Friday, October 30, 2015

How I Used the KonMari Method to Organize My Clothes

I am a self-described neat freak. That doesn't mean my house is spotless, or that everything is in order. It's quite the opposite, actually. I'd like to blame my children, but my husband and I are just as much at fault as they are. As a result, I'm constantly picking things up, organizing, reorganizing and  picking things up again. It's a never-ending battle that has become a workout in and of itself. Enter the KonMari Method for tidying up. I mean, everyone is talking about it so it really must be an easy way to organize the house.

I bought the book and have been trying out the method, starting with my clothes.

Does your clothing spark joy? Use the KonMari Method to tidy up your closet.
Gotta say, I'm hooked and totally motivated. Seeing everything so perfectly organized, lacking unused makes me feel lighter, happier, and (obviously) motivated to move through the rest of my house.

In essence, it's all about one question: "Does this spark joy?"

If it does, then you keep the item. If not, then you toss or donate it. But you can't just move through your closet, go through your bathroom drawers or do it all little by little. Marie Kondo wants you to organize by category, and she suggests you start with your clothing and do it all in one fell swoop. Literally, you have to feel every item of clothing in your home and decide if it sparks joy. You decide what to keep, not what to throw away.

For example:

Why do I still have this skirt?
Like I'll ever wear it again.
It's from my Abercrombie and Fitch college days.

So it's currently in a bag waiting to be donated.
Here's a before shot of my closet:

Use the KonMari Method to tidy up your closet and organize all the clothes that you really need.
My husband would like you to note the difference between our two closets.

"Make sure you point out that I have, like...a third of what you do. Your closet is out of control. Why do you even need that many clothes?" He even has room for a bathroom vanity in his closet (we're in the middle of a remodel).

My response: "Sorry...did you say something?"

Anyway, he's a bit right. My closet is out of control. I wax nostalgic when it comes to my clothes. I hang on to things because they remind me of times in my life, even though I'll never wear them again. It's kind of silly if you think about it because I probably have pictures of me in the clothes.

Point of the matter: I purged my clothing according to the KonMari Method and ended up getting rid of four bags of clothing (including some accessories and shoes).

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo helped me organize my closet.
It was really, really easy to part with everything. My closet now:

Organize your closet by asking yourself one question: Does this spark joy?
It still looks full, but trust me, it's free of everything that I should have gotten rid of a long time ago. And I'm especially excited about the visible floor and shelf that lacks clothing.

My drawers are in better condition now, too. But we'll get to those in a minute. First, I want to give you some pointers from the KonMari Method that could possibly help you organize your clothing more efficiently...although, seriously. You should buy the book. Until you do:

1) Put every piece of clothing you own in a pile, then sift through it by category. Here's the thing, my clothing was fairly organized from the get-go. I really just needed to purge. So I didn't put everything in one big pile...I did, however, create piles by category right from the start. For example, here are my shirts:

Use the KonMari Method to organize and tidy your clothing by category.
I worked through each category before making a new pile for the next one. This worked for me, I never felt overwhelmed and the end result is definitely an improvement.

2) Fold each piece in a simple, smooth rectangle. The KonMarie Method places huge emphasis on folding, rather than hanging, most of your clothing. And there's a very specific way you're supposed to fold it. Everything is essentially rolled, which eliminates stacks of clothing and makes everything visible. For me, this wasn't always realistic. It worked for my sweatshirts, sweaters, pajamas...some other things, too. But not my activewear. That remains folded as it always was, minus a few things I no longer wear. But the drawers that are now folded accordingly are so nice. They're virtually perfect:

Tidy up your house, starting with your clothing, using the KonMari Method.
3) Hang clothes so they rise to the right. This is supposed to be refreshing, if you're into that sort of thinking. So, heavy clothes like long skirts, dresses and pants should be on the left, with tops of various lengths sweeping up toward the right. Again, one huge rule I didn't follow because the logic of my organizational methods works for me. I like how I've been doing it, so why should I change it? I feel like my closet is still refreshing, just with a little more room between the hangers

