Monday, August 27, 2012

Tight Buns - an exercise for your back side

Tight buns time!  I know all ladies (and some of you gents out there) would like to have a nice high, rounded, tight back side to not only fill out those jeans but make them look gooood.  This week’s exercise I have loving labeled “tight buns”.

Since exercise is a key part in ‘being well’ and overall health and wellness, I will be giving you a new exercise move each week.  Try them all out and pick your favorites to add in right now.  Then, periodically check back in to review all of them so you can keep mixing it up and keep your workout fresh and fun.  I am also doing a segment on our local KC Live morning show on Wednesday mornings; tune in to get a 3 move, whole-body, routine to add in for the week.  You can see last week’s segment at: 
And now it’s time for some “tight buns”.  I recommend doing 4-8 reps slow, followed by 15-30 fast (“double time”), 1-3 rounds.  Do both sides 3-5 times throughout the week.

Tight Buns
Start on the ground on all fours, with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.  Keep your hands starfished out and light on the ground, weight evenly distributed.  Working through the body, pull up out of the ground, elbows bent slightly, chest open, neck long and relaxed.  Now pull your belly in towards to spine and feel your lower-back long and supported by your core muscles.  Maintain this positioning throughout the entire exercise.
To start the exercise, bring your right knee up to your chest, keeping your weight even between your hands and left knee.  Next, kick your leg out behind you, feeling as though you are pushing something back with your heel.  Keep your knee and toes pointed down toward the ground (this will target your hamstrings (back of the leg) and glutes (gluteus maximus – “buns”).  Lift your leg as high as you can go before letting your lower back arch (you want your lower back to remain straight).  With your leg straight, feel your glutes tight and your thighs strong; extend through the heel.  Remember to support your position with your core, pulling your belly in toward your spine.

That is 1 rep.  Repeat through the 4-8 slow, 15-30 fast, on both sides (1-3 rounds).  Add these in to your workout routine and see your very own nice, tight buns emerge! 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Wonderful World of Knees -- get ready for awesome abs!

Ah…the ‘wonderful world of knees’…oh how I love them!  Rising knees, side knees, roundhouse knees…all of them are such a good whole body workout.  Not only do you get to work your core muscles (abdominal, obliques, and internal) but you also work your legs as you balance and support your structure and your arms as you pull down into the standing crunch. 

I’m going to take you through 2 of the knee exercises, the rising knee and the side knee.  I recommend adding these in to your workout routine (or just your daily activities) as least 2 times a week.  I like to start with 4-8 slow so that you can really make sure your positioning is correct and hone in on your stabilizing muscles.  Then, go into an “endurance round” or a “repetition round”. 
The “endurance round” constitutes doing 4-8 slow, followed by 30-50 fast (‘double time’).  Repeat on the other side, then move on to the next type of knee exercise in the same format.
For the “repetition round” you will start with 4 slow, followed by 10-15 fast, left side, then right side.  Then, move on to the next type of knee exercise in the same format.  Now, repeat the whole sequence 2-4 more times.
Both the “endurance round” and the “repetition round” are beneficial so experiment, do which one you like the most or alternate to keep it interesting.  Ready?  Here we go! 

Rising Knees
Step back with your right foot, bringing your weight onto your left leg.  For a gentler workout, keep your feet close together.  For a more vigorous workout, extend your leg far behind you, dropping your left leg into a half-lunge position.  As always, pull your belly in towards your spine to support your back.  Lift your chest up and open, keeping your shoulders down and your neck relaxed.  Feel the strength in your standing leg while making sure your knee over the foot (make sure your knee does not go past your toes or tilt to the inside or outside!).  Extend your back leg, flexing your glutes (bootie muscles), pulling your thighs in, and extending through your heel.  Lean slightly forward (keeping your belly in) while lifting your arms up in front of you.  Try to hit this active position each time you come down from doing a rising knee.  Now you are ready to do the crunch part.  Keeping your shoulders, chest, core, and standing leg in this position, rise your right knee up as high as you can into your belly while pulling your arms down into your knee (pull the arms, don’t just drop the arms), making sure to really crunch your core.  Return to your starting position.  Congrats!  That’s your first one!  Now repeat!

