At Home Fitness Tips & Equipment

Now that we are all social distancing, the gym is temporarily not a safe place. While I’m going to miss lifting heavy I NEED endorphins to keep my cool. A time of heightened anxiety mixed with a lack of exercise could put me in a state of panic. Luckily, the only equipment required to work up a sweat is your body so for those of you on house arrest, voluntarily quarantined or just don’t feel like leaving your house I’ve put together my five favorite ways to move outside the gym.

*Disclaimer – I am not a doctor or medical professional. Please check with your physician before starting any new workout programs.

**All Amazon links in this blog post are affiliate links.

Yoga With Adriene

Yoga with Adriene is my favorite way to wind down after a long day. I’ve rambled about Adriene on here a couple times but she is 100% worth the hype. She has a yoga for everything! Yoga for when you are hungover, yoga for when you are anxious and some faster paced yoga when you want to get a sweat on. Adriene’s at home yoga programed is designed to require little to no equipment – you honestly don’t even need a mat. I’ll be relying heavily on her yoga videos to keep me sane during my voluntary quarantine.

Blogilates

Cassey Ho, creator of Blogilates, was the first fitness influencer I found. My first ever blog post on here was about starting her program PIIT28 back in 2015. I’ve tried all of her programs at this point. In college I loved her apartment/dorm friendly workouts and post grad she helped wean me back into fitness with the aforementioned PIIT28 program. Cassey is 110% pep! Even though her workouts are no to low equipment she can make all of your muscles burn in a 15 minute video. At this time I personally recommend her free sample PIIT28 videos or anything from her apartment friendly series.

Home HIIT

If Cassey isn’t your cup of tea but you still want to get your sweat on there are SO many other home cardio options. HIIT (high intensity interval training) is my go to cardio. It’s quick, effective, equipment free and still kicks my ass. Some of my favorite fitness influencers who post free HIIT routines are Natacha Oceane, Whitney Simmons and Nikki Blakketter but honestly if you search on youtube SO MANY will come up. If you really want to challenge yourself with HIIT you can purchase resistance bands on Amazon to up your strength.

We also invested in a pull up bar, foam roller and some yoga blocks to help us stay agile while we are sheltering in place.

Play Outside

This only works if the weather is nice and you’re not literally on house arrest BUT nothing boosts my mood and lowers my anxiety more than being outside. I used the word because there is so much more you can do besides walk and run. While right now you may way to avoid touching things like monkey bars or slides, there are still other ways to get in that sunshine. In addition to running you can stretch in the sun, practice a walking meditation, sit outside or go on a bike ride. Sunshine, when we have access to it, helps lower tension and increase endorphins. Apologies if you are trapped in an eternal winter – things will get sunnier eventually.

Dance Party

In the end it’s all about getting your heart rate up and burning off a little tension. If blasting David Bowie and shaking your butt is what makes you happy then hop to it – no need to formalize anything. This is especially helpful for all my fellow extroverts out there who are slowly losing their minds being trapped in their houses. Dance it out babies! Or sing it out! Lay on the floor and roll it out – whatever feels good for you!

These are my top tips for keeping your body moving while we practice social distancing. I’ve posted about this on my Youtube as well. Video included below.

It may feel like a strange new world out there but at least we can keep ourselves healthy and happy with a little in home movement. Let me know in the comments if you have any other ideas on how to beat cabin fever. I’ll be dancing in my living room if you need me.

But Really Tho What Do I Need for the Gym?

But really tho, I haven’t always been good at working out. Need proof? Here’s my first ever blog post about trying Blogilates PIIT28 post grad. Growing up I danced and did gymnastics but after high school I only dabbled in fitness when I had a RunDisney race sneaking up on me. In college if I did work out – I only did cardio. 

There’s nothing wrong with loving cardio or choosing not to lift weights but my 30 minute stints on the stair stepper while watching the Daily Show didn’t get me where I wanted to be physically. After I started doing PIIT28, everything changed. I started getting targeted fitness influencer content and through my own research I learned that lifting weights was the best way to lose fat and change my body in the way that I desired. Now that I’ve learned the error of my ways via fitness influencers like Nikki Blackketter and Whitney Simmons I’ve retired my cardio bunny lifestyle and started pushing heavy things around. My fitness goals went from being small to being strong. 

