[I’ve Got 5 On It] Step Up Your Home Gym Sessions

How to Set up a Home Yoga Studio — Simple Tips from Amy Ippoliti –  YogaOutlet.com

Rewind to two New Years Eves ago as I was dreaming up resolutions for 2020; I was getting into my groove of living in Seattle and was aiming pretty high. I wanted to go back to school to further my education, I was eager to make new friends in this new neighborhood in a new city, and get a gym membership and get back into some kind of athletic shape. Going back to school was easy, or at least on the easier side; sign up, show up to a digital learning environment, digest, regurgitate knowledge, repeat. Making friends was a bit more difficult, but I made do – forming closer bonds with the few friends I had that were local, and making friends with my new neighbors. So, last but not least – it was time to tackle my workout routine. Well, wouldn’t you know it but by the time I was ready to right my workout wrongs – COVID hit. Well, life hack: if you didn’t have a gym membership, you didn’t have to spend time cancelling it!

It did pose a new problem; when the gyms closed, I was left to my own devices. Good news – those devices included healthy limbs, running shoes, a yoga mat, and a few dumbbells. Fast forward to now, and my house has a punching bag, resistance straps, fitness bands, a balance board and so much more. For whatever I would have spent on a fitness membership, I transferred into having equipment of my own – and now I have a ‘no excuses’ gym in my own living room; and I’m here to tell you, you can have one, too!

As we inch towards vacations and social activity amongst the vaccinated, we’re all craving a Hot Girl Summer a la Megan Thee Stallion, and what better way than by leveling up your home gym game. For a full list of my favorite home gym products to level up your work out, check out my personal shopping list on Amazon. But for now, I’ve got five on it and have a good feeling these little home gym additives will get you to your six pack Summer without breaking the bank.


Yoga Mat


Ewedoos Eco Friendly Yoga Mat $28.95

Living in Los Angeles, it was only time before I fell in love with a local yoga studio. But once I moved to the Pacific North West, I stopped looking for one. Why? I found a great amount of resolve with Gaia and their vast array of yoga instructors, each with their own twists on poses and positioning.

Regardless of what style of yoga, how long you commit to your practice or what level you’ve reached – having a good yoga mat makes all the difference, especially on your joints. From headstands to meditation, and all the nuanced poses in between – having a good mat is the difference from a dedicated practice and not practicing at all.

The Ewedoos Eco Friendly Yoga mat is waterproof and easy to clean. Featuring sturdy gri and multiple guide lines for better posture as well as balance, Ewedoos mats are crafted from flexible Thermoplastic Elastomers (TPE for short) which makes for durable, long lasting equipment.


Yoga Block Bundle


Heathyoga Yoga Blocks 2 Pack with Strap $19.99

Once you’ve got a good yoga mat, it’s only right that you get a few goodies to go with it to elevate your practice! Whether you’re a novice or dedicated to your practice, you’ll benefit so much from using blocks and straps for healthy stretching – and this set from Heathyoga is perfection.

Crafted with EVA foam, the pair of yoga blocks is moisture proof and non slip in addition to providing a bit of a cushion, even under heavy weight.

Coming in a bevvy of different colors, the yoga blocks are durable and flexible while providing the utmost support for perfect posture and your range of flexibility. Not to mention, having a strap in your arsenal makes even the most difficult poses feel doable!


Amazon.com : Mdikawe 53In-62In Adjustable Height Boxing Bag, Adult/Child  Training Boxing Suit, Quick Recovery Speed Ball, Standing Air Pump with  Base, Suitable for Fitness and Decompression. : Sports & Outdoors

Punching Bag


Mdikawe Punching Bag with Stand$49.99

After the last year, I doubt I’m the only person who just wishes they could hit something.

From the anti-vaxxers and the anti-maskers to the racists and the internet trolls, from fake news to terrible presidents and politicians spewing contemptuous levels of false vitriol, I can count on so many fingers the times I just wanted to punch a wall; I wanted to get my energy out in a fit of rage.

Now, thanks to having a punching bag in the house – I can get those feelings out whenever I want to in an incredibly constructive fashion.

This punching bag from the team at Mdikawe is adjustable, making it perfect for any age and any body height, featuring a durable speed bag that moves at lightning speeds.

