Here’s Why Your Stability Ball Is Your Friend

You grabbed it during a one off trip to Marshall’s. It was sitting there…shiny, pink or maybe even purple and the price was within your budget. You thought to yourself, let me be cute and get in shape with this trendy ball thing. It started out wonderfully. You used it to work out here and there, and sometimes you sat in it for good posture. You had every intention of spending more time with your stability ball but over time it grew into new age home decor that got the most attention when your nieces and nephews visited. “Where’s the handle?”, they asked. Every now and then your pet would roll around with it. Well, I’m here to tell you, don’t let that thing collect dust and pet dander in the corner of your living room any longer. It’s probably the cheapest, whole body, at home, workout system. At first glance, it looks like an elementary play thing that could never give you an effective workout. But, if you commit to using it consistently, your stability ball can help snap your whole body into beach-ready condition.

For starters, the stability ball helps to build your pillar strength. What is “pillar strength”, you’re wondering? It includes our hip flexors, our core, anterior (front), posterior (back), obliques (sides) and our shoulders. All body movement flows from this region. You can see the importance of strength training this area, right?! There are many exercises that involve this area. Especially if or when you decide to lift, you’ll need a strong pillar before you even venture to that arena. It’s my educated suggestion that you master your body weight before you add any additional weights (20+ lbs) to your workout. The stability ball is a great option for strengthening your pillar and can be combined with an array of body weight workouts to modify the exercise to your skill level. Here’s a breakdown of what I did today. Sorry, I couldn’t record the entire workout but I put them in terms that are simple to understand.

  • Wall squats with the ball resting between your lower back and the wall
  • Single leg wall squats with ball resting between your lower back and the wall
  • Lunges with one leg suspended laterally on top of your stability ball
  • Single leg lunges with rear leg suspended on top of the stability ball
  • Bridges with feet on top of your stability ball
  • Single leg bridges with feet on top of your stability ball
  • Side planks with stability ball in between feet
  • Leg raises with stability ball in between feet
  • Hamstring curls with feet rested on stability ball
  • Plank with feet rested on top of stability ball
  • Push-up planks with feet rested on top of stability ball
  • Sit-ups with stability ball
  • Bridge hold with neck rested on stability ball
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Oh, Hey. I’m just here tightening up my glutes, hamstrings and core with one piece of equipment! 

The key with each exercise is to take your time. Form is everything. You want to make sure you’re taking time to get into the proper position. You’ll probably fall off balance a few times but it’s important not to rush through.

Remember that everyone starts somewhere!

I hope this read was helpful!

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Tips To Fitting A Workout Into Your Schedule

For those of us with a packed schedule, it’s super difficult to find time to meal prep and eat, let alone make it to the gym and get a full session in. We’ve got jobs, relationships, families, school, and a litany of extracurriculars that make it nearly impossible to get to the gym. If you struggle with fitting your entire routine in or even making it to the gym, you’re not alone. The last few months were crazy for me (in a great way) but it became increasingly apparent that I needed to tighten up on my strategy. I’ve thrown together a list of things that helped me get my life:

  1. Pack your bag the night before and review your check-list. I go to the gym in the mornings and I shower there after my workout. My check-list includes flip-flops, a towel and wash cloth, toiletries, a comb, a brush, my scarf, my lock, ear phones and of course, my clothes and shoes I plan to wear to work. It really doesn’t seem like such a big deal but this is similar to packing an overnight bag. For most of us, it’s no easy feat. We can get stalled on something as simple as bobbie pins…the black or the brown? The curved or the ridged? Body wash suddenly becomes a life decision. Caress or Shea Moisture? Bar soap or liquid? I can’t be the only one! Lol. Therefore, I go on ahead and get all that out of the way the night before.
  2. Know what you want to do before you get there. It helps when you have an idea of what you’re going to accomplish that day as opposed to going and just winging it. I’ve winged it a lot in the past and sometimes it’s great, other times I leave the gym feeling like I wasted my time because, quite simply, I did. I could’ve moved with phantom speed, flowing from machine to machine, mat to wall, track to stairs but, no. I couldn’t decide between the inclined leg press or an overhead press. What part of my body needs more work? All things I should have given thought to before my workout.
  3. Create your playlist ahead of time and resist the urge to mess with your player during your workout. I know for sure that when I don’t follow this rule, I get pulled into so many distractions such as JUNKFIT.org, a random text or a work email. Focus on the workout, not your phone.
  4. Give yourself enough time to move between locations. Meaning, if you want a 90 minute workout and it takes you 30 min to get to the gym and another 30 to get from the gym to work, you need to do the math so that you’re comings and goings allow for the workout you want. Don’t let a killer 90 minute sesh turn into a lackluster “at least I made it the gym” 30 minute kinda thing.
  5. Lastly, your workouts should fall under your category of “non-negotiables”. There is no IF you can make it to the gym that day. There is only WHEN. You will make it to the gym because you’ve planted that seed and you WILL see it grow. Remember, being healthy, fit, in shape, whatever you call it, it’s a lifestyle. So, get with it. Fall in love with it. It will only love you back!

