On my decluttering list of to-do’s:
On my decluttering list of to-do’s:
I’m guessing that your life is just as busy and full of organized chaos as mine is. We spend the majority of our days juggling children, spending hours in the kitchen, attempting to keep the home tidy, running around town on errands that “must” be done, and maybe you also have a 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. job that you’re juggling on top of everything else. We keep our days scheduled perfectly, carefully balancing all the things that MUST be accomplished. Our neatly daily “to-do” lists get checked off, only to have several more added to the list each time. Often, all this busyness ends up leaving out one VERY important element of life: TAKING CARE YOURSELF. I bet in the back of your mind, you wished that fitness was a priority in your daily life. What about that book of excuses on why you aren’t working out, have you used it up? I definitely have. Let me ask you this; How’s your energy throughout the day? What do you consume to keep your body moving? How well do you sleep at night? What about that little bit of extra “padding” (as my mother calls it) on that mom bod of yours? Don’t worry, I know you wouldn’t change a thing about being a mother and the extra weight that comes with it, I wouldn’t either. But, what if you found a FUN way to get yourself “trim and slim”, something that you actually enjoyed and could commit yourself to go to? A form of exercise that didn’t take much thought and that fit nicely into daily life without messing up your schedule.. What if you could workout with friends? And REAL results that make you feel good? Even better!
So, I’ve been on the path of daily exercise for almost two months now, and I’ve actually started noticing a few little things: I’m sleeping better, I have more energy throughout the day (without chugging multiple cups of coffee!), I’m feeling stronger, and a few inches have disappeared from my waist (!!!!). To say I’m shocked at the beginning results is an understatement.
WHY NOT make a life change to improve the way YOU feel.
Here’s how I started:
1. Start with TWO WEEKS
THIS is where it all starts. Make it your goal to do some form of exercise that makes you sweat EVERY DAY for 14 days straight. Research has shown that it actually takes a bit more than 21 days to form a habit, about 66 days in fact. So start slow – with an attainable goal. Once you’ve completed the 2 weeks, try to finish out that month. Then finish the next month. Keep pushing yourself. Be consistent. I will warn you, by day #4 you’re most likely going to be exhausted… but by day #6 you’ll have gotten over the hump and will be good to go!
2. Find your FITNESS COMMUNITY
These are the folks who will help you accomplish your goals. The people that you will see every day. They will become YOUR people, your friends that you see every day. They will motivate, encourage, support, push you to your limits and will help you succeed. I will admit, starting something new out of your comfort zone can be a little daunting. But the fitness community is there to help. Don’t like running? Don’t run. Find something that you DO LIKE. Local gyms often offer two free weeks to try them out (I’ve found the push I needed at Virginia Beach’s HIT & Run). Talk to your fit friends and ask to join in on their workouts. I promise, it’s always fun to suffer alongside someone you like! Also remember, it’s best to do a bit of everything, mix it up!
3. PLAN AHEAD
Pull out that planner of yours (or your icalendar), and schedule exactly when you’re going to workout. How much time will you need to get it done each day. Once you’ve written it down, it’s set. DO hold yourself accountable. DO follow through. If you say you’re going to do it, DO IT.
4. Drink WATER
This my friend, is very important. Especially since you’re working out every day. Make it a point to drink more water. Buy a fun water bottle, and keep it next to you at all times. Continue drinking it, and refilling it throughout the day. I have had my Hydroflask for almost two months, and my water intact has increased greatly. S’well Bottles are all the rage too, and come in fun designs.
5. Include your FAMILY
There are plenty of outdoor activities where your family can participate. Ride bikes on the boardwalk, or hike along the trails in First Landing State Park. There are even groups of parents who meet up for all different types of hikes all over, check them out to find your location at Hike It Baby! Have little ones who get tired after the first mile? Not a problem. Put them into a bike trailer or stroller. Hike with them on your back. Why not add a few extra pounds to YOUR workout!
What have you got to lose? I challenge you to give it a whirl.
The challenge: Draw/sketch, illustrate, marker, crayon, paint every day for 30 days
I asked Gina Foresta to share with us her favorite gardening tools and essentials she uses a daily basis. I also couldn’t pass up an opportunity to sketch!
Enjoy! And go out and start working in your garden!
