I don’t do these every Friday, but while I’m feeling so inclined, here are 5 random things I’m into right now!
1. Reusable straws
I drink enough cold brew and red wine to stain my teeth, and my dentist suggested drinking at least the cold brew through a straw. These have little colored pieces that serve as drink identifiers too so I can use them for labeling who’s drink is who’s when I make cocktails!
I finished the show more than a week ago but I binged it pretty hard and am still thinking about it (already waiting for season 2). Not my usual style, but the Duke is a spectacle. Highly recommend.
3. This one-shoulder sports bra
I find cute workout outfits motivating and I am obsessed with this bra. Inexpensive, supportive enough for HIIT, so cute!
4. Changing up the lighting in my home
I recently added a happy light (mimics sunlight) and multiple Himalayan salt lamps to my workspace. I try to get sunlight and definitely get more in Charlotte than I ever did in Syracuse, but winter + a desk job still makes it challenging, so this light is a great addition to my space. I also use the Himalayan salt lamps to add soft lighting to my workspace and light my home once the sun goes down (to help regulate melatonin production I like to keep lights low).
5. Screen time/app limits
I added an app limit specifically to Instagram. It was my most-used app and I was sick of wasting time on it mindlessly scrolling and seeing people scream their opposing opinions at each other. Setting a limit keeps me around 30 minutes per day which is enough time to post what I want + connect with the people I care about. I started for the month of February and so far it’s been a great change. Next, I’m going to work on reducing my overall pick-ups per day to keep me present.
Share some of your Friday favorites with me in the comments!
The best laid plans don’t always pan out, and workouts are no exception. When your motivation is low, here are 7 ways you can turn it around and still get your workout in!
1. Schedule it like an appointment
Set a time in your calendar that you can’t miss. Block it off like a meeting or a doctor’s appointment. Better yet, tell people that it’s your workout slot, which will add more accountability on your end.
2. Save your favorite content for your workout
Give yourself a show that you can only watch while working out, or a podcast you can only listen to while running. Get creative! This will serve as an extra motivator when you don’t want to move but you do want to see/hear your favorite episode.
3. Enlist a buddy
This one can be tough during a pandemic, but you could meet a buddy for outdoor workouts or even zoom/FaceTime to workout together. Having a friend makes you more accountable as you don’t want to let them down, and it adds a little more fun to the occasion.
4. Follow a plan
The lower the barriers, the more likely you are to complete your workout. And the more results you see help propel you too. This is why a structured plan is so important: it helps with both. You can remove the time and space it takes to plan your workout and see improvements that make you want to keep coming back. I have lots of options, my favorite being HIIT at Home 1, 2 + 3, but feel free to reach out and see what’s the best fit for you.
5. Hire a coach
Coaches take the planning work off of your plate and hold you accountable. Not to mention, your results come quicker when working with an expert than relying on yourself to piece it all together. I’ve worked with so many people in this position, and together, we’ve built sustainable workout habits and achieved improvements in body composition, mental health and more. If changing your lifestyle is important to you, send me a message and let’s chat about working together.
6. Try different things
Experiment with morning, evening, or lunch time workouts. Try different formats (HIIT, cycling, strength training, barre, running, etc). See what sticks! Especially if you are new to working out or are feeling burnout from what you’ve been doing.
7. Start small
Workouts do not need to be long to be effective. Set a timer for 5 minutes and go for a walk or do your warmup. Often times that little momentum will keep you going! And if you still don’t feel like doing anything more after those 5 minutes, walk away. 5 minutes of activity is better than 0, and you still created a little positive momentum. Try adding a minute the next time you use this strategy and build yourself up.
Do you use any of these strategies to motivate yourself? Tell me what’s missing/what works for you in the comments!
Improving health and fitness is a common goal, but starting your information search can be completely overwhelming. One site will say to stop eating carbs, another will say they’re essential. One site will say to only eat between 12-8PM, another will say to eat several small meals throughout the day. Instead of following any of these arbitrary rules or going “all in”, I recommend starting small. The following 5 basic habits are great places to start, then refine your journey from there. Which habit you start with will depend on where you’re at in your journey and what area of your life could use the most help.
