Feeling the burn!

britt mcvicar fitness, personal trainer, yoga, olympia, workout

True or False: You should push yourself in exercises until you really feel the burn in your muscles.

False. This isn’t another article saying that heavy lifting  and that one exercise trend that is sweeping the nation with intense exercises are all bad for you. NO! Those are necessary and great ways to really transform your body.

BUT you can really screw your bod over if you ignore alignment and core strength. Set your foundation before launching into your exercise programs.

Lesson 1:
Chances are your core is on a sabbatical. Even if you can plank like a rock star, there is a possibility that your core doesn’t fire correctly when you walk or do other exercises. Your core is meant to stabilize and protect your body.

This is why isometric exercises are so great, you are replicating the duty of the core. This is also why I am not a fan of sit-ups, those work your hip-flexors and crunch your neck. Unless you are in a competition where you are head-butting your knees, I’d bypass sit-ups and do dead-bug!

Lesson 2:
Your body is a cheater. It actively looks for ways to conserve energy (calories). Even if you find an exercise routine that melts away 10 lbs, in about 4-6 weeks, your body will burn fewer calories because it got smart, and that sucks.

Solution? Do mini-modifications to your exercise routine, switch out every 4-6 weeks with a different routine or yoga!

Lesson 3:
Slow and steady win the race. If you like super intense workouts to see how many squats or burpees you can crank out in 45 seconds, awesome! If you just asked what a burpee is, you may benefit more from slowing down and focusing on all the muscles that are involved in a certain exercise.

Next time you sit down in your chair at your desk or for your evening meal, take the count of eight to do so. Your friends and family may look at you and wonder if you have hemorrhoids, but just tune in to your body and see if it is a bit more challenging to slow down. Do you feel your core engage at all? Or are you sending all the work to your hips and shoulders?

Important side note: if you are in the mid-west, this meal is supper, if someone invites you for dinner you best show up at noon!


Spot treating – your body is not acne

My arms are jiggly,” “I just need o loose the belly,” “I don’t like my love handles so I need to do side-crunches!”

Honing in on the areas of your body that bug you to most won’t hurt, but it may not be the most efficient way to lose fat or shape and tone that area.

“Then why Britt do all those commercials and pictures in magazines have exercises geared toward my most hated part of my body?”  Because dear friend, they want you to buy the magazine or product that they are selling. Simple as that.

Ab exercises – this is our go-to when we want to get thinner and we think a six-pack will develop if I just head-butt my crotch 100 times a day for 21 days!

Well, you may get stronger abdominal muscle you need to burn more calories during the day than you are consuming, to lose the fat around your abdomen.

OK Britt, quit being a downer! What can we do?!

  • Take a step back and look at the whole pie- you are more than just a slice, you are the WHOLE package. You have love, skills, talents and strength in your whole body, so what if your dimples just happen to be in your thighs right now?
  • Pick your exercises wisely If your underarm area is your biggest fret because it keeps waving at people long after you’ve stopped, add arm exercises to a regular cardio program. These won’t do the trick all on their own, but can make you feel like you are getting to the parts that shake your confidence right now.  Try push-ups, squats, tricep extensions, tricep push ups and tricep pull downs.
  • Pick your food wisely  The Nutrition Diva is currently my favorite resource for nutrition tips! Here is an article about foods that can partner with your cardio to reduce belly fat!
  • Please never use the phrase muscle confusion, please. You cannot confuse your muscles, they are designed to react to varying tension. So just – don’t! *End rant*
  • Love yourself! You are AWESOME!

Love and Sparkles,


Yes, you CAN workout on your couch – winning!

That’s right, I just made one of your favorite pieces of furniture a tool for fitness. WAIT! Don’t leave the page! This is just to show you that when ever you feel the need for a workout and its a rainy, cold, cruddy day, you can use this as an option to keep that body moving before cuddling in with popcorn, your puppies and a good movie!

Do each of these exercises for one minute and repeat as needed for a total body cardio and toning workout! As always, be mindful of any injury or condition you have and modify as necessary.

#1 The Squat

I heart the squat, it’s just full of awesome! So stand in front of your couch or chair and lean back like you are going to sit. Barely tap that booty and keep your knees above your shoelaces!

#2 Plank

Place your forearms on the cushy part of the chair or couch. Added benefit of a cushion is you have to work a bit harder to stay solid and keep a flat back. Keep that belly lifted and core tight!

