Fast Fitness! 15-Minute Full-Body Kettlebell Workout (with VIDEO!)

naghar fonooni logoWelcome to Fast Fitness! With this new series, we plan to bring you simple, at-home workouts that are LOW on time, but BIG on results. We hope you enjoy our first one from Neghar Fonooni!

Sometimes my workouts only last 15 minutes. I know what you’re thinking: “That must’ve been the lamest workout ever!” Right?! Well, not exactly. If I had my druthers, I would always give myself a full 60 minutes for training, but sometimes that just isn’t possible.

As a full-time working mom, I understand that time is at a premium, and rather than skip a workout when time is short, I find ways to make exercise more efficient. Shorter doesn’t have to mean less effective, especially when you consider this: More isn’t better; better is better. So if fifteen minutes is all you’ve got, then let’s make those fifteen minutes really count!

A quick workout can be wildly effective as long as a few rules are followed. When time is limited, you’ll want to do all (or a combo) of these:

  1. Move faster
  2. Ramp up intensity
  3. Take fewer breaks
  4. Combine exercises

There are several ways you can incorporate these concepts into your training, and allow yourself to improve your fitness levels with limited time. Today we will discuss combination movements.  And I’ll give you a great combo movement workout, too!

Combination Movements Combo movements are fabulous because they mash together two or more movements into just one exercise. This saves time by eliminating set-up time and rest between exercises. You’ll simply move from one exercise right into the next all in one move.

Some examples of combo movements are: thrusters (squats that explode into push presses) and one-leg deadlifts that go right into bent over rows. With combo exercise such as these, you’re able to work your entire body without having to do several separate exercises.

One of my favorite combo workouts can be done in just 2 minutes, using either a kettlebell or a dumbell:

  • One-Leg Deadlift to Bent Over Row right side x30 seconds
  • One-Leg Deadlift to Bent Over Row left side x30 seconds
  • Push Press to Reverse Lunge right side x30 seconds
  • Push Press to Reverse Lunge left side x30 seconds

One round of this workout is just 2 minutes. Try to complete as many rounds as possible in 15 minutes for a full-body workout. Remember to use a weight that you can wield quickly and efficiently. You don’t want to go too heavy or too light, so it may take a little experimenting to find the right weight for you.

Try today’s Fast Fitness! plan and let us know what you think!

 

Neghar-FonooniWriter, fitness expert, entrepreneur, and mom, Neghar Fonooni is passionate about helping people empower themselves to live a vibrant, fulfilling life. Her intention is to teach women how to find and cultivate their inner radiance, living a lifestyle of their own design. 

The Weird Way to Boost Your Sad Mood

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Have you ever wondered why you feel the urge to blast your “tearjerker” playlist when you’re down in the dumps? Maybe it’s because sad tracks can actually improve your dreary mood— if they also have one other characteristic, according to new research.

In a study published in the Psychology of Music, researchers at the University of Limerick looked at the effect of “Self-Identified Sad Music” on the moods of participant. Motives for choosing certain kinds of songs varied, but the only quality that directly predicted an uptick in the listener’s mood was if a track was considered “beautiful.” Improved attitude has to do with your perception of the aesthetic beauty of the music and the quality of the song. Which means sorrowful ballads can help you indulge your bad day, and simultaneously give you a pick-me-up. (It makes sense that your post-breakup Adele binge was really a form of self-soothing, right?)

The next time you’re feeling blue, consider putting some somber melodies on repeat, as long as you promise to feel better after. Here are 20 sad-but-beautiful songs that may help lift your spirits:

  1. “The House That Built Me,” Miranda Lambert
  2. “Sad Beautiful Tragic,” Taylor Swift
  3. “Someone Like You,” Adele
  4. “Say Something,” A Great Big World
  5. “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room,” John Mayer
  6. “Hey Jude,” The Beatles
  7. “Jar of Hearts,” Christina Perri
  8. “The Scientist,” Coldplay
  9. “Tears in Heaven,” Eric Clapton
  10. “When It Rains,” Paramore
  11. “If I Die Young,” The Band Perry
  12. “Charlie Boy,” The Lumineers
  13. “Stay,” Sugarland
  14. “It Will Rain,” Bruno Mars
  15. “The A Team,” Ed Sheeran
  16. “Apologize,” One Republic
  17. “I Will Always Love You,” Whitney Houston
  18. “Every Breath You Take,” The Police
  19. “Something in the Way,” Nirvana
  20. “Doesn’t Remind Me,” Audioslave

Have you ever tried this sad-song trick to boost your mood? What’s your favorite “downer” tune?

