Get Motivated With Cute Fitness Wear

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Is there anything more motivating than cute workout wear?? I seriously feel so excited to workout when I have something that is cute, comfortable, and flattering to put on. Feeling confident makes ALL the difference!

I asked you guys on Instagram if you would like to see some of the cute workout clothing that I've found recently, and I think all but ONE person said 'yes', haha. So, below you'll find some adorable workout wear that I am LOVING for the new year!

Click on each picture below to shop each item. Each picture is a link to the product page. Happy shopping! If you end up snagging any of these pieces, be sure to tag me in a photo of you wearing them on Instagram so I can see!! IG: @annamcohenblog

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Shine Organics: My Favorite Healthy On-the-go Snack!

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***Thank you to Shine Organics for sponsoring this post!***

Today, I wanted to share one of my new FAVORITE things: a healthy snack that's EASY to take on-the-go! Shine Organics Pouches (click here for a coupon!) are a convenient blend of real, organic fruits and vegetables, chia seeds, and superfoods.

They are perfect for throwing in your gym bag or purse, or just for when you need a quick snack around the house. Basically, as an active and busy mom of a toddler, these pouches are PERFECT for me! Whether James and I are running errands, heading to music class, or just hanging out at home, I can always have a HEALTHY snack on hand. No fuss, no mess, and no prep time. I just grab a pouch and instantly have a YUMMY snack to enjoy and to satisfy my hunger! These pouches fit into my lifestyle EFFORTLESSLY.

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Finding healthy snack food that actually tastes good, as well as being good for you is tricky. That's why I'm really really glad that I've found Shine Organics!

You can find Shine Organics Pouches at Target in the apple sauce section. Click here to get a coupon for $1 off of a four pack!

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What are your favorite healthy on-the-go snacks?? Please share! I love getting new ideas!

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Mommy Monday: Balancing Exercise, Health, and Motherhood

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Ok, let's be really really honest here for a second: making time for exercise and health as a mom is hard. It takes work and it takes a lot of mind power. Being a mom is such a rewarding and challenging task in and of itself, that sometimes the thought of doing a workout when I could instead be taking a few minutes to relax seems crazy.

But, then I remember how much BETTER I feel - both physically and mentally - when I get in a workout. When I break a sweat, it makes me feel proud and strong and like I am doing something to further my progress towards my physical goals.

It's far too easy to let a day slip by without squeezing in a workout. From there, it is a slippery slope. One day turns into one week...then one month... The next thing you know, it has been months since your last real workout, and your body feels weak and you don't know how to dive back in. Where to start? How to get that strength back? You are so much further from your goals.

Believe me, I get it. I get how it can happen. I've certainly gone a week or two without getting my exercise in, and man, is it hard to get back into a routine. You know what I've found to be the ONLY way to start working towards your goals again? To just simply start. Even if that means a short walk the first day, squeezing in a 30 second plank when you can, powering through 50 squats while your child plays, and then turning on a Yoga or workout video on YouTube during nap time.

Slowly but surely, squeezing in what you can each day, you will start to build up your strength - physical AND mental, because half of it...no, even MORE than half of it is mental.

As mothers, it is so important for us to be healthy...to not only take care of our bodies, but of our minds.

Our little ones see what we do to better ourselves. They watch as we make healthy food choices, and as we meal prep and prepare nutritious food for the week ahead. They see when we spend our free minutes doing lunges or jumping jacks or burpees. They see a woman, strong and proud and conscious of her physical condition and doing something to further her progress towards a goal and towards a healthy life.

I remind myself that it is not just for me that I make the (sometimes very difficult) decision to do a workout rather than sit down and put my feet up. It's for my son. It's for my husband. It's for my mind. It's for what I want to look like and feel like. It's for wanting to be healthy and strong and able to do all the activities that I love to do.

So, one step at a time, little by little, day by day, as mothers, we make the choice. We choose to be healthy. We choose to be an example. We choose to be strong. We choose to eat healthily. We choose to do what it takes. Is it easy? Nope. Important? Very. Worth it? Yes Yes Yes.

