Category Archives: Health

A Healthy 2015

Hi folks. Pardon the lack of blogging lately! 2015 is shaping up to be a busy year and I haven’t had much time in the evening to write.

It’s been almost a year since I finally joined a gym and started going every weekday morning and almost a year since I had to quit gluten. After I pulled my back during our 2013 move and dealing with some lingering issues sitting in a chair at work all day, I decided to finally prioritize my health in 2014.

To be honest, I started stretching my hamstrings because I could not even bend over my sink while brushing my teeth without pain. I had to lean my arms on the sink itself to support myself while bending over. I was bending all wrong!

For the entire year, I practiced proper bending whenever I had a chance. Every time I bent to load the dishwasher, fold laundry or pick something up off the ground, I really tried to consciously utilize my hamstrings instead of forcing my back to do the work.

At night, I made extra effort to hold a strong stretch for 10-20 seconds while brushing my teeth. Slowly, slowly, I could reach a bit further until I finally touched the ground; First with my fingertips and now with my entire hand.

I have to say… I feel surprised, proud and impressed with my results. I could never touch my toes as a child, even in gym class at the age of 8, so to be able to put my entire palm on the ground really astounds me! I’m not sure if it is the gym, the gluten free-diet or both in addition to the stretching, but I’ll keep it up!

I plan to work more on my flexibility in the next year to improve it even more. Let’s see where I get by 2016!

Can you touch your toes?

Inside my Gym Bag

My gym bag is not very pretty. I use an old fold-up Totes bag that I “borrowed” from my mother. I’ve used it on many trips in my lifetime, from summer camp to packing as an extra bag to fold out and bring back as checked luggage full of chocolate and gummies from my first trip to Switzerland.

With the small handles and no cross-body strap, it’s not always the most comfortable to carry, but it was free to use what I had and works. Nobody said you need to spend extra money to work out.

So here’s what I’ve got stashed inside:

1. Wash glove: OK, I did go out and buy this. After a few weeks at the gym, I realized that it was hard to lather up and wash myself quickly and effectively without a loofah or something. I picked up this glove from a CVS in Puerto Rico and have been using it ever since. It’s maybe not my favorite, but the glove does give me a good exfoliation every morning!

2. Towel: Every other week I use my lighter, quick-dry camping towel that I had already or one of our smaller bath towels. Not pictured here is also my workout towel which is always a smaller quick-dry towel to save on weight and space.

3. Soap: I bought a bottle of camping soap for the container. It closes really tightly, but now I just refill it with whatever soap I want. I also have a travel size container with face soap that I refill. I store them both in a plastic bag I had on hand in case they would leak.

4. Plastic pouch: I think this was for a pillow or something originally. I stuff my towels in here to transport to the office without getting everything else in the bag wet. I pull out my towel at the office and let it dry on a rolling cupboard under my desk. Sneaky, sneaky.

5. Straightening Iron inside inside-out silicon oven mitt: This  was not in my bag when I had long hair, but the oven mitt was my DIY solution to finding a heat resistant carrier for my straightener. I also bought a new GHD straightener for short hair, but to be honest I’m not sure if I got a fake copy and I’m not totally sold if it’s real. It works alright though, so I’m keeping it till it breaks.

6. Shampoo: This also was not in my bag pre-hair cut. Now I wash my hair three times a week instead of twice a week and generally I do it twice during the week at the gym.

7. Deodorant: Used a lot in the summer, but TBH, I have stopped using it since it got cold out. I just lotion my armpits now and don’t really sweat during the day since it’s cold. I also don’t put deodorant on just to work out and then shower. It seems way more healthy to let the sweat glands work they way they are supposed to!

8. Lotion: I keep small tubes in my bag and lotion after every shower. I’m better about it at the gym than I am at home.

9. Dry Shampoo: For the days when I need a freshen up, usually on the third or fourth day with long hair, but already by the second or third day with short hair.