I like to have one pair of leather gloves, like these, for hard work, and one pair of light gloves with waterproof palms for basic gardening. But most of the time I bare hand it. My nails look like I’ve been doing mechanic work for most of the summer.
I use a serrated knife for weeding and any harvesting I have to cut for. It is my all-purpose go-to tool. This is a nice one from Villagers in Asheville. This store is like a candy shop for gardeners and homesteaders.
I also have a gardening fork, like this one, on hand when I need to turn compost into a bed or aerate compacted soil.
When weeds are small and popping up everywhere a stirrup hoe, like this one, is a must. Not only is it easy on your back but it makes weeding small plants very easy, and even fun.
I also like a simple trowel for planting seedlings.
Since I garden sustainably, empty spray bottles are very helpful for mixing up natural concoctions to fend off unwanted pests. Most recipes call for a few drops of dish soap so the remedy will stick to the plant leaves. I always use Seventh Generation brand.
I keep a tree lopper on hand for cutting thick branches. While I rarely work with trees, some herb plants, like African Blue Basil, or some pepper plants need a stronger tool than pruners to cut back. By the way, African Blue Basil is a cool plant to have in your garden. The leaves don’t get bitter even when the plant flowers and the bees love it.
After reading rave reviews I just ordered a compost tea kit from Boogie Brew. The kit has an aerator and all you need to make super nutrient rich compost tea for your garden. This company also sells a hose water filter which is great if you’re using city water. They chlorine and chloramine in the city water isn’t great for the bacteria colony in your soil.
While gardening books abound, Food Grown Right in Your Backyard is by far my favorite. The authors’ company is based in Seattle, but we live in a similar zone here in Virginia Beach, and at least are able to grow very similar plants as the Seattle area. This book is the most thorough and relatable gardening book I have ever had the privilege to read.
Roses aren’t always red
The first time I met Gina Foresta, she was interviewing me to assist her at a restaurant garden she was managing. To be honest, I was hesitant about working in a garden, as the only experience I had was growing up with my Master Gardener parents and working for them. After about 5 minutes into the interview, I was struck with how calm, cool, and collected Gina was. As she showed me her drawing and plans for the garden over the Summer and Fall seasons, I was really impressed with her knowledge of vegetable gardening and those feelings of hesitation I had went quickly away. I wanted to work for her, I wanted to listen to her talk, and I wanted to be around her, as cheesy as that may sound! Flash forward to present day, I consider Gina to be a good friend, and still a mentor in not only gardening but in being a parent as well. Recently, a mutual friend said that she considered Gina to be a “filler friend”, which basically means she always fills you up with good vibes whenever you spend time with her, and I couldn’t agree more!
I guess it depends on your definition of occupation. I feel like I have at least four main areas that occupy most of my time. First and foremost I am a mother and wife.
A few years ago I started a gardening and environmental program at my kids’ school which I am still running today. The students are amazing and the garden and program have evolved into something we’re really proud of. I’ve written a pretty thorough curriculum for the program to keep it going after my kids have moved one, and to help other schools get started. We have been very fortunate to have the support of so many local organizations and people, like the Junior Virginia Beach Garden Club and the Cavalier Garden Club. School gardens and local garden clubs or Master Gardener Groups are perfect partnerships to cultivate. School gardens need help since maintenance and funding are the biggest challenges, and many garden clubs and groups need volunteer hour fulfillment and altruistic focus.
I am also serving as a co-chair of the Education Committee for Buy Fresh Buy Local and our committee is working hard to connect kids and families with their food and bring farms and schools together.
Today I also manage the garden for Esoteric Restaurant, so gardening has become a big occupation for me. And finally I write for a couple of online magazines and some other platforms, and would love to expand that area of my work.
I love reading books and blogs. I also cook a ton and enjoy sewing and knitting when I have time. It is so gratifying to make something with your hands, and homemade gifts are the best. I also love family movie nights.
Are YOU a VB “local”?
No, I grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina. But my husband is a Virginia Beach local!
Favorite family activity to do in Virginia Beach
We love to take bike rides on the boardwalk or hikes in the state park. We also still get pretty excited to go to Busch Gardens.
