Angela

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During the holidays, we’re used to reflecting and being thankful for what we have. It’s great to count your blessings around this time of year, but have you ever thought about how awesome it would be if we were grateful year-round?

Having an attitude of gratitude year-round can be one of the simplest ways to improve your quality of life. Whether you keep a gratitude journal, gratitude jar, or simply take note of everything positive around you, there’s always something to be thankful for. Click through for simple tips and ideas on how to practice gratitude daily.*This post may contain affiliate links that earn me a small commission, at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products I personally use and love, or think my readers will find useful.

I never realized the importance of being grateful daily until I read You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero (p.s., if you haven’t read this book, you need to – it’s life changing.) Yes, I’ve heard “be thankful for what you have” a million times but it’s easier said than done and I didn’t think it would actually make a difference.

I always admired those people who were happy-go-lucky all the time, who breathed rainbows and butterflies and saw the positive in everything. But because that isn’t my personality, I thought that being positive and thankful was just not part of who I was. How is being expressively  grateful going to change anything, I thought.

Boy, was I wrong.

We’re sometimes so caught up in what we don’t have, that we forget to be thankful for what we do have. I believe in the simple concept of what you put out, you get in. The more positive vibes you put out, the more positive vibes you get back. It’s all about the energy you’re focusing on and attracting to you.

You may be thinking yeah well, I’m not into the whole you-get-out-what-you-put-in type thing. Don’t worry, science always comes in handy! Practicing gratitude daily has been proven to have numerous health benefits. It makes you more proactive, boosts your happiness, helps you sleep better, boosts your immune system, improves your resilience, and enhances your mood. Since the connection between your mind and body is so strong, being grateful is one of the simplest ways to improve your quality of life.

Being grateful only takes a few minutes out of your day and can positively impact your life tremendously.

“When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears.” – Anthony Robbins. Click To Tweet

 

What is gratitude

The Oxford dictionary defines gratitude as:

The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

Gratitude is a state of being. As Jen Sincero puts it, “truly being in a state of gratitude is about having an awareness of, and a deep appreciation for, the many miracles in your life.”

And she means miracles, as in even ordinary events because gratitude teaches you to view your life as if everything was a miracle.

Practicing gratitude daily is about rewiring your brain into a more positive state of mind, so you can see the good in everything and be thankful for the small, the big and everything in-between. Instead of grumbling about all the bad things that have happened throughout your day, you can focus on finding the goodness in your day and that in itself is incredibly beneficial for the mind, body, and soul.

 

Tips to changing your mindset to practice gratitude daily

  • Think of the big and the small that you’re grateful for, but try to focus on the specifics. Specifics tend to leave more of an impact. (e.g., Good: I’m grateful for my apartment. Best: I’m grateful for the sunshine that cracks through my bedroom window every morning.)
  • Allow yourself to be grateful for ANYTHING YOU WANT. It can be as simple as your favorite coffee mug that matches your favorite fuzzy socks or the cool brisk on your face as you walk your dog. The small, the big, the in-between – you can be grateful for whatever your heart desires.
  • Whenever something amazing, annoying or just plain negative happens think “This is good because …”. Think of the positive that is coming out of it (there’s always something!). Finding the good and the lessons in every situation, allows you to reflect on why some bad things happen for good reasons.
  • Use visual reminders that will help to remind you to be thankful. It can be a book, wall sign, candle, flower, crystal – use it as a trigger so that whenever you see it you’re reminded to be grateful.
  • Get into a practical routine. If you’re more likely to have time at night to practice gratitude, don’t try to do it in the morning and vice versa. Do what works for you.

Related post: 8 tips for building habits that stick

 

Simple ideas to practice gratitude daily

1. Gratitude list/journal

Start a daily gratitude list where you write down a few things that you’re grateful for at the beginning or end of each day. You can even start a journal where you write a detailed summary of your favorite moment of each day. Writing down what you’re grateful for on paper helps to be present and appreciative, making it easier to absorb the positive emotion.

