Katie’s First Prom + Peanut Butter Protein Balls Recipe

Warning:  Overload of cheesy prom pictures ahead.  Proceed with caution.

However, if you stay with me, I promise I’ll have a recipe to share.  It’s a give and take, you see? I force my millions of pictures of my child upon you and you receive a parting gift for you efforts. 😉

Anyhoo….on to the prom pics!

Katie is just a freshman, so we really didn’t anticipate prom this year, but our sweet neighbor invited her and she wanted to go, so we jumped into action and got her prom ready just in the nick of time!  She said it was a lot of fun and I have to say, it was lovely (if not somewhat sad and terrifying) to see her all dolled up for the evening.  When you are mainly used to seeing your child in a ball uniform or sweats and a tee shirt, it can be quite shocking to see them all adult-ish looking.

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Sister sister ❤

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My beautiful niece and her date.

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My nephew and his gorgeous date.

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Ready for After Prom

That was fun, but a tad stressful, between trying to find the perfect dress, shoes, and accessories.  I’m glad it’s come and gone.  Now we just need to buckle down and focus on finishing up the school year.

This week, I’m going to be focusing on some snack prep.  I’ve been a little lax here lately with my snacking efforts, which actually means that I’ve just been eating junk food between meals.  This week I’m vowing to get my act together, so I’m going to be making some peanut butter protein balls and hard-boiling several eggs to have when I get hungry between meals.

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Peanut Butter Protein Balls

These have become my favorite high-protein snack. They take care of sweets cravings for me too!

1/2 c oats
1/2 c natural peanut butter (I look for something with close to 3g of sugar or less)
1/2 c protein powder (Currently using Optimum Nutrition brand, 100% whey protein, available on Amazon or at GNC)
2 T honey
2 T dark chocolate chips (optional)

Mix it all together adding a little bit of water if necessary to make it all stick together, should be a cookie dough-like consistency. Use an ice cream scooper or spoon to scoop into 12 balls. One serving is 2 protein balls. And FYI, I usually just go ahead and double the recipe because they don’t last long. Store them in the fridge.

These are a great alternative to junk food/sweets. They give you a good dose of protein while simultaneously curbing your sweet tooth.

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Skillet Lasagna or something like that…

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I don’t know why I’m calling this skillet lasagna.  It’s not really lasagna-like at all.  If we want to get technical it’s more like….Italianish Stuff Thrown Into A Skillet.  Yeah, that’s real technical. Lasagna is layers of pasta, sauce, cheese, etc and there’s really no layering here.  This recipe title sucks now that I think about it.  I’ll have my people get on a new one ASAP.

This is one of B’s favorite meals that I make.  Though I think he says that about everything.  But whatevs, he likes it, ok?  And the girls like it too, so win/win.

I used to try to avoid pasta in the evenings.  I’m most active during the morning/afternoon, or at least that’s what I kept telling myself, but then one day I was like, you know what?  That’s a load of crap.  I’m active ALL DANG DAY.  And that’s the truth.  These days are madness and running 24/7.  So, I kind of don’t sweat the carbs at night much anymore.  But I do try to make the portions smallish (which is why I chose a big salad to go along with it).  Unless it’s Whitt’s pizza, ok?  I’m just gonna go ahead and get that out there because when Whitt’s is in the house, caution is thrown to the wind, all bets are off, and carbs are not the boss of me!  Don’t judge me.  You don’t know my life.

Anyhoo…first off, if you aren’t already making my homemade pasta sauce you should be!  So good.  So so good!  And it’s definitely the star of this dish.  I do add about 8 oz of tomato sauce to the original recipe for this one because the pasta seems to soak up a lot of it.

