My Fitness Routine: Muscle-Conditioning, Bellicon, and Yoga

Well it took me a couple of months, but finally talking about my fitness routine. Why? I get a lot of questions about what I do to stay in shape. I’m happy to share more about my routine. But first let’s backtrack a little, because I’d like for you to know that anyone can start and maintain an exercise program.

fitnesspostequipment

I wasn’t an athletic child. I would bike ride and roam on my bike and play spotlight late into summer evenings with my friends, but I wasn’t a sporty kid. We didn’t have a lot of organized athletics as kids, and I wasn’t really that interested either. I was a little heavy as a young girl, so did not feel particularly comfortable in organized sports. In my teens I picked up tennis, loved it, and played for years. But, other than tennis I wasn’t very athletic. Later in my teens I began exercising at home. Those were the days of Jane Fonda and 20-minute workouts. Then, into my 20s I started going to gyms, working on the machines and also doing fitness classes. With all the exercise I was doing, I didn’t see significant changes in my body – how it looked or how it felt. Some, but not a lot. So, I would slug it out for hours at the gym, coming home wiped out and eating skinless, boneless chicken breasts for protein. How much I’ve learned since then.

While I was working out hard, my workouts were hardly working. Because my diet never changed much, I continued to eat meat and dairy, just what I thought were healthier versions of them (low-fat meats, low-fat dairy). Looking back, I also didn’t eat a lot of whole fruits and vegetables, but rather many more “low-fat” choices like Lean Cuisine – I kept them in business for a couple of years. As I mentioned, I carried extra weight as a child, and then in my early teens I gained a lot of weight after my dad passed. Through those years I developed some poor dietary habits and understood very little (mostly nothing) about real food. So, the gimmicks of the low-cal and fat-free era totally sucked me in. Lean Cuisine, meet Snackwells.

It wasn’t until I removed the animal products that I saw my body change, more naturally. I was still eating generally a more processed diet. So, it wasn’t until I gravitated towards more whole plant-foods that I really noticed my body change – not just in how it looked but also how it felt.

At 43 and after three kids, I feel better, and am in better shape than I was at 23.

Now when I see people working out hard just for weight loss, I want to run over and talk to them about diet. I’ve seen through my personal experience, and also many of you, that fitness is far more about diet than exercise. There are some quotes circulating like this…

fitness80percentnutrition

While those numbers can be disputed, there is truth to the message. Overall fitness is much more about what we EAT everyday, rather than how we workout.

If diet is such a big part of healthy weight maintenance, why bother with exercise? For strength, bone health, cardiovascular improvements, and for that great mental and physical boost. Also, exercise may be another way we connect with friends or simply enjoy an activity that we love!

I exercise just about every day. But, not for very long. Most days it’s about a 20-25 minute session. And, I exercise not to lose weight, but for strength and tone – and also for sanity! Does that make sense? When my day starts with 20 minutes on my rebounder, yoga, or some strength-training, I feel better. I shake off the cobwebs so to speak and move on with my day!

So, what DO I do? As I mentioned, my workouts are usually not more than a 1/2 hour. I realize that seems like very little time. But, you can exercise efficiently in 20-30 minutes, and for my body frame and activity level (always moving with the kids and on my feet!), this is what works.

Also, I workout at home. This may not work for everyone, yet it works for me. I am not someone that needs external motivation to exercise, whether that’s going to a gym or running with friends. That’s just me. After having the girls, I also found it much easier to squeeze in a workout in the mornings before they woke or before getting everyone off to school. I’ve been collecting some workout tools and ideas over my years as a mom, so that I have variety.

Fitness Ball

Fitness Ball

I have a step and BOSU, a stability/fitness ball, and recorded shows and dvds. But, in the past two years I’ve been gravitating to mostly rebounding, muscle-conditioning, and yoga – so that’s what I’ll focus on here.

