February Goal Check-In

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And, just like that, my last month before baby is a distant memory…

Despite the desire to squeeze as much as I possibly could into the past four weeks, my body (thankfully) kept me in check. Waking up at two-hour intervals to pee pretty much every night and getting contractions when you exert yourself with more than a gentle stroll will tend to do that to a person.

So, yet again, we are adjusting goals, resetting expectations and wading into what appears to be the “new normal” — at least for the foreseeable future. And this is all pre-baby, so I can’t imagine what March’s recap will be like!

Read more about the five goals toward which I’m working in 2016.

Here’s where things stand currently:

1. Health & Fitness

February was all about listening to my body. And, boy, did it have a lot to say. 

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This extra 30 pounds I’ve gained earned over the past 10 months really started to take their toll (in the form of back pain, hip pain, foot pain…see a theme here?), and I could tell my body was getting prepped for the main event (contractions!). So while workouts remained consistent, I’ve definitely tapered things off in the past two weeks.

I credit regular movement, however, for helping me stave off a host of other pregnancy-related conditions (swelling, and other random maladies, etc.), so I’m thrilled to have been able to be active well into the home stretch. Especially since it’ll be a while before I can resume my usual activity levels…

2. Training

Nada at the moment, but I am making tentative plans for a half-marathon relay with a mama runner friend, Tiffany, later this summer. We may not be the fittest or fastest out there, but we’re determined to put one foot in front of the other and just keep moving.

Getting my 2016 Coeur Sports team kit in the mail was another major highlight this month. It got me super excited for when I can ease back into some kind of training schedule. Eventually.

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In the meantime, I’m so thankful to be working with a company who supports women of all levels, abilities and stages of life! This really is the year of the #coeurbaby, and I love how we can show that healthy mamas = healthy babes.

3. Community

While our Team LUNA Chix Portland Run season hasn’t officially kicked off (stay tuned — April!), our planning sure has. The team’s 10 leaders gathered on February 20 for a retreat, which included some movement and food in addition to the business at hand.

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We’re really excited about going bigger and bolder this year, so keep an eye out for all kinds of great sweat sessions, events and activities. We’ll be resuming our FREE Monday night workouts (6:30 – 7:30 pm) in April, so follow our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts for details.

4. Career

After a bustling January at Pulse Creative, February was all about wrapping up open projects and getting everything set for maternity leave (always a double-edged sword when you work for yourself!). My tentative plan is to step back for two months (March and April), which makes me nervous in the short-term, but I know it’s what’s best for our family in the long run.

As a girlfriend put it, there’s no use in half-assing work, baby, family and self-care during such a tumultuous time. No one will win in the end. And sometimes a step back helps you take a leap forward, so I know a little time off will further inspire me when I resume my work with clients later this spring.

5. Life

My grand plans for Kondo-izing our apartment before baby were a big, fat fail this month. While nesting instincts were in overdrive, I simply didn’t have the energy to tear everything apart and do a big purge.

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So instead of following the guidelines in “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” to the letter, I settled for a weekend closet clean-out. I ended up with one bag for Goodwill and another for eBay, and I’m happy with that for the time being.

After all, we’ve got the rest of our lives to clean — and our last month as non-parents had to take precedence, right?!

How are your 2016 goals coming along? 

So You Wanna Snowshoe? 5 Must-Haves for Your First Trek

Source: SnowshoeMag.co

Source: SnowshoeMag.co

Looking to venture off the beaten path and explore uncharted territory this winter? Snowshoeing can offer maximum benefits for minimal investment — not only is the sport easy to learn and inexpensive, but it’s also a great activity for staying in shape during the cold months.

According to a study from the University of Vermont, runners who traded their sneakers for snowshoes actually gained fitness and escaped impact-related foot injuries in the off-season. The fluffy white stuff provides excellent resistance when training, plus it absorbs heel strike for a lower-impact workout that’s beginner-friendly for all ages.

But even though the sport is an accessible one, it’s smart to prepare in advance when planning on tramping through the woods for a day. Here are my five must-haves to make the trip fun, safe and memorable:

Sustenance

When you’re burning up to 600 calories an hour, it’s important to fuel your body well. Pack nutrient-dense, portable snacks that can be eaten intermittently throughout the day to keep your energy up and blood sugar levels steady.

Need ideas? Check out 15 of my favorites here (and, nope, they’re not just for preggos!).

Survival

Occasionally there’s an element of surprise when it comes to outdoor activities, whether it’s broken gear, an injury or just Mother Nature messing around with you. And the last thing you want to do is tempt fate as the temperature drops, so take the proper precautions and you’ll be ready to address any issues that may arise.

