Friday, January 25, 2013

Irish dance diet - Strength training for Irish dancers - VIDEO

Monika Volkmar, Dance Personal Trainer
Photo: courtesy Monika Volkmar
"My top 3 reasons for dancers to strength train are to correct muscle imbalances, to gain full body strength, and to improve technical execution."
~Monika Volkmar, Dance Personal trainer

Over the holidays I hired a personal trainer to help me with my Irish dance diet. I want to do this right, and balance good eating with strength training and cardio health. It's going great. I feel good, I'm losing fat and I'm strengthening my body. I'm going to a better Irish dancer!

Month 3
Weight lost:
Muscle gained: 4 pounds
Total fat loss:

I just finished throwing out all of the rest of the Christmas goodies that were still lurking around my house. You know exactly what I mean don't you? I think that as my family has grown, and I spend much of my time planning, cooking, storing food and the junk food makes its way into my house (how does it do that?), and that I have a harder time resisting food. Strength training is a great way to increase my metabolism, and counter those extra foods. 

As I've been getting into personal training, I ran into Monika Volkmar, a personal trainer who specializes in dancers. I've asked her to answer some questions for us Irish dancers. She's very enthusiastic and I think you'll enjoy her advice. 

Christy:  Why is strength training an important part of a dancer's health?

Monika:  Making a dancer stronger requires a more wholistic approach, taking the mind and body into consideration. And though there are many, many reasons for dancers to strength train, my top 3 reasons are to correct muscle imbalances, to gain full body strength, and to improve technical executionBy becoming stronger, dancers can also improve elements of their technique, such as jumps, leg height, upper body carriage, turns and balance. 

Monika Volkmar, Dance Personal Trainer
Photo: courtesy Monika Volkmar
It is imperative however, to strength train in an intelligent way. Make sure you have a well-designed program to address your specific needs, and that you have a coach or partner to make sure your form is perfect.

Christy:  Can you recommend some strength training exercises that may be helpful for Irish dancers?

Monika:  I’m not going to pretend that I’m an expert on training Irish dancers(my training being mostly in ballet, modern and jazz dance). I can say that Irish dancers would benefit from strengthening the anterior core, hip extensors, and upper back, while working on ankle mobility.

Core strength is necessary to hold the trunk strong and prevent lower back injuries. 
Upper back strength will help to maintain the upright posture of the shoulders. Developing a strong pair of glutes to extend the hips is of utmost importance. Your hips are where your power comes from so you must learn to use them!

I also understand that the posterior calf becomes quite shortened, and tight due to the fact that you’re constantly on your toes. It is, therefore, important to maintain mobility of the ankle to prevent things like shin splints, ankle sprains, Achilles tendinitis, and knee issues. Using a lacrosse ball to massage the calves, simple ankle mobility drills, and strengthening the tibialis anterior should be part of every Irish dancer’s self-care routine

Monika demonstrating the deadlift, which works core, glutes, hamstrings and upper back. 

Here are some of my favourite strengthening exercises:

Squats: core, glutes, quads, upper back.
Deadlifts: (my favourite): core, glutes, hamstrings, upper back
Single leg Romanian deadlifts: single leg hip stability, core strength, glute and hamstring strength
Row variations: Upper back.
YWT: Lower/middle traps, external shoulder rotators, scapular stability
Plank: Core strength
(note: Monika has videos for all of the above exercises on her YouTube Channel, including the one above)

Christy:  What suggestions do you have for adult dancers?

Monika:  As you age, you begin to lose muscle and strength, and joints become compromised, making you more at risk for injury. My advice:  if you don’t already strength train, start now! Try to maintain mobility at the ankles, hips, and shoulders, and constantly work on stability of the knee, scapulae, and core. The older you get, recovery from injuries becomes more and more timely, so prevention is your best bet.

In all likelihood, you will get injured at some point. The stronger you are, and the better your nutrition is, the quicker you will bounce back!

Most importantly, pay attention to your posture outside dance class and the gym.

And keep dancing! It’s good exercise for the heart, and keeps your brain sharp. Oh, and it’s fun too.

Christy:  Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge with us, Monika. 

