What’s your favorite way to relax?

I always find myself more relaxed, happy and less stressed when I am outside enjoying nature or exercising. Exercise has always been a big part of my life but more recently when the kids have started school I’ve rediscovered my love of hiking and walking trails. We live in the perfect city for hiking, Chino Hills has over 40+ miles of trails! It’s an especially beautiful place in the early spring when the wildflowers bloom. The last few winters have brought enough rain that the drought finally ended (although I think it’s back). There is beauty in all parts of the world and our earth is pretty amazing.

 

Exercise apparel – Senita

There are a few brands of athletic apparel I usually stick to because I’ve found they fit me well and are of high quality. Every now and then I’ll try a new or not super popular brand. I recently bought a pair of leggings from Senita. The style is called “Ellie” and they were $36, so a great price compared to other brands. For the quality, they are actually a steal! The material is super soft and stretchy. The rise on this style is a medium high and doesn’t slip or fold at all. The pants hold their shape without being too tight. The material seems durable and this style comes in a few different colors (gray, plum, black and the navy that I bought). I also like that this particular style is a 7/8 pant which is perfect for a short female such as myself ūüėČ

One of their selling points is there are two large pockets on the sides. I didn’t think this feature would be a tipping point or anything for me, but I really like the pocket! I don’t exercise with my phone on me but it’s still super convenient for my phone when we go on walks or if I’m running errands after the gym. I am extremely pleased with my purchase and will definitely be using this brand again.senita athletics ellie leggingssenita athletics ellie leggings

senita athletics ellie leggings

Patience, persistence and perspiration

“Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success”

(Napolean Hill)

I’ve been thinking a lot about this quote, especially starting off a new year. 2017 was a pretty great year for our family. We felt settled in a good routine with Brent’s school stuff, sports, church, work, etc. We had a lot of fun here locally in LA area (lots beach, baseball, new restaurants, Disneyland, etc) and road-tripped a few times up to Vegas and Utah. 2017 was also the first year I’ve been completely healthy since Tessa was born! That pregnancy was particularly hard and it’s been nice to finally see progress and the ability to regain muscle. Since her birth, I’ve had numerous injuries – hamstring, achilles, knee, back – and persistence has been key for me. During the weeks I wasn’t able to fully exercise, I was still at the gym rehabbing, stretching and strengthening and it’s finally starting to have good results. I’m not nearly where I’d like to be but I’m happy with the journey so far. Last year I also started playing soccer again with two different teams (a women’s team and a coed team) which is my main motivation for working out. I wouldn’t consider myself a natural at anything. I was never a natural soccer player or had any particular talent at the piano. These are two things I worked at all growing up and continue to practice and love today. (Thanks, Mom, for forcing me to practice the piano all those years!)

Looking forward, I am grateful to be done with 2017 as all years come with the positive and some negatives. I’m counting down the days to a week long trip to England next month and to enjoying more days at home with the kids. It’s bittersweet that they have to grow up. I know the days are numbered when I’ll have so much time with them, to watch them discover things for the first time and just to genuinely enjoy their company.

Trying a triathlon

This past weekend, Dave and I did our first sprint triathlon! Before the kids were born, we used to love riding our bikes together, running and exercising together. While we didn’t really get to train together (to be honest, neither of us trained very well in general ha, ha!) it was so fun to be able to do the race together! Dave was nice enough to stay with me the whole time and it was just refreshing to be outside together, enjoying the sunrise and peace.

The race was a reverse triathlon – run (5K), bike (12 miles), swim (150 yards) – in Apple Valley which is a small town a little over an hour north of Chino Hills. The course was everything we could’ve hope for – very flat and the swim was in a pool (as opposed to an ocean or lake which I wouldn’t have liked) and was very warm and clean. The race was through Apple Valley city and was very well organized.