Top 5 “must have” items for going to the beach
I always have a big hat and sunglasses. I like a comfy chair and umbrella. Something to read is a must. I sound like no fun on the beach! But we really enjoy getting out there on beautiful days.
A perfect date with your significant other
A concert that starts before my bed time. My husband and I love music but I just can’t hang anymore with the late shows. Second choice would be a bike ride to a restaurant for a nice dinner, maybe sitting at the bar instead of a table. Our best conversations have always happened when we’re eating at the bar.
My fave restaurants are different depending on whether it’s adult time or family time. Family restaurants we love are Commune, Gringos, and Pacifica. When my husband and I are going out we love Coastal Grill, Terrapin, Eurasia and of course Esoteric!
Go-to drink(s) at the moment
I love hot tea, and Vintage brand orange seltzer in cans. Red wine is my favorite grown-up drink.
Something you CAN’T live without
Yoga. I have enjoyed it for over twenty years now and am trained as a teacher. It started out more as exercise but now it’s my sanity.
What’s on your bucket list?
I would love to travel Europe with my family for a couple of months, taking our time and living like a local. My husband and I were married in St. John in the Virgin Islands and we can’t wait to take our kids there too. Writing a book would probably be on my list too.
Get outdoors! There is so much to do outside in our area, even besides going to the beach. First Landing State Park has great hiking and bike trails. There are lots of great coves and bays for kayaking. Visiting the botanical gardens is always fun and beautiful. And we like to visit the farms out in Pungo in the spring and summer months. If I can get the kids to help pick berries, we’ll stop at Pungo Pizza for ice cream on the way home.
Any events in Hampton Roads that you’re looking forward to?
Blueberry picking, Saturday farmers’ markets and the Buy Fresh Buy Local Farm to Fork event in late summer. My family also really enjoys viewing all the amazing sandcastles in the Neptune Festival.
What is your motto?
One I definitely live by is “Be with those who help your being.” by Rumi
And one I am working hard at is “The day you stop racing is the day you win the race.” by Bob Marley. Sometimes the “race” is made up of really great things, commitments with purpose and fulfillment. But they have to exist within a balance of health and presence with your life and loved ones, not in overwhelm. It’s a delicate recipe that is always being tweaked.
If you follow me over on Instagram (or know me personally), you’ve probably scratched your head and wondered aloud “Why the hell is Tessa up at 5:00 a.m. to WORKOUT?! That’s crazy talk!” I couldn’t agree with you more on that last part. Setting an legit alarm (NOT a hungry baby alarm) for 4:25 a.m. is totally nuts.
So what sparked this bizarre out-of-character behavior for me? Well, it was mix of two things. The first being of how I currently feel about my body image, not good. The second, was meeting Riya and Tara of HIT & Run, at the Creative Union Dinner last month. Immediately after the dinner, Tara emailed to invite me to come check out their studio for a FREE two week trial. What did I have to lose? Nothing. This was the exact push I needed to box jump my way out of my comfort zone and start my path to getting fit and feeling good again about my body. Tara’s “Mom’s to Muscles” guest post on my blog also helped to throw a little extra motivation my way.
On the spot, I sat down with my calendar to schedule out HIT classes for (almost) everyday over the two week period. Their Mind Body was extremely easy to use, and I was locked into my new fitness regimen in no time at all. My husband was even on board to stay home a few mornings a week a bit later so I could attend a few 5:00 a.m. classes, imagine that?!
I wasn’t nervous about trying something new, I just didn’t know what to expect or how my body was going to perform or hold up. My only experience with legit “working out”, was about 9 years ago when I was chasing down my future husband. After succeeding in snagging him (which is a whole other story!), I moved on to other forms of exercise that were more comfortable to my dance background like Zumba and eventually Barre Fitness, which I currently teach.
Start with a bang, right? My first HIT class was at 5:00 a.m. on a Monday. Doesn’t everyone start something new and scary on a Monday? Thankfully, two friends in my neighborhood were planning on attending the class, so we all carpooled which made the inevitable workout not seem so terrifying. The first classes wasn’t as awful as I had assumed it would be. The exercises were easy to understand, and not super hard to execute. I quickly felt my body’s muscle memory kick in as I instinctively tucked my belly button to my spine and flattened my back throughout the workouts. I was surprised at my strength and endurance, and how much I was sweating. It felt good, dare I say it.
