Legs and thigh workouts

Its Legs and Butt Day TODAY!

So get your ass off the couch and try some of these moves I’m doing to get my legs toned, inner flab gone and a nice tight booty!

1. Kick backs. On the Floor on all floors, lift your one leg out and kick back. You can do this in one motion or in pulses. Alternate and do both legs, do 3 sets of 10-20 reps each side.

2. Lateral squat/side step. Using a weight or not, from standing position take a step to the side and keep knee bent with the other leg straight. Hold for 10 seconds. Return to standing position. Alternate with each side, do 3 sets of 10-20 reps each side.

3. Dumbbell Deadlift. Holding dumbbells in front of your body touching your toes, pull up to standing position. Do 3 sets of 10-20 reps each.
4. Starfish. I don’t know what these are called, but it makes me feel like I am a starfish! From standing position with legs apart, take your left arm and bend over and touch your right toe. Alternate with each side, do 3 sets of 10-20 reps each side.
5. Squat and forward kick. From standing position, hands behind your head, squat, as you stand up kick your one leg out in front of you. Return to standing position. Alternate with each side, do 3 sets of 10-20 reps each side.
6. Knee ups. Like a ninja, from standing position lift your knee up as high as you can, you can do it lift from front, or push your leg out slightly to the side when you left up to help tone those inner thighs. Alternate with each side, do 3 sets of 10-20 reps each side.

7. Lying down kick backs. With you lying on your tummy, place a weight in between your feet and lift up. You can do this in one motion or in pulses. Alternate and do both legs, do 3 sets of 10-20 reps each side.

8. Butt raises. Lying on your back, and knees bent, raise your butt and back with shoulders still on the ground. Pinch your butt in and  hold for 10 seconds. You can do this in one motion or in pulses. Alternate and do both legs, do 3 sets of 10-20 reps each side.
9. Leg extension butt raises. Same as above but with one leg raised. Alternate and do both legs, do 3 sets of 10-20 reps each side.
Right, so I hope you are sweating after this session and that in a few days you feel the burn of your muscles tightening and firming up. Here’s to a great leg day and onto having great body!

Can you do a proper squat?

Another great exercise you can do with your own body-weight is doing a squat. The benefits are to work thighs and butt. But most people don’t know how to do a proper squat, which can cause serious injuries.  Often you tend to bend your knees so that they go over your toes and your butt drops, in some cases you end up lifting your heels up. This is totally incorrect. 

I got these instructions from a few helpful websites on how to do the very best body-weight squat; follow these simple instructions:

1. Stand with your feet shoulder with apart, with hips stacked over knees and knees over ankles.
2. Put your arms straight out in front of you
3. Bend your knees and stick your butt out, leaning the top half of your body (waist up) forward. The key is to imagine you are sitting back in an imaginary chair.
4. Be sure to keep your knees behind your toes the entire time. 
5. Stick your chest out and look straight ahead so that you back remains straight.
6. Squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor or you can try dip lower to the point where you can’t keep your back straight.
7. Dig in your heels to return to standing position and repeat.
*Tip: Try doing this in front a mirror to watch that your technique is correct.

Start doing these basic body-weight squats, when you first start you may not be able to do a full squat (getting your thighs parallel to the floor) this is due to lack of strength in your core, but with practice you will get there. Once perfected there are various squats you can do, as well as adding additional weights. We will all get there in time, the key is to practice, practice and keep your goals in mind.


Building your Confidence

The biggest problem holding me back, is me. I have a very low self esteem, combined with a negative self image, I sometimes lack confidence and so very often I don’t seem to vocalise my feelings, or feel like I am heard by my peers, in work and in social surroundings.

Having acknowledged this is the first step in my journey to building up my confidence. The second step was writing it down and recognising that its holding me back, thus the creation of this blog was in some ways my strategy to overcome my personal issues and help me to move forward to happier me.

