The Real Challenge Starts Today

Ok, ok, ok, I have to admit, I’ve kind of been cheating a little bit this month. No, I haven’t been skipping workouts, but in addition to home workouts, I’ve been working out at a gym for the past 2 weeks too. My intention was to strictly do the home thing this month, but my parting gift from lululemon was a consultation and month membership to AFS, a fitness studio that’s super-close to my new job, and I decided to not wait until August to get started (plus since someone else bought it for me it still qualifies as free fitness, right?).

Although it isn’t in my budget to meet with a personal trainer regularly, it was really helpful to have even a single session with one. Not only did she take measurements of my entire body so we can track results over time (I’ve never had this done before, I’m kind of excited), but she even wrote me a home routine to do when I can’t make it in for a group class, and she set a daily calorie goal for me to maintain (this is the hardest part, by far). So yeah, maybe weekly sessions with a personal trainer aren’t an option for you either, but meeting with one once a month, or every few months even, might be worth the investment to get you set up to workout effectively on your own.

And I have to say too, the group classes I’ve been doing have actually been beneficial to my home workouts as well. I was quickly reminded how much harder you push yourself in a class setting when there’s an instructor making sure you aren’t slacking off, and I’ve been trying to maintain that mentality when I’m working out alone and don’t have anyone making sure I get those few extra reps in. Plus, it’s always nice to have someone show you proper form and technique so you don’t end up injuring yourself, which isn’t that hard to do.

The real challenge starts today though, because Dan and I are out in Oregon all week for a wedding/extended vacation (I’m writing this from the airport in Vegas), and I’m setting an intention to not ruin all the hard work I’ve put in over the past month by overindulging during the next 10 days. Wish me luck. Hopefully all the hiking and swimming and farming I’ll be doing will offset the inevitable hipster restaurant and craft beer calories that are coming my way…

In the midst of a long layover in Vegas. How many calories does pulling the lever on the slot machine burn?

In the midst of a long layover in Vegas. How many calories do slots burn?




Abs Like Brit

Britney Spears that is. There was a time in my life, 2001-2002 to be exact, when I had a slight obsession with having abs like Britney Spears. Remember the “I’m a Slave 4 U” video? Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about.

At the time, I remember reading somewhere that she did 700 crunches a day, so I decided that I should also be doing 700 crunches a day—and I did…for a while, until I realized that 700 crunches a day is only really worth it if you’re a celebrity and the entire world is seeing your midriff. Right…

But because this month is all about the home workout, I thought I’d see if I could find Britney’s “Slave 4 U” ab routine online, and low and behold, I did (because unlike in 2001, you can find everything on the internet now), and I’m thinking about giving it a shot to see if I can reach 18-year-old Danne’s dreams. Hopefully I’ll have more luck this time than the younger version of myself did (doubtful):

Britney Spears’ “Slave 4 U” Abs Routine

And if 750-1,000 reps becomes too intense, I found this video on YouTube that looks pretty legit (and slightly less insane):

And of course, I’ve been pinning little ab workouts to my “Workin’ It” Pinterest board all month long too.

Anyone have any favorite ab routines to share?



Yoga on the Cheap (Read: For Free)

While I’m more than happy to pay for yoga (it’s hard to find a more lovely community of people to support), I haven’t found a studio in Ann Arbor that I’ve totally jived with yet, so I’ve been primarily practicing at home. Luckily, I’m a certified yoga teacher so I’m able to lead myself through a sequence, but for days when I’m feeling like I need a little guidance, I turn to Yoga International.

Yoga International is run by the Himalayan Institute, which is “a non-profit, international organization dedicated to serving humanity through educational, spiritual, and humanitarian programs” (as quoted from their website). They’re a leader in the field of yoga, meditation, and spirituality, and they offer tons of FREE classes online—not to mention countless articles, digital courses, products, and a whole host of other wonderful offerings. In short, take classes from expert teacher for free (although I do opt for the $5 monthly membership—because why not?).

You can check out their extensive listing of online classes here, and below are a few links to practices that I’ve personally enjoyed recently:

Stretch and Breathe with Rolf Sovik
Twist and Flow with Kathryn Heagberg
Peak Pose: Eka Pada Rajakapotasana with Jen Stout
Build Ojas with Gentle Movement with Ginny Mazzei

Enjoy yogis!

One-Song Workouts

Who’s heard of these? So fun, right? Just as the name suggests, One-Song Workouts take a song and assign a little workout circuit for you to complete while listening to it. And yeah, if you only do one you probably aren’t burning enough calories for it to qualify as a “real” workout, but do a few of these back to back and you’ve got a nice little home routine lined up. Here’s where you can find some:

One-Song Workouts on Pinterest
5 One-Song Workouts from Buzzfeed (you can play the songs from here too)

And here’s one so you can see what I’m talking about:




One, Fifteen, and Forty-Minute Workout Routines

So, a few months back I mysteriously started receiving Family Circle in the mail. Figuring it was either an accident or some sort of promotion, I tossed the first issue into the recycling bin and didn’t think much else about it. Then, when talking to my Dad a few nights later, he asked if I got “some magazine” in the mail, because Nana had got me a gift subscription and wanted to make sure I got it.

