Tag Archives: Ball Exercises

5 Minute Workout: Standing Abs

I love Mondays! A new week. A new to-do list that needs checking off. A new set of expectations to meet. But with packing up boxes, selling off belongings, cleaning and recleaning furniture and all the other fun that comes with a big move, all the days have seem to mush together lately. Not Monday though. Monday you get to start fresh. I usually get more done on Mondays than any other day because I’m so motivated! 

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I love lists. I love checking things off that list. I love completing a list. And, I love making the next list!

Here were Monday’s items of importance:
Book store
Baby blog post
5 minute workout
Ab Ripper workout
Enchilada prep
Little bug: swim
Skype mom and dad
I had the car which doesn’t happen on Mondays so took advantage of my 18 euros in store credit and snagged these treasures!

I’m very pleased to have my own copy of Twilight but even more excited to have more books to add to little bugs “Big Girl” collection!

After my PX90 Ab Ripper workout (via YouTube), I decided that I needed some loosening up. I had a GREAT 7.5 miler on Sunday -9:15 per mile- which is a bad-ass fast for me but it’s left my back feeling less that great so I turned to my Standing Abs 5 minute workout to help!

I do this 1-2 times a week. It’s great for when I don’t feel like getting dirty on the ground and doing while baby is playing. If you are heavily pregnant, eliminate the ball.

This doesn’t look like much, but the next day, you should feel this!


Move from one exercise to the next without rest.
1. Side bends with the ball (10-15 per side)
2. Standing rotations with the ball (15 per side)
3. Single-leg standing side crunch (15-20 per side)
4. Repeat 1-3 again to reach 5 minutes

1. Side bends with the ball (10-15 per side)

  • keep knees and elbow soft
  • inhale when bending, exhale and use those abs when coming back up
  • make sure you aren’t moving your arms, use only your abs to do the work

2. Standing rotations with the ball (15 per side)

  • knees and elbows soft again
  • concentrate in the twisting using just your abs and avoid going to fast
  • pause in the center before twisting to the other side

3. Single-leg standing side crunch (15-20 per side)

  • balance on one leg
  • squeeze as you bring your elbow and knee together
  • switch sides

Modification if you don’t want to balance

 4. Repeat 1-3 for 5 minutes!

I hope you like this one! It’s easy yet you’re getting a nice little ab work in. Did you notice my little workout buddy in there? 🙂

And guess who was back doing The 100 Pushups Challenge ?
Yay, hubby! I think he’s getting nervous about meeting the rest of my family and  friends! I mean, come on, who doesn’t want to look and feel their best when meeting their wife’s fam/friends?

There’s nothing like unwinding for the day with a bit of pool time!

The day ended with some gooey, slightly spicy, perfect enchiladas by your’s truly! I heart Mexican/American food!

What’s your favorite food style?

Used books or new books, what’s your pref?

What’s your favorite summer activity?

Have a great Tuesday!



Filed under 5 minute workouts, Ab Workouts

Confessions of a Cookie Addict

Confession numero uno: Five cookies worth of dough and four freshly baked cookies yesterday has me making today dubbed Training Tuesday! Damn that Nestle Tollhouse cookie recipe, you are EVIL and should be destroyed!!!

Ok, not really. Did I ever mention my weakness for cookies? Forget sweets, candy, chips (crisps), cakes and even most chocolate…the cookie…let me be more specific…the American-style cookies are my true food weakness. One bite, one spoonful of dough and it’s a done deal. I will be dipping in and out of sugar rushes all day long always wanting another cookie fix, I’ll be searching high and low for something equally as good, I’ll promise myself over and over “only one more.” Does this sound familiar to anyone? Anyone?

I did pretty good to only have 4 fresh ones though, so that’s something right? So when the sun peaked it’s little head through my curtains at 6:30am (that’s like 4am for me), it was shoes on, water in hand, tunes in ears and up the mountain for today’s 3 mile run in preparation for the Run Crazy Horse marathon.
I almost made it all the way up before needing a walk break. I was so tired and I’m amazed and so proud I almost ran up, up, up that crazy mt! Yay me! I was in slow-mo though and all I could think about was on Friends when Chandler and Joey would watch Baywatch! Once in town it was an easy 2 kilometers of flatness before returning downhill.