What are your tricks for staying fit, strong, and healthy as a mama? How do YOU make time for a workout and for healthy food choices? Be sure to share in the comments below!

What topics do you want to see on the blog? Send any ideas, questions, or comments to info@annamcohen.com! And be sure to subscribe below to be notified whenever there is a new post up!

 

Snapchat Q&A

A couple of days ago, I told you all to snap me any and all questions you may have for me. While I didn't get around to answering them live on Snapchat, as promised, here are my answers to ALL your questions! (I consolidated similar questions so that I only have to answer them once. ;))

Let's dive in, shall we?

Q: How do I get started as a blogger?

Commit. Find a platform that is easy for you to use and commit to posting frequently - at least a couple of times a week. Try to have a niche, rather than trying to appeal to everyone, focus on appealing to a targeted and specific audience. And invest in a good camera!

Q: Do you plan on having more babies?

Yes! :)

Q: How often do you get your hair done and what do you get done to it?

I get my hair done every 6 months or so. I usually get a trim and some long layers and then a full foil.

Q: How do you grow your hair so long??

I don't use a hairdryer and rarely curl my hair, so I don't use heat on it very often at all. I use a deep conditioning treatment every couple of weeks.

Q: What kind of bronzer do you recommend?

I don't use bronzer, but I've heard good things about this one and this one.

Q: What places MUST I visit while in Paris?

The catacombs, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame...the usual things. BUT I would honestly just recommend that you walk EVERYWHERE - don't take a taxi. Just walk and see the city by foot. You'll find so many hidden gems. It's magical!

Q: What does Ben do for work?

He is an Area Manager at Amazon.

Q: What is the hardest and best thing about being a mom?

The hardest thing is just adjusting to not having as much free time, and the best thing is watching my little one grow and learn new things!! Being a mom is the BEST thing in the entire world!!

Q: What are your tips for eating healthy while being busy all day with a baby?

Meal prep! Make big portions of healthy meals and save the leftovers to eat throughout the week.

Q: Do you have a sunless tanner that you use/recommend?

I use this one. It's the best!

Q: What exactly do you do for work?

I am a social media consultant, a blogger, and a writer. But honestly, none of these things feel like work because I LOVE what I do so much!!

Q: Do you still write outdoor articles for magazines?

I do! Since being put on bedrest and then giving birth and then now it being winter and all...I haven't done much outdoor adventuring lately. But come Summer, I'm heading to the mountains, so you can expect a lot more outdoor content and a lot more articles from me!

Q: Tips for not going crazy on bedrest?

Pray, meditate, read, color, write. :)

Q: Do you have any tips on how to be more confident?

Take some time to really get to know yourself - what you love, what you dislike, what you believe in, what you enjoy, what makes you happy, what makes you angry, what makes you sad, what makes you fired up...and then OWN that and manifest that knowledge in your daily life. Be true to yourself.

Q: What kind of music do you listen to?

I listen to all different kinds of music. Blue grass is probably my favorite, but there is hardly any kind of music that I don't enjoy to some extent.

Q: How long have you been married?

Ben and I will have been married for nine years this July, and together for ten!

Q: How did you know that your husband was "the one"?

I just knew. He made me feel safe and loved and whole and precious and understood ... and he still does. <3

It was so fun hearing your questions! Feel free to leave any additional questions that you have for me in the comments below! I do want to do a live Snapchat Q&A sometime soon, so any questions that you guys send my way in the next few weeks, I'll try to answer on Snap. :) Have a great week!

Mommy Monday: Core Rehab, Part 1

If you've been following me for awhile on my blog and on Instagram, you know that I have diastasis recti (abdominal separation) since being pregnant with my son.

Diagram of diastasis recti - mine wasn't this severe at all, but this shows kind of what happens with abdominal separation!

Abdominal separation is very common postpartum. However, there is a shocking lack of information out there for mamas who have this. In fact, many women have abdominal separation and aren't even aware that they have it (learn how to check for it here), OR they have been told that the only way to FIX it is by having surgery. Which is NOT TRUE!!