1. Drink half your body weight in ounces of water.
Water is key in helping you feel your best. Calculate your body weight in lbs, cut that number in half, and set it as a goal number of ounces to drink each day. If this is a reach for you, start smaller and work your way up. These tips also help:
Swap one coffee/soda/juice/glass of wine per day for water.
Use sparkling flavored water to help you hit the goal.
Drink a glass as soon as you wake up!
2. Remove distractions when eating.
We often multi-task, eating while we do other things. This takes away our ability to tune into our own hunger and fullness cues. Removing distractions (tv, phones) helps us slow down, enjoy our food more, digest better, and listen to our bodies. People often eat less and eat better when the distractions are removed, without having to track intake or consciously change food choices. Giving your food more attention just through slowing down and removing screens has a wealth of impacts and is relatively simple to implement.
3. Add walking to your day.
Workouts get a lot of attention, but what are you doing during your other waking hours every day? If the answer is sitting, let’s work some more movement into the day. Walking is a great option because you can do it inside or outside and it helps with both stress management and getting in enough activity. A nice most-meal walk helps with digestion, too! Set a timer to get up at the end of each hour and walk the entire house, or to your mailbox, or to the end of your street. Or, after each meal, walk for 5-10 minutes. The activity adds up (and also creates positive momentum for you to keep going).
4. Develop a bedtime routine.
Better sleep improves physical and mental health. It allows you to recover and gives you the energy to be more productive during the day. Sleep may be the single biggest “bang for your buck” change you can make to your health. Some easy places to start are: decreasing caffeine intake (especially in the afternoon), going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, or starting a bedtime routine (there’s a reason it works so well for kids!). I’ve found the Hatch Restore to be so helpful for nighttime routines (and gentle wake-ups). I also find that reducing blue light after sunset helps me wind down (which is why I love these glasses).
5. Start small with working out.
You don’t have to work out 7 days a week to see results, and in fact, you shouldn’t. Especially if you’re just starting. How many days per week do you think you can commit to exercise for the rest of your life? That is the number of days you should start with, and usually that number is more like 2-3 days/week. In the beginning I’d also focus less on “what’s the most effective workout” and more on “what do I like doing enough to stick to it”. Try different things: strength training, barre, spin, running etc. See what sticks! My Get Strong At Home program can be modified for fewer workouts/week and is a great way to try working out at home.
You may have noticed that not all of these are diet and exercise related. That’s because your health is much deeper than that. If you are dialed on your nutrition and exercise but have no social interaction, can’t sleep at night and spend your entire day thinking about food and exercise, I’d argue that you’re not experiencing optimal health.
If you’re looking for help with habits like these, my HealthierU program may be for you. Our virtual group setting encourages accountability and gives you access to expert coaching at a fraction of the cost for 1:1 coaching. And if you’re looking for a more advanced/customized plan, contact me about 1:1 options!
Being in a pandemic has meant a lot of time spent at home. As someone who loves to go out and do things, it’s also meant that I’ve saved a lot of money (usually a good portion of my income goes into experiences.) So, my focus has been adding joy to my at home space—since I’m here, might as well make it the experience I’m craving/missing out on. I’ve done a lot of cleaning, reorganizing, and made plants and decor purchases, but last week I finally bit the bullet and added an infrared sauna to my garage gym space.
Ever since I worked at an infrared sauna studio back in Syracuse (shoutout to Saunacuse!) I have wanted to own an infrared sauna. Hopping in the sauna has so many health benefits! And with anxiety being at an all time high, lots of time at home to use it, I went for it.
Health Benefits of Infrared Saunas
Infrared saunas have a wealth of health benefits, including:
I particularly notice the relaxation, stress reduction + improved workout recovery, all of which drove me to make the purchase! When I started researching saunas for my garage, I knew I wanted low EMF, chromotherapy (a color changing lightbulb), easy assembly, and enough room for 2 people. It was also important to me that I get something high quality, but I didn’t need the top-of-the-line ($$$$) studio saunas for personal use. That’s how I landed on JNH lifestyles!
