Chocolate Pumpkin Protein Bars and Beginner Ski Workout

Food

Two weeks ago I made some of Paige’s No Bake Protein Bars and happily munched on them as a great go-to snack. Since I finished that batch, I’ve been looking for another protein bar recipe. This morning I cracked open my last can of pumpkin for an oatmeal breakfast and was inspired to create some sort of pumpkin bar.

Limited by my lack of groceries , I found a recipe on Snack Girl’s blog from Katie at Lilveggiepatch.com for Chocolate Pumpkin Protein Bars. Sold!

I made a few changes to the recipe, using almond butter instead of peanut butter, molasses instead of agave, flax seeds instead of pumpkin seeds, and 3 T pumpkin instead of prunes (didn’t have any). I also decided to not add the 1/4 cup of sugar. I’ve been trying to cut back on my sugar intake since I find my blood sugar dropping more quickly later, causing me to eat more. Lately I’ve been craving sugar at every meal which is not good.

Well cutting out the sugar definitely makes these taste “healthy” so I would recommend adding sugar if you can’t stand bland treats. I happen to enjoy cakey snacks and can see myself drizzling these with honey or crumbling on top of yogurt and fruit if I want to up the sweet factor. These would also be good baked with chocolate chips or raisins to add natural sweetness. They also came out fairly dry so next time I would definitely add more pumpkin.

Chow time!

Workout

My dad is going on two ski trips next month and came to me for some exercises to get in shape for the slopes. My dad works out fairly regularly, however like most guys he tends to avoid leg exercises in the weight room. I most definitely inherited the Chmielewski chicken legs and know how hard it is to build muscle in my legs and calves. Spin class has certainly helped!

To help my dad prepare for the slopes, I put together an easy leg workout focused on lateral moves and a couple of explosive moves. Both are important for skiing where you are basically hopping side to side down the mountain. I also included two arm exercises for triceps and upper back to make pushing with ski poles easier. Finally, I included two core exercises to protect my dad’s back and spine while crushing the slopes.

Ready to Ski-Beginner Workout

You probably know by now that I love circuit workouts. Moving from exercise to exercise boosts your heart rate and metabolism and fatigues your muscles much faster. Each superset is designated by color. Alternate between two exercises until you’ve complete 2-3 sets of each exercise. Then move on to the next superset.

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I’ve written a description on some of the exercises below. If you have questions on anything, just let me know.

Glute Bridge on Stability Ball: This is a great exercise to begin your leg workout. This teaches your glutes to fire properly for the rest of the workout. You can either do the bridge on a stability ball or on the floor. I like the stability ball because of its extra core challenge.

Walk your feet out so your shoulders and head are on the ball, legs and feet pointing straight ahead. Draw your bellybutton in toward your spine. Squeeze your glutes and lift your lower extremity up towards the ceiling. Really squeeze your glutes at the top and slowly lower without touching the floor.

Side Step Out with Resistance Band

Most people seem to forget moving laterally when it comes to legs. For skiing, most movement is side to side so it is especially important to condition the muscles on the inner and outer portion of the leg. Allie at Colour Me Happy did a great video explanation and demonstration of this exercise so check it out.

Side step with resistance band

Take a band and wrap it tightly around your legs. I like to tie it directly above my knees but you can also tie it below the knee or around the ankles. Get into a slight squat and starting with your right leg grounded, step your left foot out to the side and then back in, lightly tapping the ground. Track your knee over your second toe and make the movement as slow and controlled as possible. After 10 with your left foot, ground your left leg and do 10 steps with your right foot.

Step-Ups to Bench:

Using just your bodyweight or holding a light pair of dumbbells, step up and down with the same leg for the first set. Switch legs after 15. Push through your heel to step onto the bench to engage your glutes. Step quickly but controlled to get your hear-rate up.

Front/Back Lunge:

Your choice! Keeping in mind that back lunges put more emphasis on your quads. Either stick to front lunges or alternate sets of front and back lunges. You could even alternate front and back lunges within a set! Take a step forward or back and press through your heels to stand. At the top of each lunge, do not set down your foot. Instead, keep that foot up during the entire set to challenge your balance.

Side Lunge:

Targets your inner and outer thighs. Step to the side, keeping your toes pointing forward, bending only the leg you stepped out with while straightening your other leg. Press through your heel to return to the starting position and repeat.

Bunny Hops:

This exercise mimics skiing and can be progressed to a challenging plyometric move. To begin, get into a slight squat and push through your feet to jump from side to side. To advance the move, place a taller object like towel or medicine ball to jump over. Keep your legs together, landing softly (this girl’s form is pretty awkward).

The final progression is to continuously jump from side to side without stopping to squat.

Squat Jumps: 

This move is great for skiing which requires explosive movements of your legs. Get into a squat by hinging at the hips, chest back, and explode through your feet, reaching your arms to the ceiling and squeezing your glutes. Land softly, making sure your knees don’t pass your toes.

Russian Twists:

Look, I found Russian twists demonstrated by a Russian! Begin with knees bent, feet on the floor or feet in the air. Keep the ball in front of your chest and rotate at the trunk to bring the ball across your body to each side.

And there you have it! Some exercises to get you in shape for the slopes! Too bad Florida has no snow to speak of and is hot and humid already. In February. It’s going to be a long summer.


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