Friday, December 30, 2011

Share an Inspiration

There are many inspiring people, and events in the world. However, there’s also a lot of other stuff to bog you down and distract you from some of the amazing things that are going on. So today I am taking a moment to share an inspiration.
Today, my fitness inspiration is a person. Her name is Muffy Davis and she has won medals and awards for skiing and cycling. She was inducted into the US Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame in 2010. She is a mother and wife. She scuba dives, rides elephants, travels the world, and has navigated the Great Wall of China. She is also a motivational speaker. Pretty inspiring list of accomplishments huh?
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that she is paraplegic. She crushed her spine in a skiing accident in 1989. Since then she has won all of the medals listed below.
So anytime you feel like you “can’t” do something I would like you to take a second and remember this woman. Maybe whatever is giving you a hard time won’t feel so impossible. I believe that you can accomplish whatever you put your mind to. So if you set your mind to failure that’s what you’re going to get. So get rid of that mindset. Check out Muffy’s website, and prepare to be inspired.
What inspires you? What have you been telling yourself you can't do? Maybe it's time to reconsider.
Muffy’s Awards:
US Disabled Ski Team:
2002, 3 Silver medals, Paralympics Salt Lake City, UT
2001 & 2002, World Cup Overall Champion
2000 World Championship, Anzere, Switzerland
More than 25 World Cup medals
Member US Paralympic
Cycling team, 2010-2011:
2011 Para-cycling Road World Championships: Gold Medal & World Champion, Handcycle Team Realy.  Silver Medals, Time Trial & Road Race
2011 Para-cycling Road World Cup Overall Champion
2011 Para-cycling World Cups, 6 Gold Medals
2011 US Para-cycling National Champion, Time Trial and Road Race
2010 Para-cycling Road World Championships, 3 Silver Medals
2010 US Para-cycling National Champion, Time Trial

SuperGirl Workout: Melissa Bender Fitness

Hi Everyone,
Today’s workout was tough, but I felt great afterwards. I recently read an article that said it is best to start exercises with your weaker side first (for most of us that is the left side), so I have been starting reps on the left. This helps us to use this side to our full ability while we are still fresh, and will help correct any strength imbalances we have.
The year 2011 has flown by for me. Many people right now are thinking about their new year’s resolutions. If yours has to do with fitness, congratulations! You will find many life benefits to increasing your health and fitness. It’s important to create a plan that you can actually do, and stick to. Think about your schedule, and what will actually work with your lifestyle. Once you find something that fits it will be much easier to stick to.
I don’t normally make New Year’s resolutions, but I am considering it this year. Do you have any resolutions?

SuperGirl Workout

Beginner: 5 minute cardio warm-up, 10 reps, 30 seconds of jumping jacks
Intermediate: 10 minute cardio warm-up, 15 reps, 45 seconds of jumping jacks
Advanced: 15 minute cardio warm-up, 20 reps, 60 seconds of jumping jacks

Warm-up: Jump Rope, running, or high knees

1.       Supergirl
2.       Lunge Jump
3.       Down Dog Leg Lift
4.       Jump Squat
5.       Ab/decline pushup with exercise ball (variation shown in the video without ball)
6.       Jumping Jacks
7.       Reach through Abs (left)
8.       Reach through Abs (right)
9.       Squat
10.   Pendulum Squat

Bonus Round: 3 way core series

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

OMG! Melissa Bender Fitness Workout

Hi Everyone,
Another calorie/fat blasting workout for you today! This one made my abs burn like crazy! It will work your entire body, and jump-start your metabolism.
I have a crazy day ahead of me so I am going to keep this short, but enjoy the workout and have a great day!

OMG! Workout
Beginner: 10 reps, 30 seconds high knees
Intermediate: 15 reps, 45 seconds high knees
Advanced: 20 reps, 60 seconds high knees
1.       High Knees
2.       Wall Abs
3.       Jump Tuck
4.       Around the World Lunge (left)
5.       Around the World Lunge (right)
6.       Double Mountain Climber
7.       Side Plank (with knee) left
8.       Side Plank (with knee) Right
9.       High Knees
10.   Heel Taps with Toe Reach
11.   Jump Squat
12.   V-Reach

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Hot Body Fat Burn Workout

Hi Everyone,
I hope you have all been enjoying the holiday season. Jesse and I had an amazing holiday. We are blessed to have such an amazing family and friends.
 I went a bit overboard with sweets this year, and I was feeling it during the workout. Sometimes a really great workout can detoxify your body, and I think that was happening for me when I did this routine.
Today’s workout will burn some major calories. It combines cardio and strength training. I feel so much better today after getting back on track.
Enjoy! I will have another workout with Cydney up shortly!