When I was first pregnant with James, I was searching the internet for some exercises that I could do while pregnant. That's when I first came across Erica Ziel. Erica Ziel is the founder of Knocked Up Fitness and Core Athletica Inc.. She is an EXPERT in helping women to strengthen their deep core muscles in order to have a safer and easier pregnancy, delivery, and recovery. 

Erica Ziel

Now, Erica has developed the Core Rehab Program for postpartum mamas! The Core Rehab Program is designed for mamas who are interested in "rehabbing" their cores after all that they have been through with pregnancy and delivery. This includes working on posture, techniques for safely picking things up, and how to properly engage your deep core muscles to strengthen your core and help to repair abdominal separation.

Pregnancy can do a number on a woman's body, especially her core. Muscles and connective tissues are weakened, stretched, etc... It is important to strengthen your deep core and connective tissues postpartum in order to properly heal and to feel better. But, if you're like me, it can be overwhelming and even a little scary because

...where do you even BEGIN??

Erica was kind enough to let me do the Core Rehab Program in exchange for reviewing it. And I certainly hope you all know that I will ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS be honest in my reviews. I would never recommend something that I wasn't totally excited about or impressed by or that I didn't genuinely believe in. So, with that said, let me dive right in:

THE CORE REHAB PROGRAM HAS BEEN THE MOST LIFE-CHANGING, GREATEST THING FOR ME. And I truly mean that. 

The program consists of six phases, each broken up into two weeks. I am through the first two phases, and oh my goodness, the changes are so incredible. And I'm not just talking about physical changes, although I've certainly seen some. I'm talking about changes in the way that I feel.

After giving birth to James, my back KILLED me. I have scoliosis, so my back has always hurt me. But pregnancy and delivery just really really messed it up. Plus, being on bedrest didn't help because I basically lost all of the muscle tone that was helping to support my back. Add in the abdominal separation and weakened core, and I was basically a hot-postpartum-mess of pain, discomfort, and consequently - stress

My abdominal separation was minor: just about a finger tip and a half wide, and not very deep (only about to my first knuckle). My doctor told me to just take it easy and refrain from doing core exercises or anything other than cardio for two months or so and it should close up. Well, two months came and went and if anything, when I re-checked, it seemed like my separation had not closed up at all. (Granted, I probably hadn't been taking it as easy as I should have been...) In fact, I think my separation had even gotten a little worse. I was very stressed about this and just wanted my body to be fully healed so that I could get back into my regular exercise routine (exercise is SUCH a huge part of my life!!) and so that I could start building up my back muscles again to help with my scoliosis and pain management. 

I had seen some buzz about Erica's Core Rehab Program floating around the internet and social media and I was really curious about it. Then, I saw one of my friends on Instagram, Kristen Suppa (@well.balanced.home) post something about the program. I messaged her about it, and she connected me with Erica, and the next thing I knew, I was diving into the program with so much excitement and hope. (You can read Kristen's story at the bottom of this post!)

Within the first week of the program, I noticed a difference in how I felt. I was standing taller. I was feeling more supported through my core. I was making changes in the ways that I held my baby and in the way that I picked him and other things up from the floor. I was moving and standing and sitting differently. Even breathing differently!

I finally was being given the tools that I needed to begin to heal myself and FEEL BETTER. 

Now, I've finished phase two and I am so excited to say that when I re-checked my abdominal separation yesterday, I can no longer stick ANY of my finger in AND my separation is less than a finger tip wide, which is normal!! I am blown away with how quickly the program has helped me to heal, and I know that these quick results probably aren't the norm. I also know that I still have a long way to go. I'm going to be continuing to work through all of the phases, and I'll be writing a follow-up blog post once I've completed phase six so that I can update you all, so check back for that in a few months! I can't even imagine how amazing I'll feel once I've finished all of the phases!! 

