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.

What Do You Know About Business Casual?

A lot of changes have been happening lately and one of those includes an overhaul of my closet. I’ve recently decided to take on a new opportunity and I’ve had to purchase new clothes that will update my slightly post-college, young style to business casual. This a new experience for me as my first job out of college was all casual wear so I never went out and consciously purchased nice clothes. I’ve had about two weeks to make this change and update my closet. My solution to all of this was found by mistake: Old Navy.

I’ve rarely shopped at Old Navy in the past. I have one gym shirt from their active section, purchased a pair of khakis for a previous job, a pair of jeans, and of course flip flops. Other than that, I’ve never been able to find clothes that fit me well from their store. A few months ago I purchased some black denim from Old Navy in the Rockstar style and I thought I liked the fit, but it’s too high waisted for me and the material is too stretchy; who even says that denim is too stretchy? Anyways, one of my coworkers was telling me how she always strikes good deals from OldNavy.com with coupons and free shipping, plus she had found the perfect fit in her clothes by shopping exclusively in the petite section. I never even thought to try petite styles, since it’s only offered online I had no idea it even existed.

I made a few purchases from Old Navy’s petite section back in September, buying the same dress my coworker had been rocking over the summer plus a few other staples. I fell in love! Everything fit perfect. Not too long after I made another purchase, this time I added a few skirts, cute basic tops, and some fun slacks that I could wear to a business casual environment. Again, everything fit perfect. Well, nearly everything, but the great thing about purchasing from Old Navy’s website is being able to do in store returns. I’ll never be able shop at an online store without having that offer. Especially seeing as the petite clothing is only available that in-store return option is important. Before making any of these purchases I made sure to refer to their size chart to make sure I was in the ballpark of sizes I should be ordering. Most of the items I’ve purchased have been an extra small and I’m enjoying their fit. I had to return a few items that I purchased in a small, but I feel like Old Navy sizes run a little on a large size, for your reference.

What’s also great about shopping online at Old Navy is their never ending sales; I haven’t purchased one item at full price yet, Old Navy Cash when it’s going on, and you get cash back shopping through Ebates. I feel like everyone should know about Ebates at this point, but in case you don’t please sign up. I’ve had Ebates for years but only started utilizing it the past few months and I’m addicted to it. Add the Ebates button to your browser too!

I’m still trying to bridge the gap between business and casual style. If anyone has a definite answer of what business casual is, leave your thoughts – I’d love a clearer explanation that what I think it is! Hope this helps and introduces you to my new favorite store. Don’t worry, Old Navy also carries regular and tall styles, in addition to petite!

Major Budgeting

Well unfortunately, I was in a car accident this past week.  I am a-OK, minor sores from the seat belt and jolt, but I am alive and well.  The car on the other hand, is not doing too great.  The car went into the ditch and is well totaled, but what can you do.  I saw the accident happening before I could do anything so I relaxed, grabbed the wheel, and closed my eyes.  I was the most worried about what my mom would think as it was her car.  Sadly, she passed away about a year and half ago and I know she would be happy I’m in one piece, but I did feel bad for a minute.  These things happen and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.  I’m thankful to be alive, unharmed, and have the means to purchase a new car so I can continue to work and make up for what has been lost.

So now that I’ve purchased a new car and I’m back to a major budget, what do I do with my healthy eating habits?  I’m currently on Pinterest looking for some healthy, vegetarian friendly meals.  I purchased a new programmable Crock Pot a few weekends ago and I’d love to use it more for weekly evening meals since it turns over to warm after a set time.  And with slower cooker meals, there’s always left overs for lunch.  Lunch meals are always my main point of concern because I’m the most hungry then.  My dinners tend to be lighter and packed with smaller portions of healthy options, such as cottage cheese, frozen veggies on the side, pretzels, and small leftover.  Often, I run after work and I’m not home until about 6:30 p.m., eating around 7:00 p.m.  I know that doesn’t sound very late, but I’m usually settled around 9:00 p.m. and in bed by 10:25 p.m., right after the weather reports.  Now I want to budget all my meals and say goodbye to any social life for a few weeks.

I have shopped at Aldi’s many times in the past two years, and I honestly enjoy it quite a bit.  I’ve read reviews online that talk pretty poorly of the store, but if you go in with a level head and keep your eye on the good stuff, you can come out with a lower grocery bill.  I will admit, that if you purchase the more processed, sugar, or carb foods your bill will be lower than what I generally pay, but don’t get pulled in by it.  You can get healthy food options at a fair price at Aldi’s.  For me it’s worth it to go and get the basics: eggs, almond milk (unsweetened even!), cottage cheese, quick oats, salad, brown rice, frozen veggies, and fresh fruits and veggies when they’re in season.  You’ll have to “splurge” a bit on frozen salmon, shrimp, or chicken breast (for Jake), but it’s a few dollars cheaper than the big box grocery stores; still worth it!  I can’t speak for the fresh meats as I don’t buy them, but do check it out and see if the price is worth buying.  It can be difficult to purchase the more specifics foods, like certain vegetables, quinoa, healthy dips, vegetable broth at time, and canned soups.  A lot of stock at Aldi is dependent on their weekly shipments and often, popular food sell fast.  The best time to go is right away when the store opens, even if it’s a weekend.  Because the store is smaller than most, you’ll be through within a half an hour for week of groceries.