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Here’s the recipe for that:

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 t minced garlic
  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 2 T dried parsley
  • 1 t basil
  • 1/2 t oregano
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t pepper
  • 1 t stevia or sugar (optional – this gives it just a bit of sweetness and helps cut out the acidity a little bit)
  • 1/8 t crushed red pepper (optional – gives the sauce a nice kick!)
  • Saute the garlic in olive oil for 2 minutes or until golden.
  • Add rest of ingredients, cover & simmer 15 minutes.
  • **If making sauce to use on pizza, add 1 small can of tomato paste**

Now, without further ado I give you….Some Kind of Italianish Stuff Thrown into a Skillet! *If anyone thinks of a good title, lemme know.*

1 lb ground turkey or lean ground beef
1 onion, diced
2 tsp minced garlic
8 oz tomato sauce
one batch of homemade sauce from above and add the 8 oz of tomato sauce to this
2 C. water
1 bay leaf
3 C. uncooked pasta of choice (I used bowtie this time because Hannah thinks they’re funny)
1 C. mozzarella
1/4 C. parmesan

Brown meat, garlic, and onion in large cast iron skillet (or other oven-safe skillet), I love my cast iron skillet because I can put it right into the oven to brown the cheese on top.  If you don’t have an oven-safe skillet you can just skip the last step and let the cheese melt on it’s own.

Add rest of ingredients, except cheese.  Bring to boil.  Reduce heat to simmer and cook until pasta is done and mixture is thick, about 15-20 min.  Remove bay leaf.

Top with cheese, place in oven and broil a few minutes until cheese is just starting to brown and bubble on top.  I served this with a big veggie-filled salad, and also some garlic bread for the rest of my crew who could care less about carbs/bread, which is how I like it.  😉

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Ramblings on a weirdly warm January day..

For the Indiana readers of this blog, how weird is this weather right now???  I feel like I’m living in some alternate universe right now where nothing is as it’s supposed to be.  Like windows open and cooking on the grill in January….seriously, what the crap is up with that?

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I have been crocheting my fingers off since early December making these messy bun hats that everyone is going crazy over.  Not that I’m complaining.  For a family that never takes trips, like ever, we have 2 week long beach vacations planned this year and a trip to Michigan, so the extra money is helping tremendously with that.  I’ve got more projects lined up so I’m going to be happy to finish up these hats, if the orders ever stop coming in.

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Aside from that, Hannah can’t stop breaking her feet.  The right in October and now the left one!  Both times while playing basketball.  She loves to play, and of course, we love watching her, but I’ll be kind of glad when her IGHL league ends in mid-February so I can stop wincing every time her feet hit the court!  Softball is a little less demanding on her ginormous ski’s and on her new team, she’ll rarely catch, so it will be less strain on her achillies, which has been another problem area for her.  We’re looking forward to her getting healthy and back into action on the field.

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In other news, Katie went to a camp at Franklin college and had some very nice compliments from the coach, as well as him letting us know that she was put on their recruiting list.  (per NCAA rules, he can’t contact her until her Junior year, but that was pretty cool and encouraging for her to see that her hard work over the years is paying off.

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So that’s the happs with us right now.  I sometimes get so caught up in posting all my fitness stuff here that I forget to document things for the fam.  But you know I’m not gonna leave you hanging with nothing in that category, so I’m going to share this yummy recipe that we had the other day.  Oh, and Haaaiii, Christina, don’t worry girl, I got you!   I will be posting those dressing recipes for you very soon! 😉

Here’s a very simply recipe for Beef Quesadillas with Homemade Guacamole & Pico.

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Just brown 1 lb beef with an onion and 2 tsp minced garlic.  Drain and add 1-2 T. homemade taco seasoning.

Fill one half of tortilla with beef mixture.  Sprinkle a little bit of shredded cheese on top if you wish.  Fold over and cook on griddle until crispy, then flip and repeat on other side.

Now for the Pico. I just chopped up and drained 2 ripe tomatoes, added salt, pepper, juice of one lime, some fresh cilantro, garlic, 2 jalapenos (diced fine), and about half of an onion, (diced fine).

For the guac, I peeled and chopped 2 avocado, added the juice of one lime, salt and pepper and mashed it all together with a fork.

