Category Archives: Health

4 Reasons Why Getting Back to the Gym Can Really Kick Start Your Workouts

I’ve been running this summer.  A lot. Well, a lot for someone who has never run before. Down Cellar Studio | 4 Reasons Why Getting Back to the Gym Can Really Kick Start Your Workouts

My summer was really busy with work and other activities so I began running because I knew it was something I could do when I could find the time. No class schedule, no commitment. It’s been great to have that flexibility.

But, it can’t be the only thing I’m doing. Now that work has calmed down, and fall is approaching, it’s time to get back into a routine. I say this, like this was a plan. However, my realization about the need to mix up my workouts was anything but thoughtful.  4 Reasons Why Getting Back to the Gym Can Really Kick Start Your Workouts

On Tuesday night it was still in the 90’s after work and I declared it to be too hot to run outside. I drove to the gym with the intention of running on the treadmill. In fact that would be changing it up, because I’ve only been running outside… but I digress. While in the locker room I ran into my friend Kim who asked me to come to Zumba class instead. The timing was right and there was a good instructor teaching. I figured “why not?”

It didn’t end up being my favorite class [mostly I’m just being a brat, because I miss my “regular” instructor who is fantastic] but I spent most of the hour realizing that there are so many benefits to being in the gym and in a class setting in particular that I’ve been missing out on.

Benefits of Classroom/Group Workouts:

  1. Looking at yourself in the mirror. Yes, we all do this daily when getting ready for work, picking out outfits etc. I’m not talking about that kind of looking in the mirror. I’m talking about the kind where you’re looking at yourself from all different angles, moving around, dare I say jiggling around… It’s different. Trust me.  I know I’ve gotten a little fluffy this summer. I’m not thrilled with it. I know I can work it off, but it’s very eye-opening to really be forced to see yourself. For me, that’s great motivation.
  2. Talking with others. Even if you’re not all that outgoing, if you attend group classes on a regular basis, you’ll inevitably end up talking to people. Gym-goers, especially women, are chatty. For me that has perks- things like accountability, incentive to come to see and catch up with friends, and also the sharing about what other classes folks are taking, new things they are trying… what’s working and what’s not? We gain so much by sharing with each other. Just last night I heard two ladies talking about how sore they were and how great some class was. I inquired about what it was and we had a great conversation that gave me an idea about other classes to try.
  3. Seeing each other’s progress. Whether you talk with other folks at the gym or not, you’ll likely see the same people who are in a similar routine as you. That means you can see their progress. I find that to be really motivating. If someone has lost a lot of weight and maintained it, or looks like they’re really toned up or slimmed down in the month since I’ve seen them that’s a great wake-up call for me. If they can do, I can do it. Stop making excuses. I’m sure their life is busy and they love ice cream too. Stop the madness :)
  4. Making otherwise boring workouts interesting. I hate lifting weights. Hate it. It’s so boring. But I really enjoy a class at my gym called “Lengthen & Lift.” It’s a 45 minute class that combines strength training, stretching, a bit of mediation and sometimes a quick massage at the end. It’s hard and I always wake up sore the next day, but really each of the exercises themselves aren’t difficult; they’re things I could easily do at home with free weights. But I don’t. I can’t/won’t/don’t force myself to do it. So if I can just convince myself to walk in that door for class it a) forces me to stay for 45 minutes and  b) makes it enjoyable with good music and a delightful teacher.

So these past two days back at the gym have been a good wake-up call for me, and I’m even more motivated to go back on a regular basis.

That said, I’m not nixing the running. In fact, I’ll be running my first 5k (at a charity event with friends) in just a little over a week! If you want to see more about my running check out:


On Running: The Gear

On Running: The GearI don’t really have any super fancy running gear but what I have works well for me, so I wanted to share that with you as I know we have a lot of runners or soon-to-be-runners in our community.

