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Week Two of My YTT with aUM

After missing all of last week’s training (because I was sick), I was feeling inadequate. We started Sun Salutations A and B. For those unfamiliar, these are traditional practices in Ashtanga yoga. This is where we begin putting directives into play with breath, posture, and gaze. It is a lot of memorization, but even more than that, intuition. With the current state of my body slightly still weak from Strep, I’m noticeably less than myself. Luckily, this week began with a chakra opening. On Wednesday I attended an open class focusing on the sacral chakra — in charge of all things that “flow” in our bodies — tears, the circulation in the body, orgasm, blood, etc. The ideal for this chakra is the acceptance for release as opposed to repression. This practice was very meditative.

The smell of nag champa was lightly fragrant in the air, the class patiently awaited instruction, some breathed intentionally so, in child’s pose, while others sat still with their eyes closed. We started with consciousness of our sacrum, and began to open the chakra with a series of hip opening techniques. I sweat so good. The heat, intentional seemingly small movements, and the tranquility of our teacher’s voice (Amanda); I left class feeling completely revitalized.

Yesterday aUM welcomed the change of the season with a class, 108 Sun Salutations. This practice, open to the public, was led by Amanda and teachers in training through 108 sets of Sun Salutation A. I observed this class and watched as 20+ bodies sweat more than I have ever seen people sweat. I imagine the emotional and physical challenge of going through 108 of these salutations. In some ways it seems torturous, and in others it seems cleansing. This among other lessons in the YTT are teaching me about patience, challenge, and acceptance.

Each evening I leave the studio I find my heart open, and a very certain clarity. It’s funny, whether I feel frustrated, manic, or confused when I walk into the studio, I always leave feeling reparation. I owe so much of this to the amazing teachers, Amanda and Jessie, but I know I also owe it to myself.

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Week One of My Yoga Teacher Training Journey with aUM

I was literally shaking with nervousness when I got into the car at 5:00 to arrive at the studio early for my 5:30 class (which is literally a five minute drive from my house). Anxiety much? I joked with my older daughter Leni before I left, “what if the other kids don’t like me?” We were texting but I’m pretty sure she sent me an emoji that was rolling its eyes.

I’ve been a stay-at-home-mom aka badass juggler for three years now. Leaving the house feels like a curveball being thrown at me — maybe that’s exaggerating, but my anxiety has definitely gotten worse over the years. I find any new social setting makes me feel like my legs are going to fall out from under me, and while I’m still outgoing, I’m also really weird and awkward. But maybe I’ve always been pretty weird and awkward.

The unknown is the part that makes us fear new experiences, am I right? Of course I am. For me it was, ‘where am I going to put my things?; should I bring my yoga socks?; what if I have to poop?’ Seriously. I hate to poop in public bathrooms. Especially when they aren’t single bathrooms, you might as well be holding hands under the stall with a stranger while you both drop deuces. Anyway, I got up to the studio and immediately felt a calmness. The vibes were positive, the space was warm and welcoming, I had pooped before I left the house, and when we walked into the studio I felt like Leo in The Beach when the urban myth beach is revealed.

So happy.

It’s funny when you let go and allow yourself to take in an experience fully, I felt at home within the first hour. And I sweat. Oh did I sweat. We began class with a full hour workshop on Chaturanga — seriously, life-changing. My YTT (yoga teacher training) is lead by two amazing ladies, Jessie and Amanda, of aUM located right downtown in Ann Arbor — the studio is phefuckingnominal. Jessie has this quiet confidence about her, and she knows. her. shit. Amanda is outspoken and endearing, and has a background as a midwife. She said fuck and I was like, ohmigod, I love her.

Hearing teachers talk about something passionately, while they have the undivided attention of the entire class is pretty amazing. It was such a great start to the program.

I’ve been reading attentively, basically highlighting the entire book from our first reading. There are a few paragraphs I would like to quote, because they just spoke to me so deeply.