To find out more information about Monika's dance strength training program, visit The Dance Training Project website

Friday, January 18, 2013

Create a Powerful Life Plan! 3 Simple Steps to Your Ideal Life by Connie Sokol

Ready to jumpstart your life, but not sure how?

Years ago I was fat, unfulfilled, and unfocused. Then I got serious about making changes, writing an achievable life vision and goals. Starting with weight, I lost twenty-five pounds and gained great energy. This motivated me to organize my home and time, rediscover the joy in parenting, and speak professionally part-time to share with others what I had learned.

That was my ideal life change, what’s yours?

Create a Powerful Life Plan: 3 Simple Steps to Your Ideal Life! will help you achieve life changes in three stress-free steps. You’ll learn how to create a clear vision of your ideal life. Then, how to set and achieve simple, enjoyable goals to make that vision a reality. And finally, what to do when you become stuck, fearful, or frustrated.

You’ll also read the real-life experiences of five women who put their Life Plan into action. And receive online support through podcasts, video segments, blog posts and more at

Now is the best time to become the person you want to be, and live the life you yearn to live. No gimmicks, no hoopla, just solid, time-tested principles and practices that will help you achieve your dreams and goals, and enjoy the process.

So, are you ready to create your powerful Life Plan?

~Published January 7th 2013 by Sokol Publishing

I just love Connie's outlook on life, and her books give me such a push to do what I know I can. This book empowers you to make small changes in your life that will lead to an overall powerful life plan. 

The book acts like a workbook of sorts, for those who like to write down their goals. Even if you don't like to, even just reading the book in a sitting, like I did, will clarify your outlook on your own life. I highly recommend this book, I'm buying copies for the women in my life. 

"I love your book!! I read it once last week and now I'm reading it again and marking it. I can see it making a difference in my life. I'm realizing that I don't have to do it all at once." Jodi Anderson

"Before I started this [book], I wanted to break down my goals into weekly accomplishments in a goal setting program. I can't believe it, this is exactly what I have been looking for!" Brea Mefford

"I love this program. It really helps me to be accountable, and more importantly, to see progress. I increased my weekly income by better than half. I paid off two credit cards and my overdraft. My husband was able to pay off his car, and I have completely revamped my business goals and direction. Thank you!" Andrea Johnson

Social Media Links:

Connie Sokol is a mother of seven, a sought after local and national presenter, and a regular speaker at Education Week. She is a monthly TV contributor on KSL’s “Studio 5” and regular blogger for KSL's "Motherhood Matters." She is a former columnist for Deseret News and Utah Valley Magazine, and TV and radio host for Bonneville Communications. Mrs. Sokol is the author of several books including the award-nominated Caribbean Crossroads, Faithful, Fit & Fabulous, and Life is Too Short for One Hair Color Series, as well as the creator of talk CDs, podcasts and the "8-week Challenge." Mrs. Sokol marinates in time spent with her family and eating decadent treats. For more, visit

Blog Tour Schedule for Create A Powerful Life Plan! 3 Simple Steps to Your Ideal Life by Connie Sokol

January 2013--
1/22/2013   1/24/2013

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Amplifying Pastry recipe

Amplifying Pastry
for Splintered by A.G. Howard
Amplifying Pastry

Alyssa, in Splintered by A.G. Howard, is not a bit like Alice when she ventures to Wonderland. Alyssa wants to rid her family of the curse that Alice brought upon her family. But many things are the same, talking flowers, smiling cats, and amplifying pastries. I came across the idea for this little beauty while browsing through Ree Drummond's fantastic Pioneer Woman website. Thanks Ree! With a combination of vanilla pudding and Nutella spread, this tiny little cake brings all of the wonder and chaos of the original tale, without amplifying your waistline.


One pre-baked Angel Food Cake loaf (store bought or homemade)
8 oz container Cool Whip, thawed
2 T vanilla pudding

Slice the cake lengthwise down the middle. Cut the pieces into cubes. Slice each cube in half or thirds, depending on how many layers you would like your cake to have. 
Spread Nutella in between each layer. Stack the layers on top of each other and place them on a dish. Freeze the cakes for thirty minutes to set the Nutella.
Mix the cool whip together with the vanilla pudding. Spread the cool whip frosting on all sides of each small cake. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (after eating one, just to see if it tastes ok). Remove from the refrigerator ten minutes before serving.  

