Category Archives: Strength Training

Total Body Workout + Another Lazy Dinner

At work yesterday I taught a Total Body Toning class.  It’s a 45-minute class focusing on strength training.  I love teaching this format because I don’t have to worry about choreography like in my other classes (Turbo Kick and Step) and I can get creative with new moves.  Don’t get me wrong, I love teaching choreography and it’s a ton of fun.  But sometimes it’s nice to give my brain a rest from 32-count phrases and focus on pumpin’ some iron!

Yesterday’s Total Body Workout looked like this (click to view):


  • We took about a 30-second rest in between sets
  • The weights I personally used ranged from 5lb dumbbells (for exercises like shoulder raises) and 12lb dumbbells (for rows, chest presses, overhead shoulder presses, and biceps).  I used a 15lb body bar for the clean and press.
  • The squat with a front raise and leg lift looks like thisIt’s tough!
  • The side lunge and reach with an overhead raise looked like this except I used a dumbbell.

After teaching it was time for my lunch break so I decided to keep my workout momentum going and completed  30 minutes of cardio.  My workout looked like this:

Felt good to get in some heart pumpin’ cardio while listening to Lady’s Gaga’s newest CD (which is amazing!!)


Dinner was another lazy creation.  I picked up some orange chicken at Trader Joes over the weekend and decided it would be a good night to make it since Andy was out for the evening.

First I sauteed up some sweet peppers and mushrooms in olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper:

As the veggies were cooking I heated the chicken in a canola oil blend over medium heat on the stove:

Along side the chicken and veggies I decided to make some Near East Roasted Pecan and Garlic rice.  This flavor is so, so good!

While waiting for everything to cook I sipped on one of my favorite drinks:

I love Skinny Girl Margaritas! I really enjoy the taste.  It’s not sweet at all like a typical margarita.  It’s more of a tart flavor and it’s refreshing.  I love em’!

Cheers! 🙂

Once the chicken was cooked (and I was slightly buzzed!), I added the delicious orange sauce (which I microwaved for 2 minutes) and sauteed veggies:

Dinner was ready!

As far as frozen meals go, this chicken is pretty tasty and I’d definitely buy it again to make one of my lazy dinners.

Play Time

When Andy got home around 8pm we relaxed outside on our patio.

We spent some time watching (and laughing) as Boo and Sophia went crazy running around:

Who you callin' crazy? You're the one dancing in the living room every morning... alone!

Watch me HOP!

Dog or monster?


For a moment they were calm:

But this one is never truly calm:

Love my pups! 🙂


Tomorrow morning I leave on my flight to North Carolina for a whole week to see my family! Andy isn’t going (booo!) because he already has used most of his vacation days.  I am going to miss him and the pups so much! But I am definitely looking forward to a week of relaxing, eating, sitting on the beach, running by the ocean, and just having fun with everyone.  See ya in Emerald Isle, NC!


Do you like to fly? I’m actually a bit scared of flying and I always feel nervous and can’t relax one bit while in the air (Andy on the other hand falls right to sleep!) But I  suck it up and do it because I want to go places and see friends and family that live far away.

Are you taking any vacations this summer?

Clean Plate Club

Yesterday’s workout was a tough one.  I did the Pick 6 Challenge again at work.  Right now we’re doing a 12-week Health Challenge and there are different teams competing.  I am the captain of my team, Progress not Perfection. Every couple of weeks we have different challenges for the teams to do.

For the Pick 6 Challenge You pick 6 events (out of 10 total).  You must do 3 carido and 3 strength events.  You have 2 minutes in between each exercise, so it goes pretty quickly.  I felt as though I was in a dead sprint for the entire duration of the workout!

For my Pick 6 I did the following (and in this order):

  • 1 mile run: 8:27
  • 1 minute curl ups: 77
  • 2 mile bike: 6:58
  • Bench Press (as many as I could do at 37% of my body weight on the smith machine): 25 reps
  • 10 minutes on the AMT: I went 1.1 miles and kept the resistance between 8 and 10 and kept my stride long.
  • Leg Extensions (as many as I could do at 40% of my body weight): 70 reps

Phew, this was a tough workout! I felt as though I gave 100% of my effort.  I also taught 2 classes earlier that day, so my strength was a bit fatigued.  But overall, I did my best and had fun doing so.  I’m glad it’s over though 😉

This workout could be implemented easily into anyone’s routine for a nice challenge.  Give it a try! Here are the rules and exercise guidelines.

