Fitness Favorites – 2014 Gift Guide

It’s time for me to face facts. Christmas is one month from today, and that means I need to start seriously thinking about gift strategy for my friends and family. I’m planning to make a lot of my gifts this year – I like the more personal touch and hope the recipients value the gifts that much more since they were handmade.

With all that said, I’m definitely no stranger to consumerism, and I’m guilty of being a bit of a compulsive shopper. I wanted to share some of my favorite purchases from the past year – the fitness lover in your life would be glad to receive any of these! In anticipation of this weekend’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, I wanted to put this gift guide together – scout around and I bet you can find some awesome sales on some of these items! Don’t forget to sign up for an Ebates account before you start your online Christmas shopping; their new browser button lets you know when there are cash back rewards available while you’re surfing through online shops, so you never miss a deal.

Fitness Favorites Gift Ideas

Women’s UA ColdGear Infrared Crew
I can’t imagine surviving ski season without UnderArmour’s ColdGear line. The infrared technology reflects your body heat to help keep you warm. I have a few of these basic crews and they are fantastic!

Shimano black velcro shoes
For the spin junkie in your life, a set of cycling shoes is well worth the investment. If you aren’t sure of sizing, give a gift card to a local bike shop – they’ll ensure proper fit and make sure the cleats are positioned correctly.

Ugg dakota slipper
I am a basic bitch and I am totally fine with that. I couldn’t survive winter barre and yoga classes without these slippers waiting for me at the end of the session!

Garmin watch
This is the basic Garmin model, and it’s well suited to novice or casual runners. I had previously used my cell phone to track my runs and I appreciate being able to see my stats with a quick glance at my wrist. I especially love the interval training option.

Lululemon circle scarf
The basic Vinyasa scarf is a staple from Lululemon for good reason. It can be worn so many different ways! I love having it to throw on after class, and it’s also a staple when I’m traveling.

lululemon The Mat
This yoga mat is worth every penny. I don’t love the texture that you find in many yoga mats – the smooth surface of this mat doesn’t irritate my skin, and I never slip even in the hottest classes.

bliss ‘Bathing Brilliance’ Set
I’m obsessed with Bliss products. This lemon + sage shower gel lives in my gym bag, and their body butter combats even the worst winter dry skin.

Trigger Point Performance the Grid Revolutionary Foam Roller
Foam rolling has totally changed my life – I feel so much better when I take the time to roll out my muscles after a challenging class or a long run. I love the bright color of this model!

Polar FT4F
This is the go-to heart rate monitor that all of the girls at the studio use to track their burn. It’s a basic model but it gets the job done! I find both the watch and the chest strap very comfortable to wear during class.

If you’re still looking for more ideas, check out Amanda’s post at Run to the Finish – she’s hosting a fitness gift guide link up where other wellness bloggers are sharing their ideas for this holiday season of giving.

What health or fitness related gifts would you love to find under your tree this year? Let me know in the comments – maybe it will become a favorite worth including on my 2015 gift list!


Friday Roundup 10/10

The Real World is doing everything in its power to make me the Worst Blogger Ever. At the very least, I’m winning the Worst Blogger for October 2014 award. I promise there’s a lot going on behind the scenes – I’m working on some things with Pinterest, I’ve got a few recipes to share, and a few other posts are in early draft form. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to be a productive human in all the many areas of my life, and this past week, my real job that actually pays my salary had to be my top priority.

However, Friday Roundups are one of the easiest and most fun posts for me to write, so I have no excuse not to get this up here for you guys! Here are some of the things that I’m loving these days.

New Gadget: Garmin Forerunner 10

I recently treated myself to a Garmin Forerunner 10, a GPS-enabled watch to use when running. I had always relied on apps to track my runs, but I run with my phone zipped in a pocket, and I found myself really wanting to know my stats on distance and pace at a glance. I’m waiting until after my first race (next weekend’s 10K) to share an official review, but so far, so good! I am loving having my basic stats on my wrist, and tonight I plan to test the watch’s run/walk timing feature.

