Showing posts tagged with: Fitness

Things I’m Loving Lately + Fun Holiday FIT Gift Guide

by Emma Hammond 0 comments

Fitness Nutrition Uncategorized

Things I'm Loving Lately 

~ December Holiday FITguide ~

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I don't know about you but I am ALWAYS in search of new fun gift ideas for friends that I haven't repeated a billion times already. I tend to be a little idea fatigued for new gifts to go under the tree come December so I LOVE reading what others are loving lately. As someone who LIVES in my workout gear I have found certain lifestyle related items that I can't do without! Not to mention tried out a lot more that I quickly ditched. Check out a few fun must haves for yourself or a FIT friend this season.

#1: Wireless Ear Buds - MPOW Bluetooth

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For years & years I hit the gym daily with the standard ear buds that drove me CRAZY! They'd get wrapped around a barbell or stuck on my clothes & I spent more time sticking the damn things back in my ears then wearing them. How am I suppose to keep people from talking to me without earbuds in??? Kidding (NOT!!)

 

Embarrassingly enough it took my dear husband's simple comment of "why don't you get wireless headphones?" for me to go DUH!! Oh the little things in life can bring me SO much happiness. I tested out multiple brands (many which broke) & ended up loving the mpow earbuds. They stay in while even when running, which was a must for me! They come with multiple size attachments which helped them fit me perfectly. Plus they are only $25 on amazon. Oh amazon how I love thee<3

#2: Beauty Counter - Nontoxic Skin Care (that doesn't suck!)

charcoal-bar

Truth be told I was never big on "products". Lotions, face wash, make up & such was never something I gave much attention to. Much less made me excited enough to talk about. Until I started struggling with severely dry skin & some break outs. Not fun as an adult! As I did more research into products on the market I was honestly shocked & appealed by the harmful chemicals that are in ALL of the mainstream products. Even those deemed "natural", don't even get me started on that sneaky marketing...

As someone who cares about what I put in my body via food, I felt rather silly realizing how much crap I was putting on my skin. The biggest organ in the body! I tried out a few hippy dippy products that frankly SUCKED. Natural deodorant was a no go, yet I couldn't un-know what I learned about traditional skin care products so I kept searching. Finally I was introduced to Beauty Counter products & it changed the game. Yes higher quality products were more expensive so I transitioned little by little. As I ran out of shampoo I replaced it. No more lotion? I tried out BC products. Honestly I have loved almost everything to the point I signed up as a consultant to share with others. Plus get my own discount right? :) My favs so far:

  • Charcoal Bar & Mask: LOVE for my skin & has cleared up a lot of my uneven skin tone issues.
  • Tinted Moisturizer: This is super light weight & doesn't wreck my skin after using.
  • Lotion/Body Scrub: I prioritize the products I use daily on the biggest areas of my body so this was a must!

For anyone who is into the their skin care routine, overall health, environmentally conscious or just enjoys fun beauty products, these make GREAT gifts. Check out more here or message me for questions about beauty counter!

#3: QALO Silicone Wedding Rings

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For anyone that workouts in ANY way on a regular basis or works with their hands, these rings are SO FUN! I heard about them on a podcast & decided to order a pair for my husband & I. He was thrilled with man jewelry as a gift PS... ;) These bands are so practical for protecting your wedding rings (or regular rings) not to mention your hands from being scratched, pinched or get in the way of your activity. Even in yoga I get annoyed when my ring flips over on the mat BUT honestly I hate taking them off.

 

Maybe because I'm still (sorta) a newlywed but I enjoy wearing my wedding band, even when working out. Heck especially at the gym around certain men... Not to mention I hate to taking off my wedding rings while out & about for fear of losing. NIGHTMARE!! I also LOVE that you can have these engraved, they come in so many cute colors & are super affordable. Hence when you lose one like me, it's not big deal to replace. A fun hubby & wife gifts or a stocker stuffer for others. PS use the code GGW at checkout & get 15% off your order.

Other FUN Fitness Ideas to Checkout:

  • Healthy Human Water Bottles:  so CUTE & practical. I totally use mine everyday & love how eco-friendly they are.51ibxnw12el

  • Vital Protein Collagen: ok maybe a weird one for most BUT this is my favorite health supplement type product that in addition to beauty counter, has done awesome things for my tendons, joints, hair, skin & nails! It mixes right into my morning coffee with no funky taste & I take it every single day.vital-proteins-collagen-peptides

  • Cute Workout Totes: who doesn't love a stylish bag to take to the gym on the daily. I got mine from Fabletics but also love these from LuluLemon, Athleta & Nike.lulu

  • Cozy Leg Warmers: I love being warm & cozy come winter, even in my workout gear. These cute leg warmers go right over those shorter capris & look super cute. Time for me to snag a new pair in fact!cn12341521

  • Activity Trackers: i've been using my Jawbone up 24 for years & totally love it. It's fun to check in on my steps, sleep, heart rate & even water intake!! Plus compete with clients & friends on who can stay the most active each week. A little friendly competition never hurt anyone. ;)20151111_jawboneup3

  • Stocking Stuffer Fun: As a self proclaimed Quest Bar addict, i'd be stoked to have these slightly pricey protein bars fall into my stocking. PS fav flavors include cookies & cream, chocolate chip, s'mores, white chocolate raspberry, oatmeal chocolate chip, rocky road, coconut cashew & blueberry! Other favorite bars include RX Bars & Lara Bars.

    Other fun ideas include subscription box gift cards like my fav Sunbasket or Hello Fresh. Heck a Whole Food's or Trader Joe's gift card for those health conscious foodie friends would be a hit as well.

    (haha I had to throw this in)

    That's a wrap folks! Haha get it? Wrap..like wrapping paper for Christmas. Ok I make myself laugh at least.. Hope this helps spark some fun ideas for friends, family & yes even YOU! Self care right?

