Angie's Corner

Posts in the Wellness category

Mother Daughter Aerial Workout

by Angie Miller

 
Me, in my first Aerial Silks class, wondering if I’ll ever be able to get back out of this position.
 
My youngest daughter showing me how it’s done.
  
My oldest daughter making it look easy on her first and only try.
 
Here I am trying to keep up with my oldest daughter. This was my second Aerial Silks class.
 
 
Me, bending and extending like never before.
 
 

My youngest daughter, who shows her dancer skills on this one.

Nothing brings me more pleasure than sharing what I love with those I love, and there are few things I love more than exercise- especially in groups. I’ve lead group fitness classes for nearly 30 years, but sharing that experience with my loved ones, namely my daughters, has always been a challenge. Schedule conflicts, different interests (they were both dancers), and then there’s that little thing we can’t deny - who wants to go workout with mom when it’s another place she’ll tell you what to do? This summer, though, I was determined to find an activity we could all do together, something new and unique. Neutral territory if you will, that would connect us through movement and take us out of our comfort zone. Aerial Silks, also known as Aerial Yoga, was the perfect answer for my former dancers, and for me because I wanted to challenge my body in an activity where I have no prior experience.

Aerial Silks is a blend of yoga and acrobatic type of movements and it has a dance and gymnastics feel, in that strength and flexibility are important. The class uses suspended fabric that you wrap around your body, allowing you to climb, go upside down, suspend in mid air, and go into various yoga-like positions. There were so many unexpected benefits from taking this class, everything from having sore arms (who doesn’t want better definition through their arms and shoulders), to an incredible sense of empowerment when I discovered that maybe I’m more flexible than I thought (thanks to the assistance of gravity). If you’re inspired to try a class, and I highly recommend it, here are three reasons I know you wont regret the experience.

Three Benefits of Aerial Silks:

  1. Total Body Workout. Aerial Silks is a total body workout that uses every muscle, (even ones you didn’t know you have), from head to toe. It’s an integrated, multi-joint, multi-muscle workout that strengthens, defines, and lengthens (think flexibility)! You learn how to properly distribute your weight, critical for climbing and balance, and you’ll strengthen your core.
  1. Emotionally Empowering. I’ve mentioned how empowering it feels to discover how flexible you are when gravity is on your side, but have I mentioned how awesome it is when you’re suspended in mid-air, executing movements you never thought possible? Best of all, nearly everyone looks graceful doing it, even those who are new and have no experience.
  1. Feels Great on Your Back. If you don’t have an inversion table, Aerial Silks might be the next best thing. Any time you hang upside down you give your spine the opportunity to lengthen. This is a huge benefit for everyone, especially if you sit a lot throughout the day. Nothing feels better than a workout that allows your spine to decompress.
I couldn’t have chosen a better workout for my daughters and me. It always feels incredible to share something you love with someone you love, and it feels even better when that something that makes you all stronger and more confident about your body.

Best in Health~

Angie

Angie Miller, M.S., is a fitness educator, university instructor, and Licensed Professional Counselor who blends her skills and expertise to empower individuals, mentally and physically, and provide them the tools they need to succeed. A veteran group exercise instructor and personal trainer, Angie is the star of acclaimed exercise DVD’s, including the Bedroom Body™ workout. Her passion for progressive education brought her to Northern Illinois University, where she teaches in the Dept. of Kinesiology & Physical Education. Outside of the university, she presents at fitness conventions worldwide and leads industry trainings as an AFAA Certification Specialist and Kettlebell Concepts Master Instructor. Angie writes for fitness journals and digital communities, and blogs for Collage Video. Connect with Angie at: http://www.angiemillerfitness.com

 

Family Getaways

by Angie Miller

Family Getaways After The Kids Have Gone Away

The Baths at Virgin Gorda- British VI

This year marked some pivotal changes in my life as a mom and in our family unit as a whole. My youngest daughter went away to college last August and my oldest as of last month became an official college graduate. After having a quiet, kid free home for a full nine months, both of my daughters are now home for the summer and my house is full again- as is my heart. Not knowing how long it will be before grad school, jobs, a significant other, or any number of possibilities takes them away for good, we knew a family vacation was a must. After a four-year lapse where study abroad opportunities and other expenses had taken precedence we were overdue.

A vacation, while it may be short lived is a full immersion experience. Now that its over- we just returned from St. Thomas last week- I can safely say it was just what we needed to reconnect. We gained a new level of respect for one another and what we share as a family, but we also learned a few things along the way. Here’s my takeaway on how and why to travel with kids who have flown the coop.

How and Why to Travel with Kids Who Have Flown the Coop:

  1. No Distractions. College life, travel, jobs, extracurricular activities, and other responsibilities have been tugging at us for years. St. Thomas wasn’t just a vacation; it was an opportunity to get away from friends, boyfriends, and other distractions, thereby connecting us only to one another. We not only shared space, we shared new experiences and those experiences are memories that will last a lifetime.
  1. Busy=Better. We learned from previous vacations that everything goes better when we’re busy and engaged. St. Thomas provided just enough beach, activity, and surrounding islands to keep us entertained. Our second day we took a ferry to St. John where we discovered some of the most amazing views and spectacular beaches we'd ever seen. Our third day we took a boating excursion and on our last day we shopped. This still allowed time to lounge at the resort and hang out at the pool, but not so much that boredom set in.

