Upper Body Gym Workout

Today I’m sharing a new upper body gym workout. It’s perfect for those days when you don’t already have a plan for your workout.

Before I get to the upper body workout that I’ll be sharing with you today I wanted to share the cardio workout that I did at the gym this morning.

I spent 25 minutes on the elliptical doing some steady state cardio. For my cool down I walked the track for another 10 minutes. My knee actually felt really good today so I’m hopeful that it’s starting to get better. Apparently the lower intensity and icing has been helping.

This morning at about 5 am we had a huge thunderstorm roll through. The wind and rain woke me up and then the thunder and lightning started not long after. I tried to fall back asleep, but of course I couldn’t.

The storm was all everyone at the gym was talking about this morning. Even though I always have my ear buds in at the gym, I can hear snippets of conversations and that’s what people on the ellipticals on either side of me were talking about. The consensus was that it was a bit weird to have it happen so early in the morning when they typically happen in the evenings.

Today’s upper body strength workout is one that’s been designed for the gym because you’ll need a row machine and a lat pulldown machine. You’ll do each exercise for 12 reps and 4 sets, resting for 90 seconds between sets. I know it can sometimes be tempting to skip the rest times or shorten them, but they’re just as important as the reps and sets.

As usual I didn’t list any weights to use because that’s such an individual thing. Choose a weight that challenges you, but you can still do the last rep of the last set with perfect form. If you can’t, move down to a smaller weight. There’s absolutely no shame in that. Proper form should be your top priority with any workout. Injuries just aren’t worth it.

For more workouts check out my workouts page. They’re all listed by category so finding exactly the workout that you want is easy.

Dumbbell bench press

With a pair of dumbbells sit on a bench, and slowly lay down. Bring the dumbbells straight over your shoulders with your arms extended. Slowly bring them down to your torso and then up back to the starting position.

Row machine

Sit at a cable row machine with your feet centered on the foot platform and sitting on the bench so that you have a slight bend in your knees. Lean forward to grasp the handles of the cable and lean back to a standard sitting position. Start with your arms extended, and slowly bring them towards your abdomen, using your back muscles. Once your elbows have reached 90 degrees, extend your arms back out.

Bicep curl

Start with the feet hip width apart, and back in a neutral position. With a dumbbell in each hand, keep your elbows in close to your side and raise the dumbbell upwards. Movement should be at the elbow, not the wrist. Lower the dumbbell with a controlled movement, not allowing gravity to take over.

Overhead press

Stand with your feet hip width apart with a dumbbell in each hand. With your upper arms in a 90 degree angle to your torso and your hands directly above your elbows, lift your hands straight up so that your arms are straight above your head. Slowly lower your hands back down to the starting position. 

Lat pulldown

Sitting at a lat pulldown, adjust the leg pads to make sure it’s at the appropriate height. Stand up to grasp the bar with both hands and then sit back down, sliding your legs under the leg pads. Start with your arms fully extended and leaning back just slightly. Bring your hands down to your collar bone slowly and then extend them back out to the starting position.

Do you have any workouts that you’d like to me create to share on the blog? Leave me a comment below and I’ll try to make that happen.

Always talk to your doctor before beginning to workout. Honor your body and modify this workout as needed for you.

How to Stay on Track Over the Summer

Today I’m sharing 5 tips for how to stay on track over the summer. It’s so easy to enjoy vacations and summer treats, but that doesn’t mean that your healthy lifestyle has to suffer.

Routine

I know it can sometimes be tough to keep a routine going throughout the summer when schedules change and kids are out of school if you have school aged kids. Create a summer routine if your kids are out of school.

Whether it’s staying the same of changing, knowing what to expect throughout the week can really help when it comes to making healthy decisions when it comes to food and physical activity.

Knowing that you’ll head to the gym first thing in the morning (even if “first thing in the morning” is later during the summer months than it is during the rest of the year) gives you a good start to the day.