#3 Lunges!

Elevate that back foot to add extra challenge to your lunge. The front leg is in a 90 degree angle with the knee aligned right over the ankle. Keep your back leg strong by engaging your glutes. Switch legs 30 seconds into the exercise.

#4 Elevated Push-Ups

Great core work as you stabilize on the cushion. Lower down keeping elbows in close to the body and back by your rib cage. Keep that belly lifted!

#5 & #6 Front lift/Side lift

Easy peasy, just lift your right leg to the front and side, avoid tapping the ground! Keep your foot flexed and a slight bend in the knee to protect the joint. Don’t lean too much on that chair or couch. Pat your hand on it throughout the minute to make sure you are challenging your balance! #6, switch to the left leg.

#7 Side Plank

Press up through that forearm and don’t sink into your shoulder. Lift your hips to the ceiling. For extra fun, lift your arm or top leg! Don’t forget the other side!

#8 Back leg lifts

Slight bend in your standing leg. Lift your back leg by squeezing your tush, not your low back. Use the couch or chair to help balance if you need. Think ballet dancer, they have amazing muscles! 30 seconds per leg!

#9 Decline push up

This is a boss of a push up. So only do this if you can keep your core tight and belly lifted. Also, keep those shoulders strong and don’t let gravity pull you down so your shoulder blades stick out. Press away from the floor and to lower, keep elbows tracking toward your rib cage!
Modification! Use the back of the couch or the arm and do incline push ups. You can also use the wall.

#10 Toe taps

Super quick and light on your feet! You can step and tap your toes on the cushion, alternating feet. Add a little hop in there for some extra cardio and calorie burning.

Rinse and repeat as desired! Don’t get down if you can’t do some of these moves, just find the ones that work for you and see how you improve over a couple weeks.

What do you think of this?! Leave your comments below! Or email me!

Potatoes and sparkles,


And we’re back! Back to the basics

Hello lovelies! We are all moved in to our new home, well, all of the boxes are here 😉 Dogs don’t know what to do with three times the size of a back yard and I’m getting used to not hearing my neighbors conversations from my living room! WEEEEE!

Thank you for your patience, I know you’ve been itching for the latest installment of awesome so here we go. Let’s get back to the basics.

I’ve been reading, you know, in all that spare time I have, about the fundamentals of exercise and why basic body weight exercise is SO incredibly important.

Say you want to start an exercise program and get stronger, leaner, or build muscle. All of these you need to be able to move your body correctly before you EVER add a weight. Too often we head to the gym and see someone squatting with 25lbs on each side of the bar and we judge our ability to do the same based on the size, age, and build of the person we are watching. That’s a no no friends.

Even the most advanced weight lifters start with practice rounds before they add weight. You should too! Want to learn to squat like that? Start sitting. No wait I’m being serious! The best way to learn to squat is to slowly sit down in your chair with no hands but before you hit the seat, squeeze that tush like you’re holding in a toot and stand back up! TADAH, the proper squat. Knees should never go in front of your shoelaces and always start with the booty back, then bend at the knee. You will set yourself up for more success if you get the basic move down first, then progress.

Speaking of progress, that doesn’t always mean adding weight. You can progress from the squat to a single-leg squat, commonly called the pistol squat. Yea, its intense, but it is a true show of strength if you can pull off a one-legged squat! Check out one of my favorite groups, the Buff Dudes explain the pistol squat!

Curious about this stuff? Email me and check back in January for our foundation videos that will show you the basics of exercises.

Love and sparkles,


Vacation workouts, oxymoron?!

So we’ve had some wonderful news, we bought a house and the loan is approved! – No Nebraska friends, we aren’t moving back to the Good Life- So that means chaos and craziness for the next few weeks, because we’re throwing in a pre-planned vacation too 😮

That means no weekly fun stories for about two weeks #sadface. 

But let’s have a good thought today. So what happens to you when life happens and you need to take a vacation or time off? Does your body completely crumble if you take a break from working out? Studies show that going from being active to total couch potato can effect your metabolism in as little as five to seven days, and some say you can completely de-condition from any training in only two weeks.  PANIC!!

