what you focus on you create more of
Here is the basic crunch. Lay down and pull your belly button to your spine so that your lower back is flat on the floor. Knees are bent, feet hip width apart and close to your butt. Hands are behind the head, or fingertips at temples. Keep your chin off your chest and your elbows back. Use your core to lift your chest, keeping your neck neutral. Look between your knees and exhale on the exertion.
The standing crunch is a good one for people who don't want to lay down or are scared of pulling on their neck. Stand with feet hip-width apart and fingertips at temples. Neck is neutral. Each time you bring your knee up, pull your belly in to contract your abdominals.
This gif is actually a row with a kickback. The tricep is activated when the arm is extended behind. I will make another video of only the kickback, but this one will suffice for now. You will get the benefit of working the latissimus dorsi (lats) if you follow this whole movement.
Tip from the hip, core engaged, knees slightly bent. Support yourself high up on leg (never push on the knee!) or you can hold on to a bench or something similar. Beginning at hip, extend arm behind, keeping elbow soft. Squeeze at the top of the movement, and bring weight back to hip. Avoid rocking weight back and forth, using momentum. Control the movement-- this means probably using a lighter weight than you think you need.
Heels under hips, knees slightly bent. Engage your core to protect your lower back. Elbows in, biceps by ears. Lower the weight to the base of the neck and straighten the arm back up toward the ceiling, again keeping elbows soft. As you get tired, your elbows will flare. Take breaks when you need them, and keep the weight light at first.
There are various ways to do a tricep dip, and I will add to this as we go.
To set up, come down to the floor, bend your knees and bring your feet close to your butt. Hands are under shoulders, with fingers pointing towards your heels. Squeeze shoulder blades gently to lift chest. Bend elbows and then straighten (not all the way!) to lift hips.
It is difficult for some people to feel this in their triceps. If you can't feel it, it probably means that you are simply lifting and lowering your hips instead of using your triceps to do so. It may help to do the modified version on the left-- bend and straighten the arms, keeping elbows moving straight back, not flaring out. Be really careful with this one-- if you have any shoulder injury or pain, you want to skip the dips.
Neck neutral. Shoulders away from ears. Little pinch in the shoulder blades to keep chest up. Elbows close to side. Knees slightly bent, never locked out. Heels under hips. Core engaged. Squeeze as you lift and rotate the weight, and take your time on the way down as you rotate again. There is as much work to do on the way down as on the way up. Remember to breathe on the exertion. (Don't hold your breath.)
Neck neutral. Shoulders away from ears. Little pinch in the shoulder blades to keep chest up. Elbows close to side. Knees slightly bent, never locked out. Heels under hips, core engaged,. This time (hammer time!), you will keep the weights vertical, with knuckles always facing in towards your body. Squeeze as you lift the weight, and take your time on the way down. There is as much work to do on the way down as on the way up. Remember to breathe on the exertion. (Don't hold your breath.)
This one is going to feel a bit more challenging! Sit with knees outside of hips. Core engaged. Chest up, elbow resting on thigh. Begin with arm extended towards the floor and squeeze bicep on the way up. Resist on the way down. Take your time!
Feet just outside hips. Butt back, chest up. Knees behind toes. Squeeze glutes on the way up. Look down once in a while to see if you can see your shoelaces. If you can't, push hips back to bring your knees behind your toes. Keep knees soft-- do not lock them out.
Feet wide. Butt back, knees behind toes. Knees tracking in line with toes. If you can't see your shoelaces, push hips back further. Really press your feet into the floor, activating your whole leg. Squeeze glutes on the way up. Keep knees soft-- do not lock them out.
Cucumber, avocado, tomato, sprouts, red onion, sun dried tomato cream cheese wrapped up in a flour tortilla. That's The Rabbit, and it's my favorite sandwich at 505 Eats in LaGrange. It's so good that I want to shovel it in as fast as I can but also slow way down and savor the taste.
I have often eaten the whole thing, but I always feel a little stuffed when I do. But it's so good-- I don't want to only eat part of it. The more I practice, though, the easier it gets to eat half and save the other half for later.
I eat the first half slowly, enjoying all of the textures and flavors. If I feel satisfied (not starving, not stuffed- just right) I wrap up the second half for later as I "surf the disappointment" of not eating it now. The disappointment only lasts a few moments, and I go on with my day.
There is research to back up this practice, by the way. Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, author of My Stroke Of Insight, calls it the 90-second rule: “When a person has a reaction to something in their environment, there’s a 90-second chemical process that happens; any remaining emotional response is just the person choosing to stay in that emotional loop.” Basically, if you choose to move on, you will only be disappointed for a few moments, then you can look forward to eating the other half later!
I challenge you this week to save part of your lunch for later and practice "surfing the disappointment."
Cheers to food so good you want to eat it fast and savor it slowly at the same time!
Here are just a few of our salad toppings. From left to right- pumpkin seeds, soynuts, sunflower seeds, lower-sugar cranberries.
We keep them, along with some nutritional yeast and flaxseeds, in a little bin so we can easily get to them when we are making salads. Yes, they add calories, sugar, and (good) fat to our salads, but we are okay with that. We are okay with it because they add a level of satisfaction to our salads that we wouldn't have otherwise.
All of our meals should be satisfying. If you are trying to eat healthy by restricting or only eating steamed broccoli and chicken breasts, your body will react by giving you cravings and hunger and unstable energy.
If you are not satisfied by your food, you will probably end up overindulging at some point in the near future. To combat that overindulgence later, add something to your meals and snacks that makes you happy. That may mean a little real cream in your coffee, or a spot of butter on your vegetables. It might look like cheese on your salad, or some avocado on your toast. It could be a little piece of dark chocolate after meals.
Yes, in the short run this will add calories. But if you are playing the long game, you will overindulge less because you don't feel like you are missing out on anything.
Cheers to playing the long game, and enjoying your meals along the way.
One of my little joys lately has been to check in on my plants each day. I have noticed that there has been new growth, in spite of the season. It is so exciting to think about and watch, and it is a good reminder that even when things feel cold, dark, and stagnant, growth can still happen.
I like to think of this on a personal level-- even when we are going through rough seasons, growth is possible. There are a few prerequisites, though. Just as plants need light, soil, and water, we need to have the right elements. We need to believe that life happens for us, not to us, and that there is something to be learned from every single situation we come up against. With that belief as our foundation, we give ourselves permission to thrive and grow.
Side note: I am obsessed with how fast the avocado plant is growing. Literally. I measure it every day, and it is growing an average of .25 inches a day! Isn't that wild? Something else of note: it used to be in a very shallow bowl. I wondered if it would grow better if given more space. The root grew like wildfire as soon as I moved it, and that's when the stem appeared! It was like it sensed it had the room/permission to do its thing. We need to give ourselves that kind of permission as well.
Grow on! 🌱🌿
About the Author
Kim is a personal trainer, nutrition coach, and group fitness instructor. She is a mom of two grown kiddos, and a former elementary school teacher. Most days, she can be found training clients, prepping food, thinking about food, or writing about food. She is also obsessed with mindset and habits. She is a 9w1 on the enneagram.