5 Exercises you can do at HOME Exercise #5

Exercise #5 Push Up

Benefits

Targeting the chest, back of your arms, and the front of the shoulders, this is considered one of the staple upper body exercises in a work out program.

Progressions

The great thing about a push up is that there are many variations to progress the movement. Make this exercise more challenging by manipulating the speed of the exercise, lifting a leg up, changing the width of your arms (wide & narrow), or even pushing yourself off of the floor (clap push up).

Written by Jay Agustin, edited by lifefitwork

YOU’RE DONE!

Congratulations for completing the lifefitwork 5-Day Challenge! Now some of you might be saying “this wasn’t hard” or “I’ve seen all these exercises before, nothing new”, well I further challenge you to try all 5 every day. The tough part will be committing yourself to taking the time to complete them. This is the hardest part of any fitness regime, but once you’re over that hump you’ll see just how easy it can be. If you didn’t get a chance to complete all of the challenges this week, no sweat. Here’s a quick recap and where you can find them;

1. Plank

2. Side Plank

3. Squat

4. Hip Extension

5. Push Up (see above!)

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5 Exercises you can do at HOME Exercise #4

Exercise #4 Hip Extensions

Benefits

Also a great calorie burner, this exercise targets the butt and hamstrings. Not only will they lift and tone your butt, they’ll also help you perform the first 3 exercises much better. The problem is, the average desk-chained individual sits so frequently that the muscles in their butt literally shut off. Over time, injuries occur in the low back, knees and even the ankles to name a few.

Progressions

Instead of using two legs, perform the exercise with one or even add weight to your waist.

Another effective progression is to hold the squeeze for a set amount of time (ideally 30 secs+).

Counter Stretch: Pigeon Pose

Pair this exercise up with a pigeon pose to loosen up the backside of your hip and promote more blood flow to the area worked. Got back pain? Inactive/tight glutes usually contribute to the stiff back that you’ve been experiencing.

Written by Jay Agustin, edited by lifefitwork

5 Exercises you can do at HOME Exercise #3

Exercise #3 Squat

Benefits

The squat targets one of the biggest muscle groups allowing for optimal calorie burn. Believe it or not, they will also contribute to your fat loss not only in the legs, but also everywhere else in the body (yes, even that spare tire around the waist!)

Progressions

To make the squat more challenging, add weight, speed up your reps, or even add a jump.

Counter Stretch: Runner’s Lunge

Pair this exercise up with a runner’s lunge (link includes other helpful stretches as well) and save yourself from the tight hips you’re most likely suffering from. As an added bonus, they’ll help you squat even deeper over time.

Written by Jay Agustin, edited by lifefitwork

5 Exercises you can do at HOME Exercise #2

Exercise #2 Side Plank

Benefits

The core is considered to be made up of the many muscles that wrap around the waist (even the legs) not just the ‘6-pack’. This exercise is definitely one of the underrated moves and also contributes to improved posture and the slim looking waist perfect for completing the summer look.

Progressions

To make things more challenging add movement/weight to the side plank.

– movement with arms/legs (countless variations)

– added dumbbell in free hand or even ankle weights

Need More? Couple your side planks with yesterday’s Plank, and feel the burn! #lifefitwork

written by Jay Agustin, edited by lifefitwork

5 Exercises you can do at HOME Exercise #1

Exercise #1 Plank

Benefits

Targets the core, which is essential for a desk-chained individual. A strong core is associated with good posture and it’s what’s usually lacking when you’re caught sitting for most of the day. As an added bonus they’ll also contribute to the 6-pack you’re dying to see.

Progressions

To make things more challenging add movement/weight to the plank.

– movement with arms/legs (countless variations)

– added weight plate on back

written by Jay Agustin, edited by lifefitwork

Look Good = Feel Good

If you think this isn’t true you are WRONG. I know that’s a strong statement, but seriously, I challenge you to disagree with me on this one (I actually encourage this).

If you don’t like what you’re wearing, or feel comfortable in what you’re wearing on the outside, you will not ‘feel good’ on the inside. Example. Say you work in a very corporate environment and you have the daunting task of making a presentation to Senior Executives (yes, I faced this last week). Will I be wearing slacks and the sweater that I may or may not have slept in the night before? No! I’ll be wearing the most appropriately-corporate outfit I own (which also doubles as my “interview” go-to). Going into that arena feeling confident with my knowledge & in my appearance made for one heck of a successful presentation!

