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Fitness Friday: Beginners Fitness

Welcome to the third post in the Fitness Friday series, you can read the first two here – Fitness Friday: Inspiration & Fitness Friday: Stretching & Rolling.

A productive and effective fitness routine has a strong foundation in basic movements. Body weight exercises and moves that emphasize your core give your body overall strength and develop the building blocks that it needs to easily pick up new moves.

Another bonus of these types of movements is that they can be done anywhere – At home, on vacation, in a hotel during a business trip. Doing a few sets of some, or all, of these exercises is a great way to prevent injuries, keep your core engaged, and build overall strength.

I incorporate all of these movements into my gym routine each week. Some of them I’ve picked up from blogs or magazines over the years, while others were introduced to me by doctors, trainers, or physical therapists while I was injured.


{Capri pants, tank top & sports bra courtesy of Lorna Jane // Shoes from Brooks}


A traditional plank is great for engaging your core. Begin on your forearms, toes under, body tight & straight – Try holding this position for 15 seconds. After you can do 2-3 sets of 15 seconds, increase the duration to 30 seconds, then 45, then 60. After you’ve mastered the forearm plank you can move up to your hands and begin the progression listed above again.

I do planks & side planks 2-3 times a week (3×60) and add in toe-tapping and plank jacks once or twice a week depending on my programming & goals.

Exercises to try: {In order of difficulty}



Not only are lunges are one of the best moves that you can do to build lower body strength, but they can be done anywhere and upgraded with simple changes & the addition of weight.

Bored in a hotel room? Do a few laps of walking lunges. Want to increase leg power? Add 3 sets of 15 lunges (each leg) to your workouts three times a week.

Important Tip: Make sure that your knee does not cross in front of your toes when you’re in the lunge position. Use a mirror at the gym if needed, but save your knees and make sure your front foot is placed far enough forward.

Lunges To Try:



One of the first exercises that my trainer in college taught me and the first move that my physical therapist added to my routine when I reinjured my back is the quadruped. This exercise is extremely effective for building up strength in your core and does a great job of engaging the smaller muscles when you stabilize yourself to hold the position.

Start by lifting your right arm and left leg, keep your abdomen tight, do not arch your back, hold for a moment, and release. Repeat ten times on each side for three rounds. Then fifteen, then twenty.

Want to make up the level of difficulty even more? Try adding ankle weights!

Related Reading: Beginners Fitness: Medicine Balls & Beginners Fitness: Kettlebells

What’s YOUR go-to exercise at the gym?

{Disclaimer: Prior to making any dramatic changes to your fitness routine or diet you should consult a physician}

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Fitness Friday: Stretching & Rolling

Welcome to the second post in the Fitness Friday series, you can read the first one here – Fitness Friday: Inspiration.

When it comes to establishing a new fitness routine sometimes people get amped up and jump head-first into achieving their new goals. And while pushing yourself and enthusiasm are incredibly helpful, you also have to take into account your body’s learning curve. Especially if you’re adding in new movements or exercises. If you’ve never done a spin class before or lifted weights – Ease into them rather than signing up for a 7 day a week bootcamp program.

Too much too soon can not only lead to burn out, but also to injuries. And believe me when I say that nothing will put a damper in your healthy living plan quite like a debilitating injury. Ouch and groan!

A great way to help your body adapt to changes in your fitness levels in through stretching & rolling. Read on for more information on including these great activities in your daily routine.


{Pants & jacket courtesy of Lorna Jane // Shoes from Brooks}


I know people who like to get into the gym, get their workout done, and get out. They swear they don’t need, or have time, to stretch.

I disagree.

Regardless of what workout you’re doing – Running, spin, yoga, power lifting – You will benefit from a few minutes of stretching before and after your workout. I personally stretch each morning before work, before and after my daily gym session, and again before bed. Make it a habit and you’ll appreciate the results.

Note: For those of you who are naturally flexible or have been involved in gymnastics, acrobatics, dance, diving, cheerleading, or other sports & activities where flexibility is emphasized – A word of caution. Being overly flexible can be dangerous as well, and you may be more prone to injuries so please be careful. As a former gymnast and a diver I’ve seen & experienced this first hand – One easy solution is to stretch and do workouts in front of a mirror to ensure you’re not hyperextending or locking out your joints.


