Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Looking for a New Heart Rate Monitor? Try BeetsBlu!

When it comes to HRMs, I've been a Polar girl. The watches are pretty cool, and most of them do more than just manage your heart rate. However, what is one thing that I think would make it better? Put the readings on my phone (I mean everything else is on our phones right now). So naturally, when BeetsBlu reached out to me to try out their HRM, I was intrigued by this fact more than anything else :)

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Hate Burpees? Let's Modify Them

Are you one of those people who gives excuses about not doing high intensity interval training because, well, they are hard and you don't think you can jump around that much? Here's some good news: you can modify your workouts to reduce the intensity but still get some good points. An example of one of these monster exercises is the burpee. Ugh! Killer.

Regular burpee

If the motion is too much for you at this level and you'd like to work your way up to this full-body exercise, trying slowing it down and going step by step. You'll still get the same benefits, but at a lower intensity. 

Modified burpee

Try this today and let me know what you think.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

4 Pillars of Weight Loss

For those who follow me on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, you know that I constantly post very quick additions to your workout regimen. I have had to start including the note that each exercise I post is not a full workout in itself because I get this question so much: "If I just do that, how fast can I lose weight?" or "Will this make me lose my bum?". The problem with these questions is the assumption that there is a magical way to lose weight without putting in the necessary work, and that all people lose weight the same way.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Why are Healthy Decisions so Important?

It's crazy how easy it is for our bodies to spiral out of control. This week, I was not really making the best decisions with food, and I realized how quickly my mental function was affected as well. On Sunday afternoon, I ate pretty bad. So on Sunday night, it was easy to repeat the same. On Monday, I was having a stressful day, and so I didn't want to use my brain power on dinner. This led to another bad decision. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Abs Work: Jack Knife

Abs are tough as we know, but the way to really build those muscles (the fat is another story) is through strength training. Here is a great strength idea for those abs: the Jack Knife. There are two modification options to the regular jack knife you can try.

Option 1: Single-legged jack knife

Straightening your legs forces your upper body to reach higher in this exercise and works your abs more. If you cannot lift your torso as high off the mat, bend your knee and just reach as far as you can. Squeeze as you lift and as you lower. And remember to control the movement as you lower so you are not just falling to the mat!

Option 2: Jack knife with an exercise ball

This can be tougher because both legs are coming up at the same time and you are squeezing with your legs. Try not to drop your legs all the way to the mat.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Want to Burn Major Calories?

We all know that HIIT is effective, but sometimes finding those exercises that fit into your HIIT program can be tough. Here is one exercise that may really help you turn up the heat and burn some major calories!

Basketball players usually do these drills to train. They are called 'suicide drills'. If you have a court or some sort of open space, it simply involves running back and forth while controlling your turn. The dip you do during the turn helps you strengthen your core and your legs. 

How do you do this exercise really? You start in an open space, run to one end. Once you've reached the end, turn to face the other direction, lunge, and put one hand on the floor. Then stand, run the other way, and repeat that motion.

Still confused? Let this video demonstration guide you. Try to repeat this for 5 rounds of 1 minute each and feel how much you are burning!

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Yoga for Weight-loss: Where to Begin?

If you're a yoga fan, you already know the powerful effects of yoga on your mind and body. However, if you are new to exercise, you are probably thinking "How the hell can ooommm...ahhhhs help me lose weight?"

There are so many different kinds of yoga, and nowadays, the most popular westernized forms do not involve staying in one position for an over-extended period of time. In fact, the most popular forms of yoga in the western world - Hatha, Power, and Bikram - involved fast-paced movements that induce those sweat glands to do their job.

Because there are a lot of balances, awkward positions, planks, and so on, yoga definitely develops muscle strength. But in order to lose some weight and also get some cardio effects, you most likely should be doing one of these yoga forms that are more flow-based and cause you to sweat. I would say power yoga is probably the best form of yoga if your goal is to lose weight.

Another thing to consider is that yoga tends to make you more aware of your body; its beauty, its strength. And so this usually comes along with not eating everything you used to or sleeping better, which aid in weight loss. 