Having an attitude of gratitude year-round can be one of the simplest ways to improve your quality of life. Whether you keep a gratitude journal, gratitude jar, or simply take note of everything positive around you, there’s always something to be thankful for. Click through for simple tips and ideas on how to practice gratitude daily.

2. Express gratitude

Telling someone how much you appreciate them and why, not only gets you practicing gratitude but it also fortifies the relationship you have with them. You can express gratitude for your favorite humans through a handwritten note, a phone call, or even a text.

So tell your co-worker how thankful you are for them staying late to help you finish a proposal, let your significant other know how much you appreciate them for making dinner, or call your mom and tell her how happy you are that she’s your mom. It may sound corny, but letting the people that surround you know how grateful you are for them produces positive and grateful feelings all around.

3. Start a gratitude jar

Like a journal, a gratitude jar holds our fondest memories that we’re thankful for – but it makes it a little more fun. Every night, write something that happened during the day that you’re grateful for on a small piece of paper and put it in a mason jar. At the end of each week, month, or year, reading through all the notes will help you think of all the great things that were happening in your life without you realizing it. If you want to involve the entire household, assign a paper color to each person and make it a gratitude party.

7 simple ideas to make gratitude a daily habit Click To Tweet

4. Morning coffee/tea/breakfast gratitude

Instead of scrolling mindlessly through Facebook as you sip on your morning drink or eat breakfast, make it a morning ritual where you simply think about what you’re grateful for. Whether it’s the aroma of your coffee or the way the morning light hits your plants, tying gratitude to an activity you already do will help you to be more consistent in your practice.

5. Make it obvious

Think about it, your environment has a big impact on how you feel. Every time you open your laptop, unlock your phone, or walk into your room or office, you’re staring at an opportunity that can be put to good use.

So plaster an inspirational gratitude quote on your phone’s wallpaper or computer’s screensaver, get a cute notebook to motivate you to practice gratitude, or buy uplifting bedroom décor. The more obvious you make gratitude in your daily space, the more you will be reminded to think positively and practice gratitude.

6. Make it a daily dinner-time question

Instead of the usual “how was your day?”, make it, “what are you thankful for that happened today?” Rather than opening the conversation with any negative things that could’ve happened, you lead it with something positive and uplifting. Not only will it help you in your gratitude practice, but it’ll also help your loved ones look for the good in their days. No better way to start dinner if you ask me!

7. Every time you go outside think about all the positive things you see

We can be in such a rush sometimes, that we forget to truly take in all the beautiful things we encounter daily. Take note of the cloudless sky (or gloomy sky, if that’s your thing), the beautiful blooming flowers on your walk to your car, the trees gracefully swaying in the wind, the way a stranger greets you with a smile. Every moment is an opportunity to stop and notice all the things we can be grateful for.


Like they say, the secret to having it all is knowing you already do. Find what works for you and take a few minutes of your day to reflect on all the good in your life. It’ll take time but the more you practice the more you’ll reap the benefits of practicing gratitude daily. There will be some days that will be easier than others, but there will always be simple pleasures to be grateful for.

Now over to you…Do you have any tips or ideas on how to practice gratitude daily?

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How many times have you said that this time you were really going to commit to your health goals, only to be back in the same spot a week later? Umm, yeah, I’ve so been there.

Building a new habit isn’t a walk in the park, I totally get it. It’s tough to be consistent when you have a million other responsibilities to worry about.

8 Tips to Building Healthy Habits That Stick| What's the secret to building habits that stick? Click through for tips and ideas on how to conquer those habits once and for all.

The key to building a consistent healthy habit is being wholeheartedly committed to making your health a priority. Learning to do something new daily gets you out of our comfort zone, which is why it’s so uncomfortable. But if you’re committed, it’s an opportunity to challenge yourself, grow as a person, and become a healthier you.

It’s important to note that building healthy habits isn’t just about exercising and eating well. If you already have that down packed, more power to you! You may or may not have heard this, but being “healthy” isn’t just about the physical aspects like eating well and exercising regularly – it’s also about what you’re thinking and saying.

