Musings from My Brain

I grew up in a fairly rural area in the hills around a lake, or as others would call it, the boonies. It took 45 minutes to get to town, which made for some quality car conversation time. One time we were driving to town and I asked my dad a really random, off the wall but sort of deep question. I do not recall the question. But, I remember that he looked at me, befuddled, and asked, “Does your mind ever stop thinking?” No. The answer is no, the wheels are constantly in motion, Dad.

I’ve been doing a lot of internal reflection and I’ve had a writer’s block lately. I think the two go hand in hand. I have a million ideas running through my head. I think of an idea and say oh that’ll be a great blog post, then 5 minutes later another idea comes to my head that gets to the top of the list. Instead of choosing a topic and writing a thoughtful post on it (that’s just not in the cards right now), I’m going to briefly share some of thoughts bouncing around in my head. Hopefully this will help me work through this mess in my head.

Holding Ourselves Back– I would say that I have a”let’s do it!” attitude…most of the time. I have a relatively high level of self-efficacy and am not afraid of a challenge. That doesn’t mean I don’t hold myself back though. I think we can be ourselves’ biggest motivators and biggest downers. It’s really easy to tell yourself why you shouldn’t or can’t do something then believe it. I have been overly conscious of this lately and have actively been trying to question that doubtful voice in my head. It makes for some very interesting internal conversations up there…

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I did this 5-mile hike before work and you better believe there was an internal battle about my ability to do this.
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The “boonies” where I grew up.

Taking the Reins of Your Future

I was recently inspired by some individuals in my life that recognized they weren’t content with their career and took the steps to change their path. I currently love my job and don’t plan on changing it anytime soon. However, I can’t expect the future I want to just… happen. I have to take the necessary steps to make it happen, to make my vision come to fruition. I realize that I don’t have control of everything, but I can take the reins and create a future that makes me content and fulfilled. Sure, life will throw me curve balls along the way, but I don’t plan to sit by and let life passively happen to me. These thoughts led me to create a 5-year plan, and I will share it with you soon.

Self-Love vs. Self-Appreciation

I’ve been listening to a lot podcasts about self-love, body image, etc. I think the concept of self-love is amazing and an incredible thing to strive for, but it isn’t easy. Self-love is especially difficult for girls and women that have been sent incessant messages related to changing their bodies since they were in diapers. Currently, self-appreciation sounds much more doable to me. I appreciate what my body can do and am thankful for it on a daily basis.

The Social Media Struggle­

I decided that I need to bump up my social media game by posting on a more regular basis. As someone who consciously tries to limit my social media time, this has proven to be a struggle for me. I find myself thinking about social media frequently, and I can’t say that I enjoy it. At the same time, I realize that it’s important to increase my social media presence if I want to get my voice out there.

Reframing­

My motto about difficult situations is that “you can’t control the situation, but you can control your reaction.” Unfortunately, things are going to happen that aren’t ideal. That doesn’t mean we have a make the situation even worse with a negative reaction. I recently took my dad to a baseball game and the ferry leaving the game was full. We had to walk back to the ferry building and wait 1.5 hours for the next ferry to take us back to our car. Was this ideal? Not at all. Instead of being bummed about it and letting it ruin my day, I reframed my situation. I decided that it meant I got to spend more quality time with my dad and I should soak that time up. Next time you find yourself heading down the Negative Nancy route, I challenge you to reframe the situation and become a Positive Peter, or at least a Content Cathy.

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Go Giants!
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View from the ferry

Embracing the Future While Staying Present

It has been overwhelmingly hot here and I’ve found myself dreaming of cooler weather. I am usually the last person to want summer to end, but I am so ready for some comfy clothes and fall leaves. We still have a lot of fun summer activities ahead of us though, so I am trying to remain present and soak up these final days of summer. I promise I will not start buying holiday decorations yet, but I am still going to fantasize about making soups and cuddling up under a blanket.

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Labor day dinner aka see ya later summer meal! I had sweat dripping down my body as I made these and was begging for a rain cloud to appear over me. 

Did any of my random thoughts resonate with you? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section below. Let’s hope this brain of mine can figure itself out and I can get some focused attention soon.