Rebounding and Bellicon

I have had a mini-trampoline for quite a few years, over ten I think. I learned how rebounding was a form of cardio that was gentler on the joints, and also offered health benefits including stimulating the lymphatic system. Last year my rebounder started to wear (as you’ll see in the video). It was time to find a new one.

 

Bellicon Rebounder - with blue mat and orange bungee cords

I had heard quite a lot about the Bellicon and after some research, ordered one. I love it. I talk about some of the differences between a standard mini-trampoline and the Bellicon in the video. It’s larger, higher, is quiet, has a smoother flow for jumping, and just plain feels good! I usually alternate strength-training with rebounding, so I use my Bellicon about 4 times a week.

Sometimes little feet use it…

Sometimes Sarabi also uses it. ;-)

sarabitrampoline

And when they’re ready to share… I use it:

*Apologies for the vertical videos. We had some technical difficulties… meaning: we lost the Flipcam for 2 months… meaning: little hands. :)

As for how I jump on it and what videos I use, I incorporate a mix. First, I have been working out with fitness classes whether in gyms or online for over 20 years, so it’s not difficult for me to transfer a lot of floor moves to the Bellicon. So, I could easily spend 15-20 minutes jumping to music following my own moves. But, I do prefer to follow a routine. So, I use some online videos for rebounding, and I also have a couple of dvds (a few of the selections on these dvds are a little hokey, but many I really like, including the ‘Ballet Bound’, ‘Resistance Bound’, and ‘Kick Bound’). Between the two, it gives me a mix of routines to keep me going, and with YouTube there are often new videos every couple of months. Here is one online video I use:

Those grippy socks she mentions in the video? I have them on in photo below. In the summer I like going barefoot on the Bellicon, but when it’s cooler I wear the grippies! Love stretching out on this mat, it’s very comfy.

belliconDB

Strength-Training/Muscle Conditioning

For years I did aerobic classes, jumping and jacking and grapevining around room after room! It might have helped my cardio conditioning, but my body shape didn’t change. Later as I moved into a cleaner diet, I wasn’t looking to lose weight but rather to have more tone. Yes, I’m thin, and I’m no bodybuilder! But my body now has more muscular tone than it used to — and, in my 40s, I like my figure. That’s something I never thought I’d say in my 20s!

fitnesspostsideplank

I have some pretty loooooong arms and they have never had a lot of tone. So, I really wanted to focus on toning them up. Also, you moms might relate that after having kids, you need some upper body strength! At first it’s holding a wee babe in one arm while multi-tasking with the other hand, then later it’s carrying a wee babe in a car seat while bringing another kiddo to preschool/school. Then there are groceries, and other things that we seem to ALWAYS have at least one arm full while holding our kids with the other hand/arm. I don’t know about you, but that made me feel (1) lopsided and (2) desiring more upper-body OOMPH!

This past year I focused even more on increasing my upper body and core strength. I use a combination of online videos and some sets of weights. I’ve really noticed a difference in my shoulders and arms in the last six months, so I know that my workouts have been effective. As with rebounding, I usually do about 20-25 minutes, and take a day rest in between (those days I usually rebound or do some yoga). If the videos are short (10 minutes), then I often combine two arm videos or do one arm video and one ab/core video. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Fitness Blender. These workouts are very methodical and detailed with instructions. Plus, there are MANY videos to choose from, so you won’t bore easily. From squats to crunches to planks to cardio to arms and shoulders – Fitness Blender has it all covered! Some videos are rather long for me (hour), so I choose the shorter clips (roughly 20-30 minutes), or do a portion of a longer video. Currently, I’m using these videos a lot for upper-body toning, and I love them!

2. XHIT. These also provide a great variety of workouts, and most are quite short so you can squeeze in a 10 minute ab session or a 10 minute arm workout and they are still quite effective! There are a few different hosts, but Rebecca Louise is featured in the majority – and I was somewhat hooked for a few months. So much so that our 4 year old would say when waking up “look mommy, I’m stretching like Rebecca Louise!” I enjoyed her personality, some humor and silliness in her clips, and also her energy.

