Thursday, February 26, 2015

How to get through the "real" workout. #pinspirationthursday

If you've been following A Daily Dose of Fit for awhile, you know that I like to share motivational images on Thursdays. I've been calling it #pinspirationthursday, and I want you to join me. If you like to share motivational images on your website or blog, do it on Thursday and add your link to the bottom of my post. 

When I train my clients, there are a number of things I have to be responsible for. One such thing: Coaching them through those last few repetitions. Getting them to believe in themselves when they're at what they perceive to be the point of no return—the point where they want to just stop. That point, though, is often right at the most real part of their workout. The part that counts the most.

So how do I get them through it? Also, how do I get myself through it when I'm working out? There are some tricks of the trade, and some things to consider. Because as you know, it's not always smart to push it when you feel like stopping. But how do you know when to stop?

Let's discuss that first.

Don't push through your workout if:
1) You are pregnant.
2) You are injured and/or recovering from an injury.
3) Your doctor tells you not to.
4) You feel sharp pains.
5) You are nauseous, dizzy and/or lightheaded.
6) You can no longer maintain proper form.

Safety is always more important than making fitness gains. And you must always listen to your body and your physician if either one of the two are telling you not to push. But, if you're an everyday Joe or Jane without restrictions, there are ways you can get through the "real" part of your workout. In no particular order:

1) Remind yourself why.
Never lose sight of why you're exercising. Focus on the benefits, your goals and the fact that every last repetition gets you one step closer to them.

2) Lighten up your weight.
Don't get caught up on the numbers. Focus on your muscles. If you can't finish your set with whatever weight you're using, lighten them up and take your muscles to the very last repetition. Or, drop the weights completely and go through the motions. There's no shame in working hard, and you are not defined by the number on your weights.

3) Modify the exercise.
Modifications exist not to make things easier, but to make them safer. Use them. They're not for wimps—they're for people who want to keep going when they're faced with a workable obstacle.

4) Listen to the voices.
Whether it's a group fitness instructor, your trainer or your friend—tune in to what is being said. Listen to the words, not just the sound. Embrace the meaning behind them and let them guide you forward. Because when I say "you can do it" to my students/clients, I really believe it. And so should they.

5) Believe in yourself.
Put yourself down and you'll stay down. Lift yourself up and you'll go up. You are your biggest cheerleader. So never stop cheering for yourself.

6) Focus on the work.
Forget about the struggle. Forget about the sweat. Just focus on the exercise. Focus on moving the weights, flexing your muscles, breathing in and out. Focus on the work, and you'll find a way to DO the work.

Remember, everyone approaches their workouts differently, but what we all can agree on is this: You can't stop when it gets tough. If it were easy, it wouldn't be work. And we couldn't call it a workout.

How to link up with me on Pinspiration Thursday:
1) Use #pinspirationthursday in your post title and on your social media outlets. 
2) Use the Pinspiration Thursday image in your post (if you want to). 
3) Link to my blog (please and thank you!) so we can attract new participants. 
4) Add your link below, check out the others and followpinsharerepeat!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Affordable Workout Clothes from H&M #fitfashion

I am THE WORST when it comes buying fitness gear. Affordable workout clothes get me almost every single time. Target, TJ Maxx and Kohl's are all in the same shopping complex, and whenever I head that way, I get the look from my husband. It's not like he babysits my spending habits, he just knows I have no willpower. And no need for new fitgear.

But, #workclothes.

So when I got this in the mail, I just knew that bad things were going to happen:

fitness gear, fitness fashion, HM, catalog, sport collection, fitgear
I have always been a huge fan of H&M. Whenever I go into Chicago, I do what I can to pit-stop for some shopping. My new winter coat is from H&M, as is my favorite denim shirt. And now they have affordable workout clothes? Mind blown.

Mind especially blown when I saw this outfit:

fitness gear, fitness fashion, HM, catalog, sport collection, fitgear, yoga outfit
I am loving the open-back tank top trend. They're all so incredibly cute—and functional. I tend to sweat when I exercise, especially when I teach PiYo Live, but I don't exactly work in a gym that would welcome the bra-only approach to fitness fashion. Nor would I really feel comfortable teaching in just a bra. So the backless workout tank seems to be a happy medium.