Hot Body Fat Burn Workout
Beginner: 10 reps, 30 seconds of high knees
Intermediate: 15 reps, 45 seconds of high knees
Advanced: 20 reps, 60 seconds of high knees
1.       Jumping Jack Burpee
2.       Plank Leg Lift (left): Alternate 5 leg lifts, 5 elbow taps
3.       Plank Leg Lift (right)
4.       High Knees (timed)
5.       Oblique Twist
6.       Surfer Burpee
7.       Ab Lift with Hip Lift
8.       Lunge Jump
9.       Mountain Pushups
REPEAT for a total of 18 exercises.
It took Jesse and I almost 28 minutes, and we were both covered in sweat! It’s a calorie torching workout!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes? Can they actually be good?

To my everlasting joy the answer is YES! These chocolate peanut butter cupcakes are delicious, packed with protein and veggies, are easy to make, and they are actually healthy!

So if you find yourself craving sweets after a workout you can choose this healthier option and feed your muscles the protein they need to heal!

I first stumbled across this recipe through Shape Magazine. I noticed that they took the recipe from: which is a very cool blog.

If you're ready to try it I posted the recipe below:

For the cupcakes:
1/3 c. whole-wheat flour
1/3 c. white flour
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. brown sugar
2/3 c. pumpkin
1 c. zucchini, grated
1 egg
2/3 c. almond milk (or skim milk)
For the frosting:
1/2 c. natural peanut butter
1/4 c. Greek yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. stevia or other sweetener
Honey for drizzling

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and place liners in a cupcake pan. Mix together the whole-wheat flour, white flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder. Set aside.

In a separate bowl mix the vanilla, brown sugar, pumpkin, zucchini, egg and almond milk.

Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and stir until just combined (the batter will be thick).

Fill each cupcake liner 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 17-20 minutes, until cupcakes are springy when touched. Let cool completely before icing.
The recipe says that it makes 8 cupcakes, but as you can see I made 12 smaller cupcakes, and 10 mini-cupcake bites. I just used a muffin pan, and mini-muffin pan to decrease the portion sizes.

These are all the ingredients you need for the frosting. I didn't have quite enough natural peanut butter, so I mixed what I had with some Jif.

Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting them.

For the frosting:
Stir together the peanut butter, Greek yogurt, vanilla and Stevia. If you prefer a sweeter icing, add more sweetener to taste. (1 packet was enough for me). Ice the cupcakes right before serving. Drizzle honey over top. Due to the lack of fat in the recipe and the Greek yogurt in the icing, if not eaten immediately, the cupcakes should be kept in the refrigerator.

I am not the best at icing cupcakes, but they tasted amazing!
Enjoy! If you have any healthy recipes to share feel free to comment below or message me.

Tabata Interval Training Burn Baby Burn: Melissa Bender Fitness

Hi Everyone,

Tonight’s workout is fantastic, but I can’t take any credit for creating it. J That honor goes to personal trainer, Ronald Adams. Ron trains in Illinois. Some of the places he trains his clients include: The Glendale Heights Sports Club, and the Glendale Heights Center for Senior Citizens. Ron offers one-on-one, partner training, free orientations, free fitness evaluations and small group classes. These sessions vary by location.

In this workout it is very important to keep your intervals as short as possible. I used my interval timer and set it for 6 rounds of 10 and 20 second intervals for each set. This routine goes through cardio, and strength training, while keeping your heart rate and metabolism up throughout the workout.

It is very challenging, but push yourself through it! Jesse and I both agreed that Set Two (pushups!) was the most difficult set for us. I don’t think I could have done any more!

