Tuesday, June 20, 2017

What I've been up to...

Crickets. They've taken over my website! Can you hear them chirping? Guys...I've been busy.  I've got two jobs, two kids and a life. So naturally, blogging took a backseat to all of that (as it should have, I believe). But here I sit, on a random Tuesday night, feeling creative and ready to share. So, if you've missed me, here's what I've been up to:

I ran two races.
I haven't really been training, per se. But I did tack on miles in order to complete the Soldier Field 10-Mile race in Chicago on May 27th. I held an 8:00/mile pace, and that made me smile. Note: I was also smiling because this race was a bucket list thing. I've been meaning to run it for years, and I finally made it happen:

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I also did Alex's Duck Duck Run, which is a big local 5K where I live. It's typically a hot one, so I go into it with little to no expectations. I won my age group last year with a time of 22:36. I won my age group again this year with a time of 23:26.

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I organized a beer run.

Saucony, running shoes, cold beer, Watermark Brewing Co
I don't even drink beer, but I manage a running store. So give the people what they want, right? We (the other managing partner and I) threw out the information hoping we'd get a handful of people—we ended up getting over 60 people to show up, which was great because all of the money we collected went to a local charity. We've got another beer run this Thursday night, so we'll see if we can keep the momentum going.

I got really busy at work.
Two jobs, y'all. Together, they equal one full-time job. I wouldn't trade these jobs for the world because, for the first time ever, I feel like I'm truly doing what I love and it's great. But, man. They keep me busy in the best way possible! From shoe orders and shoe rep meetings at the store, to personal training sessions, classes and admin work at the gym—I'm all systems go all the time. Again, it helps that I love my jobs, but there's little wiggle room for play. And most of that wiggle room is reserved for time with the family.

I read a book.
Guys, despite the crazy, I've been doing really well with my "read one book a month" goal for 2017. My latest page-turner was Present over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Neiquist. And it was really good. I'm sure you can imagine (based on this post alone) how it would speak to me on multiple levels. I highly suggest it.

I received another Ellie box.
I literally move from one fitness outfit to the next, and my wardrobe is embarrassingly heavy on the fitness fashion. But, it technically is my professional wardrobe. So I justify every new outfit. Super  grateful to Ellie for sending me the June box:

fitness clothing, fitness fashion, subscription box review
If you live in fitness clothing, you need to check out this fitness subscription service. I have not been disappointed yet...all three outfits have been awesome. $50/month gets you a top, bottom, sports bra and two accessories. This month's accessories (not pictured) were a hat and running belt. $50 might seem like a lot, but you definitely get your money's worth. See the May box HERE.

I spent time at the beach.
Because #summer. I am so fortunate to live along the shores of Lake Michigan. We made a vow to visit the beach at least once a week this Summer because, well...because we can! Twist my arm, I'm down with beach time anytime.

I was featured on two different websites.
Our Favorite 25 Fitness Bloggers of 2017
Motivating Mom Tara

I feel like there's so much more to tell, but at the risk of boring you, I'll stop right here with a promise to keep sharing. So many post ideas in my head! So little time. Boo.

Question: What's one exciting thing you've done so far this month?

Monday, May 15, 2017

NOW Foods: Why this company will change the way you do supplements, oils and more. #nowgetfit

The following post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Now Foods. All opinions are, as per the usual my very own. 

A few weeks ago, I was asked to attend an immersion event at the NOW Foods headquarters with a group of my fellow bloggers. Now Foods is located outside of Chicago, and I was thrilled to receive this invitation. But, life happened. My grandmother passed away.

I stayed home with my family instead of making the trip to Bloomingdale, IL. I had to, it's where I wanted to be. And I'll forever be grateful to social media for giving me the opportunity to follow my fellow bloggers on the adventure. It was a nice break from the tears.

I will also be forever grateful to FitFluential and NOW Foods for understanding why I had to back out at the last minute—and especially grateful to Now Foods for sending me the box of goodies I would have received upon my arrival at the event.

Many bloggers out there talk about NOW Foods. And now I know why. As a certified personal trainer, people ask me all the time about supplements. What they should use and why, and from where they should buy them. My ability to respond is very limited because I am not a registered dietitian or nutritionist, and I don't live in a bustling metropolis with a lot of shopping options. But now (pardon the pun), I can tell them about NOW Foods.

supplements, natural products, now immersion event
This company is wonderful and I've only just begun to learn all there is to know about them. They manufacture natural products which, when you're talking about supplements and personal care, is very important. Plus, the products themselves are quite affordable.

Supplements can get expensive, yes?

And then there's this: NOW is one of the largest independent manufacturers of natural products in the U.S. health food store channel. Buy local, just on a bigger scale! Bonus, their quality control game is on point, something I would have loved to see firsthand at the blogger immersion.

