It Is Officially Holiday Party Season! Get Ready For It With the “Party Girl Dip”

 

The Party Girl Dip

 

The Party Girl Dip, illustration by Victor Hernandez

The Party Girl Dip, illustration by Victor Hernandez

 

 

Happy December!!!! A sure way to feel party ready this holiday season is to get those arms ready for any sleeve style, even a fitted long sleeve looks better with shapely triceps.  The “tricep-dip” or “reverse push-up” is easy to do at home and requires no equipment. This is a foundation exercise in Barre and can be really effective if done consistently and with the correct form.

To set up:

Take a seated position on the floor. Bend your knees and keep feet flat on the floor. Bring your arms right below shoulders. Your fingertips will be facing your toes. Make sure to keep your wrists turned forwards toward your feet and slightly outwards. Do not let your fingers face behind you. If your wrists are backwards, you’re going to be putting too much pressure on the wrist joints and will not be able to control the movement in your arms. To get into the proper alignment, you need to make sure that your shoulders are directly above your wrists.  If you allow your shoulders to come forward of the wrists, you will loose the work in the back of the arm.

Once your arms and wrists are in the right alignment. Lift your hips off the floor. Pull your abs in, and the lift your hips a bit higher. Then shift your weight back. Imagine you are trying to get your ribs in between your forearms. The more you can shift your weight towards your fingers, the more challenging and effective this will be.

Now you are ready to start to move! Start to bend your elbows directly behind you. Really important, do not let your elbows rotate out to the side… at all. Make sure your elbows are bending directly behind you. Do not move your hips. Your hips stay still. You want all the work happening in the back of the arms. Start to bend and stretch behind the elbows. Start with 15 repetitions.  Bend and stretch. Try not to fully extend behind the elbows. You don’t want to hyper-extend the arms.

Be mindful to not let your hips drop towards the floor or travel away from your fingertips.  Stay in your challenge zone. Hips stay high and ribs stay as close to your forearms as you can.

Once you have completed your 15 reps, bend your elbows deeply. And start to pulse. 10-15 pulses, staying deep in that muscle (do not straighten those arms). You can repeat this sequence 2-3 more times. If you want even more challenge. Try lifting one leg straight into the air. Bend your right knee, draw it in towards your chest, and then straighten it. Try to get the ankle directly above the hip. Continue your arm repetitions and then switch to your left leg half-way through.

 

 Stretch 

Lengthen the muscles you just strengthened. Sit cross legged on the floor. Sit tall, long neck and a long spine. Lift your right arm up and behind you until your right palm is touching your right shoulder blade. To deepen the stretch, with your left hand gently guide your elbow in towards your self and back. Then switch sides.

Party arms ready to shine this holiday season!

If you have any questions about this exercise or any others, please feel free to send me a note!

~Jess

Finally Sharing Them.. My Before and After Photos: Bouncing Back Post-Baby

 I often get asked from people who have known me pre, during, and post pregnancy: What did I eat to lose the baby weight after having my two children (I gained almost 80lbs .. twice) and how did I get started back into exercising? There are no short answers to these questions and I have no formal education in nutrition, but I love sharing what worked for me. Note: I had a really hard time finding pictures of me post-baby. I would never let anyone take any pictures of me. All of these are of my daughter or son 4 months old or older. Looking back that is just so silly. Every pound was worth it. I would do it a million times over. I just wish I could say that extra weight didn’t bother me during such a happy time, but it did. Especially since the weight didn’t start coming off until I got serious about my eating and exercise plan once my daughter was 9 months old.

Me with my daughter when she was 5 1/2 months. I was still 50 lbs heavier then my normal weight.

With my daughter when she was 5 1/2 months. I was still 50+ lbs heavier than my normal weight.

