Fitness

The Fab Five: December 2013

The Fab Five: December 2013 4

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For this month’s installment of the Fab Five, I’ll be featuring all my favorite goodies from my recent trip to Australia. Southern-hemisphere dwellers, you’re in luck! (Although you probably discovered these gems long before I did.) As for those of you up here with me? Let’s hope you don’t mind spending a small fortune on shipping….

1. Drinking Custard

drinking custardI was completely crestfallen upon learning that drinking custard isn’t actually something you drink. (While I couldn’t find a photo online, I swear the label actually reads “Drinking Custard”. Back me up, Aussie friends?)

In contrary, this delicious sauce is intended to be poured over pies, crumbles, fruit, and if you’re me, pancakes. Think of it as a far superior alternative to cool whip. It is decadent, flavorful, and in my opinion, totally worthy of drinking on its own. (In secret, of course.)

I still can’t get over the fact that we don’t have this in the states. Surely, it would be an instant, pourable sensation! While I’m assuming it’s nearly impossible to ship, I did manage to find a super simple recipe if you want to whip up your own batch at home. Think  of it as my Christmas gift to you.

 

2. Lorna Jane

lorna jane

Think Lululemon, only….less douchey? Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Lulu…but I think we can all admit that founder and former CEO Chip Wilson is kind of a jackhole. In contrast, Lorna Jane Clarkson–the founder of this Australian activewear brand–is an incredibly positive role model on multiple levels.  The brand has a truly positive message–Move, Nourish, Believe–that feels legitimately empowering and genuine. As far as the clothing goes, the price and quality is right on par with Lululemon. I actually prefer Lorna’s stuff as they tend to embrace more color and pattern. (Those floral mania pants have my name written all over them. Also on my list? The 2014 Move Nourish Believe Journal.)

The good news? LJ has recently expanded to the United States! While they currently only have stores in California, you can shop till your blue in the face on their website. Did I mention the free site-wide shipping? Yes, please!

 

3. Weis Bars

weis bar

I discovered this tasty little treat on a hot day in Surfer’s Paradise. And it was heaven. (If heaven tasted like mangoes, vanilla ice cream, and macadamia nuts, that is.) These ice cream bars are made in Queensland with love — and real fruit! Surprisingly, they also aren’t too much of a splurge in the calorie department.

Obviously, shipping these frozen nuggets of delight to the states is out of the question, (unless you’re, like, Oprah or something), but I plan on recreating them at home with a scoop of mango sorbet, splash of cream, and tablespoon of chopped up mac nuts. (Sorry…that’s the best I can do.)

 

4. Bonds

bondsundies

Bonds. Bonds! How did I survive twenty-nine years without Bonds?

I learned about Bonds thanks to our Contiki tour guide, Carolyn. She informed us that all the ladies and gents in Oz swear by this Australian brand of underwear. “They are the most comfortable things you will ever invest in,” she claimed.

Turns out, Carolyn was right. I’ve since fallen madly in love with Bonds for the following three reasons:

  1. They ship to the U.S. Easy, peasy.
  2. By signing up for their free rewards program, you get twenty percent off every single thing you buy for, like, ever!
  3. They make granny panties suitable for someone under the age of 30. (And yes…I love me some granny panties.)

 

5. Dual Flush Toilets

dual flush toilet

I know, I know. Dual flush toilets exist in America. But they were absolutely everywhere in Australia. During my fifteen days down under, I don’t think I came across a single toilet that wasn’t dual flush. Congratulations, Australia — you have outdone us with your eco-friendly ways again!

Seriously, though. Think about how much water we Yankees waste every single day using a single flush commode. It’s kind of really insane. Let’s face it —  America needs more dual flush toilets. There. I’ve solved at least half of our nation’s problems!

While I have little control over the governments toilet mandates, I am able to made a difference at home. And Australia  has inspired me to jump on the dual flush bandwagon and never look back! Sure — there will be a bit of an up-front investment, but I’m hoping to save a bundle on  utilities in the future.  Particularly as I work from home — so I’m here flushing away all the live long day.