That’s it!  Super easy and perfect for a busy week night!

Honey Glazed Salmon Recipe and if apps are your thing, you’re gonna need to read this!

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Okay, so I have a confession to make.  I didn’t actually eat this salmon.  Um…I actually don’t like seafood.  I’ve tried it a couple of different times in my life to no avail.  You see, I want to like it.  It’s so good for you!  But I….Just. Can’t.  Like, I actually gagged when I was trying to get the raw salmon out of the package and into the baking dish.  Sorry, but I did.  Me and seafood…we got issues.  But that’s a topic for another day.  Or possibly for a therapist.  Anyway, I opted for a protein shake in place of the salmon.  See?  I’m not a total loser…heh heh…still got my protein in!

The rest of my family loved this meal!  My husband is always crying about how he never gets to eat any seafood because I don’t like it.  Big man-baby pansy. So I’ve decided to try to start throwing some on the meal plan every so often.  And I’ll just have a shake on those nights.

The best thing about this?  It was ready in about 30 minutes!

Here’s how to make the meal above:

1 bunch bok choy, washed, stalks cut off, roughly chop the leaves
2 C chicken or vegetable broth (or water)
2 tsp minced garlic, divided
2 tsp minced ginger, divided
2 Cups instant brown rice (you don’t have to use instant, I just did because I needed this meal to be quick)
1 lemon
1 1/2 lb salmon fillet
crushed red pepper (as desired)
2 T. honey
8 T. soy sauce
olive oil

Preheat to 425.
In medium bowl whisk together 1/2 the garlic and ginger, then add the juice of one lemon, soy sauce (I found this to be a little much and will probably reduce it to 6 T. next time), and honey.

Place salmon in baking dish and pour half of the sauce mixture on top.  Bake 15-20 minutes, until salmon is opaque.  Pour on rest of sauce halfway through baking time.

While salmon is cooking, bring broth to boil in small saucepan.  Add rice & stir.  Reduce heat to simmer, cover, and cook 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand 5 min.

Heat skillet over medium heat with a little olive oil.  Add remaining garlic, ginger, and crushed red pepper to taste.  Add bok choy and a little bit of soy sauce.  Saute about 2-3 minutes.

This recipe came from the app called Mealime.  Which leads me to my next point!  I have a few great app suggestions I’d like to share with you.  I love these because they all help me keep myself on track throughout the day.

First up is Mealime.

It’s a great meal planning app that you can customize to suit your tastes or goals.  I know the paid version offers a little more customization, but for now, the free version works perfectly for me.

Why do I love it?  I’m glad you asked!  Do you ever get just totally burned out on meal planning?  Nothing sounds good, you don’t want to take the time to do it, you can’t think of anything….
This app takes all of that away.  You set your preferences.  You can even tell it foods that you don’t like and it won’t give you recipes with them in it.  It comes with a complete grocery list for all of the meals.  If you don’t like a meal that it has planned for you, you just swipe it away and it’s replaced by another.  I LOVE it!
The only negative that I have found with this so far is that it’s a ‘Dinner only’ planner.  So there’s no breakfast or lunches or snacks planned.  But for me, dinner is the hardest part of the meal plan to come up with.  I’m sure there are other apps out there that will plan all of your meals for you if you want, I just didn’t need that so I stopped looking when I found this one.

The next app that I am loving right now is called Our Home.  I use it to assign the girls’ chores and keep track of my own somewhat, too.

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The girls each have the app on their phones, as well.  When they come home from school, they can open it up and see what they need to get done for the day.  You can schedule the tasks to repeat weekly, daily, monthly, etc.  It’s pretty awesome.  And they can check them off as they are completed.

I have recently started using some of the features on the Fly Lady app to keep track of different cleaning projects I like to get done each month.

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This app can be used as little or as much as you like. From daily tasks to complete all the way to monthly chores.   I like that she sets up different zones to focus on each month, so that in addition to my normal housework, I can be reminded to do other projects that might get overlooked like cleaning out the linen closet or the pantry.  I don’t really think about those things often, so I can get reminders about those type of things.