** ANY FAVORITE FINDS YOU ARE LOVING LATELY???

1/2 Marathon Training Updates + Nutrition Tweaks

by Emma Hammond 0 comments

goals Nutrition Recap Uncategorized Workouts

OK I might have failed on those weekly training recaps I spoke about... OOPS! Never the less I am back with a little update of how the last month of training has gone, a few nutrition changes i've made & how I am feeling overall. Let's dig in!!14330080_697935553693035_9048511778216656836_nLast we spoke, my schedule looked like:

  • 2x a week run (one long run & one speed or tempo)
  • 3x a week total body lifting (sticking with a program my coach wrote)
  • 1-2x a week cross training on the bike or swimming (triathlon future?)
  • 1-2x a week yoga (restorative)
While nothing has drastically changed, a lot actually has...
  • Running: I have upped my mileage from less than 15 miles a week to 20-25. I have felt REALLY good on the road lately & have naturally leaned towards wanting to do so a bit more frequently. I am TRYING to stick with only running twice a week BUT a 3rd day has slipped in on occasion. Physically I am feeling ok minus a recent knee flare. I'm going to take it easy from now until race day, as I am not going to get any faster 2 weeks out. The best I can do is rest the knee & see how the day goes!
  • Strength Training: *Sigh* This has me a little frustrated but as previously mentioned, I knew it would take a hit with the extra running. I am still loving lifting BUT it's changed a lot. A month ago I was doing heavier barbell movements in low rep ranges. Example my workout would start with 4 sets of 3 rep back squats or 1 rep max of bench press. With the extra running my central nervous system isn't feeling recovered enough to work on max effort lifts. Instead I am doing a lot more dumbbell & kettle bell work which is a fun change. I am also only going heavier on my legs twice a week. This stinks a bit BUT I wasn't recovering enough from those heavy days 3x a week to have a quality run. I can't have it all, sad I know. However it's still just as important for me to maintain strength training during this time, even if it looks a little different. I am doing a lot more upper body, single leg training & hips/glute work. The key to staying injury free.
  • Nutrition: Damn running! It makes me chronically hungry, which is exactly why I DON'T recommend it as an optimal option for fat loss. I run a lot & I want to eat a lot, it's that simple. The problem? It's very easy to overeat, no matter how many calories you burn through exercise. I have absolutely increased my calorie intake to maintain my weight & fuel my runs. It's not the time to undereat or diet so I am trying to include quality foods to stay more satiated. I have also upped my carbs & more importantly protein! Why protein? I want to maintain as much lean muscle mass as I can & protein is my best way to do so.
  • Body: I don't weigh myself these days so I can't say in terms of lb change. I actually feel as though I have gained a slight bit of weight but who knows OR CARES. As mentioned, I tend to get HUNGRY running & the mix of that with my body never reacting well hormonally to the stress, well it can leave me feeling puffy. Do I like it? No BUT I'm trying to be honest with myself with what I am eating, drinking & keep that balance in check. It's easy to say "I deserve to eat those fries because I ran 10 miles" but I really don't like that mindset. Instead I NEED to eat quality food because my body is recovering. I also don't have to EARN a glass of wine or dessert through exercise so I don't feel the need to justify that either.
I thought I'd give a little sample week of my workouts & day in the life of eats just for fun! This was a day's worth of eats on an upper body lifting day:Breakfast: Roasted sweet potato & broccoli topped w/ goat cheese, eggs & hot sauce. Totally digging the savory breakfast & love getting veggies in to start the day!image1

Lunch: I grabbed a salad from this awesome local shop called Good Greens. My newest addiction! This big box included baby kale, spinach, quinoa, edamame, beets, carrots, pumpkin seeds, feta & chicken. SO GOOD!

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Afternoon Snack: Plain greek yogurt bowl w/ pumpkin & gf pumpkin O's (yay Trader Joe's!). I usually have an afternoon snack to hold me through PM training sessions & not leave me hangry by dinner time. Nothing good comes out of hangry...

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Dinner: Steak salad bowl, which we enjoyed using leftovers that we grilled on Sunday night to make a hearty dinner salad. Steak, sautéed asparagus, onions, tomato, gorgonzola & balsamic dressing. A great way to end the day & took about 10 minutes to whip up. My fav!

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**I think I ended the evening w/ a little Halo Top Ice Cream. That sounds like me.. ;) This day felt great on the food front, as it include all my nutrition non-negotiables! Protein at every meal, lots of veggies & plenty of H20. I also like to include grassfed beef &/or salmon 2-3x a week in addition to pasture raised eggs. Yay high quality fats!

Workouts Lately:

Monday: Upper Body Lifting Day 

1. Incline Bench Press: 4x8-10

2. Pull Ups: 3x5-8

3. Incline Hybrid Flyes: 3x10

4. BB Bent Over Rows: 4x8-10

5A. Strict OH BB Press: 4x8

5B. DB Lateral Raises: 4x10

6A. Straight Bar Tricep Pressdown: 4x12-15

6B. OH Tricep Extension: 4x10

6C. Cable Bicep Curl: 4x10

6D. Cable Bicep Rvs Curl: 4x10

Tuesday: Run + Lower Body Lifting Day

AM: 6 Mile Run

PM: Leg Workout -

1. BB Back Squats: 4x12

2. Leg Press: 4x30 - 20 Wide Stance, 20 Close (OUCH!)

3. BB Front Squats: 4x8-10

4. Walking Lunges: 1:30 minutes on/45 seconds restx3

5A. Lying Leg Curls: 4x12

5B. Glute Kickbacks: 4x12

Wednesday: REST DAY! WOOHOOThursday: 45 Minute Bike Ride + Upper Body Lifting Day (Similar format to Monday but w/ flat presses & arnold presses)Friday: Lower Body Lifting Day (Similar to Tuesday but w/ straight leg deadlifts sprinkled in)Saturday: 12 Mile RunSunday: And again we rest!In total 4 strength days + 3 cardio days + 2 total rest days = 1 happy Emma! I could have squeezed in a yoga day but I didn't. No biggie!So that's a wrap as to what's been going on with me lately! With the race 2 weeks away I'm excited to accomplish a goal & see what I will be aiming for next.Are YOU in tune w/ how to adjust your diet based on your activity & top goals? Let me know in the comments below!