The weather was perfect that morning and my parents were kind enough to come up Friday night and spend the night here to watch the kids during the race and take Brent to his t-ball game. Both Dave and I liked the reverse tri with the swim at the end, we would definitely do this race again!

 apple valley reverse sprint triathlon

apple valley reverse sprint triathlon apple valley reverse sprint triathlonapple valley reverse sprint triathlon

Favorite Exercise Products

Before having kids, my favorite ways to exercise were running outside, cycling, soccer and yoga. Since my time is more limited, I’ve been lucky to find¬†gyms with childcare options. We (the kids and I)¬†go to 24 Hour Fitness every morning and I’ve enjoyed lifting weights, strength training and spin classes. Here are some of my favorite exercise products:

favorite exercise products

Fitness tracker – We’ve still been using our Alta Fitbits¬†and I still enjoy tracking my progress. I feel like we do make more of an effort to move around and walk more. I read and enjoyed this article which rated 87 types of fitness trackers! Definitely valuable information for when we upgrade our current trackers.

favorite exercise products

Shoes – I’ve worn Asics running shoes since high school. I’ve tried a few different brands and always come back to Asics. They are¬†great for my neutral foot position, arch and running stride. For running I prefer a little more sole support. For the¬†gym,¬†I like Nikes ¬†since the sole is pretty basic and¬†good for various types of exercises.

Yoga mat – I’ve had this Gaiam yoga mat¬†for years. It’s been very solid and was affordable, I’ll probably have it for years to come.

Pants – I love Zella, Ahtleta and Lululemon 7/8 pants (or petite version). They have¬†great stretch while keeping their form. They aren’t the most affordable but very high quality and worth the cost. I recently tried glyder apparel pants which are very soft and stretchy but don’t have as much form as other pants. For running shorts, I love Lululemon’s 4 way stretch shorts.

Tops – I love Lululemon tanks because they are lightweight and very soft.

Socks – I prefer ASICS socks, they don’t slide down or move around while exercising.

Hydro Flask – staying hydrated is so important to your overall health and I’m still loving my Hydro Flask¬†because it doesn’t leak or collect condensation.

Nike backpack – I take a ‘sport’ backpack (similar to this one) to the¬†gym to hold my water, towel, keys, and diapers.

Foam roller – Still one of my favorite products that is also very affordable! Foam rollers are easy to use and basically a free massage. I love using mine especially on sore hamstrings.

favorite exercise products

Foot roller– I found this foot roller at Homegoods for around $5. It’s a¬†great, cheap massage for the arch and ball or your foot. ¬†You just roll it under the sole of your foot (while sitting in a chair) and apparently you can use these cold or hot although I’ve only tried at regular room temperature.¬†I love using it when my feet feel sore, especially after a long day of walking.

favorite exercise products

Blender Bottle¬† – This blender bottle is perfect for making protein drinks. I’ve still been using the strawberry protein powder I posted about here. This bottle does a¬†great job breaking up and mixing the powder without any clumps. While I still don’t crave protein drinks because of their flavor, I’ve found that 1) it serves it’s purpose of filling you up with protein and 2) it tastes much better colder and when the foam has settled (from shaking it).

Peppermint oil РThis combined with the foam roller are my favorite things for sore muscles to refresh them. I used to buy peppermint oil in a roller bottle at a drug store but recently found them for a better deal on Amazon.     favorite exercise products

My quest to find a good tasting protein powder

One of my top health and fitness tips is to fill up with protein after exercising. The calories your body burns during exercise need to be replenished. If you fill up with unhealthy food, your body will hold onto those calories. This is why it’s important to be careful what you put into your body. The less processed food is the best (hence the popularity of ‘whole foods’). Protein is essential to building muscle tissue and is essential for your body to function. You don’t have to be perfect with your diet, but doing small, important things like¬†getting enough protein will definitely benefit your body and overall fitness. I have a few favorite post work out food items like protein bites, eggs,¬†bananas, etc and also like protein powder drinks- but not all powders!

Protein Powder Basics

If you’ve ever walked into a supplement shop, you might be overwhelmed by all the choices, brands, types, etc. The protein powder I use is basic whey protein. I like that a protein powder drink has overall less calories and fat that a protein filled food meal. However, you cannot use protein powder or supplements as your sole method of caloric intake.¬†For a large container, the price varies but is approximately $40-$50 dollars. This initially seems like a lot but I only use 2 scoops a day.

