It’s been a while since I’ve written anything, not because I don’t have anything to say but because I have so much to say that it’s hard to narrow it all down. I’ve learned so much this year, about health and wellness and about myself about how life can be so simple if we allow it to be.
I am writing this post from the kitchen table of my 600 square foot beach condo. It’s 6:21am and my family is asleep in our little 200 square foot bedroom, my daughter’s cot snug right against our king sized bed. At first I wasn’t sure how we would all adjust to the close quarters of our new surroundings. In the beginning, there were a lot of family naps and early bedtimes as our daughter became acclimated in her new home. In 600 square feet, there’s not much to clean. It’s one of the reasons that I have zero desire to “upgrade” our home near Annapolis. I clean and do enough laundry as it is, I don’t want room for more. Some people think more is better. I believe the opposite. I like less. Less isn’t as messy. Less is less responsibility. If one of us lost a job, it’s easier to manage when you own less, have less, want less. I like less. Less is freeing.
At the end we will have spent over 50 days at the beach this summer. Grateful is an understatement. Our life here is very simple. A freezer full of homemade dinners that I prepared before we left, a closet with the bare essentials that we need for a beach life, mostly bathing suits, t-shirts and workout clothes. Gianna has about 3 toys here that she plays with when we are indoors, one of them being a set of poker chips since we had to improvise one day. Our mode of transportation is our bare feet or our bikes which we take to the beach, pools or to the ice cream shop. We go to the ice cream shop a lot.
During my first 20 days here, I limited my cardio to biking and incline walking only. This was the first break I had taken from teaching spin class since Gianna was born, and my body enjoyed the long rest from intense cardio. I learned that there is no better way to unwind and relax than having the sand between my toes and the salty air in my hair (which I had to wash a lot more often than when I was at home). I learned that my daughter really loves the beach. Many times throughout the day she randomly would run up and hug me or my husband and say, “I love you. You’re my best buddy.”
There aren’t a lot of photos of these moments because I spent a lot of time away from my phone this summer. When it wasn’t a work day, I’d leave my phone at the condo for hours at a time, not feeling the need to capture every moment on camera to post on social media to shout, look at my life. There were plenty of meltdowns and whining (mostly by my daughter, sometimes by my husband). Speaking of husband, I was reminded this summer of how wonderful of a guy that I have, being that he was the primary caregiver for our daughter Monday through Friday while I worked in my full-time job (remotely from our deck). Taking her to the beach, the pool, the watersides, the swings while packing her snacks, toys, extra diapers and supplies all while hauling it in the beach cruiser wagon in 90 degrees across to the sand on his own. He was grateful for her daily 2pm naps so he could relax and he got a glimpse into the life of a stay-at-home parent. Hard work.
We have 7 days left before we return home to the “real world,” back to normal life, back to his demanding job (a job which also allows us this stretch of off time in which we are grateful), and back to my structured life as I start dieting for my 2 bikini competitions this fall. Part of me wants to go back, and part of me just wants to buy out the ice cream shop and hole up here forever. However I think my fitness career would be over if I owned a creamery.
One thing is for certain, when I get home, I’ll be cleaning out my closets, donating any extra items to charity and minimizing my lifestyle even more. I’ll think twice and three times before I click “buy now” on Amazon Prime Day. Do I really need this? I’ll remember the salt and the sand and the simple days of this summer when things get hectic this fall. Are the things on my to do list really that important or can they wait so we can have more time to play. Play more. Stress less. My new motto. Happy summer friends.
I have a love-hate relationship with traveling.
Sure, 5-nights at a 5-star resort and spa in the Bahamas, is WONDERFUL, don’t get me wrong. But, when I travel my brain typically likes to trick me and say, “Mary, this is your time to indulge.”
So, I have to fight my natural instinct to have dessert after breakfast, lunch AND dinner when I am on vacation and try just to limit it to just dinner. Sometimes I am successful. Sometimes I am not. I am not a drinker (that’s a virgin pina colada shown in the photo), so the thought of a tropical drink does not entice me at all. I am a structured, type-A, routine loving person, so when I am traveling, and all of that structure and routine gets jumbled up, I tend to relax in other areas as well. Like, pile on the carbs and sugar with a heaping bowl of dairy. The result is always the same. I am relaxed after vacation, and I am really glad I don’t have to get back in a bathing suit for a little while.
Why I am I telling you this?!
Because I don’t want you to think that I have everything in a nice little organized box, and staying fit is EASY for me. It’s not. I have to plan ahead to stay ahead for myself, because I can easily get off track just like you.
I have found through a lot of trial and error and major missteps that I have to prepare for vacation in order not to go completely off the wagon! Here are a few guidelines that I try to follow when I am planning a vacation:
1) START the vacation off right. That means, don’t pull into the airport and immediately grab an Auntie Annie’s pretzel for the plane ride. (Okay, I have done it. They ARE good). I usually empty my fridge before I leave for vacation, and throw all of the leftover protein and veggies into a Tupperware (or one of those plastic bins that the pre-washed lettuce/kale/spinach comes in) as my plane ride snack. Then I buy dressing once I pass through security or just make do with hummus and lemon juice. You save money, don’t waste all of your food at home, AND start your vacation off making healthy choices.
2) Plan vacations that are 4-nights or less. Any longer than 4 nights, and I am ready to roll home to my routine, my kitchen, my fitness classes, and our normal life. Justin and I lead a pretty simple life. We believe that less is more, and we enjoy life at home just as much as life on vacation, so we usually don’t plan vacations to “escape” from anything (except the laundry and emptying the dishwasher). We like to relax in the sun, turn off our cell phones, and enjoy each other’s company. We can usually accomplish that and recharge in 3 or 4 nights.
