Back to School, Back on Schedule!

Back to School, Back on Schedule!

If you’ve been following along with me in my Instagram stories, you know that I’ve had a crazy busy and transitional summer! We moved homes in May, went through (what seemed like) endless renovations in our new house and my son Apollo started his second-grade year at a new school this past week.  Apollo was with me almost 100% of the time during summer aside from a few short camps, which means we were all out of a regular routine for the past few months.

Now that the new school year has begun, we are all finally getting back into a more consistent routine and healthier habits. Who’s with me????

Here are four quick tips to get the back into a healthy routine again:

  1. Go to bed earlier– If you’re like me, we are transitioning back to going to bed earlier and setting the alarm clock to wake up at 6AM. This is probably one of the most challenging for my family since my husband and son are both night owls.  Make a commitment as a family (not just the kids) to do this and in the end, everyone will feel less groggy and tired in the AMs. If you can, keep this routine going on the weekends as well!
  2. Meal Prep– I’ve talked about this in previous posts, but it is so important to plan family meals ahead of time!  As a family, we did stay on track this summer with “meal prep Sunday” and grilled chicken and veggies every Sunday to have ready-to-eat during the weekdays. This takes so much time and pressure off deciding what to each each day! For the kiddos, pack lunches the night before and take the pressure off trying to get this done in the early mornings while running out the door! Make sure to include whole-grains, healthy fats and protein with each meal. For more meal-prep ideas, check out my “Healthy Eating at Home” blog HERE.
  3. Re-organize and plan your daily calendar– I am a calendar kind of girl! I’ll be the first to admit that I am super dependent on my e-mail and phone calendar to help keep me on task every day.  From appointments, workouts, meal prep, carpool times, grocery shopping, etc, EVERYTHING is on there and gives alerts me so I don’t forget!  If you’re not doing this, try it for a week and let me know in the comments if it works for you. 
  4. Make exercise a PRIORITY– I know I probably sound like a broken record with this one, but it’s true!  If you make exercise a priority and dedicate at least 20-30 minutes each day to move, you will feel better and MORE productive the rest of the day! Put it on your calendar and make it a must-do PRIORITY!  If you can’t get a workout in yourself, make it a family activity each day after school and on the weekends.  You won’t even realize you’re working out!

Need quick workouts to follow along with? Subscribe to my YouTube channel and make sure to tap the BELL to stay notified with the latest fitness videos HERE.

Who’s ready for fall, y’all?

XOXO,

Ally

Spot Reducing: Fact or Myth?

Spot Reducing: Fact or Myth?

Think reducing fat in a certain area when training is possible? Read on to learn more…

I get questions all the time like “How can I lose fat in my arms?”, “If I do a lot of sit-ups, will I get get rid of the muffin top?”, “Will doing chest exercises make my chest smaller?”.   Let’s just strip off the band aid and make it clear that spot reducing is a MYTH!

According to ACE Fitness, targeting “trouble areas” through isolated exercises is false and ineffective.  The key to achieving a healthy and strong body is by eating healthy, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep in order to increase your metabolism.  What is metabolism?  “Metabolism is the complex chemical processes your body uses for normal functioning and sustaining life, including breaking down food and drink to energy and building or repairing your body.”  Basically, the higher your metabolism, the more calories and fat you burn at rest (doing absolutely nothing!).  The more muscle mass you have, the higher your BMR (basal metabolic rate) is.  OK, no more scientific stuff….