The unit is highly responsive and quick as hell to install – perfect for improving overall fitness, in addition to your hand eye coordination.


Balance Ball


EveryMile Wobble Balance Board – $29.99

If I close my eyes and think about balance, I’m immediately transported back to my favorite yoga studio in Los Angeles, One Down Dog.

One morning as I was struggling through a practice, the instructor offered this bit of wisdom and it hits me all the time: our yoga practices mirror our relationship with the outside world; a flexible practice means exceptional your life – conversely, someone that finds balance easier in practice engages in better balance in their life as well. I am flexible, in my modes of communication and ways I choose to engage with the world. Unfortunately, I have terrible balance even standing on two feet! So, meet my newest best friend – the wobble balance board from EveryMile.

With a nearly 16″ no-skid surface, this portable balance board has a full 360° of rotation and a 15° tilting incline – paving the way for skillful stretches and improved dexterity. Target your core strength by playing around with one legged balance, or rehabilitate and recover from injury with improved muscle strength.


Resistance Bands


Kootek 18 Pack – $28

For your well rounded workout needs, snag this diverse set of equipment from Kootek and instantly step up your home gym with just one click. Whether you’re gunning for strength training, or want something to keep you on your toes during the work day – this package has you covered.

Last, but most certainly not least – this has been one of my favorite fitness purchases in the last year. Featuring ten different levels of strength training between the tube resistance bands and loop bands, you’ll also get ankle straps, handles, core sliders and a door anchor to ensure wherever you are, you can dive right into the workout your body needs.


Are you keen on heading back to the gym, or have you started to get your home gym into gear?
Am I missing something you love?


Let me know in the comments below!

[Self Discovery] Put the Social in ‘Social Distancing’

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re well aware of the way that the Coronavirus – also known as COVID-19 has been making it’s way across the globe in an international emergency event that most generations simply have never been part of. And if you have been living under a rock, I hope you’re keeping your rock 6 feet apart from other rocks.

First things first, let’s all admit – these past few weeks have been eye opening, scary, anxiety inducing, etc. Please remember to reach out and check in on each other. HOW ARE YA! How are your family and friends holding up? Have you been remembering to try and get outside, and hold your head up high? We’ll get through this, but we need to remember – the human condition is the necessity to connect, – so let’s connect! Any new books, hobbies, shows you’ve discovered? Any questions or anxieties other people can help answer? Anyone learned a new joke or got a funny meme to share?

Up in Seattle, we are under a Stay at Home order until at LEAST May 5th. It’s a ghost town, traffic is non existent and I’m anxious. But I’m reminding myself: I am healthy, I am okay. My friends are healthy. My family is healthy. We are okay. We will be okay.

But please remember: This is GLOBAL. As a people so are we – we are the human organism, the human condition. Are you healthy? AWESOME. Do you know anyone over 60, with a medical condition or pregnant? Then do your best to keep THEM safe. What is happening does not discriminate based on age, sex, religion or location. Everyone is panicking in their own way. Be kind. Wash your hands. Don’t cough on things.

This is not an excuse to not vote in the upcoming election, if anything this is why we need to mobilize and unite as a nation. The current administration seems to be doing their best to delay testing, from NPR’s reporting – if they can prove our numbers remain low (even if they’re low from lack of testing) they believe it can boost a re-election campaign.

With the decimation of vital industries with hourly workers and a reduction in both business and working hours – there’s a chance for unemployment to balloon again. We need economic safeguards in our communities and states that prevent families and small business on having to default on their loans, mortgages or their rent. We need legislation that prevents utilities from being shut off for non payment. We need UBI, Universal Basic Income, because the economy will essentially tip on its head once the only people who can afford ANYTHING are only the 1%. We need Universal Health Care. There are people, homeless, immigrant, that do not have access to healthcare currently – Washington has reopened their health care election coverage and I hope other states have; but many people still can’t afford THAT version of health care and the only way to truly stop this pandemic is to both test and treat everyone. If you’re for those points above, let me tell you about this guy, Bernie….but we’ll do that in a latest post.

For me: I got a “flu”-like bug twice in three weeks in in January, one time three days after getting the flu shot, I had a fever of 102, body chills, a headache and nausea, it lasted for 4 days; that was when this was all starting – I’m starting to think I had and then got over COVID-19, but without proper access to testing I will not know. I finally finished Walden. I stated a cool book on The Golden Ratio. I started making essential oil perfumes. I tried my best to not freak out.

