Home workouts: Hip Thrust (modified)

Who says you can’t work out at home – affordably?

Most certainly not me. Did you know that I work with all of my clients exclusively in the comfort of their own homes? I do. Not only did I personally ditch the gym, but I’ve found that the home setting works best for my clients.

Most are working on building their own collection of fitness goodies, but some, I do bring bands, weights and balls along with when I work with them.

On this, social media deemed, “Workout Wednesday”, I’m starting a new series specifically focused on exercises that you can do from the comfort of your own home with minimal and universal “equipment” (sometimes you’ll be using that dining room chair and the yoga ball together… just trust me, it’s a good one).

Today’s exercise is the hip thrust. There’s several different ways that you can approach this from using your sofa, a yoga ball or even your child’s ABC puzzlemat pulled apart and stacked.

The hip thrust can be done with a variety of different resistance types. Most commonly seen, is a weight plate on the tops of the thighs. You can perform them with no weights, hold dumbbells or kettlebells at your sides, use a resistance band or a barbell (as seen in the photo below). You can also do them one-legged.

Hip thrust benefits: Hip thrusts target and activate those glute muscles. By building strong glutes, you’re creating a working part of the support system for your lower back which decreases back pain by aligning your pelvis (and during your pregnancy, that alignment is pretty awesome when it comes time to have that baby!). Hip thrusts are also a safe exercise postpartum.

How to: Rest your upper back/shoulder blades on the very front of your sofa or that stack (best to do 2-wide, and tucked up against a wall) of kiddie mat, and bend those knees. If you’re using a yoga ball, make sure it’s against the wall and lean against it with the top half of your back only. Holding the barbell across your lap, below your belly and more at your groin area (if you’re using dumbbells or kettlebells, hold them right at your hips), using your heels as your anchor point, lift your hips by squeezing your glutes until you’re a straight line from those knees all the way up to your shoulders. Do not overextend/rise! Then lower back to your starting position.

How many? Perform three sets of 10 reps with 90-seconds of rest between each set.


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What’s in a name…

After a lot of thought, I’m ditching my original name. In the beginning of this crazy journey, VanSpice Fitness, well, it fit. Despite my core focus being on prenatal and postnatal women, I was still focused on working with others as well.

Over the past three years, the natural narrowing down of my clientele happened and now, virtually every client of mine is working on their core foundations either during pregnancy or post-pregnancy – or in their senior years.

This shift and change was inevitable. As I’ve grown as a trainer and coach, it was almost expected too.


VanSpice Functional Foundations is the heart and soul of what I’m most passionate about and have been for a long time. It’s where all of my education and focus has taken me. The road I started on, led me right to this very point.

So, welcome to VanSpice Functional Foundations. I’m here to help you keep that foundation solid during your pregnancy, or those years later in life. And I’m here to help you rebuild your foundation after you have had that beautiful bundle of joy. Whether you’ve been in the fitness game for awhile, you just want to be prepared for the “moment”, or you’re looking to start out, VanSpice Functional Foundations is the best place to be to get or keep that core functioning.

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Are you eating enough?

That’s right. I asked if you were eating enough.

With the craze of New Year’s Resolutions and the mad dash to drop those pounds gained over those delicious holiday foods, people tend to take it to the extreme.

I’m talking about the 1200 Calorie Diet.

Or at least that’s what I call it.

It’s when all a person gives themselves is just 1200 Calories for the day, total.

“But, that’s what everything says is right for a woman!”

Wrong. There’s far more depth than just taking that face value. 1,200 calories is what a woman’s body needs, at least, to maintain its proper function. Periods (ovulation), thyroid, metaoblism, etc, are all greatly impacted when you’re restricting your calories.

If you exercise, and burn about 350 calories doing that exercise, then taking the stairs at work, walking several steps a day to and from the washroom, then walking to your car that you’ve parked way on the other side of the lot for a little more exercise in your day… those are all calories burned too.

A lot of them to be exact.

