Lamb, Spinach and Feta Meatballs

I never was a big meatballs and spaghetti type of girl, but when Ryan made these Lamb, Spinach and Feta Meatballs, I fell in love.

No spaghetti needed!

Lamb, Spinach and Feta Meatballs

lamb, spinach and feta meatballs

Ingredients:
3/4 lbs Ground Lamb
1/4 cup finely chopped Spinach
1/4 cup crumbled Feta
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine lamb, spinach, feta and salt and pepper. Divide and roll into balls.

Place the balls on a foil-lined baking sheet coated with olive oil.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Serve with a side salad and some garlic cream sauce.

A Full-Body Suspension Trainer Workout

The other day on Redefining Strength I wrote a post about 10 Great Suspension Trainer Exercises. Below is a full-body metabolic workout using some of those moves.

It just takes 30 minutes and will work your entire body! (Of course I recommend a good dynamic warm up with some foam rolling before hand (and after!) so maybe about 35-40 minutes…)

suspension trainer exercises

Full-Body Suspension Trainer Workout 

WARM UP
Stretch and Foam Roll:
Calves/Shins
Quads
Hamstrings
Adductors
Glutes/Hips
Back/Lats
Chest/Shoulders

WORKOUT

Set a timer for 30 minutes and complete as many rounds of the circuit below as possible. Rest only as needed between exercises and rounds. Pick a variation of each exercise (and a rep number) that you can do without going to failure on any of the exercises. You want to be able to move from one exercise to another quickly. The point of this workout is constant movement.

CIRCUIT:
10-15 reps per side Balance Lunge
10-15 reps Inverted Row
10-15 reps Push Ups
10-15 reps per side Mt. Climbers

COOL DOWN
Stretch and Foam Roll:
Calves/Shins
Quads
Hamstrings
Adductors
Glutes/Hips
Back/Lats
Chest/Shoulders

How many rounds did you get in the 30 minutes? Record your number and try to beat it next week!

Note: Not sure how to do one of the moves above, check out these 10 Suspension Trainer Exercises for descriptions and pictures of each move!

Are Crunches Ever Useful?

I very rarely use crunches in my workouts. And when I do include an ab exercise, I find the most full-body move I can.

When I pick out moves for my workouts, I’m looking for moves that give me the most bang for my buck. I’m generally looking for moves that work numerous muscles at once in a functional way to make them stronger.

Therefore, crunches generally don’t make the cut since they don’t work a number of muscle groups all at once in a functional way.

HOWEVER, there are times I find crunches useful and FUN.

For instance, I’ve found crunches can be a fun active rest exercise. Like when I do sprint and crawling workouts. Both of those exercises are super intense, full body moves. So as an active rest piece, I add in a crunch.

It makes the circuit even more fun and allows my legs and arms to rest while I continue to move and work.

Same goes for other cardio workouts. I will choose an upper, lower and then core exercise and generally the core exercise is some crunch variation to give both my upper and lower body a little extra rest.

So as active, fun rest, I find crunches very useful.

Here are a few of my favorite crunch variations. They are a bit more full body and give the legs and upper body a chance to relax while not being “easy.”

1. Super Crunches Lie on your back with your legs out straight. Crunch your upper body up as you draw your knees in. Come up so that you are sitting on your butt. Reach your hands to outside one knee. Then lie back down. Then crunch up and reach through your knees. Lie back down. Then crunch up and reach outside the other knee. Those 3 crunches equal one rep.

super crunch

2. Cherry BombsSit on your butt and draw your knees into your chest. Wrap your arms around your shins and lift your feet off the ground. Then open your arms and straighten your legs out wide and let your upper body go back toward the ground. You should almost look like a big X on the ground with arms and legs out and open. Then come back to seated and draw your knees back in. Your feet should stay off the ground the entire time.

cherry bomb

3. BicyclesLie on your back with your legs out straight in front of you and your hands behind your head. Lift your legs up off the ground. Beginners may need to keep their feet up higher while more advanced exercisers will be able to keep their feet only an inch or two off the ground. Bring your right knee into your chest, keeping the left leg off the ground. As you bring the right knee in, crunch the upper body up and bring the left elbow up and across to touch your right knee. Then straighten you right knee out and bring your left knee in as you rotate your left elbow to the ground and your right elbow to your left knee. Keep rotating and alternating touches until all reps are complete.

4. Russian TwistsBalance on your butt with your knees bent and feet off the ground. Hinge back a little with your upper body, maintaining a nice tall posture. Hold a med ball in both hands. Rotate your upper body and arms from side to side, touching the ball to the ground by each hip. Keep your feet off the ground the entire time and move as quickly as possible.

Russian Twists with Med Ball

5. Alternating Leg V-Up (or full v-up or oblique v-up…) - Lie flat on your back with your legs out straight in front of you. Beginners will rest the leg not being raised up on the ground while advanced exercisers will keep both feet off the ground at all times. Lift one leg up toward the ceiling. Crunch the upper body up and reach the opposite arm up toward the toes of the raised leg. Then lower that leg and lower your upper body down. Raise the other leg and the opposite arm to touch it as you crunch up. Keep alternating sides.

Alternating Leg V Ups

Here are two great workouts using crunches as active rest:

Also, I think that lower body crunches can be useful especially as progressions of the pelvic tilt.

Most people jump right into double straight leg lowers and just accept the fact that they have low back pain when doing the move. Or maybe they put their hands behind their low back to help.

But they never really regress the move and focus on strengthening their abs so that they can truly do the move without pain.