Clean Plate Club

After work yesterday, I was exhausted.  I knew that an easy dinner was a must! I threw a couple of chicken breasts in the the crock pot, covered em’ with low sodium chicken broth, a few dashes of hot sauce, chili powder, garlic powder, and pepper to make shredded chicken for Taco Night.

Taco Chicken

I cooked the chicken on high for about 2 hours and before I knew it, dinner was ready! I got out some essential taco toppings to make a taco buffet for Andy and I:

Taco Essentials

Andy and I piled some toppings onto soft tortillas and chowed down while watching “How I met your Mother”:


I filled my taco with chicken, salsa, sour cream, cheese, and chopped onions.  On the side I had some Guiltless Gourmet chips:

My Plate

Taco night was a success! I love how simple yet delicious this meal can be.

Taco Thursday

Sophia was on crumb control just in case I happened to drop anything:

On Duty for Crumb Control

Sophia is definitely a member of the Clean Plate Club.  Even after she licks her bowl clean, she makes sure that Boo’s bowl is just as clean.  And to be honest, I’m the same way! When Andy and I get ice cream I always inspect his cup to eat any left over fudge and chocolate.  Clean Plate Club for life! 🙂

Thanks Boo, for always letting me lick your bowl clean!

Always room for Sundaes

After dinner I went to the book store to get the third installment of the the Hunger Games, along with a couple of other purchases:


I purchased Learning from the Light and The Quiet Room along with Mockingjay.   I can’t decide which one to start with! They’re all completely different, but are all super interesting.

After the book store, I hit up Dairy Queen to pick Andy and I up some hot fudge sundaes.  I think I say this every day, but in my life there is always room for sundaes! I think I could live on soft serve ice cream.

Dairy Queen Sundae

This sundae was extra delicious tonight.  And I did lick Andy’s cup clean when he was done.  For some reason he always leaves a lot of fudge.  I make sure to not let it go to waste!

Happy with my Sundae!

After eating our Sundaes I was ready for bed.  But first we had to find Sophia…oh wait, there she is:

I'm hiding

The little monkey was laying under the bed! I think she was on the same page as me: ready for bed!

Dad and Soph

 Weekend Plans:

This weekend we have Andy’s little niece’s Baptism.  Little Claire is so cute, I can’t wait to spend some time with her and Andy’s family.  Other than the baptism we have no other big plans except for the usual errands, cleaning and relaxing.  Pizza Friday will be taking place tonight (of course)! Happy Friday!


Are you a member of the Clean Plate Club?  I don’t always clean my plate with my meals but desserts are usually licked clean!

Strength Training: Giant Sets

I think I’ve tried every form of strength training out there since I began exercising regularly nearly a decade ago.

I began by tossing around some dinky 3-5lb weights when I first dabbled in strength training when I was 17 and 18 years old.  I did the typical moves that targeted the areas I wanted to “tone” such as tricep kickbacks and bicep curls.

Later I found out that if I really wanted to “tone” I’d have to really challenge myself and lift heavier weights to build muscle.  Enter the years of wanting to do a Figure Competition.   I became obsessed with only lifting heavy and thought this was THE way to exercise.


But after complete burnout from that phase in my life, I realized that there are many ways to strength train.  You don’t always have to be lifting at your max and higher reps do have there place and are in fact helpful.  Really, it comes down to your own goals and what you want to accomplish. 

Currently I don’t lift my heaviest in the gym.  For the past few years I’ve been maintaining my level of strength and endurance with a mix of moderate weight lifting and cardiovascular exercise 5-6 days a week.  My goal right now is to maintain my current level of fitness.  It could change and that spark may ignite and I’ll want to start heavy dead lifting and squatting.  But at the moment, I’m content with my current schedule.

Giant Sets

One of the ways I like to incorporate strength training is to do Giant Sets.  A giant set is choosing 4 or more exercises to do back to back with no rest in between the exercises.  It’s like circuit training, moving quickly from one exercise to the next, with the only real difference being that it’s all strength moves.  Circuit training can involve bursts of cardio.

I teach a Total Body Toning class at work and last week I put my class through this Giant Set Workout:

Equipment needed: Dumbbells or barbell and a mat

Group 1: 2 sets:

Group 2: 2 sets:

Group 3: 2 sets:

Group 4: 2 sets:

Group 5: 1 set:

This particular workout takes about an hour with a warm up and cool down.  I run them through each set two times before moving on to the next set. I kept the reps higher and included some exercises to do based on time (1 minute).  It’s just another way to mix it up when strength training!

