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!
I was recently featured on the Fitness Blitz Radio podcast, and the host, Eric Malzone, asked me what I thought it takes to be successful in the fitness industry. I talked about celebrating the small wins. Looking for the good in each week or month and focusing on the positives to keep going forward. Otherwise it could all just consume you.
It’s easy to fall prey to feeling like whatever you’re doing is not enough, but if you can take a second to feel proud for any progress you make, in business or personal life, it can really go a long way.
But this relates to so much more than just what I do in my business. I think most people can agree that there is so much negativity in the world we live in. Every time you check the news, there is something upsetting happening. It’s so important to our mental health, to find little silver linings in our daily lives and routines.
I make the best to try to squeeze the juice out of the lemons life may throw my way.
So many things in our lives deserve celebrating. Perhaps…
Your whole family sat and had a meal together and got to enjoy a treat together. Or…
Your mom came over so you could go get that much needed pedicure. Or…
You and your hubby had a date night at a cool new local restaurant. Or…
You worked out first thing in the morning before going to work which put you in a great mood for the rest of the day. Or…
Your kid slept through the night after several rough nights.
If only relish in the bigger things, whatever you may consider those to be, you miss out on so much.
You miss out on the gratitude-filled joy you can feel and enjoy to carry you through those darker days.
So next time you tell yourself you will wait until “xyz” to celebrate, go ahead and celebrate and make the experience of treating yourself a celebration in itself.
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?
Whether you are a busy mom or a college athlete who needs to train at home, having your own equipment can make getting your exercise in very convenient. With a little bit of creativity and planning, you can design an exercise area in your home that doesn’t get in the way of your life and that doesn’t cost a fortune.
The first thing is to decide where to set up your workout area, especially if you don’t have a specific room assigned for it or a large space in your basement or garage. Perhaps you’ll be dedicating a corner in your family room to your Sweat Space. If you are in the market for new couches for a room, think in favor of something that slides easily across the floor when you need to clear the area for exercise.
You can store your equipment in a trunk so that everything is out of sight and out of everyone’s way when not in use. You can also put up shelves on a wall to store light stuff on, like mats, light dumbbells or jump ropes.
If you have a garage or basement, you may have more options for what to get for your space. You may even want to invest in a couple of machines depending on what you prefer. Runners may want to get a treadmill and cyclists a stationary bike.
A yoga or Pilates mat is a must in your home workout area.
My top 4 simple, affordable, must -have exercise equipment/tools are:
Mat – yoga ones tend to be very thin so I’d recommend a Pilates one which will be more comfortable.
Weights – 2 pairs are ideal- one that you are able to do many reps with, one that is more of a struggle.
Resistance bands – they barely take up room and help give you a great workout.
Music – whether you have a TV nearby that you could turn on, or a portable speaker to play music, the atmosphere will help motivate you.
A few other great tools to have are a jump rope (which is great for travel), a kettlebell, core sliders and a balance board.
A motivational sign or two hanging on a wall that you can glance at when you’re feeling less than motivated doesn’t hurt either.
Don’t forget a motivational sign to keep you focused.
If you would like to take your training above and beyond, you can contact me for my 6-week Fastinista Fit Program to get leaner and stronger from the comfort of your home. Use the form below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After being extremely pleased with my performance at the Lehigh Valley Marathon last fall, I decided to set the bar higher and chase a Boston qualifying time this year. When the idea first came into my mind last fall, I thought, “Maybe I’ll do a spring marathon to keep building up my speed and endurance and hopefully BQ in a fall race.” Then with the passing weeks and months and growing determination, my thoughts changed to, “What if I just try to BQ in the spring?…” And so I decided to pursue the latter, because the competitor in me simply could not wait until later in the year.
That’s when I started diligently reading as much as I could about how to qualify. I researched different training plans and read articles upon articles related to my goal. I knew training throught the winter would be very tough for me. I am a South American girl after all. I knew a lot of my miles would have to be done on my treadmill, but I decided to be a Treadmill Warrior not a Treadmill Worrier. If I wanted to succeed with my goal, that is what I had to do.
