10 Ways To Feel Better About That Post-Holiday Winter Schlump

The winter blues.

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Anyone else suffer?

It’s cold & dark & wet & gross outside and the darkness arrives super early, at like 4:45 in the dang afternoon for goodness sakes. Since you can’t spend as much time outside, then the vitamin D deficiency arrives and along with that – the schlump.

That post-Holiday winter schlump.

It’s a real thing, ya’ll. Technically called S.A.D., or “Seasonal Affective Disorder”. But, “the schlumps” works just fine, too.

I tend to start feeling rather blah towards the start of the new year – sometimes it sneaks up on me extra early though. As the impending winter looms ahead of me I start to feel incredibly restless & bored, yet also lethargic.

So. In an effort to not let these feelings get me down this winter, I will be making a little list of things that can help you (and me) out with those blasted winter SADs.

1. EXERCISE, EXERCISE, EXERCISE. AND THEN EXERCISE SOME MORE.

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Getting moving is the number ONE thing that I can do that will easily improve my mood and drive. Whether it’s on the treadmill in my basement or going to an actual gym or even just doing a fitness routine online in the living room – SOMETHING can always be done. Exercise boosts your endorphins + makes you feel (AND LOOK) much better. Summer bodies are made in the winter, everyone! Getting on that treadmill and getting my heart rate up with some fast-paced music blasting on the headphones is a sure-fire way to boost up my mental state.

2. DON’T EAT HORRIBLY PROCESSED CARB-FILLED GROSS FOODS.

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I have to remind myself of this on the REGULAR. For goodness sakes Ashley, EAT SOME VEGETABLES. PUT DOWN THE DOVE CHOCOLATE AND EAT AN APPLE. Eating clean, fresh foods will make your body feel 100x better. I promise. I am in the process of cleaning out my pantry and fridge of all the excess holiday junk right now in preparation.

3. DRINK UP. WATER. WATER. WATER.

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This goes along with above. Drinking enough water for your body is essential! It keeps you from snacking on junky foods + regulates everything in your body + keeps bloat at bay + a billion other reasons. Cardinal rule: whatever your body weight is, cut that number in half and whatever that number is, is how many OUNCES of water you should be drinking per day. 

4. GET A HOBBY!

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Yep. Tackle something that you’ve been wanting to try or do!

Needing to clean out that storage closet? Do it!

Been putting off making all those doctor/dentist/whatever appointments? Call now.

Join that weird book club at the library!

Join that exercise group at the gym!

Been wanting to learn how to knit? Cross stitch? Now’s the time! Michael’s is right down the street!

Have a pile of books you’ve been meaning to read? Hello. It’s time.

Switch things up and get a new haircut – and then work on a new look/style! Make-up, hair, whatever!

Want to write a book or something? Sure, why not?!

Whatever it is – do it. Keeping your mind busy and active is a great way to fight off anxiety/restlessness/boredom.

5. LIGHT SOME SUMMERY SMELLING CANDLES.

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It may sound dumb, but it works for me. Maybe it’s snowing or raining or just 30 degrees outside – but if I’m burning a “Luau Party” Yankee Candle… It makes me feel better about the coldness outside.

Along with this…

6. CLEAN AND ORGANIZE YOUR SPACE.

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Whatever your space may be. A house, an apartment, a room. Get it cleaned up and organized. Throw out all the excess trash and junk that you don’t need or use and with those fruity candles lit – you’ll feel great. There’s nothing like relaxing in a clean & organized environment, in my opinion. Ideally, I like my house to look like no one actually lives there. I am straight up allergic to clutter. I LOVE CLEAN SURFACES. I don’t want A SINGLE THING ON MY COUNTER TOPS OR TABLES. If it’s in my way – I throw it out, or stick it back where it belongs. Drives Joe crazy but it keeps me sane.

Joe showed me this video a while back because he swears that this is me to a T on a regular basis. Not even just when we are expecting company.

I had to laugh hysterically because he is so RIGHT. Not even embarrassed about it.

7. PLAN A VACAY.

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Even if it’s just somewhere local! Thinking about taking a trip somewhere can seriously boost your mood. It could be winter outside but if I’m thinking about and planning that beach week in June – this pleases me.

