by Emma Hammond 0 comments
Time for some real talk fitness chat, shall we?I have yet to meet a single lady that doesn't describe her desire to have lovely lean legs. Plus who wouldn't be thrilled with having a perkier booty, right? Which as much as I am happy to guide a client to achieve those goals, the bigger issue is the rampant problem across the general population with weak glutes. Yes I did in fact just describe weak glutes as a rampant problem plaguing the wonderful everyday person across our country.Why is this such a negative? Weak glutes are caused by our lack of actually engaging our lovely big beautiful muscle group better known at the buttocks. We spend our days driving in cars, sitting at desks & often parked on the sofa come evening hours. Unfortunately if you don't use it, you lose it! Which can be responsible for a host of other issues when such a major muscle group stops firing. These imbalances puts more dependency on the low back, knees, hips & other muscle groups that now have to bear the brunt of our daily movement. This can absolutely lead to irritating pains such as achy knees all the way up to serious injuries in the low back. I can attest to this personally from my many running injuries which I can attribute to absolute lack of glute functioning. Guess where that lead me? In pain, sidelined & beyond frustrated.The great news is all of these issues can be prevented, improved & even resolved with a little bit of work building that booty. There is a huge variety of great exercises to improve glute strength but first things first. Before you add tons of weight, make sure they are activating properly with the basics. Here are a few of my favorite basic booty moves with a couple progressions to build up to:Favorite Beginner Moves:
Banded Clamshell - Can start without band, then add above the knees for more of a challenge. Abs tight & contract that booty raising the knee.
Banded Lateral Walk - A band can be placed at the feet, ankles, below or above the knee. Take a big step out with a smaller step in, moving laterally.
Banded Quadrupled Donkey Kick - Focus on squeezing that glute with a pause at the top of the motion before bringing the leg back down.
Banded Glute Bridge - Feet hip distance apart with a strong push through the heels. Do not let your knees cave in at the banded area. Tuck your hips under at the top & squeeze tightly before lowering back down towards the ground.Favorite Booty Exercises:
Barbell Glute Bride or Hip Thrust - These are my absolute favorite with a ton of variations available. Find which movements makes your booty burn the most to ensure you are getting full activation.
Weighted Hyperextension: These are also great if you have access to a hyperextension machine at your gym. Start without weight then progress by adding a plate or dumbbell across the chest. Another tip is to point your toes in & really squeeze the booty on the way up. Don't swing!!
Deadlift Variations - Another awesome exercise you can easily progress from light weight to heavy. Challenge yourself & don't stay at a light weight forever. This movement is one of the more difficult to learn, as it's hinging from the hips, not squatting down at the knees. Hinge forward & focus on pushing hips back to the wall behind you. I promise your booty will see the benefits as well as increasing hamstring strength.
Squat Variations - Last but not least of course the squat. An all time classic total body compound movement that should be enjoyed by all. Again there are a million variations but start with a dumbbell goblet squat & box squat. Work on form & squat depth. The deeper you get with proper for the more glute activation you'll achieve.
How to incorporate these into your weekly routine? I typically perform 2-3 glute focused exercise at least 3 times a week for optimal growth. Often I am working out that booty 5 times a week, as I've found women can work the glutes with higher frequency & see amazing results.Any favorite booty boosting moves you love?
by Emma Hammond 0 comments
If you've read any of my blog post you will notice a trend. I am not a gourmet cook by any stretch of the imagination. I LOVE food, recipes, fine dining & all the foodie aspects of eating. However I absolutely lack the patience & skills to put together a fancy feast every night of the week. Instead I want to eat simple meals that I enjoy, are nutritious, satisfy my taste buds & don't stress me out to prepare.When going through my weekly meal planning routine I also look for versatility so we aren't locked into eating the exact same combo day in & day out. As I quickly noticed by the 4th day in a row of chicken, broccoli & brown rice, I am much more likely to suggest grabbing take out instead of the prepared food in the fridge. This is where I've found a basic slow cooker style chicken breast to be the perfect go to protein to incorporate into any meal. Also let's be real, who enjoys being very hands on cooking chicken? After being a vegetarian for almost 10 years (a topic for another day) I struggle to handle meat to intimately. Any options of from package to slow cooker with not handling in between is a win for me!These are a few super simple crockpot recipes to try out:
- Salsa or Salsa Verde Chicken
- 2lbs Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast (or thighs, I just prefer white meat)
- 2 Jars Favorite Salsa
- I added a tbsp of onion powder, minced garlic & cumin. Can omit if not on hand.