New Music: New Found Glory’s Resurrection

Will you guys still love me after I admit that my taste in music hasn’t really evolved since my high school days? New Found Glory is one of those nostalgic bands that I still really enjoy even now, more than 10 years after I first started listening to them. They released a new album earlier this week, and I am totally loving it. I can’t wait to hear some of the new material next week when NFG plays the House of Blues here in Boston! You can give the album a listen on Spotify, and if you love it as much as I do, then I highly recommend purchasing the MP3 album from Amazon. I pay $10/month so that I can stream Spotify from my phone and iPad, but when an artist I care about releases a new album, I always try to buy the album, even if it’s available for streaming. Streaming music services are great for consumers but not so much for artists, so if you want to support the musicians you enjoy, and you can afford to do so, I definitely recommend continuing to purchase music. (And now I’ll get off my soapbox, thanks for putting up with that little tangent!)

Something Silly…

This was shared on the “I F#@king Love Science” Facebook page earlier this week. I’m not sure if you guys have figured this out yet or not, but I’m kind of a super-nerd. This cracked me up – I actually sat at my desk laughing out loud for a minute after I first saw it, and I just had to pass it along.

Winter Treat: Stratton Season Pass

This is definitely my favorite thing about this week. As you might recall from earlier posts, I only started skiing a few years ago, and I am super excited for another season on the slopes. Earlier this week I got a promotional email from Stratton Mountain advertising their season pass rates, and I made the mistake of actually clicking through to check out the prices. Turns out there’s a pass – the Strattitude pass – that’s only available for skiers between the ages of 18-29. It’s only $299, and it’s good every day the mountain’s open – no blackout dates! A comparable pass jumps to $949 when you turn 30, so I took this as a sign from the universe that I need to spend the last winter of my 20s skiing at my favorite east coast mountain as much as possible.

Weekend Festivities: Cadillac Ranch

What’s Cadillac Ranch, you ask? Why, IT IS THE PLACE WHERE DREAMS COME TRUE. Caddy Ranch calls itself “New England’s Premiere Country Line Dancing Destination,” and my friends, they aren’t overselling it. It’s a country-themed bar in Connecticut that features line dancing and a mechanical bull, and it is easily one of my favorite places in the entire world. I try to go with my friends a few times a year, and we’re heading out there this weekend for some drinking and dancing. The photo above was taken on my birthday two years ago; they have sadly since gotten rid of Big Buck Hunter, but luckily I’ve gotten better at the line dances, so I can keep up with the regulars.

What are your plans for the weekend? Any fun finds from this week that you’d like to share?
Let me know in the comments!

What’s on your bucket list?

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about my fitness bucket list. When I first started on my journey toward improved physical fitness and overall wellness, I had a long list of things that I never thought I’d be able to do. I had let my history of injuries and my lack of fitness dominate my mind, and I believed the voice inside my head that whispered, “You can’t do that. There’s no way. Don’t even think about trying that.”

I felt that way about a lot of things. I’d watch the Zumba classes at Studio Poise and think, “Well, that looks like fun, but I could never make it through an hour class… I’d be winded after two songs.” I would listen to my cousin talk about her running group and would long to join her for a race, but a history of knee problems kept me from lacing up my sneakers and giving it a shot.

My favorite example, though, is overcoming my fear of the ski slopes. After college, my group of friends would get together once a year for a ski trip. The first time, they congregated at Lake Placid for a long weekend. I had never skied in my life, and I still remembered the words of my orthopedic surgeon following my knee reconstruction, five years earlier: “You’ll eventually be able to resume most activities, but you should probably avoid things like skiing.” My friends managed to convince me to make the journey out to their cabin, and while I loved reuniting with them and had a great time laughing over beers every night, I hated every second of sitting around during the day while they hit the slopes. There are only so many ways to entertain yourself in a ski lodge, and trust me, it gets old fast. When we decided on Denver for the following year’s trip, I vowed that I would learn to ski before the trip, and I never turned back.

