You can call them free weights or dumbbells, but the important thing is the results they can bring you. Cardiovascular exercise is important but strength training is a must if you’re looking to change your physique.
Here are my top 3 reasons I always recommend using dumbbells to my clients:
They improve your balance.
You know I’m a biomechanics nerd and someone who is always learning more about balance and core. Dumbbells, or any strength tool for that matter, give you the ability of being able to focus on your weaker side. You can isolate muscles and do isometric training.
2. They’re key to a functional training routine.
The best exercises are the ones that improve your performance outside of the gym. Free weights allow your body to move throughout all three planes of motion, so that you move throughout space like you would in normal life.
3. They don’t take up a lot of space.
Barbells or big, bulky exercise machines require a decent amount of space. On the other hand, two or three sets of dumbbells can be stored in a small corner of a room and don’t require a large investment. You can travel with them to an extent, or at the very least, if you had to relocate, they are not a big hindrance to move.
I tell you, when you workout smart and mix up strength with short bursts of cardio, you can burn body fat, lose inches and feel amazing overall without sacrificing time away from family or without calorie counting.
Some of the messages I’ve received from my clients since I started my online training program:
“Thank you, Julia! Pre-baby work skirt fits! I’ve lost 6 lbs so far!” – Marissa
“My core feels stronger from these and Lord knows I need it. Thanks!” – Julie
“I’m doing them at the most random times. The girls have been sick so time is scarce. But the work outs combined with the diet are really making a difference. I’ve lost 4 lbs.” – Liza
I’m excited to announce I’ll be hosting a free 3-day Adore Your Core training event in my free Facebook group starting Monday, April 29th. Learn the best tips to connect with your core and how to eat the right foods for best results. As always, mindset tips to get you in the right attitude for an improved lifestyle will be included.
Click here to join my free online community now so you can catch the event starting on April 29th!
The next few weeks until the end of the year are sure to be filled with a lot festivities. Health-conscious people everywhere are also bracing themselves to not derail all their hard work. There is no reason to not enjoy this Most Wonderful Time of the Year…It’s a time meant for celebrating and being thankful after all; with some simple habits you can keep yourself accountable and stay fit through the Holiday Season.
6 Tips to Avoid Derailing your Fitness Progress through the Holidays
1) Schedule your workouts. I prefer to use an agenda (not an app) and pencil in the workouts and runs I plan on doing for that week. This also goes for anything else I need/want to get done like creating a healthy eating plan, going to the grocery store or the post office. If I accomplish 90% of what’s on my list, I consider that to be a very successful week. I write it in my agenda and check it off when I’m done.
2) Avoid sitting for too long. Sitting for prolonged periods of time has been proven to be hazardous to our health. Remember this not just for when you’re at the office but also when watching Disney shows or Christmas movies with your family. Make it a habit to get up and move frequently.
3) Drink up! Many people track their food intake but I also find that it’s very important to track your water intake because most people simply don’t drink enough water. I have an oversized water bottle that I refill several times a day and end up drinking about 1 gallon of per day. When it comes to Holiday libations, avoid anything with fruit juices as they are full of sugar. Stick to clear liquor mixed with club soda or wine.
4) A little bit is better than nothing when it comes to exercise. This is so true now that I’m a mom, especially one who is mostly at home. My “me” time is pretty much non-existent, so I rely on naps to get stuff done around the house or for my businesses. Sometimes after all my to-dos are done, I only have a few minutes to get my sweat on.
If you feel like 10 minutes is not enough, remember that it is better than a 0 minute workout.
5) Indulge a few times, but not the whole Season. I truly love the Christmas season and the family bonding and get-togethers with friends. It helps us all be thankful for all that we have and the important people that make up our circles. If you are at a party and you really want to try the desserts, go for it. Just snack on the lower calorie appetizers and limit your alcoholic drinking to avoid consuming too many calories.
6 Tips to Avoid Derailing your Fitness Progress through the Holidays
6) Don’t make a New Year’s resolution to stay in shape. Make it a year-long resolution, not just a temporary one. Remember that it’s not about perfection, but about making continuous progress week after week.
If you simply can’t get yourself to do all of the above, then it’s time to consider investing in yourself. Find a trainer or coach who can help you stay motivated and accountable through the busy Holiday Season. I work with a lot of busy moms who simply do not have the time for a one hour workout, but with the right workouts and a fun group of other like-minded ladies, they are able to make improvements in their physiques, energy levels, and most importantly, their mindsets.