Now that I’m a regular on the weight room floor, a place that can be SUPER intimidating for women, I’ve learned that there are quite a few items I wanted or wish I purchased earlier throughout this journey. None of these items are essential, especially if you go to a gym that has extra resistance bands laying around, but they help me feel more prepared and confident for my workouts. I’ve broken this down into two lists: equipment and clothes. *Denotes an affiliate link.  

Equipment: 

Barbell Pad: https://amzn.to/3czHpoS *

If you’re trying to get a booty you will need one of these bad boys. This foamy cushion wraps around barbells to protect your hips while doing hip thrusts and your neck while doing squats or lunges. I refuse to do hip thrusts without one of these because they bruise my hips. 10/10 helper to booty gains. 

Lifting gloves: https://amzn.to/2vMDTHh *

I love lifting and I hate blisters so I adore these lifting gloves. They prevent blisters, help me maintain my grip on heavier weights and they prevent my super sweaty palms from dropping things. For a while I was using Brenton’s old lifting gloves and I recently was gifted a new pair and they are a MAJOR improvement. There are a lot of options out there so don’t hesitate to shop around for your perfect fit. 

Wireless Headphones: High End https://amzn.to/2VRZ7Ov * Cheaper Option https://amzn.to/333EbWC *

Much like weightlifting, I held out on wireless headphones for a bit. I have a very hard time finding headphones that fit on my small head and I didn’t want to go all out on any that I would be upset if they got hurt at the gym. After wrapping my Apple headphone cord around my neck at the gym one too many times I decided to give the cheaper ones a try. I love them. They adjust from my small head size to Brenton’s larger noggin. They have a really good sound quality and while they are not completely noise cancelling they’re pretty close.

Resistance bands: Long loop: https://amzn.to/3aAPuIb * Short loop: https://amzn.to/2xcxbKW *

Resistance bands are a god send. Long loop bands are perfect for full body resistance work, core work and assisted pull ups. Short loop bands are ideal for glute activation, added resistance on leg days and hip thrusts. The short loop bands I linked are fabric instead of rubber; I find rubber bands super uncomfortable as they either roll up or start to tear. We have had our fabric bands for two years and they show minimal wear and tear.

Rocking my wireless headphones and lifting gloves

Clothes: 

Clothes are a major confidence builder for me. I love to walk into the gym knowing that my outfit is on point and that my leggings won’t rip down the crotch again (you can visit my TikTok if you want to learn more about the tragic Gymshark leggings tear of 2020). 

Leggings: Queenieke https://amzn.to/38AABnQ *

Queenieke is my tried and true cheap legging brand. Are they as soft as LuluLemon? No. Are they durable? Yes. Are they 10x’s cheaper? Yes! I’ve purchased a couple different styles and I’ve loved all of them. My personal favorites are my all black ones but you can go wild with the mesh detailing and colors. 

Bras: Adidas https://amzn.to/2TMjPNd *

WARNING! I am president of the ibtc so if you have bigger ladies my advice here may be absolutely useless. Adidas sports bras are my go to and I really love that they are marked down on Amazon based on color. I personally love a loud color which makes this a no-brainer for me. 

Shoes: Adidas https://amzn.to/2PWcmKy *

I love Adidas because I have weird, wide, flat feet. Their cloud foam shoes are the only ones that support my archless life without giving me major ankle pain. If you are new to lifting and you want to do heavy leg days I highly recommend using a shoe like this for cardio/upper body days and a flat sole shoe for leg days. Old converse or vans are perfect for this but if you must buy a new pair might I recommend classic converse.

There are so many more fun things you can buy to feed your gym addiction but I consider these the essentials! Check them out, let me know what you end up buying and tell me if I missed anything in the comments. 

But Really Tho – I’m on YouTube

Second big announcement for 2020 coming in hot – I’ve started a YouTube channel! 

I started this channel to share some of the tips I’ve blogged about in another medium. I wanted to make my self development content accessible for everyone so I’ll be working on more videos in the future. 

This first video is an intro to self development with my top tips for making change that sticks. Enjoy my tips, awkward pauses & cheese puns. 

Going forward expect a wide variety of content including work from home vlogs, baking and crafting videos, and chatty moments.

Love you! 

But Really Though, I’m doing Sober October (kind of)

Happy Sober October friends!

If you are not a millennial and have no idea what Sober October is, all you need to know is that people have made a hashtag out of not drinking for the month of October.

