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Friday Five 3.12.21

It’s Friday.. one of my favorite days of the week! I’ll take it as an opportunity to share 5 things I’ve been loving lately.

1. Biker shorts with pockets

Biker shorts have been having a moment since last year, and I hope they’re here to stay for a bit! I’m loving the fit, prints, and pockets these have. I’ve taken them squatting and running with no complaints, and the price is RIGHT.

2. Long line bras

These are so cute to wear as a top and make such an easy outfit with biker shorts or leggings. I’m still team athleisure (will that ever change?) and these are perfect for looking put together while wearing athletic clothes. I don’t work out in them (though they’d work for yoga), but since they’re low support they fit better into my wardrobe as a “wear out and about” piece.

3. My barbell + bumper plates

Having a barbell and plates at home has been huge for elevating my workouts. Cleans, deadlifts, squats, snatches.. nothing was the same with dumbbells. I know a lot of places have been sold out but I found this barbell in stock recently and they were delivered super fast.

4. Date night in a box

I succumbed to an Instagram ad (ironic since it’s my day job to target people with fb and IG ads) and subscribed to this date night in a box. I started out trying it because I got a great deal, but have loved it and continued my subscription. It’s nice to have a thoughtful way to spend time together each month without me having to do the grunt work of planning and setup (which gets harder when you have children). I recommend it, especially for anyone else who’s far down on the vaccine list like us!

5. One piece with cutouts

I finally got a one piece, but only because the cutouts and color blocking are sooo cute. I am obsessed with this suit and can’t wait to wear it! Just hoping the tan lines aren’t toooo bad. PS – it’s super inexpensive!

Let me know if you give any of these things a try. Happy Friday!

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Friday Five 2.5.20

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!

2. Bridgerton

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!

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My At Home Infrared Sauna

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:

  • Burns calories
  • Improves circulation + heart health
  • Relaxation
  • Stress reduction
  • Improved workout recovery
  • Skin rejuvination
  • And so many more

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.

WHY INFRARED? You can read more about that here.

Where to sauna?

If buying an at-home sauna isn’t for you, but you want to experience the benefits, here are the places I’ve sauna-ed in different cities.
Syracuse: Saunacuse
Rochester: Lumos
Charlotte: Restore

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My Breastfeeding Must-Haves

ICYMI, I gave birth to my first child on July 29! In the land of all things newborn, some things have been easier than expected and some have been harder. Breastfeeding falls into the “harder” category, largely because it means feeding relies solely on the mother (for at least the beginning), it can be painful, and the scheduling aspect gets very time consuming. Since it’s World Breastfeeding Week, it’s as good a time as any to discuss my journey with feeding Stella so far.

Let’s back up: why did I choose breastfeeding in the first place?

Why I Chose To Breastfeed

A quick Google search will list so many benefits that you may think breastmilk is liquid gold and formula is poison. This is an extreme exaggeration, but among those who feel “breast is best” you may hear of a lot of benefits that aren’t actually valid. While pregnant, I read Cribsheet by Emily Oster. She’s an economist that evaluates available data and shares what studies are done well and have conclusive evidence (as well as why other studies and data sets aren’t as useful).

One section of Cribsheet breaks down breastfeeding vs. formula feeding. She shared that among the best data available, most breastfeeding claims are not true. There are a few additional benefits, namely lower GI issues and lower risk of infections/rashes for baby, and a pretty sizable reduction in breast cancer risk among moms, but these were among the few substantiated benefit claims. Breastfeeding does also burn calories, so if you are not eating those additional calories, it can help with weight loss.

I chose breastfeeding because it’s free, burns calories, and leads to less GI issues and infections for baby. Even though the number of benefits is small, I would take any leg up on health I could give my little girl. I also did not want to have to venture from my bedroom to the kitchen in the middle of the night every time she needs to be fed – I like the “convenience” of sitting up in bed and feeding her.

Is Breastfeeding More Convenient?

I believe that it is more convenient in some ways, though I haven’t tried formula feeding. It’s nice that I don’t need to make a bottle every time she wants to eat, which would mean heading to my kitchen when I’m home or packing lots of supplies while I’m out. I do feel that the “saved” time is easily taken up by her learning to latch (having some inefficient feedings) and by me setting up my “station”, since you’re pretty confined to wherever you’re seated when breastfeeding.

That said, I’ve found certain products at my “station” make breastfeeding a little more convenient. Scroll on to see what they are!

Stella + breastfeeding supplies

Breastfeeding Station Setup

Keeping these items close by has made breastfeeding a little easier.

