Monday, April 29, 2013

Me: Pre-Baby Girl Being Born

Yay for baby girl and for being pregnant!  Bringing a being into this world is such an incredible gift, yet for many women, it's a gift that leaves them an extra 5, 10, 15....+ pounds heavier then before that beautiful, bundle-of-joy was born.  But I believe there is no reason for that!  In fact, I ended up even more fit and toned AFTER my son was born then before!

So, I am going to share my journey back to great fitness with the world!  Each week, I will post a new picture of me along with how my path back to a slim and toned body is coming.  I hope that this will not only inspire all the great mamas out there, but prove to everyone, in all walk of life, that you too can be healthy and fit.

Stay tuned!  There is much to come!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Celebrate Life and Work Your Core Muscles

Do you celebrate your life? It was my birthday at the beginning of the month, and I am typically the person who likes to “celebrate” my birthday for as long as possible; in fact, my husband likes to call it my “birthday month”. However, this year was a bit different. With our baby being due in a month, having a toddler running around the house, and returning as the studio manager of our business, Kempo Fitness, I almost entirely missed my big day! There was no birthday month…no, no…I was happy to just enjoy the actual day! That said, do you know what the very first thing I did was when I woke up that day? In my head, I sang “Happy Birthday” to myself…in fact I believe I actually sang it a few times. It may seem very small or even silly, but it was a little bit of time for me to celebrate me and my life.

In life, we do so much for other people, other responsibilities, and I truly believe we all need to take a little bit of time to nourish our own lives and our own soul, at least every day (or week at the minimum). Part of this is to take time to exercise and de-stress…take care of our mind, body, and soul, which is where my weekly fitness blog and our Kempo Fitness business comes in. But if we can’t give ourselves a little extra lovin’, a little extra cheer, and a celebration of our life on our very special day of birth, then when will we ever?
So I challenge all of you, to take time each day, and each week, for you. And this year, when your birthday approaches, make it a point to celebrate your own life and self. Whether you go for the full out “birthday month” or just the single day, sing yourself “Happy Birthday” and give yourself a little extra love and cheer; you’re worth it!


W is for a Great Core

Begin on the floor, legs together and arms to sides.  Pull your belly in to your spine, press down with your palms, and extend your legs out through your heels; activate your entire body – maintain this throughout the exercise.  Keeping both legs flexed and straight, lift your right leg up and across your body to the left, then return your leg back down to the starting position.  Now lift your right leg up to the center and back down.  Lastly, lift your right leg up and to the right and then back down.  Simply put, write a “W” with your leg: left, center, right, center (this is 1 round).  Go fast and yet controlled; do not just drop your leg down using gravity!  No, you must use your core muscles to return that leg to the ground! 

Do 10-20 rounds on the right leg, then on the left.  Repeat for 1-2 more sets.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Strong Legs with a Leaning Dragon

 This week we are working our legs.  This is a strength-building exercise so make sure to add in some cardiovascular exercises as well.

Leaning Dragon 
Begin with your feet wide apart.  The lower you are going to go, the wider apart your legs need to be.  Turn your left foot to the left and kick out your right heel (so your right toes are pointing slightly to the left).  Pull your belly in to support your lower back, lift up your chest, and roll your shoulders down and back.  To get the arms involved, lift them up to your sides at shoulder level, keeping them straight and extending out.  Maintain this throughout the exercise.
Utilizing your left quadricep, hamstring, and glute, bent the left knee.  Your goal is to get the left thigh parallel to the ground.  Make sure to keep your knee over your ankle!  Do NOT let your knee go past the toes or lean to the inside or outside as this will hurt the join.  If you feel this in your knee joint, you are doing it incorrectly and you need to come up and adjust your position (also try not going down as low).  Instead, this exercise should make you entire left thigh and glute burn (in a good way)! 

To activate your right leg, pull your quad and hamstring muscles in toward the bone, extending through the inner thigh, down your calf, and out your right heel.  In addition, think of pressing your right hip/groin down into the ground and toward your left foot.
This is your Leaning Dragon Stance!  If possible, you are going to press up to standing with your feet together.  To do this, press through your left thigh all the way through you left heel, pull with the right side of your core, and with an explosive exhale press all the way up, drawing your left foot in to your right. 

Now repeat on the other side.  Try to hold each Leaning Dragon Stance for at least 15-30 seconds, alternating sides.  Do 2-3 sets with 5-10 rounds of Leaning Dragon Stances in each set.

