Wednesday, February 24, 2016

3 Moves that Completely Changed my Body (AND Booty!)

Getting back into shape after baby = intense. I had to completely reevaluate the way I approached fitness in order to see results. The days of “oh, I will just run a mile-ish and then put on my skinny jeans” are long gone. I have had to work so so so hard. SO HARD. But the good news is that I am definitely stronger than I have ever been in my life and my endurance is through the roof. There is no way that 22 year old Kate could run my current routes/distances, or lift the amount of weight I lift on the daily (mostly because you would have found her at Polvos drinking margaritas and smoking Parliament Lights). I will probably dedicate a lot of upcoming posts to my fitness routine, because it really has been an ongoing process for the past 2+ years.

Today I wanted to share 3 moves that have completely changed my body. I also feel like these moves have helped me get over plateaus, which is especially important when working out on the regular.  And all of these moves are buildable, meaning I can continue to add more weight/variations and gain more muscle.
(*Let me preface this by saying like everything in life, do your own research. Know what works best for your body. Know the right form before you start any exercise.)
Split Squat:
This is a great booty builder and shaper. I really feel it in my glutes and hamstrings. Adding this variation, in addition to regular squats and lunges, has definitely made an impact. I usually use one of our kitchen table benches, but this can totally be modified.  Customize these lunges to your liking by adding weights. Just make sure that the knee in front never crosses over the toes.

Plank Slides:

I love core work that requires zero crunches, so I incorporate a lot of planks into my workout. I first learned these moves from Christine Salus, one of my favorite fitness gurus on YouTube (I will link some of her videos below). She uses Tupperware lids to slide, but I have found that diapers and pull-ups work great if you are on a hard surface. My favorite moves include sliding both knees to my chest, alternating knees to elbows, and sliding into jack feet. You can also slide into a pike and back out to plank. The combinations are endless, making it a great way to build your core without burnout. Sometimes I up the ante by adding ankle weights:

Kettlebell (or Dumbbell) Swings:

Swings have been a recent discovery and I am obsessed. Again, this is a move that I can continue to adapt by adding more weight for intensity.  Kettlebell (I use dumbbells) swings are also a MAJOR calorie burner. Some studies say that you can easily burn 250 calories in less than 20 minutes. Like most moves, the key to this one is mastering the correct form. This was actually a little tough for me, because I am so use to squats. My body immediately wanted to squat on the down swing, so I had to really focus in order to do it right. This video helped a lot:

These are just some of the exercises I incorporate into my daily workouts. I try to mix it up as much as possible, so that I continue to see progress. Here are a few of my favorite at home workouts, if you're interested:

This is one of Christine Salus' "Silent Workouts." It is low impact with zero jumping. These are great if you don't want to make noise, or if you need to take it easy on your joints.

This one is a super intense 1000 calorie burn HIIT workout. Occasionally I try to complete the whole thing, but mostly I just do a few segments:

Super quick full body HIIT:

And here are some kettlebell workouts that I like:

Like I said, I will continue to write about my post-baby fitness journey. Let me know if you have any specific questions; I am happy to share tips and tricks I have learned along the way!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Toddler Activities: A Few Favorites

Andrew and I made a decision pretty early on that we were going to stay away from battery operated toys for little A. Instead, we incorporate toys and activities that promote open-ended play. Now that she is a little older, I really like to think of myself as a facilitator. It's my job to set up an environment that promotes independent play and then I sit back and let her do her thing. So, I thought I would share a few of our go-to activities.

Stringing beads on pipe cleaners:

Scooping beans:

These two are especially easy and super budget friendly. I usually put down a plastic drop cloth to help catch spills and keep the beads and beans contained. Now that she is older, she is pretty good about keeping everything on the mat, but when she was younger this was our set up:

A little plastic pool was perfect for keeping beads and beans from ending up all over the room.

Treasure Box:

This is a fancy way of saying "Here, I put some random crap in this box. Have fun!" No, but really, what toddler doesn't love an empty box? Today I threw in some string, clips, crayons, and an empty art paper roll. This is what she came up with:
Land Ho!