By day four, my body felt really run down. Remember how you felt at those pre-season tryouts in High School? That’s exactly how I felt. Everything hurt. Badly. I couldn’t get up and down the stairs, I couldn’t lift my arms to wash my hair, I couldn’t even pick up my 25 pound baby! But as weird as it may sound, the muscle soreness felt amazing. By day six, after mixing in several barre fitness classes my body kicked into gear, and I started to feel strong and capable. I had gotten over the hump and I was on the road to accomplish something that I truly wanted for myself.
Over the course of two weeks, I attended 9 classes at HIT & Run. A few 5:00 a.m. ones, a lot at 9:15 a.m., and two on Sundays at 8:00 a.m. All with the various HIT instructors; Jon, Tara, Jocelyn, & Scott.
All the people I met couldn’t have been nicer or more supportive. I really liked the small group classes, it didn’t feel crowded or overwhelming with bodies. I never once felt uncomfortable or scared during a class or doing an exercise. I never once felt bad about about myself for being a little behind on a rep or using a lighter weight. The instructors demonstrated and explained each exercise to a perfect “t”, and they answered questions and corrected posture throughout the class. From the motivating and uplifting music, to the positive people who were working out alongside me, and to the energy in the room, it was all worth it to step out of my comfort zone and to make an impact.
What I learned over the past two weeks:
THANK YOU to everyone at HIT & Run for helping me see my potential, and to gently push me in the direction of getting fit. I will definitely be back!
(Just got a little teary writing this!)
P.s. The 2 week FREE trial they are offering expires on May 13th, use the PromoCode: THANKS. I highly recommend giving HIT & Run a whirl!
School Picture Day in Mason Dixon
The children’s garden
Teacher Appreciation Week
Roses are pink
Photo courtesy of Amanda, Orchard Cove Photography
Mother’s Day has become more significant for me ever since I became a mother. Having three boys has been a dream come true, as cheesy as it may sound. My days and nights may often seem long and weary, but the months and years are zooming by right in front of my eyes. In the past five years, I have sang the same three bedtime songs more times than I can count. I can give you quite a soothing rendition of “On Top of Spaghetti” if you like! I have wiped tears, cleaned “boo boos” armed with superhero bandaids while sneaking Neosporin onto it, and have comforted those upset and tired bodies tucked neatly into my arms. I have taught myself to draw trains, Power Rangers, Paw Patrol pups, and Ninja’s (thank you art classes in college). I have spent A LOT of time in the kitchen preparing healthy meals, some of which get eaten. And to my surprise, I’ve turned into somewhat of a decent cook and actually enjoy cooking! There is nothing better than hearing my children tell me “mom this is a good dinner!”, or “wow mom, good drawing!”, or the best yet “I love you mom”. Having these little humans look up with wide eyes full of love makes me so proud and happy that they are mine. My favorite part of being a mother is watching them grow, learn, and experience the world around them, especially those big milestones like walking, talking, reading, writing, riding a bike or swimming! My three sweet blond boys complete me.
I had about a whole 5 minutes of uninterrupted time to hash out what I’d like for Mother’s Day, beside that gigantic steaming cup of coffee (cream & sugar please!).
On Sunday, in no particular order I’d like:
Not too much to ask, right?! RIGHT.
I also polled my local mom friends to see what was something that they wanted for Mother’s Day. The responses were honest and to the point! Some practical (some a little pricy). But all wonderful ideas on how to celebrate the mothers in your life.
“A Bloody Mary and a babysitter.” – G
“Uninterrupted sleep for 12 hours.” – A
“A chocolate donut from Crispy Cream.” – L
“A day without an agenda or expectations.” – D
“A night stay at a hotel so I can sleep as much as I want, order room service and read all the magazines I’ve been collecting that I never have the chance to read. Accompanied by a bottle of champagne!” – M
“Coming home to an empty dishwasher and a clean kitchen.” – T
“Work in my garden and have someone else cook dinner for me.” – M
“I want my husband to clean the damn toilet!”- H
Need more ideas? Check out these ideas from my Virginia Beach mom friends.
