' Adventures with FitNyx: January 2016

Sunday, January 31, 2016

MRM Driven Pre-Workout Review

Pre-workout supplements are a little tricky for me.  I have a caffeine sensitivity and generally try to avoid it, but sometimes I know my upcoming gym schedule is going to be TOUGH!  Pre-workouts provide extra energy and often contain additional ingredients to aid in muscle recovery or muscle gain, allowing me to get more out of my workout than I would normally.  Some of the pre-workouts I've tried have left me intensely jittery and had other less-than-desirable side effects, so I'm still on the hunt for a pre-workout that works for ME.

I chose MRM Driven over other supplements because it is all-natural AND contains creatine.  Other artificial pre-workouts had me going crazy and getting paranoid, thanks to the synthetic sources of caffeine.  Driven does not give me the same overly tense effects.  I still get an energy boost, and often find it difficult to sleep if I work out in the evening, but I definitely do not suffer from the same intense caffeine side effects of other products.  Occasionally I have itchy skin or mild nausea, but this seems to be linked to the foods I've consumed on those particular days - when I eat healthier during the day, I have fewer side effects. 

The flavor of the mixed berries is okay, but not great, and the powder does not dissolve very well, leaving a dry grittiness to the texture.  I've seen reviews for their other flavor (strawberry kiwi) and it sounds like maybe that's the better flavor choice for this particular supplement.  Overall, though, I found MRM Driven to be drinkable and effective, especially on days when I teach back to back strength and endurance classes and NEED to show up with my A-game and plenty of energy!

Do you take pre-workout?  What's your go-to brand?  Do you have problems with the caffeine content?

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Weekly Roundup - January 25th through January 29th

Another exciting week on the blog and in my life!  I've been receiving a LOT of interesting products to try, and not all of them have been winners!  Plus, linkups and goal setting and runfessions!  Here's what you missed this week from Adventures with FitNyx!

Monday - The Weekly Chase: Back to Strong

Getting in the habit of setting weekly, small-scale goals is already helping me focus my energies and get things done!  This week, it's time to start working on upper body strength again, which I let slip over the holidays (in favor of eating more, whoops).  What goals did you set this week?

Tuesday - Total Fitness Gear Running Belt Review

With hundreds of companies trying to cash in on the fitness marketplace, not every product can be a winner.  I tried a new running belt and was intensely disappointed with its performance.  And from the comments I've received so far, it sounds like there's a much better product to meet my running needs!

Wednesday - Sapphire Soul January Unboxing: New Moon Wishing

My fitness plan for 2016 includes not only body, but mind and soul fitness.  When I discovered Sapphire Soul back in October, I didn't know how big of an impact this box service would have on my life, but for the past few months the magic of Sapphire Soul has been helping me reconnect with my own spirituality.  The January box offers a comprehensive guide to making 2016 a year full of dream fulfillment and success, and I'm LOVING it!

Thursday - Blueberry Muffins and a Kitchen Scale

I hear a lot about food portioning and using a kitchen scale to better measure out what you're eating, which can assist in cutting back on needless calories.  I'm not quite ready for all the math of food portioning like that, but I definitely wanted to start playing with a scale so I can someday add that to my nutrition plan.  Check out my favorite blueberry muffin recipe, too!

Friday - January Runfessions

In this monthly linkup, fitness bloggers confess... well, whatever we need to get off our chests!  It's the first Runfessions of 2016, and it's also my first time participating, but it can actually be a little relaxing to throw some of these thoughts and confessions out there on paper/screen.  Do you have anything to Runfess?

Supplement Sunday sneak peek: MRM Driven pre-workout.  Though I have a caffeine sensitivity, I still like to take pre-workout on especially tough gym days.  Someone suggested a more natural caffeine source might not be so bad - but if you wanna know if it worked, you'll have to check back in tomorrow!

What were some of your highlights this week?  Any exciting plans for the weekend?

Friday, January 29, 2016

January Runfessions

Alright, it's time for another linkup!  At the end of every month, us fitness bloggers share our Runfessions - about running, lifting, working out (or not working out), or whatever we have to get off our chests!  Thanks so much to Marcia at Marcia's Healthy Slice for hosting!


