Abs Around the Holidays

The holidays. A stressful time of year. Hosting family get togethers, your in-laws are in town, mass amounts of cooking and cleaning and making sure your diet is six pack abs friendly and your workouts are on point and perfect - wait...what? No. Let’s back up. I would like to tell you that obtaining or keeping a six pack (of abs, not beer) is “simple with these steps:”. However, that would be a lie.

It is normal for people to get a little bit stressed about their eating habits around the holidays. Why? The answer is simple. DESSERT. CARBS. ALCOHOL. Need I say more? How can you resist the temptation? DON’T. The holidays are supposed to be for family, crazy schedules and treating yourself. However, if you are someone who gets stressed about those extra calories around the holidays, do not worry. If you plan ahead (check out blog post: Do You Have a Plan?), it will take the stress off when you’ve been eyeing that cookie all night and just want to indulge on some holiday treats.

I have found that a few days after eating sugar and indulging on Thanksgiving, I am bloated and maybe a little more tired. That is normal. After deviating from your normal eating habits, your body needs some extra nutrients and extra attention the following days. Now, I know it is easy to say “maybe I will get back into it after New Years”, but why? You want to approach Christmas and New Years feeling GOOD about yourself, making sure your body is being fed what it needs to function at its optimal level. Of course, you’re still enjoying your time with family and friends, but using the time between events and holidays to give yourself some attention.

What should you do? Well, everyone is different, but here are a few tips and things to remember during and between the holidays so you can be stress free around food and crazy workout schedules.

1. Drink PLENTY Of Water

Listen, I know it is hard to drink a lot of water during the day. Trust me I have been there. However, ever since I started drinking about 2-3 liters per day, my body has felt great. I eat less, just from feeling full, my skin looks clearer, I don’t bloat as much and I even feel more energized. Although it is important to always make sure you are drinking your water, pay extra attention during the holidays. You will start to feel a LOT better about yourself overall and it will help flush out toxins and anything your body is trying to reject.

2. Eat Your Greens

Eat those green veggies! They help with digestion and give your body so many of the nutrients that it needs to function. Just as I don’t want you to try and completely resist the urge to enjoy those treats, you also should not neglect those vegetables. Pick a few that you like and figure out a few ways to incorporate them into your daily meals! As always, if you need some ideas, I am here to help.

3. The Gym Is Not Going Anywhere

If you don’t workout everyday and stick to your schedule, the gym will grow legs and disappear! WRONG. You’re busy- that is OKAY! Your gym and exercise regime is not going anywhere. It is okay to enjoy yourself or let your body relax- it will always be there. Now take a breath. If you want to incorporate some exercising during the holidays and need some quick, at home workouts, head over and read our blog ‘Workouts For Home Or Hotel’ and make sure to keep your eyes open for our ‘25 Days Of Abs’ starting December 1st.

4. Creating Memories

Always remember, you are creating memories. Do you want to remember a holiday feeling stressed about food and working out? I can probably assume the answer is no. You want to look back and remember eating, drinking, laughing and enjoying your time with friends and family. You don’t have to overindulge to enjoy yourself, but you don’t have to restrict yourself either.

I hope these tips will help you to feel a little less stressed and a little more excited about the holidays. Enjoy yourself and stay safe! Happy Holidays everyone!

 

Love,

The Abs Company

 


Exercise Your Mental Clarity

As you read in the last post "How Healthy do you Vacation?", you will notice how exercising doesn’t always mean training JUST your biceps or glutes with videos you found scrolling through Instagram. You also must exercise your brain. As any training does, training your mind to relax and work in a way that is best for your health takes practice and consistency. Meditation does not sound appealing to everyone. Many don’t know where to start or how to get their mind into a steady state. Don’t worry, I have a few tips, tricks and steps you can follow to become more comfortable with being in your own mind.

If you read our last blog, I mentioned the app Headspace. Again, this is a great tool for beginners, or even people who like to be walked through a meditation flow. People can benefit from meditation in a variety of ways. Whatever you want to accomplish from meditation, set that as your “why”, similar to having a “why” for your fitness goals. Having this in mind can trigger your body to recognize these as needs when in a steady and relaxed state. It is crazy how powerful the mind can be! Here are some steps to start you down your path to a sound mind:

  1. Put your phone on airplane mode (except for the timer) and get away from distractions.
  2. Sit Indian style on the floor or just on the edge or your bed, with your hands on your legs and feet flat on the floor, picking up how they feel on ground.
  3. Close your eyes and take a long deep inhale through your nose for a count of 5 seconds, and then exhale through your mouth for a count of 10 seconds.
  4. After you get the rhythm, stop counting and just let it naturally happen.
  5. FOCUS on the breath when you close your eyes. Imagine your belly expanding and deflating.
  6. Thoughts are likely going to float into your mind - about anything (i.e. I don’t know how I’m going to fit in my workout today or I still need to go grocery shopping) It’s completely normal. Let it happen. Think of these thoughts as a cloud in your mind and recognize that it's there, but don't react. Refocus your attention to the breath again - stay unwavering with it.
  7. Once the mediation time has expired, say out loud ONE thing you're immensely grateful for... it can be anything.