Being RIPPED vs. being HEALTHY: Are they one in the same?

by Emma Hammond 0 comments

goals Habits Mindset Uncategorized

Being Ripped vs. Being Healthy:I love the opportunity to start with a new training client. Learning more about their history, outlook on training & experience always gives me a new perspective I can use to better connect with others. Yesterday I began with a newbie to me who had come from over 3 years of training in a traditional bodybuilding style gym. While I actually consider myself a little on the "bro" bodybuilding side myself, true bodybuilding is an athletic endeavor focusing on maximizing aesthetics goals over all else.This client is a doctor so very well educated on the health side of life. This spurred an excellent conversation regarding how people from the outside perspective idealize the hot, toned or ripped physique. It is automatically correlated with health, vitality & strength. Where as you see the normal girl who claims to need to lose that last 5-10lbs, has a bit of cellulite & a touch of softness around her tummy as much less "healthy" than the muscle bound fitness model.Honestly look at these pictures & tell me without thinking who you see as the model of health?BodyfatYes I would probably have answered the same a few years ago. However as the good ole Dr. & Iwere chatting, we both acknowledged several observation from his years of bro style training. (PS yes I say bro style training for laughs, I have no issue with it what so ever..:)Anywho he discussed the women in there who lifted for 2 hours but had to sleep or use stimulants the rest of the day due to extreme fatigue from overtraining & under-eating. The number of beautiful buff bodies who were full of chemicals, stimulants, depressants & other enhancements to get any extra inch of muscle. To hell with the internal damage it caused! Speaking of the internal damage, I would say the majority of those super thin societally deemed gorgeous women lacked a menstrual cycle. As it's HEALHY for women to carry body fat in order have a functioning period, regulate body temperature, have shiny hair & nails, brains function & SOOOO many more important health markers.Now I am not just picking on body builders. As I know this is not the person most of us relate to. Instead how about I use myself as an example eh? Why not throw my own former habits under the bus...image1-2SO for YEARS I was consumed by "being healthy"...Now let's be real. By being healthy I REALLY meant being skinny. Nope not even "in shape" or "fit", I wanted to be skinny because that's what people praised. I lost a few pounds, people would notice & say "girl you look so skinny lately". In of course a super positive way! Obviously skinny gave me added value, acceptance & I assumed would mean being healthy. So I did so. I ran a ton, I ate a lot of lettuce, low fat granola bars, fat free yogurt, ate egg whites & hell even went vegetarian for a really long time. Did it work? On the outside yes. I did lose weight. In fact I got down to well under 100lbs! YAY I am now LESS weight in the world.On the inside however I was a hot mess. I had major digestive problems, became anemic, liver enzyme tests showed issues, hair fell out, low libido (sorry mom!), major mood issues, bad/discolored skin & lost my menstrual cycle that I have battled to regain going on 5 years!picstitchYes everyone (myself included) praised my new found healthy lifestyle because I was now skinny. SCORE! I had such good "willpower", "discipline" & "self control" which obviously made me superior to all those chubby people n the world who lacked my ability to eat less, move more & feel like garbage most of the day. Granted this was NEVER my thought process. I never once looked in the mirror & thought "damn girl you look hot". It was always "why do I still have cellulite here", "why don't my arms look toned" all while pinching every much needed ounce of body fat left on my frame. Yes, weight obviously correlates to happiness..Said no one ever..Yes that's a bit of personal info from me, which is super hard for me to admit to. Yet I know many of you can relate to these feelings. To looking at the folks running triathlons, doing crossfit 6x a week or now throwing around "strong is the new skinny". Because that's exactly what we need in life! Another BS way to evaluate our worth by our physical endeavors.Ok I have digressed on this post I will admit. However the purpose is to say health is something built from the inside. You can be visually small & be healthy OR very unhealthy. You can be overweight & be healthy OR not healthy. The hard part is understanding that we have to fix the inside before the outside. Or at least that's the longterm SUSTAINABLE way to do so.This is also a hard reality when it comes to fat loss. I often have to break it to people that if you have spent years mistreating your body, feeding it crap, depriving it of nutrients & never moving of the sofa. The chances of you convincing it to suddenly cooperate & lose weight within a short period of time because now you've decided to give it some love. Well that's unlikely to be a quick fix. It's the biggest frustration I encounter when working with the yo-yo dieting club. You can't starve, abuse & manipulate your body into health. It takes care, consistency, patience & even moderation in our approach.89de54dbb2c5e74d77e360cefcaf9f7fLong story short. Don't idolize others bodies as being healthy because the scale shows them a lower number then yours. The same goes that you shouldn't assume because someone doesn't hold a 6 pack or have the perfect runner's body that they are unhealthy! We all have different bodies, shapes, sizes & desires to reach for. Focus on health 1st! As I promise being a skinny person who is tired, grumpy, angry & totally self deprecating is NOT healthy living. Strive to feel vibrant, eat nutritiously, feel like you are honoring your hunger, not letting food rule your world, working out to make your body stronger & letting all of these endeavors enhance your life! Soapbox weekly blog complete...:)What signs do you look for in YOURSELF to show you are healthy, happy & living the life you are reaching for?