Runfession #1: We'll start with an actually running confession - I've hardly been running at all lately.  I started this blog because I was getting deep into the racing scene in Chicago, and I was truly loving it!  Right now, I'll blame the cold and snow and ice for why I'm not lacing up more often, but the truth is that I'm focusing so much more on teaching fitness classes and building muscle through lifting and cross training.  Hopefully I'll re-inspire myself to run more again when it warms up, at least for the puppy's sake!

Runfession #2: Related to #1, this blog is kind of becoming not-a-running-blog, and I'm not sure how I feel about that.  I started blogging for two reasons: to keep myself accountable as a newbie runner, and to help inspire others the way other bloggers inspired me when I was beginning this fitness journey.  Over the year and a half since I started, this blog has evolved along with me, and I'm trying to accept that it's okay for these changes to happen.  I have some new things I want to try here, and hopefully people will keep reading.  I do know that blogging DOES still keep me accountable to some of the fitness commitments I have made, and that much I KNOW I like!

Runfession #3: I'm starting my new job pretty soon as a race director (maybe that'll help me run more eh?) and I'm incredibly nervous about it.  There's no doubt in my mind that I can handle the job and excel at it, but it's a big career switch, and one that I want to last for a very long time.  I've never had a job that I truly expected to love, so my biggest worry is that maybe I won't enjoy it as much as I expect I will.  I'm getting a little old to keep assuming I can switch careers easily or even at all, so I really want to both enjoy and perform at this new job so I can finally have an actual "career path."

Runfession #4: I turn 30 in a little over a week.  'Nuff said there, right?

What runfessions do you have?  What's your dream job, and are you lucky enough to be in it right now?  How do you handle nervous jitters?

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Blueberry Muffins and a Kitchen Scale

In an effort to eat healthy (versus the atrocious diet I usually follow) I'm once again trying to make more smoothies and make more meals and snacks at home in my own kitchen, rather than relying on fast food and junky snacks.  I'm also considering starting to focus on portion control, but that's still something that intimidates me and feels like more work than I'm ready to handle just yet...  Either way, I thought it might be useful to have a kitchen scale around for accurate measuring.

Disclaimer: I received this product at a discounted price in exchange for my review.  All opinions herein are my own; I did not receive any additional compensation for my review.

The SmartWeigh digital scale is small, compact, lightweight, and easy to clean and store - which makes it perfect for my current bumming-a-room lifestyle!  I can pull it out when I need it, or tuck it away when not in use.  It also runs on battery power, so I don't even have to worry about finding an open outlet (which in this kitchen can sometimes be nigh impossible).  The detachable bowl is plastic and wipes down quickly after use, but it does seem a little flimsy and I'm a little worried it might snap if I drop it!  I'm sure it would be simple to substitute another container should that happen, though.

The buttons are simple and switching between different units of measure is fluid and simple.  The digital screen lights up, making the numbers stand out for easy reading.  I really liked using the scale for measuring portions of fruits for my smoothies - when I find that perfect combination, I love being able to recreate it precisely the next time!  I've also been using it for recipes, and I'd like to share one of my favorites today: blueberry muffins.  These light, fluffy muffins are made with sour cream, which makes them extra moist!  And if that doesn't sell you on them, let Shawn Spencer give it a try:

You'll Need:

268g and 32g all purpose flour (divided)                  1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder                                                  1/2 tsp table salt
1 large egg                                                                 189g and 61g sugar (divided)
165g reduced-fat sour cream                                     1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup fat-free skim milk (divided)                          2 cups blueberries
2 tbsp salted butter (melted)

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare muffin liners or baking cups.
  • In a large bowl, combine 268g flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat egg with 189g sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy.
  • Add sour cream to sugar and egg mixture, beat until thoroughly combined.
  • Blend in vanilla extract to sour cream mixture.
  • Add half of flour mixture and half of milk to sour cream mixture; beat until combined.
  • Add remaining flour mixture and milk; beat until smooth.
  • Fold in blueberries and fill each muffin liner or baking cup about 3/4 full.  Set aside.
  • To make streusel topping, combine remaining 32g flour and 61g sugar.  Pour in melted butter and combine with fingertips.  Divide crumb mixture over muffins; gently press into top of batter with fingertips.
  • Bake until slightly golden brown, about 30 to 35 minutes.
  • Cool in pan for about 10 minutes then transfer onto cooling racks.