4) Don't ball up socks. Yep, the KonMari Method requires you to fold your socks. And here's the logic: When you ball up your socks, you're essentially stretching them out. Makes sense. So I un-balled all my dressy socks and folded them, although I couldn't figure out how to get them to fold nicely according to the official sock-folding instructions, so I improvised just a bit. Take a look:

Tidy up your house with ease using the KonMari Method.
I could go on and on about the various ways to employ the KonMari method in your clothing closet, but if there's one piece of advice you're looking for, I'll sum it up with this:

Take your clothes out, either by category or all at once, then take each item in your hand. Decide if it "sparks joy," and donate it if it doesn't. Don't think about it too hard, you should know immediately whether or not something is worth keeping. Don't downgrade anything to loungewear, just get rid of it. Once you've narrowed it down, take the time to organize your clothing so that everything is visible and easy to grab. 

Sounds easy enough, right?

Up next: Our books.
This will be a huge challenge because I'm a book hoarder, for real.

Want more #fitnfashionable scoop? See what my friends are up to...

Question: How organized is your closet? Have you read 'The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up'? What did you think? Did it work for you?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

How to Stretch After Spinning

I took a Spinning class yesterday. As in, I sat on a bike in the back row as someone else instructed the class. My class...the one I teach every Tuesday. Teacher became student because I had to observe a new Spinning instructor. I don't get to take classes that often, so it was nice to ride without all the pressure that comes with being the ringleader. But, once a ringleader...always a ringleader. So today, I thought it would be fun to walk you through a series of stretches that can be done after your bike ride.

How to Stretch After Spinning: A full list of stretches for after your bike ride.
The two most important parts of any Spinning class are the warm up and cool down. Especially the cool down. It's super important to bring your heart rate back to an acceptable state, and it's also essential to relieve your muscles of all the tension they've just built up. Hence. an appropriate post-Spinning stretch routine.

Use the bike, of course. And start with a hamstrings stretch.

How to Stretch After Spinning: A full list of stretches for after your bike ride.
Rule of thumb: Hold every stretch for 20 seconds. And please don't bounce.

From a hamstrings stretch, you can push your hips forward and relieve your hip flexors. Also your calf muscles if you keep your heel on the floor, like so:

How to Stretch After Spinning: A full list of stretches for after your bike ride.
Switch legs, then focus on your quadriceps:

How to Stretch After Spinning: A full list of stretches for after your bike ride.
Before you switch legs, come into a chair position to stretch your hips and glutes out:

How to Stretch After Spinning: A full list of stretches for after your bike ride.
Oh, so good.

Don't forget your upper body. Start wit this chest stretch:

How to Stretch After Spinning: A full list of stretches for after your bike ride.
Be careful with the bike, though. Make sure you aren't pulling the bike toward you, as it could fall on you. They're pretty stable, but still. Never hurts to err on the side of caution. And while it might look like I'm pulling on the bike in the following picture, I'm actually just pushing my clasped hands away from my body:

How to Stretch After Spinning: A full list of stretches for after your bike ride.
Note the rounded back.

You should also feel it right between your shoulder blades.

Next up, obliques:

How to Stretch After Spinning: A full list of stretches for after your bike ride.
Classic stretch, right there. Again, I'm not pulling on the bike. It's an illusion, I swear.

Finish it out with a little side lunge to relieve your inner thighs.

How to Stretch After Spinning: A full list of stretches for after your bike ride.
Feel free to stretch biceps and triceps, too, although they're a bit secondary in the list of muscles working hard during a Spinning class. When it comes to post-class stretching...after any group fitness reserve the right to continue your cool down if necessary. We instructors do our best to walk you through it, but everyone is different and we get that, too.

If you want more stretching ideas, check out the #thefitdish to see what my fellow fitbloggers are doing. Additionally, it's #wildworkoutwednesday, so you know there's some new workouts floating around the Internet today.

Oh, and in case you're wondering about that instructor I observed—She did just fine. Exceptionally well, actually. I'm looking forward to watching her grow as an instructor. Literally, she smiled the whole time she was in the saddle.

True sign that someone is right where they need to be.

