My Favorite Things: March

favorite-things-marchThis post is full of things I’ve been loving lately, but the absolute most-favorite of all the month’s favorites? Today’s weather. I think we’re finally done with winter. I swear you can feel the collective good mood vibrating throughout the city of Boston.

Favorite Products

Eddie Bauer Motion Leggings

eddie-bauer-motion-leggingsLeggings: Pic 1, 2, 3

I know…Eddie Bauer for workout clothes? The list of designers and retailers who now have a fitness line is constantly growing. The kind folks over at Eddie Bauer sent me some samples from their new motion collection and I seriously love the leggings! They’re high quality with thick, supportive material, and comfy to boot. I also like the higher waistline on them. If I’m doing a workout like yoga or Btone where your hips often come up above your head (down dog, plank to pike, etc.) it’s nice to have a higher pant rise. They’re not sheer, but because of the light color, I wouldn’t wear dark undies with the green pair–the others are totally opaque and definitely pass the squat test (i.e. not see-through in the least).

Nakamol Wrap Bracelet from Rocksbox

rocksbox-wrapI mentioned Rocksbox in a previous post, but essentially it’s like Stitch Fix for jewelry. For $25/month, you get three items sent to you that you can keep on loan for as long as you like. You can also buy any/all of them at a discounted price. When you’re through, just send the pieces back and you’ll get another box of three in the mail. I lose jewelry like it’s MY JOB so instead of wearing the pieces I get on loan, I just immediately send back what I don’t want and buy what I do. This wrap bracelet hasn’t left my wrist since I got it! ($38 with the member discount.) I wear a ton of black (do other colors even exist??) so it goes with almost every outfit I put on. If you’re interested in trying Rocksbox, you can get your first month free (the $25 you’re usually charged will be credited to your account) by using THIS LINKHop on it!

My New GoPro from New Balance

new-balance-goproHI CAN YOU SAY SPOILED?? When New Balance asked for my shipping address, I figured a new pair of sneakers? Their latest workout top? Not only did (my new BFFAEAE) NB send me new sneaks and a couple shirts but A GOPRO. I am so excited!! I almost bought one myself before Australia but decided that money would be better spent while abroad. Welp, that turned out perfectly. Can’t wait to start playing around with my new toy–THANK YOU, NEW BALANCE!

(I think I just hit my caps lock limit with this one…)

Favorite Eats

CoffeeBars from New Grounds Food

new-grounds-coffee-barNew Grounds Foods offered to send me some of their CoffeeBars to try, and after looking at the ingredients (all real foods I can pronounce: dates, gluten-free oats, almond butter, brown rice syrup, vegan dark chocolate, coffee beans, crisp brown rise, cashews, chia seeds, agave fiber, cinnamon, sea salt), I happily accepted. It’s like your morning cup of coffee meets a LARABAR. I munched on mine before teaching early the other week and really liked it. I will add though that it’s probably not for those who dislike the taste of coffee.

G.H. Cretors Organic Popcorn 

g-h-cretors-popcornThis is a great option for all you popcorn lovers! Only three ingredients: popcorn, olive oil (or sunflower oil), salt. Whenever I have popcorn in the house, I end up eating the entire jumbo bag in one sitting, but it’s so low in calories that it’s really not the end of the world. Gotta love guilt-free snacks.

My Latest Go-To Dinner: Fish + Fruit/Avocado Salsa Topping + Quinoa

cod-pineapple-kiwi-salsa-quinoaThis has been on repeat for dinner–it’s so easy! Broil up some cod; make a topping with cilantro, red onion, lime juice, avocado and whatever fruit I’m in the mood for (pineapple, kiwi, mango, strawberries, etc.); serve with quinoa and maybe a simple salad. Easy, healthy and so stankin’ good.

Speaking of this combo, my friends had Joe and I over for dinner the other night and she served the most delicious salmon prepared on her George Foreman grill. I usually always bake or broil fish in the oven and had never thought of using my GF grill–it’s so easy and the fish turns out great! It gives it a crispier outer layer to thicker filets that I love. Try it!