Deeeeeeeeelicious!  Especially that crumbly streusel topping.  And really, if you're not a blueberry fan, you can substitute your favorite berry in the recipe instead!  Or maybe even chocolate chips...

Do you use a kitchen scale for portioning?  How about for recipes?  Or smoothies?  What's your favorite or your go-to recipe when you get the itch to bake?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Sapphire Soul January Unboxing - New Moon Wishing

It's no secret: I am head-over-heels in love with Sapphire Soul.  Part of my "fitness" lifestyle includes mental and emotional fitness, and receiving these Mindful + Mystic subscription boxes is helping me get back in touch with my spiritual self for a healthier soul.  My shooting star arrived the other day with January's box, and I could barely contain my excitement!  Even the Sapphire Soul packaging (this month a giant, shiny, sapphire-blue envelope) brightens my day - my shipping label says "You can make a wish, you can make it happen, you WILL make 2016 the Best. Year. Ever."  It's been my goal to have 2016 be MY year, and I think it's just another sign from the Universe that even my packages believe in me!

Of course, the label isn't just talking about me.  ALL of us can make 2016 the Best. Year. Ever.  And that's why Sapphire Soul compiled this amazing box to kick off the new year.  Rather than just sending an assortment of mystical items based on a theme, this box is actually a guide for a new you!  Sure, there are a few metaphysical toys to play with, but the focus of January's set is the New Moon Wishing program.

Disclaimer: I received my box at no cost in exchange for my review.  All opinions expressed herein are my own.  This post contains affiliate links.

Developed by Sapphire Soul founder Allison Dailey, the New Moon Wishing guide around which the January box is built provides essential parts for your "soul toolkit."  New moon energy promotes growth, and this phase is perfect for launching new beginnings.  Dailey's practices outline ways to harness that energy, while also encouraging the notion of co-creating - that is, taking an active role in the pursuit of your future.  She draws an important distinction between simply wanting change and "going through the process of wishing for it."  When you participate in this wish process, you are taking control of your desires and manifesting your dreams rather than sitting back and waiting for the Universe to just give you what you want.  Making the wish in your head is not enough; you must make it in your heart, then make it over and over again with your intentions and actions.

Missed the January box?  That's okay!  The New Moon Wishing
guide is available year-round!  Get it here!

The New Moon Wishing program includes information on moon phases and crystals, ideas for creating sacred space, and ideas for how to practice your own New Moon Wishing rituals.  Though Dailey writes about the practices she has developed over the years, your wishes are your own, so why shouldn't your wishing practices be your own as well?  Dailey encourages participants to adapt her rituals and methods into something more personal.  Her guide provides all the insights and directional advice for how to approach wishing as an active process, but it is up to you to really make the practice your own!

My packet contained additional items to help enact my wishing rituals, too.  One of the steps to fulfilling wishes is making your desires known to the Universe - and one of the best ways to tell both the Universe and yourself that you are dedicated to a wish is to write out what you want in detail.  The New Moon Wishing practice included in this month's kit suggests keeping a journal dedicated to mindful wishing, so Sapphire Soul provided a delightfully cute crystal-filled pen for participating in the wishing packet and keeping your journal!  As always, the crystals have been infused with good vibes - and in this case, a little extra sun and moon light energy!

I also received a small box of moon incense, which perfectly compliments this month's new moon ritual theme.  It smells wonderful and will be a much more apropos to my wishing ceremonies than any of the more generic incenses I've accumulated over the years.

Finally, I received a moonstone and crystal pendant.  Breathtakingly beautiful, these stones are a great way to channel moon energy.  According to the must-have moon crystal guide (included in the New Moon Wishing packet), moonstone is used for personal reflection, and channeling visions and dreams.  Clear quartz is an excellent stone for healing and invigorating overall energy levels.  Combining the two stones ought to generate substantial positive vibes for making dreams come true!