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Getting Back into the Groove

While the majority of the country seems to be going back to school, the students at the University I work don’t come back for another month (Thank god! My to-do list is still way too long). I can’t help but notice the “back-to-school” feeling in the air though. While I was always sad that summer was over growing up, I loved back to school time as a kid. Back to school shopping made me giddy (Lisa Frank everything, please) and I’m one that thrives off of routine.

This summer has been a wild one, to say the least, so meal prepping has been an afterthought. I’ve still planned out our weekly meals in order to stay sane, but there has been little to no prep done ahead of time. What did this equate to? Me running around in the morning trying to get lunch and breakfast prepared and myself out the door on time aka me getting out the door late and cursing every red light as I biked to work. Not exactly Zen.

I recently started making lunch bowls in an effort to essentially get my shit together. Yes, I know that bowls have been all the rage for a long time now. Sometimes I’m quick to hop on trends, like putting frozen cauliflower rice in smoothies, Do it!  Other times, I jump on board around the same time as my 85 year old grandma. I’ve quickly realized that making bowls full of cooked and raw veggies, hearty whole grains and plant or seafood based protein, makes my mind and body very satisfied. On that same note, it seems to be great for bowel movements. Gotta love that fiber!

With the back to school excitement all around, I decided last weekend was a good time to get back into meal prepping mode. I probably spent about 1.5-2 hours in the kitchen jamming out to Brooks n Dunn and annoying my neighbors as I belted out the lyrics to “Cowgirls Don’t Cry”.  I’ll be honest, I was pretty tired by the time I was done and didn’t even finish. Deviled egg aspirations turned into “hard boiled eggs will do”. However, my future-self is going to be very thankful for the extra time I spent in the kitchen on Sunday. In fact, I was oddly confused when I was ready for work 5 minutes ahead of schedule this morning and wasn’t stressed about rushing out the door. Unfortunately, the stress quickly came back when I realized I clearly shouldn’t have been biking in the dress I chose to wear.

Are you looking to get into a routine? Here is some meal prepping and planning inspiration for you!

  • Sunday: Teriyaki pork, bell pepper and onion kebabs + butter lettuce salad w/almonds
  • Monday: Kale steak Caesar salad with homemade pretzel croutons
  • Tuesday: Mushroom and bacon omelette
  • Wednesday: Picnic in the Park!
  • Thursday: Chicken parmesan sandwiches + roasted carrots
  • Friday: Pizza slices after golf

Food I Prepped:

  • Greek yogurt Caesar salad dressing
  • Cut up a cantaloupe
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Destemmed and sliced one head of kale
  • Sliced a cucumber
  • Sliced mushrooms
  • Lunch bowls: zoodles, canned salmon, brown rice, broccoli rice, canned green beans, diced bell peppers and olives. I’ll plop a dollop of spicy hummus on top when I’m ready to eat them!

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  • Shredded zucchini to freeze and throw in smoothies, oatmeal or chia seed pudding
  • Spiralized zucchini for my lunch bowls
  • Don’t forget the cookies! Butterscotch, chocolate chip and graham cracker balls of joy

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Are you getting back into a routine around this time of year? What’s your favorite tip getting organized and ready for the week?

3 Life Lessons I Learned from a Rollerblading Accident

I recently took a tumble. This tumble involved me, rollerblades, the pavement and not enough protective gear (according to my 5 year-old nephew). I’ve always had an obsession with rollerblades. As a kid I was convinced that living on hills with bumpy roads that made your jaw jiggle as you rode down them was not a good enough reason to not rollerblade. Instead, I tentatively, slowly weaved myself down the hills then clunked back up the hill to do it all over again. You would think that all of this practice rollerblading on hills would translate into me being a fairly functional rollerblader on flat roads. Well then, you would be wrong.

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Since my body and running don’t get along, I recently got the spark to try rollerblading again. I love being able to just put on shoes and go for a run, but my hips and knees don’t get the same rush my brain does. According to a physical therapist I saw, it’s because my wide hips were made for giving birth not for running. Personally, I would like to think my hips are made for much more than giving birth, but that’s neither here nor there. Needless to say, I didn’t go back to see him again. In my logical mind, rollerblading was a great substitution for running. You know what I didn’t take into account? Falling on rollerblades hurts way more than falling while running.