Related Reading:


When you’re consistently working out your muscles get tight and the stress of that pressure causes knots to form. Using a PVC or foam roller after a workout or even the day after a hard gym session can break-up your muscles and reduce overall tightness. I schedule rolling sessions for myself three times a week but I also have a roller at home and supplement a rough week of training with additional muscle-crunching sessions in the comfort of my living room.

Easing into this practice can be painful, especially if you have really tight muscles. So start out using a lighter foam roller once or twice a week and slowly add more pressure and consistency as you get used to the feeling .

Here are some basic moves to try:


{Photos by Jennymay Villarete of J. Villarete Photography}

Related Reading: Motivation, Fitness Motivation, and Model & Blogger Fitness

I have to admit that of all the pieces I tried on at Lorna Jane these full length running tights were my favorite. They fit perfectly, never ride up when I’m working out, and I’ve gotten tons of compliments. Obviously I need them in every color now.

Also, I’d like to give a big shout out to the amazing ladies of the Union Street store who played dress-up with me for nearly an hour to help pick out my amazing Lorna Jane pieces. They were fun, friendly, and had great knowledge about the store & the products.

Do YOU stretch & roll out on a regular basis? How do YOU keep your body healthy?

{Disclaimer: Prior to making any dramatic changes to your fitness routine or diet you should consult a physician}

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Beginners Fitness: Medicine Balls

Welcome to the third week of the Spring 2013 Beginners Fitness Series!

You can catch up on Beginners Fitness & Beginners Fitness: Kettlebells, or some other recent health & fitness-related posts – Guest Post: Women’s Health, Guest Post: Fashion of the Fitness World, Guest Post: Food & The Daily Battle, {Guest Post} Interview With A Trainer & {Guest Post} A CrossFit Year.

Another one of my favorite pieces of equipment at the gym are medicine balls – They’re versatile and since they can be used to work so many different muscle groups you can put together an entire workout using them.


{Inspiration Pinterest Board}


If you’re starting a workout regime for the first time and consider yourself to be a beginner than you need to be sure to ease into a new exercise routine – Start with one workout a week plus walking, then two, and so forth.

Choosing your weight is one of the most important parts of a medicine ball workout – You want to be tired by the end of each set so don’t start with the heaviest weight you can pick up. You can also change weights for different moves – For example using a heavier ball for squats and a lighter one for core exercises.

[1.] Day One:

Warm Up: 5-10 minutes of cardio {Walking quickly, jogging/running, elliptical, stationary bike, rowing, stair climber…}

Warm Down: 5-10 minutes of cardio {Walking quickly, jogging/running, elliptical, stationary bike, rowing, stair climber…}

*Reading Materials – Medicine Ball Workout from Mark’s Daily Apple


{Inspiration Pinterest Board}

[2.] Day Two: Core Core Core!

Warm Up: 5-10 minutes of cardio {Walking quickly, jogging/running, elliptical, stationary bike, rowing, stair climber…}

Warm Down: 10-15 minutes of intervals on a machine of your choosing {See the suggestions under Warm Up}

  • 30 seconds as fast as possible
  • 1 minute 30 seconds recovery – moderate speed
  • 30 seconds as fast as possible
  • 1 minute 30 seconds recovery – moderate speed

*Reading Materials – Increase Your Strength and Athleticism with Medicine Ball Training


In the past two posts we’ve talked about healthy eating, how to replace unhealthy snacks with more nutrition options, and I suggested cooking as an alternative to eating out. Today I want to talk a little about fueling your workout – What you eat before a workout gives you energy and keeps your body hydrated & nourished while you put stress on it.

These are interesting articles and while they both highlight the importance of properly fueling your workouts they aren’t identical in their recommendations. Each body is different and it’s going to take some trial and error to find the perfect workout fuel for your body!



Rest days and stretching and/or foam rolling are an important part of working out. If you have the stamina to workout 7 days a week that’s admirable – But don’t! By not giving your body time to heal and rest you’re undoing all of your hard work. Check out The No Meat Athlete’s rolling tutorial to get you started – Foam Rolling.