1. Add chicken & salsa to slow cooker.
2. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low 4-6 hours until cooked through.
3. Remove from slow cooker & shred with forks. Add back to slow cooker with sauce.
Fajitas - saute onions, peppers & other vegetables. Add in chicken & serve atop a salad, lettuce or in a corn tortilla.
Rice Bowl - I love this chicken with the extra sauce atop a burrito style rice bowl. A simple layer of rice, black beans & chicken is quite hearty served with a basic side salad. Or as I usually do throw it all in a bowl with a dollup of plain greek yogurt on top!
Tacos - try a lettuce wrap or corn tortilla with a flavorful lime cabbage slaw (shredded cabbage, salt, pepper & lime juice) with diced tomato & sliced avocado.
- Basic Versatile Slow Cooker Chicken
- 2lbs Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast (or thighs, I just prefer white meat)
- 1tsp of salt & pepper.
- Splash of chicken stock or water, enough to line the bottom.
- I sometimes add 1/2 tsp of garlic powder & oregano if I'm feeling frisky.
1. Add chicken, stock, s&p to slow cooker.
2. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low 4-6 hours until cooked through.
3. Remove from slow cooker & shred with forks. Add back to slow cooker with juices if desired. I usually shred the chicken & add a few splashes of fresh stock to maintain moisture.
Salads - Combos I love include:
- Spinach, chicken, feta, strawberries, walnuts & balsamic dressing.
- Cobb style chicken, hard boiled egg, gorgonzola, tomato & mustard vinaigrette.
Quesadilla, Tacos or Fajitas - to make a healthy meal balance the amount of fat, carb, vegetables & protein. Choose one carbohydrate source, aka either rice or a corn tortilla. Choose one serving of healthy fat, aka avocado or cheese (or 1/2 serving of each) & load up on lots of vegetables with the protein rich chicken.
Asian Stir Fry - any vegetables, rice if desired, tamari or stir fry sauce you enjoy (check ingredients). I love fibrous broccoli, cabbage & snap peas for a great mix of texture in this dish.
Omelets - fill up a an omelet with some extra protein! I love chicken, sundried tomato, spinach, basil & feta all sandwiched between a couple egg omelet. This is sure to hold you over all morning.
Other great ways to use: as a simple protein snack with cheese, a meat + 3 combo including your favorite healthy sides of sweet potato, asparagus or whatever floats your boat, add to a sauce to top pasta or zoodles & so many more!
What's your favorite slow cooker hack to have healthy meals all week?
by Emma Hammond 0 comments
One of the reasons I became so interested in health, nutrition & fitness is because it is very individualized. There truly isn't a one size fits all approach & many different methods work for varying people. For me, that means getting to know a client's lifestyle, preferences & truly personal goals for which I can put them on the right road to achieve success. Yet for most people, it means a frustrating puzzle when all you want is simple "how to" reach the finish line.
That desire for the no thinking necessary - quick fix results is what leads us to jump from point A to Z, with none of the in between. In fitness you don't go from a couch dweller to marathon runner overnight. Nor do you throw a barbell on your back before you can squat with just your body weight. It's the same with nutrition! Unfortunately one of the most common issues I find when a client comes to me in search of fat loss or even just cleaning up their diet is wanting to skip the basics.
or whatever they've read online. I am no different & absolutely guilty of trying the good ole 30 challenge or trendy cut out X macronutrient method. Which is why I can say from personal experience, it never led to long term results or sustainable habits. Instead I usually felt confused & ultimately like a failure when I yet again couldn't comply.
This is why I now often sound like a broken record by asking are you doing X, Y & Z first...No? Then how are you going to stick to a more complicated & often restrictive dietary plan when you aren't applying the simple habits needed to set yourself up to succeed. I have been AMAZED to see results that have come from people sticking to the basics, creating habits they can follow & making small adjustments over time where needed.
If you are ready to lose that extra fat that has been bothering you, feel better daily & make it a sustainable lifestyle then this is for you. Before you jump on the next 30 day challenge, as yourself if you have these basics down:
Top 5 Basic Nutrition Must Haves:
1. DRINK WATER! I always feel silly saying this & clients give me the same "yes I know" response. But are you actually doing it daily? The amount needed can vary depending on activity levels but at the bare minimum, 64-72oz per day to start.
2. Eat LOTS of Vegetables: I also don't mean just corn, beans, potatoes & other starchy foods. Your meals should be comprised of lots of colorful vegetables, especially the leafy green variety. The vitamins & nutrients in vegetables fuel your body, not to mention fiber which helps keep you full. Make 1/2 your plate veggie filled & you will start to feel & SEE the difference.
