Lift Weights Faster. But How?

If you do a lot of reading about strength training, or are familiar with the female strength and conditioning world, you’ve probably heard Jen Sinkler‘s famous line. When asked how she works out, her reply was “I lift weights”. Well what about cardio? “I lift weights faster”.

Steph Deadlift

Weight room and cardio combined? Sign me up. 

“Lift weights faster” has become sort of a creed in the fitness world, and for good reason. It’s not always necessary to spend long, drawn out sessions on the treadmill or elliptical in order to get your cardio in. It’s just as easy to get cardio in by simply “lifting weights faster”, if that’s more your speed (pardon the pun). If you enjoy your time on the treadmill as a way to de-stress, that’s one thing. But if you’re hating every second of it, and doing it just because you think you need to, well, you’re in luck.

But when many people hear this, they don’t quite understand what this  means. Do you literally just lift your weights at lightning speed? Won’t that lead to bad form and maybe injuries? And won’t you look just a little bit ridiculous?

So today, we’re going to get into a few of the ways in which I typically “lift weights faster”. These are great ways to sneak workouts in when I don’t have a ton of time, but you can also stretch them out and get in a nice long, full workout as well.

When I’m doing one of these types of workouts, weights are not at or near my max. I keep the weights to a level where they are challenging for the sets that I will be doing, but remember that you’re generally doing more reps, and that these are not true strength building days.

Ladder Sets

I use ladder sets when I am really strapped for time and have a couple of exercises that I can string together for full body workout in just a few minutes. I’ll also use a ladder set as a finisher at the end of a strength day, doing just one round for speed. For a ladder set, you will start with a higher number of reps — let’s go with 10, for this example. Perform 10 reps of exercise A, 10 reps of exercise B, then 8 of each, then 6 of each, all the way down to 2. After you reach 2 reps of each exercise that you have chosen, start again with 2 and build your way back up to 10.

The beauty of ladder sets is that you have to so much freedom to get creative. For heavier exercises, I would stick with the 10-2 rep scheme. But for more cardio based exercises, such as body weight jump squats, or KB swings, you could go into a larger rep range, doing 20, then 15, 10, and 5 reps before building back up.

Some suggested pairings for ladder sets, although the possibilities are endless:

– Ring assisted pistol squats with ring inverted rows

– Jump squats with skater jumps

-Kettlebell swings

-Burpees

-Bulgarian split squats with elevated push ups.

Super Set Everything

To lift your weights faster, you can also just super set everything, cutting way down on the rest and recovery time in between sets. Remember, this is not done at max weight loads, since you’ll risk injury without the proper recovery between sets/exercises. To superset simply means to do two separate exercises back to back, generally with opposing muscle groups, without resting in between. Say you have 8 exercises that you plan on doing in your lift. You can superset these into 4 sets of exercises, alternating between each set of 2 with little to no rest, instead of resting between each set of each of your 8 exercises. Some common lifts that I superset are:

-Barbell Squat with overhead press

-RDL (romanian deadlift) with bent over dumbbell row

-Barbell reverse lunge with push up

Active Recovery Between Sets

This will vary slightly from supersets, although you’re still completing sets of two separate exercises back to back. However, the difference here is that the “in between” exercise is more of an active recovery than an actual lift. You’ll be keeping your body moving and heart rate up, but this secondary exercise will be more about recovery and mobility than building strength. This is done in the same manner as super sets, in which you complete the active recovery exercise between lift sets instead of resting. Some common active recovery exercises that I use between lifts are:

-Spiderman Lunges

-Medicine ball lunge/twist

-Downdog/Push-up/Up-dog repetitions

-Body weight deep side lunges

You can also check out this post for some additional hip mobility exercises that you could use here as well.

Barbell Complexes

Barbell complexes are probably one of the most common ways to “lift weights faster” in the strength training world. All it takes is a barbell loaded up with relatively light weight, and a string of movements that you’ll do with little to no rest. I usually try to string together about 5 different movements, and will go for 4-5 rounds of a complex. These can be extremely taxing, so go lighter on the weights than you think you might need to — maybe even just the barbell for the first time you try one of these. Especially if you’re stringing together both upper and lower body  movements, you’ll need that weight to be fairly light to get through all of the reps with little to no rest.