Don't forget to check out all the great Earth Day ideas and tips below (in the next blog)!!!!

Happy Earth Day! Check out these Earth Day Tips that will make a BIG Impact!

With Earth Day being next week (Monday, April 22nd), and the urge to spring clean being in the air, this week’s blog is devoted to how we can make a difference and all “go green”.  Here are a few ideas that are easy yet will have a big impact on the wellbeing and future on this wonderful planet we call home. 

1.       Add a recycling bin inside your house. 
·         At my house, we have a dual trash bin: one for recyclables, one for trash.  Since these are side-by-side, it eliminates any excuse or laziness that would lead you to just throw away that plastic yogurt cup instead of recycling it.  If you cannot do the side-by-side route, keep your recycling bin close and easy to get to (even if it means using a small basket or bag that you then take out to your recycling bin every night).
·         Almost all areas have curb-side recycling available.  If you are not set up for it yet, check your city’s website or your local waste removal company.
·         If curb-side is not an option, find your nearest recycling center that you can make trips to.  Added bonus: often times these centers recycle more than the curb-side option does.
2.       Stop using bottled water.
·          If you want “cleaner” water, filter your own.  There are many handy gadgets to do this (entire home filter, attachment for your faucet, jug to put into the fridge, water bottle with filter…to name a few)
·         Use a re-usable water bottle.  These are found everywhere now and in all materials.  I’ve seen numerous plastic in all sizes and colors, metal, and even glass.  Find what works for you and carry it with you always.  Note:  added bonus, you will end up drinking more water which is good for your body and health!
3.       Buy eco-products.
·         I think almost all stores (Target, hardware, grocery, etc.) carry eco-friendly varieties of the same products you are currently using.  These include ingredients that are biodegradable, recycled, free of chemicals and dyes, etc.  The less we use of all of the former is better for our environment, our home, and our own health.  If you aren’t ready for a full out overhaul, consider switching over 1-2 products whenever it’s time to stock back up.
4.       Use energy-efficient light bulbs.
·         Not only will this be good for the Earth, but it will be good on your pocket-book too!
5.       Get a programmable thermostat.
·          Again, this is good for both the Earth and your pocket book
·         With the beautiful Spring weather, start opening the windows to cool/heat the house
·         In the summer time, open the windows at night and use an attic fan when possible
6.       Watch your water usage.
·         Turn off the water between dishes or while you are scrubbing your hands with soap.
·         Water your lawn deeply but infrequently.  This means run a cycle (maybe half the time as you normally would), wait an hour, then run another cycle.  Added bonus: grass roots will grow deeper, pulling more water from the earth below and requiring less water overall.
7.       Use native plants.
·         Spring is the season for planting…native plants are often more hardy, drought resistant (roots grow deeper and plants are better accustomed to the local environmental conditions), and easier to manage.  This will save you time, water, and money.
·         Check with your local nursery, arboretum, or online resource to find the best native plants for you.
·         In our area, a few to try are: BlueStar, Blue False Indigo, Willowleaf Sunflower, Smooth Hydrangea, Spicebush, Cardinal Flower, Ninebark, Fringe Tree, Christmas Fern, Wild Hyacinth, and the Pawpaw tree.
8.       Compost and use natural products on your lawn.
·         Easy to do and great for bigger, healthier, happier plants (plus, less waste in landfills!)
·         By using natural products (such as Natural Guard), you will be preventing gallons of chemicals from polluting our water ways.
9.       Know where to recycle your hazardous materials.
·         Here in Kansas City, go to:  You can also call or go online to make an appointment to drop off your hazardous materials year round at or call 913-715-6900.
·         In you live outside of KC, check with your local city or county website
10.   Donate or trade in your clothes and household items.
·          Goodwill, charities, and churches are always good options for where to take your gently used items.  Not only does this keep waste out of our landfills but it helps those in need.
·         Here is KC, Habitat for Humanity offers an excellent program called ReStore where you can shop or donate.  Go to: for more information.
·         Places like Best Buy will refurbish or properly dispose of old electronics
11.   Mow and fill up your gas tank in the evening.
·         Since more ozone forms air pollution (VOCs and NOx) when it’s hot and sunny out, doing these chores in the once the day cools down helps reduce the pollution created.
·         Scary Fact: Using your lawn mower (3.5 horsepower) for 1 hour can create as much air pollution as a new car driving 340 miles! (from MARC Environmental Programs)
12.    Plant a tree (or help sponsor one being planted)!
·         Check out: to see how you can double your donation
13.   Eat Local.
·         By eating locally not only are you supporting your neighbors, state, and country, you are also greatly reducing all of the pollution created by transporting your food to here.  Added bonus:  food will be picked when it is ripe, giving it a more delicious flavor!
·         Enjoy your local Farmer’s market!
·         Check out
·         Take advantage of the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Programs!  These provide you will local produce (and sometimes meats as well) each week.  To find farms that participate all around the country, go to:

There are obviously many more tips and ideas for how each of us can “go green” and support this great planet we live on.  Even just making a few changes can have a big impact!  So dive in and help create a better future for all of us and generations to come!