Let's talk about some of the products they offer.
First up, dietary supplements.

probiotic, fiber, curcumin
I'll admit, I'm ultra hesitant about supplements. I'm a daily multi-vitamin kind of girl. But NOW makes it so easy to learn about supplements, that it makes them super approachable. Conversations with your doctor about supplements are enhanced by detailed product packaging and a library full of additional articles attached to each of the product pages online. So super helpful!

Admittedly, I have not yet tried any of the above, but am extremely interested in the respiratory care probiotic after a recent dance with some seasonal allergies. I think I'm going to switch out my normal probiotic for this one for a few days to see if I can finally get myself over this yuck.

Next up, natural foods.

organic living, healthy foods, eat healthy, clean eating, #nowgetfit
I love that, in addition to supplements, they offer healthy foods from which you can get essential nutrients. That organic triple omega seed mix is the perfect addition to any smoothie. Normally, I hesitate to throw nuts and seeds into a smoothie because I don't like that gritty, sand-in-mouth texture. But this stuff blended up wonderfully and added a great pop of nutrition.

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Of course, the quinoa penne pasta was quite good, too. My family had no idea that it wasn't your stereotypical noodle. Chunky sauce for the win:

natural foods, whole foods, pasta, pasta sauce, noodles, healthy carbs
Time to talk about sports nutrition:

NOW Foods, natural supplements, protein powder, BCAA, pre workout mix.
As I said before, this is a hot topic at the gym for obvious reasons. Everyone wants to get the most out of their workouts, and the supplement industry is winning the game. But, not all supplements are created equal, and not all supplements are essential. Here's what I like about NOW sports nutrition products: World-class research and development standards and high-quality ingredients go into every product. No artificial ingredients, colors or flavors. What you see is what you get, and what you get is a premium product.

I put the plant protein complex in the aforementioned smoothie and it was delicious. I've always been a little hesitant about pre-workouts, to be honest. So much caffeine (and it's not even coffee), but I'm learning more and more about BCAAs. Branched chain amino acids. Good for muscle retention and recovery. Long story short: When you exercise, your body breaks down carbs for energy. When it runs out of carbs, it starts eating away at your hard-earned muscles in search of amino acids. Enter the amino acid supplement, which can help prevent this particular type of muscle loss.

I'll play around with the BCAAs and let you know what I think...oh, and I'll also play around with that MCT oil. Word on the street: Bulletproof coffee. You know I'm game for anything coffee.

I also love essential oils and natural home remedies.

essential oils, diffuser, arnica, pain relief
The arnica warming relief oil? So great. I've been using it on my knee and it seems to be working.

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Speaking of oils, NOW essential oils are certified organic and 100% pure. There are a TON of essential oil companies out there. If you want to avoid the "order from me" scheme, you can NOW essential oils from a variety of different places. The store locater on the NOW website will tell you exactly where those places are.

To keep up with NOW Foods, be sure to follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram:

If you want to hear what my fellow bloggers are saying about NOW, click through some of these links. You'll get event recaps, and see some of the products being put to use:

1) What a Healthy Obsession Looks Like
2) Natural, Pure Products for a Happier Healthier Life Now
3) Triple Omega Seed Chocolate Energy Bites
4) Now Foods #NowGetFit Influencer Immersion is SUPER!
5) Blueberry Protein Smoothie
6) Now Foods Immersion Recap

Keep in touch with me, too, as I'll be posting more about NOW moving forward.

Question: Do you use any products from NOW? How do you feel about supplements?

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Ellie Activewear Subscription Box Review, May 2017 #loveellie #ad

The following post is sponsored by Ellie. I received a free box of clothing in exchange for my opinions, They are, as always, my very own.

I have way too much activewear in my closet. When I have to wear real clothes, I feel like I never have anything to choose from. Remember this: I work at a gym (and a running store), so activewear is my professional uniform. But I live in a small town, so shopping is limited. If I find a cute pair of leggings, chances are good that I'll run into someone else wearing them because #tjmaxx and #target. That's all we have to choose from, basically. So when Ellie offered to partner with me, I said yes because #activewear.

activewear, fitness fashion, clothing, fitgear, Marika, Balanced Collection
Ellie is a company that curates a monthly subscription box for fitness folks like you and me. Price? $49.95/month for five items. And yes, they make it really easy to adjust your subscription. Cancelling is easy, and you can also skip a month. If you don't, you'll get a box with a bag that contains one complete outfit and two accessories.

I received the May box.

activewear, fitness fashion, clothing, fitgear, Marika, Balanced Collection
This is not a surprise box, so if you see someone opening their box on Instagram while you wait for yours, you'll be getting what they got. This month, however, they're getting crafty and making a few swaps here and there. This goes along with May's theme: #SquadGoals and #DifferentButSame. Every month has a theme, which is super fun.

So, if you order May's box, you might get an outfit that is "different but same" as the one I got:

activewear, fitness fashion, clothing, fitgear, Marika, Balanced Collection
I've had two Ellie boxes so far, and it looks like a majority of the pieces are coming from Marika right now, with the exception of the leggings above.