This isn’t ground breaking news in a day-to-day sense, but what most people don’t realize is the same goes for your workout gear. If you don’t feel good with what you’re wearing, chances are you won’t feel like you’ve accomplished very much in your workout. You need to find your “workout” go to. So starting from the bottom, here’s a lifefitwork Style Guide (live links included!) to help you find what that is;

Gents: Apologies in advance as this a female-centered post, but please by all means, comment and share your thoughts from the men’s perspective as well! Please also note that all of the products listed below are samples of what I already own and no, this is not an endorsed review, all have been purchased & tested by me!

SHOES

Nike Free

            Nike Free 5.0

Did someone say Nike? Contrary to popular belief and almost all social media, Nike shoes are not the only ones on offer.

Don’t base your fitness shoe on style, performance comes first and I guarantee you’ll find a pair you like anyways. Not sure which ones to get? The Running Room and some Nike stores offer a free assessment of your stride, gait etc. to find the best shoe for you!

BOTTOMS

THE Fold-Over Tights, Addidas - Stella McCartney

THE Fold-Over Tights Addidas – Stella     McCartney

You’ve got 3 basic options. Pants, capris or shorts (I beg of you, unless you’re playing Tennis a skort is NOT an option). Whether you’re sporting pants or capris make sure your focus is on the quality of the fabric, and make sure you perform the standard squat and/or jog test before you purchase.

in the flow crop

in the flow crop  Lululemon              

This is so important.

[Squat Test: With your back to a mirror, bend down as if you are sitting on a chair & take a peak over your shoulder. If you can see your under things or the slight shade of your skin colour, do not purchase.]

Brave enough for the short game? Make sure to check the length and elasticity while in motion, or else face the wrath of shorts-turned-underwear in a matter of seconds. [Jog Test: Run on the spot to make sure shorts stay in place and do not ride up.]

                                       TOPS

run: swiftly tech long sleeve crew (my personal fave!) Lululemon

run: swiftly tech long sleeve crew (my personal fave!) Lululemon

Here the options are endless, but there can be a right or wrong choice depending on the activity you’re doing and body type. Let me start by lending some truth to this myth; “Baggy t-shirts make you look skinnier” – No they do not! They make anyone look sloppy and frumpy regardless of what’s hidden underneath them.

Note: Cotton is a fabric to avoid when working out as they will retain a lot of that sweat you’re getting rid of and weigh you down.

Instead, find a light-weight breathable fabric. As daunting as this may sound, opt for a shirt with a tighter fit, or a constructed top with a flattering flair. Don’t shy away from a tight fit, these can actually suck you in and make you look thinner (#winning).

                                                     BOLDER HOLDERS

Or, sports bras if you prefer. This one is a little more personal and you definitely need to pay attention to fabric, elasticity, coverage and the Bounce Effect (you know what I’m talking about).

If you’re going to spend money on any of the above items, invest the most in a good quality sports bra – your back will thank you (again, sorry gentlemen but it’s a girl thang).

All things considered, size matters when you’re looking for the right support for your body.

Now, I know I’ve just mentioned a lot of stuff and a lot of brands that let’s face it, are not cheap! Don’t fret, there are affordable options out there. I’ve listed some of the most common brands to give you an idea of what kind of thing you should be looking for. But here’s a great list to find affordable yoga gear, and no, I wouldn’t classify them as being “yoga only” items. FYI, my favourite sports bras of all-time were purchased at Target for $20, and as soon as the news came out that they were closing I bought 3 more #guilty.

So remember…

1. Always try things on.

2. Always test out how they move.

3. Go lightweight & tight (ish).

Love how you feel in an outfit and I promise you’ll feel better & push yourself harder. #lifefitwork

Let’s Get Personal

Now that I’ve covered some ground with lifefitwork, it occurred to me that you may be wondering where I am getting all of my topics and ‘expertise’ from. If you’ve taken a look at my About page you already know that I’m not a personal trainer & not a nutritionist, so what gives me the right to talk about “healthy living”? Really, I’m simply a self-proclaimed ‘expert’ in the subject not because I’ve studied the science behind it, but because I’ve lived it. Allow me to re-introduce myself and let’s get personal.