The next new moon will occur on my birthday, so you can be certain I will be practicing my New Moon Wishing as I leave the hectic 20s and enter what will hopefully be the amazing 30s.  I suppose it's up to me how amazing these years are - after all, if I take an active role in my wishing, I can make it happen!

HEY BONUS!  Today's Wednesday Word happens to be OPTIMISM!  What a perfect tie-in to the Sapphire Soul wishing theme!  Optimism is all about believing that the best not only can happen, but will happen.  But optimism is only one part of finding success.  There's an old blonde joke (sorry blondes) that talks about a woman who keeps praying to win the lottery but despite her devout belief in God's power, she never wins.  She asks God why he won't help her win the lottery.  God replies "I'd love to help, but first you have to buy a ticket!"  Optimism is crucial in making the future as bright as you can imagine, but you have to follow up on belief with action.  New Moon Wishing is just one example of how optimism plus action equals an amazing future!

Deb Runs

Don't have the Sapphire Soul magic in your life yet?  First-time orders placed by 1/29 (Friday!) can use code GARNET to receive a free garnet stone with your shipment.  This is a great addition to the What Color Is Your Love crystal box coming out in February - a delightfully mystical twist on traditional Valentine's chocolates!

Allison Dailey is offer a couple of interesting self-development courses as well - more gear for your "soul toolkit"!  You can join her 28-day Dreamcatcher Challenge, a daily program to create deeper self-understanding and to explore your personal curiosity; use code 28NEWMOONS for $28 off the enrollment fee.  She'll also be leading one-on-one Desire Mapping programs, another way to become a co-creator of your own future with personal guidance from a truly sparkling soul!  You can also receive $28 off the cost of Desire Mapping workshops with code 28DESIRE.

Sapphire Soul is also releasing their first-ever quarterly box starting in March!  Described as "boho-chic luxury," the quarterly boxes promise to take subscription boxes to a whole new level of excitement!  Curious mystics can check out the first quarterly at a discount, using code MGODDESS for $28 off the March quarterly box.  Or you can stick with the monthly subscription in March and tap into your inner Moon Goddess instead!

What are you wishing for in 2016?  What types of boho-chic items would you like to see in the quarterly boxes?  What other types of subscription boxes would you be interested in receiving?

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Total Fitness Running Belt Review

Though I haven't been doing much running lately, when I DO run, I usually take the puppy, which means I definitely won't have free hands while I'm on the road!  I've had a couple fitness belts over the past couple years but I'm always looking for the right combination of fit, ease of use, and security.  I had the opportunity to try a Total Fitness Gear running belt this month, which offered a clip-release alternative to the pull-on running belt I've been using.

Disclaimer: I received this product at no cost in exchange for my review.  All opinions expressed herein are my own.

When I opened the package and saw a safety clip and an elastic band, I was a little excited - my previous running belt had to be slipped over your feet or your head, making it difficult to take on or off, and didn't have as much elasticity for adjusting over layers of clothing. Unfortunately, when I actually put the Total Fitness Gear belt on and went for a run, I found it completely unusable. The ONLY positive I can cite about this belt is that safety clip!

First, the pouch is difficult to unzip even while standing still, and almost impossible to access while running (and completely impossible when I tried with my gloves on), which means I wouldn't be able to grab my phone quickly in an emergency.  Second, the elastic is adjustable, but only to a point - and that point isn't small enough for my body.  I'm a little thin but I'm far from a stick; I have a very typical runner's build.  Did the people who designed this belt ever see a runner's body?  Forget having to worry about whether it'll stretch over layers, this belt can't get tight enough to fit me at all!  And finally, because I couldn't get it to fit my waist, my phone and keys spent my whole run bouncing every which way.   I had this belt alternatively up my shirt and sliding down my legs.  I had to cut my run VERY short because it was agony to have this thing bouncing all over the place, and there's no chance I'll be wearing it again.

My other gear is WAY better, clearly.  Best gloves ever.