    The Baths at Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke- British VI

    1. Social Connection. My daughters, like many teens and older adults, love to be part of a crowd. Thus why I knew they would enjoy an all day boating excursion with lots of new faces and a witty crew that ensures everyone has a good time. It’s essentially a party boat run by a respectable company who has their agenda down to a science. Four stops to four unbelievably beautiful places in the British Virgin Islands, from Virgin Gorda to see the Baths, to Diamond Reef for snorkeling, then over to Marina Cay for lunch, and the last stop is Jost Van Dyke where you anchor off the shores of White Bay. Boating, snorkeling, interesting people, and a few Virgin Island “Pain Killers”-It’s no surprise that it was a trip favorite.

    Pusser’s Marina Kay- British VI

    1. Same Place Different Space. A place where everyone has some space is best. One hotel room might have been great when they were younger, but everyone needs to know they can escape and have time alone when needed. We booked at a resort where they had a bedroom, we had a bedroom, and they each had their own bed. Space to breathe, read a book, or even catch on social media makes the time together go a little smoother.

    St. Thomas- US VI

    1. Family Fitness. While a break from everyday life is great, a complete disconnect from routines that are important to each individual isn’t. For us, exercise first thing in the morning is a critical component of our wellbeing, thus most mornings we made a beeline for the fitness room. Though we don’t normally work out together, sharing this experience on vacation was a fun diversion from our regular routine. We each did our own thing, but we learned something new about each other, aka I had no idea my daughter kills it on a treadmill.

    Family time isn’t something you can take for granted when your kids are grown. Getting away where there’s no distractions or competition for anyone’s time is an opportunity to create a stronger family bond.

    Everyone’s Happy When There’s Sun and Fun 

    Best in Health and Many Happy Vacations~

    - Angie

    Angie Miller, M.S., is a fitness educator, university instructor, and Licensed Professional Counselor who blends her skills and expertise to empower individuals, mentally and physically, and provide them the tools they need to succeed. A veteran group exercise instructor and personal trainer, Angie is the star of acclaimed exercise DVD’s, including the Bedroom Body™ workout. Her passion for progressive education brought her to Northern Illinois University, where she teaches in the Dept. of Kinesiology & Physical Education. Outside of the university, she presents at fitness conventions worldwide and leads industry trainings as an AFAA Certification Specialist and Kettlebell Concepts Master Instructor. Angie writes for fitness journals and digital communities, and blogs for Collage Video. Connect with Angie at: http://www.angiemillerfitness.com

     

    By Collage Video | | Angie Miller, exercise, goals, practice, story, Weekly Blog, Wellness | 0 comments | Read more

    Weightless Workout

    by Angie Miller

    Angie Miller

    The Beauty of Bodyweight Training

    As bodyweight workouts rise in popularity, I often get asked about their effectiveness and their ability to deliver results. Personally, I think bodyweight training is the foundation of all training. Not only do I love the freedom and flexibility of weightless workouts, no equipment, no fuss, I love what they teach us about our body. When it’s just us against gravity we learn how to create resistance, and how to target every muscle group effectively simply by changing our body position. Bodyweight training teaches us how to manage and distribute our body weight, how to stabilize and strengthen our core, and how to use our gluteals for power and support. This gives us better body intuition that carries over into everything we do, in the gym and at home. Most importantly, without the added dimension of dumbbells, weighted bars, and other training tools, we can focus on proper form and technique, and just like dancers we can learn to move with grace and precision.

     Here are of three of my favorite bodyweight exercises: All three exercises build upper body strength in your arms and shoulders, help you to stabilize and strengthen your core, improve your flexibility, and teach you to use your gluteals and legs for power and support.

     Downward Facing Dog:

                How to Do: Start in plank position with your body fully extended, hands directly below your shoulders, hips stable, and shoulders down and back. Engage your torso and lift your hips in the air, keeping your hands and feet in place so you stay long and extended.

                Tip: Think about distributing your bodyweight so that your shoulders and wrists don’t feel any extra pressure. Engage through your center as if you’re wearing a belt.  Lift your energy up through your spine and down the back of your legs, rooting into your heels.

                Tip: Be sure to keep your neck long to avoid your shoulders sinking into your neck.

     

     

    1. Side Plank:

                How to Do: Start from front plank, then open up into a side plank, extending one arm up toward the ceiling.

                Tip: Make sure that your support arm is directly below your shoulder. Be sure to keep your neck long and look up toward your extended arm. Stack your hips and shoulders, placing your body against an invisible wall behind you.

                Tip: You can modify this exercise by bending your bottom leg and placing your knee on the floor. This helps take pressure off of your shoulders and wrists.

