Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Bare Basics Workout

Whether you’re on the road, under budget or just need a break from the weights and gym dates…this workout offers the variety and intensity you crave.  You don’t need any equipment or fancy gym memberships!  This full body routine will increase your heart rate and help you drop excess body fat when incorporated into a healthy lifestyle, including a nutrient-dense diet and rest. 
Complete two rounds of each set then complete one final round of each cardio movement.  Rest as little as possible to keep the heart rate up.  Warm up 3-5 minutes beforehand.  Modify as needed.
  • High knee run - 30 seconds
  • Alternating reverse lunges with arms overhead - 30 seconds
  • Full arm plank - 30 seconds
  • Burpees - 30 seconds
  • Squats with forward arm press as the legs extend - 30 seconds
  • Wall sit - 30 seconds
  • Jumping jacks - 30 seconds
  • Pushups - 30 seconds
  • Forearm side plank - 15 seconds/side
  • Jump squat - 30 seconds
  • Full plank with shoulder taps - 30 seconds
  • Side to side squat - 30 seconds 
  • Mountain climbers - 30 seconds
  • Lunge with right knee raise and core rotation to right - 15 seconds, then switch sides
  • Plank walkout with 2 knee drives - 5x
This post was originally featured here:

The Work-Workout Balance

Work hard and the results will come, right?  Kind of.  If your goal is to get in shape, then yes, you will have to work hard in the gym (or wherever you fit in your fitness).  But you will also have to manage your diet and make sure your sleep schedule is on fleek.  Likewise, there is more to it when it comes to your making “gains” in your career. It takes long hours, evening social events, and sometimes lengthy travel in order to make progress and move upward.  So what happens when those requirements interfere with your gym time and your promise to replace beers with banana-spinach protein shakes?  The following solutions will ensure you overcome those pesky barriers to success. 
The Problem:  Happy Hour
The Solution
It’s been a long day filled with phone calls, emails and meetings. You’ve made some final decisions regarding a big project while texts from your indecisive friends pop up on your phone.  Pizza or burgers?  Outdoor beer garden or indoor with flat screens to watch the game?  The only decision you want to make is what time to leave the office.  One of the problems with happy hour, is it rarely lasts an hour.  It might turn into dinner following your after-work drink, which then turns into “one more” after finishing the entire burger and fries you ordered because your alcohol-influenced self read it on the menu as “protein.”
-Avoid showing up to happy hour on an empty stomach.  Drinking on an empty stomach will increase the impact of the alcohol, and decrease your ability to resist that plate of nachos.
-Have a snack beforehand.
-It’s also a good idea to be the last one to have the first drink.  The later you begin your happy hour, the less alcohol you will likely consume throughout the evening.
The Problem: Burning the Midnight Oil
The Solution
Maybe you're up with the birds to catch that rush of endorphins that you chase at the gym. Maybe you're up late every night, replying to every email and reviewing every power point slide of your presentation. If you can relate to either of these, or (worse) both, there's a chance you're not getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep each night. If you'd rather burn fat than "midnight oil," prioritizing your sleep is a must. The quantity and quality of rest you get has a direct impact on your mood, energy levels and the hormones that support muscle growth and control your appetite. Having trouble calling it quits?
-Unplug at the same time every night to develop consistent sleep habits.
-Retire from the phone, computer and TV so you can recharge your body along with those devices.
-Consider using an eye mask to reduce the impact of light in your room.  Even a subtle amount can affect your melatonin levels, a hormone which plays a role in weight control and immune health.
The Problem:  The Vending Machine and Food Delivery Services
The Solution
Remember when hunger struck and you instinctively ran to the vending machine to grab a snack? With countless food delivery services, you might find yourself grabbing your phone just as quickly as those Gardetto’s.  Overcome endless, convenient food options and a bottomless burrito bowl by filling up with these tips.
-Schedule healthy food. The convenience of many smartphone apps makes order food fast, easy and efficient.  Use this to your advantage! Know which restaurants or meal delivery services offer nutrient dense options.  Many of them offer customized options such as gluten-free, nut-free, Paleo and vegetarian.
-If you’re eating out, don’t be afraid to create your own “meal” of side dishes.  A few of these “micro-meals” can add up to create a well rounded lunch.  Aim to include a protein, carb and veggie.  An example might be a baked potato, loaded with steamed broccoli and cottage cheese.
-Go with the tried and true "old school" method of packing your own.  And keep snacks at your desk! 
The Problem:  When (and where?) to Workout
The Solution
There's an increasing number of hotels and workplaces that provide gyms and wellness programs. Whether you're on the road or at work, there are countless opportunities to workout regardless of what your HR department might offer. Many companies provide free access to onsite gyms, or discounted memberships to one in your community. Onsite fitness centers, or those at a hotel, may not be "all inclusive" but the most important part isn't the amount of equipment or how new it is, but what you do with it.  Regardless of where you are or what equipment you have access to, keep the following in mind.
-Implement activities throughout your workday.  Think planks, wall sits, and stair climbs!  Never underestimate the significance of staying active.  Before roll your eyes and think “I’ll pass on burning the 10 calories,” take into account the energy-impact, how it will contribute to a quick mood boost.  It might also be exactly what you need to prevent a trip to your co-worker’s candy jar.
-Keep a pair of gym shoes and workout clothes in your office. While you might not have access to a shower, you never know when you might be able to get outside for a quick walk or outdoor circuit.  Check out The Bare Basics Workout for an equipment free routine you can do anywhere.  
These tips, along with commitment and an open mind, will help you achieve progress and bring you closer to your fitness goals despite work-related obstacles. What are your favorite ways to stay active and maintain a healthy lifestyle when balancing responsibilities at work? 
This post was originally featured here:

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Timed Track Workout Series

Are you an athlete? Or do you consider yourself to be anything BUT an athlete? If you answered yes to that second question, it's time to shift your perception!

I never considered myself an athlete. In fact, my mom signed me up for high school tennis as a way to be "social" and "break out of my shell." While it served its purpose, it also broke my ego--when the tennis coach ordered a double X t-shirt for me. 

Regardless, I've overcome my negative mentality and social awkwardness (though if you're an introvert like me, you'll understand you still crave that alone time to reflect and energize). In recent weeks, I've asked myself "what can I do to mix up my routine? I work so hard in the gym and have hit a plateau." Physically and mentally. Have you ever felt that way?

My solution...the Timed Track Workout Series! I'm going to be heading to the track at least once a week for an outdoor workout...and, yep, it's going to be TIMED. Truthfully, this concept brings back memories of tennis practice where we did bleacher runs, alternating with laps around the track, performed dreaded suicides across the court lines...and, my least favorite, Indian runs (are they still called that?). But, if you're not feeling "nervous" every now and then, are you really doing anything to make progress and initiate change?

I'll be adding routines along the way, but for now, start with what's listed. If you cannot access a track, run around the block. If you don't have NuBells, use dumbbells (though the NuBells ARE PRETTY COOL). If you don't have dumbbells, use body weight.  Whether it takes you 33 minutes or 57, whether you walk or run...just START. Be sure to record your time and watch yourself progress as you incorporate this into your routine. 

1 lap
Reverse lunges - 20 total
Side plank - knee to elbow 10/side (complete all then switch sides)

1 lap
Squat with shoulder press - 20
Full plank with side knee drive - 10/side (complete all then switch sides)

1 lap
Front lunges - 20 total
Plank walkout with pushup - 5

1 lap
Lunge with knee and biceps curl - 10/side (complete all then switch sides)
Side plank with hip lift - 10/side (complete all then switch sides)

Beginners: Complete 1 round
Intermediate/Advanced: Complete 2 rounds

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Amaranth Pizza "Pasta" Wraps

This recipe was inspired by amaranth, a whole-grain, gluten free staple unique to the Aztecs.  It contains all of the essential amino acids, including lysine, which is lacking in most grains.  Amaranth is a complete protein and is extremely versatile! It adds protein and texture to this delicious baked dish.

1 Spaghetti squash
2 1/2 c. Vegetable broth
2 t. Garlic powder
2 t. Italian seasoning 
2 t. Onion powder
2 T. Olive oil
1 1/2 c. chopped tomatoes
5 low carb wraps
1 1/2 c. Mozzarella cheese
2 c. marinara sauce
1/2 c. Mozzarella cheese (as topping)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Split spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and place it face up in a baking dish with 1/4 c. of water.  Bake for approximately 40-45 minutes. Allow to cool, then use fork to "pull" out spaghetti-like strands into bowl.

Bring vegetable broth to a boil.  Add amaranth.  Reduce to simmer and cook for approximately 25 minutes.

Mix seasonings, olive oil,  1 1/2 c. cheese and tomatoes in bowl with spaghetti squash.  Coat baking dish with cooking oil and begin to fill each wrap with mixture, rolling and stacking alongside each other.  Top with 2 c. marinara sauce and remaining 1/2 c. cheese.  Bake for approximately 30-40 minutes.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Breast Implant Illness: Q & A With SJ McShane

We all have that one friend.  The one who shares a similar outlook.  Who lives a similar lifestyle. Who has similar goals.  And whom you've never met!  That's right.  Sara-Jane and I have been "social media friends" for quite some time now.  She's been a source of inspiration and advice for nearly two years.  So when she recently shared a very personal story, I felt compelled to interview her and help her educate others, providing women with the knowledge and resources they need to make educated decisions.

Name:  Sara-Jane McShane 
Hometown: Sarasota, FL
Career: Licensed Massage Therapist, Fitness Writer, Personal Trainer

"Breast Implant Illness is a sickness that affects hundreds of thousands of women's lives.  It's placed in the autoimmune category, as implanting can trigger a vast variety of autoimmune symptoms/diseases in women.  The foreign object in the body can aggravate the immune, but more importantly, there are 40 plus chemicals in the implants that have been known to seep out or "gel bleed" into the system causing very serious side effects.  We are told the implants are "safe" but, time has proved that to be false.

