Easy Exercise #6

Change your environment to support your movement goals! Easy peasy! Your house and its organization influence your movement.  Built environment and how it affects your behavior is on the cutting edge of obesity research. Example: move your TV (or have NO television) out of your main living space so that when you come home and are feeling tired you don’t just plop down and watch a show rather than exercising.  Some simple things I did was place my half-domes (for calf-stretching) at my kitchen sink so I can wash my dishes and stretch at the same time and moved my yoga gear into a space in my bedroom so it beckons me before bed.  How could you change your environment to better influence yourself to move better and move more?

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Vacation Observations

Our recent family vacation was so needed and really was almost like a retreat for us.  We ate healthy foods, SLEPT!, had oodles of family time, spent most of our time outside in nature, walked a lot, and had lots of opportunity for spontaneous “natural movement.” After moving so many times in the recent years, plus new (3rd) baby, and a new job for my husband, life has been moving a little too fast; it was nice to slow down and be together doing what we love to do. Something I like to do, indulgently, is people watch and just observe whatever is going on around me (or within me). Here are a few of my observations from our vacation:

  1.  I can’t imagine not being a minimalist family.  I recall standing in line for airport security.  We had 1 family backpack (with mostly diapers, wipes, and a change of clothes in case of emergency), and the kids each had a small backpack full of fun stuff to occupy them on the plane.  The only other carry-on we had was my Ergo. We checked carseats and 2 suitcases.  That was it…for a family of 5 for 10 days. Many other families in line were bogged down by all the “stuff” they needed to take care of their children. Traveling with children is hard enough, I can’t imagine having to also drag around large amounts of extra items.
  2. Everyone sits around waiting to sit again on the plane.  I encourage my children to walk, jump, crawl, just MOVE, in anyway before getting on the plane. I spend some time stretching my whole upper body, especially my shoulders, as I know I am about to hold a squirmy toddler for hours in the relatively same position. I don’t mind people staring at me wondering what I am doing because I know that my arms at least won’t go numb or achy on the plane. However, I am not brave enough to…
  3. Not sit as expected in my airplane seat.  A while ago Katy Bowman of Nutritious Movement posted a photo of her squatting in her airplane seat and I really wanted to do it but…I am too afraid of “authority” to actually do it. I’ve been given the stink eye enough times just for having a sling on the airplane that I didn’t want to deal with explaining squatting on my airplane seat. 😉  But this is an excellent point demonstrating how our environment and societal expectations effect our movement and overall behavior.
  4. Sitting for hours at a time isn’t fun. I rarely sit more than 15-20 minutes at a time so sitting through a whole plane trip is tiring and made me quite achy.
  5. Children like to be helpful and probably are stronger than you think. Our children love to pull our suitcases and even the toddler was very excited to help share the load by wearing her own backpack.
  6. Mental acclimation to temperature is a real thing. We traveled from Minnesota to Florida and were quite warm when it was 60 * F out, but the native Floridians were shivering and piling on the layers.
  7. People still smoke?!!?
  8. People still tan?!?!? Like until their skin is a deep brown and not because they are trying to maximize their vitamin D levels??
  9. Apparently you need furniture even at the beach. A lady at the condo resort at which we were staying couldn’t fathom how we could go to the beach without also taking beach chairs with us.  And often we were the only ones we could see on the whole beach that had no furniture for enjoying the beach.
  10. Also, most people seemingly need shoes to walk on the beach.  Interestingly, those walking barefoot seemed to be among the healthiest we saw…especially among the retirees.  Obviously, not a random-controlled trial; however, even my husband noticed the pattern.
  11. Texture matters! Meaning the texture of the terrain you walk on.  We walk barefoot or wear minimalist shoes year-round and try to get off flat, level, concrete, and so have pretty “healthy” feet…but we still don’t walk on sand that often.  This became evident when my middle child suffered a minor extensor strain after two days of hours spent running around on the beach.  We took a day to slow down our movement and he was back at it the next day.
  12. One’s environment affects one’s movement.  I had been working out hard and moving lots before this trip…but because of the different setting and pattern of our days…I was sore! In a good way! All the different natural movement I was enjoying, was challenging to my body.

