NANCYANNE55   100,033
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Creating Abs You Can Be Proud Of

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

I have received multiple inquiries as to how I've managed to get my abs into the condition they are after birthing four babies and spending forty-three years on this earth. What I am about to share is nothing earth shattering or new, and you've probably heard it all before, but I thought I'd blog about it so that I can give people my own recipe for ab success when they ask me how to get a nice midsection.

The first thing I want to point out is that there is no magic bullet for getting good abs. I think people really want me to share some literal secret, like drinking a weird vinegar or doing some super-off-the-wall ab move to have tight abs, and that's just not the case. It really is a multi-faceted, yet still simple, approach.

In order from most important to least, here is what I do for a tight midsection.

#1. Diet- Bring your body fat down! It does not matter how well all the tips following this are working- If your beautiful abs are hidden by fat, no one (including you) will be able to see and appreciate them.

#2. Hold 'em in! All the time. As often as you can think of it. Honestly, I'm almost always in an isometric ab contraction. It's a habit. The more you do it, the more automatic it becomes. There is not a single ab exercise out there that does as much for ab flatness and definition as simply contracting your abs as much and as often as possible. Reason? Ab exercises last for just a few minutes. Holding your abs in lasts all day long.

3. Cardio. Same reason as #1. Cardio helps burn fat. Lack of fat means ab visibility.

4. Hold 'em in while doing ab exercises. I can't tell you how many times I've seen someone doing an ab exercise with their abs protruded. The tighter you hold your abs in while working them, the more effective (and harder!) the ab exercise will be.

5. Strengthen your lower back. Your ab and lower back muscles cross over each other. To to have tight abs, you MUST have tight lower back muscles. If you have tight abs and a weak lower back, your abs will have the appearance of being wide, no matter how strong they are. Plus, you will have created a skeletal imbalance. I can't tell you the people I've given this advice to, and after strengthening their lower back they begin to see the V-taper they've been unable to obtain until then.

6. For my actual ab workouts, once a week I usually do 20 minutes of an ab tape. My favorite is Kari Anderson's Curl DVD. But sometimes I will choose two of the ten-minute sections in either Kathy Smith's Tummy Trimmer DVD or 10-Minute Solution Quick Tummy Toners DVD. There are other DVD's out there you could use.

Often I will add another ab workout in the gym a couple of days later (abs are like every other muscle group and need plenty of time to recover between targeted ab workouts). When I do this, I treat them as two different muscle groups: Middle abs (always including both upper and lower in the move), and obliques. I don't isolate upper abs because they are the same muscle running between the rib cage and pelvic bone. Upper abs are not my issue- lower are. So it is much more efficient for me to spend my workout time targeting the area of the muscle that is weakest. I've found that upper abs get tightened in the process.

I do at least three exercises for the middle abs, and two for obliques. Sometimes, I will work them between other muscle groups (for instance, super-set them between back or bicep exercises), and other times I do them back to back to really burn them up. A sample ab workout for me looks like this:

3 Super sets of:
- Reverse Crunch on bench (feet coming down all the way to the ground with control at all times)- 20 reps
- Weighted side bends- 20 reps, each side (challenging weight- you want to FEEL this in the obliques!)

Then 3 Super sets of:
- Captains Chair leg lifts (curl your lower back off the padding to lift your legs, don't just lift them- it's supposed to resemble a reverse crunch!)- 12 reps
- Cable Rope Crunches- 20 reps (weight should be challenging)

Finish with:
- Bicycle Crunches 3x15, alternating sides (15 on each side)

And if I haven't hit lower back by doing something like deadlifts or squats some other time in the week, I'll do 3 sets of a targeted lower back exercise like Supermans or weighted hyperextensions on a Roman Chair.

The only thing I'd say that is negotiable, here, is #6. I know of others who do their ab workout quite differently and get similar results. This is just simply how I prefer to work my abs. In all reality, the way you target exercises for the abs is really just the gravy of the whole process. The meat and potatoes of having beautiful abs lies in the other five steps.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

AMERAG 6/15/2011 2:20PM

    just printed this! YAY I am excited to try them and make them part of you my routine! THank you!