Multiple women who explant due to illness are shown their implants post surgery, and many of them contain mold.  100 percent of women will develop a "capsule" around their impact.  This is the body's way of fighting the foreign object.  The capsule is made of body tissue and when tested, has been shown to host harmful chemicals and silicone, even with saline implants as they have a silicone shell.

Dr. Barnett of Sarasota, FL states 'two out of three women who come to me ill gain their health back post-explant.' Thankfully, I am one of them."

Megan: What is your favorite way to stay active:
SJ: I absolutely love the outdoors, especially the mountains. I could hike all day! I also love to take my workouts to the trail for a trail run, and to an outdoor track for sprints.

Megan:  How's life? What are your hobbies and what are you most passionate about?
SJ:  Life is great right now! I'm very passionate about helping others, I hope to do that for the rest of my life in any way I can.  My hobbies are fitness, outdoor activities, nature, animals, cooking, writing and refurbishing old furniture.  And if eating is a hobby, I should mention that!

Megan:  What is your typical day like?
SJ: I have a full time job at a spa, I write for fitness magazines and do some personal training and nutrition coaching.  My schedule is different every day which I like.  A few days a week I food prep, and my workout times and days change as my schedule changes.

Megan: Was it always that way?
SJ: No, not at all.  IN fact 11 years ago before I lost almost 30 pounds, I never prepped food, ate clean or trained!  I had completely different jobs and desires. Life is so much better now a days, and I couldn't imagine it any other way.

Megan:  What is the biggest obstacle you have overcome in your life?
SJ:  The biggest obstacle I've overcome in my life is encountering BII, Breast Implant Illness.  It's a topic that had not been discussed in the past, but is now starting to surface rapidly.  Hundreds of thousands of women have suffered and are currently suffering from autoimmune illnesses due to implants.  Be it the foreign object disrupting the body's immune response, or the 40 plus toxic chemicals that make up the implant (silicone and saline), women are connecting the dots.  This autoimmune disease can take your life away and is extremely debilitating.  You can lack all energy and develop all sorts of horrible side effects such as abnormal heart beats, body rashes, dizziness, anxiety, insomnia, weakness, muscle twitches and much more.

Megan:  What was life like leading up to that occurrence?
SJ:  My life before I was sick was great.  My energy was over the top! Sometimes I would workout for hours outside just because I had the energy and loved the feeling.  I could balance lots of tasks at once.  I was extremely motivated, writing for a handful of fitness magazines, working and still wanting to do more.

Megan:  A lot of people reference a turning point when they knew they needed to make a change.  Did you have one? How would you describe it?
SJ:  My moment of rescue was when I found my support group for Breast Implant Illness.  From that moment forward I knew what I had to do.  I explanted (implant removal) and almost immediately, my body began to feel "normal" again.  I'm not sure there are any words to fully describe that feeling.  To have been sick for so long and to feel like myself again is completely priceless.

Megan: Is there a particular person or resource that you looked to for inspiration and help?
SJ:  My inspiration and help came from God.  I asked him to show me what was making me so sick, to show me what was taking my life away.  Eventually, I found a support group called "Breast Implant Illness by Nicole."  Each and every girl in that group had the same symptoms as me, and post implant removal gained their health back.  They have been an amazing support through all of this.

Megan:  What are your current goals?
SJ:  My most important goal right now is to get my strength back.  Before I got sick, I was able to "lat  pull" 100 pounds--just under my body weight.  I ran my first half marathon, I completed a sprint triathlon and my "farmers carry" for strong man training was 105 pounds in each hand.  Feeling strong is indescribable and I can't wait to be there again.

Megan:  What advice do you have for others who are going through a similar situation or difficulty?
SJ:  The  best advice I can give to other women suffering from BII is to keep a great support system around you that understands exactly what they are going through.  Just like any other illness, having others around you that have walked down the road is very important.  Right now there are lots of BII support groups for anyone suffering, which is great!

Megan:  What, if anything, would you do differently?
SJ:  A few months ago I would have said "I would have never opted to have implants!"  But, now, I wouldn't change a thing.  As I said before, I love helping people.  Without this experience I wouldn't be able to help other women from making the same mistake.  I wouldn't be able to lead sick moment o the proper information.  Since coming out with my story, "The Ugly Side of Breast Implants," I have hundred of women contact myself and our support group, many of them sick or has implants removed due to illness.

Megan: Looking back, how has this experience strengthened you?
SJ:  Fiercely!  To know what it's like to be weak makes me so much stronger today. I understand people's pain differently. I can sympathize with them better and to me that's a form of strength we all need.  I know all of the bad is being used for the good.

Looking for additional information or resources?  Visit Healing Breast Implant Illness or click here to join the Facebook support group.  You can also read Sara-Jane's cover story from Natural Muscle & Fitness magazine by clicking here.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Cardio-Cable Core Workout

If you're like a lot of gym enthusiasts, you may have a love/hate relationship with the treadmill that turns to hate after ten minutes. And the long, slow upward climb on the stepmill feels like a trek to reach the top of Mount Everest. As a result, I created this core-inspired cardio cable workout. It's a great way to get your heart rate up while focusing on full body, particularly the abs and back, movements. Complete three rounds of the following with minimal rest. Treadmill work should be done around a 7/8 on a scale of 10 (modify by walking briskly, jogging, sprinting, and/or using the incline!). For the cable movements, use a weight that is challenging but allows you to complete the reps with good form. Overall, the routine should take close to 30 minutes to complete. 