XHIT also incorporates a number of plank exercises in their videos. I love planking!

fitnesspostplank

But, this is the craziest plank workout I have done to date. c-RAZ-y!

3. Tracy Campoli. Tracy also has a great variety of strength-training workouts, plus she includes some cardio and other segments. With her workouts, I like how she keeps us mindful of full-body integration, keeping the core engaged and working out smart not just working out! She doesn’t use heavy weights, more body weight and light weight with lots of repetition. But again – effective! Her ab workouts are the BEST. My favorite, and when our daughter needs some core training for hockey, I get her doing Tracy’s ab workouts.

4. FitSugar. This is where I started with online workouts. Just doing some searching on YouTube and I came across some terrific arm workouts on FitSugar. The segments are also pretty short, most about 10-15 minutes. Recently I found a couple of Anna Kaiser videos in the FitSugar channel. Her videos are wicked-effective! Caution: You will be sore!

Yoga

This is one area of exercise I know I should do more often. Anyone relate to that? I tend to go for the “rush” that I get from rebounding or strength training. Yet, I know my body can often benefit from more stretching, deep breathing, loosening… mindfulness. One of the best programs for this wholeness in yoga is also on YouTube: Namaste Yoga. Melissa delivers yoga programs every week as well as supplemental wellness videos. Definitely subscribe to her free videos if you are interested in learning more. She is knowledgeable and well-trained. And, she cares. You can feel how much she cares about her viewers and connecting with individuals and helping them address specific concerns. She is very real in her videos, and I appreciate how she helps us not take it all too seriously while making it meaningful.

Another set of videos I have found come from Bryan Jones. Bryan’s videos can be quite advanced, probably better described as power yoga – just a note if you are beginning with yoga. Sometimes when I want to do strength training but don’t feel like using weights, I’ll tune into one of Bryan’s videos.

Speaking of yoga, I also discovered an amazing Canadian yoga clothing company through Melissa West. In her videos, she sports yoga wear from Squeezed Yoga Clothing. Here’s I am wearing their bamboo skirt. I love this skirt and wore it most of the summer. And, I haven’t stopped wearing it! I’ve found a way to pair it with leggings through the fall because I just wasn’t able to part with it into the cool months. (And, I’ve since bought another!) Later this month I will do a more complete post to share more about Squeezed Yoga, because they are a beautiful company worth knowing!

Wearing Squeezed Yoga bamboo skirt - LOVE this skirt!

Wearing Squeezed Yoga bamboo skirt – LOVE this skirt!

This is what works for me. I’d like to hear from YOU. How does exercise fit into your healthy lifestyle? Do you have a regular routine? Or, do you need some motivation/inspiration to get started? If any of the ideas I’ve shared help you, please let me know. And, if any of you have other programs – online or otherwise – to share, please do! I’d love to know that we can help each other with exchange of ideas here.

Sending you plant-powered health and happiness… :)
Dreena

30 Responses to My Fitness Routine: Muscle-Conditioning, Bellicon, and Yoga

  1. Loved all this. Thanks for posting! Great ideas and videos. As a runner for 33 years, I’ve tried to swear it off going to rebounding, thinking it would be easier on the joints. I’ve tried several different brands and every time, I get to the point fairly quickly when my knees start hurting.

    As a runner, I find the rebounders hurt my knees way more than running a marathon. As a personal trainer and running coach, I also find that different things work for different people. I thought I’d mention it just in case if there are those who have this experience, you don’t feel like you’re alone in that. I do try to always run on soft surfaces, though with racing, that’s not often an option.

