Here's something you're going to love: a total-body workout you can do without even having to stand up. That's right, for those days you're feeling a little lazy (it happens to the best of us), we've created an efficient series of exercises you can do in the comfort of your pj's. But before you write this off as easy, try it for yourself. There's a whole lot of burn and bum work, but hey, at least you can skip the gym — just this once!
Love it or hate it, coconut is here to stay — especially when it comes to healthy bites. Found in everything from curry to cocktails (yes, cocktails), coconut is finding its way into many recipes as a nutritional boost and dairy substitute. Coconut oil is thought to treat skin conditions and raise good cholesterol, while coconut water is loaded with electrolytes. Just in time for Summer, we found 14 recipes that are tropical to taste yet friendly on your waist. Now get to it!
You already turn to POPSUGAR Fitness for the latest on workouts, fitness gear, and tips on healthy living, but we don't stop here! For an extra dose of all things fitness, find us on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Google+. Whether we're sharing our favorite running shoe or new moves from celebrity trainers, here's how find us:
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The next time you head to the drugstore, be sure to add tea tree oil to the top of your list. With its ability to cure everything from poison ivy rashes to acne, this oil is up there with magic when it comes to natural remedies. An Australian plant extract, tea tree oil acts as both a topical antibacterial and an antimicrobial agent. While we even use it to clean our yoga mats, here are the three reasons why this powerful oil is the star of our medicine cabinet.
- Heals cuts and burns: Tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic, meaning it can be used to help treat wounds and burns. Although large clinical studies are lacking, a study done by the National Center For Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) found that tea tree oil can be used for the treatment or wounds and bacterial infections; something the aboriginal people of Australia have believed for years. Try using a small amount of tea tree oil to heal razor burns, small cuts, and even sunburns. You can even dilute it a bit with water, since the oil can be quite potent!
- Clears blemishes: Tea tree oil is famed for its skin-clearing abilities. In fact, one study found that a tea tree oil gel offers similar results to a 5 percent benzoyl peroxide. Although it probably won't clear severe acne, it's an alternative solution to harsh chemicals and alcohol for the occasional blemish or two.
- Relieves athlete's foot: Tree tree can be known to cure all your flip flop woes. Because it's an antifungal, it's known to relieve symptoms of athlete's foot, including scaling, inflammation, itching, and burning. To completely rid the infection naturally, a stronger tea tree oil solution (25 percent or 50 percent) is likely to work best. You can also use it to fight nail infections. It will take time, but applying a tea tree oil solution, twice daily for six months, can cure fungal toenail infection and improve the appearance of nails.
If you're struggling with dropping those last few pounds, then ditch the diet and race to your dream body — literally! Instead of getting frustrated, sign up for a race and start seeing results. Unlike the gym or diets, entering a race will keep you on track and motivated. It doesn't have to be a marathon, either; there are several beginner-friendly options like triathlons and 5Ks just for women. Between the deadline and a training plan, there are a lot of reasons why a little competition should have you well on your way to your fitness goals.
- There's a deadline: A set date means a set goal. With the race marked on your calendar, there is little room for procrastination or excuses. Because you have to be in shape by a certain day, it offers you all the more reason to create a schedule and visualize your dream body by a specific date.
- There's a plan: When it comes a training, find something that works for you: a friend, group, or program. To start, consider training plans for a sprint triathlon, half marathon, or a marathon. Remember, you don't have to do it alone. Training with a motivating partner is a great way to hold you accountable, and many races have local training clubs leading up to race day (that information can be found on their webpage).
- There's money involved: Races aren't free. On average, entry fees are about $100 — a bargain considering most diet programs. With money on the line, this is all the more reason to follow through and get the most bang for your buck. Aside from your hot body, you'll probably walk away with loads of swag, too — win.
- There's variety: Let's be honest — diets can be bland, and the gym can be routine. Training for a race (especially a triathlon) allows you mix it up. Between strength training at the gym and hitting the pavement outdoors, there are several way to keep it fresh and prevent boredom.
- There's a lot of fun to be had: Signing up for your first competition can be nerve-racking, but ultimately it's fun. Not only will you be training toward your goals, but also, you'll develop friendships and learn a lot about yourself along the way. Don't forget about the postrace parties, either. There's rarely a race without a celebration that doesn't include food or dancing!
Instead of sticking to your usual running routine this week, challenge your legs with a swim. Similar to running, swimming is an optimal cardio workout and an impact-friendly way to cross-train. A total-body workout, this intermediate swim includes sets geared specifically at your legs. Substitute it for one of your weekly runs, or use it to train for your next triathlon. It's a tough one, but your legs will thank you!