And finally I want to share with you a great workout app that I think would be perfect if you are wanting to start exercising but don’t have a clue what to do.

8fit is also a free app, with the option to upgrade to the paid version for more perks.  I use the daily beginner workouts as my warm up for my lifting sessions and it’s perfect!  I don’t get bored with doing the same old warm up because it’s something different every day.  You can set your level (beginner, intermediate, advanced) and the type of exercise you’d like to do, and also set your goals.  Each exercise has a video demo of how to correctly perform the movement.

So that’s it!  I hope you’ll give some of these a try.  I’m all for anything that makes life a little easier and these really do the trick for me!

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Why I’m OK with looking stupid

I did something today for the very first time ever.  And quickly discovered why I’ve never done it before.

I posted a video of myself jumping rope on Instagram.  Yesterday I added a Tabata jump rope routine on to the end of my lower body workout.  I decided to take a video of it.  I honestly don’t know why.  Curiosity, I guess?  To see if I looked as dumb as I felt I looked.  Yep.  I did.

Anyway, suffice it to say that it was kind of comical to me.  I was jiggly.  My boobs are starting to sag, and I mean let’s face it, was I really that surprised by that?  No.   I’m 41, the girls are going to succumb to gravity eventually.  I looked haggard, as it was early morning and I hadn’t showered or combed my hair or basically done anything to myself since getting out of bed.

I try to use my Instagram account to draw traffic to my blog.  Mostly.  I also post a lot of family pics there too.  But most of my posts are in some way related to my fitness journey.  There are many fitness accounts out there.  Most of the accounts I follow show perfect, hard-bodied fitness kings and queens.  The lighting is always perfect.  The muscles are plentiful and sculpted.  Their videos leave us viewers in awe of their perfect form and flawless aesthetics.  They offer lots of advice on how to achieve results like theirs.

And then there’s me.  Jumping rope like a walrus with all my stuff jangling about all over the place.  You’re welcome, Instagram followers.  You’re so very welcome.  As dumb as I may look sometimes, there are some pretty valid reasons for posting things like that.

First, it’s kind of a way for me to keep accountable.  I feel like if I put stuff like that out there, I am portraying myself as living a certain lifestyle.  A lifestyle that says my health and fitness are important to me.  And if I’m going to talk the talk, I need to make sure I’m walking the walk.

But another good reason is that not everyone out there working on their fitness is a bikini model.  Not everyone is a clone of Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime.  Some of us are just regular moms and dads who are looking to improve our overall strength and stamina, but who also have jobs and families to take care of.  We don’t have professional photo shoots.  We don’t have fitness clothing line sponsors.  We have butts to wipe and dried snot on our shoulder and dinner to make and homework to help with.  Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of regular people out there like me who are documenting their fitness journey, too.  And I appreciate them.  I appreciate the perfect people too.  They all give me inspiration, which is what I also hope to give to others.  I want people to feel that they are not alone when they struggle, because I struggle, too.  I want them to be able to laugh at themselves and keep plugging away instead of feeling that they aren’t ever going to be successful.

So, if there could be a spokesperson for the regular folk out there who are just trying to be a better version of themselves, then let it be me and my jiggly jump rope video.  My skin is thick  enough to take the criticism.  I volunteer as tribute!

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Happy 2017!

2016 was a year of crazy politics, a few big changes for us as a family, and unfortunately, a year of sadness.  We lost two close friends.  They both died too young, leaving those of us who loved them behind to try to move on through life without them.

Needless to say, I was ready for the new year.  I know that time marches on and January 1st is just another day, but it does always feel like a new slate and new beginning to me.

So far, 2017 has been fun.  For starters, our beautiful Katie Bug has turned 15!

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I do not understand how this has happened.  Because, for real, she looked like this yesterday, right?

