Ab Attack!

Happy Tuesday 🙂 Time to “focus” on our abs!

I love to workout my abs to music. It helps me stay focused (hehe) Ariana Grande makes the perfect song for an upbeat workout. It’s called “Focus” and I can’t help but jam out every time I hear it!  Here’s the rundown…

Bicycle Crunches and Bridges… that’s it! You are going to alternate between a fast and slow pace. During the verse, keep that slow pace. When the chorus hits or when the song gets a little more upbeat, speed it up! Start out with slow bicycle crunches followed by fast bicycle crunches. Whenever you feel the need to rest, squeeze your glutes and hold that bridge pose for no more than 20 seconds then jump back to those crunches. It’s only 4 minutes so fight through it!

Ready to feel the burn? Play the song below and start sweating!

 

Greek Salmon Salad

Spice up your salads this week with salmon! Packed with omega 3’s and protein, salmon is one of the healthiest fish you can eat! So toss it into this delicious Greek salad recipe and enjoy!
Greek Salmon Salad
Serves: 2
Ingredients
Salad
  • 1 large salmon filet (8-10 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 lemon (you will use the juice from the lemon for the marinade and for the dressing)
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • ½ of cucumber, chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped fennel (optional and can substitute red onion instead)
  • Feta cheese
Dressing
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice from your lemon
  • 1 ½ teaspoon stevia
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
Instructions
  1. Turn your grill on medium-high heat. In a bowl add 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon black pepper. Add the salmon filet to the bowl turning a few times so the salmon is completely covered with the marinade. Spray grill with non-stick spray. Grill salmon on both sides for about 6-8 minutes (the amount of time will depend on how thick the salmon is, mine was pretty thick about 1 ½ inches). The salmon should have grill marks and be cooked all the way through, set aside to cool then shred lightly with a fork.
  2. To make the dressing, add all of the ingredients to a bowl and whisk. Prepare the salad and pour the dressing over top. Garnish with chopped dill if desired.
Notes
Optional: If you are using fennel add it to a bowl with a little salt and 3 dashes of red wine vinegar. Let it sit for about 10 minutes then pat dry with a paper towel. This lightly pickles the fennel which adds extra flavor.

Asian Quinoa Meatballs

My parents celebrated their birthdays this week by going out to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants in uptown Charlotte, Emzy! It’s a Japanese restaurant with the most amazing glazed orange chicken on the planet (no joke!) We got to indulge for a night, and it was well worth it… but being me I had to come up with some healthy recipes that make you feel like you’re indulging! So I gave this recipe a shot, and these asian quinoa meatballs were a hit! Instead of going out this week, stay home and enjoy a delicious home cooked meal that will make you feel like you’re at a restaurant!

ASIAN QUINOA MEATBALLS
Yield 20 meatballs

INGREDIENTS

1 pound ground turkey
3/4 cup cooked quinoa
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 green onions, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish
1 large egg
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon Sriracha, or more, to taste
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Sesame seeds, for garnish
FOR THE SAUCE
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon Sriracha, or more, to taste
2 teaspoons cornstarch

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly oil a 9×13 baking dish or coat with nonstick spray.
In a large bowl, combine ground turkey, quinoa, garlic, onions, egg, soy sauce, sesame oil, Sriracha, salt and pepper, to taste. Using a wooden spoon or clean hands, stir until well combined. Roll the mixture into 1 1/4-to-1 1/2-inch meatballs, forming about 18-20 meatballs.
Place meatballs onto the prepared baking dish and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until all sides are browned and meatballs are cooked through.
To make the sauce, whisk together soy sauce, rice vinegar, ginger, sugar, sesame oil, Sriracha and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan over medium high heat.
In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water. Stir into soy sauce mixture until thickened, about 2 minutes.
Serve meatballs immediately with sauce, garnished with green onion and sesame seeds.

Let me know what you guys think! Enjoy 🙂

Warm up and Cool Down

There’s more to a warm up than just stretching. The most common warm up I’ve seen is a quick stretch of the legs and a jog in place, but is that effectively preparing your body for the work to come?

