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Keeping Fit and Feeling Fab During Pregnancy

In Fitness, Maternity chic, Supermoms on April 30, 2013 at 1:06 am
Hi I’m Amy from Absolute Amy.  I’m a wife and mum to a gorgeous 2 year old daughter with another baby on the way, living in sunny Perth, Western Australia.  I love coffee and cupcakes and I adore fashion and style.  I’m also passionate about health and well-being and today I’m talking about how to stay fit and feel fabulous during your pregnancy.  If you do have a baby on the way – congratulations! This is one of the most wonderful and beautiful times of your life and I hope this post helps you on your pregnancy journey.
 Absolute Amy 1
 With my daughter Ava – 16 weeks pregnant
 Absolute Amy 217 weeks pregnant
 Absolute Amy 3
 21 weeks pregnant with my daughter Ava

A health professional once told me that in an ideal world, you should be at your fittest when you fall pregnant as you are about to complete a baby growing marathon and after having my first child two years ago, I couldn’t agree more.

I’m not suggesting that in preparation to have a baby you should be spending hours in the gym or running 5 miles each day, but it is a good idea to be paying attention to your health and well-being in whatever form of exercise suits your lifestyle best – walking, yoga, Zumba, the gym, Pilates – some form of exercise is better than nothing!
For me, I’ve never been a massive fan of exercise, but in the middle of last year I discovered my kind of exercise – clinical Pilates. If you don’t know much about Pilates, it’s a controlled and precise form of exercise which involves a wide range of exercises and stretches, focusing on toning and sculpting your body while strengthening your core. It’s perfect for anyone who has an injury as clinical Pilates classes are run by an Exercise Physiologist who can ensure movements are being done correctly.
 Absolute Amy 4Squats on the TRX at Pilates
 Absolute Amy 5On the reformer at Pilates
 Absolute Amy 6
 17 weeks pregnant on the trapeze at Pilates
I also enjoy walking and getting fresh air.  We live close to some local stores, and if I need to run errands I’ll put my daughter in the pram and we’ll go for a walk together.  This way we both get out of the house, get some fresh air and I get some gentle exercise. It’s only takes me about 30 minutes, and it’ a fantastic way to stay fit while getting a few jobs done.
It’s also really important to eat eat fresh and healthy food while you’re pregnant, after all – you’re nourishing a tiny person growing inside you and giving them the very best possible start in life!  Like many pregnant women, my appetite has increased dramatically during my pregnancy, and my cravings are for sweet, sugary things like cakes and cookies.  I try to limit this as much as possible by doing the following;
  • If you don’t have it in the house, you can’t eat it! I intentionally don’t buy cookies and cakes because if they’re in the house, there’s a good chance I’ll eat them.  So leave them out of your shopping cart and fill it with fresh fruit, veggies, cereals, lean meats and low fat yogurt instead.
  • Fill up a fruit bowl at the beginning of each week and have it on your kitchen counter or on your work desk.  You’re more likely to snack on food if you can see it, so put any naughty food out of sight and reach for a piece of fruit instead.  Apples, pears, bananas and berries are the best fruit to eat as they are high in vitamins and fiber and not too high in sugar
  • Don’t skip breakfast! A lot of people make the mistake of not eating breakfast and as a result become so hungry by mid morning that they reach for the first thing they can get, which is often high in sugar.  Instead, opt for a low GI breakfast of porridge topped with blueberries or eggs on toast.
  • Don’t drink your calories! Cut out all sugary drinks and drink water or green tea instead. If you prefer flavored water, fill up a jug with water and add orange or lemon slices, or even some cucumber and mint.  If you like fizzy drinks, stock your fridge with sparkling water, it’s so refreshing and it’s good for you!
  • Carry snacks with you at all times. I get really hungry very quickly, so it’s best for me if I always have some snacks on hand. Bananas are a great option as they already have their very own packaging and I also carry muesli bars which are low in sugar, crackers and little packets of almonds with me.
  • Everything in moderation – including moderation! If you enjoy chocolate or cookies or ice cream, then allow yourself one small slice or a few squares or a small bowl each evening.  This way you have a special treat to look forward to every day and don’t feel like you’re missing out, but you avoid overindulging.
I recently had a healthy eating series on my blog Absolute Amy, you can take a look at healthy breakfastlunchdinner and snack ideas, just click on the links.
And finally, it’s so important to have time for YOU when you’re pregnant.  This can be tricky if you already have other children, but it’s really important for your mental health to have some time out.  Whether that’s going for a quick 10 minute walk around the block to breathe and think, running a big bubble bath (but only with warm water – a hot bath isn’t advisable for pregnant woman) or catching up with friends for coffee or dinner, make sure you take time out for you.
Good luck on your pregnancy journey lovely ladies.  Relax and enjoy this truly incredible time in your life.