Now even if Family Circle might not normally be my jam, when your adorable 94 year-old Nana gets you a subscription, you read every issue cover to cover, no questions asked. Right after I got off the phone, I retrieved the issue from the recycling.

I have to say though, I’ve been enjoying the magazine a lot more than I thought I would. A lot of the stuff about families and kids doesn’t necessarily apply to me just yet, but they have some great articles and recipes, and when I was reading this month’s issue tonight, I found “3 Anywhere, Anytime Workouts” that I’m putting on my workout to-do list:

1-Minute Routine
Do 60 seconds of jumping jacks, with a squat in between each.

15-Minute Routine
2 minutes walk in place
2 minutes run or brisk march in place
2 minutes push-ups
2 minutes jumping jacks
2 minutes fast squats
2 minutes burpees
2 minutes lunges
1 minute plank

40-Minute Routine
5 minutes walk in place
5 minutes run/walk as fast as you can
5 minutes recovery
4 minutes go as hard as you can
4 minutes recovery
3 minutes go as hard as you can
3 minutes recovery
2 minutes go as hard as you can
2 minutes recovery
1 minute go as hard as you can
1 minute recovery
5 minutes cooldown


Diet > Exercise

Anyone remember that article from Time Magazine a ways back about Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin? The whole thing is worth a read, but the main gist of it is that you can workout all you want, but if you’re eating too much then you’ll never lose weight. Oh, right…

That being said, it doesn’t make much sense to do a workout challenge with expectations of seeing results without at least somewhat monitoring my diet, right? So, in addition to getting my home workouts in, this month I’m also using the app FatSecret to keep track of what I’m eating. While part of me kind of hates counting calories, another part of me is finding it really useful to see how many calories I’m actually consuming vs. how many I thought I was.

Plus, it’s helping me to make some smart choices when it comes to selecting one food or beverage over another—like the time I assumed tonic water was calorie free, wrong! It has upwards of 80 calories a glass and 21 grams of sugar, as opposed to zero in soda water (checkout this slideshow from Shape that shows how certain drinks stack up against each other calorie-wise). The more you know…

Anyone out there an avid calorie counter? Any tips and tricks for me?

Takin’ It Easy and Gettin’ Sweaty

It’s the last day of the month…again (how does this keep happening?) and although I’ve really been enjoying my practice of daily intention setting, I’m feeling ready to close this one out and get started on my next endeavor. What’s been cool about this challenge is that it’s felt like a month full of micro-lents; each day presenting a new challenge to put into practice and a means to narrow my focus. It’s been a nice reminder too that every day offers a new opportunity to begin again and to refocus—which is especially helpful on days when you might not be feeling your best. This challenge might officially be over, but I have a feeling that today won’t be the last time I use my little intention journal (I mean, it’s too cute to not use, right?).

So, what’s next on the lent menu? Sweat Once A Day. 

I don’t know how I’ve been keeping this blog for almost 5 years—and more importantly—how I’ve been working for lululemon for 2 years and this one hasn’t come up yet, but I’ve somehow never done any sort of fitness challenge. Say what?! 

Even though I’ll be the first one to tell you that I actually kind of hate sweating (I know, I know), no one’s going to argue that getting your heart rate up is great for you for a whole host of reasons. Since I’ve been slacking on doing any form of exercise that isn’t gentle yoga with an occasional Pure Barre class thrown into the mix, it’s time to get physical.

Here are my guidelines: 

  • I will do some sort of activity/workout that causes me to break a sweat every single day for the month of November.
  • This activity will preferably be at least 30 minutes long, but absolutely no shorter than 15.
  • 2 of my weekly sweats must be at a studio/gym.
  • I must try 1 “new to me” workout each week (because it’s kind of crazy that I’ve never been to a spin class, right?)
  • I sweat per week must be with a friend #sweatdate

The kicker is that last night towards the end of the Sox game—you know, the one where they won the World Series at Fenway Park for the first time since 1918, NBD—I started to get that “Oh crap, I think I’m getting sick” feeling. Perfect, just in time for my month of extreme physical exertion to start. I’m not officially down for the count yet, and I’m doing everything in my power to nip this one in the bud, but I’m a little weary to how this challenge is going to start out. Here’s hoping the orange juice, cayenne pepper and raw garlic concoction that I just chugged staves off this potential sickness.

Tonight’s intention: Take it easy.