*Low calorie suggestions:
Use fat free Cool Whip and sugar free vanilla pudding. Substitute the Nutella with your favorite low calorie spread or jam.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Jungle by Joni Hilton

Jungle by Joni Hilton
Nina is a young college student who dreams of following in the footsteps of her uncle, a renowned anthropologist. She is beyond excited when her uncle tells her of an amazing opportunity to explore an uncharted island in the Indian Ocean. She never imagines she will meet a literal Tarzan, the son of English explorers who died there when he was an infant, leaving him to be raised by the local tribe. This mesmerizing culture brings us enchanting customs, glistening headdresses that unwrap into deadly whips, spine chilling danger, and a thrilling romance. 

 When Nina accidentally ventures into the deepest part of jungle, a bronzed hero magically leaps from the treetops to rescue her from a wild animal attack. And when she stares into his brilliant green eyes, she knows without a doubt that this is no ordinary tribesman. She is smitten at first touch. Breathless. Perils lurk everywhere in the shape of poisonous plants, strange species of animals that prowl the night, and even murderous cannibals from a nearby atoll. Storms, fires, and incessant insect attacks are just part of living life on the edge, and the natives take it in stride. Nina comes to accept their ways and loves the island with the same fervor as she loves her man. When the expedition nears its close, Nina must choose: Should she return home to become an anthropologist, or stay in the jungle with the man she loves?

~Published by Amazon Digital Services, Inc. Oct 12, 2012

Food to Eat While Reading:  Secret Recipe Trout (recipe and photo coming soon--as soon as I can get some trout from my dad!)

Jungle by Joni Hilton is such a fun read. I don't read many books that aren't fantastic or magical in someway, but this book took me to another world in a different way. Hilton really knows her stuff and she includes so many facts about island living, customs, plants and animals. It was fascinating.

I loved Kai, the jungle man. He was sweet and loving. I wish that the romance part of the story would have come in a bit sooner, but I was still entertained as I waited for it.

I felt that the characters of Alex and Kai were two dimensional, but then I get that this story is for fun and not trying to win any literary awards. I just would like to have seen more depth in Kai, and more malice along the way from Alex.

I recommend Jungle for the sheer fun of escaping to an undiscovered island for romance and adventure!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Irish dance inspires Galway man to pursue career for life-touch wood - VIDEO

Fergal Costello with Touchwood Handcrafted Memories
Photo: courtesy Fergal Costello
In life, unlike competition, no one can tell you what place you come! So if you love something, if you’re passionate about it, get out and do it and don’t give a second thought to what anyone else may think. In the long run, you will be the winner.

~Fergal Costello Irish dancer and owner of Touchwood Handcrafted Memories

When Fergal Costello of Galway, Ireland, was sixteen years old, he spent the summer working with a local wood craftsman by day, and dancing in an Irish dance show by night, a pattern that would turn into a life's work.

Costello began learning Irish dance at the Brady Scanlan School from his mum, Mary Brady Costello, and Jackie Scanlan. He competed until he was seventeen, by then already learning his trade as a craftsman. When he finished competing in Irish dance, he thought he would put it behind him. But at age eighteen Costello joined an Irish dance show and rekindled his love of Irish dance. 

Handcrafted Medal Plaques for Irish dance
by Touchwood Handcrafted Memories
Photos: courtesy Fergal Costello

Since then, Costello has danced and continues to dance with such shows as Lord of the Dance, Dance of Desire, and Celtic Crossroads. "I will keep dancing as long as I enjoy it, and manage to stay injury free, touch wood," Costello says. In addition to dancing, further study at two wood working colleges, Letterfrack, in Galway, and Buckinghamshire, England helped hone Costello's career as a craftsman.  

Naturally, Costello's two passions are inspired by each other. "You would think Irish dance and woodwork couldn’t be more different, but I think I originally took to woodwork because of the similarity," Costello says. "The reward is  at the end of the day, you have created something. And you know that next time you might create something even better. That’s a magic feeling, and it’s addictive. That’s why no one ever seems to be able to quit Irish Dancing."