Side Knees
Put your weight onto your left leg, extending your right leg to the side.  Same as before, for a more gentle workout keep your feet closer together, for a more vigorous workout, extend the leg as far as you can to the side (keeping your weight on the left leg).  Put your left hand on your hip, and extend your right on up to the side.  Belly in, chest up and open, shoulders down, neck relaxed.  This is your starting position; try to come back to this position each time after your side knees.  Now you’re ready for your side knee crunch.  Pull down with your right hand (as though you are pulling down a weight from the ceiling) as you bring your right knee up to the side as high as you can.  Slightly crunch over, really feeling your side obliques flex.  Return to your starting position and repeat.

Woohoo!  You have made it through 2/3 of my “wonderful world of knees” tour!  Stay tuned for my video which includes all 3 of them…it should be coming soon.  Until then, have fun seeing your core become strong and defined.  Have fun and just keep going!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Nourish Your Relationship -- Spend Time Together

“Love is Everything”  ~ Janell Bartlett

Oh how I love love.  I believe in love above all else.  I am lucky enough to be completely and totally, utterly in love with my husband, and the beautiful thing is that I know he feels exactly the same way.  But as much as we both love each other, it still is not always easy to maintain such a happy relationship.  All relationships take time, effort, and nourishment…especially those that you hold most dear.
As you know, we have a beautiful baby boy who just turned one (amazing how time flies!).  In addition to that, we opened our own business this year (Kempo Fitness), I am in school for dietetics, and then there are all my life projects (fitness videos, this blog, and creating the “Move Your Feet Week” program to name a few).  Our life is crazy!  But the thing is, in this day and age everyone’s life is crazy.  We have so many things to fill our time with, and we are all pulled in so many directions, sometimes it’s hard to really set aside time to feed your relationships.
Today, my husband and I spent the entire day together…it was amazing, but it was a choice.  This afternoon my husband wanted to go for a run, something I really was not in the mood to do, but I did because I wanted to spend more time with him.  I chose us.  The run, it was okay, but being with him…that was wonderful.  And he was so happy and grateful that I came along. 
When we got home, our little guy decided he wanted to go for a ride in his wagon.  Since I love going for walks, being outside, and enjoying nature, another walk for the day was good.  My husband on the other hand would rate going on a walk as one of his least favorite things to do.   But today he came along because he wanted to spend more time together; he chose us.  For him, the walk was okay, but being with me and with our son….that was wonderful.  And I was so happy and grateful that he came along.
In both instances, we chose each other.  We chose to do something that we weren’t super excited about so that we could support one another, spend time together, and nourish our relationship.
In addition, it is important to actually share with your loved one how much it means to you that they chose to nurture your relationship. 

You want to say things such as:

“It really means a lot to me that you ________”
“I really enjoy spending time with you”
“I really appreciate you”
“Thank you for coming along”

 Just telling your loved one how much they mean to you and how much you appreciate them (their help, their time…etc) will go miles and miles toward maintaining a happy relationship.  Case in point, my husband was just reading this blog and his immediate response was “just hearing how much you appreciate me motivates me to do even more”.  Important caveat though: you must be genuine and actually speak from your heart when you tell your spouse how wonderful they are.

To maintain (or grow) a happy and wonderful relationship it’s often these little choices that will feed and strengthen the connection the most.  Yes, some of the big things are nice every now and then (big date, big trip, big gift), but it’s all the little choices to chose each other, to be with each other and show that you love each other, that provide the daily fuel for love, happiness, and a successful relationship.
So the next time your loved one would like you to join along with them, will you chose the craziness of life…or each other?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Olympic Mindset

Olympic Mindset

It’s Olympic time and I am always thrilled to watch the sheer athleticism, focus, and determination of these Olympic competitors.  Imagine the time each athlete has given to make it to this level.  Imagine all the many obstacles and hurdles these individuals have overcome to get to where they are now.  To compete at this level, it is not merely due to physical skill, but to a complete perseverance of mind and emotions as well….truly impressive on every level.