Warming up should include self myofascial release (SMR) along side dynamic stretches.
SMR is what takes place when you use a foam roller. This activates specific mechanoreceptors called golgi tendon organs that cue your muscle to relax.When rolling a muscle slowly roll until you find a tight spot and hold for 20-30 seconds. This amount of time allows the GTO to respond to the tension and relax the muscle.

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Now that your muscles are relaxed, it’s time to actively warm them up! It’s important to use dynamic stretches in the beginning of your workout instead of static stretches. Because the goal of a warm up is to prepare the muscles for the work to come, you want to avoid lengthening them too much. Lengthened muscles will produce less force and you risk pulling a muscle. (Read more about the sliding filament theory and length-tension relationships!) A few examples of dynamic stretches include Frankenstein walks, butt kicks, gate openers, inchworms, walking lunges with torso rotation, and arm circles.

After completing the warm up, you’re ready to jump into your workout! But don’t forget the cool down! Too many people (even i’m guilty!) think the walk out of the gym to their car is an accepted cool down… think again! The cool down is where you correctively stretch your overactive muscles. Go ahead and grab that foam roller just like you did in the warm up and follow it up with static stretching. Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds.

It may sound like a lot, but my warm up and cool down never exceed five minutes each. Proper stretching before and after exercise will dramatically improve your workouts and help prevent DOMS (my worst enemy). So take the time to warm up and cool down. It’s just as important as your workout! 🙂

Mason Jar Monday!

One of the best ways to lose weight is by monitoring your portions, but measuring all of your meals can be quite stressful! (trust me i’ve been there) So hear me out on this one. My mom and I have converted all of our storage containers to mason jars! It may sound a little extreme, but it has made a difference in the freshness of our food as well as the amounts we eat. Air tight glass containers seal in the flavor of your fruits and vegetables while providing measuring units on the outside of each jar! You also avoid harmful chemicals found in many plastics.

but wait there’s more!

You can even prepare meals ahead of time to store in mason jars! 😀 They are perfect for your busy schedule.

check out these heathy mason jar meals for you to take on the go!

Let me know which ones you tried and how they turned out… Enjoy!

Protein Pops

Giving up sweets, especially chocolate, is one of the hardest things a girl can go through! I always loved baking, but as a personal trainer and nutritional consultant, my favorite past time contradicted my lifestyle 😦 but i didn’t let that stop me! i surfed the web and found all kinds of healthier versions of my favorite recipes! However, this recipe i have for you today is created by me! It’s perfect for satisfying that sweet tooth and getting the right amount of protein you need for your diet!

Summer time is the perfect time to enjoy ice cream and milkshakes! But you don’t want yourself or your kids to indulge in chemically rich, sweet treats. This is my favorite protein shake recipe, however, i poured it into BPA free popsicle molds and let it freeze overnight to make… Protein Popsicles! The following morning I hosted my first group exercise class and passed these out at the end. They were a hit!

1 cup of Almond Milk

2 tablespoons of fresh ground Almond Butter

1 frozen Banana

1 1/2 tablespoons of unsweetened coco powder

2 packets of Stevia or a tablespoon of organic honey

add spinach or kale (spinach has a less noticeable flavor) and sprinkle cinnamon into the mix

you can add ice to give you a few extra servings

Blend ingredients together and pour into popsicle molds! Let freeze overnight. When you take them out to thaw, make sure you place them in warm water before you try and dig them out. Enjoy!

If that’s not enough protein for you, check out my favorite organic protein powder from Garden of Life! It’s perfect with Horizon’s Chocolate Milk. Feel free to share your favorite recipe with me at mariahshawpt@gmail.com 🙂

Mt Leconte Adventure (part 1)

hey everyone! First off, thank you to those of you that came to the workout Saturday! We had a blast! 

I am currently on the road to my first backpacking adventure! I will be spending a few days hiking through Mt. Leconte! I’ve never been camping or backpacking so this will be an exciting new experience. I won’t be using my phone (other than taking pictures) but I’ll tell you guys all about it when I get back Thursday!  

