Guest Post: 7 Tips to Help Your Strength Training Journey

Hi there! I am so excited to share this post with you. My gym friend (and birthday buddy), Ashley, is such an inspiration when it comes to working for something you want. She has worked SO HARD at achieving her fitness related goals (pull-ups, to be one of them) and the research and knowledge gained throughout this process can be portrayed throughout so many areas of her life, which is just one of the many reasons why strength training is so wonderful. Ashley is so honest, open, insightful and encouraging in this post and never mind this being a guest post, I just think it’s an incredible piece of writing and I hope you all feel as motivated to tackle your goals as I do after reading it!


7 tips to help your strength training journey

Hey Burpees to Bubbly readers! My name is Ashley Parent, and I’m a friend of Monique’s from (you guessed it) the gym! Monique asked me to come on the blog to talk a little bit about how I got started with strength training, where I am now, and to share some tips. For the sake of transparency, you should know that I don’t have any sort of fitness, health, or training certifications. Because of this, I’m going to talk less about the specifics of exercises and programming and more about tips regarding how to get the right background information and how to get in the right mindset for strength training.

I have a few years of experience and lots of casual studying on the subject. I have a training age of about 7 years (I was 21 years old), and I first got started learning the very basics of strength machines and free weights at a college class at Hampshire College (man, I miss the days of free gym classes that actually give you credit towards a degree). Looking back, I knew pretty much nothing then compared to what I know now, but it gave me the confidence to know my way around the weight room and do some basic moves. Fast forward to 2013 when I decided I wanted to practice some more complex moves (i.e. deadlift, turkish get-up, etc.) and start to go much heavier, so I contacted a local strength coach for some assistance. I learned so so much working with a coach for about 9 months, but I couldn’t afford to do it forever. Luckily, he’s a great person and lets me check in every now and then to make sure my form is still on point.

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Currently, and for about the past 8 months, my main focus/goals have been sustainable fat loss and being able to do my first unassisted chin-up. Strength training should still be at the forefront of your training program when your goal is fat loss, so my fat loss goal has mostly been accomplished through my diet. I accomplished my chin-up goal on my birthday (April 14), so now my goal is just to do more chin-ups, of course! There are many articles out there about how to get started in the weight room if you’re a complete beginner, so I’m going to try to share some tips that are different from the ones you might see on those articles. If you want one of those, see number 6 below for some blogs where you might find one. Without further ado, here are 7 tips for strength training (I’m going to count them down, and number one is the most important, so skip ahead if you have to!):

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  1. Know your goals and what you need to do to get there.
  2. Continue reading

Guest Post: A Healthy Twist On Entertaining

Hi guys! I have a great guest post for you today which combines two things I absolutely love: eating healthy and living a healthy lifestyle AND entertaining. Sherri, over at Fun Fit Flavor seems to have the art of healthy entertaining, so I think you’re in for a real treat. I’m so happy she agreed to help keep B2B active while I’m in Italy because I just love her blog! It’s down to earth and she always shares the most delicious looking recipes… and, I can always relate so much to the things she posts about (going out with friends, entertaining, creating delicious foods, working out and drinking lots of bubbly 😉 )! Enjoy!


Hi everyone! My name is Sherri and I write the blog, fun fit flavor. When Monique asked me to guest post while she basks in all of the gloriousness of Italy I, of course, said yes! Monique and I met through our friendship with New Balance and quickly realized that we have a lot in common; we both enjoy Prosecco, fitness, healthy food, and going out to eat. We both promote balance which, to me, is the core of wellness. Coinciding with that theme, today I’d like to share with you some tips for healthy entertaining. Entertaining is kind of my jam… I’m a Marketing Director by day and I’m part Italian so I love to feed people. For mother’s day, I set up shop at my mom’s house to create a relaxing, tasty/healthy, fun-filled day for my mom and sister. Here’s how it all went down!

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First and foremost, appetizers! Instead of the typical veggie sticks and dip – I like to make deviled eggs, guacamole, and charcuterie. Now, I know meats & cheeses might not sound like the healthiest option, but, adding in options like olives, cornichons, prosciutto, and nuts really makes a nice assortment full of healthy fats and protein.

Here is my best Deviled Egg Recipe (they are a huuuuge hit with family & friends).

