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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Bodyweight Series: Squats

Lord, Please Make My . . . Smaller/Bigger/Tighter
We as women are a pretty self-conscious bunch, especially when it comes to our bodies. There's always something on our person that we want to be smaller.  Or bigger.  Or tighter.  Or rounder.  Regardless of what change in shape, size, or texture we want, I would venture to say that {in my non-expert opinion} I think I know exactly which body part we all want to change.

The Batootie.
 The butt, bum, derriere, trunk, badonkadonk, bottom, tush, rear, or in my family's case {thanks to my dad's Polish background...} the doopa. 

When You Wish Upon the Butt Genie
Whatever it is that you affectionately call your posterior, I doubt that you would call it strong.  That’s probably not something you would have thought to wish for if the Butt Genie were to show up on your front door step.  Why should you want a strong butt? Because a strong butt means a smaller, tighter, non-jiggly butt…which I KNOWis what you want!

The Butt Genie would like to make your wish come true! With a wave of his hands and an “Abra, Kadabra, Alakazaam!”, he gives you…

The Squat
Squats are the essence of functional movements for us bipedal people.  We squat to pick up children and dropped keys.  We squat when going from a sitting to standing position. Heck, my 1-year-old squats constantly as he has recently started walking and loves taste testing everything on the floor {I pick it up, it goes in my mouth, I drop it, I pick it up again…}

Squats are vital in maintaining healthy backs, knees, and hips. And butts!  It’s a simple yet super effective move to strengthen your entire core, increase mobility and flexibility, and lift, lift, LIFT that doopa!

I can honestly say that I have definitely noticed a huge difference in my tush and hamstrings in only a few months’ time of doing squats on a regular basis.  It’s easier to pick up my boys, grab things off the ground or in low cabinets, and do yard work.  Going up two flights of stairs every day at work is cake. 

My pants fit way better in the back side.  I have one pair of work pants that make me chuckle because I can’t actually say they’re bigger in the butt on me now.  Truth be told, they’re actually tighter around the upper part of my butt and loose in the bottom part.  I just laugh and think, “My butt may be getting bigger…but at least it’s more lifted!” 

So let’s drop it!

•Start with feet shoulder width and slightly toed out.
•Keep the head up.
•Maintain the lumbar curve of the lower back.
•Keep the midsection tight.
•Send the butt back and down.
•Keep the pressure on the heels.
•Delay the knees forward travel as much as possible.
•Lift the arms as the butt drops down.
{Thighs should drop “below parallel”}
•Squeeze the glutes and hamstrings to rise.
•Stand tall at the top*

Squat Variations

Add weight to your squats by using a barbell, dumbbells, kettlebell, child, dog, bag of sand…anything!  The front squat allows your torso to remain more vertical, but the movement does not target the hamstrings and glutes as directly as the back squat.

Same as front squat but instead of weight being in the “front rack” position, the weight is behind.  Typically, one should be able to back squat a higher weight load compared to their front squat.  This movement targets quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves, and abs.  However, back squats can be a little more taxing on your spine.

Dubbed the “ultimate core exercise” by CrossFit’s Greg Glassman, the overhead squat is an extremely challenging movement.  Elbows are locked out as you hold the weight up while you squat.

This one really tests your balance!  I couldn’t do these just a few months ago. I tried last week for the first time and was super stoked that I could do them without falling over and feeling like a fool.  You can start by using a chair to help you balance.  To make it more challenging, try to get your butt as close to the ground as possible.

Lots of love, Dawn


Friday, July 19, 2013

No Boundaries. Stop stereotyping.

She's such an inspiration! 
Ladies, don't be afraid to lift, climb, push, drag, carry,  pull, & swing. Push yourself to a new fitness level, eat more, lean out  and build muscle! 
You're not going to look like a guy unless you're taking some sort of drug supplements. I promise. 
Strong and muscular women is the new "skinny" right?! ;) 
 ~Inspirational and motivational thoughts coming your way, with love from Mel! 

Read this awesome article! 

