Seriously, I Don’t Have a Gym Membership

I am well aware that there’s a lot of problems with this statement. Draft after draft of this post butt up against them and I kept trying to counter any argument that could be made and make sure I didn’t leave anyone out. Exhausting.

So… Disclaimers

1. I am not anti-gym. I love the gym! My mom just joined a gym and I am so proud of her! If you love the gym, please, go forth and get swole as hell and then come and tell me all about it. I am proud of you too!

2. I’m not asking people to give up their gym memberships and join me in some at-home workout cult or pyramid scheme. Or making some claim that you don’t need to work out and that eating chips on the couch is the best workout of my life. (But I do wish that was reality.) With this post, I want to share the strange encyclopedia of free and low cost workouts that I use daily to stay in the best shape of my life.

3. I am by no means jacked with a six pack you can rest a giant block of ice on and then break with an ice pick (I saw this once) but I am personally, in the best shape I have ever been–better than when I did have a gym membership.


So…What happened? 

I let my last gym membership fizzle out. I was transitioning from one phase of life to the next and I was honestly burnt out of the “lift heavy, run sometimes” mindset. I was low on dough and low on motivation. A terrible combo.

I decided the best solution was to give heavy lifting a rest (goodbye squat PRs) and focus on shorter workouts I could do from home. I needed to save time (so I could freelance to make extra income) and money (because again, rough times = broke). It sort of happened naturally and getting sick of the gym didn’t mean I was sick of working out.

To get started, I invested in a few key pieces–couple of dumbbells, a jump rope– and re-purposed others. I use a wooden storage box as a bench. I hang bands from door frames. I actually did box jumps on a couch once… And I did some research.

BTW, an added bonus to working out at home is zero excuses. I am really stubborn with time. I like to be able to do what I want, when I want. Having my home be my gym, instead of traveling to one, has been INCREDIBLE. It’s always open on my schedule and it’s there whenever I want… or don’t want.


So… Here they are finally…

That was a really roundabout way for me to get where we are going. In the end I just want to give people proper tools to get fit at anytime, anywhere, on any budget. I think it’s so important to get your sweat on, and money is the last thing that should hold you back from being your best self! I am only including programs I have participated in.

There are many more I’ve researched, but these are my favorite resources. The workouts range from TOTALLY, HONEST-TO-GOODNESS FREE to Eh, There’s Some Cost Associated Here. Let’s begin…


Yoga With Adriene – Adriene goes to the top of my list because her videos aren’t just free, they’re amazing and life changing. (No BS!) I’ve never loved yoga, but went occasionally because I knew I should. Adriene’s funny, calm, sweet, forgiving, wonderful way taught me to have fun with yoga and to also be gentle with myself. I look forward to her videos and find myself doing yoga far more often. She has videos of all lengths and types.

Find Her:


DoYogaWithMe – A second free yoga option is DoYogaWithMe because I feel like everyone needs to find their perfect instructor and though Adriene is mine, maybe she isn’t for you. DoYogaWithMe features a whole bunch of different yoga teachers with videos of all different kinds and lengths–all searchable.

Find Them:

Blogilates/Cassey Ho – If you’re a dude you’re probably thinking, “Oh Pilates, how hard can it be?” Freaking hard, dude, freaking HARD! To this day Casey’s videos remain some of the most challenging I’ve done. I even sometimes find myself yelling at her during the videos. But in the end, I love her. Everything on her YouTube page is free to use. If you fall in love she does have full programs you can buy as well. If you sign-up for her e-mail blasts you’ll gain access to her FREE monthly workout calendar that instructs you to use the YouTube videos in a structured and beneficial way. You don’t need to figure it out on your own! Plus, she just has a really good energy.

Find Her:

Betty Rocker – For a long time Betty was all I did. Morning, noon, night. She has an amazing band of followers whom I’ve bonded with via social media for YEARS. Literally, years! She hosts great challenges and is truly inspiring. Her recipes are amazing. If you like her freebies, she also has more complex routines available for purchase.

Find Her:


Tone It Up – I’ve switched it up and done Tone It Up before as well. They fall lower on the list because some of their challenges are just far too intense for me. They have you working out a lot and doing A LOT of cardio. But, it’s a great way to mix up your routine if you feel stuck and in need of a good push. All of their workouts are FREE if you sign-up for their e-mail blasts. They tend to shill a lot of things to purchase (from meal plans to bikinis to towels) but if you’re just in it for the workouts, it’s well worth signing up. They have a good energy and an INSANE following.

Find Them:


These programs aren’t free but in the long run, fairly reasonable to buy.

Hot & Healthy Habits – With a hashtag like #OMGNeverDietAgain, you have to love these ladies. I bought their 8 Week routine for something like… $12. It’s no longer available on their site but they’ve recently launched a FULL e-Course that focuses on not just workouts but healthy eating habits. NOT a diet. They’re workouts are perfect for doing at home and most can be done in 30 minutes (or less!)