     

    1. Tabletop:

                How to Do: Start with your buttocks, feet, and hands on the floor, with fingertips facing your hips, feet are hip distance apart. Gently lift your hips and try to flatten your torso, engaging your center, pulling your chest open, and drawing your shoulder blades together.

                Tip: Keep your head in line with your spine and don’t forget to breath. Really engage your gluteals here, using them for strength and support.

               Tip: Tabletop opens your chest and strengthens your back, gluteals, and hamstrings, all three areas that are often overlooked and undertrained. This is great for your posture!

     

    I hope you enjoy bodyweight training as much as I do. Here’s to good health, strong muscles, and amazing posture!

    Sincerely,

    - Angie

    Angie Miller, M.S., is a fitness educator, university instructor, and Licensed Professional Counselor who blends her skills and expertise to empower individuals, mentally and physically, and provide them the tools they need to succeed. A veteran group exercise instructor and personal trainer, Angie is the star of acclaimed exercise DVD’s, including the Bedroom Body™ workout. Her passion for progressive education brought her to Northern Illinois University, where she teaches in the Dept. of Kinesiology & Physical Education. Outside of the university, she presents at fitness conventions worldwide and leads industry trainings as an AFAA Certification Specialist and Kettlebell Concepts Master Instructor. Angie writes for fitness journals and digital communities, and blogs for Collage Video. Connect with Angie at: http://www.angiemillerfitness.com

     

    Are You Ready for Change? Part II

    by Angie Miller

    Angie Miller
    Are You Ready for Change? Part II
    Read Part I Here!

    Change is a chance for a new beginning, but change can be daunting because it means that we have to face the unknown. That said, if change is gradual and we approach it in a healthy, step-by-step fashion, we can readily accomplish our goals and set ourselves up for a lifetime of success.

    The Transtheoretical Model is one such model that helps us approach change in a gradual manner. The model highlights the importance of planning. Additionally, it addresses the critical nature of mental and emotional preparedness as we work through the process of change. There are six stages in the model, but we don’t necessarily go through them in the same order. We may backtrack if the change is especially difficult. This model reinforces the type of effort and commitment required for lasting change, and helps us to recognize our potential.

    Last week I shared the first four stages: Precontemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, and Action. This week I’m going to share the final two stages of change, how to avoid relapse, and common pitfalls that stand in the way of our success. Whether it’s exercise, healthy eating, or some other change you need to make in your life, check out these stages and get yourself ready for change.

    Transtheoretical Model

    1. Maintenance- In this stage, a person is maintaining their exercise plan, continuing to see progress, and working toward a long-term commitment for exercise and healthy behavior. We enter the maintenance stage after we have successfully implemented and maintained our new behavior change for six months or longer without falling back into old habits. The maintenance stage requires diligence, hard work, and the discipline to avoid relapse.
    1. Termination- In the termination stage our new behavior, aka exercise plan has become habit. Exercise is now a part of routine and how we live, therefore relapse is no longer a risk and old temptations are not an issue.

    When it comes to lasting change there’s always work to be done, but if we plan ahead and approach change gradually, we can mentally and emotionally prepare for the next step and accomplish goals that will last a lifetime. Before you plan for your next big change, check out these common pitfalls that often prevent us from reaching our goals. The key is to anticipate them and develop skills to manage them, therefore ultimately avoiding relapse.

    5 Tips to Prevent Relapse:

    1. Expect & plan for difficult situations that put you at risk: schedule alternative activities while on vacation, or bring along an exercise band while traveling for work. Another idea is to put your workout clothes in the car so you’re not tempted to come after work and skip the gym.
    2. Stop “shoulding” yourself: replace “shoulds” with “wants” to maintain balance in your life. Shoulds put pressure on us and make us feel like we’re failing or not living up to our own expectations. Wants give us temporary relief and make us feel good. Instead of, “I should work out today, because I want to wear that dress this weekend.” How about, “I want to workout today, because I know I will feel so much better afterwards.”
    3. Use positive self-talk and imagery to avoid negative dialogue: The messages we send to ourselves are powerful! Our mind is the BOSS! “I am so proud I worked out today, despite how tired I am,” vs. “I don’t know why I bothered working out, I was tired and off my game.”
    4. Don’t let “time” be your excuse: The most frequent reason given for lack of exercise is time, but research supports that this is more a perception than reality. Making the time for exercise is key. A way to do that is to schedule our workouts the way we schedule our other activities like going to the dentist. Finding time always boils down to time management and priorities. A great way to make exercise a priority is to make it enjoyable, meaningful to you, and targeted to your needs and goals.
    5. View a temporary relapse as just that- temporary: It’s only catastrophic if the mind makes it so, and that only undermines confidence and willpower. We’re not a total failure if we didn’t exercise for a week. That week is gone, and the week ahead has yet to happen. Opportunity awaits and a new outlook is all it takes.

    Best in Health!