These are from The Heart of Yoga by T. K. V. Desikachar:

“Duhkha is a quality of mind that gives us the feeling of being squeezed. It is not to be compared with physical pain. There does not need to be any physical pain to experience the feeling of great duhkha. He level on which duhkha works is the mind. Duhkha is nothing but a certain state of mind in which we experience a limitation in our possibilities to act and understand. Even if we do not have a need to express our feelings in tears, somehow we feel disturbed deep within ourselves, painfully bound and restricted.” (pg. 83)

I have felt this way to a T. How was there no explanation to this until the moment I read that paragraph? I felt so connected to these words and it gave me the energy to move past my own shit.

Here’s another great excerpt from the chapter:

“Duhkha can even arise out of our efforts to progress along the path of yoga. When we see something that we would like to have, there is no duhkha initially present. Duhkha begins to take hold when we cannot get what we want. People often feel that they suffer from this kind of duhkha precisely when they are in the process of improving their lives. They become so thirsty for real insight that they cannot reach this new quaality of understanding and action as quickly as they would like.” (pg. 84)

This one resonated hard with me too. Everyone has gone through heartbreak before. This can be applied to that situation, wanting answers to why things ended or where things went wrong. This can really be applied to anything in life. It also goes hand-in-hand with the philosophy of desire. This is one of the reasons I have to repeat my mantra to myself whenever I remember,

You already have everything you need.

And it’s true. The sooner we can learn and accept that the sooner we can live a more fulfilling life, and focus on the things that really matter.

So, we have entered week two of my yoga journey, but I came down with strep throat and have been laid out for the past four days. Luckily, it has given me plenty of time to study, read, and reflect. I sure am missing my weights and yoga mat though.

Until my next post,

namaste.

Meet Courtney


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I started following Courtney of @courtneysfitlife_ on Instagram over a year ago when I began my fitness journey. Though prior to, I had followed some very inspirational ladies on IG, I really connected to Courtney’s feed. Her transformation felt so relateable because she presented herself in such a humble, human way. More than just a beautiful compilation of photos, Courtney truly shares her experiences from her heart throughout her feed — it was visible when I began following her, but getting to know her on a more personal level, I have found that her story is truly ingrained in her, and she lives accordingly; honestly, genuinely, and unpretentious.

Funny enough, we connected on Instagram because I stumbled upon a photo of hers in ‘Photos You Might Like’. Another profile was trying to use her ‘before and after’ as one of their own clients’. I messaged her immediately and told her someone had stolen her transformation pic. The rest is all history!

I gathered some questions to ask my fellow mama and fitness babe. If you don’t know Court, you should!, not only is she making waves with her realness on Instagram, but she also happens to be one of the nicest women I’ve ever met.

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Can you tell me about your journey into motherhood? Were you scared or did you feel ready/prepared for it? 

“Where do I start! Honestly, I was terrified. My mister is almost 4 years older than me and was starting to feel that itch to start a family. I was only 25 at the time and felt like I just wasn’t sure I was there yet. One day it just felt like it clicked for me, like all of a sudden I just felt like ‘yeah, this is what I’m supposed to do right now.’ So we decided to stop trying not to have a baby and I got pregnant about a month later.

I’ve always been really active, pre-baby I was way into running and yoga. That being said, I was incredibly freaked out about what pregnancy was going to do to my active lifestyle and my body. Having those thoughts made me feel guilty. Here I was, healthy, capable of having a baby, and I was worried about having a dumpy mom body and winding up wearing sweats and mom jeans for the rest of my life. I decided I’d just focus on staying healthy and having the fittest pregnancy I could.

I ran and taught yoga up until my third trimester when everything fell apart. You know those people who tell you not to try to plan anything when it comes pregnancy/labor/being a mom…they’re mostly right. The second you think you have a handle on things something comes along to humble you and remind you that you’re not in control. I ended up in the hospital with chest and back pain. The doctors thought I might have a blood clot in my lungs but couldn’t be sure without exposing me and the baby to radiation through a CT. They kept talking about how that wasn’t an option because it’s just too risky for the baby so we attempted to rule out everything else we possibly could first.