Burn of the Day {7.19.13}

It's one hour and 20 minutes of torture, but your body will thank you and reward you for it! Take breaks as needed.... It's Ok, I promise! 
Stay fit and healthy ladies (and men) by exercising and eating healthy! Still allow yourself your cheat meals/drinks and still enjoy the pleasures in life, but in moderation! ;) 

My post-workout omelette: four egg whites, one yolk, fresh basil, green onion, grape tomatoes, red bell pepper, minced garlic, cooked with EVOO, topped with one small avocado. It was so delicious and very satisfying. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Kicked My Own Butt! (7.16.13)

I was in Canada for 10 days on a missions trip with my church youth group. I brought my workout clothes thinking I would actually have time to workout. Who was I fooling?!?? There was absolutely no down time to workout. 

My days started at 5:30am waiting in line to take a shower. My days didn't end until around 1:00am. I was literally running on fumes each day. 

After driving 20 hours back home (I drove 16 out of the 20 hours),  I decided to take another two days off to SLEEP! Oh how I missed sleep and my own bed. 

With that being said, I took 12 days off from working out! That's a lot when you're used to working out 5-6 days a week. My motto for my workout this morning, was "go big or go home." I had a love hate relationship with my workout today, but I'm so glad I did it. 

Keep moving friends! Even though I was walking non-stop on my trip and we even went on two hikes, it still wasn't good enough! Our bodies need to do more than just walking. 

Mel's WOD/BOD:

Burn of the Day 7/16/13

Good morning! I used my barbell for the overhead squats. If you don't have a barbell, you can use any weights...a kettlebell, dumbbell, son, or daughter! Be creative! Or you can do squats without the added weight. Post time to comments!

Workout courtesy of
Image courtesy of

Monday, July 15, 2013

Burn of the Day 7/15/13

3 Rounds
15 Hang Power Cleans {65, 45, or 25 lbs}
15 Burpees

Workout courtesy of
Image courtesy of

Friday, July 12, 2013

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Burn of the Day 7/10/13

AMRAP {As Many Rounds As Possible}
5 minutes
15 Overhead Lunges {20 lbs}
15 Kettlebell Swings {20+ lbs}

Image courtesy of

Monday, July 8, 2013

Burn of the Day {BOD} 7/8/13


3 Rounds of:
Power snatch, 20 lbs
Box jump, 18" box
Thrusters, 20 lbs

Same format as CrossFit's Fight Gone Bad workout.  In this workout, you move from each of 5 stations after a minute.  This is a five-minute round from which a one-minute break is allowed before repeating.  The clock does not reset of stop between exercises.  The athlete must move to next station at the end of each minute.  One point is given for each rep.  Post score to comments!

Lots of love, Dawn

Workout courtesy of
Image courtesy of CrossFit East Sacramento

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Cardio Makes You Fat

I saw this article on Yahoo Health today and thought it was pretty thought-provoking.  Your thoughts?  Written by Jim Karas, a four-time New York Times bestselling author and weight-loss professional...

Are you interested in gaining weight? If you are, perform cardiovascular exercise, and a lot of it.

Are you interested in losing weight? Then you should cut back on classic cardiovascular exercise. Shun it, even. Abolish it. Throw out your treadmill or better yet, give it to someone you don’t like as cardio doesn’t work if your goal is long-term weight loss. There truly is only one reason to exercise: To increase your metabolism in order to burn more calories 24 hours a day, seven days a week. What is the only style of exercise that accomplishes that goal? Strength training. Increasing your metabolism through strength training is the key to successful, permanent weight loss.

Why? Because a classic diet coupled with cardiovascular exercise will result in weight loss, but it will come at a cost as 60% of the weight loss will be fat (that's good!) while the remaining 40% will come from muscle (that's really, really bad!).

Natural Muscle Loss After Age 20

You never want to lose lean muscle tissue. It's simple mathematics.
  • One pound of muscle burns six calories per pound per day.
  • One pound of fat burns two calories per pound per day.
That four calorie difference may not sound like much, but for most people, that’s the difference between living lean and living obese and even morbidly obese (defined by those who are 100 or more pounds overweight).

To further complicate things, after the age of 20, the average person loses one-half to seven-tenths of a pound of muscle a year. That’s 5 to 7 pounds a decade.

As women approach menopause, the rate at which they lose muscle doubles, which is why so many women begin to gain weight right around that time of life.

After the age of 70, the average person loses 3 pounds of muscle—per year! And you wonder why some of our formerly lean celebrities blow up before our eyes. Did I hear William Shatner? Come on, did young Captain Kirk look like he had a weight problem?