8. PLAN A SMALL OUTING, EVEN!

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Even planning something small with friends that get you out of the house is a great idea! Meet some friends for coffee! Try out a new restaurant – maybe even a super nice one where you get to get all dressed up and fancy. Plan a trip to visit some museums. Plan a weekend at a hotel in another nearby city that you haven’t been to and explore! Hey – take a freezing walk outside, even – that’s fun too!

9. FILL YOUR SPACE WITH FRESH FLOWERS!

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Hey – if you can’t have spring outside, bring it to the inside! Fill your living space with fresh-smelling, bright and colorful buds that make your home feel like a spring oasis.

10. BLAST THAT SUMMER PLAYLIST.

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Pump the beats. No, really.

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Whatever it is that you like, blow it out. T-Swift, T-Pain, Barry Manilow – I don’t know your life.

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 Guaranteed to get you up and in a good mood.

So! These are a few things that I’m personally going to be keeping in mind this winter as some ways to keep out of the winter schlump-grumps.

Anyone have any other ideas? Open to them all! 🙂

xx Ashley

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Ugly Christmas Sweater Run!

This past Saturday a few friends and I ran a local Ugly Sweater 5K run at the National Harbor!

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It was Joe & I, my friend Lindsay and her Fiancé Fred, and Joe had a friend from work come out as well. It was fun to get together and be weird and also get some exercise in at the same time.

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Joe purchased a green felt sweater vest with reindeer on it for me the first Christmas after we were married, about 6 years ago. I’ve never had an occasion to actually wear it, until now. 

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(We ran the race last year too, but I misplaced the vest during our move so I was unable to wear it last year.)

It was actually an absolutely gorgeous day, in the low 70s! Perfect for a run! Last year was drizzling rain and freezing, so this year was a definite improvement.

So here are some pictures!

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Fred is evidently not a fan of pictures.

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Lindsay and I are.

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We ended up hitting some traffic getting into the race to park, so we got there a few minutes late, but the line for the starting line was so long that it didn’t really even matter! There were a ton of people there.

And there were these three girls who totally cut us in line because they didn’t want to walk to the back like everyone else was. They looked to the back of the line and I heard them say, “Oh, there’s the back of the line. But let’s just cut in here, I don’t feel like waiting that long”…

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. Then they proceeded to take pictures with a selfie stick. They were also wearing leggings as pants. Regular leggings. Not like, opaque running leggings. (Everyone who knows me, knows how I feel about that. But that’s a story for another day.)

So I made it my mission in life to beat them to the finish line.

And did I, you ask?

Psh. Obviously.

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With time to spare.

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All finished, now I can go eat lunch.

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Couldn’t forget to take some pictures in front of the ginormous Christmas tree.

There are stops at every mile marker and they hand out hot chocolate instead of water or Gatorade. Which is cute, but if you really need water you should carry it yourself, haha. (They have water for you at the end, though.) Unfortunately it wasn’t very good hot chocolate. Made with water and dark chocolate or something, it was pretty gross. But the cuteness factor was high. There were old-fashioned carolers! Also, Santa was there. 🙂

The race is always a lot of fun and interestingly enough – although it’s supposed to be 3.1 miles, Lindsay used her GPS on her phone and it tracked only 2.67 miles. Which, stupid. It did seem a little short while we were running it, so who knows.

But, either way, if there is one in your area next year, I highly recommend it. Great way to get into the Holiday spirit, have some fun with some friends and get some exercise in all at the same time. Great for families, totally stroller friendly and walking friendly (if you don’t want to run). There was actually even someone pushing another person in a wheelchair – that was a first! Plus you get a pretty sweet hat.

xx Ashley

Fitness Friday Halloween Style

Happy Halloween (tomorrow)! Today we have a fresh Halloween workout courtesy of the ladies from Toneitup.com!

Before you get started – set the mood with this music:

Just do it. Press play. Perfect workout playlist.

Whatever you do, don’t play the song below, though. Still creeps me out to this day.

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Or do, I don’t know your life:

Then complete the following moves 3x through:

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Next, pat yourself on the back for a job well done and then get yourself a big ole bowl of Halloween candy. Why?

Because:

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THAT’S WHY.