3. Solid Protein with EVERY meal: This is one I see most frequently with women. Yes ladies I am looking at you! Cereal & fruit for breakfast, plain salads for lunch, more fruit, nuts, veggies, hummus, pasta & such throughout the day. That is not going to help you get the "lean" look I hear about. Include a substantial source of protein (ideally 20-30g) at all 3 meals plus some in a snack. That will keep you full, maintain muscle mass, bone density & much more.
4. Limit Processed Foods: I know this phrase is thrown around a ton so what do I mean? Frankly anything with ingredients on it. Your diet should be composed of proteins (meats, fish & eggs), vegetables (including starchy potatoes & winter squash), healthy fats (think avocado, nuts, seeds, olives, coconut & real butter) & fruit. No ingredient labels needed on these whole foods. Then include foods like dairy, legumes, beans & less processed grains as long as you tolerate them well. Simply limiting bagged cereals, breads, pastas, granola bars, candy, ice cream, fried foods, fast food & such will go a long way with your physique goals.
5. Skip the Liquid Calories: While alcohol is definitely on this list, other beverages such as coffee drinks, fruit juices & even smoothies can really do some caloric damage when working towards a deficit. I know orange juice is a fruit, but most are sugar filled. Eat the orange instead & actually enjoy the nutrients. Skip the mocha drink in favor of a coffee w/ steamed milk & a shake of cinnamon. Save the glass of wine until the weekends instead of it being a nightly habit. Again I am not saying cut out everything forever, but liquid calories should be a very small part of your daily intake if working towards fat loss.
Of course there are endless amount of do this not that tips I could throw your way. I have found this leads to feeling overwhelmed & discouraged to even know where to begin. Instead don't stress! Work on these, set small goals specific weekly goals & enjoy the process. Being healthy doesn't need to be an overly complicated numbers formula for most of us to achieve the base level of health we are all entitled to. Start here & see where it can take you!
Are you following most of these basic nutrition tips?
Healthy Recipe Remix: Shepherd's Pie: As mentioned in my meal prep post, my husband & I brainstorm the weekly menu on Sunday's so that we are on the same page & both pleased with our options. It's been super helpful to communicate & not come home every night to asking "what's for dinner?". Which often leads to pricy takeout that's not as healthy as a home cooked meal.
When having our weekly discussion & my husband said "let's have shepherd's pie", I gave my normal raised eyebrow. We try to keep weeknights pretty nutritious & enjoy a meal out or two on the weekends. Therefore the heavy sounding ground beef, creamy mashed potatoes & often covered in cheese dish was not my ideal choice. At least not something I'd want to have multiple nights throughout the week, which we do for leftover ease. However being the wise man he is, he quickly jumped in to tell me he found a recipe with mashed cauliflower as opposed to potatoes. Which we both love! He knows me well:)
After a few tweaks to online recipes he kindly cooked up a delicious comfort dish that is much lighter than the classic recipes. Plus it only took about 30 minutes for a quick weeknight option!
Mashed Cauliflower Shepherd's Pie: Serves 6 1lb grassfed ground beef 1 head cauliflower (can use two if desired) 1/2c frozen peas 3 peeled whole carrots 1 yellow onion 1/2tsp salt 1tsp ground black pepper 1/2tsp paprika 1/2tbsp olive oil or grassfed butter
Instruction: 1. Fill pot w/ water to boil cauliflower & preheat over to 350. 2. Dice onion, carrots & cauliflower (into florets). 3. Heat saute pan to medium, add a light coating of olive oil. 4. Add diced onion & sweat until translucent. (10 minutes or so) 5. Add cauliflower to boiling water w/ salt, cook until soft. (7 minutes) 6. Add beef to onions & saute until brown, just a couple minutes. 7. Add peas, salt, pepper & paprika to ground beef to combine. 8. Drain cooked cauliflower & puree with immersion blender or in food processor w/ salt, pepper & drizzle of olive oil/butter. 9. Place beef mixture in a glass casserole dish, we used an 8" rectangle. Top w/ mashed cauliflower in even layer. Top with cheese if desired. 10. Baked at 350 degree for 25-30 minutes. Enjoy!!
