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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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Mental Health Awareness Week + Ways to Take Care of Your Own Mental Health

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!
  • Exercise. This is another one you knew would be on here, and if you don’t know where to start, might I suggest HIIT at Home, Get Strong at Home, or Virtual Personal Training?
  • 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?

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3 Reasons I Love To Work For My Beer

One of my favorite things about this city is the overwhelmingly popular beer fitness scene and all of the balanced living enthusiasts that come with it. That’s why when I heard about Work For Your Beer – Charlotte’s hub for all things beer fitness – I knew I had to get involved.  There are few (if any) things that I love more than a nice adult beverage after a workout! So what exactly is Work For Your Beer?

Work For Your Beer is the place to go if you’re looking for beer fitness classes. This site serves as a guide for pub run clubs, brewery yoga classes, bootcamps that end with beer, and more (there are even dance classes — Twerk For Your Beer, anyone?). Outside of the super-helpful calendar that provides details for more than 100 beer fitness events/week, they also post interesting content. The blog shares beer releases and reviews, Charlotte-specific events, and topics that balanced living enthusiasts would relate to (read one of my personal favorites here). PS – if this sounds like your thing, sign up for the weekly brewsletter–you won’t be disappointed!

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Like this shirt? Enter code: christine15 at checkout on the Work For Your Beer site for a discount!

So, why am I so obsessed with being a Work For Your Beer brand ambassador? Find my top 3 reasons below:

  1. The workout variety. So many workouts, so little time (and money!). I love that the beer fitness scene allows you to vary your workouts, commitment-free, for a small price tag. Many of the pub runs are free (you just buy your own beer afterward), and classes are around $5 (which sometimes includes a beer!). So, you get to experience lots of different trainers and exercise styles for much cheaper than a membership or drop-in fee at most boutique studios! The variety of options is great for someone who likes all different kinds of fitness.
  2. The craft beers. Beer fitness is a great excuse to try different craft beers! In Charlotte, there’s no shortage of brewery options. Within walking distance of my apartment, I can go to Legion Brewing, Resident Culture, Catawba, Pilot, and more. It would be easy to fall into a rut of going to the breweries closest to me – but the fitness events offered at other breweries get me out there, trying new things! I’ve since figured out that my fave Charlotte beers are Birdsong Jalapeno Pale Ale and Wooden Robot Good Morning Vietnam.
  3. The community of people. Beer fitness events provide a great way to get out and be social on weeknights. I love being able to connect with people who I already know share two of my biggest loves! And meeting new people is so important to me, being new in town. To all my fellow beer-and-fitness-loving Queen City residents: message me to meet up at a class together!

I’d love to hear your favorite beers, breweries, and beer fitness events (Charlotte or not) in the comments!

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Sweaty Sunday Workout

Sundays call for sweating! And due to the endless rain in Syracuse, I took my workout to the gym in my apartment complex.

This 45-minute circuit mixes cardio with total-body strength moves.  Each move listed has a tutorial below to help guide you. Give it a try and leave me your thoughts in the comments!

Sweaty Sunday (1)

Renegade Rows with Pushup

Bicep Curls

Shoulder Press

Single Leg Deadlifts

Alternating Front Rack Lunges

Suitcase-hold Squats