Review: Gainz Box

I don’t know about you, but I love subscription boxes. There’s just something fun about a box showing up on my doorstep with cool, curated stuff just for me. I’ve previously done Stride Box, I’m a frequent Stitch Fix-er, we currently subscribe to o the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Loot Crate, and I recently signed up to try gainz box.Gainz Box delivers a number of specially curated CrossFit and weightlifting products to your door – now, disclaimer, I don’t do CrossFit. I enjoy following CrossFit athletes and many of my workouts use elements, but I’ve never been to a box nor have I ever done a class. That said, I still felt like gainz box has products that were for me! I was thrilled to receive mine this week and was excited to see how the products could work in my gym life.

Each box could contain the following elements: apparel, supplements, equipment, snacks, collectibles, and since the boxes are curated by different experts each month, you also get a bit of their knowledge.

The February box was put together by Julian Alcaraz and Miranda Oldroyd – both well-known and seasoned CrossFit Games athletes. The products included are some of their favorites and the included write up gives you details about what’s included, as well as some discount codes if you want to buy more!

The first thing I pulled out of the box was WOD Welder hand cream. This moisturizer is supposed to increase the elasticity of your skin and help repair your callouses, ultimately protecting them from nasty rips and tears. I have some gnarly callouses from all of the barbell work I do, and I can tell you I need all the help I can get. Plus, it smells good and isn’t too heavy or greasy. That’s a win!

You guys. I love tea. A lot. I drink tea every day – usually hot, because it’s the easiest to make at work. But yeah, tea is great. I was super excited to see this in this box and I was even more excited to see that it was just that: tea – nothing extra added, tea and water. Paleo, no added sugar. I had this at work yesterday, and omg. It was awesome. I need to get my hands on more of these, because it’s starting to get warm in Virginia and iced tea is my jam. Gimme.

Also included? A shaker bottle. I probably have… six… seven shaker bottles? Clay and I use these daily, whether it’s for preworkout or protein shakes. One can never have too many. I threw this one in my gym bag, where it will probably live permanently, or get migrated to my office, so I have one there. 

Getting new workout clothes is maybe one of my favorite things ever – and this box had not only this v-neck tee from Wod Gear, it also included a pair of socks. I haven’t tried those yet (I’m picky about my socks), but I wore this shirt to the gym yesterday and it was great. Typically, I don’t wear sleeved shirts when I work out, but this one’s sleeves are short enough that I didn’t get too hot. It’s a nice add to my collection. All in all, I was really pleased with what I got this month. This box is a little pricey – for the month to month subscription it’s $32, but the value is great. You’re getting approximately $75 worth of gear for about half the cost. And with the coupon codes included as well? Yeah. I approve.

I’m going to keep my subscription for another month or two for sure – I’d like to see what other boxes look like and I definitely don’t mind getting some new swag in the process. I’ll say it again, you don’t have to be a crossfitter to subscribe to gainz box – honestly, I found everything in this box useful to me as someone who weight trains regularly. If you do, too, check it out! You’ll get some great products, and maybe you’ll be exposed to something you haven’t tried before.

 

Mixing It Up

Ahhh… Summer. It’s been a bit of an exciting one so far. As Meridith mentioned last week, I got engaged a couple of weeks ago and have been kind of basking in that glow for a bit. Being the planner that I am, I have to fight my urge to jump in and start planning all the things right away, and remember to just enjoy being engaged. Which I’m not so good at, because I love list making and researching and all of that nonsense. Clay has had to reign me in a couple of times. Oops.

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Love this boy – so excited for what we have coming up!

But, there are definitely other things I need to focus on in the mean time, like making sure my bod is hotttt for my wedding day – it’s never too early to start that work. To do that, I’ve been trying to ramp it up and keep things fun and spicy in the gym.

I’ve been working on programming a healthy mix of HIIT, strength, and cardio into my training. This keeps me engaged and allows me to work on certain skills and endurance at the same time. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get bored when my workouts are the same every other day. I need variety. And so, this is what happens:

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That middle workout? Smoked me the first time I did it. Heavy sled pushes into burpee box jumps are no joke. Leg days have left me jello-legged and sore. My favorite kind.