Sweets from Magnolia Bakery

bakeryI was sent a package from Vaseline packed with treats from Magnolia Bakery–so yummy. Dangerous though. Took me all of two days to devour the whole box. The white ones were rice Krispie treats coated in frosting and the chocolate ones (my favorite) were cookies coated in frosting. Hey we can’t be healthy all the time. ;)

Favorite Workouts

B/SPOKE via Gilt City

bspokeI haven’t taken a class at B/SPOKE in a while since they went off ClassPass, so I was pumped when Gilt City gave me a free class in celebration of their Best Of Gilt City sale (–>check it out!). Steph is one of my favorite spin instructors in Boston, and per usual her class kicked my butt.

Fighter Conditioning at Peter Welch’s

boxing-glovesI’ve heard amazing things about the boxing conditioning classes at Peter Welch’s in Southie for ages now, and finally went to one last week. I loved it–so fun! I highly recommend going with a friend for your first class though–there’s a lot of partner work and if you’re unfamiliar with boxing, you’ll have no clue what you’re doing when they first give you numbered hitting combos. I’m pretty sure I looked like an idiot half the class but whatever, I had a blast.

The Synergistics Fitness Method at Life in Synergy

I got invited to try a class at Life in Synergy, and can’t believe it took me this long to check it out! Think bodyweight, resistance bands, weighted balls with high reps–similar to barre, you’re not going to leave the workout covered in sweat. What I really loved about it is that the class focuses on areas of the body that need the most work. In general, people in our society have similar muscle imbalances (from spending so much time sitting at a desk/computer), and the class will hone in on those. I look Helena’s class (she’s also the founder of the Synergistics Fitness Method), and she was phenomenal. Within five seconds of talking to her she was like “you need to work on your lats.” That’s a pro for you right there. Although my upper body posture doesn’t do me any favors in hiding my weaknesses haha. There’s personal training at Life in Synergy in addition to the group classes, and the studio is gorgeous. They’re on ClassPass, too, so if you’re in Boston definitely check them out! I actually just started reading Helena’s book, Nutritional Alignment, so this isn’t the last time I’ll be talking about LIS on the blog. :)

From the Blog: 3-Circuit Kettlebell Workout

full-body-kettlebell-workout-1I’m all about kbs for my at-home workouts lately!

Favorite Reads

Killing Pablo by Mark Bowden

I’ve been dying to read this book for a while now. It was fascinating! It tells the story of the Pablo Escobar and the massive manhunt that went into finding and killing him. Escobar’s impact on Colombia (and the US) goes so far beyond his reputation as a cocaine kingpin—I had no idea what a disaster he caused. Highly recommend this book—especially if you’re into historical nonfiction.

Articles/Blog Posts

  • 5 Reasons Banning Is Bad for the Fitness Industry via The Sweat Life | This is an older article, but it’s still relevant as I continually hear of other fitness instructors getting banned from certain studios. I think it’s so stupid! Two different instructors could teach the exact same routine with all the same moves and the classes would still be different because you can’t replicate that personality X factor.
  • 20 Embarrassing Phrases Even Smart People Misuse via Inc. | I’m a total grammar/language nerd, but am still guilty of a few of these (sneak peak gets me every time).
  • Are Rest Days Necessary Even If I’m Not Sore or Tired? via Lifting Revolution | Oh man did this post speak to me. More often than not, I have to literally force myself to take rest days because I love working out—it’s part of my job and going to classes is a fun, social part of my day. But even if they aren’t always welcome, they are important, and it will eventually catch up to you if you don’t give your body the rest it needs.
  • Clean Beauty via goop | Gwyneth. I KNOW. But pretending to dislike everything on goop would be like pretending to dislike Taylor Swift songs. T Swift creates damn good music and this article on non-toxic beauty products is extremely informative.

Blog of the Month: Pinch of Yum | I just started following Pinch of Yum, and besides the delicious recipes and beautiful photography, I love that they share their blog traffic and income reports every month. The reports are so insightful! It’s always helpful to see how other bloggers are monetizing their sites, so their candidness is really appreciated. If you’re a blogger, check out their reports (here’s February’s) and if you love food, check out the rest of the blog!