JUNKFIT Baltimore “Sweat Sesh” Sunday May 22nd

Join us for JUNKFIT’s first ever “Sweat Sesh” this Sunday, May 22nd. We’ll be pumping it up just in time for Summer ’16. Meet at the YMCA at 33rd Street Field in Baltimore, MD at 1:00 pm. Don’t forget to bring your mat, water and small weights if you have them. It’s free so tell your girls and get with us!

All fitness levels are welcomed 😉

RSVP at junkfit@gmail.com.

-Jazz

 

Required Reading | “By Any Greens Necessary” Author Tracye McQuirter, MPH

When I peeled back the wrapping paper on what felt like another token Christmas gift (yes, I’m childish), I had no idea that my brother was gifting me something that would alter my perception of the American food industry forevaaa (Cardi B voice). I’ve seen plenty of vegan and animal rights films but the deeper impact of a good ole paperback just cannot be debated. “By Any Greens Necessary” by Tracye Lynn McQuirter is a must read for all African Americans–especially black women. You can hear this same message from a gazillion different sources, but hearing it from a sista just makes the message so much more personal and tailored to our needs and interests.

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Tracye Lynn McQuirter, MPH

We have the highest rates of many chronic diseases, most of which can be prevented by adopting a plant based diet and eliminating animal foods. It’s common knowledge that animal products are packed with cholesterol, saturated fats, antibiotics, fecal matter, mucus and many other substances that these poor animals encounter during their filthy stay at the barn house. Regardless of all that we’ve read about the American meat industry we are still so reluctant to adopt a vegan lifestyle because we think animal flesh is an essential component to our diets. What most of us don’t know is that our bodies do not need animal products to lead a healthy lifestyle.

In “By Any Greens Necessary”, you’ll learn that contrary to what the USDA nutrition guidelines advise, 70% of African Americans cannot safely digest lactose (big shocker there).  I can’t even look at milk without shuddering. As a child, I digested milk like a champ. As an adult? Not so much. I, like many other black men and women, developed a lactose intolerance with age. Milk simply hurts these days. Hurts my stomach and gives me painful cramps that last for hours if I’m lucky. Sometimes the pain has side affects like constipation and nausea. So why on earth does the USDA recommend 2-3 servings of dairy per day? They essentially ignore the fact that we cannot safely digest it. In fact, many Asian, Native American and Latinos have a hard time digesting lactose as well. The only group that can digest lactose with ease is Caucasians. Yet, it is required that cafeteria workers place a carton of milk on each school lunch tray–whether the child wants the milk or not. It begs the question WHY? How on earth does dairy merit inclusion on the USDA’s 5 food groups? Why, when meat has been linked to heart disease, high cholesterol and many outbreaks of deadly viruses, does the government continue to allow excessive marketing, cheap and unhealthy production, despicable conditions and deceptive labeling to lead the masses to literally eat themselves to death? The recommendation of animal products on our guidelines is a sad and villainous representation of all that is wrong with our country.

If that little tidbit of information wasn’t compelling enough to make you go out and grab the book, maybe this will. My eyes nearly rolled out of my head when I read that dairy had been linked to the dreaded uterine fibroid. That’s plural for most of us. Two summers ago my 3 little fibroids landed me a stay in Brooklyn Hospital for a week on an ice and water diet. I was so miserable. That’s when I learned that a whopping 90% of Black women will develop uterine fibroids between ages 20 and 50. In numerous studies, the growth of fibroids have been linked to dairy, ham and beef consumption. Complications with fibroids can lead to hysterectomy which means no little chocolate babies for you and hubby.

