Summer Abs...

Carrying a baby during pregnancy really takes a toll on your body as a whole, but mostly on your core! It took me FOREVER to feel like I had my core strength back and it's still a work in progress. Holding a 1-minute plank is still a real challenge but I'm almost there! (45-seconds and working my way up :) I've been trying to focus on taking time a little time out of every day to work my abs, and with summer just around the corner - I have to be extra diligent ;) 

When London goes down for her nap I take 10 minutes right away to do some ab exercises. I start with a plank and end with a plank - usually the last one I try to hold as long as I can which ends up being (almost) a minute. When I feel like I'm not maintaining the proper technique any longer, I stop the time. There is a "Core" class at my gym, Healthworks that I've taken which I really love and I also think practicing yoga regularly is SO good to help maintain core strength! 

Here are some exercises that I do in addition to the planks...

- 25 Bicycles Crunches (see photo below)

- 25 butterfly crunches: sit on the floor with your legs in the "butterfly stretch" then lay back, keeping your legs in the same position. This is your starting point. Now crunch 25 times with your hands behind your head - keeping your shoulders off the floor.

- 25 Toe-touch crunch: (See photo below) Lie on your back with your legs straight up in the air (legs pointed toward the ceiling); arms straight and pulse up 25 times, trying to touch your toes.

- 25 Flutter Kicks: Lie on your back with legs extended and arms at your side or underneath your bum. Lift your legs 6(ish) inches of the floor and scissor your legs up and down. Make sure to press your lower back into the floor - you do not want it to lift off the ground.

                                                                     Bicycle Crunch

                                                                     Bicycle Crunch

                                                                  Toe-Touch Crunch

                                                                  Toe-Touch Crunch

What are some of your favorite ab exercises?! 

xx, Ashley

My Definition of Being Fit + Healthy....

 

If you were to ask my definition of being fit and healthy just a few years ago, my answer would have been super different. My "pre-baby" self would have neglected to touch upon being fit mentally and just how important that is to one's overall well being. I would have talked mostly about the physical aspects such as exercise, stamina, weight-training - but left out how critical it is to practice self-care. It's SO difficult to make time for myself without feeling mega-guilty, but in the past two years, I've realized that it's critical to survival. Dramatic? Not really. If I don't make time for myself, I get overwhelmed and feel a bit suffocated a.k.a. I end up freaking out and it's really not good for anyone ;) ...At first I thought there was something wrong with me, but then I realized that it's completely normal and all a part of life. Do I still think exercising is important? Sure I do, but my life has evolved and so staying mentally and emotionally "fit" is just as important to me. 

So...I'd say that my definition of being fit and healthy is really feeling like I have a sense of balance in my life; physically, mentally and emotionally. Taking time for myself, even though it's difficult, is definitely a big part of keeping me "fit" mentally and emotionally. Setting attainable fitness goals and getting to the gym at least three times a week helps me stay focused without feeling overwhelmed. I used to be REALLY hard on myself...I never took many days off from working out and held a pretty strict diet. Nowadays, it's just not feasible to get to the gym 6 days a week so I set my goal for three and that usually works out. I'm definitely more laid back when it comes to my diet ... mostly because I don't want London to be a stress ball when it comes to food (as I've been in the past, thanks for pageant life!) Plus, it's pretty freaking fun to stop at Starbucks for a treat with Lo, so I just do it. Life's to short to stress about eating a scone (or two!) ;) 

I wanted to share a few ways that I practice self-care. I wish these things happened more on a regular basis, but such is life. Things come up, kids get sick, demands are hight ... so you just roll with it and squeeze things in when you can, or if you're like me, when you feel like you're near the verge of a breakdown ;) ...Kidding (kind of). 

fit2.jpg

1. Find a gym. If you don't feel like working out, go anyway. Sit in the whirlpool, take a nice long shower, do your makeup and just relax. Sometimes all you need is an hour to yourself to feel refreshed for the day! (I've linked my gym here for all of my Boston ladies!)

2. Book a massage. This is HEAVEN, am I right? Try to schedule this once a month. It's something to look forward too and trust me, your body will thank you!