So can yoga help you lose weight? Definitely. Where do you start? Start with the forms of yoga that are fast-paced, challenging in their flows, and cause you to sweat. Take a class from an instructor, buy a DVD, or go to a free website like DoYogaWithMe.com to begin your journey. As you notice yourself getting stronger, you will start to see some pounds shed. 

Will yoga shed as many calories as other cardio exercises though? No. Exercises like running, cycling, swimming, etc. will always be the best when it comes to shedding pounds, but incorporating yoga into your fitness routine can be a great place to start!

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

TKO Soft Grip Jump Rope for Cardio!

I love my new jump rope! TKO Sports, a company that creates home and gym exercise equipment, has this new product on the market that I was lucky enough to get to try out. First off, skipping is a great way to burn calories and if you do it consistently, you can burn just as many calories as running. So for all those who hate pounding the pavement, or are looking for new workouts to try, this is a cheap and easy alternative.

Second, while I like skipping, I have had some jump ropes that were just okay, either because the material wasn't rubber (I say no to woven jump ropes), the grip was wood (I don't hate, but I don't quite like), the grip just wasn't nice, or it was too short. This TKO Soft Grip Jump Rope felt nice to me. It has a great grip, was long enough for me (yay!), and is made of rubber.

Granted, getting a jump rope right may not be rocket science, but for a cheap product, I think this really did the trick. I will be adding this to my 'Fit Traveler' ways as I carry it constantly on the road with me. If you haven't tried it out, you should!

You should also check out other TKO Sports products on their website if you're looking to purchase some great equipment like free weights, cardio machines, etc. However, as they don't actually sell on their site, you can purchase it here

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Abs Work: Rotating Plank Twists

As I always say, when you work the abs, work as many of the abs muscles as possible. The muscles that help give you that definition in the sides of your waist are called the obliques. Several movements that involve rotation and twisting help work the obliques. I tried out this one where you incorporate the plank, but you twist out your waist as well. Want to try it?

All you need to do is to start in an elbow plank looking down. Keeping your upper body straight, slowly rotate your lower body into a twist (like you would do for a side plank) so your waist is kind of wrung out. i.e. the torso is facing downward and the legs are facing one side. Return to center, and then rotate to the other side. 

Confusing? Watch the video below for a demonstration.

Try out 4 sets of 10 on each side to really feel it in your abs.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

RBXActive Digital Camo Leggings

To be honest, when it comes to fitness gear, I love trying out new things! I have had instances (especially with running shoes) where I thought my life was all good until I tried something amazing and realized I was not living...lol. So when I got these leggings from RBXActive to try on, I of course thought "Why not?". 

Having tried leggings from the $10 non-workout ones you get at department stores to the sleek yoga ones that I think are sometimes overprices for what you get, I have an open mind when it comes to fitness gear. Before I put these on, they felt like they would last (you know that sweat-wicking texture), and the package they sent me said they prevent chafing in runners (where the friction from your thighs rubbing together creates that uncomfortable feeling). So I tried them on for some yoga.

They were not tight and uncomfortable (yay!), they stayed on really well, and they meshed well with my movements. And you know in yoga, we move into all sorts of positions! I do have to say they did not make my butt look as great as my favorite pair of leggings, so there's that. But overall, I'm pretty impressed. However, I have not yet tried them out for running so I don't know about the chafing, but I'd say give them a go. You can get yours at department stores, sporting goods stores, or at rbxactive.com.

In fact, right now, they are selling these at a 25% discount if you use this code on rbxactive.com: "Active 25". So do it now!

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Fun at the ALOHA Healthy Snack Break

A few weeks ago, I was invited to be one of the first to try some new and soon-to-launch healthy products by a company called ALOHA. ALOHA is a health and wellness company dedicated to creating great tasting, real food products from the simplest, purest, and cleanest ingredients. But I must admit that I knew nothing about them before I was contacted! The company was having a 'Healthy Snack Break' on June 24th, 2015 where some of us were invited to come in and check the snacks and other products out. Verdict? I'm glad I went :)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Kushyfoot Yoga Socks

The kind people at KushyFoot sent me these yoga socks to try out and review. As my mat gets so slippery in the summer with all that sweat (my yoga sessions are intense), it is great to have yoga gloves and yoga socks to help with my grip. I have tried out these yoga socks and I love them so far. They are just as comfy as socks and are not too costly to be honest. A lot of yoga gear tends to cost so much that I feel like someone is ripping me off sometimes, but the price point here is pretty good.

