This guest post comes from Taylor Leandro, our dedicated and hardworking intern. Originally from Fremont, California, Taylor is an undergraduate student at the University of California, Santa Barbara studying Communication and Psychology. She is interested in education, health, and counseling. When she’s not at school or studying, she likes to swim, as she was a competitive swimmer for over 8 years. Keep Taylor in mind if you are looking to hire a quality future employee!
Taylor: As I approach my fourth year at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), I find the topic of “life after college” consuming my mind more and more. Three years ago my main concern was not gaining the dreadful “freshman 15.” Now I am focused on obtaining a full-time job. I am beginning to wonder how I am going to find time to stay fit as I start to work exhausting, 8-hour shifts that leave me with little to no energy to exercise or eat healthy.
After the day to day demands of full time, working, adult existence, it is easy to lose sight of the importance of nutrition and health. I currently lead an active college lifestyle that includes riding my bike to and from school, walking around town as opposed to driving, walking or running to the beach, and even exercising at my school’s gym. What am I going to do once my stress levels increase and my activity decreases (or once I don’t have a free membership to a campus gym)?
Taylor’s mom: First, understand the correlation between stress and weight gain.
If less time is going to be spent on exercising, then more time needs to be focused on eating healthy. Prepare meals for work instead of going through the fast food drive thru for that 800 calorie double cheeseburger with extra cheese and bacon (or shall I say, heart attack).
This can be as simple as taking the flight of stairs instead of the elevator or wearing weights around the house.
(Note from Kymberly and Alexandra: we suggest you put such weights in a backpack so that the weight is evenly distributed. We do not recommend ankle or wrist weights as they tend to stress joints).
A friend or workout partner can keep you motivated on those days off when you just want to sit around and do nothing. You’re less likely to bail on them than you are to bail on yourself.
Make exercise part of your daily routine so it becomes a habit. For example, exercise for 30 minutes after work every day. Once you are in the groove of staying active, you will feel good and won’t berate yourself on those occasional days you skip a workout.
This can help to decrease stress levels when adult life becomes too hectic. Even just 10 minutes a day to clear the mind and lower cortisol levels helps with overall well-being.
Readers: What exercise advice would you give your child, grown or not. What advice would you give your younger self about working out and getting fit?
Yoga can transform you into a more confident woman who’s not afraid to meet life’s challenges. Not only will you become stronger, more flexible, and more agile, but yoga will also affect your mind as you cultivate patience. Yoga can help prepare you to face life’s changes with love, respect, and belief in yourself, and will strengthen you in all the choices you make.
Through yoga, you will learn to listen more to yourself, and trust your self-assessments. As you set the boundaries that work for this phase of life, you will hone your ability to take one day at a time and stay at the present moment. Not tomorrow or yesterday, but now.
Yoga takes your values and thoughts and turns them upside down. If you’ve harbored negative thoughts about yourself, you’ll find yourself becoming a more positive person who values the experiences life has to offer.
In the past, women approaching their 50’s lowered their expectations of what their bodies could do. Perhaps due to cultural pressures and perceptions, women’s self-esteem at this age could suffer. Stress adds tension, especially at the shoulders and neck, which can affect breathing. Once women learn to breathe deeply, their shoulders relax and you can see them start to settle into their own bodies as they learn how to use their entire lungs when they breathe.
No matter what age we are, we have to believe that we are good enough just the way we are. It has to be repeated over and over so that it manifests itself in the mind, because it is the truth. We have to accept and love ourselves for who we are. We don’t need to be perfect – we just have to like who we are. But we sometimes need a little bit of help, because the pressure from the external world is powerful. Yoga can be that friend that provides help.
Yoga is a powerful practice that encourages wellbeing on so many levels. It enables us to age with grace and beauty, and makes the aging process more pleasurable and meaningful.
If you are new to yoga and don’t know where to begin, the following video is for you. It is a sequence of 8 yoga postures specifically for beginners.
More cool info about Lexi: She instructs Yoga videos on her YouTube channel and actively works on her website LexiYoga.com. Her life mainly consists of – Eat, Sleep & Yoga. Follow her to learn more about the healing power and benefits of yoga.
Photo Credits: Lexi Yoga
Alas, unlike wine, muscular strength does not improve with age.
From about age 30 onward, we lose strength at a rate of approximately 10% each year. Recent studies suggest that not all muscle groups are equally affected. In women, the loss of hip flexor and hip abductor strength is significantly more pronounced than that in any other muscle group.
The iliopsoas, rectus femoris and tensor fasciae latae (collectively referred to as the “hip flexors”), connect the lower spine and pelvis to the thigh bone, thereby allowing you to bend at the hip (for example, during a sit-up) and to raise and lower your legs (while standing or lying flat on your back).