Again, these are my honest opinions. I am not being paid to say any of this, I just genuinely am so excited about the Core Rehab Program and I want to tell all of you about it in case you are suffering from discomfort, or abdominal separation, or the stress of not knowing where to begin healing your core postpartum like I was. Whether you are three months postpartum or twenty years...Erica shows that it is possible to repair your diastasis recti, strengthen your core, and MOST IMPORTANTLY...feel better. 

The Core Rehab Program opens for enrollment tomorrow, on January 3rd. You can sign up here to receive more information and to be notified when enrollment is open. I don't get anything out of your signing up, other than the joy of knowing that you are going to receive the same loving guidance from Erica that I have. 

If you are a postpartum mama who has abdominal separation, OR even if you DON'T have abdominal separation but just feel like you need some help in strengthening your core, please consider this program, because it has seriously made such a difference for me. I could cry I am so thankful for the Core Rehab Program and Erica Ziel. I want you to feel better too. 

If you have questions, feel free to ask! And follow me (@annamcohenblog), @well.balanced.home and @knockedupfitness on Instagram for more daily updates! 

Here's to taking care of ourselves and to feeling GOOD postpartum!! :)

Kristen's Story:

I'm Kristen, and I'm a Mama of 2 little guys in New Jersey. My oldest is almost 2.5 and my youngest is 10 months. I got pregnant the second time around when my oldest was just 9 months old, and unfortunately I still had some ab separation from that first pregnancy. I was nervous that it would get a lot worse the second time around, and I actually reached out to Erica Ziel to ask about her Prenatal Workouts. She was super encouraging and suggested her Prenatal Sculpt Workout DVD and I was consistent with that (especially the core routine- which is gentle and safe for those with ab separation) throughout my pregnancy. I am thankful for those workouts because I had a very quick labor (3 hours from the first contraction to holding my baby!) and a smooth, easy recovery. As expected, I still had some ab separation postpartum, but I believe it would have been a lot worse (and my labor not as easy) had I not been proactive during my pregnancy and committed to those workouts. 

I ended up having a 2 finger gap from a few inches above my belly button, all the way down to my pubic bone, also the depth of my gap showed that my fascia was weak (something I learned about from Erica's tutorials)- the depth was almost to my second knuckle. I jumped on the opportunity to participate in Erica's newly released Core Rehab Program, and I just finished Phase 4. I am thrilled with how my body is feeling. I am a firm believer in doing what you can when you can and practicing patience with yourself during this season of motherhood where the babies are little and you don't get much time for yourself. Easier said than done (and I'm forever working on maintaining that mindset!), but that being said, it has taken me about 6 months to complete the 4 phases, and I am ok with that! The workouts are all under 20 minutes, and usually there are 1 or 2 videos to do each day, so you can split them throughout your day when you find a pocket of time. You stream them from your phone, iPad, etc. or follow PDF printouts, which is helpful as a busy Mama! I'll be starting the New Year with Phase 5, and I can't wait to see how I feel after I complete the final 2 phases! 

This program did more for me than almost closing my ab separation- it has given me more awareness in my everyday movements and posture than I ever had before, and I'm so thankful for that. My gap is now just localized to about 1 inch above my belly button and right at my belly button, and it is about 1 finger or less in width. Under my belly button, my gap is closed! The depth has improved significantly as well- it is about as deep as my first knuckle at this point and just localized to right around that small belly button area, so I am proof that the program can help to strengthen your fascia as well! Erica gives us so much valuable information in all of her videos and her excellent cueing during the workouts and tutorials that I can now truly connect to my core during activities in everyday life, and I just feel stronger and more intentional with my movements throughout my busy days. Of course, the bonus is how much flatter my tummy is and how much better my posture is. My husband even noticed my posture, so that's a win too! 

My advice to other Mamas and Mamas-to-be is that it is so important to practice self care and find some time for yourselves. Erica's programs are designed in such a way that they're very manageable and they will give you that time for yourself, while giving you your body confidence back! 

I love connecting with other Moms on Instagram (you can find me @well.balanced.home)- we all have SO much in common and can and should lean on each other for support when we need it! I'm so thankful to have connected with Anna through this community of Mamas- her Instagram account and blog always brighten my day! Looking forward to seeing her progress with this awesome program, and hope to connect with some of you as well! Happy New Year! 

