Fit2B Inspired (Again): Week 5

35471009996_a1a036064c_b

Photo Credit: Pierce Martin Flickr via Compfight cc

 

How is it already Week 5? It’s amazing to realize that I have been consistently exercising 5-6 days a week for more than a month.  I’ve made quite a lot of progress but I’m still not where I want to be. I can now use my 6 lb dumb bells more comfortably and my core is definitely feeling stronger. I’m resisting the urge to check my DR until I’m completely finished with my six week schedule to give myself the most accurate read.  This week had a few longer workouts, so I had to be very intentional about making exercise a part of my day.

 

 

Ankles and Upper Body / Basic Aerobics III

This is such a solid combination. Ankles and Upper body is short but effective and Basic Aerobics III is great way to fit some solid cardio into a such a short time. I like how easy it is to squeeze these two into my day.

 

 

Tabata Ball

This workout really got me sweating, huffing and puffing today. It doesn’t look difficult but if you are really using a weighted ball (rather than some of the lighter alternatives that Beth suggests) you will definitely be feeling it.

 

 

Walking Workouts / Squat Challenge 

This was quite a combo. I did the Walking Workout first and added some light weights for a bit more difficulty. The Squat Challenge was definitely better second but I was pretty tired and had trouble getting all the way through it. We’ve started pushing up against my maximum length workout. I’m just not the kind of girl who works out for an hour (or even 45 minutes) every day. I do better with short consistency. So while this was a good workout, I did come up against diminishing returns by the end.

 

 

Weight Lifting 101

This was my first time ever trying this, it was a longer workout but I enjoyed the more formal weight lifting nature of the workout. It definitely had me sweating. I thought I was going to attempt Weight lifting 201 next week, but I’ve concluded that I need to focus on this workout for a while longer to let myself build more strength.

 

 

Rockin Yoga and Pilates

While I love that this workout uses toys instead of traditional fitness equipment, this time I decided to use a couple of dumb bells to make this a heavier duty workout. It is exactly as it sounds, a higher intensity and faster moving Pilates and yoga blend.

 

 

PMS Routine

Not just for when you have PMS, this is a great stretching routine to do any time. The gentle poses and movements are perfect for whenever you need to help relieve excess tension. I did this at the end of an especially stressful weekend and it was exactly what I needed. It was relaxing but I also felt energized afterwards.

 

Only one more week to go! I know the next one is going to be a doozy but I’m still excited. I’m finally feeling stronger. I still have a long way to go to where I want to be. Honestly, this is usually where I plateau. The real question I keep asking myself is can I really keep this momentum going and finally take things to the next level?

 

 

You can use the coupon code laundryblog to get 30% off an annual membership with Fit2B Studio!
Join Fit2b.us

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

The No Spend Month: The Results

35993203441_b171a2a29d_b

Photo Credit: sniggie Flickr via Compfight cc

 

Last month I shared that our family would be embarking on a first time ever no spend month. I was excited to see how much we could save by not spending money on anything unnecessary this month. I decided it would be helpful to keep a record of all the things I didn’t buy that I normally might have.

 

Things I’ve said no to this month

30% off at LLBean (this was so painful they NEVER offer 30% off, though I realized later that it’s good until September, but I’m still going to think about it carefully).

$.99 for a Beatrix Potter audible deal

A new coffee maker (I smashed my carafe the day after declaring no spending month, I’ll buy a new one once I’ve replenished our savings account and set aside money specifically for it).

Impulse Items at Target

A summer sale at Elegantees including a top I’ve been wanting and waiting to go on sale.

30% off a dining bench from Target online that I’ve been wanting for the kitchen to increase our seating.

Prime Day! There were so many things on sale on Prime day. I did in fact manage to live without every single one.

Coldstone Creamery BOGO coupon

Honestly I stopped tracking about halfway through the month. Mostly because I got used to saying no. Now that we are back to relatively normal spending habits, I am trying to keep a lot of what I learned in mind. Now before I make a purchase, I try to ask myself some key questions.

 

Do I Need This?

I truly hate asking this question because the answer is almost always no. Unless we’re talking about basic foods or necessary repairs (like a broken hot water heater or furnace). This forced me to realize how much I DON’T need that I’ve grown used to having. Essentially wants that have disguised themselves as needs.

 

Why Do I Want This?