Obviously I ordered the outfit above.

And I was pleasantly surprised when it arrived.
It's every bit as cute in person, and the quality is top-notch.

fitness gear, fitness fashion, HM, catalog, sport collection, fitgear, yoga top
I'm always hesitant to order fitness tights online because I am extremely picky. If I can see through them at all when I bend over, they go right back on the rack. When you're at the front of a class, you can't have that happening. And when you order online, you just never know.

So I wasn't sure. But again, I was pleasantly surprised.

The pants are perfection.

fitness gear, fitness fashion, HM, catalog, sport collection, fitgear, yoga outfit
Add caption
And the top is great, too.
It fits perfectly with plenty of support, and I love the contrasting colors and crossback details:

fitness gear, fitness fashion, HM, catalog, sport collection, fitgear, yoga top
Plus, $60 for the whole outfit? I know, right. Sweet score.
I'm already planning my next purchase. Or at least making my wish list.

One thing that's been on my wish list for quite some time now: Crow pose. And guess what:

fitness gear, fitness fashion, HM, catalog, sport collection, fitgear, yoga, crow pose, bakasana
I have no idea where this came from, but I am finally able to get up and hold it. Make note: Without falling flat on my face.

I think it's all the PiYo Live.

Question: What does your favorite workout outfit look like? I need details!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

#linklove: Good Reads from Around the Internet, Vol. 3

Here I sit, in the depths of my basement, Simply Saline and Kleenex in hand because that's how this day has gone for me. I'm sick. My sinuses are jam-packed. I need medicine and I can't take it because—breastfeeding. And when my head hits the pillow it seems to intensify things.

I'm pretty sure I picked this one up from my littles. They had bronchitis, ear infections, Hannah actually puked at the doctor's office (lovely)...I mean, I adore them, but I can't even tell you how many times I've been sneezed on over the course of this past week. I wanted to run today, was up for six miles, but that didn't happen. Maybe tomorrow? We'll see.

Maybe I'll just stay inside and catch up on some reading.

1) When Hannah was born, I did everything "right." I read the books, did the research, dreamed the dreams and bought the clothes. I did all of that right up until Evan was born. I love him equally, my heart just bursts, but I think all moms of more than one child can agree—there is so much to learn from your second child!

2) I made my own pasta sauce the other night using a recipe from a recent issue of Parents. It was good, and now I'm totally obsessed with making my own pasta sauce. I think I'll try this hearty vegetable pasta sauce next.

3) In an effort to get in touch with my sugar intake, I'm quietly observing all that I eat. I've noticed that I need to tame evening food cravings.

4) I teach a weekly Spinning class. I get a lot of regulars, but that doesn't mean they ride perfectly. So I'm constantly talking about form and other tips to help them get the most out of their ride. Behold, these top six Spin class mistakes (all of which I agree with completely)

Want more information about Spinning? 
• Spinning During Pregnancy: How to Ride Safely when You are Expecting
8 Tips for Taking Your First #Spinning Class
A Spinning Certification Review

5) Speaking of getting in touch with my sugar intake, I'm gonna memorize these 7 tips to reduce sugar intake.

6) I love squats. We've been doing a lot of squat variations in my Barre Fit class, and I recently introduced a new section in PiYo Live that calls upon curtsy squats. Seriously, there are so many ways to squat.

7) People have their opinions about juice cleanses, and I get asked about them frequently. Honestly, I'm not a fan—but I respect your opinion if you are. Nonetheless, you should know what a juice cleanse does to your body.

8) I think Snickerdoodles (I know, I just talked about reducing my sugar intake) are one of my favorite cookies. So naturally, I'm gravitating toward this Snickerdoodle apple bread.

9) I love traveling. Airports make me happy in that gonna-have-fun-soon type of way. They also make me really mad sometimes, so I appreciate these airport hacks and will implement many of them on a vacation this Spring.

10) You should see my house right now. #disaster (I'm not even joking.) I used to be so organized, but lately, I feel like I'm excelling at disorganization. So I'm going to be the most organized person in the world, starting now.