    Keep up the great work. You look awesome!!!
    Ellen Jaffe Jones recently posted..Activism, Getting Active and AthleticsMy Profile

  2. Amber says:

    Thank you so much for this inspiring post. I looked up Rebecca Louise and LOVE HER!!!! She has found a way into my exercise-phobe heart. <3
    Unlike many of the other workouts I have tried, they fit my 10 minute attention span and I have no desire to pummel my fist into the tv ( as I have with so many other smug faced "trainers") Again Thank you so much for letting us into your life & inspiring us at the same time. Love you to bits!!

  3. Rebekah says:

    Thank you for posting this! I love knowing that you keep so fit at home with your kids, because that is so empowering to all us moms who read your blog to know that it is possible to squeeze in a little workout at home! I am a pole dance fitness instructor, so I get plenty of strength training and muscle conditioning. But our workouts are very yoga-based and we don’t do a lot of fast dancing, and I’ve recently realized that I need to incorporate aerobic conditioning into my lifestyle. I would love to get a rebounder but the bellicon is a bit out of my budget right now – do you mind sharing the brand that you had before? It would be great to get started with it while I save my pennies for the bellicon, and I’m sure with 3 kids I could always pass the cheaper brand on to them for play! Thanks!

  4. matthieu says:

    Hey, i like to build muscles naturally :)
    It is really great.
    matthieu recently posted..The 1 reason why I work outMy Profile

  5. Julie says:

    Dreena, this is news to me, why? Because I had no idea (and would have never, ever supposed) that you are 43. I thought you were between 32 and at oldest 35. Why? Because you are absolutely vibrant and so healthy and young looking!

    What you said about feeling better than you did at 23 totally rings home to me! I am 28 and 3 years plant-based, and each year I feel better and better than the one before. I feel soooo much better than I did at 18, 19, 20, etc.

    You are a total inspiration that in my 40s I will continue to feel better and awesome!

    Thanks for sharing everything that you do, and thank you for your amazing recipes! I love your work!

  6. Jenni says:

    Dreena, thank you so much for sharing this post! It was definitely informative and quite helpful! Question about the Bellicon: what size and “strength” is yours? I’m thinking I need to get one! My circulation is in need of improvement. ;) Also, on a completely different note (it’s my first time commenting and I feel like I have to get it all out ;)), I’m a new mom and recently got your Vive Le Vegan cookbook and just want to say THANK YOU SO MUCH for the information in the back on feeding solids to the little one! She just started this week! I’m encouraged to see your girls thriving on a vegan diet, and hopefully it is one our own family will continue to maintain together. My husband and I have been on a 90% vegan diet for the past two years (for health reasons) and I’ve truly enjoyed it (though it’s hard to give up cream in the coffee!). It has made a difference, praise God! Anyway, thank you so much for inspiring us all to healthful living!! And for your love of chocolate chips!! ;) (It is mutual!!)

  7. Rebecca says:

    Once I (finally) realized and accepted that I truly despise gyms, my fitness routine changed completely for the better. I now work out for reasons that have very little to do with calorie-burning. I work out because it makes me feel good, and because my work outs give more back to me than I even put into them.

    My routine is simple:

    I belong to a yoga studio and take various classes several times a week (though My Yoga Online and YogaGlo.com are great at-home yoga options).

    For days I don’t take a yoga class, I ADORE Ellen Barrett’s DVDs (also available online). She has a mind/body approach and her workouts all incorporate cardio, stretch, and strength (either using body weight, or 2-3lb hand weights). They’re all done barefoot on a yoga mat, and draw upon the best of yoga, pilates, and dance. They’re fantastic, and I highly recommend them. Ellen was was originally introduced me to the idea that I could truly *enjoy* working out.

    Great post, Dreena!

    -x-
    Rebecca

  8. Cassandra says:

    Great post and tips, Dreena! Thank you! I discovered Fitness Blender recently and have been hooked. I love to run in the great outdoors, but the weather in Chicago doesn’t always cooperate. :-) I, too, like shorter workouts because I usually do them on my lunch hour. Nothing boosts my mood and squashes stress like those exercise-induced endorphins!
    Cassandra recently posted..Work in Progress: Procrastination and the Fixed SelfMy Profile

  9. Anne says:

    Thank you for this post! Lots of good info. Would you consider posting before and after pictures from before/after you went plant based?