If you’re in the best shape of your life and always have a green smoothie in your hand, but you’re constantly stressed and in a bad place mentally, your body is going to feel that eventually. The mind/body connection is freakishly powerful. That’s why we should all strive to build healthy habits that contribute to all aspects of our health – mind, body, and soul.

So how do you exactly build healthy habits? I’m glad you asked!

1. Commit to your health and goals

Let’s be real, it isn’t going to happen if you don’t actually want it to happen. Commit fully and completely to improving yourself. Figure out your why.

Why are you waking up before sunrise to go to yoga? Why are you trying to eat more greens? Why are you trying to improve your health? Your why is going to be different than someone else’s, so it’s important to have it crystal clear in your head so you always have it to come back to when you need to motivate yourself.

Commit to making your health a priority and to shifting your focus to the long-term. You’ll find that some habits will take less time to build, but that others take more time and effort.

2. Sync your new habit to an established habit

Think about the things you already do daily. Taking a shower, drinking your morning coffee, brushing your teeth, changing out of your work clothes, washing the dishes after dinner – there are many habits that we perform daily without even trying. The idea is to find a habit that you already consistently do and anchor it with a new behavior:

  • Before showering, I will write down three things I’m grateful for.
  • After changing out of my work clothes, I will change into workout clothes and walk for 15 minutes.
  • After I wash the dishes, I will turn my phone on airplane mode and read my book.

This method allows for your new habits to become part of your daily routine with the help of your already-established habits.

Need help building healthy habits? Here are 8 tips to set you up for success. Click To Tweet

 3. Write habits down and use a planner/calendar to schedule

Whatever your health goals are, add them to your calendar! Make a plan. If your goal is to go to the gym after work, schedule it in. If your goal is to wake up earlier to meditate, schedule it in. Make it a habit to always check your calendar before you go to sleep, so you know what you have planned for the next day.

I’m a big advocate of having a planner. It helps to add more structure and organization in all areas of life. I love the Brit + Co planners that break down each day by time slots because it makes it so much easier to make time blocks for each activity. This is the one I have.

If you’re not a planner/calendar person, write down a checklist of your goals for that day. Make it visual and make it obvious. For example, I write down my morning routine on a whiteboard in my room so it’s somewhere I can always see it and so I don’t forget anything.

  • Wake up
  • Meditate
  • Oil pulling
  • Read (until finished with oil pulling)
  • Brush teeth
  • Lemon water
  • Check emails
  • Quick yoga flow (or gym, depending on the day)
  • Breakfast
  • Vitamins
  • Shower

Hanging the checklist in an obvious place makes it hard to ignore, so this is the best way to do it! This method has helped me tremendously in building my morning healthy habits and actually sticking to them.

4. Start Slow

Don’t try to overdo it when you’re just starting to build new healthy habits. Keep it simple and easy. In the words of Leo Babauta: “Make it so easy that you can’t say no.”

If your goal is to start running, don’t try to run 3 miles on your first day. Start with a 10-minute run then gradually increase your time when you feel ready. If you want to eat more veggies and fruits, don’t try to eat only veggies and fruits for all your meals. Start with adding one fruit to your breakfast, then add a veggie to your lunch and so on. If you want to start meditating, don’t try to do a 45-minute session. Start with 5 minutes, and go from there. Making your habits so easy that you can’t say no will allow you to build consistency over time.

You may be someone that knows you can tackle building a few healthy habits at a time. Or you may be someone who can only commit to building one new habit at a time. Neither approach is wrong – just be realistic! We’re all different, so it’s important to know which approach will set you up for success.

Making your habits so easy that you can’t say no will allow you to build consistency over time. Click To Tweet

8 Tips to Building Healthy Habits That You'll Stick To | What's the secret to building habits that stick? Click through for tips and ideas on how to conquer those habits once and for all.

 

5. Find someone to hold you accountable

Getting someone to cheer you on (or kick your butt back into gear) is one of the best ways to make sure you’re not letting your lack of motivation get in the way.