Now, in the midst of all the ‘Stay at Home’, ‘Shelter in Place’ and ‘Safer in Place’ orders around the country – it’s becoming more imperative than ever that even though we maintain a safe physical distance, that our social nature – our human nature, stays in tact. Thankfully, living in the digital age there are an infinite amount of resources available that make it feel like you’re not so alone.

Keep Your Head Up with These Tips and Tricks

Join a Book Club: Even though reading is a singular activity, that doesn’t mean you can’t make reading social, get a profile on Good Reads. My latest – Walden, by Thoreau, was something I’d been trying to get through for over a year – but by it’s simple nature, and being written by the most famed Transcendentalist, I thought it would be weird to attempt to rush through it and I’m so glad I didn’t. It’s honestly the perfect pick for anyone who is negotiating with any sort of physical isolation from others, and ways we can dive into our own minds.

Step 2: Get your box

Create a Collaborative Playlist: Music is one of those things that has the ability to bring people together in a million ways, from when times are good to when times are hard. I’m a self proclaimed Audiophile, and I’m sure most of my friends are, too. I’ve been digging on Spotify for a million different reasons, whether is their end of year analytical roundup, their new artist discovery or the ability to dive steadfast into a band’s discography. Lately, one of my favorite functions in Spotify is the ability to make a collaborative playlist. A few years ago for my wedding, we had our guests get down in a collaborative playlist before the big day and let me tell you – it made our wedding party just that much more fun. In light of everything currently happening, I thought it would be a fun way for my friends to share their latest favorites – so go ahead, jam out and add one or two of your favorites, too!

Go To a Digital Festival: Sign up for Youtube and Twitch and watch a live stream of a concert, Insomniac Event’s had to forgo their fabled Beyond Wonderland festival this year due to current circumstances; and as always, they turned a negative into the most positive of pictures by hosting ‘Virtual Raves’ for both Beyond Wonderland last weekend then Hard Summer Staycation this weekend. From the Brownie’s and Lemonade Squad, we’ve been treated to amazing sets from world renowned and up and coming artists through their Desert Mirage series and last but certainly not least, big big love to both Mad Decent, Beatport and the infinite amount of artists out there that are filling our spirits, warming our hearts, and letting us shake our groove thangs. Some of my favorites from this weekend have already been posted – check’em out!

Proximity x Brownies & Lemonade: Digital Mirage
Kaskade
Seven Lions
Gryffin
Insomniac: HARD Summer Staycation – Beyond Wonderland Virtual Rave-a-Thon
Valentino Kahn
Dr. Fresch
Jack Beats

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Foster a Floof: If you’re without a furry friend, or looking to add to your collection – this is a great time to try fostering a pet! It’s proven that having animals around can lower your anxiety while providing adorable stress relief, and plus, being altruistic and caring for others is one of the quickest ways to get out of your own head and into a healthy mental space. The pros at Petfinder have a great web-tool to find local shelters, or simply jump into Yelp or Google Maps and find your closest one. If you happen to have any free time, and aren’t under a ‘SIP’ order, volunteering at the shelter’s is also a great feel good activity!

Be Social with Social Media: In my personal opinion, as a society we are incredibly lucky that what we are going through with the Coronavirus has come at a time where we are vastly, deeply interconnected within our communities. With the Internet, streaming media and social media – we can maintain some semblance of normalcy while going through this strange transitory phase by reaching out to each other. I’ve never been much of a fan of FaceTime, or of Video Conferencing, but I’ve vastly changed by tune over the last few weeks. It’s been lovely to see my friends, cheers them over the phone, and really see them smile – even if we’re miles away.

Sprinkle Some Joy: The biggest takeaway for me is this – you can get through anything with a good spirit, so do things that bring joy, do things that make you happy and do things that make those around you in a better mood. Share a joke, hold back criticism, be gracious, ask questions, engage, laugh, and then maybe – just maybe, share a few memes, they’re honestly great ice breakers if there’s someone you haven’t chatted with in forever. I have a small collection that have been helping me through – maybe they can be just as useful for you!