A couple weeks ago, when the weather finally dipped below 100 degrees, I decided it was an ideal time to strap on the blades and hit the pavement (literally what I did).  With the help from Kevin, I made it out of my front door and decided it was best to walk down the grass instead of the slightly downhill driveway, safety first. The last words I heard Kevin say were, “call me if you need me to pick you up” and I laughed at him because why in the world would I need to be rescued?!

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Back when I aspired to be bad ass rollerblader

Then this happened… I was cruising down the bike lane praying no cars were at the four way stop, because I realized I had 0% confidence in my ability to stop. Phew, no cars, let’s try to slow down. “Ah you’re leaning back and are going to eat it, just roll through.” I seemed to be getting into a rhythm and my glutes were starting to burn. I felt like a semi-legit rollerblader. I was approaching the park, so I looked up to see the view. BIG MISTAKE. I should have kept looking down to see the crack that was clearly waiting to destroy me. Boom. Just like that my knee banged the ground, then my chin, my head and apparently every appendage on my body hit the pavement in some way. Of course, there was a car full of people nearby to witness my YouTube worthy tumble, but none of them had their phones out ready to record and make me go viral. For about 30 seconds I considered rollerblading home, then I had to suck up my pride and call Kevin to come rescue me.

In the two weeks since my rollerblading disaster, I realized that I learned the following life lessons from this debacle:

It’s OK to Fail

As I stood there laughing at myself for falling and trying to push down the frustration, I seriously considered rollerblading back home. Why? Because I didn’t want to admit that I failed. Looking back on it, rollerblading home would have been incredibly ridiculous. The reality is that I tried rollerblading and it didn’t work out. Do I need to try it again and “not give up”? Not if I don’t want to. Honestly, I’m planning on selling the rollerblades. I’ll stick to walking and biking. I tried it and failed, that’s OK.

I don’t feel like we are taught to fail or even how to handle failure. Rather, we are taught to not give up and are rewarded for succeeding, but not always for taking a chance on something. It took me a whole year to get the courage to start this blog, because I was worried it would fail. Finally, I realized that it didn’t matter if it failed, but it did matter if I passed the opportunity to do something I enjoy in fear of failing. Imagine how many opportunities we let slip by in life because we fear that we won’t succeed. Instead of trying so hard to avoid failure, let’s shift the focus to improving how we react to failure. Life is an experiment, let’s learn from it.

You can’t force healing (physical or emotional)

As I sit here typing this post, two weeks post-eating-pavement, I am still experiencing pain. My chin still has a knot on it and is sensitive to touch. I can deal with that though, I don’t need a chin to be active. However, I do need my hips to function and it seems like I pulled something in my hip when I fell. Awesome.

I was convinced that I’d be able to return to my normal workout classes a week after the fall. Where’d I get this time frame from? Oh, I just made it up. One week sounded like a decent amount of time to heal. Well guess what? Two weeks have gone by and I still haven’t returned to my normal workout schedule. It’s incredibly frustrating, but I’ve realized that we cannot force physical or emotional healing. We must give ourselves time to heal and respect that we can’t rush this process. In the grand scheme of things, these 2 weeks that I have been out of commission are such a small amount of time in my life. ”It’s not a big deal, be patient. It’s not a big deal, be patient. It’s not a big deal, be patient.” This phrase is currently on repeat in my head, so I stay sane.