Although I continued running after Lehigh, it wasn’t until late January that I decided I would really go for it and signed up for the New Jersey Marathon. I was all in. I invested in a training plan that gave me detailed workouts and paces to shoot for. Being a coach myself, I decided to use it as a guide and changed things up as needed. For example, I did not do the total mileage that the plan asked me to do. There was just no way I could run 60 miles a week. I just don’t have the time for it. My mileage peaked at close to 50, but for the most part it was in the mid 40s. If a goal pace run felt too hard, I eased back. I allowed myself to take it easy and I didn’t push more than I had to. I think that’s a mistake I see a lot of runners do, they run fast and hard all the time. In order to reach the physiological changes that your body needs for maximum performance, it’s not necessary to empty your tank all the time.
I ran 6 days a week which seemed like a lot at first until it became part of my routine. During the week it was usually 4-6 mile runs, 2 days of easy runs, 1 tempo run or goal pace run or Vo2 max run, a few hill repeats, and 1 long run. I did four 20 milers, which I believe gave me the mental toughness on race day of, “Hey, you did this a few times already. You got this.” Would I recommend it to everyone? Absolutely not. It was an experiment for me. It worked for this training period but it may not always be the case.
I cross-trained and lifted weights at least 2 days a week, right after a run, with core work about 3 days a week. Since figuring out that my right side is definitely my weaker side, I made sure to strength it to become more balanced. Movements such as single-leg squats, single-leg deadlifts and side planks became part of my routine. I also worked on balance by incorporating my Strongboard into my workouts.
I got treated at Santiago Chiropractic towards the end of my training. I do admit that I started after feeling some tightness on my right vastus lateralis. The issue quickly went away, but then my left gastrocnemius started aching. I was fortunate to be able to make it through the marathon with no aches at all.
I suffer from gastrointestinal issues, so I knew I would also need to do some research and experimenting in that area. I had a tough experience during Lehigh and I definitely did not want to sideline my goals with something I could control. I had been using Honey Stingers for a couple of years but the gummies were not very convenient during races. I decided to switch to gels and opted for the Acai Pomegranate flavor. I consumed a gel packet every 3 miles during the race and that worked out perfectly. I stayed well hydrated by drinking water at almost every water station.
With all the biomechanics studying and research I’ve done over the past 7 months, I switched from my Nike Pegasus to minimalist shoes. These type of shoes encourage natural foot splay, foot flexes and lessen ground contact for improved running performance. Minimalist shoes can help improve proprioception by activating the small muscles in the ankle, heel and feet. I don’t recommend anyone just jump in and start running long in these type of shoes, but if you start out with shorter runs and slowly increase them, you can learn to appreciate what they can do for your running.
These are the main tips I can give someone and they were some of the major changes I made in my training. If you have specific questions about anything, feel free to leave a comment or to email me and I’d be happy to help you!
I did not stay at a hotel the night before, mostly because I wanted to eat dinner at home and sleep in my own bed. My mom drove with me early that Sunday morning and even thought there was a slight back up entering the parking lot to the racetrack, we were able to get a spot easily.
The marathon itself was a really great experience. I actually did not study the course map too well because I thought there was going to be more boardwalk running, but most of the course was actually on the streets. It started at the Monmouth Racetrack, went north to Monmouth Park, then right through Long Branch and down to Asbury Park where we turned around and headed back up to finish in Long Branch.
There was a bit of a bottleneck after crossing the start line but after that first half mile, it got better. My favorite parts of the course were Monmouth Park, where some local residents pumped music from their loudspeakers and hung out on their front lawns with motivational signs, early on that Sunday morning to cheer us on. The energy in Long Branch was also infectious. Again, lots of signs, and cheerful faces either waiting to see their loved ones run by or perhaps just being out there to support strangers. There were lots of miles were there were no spectators, but since I was so focused on just running my race, it didn’t affect me too much. I do recall a young male spectator who held up a sign around mile 16 that said, “Touch here for power!” and I made sure to give it a tap!
The last mile will always be memorable because it was when I kicked into second gear somehow, hoping to leave everything on that course, on that boardwalk. I was so sure that I did not get into Boston at that point, but I decided to finish as strong and as fast as I could. And I sure did. I was warned about the headwinds that can plague the coast, but I was so focused on getting to the Finish Line that the winds never bothered me.