Whether it’s your best friend, your roommate, your wife/husband, mom – tell them about your goals and ask them if they’d be willing to be there for you and provide that extra motivation to get you going. Find someone that will do whatever you need them to do to help you achieve your goals.

If you’re not into the whole “family/friend” accountability partner, the internet is your savor. Use social media or an online community to post updates, use apps like HabitBull to track your progress, or join a meetup group that is related to your habit. Putting yourself and your goals out there will give you the reinforcement you need to support your new routine.

6. Don’t stop

You’ll have days that you’re just not feeling it. You’ll have days that you just simply don’t have the time. You’ll have days that life will get in the way and that’s completely OK. Your healthy-living journey isn’t going to be perfect. The most important thing to remember is to not stop. Don’t give up because you missed a day or a few days. Be flexible and give yourself grace, then shake it off and get back on track.

Related post: 3 steps to creating balance in your health and fitness routine

 7. Celebrate the small wins

Are you on a 5-day streak for one of your habits? Reward yourself. The reward doesn’t have to cost money, it can simply be doing something that you truly enjoy. For example, if my goal is to read every day for at least 10 minutes, and I consistently do it all week, then I’ll reward myself with a bath.

It can be as simple as watching your favorite movie or a night out with your loved one, take the time to celebrate your dedication and the progress you’ve been making to establishing healthy habits.

8. Track your progress

Making time for meditation was always tough for me. After finally committing to it, I downloaded an app to hold myself accountable. Most meditation apps send you a reminder and track your progress for you. Right now, I’m on a 13-day streak and just seeing the progress I’m making motivates me to keep going at it every day!

I can’t tell you enough how much tracking helps to keep you motivated. With a daily habit tracker, you can see exactly what your goals are, what habits  you’re doing great on, and what you need to work on. There’s something about having a visual to see real results of how you’re progressing, that makes you feel like you totally got this.

 

The simple healthy habits guide

To help you out with your goal to become a healthier you, I put together a guide with 8 simple healthy habits that you can easily start today. I walk you through each habit with actionable steps and provide a printable habit tracker so you can get started right away!

The 8 healthy habits I touch on are ideas for you to run with – you can pick and choose what healthy habits you want to track so don’t feel obligated to do them all. You may be someone that wants to take on all of the 8 habits and that’s great! But if you want to take on only a few (or maybe track your own personal habits), that’s cool too! You may find that you already have some of these habits, but this will help you to stay more consistent.

Your challenge

Using a habit tracker for my daily tasks has been huge for me. Seeing how I’m progressing towards my healthy living goals gets me pumped to keep going, and I want that for you too! I challenge you to grab the guide and give it your all to conquering these healthy habits for at least a month. Try it out and see if tracking your daily habits gets you as motivated as ever.

I’ll be cheering you on the whole way!

Tracking my healthy habits for 1 month! Join me on this challenge! Click To Tweet

Now that you’re armed with these tips to build healthier habits that you’ll stick to, what healthy habit are you going to conquer?

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Taking care of our body is the best thing we can do for ourselves. While we should all strive to make healthier choices, it’s equally important to create balance in our health and fitness routine.

When we’re constantly being bombarded by messages of the cleanest diet, the ideal body, the fastest running time, it’s easy to be fooled into thinking that we have to operate at maximum productivity to achieve unrealistic perfection. We start to think that more everything is better and freak out when our human, flawed self can’t go all out, 100% of the time.

Young woman stretching before a workout besides balancing rocks

Throughout my wellness journey, I learned that it’s necessary to work towards progress and not perfection. I have days where I don’t feel like going to the gym and days where I don’t feel like eating my meal-prepped food. The beauty of it is that I’ve learned that this is completely OK and I give myself permission to feel this way without any guilt. To me, that’s what creating balance is: creating flexibility in your routine without feeling like you have to work 10 times harder because of it.