3) Stay in resorts with access to quality food and fitness facilities. I am a foodie. That is no secret. I love to eat. I need to balance that out with a sweaty workout when I am on vacation, because we do a lot more eating out when we are traveling, and I don’t count my macros. For instance, I am writing this post from Atlanta, GA. I came here on a business vacation (my job allows me to work from anywhere), but I also came here because my favorite workout, Flywheel is in this area. So I can take a crazy spin class every morning and eat in some amazing restaurants in Buckhead for dinner. It’s the best of both words.
4) Pack a sh*t ton of food. My husband usually gives me a big eye roll when he sees what I have packed for our vacations, but he is always happy when we land at our destination, and we don’t have to spend $30 each on a breakfast buffet every morning or be subject to whatever food is available at our resort in the overpriced gift shop. I pack A LOT of food. Some items that are always with me on vacation include: Vega One Bars, RX Bars, protein powder, brown rice cakes, my homemade protein bread, nuts, individual packets of nut butter (you cannot bring a whole container of nut butter through security. It is considered a gel, and they will take it. I learned this $12 lesson the hard way). Sometimes I load up on other snacks as well. It really depends on how long we will be gone and where we are going. My motto here is NOT less is more. It’s more is better.
I hope some of these tips help you prepare for your next trip too so you can “plan ahead” and “stay ahead.” Happy traveling!
The hubs and I snuck away to Aruba for a decadent babymoon this March. We LOVE to travel, and because of his profession and his ability to rack up an obscene amount of Marriott and Southwest points, we are able to travel often without breaking the bank.
It was our first time in Aruba, and we stay at the Ritz Carlton, recently built and full of amazing amenities. Our vacations typically go like this:
Wake up at 7am, workout, breakfast, lay on a beach chair all day, fancy dinner, asleep by 9pm. We are early birds and typically hit the early bird specials for dinner. Essentially, we are the oldest thirty-somethings you’ve ever met.
This Rtiz included some great perks that we partook in daily including a great gym and complimentary stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking.
I decided to take one of my workouts outside.
Lunges, 3 sets of 20 lunges (each leg)
Planks, hold for one minute
High Knees, 30-45 seconds
Donkey Kicks, 3 sets of 25 kicks (each leg)
The next morning on our trip, we headed to Purdy Street to try out Flywheel. We were definitely hurting a little from our 8-mile run with the Raven (link here), but we stretched a little and hoped that an intense 45-min ride would loosen us up. I have tried SoulCycle before (link here), so I was super excited to check out Flywheel to see the difference.
We had to reserve our bikes on Sunday at 5pm the week before. That is when the reservation block opens online, and at 5pm on the dot, I watched before me as bikes were being reserved left and right. You actually chose your bike online. It’s a lot like when you are choosing your concert tickets; you reserve your seat. Luckily I was able to get two bikes next to each other. By 5:05pm, the class of 60 bikes was nearly sold out.
Along with the common questions that are asked during a registration process like name, address, and payment info, Flywheel also wants to know if you want to opt in for the Torqboard and if so has you create your username. This is where things get interesting. The Torqboard is a competitors dream, and an exercise novice’s nightmare (which is why you can “opt out” if you want). About ten times during class, the instructor turns on the Torqboard, and you can see where you rank among the other 60 or so riders in class. There is a male and a female side, and the stats are based on speed and power (torq). So for instance, if you are cycling quickly at a low resistance, you won’t rank as high as someone who is cycling at the same speed with more resistance (and is essentially working harder than you). More to come on this…
Usually the workout is all about two things – the instructor and the music – so I did my homework and picked an instructor who came with an awesome and hard-core reputation. After all, when you are paying $25-30 a class, you want to leave sweaty and satisfied.
We arrived about twenty minutes early for our 9:30am class and checked in on iPads at the front of the studio. Our cubby holes coincided with our bike numbers, and slot 44 already had my size 7.5 cycling shoes in there waiting for me. The shoes are no additional cost. We changed, found our bikes, and were ready to roll. Class started promptly at 9:30am, and it was full of heart-pumping, exciting music that really got you motivated for your workout. I was so excited and energized (the pre-workout coffee helped) that I really had to try hard to stay under my max heart rate of 170 for the ride. It is very difficult for me to reign it in during my workouts, but I know that my body is working twice as hard since it’s supporting 2 people now. I was pedaling along, enjoying the class, and then it happened…the Torqboard flashed up for the first time…and I was FIRST. “MaryDFit” right there. Number one on the girl’s side, and beating a few on the guy’s side as well.
Oh it was on.
I wasn’t first by a long shot at all. There were two other riders that were right on my tail. How much longer did we have of class? Oh 30 minutes?! Oh boy, this was going to be one killer workout. For the rest of class, I was pushing myself so hard to remain in that first place spot while also making sure that I wasn’t overdoing it. It was not easy. There were many times when that Torq flashed up that I was second or third. It was so close. It shows where the other riders were located too, so I was eyeing up bike 28 and 48 the whole time.
At minute 25, we started to incorporate weights into the workout using weighted bars that were located on either side of the bike. You had the option of using one or two bars. Each weighed about two or three pounds. That segment lasted for about five minutes, working the shoulder, chest, triceps and biceps. By 30 minutes we were back to just riding, and I was back to super competitive. At the end of class, I ended up tied for second place, a little disheartened but also proud that my body could sustain that level of endurance and intensity for that long. Good work body.
I can officially say that I am hooked on Flywheel. Justin travels to Atlanta for work this spring, and I am planning to hop in his suitcase for a few days so I can check out their Buckhead studio and do a little work from the road. If you have the opportunity to try this amazing workout, please do so. At the end of class you’ll think to yourself, “Torq down for what?!”