Treadmill: 5 minutes

Mountain climbers: 30 seconds
Cable low to high woodchops: 15x

Burpees: 30 seconds
Standing cable rotations: 15x/side

Jump squats: 30 seconds
Lunge with knee and cable row: 15x/side

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Italian Crunch Salad

This salad is infused with a lot of flavor and a ton of nutrients! Stimulate your tastebuds with Amore, feed your muscles with all of the protein provided by the tofu, and stay full by indulging in healthy fats.

Baked Tofu
1 package of drained tofu
3 T olive oil 
3 small squeezes of Amore Sun-Dried Tomato Paste

2 c Spinach
1 T sunflower seeds
2 T walnuts 
1/3 c shredded cheese

2 T olive oil
2 t apple cider vinegar
1/2 t onion powder
1 t Italian seasoning
1 t minced garlic
3 small squeezes of Amore Sun-Dried Tomato Paste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut tofu into small cubes. Mix olive oil and Amore then pour over tofu to coat. Bake 20 minutes, flip tofu, bake 20 more minutes. 

Prepare spinach and salad ingredients.  Top with desired amount of baked tofu.  Combine dressing ingredients and pour over salad.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Hustle. Rest. Repeat.

In a world that encourages you to "just do it" - with no excuses, while going hard, after hustling (and before grinding), a rest day can feel like giving up. Years ago, I supported the notion of working out seven days a week.  I was convinced that every workout had to be as difficult, if not more so, than the previous.  Over time, physical stress accumulated and the outcome was a herniated disc. Since then, I have found balance at the gym and in life.  Some days I feel my strongest after completing a couple of pull-ups.  Other days, all I need is a set of dumbbells, my XBAR and some warm weather to feel on top of the world after completing a backyard bootcamp. 

When you avoid listening to your body, your body will speak up.  Usually, in ways that stop you in your tracks--literally and figuratively.  The following are examples of what can happen when you over train and under restore.
  • Injury
  • Adrenal fatigue
  • Depression
  • Low energy
  • Excessive weight loss or weight gain
  • Mental fog
  • Elevated resting heart rate
  • Loss of energy
  • Muscle aches and pains that do not go away
If you're running your body like you run a business, ask yourself "what's my bottom line?"  Is the risk of working 24/7, 365 days a year worth the reward?  What are you gaining by pulling all nighters and pushing deadlines? 

The Fuel Your Fitness Method embraces activity, nutrition and restoration.  Dedicate at least one day per week to restoration.  This might mean staying in bed until 11am.  Or taking a yoga class.  Restoration is meant to calm the body and calm the mind.  Avoid doing anything that requires a great deal of energy.
Over time you will discover the balance between pushing yourself and knowing when to back off.  Embracing restoration will improve your self awareness and your ability to listen to your body. The next time you think about going hard...ask yourself if what you really need is to go home. 

Feedback? Suggestions? Comment below. I'd love to know your favorite way to restore.  For more information about online and in-person training programs, click here.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

3 Components of Fitness Success

As we continually strive to increase our strength, lose fat and improve our physique, we work hard to develop healthy habits we can maintain.  Going to the gym and avoiding the drive-thru can help us achieve our fitness goals.  However, it takes more than eating better and exercising to see results.  Take the following three components into consideration and be mindful of each.

1.  Nutrition.  Let's focus on "having"  diet, rather than "being on" on diet.  Your diet should be nutrient dense and in alignment with your goals and lifestyle.  When it comes to weight loss and bodybuilding, I prioritize protein.  Protein (chicken, egg, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, whey powders) helps build and sustain muscle.  The more muscle you have, the more efficient your body is at burning fat.  From there, I focus on complex carbs (sweet potatoes, oatmeal, grains, vegetables).  Keep processed foods and sugar to a minimum.  They spike your insulin levels which can leave you feeling hungry shortly after you eat.  Consistently high insulin levels have also been tied to obesity and other diseases.  Healthy fats are also integral to a balanced diet.  By including fats (peanuts, coconut oil, nut butter, olive oil) in your diet, you will also ensure satiety.  Click here for a full list of the Fuel Your Fitness grocery list.

2.  Activity.  When it comes to training, I like to encourage "peaks and valleys."  You might not do a kick-a$$ interval routine 7 days a week, but some HIIT mixed with strength training, stretching, jogging and bodyweight strength work provides the variety your body, and mind, needs.  Cardio is important for losing fat and improving for maintaining muscle mass and burning fat 24/7.  The more muscle you have the more efficient your body is at burning calories throughout the day.  Also, remember to stretch!
3.  Rest.  If working out is good for me, I might as well do more of it, right?  Well, yes and no.  If you go from 2 weekly workouts to 5, great!  If you go from 2 weekly workouts to 7, not so great!  While it depends on the type of training you are doing, it is not advisable to log endless hours at the gym day after day.  Our bodies adapt physically to the pressure we place on them.  However, if your stress level (physical and emotional) is high and the hours you sleep are low, this could delay (or inhibit) your progress.
Be patient.  Your fitness program should be attainable and sustainable. All good things take time.  For information about the Fuel Your Fitness Method, click here.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

8 Reasons You Should be Using Resistance Bands

What comes to mind when you hear the word "resistance"?  If you're anything like me you may think "unwilling to change."  "Hesitant."