A barbell complex will get your heart pumping and breath elevated like no other, so get ready to work!! Below is an example that I’ve posted previously, but as with the other ideas here, there are endless combinations you can do for an effective workout. Just remember to rest thoroughly between each complex, and work with a weight that allows you to maintain proper form for every exercise. If you feel yourself fatiguing to the point where form is compromised, stop and rest in the middle of a complex, and/or lessen your weight/reps. 

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Readers: In what form do you prefer your cardio? Weight room or traditional? 

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Forget goals– Try This Instead.  

Last year at work, we had a staff retreat to start the year. You know those “retreats”; the name is misleading as it’s really just a day long meeting? Well needless to say, I wasn’t exactly stoked about the whole experience. But before the retreat, we were told that we were going to be taking part in the One Word program, and we would need to prepare one word on a sheet of paper for that day. The word was supposed to be ours — one word that we would want to embody throughout the year at work. My word for the year was Empathy, and I made a cute little arts and crafts poster to show it.

Now though, I’m not at work anymore. I practice empathy on a daily basis because it’s at the core of who I am as a person — I empathize even when I don’t really want to. But for some reason, I was recently thinking about this exercise and started thinking about what my word would be now. Life is different now, my priorities are different, I’m almost a completely different person than I was just a year and a half ago.

I also realized that at this point in my life, although I have things I want to work on, I don’t always have time to sit down and write down lengthy, specific goals for myself. Some days I’m lucky to just brush my hair, so a list of goals seems to be a little bit out of my wheelhouse right now. But one word? I can do that.

So I got to thinking. What is my one word? One word that encapsulates who I am, who I want to be and what I want to show Izzy as an example. And who knows — maybe my word will change next week, next month, or a few months from now, but at least it gives me something to focus on for the time being.

Presence. 

These are the months when Isabelle is growing and changing at a pace that I never thought imaginable. She changes seemingly overnight, and if I’m not present and aware, I’ll miss these subtle changes happening right before my eyes.

Likewise, little things I love that she does tend to disappear in the blink of an eye, and if I’m not present to notice them, they may disappear and be gone forever. Take, for example, when she was about 4 months old she had a span of about two weeks where she would do these loud, long, dramatic yawns that made me laugh every time. If I wasn’t paying attention and present during that time, I wouldn’t have those as a memory, because they’re gone from her ever changing vocal repertoire now.

But this word is not only important for my relationship with Isabelle right now; it’s important for my relationship with myself. I need to be present in the limited time I get for myself if I want to maintain some sanity and sense of self.

I need to be present during my workouts, because the time I have for them is so limited. If I’m off in La La Land, I’m not going to get done what I need to get done, and in turn, I won’t feel like my best self.

I need to be present during my limited time with Will, because my marriage is equally as important to sustain and flourish right now as my “me” time and my “Izzy” time.

I need to be present when on the phone with my family and friends — a feat that has proven to be very difficult nowadays, but those relationships deserve my time too, when I’m able to give it!

This one word involves so many pieces of my life, and it is equally important in all of them. Rather than make specific goals right now, which I realistically wouldn’t follow, I can easily think about this one word during my day and during my interactions with my loved ones, and my time by myself. I can try to incorporate it into different parts of my day, working on it a little bit more every day until full mental presence becomes my norm, and not something that I have to work on (hopefully, right?).

I’m feeling good about this, this one word. I’m feeling weight off my shoulders, not having specific goals to live up to right now, just letting things come as they will and working on each moment in that very moment.

If you’re feeling stressed or pressed for time, or unsure of what your goals should be right now, give this a try. Do some brainstorming, and figure out what words and themes are important to your life. You may find one common thread between them, and this may become your word! It’s much easier to focus on one word than several small steps, and it may give you something to focus on, which could in turn spur some inspiration or motivation for larger goals. (Along these same lines, my girl Monique recently wrote a great post about just doing something in order to get your inspiration flowing– check it out here!)

