I've Completed the #21DaysofMe Challenge

Hello Lovely,

It’s Day 21! I made it to the end of the #21DaysOfMe challenge. How did you do? Did you stick to the plan or did you give up half way? I hope you saw it through like me. Let’s finish strong with a body-weight workout led by Katie Dunlop and end with a guided meditation c/o Cassandra Bodzak. You’ll feel strong, empowered and completely centered.

While I had to skip much of the gym during this challenge because of the flu and a hectic work schedule, I still took time out to show myself some self love and practise self care (which is what this whole challenge was about). I pushed myself when necessary but I also took time to take a few steps back before getting overwhelmed. This challenge really helped me to stay focused. I also grew in my perspective on several relationships during this time. I can be a real hothead and cut people off easily. But when I started taking time to love and work on myself, I found it easier to communicate with people I knew I had difficulty with. I was more understanding and patient. I watched people around me get frustrated but during this process no negativity affected me. I was able to see the positive in almost everything and even when something just sucked, I stayed focused on what I actually had control over. How did it help you?

Today’s Challenge: Post a celebration pose pic wearing your fave Fabletics outfit. Use #21DaysOfMe in your caption.

The Best Bum-Sculpting Moves for Your Butt Shape

Christmas is over now and so are the holiday parties. But you're probably still carrying around that pesky holiday weight and don't even know where to begin if shedding pounds was one of your resolutions. I know one of mine is to get a better butt, but sometimes I feel so lost when trying to find the right workout regimen for me. Sometimes it helps if you choose the right workout for your body. So if you're like me, keep reading on how to get your best butt in 2016!

Hourglass, apple, pear—you’re used to people talking about body types, but what about butt types? Maybe you haven’t thought about it at all, but certainly you've noticed not all derrières are created equal. So, why should your workout be one size fits all? Any trainer will tell you it shouldn't. The sculpting needs of a heart-shaped bottom differ from those of a square shape. Which is why we called up a few of favourite professional trainers to help devise a plan to tone and sculpt your unique butt shape.

Scroll through to determine your butt type and find the workout plan that’s right for you!

Find Your Butt Type

You may already know your butt type, but if not, we suggest recruiting a friend (a good friend) to snap a photo of your lower half in leggings. Don’t be afraid to get the straight-on shot, the side view, and even a 45-degree view. These photos will come in handy not only for determining your shape but also to monitor the changes as you progress with your bum-sculpting plan.

Once you know your shape, scroll down to find the experts’ recommendations.

Square shapes fall a little on the bottom and hold excess volume up top, which can create a muffin top. To lift your bum, Tracey Mallett, the program creator for 24 Hour Fitness responsible for Bootybarre, says you should focus on the gluteus medias—the lateral muscles that sit higher on your booty, closer to your waist. And to really eliminate that muffin top, Xavier Quimbo, co-founder and expert trainer at Speedplay, says you need to add rotation. “When you add rotation to your lunges and legwork, you're working your waist as well, which will help to trim down the love handle area. Two of my favourite exercises are a forward lunge with rotation and a reverse crossover lunge (or a curtsy lunge). Other than hitting your butt, these will target your waist, abs, obliques, and lower back as well,” Quimbo says.

Lunge with rotation: Hold a dumbbell right in front of your chest, do a forward lunge—dropping deep into a 90-degree bend in both legs and keeping your knee aligned with your ankle on the front leg)—and then rotate your trunk and the dumbbell toward your front leg. Do 12 reps on one leg. Then, staying on the same leg, do 12 curtsy lunges.

Curtsy lunge: Cross your left leg behind your right at about a 45-degree angle and lunge, come back to centre, and repeat. Once you've done 12 reps of each exercise, switch legs.

Side-leg lifts: Lay on your side with your bottom leg bent and your head resting on your ear. Keep your top leg extended and facing forward (as opposed to turning out the leg) with toes pointed, as you lift and lower your leg with control. Don’t let it come down completely and rest on your lower leg at the bottom of the movement. Do 16 reps, and then pulse it a few inches off the ground for another 16 reps. Then, Mallett says you can move on to the next exercise, keeping your working leg the same.

Squat with lateral raise: Stand tall with feet parallel hip-width apart, and then lower into a deep squat, sending your hips back toward the ground behind you. As you return to the top, lift your leg out to the side with a flexed foot. Repeat 16 times on one leg, and then switch to complete both side-leg exercises on the other leg.