If your trek includes mountainous terrain, for example, consider toting some avalanche-preparedness gear (portable shovel, collapsible probe, avalanche beacons), along with snowshoe repair tools (duct tape, spare grommets, wire, zip ties) and a basic first aid kit.

Spares

No, not tires – we’re talking clothing here. Remember that as you work out, more than 70 percent of the energy that powers your muscles is converted to heat, causing core body temperature to rise. In an effort to keep from overheating, warm blood gets diverted from organs to skin, causing you to sweat, which evaporates to cool things off.

It’s a fine line to walk between being sweat-soaked or shivering, though, so pack lots of layers and plan on adjusting based on your level of exertion and the ambient air temperature. The American College of Sports Medicine outlines some general guidelines here if you’re interested in more info.

Snowshoes

I did a spring snowshoe review a few years back with tips on selecting the proper pair based on your desired type of activity (packed trails, deep powder, etc.). One of my personal favorites is still the Atlas Elektra 10 Series because it’s a smaller, more efficient female-friendly model that provides a great mix of comfort and stability on winter trails.

But the best way, by far, to get started is to “try before you buy” in order to A) see if you like the sport before investing in it and B) get a feel for the types of snowshoes available for the terrain you prefer. Many ski resorts, Nordic centers and retailers (such as REI) now offer rentals, so do a little research and try a few options before you commit.

Snapshots

Finally, what’s the fun in reaching the summit if you can’t document the view, for social media’s posterity’s sake? Invest in a good waterproof digital camera, waterproof phone case or a GoPro, and you won’t have to worry about dropping it while fumbling around with frozen fingers.

Know that it can get a little lonely out there on the trails, too, so if you’re flying solo or want a group picture but don’t have access to a cameraman, consider bringing along a selfie stick for your phone or camera to document the day. Two of my favorites are the Mpow iSnap Y for my phone, which I got as a Christmas gift, and the Xshot Pro Camera Extender, which I’m currently testing with my GoPro (stay tuned for a review, coming soon…).

Have you added snowshoeing to your repertoire of winter sports? 

January Goal Check-In

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Ok, 2016 — ready or not, here you are. Although it feels like we’ve just begun the year, we’re already a month in.

I’ll admit, pregnancy has given me a more leisurely attitude to this year’s goals…well, at least at this point in the game. And purposefully so.

Not only do I want to be kind to my body right now, but I’m also trying to stay present, cut down on unnecessary stress and enjoy the final weeks of Ben and I being responsible for no one but ourselves. All that’s about to change, and I know we’ll get back on track and into our competitive pursuits again eventually…but until then I’m making a concerted effort to keep things casual.

Read more about the five goals toward which I’m working in 2016.

Here’s where things stand at the moment:

1. Health & Fitness

Until Baby H’s arrival, I’ve been hoping to be able to stay active. That means continuing regular workouts with a mix of cardio, strength and flexiblity work throughout the week with one day off to allow my body to rest.

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Fortunately, my doctor’s fully in support of this plan. Despite some minor aches, pains and first-time-mom freak-outs (Me: “There’s a bruise around my belly button; what did I do wrong, and should I stop working out?!” My doctor: “Nope, that’s just pregnancy.”), she’s great with the fact that I keep moving so the baby will keep moving…ideally into the correct head-down birth position.

2. Training

As I mentioned in my initial post on 2016’s goals, I’m signed up for the Portland Marathon and am considering a few smaller races leading up to that (recovery permitting, of course). Since then, I’ve further revised this goal so it’s more about completion than competition; meaning, I’m going to train to be able to finish events without any expectations of times, PR’s or age-group placements.

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While that’s the stuff that typically gets my juices flowing when it comes to training, it’s been a relief to let it go and give myself permission to not feel like I have to push so hard to prove something. And in the meantime, I’m working on maintaining a solid foundation on which I can build post-baby with an ultimate goal of remaining injury-free.

3. Community

Earlier this month, we officially announced the new roster for 2016’s Team LUNA Chix Portland Run. It’s a fantastic group of women of all ages, abilities and interests…but the one thing they all have in common is that they’re stoked to be able to once again connect with the community, promote the sport of running among women and raise money for our charity partner, the Breast Cancer Fund.

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Next up is our team leader retreat next month where we’re setting some goals and doing a little bonding before the season officially starts in April. Mark your calendar! We’ll be resuming our FREE Monday night workouts (6:30 – 7:30 pm), and you can find up-to-the-minute details via our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts.

4. Career

Now that the holidays are over, things have been ramping up again work-wise at Pulse Creative. I’ve got several projects in-progress with clients, including website audits, messaging workshops and content creation, along with ghostwriting articles for Forbes and other outlets on behalf of C-level execs — flexing my old journalism muscles has been especially fun!