  • Haakaa – this silicone breast pump catches milk from one side as you feed from the other. It has allowed me to catch and store milk for future bottle feedings without needing to pump, which is a godsend. If you know someone planning to breastfeed, this is truly one of the most valuable gifts you can get them! So simple and so effective.
  • Boppy – this pillow helps elevate baby to the right height and allows you to rest your arms as you feed. This is especially handy at night when I’m tired and feeding.
  • Yeti(s) – feeding makes me extremely thirsty. I keep this water bottle on me and love that the handle makes it easy to carry when I also have the baby in my hands. At night, I also keep a yeti tumblr with me at night so I have enough water to make it through.
  • Swaddle/burp cloth – feeding and burping can get a little messy. Milk gets everywhere, so I keep a swaddle handy to clean up any mess and use as a burp cloth.
  • Nipple ointment – the lactation consultant at the hospital recommended against the use of nipple ointments since they’re not regulated by the FDA, but my nipples could not handle it. I honestly don’t think I could’ve kept up with breastfeeding if the nipple pain continued as it had, but this ointment helped so much.
  • Kindle/remote – I keep my kindle and/or a remote nearby as something to do while feeding. It takes up a lot of hours every day, so entertainment is necessary.

In addition to this setup, there are a few other “hacks” I’ve implemented. I use a nursing bra (with nursing pads attached) and a button-up nursing nightgown for easier access. I’ve found this so convenient that I recently purchased a few non-nursing button up tanks and dresses to wear out and about!

At night, I also pack a cooler to bring to our room that includes a bottle, a bag, and the Haakaa. Each time I feed Stella, I catch some milk in the Haakaa, pour it into the bottle, then pack it in the cooler. The next time I feed, I empty the bottle into the bag and pour the next round of milk into the empty bottle. This is because you should not mix warm milk with refrigerated milk. It only takes an extra minute to each feeding and the amount of milk I pack away is worth it.

Overall, I still find breastfeeding to be a positive experience and as of now, the benefits still outweigh the inconveniences. That said, I am looking forward to the day where my husband can use that stored milk to feed her with a bottle and it can be more of a shared responsibility/experience.

How has breastfeeding worked for you? What are your must-have products?

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An Update On My Fitness Journey

Over the past few months, I’ve made some changes as far as my fitness goes. I’ve tried so many new things that it’s been a lot to follow. This post is a documentation of what I tried, why I tried it, and where I am now!

When I lived in Syracuse, I didn’t venture outside of my fitness bubble much. As soon as I set foot in Urban Life in July of 2014, I didn’t try much else. There were a few reasons for this:

  1. I LOVED going there every day–the coaches and members were like family to me and I never wanted to miss a workout there! (I could honestly say a million amazing things about my time there and all that it brought me as far as personal growth, connections, knowledge, and athleticism, but that could be its own post.)
  2. I was suuuper into CrossFit and wanted to be good at it, and trying non-CrossFit classes didn’t seem to align with that goal.
  3. There weren’t a ton of options in Syracuse. Sure, there are gyms, but the city is not exactly a hotbed for innovative fitness companies.

When I got to Charlotte in July 2018, all of these things kinda went out the window. I was entering a transition period where I wanted to try new things, and that trickled into my fitness journey. I was questioning if CrossFit was still the best thing for me (even though I was really enjoying my membership at CrossFit Dilworth). I was presented with a LOT more opportunities for fitness classes, and I was seeking new connections. All of this lead to the perfect storm of me branching out and trying new things with my fitness.

In October 2018, I decided to take a break from CrossFit and try a Mind Pump program, so I got a YMCA membership and purchased MAPS Strong, a 3-month lifting program. I quickly realized that I missed the energy of group classes, but I stuck it out for the full 3 months for the sake of finishing out my investment and building my metabolism. The program had fun, interesting and effective lists, and I learned a lot by doing it, but going to a gym and just lifting is not for me.

When it was over, I decided I wanted to get back into group exercise and try a variety of fitness classes. So many gyms offer a free trial (one day, a week, X number of classes) or a deeply discounted first month. I’ll save my in-depth analysis of each class/gym for another day, but I tried:


I had a great experience at each gym I tried, but I missed having a home base. I don’t love the feeling of not having a gym membership. I like to have a plan in place as far as my workouts go, and just bouncing around didn’t feel quite right to me, so I started thinking about what gym I wanted to spend most of my time at so I could get a membership again.

As soon as I dropped into a CrossFit gym I knew I was ready to come back. Doing CrossFit makes me feel like an athlete. The movements require a lot of skill, the environment is high energy and competitive, and the Open was calling my name.

So as of February 2019, I am participating in the CrossFit open and back to being a member at CrossFit Dilworth! I plan on doing CrossFit at least 4x/week, but I also plan to continue trying other fitness classes. I really enjoyed Yoga One, F45 and Crown Town Athletics so I will continue dropping in at each of those from time to time. I also plan on trying:

When’s the last time you tried something new with your fitness? And if you’re in CLT, tell me: what else should I have on this list to try?

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Finding the Motivation to Run

I hear from a lot of people who get into ruts with their fitness. Some days it’s much harder to get out the door than others. We’ve all been there! The good news is, there are ways to break that rut and get your motivation back.