 

Five Weeks To Fit: Total Body

This is it!! The final week of the Five Weeks To Fit challenge, and we are finishing up with a TOTAL BODY ROUTINE! That's right, let's work that beautiful body from head to toe! This is the time to give your all and finish up the year strong!

Complete the following routine every day this week. Throw in any of the previous four routines for some extra BURN! Comment below if you are IN!! Let's do this!

Follow me on Instagram (@tiugirlanna) so that we can finish this week STRONG together! I'm virtually cheering you on! You GOT this!!

*I am NOT a fitness professional or a doctor. Please consult your doctor before embarking on any fitness journey. Complete the workout routines in the Five Weeks To Fit challenge at your own risk. Anna M. Cohen and www.annamcohen.com are not liable for any injuries that may occur from participation in the challenge.*

Five Weeks To Fit: Abs

Welcome to the third week in the Five Weeks To Fit series! How's it going? Are you feeling sore yet??

This week, we are targeting those much coveted abs. Work your core every day this week! Throw in the booty and arm routines a few days this week too, if you're up for an extra challenge!

Check back next Monday for the next routine! Be sure to follow me on Instagram for some extra motivation: @tiugirlanna

*I am NOT a fitness professional or a doctor. Please consult your doctor before embarking on any fitness journey. Complete the workout routines in the Five Weeks To Fit challenge at your own risk. Anna M. Cohen and www.annamcohen.com are not liable for any injuries that may occur from participation in the challenge.*

Five Weeks To Fit: Arms

Welcome to week two of Five Weeks To Fit!! Did you complete the Bikini Ready Booty Routine every day last week? Let me know if you did in the comments below!!

Ready for the next routine? This week, we're targeting those beautiful arms! Complete the following routine every day this week. If you're feeling extra spicy, throw in last week's booty routine a few days this week as well! You will feel the burn!!

Check back next Monday for the next workout routine! And follow me on Instagram if you haven't already! @tiugirlanna - I'd LOVE some extra motivation!! Have a wonderful week!

*I am NOT a fitness professional or a doctor. Please consult your doctor before embarking on any fitness journey. Complete the workout routines in the Five Weeks To Fit challenge at your own risk. Anna M. Cohen and www.annamcohen.com are not liable for any injuries that may occur from participation in the challenge.*

Five Weeks To Fit: Booty

Hi there, and welcome to a new series! There are five weeks left in the year, and every Monday I'm going to be posting a new workout right here on Wild Writes Blog! Every week will target a different area of the body. I challenge you to complete the routine every single day of the week. You can do it!! I'll be doing it right along with you, and come New Year's day we are going to be in tip top shape!

You in? Great!

We're starting off with a Booty routine!

Alright, let's do this! Complete the Booty routine every day this week. Then, check back here because I'll be posting the next routine next Monday! For some motivation, follow me on IG: @tiugirlanna

You GOT this! Let's finish the year strong!

*I am NOT a fitness professional or a doctor. Please consult your doctor before embarking on any fitness journey. Complete the workout routines in the Five Weeks To Fit challenge at your own risk. Anna M. Cohen and www.annamcohen.com are not liable for any injuries that may occur from participation in the challenge.*

Five Weeks To Fit: Let's Get Bikini-Ready TOGETHER!

ARE YOU READY?

Ready for what, you may ask. Well, to get fit, strong, and motivated!! 2016 is quickly coming to a close. Now is the perfect time to kick-start a healthy, fit 2017!

Starting on Monday, November 28th I'll be posting a new fitness routine every week! Each Monday, I'll post a workout for you to complete every day of that week. Then, the next Monday I'll post the next workout! We will target booty, arms, abs, lower body, and total body.

THIS is your chance to kick your health and fitness goals into high gear as we close out 2016 with a bang! Let's start 2017 feeling fit, toned, and well on our way to being bikini ready! :)

Follow me on Instagram for motivation - we can cheer each other on! (I'm @tiugirlanna ) I'd love to see pictures of you doing the workouts each week! Tag me and use the hashtag #FIVEWEEKSTOFIT :) Yay!