Well.  That’s enough for now I think.  Have you ever had any similar observations while traveling ?

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Healthy Holidays

So this post is a long time coming…I meant for it to posted before all the Winter holidays but alas I was bogged down by sickness, etc.  But this still works because other great holidays are coming up.  Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day and even the Spring Equinox (am I even allowed to write Spring as we have been having either -27 * F or 12 inches of snow??) So here it is, with some modifications: 

I love holidays, and I love them even more now that I am free to create new traditions with my lovely little family.  When thinking about what we want our holidays to look like, my husband and I take time to remember what we really value.  As a family, we treasure time together, being in nature, delicious & healthful food, moving our bodies, and creative expression. We let these ideals of ours guide what we say yes to and we let go of what doesn’t work for us.

At Christmas (or Valentine’s Day) my husband and I no longer trade gifts as neither of us have gift-giving as a love language.  For our children, we consider what they currently like and are asking for but will also reinforce our values.  Every year they receive presents that will encourage them to move their bodies and to get outside. This year, my eldest received skis so she can participate in a cross-country ski league (I am really excited about this! We are in our second winter in MN and LOVE how people embrace the season here. Lots of unique outdoor fun to be had here…like Nordic ski-skating and Olympic ski jumping!) Also, the children received a Gorilla Gym set as a group gift. This momma might have already played on it lots too!

For food, we try to make it ourselves from scratch with local, seasonal foods and even better if we have grown or otherwise procured it ourselves.  A favorite for Christmas time is to get out a nutcracker with a bowl full of WHOLE nuts and place it where the children can reach it.  I easily give up on nutcracking, but my children love it.

For the impending sugar-fueled holiday (aren’t they all??) Valentine’s Day…we like to make our own candies and chocolates with real food ingredients.  Then, we take a little walk gifting treats to our neighbor friends. For their Valentine’s Day card exchange at school, my children made their own Valentines.  We used materials we had on hand, and the children got to express themselves creatively.  Lauren made prints and Benjamin made clay hearts. As for my husband and me…well this year he is working so no special date night for us.  But last year we celebrated our favorite Valentine’s Day yet by attending an event at a local nature center.  If you are local to the Twin Cities area and still don’t have any plans, you should go!  https://www.threeriversparks.org/events/Groups/valentine-programs.aspx  If you are elsewhere in the country or abroad…Check and see if there is something similar! Or do whatever feels right for YOUR family.  There’s no SHOULD in holidays (but there almost is HA! if you added a U), so think about your values and celebrate each holiday as best fits your family. I’m already looking forward to our annual Easter/Spring Equinox family bike ride and picnic (outdoors, food, family-time, moving our bodies, not so much creative expression…but there are flowers to enjoy).  For us it is a fitting way to celebrate the arrival of Spring and warmer weather/clear bike paths.

How will you celebrate your next holiday?


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Gathered #4

Time for another roundup of some of my favorite things (now I’m singing in my head, great!) from the past week or so. And don’t you love how my littlest one foraged food from the fridge all by herself and settled in for breakfast in bed (next to some of my favorite THINGS: half-dome, yoga strap and dumbbells).

I recently finished reading Down and Dirty: The Essential Training Guide for Obstacle Races and Mud Runs by Matt B. Davis. My favorite chapters were Chapter 9 GETTING OVER WALLS AND OTHER OBSTACLES USING PARKOUR with Matthew Willis, Chapter 12 INCREASING YOUR GRIP STRENGTH featuring Rob Butler, and Chapter 14 CREATING A BACKYARD OBSTACLE COURSE.  If you are looking for a quick and easy read with some  useful information, as well as inspiration for creating natural movement fun in your own yard for you or your kids, check it out.

Take a Break From Weights:  How to Train Intuitively

A great introduction to one of my favorite movement philosophies, MovNat, as well as a primer of how to program natural movement in your fitness regimen.  Please read this!


The Top 10 Corrective Exercises

Now, I also love alignment and correctives (thanks to Katy Bowman!) so it was neat to read another biomechanist’s work.  Has videos and great explanations.



Let me know what you think!

