Bugaboo’d

So by now you have probably seen the ad. The gorgeous, thin, leggy woman running in her itty bitty bikini pushing a jogging stroller with what looks like a toddler enjoying the ride. The woman is model Ymre Stiekema. And she is in fact the actual mother to the 2 year old in the stroller. In case it hasn’t “run” by your newsfeed today, here you go:

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SO first off – this is NOT a chance for me to attack/shame said model and her amazing physique. I was most definitely not blessed with the genes this woman was. It is not her fault she is this thin and this beautiful and has no remnants of childbirth or pregnancy left on her lithe body.  If I looked like that, then sure, maybe I’d take my kid out for a jog in my bikini too.  What am I saying, no I would not! Side note  –  even as a relatively small woman, who works out like a beast most weeks, I’ll admit I’m jealous as hell that no matter what I do,  I will NEVER look like this photo. Two years ago I got pretty close – but I had Norovirus and I don’t really recommend that as a diet plan.

Now on to my rant over this absurd ad.

This is an advertisement for a Bugaboo Jogging Stroller. It costs $800. Again. It’s a stroller. And it costs $800. More than a mortgage in some states. Certainly not Los Angeles. But, you get it. If you are lucky enough to have $800 to spend on a running stroller – probably one of 3 strollers you may own, (convertible, umbrella, jogger, etc) I’m thinking you may have the money to spend on a nanny that can probably stay home with the kids while you take a jog on your own. I know I sure as hell would. Also – where is the cup holder and goldfish tray? She won’t get 5 minutes into her run without that kids screaming for a snack and she’ll have to run right back home to avoid a meltdown.

Now the bikini. It’s obvious the photo is meant to read that she is running in a neighborhood of some sort. Not the beach. She is in an actual bikini, running down the street in what we are to assume is her own neighborhood. Now hands up, who here has EVER run in their bikini (before or after baby)? Anyone? Yeah, didn’t think so. The only time I’ve ever run in a bikini is down the beach after the ice cream vendor so my kids will stop whining for a push pop. Running in a bikini is absurd. First of all, that bikini top has no support whatsoever. If she nursed her kid (which I can confirm from an interview that she did) then her boobs would be behind her ears with every step. Seriously, after nursing 2 kids, I like to say it’s as if someone grabbed my boobs, walked across the room and let go.  And can you imagine the wedgies? You’d have to pick it out because your whole ass would be hanging out. Now your neighbors have seen you half naked and picking out a wedgie. Lastly, the mommy belly – I’m going to estimate .9 % of women who have given birth have a stomach that flat or without any stretch marks. I’m scared of the fitspo memes that will come out of this. You know the one that says something like “..so I can run in just my jog bra and shorts”. Well, hell, this takes it to a whole new level.

At first I laughed and laughed at this ad. The absurdity of it. I can’t imagine a woman or mom was in the room when this concept was agreed upon. But now, if you can’t tell, I’m really angry. SO angry that I wanna cry while writing this. It is so friggin hard being a mom. And so friggin hard being a working mom. And then we get ads like this that tell us, “Hey, Mom! Yeah, You! Get off your lazy ass and go for run in the middle of the day (cause yeah, that can happen) with your bikini on and your flat stomach and your itty bitty perky boobs with your $800 stroller!” WTF!?!

Get a clue Bugaboo. This is unattainable by 99.9% of the world. Was this supposed to make me want to buy your product? This photo has done nothing but confirm that I will NEVER buy a Bugaboo. I mean, if I won the lottery tomorrow, I certainly would not buy a Bugaboo. Was it supposed to inspire me to workout harder? To feel more in control? To feel more beautiful? Like, if I own this stroller, then I will be the “Supreme Mom! Better than all the Moms!” It did none of these things. All I want now is ice cream. And I’m not on the beach, so there is no vendor to run after.