It's not the most photographic dish but turned out delicious! Feel free to tweak to your own preferences. I enjoyed it with a side of kale, always gotta have the greens:)
Whether you love spending hours in the kitchen or are more the take out type, after a long work day it's easy to fall prey to unhealthy habits when short on time & high on hunger. Even on my most motivated days, by 8pm I don't have the patience or focus to care about the nutritional quality of my meals when I can't think over a rumbling belly. That's why I have learned through many mishaps, that I can save myself the stress & regret by having quick fix staple meals on hand. By keeping a few quick fix items on hand I can easily have a healthy & delicious meal on the table in 20 minutes or less. Here are just a few of my go to foods that helps to keep my actions in line with my goals:Salmon, Broccoli & Sweet Potatoes: This is a super simple combo that is my go to when I need a dinner that is hands off cooking. I love being able to take it straight from the freezer to the oven so it cooks while I shower. By the time I have cleaned up it's ready for me to sit down & enjoy. This is also just the general idea of throwing together any protein + starch + vegetable together to make a well rounded meal. Make sure you have some source of healthy fat, whether it's the protein (beef/salmon), olive oil or other added quality ingredient.My quick fix cheats:- Frozen Salmon Filets: These need no defrosting & cook in around 20 minutes. We buy these from Whole Foods to make sure they are from a sustainable source.- Par-cooked Sweet Potatoes: I wash & put these in the microwave for 3-4 minutes before tossing in oven to cut the cook time but still get the roasted taste & texture.- Frozen Broccoli: Even if I run out of fresh produce, I always keep frozen on hand to round out a meal.My methods:1. Flip the stove on 450 degrees & grab a sheet tray plus aluminum foil for easy clean up.2. Wash sweet potato, stab with fork & wrap in wet paper towel to microwave while assembling the rest.3. Spray sheet tray with aluminum foil & place salmon & frozen broccoli on. Season as desired!4. Add sweet potato to tray & toss in the oven.5. Set the time & I am off to shower within 5 minutes of walking through the door. Breakfast for Dinner: As long as eggs are on hand I can never say "we have nothing to eat". Eggs are an egg-cellent healthy balanced option to avoid the drive through & enjoy a hot meal in minutes.A few egg ideas:Omelets: toss in veggies, herbs, cheese, leftover meat or whatever is on hand! I love a spinach, tomato & feta combination personally but anything will work. And yes, please keep the yolk!!Scramble: This = hi my name is Emma & I am hungry/lazy. Same general principal as an omelet but scrambled for a quicker preparation.Top it with an Egg: Throw an egg on any mix of vegetables & you have a delicious meal with a built in sauce. I love taking kale, leftover roasted sweet potato, goat cheese & topping it with an egg.Sides: I like have a multiple component meal so I often pair my omelet or scramble w/ fruit, bacon, toast or any other on hand items that sounds appealing. PS I keep frozen GF bread in the freezer to easily pull out one piece, toast & enjoy. No worries of it going bad or not having on hand for the occasional enjoyment. Rotisserie Chicken Dinner: This is just as easy to grab on the way home as take out! Not to mention cheaper, healthier & fits your goals. Win-win! This is another easy to pair combo with anything you have on hand.Here are a few different ways to use:Throw in the breakfast for dinner concept is an easy one.Meat + Veggies + Carbs = Heat up your frozen broccoli & steam in a bag brown rice for a super clean dinner made in 3 minutes. Other easy items: green beans, asparagus & sweet potatoes can all be quickly cooked up & pair well with a basic rotisserie chicken. I will add a clean ingredient bbq sauce or mustard for added flavor.Salad Topper - Have veggies in the fridge that need to be used up? I follow my standard not another boring salad formula which is:
- Base - favorite greens depending on texture preferences. Herbs are also a great addition here.
- Veggies - I like a mix of textures & temperatures such as crunchy carrots + sauteed squash
- Protein - chicken in this case but can be anything you enjoy. I love adding hard boiled eggs!
- Healthy Fats (or flavor add ins) - I usually stick to a serving or split that serving among a few different ingredients. Examples include: cheese, nuts, seeds & avocado.
- Starch - For a lunch salad I usually skip the added carbohydrates but do enjoy the addition for dinner. Try any bean, fruit or grain you enjoy & your body can digest well. I enjoy added apple or chickpeas or even hummus to my salads.
- Dressing - I stick to mostly vinaigrette's & love making them my own by keeping staple items in the pantry. Make it fun by using ingredients such as mustard, apple cider vinegar, garlic & more to the basic olive oil/vinegar mix. This takes 1 minute to whisk together but yes I do keep a few healthy pre-made dressings on hand.
- Add lemon juice, dijon mustard, jarred olives, salt & pepper for a flavorful bite.