One last point about trying to maintain as much routine as possible is that you already have your healthy habits in place. Even if you’re on vacation you can still start off your day at the hotel gym. Just because it’s summertime doesn’t mean that all of your healthy habits have to go out the window.

Keep your goals in mind

Knowing that I have goals tend to give me something to work towards, as well as focus and motivation. If I’m wanting to lose 10 pounds, I’ll order the fries as a side once or twice instead of every single time and instead opt for a salad.

I find that I make healthier decisions when I remember that I’m working for something. Making the decision to workout when I’m on vacation can be tough if I look at it from the point of view of one workout, but when I remember that I’m training for a 10K or want to improve me cardiovascular endurance, that decision to workout becomes a lot easier to make. It’s definitely a mindset thing, but it makes all the difference in my decision making.

Interested in learning more about goals? I wrote about how to set fitness goals and why setting fitness goals are so important. Both are worth a read if you want to set yourself up for success when it comes to goal setting.

Follow the 80/20 rule

If you don’t allow yourself to enjoy the summer with all the vacations, cook outs, and fun stuff that goes with it, life won’t be very much fun. Don’t deny yourself all the summer time treats and memories – just be mindful of them.

Vancouver Beach

Enjoy that ice cream cone at the beach, but don’t eat one daily. Partake in the hot dog at the barbecue, just not 3 or 4 times per week. Balance your treats with vegetables, your skipped gym sessions with hikes with the family while on vacation.

You want to make sure that you enjoy the summer, but not let it be an excuse for making unhealthy decisions. I find that when I’m making a majority of healthy options most of the time, then I’m able to enjoy the treats more.

Be active

Summer is the perfect time to take advantage of the warm weather and pretty scenery and take your workout outdoors. Walking, biking, swimming, and hiking can all be great workouts. They can even be done with friends and family too so you can spend that time together. In addition, all those things can generally also be done when you’re on vacation too. Plan those activities into your days when you’re travelling and it won’t be a chore to get a workout in.

Calgary get so few months of nice weather where you can be outside without a ton of clothes, so I always try to take advantage of the summer months as much as possible.

Meal plan

Having the ingredients for meals in the pantry and fridge that I know I can make keeps me from going out to eat or ordering delivery on those summer nights when I don’t know what to make for dinner.

Instead of meal planning for 6 dinners for the week, you might only need to do 4 to account for barbecues and fun nights out. Even if you’re eating away from home more often during the summer, that doesn’t mean that you have to throw out meal planning all together. When you’re at home you’ll want to continue with the healthy meals.

I know that meals tend to be a bit more laid back during the summer in our family, so do what works for you. Taking a bit of time on Sunday (or really whatever day works for your) to take a look at your schedule and plan meals and ingredients always pays off. I feel more organized and I’m not trying to figure out at the last minute what to make for dinner when I’m already hungry.

For more on meal planning, I wrote about the benefits of meal planning and how I simplify meal planning. I share tips and tricks in both and are a good primer if you’re just starting out with planning your meals.

What’s a tip of yours for staying in track over the summer? Share it in the comments below.

Weekend Highlights: Date Night + Father’s Day

It’s Monday fun day! I had one of the students at the yoga studio tell me that today and I liked it. Usually Monday is something that people dread and complain about, but sometimes you just have to embrace Monday’s and see it as a clean slate to get all the things done this week.

Today I’m sharing a recap of the highlights of my weekend, which include date night on Saturday and a Father’s Day lunch with my dad and brother yesterday. It turned out to be a pretty fun weekend.

I started off my weekend on Saturday morning with a piece of cinnamon bread from Cob’s Bread. They had a mini load of cinnamon bread that I thought looked interesting, so I decided to try it and I’m so glad that I did. It was delicious. If you have a Cob’s near you, consider getting some the next time you’re there. I toasted it and added some butter and it was perfect.

Saturday afternoon I headed over to my boyfriend’s place to go on their afternoon walk with them. It was raining for the first half of the walk and Winston wasn’t happy about it.