Fitness Friday Workout + Playlist!

Hey guys! Wanted to share the awesome workout I did yesterday from Toneitup.com’s Fit for Fall Challenge!

First up: This Kettlebell Workout! (If you don’t have a kettlebell, you can totally just use a single heavy dumbbell. I’ve been using a 10 lb dumbbell until I can grab a kettlebell from the store!) This workout really works out your shoulders, arms & upper back + mixes in a bit of cardio at the same time! I can seriously tell a difference in my shoulders and upper back (especially) from these kettlebell workouts. This one is only 20 minutes! Love them!

Next up: Total Body Sculpt!

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(Make sure you are doing your 1 minute of cardio in-between each move! I switched it up by doing high knees the 1st round, jumping jacks the 2nd round & then jump squats during the 3rd round! Quick and fast way to work up a good sweat!)

Also, I thought I would include a short playlist to get you pumped up for your workout – some of my recent favorites are listed below!

  1. Second Wind – Kelly Clarkson
  2. Honey, I’m Good. – Andy Grammer
  3. On My Mind – Ellie Goulding
  4. Single For The Summer – Sam Hunt
  5. Something Big – Shawn Mendes
  6. Elastic Heart – Sia
  7. Bad Blood – Taylor Swift
  8. Animals – Maroon 5
  9. Both Of Us – B.o.B ft. Taylor Swift
  10. Go To Hell – Go Radio
  11. I Won’t Lie – Go Radio
  12. Dizzy – Jimmy Eat World (My favorite song in the history of ever)
  13. Power – Kanye West

Have a great weekend!

Fitness Friday + Lindsay’s Story

TGIF, Ya’ll!

Still going strong with the Tone it Up Fit For Fall challenge over here! It is still challenging me and what I really love about it is the way it makes me switch up my routine – rather than just running every day. I’m never bored with the workouts + the added strength training has already done wonders. It’s been preeeetty awesome so far.

Thought I would share with you one of my favorite HIIT workouts so far from the challenge if you wanted to switch it up along with me!

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(Not too strenuous but still gets your heart rate up big time – in a very short amount of time. 30 minutes is quick & easy for a great calorie burn!)

So today for Fitness Friday we have a guest author – my good friend Lindsay. (Yes, the one who told me to practice my hurdles. 😉 )

Lindsay will be talking a bit about her fitness journey and where she is at currently with her fitness goals.

[Sidebar: Although Lindsay has been working with the Beach Body 21 day fix – I have not tried this system. I have found other things that work for me personally – myfitnesspal, TIU, running, etc – that I personally prefer. So I cannot comment on this method myself. But the whole point of this Fitness Friday segment is to show that there are many ways of staying fit & active and everyone has their own preference! As I mentioned before – I want the Fitness Friday segments to be a safe place where everyone can share what works best for them!]

Here is Lindsay’s story:


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So here’s the deal. I am fat. I have been fat roughly 80 percent of my adult life. To be honest, I have never hated my body, or had some gross ideal that I thought I should fit. The 20 percent of the time that I’ve been in the healthier range has been for no other reason than I want overall better health for myself.

So, as you read this, keep in mind I am not doing this from the perspective of a size 26 aiming for a size 2.

I’m doing it as a former size 26 aiming for a healthy, happy life full of kids, and craziness, and the desire to keep up with all of that in addition to a career.

As most women do, I’ve gone up and down in weight most of my life. At my lowest in college, I hit 230 lbs. At my highest about two and a half years ago, I hit 360 lbs.

Yep. That happened!

Recently, I gained 75 of the 100 lbs. I lost two years ago back. I blame the happiness of my relationship and how easy Papa John made it to order far too many pizzas with far too many dessert options.

At the prodding of my good friend Mary, I signed up for Autumn Calabrese’s “21 Day Fix.” Now, I assumed I would add this to the ever-growing list of diets and lifestyle changes I tried, such as, but not limited to:

  • Weight Watchers (how I lost over 100 lbs.)
  • LA Weight Loss (lost over 80 lbs., as well as our deposit once they went under without telling anyone – YES CORPORATE AMERICA)
  • Slim Fast
  • Crossfit programs
  • Atkins
  • South Beach
  • Expensive thermogenics like Oxy Elite Pro that made me feel super energetic but also super nauseous – I’ve never felt so ecstatic about vomiting before …
  • Not eating as much bad for you stuff but still eating a good chunk of it because it was delicious and made me feel better about sucking at losing weight
  • Giving up and eating everything I’ve ever deemed delicious … then repeating at Weight Watchers

As you can see, it’s a pretty extensive list. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. Probably more than once. Or twice.

