With gyms currently closed, what better time to invest in some home workout equipment? The good news is this investment will still be helpful in the future to encourage your workouts at home on days you are too busy to get to the gym.
I have put together a few home workouts for my personal
training clients to do while we cannot meet for sessions at the gym. The following
are some equipment recommendations to support those workouts along with a few
exercises that I have included in their programs.
Adding weighted resistance training to your home workouts will help you increase your muscle strength and size. Dumbbells are a great way to do resistance work at home with out taking up as much space as other strength equipment. I suggesting investing in one or two pairs of dumbbell weights somewhere between 8-30lbs, depending on your strength goals and current fitness level. These CAP Barbell Sets of 2 have many different weight options available.
For adding a challenge to some core work I like to include a 8-12lb kettle bell. I like a vinyl coated one like the Amazon Basics Kettle Bell.
To add some resistance to glute and shoulder work I included exercises with loop bands in my clients’ workouts. This 6-pack of Vive Loop Bands includes resistance levels from light to extra-heavy.
Here is a sample workout I created that uses these pieces of equipment. Keep in mind this is a sample workout for healthy individuals with no medical conditions. As with any workout program if you have any concerns, consult your physician before trying any of these exercise.
Foam Roll Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Calves and Glutes
3 Sets of 15 Repetitions per side Banded Clams
3 Sets of 10 Repetitions KB Goblet Squats
3 Sets of 8-12 Repetitions per side Dumbbell Rows
3 Sets of 8-12 Repetitions Dumbbell Shoulder Press
3 Sets of 10 Repetitions per side Banded Side Steps
3 Sets of 10 Repetitions per side Kettlebell Windmill
3 Sets of 10-15 Repetitions Deadbugs
I hope this guide is helpful and makes it a little easier for you to keep up with your health and fitness during these challenging times. Please know that Amazon had been adjusting their services and items selling out quickly but these products were available to purchase at the time of publication. By purchasing products through these links are you are helping to support me through the Amazon Affiliate Program. Any support is greatly appreciated. To inquired about a more detailed home workout program email firstname.lastname@example.org
Food is a powerful healer. Whether you are fighting chronic health conditions, healing from a surgery, getting over a cold, or simply feeling worn down, these recipes contain some of the most nourishing ingredients to help you recover and restore. I’ve combined ten of the most nourishing ingredients into 4 Healing Recipes*. They all contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that have been studied and proven to have remedial health effects. These meals are also easy to make and great to share with a friend or family member who might be in need of a healing boost.
First let’s review the 10 Nourishing Ingredients-
Carrots are high in antioxidants that protect against free radical damage, harmful bacteria, viruses, and inflammation. They also help with wound healing, protect cognitive function, and promote eye health due to high levels of beta-carotene (or vitamin A). They contain 400% of your daily value (DV) for vitamin A. They are great sources of vitamin C, vitamin K, and potassium. Some studies have shown benefits of cancer risk reduction.
Garlic is such a powerful healer that there are over 5,000 peer reviewed studies showing the healing benefits of garlic. It is highly effective at killing countless microorganisms responsible for both the most common and the rarest infections, including the common cold. In some studies, eating garlic has been shown to help regulate blood sugar levels, decrease the effects of some diabetes complications, fight infections, reduce LDL cholesterol, and promote healing by encouraging circulation.
Kale is one of the most nutrient dense foods in the world, containing vitamin K (684% DV), vitamin A (206% DV), vitamin C (134% DV), vitamin B (10% DV), and calcium (10% DV) among other nutrients. Kale is also rich in glucosinolates, which are anti-inflammatory and have antibacterial and antiviral properties. It has been shown to lower blood pressure, inactivate carcinogens, reprogram cancer cells to die, and prevent tumor formation.
Ginger has many benefits including fighting infections and decreasing cholesterol. Since it contains gingerol, as well as other anti-inflammatory compounds, ginger also helps decrease inflammation. Ginger has powerful anti-fungal properties and one study showed that ginger was effective in killing strains of drug-resistant bacteria as well. It’s been shown to help regulate blood sugar and improve long-term blood sugar control. Several studies have found that ginger could protect against brain aging and cognitive decline.
