10 Exercises You Can Do with a Desk Chair

This post is sponsored by Wonderful Pistachios. All opinions—as always!—are my own. I appreciate your support of the brands that make this blog possible. 🙂

When it comes to staying healthy at work, I realize I have an advantage. In many ways, being healthy is my work. Teaching group fitness keeps me active, and when I’m not doing that I have the flexibility to work from home (or anywhere) and schedule my own workouts whenever is best that day.

The irony of being in the fitness industry, however, is that as you spend more and more time helping others get their workouts in, you have less and less time for your own. There was a time when I was teaching way too many classes a week and I found myself exhausted and completely run down. Now I know my teaching limit and stick to it, but back then I’d find myself without the energy to do my own workouts. And the more tired I became, the more I craved sugar and caffeine. I had overextended myself and was becoming less fit.

Another challenge for me that comes with working from home is the snacking. My desk is five steps from my kitchen and my go-to method of procrastination has always been eating (I go HAM on the snacks when I have a blogging deadline haha). My refrigerator and pantry are full of healthy foods so it’s not that what I’m snacking on is a big deal, it’s just the amount. If I have a family-size bag of trail mix in front of me, for example, I’ll absentmindedly eat the whole thing by the handful while answering emails. Oopsies.

For this reason, when I have a heavy work load, I’m all about keeping snacks around that aren’t as easy to eat mindlessly. It sounds silly, but if I have to work a little harder for it, it slows me down and forces me to really focus and enjoy the food. Oranges (pause and peel), cherries (spit out the pits), and pistachios (crack open each shell) are among my favorites.

Wonderful Pistachios, The Mindful Nut, are one of the highest-protein, highest-fiber nuts around. They’re also one of the lowest-fat and lowest-calorie nuts (which is why they also call it The Fit Nut),, making them a great alternative to snacks high in added sugars and saturated fat (almost 90% of the fat found in pistachios is unsaturated). I love the shelled packs so I don’t rush through my snack, but they also come in a no-shells variety which is great if you want to use them as a salad topper without having to remove shells.

Wonderful Pistachios has a giveaway and coupon for you guys (scroll down), but before I get to that, I thought it’d be fun to share some exercises you can do with a desk chair—in case snacking healthy at work isn’t enough for you. 😉

10 Exercises You Can Do with a Desk Chair

You don’t necessarily have to do these at your desk (if you have cube mates that might elicit a few stares), but these are a few of my favorite exercises using a chair.

Try picking five of the above exercises and performing them in a circuit: 45 seconds of work / 15 seconds of rest. Complete the circuit two – four times for a quick office (or at-home!) workout.

#WorkSmartSnackSmart Giveaway

Wonderful Pistachios wants to see how you Snack Smarter at work. All you have to do to enter is post a photo on Instagram of your healthy workspace and include the hashtags #WorkSmartSnackSmart and #WPGiveaway and tag @GetCrackin.

Ten randomly selected winners will get a case of No Shells Roasted & Salted Wonderful Pistachios Shelled, Roasted and Salted and a case of the Roasted & Salted Wonderful Pistachios Multipack, Roasted and Salted. One grand prize winner will get an office refresh complete with Wonderful Pistachios and other Wonderful products for a full year and a custom Wonderful Pistachios branded refrigerator. Full contest terms here.

If you don’t win, you can still save with the discount code 20SNCKSMRT9. That will get you 20% off either 32oz Roasted Salted Wonderful Pistachios or 6oz shelled Wonderful Pistachios through 7/28. Promo code valid while supplies last.

What’s your favorite workday snack?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Wonderful Pistachios. The opinions and text are all mine.

Getting Back on Track with Working Out and Eating Healthy (My Thoughts)

So the other day, I jokingly (but seriously) asked those who watch my Instagram stories if they ever wondered if bloggers and influencers make up their own questions when they do Q&As on Snapchat and Insta. I’ve always assumed that if I ever tried to do a Q&A no one would ask any questions and then I’d be super embarrassed and probably have to do just that (make up my own questions) to avoid committing total social suicide (LOL).

Even though I didn’t ask for questions, I was pleasantly surprised to receive some in response (maybe those influencers aren’t making up their own after all?!). And I have so many thoughts on one of the questions that I decided to dedicate a whole blog post to it. The question:

What is your go-to when you want to get back on track, both in the kitchen and with workouts?

In this post I’m going to give some actionable tips and advice for this, but I think it needs to be done in the context of a broader discussion of the topic of falling off track with healthy living. So let’s do just that!

Changing My Mindset: I’m Never “Off Track”

Over the years, my mindset has changed drastically. In college, days were either “good” (ate pristinely and minimally and worked out) or “bad” (binge ate ice cream, cookie dough, pizza and was completely inactive). In my mind, there was no middle ground, and as a result I would swing violently between the two extremes.