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Cardio has been alternating between spin, running, and Kazaxe. I used to spin all the time, but back in December I changed gyms, which meant leaving my favorite spin instructors. Womp womp. It’s been hard to get back at it and find new classes that I like as much. But, I’m giving the new place the benefit of the doubt and trying out a few instructors – hopefully I’ll find some that I like!

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Don’t want to wear your fancy jewelry at the gym? Get a Qalo ring!

I’ve been trying to find the motivation to run outside, but the forecast for this week has the highs in the 90s and humidity at swamp-like levels… running mostly sounds terrible. I’m not training for a race right now, so convincing myself to get out there is tough. But, I am in the gym every day, and I don’t feel bad about that.

Cheers to summer and sunshine and sweaty workouts and exciting life events. I’ve got a lot of reasons to smile!

Finding Motivation in Unexpected PRs

I’d be lying if I said that the last couple of weeks in the gym have been stellar. In fact, the last couple of weeks have been anything but stellar, from both a gym and nutrition perspective. Have I been working out? Yes. Have I been eating healthy? For the most part. Have I also been totally exhausted and consequently lacking motivation? Oh yes.

It’s been really difficult to push myself on days that I have to work out by myself and even more difficult to convince myself to go run or do any kind of heavy cardio workout. I couldn’t even.

So, it was a really pleasant surprise that after my weekend away (hiking and camping and watching baseball), getting back in the gym this week felt good. It probably helped a lot that we mixed up our workout routine again – instead of lifting heavy, we’ve transitioned into more HIIT-inspired workouts with elements of CrossFit (kind of). The boyfriend is currently training for his next Physical Fitness Test, so we’ve put more emphasis on those elements: running, pull-ups, crunches, and supplemented with other conditioning and weight training.

These workouts remind me a lot of what I used to do in high school and college basketball practices. Lots of conditioning and strength training that kicks my butt and simultaneously humbles me and reminds me how strong I am. That’s an awesome feeling.

Never was this more evident than earlier this week: I hit a massive PR on my bench press and then cranked out more pull-ups than I ever have.

image1It was really the pull-ups that got me though, because we did them at the very end of our workout and I was totally gassed. We pyramid them, starting at 6 and going down to 1, before working our way back up to 6. That ends up being 41 pull-ups.

As a kid, I used to do gymnastics and could do pull-ups and chin-ups no problem. I would actually do them all the time in my backyard. But, add about 20 years and 100 pounds and pull-ups got really, really difficult. Last summer, I could barely do one. But, this winter and spring I worked hard on the skill and now I can string them together much better. So, it was a huge win for me the other day when I did our 6-5-4-3-2-1-2-3-4-5-6 pyramid without failure.

They might not be the prettiest, but I’m proud of them and the hard work that I’ve put in to be able to even do this many. Seeing how far I’ve come in less than a year gives me the motivation I’ve been lacking to keep pushing myself, to keep programming workouts that challenge me and force me to work on my weak skills. To turn those weaknesses into strengths.

Moral of this story: sometimes we have down weeks. Sometimes we struggle to find our stride, literally and figuratively. Sometimes, we just want to eat ice cream and cake and sit on the couch and watch the NBA playoffs. But, sometimes, looking back at where you were and the progress you’ve made can be just the kick in the pants that you need to get your head and your heart back in it. Our bodies are capable of really amazing things – I’m excited to see what the next amazing thing is.

 

Guest Post: That Time I Joined the Gym, Then Quit, Then Joined, Then Quit, Then Joined…

When it comes to joining gyms (and quitting them), I have quite the lengthy history. In fact, it goes a little something like this…