So if the thought of specific goals weighs you down more than it motivates you, take a few moments to think about one word. You may just feel lighter and more focused, without the stress of resolutions or deadlines.

What’s your word?

 

My Workout Progression Through Pregnancy

As I’m nearing the end of my pregnancy, I’ve recently begun to be on the receiving end of a lot of questions and concerns about my health and the health of my baby.

It’s no secret that I’ve remained active throughout my pregnancy, and at nearly 38 weeks, I’m still going not so strong. Because of all of the questions though, I wanted to take a few minutes to address some of these concerns and paint a picture of what my workouts, and my exercise progression (or, more accurately, regression) has looked like for the past 37 weeks.

“Are you supposed to be doing that?”

This is a question I’ve received a lot, especially as I’m nearing the end of my pregnancy. I’ve also had it asked in a less tactful way, as in when my neighbor straight up asked “are you hurting your baby?” while I was in the middle of a back yard workout this summer.

Spoiler alert: No, those battle rope swings were not hurting Baby R.

Anyway, I think most people ask these types of things not out of malice, but out of concern. They’ve been told for most of their lives that pregnant women are not supposed to lift anything remotely heavy, are not supposed to exert themselves in any way, and are essentially supposed to lie in wait for their baby to be born for 9 months. I don’t get angry at people who ask me this question, but I do try to clarify the truth for them.

And the truth is, pregnant women are more than capable of physical activity, as long as it’s something that they were engaged in prior to becoming pregnant, and as long as they have gotten the OK from their doctor. Now, I’m not a marathon runner, so I wouldn’t have dreamed of trying to train for a marathon while pregnant. Likewise, I’m not a CrossFitter, so I wouldn’t join a new box and try to compete in the Crossfit games while pregnant. But weight lifting, casual running, spinning, and other types of fitness are normal parts of my life. Since becoming pregnant, I have continued with these types of activities, just modifying them as needed as things progress. Because I’ve had a low risk pregnancy, all of this is encouraged by my doctor, and by current research in the field.

Have I maxed out my deadlift or squat for the past 9 months? Not even close. But I have kept myself under and barbell and have tried to maintain as much strength as possible while still being safe for myself and for baby.

Have I set any new running PRs? Oh, hell no. But I did continue running at a slower, more comfortable pace, up until I was about 6-7 months pregnant. Maintaining strength and physical activity is great for a pregnant woman’s body during labor and delivery, and also helps her to recover after the trauma that is child birth. As long as you’re not over exerting (and remember, this is different relative to all of our various pre-pregnancy lifestyles) physical activity is a benefit in most pregnancies, not a hinderance. Of course, there are certain medical conditions and circumstances which prevent this, but the overwhelming rule us that it is more than healthy to continue physical activity into the duration of your pregnancy, as long as you are mindful and smart about it.

So how has my progression looked? And keep in mind — this is just me, for this one pregnancy. My next pregnancy will likely look and feel much different, just as each pregnancy will for every other woman out there who experiences this. What I do should shed no light on what others “should” be able to do, and it certainly is not a rule book to guide anyone through their own pregnancy. I am just an example, a unique experience, and information here should be taken as such.

First Trimester: Weeks 5-13

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I start at week 5 because that is when the test turned from one line to two!

During my first trimester, I was extremely lucky to not be plagued by horrible morning sickness. I did have nausea, but it generally came on in the evenings, which worked out well for my morning workouts. My energy was certainly not up to my normal standards, but I did find that keeping a consistent workout schedule helped to keep my energy as high as possible during that time. As I got to the end of the first trimester, I did realize that back to back workout days really took a toll on me, so I made sure to generally schedule things with at least one rest day in between tougher workouts.

During these weeks, I was still weight lifting, spinning, and running, and would base the intensity on how I felt on any given day. I did take the weights down on my weight lifting days, sticking to about 60% of my previous weight levels on the big compound lifts (deadlift, squat, bench).

