Friday, July 13, 2012

Exercises for Rockin' Arms!

It's exercise tip time again and we are going to shape up those arms!  Say bye-bye to the bat-wings and hello to arms worthy of a tank top!  It is hot, hot, hot outside so let's work those arms, get some "guns", and bare those beautiful arms!

I just did these 2 exercises in my cardio kickboxing class this week (one that targeted the arms).  Although there are numerous arm exercises we could cover, I like these because they will work you entire arm (font, back, and shoulders) as well as your core muscles.

Exercise #1: "Bye-bye bat-wings!"

Lay on your back with your feet flat on the ground, knees together.  As always, pull your belly in towards your spine (flexing your core muscles).  Hold your weight above your head, making sure to keep your elbows pointing forward.  Exhale and extend your arms up, lifting your weight overhead.  Inhale and return your weight to the starting position (control the down, don't just use gravity).  We're going to use light weights and multiple reps to build long, lean muscles and give you a nice, toned arm.  Start with 25 reps, then pause for 30 seconds.  Repeat 1-2 more times.  Try to build yourself up to 2-3 rounds of 50 reps, done 3-5 days/week.

Exercise #2: "Rock the shoulders - double time!"

Holding your weight to your chest, get your feet into a lunge position.  Do a trial lunge first to make sure your knee stays over the ankle (not past your toes) as you lower down.  Hold your weight in front of your chest with your head up straight, your chest open, shoulders back, and belly pulling in toward your spine (core muscles flexed).  Make sure to maintain this position throughout the entire exercise.  Exhale and simultaneously lunge down and press your weight up over head.  Inhale and return to your starting position (using your muscles, not just gravity).  To add more strength training for your legs and protect your knees, make sure you keep your weight on the front foot with the back foot just being for balance.  Start with 8 reps on both the left and right sides, then pause for 30 seconds.  Repeat 1-2 more time.  Try to build yourself up to 3 rounds of 15 reps on each side, done 3-5 days/week.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Beauty of our Dreams....

It is almost the Fourth of July and I am having a wonderful week with my family.  It seems to me that a blog about achieving your dreams is a fitting topic as we celebrate our country and what it means to live in the United States of America. 

This country was founded on a hope for a brighter future, and in people who believed they could achieve their dreams.  Another one of my favorite quotes is:

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams" 
~ Eleanor Roosevelt 

I have a coffee mug with this quote on it and I always grab it when I am feeling a little discouraged about all that I want to achieve.  To me, there is so much that I want to do with my life, it's hard to figure out how I'm going to get it all done.  It's also hard to prioritize and figure out what dream/goal I am going to focus on right now.

A few days ago I asked my husband and daughter to name their favorite movie scenes, a fun game to talk and bond as a family; as soon as I thought of this game, I instantly knew my number one favorite scene.  First, I have to preface this by saying I am a huge Romantic Comedy fan...if I have some time where I can just veg out, I will almost always choose some version of a romantic comedy to watch.  I figure, if I can laugh, and see something where love always wins, I will be a better person afterwards; my spirit is higher, my belief in others and in the good in the world is stronger, and I'm just happier overall.  And now that you know that about me, let's get back to my favorite movie scene. 

In the movie 'The Holiday', one of the characters is an old screenwriter from the golden age of film in Hollywood.  At the very end of the movie, the screenwriter, 'Arthur Abbott', goes to a ceremony in honor of all that he contributed to the world of film and for all the lives he touched.  Arthur thinks there will only be five 'schmucks' there for him, but instead, when the doors open, the room is filled full with everyone giving him a standing ovation.  At this point, I begin to cry.  Every time I see the movie...and we're probably over 20 times, I cry.  I feel so much joy and happiness for him and that he was able to touch so many lives...

For as long as I can remember, that is what I have wanted for myself.  Not that I want to be high and mighty, or even to have everyone praise me and/or my works, but simply to inspire and touch that many lives.  To me, I think it has something to do with making the world a better place, on a big scale, and leaving a legacy so that after I'm gone, hopefully the good that I have shared will be carried on and spread.
I am a person who absolutely believes in the beauty of my dreams, and of everyone elses, and I fully believe that I have the hard work, dedication, and perseverance to achieve all that I want to.  Throughout my life I have often had people misinterpret this self-confidence as cockiness, but it's not.  Cockiness is when you start to think so highly of yourself you look down on others...I 100% believe in others, their dreams, and the overall good in the world.  And, I fully believe in myself.  If I don't who else will?  And if someone else will, how can I accomplish all that I want to in the world solely supported by another's faith in me?
So as we all celebrate the Fourth of July, and the great country that we live in, and the wonderful dreams we all have within us, I hope you all are able to give gratitude for the lives we are able to live thanks to those who came before us.  And then, as you watch the beautiful fireworks of the day and as you drift off to sleep, I encourage all of you to think of what your dreams are.  Lastly, I challenge you to start your first step toward actually making at least one of those dreams come true. 

If you're not instantly sure what your hopes and dreams are, really give yourself time over the next few weeks or even month to do some 'soul searching'.  First, begin by writing out a 'bucket list' (all the things you want to do before you dive? learn to dance?  go to Hawaii?  etc.).  Next, I recommend paying attention to the things that make you happy and writing those down as well.  Lastly, spend some time thinking about what you want to leave behind when your day comes to leave this Earth; what is the legacy that you want to leave?  Your legacy can be as simple as teaching your descendants to be loving and caring or as big as your heart calls.    These lists are your starting point for figuring out your hopes and dreams.

Once you know your hopes and dreams, you must go on to these next steps.  Now, these next two are extremely important.  First, you must pick one (yes, ONE) main dream to start with and prioritize.  What is the top thing that makes your heart sing?  What is the main thing you want to leave behind?  Second, once you've narrowed it down to one dream, begin writing out the steps you can start taking NOW to bring you closer to making that dream a reality.  If you're not sure where to start, ask the help of your friends and, it will help you achieve your dream if you share with your loved ones what you are striving for.  And then, you must audit yourself every day, week, or definitely every month to make sure you are continually taking those steps to achieve your dream; you must fight for it for it to come to fruition.

If "the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams", don't you want to be a part of that future?  And since we live in a country founded on a hope for a brighter future, and in people who believed they could achieve their dreams, as we celebrate our great nation's Independence Day, don't we owe it to those who came before us, and those who will come after us, to do all we can do to make our hopes and dreams a reality? (History of America) (Independence Day) (the 'American Dream') - ('The Holiday' movie)