DoTerra’s Holiday Gift Guide is out!

And I am in trouble! They have a yoga mat! Check it out here. And go here to get started on your Holiday shopping!

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My Top 10 Favorite Pieces of At Home Fitness Equipment

I have spent the better part of 19 years working out in various gyms, and I love it.  I love having access to the best equipment, and the motivating social environment.  But sometimes I like to do my workouts at home, or I just simply don’t have the time, or even sometimes the motivation to hit the gym. For those times, I like to have a variety of options that I can use at home.

Here is my list of 10 pieces of home-workout equipment that don’t cost much, don’t take up much space and provide a variety of good workouts to improve your fitness in the comfort of your bedroom, basement or living room.

1.) A few hand weights. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a decent little arsenal of hand weights. Check local yard sales, Craigslist or discount fitness equipment websites, or even ask your local gym if they have any weights that they may be getting rid of to upgrade. Another, though pricier option, is to get a set of Bowflex Select Tech weights. You can sometimes find these on Craigslist, as well. They are a great option for saving space, and less bulky than Power Blocks.

2.) An adjustable weight bench. Again, this can be easily found on Craigslist or yard sales, or even check Wal-Mart. If you don’t have room for a bench, that’s fine. Many exercises, such as dumbbell bench presses, can be performed from the floor.

3.) Kettle bells. There are a number of great kettle bell workouts that can easily be found on YouTube. You can get a couple in light to moderate weights, or look for adjustable options.

4.) TRX: Body weight suspension training is a killer work out, and this is a fun option because you can easily take it anywhere! Hook up to a tree in your back yard, take it to the park, anchor it to your wall or door frame…the possibilities are endless! It comes with a DVD and instructional booklet, and there are tons of videos on YouTube to get ideas on how to use it. You can get one at TRX Training

5.) Foam Roller: Self-myofascial release is basically a way to get an at-home massage to release muscle tightness or trigger points. By applying pressure to specific points on your  body you are able to aid in the recovery of muscles and assist in returning them to normal function. Normal function means your muscles are elastic, healthy, and ready to perform at a moment’s notice. You can also use a lacrosse ball, tennis ball, or my favorite, Yoga Tune Up Therapy Balls.

6.) Thera-band:Thera-bands are super cheap and a great way to incorporate resistance training into your at-home routine, without taking up a lot of space. They come in various levels of resistance, and can usually be bought in a set like the ones here.

7.) Swiss Ball: There are a variety of exercises that can be performed with a Swiss ball. The benefit to working on a Swiss Ball is that you engage more muscles to remain balanced. I like this one because it has various exercises printed right on the ball!

8.) Exercise bands: Again, another cheap alternative to bulky weights! They come in a variety of resistance and can often be purchased in packs. I have even found them at the Dollar Store!

9.) Chin-up Bar: A decent chin-up bar will only cost you around $20 at Wal-Mart. Hook it right to your door frame to perform chin-ups, and a variety of pull ups. Great way to target the upper back and bicep muscles without needing a bulky pull-down machine.

10.) Workout DVD’s: Seriously, these were a LIFESAVER for me when my oldest was a toddler and I was working long hours and going to school and couldn’t always get to the gym. Along with my Bowflex weights, bands and chin-up bar I used programs like P90X and, my favorite, ChaLEAN Extreme. DVD’s are also a great cardio option and there are so many to choose from, depending on what your preferences are. I love all of Chalene Johnson’s workouts, like TurboFire, TurboJam, and even the cardio DVD’s included with ChaLEAN Extreme. I am not a Beachbody coach, but I do love many of their workout programs!

And there you have it! There are several other options for at home fitness equipment depending on your interests and how much space you have. The key is to find something that you enjoy doing, so it won’t just end up in a closet or collecting dust.

Halloween Costumes

So being that Halloween is right around the corner I have been thinking a lot lately about what the kids should be. I know that my 9-year-old will probably want to pick some character that he’s seen in movie’s or TV, and he’ll want to go to Spirit Halloween or Party City to find the costume. Every single year I struggle with this because it is SO BORING!