One thing I realized as well, however, was that my upper body could train a lot harder than my lower body. I made a conscious decision to continue with push ups, pull ups, and heavy weight training for my upper body, as long as these things did not overly strain my core too much.

And the result? Although my workouts were overall less than before, my upper body strength actually went up in several lifts, including the overhead press. I’d call that a win!

Second Trimester: Weeks 14-27

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During these weeks, I felt excellent overall. It was the amazing second trimester energy burst that many women describe, and boy did I notice it! My nausea all but disappeared, and my appetite went back to normal. During this time, however, I did have to be extra careful about taking rest days in between workout days, in order to avoid lower abdominal pain. I learned to recognize the discomfort of over exertion pretty quickly, and listened to my body intently when it needed 2,3, or even 4 days in between workouts.

Lifting continued, albeit with even more decreases in the big lifts. I took my squat and deadlift down to about 50% of my pre-pregnancy weights, using this time to just keep my muscles engaged. This was not about building (or even really maintaining) strength, just maintaining proper movement patterns and engaging my muscles just enough to continue feeling good physically and mentally.

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Running ended between 6 and 7 months, once I realized that it had become too painful. Around this time, I did want to keep up some good cardio conditioning within my own limits, so I took to the hills by my house and would walk hill repeats for 30-40 minutes at a time. This wasn’t too strenuous, and didn’t give me the pelvic pain of running, so it was the best thing for me then, and continues to be my cardio of choice at this point as well.

Third Trimester: Weeks 28-40

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And here we are in the 3rd trimester! Lifting is still part of my routine, but it’s only about once per week now, or twice if I’m feeling good. I was still in the weight room for most of the third trimester, but as I’m nearing full term, I have been sticking mostly with dumbells and cables in the gym, and kettlebells/resistance bands at home. Workouts are short with plenty of rest, and I listen carefully to my body to make sure I’m not overdoing it. Some days I feel great and can get an hour of light work in, and some days it’s just 15 minutes! The key for me in these later weeks has been to take it one day at a time, and to remember to not compare myself from one day to the next. This little baby takes priority, and while I want to maintain as much strength as I can to keep myself healthy through labor and delivery, I also want to make sure that she’s given the best environment in there to grow and develop.

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A little tired gym selfie! 

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At this point, at just under 38 weeks, I am proud to say that I am still as active as I can be. I may move a little slower and less gracefully, but with an uncomplicated pregnancy so far, I’m doing what I believe to be the best thing for both myself and for my baby girl.

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Readers: Do you have any questions? Have any of you maintained an active lifestyle during pregnancy, and what was your experience like? Did you receive any negative backlash for doing so? 

 

Monday Musings 7.11.16

I haven’t done one of these in a while, so how about some randomness on this Monday morning?

Monday

Sorry Not Sorry –  First things first, a bit of an apology and an explanation on why I haven’t been around lately! Remember a while ago when I told you all that I had begun studying for my Health Coach certification? Well, I didn’t actually get studying too much at that time. First one thing came up, then another, and then before I knew it it was June and I had hardly done anything related to the certification. Well, I’ve hunkered down since then and am hoping to take my exam next Friday, which is why in the past week or so I’ve been pretty quiet here!

Even though I’m not working, I’ve been spending what is the equivalent of a full time job studying, running bootcamp, and program writing for some new distance clients. The blog is important but it’s had to take a bit of a back seat for a little while! I do hope to get up at least one or two new posts over the next couple of weeks, but just know that the reason I’m not here regularly is a good one. Oh, also, I’m growing a baby. That makes my next point valid…

Pregnancy Brain is definitely a thing. Yes, I know scientists debate about whether or not pregnancy brain is actually something that happens, but I’m here to tell you with 100% certainty that it is real! For those of you that don’t know, pregnancy brain is something that happens to expecting women where inexplicably, growing this little bean inside of you causes about 25% (give or take) of your brain to spontaneously go missing. You may forget words, you may just forget things in general, you may forget certain articles of clothing when you leave the house, and you may just forget how to be a fully functioning human being. It’s real, it happens, and it’s an epidemic. Next time you see a pregnant lady who’s fishing for her purse for her definitely forgotten keys, or spinning around in circles mumbling about the sun glasses that are most certainly already on her head, just smile and move on. She’s ok, she’s just missing her brain, that’s all.