(Oh how I long for the days when our utility bills were lower as both Scott and I were at offices all day.)

(And yes. I realize that’s a really weird thing to think about.)

******

There you have it. My five favorite things from the land down under! Any Aussie treasures I left out? Of course, an honorable mention is given to my beloved runner-ups: Tim Tams and Harry’s meat pies. (Sorry guys. You just couldn’t compete with drinking custard.)

Psst! Want to check out Fab Fives of months gone past? Be my guest!

 

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My body is NOT a wonderland

My body is NOT a wonderland 3

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I’ve always been one of those girls who bruises easily. Add to this my affinity for bumping into things on a regular basis, and you have the walking antithesis of Mr. Mayer’s ode to Jennifer Love Hewitt circa 2002. Black, blue, scraped and scabby? That pretty much describes my lower half. (It’s also the reason I keep airbrush leg makeup in my cosmetics arsenal.)

So, while I’ve always been sporting banged up extremities, I’ve never had anything to blame it on, other than my own general sense of clumsiness.

Until now, that is.

CrossFit, I’m officially calling you out for roughing up my anatomy in the following 4 ways:

Bruises

bruises

And not just on my legs. There are bruises on my collar-bone and shoulders from doing power cleans with the bar. (Apparently that means you’re doing it right.)

Last week, there was also a distinct hematoma on the underside of my chin. It was attained while mistakenly whacking my face with the barbel on the upswing of a jerk press. (Apparently that means you’re not doing it right.)

 

2. Callouses

callouses

 

These are the result of gripping the bar with all my might, and just generally engaging in strength training badassery. This photo was snapped on a good day…often times these nubbins are larger, redder, and possibly oozing blood.

So much for my career as a hand model!

(And yes…I’ve had multiple people tell me I could be a hand model. Although perhaps that’s simply the polite way of saying “your face isn’t symmetrical and your legs are kind of stumpy.”)

 

3. Rope Burn

rope-burn

This raw piece of flesh on my ankle isn’t the only battle wound I acquired while climbing a ridiculously tall rope for the first time since third grade gym glass. My inner thighs–which were gripping that dang thing with all their might–have two dark, speckled bruises. To make matters worse, the discolorations are layered atop a collection of withered looking stretch marks left behind from late-night college pizza binges of yesteryear.

(Photo not included…for the sake of your retinas.)

 

4. Crack scab

Yes…it’s exactly what it sounds like. Although technically it’s more of an above-the-crack-below-the-lower-back-scab. I like to think of it as a fitness tramp-stamp…just less decorative and more scaly. It was earned by noble means — performing copious amounts of sit-ups on a hard floor without a single cushion.

Cushions are for wussies.

(Once again, photo not included for what I would hope are obvious reasons.)

*****

There you have it. The four ways CrossFit has made me look like I’ve engaged in a barfight. But is it worth it? Absolutely. CrossFit has challenged me in ways no other workout has, and while my body may be covered in battle wounds, it’s also seeing results I never thought were actually possible. (Also…the majority of the “owies” are from my own lack of skill and experience. The more I improve my form, the less disheveled I will look!) More importantly, CrossFit is fun. Really fun. It’s a community of wonderful people who feel more like family than gym acquaintances.

And let’s face it…my body wasn’t exactly a bruise-free wonderland before I started CrossFit. At least now I can explain that my banged up legs are from box jumps as opposed to drinking a bottle of wine and attempting to perform the Spice Girls ‘Wannabe’ music video dance routine at the bowling alley.

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Yoga Bombing

Yoga Bombing 2

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How to disrupt an uber serious hot yoga class in 15 easy steps:

1. Purchase a Groupon for twenty classes at a studio outside of Minneapolis. Sure, it’s 150 miles away, but you can use it every time you make a pilgrimage to the glorious, Costco-filled suburbs!