I have had kidney stones in the past and suggested they check my kidneys but the doctors brushed me off. Later, the decided they wanted to do an ultrasound of my gallbladder and again, I pushed them to look at the kidneys as well. They gave in and ordered both tests. As the tech was doing the scans, I asked her how my kidneys looked, she indicated she wasn’t allowed to give me information but to make sure that the doctor looked at the results from my right kidney. The doctor came back in an hour later and simply said ‘gall bladder looks fine, must be something else’. She turned to leave and I asked, ‘What about the kidney results?’ She opened the chart back up and said ‘Oh! well…your right kidney is really enlarged…but even so…we can’t rule out a clot. I think we’re going to have to send you for CT.’ She asked us to think it over and decide whether or not we wanted to move forward and let her know once we made a decision. I was so conflicted, they’d spent hours telling me how terrible this option was for the baby. I felt so unprepared for all of this. Was getting the CT selfish? Was I going to be a bad mom before I even had this baby exposing him to radiation? Were these doctors just ignoring my kidney issue and sending me for unnecessary tests? 

The mister and and I decided we needed to rule out a blood clot because the risk of me dying wasn’t worth chancing. We cried together for a long time and eventually the tech came to take me for the testing. He was young and kind and asked me to move to the transport bed. As I got up he said, ‘Oh, they didn’t tell me you were pregnant. You can’t have a CT’. I burst into tears as I explained we had no options. He apologized and wheeled me down to the CT room as I tried again to compose myself. A woman came out of the room and said, ‘Oh honey, you’re pregnant…’ Again…massive tears. She hugged me as I cried and asked me to wait a moment so she could arrange for me to be sent to their newest machine which delivered the lowest amount of radiation. She promised to do her best to shield my baby and she held my hand and cried with me through the whole process.
After this entire ordeal, my results came back negative. The nurse came by and let me know I was being released. ‘Wait…released? How am I being released? I’m still in pain, I can barely breathe, what am I supposed to do?’ She said they had to assume at this point the pain was a result of my kidney being blocked by a stone or the pressure from the pregnancy and was backing up with fluid and enlarged. The only options for dealing with this issue while pregnant were to do surgery with no anesthesia to insert a tube into my kidney through my back to drain it. They tube would have to be left in until I had the baby and risk of infection was high. The other option was to take pain killers and try to keep the dose low enough that the baby wouldn’t be born addicted.

After all we had been through, these weren’t options. Nothing that could potentially harm my baby was an option. I left the hospital sick, unable to walk, barely able to breathe, tears running down my face but I had resolved that I was going to protect this baby. I think that was when I first felt like a real mom. That’s when I entered motherhood.”

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What’s something you wish someone had told you that you would advise to a new mom?

“Honestly, don’t listen to anyone and fight for what you know. This is your body, your baby, and your life and you really do know what’s best for you. You know what you’re capable of. People are going to want to tell you who you’re going to be, what it’s going to be like, how you’re supposed to handle it, but being a mama is uniquely you! You need to make those calls. Don’t let others tell you how its going to be, forge that path for yourself. 

I remember so many people saying things like, ‘Say goodbye to that cute body’ or ‘You’ll never be able to wear those jeans again’ or ‘Sleep now because you wont get any later’ or ‘If you don’t breastfeed for a year you’re depriving your child’; the list goes on. Ultimately, none of it matters. You need to do what is right for you and your baby, not what is right by anyone else.”

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Were you always active? If yes, how has this evolved for you? If no, why did you start?

“Yes! In highschool I was really obsessed with ballet. I thought I was going to graduate and major in ballet in college. I eventually realized that I wasn’t that good, I liked eating, not obsessing over my body, and I wanted to actually make some money in my career. Not to mention I was basically destroying my body with all that I was doing to be a tiny dancer.

After I stopped dancing I took up yoga. It felt like the perfect outlet. The flows reminded me of how I used to move in ballet, it maintained my flexibility, but it had so much more to offer me. I also took up running and ran the original Wasatch Back Ragnar relay 4 years in a row to keep me motivated to keep training, pushing mileage, and speed.

Once I became pregnant I kept up with running and yoga as long as I could but my third trimester complications sidelined me until after the baby was born. During that time I stumbled upon Kayla Itsnes’s instagram and saw Kim Fairly’s transformation photos and my jaw literally dropped. That’s what I wanted. She was just like me, a new mama just killing it! I bought the original ebook that day and held on to it until my doctor cleared me to work out.
I got into the BBG guide 6 weeks postpartum and it was killer. After 12 weeks I was expected abs but was mostly just still fat. I’d seen changes in my body but was no where near my pre-baby self. I had seen changes though so I decided if 12 weeks changed my body that much, another 12 would change it more, and I would just keep going until I got where I wanted to go. I wound up doing nothing but BBG and yoga for 2 straight years!

