My 2016 Fitness Goals

In 2016 I want to challenge myself to continue being fit and active while also working towards new fitness goals. I’ve been an gym goer for three years now and I’m so happy I decided to give it a try! Going to the gym makes me so happy and feel great about myself – I’m honestly a huge gym and fitness activist. I love that I have the strength to do tasks at home or at work without asking for help from others. As I’ve continued to do weight training, I’ve surpassed weights that I never thought I would be able to lift. I’m a five foot, small framed young woman, and generally my body type is not seen as being strong. But I’ve definitely surprised some guys at the gym who are pretty impressed at the weight I can squat!

Just because I’ve already reached a lot of goals doesn’t mean I should stop improving. In 2016, during spring and summer in particular I want to try new exercises during my cuts that will not only help me reach my fitness goals, but also my physical appearance goal. Reaching that goal is about endurance training and personal perseverance. Even though it’s only the new year and Minnesota has at least three more months of winter, I’m ready for spring so I can get back to running outside and start cutting!

Running a 5K | Above all other fitness goals I have set for myself, running a 5K would be the number one goal I want to achieve. I was never good at running while growing up and my mile runs in middle and high school were embarrassingly slow. I’m so proud of myself to now be able to run a mile in eight minutes, and running continuously for three miles. Now I want to do an actually 5K so I can be times, get one of those stickers for the back of my car, and proudly wear my T-shirt around the gym showing I was able to do it.

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Photo courtesy of PicJumbo.com

My dad recently went through a huge lifestyle change and he also wants to go for a 5K this year! It would be great if we could run it together and say we both achieved our goals of running a 5K! It was only this past fall that I started running outside, either before work or on the weekends, and it’s 10 times better than running a treadmill. Winter cardio is going to be rough

Incorporating a jump rope | My dad gave me and Jake a few Amazon gift cards for Christmas so we decided to finally purchase a jump rope. I’ve seen people using jump ropes at the gym in between sets for the past three years, and it’s been something that I’ve wanted to add into my fitness routine for a while. For the past two springs, I’ve done resistance training with low weights, high reps on all of the same routines that I usually stick to. While these have worked for my routine, this spring I’d like to try some new exercises that involve more high interval training, and adding in a jump rope for more cardio and calorie burning. Ideally I’d like to bring the jump rope to the gym on squat and dead lift days to do a few intervals in between sets, but my gym sometimes does not offer enough space for that to happen. I’m definitely going to use the jump rope during backyard kettle bell workouts to add in some cardio.

Do my ab exercises.
As much as I love going to the gym and being active, I absolutely hate ab exercises. I don’t want to do them. Ever. But if I want meet my fitness goals, I’m going to have to stick to them. First, I should ALWAYS be doing leg lifts when I’m at the gym. On leg day, back day, cardio day, chest day, anytime. I also should be doing exercises with my five pound kettle bell in my living room when I’m watching TV. Five sets will do it, just as if I were at the gym, but I’m going to have to stick with it. I think I hate ab exercises so much because the old saying, “abs are made in the kitchen,” is totally true for me. I have to be EXTREMELY diligent about the foods I eat in order for my abs to make an appearance in summer. And it’s not just about eating healthy, it’s about eliminating foods that have a higher carb and sugar count.

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Photo courtesy of PicJumbo.com


Lift 200 | 
My strength went up a lot this year and I’m so proud of my current personal records! I’ve added my current personal records on my basic lifts below. The goal for 2016 is to break 200 on one of those lifts!

Squat: 185
Dead Lift: 185
Chest Press: 80
Shoulder Press: 65

Obviously it’s not going to happen on chest or shoulder press; those muscles are so weak on me. I have a feeling I’ll hit 200 on squats before dead lifts, even though it should be the other way around. My legs were made to squat!

Squat Jake | So I’m already able to squat Jake’s weight, but I’m so scarred to try squatting Jake himself! Squatting a person is so much different than a bar. People tend to move and be a little more lumpy than a barbell.

A Year Ahead | 2016 Goals

I’m a firm believer of living in the moment and try very hard not to dwell on what could happen in the future (or what has already happened), but that doesn’t mean I can’t make a few New Year’s Resolutions for 2016. Last year, my main goal was to become for organized and I think I achieved that. I now use a daily planner that I keep in my purse and have a weekly whiteboard that hangs in the kitchen with the schedule on it. For 2016, I decided to have a few goals to reach for instead of just one big one.

