fitness

Where Have We Been?

Hello friends! It seems like it's been a long time since I was last on this space, sharing our go-to stores for cute workout wear. How have you been? I hope June is treating you well. This post is going to be kind of a mish-mash of things. Part studio update, part life update, part cool things we think you should know about. So, here goes...

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Come walk with us! We're starting a weekly walking group and our first walk will be this Tuesday, June 26th at 9:15am at Wright Park, at the corner of 6th Ave and South G Street in Tacoma. If you're in the area, come join us! And bring your health and fitness-related questions. A personal trainer (or two) will be leading the walk and it's a great opportunity to get your burning exercise questions answered. It's completely FREE and You can find details on our Facebook page here

We're jumping in to YouTube! Nikki and I are a good working team in that very often the things I'm not good at, she is. And the tasks that she hates doing, I actually enjoy. But one way in which we are the same is that we both struggle with being on camera. Unfortunately, exercise kind of requires a visual. It's much more difficult to write out how to do a plank than it is to show someone how to do a plank, for example. So, we're ordering vlogging equipment and will be wading into the wild world of YouTube very soon. Wish us luck on that!

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Speaking of YouTube, I saw this video recently and loved it. There are so many great things about summer, aren't there? But it also brings with it renewed opportunities to be critical about our bodies and to compare ourselves to the curated images we see on social media. But let's not. Let's be kind to ourselves. Let's dress the way we want. Let's show ourselves the same grace we show others. Let's take full advantage of everything we love about this season. Let's be creative with solutions to the things that make us uncomfortable in summer, physically or emotionally. That's what this video is all about.

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Badminton is making a comeback at the studio. Nikki is always trying to think of ways to make workouts a little bit less like work and more like play, and badminton is just one of the new things we've got going on. I remember playing this game for hours in the backyard with my brother. It was so much fun! And I'm telling you, people play this game in the studio and they look like kids again. It's so much fun to watch. I'm tempted to buy a new set for myself...

Dry lips? You might need a lip sleeping mask, like this one from Laneige. It might sound ridiculous to buy a mask for your lips, but I struggle all year round with my lips drying out at night. It's especially bad when the weather is cold and dry outside. But it's also a problem when it's hot outside and I've got the air conditioning going inside, drying out the air. This stuff smells like bubble gum and a little goes a long way. So even though it's kind of pricey, it will last you a while. 

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Any of you as clueless as I am about applying eye makeup? No one ever really showed me how to do it, so I mostly just avoided it most of my life. But, I discovered Kate at The Small Things blog earlier this year and have been devouring her tutorials on everything makeup and hair. One of my faves is this one on the basics of applying eyeliner. But they're all great! She's got loads of videos on YouTube as well, so check her out for all the things you wish you'd had a big sister to teach you about being beautiful.

Game-changing sauces. I've been throwing this delicious sweet chili and garlic sauce on almost everything lately. I started with edamame, as the recipe suggests. But, really, it's good on vegetables, rice, you name it.  It would probably be good on meat too, if I ate meat. As simple as the recipe is, I've made it even simpler. I literally only use garlic and the sweet chili sauce. And I buy the already minced garlic, so it's just a matter of sautéing that for a minute, adding in a couple of tablespoons of the chili sauce and heating it up for a minute. Done.

As always, thanks for reading the blog even when we go AWOL for a month. Always feel free to post in the Comments below if there are topics you'd like us to tackle, exercise or otherwise. Take care and we'll see you again here soon!

5 Moments I Loved From Today's Workout

In an effort to take the advice I'd give to a client, I'm trying to focus on what I love about my workouts. And it's not always easy...

Sometimes it's hard because I want to see different results than I'm seeing, or I want to see them faster. Sometimes it's hard because I'm in a bad mood, or I'm tired, or I'm distracted by something else I need to do that feels more important than squats, and biceps curls and planks. Sometimes it's hard because my muscles are sore from the day before, or because my knees are hurting more than usual. Sometimes it's hard because I'm doing a workout that's actually, objectively, more difficult than the one I did the day before. 

Because I know that the words we say to ourselves matter--that the things we focus on expand--I'm making a concerted effort to notice the moments during my workouts that are good. Some of them are physical, others mental/emotional. But here are five moments I loved today.

I listened to a beautiful version of the song, Riptide, during my cool-down. (You can watch the video here, if you're interested.) There's nothing like finding a new song to love, or in this case, a new version of a song I already knew. 

The house was quiet. Sometimes I crave silence. Probably because I so rarely ever get it at home anymore. Being awake while it was still dark outside and the house slept, felt like such a gift today. Soon enough other people were up and moving around and saying words :-)

Finally, finally, something felt easier. I've been doing this series of abdominal exercises over the last few weeks, and there's one exercise in particular that's just been...I don't know...it just has felt difficult and like I wasn't quite strong enough to do it correctly. It just felt off. Anyway, today I noticed that while it was still challenging, I could finally feel my muscles engaging and doing the work.

