Gym Accessories I Love & Recommend

The New Year is nearing and many New Year’s Resolutions include being more healthy and getting active! I can already tell that people are starting in on these resolutions as the traffic at the gym has picked up a lot since November – but that’s good! I’ve been a gym goer now since about fall of 2012. It’s a hobby that I love, and I share with others to encourage them to give a new activity a try. I was not into running when I started, so instead I stuck with lifting weights. In 2013, my New Year’s Resolution was to start running and it took me until this past year to really feel like I was good at it. I actually enjoy getting in a good run, especially when I can get a run in outside during the fall – my favorite!

If you’re just starting out at the gym life, go for it! Do what you can and work towards your goals. If you’re like me and work better when you have certain accessories, like having a cute desk organizer at the office, then having some fun gym accessories will make going to gym that much more exciting. Now, I’m saying that all of these items are necessary. In fact a lot of these are things that you can forgo for a long time, but they’re are add-in to your gym bag that I love and totally recommend purchasing if your goal is to stick to the gym and become more fit.

Gym Bag 
So you’re going to need a gym bag to put all of these cool items in. You can use whatever you have around the house or what’s easiest for you to carry around day-to-day. I head to the gym right after work so I bring everything I need and leave it in my car. A backpack works great and can be easily carried so you can carry a briefcase or purse if you’re going to the gym directly from work or school. I got a basic gym bag on Amazon when I started going to the gym, but it only lasted a year before starting to tear. If you’re going to buy a new bag, I recommend getting a good quality one right away to carry the weight of clothes, shoes, water bottle, etc. I purchase a basic Adidas bag on Ebay, new with tags, for a deal around $15, similar to this one here. And it’s purple, my favorite color! It doesn’t have a lot of pockets, but it’s roomy and I can fit all of my gym clothes and shoes then all my work clothes when I’m heading home after my workout.

Fitbit
I’ve already raved on about how much I enjoy my Fitbit in a previous post, but I’m again going to tell you that I’ve had my Flex since August and it’s my favorite gym/fitness accessory. If you’re someone who likes to make to-do lists or likes planning tasks on paper, then you’ll probably benefit a lot from having a Fitbit as you go through your fitness journey. I love seeing how many calories I’ve burned throughout the day and doing the Workweek Hustle challenges with my friends. Since I switched to my new job about a month ago, I’m very happy to report that I’m getting A TON more steps in than I used to! Seriously, go get one!

Blender Bottle
Some may not think that a Blender Bottle is essential to keep in a gym bag, but in my opinion it’s the best option for a water bottle. I personally own two Blender Bottles so that I have a back-up if I leave one at work or it still needs to be washed from the day before. Mine also come with a loop on the top which is handy for a carabiner.  I shared my go to recipe for my breakfast protein shake a few posts ago and I always use my Blender Bottle to make mine. I also like to use it when I’m taking Emergen-C or those Crystal Light packets to shake everything up. It’s also the water bottle that I bring on vacation, hiking, or throw into a (large) purse because I know it doesn’t leak. A few years ago, I purchased a Camelbak because it’s claim is that it’s leak-proof and it has a lifetime guarantee. While I still prefer my Camelbak for the straw on days I’m running at the gym, I have had three caps that have all leaked when I’ve put the bottle in my gym bag after a workout.

Athletic Clothes and Shoes
While I don’t think going out and purchasing all new gym  clothes in totally necessary, I do think that a few good items makes getting dressed for the gym a lot more fun. For the ladies, investing in a comfortable sports bra that works for your body is key. My favorite are the ones with thinner racerback straps – they put a lot less pressure on the upper back and shoulders. I also really enjoy athletic running shorts that are made from the wicking material. Any old tees or tanks are perfect for working out, so no need to invest in those.

Investing in a good pair of cross trainers or running shoes, depending on your fitness routine, is definitely worth it. I went about a year without investing in good shoes because I didn’t think they were needed. Once I challenged myself to start running, I bought basic Asics for around $40 – a great investment then upgraded when I started getting better. As for lifting shoes, you generally want something that more flat and stable. For my lifting days, I also have the Asics Gel Fit Tempo Cross-Training shoe which I love! I got these on sale in early 2015 and I don’t want have to ever replace them – great for lifting too!