Want more Spinning info from yours truly, a certified Spinning instructor?
Check out these articles:
Spinning Playlist with Rolling Hills
45-Minute Spinning Playlist
How to Create an Awesome Spinning Playlist
Spinning During Pregnancy: How to Ride Safely when You are Expecting
8 Tips for Taking Your First Spinning Class
How to Make the Most of Your Time in Spinning Class
A Spinning Certification Review

PS: There's still time to enter my Mighty Nut Powdered Peanut Butter giveaway...

Question: If you could give one piece of advice to Spinning instructors everywhere, what would it be? What makes you love/hate a Spinning class?

Monday, October 26, 2015

6 Things I'm Loving Right Now, Vol. 16

I read a lot of blogs, and I find it hugely entertaining when bloggers post lists of things they're loving. I think it's a fun way to learn a little bit more about the blogger, and it often introduces me to products, services, etc. that might fit into my own life. I used to share my own lists pretty regularly with all of you, but it's been awhile. Since BlogFest, actually. So I thought it would be fun to reintroduce this concept on Daily Dose.

Which means, here's a list of all the things I'm loving right now:

1) Fall Weather
This time of year makes me smile so hard. I absolutely love Fall...when it's pretty...and it's so pretty right now. We've had loads of sunshine which makes all the trees pop with color. The air has been crisp, but not too cold. Perfect for running. So totally perfect for running.

Running in the Fall is the best.
2) The Evolve Wrap from Momentum Jewelry
Seriously, I love Momentum Jewelry. I just renewed my ambassadorship with them, and I couldn't be more excited about it. As a blogger, I get the opportunity to work with a number of different brands, but this brand, Momentum Jewelry, is by far one of my favorites. I've had the pleasure of meeting Amy (the owner) in person, and she's just as awesome as her jewelry. If you follow me on Instagram, you see me (or my shoes) wearing it all the time. She recently sent me the newest member of her collection, the Evolve Wrap, and it's fabulous:

Change the saying on this Evolve Wrap bracelet to meet your motivational needs in the gym (or anywhere else you wear bracelets).
Note: You can change out the saying to fit your motivational needs. You can also take 20% off your purchase if you sign up for the Momentum newsletter...that they only send a few times each year, so it's not like you'll get bombarded. When you sign up, you'll get a one-time-use coupon code for 20% off. (This deal runs through November 25, 2015. Links provided are not affiliate links, as in, I don't get a kick-back when you click. Just thought you should know.)

3) Short Boots
I used to be a huge fan of knee-high boots at this time of year, but now, I'm so totally loving the shorter styles. And I'm over heels. Flat styles are where it's at for my feet. I recently found these at Kohl's for around $20:

Wear ankle boots in the fall with jeans. Just cuff the jeans above your boots.
They were on sale when I bought them, plus I had Kohl's Cash and a coupon. According to the website, they're still on sale. So you should get them. #wecouldbetwins

4) Maybelline's Blushed Nudes Eyeshadow Palette


I love makeup. I don't always wear it, but I could buy tons of it if I let myself. Which I don't, because let's be honest, a girl (that works at a gym) only needs so much makeup in her life. But when I saw this palette at my local big box grocery store, I threw it in the cart without hesitation. My favorite eyeshadows are of the gold, rose, brown variety because I have green eyes. And I've always wanted a palette of colors to choose from, but eyeshadow palettes can be so expensive. Except this one was $10, no joke. And if you flip it over, it totally tells you how to mix the colors in a bunch of different ways. (There's also a regular "Nudes" palette that's mostly browns and golds, if you'd rather have that color scheme.)

5) Television
Seriously, I've never been one to watch a lot of TV shows. But right now, I've got three must-watch shows on my radar. Currently obsessed with: Scandal (who isn't), Madame Secretary (because Tea Leoni rocks the powerful woman gig) and Sweat, Inc. (because #jillianmichaels).

6) Preschool Classwork
My daughter is in preschool. She goes three times a week and absolutely loves it. And we're totally loving all the classwork she brings home. So much fun to see her learning new things and exploring her artistic abilities. Our "look what I did" board is a constant rotation of things I might never throw away:

Look what I did! Board
Question: What are you loving right now? Tell me...