Add a walking lunge to your workout and step right into those short shorts! Considered a basic lunge with a boost, this move not only works your glutes, hamstrings, and quads; it tones your biceps too. With a pair of dumbbells and an open space, walking lunges will tone both your arms and legs in one simple move, here's how!
- Stand upright, feet together, holding two dumbbells (5-10 lbs.) at your sides.
- Take a controlled step forward with your left leg, curling the dumbbells to your shoulders, keeping your elbows close to the body.
- Lower hips toward the floor and bend both knees (almost at 90 degree angles). The back knee should come close but never touch the ground. Your front knee should be directly over the ankle and the back knee should be pointing down toward the floor.
- Push off with your right foot and bring it forward to starting position, lowering the dumbbells to your side. This completes one rep.
- Next step forward and repeat with the right leg.
- Do two to three sets of 15 reps.
You can easily modify this move for beginners without weights, keeping your arms by your side.
Have five minutes to spare? Take your posture from poor to perfect with this quick back workout. Combining a variety of exercises from yoga to weights, this sequence will not only improve your posture, but it will help your runs, too. Beginners, try doing each exercise for 30 seconds and, when needed, rest in a 30-second Child's Pose. For an advanced version, complete each exercise for a minute, finishing with a long stretch.
Number One: Superman Lifts
- Lie on your belly, engage your abs, and extend your arms straight out in front of you.
- Lift your legs, arms, and chest off the floor. Hold for a count of 10 and then slowly release your body back to the floor.
- Perform as many reps as you can in one minute.
Make this move more challenging by holding a stability ball between your legs.
Number Two: Warrior 3
- Stand with your feet together. Inhale as you extend your arms out wide in a T position or straight overhead for a more advanced variation.
- Exhale as you bend forward at your hips, lifting your right leg straight behind you coming into Warrior 3. Draw your navel toward your spine and hold for five breaths. Then come to stand, lower your right leg, and repeat with the left leg lifted for another five breaths.
- Continue this movement for one minute
Keep reading to see the rest of the workout.
If you're new to lunges or looking to add a basic exercise to your fitness routine, then consider a reverse lunge. Compared to a basic lunge, this exercise places less stress on the knees while still toning your entire leg. Better yet, once you're familiar with the movement, you can increase the burn and improve balance with the addition of dumbbells. Read how to do a reverse lunge below!
- To begin, stand tall and take a controlled lunge (or large step) backward with your left foot.
- Lower your hips so that your right thigh (front leg) becomes parallel to the floor and your right knee is positioned directly over your ankle. Keep your left knee bent at a 90-degree angle and pointing toward the floor. Your left heel should be lifted.
- When your left knee is almost touching the floor, hold. Then, slowly push with your left foot to raise your pelvis up a bit, then straighten your knees and return your left leg back to starting position next to your right leg.
- This completes one rep. Complete 10 reps before repeating the movement and the repetitions on your right side.
If you already start your day off with breakfast, you're on the right track, but are you are making the smartest choices? It's often favorites like bagels and granola that offer a boost in energy (cough, cough, they are loaded with sugar) but aren't necessarily the best option for your waistline. Because breakfast really is the most important meal of the day, start your morning off with these smart swaps to keep you on track for the rest of the day!
- Swap Number One: Croissant for an English muffin. Sorry, but it's time to break up with that strawberry-filled, buttery croissant. But don't get too sad — a homemade whole wheat English muffin isn't so bad. Considering a croissant is about 560 calories and an English muffin 120, you're saving your waistline a load. Top with strawberry jam (40 calories per tablespoon), and you won't be missing a thing!
- Swap Number Two: Granola for oatmeal. Whether it's in fashion or in your cereal bowl, "going granola" isn't the best choice. Sure, it's crunchy, but most store-bought granolas have tons of sugar and calories for a very small serving. Keep it clean and swap it for a warm bowl of oatmeal. Not only will it keep you full longer, but a bowl of oatmeal is significantly lower in calories. If you still aren't convinced, check out this oatmeal vs. granola showdown.
- Swap Number Three: A bagel for toast. Nothing beats a bagel until you realized it is equivalent to five slices of bread! Save yourself and swap it for two slices of whole wheat toast. With the calories you'll save (about 330 calories), you can even add peanut butter to avoid midmorning hunger.
Love 'em or hate 'em, protein powers are known to boost energy levels, build endurance, and provide important nutrients. Although most women don't necessarily need the hefty doses of protein these powders provide, they make a great breakfast shake or on-the-go meal. They are also perfect after an endurance workout — especially strength training — aiding in the body's recovery and muscle breakdown repair. Now, with so many options, like gluten-free and superfood additions, powders are no longer just for the buff and bodybuilders. A fan of these convenient powders ourselves, we often mix them with fruit and nut butters to assure the chalky taste is gone for good. We want to know: are you a fan of these protein-packed powders? Whether you're a gym-goer, vegetarian, or simply too busy to cook, let us know in the poll below!
