Monthly Archives: October 2015

Why Does My Back Hurt So Much?

Highlighted spine of woman with back painI am currently 37 years old and work out about 3 times a week. In the past I’ve done a lot of running, including 3 half marathons and a duathlon, and was able to avoid any injuries throughout all of it. Why is it that suddenly I’m experiencing a great deal of back pain when I feel like I’m exercising less? This has been puzzling me for the past several weeks and I think I’ve come up with a reason why.




There are two things that have recently changed in my workout routine that could be the culprits. The first is that I started doing weigh lifting 2 days a week. I attend a cardio lift class at my local recreation center that I love! For one hour we lift weights to work all of our major muscle groups and I burn a ton of calories. I’m also noticing more tone in my muscles.

The second change is that I joined a women’s basketball league and now play full court basketball two times a week. Seeing as how I was already working out regularly, I figured I was in shape enough to play basketball, but boy was I wrong. Neither my long distance running or my weight lifting classes prepared me for the soreness I felt after my first game. The next morning I woke up with bruises all over, a sore ankle, my back was killing me, and I felt like I was 80 years old. What had just happened?!?!?!

Fast forward two weeks and this is where I am now. I realized that the physical contact nature of basketball was something my body was not accustomed to, and it was ridiculous of me to assume my 37 year old body would do just as well at playing basketball as my 20 year old body had. My body had changed, and so should my expectations.

In order to avoid back pain, I needed to be more careful when doing body weight movements that use my back. Working those muscles too hard caused unnecessary back pain. I also needed to take advantage of subs when I was on the basketball court to give my body needed rest. Last of all, I needed to make sure I properly stretched and kept myself hydrated. As time goes on, our physical needs change, and we need to change with them. If we don’t, our body will pay the price.

3 Chest Exercises for Perky Breasts

Close up of sporty young woman training with dumbbellWhen you think of perky breasts, do you think of exercise? I doubt it. If you are a woman and you want to give your breasts a lift, the first thing you might reach for is a stronger bra with a firm under wire. Although this can give you a boost, it’s really only a band-aid for the real problem at hand. As we age and sometimes have children, our breasts get less perky and start to head south. We can thank our children for some of this, and gravity for the rest. Either way, we face a never-ending battle against nature. Is there anything we can do?



Although there is a genetic component to the way our breasts are shaped and grow, there are some things we can do to keep them as perky as possible. Eating a well balanced diet is always helpful when it comes to keeping our and organs healthy. It also helps us avoid gaining extra weight. When you put on weight, some of that extra weight can show up in your breasts, which can cause them to sag more.

You can also do chest specific exercises that will strengthen your breast muscles and help you lose added fat that could be weighing them down. They include a dumbbell fly rear lateral raise, and weighted swing. By doing these on a regular basis in addition to regular cardio exercise and eating a healthy diet, you will have perkier breasts in no time.



Wicked Upper Body Challenge: Week 4

October Challenge-04

Welcome to our final week of the Wicked Upper Body Challenge where we are shaping up all the scary conditions our bodies may be in from lack of exercise. To top off the challenge we are going to focus on chest toning exercises this week. Do the following exercises every day this week:

Push-ups – 15 reps 3 times

Bent over row – 20 reps 3 times

Chest press – 20 reps 3 times

If you have been participating in the challenge all month, then you may need more of a challenge than 15 reps for the push-ups. Feel free to increase the reps for any of these exercises to make it challenging enough for you.

As usual, to continue toning your entire upper body add the workouts from Week 1, Week 2 and Week 3 of the Wicked Upper Body Workout.

Stuffed Jack-o-Lantern Peppers

B_HalloweenStuffedPeppersHalloween is a few days away. We are getting excited at our house to dress up and go load up on candy (well, at least my kids are excited about the candy). I like to make sure that they are getting something healthy for dinner. Stuffed peppers is one of our favorite meals. We usually make them using red peppers, but at Halloween I like to use orange peppers and cut jack-o-lantern faces into them. It makes it fun for the kids.

There are a lot of different versions of stuffed peppers out there, but this is the filling I like:

3 cups cooked quinoa

4 oz. can green chilies

1 cup corn kernels

1/2 cup canned black beans (drained and rinsed)

1/2 cup petite diced tomatoes

1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese

3 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

kosher salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. This makes enough filling for about six peppers. Fill peppers with quinoa mix. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.


11 Slimming Secrets for Broad Shouldered Women

V-neck Polka DotsBy nature, I am not a small woman. I hit my full height of 5’10″ when I was 14 years old, and could never manage to fit into less than a size 8 pair of jeans. My hips were simply too wide to go any smaller, and I had a pair of broad shoulders to match. This was very helpful when it came to playing basketball and soccer, but not so helpful when it came to finding clothes that fit me well. Pants and skirts were always too short, and I had to get XL shirts to fit my shoulders. Now that I’m nearing 40, I’ve finally figured out the best way to flatter my broad shouldered figure. Here are 11 of my favorite shoulder slimming tips that really work.

