July Heart to Heart

Hello dear friends.

Are you completely blown away by the fact that it is August? I am going to be honest, I can’t handle it. Maybe I am the only one, but as soon as August rolls around, I look at the calendar, and immediately feel like the summer is over. Hubby and I have got so much more summer fun ahead, but the feeling that its flying by just seems to intensify.

If you cant find me, chances are I am in a corner taking deep breaths and doing my best to live in the moment and not think away the next couple weeks.

Anyway, lets catch up on July shall we?

 

The Highs

So much adventure

Bobby and I were fortunate enough to get a few good trips in this month. There just isn’t anything quite like getting away for some rest and reconnection.

Over the 4th of July weekend, we rented an AirBnB in Neptune and spent a glorious 5 day weekend at the beach. We were beach bums by day, and little city explorers by night. We hit the boardwalk in Asbury Park, explored Red Bank and saw the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra perform in the park, and had my first authentic carnival style boardwalk experience at Point Pleasant.IMG_0512

IMG_0538

IMG_0513It was a perfect way to officially usher in summer, to reconnect after a busy end to the school year, and to celebrate 5 years of marriage (we killed a lot of bird with that one stone). Also, we caught up with some college friends at the beach on the 4th!

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A few weeks later we headed to Massachusetts for the Celebration Conference. Our network of churches gathers from all over the northeast to worship, pray, and celebrate! This one was a game changer for me. I received prayer and counsel from some of our very best friends, and really feel like the Lord used them to heal me of living offended at God, and began the process of healing some other places in my heart. It was nothing short of amazing.

Love and Marriage

We celebrated 5 years married this month. I still don’t quite believe its been that long. I’ll spare you any more mushy stuff, since you already got it a few weeks ago. We celebrated the day exploring Hoboken, drinking good coffee, eating good food, strolling and chatting and dreaming, all our favorite things.

Facial First Timer

July always ends with a weekend trip to Lancaster PA to celebrate the birthday of one of my very best friends, lets be real, she is one of the very best humans on this earth. This year we celebrated with good food, great coffee, encouraging conversation, and facials!

Both of us were first timers, and it was so, so good. We got the validation treatment at the Lush Spa in Philadelphia. The treatment space was made to look like an english cottage, it was perfectly comfy and homey. It was such a relaxing and immersive experience we both left feeling pampered, relaxed, and beautiful.

Bethany is one of the most thoughtful and generous people, and spending time with her is like water to my soul. It was a good day indeed. My only regret is that the time was so short.

The Lows

I feel like I have a harder and harder time remembering the lows by the end of the month. I want to be authentic and not come across all rainbows and sunshine, but the honest truth is God has been doing a work in me to embrace positivity and hopefulness more and more. Praise Him! Thats not to say there haven’t been hard days, but those days weren’t caused by things I can summarize in quick post. Does that make sense?

Hubby had a couple grad classes cancelled, which is a mix of low and high. No class means he gets to hang out with me and the little man, but it also means more time until the finish line. So I guess its short term gain for long term pain. Womp womp.

IMG_0653Working for the summer hasn’t been bad at all (like I said, me and the little man have been spoiled with lots of Bobby time, and also the little man is so much fun), but saying yes to work has meant saying no to some other things and that has been a bit of a bummer. The largest bummer being missing my cousins wedding in Buffalo. Thank God for pictures right?

What I Read

Okay, I don’t want to brag or anything, but pretty much I am killing it on the reading right now. Full disclosure, audiobooks and a 45-minute-each-way commute have been a major factor in that killing, but books are books right? (I will mark books I did on audio with an *)

Shrill – Lindy West This book totally challenged me and I ate it up. I will admit, I was expecting the emphasis to be more on empowering women to have a strong voice in the world, and while there was some of that, there was definitely a heavier emphasis on body image. Lindy gave words for so many things I have experienced and really empowered me to unashamedly take up space in the world.

Girl Up- Laura Bates– This one caught my eye on the “new releases” shelf a the library. Laura writes to young women about sexism, mental health, sexual health and the like in a funny but direct way. I found her candor refreshing and wish that I had access to a book like this in my teens. I will readily admit there were some ideas I disagreed with, but I was so impressed by Laura’s ability to present all sides of an idea in a way that made space to decided for yourself. I think it could be a really helpful resource for parents of young girls as a way to start conversation about difficult and sometimes uncomfortable conversation.