If you have a minute, check out KushyFoot.com for more of their athletic socks and let me know how you like them!

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Get your Obliques Working

Anyone who consistently works his/her abs muscles knows that you have to hit multiple muscle groups within that region and this cannot be achieved by doing just sit-ups. The sides of the abs (the obliques) are very crucial to getting that shape right and getting the strength you need in your ab region. Here are a couple of exercises to really help build those oblique muscles:

This exercise works the biceps and obliques and even gets a bit of leg in there:

This exercise focuses a lot on the obliques and the upper body as well:

Try both for 3 sets of 10 on each side.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Are you HIITing?

Looking to lose weight, but you're hitting a plateau? Then HIIT may be what you need. What is HIIT, you ask? HIIT (or High Intensity Interval Training) is a form of exercise where you alternate between intervals of very high intensity and low intensity training. It has been shown to burn more fat than doing consistent moderate exercise for long periods of time. I'm not sure you really care about why, but let's just say it works...lol.

A lot of people use the term to refer to exercises like jumping jacks, jump tucks, and the like, but you could really make any cardio exercise HIIT by speeding up and slowing down. For example, running at high and slow speeds and inclines is HIIT. Spinning classes do usually incorporate HIIT, and so on.

You can find so many HIIT videos on the web, but here is one of my favorites:

It is a 30 minute session you can do on your own, so beginners, no excuses! You should be feeling breathless by the end. 

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Yoga Progress Report

It is great being able to capture workout photos in the age of social media because you can actually see your progress years from now. I regularly go through my photos from the middle of my yoga journey (which is when I joined Instagram) to see how far I've come. And I'm always astonished. It is so easy to beat down on ourselves when our workouts don't go as planned, or when we don't reach one goal or the other. But we forget where we come from and how much work it took us to get there. 

Some of you know and follow my yoga journey so I wanted to share what I looked at today. The photo above I took 2 years ago when I was finally able to get into the wheel pose at all, and the photo below I took last weekend. Such a huge difference.

Hopefully, this inspires you to not be too hard on yourself and focus on putting in the work. The progress will come.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Investing in Gym Equipment

When you first start working out, it is challenging to know what to wear, what works for your body, and what tools to use. In fact, it could get a tad overwhelming, especially in the age of the internet where there are 'quick solutions'. But I like to keep things simple, so here are a few tips to remember if you are trying to decide what you need:

Monday, April 20, 2015

April Plank Challenge!

I know this is terribly late on the blog, but I have been organizing a plank challenge on Instagram (@eightsnweights) all April. If you are trying to increase your core strength and build those abs, this challenge is for you. It is not too late to start as you can do this on your own schedule.

When we started, it was much easier. But as we go towards the 2-minute mark, it is getting more and more intense. Look at the schedule above and get to it :)

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Eights & Weights Recipe: Sauteed Tofu and Wild Rice

Tofu requires great strategy to cook correctly. There are many different levels of firmness, but unless you are making soup, I always suggest you go for the Extra Firm tofu. This is because you don't want it all broken up in your meal, but solid and ready to absorb whatever it is cooked in.

Even with the extra firmness, tofu can still be pretty soft and brittle if it is not cooked properly. For this reason, some people choose to fry their tofu. However, because that usually involves a lot of oil, I choose to grill mine. That way, I keep the texture, but still keep it clean and healthy.

For this simple meal, let's take a look at what you will need (it serves 4). Please note that you need a grill (I use an indoor electric grill). If you do not have a grill, you can try broiling this in the oven.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Innovative Leg Day Exercises

If you are a frequent traveler like me, or have no equipment and still want to get leg day done, have no fear. There are so many leg and butt muscle burners that can help you get the shape and tone you need without any equipment. Here are a couple:

Donkey Kickbacks
They are called kickbacks so you don't simply kick to the side. Keep your upper body straight and stationary, and try to kick back at an angle just with your leg. Make sure the hips are not jutting up and down so you can really feel this in your bum. Do it for 20 seconds, and repeat 4 times on each side. 