Here are some quick tips on how to get MORE fit and increase your metabolism:

  • Change up your Workout Routine– Do you find yourself doing the same routine day after day and not seeing results?  Change it up by incorporating more interval/HIIT sessions, increase your weights or slow down your pace when lifting.  Think about working BIGGER muscle groups for high calorie burn (like squats, lat pull-downs, bench press, etc.) Check out my Circuit and HIIT workouts on Youtube HERE.
  • Eat Healthier– Without going into too much detail, eat a well-balanced meal plan (I HATE the word “diet”) is a huge factor in losing weight, gaining muscle and increasing your RMR.  Try using a food tracker like MyFitnessPal or Calorie Counter to keep track of macros (carbs, protein and fats)
  • Know your Metabolic Rate– The higher your metabolic, rate, the more calories your body burns during exercise and at rest!  Get to you know your metabolic rate to better train more efficiently.  Recently, I have been using an at-home metabolic tracking device called Lumen! This has changed the game for me and tells me when I’m using carbs or fat for energy.  I’ll post more about this in my Instagram stories and highlights soon!  In the meantime, learn more at: www.lumen.me  Use my discount code to save 10% off purchases:  ALLYFITATL
  • Get more SLEEP– We can all probably use this!  Not getting enough sleep can totally affect your weight and fitness level.  Aside from putting your brain in a funk, sleep deprived individuals make poorer food choices, and experience lower energy levels which can negatively affect your workouts.  The average adult should aim for 7-9 hours of shut eye per night.

To conclude, is spot reducing possible? And the answer is NO!

XOXO,

Ally

Foolproof Guide to Staying Fit While Traveling

Foolproof Guide to Staying Fit While Traveling

With the combination of the pandemic slowing down, warmer weather and kids on school breaks, it’s a time that people are starting to travel again!  Believe me, I am VERY EXCITED to get back to “normal”, whatever that may be moving forward.  Planning a trip is definitely in the near future! 

Making exercise a priority while traveling is usually not the top of my list of things to do.  There are so many better things to do and time is very short!  However, believe me, you will feel better even if it’s just 5-10 minutes of extra movement each day. 

After over a year of home workouts ONLY, it is so easy to transfer those good habits when you’re not at home!  Here’s a few fun tips to get extra exercise in throughout your vacation without sacrificing a ton of time:

  • Make workouts FUN and involve your entire family or partner!  You don’t have be on your own or away from your loved ones during your workout.  Find family friendly activities you all can do!  For example:  go on a hiking adventure (our family’s favorite!), go for a stroll on the beach, have a push-up contest with your family and see who can do the most in good form, play a game like soccer, football, tag, etc., take a walking tour around the city you’re staying at. 
  • Wake up 30-60 minutes early and get your own workout in! OK, so I’ll admit, I don’t always want to exercise as a family because my workouts are ME TIME.  If you’re in the same boat and don’t want to take away family or couple time during the day, wake up 30-60 minutes before everyone else and knock it out!  If there’s a hotel gym or fitness center nearby, do that or complete one of my no equipment home workouts (YouTube link at the end of the post).  Also think about packing light weight fitness equipment like resistance bands and maybe the TRX (it goes with me on every vaca!).  I’ll put links at the bottom of this post for discount codes for my favorite bands!
  • Don’t skip breakfast!  I totally believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, even on vacation.  If you don’t want to eat out, pack yourself some staples from home so you can have a quick and healthy meal or stock up at the local grocery store and stock your fridge (if you have one).  It’s also nice to have your own food with you in case you don’t want to eat out for every single meal.  If you have the option where you’re staying, plan a few healthy meals to stay in and cook.  Easy foods to keep on hand are:  packets of oatmeal, low-sugar cereals, protein bars, yogurt, fruit (think bananas, apples, grapes and oranges), veggies and hummus, cheese sticks. 
  • Sneak exercise in throughout the day!  Exercise throughout the day without having to change your plans!  The first tip is to work your abs!  Anytime you’re sitting or standing, engage the core (suck it in!) and hold for 15-20 seconds.  Slowly release and repeat again 3-5 times.  Do this throughout the day to work your transverse abs. Another tip is to add in extra steps like park the car a little further away, take the stairs, get up and move or walk around at least once every 30 minutes.  Sneak in some calf raises every time you’re in a standing position, do some chair stretches, treat your water bottle like a dumbbell and do some curls or overhead presses! Before you know it, you’ve completed an entire workout through the course of the day

If you do plan on traveling this summer or in the near future, be safe, have fun and get your workout in! 