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Scavenger Hunt #5

So the holidays are upon us, which is great! I love this time of year:  food, family, friends, lights, love, all that good stuff…But all with all the hustle and bustle, we often find ourselves stressed out and not feeling our best either.  How could this holiday season be different? How can you fit movement into your celebrations and festive preparations? Can nature be part of how you celebrate?  How can you slow down, but enjoy more? Will the gifts you give reflect your values?  Give all this some thought and comment if you wish!

PS Photograph is from Christmas day in 2013…I’m pregnant with our third child.  We had hiked around my in-laws property and built a fort, then took a little rest in the snow.

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Functional Fit Bit #11

I haven’t been weight-lifting as much as I would like so I jumped back into it last week. I did this while my kids had an after-school dance party.  I danced as a warm-up and as a cool-down, trying to do silly moves to include all my possible ranges of motion.

Plank 2 sets of 1 minute each

Left Side Plank 2 sets for 1 minute each

Right Side Plank 2 sets for 1 minute each

Deep Squat  3 sets  of 12 repetitions with 50 pounds (I used dumbbells, you could also use a kettlebell as a counterweight, holding it in a goblet position)

N.B. I propped up my heels on half-domes so I could get my “ass-to-grass.” Now I lift barefoot…if you have great mobility OR wear traditional trainers (the heel of your shoe will do the same thing as my half-dome), you don’t need to do this.

Double-Arm Dumbbell Row 3 sets of 15 reps with 25 pounds

N.B. Watch your form, keep your shoulders externally rotated and really bring your shoulder blades together at the end of the pull

Glute Bridge 3 sets of 20 reps

Push-Ups 3 drop-sets

N.B. I start with tricep push-ups until my form starts to fail, then I shift to wide push-ups until I literally can’t do another, then I drop my knees down and continue until I am a puddle on the ground

Right Static Lunge with Dumbbells 3 sets of 15 reps with 25 pounds

Left Static Lunge with Dumbbells 3 sets of 15 reps with 25 pounds

Have a great day!



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Fit Trip

Oh my…So I think I really am finally caught up from our vacation to Boston. Traveling is so wonderful but it can really set you back in life and in fitness, too.  Here is what I did to keep my body and my mind happy (same goes for my kids!) while away from home.

Well before leaving home, I spent some time thinking about our trip and how I could get movement into our days. Planning! I hate it but it really does work. Since it was a work trip for my husband the first half of our week, I knew my days in the city would be just me and our three kids.  I looked at maps to find places we could walk to that would be interesting and/or delicious.  The children and I walked at least two miles each day to various parks (Boston Common!), playgrounds, cafes (Flour!) and restaurants.  While at a playground, I made sure to hang, do chin-ups, and traverse the monkey bars in lots of ways.  I played chase and “hot lava” with the kids, and climbed whatever structures I could, whether meant for climbing or not. This always makes other children look at you silly. In fact one day, I had every child that wasn’t my own ask me what I was doing and then they asked if they could play with me. 🙂 Moving your body well and playfully really does inspire children, even those who aren’t your own!

While packing, I also thought about how I would be stuck in a hotel room while everyone napped each day, so I tossed a lacrosse ball and yoga strap in my luggage.  I almost brought a half-dome too, but I knew I could improvise with a folded towel.  With just these two props, plus a hotel towel, I was able to do my Mutu exercises, yoga, and self-myofascsial massage.  But the hotel gym you say? Yeah..no time for me in the hotel gym either, since husband was so busy working, but that is the beauty of bodyweight exercises.  I did squats, lunges, planks, pushups, and tricep dips right in my hotel room; no equipment needed!

The second half of the trip was at my dear friend’s home just outside the city.  Here too, we walked a lot (love walkable cities!!) and checked out all their favorite playgrounds.  But the best (movement) part of the vacation was our day trip to Castle Island…Rather than spend a beautiful day chasing kids around a museum, we touched the ocean, walked twice around the island, played at the playground, climbed rocks, had a picnic, felt the wind on our faces, saw seabirds and boats, etc. And it felt so good after so much time in a city and on concrete.