  10. Carol Smyth says:

    I completely agree that what you put in your mouth is far more important than how much time you spend working out. I have always eaten well and worked out consistently. This summer I challenged myself to a 365-day fitness challenge and I thought I’d be able to eat whatever I wanted. I’m 130+ days in and a big lesson learned. I actually started gaining weight even though I’m working out every single day (min 1hr). I’m feeling great from all the fitness but it doesn’t keep the weight off, not without proper nutrition.

  11. Thank you so much for giving us a peek into your fitness routine. The rebounder looks so much fun. I might just have to invest in one of those!
    Like you, I’ve never felt fitter or healthier than since I transitioned to a plant-based diet. I never imagined that, in my 40s, I would be in better shape than in my 20s. It clearly shows that it’s never too late to start on the path to better health & fitness :)
    My favourite way to exercise is in the ‘great outdoors’. I’m lucky enough to live next to a river & canal, and I go for a quick 30 minute run after school drop off. I feel so refreshed and awake by the time I get back home. It really helps set me up for the day :)

  12. What a great post full of lots of great information! I completely agree with your statement on how diet is more of a factor on how we look/feel instead of exercise. I think a lot of people (me included) think that you can eat anything as long as you work it off. I’ve heard the phrase, “I run so I can eat!” which is true if you are eating a clean diet of whole, plant-based foods. ;)

    I love all of the video suggestions too, that will be great for me to change it up in the winter when I’m bored with running on the treadmill and I don’t feel like getting out my Yak Trax to run outside.

    My routine consists of usually running 3 times per week, shorter runs on weekday mornings and a long run on the weekend. It varies too if I’m training for a specific race. I love to incorporate Melissa West’s Namaste Yoga on my non-run days. It really helps to not only stretch out my muscles but it helps to calm and refocus an often very stimulated mommy brain. :)
    Christine Magiera recently posted..Recipe! Corn RisottoMy Profile

  13. Marie says:

    Wow Dreena, you look pretty good! And all it takes is a good diet and 30 minutes of exercise per day.

    I too made the transition to aerobics class, to home exercise, combined with better eating. I love that you can find lots of training videos on YouTube now. There’s so much to choose from. I’ll check out your suggestions.
    You’re right about toning. Since last spring, I’ve been using Blogilates’ YouTube videos combined with her monthly calendar to stay in shape. I never thought that toning would make such a difference. Yay for free exercise videos!

    • Dreena says:

      Thank you Marie! I’ve done some of the Blogilates as well – those are pretty intense! Great idea to have the vids connected to a monthly calendar. Thanks for the note. :)

  14. Kate says:

    I’m definitely intrigued by and a little frightened of the plank-a-thon! I’ll also be checking out that power yoga for sure. Thanks for taking the time to post all of these.

    It’s so interesting to hear about your whole story because to be honest I never would have guessed you ever dealt with having extra weight. You always look so happy healthy and vibrant.

    Unfortunately it’s not a free youtube series, but Horizontal Conditioning imo is the best core/upper body workouts I’ve ever done, and I lean towards pretty advanced workouts like Cathe Friedrich, Tracy Effinger, etc. Also the ones I have (“Getting Stronger”) are 20 minutes :)

    p.s. that little girl giggle in the first video is like prozac. I don’t have kids and I always wonder if parents get immune to it.

    • Dreena says:

      I want to check out that Horizontal Conditioning – good to know, thanks Kate! Yes, I grew up with a lot of food habits that I didn’t want for my own girls, including diets tarting in grade 4. That could be a series of posts in itself. Yet, I prefer not to focus on everything that was wrong in my childhood, rather hope to do things better now as an adult and with my kids (knowing I’ll also mess up in many areas, but doing my best). ;) As for the giggles, she is my little giggler and I love it so. But, you have reminded me never to take it for granted, our girls are such a gift. Thank you.

