4 Dynamic Stretches For An Effective Warmup

Stretching is one of the most underrated things you can do for your health. It’s kinda like the broccoli on your plate…everybody knows its good for them, but for some reason we all want to skip it. I can’t tell you how many times I see people hop on the treadmill without so much as a toe-touch. I cringe and wish them luck in my head. But seriously how friggin’ good does it feel to take a deep breath, stretch your arms above your head and just feel your body come alive?! Ahhhhh.

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It’s time to embrace the stretch! Stretching is essential to get blood flowing to your muscles and help your body prep for movement (or just your day). Before a workout its important to practice dynamic stretching, which means your body is moving throughout the stretch as opposed to static stretching, where you hold a stretch without moving.

Dynamic stretching is key for anyone prepping to do any sort of sport that requires intense movement, ie. running, dancing, basketball, shopping (just kidding…but am I?). By making small movements in the stretch you can better prepare your muscles for what you’re about to do….whether it’s a burpee or a reach for a tank top on a high shelf. Dynamic stretching increases your core body temperature, increases range of motion around joints and decreases chance of injury. Basically it’s awesome and you should try it.

So today I’m sharing with you my favorite dynamic stretches! I incorporate these into my dance warm-ups and into my own pre-run routine (and hope the non-stretcher on the treadmill next to me notices).

4 Dynamic Stretches For An Effective Warmup

1. Toe-touch toe lift

Face right leg and bend to touch toes, placing hands on either side of foot. Lift right toe up and down 8x. Repeat left.

2. Flex heeled bend

Face right leg again and bend to touch toes, placing hands on either side of foot. Bend left leg and lengthen body over right leg. Repeat bend 8x. Move to left side a repeat.

3. Knee dip lunge

Move into lunge on right side and dip knee to floor 8x. Repeat on left side.

4. Toe touch heel lift

Bend over right leg and lift left leg, bending at knee. Lift right heel 8x. Repeat on left side.

These stretches are super simple, but can be modified for any flexibility level.

Having trouble touching your toes? Put a chair in front of you to hold onto.

Can’t go down all the way into the lunge? Put your hands on your knee or hold onto a wall.

Basically these stretches are built to help your muscles slowly work into your range of motion and gradually warm up so you’re ready for greater things. Like running a few miles or shopping till you drop 🙂

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5 Things I Learned On My First Cruise

Phew! My life is becoming increasingly busy these days with dance ramping up for the end of the season, work getting crazier than ever and keeping up with blogging and my personal life. That’s why I am SO glad the hubbs and I were able to get away for a few days last week to recharge, unplug and just have fun!

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Back in February, on a cold, blustery, miserable day, we booked a 4-night cruise to the Bahamas, as a way to escape New England winter and just reset for a few days. It was our beacon of light at the end of a very dark, cold tunnel. In October we took our honeymoon in Hawaii, which you can read about here, so our main goal for this trip was for it to be cheap (cause really who can afford two vacations in one year??). Well if you haven’t heard, cruises are pretty affordable these days. Honestly I have always been very skeptical about cruising and have even been known to swear it off all-together, which probably sounded something like this; “I will never go on a cruise, it’s too claustrophobic! People get sick! TITANIC!!!”. Well, I have to admit that I was wrong. Cruises are kind of awesome and here’s why:

1. The boat is your giant playground.

In other words, I was never claustrophobic at all. The whole boat is yours to explore and take advantage of from the mini golf on the top deck, to the casino in the middle and hidden spots to hang out all over the place. Plus the ship stops on beautiful islands that you can get out on and find your adventure on land. We did have a window in our room, which probably helped, but our living space was fine, in fact I’ve been in smaller hotel rooms in Brooklyn! Cross claustrophobia off your worry list now.

IMG_08652. You will be forced to totally check out…and it’s amazing!

You will have zero service at sea to check Insta, Snapchat your day or do any of the other annoying things society thinks we should do to prove we’re having fun. You CAN purchase a plan to get access to social media, but honestly I think that’s stupid. This is your vacation, enjoy the moment, take photos and show people when you get home.