Aw hell, it’s been an experience.

But when Mary sent me all the stuff from the Fix, one of Beachbody’s most rounded programs (in my opinion), I was pleasantly surprised.

The Gist:

You get a few things in the 21 Day Fix Challenge Pack (what most people purchase when they begin). You get:

  • Portion controlled, colored containers
  • The nutrition guide and meal plan
  • 21 Day Fix DVD workout series (to include 10 minute ab blast)
  • An additional DVD with the plyo workout series
  • A 30-day free trial of the Beachbody streaming workout service, where you can also do P90X, T25, etc. if you so choose
  • A bag of Shakeology in one of a few flavors: chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, greenberry or vegan chocolate/vanilla

When you get all of it, it can come across as pretty intimidating, especially for a fat girl who hasn’t done much physically since her football team didn’t come out and she ran her last half marathon over a year ago. But the thing I love about it is that it’s not even remotely a hard thing to do.

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It can be a process at first, but I’ve found the more I do this, the easier it gets.

The containers correspond to certain food groups, for example, green is veggies (easy enough to remember), red is proteins (like red meat, HA, I see what you did there Ms. Calabrese), so on and so forth. Based on your current weight and a simple mathematical equation, you figure out how many of these containers you get per day. For example, I get six red, six green, four purple, four yellow, one blue, and one orange.

Certain foods correspond to each, and you can use them to create recipes that fit into the fix program.

Easily, the most doting part of this is the food prep. The program really encourages food prep to make the rest of the week easy. But the struggle is taking part of football Sunday to chop up veggies, cook meats, and set foods and snacks aside.

No, the most doting is not even the exercising. I mean, minus the entire physical exertion thing …

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I get really red and I sweat a lot. It is a very odd feeling to love/hate something so much.

Truthfully, the great thing about the program is that the DVDs are geared toward all fitness types. You can modify if something is too difficult or hurts joints (Kat is the woman who does the modifications, and you best believe she and I were besties for the first two weeks of my first round …), and you can amp up the difficulty if stuff is getting too easy. Shout out to Beachbody for thinking that out – no one is going to touch exercises that feel unachievable.

Now, Autumn is your stereotypical video trainer in that she only does about 10 percent of the workouts (and talks for the other 90 percent about what everyone else in the video is doing), however, she’s not so annoying or petty that I can’t handle hearing her voice every day of the week.

There’s a great app for iOS that Beachbody developed that allows you to take down all your measurements, both before and after, and is super user-friendly. It allows you to put your weight and such in too, to help you figure out how much of each container to eat for the day. It was my saving grace.

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Let’s ignore the fact that my hips magically gained 2.5 inches even though I lost everywhere else. You can’t hide there, fat! I’ll get to you!

Pros:

Things that are awesome:

  • It’s not unrealistic or extreme. It’s good diet and constant exercise with supplements.
  • Anyone can do it.
  • There’s a lot of support in challenge groups, with coaches, etc. and it’s all online so there aren’t any meetings to worry about.
  • The foods for it can be purchased anywhere from Wal-Mart to Wegman’s.
  • Workouts are achievable and only 30 minutes a day.

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Upper fix is easily one of my favorite days – pushups and planks for days!

Cons:

Some items that are less than desirable:

  • To get started, it’s a bit on the pricey side. Challenge packs start at $160 prior to shipping.
  • Shakeology on its own is $130, and it automatically renews on a monthly basis until you tell it to stop.
  • You have to do some trial and error with the shakes to figure out what you enjoy best.

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My two go-tos are chocolate, banana, and PB2 (a powdered peanut butter) and cold coffee with the chocolate (it makes it like a mocha Frappuccino)!

Overall rating:

Truth be told, out of all the health programs I’ve done, this is top two. I’m not sure if I would place it higher than Weight Watchers, but they’re in a pretty dead heat.