Red cabbage is a major immune system booster due to it’s high levels of vitamin C (75% DV). It’s also been shown to lower cholesterol and protect the heart and liver. One compound in red cabbage that may be responsible for these effects is sulforaphane, a potent anti-inflammatory. Red cabbage is also high in vitamin K which is important in maintaining bone health and delaying or preventing osteoporosis because it helps deposit calcium in bones.
Like carrots, sweet potatoes also contain 400% DV of vitamin A. This helps sweet potatoes stimulate the production of immune cells that fight off disease and infection. Sweet potatoes are also high in vitamin C, vitamin B6, and potassium. They have been shown to help kill off harmful cells and have anti-tumor properties. They are high in antioxidants, boost brain function, enhance immunity, and promote eye health.
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
ACV is able to lower cholesterol, keep blood sugar levels stable, and relieve acid reflux. ACV has been used for a variety of different purposes, such as helping detoxify the liver, purify blood, cleanse the lymph nodes, and boost immunity.
Shiitake mushrooms are some of the most beneficial mushrooms that you can find at your local grocery store. They have been shown to be an immune system booster, inhibit tumor growth, and fight infectious disease. They serve as a great source of vitamin B, vitamin D, and selenium.
Turmeric is promoted by many as the most powerful herb at fighting and potentially reversing disease. A study evaluated several anti-inflammatory compounds and found that curcumin (found in turmeric) is among the most effective anti-inflammatory compounds in the world, even more than over the counter drugs. Turmeric speeds up wound healing and helps to manage pain. Studies have found that taking turmeric along with both healthy fats and black pepper, such as in a soup, greatly increases the absorption of turmeric.
Bone broth contains healing compounds like collagen and gelatin that have the power to transform your health. Gelatin is beneficial for restoring the strength of the gut lining and fighting food sensitivities, helping with the growth of probiotics in the gut, and decreasing inflammation levels in the digestive tract. Bone broths contain minerals, like calcium and magnesium, in forms that your body can easily absorb. They contain compounds to reduce inflammation, arthritis, and joint pain. Bone broth is considered a powerful detoxification agent since it helps the digestive system expel waste and promotes the liver’s ability to remove toxins, helps maintain tissue integrity, and improves the body’s use of antioxidants.
Although I prefer to make my own bone broth, for these recipes I used Pacific Bone Broth. I chose to use Pacific Bone Broth because a pre-made is more convenient and Pacific was $2 cash back with myibottaapp. (If you haven’t heard of ibotta yet, you need to check it out. You get cash back on so many healthy groceries. So far this year I’ve received over $130 cash back via Paypal from ibotta. I’m not an affiliate, just a big fan, and strongly encourage all of my clients to use it too. You can thank me later!)
Now for 4 easy to make recipes that each include many of these 10 healing ingredients. For these recipes simply chop then combine all ingredients in a Crock-Pot and cook on low for 4-6 hours or simmer in a covered pot on low for 1 hour. Each recipe serves 4.
Chicken Vegetable Soup
2 chicken breasts, chopped 1 small onion 4 carrots 2 stalks celery 1 ½ cup red cabbage 2 cups bone broth 2 cups water 2 bay leaves 2 cloves garlic 2 tsp sage 1 tsp thyme Salt/pepper
Carrot Turmeric Soup
3 carrots 2 Tbs turmeric 2 Tbs ginger 4 cloves garlic 2 cups bone broth 2 cups water 1 tsp curry 1 tsp apple cider vinegar 1 can coconut milk Salt/pepper
(Can blend in a vented blender for a smoother texture after cooking)
White Bean, Kale and Carrot Soup
4 cups bone broth 1 can white beans 2 carrots 2 cups kale 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar Salt/pepper
My clients often ask me, “What equipment should I have at home to help me with my fitness goals?” My answer is always the same-
Get a foam roller.
Whether your goal is weight loss, muscle gain, or increased endurance, a foam roller will help you reach your goals by preventing injuries and improving post-workout recovery.