I like doing giant set workouts because it keeps you moving and even adds a cardio aspect from having to go through each movement back to back and doing higher reps.   It’s a great addition to any strength program and a nice way to mix things up from doing straight sets.  Check out my previous post on giant sets to see another workout!

Plan Healthy Weight Update

Since last week my body has fallen back into it’s healthy range! I think a lot of it was post-vacation bloat and so those few pounds went away just from cutting out the high calorie food I was eating at the beach and returning to my normal eating patterns (Which translates to less seafood bisque and chips and beer on the beach and more fresh fruits and vegetables 😉 )

Less of these...

And more of these!


This increase in weight taught me how important it is to NOT beat yourself up about it and to take steps in the right direction to eat better and more mindfully.  I believe when you treat your body with respect your body will fall where it’s supposed to naturally.

Question of the Day:

What is your favorite way to incorporate strength training into your routine? I love super sets, tri-sets and giant sets…basically anything that keeps me moving!

The Best Core Exercises

I used to absolutely hate training my core area (abdominal muscles, hips, and the back).  I just didn’t think it was all that necessary since I work all my other muscle groups throughout the week and I often think “well, my core must get some work because of it”.

Ab workout? Nah, no thanks!


However, the more I learn about fitness through experience at work or through researching on my own, the more I realize that core training is in fact very beneficial to any workout program.

The benefits I’ve noticed personally are less tightness in my hips (actually, tightness is not much of an issue lately!) and no more IT band pain while running. Also, I’ve experienced less low back pain in general, which I sometimes get when I get lazy with stretching and doing my core workouts.

Some other benefits of core training include:

  • Better posture
  • More control
  • Improved, more powerful performance
  • Injury prevention and rehabilitation
  • Increased protection and “bracing” for your back
  • A more stable center of gravity
  • A more stable platform for sports movements


My Core Training

I don’t have a specific schedule for core training, but with the classes I teach I tend to work my core area specifically about 3-4 times per week.  I teach a Mat Pilates class once per week and the entire class is dedicated to core training.  I also include core exercises in my Cardio Pilates classes, where half of the class is dedicated to core training.  Today I wanted to share with you some of my favorite moves that target the core.  

Here are the best core exercises (in my opinion of course!):


Swiss Ball/Stability Ball Exercises

Supine Position


Do you regularly train your core muscles? If so, what are  your favorite exercises?

P.S.  I love how I wrote my post on “Tips for Running with Dogs” because this morning at 5:45AM while getting ready for our 2-mile run, Boo and Sophia saw a bunny and at the moment I didn’t have a tight grasp on their leashes…and yep, they got away and went running down the street!

I swear, it was all Sophia's idea!

Who me?

Boo makes this crazy screaming sound when he sees small animals, so I’m sure the neighbors appreciated that.  I did get them back easily, but wow, did that wake me up!  Lesson learned: Have a FIRM grasp on their leashes  from the start!

Well, I’m off to North Carolina tonight for the long weekend!! Have a wonderful Memorial Day! 🙂

Outdoor Cardio Workout

I’ve been extremely busy at work these days and it has left little time for blogging, unfortunately.  I am the contest director of a weight management program at work and I’ve been gearing up for a big rewards luncheon that is this afternoon.  I’m excited for it, yet happy that it will be over today so I can enjoy my weekend as I have some fun plans!

I’m heading home to Cincinnati for a weekend of celebration.  It’s my friend Kelly’s bachelorette party on Friday!  I’ve known Kelly since we were 12.  Time certainly flies, I can’t believe my friends are starting to get married!!! I still feel 12 half the time 😉

Kelly, Kelly (the bride-to-be) and me Halloween 2009

We are taking a party bus to downtown Cincinnati Friday night and I can’t wait!  I’m ready to celebrate with my friends and have a good time dancing, drinking, and laughing the night away! Until then though, I need to focus on my event today!  Luckily I came in early to work so I’ll be out of here by 2:30PM and on the road to Cincinnati right after.

Although I am looking forward to this fun weekend, I’ll certainly be missing Andy and the pups and I told them not to eat too much pizza or Dairy Queen blizzards without me!

Miss Sophia


Andy and I

 Miss em’ already!

Outdoor Cardio Workout

Before I get back to planning my little heart out, I wanted to share a workout I took one of my classes through.  It was really nice out yesterday, so we did a workout outside, which is a nice change.