 

Amy xxxx

 

You can follow Amy’s pregnancy journey on her blog Absolute Amy, say hi to her on Facebook or follow her on TwitterInstagram or Pinterest.
** DON’T FORGET to enter our Isabella Oliver Giveaway for a chance to win one of their most popular items, the Ruched Maternity T-shirt Dress!

A Berry Sweet and Filling Breakfast

In Fitness, Mom Appetit on April 16, 2013 at 11:29 pm

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We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but as busy moms it’s still tough to squeeze it in.  But remember it will give you the energy you need to accomplish all the things you have to get done during the day, as well as give your baby many of the nutrients they need to grow healthy and strong! Take advantage of new seasons and the new varieties of fresh fruits that come with them.

Did you know that berries are full of nutrients and antioxidants?  I am a true lover of blueberries, after all it is consider “super food” by doctors and nutritionist. I know what you’re thinking though, “I just don’t have time!” That’s why our BerrySweet parfait is so great for busy moms. It can be made the night before so when you wake up in the morning it’s all ready for you to eat.  Or, you can eat it is as a snack in between meals like I do 🙂

BerrySweet Parfait Layers

  • Almond Cranberry Granola
  • Greek Yogurt (Nonfat plain), mixed with blueberries
  • Almond Cranberry Granola
  • Strawberries
  • Greek Yogurt (Nonfat plain)

Enjoy!

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Mom Appetit – Green Goodness Breakfast

In Fitness, Mom Appetit on April 10, 2013 at 1:02 am

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If you are always on the go like me, trust me, this easy green smoothie recipe will be your best friend during hectic mornings!  It’s a great source of nutrients with low calories. Great for getting back into shape after giving birth! Plus with all the iron in the Spinach, it can help you avoid Anemia, a common pregnancy issue that leads to fatigue and hair loss.  I didn’t think I would like spinach until getting diagnosed with Iron deficiency Anemia during my second pregnancy. But then it became a life saver.

What you’ll need:

2 Cups of baby spinach

1 Green apple

1 Pear

1 Cup of water

* Add a banana for an energy boost or a couple of strawberries to add natural sweetness to this healthy, easy-to-make smoothie.

It’s always fun to experiment with fresh green drinks.  There are so many recipes out there and we want to share some of our favorites so check often for more healthy recipes!  And if you have a recipe you’d like to share with us, send us an email at Karen@mychicbump.com. We’d love to hear from you!

Happy Wednesday!

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Mom Appetit – What’s for Lunch?

In Fitness, Mom Appetit on April 3, 2013 at 12:34 am

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During pregnancy you’re in charge of getting nutrients for two people, but that doesn’t mean you need to EAT for two. It’s hard to stay balanced when you have a hungry baby causing cravings and playing with your body. But healthy eating is never more important than when you’re pregnant and immediately afterwards. Your baby, whether still in the oven, or beginning to nurse relies on you for their diet. That means to be careful that the extra calories you consume come from nutritious foods that contribute to your overall health and the health of your baby. Plus, eating right helps repair your body which has been through the ringer over the past 9 months. Check out this light, healthy lunch that both you and your babies will love!

