I love a good home workout especially if you have all the right equipment. No one is on machines so no waiting, no traffic getting to and from and you can workout any time. If you are thinking of what equipment to add to your home gym, these are proven winners. I use them with clients as a trainer and they are fantastic at what they do.
I put them in order of favorites but all are must haves in my book.
TRX ($150-250) – This piece of equipment was designed by and for Navy Seals. What more do I need to say. You can do an entire upper and lower body workout and get serious results. Good for beginners and absolutely perfect for advanced exercisers.
Yoga Mat ($20-150) – Perfect for stretches, ab work and of course yoga.
Jump Rope aka Speed Rope ($20-40)- Jumping rope is a great exercise. Try it for 2 minutes and I guarantee you will have your heart rate up and start yelling Uncle! Great for interval work especially since it’s a great conditioning tool.
Exercise Ball/Stability Ball ($10-25) – This is great for hamstring work, core work, and balance plus you can use it as a bench. Roll out as you do dumbbell chest flies, overheads etc.
Dumbbells ($20-500) – I am not a fan of having a full range but key sizes. The sizes you need plus a set up and down. You can grow it as you wish, but do not need entire set to get started.
Resistance Bands ($5-100) – These are best if they have a handle on the ends. They take up much less room than dumbbells and provide great resistance. A variety of resistances are needed. 2-4 bands to start.
I am a fan of outdoor cardio, running, biking, etc. So if you have to do your cardio inside due to weather, location etc. A very good treadmill or studio cycling bike would also be contenders. A Bluetooth speaker for motivation/to drown out heavy breathing and a fan for those who need air moving are also helpful additions to a home gym.
You can start with 1 or 2. You may have a great gym membership and need supplemental equipment on days that the gym just won’t work. But a home gym is a great way to ensure you move every day. If you have questions or need advice, just drop me a note in the comments section.
Everyone knows how good sleep is for you, but do you know how much is truly plays into your health? Google what happens when you sleep or benefits of sleep and pages upon pages will open up. I believe sleep is the number one thing you can do to improve your health. Good quality sleep will single handily improve your mood, concentration, body function, fitness and relationships. It’s the miracle cure of most of what ails us. Yet it’s the one thing most people battle.
We need to change our attitudes about sleep. We need to stop thinking a pill will get us there and rely on our own bodies to get the sleep we are designed to enjoy. This will take a huge effort in how we approach sleep and our attitudes about sleep. First we need to stop staying up so late. Going to bed early never hurt anyone and in fact will add time spent sleeping which always a good thing. Also, start the ‘getting ready for bed’ process earlier. Get in your jammies early, start your evening routine a little earlier and stop the noise earlier. No TV, iPhone, iPad, Kindle, computer, etc. If needs a plug or charge, it needs to be turned off and it needs to be set up somewhere besides your bedroom. You do not need it as an alarm, you can get an actual alarm for that. Noises that wake us or devices that allow us to get up and face a screen do not help with sleeping in any way. If you wake up at that oh so early 3am window and your phone is in the other room, chances are you will not get up and go get it, you will more likely roll over and try to go back to sleep.
Add white noise through a fan or machine. Keep your room temperature and a slightly cooler level making sleep more enjoyable. Consider a naturally non caffeinated herbal tea prior to bed. Do some deep breathing exercises, consider 2 or 3 easy calming yoga moves to get the body ready for rest. There are so many things we can do to get our body ready for rest and its worth your time to find which ones help the most.
Think of the act of falling asleep as an ocean wave. Sleep will flow up onto us like the surf on the beach and recede back. Then it will flow up further and recede back again. It’s an ebb and flow not a ‘fall into’. As you are drifting into sleep you may come awake again, that is natural. This is the ebb and flow of falling asleep. You sink into sleep, then lift slightly up and out, then sink further into sleep and a little lift out. Like the tides you will slowly find sleep. It’s rarely the sudden drop from awake to sleep. Do not see the awake portion as you are not falling asleep, it’s very much part of how one falls asleep.
These changes will not change your sleep in one effort. This change takes time and regular practice until you find that sleep is more readily available to you. You can have a bad night of sleep, but your new practices will slowly make them less frequent. And more restful sleep more available.
If the item is bad for you but tastes good, does the ‘tasting good’ have weight in deciding if it’s truly bad or only partially bad? I’m starting to think that is the case. I have even heard people state that eating ‘bad’ food is OK every now and then. Unfortunately, that typically means regularly. Because if you rarely eat bad food, when you do eat it, you will feel ill. It takes regular consumption for your body to process bad food without disruption of your system.