Sometimes the answer helps me realize that I’m feeding an unhealthy habit or planning too far ahead. (I’ve discovered that planning too far in advance can be a form of control, lack of trust as well as a scarcity mentality that I try to avoid). Something pretty and new for myself may lift my mood for a moment or two but eventually I’ll be sorry. But if an item is going to add long term value to my life and make my life easier or more streamline in a specific way, then it might be worth considering.

For example: our kids have more water bottles than they probably need. However, I have a system where one is in use and one is being washed. That way I’m not quickly scrubbing a dirty cup before running out the door in the morning. I bought myself an extra laundry basket recently. Could I have done without it? Yes. But having an additional laundry basket means my daughter can have her own and not share with her brother (with whom she shares a room). Since we are working on her being responsible for her own laundry, this will help facilitate that process.

 

Is There Something Else I Can Use Instead?

When my 2 year old wanted a smoothie and I realized we no longer had any intact straw sippy cups, I was tempted to just jump on Amazon and order a new one. But instead I decided to try sticking a stainless steel reusable straw like my big kids use, into the open hole in the top of the straw cup. In this case, it actually worked. I still have to watch to make sure he doesn’t throw it, but there is less spilling than with a completely open cup. Sometimes, when we decide we aren’t going to buy something, it forces us to be more creative and resourceful with what we do have.

 

Is There a Less Expensive Option?

When an item must be purchased, I’m teaching myself to ask if there is a less expensive option. Sometimes, paying more for quality is worth it. (I’m also a big proponent of ethically produced goods so, at times, I am willing to pay more to know that the people who make my stuff are being appropriately treated and compensated for their work). Sometimes, the urgency of needing an item means you have to pay whatever it costs now. Other times I can afford to wait for a better price or consider a different option. Maybe I can purchase second hand or even borrow from a friend. Maybe there is a simply a less expensive option available. (A manual can opener vs. an electric one for example).

 

Did I enjoy my no spend month? Not really. It was hard. I didn’t like it. But I did learn a lot about how I purchase things and why. We didn’t save as much money as I was hoping. But we also stayed on budget and took some internal inventory of what we already own, and what can potentially be sold to fund other things we want (like a new kitchen light fixture that actually gives light). I’d like to do it again and some of the ways I determined if a purchase was a need will become a regular part of my decision making.

 

Have you ever tried a no spend month? What did you learn?

 

My No Spend Month was inspired by More Than Just Making It, the new book by Erin Odom scheduled to be released on September 5. I’ll be talking about it more in the future and you’ll see quite a bit about it on social media, but until then, check out the fantastic preorder bonuses on her site.

41UEaUTI1hL

Speak to Me, I’m Listening: Five Minute Friday

35813011724_bf5f96b025_b

Photo Credit: emiel bleidd Flickr via Compfight cc

 

When my first child was born, I was so anxious for her to talk. I wanted to know what she was thinking and better able to understand her needs. She may not have been an early talker, but by 18 months she had more than 100 words. Then the second child arrived. He was a later talker, but once he started, he wouldn’t stop. Even at 5, he is the loudest of the house and barely pauses for breath. (I realize this may be a genetic feature I contributed to his DNA).  By the time my third arrived, I didn’t worry much anymore about when he would talk. I knew he would and sure enough he does. Much of it is unintelligible but as he approaches his second birthday, I definitely find myself wishing that it was a little quieter at my house with a whole lot fewer words.

 

Humans want to connect, it is in our nature. But not all of us want to connect with words. But communication, both written and verbal has always been such a central part of who I am. It was surprising to no one when I grew up to enjoy middle school and high school theater products, speech meets and took up writing. When my husband and I read the Five Love Languages together it was apparent very quickly that one of my primary languages is the dialect of quality time called quality conversation. I need to connect with someone through words to feel truly close to them.

 

Spiritually, this is no different. So often in the cacophony that make up my days I find myself wanting to hear God. I want to connect with him through words. This is why prayer and reading the scriptures is so important for me, even though both are something I’ve struggled with over the years. Because without those words, I can’t connect, I don’t feel close.

 

Yet, I have also felt called, especially lately, to spend time in silence. This seems to go entirely against my communicative nature. How can I connect with God without words? For me, I need the silence to better let my heart be my ears. To let the spirit of God impress himself on my soul and find my spirit renewed. This can’t always happen when I’m constantly full of words.

 

It is in those moments when I am too tried and worn out for words that I have no choice but to lift my silence up as an offering and see what He has to say.

 

More-FMF-Square-Images-6

five-minute-friday-7

Speak to me, Lord. I’m listening.