When Food is Love- Geneen Roth Crossing this one off from my summer reading list. As always Geneen provides some great little nuggets to challenge you and open your eyes to the reasons why you behave the way you do. Of all her books I read, I struggled most to relate to this one, but the revelations it brought were well worth it.

The Bell Jar- Sylvia Plath* Maggie Gyllenhaal reads this audiobook, and she did a fantastic job. I find audiobooks are a great way to get more classic literature into your life, if thats something  your interested in of course. The Bell Jar was certainly interesting, and I can only imagine how groundbreaking it must have been for its time. If I am honest though, I wanted more from it. I enjoyed being let in on the story, getting a picture of a woman in crisis, but it felt a little impersonal, like I wanted more insight into her thoughts and feelings.

Hillbilly Elegy – JD Vance* Woah. This one really got me thinking. On a practical note, I really enjoyed the way Vance wove statistics and case studies with his own personal story, his writing is relatable and accessible. On a personal note, I was really challenged to have more compassion for a people group I easily put myself at odds with, and even place myself as superior to, especially because I found myself relating to and understanding much more than I anticipated.

 The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving -Jonathan Evison* Okay, full disclosure, I did not love this book. I picked it up because the Netflix movie based on it is one of my favorites. The book was SO DIFFERENT, and not nearly as funny or endearing. I don’t know if I have ever said this about any other book turned movie, but go ahead and skip the book, just watch the movie.

What I Watched

The Big Sick – find it in a theater near you and run, don’t walk to see this movie! It is heartwarming and funny and just. so. good.

Dunkirk – Hubby was so amazed by this movie, he saw it twice. It really is a powerful display of bravery and sacrifice and unrelenting perseverance.

What I Listened To

I don’t have much new to report here. Still loving Chance the Rapper.  Andrew Belle released a new track I am digging, and it has me pretty stoked for the new album coming later in August.

Some Things I Loved

Lush Cosmetics – Okay I am so late to this one, I know, but their products are wonderful and it feels so good not to worry about rubbing harmful chemicals into my skin. If you have one nearby, the stores are so worth visiting, the employees are so helpful and you can sample any product your little heart desires.

What I am Looking Forward to

Our summer is going to close out with a bang! August is jam packed and we have so much to look forward to! Top on the list, visits from friends, a Wojo family invasion into New Jersey, and Callamari-Bishop family vacation!

How was your July? What are you looking forward to for August? What are some tricks you found for taking deep breaths and being present in the moment?

Progressive Workout

Hey friends

Welcome back for your weekly workout. I am so glad you’re here!

This week we have a 15 minute progressive workout. What does that mean you ask?  We will do 4 sets of 4 moves, starting with a basic move and adding on to that move every 30 seconds.

So for example, in the first set, you will start with your left leg forward doing a standard lunge. After 30 seconds, you will add a curtsey lunge, so you will do a regular lunge, then a curtsey lunge until the bell. When that bell rings you will add a reverse fly, so you will lunge, curtsey lunge reverse fly. Each set will have a total of 4 moves by the end, and you will do a final round of 30 seconds performing all 4 moves for the total 30 seconds.

I promise explaining it is more confusing than actually doing it.

So go get those weights, a mat, and your favorite playlists and we will get to it.

 

Your written breakdown

Set 1

  1. Lunge left
    With left leg forward, step right leg back, keeping hips square ahead. Lower righ knee to just above the ground, so left leg is at a 90-degree angle, with the left knee and heel in line.
  2. Curtsey lunge left
    With left leg forward step right foot back and slightly past the outside of the left heel, keeping hips square. Lift and lower the left leg to 90 degrees.
  3. Reverse flies
    Stand with feet close together, slightly bend the knees, hinge forward at the waist. Extend arms in front, palms facing each other. With arms straight, lift arms outward (like a bird)
  4. Tricep Kickbacks
    Stand with feet close together, slightly bend the knees, hinge forward at the waist. Bend arms to 90 degrees, palms facing each other, lift so upper arms are slightly higher than your back. Bring upper arm in towards shoulders, then extended back squeezing the triceps