3. Grab coffee with a girlfriend. Hit up your local coffee shop, secure a spot in the corner and gab away! It's really cheap therapy :)

4. Treat yourself to a mani/pedi. This is one I haven't done in awhile and I'm definitely due! It's so relaxing and somehow I feel like I've got all of my "ish" together when I have my nails done ;) 

5. Practice yoga. It's good for you; mind, body, and soul. Flow through this practice to soothing music and a calm atmosphere. Hello heaven!

What are some ways that you guys practice self care?

xx, Ashley 

Fit Friday: Squat Challenge...

 
Photo: Popsugar.com

Photo: Popsugar.com

 

I don't know about you, but with the warm weather creeping up on us I've been more motivated than ever to whip my body into swimsuit shape! We are actually in Florida right now, and while I don't feel totally where I want to be ("swimsuit body" wise), when I return to Boston there's still time to get there. I've been focusing on my legs and glutes more than anything else, and wanted to share a few "squat challenges" you could try if you're in the same mind frame as I am! 

Sometimes, a simple challenge like this can give you a little kick start and push you even further toward your goals. If you recruit a friend to accept the challenge with you, it could hold you accountable but may also be fun too! 

Popsugar posted a really good squat challenge that incorporates 5 different varieties of exercises. It's four weeks long and guarantees you'll notice a difference! *A few tips for you ... shift your weight back in your heels and wiggle your toes - this will target your butt and hamstrings. Also, by varying your stances (ex: sumo squats) you can better target your inner and outer thighs. If you want to make this even more challenging ... grab a pair of dumbbells and hold them at your sides or rest them on your shoulders. 

If you like this idea, but are looking to try it a different way, Healthworks posted their own squat challenge and you can find the details on that here

I hope you all have a great weekend! Thanks for stopping by :) 

xx,  Ashley 

Living an Active Life + Chicken Orzo Soup Recipe...

 
Photo credit: Kivalo Photography

Photo credit: Kivalo Photography

Happy Weekend! Can you guys believe we are over halfway through March already? Bring on spring! I am so ready for warmer weather and to spend more time outside with my baby girl!

You all know how much I like to hit the gym and work out. It makes me feel SO much better and gives me that good feeling energy to start the day out on the right foot! I think it's super important to find a home gym that motivates you and makes you feel comfortable and welcome! If you can find a workout buddy, even better! Before becoming a mom I used to have a lot more spare time to spend working out, so on days when I can't make it to the gym, I like to get creative.

There are a few small things you can do throughout your day to make a little difference...

Take the stairs. At my gym, I have to go up three flights of stairs just to get to the workout floor. I am ALWAYS tempted to hit up the elevator, but I just tell myself that it's my "warm-up." :) Park in the spot furthest away. I know, I know...what a hassle right? Parking lots can be GINORMOUS, but make a conscious effort to park far from the front door. It's something simple that can burn a few extra calories. Grab a girlfriend a.k.a accountability partner. Recruit a friend and motivate each other to do something active like a walk or hike. Lolo and I are officially "mall walkers" nowadays :) During the cold winter months, we head to the mall and I let Lo run around for an hour or so to burn off some energy. Chasing her is a great workout! If you need a little boost to get your butt into gear, sometimes making a new "activewear" purchase is all it takes. I always feel better when I've got some cute gear to rock to the gym or on an errand! Check out some of my favorite athleisure / activewear picks here

I've also gotten a few questions about the chicken + orzo soup that I put on my Instagram story, so I wanted to share it with you all. It's SO incredibly easy. Anytime I can use my slow cooker, I'm a happy girl! I think you'll enjoy it, so give it a try! 

EASY Chicken + Orzo Crockpot Soup

Photo cred: Delish.com

Photo cred: Delish.com

  • 1 - 1.5 lbs chicken (I used boneless tenders)
  • 64 oz. chicken broth
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 package frozen peas + carrots
  • 1.5 tsp pepper
  • salt to taste
  • garlic to taste
  • 2 cups dried orzo

Directions: 

Add the chicken, broth, onion, peas + carrots (and any other veggies you'd like to use) to the slow cooker. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic. Cook on LOW for 3-4 hours (I did 3.5hrs). Stir in the orzo for the last 45 minutes - 1 hour. ENJOY! 

xx,  Ashley 

Fit Friday: Current Workout Routine...