Balance: creating flexibility in your routine without feeling like you have to work 10x harder because of it. Click To Tweet

If you’re struggling to create balance in your health and fitness routine, try following these steps:

Step 1: Listen to your body

Your body is constantly trying to communicate with you. Does listening to your body mean ditching your workout for a jar of ice cream and Netflix? Not quite. Listening to your body is being in tune with the signals that your body is sending you.

Be in tune with your nutrition

Whether it’s helping you recognize when you’re hungry or full, or helping you figure out what to eat, being in tune with your body will help remove the guilt from the eating equation and erase chronic stress about food. Instead of trying to follow strict rules and restrictions, it becomes more a question of “what does my body need to feel good and what puts my mind at ease?”

    My approach

    Most (keyword here) days I eat real, whole foods that contain little ingredients because that’s what makes me feel good. I don’t restrict processed foods completely, but I do often choose not to eat them simply because I know they don’t nourish my body the way I want my food to. On the weekends, I’m more comfortable being flexible with my food options because the weekends are usually dedicated to family and friends.

Be in tune with your fitness

As far as exercise goes, listening to your body involves recognizing how, when and how much to exercise. It’s about knowing when your body needs rest, when you need to slow down, and what kind of exercise your body truly enjoys.

Here are some questions you should ask yourself to check in with your body before working out:

  • How are my energy levels?
  • Do I have any aches?
  • How’s my mood?
  • Is my body up for a workout today?
  • What kind of exercise does my body need today? A strength workout to get pumped for the day? A high-intensity workout to burn off stress? A soothing yoga session to recharge and stretch after a long day?

During your workout always keep checking in with yourself. If something hurts, stop. If you feel tired, do less.

Learning to listen to your body physically and mentally will take time, so be patient with yourself.

Related post: 7 Ways To Overcome Gym Anxiety & Work Out With Confidence

Creating #balance in your health and fitness routine and finding flexibility is necessary. Click To Tweet

Step 2: Learn to let go and practice grace

Once you’re in tune with what your body needs, it’s time to let go of the things that you can’t control.

Ever have those days that you’re just not feeling a workout? Trust me, it’s not you – it happens to everyone. Take that as a sign that your body is sending you. Your body is craving flexibility and needs rest. Instead, do yoga at home, go for a walk, swim or heck, just simply take the day off. You deserve it.

Throw the “no excuses” and “no days off” mottos out the window – like ASAP. Habits are great, but when they lack flexibility and lead to mental stress, they’re more likely an unhealthy obsession. Your healthy habits are supposed to reduce your stress, so when they’re doing the opposite and start to feel like a chore, it’s maybe time to reevaluate the balance you’re creating in your life.

Just like your body may not feel like working out some days, it may not feel like eating as healthy as you usually do and that’s completely OK. You’re not perfect – give yourself grace.

    My approach

    Some days I’m straight up just craving some good ol’ Spanish food (where my Latinos at?!) and while it’s not nutrient-packed like a kale and beet salad, giving my body the flexibility to indulge without feeling guilty about it gives me the pleasure of feeling satisfied and removes any negative attitude towards food. It’s not a “cheat meal” – it’s creating a healthy relationship with food without restrictions. Letting go and having a positive mindset towards my eating habits helps me create balance in my routine and it’s truly liberating.

Life will get in the way

Even if you’re completely set on eating nourishing meals and getting in a good workout during the day, life can always get in the way:

  • You’ve been out all day and the only food place open is McDonald’s? Give yourself grace.
  • You’ve been traveling and your eating and exercise habits have been neglected? Give yourself grace.
  • You had a rough night’s sleep and are too exhausted for your morning workout? Give yourself grace.

Without self-compassion, you will fall under the weight of the pressure and disappointments you place on yourself.

Letting go and practicing grace means forgetting about perfection and giving yourself permission to be flexible with the expectations that you have for what you think you should be doing. Instead of feeling stressed out from not carrying out what you had planned, learn to let the negative vibes go and let yourself feel liberated from the chains of expectations.