From there I started adding lifting and ended up in my current routine, a mix of BBG, lifting, HIIT, yoga, and running. I get a little bit of all the things I love and I’m really happy with how I look and feel.”

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In the short time we’ve been friends I can tell you are modest and genuine, qualities that I definitely look for in people I surround myself with. What places, people, experiences do you pull inspiration from tobe you? 

“Well, thank you. That means so much to me. I think a lot of who I am comes from my dad. Growing up my dad used to have a lot of little life lessons he’d tell us all the time. There are three that are always on my mind and govern a lot of how I live:

1. You never know what someone is going through. Everyone you interact with could be struggling. You can’t put yourself in their shoes and know those struggles so always be kind. In every interaction you have try to treat people how you would want to be treated.

2. When I die I’m not going to wish I spent more time at work or made more money. I’m going to wish I made more memories, had more experiences, and spent more time with those that I love.

3. Your integrity is all you have in life. Always be honest and real.
He’s a good man that dad of mine.”

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Can you share a time that you struggled and what motivated you to overcome that struggle?

“Umm…daily ha ha. We all have our demons and struggles in various times of our life. I think with any struggle I’ve had, getting a chem degree while working full time, having a baby while working with a husband working and going to school, getting in shape, dealing with my nutrition, etc. the key to moving through it is remembering why it’s important to you, staying consistent, and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Thats where amazing things happen.”

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I’m sure you’ve been asked before, but what does fitness mean to you?

“Fitness is about creating a lifestyle, one that is consistent but growing. It’s about challenging yourself at whatever level you are at and committing to working on yourself everyday.”

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You have an impressive portfolio of brands you’ve worked with on Instagram. I’m sure many Instagrammers would love to know how to get started with collaborations, what few pieces of advice can you share for someone getting started? 

“Omg! Ha ha…could I tell you some stories! My very first collaborations I had a couple brands reach out to me and they wanted to send me product to share about on my instagram if I liked it. I was suuuuuper weirded out by it and convinced they wanted my address so they could poison me and my family ha ha. I started accepting things and ended up posting about a lot of products that really didn’t resonate with me while I figured it out. I kinda came to a point where I decided if I was going to post about products I had to have standards. I implemented a set of rules around what I would and wouldn’t post about and still stick to them. The product has to fit with me and my message, I have to love and use it, it has to be something I’d be willing to recommend to my best friend and feel good about. Like my dad said, ‘Your integrity is all you have.’

If you’re just getting into collaborations or want to get into them, be bold. Approach brands you want to work with and tell them why you’re worth working with and why you love what they’re doing. You will get rejected sometimes but it’s great practice for building your confidence and I think its great to let brands that you love know why you love them!”

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What are your favorite exercises? Least favorite?

“I loooove shoulder day, capped shoulders are a goal of mine for sure. Ab work is also my favorite…all of it. I love working abs. Chest day is killer. I really struggle with it. Part of it is because I had a snowboarding injury at 16 that left my shoulder and ribs permanently displaced. This has caused imbalance and weakness on my right side. I have other muscles that have to compensate for the displaced bones. While I’m functional, I think fear and knowing I’m weaker in my chest holds me back.”

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You’re stuck on an island for a month and you can only listen to one song, eat one food, and watch one show – what are they?

“Oh man…you’re going for the tough questions here. Song would have to be Love on the Weekend by John Mayer because it makes me happy and reminds me of rainy days in San Francisco and quite walks in rain through Muir Woods with my man. One food is a tough one…but let’s go with turkey chorizo tacos. One show…do I get a series or just one episode? If I get a series I want game of thrones because I could watch it a million times and still miss half of what’s actually going on in the plot. If it’s a single episode I’m going to fight you for a movie instead and ask for Ocean’s 11 because it’s just bomb.”