The Avocado-Tuna Salad

1 Avocado

1 Tomatoe

1 Small can of Tuna

1/2 Cup of corn

Salt

Pepper

Avocados are the best fruit source of vitamin E- an essential vitamin that protects against many diseases and helps maintain overall health; plus its delicious.  Add some Tuna to your salad to get that rich source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids.

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Papaya- Strawberry Paradise

1/2 Of a small papaya

1/2 Lime

6-10 Strawberries

1/2 Cup of water

1 tablespoon of sugar or splenda

This delicious juice is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth plus it’s healthy too! You can use a juicer or just a regular blender.  Papayas are an excellent source of dietary fiber and vitamins.  It is also very rich in antioxidant nutrients, not to mention papaya works magic on strengthening the immune system preventing the recurrent colds and flu.  FYI: Lime helps with digestion and skincare!

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Post Pregnancy Fitness Journey & Wellness Tips

In Fitness, Supermoms on March 23, 2013 at 12:40 am

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My Pregnancy

During the long and lovely 9 months of pregnancy I somehow managed to gain almost 70 pounds!!!  I’m only 5”1 so for someone my size, that is A LOT! In addition to almost being 2 weeks over due, I found out I had Pre-eclampsia right after delivery.  That did not help with the weight because you gain water weight like a whale!!! I was forced to have an emergency c-section which also puts a damper on quick weight loss after baby.

I was always a petite girl and so naturally EVERYONE and their mom told me the lies of advice that I wish I had never heard, “you will be back to your skinny self in no time… you will be one of those girls who can wear her skinny jeans home from the hospital… I bet you won’t gain any baby weight at all!”  Never say that to anyone!  I had it in my mind that I would have no problem shedding the weight.  Towards the end of my pregnancy I was starting to worry about how much weight I was putting on.  The doctors said it was normal, but I could not for the life of me stay full! (I swear that my baby was going to be a sumo wrestler or 20lbs, although he was over 9 pounds!!!) If I could go back I would definitely start an exercise routine from the beginning and be more aware of the food I was putting in my body. I have learned a lot more now about what foods are healthy AND keep you full.

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Now to the diet….

I knew how to eat healthy, but I wanted something extreme to kick start my body.  After a few weeks of not losing much and getting discouraged, I went and stayed with my sister-in-law while our husbands were away for work.  She knows a lot about health and has done many juice fasts and raw eating.  We cut out sugar, dairy, and gluten for 5 weeks.  I’m not going to lie, it was hard for the first few days to be off sugar.  I didn’t realize how much of it I ate until I couldn’t! Every morning we would start with a green drink.  (A blended drink with fruit and spinach, my baby loves them too!) There are lots of recipes you can try, but we would just throw together whatever fruit we had.  If you are scared of spinach, just start with a few pieces and add more each drink!   We ate a lot of drive thru salads, bananas with peanut butter, and scrambled egg mixtures.  I ended up losing about 15 pounds in those 5 weeks!  During that time I felt so good!  My body felt very clean and like it was running at my best! There are so many people eating healthy right now that it is easy to get recipes and ideas from other people, you just have to look!

I definitely lost the most weight between 5-7 months post baby.  I think a lot of it had to do with being more active and nursing!  My 22 pound baby was eating and eating, which helped me burn more calories.  I committed to go on more walks outside or even around malls or grocery stores.  I wanted to be moving more than sitting!  It hasn’t been the easiest to stick to that strict diet.  On most days I still try to cut out sugar and gluten, and fill my meals with lean meats and vegetables.  If I do eat bad, I try to just stay positive and do my very best.  Nobody is perfect!  You have to find what works for you and what makes YOU feel good. After the weight slowed down I started going to the gym to lose those last 10 pounds!  My favorite for cardio is the stair stepper or the bike.  If I had my choice, I would attend a Yoga class every day.  It definitely makes me feel so relaxed and ready to take on a new day! Bottom line… GET MOVING!