Other Basics
In addition to all the fun gadgets mentioned above, it’s a great idea to always have an extra pair of socks, headphones, antibacterial wipes, a mini Febreze, and a small towel in your bag. If you’re someone who likes to shower right after a workout, then you’ll want to add your preferred toiletries and a towel to dry if your gym doesn’t provide them. In the three years I’ve been a gym goer, I’ve never showered at the gym so I don’t keep any of that in my bag. That sounds a little gross, I know, but I use to live a block from my gym and I usually never plan anything too close to when I have a gym date scheduled.  If you plan your gym dates after you leave work and you live in a colder climate, then I recommend bringing your gym bag into your job or office from your car to keep your clothes warmer. There’s nothing fun about putting clothes on that have been in a 20 degree car all day. I usually grab my bag at lunch and let it sit in my office.

Of course accessories aren’t going to be the reason you start a fitness routine or become more fit as the year goes on – that’s all about you. But you can do it. Once you have your reasons for your fitness routine, you’ll have your motivation! I know it sounds crazy to some that I love going to the gym, lifting weights, or running, but it’s the truth and make me more happy than any of my other hobbies.

Happy New Year Everyone! Hope all your resolutions are attained this upcoming year. Leave your fitness goals or New Year’s Resolutions below, I’d love to hear what they are.

Base Essentials | Foundations, Powder, Tools

I work at an office job and I’m usually so busy through the day that I barely have time for get water or use the bathroom, let alone time to touch up my foundation or powder throughout the day. It’s pretty much required that I have a foundation routine that is medium to high coverage and long-lasting so I don’t have to touch up or worry about getting shiny. These are the base and foundation products that I use to achieve this look and keep my looking great until the end of the day.

Foundations

Most of the foundations I use nowadays have a higher coverage and are usually loved by those with oily skin. For years my skins was dry to normal, but in the past six months or so I’ve started getting shiny throughout the day. These are the only foundations I feel comfortable wearing all day that help keep the shine away.

Cover Girl Outlast Stay Fabulous Foundation, Natural Beige
I already talked about my love for this foundation in my November favorites and I’m still loving it. It’s the only foundation I’ve worn for a month straight now. I wear the shade Natural Beige, which is usually the case for most foundations, and I don’t have any issues with the shade oxidizing throughout the day like I had previously heard. The consistency is more of a liquid than I was expecting which makes it apply a lot easier and keeps from setting too quickly during application. This foundation does have a scent to it, kind of like paint, that may bother some who are sensitive to smell, but once the product sets it’s no longer detectable. The packaging is glass, which could be a downfall when it comes to traveling, but it does include a pump which I think makes up for that. I highly recommend this foundation if you need one with great coverage and that lasts all day.

L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte 24 HR Foundation, Natural Buff
I got this foundation at the beginning of summer in the shade Natural Buff, and at the time it was a bit too dark. I also had some issues with getting the foundation to apply evenly without it looking cakey. I ended purchasing a Beauty Blender and getting a bit of a tan, and this became my go-to foundation for the summer months. I wore it for three months straight through the heat and humidity of summer, and with the Beauty Blender it didn’t look the least bit cakey. During our vacations and road trips over the summer, this was what I traveled with since it’s a convenient squeezable packaging. I haven’t been wearing this much since October as the color doesn’t match the best right now, but I will go back to as soon as the summer months come back around.

Cover Girl Ready Set Gorgeous Foundation
This is another foundation from Cover Girl, that I think as a more natural finish to it that the Outlast formula, but still has amazing coverage while keeping shine away. I rediscovered this foundation in my collection before Jake and I went on a little road trip in October. I brought it with because it has travel friendly, squeezable packaging (similar to the L’Oreal foundation) and was so surprised at how well it held up while hiking and during some rainy weather we encountered. I wear the shade Natural Beige and it’s a great shade for me this time of year.

Powders
Hands down the best powder you can buy for your collection is the MAC Mineralize Skin Finish Natural. I absolutely love and highly recommend purchasing it even at the $32 price tag. I wear the shade medium dark which matches me most of the year. I use it to set my T-zone and also use it to touch-up throughout the day. When I’m not using MSF Natural, I’m using the  L’Oreal True Match Super Blendable Powder in the shade N4. During the winter months my MSF Natural can run a bit too dark for me and I find that the L’Oreal powder is a great alternative in terms of the finish, application, and longevity. Sometimes I like to use a loose powder for setting concealer, baking, or even as a pre-step to applying foundation, the Wayne Goss Technique. Originally I purchase the Laura Mercier Translucent setting powder, but returned it because I wasn’t sure I would use it enough to justify the price. Instead I purchase the NYC Smooth Skin Loose Face Powder in translucent and it works great for me. It’s about $4 at Target and find it to be super versatile. If you find that the translucent shade is showing up on your skin tone or coming off ashy there’s another shade that has a bit of a tint to it.