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Continue reading

Guest Post: Strong & Lean Yogamoto Yoga Sequence

Good morning! I’ve got a really great post for you today- something you don’t see much of on this blog: Yoga! My cousin in law, Malinda, is a yoga instructor and the creator behind and author of Yogamoto. I recently saw Malinda at a family wedding and we had so much fun talking fitness and health and sharing our passions with each other. On top of teaching yoga in Maine, Malinda and her husband are super active with outdoorsy things and traveling all over the place. I hope you enjoy this post and learn something and are able to maybe get a little at-home practice in. I know I could use some of this a few times of week!


Thanks to Monique for letting me share some yoga goodies with you all! I’m Malinda, and I created a practice called Yogamoto. Yogamoto is all about being present and living your path. Aside from teaching yoga, I love travel and adventure. I ride motorcycles, scuba dive, ski, sing. Yoga helps me get the most out of life… afterall the present is life! So let’s live there… right?! That’s what Yogamoto is all about – living life to the fullest.

I have been doing yoga since I was a kid, playing around with poses on the livingroom floor with my mom. I had NO IDEA we were doing yoga – acroyoga even – I just loved it! I started taking classes in high school. I got my 200 hour certification last year and have been having so much fun sharing yoga with my students!

Here’s a short sequence that strengthens, arms, core and legs, while increasing your range of motion. The sequence closes with a grounding balance pose. Here’s a misnomer – yoga isn’t all about flexibility! It’s about strength, balance, range of motion, and mental clarity. These are powerful poses that you’ll find in many beginner-intermediate yoga classes. While they look simple, they are challenging! Take time to do a little every day to build up your strength and stamina.

1. Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Stand with feet hip width apart, spine straight, palms facing front, rib cage lifted, shoulder blades back and down. Hold for 3 breaths. (see the top left photo in the image under #2 for this pose)

2. Swan Dive to Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend). Inhale arms up overhead, exhale arms to the sides while hinging at the hips to bend forward. Back remains straight while bending forward. Bend forward as far as you can comfortably. Though legs are straight, keep the knees soft with a micro bend. (Bend knees if you have lower-back issues.) Hang like a rag doll, relaxing arms, neck, back. If you like, grab your elbows to create a window for your head. Hold for 5 breaths.

Malinda guest post Swan Uttanasana

3. High Lunge. Bend your knees, bring palms to the mat, and step the right foot back on your inhale. Step back far enough so the left knee is over the ankle. The right leg is straight, right heel is raised, resting on the ball of the foot. Press back through the right heel. Tent fingertips to lift the heart forward so the spine and neck are held in a straight line. Place hands on blocks if this is more comfortable. Hold for 5 breaths.

Malinda guest post high lunge

4. Plank. Place palms on the mat. On the inhale, step the left foot back to meet the right, resting on balls of the feet. Hands are directly under shoulders. Shoulder blades are flush across the back (not sinking down through shoulders or pressing up to round shoulders). Create a straight line from crown of the head to the heels. Think about holding the core strong to stabilize you. Hold for 5 breaths.

Malidna guest post Plank

5. Side Plank (Vasisthasana). Place the left hand to the center of the mat, and start to pivot the feet so you are balancing on the outside of the left foot. Right foot stacks on top of the left. Bring the right hand to right hip as you turn the torso to the right. Inhale right arm up to the sky. Create a straight diagonal line from the head to the feet. Hug core in to stabilize. If this version is too intense for you right now, start by placing the left knee on the mat. If you are up for more of a challenge, lift the right leg up to be parallel with the floor. Hold for 5 breaths. Exhale bringing right hand back to mat to plank.

Malinda guest post Side Plank

6. Chaturanga Dandasana. Starting in plank, align shoulders slightly ahead of the wrists. Inhale, press back through the heels, engage the core, draw shoulders back. Exhale, slowly begin to bend elbows, hugging elbows to sides. Lower body keeping the plank position of a straight line from head to heels. Lower slowly taking about 3 seconds. Continue to lower until your shoulders are at the same height as the elbows at 90 degrees. Hold for 3 breaths.

Malinda guest post Chaturanga Dandasana

7. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana). Exhale, press through the hands, lift the pelvis, press down through the heels. The heels may not touch the floor. Tip the pelvis up, draw inner thighs back. Focus weight in the hands in the fingers/finger base, not in the base of the wrist. Spin elbow creases forward. Elongate the spine, keeping neck neutral between the arms. Hold for 5 breaths.

