Monday, September 25, 2017

Fitness at Home: 5 Free Online Workouts

I'm sharing five free online workout channels that I plan to incorporate into my weekly fitness schedule this fall.

Now that Baby C is 10 months old and autumn has officially arrived, I'm looking for motivation to start working out on a regular basis again. Since I went back to work in May, fitting in runs and other workouts has been difficult. I wear a Fitbit every day and walk as much as I can, but it has been a daily struggle for the past few months to do more than that. In order to find my way back to fitness again, I started researching online workout options that I can do at home and signed up for an 8k race in November with a friend - the Hot Cider Hustle.

One of the reasons I am struggling to fit a workout into my daily schedule is because my morning routine is always in flux. Baby C wakes up at a slightly different time everyday and he continues to wake up once {or more} during the night. This means when I am able to fit in a workout in the early morning hours, I need something to get me going as quickly as possible - like a banana with nut butter and cinnamon or a yogurt drink:

We have experienced unseasonably hot weather recently so this cold and creamy yogurt drink is perfect to wake me up with enough protein for a quick morning workout. I found a 4-pack of both Dannon® Oikos® and Dannon® Light & Fit® Nonfat Yogurt Drinks at Walmart in the Dairy section of the grocery store. This yogurt drink is easy to pull out of the refrigerator to enjoy on a hectic morning. These yogurt drinks are also a great source of calcium and Vitamin D.

Interested in trying Dannon® Light & Fit® & Dannon® Oikos® yogurt drinks? Click here for a $1 Ibotta rebate!

5 Free Online Workouts

1: Jenny Ford Step Aerobics Workouts

Step aerobics isn't the most popular workout, but it involves minimal equipment and doesn't require very much space. I bought an aerobic step on Amazon last winter and I plan on finally putting it to good use this fall. Jenny Ford is a great free workout channel on YouTube - she has close to 50,000 subscribers and many videos to choose from. This 14 minute video is a great starter for a step workout. My glamorous set-up includes a laptop on my desk chair, but it gets the job done.

 2: Jessica Smith TV

Jessica Smith TV offers free online workout videos as well as DVDs for purchase. Workout videos are available on her YouTube channel and website. This 20-Minute Naptime Workout: Barre Fusion will be easy to fit into my schedule and requires minimal equipment.

3: Nike+ Training Club

I have been using the Nike+ Run Club app to track my runs for several years. I should have downloaded the Nike+ Training Club app long ago! Nike offers an amazing series of free workouts on the Training Club app, including strength, endurance, classic, etc. I signed up for a 4-week beginner workout plan via the app, for 2-3 online workouts per week. There are over 100 workouts on the app so this should keep me busy.

4: Do Yoga With Me

I'm skeptical of online yoga but willing to give it a shot - my concern is falling on my head while trying to see what's happening on the screen. Free online yoga classes from Do Yoga With Me will be a good way to try out yoga at home. I'm not an experienced enough yogi {or let's be honest, a yogi at all} to recall enough moves for a solo workout without video encouragement.

5: Mini Barre Workouts from Physique 57

I have tried barre workout classes a handful of times over the years. While I think it's a good workout, attending classes regularly is an expensive habit. Physique 57 offers a series of 15 mini barre workouts that are free and give you an idea what barre classes are all about. I am considering signing up for an online barre subscription, so this is perfect to give barre another try.

Don't forget to click here for a $1 Ibotta rebate on yogurt drinks!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Favorite Things: Fall Decor at Home

This post includes a list of my favorite fall decor items for your home including pumpkin decor, a seasonal blanket, a print, candles and more. I have been looking for new fall / autumn decorating ideas since the calendar rolled over to September - I hope this list provides inspiration for you too.

This post contains affiliate links.

Mother Nature is bringing warm, summery weather to the Chicago area this week, with temperatures in the mid-to-upper 80s and sunny skies starting tomorrow and through the weekend. But fall is just a few days away - the autumnal equinox is coming this Friday, September 22. I started decorating for the fall season early this year, but there are a few more things I have my eye on. I prefer to keep fall and Halloween decorations subtle and not too wild. This list includes ten fall decor items I would love to add to my home.

White Gourds and Pumpkins
I always pick up a few white pumpkins in various sizes to display around the house. I haven't found any for sale yet this year, so I am tempted to buy the artificial kind to use for multiple years.

{Image via Amazon}

Glass Pumpkin Jar
I have two ceramic pumpkins that my mom bought me several years ago, in pale yellow and orange. They are perfect to use as candy jars. I think this clear glass pumpkin is a perfect addition to my collection.

{Image via Amazon}

Fall Pillow
This is such a cute addition to a couch or chair. If you're friends with me in real life {or on Pinterest or Instagram} you will know I am obsessed with pumpkin this season. I'm not a huge fan of pumpkin spiced lattes {sorry!} or savory pumpkin foods but I'll try any dessert or breakfast-themed pumpkin recipe. I would add this pillow to my front porch furniture.
{Image via Amazon}

Farmhouse Cider Wood Wick Soy Candle
I love burning scented candles in the fall and winter, but prefer soy wax for a 'cleaner' burn. It can be difficult for me to find soy candles that aren't ridiculously expensive, especially in seasonal scents. This one sounds like it smells amazing in a "Farmhouse Cider" scent. I also appreciate the sound of a crackling wood wick candle since we don't have a fireplace.