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Protein Bar Bites with @GoMightyNut #EatMighty

Disclaimer: The following post is sponsored by Fit Approach on behalf of Peanut Butter and Co. All opinions are, as per the usual, my very own. 

I'm so glad my kids can eat peanut butter. It would have been gone from our house without hesitation if they had shown any signs of an allergy, but we're in the clear and my belly is grateful. I absolutely love peanut butter. Any form of it. I eat it daily and it's one of the ten healthy foods I always buy (or make, depending on time). Is peanut butter high in calories? Yes. Is peanut butter bad for me? I don't think so, not when I eat the right amount. For years now, I've been having it on my apples, in my sandwiches, spread across bread and mixed into snacks and bars.

Peanut butter is

So when the opportunity to review Mighty Nut Powdered Peanut Butter came to me, I accepted because #peanutbutter. And yum.

Use MightyNut Powdered Peanut Butter in recipes to save fat calories and add protein.
I've experimented with other powdered peanut butters in the past. I like using them in smoothies, oatmeal and baked goods. Not only can it add that delicious peanut butter flavor, it ups the protein factor without also increasing the fat factor. In fact, a single serving of Mighty Nut Powdered Peanut Butter has 85% less fat calories than traditional peanut butter. So that's nice, right? And for what it's worth, it brings six grams of protein to the game. #sweetscore

Literally, it's peanut butter in powder form:

Try adding MightyNut Powdered Peanut Butter to recipes for great peanut butter flavor with less calories.
And it can definitely be switched from its dehydrated state to a regular scoop of peanut butter. It's a 2:1 ratio. So to every two tablespoons of peanut butter powder, you'll add one tablespoon of water and mix. Or, skip that and use it in recipes.

That's my favorite way to use powdered peanut butter.

For example, I used it in these peanut butter chocolate chip protein bar bites:

Protein bites are a delicious take-anywhere snack that satisfies the sweet tooth without adding too many calories to your diet.
I haven't shared a recipe in a long time, and I haven't baked this healthy snack in a long time, either. Yet another reason I wanted to check out this powdered peanut butter from Peanut Butter and Company.

Don't these look good?

MightyNut Powdered Protein Peanut Butter, protein snacks, protein recipes, cookie recipes, snack bars, snack bites, peanut butter, chocolate
Seriously, they're so easy to make. And they taste like cookies. Literally, like cookies. I'm a huge fan of those KIND peanut butter and chocolate chip granola bars. So good for snacks at the gym. And these peanut butter chocolate chip protein bar bites taste just like them. So basically, they're healthy protein cookie ball bites.

Oh, what to name such a tasty creation.

Here's the recipe:

Source: Based on Blueberry Muffin Granola Bar Bites

• 1-1/2 C oats
• 1/3 C oat flour
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 1/2 C crushed almonds
• 1/3 C peanut butter
• 1 scoop vanilla Mighty Nut Powdered Peanut Butter
• 1/2 C chocolate chips
• 1 tsp vanilla
• splash of water
1/2 C honey

Note: For the peanut butter, you can use whatever you have on hand, or you can mix your own with Mighty Nut Powdered Peanut Butter (plain). To make enough for this recipe, I used 8 tbsp of powder and 4 tbsp of water.

1) Throw everything into a bowl and mix it up.

Simple ingredients mixed together make healthy protein snacks in minutes.
2) Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3) Preheat oven to 350F, then make golf balls with the dough.
4) Bake for 15 minutes, then cool.
5) Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

I mean, so easy.

And so good.
Makes a ton:

protein balls, protein snacks, protein bar, chocolate chips, peanut butter, powdered peanut butter, healthy snacks
Two dozen, actually. Probably more if you don't sneak dough.

Best part, you can totally customize them to your liking. Possible additions to the above recipe: spices, other nuts, dried fruit, chia or flax seeds. Get creative, people. Your taste buds will thank you.

And to thank YOU for being awesome, one lucky Daily Dose reader will win a jar of Mighty Nut Powdered Peanut Butter (and a branded measuring scoop, shown above) in the flavor of their choice.