Set 2

  1. Lunge right
    With right leg forward, step left leg back, keeping hips square ahead. Lower left knee to just above the ground, so right leg is at a 90-degree angle, with the right knee and heel in line.
  2. Curtsey lunge right
    With right leg forward step left foot back and slightly past the outside of the right heel, keeping hips square. Lift and lower the left leg to 90 degrees.
  3. Bicep curl
    Weights in hand, elbows tucked close to sides, palms facing ceiling, slowly lift and quickly lower
  4. Overhead press
    Standing with feet shoulder width apart, lift arms like a goal post, arms bent 90 degrees and upper arm parallel to the floor

Set 3

  1. Squat
    With weight in the heels, lower as though you are about to sit in a chair, making sure your knees do not go past your toes
  2. Hop back to plank
    From standing, bend forward lowering hands to the ground, hop (or walk) feet back into plank
  3. Pike
    Starting in plank position, push your hips up into downward dog, lower back to plank
  4. Knee to elbow tap
    As your return to plank (from above), with leg parallel to the ground, tap your right knee to your right elbow. Return to plank, then to pike, then tap left knee to left elbow.

Set 4

  1. Hip Bridge
    Laying on the ground, legs bent with knees up, push your heels as close as possible to your butt. Using your glutes, lift your hips squeezing the whole way.
  2. Calf raise
    Begin with your feet flat, lift to tip toes. Lift and lower.
  3. Chest fly
    Lay on the ground on your back, with weights in hand extended arms out and in at 90 degrees from your body.
  4. Skull Crushers
    With arms overhead, keeping the upper arm in place, lower the forearms to 90 degrees with weight hovering over your forehead, lift back up to straight arms, extending to pinch in the triceps.

 

 

Lower Body Burn Out

As promised I am coming at ya with a lower body burn for this week. We are doing the same set up as last week, 35 seconds active, 15 seconds hold, and 10 seconds to rest and set up. I hope you are ready to burn and SWEAT.

Grab mat, turn up your pump up music, get some dumbbells if your feeling brave. Lets GO!

The written breakdown:
Active move 35 seconds
Static hold 15 Seconds
Rest 10 seconds

Lunges

  1. Side Lunge Right
    Hold low
  2. Back Lunge Right
    Hold low
  3. Curtsey Lunge Right
    Hold low

REPEAT ON THE LEFT

Squats

  1. Duck Squat
    Hold low
  2. Standard Squat
    Hold low
  3. Pliet Squat
    Hold low

Pilates Legs

  1. Ceiling Stomp : Right
    Hold up
  2. Fire Hydrant : Right
    Hold up
  3. Elbow to Corner Tap : Right
    Hold corner

REPEAT ON LEFT

Glutes

  1. Hip Bridges
    Hold up
  2. Clam : Right
    Hold up
  3. Clam : Left
    Hold up

 

Upper Body Burn-out

FRIENDS! I know its been way. too. long. But, lets just forget about all that and jump right to it!

I am going to burn the crap out of your upper body, and its going to be so good! (You can thank me later.)

Grab a set of dumbbells, maybe even a few so you can make sure your challenging yourself. You will be hitting up your biceps, triceps, shoulders, back, and chest; 3 moves for each body part. For each move, you will actively perform the movement for 35 seconds, then for 15 seconds you will hold in a contracted position, then you will have 10 seconds to rest and get ready for the next move.

Put on your favorite playlist and get burning.

 

The written breakdown:
Active move 35 seconds
Static hold 15 Seconds
Rest 10 seconds

Biceps

  1. Regular curl (Hold 90)
    Weights in hand, elbows tucked close to sides, palms facing ceiling, slowly lift and quickly lower
    Hold with arms bent 90 degrees
  2. Hammer curl (hold 90)
    Weights in hand, elbows tucked close to sides, palms facing toward each other, slowly lift and quickly lower
    Hold with arms bent 90 degrees
  3. Palm down curl (hold 90)
    Weights in hand, elbows tucked close to sides, palms facing floor, slowly lift and quickly lower
    Hold with arms bent 90 degrees