Right now I’m running my first ever 6-Week Holiday Hustle program online and the ladies are loving it so far! I know that with the combination of workouts, meal plans and the accountability that they will share, it will be a successful season for all of them.
How are you staying accountable through the last 2 months of the year?
Halloween is a fun time of year for both kids and grownups. But with fun comes temptation, looming all around us in cute candy wrappings, beckoning us to have just.one.more.treat…You can certainly still enjoy the holiday without sabotaging your fitness and health goals. By allowing yourself a couple of small treats or finding healthier alternatives, you can lower your chances of a binge session later on.
Here are some of my best Halloween hacks:
1) Check the nutrition information before you indulge. Most nutritional information is based on more than one mini-sized bag. Read the label, know how much you are consuming, and if needed, divide your bags into serving sizes to help with portion control.
2) Choose dark chocolate over white. Dark is your healthiest option when it comes to candy and believe it or not, white chocolate is the unhealthiest option. Why? First, it does basically nothing for cravings. Secondly, white chocolate is packed with extra sugar and added fat from the extra milk products used to give it its white coloring.
3) Need a healthy party treat idea? How about Spiders On A Log! Spread any type of nut butter on some celery sticks and then press in 2 dark chocolate chips. The spider “legs” can be created with melted dark chocolate in a piping bag or you can use dark brown sprinkles.
4) Are you carving a few pumpkins this year? Don’t waste the seeds! They can be roasted in the oven with a little sprinkle of salt and pepper and make a tasty and nutritious snack. You can also save some to throw into your morning smoothie for a little dose of healthy fat to keep you full longer.
Another thing to keep in mind if you’re having a party or trick or treaters is that the growing epidemic of potentially deadly food allergies is becoming more and more common in both children and adults. You can offer your trick or treaters stickers, stamps, bouncy balls or other small toys or crafts instead of candy.
You may notice teal pumpkins on some doorsteps in the area this year and that means that the household is participating in The Teal Pumpkin Project. This project is aimed at raising awareness of food allergies and making the Halloween season inclusive for all. Participating houses pledge to have non-food treats available for trick-or-treaters so that food allergy kids can still participate in the trick-or-treat tradition.
However it is you may be celebrating, I hope you have a happy and healthy Halloween! Feel free to share your own tips and hacks below.
My clients often ask me about what the types of food they should be eating. Once you build a rapport with your clients and give them results, it’s not surprising that they want you to guide them in other areas of their wellness. Following restrictive diets or having to measure each and every ounce of food you consume is not sustainable. I’m a big believer in teaching moderation while still getting people the results they’re looking for. My online clients as well as some of my local ones rely on me for meal ideas and I LOVE sharing with them recipes that are simple and made with mostly all natural ingredients and condiments. Like the ones below!
Summertime means lots of grilling at the Hickman House. Even though my hubby is the Grillmaster of the house, I’m usually the one finding or creating the recipes and doing the prep work. I love finding easy, healthy yet flavor-packed meals that can be easily modified. To my luck, I came across Madison Park Foods, a local brand of seasonings and rubs and, after a quick look at their website, I knew I had to try them out. I have partnered with them to create the recipes below. As always, all opinions are my own.
The first recipe here is a Bloody Mary encrusted chicken with sweet corn on the cob. Frank loooves Bloody Marys (the spicier the better) so I was excited to create a meal using this lovely red rub that could work double duty. Please note that both of these recipes make about 3-4 servings.
Bloody Mary-Encrusted Chicken with Sweet Corn on the Cob
Preheat grill on high, 5 minutes. Once hot, carefully use tongs to rub an oiled paper towel over grates to clean and ensure no food residue or dirt.
Using long tongs, place chicken breasts on grill and cook, covered on high, 3 minutes. Flip breasts and continue cooking on high, 3 more minutes.
Reduce grill heat to low and flip chicken again. Place ears of corn on grill. Cover and continue cooking, 3 minutes more. Flip chicken again and cook 3 more minutes on low.
To serve, remove chicken and corn to plate. Squeeze lime juice on chicken.
We served this with a Greek-style salad made with spinach, cucumber, tomatoes and olives; inspired by a salad my friend Nisha brought over for dinner recently. I drizzled a little extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and a dash of salt on it, but I would even do a sweeter dressing to offset the spiciness of the Bloody Mary rub. And we rimmed our tequila glasses with it as well.
To my delight, Madison Park Foods also has a Chimichurri rub that I knew right away I would try on my next asado. Before I even tasted it, I loved looking at the colors in the tub. This versatile mix has garlic, onion, salt, red bell pepper and parsley and cilantro as some of its ingredients. Don’t be shy to try Chimichurri on other types of meat though; we love it on white fish too!