SAVE THIS and SUBSCRIBE! No Equipment YouTube Playlist:  https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLtLE2bWSgRRAPC5YB7Fr8DZlBLsu3iwA0

Hope Fitness Gear:  I LOVE their mini loop bands and they come in a set!  Check it out and save 20% using my promo code:  ALLYFIT

https://www.hopefitnessgear.com/?ref=allisonaslaksen

TRX products:  I have the TRX HomeSystem2 and it’s AWESOME and so easy to travel with!  Save 10% off with my affiliate link and promo code: TRXAMB10V2AC7X

XO,

Ally

Kegels for Men & Women

Kegels for Men & Women

Did you know that both women AND men have pelvic floor muscles?  The stereotype is that only women have a pelvic floor (PF) and should do kegel exercises but in fact, men also have a PF and need to do kegel exercises!  Read on to learn more…

Pelvic Floor Facts:

  • The PF muscle is a large muscle roughly the size of a sheet of paper connecting your tailbone, pubic bone and hip to hip bone.
  • In women, the PF supports the uterus, bladder, small intestine and rectum. 
  • In men, the PF supports the prostate, bladder, small intestine and rectum.
  • Causes for weak PF muscles include pregnancy, childbirth, surgery, aging, excessive straining from constipation or chronic coughing, and being overweight.
  • Having strong PF muscles leads to: less chance of urinary or bowel incontinence, reduce the chance of passing gas and an increase in sexual function (YES, that means more orgasms!).

Ways to strengthen the Pelvic Floor:

The most traditional way to strengthen the PF floor is to perform kegels.  The best part of kegels if they can be performed in any position and nobody knows you’re doing them! Sitting or lying down is ideal but can also be completed in a standing position.

  • If you are not sure if you’re contracting (lifting) the PF properly, imagine stopping urination mid-stream (do this once, but do not make this a regular habit it can lead to a urinary tract infection).  Think about lifting up all four corners of the PF muscle.
  • When performing kegels, DO NOT tighten your glutes or abdominal muscles.  Also, do not hold your breath (breath normal). 
  • Once the PF muscle is lifted, hold for 2-3 seconds and then slowly relax. Repeat for 20-30 seconds multiple times each day.
  • Play around with different counts like hold for 4 counts, relax 4 counts.  Try Quick Flicks: 30 seconds lifting and relaxing quickly for 30 second blocks.

Kegels should be a permanent part of your daily routine to keep your pelvic floor healthy and strong! 

Check out my YouTube video highlighting proper kegel technique:

If you’re having any issues performing kegels or not sure if you’re doing them properly, consult with your physician or healthcare provider.

The moral of the story is: DO YOUR KEGELS!

XOXO,

Ally

Are you Pregnant and Meeting your Nutritional Needs?

Are you Pregnant and Meeting your Nutritional Needs?

If you are currently pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant, here is a quick guide to dietary supplements that should be included in your daily regime according to the most recent version of the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.  These are important minerals to include in addition to eating a healthy and well-balanced meal plan.

**Consult with your healthcare provider for guidance regarding caloric intake during pregnancy and lactation.

Supplements and foods to consider:

  • Folate/Folic Acid- It is important to increase folic acid intake at least one month pre-pregnancy and during pregnancy in order to prevent neural tube defects.  The recommended amount is 400-800mcg of folic acid per day.  Food sources include dark leafy greens, beans, peas, and lentils. All enriched grains (i.e., bread, pasta, rice, and cereal) and some corn masa flours are also fortified with folic acid.
  • Iron- Levels tend to fall when pregnant and then return back to normal post-lactating once menstruation begins.  Pregnant women need twice as much iron in order to make the blood supply for the baby.  Iron also helps move blood from your (and your baby’s) lungs to the rest of your body.  Iron deficiency is very common for pregnant women so it is very important to consume at least 30mg/day to support this.  Most prenatal vitamins cover this amount.  Food sources include most animal sources, dark leafy greens, beans, lentils and peas.
  • Iodine- Having the proper amount of iodine consumption is important for neurocognitive development of the fetus.  Iodine is primarily in dairy products, eggs, seafood and iodized salt. Most pregnant women do not need to take a supplement. 
  • Choline- This mineral supports infant brain health and spinal development.  This mineral is typically not found in prenatal vitamins but can be found in eggs, meat and some seafood as well as beans, peas and lentils.  Speak with your healthcare provider if for choline supplement guidance.
  • Seafood- A great source for Omega-3’s which are found in fatty fish.  It is recommended to intake 8-12 ounces of seafood per week from sources lower in methylmercury. Over time, this mineral can be harmful to the brain and nervous system if a person is exposed to too much of it over time.  This, in turn, can lead to negative effects on the developing fetus. Here are the best options:  sardines, pollock, flounders, cod, tilapia, shrimp, oysters, clams, scallops and crab.

For more information about the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines, visit: https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov

If you’re interested in joining my Prenatal or Postpartum Fitness classes, submit your request HERE or e-mail:  Allison@allyfitatl.com

XOXO,

Ally

New Year, New You?

New Year, New You?

Who else HATES that saying?  I totally get the idea of New Year, New You…BUT that saying is so overused and misinterpreted in many ways.  INSTEAD, let’s focus on continuing our healthy habits from the previous year and build on that.  If you fell out of your fitness and or eating routine over the holidays, no worries!  If you’re like me, I was surrounded by not-so-healthy foods and my workout schedule was inconsistent.  And that is A-OK!  No need to beat yourself up for that.   Start fresh TODAY and get back to your healthy pre-holiday habits.   

Here are 5 tips for getting back on the healthy train:

  1. Get back to eating whole, nutritious foods at home:   Get rid of the processed junk food that accumulated over the holidays and fill up the fridge and pantries with healthy, fresh foods.  Review my previous post, “Healthy Eating at Home” on my blog, Click HERE
  2. Have an Accountability Buddy:  It’s been proven that having an accountability buddy will help increase the likelihood that you’ll stick to a healthy lifestyle program.  Whether it be your spouse, friend, trainer or nutrition coach, etc. knowing that someone is checking in will keep you more accountable and less chance to fall off the wagon!
  3. Reduce Alcohol Consumption:  This one seems very obvious, but the day and age that we’re living in now has probably made reducing alcohol consumption a bit more challenging.  According to medical experts, alcohol has been used MORE during the pandemic to help deal with individuals battling mental and emotional distress, loneliness and physical isolation.  With some things still being out of our control and many of us continuing to work remotely 24/7, it’s important to be aware of weekly or daily alcohol consumption.  Be proactive and make the change to reduce this habit.  I’m not saying to completely give up drinking, but maybe instead just have a glass or two on the weekends and cut out the weekday/night drinking.  For more information, visit www.alcohol.org
  4. Be more Active: Dedicate at least 5 days a week to 30-60 minutes of exercise.  Believe me, you’ll feel MUCH better when you can get up and move!  No time?  Break this up into mini workouts of 5-10 minutes multiple times per day instead!  Check out my YouTube channel for a variety of short and longer workouts fit for any fitness level HERE
  5. Soak in some sun:  I know it’s winter where most of you are located, but breaking up the work day by stepping outside for even 5-10 minutes once or twice can have such a positive impact on your day overall!  Soak in that Vitamin D and take a few deep cleansing breaths!  Of if you’re like me, take the pups out for a walk and now you both get a break from the house AND a quick workout in!

Happy New Year and cheers to a HEALTHY and FIT 2021!

XOXO,

Ally

Holiday Fitness Series 2020

Holiday Fitness Series 2020

Seasons Greetings!  ‘Tis the season to stay in shape and not gain the dreaded holiday L-B’s. Join me in this 3-part Holiday Fitness Series that will keep you moving and in shape throughout the holiday season! 