If you're looking to challenge yourself both in and out of the water, grab the girls and sign up for a triathlon! Between the swim, bike, and run, triathlons are a great way to get into shape and test your athleticism. But, you don't need to be a seasoned athlete to sign up; we found three races fit for ladies of all levels. From the Mermaid Series to the Iron Girl, each triathlon offers something unique and often tunes and tapas too!
- Cost: Price varies depending on location and registration date, but expect it to be around $65-$140.
- Prize: Medal, commemorative jersey (it's really cute!), and post-race party.
- Training Groups? Because this race is designed to motivate you to achieve your goals there are several ways to train and stay motivated. From coaches, mentors, and training groups, you can find all the information here.
- Locations: Tempe, San Diego, and Naperville.
- Cost: Price varies depending on location and registration date, but expect it to be around $95-$125.
- Prize: Medal, performance shirts, personalized bibs, and a post-race breakfast.
- Training Groups? From resources to training groups, there are several ways to prepare for race day, check them out here.
- Locations: Santa Rosa, Clearwater, Cherry Creek, Lake Las Vegas, Columbia, Syracuse, Rocky Gap, Atlanta, Pleasant Prairie, Sandy Hook, Del Mar, Austin, Columbia, Bloomington, Fountain Hills, Lake Zurich, Seattle, and Clermont.
- Cost: Price varies depending on package and registration date, but expect to pay around $85-$105.
- Prize: Pendant, t-shirts, and post-race food.
- Training Groups? Yes! You can choose to join TeamMermaid, attend a clinic, or find training advice here.
- Locations: Capitola and Alameda
Attention nail-biters, this post is for you! Aside from being a fashion statement, nails are an important part of your overall health. In fact, discoloration, indentations, or opaqueness can often be signs of more serious conditions such as anemia, hepatitis, or lupus. Keep these five tips in mind for the healthiest nails yet.
- Just like your bones, nail health relies on a balanced diet that includes plenty of protein and vitamins. If you're worried something is missing, try keeping a food journal to notice any patterns or starting your morning with a nutrient-rich breakfast smoothie.
- If you're one to often change your nail polish, use an acetone-free remover. Acetone is harsh and can dry out your nails, causing them to crack, which can lead to an infection under your nails.
- Although it can be tempting, don't bite, pick, or tear your hangnails. Not only is this bad habit unflattering, but it will also damage your nail bed (the skin underneath your nail). It can also allow bacteria to enter your skin and cause an infection. Instead, use a clean manicure set to do the dirty work.
- Just like flossing, make nail care a healthy habit. Regularly trim your nails (with a clipper, not your teeth), and smooth rough edges with an emery board. Clean under your nails, and then moisturize them to prevent cracking or breakage.
- If you like to get manicures and pedicures (what girl doesn't?), make sure you go to a reputable place that cleans its instruments between each customer. This is key to preventing infection.
The next time you're at the gym, elevate your workout with box jumps. A popular exercise among athletes and in CrossFit workouts, box jumps test speed and agility while also increasing your heart rate. To do this plyometric exercise, all you need is a box (solid or padded) or an elevated platform. Depending on your fitness level and goals, use a single box to improve your agility or stagger boxes for obstacle-testing efficiency. Before you get jumping, keep these tips in mind:
- Consider your box height: First things first, consider the height of the box. On average, most boxes are between 12 and 24 inches. If you're solely testing your vertical ability or doing a singular jump, a taller box is appropriate. But if you're testing speed or creating a course, consider smaller boxes or staggering those of different heights. Remember, you can also work your way up. Always start lower to prevent injury and get comfortable with the movement.
- Create a workout for your goals: Your goals should determine how and what type of box jumps you do. If you're starting out, you may only focus on the "jump," then step down. If you're looking for a cardio workout, do several jumps in a row. To improve your balance, try jumping with one leg.
- Use your entire body: Although jumps are primarily a lower body move, they do work your entire body. Use your starting position to set up the entire movement: engage your core, bend at the knees, and allow your arms to provide you with momentum. Relying on your entire body will affect your stance and help you stay light on your feet.
Forget cleaning up your fitness act; it's time to get dirty! Leave the pavement behind, and get fit with your girls in a mud run. Not your average race environment, these courses are filled with muddy obstacles to challenge your strength and agility. No need to be embarrassed, either. These races are only for the girls, so those tutus and tiaras can make their appearance outside your costume box. When all is said and done, (we promise) you'll be guaranteed a good laugh and an active adventure with your girlfriends. What more could you ask for?
Mud and Obstacle Runs
- Cost: $65 to $100, depending on location.