I would definitely recommend this race and since it is mostly flat, it would be a good one for either a new marathoner or someone chasing a Boston Qualifier. I did not make it to the expo and had a fellow running club member pick up my bib, so I cannot comment on how that was. The long sleeve t-shirt was nice although I would have preferred a tech material to cotton.
Having the support of my husband, my son and my mom out on the course was the cherry on top to a wonderful race. I do wish I had dialed back my pace a bit in the first few miles (and around miles 15-19), so that is definitely something I will keep in mind for my next marathon!
I’m so proud of the hard work I put in to accomplish my first Boston Qualifier marathon. Most importantly, I’m proud I got it in my home state!
Have you run the NJ Half or Full Marathon and if so, what did you think of it? Would you run it again?
Here I am, three days away from my 4th marathon, the very first spring marathon I’ll be doing. This training period was so different from the past three, but that’s not surprising. Each of the past three were all different in their own way as well.
The first two, Philadelphia and New York were done before I became a mom and while I was doing CrossFit hardcore. My mileage probably peaked at the mid to high 30s. I was in great shape, but mixing the two was tough and I was always exhausted.
My third marathon was the Lehigh Valley Marathon and it was the first one I trained for as a mom. Many of my runs were done while pushing Frankie on the stroller, which became (for the most part) a fun thing for us to do together. My mileage went up to the low 40s and I got a sub 4-hour (3:44) marathon. Up until then, I was only thinking of trying after I turned 35 where I’d gain an extra five minutes to my qualifying time. Running friends started to put the bug in my ear about trying for Boston…and so I decided to embark on my mission to qualify. This is what crazy runner friends do their friends!
My qualifying time at this time is 3:35 but in order to be able to actually have entry I would need to run a sub 3:30 marathon. Ideally I would like to do this before expanding my family. And so this marathon will be my first attempt!
This marathon is different because it was my first time training during the winter. And you all know what a winter we’ve had! I became a Treadmill Warrior and learned to embrace the fact that most of my runs would be done on the hamster wheel. If I was serious about completing a spring race, it’s what I had to do…unless of course I wanted to get up at 5am to run and that was not happening. Mama needs her sleep.
For this marathon, I used a more advanced training plan, which I of course modified to my Mom Life. I did four long runs of 20 miles, and diligently did speed work, VO2 max workouts (which I learned all about in my ReVo2lution Running certification) and tempo runs. I even did some hill repeats, although where I live you simply can’t avoid hills so they probably weren’t necessary. But variety is important so overall I’m happy with all the runs I got in. I kept my easy runs easy and tried to push the pace during intervals. My mileage went up to the upper 40s.
I remained ache free until the last couple weeks. I’m currently suffering with an achy left gastrocnemius which I’ve been icing and treating at Santiago Chiropractic. It feels fine once I warm up so I’m confident that it will hold up during the race. I will focus on giving it lots of TLC after Sunday.
This last taper week started with a sports massage and reflexology on Sunday at the Short Hills Hilton Hotel spa, eforea. It was actually a Mother’s Day gift I had from Frank from last year (oops) and took my mom with me to spend some quality Mother-Daughter time. The services we had were ok, but the overall customer service was very disappointing. From no one being around to lead us to the upstairs lounge area, to terrible coffee, no snacks and a 45-minute wait to have your food delivered, I would be very unlikely to ever go back there.
Monday was a rest day, Tuesday was an easy three miler with four 30-second accelerations at half marathon pace. Yesterday was another three miles mostly at half marathon pace and today and Friday will be rest days. I was supposed to do another easy run but I’d rather get the rest for my calf. Saturday I’ll do a 2-3 mile easy shakeout run.
Since I decided not to run today, I’ll just be focusing on mobility, some light core work (on my Strongboard, of course) and stretching.
I did go out for a short little walk with my handsome best buddy. Last fall, during my taper, he had croup, and this time around he has an ear infection. Should it blame it on the taper crazies?? He’s luckily doing much better and was back to being his energetic, silly self again today.
I’m also drafting up ideas for another Running Workshop will which take place next month. If you’re local (and even if you’re not), send me your email so I can keep you posted on all the details.