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My favorite healthy snacks

  • Carrots with individual packs of hummus (from Costco)
  • Greek yogurt with healthy granola
  • Apples with organic peanut butter or cheese stick
  • Avacado with ANYTHING
  • Trail mix, and throw out the M&M’s if you are brave J

My favorite things to make a healthy meal

  • Quinoa (there are so many good recipes, I add it to all my salads too)
  • Pesto tilapia
  • Plain oatmeal with cinnamon, vanilla, and fresh peaches- or any fruit
  • Asparagus baked in the oven with olive oil (soooo good)
  • Fruit salad and chicken (any fruit and veggies you have, mix chicken in some plain greek yogurt, salt –pepper, then lettuce and yum!)

As far as weight goes… it took me about 7-8 months to get back to my pre-baby weight and lose almost 60 pounds.  My body is still not where I want it to be, I’m quite sure it never will be.  I just keep reminding myself that I had a baby, a giant one at that.   It is definitely embarrassing to post pictures of my lovely baby body for lots of people to see, but I hope that it can give at least one person motivation!

In today’s world it is very hard for women to have any self esteem.  There is such a large shoe to fill for moms to be so skinny and perfect after a baby.  I got very discouraged and self conscience for a long time, thinking that I would just be a chubby mom forever.  I wish that I had someone’s story to read and tell me that it is normal to look the way I did, and that not everyone has such an easy time losing the weight.  I know that some people take even longer than me to lose it! Don’t ever quit trying!!! If you eat a donut and feel like giving up, just eat it with a smile and start fresh in the morning. Babies are a blessing and our bodies go through so many miracles and changes to make them!  It’s a reminder to me each day that my body made a human being.

My wish is that if you are reading this, love your babies and your body!  You are wonder woman and can do anything you set your mind to!

– XOXO Megan Crane

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Xtend Barre Challenge Results

In Fitness on March 6, 2013 at 1:31 am

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http://www.xtendbarreprovo.com/

I have never been especially good at exercising regularly, and the gym was never really appealing to me. So when I heard about Xtend Barre combining dance (which I LOVE) and Pilates (which I had heard great things about) I wanted to give it a try. I was just coming off of my second pregnancy and getting back into shape was top priority for me. But even though I was committed to working hard, I was worried. I was out of shape and didn’t want to get hurt or look silly in front of other people who looked like they knew what they were doing. But Nicole  came to the rescue and helped me get started with a 1 month Xtend Barre Challenge.

You may have seen my post talking about the Xtend Barre Challenge and my first impressions working out there. In short, it was awesome! Beautiful facilities, great atmosphere, friendly teachers who really want to help you succeed, and even an adorable child care service that I could barely get my daughter to leave, she was having so much fun.

One of my favorite things in my experience with Xtend Barre was the close personal instruction you get, even in a 20 person class. Everyone knows the instructor by name, and they are right there with you every step of the way helping you reach your goals and learn the moves. Xtend really feels like a “Lady’s workout” because everything is focused on toning, chiseling and lengthening your whole body. The small, controlled motions are great for hitting specific areas hard and make it much easier to jump in and follow along right away. There’s no choreography to memorize or steps to worry about missing, just a killer workout using your own body weight and ability level. That was a really big deal for the women in the class who were still pregnant too. The instructors had modifications to ever exercise to make it safe for them, while still getting the workout they were looking for. On a side note, huge props to all the pregnant women in the class that were so on the ball and seriously took less breaks than I did! You rock!

As for my results, I was pretty sure I’d see a difference, but I really didn’t expect to see as quick or dramatic a change as I did. But the instructors did such an amazing job I was able to reach my goals even while missing almost a week with two terribly sick kiddos (#bronchitissucks #lifehappens).

My goal when I started out was to lose some of my baby weight and to tone up my body as I got into exercising regularly, really for the first time in my life. Let me just say, I am hooked! Not only was I able to reach my basic goals, but I feel healthier than I have in years. I lost 5.5 lbs already and dropped from a pant size of 4 back to between a 2 and a 0 (depending on the brand) like I was back before my FIRST baby! But more than getting back to a smaller size, I am amazed at how much stronger I already feel. I was never aware of my posture before but with my new and improved core muscles I find myself standing taller and feeling more balanced than ever before. My legs are physically and visibly more toned and with their focus on tightening your “challenge zone” my whole body feels more tight and dialed in. Plus, an unexpected but VERY welcome bonus was the huge boost in energy I feel. Whether taking care of sick kids late at night, or packing up the kids and going to the doctor and back too many times, I just have so much more energy and stamina than before that I can better deal with the craziness of life.