Low Lunge Walks
I bet this doesn't look that tough until you do it. Keep your front leg stable on your heel, straighten your back leg, and lean forward with your fingers touching the floor. For one rep, bring your back knee to touch your front shin and place it back in its original position. Do this as fast as you can. Repeat that for 4 sets of 20 seconds each on each side. 

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Influenster Refresh Voxbox

So last week I received a ton of items to test out from Influenster. Of course I was happy, but I was more excited to find out that some of the products were things I either wanted to try or already liked. But there were a few items I chose not to try, probably because I don't think I am in the best position to review them. Here is my review on each:
  • Beanitos chips: This I liked. I got two flavors - the white bean with sea salt and the nacho cheese. Each bag contains about 210 calories, which is not bad for a bag of chips. From a health standpoint, I always say stay as natural as possible, so if it comes down to some nuts and a bag of chips, go for the nuts (even these chips). However, compared to other chips, they are made from beans, are gluten free, and contain less sodium. So that's definitely better than a regular bag. For more information about Beanitos, visit www.beanitos.com.
  • CoverGirl UltraSmooth Foundation: I chose not to try this as I am not much of a foundation person.
  • L'Occitane Shea Butter Light Comforting Cream: I'm always looking for good travel products so this was great for me. There is some shea butter in it and I really liked the texture on my face. I also read that L'Occitane has a fair-trade partnership with the women of Burkina Faso for the shea butter in the product. I support anyone that supports West Africa so I was sold. For more information about this product, check out L'Occitane.
  • Orgain Certified Organic Nutritional Shakes: Sounds like it may be good. 25g of protein and 150 calories. I just never got the chance to pick mine up from the store (I had to take the coupon to the store to get it).
  • Montagne Jeunesse Face Masques: Who doesn't like a good face mask. It didn't do anything special for my skin, but it felt good to have it on. It's quite cheap as well, so if you are looking for an alternative to the face mask you currently use, try it out.
  • SkinnyGirl Tasty Nutrition Bars: One morning when I was rushing out and didn't get a chance to eat a good breakfast, this really came in handy. The bar was very very tasty. I got the banana oatmeal dark chocolate flavor. At 150 calories, this is a good snack for when you are on the go. SkinnyGirl also carries some great products. Check them out at SkinnyGirl.
  • Listerine PocketPaks: What's funny about this product is that I already use it! I love my PocketPaks and buy them in bulk. They are like mints except they simply melt on your tongue. So if you are headed to that meeting or that date, and what something to freshen your breath really quickly, reach for these. Find out more about where to get them at Listerine.
  • DenTek Flossers and Floss Picks: My brother actually introduced me to these some time ago. You can take the floss picks with you in your purse so that after dinner you can get some flossing done in the bathroom. They are easily disposable and a good substitute for traditional flossing. Find out more about all their products at DenTek.
I hope you found at least one thing you like and want to try out on this list. I had fun testing out the items :)

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Drink More Water in the Winter

We're often told that the heat causes dehydration and so we need to re-hydrate in the hot summer months. But did you know that your body also loses a lot of water in the winter? When it is terribly cold outside, you lose water through your breath as well. It is therefore just as important to hydrate in cold months as it is in hot months.

If you are an avid exerciser, this is definitely doubly true for you as you also lose water when you work out (in sweat). Dehydration can cause your muscles to be fatigued and your body to feel tired. I don't know about you, but my muscles are already always tired and stiff in the winter so the water loss makes it worse.

What should you do to stay hydrated? Drink more water! Also, eat less salty foods that cause you to feel bloated. This is especially important in winter as we tend to go for more comfort foods when it is cold.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Read My Article on Cosmopolitan Magazine

The Nigerian Cosmo magazine has featured an article I wrote about how to get nice abs. We all need a reminder about what to do besides sit-ups so check it out here.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Abs: Standing Twists

People tend to forget a lot of muscles when they work the abs. The obliques are pretty important when trying to get some definition in your abs. 