Because of our increasingly sedentary lifestyles and lack of mobility, a majority of my new clients come to me with sore knees or backs before even starting a workout program. Luckily, most of these minor aches and pains go away quickly with a little extra focus on stretching and mobility by using the foam roller daily.
I describe foam rolling to my clients as a deep tissue massage that you get to do daily, at home, on your own, for free. Foam rollers massage knots out of your muscles in order to allow those muscles to stretch and move correctly. When muscles are correctly mobile you are less likely to get injured during your workout or even during your daily routine.
Additionally, foam rolling can improve circulation and reduce post-workout muscle soreness.
I recommend using the foam roller every morning to help you move and feel better throughout your day. Also, always use it before your workouts. You’ll want to roll on it for about 20-30 seconds per muscle, ideally after a short cardio warm up.
To warm up the lower body I like using a foam roller as a part of Joe DeFranco’s “Limber 11”. He combines the foam rolling with a lower body mobility series that really gets your muscles ready to move.
My favorite way to warm-up the upper body on the foam roller is a chest stretch. Many people have poor posture with a rounded upper back and tight chest and shoulder muscles. Simply laying on the roller with arms out to the side at 90 degrees, or “cactus arms”, trying to touch hands and elbows to the floor is a great way to open up those muscles. Most of my clients love a little extra assistance from me with this one.
Be aware that when you find a tight spot, foam rolling can feel a bit tender. That is okay and is a sign you’ve found a muscle that is overly tight and needs to be stretched. When that knot starts to relax the rolling will feel less intense. All of my clients feel and move so much better after our time on the roller.
Not all foam rollers are created equal. Some are too soft and don’t do much for helping to relax tight muscles. Others are so hard and bumpy they make you wanna slap yo momma (or your trainer). Some are too short to use for the chest stretch. I find this one from Amazon to be just right – AmazonBasics High-Density Round Foam Roller | 36-inches, Black, $19.99.
Probiotics have been a part of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern diets for thousands of years, in the form of fermented unpasteurized milk and vegetable products such as pickles and sauerkraut.
I didn’t include them in my original post only because I get mine through drinking my homebrewed Kombucha and eating fermented foods a few times per week, so I don’t currently take them as a supplement.
Unfortunately most people don’t get them in the modern American diet so I wanted to make sure to include them as Bonus Number 7 Top Supplement for Women.
#7 – Probiotics
People with deficient good gut bacteria or “probiotics” can experience food allergies, decreased immune function, asthma, and digestive issues. Probiotics conquer potentially dangerous organisms in the intestine, improve immune response, and suppress excessive inflammation. Additionally, probiotics promote the function of the intestinal inner lining to help nutrient absorption.
Due to modern diets, lifestyle, pollution, and the use of antibiotics, the beneficial bacteria in your microbiome is at risk and many people are deficient.
I recommend Garden of Life Raw Probiotics for Women. They are specifically formulated for women with benefits including bowel and digestive regularity, colon health, and vaginal health. Also the ingredients in this supplement are high quality and contain no fillers. It’s best to take 3 capsules per day, one with each meal.
Again, it’s important to combine any recommended supplements with a nutritious diet for optimum health. And feel free to check with your trusted healthcare provider before starting a new supplement.
After having my second child I felt completely drained and my immune system didn’t seem to be working very well. I would get any illness going around and it would knock me out for a couple of weeks. I had a hard time recovering from my workouts and my periods were intense. I had never felt so rundown. I decided to get some blood work done to have my levels checked. The results showed I was low in vitamin D and iron. I was still taking a prenatal multi-vitamin but obviously it wasn’t working.
Why was my multi not cutting it? Well, research is starting to show multivitamins are not effective. Multivitamin manufacturers generally throw the top 24 vitamins and minerals in a single pill and market it to the public, but that’s not really how nutrition works. Some vitamins and minerals are best taken at night while some are best taken in the morning. Some vitamins and minerals are much more effective when taken with food and some on an empty stomach. Additionally, most multi-vitamins are poorly manufactured and sourced based on cheaper cost rather than quality ingredients.