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We had an awesome game night to celebrate her special day and then a family dinner out at her favorite italian restaurant.  I realize that she will soon be driving, but in a pretend sort of way.  I’m not really letting that in on the radar yet.  Because, as I said, she should still look like this…

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Brian was able to enjoy 11 whole days off over the holidays.  He had been working 7 days a week, 12 hours a day for a VERY LONG time and we had thought he might have to work through the holidays, but it turned out that he was able to be off and thank goodness for that because he needed a break.  We really enjoyed all the down time at home with just the 4 of us.  So thankful for his job and the security it brings, but it’s nice to be able to have a break once in a while.

I try not to set resolutions anymore because honestly, mine are always the same.  Be healthy.  Be happy.  So, it’s really more of a regrouping and refocusing for me.  With that being said, 2017 is going to be the year that I finally attempt Intermittent Fasting.

Say whaaaaa????

Yep, intermittent fasting.  It kind of goes against everything you’ve ever been taught about eating, so you may think I’ve lost my mind here, but bear with me.

What is intermittent fasting, you ask?  Well, to put it most simply, it is just fasting for a certain time period every day.  There are couple of different ways you can approach it, but I’ll just talk about the way I’ll be doing it.

Basically, I have a time window from noon to 8 PM that I can eat.  Nothing after 8:00 and nothing until noon the next day.  Pretty simple, right?  But now you’re wondering why I would do that when I’ve been preaching for the last 4 years about eating within an hour of waking!!!

Well, I kept seeing posts on Instagram from some of the fitness accounts I follow talking about Intermittent Fasting.  I ignored it mostly at first because…well….the whole “fasting” part sounded awful.  Then I started getting more intrigued, but didn’t really have time to fully investigate, so I just kind of read things here and there and kept it tucked away in the back of my mind.  I didn’t really want to jump into it without doing my research first.

Now that I’ve had time to research it, I’ve decided to give it a fair try.  And if you’re wondering why I would want to subscribe to this seemingly crazy method, well, I have two pretty simple reasons.

First, it is going to majorly simplify my life.  If you are a meal planner, you know how agonizing it can be to sit there in front of a blank piece of paper and come up with 3 meals a day plus snacks that are quick, healthy, and that you are not sick to death of eating.  Especially on days when I’m not feeling particularly creative or when I have a million other things on my mind.  I just sit there and stare at my blank meal plan while the seconds tick by and everything else I need to be doing gets left behind.  With intermittent fasting, breakfast is eliminated.  In the morning, instead of getting up and immediately fixing myself something to eat, I just fix a cup of coffee (yeah, coffee is allowed.  Black coffee.  My fave).  I then can do my morning chores, get the girls up for school, start a load of laundry, do my daily devotion, my workout, etc.

The second reason I’m giving IF a try is that working out on an empty stomach, in simplest terms, will burn fat that is already stored in my body instead of burning off the nutrients that I consumed at breakfast.  I’m not really changing what I eat but only WHEN I eat.  Obviously by cutting out a meal, I will be consuming less calories, but it’s not a matter of restricting this or that.  It’s just:  You don’t eat until this time.  And you stop after this time.  Way easier than dieting, in my opinion.

Are you worried about being hungry or feeling too sluggish to get through a workout on an empty stomach?  I was too.  The first two days, it did feel weird, I’m not gonna lie.  I have been a faithful breakfast eater for years.  I’m not a night eater, so not eating after 8:00 isn’t hard.  But I always eat first thing upon waking, so that has been odd.  But today was my 3rd day and I actually felt awesome this morning.  I think like anything else, it’s just an adjustment that you have to make.

So, that’s the biggest change I am trying to make in 2017.  And it’s really more of an experiment a this point.  I want to see what it does or doesn’t do for me and how it makes me feel/affects fat loss.  In the initial stage so far, I am just loving the fact that I don’t have to plan out as many meals.  It’s kind of pathetic how excited I am about that part of it, actually.