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But as I attempt to wind things down for my maternity leave, I’m already contemplating the direction I want to take my business when I return. In other words, what really lights my fire, work-wise, and how can I do more of that? 

It’s been something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately — not only in terms of where I can make the most impact for clients, but also how I can continue to create a sustainable career that allows me to find fulfillment yet maintain a healthy work/life balance. I want to continue to do this same type of project work, but I’m also exploring how to package up my favorite services for clients so I can serve them even better in the long run.

5. Life

Despite being proudly Type-A-organized, I will admit to having what I jokingly call a “Monica’s closet.” Look closely and you’ll see a bike helmet hung next to blazers and a hydration pack mingling among my purses. Yep, #fitpeopleprobs + #cityliving = interesting storage solutions.

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While my original goal was to finish  Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by mid-month so I’d have an update on it being in action for two weeks now, I’m behind schedule. I finished the book, but I know that one month isn’t realistic to be able to follow all the instructions laid out in it.

So I’m revising my timeline — this is about year-long goals, after all — and am aiming to tackle step no. 1 (my clothing) by the end of February. So if you don’t see me for the next few weeks, you know where I am…or what I might quite possibly be buried under!

How are your 2016 goals coming along? 

StitchFix Shipment No. 9 Review

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My last StitchFix netted me two solid basics for pregnancy and beyond (read about it here) after asking my stylist for items that would grow with me and my ever-changing belly.

The dress was a life-saver this fall at both a retirement party and, sadly, a funeral. And while I have yet to wear the blouse (it’s just a tad roomy, and I’m trying to get away with wrapping the bump while I still can), I know it’s time is coming…as in when I need to switch to tent-like styles in the last month or so of pregnancy, plus afterwords while nursing.

For my ninth fix, I gave my stylist a heads up that I’d be a little more than eight months along. But rather than investing in additional maternity clothing at this stage of the game, I asked her to get creative with items that would double as both late-pregnancy and postpartum wardrobe staples.

New to StitchFix? Read all about how it works here

Let’s take a peek at what came in this month’s box, shall we?

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First up was the Le Lis Bray Raglan Textured Knit Top ($58). I have a hard time passing up a baseball-sleeve top for whatever reason, so this one was immediately intriguing.

My stylist picked it because I’d asked about chunky knit sweaters, so she thought this one would be a fun take on the traditional look. It’s super comfy and I love how stretchy it is; however, the thin, delicate — almost airy — knit of the sleeves makes me nervous, considering I’ll have a kiddo clinging to me soon.

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Next was the Laila Jayde Malaga Drape Cardigan ($48). This one had me at the robin-egg blue; what a great color, right?

I tried it out below with a casual tank and ballet flats, but it can really be dressed up or down depending on the clothing and accessories with which it’s paired. My stylist, for example, showed me two versions — one with a t-shirt, jeans and boots; the other with a pencil skirt, shell and heels — so if I can step out of my comfort zone with this one, it might be a good addition to my wardrobe.

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Third was the Mystree Rigley Knit Top ($58). I’m pretty sure my stylist included this one because I requested some fun, longer tops I could pair with leggings to look somewhat pulled-together when what I really want is to be in pajamas.

It seems like a pretty versatile top that I can wear with different kinds of pants and layer with scarves, sweaters and jackets. But the material is super thin, which is surprising with regards to the price tag, plus I’m not sure I’m loving where the length hits me.

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After that was the Skies are Blue Torry Embroidered Tunic ($64). By this point in pregnancy, anything that slims is beyond appreciated (my sister’s comment: “You don’t even look pregnant in that!”)…but I wanted to keep my wits about me when considering this one.

My stylist suggested this top for a dressier look when paired with any cut of jeans or even a dress pant. The collar detail and shape are flattering, as is the cut and color, but I’m just not sure if I need another blouse like this in my closet.

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And, finally, came the Rune Porter Leggings ($38). My stylist chose these because they’ve got a mid-rise, thicker waistband and feel more substantial than your typical legging, meaning they’re very post-baby friendly.

As you can see in the pictures below, they’re comfortable, versatile and flattering (well, as much as possible at 8.5-months pregnant), which is a win. But, again, I’m just not sure if I can justify that kind of price tag without any other bells, whistles — or slimming belly panels!

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So what did I end up keeping?

In the end, I opted for just the Le Lis Bray Raglan Textured Knit Top. The other items were nice, but this one got both my sister and Ben’s top vote for being cute, comfortable and unlike anything I’ve currently got in my closet.

