The 12 moves of Christmas: Part 2

I’m back!! And so ready to bring you 6 more of my favourite moves to get you in shape and feeling fabulous over Christmas time! Last time we went through my favourite legs/bums and upper body moves and this time we’re talking about abs and cardio. Cardio has got a pretty bad rep lately in my opinion, where we’ve realised that weight training can be really beneficial I feel like cardio has completely dropped off the radar but it still has it’s uses and I think we should be keeping it in our gym plans. I intend to show you how to make it that little more fun and interesting, and how to create a simple but effective workout from the moves i’m going to show you.

Abs

Now we’ve all heard the old saying ‘abs are made in the kitchen’ – which is very true to an extent but I would argue you still need to be working them to build a strong core and create definition in your muscles. So here are my 3 favourite moves:

X’s and O’s

Start lying on your back with your legs and arms wide in an ‘X’ shape, then to prepare for the move, lift your legs, arms and shoulders off the ground by about 6 inches. You should start to feel some contraction in your abs at this point. To create the O shape, lift up to a seated position and hug your legs into your chest, keeping your feet off the floor so that you balance on your sit bones then return to the X position, keeping arms and legs slightly raised. To make this harder, when you raise up, don’t touch your knees with your arms, simply use your abs to lift your body into a tight V sit position and hold it at the top of the move. This move is great to perform slowly to really feel the burn and i’d recommend 3 sets of about 8-10 then more as you get more advanced!

Bent leg jackknife

For this you’ll want some kind of dumbbell or kettlebell, i’d say s0mewhere between 5 and 10kg. This adds some great resistance and is easily one of my favourites as you can really feel it working! Lie on your back with arms and legs out stretched, legs and arms a foot off the floor, holding the weight in your hands. Bring your knees in towards your chest whilst also bringing your hands to meet your knees (which should mean your top half lifts off the floor slightly). Hold for a second then return to the outstretched position, without returning your hands or feet to the floor. Perform 10 repetitions for 3 sets and add more repetitions or weight as you gain strength.

 

Plank Variation

This is a really simple idea but I honestly think its one of the most effective! You can just do a standard forearm planking making sure your bum is in line with the rest of your body and keeping your neck straight, or you can mix it up with leg lifts, arm reaches, twisting your hips from side to side, coming up to standing plank then back down again. So many different ways to advance the move and it really hits your entire core! It’s also a great exercise to track progression so you can start at a minute and see how long you can hold it for!

Cardio

As I said before, cardio has got a bad rep but it is great for fitness levels, metabolism and also has a whole host of added non physical benefits as I definitely find it is a stress reliever! So my favourite moves are:

Tuck jump burpees

The ultimate for getting that heart rate super high! These are also great for HIIT training which I’m sure you’ll have heard me raving about lots, the key thing is protecting your knees when you come down from the jump so make sure you land softly with a bent knee. To burpee, bend over and place your hands on the floor just in front of you, then jump your feet back into push up position, jump back and stand up straight into a jump bringing your knees up towards your chest. This is brutal and best done in a HIIT format of 40 seconds on, 20 seconds off (or another split depending on fitness levels) as part of a circuit.

High knee jugglers

This one is a little challenging for the co-ordination at first but once you get into the swing of it you’ll be fine. Think of the move as being split into four:

  1. High knee with your right leg, tap your thigh with your left hand
  2. High knee with your left leg, tap your thigh with your right hand
  3. High knee with your right leg and tap the inside of your ankle with your left hand
  4. High knee with your left leg and tap the inside your ankle with your right hand

Once sped up, this is just like standard high knees with a little extra twist to help work your abs. If you struggle with the added complication then just do high knees, making sure you keep your back straight and lift your knees in line with your hips! Add this into your circuit with the burpees above.

Explosive star jumps

These are so intense but so good for getting the heart rate up! Start touching your knees with knees slightly bent then jump up, arms and legs out into a star shape and land back in your starting position. If you find it too challenging then you can go to standard jumping jacks but the explosive version is a great cardio exercise where you’ll get maximum benefit in very little time!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my 12 moves of christmas – what are your favourite moves? Let me know on twitter or instagram!