Touchwood Handcrafted Memories is the name of Costello's woodworking business. He specializes in medal display plaques for Irish dancers, music, and sports. He creates fine furniture and is currently creating prizes for the same sports, which will launch next year. All of Costello's work reflect the mission of Touchwood. As Costello puts it: "To do justice to the efforts, talents, dedication, perseverance and pride shown by competitors and their closest supporters, by providing them with unique, original, premium products to reward, display and celebrate their achievements."

Costello's work has already gained prestige, including awards from the prestigious RDS national craft competition. 

In both craftsmanship, and performance, Costello knows the importance of hard work, dedication, passion, and pride. At age twenty-six, Costello is still wood crafting by day, and Irish dancing by night. 

For more information, visit Touchwood

Touchwood Handcrafted Memories inspired by Irish dancing

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

10 Questions to Answer While Preparing for a Mission by Benjamin Hyrum White

10 Questions to Answer While
Preparing for a Mission
by Benjamin Hyrum White
Because I have 4 young boys who will, sooner than I know, be preparing to serve missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I am excited to read Benjamin Hyrum White's 10 Questions to Answer While Preparing for a Mission.

Benjamin Hyrum White, the author of this valuable tool for future missionaries learned some Irish dance hardshoe while folk dancing at BYU. So naturally, I was thrilled when he agreed to do an interview to share with all of you.

Christy:  Have you always wanted to be an author? What inspires you?

Benjamin:  Since I love reading great fiction books (Ranger's Apprentice, Fablehaven, Harry Potter, Dragonlance), I did my final senior project in high school about being a storybook fiction writer. I received mentoring from a teacher at San Francisco State University and wrote a short story about the real reason boys fall in love with girls (it has to do with cooties!). I got an big A for it and ever since then I have had a goal to write.
The gospel of Jesus Christ inspires me the most. Other inspirations come from my family, sports and people who live wonderful lives of goodness and service.

Christy:  What is your hope for readers to gain from reading your book?

Benjamin:  I hope readers will be better prepared to serve a mission and find an increased faith in Jesus Christ from reading my book.

Christy:  Did you serve a mission, or have you been involved in missionary work?

Benjamin:  I served in the best mission on earth, the Colorado Denver North Mission. I loved sharing my testimony before my mission and have continued to do so after my mission as well. Missionary work is so fascinating to me that I decided to pursue writing about it for my Masters thesis. I had the honor of compiling the history of Preach My Gospel. The process of how that manual was put together was inspiring and faith promoting for me.

Christy:  Do you have plans for future books?

Benjamin:  I would love to write a children's book about a dog and a cat named Roscoe and Rufus. I want to write an older children's book titled "The Mystery of the Greenleaf Cop," about some teenagers who try to discover the enigma surrounding the speed limit in a small town of western Idaho. I have an idea for a book about scouting and another idea for a book about Church History. I would also like to write more books about the gospel too especially ones dealing with the For The Strength of Youth pamphlet.

Christy:  Can you give some advice to other aspiring authors?

Benjamin:  Let the Lord lead you and guide you. He will not only open doors for you but close other doors along the way. If you get rejected, keep after it. Someone will give you a chance!

Christy:  What do you eat while reading/writing?

Benjamin:  Hopefully something healthy but more than likely something sweet like ice cream or salty like goldfish crackers. But the best of both worlds would be yogurt/chocolate covered pretzels - delectable!

Benjamin Hyrum White's book is being published by Cedar Fort, and today is the release day! You can purchase the book on Amazon

Monday, January 7, 2013

Irish dance diet - What's your currency? Motivate yourself!

Month 2
Irish dance solo dress  available on
Irish dance solo dress
available on

Weight: 152
Total Weight lost: 3

This month I've been very motivated. I've been working hard at dance, and also cross training with weight resistance and cardio on the elliptical machine. I've been trying really hard to eat whole wheat and lots of great veggies and fruits. I've been enjoying it--more than I thought I would.

What is my motivation?