Learning the skill of basic cooking will go far when you’re on a budget.  I couldn’t do more than scrambled eggs when I moved out, but my ability to look at a recipe and feel confident in making the recipe and have it turn out tasty has gone through the roof.  Even Jake has taken a notice to my cooking skills, and he worked in a restaurant kitchen year ago.  I’d like give my cooking skills a go with hosting a small gathering in the coming year, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

For now, I’m budgeting, meal planning, and keeping my neck and hip relaxed with a heating pad.  Please don’t be fooled by all of this talk of healthy eating and gym time, I do indulge in chocolate or sweets if I crave them, but I do try very hard to eat as healthy as possible.  I’ll be sure to update in a few weeks on my budget and meals.  Remember cutting season is nearly upon us!  And with it, spring which brings safer driving conditions.  Everyone be safe!

Gym Investments – Shoes

When I started going to the gym, I was sill in college and the shoes I purchased to use on the elliptical were some basic tennis shoes.  I had some Saucony tennis shoes that I bought on Amazon just to do some basic cardio and to wear to my retail job for my eight hour shifts.  After really committing myself to the gym I invested in some running shoes and eventually some more athletic shoes that I would use for lifting.

For my New Year’s Resolution of 2013, I decided I wanted to make running my resolution.  I ran once with my Saucony tennis shoes and decided I wasn’t about it.  I invested in $40 ASICS running shoes, which had a lot of gel in the heal, and it changed my life.  I’m terrible at running, still, and I honestly don’t really enjoy the activity.  That being said, now that I have been running for a good amount of time getting back on the elliptical is hard to do; I’d rather just run and get it over with.  A few months ago, my starter shoes ripped and I ran out the same day and picked up another pair of ASICS shoes, partially because I was committed to the brand and because of a good deal at Sports Authority.  I love Sports Authority by the way.  The store has great deals and clearance items for athletes and gym goers.  I like looking halfway cute while I’m at the gym (though that shouldn’t be the priority), but I never spend more than $15 on any single item of athletic clothes.  Even my athletic leggings purchased from Forever 21 were around $11 and they’re great.  Seriously, invest in quality items which enhance your fitness activities, but save on fabric that will just get sweaty.

Last year, while browsing my local DSW I found a pair of ASICS Gel-Craze Cross-training shoes for around $40 that I’ve been rocking the for the past year and half.  They were definitely a step-up from what I had been wearing and I could also wear them to work on my lazy days or running errands on the weekend.  I waterproof all my shoes with a spray you can pick-up at any shoe store, but I still keep from wearing them during inclement weather.

Before Christmas I added some shoes to my Amazon wish list hoping to get them for a gift so that I could wear them to Iceland.  I’m glad I didn’t end up getting them there was a lot more snow in Iceland than I was expecting so I wore my boots the whole time.  The other reason I’m glad I didn’t end up getting them for Christmas was because they went on sale right after our trip!  I was browsing Amazon for some white boards markers and found the shoes I wanted for over $20 off, directly from the ASICS Amazon storefront.  I purchased the ASICS Gel Fit Tempo Cross-Training Shoe for around $40 dollars and I’m glad I went for the deal.  These shoes weigh only a couple of ounces and have far less gel than my previous lifting shoes making squats a hell of a lot easier.  The lighter shoes is also easier to walk in than the others because of the weight and because this style is a little slimmer.

There’s a bit of a trend here, that ASICS athletic shoes are the only tennis shoes I own.  I had heard that ASICS was the preferred brand among runners which is why I started out with them, but it’s been by chance that I have ended up with two cross-trainer shoes from them.  I am in no way affiliated with ASICS or sponsored by them, but I’ve enjoyed my purchases from them and would highly suggest checking them out.  Investing in some goods shoes is worth it.  It made running so much easier, once I put my mind to doing it.  If you’re just starting out with your fitness goals, you can find some good deals on quality shoes that will make reaching your goals that much more attainable.

Brace Yourself; Spring is Coming

Well I can honestly say, that I have never been more excited for spring.  And then summer!

I’m not a summer person, at all.  My favorite season is fall.  I love everything about it.  The colors, the smell, the cooling temperature.  I even want a fall wedding.  But this past winter has been trying.  I think most of December through February were spent below 10 degrees, if not in subzero temperatures.  There was a ridiculous snow storm a few weeks back that iced all of Minnesota’s roads.

Spring allows for more shoe options.  I’ve worn boots to work almost everyday since November, before the first snow fall.  I’m ready for a mixture of my boots, new rainboots, flats, and slip on shoes.  I also can’t wait to start wearing crop tops again! I’ve been working out so hard since fall, first bulking season, not summer routine, and eventually cutting and I just want to wear all the clothes that show off how hard I’ve been working out.  By the way, eating “clean” is beyond expensive.  I left the grocery store today with a $60 transaction (about $20 more than my usual receipt), and that’s because I bought almost zero carbs, instead choosing veggies and fruits.  Ugh I don’t know how long that will last.  Also, probably one of the last times I go to the big box grocery store.  Aldi is usually my grocery store of choice, because I  tend to cut off about 20% of my bill every time I go.  But hey!  The things we sacrifice.

Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day!  I’m actually a little less than half Irish, believe it or not.  I visited Ireland when I was  years old with my high school band.  It was beautiful and I would go back in a heart beat, no convincing needed.  Though I’d like to visit other countries first.  I’m planning on getting a green beer tomorrow night with my bestie in celebration.

Finally, spring is coming which means GAME OF THRONES!  Literally every show I’ve been watching the past few months has been passing time until Game of Thrones begins again.  I’ve watch all of Sons of Anarchy, which has slowly become my second favorite TV show behind Spartacus.  Seriously, go watch Spartacus; it’s amazing.  Then watch Sons of Anarchy, you’ll fall in love with it.  I’ve also started watching That 70s Show, which I watched on and off in college when I didn’t have cable.  I always liked it, but I never realized how awesome the show actually is.  I highly suggest it.