Enjoy the workout today! Special thanks again to Ron for allowing us to do his workout. We loved it! I want to try it again soon and see if I can increase the number of reps I did during each 20 seconds interval!


PS I tried out a healthy Peanut Butter Cupcake recipe tonight that is amazing. Check back for my review, and the recipe.

Tabata Interval Training: Burn Baby Burn
Beginners: Do each set once.
Intermediate: Do each set twice.
Advanced: Repeat each set three times.
Super Advanced: Repeat each set four times.
All reps are done for time. Do the maximum number of reps that you can in 20 seconds. You have 10 seconds rest, and then 20 seconds for the next interval, etc.

Warm-Up - Repeat Twice (10–12 minutes)
  • 50 jumping jacks
  • 25 mountain climbers each side
  • 10 pairs of forward to a reverse  lunge
  • High-knee jogging for approximately 1 minute.
Intervals (24–48 minutes)
Set 1: Lower Body/Cardio - 2 – 4 sets (4–8 minutes)
Equipment. Dumbbells.
Level 1. Perform side-to-side (lateral) squats. (3 – 5 steps in one direction then return)
Level 2. Side (lateral) jump squats with light weights (5 – 8 pounds each).
Level 3. Side (lateral) jump squats with medium weights (10 - 12 pounds each).

Set 2: Upper Body - 2 – 4 sets (4–8 minutes)
Equipment. Flat bench or ball.
Level 1. Do push-ups (on knees if a normal pushup is to difficult)
Level 2. Do push-ups with feet on bench or ball.
Level 3: Do continuous push-ups on toes. After going down perform a “jack” by jumping feet out and in then return to up position.
Set 3: Lower Body/Cardio - 2 – 4 sets (4–8 minutes)
Equipment. Dumbbells. 
Level 1. Perform a Romanian dumbbell deadlift (10–15 pounds each).
Level 2. Perform downward portion of Romanian deadlift, squat to deadlift then return to standing
(5 – 8 pounds each).
Level 3. Perform downward portion of Romanian deadlift, squat to deadlift then jump up on return
(3 – 5 pounds each).
Set 4: Upper Body - 2 – 4 sets (4–8 minutes)
Equipment. Dumbbells and/or weighted bar (advanced).
Level 1. Perform bent over back rowing alternating arms with moderate weights (10–15 pounds each).
Level 2. Perform bent over dual arm, single dumbbell, back rowing with heavier weights (20–30 pounds).
Level 3. Perform pull up’s.  

Set 5: Cardio - 2 – 4 sets (4–8 minutes)
Equipment. Exercise tube or other low hurdle. Place tube in straight line on floor beside you.
Level 1. Do single-leg leaps over tube and back. (Change leg used when repeating)
Level 2. Perform two-footed jump over tube and return, fast pace.
Level 3. Do stationary tuck-jumps or squat-jumps.
Set 6: Core Work - 2 – 4 sets (4–8 minutes)
Equipment. Mat, dumbbells.
Level 1. Goodbye Love Handles
Lie on your side with your body in a straight line. Fold your arms across your chest. Keeping your legs together, lift them off the floor as you raise your top elbow toward your hip. The range of motion is short, but you should feel an intense contraction in your obliques.
10 repetitions each side [Beginner]

Hold a pair of lightweight dumbbells over your head, in line with your shoulders, with your elbows slightly bent. Keep your back straight, and slowly bend directly to your right side as far as possible without twisting your upper body. Pause, return to an upright position, then bend to your left side as far as possible.
6 to 10 repetitions each side [Beginner to intermediate]


Stand while holding a dumbbell with both hands in front of your midsection. Twist 90 degrees to the right, then 180 degrees to your left. Keep your abs tight and move fast. Bring to center. Alternate the side you start with.
10 repetitions each side (Intermediate)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Yoga Fusion Fat Burn: Melissa Bender Fitness

Hi Everyone,
Today’s workout is a bit different. It combines high intensity cardio with full body yoga, and some strength training moves. It’s a very dynamic workout that will help you burn fat and get all-over toning.
I'm going to tell you a little secret. I didn't feel like working out today! I actually found today’s workout to be more challenging than normal. Jesse and I completed it in 21 minutes. I added clips to today’s video of Jesse and I doing today’s workout together. I was very tired today, but I pushed it, motivated myself to workout, and I am glad I did. J
I found a recipe online for a healthy version of chocolate peanut butter cupcakes. I am going to try it out (hopefully tomorrow!) and if it’s good I will share the recipe.
Motivate yourself to do this workout. It’s really great for you, and I promise you will work every inch of your body.