Triceps

  1. Extension (hold extended)
    Stand with feet close together, slightly bend the knees, hinge forward at the waist. Bend arms to 90 degrees, palms facing each other, lift so upper arms are slightly higher than your back. Bring upper arm in towards shoulders, then extended back squeezing the tricep
    Hold with arms extended
  2. Straight arm extension (hold extended)
    Stand with feet close together, slightly bend the knees, hinge forward at the waist. With palms facing each other, extend arms out straight, , extended arms upwards squeezing the tricep
    Hold with arms extended
  3. Straight arm extension with palms up (hold extended)
    Stand with feet close together, slightly bend the knees, hinge forward at the waist. With palms facing the ceiling, extend arms upwards squeezing the tricep.
    Hold with arms extended

Shoulders

  1. Overhead press (hold 90)
    Standing with feet shoulder width apart, lift arms like a goal post, arms bent 90 degrees and upper arm parallel to the floor
    Hold goal post position
  2. Upright row (hold up)
    Standing with feet shoulder width apart, arms hanging with palms towards your body and weights touching, pull up with elbows always above wrists. Pull up slowly, lower quickly
    Hold with hand and elbows up
  3. Bent lateral raise (hold up)
    Standing with feet shoulder width apart, arms at sides and palms facing each other; bend arms 90 degrees, lift up with shoulders until forearms are parallel to the ground
    Hold with arms up

Back

  1. Bent over row (hold up)
    Stand with feet close together, slightly bend the knees, hinge forward at the waist. Extend arms in front, palms facing each other. Bend arms up and back using the back muscles to squeeze on the top
    Hold with back contracted and arms pulled up
  2. Reverse fly (hold out)
    Stand with feet close together, slightly bend the knees, hinge forward at the waist. Extend arms in front, palms facing each other. With arms straight, lift arms outward (like a bird)
    Hold with arms out
  3. Superman (hold up)
    Set weights aside. Lay on the ground on your stomach. Extend arms straight at your sides. Slowly lift and lower your upper body using your lower back.
    Hold with upper body up

Chest

  1. Chest fly (hold low)
    Lay on the ground on your back, with weights in hand extended arms out and in at 90 degrees from your body.
    Hold with hand low to the ground and chest stretching.
  2. Push up (hold low)
    In push up position (with or without knees on the ground) with your hands wider than your shoulders, slowly lower and lift your body using arms and chest.
    Hold with arms bent, and body low to the ground
  3. Standing butterfly press (hold in)
    Standing with feet shoulder width apart, lift arms like a goal post, arms bent 90 degrees and upper arm parallel to the floor, palms facing outward; slowly bring elbows together, squeezing the chest and rotating the weights until your palms are facing you
    Hold with elbows together and weights facing you, contracting the chest

 

Come on by next week and we will burn out that lower body!

An Invitation

Hey there friends. It is workout Wednesday. Yet here I am without a workout. I actually filmed one for you but I am still learning the camera and the lighting was kind of a mess, so I will try again next week.

I had planned on just skipping a Wednesday post entirely this week, but I was doing a little home workout and had an idea that I just couldn’t shake.

Of course it’s super vulnerable and totally scary. I guess that’s been the story of this blog so far, so I suppose I’ll just stick with it.

Here’s the thing, I have called this The Graceful Growing; I have talked about us going on a journey together, growing together, trying new things and navigate this process together, right? I was realizing though that as far as the fitness component of this growing, I have not invited you into the journey, like into the nitty gritty of it. Sure its pretty darn vulnerable to post videos of myself working out for the world to see, and that’s an invitation to move together. I have been pretty open about where I am coming from and some of my struggles, and that’s an invitation to be open with one another.  

But I  am feeling like there is more, and that maybe letting you in on the more will be a blessing for both of us.

See I am very much still on a journey here. In fact this past year has me feeling as though I am restarting entirely with fitness. I transitioned into a new job and a new town (without a gym membership) and totally let fitness hit the back burner (and dang it is incredible how quickly a year can go by). That started the vicious cycle of not working out →  not sleeping well → being too tired to work out. Oh and don’t forget the other one; not working out → feeling depressed → negative self talk “why bother to work out, you’re a quitter anyway / you won’t reach your goals /  all the Eeyore things.”

I am desperately wanting to step out off this merry-go-round friends. There was a time when I was so encouraged by the community that a fitness practice could bring. There was a time where I felt fired up about sharing that. There was a time when I felt so empowered by what my body could do and by the truth that I could work hard and achieve something I wanted. I want that back, all of that. Community, calling, empowerment. I think this idea might help me get there, and might help you reach your own goals if you decide you want to join me.