And share the following picture on IG, Twitter, and/or Facebook to hold yourself accountable and let everyone know that you are committing to finishing 2016 healthy and STRONG!

Are you in??? Let's do this!! Check back on the blog on November 28th for your first routine and get ready to sweat!

*I am NOT a fitness professional or a doctor. Please consult your doctor before embarking on any fitness journey. Complete the workout routines in the Five Weeks To Fit challenge at your own risk. Anna M. Cohen and www.annamcohen.com are not liable for any injuries that may occur from participation in the challenge.*

Follow Wild Writes With Bloglovin'!

Follow Me!

Hi friends!

Are you on Bloglovin' yet? If not, I highly recommend you check it out! It's the best way to keep up to date with your favorite blogs, and to find great new blogs and articles!

The best part??? You can follow my blog with Bloglovin' to make sure that you never miss a new post! :) Just click the link below to follow my blog and to get signed up with Bloglovin' if you're not already!

 

xo, Anna

Working Out to Get Out: Fitness Tips for the Outdoor Enthusiast

1010204_10202919102850376_2540645513967938799_n Spring is right around the corner, can you feel it? Depending on where you are in the country right now, you can probably feel it a bit more than others. Well here in sunny Northern California it feels like Spring is really starting to blossom. With the coming of Spring, I find the motivation to kick my workouts into high gear in anticipation of little dresses, short shorts, and, more importantly, backpacking in the mountains.

The countdown to warm weather and outdoor activities is on. The mountain roads and trails are opening up in just a few short weeks. Now is the time to commit to getting in your best shape so that you can fully enjoy all that the great outdoors has to offer. Because if you hit the trail after a winter of hanging out on your couch without training first, you will be in for a less than stellar surprise.

10359155_10205203339274859_8055588343266801736_nHere are some tips to help you get in shape for your quickly approaching outdoor adventures:

1.  Give your stairs some lovin'.  If you have stairs in your house, use them to your own benefit. Walking or running up and down stairs is great training for hiking. It's also just a great workout in general. Do enough stairs a11000056_10205164531464688_1503326286543275879_nt a fast enough pace and you can get a good cardio session in. Plus, stairs are great for your booty.

2. Walk or jog. Now that the weather is going to be warming up it is a great opportunity to get outside in your neighborhood and go for a quick walk or jog. Just getting your body moving is important, and the fresh air wont hurt either. If the weather's not so nice where you are, get your steps in on a treadmill. If you don't have a treadmill, head to your local gym. No excuses! Walk instead of drive, park farther away from the door when going to the grocery store...find little ways to get yourself moving.

3. Work Out in Your Living Room. Find a fun workout that you can do in your living room before or after work. There are so many online that you can choose from. An online workout, or a fitness DVD, make it easy to fit in a workout without having to commit the time it takes to get to and from where you are going. Just turn on the workout and get to it. (My favorites: www.toneitup.com, barre3 workout DVDs or MyBarre3 online, and Ballet Beautiful. I do 10391415_10205235803006432_9078270789625860469_none or more of these types of workouts every day in preparation for hiking and backpacking.)

4. Rock Your Backpack. A really great (albeit, nerdy) way to train for backpacking is to wear your backpack around the house or out for your walk or jog. You can start out with it empty and gradually add weight to it to build up your strength. It's amazing how heavy your backpack can feel when you haven't worn it for a few months. Best to startil_570xN.674740473_5sw6 wearing it ahead of time to get reacquainted.

5. Squat It Out. Squats are something that you can do anywhere. They will build up your leg strength which is so important for hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, fly fishing, trail running...just about any outdoor activity you can think of. The benefits of squats are unlimited. So do them. Check out this link to make sure that your form is correct. Then, get yourself this amazing tank top.