Cutting and pasting:

This is probably her favorite daily activity. Andrew bought her safety scissors and after some practice we upgraded her to a regular little pair. Learning how to use scissors is really important for her development and motor skills. It helps build her tiny hand muscles, increases hand/eye coordination, and encourages bi-lateral coordination (using both sides of her body at the same time). There are a ton of helpful resources like this one, if you want more information:
I also now give her a glue stick, instead of a bottle, so she feels even more independent and doesn't have to ask me to help squeeze the glue.

This art easel was seriously the best investment, ever. It has a little tray that keeps all of her supplies organized and the other side is a chalkboard! The paper is also on a roller, making it really easy to switch to a new piece. I usually give her a mix of brushes and sponges to work with, but it never takes long before she switches to fingers and hands.
These have been some of little A's favorite activities throughout the past year, or so. They keep her entertained and allow for her to continuously brainstorm new ways to play.
If you want some more information on the benefits of open-ended play, check out these articles:

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Aaand we're back! (4 years later)

I am sad that I stopped writing this blog. I don’t really have a good excuse, either. Life got in the way? That sounds so cliché, but it’s true. Once I started teaching with Citizen Schools, it was hard to emotionally attach myself to anything else. But, alas! I am not currently teaching and my brain is constantly yelling at me to get some words onto the paper. So, here I am. We are no longer newlyweds and we are no longer in North Carolina, but I love this so much that I am debating even changing the name. North Carolina Newlyweds (in Leakey). That’ll do for now.
I will probably continue to write about similar things…vintage finds, fun DIY ideas, delicious recipes, etc.  But I will also incorporate new topics that are important to me now, like motherhood, fitness, and anti-aging face creams.

Speaking of face creams, why don’t we just jump right in? I feel like in the past couple of years I have tried 86984593845 face products, from high end to drug store.  And you know what remains my ride or die? 100% all natural rosehip oil. I have tried a few different brands, but I always seem to come back to these two:

This has been my favorite so far. The consistency is so nice and it doesn’t take long at all to absorb.

This is my second favorite. The only thing I don’t love about this one is that it has an amber tint, so I have to make sure it’s soaked in completely before doing anything  (like putting my head down on the pillow at night).
As far as routine goes, I usually apply rosehip oil after I wash my face in the morning, after I get out of the shower, and before I go to bed at night. I have combination skin, normal to dry, but I feel like I lean more towards the dry side. Using this oil completely repairs my dry skin and gives me an amazing glow. It is also great for combating fine lines and sun damage. I am personally not prone to break outs, so I have never had a problem in that regard. I really just love the way it makes my skin look and feel. Plus it is all natural, which is hard to beat. 

Sticking with the all natural theme, I have also recently fallen back in love with Juice Cosmetics. I first discovered this brand when I found out I was pregnant and started becoming more aware of the types of products that were soaking into my skin. Back then I tried their tinted moisturizer and was pretty pleased with the results.
Pros: SPF 30, all natural, gives a nice glow.
Cons: Super thick and hard to blend, strong clay smell.

I found that this works best when I mix in a few drops of my rosehip oil, or mix it on the back of my hand with another one of my moisturizers. Also, a little goes a long way, which makes the price tag of $29 a little easier to deal with.

The other Juice product that I just recently tried for the first time is their CC Cream and I am really loving it.
Pros: SPF 30, easier to blend, a little goes a long way (I'm talking pea size amount), saw results just after a few uses, I AM GLOWING.
Cons: Clay smell.

I am really feeling this stuff. I swear it instantly made my skin brighter and more even. It is so good that I literally threw on some bronzer/blush over it and was ready to roll. I will definitely be purchasing this again in the future.

I really have stepped up my skin care routine now that I am in my 30's, so I will continue to post about my successes (and fails) when it comes to trying new products. Also, feel free to share some of your favs!

Until, next time! (I am so happy to be writing again, seriously.)