Warm up:

  • 1 mile walk or jog (we have an outside track)

Cardio Circuit:

  • Walking with knee raises (alternating knees).  We did approximately 40 steps walking down a stretch of pavement and then walked back.
  • Jumping Jacks: At the end of one set of knee raises, do 30 Jumping Jacks, then walk back with knee raises and complete 30 more jumping jacks.
  • Walking with Alternating Front Kicks: Approximately 40 walking down and then another set walking back.
  • 30 Body Weight Squats or Squat Jumps:  Do these at the end of the front kicks, so 2x as you go down and back.

Weight Circuit

  • Walking Lunges with weights: Approximately 30 reps (15 each leg), 2 sets.
  • Alternating Shoulder Press: At the end of the lunges, do 30 alternating shoulder presses (15 each arm).  Lunge back and do another set of shoulder presses.
  • 15 Wide Squats with Upright Rows super set with 30 alternating Bicep Curls: 1 set
  • In a Plank (push up position): 30 Alternating rows (15 each arm): 1 set
  • In a Side Plank: Add a knee tuck by bringing your bottom knee towards chest and down, 15 reps.  Repeat on other side: 1 set


  • 1 mile walk or jog to finish out the workout

Stretch:5 minutes

  • Quad stretch
  • Hamstring stretch
  • IT band stretch
  • Hip Flexor stretch
  • Glute stretch
  • Shoulder and back stretches

If you ran, this workout took about 45 minutes.  For walking, it took closer to an hour.  Those who walked did about 1/2 mile at the end instead of a full mile due to time constraints.


Do you like to workout outdoors? If so, what is your favorite thing to do? Running is definitely my favorite!

Vitamins and Rest Days

Good Morning!

I hope you had a great weekend.  I really didn’t do much, but I’m always a big fan of weekends like that! I spent time relaxing with Andy, watching movies, eating (I had two Dairy Queen blizzards this weekend!), and getting some errands done.  All and all, a good weekend!  Now, it’s back to the grind!


Today’s workout was a mix of cardio and weights.  Ever since I saw Elizabeth Hasselback’s workout, I’ve been wanting to get more creative with my own exercise routine.

Unfortunately, time for my own workouts is limited due to my teaching schedule at work, but I can make due! Tuesdays and Thursdays are when I take about an hour for myself to exercise before or after work.  I only teach one class on these days (and both days are non-cardio classes), so it makes it easier to do my own thing.

Last week’s workout looked like this.  Today’s workout included the following:

Cardio and Stretching:

  • Stretched Legs: 15 minutes (See this site for stretching ideas for hips/legs stretches.  Great for runners!)
  • 1.5 mile run: 15 minutes, speed varying from 5.5-8.0 MPH

Weight Circuit #1, repeated 2x

  • Pull Ups: 10 reps
  • Push Ups: 10, on toes
  • Kettle bell one-leg dead lift: 10 reps on each leg


  • AMT, level 4: 5 minutes

Weight Circuit #2, repeated 2x

  • See Saw Shoulder Press: 15 each arm
  • Two arm row for upper back (machine): 10 reps
  • Walking Lunges with Overhead Shoulder lift (holding a medicine ball): 20 reps

This workout took 55 minutes (including my 15 minutes of stretching).  The workout was nice, but I was a bit tired today.  I see a good couple of days of rest from exercise in my future! Plus, I need new running shoes, I can tell that mine are quite worn.

Rest Days

What I’ve come to realize about exercise is that not every day is going to be the best workout. That’s why it’s important to listen to your body, especially when you feel more tired than usual.

Sure, there will be some days when you just feel like being lazy and not working out (and that’s ok!), but other times it’s a different kind of tired.  A tired where your body could benefit from some good rest.  I will most likely take the weekend off, depending on how I feel the rest of the week.  I most always take at least one day off though.

How often do you take rest days?

Vitamins and Supplements

Andy and I stocked up on some vitamins and supplements this weekend.  I take my vitamins and supplements pretty much every day.  I rarely forget.  It’s become a habit of mine, like eating breakfast (which I also rarely forget! My stomach won’t let me 😉 )

I honestly do feel better when I take my vitamins regularly.  Now, my feeling good could be from a number of things, such as getting enough sleep (I almost always get 8 hours), eating nutritious foods, and exercise.  But I also feel like the vitamins do play a role.