    Sincerely,

    Angie

    Angie Miller, M.S., is a fitness educator, university instructor, and Licensed Professional Counselor who blends her skills and expertise to empower individuals, mentally and physically, and provide them the tools they need to succeed. A veteran group exercise instructor and personal trainer, Angie is the star of acclaimed exercise DVD’s, including the Bedroom Body™ workout. Her passion for progressive education brought her to Northern Illinois University, where she teaches in the Dept. of Kinesiology & Physical Education. Outside of the university, she presents at fitness conventions worldwide and leads industry trainings as an AFAA Certification Specialist and Kettlebell Concepts Master Instructor. Angie writes for fitness journals and digital communities, and blogs for Collage Video. Connect with Angie at: http://www.angiemillerfitness.com

     

    Are You Ready for Change?

    by Angie Miller

    Angie Miller

    Have you ever found yourself making excuses or searching for reasons to hold on to a person or situation that you know isn’t in your best interests, yet you can’t seem to find the courage to change? As the saying goes, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.” Meaning that often we choose to deal with the familiar even when the familiar isn’t ideal, as opposed to facing the unknown. Frankly it’s why so many people get stuck, in unhealthy relationships, jobs, and even unhealthy lifestyle decisions- smoking, sleep deprivation, overeating, or lack of exercise. Maybe in the past we’ve tried to change, but somehow we revert back to old patterns. Maybe we see the need for change, but we have no idea where to begin. Or maybe we don’t have what I call a driver and change isn’t even in our radar. To me a driver is something that motivates us to change, something that is making us uncomfortable enough to override our fear of the unknown.

    Research supports that for lasting change to take place we have to go through a series of stages. These stages help us approach change gradually, thus preparing our mind and emotions and setting us up for success. The Transtheoretical Model is one such model of change. The Transtheoretical Model assesses our readiness for change and helps provide us with strategies to adopt new behaviors. There are six stages in the model, but we don’t necessarily go through them in a step-by-step fashion. For instance, we might backtrack if the change is especially difficult. The model reinforces the type of effort and commitment required for lasting change. Whether it’s exercise, healthy eating, or some other change you need to make in your life, check out these stages and see if you are ready for change.

    Transtheoretical Model

    1. Precontemplation- In the precontemplation stage a person has no intention of changing. Maybe they’ve tried in the past and given up, maybe they’re in denial, or maybe they’re completely unaware they have a problem. In terms of exercise, a person in this stage is saying, “Exercise, what is exercise and why would I want to do that?”
    1. Contemplation- In the contemplation stage a person recognizes that they have a problem and they start to consider the need to change, but it’s not immediate. A person can stay in the contemplation stage for months or even years. After all, old habits die hard. In terms of exercise someone in this stage might say, “I really should exercise. My jeans are starting to get tight and my doctor says it would help me lose weight. Maybe I will someday.”
    1. Preparation- A person in the preparation stage is much closer to taking action. Rather than just thinking about change, someone in this stage is starting to develop a plan and identify what he or she can do to get started. In terms of exercise a person in this stage might say, “Next week I’m going to hire a trainer and start exercising two days a week.”
    1. Action- This is the execution stage where thoughts turn to action. A person in this stage has hired the trainer and started their exercise plan. This is an exciting stage, but there can be a downside. If we jump into the action stage before working through the other stages our likelihood of success decreases. Without preparation and realistic goals our exercise routine is typically abandoned long before it becomes a lifestyle; thus why the earlier stages are important.

    Action, when it’s well planned and executed, is where we start to see results. When it comes to lasting change, however, there’s more work to be done. Next week I’ll share the final two stages for successful behavior change, and how to avoid relapse and common pitfalls that stand in the way of our success.

    Read Part II Here

    Best In Health~

    - Angie

    Angie Miller, M.S., is a fitness educator, university instructor, and Licensed Professional Counselor who blends her skills and expertise to empower individuals, mentally and physically, and provide them the tools they need to succeed. A veteran group exercise instructor and personal trainer, Angie is the star of acclaimed exercise DVD’s, including the Bedroom Body™ workout. Her passion for progressive education brought her to Northern Illinois University, where she teaches in the Dept. of Kinesiology & Physical Education. Outside of the university, she presents at fitness conventions worldwide and leads industry trainings as an AFAA Certification Specialist and Kettlebell Concepts Master Instructor. Angie writes for fitness journals and digital communities, and blogs for Collage Video. Connect with Angie at: http://www.angiemillerfitness.com

     

    Girl Power II

    by Angie Miller

    Angie Miller

    5 Reasons You Need A Girls Getaway Part II

    Here’s a link to Part I

    Nothing parallels the power of female connection and few things soothe the soul more than a girls’ getaway. Women for me have always been a source of comfort, security, and unconditional love, and it’s because of their profound support that strong female connections have become my life support. It’s also the reason I foster my friendships and find ways to make girls getaways not a luxury, but a necessity.