Wait, flavor?

Yes. Four of them: Original, Vanilla, Chocolate and Flax/Chia.

To enter, use the Rafflecopter widget below. Contest ends Thursday, October 29, 2015 at Midnight EST. One prize per person, so if you win this giveaway, you must let me know if you've already won a Might Nut prize from another blogger.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

TRX and BOSU Interval Workout

The BOSU will always be my favorite piece of fitness equipment. Coming in at a very close second: TRX straps. They're quite intimidating when you see them hanging on an anchor, but TRX will give you a total-body workout unlike any other. And almost anyone can use them. Combine TRX straps with a BOSU and some timed intervals and, can imagine the fun. I had a brief opening in my schedule this morning, so I snuck into the studio for a TRX and BOSU interval workout.

Combine TRX with a BOSU for a total-body interval workout.
My brief window was literally 40 minutes of me busting out my workout, which meant I had no time to sneak in a few action shots. Just one quick selfie:

I so wanted to end with a 5-minute flow to stretch, but alas, that didn't happen either. I do have a mat at home, though. So there's still time.

I also have TRX straps at home and, of course, a BOSU trainer, so I snuck out to the backyard to illustrate a few highlights from the following workout:

Work your entire body with the BOSU and a set of TRX straps in 40 minutes.
As always, please remember to warm up and cool down appropriately. Also, check in with your doctor or your certified personal trainer if you have any questions, or if you're just starting out on your fitness journey. It's true that I am certified, but I don't know your specific fitness level, or if you have any contraindications to exercise.

That said, let's talk about the workout.

It's pretty straightforward. Three circuits, all timed. I use the IntervalTimer app on my iPhone so I don't have to eyeball the clock (or think about the time). It works nicely, and is easy to set up. You'll want to complete each circuit three times before moving on to the next. Give yourself time in between the circuits to set up and drink water.

And now, those highlights (translation: the pictures I took in my backyard). You should recognize most of the exercises. Let's go down the list.

Here's what a TRX pistol squat looks like using the BOSU balance trainer:

Pistol Squats on a BOSU with the TRX straps make for an awesome leg day challenge.
Of course, do your first interval on one side, then switch to the next.

Up next, a classic TRX move. The TRX row. Go deep with the feet super close to your anchor to really increase the challenge on those back muscles:

TRX Rows will tone your back muscles and add strength.

Seriously, it's an unbelievably gorgeous Fall day up here in Michigan. Sun on my face! #love

Wide squat hold with alternating side bends? Don't overthink it. Reach for your ankles. Alternating toward one side after the other.

Wide Squat Jumps to BOSU

Walking Pushups

TRX Hamstring Runners. Oh, how these burn. And, total blogger fail: I didn't snap a picture so I'll default you to the TRX YouTube page (which, by the way, is filled with awesome exercises). Go to the 1:40 mark of THIS VIDEO and check out the hamstring curl. To make it a runner, you just alternate bringing in one knee, then the other.

Good stuff.

TRX Biceps Curls:

TRX Biceps curls take traditional biceps curls one step further to really challenge your arm muscles.
Promise me you'll keep those elbows lifted. Dropping them to your ribs is the number one mistake with this exercise, and it takes away from the work that your biceps need to do.

Up next, TRX Front Squat to Triceps Press. Here's a quick little video (no, there's not sound):

Last two exercises in this TRX and BOSU interval workout: Hip Dips in Plank on BOSU (pretty self-explanatory), and BOSU Burpees with Overhead Press. My personal favorite BOSU exercise.

Now, as noted, today was exceptionally beautiful outside. I really should have just saved my workout for this afternoon instead of squeezing it in at the gym, but...anyway. My next project is trying to figure out how to hook up my straps in the floorboards of my basement because, you know... #winteriscoming.

Your basement can be a gym. You just need space, and a few pieces of equipment.
Don't judge my basement. It's just a basement.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some laundry to do.

If you want more workout fun, you can check out #wildworkoutwednesday.

Question: What fitness equipment do you like using together in one workout? Do you hang a TRX in your house? How can I hang it in mine? Now taking suggestions...