  1. In high school, I joined a gym. I quit the gym because I was headed to college.
  2. I went to college and worked out (a wee once in a while) in the fitness center.
  3. I graduated, moved home, and joined a new gym.
  4. I fell in love with spinning at said gym and religiously went to classes three time a week. I bought the shoes, the shorts, the whole lot. I was owning it.
  5. I quit the gym because I was moving away.
  6. I moved to Hoboken (with my then-boyfriend, would-be fiancé, would-be husband) and joined a gym. I loved it for awhile, especially one specific yoga class and teacher.
  7. I got engaged.
  8. I hired a personal trainer to get ripped and ready for my wedding dress.
  9. I got married. I went on my honeymoon.
  10. I came home and joined a different gym.
  11. My husband and I were moving to the suburbs so I quit the Hoboken gym and joined a gym in the ‘burbs.
  12. I got frustrated that I wasn’t going enough, so I quit that gym.
  13. I joined a cheaper gym.
  14. We got sick of the suburbs and moved back to Hoboken.
  15. I rejoined the Hoboken gym.
  16. I went pretty regularly for awhile and tried my hand at the various fitness classes.
  17. I grew frustrated.
  18. I stopped going.
  19. I quit the gym.
  20. I started purchasing various online vouchers for gyms and workout studios in the area. I had a blast redeeming them. I’d found my thing.
  21. I used up my vouchers so I joined rejoined the gym I’d quit a couple times before.
  22. I quit that gym again.
  23. I did a one-week trial at a new gym. I loved it. I loved it so much that I locked myself into a year-long membership.
  24. I don’ t love it anymore.
  25. And now I want to quit.

Also weaved in there were short-lived stints with running. But really, who’s counting?

I ran in the Phillips 5K the first year. I was slow, but heck, I finished!

I ran in the Phillips 5K the first year. I was slow, but heck, I finished!

I don’t mean to be hard on myself here, but man, that’s a lot of quitting. Looking at this list, I really have to laugh, too. It’s such a hilarious cycle. Each time I put my John Hancock on a gym contract, I really and truly believe in my heart of hearts that THIS IS THE ONE! And then I have a change of heart…

My latest fitness interest is hot yoga (there’s something quite fascinating about sweating, dripping, get absolutely drenched alongside 20 strangers). Who knows how long this interest in yoga will last, but I do have to figure out what I’m doing here (I can’t keep dropping money on one-off yoga classes when I’m still locked into about 9 more months at my gym.) As it stands, I Google “how to get out of a gym membership” daily.

So, yeah. When it comes to fitness, dedicated I am not. Will I ever get there? Your guess is as good as mine.

Oh, and sometimes I hike. Here's a snapshot of Sharon (left) and me (right) last summer.

Oh, and sometimes I hike. Here’s a snapshot of Sharon (left) and me (right) last summer.

Now I’ll tell you about something I AM dedicated to: Helping good people do good things. And “doing good” is exactly what my dear friend Sharon Phillips is accomplishing with the Christopher and Susan Phillips Foundation. This very special Foundation was started by Sharon in 2011 to honor her mother Susan (64) and brother Chris (27), both lost within days of each other from two separate cardiac-related events.

The Foundation hosts some fabulous fundraisers each year to help provide scholarships for students of Jonathan Dayton High School (the alma mater of the entire Phillips family) and Trinitas Nursing School (where Chris was studying to be a nurse).

Next month, on May 31st, the Foundation will host its 4th annual Phillips 5K/10K Run/Walk. This special event will take place at Lewis Morris Park in Morristown, NJ — and 100% of the race proceeds will benefit the Foundation and go toward future scholarships.

I’ll be there like every year, cheering participants on from the behind the microphone and helping to present ribbons to the fastest finishers. The day isn’t just about speed, though. It’s also about taking a few hours on a spring morning to come out and remember two lives well lived, two lives lost too soon.

Come be part of this special day. For additional details about the 5K/10K and to register online (pre-registration guarantees you a cool wicking t-shirt!) visit http://www.phillips5k.org.

So that’s where I’ll be on May 31st. Until then, I’ll be feverishly trying to get out of my gym membership. I’ll also be spending quality time with dear friends like Sharon — because when it comes to my friendship with her, I’ll NEVER call it quits.

Jodi Rigotti is the Senior Editor at Teachers Pay Teachers, an online marketplace for teachers to buy and sell their original lesson plans and other course materials. Her hobbies include cooking, exercising sporadically, and being nicer than some say is necessary. She currently lives in Hoboken, NJ with her husband (and college sweetheart), Dan.