In this context, resistance might keep you in your comfort zone.  It is difficult for most of us to break through resistance and discover what happens when we step outside of the norm.

Most of the time, it's during these moments of breakthrough when we discover how strong and capable we are.  Emotionally, mentally AND physically.  Physical resistance, in the form of strength training, can take place with body weight movements, dumbbells and resistance (elastic) bands.

Whether you are looking to begin a fitness program, break through a plateau or are ready for a new challenge, resistance bands can provide a solution.  There are several reasons why you should consider introducing them to your routine.

  1. Improve your health.  You can increase the strength of your muscles and your bone density with resistance training.  This will lead to an increase of growth factors in your body, some of which promote the growth factors of neurons that will benefit your brain as well. Training with resistance bands can also increase stamina, flexibility and range of motion.
  2. Improve your stability.  With elastic resistance, your body is able to perform more functional movements that mimic both daily activities and sport specific movements.  Unlike free weights, elastic bands do not rely on gravity to provide resistance (Jim Stoppani, PhD).
  3. Lose fat.  Strength training can increase your muscle mass, which can contribute to fat loss.  Lean muscle, even at rest, burns more calories than body fat.  Therefore, by increasing the amount of muscle you have, your body will become more efficient at decreasing body fat.
  4. Change your routine, change your body.  Your body quickly adapts to routine movements.  Resistance bands can be used alone or alternated with body weight or dumbbell movements for results that stimulate the body and prevent boredom.   One advantage of resistance bands over free weights is linear variable resistance.  Meaning, as the range of motion of the exercise increases, the resistance provided by the elastic band also increases (Jim Stoppani, PhD).
  5. You can complete a FULL BODY workout using resistance bands.  The options are endless.  Resistance bands can be done with body weight (think squats, lunges, arm curls, shoulder presses).  And they can also be done when anchored to a wall or other object, allowing you to perform wood chop movements, incline chest presses, core rotations and more.
  6. Resistance bands are portable and affordable.  Too busy to get to the gym?  Prefer to workout outdoors?  Whether you're tied down by emails or kiddie carpools, the convenience of taking resistance bands with you means fewer excuses to skip your workout.  Waiting for tee-ball practice to end?  Set up stations in the field and complete a cardio-strength circuit using resistance bands.  One of my favorite ways to train using resistance bands is with the XBAR.  Learn more about the XBAR here and save 10% on your entire purchase with code MEGANLINGE.  Shipping is free.  There are several varieties of resistance loops, figure 8s and other bands here from Power Systems.
    The XBAR Fitness system comes with three levels of resistance bands.
  7. Easy to store.  Unlike that treadmill which has become a second closet, resistance bands require very little storage space.  They are light weight and can easily be stashed in a suitcase, duffel bag or home gym.
  8. They accommodate all fitness levels. As you progress, so can the intensity of your resistance band workout. The thickness of a resistance band will determine how difficult it is to move through a given range of motion.  The thicker the band, the more challenging it will be.  You can also adjust the intensity by giving the band more or less slack (one foot on the band for arm curls can be intensified by standing on the band with two feet.  From there, bring the feet wider for the most difficult option).  You can even use more than one band at a time for increased challenge. 
Keep in mind that the most successful fitness program is the one you can adhere to and enjoy doing.  Experiment.  Try new products.  Try new routines.  And if you need guidance, reach out to me. For more information about online and in-person training programs, visit the Fuel Your Fitness Method page or contact me at  How do you implement resistance bands into your routine? Comment below and let me know.

Monday, February 15, 2016

XBAR Training & Events

The XBAR fitness system is a "personal gym," with fully adjustable resistance bands, allowing users of all ages and fitness levels to enjoy the workouts.  I discovered this product in the fall of 2014 when it was featured in Muscle & Fitness Hers.  The XBAR Fitness system has also been featured in Muscle & Fitness Magazine, Oxygen Magazine, Active OC Magazine and is exploding in the fitness industry with rave reviews.

Used by hundreds of trainers and fitness professionals, the variety and portability make it appealing to athletes, stay at home moms and dads, senior citizens, children and fitness enthusiasts.  Resistance band training is a great way to mix up your routine and stimulate the stabilizing muscles for added intensity and variety.

Receive 10% off your purchase with code MeganLinge at checkout.  Shipping is free!  XBAR training programs and group discounts are available as well.

XBAR: Full Length Interval Workout

Join me for this full length workout featuring the XBAR! The routine includes bodyweight aerobic intervals and strength moves (squats, lunges, arm curls/extensions and more!).  NOTE:  The word "aerobic" used during this video is in reference to the bodyweight intervals, meant to increase the heart rate.  The strength intervals, as done here, can also be considered aerobic.