This was an incredible disappointment.  I'll be sticking with my FlipBelt for now, even though I sometimes hate having to pull it over my legs to get it on - at least it stays in place and is easily accessible mid-run!  If you're looking for a running belt, I definitely do NOT recommend the TFG belt, stick with something a little more usable and better fitting.

What's your favorite piece of running gear?  Do you have a go-to running belt?  Do you run with water/use a hydration belt instead?

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Weekly Chase: Back to Strong

Happy Monday!  Once again I'm checking in with the Weekly Chase linkup to set some goals for the week.  Instead of once again rehashing last week's goals (which aren't quite achieved yet, but I still have time), I'm setting a couple simple goals for my fitness regimen.  I've let a couple things slide in the past couple weeks and it's time to get back on it!

  • Push ups every day!  I've already started working on this one, but I want to make it "official" as a goal this week!
  • More core work.  I get a jump start on this tonight because I'm subbing a core class, but I'm trying to add some at-home core exercises to compliment my push ups every day.
  • At least one day each week working on arm/upper body strength.  Historically my weakest area, but hopefully no more!  I'd been good about this before the holidays but somehow ended up slacking off the past couple weeks, so I have to get back in the habit.
  • Run at least once a week.  This is a weather-permitting goal, as I can't stand the treadmill and usually want to take my puppy anyway.
  • Box at least once a week.  Another habit that took a back seat over the past couple weeks, but really needs to resurface.  I went again this past weekend and remembered why I love it so much!
Some of these goals will probably carry over week to week, but as I establish better routines once again, I'll tweak and adjust as needed.  After all, that's an important part of goal setting: understanding when it's time to make a few little changes!

Road Runner Girl

What weekly goals are YOU chasing?  How well did you accomplish last week's goals?  Check in with hosts Road Runner Girl and Molly Ritterbeck to see how everyone's Weekly Chase wrapped up, and how they're all moving forward in the new week!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

BiPro USA Protein Powder Review (GIVEAWAY)

Ahhhh protein powder, we meet again!  I've been learning more and more about the importance of protein in my diet, and with the atrocious diet I typically consume (working on it, I swear) the best way for me to consume enough protein is through supplements.  There are probably hundreds of protein powder brands on the market at this point, and it's hard to tell many of them apart!  Most of the basic brands offer similar protein content, with only the bodybuilder-level brands packing much more added benefit, but it's easy to tell which brands taste great and, with a little long-term attention, which brands are going to provide the best protein solution for your diet.

This week I'm reviewing my experiences with BiPro USA, a company that makes whey protein isolate powder in three flavors.  They just reformulated their product (replacing sucralose with all-natural sweeteners) and asked me to give their powders a try.  I was more than happy to oblige and share my thoughts with all of you!

Disclaimer: I received BiPro product at no cost in exchange for my review.  All opinions expressed herein are my own.

BiPro powders come in chocolate and French vanilla flavors, which are typically the most popular flavors in the protein supplement market.  In my experience, vanilla protein powders are very difficult to do well, as the flavor often falls very flat.  The BiPro powder was no different: in water, the French vanilla has almost no flavor at all, and in milk it actually tasted like the milk (which was fresh) had turned sour.  Both milk and water mixes had a very unpleasant odor, too.  NOT appealing!  I'm not sure if this has anything to do with the change of ingredients, but it was not what I wanted in a protein powder, and I didn't consume more than a couple packs.

The chocolate powder definitely had more flavor and less unpleasantness, but it was surprisingly thin for a protein shake.  Usually with other powders my shakes are rich and creamy, and I actually feel like I could consume them as meal replacement; the BiPro chocolate powder was too thin to satiate any hunger, and not very rich.  It'll do in a protein pinch, but wouldn't be my first choice.

Fortunately, chocolate and vanilla aren't the only powders BiPro offers.  I also received some of their unflavored powder, about which I was skeptical at first.  I've tried a couple "unflavored" powders in the past and they were AWFUL.  My desire for unflavored protein stems from my love of smoothies: I make a lot of fruit-based smoothies, so I'm consuming a lot of sugar, and like to try to offset that intake with protein supplements.  Previous powders made my normally delicious smoothies taste like chalk.  Very gritty, didn't blend well, weren't actually "unflavored" at all...  But the BiPro powder blended perfectly.  Smoothies I made with the unflavored powder were delicious and still tasted like fruit-only blends.  I didn't taste any grittiness, nor any additional flavoring.  BiPro's unflavored powder actually delivered, big time!