 
I encourage all of you to get outside this week for your workouts! Grab a friend and hit the greenway or take your yoga mat to the park for some peaceful stretching outside. Send me a pic and I’ll feature you on my blog!

Don’t just sit there!

America’s relationship to the couch is a strong, if not a passionate one. I have to admit, after sitting in class all day, I couldn’t wait to get home to sink into my couch and unwind. Good posture definitely wasn’t on my mind!

We all know someone (or might be that someone) who complains about their back. Well, one of the main causes of lower back pain is sitting for long periods of time. Most of us drive, work, or attend school then return home only to sit some more. So you can see why lower back pain is common… but how does your back pay the price when you’re just sitting?

When seated, your hip flexors are shortened, and your gluteals are lengthened. Over time this creates reciprocal inhibition of the glutes And lower abdominals because you are consistently keeping your hip flexors shortened and tight. When the glute max (the biggest of the three gluteals) is lengthened and weak, other muscles that would normally assist it become overactive to compensate for that weak rear end. This is an example of synergistic dominance. Your hip flexors, hamstrings, and quads become prime movers instead of synergists. This creates a postural distortion where your shortened hip flexors tilt your pelvis to the front creating an arch in your lower back. Your lower back (Lumbar Erector Spinae) becomes shortened and tight.

In order to be pain free, you need to activate your gluteals as well as your lower abs. Your Glute Maximus creates hip extension, and your Glute Medius and Minimus create hip abduction.

But before you can turn on your glutes and abs, you must turn off your overactive muscles. So allow me to introduce you to your new best friend–The Foam Roll!

When using the foam roll, you are activating certain mechanoreceptors called Golgi Tendon Organs (GTOs). These guys react to the amount of tension as well as the rate of tension being placed on the muscle by shutting down or relaxing the effected muscle. For example, when you foam roll your hamstringship flexorsquads, and lower back, you are activating the GTOs, allowing your muscles to relax. To foam roll your lower back, simply find a wall and place the foam roll between your lower back and the wall and slowly squat down. Make sure the roll reaches your entire Lumbar spine.

Now that you and the foam roll have gotten acquainted, it’s time to lengthen and stretch the muscles you just relaxed. Here are some highly effective stretches you can perform daily! Quad+Hip Flexor StretchHamstring StretchesCalf StretchLower Back Stretches

Once you have lengthened those muscles, you can activate your glutes and low abdominals using isolated resistance exercises. Standing Hip AbductionStanding Hip Extension, and Bridges are great exercises to incorporate into your workouts! And make sure you strengthen you abs the right way with this exercise progression!

If you have any questions, feel free to ask me at mariahshawpt@gmail.com

Staying Hydrated

Another day into our record breaking heat wave, and you just got back from that killer run. Your body is demanding hydration, and there is a delicious strawberry-flavored lemonade in your fridge calling your name! It’s liquid so you think it qualifies as a perfect post-run thirst quencher. But before you take that first sip, read the label! Most of the ingredients in that sweet flavored drink will actually dehydrate you! Your taste buds may be craving one thing, but your muscles deserve better than that! Give your body what it really needs. A nice glass of ice water!

Sure it sounds boring, but your body will thank you! After all, about 60% of you is made up of water, and you just sweated most of that away.

Let’s just be honest for a minute, most of us don’t drink enough water. Everyone has heard about the eight glasses a day rule. It’s easy to remember, but that doesn’t quite cut it. The average sedentary female is thought to need 9 cups of water a day. An equivalent male requires 12. However, you just kicked that 5k run’s ass in 90-degree weather! The lowest amount of water you should be drinking is 9 cups a day if you are a female athlete and 12 cups if you are a male. One liter (4.2 cups) of water is required for every 1,000 calories burned. Keep track of your workouts and the amount of calories expended so you can avoid dehydration!

Remember, you can go weeks without food but only days without water! Your body needs water to function… not strawberry-flavored lemonade. Make sure you drink your fill!

Check out these delicious Fruit Water Recipes! The natural flavor will satisfy your sweet tooth!