Monday, October 19, 2015

#linklove: Good Reads from Around the Internet, Vol. 9

It's happening again. The browser on my phone is filled with a gazillion different pages, all open and waiting to be read, pinned or otherwise acted upon. Yes...this. Despite me using Pocket and Pinterest to organize noteworthy website links. So in an effort to clean up my browser (again), I decided it was time for another Link Love.

1) It's no secret that I love running the half marathon. I've got six under my belt, some better than others. So I totally GET these 13.1 feelings you'll have during a half marathon. Note: I can't stop laughing.

2) I drool over Khloe Kardashian's fitness closet. But really, I would do anything to have an Athleta store in my closet. Seriously, that place...can I just have everything? Literally, send me everything.

3) Being hangry is not just a physical problem. I would know.

4) Pain in the IT band is a huge pain in the, well...butt (sort of). Pocket these IT band stretches for runners.

5) I love hearing from people that read my posts. But I know not everyone does. So in an effort to continually improve the quality of my content, I'm focusing on these 27 reasons people don't read blog posts. Blogger friends, it's a great read.

6) I used to keep a notebook of book titles, and I know I've shared links to lists of must-reads. I found another one: 21 Books From The Last 5 Years That Every Woman Should Read.

7) Bloggers, here's another one: Are you using Hootsuite to schedule Instagram posts? I haven't started doing this yet, but it's intriguing to me. And these tips help. (Such a straightforward post.)

8) "What has happened to face-to-face conversation in a world where so many people say they would rather text than talk?" This is a great take on the fact that our phones prevent natural, face-to-face conversation. You're guilty of it, too. Right? Stop Googling, let's talk.

9) Apparently, we shouldn't be throwing away our banana peels. People are eating them. For real. Because there seem to be a wide variety of benefits to eating banana peels.

10) Homemade pumpkin pie spice. #thatisall

Question: Are you guilty of focusing on your phone too much? Do you have any household phone rules?

Friday, October 16, 2015

Let's shop the Victoria's Secret Sport catalog... #tryme

It's pretty telling when a majority of the catalogs you get in the mail are selling workout clothes for women. Right now, I have the latest from Reebok, Athleta and Victoria's Secret Sport. I often get Title Nine, H&M Sport and New Balance, too. I don't always order from them (because I can't always justify the prices), but I like to see what's new and what might be coming down the fitness fashion pipelines.

Today, I thought it would be fun for us to "window shop" the Victoria's Secret Sport catalog. Plus, it's #fitnfashionable Friday.

fitness fashion, fitness clothing, fitgear, angels
Except today, I'm actually window shopping with the intent to purchase. Here's why:Do you follow Victoria's Secret Sport on Instagram? You should. They're very interactive. A few weeks ago, they posted an image with a question: "How did you prove them wrong?" I responded with this comment: "I proved myself right...that I could actually do what I thought I couldn't."

Apparently, they liked my comment enough to send me a gift card. When they reached out, I honestly thought they were just going to send me a coupon, which would have been enough.

Lesson of the day: Follow and interact with your favorite brands because you just never know.

So, here I sit.
Flipping through the Victoria's Secret Sport catalog.

Here's what I'm loving the most:

fitness fashion, fitness clothing, fitgear, angels
You can't really tell, but these Knockout Crops are actually navy blue...and the wide variety of additional colors will go with a number of different tanks in my drawer. Plus, I absolutely love my existing pair of Victoria's Secret Sport pants. And, I remember seeing these in the store and being really upset that they didn't have my size. Front runner, for sure.

But I'm also pretty obsessed with this open-back pullover:

fitness fashion, fitness clothing, fitgear, angels, long sleeve workout shirt, open back shirt
I just can't decide how practical it would be because I don't teach in long sleeves, and when I train clients, I wear our team shirt. And since it's getting colder outside, it's not like I'd wear it around the house with leggings and a cute bra. But, I do love it. And the strappy back sport bra:

fitness fashion, fitness clothing, fitgear, angels, sports bras, vsx
...but I'm a little hesitant to purchase a bra that I can't try on. Especially one from Victoria's Secret because the sport bra that I did have from them never really fit me properly despite trying on a bunch of different sizes. But, maybe it was that particular bra.