 

Happy Friday! I'm so excited for the weekend and even more excited that my baby girl is FINALLY feeling better and (mostly) back to her sweet self! We are still dealing with those "not so sweet" toddler tantrums of course! (Rolling eyes). I've gotten a few messages and questions about what I do for workouts so I wanted to update you guys on my current routine! Keep in mind ... I wish it could stay this way from week to week, but mom life is pretty crazy so sometimes you have to adjust the routine a bit!

To start, one of the things I'm SO thankful for is that my gym, Healthworks offers amazing classes daily. Barre, spinning, yoga, body pump, dance, and much much more. Not to mention, Lolo really LOVES the Kids Club and it makes it even more motivating to get to the gym when she's asking to see all of her friends :) 

BK (before kids) my workouts consisted of a mixture of cardio and weights with more of a focus on cardio. Typically I would spend 1.5 hours at the gym Monday - Friday with a lighter workout on Saturday and Sundays off. Nowadays I honestly don't have that amount of time to work with. I tend to spend more time focusing on weight training because it seems that chasing a toddler around is all the cardio I need! Here is a peek into my current workout routine and what a typical week looks like...

Monday: 20 mins cardio // 10 mins - stairmaster & 10 min treadmill incline walk (5.0 - 10.0 incline at 4.0 pace) || LEG/BUTT DAY. You can find six "butt busting" moves that I incorporate into my workouts, here!

Tuesday: 20 mins cardio // 10 mins - stairmaster & 10 mins incline walk (5.0 - 10.0 incline at 4.0 pace) || ARM DAY. See some of my favorite exercises from Healthworks trainer Hannah Butera, here

Wednesday: Circuit workout at home (typically something similar to this) OR a 3-mile run (slow pace) & abs

Thursday: Same as Monday; sometimes I may just stick to the stair master or choose to do the treadmill for the full 20 minutes.

Friday: Usually similar to Tuesday. I like to pick 5-6 arm exercises to focus on // Abs 

Saturday: Barre or Yoga class. Some Saturdays I like to sneak in a 20-minute stair master workout prior to class, if I'm feeling extra motivated ;) 

Sunday: OFF for family time! We like to be active together though, so we typically go for a long stroller walk if the weather permits!

This tends to be what the week looks like and of course, it's subject to change! Some days I make little tweaks here and there - but overall, I try to focus on just staying active and doing SOMETHING. It always makes me feel better and starts the day off right! 

If you guys have any specific questions about my routine, leave it in the comments below!

xx,  Ashley 

Fit Friday: TeamBurn30

BEFORE: With my workout partner for the day + fellow mama of 2, Nadia!

BEFORE: With my workout partner for the day + fellow mama of 2, Nadia!

AFTER: We did it! Dripping with sweat, and ready for a nap!

AFTER: We did it! Dripping with sweat, and ready for a nap!

This month has been CRAZY which has meant a lot of squeezing in workouts whenever I can. Between London's schedule, spending close to three weeks in Maine, and the 90+ degree weather, I was searching for some extra motivation!

I used to workout at least 1.5 hours, 5 times a week and while staying fit and healthy is still a priority, it's just not feasible to maintain that at this point in my life. Mom life is a constant balancing act + when you're working around two naps and a grazing baby who eats 5 meals a day...it leaves you little time for yourself! If I can get 30-45 minutes ... I'm happy! With that said, when I found out that Healthworks was offering Team Training and particularly, TeamBurn; a 30-minute workout that includes high-intensity cardio intervals for a total body workout, I was SOLD. I brought my headphones so I could plug into this mic-pack thingy (yes, that's the technical term) where I could here the instructor Claudia and music at the same time. It was awesome to block out everything else that was happening in the gym and just focus! 