Here’s the Challenge:

  1. Subscribe to my YouTube Channel, Allyfitatl, and get notified when videos are released!
  2. Complete all three videos at your own pace within one week during the holiday season.
  3. Follow my fitness account on Instagram, @Allyfitatl, and share a post or story that you completed the Holiday Fitness Series.  TAG ME and at least one other fitness pal to complete the series next! 
  4. Use the hashtag: #allyfitholiday and I’ll share your success in my IG Stories!
  5. Last but not least, HAVE FUN!!!  It’s all about enjoying yourself during the crazy holiday season. Laugh, eat, drink and workout! It’s all about the balance!  Grab a virtual workout buddy and let’s get moving together. 

Let’s finish the year STRONG!

Cheers to Healthy Holidays!

Cheers to Healthy Holidays!

To indulge or not indulge over the holidays?

The holidays are quickly approaching and if you’re like me, it’s the most challenging time of year to stay ON TRACK with healthy eating and exercise!  The key is to plan ahead before temptations arise with these few easy steps:

  1. Plan your Weekday Meals– Before the holiday even begins, don’t stop meal prepping for the week! This means over the weekend, write down your family’s meals for each day of the upcoming week and put your grocery list together.  For my family, that usually means grilling or baking proteins like chicken or lean meats and washing, roasting and prepping fruits and vegetables so they’re ready to grab and eat. With my husband and I both working from home, this is great because we never have to think, “What’s for lunch?”. 
  2. Limit Alcohol Consumption– Holidays are a great excuse to eat AND drink a little bit more…but did you know that one festive drink can rack up to 300+ empty calories?  Yikes!  That doesn’t even include meals!  Even wine isn’t calorie free  The average, 5 ounce glass of wine has 120 calories, martini about 200 calories, margarita and daiquiri…wait for it….up to 300+ calories PLUS over 50 grams of sugar! (think about how many glasses were consumed at your last holiday event!).  So before grabbing that first or even second alcoholic beverage, think twice and maybe enjoy a small extra helping of your favorite food dish instead!
  3. Make Healthy Cooking Substitutions– I LOVE a good, rich dessert and creamy mac & cheese (who doesn’t?)!  Unfortunately, that probably means there’s extra butter, cream and sugar in that yummy dish.  If you’re planning to host or bring prepped food to your next family gathering, think small ingredient substitutions that, honestly, no one will know you made except you!  Play around with recipes before the event. 

Here are some of my “sneaky” healthier cooking subs:

  • Cut the amount of sugar by a third or half in cookie recipes.
  • Use applesauce instead of butter in cake recipes.
  • Substitute two egg whites for one whole egg in any baking recipe.
  • Making mashed potatoes?  Substitute half cauliflower for half of the potatoes, use fat free half-and-half or low-fat milk instead of heavy cream, cut the butter in half, use fat-free plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.
  • Use whole-wheat pasta for the next mac & cheese dish and also low or fat-free milk instead of whole milk. 
  • For cheese and charcuterie platters:  Choose low-fat cheeses and leaner meats like turkey salami or thin sliced lean ham.
  • For regular ground beef dishes, use ground sirloin/extra lean ground beef or substitute ground turkey or chicken breast instead.
  • Plan your Workouts– Don’t let the holidays get in the way of your regular workouts! Even if it’s just 20-30 minutes/day, get it in!  Make it a family affair and take walks or hikes together or play outside.  You can also follow along with some of my no equipment home workout videos on Youtube! 
  • Choose Food Splurges Wisely– Is there one or two special dishes or desserts that you only get to eat once a year?  Enjoy those foods MORE and minimize the foods you can have any other time of year. 

Stay up-to-date and accountable with more health and fitness tips throughout the holiday season on my YouTube Channel and Instagram page! 

Happy holidays!

XOXO,

Ally

Is it Safe to Exercise During Pregnancy?

Is it Safe to Exercise During Pregnancy?