Favorite Watches

On Netflix

  • Scandal | Can’t. Stop. Watching. I honestly didn’t like the show at first and thought it was stupid for the entire first season (yet kept watching … not sure what that says about me haha). But oh man. I am HOOKED. Is it weird that Olivia’s dad is one of my favorite characters? I know I’m supposed to hate him, but when he ripped Fitz a new a**hole for being a child, he won me over. My boyfriend has major secondhand embarrassment about my obsession (pretty sure he wanted to break up with me when I started crying after a major character died in season three).
  • Vietnam in HD | I love History Channel specials, and this one on the Vietnam war is phenomenal. There are some negative reviews on it saying it’s all propaganda, but I really enjoyed the six-part mini series.
  • All This Mayhem | Thanks to my boyfriend, I’ve watched just about every skateboarding documentary out there, and surprisingly am totally into them. This one is about Ben & Tas Pappas and their rise (and drug-and-murder-riddled fall) from the top of the skateboarding world. Most documentaries out there put Tony Hawk on a pedestal and it was interesting to watch this one show him as a total sellout. I know … who am I? Talking as if I’m some skateboarding pro …

Around the Web

This is so stupid but I dare you to not laugh (you need volume to fully appreciate it):

Favorite Moments

 

Nailing My Headstand without a Wall

Inversions are scary when you’re 100 feet tall. Handstands still shoot terror through my veins, so I am soaking in the small upside-down victories. During a yoga class this month, I got into a headstand without using a wall for support—whoop! I know it’s easy peasy for a lot of people, but I was so afraid of falling over backwards that I never even tried it without a wall. You’d think I just won an Olympic gold medal by how proud I am…

Reading My Childhood Diary

spice-girls-diary-entryAny time I’m at my parents’ house, I go right to my old bedroom closet and take out my childhood diary for a good laugh. I kept one throughout high school, too, but I don’t read that one—the wounds are still too fresh (kidding…but not). The one I kept throughout elementary and middle school though…comedic GOLD. I posted a picture of one entry on Instagram earlier this month and may have to make these a regular #TBT share—they’re just too good.

Spending the Weekend in Maine with My Dad

rangeley-lakes-maineI had an extremely refreshing weekend up in Maine with my Dad earlier this month. We did some snowmobiling, but for the most part just relaxed—which was exactly what I needed. I get to see my mom almost every month because she helps me with blog pictures, but I don’t see my dad very frequently so I loved the time with him!

Getting a Shout Out from Cindy Crawford

cindyI’m not dumb—I know there’s a 99% chance this was her PR team and not Cindy herself, but whatever. Cindy Crawford read my blog and you can’t tell me otherwise. When I saw she shared my blog post, I may or may not have run around Starbucks high-fiving strangers…

Favorite Announcements/Upcoming Events

 

HAIRraising on Sunday April 12th  

blo-blowoutOn Sunday, April 12th, participating salons across the country will be donating all proceeds from the day to Boston’s Children’s Hospital. There are a ton of salons participating in Boston and several over states (full list here). Hair cuts are $25 that day, but if you’re not due for a chop, you can still be involved by opting for a blowout. I got one the other day from Nathan at blo who is one of the co-chairs. Last year, blo alone raised 10K (on just that one day!) for the charity. In addition to a blowout, you can also buy raffle tickets there for uh-mazing prizes: a year of blowouts, Sox tickets, a dinner party for four with a private chef–the list goes on. If you’re looking for an excuse to get your hair did, this is it. Children’s Hospital is an amazing organization!

North Face Teaming Up with November Project = More Free Workouts in Boston!

The Mountain Athletics/November Project workout series begins tonight! Every Tuesday & Thursday, free workouts will be offered in Boston’s Back Bay, similar in design to the super popular November Project sessions. Here are the location details: Tuesdays 6:30PM @ Boston Commons at Soldiers and Sailors Monument Thursdays 6:30PM @ Esplanade at Hatch Shell I live close by so am definitely going to check one out–let me know if you’re local and decide to go!