 

Jenna BirchJenna Birch is a health and lifestyle writer. She has written for many web and print publications, including Marie Claire, Runner’s World, mom.me and WomansDay.com. As a nutrition and fitness junkie, she’s a lifelong athlete, major college sports fan and developing yogi — but still can’t resist the allure of an occasional chocolate lava cake. (Everything in moderation, right?) For more, visit her at jennabirch.com or follow her on Twitter.  

4 Wedding Food Trends to Make Your Big Day Healthy & Hip!

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Weddings are a grand celebration, and whether yours is big or small, black tie or DIY, it’s important to have a party that represents you and your love. I encourage my clients to throw a party that represents them as a couple. It’s a big day and as the saying goes, “Food is love!” But that doesn’t mean you have to go overboard with the butter and the trimmings. It’s hip to serve healthy food at your reception now.

If you’ve adopted a healthy eating mantra to get ready for your big day, why not stick with it through your reception? I recently worked with a bride and groom that don’t eat processed meats, so they didn’t serve bacon or sausage at their brunch reception—and none of the guests missed them. Heavy, run-of-the-mill dinner buffets, and fat-laden passed apps are no longer expected or required. In fact, the catering trends for 2014 are looking fresher, healthier, and tastier than ever! Here’s how to break away from the usual sad-looking chicken drowned in cream sauce:

Join the Farm-to-Table Movement When interviewing caterers, ask where they buy their ingredients. Look for companies that source food locally, and use as many fresh, organic ingredients as possible. The demand is there, so the right caterer is there, I promise!

Keep Cocktail Hour Light and Creative I love working with caterers who really care about the food and the overall guest experience. (Event caterers should not serve frozen mini quiches!) Culinary Eye in San Francisco picks up produce from farmer’s markets and sources meat from local ranches to create dishes that are simply delicious. Fresh foods always taste better than processed ones—and no one will miss the old standbys! Here is some of the low-calorie fare Culinary Eye will be serving this summer: canapés of heirloom melon, Thai basil, torn burrata, and balsamic reduction; pea tartar with mint, Meyer lemon olive oil, and shaved Manchego cheese; and compressed cucumber, smoked salmon, and fresh chive on silver spoons. Yum!

Serve Dinner Family-Style This option allows guests to pass platters to each other, so it’s perfect for those big round dinner tables, and it’s a cool way for guest to get to know each other and break bread—literally. Family-style menus also present an opportunity to serve more dishes. Typically, you can choose three main course items and several sides, which means you can have waist-friendly entrées placed on every table. When beautiful salads and bright veggie platters are being passed from guest to guest, everyone will partake. Of course, you can still serve your great-aunt’s famous mac and cheese—but with so many options on the table guests are likely to take a smaller helping so they can try a little of everything.

Beer and Wine Only, Please! This trend in beverage service is here to stay—and I love it!  Not only does skipping hard alcohol cut down on your reception costs, just serving beer and wine also prevents guests from taking shots at the bar and potentially getting rowdy quickly.  Plus, beer and wine offer more heart-healthy antioxidants and often contain fewer calories than mixed drinks made with sugary juices and sodas. This is one idea even a Jameson loving groom can get behind!

 

Christy Daly Matthews 2Christy Daly Matthews is a certified wedding consultant and a busy mom of two boys (both under 5!) in the San Francisco Bay Area. Christy believes in marriage equality, to-do lists, and parties. She enjoys creating a seamless event that celebrates your love, you way. @ChristyDaly has a weakness for stinky cheese; she relies on classes at The Daily Method and a trusty jogging stroller to help her stay fit. (Photo Credit: Gavin Farrington) 

So You Want to Start… Getting More Sleep

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Let’s say you have a checking account. Every day you put $100 into that account, and every day you spend around $90 to $100. One day you decide that you’re going to start spending more. $120, $150, $200… You keep spending a little more each day, because no one from the bank has called you and told you stop. What happens? You find yourself in the red, with some major banking penalties.

This is essentially the same as trying to diet, exercise hard, and live a full, hectic life. Only the currency is recovery, and the only way to deposit more into your account is to sleep. The more activity and energy you spend to meet your goals, the more sleep you need to deposit into your account.

In North America, the average adult reports sleeping 7 hours per night, and 33% of the population logs fewer than 6.5 hours per night. It’s important to note, these numbers are based on polling data in which people report the amount of time they spend in bed, not necessarily the time spent snoozing—and there’s no data measuring the quality of that sleep. Deep, consistent, rejuvenating sleep is a major factor in recovering from a stressful day. Improving the amount and quality of your sleep will benefit just about every area of your life.