Today was chest and triceps workout.  I did 3 sets of 12 of the following:

Bench Press
Chest Fly
Push Ups
Overhead DB TricepsRaises
Skull Crushers
Triceps Kickbacks

I also walked my dog 30 minutes and tonight I’m going to do some yoga.  Yoga is something I’ve done sporadically over the years.  I know how important flexibility is as we age and after talking with Katie’s physical therapist a few months ago, he really convinced me that I need to incorporate it more on a regular basis, so that’s going to be another area of focus for me.

Oh and I can’t forget this simple yet tasty recipe I wanted to share today.  I love roasted vegetables in the winter.  Well all year, actually, but especially in the winter.  I know this picture isn’t the best but I was too lazy to try to make it look better.  Forgive.

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Just take 12 carrots, scrub em. I don’t even peel them, just wash them and scrub them well.  Cut ends off, then cut in half, then in half lengthwise.  In large ziplock baggie, put 1/4 C olive, carrots, salt, pepper and some thyme or other seasonings to your liking.  Roast on 400 for about 30-40 minutes.  I served them tonight with a chicken and broccoli casserole.  That’s it!  Easy and delish!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and wish you health and happiness in 2017!

Lower Body Workout

Today I want to share my current lower body workout with you.  I love this because it requires minimal equipment (dumbbells and a stability ball, and a bench or chair pushed up against the wall), but still gives you a killer workout that will leave you exhausted.

For each exercise, you will do 3 sets of 12 reps.  Rest one minute between each set.

I normally take my dog for a brisk walk as my warmup, but today the roads are covered in ice and I am not known for my gracefulness and balance, so I settled for some burpees in my garage and just some general running around and being stupid because it was cold out there as my warm up today haha.

Here’s how the workout looks:

3 sets of 12 for each

Goblet Squats
Hold weight against your chest, feet slightly wider than shoulder-width (if you’re tall, go a little wider), toes pointed slightly outward, sit back and down between your knees, keeping the weight and your chest upright, feet flat on the floor – if you start to fall forward, widen your stance.  And keep your knees pointed out!  Then push back up to beginning position and repeat!

Lunges
Stand up straight with slight bend in knees, hold dumbbells at sides, step forward and squat down.  Keep head up and don’t allow your knees to push out past your toes, then push off and return to starting position.  Repeat with other leg.
Step Ups
Hold dumbbells at your side while standing in front of a flat bench or chair (make sure chair is pushed up against a wall so it doesn’t move around). Step onto bench with left foot, push up through your heel to lift yourself up, pause, then lower down to starting position.  Repeat for 12 reps then switch to right side.
Bulgarian Split Squats
Choose light to no weight for this exercise if you’ve never done it before.  Your balance will be tested.  You can add weight as you progress.  Stand about 2 to 3 feet in front of a flat bench or some or chair pushed up against a wall.  Face away from the bench with dumbbells at your sides.  Extend one leg behind you and place your foot on the bench.  Lower your body by bending the other knee.  Don’t lean forward, drop straight down until thigh is parallel with floor, then push through your heel to raise back to starting position, without locking your knee out.  Repeat.
Stiff-Leg Dead lifts (my favorite dead lift variation!)
Stand up straight with a slight bend in your knees and your feet around shoulder width apart holding dumbbells in front of you, resting on your thighs. Keep your back as straight as possible and bend over at the waist lowering the dumbbells over the tops of you feet, keeping your knees stationary. Lower the dumbbells until you feel a nice stretch in your hamstrings.  Using your hamstrings,begin to raise the dumbbells straight back up. Your eyes should be facing up and your shoulders back. This will prevent your lower back from rounding. Squeeze up through the glutes and hamstrings until you’re standing straight up.
Triple Threats
(I’m linking to a nice Youtube demo here because I feel like I have a hard time typing this out in a way that is going to make any sense haha.)  Please take a moment to watch because this one is a killer and definitely a major player in this workout! Check it out here:  Triple Threat

 

 

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