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If you aren’t following Court, make sure to on Instagram and her blog, Courtney’s Fit Life for fashion, lifestyle, and fitness. Here’s to connecting with women that are going through it — we may be different, but when it comes down to it, we are all fundamentally 99.9% the same.

xx

Monetizing Instagram — Dolla Dolla Bills, Ya’ll

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Let me preface this post by saying, I am in no way an expert on monetizing on Instagram. I have friends that fully support themselves from their blogs and/or contracts they have with brands, that are willing to shell out a cool few thousand dollars in exchange for promotion on their Instagram accounts. I’m simply a mom in the mid-west that decided to use my branding and promo skills to start monetizing on social media. 

If this is something you’ve considered doing but don’t know how to start, what it consists of, or want to hear my two cents, read on. And if you don’t want to hear my two cents read on anyway because I spent a lot of time putting this together. 

I think it’s safe to generalize that any stay-at-home parent dreams of making money from home. While taking surveys and participating in focus groups may be OK for a little extra scrilla, you’re not likely to sustain a very meaningful day-to-day lifestyle. But I don’t know you, maybe you should take surveys for money. For me, I feel passionate about fitness and health and it just so happens fitness and mind + body is a $390 billion industry. Initially when I stepped into this space it was as a newbie to weightlifting and any organized exercise regiment in general. I started an Instagram profile to meet like-minded women for accountability. I had no idea I would build a  following or get to work with brands like Manduka, and be part of the #heretocreate campaign with Adidas — and more recently my collaboration with Volition Beauty for the mattifying mist that will be in Sephora stores this week. Like, WOW. Each new collab feels exciting, and honestly doesn’t feel like work because I love what I do. 

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Here are some ideas for those of you that have absolutely no idea what you’re doing. One misconception I hear a lot is, “I need to build more of a following“. While IG is definitely a numbers game, any brand worth working with also cares about authenticity and integrity. If you really want to work with a brand or love a product, approach the company. At the very least they may offer free product for promotion or review and you can begin to build a portfolio. Building a following and a niche takes time. Don’t expect for it to happen overnight. And quality engagement is invaluable.

Your content is worth something. Last year when I started my Instagram I honestly took a little from each feed I found inspiring. That made for a dry profile. I hadn’t found my voice yet, and now looking back in retrospect, that’s OK. I wish someone would have told me that. Like anything else in life, finding your voice takes time. Some amazing advice I received from a friend that owns a branding firm: find your niche and your perfect client. I have found this piece of advice to be incredibly helpful. I have, however, thrown in my own theory. While others may look at the advice as literally finding your niche and perfect client, I think of it this way: 

Speak and share authentically, your perfect client or target audience will be those that connect with your content. When you start sharing solely for others you lose your voice. 

Don’t let anyone tell you what your content is worth. There is no set salary for collaborations, promotions, or branding on Instagram. It’s a bitch. Brands will low-ball the naive, and the naive will work with said brands which really makes it difficult for others to set a precedence. Remember, even though it only takes five minutes to post a photo, you have to prep for the photo, edit it, come up with a witty and engaging caption, and then you spend time connecting with others to share your knowledge. 

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Perfect your media kit and stand behind your own brand and mission. The first paid gig I got on Instagram I was just excited someone wanted to give me money  to share my reviews of something I was already using. It took me a while to figure out I shouldn’t be thinking about promo in terms of an hourly figure, but more what my time, experience, content, and voice were worth. I never have a hard time figuring out if I want to work with someone because I know what my morals and mission are in pursuit of getting my own brand out there. The biggest contributor to whether or not I will work with someone is knowing anything that takes me away from my family, utilizes my skill-set, and is asking for my engagement with 20K of my friends should be willing to pay me what I think I’m worth. Period.

Stop thinking about it as selling. I don’t work with a single brand that I don’t 1. use myself and 2. believe in whole heartedly. These are two things I have promised to myself and my audience. I don’t share anything on IG that I wouldn’t share with one of my friends IRL.

I see a lot of people hating on others for promoting on Instagram and I don’t understand it. Isn’t it the dream to do what you’re passionate about while making a living doing it? There’s a percentage of IG profiles out there that make a bad name for honest influencers — but this isn’t different from any other platform in the world. You have honest, hardworking people and you have bloodsuckers that are willing to do anything for a dollar. The next time you see your favorite IGer promoting something, don’t jump to the conclusion that they are only in it for the money, and also consider that they have to find a way to sustain writing their blog for a living. 

So there it is. My two cents. 