How Much Protein Should One Consume

You should aim for .36¬†grams per pound (of body weight). If you’re trying to bulk up, have an intense training/workout schedule, have a special diet, medical conditions, etc. this may be different for you. The amount of protein in 1 scoop of protein powder varies. Of the brands I’ve tried, they have 20-22 grams of protein.

How to Use It

You can add protein powder to things such as water, milk, oatmeal, juice, smoothies, etc. The only way I use it is with water to make a protein drink. I don’t drink milk because I don’t like the taste or smell. Many common protein powder flavors are sweet or dessert flavors such as vanilla, chocolate, peanut butter, etc. Unfortunately for me, all the dessert flavors taste¬†gross! I’ve been on the search for flavors that have a decent taste and a powder that is easy to use in a BlenderBottle (ie it dissolves well and doesn’t clump).

So far, I’ve found 2 flavors that (to me) don’t resemble milk – strawberry and orange. I found the strawberry at GNC¬†which has locations nationwide (or online) and the orange from BodyBuilding.com.

I add 2 scoops of protein powder to approximately 12-16 ounces of water. I add the metal whisk ball that comes with the blender bottle, close the top, shake the bottle about 30 seconds, let the foam settle, then drink. I actually really like the combination of both strawberry and orange so I’ll use one scoop of each. Lots of people like all flavors of protein powders and protein bars but it was important for me to find ones that don’t taste¬†gross!¬†These fruity flavors mixed with water taste like watered down juice or flavored water. There are tons of recipes for protein shake smoothies, I just always use water because it’s the fastest and easiest to make.

strawberry protein powder gnc

tire flips nike protein drink

Health tip (2)

This next installment of monthly health tips seems small and simple but can have¬†great benefits: go to bed 10-15 minutes earlier. The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults get between 7-9 hours of sleep and a few polls have shown that about 1/3 of American adults sleep less than the recommended amount. A¬†good way to start¬†getting more sleep is to start with an increment of 10-15 minutes of additional sleep. If you try and¬†go to bed 2 hours earlier than you’re accustomed to, your body will probably not be tired enough to fall (and stay) asleep.¬†gradually you can increase the number of hours you sleep every night.

health tip sleep more

A lack of sleep can have many negative effects for example, fatigue, lack of concentration, lack of motivation, decreased immunity, irritability and premature aging.

My Fitbit (Alta) has a sleep tracking system and I’ve found it really interesting to see my sleep patterns. Since having kids, I really enjoy routine for myself and the kids. I probably sleep more than the average adult as I (obviously!) enjoy sleeping ha, ha! One thing I’ve found is that it’s hard to ‘make up’ sleep. For example, if you are sleep deprived during the week, sleeping in extra on the weekend doesn’t necessarily have the same benefits as regular, consistent sleep. I’ve heard there are lots of¬†good phone apps (like Sleep Cycle) that track sleep and help you find the best time for you to fall asleep and when your best wake up time is.

Here’s to feel more well rested and energized every morning!

Foam Roller: A free massage and my favorite way to relieve sore muscles

One of the most effective ways I love to relieve sore muscles is foam rolling! If I’m super sore I’ll apply peppermint oil and use a foam roller before I go to bed. The pressure from the roller relaxes the muscle fibers and muscle tightness. I love to use mine primarily on my hamstrings but also quadriceps,¬†glutes, back, IT band and calves. ¬†You gently roll the part of your body on the roller (slowly and not staying in one spot for more than 20 seconds). It’s basically a free massage for your muscles that you can do anytime!

I¬†got mine years ago from Amazon and they also sell longer ones. Most¬†gyms and studios will have foam rollers and they are so effective for sore, tired muscles and for warming up and cooling down. I use mine basically every week and especially during periods when I’m running, cycling and playing soccer.

foam rolling sore muscle relief

calf ^

foam rolling sore muscle relief

hamstring ^

foam rolling sore muscle relief

glutes/lower back