Find them:


Kayla Itsines – Omg omg omg. Where do I even begin with my love affair with the BBG? I love these workouts. They are TOUGH! I mean TOUGH! You have to be ready to sweat your ass off and WORK but they are amazing. Workout guide costs a little more than $50 but it is fully comprehensive and has been one of my go-tos for a couple of years now. (There is also a BBG2.) This routine taught me that yes– you can feel like you’re dying without a gym. I cycle back to Kayla still every few months to shred (and I mean SHRED) body fat. I have to cycle it in though because its so intense, I like to give my body other things to enjoy. Worth every penny.

Find her:

ZBody Fitness – No freakin’ joke. If you want to build a booty. Get thee to Zoe. I actually had to stop doing this for a time because I couldn’t fit my butt into my jeans anymore!! This is another one I need to pick back up for a good change of pace. If you follow her instructions exactly you will change your butt. It’s crazy effective. Book costs a little ($20) but it’s well worth it if you want to work on your butt 3x a week.

Find Her:



WHEW! And that’s it. These women are incredible and offer amazing services at low prices. They’ve managed to keep me in shape, happy, and totally, 100% on my own schedule– which my stubborn ass loves. 🙂

Never think you don’t have the time or money to be your best self. There are always options. You just have to look and work a little.






A Jug Fills Drop By Drop

Okay, wow, I haven’t written about fitness since May. And for awhile I thought about just getting rid of the section all together, but I feel ready to tackle it again. I’ve come to a place where exercise has become a part of my daily life. So much so, that I rarely think about “having to workout” or “having to eat clean.” Most of the time, I just do what I want.

If I DO catch myself thinking “but I have to” it usually means that I am too tired to workout and I need a break or that I probably haven’t been listening to my body and been nourishing it incorrectly. How did I get to a place where I can honestly say I am in tune with my body? BY BEING CONSISTENT.

Consistency with my exercise and eating has transformed the way I live and has helped me to become more balanced and happy. Let me break down how:

a-jug-fills-drop-by__quotes-by-buddha-47I Can Miss a Workout
By staying consistent with daily workouts, I never feel guilty if I miss one because I am tired, or stayed out too late, or am having too much fun with a friend. The old me always felt frustrated and angry with myself when I missed a scheduled workout. I was obsessive about making sure I hit every workout at the expense of my own physical and mental health. If I missed a workout I’d torture myself about it until I made up for it somehow. I was also trying to do too many workouts at weird times that didn’t match my schedule because I thought it was what I ‘should’ be doing.

Now, I schedule in 30-45 minute workouts 6 times a week. I follow Kayla Itsines BBG most of the time and it has taught me that a lot can be done in a short amount of time. And it can be done at home. By making my workouts more accessible to myself and planning them in when I have no other commitments, I am more apt to do them more often and with great consistency. Their length hardly matters, it’s how often I do them and what I am doing.

I Can Eat What I Want
This is where people want to talk about genes and that I’m lucky and so forth. But that’s really not the case. If I didn’t move my body and just filled it with chemicals everyday, I’d probably look and feel a whole lot different. Actually I know I’d feel TERRIBLE.

Not genes, just self love. 🙂

I don’t follow a meal plan or a diet or anything restrictive or crazy. I tried that, I tried many different ways ,and all it did was make me feel depressed when I cheated on it, depressed when I followed it, and generally just sad. Finally, all I wanted to do was eat and not calculate how far I’d have to run to burn it off. So I follow some loose guidelines I made up for myself:

-I try to eat mostly “real” foods (I try to stay away from chemicals and over processed junk)

-I try and get my recommended daily intake of EVERYTHING. (This includes meat, dairy, grains, fruits and vegetables.) The best thing that comes from this is that I am eating a little bit of everything and keeping my vitamins diverse.

-I only dine out a couple times a week. (Last night I had an entire pizza and didn’t even feel guilty.) And most of the time try to make smart-ish decisions while I am out (veggies etc.).

-When I’m hungry and it’s just a regular, old day with nothing fun happening I’ll eat veggies, fruit, whole grains. Doing this on boring days makes it so easy to splurge on fun days.

I love breakfast.

I Am Doing Something Good For Myself Everyday
I have never loved myself more than this moment. Right now. I am eating right. I am moving my body. I am resting when I need it. It’s like I finally feel an amazing synergy through everything and from that I’ve learned to love my body just the way it is, just the way it looks and feels. I am respecting the one home I was given.

No One Else is Dictating How I Care for Myself
Everything I do is because it makes me feel good, makes me feel happier, and makes me healthier. Yes, I truly believe that housing an entire pizza last night makes me healthier. Because my mind is right.

My proudest day. 🙂

The most amazing thing about this is that each part fuels another part. Because I trust myself to move my body, I can indulge, because I love the way my body looks no matter what, I want to move it more, because I move my body more, I can enjoy lazy days in my bed with my dog.

I have to say that this was not an easy process for me. I started my healthy living YEARS ago when I decided I wanted to start working out again. I was 21. 7 years later and I feel like I finally hit my stride. It was long, and I had to learn a lot, but the payoff has been amazing. I finally love my body! (Hurrah!)