My wobbly legs. Don't know why, but I love it when I finish a workout and my legs are kind of shaky. I got that today and relished that feeling as well as the feeling of stretching them out at the end of the session.

I had a much-needed moment of clarity. Exercise is one of the things I do to stay emotionally balanced, and to work out frustration or anger or fear about things that are going on in my life. While I was on the treadmill for the cardio portion of my workout today, I had a breakthrough in my thinking about a problem I've been having with one of my freelance clients. Not that I solved it, but there was a shift in the way I've been thinking about it that helped me to let go of some anxiety I've been carrying around. 

If you've never done it, I would highly recommend spending some time thinking about what you're grateful to your workouts for. Maybe it's not five things. Some days maybe you struggle to find one thing, while other days you could list ten. But the exercise of shifting your attention from what's uncomfortable or difficult about it, to what it gives you that's valuable, makes such a huge difference. 

April Awesomeness

Every month we try to collect the things that are making our lives easier, better, funnier, healthier, etc., and share them with you in this space. Here's what we've come across this month. Hope you enjoy!

This Inhale-Exhale Tank from Not by Sight Co. Because sometimes we just need to wear a reminder to breathe. 

These colorful leggings from Zella. They come in several colors and a wide range of sizes. Love the green ones!

SNL Leggings Sketch. I do actually workout in leggings, but I also sometimes eat tortilla chips in them. It's about balance, people.

Chocolate Fudge Avocado Cake. Nikki made this cake recently and raved about it. She found it in the Costco magazine, I believe...

Jergen's Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer. Okay, so I am really pale. Like translucent. And sometimes I want a little color on my legs, especially on days when I'm wearing cropped workout leggings. Which is pretty much every day, if I'm honest. This stuff isn't like tan-in-a-can though. It's subtler and more forgiving than that. After a few days of using it, I ended up with a really nice, natural looking, light bronzing to my skin. And it smells good too.

Aveeno's Positively Radiant 60-Second In-Shower Facial. I LOVE this stuff! My skin looks brighter on days when I use it, I swear. 

My favorite hairspray of all time. It holds well, but doesn't make your hair stiff and helmet-like. And it smells amazing. I never pay full price for it though. It goes on sale fairly often, so I stock-up then. 

I always forget about how good Neutrogena's lip products are. There's this color stick, which I have in Sweet Watermelon. It's a nice color and feels moisturizing. Kind of like a lip balm consistency with the color payoff of a lipstick. And then there's their Revitalizing Lip Balms. I have mine in Petal Glow. I've been using both of these a lot lately and wondering why I don't use them more.

The book, Start With Why, by Simon Sinek. A great read for any entrepreneurs out there. 

Okay, that's what we're loving this month! Feel free to share any of your current recommendations in the comments below. Happy Monday, all!

Secrets to Making Midday Workouts Work

When I was working my full-time office job, I had good intentions when it came to exercise. Each night I would set my alarm for 5am, which would give me plenty of time to fit in a workout. And then my alarm would go off at 5am and I'd think, "I will feel much more like exercising after work than I do now." Snooze button hit.

But the thing was that I never felt like working out after work. I was exhausted by the time I got home. So, I'd give myself a pass--skipping one day won't hurt--and make big plans to go to bed early that night. That way, when my alarm went off at 5am the following day, I would bounce out of bed and into my workout clothes. 

And....that never happened. What I ultimately ended up doing was fitting my exercise in during my breaks at work. But that provided its own set of challenges--namely how to get myself looking, smelling and feeling presentable for the part of my work day that took place after my workout. 

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One part of the solution was to have the right products available to me at work. I kept a pair of workout shoes and a set of workout clothes in my office, so that I didn't have to remember to bring them with me in the morning when I was rushing out of the house to get to work. I also kept a bag with some post-workout refresh essentials, including:

Deodorant Wipes. I love these ones from Pacifica, but I'm sure other brands sell them too. 

Dry Shampoo. This was a lifesaver when I had a more intense workout and my hair ended up a little sweaty or windblown or whatever. Dry shampoos just soak up that moisture at the roots of your hair, and refresh the scent a bit. My favorite is this one from DryBar, but it's expensive. I also really like Batiste brand, and Hask makes a good one. Both of those are a little less expensive. 

A Washcloth, Hand Towel, and Travel-Size Body Spray. This is basically a makeshift bath kit. 