Have questions? Email me: yo@fitbyal.com

Want to see some of the brands I have worked with? Take a looksie here

Back-to-School Bentos 

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As I grow more aware of what is being unnecessarily added to our food and the nutrients being left out, I become a bigger advocate for brands who are doing what they can to meet high standards of safe and healthy food, while remaining easy to prepare. I’m sure you’re wondering how these things can possibly exist together, right??

The staples we usually have at home consist of apples, bananas, mini peeled carrots (because why would kids eat normal shaped carrots?), almond milk, and Quorn. This company makes vegetarian meat substitutes and they do a damn good job. Our favorite Quorn product is the “chicken” nugget. For meat lovers: the texture of this is so close to a regular chicken nugget you would not be able to tell the difference. Little Boo (my three-year-old) has no idea she’s not eating chicken. And Leni (my twelve-year-old) requests them, so it’s no surprise that while making a list of snacks it’s at the top of the list.

With four people in our home, meal and snack prepping can become exhausting with a list of the many other things I do on a daily basis. I love being able to have a healthy protein option for my family without worrying about additives, GMOs, or where a meat we are ingesting came from. The added convenience makes this momma’s life easier — it’s one thing I know I won’t have to spend time worrying about.  

Since we are approaching back-to-school, I’ve been coming up with ways to pair the chicken nuggets with other healthy food. I knew Leni would go nuts over having them in her lunch, I added some brown rice (disguised as a panda), and an apple sliced into thin pieces — because she’s my kid and I know convenience is a thing.

This has become a fun activity we do together — preparing a bento box with an assortment of snacks to go with a staple that we know will always be there, because it makes our lives healthier, convenient, and more fun.


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*this is a sponsored ad – I was paid to write this post but all opinions are honest and my own.

Watch Yo Back

80% of the population will experience back pain and low back issues in their life. That is a staggering percentage. Not only do the majority suffer from back pain, but it is highly likely to result in other dysfunctions in the body. It is mind blowing to me that many of us haven’t figured out that the body should be treated as a whole. When you have shoulder impingement you can’t just treat your shoulder. You have to strengthen all surrounding muscles, which happen to have their own surrounding muscles — the body needs to be viewed as a whole. And while you may think you know what the center of the body is, I think most of you will not. Did you guess the core? You’re right. But did you know “the core” is not just considered your abdominals? It is comprised of your lower back, your intrinsic stabilizers, and the abdominals. Did you also know your abdominals connect from the top of your rib cage all the way down to your pelvis?

When I practiced as a sports massage therapist, I had clients tell me they were having pain in their groin, they had no idea it could be tension referring from their upper back. Did you know muscle tension can even cause tooth aches? It’s true.

As a woman who has suffered from Diastasis Recti, I knew I wanted to build my training around the core. Think of it as the foundation of a house. With a solid concrete basement (the core), you can create solid secondary floors (your arms and legs). Anything else is ass-backwards and will either lead to muscular imbalances and/or dysfunction, and ultimately injury. 

So what do you do?

Fuck all the gimmicks out there. Do bodyweight exercises, lift heavy, don’t ignore your restorative/yoga days. And learn proper mechanics.

One of the big reasons I deadlift, aside from how strong it makes me feel, is because it strengthens and challenges the entire body. The day after I lift heavy, my entire body is sore — quads, glutes, abs, obliques, shoulders, arms…nah mean?

If you’re new to deadlifting, weightlifting, or have previously hurt your back — these half lifts are for you. Even if you’re a seasoned weight-lifter, this is a great way to hyper focus on the core.

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Method

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The first thing you want to do is find a suitable weight for you. If you’re in the first population of indivuals that are prone to back injury or you haven’t lifted before, we are focusing toward endurance + muscle growth.

Find a weight that is challenging to finish 12-15 reps. You’ll perform 12 reps x 3 sets.

1st set: 12 repetitions

60 seconds of rest

2nd set: 12 repetitions 

60 seconds of rest

3rd set: 12 repetitions 

If you are a seasoned lifter or do bodyweight workouts, we are going for strength. Find a weight that is challenging for 6-8 reps.