Sometimes you need to rely on others for help

Guess what makes life easier? Leaning on your support system and asking for help when you need it. Guess what isn’t always easy? Asking for help. It’s OK to need and request support. We don’t have to do this crazy thing called life alone. Knowing when you need help and actually requesting it can be difficult. We can’t expect other people to read our minds and know what we need. We need to communicate. As I was lying on the ground in our living room icing my knee and my chin, feeling all sorts of frustrated, I had a 30-minute conversation with myself about making dinner. I had something delicious planned and didn’t want to lie on the ground for the rest of the night, but making dinner at that moment sounded miserable. Finally, I asked for help. Of course, Kevin didn’t actually expect me to make dinner. But in my head I was letting us both down until I came to terms with the fact that making dinner just wasn’t on the table, so I asked for help and the world didn’t come crashing down. Life lessons man, they even happen when you’re lying on the ground cursing the rollerblading gods. Speaking of which, do you need some rollerblades? I think I know where you can get some used ones (with no bad luck attached) for a good deal 🙂

My Wellness Vision

I’ve almost completed the certification process to become a Health and Wellness Coach and finally did something I was supposed to do at the beginning of the class. I am typically not a procrastinator and cross items off my to-do list a little too enthusiastically.  The problem with this task, developing my Wellness Vision, is that I haven’t been inspired by my own vision.

To be honest, I also don’t have that great of an imagination. I wasn’t the type of kid that loved “pretending” and it’s even harder for me to do it now. Believe me, I wish I had that playful, fun side, and could enjoy acting like I’m a dog and crawling around the floor. I swear kids always want to pretend they are dogs. Since imagination isn’t second nature for me, the thought of imagining what my Wellness Vision could be was quite intimidating. Do you want to talk about your wellness vision? Let’s do it! I could help you brainstorm all day, but please don’t ask, “Well what about you?”

Needless to say, the fact that this task has been hanging over my head since December was driving me wild. I didn’t want to just write something to say I did it though; I wanted it to be meaningful and applicable to my life. I’m delighted to share that I finally wrote my Wellness Vision. What finally inspired me? My computer wouldn’t let me log on at work Monday morning.

As I sat there staring at my computer screen, wondering why Monday hated me, I thought of my Wellness Vision and my brain finally kicked into gear. At work, we use the 8 Dimensions of Wellness model to explain to students how to find balance in their lives. I realized that I needed to combine the 8 Dimensions of Wellness and my favorite word “intention” to develop my Wellness Vision. Once I got a pen and pad of paper, the words began flowing and my terrible handwriting couldn’t keep up.

This vision contains reflects my current stage in life, but I imagine my Wellness Vision is fluid and I will edit it as life changes. I encourage you to explore your own Wellness Vision (even if it takes 8 months). As uncomfortable as it can be, internal reflection does wonders for our health and wellness.

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My Wellness Vision

I am living my life with intention in the following dimensions of wellness:

  1. Physical
    • I am nourishing my body with foods that give me energy and make me feel good.
    • I am positively recognizing my body for what it can do, not how it looks.
    • I am choosing to do exercise that makes my body and mind feel good.
    • I am engaging in preventive behaviors and seeking medical advice when needed.
  1. Emotional
    • I am honoring my feelings by giving myself time to recognize, understand and work through them.
    • I am seeking peer and/or professional support when necessary.
  1. Spiritual
    • I am actively exploring what’s meaningful to me.
  1. Occupational
    • I am satisfied, happy and challenged by the work I am doing.
    • I am working to live, not living to work and have boundaries set between my work and personal life.
  1. Financial:
    • I am consciously spending my money and focusing on experiences rather than material items.
    • I am making financial decisions that positively impact my family and my future self.
  1. Social:
    • I am choosing to have connections with individuals that add value to my life.
    • I am regularly engaging with my social network while also dedicating alone time for my mind to rejuvenate.
  1. Environmental:
    • I am spending time outside and disconnecting from technology to reconnect with nature.
    • I am embracing the mantra “outer peace=inner calm” by only keeping items around me that add value, I have an emotional connection with or use regularly.
  1. Intellectual:
    • I am engaging in situations and discussions that challenge my internal and external biases.
    • I am keeping an open mind and always seeking new information.

My motivators are my health, well-being, family and friends.

The strengths I can draw on to help to realize my vision are my self-awareness, intrinsic motivation and passion for self-improvement.

My challenges are external influences, the desire to do too many things and living in the future instead of the present.

My strategies that will help me realize this vision and meet the challenges are revisiting my Wellness Vision regularly, developing short and long-term goals and sharing my vision with my support network.