2. Make a pilgrimage to the glorious, Costco-filled suburbs and forget to bring workout clothes.

3. Stop by Marshall’s and pick up a super cheap sports bra and pair of booty shorts. Sure, it’s skimpy…but it’s twelve dollars cheaper than the more modest alternative. More fabric = more expensive!

4. Purchase a $9.99 yoga mat positioned strategically in front of the checkout area in order to avoid renting one from the studio.

5. Walk through the parking lot and into the studio completely barefoot, tracking in a significant amount of gravel in the process. (I wasn’t about to leave my fancy pair of TOMS in an unattended cubby hole for one of the yoga MILFs to steal while I was getting my zen on…)

6. Enter the yoga room at the last-minute possible, creating a very un-zen raucous while settling in a little too close between two disturbingly muscular grandmothers.

7. Realize you are the only person in the class who isn’t wearing long pants and a modest Midwestern tank top and start to self-consciously giggle. Loudly.

8. Unroll your brand new yoga mat, which takes a good thirty seconds and makes an incredibly annoying squeaky sound. Bonus? It has a potent “made in China” paint thinner smell that overwhelms the room and will probably give everyone cancer.

9.  Start sneezing uncontrollably as a result of the toxic yoga mat.

10. Knock over an entire bottle of Dasani during the first Vinyasa flow.

11. Blow your nose (loudly) into your towel out of sheer desperation.

12. Mistakenly smack your neighbor’s shoulder during tree pose.

13. Start sweating profusely onto the stinky, made in China yoga mat. For some reason beyond any explanation, excessive perspiration mixed with poisonous yoga mat fumes smells eerily similar to marijuana. Pretend not to notice as the disturbingly muscular grandmothers shoot you dirty looks. (Although you could swear the dude with the ponytail is winking at you.)

14. Slip during the balance poses, which results in a violent crash to the ground, splashing of sweat, and possibly a swear word that the instructor would describe as “full of negative energy”.

15. Almost back into one of the disturbingly muscular grandmothers on your way out of the parking lot.

*******

Namaste, Heat Yoga of Maple Grove. My sports bra and I will be back. (But only after we’ve adequately aired out our toxic Chinese yoga mat.)

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How to work out with your spouse

How to work out with your spouse 3

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Scott and I don’t exercise well together.

He tries to “motivate” me, which typically ends in me losing my temper and flailing my arms all up in his face. (This once happened at a charity 5K in front of all of his co-workers. Whoops.)

I demand constant praise and encouragement, while he rolls his eyes and says “Do you think I ever got a personal cheerleader when I was wrestling? I expect you to do your best without any recognition.”

In Seattle, we used to take a kickboxing class together. Two people were assigned to each punching bag, and Scott and I repeatedly made the mistake of being partners. There was one particular move where we would stand on one foot, while kicking the bag with the other foot as we hopped clockwise around the perimeter of the bag. The direction the instructor cued was crucial as you were sharing the bag with someone else. Scott, who made a point of sacrificing all form so that he could donkey kick the bag as violently as possible, never seemed to pay attention to which direction he was supposed to be hopping in. By the fourth time I was kicked in the abdomen, I realized this was never going to work.

I’ve worked as a fitness instructor for four years, but have yet to convince Scott to attend one of my classes. “I think you’d really annoy me,” he explains. While I’m sure he’s right–I can’t help but fantasize about how amusing it would be to witness him awkwardly booty-shaking his way through a Turbo Kick class. Or to get in his face and yell at him for not doing burpees correctly. Although I’m sure his burpees are flawless. (Eye roll.)

Clearly, we I have workout issues.

But lately, something strange has been happening.

Scott and I have been exercising together. And actually enjoying it. Never did I imagine such a thing to be possible!

If, like Scottrina, you have issues working on your fitness in tandem, not to worry! I’ve compiled a list of tips that have helped Scott and I go from exercise enemies to bicep curling bosom buddies.