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SPITFYRE75 5/29/2011 8:01PM

    Yes, this blog is old. But, I am just now reading them. I have to say that after reading about holding your abs in I tried it and about DIED after just one minute! Best workout my stomach has had aside from childbirth! emoticon

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SPITFYRE75 5/29/2011 8:00PM

    Yes, this blog is old. But, I am just now reading them. I have to say that after reading about holding your abs in I tried it and about DIED after just one minute! Best workout my stomach has had aside from childbirth! emoticon

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FATHINSN 8/5/2010 12:43AM

    Great blog, restore my faith on the tips that fitness articles always gave emoticon, especially after looking at your fab abs picture! So, in short = body fat+tuck in+lower back+variety abs workout. I'm so used with bicycle crunches, I hardly look at other abs and core workouts!

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NANCYANNE55 7/3/2010 8:33PM

    Weighted Side Bends: I've been doing them and a myriad of other weighted ab moves for 26 years. I've also heard the school of thought that one shouldn't do weighted ab moves, but I think it's baloney. After all, how many people do you know with ab muscles that are too big?

Comment edited on: 7/3/2010 8:35:13 PM

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MTP717 7/2/2010 5:12PM

  Thanks for your great tips. I am a little confused about the weighted side bends. I had always heard that you don't want to build muscle there especially if you are a female. Please explain.

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MASONK 6/22/2010 11:22AM

    Thanks great info.

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ELLIE381 6/8/2010 7:15PM

    Thanks for the information. I have been doing my captain's chair lifts all wrong. Thanks for clearing this up for me.

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MRSGOFARR 6/7/2010 11:33PM

    great information. thank you!!

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    Great blog and great tips! I'm doing the 10mins with Slim in 6 Pack and then do 10mins of the Turbo Jam as it provides for some lay down and stand up exercises.

Now just working on the 'diet' and losing some of the body fat!

Love your post and progress! Consistency is key and I'm going for it!!

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AJB6886 6/6/2010 5:19AM

    I couldn't have said it better myself! I have people ask me all the time (grabbing their midsection) "how do I get rid of THIS?" I really feel like saying "put the fork down and move" BUT......I have to be nice so I say all the things you said. You are absolutely right. Have a great day! emoticon

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FITNHAPPYNOW 6/5/2010 3:10PM

    Thanks for the reminders/ tips. Sucking in my abs!!

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ALIMESSA 6/4/2010 7:16PM

    Thanks for are AWESOME! I'm going to start the P90X next Monday, June 7th...hopefully it will get me started on my way to a leaner, more toned body...

As always,
Stay Strong!!

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TRENTDREAMER 6/3/2010 7:38PM

    Great advice. Thank you!

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BECCA103 6/3/2010 12:14PM

    Thanks for sharing. Becca ;~)

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BEKAH_IS_FIT 6/3/2010 8:46AM


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CRISPINI 6/3/2010 6:27AM

    Great advice, thanks!

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IAMFIRMIN 6/3/2010 4:30AM

    abs are DIET DIET DIET!

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YINYANGSJM 6/2/2010 9:51PM

    Thank you for sharing these tips! Even sitting here at my computer concentrating on holding my abs in I can feel what a difference it would make to work on that all day. Great info!!!!

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PTESORO 6/2/2010 9:42PM

    Thanks for sharing!

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RAEVENSWING 6/2/2010 9:21PM

    Thanks for sharing! Some extremely good advice. You look great!

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CAROLYN1213 6/2/2010 8:28PM

    This is my next goal! Thanks for the tips!!! I'm still working with Ruben to get some of the extra fluff off the top of my abs, but when that is done, I want those strong muscles to already be there to show off!