I was putting so much pressure on myself to be perfectly “healthy” that any slip-up, no matter how small, was seen as failure and I’d consider the whole day a loss, binging on junk food and telling myself I’d just start again fresh the next day. I was either 110% on track or 110% off the rails.

But over the years, I’ve found that the less pressure I put on myself to be perfectly “good” when it comes to eating healthy and exercising, the easier it is to be just that. The less I think about working out and eating my veggies as things I absolutely have to do, the more enjoyable they become. I now honestly look forward to working out and genuinely prefer to eat nutrient-dense foods. Because I don’t punish myself or feel guilty for skipping a workout or indulging in dessert, doing those things doesn’t send me into a tailspin of bad health decisions.

Some people thrive when given a specific training schedule and/or meal plan. I am not one of those people. As far as I’ve come with this whole moderation thing, I still have a bit of the all-or-nothing impulse, so for me, rigid structure doesn’t work. One misstep from the plan makes me feel like a failure, and there’s a sense of obligation that comes with it which totally zaps the joy out of the activity/meal for me.

I’ve found that for me, healthy living is a life without restrictions or fixed guidelines when it comes to food and exercise. I’m never off track. The track I’m on curves and loops at times, but stressing about those detours only makes them worse and longer. Enjoying the view and accepting the detour as a part of life makes it much more enjoyable (and easier to get back on course!).

As the negative chatter in my mind has quieted, I’ve become better able to listen to my body and give it what it wants and needs. I eat what my body craves and I do the workouts I feel like doing and enjoy. I switch things up all the time so I’m never getting bored, and if I do get bored, I just stop doing that type of workout. A big reason I don’t often feel “off track” anymore is because I don’t hold myself to a specific workout regiment or type of diet. Am I eating mostly nutrient-dense meals? Am I moving my body and challenging it physically? If so, I’m good.

There are SO MANY ways to move our bodies, there’s no reason to do something you dread. Plus, if you hate something, your chances of sticking to it regularly are slim. Find a workout you enjoy and then integrate others that support it. For example, if you love running, make that your focus. But mix in some yoga and strength training to help you run stronger and injury-free.

Now I realize if you’re an elite athlete or have specific physical performance goals this laid-back approach might not suffice, but if you’re just looking to be healthy and feel good, the formula is a lot simpler than you might think. Don’t overcomplicate it!

How I Get Back into a Healthy Routine

So all that being said, everyone goes through periods of time when our daily habits aren’t the healthiest and one day turns into two which turns into a week, and before you know it, you feel a bit stuck.

The first step to getting back into a healthy routine is to acknowledge why you got off it in the first place. While it may not seem like it all the time, our bodies want to be active (with adequate rest) and nourished with healthy foods. It’s all the other shit (stress, time management, social environment, poor emotional coping mechanisms, etc., etc.) getting in the way and telling us otherwise. Trust me, you’re not being inactive and eating sugary, processed foods because your body wants you to. Figure out what’s really going on.

In recent years, when I’ve been “off track,” it’s usually because I’ve overextended myself with work and taken on too much. As my schedule becomes jammed and the stress from trying to complete everything increases, I start prioritizing work over all else, including self-care. In my brain I know that I could make time for a quick workout and that I’d feel better for having done so, but the work stress sort of paralyzes me into a woe-is-me mindset, and I stay stuck in this vicious cycle of not working out because I’m stressed, yet being stressed because I’m not working out. So work stress is the culprit at the surface, and the deeper issue is probably that I need to learn to say “no” and recognize my work load limits.

Depending on what your “why” is, the solution will vary. For me, the broader fix is that I need to learn to say “no”. On a more immediate scale, however, there’s something I like to do in these funks that I think most of us could benefit from doing once in a while: To get out of an unhealthy routine, I take a “me” day.

Now when you hear the term “me day,” images of indulgence might come to mind. But the type of “me day” that I’m talking about is one in which you give yourself what you need, which is not necessarily the same thing as what you want (but hopefully they’re not too far off).

I’m not suggesting you completely blow off all your responsibilities and pull a Ferris Bueller—I’m suggesting realistic self-care. When I read articles on the topic of self care that suggest you meditate for two hours a day, practice yoga all morning and take a six hour bath each evening, I always think, Gurrrrrl, who’s paying your damn bills?! Because clearly it’s not you. LOL.

If you have a corporate job, maybe you plan your “me day” for a Sunday. If you’re a mom, maybe it’s a “me afternoon” where you treat yourself to a babysitter. The point is to make time to give yourself what you need.

It’s honestly been a while since I’ve felt the need to do this, but I’d schedule my “me day” for a day I don’t teach or a weekend day. I’d go to bed early the night before—even if that meant leaving some work unfinished—and would workout first thing in the morning (my favorite time of day). I’d do a fitness class at one of my go-to studios and eat a healthy breakfast afterwards. I’d go grocery shopping and fill the kitchen with healthy foods and do some cooking while listening to one of my favorite podcasts. I’d probably still do some blog work because I genuinely love what I do, but I’d do the fun parts—writing, photography, picture editing. I’d end the day with some yoga and meditation.