The money part sucks, truthfully, but the way I see it the money I spend on that is money I am not spending on awful food or alcohol. And by awful I mean delicious, but awful-for-you … 😉

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It may not look like much, but after round one it was a loss of 9.1 lbs. and 9.25 inches! If you are having a hard time telling, look at how the pants fit. That’s how I could tell!

So take it from the former size 26 … it’s worth it! Next Monday starts round two – with fiancé in tow! 


I think we all can agree that maintaining an active lifestyle can be hard to juggle with all the other things we have to deal with in life – work, family, relationships, children, etc etc. To me, making fitness a priority has made me a better wife, mom & friend – because I’m just plain happier when I’m happy with how I feel about myself. (Plus, the body image issues that women struggle with in our society are frightening! As a mother to a daughter in particular… I find that it is especially important to give her a good example of what a healthy & active lifestyle should look like.) So overall, maintaining that active lifestyle is worth it to me in the long run!

…Even if your jacket & pants don’t match and you end up looking like a hood rat to your kids school drop off.

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 (Actually TBH I skipped yoga that day. But I jogged later. So. You caught me. I just looked like this for no reason whatsoever. #thatmomlife)

Hope you have an awesome weekend.

xx Ash

Fitness Friday + Favorite Workout Gear

Hey everyone, it is Fitness Friday once again here at Actually-Ashley! How was your week?
This week was week 2 of the TIU Fit for Fall challenge; I am actually finding that these workouts are getting a bit easier already! (Perhaps I will have to up my intensity…) I can seriously feel my body getting much stronger and leaner already – can’t wait to see how I feel at the end of week 8! It’s not too late to join in! Check it out here!

So today I will be sharing some of my favorite workout gear that I own & use. We all know that we feel better and are more motivated to get that exercise in when we are wearing cute activewear – at least I do!

Work out Favs

I’ve tried many many different brands of workout pants/leggings – Old Navy makes the best (at the best price point), in my opinion. I used to wear Victoria Secret yoga crop leggings but they don’t exactly mix well with sweat. Old Navy’s compression leggings are the moisture wicking Go-Dry material – makes all the difference. Trust me. They fit awesome, don’t stretch out weirdly or ride up, and wash really well. Plus, they come in a plethora of different colors & patterns. They come in a cropped version (here!); or a full length version (here!) Can’t beat it at the $28 (or less) price tag, either!

To add onto that, Old Navy also carries great Go-Dry tanks with the same moisture wicking material. I only wear Go-Dry tanks when working out or running – they keep you from feeling quite so… gross. Haha. Again, they come in a variety of colors that you can mix & match with the leggings. (Click here!) Just top the tank off with a cute half-zip Go-Dry pullover in the cooler weather and boom! Lookin’ good! (Half-Zip)

When it’s rainy/cold/just don’t feel comfortable with anything jiggling – I like to add my North Face Venture Jacket. It’s a rain jacket that really does a great job at repelling the water + is surprisingly very warm. Incredibly lightweight as well – which means it’s easily packable. Can be worn any other time in the rain as well, obviously. 🙂

Every runner has their favorite brand/type of running shoe – mine happens to be the Nike Free Run 5.0. I’ve worn them since 2011 exclusively. They are light as a feather, mold perfectly to your feet and are sooooooo comfortable. They seriously feel like wearing slippers sometimes – that is how legit comfy they are. They come in a ton of colors and I upgrade mine probably around once a year-ish. Even if you’re not actually running – these are so comfortable (& still cute!) that you can wear them out and about as a normal shoe. ++ As far as good running shoes go, $100 isn’t too bad.

As far as accessories go – I like to pull my hair back with Sweaty Bands. (The 2-pack will run you $28) The inside of the band is velvet – they do not slip during your workout. Not at all. They come in many different patterns and colors – I have the cheetah, silver glitter & black glitter. They are a bit cuter than your average workout headband but still do a great job at staying put & keeping those stray hairs out of your face.