Be more creative.
My main goal for 2016 is to be more creative. I’ve never been someone who is into photography or art – I simply do not think on a creative level. I much prefer tasks to be written down or in a schedule before I do them, rather than performing on the spot. How does one measure creativity though? Not too sure, but I’m going to figure it out. I’ve already invested in a nice camera (well nice for me) – a Canon PowerShot SX530 HS digital camera on Black Friday and I’ve playing around with taking photos of products for my blog and of everyday life. Please if you have any helpful tips with photography, leave them below! Currently, I’m trying to figure out how to add watermarks to my photos without having Photoshop, so we’ll see how that goes. For Christmas Jake got me a tripod so I’ll be able to easily take pictures for my blog and maybe take some short videos for Instagram! I also hope that a camera would be a great investment for traveling throughout the year. Finally, recommitting myself to blogging is another way for me to be more creative. It gets me thinking and brings me back to my love of writing!

I also wouldn’t mind taking on a few more projects around the house and giving DIYs a chance. There’s a lot of opportunities in our house for updating, even if it’s just painting or staining, and that’s something I know I’m fully capable of doing. It’s having the time and patience to get it done is where I need to focus in on. We’ve already made a DY headboard for our bed made from some wood, batting, and fabric, inspired by this post from Kindle Your Creativity I found on Pinterest. I’d also like to do some DIY crafts to add decorations around the house.

Keep traveling.
Over the past year I’ve started traveling and making lists of where I’d like to visit! In 2015 I visited Iceland, San Francisco, Duluth, and the North Shore in Minnesota – while Duluth and the North Shore are only short road trips I still consider them to be a traveling experience since neither are places are travel on a regular basis. Jake and I haven’t made any solid plans yet, but we are really hoping to continue traveling around every six months or so. I’m not sure we’ll be able to keep to that, given my new work schedule and Jake starting up school full time, but hopefully we’ll be able to fit in another international trip in 2016.

Some of my tops places I’d like to visit include Australia, New Zealand, Greece, and France. We may actually have a chance to visit Australia and New Zealand in the next two years because one of Jake’s friends is moving to Australia to go to medical school! I’m hoping we’ll be able to swing a visit when his friend is nearing the end of his education in Australia. I may be visiting a friend in Los Angeles during the spring that would include a trip to Disney Land! We had also hoped to visit Alaska over the summer, but those plans unfortunately fell through so we may looking into that ourselves. The other option for 2016 that will likely happen is visiting Mexico, Puerto Rico, or a country in Central America – probably someplace that is a little more touristy than we’re used to.

Get that tattoo.
I’ve been talking about getting a certain tattoo for over a year now and I just haven’t take the time to do it. Ironically, the tattoo has to do with living in the moment instead of looking the future. I need to take the time to find the font that I want this phrase tattooed in and bring it into an artist. Currently I have three tattoos, all of which are very simple or are words, so that tattoo I want isn’t that much different than those, but if that’s what I like then it make sense to do it! At some point I’d like to invest and get a larger, custom tattoo in memory of mom or on my shoulder/back area, but I have no idea where I want to start with that right now.

Continue to improve and grow.
I’ve changed and grown so much as a person since I graduated from high school and college, so much more than I ever thought I would. Just when I think I’m done growing and I’ve found who I am, I’m surprised at how I can continue to change. I’ve become very active and physically fit in the past three years, something that I would have never seen in myself as during high school or college. I’ve learned to cook meals and enjoy a wider variety of foods since the simple meals in the college years. Cooking is something I’ve grown to be very good at and love making our meals for the week.

I’m excited to continue on my fitness journey and hope to be in even better shape than I was last year. Some of my goals for my fitness journey in 2016 are to incorporate high interval training into my spring routine. I plan to purchase a jumping rope that I can use during kettle bell workouts in the backyard and also while doing squats and dead lifts at the gym. I’d also love to do 5K this year, hopefully with my dad, something I’ve never done before. During December, I hit a few personal records at the gym and I’m hoping to continue growing those numbers, especially on my chest press since that’s my weakest muscle group at the moment. I’ll go into specifics of my fitness goals in another post.