1. Choose v-neck or scoop tops to draw eyes away from your shoulders.

2. Emphasize your waistline to balance out your large shoulders.

3. Add volume to the lower half of your body to make the top half look smaller.

4. Wear long necklaces to elongate your torso.

5. Pair dark colored tops with light colored bottoms to make your upper half appear smaller.

6. Choose halter and tank tops with larger straps, or that are angled diagonally toward the neck.

7. Go for diagonal cut sleeves instead of horizontal.

8. Always avoid puffy sleeves.

9. Choose tops and dresses with an empire waist.

10. Go for thin and narrow collars.

11. Wear plain colored tops and patterned bottoms.



Wicked Upper Body Challenge: Week 3

October Challenge-03

Week 3 of the Wicked Upper Body Challenge is all about sculpting your shoulders. This week do the following exercises to tone your shoulders.

Shoulder press – 15 reps 3 times

Front rows – 15 reps 3 times

Arm circles – 30 reps 3 times

Continue to do the workouts from Week 1 and Week 2 in addition to this weeks  to really tone your upper body.

Not So Spooky Pumpkin Muffins

pumpkin cookies-2In many countries Halloween is associated with lots and lots of candy given out by strangers and devoured by children dressed up in costumes. For many parents, it’s the one night each year they allow their children to eat as much candy as they like. Others choose to ration their children’s candy pile so it lasts for a month or so. Either way, candy is involved and children are thrilled. What can we do as parents to encourage our kids to eat a shred of fruits and vegetables on Halloween night?

I came across this recipe for pumpkin muffins that included applesauce, carrots and pumpkin. In one delicious muffin, your kids can ingest two fruits and one veggie, plus some healthy whole grains. I tested this recipe out on my 9 year old daughter and she absolutely loved them!

I took it one step further and allowed my daughter to decorate the muffins like jack-o-lanterns. She had a great time making different faces, some spookier than others. You could decorate these ahead of time to be eaten at the party, or allow the kids and grown ups to decorate them for an activity. Either way, they cute, festive and delicious!

Why Moms Need Strong Biceps

Healthy mother and baby girl showing biceps on beachWhen you think of big biceps, do you envision some meat head guy at the gym with bulging biceps that look larger than your head? That’s what I used to visualize until I started taking a cardio lift class at my local rec center. The class was filled with mostly women who wanted to experience a great workout, strengthen their muscles, and possibly lose some weight. As I looked around, there were older women, younger women, some who looked quite out of shape, and others who looked like they were career triathlon competitors. I also noticed many of the women had very defined arms, and were lifting quite heavy weights.

It made me think about the importance of women having strong upper bodies. We may not realize it, but we use our arm muscles every day without even thinking about it. Every time you lift a child, carry heavy groceries, or move around furniture, you’re using your biceps muscles. If you work as a doctor or nurse, you may be required to lift or move around patients. Those who do manual labor as part of their work use their arm muscles all the time. Regardless of your age or profession, having strong biceps is very helpful.

If you are looking for ways to build and strengthen your biceps, try out some of our workouts that will help you bulk up your biceps.

Wicked Upper Body Challenge: Week 2

October ChallengeWelcome to week 2 of the Wicked Upper Body Challenge. Last week we focused on blasting those bat wings by working our triceps. This week we’re making our arms stronger than straw and building our biceps. This week do the following exercises every day:

Bicep curl – 20 reps, 3 times

Wide bicep curl – 15 reps, 3 times

Push-ups – 15 reps, 3 times

If you want really tones arms by Halloween, continue to do the triceps workout from last week with this week’s bicep workout. If you aren’t feeling challenged, increase the number of reps. This workout is completely adjustable to your level. If it is too intense, decrease the number of reps to 10.

Top 3 Reasons to Have Coffee Before a Workout


1. Burn More Calories

According to a recent study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, by drinking 12 ounces of coffee before you workout, you could burn 15% more calories for first 3 hours after you finish your workout.

2. Less Pain

According to scientists at the University of Illinois, if you drink 2-3 regular cups of coffee one hour before you do 30 minutes of high intensity exercise, you will feel less pain during your workout, allowing you to push yourself harder than normal. Over time this can help increase endurance and muscle strength.

3. Increased Performance

Several studies have shown the link between coffee consumption and improved athletic performance. In one such study, those who consumed coffee ran faster on the treadmill than those in the control group. In another study, those who participated in strength and power sports had improvement in their performance by up to 20%.



Now, a word of caution. This is not to say that you can drink as much coffee as you want every day and expect to perform better and better over time. You performance will only improve if you combine a moderate amount of coffee (not more than 16 oz. a day) with a healthy diet and regular exercise. Avoid coffee with large amounts of added sugar, flavoring or cream, and reach for basic black coffee with just a little sugar if desired. Make sure you also stay hydrated with plenty of water, as coffee can cause dehydration.