How are you holding up during this chaotic moment? Any surprising ways you’ve found to be social even in light of being self quarantined? Let me know in the comments below and let’s get through this together ❤

Oh, Snap: Comfort Food

How many times have you heard the following from friends, family and your partner: the way to my heart is through my stomach.  But did you know that their statement actually holds weight? One thing that I didn’t know until I read a fascinating book on Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman is that not only are there a significant amount of serotonin receptors in our stomach, but most of the serotonin we posses is manufactured there!  Lining the walls of both the intestines and digestive track are loads of enterochromaffin cells and these little guys are responsible for creating a whopping 90% of it.

I’ve always landed firmly on the taller side of life.  When I was born I was 19″ and a tad under 6lbs – leaving me pretty tall and lean on the BMI chart.  Growing up, not a whole hell of a lot changed – by 4th grade, I was taller than all my gymnastics instructors and realized that was definitely not my calling.  By 6th grade, I was 6’0 and had stopped growing – but when it came to filling out, I didn’t. My metabolism is somehow quicker than my mouth and no matter what I ate, or how (in)frequently I seemed to hit the gym – gaining weight has never been my strong suit, especially after I stopped playing competitive sports.

I never intended to be a foodie. In fact, I know a considerable amount of people – including my family – who  consider my love of cooking, nomgasms or food porn absolutely ludicrous.  It’s not that I’ve found food repulsive or I hate eating – it’s merely the fact that ever since I can remember – food and I have had a fairly indifferent relationship with each other.  I used to find myself going throughout the majority of the day without a meal; granted, I was grumpy, fatigued and not exactly pleasant to be around but at the time I attributed that to having high anxiety or being diagnosed with depression.

Thankfully, I have a support system that both lifts me up and fills my stomach –  they’ve taught me that comfort food has a purpose and a nourished stomach is a nourished soul.  I’ve found that one of the most important things about food, fitness and nutrition is to have both a routine and a goal; one without the other is slightly pointless.  I’ve gone from bypassing lunch to scouring the dessert bar, from breakfast on the go to breakfast in the apt – and it’s really made all the difference.  For the first time in my adult life, I can honestly say that I love food and thanks to living in Los Angeles, I’ve had the chance to experience so many different restaurants, as well as almost any type of food you can imagine!  I’ve slowly but surely been collecting a list of my favorite noms and I’m stoked to be able to share this with everyone =)

 

Loaded Mac & Cheese from Elephant Bar

Bacon wrapped asparagus from Sushi USA

Uni – my ultimate.

Basil, tomato and mozzarella skewers; made fresh by yours truly!

Shrimp, avocado, tangello, cucumber and tomato salad. Also known as veggies that are really fruits.

Drumstick ice cream cones; omnom!

If you’ve never had Calypso Lemonade you’re in for a real treat =D

Only the best for my sweet tooth – Sour Patch Berry Kids and Mike & Ike Tropical Typhoon!

Macadamia, raspberry pancakes – proof the best recipes are still in your head =)

Mango & Sticky Rice!

Potstickers: I could survive off these.

Mango & Vanilla Creme Puffs from Beard Papas; only the best!

Can’t go wrong with a Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup!

Steak, medium rare. Always.

I ❤ Sushi.

BTA Benedict from Tart – my breakfast standard.

Waffles Versaille from the French Crepe Company at the Grove

Dim Sum @ Bao

My Step-Mom’s Pumpkin Pie

Doing it Right: The Electric Run

When it comes to running, let me be the first to tell you that it’s neither my forte nor something I’ve been interested in for very long. I grew up playing basketball, volleyball and swimming – nothing that required running long distances or for extended periods of time.  But then, last spring – something weird happened:  my tried and true GTI 1.8T decided to have a crisis of faith and stop working.  Transitioning to bipedalism wasn’t the biggest issue in the world; when I moved into my apartment last year, one of the first things I looked up was the “walk-ability” of the neighborhood and was pleasantly surprised that the area had a score of 91 out of 100 – meaning daily errands don’t require a car.  Instead of driving to get produce or supplies for the apartment, I was walking here there and everywhere; except for one minor detail – the gym.  Not being a runner, I was at a loss for a few days…I would run the stairs in the apartment, go for long walks or do some yoga; unfortunately for me, it just wasn’t the same.  So, I did the unthinkable: I started running.