- Prize: Memories, live music, and refreshing (adult) beverages.
- Training Groups? Don't be so serious! You can train for it, but ultimately, Dirty Girl is just a great active outing with your friends.
- Locations: With events in almost all states, there's likely to be a run near you! Go here for exact locations.
- Cost: $70
- Prize: A "pretty epic finish-line party."
- Training Groups? Although all fitness levels are encouraged, you can find training groups near each race location.
- Locations: Dallas, Richmond (VA), Sacramento, Atlanta, Chicago, Tampa, Columbus, and Miami.
- Cost: $55 to $75, depending on registration date.
- Prize: A limited-edition t-shirt, Shape magazine, swag bag, custom bib, and donations to local nonprofits.
- Training Groups? Although all fitness levels are encouraged, you can find training groups and partners near each race location.
- Locations: Atlanta, San Diego, Austin, Boulder, Fort Worth, Chicago, Boston, Washington, New York Metro, and Miami.
Side lunges offer a new take on regular lunges. They allow you to work your hips, glutes and thighs a bit differently than traditional squats and lunges while still targeting the major muscles of the lower body. They offer a really good workout and are friendly on the knees, reducing the risk of injury. First, start with your body weight. Once you get the movement down, add dumbbells for more of a challenge. Here is how to do them:
- Holding a pair of dumbbells, stand with your feet and knees together.
- Take a large step with your right foot to the right side and lunge toward the floor.
- Make sure your right knee does not extend past your toes and keep your left leg relatively straight.
- Push off through your right foot to return to the start to complete one.
- Do three sets of 10 on each side.
This Summer, make swimsuit season even hotter with the addition of spice. It's true; spices curb your appetite, leading to a hotter you — no pun intended. According to Kate Geagan, MS, RD, author of Go Green, Get Lean, herbs and spices can play tricks on your sweet tooth. Adding a spicy combo to your meals expands your palette without extra calories. It may also decrease the amount of salt, fat, and sugar you use, keeping you satisfied without sacrificing flavor.
Take red chili peppers for example, research has found that sprinkling them on meals curbs your appetite because capsaicin — the heat factor — not only reduces hunger, it increases energy levels too. Try adding a spice rub to your meal's protein or a dash of cinnamon in your next cup of coffee. Because cravings are so overrated . . .
Get this, jet-setters: aside from renting movies at your next hotel stay, you can rent workout gear. Yes, leave those kicks behind if you're planning on staying at any Westin or Fairmont Hotel, because you can now "borrow" workout apparel and footwear. For a small fee of $5 or $10, you can borrow clothing and sneakers from top brands like Reebok and New Balance. These packages include a t-shirt, capris, and running shoes in your size (the Westin program also includes new socks that you can keep). At the Fairmont, you can also request to have an MP3 player — playlists included — and a yoga mat ready at check-in.
Sure, the idea of making our carry-on light is appealing, but we're not quite sure if we're sold. Workouts involve sweating, and this time it wouldn't be in our own shoes or even pants — hmmm. But it's a cool concept, especially if you forgot something or randomly decide to hit the gym. Let us know what you think: is this service a little too good to be true?
It's time to redefine what it means to have a girls' night out — with a run! Forget heading to the movies this Friday night and start training for a half or full marathon. More like a dance party, these races take place in fun locations, require tons of girl power, and are nothing short of bright costumes. Making fun the main priority, there's no doubt this type of competitive spirit will bring you closer to your gals while helping you stay fit too. Check out the 5K, half, and full marathon races we found throughout the country; the hardest part will be deciding if you'd rather be rewarded at the finish line with bling, bubbly, or both!
- ZOOMA Race Series: Consider the ZOOMA series your fit weekend getaway filled with “mocktail” parties, yoga sessions, and a 5K or half marathon run. Awaiting at the finish line will be wine, live music, massages, and tons of girl power!
- Cost: Prices vary by location, but expect the half marathon to be around $120 and 5K, $90.
- Prize: A ZOOMA swag bag and tons of free goodies like massages and wine.
- Training Groups? Yes, find them here.
- Locations: Annapolis, Chicago, Cape Cod, Florida, and Austin.
- Nike Women's Marathon: The largest women's marathon in the world, the Nike series takes place in both Washington DC and San Francisco. The event is filled with a sense of community, stylish gear, and raises awareness for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. You can choose to run the half marathon or full in San Francisco; the Washington DC race is a half marathon.
- Cost: Price hasn't been set, but the random draw for the San Francisco race opens June 3, 2013.
- Prize: Ready for this? Each finisher receives an exclusive necklace designed by Tiffany & Co!
- Training Groups? Yes, find them here.
- Locations: San Francisco and Washington DC.