So the pants are definitely still a front runner, but I also found this cuteness online:

fitness fashion, fitness clothing, fitgear, angels, sweater, thumb holes, gym to street style
I just wish it came in other colors because most of my wardrobe is some  version of black and grey. How very Olivia Pope (#omgscandal) of me, so maybe I should just embrace it. I do need clothes to wear outside of the gym, and I absolutely love fitness gear that works on the street, too. Plus, thumb holes.

Decisions, decisions.

Question: What would you buy?

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

6 Stretches for Hips

I've talked in-depth on A Daily Dose of Fit about the benefits of stretching. Why you should stretch. When and how you should stretch. And I've written a few posts with ways to actually get down and stretch. Stretching is important and my favorite. And I hate when I have to rush through it, which was the case this morning.

I got to the gym later than I anticipated, which means I had to stray from the plan for a bit. Unfortunately, this meant cutting out some hip work and cutting short my stretch routine. I was fine with cutting out the hip work. Mine are still sore from Barre Fit on Monday. Which is why I wasn't fine with cutting short my stretch routine. My hips are desperate for some relief!

So, let's talk about stretches for hips:

stretching, flexibility, hip stretches, fitfluential, sweatpink
As a runner, it's important for me to keep my hips moving freely. Tightness in the hips leads to tightness in the back or down the leg around the knee. Loose and limber is the way to be.

Here are a few of my favorite hip stretches:

stretching, flexibility, hip stretches, fitfluential, sweatpink
This inner-thigh stretch will loosen you up AND save you time. Both sides, each stretched at the same time. Alternately, you can do a deep side lunge to work one side at a time if you prefer. With pigeon pose, you'll have to do both sides individually.

stretching, flexibility, hip stretches, fitfluential, sweatpink
Use a block if you need to. Drop your chest. Always modify as you see fit. You can also bend your back leg to get a bonus quad stretch:

stretching, flexibility, hip stretches, fitfluential, sweatpink
It's a bit of an advanced stretch, so proceed with caution. Never force yourself into a stretch position. It's just not worth the risk.

Here's another relatively easy stretch for you:

stretching, flexibility, hip stretches, fitfluential, sweatpink
Remember, it's not enough to simply get into a low lunge. You have to push your hips forward, or toward the ground a little to feel it in (in my case above) the right hip. I'm focusing on the left hip in this picture:

stretching, flexibility, hip stretches, fitfluential, sweatpink
Here's the thing about this stretch: I'm doing a little more than just folding forward. My legs are crossed, but my hips are actually tilted. Or, I stuck my hip out before I folded forward. Like this:

Trust me, you'll feel it.

You'll also feel your hamstrings when you stretch them with some assistance:

stretching, flexibility, hip stretches, fitfluential, sweatpink
 Not complicated, but deep and effective. It doesn't matter where the assistance comes from...a band, towel, jump rope. Maybe even another person. Just take it slow and don't go beyond what feels right.

If you need a workout to go with these stretches, check out the #wildworkoutwednesday link-up!

Questions? Let me know.
I've got one for you (as usual).

Question: Do you build stretching into your daily routine? If you need to cut a workout short, what's the first to go?

Monday, October 12, 2015

Warrior Dash Race Recap #rockinwarrior

Disclaimer: The following post is sponsored by Rockin' Refuel. I was provided Warrior Dash race fees in exchange for my honest review of the event. 

Michigan is so beautiful right now. This part of Fall, it's by far my favorite. I love the sun and refreshing temperatures, and all the trees are turning stunningly colorful shades of red, orange and yellow. It was a great weekend, thanks to Mother Nature. I started it out with a local 5K. I ran a 25:02 race, which is not my best but certainly not my worst either. I'm at the tail end of a cold, which definitely impacted my speed and endurance, but finished 2nd in my age group:

The race itself was at a park, so a vast majority of the course was off the pavement. I'm not so certain I like running in the grass, especially when the grass is wet. I'll be honest, though—it was much better than running in the mud! Remember when I did that Warrior Dash with Rockin' Refuel a few weeks ago? Here's a shot of my team before we met the mud:

rockinwarrior, warrior dash race recap, mud run recap, running in the mud, fitfluential, sweatpink
We ended up running in the last heat, which wasn't a big deal. We had some concerns about course quality, but it felt fresh as mud run obstacles can feel, I suppose.