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DREMARGRL 6/2/2010 8:20PM

    EXCELLENT, NANCY! You've explained your approach quite well. As you said, there are many workouts that get the same results. The most important thing, IMO, that you state is to stay in "isometric ab contraction"! Posture posture posture....all the time! Our mothers in the "olden days" had us hold our stomachs in.....always! Anyway, thanks again, Nancy, for passing the word along...... eloquently. Luv ya, my friend. XO MaryAnn emoticon

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STARSTRUCKJEN29 6/2/2010 7:49PM

    Thanks for sharing!

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RTB444 6/2/2010 6:41PM

    Just what I needed today, thanks!

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WREN67 6/2/2010 6:37PM

    I knew it! I knew it was vinegar! (just joking - couldn't resist)

To be honest, I never asked because I never thought I could get those abs! (and I've only had 2 kids). Thank you!

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MISTYMOVIN 6/2/2010 6:31PM


I focus on holding my abs in when doing cardio but never really thought about doing it all the time, that's such a simple and awesome tip.

Comment edited on: 6/2/2010 6:37:49 PM

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DOLLIE6 6/2/2010 6:26PM

    Thanks so much for sharing. You are such an inspiration.

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BIKERCHICK74 6/2/2010 6:24PM

    Great BLOG!!!! Thank you!!!
YOU are the BEST!

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TABS17 6/2/2010 6:18PM

    Thanks for sharing!! :) I do have ab envy when I look at your pics!!!

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Two more more product recommendations.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

I added two more products, my favorite Ab workout DVD and a self-tanning product, to my "Products I Have Found Useful" blog here:
, if anyone is interested.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ALIMESSA 6/1/2010 8:57PM

    ALWAYS interested in your opinions!! Thanks for sharing!

As always,
Stay Strong!!

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MISTYMOVIN 5/31/2010 8:02AM

    Glad to know you like Banana Boat..I picked some up earlier to get some tan, a long with a more expensive Neutragina(sp?) spray. I hated the was so uneven. The cheaper Banana Boat seemed so much better, and cheaper!

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IAMFIRMIN 5/31/2010 5:04AM

    I LUV METOBOLIQ BARS.. you nuke them for 12 sec.. TASTES LIKE A BROWNIE

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Cutting Diets: Do NOT Try Without Adult Supervision!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I am getting many of requests from people, asking what I did on my cutting diet so they can try it, too. It's starting to disturb me, so I felt it might be a good idea to blog about the subject. Also, maybe this way I can stop typing the same thing over and over again. emoticon

The first thing I want to make clear is the purpose of a cutting diet: It's generally for fitness competitors (body building, figure, or bikini) to get max weight off(both fat and, at the end, water) while not only maintaining their current muscle, but also building new. This is so that when they get on stage the judges can clearly see the muscle development the competitor has worked so hard for.

Me? I don't plan to compete until summer of 2011, but was scheduled for a corrective surgery where it was beneficial for the surgeon to see me as close to competition weight and shape as possible.

A cutting diet is NOT something the average Joe (or Jane) should be doing as a tactic for permanent weight loss. Not only is it a fairly extreme way of eating (there is almost no wiggle room in what you eat- I got used to getting food out of my cooler to bring into restaurants to eat with friends and family), but also the competitor gains anywhere from 5-15 pounds back right away after the diet is over. This is because of the reintroduction of more carbs and salt, never mind the fact that they usually feel deprived of "regular" food and go a little nutty with the eating for a while after their show is over.

Furthermore, a cutting diet is NOT something I would recommend ANYone try, particularly the first time out, without professional help. I simply could not have obtained the results I did without the aid of a good coach, and I couldn't have made it through as healthy as I did without his specific cutting diet made just for me.

In other words: Not something that the general public should be attempting.

The things I DID feel others could use from my experience I blogged in my blog "Lessons Learned and Still Applied From My Cutting Diet", right below this one. These are things I felt safe telling people across the board that they could apply to their regular lives.

The other thing I want to point out is that it wasn't just the diet that got me those dramatic results in 12 weeks: I was working out like a fiend! Without strict adherence to a vigorous weight lifting and cardio program, my results would not have been nearly as impressive.