Sometimes you need to breathe! Its alright to take a day or a few days off of intense workouts, lifting or running. But no matter where you go on vacation or staycation, try to stay active. That means go find new places by taking a short walk. Maybe they have a trampoline house for adults in town, go check it out! Enjoy shopping? Take a few laps around the mall to check out all the stores before going into one. Or just go to the Buckle, you’ll burn calories trying on the 1,000 outfits the clerks bring you!

Best idea – Google my mentor Adriene Mishler and her FREE Yoga with Adriene videos. These are free videos of short and awesome yoga poses that keep your body energized and strong. 

So take a break! Relax! Worse than skipping a workout is spending the rest of the day or week beating yourself up about it. So take your arms, give yourself a hug, now look in the mirror at how silly you look! Or better yet, snap a selfie and send it to me! britt.fitnessmail@gmail.com (You may need someone to take the photo of you I guess, hard to selfie when hugging)

Love and EXTRA sparkles, 


The tortoise and the hare…

So I was working out with some folks this week and life had gotten to them, they were tired and stressed from the day. Sound familiar?! So we started an exercise and they were really picking up the speed. “That way we get done faster right, like those 10 minute workouts!” – not exactly

Want a good quick workout? Then think slow and steady! Hang tight, this will make sense soon. 

Often we find ourselves using momentum when doing exercises like bicep curls, leg extensions, squats, you name it. But that momentum is just using a couple muscle groups and the other helper muscles are kicking back and reading a nice book. To wake them up and get a more effective work out, slow your movements down. 

Think of three counts up, pause, and three counts to return to the starting position. 

“But that’s harder Britt!” Well, yes. It can be more difficult at first because you are recruiting those book worm muscles that often relax because of their overcompensating big muscle partners. Lets get these guys to be friends and work together. By slowing down, you not only do the exercise in better form, but you are being more effective with that move. Fewer moves done correctly is better than 20 repetitions done by swinging your limbs!

Wanna procrastinate whatever it is you are supposed to be doing? Check out this great article about myths of short workouts. Remember, if you don’t do ANY activity, 10 minutes of movement will benefit you greatly. But if you are looking to really get into good cardiovascular shape, 10 minutes a day may hurt more than help. 

So take a breath, shoulders down away from your ears, and slow down. You’ll get done in about the same amount of time and have a WAY better result from your exercises. 

Love and sparkles, 



Do high intensity workouts really work?

We all look for that quick answer to fitness and fat loss. That promise came with these amazing high intensity interval training or high intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts. 

From what I’ve read, a Japanese scientists Dr. Izumi Tabata and a team of researchers at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo are credited with discovering this program. The design is simple, do 20 second intervals of an exercise at your near-maximal effort with a 10 second rest period in between. Do this for 16-20 minutes with various exercises. 

Dr. Tabata and the researchers did some sciencing and found that the group that did the high-intensity workout during their testing period. The group that trained using the tabata method showed greater improvements in both aerobic and anaerobic systems. In other words, that sh*t worked. 

So enter time crunched and stressed out Americans! We can work out 20 minutes a day for 2 or 3 days and be in shape?! SWEET! 

The big BUT in this theory is having the conditioning to enter this very high-intensity workout in order to not only gain benefits, but avoid overtraining and injury. Other sciencing people found that this repetitive workouts can predispose people to overtraining, especially working out at levels of maximimum effort. 

Britt, get to the point, do I do HIIT or what?! Yes and no! 🙂  So here’s the deal.

1) FORM Take some time to evaluate your form. Lots of folks to squats, lunges, burpees, etc, but doing them incorrectly, especially in a high intensity capacity, will most often lead to injury. So -shameless plug- make sure to check out my foundation videos coming this fall. 

2) CONDITIONING My personal recommendation is that you don’t go from couch – or office chair- to tabata training directly. Give yourself a couple weeks to get active and moving again. Work out 4-5 times for 30-60 minutes getting to a point where your body anticipates the movement instead of going “what the hell are you doing to me!” Then start to incorporate low impact moves in a tabata style. 

3) WARM UP COOL DOWN – just don’t, don’t skip this! I used to skip the cool down and then always wondered why my muscles were mad at me. It’s not about just avoiding in jury, its about stretching your muscles so they are connecting to the brain parts you got so they are working more efficiently! You want to feel like a muscle car but run like a Prius …er..something. 

To be clear, I am not knocking tabata or HIIT training, I love it! Just want you all to be careful and realize it is not a secret way to only work out 20 minutes and then go back to your desk or couch 🙂 

With love and sparkles