I returned home from our trip, feeling as strong physically as before we left…and dare I say it? I feel as if I had more time to move my body and practice self-care than in my normal life.

How do you move your body while on vacation? How do you fit fitness into a business or leisure trip?

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Gathered #3

I’m back from vacation and wanted to share some of the articles I’ve been enjoying.  Enjoy! And comment!

24 Fun Family Physical Fitness Ideas

Winter will soon be here, and while I encourage you to go outside everyday no matter the weather, it is always to have indoor movement ideas to get you and your family moving.


Stop Sucking at Pull-Ups

This article has great info on how to do a pull-up but SO MUCH MORE…Seriously, please read this, even if you think you will never do a pull-up in your life.  (And if this seems like a crazy goal, just start with a dead hang!)


Tip: Train Movements First, Muscles Second

Another T Nation article..Don’t be intimidated by this website…So much goodness here.  And I couldn’t agree more.  I try to incorporate a version of each of these movements whenever I intentionally “exercise”, especially if I am lifting weights.


Restrictive Dieting

Don’t do it.

Click to access CFJ_2105_09_Diet_Achauer2.pdf

Human Hands Evolved for Fighting?

Good read on anthropology and biomechanics regarding the function of the human hand.


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I feel it in my bones!

I’ve been thinking a lot about fitness progression. Hence my last two Scavenger Hunt questions I challenged you to think about. 😉  So how do you know when you are ready to try something a little more challenging, with more weight, etc.? Conversely, how do you know when something is too advanced for you? I often think we look outside ourselves for insight or we completely ignore what our bodies are telling us and end up with an injury.  I’ve been pondering when I can add back running or add heavier weights to my lifts and came to realize that I just need to listen to my body.

My children inspired this insight. One day at the playground, I watched as my eldest challenged herself to try a different, more challenging set of monkey bars.  While learning how to forward transverse she would only practice on stationary level monkey bars (traditional monkey bars), but once she mastered this skill, she attempted the swinging monkey rings. Meanwhile, my son was attempting to climb the slide without using his hands and my youngest, who had just recently learned to walk, was giving serious effort to walking up an incline.  All three children intuitively knew how to slightly scale up their current movement skills.

Then I started thinking about infant development and how a baby first learns how to hold up their head before crawling and then walking (NB some of this is culturally influence, not all babies crawl and onset of walking age varies greatly across cultures). No one tells a baby that they have to work on head and neck strength and control before they can walk, they just do.

One of my favorite aha! moments of watching my youngest learn to walk was how much time she spent squatting before walking.  She spent so much time holding a squat and then moving up and down squatting, first holding on to something, then without any support.  She put in the work to develop her glutes and lateral hips so that when she began to walk she had the strength to do it.

Babies don’t need personal trainers. Now they don’t have the problems modern life gives us (yet)…so as always consult a fitness professional if needed, but at the same time…give yourself some credit that you know your body, as well as some encouragement and tenacity to try something new today. I am participating in a MovNat (R) challenge through Instagram that inspired me to try something new (rope-grip chin-up). And I surprised myself by completing the exercise with ease! This motivated me to try climbing up the fireman’s pole at the playground and I did it, too! What will you try today? See if you can surprise yourself.

PS Check out MovNat (R) online for lots of great natural human movement inspiration and Original Strength for fitness inspired by child development.

PPS Join the #movelikeananimal challenge on Instagram!

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Functional Fit Bit #10

This is from a few days ago (before the kids were sick)…I didn’t feel up to weight lifting so I did a quick HIIT (high intensity interval training) routine focused on functional moves; I mixed up a variety of aerobic exercises, squats and lunges, pushes and pulls. Any questions, comment or message me! I am happy to help. 🙂

I did 50 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest for 12 rounds. AMRAP (AKA as many reps as possible, working out at your maximum)

  1. Jumping Jacks
  2. Untucked Squats with Pulses
  3. Rope-grip Chin-ups
  4. Crawling
  5. Skipping
  6. Bulgarian Split Squat (L Leg)
  7. Bulgarian Split Squat (R Leg)
  8. Push-ups
  9. Jumping Jacks
  10. Deep Squat
  11. Reverse Lunges
  12. Push-ups
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