Remember when we talked personality a few weeks ago? I told you that I am an obliger, which means I am great at meeting external expectations, but not so great at meeting internal ones (hence no gym membership has been my undoing). The way, then, for me to meet inner expectations is to make them external, to ask for accountability. So here I am, straight up asking for it.

The idea is this; I want to tell you what my goals are, as raw as I can be, in writing on the blog where it cannot be taken back. I want to tell you all the ways I plan to reach those goals, and how I will be accountable to doing what I say. Would you be willing to hold me up? Would you mind cheering me on?

Here is the best and most important part though, if you would come along, we can get some of that community that got me excited about fitness in the first place. We may not be able to exercise together or meet up face to face to talk about how we are doing (gah I wish we could), but we can use this wonderful world of the internet to get a little closer. We can become a community seeking to reach our goals together. I’ll tell you my goals and plans, and if your goals look like mine, email me and do it with me! If your goals look a little different, email me what yours are and we can come up with something together and I will hold you up.

This will make more sense if I tell you what I am doing huh? This is what I am thinking for the next 30 days (Starting on Monday 😜) …

The goals:

  • Get back what this year has lost, specifically return to a place where I would be comfortable taking or leading a group fitness class
  • Lose weight
  • Work on bad eating habits
  • Love myself

The action plan:

  • Work out at 4-5 days a week (emphasize HIIT training to regain stamina)
  • Practice mindful eating and commit to exercising
  • Whole30 / Keto
  • Prayer, positivity, podcasts?

The accountability plan:

  • Instagram story / post workouts
  • A before and after post on the blog & weekly progress pictures and weigh ins (in a private group for people who want to join).
  • I will follow whole30 protocol and keep notes on how I am feeling to actually determine and pay attention to what works and what does not. I will share some of the highlights in the weekly weigh ins and in the final before and after.
  • I will share weekly positivity either of my own, or from others and actively prayer journal through this process (ideally daily but at least once a week)

 

I need to disclaimer real quick (I know this is a long post, thanks for bearing with me); I wrestled quite a bit with this idea, because I am very fearful of this being perceived wrongly or being a trigger for some of you out there. This is about more than just the way I (or you) look, it’s about reclaiming what makes me feel best, what helps me feel like my best self. For me at this time, that means reclaiming fitness and dropping some weight that depression and ignoring my body packed on. It’s not about putting attention on myself, but about inspiring others and practicing what I preach by asking for help because I need it. It’s not about shame or reaching what the world says is an “ideal body.” I say all that to beg you, if this is a trigger for you, please feel free to ignore these posts. And while we are at it, accountability is more than just having you keep me going toward what I want, I would love to hear from you if you think I need some balance here.

 

If you have questions or want to join me, send me an email over in the contact section. If enough of us want to do this together (remember it’s about being accountable to any goals, not just ones like mine) I will create a private group (probably on Facebook) for what we may not be ready to share with all of the social media world.
Will you take my hand? Can’t wait to hear your thoughts and to dive into this together.

Health and Fitness Resource Round-up

Hello again friends.

I am currently figuring out some technical details to improve our weekly workouts (thanks for having grace for that). You know I couldn’t leave you hanging in the mean time, so I am coming at you with a round up of some of my favorite fitness resources.

Form and basic movement:

  1. Bodybuilding.com
    This is a great place to find exercise ideas and demonstrations of basic moves. If you are ever working out at home, and are unsure of your form, this is a great place to go and double check. The best part is the side bar that allows you to select what body part you want to work, along with what equipment you have available to build a great routine on your own. I have linked specifically to the “exercise finder” but there are tons of resources available here, such as lifting plans, meal plans, and exercise videos.
  2. Fitness blender
    Another helpful round-up of individual movements. Like Bodybuilding, this site also includes other helpful resources like workout videos, plans, recipes and more.

 

Fitness blogs:

These are a few of my go to blogs. Most of these include a little bit of everything, exercise, recipes, motivation, information etc.