10/11: Gym card and hair ties: I keep these in one of the pockets on the front. I store all the hair ties and clips and claws to avoid losing them in the bag and so I can grab them easily at home for the next day.13. Armband for phone: Honestly, I’ve kind of stopped using this since I got a new phone with a leather case. I don’t like taking it out of the case and I haven’t figured out how to make playlists with iTunes on xperia. They just … don’t transfer! It’s one of the only things I don’t like about the phone. Listening to music is fine, but making a beat bumping energy pumping workout playlist is not happening.

14/15. Earbuds, Lock and Undies: I use the outer pocket to store these items. The lock and earbuds for easy access and the undies to keep them clean. I don’t know why… but undies are the only thing I have consistently forgotten. It’s happened a handful of times since I started and I don’t like to  be caught without fresh undies, so I keep an emergency pair. Used em twice so far!

16. Clothes: Each night I pick out my clothes for the next day and pack them up in my bag before I go to sleep. I even have to pick out my shoes and scarves and put them by the door because in the morning I’m so tired that I have no idea what I picked out anymore. I always pick out clothes the night before because I’m too groggy to make good fashion decisions in the morning and with the gym schedule, I only have 15 minutes from when I get up to when I need to leave. There’s not enough time!

Sometimes I’m even more proactive and I pick out the clothes for the next two days if I know that I’ll have an evening event the next day that would prevent me from doing my clothes planning when I get home. I don’t like to wake Kay up, so it’s easier to have the pile there ready when I get home late some days. Yes, you have to look at the weather and rely on it in order to do this.

17. Toiletries Bag: I store all my skincare, makeup, hair brushes and any jewelry I’ll be wearing for the day in here so that I can dump it all out on the counter and quickly go through all the products until they are back in the bag. If something isn’t used in my routine, I take it out.

18. Bag with Gym Shoes: I store my shoes in a bag to separate things in the main bag a little. I can use the bag to block my used gym towel from touching my fresh clothes or to block my stinky used gym clothes from touching something I might stuff in on the way home, like a coat, sweater or scarf.

Not pictured above would be my gym clothes that I wear on the way to the gym and store rolled up in my gym towel on the way home. That would be some yoga pants, running bra and top, socks, undies and my heart rate monitor.

Inside the toiletry bag:

  1. Makeup brushes. Tried to only bring the essentials, but I bring a little more eyeshadow brushes so I can do a normal eye or a smokey eye. I also have an eyebrow pen in here.
  2. 24h Maybelline Lipstick
  3. Mac False Lashes Mascara
  4. Jewelry, including earrings because I don’t have time to put them in at home.
  5. NYX Eyebrow Palette
  6. Clinique Blush
  7. Brush and Teasing Comb
  8. Armani Maestro Foundation
  9. Urban Decay Eye Potion Primer (a must, even at the gym!)
  10. Roller Eye Cream, speedy, speedy, speedy!
  11. Naked Basics Eyeshadow Palette
  12. Toner in Travel Size Bottle
  13. Day Cream with SPF 15
  14. Bag for makeup brushes

Sometimes I switch up my eyeshadow palette and I have a few more lipsticks in my purse at times, but for the most part I keep my makeup the same and just do different looks with the Naked palette.

What’s in your gym bag? I’d love to see you write a post and link back here with your must-haves!

Gym Hair: Long or Short?

When I started going to the gym every morning in February, I had very long hair. I’d thought for a long time about chopping it all off, but the thing really stopping me was my gym routine. I knew cutting it short would actually require more work and time than longer hair and that I would have to prepare for the cut by adding a straightener to my gym bag.

For a long time, I didn’t cut it simply because I wasn’t sure how to transport a hot straightener around my bag without burning a hole somewhere! After searching a long time online to try and find some kind of heat resistant cover or bag, I had the bright idea to just go to the grocery and buy a silicon baking mitt and flip it inside out to store the straightener. It works just great and the next night I chopped my hair off!