A plant to put in the garden to enjoy all year round, especially one that blooms around Mother’s Day (iris or lilac)
A Wind Chime from Wild Birds Unlimited
An Orchid (Orchid Station or Whole Foods)
A Flower Arrangement or succulent plants from Roost Flowers
New gardening tools
Gift card to a nursery to pick a few plants to dig in the dirt together on Mother’s Day
Gold disc necklace with kids initials monogrammed on it
A charm with son’s thumbprint on it
23451 keychain or earrings from The Lemon Cabana
Anything from The Beach Nut
Addison Weeks “Bendall” Cuff Bracelets
Be Brave Necklace
From/with the kiddos
Handmade cards from kids
Tea with mommy
Professional Photographs done of Mother & Kids
Mother’s Day Brunch with the husband and kids
A picnic basket for a lunch (and a hike) on the beach at First Landing State Park
Paint your own pottery – Mug with foot and hand prints
Mani, Pedi, Hair, Massage at Massage Luxe, with Misty Smith
10 pack classes to your favorite fitness/yoga studio (Wareing’s Gym, Hot House Yoga, HIT & Run, Fushion Fitness)
Spa Day at Dupre’s
Lunch at Eurasia, with wine!
Brunch at Bay Local
An afternoon alone to wander around Prince Books with a cup of coffee
A whole day of shopping at MacArthur Center
New athletic gear (Anything from Lululemon, LA BL & Athletica)
Any household goods from West Elm
Let’s end with a video that will probably make you (good) cry.
Creative Union Dinner photography courtesy of Zoë Grant
A few weeks ago I attended the third Creative Union Dinner at Bluebird’s Garage in Virginia Beach. These dinners are hosted by Mary Kaufman of Bluebird’s Garage and Zoë Grant of Andi & Zoë Photography, and are “a curated networking experience for local creatives that encourages creative community by connecting, cross promotion, and most importantly creating new things together”. This is the second dinner I’ve gone to, and each time I’ve thoroughly enjoyed myself! Besides the delicious food and great conversations during dinner, I’ve departed with a bunch of new, cool friends and the renewed excitement of feeling inspired again.
At this particular dinner, I met the Founder of HIT & Run Riya Thorson and her Operations Manager, Tara Lowrey. If you haven’t heard of HIT & Run, it’s a new boutique fitness studio specializing in High Intensity Training (HIT), and they are located on Laskin Road near the Oceanfront. I had been following the studio on Instagram for awhile, but really didn’t know the extent of what they had to offer.
As a fitness instructor myself, I often find that I don’t make it to the gym on the days when I’m not teaching a class. And then suddenly, the days have gone by, my busy schedule of playing “Supermom” has consumed me, and I haven’t gotten a good sweat in. Whoops! After talking with Riya and Tara, my curiosity was sparked, and I wanted to learn more about what HIT & Run is all about. SO, I’ve signed up for their FREE two week trial period (already slightly nervous about those 5:00 a.m. classes), and I also asked Tara to share a bit of motivation on how to “HIT” and “Run”!
Do you push snooze or jump right up out of bed every morning? Do you use an internal alarm clock whether it’s yours, your child’s or your husband’s, or do you use a physical alarm clock like the good ol’, two bell metal alarm clock? Do you always feel like you don’t have enough hours in the day and you’re just exhausted? Well…. Imagine this…Your workout is complete and you’re home and showered before your babies or maybe even your husband are out of bed. Imagine your diet decisions being easier. Imagine gaining 2-3 hours of extra energy in your day. Imagine a clearer head, increasing your ability to perform daily tasks. Imagine not having that “mom” bod this summer. Imagine losing that little unwanted body fat you are holding onto. Imagine your skin looking healthier, brighter and younger. Imagine where the extra push can take you. Imagine all of these things because you jumped up out of bed when your alarm went off. IMAGINE ALL OF THIS HAPPENING TOGETHER. It’s time to lace up those tennis shoes, throw on that workout outfit and Make An Impact with HIT & Run.
Introducing THE BIG PICTURE:
High-intensity interval training (HIT) describes any workout that alternates between intense bursts of activity and fixed periods of less-intense activity or even complete rest. It sounds too simple to be effective, but science doesn’t stretch the truth.
IT’S EFFICIENT: “I just don’t have the time.”