Clothing & Sneakers

          • Bottoms: I typically wear Old Navy Active Compression Capris. I love that they stay in place and are just no fuss. Plus they’re reasonably priced and easy to find!
          • Tops: On days when its not really hot, I typically just wear a ribbed cotton tank from Old Navy. I do have some better, athletic-wear tank tops with moisture wicking qualities, but none I like so much I can honestly recommend them to you. Stretching
          • Sneakers:  I wear ASICS Women’s Gel-Kayano 19 and have worn the Kayano’s since I started for the Breast Cancer 3 Day back in 2008. They have never failed me. That said, I highly recommend getting fitted for sneakers to see what works best for you.
          • Socks: It took me a long time to find socks that worked for me. When I was training to walk 60 miles in 3 days, I needed socks that would prevent blisters. After many failed attempts, I finally found the Feetures! Light No Show Socks. They aren’t the cheapest socks, but I’ve had most of the ones still in my rotation for 6 years now, so I’d say I’ve gotten my money’s worth. They fit snugly to my feet which means there’s no movement or rubbing. They are nice and light and especially for shorter walks and runs I don’t have to worry about sweat. I wash and dry these normally and they’ve held up really well [affiliate link].


    • App: I use the c25kfree app for iPhone. I can’t recommend this highly enough. I have literally gone from zero running to 28 minutes of running at a time in 8 weeks. To me, that’s the stuff of miracles!
    • Armband: I bought the Mediabridge Sport Armband for iPhone 5/iPhone 5S from Amazon and while I was skeptical that I could like an armband, it’s worked really well for me. On days when it’s brutally hot, I switch arms half way through the run, but mostly it doesn’t bother me at all. It’s easily adjustable and could easily fit an arm much smaller or larger than mine [affiliate link].

Post Workout Tools

  • Tiger Tail Rolling Muscle Massager: I bought the 22″ size a few months back after my mother’s personal trainer recommended it to her. I tried it during a weekend away, and when I got home, I logged on to Amazon and purchased it. I try to roll out my calves and quads before and after every run to lengthen the muscles and give them some overall love. When I do it consistently, in combination with traditional stretching, my body recovers much more quickly than when I skip these important steps [affiliate link].

  • Then, a couple weeks later a package arrived from Amazon (courtesy of my awesome Mom) containing a Massage Mitt- Palm Shaped Massager w/ Rotating Rollers. This tool costs less than $7 and while I don’t believe a word of description regarding removing cellulite, it’s the most amazing massage tool I’ve ever tried. I rub this against my calves, particularly when I have some stubborn knots and those rotating ball bearing really get in and do the job! And if you can get someone to use this on you while you totally relax, the experience is even better [affiliate link].

I hope some of these will work for you! If they, do please come back and leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you. Or if you have recommendations for me- please share! I’m always looking for things to better my experience.

A note about Affiliate Links: if you choose to try out any of the products listed here and you click through my site, I get a small percentage from Amazon at no extra cost to you.

The Best Natural Deodorant Is Already In Your Fridge

I have been on a quest for the past 6 years to find an organic, natural deodorant that won’t leave me stinking like a homeless person by noon.  I have found some success but nothing that is a real, easy, full-time, rest of my life solution…. until a few weeks ago that is.

Why natural deodorant you may ask? Who cares? 

There are all sorts of nasty chemicals in your traditional deodorants and antiperspirants.  While potential links between deodorant and cancer are still unclear, the aluminum that does such a bang up job of stopping your pores from secreting liquids (aka getting sweaty) can also have other harmful side effects. Will it cause cancer? Experts still say no. But frequent use of aluminum can cause “estrogen like” effects in the body which simply means that cancer cells are more likely to grow. Not good. For further reading, click here.

Bottom line is that I try to avoid chemicals in all of my health and beauty products whenever possible, but I can’t go to work smelling disgusting, so I had to try something.

Attempts #1 & #2: Purchased Products

I started with Tom’s of Maine. I enjoy their toothpaste and they’re a big name in the naturals world. They’re available in a lot of stores, including Target, so it was easy to find. I enjoy their lavender scent and so I gave it a try. For me, it worked reasonably well in months with more moderate temperatures, but I was always left wondering if today’s going to be an OK day, because when it doesn’t work (and there are plenty of those days), it gets really stinky really fast. At least if you reapply, the lavender scent will do a decent job at masking other unpleasant smells, but it doesn’t inspire much confidence overall.