Malinda guest post Downward Facing Dog

Repeat 1-7 on the other side.

8. Tree Pose (Vrksasana). Start in Tadasana. Slowly shift weight to the left foot, peeling the right foot off the mat heel to toe. With the hand, help bring the right foot to the inner thigh of the left leg. Press the foot into the thigh. Open the knee out to the side. (If this isn’t in your range of motion, rest the foot on the inside calf. Just don’t place foot on the knee.) Find one point of focus in front of you. Inhale hands to Anjali Mudra. Hold for 3 breaths. With the next inhale, raise hands above head. Hold for 3-5 breaths. Bring palms together, exhale to heart center, Anjali Mudra. Exhale foot to floor. Repeat on other side.

Malinda guest post Tree

Have fun with this sequence as you get stronger and stronger.

I would love to see more of you! Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and @yogamoto1 and check out my website

Time to Shine!



Thanks so much for sharing these poses with us, Malinda! I can’t wait to try this sequence… preferably when my head isn’t so congested! 😉

Questions for you: Do you do yoga? How often do you practice? What is your favorite pose?

Guest Post: Fitness As A Lifestyle

Good morning! Today is my last day in San Francisco and since I usually post something fitness related on Mondays, I thought this guest post would be perfect. This is an incredibly motivating story from my friend, Lauren. Lauren and I were roommates in college and have shared so many good memories together. I wanted her to guest post today to share her story of recent transformation. Although she has lost 12 pounds and look fantastic, I think is even more amazing about her story is her mindset towards food, working out and adopting a more healthy lifestyle. Her confidence now radiates and it’s so great to see her so happy with herself and her accomplishment. I hope you enjoy her post as much as I did!


Fitness as a Lifestyle

Facebook post on February 8, 2015: “The Best. Feeling. Ever. is to have someone ask you, “Did you lose weight?” The only reason I’ve heard that recently is one word: Beachbody, & the exact reason why I chose to become a Beachbody Coach! I’m finishing up on Day 21 of my 21 Day Fix tomorrow, and I can’t tell you how much better I feel now than I did just a few short weeks ago. (Not to mention having the luxury of working out at home during these 5 snow days in the past 3 weeks (& not have to clear my car off to head to the gym!) Summer bodies are made in the Winter & I’m dreaming of SUMMER! Want to know more? Just ask! : )”

What a month it has been! I went from one extreme to the other. I never cooked. I didn’t go to the grocery store. (I still don’t know what exactly I ate the past year.) I didn’t know the difference between protein vs. good fats and bad fats. My acceptance of “quick fast food” and poor planning led me to a place that I never thought I would be: self-conscious and not confident in my own health.

How long does it take to create a habit? 28 days? After this past month, I’m thinking it only takes 21 days. I just completed the first round of the Beachbody program the “21 Day Fix”. I was skeptical at first, as I had never tried a “program” before. I played sports all throughout high school and college, but never kept with anything since besides cardio and classes at the local gym ( or with Monique, which always were great workouts!!). I went to the gym because I knew I should and did enjoy running (when the weather was nice), but after the holidays and with the shorter days and less daylight, I was feeling less-than-great. I saw my friend’s post on Facebook about her success with Beachbody, and immediately felt as though it could be something I was interested in. (Note: This was in October 2014.) My excuse then was that I was traveling for work and didn’t think I had time to commit to a fitness and nutrition plan; I was right. Life seems to be more and more about timing as I approach turning 30… 😛 If there is one thing I know, if I don’t want to do something, I will be creating 5 excuses why I shouldn’t do it – rather than look at the positive, and have ONE good reason why I should.

Why I Did It: The holidays came and went, and what was left was an excess of 10+ pounds that I was not OK with keeping. Early January 2015 I reached out to my now Beachbody Coach and said I was ready. I signed up for Team Beachbody, and purchased the 21 Day Fix Challenge Pack with Shakeology to make my best attempt at changing my lifestyle.

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The 21 Day Fix did just that.

My outlook, my lifestyle, and everything I look at now is different. The basis of the program and Beachbody is with the following philosophy: “Fitness + Nutrition + Support = Results.”

Making a lifestyle change is a choice that everyone needs to make for him or herself.