I was a little surprised how many of the regulars at the gym exclaimed how nice short hair is and how much faster it would be than long hair. Personally, this is just not the case. This length of short hair definitely requires a lot more time and effort on my part!

Short Hair:


  • Short enough that it is possible to wash my hair at the gym and blow dry it.
  • No more showering at night just to wash my hair and let it dry in the evening.  Uses less water at home and overall at the gym with the timed showers. Lets me stretch the use of my bath towel at home out further. (We are not a one-use towel kind of family!)
  • My hair doesn’t get caught under my gym bag or purse anymore! This used to be a small problem with long hair. I would sweep it to one side as I put my bulky purse or gym bag on one shoulder, but for the other shoulder I would inevitably get some of my hair painfully caught under the straps. Every. Day.


  • Harder to keep hair sweat-free while working out = needing to shower and shampoo a bit more often, especially after runs.
  • Harder to keep hair dry while showering on days that I don’t wash it. I have to blow dry parts of it and re-iron almost every day, whether I washed it or not.
  • Blow drying a whole head of hair takes SO much more time than not doing it at all. If I got some of my hair wet in the past, I used to blow dry a bit at the neck and my bangs when I had them and that was about it.
  • Straightening this short style takes a lot more time than straightening my hair at home once or twice during the week with long hair.

Long Hair:


  • I can tie it all out of my way pretty easily, even with bangs, which required clippies. The main problem with short hair is that it’s impossible to tie up the back at the base of the neck where the hairs are very short. Keeps the hair cleaner and sweat-free when I’m not washing!
  • Minimal to no blow drying required because the hair is drier overall. This saves so much time!
  • No straightening at the gym. Also, such a time saver.


  • Hair is too long and too much of it to have time to realistically shampoo and blow dry it at the gym. This did not really bother me much though, to be honest.
  • Extra showering at home specifically to wash the hair. Kind of a waste of water and I would have to plan when to do it between social events so it had enough time to dry before bed.
  • Hair gets caught under gym bag. But this is a general problem of long hair. Always gets caught under things, like the husband…!

Anyway, I really liked having long hair and knew that overall, it would save me time at the gym if I kept it long. I am really enjoying the new short do because it’s exciting to have short hair again after years, but the long hair was also really pretty and some days I miss how easy it was to pull it all out of the way, particularly on days where I’m caught running out of time with a half-straightened head of hair and running to catch the train.

With long hair, I would sometimes come to the gym 20 minutes later a couple days a week, but now I pretty much need to get up at 6:15 every day and alter my routine a bit to fit the shampooing in. Some days it means doing less eye makeup, but it still works out alright.

Does your hair length impact your exercise routine?

Swiss Saunas

I don’t know about you, but growing up in America, nobody ever taught me how to enjoy a sauna. My Dad’s gym had one and it was generally regarded as a nice hot room that you could go into for 10 minutes or so, in your bathing suit of course. I didn’t get it.

It wasn’t until Kay and I used one of our wedding gifts, a romantic weekend at a wellness hotel in the mountains in Switzerland, that I had the opportunity for Kay to teach me how the sauna experience here works.

1. Get naked. Most saunas and wellness areas here have a no swimsuit/clothing rule to cut down on bacteria in the sauna. Most people wear towels inside and by “wearing”, I mean sitting on the towel to keep sweat off the bench.

I don’t have any qualms about sitting naked in front of men and women in the sauna, especially since I started doing it with Kay. It’s just considered normal here, but sometimes I think about how strange it would be for a lot of my family and friends back in the States. Heck, even some of my German colleagues think it’s a bit weird how things are mixed here.

2. Take a shower to clean yourself. You’re going to sweat later, but this is to keep the sauna cleaner.

3. Get in the sauna and sit or lie down for 10-15 minutes, soak up the heat.

4. Exit the sauna and take a cold shower. In Switzerland at least, they often have fun means of cooling off either with over-sized rain shower heads, buckets that dump ice cold water over you, or a tub of ice cold water.