And one other thing: I've heard from several here on Spark who seem to have the impression that they can do a 10 day cutting diet and get results like mine. NOT HAPPENING! My cutting diet was 12 weeks. It amazes me when people ask about my "10-day Cut". The fact is that it was an 84-day cut.

For the record, I weigh about 5 1/2 pounds more than I did when I came off of the cutting diet. This was withOUT the above mentioned nutty eating that most competitors indulge in after their cutting diet is over. It's mainly because I have more water in my system now, due to raised sodium and carbohydrate levels. (You can read my blog "And Unexpected Gain is Nothing to Sweat Over"to find out more about the reason for this.) The photos below were taken 2 days ago, 19 days after the cutting diet was over. I still look pretty good, see?.......

...... But I'm smoother and not as "cut" as I was in my final photos the day the cutting diet was done.

So the long and short of it is: Unless you have a competitive or fitness related reason for needing to go on a cutting diet, I'd advise you not try it. Ask me for recommendations on good coaches. (There is one roaming around here on Spark I would NOT recommend for reasons I can share with you privately.) Read my blog further ahead titled "Moving past a weight Loss Plateau" for a formulation on how you can lose weight (this is a GREAT plan and requires no membership fees). Or join Weight Watchers! That's how I lost my first 38 pounds. Then post your own photos, bragging your progress with "after" photos that you can actually walk around looking like! emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LJCANNON 4/1/2013 10:25PM

    emoticon Thank You!! You are Right, this truly did answer my Questions and confirmed what I was Guessing -- That it is NOT an Option to be looked at for me. It is Really Good to have my Gut Feeling confirmed by a Knowledgeable person!

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IAMFIRMIN 6/1/2010 4:58AM

    I AGREE 100%... I believe when you get up on stage.. you are at your WEAKEST POINT..!!!

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DREMARGRL 5/28/2010 9:13AM

    Thanks for stating that there are no steroids involved in your transformation, Nancy. It's the MOST IMPORTANT thing you said here, IMO. Kudos....again! XO MaryAnn emoticon

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ALIMESSA 5/28/2010 3:33AM

    Another great blog...thanks for taking the time to help educate us! You look fantastic, by the way!

As always,
Stay Strong!!

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BEKAH_IS_FIT 5/27/2010 10:26PM

    Great blog, Nancy. Thank you!

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NANCYANNE55 5/27/2010 9:57PM

    Rachel- Tthank you for helping to clarify. I wasn't thinking of your diet when I posted that, honestly. Was just concerned about the amount of people who wanted to do what I've done on their own. You are probably right- our different "cuts" are probably getting condfused!

You aren't kidding that some of the cutting diets out there are scary! When I saw what some of my figure friends are doing I was horrified! Ruben had me eating whole, clean foods (even took me off of protein supplements, save one soy protein drink before bed for the last couple of week)s. Drank tons of water, watched my salt...... just a very, very long time of very strict and clean eating in very specific combinations. That's why I recommended people find someone who doesn't do anything drastic or stupid for something like that, who understands about macros and how they manipulate the body. A lot of the gals doing figure are on steroids. Ruben doesn't do that, either. I was so blessed to find him.

Anyone who wants to can go back to May 4th and before to see what I ate while on the cutting diet. Well, and you can see the little indulgences I've let myself have since then, too. But I am too interested in my health to do anything risky with it by going bananas with my eating. Kicking diabetes and heart disease to the curb are too important to risk getting to let myself gain the weight back! :-)

Comment edited on: 5/28/2010 8:08:10 AM

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RACHEL_MAC 5/27/2010 6:30PM

    I think people are probably asking you about my "10-day cut", which is completely and totally different from a bodybuilding/figure competitor cut. It was just super clean eating, healthy food, no cheating, carefully balanced macros to see what kind of a difference I could make for myself in a short period of time. No secrets, no cheating, no nutritionist (with the exception of a few tweaks Ruben offered) So it sounds like we're all talking about different things.