Ladies, please, please, please do yourself a favor and grab this book. It is in fact a matter of life and death. Sista to sista and with love, you owe it to yourself to go out and get all of this knowledge!

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xo,

Jazz

 

 

Back To School: 10 Lunch Essentials That Support Brain Development

It’s back to school time and amidst all the hustle and bustle remember one very important factor in your child’s performance – nutrition! Arm them with the nutrients they need to succeed. Most foods marketed to young children are absolutely the worst things for them. Breakfast cereals packed with sugar and processed ingredients, juices with random coloring, chips sprinkled with vibrant “cheese product”. There is little to no nutritional value in these items. Think about the affects these foods have on your child’s brain over an extended period of time.

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Let’s help our kids in school and get them back to basics. Here is a list of items you can grab on your next grocery run that have been proven to support better brain function.

Water (instead of juice)

Drinking water and brain function are integrally linked. Lack of water to the brain can cause numerous symptoms including problems with focus, memory, brain fatigue and brain fog, as well as headaches, sleep issues, anger, depression, and many more. The brain is one of the most important organs in your body to keep fueled. It is approximately 85 percent water and brain function depends on having abundant access to water. Water gives the brain the electrical energy for all brain functions, including thought and memory processes.

Whole Grains

Our brains need energy to function just like any other organ in our bodies. Whole grains are carbohydrates which break down to glucose. Unfortunately, not all glucose is created equal. Some sugars have a high glycemic index which means the energy releases into your body at a rapid rate, shocking your blood stream and supplying you with a high amount of energy and then causing you to crash once it has worn off. Whole Grains have a low glycemic index. The energy they supply is slowly released providing you with a steady stream of energy. When grabbing your breakfast cereals, keep this in mind. Make sure the cereal is made with whole grains and also go the extra distance and make sure there is little to no added sugar. Better yet, just grab the plain whole rolled oats oatmeal.

Eggs

Egg consumption is known to improve concentration in children as they are extremely nutritious, having an abundance of brain-boosting proteins, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids. They can also be served in a number of ways, either by itself or as a topping for sandwiches.

Kale

Deep green-colored fruits and veggies are among the best foods you can give to your kids. However, kale stands out as a super brain food for kids. Its abundance of folate and vitamins enhances the development of the brain and protects it from damage as they age. It also contains a powerful detoxifying agent, and assists with the growth of new brain cells.

Apple

It’s no wonder apples are every kid’s favorite. They’re a sweet and refreshing snack that does wonder’s for dietary function. However, the apple assists in brain development as well. It’s main brain-helping ingredient is quercitin, a chemical found mostly in the skin of apples. This compound is seen to have a direct effect on the prevention of cognitive decline in both short and long terms.

Blueberries

Many studies have linked blueberries to improving or delaying short term memory loss. Blueberries are also rich in antioxidants, which work to neutralize free radicals linked to the development of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other age-related conditions.

Tomatoes

There is good evidence to suggest that lycopene, a powerful antioxidant found in tomatoes, could help protect against the kind of free radical damage to cells which occurs in the development of dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s.

Broccoli 

This vegetable is a great snack and is super rich in  vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function and improve brainpower.

Avocado

This is not only delish on our tortillas and salads, but it also helps with cognitive function.

Walnuts and other nuts

Walnuts improve working memory, problem-solving and motor function. Nuts are loaded with proteins, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals are known to develop and maintain superior brain functions. Some nuts are rich in Vitamin E, selenium, and folate, 3 of the most brain-friendly compounds known to man.

Healthy Indulgence: Buffalo Chicken Whole Wheat Pasta Bake

I’ve been craving pasta a LOT lately. Earlier this week I made some spaghetti alfredo with chicken. Twas delicious. Lol. Today, I was in the mood for something with some kick sooooo, I turned it into a buffalo chicken bake. I picked out some of my favorite veggies and added them to the mix as well. I’m gonna get to the recipe but first things first, let’s talk about whole wheat vs white pasta.