Favorite Window Shopping: Lululemon

Some teaching days, I swear I spend more time asking clients where they got their workout clothing than actually instructing. Lately, the answer has been nonstop “Lulu” so I did some online window shopping … game over. I want everything.

What were some of your favorites from March?
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These roundup posts are a great way to share a ton of different things all at once, and as you’ll probably notice, a lot of the products and opportunities were blogging perks. I’m not being paid to mention anyone/thing in this post, and although I do get a lot of freebies through blogging (no complaints here!), not even a fraction of them make it onto the site. I only share stuff that feels like a good fit for P&I. I appreciate your support! :)

How to Do a Headstand without a Wall

How to Do a Headstand without a Wall -- there are lots of ways to get into a headstand, but I find this one easiest as a beginner!First and foremost: my feet. LOL. I mean, I have larger feet, but this camera angle is just not doing me any sort of favors. While making this pictorial I was like ohmygod are my feet as long as my shins?? They aren’t. I promise. Anyway…

You guys may remember that my New Year’s resolution was to regularly practice yoga, so I thought a fun way to check in with my progress on that would be to share how I finally nailed a headstand without a wall. Some weeks are better than others, but so far 2015 has marked a huge turn in my yoga practice (namely, I’m actually practicing haha).

There’s a hot yoga studio (H.Y.P.) on ClassPass that has a class right after I’m done teaching at Btone Wellesley on Tuesdays, so at the very least, I practice yoga once a week. In addition, I’ve done some new client specials at studios by my apartment, so some weeks I’ll practice up to four times. Those weeks are awesome because I really notice a difference in how deep I can get into the poses and the increased ease with which my body is moving. I think the key to consistency will be incorporating some shorter at-home yoga sessions into my week. Let the YouTube searching begin! :)

I’m a morning person and usually love early workouts, but I’ve found that I actually prefer practicing yoga at night. I’m not as stiff and that calm, relaxed post-yoga feeling makes for a great night’s sleep. Anyone else feel that way?

How I Get into Headstands without Using a Wall

How to Do a Headstand without a Wall -- there are lots of ways to get into a headstand, but I find this one easiest as a beginner!Inversions scare the living sh*t out of me. It’s not so much holding them—I think I have the upper body and core strength to do that—it’s getting into them. Being tall is awesome and all, but when it comes to flinging your limbs into the air and sticking an upside-down balance, it’s a disadvantage. Or maybe I’m just a chicken. Either way, there is a reason why gymnasts are short!

There are lots of ways to get into a headstand, but I find the key for me is to keep my limbs as close to my center of gravity as possible. Rather than kicking up into the pose or lifting straight legs into the air, I start with bent knees close to my torso and extend straight up from there. How to Do a Headstand without a Wall -- there are lots of ways to get into a headstand, but I find this one easiest as a beginner!

I’m not a trained yoga instructor (or even all that good at yoga), but here are some tips to go along with the pictures based on my personal practice and the advice certified teachers have given me in class:

  • Place a blanket/towel underneath your head. The added padding makes it a lot more comfortable.
  • Hands should be shoulder-width apart. The tendency is to plant the hands out wide, but that wider base actually isn’t as supportive as having the hands aligned with your shoulders. As a matter of fact, in looking at the pictures in this post, I think I could have had my hands in a little closer to each other.
  • Once your knees are balanced on your elbows, squeeze the elbows in towards each other. One of the yoga teachers at Back Bay yoga gave me this tip—it’s a small adjustment, but you’ll feel a huge difference in stabilization if you actively squeeze the elbows in as you lift the knees off your arms and into the air.
  • To hit a straight line with your body, you’ll need to pull the legs back a few degrees passed your perceived midline. If you’re a beginner like me, the scariest part of the inversion is the last few inches of pulling your legs up and back to form a vertical line with your body. Taking these pictures actually helped me a lot because I could look back on my form. When I thought I was in a straight line, my legs where actually slightly in front of my body. I had to go to a point that felt like I would topple over backwards to achieve that straight alignment—engaging my back (rather than just my abs) to get there. Your entire core needs to work to stabilize, not just your front body.