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Some muddy Tough Mudders

I am competitive. Always have been and always will be. Growing up with a brother 4 years my senior meant that I had a constant competitor and I loved it! I used to trail Chris and his friends around everywhere they went and I was insistent that anything they could do, I could do better. Most of the time I was able to live up to my self-expectations with one exception, the amusement park height marker always got the best of me. I know people always say they’re competitive, but seriously, I’ve been known to take it to the next level.

Like this one time when I was spending a week at choir camp, (yes, this exists) I was told by the cute camp counselor that I couldn’t eat one of the hot jalapeno peppers he had grown himself. The fact that none of his early-twenties-aged friends would do it should have been a red flag. But alas, the 12 year-old (going on 18) me, said “Ha! Just watch me” and I gobbled it down. The utter disbelief that crossed their faces was almost worth the sheer pain I experienced as a result of eating an entire jalapeno pepper. Note: I come from a very British family, spice is not in our vocabulary. Did I let them see my discomfort? Absolutely not. I sat in the dining hall eating bread and milk and didn’t utter a word of complaint. And heck yes I was satisfied. My prize? Instead of fruit for dessert I was given an ice cream bar and was later serenaded with a guitar rendition of Oasis – “Wonderwall” by that same cute counselor who told me I couldn’t eat the pepper.

This inner drive to compete carried me all the way through my childhood and high school career. However, was most apparent in the realm of sports and physical activity.

Where's Sarah? The keen one with her shirt properly tucked in!

Where’s Sarah? The keen one with her shirt properly tucked in!

Name a sports team in elementary school and I was on it. Discus throw included. And to be a competitor, you had to put in hard work to be healthy & fit. As much fun as it was, there was also a lot of discipline involved. Much of this discipline I attribute to my Dad, John. As a child, if my brother or I left our dishes out or didn’t clean our rooms etc. our punishment would be a mandatory set of 25 push-ups. No joke. John is not ex-military and his father didn’t use those tactics on him, but it was his way of trying to use push-ups as a deterrent/punishment. Little did he know, it was working to create a habit of healthy activity that I have taken and applied to daily life.

Eventually I realized that I couldn’t be “the best” at every sport under the sun and narrowed my expertise to one discipline; dance (yes, it’s a SPORT).

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DalDance Competitive Piece

This is where most of my education in health and fitness blossomed. As a dancer, you have to be so aware of your body and the muscles needed to shape the way you want to move. In many sports there is a ball or tool used to compete but in dance, you are the ball. You are the only thing stopping you from winning or losing so it’s in your best interest to be finely tuned. That being said, in a dance class it is glaringly obvious when you are not looking or doing your best, there are mirrors EVERYWHERE. Because I spent so much time looking at myself in the mirror, I learned a lot about my diet and how it affects my bodies’ performance. I started listening in, and noticed I reacted differently to certain foods depending on when, what and how I ate. I didn’t realize how much I had learned about myself until well into my University days when I finally had what Oprah likes to call my own “ah-ha moment”. But let me tell you, after 20 years as a dancer I have learned a LOT about my personal diet and fitness.

This realization, coupled with my natural drive to succeed in a physical landscape is how I’ve come to conclude that yes, I can be a voice for healthy living. Whether or not you like, love, or hate being physically active or eating your veggies there is still a way for anyone to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. This is the notion I hope I can instill with my readers and guide you to understand what works best for you. I think the most important thing to take from my experiences and this blog entirely, is that there is no overnight solution, or a wrong or right way to achieve a healthy lifestyle. You have to want it, you have to commit yourself to doing it and you have to put in the work.

So now you know a little bit about where I’m coming from and how I got here. But I will ask one thing of you, no, beg of you; don’t dare me to do something. Although I have a better handle on it these days, I will forever have the urge to try any kind of challenge you throw my way! #lifefitwork

What’s Your Excuse?

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As pretty as it looks, it is deceptively cold.

