread a little tang and moisture.
I mixed it with ranch dressing powder to make a super simple veggie dip.
I know what you're thinking: Where's the smoothie recipe? Sure, you can make a smoothie with yogurt, frozen berries, crushed ice and a little stevia, but I wanted to give you some ideas you might not have thought of. But go ahead and make an awesome smoothie with it. The added fat will help with satiety, something that people often complain of when subbing a smoothie for a meal.
If you're wondering where to pick up Stonyfield grassfed yogurt, you can check the bottom of Stonyfield's product page HERE for a store locator.
I was chosen by Sweat Pink to review a Bulu Box in exchange for my honest opinion of the service.
Monthly subscription boxes can be nice little monthly gifts in the mail. From clothing to jewelry to snacks and supplements, there are boxes for nearly everyone, including dogs.
I checked out Bulu Box, which is a wellness-focused subscription service. Every month, you get a box filled with a new mix of four to five samples to try. Every sample should be sufficient enough to decide if the product is right for you.
My box contained Runa Focused Energy ginger-citrus guayusa tea, Movit Energy Gummies, Simple Being Simple Diet weight-loss supplement, Earth’s Care anti-itch cream, and Fusion chicken jerky.
The chicken jerky was the first to disappear -- the husband and I split the 3-ounce bag of lemon pepper flavored jerky, which was nicely spiced and chewy but still soft enough to sink your teeth into. The bag of jerky retails for $6.99, so that's quite the premium sized sample.
The teenager snapped up the energy gummies for band camp. While he said he didn't feel any palpable jolt from the gummies, which have a small amount of caffeine plus B vitamins, he said they tasted good.
The anti-itch cream has camphor and menthol, so the minty cooling felt great on my gym boo-boo. (Who scrapes their arm on the locker-room locker latch? Me.) It wasn't necessarily itchy but I can see how it'll soothe bug bites and minor eczema.
The tea was smooth and citrusy and had a green tea vibe, but I didn't try the weight-loss supplement because green coffee beans and their ilk haven't been proven to do anything and I don't want to go down that road again.
The cost for a box is $10 per month, and readers get 50 percent off a 3-, 6- or 12-month subscription with the code SWEATPINK on BuluBox.com.
Do your waffles have 20 grams of protein? Hmmf. Didn't think so.
I thought I'd kick off a new category today -- Stuff I Love. Most of the time it'll be things that are regulars in my kitchen, gym bag or closet. Sometimes they may be sponsored posts but I'll make sure to label those. This week is not sponsored because I've been buying the stuff for quite awhile now.
I'm sure you've seen plenty of recipes for protein pancakes. Many are simply things like egg whites, mashed bananas and protein powder, and many are (sorry!) pretty gross.
I first discovered Flapjacked protein pancake and baking mix on a smoothie run at Smoothie King. They sold the 12-ounce bags at the store but I figured I'd Google around and find the best deal on it, which I actually found at the Flapjacked website (they have great sales). Amazon also has really good prices, too, if you do a Subscribe & Save deal. (Pro tip: You can schedule those subscriptions as far apart as every 6 months, so it really does pay to sign up.)
Instead of dipping my toe in the Flapjacked pool, I jumped in head first by buying a sampler pack of all the flavors -- Cinnamon Apple, Buttermilk, Banana Hazelnut, and the newest, Carrot Spice. I started out simply making pancakes but quickly found that you can make a lot more great baked goods with the mix, including waffles, muffins and quick breads.
The line has recently been reformulated and now every flavor has 20 grams of protein per 200-calorie serving. You also get 5 grams of fiber. The mixes are low in sugar, non-GMO and wheat free.
Still working off my dozen cans of pumpkin that I bought at a Whole Foods moving sale, I added some to the Pumpkin Spice mix and came up with some fantastic waffles.
Carrot-Pumpkin Protein Waffles
1 cup Carrot Spice Flapjacked pancake mix
3/4 cup almond milk
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
2 tablespoons currants or raisins
Mix everything together (mixture will be pretty thick) and let it thicken even more while your waffle iron heats up. I cooked the waffles just a touch longer than regular waffles because they're really substantial.