Top 6 Fitness Mistakes That Are Ruining Your Results

by Emma Hammond 0 comments

Fitness goals

There is nothing that makes me happier than walking in the gym to see a floor full of motivated people of all ages working out. I absolutely believe that showing up & doing SOMETHING is better then sitting on the sofa. However I also tend to see the same hard working face, walking through the same workout routine 5 days a week year after year. And guess what? They look exactly the same year after usually. Often still talking about wanting lose that last 10lbs or look more "toned" or whatever their goal may be.Frustrating right? It breaks my heart every time I see people being consistent, working what they perceive to be hard & putting in the time to no results. Ready to change that? Me too! First up, my Top 6 Common Mistakes I see gym goers making that are stealing their results. Ask yourself, is this you?5-Common-Fitness-Mistakes_2

1. Not Following a Program: You walk into the gym & blankly look around at the equipment like a lost puppy dog. With no rhyme or reason you do a few curls here, maybe try out that ab machine there, 10 reps no 20? After 20 minutes of a miscellaneous mash up "workout" you hit the door. Kudos for showing up but I can promise you there are more effective ways to use that 20 minutes. Decide what your #1 goal is & find a program that fits.

2. Never Changing Up Your Plan: Wait didn't you just say stick to a program? Well yes..but it is also important to mix it up in an smart & progressive way. I see the most consistent faces in the gym hitting the same 5 machines in a row or getting on the elliptical at the same pace for 45 minutes Monday through Friday. Your body adapts to that & is not going to push to make the changes you are seeking.

3. Not Challenging Yourself with Heavier Weights: Not to hate on the pretty pink dumbbells but if you are lifting a weight you could repeat all day, it's not heavy enough. Yet again, you have to challenge your body! You don't need to go to failure every time but as a general rule the last few reps should be VERY difficult. Please don't be afraid to get bulky, that is all diet & you will not wake up tomorrow looking like the Hulk. And if you do, try to get a better hairstyle..

4. Focusing on Small Muscle Groups Over Compound Movements: I understand that everyone enjoys the burn of some ab work, tricep dips & manly bicep curls. BUT those are small muscle groups that can be worked within then more beneficial compound movements. It's fine if you want to throw a few of those exercises in at the end but the bulk of your workout should be big muscle group movements like squats, pulling, pressing & hip hinging. Unless you are a professional body builder, please ditch the abs & arms day.

5. Too Much Cardio: I'm going to leave this response a little short because this isn't the post for a cardio rant BUT doing tons of cardio every week is not going to make you "toned", feel sexy naked, have a fast metabolism, bone health & so on. In fact, doing too much will make it impossible to achieve any of that. Yes even if your goal is fat loss! Doing some is fine but balance it with strength training & gear cardio towards interval workouts for you best body yet.

6. Constantly Searching for the "Perfect Plan": You try a plan for a week & say "I don't see any difference" so you jump ship & find a new one. Results takes time, embrace the process! There is NO perfect program & many different formats can work amazingly. Especially if you are a newbie gym goer. Find one that fits your goals, lifestyle, time availability & that you can stick to. Give it a try for MONTHS, not days or weeks! I promise it will pay off.

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Ok time to fess up...raise your hand if you are guilty of one or more of these? Don't worry I have absolutely been there! Here are a few action steps you can take today to change you workouts, fitness levels & mindset towards getting results:
  • Write down you TOP goal. Yes I know we all want to lose 10lbs, build muscle, run a race & so on but having too many goals leaves us spinning our wheels. Decide what is most important for the next 12 weeks to start an action program to get you there.
  • Talk to a Professional: even if you can't workout with a trainer, run coach or yoga instructor 3 days a week, we are here to help! Set up a consult to discuss what you'd like to accomplish, your health history, current activity level, lifestyle & let them guide you to a realistic plan you can feel good about.
  • Analyze Your Lifestyle: I don't know how many times new clients start with me & say I have to workout to lose these last 10lbs. When I ask about their diet, sleep & stress? It's a hot mess. As the phrase goes, you can't out exercise a bad diet but the same goes for stressful lifestyle factors. Total picture!
Ready to do it? Let's go! What's your TOP goal with your fitness routine??Healthy Balance LLCHave a question? Email me now - emma@healthybalancewithemma.comReady for more exclusive workouts, nutrition tips, recipes & more? Click HERE to get receive my weekly newsletter, full of helpful guides to get you the results you are working for!

How to cope (& struggle) through injury.