  1. Sign up for a race. Like the saying goes, put your money where your mouth is! Having a goal in place (that you paid to participate in) serves as a great motivator. It’s also pretty painful and discouraging to race without proper training, so setting your eyes on the goal will help get you moving. And pro tip: try signing up for a race that donates to charity. Pick a cause that’s close to your heart and think of the people you’re running and fundraising for! You’ll feel good from the combo of sweat and positive karma.
  2. Run for time rather than distance. Sometimes the mileage looks daunting. Change it up and run for time instead! Tell yourself you can turn around at the 15-minute point and you’ve got yourself a 30-minute run.
  3. Enlist a buddy. Why does hanging out with friends have to center on food and/or drinking? Instead of going out to dinner, ask your friend to meet you for a few miles. Chatting with a friend makes the miles pass quicker and setting a meeting time holds you accountable. Bonus: your running friends are actually interested in hearing you talk about running (which can’t be said for the rest of the world).
  4. Go for a pub run. Is there anything more motivating than knowing there’s a beer waiting for you at the end of your sweat sesh? I feel like society has hit a point where going to the bar red-faced and sweaty in your gym clothes is now socially acceptable (no? just me?). That said, it’s also a great way to try new places and new running loops. For my Syracuse readers: a local bar, Kitty Hoyne’s, hosts great pub runs on Wednesday’s!
  5. Find a new podcast you love. Music is great, but a podcast can really take you away! You can listen for entertainment or learn something new.

How do you get motivated? What’s the “why” behind your run?

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Morning Workout + Breakfast Recipe

Starting my mornings on the right foot sets the tone for my whole day, meaning I almost always wake up to a killer workout and healthy breakfast. The following workout can be done at home without equipment, and the breakfast recipe can be thrown together in 2 minutes then refrigerated the night before. So you can roll out of bed and right into this – what excuse could talk you out of that simplicity?


*skater jumps:

*jack and jill sit-ups: lay down with left leg raised, toes to the ceiling, and right leg hovering straight out parallel to the ground. Touch left toe 25 times then reach for right foot 25 times (small movement, like doing crunches). Switch legs and repeat.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Overnight Oats

Are you a morning person? What’s your breakfast of choice?

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Success Beyond the Scale

How do you track fitness and measure progress? The easy (and often discouraging) answer is the scale. Most people have one in their bathroom and can weigh themselves daily without much time or effort. Maybe this works for you – and there’s nothing wrong with that. But I know a lot of people that it doesn’t work for, which is why I’m diving into ways to measure progress beyond the scale.

I like to think that your health and fitness are more than just a number. I’m also someone who can see dramatic fluctuations over the course of a day depending on how dehydrated I am or if I ate something I’m sensitive to, so I know that I can’t trust a scale to be my end-all-be-all. Take for example that I weigh the same today as I did 4 years ago in college when I was only running. Today I can dramatically outlift my 21-year-old self. I can outrun her in distance and speed. I have noticeably more muscle. But if I was looking at the scale, it would look like I’ve spent the last 4 years in the same place. So what are some other ways to see progress and know you’re getting fitter and healthier?


  1. Take progress pictures. Open up instagram and search any fitness hashtag – you’re guaranteed to see a plethora of before and after pictures. How motivating would it be to have some of your own? You don’t have to post them for the world to see (unless you want to, in which case, go you!) but they can be a powerful tool to keep you motivated and ensure you’re on the right track.
  2. Time yourself doing the same workout once a month. This will work for class-style workouts like spinning, crossfit, HIIT, orangetheory, etc. It’ll also work for running if you pick the same route each time. You might not see progress each and every month (we all have bad days) – but overall you should see your times getting faster. You may also notice yourself bouncing back from the workout quicker or getting less sore. If not, it may be time to look at your eating and sleeping habits or evaluate how hard you’re really pushing yourself.
  3. Start a lift cycle. Test for your 1 rep max for a certain lift (back squat, deadlift and bench press are all good places to start). Then start a cycle to get stronger at that lift, working on it for a few weeks (depending on which cycle you choose) and retest for a new 1 rep max at the end of the cycle. Again, if you don’t see progress with a routine like this, it may be time to look at your eating and sleeping habits.
  4. Check how your clothes are fitting. Tighter in some spots and loose in others? Could be a sign that your workout is working (or not working) for you.
  5. Track your motivation and energy levels. How do you feel? This can seem more arbitrary, but if you journal your energy level and feelings toward your workout, you can see progress this way as well. Higher energy levels and getting to the gym without struggle? You’re making progress.

This list is a simple compilation for the average gym-goer. Of course, there are more invasive/expensive/complicated measures for fitness like VO2 max, body fat percentage testing, etc. I’ve never tried any of them but I’d like to one day. For now, I’m going to continue enjoying the journey and keeping an eye on where I’m at my own way. If you’ve tried anything you really loved, comment below!

How do you track fitness and measure progress? What milestones have you celebrated along your journey?