XBAR: Lower Body Workout 3.2015

This leg series targets the glutes, hamstrings, quads, core and shoulders.

XBAR: Upper Body Workout 3.2015

This upper body series targets the shoulders, core, upper back, biceps and triceps.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Fuel Your Fitness Grocery List

Maintaining a healthy diet does not have to be stressful and time consuming.  Equipped with the right resources, it IS possible to plan meals for the week, shop efficiently and prepare food that is full of nutrients and flavor!

I have created the following list based on personal experience and resources that I have come to trust over the years. I am a certified personal trainer and certified fitness instructor with over 15 years of experience in the industry.  Please be advised that it is best to consult your doctor or a registered dietitian if you have specific dietary needs.  The following tips offer advice to ease the stress of shopping.

  • Emphasize moderation and prioritize foods that are minimally processed. 
  • Eat for energy! Provide your body with the right kind of fuel and you'll feel less tired and more energetic.
  • Avoid labeling food as "good" or "bad." 
  • Be aware of excess sugar and the impact it has on your health.  Here is a great article by Kristin Kirkpatrick of Huffington Post, 10 Things You Don't Know About Sugar.
  • Also be aware of prices and the impact they have on your wallet! 
  • If you're looking to improve your financial fitness, I suggest downloading apps to your favorite grocery stores.  Typically they feature sale prices, coupons and more.  My favorite is the Target Cartwheel app.  From time to time I use the Kroger and Winn Dixie apps.

Brown Rice
Sweet Potato
Whole Wheat Pasta
Oatmeal (The flavored varieties have a lot of added sugar, stick with unflavored and add fruit, protein powder, nut butters and more)
Low Carb Tortillas
Ezekiel Bread or Whole Wheat Bread
Fresh, Frozen or Canned in Light Syrup Fruit (prioritize fresh, then frozen, then canned)
Fresh, Frozen or No Salt Added Canned Vegetables

Coconut Oil
Olive Oil
Nut Butters (Natural, avoid reduced fat because they contain a lot of added sugar)
Fish Oil

Nonfat, Plain Greek Yogurt
Lowfat Cottage Cheese
White Meat Chicken or Turkey (remove skin)
Beef: Round, Sirloin, Chuck Arm, Loin, and Extra-Lean Ground
Pork: Leg, Shoulder, Tenderloin
Protein Powders (There are a lot of great options at Vitamin Shoppe. Shipping is FREE when you spend $25 or more.)
Fish and Shellfish (Not battered)

Hot Sauce
Herbs & Spices
Flavored Vinegars

Be proud of yourself for taking the time to plan your meals and shop wisely.  Nutrition is just one component of a healthy lifestyle.  Make sure include restoration and activity as well.  For more information about my online programs and Fuel Your Fitness Method, click here. What are YOUR favorite healthy shopping tips? Have I left any off the list? Comment below and share on social media with #FYFmethod!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Why Should I Hire a Fitness Trainer?

Whether you are new to exercise, have reached a plateau, or are looking to improve your athletic ability, working with a Certified Personal Trainer provides several advantages over working out on your own. I am certified through AFAA as a Personal Trainer and Group Exercise Instructor.  I am also insured and CPR/AED/First Aid certified.  My experience ranges from working with beginners, athletes, recreational exercisers, prenatal clients, to clients preparing for their wedding day! 

Accountability. Have trouble getting up early for a workout? Tempted to go home after a long day at the office? Weekly checkins provide added commitment to your goals and health.

Goals. What are your goals? Do you know where your current fitness level is and where you want to be? What is a realistic way for YOU to get there? A trainer will provide guidance and programming based on these factors.

Challenge.  A trainer will challenge you to reach your personal best, encouraging you to go beyond your mental and physical abilities while still achieving safe and effective results.

Variety. The body adapts quickly and the same exercises day in and day out will result in little to no progress. A trainer will vary the sets, reps, resistance and exercise methods so you are challenged physically and never bored!

Learn more about my Fuel Your Fitness Method online program by clicking here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Beet Crisp Protein Salad

The Beet Crisp Protein Salad is a delicious way to increase your protein and nutrient intake.  By making your own dressing you also avoid a lot of unnecessary added sugar.  

Spinach is a very nutrient-dense food.  It is low in calories and high in vitamins and minerals.  Spinach is full of flavonoids which act as antioxidants, protecting the body from free radicals.

Beets impact the liver by acting as a purifier for the blood.  They can also lower your blood pressure because of their vasodilating effects.  Beets contain betaine, a substance used in certain treatments of depression.  The trytophan in beets relaxes the mind and improves mindfulness.

The magnesium in sunflower seeds can also promote a healthy mood. Sunflower seeds also contain selenium, as essential nutrient that plays a crucial role in hormone metabolism.

Enlightened Crisps are a great vegetarian source of protein.  They are also high in fiber.  These broad beans are a member of the legume family.  Broad beans are also rich in folate and B vitamins.  