    I’ve had two girls’ getaways in the past few months. The key I’ve decided is to be flexible in your standards of how you define a getaway, and to be spontaneous in taking what you can get when the opportunity arises.

     Here’s five lessons I learned from my girls’ getaways, and why I think you should grab your girlfriend/s and go, as soon as possible:

    1. You’re not alone. Nothing is more validating or comforting than knowing that your girlfriends share similar thoughts, experiences, worries, and doubts, about parenting, relationships, ageing, careers, you name it. What we reinforce in one another is what female connections and true friends are so good at offering- love and companionship, and a gentle reminder that we’re all doing the best we can and thankfully we’re not alone. We have the support and validation of friends who only want the best for us, who have our back, and who are there when we need them the most.

    Me with my college girlfriends- Nancy and Michelle- in Cancun, Mexico

    1. Time may pass, but connections are never lost. Before we met in Mexico, my two college girlfriends and I hadn’t all been together for a girls’ weekend since 2009. Since that time we have navigated our way through life situations that have forever changed our perspective, yet we discovered that we’re still the same girls we were in college- young at heart and happy to share new adventures. We seemed to pick up where we left off, and with shared history and a connection that has stood the test of time, we accepted our common, yet unique struggles with an empathetic ear and an open heart.
    1. Wine, chocolate, and fine dining- in abundance. Does fine dining include beach drinks and outdoor restaurants where bathing suits are the dress code? We thought so. Mix that in with a good meal or two, great dessert, and some Mexican beer, and/or margaritas, and it’s amazing the laughter and direction of the conversation. Better yet, no one’s judging if you go back for another round, or decide that one dessert isn’t enough.
    1. There is always someone who wants to give you a massage-for a price. I’ve had few girls’ getaways where I couldn’t justify the need for a massage, facial, or both. Not only do you get a special treatment, you also get to share it with special people. Not to mention, you get invited into that quiet little room where there’s unlimited dried fruit and every tea imaginable at your disposal. Afterwards you and your besties can bask in your luxurious robes and cute little slippers. With all the toxins removed from your body you’re able to look at life through a different lens- one that feels a little less overwhelming when your muscles feel like Jell-O.

    Who doesn’t feel more relaxed with blue skies and a beach?

    1. There’s no need to hold back- it’s a judgment free zone. I consider myself a fairly private person. I often hold on to things, maybe more than I should. I need internal processing time if you will, before I can talk about the “big stuff.” Well something about girlfriends, a beach, some margaritas, have I mentioned those, and spa treatments, seems to act like truth serum to the soul. I found myself spilling it, and I came home five pounds lighter as a result, (okay not really, but five pounds lighter in the burdens I had been carrying). Here’s what I’ve discovered about baring your soul on girls weekends: If your teenager is making you question your parenting skills, you’ve discovered that your extended family might be crazy after all, you’re questioning your career choice, life choices, you name it, you’re not alone. Everyone on some level has been there, and sometimes it takes girls getting away, where they feel safe and supported, before they can open their heart and lay out their worries and doubts, all to be picked up by you and your friends so the burdens can be shared. When the words come out of your mouth and the faces around you show support and understanding, when you relay stories and situations and you feel validated knowing that you’re not crazy after all, then you know you’re in the right place with the right people.

    Remember, we can love our kids, spouse, significant other, and jobs to pieces, but our girlfriends get us and that’s why getting away with them is pivotal to our health. It doesn’t have to be a weekend in Mexico. You can grab your girlfriend next door and spend a day shopping and an evening out for pizza. Either way, it’s amazing what girlfriends, laughter, and connection can do for our perspective and our attitude, something everyone around us can appreciate long after the party is over.

    I’d say I look pretty relaxed, beach hair and all.

    Here’s to Girl Power!

    Sincerely,

    - Angie

    Angie Miller, M.S., is a fitness educator, university instructor, and Licensed Professional Counselor who blends her skills and expertise to empower individuals, mentally and physically, and provide them the tools they need to succeed. A veteran group exercise instructor and personal trainer, Angie is the star of acclaimed exercise DVD’s, including the Bedroom Body™ workout. Her passion for progressive education brought her to Northern Illinois University, where she teaches in the Dept. of Kinesiology & Physical Education. Outside of the university, she presents at fitness conventions worldwide and leads industry trainings as an AFAA Certification Specialist and Kettlebell Concepts Master Instructor. Angie writes for fitness journals and digital communities, and blogs for Collage Video. Connect with Angie at: http://www.angiemillerfitness.com

     

    Girl Power

    by Angie Miller

    Angie Miller

    5 Reasons You Need A Girls Getaway

    Nothing parallels the power of female connection and few things soothe the soul more than a girls’ getaway. Women for me have always been a source of comfort, security, and unconditional love. I grew up in a female only household- four sisters and my mom, and my husband and I raised two daughters. I also have girlfriends throughout the world, thanks to multiple moves and plentiful work travel over the years. These women are sustenance to my soul. I count on them to be there when the tears won’t stop flowing or my heart feels like it may never be whole again. They are also the first ones I text to share a random “girls only” story that I know will make them laugh; or maybe an “I need to vent” story that I know will be returned with just the right amount of validation. It’s because of their profound support that strong female connections have become my life support, and it’s also the reason I foster my friendships and find ways to make girls getaways not a luxury, but a necessity.