Having a busy Spring? That’s no excuse to skip your workouts! You can easily do body weight circuits featuring moves like push-ups, squats, and sit-ups from a hotel room or utilize the hotel pool or drop-in deals for gyms & studios. Bonus? Getting in a workout  after a flight can help you fight jetlag! Read Mod City Mag’s Working Out While Traveling to give you some tips & suggestions for your next trip.

Disclaimer: I am not a trainer, doctor, or dietitian nor do I have any certifications associated with physical fitness or nutrition. Prior to making any dramatic changes to your fitness routine or diet you should consult a physician.

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{Guest Post} Food & The Daily Battle

Welcome to Part II of the Women’s Health series here on Moi Contre La Vie. Today we’re going to hear more from Megan of Kaia F.I.T. Sacramento on the daily struggle to eat well. If you’re new to this series be sure to check out Megan’s bio {Guest Post: Women’s Health} and her previous post – Fashion of the Fitness World.

Part 2: Food… The Daily Battle

I love ice cream, especially cookies & cream. I love cheeseburgers and extra crispy french fries. I can put down a serious amount of pizza. I love crafty cocktails and champagne. I worked in fine dining restaurants for 10 years and was privileged to indulge in some amazing dishes and glasses of wine…

But now I work in the fitness industry. And I constantly try to balance my view of food… Fuel or Delicious Goodness? My answer is both.

The majority of the time, on the day-to-day, food is fuel. Looking at it that way leads me to eating cleaner, leaner, and healthier. I view myself like a machine and if I want to run properly, perform well in my workouts, and feel energetic all day, I need to provide myself with the best fuel available.

I personally feel the best when I eat multiple times throughout the day, always beginning with breakfast. I feel great when I eat lean meat and eggs, lots of veggies and greens, and fresh fruit. I like nuts and trail mix for snacks and dried fruit for dessert. Avoiding the starchy carbs, dairy, and sugar is essential to feeling good.


However, coming from the restaurant industry, I love nothing more than a nice dinner out. I appreciate a perfectly cooked noodle and a salty piece of pork belly. And I absolutely love home-made ice cream and cookies at my mom’s house. These are the good things in life.

So, how do I balance it? When do I decide to devour a sandwich and when do I stick to a salad full of veggies? I practice MODERATION. I try to stick to healthy ‘fuel’ most of the time. When I treat myself to ‘carbs’ and sugar, I view it just that way… As a TREAT. I think it’s better that way anyway. I feel like crap when I eat sugar and bread days in a row and I stop appreciating it.

Everyone has to make their choices, each and every day. But awareness is where it all begins. If you never go without bread, dairy, sugar, alcohol, etc., how will you ever know how you feel without it?

Our go-to detox at Kaia FIT is 7 days without the following:

  • All starchy ‘carbs’ (bread, tortillas, rice, potatoes, etc.)
  • Sugar over 9g per serving (besides sugar naturally found in fruits/veggies)
  • Alcohol
  • Dairy
  • Processed Foods (if you can’t pronounce something on the label, avoid it!)

Eating clean is a great feeling and I highly recommend letting yourself experience it. And remember, “All things in moderation, including moderation.”

A big thank you to Megan for this great insight into her way of thinking about nutrition. It’s very easy to get into patterns of binging or restricting, so avoid all the negative side effects of both of those ways of eating and try practicing moderation as Megan has suggested.

What’s your personal approach to your daily diet?

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Beginner Fitness

In 2012 a reader came to me with a simple request – Could I help her ease into a workout routine that would put her on the path to overall better health? I documented a part of the process in the following series of posts – Want To Achieve Gym Goddess Status?, Part II, Part III, Part IV & Part V.

I’ve recently received a similar request and thought that 2013 would be a great time to share some of the details with my readers again because I think it’s such a worthwhile topic and achieving better health is widespread goal. I’m sure there have been countless New Years Resolutions related to this so why not get started on your path to health and happiness now?

In addition to providing short beginners workouts for the next few weeks, I’ll be recommending reading and do my best to keep you all motivated and inspired – Which is half the battle.