Frankie is down for his nap as I write this and my babysitter will be here shortly so that I can go get a much needed pedicure. I’m sipping on a green matcha latte, compliments of Vital Proteins. I love their collagen powders and was so happy they sent me the matcha, as I’ve been meaning to try it. I love that it is packed with antioxidants, helps the metabolism and calms your mind and body…just what I need right now!
So the plan for the weekend is to drive down early on Sunday. Another member of my Amazing Feet Club will be picking up my bib for me (if all goes well), which will give both the hubby and I a chance to make it to Frankie’s little multi-sports camp.
Make sure you follow me on Instagram to see more about the weekend! I’ll be sure to do post-race recap with more details on my training once I give my body and mind some rest!
Muscle and joint pain is an increasingly common problem experienced by athletes, both novice and professionals. I’ve had my share of injuries in the past decade, although luckily nothing too serious. I had some foot pain a few years ago when I was training for a half marathon and had to take about 2 weeks off from running and pretty much “self-healed.”
Then, I suffered from iliotiobial band syndrome (ITB) while training for the New York marathon in 2014 and took several days off and went to see a physical therapist for some relief. Looking back, bad shoes and a weak right ankle led to these issues and I’ve since learned so much more to help me in the long run…
When I met Dr Santiago last Fall, I learned that he was one of the first chiropractors to be chosen as a member of the US Olympic Team Medical Staff for the Games of the XXV Olympiad in Barcelona, Spain, and he was an All American collegiate and professional soccer player, so I knew that helping athletes would be of high importance to me when joining his practice.
Performing an assessment on Santiago Chiropractic Associates’ patient, Valerie Goldberg.
That being said, I wanted to set myself apart from other fitness professionals so that we could offer the best care to the patients at his office.
I’ve always been the type of person who likes to focus on the fundamentals. When I was a CrossFit trainer, I would always tell my athletes that I cared more about their form than how fast they finished a workout or how heavy they lifted. I would make sure they spent enough time working on their mobility and that they understood why we were doing certain movements. Similary, now that I’m a biomechanist with a focus on functional and corrective exercise, I remind my clients that mobility and simple exercises are essential to helping them move better and remain as pain free as possible.
Gait analysis is a data-driven way of assessing performance and physical condition of athletes.
The proper system should be able to identify any muscular deficiencies and measure tolerance to various workloads, help in developing customized training and rehabilitation based on the test results, and create a database so that re-assessments can be done to periodically check the athlete’s progress.
What we use at Santiago Chiropractic is OptoGait and OptoJump, both systems by Microgate, an Italian company.
I love being able to help local athletes (especially runners) detect mechanical inefficiencies and asymmetries between both legs, therefore helping them prevent injuries or assisting them in an injury recovery plan.
You may wonder what the benefits of these assessments are.
Biomechanical evaluations help understand how we move and identify any imbalances in the body like leg length discrepancies, muscle imbalances, joint dysfunctions, pelvic asymmetries, core dysfunctions etc that may be causing or contributing to symptoms.
We are all unique and asymmetrical and that is ok to an extent.
However, we may have learned postural bad habits and thus developed compensations that can be injuries waiting to happen!
Combining science with experience I’m able to help my clients understand their whole kinetic chain and assist them on a journey towards pain free movement and better enjoyment of their sport.
In the past few months, I’ve dedicated myself more to my own balance and mobility and that has greatly shown up in my running. I was able to get an awesome marathon PR last September (3:44), a half marathon PR in October (1:41), and just this past Saturday, I got a PR in my local St Paddy’s 5K as well (21:39).
I have better awareness that my right side is my weaker side and I take the time to work more on strengthening it.
As you can see, it’s very important to be aware of potential issues before you get sidelined by an injury. Perhaps you’re an athlete yourself or have a child who is.
If you are local to the Lake Hiawatha are, I’d love to have a brief chat with you to answer any questions and see if my services could be beneficial to you.
Hello friends! Happy Tuesday. I have to admit, my running has been slacking the past 2 months or so, and except for the run we did while traveling in California last month, my mileage has been pretty nonextistent.
Trail run in Sausalito, CA in February.