Why is this weight gain happening? It's simple—muscle loss. When you lose muscle, your metabolism is destroyed.

You are also decimating your metabolism by dieting without exercise or dieting with cardio. Your successful weight loss formula is dieting plus strength training. Period.

How Cardio (Negatively) Effects Your Body

In 2007, my book The Cardio-Free Diet was published and went on to become a New York Times best seller. The original title of the book was CARDIO KILLS, and to this day I believe that was a far more effective representations of my opinion. That book represented a revolutionary, highly controversial approach to exercise, which continues to gain a huge following. I firmly believe that classic cardiovascular exercise is a total waste of your time because it has adverse effects on your body in the following ways:
  • Your Joints: An article about "boomeritis" in The New York Times reveals that the number two reason baby boomers visit their doctor is because of an exercise-related injury, most of which are attributable to the punishing nature of classic cardio.
  • Your Posture: Do you really want the rounded shoulder, chin jutting alignment of a runner, stair stepper or spin fanatic?
  • Your Immunity: Want to get sick and tired? Blast the life out of your immunity, which is what happens after 20 to 30 minutes of classic cardio. Why do you think so many marathon runners get sick post event or during training?
  • Your Lungs: A brilliant article by Men's Health called “Dying Breaths” proved that while exercising in a heavily polluted area, such as Central Park or along Lake Shore Drive in Chicago (my hometown), you are gulping down gallons of toxic air. You might as well put your mouth over the exhaust of your car as that is the quality of what you are breathing. Just think of what those toxins are doing to your insides? How about the wrinkled, gray pallor of most runners’ faces. Ever wonder why?
  • Your Shape: If you are shaped like a pear and do manage to lose a few pounds with cardio, what do you end up looking like? A smaller pear. This won’t get me out of bed and into the gym with gusto as cardio does nothing to change your body’s composition and often results in a big old muffin top from all the stress.
  • Your Muscle: After 20 to 30 minutes, most classic, steady state cardiovascular exercise begins to chew up your precious, calorie-burning muscle. Shocking to realize that something you believed was the ultimate weight-loss tool ends up being the ultimate weight-gain tool because the moment you chew up that muscle, you are in a metabolic free fall.
But wait, there is one thing cardio doesn’t kill—your appetite. Go out for a run, burn a few calories, and then come back and eat up twice as many calories. Translation: Weight (and fat) gain. Doesn’t sound like a solution to me.

Interval Training Works Best
Clearly exercise is a must to lose weight, so what should you be doing? Only interval-based strength training. Here are the benefits:
  • Better heart health than classic cardio because exercising in intervals enhances what is called heart rate variability, and by doing so, you reduce your risk of heart disease much more than classic cardio.
  • A maintenance and increase in your lean muscle tissue. A diet without strength training results in a diminished metabolism. I bet you always wondered why you couldn’t keep the weight off. It’s simple, without strength training, you are all but doomed to fail.
  • An enhanced after burn. You never want to worry about the calories you burn during exercise. More important are the calories burned after exercise, called EPOC (Excess, Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption). You get up to 38 hours of EPOC from interval-based strength training. That is the key to long-term weight loss success. (You get maybe two to three hours of EPOC from classic cardio training.) 
  • Optimized posture. When you properly balance your interval-based strength training, you immediately see improvement in your posture.  
  • Flat abs. Honestly, most abdominal exercises are a complete and utter waste of time. Want to burn abdominal fat? Strength train your upper and lower body, blast off that fat, and reveal defined abs. 
  • Results. If you don’t believe me, take the “Jim Karas Challenge.” Go to your gym, and look at the people performing cardio. More than likely, they are not in shape, hanging over the machines, frowning, and burning nothing but their precious time, which all but guarantees that they will continue to “live life large,” and that’s not “large” in a good way. Then look at the people performing strength training. What do you see? People who are long and lean with flat abs, great posture, and sexy bodies. Which person would you rather be?
Jim Karas is unique in the weight loss and fitness industry because he combines a degree from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania with more than 27 years of unparalleled success as a weight-loss professional. Jim is a four-time New York Times bestselling author, which includes his most recent NYT bestseller, The Petite Advantage Diet.