J x

Guest Recipe: Mint Chocolate Truffles

Today i’m bringing you a guest post courtesy of my favourite twin @_hannaheats – as you probably know, her recipes all look incredible so you lucky people are getting the full recipe for these delicious Mint Chocolate truffles. These are perfect for stashing in the fridge for a quick snack or high protein breakfast treat OR even better as a christmas treat to share with the whole family – they’ll love them, I promise!

Ingredients:

  • 1 scoop of JST Jodie Mint Chocolate Whey Protein,
  • 1 avocado,
  • 2 tablespoons of cacao powder,
  • 1 tablespoon of Jim-Jams Hazelnut spread,
  • 50g of melted One Love Cocoa chocolate.

Method:

  1. Blend all of the ingredients together,
  2. Leave to set in the fridge for 1 hours,
  3. Take out and role in to teaspoon size balls,
  4. Role in cacao powder and pop in to the fridge,
  5. Enjoy!

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As always tag myself and Hannah if you create these!

Hannah is a Blogger, Trainee Teacher, Taste-maker and Fitness enthusiast. You can see more of Hannah’s amazing recipes on her blog , Instagram and twitter.

J x

How to stay sane whilst revising

As you may know, I am about to take some pretty tricky exams and I will be the first to admit I don’t always deal well with the stress. I find it really hard to switch off so my sleep is always affected, I tend to be pretty mean to my family and boyfriend (sorry!) and generally get a bit down in the dumps but I am so much better now than I always used to be. Part of this however is because I really want to do well so I try and work my absolute hardest, which is no bad thing however I have recently found some strategies to manage the process and make it as pain free as possible.

  1. The main thing to remember is it is only ever temporary, revision periods will come and go and the exams will be over eventually so there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. So whether it’s planning something fun for when it’s over or just taking 10 minutes each day to daydream about the good times you have when you’re not stuck in the books, just do something to constantly remind yourself that it will be over soon!

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    Daydream of being back on holiday in the sun…
  2. Get out and sweat – as tempting as it can be to think that if you sit in front of your books long enough that you’re being productive, realistically we all need a break and there is nothing better than a good old sweat. Even if you can only spare half an hour there is so much you can get done and letting out your frustration will really help. I also think just taking yourself out of your study environment works wonders, if I can see my books or classmates I really stress as it’s a constant reminder so removing myself from that environment really helps.

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    Make sure your face is this colour by the end too!
  3. It may not be surprising to hear that when I’m revising I try to Eat Well, and although that is the general premise of this blog I do think it’s particularly important around exam and revision time. Your body is like a car which needs good fuel, if you put rubbish fuel in then it won’t perform to its best, check out both of my 10 minute revision dinner posts for plenty of ideas that you can make in super quick time and will fuel you right!Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 14.06.47
  4. I know you’ve heard it all before but one thing which is so underrated is remembering to breathe. I’ve never been much into yoga but when I went on a yoga retreat recently (you can read about my time here!) I realised how even the simplest of breathing techniques can really calm you down and make you feel refreshed. Literally 5 minutes sitting still in silence focusing on slowing down your breath and I promise you’ll feel great, as cliché as it sounds, just trust me!

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    Just take 5 to slow down and think ‘happy place’!

How do you take time to relax and stay sane? Let me know on Instagram or Twitter!

J x

Twice Baked Banana Bread Bites

This recipe totally came out of the blue but I’m so glad I decided to experiment a little… I basically had a few overripe bananas in the cupboard which needed to go and my made up banana bread recipe was yummy but didn’t quite fill the loaf tin so looked a little bit sad. It was however really delicious so I decided to just take it that step further.

Another one of my absolute favourite things is a flexbowl, full of ice-cream, yoghurt or mousse and topped with an assortment of goodies – well I think these little bites would be the PERFECT topping on any flexbowl as they’re light but full of flavour and you can adapt them however you’d like!