Without self-compassion, you will fall under the weight of the pressure and disappointments you place on yourself. Click To Tweet

Create balance in your health and fitness routine. Three steps to finding flexibility and giving yourself grace.

Step 3: Shake it off

Every day is a new day to start fresh and work towards your health and fitness goals. Just because you weren’t up for it or life got in the way (and it will often) doesn’t make you any less dedicated to living a healthy life.

At the end of the day, health isn’t just about eating healthy and exercising. It’s also about what you’re thinking. If you come from a place of regret and guilt, you’re harboring negative feelings towards yourself about being flexible with your routine and creating an endless cycle of negative emotion towards food and exercise.

Learning to let go and practice grace will help you come from a place of nourishment, and will allow you to shake off the negative feelings and pick your routine right back up where you left off.


Being healthy will always be a lifestyle, not an all or nothing thing. We need to learn to break free from the expectation that we have to give it 100% all the time. Remember, making small steps lead to big results over time.

Be in tune with your body. Honor it and practice grace. Then make a plan to get back to your goals. Stay balanced, always. Your mind and body will thank you.

Do you feel you have a good balance in your health and fitness routine? What other tips would you add?

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Ginger is one of the healthiest spices in the world. As one of the oldest and most common natural remedies, ginger has numerous health benefits and is super versatile to use.

What are the health benefits of ginger? Ginger is known as one of the most powerful and healing spices in the world. It's a natural remedy for nausea and digestion problems. It prevents stroke and heart disease, and it's anti-inflammatory properties help ease muscle pain and its antibacterial properties boosts the immune system and helps fights off disease. There are many home uses for ginger, including home remedies and in recipes. These are only a few of the many health benefits of ginger.*This post may contain affiliate links that earn me a small commission, at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products I personally use and love, or think my readers will find useful.

My mom is obsessed with this nutrition-packed superfood. Anytime one of us starts to get sick, she brews up some hot water, grates some ginger, splashes a hint of lemon juice and forces the goods down our throats. I wasn’t a big fan of it when I was younger because of its pungent taste, but now that I know of its healing power, I can relate to my mom’s obsession.

What are ginger’s health benefits?

Ginger has been used in Chinese Medicine for centuries and is known for its natural medicinal properties:

1.Alleviates nausea

Ginger is best known as a natural remedy for morning sickness, nausea and motion sickness. In a study, it was even proven to be more effective than a common drug prescribed for motion sickness.

2.Boosts immunity

Ginger is a powerful antioxidant that helps your body get rid of toxins and provides a natural cleanse to help sustain your immune system.

3.Fights cancer

In 2015, a study came out revealing that ginger contains a compound that can be 10,000 times more effective at killing cancer cells than chemotherapy. Numerous studies show that ginger seems to prevent cancer by causing cancer cells to commit suicide.

4.Promotes good digestion

By promoting the release of various digestive juices/enzymes that help neutralize stomach acid, ginger helps relieve intestinal gas and bloating.

5.Relieves muscle aches and pain

Linked with a strong anti-inflammatory component, ginger helps alleviate muscle soreness and joint pain by reducing inflammation and helping your muscles relax.

6.Prevents stroke and heart disease

Studies have shown that if consumed regularly, ginger can reduce cholesterol levels, lowering the risk of blood clotting and promoting healthy blood sugar levels.

7.Relieves congestion

Ginger’s antibacterial properties help to flush out mucus and congestion in the sinuses and lungs.

How to use ginger to reap the benefits

Since ginger has a potent taste, start by adding a small amount of ginger to your daily meals. Once you have a feel for how it tastes and how much you like, you can gradually add or reduce the amount you include in your foods.

What are the health benefits of ginger? Ginger is known as one of the most powerful and healing spices in the world. It's a natural remedy for nausea and digestion problems. It prevents stroke and heart disease, and it's anti-inflammatory properties help ease muscle pain and its antibacterial properties boosts the immune system and helps fights off disease. There are many home uses for ginger, including home remedies and in recipes. These are only a few of the many health benefits of ginger.