Here are the vitamins and supplements I take daily:

  • Multivitamin, I use a brand called Alive by Nature’s Made


  • Vitamin D, 1,000 I.U (I use a generic brand of this right now, but I’ve also used these gummies by Rainbow Light, which are fun!)
  • Fish Oil, at least 1,000g of EPA/DHA combined, which is 3 capsules in the brand that I use, which is Barleans.  I love this brand!


Occasionally I take a greens supplement. Andy and I just stocked up on Amazing Grass this past weekend.  I love the chocolate flavor.  It’s not sweet by any means, more of a natural cocoa flavor, but I enjoy it. I drink it with water or I’ve mixed it in yogurt.

Amazing Grass

Alright, time to get to work! Have a great day everyone!


Do you take any vitamins or supplements daily? If so, what kind?

Non-fitness related question: Did you watch the Bachelor? What did you think of his choice? I was all for Emily, but I’m second guessing the chemistry they have…but I wish them the best! I see Ashely is the new bachelorette though! I think that’s a great choice!

Ashley the new Bachelorette!

Workout + Odd Quirks

Good Morning!

After seeing Elizabeth Hasselback’s workout yesterday, I tried my hand at quarter mile sprints.

ready, set, go!

Now, Elizabeth did 6 sprints at a 10.5 mile pace.  I am no where near sprinting at that pace, so I definitely had to take it down a notch. And to be honest, I did not make it the whole quarter of a mile on the last two! It was very tough to keep it up for the duration.  Now this gives me something to work towards, which I love.

I  was unsure of how long her rest breaks were, so I just did a rest period of 1 minute.  For the rest I  jumped to the sides of the treadmill then walked slowly at a 3.0 pace for the remainder of the minute.

My treadmill sprint workout looked like this:

Warm up: 0.25 miles at 5.2mph (about 3 minutes)

  • Sprint 1: 0.25 miles 8.0 mph
  • Rest: 1 minute
  • Sprint 2: 0.25 miles 8.5 mph
  • Rest: 1 minute
  • Sprint 3: 0.25 miles 9.0 mph
  • Rest: 1 minute
  • Sprint 4: 0.25 miles at 9.0 mph
  • Rest: 1 minute
  • Sprint 5: 0.20 miles at 9.5mph
  • Rest: 1 minute
  • Sprint 6: 0.15 miles at 9.5 mph

This took about 20 minutes with a warm up and cool down and I covered right around 2 miles. After the treadmill, I hopped on the AMT for another 5 minutes.

I followed up my cardio with a few weight exercises to round out my morning workout:

  • Assisted Pull Ups: 3 sets of 8-10
  • Push Ups (on my toes): 3 sets of 10
  • Stiff Leg Deadlifts: 2 sets of 15
  • Walking Lunges with medicine ball: 1 set, 24 reps

I have about 50 minutes in the morning to workout, so with stretching before I run (about 15 minutes), this workout took about 35 minutes total.  Not bad!

However, I think I’m going to work on a new program for myself, I need more challenging workouts Elizabeth’s workout style has inspired me to kick it up a notch with my intensity and to try out new exercises.  I’ll let ya know what I come up with!

Odd Quirks

On my morning drives on Tuesdays and Thursdays I listen to “Elvis Duran in the Morning”.  I love the dynamic between all the hosts and find it very entertaining.  It’s nice to start my day off with some humor!

One of this morning’s topics was ‘odd quirks’ that people have, such as not stepping on cracks, only liking even numbered things, obsessively sanitizing their hands, taking their shoes off a certain way, etc.

Why, yes it does bother me!

Are you and obsessive hand washer?

This made me think if I had any habits that would be considered an ‘odd quirk’. Truth be told, I am quite an odd ball sometimes!

Here is what I came up with:

  • At night when I set my alarm clock I check it at least 5 + times to make sure I set the right time that I have to wake up.  I never seem to believe that I have it set right. I check it over and over and over…I’m special.
  • When I come home from work one of the first things I do is make sure the blankets in my dog’s crates are neatly laid out (even though they always mess it up each day to their liking). I can’t relax until the blankets look nice!
  • Also when I come home from work I straighten up anything that is on the counter.  I like things to look nice and neat at all times.  I sometimes even make the dirty dishes in the sink look presentable! I am also notorious for straightening things at work so that the counters look ‘just right’.

I’m sure there are plenty more but these are the few I can think of at the moment! Most of mine are my obsession with things looking neat and presentable.  I get this from my father…thanks dad! 😉

"Everything in it's place and a place for everything" as my dad puts it!


Do you have any odd quirks?