Fit2B Inspired (Again): Week 4

35471009996_a1a036064c_b

Photo Credit: Pierce Martin Flickr via Compfight cc

 

I enjoyed the exercises this week but I also loved the way exercise integrated itself into my life recently.  We took a weekend trip to the mountains with friends which included some light canoeing. Mind you, I wasn’t responsible for steering, but I did paddle which added an usual motion that I don’t typically do. The best part, I wasn’t sore the next day! Plus sitting quietly out on the lake I was able to close my eyes, if only for a moment and soak things in. I was sad when it was over but I also wanted to use it to keep propelling myself forward. It would be great to be able to do that kind of thing again, and that means I need to keep getting stronger.

 

 

Basic Aerobics II / Kelly Dean’s Wall Workout

I like this combination of workouts because it gives me a quick punch of cardio and just a little bit of full body strength training. Since I know these workouts well, if I’m having a day where I’m just not able to focus well, I can almost do them on autopilot.

 

 

Defining Deltoids

Yay for heavier hand weights! This workout is done using exercise bands and dumbbells. Because the movements are slow and deliberate, I was able to bump up my intensity and still maintain good form.

 

 

Body Sculpting II5 Minute Arms & 5 Minute Booty Burn With A Band

Body Sculpting II is kind of a toning cardio hybrid but because it was so short I wanted to add a bit more. I decided to try the 5 Minute Arms and 5 Minute Booty with Band routines. Both provided a great workout in a short time. While I haven’t done the whole 5 minute series yet, I imagine if you combined them all together, you’d have a pretty great workout as well.

 

 

Body Sculpting

I decided to experiment again with heavier weights and managed very nicely again. I have to be hyper cautious about maintaining form and core engagement (and keep my lighter weights handy, just in case), but it feels great to be finally building my strength up further.

 

 

Gentle Blend

When I’ve had a stressful week, I’ll admit that I want something fast and difficult. (The ripping, tearing style workouts that I know aren’t good for me). But this was exactly what I needed. The even paced, sustained movement got my heart rate up enough for me to break a sweat but then Beth brought it down wonderfully and I left feeling more relaxed. While this isn’t necessarily one of my favorite workouts, it was definitely just what I needed together.

 

 

Kelly’s Total Body Stretching

I love these stretches, though the routine itself isn’t quiet as soothing as the Restorative Poses series. In a perfect world, I would make time to stretch like this every day. (Ok, in a perfect world I wouldn’t need to stretch but anyway . . .) Even if you learn these six movements from memory and just add them throughout your day, you will see such an improvement in alignment, core control with much less pain and discomfort.

 

 

I know I have two weeks of longer and harder workouts coming, so it was nice to have a week where I’m still working in my ideal workout time. This is probably the kind of week I’ll return to when my 6 week challenge is over. There is something wonderful about consistent lower difficulty workouts rather than fewer challenging ones. I like that my exercises make me feel energized rather than exhausted. I hope this will continue as I kick things up a notch next week.

 

You can use the coupon code laundryblog to get 30% off an annual membership with Fit2B Studio!
Join Fit2b.us

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

It’s Not Easy to Be a Great Parent But There is Help

PARSB17_Text_Graphics_02_2

I have almost never felt confident as a parent. Ok maybe that’s not true. There have been moments when something new I was trying appeared to be working and suddenly I was able to see a potential future where every day wasn’t a struggle. But those moments have been rarer than the usual utter chaos and internal turmoil that characterize my days.

It’s easy to feel like you are drowning in a sea of potential help, but so much of it is conflicting. How do you know what is the right approach to parenting for your family or even for your specific child? (Doesn’t it seem unfair that each kid has different requirements? I’ve often thought how much easier it would be if what worked for one worked for all of them. After all, my kids all pretty much look alike, it would be nice if parenting strategies could be more consistent as well?).

The Parent Super Bundle from Ultimate Bundles is one of those potential sources of help. But today is the last day to purchase before this bundle goes away.

“What?” you say, “Why didn’t you tell us sooner?”

Two reasons.

1. I know as a parent I tend to hem and haw and ultimately wait until the last minute to make a decision anyway.

2. I don’t want you to over analyze this. This is a HUGE bundle with so many fantastic resources. But don’t get bogged down in that. Make it a simple math problem. Find a handful (seriously focus on five or fewer) of books, courses or bonus offers that you know will be helpful and useful.) Then run the numbers of what those resources usually cost.