You’ve probably put yourself over 500 active calories for that particular day. Deducting that from 1200, it’s leaving your body with a mere 600 calories to use to keep your body moving. Heart pumping, digestive system working, etc.

After a few days, your body will start to send itself into panic mode (aka: Starvation Mode). It begins to slow “fuel burning” parts of your body: your metabolism. It goes into as much effort as it can to store everything it can.

It’s far from sustainable. And certainly NOT healthy in any way.

Once the body starts receiving more calories, it cannot handle what it now considers an overload. Your metabolism which has slowed, essentially freaks out. The weight lost, is gained back rapidly, and often times even more weight is gained. Water retention (bloat) is common. Thyroid dysfunction is common as well.

Calorie restriction of this manner has also been well documented in being the stemming factor for disordered eating habits.

It takes years of proper eating to “straighten” everything back out, and sometimes not without medication intervention (thyroid medicines).

The path to weight loss isn’t just one road in which we can all walk down. It’s not a one size fits all shoe. Really.

“Okay, so how do I do this and do it right? That stuff all sounds terrifying for the sake of dropping a few pounds.”

To do that, you’re going to have to do a little math. Here’s where you need to calculate what your body specifically is burning for its total daily energy expenditure.

Women BMR = 655 + (9.6 X weight in kg) + (1.8 x height in cm) – (4.7 x age in yrs)
Men BMR = 66 + (13.7 X weight in kg) + (5 x height in cm) – (6.8 x age in yrs)

TDEE= BMR x Activity Factor


One pound is 3,500 calories. A sustainable, and healthy approach to weight loss is to aim for anywhere from one to two pounds a week.

In my own personal instance, my TDEE is around 1900 calories a day. If I wanted to start dropping a few pounds, I would create my deficit from that and aim for around 1500 calories a day.

To gain weight (that’s right, people do that too, although not as common), you’d want to do the opposite. Which would put my target calorie consumption at around 2300ish calories a day.

Taking control of your health and creating a solid weight loss plan that is sustainable is daunting. The nutrition part is almost always the hardest part. If it doesn’t sound right, or sound legit? It probably isn’t. Don’t ever be afraid to do the research to find an educated, degree holding nutritionist or a registered dietician and ask them questions. There isn’t a such thing as a dumb or silly question. And we’re all here to help you.



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The Transphormation Challenge & You.

The thing about challenges is… They can be tricky. Especially ones that want to see you and what changes you’ve made within a certain span of time. And those changes have to be specific ones. How muscular or stage ready have you become? As someone just starting out on the “eat better, move more” route, that may not suit you. Probably doesn’t suit a lot of people to be honest.

Time for a challenge change. 1st Phorm, for 2016, is doing the My Transphormation Challenge. The challenge is pretty simple: your journey to transforming yourself into that version of you that you want to be. Healthier. More fit. You don’t have to be ready to hit the stage. You don’t even have to be close!

If you’re one of the over 60% of people who wrote down on their resolutions to start creating habits that will help you move more and eat better, this challenge is an excellent way to stay on target. Why? Because you will have a whole entire team (not just me) behind you, helping you. Answering your questions. Helping you get over those plateaus. Helping you succeed.

While I’m not formally participating, I’m doing it too. I’ve committed myself (as soon as I kick this cold and flu that I’ve come down with recently) to getting myself back on the pavement and running again. Something I haven’t done much since having my baby almost a year ago. I’m committed to working towards my lifting goals, which includes powerlifting meets and competitions later this year. I want to become an even better yogi that I’ve become this past year.

I’m in. Are you?


By signing up, you gain access workouts, nutritional advice and supplement advice, and more. All of it from a crew of certified trainers and nutritionists – just like me. Looking for some help with meal planning? Not sure what you might need for supplements? Shoot me an email at vanspicefit@gmail.com and I can help get you underway on this exciting road.

Did I mention that you don’t have to pay anything? Signing up and access is all free. AND you can WIN money! Who doesn’t like winning money?