    I’ve had two girls’ getaways in the past few months. The key I’ve decided is to be flexible in your standards of how you define a getaway, and to be spontaneous in taking what you can get when the opportunity arises.

    Getaway #1: A few months ago I was scheduled to lead a professional training in New York and I had planned to leave a day early, something I often do so I can enjoy the city and spend time with local friends. Though it may be work related, travel to a different city is one of the best times to catch up with someone who lives in the area, or to have someone join you who can share in your adventure. The day before l left I called my friend April in Philadelphia and asked her to join me. It was spur of the moment, but I knew she was going through a difficult situation and I swooned her with thoughts of wine, girl talk, shopping, and a weekend in New York City. It worked. The very next night we were hugging in the hotel lobby, laughing, and picking up where we left off, (I don’t remember how long it had been since we had last seen one another). The following day we met another friend of mine, Nancy, from Long Island, a single mom with limited time to spare, but a smart mom who knows how much her sanity depends on getting a break once in awhile. My two friends had never met, but you wouldn’t have known that based on the laughter and easy conversation. The three of us only had a couple of hours together, but it was time well spent and those moments are precious whenever you can get them. The rest of the weekend with April was a mixture of wine, laughter, sightseeing, and work, but I can’t think of a better way to enjoy my work than to share my travels with women who make my world a better place.

     Nancy, April, and Me at New York’s Battery Park

    What’s not to love about New York?

    Getaway #2: Picture three college friends, living in three different cities, 7 kids and three husbands between us. One just lost her father, the other just helped her parents move into an assisted living facility as her father’s health is declining, and I lost my mom nearly three years ago after caring for her through her battle with dementia. I also sent my baby off to college this year and found my recent empty nest status not all it’s cracked up to be. Lets just say that when I proposed a girls getaway it didn’t take a lot of convincing to get my girlfriends on board. Once we picked a date, I performed a power search through Google flights and it seemed that a weekend in Mexico was in the cards: Affordable, quick flight, sunshine, and the number one criteria- a beach. Okay, maybe it was the margaritas

    .

    My college girlfriends- Nancy, Michelle, and Me- at our resort in Cancun, Mexico

    Can you imagine waking up to this type of serenity everyday?

    Both of these getaways provided much needed connection and support and filled me with a renewed sense of belonging. The reality is that we can love our kids, spouse, significant other, and jobs to pieces, but our girlfriends just get us, and that’s why getting away with them is pivotal to our health. It doesn’t have to be a weekend in Mexico. It can be a work trip where you call up a local friend and meet for lunch, or a business trip where you invite a friend to come along. If all else you can grab a friend and spend a day at a local spa. No matter how you make it work, it’s amazing what girlfriends, laughter, and connection can do to lift our spirits and give us perspective; something everyone around us can appreciate long after the party is over.

    Next week, check back for Part II of Girl Power~ 5 Reasons You Need A Girls Getaway. I’ll share five reasons why I think you should grab your girlfriend/s and go, as soon as possible.

    Here’s to Girl Power!

    Sincerely,

    Angie

    - Angie

    Angie Miller, M.S., is a fitness educator, university instructor, and Licensed Professional Counselor who blends her skills and expertise to empower individuals, mentally and physically, and provide them the tools they need to succeed. A veteran group exercise instructor and personal trainer, Angie is the star of acclaimed exercise DVD’s, including the Bedroom Body™ workout. Her passion for progressive education brought her to Northern Illinois University, where she teaches in the Dept. of Kinesiology & Physical Education. Outside of the university, she presents at fitness conventions worldwide and leads industry trainings as an AFAA Certification Specialist and Kettlebell Concepts Master Instructor. Angie writes for fitness journals and digital communities, and blogs for Collage Video. Connect with Angie at: http://www.angiemillerfitness.com

     

    By Collage Video | | exercise, fitness, goals, Motivation, tips, Weekly Blog, Wellness | 0 comments | Read more

    Five Fitness, Diet, and Workout Mistakes You Might Be Making

    by Angie Miller

    Angie Miller

    We all want to look and feel our best, but sometimes we make decisions that get in the way of our ability to do just that. Below I have listed five of the most common fitness, diet, and workout decisions that I have witnessed in my 20 plus years as a health and fitness leader. We’ve probably all been guilty of at least one or two, but knowledge is power and reminders help keep us real.

     1. Going on a diet. Yep, that’s right, I said it. Lets face it; just saying the word diet makes us hungry. It’s a loaded word that says it’s time to chuck the chocolate and every other food we enjoy, and chew a lot of gum to keep our mouth active and mind distracted. There’s power in words, and the word diet has too many negative connotations. What if instead we decide to do one of the following: cut back, reduce our calorie intake, lower our sugar consumption, or start tracking our daily food intake using one of the many awesome sites that allow us to do so? It’s amazing what it does for our psyche to change how we approach a situation and the words we use to describe our goal. Down with the word diet. Set yourself up for success rather than dread.