Electric Run LocationsI started slow and steady by running a bit then walking it off; slowly, I worked up to changing the ratio – running for a mile, walking a few blocks, then running another mile.  And then the strangest thing happened – I started falling in love with the balance of breath and movement, grace and growth.  I didn’t have an end goal when I started, but through social media channels I found out about something fabulous called the Electric Run – a 5Kfunrun that’s best described as the illegitimate child of a rave and a half marathon; and to boot, the inaugural one was essentially going to be in my backyard – Orange County.

https://i0.wp.com/electricrun.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/ocm.jpg

Over 10,000 people signed up to be part of this ridiculously fun – and incredibly well run – event.  The premise was that the entire 5K course was adorned with lights, lasers and speakers blasting some of the best EDM currently around while participants decked out in their favorite glow and neon outfits frolicked around the track.  There were families and there were rambunctious teenagers; there were people determined to run their hearts out and others who just wanted to take it in and dance.  Before the run, we were all handed an official T-Shirt and some glow gear of our very own – and others dressed to the 9’s in LEDs, EL-wire and their very own outfit creations (we even saw a ‘ma5 head!).  Employees of the Electric Run were scattered around with cups of water and high fives of encouragement and at the finish line we were showered with granola bars, cheap shots of whiskey and a live performance from DJ’s Sultan and Ned Shepherd.  You were basically welcome to enjoy the intersection of exercise and playtime anytime you wanted. I had an absolute blast running around with my friends and taking it all in – if the Electric Run comes to your city, hop on it like it’s your job!

Sprinting to the end…

Sultan & Ned Shepherd

Workout Wednesday: Putting a Cramp in your Style

I think each of us has been here before:

It’s been a while since you’ve worked out, but your playlists are updated and your gym clothes are ready to rock.  You eagerly drink some water, jump into your running shoes, suit your earbuds up real nice and head out the door.  When you hit the sidewalk, your legs begin bouncing – urging you to move forward.  As your iPod shuffles to your latest favorite song, you break into a skip, then a jog…and finally a run.  You’re feeling your energy as your feet hit the pavement, you might even be singing along without realizing it – and then you notice it, a stitch in your (insert appendage here).  Then it cripples you – and you’re left wondering: what is wrong with my body?!

Well the answer, my pretties – is that your workout just got cramped. As an athlete, I can tell you from a lot of personal experience that there’s nothing worse than getting into the groove of a good workout and getting sidelined by a cramp.  In the back of my head, I’m thinking – hey, body! why are you acting like its your first rodeo?!  But the fact of the matter is that no matter if you’re a world class athlete or about to commit to your first workout – cramps happen, but you can help!

The most common cramps for me are side cramps while running, foot cramps as a swimmer and calf cramps after a workout or a long night of dancing.  So what exactly is going on and what can we do if we want to keep the workout going?

Make sure you’re warming up properly and breathing right during the exercise.  If you’re planning on going for an epic run, try walking or jogging to warm up your entire body and make sure your body is hydrated enough to sustain the ass kicking you’re giving it.  If you notice a cramp coming on, try to even out your breathing and avoid exhaling when your feet hit the floor, if it won’t go away give yourself a break and get into some stretches.  Your body is a temple, you don’t want to destroy the foundation.

On the typical, cramps have one of two causes –  dehydration or poor nutrition. 

Think about things this way – your body is approximately 80% water but your muscles are closer to 75%; so when you work out, your muscles get dehydrated faster than your body.  When this happens, the muscles lose elasticity, become taut and eventually – if not re-hydrated – they’ll spasm, or cramp. The other possibility is that  your body is lacking in essential vitamins like iron, calcium and potassium, which is key for preventing muscle cramps.

Lucky for us, these are things we can control.  At the very least, on the daily you should pop a multivitamin in the morning and get your 8 glasses of water. In this “go-go-go” world, it’s hard to avoid caffeine and soda. However, if you’re serious about treating your body well – either curb your use of diuretics like coffee, soda, alcohol and energy drinks which naturally deplete your body of water, or for every “naughty” drink have double the amount of aqua.  When it comes to nutrition, an apple a day might keep the doctor away but a dose of potassium a day will keep the cramps away.  Dried fruits like apricots, prunes, dates, coconuts, figs and raisins contain a whole lot of it. And for the fresh fruit lovers, try throwing more avocados, bananas, peaches and oranges in your diet.