With brand recommendation from my doctor and a local health food store, I found the top-rated vitamin D and iron supplements, started taking them, and began to feel a little better. But I knew there was more I needed to support my over-stressed, under-rested, baby-making system. I started looking for the best supplements for women, focusing on boosting the immune system, maintaining heart health, balancing hormones, and supporting mental well-being. Here are what I found to be the top 6 supplements to meet those needs:
Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency can include fatigue, depression, weak bones, and frequent illness. Natural forms are made from cholesterol in the body in a reaction involving sunshine. Unfortunately, with our increasingly indoor lifestyles we are not getting enough sun to produce as much as we need. As many as 70% of women tested are low in levels of vitamin D. When taken along with zinc at the first sign of a cold the combination is known to reduce the severity and duration. Vitamin D is best taken in the morning with food. I take 5,000 IUs daily of Naturewise Vitamin D3.
Symptoms of zinc deficiency can be slow healing, digestive issues, acne or eczema, depression, lethargy, and anxiety. Zinc has been shown to reduce period cramps and improve mood. It is estimated that 25% of the world is deficient in zinc due to the composition of the modern diet and declining soil conditions. Zinc is best taken in the morning after food and should not be taken at the same time as calcium or iron because they can affect absorption. I take 15 mg per day of Thorne Research Zinc Picolinate.
Symptoms of vitamin K2 deficiency include easy bruising and heavy periods. Vitamin K2 has been shown to help with bone strength, prevent tooth decay, and protect against heart disease. It helps your body deposit calcium in your bones instead of arteries. I prefer Green Pasture Vitamin Oil blend because it includes concentrated butter oil which has naturally occurring vitamins A, D, E and K2, as well as fermented cod liver oil that has heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids. K2 is best taken with food containing fat. I take two capsules of Green Pasture Blue Ice Royal Blend with lunch.
Signs of CoQ10 deficiency can be fatigue, muscle weakness, and chest pain. CoQ10 is an antioxidant and breaks down free radicals that can damage cells in the body. It helps convert food to energy. It promotes heart and brain health and has been shown to reduce heart disease. People have also noticed improvements with exercise induced asthma and migraine headaches when taking CoQ10. CoQ10 needs to be taken with food. I take 100 mg of Healthwise Naturals Ultimate CoQ10 Ubiquinol with lunch.
Signs of iron deficiency can include tiredness, irritability, hair loss and dizziness. Iron is an essential nutrient that carries oxygen from your lungs throughout your body. Proper iron levels can improve brain function, help muscles stay strong, improve immune function, and improve sleep. Coffee, tea and dairy products adversely affect iron’s absorption. Iron also interferes with the absorption of zinc. Since most people drink coffee in the morning, iron is best taken the afternoon 30 minutes before eating. I like Floradix Liquid Iron and Vitamins. It contains iron, vitamins B2, B6, B12 and C all from plant sources. Plant-sourced iron can help avoid nausea associated with some other iron supplements. I take 15 ml of Floradix before dinner, only around my cycle now that I am not iron deficient.
Signs of magnesium deficiency can be poor sleep and anxiety. Magnesium is responsible for over 300 biochemical reactions in the human body including muscle and nerve function and protein synthesis. Additionally, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin D work together to help metabolize fat. The majority of people tested are magnesium deficient. The recommended dose is 315 mg per day. Magnesium is best taken at least 2 hours after eating. I take mine in the form of a yummy Natural Calm Magnesium raspberry lemonade drink before bed.
Now after taking these vitamins I rarely get sick and when I do I can kick it in a few days. My periods are shorter and lighter. I can recover from my workouts in a day or two no problem. I’ve also noticed improvements in my energy level, mood, and sleep. I’ve had multiple clients let me know how much better they feel shortly after beginning this vitamin regimen as well.
Of course it’s important to combine these recommended supplements with a nutritious diet for optimum health. And as with anything you are concerned about, feel free to check with your trusted healthcare provider before starting a new vitamin regimen.
Self-care is super important. The saying is true: You can’t pour from an empty cup. You are able to help others around you more when you are happy and healthy – mind, body and soul. With many stressors throughout our day it takes intentional effort to find positive things that counteract stress and make you feel calm and centered.