Be happy.
My ultimate goal in life is to be happy. As long as I’m doing what makes me happy, no matter what anyone else thinks, that’s what matters. This blog is one of those things I’m happy to being doing and spending time on. Going to the gym and being active makes me happy, so I work hard at the lifestyle. Be happy.

Whatever your goals are for 2016, I hope that you can achieve them all! A new year is a great time to make changes or setting new goals! However, don’t feel like that you can’t make changes or update your goals throughout the year. Do what makes you happy and works the best for you. Happy New Year! Ready for new adventures!

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!

My Fitbit (Yes, it’s totally worth it!)

Near the end of the summer, I invested in a Fitbit Flex after a friend of mine purchased one herself. I had toyed around with the idea of getting one for a bit (no pun intended), but wasn’t sure if it was going to be worth investing in. How could a such a watch-like item really help my fitness routine? I knew a few other people that had a Fitbit and my dad also got an activity tracker during the spring when he started losing weight, so I knew I wouldn’t be alone in counting my steps per day.

At the time I decided to buy a Fitbit it was back to school time and I happened to get a deal on my Flex for $80 at Sports Authority, which usually runs around $100, plus I had a gift card from Christmas I hadn’t used which gave me another discount. I ended up purchasing the service plan for the Flex since I was getting a discount, just in case. I got mine in black since I had seen some other that look dirty after they get some wear and tear over time, and I’m super happy that I did. After a few days, I had some issues with my Flex syncing the silent alarms. I called Fitbit’s support number, and after a few conversations they sent me a new Flex, no problem. I thought that was some of the best customer service I could ever get. Fast forward a few days, the new Flex had arrived at my door, but my syncing issue had also resolved. I ended up keeping the Flex, but gave it to my boyfriend since we workout together and he was also interested in tracking his sleeping patterns, as he works nights.

My main motivation behind finally getting a Fitbit was to see if my workouts were actually doing what I wanted. I wanted to know if I was hitting the steps I needed per day, if I was burning enough calories versus my calories in. I’m the type of person who likes clear directions, instructions in front of me, and solid answers to my curiosity. I paired up my Flex with the MyFitnessPal app on my phone, and started my first Workweek Hustle with a few friends. I went about with my gym routines that week, and was upset when I saw I wasn’t hitting the goals I thought I had been this whole time. For the past three years, I had become a total gym-body, weight training, cardio, and recipes included, but it wasn’t quite enough. I wasn’t burning enough calories compared to what I was outputting and I wasn’t as active with my steps as I thought. Working a 9-to-5 can already make it difficult to get out and be active, but seeing the numbers really put it into perspective.

The next Workweek Hustle came, and I decided to add an extra 10 to 15 minutes onto my runs. The days I planned to do weigh training, I would get up in the morning and do a quick 1.5 mile run, about 14 minutes of my day, to get an extra 2,000 steps in to my days. I parked further away from the store when running errands and I tried to do a few more activities around the house, lawn mowing is perfect! Guess what, I won that Workweek Hustle! I was so happy, especially since I was going up against friends who are more active runners than I. In fact, I really dislike running, but I’m so proud of myself for being able to now run the length of a 5K that I do it anyway.

I’ve had my Fitbit now for a little over two months, and I’m still loving it! I completely recommend it, or your favorite fitness tracker, to all of the fitness freaks out there! I don’t always track my calories in, just because it can be come repetitive and time consuming, but I have a rough idea of how many calories I eat everyday so I’m not worried. The one downfall for me since I do weigh training almost more than I do cardio is that I didn’t take that into consideration when I was purchasing a FitBit. I kind of jumped the gun before doing all of my research on what options were in the FitBit family. Realizing that, if I have to repurchase a Fitbit in the future I’ll probably get the Fitbit Charge HR so I can track my activity levels when doing squats, dead lifts, and all that fun stuff.

If you’re starting to get into fitness, perhaps to lose weight or get into shape, I feel a Fitbit would really help you to understand how many calories you’re burning versus eating in order to lose weight. It’s also fun to compete with your friends to get your steps in. Leave your experiences with your Fitbit or activity tracker in the comments – I’d love to know how others feel!