Strength to the Core (Reduce Waist Size)

How many of us would benefit from having a smaller waist size? I think the majority feel that it would be a good idea… especially those over 40! Gosh…being over 40, these pounds seem to slip onto the waistline so easily!!

One thing is for sure…taking time to do core work at least a couple times a week definitely makes a difference. By working those core muscles, they become smaller, stronger and more compact (thus a smaller waist size) it has definitely made a difference for me!  The moves I am doing in the video are part of a 16 min Core workout that I do at least twice per week.  It was very hard to start with, but I have been doing this for 3 months now and my core is already MUCH stronger!

The side benefits of having a strong core is that you are stronger and better in other sports and activities (everything from hockey, to running to horseback riding!)  and have a stronger back and less prone to injury!  My back pain is almost non-existent since working on my core regularly!

Core work is definitely worth it…?


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Benefit of Planks (It may look easy, but…)


If you have never tried doing a plank, it may look rather easy, but this is deceiving.   Holding this position takes a LOT of endurance in your abdominal muscles, back muscles and core.  This morning, I was working on core workout and was having aching in my shoulders, so figured a checkup on my plank form was in order… this is the beauty of having photo and video on our phones… its easy to take shots of ourself doing positions and analyze it to see what we are doing wrong!

Reminding myself of proper plank form here and analyzing the mistakes I made, so I will share them with you

  1.  Hold elbows directly under shoulders and place wrists in line with elbows.(I need to avoiding placing my hands too close together, this creates internal rotation and can cause instability at shoulder joint)
  2. Push body up into upper back and hold chin close to your neck (like you are holding a small apple between chin and throat).  I need to to tilt my chin more towards my chest to reduce strain on my neck and allow me to more fully use my abs and pull my belly button in)
  3. Hold abdominals tight, contracting them, squeeze your buttock muscles and thigh muscles at the same time while breathing regularly (don’t hold your breath)
  4. Hold plank 20-30 seconds, rest then repeat (I was trying to hold the plank too long and was losing my form…I learned its better to do short planks several times, than trying to do one long plank with loss of form!)
  5. Start doing plank using elbows and toes (drop to knees if needed) and progress to high plank when you feel you have developed the necessary strength

These are hard!  …What do we need to do planks for?

  1.  Reducing back pain!   Planks help back pain because they strengthen your core which helps to reduce back pain.  It especially helps lower back pain and because there is minimal movement in the exercise, the chance of injury is very low.
  2. Improve balance and posture!  Having a strong core helps posture and balance.  There are various types of plank exercises which work the core from all angles such as side planks as well.
  3. Tone up core!  Planks are good for working on the deeper core muscles that give a good foundation for tightening up those abs!

There are many benefits to doing work on our core which I wrote about in another post in the recent past…take a few minutes to check that out…I posted a video and tips to help you get started on building your core on that post.

For today, I am glad I took the time to learn about how to improve my plank form and will build on this moving forward.  I typically do plank work almost every day, so having proper form is so important so that I do not injure myself!  I hope that you found this helpful and will take some time to work on your core strength each day.  Every 20-30 seconds you put in doing a plank will make a difference and will be worth it!

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How to Reduce Arthritic Joint Pain Naturally (Exercises To Decrease Pain and Increase Mobility)


Tai Cheng is slow and gentle exercise, but effective for joint health.
Tai Cheng is slow and gentle exercise, but effective for joint health and pain reduction.


Illness and injury can make it feel impossible to move, much less work out.I know.

I injured my hand recently, and it makes exercising difficult sometimes.

I’ve had to adapt. Thankfully, the sports medicine doctors said my hand is healing well and won’t need surgery. Still, I need to be mindful of the limitation while it heals.

Working out is possible, even when we have pain. Actually, working out can actually help with our pain. We just have to adapt.

Today I want to talk about a specific kind of pain; arthritis.

The joint inflammation of arthritis causes can be painful and exhausting. While medication is often used to manage pain, it’s really not enough.

As a Nurse Practitioner and zealous proponent for prevention, I often see the element of exercise is overlooked as an effective management tool for many kinds of arthritis.

Physical activity is critical, even for someone with arthritis.

Regular exercise maintains and strengthens muscles, keeps them flexible, and even helps control pain and swelling in the joints. Beyond the physiological benefits, exercise has its psychological rewards too – decreasing stress, improving mood, and having a relaxing effect. Exercise is a powerful tool.

Exercises to Decrease Pain and Increase Mobility

There are a lot of different ways to approach exercise for pain management. (People with arthritis are much more capable of activity than they often think.) Here are a a few exercises to reduce pain and increase mobility, among other benefits. Key thing to remember – many exercises can be adapted to your strength and fitness level. Don’t be afraid to experiment.

Chair Stand

Stand in front of a chair, with back of knees touching chair. Place your hands on the arms of the chair, shoulder width apart. Then, supporting your weight on your arms, bend at the elbow, lowering yourself a bit and then pushing yourself back up. You will be able to dip your butt down lower to the seat of the chair as time goes on once you get stronger.  You can even start this exercise by lowering yourself to the seat of your chair slowly and deliberately each time you go to sit. This activity alone will strengthen your arms more than you can imagine!

