Tag Archives: 30 Day Plank Challenge

Abundant Fennel Recipes

Healthy Fennel Recipes

This week, we gave you tasty fennel recipes to make the most of the in-season flavor for the holidays. (And this handy guide can help you with prep.)

First up is a Celery, Fennel, and Apple Salad with Pecorino and Walnuts that’s bright before a big meal.

Celery, Fennel, and Apple Salad
Image and Recipe via AOL

 

Caramelized Fennel and Apple Tart is the perfect savory pie for the holidays.

Fennel and Apple Tart
Image and Recipe via Foxes Love Lemons

 

Roasted Fennel and Baby Carrots is an easy last-minute side for any meal.

Roasted Carrots and Fennel
Image and Recipe via Epicurious

 

This Caramelized Fennel on Herbed Polenta is a vegetarian showstopper.

Caramelized Fennel on Herbed Polenta
Image and Recipe via 101 Cookbooks

 

Honey Fennel Gingerbread Loaf will give you the flavor of fennel without all the prep.

Honey Fennel Gingerbread Loaf
Image and Recipe via PBS

 

Oven Roasted Orange Chicken with Fennel is a tasty meal that only looks like it took a lot of work.

Lemon Water for the Holiday Season

My Healthy Journey: Fighting the Holiday Season

While I think most people find the holiday season the hardest to stick to their healthy plans, I’m actually feeling really ready to kick off the new year the right way.

I haven’t exactly decided on my resolutions yet, I’m sure that is coming in the next few weeks, but I have found it much easier to stick to my guns now that the Halloween candy and Thanksgiving leftovers are out of my house.

I have also started using the MyPlate app. It asks you a series of questions, and then it calculates what is probably a healthy number of calories for you to be eating each day for your weight and your goals.

My favorite thing is how easy it is to track food with it. You can scan barcodes or search by names and brands to find all the things you ate. And I mean all the things. Did you eat a piece of candy? Cream in your coffee? It can help you track every detail.

Is it probably accurate down to the calorie? No. Is it controlling your portions? No. But it does make it really easy to put a real number on how many calories you’re eating in a day, a thing I had never done before.

It also helps remind you what a proper portion is, which you don’t always think about just because the package is in your hand. Did you know you can have 7 pixie sticks for 60 calories? Yeah, I didn’t either.  And while I’m not endorsing you eating pure sugar, with my sweet tooth, I’m not going to completely cut it out of my life forever. So now, I actually know what a serving is and what it costs me out of my day.

And while I’m usually within or close to my calorie goals without making changes, the app does a really good job of making me think about how wildly my diet swings. One day I’m 300 under, the next I’m 200 over. Maybe that’s not the worst thing in the world, but it does make me a lot more aware of the fact that I’m 200 over because I had a Coca-Cola that day. Now the mental downside that I’m trying to stay away from is when I’m 300 under, saying “Oh, what in my house can I eat because I’m under!”

And even though it’s just an app, having to check in every little thing I ate does make me want to eat healthier; like if I’m embarrassed to document it, I probably shouldn’t eat it.

It also gives you a breakdown of how much protein, fat, and carbs you’re eating, which I love. If at dinner, my diet has been mostly carbs that day, it’s no wonder I’m hungry, and I try to up my protein.

It also has a place where you can track the ounces of water you drink in a day. I am unfortunately still failing dismally at drinking enough, but having a place I look at everyday with a glaring empty if I don’t drink water unbelievably does make me want to drink more. There’s something about the satisfaction of that bubble being colored in, like a mental check, that gives me the drive to actually strive for results. (I like mine with just a squeeze of fresh fruit juice, so I feel like I’m drinking something tastier.)

I wouldn’t say it’s giving me concrete weight-loss results, but I actually love the feeling of control and monitoring it’s giving me, and I do think it could become a significant tool in my healthy journey progress. And, it’s on my phone, which makes it so easy to do any time.

As for the plank challenge, I really enjoyed this one! It’s almost over, and I think I might actually keep doing it. It takes very little time out of your day, literally a few minutes, and I have felt the improvement. Now if I can just get my flexibility up, I think 2015 could be my year to actually take on yoga!

30-Day Plank Challenge

My Healthy Journey: 30-Day Plank Challenge

This time, for the 30-Day Plank Challenge, I’m going to give you all the exercises and the schedule up front so you can follow along every day, and then I can just check in.

The plank strengthens your core, a complex series of muscles that includes your entire body, minus your legs, head, and arms. It doesn’t take equipment, machines, or special apparel. All you need is a little motivation.

Injury Prevention Tips

  • It’s recommended to start at level one and progress daily to ensure proper strength and form.
  • It’s essential that your spine stays level and that you activate your lower abs to protect your low back. If your back starts to arch, or your butt starts to dip, it’s time to call it a day.
  • Always make sure your wrists or elbows are directly under your shoulders to relieve any shoulder pressure.
  • You should not feel any joint, back, or shoulder pain during your planks. If you are, it’s probably related to your form. Have someone take a picture of you, or ask a friend to review your form. Make sure everything is in a straight line.
  • Remember to breath. Holding your breath makes the exercise harder and can cause an increase in your blood pressure. Focusing on your breath can actually improve your concentration and duration.

There are two different kinds of planks, in different levels, that you will use for this challenge: the front plank and the side plank.

Static Knee Forearm Plank

Beginner – Static Knee Forearm Plank – Start with your knees together and on the ground. Place your elbows directly under your shoulders and rest your weight on your forearms. Flatten your spine, and press through your elbows to keep your chest from falling forward. Suck your navel into your spine and tighten your abdominals. Look straight down, allowing your neck to stay aligned with your spine.

Static Forearm Plank

Intermediate – Static Forearm Plank – Start with your toes together and on the ground. Place your elbows directly under your shoulders and rest your weight on your forearms. Flatten your spine, and press through your elbows to keep your chest from falling forward. Suck your navel into your spine and tighten your abdominals. Look straight down, allowing your neck to stay aligned with your spine.

Static 1 Leg Forearm Plank

Advanced – One Leg Forearm Plank – Start with your toes together and on the ground. Place your elbows directly under your shoulders and rest your weight on your forearms. Flatten your spine, and press through your elbows to keep your chest from falling forward. Suck your navel into your spine and tighten your abdominals. Look straight down, allowing your neck to stay aligned with your spine. Lift one leg off the ground to challenge your stability. Be sure to alternate legs.

Static Knee Forearm Plank

Beginner – Static Knee Forearm Side Plank – Start with your knees together and on the ground. Place your right elbow on the ground directly under your shoulder. Straighten your spine, tighten your abdominals, and look straight ahead. Hold. Repeat on the left side. Once you reach one minute on each side with little struggle, then progress to the next level.

Static Low Side Forearm Plank

Intermediate/Advanced – Static Side Forearm Plank – Start with your feet together and on the ground, keep your knees lifted and the body in one straight line. Place your right elbow on the ground directly under your shoulder. Straighten your spine, tighten your abdominals, and look straight ahead. Hold. Repeat on the left side. Once you reach one minute on each side with little struggle, then progress to the next level.

Once you’ve chosen a level to follow, use this tracker for how long to hold your planks each day:

30-Day Plank Challenge Tracker

Use this month to build your core with other Health Alliance employees and me today!