 

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Summertime Blues

We are deep in the throes of summer. The lack of structure and predictable schedule is throwing everyone in the house off. Even the dog. The kids are home almost everyday, or I’m racing to drop off/pick up for soccer camps and playdates. Trying to keep a normal workout schedule has been almost impossible.  Normally, I really like to change things up. I’ll try different strength or stability exercises at the gym, take a different kind of class, or set a big goal (half marathon anyone?). My body loves the challenges and my so easily bored mind loves the changes. But summer basically means stay at home mom time for me. I train clients early in the AM, evenings and weekends – all times the hubby is home.  And if I’m lucky enough to be feeding my creative side by auditioning or working on set, a sitter helps out. Otherwise, I’m entertaining the kids on these 90+ degree days.

So to give my brain a break – I stick to what I know really well and look at summer as a maintenance time instead of a building time for my body. I can’t give up working out all together, 1- You would probably find me in a straight jacket by September and 2- I run a fitness business. Staying in shape is kind of important for both my psyche and my bank account. So I do what’s easy for me, and can be done fast.

Here’s 3 things that I’m doing to stay in shape in between visits to the pool and froyo runs:

1- POLE! I love poling. It brings me joy, gives me a great workout, and I get some much-needed girlfriend time with people I love to be around. Big bang for the hour and half I leave the hubby with the kids. I’m physically renewed and joyful from the laughs and bonding. I’ve also found a great Instagram challenge for the month of July – forcing me to train on the pole every day, even if it’s just for 10 minutes.  I even get the kids involved sometimes.

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2- BOSU! I love the Bosu stability trainer.  You can nail a full body workout with a Bosu in about 30 minutes. I have one at home, but even at the gym I use it weekly. I love the quick fix I get with just a few exercises. Here’s a little video with 3 great full body moves.

3 – YOGA! Taking a class forces me to work out and have absolute quiet for at least an hour. The crazy days of summer, late nights and kids fighting over the iPad take a toll on this mom. Yoga restores me. At least that’s how I feel afterwards. During the actual yoga class I’m cursing myself and silently screaming from the inside “WHAT AM I DOING HERE?!??!?! RUN! RUN! LEAVE THIS CLASS!!!!” But then by the last ten minutes when we can lay still and almost fall asleep, I’m a much happier human. And a much better mom. I’m also doing a #backtobackbends yoga challenge on Instagram this month to keep me motivated. Public accountability is a good thing for those of us fitness obsessed.

IMG_1698So these are the things I’m doing to stay fit this summer, at least when I’m not eating ice cream with the kids and drinking margaritas with the hubby. How do you stay focused on fitness in the summer?

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Finding Balance

“Finding Balance,” I’ve actually grown to hate that term. The idea of finding balance implies there is a perfection we need to reach. A golden carrot that we can grab and once we achieve it, that balance will be eternal. Never fluctuating. And if we fall off that balance podium, we are failing in some way. In life, especially as working moms, we are regularly told by commercials, magazines, yoga instructors, therapists, “you need to find balance.” And yes, we need to have down time. We need that “me” time away from the kids, away from work, etc. But I’ve got to be honest, I’m a much more “balanced” person when life is at its craziest. A day off, or a an afternoon with nothing to do, makes me way more anxious than when I’m running from school drop offs to training clients to auditions to school pick ups and shopping/meal planning and laundry in between. Down time puts me on edge, and productivity makes me, well, happy. Down right happy! So if happiness = balance, then balance = busy for me.

While balance in life is not the traditional meaning for me, finding balance in my body is absolutely essential. Many things can create imbalance in your body – overuse, fatigue, sitting too long at a desk or in a  car, carrying a baby…the list goes on. If you are a pole dancer, you probably have a “good” invert side and you have most definitely built the obliques on that side more than the other, creating imbalance. Once imbalance starts, it can lead to muscular and joint dysfunction and most likely pain and injury down the road.

To create balance in your core, your obliques must come into play. These are the muscles along the side of your torso and help with stabilizing your core, hips and pelvic control (moms!). Here’s a basic oblique/cross body exercise to start with. Lay on your back and extend one leg straight, keeping the other leg bent for stability. Reach your opposite arm above your head and draw your navel to the floor. Lift your shoulder off the floor and reach your extended arm up while lifting your extended leg up. Try to touch your toes or shin with your hand. Return to your starting position. Repeat 12-15 times for 2-3 sets. And for “balance” be sure to train both sides.