Don't want to take my word for it?  That's okay - BiPro has generously offered to give away a protein powder prize pack to a lucky reader!  The winner will receive two boxes of individual serving packets (one box each of chocolate and vanilla), as well as a one-pound tub of the unflavored powder that rocked my smoothie world!  You can enter using the Rafflecopter below before this giveaway ends on February 2nd at midnight.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What's your go-to protein powder brand?  What other supplements do you use as part of your diet or exercise plan?

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Weekly Recap - January 18th through January 22nd

A look back at this week on Adventures with FitNyx!  I missed yesterday's Five Friday post due to an unexpected and large project at work that took my time and focus, but I still had some exciting posts to share!

Monday - The Weekly Chase: New Job Prep Part 2

I followed up on the goals I set last week, and outlined what still needs to be done.  Some of my goals are still a little broad but I'm making progress and should be ready in time for that new position to start!

Tuesday - A Valentine's Alternative

Though Valentine's Day is still a few weeks away, it's never too early to start practicing self-love.  My life has been crazy over the past couple years, but I've learned that the more time I devote to showing love for myself, the easier it is to move forward and find joy in life.  Tuesday's post talked a little more in-depth about the ways I've been celebrating self-love, and gives some suggestions for how you can too!

Wednesday - Quality vs Quantity

Another week, another Wednesday Word!  This week we talked about quality, and my take on the word was an emphasis on workout quality over number of workouts.  Last fall I amped up my training schedule and started to feel burnt out, but by decreasing my workouts I was able to put more energy and quality into what was left, so I could continue making progress and keep enjoying what I do.

Thursday - RIM Sports Lifting Gloves Review

Though I've reviewed other gloves, this is the first pair I've tried that combines the grip and hand protection of traditional gloves with built-in wrist wraps for added wrist support.  It's also the first time I've done a video review!  The gloves were a great combo; I'm hoping to try other RIM Sports lifting equipment in the future!

Supplement Sunday sneak peak: BiPro USA Protein Powder!  Tomorrow I'll be reviewing the new protein blend from BiPro USA, which comes in three flavors.  Which was my favorite?  You'll have to check in tomorrow to see!

What are some of your highlights from this week?  Anyone stuck in the east coast snowpocalypse?  How'd you manage your workout schedule if you were snowed in?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

RIM Sports Lifting Gloves Review

Lifting gloves.  Yup, I've already reviewed a couple different pairs, and really liked 'em, so why am I still reviewing more gloves?  The answer is simple: this is a very different type of lifting glove.  Unlike other pairs I've tried, these RIM Sports gloves are innovative: rather than needing a separate pair of wrist wraps, these gloves have the wrist wraps attached to the lifting glove itself, providing an all-in-one piece of lifting gear!  Since I hadn't tried anything like this previously, I just had to give them a go and let you know how it went.  BUT, since I have written several other glove reviews, I'm going to keep the writing here short, and instead talk to you via my first-ever VIDEO review about my experience with RIM Sports gear.

Disclaimer: I was provided a pair of gloves at no cost in exchange for my review.  I received no additional compensation.  All opinions expressed herein are my own.

I really liked having both grip gloves and wrist wraps all combined - especially for my POUND classes, when I need my wrists locked and stable but also need extra grip on my very slippery sticks.  Not having to try to fit wraps under gloves that aren't meant to go together makes it much more convenient to combine support and grip.  The only downside to the convenience of the RIM Sports gloves is that you can't actually separate the two, should you need only one or the other.  For that reason, I'm still keeping a pair of gloves and a pair of wraps in my gym bag, in case I really only need one or the other.

The material was very comfortable, and the wrist wraps gave me TONS of much-needed support, but I had to be careful about pulling the wraps too tight.  When I cinched my wrists up tightly, it pulled down some of the fabric between my fingers, which over time got uncomfortable.  The palms of the gloves are nicely padded, and the back of the hand is a very breathable mesh that helped manage hand sweat and keep me cool throughout my workout.  The smalls were a very good fit for my little hands, too, so I would say these gloves run pretty true to size.