I got fantastic results from just being healthy and eating clean, working out hard every day, drinking lots of water and green tea and no soda or booze. Fitness competitor cuts scare me because of the metabolic damage they can cause and the drastic upswing in calories many competitors consume when they're done--look up an article called "Sometimes falling feels like flying ... for a little while!" by ultra-famous trainer/coach Scott Abel--it's really scary what happens to a lot of competitors post-competition and post-cutting diet.

Unfortunately, as long as people are trying to lose weight, there will be people out there trying to game the system by making it happen fast. I don't know much about your cut, but mine involved great discipline and healthy food and I lost body fat much more quickly than I did on my semi-disciplined, still-cheating ordinary diet. The only way to legitimately speed up weight loss is to do everything right--and that's not a secret at all!

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TIME2BELEAVE 5/27/2010 6:01PM

    Thanks for the information. All of your hard work is paying off :O) I think we get out of it what we're willing to put into it----especially with nutrition and exercise.

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WREN67 5/27/2010 5:05PM

    First, you look fantastic. I can't wait until I'm even close...
Second, a great and important blog. It is so easy to look for that magic answer (I know - I searched for years). And, from what I know of the diets (ain't much!), it is not something for someone to mess around with!

Very wise to put this out there for someone!

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CAROLYN1213 5/27/2010 4:16PM

    Thanks Nancy! Great points! It is important for each person to assess their individual goals and have a program designed for their specific needs. I am not a competitor and do not plan to be. However, I needed help to eat properly to build lean muscle mass and lean out a little more. If I, who is only looking to get down to 18 - 20% body fat, needs guidance, I can only imagine how much more important that guidance is as your body fat % decreases, so that you stay healthy and can still build muscle. You look good lady!

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MISTYMOVIN 5/27/2010 3:23PM

    Great points emoticon

Actually knowing all this gives me more reason not wish to compete, at least for now. It's a lot of commitment and discipline that I'm not sure I'd want to commit to. For now I'm content to lose the fat and build muscle.

Maybe someday I'll consider competition as a goal, and its good to know what to expect in a general sense from a cutting program. And as always, you are a well of information I've come to respect and trust. With all the information floating about, it's nice to hear from someone who has learned by doing. It sure makes it easier to learn how to sift through all the "expert information" we hear everyday from countless sources.

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Lessons Learned and Still Applied From my Cutting Diet

Friday, May 21, 2010

So as many know, I completed my cutting diet just over 2 weeks ago. I'm surprised to say that my eating now more resembles the cutting diet than it does the way I ate BEFORE the cutting diet, which was really not that bad.

Here are some valuable things I learned that I thought I'd share:

- I cook ahead. This is something I told my coach I didn't want to do in the start. I'd rather just cook what I was going to for that day. But it didn't take me long to figure out that it took just about the same amount of time to make a big pot of brown rice as a small one. Last night my daughter and I had sweet potatoes for dinner. I threw extra into the oven and then tossed it into the fridge when the meal was over. I don't set aside a time on the weekends to cook for the week like a lot of people do, but now when I do cook something I can use for meals later on, I'll make extra.

- I have started to eat more "real" food and less protein powder and protein bars, which are convenient but leave me hungrier than whole foods.

- I eat a great, big breakfast. Before breakfast was maybe a small bowl of whole-grain cereal with raisins and a cup of milk. Now it's slow-cook oatmeal with natural peanut butter stirred in, a whole egg with several (usually 5) egg whites, and often a piece of fruit. This helps me to not be as hungry the rest of the day and really fuels me well for my usually up-coming weight lifting session. Breakfast is usually now my biggest meal of the day.

- I eat fish now, voluntarily. It's not my favorite, but I don't despise it anymore. My favorite is Tilapia. Well, my REAL favorite is halibut, but at eighteen bucks a pound, that ain't happenin'! Maybe one day soon I'll work up the nerve to try salmon again......