Unfortunately, due to my full schedule, I am not able to take on many new clients. To enable a way for me to help everyone reaching out to me, and to ensure all of us stay on track with achieving our goals I am starting a team on 1st Phorm’s new 250K Transphormation Challenge. If you would like to join my team, go to www.mytransphormationstartstoday.com, and invite me as your trainer. My email is vanspicefit@gmail.com.


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What are supplements? Do I need them?

A great many questions answered today, and not a moment too soon as New Year’s is coming quickly upon us and health and wellness top the resolutions list.

Losing weight tops the resolutions list, and ranking fifth is staying fit and healthy. Only 8% of people who set resolutions successfully attain their goal. Given that 45% of the American population sets resolutions, 8% is a very, very small number.

The world of health and fitness is a hard one to navigate, even with the best of intentions. Especially if you’re completely new to the world. That’s where personal trainers, nutritionists, dietitians, etc., come in. It’s the job of your trainer to help you navigate through the choppy seas and rugged terrain. The job of your nutritionist or dietitian to help guide you on the path to sustenance well being. Teaching you to understand foods and what they do to your body. The nutrients you need. And that’s where sometimes, supplements come into play.

What are supplements?

Supplements are often used by those either looking to lose weight, just starting to work on health and fitness goals, bodybuilders, athletes and more. They’re are used to do just as they suggest: supplement. Your diet may be missing important key things to help you meet your goals be it weight loss, build muscle, etc.

It takes much more than just either hitting the pavement for a run, picking up the weights in the gym, or just moving more than you previously have. That’s only 20% of it. The remaining 80% involves what you put into your body for vitamins, minerals and nutrients.

Fueling your body is of the utmost importance, and sometimes, you find that you’re struggling to do that based solely on sustenance found in foods. Which is where supplements come in. They fill in the gaps for you, keeping you in the game.

Supplements can also enhance as well.

Supplement types

Multi-vitamins. That’s right. That vitamin you take every morning to stay healthy, fight off that raging cold everyone in your office is catching: is a supplement. Minerals and vitamins found in the foods we eat are packed into those little pills to help you get your daily intake to stay healthy and thriving. Multi-vitamins come in time-release, non-time release, and the pricing varies depending on which you choose (timed versus non-timed).

Amino Acids. Certain amino acids are key and need to be consumed within our diet. Our bodies have several uses for them, one being: aminos are the building blocks for protein. Aminos reduce the healing time of injuries, and they quicken the repair time of damaged tissue.

Protein. Proteins have many key functions in the body. They act as a signal messengers and receptors, enzymes are composed of proteins and they form structural components.

Creatine. Creatine is known for helping fend off muscle fatigue by creating phosphocreatine output during anaerobic activity. By consuming more creatine, the depletion of phosphocreatine is prolonged, giving you more muscle endurance (which results in more power and strength).

Electrolytes. The body loses electrolytes through sweating, which is why it’s key to stay hydrated during exercise. Drinking a fluid containing electrolytes will help keep your body replenished, which is key as electrolytes affect the muscle actions, blood acidity, alongside your hydration levels and other functions of your body.

Thermogenics. Thermogenics are used to increase basal metabolic rate, which increases energy expenditure, helping the body shed weight. Caffeine and ephedrine are most commonly used in thermogenics for that purpose.

Do I need them?

Maybe not. But most likely, you’re needing something. This isn’t something you can really determine on your own, unless you’ve been “in the game” for a stretch. This is where it’s best to reach out to an educated professional who can sit down with you, evaluate your day to day habits and look at the bigger picture (what your goals are) and set forth a plan to help you attain them.

So what’s next?

Grab your phone, grab your computer, whatever your means of connecting with the outside world and connect with the professional that can help you achieve your goals and increase your success rate.

[To insert my own plug here: call me, text me (both numbers are 207-619-2305), email vanspicefit@gmail, Facebook message me on the VanSpice Fitness page. With over a dedicate of human nutrition education and experience, I can help you get on track and get results. I can also connect you with 1st Phorm, the one company throughout all of my years in the “game” that I can feel confident enough, guiding even my own family to. Fruit Loop flavored whey protein powder folks, Fruit Loop flavored!!]