Season both sides of steak with 1 teaspoon of Dos Gauchos mix and let sit for 1 hour.
Prepare the grill on high heat. Mix olive oil and remaining Dos Gauchos mix and grill the steaks to desired doneness, about 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium-rare, turning steaks 1/4 turn after 1 1/2 minutes to form crisscross grill marks, if desired.
Transfer steaks to cutting board; let rest 5 minutes before serving.
We served the asado with a side of store-bought French fries (can be substituted with sweet potato fries or forgone altogether) which we also threw on the grill. You can certainly brush your steak with a little more olive oil but we chose to take it easy as we were having not-so-healthy fries as our side. We did do a chopped salad made with cabbage, romaine lettuce, some kale, green onions, carrots and a sprinkling of sunflower seeds and used a sweet onion dressing over it.
Both of these recipes are simple and perfect to make for these last summer grilling days with the all natural seasonings from Madison Park Foods. I can’t wait to try more of their products soon!
We just got back from a few days down in Cape May, NJ. This was our second trip this summer with the previous one being back in June. I had a lot going on with my online training and FitCamp and didn’t get a chance to blog about the first trip so I will talk a little bit about both now.
Our getaway in June came in at a great time, giving us the opportunity to treat my Mom to a little road trip with us (although all her help with Frankie really was a treat to US), celebrate our 3rd wedding anniversary and a mini birthday celebration for me as well. We stayed at my sister-in-law’s house that is just a short walk to the Cape May Cove making it easy to get to and from the beach with little Frankie. As a fact, everything is pretty walkable in this charming little resort town.
Our first night, the 4 of us had dinner at The Rusty Nail where I ordered a delicious lobster roll with a side salad, naturally. Frank and I indulged in a couple of dark and stormy drinks and we enjoyed the live music playing in the background. Eventually my mom took Frankie back to the house for bedtime while Frank and I took a drive out to Sunset Beach to take in the views.
All of us at The Rusty Nail
Aperitifs at The Ebbett Room
Fun at Congress Hall
Cape May Zoo
The following day, we headed down to the beach for some fun in the sun and then Frank and I had a fancy date night at the Washington Inn while my mom and Frankie enjoyed some yummy local takeout. Great spot for a more upscale night out – we had great service too.
The 3rd day we had another beach day and then ventured to Congress Hall in the afternoon. They were hosting their Carnival On The Lawn event- face painting, balloon animals, games for kids and parents of all ages, including a mini train ride. Frankie had the time of his life running around the lawn while the 3 of us took turns chasing him around. Unfortunately what was supposed to be a relaxing, lazy night later on, did not end without a little scare. Frankie woke up about an hour after falling asleep, crying hysterically. Thinking he was potentially sick, we decided to not take any chances and took him to the ER 20 minutes away. All ended up being well but I was so glad my mom was with us. The Dr believed it was some discomfort caused by gas but it was one of those things we’ll never know for sure. Our boy was back to his usual happy self the next morning and we were able to quickly pack up our things and head back home.
I was able to keep up with my marathon training schedule and do some running while down there. I did a 6 mile run to the Cape May Lighthouse with Frank on Saturday and a long run consisting of 2.5 miles with my mom, 6 miles with Frank and a couple more on my own on Sunday.
Our latest trip last week was unique in that we had 2 family members from Seattle also there. They are here for my in-laws’ 50th wedding anniversary party next weekend. This time we stayed in a motel just 2 blocks from my sister in law’s house and one block from the beach. The staff was very friendly and our room was kept very clean. I was nervous about sharing a room with Frankie but he did great about sleeping in his portable crib- he slept for 12 hours every night!
The quiet street where The South Winds was located.
The South Winds Motel
Walking on the beach with Daddy
My absolutely handsome boys
Leading me on more adventures
And the kid ran away with the spoon…
Our first night there, we decided on take-out from The Rusty Nail –once again I got the lobster roll and salad combo. Frank also got the fish tacos he so much enjoyed the previous time. The 2nd night there, we did our traditional date night at 410 Bank Street while our nephews babysat Frankie after his bedtime. I can’t even tell you what else is on the menu because my eyes instantly search for their Voodoo Shrimp, which I have gotten now every single time I’ve been there. I think it’s been 4 or 5 times now. It might be time to try to recreate it at home soon! The new thing we noticed this year is that they now carry Cape May wine. We opted for their chardonnay which was delicious! After sharing a scrumptious bread pudding dessert, we settled up and walked back to our Motel, taking the time to walk by Congress Hall and the night scene.