My next fix is scheduled for May, and I requested items to perk up my warm-weather wardrobe. I know I won’t necessarily be back to pre-baby shape by then, but I’m hoping it’ll give me a little inspiration for some summer events we’ve got scheduled. So stay tuned to see what she’s got up her sleeve for fix no. 10!

Want to try StitchFix? Use my referral link to fill out your style profile and get started.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. I simply love the service and think it’s fun to share my experience. I pay for Stitch Fix on my own. If you sign up using my referral link, I’ll get a credit…so thanks in advance for fueling my next fix! 

January Jump-Start: Full-Body Stability Ball Workout

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It’s January, so there’s a good chance you A) made some kind of resolution to lose weight or get in better shape, and B) are already sick of fighting the crowds at the gym this month.

We’ll I’ve got some good news, and it comes in the form of an at-home workout that’s effective, adaptable for all levels and — dare I say — fun?!

That’s right; it’s tough to keep a smile off your face when you’re playing around on a giant bouncing ball. Yes, even if you’re drenched in sweat and feeling the burn.

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All you need is a stability ball and access to your favorite piece of cardio equipment, which could also be a set of stairs or the great outdoors if you’re determined to steer clear of resolution-goers this month.

At home, feel free to try this in front of the TV or break it up into chunks throughout the day. If you don’t happen to have a ball, no problem — just grab one at the gym, find yourself an uncrowded corner and get to work.

And if you really want a treat, finish off your workout with a few of these stretches. Not only do they feel great, but they’re also a good way to support your body so it can really settle into the positions and properly relax. Ahhh…

Are you doubling down on gym time this month or avoiding that place like the plague?

Treating Winter Skincare Woes

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned about pregnancy so far it’s that there are a lot of constants — fluctuating hormones, escalating excitement, random discomforts and exponential expansion, just to name a few. Oh, and the fact that just when you think you’ve got things figured out, your body will throw you for a loop.

Case in point: Schizophrenic skin.

I’m pretty good about trying to meet my daily quota of water to keep the inside of my body (and Baby H) hydrated. But despite Portland’s nonstop-soggy climate, the humidity in the air wasn’t enough; our cold winter weather was still managing to wreak havoc on my now-sensitive skin (read: dry patches and red blotches on my face, along with chapped hands from frequent hand-washing during cold & flu season).

Since so many skincare ingredients are no-nos for preggos, I went in search of a few new products that would not only be safe, but also ultra-nourishing. I ended up revamping my regimen with the following, which I wanted to share in case you’re experiencing similar skin maladies this season:

Remove Makeup: Wipe face gently with Burt’s Bees Sensitive Facial Cleansing Towelettes with Cotton Extract to remove dirt, oil and makeup.

Cleanse: Massage Mad Hippie Cream Cleanser into damp skin fro 20 seconds, then rinse with warm water to hydrate and help balance skin.

Moisturize: Apply Farmaesthetics Nourishing Lavender Milk to clean, slightly-damp face (morning and night) to mend freaked-out skin.

Treat: Slather on good ole Mentholatum Ointment for chapped lips and Farmaesthetics Hand to Heel Softening Salve on cracked hands, heels and ashy elbows.

Prevent: Alternate Farmaesthetics Nourishing Herbal Cream with The Spoiled Mama Tummy Butter and Booda Butter to keep belly itchiness at bay and help prevent stretch marks.

Pamper: Spritz pillow with Earth Mama Angel Baby Morning Wellness Spray for aromatherapy effects, soak swollen feet with Farmaesthetics Field Lavender Solar Salt Mineral Bath, soothe tense muscles with Farmaesthetics Deep Lavender Rub and ease anxiety with Farmaesthetics Lemon Balm Remedy Oil.

Note: As it turns out, Farmaesthetics has a special New & Nursing Mothers Gift Set, which effectively kills many birds with one stone (i.e. ALL the Farmaesthetics products mentioned about are included), so I’d suggest checking it out.

Not only because you can sample a smorgasbord of products at once, but also because all six formulations come in convenient travel-sized containers — perfect for babymooning or in your hospital bag!

What are your best tips for treating winter skincare woes? 

Happy New Year from KineticFix!

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“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.” — Oprah Winfrey

Happy 2016! Guess what? It happens to be a leap year, so we’ve got almost a whole extra day on our hands to turn resolutions into reality.

Therefore, I’m posing a challenge to all of us today: Let’s set the tone for the 365 days to follow and take one small step towards our goals.

Because doing something significant over the next 12 months doesn’t necessarily require massive action. Incremental investments, over time, can lead to big payoffs.

So what small step can you take today to bring you closer to those 2016 goals?