    1. Not surrounding yourself with like-minded people. If you want to get fit and feel good, hang around others who have the same goals. The people you surround yourself with influence your lifestyle, decisions, and even attitude. If you hang out with healthy eaters, chances are you’ll become more aware of your own daily diet decisions. If you hang out with friends who like to workout, chances are you’ll be inspired to do the same. On the other hand, if you hang out with people who don’t have those goals, you’re likely to feel guilty or defensive for the time you spend boosting your buns and growing your guns. We all need support, encouragement, and understanding from our family, friends, and significant others on any goal we hope to achieve.
    1. Relying on the scale rather than your measurements for signs of progress. I know this is tough one. After all, who doesn’t love a morning where we see a number on the scale that excites us? But the scale is a finicky, deceptive little guy who is likely to set us up for self-doubt. If you love to see numbers that excite you, focus on the numbers you see when you measure yourself. Measurements are better indicators of progress, and the way your clothes fit speaks volumes. Muscle really does weigh more than fat, and it’s denser so it takes up less space, which means that your clothes fit better and you feel better. Not to mention, water weight and fluctuating hormones can make daily weighing disastrous. If you insist on weighing yourself, do it only once a week so you’re more dependent on factors that are better indicators than body weight alone.
    1. Being scared of the unknown. There’s no greater mistake than doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. The more we’re willing to get uncomfortable and challenge our body in new and unique ways, the more our body will respond and pay us back in spades, aka help us meet our goals. We have to change our routine to change the outcome. I’m not saying we have to do everything different. I’m talking about small changes to wake our body up, stimulate our brain, and activate our senses. Adding an additional strength training workout once a week, a morning walk, or changing our regular exercise routine one day a week can do wonders in terms of both results and burnout prevention. Remember that your body is a machine and it’s designed to take the path of least resistance. It learns to work smarter, not harder, so you have to give the machine new challenges for it respond accordingly.
    1. Getting our information from the wrong sources. It’s the Wild West out there on the Internet and it seems that knowledge and credibility are determined by the number of followers and likes on social media sites rather than certifications, education, licensures, and degrees. While some social media savvy individuals may have a lot of exposure and visibility, that doesn’t always translate to knowledge, experience, and proper education. When you get your workout information from blogs, websites, and You Tube, check out that person’s credentials. If you can’t find them, take that as your first sign and run for the hills. Enough said.

    Stay tuned next week, because there’s more to come on Monday.

    Best in Health~

    - Angie

    Angie Miller, M.S., is a fitness educator, university instructor, and Licensed Professional Counselor who blends her skills and expertise to empower individuals, mentally and physically, and provide them the tools they need to succeed. A veteran group exercise instructor and personal trainer, Angie is the star of acclaimed exercise DVD’s, including the Bedroom Body™ workout. Her passion for progressive education brought her to Northern Illinois University, where she teaches in the Dept. of Kinesiology & Physical Education. Outside of the university, she presents at fitness conventions worldwide and leads industry trainings as an AFAA Certification Specialist and Kettlebell Concepts Master Instructor. Angie writes for fitness journals and digital communities, and blogs for Collage Video. Connect with Angie at: http://www.angiemillerfitness.com

     

    By Collage Video | | Angie Miller, exercise, fitness, Healthy, Weekly Blog, Wellness | 0 comments | Read more

    How to Achieve Better Balance

    by Angie Miller

    Angie Miller

    ~Going from Chaos to Calm

    Balance means something different to everyone, but personally when my life is in balance I feel calmer and more at peace, as if everything is in sync. Balance is something that we strive for in a physical setting and in life, and there is a strong parallel between the two. In a physical setting, balance is required for all athletic endeavors and everyday functional movement. In everyday life, balance is required to successfully manage our time and responsibilities. Good life balance means that we can juggle personal and professional commitments in a healthy, positive way.

    In a physical setting I help individuals achieve better balance by implementing four variables. These variables are meant to manipulate the environment and teach the body how to maintain balance even when the environment becomes less stable. These physical variables are the same ones we use to create and maintain balance in our everyday lives. When an event occurs that threatens our stability, we turn to these variables to get back on track. There are four variables we use to “fight” for our balance in a physical setting, and how we can apply them to everyday life.

    Four Variables:

    1. Support- In a physical setting, the more support we have the more stable our environment and the better our balance. Support in a physical setting is generally defined in terms of how many contact points, or areas of the body that touch the ground, (ex. two feet vs. one). It could also be any object that adds additional stability.

    In life, we also need support when our balance becomes compromised. Support comes from our friends, family, and those we lean on in times of difficulty. They are the people who offer us shoulder to cry on, or who help us out when we can’t be three places at once. The stronger our support system the more likely we are to feel emotional, cognitive, and spiritual well being, and the stronger our foundation.