 

 

SUP: Why You Should Do It

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420649_10200715255115560_302190599_n SUP: Stand-Up Paddle Boarding

 

By now, you have probably heard about SUP, or seen people cruising by on their stand up paddle boards as you watch, intrigued, from the shore. I remember thinking how boring it looked the first time I saw people doing it. But finally my curiosity got the better of me and I gave it a try. Now, several years later, I am hooked on SUP and here's why.

1. The benefits of SUP are endless. First of all, it's the most incredible workout. Balancing on the paddle board requires a lot of core strength and after a SUP session, you will feel it in your abs, arms, back, butt, legs... you get the idea.

2. SUP is a great way to get out on the water when you normally wouldn't have a way to do so. You can do it on a lake, a river, or even in the ocean. No watery expanse is off limits!

3. You can do yoga on a SUP. I have tried only a handful of times, and have ended up splashing, ungracefully, into the water on each occasion. It's challenging, and worth trying, and if you master it, nothing looks cooler than some killer SUP-top poses.

4. Quench your competitive thirst. SUP races are becoming all the rage. Visit www.supracer.com to find a race near you.

So I recommend giving stand-up paddle boarding a try if for some reason you haven't yet. You've got nothing to lose, except, perhaps, your pride when you fall in the first time you try it - and if you don't fall in on the first try, kudos to you. You rock!

If you're already tuned in to the awesome sport of SUP, let me know what YOU love about it in the comments below.

Looking for a great board? I'd recommend one from Perfect Wave Surf Shop. That's where my beloved Slice Series Ruby Red is from and it is perfection.

Jump Start Your Spring

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Spring has sprung and it's about time! It was a long winter and it is easy to start feeling a bit stir crazy when your outdoor activities are limited. With the warming of the weather, it's time to start planning those backpacking trips and getting ready for those wilderness climbs. Image

During the winter months it is normal for us to slack on exercise in favor of snuggling up with a blanket by the fire. Nothing wrong with snuggling or blankets or fires, however when spring  rolls around, it can be quite the rude awakening to realize that all of that winter snoozing left you feeling weak, out of breath, and totally unprepared for a long trek. When it's time to load up your pack and head out into the backcountry, you want to be ready.

Here are a few ways to jump-start your spring and get back into the swing of things, physically:

1. Make a list. Write down your goals [i.e. hikes you want to do, backpacking trips you have planned, climbs you want to try, a beachy vacation that you want to get in shape for...]. That way you can see everything laid out before you. If that isn't motivation to whip your butt into gear, I don't know what is.

2. Create a routine. Make a plan of when and where and how often you are going to exercise. If it's before work five times a week, then set your alarm a little earlier and go to bed a little sooner than you normally would the night before. Then, [and this is easier said than done,] stick to it. Routines take anywhere from 21 to 66 days to form, depending on who you ask. So when your alarm goes off at 5:30am or you get home from work at 7:00pm, don't give into the urge to "take the day off". Just do it.

3. Mix up your workout regimen. It's easy to get bored if you do the same work out every day. So, try picking a few different ways to exercise and rotate through them on various days of the week. When prepping for a backcountry adventure, it is important to not only get good cardiovascular exercise in, but also to build up strength and endurance. Try alternating between running, going on hikes, and yoga.

4. Find workouts that you love. If you enjoy what you are doing, you will be more likely to actually do it. All the good intentions in the world wont make you go out for a run if you absolutely hate running. If a spin class is more your thing, do it! If jump roping floats your boat, do that.

I love taking barre3 classes. They are fun and they really build up your strength and endurance - plus you get a great cardio work out, mixed with toning and stretching. Perfection!

And if hiking is the only form of "working out" that you can stand, go hiking more. 

If crowded trails aren't your style, check out my post on "Why It's Good to Get Off the Trail" for some tips on how to find more remote places to hike.

5. Start now! It is not too early to start training for your backpacking trip this June. Start your new exercise routine, and make sure you strap on your loaded pack at every chance you get. Even just walking around your house with it on will build up your strength. You don't want the first time you put on your pack this year to be when you're heading out into the wild for three nights.

This is going to be a great year of outdoor exploration!

Let me know your favorite ways to get physically ready for adventure in the comments below!