As always, check with a doctor before beginning an exercise regimen and these videos are for entertainment and educational purposes only. 🙂

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Plank Progressions

I LOOOOVE me some planks! And I love all the different ways they can challenge you and all the different ways you can modify them.

Now that we are a couple of weeks into All About Abs April, we can start to progress our ab exercises. If you find the first tutorials on the easier side, perhaps it’s time to push yourself a little harder. Now with all progressions, keep your form correct! Nothing makes me crazier than seeing someone at the gym doing a crazy move they learned on instagram or pinterest and doing it in correctly, or before they’ve mastered the easier version.

This plank progression is in 2 stages. Stick to the first progression if your form is compromised at all. Fitness is a lifelong journey, not one you have to finish tomorrow. And you certainly don’t want to be injured while trying to get there.

Step 1:

Get yourself into a solid plank – spine in a neutral position, hands directly under your shoulders. It’s important to note that in a plank on your hands, you should be engaging your shoulder blades by pulling them back and down while you pull your belly button in towards your spine.

Step 2:

While keeping your weight evenly distribute between your upper body, lift one leg, while trying to keep your hips flat. If your hips become uneven, regress and go back to your standard plank. If your form is great and this is a solid challenge, hold for about 30-45 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Step 3:

If the previous step was a cakewalk, try to lift the opposite arm off the ground without compromising your form or balance. To maintain your balance try to visualize squeezing your opposite shoulders and hips together. It’s a true challenge and can be a bit rough on the shoulders. Be sure to train both sides. Aim for 30 seconds, but if you can make it to 15 you’re a rock star!

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Planking with a Twist

Here’s one of my favorite planks that targets the obliques, shoulders and even legs if you’re doing it right. The side plank – an awesome all over exercise. And you can progress it by adding a twist.

  • Get into a side plank by stacking one foot on top of the other
  • Press your weight into your feet while lifting your hips off the floor
  • Your body should be in a straight line from head to ankles
  • Shoulder and elbow stacked on top of each other and forearm in a 90 degree angle
  • For a basic side plank, just reach your arm up to the sky and hold for 30 sec
  • To progress, add a twist as you angle your torso towards the ground
  • As always, keep your abs engaged, hips tucked under by drawing in your navel
  • You should feel the burn in your obliques and abs quickly
  • For an even greater challenge, try adding a 2-5 lb. weight

* Please keep in mind these videos are for educational and entertainment purposes only. Please consult a physician before starting any exercise routine.

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Up & Down….

Up & Down…Such is life, especially as a mom & and actress. The month of March through well, today, almost killed me. Tons of clients, auditions, callbacks, getting THIS close on several great roles, and then…not getting them. And of course spring break with the kiddos – life seems to be going at a breakneck pace. All good stuff, honestly – I’m not complaining, but weeks without a day off can take a toll on the mind AND body. So, I’m taking it a bit easy this week and even heading out for a massage later today (YAY!!!). Although massage is a bit of a misnomer for what my massage therapist does to me. It’s more like exquisite torture. But my body holds on to all I put it through, even with foam rolling and stretching, I get some series knots and adhesions. Self care is essential when you work out regularly.

Even though today is an off day for me –  lucky for you I recorded a plank variation last week just for today. Thinking ahead, that’s what we moms are good at. So today you’re getting what I call the Up & Down plank. I’m sure there is a more technical term, but Up and Down is so straight forward, and my clients understand exactly what I want from them when I say it.

This is a great full body exercise, where you’ll feel the burn quickly. To do this move, start in a plank, drawing in your core and neutral spine. Engage the shoulder blades by pulling them back & down – think about placing them in your back pockets. Then lower to you forearms on both sides. Make sure your abs are still engaged and then lift back up to your starting position. Alternate sides so you don’t get Popeye arms on one side and Olive oil on the other. Muscle imbalances are not good. At all. One rep equals up and down on both sides. Aim for 10-12 reps 3 sets. You’ll really feel your heart rate jump up, as well as a burn in your shoulders and triceps, along with your core.

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Week 2 and a Chocolate Hangover

So, week 2 of All About Abs April is getting a slow start. Spring break for the kiddos and Easter festivities have taken a toll on this mama. I’m starting a petition that moms should be required a full week off after any school breaks where the kids get more than 2 days off in a row.  I am beat. Which is why I’m back in bed at 9:30am after my early morning client, and my son (on his 7th day of spring break, and last!!!!) is entertaining himself with Mario Cart.