We had planned to go to the dog park again, but about half way there we decided to take shelter at an overhang at the central library and wait out the rain. Apparently a lot of other people had the same idea because the steps were a popular spot. Winston loved watching everyone and keep an eye on what they were doing. He also tried to be sneaky and steal my umbrella by slowly moving closer and close to it until he had his chin on the handle of it and he tried to bite it. Winston definitely isn’t very stealthy.

Once the rain stopped we decided to just head back to my boyfriend’s place. In the space of three blocks Winston got complimented three times that he was a beautiful dog with his brindle on his back. My boyfriend and I also got told by one of those people that we looked good together too and he could tell that we would be together a long time if we’re patient with each other.

We stopped by a consignment store a couple blocks away from my boyfriend’s condo so I could have a quick look around. They had a sign on the window that they were a dog friendly store, so they stayed by the door while I did a really quick browse. I’ll have to go back soon when I don’t have a puppy and boyfriend in tow because there were a lot of cute things in there.

Once we had dropped off Winston, my boyfriend and I decided to walk along 17th Ave (there’s a ton of restaurants and pubs along there) and find somewhere to have dinner. We ended up at Pin Bar again – we had eaten there a few weeks ago.

Once again the food was delicious. I went with the California club sandwich. It had turkey, chicken, ham, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and avocado on it and was just as delicious as it sounds. I ended up abandoning the bun half way through eating it and just going for the good stuff inside the sandwich. When you know you won’t be able to finish it you have to prioritize!

We spent the rest of the night watching Netflix. We watched a comedy special and Jurassic Park 2. It’s been years and years since I had seen Jurassic Park 2 and the only thing that I remembered about it was when the trailer falls off the cliff and they somehow all manage to survive by holding onto a rope. It was just as ridiculous 20 years later.

My boyfriend was nice enough to share the last of his french toast and candied bacon with me. We found it last weekend and decided to try it. It works surprisingly well as ice cream. We never should have doubted it in the first place because it’s from Made by Marcus and they always have delicious ice cream.

I spent most of Sunday with my dad and brother to celebrate Father’s Day. My dad decided that he wanted to go to Half Hitch Brewing out in Cochrane for his meal, so that’s where we went. My brother and dad had been there before but I hadn’t, so I was happy to check out a new place to eat.

My dad and I shared a beer flight. From left to right they were an apple cider, a strawberry infused IPA, a pineapple beer, and an apricot sour. The cider and apricot sour were my two favorites. The cider was on the drier side which was a nice surprise. We actually tried to buy a growler of it to take home but unfortunately their growlers were on back order.

I ordered their pulled pork sandwich which came with apple cole slaw on a pretzel bun. It was delicious and my only complaint about the food was that they put so much in the sandwich that it was hard and messy to eat. The service wasn’t great but the food beer was really good, so I think I’ll be back. If you spent Father’s Day with your dad how did you celebrate?

What was the highlight of your weekend? Tell me about it in the comments below.

30 Day Meditation Challenge: The First 15 Days

Today I’ll be recapping how the first half of my 30 day meditation challenge has been going so far. Spoiler: it’s been great so far.

I started off the challenge by doing two yoga nidras on June 1st and 2nd. The first one was at the Yoga Shala as part of an open house. There were a ton of people there, which was great to see for a nidra class.

I took the other yoga nidra class at Yoga in Bowness on June 2nd. I hadn’t been to that class before but I really enjoyed it. I talked to the teacher after class because her nidra really reminded me of one of my teachers from yoga teacher training. She said that she’s really good friends with the instructor I had and she was flattered that her nidra class made me think of her.

The rest of my meditations so far have been using the Headspace app. I’ve written about it here in case you’re not familiar about it. I really like it, and it works with my type A non-woo woo personality. I never thought that I would have been someone who would meditate regularly.