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3. There’s always something to do…which can be overwhelming at times.

We learned this the hard way. Every night they slip a schedule of events for the next day under your door. We tried to hit all the fun, but eventually sun and exhaustion took us down. Naps are highly encouraged between the hours of 4 and 5pm. Then you rally and continue your day with dinner, drinks, shows, dancing, hot tub….etc.

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4. Exercise is built in!

No need to hit the gym, just take the stairs. I think we both left with extremely toned glutes from the dozens of stairs we climbed every day. It was a great way to burn off the lava cake! I did actually hit the treadmill, which was hilarious because the boat sways you back and forth, which made for quite a challenging run!

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(This is the view from my treadmill. Not bad, right?)

5. The food is what dreams are made of.

Quinoa stuffed tomatoe with croquettes in a cream sauce. Molten lava cake. Oysters Rockefeller. Deconstructed ham sandwich appetizer. 24 hour pizza and ice cream. Need I say more? I had heard mixed reviews about Carnival food, but I have to say I was incredibly impressed every night with the creativity and quality of the food.

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So would I cruise again? Absolutely! I think there’s a time and place for boots on ground, map in hand adventure; exploring waterfalls and finding the hidden taqueria, but there’s always something to be said for sitting back, drink in hand, watching the land and sea pass by and letting someone else bring the entertainment to you.

What’s your favorite way to vacation? Land or sea?

Blueberry Walnut Baked Oatmeal

Happy Hump-day! Woowee. The last 24 hours have been quite a doosey. We had a major blizzard here with heavy snow, crazy winds and we even lost power for quite a while :(. Not fun at all. But do you know what is fun? Baking!

Especially when it’s with a friend. Today I have a special guest star on the blog who is sharing with us her recipe for Blueberry Walnut Baked Oatmeal!

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Meet Erin. I promise, she’s not as crazy as this picture makes her seem. But she is sharing a crazy good recipe that is her go-to for a quick and easy breakfast. Erin works as a Spanish teacher so her mornings are early, busy and require a no-fuss breakfast. Anyone else in the same boat? So on Sundays Erin bakes up a big batch of this oatmeal and is ready to go with a delicious, hearty breakfast all week long.

This recipe is full of healthy ingredients that will keep you full for hours, like hearty old-fashioned oats, walnuts, peanut butter and banana. It is whole grain, contains no refined sugar and can easily be made gluten free by using gluten-free oats. Maple syrup and banana offer all the sweetness you need, but we added an extra peanut butter drizzle on top for a special treat.

Erin says that some weeks when she’s feeling a little naughty she’ll throw in some chocolate chips instead of blueberries. Feel free to switch up the mix-ins as you please! You could do diced apples and pecans, cranberries and walnuts or banana chunks and peanut butter chips.

Blueberry Walnut Baked Oatmeal

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 medium bananas, 1 mashed with fork and 1 sliced
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup blueberries

Peanut Butter Drizzle:

  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp peanut butter

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In medium bowl combine oats, cinnamon, baking powder and salt and mix to combine. Mash one of the bananas with a fork and add to oats mixture. Add in egg, milk, vanilla, maple syrup and peanut butter and mix to thoroughly combine. Mix in walnuts and blueberries and pour into 9×9 baking dish. Bake for 26-28 minutes. Remove from oven and top with sliced bananas. To prepare drizzle, mix together maple syrup and peanut butter with a fork in a measure cup. Slowly drizzle over baked oatmeal. Enjoy!

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Who doesn’t want to wake up to this?! When you’re ready for breakfast I suggest microwaving a piece and topping with your favorite nut butter, drizzling with maple syrup or you could serve it cold with some vanilla yogurt on top. Heck, with a dollop of cookie butter this could even be a desert! Mmm…cookie butter…

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Everyone owes Erin a big thank you for bringing this delicious recipe into our lives. And I owe Erin a big thank you for helping me make it! She comes in handy quite a bit…anyone recognize her from this post? She was one of my beautiful bridesmaids!

Well I hope the next half of the week is better than the first half. Excuse me while I go hug a lamp…electricity is awesome!