    2. Visual- In a physical setting our visual focus can alter our level of stability. When we’re standing on one foot and we turn your head, or close our eyes, our stability is challenged. The clearer, more focused our vision in a physical setting, the better our balance.

    In life, we don’t have a crystal ball. We don’t know what might happen unexpectedly and change our lives in ways we can’t imagine, but we do know that when we have a clear vision of what’s important to us our decisions will be easier to make and our vision will less clouded. Good vision in life means that we can maintain our focus even when things happen that temporarily obstruct our view.

    3. Movement- In a physical setting, adding movement and range of motion increases the balance challenge. If I ask you to stand on one foot, then I give you a gentle nudge it forces you to fight for your balance. In a physical setting, the more you add movement and range of motion the more difficult it is to maintain balance.

    Life is much the same way. Life is constant motion. Life doesn’t slow down when our parents get sick, or our spouse loses their job. Life demands that we maintain balance even when it seems like the ground beneath us is no longer stable. Things may happen fast or unexpectedly in life, but like visual, movement can be managed by knowing our priorities and what supports our foundation. The stronger our priorities and our understanding of what’s most important to us, no matter what our circumstances, the less movement will throw us off balance.

    4. Added Resistance- In a physical setting, added resistance is any additional weight, such a free weight, medicine ball, or body bar that adds to the balance challenge. The more resistance you add, the more difficult it is to maintain your balance.

    Life is much the same way. The added resistance in life is the additional responsibilities that can throw us off balance if our circumstances change: Job loss, divorce, financial setbacks, or any obstacles that get in the way. The less resistance, the easier it is to maintain balance. That said, if we’re able to work with the resistance rather than against it, and temporarily ride the waves, we can achieve better balance no matter how challenging our circumstance.

    Balance is the foundation for stronger, more peaceful existence. Applying the four variables can help us stay on track and maintain a healthy life balance no matter what comes our way.

    Best in Health~
    Angie
    Angie Miller, M.S., is a fitness educator, university instructor, and Licensed Professional Counselor who blends her skills and expertise to empower individuals, mentally and physically, and provide them the tools they need to succeed. A veteran group exercise instructor and personal trainer, Angie is the star of acclaimed exercise DVD’s, including the Bedroom Body™ workout. Her passion for progressive education brought her to Northern Illinois University, where she teaches in the Dept. of Kinesiology & Physical Education. Outside of the university, she presents at fitness conventions worldwide and leads industry trainings as an AFAA Certification Specialist and Kettlebell Concepts Master Instructor. Angie writes for fitness journals and digital communities, and blogs for Collage Video. Connect with Angie at: http://www.angiemillerfitness.com

     

    By Collage Video | | Angie Miller, fitness, Healthy, Weekly Blog, Wellness | 0 comments | Read more

    Total Body Machine Makeover Part II

    by Angie Miller

    Angie Miller

     

     

     Here's Part I of Total Body Machine Makeover

     

     


     Station Five: Biceps Machine
    You’ve targeted the large muscles of the back, chest, and shoulders. Now it’s time for single joint exercises that target the biceps.
    Tip: Perform 16 reps of a bilateral (two arm) biceps curl, or 8 reps each of single arm biceps curl.

     

    Station Six: Triceps Extension Machine

    Say goodbye to bye-bye arms. Triceps are stubborn and hard to work, and that’s all the more reason to make sure you don’t leave the gym without a triceps challenge that will make you proud to show off lean, sculpted arms.

    Tip: Perform 16 reps of a bilateral (two arm) triceps extension, or 8 reps each of single arm extension.

    Station Seven: Glute Machine

    Your glutes are your powerhouse. They improve your posture and assist you in everything you do. They’re also your back’s best friend, giving it the stability and support it needs.

    Tip: Perform 16 reps with both legs, or 8 reps on each side.

     

    Station Eight: Abdominal Machine

    You’ve worked the back end, now it’s time to target the front. An abdominal machine will keep you safe and stable, giving you the six-pack of your dreams while keeping your alignment secure.

     

    Spring renews our energy and inspires us to seek new challenges. If you’re looking for a fun, alternative workout, machines can’t be beat. They’re safe and effective and they give you great results!

    Happy Monday!

    ~ Angie

    Angie Miller, M.S., is a fitness educator, university instructor, and Licensed Professional Counselor who blends her skills and expertise to empower individuals, mentally and physically, and provide them the tools they need to succeed. A veteran group exercise instructor and personal trainer, Angie is the star of acclaimed exercise DVD’s, including the Bedroom Body™ workout. Her passion for progressive education brought her to Northern Illinois University, where she teaches in the Dept. of Kinesiology & Physical Education. Outside of the university, she presents at fitness conventions worldwide and leads industry trainings as an AFAA Certification Specialist and Kettlebell Concepts Master Instructor. Angie writes for fitness journals and digital communities, and blogs for Collage Video. Connect with Angie at: http://www.angiemillerfitness.com

     

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