{Image via Amazon}

Rainy Day Wool Blanket
I love nothing more than a cozy blanket on a rainy or chilly fall day. This wool blanket looks warm and I love the gray/white striped color combination.

{Image via Amazon}

Hello Fall Print
This handmade fall print caught my eye right away. I love the white frame! This would look great as part of a bookshelf display.

{Image via Amazon}

Copper Baskets
Copper is popular right now for home decor, and you can find this element at almost every home store. These copper baskets can be used year-round but I think they make the perfect fall accessory too. I can picture a basket full of my white pumpkins

{Image via Amazon}

Fall Twig and Puff Ball Wreath
We recently upgraded the front of our home with new concrete and brick steps. I love the new entrance and I have been looking for a fall-themed wreath to hang on the door. This Fall Twig and Puff Ball Wreath is from World Market; I love the color combo, especially with dark purple and cream.

{Image via World Market}

We have a fairly large dining room table that was passed down from my in-laws. They found it at a farm sale 30 years ago and re-finished it multiple times for their own use before gifting it to us after we moved into our house. I never quite know how to decorate the center of the table and it looks naked with nothing there. Adding this birch centerpiece is a good start.

{Image via World Market}

Metal Pumpkin Lantern
I love pumpkin decor but try to mix up the colors so everything doesn't scream orange when you walk in the door. I love the industrial look of these metal pumpkins and might even display them all year.

{Image via World Market}

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Pumpkin Chai Slow Cooker Oats

This seasonal breakfast recipe for Pumpkin Chai Slow Cooker Oats combines my favorite fall flavors, including pumpkin pie and chai spices, with healthy steel cut oats. This is an easy recipe made in a slow cooker or crock pot.

It was hard to wait until this week to share my first pumpkin recipe of the year. We purchased two large pumpkins for our front steps over the weekend, and I already finished one container of Pumpkin Pie Spice by baking several batches of pumpkin muffins. No shame. The more pumpkin spice the better.

I start craving oatmeal daily once the temperature dips below 60 degrees in the evening. I love using steel cut oats, but rarely have the patience or time to spend 30 minutes stirring the pot. A few years ago I realized how delicious steel cut oats can be made in a slow cooker - check out my Chai Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats and Blueberry Pie Slow Cooker Oats for other ideas.

This slow cooker oats breakfast recipe uses pumpkin puree, pumpkin spice, and chai spice. This combination of flavors made my house smell amazing! I have been enjoying these oats for breakfast {and sometimes snacks} every day this week.

Pumpkin Chai Slow Cooker Oats
Yields: 6-8 servings

1 1/2 cups steel cut oats
2 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk*
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup pure maple syrup or packed brown sugar**
1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 Tablespoon chai spice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cinnamon stick

1. Add all ingredients to a slow cooker / crock pot and stir.
2. Cook on high for 2 hours and 15 minutes. Stir as needed.
3. Remove cinnamon stick before serving.

*Any milk will work in this recipe. I prefer the flavor of almond milk.
**This is a lightly sweet breakfast recipe. Add extra sugar if you want it sweeter.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

How I Deal With My Fear of Flying

If you have ever traveled by air with me, you know I experience a fear of flying. Heart racing, nervous, take a deep breath this plane is not going to crash with every bump flying anxiety. Did you know fear of flying is extremely common? It feels indulgent to complain about this with other problems around the world these days, but estimates are that 25 percent of Americans deal with some level of fear or anxiety about air travel. This post includes five steps I take to deal with my fear of flying.

This post contains affiliate links.

My fear of flying has improved over the years and I'm slowly chipping away at it with every flight. After a recent trip to Seattle, I researched how people deal with flying fear/anxiety and thought more about the steps I take to reduce mine. Traveling with baby C makes me want to resolve this issue for good because I don't want him to figure out that mama is stressed for no reason.

1: Don't wait until the last minute to pack.

Scrambling at the last minute makes me feel even more stressed for air travel, so I try to pack all of my luggage the day before a trip. This involves making lists, laying out my clothes, and packing everything but the daily essentials in advance.

2: Schedule non-stop flights {if possible}.

The most anxiety-producing moments of a flight for me are takeoff and the time it takes to reach cruising altitude. Scheduling a non-stop flight means I only have to go through this once per leg of travel.

3: Practice deep breathing.

Using deep or meditative breathing exercises is a significant help for dealing with fear of flying. During takeoff and any bumpy moments on a flight, I start taking deep breaths and count back from 100 slowly. The combination of counting and deep breathing works well for me. Berkeley offers a short guided meditation online to practice something similar - click here to check it out.

4: Invest in quality noise cancelling headphones.

I figured out a few years ago that my fear of flying is greatly reduced if the sounds coming from the plane are dulled with noise cancelling headphones. I have a pair similar to this and they work wonders to reduce my flying anxiety. I wear them throughout the entire flight even if I'm not listening to music or watching a movie. I can still hear well enough to order my standard ginger ale from the beverage cart.

5: Learn basic facts about air travel.

It has been helpful for me to read about air travel and airplanes, to learn basic facts. Below is a list of air travel articles that I found interesting to read. Two of my favorite stats: You are more likely to get struck by lightening than suffer a fatal plane crash; and commercial planes can land without any {working} engines.