My advice to anyone looking to get in touch with themselves and their healthier sides is to just be consistent. If you can’t put an hour in at the gym everyday, than play outside with your kids for 15 minutes before dinner, if you can’t live without chocolate, have a little everyday instead of trying to cut it cold turkey and then bingeing. Do a little everyday… and it will add up. I promise.

Quick and Effective Memorial Day Weekend Workout

This is a weekend to remember those who have served us, relax, unwind, and welcome summer. That’s why I’ve created a short and sweet workout that you’ll be able to squeeze in anytime and anywhere. It only takes 15 minutes to complete and by the end, your heart rate will be up, you’ll be burning fat, and you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy one of my favorite holiday weekends!

I’ve focused on Arms and Abs for this one, because it’s officially crop top season. Enjoy and let me know how it goes for you this weekend! The workout appears below. Click on any of the images and be taken to the COMPLETE PDF that you can download and save!

Blog - Memorial Day Workout

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Blog - Memorial Day Workout3 Blog - Memorial Day Workout4

4 Times a Newbie

Here I am, reporting back from the front line of trying new things. Once I promised to report back on the new things I try, I was worried that I would miss the mark and live a boring week with nothing to say. I was tempted to fill my calendar with ridiculous activities but decided that I should let it all happen naturally. Just do me, as they say. Happy to report I tried four new things this week and if I was doing formal reviews, I’d recommend them all. The list is below. Click through to read about each one in detail.

I worked out with a personal trainer.
I started dry brushing.
I went to opening night of a play.
I attended a Yale/Harvard game. 

Continue reading

Trim the Fat: John Irving

I attribute a lot of my focus and drive to having a fitness routine. I’ve learned that consistency is key in both keeping a writing habit and a fitness regimen. I grew up like most young writers do, with a romanticized view of being a tortured writer. Drinking, addiction, and depression riddle the biographies of many favorite writers. In elementary school I worried I’d never be as great as Emily Dickinson because I had a social life. In college, I took shots from a Dylan Thomas shot glass to pay tribute to a man who drank himself to death. It wasn’t until later in life that I recognized the routine and resilience of literary greats like Maya Angelou, Stephen King, and today’s focus, John Irving.

Irving as captured by The New Yorker.

In New England, everyone has an Irving related story. He’s the Kevin Bacon of the North East. I myself have a few but none shine brighter in my memory than when I was first introduced to his work. I was about 10 years old when Hollywood came to town to film Cider House Rules at the drive-in theater on my street. They parked their trailers at my friend’s farm and I got to meet Tobey McGuire and sneak into the costume department. I watched the movie when it came out– it was over my head– and never forgot that my writing could one day be turned into a movie too. It seemed like the best thing that could happen to a person.

This was all happening before I was interested physical activity or serious writing. It is crazy to me that fitness and creativity are put into direct opposition during middle and high school. Students do it to themselves and teachers do little to diffuse the myth that you can’t be great at both. I once wanted to be in a musical and run winter track but the practices and rehearsals overlapped too often. Even though everyone was okay with my having a special schedule, I eventually quit track because I was embarrassed by the scene I had caused with wanting to do both. I wouldn’t try running again for another 8 years.

If you ever need an example of someone accomplished in both sport and word, look no further than John Irving. Not only has he published 13 novels, many of them best sellers, but he is also in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. He competed for nearly 20 years and coached until The World According to Garp was published. The sale of that book finally allowed him to become a writer full-time. Physical activity is still very much a part of his day and an important part of his sanity.

In a 2012 interview with Telegraph, Irving cites his mother as the initial motivation for his becoming a wrestler, “Irving’s mother introduced him to the sport and the discipline, the rigorous repetition of practicing moves over and over carries over into his writing process,Ariel Leve writes. It’s true. Irving himself mentions the dedication it took for him to lose thirty pounds year after year to be able to compete. (Irving’s natural weight is in the 160s but he wrestled in the 130 pound weight class.) Even though he is no longer competing, he still keeps up strenuous exercise to keep up his stamina during long writing days and if I can guess, from getting the dreaded desk gut that all who work behind desks fear. (I know I do.)

Irving’s at home gym. Courtesy of

These days he writes for 8 hours a day, hits the gym for 90 minutes, and then cooks dinner. It is rare that his day wavers from this routine and he sees his dedication to writing and physical fitness as compulsions he must give in to. In his Paris Review interview he says, “I don’t give myself time off or make myself work; I have no work routine. I am compulsive about writing, I need to do it the way I need sleep and exercise and food and sex; I can go without it for a while, but then I need it.”

Now, instead of being worried that I am not edgy enough, I’m worried that I’m not dedicated or healthy enough to be a great writer. I know that I could use my long work days and lack of concentration as excuses as to why I’ll never be as great as Irving, but those challenges are what make it so worthwhile. Every New Englander knows it’s the hard work you should be proud of. In fact, Men’s Journal quotes Irving’s high school wrestling coach who told him, “You are not an athlete. But you love the sport and you understand it, and if you can keep a match close, you will sometimes be able to beat athletes much better than you…'” The author, John Paul Newport, writes that “Irving seems more proud of how far sheer doggedness got him as a wrestler than of his actual victories.”

Doggedness it is. I many not be an author, but I am a writer and I love a good compulsion.