Travel-Size Facial Spray. I love this one from Mario Badescu. It's inexpensive and it smells like one of those high-end day spas. I'd just spray a little mist of this on my face to refresh my makeup after a workout. It was rare that I exercised hard enough that I had to reapply my makeup. But a little of this was so refreshing and kept my skin looking hydrated and alive. 

Travel-Size Powder and Blush. If my face was looking a little worse for wear after a workout, I found that all I needed was a little pressed powder and some blush to look like myself again. I would buy the travel-size versions and keep them in my bag. 

Make--Up Removing Wipes. I love these ones from Aveeno. These were great if I needed a bit more of a refresh than a mist of facial spray could give me.

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The second part of the solution was how I went about my midday workouts.

Let's say I wanted to get 30-minutes of exercise in each day. And let's say I couldn't, or didn't want, to do that all in one session. I would do 10-minute walks, three times a day--one during my morning break, one during my lunch break, and one during my afternoon break. There isn't a rule that you have to get all of your exercise in one long workout. Break it up as much as you need to, either for logistical reasons or because that's all you can take at one time.

On days when the weather prevented walks from being feasible, or on days when I just wanted to do something different, my phone was my friend. I was lucky enough to have my own private office with a door, so I could close it and do some YouTube yoga, or strength training exercise in there. I kept some resistance bands, a yoga mat and some weights in my office for that reason. If you don't have your own office, maybe there are other solutions. Are you allowed to reserve meeting rooms over the noon hour where you work? Could you do that once or twice a week?

Are there other people in your office who would like to work out with you? There are personal trainers who will come to you and lead a session. If you got a couple of friends together you could split the cost and have a workout with a trainer, without having to spend any of your limited break time driving to a gym. 

I hope some of these tips are helpful to you as you try to fit exercise into your day! If any of you have found things that work particularly well in making midday exercise work, please share below. 

 

Stuff You Might Have Missed

 Good morning, friends! Here are some things I found on the internet this month that I thought were worth sharing.       

This article from The Cut. I had never heard the term "cringe-attack" before I read this, but I instantly knew what it meant. Let's have a little self-indifference, shall we?

This 3-ingredient, healthy, Peanut Butter Dip, from Listed & Loved. I have dipped fruit in it, but you could also just cut out the middleman and eat it with a spoon. That's easier. 

Am I the only person in the world who had never heard of The Mandela Effect until a couple of weeks ago? Apparently this is a thing.  

Get outside, everyone. Green exercise is here.

Target will sell you a candle that smells like cotton candy. So...yeah, that's happening at my house. 

The human body is an amazing thing. This we know. Here's what happens to it while you exercise. This I didn't know.

Moroccan Oil is saving my hair this winter. The tiniest bit raked through the ends of my hair after I dry it and straighten it, makes it so soft. 

How to Heal the Roof of Your Mouth After You've Burned It. Been there. Done that.

Want to find a workout you love, but don't know how? Try using this checklist to help you figure it out.

Awesome Workout Thingy

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Happy 2018 everyone! Hope you had a lovely holiday and that you're looking forward to what the new year will bring. I don't know how embarrassed I should be that I used the word, thingy, in the title of a blog post. I'm not even sure it's an actual word. Ugh. I really do love the English language, I swear. But as I write this, I am feeling a bit creatively deficient :-) Hence a blog post with made-up words in the title.

Anyway, here's one of those shorter posts I promised back in December. These things from Miracle Method are my new favorite piece of workout "equipment." I used them in a Pilates workshop I attended last month. When I saw them I thought, "what can these little things possibly do?" But, oh my goodness, they are amazing! You place them beneath whatever part of your body is tense or painful--shoulders, hips, back, elbows, knees, head (if you're like me, some days it's all of those things!)--and then by resting on them, rotating on them or rolling on them in strategic ways, it releases those points of tension and pain. I noticed instant relief the first time I used them, but by using them regularly I'm noticing even better results. For less than $20 I feel like they're well worth the investment.

I've been using them in a couple of ways. When I have lots of time for my workouts, I will use them for about 15-minutes before I start exercising. Then I spend 5-minutes doing some joint mobilizations. And then I do my 30-minute (ish) workout. That happens a few times a week.

But I also find myself using them in the evenings while I'm watching television or listening to a podcast. It's kind of a nice way to end the day, and I'm not on so much of a time-crunch as I am when I use them before workouts.

Have any of you tried these? What did you think of them? Let me know in the Comments below!

 

That Time I Went All Weak in the Knees

There are things my body is really good at and things it's really bad at. For example, my body is really good at gaining weight. On the flip side, it's also really good at building muscle. My body gave me clear skin as a teenager, but also crooked teeth and frizzy hair. I'm a terrible dancer, but I can spell backwards. It's a mixed bag, being in my body. That's really what I'm trying to say. Knees 1

A little over a year ago now, I injured my right knee badly during a workout. It took a long time to recover, and landed me in physical therapy for 12 weeks. Working my way back from that injury was frustrating and painful and slow.