Don’t think you will use all of these. I have never used every resource in one of these bundles. But I have always gotten my money’s worth and more.

Here are just a few products that I think make the bundle worth it.

The Stop Yelling Handbook
by Amanda Rueter

The Stop Yelling Handbook is packed full of tips and techniques to help every day moms deal with the frustration and anger that comes with raising kids. 
Value: $7.99

When I was perusing the list of resources in this bundle this book immediately jumped out at me. I have become a yelling mama. This is something I specifically did NOT want to be. I’m finally at a place in my life where I am ready to start dealing with the yelling problem and this looks like a great way to get started.

 

A Realistic Action Plan for the Weary Mom:
15 Days of Hope from the Intentional Mom

by Jennifer Roskamp

An extensive book that examines 15 common issues that moms struggle with. This is exactly the hope that will breathe new life into your days. 
Value: $7.99

Since weary has been my buzzword lately, I was immediately drawn to this title. Most days I feel like I’m making it up as I go along, even though I’m someone that likes routine and structure. This book sounds like a great one to help me get a handle on my days again.

 

Training Your Children in Home Economics
by Angie Kauffman

Training Your Children in Home Economics addresses why learning Home Ec skills are important for children, as well as sections on skills in Money Management, Hospitality, Simple Sewing Skills, Gardening, Meal Planning, Meal Preparation, Kitchen Safety, Food Safety, Microwave Safety, Table Manners & Laundry Skills 
Value: $2.50

My husband and I were just discussing the other night how much we value practical life skills and how important we feel it is to teach our children these things, perhaps even as important as their formal education. It is also something that I was lacking a bit in my upbringing so I had a lot to learn when we first got married. This is a great resource to help get the process started for my own kids.

 

Creative Freewriting Adventure: A Journey Into Freewriting
by Stacy Farrell

Bring joy and excitement into your student’s writing with these simple-to-execute (yet significant) writing exercises. No prep required. Just grab a pen and paper, set a timer, and have fun! 
Value: $18.95

As a parent of a reluctant writer, and a creative writing teacher, I was very excited to see such a great resource included in this bundle. Whether you homeschool or not, many parents feel overwhelmed with the prospect of teaching their children to write. Yet, it is an essential skill often overlooked and underappreciated in the traditional classroom. This has the potential to be an invaluable resource toward fostering your child’s creativity and imagination.

 

Bonus Offer

Around_The_World_Stories

10 free audio stories for kids

Around the World Stories offers fun, original audio stories that introduce kids ages 5-12 to how children in other cultures live, play, learn, eat and celebrate. Each 30-minute story focuses on the adventures of a child from another country and comes with discussion topics, recipes and activities.
Value: $30

I have been so eager to try this. As lovers of Adventures in Odyssey and Sparkle Stories, this seemed like a perfect fit for our family. Plus, as homeschoolers, it’s a great way to cover some social studies and geography.

 

That’s it! If you only used those 5 products you would have gotten more than your money’s worth on this bundle. Feel free to visit the main bundle page to see a full list of all the products that are included. But not let it overwhelm you. Focus on the things that you think will really help your specific family
.


PARSB17_Text_Graphics_03_2

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support!

I Belong Where I Am (And So Do You): Five Minute Friday

34026156831_e199ac4c3f_b

Photo Credit: RStonejr Flickr via Compfight cc

 

It’s another one of those days. The ones where I was up in the night with a child who is old enough not to be up. So I drag myself out of bed much later than intended and already the world seems a wreck and I wonder if it’s even worth trying.

 

I’ve been asking a lot of questions lately about where I fit. Motherhood has this ability to make you feel both indispensable (as in, would anyone in this house be able to find their shoes without me) and useless. (They don’t listen, they constantly complain, and they tell me straight out they wish they were orphans). When the budget numbers won’t add up at the end of the month and the needs outstrip the resources, not even accounting for the wants; sometimes I wonder if this isn’t where I belong.

 

I gave up a job, rather than a career, because it seemed the easiest and best thing to do. In fact it was the dream. To be that stay at home mom. But now when there is more month than money I sometimes question my choice. She screams in my face about how she wishes she didn’t even have a mommy, when he flails and kicks and says I don’t love him and even the toddler gets in on the action. I wonder whether all these hours a day are worth it.