The purpose of being sober differs for everyone but the hashtag allows participants to motivate one another and hold themselves accountable. I am unintentionally participating in Sober October because a couple months ago Brenton and I cut back on drinking. We went from drinking on a Friday or Saturday night to grabbing a drink with a friend maybe once a month. We did this because we realized that alcohol wasn’t doing us any good. As much as I love a nice glass of wine (and will still enjoy the occasional glass) cutting back on drinking has benefited me in multiple ways. I wanted to share those benefits with you just in case you needed that extra motivation to take an alcohol break. 

Reduced Anxiety

As someone with generalized anxiety I’ve learned that alcohol (and caffeine) are some of my worst triggers. Having a couple glasses of wine can take me from having a good time to worrying about the wildest things. I recently learned that having enough alcohol to feel like you had a drink the next morning (even if you aren’t hungover) can escalate anxiety for another 7 days. So while we were drinking two glasses of wine once a week I was basically escalating my anxiety and letting it simmer back down just to bring it back up again. Eliminating alcohol has not *fixed* my anxiety by any stretch of the imagination but it has helped reduce triggers. An added bonus is now that I don’t get drunk, I don’t get hangovers which means I no longer get anxiety induced shame-overs (if you don’t know what a shame-over is consider yourself lucky). 

Better Sleep 

I am awful at falling asleep. If I keep my sleep hygiene impeccable I still struggle to fall asleep at night. Adding alcohol to this mix was not helping. The nights we drank we usually stayed up later which caused me to sleep in the next morning breaking my normal bedtime/wake time routine. By cutting out alcohol I’ve been able to get myself in bed WAY before midnight every night and I wake up within an hour or two of my normal weekday wake time. 

Time Management

I honestly did not realize I wasted SO much time drinking and watching TV. We would get stuck in these mindless TV rabbit holes until the early hours of the morning. Now that I am able to keep myself to my weekday wakeup time I’m immensely more productive during the weekend. Eliminating alcohol has changed how I spend my free time and so far that allowed me to tap into my more creative side, work on personal passion projects and be conscious about my veg time. 

*Honorable mention to my skin clearing up. Now I’m not saying I’ll never drink again.

Honestly, I still have the occasional glass of wine or margarita if I feel like it but so far the pros of not drinking outweigh the cons. As someone who doesn’t drink at work events I can promise you that in a healthy work environment no one will care or notice if you decide to skip the booze and go for a soft-drink or water. So, even if you’re a few days late to the party – are you giving Sober October a try? 

How I Got Over my Gymposter Syndrome

Believe it or not, I’ve had gymposter syndrome. I was not always brave enough to walk on the weight room floor.

My journey to the squat rack was not overnight. I’ve always loved the idea of lifting weights but I was afraid I would get bulky or look hurt myself. In high school I took a weight lifting class for PE but refused to do any movements that I thought would jeopardize my gymnastics and dance classes. In college I refused to use the weight room floor because I had no idea how to lift weights and I was intimidated by all the frat stars on the squat rack. Even when Brenton and I started going to the gym together in 2016 I was a strict cardio only kind of gal. It wasn’t until I found the fitness community on Youtube/Instagram that I realized weight lifting was going to be the best way to lose my post grad weight and build my booty.

Now I’m out of my booty builder phase and all about getting strong, but I’m thankful to the booty builders for getting me to the gym floor. Reflecting on my journey, I’ve realized the hardest part was getting over my “gymposter” syndrome and realizing that I am allowed to take up space on the gym floor.