So what’s the best way to get out of a running slump? Signing up for a race! The hubby and I will be doing our local St Paddy’s 5K on Saturday. Obviously not aiming for any PRs, but just looking to get our groove back a little bit. I think that with Spring being right around the corner, I’ll be more motivated to get Frankie out in the BOB too!
Here’s a nice and easy speedwork workout I created. You can increase the easy and fast running if you’re training for a longer race.
Run 1/2 mile at a comfortable/easy pace. For me that was 8:30 pace.
Then alternate with a very easy jog for .2 mile (for me that was 9:31 pace), and then a sprint for .2 mile (for me that was 6:58 pace). Repeat for 2.5 miles (for a total of 3 miles).
Today I will be doing some barbell squats and core work and get back to running tomorrow.
Follow me on Instagram to see how I do on the 5K! @thepetitefastinista
Being away from the gym is no excuse to slack on your exercise routine. There are plenty of movements you can do while you’re traveling this summer to keep up with your goals. If you’re staying in a hotel it will most likely have a gym so you’ll have more options. If not, bring a jump rope and/or exercise band so you can workout in your room or outside.
I love body weight exercises because you can really strengthen your whole body and work on cardio at the same time. We recently did a tabata at the gym and it got me thinking- this is something that can be modified to be done on the road. Tabata training was discovered by Japanese scientist Dr. Izumi Tanata and his team. It consists of 4 minutes of high intensity. You workout hard for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds. You repeat this 8 times.
So take 4 or 5 body weight movements (say, double unders, air squats, sit ups, mountain climbers and push-ups) and do 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off, 8 times. You’ll get yourself a heart-pounding workout in about 16-20 minutes.
You can also do circuit training. Take 5 or 6 movements and do each one for 45 seconds before moving to the next one. Complete 4-5 rounds. If you search this blog, you’ll see that I tend to do a lot of these so feel free to find more inspiration here.
It might be difficult to work on your deadlifts, but don’t despair. Remember that any physical activity is better than nothing! Try to focus on heavier lifting right before you go away and get right back to the gym once your trip is over.
Keep it simple and fun. So if you’re at the beach, go for a jog, play volleyball, do planks and burpees (on a beach towel), walk to the furthest restaurant, or ride a bike.
My advice is to try to get your workout done in the morning. Even if it’s just a quick 10 minute workout in your room; you’ll feel so much better afterwards and you won’t feel as guilty for the multiple margaritas you might indulge in later 😁
So enjoy your vacation but do what you can to stay active while having fun!
I can’t believe it’s already mid-July! Why does Summer always go by so quickly?! It has been awesome so far, spending my days with Frankie though. I really wanted to get him started with swimming but unfortunately none of the local places have daytime schedules right now 😕 It would’ve been a great activity to do with him but I guess it’ll just have to wait.
His schedule seems to change on a daily basis. When I get used to something he changes it up on me! Haha So I have to keep in mind that when he falls asleep I can’t waste much time- I gotta do whatever it is that’s on my to do list because he could either take a 20 minute nap or a 2 hour nap.
Besides working out, I also “work” my Rodan+Fields business when he’s napping. This might involve listening to a training call, replying to people’s messages or texts about the products, placing an order for a client or finding my next before & after to post. It’s been a fun few months and I’m just so happy that my customers are loving their products. I wish I lived closer to my teammates because they’re a fun, smart bunch!
Today I skipped running and focused on Olympic lifting and core. I did 6 rounds of:
5 snatches (45#)
20 Russian twists (15#)
20 side plank reach-thrus (left & right)
20 sumo squats w/15# plate
I definitely could’ve gone heavier on the weights but the point was to focus on form with the snatches and to really engage my abs.
I feel like I keep wearing this same outfit over and over again! Ahem, Athleta, maybe you can send me some stuff??
Frank and I celebrated our 2 year wedding anniversary with a night out in NYC. We stayed at the W in Midtown and did fancy French dinner at Le Cirque. Although it was a great experience and the food was delish, I couldn’t wait to get a late night pizza from Room Service 🤗
The hubby and I have a 5K on Thursday night. This one is known for its rolling hills so I’m not expecting any PRs or awards but I’m just happy to get out pound some pavement and hopefully see some running friends.