Yoga Fitness Fat Burn Workout
Beginner: 10 reps, 30 seconds for timed exercises
Intermediate: 15 reps, 45 seconds for timed exercises
Advanced: 20 reps, 60 second for timed exercises
Note: You go through the entire sun salutations series one time each for exercises: 1, 4 and 7. The way it is demonstrated in the video is one rep. This series works every muscle in your body and you will feel it.
1.       Sun salutation
2.       High knees (timed)
3.       Tap and twist abs
4.       Sun salutation
5.       Jump kicks (timed)
6.       Burpees
7.       Sun salutation
8.       Surfer (timed)
9.       superman

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tighter Tush: Melissa Bender Fitness

Cydney is back with a vengeance for her weekly workout! This workout is all about working your core, your butt and your thighs. This workout will help you whittle your waist and get nice tight muscles in your abdomen. It is also designed to work your butt from every angle.
If you’re feeling motivated and energetic I recommend that you go through this entire workout twice. J
Every week Cyd impresses me because she shows up with a great attitude, ready to work, and each week the changes are more and more noticeable. She has increased her strength, endurance, and athletic ability. Her waist is getting littler. Put in the work, and you will get the results.
Have a great day, and a great workout,

Tighter Tush Workout
Beginner: 10 reps, 30 seconds for timed exercises
Intermediate: 15 reps, 45 seconds
Advanced: 20 reps, 60 seconds
1.       High Knees (timed)
2.       Lunge to Pushup
3.       Jumping Jacks
4.       Dead Bug (timed)
5.       Surfer Burpee
6.       Leg Raise with hip lift
7.       Mountain Climbers (timed)
8.       Lunge Kicks (right)
9.       Lunge Kicks (left)
10.   Supergirl Planks
11.   Monkey Jumps
12.   Kick Backs (right)
13.   Kick Backs (left)
14.   Pendulum Squat
15.   Squat Reach (right)
16.   Squat Reach (left)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Lovehandle Loser Part 2

Hi Everyone,
Today we have a new featured guest. Her name is Jessica, and she is my sister (in case you didn’t notice the resemblance!) She did a great job today, and worked really hard. J I hope she comes back soon to do another workout with me.
The Love Handle Loser workout I posted last week was so popular, and I got such great feedback that I decided to do a second one! This one is short, and effective. I hope you enjoy the new exercises I included. Feel free to leave comments below, and have fun with this.
I will have a new workout with Cydney up soon so be sure to check back!

Love Handle Loser: Part 2
Beginner: 10 reps, 30 seconds for timed exercises
Intermediate: 15 reps, 45 seconds for timed exercises
Advanced: 20 reps, 60 seconds for timed exercises
1.       High Knees (timed)
2.       Cheek to Cheek Plank
3.       Cross Jack
4.       Criss-Cross lunge
5.       Mountain Climbers (timed)
6.       Rolling Sit-up
7.       Side Plank Lift (right)
8.       Side Plank Life (left)
9.       Ab Series
10.   Burpees

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Healthy Feta Stuffed Chicken Dinner: 231 Calories or less

Feta Stuffed Chicken
1/4 cup (1 ounce) crumbled basil and tomato feta cheese
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) fat-free cream cheese (I used whipped cream cheese)
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
a dash of salt
1 teaspoon olive oil (I use extra virgin olive oil)
1 10-ounce package of prewashed spinach (8 cups)-I actually use more than this because I really like spinach
2 tablespoons of sunflower seeds (optional)
Lemon slices to garnish

Note: for the pictures I was cooking a dinner party for 12 people. The ingredients above will make enough to serve 4. Also, I was rushing when I took the "finished" picture because everyone was here. It actually looks much nicer than the picture portrays it!

Total Time: 30 minutes

First I lay all of the chicken out on a tray and cut it in half. Then I cut slits in the thickest part of the chicken. This is where we will be putting the cheese.