I wasn’t satisfied though.

Did I mention I ate five cookies worth of dough and four freshly baked cookies? That run would not suffice! It’s Push-ups time!

Confession numero dos: Hubby and I haven’t been doing the pushup challenge for about 9 days now! Slap me in the face, I know! How could I commit to a fitness challenge and NOT carry through with it? Who does such a thing?

HAVE NO FEAR, an excuse is HERE! When hubby went to Madrid for his US paperwork medical exam, he was on the bad end of a needle and came home with 2 shots, one of them being a tetanus shot. A sore-armed hubby, then Paris, and now a sunburned hubby…it’s been put on the back-burner till further notice. I’ve done the pushups on my own a few times but I prefer a cheering section! But, I am going to maintain my pushups until we start up again. Today I did 5 sets (keeping with the 100 pushup challenge style): 20, 20, 21, 22, 25. That’s pretty swell in my book! During the 1 minute rests I combined running my little “field,” doing jumping jacks and standing side crunches for a little mini-obstacle course. And I did have one very loud and needy cheerleader!

Confession numero tres: Little bug and I have not done our Mommy & Baby workouts for about 2 weeks. What kind of a fitness role model am I 😉 Feeling a little better about the whole cookie incident but not completely satisfied, I incorporated Mommy & Baby move (Ball Bridge) into a 5 Minute Ab Workout! Here’s what it looked like on paper/screen.

1. Ball bridge with Baby and added press ups: 20 each
2. Ball crunches: 25
3. Ball planks: hold for 10-15 seconds
4. Ball knee tucks: 10
Repeated a few times until I was needed

I do not encourage self-pics during a baby ball bridge!

I do encourage recycled objects like yogurt containers, empty water bottles and big rocks (as long as they know to keep them out of their mouths) as outdoor toys for distraction during other exercises! P.S. she prefers this over most her other toys! Eat that Fisher Price 🙂 (I still love you though, don’t worry)

Nap time for babes and a shower for momma and I finally felt alright about the unmentionable item consumed in large quantities yesterday.

On the positive side, I’m still taking in lots of decaf teas and freshly squeezed juices!
That one is kiwi and strawberry! Little bug also takes a bit mixed in with her formula. She’s hates formula out of her sippy cup. Who could blame her though, that stuff smells vile…but mixed with a few strawberries and it’s chug, chug, chug for her!

Here’s my week of running (Marathon training Week 3):

Hopefully I can keep my hands out of the cookie jar and cookie mixing bowl for that matter!

I hope all you mommy’s had a great Mother’s Day! I know I did 🙂

Here’s something to make you smile:

I feel I can relate any story to Friends, Sex and the City or Seinfeld!

Coming Tomorrow: The American Runner in Paris (part duex)…it involves food!!!!!


Filed under 5 minute workouts, Ab Workouts, Mommy & Baby Moves, Runners Nook, Travel Nook, Upper Body Workouts

Obstacle Course DIY

Get your cardio and resistance training in one go by making your own little obstacle course. Most people call them circuits…but don’t you think obstacle course sounds a lot more fun! I feel like a kid again saying Obstacle Course! Since becoming “Mom,” (or MAM when my hubby imitates my American accent) this is one of my new favorite ways to get in a bunch of exercises and muscle groups at once. You can do this on your own or pop the little one in a bouncer/walker/mat full of toys while she/he watches.

Here’s Obstacle Course DIY

The first ingredient is a space. Indoor or outdoor as long as you have enough room to move and create little stations. This is my usual space.
The length here is enough to complete 12 walking lunges. I call this my “field.” For an indoor space, a hallway would work pretty well here.

This square space is like a blank canvas for a fitness nerd like myself! I can jump rope here and use this area to house an exercise ball!

No this is no ordinary bench…see how is screams for me to do step-ups, dips and pushups on it!