I was recently re-inspired to share my post-baby weight loss tips after spending the last two weeks helping my sister kick-start her post-baby weight-loss plan. I remember so vividly the challenges of trying to get back into shape post-baby, while feeling like I had no time, and being drop dead exhausted. Like me, my sister gained some extra weight during pregnancy. I wish I could say it is just genetics, but in my case, some Duncan Hines vanilla cakes with vanilla whipped frosting may have had something to do with it. Whatever the case, and whether you have 10 or 50 lbs to drop post baby, I hope these tips help get you started on your way to returning to a weight/size that makes you most comfortable and that gives you all the energy you need to keep up with your little ones. I do always tell new moms, “remember what your body has been through to have a baby and so be kind to yourself and patient with the process of returning to your target weight.”

Another great one.... 5 months post-baby.

Another great one…. 5 months post-baby.

 

Like many women, I have spent the majority of my life struggling with 10-20 lbs. My weight has always fluctuated and I think my first real diet was at the age of 14. Since that young age, I have failed at pretty much every diet in existence. You name it, I probably tried it — Calorie counting, Detox diets, Low-fat, No carb, no-sugar…no coffee/no alcohol (total failure on that one) and probably a combination of many of them put together. And perhaps the crème de la crème of miserable diets was when I ate boiled leek soup for 3 days, about the portion of a baby food jar mixed with bland frozen meals lacking any nutritional value. Basically, through all of these diets I was starving, cranky and completely obsessed with what I was eating. The “positives,” I usually lost a quick 8-10 lbs. over a few weeks, but it always came back the minute I stopped following the diet. Not to say that these diets could not work for someone, but they just didn’t work for me. I needed a balanced, real life solution to weight loss that fit into my busy life and allowed me to not become obsessed and panicked by food, but rather enjoy and love my life and the food that goes with it.

With my family when my son was 8 months old.

With my family and friends when my son was 8 months old.

 

What I learned from all of these diets, is the simple truth that losing weight successfully means doing it in a way that fits your lifestyles, your likes and dislikes, and with real food. It also means being realistic about your goals and the time it takes to lose weight. It took me a year to lose all the baby weight I had gained. A year from when I stopped breastfeeding. I did it slowly and steadily. And while I was of course impatient, I was able to do it without starving myself or depriving myself, and by incorporating exercises that made me feel healthy, strong, and most importantly energized. Here is just an overview of what I did:

Food: Again, I have no formal education in nutrition. But I can say, I have been studying food in some way for the past 15 years – and using myself as a lab rat. I could go on for pages about all I have learned. I also turned to Karly Treacy of Structural Integrity Physique to learn how to make better food choices and find a better relationship with food. From all of this, I changed my eating habits that ultimately changed my body. In full disclosure, at this point, I follow it 80/20 (I am 80 percent good/and 20 percent bad). Those that eat with me know that I am the first to order french fries and a cookie at lunch these days. When I first began my “program” I was much stricter with myself, but part of maintaining the success is allowing you to live 80/20.

Food/eating: We each need to find a way to have a happy relationship with food. I used to spend half my day either obsessing about food or feeling guilty about what I had already eaten and trying to plan how I will make up for it the rest of the day by not eating. It’s the biggest sense of freedom not to worry or obsess about what I am eating anymore. I just try to enjoy it, eat when I am hungry, and make healthy choices. I know that sounds too good to be true, but once I started eating real food, real fats, I was satisfied and stopped obsessing. Most importantly, I started to eat a lot more than I had on any diet. Your body needs food and fats. If your caloric intake is too low, you will store the fat because your body starts to think it’s in starvation. So eat!