I’m also feeling the effects of a week of vacation mentality eating. I don’t know about you, but Easter is one of my favorite holidays – and part of that reason is the food. Brunches galore with quiche, ham and potatoes. And don’t get me started on all the goodness the easter bunny brings. It’s like a festival of sugar in this house once the many egg hunts begin. Seriously – I had one egg hunt a year when I was a kid. Now we have no less than 5 starting the week before. One at school, one at the spring fest down the street, at the mall, church, backyard, it goes on and one. By the time Peter Cottontail arrives Easter morning, we have enough candy stockpiled to keep 30 dentists in business for years to come.

We did have a fun week and a half, but now it’s time to get back to burning some calories and focusing on those abs. Summer vacation and my bikinis are just a short 8 weeks away…yikes!

Week 2 is focusing on my favorite exercise of them all, the PLANK! If you train with me, you know all too well how much I love planks, and have probably done 5 to 10 different variations. Today we will start out with the basic plank. The plank targets your transverse abs. Think of your transverse abs like a girdle that pulls your entire torso together.These are actually a few layers under the superficial abs that make up our would be six packs. I have a six pack actually. It’s just under wine. And cheese. And Cadbury cream eggs.

To begin your plank, draw your navel in and think of your abs wrapping around to meet in the center. Engage your upper and inner thighs and try to keep your spine flat. Elbows and shoulders should be stacked on top of each other and your gaze should be about 2 feet in front of you to keep your spine long.  Start your planks on your elbows and try to hold for 30 seconds, continually engaging your core. Don’t let your hips lift too high, or drop too low, and keep your back flat. For a different challenge go up to your hands. If you are a poler or have very strong shoulders, this may be actually easier for you, so get back down on your elbows to feel the burn. For more on planks check out a previous post on the 30 day plank challenge.

 

 

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Day 3 – All About Abs April

When I first start working with a client, they often say one of a few things – “I hate doing sit ups,” “My back hurts when I do abs,” & “How many sit ups before I start to see a six pack?” We will address the last one in a later post & If your back hurts while doing anything ab related, you are most definitely NOT using your ab. So today we will focus on the simple crunch often mistaken for the sit up.

As with all core exercises, be sure to draw your navel to the floor and continue to engage even while inhaling (on the release) and exhaling (on the crunch). Make the movement subtle, you don’t need to lift your entire torso off the ground for a crunch. Another common issue is neck pain during a crunch. If this is the case, you are probably engaging your neck muscles instead of your core. I have clients put their hands behind their heads and open their elbows wide to support their neck, and ensure their neck is aligned with their spine. Thinking “up” not “forward” can also help take the strain off your neck.

Once this is comfortable, reach your hands to the sky to progress the exercise. It seems simple, but a not so fancy crunch is one of the best ways to really feel your abs work.

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Straight Leg Lifts

Day 2 of All About Abs April!  Here’s a simple exercise to help build your lower abs and stabilize your core strength. Raise your straight legs off the floor and up to 90 degrees, then lower down to just above the floor. if your back is lifting when you lower your legs, regress the exercises by bending your knees or placing your hands under your tushy (yes I have children).  Aim for 20 reps with 2 to 3 sets. As always, draw in your belly and think about pulling your navel to the ground. Inhale as you lower and exhale as you lift.  Happy lifting!

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April is All About Abs!

I love working on my abs – but I didn’t always. It took many years for me to realize that if my abs and core were not strong and stable, then nothing else in my body was either. So, I’m taking a whole month to teach you how to train your abs correctly. There will be videos, tutorials, articles and even a pole focus each week for my poler bears.

To start us out:  a deceptively easy lower ab exercise that forces you to engage your lower and upper abs and your pelvic floor muscles. Lay flat on your back, legs in a 90 degree angle off the floor and draw your belly to the floor. This is what we call “engagement.” Some people also like to think of it as “zipping up”, or “pulling in” if that helps with the visualization. Start with single leg taps, and move on to both legs once this is no longer difficult.

 

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