And this railing…ahh…a perfect little haven to wrap a resistance band around for upper body work or yet another place to do pushups!

Which brings me to the next ingredients: equipment. I use a jump rope, exercise ball and resistance band. An exercise mat is good to have as well.

Don’t the pictures add to the excitement of making your own obstacle course! You could also add free weights, bosu, thigh master, vibrating ab belt…ok, maybe not the last two 🙂

You really don’t need to have anything though since you can get a good 10 exercises out of the bench area. Seriously, 10 exercises…off the top of my head: dips, pushups, pushups with feet elevated, steps ups, box jumps, calf raises, lunges with back leg elevated, planks with feet elevated, side planks, planks with leg raises…and that’s just getting started, you get the point.

Now, simply mix cardio elements with resistance elements in any order. I like to have enough exercises to keep me busy for 5 minutes and then hopefully I have enough time to get 3 sets in! Here’s what I did last week.

1. Sprint the field and do 5 jump tucks at the end
2. Sprint back and complete 10 jumping jacks
3. Move over to the railing (which has the resistance band wrapped around) and do 20 back rows
4. Jump rope for 50 jumps
5. 40 stepups
6. Shuffle drill back and forth in box area for 12 lengths
7. 15-20 Dips
8. Walking lunges the length and back of the field
9. Ball knee tucks: 10 reps
10. Sprint the field up and back
11. Sprint the field backwards up and back
12. 30 side kicks: 15 per side
13. Lather, rinse, repeat if possible

And booo-yaaa (does anyone say that anymore, it felt like the appropriate moment for a boo-yaaa) a simple workout that you can  create on the fly and can change-up easily every time!

And sometimes she likes to join in!


Filed under 5 minute workouts, Ab Workouts, Leg Workout, Mommy & Baby Moves, Upper Body Workouts

Pregnancy Workout (part 2)

Continuing from last week’s Pregnancy Workout (part 1) I talked about the numerous planks I incorporated. I think I was understating that statement. I forgot how much I really was obsessed with doing any and every form my body could handle. (Again, please see part 1 for “disclaimer central” on preggie exercises)

Kristen’s Pregnancy Workout (part 2): 2-3 sets of each exercise

1. Ball Planks – hold for 5-10 seconds
2.Plank with leg lift – 20 reps (10 per side)
3. Side Plank with twist – 10 reps (5 per side)
4. Side Lunges – 20-30 reps (10-15 per side)


I love this because it looks quite easy, but don’t get too excited yet! Doing a simple plank on the ball is a great challenge for the core and balance. You can also pair with Ball Pushups if you feel comfortable. If the belly isn’t appreciating this move, skip the ball and just do a regular plank! Belly Knows Best is what I say!


The inner fitness nerd is out again! I love the balance, strength, stretch combo this exercise brings. If you can’t see it well enough, it’s simply getting into a plank, then bring one knee into your chest and finally, extend out and hold for a few seconds. Then go back 2.b and continue back to 2.c!


If you’ve ever done a Pilates DVD or class, you will probably recognize this one! For a simpler variation, bend the bottom leg in and balance on the bent leg.

I featured this in a 5 minute workout a few weeks ago. When belly takes over, eliminate the reach.

The moves in these 2 workouts are pretty much at the top of my Fitness Pregnancy Hall of Fame!

I tried to “move” everyday even if it meant a short walk but I was very lucky in that I ran 3-5 times a week throughout. If you are running after the second trimester, I highly recommend running at a gym or somewhere with a close bathroom because let me tell you that in even a short run, I used the bathroom every 5-10 minutes. Good times!

Holding plie’ squats or getting into a deep plie’ squat and holding it for up to 10 seconds is great for “the baby having area.” Anything for the inner thigh muscles basically. I did take a pic of this but didn’t feel particularly comfortable showcasing that gem on here! Stretching in general is very important for childbirth because you never know what crazy position the doctor will have you in or what positions will make contractions more comfortable.

Pregnant or not, all of these exercises rock in my book! They’re challenging yet safe if your body is in the right shape. If you are pregnant or have had a baby, are there any exercises you swear by?