Want to know more?  Check out my YouTube video for a full review!

So there you have it - not just another pair of gloves!  Probably my favorite overall piece of lifting gear (so far) but not a complete replacement for separate wrist and hand gear.  Also, though I know the quality of my camera was lacking, I'm pretty happy with how my video came out, and am considering doing more video content in the future.  It's great for reviews, especially items that need demos, but it's even better for workouts and exercise demos, so keep an eye out for more videos posted here and to my YouTube channel, which I hope to build up over the next few months!

Have you tried lifting gloves or wraps yet?  Do you think you'd like having them both together in one product?  What'd you think of my video review?  Do you want to see more video content here in the future?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Quality vs Quantity

A couple months ago, I was starting to feel like I'd hit a wall in my training.  I was doing so much - teaching six classes a week, boxing regularly, weight training on my own time, running with my dog - but I wasn't feeling any stronger or seeing any measurable results.  Rather, I was feeling burnt out, constantly exhausted, and sometimes straight up sick.  I took a step back and looked at what I was doing, and realized that I was juggling so much quantity that I had lost my ability to work out with quality.  And wouldn't you know, that's this week's Wednesday Word!

In the past few weeks I've taken a step back and trimmed down my schedule a bit.  I'm teaching fewer classes but I have so much more energy and enthusiasm for them; my students can tell I'm doing better than I was a couple months ago.  I haven't been to boxing in a while, which makes me a little sad, but I have made good use of the time and, considering the last few times I boxed I ended up throwing up, my health has appreciated it for a while too!  Hopefully I'll start getting back into it soon, but I definitely needed the recharge.  My running always slows down when it's snowy and cold, so that's also giving me a bit of a break.

By recognizing I was sacrificing quality in favor of quantity, I was able to adjust and reinvigorate myself.  When I can straighten out my schedule and get back into some of the things that have taken a backseat lately, I'll be rested and ready to hit it hard again, allowing me to train with intensity and reap the benefits.  So much of fitness relies on the quality of the work you're doing, it's too important to ensure you're able to give that 110% every time to blow needless energy overworking yourself.

Deb Runs

The Wednesday Word is a weekly linkup hosted by Deb Runs.  Pop on over to her page to see what other bloggers, runners, and lifters have to say about how quality impacts their lives!

How do you ensure your workouts are performed with quality?  Have you ever encountered a time when you realized you were putting too much emphasis on quantity?  How did you adjust?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A Valentine's Alternative

I was in the drugstore yesterday to pick up a couple items and was surprised to see the Valentine's displays - I forgot the "romantic holiday" is already less than a month away!  My forgetfulness is probably about 80% intentional, to be honest.  Valentine's Day is historically one of the worst days of the year for me.  I've been cheated on, dumped, ignored, you name it, almost every Valentine's since I can remember.  The only Valentine's gifts I ever receive are from my parents, which is super sweet but at 30 years old will just be kinda sad this year.

Over the course of the past couple years, though, I've been learning so much more about love that I think I have an idea for how to make this year's Valentine's one that I actually enjoy and remember fondly.  I know we still have a few weeks, but it's never too early to love.  Rather than worrying about receiving someone else's expressions of love, this year I'm going to focus on self-love instead.

The past few years I have slowly been building an aura of self-love for myself.  I'm not as consistent with it as I'd like to be, but every day I dedicate myself just a little bit more to loving myself for who I am and in my current life situation.  So what constitutes self-love?  How can a person build their own self-love rituals and grow in themself?  Well, I'm here to share some of the things that have worked best for me in my journey.

Take care of your appearance.  I was horrible about this for a long time, because I misunderstood what "taking care of your appearance" actually meant.  Makeup is basically public enemy number one in my world, and I equated a nice appearance with piles of makeup caked all over my face.  Not so, eh!  Finding the right products for my hair, learning a little about how to make my hair do things I like, starting (and sticking to) a face cleaning and moisturizing routine...  All these things have come together over the years to give me increased self confidence and a pride in my appearance that I didn't have for many years.  There are still opportunities for improvement, but I'll get there when I'm ready.