Question: What are your thoughts on juice cleanses?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

How and why I'm creating healthy habits. (#pinspirationthursday)

If you are religious, you might be observing Lent right now with a sacrifice that honors Jesus and the 40 days he spent in the desert. If religion and/or Lent isn't your thing, perhaps you're observing that time between Fat Tuesday and Easter during which it's commonplace to give something up as a personal test of sorts.

I come from a Catholic family, so the religious aspect of this time on the calendar has always played a role in my choice to give something up. Something that would test me. Usually chocolate and sweets. But this year, I'm not giving anything up. I will, however, be testing myself: I'm choosing to make it about creating healthy habits, not about restricting myself.

Eliminating chocolate and sweets from my diet for 40 days is something I've always had success with in the past. I did it because I love the two and couldn't (well, still can't) imagine life without them. It was hard. Seriously, a giant test because I could eat chocolate and sweets all day. And when Easter arrived and I could have them again, I them all day. And what did I learn? That I could stop eating chocolate and sweets for 40 days.  

But that's not really a valuable lesson.

I didn't really teach myself anything other than the fact that I could find success with restriction if I really wanted to. But is restriction good and/or necessary? Not always.

So again, this year it's about creating healthy habits.
And this is what I'll be focusing on:

1) Balancing my intake of chocolate and sweets—and sugar.
Because I probably, really seriously don't need a cookie after lunch and a piece of chocolate after dinner. And I probably, really seriously don't need to be buying so much of it all at the store. But, there's a time and place for chocolate and sweets in my diet. And it's not truly realistic of me to eliminate all sources of sugar. But I can choose better. And I can be OK with wanting the cookie and the chocolate on occasion.

2) Recognizing unnecessary use of my iPhone.
I am, as my husband would say, "completely glued to my iPhone." It's bad. I have a habit of using it when I'm bored instead of striking up a conversation or picking up a book. I pull it out while I'm riding in the car, when I'm eating lunch...I mean, it's out of control. To the point where I literally get sick of my phone but can't put it down. Because, social media. What if I miss something? Never mind that I'm missing the life that's happening everywhere else around me.

Pin / Source
So I'm trying to be more aware of my iPhone and when, how and why I'm using it.

3) Eliminating the need to do everything all at once.
I have this Type A problem. I need everything to be in order. Whether that's at my job, at home or right here with the's a constant battle, one that I'm always accepting. Do, go, and be. Get it done. Don't leave it astray. That, of course, has been my mentality. But it's driving me bonkers and I'm trying really hard to slow down and accept the piles and the dust. To stay focused on one thing at a time, to get it done correctly and efficiently before moving on. Because I am only one me, so I can only really do one thing at a time. I know there are others out there with far more on their plate, but we all know what it feels like to juggle. And I'm a firm believer that switching over to a better balancing act goes a long way for mental health. (Physical health, too. I'm sure.)

4) Embracing without guilt what I do for myself
I don't think I ever, truly want to be away from my husband or kids. But there are times when I need a break for whatever reason. Retail therapy. Running. Solo time with friends and family. But I've been noticing myself feeling guilty about it lately. Especially when it comes to me asking for and taking the time to go running. I need running in my life. It keeps me feeling good physically, and does wonders for mental clarity. So I'm going to work on not feeling guilty when I need to go off on my own. Of course, I've never been made to feel guilty, it's all coming from within.

Now, how will I achieve all of the above? How will I work on it over the course of the next 40 days? By learning to recognize when my efforts are not working, and by asking myself why they aren't. Because I firmly believe the only way to really create healthy habits is to observe ourselves. To understand why we do what we do.

It's not enough for us to just call ourselves out on eating a cookie or feeling guilty. That feels like restriction. We have to help ourselves understand why we do the things we do so we can move forward as brighter, stronger and more balanced individuals.

Does this make sense?
I hope so.

Question: Do you give something up at this time of year? What healthy habits are you working on right now?

Monday, February 16, 2015

6 Things I'm Loving Right Now, Vol. 12

Hello! Here's to hoping that all of you felt the love this weekend. I trust you ate some chocolate? We hunkered down and hung out at home while a Winter storm nailed everything outside our doors. Southwest Michigan sure got hit with the white stuff! It's pretty out today, very bright and Winter white, which I love.