When I was a kid my mom and grandma always made my Halloween costumes, and looking back on it I had some pretty awesome costumes! One year my mom and I were Indians (Pocahontas, maybe?) where my grandmother found some old suede like material and made dresses for my mom and I with beads, we found some feathers at a flea market for our hair and even had moccasins that my mom put beads on. Another year we were Raggedy Anne and Andy, likely with some thrift store dresses, tights and a red yarn wig for hair. Yet another year (at this point I was around 6-7 years old), I was an A&W waitress on wheels. I wore my mom’s own old A&W uniform with some roller skates, pig tails and a tray with plastic food glued to it. My mom still makes her own costumes, almost always from things she finds at the thrift store and creates into something awesome. She is always winning her office costume contests!

I’m sure when I was a kid I wanted to be that character that everyone else wanted to be (or maybe I didn’t, have you seen the horrible plastic mask costumes from the 80’s?), but today I am so thankful that my mom was so creative!

There’s also the over sexualization of costumes now that is just repulsive! A naughty nurse or “bad cop” is fine for an adult going to an adult themed party, but these costumes are now being made for teens and even toddlers! A friend of mine posted this great article on Facebook today about a mom who was so upset that what she found at Party City that she actually wrote them a letter about it, which they later deleted! And she is so right, why is it that if a girl chooses to be a police officer or cowgirl or Soldier, that she must be portrayed as “sassy”, or “cute” or some other ridiculous term and wearing some frilly and sometimes even too revealing for a small child dress? It’s make-believe, but these kids likely want to be those things because they admire them, not because they want to be trashy, “pretty”, “sassy” versions of them!

I know I’m going to argue with my 9 yr old and he’ll end up winning and getting to be the store-bought Iron Man or whatever it is he wants to be, and I’m thankful that I at least have boys so it isn’t so bad. But I’d really like to come up with some great costume that we find and create together. I think I’ll brainstorm with him this weekend. And if not, well I still have the 2-year-old who has no say yet, anyway!

What are some costume ideas or things that you have done in the past? I’d love to hear them!

I loved Jem, but YIKES!

I loved Jem, but YIKES!

I’ve just discovered Prep Dish, and I’m pretty impressed!

First let me say that I do not advocate a “Paleo” diet. I don’t have anything against the diet itself, I am all for any plan that encourages people to eat whole foods with less sugar and processed junk. However, I do not agree with limiting things like dairy and grains, as I believe that they are an essential part of any diet. I also don’t agree with the junk science that goes along with many Paleo advocates claims, but that’s another post! Some of the meals are pretty amazing, and that I am cool with.

That being said, I had been looking for a meal plan that worked for me, as I am planning challenged when it comes to keeping variety in my plan. I always seem to get stuck on the same 5 or 6 meals, and that’s it. Enter Prep Dish! They offer a weekly meal plan complete with grocery list AND prep instructions, so that you can spend 2-3 hours one day prepping all of your meals for the week. They offer a gluten free and Paleo option, and you have access to both each week. You get 4 meals, and desert and breakfast option. And, of course, you can sub in any of your grain or non Paleo based options for any meal.

I signed up for the free 14 day trial, printed my meal plan for the next 4 weeks and headed to the grocery store to do this week’s shopping. I actually spent far less than I have been as of late! My grocery stores didn’t have a couple of the items I needed for the week (parsnips and a fennel bulb), so I will have to hit the produce market tomorrow. I came home, got everything put away and began my prep.

Overall it took about 3 hours, and I have at least 2 nights of minestrone soup, pecan crusted salmon, herbed chicken with a chipotle sweet potato and roasted red pepper soup, almond flour banana muffins (it called for bread, but I had to make muffins because I forgot that my toddler smashed my bread dish!), Italian salad, homemade vinaigrette and dark chocolate, crushed walnut and dried cranberry drops for the kids. I also made enough hard-boiled eggs for snacks for the week, and bought only enough apples for the week, instead of my usual big bag that just ends up going bad.

I’m really proud of myself for getting back to spending my Sunday meal prepping, and I can’t wait to try all of the meals in the plan! Of course I was taste testing as I was going, and so far everything is amazing! For $14.99/month, I’ll probably end up keeping this for a little while since it makes everything so super simple!