This is the kind of day when all I want to do is hunker down with a good book, wrap myself in the blanket my grandmother knit and drink tea ALL day long. “Feels like -25°C” is really no joke, but I guess that’s what we get when living in Canada. It’s at times like this when we often struggle to find that motivation to venture outside for some exercise or make it to the gym. Today I, too, had to mentally convince myself to pull up my socks, quit making excuses and just Get. To. The. Gym (I did, eventually). So how do we make sure we stick to our goals and avoid getting lost in the land of the never-ending excuses?

One thing you can do is know your excuses and learn how to fight them. Let me give you some examples from my own personal “excuse-catalogue”;

  1. Excuse: It’s so cold. Fight line: If you’re cold, get up and get moving! Physical activity is better than any sweater or blanket at warming you up.
  2. Excuse: I’ve had a really long day. Fight line: Contrary to what you think, you’re not the only one whose had a “long day”. If others can do it so can you.
  3. Excuse: I don’t have time. Fight line: 20 minutes a day is all you need, and once you start you know you’ll keep going.

When it comes to excuses you are your own worst enemy. There are endless excuses you could come up with to avoid exercise but the trick here is to know how to fight them. Think of potential excuses that you might use to avoid your activity of choice, and now quickly counter-act that thought! Knowing and having this “self-knowledge” will help you to recognize the difference between an excuse and a valid reason. And let’s be clear, there are only a handful of valid reasons versus the millions we could fabricate.

Another option is to make it a date. Especially during the cold winter months, set a place and time and invite a friend to go with you. Knowing that you have committed to someone will most likely give you that extra push to make it out the door. If you are struggling to hold yourself accountable for your own actions, this is a great alternative. Guilt is a precious gift, nobody wants to be the friend who no-shows for their gym date. Bonus: this will also serve dual purpose as a social call!

Can’t make it to the gym/yoga/fitness class? Sometimes this truthfully does happen and our schedules don’t allow for it. That’s okay, this is the LIFE part of #lifefitwork. But, just because you can’t make it to the gym doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate activity into your day. Memorize this acronym; MAPS.

Move, Activate, Posture, Stretch

If we can’t schedule an activity, we want to make sure we Move throughout the day, Activate our muscles, maintain good Posture and take a second to Stretch. You may feel like you aren’t accomplishing much, but the goal with MAPS is to help cultivate the habit of exercising and remaining active.

With this in mind, make sure to follow @sarahkcopes for tomorrow’s first FIT Friday challenge! #lifefitwork

Eat, Sleep, Work, Repeat.

Sounds familiar right? If only it were that simple…

Embed from Getty Images

In 2015, it should read more like this: Sleep, check Twitter, Weather app, Facebook, eat, work, check Twitter, LinkedIn, send some emails, check Instragram, buy lunch for the 4th time this week, work, grocery shop, check Twitter, do that thing you’ve been putting off for weeks but procrastinate and say it can wait because all you really want to do is go home and watch Netflix, check Twitter, Instagram, ask your friend why she commented on your IG picture but didn’t like it, maybe go to the gym but probably not, definitely do that assignment due tomorrow but get lost for an hour on Pinterest, eat, check Twitter & Instagram one last time, run through everything you didn’t do today in your head and decide tomorrow will be the day when you get ‘er done, and finally, sleep. 

Stay. Calm. 

So how do we manage all of that AND keep ourselves healthy? We’re told time and time again, to eat this, take that, have a pill, do this exercise and you will live a long healthy, happy skinny life filled with rainbows and sparkles and… a couple of weeks later you’re ordering take out from the guy at the Thai restaurant that knows you by name. But, what I’ve come to learn over my years of working multiple jobs, going to school, volunteering, staying fit, still having a social life (somehow), all at the same time – is that a little organization goes a long way (yes, this is the OCD talking).

Let’s look at this from a business perspective, (because I’m a banker, you know) what makes any business, government or event a success? The ability to plan, organize and execute. Over the next few weeks I have set out to explore and share simple, but effective ways you can reach that balance of LIFEFITWORK. Note: This doesn’t mean wake up at 5am to go to the gym before work, start a juice cleanse and buy that $16 dairy/gluten free breakfast, lunch & dinner. It means changing a little, and getting a LOT in return.

I take your Eat, Sleep, Work, Repeat. and raise you to #lifefitwork !