Speaking of love, I thought I'd share with you six things I'm loving right now.
In no particular order (and in no way sponsored by anything mentioned):

In an effort to curb boredom when I run inside, I've started listening to this talked-about podcast. If you like murder-mystery books, movies and/or television shows, then you'll love this Serial podcast, too. It's told from the perspective of a woman hired to dig a little deeper into the story of a man imprisoned for his girlfriend's murder. It's a true story, and no...I don't know where the case stands right now. I won't let myself Google it for updates.

2) Homemade Granola

Peanut Butter, Granola, Oats
There are so many delicious granola options out there, and I have no problem forking over the cash for them, but I've taken to making my own as of late. Peanut butter and honey combine nicely with oats and cinnamon to make two cups of granola perfection. I found the recipe on Pinterest. Consider it a success story.

3) Aveda Hand Relief Night Renewal Serum
I've always been a huge fan of Aveda hand relief moisturizing cream. It's the best, true story. Also expensive, but worth every penny. I recently got my hands (ha!) on this night renewal serum:

hand relief, night serum, night cream, hands, hand lotion, hand creme, Aveda
It, to no surprise, is great stuff, too. Let's just say I totally notice it when I skip this part of my nightly routine. Like, sandpaper-hands-all-day notice it.

4) Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser
Speaking of beauty products, I switched up my face soap a few days ago. I have this box full of travel-size products (because I hoard mini things), so when I ran out of face soap, I pulled this little guy out:

face soap, face cleanser, Neutrogena soap, gentle cleanser, travel size
I wouldn't necessarily classify my skin in the "needs gentle soap department," but then again, it is my face and I'm all about being gentle to this part of my body. And it really is a gentle, non-drying type of soap. Also, it has the lightest scent and gets my waterproof eye makeup off. So it wins based on that last one alone.

5) Baby Planks
I really wish I could capture this image for you.  Evan is figuring out how to crawl...he can get up on his hands and knees, but falls to his belly when he tries to move. Sometimes, though, he finds the core strength to lift his hips up into a plank position and it's the damn cutest thing ever. #proudmom

6) Early Morning Runs
I've been waking up at 5:00AM on Mondays and Thursdays and heading into the gym to run. I've taken on a few new clients, so I no longer have the freedom to train while I'm there from 8:30am to noon. Evan's mornings are getting more predictable, so it's been working out. And I love it. It's how I prefer to train if I have to train inside. Early. Before everyone wakes up. And with enough time to come home and shower before heading back in again. But, confession, I forgot to turn my alarm on this morning so I had to skip it (insert cursing here). I did, however, manage to sneak in a few miles before I headed home for the afternoon. I see you, Thursday morning. You're on my list.

Question: What beauty product are you incapable of living without? Sure, beauty goes deeper than skin, but there's nothing wrong with taking care of that skin you're in!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

5 Ways to Stay Positive at the Gym (#pinspirationthursday)

We all have those "life is lame" and "woah is me" and "leave me alone" days. We're human, and life on an cloud of perma-positivity is virtually unheard of. Introduce me to someone that's never angry or doesn't feel down (like, ever) or insecure and I'll drop and give you a million burpees.

That person doesn't exist.
And I'll never do a million burpees.

Furthermore, that person doesn't exist at the gym, either. The fitness funk hits everyone, I promise you. Not every workout is amazing. Group fit class isn't always great. And sometimes your goals will seem virtually impossible to reach. So why try, right?

So wrong.

Yes, you're allowed to be negative or feel funky.
You're also allowed to hate the gym.

But you're not allowed to give up on it. Or yourself. And I promise you, it's entirely possible to find positivity when you think it's lost forever. Today, I'll tell you how to do this at the gym.

But first, put a smile on your face. Smile = Positivity. Right?

1) Don't let numbers rule you.
They are just one small part of the story. You are not defined by how much you can lift OR how much you weigh. You define yourself by fighting resistance and getting stronger (and leaner). You define yourself when you remind yourself that, yeah...that exercise was hard and those weights burned my muscles. Look at you, strong friend.

2) Accept that it's not supposed to be easy.

organic authority, fitness inspiration, pinspiration thursday, quote
Pin / Source
Exercise is supposed to challenge you, right? So if you're feeling particularly weak, or if you're struggling with a particular exercise (I see you pull-ups), let those frustrations fuel you. It's absolutely OK to struggle. The struggle is, and should be, completely real. (Unless you're about to hurt yourself, at which point you need to just stop and figure out what the problem is...remember, there's a "good" struggle and one that just leads to injury).