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Postnatal Wellness: Diastasis Recti

I posted this earlier on my FB page, but I feel that it needs the attention everywhere. Postnatal care is SO important, but most new moms don’t know where to even begin. The number of women who have never heard of diastasis recti is shocking. And what is even scarier is: the number of people (men can have DR too!) who DO know about DR and just sweep it aside is growing.

Peeing while you workout is not a badge of honor folks. It’s a sign that something serious can be going on inside of you.

What is diastasis recti? DR is abdominal separation. It most often occurs during pregnancy.

What are the effects of DR? The rectus abdominus (your outermost muscles) support the back and organs. When they separate, the connective tissue then becomes the support system for your back and organs. Thin connective tissue, unlike thick muscles, is far from a good support system for the back and organs. Effects of DR are most commonly back pain and displacement of your organs which causes gastrointestinal disturbances such as bloating and constipation. The displacement of organs will also cause poor posture. Umbilical hernia is another effect, and diastasis may also cause pelvic floor problems such as incontinence and prolapses.

diastasis_recti_illustration3Which means: Letting DR go un-rehabbed can be extremely harmful.

Not sure if you have DR? This piece from Girls Gone Strong (found here) is a great way to self-check. Still not sure? Reach out to an area physio/physical therapist who can help. They can check you, evaluate your separation if you have any, and they can also work with you on breathing exercises and moves that will begin the process of repairing.

At VanSpice Fitness, pre and postnatal training is my specialty. If you can’t find a PT in your area to help you out and you want guidance on checking, or if you find you do have DR and are looking for ways to properly repair it, please contact me at vanspicefit@gmail.com.

You can also get a better understanding of DR from Mama Lion Strong (found here) with Jennifer’s blog post on the Healthy Habits Happy Moms blog page.

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The pre-workout lowdown.

One of the questions I’m most commonly asked is: What is the best pre-workout to take? Mommies getting back into fitness will ask which is the safest. best-pre-workout-supplements-banner1

The answer?


Walk away from the pre-workout section in GNC. Don’t even bother clicking the link in the BodyBuilding.com store for them. Go to your favorite coffee spot or grocery store, pick up some grounds, and take them home with you. Not only will it save you some money, but it will save you in your health as well.

Why, exactly, should you choose coffee over that fancily packaged, lab created, expensive stuff on the shelf? Let’s break it down thanks to Mens Health…

Accelerates fat lossDo-You-Make-This-Mistake-When-Brewing-Coffee-ftr

One benefit to coffee before your workout? Its fat burning properties. Coffee can cause fat cells to be used as an energy source as opposed to glycogen. The caffeine in coffee will also give your metabolism a boost, causing you to burn more calories throughout the day. Another thing that coffee does for you? Appetite suppression, which will make you consume less overall.

Increases performance

Several studies have shown a link between caffeine intake before exercise and increased athletic performance. Sports Medicine refers to caffeine as a powerful ergogenic aid, mentioning that athletes can train at a greater power output and/or train longer after caffeine consumption. British Journal of Sports Science found that runners who consumed coffee before a 1500-meter run, finished 4.2-seconds faster than the control group.

Improved focus

It’s not only energy that coffee gives you, black coffee provides an increase in mental focus as well. If you’re focused in your workout, you’ll see an improvement in your productivity as well.

Decreases muscle pain

University of Illinois found that subjects who consumed coffee prior to exercise experienced less muscle pain (and who actually likes DOMS?) during their workout as compared to their non-caffeinated counterparts. What does that mean? The takeaway of that is that you can complete more reps at a higher resistance if you’re weight training, or run faster and longer during your cardio. Boom. Sounds like a win to me, right?

Prevents disease.

Coffee helps protect your body from diseases. It contains high amounts of antioxidants, and those protect against damage from free radicals. (For more health benefits, read this post from last year https://vanspicefitness.com/2014/03/11/coffee/).

But remember, moderation is key. This doesn’t mean go out and drink five cups of coffee a day, every day, for the rest of your life. Too much of a good thing can be come a bad thing!

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