It could be little things throughout each day that you are able to do to increase your fitness and see results, such as taking the stairs or walking instead of taking a shuttle. These choices become easier the more you invest in your health and fitness, which change your lifestyle as a whole.

How I did It:

  1. Created the sample daily meal planner. This allowed me to balance my meals: Breakfast, Snack #1, Lunch, Snack #2, and Dinner according to the allotted food groups/containers and daily allowable amounts.
  2. Had ongoing “shopping lists” to ensure that I had enough food throughout the week to prep meals.
  3. Prepared meals. Using the meal plan, I would prep for the next day the night before and pack my meals and snacks for the day. (This saved me $!)
  4. 30 minute at-home *total body* DVD workouts when I came home from work (or before work on days I felt more motivated or knew I wouldn’t be able to have time after work.) Planning was key. All that was needed: yoga mat, weights (light and heavy sets) and an area to work out.
  5. Accountability through my personal Instagram account: @laurendeannabb

Now came the hard part: Posting my results! Don’t get me wrong I was so proud of myself and felt GREAT, but there was something about posting my “before” pics on social media that just didn’t sit well with me. (I was both ashamed and proud at the same time.)

Let’s take a step back here. When I first purchased 21 Day Fix I was as committed as I have ever been to a program, and more importantly: to myself. I chose to create another Instagram account just for myself to track my journey and hold myself personally accountable for the next 21 days. When the 21 days was over, and I compared my “before” picture to my “after”, I was amazed and completely IN. It is a feeling that (I hope) will become addictive. The results were a combination of the program, my determination, and no one can ever take that away from me. Best. Feeling. Ever. I then opened up my personal progress Instagram account for those that wanted to follow my journey and see my progress. To my surprise I had 50 followers within the first 24 hours!

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Before Pic (Left) – Taken 1/19/15

After Pic (Right) – Taken 2/9/15 (Down 12 lbs)

Once my results picture was out on Instgram I began to receive calls/txts/emails from a number of people congratulating me on my hard work, and more importantly saying that I inspired them to take the first step towards a healthier lifestyle. This was such a great feeling. : )

What Now?

I have taken a few days off and had my share of wine and pasta, and realized that having all of the “extras” hasn’t made me feel any better. I miss the daily workouts, my Shakeology, and my overall healthier lifestyle. This was the realization for me. It doesn’t matter when your decision to live healthier happens, as long as it does happen. Life is too short.

I will be starting my 2nd round of the 21 Day Fix challenge soon, and invite anyone to join me! Please visit my website to learn more about any of the Beachbody programs. I’m not here to “sell” you the product (these products sell themselves based on the results alone). My purpose would be as your Coach throughout your journey. Beachbody programs range in length, and commitment requirements, but all the tools you will need to succeed will be given to you. Isn’t life all what we make of it, anyways? 😛

What I’ve learned over the past 3 weeks:

1) Planning is key. Planning gives you control and stability in your life. Let’s face it – there are so many things in life we CAN’T CONTROL, so why not keep what we CAN CONTROL- positive and healthy?
2) I CAN COOK! (And I’m not bad at it!)
3) I have found myself learning more about a healthy diet, and I can see my LIFESTYLE change – not only my diet.
4) Workouts have become acceptable in the comfort of my own home and I am seeing RESULTS.
5) I’m saving $$$. I used to stop and grab a coffee/bagel, eat out for lunch, and grab dinner/drinks. With pre-planning my meals I know the food I am eating is healthy, I’m saving $ throughout the week, and I’m not “drinking” extra calories.

Everything from my confidence and knowledge, to my digestion has improved. This was the change I needed, and I want to thank Monique for allowing me to share what I have experienced with all of you! : ) Thanks for reading, and I enjoyed sharing my story with you all! Please let me know if you have any feedback/questions. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

All the best for a happy, healthy, 2015!

Lauren Deanna
Team Beachbody Coach

Instagram: @laurendeannabb


Blog Post Questions:
• Have you worked with a Beachbody product before?
• If so, how did you like it? Which one?
• What do you do now that you previously weren’t doing before as part of a “healthy” lifestyle?


So, what did you guys think of Lauren’s post and story? It’s pretty awesome, right? Thank you so much for doing a guest post for me, Lauren- I’m SO proud of you and your accomplishments over the past month. It’s amazing what eating well and working out will do for your mind, body and general outlook on and approach to life.