Calorie Counting: I am not a huge fan of calorie counting, but if you have NO idea how many calories you consume in a day, it’s a great thing to do for a while to get you started. There are great free apps (MyNetDiary) and online (caloriecount.com) where you can log your daily calories, but even more powerful, you can learn how many calories are in the foods you eat. These tools really helped me learn what a portion size is and how many extra unnecessary calories I was eating. When you calorie count, remember, you have to put everything in, including the grilled cheese and pizza you finish off your kids plates. These apps also have guidelines for how many calories you should consume in a day to reach your target weight. If the app tells you you’re “OBESE” (like it did when I first registered) you are free to get mad and have one emotional breakdown, but boy will you be happy when it finally says you have moved to the “normal” category. It’s always a good idea to consult with your doctor first, especially if you are breastfeeding. For me, 1600-1800 calories a day was my initial target. You may need to adjust your caloric intake if you are exercising a lot or have a job that keeps you moving all day, most calories counters will help you with that as well. One thing I loved about calorie counting was that I could eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, as long as at the end of the day I didn’t go way over my target calories. I didn’t eat much during the day, but I would eat a HUGE amount at night, just due to my lifestyle at the time. This worked for me, despite the fact that many diets say no eating past 7 p.m. However, women in France and Spain and other parts of the world are tiny and they usually don’t finish dinner until way past 10 p.m. So, I say if eating late will keep you from snacking even later…eat late. This let me work my “diet” into my lifestyle.

My food philosophy: I really eat. REALLY EAT. I eat carbs, bread, sweets. The only thing that I do not eat is dairy. I try only to eat real food (meaning foods with only 1 ingredient). I do not eat a lot of processed foods. I eat bread and carbs, rice is my favorite carb (and I am sorry only white rice). I try not to eat much gluten. The good news is, gluten free is trendy right now, and there are tons of great gluten-free options out there (e.g., gluten free brownies and gluten free waffles). I try to find as many “healthier” substitutes for things as possible. Chips with safflower oil instead of vegetable oil, almond butter instead of peanut butter…you get the picture. It does take some time and research, but look at the foods you love and find where you can make healthier substitutions. I do not eat ANY artificial sweeteners, or non-fat, or sugar-free foods. These are pure chemicals and much better, in my opinion, to have the real delicious stuff in smaller quantities than binging on chemicals.

I try to always drink a lot of water. It fills you up, it hydrates you, it flushed toxins out of your body and it makes your skin look beautiful – win, win, win!

Not eating any dairy may not be a great option for everyone. For me it has been great, in the year I have been dairy free, the changes I have felt and seen have been huge. Here are a few links to a few articles about giving up dairy. Dairy-Free Challenge and Go Dairy Free.

Example of a typical day for me:
Breakfast: Smoothie (protein power, berries, almond milk, a healthy oil), or eggs and avocado wrap, or a Kind Bar, if I’m in a hurry. And of course, coffee with sweetened almond milk or coconut milk.

Lunch: Turkey on regular wheat bread (or gluten-free bread) , with tomatoes, lettuce, mayo (canola oil) and an avocado. A side of chips made with safflower oil. Or I will have a salad with chicken, shrimp or eggs and avocado topped off with an oil based salad dressing (good fats are good for you).

Dinner: Fish, chicken, steak or shrimp, with a salad and rice or sweet potatoes.

Snacks/Sweets: I try to limit both, however, when I am hungry I will have fruit or Kind Bars (sea salt and chocolate is my favorite), apple with almond butter, or any fruit.

Exercise: I used to have a love/hate relationship with exercise now it is just love/love. Getting started on a new exercise program and finding the motivation can be a huge challenge, but once you get into the swing of a routine and start to see results, I hope you will LOVE it too. There is also another reason I love/love exercise at this stage in my life. Exercising is kind of like a min-vacation from motherhood. It’s my time to focus on myself and doing something just for me. Even if I can only fit in 30 minutes, I love and cherish that time. The way I started to love exercise is by finding exercises that I actually enjoyed doing. I highly recommend trying out as many different classes, running, biking, boot camps, yoga or studios that you can to help you find what you love. This is how I fell in love with the Barre and Boxing. You may surprise yourself with what you find you really enjoy. Once you find exercises that you like, try and do them or a combination of them 3-4 times a week. On the other days, try to fit in a walk with the kids or other activities that get you moving. Also, I think the key to seeing results is really challenging yourself. When I was in love/hate mode, I would do the minimum to get through the class. Once I made the goal to give 100% and leave those classes sweating and having tried my best, I really started to see a difference. Oh lastly, music. I love working out to great music and I have posted some of the songs I play in my classes on my Jessica Diaz Boston Barre Facebook page, if you need some new tunes.