For me it was fitness, yoga, happy hour with friends, and maybe a day at the spa. That was until I had children. I didn’t realize how much I relied on those things for my mental and emotional well-being until after I had kids. Until then they were just a part of my routine.
After having my first child, I no longer had the time or flexibility to have much of a self-care routine. However, I found that if I could just get a shower, a nap, and a small workout all in one day I would feel like a person again for a little bit. So that became my goal. Some days I could get one or two of them, occasionally none at all, but those days I could get all three were amazing and would recharge my soul.
Then, after having my second child two years later, I had that same small self-care goal: shower, workout and nap… And let me tell you they did not happen often. Between the exhaustion from having my second poor sleeper, working around a toddler and baby schedule, trying to be a good part-time employee and full-time mom, and limited funds, my self-care went out the window. It hit me like a freight train how important self-care was when I had none at all. I was trying to pour from an empty cup and as much as I’d like to think I hid it well, I’m pretty sure everyone around me could tell. Lack of self-care does a number on my patience!
I had to adjust and redefine my self-care again before I lost myself completely.
It took some time to let go of wanting my old self-care routine back but I had to work with where I was. I realized that if I went upstairs at night a few minutes before everyone else and read a book, wrote in a gratitude journal (I got this one for only $6.99) or did some relaxation exercises, that was enough to help me find a little inner calm. So I made that my new self-care routine. It got me through those tough months.
Eventually, as the kids grew and their schedules changed I was able to start doing a few workouts per week at home while they napped, ones I now share with all my mommy clients. I was also able to get in a few naps and shower regularly (you’re welcome). And now, a little over two years later, I still make self-care a priority. I may never have the time or freedom to work out two hours per day or catch a happy hour without planning it weeks in advance, but I am scheduling enough time for me to recharge and making sure it happens.
For anyone in the middle of trying to figure out this balancing act of Mommy Self-care, here are a few tips that helped me along the way:
Set Goals and Have a Plan.
It may be a goal of a shower, a workout and a nap. It may be eating a healthy meal and reading a chapter in a new book (Bunmi Laditan’sConfessions of a Domestic Failure was silly and perfect for me at the time). Find whatever you feel is beneficial and attainable for you then work towards those goals by setting specific times and boundaries around that time.
Let Go of What You Can’t Control.
When you have children to care for sometimes things out of your control like illness or cranky growth spurts come out of nowhere and get in the way of your self-care routine for that day or week. Because self-care is about long term physical and mental health, it is important to not let one set back send you into a downward spiral. Support your family and then make next week even better.
Don’t underestimate the power of your food choices when it comes to easy and attainable mommy self-care. Cutting out processed foods and sugar, eating lots of fresh fruits and veggies, and including some helpful vitamins can improve your energy and mood incredibly. I would stock up on ingredients for 7 Crock-Pot Freezer Meals, double it and have 14 healthy freezer meals ready to go for when I was too tired to cook dinner. This is something I still do when I know I have a busy week coming up and bonus – it helps our family save on our food budget!
Don’t doubt that you will find yourself again. Remind yourself that the children will eventually grow and become more independent and open more options but for a while self-care might just mean taking a shower, and that’s ok!
Let Go of Mom Guilt.
By taking care of yourself you are being a good parent and setting the example for you children so they’ll learn to take care of themselves too. You’ll also have more patience for them and everyone else!
And for those Mommas with older children who feel they have lost themselves along the way…
It’s Never Too Late.
Start now. In the morning, before you help anyone else with anything, go on a walk. Even for just 10 minutes. Listen to the birds, feel the breeze and take that time for yourself. With a self-care plan, you can find balance and get back to where you want to be.
I often recommend Crock-Pot meals for my clients who struggle with having the time and energy to cook a healthy dinner after their busy day. Here are my 7 favorite gluten-free, dairy-free, and family friendly recipes. With just a little planning you can prep these healthy recipes in under 90 minutes, no chopping required!