But what I didn't anticipate at the beginning of that journey was the fear I would experience after my knee was medically, officially healed and I was cleared to go back to my regular activities.

When I was laid up, all I wanted was to be able to move again. But when that permission came, I found that I was terrified of injuring it again. Really, really scared. Scared of the pain, for sure. But more than that; I was scared of not being in control of my body. Of not being able to move. Of not being able to do my job effectively anymore.

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I lost confidence in my ability to predict how my body would perform--of how it would react to the demands I placed upon it. I thought if I made one false move. If I lunged or squatted the wrong way, snap would go my ligament.

That fear was paralyzing. It made the prospect of working out again something that filled me with dread. But when I would think about not exercising, that would scare me too. Because I knew that if I stopped moving, the pain would come back, the muscles supporting my knees would weaken and I would be much more likely to injure it again.

I was stuck between a rock and a hard place, as the saying goes. Not fun.

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Have any of you ever experienced this? Maybe you experienced an injury similar to mine. Or maybe you gained weight and then felt uncomfortable or insecure in your body. Or maybe you got the message early and often that you weren't sporty or coordinated, so you've never been confident with anything physical. Maybe you think that you don't know what you're doing and as a result you're either going to hurt yourself or embarrass yourself.

I think exercise is often as much about working through mental limitations as it is physical ones. It's as much about pushing past that voice in your head that's telling you all of the reasons why you shouldn't, or cataloging all of the things that could go wrong. as it is about getting your biceps to curl a heavy dumbbell up to your shoulder. Whether what's holding you back is the fear of physical pain and injury, or the fear of failing, or the fear of people judging you or laughing at you; it doesn't really matter.

So where to go from here? How do we move from that feeling of damned if we exercise, damned if we don't?

I can and will tell you what I did. But I don't want to make it sound like it was some miracle cure and now I'm fixed. I'm not. There are days when I'm still overly cautious with my body. There are still exercises I won't do; classes I'm reluctant to take. There are still moments when I feel a twinge in my knee and am scared it's going to give out. I still sometimes lack confidence in my ability to distinguish what's become a normal level of discomfort in my knees and what's a sign that something is wrong. There are still days when I'm so frustrated that I work so hard and yet my knees sometimes still feel so weak. It's a work in progress for sure.

Here's what helps me.

I got expert advice and I follow it. Because my injury was so bad, I had physical therapy. Those therapists gave me exercises to do every day and I still do them, nearly a year after my last PT appointment. They also told me the warning signs to watch for--things that were flashing red lights to stop what I was doing before I hurt myself. They gave me a list of exercises to avoid. And told me how much pain was okay to work through and how much was too much. I wrote it down and I stick to it.

I take time to take it easy. I never used to spend much time on stretching or mobilization exercises. Now, two of my workout days are active recovery days where I do stretching and "pre-hab" routines.

I learned which muscles needed to be stronger to support my knees. In my case, that's my hamstrings and the muscles of my quadriceps. I make sure I do safe exercises that strengthen those muscles several times each week.

I write down what my fears are, and I get specific. Sometimes naming a fear takes some of the fear out of it. Then I refute it, or I decide how I'm going to address it.

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Even if your fear isn't driven by an injury, some of these strategies can still work. Maybe working with a personal trainer would help your confidence because you'd get some expert advice on how to do exercises correctly and safely. Or maybe going to the gym or a class with a friend would take some of the anxiety out of the experience for you.

I don't know that I'm someone who necessarily thinks everything happens for a reason. But I do know that my injury humbled me in ways that were probably good for me as a trainer. I've said before on this blog that I struggled with my weight and with feeling uncomfortable in my body for many years in my teens and twenties. So, before this experience I don't think I would have said that I was unaware of what it was like to feel that way.

But I do think that sometimes I probably forgot just a little. I think that sometimes those feelings weren't as accessible to me as they might have been because I found myself so far on the other end of the fitness spectrum in my thirties.

This injury, while mostly healed, will have lingering effects. There will always be occasional pain. There will always be exercises I don't do. There will always be modifications I need to make and days when frustration and fear override confidence and ambition. And I've gotten to a place where I think that's okay.

Because it means I always have one foot in both worlds. I'm firmly planted in my personal trainer world--in a world where I love moving and challenging my body. But I'm also never far away from that other place. That place of physical pain; that place where your body isn't a predictable, known quantity; that place where moving is a loaded emotional and physical proposition.

If you find yourself there too, you are definitely not alone. And you should give yourself a pat on the back for feeling that way and working through it to do great things for your body and your health.

June-in-Review