Gym for the win

It’s relatively easy to deal with being guy-free when I have the kids. They’ve met very few of the men I’ve dated, so the nights I have them (about 60 percent of the time), there’s not much change, apart from a lack of texts — although C. would occasionally come over for a cuddle and to watch TV with me, after they were asleep. Plus, I’m busy with feeding them, helping them with homework, and carting them about to various events, so I seldom have much time to dwell on my feelings.

But when they’re gone, that’s when the loneliness sometimes hits. So I discovered the place that I could always escape to: The gym.

fitness-motivation-quote-one-workout1It’s bright, it’s busy, it’s colorful, and if you can manage to drag yourself there and then MOVE, it makes you feel better and look better, too.

I go to a big, cheap chain place, and while it’s not fancy, it has everything I need and it’s always open.

If you’re new to working out, I love They have great workouts you can do at home (most of them require dumbbells, but there are bodyweight workouts too), and they provide great instruction on proper form. (Plus, I just find Kelli and Daniel fun to watch.) I’ve learned a lot of exercises that work well at the gym. Their videos on other matters — such as supplements, nutrition, thigh gaps, etc — are also quite good.

Because there’s a lot of woo in the fitness world, I like to get a lot of my fitness info from Coach Taylor Simon and James Fell, two of my favorite fitness writers, who I think provide scientifically sound advice.

I don’t have a particular routine. I go when I can (which is about three times a week when I don’t have the kids that weekend, and usually once when I do). I do a good active warmup¬†beforehand and stretch afterward. I try to do two sets of two different exercises for each body part, more for abs and glutes. Sometimes I use the treadmill, too, although I’m not a runner, so I generally prefer to walk at a high incline. (Walking backward at a very slow, safe pace can be a good workout too!) In the summer, I also prefer to get my cardio outdoors by hiking or kayaking or something similar.

If you’ve never been to a gym before, check out A Beginner’s Guide to the Gym from NerdFitness, which is a great community for those who are new to fitness (and/or are nerds like yours truly). There’s also an article on gym etiquette.

And don’t be nervous — I know a lot of people are, especially if they’re new to working out or feel out of shape. Even at my college-town gym, I see people of all shapes, sizes, and ages. If you want to check out the gym before you join, see if you can check out the gym with a friend first (a lot of places let you bring a guest), or get a day pass. If you don’t feel comfortable there, check out a couple of other places. But almost everyone is there just to work out and do their thing.

Self-care on a budget

Am I the only one who gets tired of self-care lists that include pricey crap? “Take yourself out for a mani-pedi!” Well, sorry, I don’t always have an extra $80 burning a hole in my pocket.

Here’s my list of affordable ways to care for yourself:

  • Take a long, hot bath.
  • Do your hair and/or makeup.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Enjoy a cup of coffee or tea in a “happy place” — on your front porch (which is where I escape from my kids), the back deck or a favorite cafe.
  • Journal.
  • Write a gratitude list.
  • Color. (You can find many beautiful coloring pages for free online.)
  • Go to bed 30 minutes earlier than normal.
  • Paint your own nails — or, if you’re as bad at it as I am, have a friend do it, then return the favor.
  • Meditate. (If you don’t know how, try the Headspace app — the first 10 sessions are free — or choose a guided meditation from Youtube.)
  • Make yourself a favorite meal or dessert.
  • Do some yoga. (Check out FitnessBlender’s “Stress-Busting Yoga Pilates Workout.”)
  • Call up someone you haven’t talked to in a long time.
  • Unfollow someone on social media whose posts always annoy or upset you.
  • Take a nap.
  • Buy a new book, or hit the library.
  • Prep some healthy snacks and keep in the fridge so you’re not tempted to grab junk. (I like to buy some favorite fruits and veggies and prep them as soon as I get home, then put into Tupperware.)
  • Do a “tech detox” for a few hours (or even a whole day, if possible).
  • Spend time in nature.