Making it work with kids: This is tough! Fortunately, I found a gym with a great day care. They have almost a mini-pre-school with great programs. I started bringing the kids there when they were around 6 months old. Prior to that, I would either take long walks (exercising with the kids) or exercise really early in the morning or really late in the evening when my husband was home. Not ideal for me, but it was the only way I could fit it in. I also purchased some DVDs that I could do at home for days when getting out to exercise just wasn’t going to happen.

I hope some of these tips were useful. So get moving and get eating!

 

With the 3rd little light of my life, my niece.

With the 3rd little light of my life, my niece (last week at my Baby & Barre Class)

MsFit Feature: Isabelle English

Isabelle English

Living in London (for now!), Student at NYU

Isabelle

WHAT IS KEEPING YOU BUSY THESE DAYS?

Over the past few years, I have undergone a complete lifestyle makeover. I am the daughter of two gourmet chefs, so the love of food and cooking is practically in my DNA. But as a young girl going through the elementary struggles that all young girls do, this got me into trouble. I fell into poor eating habits and stopped, or rather, never began taking care of my self. I was irresponsible with how I treated my body and reckless in my decisions when it came to food and fitness and how both made me feel.

It was not until the summer before college, when I was nearing three hundred pounds, that I decided to make a change. It took immense amounts of will power, seven days a week at the gym and some serious soul searching, but soon after I began to make changes in my daily choices, the weight seemed to glide right off. Since then, I have been taking steps in not only altering my food and fitness choices, but revamping my entire way of living. This includes things as simple as understanding nutritional facts or learning to use exercise as an outlet for stress or upset. Through such mechanisms, I was able to completely reinvent my relationship to food, my relationship to fitness- and now- as I am reaching my goal weight and shape, my relationship to fashion.

As an overweight, self conscious teenager, I was unable and unwilling to express myself through my clothing. I didn’t care what I put on my body as long as it was comfortable. Now that I am able to shop at stores I love and wear and feel confident in things I never even dreamed I could, I am passionate about what I put on and how it reflects who I am.

My biggest project at the moment is my working memoir. It’s about my journey from the guarded, overweight and embarrassed adolescent I was into the confident, creative, free spirited young woman I am today. I cover almost all aspects of my life – but focus mostly on the three things I have gained from such a major lose – my positive relationship with food, my love and passion for fashion and my dedication to fitness and overall health- and, of course, how such changes have changed my entire life in the best way possible. I am the happiest and healthiest I have ever been – and writing it all down, and hopefully sharing it one day, it a great way to solidify my success.

WHAT ARE YOU LOVING IN FITNESS AND FASHION RIGHT NOW?

These days in fashion I am really into monochromatic looks. Whether it be an all black or navy ensemble, or a mix and match of floral or stripped prints, consistency is key. My favorite piece of clothing right now is a plum and navy floral jumper. I think one solid print or color is both chic and sophisticated- and super easy! When it comes down to it, I like to wear whatever I feel good in- and that sense of confidence, to me, makes the outfit! (I am also obsessed with high wasted skirts. That trend is timeless. Oh- and scarves! Lots and lots of scarves!)

My fitness regime, like my fashion, is constantly changing. I’ve been doing Barry’s boot-camp in London, and was obsessed with Soul Cycle in NYC. They are high energy and really make you sweat- both things I look for in a good workout. On the days when I don’t take classes, though, I run and do weight training and bosu exercises. I find that changing things up helps keep me motivated. So some days, I just go out for extremely long walks in new neighborhoods and do lunges across the street!

Isabelle2

HOW CAN WE KEEP IN TOUCH WITH YOU?

Instagram: @izzadele