by Emma Hammond 0 comments

Fitness goals Injury Mindset Uncategorized

There is nothing like the feeling when you return to the gym after 6 weeks away! Almost 4 months ago I injured my back in the gym. What I hoped would be a few rest days turned into a several month long battle with my body. I tried to push through or work around the injury until reality hit. I wasn't getting any better, I hurt all day long & wasn't getting in effective workouts by pushing through pain. I had to get real with myself & commit to 6 weeks or longer out of the gym until I was 100% good to go. Sucks right!!!
Injuries are frustrating to deal with but I've learned to respect when my body needs a break. Even though I needed to take time away from lifting, I didn't just throw up my hands up & quit on my healthy habits. Instead I set new goals & learned a lot along the way.
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 Goals:
~ Keep a fitness routine that would help & not hurt my injury: I knew incorporating yoga would be beneficial to my back issue so I aimed for 3-4x a week. I went above & beyond most weeks, averaging 5-6 sessions! I saw my physical & mental practice improve greatly & absolutely plan to maintain a 2-3x a week practice moving forward. I also ran a bit more & built back up to 8 miles. I enjoyed a race with friends which I hadn't done in over 3 years which kept me challenged without the gym. I did see notice a bit of muscle loss probably due to the endurance training but I accepted that would be the result. Nothing that can't be rebuilt! image2
~ Keep my nutrition in check: when our activity levels change our nutrition may need to adjust as well. However I did NOT go into diet mode out of fear of gaining weight. Yes that was my natural instinct at first but I remembered that's not the best plan for my goals. I wanted to retain as much muscle as possible so I just sought to maintain my weight & support the recovery process. I simply cut out that pre or post workout snack & payed more attention to my hunger levels. They naturally went down because I wasn't exercising as strenuously so it was just a matter of honoring my instincts.
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~ Keep my happiness high: my number one reason for working out is because I enjoy it. It keeps my mood boosted, energy high & attitude positive. The first week off I noticed I was moody, grumpy & having a bit of a pity party. That wasn't going to magically heal my back or make the time fly by faster. So I started a gratitude journal, which I wrote in every morning & evening. I also made sure to talk to my husband when I was feeling down. Instead of bottling it up, it helped to talk through my feelings to better understand how to work on my mindset. My last mindset key was to keep it all in perspective. I was allowed to be upset but fitness is just one part of me. I am MORE than my workout routine, number on the scale, lbs I can lift, miles I can run & any other way we measure ourselves.
Ever had to deal with an injury & struggled through the process?

Life Lately in Food, Fitness & Seasonal Change.

by Emma Hammond 0 comments

Fitness goals Habits Nutrition Recap Recipes Uncategorized Workouts

fallThe fall season is finally creeping into the hot & humid weather. Well technically it is fall, but the 91 degree heat index today doesn't quite make it feel like a crisp fall day. Such a tease after a few days of cooler temperatures! Either way those cool days flipped a switch in my internal seasonal clock. My taste buds are leaning towards hearty warm foods over cold salads, my desired forms of exercise is beginning to shift & even my sleep clock feels a bit different. I love this change & fully embrace mixing up the normal routine depending on what feels natural given the time of year. We all need a bit of change from time to time! What does that mean for my food, fitness & general routine? Here is a snippet of life lately in food, fitness & seasonal change.foodfitnessFood:While I am still enjoying salads, they are now being filled with warmer toppings & heartier ingredients. Roasted starchy vegetables such as roasted winter squash varieties, sweet potato & beets have been thrown in the mix. I've swapped out the crisper romaine & spring mix for heartier arugula, kale & spinach as my salad bases. This time of year also means swapping out berries for delicious apples or pears. These also make a delicious addition to the daily salad.

Beets, apple, walnuts, goat cheese, caramelized onion & roasted turkey.

Beets, apple, walnuts, goat cheese, caramelized onion & roasted turkey.

The crockpot has also been a mainstay on the counter top. As nothing beats a slow roasted piece of meat, a delicious chunky stew or flavorful thick soup to come home to on a fall evening. These main meals have also been accompanied by warmer sides such as risotto, quinoa, roasted fall vegetables & sweet potatoes.
Herb roasted pork loin, mushroom & sage risotto, roasted parsnips & carrots, salad with pear & goat cheese.

Herb roasted pork loin, mushroom & sage risotto, roasted parsnips & carrots, salad with pear & goat cheese.

Breakfast has also been mixed up a bit. During summer months I tend to embrace cold foods such as hard boiled eggs, cold leftovers (weird I know), yogurt bowls & smoothies. Lately I cannot get enough eggs in every form. Oatmeal has made a comeback in addition to savory bacon & breakfast scrambles.
Eggs over sauteed breakfast chicken sausage & kale. Plus a side of plantains cooked in coconut oil.

Eggs over sauteed breakfast chicken sausage & kale. Plus a side of plantains cooked in coconut oil.

As I look at how my intake has changed, I absolutely notice trends. The top being my carbohydrate consumption has increased in the form of oatmeal, apples over berries, winter squash over summer varieties, rice instead of green beans & more. But wait...does that mean I'm going to add the dreaded winter weight many gain during hibernation? As long as I am mindful of my consumption, absolutely not! In fact I've found my body responds well to switching it up from season to season. My body is often much smarter than me when I bother to listen. Without consciously thinking about it, the temperatures decrease & my desire to get outdoors to run increased. At the same time my body started gearing me towards a slightly higher carbohydrate intake to balance the new addition of cardio to my routine. Smart right? Instead of worrying about keeping tight control over my fall food changes, I will simply make sure I still get in balanced meals full of protein, healthy fats, lots of vegetables & whole food carbohydrates.Fitness:As mentioned I have suddenly had the running bug pop out of nowhere & grab hold tightly. Now that it's not 1,000 degrees outdoors I am enjoying increasing my mileage while being smart about doing so gradually. I have battled my fair share of running injuries from stress fractures to severe tendinitis. Many a tear has been shed after having to bow out of races I signed up for or waving goodbye to my husband as he ran with our running group. This time around I am taking it slow, focusing on having fun & have no lofty goals to run a big race anytime soon. No easy task for me & something I keep having to remind myself of. My instinct is to jump from my first 5K distance in 3 years to "hey maybe i'll run a 1/2 marathon in a month". Seriously Emma... Anywho I am putting some limitations on the distance for now & just enjoying the fresh air & fun with friends.
Beautiful morning group run by the river.

Beautiful morning group run by the river.

Another reason I have no desire to overdo the mileage is because I love lifting heavy things. That has not & will not change. What has changed is my frequency, program & intensity. In the past I have made the mistake of picking up a new activity such as running & simply adding it to my already full workout schedule. Previously I was lifting 5-6 days a week, 2x HIIT workouts & a day of power yoga. If I tried to maintain that routine & added 3 days a week of running in I can guarantee over training or injury would occur. This time around I am sticking with 3 days of total body lifting, 3 days of running & 1 day gentle yoga. My runs also vary from a medium distance steady state run, a sprint day & a long run over the weekend. If I ever have a week I feel as though I'm under recovering, one of these will be the first to go!
Front squats for fun!