Quality: Great.
Fit: True to size.
Style: On trend.

Take a closer look at the back of this month's tank top:

tank top, fitness top, yoga top, fitness clothing, fashion, Marika
It kind of looks like a zipper, yes? I like it. And then, some strap action on the front of an otherwise plain black sports bra:

sports bra, fitness top, fitness gear, fashion, fitfashion
As you know, I am SUPER picky about my workout bottoms. Someone at Ellie knows what's up because both pairs I've received from them were far from see-thru. And incredibly comfortable from a movement standpoint. These leggings are from Balanced Collection, a brand I have never heard of:

activewear, fitness fashion, clothing, fitgear, Marika, Balanced Collection
That mesh, though! Anyone else obsessed with this trend? I think it's really fun in small doses.

Let's get to the accessories:

activewear, fitness clothing, fitgear, marika, balanced collection, monthly box
So, I don't really use an arm wallet when I run. I have a FlipBelt, but...who knows. This may come in handy some day. And speaking of hands, I'm really looking forward to using the hand therapy set. Probably after I type this post. I got a yoga mat towel in last month's box. And a water bottle. So the accessories are well-picked, too.

Verdict? I like the box! I've done other fitness clothing subscription boxes and haven't been as satisfied. I don't like having to send items back that I don't want, and I don't like paying over $50 bucks for something I can't pick out myself. But $50 for an entire outfit (and then some)? That's a pretty good deal, yeah? Especially when it's a deal on stuff that's actually pretty great.

Question: Have any experience with fitness clothing subscription services? Do you like the mesh trend on leggings?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

5 Ways to Help a Sore Knee

Spring has sprung up here in Michigan! Temperatures are rising and so is my desire to run longer and faster. I've done two 5K races already this year, and I've got a wish-list of races that I want to sign up for. But first, I have to rehab my right knee. It's super sore right now. I'm not a doctor or physical therapist, but I have a basic understanding of the muscles—I can tell that my pain stems from a tight one.

Maybe it's my sartorius?

leg muscles, knee issues, ACE Fitness
As you can tell by the picture, the sartorius muscle inserts on the medial side of the knee—where my pain is. If the sartorius is tight, it will pull on the knee joint and cause pain and pressure. That said, I supposed I could also have a problematic gracilis muscle. It also inserts on the medial side of the knee. And then there's always the quads and hamstrings. So, who knows really. It's something.

How did I hurt myself?

It started after an indoor 3-mile run. I did my second mile on the treadmill at an incline, which I don't normally do. So I think the hill tightened everything up.

That's my theory and I'm sticking to it (for right now, anyway).

What's the pain like? Dull, achey tightness. Nothing sharp, no swelling or bruising, which is also why I think the underlying cause is a tight muscle. At the time, I thought it would go away so I went about my business. Read: Classes, yoga, stretching as per the usual. I don't think it got worse, but it certainly didn't get better.

So here I am.
Focused on helping out my sore knee

Because: I signed up for the Soldier Field 10 Mile Run in Chicago on May 27th.

Stupid? Maybe. I don't know. I ran six miles this Sunday and it felt really good. It's the aftermath that killed me. Which, again, I'm taking as further proof that something is tight. Don't worry (mom), I'm being smart about this.

Got a sore knee? You should be smart about it, too.

dealing with pain, knee issues, leg muscles, foam roller
1) Rest and modify as needed.
I've been modifying my classes this week. Read: I haven't been doing any of the leg work. If something hurts, giving it time to rest is best.

2) Hop on a foam roller. 
When your muscles get tight, you have to find a way to release the tension within. Stretching is great, but can be problematic if taken too far on a particularly rigid muscle. I have four different rollers that I am currently rotating through:

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3) Check out your shoes.
Running shoes should be replaced every 300-500 miles, depending. If you suddenly develop problems out of nowhere, it could be that your shoes aren't cushioning or supporting your feet anymore. A potentially easy fix, right? I just purchased a pair of Saucony Freedom ISO shoes and my Kinvaras are still pretty decent, so in my case, I don't think this is the issue.

runchat, running, fitness gear
4) Medicate carefully.
Prescribing medication to any of my clients is not within my scope of practice. I would never tell you what to take...that's a conversation you need to have with your doctor. I can only tell you what works for me. If you choose to try these methods, that would need to be your call. So, speaking from experience, I can tell you that an anti-inflammatory is helping me. But I'm using them sparingly. This stuff, on the other hand, gets used regularly:

arnica gel, biofreeze, muscle pain, yuni beauty
I also bought some epsom salts. Verdict is still out on their ultimate effectiveness, although I did notice my legs feeling better in the hour or so after my bath. And, you know, it was a good excuse to sit in a hot bathtub for 20 minutes.