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  1. begin with feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart, facing forward 
  2. make sure your hands are placed evenly apart in distance across the bar, they should also be shoulder width apart 
  3. as you lift the bar, focus on using your legs and glutes — imagine your hands are just a way to carry the weight, your lower body is driving the force
  4. engage abdominals
  5. stand up straight in one swift controlled motion, squeeze your glutes at top of lift
  6. keep shoulders away from ears
  7. bend over forward, imagine a book being placed on your back [for yogis, this is the same position as a half lift]
  8. the bar should be just below the knee

repeat in quick succession

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Have more exercises you want to see? Let me know below!

Food for Health


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Our house has been hit with a bug, so I pulled out my go-to healthy daily habits to help my girls get better. 

Daily Harvest is the home-delivery subscription I will never go without. DH sends shipments of fresh smoothies, parfaits, and soups right to your doorstep. Unlike other food delivery services, their produce is frozen right from the farm so you get all the benefits of the fruit and veggies before they lose their nutrients during transportation. The smoothies are sent on dry ice so the produce doesn’t lose its nutrient dense integrity. The majority of the ingredients are organic and with flavors like dragon fruit, matcha, and papaya, you can’t go wrong with any of their combinations. My favorites (right now) are mint + cacao and pineapple + matcha, but I honestly haven’t had one smoothie that I don’t love. 

This morning I simply blended up the pineapple + matcha for my older daughter and myself. It’s packed with vitamin C and natural energy which is just what we need today. 

I added a scoop of Vital Proteins Collagen Beauty Greens for protein, and a daily dose of vitamin A. It’s all organic so I don’t have to think about what I’m adding to my food. I use Vital Proteins every day. 


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As a mother of two, it’s my priority to know what I’m feeding my kids. Gone are the days of ignorance of what’s in our food. With the epidemic of childhood obesity, early onset of diabetes, and cancers, it is of the utmost importance that as a parent, I don’t ignore the scary shit being put into our food. I am grateful there are brands out there that care about food, but most of all, care about people.

If you’re interested in either of these products, feel free to follow the links in this blog post, and use FITBYAL at checkout with Daily Harvest for three free smoothies


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Health and happiness to you.

I am sponsored by these brands, but all opinions are my own.

See These Nice Creams


I hope you get the Pharrell reference to the title of this blog. And if you don’t, that’s alright, we can still be friends.


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I’m kinda obsessed with nice cream. As an ice cream connoisseur [spoiler], I have spent a lot of time eating ice cream. I’ve tried brands like Halo (decent) and Arctic Freeze (disgusting) in an effort to eat healthier treats, and as of late I’ve been eating copious amounts of nice cream GUILT FUCKING FREE.

I thought I would share my easy recipe with you.

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What you’ll need:

2 bananas (frozen for 2+ hrs.)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 

pinch of cinnamon (to taste)

1 cup strawberries 

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Method:

-blend ingredients in blender or processor until smooth, about 4-5 minutes

-garnish as desired 

that’s. it.

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When it’s this easy and delicious to eat healthy there’s no excuse not to. Seriously try this, you won’t be disappointed and your poop will thank you.


Enjoy!

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Stop Yourself


1. Stop calling it a “cheat meal” — this refers to doing something wrong. Indulging in food guiltlessly and being able to get back to nutritious eating means your lifestyle is healthy. When you understand that, there’s no reason to restrict yourself from living life and enjoying something.

2. Stop comparing — just because so-and-so had a baby and is only six months postpartum and looks “better” than you doesn’t make you any less of a person. There will always be someone thinner than you, and someone less healthy than you. Just be you, that’s more than enough. 

3. Stop unconsciously living — when I was at my lowest point in my depression, I had bouts where all I wanted to do was listen to sad music so I could feel an ounce of emotion through the jaded numbness. I made a rule to do one thing every day for myself, even if it was as simple as drawing a hot bath. Do something that makes you happy every day so you can appreciate the small things, because the little moments are the parts that compose the majority of our lives.

4. Stop surrounding yourself with shitty people — this one took me a long time to come around to. For years I spent time with people who were judgemental, disloyal, negative, and self-loathing — spoiler, I was just like them. I always hated the saying, you’re only as good as the company you keep – but it’s so damn true. If you keep someone around who constantly complains it starts to seep in. Healthy people are also healthy minded people. 