“With the round O shape, the goal is just to maintain the shape with a great overall program,” Quimbo says. Both experts agree the best way to create more definition is to get all the muscles involved. “Hitting your glutes from all angles and in different ways will maintain firmness and help you keep the shape you want.”

First up, the lunge matrix. Do a forward lunge with the right foot, move your right foot out into a lateral lunge (your left leg will be straight in this lunge), and then move your right foot back into a reverse lunge. “Try not to reset in between lunges, but move fluidly straight through the lunge matrix,” Quimbo says. Do 10 to 12 reps on each leg.

Next, plié squats in second position. Stand with your feet are a little bit wider than hip-width apart, and externally rotate your legs at the hips so your toes are turned out. Lower into a deep bend in your knees, and then straighten your legs to stand up again. Do 10 to 12 reps. Then, Mallett recommends pulsing up and down at the bottom of your last plié for 10 counts.

Finally, find a countertop or chair for Pilates sidekicks. Stand bent over with a flat back, legs stacked under your hips and one forearm resting on the chair with the shoulder directly over the elbow. Place the opposite hand on your hip. With your foot flexed, lift that leg up to hip height. Then, keeping your leg at the same height, send it back straight behind you. Lower your working leg and repeat. Do 10 to 12 reps. Then, pulse your leg up and down at hip height for 10 counts. Repeat on the other side.

Heart-shaped bottoms are not lacking in the gluteus maximus area. The key is to work the hamstrings and the gluteus medius to lift the area. “The best exercises to perk up the heart shape and round it out a bit are lateral movements that attack the gluteus medius, which sits higher, closer to your waist,” Quimbo says. Mallett suggests some rear leg extensions to target the back of your upper legs—the spot where your leg meets your derriere (aka your hamstrings).

Start with lateral walks using a resistance band, like NeeBooFit’s Resistance Band Loop ($8). Place or tie the band around your calves. Quimbo says you should feel tension in the band when standing with feet hip-width apart. Stand tall, engage your abs, and take a controlled step out to the side with your right leg. Then, take another step with your left foot, bringing your feet back to hip-width apart. Do 10 to 12 steps, and then head back with left leg leading.

Next up, single-leg squats. “You can use a chair here as a reference for depth or for safety and support,” Quimbo says. Balance on your right leg with your left leg lifted off the ground in front you. Keep your arms extended in front of you for counterbalance, and squat deep on your balancing leg, keeping your abs engaged and back straight. But don’t simply lower straight down. “Make sure to initiate the movement by moving your hips back to really get into that butt muscle.” Do 10 to 12 reps on each leg.

Lastly, hold onto that chair and use it for balance with these arabesque and attitude lifts. Stand facing the chair with your legs externally rotated from the hips and feet turned out. Engage your abs and press your shoulders down and back. Place your left forearm on the chair with your opposite hand on your right hip to help stabilize. Keep your left leg slightly bent as you lift the right leg behind your body to just below hip height. Mallett notes that you will have to pitch your body forward slightly to reach that height. Just don’t let go of your form in doing so. Lift your leg up and down with control for 10 to 12 reps. Try not to rest your working leg on the ground at the bottom of the movement. Then, maintain the same position, but bend your working leg into an attitude position (knee lifted with a 45- to 90-degree bend). Do 10 to 12 reps in attitude, and then switch legs.

The experts have spoken: You really need to fire up that gluteus maximus (the posterior glute muscles that give your booty a little more lift and pop) in order to turn that V shape upside down. Quimbo suggests exercises that also focus on hip range of motion (it’s all a part of hitting those glutes) to plump up the saggy outer parts of this shape.

Loaded squats: Stand with your chest up and open, shoulders rolled down and back, core engaged, and feet hip-width apart. Hold a heavy dumbbell in each hand (or make your own) as you squat down and up, always coming to a 90-degree bend in the legs. Do 12 reps.

Goblet squats: Open your stance so that your feet are slightly wider than hip-width apart. Hold a heavy weight at your chest, as you squat as low as you can (exceeding a 90-degree bend) while keeping your feet flat on the floor. “By going past a 90-degree bend in your knee, you get that extra gluteus maximus activation,” Quimbo says. He also stresses the importance of keeping your posture upright in this movement. Do 12 reps.

Bent-leg pulses: For this exercise, Mallett says you’ll need a small ball, like ProBody Pilates’s Mini Exercise Ball ($11). Stand facing a chair with a ball behind the back of one knee. Pitch your body forward from the hips into a flat back position with your forearms are resting on the chair. With a small bend in your supporting leg, lift your working leg up level with your hips, knee bent to hold the ball in place. Flex your foot, squeeze the ball, and pulse your leg up and down 16 times.