Try meditating at least once a day. You can test out which time of day is the most relaxing or easiest time to get into your own head. Throughout the day, be conscious of your emotional and mental state and how you react to situations. Over time, you will probably discover how less reactive you are in less than ideal situations in your personal and/or business life. If you would like, keep a journal and note the changes you see. You may surprise yourself more than you expect! 


Workouts for Home and Hotel

As you read in my previous blog ‘Taking A Vacation", you understand the importance of recognizing what your body needs to feel good. Whether it is taking a break physically AND emotionally, or one of the two, it is important to listen to your body and unwind from time to time.

If you are like me and like to get in a workout while on vacation, or at home, here are 3 circuit workouts you can do. If you have a gym available, add weights to increase intensity! Also, feel free to add anything you would like. Make it fun!

Circuit 1: Repeat all 4 Exercises 10 times!

EXERCISE REPS
Burpees 10-15
Jump squats 10-15
Pushups Until failure
Mountain climbers 20

 

Circuit 2: Repeat all 7 Exercises 4 times!

If your vacation spot isn’t lucky enough to have The Abs Company equipment to use to target your abs and get a quick functional training circuit in, no fear! Here is a great ab workout that you don’t need any equipment for. If you do have access to equipment (i.e roman chair) or weights, feel free to add in some extra sets and variations!

EXERCISE REPS
Flutter Kicks 20 seconds
Six Inches Hold for 20 seconds
Bicycles 20 reps
Butt Kicks 60 seconds
Russian Twists 20 seconds
Reverse Crunches 20 reps
Mountain Climbers 20 seconds

 

Circuit 3: 5 exercises, 5 rotations- Approximately 15-20 Minutes of work.

Take 60 seconds to rest after completing all 5 exercises, and then repeat 5 times!

EXERCISE REPS
Forward Alternating Lunges 10 Reps on Each leg
Burpees 10 reps
High Knees 30 Seconds
Air Squats 15 Reps
Mountain Climbers 30 Seconds

Depending on your goals, you might want to add weight or just stick to bodyweight exercises. Always make sure you are paying attention to form and knowing how the movement is supposed to work to avoid injury.


How "healthy" do you vacation?

Ahh, vacation. It is so nice to be able to kick back, relax and enjoy time either to yourself or with friends and family. Health is not about intense exercises and strict nutrition, it is about your thoughts and feelings as well. It is important to give yourself balance in all areas of physical and mental health by paying attention to how you are feeling and what your body and mind need. 

Some people take vacation as a time to not think about exercise or strict nutrition, and that is OKAY! However, others like to stay on a semi routine which could include: occasional ab exercises, circuit training, HIIT workouts or cardio, while also keeping healthy eating options in mind. That is also, OKAY! Everyone’s version of a vacation is different.

To me, working out is relaxing. It is where I clear my mind. On vacation, I use exercise to feel refreshed - NOT because I am stressing, thinking about my fitness goals or trying to stay on my exercise split. It is important to know the difference between wanting to work out to feel good and working out because you feel you “have to” or because you are afraid you will gain weight or lose muscle if you relax for a few days (which isn’t going to happen). Just as it takes time and effort to lose that weight or put on that muscle, it also takes time to put that weight back on and/or lose muscle- a few days will not hinder your progress.  If you are used to traveling, you might have your routine and habits down pat. However, for those who don’t - for those who want to switch up their vacation routine/habits. For those who travel, even for work, and find it difficult to keep their overall health in mind. Or for those who simply just need a little vacation/travel guidance. This one's for you!

1. Plan, Know The Scene

If you haven’t already read our previous blog post, ‘insert Planning blog title here’, you should head over and give that a read. You will see that I am a HUGE advocate for planning out your goals and how you are going to reach those goals. During your travels, your goal may be to workout every morning, keeping them quick to maximize your time on vacation or to fit it in between meetings. The first thing you want to do is check out where you will be staying prior to arrival. Is there an exercise facility available? If not, is there a beach, outside trail or sidewalk around to use for a light jog? (If so, make sure it is a safe area.) If both are a no, no need to worry - check out my blog next week for some great in-room workouts. 