- Before I go to bed I have a scoop of casein powder, in milk if my daily calories allow it, or water if they don't. My coach had me doing this to give my body something to gnaw on other than muscle while I slept. I'd rather like my muscles and endeavor to keep them, so I've kept it up.

- I usually drink at least a gallon of water a day. I can't remember if I started this on the cutting diet or if it just kinda came along with the cutting territory, but I find my body does a lot better with plenty of plain old water coursing through it. I am not as likely to binge, have fewer cravings, and feel less lethargic when I drink this much. My complexion is the clearest it's been since I was about eleven, and I often wonder if the water is a lot of the reason why.

- I don't eat as many carbs in the evening as I used to. I won't go into the specifics because this blog is long enough, but I prefer to get my starchier carbs early in the day, when they can be burned off by fueling me through my activities.

I hope that you picked up a thing or two here that you can implement into your own diet to help you along on your journey to fitness. As always, I love getting your comments and feed back, so please don't hesitate to respond!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

STYLELADY1 6/2/2010 8:00AM

    Thanks for sharing this!

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LUCY419 5/26/2010 5:51PM

    That could be my problem.. eating carbs later in the day may be why my weight has come off slowly with the last few pounds, my question is what do i eat in the evening? being most fruits and veggies have carbs, and i only eat fish,chicken,beans,whole grains and nuts.. mostly a whole foods diet!
Thanks for your info.. i drink protein shakes before and after my workouts, i'll be add it at bedtime also!
One more question what do you think of carb cycling, and do you?
Hugs... lucy

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TIME2BELEAVE 5/25/2010 6:55PM


Thanks for the information. Just wondering, when you cut your evening carbs down or out, have you noticed a better drop on the scale? I've been considering doing this at dinner time but some how I feel so deprived and I don't want to have that feeling because I want this to be something I can continually stick with for the long haul.


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MASONK 5/25/2010 4:09PM

    Great info as always thanks for sharing.

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MISTYMOVIN 5/25/2010 3:17PM

    Great tips. Right now I only have a scoop of protein powder in my post-workout smoothie, but I may try adding a scoop to my nightly glass of milk too. I try to make sure I have some protein before bed. Do you use Whey? Or I'd read Casein is better pre-bedtime for the slower breakdown. Not sure if it makes enough of a difference to justify investing in multiple protein powders. I saw a nice Avocado shake in M&F Hers this month I may try.

Water, water, water is my mantra. The only other thing I drink is milk, 2 cups of coffee a day and an occasional unsweet tea.

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KRISTINARAINES 5/25/2010 12:24PM

  The big breakfast is soooo important! I just started this too and I don't find myself starving by lunch time! It really works!!

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_FITMAMA 5/23/2010 6:18PM

    Thanks for sharing! I pretty much do all this myself, except for the fish! Can't do seafood.... at all!

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DS9KIE 5/22/2010 11:49PM

    emoticon blog

I will try to eat a little more at breakfast

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ALIMESSA 5/22/2010 3:23AM

    I love your informative and helpful...I've even put a link to your SparkPage on my new team page, Team Popeye, hoping that they, too, can benefit from your willingness to share your knowledge!

Thank you! And, as always,
Stay Strong!!

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KOOZIE1 5/21/2010 8:12PM

    I have to say that you REALLY are incredibly thoughtful to take the time to write this, and other blogs! You sharing you knowledge is by far the nicest thing I have seen today......... and perhaps the entire week. It is selfless and kind. Cheers to you! Give yourself a hug and a smile. You are helping so many!

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BEKAH_IS_FIT 5/21/2010 7:33PM

    Great blog! Keep it up! I'm learning lots! Thank you!

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WREN67 5/21/2010 5:58PM

    Words to live by - seriously. I can see myself trending this way (and it is wonderful!). I don't miss the iced tea at all. I've been on water almost exclusively! since we spoke.