Wear what makes you feel good.  My mother hates this, but I wear what I like, and only if I feel comfortable in it.  This means I rarely follow the "style trends" (whatever that means) and often look a little different than the people around me.  But you know what?  When I pull on an outfit that I like, it doesn't make one lick of difference to me what other people think about it.  I've learned that I'm dressing for myself, not for the people around me.  I try to keep the level of professionalism or fanciness appropriate to where I'm going, but within those guidelines, my outfit is guaranteed to be 100% ME, all the time.  It makes me feel good, stay comfortable, and most times my clothes actually make me smile - so I'm wearing them.  Deal with it, mom. (PS, I love you, even when you tell me I look weird.)

Surround yourself with the people who make your world better.  The communities you join or build for yourself can make a HUGE difference in how much you love yourself, because the people surrounding you have the power to build you up or tear you down (if you let them).  Why fight against people who are trying to tear you down?  That's a waste of time and energy that can be spent loving yourself and making your world better.  Seek out the people who support your dreams, goals, ambitions, and successes, and who are there for you when you have troubles or failures.  If you can't find them locally, start a group, or look to the internet.  Joining some of the blogger and fitness groups I am a part of was one of the best steps forward I've taken in my life, as I now know where to turn when I need a smile or inspiration.  We all work together as a community to keep self-love abundant in ourselves and in each other.

Do the things that make you smile.  Growing up, my parents let me explore any activity I wanted, with few exceptions.  I tried a bit of everything: music lessons, sports, horseback riding, gymnastics, art classes, swimming, acting - there wasn't much a kid could do that I didn't at least take a stab at!  I settled on the things I truly enjoyed, practiced and worked hard, and learned as much as I could about what I was doing.  As an adult, I still do many of those things, because those are the activities at which I excel, but also because I enjoy them.  More recently, I've started doing things I used to think I hated - but am learning that I actually love!  We change over time, and so do our interests.  It's important to keep doing things you are good at if they make you happy, but if some of your hobbies are starting to feel old and tired, experiment with new things - and when you find something new you love, dive in!

Understand your spiritual side.  Finding religion isn't necessarily the answer here - don't think for one moment I'm going to try to tell you who should be your savior or what you should believe!  But the essence of spirituality is a foundation for all of your own personal beliefs, whether they involve a deity or not.  For some, it's as simple as respecting the majesty of nature.  For others, it's a connection with the inner self (hrm, sounds a little like self-love, dunnit?).  What is important is what touches your soul and speaks to your heart.  Embrace the energies within yourself that make you unique.  I used to be excellent at this, years ago, but lost touch for a long time.  With the help of more yoga practice, meditation, and rebuilding some sacred space in my home, I'm finally coming back to the spiritual being I used to be, and it feels amazing!

Valentine's Day doesn't have to be some trite and conventional day for giving or receiving chocolates.  Challenge yourself this year to indulge in self-love over some generic expression of affection for someone else.  But if you ARE in love with someone, show them!  Show them every day, in the special little ways only they will understand and appreciate, the ways that show them how much you understand their heart.  You don't always need gifts to show you love someone, but when you do take the time to give that special someone a gift, make sure it speaks to them.  For example, I'd much rather have a new pair of crazy leggings than a dozen red roses - know what your lover truly appreciates.

And while I'm suggesting alternative Valentine's gifts, I'd like to give another shout-out to my favorite mindfulness company, Sapphire Soul!  This year for their February subscription box, Sapphire Soul is putting a delightful twist on Valentine's presents: instead of a box of chocolates, subscribers will receive a box of crystals instead!  This is such an adorably perfect gift for the yogi or spiritualist in your life.  Plus, right now new subscribers can use promo code GARNET to receive an additional garnet stone with any February order!  You can opt to receive just one month of Sapphire Soul to get the February crystal box, or you can sign up for a recurring subscription - a gift that keeps on giving!

Reserve your February box here: www.sapphiresoul.com

How do you celebrate your loved ones?  How do you ensure you keep self-love in your life?