It’s a day of prioritizing what I’ve been neglecting. Some work might be left undone, but that’s ok because I’m investing in myself and am ultimately way more productive when I do. That one day leaves me feeling invigorated, refreshed, and ready to get back to work *without* sacrificing my healthy routine. It serves as a little reminder to my body how amazing it feels to eat quality food and exercise.

Motivated and moving forward from there, I’ll get my workout in first thing in the morning before work and excuses come into play and I’ll be sure to eat a healthy breakfast. If I start my day on that note, there’s usually a ripple effect of good choices throughout the rest of it.

I love this idea of a “me day” involving exercising and eating well. We tend to associate things like spending a lot of money, indulging in sugary foods, and drinking that extra cocktail with “treating ourselves” (#TREATYOSELF). Those things aren’t bad—I’d even encourage them from time to time!—but to a certain degree I think we need to switch the narrative in our minds. Working out and choosing quality foods is something we get to do, not have to do. Exercising and eating healthily are not a punishment, they’re a treat. I think when we make this mindset shift, that’s when health becomes a lifestyle and not just a track from which we fall off and on.

And in my experience, the longer health is a lifestyle, the easier it is to maintain. If I haven’t worked out in five days because I’ve been on vacation, I’m genuinely excited for that first workout back. It’s not something I need to force myself to do, I want to workout. And because I’ve been consistent with eating reasonably healthy for years, after a weekend of eating sweets and not-so-great foods, I actually crave a salad or green juice.

Ok, longest post ever, but one more thought before I wrap it up:

The number one thing we need to understand about fitness and eating healthy is that it’s going to look different for everyone. Ultimately you need to find what works for you and in giving tips on these topics, I’m just sharing what’s worked for me. Really the best advice I can give is to get to know yourself. And when you think you know what makes you tick and why you do the things you do, prod a little deeper.

 

12-Minute Dumbbell Tabata Workout with Holds

This tabata dumbbell workout replaces the traditional 10 seconds of rest with a 10-seconds isometric hold.

Hope you all had a great weekend! I spent mine in Boston for the first time in what feels like forever and worked pretty much the entire time but was SO HAPPY TO DO SO. I love summer, but I also love routine and the two seldom coexist for me. The result is this constant feeling of being behind on everything (work, self-care, etc.) and it was nice to play catch-up this weekend.

Today’s dumbbell tabata workout was inspired by the 12-minute bodyweight series I posted last summer (upper body, core, lower body (<–the most popular workout on my YouTube channel!), full body 1, full body 2). Those workouts were a big hit so I decided to do a twist on those.

12-Minute Dumbbell Tabata Workout with Holds

This video is sponsored by my friends at MegaFood. One of my favorite things about this brand is that their products are made with whole foods. They source produce from farms around the country to incorporate into their vitamins and supplements.

Equipment I Used:

A traditional tabata is 8 rounds of 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest. For today’s workout, we’re replacing the rest with isometric holds.

As with all workouts, make sure to properly warm up beforehand. I have a 5-minute warm up on my YouTube channel that’s perfect to do at home.

This tabata dumbbell workout replaces the traditional 10 seconds of rest with a 10-seconds isometric hold.

Tabata 1

  • Thread the Needle in Side Plank | Start in a side forearm plank with your right forearm down on the ground, elbow stacked under shoulder. Hold the dumbbell in your left hand and reach it up to the ceiling. Feet can be stacked or staggered but if you’re using a heavier weight, I’d recommend staggered with the top foot in front of the bottom so that you have a supportive base when you rotate. From here, thread the weight under and across your chest as you rotate your chest to the floor and square your hips. Return to the starting position. Alternate sides each round.
  • Plank Hold

Tabata 2

  • Low Squat Steps | Start in a low squat position with the weight held at your shoulders behind your head. Staying low, step your left foot back into a low lunge and then right back up to your low squat. Repeat, stepping the same foot every time. Alternate sides each round.
  • Squat Hold with Weight Extended

Tabata 3

  • Renegade Row to Plank Jump | Start in a plank position, right hand gripping the dumbbell, left hand on the ground. Row the right elbow up to the ceiling, bringing the weight to the side of your torso. Return it to the ground and do a plank jump, jumping the feet up wide to the sides of your hands and then right back to plank. Alternate which arm has the weight each round.
  • Squat Hold with Weight at Chest

This tabata dumbbell workout replaces the traditional 10 seconds of rest with a 10-seconds isometric hold.

WEARING | alo yoga tank – old but I love their new lace-up tanks // michi ny leggings – old but this pair is basically the same // fierce + regal bra // nike sneakers

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