From there I figured I’d try something a little higher end. I don’t use Origins products but my best friend swears by them and has flawless skin, so I gave their Origins Organics Totally Pure Deodorant, a try. I didn’t love the way it smelled, you’d mist it on and it felt a bit wet, and it wasn’t 100% effective at preventing odors, so with the higher price tag, it certainly didn’t seem to be a good investment. In researching this I’ve found the product is not available anymore so I won’t belabor this since you likely can’t find it and bottom line is- I do not recommend it.

Attempt #3: Mixed at Home Product

Then I took to the internet and found a myriad of recipes online. Many called for obscure ingredients that I wasn’t willing to shell out $20 just so I could use 1/4 of a teaspoon in a recipe, so I went with a simple mixture of approximately 1/2 coconut oil + 1/2 baking soda. That works great and I was overjoyed to use just ingredients already in my pantry. It’s cheap and easy. I usually store it in the bathroom (though when its extremely hot it can be useful to store in the fridge because coconut oil becomes liquid at higher heats).

I have been using that for over a year and I love how effective it is at stopping the stink.  BUT when its really hot, and I still give into paranoia that maybe if I don’t apply enough I’ll wind up stinky… I get a little too heavy handed and it clogs my pores– which hurts, and then I need to lay off and go without deodorant for a good week. Not ideal.

The Answer That Just Fell Into My Lap

Just about a month ago I was visiting with friends for a scrapbooking weekend, and my friend Christine carried her lemon wedge out of Panera on top of her cup but never put it inside her drink. Finally I had to ask “are you going to put that lemon IN your drink??” to which she replied in sort of a hushed tone “No… I’ll explain when we get outside….”

We got outside the restaurant and she explained that she uses lemon as her deodorant!


I will admit I was a little skeptical. There are so many combinations of recipes out there on blogs from desperate women all over the world who want a natural deodorant and Christine is telling me that the best deodorant (that I don’t even have to stir together or dirty measuring spoons for) is already in my fridge? She’s never lied to me before and I literally did have a lemon in my fridge at home, so when I got home from our weekend away I tried it.

And guess what?  It works.  No smell at all! It’s amazing. Simple. Cheap. Requiring almost no time. Brilliant! And if you forget your deodorant on vacation, you can like snag a wedge instead of putting it into your beverage!

Lemon is a great natural deodorant that won't leave you stinky!

A few other tips about what I do:

  • Cut off one end of the lemon to expose some of the inside of the fruit and apply to underarm skin daily after you wash up.
  • Store your lemon in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
  • After a couple days, cut a thin slice off the lemon so there is more juice at the surface and continue that way until your lemon is gone. [It will last many weeks]
  • Be careful apply after shaving. That may sting a little, but it you give it some time after you shower, it shouldn’t hurt.
  • It will take a second to dry, so I recommend applying it before you get dressed.
  • I haven’t noticed any staining on my clothing at all, but I can’t say for sure that this will never happen, so just something to keep an eye out for.
  • Keep this “special lemon” in a separate, easily identifiable container in your fridge. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb to say that if you’re spouse unknowingly puts a wedge of this lemon into his or her water, he/she may be more than a little annoyed (and grossed out). Fair enough. Don’t be that person!
    • I joked about labeling the plastic container I keep mine in with “ARMPIT LEMON” although I relish the idea of how funny that is, it hasn’t been necessary. Dan doesn’t eat lemons… and I keep it in the butter tray area where we keep our teeth whitening, other coconut oil/baking soda deodorant and, yes, butter, so Dan already knows not to eat those other things in that section of the fridge. But if it works for you, please do that (and then share a photo because I think its hilarious!)

Try it out! Maybe on a weekend when you don’t have many plans, in case you’re skeptical about it, but do try it. I feel confident that it will work better than any natural product you can purchase and it’s so much easier. What have you got to lose?

Want to talk more about natural products? What you’ve tried? What works and doesn’t for you? Please leave a comment below! I’d love to hear from you!