1.5 lb pork loin
16 oz fresh or frozen green beans
3 tbs Dijon mustard
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1.5 lbs chicken (I use half thighs and half breasts)
1 bag spinach
15 oz tomato sauce
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
red pepper flakes
1.5 lbs chicken
6 cups frozen veggies
½ cup gluten-free soy sauce
2 cloves garlic
2 tbs olive oil
1.5 lbs chicken
6 cups frozen veggies
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp chili powder
2 ts cumin
1 ts paprika
BBQ Pork and Carrots
2 lbs pork
4 cups (~32 oz) carrots
1 cup ketchup
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp parprika
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
Balsamic Beef Roast
2 lbs beef chuck shoulder or pot roast
4 cups (~32oz) carrots
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce
3 cloves garlic
red pepper flakes
2 cups broth
Sweet and Sour Meatballs
16oz Coleman chicken meatballs
6 cups frozen veggies
¼ cup honey
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup ketchup
3 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce
Just combine all ingredients in 1 gallon freezer bags and they are ready to store. These meals are good for up to 3 months in the freezer. When you are ready to use them simply thaw in the fridge overnight and then dump them in the Crock-Pot on low for 6-8 hours. When it’s time for dinner you will have a delicious, healthy meal ready to eat with out any hassle and minimal clean up. On days when I workout and want to add some extra carbohydrates, we either cook a pot of rice to serve on the side or serve them with corn tortillas taco style. Otherwise they are all moderately low in carbs to help with weight-loss goals.
I also highly recommend using a wholesale store like Costco or Sam’s Club to buy ingredients in bulk to add saving money to the benefit of these meals. I doubled these recipes and paid only $180 at Costco for mostly organic ingredients for all 14 meals. That will make enough for dinner for our family of four plus leftover lunches for my husband for two weeks.
I’ve been a Personal Trainer for over 8 years. After having my first child 4 years ago, I saw how different my body was and took a course in Pre and Post-Natal Fitness with the goal to help other moms through those changes. Little did I know Moms would become some of my favorite yet worst clients. See, Personal Trainers that work at gyms only get paid after they train a session with a client, and I soon saw my paycheck take a hit. Here’s why…
Moms are nurses.
They are the primary caregivers when children get sick. During the months of November through March, my mom clients are 75% more likely than other clients to have to cancel their session to be able to stay home to take care of a sick child.
Moms are chauffeurs.
When it comes to extracurricular activities for children, moms are the primary transportation. They take them to soccer, cheerleading practice, and often have to cancel a session when there’s a game or competition.
Moms are helpers.
The classroom holiday party, PTA meeting, or last minute school projects come up and moms cancel their sessions in order to help out.
Throw in a few cancellations for the many other jobs moms do and sometimes just not being able to fit it all in and you can see why it’s tough for a trainer to count on Mom clients to be able to make a living.
But here’s why I will never stop training them, even though it might not be the best for my bank account…
Moms need support and encouragement.
Being a mom is challenging, especially when children are young. We often put the needs of others in front of our own. It is so important, though, to continue to take care of our health. I tell my mom clients you will often find yourself taking two steps forward and one step back, but as long as you keep going, you will eventually find yourself in a better place. One day the kids will be grown and you will have freedom back in your schedule. And at that time you need to make sure you don’t find yourself in a place where you don’t recognize yourself or are facing preventable health concerns. So keep steppin’ Momma, you’ve got this!
Moms need help and guidance.
We often feel pressure to be the best mom, with little direction. It can be stressful and exhausting having to constantly research and make decisions for our families. Often, there’s not enough energy left over to learn about how to take care of ourselves. Our bodies change after having children, sometimes in ways we aren’t even aware of, and it can be confusing. Luckily, I’ve learned some of the best exercises to support my mom clients, so you can leave the thinking to me when it comes to your fitness routine. You can feel confident that you will be getting healthy and strong while working through those changes. That means no more sit ups!
Most importantly, Moms need Moms.
If you need to come and cry about how hard it is to juggle all the demands of being a mom while I take you through an awesome workout, let’s do it. I’ve cried about it too, and I’m proud of you for showing up! If you cancel on me for the 3rd time in 3 weeks because another one of your kids is sick again, I get it. Mine will probably pick up the same cold in a few days. I have some great workouts you can do at home! Whatever my mom clients are going through, I listen without judgment because I know mommin’ can be tough. We are getting through it together and coming out stronger on the other side.