 

1. Pretend you’re on a date.

In all reality, you are on a date. Getting your sweat on as a couple is a great way to spend time together, and increases your lovey-dovey pheromones. (Bow chika wow wow.)

But let’s imagine you’re on a dinner date. Would you try to outdo your partner’s outfit and then repeatedly ask them to tell you how hot you look? Would you order the same entrée and try to eat it faster than them? If they pointed out you had spaghetti sauce on your cheek would you lose your ‘ish and scream “All you ever do is criticize me!!!!!!

Of course not! (Hopefully.)

So, try to think of your workout as a dinner date. Focus on doing your best, but don’t demand constant compliments. Compete against yourself, not your spouse. And if they offer a helpful suggestion? Take it graciously as opposed to biting their head off.

 

2. Keep your distance.

Scott and I recently joined a Cross Fit gym, and love having the opportunity to workout together, while still maintaining some space. I’m free to dead lift in the corner with my girlfriends while we giggle about wanting a Kardashian booty. Scott can dead lift in the other corner while grunting violently and setting a new personal record. Having breathing room is key — something tells me if I were giggling to Scott about my Kardashian booty dreams while he was trying to get his lift on, things wouldn’t have gone as smoothly.

 

3. Exercise on neutral ground.

I remember the first time Scott and I decided to work out together. After a year of zero physical activity (aside from racing for a good spot in line for the cafeteria soft serve machine) I asked Scott to walk me through a basic weightlifting circuit. He brought me to his wrestling room and whooped my non-Kardashian booty. The workout ended with me falling flat on my face during squats, the bar landing on top of my neck. As soon as I realized I hadn’t broken my nose, I was overcome with feelings of humiliation and inadequacy. I was on Scott’s turf, and I had failed miserably.

While Scott has yet to come to one of my classes, I’m assuming the experience would be similar. I think there’s a marital rule somewhere that spouse’s should never become their partner’s boot camp instructor. It’s a recipe for passive-aggressive dictatorship in the form of jumping jacks.

Keep the workout neutral. Try something that’s new to both of you! You’ll be learning and growing together as opposed to engaging in a exercise-induced power struggle. (Or breaking your nose in the wrestling room.)

 

4. Don’t try to be the Bobbsey Twins

You’re workout doesn’t need to be identical — in fact, it probably shouldn’t be. For the past month and a half, Scott and I have spent every evening out on the lake together. He logs a mile of open-water swimming while I float alongside him on our standup paddle board. While I initially came along to keep him from dying, it’s now become a sunset ritual I look forward to. Never in a million years would I be able to swim that far in the lake, but I really enjoy coming along on the SUP. It’s a wonderful way to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors with Scott (and sometimes the dogs) while also getting a challenging core workout in.

 

5. Make it about YOU.

Your time at the gym should be for yourself, not your significant other. While exercising with each other is wonderful, it’s important to remember that you’re doing this because you enjoy it and want to better your health. I like to think of my workouts as a treat — I’m very fortunate to be healthy enough to engage in rigorous physical activity on a daily basis–a lot of people aren’t! It’s a fun way to clear my mind, detox my body, and improve my mood. It’s time out of the day that I dedicate to me.

Keeping this self-centered mentality has been vital. The minute I think of exercise as a way to impress or out-do Scott, the drama comes in. I get cranky. I whine when he doesn’t constantly shower me with compliments. I flail my arms and accuse him of calling me fat. (He’s never actually done this…but that doesn’t stop me from trying to yell at him for it.)

Katrina does not work out for Scott. Katrina works out for Katrina. (And for the all-powerful Kardashian booty. Obviously.)

 

********

There you have it. Five strategies I’ve used to peacefully workout with my husband. I’m curious — do you excercise with your significant other? Am I the only one that’s an uber-competitive jackhole when it comes to doing push ups alongside my spouse? I’d love to hear your tips, tricks, and of course, workout fight stories. Please tell me I’m not alone here…

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