The workout was done solely on the treadmill + it was intense! After a brief warm-up and stretch, we started right in with 9, 30- second sprints and a short rest (VERY short rest) in between. We moved on to hills, where we alternated between different inclines and kept a brisk walking pace. Claudia was super engaged with us the whole time + I felt like I totally pushed myself way harder than I would have if I had been working out on my own. I loved feeling the sort of "team" atmosphere and sweating it out together! (Trust me, you'll definitely SWEAT if you do this workout :) *If you're interested in trying a TeamBurn session...click here for more info! 

If you'd like to try a workout similar to this, here's what you can do:

Warm-up: 2 minutes, brisk walk

Stretch: 5 minutes

Sprints: 30 seconds, Rest: 15 seconds x 10

Hill Climb: Brisk Walk (whatever you feel comfortable) 

Incline: 5.0 for 2 minutes // 7.0 for 1 minute // 10.0 for 1 minute // 12.0 for 1 minute // 5.0 for 2 minutes 

Cool Down: Walk: 5 minutes 

Let's Get It: LEGIT Cardio Workout...

I did an AWESOME cardio workout at the gym last night that I wanted to share with you all. I don't know about you, but I think cardio machines are PAINFULLY boring, and lately I've been avoiding them at all costs. I knew it was time to change up my routine, so I was searching around online for new workouts (and also for my motivation!). I am happy to say that this treadmill workout is LEGIT and also kept me engaged the entire time. It went by super fast and gave me a great sweat! Here it is below, broken down by minutes and it looks a little crazy. All I did was write this in the "notes" section on my cell phone, and just kept it pulled up on the screen to follow along during the workout. Enjoy!

0-6:30- 4.5 speed / 0 incline 6:30-7:30- 5.0/0.0 7:30-8:30- 5.0/15.0 8:30-9:30- 5.0/0.0 9:30-10:30- 6.0/10.0 10:30-11:30- 7.0-9.0/5.0 11:30-12:30- 3.0/0.0

12:30-13:30- 3.0-4.0/0.0 13:30-14:30- 8.0-10.0 14:30-15:15- 3.0 15:15-16:00- 8.5 16:00-16:30- 3.0 16:30-17:30- 9.0 17:00-18:00- 3.0

18-19- 6.0 19-20: 6.5 20-21: 7.0 21-22: 7.5 22-23: 8.0 23-24: 3.0

24-24:30: 6.0 24:30-25:00- 6.0/6.0 25:00-25:30- 6.0 25:30-26:00- 8.0 26-26:30- 3.0 26:30-27:00- 7.0 27:00-27:30- 7.0/6.0 27:30-28:00- 7.0 28:00-28:30- 8.5 28:30-29- 3.0 29-34= Cooldown

Butt-Boosting Moves!

I think we all know what the trend is right now ladies...MORE BOOTY THE BETTER! I am trying to amp up my workout (and backside) by incorporating more squats, weighted leg lifts, and lunges into my routine. Here are a few exercises to super-set for a deeper burn!

 

Split Squat Jumps: Start in a lunge position with right leg forward. Jump up out of the position and in the air, switch legs and land in a lunge with left leg forward (30 seconds)

Step-Ups: Holding 10-15 lb dumbbells in each hand, step up with right foot on the bench and back down repeating with right leg only. Switch to left leg at the end of the reps (15 each leg)

 

Squat to Press: Holding a 10-15 lb dumbbell between two hands (in front of chest), squat down and as you are returning to standing, press dumbbell above head. Repeat x 20

Squat Jumps: Start in squat position and jump straight up leading with your hands as high as you can. Repeat x 20.

 

Assassinator: Start in standing position. As you lift your right leg to 90 degrees, you are jumping and pushing off your left leg. Do not set your right leg down until you have completed 15 jumps. Then switch sides. (30 reps total)

Burpees:  Start in standing position, drop down to floor and kick legs out so you are now in a plank position. From plank, jump legs back to hands (in a crouching position) and return to standing. Do this for 30 seconds, then rest.

 

Skaters: In semi-squat position with knees bent, jump side to side pushing off outside leg. Remain with knees bent the entire exercise. Do this for 30 seconds and go straight to donkey kicks.

Donkey Kicks: Down on all fours, start with right leg and kick it back and up, tightening your booty every time and pausing at the top of the exercise before returning to start position. 20 reps each leg.