This post is sponsored by Almond Breeze Almondmilk and Blue Diamond Nut Thins.
So I was all set to do a Whole30 challenge this month but at the last minute I dropped out. I'm sorry, I just can't give up smoothies! Or a little organic half and half in my coffee. Or beans. Or quinoa.
That said, the new Whole30 book is gorgeous and full of lovely recipes that I will try. But I've cleaned up my diet so much over the past few months and right now I'm not about restriction and a diet mentality.
Here are a couple of recipes I whipped up with Blue Diamond products. I'm a Blue Diamond Tastmaker, and the company sends me products to try and write about and lately they've been really generous with products so I'm going to double up on the reviews today.
First up is that smoothie up there, which uses Almond Breeze Hint of Honey vanilla almond milk. The milk is sweetened with a blend of honey and sugar and has the same calories as regular vanilla almond milk. It's great if you want your almond milk to have a little added sweetness -- it's great in an iced vanilla almond latte.
I used it in this nutritionally packed smoothie, which I just enjoyed this morning. It's full of protein, fiber and will keep you humming throughout the day. The ginger and cinnamon are metabolism boosters, make your tummy happy and the cinnamon keeps your blood sugar stable.
I made mine in my Nutri Ninja blender cup so add the ingredients in the order listed for best results. If you're using a regular blender, flip the order of the ingredients.
Peach Mango Breeze Smoothie
1/2 cup crushed ice
70g frozen peaches
70g frozen mango chunks
1 serving vanilla protein powder
1 tablespoon oats
1 tablespoon almond butter
1 tablespoons hemp or flax seeds
2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup Almond Breeze Hint of Honey vanilla almond milk
Add ingredients to blender cup or blender, process and enjoy!
This second recipe is what I call "stupid easy."
I was sent some Blue Diamond Nut Thins crackers, which are rice crackers infused with almonds. They're gluten free, crisp and a great blank canvas for any dip or snack.
As you can see from the photo, this was a late-night snack. I'm getting much better at my late-night snacking and this is one way I'm working on it. Instead of indiscriminately grazing, I busy myself making a little creation, which is far more satisfying than a handful of cereal.
I call these Mini Nutty Nachos and they're simply a dollop of refried black beans topped with a dollop of chunky salsa on a Nut Thin. That's it! Of course, you can switch up the refried beans, toss on some cheese, perhaps a pickled jalapeno -- make it yours.
The crackers are great for toppings because they don't get soggy and won't crack under pressure.
This is a promotional post for Vionic Shoes' #SoleStory campaign. I was provided a pair of Vionic sandals.
This is my post-aerobic life for the time being:
I'm coming off a month of physical therapy for IT band inflammation and patellar tendinitis so I'm trying to ease back into aerobic activity (I kept doing the strength training the whole time because that didn't bother me). But me being me, I tend to push myself probably a mile too far, so I've been doing the post-walk "ice and stim" that I got every time at PT. Under that towel are the electrodes to my mini electrical stimulation device and my thigh and knee area zapping away.
As I ended my walk last week, there was a box waiting for me at the front door from Vionic, which contained the lovely Floriana flip-flop sandals. I immediately put them on, because SHOES!
(You really don't need to see any more of my goofy feet.) Just take a look at these in all their bejeweled glory. The toe post is fabric, so they're super comfortable, and the teal goes great with my uniform of jeans, jeans, and more jeans.
Sure, they may look like flip flops but they're much more. Vionic shoes are podiatrist-designed for orthotic support, so your feet are realigned in a natural position. I have super flat feet, so I need extra help in the arch department. I have a pair of custom orthotics, but I'm a flip-flop girl and orthotics just don't work with sandals. That's why I love Vionics. I have a couple other pair and they're great for post workout, or really anytime.
My sports med doctor (and I'm guessing all orthopedists) are not fans of super-flat flip flops because of the lack of support. But I LOVE being barefoot or darn near it, so I really appreciate Vionic for the added support.
So that's my #SoleStory -- making exercise an important part of my life and making sure to take care of myself before, during and after.