5) Call your doctor.
Bottom line, you need to respect what your body is telling you. If these easy methods of pain relief aren't working, you need to take it a step further and get an assessment from a qualified physician. Don't mess around with a nagging pain, friends.

Question: What do you do when you've got a sore spot? Ever have knee issues? How did you make them feel better? What's your take on Epsom salt baths?

Thursday, April 13, 2017

So you want to be a runner...

There's something so incredible about the concept of running. It harnesses two of our greatest human sensations: fear and pleasure. In a book appropriately titled Born to Run, author Christopher McDougall explores this concept. "We run when we're scared, we run when we're ecstatic, we run away from our problems and run around for a good time," he writes. And he's right. We run. All of us.

Some of us do it for fitness reasons.
Maybe this is you?

If it isn't, that's perfectly fine. Running isn't the only worthwhile of exercise. But if you want to make it your exercise of choice, then I encourage you to begin. Take that first step, maybe two or three, and see how running make you feel.

Good? That's wonderful.
Bad? Totally normal.

As a beginner, you should know the following...

running, running advice, run chat, running shoes
1) Running is hard, and it always will be.
Consider it a beautiful challenge. Running will constantly push you above and beyond your limit, taking you in and out of your comfort zone every time you lace up.

2) Two steps count, so does a mile or a marathon.
Running can be a team sport, but it's very much an individual battle. It's you, your feet, the road ahead and your determination to rise above what you did the day before.Therefore, every step counts.

3) Forward is a pace.
Running is often associated with racing. To some runners, pace (how fast you run) is everything. To others, it doesn't really matter—and that's perfectly fine—because forward movement of any kind will always generate progress toward the end result.

4) Rest is important.
Once you embrace running and all the joys it can generate, it can very easily become that one thing you need to do every single day. BUT—you must rest. The physical aspects of running will challenge any body, and you need to honor yours at all times. So don't deny yourself a rest day when you need it.

running, run chat, running shoes
5) Good shoes make all the difference.
One doesn't need much to run. sure, you can find a wide variety of accessories that will enhance the experience. Realistically, there's only one thing you truly need—great running shoes. So invest in a pair that makes your feet happy, because when your feet are happy, the rest of your body will be, too.

And therein lies the beauty of running.
You can always find joy in the journey.

Question: Are you a runner? Why do you run?

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

So I'm running a running store...

I worked a lot of retail in college. I started off at American Eagle Outfitters, after which I went to Bath and Body Works, then Abercrombie and Fitch. When I finished school, I moved on to my first job in advertising, but worked a few hours at Express to fund the professional wardrobe. Truth: I hated that job at Express, so I quit retail and focused on my advertising career, which lasted for seven years before I decided to start a fitness career.

While I made the switch to fitness, I worked at a local boutique. But only for one Summer. Fast forward to today: I've been in the fitness industry for almost seven years now, and I'm not leaving it anytime soon.

Guess what, though?
I'm going back to my roots in the retail industry.

I'm running a running store.

running, run chat, run store, Saucony, Kinvara
No, I didn't quit my job at the gym. I am still the fitness director, also a personal trainer and group fitness instructor. That was, and still is, my primary part-time job. I just added another 15 hours a week to my life with this new position at the running store—managing partner, officially.

I have been tasked with revamping a dying running store that has buckets and buckets of potential. Don't worry, I'm not in it alone. My partner is my running buddy, also a personal trainer on my team at the gym. Neither one of us could do it without the other. We wouldn't have the time. But together, we can be the type of manager the store needs. And we are so excited about that.

Also, we're like Willy Wonka in his chocolate factory.
We are literally surrounded by shoes (and desperately trying not to buy them all).

running shoes, running store, run chat
We are meeting left and right with shoe reps. We've checked Saucony and Mizuno off the list, and are anxiously awaiting our scheduled meetings with Brooks, New Balance and TOPO.

Guys, it's so much fun.
A lot of work, indeed.
But, it's so...so much fun.

This is a different type of retail job than I've ever had before. I'm not following corporate rules and punching a clock. I'm making something, a new environment for every local runner in my town. My partner and I are full of ideas. We have a vision, and we cannot wait to bring it to life.

But first, we have to learn this shoe industry thing. How to order, when to restock...all that good stuff. So some of those big ideas have to wait for a minute while we familiarize ourselves with the inventory, for example:

running store, run gear, run chat
We are fairly stocked with all the essentials, but we see room for more. I'm learning so much about running shoes. I'm even getting sneak peeks at shoes that aren't out yet. Really, though—I'm helping people find shoe love, and in doing so, I'm making connections in the community. And that's what we hope to do with the store.

We want to reconnect it to the community.

My partner and I are (hopefully) going to make this store a hub of running activity. This community we live in, it's full of runners. My town is an active town and hopefully this store will be a bigger part of that.

Again, it's hard work, but I'm loving it.
And I'm so grateful for this new opportunity.