  1. Pumps & Iron
    I talk about this one often. I think this lady is amazing and I love just about everything she does. You can find work out based on structure, equipment, and target area. Nicole offers a great variety of workouts to do from home, or in the gym.
  2. Popsugar Fitness
    If you have ever wanted to try one of the latest fitness trends but don’t want to commit to a boutique gym before you know you like it, chances are you can find a video and give it a whirl over at Popsugar. They have all kinds of work out videos from popular trainers and many other resources like health and fitness related articles, recipes, blog posts and more.
  3. Yoga with Adriene
    I will confess, yoga is not my jam, but I am sure some of you find it to be just the jam you want. Whenever the mood hits me, I head straight for Adriene’s page. She is easy to follow and great for beginners or pros alike.

 

Apps:

  1. Nike Training Club
    friends, this one is a must! FULL of workouts you can do from your phone wherever you are with whatever you have. Get. It!
  2. Interval Timer
    I am sure there are plenty of fancier interval timers out there, but this one gets the job done for me. If you ever want to create your own timed workout, this has everything you need.
  3. My Fitness Pal
    If you are looking for a way to pay more attention to what you are eating (in a way that is healthy for both your body and MIND of course) this app is what you need.

 

Food/motivation/encouragement:

  1. Andie Mitchell 
    Andie wrote a beautiful memoir telling of her weight loss journey, which is a sweet reminder that while health is important, loving yourself is as well. She is full of grace and kindness and balance. Oh, and her food just looks so darn tasty.
  2. Food Faith Fitness
    so much yum. I love how easy FFF makes it to find recipes based on your dietary needs and how she easily turns not so healthy favorites into better for you goodness. Mmm
  3. Mind Body Musings Podcast
    This is more for mental health, and though there are a few podcasts I love along this vein, so as not to overwhelm you, I’ll start with this one. Maddy was a former fitness competitor who realized how destructive that world and mentality was for her. Her early episodes focused strongly on body positivity and her current work has grown to include a wider array of holistic wellness topics. I discovered her early on in my fitness journey and I am so glad I did. As an all or nothing person, she offered a balance I really needed.

 

I could keep going and going, but I will leave it at this for today. What are some other health and fitness resources you love?

 

Total Body Circuit

Hey there.

For your weekly workout we have a total body circuit. You will complete 2 sets of 5 moves resting a full minute between sets. At the end take another full minute rest and repeat the full workout for a total of 20 minutes.

Go ahead and grab your mat and some dumbbells. Blast your best work out tunes and let’s do it!

You can do your own warm up and then follow along with the video
OR
use an interval timer, like this one (which is set for this workout with a one minute warm up and cool down to do on your own), and follow along with the infographic .

(In the video, by 4 moves I of course mean 5 😝)

Let me give you some detail:

Set 1

  1. Lunge 5’s right:
    With your right leg forward, perform 5 full lunges, lower into your lunge and pulse for 5, then hold low for 5 seconds. Make sure the weight on your front leg is in the heel and your back knee is in line with your hips and shoulders.
  2. Lunge 5’s left:
    As above, with left leg forward
  3. Side curl to overhead press
    With elbows close to your sides and arms out sideways with palms facing up, curl up. twist your wrists so that your palms are facing forward and press overhead. 
  4. Reverse fly to straight-arm kickback
    Lean forward with a soft bend in the knees, sticking your butt out, arms hanging forward in line with chest, palms facing each other. Fly arms outward, squeezing the upper back. Return to starting position (arms hanging) with elbows locked, lift arms straight back keeping close to your body and squeezing the triceps on the top.
  5. Cross Jacks
    Perform a standard jumping jack, crossing feet and arms.

Set 2

  1.  Glute bridges
    Laying on the ground, legs bent with knees up, push your heels as close as possible to your butt. Using your glutes, lift your hips squeezing the whole way.
  2. Chest fly’s
    On the ground with weights in hand, lift arms overhead with wrists in line with elbows. Slowly lower your arms straight out to the ground feeling the stretch in your outer chest (armpit area) return to start squeezing the chest together at the top.
  3. Bicycle crunch
    On the ground with hands behind your head and elbows extended out, knees up and feet of the ground, reach alternating elbow to opposite knee as if you are riding a bicycle.
  4. Plank pike with alternating tap:
    Starting in plank position, push your hips up into downward dog, as your return to plank, with leg parallel to the ground, tap your right knee to your right elbow. Return to plank, then to pike, then tap left knee to left elbow.
  5. Mountain climbers
    In plank position, jog knee to chest.

total body circuit1