I’ve still got a ways to go before I reach my long term goals but if my already tighter, perkier booty is any indication I’ll be able to reach them in no time!

Huge thanks to Nicole and and the Xtend Barre instructors for making it such a wonderful experience and for helping me not only learn the exercises, but to do them right and experience my body moving in the right direction!

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Fitness: Bye Bye Flab Workout – Xtend Barre

In Fitness on February 20, 2013 at 9:35 am

 

A special thanks to my girls at Xtend Barre in Provo! If you have on in your area, you should definitely give it a try!

http://www.xtendbarreprovo.com/

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Balancing T’s

This is one of my favorite full body exercises because every inch of your body is working to keep you aligned and in good form. To do the exercise, stand up straight and put your hands over your head as if you were going to dive into a pool with perfect form. As you keep your arms pointed out above your head, bend your waist and lower your upper in front of you until your chest is parallel (or as close to parallel as you can) with the floor. As you lean forwards balance yourself by raising one of your legs behind you and slightly bending the leg on the ground.. Try to keep your back (raised) leg as straight as possible. The closer you can get to looking like the letter “T” from the side the better! Try and hold it with the best form possible for 10-15 seconds, then stand up and alternate legs. Do 5-6 with each leg.

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Running Bicycle Crunch

I feel like this one always gives me a great ab workout! Get down as if you were going to do a pushup with your arms a little more than shoulder width apart, your feet together and your back straight from your shoulders to your ankles. Now use your abs to pull one knee upwards towards your stomach/chest then drive it back to its starting position. As soon as your foot is back in its starting position do the same with your other knee/leg. Together this makes one rep. Make sure that you use your abs to pull your knee up rather than your leg/thigh muscles. Also, throughout the exercise hold your abs tight by flexing your stomach, then imagine trying to pull your bellybutton back towards your spine. Do 4 sets of 20.

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Side Plank

Start out in pushup position and rotate your torso 90 degrees while lifting one of your arms towards the ceiling. Try to hold your body as straight and flat as possible and focus on using your obliques (the long muscles that go down your sides and frame your abs) and core to keep you stabilized. Hold for 30 seconds and do 3-5 times on each side. If you find it’s too hard to keep good form, lower yourself by resting on your elbow/forearm and knees instead of your hands an feet. *Note – It’s sometimes hard to tell if you’re keeping good form since you can’t see your whole body at once so feel free to have a friend watch the first few times to help.

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Recliners

This one always gets me! Start by sitting on the floor with your legs bent in front of you and your arms extended in front parallel to the ground. Lower your upper body backwards while extending your legs in front of you. Without resting on the floor raise your body back up to starting position to complete one repetition. Do 2-3 sets of 20 repetitions. As much as possible, try not to push your stomach out as your muscles contract. Instead, try to hold them flat like on the bicycle crunch

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Super Leg Lifts

From sitting position put you hands behind you and lift your butt off the ground. Lift one leg towards the ceiling using your abs and not your leg muscles. As much as possible try to keep your leg and back straight. Do 2-3 sets of 10 lifts on each leg. If you’re a beginner just lift your foot to shoulder level instead of above your head. Also, if you’re pregnant or have an injury to your back you can place a ball or pillow behind you to give you extra support.

A key to all of these exercises is to keep good form and use your core to do the movements. That way you’ll avoid injury and strengthen your whole body.

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The Xtend Barre Challenge

In Fitness on January 30, 2013 at 1:41 am

As you all know, I’ve been talking about getting in shape after giving birth as one of my goals for this year (Read more here). I knew that for me it would be really hard to workout at home so I was looking for a gym/club that was close to home. I had a hard time finding something that was a good fit for me though because while I know the basics, I don’t know every move, stretch, and diet. I feel lost or out of place in a gym because everyone else seems to know exactly what they’re doing. I considered working out with a personal trainer to walk me through everything but it was expensive and my schedule had to be more flexible with the kiddos.