Front squats for fun!

Yoga is also become a mandatory addition & no longer an "if I feel like it" once a month activity. I have to stretch frequently & move my body in more restorative ways. I finally got real & admitted it doesn't happen as much as needed alone. Sunday is yoga day & I still take time each night to improve flexibility & mobility during the week. If you are going to ask your body to work hard, it's a must to take time for self care. Another lesson learned through multiple mistakes.
foamroll

Foam rolling those hard working legs.

So that's a little update about life in my world. I also love using this time of year to reevaluate goals you might have set at the beginning of the year. Many make those new years resolution only to never look at them after a few weeks. Take a few minutes & consider how you have or haven't progressed towards those goals. Any you can check off? Still want to nail before the end of the year? Or may have taken a backseat or a total change in direction? That's ok no matter where you stand! It's a great opportunity to change with the season & decide an intention for these last few months of the year.Happy Fall! Any fall activities or recipes you are excited to transition into?

Getting Back on Track with Ease – Post Special Occasion

by Emma Hammond 0 comments

Fitness goals Habits Mindset Nutrition Uncategorized

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Red velvet wedding cake - amazingly delicious one year later!

I was fortunate enough to enjoy a wonderful long weekend away with the husband to celebrate our one year wedding anniversary. In all honesty the weekend included zero formal exercise, all meals eaten out & many glasses of delicious wine. Plus a side of wedding cake with champagne to end the weekend right.I went into the weekend making a decision to skip my normal hotel gym workouts & to not over analyze how to make every meal perfectly balanced. I wanted to relax, let my body rest & enjoy the special occasion with my husband. As much as I like to strive for that perfect balance, it just doesn’t always happen. I am 100% ok with that! In fact I still ate lots of nutrient dense foods, walked all about Atlanta & most importantly enjoyed the moments without stress or guilt around every little decision.
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A much needed night out at a hilarious murder mystery dinner theater.

As with most overly indulgent trips, when I arrived back home the mind games of guilt still kicked in regardless of making a mindful decision to relax for a couple days. My pants felt a little tight, I felt a little less fit & my stomach was rather unhappy with some of my food decisions. The negative self talk crept back in & less than kind thoughts began swirling in my head about my body. In the past, after returning from a vacation such as this one I would have been angry at myself about the bites of desserts I partook in. I would have pinched the imaginary added fat that magically popped up overnight on those love handles & vowed to fit in punishing workouts while eating nothing but lettuce for the next week to make up for my unacceptable behaviors. Which usually lasted a few days until it backfired with an eating binge confounded with a week long bad mood. How unrealistic as well as unnecessarily cruel to my body right?NegativeSelfTalkAll that sounds pretty dramatic & ultimately futile. It's taken YEARS of changing those behaviors & my mindset but progress has been made. As I'm a work in progress like everyone else & am certainly not immune to my emotions being in conflict with what my brain knows. This is how things have changed these days. Instead of the emotional freak out I took a deep breath & said “ok, back to normal today”. These are a few of my must do's to get back on track after a vacation:1. ADDING healthy additions back into my daily routine. I focused on getting back to my normal water intake, centering meals around colorful veggies & including quality protein at every meal. I quickly felt that eating out bloat & newly added sugar cravings subside as I re-balanced my diet.
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Give me all the veggies!

2. EASING back into my normal workout routine. A few years ago I would have immediately dragged myself to the gym as soon as I rolled back into town. This trip I knew I was tired & had a 14 hour work day ahead of me. Instead I skipped the workout, got organized for the week, prepped healthy food & made sure to sleep. I eased back into a normal workout week with my regular rest days included. I really tried to listen to my body & probably went a bit lighter in my first few sessions to not overdo it. By Friday I had a killer workout & felt back to my usual badass self.
A little more stretch & a little less intensity is ok sometimes!

A little more stretch & a little less intensity is ok sometimes!

3. SLEEP SLEEP SLEEP was on the agenda during the week. I always need a vacation once I arrive home from my vacation & normally come home feeling a bit rundown. I got into bed a bit earlier & even snuck in a nap or two when I had the opportunity. Again focusing on being kind to my body instead of punishing is the key.
Nothing like a sleepy puppy after a weekend with the grandparents.

Nothing like a sleepy puppy after a weekend with the grandparents.

4. SAY NO TO SUGAR is also a must do for me upon returning. I don't eat a lot of added sugar items anyway but on a weekend away there was dessert on multiple occasions. This is a trigger food for me so once I get back home I bow out of those extra treats I often eat in moderation. Not forever, but I try to reach for fruit instead of the chocolate I might usually choose or a kombucha instead of a glass of wine.
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Dialing back the sweets that trigger those cravings.

5. STAY AWAY FROM THE SCALE is another must do for ME. Everyone is different & I actually don't weigh myself on a regular basis. It causes me unnecessary stress so why bother. Reality is I know when I'm living according to my health goals by what I put on my plate. Also how my clothes fit tells me when it's time to readjust. Yet occasionally I'll have that curious "how much damage did I do" temptation to hop on post-vacation. All it ever does is make me feel bad about myself & jump on the deprivation bandwagon. So for me personally, I give myself a week or two to get back to normal before I care to ask the scale how I should feel about myself that day.Here it is a week later & I feel happy, back to normal physically & in my everyday balanced nutritious routine. For me, it all started with a bit of kindness, trusting my ability to get back to healthy habits & a bit of fake it til you make it positive self talk. Plus a lot of repetition along the way!How do you take care of yourself post-special occasion celebration? 

