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Sunday, August 29, 2010

My Favorite Things(Fitness Edition)

I had planned on getting to this the other day, but we have had a series of mini crisis's which I will share about at another time. I am so excited to share some of my fitness favorites, as fitness is one of my very favorite things!

I recall at one time, on here even I think, saying I HATED exercising at home in front of the TV with a video. I'd rather be in a martial arts class, hiking or doing something else active to stay fit. While that may still be my preference, I have discovered that thanks to P90X, working out at home with a DVD isn't such a bad thing after all! I actually like it! I can workout when I want, when I feel like it and am not stuck to any one else's schedule.

So, P90X would have to be my very favorite fitness find! Probably not a huge surprise to those of you that read here fairly often!


Beachbody which makes P90x is at the top of my list of favorites. They make all sorts of wonderful products. There really is something there for everybody whether you're a beginner exerciser or advanced, or somewhere in between. Unlike many fitness products that are either geared more towards men or usually women, Beachbody makes products for both! The support via the message boards and other resources make it a nice place to hang out and learn more about health and fitness. They offer 30 day free trial memberships and low cost regular memberships.

Almost tied for first with P90x, another of my very favorite fitness resources is Bodybuilding.com There is SO much information and so many resources there that if you are interested in fitness you will spend hours there! Don't let the name fool you, while it is indeed a bodybuilding site per say, and there are lots of bodybuilders there, it is also an awesome resource for anyone interested in getting into great shape and improving your health. There are message boards, tons of informative articles on everything from exercises, nutrition, supplements and more! I find the "transformation" stories to be truly inspiring. There are many women's stories of those who gained lots of weight after children and never have been very active, who didn't begin exercising until their 30's, 40's and later who now look better than most 20 year olds!

Bodybuilding.com also has a great store to buy supplements at incredibly low prices, FAST shipping and they almost always throw in a little surprise in even small orders. I have been gifted with items such as razors, trial sized deodorants, vitamins, sample protein bars, powders and more! If you order $ 75 or more you get to choose from several nice free gifts!

Speaking of supplements, I will share some of my favorites that I regularly take. I always order from Bodybuilding.com.

A word about supplements though: There is no magic formula or pill for weight loss or big muscles or any other fitness goal. It really all boils down to eating right and exercising regularly. If you are doing those, you really don't need more than a good multi-vitamin and perhaps a protein powder. Other supplements can aid you in your goals if you are working hard, but it is only 5-10% of the whole picture, the rest is really hard work! You can't expect to get a shiny bottle of "fat burners" take them and go sit on the couch eating chips and think you're going to lose weight. Same goes for "muscle builders", still gotta lift those weights to build muscle!

For me because I am trying to build muscle and also eat very little meat or eggs I do rely on a good protein powder supplement. I have tried several brands from name brand to ones you can get at Walmart and they all have caused me a very bad upset stomach! I have found one and only one that works for me. Optimum Nutrition's Whey Protein:

They have all sorts of flavors and all mix well and they taste pretty good too! Gone are the days of those thick, chalky shakes you have to plug your nose to down! Many mix well and taste great mixed with just water which is a plus for those of you who like me don't care for dairy. My favorites are the Orange Cream and Tropical Fruit Punch. I like to get Chocolate and mix it in a blender with ice, a banana and a tablespoon of peanut butter for a filling treat! Same goes with the vanilla, you can mix with a variety of frozen fruits for a nice filling smoothie! Very versatile stuff!!

A good multi vitamin is important, and I like to take a joint supplement as my over 40 year old knees just aren't as limber as they once were. Universal Labs makes a great stack that includes both! Again, I've tried a variety of each, and these work the best for me. The multi is great because it includes SO much; Amino's, Digestive Enzymes, a Performance Complex all on top of your vitamins, minerals and antioxidants! They are like taking horse pills and a LOT of them at that, but I swear by these!

I have been trying to give up my Monster Energy Drinks for years and don't drink coffee, so I've been looking for a better way to get my caffeine. I also like to take a recovery formula because even after over a year and a half of working out at this level, I still suffer from muscle soreness. I recently found a product that seems to take care of all the above:

Optimum Nutrition's Amino Energy. This stuff tastes good! Much better than other similar products I have tried, and mixes much better as well. It tastes much like Kool-Aid, which isn't a favorite of mine, but for a product like this, it works! It has caffeine, which gives me the energy boost I desire, plus it has amino's in it. I take it pre and post workout and once in the afternoon as a pick me up. Since starting this, I have suffered very little if any muscle soreness and have just about given up the Monster drinks entirely. A bit pricey considering a bottle only lasts me 5-6 days, but it is about the same as my Monster habit was running me and I think better choice.

Before finding P90x and Bodybuilding.com I had tried several DVD programs and liked many but just couldn't quite find what I was looking for. I find most instructors a bit annoying, especially female ones. I also find many programs geared towards us females to be too dancy and choreographed for my tastes and ability. I like bootcamp style workouts or just good old fashioned push ups, weights, etc...the closet I found that I think would appeal to most woman looking for more than just your traditional cardio/aerobics type program are the videos put out by Jillian Micheal's.

The 30 Day Shred seems to be among her most popular, but probably my least favorite. It is a good starting point though for someone wanting to up their level of fitness. I liked to combine the Boost Metabolism and and No More Trouble Zones on alternating days. Just recently I tried her brand new Yoga Meltdown, which I will write a full review on at a later time, but this is another winner! Not quite Yoga in the sense that I am used to, more of a workout with Yoga inspired moves. It is a good, short workout and I think most would see results with this. I am glad to see her putting out more DVDs and giving us more variety. I like her style of workouts and don't find myself getting annoyed with her like I do most female instructors. I would recommend Jillian's videos to those wanting to get into great shape but not up to the challenge of something like P90x just yet.

Not quite as high on my list, but worth a mention is Tae Bo. Kind of an oldie but a goodie, although he does continue to put out new products. I have reviewed several of the individual titles here in the past, a search will bring up many. This is another good starting point for someone wanting perhaps more of a cardio workout. What appeals to me is Billy Blanks personality is one I can cope with and also the moves are pretty basic, no fancy footwork. There are many similar programs out there that look like even more fun, but the fancy footwork keeps me from enjoying them. I just am not all that coordinated!

Still at the top of my list is Yoga. It is one of my favorite overall workouts and I still practice on average three days per week. I have written several posts in the past stating both my position on Yoga as a Christian and some of my favorites, so I wont repeat it all here again. If you click on "Yoga" in the sidebar you can read many of my posts on the topic.

I have so many other resources I use, mostly websites and blogs and I do hope to get around to adding links to all of these in my sidebar in the very near future.

What do YOU do to stay in shape? I especially love hearing what other homeschooling moms are doing!

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