2. Meditation - Exercising Your Mental Clarity 

Exercise is great, but if you are on vacation and want to focus on relaxing and gaining more mental clarity, then spending 5-10 minutes on mindful meditation is for you. Just as you exercise different muscle groups to improve your physical health, you also need to exercise your mind to increase and improve mental clarity. If you are new to meditation, there are many apps, such as Headspace, that walk you through the first few times. This is a practice that you can start on vacation and bring back into your daily routine. It is about consistency, as most things are. I would start with practicing AT LEAST once a day. Try doing it when you first wake up in the morning, before a meal and before bed. Find out when your body responds best. My friend and fellow blogger (‘What Does Your Gut Tell You?’), Karissa (@karisslee_), gave me some meditation tips when I first started meditation and they have helped me tremendously. Find our best meditation tips in a my article "Exercise your Mental Clarity".

3. Nutrition - Enjoyed Balance

This aspect of vacation seems to be the hardest for me. Personally, I like to keep nutrition in mind while on vacation. Not everyone does and that is fine, a few days of eating whatever you want and enjoying yourself is good ‘soul food’. For me however, some foods will disrupt my digestive system, so I know that my body feels its best when I, AT LEAST, have my dietary needs in mind when eating outside of my ‘normal’.  It’s all about balance and control (i.e having just 1 ice cream, not 3 or choosing the grilled chicken over the breaded chicken). If you stress about nutrition while on vacation, I suggest just having an idea of how your body reacts to different foods. You can then let loose, while still knowing your body and can feel good about enjoying your meals (and dessert, duh).

The most frequent nutrition-based questions I get asked when talking about vacation is ALCOHOL. All I have to say is, enjoy. You are on vacation. You are supposed to have fun and relax. Of course, dealing with alcohol can be risky. However, please remember this very important word: Moderation. You don’t need to go overboard. If you want to drink, but are afraid of racking up those calories or skyrocketing your sugar intake, go for drinks with less sugar (i.e gin and tonic, tequila soda, tequila water, vodka soda etc.) and keep the sugary drinks to a minimum (i.e pina colada, daiquiris, juice drinks etc.). Enjoy and be safe.

Vacation is supposed to be fun and relaxing. Don’t stress too much over working out and counting macros. As I said before, health isn’t only about going to the gym and keeping a strict diet- it is about mental and emotional health as well. There are small steps you can take to still feel like you are staying course without being restricted. Learn your body and what works for you. As always, consult a doctor before doing any exercises that may be a problem due to prior injury, condition etc. and feel free to reach out to me, Emily Carrara, for tips, tricks, workout hacks and your average dad joke. 


Do You Have a Plan?

“By Failing To Plan, You Are Planning To Fail” -B.F.

We all have fitness goals in mind that we set for ourselves. For example, some people want overall, stronger abs, while some just want a visible six pack and increased stability. It is a common misconception that the two are the same. However, that is not the truth. Maximal strength and muscle endurance, while under the same umbrella of “strength training” and Maximal Strength, being the progression from strength endurance - they require different types of training.

No matter what your goal is, whether you are weeks, months, years into your fitness/weight loss journey, or even just a few minutes, you need a plan. Without a plan, often times, people can get confused, easily distracted, and find it harder to stay on track and organized. Some people further along in their fitness journey, can also experience plateaus in their training, where they stop seeing consistent results. This is when some people lose motivation. Time to stop and plan.  

The first step to planning your action path is to decide on your GOAL. For example, If your goal is to increase strength endurance and stabilization, which is helpful for progressing core workouts (I usually do more strength endurance when I am focused on shaping and toning) here is what I suggest:

If your goal is to increase your maximal core strength, here’s what I suggest to keep in mind:

While both of these methods increase strength, both are not appropriate for everyone, depending on the goal and other factors, such as prior injuries and overall physical abilities. Two phenomenal pieces of ab equipment to make things less complicated and to allow yourself to use these layouts without the mental questions of what to do are the Ab Coaster or the Vertical Crunch. These two machines are perfect for any kind of abdominal progression and can be used in any type of training, especially, with their ability to add and take off weights. You can easily combine the two for a killer superset, and even add in some floor work in between sets, such as plank holds or mountain climbers. 

Laying out a plan and a roadmap to hit your fitness goals is one of the most important things to do to increase success and to ease your mind when you get stuck in a rut. Figure out what works for you. The best plan, the best workout and the best diet, is the one that works best for YOU!

You are more likely to succeed if you are planning ahead and doing what you know will keep you motivated and organized.