5. Relax for 20 minutes outside in the wellness area. Read a book, drink some hot tea and let yourself succumb to total relaxation.

7. Repeat the process at least 2 to 3 times. This is key! The same way you work the muscles harder with a few sets of repetitions, doing multiple rounds of sauna will unwind you further and further. By the time you leave, you’ll be nice and relaxed.

The pictures above are actually from a spa room in my friend’s apartment complex that she can rent out for the evening. (Sooo cool!) Using the sauna again reminded me that I have access to one through my gym, so I made a point to finally try it out. I’ve been going to the gym since February and had yet to check out the wellness area!

Now that Kay is gone for a month, I decided to make a bit of a thing by going to the sauna on Friday evenings. After my first time, I was SO impressed. I thought the gym sauna would just be a hot sauna and a place to relax in between sessions, but they had a 60ºC women’s only sauna, 100ºC mixed sauna, mixed steam room, lots of fun showers, including the never before seen cold bath… I was in heaven! They even had typical spa features like foot bath seats (with heated seats… OMG, the comfort!) and what seemed most impressive to me, was the hot tea in the relaxation area. It was like the cherry on top.

I was not expecting such a complete sauna experience from my gym, all included in what I’m already paying. I left after three hours the first Friday and two hours this last Friday. After both sessions, I came home feel warm and sleepy and I slept incredibly well. I will definitely be enjoying the sauna regularly this winter!

Now I just have to work on Kay to get him to switch to my gym so that we can visit the sauna on the weekend together when he’s back. It’s so close to home, it doesn’t make sense for me to pay to visit the local swim club wellness area (we did in July when it was so cold) especially when it’s even further away.

Have you done a proper sauna experience in a wellness spa? Would you ever go nude in a co-ed sauna?

Ryffel Running

Since I started the daily gym in February, I’ve been meaning to buy a new pair of running shoes. After a few months working out, my five-year-old Adidas were looking pretty worn down and I’d never really “run” with them before joining the gym. I had started looking for new shoes in a few stores and I was pretty overwhelmed by all the options out there.

Kay recommended that I check out the Ryffel Running centre at SportXX to have a professional analyse my feet and help me pick out shoes based on my feet and running style. I was over at SportXX one evening to pick up a replacement heart rate monitor band because I broke the one that came with Kay’s Adidas HRM, so I decided to have a look at the shoes.

A salesman approached me and asked me if I was looking for something and first I had to ask where the HRM bands were because I didn’t want to buy a whole new heart rate monitor too, just the band, but then I decided to dive in and just ask about shoes. Normally I pretty much abhor talking to sales people in stores, but I figured I would have to if I wanted an analysis and some help.

The salesman was so nice, he made me wonder why I don’t ask for help more often! He gave me a full analysis of my feet on their machine and seemed very knowledgeable about running. He spent almost a whole hour analysing my feet and then helping me try various shoes and watching my gait as I ran around the store in them.

In the end, there were not quite large enough women’s shoes for me, so he actually put me in a pair of men’s shoes. I think he was afraid of losing the commission if I wouldn’t buy that evening, but I’m a pretty impulsive buyer sometimes and after spending an hour there, I also just wanted to have my shoes sorted.

I wound up with this pair of Adidas Energy Boost shoes for around 200CHF, which is a heck of a lot of money for some sneakers, but I felt like I was paying for the service of him finding a good match for my running style. I sure hope he received a commission for that sale! Kay was also impressed that I spent the whole hour talking to this guy in German. It was like a mini-German lesson during the week.

The shoes are a nice neutral base to use for treadmills and I can start running a little with them outside. (Baby steps with running, you know?) I’m excited to use my new shoes and work on running more! In December, Kay and I are planning on joining the Silvesterlauf, which would be my first race as an adult.

Have you had your feet analysed to buy running shoes? What was your experience?