The 3rd night was the big family dinner at the Merion Inn, home to the oldest bar in NJ. everything on their menu will make you drool. I got the sea scallops with jasmine rice and vegetables. A bottle of 2016 Argentinian Malbec Rose by Altavista was shared with my mother in law and sister in law. This historic restaurant was fantastic for our large party and our waitress was lovely with Frankie. Speaking of whom, he had a small taste of chocolate (perhaps only his 2nd time ever) and we now understand what parents refer to a “sugar rush”- we took him out of his stroller during our post-dinner passeggiata and he took off like a little bird freed from a cage! It was so cute and funny and people walking on the promenade couldn’t help but smile as he ran by them.
One of the most memorable parts about the trip was how much he enjoyed his big cousin Emmy’s company. He’s at the stage where he calls every kid (and sometimes adults) “the baby” so he kept referring to her as that. Endless hours were spent coloring with chalk on the sidewalk- and maybe even the front steps too. Oops. He has nearly perfected making circles, which are “bubbles” and he even learned to color them in.
My marathon training once again continued- 6.7 miles on Saturday and 11+ on Sunday. Since my sister in law does a lot of running when they’re down there, she took me on a couple of routes I probably wouldn’t have done on my own, which was great.
We enjoyed all the great things that Cape May brings: fun times together, delicious cuisine (umm hello Jersey Shore seafood!) and the carefree, simple life that the beach brings.
We look forward to more adventures down at Exit 0 again soon! I can’t believe how much more we did with Frankie this year compared to last year’s trip. He’s growing so fast!
Does your family do a beach vacation every year? If so, where?
I’ve been taking Frankie out on the stroller the past few weeks and it’s going great so far. I was nervous that he would start complaining after just a mile or 2 but we’ve done up to 4 miles so far. Success!
It has been really fun going out and spending time outside with Frankie. Sometimes we run to the park which we are so fortunate to have so many in our vicinity in Morris County.
I remember how hard it felt to push the stroller last year when I would run with him occasionally. Umm and it’s only gotten harder now that he’s 25+ pounds! I’ve been looking on Instagram and online for bloggers who may be training for runs with a stroller but haven’t been very successful. If you are one and I missed you, please comment and let’s connect! I feel like I’m going sooo slow in the BOB, so it’s hard to gauge how I would do in a race.
Speaking of which, I’m doing my first 2017 5K this Sunday (after skipping out on one due to super cold weather last month). And I’m contemplating doing a Half next month. I know I can do a half but the competitor in me wants to test my speed first before I commit.
Have you trained for a race while racking up miles in a stroller? I’ll take any tips! 🙂
None of these are secrets! You have probably heard them before. But are you actually doing them? Here’s how I keep myself in check:
1) Schedule it. I know if I write down my workout, I will get it done. This also goes for anything else I need/want to get done- I write it in my agenda otherwise I forget, forget, forget. My mom brain has gotten worse as Frankie has gotten older.
2) Avoid sitting for too long. Sitting for prolonged periods of time has been proven to be hazardous to our healths. Remember this when watching Christmas movies with your family- get up and stretch occasionally.
3) Drink up! Water that is, not sugary stuff. Many people track their food intake. I say, track your water intake. I have an oversized water bottle that I refill several times a day. I drink at least 1 gallon of water a day.
4) A little bit is better than nothing when it comes to exercise. This is so true now that I’m a mom, especially one who is at home. My “me” time is pretty much non-existent, so I rely on naps to get stuff done around the house or for my R+F biz. Sometimes I do wall sits or push-ups or jump squats while playing with Frankie. Get creative!
5) Indulge a few times, but not the whole Season! We only live once, so go to the Christmas parties but just be smart. If you really want to try the desserts, snack on the lower calorie appetizers and limit your alcoholic drinking. Tonight I’ll be going to a Cookie Exchange Party and trust me when I say I will be enjoying a few but I also made sure to have a light dinner instead of my usual filling one.
6) Don’t make a New Year’s resolution to stay in shape- stay in shape ALL YEAR LONG! If you simply can’t get yourself to do all of the above, then it’s time to consider investing in yourself. Find a fitness coach to help you stay motivated and accountable. Find a friend who has similar goals and try to workout together if you can.
Thank you following my blog this year! I wish each and every one of you a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season! May 2017 be full of blessings!