I ended up bringing a water camera with me, hence the delayed review (apparently, one-hour photo isn't a thing anymore). A majority of the shots were blurry (as I expected), but I did get some decent shots (as I had hoped). Here are a few of my teammates coming over Hard Rain:

rockinwarrior, warrior dash race recap, mud run recap, running in the mud, fitfluential, sweatpink
You can't see it in the picture, but we got soaked with water as we climbed  up the first side of the obstacle. So freakin' cold. But they seem to space out the wet obstacles, because the next two involved climbing up and over wooden structures. Like this Chaotic Cargo obstacle:

rockinwarrior, warrior dash race recap, mud run recap, running in the mud, fitfluential, sweatpink
Or the Diesel Dome:

rockinwarrior, warrior dash race recap, mud run recap, running in the mud, fitfluential, sweatpink
If you're afraid of heights, these obstacles might test your limits. And speaking of heights, I ended up doing just fine on the Great Warrior Wall:

rockinwarrior, warrior dash race recap, mud run recap, running in the mud, fitfluential, sweatpink
I wasn't sure if I'd have the upper body strength or the grip to get myself up and over, and I was really nervous about the drop-down on the other side.e But the other side is actually an angled ladder, so to speak, and I did just fine. I definitely approached it with a lot of hesitation, but for the most part, we all agreed that the obstacles themselves are much more intimidating online than they are in person.

All of the obstacles were extremely fun. Spaced out a bit too much for our liking, but that might just depend on the land they're given

You might think we didn't get that wet or muddy, but I promise you that we did. Here's a shot from the Warrior Dash photographers of me coming across the High Tension obstacle:

rockinwarrior, warrior dash race recap, mud run recap, running in the mud, fitfluential, sweatpink
That tension rope was slippery, and I was completely soaked by the time I got across. I thought it would be higher off the ground, and maybe it is at other locations, but still. Fun stuff.

Warrior Dash had photographers stationed throughout the course, and all the pictures end up being free, so they got some shots of me that my water camera did not. Like this one of me jumping over the Warrior Roast:

rockinwarrior, warrior dash race recap, mud run recap, running in the mud, fitfluential, sweatpink
Shortly after this picture, we had to slide into a pool of water then crawl under barbed wire in a ditch full of mud. And then we crossed the finish line, where they put medals around our necks:

rockinwarrior, warrior dash race recap, mud run recap, running in the mud, fitfluential, sweatpink
I think a lot of people would agree that the Warrior Dash is a friendly mud race. Challenging, but totally doable and user-friendly. We all enjoyed our experience, courtesy of Rockin' Refuel.

rockinwarrior, warrior dash race recap, mud run recap, running in the mud, fitfluential, sweatpink
The event itself is really more than just a mud run. It's an entire festival, complete with beer and fuzzy warrior hats:

rockinwarrior, warrior dash race recap, mud run recap, running in the mud, fitfluential, sweatpink
I know, I look much cleaner. Thankfully, there were wash stations and changing tents. I still had to go home and take a shower, but it was nice to get a bulk of the mud off me before hitting the road for home (because that would have sucked so bad). Note to you: Bring a change of clothes. And extra shoes. You won't want to take your shoes home (and they donate them when you're done):

rockinwarrior, warrior dash race recap, mud run recap, running in the mud, fitfluential, sweatpink
So, in conclusion: The Warrior Dash was an awesome experience. Also, the Rockin' Refuel at the finish line was particularly tasty and refreshing:

rockinwarrior, warrior dash race recap, mud run recap, running in the mud, fitfluential, sweatpink
I'm already thinking about next year.
Who wants to be on my team?

Question: I wasn't sure the Warrior Dash was really my thing. Then I signed up, and had the time of my life. Have you ever been in a similar situation? Tell me about it.


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