Infrared Sauna Review
I got the Ensi 2 person Ultra Low EMF Far Infrared Sauna during JNH Lifestyle’s Christmas sale, so I paid just over 2k for it (due to the addition of a longer warranty and chromotherapy, note that near infrared panels can also be added).
SAUNA ASSEMBLY: It took under 2 hours to put together but definitely required 2 people and a ladder (maybe because we’re on the shorter side). Each step was extremely simple except the bench, which is what took us so long. There were pre-drilled holes for every screw except those going into the bench brackets. This was my one frustration with the process, but we got through it. It’s also worth noting that the sauna is recommended for indoor use or use in an insulated room, but given the Charlotte climate, we felt the garage would be just fine.
SAUNA FEATURES: we opted for ultra low EMF. While there’s “no conclusive evidence” that EMF is harmful, I would rather be safe than sorry here because there are a lot of anecdotes that paint EMF in a harmful light. This sauna also has Bluetooth which I play Spotify or podcasts through, and chromotherapy (additional cost). This is also a two-person sauna which my husband and I can comfortably sit side by side in.
OVERALL THOUGHTS: I think this sauna is a great option for at-home use. I am thrilled with it. My only “complaints” are that I wish it would get a little hotter, a little faster (it says it takes 5 minutes to heat up, but I find it takes closer to 20 to get to the heat that I am looking for).
Infrared Sauna FAQ
HOW OFTEN DO YOU USE IT? I do my morning routine in the sauna (using my planner, journaling, pumping, brand work etc) so I spend 30-40 minutes in it on 5-7 mornings/wk. My husband and I also use it at night (more like 2x/week for 20ish minutes). When we are no longer in a pandemic and in the middle of winter, I’m sure this time will decrease! But my goal would still be at least 3x/week.
HOW MUCH DOES IT IMPACT YOUR ELECTRICAL BILL? This is my first month owning it, so TBD, but I have heard it is negligible.
After years of employees asking for “work from home” benefits, 2020 delivered by forcing employers to “let” us all work from home. I personally love working from home (no commute time, instead of “stop n chats” I can get quick house tasks done.. the list goes on). But, being thrown into a work from home environment without a home office can be a little bit of a boon. People are working from kitchen tables, the couch, their bed.. which is not ideal to do daily.
My environment is important to my productivity – and the right environment allows my headspace to transition from “work” time to “family” time. Without a dedicated workspace, everything starts to blur together. So, now that we’re 9+ months into this thing with no end date in sight: how have you made your work from home space work for you? Here are my tips for making a productive home office.
Invest in a Desk
This might be a tough one if you’re space or budget constrained, but if not, this is where you should start. Having a desk sets the tone that you’re sitting down “at work” for the day. It helps stop that feeling that your home and work life are blending together, and it can put you in a more productive headspace. I love my desk – it’s a lot prettier than any desk I’ve had in a workplace, it has a good amount of storage, and it’s big enough to fit a raiser on top to allow me to stand while I work. I also have a desk chair (recently upgraded from a stability ball) that ties the whole “home office” feel together. There are still times where I sit on my screened in porch or take a meeting from the couch, but overall, having a space where I do most of my work has been so helpful.
Now.. Decorate That Desk
Now that you have your own dedicated space, time to spruce it up. I find that little comforts go a long way in setting my mood for the day. I keep pictures of family and friends nearby to make me smile and book stacks to help me feel motivated. I also love to drink coffee and tea out of my favorite mugs. Keeping things nearby that bring me even a little bit of joy helps me get through the grind!
Light a Candle
Scent can really influence your mood (like when someone microwaves fish for lunch, or your grandma is baking your favorite cookies.) Seasonal candles excite me (and I know I can’t be the only one given the size of the candle market). Keeping one at my desk adds a great scent and some warm light to the air, making my work space feel cozy. A small addition like this makes my desk a place I want to spend time at. I’m currently using this Christmas Velvet candle.