To improve your sleep, it’s important to focus on the outside factors you can control. Instead of getting into bed and hoping for Mr. Sandman to show up, my clients and I work on crafting the environment and the habits around bedtime to ensure a restful night. Here’s how you can do it, too.

Plan a sleep routine Going to bed at the same time every night (or at least every weeknight) sets the stage for shutting down your brain and falling asleep quickly. But the plan should start well before you turn out the lights.

Set a “shut down” alarm It takes time to unwind, so have an alarm go off 30 to 45 minutes before you want to actually be asleep and begin your bedtime ritual.

Create a nightly ritual Turn off all your electronic screens, write down everything you need to do tomorrow (so you’re not fretting about when the lights go out), get into your pajamas, brush your teeth, wash your face, drink a small glass of water. Whatever you need to do before bed, do it in the same order every night. This sends the message to your brain that it’s sleepy time.

Get dark Humans are very sensitive to light, so do your best to make your bedroom as dark as possible. Think about repositioning your furniture, purchasing a set of dark curtains, and covering up all the little lights on your devices—black electrical tape works well. If you keep your cell phone on your bedside table, place it face down.

Shhh… Make your room as quiet as possible. A bed partner can make this difficult, so consider investing in a pair of earplugs or a white noise machine if the person next to you is a heavy breather.There are also phone apps that successfully muffle the sound of snoring.

Soak up the sun during the day Exposing yourself to plenty of natural light during the day, taps into your body’s circadian rhythm—the internal clock that tells you when you’re tired. At night, the contrast of your dark, quiet room, will strongly signal that clock to make you sleepy, so you’ll fall asleep faster and more easily. Spend as much time outside during the day or in bright rooms as you can and save dark spaces for bedtime.

As a coach I’ve seen the worst. I’ve had clients show up at my doorstep ready to exercise themselves into the ground, starve themselves to meet their fitness goals, and balk at the idea of sleeping 9 hours a night. Sleep may not be sexy, but it’s the currency that makes all the other things we want to do in life possible. Take the time to master a simple sleep routine and you’ll find you have more than enough energy to spend on your health and fitness goals.

How many hours of sleep are you getting each night? Think you need more?

 

Coach Stevo is the nutrition and sport psychology consultant at San Francisco CrossFit. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, holds a BA in Philosophy from the University of Chicago, and is finishing his MA in Applied Sport Psychology at John F. Kennedy University. His specialty is habit-based training and he contributed to Intervention by Dan John in 2012.  

Butter is Back, Baby!

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It’s been an uphill battle, but after bearing a bad reputation for over half a century, it appears butter is back. According to The American Butter Institute, last year butter consumption reached its highest level in 40 years here in the U.S, and the shift is being attributed to a change in consumer preferences for simpler ingredient lists and fewer artificial ingredients.

There’s a simple food movement happening.

When it comes to food purchasing, health-conscious consumers are looking for simpler ingredient lists. In recent years, less has become more when it comes to ingredients and processing as they relate to our health. And with just cream, or cream and salt, butter’s ingredient list fits the definition of simple.

We’re turning our noses up to trans fat.

The invention of artificial trans fats (also known as partially hydrogenated oils) once made margarine a lower-calorie, and therefore “healthier,” alternative at the height of the war against saturated fats. But as it turns out, those trans fats in margarine actually do more harm to cholesterol levels than their saturated counterparts, by increasing “bad” LDL cholesterol and decreasing our “good” HDL cholesterol. Talk about a double whammy! The evidence to support this has been so strong the FDA recently declared trans fats as “potentially unsafe,” which has many consumers demanding they be banned altogether.

As trans fats take a tumble, the evidence suggesting we go back to butter is mounting. Just last month, a study published in the Annals of Medicine* found that people who ate more saturated fat did not, in fact, have more heart disease. Also worth noting, the study did not find less disease in people eating more amounts of unsaturated fat, like olive or corn oil. This analysis looked at nearly 80 different studies and included more than a half million people, making it one of the most comprehensive dietary fat studies to date.

The latest research suggests butter can be part of a healthy diet (I certainly include it in mine), but this shouldn’t be interpreted as an excuse to eat butter with abandon. It’s best to keep your sources of fats balanced and to consume it in moderation.

Regardless of whether you’re going to stick with margarine or move back to butter, butter has certainly made a comeback.

What do you think? Will you be putting butter back on your table?

 

*Association of Dietary, Circulating, and Supplement Fatty Acids With Coronary Risk: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2014 Mar;160(6):398-406.