The up-down movement of the sit-up shouldn't be your only abs strength training. Twist from your midsection and look to the left and the right as you turn. See the video below for a demonstration.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Abs Work: Russian Twists

Working on the abs requires working on various muscles in the abdominal region. This is one of the reasons why solely doing sit-ups won't help. Another reason is that you need diet, cardio, and strength training to build better abs, but that is a topic for another day. 

For today, we'll focus on one of the large muscle groups in that region: the obliques (sides of the abs). You can work these by doing a variety of exercises, but one of the really good ones is called the "Russian Twist". 

I will show you two ways to do this exercise: the easier and the more challenging way.

Easier way
Keeping the heels on the floor and the upper body angled back, slowly twist side to side. This twisting motion should come from the waist, not the neck or the hips. Looking in the direction you are twisting towards sometimes helps with this movement.

More challenging way
To challenge your body, do the same exercise with your heels lifted off the floor. However, try to keep the torso in the same position and still twist side to side from the waist, not the legs. Be slow and precise with your movements.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Build Beautiful Legs: Hamstring Work

Leg day is my favorite workout day because it hurts so bad, but you feel like you've really worked hard for days after. When you work your leg muscles, it is really important to work your quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves to get great muscle definition overall. Today, we are focusing on just a couple of exercises for your hamstrings.

Barbell Straight-legged deadlifts

There are a few important things to note with the straight-legged deadlift. You start the position with a straight back, looking down, with legs straight, and a barbell straight in front of you. Slowly lift up still keeping the back and legs as straight as possible. Keeping the back straight really allows the focus to be on the glutes, and keeping the legs straight allows the focus to be on the hamstrings. Note that you should try to keep a slight looseness in the knees so the joints aren't locked up. Lower back down and repeat. I try to do about 3 rounds of 15 with challenging weights.

Hamstring Curl

I love to show a lot of body weight exercises that you can do anywhere, but this is a machine exercise. To make it a body weight exercise, sit on a chair with your legs in front of you (you can use ankle weights if you have them), and try to put something heavy on your laps to keep your thighs down on the chair. Whether you are on a machine or not, slowly lift your lower legs (below your knees) up and back down. This puts the emphasis on your hamstrings and you should really feel it. Watch the video above for a better demonstration. I do about 3 rounds of 15. Make sure the weight is fairly challenging.

Hamstring Stretch

Of course, when you are done with several rounds of all that, you should make sure you really stretch out those muscles. Above is a great stretch that should help. Bring one knee in front in a low lunge, and lean back with your butt going towards the back knee until the front leg is straight. Really push into that front leg by flexing the toes and bringing the chest towards the knee. That should feel very good. Hold for about 30 seconds and switch sides.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Butt: Work on Your Glutes with a Bosu Ball

Deadlifts are great because they really work your glutes if they are done right. Many a day have a been in pain from deadlifting the day before. But I digress...

There are ways to build your balance, build core strength, and work on isolating your glute muscles at the same time. On of these ways is to do a one-legged deadlift on a bosu ball. It challenges your focus a lot. Note that it may be important to start with lighter weights and build up as your body gets used to the exercise. Why? Because it is tough to balance on one leg on an unstable surface, with a heavy dumbbell pulling you down.

Not sure what the heck I'm talking about? Watch the video below for more details.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Yoga: Nigerian Yogis 2015 Yoga Core Strength Challenge

The Nigerian Yogis are back with another Instagram challenge! This time, we thought we'd help start your year off right with some yoga poses that help build core strength. Whether you are looking to tone your abs or get stronger or both, these will help you begin the journey in the new year.

This challenge lasts 15 days starting today, and one of the three of us will post a core strengthening yoga pose or routine daily. We would love you to participate by following 3 of us on Instagram, leaving us comments about what you would like to see, and posting your own photos using the hashtag. 

One participant who posts his/her own photos will be selected at the end of the month to get an Amazon gift voucher for a yoga mat. You could be that winner! Please repost and share with your friends as we continue to try to support Nigerian fitness in the new year.

Cheers Eights & Weights!
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