Whole wheat pasta is far more nutritious than traditional white pasta because it still has the fiber and nutrients that are stripped during the processing of white pasta. White pasta loses almost 60% of it’s grain through processing. Additionally, pasta is categorized as a carbohydrate. Carbs are the largest macronutrient making up the majority of our recommended diet (225-325 g/day) and should be chosen wisely. Because there are so many bad carbs out there, it is important that we know and seek out the ones that are best for us! Studies have shown that 3 servings of whole grain per day can reduce the risk of heart disease. Oatmeal, flaxseed, brown rice and couscous are just a few examples you can choose from. White bread, cookies, cakes, candy and sugary drinks are all refined carbohydrates and are doing a lot more damage than you know. Our bodies aren’t meant to process these, yet ninety-five percent of the carbs Americans consume are refined. No wonder we have all these health issues! Do yourself a favor and cook the last of that white pasta (I don’t believe in wasting food) and vow to buy whole wheat pasta forever. While you’re at it, replace your processed peaches and cream oatmeal packages with some whole rolled oats and a fresh peach. Its just the right thing to do. Lol. Now, on to the recipe!

Ingredients:
1 red pepper sliced
¼ yellow onion diced
2 cups broccoli chopped
½ habanero pepper minced (really hot)
1 ½ cup alfredo sauce (your choice)
1-2 chicken cutlets, season with seasoning salt, pepper, paprika, sage, thyme, dried chili peppers
2 cups whole wheat penne pasta
1 cup low fat shredded cheddar cheese
½ package of McCormick’s buffalo chicken seasoning
1 egg
Olive oil

Directions:
1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees
2. Boil your noodles, drain and set aside
3. Begin sautéing your chicken cutlets in olive oil over medium heat

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4. While your chicken is cooking, lightly sauté your vegetables (don’t overcook them because they’ll cook in the oven plus you want them to keep their color)

Veggies_junkfit5. Remove your chicken from the pan and shred
6. Over low heat, mix your alfredo sauce, cheese, buffalo chicken seasoning and egg
7. In a large mixing bowl, combine your noodles, chicken, veggies and sauce
8. Place mixture into an oiled casserole dish (I used a 9 x 9 about 2 ½ inches deep) and sprinkle extra cheddar cheese on top
9. Cook uncovered for 15 minutes or until it’s top layer is golden
10. Remove and cool for 5-10 minutes
11. Enjoy

Buffalo_Chicken_Whole Wheat_Pasta_Bake_JUNKFITTry this recipe if you enjoy spicy foods. Between the habanero pepper and the chili peppers, your mouth with be tingling. You can add or subtract any of the veggies I used.

xo,

Jazz

Summer Readiness Training: I Modified My JUNKFIT Judy Routine [Booty Workout]

So ya’ll remember Big Booty Judy from ATL, right? Ok, so that’s where I got the name JUNKFIT Judy from. Silly, I know but I am desperately trying to get my booty together before my 30th birthday. I know I’m not the only one who wants a little more defined ass and thigh for summer 2015. Today I took the advice of a coworker and modified a few things in my leg and booty exercises.

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1. I began adding 10lbs to my back extension. I never wanted to add weight to this exercise because I didn’t want to bulk up my back. It wasn’t until I realized that while weight might add more resistance to my back, it would also add resistance to my booty and hamstrings, thus building those muscles up as well. To do this, you have to be mindful of where you pull from. Remember, you should always pull with your glutes and hamstrings on the back extension machine. (3 x 20)
2. I modified my tired ass walking lunges. I think I may have lunged to the moon and back by now and as silly as it sounds, I was sitting there wondering why it’s been so hard to see gains in my legs. I’ve been doing what I’m comfortable with and not stepping outside of my zone. Today I added scissor lunges to my routine. I was shocked at how on point my balance was. (3 x 20)
3. I adjusted my tempo on the leg extension. I was originally extending and holding for just a 1 count but I’ve found that I get a better burn if I hold the extension for 2. (3 x 10)

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How do you guys modify your exercises to keep your bodies challenged or to keep seeing results? Let’s share our journeys.

xo,

-Jazz