How about when we take a good item and processing makes it bad but tastes better than the original good item. Now we are all in trouble because yes oats are healthy, but oatmeal cereals are very unhealthy. Oranges are great for you but orange juice is the worst thing you can drink. Grapes are great but grape jelly is not. Potatoes are good but French fries are bad. Based on what takes up more space on grocery store shelves I can tell you which forms are sold in greater quantity.
Healthy looking packaging, farm scenes and use of those words make items appear healthier. Looking at the processed meat aisle I was shocked at how many farm scenes, craft paper-like wrappers and the use of the actual words ‘farm’, ‘fresh’ and ‘natural’ were used in the name of the product. I can tell you that processed meat will never be healthy no matter how pretty they wrap it up and suggest that it is. The same can go for the cereal aisle.
Commercials that proudly announce the health benefits of their products. This is often on those once ‘good’ food items that have been processed and no longer good for you. Boxed cereal is the biggest culprit in this scam. Wheat, sugar and lots of chemicals make up most boxed cereals and they should not be considered a healthy breakfast choice. But they will tote that a breakfast with whole grains support a healthy meal and therefore healthy for you. Sadly, anything good was is lost when items such as whole grains are heavily processed and added to the sugar and chemicals also found in those boxed cereals.
We live in a world where fast and cheap win over quality and health. It will never be easy, fast or super cheap to eat healthy. You will have to work for health and it’s not always cheap. But health is always worth working for.
I don’t typically count calories. I do have one exception: if the container provides them. I primarily dine on plant based foods and there are no calories printed on broccoli, spinach or tomatoes. I buy bulk and those items don’t have labels once I get them home; such as quinoa, beans, nut butters, nuts, oat grouts, etc. The items that have labels include eggs, cheese, coconut oil and avocado oil which I know to consume in smaller quantities.
I base my food portions for what I am eating. If I am eating a healthy item (read plant based and not processed) I give myself a healthy portion. If it is a more processed version, then smaller portions of it. If it is a known caloric item such as nuts, nut butters, cheeses and oils; then I use sparingly or know that my general caloric intake will be higher for that meal or day.
I am not a fan of counting calories, I think that if we eat healthy we shouldn’t have to count our calories. We as a society are stuck on counting calories and I understand why with the horrifying rise of obesity in our nation. But often what we choose to eat and the number of calories we allow ourselves put us in problematic cycles of starvation and depletion of nutrients. You also cannot expect to get all your nutrients if you pick processed foods with high calorie counts and limit your intake of total calories. But that is another topic for another time.
This may sound like a simple idea, but I understand that it is not. We want easy, fast and healthy. Sadly, we cannot have all three. It can be easy and fast but it won’t be healthy. And healthy takes time to prep so it’s not always fast and easy is often up for debate. My suggestion is take all the energy you put into counting calories and put into creating meals that are made from fresh ingredients. You just might stop stressing over what can you eat and start getting excited at what you get to eat!
I’m a big fan of yoga. Tried yoga back in the late 90’s after a spinal injury and at the advice of my Iron Man running Chiropractic doctor. At first I didn’t like it, but after about a month I fell deeply in love with yoga. I love how it makes me feel once I complete a class. And I fully believe it to be a necessary compliment to my heavy weight lifting and running. It’s the Yin to the Yang in my workout. I am also currently in the middle of yoga teacher training with the hopes of personally spreading my love of yoga to anyone who will listen.
This past weekend my husband and I participated in a Yoga Basics workshop. After almost a dozen years of yoga it seemed like a good idea to check in on the basics. And man was I right! It’s like driving, you are taught 10 & 2 on the steering wheel, but after years of driving, its one hand and a knee. You get either lazy or sloppy or just forgetful, but either way, you forget the basics.
We enjoyed a 3-hour workshop going over the intricate details of the basic poses found in Sun A and Sun B. We re-learned where our elbows should be on chaturanga (high to low plank). We re-learned the form and benefits of utkatasana (chair pose). We learned modifications for our much older shoulders and how to truly open our torso in twists. It was amazingly beneficial and I feel even more excited for my yoga practice. Because it’s not just going through the motions, it’s what you achieve while you are there.
There are so many hidden benefits of yoga and taking this basics workshops reminded me of that. If you are new to the idea of yoga or have been practicing for many years. You need to treat yourself to a yoga basics workshop. The benefits are immeasurable.