I like to wear a baseball cap when I run outside too, partially to keep the sun out of my eyes – and partially to hide my face so I feel like I’m invisible to everyone around me outside, LOL. (I also feel like when I run with a hat on I can focus better on my run because I feel like no one can see me. Weird, I know. Just roll with it.) I use a standard Vineyard Vines hat – just because that’s what I happen to have on hand. These are obviously a bit more expensive because of the brand-name at $28; any old ballcap will do, though!

Of course, every workout needs some jams courtesy of an iPod/Iphone (Discman? Maybe? You still out there? Worth a shot!) + earbuds.

[Sidebar: What is with the people who run outside, listening to nothing? How do you do it?? The music distracts me from hating my life when I get too tired – so how are you just running with nature? Are you just that relaxed & zen? I can’t do it! haha.]

And last but not least, of course you want to be pairing your runs + workouts with water. I like the Eddy water bottle by Camelbak – it doesn’t drip or spill and has a convenient hook on the top so you can carry it around easily. I use them, Joe uses them – even little S has a few!

Have a great weekend!

Fitness + Friday

7680dac5984e6568fe926f31fdf8bf82 Am i right?

Dun Da Da Daaaaaa… Fitness Friday ya’ll! So. Let’s take a journey back to my youth. Back to when it was possible to eat a footlong Quiznos sub PLUS chips PLUS soda PLUS PLUS cookies – and not gain 13 pounds immediately. Remember those days? They were awesome. Unfortunately, as we get older our metabolisms aren’t *quite* what they used to be, yes? What to do about that? Oh yes. Exercise! (Also not shoveling in AS MUCH processed junk. As much.) In college I tried to exercise as often as i could, but i was also juggling work and school so it wasn’t a huge priority in my life at that point.

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When Joe (Oh yes, that’s my darling husband, love of my life – insert heart emoji here) and I first got married, my exercise routine pretty much fell to the wayside. You see, Joe could eat pretty much anything and that was fine for him because – hello military – he had PT every morning and worked off all the pasta, steak and ice cream cake we consumed on a nightly basis. I however, didn’t! I QUICKLY learned that i needed to get my rear in gear on the fitness aspect of my life. Hence, regular exercise and a moderately clean diet ensues. Voila. You’re welcome.

(GET TO THE POINT, ASHLEY.) ah yes. So basically I want to make these fitness posts a safe place where I (and hopefully you!) can share our experiences with a healthy lifestyle.

So to kick it off – Running! 5084024cf9c1298bd5028c030949217a I’ve only been running for about 4 years now – i started after S was born. I enjoy running the most out of all the exercises because of the sense of accomplishment i feel after i’m done. Ellipticals are cool, swimming is…eh, but there is nothing like that runners high. I try to get at least 4-5 runs in a week; sometimes more, sometimes less. I also attend hot yoga classes at a local studio – total game changer you guys. The room is usually set to 98-102 degrees (it really doesn’t feel too hot though) and then – you guessed it – YOGA. In all seriousness, hot yoga paired with running is like peanut butter & jelly. Peanut butter & chocolate. Tuna & cheese pretzels (just me?). Your body can get all kinds of wonky and uptight from running but the stretching from yoga plus the heat of the room creates the most relaxing atmosphere EVA. Plus you obviously work up a good sweat while doing so.

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Another thing i like to incorporate are workouts from Toneitup.com. I just recently got tuned into this site and i have to say that i love it. Monday started the “Fit for Fall” 8 week challenge and so far it’s been challenging but rewarding. Every day there is a new and different workout – running, strength training, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts, etc etc. Every morning you start out with a “Bootycall” workout – some cardio to get your heart rate up and going. At night, there is usually a small strength training session. The best part is, your running sessions count as dolla dolla bills for charity! During this challenge, by “checking in” on your social media accounts, the ToneItUp ladies will choose various people who have been participating and will donate (if chosen) $200 to the charity of your choice! How cool is that? So not only are you getting your exercise in but helping others at the same time? Why not right? Want to join me? Check out the fall challenge here!

This week was a mixture of the running/yoga/HIIT. The running = easy peasy no problem. Yoga = same. The HIIT? Goodness Gracious. It’s definitely doable but HELLO i was sweating, heavy breathing, red faced – the whole shebang.

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Next week i will be checking in again with my weekly stats – feel free to comment with yours as well! What’s your favorite way to get moving? Let me know in the comments!