Question: Do you have any retail experience? What stores have you worked at? If you frequent a local running store, what makes you go there versus websites on the Internet? 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Protein Truffles

The following post is sponsored by Naked Nutrition. Despite compensation and free product, all opinions are my own, as per the usual. 

I like chocolate. My body needs protein. So when chocolate and protein combine, it generally ends up being a very special treat. This is why, for instance, I usually buy chocolate protein powders. A few weeks ago, Naked Nutrition reached out with an opportunity to test a tub of their whey protein powder. I, of course, chose the Less Naked Chocolate Whey protein powder.

Naked Nutrition, whey protein, protein powder, nutrition, diet, food, supplements
Let's make one thing clear: I am super picky about protein powders. For starters, I am a huge fan of getting necessary nutrients from a well-balanced diet, and I recommend this first and foremost to anyone that asks me if they need a protein shake after they work out. But, I'm also completely realistic. I understand that life doesn't always allow a person to create a well-balanced meal or snack after they hit the gym. And this, I believe, is where a good protein shake can help. And it's how I fit protein shakes into my life.

For example, on Tuesday nights, I teach a Barre Fit class at 5:15PM, followed immediately thereafter by a Buddy Bootcamp at 6:30PM. I often bring a protein shake to the gym with me to hold me over until I get home.

But again, I am super picky about protein powders. So many of them have unnecessary and unclean ingredients in them. This is one of the reasons I agreed to test Less Naked Chocolate Whey Protein Powder. The stuff is pure, hence the name. Take a look:

protein, supplements, fitness, nutrition, protein powder
Now take a look again: There are three ingredients. Grass-fed whey, raw cacao and coconut sugar. That's it. "Nothing to hide." Totally winning, right? Admittedly, this doesn't make it the most potent in terms of flavor. The chocolate is very subtle, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. In addition to drinking it straight up with some water, I used it to create peanut butter and chocolate chip protein truffles.

snacks, protein, protein powder, fitness, nutrition, eat clean
These little bites of yum are about the size of a golf ball, and take minimal time and effort to make, but go a long way in the healthy snack department. Also, chocolate meets peanut butter. Totally winning.

We'll get to the recipe in a second, but you should know that protein powder isn't required. But it will up the protein content of each truffle if you use it. And for what it's worth, they can probably be made with just about any type of protein powder.

Seriously, though. Check out Naked Nutrition if you need to restock. The protein I got will cost you $90 per tub, which is very pricey. But the tub itself has 60 servings of protein, here's what one looks like:

protein powder, chocolate, Naked Nutrition, whey protein, supplements
So do the math. That's about $1.50 per protein shake. And if you use protein like I do, one tub will last you a very long time.

Now it's time for the recipe.

easy to make, snacks, chocolate, whey protein, protein powder, supplements
Source: A Daily Dose of Fit 

• 3 Cups peanuts, processed into peanut butter
• 3 Scoops Less Naked Whey protein powder
• 1/2 Tsp. vanilla
• 1/2 Tsp. honey
• 1 Cup mini chocolate chips
• 2 Bars dark chocolate
• 1 Tbsp. coconut oil

1) Put everything but the dark chocolate bars and coconut oil in a bowl and mix. Refrigerate until solidified enough to form into balls.

2) Create truffles the size of golf balls, then freeze them all for an hour at most.

3) Melt the chocolate bars slowly, adding the coconut oil halfway through.

4) Dip each truffle in the chocolate.

5) Store them all in the refrigerator.

Good luck not eating them all at once. The recipe will make a little more than a dozen truffles, and as you can see, I don't have that many left. Whoops. Eating them like a champ over here, don't mind me.

If you're wondering, this is my dark chocolate of choice:

fitness, nutrition, health, chocolate, chocolate bar, truffle recipe
Question: What's your take on protein powder? Do you incorporate it? Do you rely on it? Do you have a favorite?

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Should you exercise when you are sick?

Doesn’t it feel like everyone is sick? Germs are floating around like snowflakes, landing on every surface and infecting us with illnesses that won’t go away. No one likes to get sick. It’s disruptive. And nowhere is this more evident than at the gym. It can be really hard to exercise effectively when you are sick.

But, is it safe to exercise when you are sick?

fitness, health, exercise

First and foremost, you need to honor your body. It speaks loudly! Rest is often the best medicine, but consulting with your physician will tell you otherwise—and you should always listen to your physician.

You should change your health goals, too. When you are sick, your first goal should always be to get better. Your weight loss or long distance training goals can wait. Setting them aside for a few days will not diminish the progress you’ve made. Instead, it will give your body the time in needs to heal. Exercise ignites a stress response in the body. This isn’t always a bad thing when you’re in good health. But when you’re down, it can be counterintuitive to progress and it can hinder your ability to get better.

Letting your body rest ultimately preps it to push hard when it’s back on top again.