Ingredients:

  • 2 Ripe Bananas
  • 120g Egg whites
  • 1tsp Baking Powder
  • 120g Ground Almonds
  • 1tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 50g Dark chocolate chunks

Method:

  1. In a processor, combine all ingredients apart from the chocolate until smooth
  2. Add in the chocolate and stir together
  3. (If you have another banana bread recipe to use, feel free to skip straight to step 5!) – Bake in a lined loaf tin for 25 minutes until golden brown on the top and until just cooked through
  4. Leave to cool
  5. Chop into bitesize chunks and spread onto a foil lined baking tray, bake at 180 degrees for 10-15 minutes until the edges have gone slightly crispy and golden
  6. Sprinkle on your flexbowl and enjoy!

Hope you all enjoy this new twist on a classic, tag me if you try it!

J x

Please vote for me!

Your love and support overwhelms me every single day and I am so grateful to anyone who takes the time to read my posts, but I have another little favour to ask! I promise it won’t take up too much of your time and it would mean so much.

I am in the running for the U.K. Blog awards and would love some votes so pretty please follow this link to my page on the site where you will be able to vote using just an email address. Creating content for this blog has become one of my favourite things so getting extra guidance from experts and some recognition for the hard work i’ve put in would be amazing!

votenow-1-trans.pngThank you thank you thank you in advance!

Lots of love always,

Josi x

The 12 moves of Christmas

So Christmas is finally just around the corner! This makes me so happy and whilst most of the Christmas period is about seeing family and friends and eating plenty of food.. it can be so easy to overindulge and end up starting January feeling completely rubbish, so why not balance that out with workouts that will leave you feeling fresh and ready to head into 2017 in style? Below are my 12 absolute favourite moves split into various categories, most of which can be done from home with limited equipment, to keep you feeling fit and strong over the festive period:

Legs and bum

Probably my favourite body part to workout as it makes me feel so strong! Here are my 3 favourites:

Fire Hydrants with leg extension

To complete this exercise, get onto all fours to get a really stable base. Start on your left leg, keeping your knee at a right angle, lift your leg out to the side until it is parallel with the floor (if your body allows, if not just get as far as you can) then straighten the leg out, hold for a second then bend at the knee again and return to the all fours position. As weird as this sounds, it absolutely burns and I love it! I’d recommend keeping this move slow and focus on keeping your hips parallel with the floor, trying not to tilt them to the side as you lift your legs. Aim for 3 sets of 12-20 on each side for a real booty burn.

Goblet pulse squats

By adding the goblet (a weight, usually a kettle bell or a dumbbell held close to your chest) the intensity is raised and you can really feel the squat. I like to do 3 pulses at the bottom between each full squat, keeping the pace slow but ensuring you keep good form throughout. Remember to keep your back straight and chest lifted instead of leaning forward, keep the weight through your heels (you should be able to wiggle your toes) squat so that your knees are directly above your ankles and no further forward than that. Again aim for 3 sets of 12, maybe more or less depending on the weight that you’re using.

Glute bridge with resistance band

Another amazing at home workout companion is the resistance band. You can pick these up super cheap on Amazon and can pack them with you when you go away and can get a really great workout anywhere. So lie flat on your back with your knees bent, the band around the middle of your thighs and feet flat on the floor close to, but not touching, your bum. Squeeze your glute muscles and lift your bum into a bridge position as high as you can, then release back down to the bottom. You can add extra burn to this move by holding a dumbbell on top of your hips when you thrust up, or by pulsing the move at the top. Aim for 3 sets of 12-20 again based on how difficult you want to make it!