Ok, next up: handstands. Eeek.

How to Do a Headstand without a Wall -- there are lots of ways to get into a headstand, but I find this one easiest as a beginner!

WEARING: tank: Lululemon (old) // leggings: c/o Eddie Bauer // sports bra: c/o PUMA (old)

And a big thanks to Nomadix for the printed towel—isn’t it gorgeous?! One of my college BFFs introduced me to guys behind the brand, and I instantly fell in love with the bright prints and their message: Own less. Do more. I use my towel for yoga (usually on top of my mat during hot yoga), but it can also be used at the beach, picnics, hiking, etc. It’s made from 100% recycled material and is lightweight so it’s easy to pack and fit in a bag. Pictured is their Zig Zag Towel.

Yogis/yoga teachers—I would love for you to share your headstand tips in the comments section! signature

April Fitness Challenge & DietBet

pumps-iron-april-challenge-dietbetWhen I polled you guys last month about doing another DietBet or a separate sort of challenge on the blog, the responses were pretty evenly mixed—lots of requests for another DB, but also enthusiasm for a challenge not related to weight loss. So let’s do both!

For this month-long challenge, you pick the goal. What’s something you’ve been wanting to achieve? What change have you been needing to make? It can be anything related to health and fitness. If losing 4% of your bodyweight is on your list of goals, awesome—sign up for the Pumps & Iron DietBet. If weight loss isn’t a goal, challenge yourself to something else: Build up the strength to do 10 consecutive push ups without modifying to your knees; train for a 5K; drink half your bodyweight in ounces of water a day for a month; cut out sugar from your diet for 30 days to see how it affects your body; increase your flexibility so that you’re able to touch your toes. Tailor the challenge to your own personal goals.

I’ve put together a printable goal-setting chart to help you map out your challenge, break it into smaller weekly goals, and plan your month. It sounds dorky, but the process of writing down your goals, breaking them into steps, identifying obstacles you’ll face, and accordingly planning for getting through them is so paramount in succeeding. Start brainstorming your goal for next month and I’ll share the printout on the blog next week before the DietBet starts!

The Deets

If you’re unfamiliar with DietBet, it essentially allows you to win money for losing weight. You buy into it for $35, and then everyone who successfully loses 4% of their bodyweight in four weeks gets to split the pot. Usually winners end up doubling their money. It’s fun because you have this ongoing message board with everyone involved in the bet that allows you to support each other, get motivation when you’re lacking, share your victories, and seek advice when you falter. I always end up getting really emotional and typically cry at least twice throughout the month from reading the inspirational support being offered to the mini DietBet community (I know I know, I need to get a grip). Full rules can be found here.

The DietBet and blog challenge will start Monday April 6. I figured it’d be easiest for some people to wait until after Easter/Passover. And April seems like the perfect month because the weather is getting warmer, and that summer-is-coming buzz is absolutely infectious.

Throughout the month, I’ll be hosting giveaways at the end of each week for some added motivation. Everyone who succeeds in reaching their weekly benchmark can enter to win a prize package of awesome health and fitness goodies (that goes for DietBetters and those just taking on the blog challenge).

I’m in the process of finalizing prizes and content, so let me know if there are posts you’d find helpful during the challenge month or prizes that would help motivate you to stay on track. All suggestions welcome! And don’t worry–if you think the whole thing sounds stupid, there will still be all the regular workout/fitness posts I do throughout the challenge. :)

Hope you all (or at least some of you) are as excited as I am! I know challenges can be a little dorky, but c’mon—they’re fun! And a great way to get on track toward whatever goal you want to achieve. It’s not 100% final, but my goal will probably be to stick a handstand without using a wall. I think I have the core and upper body strength to do it—it’s just getting over my fear of falling over and practicing the balance. Maybe a month isn’t long enough and I’m being overly ambitious—yogis, feel free to pitch in your two cents!

If you’re interested in the DietBet, you can sign up HERE. You have until early April to get involved and it’s way more fun with friends, so start recruiting family members, friends and coworkers!  cta-april-dietbetsignature