Let me know if there is anything else you’re curious about that I did during pregnancy or if you have questions about working out while expecting!

Almost 8 months hiking the steep hills in Rhonda in sweltering heat.

It was our “baby moon”


Filed under Ab Workouts, Pregnacy

Pregnancy Workout (part 1)

I’ve gained too much.
I’ve gained too little.
I ate too much.
I ate too little.
SHOULD I eat that vs. CAN I eat that vs. I NEED to eat that.

It seems that for the 9+ months of pregnancy, women go mad – myself included – for anything nutrition or fitness related. You hear conflicting “advice” everywhere from your grandmother to the internet to the random checkout lady you’ve never met. Today I’m adding to that “advice.” Take this post as you like. I’m simply sharing some of the exercises that worked for me during pregnancy (and after as well).

This entire post is one GIANT ENORMOUS disclaimer. Don’t be an idot and do these exercises if you feel pain or don’t feel right doing them. Not every pregnant person is the same. Ok! Got it!

I kept my exercises very basic concentrating on the “classics” as I like to call them, adding in tons of planks and religiously performing my favorite moves. It’s hard enough to motivate oneself each day to workout during pregnancy, I figured it’s best to do ones that I enjoyed doing! I also incorporated pregnancy yoga and many pilates moves that required lying on my side.

Kristen’s Pregnancy Workout (part 1): 2-3 sets of each exercise
1. Ball Pushups – as many as I could
2. Alternating Walking Lunges – 40 reps (20 per side)
3. Opposite Arm/Leg Raises –  20 reps (10 per side)
4. Side Plank (with opptional leg lift) – 20 reps (10 per side)


I started out using a ball and once the belly took over, then I did them on my knees. It’s especially important to keep your stomach in tight. Be very careful when getting into position as your balance may not be as good during pregnancy.


This is one of my all-time fav leg exercises! I have no idea why but it’s great. Once your belly grows, make sure to really keep those shoulders pulled back which will help your posture. Forgive the form in 2.a isn’t quite right (knee is too far forward).


I’m not going to lie, I hate doing lower back exercises with a passion but at the end of the day, you gotta do them! Nothing is worse than nagging lower back pain…especially when the pounds start to add up. Start on all fours, raise the right arm to shoulder height and the left leg to hip height. Hold for 2 counts. Go back to start position and repeat with the other side.

SIDE PLANK with opptional leg lift

I started doing this exercise long before pregnancy so I just continued doing it throughout. It’s a toughie! If you really want a challenge, hold the leg up for a few seconds! HUGE disclaimer on this exercise! Please do not do this if you are not already in “plank shape.”

For those who are NOT expecting a baby, this is a great way to really make a side plank more challenging. I was so excited when I was able to start doing this again. This falls into that “fun” exercise move category for me! Man I sound like a little fitness nerd!

Ok folks, that’s all for now. See, I really didn’t do anything magical or special during pregnancy; my “magic pill” was consistency! I’ll share a few more pregnancy exercises next week.

RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER: Travel Nook – Am I ready to leave Spain?

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Filed under Ab Workouts, Leg Workout, Pregnacy, Upper Body Workouts

5 Minute Workout: Abs (lower emphasis)

Abs, short for abdominals, right? I like my description better: ABS= Absolutely Beautiful Stomach or how about ABS= Alcohol and Beer Stomach! I wonder how many new gadgets, magic pills, extreme diets and questionable lotions have been gracing our infomercial time-slots promising that THIS…yes, THIS. IS. THE. ANSWER. TO. YOUR. FLAT. STOMACH. I can hear that deep voice-over guy now, “Say goodbye to your gym membership, eating those green vegetables and endless crunches on the ball.” (Make sure when you read that, you are doing the voice as well, there’s a much better effect!) This is actually a.k.a for, “Say goodbye to your money you stupid moron, I’m taking it in 3 easy payments of $19.99.” (Again, deep voice is good here!) Goodness, I have watched too many infomercials in my day.