      Good luck with the plank-a-thon! :)

  15. Oh boy, do I have some thoughts on exercise! I love the 80/20 quote–so true. You can never outrun your fork :). After years of over-exercising (it was my job, after all), I’ve pretty much taken a hiatus from structured exercise & enjoy my daily walks with my kids. But after this baby I plan to get back into something–I miss yoga, I miss the feeling AFTER you exercise. It makes me feel better. And you’re so right, it’s about being healthy, feeling good.

    Thanks for sharing–so fun to see what you do–and such a great example of making it work, despite how busy you are with everything else. And, you look amazing for your age–what? you’re 43? I could have sworn you were 30 :). But I guess you do have a teenager (is she a teenager yet?).

    ox
    janae @ bring joy recently posted..Nearly 5 years of blogging + a new lookMy Profile

    • Dreena says:

      Oh Janae, think you earned a delivery of cookies with that comment. ;) Thanks so much. As moms we definitely need to regroup for exercise. What may have been our favorite thing to do before having babies just may not be an option or practical after. I’ve seen some of your workout clips on your blog, you have your act together, mama! (and yes, our eldest is 13 in the spring – what?!?!) Thanks for the note, always love hearing from you. Stay rested and well!!! xx

  16. Emily says:

    I’ve recently just started hooping…I looove it! I have a Hoopnotica hoop and instruction video, and there are also classes around here that I want to go to. I’ve loved yoga for a long time, but I’ve been looking for other good cardio work outs for the harsh winter. I think I need to check out that rebounder…

    Thanks for the suggestions!

    • Dreena says:

      Hooping! I could totally get into that, Emily. I’ve seen it on TV a little, and I used to love my hoola-hoop as a kiddo. So, that’s a specific brand, Hoopnotica? I have to check that out – thank you!

      • Emily says:

        Yes, they have a whole line of different hoops and DVDs. I found the level 1 DVD to be really helpful in getting started, but I’ve found a lot of free videos online as well. Enjoy!

  17. Tiffany says:

    Dreena,

    Thank you so much for this beautiful blog post! I think both diet and exercise are vital to a healthy life. But the most important aspect of it all is that exercise doesn’t have to be grueling work! I take long walks and eat a healthful diet and I’m able to maintain my weight, my walks are relaxing nothing strenuous and it fits my lifestyle. I do want to get into yoga and more strength training so I will definitely check out everything you recommended! Thanks again, your work and creativity is truly one of a kind and much appreciated! lots of love xoxo

    • Dreena says:

      Tiffany, beautifully said. I used to do a lot of walking before having the kiddos, and then again when our first was a babe I’d take her out for walks often (sometimes power walks for more cardio). I’d almost forgotten about that! Seems like a lifetime ago now. ;) I know you were keen to read this post, so hopefully it will bring you some new options for exercise that you really enjoy. And, thank you for your sweet words.

  18. Koko says:

    You always look amazing Dreena, and thank you so much for these great resources. I often work out at home! I also love the Tone It Up girls…they have great workouts on their website for free.
    Koko recently posted..Review- Vegan Desserts In Jars & Pumpkin Creme Brulee RecipeMy Profile

    • Dreena says:

      Thanks for that recommendation Koko, I haven’t tried their videos yet – I assume they’re on YouTube as well? Great to know! TY! xx

  19. Wow! This is an extremely comprehensive post Dreena, thank you so much! I love using Fitness Blender for kettlebell exercises as well as stretching. I am definitely going to check out several of the other resources you shared as well. I want to check out the clothing company too, love comfy clothes that look great!
    Anna {Herbivore Triathlete} recently posted..Vegan Cuts Snack Box ReviewMy Profile

  20. marie seery says:

    Thank you for posting all the information. Love it and hope to use it wisely.
    Marie

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