Mix the feta cheese and cream cheese in a bowl

Stuff the pockets with the cheese mixture.

Heat oil and in a large pan on medium high heat. Non-stick pans work best.

Sprinkle the chicken with a little bit of salt and pepper.
Cook on medium-high heat about 12-15 minutes or until tender, and no longer pink. Reduce heat if the chicken starts to cook to quickly. I cover the pan with aluminum foil to keep the chicken moist as it cooks.
Remove chicken from the skillet, set aside and cover so it stays warm.

People started arriving so I didn't get pictures of the rest, but cooking the spinach is as follows:
Add the broth to the pan you cooked the chicken in (be careful!) and bring it to a boil. Fill the pan with spinach, cover about 2-3 minutes until the spinach wilts. Remove the spinach from the pan (keeping the liquid in the pan) and set aside. Continue this process until you have cooked the desired amount of spinach. If you want to add the sunflower seeds add them, and reheat all of the spinach in the skillet.

To serve divide the spinach, and top with the stuffed chicken breast. I garnish with a lemon for both the flavor and the color. I got the last little bit of spinach you see pictured below. The other plates got a bit more. I made some steamed broccoli to have in addition to the spinach.

It was delicious, satisfying, filling, and no one would have suspected I was feeding them "diet" food.

With the nuts this meal has about 231 calories.
This recipe was slightly modified from the Better Homes and Gardens New Dieter's Cookbook (3rd edition, 2003)

Fat Free: Melissa Bender Fitness

Hi Everyone,
Today’s workout is structured a little bit differently than previous workouts. Every other exercise is cardio. For each cardio exercise you are going for the maximum number of reps you can in the time allotted. You can use a stop watch or interval timer. If you don’t have either of those then go for reps on the jump squats, and estimate the high knees.
The jump squats were especially difficult for me today. My legs were tired, but on the last set I pushed myself to do 5 more jumps than I did the previous rounds.
For today’s workout repeat the entire set twice, or go through once and do 30 minutes of cardio (running or jump rope). There are a few new exercises, so be sure to have fun with this one!
I will be posting a great recipe later tonight so be sure to check back! It’s Jesse’s birthday so I cooked something special!

Fat Free Workout
10 reps
30 seconds: high knees and jump squats (Max reps in the time)
15 reps
45 seconds: high knees and jump squats
20 reps
60 seconds: high knees and jump squats
1.       Transverse Plank (reach right, reach left=1 rep)
2.       High Knees
3.       Leg Thread
4.       Jump squats
5.       Side Plank with Knee (right)
6.       High Knees
7.       Side Plank with Knee (left)
8.       Jump Squats
9.       Sleeping Crab
10.   High Knees
11.   Tricep Leg Lifts
12.   Jump Squats

Friday, December 16, 2011

Rockin' Body: Melissa Bender Fitness Workout

Hi Everyone,
I enjoyed today’s workout. If you move quickly between exercises you will get an intense, calorie burning workout. J  You really want to keep your rest time in between as short as possible so you are getting the most out of the training.
Let’s get a jump start on any fitness and health related New Year’s Resolutions. Why wait until January 1st to make positive changes in your life? Start now! Since I started this blog I have noticed positive changes in my health, attitude, level of fitness and body. I love hearing from those of you who have started your own Fitness Bender’s. Tell me about your results or any questions you have.
In the meantime, enjoy the workout!

Rockin’ Body Workout
Warm up: 5 minutes of cardio. I jump roped. Other options include running, mountain climbers, and high knees.
Beginner:  10 reps of each
Intermediate: 15 reps
Advanced: 20 reps
1.       Wall sit abs
2.       Lunge jumps
3.       Up/down dog
4.       Squat jumps
5.       Sumo plank
6.       High knees
Beginner: 30 seconds
Intermediate: 45 seconds
Advanced: 60 seconds
7.       Leg series sit ups right
8.       Leg series sit ups left
9.       Heel lift squats
10.   Burpees

Repeat! (Go through the entire workout twice. If you are a beginner once is probably enough. Listen to your body).
Cool Down: 5 minutes of cardio.