Top 5 Training Mistakes & Tips for Effective Workouts

by Emma Hammond 0 comments

Fitness Workouts

TipsEvery single person that has stepped foot in a gym was a newbie at one time or another. Heck even Arnold Schwarzenegger experienced his first time lifting a weight & putting it back down without knowing what to do next. It can absolutely be intimidating & unfortunately I see a large portion of the population not getting the most bang for their gym time buck. There is nothing I hate more than seeing someone working hard or hearing about the hours spent without seeing any results. Hard work & commitment should pay off right?

Top 5 Training Tips for Effective Workouts

Common-Gym-Mistakes1. Focus on Compound Movements: unless you spend 7 days a week in the gym, it's not the best use of time to spend a significant portion of your workout doing bicep curls or tricep kickbacks. Ask my clients how many arm or ab days we've had? Answer is none! This is pretty universal whether you are looking to lose fat or gain muscle. Start with the full body movements such as squats, hip hinges, rows & presses. If you have extra time & want to throw in a few curls at the end, by all means feel free. But if you are like most people with a limited workout window, get in the big moves for the most results.bicep-curl_02. Total Body Workouts Over Split Routines: Body part split programs that are broken down into chest, leg & arm days are popular among the body building world. People like the feeling of going in & smashing their legs to "feel the burn". Yet muscle burn doesn't equate to calorie burn or muscle built. Another side effect of working one muscle to fatigue is creating a great deal of soreness. This intense discomfort may linger for days, causing you to skip the next few gym sessions or a planned run. If you are planning to spend 3-4 days a week lifting weights, I would recommend using a total body program for beginners or an upper/lower split for intermediate athletes. Hit the big moves with a day of rest in between. This will work each movement pattern multiple times a week for plenty of stimulus. You will also get better at each lift by performing them more frequently. All while achieving amazing results!20130424153625-back-squat-35-of-your-body-weight3. Never Progressing in Weight or Repetitions: I often see the same gym goers doing the same workout, year in & year out. They never change aesthetically because they stop challenging their bodies. The body is amazing in it's ability to adapt to whatever we throw at it. It adjusts to doing the same repetitions at the same weight & has no reason to work harder to produce change unless we push it to. Progressive overload is the name of the game in order to see continued results! Challenge your body & don't just go through the motions mindlessly. If you are spending the time, you might as well make it count for something right?Fat-Guy-with-Pink-Dumbbell4. Going in Without a Plan: Glance around any gym & you will find many a person wandering from machine to dumbbell. A few reps here & a set there before sneaking out the door, hoping to not be noticed. Serious kudos for showing up & giving it a go! That is often the hardest part & most important first step. However not having some sort of plan usually ends up in a relatively random workout that won't really do the trick. Plus having a guide to follow will build your confidence & give you focus. Whether it's a basic online program or better yet custom built by a trainer. Having a to do list for the day is a great start to becoming an experienced lifter.il_fullxfull.381514743_63r75. Not Tracking Workouts: Playing guessing games with what exercises you did last week at what weight is no way to spend you gym day! Heck I sure can't remember exactly how much weight, sets or repetitions I did 2 hours ago! Much less 2 weeks ago. Keep a simple journal on paper or an app on your phone to track your workouts. This goes along with having a plan & progressing over time. Looking at your journal will guide you to increasing your efforts week to week. It's also very motivating to see how much stronger you've gotten over time. Not all victories have to be on the scale!I can tell you that I've absolutely been there, done that with most of these gym offenses when I started out. The mainstream magazines & online articles don't help to clear up the confusion either. Their job is to sell magazines & a catchy cover of "5 exercises for sexy abs" is more appealing to our instant gratification instincts than "a simple systematic 3 day a week workout". However I don't want anyone to give up on strength training or waste countless hours of the day following bad advice.a35224d27293b74a4bf73ef7915693d0What's been your personal gym faux pas you've learned from?Have questions or interested in a custom plan? Email me: emma@healthybalancewithemma.com.Happy lifting! 

All or Nothing vs Baby Steps..Which to Choose?

by Emma Hammond 0 comments

Fitness goals Habits Mindset Nutrition Uncategorized

All-or-NothingThe day has come in which you've decided enough is enough, it's time to get healthy. Monday morning starts day one of the new you!You clean out the pantry, throw out the donuts, set your alarm for 5am spin class & you are ready to go! This new diet is going to be awesome & in a month you'll drop all the weight gained over the past few years.You even have your first cheat meal planned out & can't wait to dive into a juicy burger, fries & soda. You can deal with this temporary healthy eating for just a month right?.....funny-fat-pug-dog-chair-pizza-diet-starts-next-week-picsIn full disclosure I have absolutely said all those things, made the proclamations & thrown out all the junk food. I've promised to hit the gym every day until a given date, no excuses allowed! Guess what? It usually lasted until around noon on Monday when my belly started growling & I rationalized eating a greasy sandwich because "I worked out this morning". I can truly say this approach never once worked for me. Even if I did stick to a perfectly crafted plan, the second I was stuck in a social situation or unplanned circumstance, it became all or nothing. I usually went all in with the standard mindset of "well I already blew my diet, so might as well eat all the food".Either I ate the cheese dip appetizer, enchiladas & margarita or I would sip on water & politely pretend to not be hungry. Funny how there isn't an in between allowed. Well after years of feeling like a failure I decided to try something new. What could it hurt?Don't get me wrong, there are a few people that can flip the switch on bad habits & truly overhaul their lifestyle. Yet I'd say 9 out of 10 times that isn't the case & most people succeed by taking baby steps over an extended amount of time. If you have been struggling with healthy eating (whatever that definition may mean to you) or exercise for health these are a few tips to making small changes for long term results.129056345541848020_WHXyHnTv_c1. Mindset: I really believe mindset is the biggest piece to the puzzle. You can buy all the clean food, hire a trainer & check off all the boxes on the way to skinny. However if your goals aren't internally motivated by something more than skinny jeans, it's unlikely you'll sustain the change. Instead take a hard look at:

  • Why it's so important to you to make a lifestyle change: low energy, can't play with kids, getting sick often, feeling uncomfortable in your own skin or preventative health? Find what matters in the big picture of life as opposed to short term aesthetics. Write that down to remind yourself when times get hard & motivation is low.
  • How long did it take you to put on weight or lose fitness capacity: taking a look at how you got here in order to set up realistic expectations for goals along the way. If you don't deep down believe you can achieve a goal that you set too high, you will make a half-hearted attempt before giving it up.
  • What are the barriers to success you've encountered in previous attempts: so you've tried this diet thing before & tripped over the same stumbling blocks. Learn from that!! It's the best thing we can get out of our failures is to learn so we don't repeat. Figure out what keeps getting in the way of your much deserved healthy & happiness in order to work on ways to overcome.
All-or-Nothing-0082. Nutrition: Our food choices are based around a wide array of factors. From how we were raised, what we have access to, who we surround ourselves with, work schedules, personal preferences etc etc. This is why I don't give one size fits all meal plans, everyone is completely different! Instead figure out small weekly changes you can make that are upgrades. Instead of what you need to take out of your diet, look at what you can add. It's a start & much better attitude then taking all your favorites away with nothing to replace them with. Where to start? Here are a few tips I have to making small dietary changes for long term success:
  • Don't label foods as good or bad, or completely off limits for life. As soon as we give food that kind of power it consumes us. Instead decide you are CHOOSING not to eat a few foods for now, as they are not going to help you achieve your goals. Again go back to the internal reasons such as "eating this isn't going to allow me to chase my kids around the park without huffing & puffing". Not "I'm not allowed to eat this because I'm on a diet". See the difference? None of your favorite foods are being ripped off the shelves forever, take away the desperation & know they are always there for a better time in your journey.
  • Do stick to foods you already eat, enjoy & know how to prepare. I'm not saying don't try new foods! Of course you should for a multitude of reasons. However start with simplicity. Don't plan to cook a fancy kale dish with 20 ingredients when you know you don't have time or the interest in lots of cooking. Instead make simple swaps to your current diet & incorporate new methods over time. Currently eating a burger with fries every night? Try simply dropping the bun to start with. Like broccoli & eat it frequently already? Sub the fries for a vegetable you enjoy. Small changes add up! Once you start to succeed you'll feel more than capable of additional upgrade.
  • Make quantifiable goals, not general statements. For example with a client last week I asked what his nutrition goal was for an upcoming business trip? He said to drink less beer. I simply replied that's a great goal, how much beer is "less"? He was slightly disgruntled with having to give an actual number but it's really important. We can always justify "less" or i'll do "better". But what does that actually mean? As I can certainly rationalize that I drank less wine then I did at that one dinner which I don't remember much of the evening... Yea that doesn't mean I succeeded in my goal.
Start-where-you-are-1024x7163. Fitness: Obviously as a personal trainer I'm going to point out the importance of fitness in everyone's life. And yes, I have a personal & professional passion for lifting weights. I've read, seen & experienced the benefits. However I am also a big advocate of starting where you are, doing what you enjoy & just moving more in order to take advantage of the mood boosting benefits! In fact I actually have found that the extreme fitness trends are not all that beneficial to the majority of people looking for general health & happiness. Finding easy ways to get moving, build habits & boost confidence is where to begin:
  • Walk more. Yep this one is direct. I have so many people tell me walking doesn't matter much & isn't strenuous enough to make a big difference. Well that is completely wrong my friends. Daily movement can make a huge difference! If you are out of shape then that 30 minutes a day of walking is the perfect place to start.
  • Try something new! Don't like running? Stop forcing it! You may not be enthusiastic about starting a fitness routine when you are out of shape or are feeling self conscience about your body. However there are so many different ways to get fit that I encourage everyone to try new activities. Hell dance in the living room for 20 minutes a day if that makes you happy & raises your heart rate. It's a start!!
  • Schedule fitness like it's any other appointment. Again don't just say I'll exercise "more". What does that mean. Start with realistic goals of a few days a week, write it on your calendar or Google whatever & check it off when accomplished. We set aside time for work, kids, laundry, tv & so much other daily tasks yet aren't prioritizing health that allows us to do those things. Stop letting exercise be an if I have time endeavor. Your too important for that!
One of my favorite quotes is still Albert Einstein's definition of insanity being "doing the same behaviors over & over again & expecting different results". Regarding health & fitness we spend so much time trying to repeat the same styles of diets, workout programs & habit based changes. We get so stuck in the one size fits all approach that we don't slow down enough to say this isn't working for ME, why & what can I do differently to better reach my goals. Life isn't black or white, all or nothing, good or bad or fail or succeed. Find a middle ground that works for you, a years worth of small changes can lead to a lifetime of healthy habits.Do you struggle with the all or nothing approach to healthy living?

All About That Base…Booty Exercises For All!

by Emma Hammond 0 comments

Fitness Uncategorized Workouts

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.

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Clamshell

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.

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Banded Lateral Walk

Banded Quadrupled Donkey Kick - Focus on squeezing that glute with a pause at the top of the motion before bringing the leg back down.

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Banded Donkey Kicks

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.

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Banded Glute Bridge

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.

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Floor Barbell Bridge

Barbell Hip Thrust - My Favorite!

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Single Leg Bridge - can be done as hip thrust on bench.

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!!

Hyperextensions

Hyperextension 45 Degrees

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.

Single-leg-deadlift

Single Leg Deadlift

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Kettlebell Deadlift

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Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift

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.

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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?