The pelvic tilt isn’t really a crunch but many of the lower ab crunches that we do require that you can do the pelvic tilt. (The pelvic tilt is a must-do move for EVERYONE. It strengthens your abs to alleviate low back pain and make you stronger so you can lift more!)

To do the Pelvic Tilt, lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. You should almost be able to reach your hands down by your sides and touch your heels with your finger tips. Feel the space between your low back and the ground as you lie there. Then draw your belly button in toward your spine and press that space away. You should feel your low back against the ground. Hold there, making sure to not hold your breath.

Once the basic hold becomes easy, you will want to do a bent knee march then a bent knee two leg lift and then finally straight leg lifts. Advance the pelvic tilt slowly. Make sure that as you progress, your low back stays firmly connected with the ground. If you can’t keep your low back against the ground, you aren’t ready for the progression. (These progressions of the pelvic tilt are all lower ab crunch variations!)

These lower ab crunches as a progression of the pelvic tilt are super useful to strengthen your core and learn how to engage your abs. I mainly use them as activation moves before a workout or on a recovery day.

So those are the times I find crunches useful – as active rest and ab activation progressions.

When do you like to use crunches in your workouts? Do you use them as active rest or ab activation exercises?

Building Self-Confidence

confidence

The other day I had a great conversation with a few clients about self-confidence.

One of my clients made a comment that self-confidence comes from seeing or achieving success.

And my response was, “Yes, but you have to have self-confidence in order to succeed.”

She nodded her agreement.

But that then left us with the question of, “How do you become more self-confident to achieve success if success builds confidence and you aren’t yet confident?”

My answer, “You lie to yourself.”

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Reducing Aches and Pains

I’ve discussed this before, but reducing aches and pains is a process. Simply taking time off isn’t enough and often doesn’t even heal the problem.

To reduce aches and pains, you need to do the following things:

  • Massage or Self-Myofascial Release (foam rolling)
  • Stretching
  • Activation
  • Ice and/or Heat

While rest is important, often chronic aches and pains are caused by the muscles of our body being out of alignment. If we never loosen the tight muscles and activate the weak muscles, then we are going to continue to have problems no matter how much we rest.

All components of our body must be working together for us to move properly. If one part of our body isn’t working properly and efficiently, then other parts will have to compensate. And when other parts take on a load they aren’t supposed to handle, they break down. This overload and faulty movements lead to INJURY.

So those minor aches and pains could accumulate if you don’t do something to correct them!

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Throw Back Thursday – What dreams have you forgotten?

Every so often, I like to look back over what I’ve accomplished.

It reminds me of how far I’ve come and inspires me to keep going.

And every so often when I look back, I remember goals and dreams that I may have had to let go by the wayside.

Goals and dreams that I actually still want to accomplish, but have for some reason had to put on hold.

Goals and dreams that if I ever want to accomplish I, at some point, need to buckle down and just do them because they aren’t going to accomplish themselves!

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What are your staple healthy foods?

I’ve mentioned before that you need to make a grocery list BEFORE you go to the store.

But each and every week you shouldn’t have to be reinventing your list from scratch.

Actually, the basis of your list should probably stay the same because you should have certain staple foods you buy each and every week.

Because even though some variety keeps your healthy eating routine interesting, too much variation can prevent you from getting into a habit.

And habits are what help you stick with your program and get results.

So while you may want to have a variety of recipes, you want them to include the same staple foods.

These are my 15 Staple Foods. My list includes:

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The Five Pillars of Health

Being healthy is about more than working out or eating well – it is about balancing what I call “The Five Pillars of Health.”

These five pillars are:

  • Diet
  • Activity
  • Sleep
  • Vitamin D/Sunlight
  • Stress

When you do your best to get the most out of all five pillars, you will be healthy. Ignore one and all of your hard work with the others may go to waste.

Being healthy is all about BALANCE.

Let’s take a look at all five pillars and how they each contribute to us being healthy.

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The Double-Edged Sword of Learning

I’m definitely of the opinion that you should always continue learning – that you should always be seeking out new knowledge and growing.

However, constantly learning can be a double-edged sword if you don’t apply a filter.

The problem with constantly learning is that you are going to encounter lots of opinions that differ and even contradict what you are currently doing.

And while it is good to adjust your program as you learn and grow, there are also going to be times when you need to IGNORE the new information.

There are lots of different things that work and you can’t do them all…especially not all at once.

So while you want to try to incorporate the new things you learn, you must do it in a way that actually allows you to BENEFIT from all of your new knowledge.

That means not always chasing shiny new things and constantly doing the latest and greatest.

It means experimenting (aka actually giving something time to see if it works) with something new and seeing if it works and then deciding to keep it or not.

The more you learn, the more you will understand that you have to FILTER what you learn and pick and choose what to believe and apply.

While there are lots of things that work, you have to find what works for you.

All the learning in the world won’t help you get results if you don’t apply it appropriately.

While you want to continue to seek out and read new information, you need to process it for yourself.

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Bodyweight Training – Some Must-Reads

I’ve become slightly obsessed with bodyweight training. I think it is something that anyone at any level can do while still being super challenging even for the advanced lifter.

A few weeks ago I took a workshop with Max Shank that went over Front Levers, the Planche, the Human Flag, Handstands, Back Bends and even more.

It was wonderful!

There are so many ways to regress and progress bodyweight moves to make them work for everyone.

Which is why  I was super excited when I saw this Bodyweight Training Book and Video bundle on Mark Sisson’s (The Primal Blueprint) twitter the other day.

Bodyweight training books and videos!!!!

BWMOVESsmall

 

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