Bring In Some Nature
Cubicles are notorious for lack of natural light. Being in your home can mean better lighting opportunities, which is a perk in itself, but it also means that plants are easier to keep at your desk. Indoor plants can add to a feeling of calm and relaxation while increasing productivity. I keep an aloe vera plant on my desk!
Put On Your Favorite Music
Another benefit of being home? No coworkers to dispute your music choices, and no headphones required. Put on whatever boosts your mood or makes you feel your most productive. Since it’s November as I write this, I’m big on Christmas music right now. For deep concentration, I play low-fi beats or movie scores, and to keep myself groovin’ I’ll play rap or EDM. Not most people’s tastes, which is why I find it nice to work from home!
Physical health receives a lot of attention, especially in the midst of a pandemic (hello, COVID-19). It feels like mental health continues to be stigmatized and take a back seat in comparison. For instance, here in 2020, there is a LOT of concern about catching/spreading COVID-19, and significantly less attention is being given to the mental illnesses that can take hold in a time like this (depression, addiction, etc.)
Mental and physical health go hand in hand. We can’t have sustained physical health without being healthy mentally. Let me start by saying, if you are going through something and battling your mental health, you are not alone.I am always available to chat with anyone in need! And in some cases, I would recommend seeking professional help. This is not something to be ashamed of – I sought therapy for help getting through two occasions so far in my life and could not recommend it enough.
My husband and I saw a marriage counselor together prior to getting married to help me navigate my relationship with my parents, who did not approve of us living together before marriage. I was keeping a lot of who I was bottled up inside and keeping secrets from my parents to avoid confrontation. Seeking therapy helped me break this cycle, and Colin coming with me helped him learn how to best support me through a difficult time. This was a HUGE breakthrough in my life. Colin and I couldn’t move forward and start our own family until I was honest with my family.
I also sought therapy after moving to Charlotte. About 6 months in, I was really missing my friends, not loving my job, and questioning our decision to move. I was unable to sleep at night and crying regularly because of the stress of it. Seeking therapy helped me learn to trust myself, fall in love with this city, connect with local friends, and get back into the fitness community. If I hadn’t gone to therapy, I would probably be back in Syracuse (loving time with my friends and family who I miss!) but not on the growth path that I want for my life.
Neither one of these situations lead to a “diagnosis” — it doesn’t need to. Therapy is for everyone and anyone who could benefit from it. But if therapy isn’t in the cards for you right now, there are still steps you can take to improve your mental health (not a replacement for therapy, just some daily practices that I have found helpful in my own life to keep my low-level anxiety at bay).
Practices for Mental Health
Meditation. You knew this was going to be on here. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably heard about the benefits of meditation by now. I used to think meditation was just sitting silently for a period of time (which sounds sooo not fun). This isn’t the most helpful for me – my mind wanders and I am easily distracted. This is why I prefer guided meditation using an app. I like insight timer for free meditations for a variety of purposes, but I loved headspace when I was struggling through my sleep issues. The sleep course gave me my sleep (and life) back.
Get enough sleep. Set a bedtime routine and schedule and stick to it. If sleep is hard to come by, might I once again suggest the headspace course I listed above? I also found blue light blocking glasses make a big difference here, or even reduced screen time. Which brings me to my next point..
Reduce screen time. Set app limits or try a digital detox. There is SO much noise and distraction out there and it can lead to comparison syndrome and overall just be so draining. I took a 24 hour break from social media a couple months back and felt great, which reminds me, I should schedule another one!
Gratitude journaling. I have been gratitude journaling for close to 2 years now, and it’s amazing to me all the little things I can find to be grateful for. It really helps me see the good in every day and in my life overall. I credit my journal for keeping me sane when quarantine first began and every day started to feel like a “waste”. I found joy in the little things like more money saved, more time for my morning routine, working from my screened in porch, etc. It’s a quick practice to write down 3 things I’m grateful for every day and it helps me start my day on the right foot.