 

 

 

Kale, Bell Pepper and Bacon Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Earlier in our relationship, Kevin and I read the book, The 5 Love Languages. If you haven’t read it and are in a relationship, I highly recommend it. Actually, you should read it even if you aren’t in a relationship, because it teaches you that everyone has different ways of feeling and showing love. I bet you didn’t think that this post titled, “Kale, Bell Pepper and Bacon Stuffed Sweet Potatoes”, would get so deep so fast huh?

I learned that “acts of service” is my main love language. I show people love by doing acts of service for them and I feel most loved when I receive acts of service. Basically, Kevin now knows that vacuuming the house is the way to my heart. God I love those clean carpet lines. I also learned that you are supposed to tell people thank you and show appreciation when they do acts of service for you. Since acts of service are so innate to me, I never thought much about recognizing the acts themselves.

Clearly, recognizing feelings and emotions isn’t my strongest trait. Instead of outwardly showing my emotions for you, I’d rather do something for you. Usually the way I do that is by cooking. I love to cook for people. Are you celebrating something? Let me cook for you. Are you going through a rough time? Let me cook for you. My friends think I am crazy for this, but I’ve very willing volunteered to cook for large bachelorette parties for my closest friends. This is my way of showing my appreciation for them and you could say letting them know I love them, but let’s not get too mushy gushy here.

I made these breakfast sweet potatoes during the most recent bachelorette trip. I wanted to do something simple that would keep us full for hours, but not make us feel bloated. These breakfast stuffed sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamins, minerals, protein and complex carbohydrates…and bacon, cause, well, I’m still human. You can easily swap out ingredients and change the flavors completely based on what you have on hand. These also reheat really well, so they would be great to have on hand during the week! This recipe is more like a guide and the measurements are very approximate. I was cooking for 12 girls and winged it based on what sounded good in my head. If you want more cheese and less veggies, make your own adjustments. You do you.

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Kale, Bell Pepper and Bacon Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 1 small sweet potato per person (adjust based on the size of your sweet potatoes)
  • 5 eggs per person, whisked
  • 1 slice of bacon per person, chopped
  • ¼ cup kale per person (ribs removed, thinly sliced)
  • ¼ cup bell pepper per person, chopped
  • ¼ cup onion per person, chopped
  • 1/8 cup cheese per person, shredded
  • Salt, pepper and garlic powder, to taste
  • Oil, whatever you have on hand
  • Optional
    • Chopped cilantro
    • Chopped green onions
    • Avocado

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Stab sweet potatoes with a fork a few times and lightly rub with oil, salt and pepper then place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake until you can easily pierce them with a fork, about 35-40 minutes. Flip halfway through baking.
  2. While sweet potatoes are cooking, heat a large pan to medium heat and cook the chopped bacon. Spoon the cooked bacon out of the pan and set aside. Leave 1-2 Tbsp. bacon fat in the pan.
  3. Add onion and bell pepper to pan and cook until soft but not mushy, about 3-4 minutes. Add the onions and peppers to the reserved bacon.
  4. Add kale to pan and cover pan to wilt kale. Once kale is softened, add the bacon, onions and peppers back to the pan. Dump in the whisked eggs and season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Cook until eggs are just about done, but not all the way there (they will continue to cook in the oven)
  5. Cut cooked sweet potatoes in half. Use a spoon to scoop out some of the inside so each potato half becomes a boat for the egg mixture.
    1. Tip: Save the cooked sweet potato you scoop out to mix into oatmeal or smoothies, make brownies with, freeze for a future use…basically just don’t throw it away!
  6. Place sweet potato boats on a baking sheet, skin side down. Evenly distribute the egg mixture into the sweet potato boats. I like to pile my eggs pretty high, but it’s up to you. Sprinkle with shredded cheese. Place back in the oven until the cheese is oozy and melted.
  7. Sprinkle with optional cilantro, green onions and avocado. Devour!

Savoring Summer

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned with age (besides the fact that hangovers get worse as you get older) it’s that time seems to move much faster. The last month and a half has been an absolute whirlwind. In my mind, we are still in the first week of June. Considering my favorite holiday, 4th of July, is coming up next weekend, I clearly need to wrap my mind around this whole “June is over” idea.