Beet Crisp Protein Salad

2 c spinach
1 3.5 oz package of Enlightened Sea Salt Crisps
1/2 c beets
2 T sunflower seeds
2 T feta cheese

1/4 c olive oil 
1 T apple cider vinegar
2 t dijon mustard
2 t honey
1 t garlic powder 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

My Fitness Exploration

A lot of time has passed since I was the girl in the eggplant purple, Abercrombie & Fitch henley, wearing khaki pants and an extra 40+ pounds on my 5'11.5" frame.  I came across this photo, along with some others, in recent years.  Several times I have explored the possibility of sharing them, one day, when I was "ready."  

"Ready" meant on the verge of publishing a memoir of my life story.  "Ready" meant I had established myself as a leader in the industry and was fully prepared for my moments of "fame" as I revealed the progress I have made since that photo was taken, around 1997.  As years passed and social media evolved, I was amazed to observe all of the transformations, success stories, fitness journeys and makeovers.  Before and afters fill my news feeds daily and none of these transformations are to be taken lightly.  Whether your workouts involve holding plank for an endless 15 seconds or bench pressing more than your own body weight, your progress should be recognized and respected.  If you went from ordering a burger, fries and milkshake once a week instead of five times a week, your progress should be recognized and respected.  

As I recognized these accomplishments in others I asked myself, "If these people are willing to expose their struggles and a new six pack, revealing the progress they have made, why haven't I?"  During the past 17 years of my fitness journey, I have dropped the excuses and excess weight while raising my self awareness and confidence.  Now, I am helping others do the same with my online training programs. 

To me, having a fit body is the manifestation of your goals and success, fueled by hard work and commitment.  My goal is to use what I have learned to inspire and motivate others.  

Last summer, I was given the opportunity to be featured in the Rising Stars column of Oxygen Magazine.  I have been a fan of Oxygen  Magazine since it's early stages in the late 1990s.  I vividly remember when a friend of mine introduced me to Oxygen during one of our shifts at the Illinois State Rec Center (little did I know that was the start of my fitness career AND my addiction to such a solid source of information).  My friend was more familiar with the industry and used to point out Adela Garcia when she would come in to use the StepMill.  We were one of the only gyms to feature this piece of equipment!  The machine has since received the attention it deserves, as has Adela.  I have decided to share my fitness journey, as described in the following Q&A article that was submitted to Oxygen Magazine in April of 2014.  A portion of this article was then featured in the Rising Stars column of the August 2014 issue.   

Were you athletic in your youth?  Not at all! Unless having a newspaper route counts! From the time I was about 8 years old until sophomore year of high school, twice a week I walked what felt like MILES.  It probably took about 45-60 minutes and, looking back, I am certain it helped me stay in shape.  Once the paper route officially ended, I gained a lot of weight.  In high school, I ate too much and moved too little, reaching a high of 210 pounds.

Before I began high school, my mom gave me the choice of playing golf or tennis (to encourage me to break out of my shell and become "more social.")  The golf lessons she signed me up for consisted of a bunch of grade school boys and myself!  I didn't mind the tennis lessons, so that is what I pursued in high school.  I rotated between third and fourth doubles.  If you know anything about tennis, that doesn't say much about my ability.  Going into my junior year, the coach ordered a double X t-shirt for me. THAT was a wake up call.

What were some of your athletic accomplishments?  Oh gosh.  I ran the entire 1-mile in gym class my senior year of high school without stopping to walk.  That was the first time I completed it without walking, about a year after I joined the gym.  Also, throughout four years of tennis practice, I despised the drills my coach made us do.  I strongly disliked someone telling me how hard to work.  Now, I find the motivation and discipline within to push myself and stay challenged.

When did you start working out and what inspired you to do so? My mom gave me a membership to Women's Workout World for my 16th birthday.  I was very shy, kept to myself and did not have many friends.  As a result I spent a lot of time at home, eating too much and feeling lonesome.  The gym helped me lose the extra weight I had put on, and helped me gain confidence.  To this day, I hear Gina G's "Ohh Ahh Just a Little Bit" and have flashbacks to my first step aerobics class!  It's a great memory.

Who is your role model? Why? Both of my grandmothers are my role models.  While they have passed away, they stayed active well into their 90s, one riding the stationary bike for 20 minutes a day and the other going to water aerobics class.  The quality of your years is so important, even more so than the quantity.  I'm a firm believer in brain health as well.  So although they may not have gotten their heart rates up very high, among the benefits of their activity was retaining mental awareness and social interaction.  I admire them for taking such good are of themselves and their family.

Are you more of a cardio woman or a weights gal? Why?  I used to be a Cardio Queen!  Every time I went for a run, I felt the need to run the same distance (or more) than the last time.  You can only do that for so long before your body breaks down.  In October of 2010, my back went out and I had a herniated disc.  It was the result of too much working out and not enough rest.  Now, two years post-surgery, running is a thing of the past (except when the weather is good and I need some time outside, jogging usually no more than 30-40 minutes).  In April 2013 I began working with a strength coach at Hard Pressed High Intensity Workouts.  He put me through 30 minutes of butt kicking, sweat dripping routines twice a week.  It changed my perception of what I was capable of, and I do the best I can to reach that intensity level when I train on my own.  They helped me bust through a major fitness plateau--one I didn't even know I had reached!