Yoga, Tai Cheng, Pilates/Piyo

Did you know stretching strengthens muscles? It does. And methods like yoga, Tai Cheng and piyo/pilates are fantastic programs for it. Can’t get out to the club? No problem – they can come to you in at-home DVD programs! Caution: as with any of these options, check with your doctor or NP first. It is important to start slowly and gradually increase the exercises as you get stronger.   Be sure to do this and don’t overdo it too fast or you may be vulnerable to injury.


Don’t underestimate the power of going for a walk every day. Movement gets our blood flowing, muscles working, and the body functioning more optimally. This is essential for reducing pain and inflammation in the joints. Whether you do it on a treadmill, out on the road, or on an Elliptical machine for reduced joint impact, the point is to get moving.

 Aquasize / Aqua-therapy

Check your local pool or YMCA for aqua-size class times. You may be fortunate enough to have a therapeutic pool in your area, which is even better for arthritis. There, water is kept at a warmer temperature (25.5 – 28°C), and the pool has access ramps for easier entry.

Weight Lifting

Yes, weight lifting is not only possible for someone with arthritis pain, but highly beneficial. As with many of these options, it’s best to get professional advice from your medical practitioner or fitness coach about how to proceed, but don’t let that stop you!


If walking impacts the joints too much, or you just happen to enjoy cycling, it’s a great alternative to get that blood flowing to muscles and joints. Hit the road for a scenic trip, or hop on a stationary bike at home or in a gym.  It is a good idea to combine this with yoga or Tai Cheng to ensure you have good balance before heading out on the road!


A wealth of active recreation options can be beneficial too, if done carefully. Such activities include golf, hiking, raking, curling, bowling, or gardening. The important thing is to do something that’s both comfortable and enjoyable.

 Benefits of Exercise to Arthritis:

The physical benefits of exercise to someone with arthritis are huge. Low-impact aerobics, strength training, and other activities listed above can help reduce joint stiffness (and prevent stiffness too!), build muscle, improve endurance, and benefit your heart and bones. Plus, you’ll feel great too – your mood will be improved, stress and anxiety reduced, and you’ll feel more relaxed.

Don’t know where to start? I can help.

Find out which at home fitness programs would benefit you most, or how clean eating will transform your health too!  (join the facebook clean eatery group by clicking HERE).

Take a few minutes to watch this Tai Cheng Video.…  To do this complete program may totally change your life!!

Once you get stronger and want to build up your core strength, you may be ready to move on to Piyo, which is an incredible program that combines pilates and yoga to help with back pain and create a solid core and strong muscles!

To get set up on a home-based programs or if you would like further information about options and recommendations, please CONTACT ME.

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The Benefits of Core Work (and How You Can Improve Your Life Too)

Working the core can be SUPER fun if you find the right program
Working the core can be SUPER fun if you find the right program

There are many benefits that I have noticed from working on my core strength. I used to have intermittent severe back pain that would incapacitate me for days, back aches, hip soreness, and even knee and neck pain.

If you have experienced this you will know what I mean here… Lower back issues that are acutely flaring up can cause the pain and muscle tightness to spread all over the back and body even leading to neck issues, headaches and more! In addition, having pain issues even intermittent, can lead to decreased mood, frustration and the use of pain killers which come with their own wonderful side effects to endure.

So what can be done about this?

Core strengthening leads to greater stability of the muscles surrounding the spine, hips and abdomen. By having greater stability here, it reduces movement within the spine that can lead to inflammation and pain.

I am currently on round 3, day 12 of this core blasting program and I notice a huge change in how I feel, my core feels super strong and agile and having no more back pain! What a relief this is! Being without pain is totally life changing!

Why strengthen Core?

The “core” is a term used to describe just about everything on your body that isn’t your legs and arms. This means you can think of your glutes, hips, abdominal muscles, inner abdominal muscles, pelvic floor, and scapula as your core. Your core is where your power is generated in order to carry out any movement. While abdominal and inner abdominal muscles do play a large roll in core stability, they don’t make up the core all by themselves.

Beyond the management of pain and disability, working the core can really improve our performance in other activities as well.. with a strong core, we will be a better runner, horse back rider, jumper, court sports performer, hockey player plus have more stability in every-day activities such as picking things off the floor, lifting children or grandchildren, hauling in groceries, cleaning the house and so much more!  To be able to do all of these functional activities with power, confidence and without injury is what we want, isnt it?

Tips to Strengthen your Core…

If a person is just a beginner with core work, the exercises should look a little different and please don’t focus only on the ab muscles in the front with crunches.  Only doing crunches in the setting of an already weak core can have a negative impact on your spine!

It is important to start gentle if you are a beginner with core work.   Timothy Bell does a good job giving you 5 exercises to start with to get your core muscles working for you…Check out the 4 minute video below that explains each exercise for you.  Perform each exercise back to back for the below prescribed time and reps and do this every day for the most benefit

  1. Bird Dog – 10-second holds, 8 reps per side
  2. Band Anti Rotation – 10-second holds, 8 reps per side
  3. Dead Bugs – 8 reps per side, alternating sides each rep
  4. Clam Shell – 10-second holds, 10 reps per side
  5. Tummy Vacuums – 5-second holds, 8 reps

Once you have built the strength of your core and you would like to consider more advanced core training, you may want to consider joining a Core Blasting Fitness Challenge with me.  CONTACT ME once you are feeling ready for this.

Working on and optimizing your core strength can totally change your life.  It has for me and to no longer be suffering with pain, or use of medications is a much better existence overall!

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