I want to take care of my body. I want to Irish dance until I am old. Do you see the connection? If my body isn't in great shape, I won't be able to continue my love of Irish dance as long as if I take control of my lifestyles.

So how do you motivate yourself?

1- Decide what your currency is.

What do you like for a reward? It probably shouldn't be food-related if you are trying to lose weight. If you continue to strive for your goal, reward yourself with a new book, a night out at the movies, or even simply a bubble bath.

2- Create a visual reminder.

Write up what you want to accomplish, or create a collage of photos that remind you of your goal.  Then put it somewhere where you will see it every day.  I am going to post a photo of a solo dress on my bathroom mirror. A friend of mine suggested that I put a note in my pantry that reads, "Your solo dress is not in here."

3- Use the currency as an anchor.

Every time that you are tempted to slip, consciously think of the motivator. We all have down times and that is when it is most important to push through and keep going.

4- Don't forget to reward yourself when you have reached your goal.

I can't wait to wear that solo dress!

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Weird as it is working for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, Evie’s always thought of herself as normal. Sure, her best friend is a mermaid, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she's falling for a shape-shifter, and she's the only person who can see through paranormals' glamours, but still. Normal. Only now paranormals are dying, and Evie's dreams are filled with haunting voices and mysterious prophecies. She soon realizes that there may be a link between her abilities and the sudden rash of deaths. Not only that, but she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures. 

 So much for normal.

 ~Published September 1st 2010 by HarperTeen

Food to Eat While Reading: (still thinking of a recipe, probably it will have to do with fire, or souls, or fire on the inside, something spicy)

Paranormalcy felt like a fun teenish novel for the first bit and even though the writing is good, I was unsure if I would like it. Little by little, though, White reeled me in until I didn't realize that I was tangled in the plot of the book and couldn't wait to see how it ended.

Evie is a fun and quirky character, along with the other paranormals. I love her voice and the way she dialogues.

I realized, along with Evie, that just because I understand the world one way, it doesn't mean that it is the right way.  We all need to be open to changing our way of thinking and looking at things from other people's perspectives.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Sterile Field by Derick William Dalton

A friend of mine has a short story that is available for free on his website. This is what he has to say about it:  "Sterile Field, may be a good fit for your readers. A minor character from a few key scenes in the novel has a back story that's more a romantic adventure than the novel. The save-the-world conflict in the book takes a far backseat to the relationships of the short-story's protagonist: the golden-haired dog from Iowa and the brown-eyed woman from Washington, D.C."

Take a look at it here if you are interested. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Finished Being Fat by Betsy Schow

Do you have a goal to lose weight this year? Have you tried and failed so many times you cannot count? Maybe you are like me and are dealing with more than just portion control. I'm excited to introduce you to Betsy Schow's new book, Finished Being Fat. The book comes out today! You can find Finished Being Fat on Amazon.

Finished Being Fat by Betsy Schow
This is not your ordinary diet book. This is a true story about to entertain and uplift at the same time. It's being hailed as Eat, Pray, Love ... for normal people.

After many years of being fat and miserable, with a few years of being average and less miserable mixed in, I finally had a lightbulb moment. The reason I was unhappy, was not just the extra 75 pounds of pudge I was carrying. It was the weight of all the things unfinished that hung around my neck. I was always having grand ideas. I'd get excited about this diet, or that workout routine. Or starting a new hobby or project. Problem was, within a few weeks the excitement would fade and that little voice would kick in. You know the one I'm talking about. 
"You're no good at this. You'll never keep the weight off. Why are you even bothering?"
Betsy Schow, before and after
Photo: courtesy Betsy Schow

And every time I quit, my wall of failures would get a little higher -- making success that much harder to see.
What started out as yet another attempt to get rid of the weight around my middle, snowballed into a year of changing my life, my marriage  and the way I raise my kids. Not to mention accomplishing seemingly impossible dreams. 

Whether your goal is losing weight, running a marathon, cleaning out the basement, or all of the above, this book will teach you how to achieve more than you ever thought possible without sacrificing your sanity or sense of humor.

This is a book all about finishing and reaching your goals, perfect to highlight while all your readers are making their New Year's resolutions, or struggling to keep those resolutions.