Yesterday we got back from a 4-day trip to Cape May down at Exit 0 of the New Jersey Turnkpike. It was Frankie’s first road trip and his first time at the beach. Although it took him a couple of days to really “get it,”by the last day, he was bouncing and splashing in the water with his Dad holding him up.
First toe dips in the ocean.
Unfortunately he had a terrible diaper rash and tummy issues so I was a nervous wreck the whole time. The first night was the worst- he was up way past his bedtime which led him to being cranky and overtired and waking up multiple times that night. Being out of his element and his routine was rough on all of us but overall we still a very nice time. Frank’s family was also spending time down there so we were able to sketch in some fun memories with Frankie for all.
We stayed at this lovely B&B that I found on Airbnb. Coopers Guest House was a very charming white colonial with teal trim. Located just a block and a half from the beach and a few blocks from downtown, its location was excellent. We were also only about 1 mile away from my sister in law’s house so meeting up with them didn’t take a long time.
Cooper’s Guest House.
Cute Colonials across the street.
Some more Colonial charm.
Friday night, Frank and I put Frankie to bed and snuck off to have a dinner date night at our favorite restaurant, 410 Bank Street. Their cuisine has a French-New Orleans medley with Caribbean flair. We both had our favorite dish there, the voodoo shrimp. I swear, this stuff must really do voodoo because it’s soo delicious you’ll take your bread and soak up the scrumptious sauce until your plate is practically clean and not even care.
At night, Frank and I would make a drink and bring Frankie’s monitor down to the front porch with us. One of my recent best ideas 👌🏻
Frankie loved the seagulls and all the small airplanes flying around. He was also fascinated by all the bicycles everywhere! It was a nice trip and even though I could’ve done without the diapey issues, our boy was a champ. We shared good laughs and Frankie got to spend some time with his Hickman family.
What road trips or beach trips have you taken this summer?
Catch you later!
Before baby, I would run 3-5 days a week and do CrossFit 3 times a week (yes, I would sometimes double up). In order to keep myself sane and fit, I had to learn to get creative in sneaking in workouts throughout the day with my now 3 month old.
What I learned works best for me at home is circuit training or “rounds for time.” I basically look for things I can do with a pair of dumbbells and my own body weight. I also get outside with Frankie and walk whenever it’s nice enough.
Last week, I signed up for a free 30 day challenge by Betty Rocker. Each day I get an email with that day’s workout including a warmup and a link to a video showing the moves. I don’t plan on doing them on consecutive days, just whenever I don’t have CrossFit or some other type of exercise in mind.
On Easter morning, I woke up early to do the CrossFit Open 16.5, a combo of thrusters and over the bar burpees. It took me 17:58, which is not bad considering I just started training with barbells again.
Today I did the “Hot Abs” Betty Rocker workout; instead of doing 3 rounds as suggested, I did 2 before Frankie’s nap and then 2 after:
1 min of air squats
30 sec side bridge w/ hip dip (each side)
30 sec overhead reach (each side)
1 min mountain climbers
30 sec reverse tabletop toe taps (each side)
I could see and feel tighter abs right after just the first 2 rounds. This is 3 months post partum!
After 2 rounds of “Hot Abs”
Check back to see how I do with this new challenge and how I keep juggling motherhood with my active life.
Frank and I went on our first date night post-Frankie last night. I very much needed to get out of the house, brush my hair, put on some lipstick and something else besides leggings. This mama needed to get out!
It was great to receive this Infinite Possibilities Bra from Le Mystere last week just in time for date night. I got a 34B and it fit me perfectly. It feels super luxe and can be worn 6 different ways. I can already imagine myself wearing it with cute dresses this spring and summer- anything from low-back to racer back to halter styles.
So we decided to go to this Italian place, Fiore’s, in town that we’ve both never been to. He got tuna and I got scallops and we shared a fancy bottle of French wine we’ve gotten on our honeymoon in Beaune.
We then stopped at David Todd’s for one last drink (bourbon for him and brut rosé for me) and then headed home to our boy. I can’t believe he turned 1 month already!
He loves playing hide and seek, looking at shiny objects and getting his hair brushed. Oh and I had to share this photo of Frank from last weekend when the Jonas blizzard hit. So much snow!
I’m still keeping up with some of the Sara Haley workouts from the 28 day challenge that I mentioned in my last post. I didn’t include too much info on her but she’s a fitness professional who specializes in pre and post natal fitness (www.sarahaley.com). To be honest, I don’t do them every day but only when I’m feeling up to it as I still need to be careful. Always remember to check with your doctor on when you should resume your workouts post-delivery, especially after a c-section.