Thank you - I'm learning! (Now, if only I can get to the store where I buy my fish...maybe this weekend)

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Products I Have Found Useful

Monday, May 10, 2010

Along the way there have been products I have found particularly useful in my quest for fitness. In case it might help others, here are some of them:

- LaBrada Lean Body Gold Bars. I order them from
. You can buy them at GNC, but vitadigest is the lowest price I have found. The more you order, the cheaper shipping is. At 330 calories a piece I cut these bars in half, but they are a great balance of carbs, protein, and fat. And they taste like a candy bar! Caramel Peanut is my favorite. (I had a recommendation for another bar here, but the company raised the price so high for the minimal bulk discount that I now feel like the LaBrada bars are the best value.)

- The book Sculpting Her Body Perfect by Brad Schoenfeld. This is my favorite female exercise book. He has very good plans explained for both starting and advancing in your weight lifting efforts, as well as demonstrations of the exercises and a DVD of the execution of many of them, as well.

- Kari Anderson's "Curl" DVD. 20-mintues of GREAT ab work! By and far my favorite ab DVD.

- HERS Magazine, by Muscle and Fitness. This is my favorite women's fitness magazine. It's not fluffy! This is the real deal of how to get fit and stay that way.

- Oxygen Magazine. Also non-fluffy, a close second to HERS. It'd be my first recommendation, were it not for it's unabashed plugging of Tosca Reno's (the wife of the Oxygen Publisher, Robert Kennedy) Eat Clean Diet books.

- Now you're gonna laugh, but Clean Eating Magazine by- you guessed it- Robert Kennedy Publishing. I like the magazine better than her book. Seems somehow more adaptable to real life to me than her actual eating plan in the book.

The three above magazines are the only fitness/food magazines I subscribe to. The rest are just too fluffy for me.

- Banana Boats' Summer Color self-tanner in Deep Dark Color. See me getting darker in my cutting diet pics? It's this self-tanner. You can get it at WalMart for about $6 a tube. I like it- didn't turn me orange! But a warning- If you apply it frequently like I did (about every day for a week or so, then every other day for several weeks) it starts having patches that don't stick so good anymore and starts looking silly. And then you have to go through the molting process to get it off, which isn't pretty at all.... But it was a great tanner for it's purposes! I'd recommend using it once a day, after exfoliating in the shower, for 3 days (if you want to get that dark) and then cut down to once every third day or so to avoid this.

- Natures Own Sandwich Rounds. I think Orowheat makes an almost identical product. At one Weight Watchers point (100 cals, 5g fiber, 1g fat) per, these make a fantastic sandwich.

- GNC Whey Protein Powder. It's more cost-effective than many of the protein powders out there, and I think taste better than most. If you have the GNC Gold card you can purchase their products through the 8th of every month, I believe it is, for a 20% discount. For me, the price of the card has more than paid off.

- Moving Comfort Women's Fiona Bra (
) This sports bra keeps my girls in check and if I get too hot I can strip down to just it on top in the gym without looking frumpy or like I am wearing my lingerie. I don't bother buying any other, since I am fairly big-busted and positively hate bounce.

- Aussie Sprunch Spray. Works as both a styling product in wet hair and a hairspray. I just toss a full-size bottle of this in my gym bag and it lasts quite a while.

- David Greenwalt's book "The Leanness Lifestyle". This book has a very sound plan for true fitness a lifestyle, not just a temporary fix. I see it is sold on Although I parted ways with David Greenwalt when I tried his Leanness Lifestyle University on-line (he wasn't quite as gentle as I prefer a coach to be), his book is my fitness bible to this day, and I refer to it often. I actually combined his macro-nutrient suggestion (emphasising more protein than I had been eating) with Weight Watchers point system and accountability for very good results.

I'd love to hear of any products you have found beneficial. I always love finding new things that help me along in my journey!

Of course, the most important tool in reaching fitness is your own determination and focus. Keep reminding yourself that you are worth it- because you are!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LORENVER 3/21/2011 5:06PM

    I found Schoenfeld's book at the library and can't wait to read it. Thank you for the product recommendations!