You want to ease into a new workout regime regardless of your current level of fitness, however if you’re not currently working out, attending classes, and/or running on a regular basis I would suggest starting with one or two small workouts a week and gradually increase to 3-5 as you start improving and feeling stronger.

Let’s start Week One with two short workouts to get us in the mood:

Day One

Warm Up: 5 minutes of cardio {Walking quickly, jogging/running, elliptical, stationary bike, rowing, stair climber…}

Warm Down: 5-10 minutes of intervals on a machine of your choosing {See the suggestions under Warm Up}

  • 30 seconds as fast as possible
  • 1 minute 30 seconds recovery – moderate speed
  • 30 seconds as fast as possible
  • 1 minute 30 seconds recovery – moderate speed

*My recommendation is to turn this into a mini circuit workout – After your warm up do one set of planks, one set of lunges, and one set of squats, then repeat the process a second and third time to complete the circuit before your warm down.

Day Two

Warm Up: 5 minutes of cardio {Walking quickly, jogging/running, elliptical, stationary bike, rowing, stair climber…}

  • Reverse Lunges {FitSugar’s Back to Basics: Stationary Reverse Lunge} 3 rounds of 10 lunges on each knee
  • Crunches {Dummies.com’s How To Do Crunches} 3 rounds of 20 – Be sure to watch your form & keep your chin & elbows UP form is important w/ this move
  • Leg Lifts {Shape Magazine’s Double-Leg Lower & Lift} 3 rounds of 20

Warm Down: 5-10 minutes of cardio {Walking quickly, jogging/running, elliptical, stationary bike, rowing, stair climber…}


Following diets, participating in cleanses, and going through detox programs are interesting ways to find out how your body responds to things, but they’re not a way of life. Learning to eat well & make smart food choices on a daily basis is going to do much more for you than any short-term healthy eating “fix.”

Depending on your typical diet transitioning to a clean eating regime can seem pretty daunting, so to make the switch more manageable I’ll just recommend a few tips and suggest some things to cut out of your diet each week.

To start, it’s time to get cooking! Your first goal should be to cut out packaged, processed, and pre-made food from your diet. Don’t panic! That doesn’t mean that you’ll never be able to order Chinese again or never enjoy a handful of chips in the future, but if you want to transition to a clean diet the first step is to eliminate all of these types of foods. So your mission for the next two weeks is to start giving up anything processed, stop hitting the drive-through, and spend more time in the kitchen and less time at restaurants.


Here are a few alternatives:

  • If you like chips or salty other snacks – Try raw almonds, butter-free air popped popcorn, or baby carrots w/ hummus
  • If you crave the beta-endorphin rush of sugary treats, baked goods, or candy – Switch these high calorie picks for fresh fruit, natural almond butter, or homemade sweet treats like Choosing Raw’s Cinnamon Caramelized Cauliflower or Maple Cinnamon Candied Pumpkin Seeds


Understanding why you feel the way that you feel and how to improve your health is important. Anyone can blindly follow instructions, but learning about health, nutrition, and your body will help you for your entire life.

So with the goal of educating yourself and expanding your horizons here are some interesting articles you might enjoy:

  • Healthy fats like avocados, olive oil, and nuts & seeds {in moderation} are an important part of a healthy diet. Learn more about this subject by reading Natalie Jill Fitness’s Eating Fat Will NOT Make You Fat…
  • One of the things that impacts your health almost as much as nutrition and fitness is stress. You need to pay attention not only to how much stress you have in your life, but how you deal with it – How Stress Affects the Body.


So what do you think of this new series? Are these topics and the information I provided above interesting and relevant to your life?

Disclaimer: I am not a trainer, doctor, or dietitian nor do I have any certifications associated with physical fitness or nutrition. I’m merely an enthusiast {and former athlete} who reads & does research daily and has worked out alone or with coaches & trainers since the age of 6. I am lucky enough to have access to a handful of blogs, websites, and trainers to answer my questions though. Prior to making any dramatic changes to your fitness routine or diet I suggest that you consult a physician.

For more inspiration, my daily workout routines, and more Moi Contre La Vie you can find me on these platforms:

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