- Another combo for the creamy fans can be using plain greek mustard or a tbsp of REAL mayo to the mix. Add in any crunchy veggies such as carrots, celery, onion or heck pickles. Whatever floats your boat!
by Emma Hammond 0 comments
I remember the first time I toyed with the idea of lifting weights in the gym. I had all the typical concerns women share from intimidation, to fear of getting bulky & overall simply not knowing what in the heck I was doing. It's really hard to break past that initial barrier of starting a completely new activity with all that stacked against you!However several years later I can promise you from personal & professional experience that it is oh so worth it. Feeling strong, empowered, confident, healthy & finally seeing the physique changes that chronic cardio wasn't providing me was worth every awkward attempt in those early days of lifting. So in lieu of creating more confusion & intimidation, today I want to try & keep this really simple! I will get more in depth in future posts on the ins & outs of lifting but let's start out with WHY you should push past the hesitation & pick up a dumbbell.Top 3 Reasons You Should Strength Train:1. It Works: Whether you are looking to shed fat, increase muscle mass, look "toned", run faster or just be able to haul groceries without pulling your back out of whack. Lifting weights is proven by science over & over to be oh so effective for all of the above & much more. The more muscle mass you hold, the more calories your body is burning at rest. Yay increased metabolism! To be straightforward, if fat loss is your goal you need to incorporate weight training into your routine. Still skeptical? I always ask the question has what you've been doing to reach your goals been working? If not, what can trying a different way hurt!2. It Builds Confidence: One of the aspects of lifting I love is you can measurably track progress weekly that has nothing to do with the scale. It builds the mindset of going in to GAIN strength, power & flexibility as opposed to focusing on hitting the elliptical to LOSE weight. Who doesn't want to be more instead of less? From one week to the next you can track that you did 1 more rep, lift 5lbs more or eek closer to that push up. It's extremely empowering to set small goals & knock them out every single session. It's also very scalable to different body types, ages, ability levels & training style preferences so that you can walk out of each session feeling stronger then when you walked in.3. It's A Built In Health Booster: Beyond aesthetics, lifting weights boasts so many NECESSARY health benefits for men & women of all ages. Ladies as we get older that bone mass is easy to lose, causing a huge array of health problems. Lifting weights not only helps to maintain bone density, it helps to strengthen joints, tendons & surrounding muscles to sustain healthy function. Simply doing cardiovascular activity can actually severely decrease muscle mass leading to injury. Not to mention the daily benefits from lifting, when you notice it doesn't hurt your knees to climb the stairs or squat down to pick up your child.
Where to Start: This part can get rather technical so I will attempt to break it down as best as my science nerd self can do. Disclaimer, there is NO perfect workout for every person. Same as there is not ONE diet that is ideal for all. Customization comes in based on so many individualized factors that I won't bore you with in this post. This is why I highly recommend starting with a trainer, even if just for a handful of sessions to get started on the right track Starting at your level, based on your body & with proper form is key so you feel encouraged & empowered lifting. Yes, I started out with a trainer at 18 & guess what? I still work with a trainer today so I practice what I preach.Beginner Lifting Template: For a beginner trying to lift 2-3 days a week I recommend a total body program to hit all the major movement patterns listed below. There are an infinite amount of exercises that can be used but here are some basics.
- Quad Dominant: Squat, Step Ups, Split Squat & Lunge Variations
- Hip Dominant: Deadlift, Glute Bridges/Hip Thrust, Back Extensions & Bird Dogs Variations
- Horizontal Push: Push Ups, Bench Press Variations (barbell or dumbbell/ flat or incline)
- Horizontal Pull: Bodyweight Rows, Single Arm DB Rows, Chest Supported Row & Barbell Rows.
- Vertical Push: Dumbbell or Barbell Military Press (seated, standing, one-arm etc)
- Vertical Pull: Pull Ups (assisted, chin up, overhand etc) & Lat Pulldown (underhand, wide grip etc)
- Anterior Core: Front Plank, Stability Ball Rollout
- Rotational Core: Side Plank, Pallof Press
- Pair movements that are opposing - aka a push with a pull or upper with a lower.
- The last 2-3 reps should be hard - if you aren't struggling lift heavier or more reps.
- Master body weight before loading - if you can't body weight squat don't add a barbell.
- Stick with a program for more than a week - master movements & add weight over diversity.
- How many repetitions & sets is truly goal dependent - to start try 2-3 sets of 10 reps.
- Short on time? Split it up into different days to hit all movements during the week.