Fitness Friday

Fitness Friday: For the Love of Movement

This post builds on Monday’s post, even though the warm spring weather that inspired that post headed south again (c’mon mother nature, would you make up your damn mind?).    If you read Monday’s post, you might be spending some time today contemplating whether your current fitness routine is serving you.  The following is a little something I came up with when I did the same:

Dear Movement (more formally known as exercise),

I have grown to love you.  What was once like an arranged marriage has become a complete and total union.  This was not always the case.  I used to should all over myself in regards to you.  Look to you to shrink me down, make me smaller.  I came to you out of guilt and fear as opposed to love.

Afraid of who I would become without you, I built a life around you.  Uncertain of the extent to which you made me a societally acceptable human female, it seemed plausible to do this just in case.   I obsessed over you for all the wrong reasons, not realizing your true potential as a tool for growth.

Through the passing of time and a buttload of experience I now see the truth: you are a gift to be enjoyed, not a force to be reckoned with.  When I hold on to you lightly, and not for dear life, your true colors emerge.  No longer am I the weary soul who used you solely as an outlet for calories.  No longer do I come to you to make my supposed wrongs right.  No longer will I slog it out on the freakin’ treadmill instead of rejoicing in dance just because it burns more calories (not that there is anything wrong with the treadmill, done with the right mindset it can be fun too!  Just not a personal favorite…)

Exercising out of guilt, fear, or shame sucks.  Moving for the love of it is where it’s at.

(And no, this isn’t just a severe case of personal trainer Stockholm syndrome…at least I don’t think so…)

The Joyful Gym Rat (more formally known as Laura)

For more fitness ideas head over to the Joyful Gym Rat page on Facebook!

Photo credit Mary Ellen Blacker (less formally known as mom)










Tasty Tuesday

Tasty Tuesday: Rockin’ Romaine Smoothie Bowl

One thing T and I have in common, besides our genes, is a love for green smoothies.  As a grown up I am flexible on acceptable smoothie colors.  T, however, is not.  Even when I try to conceal a purple smoothie in an opaque drinking receptacle he opens the top and calls me out on my mistake.  The smoothie bowl below is a twist on one of his favorites.  Instead of the usual spinach, I used romaine lettuce in a flurry of creative inspiration (just kidding, we were out of spinach and I didn’t feel like making a trip to the store…).  Truthfully the romaine pairs well with the sweeter ingredients and makes for a rather refreshing treat.  As a bonus, romaine happens to be a great detoxifier if you are in need of a little internal spring cleaning.

Rockin’ Romaine Smoothie Bowl


-1/2-1 cup (depending on how thick you like your bowl) unsweetened soy or other plant milk (I use West Soy organic unsweetened)

-1 teaspoon spirulina powder (optional but adds to the green hue and nutrition content)

-1 romaine heart, choppped

-1/2 banana (you can slice the other half for a yummy topping!)

-1 small handful frozen broccoli

-1 cup frozen mango

To make:

-Place all ingredients except romaine in blender (unless you have a Vitamix, then layer according to directions).

-Blend ingredients until smooth and add romaine.

-Blend again until romaine disappears.

-Serve in a bowl topped with berries, banana, granola, or whatever else your romaine heart desires!

For more plant based ideas head over to the Joyful Gym Rat page on Facebook!

Romaine….it’s not just for Caesar salads anymore…..
Mindfulness Monday

Mindfulness Monday: Serve Yourself

Buoyed by some beautiful weather this past weekend, I bring you another post about spring renewal.  Spring can be a great time for clearing out closets, and an even better time for clearing out the more abstract things in life.  Oftentimes we cling to rituals and habits that worked for us once with the expectation that they will work forever.  The problem is, as we constantly grow and evolve, our needs change.  What served us in the past may no longer be serving us today.

Just like you don’t throw out everything in your closet and start afresh every spring (unless you are me that one time I read “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up”….) you don’t need to do a complete overhaul of your lifestyle to replenish your routine.  Start by asking yourself the question “Does this serve me?”.  If it helps you to have some structure, you can do it Joyful Gym Rat style.  On Mindfulness Monday, look at your ways of managing stress.  On Tasty Tuesday, notice your habits in regards to nutrition.  On Fitness Friday, take note of your current fitness routine.  You can meditate on this question, journal about it, or discuss it with a friend.  Doesn’t this sound more interesting than scrubbing the baseboards?

For more ideas head over to the Joyful Gym Rat page on Facebook!

Sailing on the winds of change….before T decided crashing kites were funnier than flying ones….


Fitness Friday

Fitness Friday: What’s Your Rush?

As we head into the weekend, I invite you to slow down…your strength training that is.  Bursts of quick movement can be fun, but don’t underestimate the power of slow and controlled movement.

Just like meditating fosters awareness of thought, unhurried movement fosters awareness of the body.  Moving mindfully from time to time can have big benefits on overall progress and performance.  Constantly racing through workouts can lead to injury.  Mindlessly performed movements lose their potency.

I don’t always perform my workouts at the pace of a turtle, but when I do I choose the following:

-Slow Flow Yoga: Yoga, particularly slow flow vinyasa, is a great way to notice muscles (including ones you never knew you had).  To get the most benefit in regards to strength, find a class that incorporates lots of standing poses and weight bearing movements.

-Slow Motion Weight Lifting: Slowing down weight training puts the emphasis on mastery.  Try performing a pushup by pressing up for 4 counts then lowering down for 4 counts.  Instead of pausing at the top or bottom of the movement, keep the flow constant.

-Single Leg Balance: Single leg balance exercises strengthen the hip, knee, and ankle complex.  Standing on one leg is a great way to fire up the glutes, which tend to get sleepy from too much sitting.  Next time you get the urge to lunge, try coming to a balance instead of bringing the feet together in between repetitions.

For more fitness ideas head over to the Joyful Gym Rat page on Facebook!

Dee says slow and steady wins the race…..
Tasty Tuesday

Tasty Tuesday: Just Beet It

For the past several years I’ve been a big fan of beets.  In fact, beets were one of T’s first solid foods, which made for some messy but comical dinners at our house (see pic below).  Though T is in a no beet phase right now, my love for them is still growing strong.  So strong that I created this pretty-in-pink beet hummus last week to go with some tasty veggie burgers.  What’s so great about beets?  The nitrates in beets have proven to be performance enhancing, making beet root juice a popular beverage among competitive athletes.  More recent studies have shown simply eating beets prior to activity may have the same result.  Want to “beet” the competition?  Snack on this hummus prior to your next athletic event….


Beet Hummus


-1 15 oz can no salt added chickpeas, drained and rinsed

-2 medium sized beets, cooked (to skip the prep try Love Beets brand prepared beets)

-1/3 cup low sodium vegetable broth

-1 teaspoon ground cumin

-1/4 teaspoon salt

-2 tablespoons tahini

-Juice of half a lemon

To make:

-Place all ingredients in food processor except for vegetable broth.

-Blend and slowly add in more vegetable broth until desired consistency is reached, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides.  You can use more than the recommended amount if  needed.

-Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.


For more plant based ideas head over to the Joyful Gym Rat page on Facebook!

This hummus can’t be beet….
T back when he was a little beet machine….