Connect with those around you. In COVID times, there’s a lot of shaming for people spending time together in person, but this is absolutely VITAL to my mental health. And it turns out, having strong mental health can boost your immunity. Please keep that in mind next time you are judging/shaming people who are meeting up in person. Anyway, a strong sense of community and connection is great when it comes to support. Meet a friend for a hike, give them a call, or hop on FaceTime. It makes a world of difference, and feels sooo much better than texting, I promise.
Set boundaries. This can be uncomfortable in the moment, but in the long run, it’s important and impactful to say no to what doesn’t feel good for you. That means saying no to people who aren’t supportive and keeping your priorities straight. For example, if work is always bleeding over into your family time, is that really what you want? Find a solution that stops this from happening (offload some of your work, find efficiencies, or find a new job).
Make time for fun. When is the last time you played, or did something just for yourself that makes you smile? Put on your favorite song and dance along. Carve out time for a hobby you’ve been neglecting. Life is too short to not emphasize joy.
Go outside. It’s amazing what a little fresh air and sunshine can do. Even if the sun isn’t out, you could kill two bird with one stone and “make time for fun” on a rainy day by splashing in the puddles.
These are just some of my favorite ways to take care of my mental health. What are some of your practices/what’s missing from this list?
Before I became a mom, people would learn about my love of fitness and say things like “just wait until you have kids..”. Has working out become more difficult with a baby? Yes, of course. And we’re still working through the kinks of scheduling. But it hasn’t made things impossible–we’ve just had to get a little creative.
The reality is: if it’s a priority to you, you’ll make it work! And fitness is a priority to me, because it fills my cup and helps me show up better in everything else I do. So, at 7.5 weeks postpartum, here are my tips for getting your workout in with a new baby to take care of.
The first step, prior to using any of the below tips, is to schedule time for your workout. Otherwise, the day can easily pass you by. Since babies notoriously resist adhering to schedules (especially in the early days) you will likely need to be flexible and get a little creative. Here are some ideas to make your scheduled time work:
Wake up earlier. I currently take the 6AM slot to workout, at which point my daughter and husband are still sleeping for at least 30 minutes. They will wake up during my workout, and she will usually take a bottle at this time (which means I pump on my drive to or from the gym, shout-out to my freemie pump for allowing me to pump on the go!). Getting my day started before the baby can be tough due to waking up for night feedings, but ultimately, it adds an extra window of time to get things done. PS – my husband take the 4PM slot, so it’s not just me who needs to schedule my workouts!
Ask for help. Since I am on maternity leave, it is “assumed” that I will be on baby duty most of the time. It can feel hard to ask for help (#momguilt) but ultimately, taking an hour for yourself isn’t selfish if it helps put you in a better spot as a caretaker for the rest of the day. I know if I didn’t ask for help, I’d hold resentment, and that doesn’t benefit anyone! Unfortunately, since we are in a pandemic, my options for help are limited, but my husband is here. And it’s nice that he’s able to get quality time in with his daughter by me asking for help.
Wait until they baby is nappingor occupied playing. This is a tough one, because naps are not consistent when babies are young (they can range from 20 minutes to 2 hours!) and they don’t quite “play” yet. But, if help is out of the question, and you had a rough night of sleep, this is definitely an option. I’ve put Stella in the SNOO and brought her monitor into the garage while I worked out, and I’ve put her on her play gym or swing next to me. This is where that flexibility comes into play! There have been times where she starts to lose it mid-workout, and I just take what I can get. In this case, something is better than nothing.
Invest in a jogging stroller. The nice thing about this option is that you don’t have to ask anyone else for help or wait until the baby is occupied. They’re with you and they can be awake or asleep. If your baby is anything like mine, they’ll find the stroller soothing, so you won’t have to worry about them losing it/crying during your workout. The downsides are: if running isn’t your thing, this option may not be appealing to you, it’s not ideal to use in crappy weather, and they can be pricey. Oh, and pushing a stroller uphill while running is quite the challenge (but that’s not all bad, since it is a workout!). PS- a lot of jogging strollers require the baby being ~6 months old before use, but the one I have allows the infant car seat to click into it, so we were able to use it right away.