As the fitness contributor on ABC's Good Morning America, Jim helped former cohost Diane Sawyer lose more than 25 pounds. He has been a regular guest on The Dr. Oz Show, The View, CNN, and Fox News, to name a few.

Jim has served as a contributing editor for Good Housekeeping magazine and has written feature articles for countless other national publications, including "O" The Oprah Magazine (and he helped editor-at large and Oprah’s bff, Gayle King, lose 25 pounds). Jim and his team of trainers also continue to personally work with one of People magazine's “Sexiest Man Alive" Hugh Jackman and with countless other celebrities, CEOs, and soccer moms in Chicago and New York.
In addition, Jim is a widely sought after as a keynote speaker for many of the country’s most prominent corporations, trade associations, small businesses, and special interest groups.

For more information, please visit

Burn of the Day {BOD} 7/6/13

5 minutes:
Handstand hold against wall till failure, then...
Air squats till failure
Repeat until 5 minutes are up

2 minute rest

5 minutes:
Plank till failure, then...
Tuck jumps till failure
Repeat until 5 minutes are up

Wall Handstand variations...

Tuck jumps...

Friday, July 5, 2013

Burn of the Day {BOD} 7/5/13


45# barbell Overhead Squats


Every Minute on the Minute {I love using this YouTube video timer for EMOTM workouts. It beeps every minute for 30 minutes}
5 push-ups
15 American or Russian Kettlebell Swings {35#}

Add 1 push-up each successive minute until failure

Here's a hint on kettlebell swings...your quads should not be burning. This is not a squat! Yes, you are bending your knees, but just enough to "catch" the kettlebell on the downswing. It's more of a hip thrust action to get that sucker up to overhead {American} or to shoulder or eye-level {Russian}.

American Kettlebell Swing

Russian Kettlebell Swing

Lots of love,

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Burn of the Day 7.4.13

Happy Independence Day!

7.44 mile run (7:53 pace) 

(One round using 20 lb. kettlebell):
*15  box jumps
*30 deep squats 
*15 push ups 
*25 KB swings w/ deep squat 
*25 punch swings r arm
*25 punch swings L arm 
*15 KB squats w/over the head press
*25 over the head KB swings with squat 
*15 box jumps 
*20  KB squats with over the head press

Burn of the Day {BOD} 7/4/13

100 Lunges {50 each side}
100 Push-ups
100 Sit-ups
100 Squats

Lots of love, Dawn

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Burn of the Day 7.3.13

Get your sweat on!
 I have/had (still going strong today) been so busy, overwhelmed, and a little stressed out today. I ALMOST didn't workout today because of my busy day. I am so glad I MADE time to do this. This entire workout took less than 90 minutes.
I'm feeling much better now. Remember, working out is cheaper than therapy! 
Post your times!  

*6 miles on treadmill (7:50 pace) 
*120 sit-ups tossing 10lb. medicine ball
*Seated Row (10x3 reps with 85 lbs.)
*Row (10x3 reps with 90lbs)

*(1 round)
Using 20 lb. KB: 
15 box jumps (20 inch)
15 push ups (not girly)
25 KB swings w/deep squat
30 squats (no KB) 
25 punch swings L arm
25 punch swings R arm
15 deep squats w/high KB press
25 over the head swings with deep squat 
20 burpees

Burn of the Day {BOD} 7/3/14

For Time:

100 Burpees

Take your time. Breathe. You're welcome :)

Lots of love,

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Burn of the Day 7-2-13

Power through it! Take a rest as needed! Drink plenty of water. 

6 mile run on treadmill or on trail

120 sit-ups with 10lb ball
25 V Ups
10 box jumps 
50 KB snatches (25 Right, 25 left)
25 push-ups
50 KB swings
20 Burpees
10  box jumps 
50 KB Clean & Press (25 right, 25 left)
50 mountain climbers
75 deep squats 

Burn of the Day {BOD} 7/2/13

4 Rounds For Time:

30 Squats
20 Push-ups
1:00 Plank

If you can't do 30 squats straight through or hold a plank for a minute, partition if out. Do 15 squats, take a teeny quick breather, then do the remaining 15 squats. Hold a plank for 30 seconds, release for just a few seconds, then hold for the remaining 30 seconds. You can do it!

Lots of love, Dawn