 

I could be being paid and potentially appreciated somewhere. Even if I didn’t love the work at least I’d have something to show for my days besides puffy eyes and weary shoulders.  But I always come back to the same thing: I am needed. I realize needed isn’t the same as valued. I also know that children rarely value their parents but I’ve seen the pain it is to be without them, so I choose to believe that this is my place.

 

I would like to offer some kind of pithy encouragement that makes it all better for those mamas in the trenches like me, wondering if this has all been a terrible mistake.  But all I have to offer is this.

 

This isn’t a mistake. Your life isn’t a mistake. Being mom to this kids, in this place at this time is what you were meant for.

 

It is paradoxical. We have these little creatures that we would die for but at the same time won’t share out secret dessert stash with. We want to give them the moon and yet, if I step on one more pile of toys I’ve asked them to clean up I may sell them to the zoo.

 

This is where I am. It is where I belong, even when I wish I didn’t. When I want to run, I can’t even comprehend where to go.  Because for better or for worse, and mostly some of both; I’m their mother. At least for now, I’m the educator, dishwasher, laundress, house cleaner, sibling fight referee boo boo kisser, and sometimes emotional punching bag.  But it’s my place and I move forward in the belief that somehow all if this is preparing me for what is ahead, both the beautiful and the difficult.

DG6Z5DOXsAE6Xve

five-minute-friday-7

Fit2B Inspired (Again): Week 3

35471009996_a1a036064c_b

Photo Credit: Pierce Martin Flickr via Compfight cc

 

I went into this week feeling pretty confident. I’m starting to see some positive results from my consistent effort. (I won’t share the actual full results and my personal stats until the end of Fit2B Inspired (Again), though.) It’s nice to finally feel as though my work is paying off and I’m starting to see visible results as well as feeling better.

 

 

Kelly Core Cardio / Kelly’s Big Band Routine

Kelly’s Big Band was a new one for me and it was also deceptively easy looking. Since I don’t own Bodylastics yet, I settled for a resistance band hooked through my stair banister and it worked quite well.

Kelly’s Core Cardio is a perennial favorite and combining the two make it a great full body workout.

 

 

Insane Upper Body

I’ve been kind of beating myself up for not being able to comfortably use my 6 lb dumbbells yet. It’s been discouraging to feel like I’m not making the kind of progress I want. But I also want to make sure I’m using proper form and alignment so I elected to use my lighter weights for this workout. I was pretty happy with that choice. Contrary to the name, this really isn’t insane. It’s difficult, depending on how heavy your weights are, but it is very attainable one. Just make sure you are focusing on proper body position and not on trying to lift your arms higher by contorting your body.

 

 

Insane 2

I’m always worried going into this one, but it actually wasn’t too bad. I did the easier versions of various positions but it was still challenging in the best possible way. So don’t let the name fool you, if you are feeling strong and learning to consistently and properly engage your core, this one is worth trying out.

 

 

Weighted Warriors

I love focusing on form with this workout while still adding additional resistance. This is not a fast workout, but the sustained movement required provides a challenge my muscles.

 

 

Tabata

I’m always a fan of Tabata. There is something so wonderful about only having to learn a couple of motions and repeating them in intervals. The intervals themselves are always helpful if you have frequent interruptions during your workout. Plus if you are just starting to kick you activity up a notch, the build in rest periods can let you catch your breath.

 

 

Restorative Poses III

I have never done this one before, so I was excited to try it. It is definitely as relaxing as the others, but with a couple of slightly more challenging poses. (Don’t worry, Beth provides tons of explanation and suggestions for modifications). This one is slightly longer because of the additional setup and explanation that goes with some of the poses. While I still like Restorative Poses I better, I would definitely still come back to this one.

 

 

Apparently 20-30 minutes is my sweet spot. The workout isn’t too long that I want to give up, but short enough that I can still fit it in. I’m able to stay consistent and not feel like working out most days of the week is a burden. I love feeling stronger. I can’t say that I’m necessarily having more energy, but that’s mostly my own fault for not getting enough sleep. I’ve been mostly successful with my efforts to cut back on sugar, though I can’t say that I’m not still tempted. I still allow myself treats on weekends and that enables me to resist pretty well during the week, without feeling totally deprived. All of those things together means that for the first time in a while, I’m pretty happy with my progress towards being stronger, and healthier. No, the scale hasn’t moved too much, but that was never the goal. The point was to be strong enough for the life I want. I may not be there yet, but I’m on my way.

 

 

You can use the coupon code laundryblog to get 30% off an annual membership with Fit2B Studio!
Join Fit2b.us