Remember, too, that your immune system is working overtime when you are sick. This makes you susceptible to even more unwanted germs. And hitting the gym will undoubtedly expose you to them. Plus, it will expose others to the germs that you carry.

Do your part to stop the spread of unwanted germs!

That said, there’s a tiny bit of grey area. Some illnesses are worse than others, and some are quite manageable. When you’re lucky enough to catch a manageable illness that doesn’t knock you down for days, you might be well enough to keep up your fitness routine. But if you can answer “yes” to any of the following, then you might want to stick with the “stay home” plan:

• Do you have a fever?
• Is your chest congested?
• Are you having gastrointestinal issues?
• Does your body ache?
• Do you feel more fatigued than usual?
• Are you having strong headaches?

These are all signs that your body is fighting something strong. Give it time to fight. Give it time to heal. Remember, you need to honor your body.

Respect it, too. It’s the only one you’ve got.

Please remember that, although I am a certified fitness professional, I am not a physician. If you are sick and unsure of whether or not you should be exercising, you should absolutely reach out to your physician. If you have fitness questions, you can reach out to me at tara (at) adailydoseoffit (dot) com! I’d be happy to help.

Question: How do you tweak your fitness routine when you are sick? Do you take time off or do you modify your routine?

Thursday, March 9, 2017

10 Ways to Spring Clean Your Fitness (...plus, a prAna clothing review)

The following post is sponsored by prAna through my partnership with Fit Approach. 
I received an outfit in exchange for my honest review. 

The weather in Michigan is so unpredictable, but warmer(ish) temps and a few drops of rain have been giving us that Spring feeling. It's only the very beginning of March, though. Mother Nature has this funny way of playing snowy cold tricks on us through April. So we'll see. But still, it's beginning to look a lot like Spring—so it's time to start thinking about Spring cleaning.

prana, fitness clothing, yoga clothes, fitfluential, sweat pink
Every once in a while, you have to check in with your fitness routine. If it's going well, great! If not, then it's worth it to make some changes, do some things differently, or seek out new methods of motivation. Let's talk about that today. Let's talk about ten ways to Spring clean your fitness routine.

1) Purchase new workout clothes.
If you're like me, you can't walk into Target or TJ Maxx without buying something for the gym. But hear me out—new gear is so motivating! If you're in a rut, or if you've got a bit fitness event coming up, go buy yourself something new to wear. New clothes have this way of motivating you...they have this way of making YOU feel like new.

Consider this Mika Strappy Top from prAna:

yoga top, open back workout top, yoga, prana
It features an open back, but offers up plenty of coverage in the front.

prana, yoga clothes, fitfluential, sweat pink
The material is incredibly soft and movable. Perfect for all of your favorite twists and turns in yoga class:

yoga clothes, fitness clothes, gym clothes, fitfluential, sweat pink
It pairs perfectly with the Chetan Capri, which fits like butter:

yoga tights, yoga capris, yoga clothes, prana spring collection, fitfluential, sweat pink
You might call this a sustainable article of clothing. It is made with recycled, organic and Fair Trade materials. Really, though...they're just super comfortable capris that won't fall down while you move. And the higher waistband is nice for all of those inverted poses you love so much:

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If you want to get your hands on some prAna gear—because you're Spring cleaning your fitness routine—use S4P17DDF at checkout to save 15%!

Speaking of "spring cleaning your fitness routine," let's look at the rest of the list:

2) Hire a personal trainer.
When you don't know what to do, seek help from someone that does! It's that simple. Personal trainers know what to do at the gym. Whether you work with them once a year, twice a month or three times weekly...they'll give you good advice and keep you moving toward your fitness goals. Next time you hit the gym, strike up a conversation with one of the trainers. See if they can help you move past your plateaus.

3) Asses the quality of your running shoes.
If you experience all four seasons, you might be slowly venturing outside again. Before you do, take a look at your running shoes. Check the tread, scope out any obvious wear and tear. And really tune in to how they make you feel while you are running. Need new shoes? Go buy some! (See #1, because new shoes are also motivating.)

4) Decide if what you're doing is actually working for you.
Now is the time to be honest with yourself. Especially if you've set some lofty goals for 2017. Are you still working toward those goals? Is your plan fostering success? If not, decide that you need to make a change. You must be honest with yourself.

5) Try one new thing.
When it comes to health and fitness, you can't let boredom win. Because when your body gets bored, it stops responding to change. And when you need a change, trying something new can be just what the fitness doctor ordered.

6) Read a book related to health or fitness.
If new clothes aren't your thing, maybe a book will reignite your interest in health and fitness. I am currently reading Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight. It reads like a novel and is so incredibly good. Plus, it's getting me psyched for some long-distance outdoor running in this warmer than usual March weather.

7) Buy an amazing water bottle (or at least make sure you always carry your favorite).
Yes, you know—it's important to drink a lot of water. But are you doing that? Are you drinking enough water? If not, get yourself a great water bottle. One that not only functions well, but looks cool, too. Heck, make it an expensive one, because then you'll really want to carry it everywhere!