Here are some of my tips for getting over fitness imposter syndrome 

  • A gym buddy. I know this won’t work for everyone, but if you can try to find someone to go with you. Having someone with you will help you feel less alone on the gym floor. If I hadn’t had Brenton to go with me to the gym it would have been a lot harder to get there. Another option would be to hire a personal trainer or take a free training lesson at your gym to get acquainted with all the equipment.
  • Follow a program. It is so much easier to try a new move if you can watch someone else do it first. I started by following Youtube or Instagram workouts from Meggan Grubb, Whitney Simmons, Robin Gallant and Nikki Blackketter. From there I took the leap and bought my first Natasha Oceane program. Brenton and I have now worked through three of her programs and we are loving the results.
  • Stand up for your space. As a small woman I have had multiple men try to make me move or tell me that I am doing a move wrong. After enduring unsolicited advice for the last four years I’ve realized I can just ignore them. I promise that there is a magical and empowering feeling to just stare blankly at a gym bro who is trying to intimidate you. 
  • Noise cancelling earbuds. These are super helpful for the above. You can’t mansplain weightlifting to me if I can’t hear you. It’s also a great way to annoy your partner by not noticing their screams for you to help them. 
photography of woman listening to music
Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com
  • Confident gym music. Some days I lift listening to NPR’s Up First but most days I need some awful sugary pop to get me through my workout. Either create a playlist or find one that fits your needs.
  • Buy some fun gym clothes. Nothing is more motivating to me than being allowed to shop. When I first started working out I set myself mini goals and when I hit them I bought myself a new gym item or new shoes. To this day I am more motivated to go workout if I look cute. Don’t underestimate the motivator and the confidence of a good outfit.  
  • Don’t give up. Some mornings I get to the gym and want to turn around and go home BUT I have never regretted finishing the workout. It’s ok to take rest days or skip that morning workout to sleep in but the more consistent you stay the easier it is.  
  • Try a different workout if it’s not making you feel good. My favorite YWA phrase is “find what feels good” and I have applied this to all of my workouts. If I don’t like how a move feels I modify. No need to force yourself into submission if something doesn’t feel right. 
  • Pick non-peak times. I HATE going to the gym in between 5-7pm. I am a morning gym goer because a crowded gym is wildly unmotivating for me. I do not feel confident when I am being crowded on by big dudes so I always try to pick non-peak times. If I end up going during a peak time I pick a machine and or free weights and stand my ground (see number 3).  
  • Remember that everyone else probably does not give two shits about what you are doing. The moment I acknowledged that I was doing this to make myself feel good I was able to push everyone else out of my mind. 
  • These are my 10 tips for fighting gymposter syndrome and getting shit done at the gym. Did I miss anything? Leave your tips in the comments below! 

    Diet Culture & Why I Will Never go on Another Diet

    Diets are a lie fed to us by diet culture telling us that we are no more than what we look like under the guise of being “healthy”. Unless you are on a diet for a health concern that a licensed professional has determined is the best option for you, diets are not healthy.  

    What is Healthy?

    We all have our own interpretations of what healthy looks. By definition, health is a combination of physical, mental, social, and emotional wellbeing. Yet, we often refer to people as looking healthy or unhealthy based on size. Size is not an indicator of health it’s just a factor of genetics, priviledge, and other variables, This is fatphobia and it is a product of diet culture. As a fatphobic society we take our fatphobia a step further and inaccurately associate health with diets. 

    Since society skips the holistic approach and tries to determine health based off physical appearance, the wellness industry has fed us diet culture to keep us wanting more. We all want to look “healthy” (skinny, abs, thin). The diet industry convinces us that we just need to try their products to become the epitome of health. 

    agriculture basket beets bokeh
    Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

    Have you ever Googled “Healthy Diet”? The first thing that comes up is a WebMD article titled “11 Simple Steps to a Healthy Diet”. All this article does is encourage you to swap “bad” food like mayo for “healthier” options like mustard. A food swap won’t make you any healthier, but it will create a mental boundary around a food you may actually enjoy potentially harming your mental health. This is diet culture in action. It tells us we have to only eat “good” foods and exercise everyday. Having a little mayo on your sandwich may not be the best for your physical health but it might be perfect for your mental health. Diet culture feeds off our desire for health but it assumes that we only care about our physical well being. 

    Fit Tea and Diet Culture

    To make things even worse, stars buy in to diet culture. They feed their fans the lie of diet culture in the form of detox teas or flat-tummy tea. The diet industry loves our insecurities around our tummys and make $64 billion dollars a year off of us.

    So let’s all take a minute and say “screw you diet culture.” I will no longer contribute to the BILLIONS diet culture makes off of a lie about the definition of health. If you want to eat whole wheat bread, eat it! If you want to go on a run, run! If you want to stretch on the floor while watching tv, do it! If you want to watch Veronica Mars and eat popsicles, have at it! Just make sure you are doing it because it contributes to your health holistically and not just on attribute. I love movement, fitness and nutritious foods but we are all more than our bodies. Are you ready to quit caving in to diet culture and start living a truly healthy life? I am.