 Happy Earth Day!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Work Your Arms and Legs with - Rising Elbow Power!

My husband and I were driving in the car recently and we had one of our classic life-changing, life-planning conversations; something we do at least twice a year.  In these we end up talking about how all aspects of our lives are going, discuss things we’d like to make adjustments in, and then plan out the future, both immediate and more long term; this last conversation resulted in a three to five year game plan.

As I said last week, Spring is a time of growth and renewal; let it be the same thing for your life.  What do you want this next year to be?   What changes do you want/need to make?  Sit outside, soak up the feeling of Spring and feel out what you really want; then make a game plan and begin making the adjustments.  Maybe it’s as simple as re-evaluating what you came up with for the New Year…maybe it’s something entirely new (big or small); either way, tap into it and let the new beginnings and opportunities that come with Spring inspire you and carry you to your new goal.
This week we are working our legs and arms with Rising Elbows.  In the martial arts, elbows are used for “in-tight fighting” (defending).  They are very strong and powerful as long as you use your entire body to strike; think of this exercise as a chance to hone in our your entire-body power!

Rising Elbow Power
Begin with your feet wide in a comfortable squat position (that means knees are bent and muscles are working but you don’t have to be all the way down).  In martial arts this is our “horse stance”.  Remember, the lower you are able to squat down, the farther apart your feet need to be.  Rule of thumb: you always need to have your knees over your feet and be able to see your toes when you glace down (knees pressing out and bootie back); this will protect your knees so that you can do many more squats and movements for years to come.  In addition, go as low as you can go while keeping your back upright.
Pull your hangs up to your armpits with your elbows back (“elbow position”), keeping your chest open and your head up.  Now it’s time for the rising elbows.  Drop into a low squat position as your drop your right elbow down in front of your belly.  From here, explode out of your squat, simultaneously rising up in your stance and forcefully pushing your elbow up until it is in front of your nose.  As you do this, exhale (audibly) from your belly; this will activate your core muscles, giving you a better workout and more power.  Repeat on your left side. 
Go fast and strong for 1 minute; repeat for 2-3 more rounds.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Core Strength with Centered Push-Ups

Happy April!  I hope you all had a wonderful holiday week with friends and family, enjoying the beautiful weather!  My family and I actually spent the weekend home and healthy, something that hasn’t happened in over a month; it was wonderful!  I think each day we went for at least 3 walks outside, listening to all the birds chirping, looking at the buds and leaves coming out on all the trees, and enjoying the time together.  As I’m sure all of you can tell by now, I love Spring.  It is such a beautiful and wonderful time of growth and renewal…it always fills me with a sense of joy, new beginnings, and opportunity.

This week we are going to focus on our core muscles with a simple, modified Push-Up (“Plank”) position. The exercise is really quite simple in it’s movement, and yet it will work your entire body.  This is a toning exercise, not a cardio exercise, so make sure you add in some fast paced movements from prior weeks as well.

Centered Push-Up
NOTE:  You will want to use a weighted ball or balance ball for this exercise

Begin on the ground with your hands resting on the ball.  Bring your shoulders over your hands keeping your elbows bent slightly, chest open, and head up.  Pull your belly in toward your spine to support your lower back and step back into a push-up position (you can also do this on your knees).  Tuck your glutes under, strengthen your thighs, and extend through your heels; this will keep all of the muscles in your body activated.  Being on the ball instead of on the ground will really challenge your core, stabilizing muscles; make sure you keep centering into your belly and pulling your core in.  NOTE: If you are on your toes and your lower back begins to hurt (or if it starts to dip down toward the ground), you need to drop down to your knees!  Hold for 1 minute and then do a cardiovascular exercise; repeat for 2-3 more rounds.

Want an extra arm challenge?  Maintain the same position as above but alternate between adding in push-ups on the ball and simply bending your arms and holding.