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HARISHABAD 6/2/2010 10:49PM

    Great list!

I also love Rachel Cosgrove's book.


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BEKAH_IS_FIT 5/31/2010 11:15AM

    Thanks for the added info!

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NOW2DAY 5/30/2010 9:56PM

    Thanks for the info.

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MARIEFIYA 5/28/2010 12:40AM

    Thanks for the great tips on all of those products.

I have that bra too, and I am absolutely in love with it. Thanks for posting the website too. It is actually cheaper at amazon than the department store that I purchased mine at. I wear a 38 DDD bra so I get this in a 36 DD to hold the girls down. It does awesome!

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TWALKER0475 5/27/2010 8:11PM

    Thanks for sharing! I may check out a few of the products you mentioned!

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IAMFIRMIN 5/22/2010 6:29AM

OXYGEN IS SELLING TOSCA.. it gets old and repetitive..

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_FITMAMA 5/20/2010 8:52AM

    Great blog!

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BEKAH_IS_FIT 5/16/2010 10:00AM

    Thanks for sharing! I share your sentiment about some of the fitness magazines - too fluffy! I'm going to check our HERS.

BTW - I'd love to get some "girls". I was just thinking about it yesterday. I might send you an email.

Have a great day!

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MISTYMOVIN 5/13/2010 3:58PM

    Thanks for all the info. I'd actually been thinking about subscribing to Hers. I get Fitness currently (cause it was dirt cheap) and it's waaay too fluffy. If I wanted fashion advice, I'd read a fashion magazine.

I'm also going to order Sculpting Her Body Perfect. I love having more material to read and reference.

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BECCA103 5/12/2010 8:27PM

    Which GNC Whey Protein Powder do you use? They have lots of different ones. THanks Becca ;~)

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MASONK 5/12/2010 2:07PM

    This is very helpful. Thank you for sharing.


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KRISTINARAINES 5/12/2010 12:05PM

  Thanks for the info! I love to hear what works for other people! I had never even heard of Hers magazine! I just subscribed!! Thanks again!!

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SLEEPYDEAN 5/11/2010 7:51PM

    Great idea for a blog. I always love hearing what fellow Sparkers have to say about products before I buy them (I think it is a bit more reliable than just the general reviews).

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WESTCOASTGIRL1 5/11/2010 7:14PM

    Thanks for sharing. :)

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LYNNDE 5/11/2010 6:19AM

    Awesome list, thank you for sharing....Those are also my thtree fabe magazines too, but in reverse order. emoticon

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ORCHIDLADY56 5/10/2010 5:09PM

    My three favorites on magazines as well! I like Hers the best, but wish it would come out monthly rather than bi-monthly!

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ISEULTE 5/10/2010 4:25PM

    I love your list, and have to second your endorsement of Moving Comfort's Fiona sports bra. As a distance runner, I can strongly recommend it.

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SUZBFIT 5/10/2010 2:28PM

    Great list...thanks!!

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ADRIENNE29 5/10/2010 1:16PM

    great suggestions! I agree with your magazine choices!

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NEWNARAYAN 5/10/2010 1:13PM

    always appreciate your blogs, thanks! emoticon

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STEPHINTEXAS 5/10/2010 1:08PM

    Thank you. I will check some of these products out.

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ARMSPORTS 5/10/2010 12:57PM

    This is a good list. You might want to check out a company called I have no affiliation with this company, but they have a lot of great products, they are cheap, and you can create your own supplements by combining ingredients. How cool is that!

Just wish I could find a company that sold "motivation" for those days when it just isn't quite there!

Thanks for the list and keep up the good work. You look great!

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FLEXCHEF 5/10/2010 12:56PM

    Dont forget about a friend for support when you need to make that once in a great while break down phone call just to have someone listen. We all need support. Great blog Nancy and I have a little strength back but still down. You know I am still here for you.

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ETORRES88 5/10/2010 12:51PM

    This is helpful. thanks,

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