2 Years and counting! Will and I will be celebrating our 2 year anniversary on Tuesday. My how time flies! We went out for an amazing 5 course dinner at Bondir in Cambridge on Sunday night to celebrate, so Tuesday will be spent with dinner at home, some sort of amazing dessert that I’ll try to coordinate to the flavors of our wedding cake, and reading the “anniversary notes” from a few of our wedding guests. At our wedding, we had the guests at each table write us a little note and put it in an envelope with their table number on it, for us to read on each corresponding anniversary. So this year, we’re reading the notes from the guests at Table 2, and no, we really have not peeked at any of them ahead of time! It’s one of my favorite things that we did, and it’s so fun to go back and read what people wrote at the time. I can’t imagine how amazing it’ll be in years 10, 11 and 12 when the wedding will seem like a lifetime ago!

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[Photo Credit: Rachel Darley]

Let Go and Move On: Speaking of that photo above, Will and I are in the process of going through all of our stuff and purging to make room for baby and just to declutter in general. It’s a tough process but a necessary one, and luckily we just got rid of a lot of stuff last summer when we moved. One piece that’s really holding me up is my wedding dress. My goal is to donate it, because I know that there are a lot of women who can’t afford to buy their own, but dang that thing is ridiculously hard to part with. Part of me says “it’s just an article of clothing, I have all of my pictures of it, why do I need to keep it?” and then the irrational side of me says that it’s part of me and part of us and I can’t ever let it go. I think the rational side will win, but it’s taken 2 years to do so and it’s not getting any easier. I think I just need to rip the proverbial band aide off and be done with it. I love you, beautiful dress!!  Everything else in here? Let it go. Baby is coming, and we need lots of room for activities!

Join in: When was the last time you did a “purge” of your belongings and what was the most difficult thing to get rid of? Who else has had a much busier summer than they anticipated? Any funny pregnancy brain stories out there? 

3 Exercises I Won’t Program For Online Clients

While today is not exactly a Workout Wednesday post, it is something important that I think is worth going over.

These days, there are tons of fitness professionals offering online training (myself included!), or distance coaching programs. These can be excellent if you can’t afford personal training, or if you want to work with someone who is outside of your geographical area. The internet has allowed us to be able to reach clients just about anywhere, no longer being limited to those who live in our general vicinity.

But with this, comes some pretty serious responsibility. If you are doing a program that has been created by someone and has been sent to you without an in-person assessment (as is the case with most online programs), there are certain things to know ahead of time in order to keep yourself safe.

How should you properly warm up? How do you know when to back off or take a rest day? How do you know when to push yourself harder? But most importantly — how do you know that you’re doing the exercises correctly?

Some coaches will send you a program and you’re on your own. Some coaches will send you descriptions and/or videos of exercises so that you can make sure your form is correct. And some will even go so far as to schedule video/skype sessions to monitor your form on specific movements, noting ways in which you can improve to make your workout safer and more effective. I offer the last two of these options (both PDF descriptions and skype check-ins, as either of these can be beneficial depending on the client). Click [HERE] for more info.

When it comes to exercise form, however, there are some lifts, particularly if you are involved in a heavy lifting type of program, that you should really have checked out in person by a qualified professional before attempting them on your own. Certain lifts can be extremely technical, and without proper form and real-time cues can lead to injury and/or inefficient training. And while obviously none of us want to get hurt, inefficiency in training is also a huge no-no. Why waste time on a program if you’re not going to get the results you want to see?