Arms

Not my favourite body part to train but you do get some serious satisfaction from the strength it can give you. I for one definitely feel like I’ve got a mismatch in terms of strength between my upper and lower body so arm training is really important to balance this out:

Lay down push up

As i’ve been working through the Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide I’ve been doing a lot of these. It’s simply a normal push up but you go down all the way to lying on the floor then push up back onto your hands. To make this really challenging I try to hold the push up at the bottom of the contraction, keeping your body about a fist distance away from the floor for a couple of seconds before dropping to the floor, this just ensures that you’re not falling down to the floor! Another thing to try is performing the move with your elbows close to your waist to work more into your triceps. This can be really tough so maybe start with less than 12 reps per set for now but increase as you get stronger.

Shoulder Press

This is one of my favourites and you can use either a barbell or a pair of dumbbells to complete this move. The key thing to remember is keeping a good posture, standing up straight (especially being careful not to arch your back), press the weight up from being in line with your shoulders, up to a full extension but being careful not to lock out your elbows. Hold briefly at the top of the move then lower the weight back down so that it is inline with your shoulders. Aim for 3 sets of 8 of these and aim for a reasonably challenging weight to really work on your strength!

Pull up

It feels like all over instagram these days there is a focus on being strong and not just skinny. Whilst I still don’t think we should compare ourselves to others, remember to just do you, and I don’t think we should measure ourselves against our favourite fitspos based on the number of pull ups we can do, having personal goals in this area is great. Instead of stepping on the scale, setting targets in terms of strength is a positive way to keep yourself motivated! I am no expert in this area but to get started it’s best to work assisted with either a machine in your gym or with a thick resistance band looped either into your knees or under your foot to support you as you gain strength. I wouldn’t set a particular level of sets and reps for this as it depends on how you are doing the pull ups and what strength you already have, but just be persistent and see how strong you can get!

What are your favourite leg and arm moves?  Let me know on instagram or twitter.

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J x

 

10 Minute Revision Dinners: Part 2

I’m back with more 10 minute meals this week to try and prove to you that eating well doesn’t need to take a long time and that fast food needn’t be devoid of nutrients and goodness. A couple of weeks ago I showed you how to make Pizza, Prawn Linguine and reminded you of my eggy recipe post, today it’s time for 3 more recipes which will take less than 10 minutes to knock together, hope you enjoy!

  1. Sausage and Mash

This can be achieved in super quick time, trust me! Pop your sausages under the grill at the start and leave them to cook, turning occasionally, as you prep the rest of the meal. Roughly chop a sweet potato and just cover in boiling water. Give this about 5-7 minutes and it should be cooked, so remove the potato from the pan and into a separate bowl to mash. Use the water in that pan to cook off some peas, broad beans, asparagus or any other quick cooking veggies as you roughly mash the potatoes with any spices or seasonings you like.

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  1. Speedy salads

Ok so not really a recipe but I always used to struggle with salads as I felt like they were too bland to be eaten as a dinner, I thought they’d never fill me up! But with a few quick tricks you can create delicious, filling meals in no time at all. My favourite little hack is to use the pouches of grains/rice, these take a couple of minutes in the microwave and add texture and flavour to your dish. To make the salads I layer up greens such as spinach, kale or lettuce as a base, then add in the grains or rice on top and mix together. Next for the protein source, this could be a piece of fish, chicken, turkey or any other meat, or something like chickpeas if you want a meat free source. Next I add veggies, if I have time at the weekends I like to prep lots of roasted veg for the week but if not any fresh or frozen veggies will do – cucumber, tomatoes, red onion, green beans, sweetcorn, broccoli etc etc. For dressings I like to keep it simple with olive oil, white wine vinegar or lemon juice and a little salt and pepper – easy!

  1. Stir fry

The classic speedy recipe – again this is so versatile and you can add or takeaway whatever you happen to have in. It ensures you’re getting a good portion of veggies and can be high carb, low carb, high fat, low fat – whatever you need! Check out my super easy chicken stir fry recipe which uses peanut butter in the sauce, YUM.

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As always tag me on instagram or twitter if you give them a try!

I’ve been nominated for a Motion Nutrition Health and Fitness Influencer award, please vote for me!

J x