    • Hot tea

Make ginger tea by cutting a few pieces of ginger and steeping it in boiling water or using a pre-made ginger tea bag. You can even grate it and splash it on top of your tea. This cinnamon, honey and ginger tea is one of my favorite ways to consume it.

    • Juices and smoothies

Ginger is a great addition to any juice or smoothie, giving it the little kick it needs. Try adding an inch of ginger to your favorite juice in the mornings.

    • In food

Ginger is commonly used in many Asian-inspired dishes. It’s popular in stir-fries, soups, sauces, dressings, and marinades.

Where to buy ginger?

Fresh/raw ginger root is found in the produce section of most grocery stores. Ground ginger also works and my favorite is Simply Organic.

 

Part of the turmeric family, ginger’s many health benefits and healing properties are why so many people have hopped on the ginger train (to join my mother and I) and include it in their daily routine.

Do you consume ginger regularly? What’s your favorite way to add it to your daily meals?

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Ever been working out and you start to wonder where you’re supposed to be feeling it? You know, when it feels like every muscle BUT the one you are trying to target is getting a workout in? I’ve so been there. After being introduced to activation exercises, I noticed a huge difference in my workouts when I lift. Activation exercises are the best way to get the right muscles working and grinding.

Lazy muscles are a real thing. Activation exercises wake your muscles up and get them ready to work out. The glutes, lats and abdominals tend to be the most common lazy muscles. Improving on engaging our muscles before our workouts will help us restore muscle imbalances, exercise more effectively, exercise more effectively and prevent injury.

What is muscle activation?

Muscle activation is part of warming up, which helps to wake up our muscles and get them ready to work out. By focusing on each separate muscle group, we isolate them and get them “fired up”. Activation exercises are also designed to enhance the mind-muscle connection.

Why is muscle activation important?

When we’re not working out, we tend to live sedentary lives. Many people work office jobs, which means they’re sitting for 8-10 hours straight. Over time, muscles become “lazy” and don’t fire up during an exercise. The most common lazy muscles include the glutes, lats and abdominal. To compensate for lazy muscles other muscles take over leading to reduced effectiveness of the exercise, muscle imbalances, and increased risk of injury.

Young fit woman working out outside and warming up: Lazy muscles are a real thing. That's where muscle activation comes in. Activation exercises wake your muscles up and get them ready to work out. The glutes, lats and abdominals tend to be the most common lazy muscles. Improving on engaging our muscles before our workouts will help us restore muscle imbalances, exercise more effectively, exercise more effectively and prevent injury.

How to activate

1.Spend only a few minutes doing the exercises. It’s not about fatiguing the muscles, it’s about warming them up.
2.Go slowly and envision the muscles contracting to enhance the mind-muscle connection.
3.You can use body weight or resistance bands. (or light weights, if you prefer)

My favorite way to activate my muscles is with resistance bands. For example, I’m very quad dominant during leg day. I feel it SO much in my quads, but not enough in my glutes (where I want to feel it!). My leg day warmup routine looks a little something like this:

  • 5 mins warmup on the bike
  • 5 mins activation with resistance bands (I pick two of the exercises below and do 1-2 sets of 10-15 reps each)
    • Fire hydrant
    • Kickbacks
    • Hip bridges
    • Side kicks

Notice that I don’t activate my quads because I want to focus on getting my glutes fired up. My gym doesn’t have resistance bands so I make sure to bring mine along. I usually remember to bring them on leg day but let’s be real, I tend to forget them for the other days.

You can also activate upper body with resistance bands, but I find that for me it is just as effective to activate it with light weights or body weight. Remember, everyone is different so do some trial and error to figure out which method works best for your lifestyle and body.

Activation Exercises Ideas

Here’s my favorite guide for activation exercises ideas. It gives various activation exercises ideas for each muscle group that you should be incorporating before your workouts. Pick two exercises per body group and have at it!

Have you incorporated muscle activation into your routine?

If you’re struggling to get to the gym and need some motivation, check out my top tips to reduce gym anxiety and work out with confidence.

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