While most lifts and exercises can be “taught” via descriptions, videos, and video chat sessions, there are a few that I strongly believe should be taught in person. Does this mean you have to spend hundreds of dollars training with someone just to learn a lift? Not necessarily. Many gyms offer introductory PT sessions, and most personal trainers can be hired on an hourly basis. Find someone who is local and qualified, and have them help you with these crucial lifts before beginning a program on your own. Your body will thank you later!

Exercises that should be done WITH a trainer:

Deadlift

The deadlift is a highly technical lift that utilizes just about your entire body. From head to heels, there are important movement and stabilization cues that a trainer can give to you in real time that you just can’t get through video or descriptions. When this lift moves into the heavy weight ranges, improper form can be dangerous (although proper form makes this one of the most beneficial lifts you can do, period).

Without proper cues and corrections, an improper deadlift can lead to muscle strains (best case) or spinal injury (worst case). I’m not saying this to scare you, but I am saying this to let you know that if you have a trainer who has prescribed you traditional or sumo deadlifts and you have never performed them before, it’s essential to work with someone in person before performing this lift with any significant weight. Heck, even light weight deadlifts can pose a problem with horrific form.

Steph Deadlift

The deadlift incorporates different phases and essential movements, all of which are important to master before ever weighting the barbell (or picking up the barbell at all). Find someone who can train you on proper hip hinging, grip, core stabilization and lock out mechanics, and you’ll be good to go.

The exception to this would be dumbbell or lighter weight Romanian Dead Lifts or Trap Bar Deadlifts. Both of these can be performed safely with good instruction, but I would still recommend a video session with your trainer to ensure that your hip hinge is sufficient to be performing these types of lifts.

Kettlebell Swing

Kettlebell swings, just like deadlifts, are extremely technical in terms of proper form. From your set up before even touching the KB, to the way in which the KB is placed on the ground at the end of a set (and every important aspect in between), there is a lot of room for error here. The swing is something that should be learned incrementally, with a trained professional before attempting it on your own. With the combination of the all-important hip hinge, plus the highly dynamic momentum of the movement, there is too much potential for injury if done incorrectly. Not only is this a technical lift, but it is also pretty advanced.

KBswing

If you are someone who has little experience with weight lifting and proper movement patterns, I would suggest staying away from this one until you A)have gained a little bit more experience in the weight room building your base strength movements and B)have perfected the hip hinge with a qualified professional.

Olympic Lifting – Clean/Snatch/Clean and Jerk

Olympic lifts are far and away some of the most technical lifts that you can do or be asked to do. Yes, your neighbor Susie does these all the time at Crossfit (at insanely high reps, usually with questionable form), and she’s never lifted before joining this gym! But that doesn’t that you should be doing them too. I am a firm believer in mastering the major lifting motions (push and pull for both upper body and lower body movements) as well as proper core bracing before attempting anything as advanced as a clean and jerk. Hoisting a heavy barbell over your head without first properly addressing strength and mobility concerns is just asking for disaster — whether that means injury or sheer embarrassment in the gym. Do yourself a favor, and stay away from these unless you have considerable time to work with a coach one on one. And this shouldn’t be just any coach — you should see someone who is experienced and trained in olympic lifting. Otherwise, it’s not much better than doing it on your own, to be honest.

These are lifts that I won’t program for my own clients if I’m not seeing them in person (and I don’t program olympic lifts in general). Please be wary of trainers who will throw highly advanced exercises at you without any sort of movement assessment or in-person session ahead of time. If something feels too advanced for you, check in with your trainer before charging ahead. Keep yourself safe, and worry about impressing others later. You won’t be impressing anyone when you’re sidelined from injury, so always remember: form comes first! 

Note: If you’re interested in in-person (Boston area only) personal training or online/distance coaching, please check out my page at Rondeau Heath and Wellness. I have several packages/offerings to fit any level and/or budget. Happy training! 

Good Reads: Tackling Fitness and Nutrition Myths

My oh my, things have been a bit crazy around here this week! I apologize for not getting any posts up, but I’ll hopefully have some updates for you soon.

Just a reminder for those of you in the Boston area, bootcamp classes will be starting on Tuesday, May 17 (that’s next week!) and I hope to see some of you there!!