We spent the end of May and early June traveling around Europe then I came back and got to spend a weekend in Lake Tahoe with some of my closest friends for a bachelorette party. Please don’t think I am complaining. I love traveling and new experiences. I just didn’t realize how fast time flies when you are eating, drinking and playing all day. It makes the work day go by sooo slowly. Do you think there’s any way I could get paid to always be on vacation? Side note: I aspired to be a trophy wife in middle school, no joke. It just made the most sense to me and infuriated my teachers, so I figured it was a great idea.

Back to real life, I am not a trophy wife. But, like my younger self, I do still love everything about summer. After some work travel this weekend, my schedule will open up and I am looking forward to slowing down and savoring summer. In an effort to act like I am still a kid on summer vacation hanging out at the pool all day and eating popsicles, I am hoping to take on fewer responsibilities this summer. Instead, I intend to experience this season and soak it up every day, because we all know summer will be over before we know it.

In an attempt to be less depressed about having to come home from our adventure in Europe, my husband and I made a list of the summer activities we want to do during the next few months. I don’t want to find myself saying, “Man I wish we would have done that this summer” once October rolls around. Of course, there needs to be a balance. I can’t say yes to everything, so I plan to be very intentional with my time and hopefully slow down to enjoy these fun activities our joyful, vacation loving selves deemed essential for summer:

  • Go to Picnic in the Park
  • Float down rivers
  • Go to Rivercats game(s)
  • Go Camping!
  • Visit Clarksburg for wine tasting
  • Go to Tahoe
  • Visit the Yuba City River
  • Grill oysters
  • Check out local breweries
  • Buy a vespa
  • Enjoy picnics on the Greenbelt
  • Fish
  • Beach days
  • Invite friends over for BBQ’s
  • Golf
  • Pretend we are in Italy and eat meat and cheese plates for dinner
  • Get local produce at the fruit stands
  • Go to $5 movies on Tuesdays to escape the heat
  • Have a water play date and sleepover with our nephew/niece
  • Go on the boat (waterski season!)
  • Make ice cream
  • Check out new locations to hike

What’s on your list of activities for this summer? I’d love to hear about them below!

3 No Equipment Required Workouts

I absolutely love being in gyms.  I’ll be the first to admit that a gym full of clean, up-to-date equipment gets me feeling absolutely giddy inside.  But sometimes we don’t always have access to a gym or maybe we aren’t in the mood to leave the house and make the trek to the gym.  That’s OK! Not having access to a gym does not mean you can’t workout. Our bodies are one of the best “machines” we have for exercise! Keeping a few bodyweight workouts on hand can come in super handy and increase the likelihood that you will challenge your body with a workout, despite the obstacles life might throw at you.

We will be gallivanting through Europe for two weeks, so I’ve been thinking about different bodyweight workouts I can do while abroad. At the moment you may be thinking, “You are going to be on vacation, why are you thinking about exercise?” Well, you see, I need to sweat. First of all, I enjoy it, a lot. Second of all, I need it for my own mental clarity. I notice a significant change in my ability to think, handle stress and my happiness levels when I don’t exercise.  I am not saying I will be doing hour-long workouts every day, but I know that I am way more likely to do 10-30 minute workouts while on vacation. We also plan on walking and biking as our main forms of transportation, so I will get lots of movement in that way. Here are three total body workouts you can do anywhere without any equipment except your body!

Workout #1

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  1. Burpies
  2. Jump Squats
  3. Push Up to Side Plank
  4. V-Ups
  5. Lunges (split reps between each leg)

Workout #2

10 minutes AMRAP (as many rounds as possible in ten minutes)

Workout #3 (about 30 minutes)

Tabata (20 seconds of work, 10 seconds rest x 8 rounds each exercise)

  1. Jumping Jacks
  2. Squats
  3. Hollow Rocks
  4. Lunges
  5. Superman Hold
  6. High knees

Apps I plan to use while traveling:

  • Sworkit
  • 7 minute workout
  • Cards WOD
  • Seconds
  • HIIT Timer

What are your favorite bodyweight workouts? I’d love to hear about them below!