8) Throw away the comparison trap.
You are you. There is only one of you. Stop looking at someone else and thinking it's how you should be. Be yourself, there is no other. And that's why this world is so amazing. Because we are all different. We all have different goals, and we'll all achieve them in our own special ways.

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9) Clean out your refrigerator and pantry.
If you struggle with healthy eating, take a few minutes and rid your refrigerator and pantry of anything that goes against your healthy eating goals. Just do it. Make room for foods that make a difference in your overall health and well-being.

10) Clean your schedule.
If your workout schedule fell off the calendar weeks ago, put it back on. Right now, get your calendar out, and put it back on. Clear yourself some space on your schedule for, well...for YOU. We can clean our house and our cars, we can clean our 'fridge all we want, but if we don't clean our schedules, too, we'll never find time for fitness.

Whether you take time to complete all ten of the items on this list, whether you do just one or two, be sure to stop and breath for a second. We live in a go-go-go society and so much falls through the cracks because of it. Don't let your fitness fall, too. Take a minute to asses your situation so that you can continue going down a road that promotes the best version of you.

Don't forget to use S4P17DDF to take 15% off your prAna purchase!

Question: Out of these ten action items, which would be the most challenging for you to complete? How do you Spring clean your fitness routine?

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Make Your Own Starbucks Bistro Boxes

It's no secret that I love Starbucks. A warm Cascara latte is the perfect pick-me-up, and their snacks...oh, so delicious! Have you tried the sous vide egg bites yet? Current obsession. Last month, I showed you how I make my own. And today, I'm going to show you how I make something else I like to buy at Starbucks. The very convenient Bistro box.

starbucks, snacks, lunchables, homemade, eat healthy, foodSadly, I can't buy these Bistro boxes at my Starbucks because it's located inside a grocery store. So I don't get them often, but they're my go-to when I'm on-the-go in other places. If you don't know what a Bistro box is, it's very much the adult version of a Lunchable. Perfectly packed food that's easy to eat. Lunchables aren't the healthiest, but thankfully, Bistro boxes are.

So as I'm sure you guessed, I've taken to making my own. I've seen a lot of other people doing this on Pinterest and Instagram. Here's how I do it:

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I have a ton of plastic containers. My husband is always trying to throw some out. But none of them are worthy of the trash bin (in my opinion), but I wanted something that would be tossable...hopefully recyclable, too...and inexpensive. So I bought a set of cheap containers from the grocery store. I'll have no qualms about getting rid of them if need be, and I love that they stack perfectly in my refrigerator.

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Plus, they're a great size for just the right amount of food. In true Starbucks form, I added dairy, a protein, some fruits and veggies, and a carb. Specifically, these little biscuits:

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I put a hard boiled egg, one chunk of cheese, mini peppers, and grapes in with the biscuit. Plus a chunk of super dark chocolate because #dessertalways. You can do anything you want, though. I made five of the same variation. And when I emptied one, I filled it right back up again with whatever else I had on hand.

Here are a few of the Bistro boxes I've made:

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These Bistro boxes aren't the biggest meals you'll ever eat. I don't know about you, but when I'm on the go, I tend to eat less anyway, so they prove to be perfect. I like throwing them in my gym back to snack on in between clients:

Starbucks Bistro Box, food, eat healthy, clean eating, snacks,
Also, it's worth noting, in terms of food prep—these take little to no time to throw together. Make a list of everything you want in your Bistro box and hit the grocery store. (Don't forget to buy some convenient containers, too.)

Question: What would you fill your Bistro box with?

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

30-Minute Barre Workout You Can Do At Home

Are you looking for a quick and effective at-home workout? If so, I have one for you: It's a 30-minute barre workout you can do at home, or anywhere, with or without equipment. Barre workouts move quick and target your major and minor muscle groups simultaneously. I teach barre classes twice a week, and like to incorporate non-traditional barre moves, too. Pulsing, pointing and tucking...sure, this workout does that, too.

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If you're new to barre workouts, or are coming off a medical issue, please consult with your physician before trying this workout. I am an ACE-certified group fitness instructor and personal trainer, but haven't talked to you individually. While this workout is fine for most, it might not work for you. Listen to your body.

Now, for the workout. When I teach Barre Fit at the gym, I typically grab 5-, 8- or 10-pound weights. I don't have a wide variety of weights at home (believe it or not), but I do have these little 1.5-pounders I got at IDEA World a few years ago:

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Whatever works, right? If you don't have weights, your challenge changes: It's less about moving around weights, and more about harnessing the power of your muscles to contract in a way that leaves them challenged.

If that doesn't work for you, remember that any movement is better than no movement at all. Here's the actual workout:

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As noted, you'll need to warm up and cool down appropriately. As for the guts of the workout, you'll do (15) repetitions per exercise, completing the entire circuit (2-3X) through. Maybe more if you want a longer workout.