While often the focus of intense stretching (most of us have chronically tight hip flexors from running, cycling, driving, sitting and heck, just engaging in 21st century life), the hip flexors are rarely targeted in strength training programs.
In fact, many of the courses I’ve attended as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor have specifically discouraged the inclusion of hip flexor strengthening movements in both group fitness and on-on-one training settings – “Stretch, not strengthen” being the main take home message.
Ironically, as we get older, the hip flexors are precisely the muscles we need to actively strengthen. They not only help with balance and postural stability, strong hip flexors can also keep us from tripping and falling. The stronger your hip flexors, the more likely you’ll be able to lift your leg to avoid tripping and the fewer the number of steps required to regain your balance during a fall.
Join me as I demonstrate my three favorite hip flexor strengthening exercises. Add them to your current strength training program, aiming for 12 to 15 repetitions of each move per side, two to three times per week.
Strengthen your hip flexors and I guarantee, the only trips you’ll be taking will be to warm, sunny climes!
Don’t forget to stretch when you’re done! Alexandra and Kymberly will be happy to show you the right and wrong way to perform a hip flexor stretch.
Tamara believes that exercise and healthy eating need to be part of everyone’s life and aims to inspire and motivate others by showing them that if she can do it, anyone can. She blogs about fitness, food, family and fiber (knitting fiber, that is) at fitknitchick.com and is always thrilled when you comment on her posts. Please follow her on Twitter @fitknitchick_1.
Photo Credits: Tamara Grand
This is a guest post from our friend Kodjo Hounnake. We know you’ll enjoy it.
When it comes to strength training, most people typically go for free weights and machines. But if you work out at home, you probably know how expensive free weights are; let alone full-blown workout machines. So if you get most of your workout done at home, one piece of equipment you may want to get is the resistance tube.
Resistance tubes are long rubber bands with handles on them, and are used to perform strength training exercise routines. The resistance depends on its elasticity. This means that the thicker the tube, the higher its resistance. Keep that in mind when choosing one. You certainly don’t want it to be too elastic or not elastic enough. In other words, find your sweet spot.
The different uses of the resistance tube are only limited by your creativity. For example, you can step on the tube and use its resistance to perform biceps curls and lateral raises. Also, make sure your resistance tube comes with a door attachment, as it helps hook the tube to a door or window. This further increases the breadth of exercises you can perform. For instance, when attached to a door, the resistance tube can be used to perform triceps extensions, chest fly, rows, etc.
Unlike dumbbells that have a set weight, the great thing about resistance tubes is that you can increase or decrease your level of difficulty by modifying your position. Specifically, if you attach the band to a door, the farther you move away from the door, the higher the intensity of each pull. The closer you are to the door, the easier your workout.
There are many reasons everyone should own a resistance tube:
Resistance tubes are travel-friendly: If you travel often, it is very easy to skip a workout, especially if your travel location doesn’t have a gym in close proximity. In this case, the resistance tube can come to your rescue, as it is very easy to pack, and can be used in your hotel room or strapped around a tree.
Resistance tubes are cheap: There isn’t a lot of exercise equipment out there that is both versatile and affordable. The resistance tube is one of them. You can pick one up for less than $20, so it’s great for the budget-conscious exerciser (i.e. most of us)!
Resistance tubes add variety: With regular free weights, you are limited by the number of exercises you can perform, whereas a resistance tube allows you to modify your positioning in so many different ways, that there are endless possibilities for complexity and difficulty.
Resistance tubes are not just for the pros: Because you can control the elasticity of the tubes, they can be used by beginners and pros alike. To add intensity to your workout, step away from the attachment point. (for example, if you’re doing a chest press with the tube in the door behind you, the attachment point is where the tube is held by the door). To reduce the intensity, move closer to the center of the tube.
In the routine below, you’ll see the resistance tube being used to perform some triceps, shoulders and chest exercises
About the author: Kodjo Hounnake is a fitness enthusiast turned health blogger. When he is not tweeting or blogging about home workout sand healthy eating, he is likely eating healthfully and working out at home. His wish is to contribute as much as possible to the fight against obesity in America. He recently developed a four-week home workout program to help people exercise in the comfort of their home. Kodjo has more than a hundred thousand loyal Twitter Followers at Kodjoworkout.
Dear Readers: We encourage you to subscribe to and follow Kodjo, as he’s a very sociable person.
For those of you who are new to tubes or have shoulder issues, we recommend you hold your arms lower than shoulder height for the chest press, with the tube coming under the arms rather than over.