5. Stop expecting you won’t fail — life is full of failures, in fact, probably a lot more than accomplishments. If you stopped dating after the first five bad dates there would be a lot of single people out there. Rejection, missed goals, it’s all part of the process. Accept it and keep moving forward. 

6. Stop the jealousy — period. 

7. Stop placing worth on material things — now, this one may only resonate with some, but I guarantee it is essential for total happiness. Hiding behind name brands, thinking a dress is going to make you feel better…find a way for your mind and body to allow you to feel confident in anything. This is one I’m still working on. For a long time I hid behind my clothes because I was unhappy with my body and had low self esteem. There’s nothing wrong with liking the way you look in something, but don’t let it define you. Any material thing should serve a purpose and add to your life, otherwise it just becomes mental clutter. 

8. Stop expecting perfection — when we start our fitness journey we all have a picture in our mind of what we want to look like at the end of our transformation. It rarely results in this way, because we continue to desire more. When fitness and health become a lifestyle you no longer chase after a fictitious body, you become content with your own and learn to embrace it and love it. Because nothing beautiful in life is “perfect”.

9. Stop ignoring your inner voice — and start listening to it. If you’re not a sociopath you likely have that voice inside that tells you when something is a bad idea, listen to it. Treat yourself well. Don’t do things out of habit or because you’re afraid of what someone might think. Our conscience is a lot stronger than we allow ourselves to believe.

10. Stop giving power to negativity — when something bothers you or you start to go down a dark path, acknowledge it, get to the root of why you’re thinking about it and then resolve it in your head. I’ve gotten to a point in my life where anyone could say something about my body or my actions and I really don’t give a fuck. Now, obviously if it’s someone in my life and the opinion has any merit that’s another thing.

I am living my life authentically. I’m doing the best with what I have. I’m happy. I used to allow comments on Instagram or baffling things people would say seep inside. Today, I know there is nothing anyone can say that I haven’t already thought about myself and let go of. No one has the power to make you feel, that is your power. 

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When we stop ourselves and start to think more consciously it’s almost certain we realize that we have been abusive to ourselves in the past. Break free from societal pressures, justifications you allow yourself to believe, and negativity. What if we could live a life that we tell our loved ones, our children to live? 

Do you have one to add to the list? Sound off below in the comments.

Happy Friday, friends.

Yoga for Strength 

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On this edition of myth busters…just kidding — I want to share some of my thoughts on yoga as strength training because like many misconceptions in fitness, yoga is seen as only a spiritual practice. While its roots are heavily immersed in spirituality, newer teachings have transformed it into a modernized way to move the body and strengthen the mind and the body.

Before I added yoga as a part of my daily ritual back in May, I had a similar opinion of it. Though I knew people became stronger doing it, I didn’t think its intensity was enough for me. I. Was. Wrong.

There are many different kinds of yoga to choose from — they range from spiritual and more meditative to HIIT-like. I love flows that target the body part(s) I may be training from day-to-day. My personal favorites are vinyasa and power yoga. This is a great website for reference of several different kinds of yoga practice.

OK, so now, why yoga for strength? Because it kicks your ass and requires great mental and physical strength. As with all forms of exercise, form is very important. Without proper form you are more prone to injury, and improper training can result in muscle or joint dysfunction. Yoga is all about the mind body connection — slowing down to link these two together. When you acknowledge this connection, you are more aware of proprioception – an unconscious perception of movement and spatial orientation of the body. 

When engaging in any physical activity, you become more conscious of balance, strength, and touch. 

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As someone who loves to lift, the marriage between weight training and yoga has a contrast that allows each activity to help the other. For optimum performance of muscles, they need to be flexible and able to reach full ROM (range of motion) — yoga (and stretching) are imperative for this reason. Conversely, to keep ligaments and bones strong, weight bearing exercises are key. Weight training builds more bone density and promotes lean muscle, which burns fat and alleviates stress on the joints. 

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I use Down Dog App daily, sometimes multiple times a day. It has great options to coincide with your daily workout. I’m not sponsored for this, I just love the app! Another great app is Asana Rebel, you can build your own program depending on your goals. If you’ve been hesitant to try yoga, don’t be! Chances are, your other workouts will benefit from this practice, along with other parts of your life too.