By posting my honest opinions about myself, my life, my sadness, it has pushed me to step out of my comfort zone and really be honest with myself and everyone I care about, still in a space environment behind a computer screen. Allowing my friends and family to read about my feelings, I suppose the next step would be to actually tell them out loud, but for me, this is a huge task and something I will need to work towards in the future.

With me opening up to my feelings, thoughts, and opinions I sometimes explain myself in a terrible fashion. Because I am not use to actually saying how I feel I generally react either extremely defensively or aggressively – which then does not help my cause to have myself heard. I am however learning from these situations. Real practice in these situations helps me better myself and improve my confidence so that the next time I am faced with a similar situation I am better prepared on how to best respond.

While on this journey of self discovery I need to be very critical of how I react and how I communicate, but avoid being critical and hard on myself. After all, harsh self judgement is unproductive to my cause.

Perfecting the lunge

When I was in high school the word “lunge” was referred to as kissing a guy/girl.. pulling them close for a smooch – i.e lunging. Unfortunately, this is not what I am referring to.

Lunges can be done anywhere and the effects can be seen in no time, in the form of shapely, toned legs and butt. If you’re planning on incorporating lunges into your routine, however, make sure you’re not doing more harm than good.

It is essential to learn how to do a perfect lunge, once you have perfected this, you can really master all forms of lunges (the exercise I mean),  you also don’t put unwanted strain on your joints. Here’s how to perfect your form.
First off, stand tall with your feet facing forward and together and your weight in the middle of your feet. Put your arms straight at your sides and then bend your elbows and put your hands on your hips. Make sure your head is centered and you’re not putting any strain on your neck. Focus on a point in directly in front of you if that helps. This is your starting position. Now you are ready to lunge.
1. Choose one leg and step forward about one to two feet. (The taller you are, the further forward you should go, but don’t go so far that you feel you are going to fall over.)
2. Begin bending your front knee until it is over the top of the foot. Never extend it beyond the toes.
3. As you bend this knee, lift the heel of the opposite leg. The knee will be forced to bend as you lunge down.
4. Stop when both knees are at a 90 degree angle with the floor.
5. Shift all of your weight to the balls of your feet, concentrating on your toes. (If you need to step forward more to make this happen without leaning that’s fine.)
6. Finally, pull your body back up to the starting position.
You can either leave your foot extended forward and repeat the exercise again or switch to the other leg. Repeating it several times on the same leg is the usual practice. Just make sure to use your muscles, not momentum.
Remember to breathe when you lunge. Holding your breath during the exercise will only make it harder and reduce the effectiveness. Exhale as you lunge down and inhale when you come back up.

Once you have perfected the standard forward/backward lunges, you can add this twist to the side and incorporate weights to further work on strengthening your core with lunges:

Dieting to lose weight

Everything in moderation, that’s why my mum has always said. I have come from a family where my mum has always cooked and prepared healthy meals, we never really had sweets or junk food in the house, and if we did it was generally because my mum had baked (she is a great baker) but even then we were taught self control and always had to ask if we could eat something sweet.

I have always had a sweet tooth, my cravings get really bad sometimes, but I am learning to try control these urges. I realise now that all the work I put in at the gym is for a goal of getting fit and healthy, and my diet needs to be a part of this too.

So how can you “diet” or moderate your eating? Here are some ideas:

1. Plan ahead, plan your shopping list and stick to it! Get into the store and out without buying things that weren’t on your list in the first place.
2. Be disciplined. You need to make real changes to change your habits and behaviours. To do this you need will power and determination, however if you fail, “keep calm and carry on”.

3. Portion control, watch how much you dish up, try keep it small.
4. Create an environment for success. Keep chips and sweets out of your house and you wont be so tempted to dive into them.