Super-efficient HIT is the ideal workout for a busy schedule, you HIT it for 50 MINUTES and you run… A play on words, you are working out from warm up to finisher in 50 minutes. (HIT & Run opens at 5:00 a.m., hit your snooze? HIT the 6:00 a.m. class!) You potentially could leave your house, workout & be home in an hour. ONE HOUR! That’s only 4% of your day! Do you want to hear something fun? Research shows you can achieve more progress in a short 15 minutes of interval training (done three times a week) than the girl jogging on the treadmill for an hour 5 days a week. In just 2 weeks of high-intensity intervals, it improves your aerobic capacity as much as 6 to 8 weeks of endurance training. Using the Tabata training method (we do this once a week as part of our fitness program) you can complete an effective HIT workout in just 4 of the 50 minutes of class.
YOU’LL BURN MORE FAT: “I don’t want that Mom bod this summer.”
Not only do you burn more calories during a HIT workout, but the EPOC effect keeps on giving throughout the day. That means you burn more fat and calories in the 24 hours after a HIT workout than you do after, say, a steady-pace run.
RIDE OR DIE: “I want a clearer head.”
Most people aren’t used to pushing into the anaerobic zone (that lovely place where you can’t breathe and you feel like your heart is trying to jump out of your chest). But in this case, extreme training produces extreme results. A study found that after 8 weeks of doing HIT workouts, subjects could bicycle twice as long as they could before the study, while maintaining the same pace.
YOU LOSE WEIGHT, NOT MUSCLE: “I don’t want to hold onto hope anymore.”
Anyone who has been on a diet knows that it’s hard to not lose muscle mass along with fat. Most “diets” leave your energy source depleted and you don’t even have enough energy to get to the gym to attempt to burn any fat! Steady state cardio seems to encourage muscle loss, both weight training and HIT workouts allow Fit HITTERS to preserve their hard-earned muscles while ensuring most of the weight lost comes from fat stores. Win/win!
YOU’LL INCREASE YOUR METABOLISM: “I want to age in reverse and make healthier food choices, is that too much to ask for?”
In addition to increased fat burning and more muscle preserved, HIT stimulates production of your human growth hormone (HGH) by up to 450 percent during the 24 hours after you finish your workout. This is great news since HGH is not only responsible for increased caloric burn but also slows down the aging process, making you “younger” both inside and out! ‘Muscle tissue is metabolically active and uses energy even at rest, whereas adipose (fat) tissue does nothing at rest. Muscles move, requiring energy, while fat is just storage.’ Increasing your metabolism allows you eat smaller portions of healthy choices for you and your family throughout the day.
IT’S A GIVE AND TAKE: “I’m exhausted & NEED more energy.”
If you’ve ever worked out really hard, the fatigue, the sweating, and the muscle soreness probably leaves you with an easy answer to the question, “Does working out increase your energy?”. This question is more suited for the long-term benefits of exercise, because YES, working out does increase your energy, regardless of how you feel at the end of a workout. You may feel worn out immediately afterwards, but studies are finally coming to complete resolutions showing exercise as an energy increaser. A simple way to think about it goes like this: when you are physically fit, your body doesn’t have to work as hard doing normal activity (such as extracting oxygen and pumping blood, etc.). This decreases the feelings of fatigue. Your metabolism will be faster, and your energy output will increase.
IT’S SERIOUSLY CHALLENGING: “I need the extra push.”
This is not a workout you can do while reading a magazine or chatting with your friend. Because it’s so short (JUST 50 MINUTES, TOTAL!), you will be working hard the whole time. The trade-off is this format offers seasoned exercisers a new challenge and new exercisers a quick way to see results. You will be challenged, you may be sucking wind, but you definitely won’t be bored!
So next time you think “working out is tough”, or “working out takes too long”, or “I’m too tired to work out”, force yourself to get up and out. Form good habits and your health and energy levels will be greater than ever before.
About the author: Tara grew up in New York, and moved to the beach ten years ago. She and HIT & Run’s founder Riya, have been friends since she relocated here, and workout “swole sisters” for 8 years. Tara is dedicated to fitness and loves pushing people past their limits and overcoming plateaus. And most of all she enjoys helping mommas get their sexy back! When Tara isn’t at HIT & Run, she can be found paddle boarding, riding bikes, boating & spending time the beach.
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