Guest Post: No Bake Gluten Free Breakfast Bars

Hi there! And TGIF! Before I get to the post, I want to send a very special birthday shout out to my mom- I hope you have a wonderful day and I can’t wait to see you and celebrate you tomorrow. Love you so much!


How has your week been? Have any fun plans this weekend? My week has been quite different than normal in that my company held it’s “All Hands” meeting in Boston (Boston Harbor Hotel- oh, la la!) on Tuesday and Wednesday so I was making my old trek back into the city instead of my new commute to Wakefield. I have to admit: it made me miss working in the city even more than usual! On top of that, Thursday I spent the day in a “new hire training” back in Wakefield. To say this week was a bit of a wash on the work front is an understatement, but it was kind of nice! I’ll take “easy” weeks whenever I can 😉

Tuesday night, we went out on an Odyssey dinner cruise which was a blast!! The food, open bar (wine and beer), conversations and view made for an awesome night.

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As for this weekend, tonight I’m going to RM’s mom’s house to have her teach me how to make authentic Italian sauce. I’m so excited! Tomorrow I’m teaching my FIRST class at my new gym and I have to admit, I’m a little nervous! It’s always kind of scary going into a new gym to teach because you don’t know what they’re used to or if what you planned is too hard or easy. Hopefully it goes well! After that, I have to rush back and get my place ready for my parents to come down. I’m hosting them at “Hotel Monique” for the night and I can’t wait!

But, before all those fun things kick off, I wanted to share a recipe that I think you’ll all enjoy. My friend, Noelle, posted some pictures on Facebook and Instagram and as soon as I saw them, I knew I needed her to guest post the recipe on this ol’ blog. I can’t wait to make them. Thanks again, Noelle, for sharing this!


Hi everyone! I’m Noelle and I am elbow deep in buttercream frosting and croissants 50 hours a week. I am a pastry chef at Whole Foods in Wellesley, MA where I am busy cake decorating and opening and closing hot ovens… It is an absolute blast! I worked for a gluten free bakery start up business last year after I finished pastry school and learned quite a bit. It was a perfect start to ease me into the baking world, seeing I am gluten free myself (not Celiac, just feel better without it). I learned a few tricks to the difficult world of gluten free baking that I will take along with me. Although gluten free flours can be quite tricky, baking with simple and clean ingredients is what I choose to do at home. This recipe below is a dump-in-a-bowl and call it a day kind of recipe, which will leave you with some pretty satisfying bites. Enjoy!

No Bake Gluten Free Breakfast Bars– Inspired by Two Saucy Sisters


  • 3 c. gluten free rolled old fashioned oats, divided
  • 2 T chia seeds (or ground flax seed*)
  • 1⁄4 tsp salt
  • 1⁄2 c. chopped raw almonds
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 1⁄2 c. peanut butter (we used all-natural)
  • 1⁄4 c. honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1⁄4 c. chocolate chips, optional (I chopped up Easter chocolate..yikes)


1. Grind one cup of the oats in a blender or food processor until it is a fine flour. In a large bowl, combine the ground oats with the remaining 2 cups of whole oats, chia seeds, salt and chopped almonds.

2. In a separate bowl combine the mashed banana, peanut butter, honey and vanilla and stir until it is smooth and fully mixed. Pour the peanut butter banana mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until no dry spots remain. You may add the chocolate chips at this point if you are using them.

3. Line a 9×9 inch square glass dish with wax paper. Press the mixture firmly into the bottom of the dish and set in the refrigerator for about 2 hours to firm up. When they are ready, use the edge of the wax paper to gently lift the un-cut bars out of the dish. Cut into 12 bars and store in an air-tight container in the fridge.

GF granola bars 1

GF granola bars 2

Umm, I’m pretty sure these will be made within the next week or so. I love that there is very little added sugar, which is my goal with baking recipes at this point. I also love that you don’t have to cook anything- perfect for hot, summer days and nights!

GF granola bars 3

Thank you so much for sharing, Noelle! If you want to see more of her delicious treats, check out her Instagram account- I drool over her posts daily!

Questions for you: Who do you follow on Instagram for food pictures? What’s your favorite gluten free recipe? Do you make granola bars?

Speaking of gluten free… check out this meal that RM made on Monday. Orange Macadamia Nut Encrusted fish… amazing!!