All-fours lateral raises: Get in a tabletop position on all fours, hands directly under shoulders and knees directly under hips. Maintaining the bend in your leg, lift one knee up to the side to bring your leg level with your hips. With control, lower it down again without setting your knee back on the ground. Do 16 reps, and then repeat both exercises on the other leg.

Will you try your butt type-prescribed workout plan? Tell us below!

How to Fire up Your Core - My Power Yoga Experience- Day 1

Hi friends!

'm back again today to share my power yoga experience thus far. If you haven't signed up yet, I suggest you do so because I really see this course whipping you into shape! Now I'm not the biggest fitness fanatic (I prefer pizza over Pilates) but every now and then, I like to try something new. Because, well it's better than sitting around complaining about getting fat. I used to do Yoga in high school (but I wouldn't call myself a Yogi). I have a love-hate relationship with Yoga. On the one hand, I feel all zen-lke, spiritual and cool when I say I do yoga in conversation. But then I also am reminded of how non-flexible I am whenever someone asks me to do yoga with them. I'm still struggling to perfect my cartwheel much less do one of those crazy headstands. But my plank is pretty decent, I think. So that's one of the things I like about this course. This intro lesson will teach you all about Power Yoga as well as the basics of linking your body and breathe for an optimum yoga experience.

 

PS: Make sure to leave comments and ask questions along the way. And of course, don't forget to invite your friends to join.

 

XoX,

Olivia

7 Exercise Hacks to Try While Getting Ready to Go Out

Let’s be real: Working out isn't really that fun (unless you’re doing Zumba). Sure, it’s basically the healthiest thing you can do, but working out can be exhausting, expensive and inconvenient. And if you’re already juggling a really hectic schedule, whether it be the kids or a demanding job, or school work, working out is the least of your priorities. But what if I told you that there are sneaky ways to get fit while getting ready to go out at night, or while you’re getting dressed for work in the morning? And they don’t take any extra time because you can do it with your routine! Sure these moves aren't major calorie burners, but every little bit counts right?

1. Stretch in the shower.
 The warm water while showering will help your muscles to relax, making it a perfect time to stretch!

2. Use your kitchen chair.
Waiting for that coffee to brew or that microwave to go off? Use your kitchen or dining room to do some easy triceps dips (these are what they look like.)

3. Raise up!
Next time you’re brushing teeth, applying makeup, curling your hair, or checking out your outfit in the mirror, try doing some calve raises. Raise up onto your toes and lower down slowly, or raise one leg behind you, then alternate.

4. Squat!
Instead of sitting down to apply make-up or dry your hair, do a squat hold instead for a few seconds every couple of minutes.

5. Add weight while blow drying.
This is genius: Add wrist weights to your arms before you start blow drying your hair, or using other hot tools. Depending on your hair length and thickness, it could take over 20 minutes to completely dry. By adding weight on your arms, you’ll be challenging your muscles as you style with your (probably heavy) dryer and a hairbrush!

6. Run don’t walk.
Like the old people say, “Watch pot never boil”. So instead of standing there waiting for the food to cook, try jogging lightly in place. Or instead of walking to the bathroom, try jogging. This may even give you an extra burst of energy in the morning!

7. Ready to start the day?
Not a fan of running? Do some lunges as you make your way around the house or down the hall way and out the front door on the way to work.

5 Different Ways to Plank

Don't call it a resolution.

I'm thinking about...... maybe........... depending on how I feel, the temperature, which way the wind blows, how I happen to look that day, what's on the menu for the day................getting back into exercising. And yes it does depend on all of those key factors!

I am a lazy girl! I am partially ashamed of this fact. The hardest I work in when baking and shopping. That doesn't count, does it?

I've also been considering getting into recording some of my tutorials instead of writing them. That way there would be a visual aid.

So today, I'm talking about my first fitness video called 5 Different Ways to Plank. (And I'm not talking about that crazy fad either).

Planking can actually be fun. It's really intense on the core muscles and super versatile. Short on time? Don't skip the strength-training session — get playful with the plank! By doing multitasking variations of this basic move, you can target your arms, back, core, legs, and booty to chisel out a stronger, more toned you. You can't beat planks for toning your entire body. Here's how to keep them interesting!

What are your fitness goals this year?

Let's see how long I stick to mine.

XoX

Olivia