3) Seek help from available resources. 
Members of the fitness staff at your facility are there to help you with your fitness. If you need help, if you're not seeing results—use that staff. They'll pick you up and get you to where you need to be. They'll give you exercises and a hefty dose of pep talk.

4) Stop comparing yourself to others. 
I do it, you do walk in the gym and see that one person with "perfect" abs. Chiseled biceps. Whatever. And suddenly, you suck at life and exercise. HELLO. Stop comparing yourself to that person. Just stop. They have issues, too. They're not perfect and most importantly—they're not you.
You do you to the best of your abilities. Wipe away the negativity with a hefty dose of "I can do this because I am awesome and beautiful and wonderful."

5) Leave negativity at the door, and don't pick it up on your way out.
If something is bothering you at home or at work, check it at the gym door. Use the gym to escape that funk. You deserve an hour just for yourself. And in that hour, you can virtually transform yourself one bicep curl, one mile and/or one plank at a time. Because endorphins, right? Those feel-goods that surge through your body when you exercise. Truly embrace what they can do for you, then give that funk you checked at the door the cold shoulder as you walk back out again.

Bottom line, stay focused at the gym. On yourself. On all that you're setting out to do, and all that you're capable of doing now and tomorrow and all the days to come. Positivity isn't always easy, but it's always possible.

Find a way.
In AND out of the gym.

PS: If you need more inspiration today, please check out 15 more inspirational quotes to knock the hibernating Winter blues out of you. It's where I found the above quote.

Question: What exercise makes you happy? Me? Burpees. No, seriously...burpees.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

What's on your reading list?

Confession: I literally spent an hour on the couch last night, fully and completely immersed in the The Bachelor. I don't even like The Bachelor. The whole time I sat there, I kept telling myself to pick up a book, a magazine...something. But I could not disengage. I think, in all honesty, it was an excuse for me to sit on the couch and do nothing.

I don't do that a lot.
Like, if ever.

Even when I watch Scandal or Downton Abbey, I'm typically folding laundry.

And this is probably why I have a reading list that's a mile long. I keep screen capping recommendations on my phone, or pinning must-read lists. And our mail lady keeps bringing me more magazines:

magazine subscriptions, marie claire, runner's world, parents, oxygen, IDEA fitness journal, women's health, reading, read
So this post...I'm putting all of my must-reads onto a list right here, right now. And I'm going to tackle each item one-by-one until I make it through. Which means, of course, that I also need to disengage not only from crappy television (The Bachelor, not Scandal or Downton), but from my iPhone as well. Because I'm addicted to it. For real.

I'm already a few pages into Train Like a Mother.

I read their first book and absolutely loved it. And since I'm doing my best to train for a Spring distance race, I need all the motivation I can get. Sarah and Dimity, never ones to disappoint in that department.

Also on the list:

reading, read, meghan daum, the one thing, essentialism, starbucks experience
1) Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived In That House (Meghan Daum)
2) The One Thing (Gary Keller)
3) Essentialism (Greg McKeown)
4) The Starbucks Experience (Joseph Michelli)

Hopefully I don't add up too many late fees in an effort to get through all of the above. You bet I make use of the book renewal process, but still.

Another confession: I paid a $15 late fee in order to check out the above. I'm the worst.

Other books that I'm curious about (in no particular order):

1) Outline (Rachel Cusk)
2) The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects Of Discussion (Meghan Daum)
3) The Girl On The Train (Paula Hawkins)
4) Yes, Please (Amy Poehler)
5) Cooked (Michael Pollan)

I betcha this list grows and grows as I discover more books.
Do you keep a book list?

Speaking of lists, I picked up my medal from this weekend's 5K.
Still can't believe I was at the top of the list in my age group.

Ice Fest 5K, Chocolate Run, Running

Question: What book have you been dying to read? Have you read any of the above? Which ones and did you like them?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

How I ran fast to finish first.