The answer is…YES! According to ACOG guidelines (The American College of Obstetrician and Gynecologists), “Women with uncomplicated pregnancies should be encouraged to engage in aerobic and strength-conditioning exercises before, during, and after pregnancy”. It is recommended that pregnant and postpartum women get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity spread throughout the week. Here are just a few of the benefits of staying fit during pregnancy:

  • Women who exercise during pregnancy have been shown to have a decrease risk of cesarean birth, operative vaginal delivery and reduced postpartum recovery time.
  • Feel more energetic throughout pregnancy.
  • Helps prevent depressive disorders in the postpartum period.
  • Experience less overall bodily pains and aches during pregnancy; in particular lower lumbar and sciatic.
  • A reduced risk of gestational hypertensive disorders, gestational hypertension and lower glucose levels.
  • Experience quicker recovery postpartum.
  • Aerobic training in pregnancy has been shown to increase aerobic capacity in normal weight and overweight pregnant women

Here are some great types of exercise to do while pregnant:

  • Walking
  • Stationary cycling
  • Prenatal fitness classes
  • Dancing (low impact)
  • Resistance exercises (eg, using weights, elastic bands)
  • Stretching exercises
  • Hydrotherapy, water aerobics

If you are pregnant or have recently given birth, try one of my online virtual classes for FREE!  Send me a message or check out the Perinatal Fitness Class page for more information and schedule. 

The takeaway is, do not be afraid to workout or begin a fitness program while pregnant!  It is the BEST thing you can do for yourself and your little one.

XO, Ally

*Please consult with your physician or OB before beginning any fitness program during pregnancy and postpartum.

For more information about exercise guidelines, visit: http://www.acog.org

Keep COOl when Working Out in the Summer Heat

Keep COOl when Working Out in the Summer Heat

It’s HOT, it’s HUMID and you still need to get your workout in….

It’s the middle of summertime for many of us and that means sweating a good amount more during your workouts, especially if you’re working out outdoors.  Before heading out the door, be smart and plan ahead so you don’t get caught getting dehydrated or over-heated.

Here are some “Stay Cool” tips to keep in mind when working out this time of year:

  • STAY HYDRATED– Did you know that a loss of only 20% of total body water can cause death?  Yikes!  Water makes up the majority of our body composition and if you are dehydrated, you’re already past the point of thirst.  Read more about the importance of hydration in my previous post.  When the temps are high, increase your water consumption to at least 4-8 ounces for every 20-minutes of working out (more if you’re working out at a higher intensity).  After your workout, consume 16-20 ounces for every pound lost during the workout to help replenish fluids.
  • TIMING– Time your outdoor workouts BEFORE it gets too hot outside.  Get outside before 9 or 10AM or in the later evenings evenings after the sun goes down.  For myself, I love working out in the mornings and try to get out early (especially when I ride my road bike).  Lunchtime and mid-afternoon is the HOTTEST, so avoid going outside during those times. 
  • DON’T FORGET THE SUNSCREEN– Remember to lube up any body part exposed to the sun with sunscreen about 15-20 minutes before heading out.  Look for “Sport” or “Waterproof” screens with at least 30-45 UVB/UVA sunscreens.  Don’t forget your face as well!
  • FIND SOME SHADE– If you’re doing yoga, interval/circuit training or more stationary type exercises, try to find a nice shady spot to do these workouts in.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised how much cooler it feels in the shade compared to in the sun. 
  • TAKE FREQUENT BREAKS– Listen to your body and take frequent breaks as needed.  If your energy level feels a little low, it’s OK to slow down, walk it out, or even stop and take longer to hydrate in the warmer temps.   
  • WORKOUT INDOORS– I understand with some gyms still being closed, working out indoors is not much of any option.  Be creative with the areas you have in your home and get your workout in!  Check out my Instagram, Allyfitatl, for exercise ideas that work in small spaces 

Stay cool, stay hydrated and keep up the great work!

XOXO, Ally