skiing collage

It hasn’t always been a smooth ride. It took me three seasons before I really felt like I had control when I was on the slopes. It was only last year that I was able to ski from the very top of the mountain to the bottom, and even then I stuck to mostly green trails, with only a few blues thrown in when absolutely necessary. I still have moments of panic on trickier sections of the mountain, and without fail, I feel like I might throw up my first time on a chair lift every season. Despite all that, I’ve found a sport that I absolutely adore. I love the feeling of whooshing down a mountain. There’s nothing better than ditching work for a day in the middle of the week and catching a quiet day, so you can find yourself alone on the trails and enjoy the peace and the solitude. Skiing – that sport that so terrified me, that I was convinced would never be an activity I could pursue – has become a highlight of every winter for me, and I’m so glad I didn’t listen to that annoying little voice in my head telling me not to try.

Skiing became the gateway drug to my fitness bucket list. It was the Goliath to my David, and I conquered it – and so why shouldn’t I try any of the other things that once seemed like they would never be possible for unfit, clumsy me? As I progressed in my fitness journey, I became increasingly confident in my body’s ability to handle the challenges I threw at it.

Here’s what my fitness bucket list currently looks like, though it’s constantly evolving:

Run a 10K in 2014. I ran my first 5K in 2013, and I’ve participated in four additional 5K races since then. I want to push myself further, which is why I signed up for the Firefighters’ Memorial 10K on October 19, 2014. I’m also a sucker for a good charity and couldn’t say no to this fundraising opportunity.

Run a half marathon in 2015. This goal feels a little bit insane right now, but if I put it in writing, I’ll have to hold myself accountable. I really want to be able to say I finished a half marathon, and I turn 30 in 2015 – it feels like the right time. I am definitely planning on the RunDisney Wine & Dine half marathon in November of 2015, accompanied by my favorite “What in the hell were we thinking?!” sidekick, Miss Dheerja. However, I recently discovered that the Providence Marathon is the day after my 30th birthday, and it offers a half marathon course as well. What better way to kick off my 30s than by accomplishing something that once seemed impossible? I’m waiting until after the October 10K to register, because if the 10K is an unmitigated disaster I should probably work on more training before trying a half, but this feels like a good fit for me.

Run the Boston Marathon in 2017 as a charity runner. I’m a Boston native. Patriots Day, Marathon Monday, is my favorite day of the year – there’s an atmosphere in my city that is truly special and unique. I started seriously thinking about running the marathon this past spring, while tracking some friends on the app. Watching them progress and celebrating with them at the finish made me realize that I wanted to run this marathon at some point in my life. I don’t see myself ever qualifying – understatement of the year – but I would love to run for charity. I plan to raise money for the Cotting School, and I’m aiming for 2017 as I plan to run in memory of the 15th anniversary of my brother’s death. This gives me plenty of time to train, and also to come up with a fundraising plan to tackle the hefty commitment that Boston entails!

Participate in a triathlon. I certainly don’t plan to go out and run an ironman anytime soon, but I would love to complete a triathlon. I’ve always been a strong swimmer, and cycling has long been a favorite way to stay fit. As I build more confidence in my running abilities and feel more secure in my all-around fitness, I’d love to find a triathlon that appeals to me and train for it. I might start as part of a relay team to get a feel for the whole tri experience, but I really want to achieve this in the next decade.

Get certified to teach a fitness class. This one is still a ways off, I suspect, but I’d love to eventually be able to teach a fitness class. I have always loved teaching, and I so value the relationships I have with the instructors who have made a difference in my wellness journey. I would love to be able to inspire others in the same way. I’m not yet at a point in my journey where I would feel comfortable in front of a class, but this is something I’m always thinking about for some point in the future.

What’s on your personal bucket list?
How do you stay accountable and continue progressing toward your goals?