Beauty, Naturally

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I will admit, I love makeup. I love doing my hair and dressing up. But, I've learned that if you aren't healthy and beautiful on the inside, you wont look your best on the outside, regardless of how much foundation and mascara you use. Recently, I've been on a quest to find a natural beauty regimen. I spend a lot of time outdoors, camping and exploring with my husband, and I don't take makeup with me when I'm out adventuring! So, it has become essential that I focus on shifting my beautifying techniques to start on the inside, rather than focusing on products that go on the outside. Glowing, flawless skin, a healthy complexion, glossy hair...all of that depends on what you put into your body. Here are a few tricks that I've learned to attain beauty in a natural, healthful way:

1. Drink water. No...I mean LOTS of water. Our bodies are primarily made up of water. When you feel yourself becoming thirsty, that means that your body is already in the beginning stages of dehydration. It is recommended that you drink water constantly throughout the day rather than waiting until you feel parched. I keep a 22oz bottle with me, and I try to drink at least three bottles full of water each day. Ideally, one should be drinking at least half of one's body weight in water every 24 hours. Water helps to flush toxins out of your body, and, most importantly, your skin. If you start amping up your water intake, I bet you will notice your skin start to clear up and, before long, it will take on that greatly coveted natural glow. *Bonus: Drinking more water will give you energy!

2. Coconut Oil. I have found that coconut oil makes an incredible, all natural moisturizer. It can be used all over your body, like a lotion - minus the chemical ingredients. Coconut oil is a wonderful lip balm, and it makes your skin positively glow. It's also great to use in your hair as a conditioner. Just smooth it into your strands before a shower, and let it sit for a few minutes before washing it out.

3. Limit Dairy. I've been trying to limit my dairy intake and since I've done that, my skin has become less bumpy and more smooth.

4. Stock Up On ZZZZs. Getting a solid 8 hours of sleep every night is a crucial part of a natural beauty regimen. When you sleep, your body repairs itself. Your mind, your skin, every single part of you is worked on while you sleep. Getting enough sleep reduces dark circles under your eyes, adds to your natural glow, and helps to reduce cortisol levels (which are caused by stress). Investing in some quality sleep is a good idea whenever you can.

5. Exercise! Whether it is a relaxing yoga class, a nice run outside, a fast-paced barre class [my favorite barre workout is barre3: www.barre3.com], or a full-body toning video from the girls over at Tone it Up! [www.toneitup.com].  It doesn't matter what you do. Find something you love that makes you feel good about yourself, and then make it a habit! My favorite form of exercise is hiking. What's yours?  Exercise will increase circulation in your body, and it helps pump oxygen to your organs. And don't forget, what is the largest organ in the body? That's right - skin. Exercise will make your skin healthier. And that's what we're going for with this natural beauty regimen! So even if you just do a Tone it Up video for 15 minutes, or an hour-long barre3 class, that's ok. As long as you are doing something good for yourself to get your body moving a little, that can do wonders for your body and, especially, your mind. Exercise reduces cortisol levels, keeps you limber, and gives you endorphins which make you happy. And happiness is beautiful!

6. Relax. I've been mentioning cortisol - that nasty chemical that is released in your body when you are stressed. Too much cortisol can have detrimental effects on your health. Try to make an effort to relax and let go of stress. Take a hot, candle lit bath with your favorite bath soaps. Go on a weekend getaway with your honey. Curl up by the fire with a good book and zone out for a while. Get a massage, or a manicure and pedicure. Drink some tea, or a glass of vino and just...let go every once in a while. It will do wonders for your body...and your mental health.

7. Pay Attention to What Kind of Food You Eat. I've tried to focus on eating whole foods and I have been making an effort to eliminate processed foods from my diet. When you think about it, processed foods are hardly food at all. They are modified, filled with chemicals, salt, and sugar, all in an effort to appeal to the taste buds, while completely disregarding what they do to our bodies. By sticking to whole foods, you can be more sure of what is going into your body. Fruits, vegetables, meat, fish...these are all things that are in their natural forms. Stick to those types of foods. Your body will thank you for it.