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So while my wonderful husband and thoughtful mom were watching Naomi and Camila, and I was trying out anything that had to do with exercise within 15 minutes of my house, the Xtend Barre opened up. That’s when I met Nicole, who told me all about the combination of pilates and dance that made Xtend so unique and effective. I realized it for myself when she gave me a tour of their beautiful place and it looked more like a dance studio than a gym or exercise club. At first that was equally intimidating but at least it felt closer to something I really enjoy (Latin women are born dancing!).

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I was really worried about getting bulky when I started working out (which was the last thing I wanted after having carried plenty of excess bulk for 9 months already). That’s why Xtend was extra appealing. Because they mix the aerobic benefits of dancing with the flexibility and toning of pilates, it feels like a true lady’s workout. Nicole invited me to try it out one day and I loved it. The classes are small enough to feel personal and the instructor is there helping everyone hold the pose just right and explaining which muscles you’re supposed to be using and how it’s supposed to feel. That made a huge difference for me because it’s so easy to have bad posture and cheat yourself on accident. Not here though! They make sure to help everyone do the exercises correctly and feel comfortable and confident even for those without a background in dance.

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After that I was hooked. Nicole challenged me to come for a month and see the results in how I looked and felt and I jumped right on it. As I continue to go I’ll share pictures of what I learn, tips and tricks, and maybe highlight a few of the awesome instructors to give you a better feel for it. And you know what the icing on the cake was? They have the cutest place for kids to play and nicest people there to watch your kids while you work out. Naomi has so much fun it’s always hard to get her to come home to take a nap! Haha, I guess she’ll be my extra motivation to go if I ever get lazy or tired.

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http://www.facebook.com/XtendBarreProvo

http://www.xtendbarreprovo.com/

Fitness: Love Your Legs Workout

In Fitness on January 14, 2013 at 12:49 am

Here we go ladies, now is the time! Time to sweat it all out! The holidays are over, friends and families are back in their own homes and baby is officially out, but the bump still lingers … dun! dun! dun! For me, this new year is all about focusing on getting back in shape and flattening that post-baby bump. I’ll be keeping track of my progress and sharing tips I learn along the way. Here is to a fitter, firmer me!

Finding an hour to workout at the gym can be tricky especially with kids, so here’s a workout you can do at home.

Do the following exercises  2-3 times a week

What You’ll Need: An exercise mat (Not pictured below. My 2 yr old had the “magic carpet” hidden the day these pictures were taken and couldn’t be found in time).

How it Works: Each move its designed to challenge multiple muscles on your legs at once. It may be quick, but its tough! Ready? Ok, here we go!

1) The Ultimate Squat – Slowly lower your body as though you are ‘sitting’ in a chair until your thighs are parallel with the ground.  Remain in the lowered position, and perform a side leg kick, working the outer leg. Do the same on the other side.  Do 3 sets of 8-16 reps. My knees are actually a little too far forward in this picture, be careful that they don’t stick out further than your toes

pic1 pic82) Bend your right knee while keeping your left leg straight and reach with your left hand to touch your right foot – keep your arms straight.  Do the same on the other side with a hop in between sides. Do a set of 40.

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3) Foot Circles – Lift your leg as high as you can and draw small circles with your foot in a clockwise motion.  Don’t hurry and don’t move your knee or hip, all the movement should be coming only from your ankle. Do 30-40 circles and change the direction. Then switch legs.

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4) Sculpting your legs – Lift your leg at a 90 degree angle, and then bring it back down slowly, your foot does not touch the ground.  Make sure you are keeping your leg straight.  Do 40 reps before switching to the other leg.

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And that’s it! We did it!

Workout outfit: Top, similar style here | Bottoms, similar style here | Shoes

Each week I’ll be posting a new fitness tip/workout and documenting the progress I make. I’d love to hear what things you’re interested in seeing and learning. For questions or suggestions email me at karen {at} mychicbump {dot} com

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