So far I’ve only missed one day. I had gotten home late from an event after work and I ended up going to bed and forgetting to do my meditation. Since then I’ve enabled the notifications on Headspace, so I’ve been getting reminders to meditate at 8 pm. Hopefully I won’t forget again before the challenge is over.

I really like the habit I’ve gotten into of meditating before bed. It’s tough for me to small asleep some nights because It’s tough to shut off my brain – I think about what I have on my to do list for tomorrow, my schedule, and if I’m forgetting anything for the morning.

Meditation gives me a way to stop that constant stream of thoughts and allow myself to relax before falling asleep. If you have trouble falling asleep at night too you’ll know what I mean.

I’ll be posting again at the end of the month to share how the rest of the challenge went.

Weekly Workouts + Meals: Cardio edition

It’s Saturday so that means that I’m sharing a round of up of my workouts and meals from the past week.

Sunday

I started off my week at the gym for a cardio workout on the elliptical on Sunday. I spent 20 minutes on the elliptical followed by a 10 minute cool down walking the track.

The gym was quiet so it was a nice surprise. Whenever I see people post about an empty gym on social media I’m always jealous because my gym usually has a ton of people at it.

Monday

Since I worked early at Yoga in Bowness, I took a class while I was there. It was a great flow class that left me a sweaty mess. We did quite a few balancing poses. They’re ones I struggle with because my balance isn’t great when the plantar fasciitis in my feet is acting up.

Surprisingly I ended up feeling pretty steady in warrior III and I didn’t even use blocks once I got myself into the pose. It’s those small victories that make having a consistent yoga practice worth it.

Tuesday

I was back at the gym on Tuesday for another cardio session. My knee still isn’t feeling 100% so I once again opted for a quick cardio session on the elliptical.

Wednesday

I got in another 30 minute workout while I was at the gym on Wednesday. I spent 20 minutes doing some steady state cardio on the elliptical followed by a cool down on the track afterwards.

Thursday

I decided to take a rest day on Thursday this week instead of my usual Friday.

Friday

I was right back at it on Friday morning when I went to the gym before work. I spent 25 minutes on the elliptical and then another 5 minutes on the track for a really quick cool down.

Saturday

This morning I got to the gym right when it opened to get my workout done for the day.

I did an identical workout to Friday’s. I listened to a podcast so I was pretty absorbed in that while I was doing my workout so it ended up flying by, so that was a nice surprise.

I definitely didn’t get in as much yoga as I would have liked, but overall it wasn’t a bad week of workouts. I usually go to yoga on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, but I had other events planned for those nights.

As you’ll nice as I share my meals this week, I was all about using the barbecue to cook this week. I think just about everything tastes better when it’s grilled. Because the length of time that we can use the barbecue is so short here in Calgary, you need to take advantage to nice weather while you can.

I decided to go bunless when I made this barbecued burger for dinner. I topped my burger with a pickle, ketchup, and mustard. I paired it with a side salad that was really tasty.

I had dinner with my dad and brother one night. We decided to order from Big T’s on Skip the Dishes since my dad was craving barbecue. I went with a barbecued chicken sandwich and a salad. It was really good – in large part because of the barbecue sauce they used – it wasn’t too sweet like a lot of barbecue sauces can be. I tried a bite of the cornbread that my brother got with his meal and it was so good! I think I’ll have to get that for my side the next time we get food at Big T’s.

Later on in the week I barbecued some cheddar smokies. They turned out delicious as usual. They’re super easy to make too, so I always like that.

To round out the meal I paired the smokie with a piece of cheddar cheese and an Asian inspired salad. It turned out to be a better meal that I was expecting.

I was feeling exceptionally lazy one lunch time, so I came up with this combo: lunch meat, salad, cheese, and guacamole. It was once again super easy to make and ended up being pretty tasty. It’s hard to go wrong with any meal that includes guacamole.

I have a question for all of you. I’m trying to incorporate more protein into my diet, and I’m having a tough time coming up for ideas that aren’t also full of fat. If you have any ideas for me please leave them in the comments below!