Tools

I swear by my Beauty Blender. I will never go back to using a foundation brush to apply my liquid, and even some of my pressed, cream foundations. I find that it applies high coverage foundations evenly without leaving a cakey finish that I use to have with kabuki style brushes. I also use it to apply concealer under my eyes, which helps pick up any excess product and reduces creasing or settling. For my powders I love the Sigma F15 Duo Fibre Powder/Blush, which doubles as a blush brush for highly pigmented blush shades. I recently included both of these tools in my November Favorites and they’re absolutely essentially to my foundation routine.

Primer/Setting

Honestly, I’ve yet to find a primer that I think is making a difference in my foundations longevity or how my makeup looks. I have a few I’m trying to work through, but nothing I consider an essential. I do however swear by the Urban Decay Setting Spray; I use the original. I love it and can definitely tell a difference when I don’t use it to set my makeup. Often times I go to the gym right after work and do not remove my makeup, but when I’m done with my run I don’t know notice my makeup running or even coming off when I blot. I really attribute that to the setting spray.

Like I said, I haven’t found a good primer that I find to be essential to my foundation routine, but I am on the look out for one. I’ve heard awesome things about the Makeup Forever primers and now that my skin gets oily throughout the day, I’m think about trying the mattifying primer that’s had nothing my rave reviews. I also wouldn’t mind trying the Smashbox Primer Water since so many reviews claim that it’s a game changer. Just a few makeup items I can add to my Christmast list!

Time For A Protein Shake

This is going to be a short and rather boring post. It’s how I make my protein shakes. It’s a very simple recipe, but it’s low in calories with all the benefits of other protein shakes I’ve made in the past.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 6 – 8 ounces unsweetened almond milk, original or vanilla – 30 calories per serving
  • 1 serving of protein powder of choice – I like EAS Complete Protein, Vanilla 150 calories per serving
  • 4 – 6 ounces water
  • Blender Bottle, or something to mix/blend your shake together
  • Optional: peanut butter, flax seed, oatmeal, banana, other add-ins if you prefer, but keep in mind these add more calories

That’s it. I add the almond milk and water into my Blender Bottle to around  10 – 12 ounces, add the protein powder and shake it up! Shake well and chill for a few minutes before enjoying. This is so simple and it’s around 180 calories, a great breakfast or quick meal throughout the day. If you want to add in some other ingredients for a bit of flavor go for it, but be easy on them. Sometimes I’ll add a tiny bit of peanut butter or a banana. I also know some people that add oatmeal into their shakes, but that’s not something I would prefer. Also, I really recommend getting a Blender Bottle – I love mine and I have two! It’s great for traveling too! Mine have loops on the tops so I clip a carabiner to it and attach it to my backpack when hiking or traveling. Careful about dropping it though, I’ve broken one this way.

So that’s it! Try out this recipe and enjoy. Use different protein powders. I really recommend almond milk for anyone cutting calories or fat since it’s basically low in everything compared to regular milk.

Thanks for reading!

2014 Favorites

Beauty Favorites

MAC Mineralize Skin Finish Natural – Medium Deep
MSF natural is hands down my favorite face powder.  I can use it all year round and it enhances my base, whether it’s foundation or a tinted moisturizer.  I can double up on it as a setting powder for under eye concealer while I’m traveling as long as I use a light hand. Sometimes I feel like the shade Medium Deep is a bit too dark in the dead of winter, but this summer I found out that MAC recently made a MSF natural a half shade lighter than Medium Deep so I may invest in it.  It’s an investment worth it too, I’ve had my compact for over two years now.

Sigma F88 – Flat Angled Kabuki
I own all of the Sigma kabuki brushes, but I always settle with the F88 over the others.  I feel like this one works the best with any kind of foundation, liquid, powder, cream, and whipped.  It can also blend a little bit of concealer in a pinch.  This brush over all the others tends to clean up better than the others, not that a stained brush affects how it performs, but it just feels better when you can see the brush clean.

NYX Powder Blush – Dusty Rose
This is my go-to blush for every day, traveling, and the blush I carry in my handbag for touch-ups.  I love it so much I own two of them so I don’t have to go back and forth from my collection to my handbag.  The finish of this blush is mostly matte, but the color adds a natural glow to cheeks and can be layered.  I tend to use an angled contour brush to apply this blush, which is the same brush I use to apply the Benefit Rockateur Box Blush, another favorite blush for the year.  The Benefit blush is similar to the NYX blush except for the added shimmer finish to it that acts as a highlight for the cheeks.  When I first purchased the Benefit Rockateur blush I didn’t like, but it’s definitely grown on me.  I like to layer both blushes with cream blushes and the Benefit blush works best on my skin color in fall and winter.