5. Limit booze. Eish. This one is hard, red wine was made for winter.
6. Don’t skip meals. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Get into a routine and stick to it.
7. Limit caffeine. Don’t drink kilojoules, instead of coffee and regular tea drink rooibos or green tea. I honestly hate both so I’d rather skip it all together!
8. Drink lots of water!!!
9. Don’t add salt. This is a toughy for me – more stats and facts to follow on the impact of salt in your diet in another post!
10. Keep a food journal. Ok, I have tried this, but who has time. The benefit of writing down what you eat is then its on paper and you can go back and track what you eat.
11. Get friends on board and join you on your healthy eating journey!
12. Sit, relax and savour the flavour. if you eat slower you can enjoy every bite! 

Learning to be Happy

I have said this before but this blog has really inspired me to look deep within myself and to try my very best to reaching my goals. One of my goals is to get happy, I generally am a happy person, but what I have realised is that I sometimes tend to focus on all the negative around me, without trying to be positive, thus resulting in my lack of happiness.

Like Oprah would say, “The secret is in Positive Thinking”. The power of positive thinking is overwhelming actually. The more you feel sad the more you start thinking the whole world is about to end. So if you learn to change the way you think, you can change the way you feel. I found these ideas online, some are just plain unrealistic, let me know what you think:

1. Repeat a peaceful, calming word whilst sitting quietly somewhere . Close your eyes and cast away negative thoughts, focusing only on repeating the word and your breathing. Meditation has some great benefits, making time for it is another thing all together. I find doing this in the shower sometimes helps to clear my head. It is also a great start to your day once you have calmed yourself and gets you ready for the day ahead.

2. Have a daily happy hour. This one got me excited, I thought of a glass of wine, or half priced cocktails, YAY! But what this really is referring to is devote time in your day to think about your life in a positive way, all the things you have enjoyed about your life, and all the things you plan to enjoy in your future. I still think this one can be done with a glass of wine in hand. Low kilojoule wine, of course.

3. Swap negative thinking to positive. The minute you catch yourself going into a negative space, ask yourself if its really true, do you believe it to be true, is there another way of looking at this? The problem I have with this is that I generally get so caught up in the moment, that I can’t really see reason, or think of something positive. So this, for me, is perhaps where I need to work on the most.

4. Watch what you say. This is what I do often, I mask my negative thoughts (generally about myself) under the guise of humour. Putting myself down in humour, makes everyone laugh except deep down makes me feel really sad. What you say is what your unconscious mind hears and builds a negative mindset. The key here is to think about your responses to regular questions (i.e how are you? how is work?) and finding an answer that is positive.

Its been 10 days since my last confession…

Its been awhile since I last posted, I have been doing a lot of research and reading up on how to get this amazingly fabulous body looking even more amazing and fabulous… not to mention how to get my thoughts and feelings happy and healthy too.

My plan was to post last week, but I was then off to Cape Town for work and for some reason I couldn’t get my posts out over my tablet. I stayed at a beautiful place in camps bay and got a good run in along the paving along the beach… I have always claimed I am not a beach girl, but running next to the beach – it cant be beaten! Was amazing and I improved my time considerably – I think due to my beautiful surroundings. 
Then the whole world seemed to turn against me. I worked an event in Cape Town, so whole of Thursday to Sunday including evenings I worked flat out – I had no time to work out or get another run in. I lost my phone after dinner with work colleagues after I got into a cab I think my phone fell out of my jacket pocket. That was really the cherry on the top. It felt like no matter what I tried to do EVERYTHING was against me. Then I got back to Jozi on Monday, straight into meetings at work, then ran around getting my sim swopped and borrowed a friends old cell… all the admin and drama!
Needless to say my diet, exercise and mental health regime has gone right out the window. I feel so unmotivated, almost like “what is the point”? How could I have thought that one tiny blog and writing down my feelings could make me feel better, could make me stick to my goals??
And that’s when I realised the truth. If I am going to let negative energy consume me, then negative consequences are sure to follow. So tomorrow I start again. I get back on track and I start again. I do not, will not, GIVE UP on ME!