Today I’ve brought you some good reads from the past few weeks; things that have caught my eye and that I think everyone should read.

 

Shut Up About Toxins – From Erika at Hurst Strength. Think you need to go on some sort of crazy juice cleanse to remove the toxins from your body? Nah. Erika reminds us that that’s what our liver is for and breaks it all down in a pretty bad ass, no BS way.

4 Reasons Rest Days are Just as Important as Time in the Gym – From Athena at Achieve With Athena. Athena’s got it right here, rest days are just as important if not MORE important than your days in the gym! Think you’re getting stronger while you’re at the gym? Spoiler alert: Not quite. Read up for some more insight on this from this awesome lady.

5 Myths About Cardio Exercise  – Another from Athena. (She’s crushing it lately). For some people, cardio is the Holy Grail of exercise, and for others it’s the 8th deadly sin. Athena gets into some common myths and gives us the info we really need on this heart healthy form of exercise!

The Real (And Surprising) Reasons Healthy Movement Matters – From Precision Nutrition. If you read one thing on this list, read this. Yes, it’s a bit long. Yes, it’s worth every second of your time. Move well, be well — that’s about it.

Why You Can’t Lose Weight On A Diet – From The NY Times. This one was sent to me by a great friend and it is quite the interesting read! We’ve all seen articles and posts lately about the tactics used on The Biggest Loser and why they aren’t effective — but what if losing weight slowly ends up with the same outcome? Why is it so hard to keep off weight that is lost?

Enjoy these reads everyone–  hopefully you all get some downtime this weekend to sit with a nice warm cup of coffee and peruse all of this good stuff. And maybe, just maybe, if this beautiful spring weather holds up (Bostonians), we could all spend some quality time outside this weekend! Just think, a comfy chair or blanket, the sun shining down, and some good reads at your fingertips. Sounds like a plan!

 

 

 

Cranberry Almond Energy Bites

I don’t know about you, but I’m a snack-a-holic.

I’m one of those people who has to have snacks on hand — in the purse, in my desk at work,etc — because if emergency hits, snacks are essential. And by emergency, I mean it’s been more than 2 hours since I’ve eaten. 

I kid, I kid.

But I do keep snacks on hand because while I can go more than 2 hours without eating, when the hunger monster does strike it’s really not pretty. Plus, without healthy snacks at the ready, being hangry can do some crazy things to the brain, such as forcing you to down an entire bag of Goldfish crackers without stopping to breathe. Not that I know from personal experience.

On this token though, keeping healthy snacks on hand can be a challenge in and of itself! Many prepackaged bars and other convenience foods, whether labeled “healthy” or not, often include tons of sugar, preservatives, or ingredients that just don’t belong in my body on a daily basis. While there are a handful of bars and pre made snacks out there that I have come to love due to their short, natural ingredient lists, sometimes it’s nice to make your own. Am I right?

Today’s recipe can be thrown together in about 15 minutes, and will give you enough energy bites to last the week. Unless you fall so in love with them that you down them by the handful. Be careful — you’ve been warned!

I made these last week on a whim–  I just threw a bunch of ingredients together in my kitchen and ended up loving the flavor combination. Not only did I love them, but so did Will, and trust me when I say that he’s the biggest critic of bars/snacks/etc.

And because of this, I decided to throw them together again this weekend, only this time I actually measured everything so that I could share them with all of you!

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Cranberry Almond

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As the recipe states, these will make about 16-18 bites. Due to the combination of ground almonds (I just pulsed mine in my Vitamix about 6-10 times) and peanut butter, these are calorie and energy dense!! Just 2 make a great mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack, or as a pick me up before a workout. A great mix of protein, healthy fats, and a small amount of carbohydrates, these are sure to give you just the energy boost you need when hunger strikes.

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*Note: I use crunch peanut butter because that’s my preference — I’m a texture gal! Of course you could substitute creamy here. Also, if you are using unsalted peanut butter, I would add a pinch of salt to really bring out all of the flavors.

Enjoy!