Rimmel Scandaleyes Shadow Paint – Rich Russet & Peachy Apricot
I’ve read mixed reviews on this product, but I really love these!  I only have the two shades listed above, but both offer an easy one eye shadow look.  You definitely need to wear an additional eye shadow primer under these like Urban Decay Primer Potion, but I don’t mind the extra step.  This product can be used with fingers or a sythnetic shader brush to apply the product evenly over the lids then if I’m feeling like I want some more dimension I add a light brown the crease and a white to the inner corners.  With an eye shadow primer these shadows last all day, I even wore it to a pool party and accidentally dipped in the water and the shadow stayed in place.  You can also use these as an eye shadow base if you want a more bold look.  These are also great for traveling!

Mario Bedescu Hyaluronic Eye Cream*
I discovered this eye cream this year by accident when I received it as a piece of gratis at my job.  My eye area is very dry, more dry than the rest of skin, and very sensitive.  This was the first time I’ve had an eye cream that has hydrated enough that I can feel comfortable wearing under eye concealer.  It also keeps minor patchy spots that I tend to get on my eye lids at bay.  There is no scent that I can detect with this product and the half ounce lasts since you only need a small amount to get the job done.

Curly Sexy Hair Curling Creme
This is my holy grail curling creme for my naturally (very) curly hair.  I tell everyone to try this no matter what level of curl their hair is on.  This product works with your natural curl while taming frizz and holding the curl all day.  It doesn’t add any additional curl to your style, but for me that’s perfect.  I buy these bottles by the bulk at Ulta when it’s on Buy 2, Get 1 Free.  If you aren’t ready to commit to three bottles of the product, try the Curly Sexy Hair Color Safe Curl Defining Conditioner and the Healthy Sexy Hair Tri-Wheat Leave In Conditioner.  The three products together work wonders on my hair!

OPI Nail Envy
I use this product almost daily to keep my nails from peeling and it doubles up as a base when you paint your nails.  I attribute this product to the health of my nails.  Now that my nails grow a significant length I can keep a manicure for a few days during the week.

Wide Tooth Comb
Any old wide tooth comb or detangling comb is the best for curly hair.  I keep mine in the shower and then use a normal comb after conditioning my hair.  Generally, brushes aren’t the best to use on curly hair so I tend to keep away from them.

Conditioning caps
You can buy conditioning caps at drug stores, Target, Ulta, or Sally’s for pretty cheap.  I get mine  CVS on a BOGO half off and throw them out after one use.  I shampoo my hair, layer on my hair mask of choice, and place a conditioning cap over top.  I usually do this on Sunday mornings and relax for a bit with a face mask on for about 15 minutes and then rinse out the conditioner.

Random Favorites

Blender Bottle*
I know this sounds crazy, but this bottle really is the best thing ever.  I love the size of it, I have a 28 ounce, and it’s perfect for water at the gym or running errands because I can throw the bottle in my purse and I know it won’t leak.  I make protein shakes in this for a quick breakfast on the go, mix vitamin C packets, and water flavors in this bottle.  This is hands down the best bottle ever no matter what you’re using it for.  If you’re a gym goer like me I definitely suggest investing in one just to keep in your gym bag along with a protein mix for an after workout shake.

Sons of Anarchy
I watch the entire series of Sons this past year and it quickly has become one of my favorite TV shows, in my top five for sure.  I started in early spring and watched the series finale this month.  I can’t say I was surprised by the finale, but it was poetic and I can live with it.  I don’t quite know what exactly it is that I love about this show, maybe it’s the family aspect or the hierarchy of it all, but I couldn’t get enough of it once I started watching it.  You can find six seasons of SOA on Netflix and can purchase the final season ITunes

Slow cooker
This year I jumped on the slow cooker bandwagon and I’m never going back; I am cooking in a Crock Pot for the rest of the my life.  One of my favorite recipes is a fall soup that I found on Pinterest that contains sweet potato and barley making it a filling lunch.  I usually freeze half of whatever recipe I cook so I have lunch made for about two weeks.

Most of these favorite products I packed for my upcoming trip to Iceland because I know that they’re the products I can use without having to think about it.  Next year I’m hoping to find a higher end foundation that I fan add to my favorites list and keep working on my personal records for the gym.  I just purchased lifting straps to help with my grip strength since I’m getting to a weight that’s hard on my hands even with gloves.  Hopefully, my 2015 favorites includes blogging, as I’ve added to the top of my New Year’s resolutions list.

Links noted with an asterisk (*) are affiliate links.