Okay enough stalling, so if you are reading this, I hope that by now you’ve learned that if you really, REALLY want a nice tummy, then you have to eat very well and keep up that cardio routine in order to keep that pesky fat off your tummy in the first place. It’ll then be the ab exercises that tone and sculpt the appearance of it!

Today’s 5 minute workout targets all the abdominal muscles but there’s a bit more concentration on the lower region. I use an exercise ball in two of the moves shown but you can perform these without one. When I completed these 5 minutes, I was very glad and so were my abs!


1. Crab crawl – 30 seconds
2. Mountain climbers – 25 per leg
3. Reverse ball curls – 20-30
4. Ball exchange – 10
5. Repeat 1-4 until 5 minutes are up (no resting between exercises)

This is named exactly how you perform it: you crawl on all fours like a crab. If you can find a long enough space where you “crawl” for 15 seconds and then crawl back, that usually works best. Keep your abs tight throughout the entire exercise to avoid lower back injury. This feels funny but it’s great for the arms, core and getting that heart rate up!

Get into the plank position, bring one knee to your chest, now switch and bring the other knee to your chest. This is simply running in place in the plank position. Once you are comfortable with the form experiment with different speeds. This is another great one for the entire core as well as the arms and heart.

Again, this can be done without the ball. The ball just makes it harder. I like to keep my shoulders and head off the ground, but if that doesn’t work for you, keep your neck and shoulders down. The ball can either be placed like I have it or you can squeeze your legs around it. After 3b, bring the ball back down but do not let the ball touch the ground. I love holding the 3b position for a few seconds and really squeezing the abs and before slowly coming back down!

No, you’re not seeing double or triple…that’s 10 photos! The breakdown is that you exchange the ball from legs to arms. It’s important to keep that core extrememly tight and lower back glued down! Only go as far down as your body lets you or until your form goes off.

After this exercises go back into the crab crawl and repeat all four exercises! I can’t guarentee instant results or a money back guarentee but this is a nice challenge for the abs with a few moves that think outside the box!

COMING SOON: Mommy & Baby Moves: The Basics

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Filed under 5 minute workouts, Ab Workouts

Move of the Moment: Ball Knee Tucks

Every workout over the past 2 weeks I’ve done this exercise: Ball Knee Tucks
I love it because years ago I couldn’t do it.
I love it because I had to work at it over and over.
I love it because it works more than just your abs.
I love it because it WORKS.
I love it because they’re hard.
I love it because they’re NOT crunches!
I love it because I don’t have to do many to REALLY feel it burn.
I simply love my ball knee tucks!

This is more of an advanced exercise but don’t let that put you off from trying it! If you have the option, practice in front of a mirror to get the form just right.

Targeted areas: balance, stability, core, shoulders

Start in the pushup position with the ball under your ankles. For an easier option, have the ball higher on your shins

Bend the knees, bringing them into your chest and squeeze those fab abs. Roll out and repeat!

I do this until I have to fetch some grass out of little bugs mouth; if she’s doing well, then I aim for 15 reps!

P.S. funny moment was when we were taking these photographs I had to switch location because some nasty biting ants were attacking my arms! Ewww….and OUCH!

IN THE MAKING: A look-back on Thirsty Thursday…and it’s not what you think!


Filed under Ab Workouts, Move of the Moment

Mommy & Baby Moves: Ball bridge

I started doing exercises with my daughter when she could support her head, for every baby this is different.  This was the first exercise I ever did with her and she still giggles with delight every time we do it. The giggles are my motivation so I pretty much do this until my butt is numb!

This works your stabilizing muscles, bum and hamstrings.

Every time you come back into the starting position, remember to squeeze your bum and hold for a few seconds.

For me, working out with baby means that all of my attention is centered on her. My form may not be perfect in order to guarantee little bug’s safety.

**Please don’t try this until your baby can support his/her own head.

Here is a variation of this Mommy Baby Move

This is a good time to get in extra kisses! Hopefully babies get the same endorphins that we do when working out!

NEXT BLOG: Smoothies Made Easy


Filed under Mommy & Baby Moves