I ran a local 5K this weekend. The Second Annual Ice Fest 5K Chocolate Run. My club sponsored it so I was gifted a free entry. I would have paid my own way, just so we're clear. I was in no matter what because it was local, I knew the people organizing it and (most importantly) there was chocolate involved.

chocolate, fondue, chocolate run, race treats
Nothing beats a post-race chocolate treat.
(Except maybe some coffee, which I also consumed.)

Admittedly, I didn't take very many pictures. I went by myself and felt sort of funny about snapping photos left and right like I was some crazy paparazzi girl. Or selfie queen. Also, I just wanted to run.

I haven't committed to the Fifth Third Riverbank Run 25K yet because I'm still hesitant about completing the training at this time of year, but it's definitely a shining star on my 2015 race wish list, so I'm doing what I can to keep moving toward it. But this past week in particular was a little off.

I was scheduled for a 3-miler on Monday, which I ran. And then I was supposed to run 3.5 miles on Thursday, but work got the best of me and I couldn't find the time. And then I was scheduled for a 5-miler on Saturday, but I ran the 5K instead.

I thought about running and extra two miles either before or after the race, but decided against it in favor of running my heart out during the race. Turns out, that thought paid off and I finished first in my age group. I feat I've never accomplished.

Tara Sabo, first place, race time
I should also mention that the path was covered in snow.

I saw a lot of Yaktrax out there and contemplated wearing mine, but decided to forgo them at the last minute because the snow was fairly compact. There were icy patches, and also patches that were snow-free. So I was fine, really, as long as I paid attention.

But a snow covered path means temps were down, and I only had one pair of socks on, so my toes were cold for the first mile or so. Granted, it could have been colder. But I hate when my toes get cold, so that prompted me to run a bit faster, too.

As did the chocolate, see above.

"Run fast, get chocolate. Run fast, get chocolate."
(My mantra for the entirety of the race.)

And really, though. I kind of wanted to see how fast I could go so I seriously pushed. Rumor has it that I get a medal for my age-group win, so we'll see.  I'm always happy when I can add some bling to my collection. (Who doesn't love a good race medal?)

So, let's recap all the unofficial ways I got myself to run fast and finish first:
1) Ignore scheduled mileage and run heart out for entirety of shorter distance.
2) Wear one pair of socks, hate cold toes and think about a heat source beyond the finish line.
3) Imagine all the post-race treats.
4) Be curious about your ability to run faster than ever.

Pretty sure that last tip is the only one worth really considering.

Question: Would you rather run in the sand or snow? Why? I'm pretty sure I'd rather run in the snow because sand = hot. I do, however have one exception: Running in the sand anywhere on the Hawaiian islands. #bestplaceever

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

60-Minute #Barre Workout #workoutwednesday

Time for another edition of Workout Wednesday! Last week, I shared a full-body workout using the ActivMotion Bar that I was sent to review. Did you check it out? #omgvideo. Remember, you can do the workout with a standard body bar, too. Don't have a body bar? How about a Barre workout! I teach a BarreFit class on Wednesdays, so I thought I'd share that workout with you. 

Of course, I need to remind you that warming up and cooling down is essential. And it's always a good idea to consult with your physician if you're under their care and/or trying something new with regards to exercise. Better to be safe than sorry, eh?

You need a chair, light and medium weights, and a small ball. (Note: You'll be fine without the ball if you don't have one.) This workout will take you an hour, but you can eliminate sets if you need it to be shorter. For example, do two sets of each circuit instead of three. Now, go have fun:

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Try Something New: Essential Oils. #dishthefit

When I was sick over the holidays, I asked for ways to combat the crap. How could I fight the flu without traditional medicine? As a breastfeeding momma, I had to consider all of the options because the obvious options weren't necessarily the right ones for me at that point. A number of you suggested that I try essential oils. Admittedly, I didn't...but it got me thinking about them even more than I already had been. And when you think about things deeply, you start noticing them everywhere. So when Shannon posted an article about 21 Drops, I took it as a sign and reached out to the company to see if they'd be willing to send out a sample.

Why 21 Drops? Well, their whole look and feel is awesome, for starters, and I'm an advertising girl so that stuff works on me. Aside from that, their line of essential oils is incredibly approachable for someone that's clueless—I seriously have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to essential oils. Like, I have no clue what works for what, how much to use and when, or what to combine to get the most out of the whole experience. #clueless

21 Drops answered all of those questions without me really having to ask them. They don't sell individual oils, they sell blends that address specific needs. So essentially (pardon the pun), you shop by issue instead of oil (if that makes sense). They let me pick out one blend, and I went with Sleep.