But what is it that makes some of these athletes rise above the rest?  What is it that makes the underdog (even at this level) suddenly perform their all time best and surpass the others?  What is it that makes the top athletes waiver and suddenly perform far under par?  Of course, some of these instances could be due to a physical cause: slept bad, slept good…energized, drained…healthy, sick.

But what about the mental aspect? 

There have been multiple instances in these Olympic Games that an athlete “getting in their head” has been the topic of discussion.  At one point, I even heard the commenter’s talking of how an athlete had been pointing to her head as if saying….something’s not right…and it’s all up here (in her mind).  Basically, if an athlete thinks they are going to win, they perform better, and if that athlete’s confidence is down, they perform worse.  This line of thought has been called many things…”The Power of Positive Thinking” and “The Law of Attraction” to name just a few.  The idea being that we must conquer what we think…train our mind to work for us, not just constantly chatter.

I have used this concept time and time again in my life with great success.  As an example, two weeks before I was supposed to test for my 2nd degree black belt I became sick; one week before I was supposed to test I came down with pneumonia and bronchitis.  My doctor told me to rest and not test….I said no way, I absolutely was going to test, period.  The entire day before my test I relaxed and meditated with the entire goal being to restore and rejuvenate my body.  Test day came, and I conquered each step one at a time.  And you better believe that during the ENTIRE test I was doing positive self talk: “come on, Janell, you can do this…come on, another thing down…just breathe…come one, you can do this…”  After the test, I was tired, yes, but so proud of myself and what I had just accomplished.  And my illness, I think I kicked it to the curb with each strike on that test and each positive affirmation I said to myself.

This is the very same technique that I use every day, while exercising and my muscles burn (!), going out to market for our business, getting up with our son when I am so tired, and going in for an exam at school….all times for a little positive self-talk and cheerleading.  Any time my confidence or drive begins to waiver, I do this.  And, any time I feel confident but I’m going in to do something important, I do this.  This ‘Olympic Mindset’ is a way of life.

Here are some tips to help you conquer your ‘Olympic Mindset’
1.Develop your mantra!  (This is a powerful, concise, statement about what you want to be/achieve such as “I am powerful”, “I am healthy”, and “I can do this!”)
2.Practice giving yourself compliments
3.Practice walking tall with your chest lifted high, shoulders back, neck long, and head high
4.Practice looking people in the eye.  If you have a tendency to waiver, here is a good time to practice some positive self-talk (such as “I am strong”)
5.Work on active meditation.  (A favorite one of mine is to get into a squat position (horse stance for all your Kempo martial art lovers).  Focus on your breathing, full, deep, long breaths.  As your legs start to burn, bring your attention to various other parts of your body: is your chest lifted high, your neck relaxed, your belly in strong, your thighs pressing out, your strong glutes supporting you, etc.  Finally, throw in some positive self talk as well.  Time yourself doing the lowest squat you can do without any of these techniques.  Rest.  Now, time yourself again alternating between focusing your mind on your breathing, your body, and your positive self-talk….it will take practice but I think you’ll be surprised to see how much more you can do with these techniques implemented.)
6.When you have a failure, argh (!), acknowledge it, and then move right on back to step #1.

As you can see during these Olympic Games, even Olympic athletes can let their mind get the best of them, so be easy on yourself.  As with any new skill, it is going to take time to develop.  Just keep repeating the steps and the ‘Active Meditation’ where ever you can.  And with time, you too can achieve an ‘Olympic Mindset’!  Go get that gold!

Some websites to visit on ‘mindfulness’