Here's a video with a shortened version of the entire workout so you can see each move in action:

Some form cues:

1) Knee Pull
Be sure to put your weight into your standing leg, pushing the hips out behind you a little to protect the knee. Be sure to contract your abs as you pull your knee up.

2) Plank to Down Dog w/ Alternating Ankle Taps
If downward facing dog isn't part of your fitness, flip yourself onto your back and connect hands and ankles above your belly. Note: In either situation, touching your ankle isn't a requirement. Using your abdominals to move through the exercise is most important!

3) Front Abductions to Reverse Fly
Note the position of the palms: Facing up toward the ceiling! This increases the intensity of the exercise, and can be modified by rotating the palms toward the ground instead. Try to keep your elbows as close to straight as possible.

4) Wide Squat with Alternating Hip Pulls
As you rotate your hip inward, really pull with your inner thigh muscles. If, however, you've had any type of hip surgery, you will need to consult with your physician before trying this exercises. Rotational restrictions may exist for you.

5) Low Plank with Double Knee Taps
It may look like a modified plank, but it's not! Lightly tap your knees to floor, using every ounce of your legs (quads, glutes, hams) to return back to your plank positing. Also, fight to keep your hips in line with the rest of your body!

Any questions? Reach out: tara (at) adailydoseoffit (dot) com.

Other barre workouts you might be interested in:
30-Minute Barre Workout
Barre Fit: A 30-Minute Workout
60-Minute Barre Workout You Can Do At Home
60-Minute Barre Workout
Barre and BOSU: A 60-Minute Workout

Question: Do you exercise at home or at a gym/fitness studio? What is your go-to at-home workout? 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Running shoes that look like boots? Yes, I want them (because I love @Saucony shoes).

I'm a girl, so I like shoes. Most girls are born this way, it's just a thing (in case you didn't know, but I'm sure you did). I mean, shoes are fun. They are highly functional accessories and we need more than one pair because, well...we just do. No two pairs of shoes are alike. Unless, of course, they are exactly alike:

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I am obsessed with my Saucony Kinvara 7 running shoes. I've clocked miles in a variety of different brands and styles, but these...oh, these Kinvaras are my jam. Never in my life have I purchased a second pair of the exact same running shoes. Theory? There are so many running shoes out there and I want to try them all! Except I like the Kinvaras, and I needed new shoes.

Also, this particular pair matches the color scheme of Daily Dose, so yeah.

Needless to say, I like Saucony shoes.
I had a pair of Triumph 10 running shoes once.
They were great, too.

Now, I'm bouncing around in a pair of Saucony Kineta Relay shoes.

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Technically speaking, they are a neutral running shoe. But realistically, I think they're more of a training shoe. Or a "these are cute and fashionable and go with my athleisure look" shoe.

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I bought them to wear when I'm working. (Translation: Training clients and teaching classes.) My running buddy is also a huge Saucony fan, and this is what he wears when he's working. (Translation: Training clients and teaching classes.) So I trusted his opinion and bought them because I also thought they were pretty cute.

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Guys, they're ridiculously comfortable. Super light weight, breathable mesh upper, and a memory foam insole that gives your foot everything it needs.

saucony, running shoes, gym shoes, workout shoes, fitness, exercise
My only complaint? Not a lot of lateral support, and my running buddy agrees. My foot slides a little from left to right, which is something I notice mostly when I'm doing shuffles or lateral lunges, etc. I think this is a testament to the breathable upper, which is very sock-like.

If you're looking for an everyday runaround workout shoe that's also cute, I'd still recommend the Saucony Kineta Relay. There are a wide variety of colors and styles out there, too.

Speaking of styles.
These shoes literally come in a boot version, too.
Behold, the Saucony Kineta Relay Boot:

gym shoes, running shoes, running shoe boots, fitness, exercise, fashion
I want.

I go to and from the gym all the time, and in the Winter, it's kind of a pain to shift from boots to gym shoes. I like that these function as both, so if I'm running late and need to meet a client, I can technically wear these on the gym floor.

Full disclosure, I have yet to try them on, but I recently ran a race and saw a spectator wearing them. She loved them, and recommended them. So they're on my list.

Other Saucony shoes on my list, because i'm obsessed with the brand:

running shoes, saucony, kinvara, fitness, fashion
1) Freedom ISO
2) Kinvara 8
3) Endorphin Racer 2
4) Type A

Now, I just need to find a way to justify purchasing all of them because I still have two racks full of gym shoes in the basement. (Translation: Because I can't bring myself to throw away the cute ones, even though they're blown out.) I mean, they're still sorta comfortable! Nikes and Mizunos and New Balances and Reeboks, oh my!

Friendly reminder...I'm a girl. We like shoes.

The end.

Question: What's your shoe brand of choice? Do you have a hard time getting rid of gym shoes?


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