I have two kids. Hannah is working on making it through the night without her Pull-Up, and Evan is teething. So, you know. A solid night's sleep is not a guarantee right now—I'm not complaining about that, just so we're clear.

Sleep is important. Really important.

It's when our bodies take what we've done to it all day and prepare for what's ahead when morning strikes again. I tell my daughter she has to go to bed so she can get energy for [insert tomorrow's activity here]. I'm not lying to her, that's for sure. You know what a good night's sleep feels like. And probably what going without one feels like, too.

Aside from the kid factor, there's also this:

We're currently redoing our bedroom, so it's in a sad state of affairs. (There's no bed-making in this house right now, because what's the point—our room is not tranquil and serene, it's pretty much not even clean. In fact, it's a pit and no freshly made bed can fix that. It's all for good reason, yes. But still.

This is why I'm trying to take bedtime seriously right now. And once again, why I decided to incorporate some essential oils into my nightly routine.

Here's what my little bottle of Sleep can do for me, according to the 21 Drops website:

Inside that little bottle is a mix of Palmarosa, Sandalwood, Vetiver and Ylang Ylang, all mixed up in organic Jojoba Oil. Six drops on each wrist, your neck and your temples and you're good to go. So that's what I've been doing. And honestly, I think it's working.

Placebo effect? Maybe.
Maybe not.

Whenever I use it, I wake up feeling rested (even if the kids get me up once or twice). So since it can't hurt me, I'm going to keep it in my nightly rotation of products. And I'm contemplating a mix for daytime use. Calm, to be specific. Because it's "one to keep close by and use when the craziness starts" which is, like...all the time, right?

Note: I still want to get some tea tree and lavender oils to make that yoga mat spray I linked to awhile back. I can only imagine how good it smells (and how dirty my yoga mat is).

Question: What essential oils do you use and why? 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Winter Running: 4 Miles in the Snow

I really want to start this post with complaints about all the snow we got up here in Michigan, but I can't because everything is covered in a blanket of white and it's gorgeous. This is the part of Winter I love. Fresh, fluffy snow out my window. So pretty, and much prettier than any view from a treadmill at the gym. I hate the treadmill. It's a buzzkill. So I avoid it whenever possible.

Despite less than desirable temperatures and roads that hadn't been plowed, I laced up and ran outside. And it was awesome.

Strategic layering and a few key pieces of winter runner gear kept me warm for four miles.

At the top, a breathable hat with pigtails (because then my hat stays on). A simple neck warmer, which added to my long-sleeve turtleneck and thin-but-warm Nike running jacket that I've had for years. Then gloves, obviously. And two pairs of running pants (one of which was lined with a thin layer of fleece).

At the bottom, one pair of waterproof socks and one pair of ski socks. And an old-but-good pair of running shoes with Yaktrax.

Clutch move, those Yaktrax.

I probably couldn't have gone running without them. My route took me through a neighborhood that hadn't been plowed, so I was dodging in and out of, around and about tire tracks the whole way. It wasn't slippery in the icy sense, but the tread on my shoes would never have been enough.

Dang, was it fun!

Oddly silent, too. Except for the occasional snow blower. And maybe one or two cars. But for the most part, it was just me and the snow. And it was awesome.

I'm doing what I can to hold on to all of my motivation to train for and run a Spring half marathon. This is NOT the best time for me to build mileage, but I'm giving it my best shot. I'll decide at the end of February if I can maintain it through to the kind of all just depends on how much I can run outside. Because I'm not even joking you when I say that I'll die if I have to do long runs on the treadmill. Not even joking.

That's how much I hate the treadmill.

But, we'll see. Like I said, I'm motivated.
And still thawing out a bit.

AND pretty happy with my time, despite the less-than-ideal terrain.
I thought I'd clock in much slower than this:

Coming up this weekend, a 5K race in my little town. It's going to be cold because we'll be running down by the beach, but it's our own little version of a chocolate run, so...chocolate makes it worth it.

Question: Would you rather run on a hot Summer day or cold Winter day? Why?


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