Ultimately, it’s about how important fitness is to you (and if it’s not that important to you, there’s nothing wrong with that!). Where there’s a will there’s a way (most of the time).
Do you work out with a baby? How did you fit your workout in?
Is it just me or has 2020 felt like a rut? Nothing like a global pandemic during an election year to force you to take a hard look at the way you live your life! Being in a “rut” can feel pretty icky – when I’m in one, I feel completely stagnant. But it also provides an opportunity. Coming out of that rut is a new trajectory. So what’re you waiting for? Here are a few of my tips to get out of a rut.
Create a routine and/or to do list and stick to it. This one is especially helpful if you’re struggling to find purpose in your days or stick to healthy habits. I find it helpful to put pen to paper in my planner. I outline my intentions and everything I want to accomplish in a day. Identifying what I want to do and actually doing it helps me believe in myself and builds momentum to help me out of the rut. If you don’t know where to start, I recommend something as simple as a guided meditation or a morning walk/run/bike ride. I find that these activities allow ideas to pop into my head and give me clarity on the path forward.
.. Or don’t! Shake it up. This is helpful if the monotony of your routine is getting to you. Sometimes routine is freeing, sometimes it feels like a prison. If you’re feeling the latter: shake things up. When’s the last time you did something new for the first time? Get out there and do it! In a pandemic there might not seem like many opportunities to “get out there” but you could hike somewhere new, or sign up for a virtual class. It could even be as simple as picking up a different book genre and finding that you love it. While routine tends to bring me comfort and purpose, adding novelty to my days helps me feel like I’m “living life to the fullest”.
Connect with loved ones. Sometimes all it takes it talking it out. Tell someone how you feel. I recommend specifically choosing someone you relate to, whose advice you value or who makes a good hype man! If we’re still in the pandemic when you need this, ask a friend to have a socially distanced or virtual coffee date or happy hour. We’re meant to communicate and connect with others – a little bit can go a long way when you’re in a tough spot.
Treat yoself! Make today special. Pick up a nice bottle of wine, takeout from your favorite restaurant, whatever is a “treat” to you. Find a little reason to celebrate each week (maybe you checked off your to do list every day this week?). In my daily journaling I have a prompt: what am I doing to make today special? Often it’s little things like “a great workout” or “walking to get a Starbucks pumpkin cream cold brew”. Identifying those little opportunities in everyday life helps me have something to look forward to.
I’ve always been the hangry type, but breastfeeding seems to have amplified that, and having a newborn means I have little time to prepare snacks in-the-moment. If you’re like me, not prepping snacks in advance means you’re raiding the pantry for goldfish and cookies. In an effort to eat a little healthier than that, here are the healthy snacks I keep on hand:
Cut fruit + veggies: Simple and refreshing. I find it helpful to buy a lot of fruits and veggies and prep them all for the week during one of Stella’s naps. We usually have watermelon, strawberries, carrots and cucumbers washed and cut up in the fridge. Note that if they were not washed and cut previously, I’d be far less likely to grab them in a pinch.
Cheese sticks: I don’t like mozzarella, but I love colby jack. I buy cheese sticks for when I’m craving a salty snack but want real food rather than something out of the pantry.
Rice cakes with peanut butter + cinnamon: I love this as we’re heading into fall. Plain rice cakes topped with peanut butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Light but filling, and super quick to throw together.
Smoothies: when I have a few minutes (aka Stella has been fed recently and is asleep), I love to make smoothies. My favorite combo is frozen banana, almond butter, almond milk, and chocolate protein.
Energy balls: These need to be prepped in advance, but are super quick to make so I usually make them when I’m finished chopping fruits and veggies for the week. My go-to recipe here is:
1 cup almond butter
1 scoop chocolate protein powder
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbsp flax seeds
and lately.. I’ve been rolling them in sprinkles!
Yasso bars: I love the chocolate fudge flavor to get my dessert fix but without going gangbusters on calories.
I’m always looking for new ideas to throw into the mix! What are your go-to healthy snacks?