What is your favorite training move? Why? I am a huge fan of the split lunge and the single leg-leg press.  It's so important to focus on unilateral training to help correct and prevent imbalances.  My right leg is still weaker than the left due to nerve damage from the herniated disc.  I like explaining to clients how unilateral movements will help activate stabilizing muscles as well.  When you are not using as much muscle to move through a range of motion, you have no other choice but to focus on form and quality.

What is your workout plan like? I strength train for about 30 minutes, 5 times a week.  There are days the leg press feels like a concrete wall during the last couple of reps, and there are other days when my legs are shaking from muscle overload due to high repetition with my own body weight.  The variety is what keeps my body (and mind) stimulated.  I love seeing all of these concepts incorporated throughout Oxygen.  If you are constantly using the same training methods and principles, your body will adapt and progress will slow.  This variety also helps to prevent injury from overuse.  For cardio, my favorite machine is the StepMill.  When I'm not on the StepMill, I blast through sets of my cardio/strength circuits, usually incorporating the XBAR.   

What do you love most about Oxygen?  
I love the sense of community that Oxygen creates.  It amazes me to see so many women of different backgrounds, careers, life challenges, and life accomplishments come together with the common bond of fitness.  Before there were Pinterest boards, I used to cut out pictures from Oxygen Magazine and tape them into a notebook as inspiration.  The notebook still exists.  Via social media, it has become easier to establish connections with these women and contributors.  Two of my favorite fitness role models are Kim Dolan Leo and Emily Skye.  As leaders in the industry, it makes me happy to interact with them.  I'm working hard to influence others in my own unique way.

What's your favorite type of cardio? I write up my own routines and take over any open space with my music, notes, weights and a clock!  Using combos of cardio and strength exercises, I create about 7 "pairs" and run through the entire set 3 times.  For example, one pair might be 30 seconds of burpees (cardio) followed by 30 seconds of pushups (strength).  Another would be jumping rope and alternating lunges.  It's a great way to get the heart rate up during the cardio segments and then bring the heart rate down during the strength.  It's full body, efficient and keeps me from getting bored!

What gets you pumped up the most right before a workout? Reminding myself of my goals.  If you don't have a destination, you're more likely to go in circles!  Or pull over! And once you pull over, who knows when you'll get back "on track."  Having a competition to train for motivates me to plan my workouts, record my sets, reps, and weights and make sure that my actions and decisions today are directing me to where I want to be in the future.

Do you have a favorite quote that inspires you?  
“If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not people or things.” -Albert Einstein  

Have you ever competed and if so, how long have you been competing? I have!  I competed in my first show in November 2013.  A friend in the industry told me I was doing it and started talking to me as though I had already signed up.  I went along with it, unsure if I would follow through.  About two months out from the show, when I ordered the suit, reality hit!  It took me some time to believe in myself and to build the confidence. This was a great example of showing how important it is to have a support system and establish relationships with people who believe in you.

Who has supported you the most throughout your fitness journey? My family.  They have dealt with my moodiness, peculiar eating habits, physical and emotional setbacks and more.  As you become more committed to a specific goal (of any kind), your lifestyle changes.  That sometimes means a shift in your support system as well.  When it comes to family, they're there regardless.

What are your big plans for the future? I enjoy creating a strong community of like-minded individuals through my blog and on social media.  It is a long term goal of mine to enhance my online training services and publish a fitness ebook, team up with Vitamin Shoppe, and lead the very first XBAR Fitness class.  The support system through social media is amazing and I would love to continue educating others and providing resources to help them achieve their goals. 

What piece of advice would you give to a newbie in the gym? Make sure your goals are based on your current fitness level and what is achievable for YOU.  There are so many program, methods, and specialty studios, that you can feel "lost" not only in the gym, but in the industry as a whole.  Always take into account what your current fitness level is so you can assess what a reasonable goal looks like.  Enlist the help of a trainer or knowledgeable friend if you are unsure.  From there, map a course based on your abilities and resources so you can reach that destination.  Also, I encourage you to track your progress with photos and measurements.  Even if you are not training for a specific event, this type of goal will hold you accountable and remind you to work hard and stay committed.

What's your best fitness tip (This could be related to training, nutrition, personal attitude, fitness gear, etc.)? The only person you should do this for is for yourself.  Along the way, you will likely inspire and motivate others.  This creates a positive cycle--motivating individuals who, as a result, then motivate you.  The healthier you are, the more equipped you will be to help those you care about. 

Megan is certified as an AFAA Personal Trainer and has competed in two NPC Bikini Competitions.  Upon graduating from Illinois State University with two degrees (Commercial Recreation and Program Management) along with an Exercise Science minor, Megan continued to work in the fitness industry.  Her experiences range from commercial to corporate to governmental fitness programming. When working with clients and participants, Megan’s approach features bodyweight movements and plyometrics, while incorporating free weights and resistance equipment. She has worked with athletes, beginners, prenatal clients, and more. Click here for more information about personal training and online training.

For more fitness inspiration, visit Tod at Meisner Musings.  Tod was featured as my first guest blogger and shared an introduction to his fitness journey.