A Day in the Life: Mer

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Wake up to the sound of birds chirping. Open one eye to peek at the clock and see if it’s worth going back to sleep or if I should just lie in bed. Alarm set for 5:10am. It’s 4:56am.

Damnitsomuch.

Lay around for a couple of minutes. Contemplate the use of lie versus lay and realize that it’s probably going to be wrong in this post so I might as well just get up.

Skulk around the house in hopes of not waking my family as I prepare for the gym. Skulking/preparing takes approximately 10 minutes. The pooch shifts in her bed as I’m sitting on the kitchen floor, putting on my shoes, and I freeze. She settles down. I grab my gym essentials (towel, water, wallet, phone, keys) and creep out the door.

It’s always interesting to see what song is on the radio; perhaps it will be an indication of the tone of the day? Maybe it will be Born to Run? Perhaps a little Radiohead?

No.

Well... okay then.

Well… okay then.

Head into the gym, chat with my trainer’s wife for a couple of minutes before she heads out on her rainy run. I decide to stick to the treadmill as I like to stay close by in case my trainer swings in early (not usually the case but it’s happened on occasion). Sometimes I run sprints on the nearby side street but since it’s gross, I stay inside.

But look, I took a picture of the one of the weight while the gym was absolutely empty. Because I promise you that if I took my phone into the gym or even took a picture in the gym when my trainer or anyone else was around, I would have to answer at least twenty questions.

And possibly get ridiculed for taking pictures of inanimate objects.

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The “light” weights.

My Thursday partner shows up a little before 6am and does a quick warmup before we start a set of FitDeck cards and a five minute treadmill run, until our trainer shows. Once he arrives, we move into his plan for us for the hour while talking about the news, society, my dad, my Dude, and a variety of other topics. Well, mostly he talks and I grunt out responses in between deadlifts, cleans, push presses, etc. It works out well.

At 7:10am I arrive home and fall back into the Mom Role and the family routine.

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There was a hot second of consideration toward straightening my hair. Maybe it was a half second.

Breakfast is the next order of business because I’m more than hungry at this point. Pooks heads out the door for the school bus after our usual “See you later, alligator/After a while, crocodile” routine.

Dude and I chat for a few minutes while I eat my eggs and toast before I realize that I need to deal with my arch nemesis… Laundry.

Said in the way that Seinfeld says NEWMAN.

Said in the way that Seinfeld says NEWMAN.

Throw that load in and immediately get sidetracked when I also realize that I need to start our dinner in the crock pot. Ten minutes later, I’m fighting with the can opener and glance over to see Gemma trying to eat the rest of my eggs.

Yeah, welcome to mornings in my house. Set Gemma up with the eggs (in her bowl rather than on my plate) and turn back to the task at hand of opening cans. Which shouldn’t be incredibly difficult, except when your can opener is a piece of poop.

Which mine is.

Little and I decide that we need to remedy this and head to CVS for a new can opener.

"Can I carry the new can opener?" Sure buddy.

“Can I carry the new can opener?” Sure buddy.

After Little and the cashier mutually express their admiration for each other, we head back home.

You had ONE job...

You had ONE job…

I defy you, can opener! And I’m able to finish my task of getting dinner into the crock pot.

All is right with the world once more.

All is right with the world once more.

9:30am – Little requests his favorite snack and drink and I head to the computer to do some work for Scoot a Doot. Instagram a couple of throwback pictures. Chat with Vic via email. Chat with Jess via text. Hear from my book club buddies about new books. Email with Jess and Cam about Disneyland half and talk about what we’re going to wear (priorities).

Prep lunch for Little and prep Gemma for a visit to the park once Little heads off to school. Our district’s Pre-K is a half day program so he’s picked up by the bus at 10:45am. Next year he’ll be in full day Kindergarten.

Soon enough, the bus takes Little off to school. Gemma and I hop in the car to go to the park.

"Momma! I want to play with everyone!"

“Momma! I want to play with everyone!”

The rescue we got her from (Bella Reed Pit Bull Rescue) is filming a video for pit bull advocacy/awareness. I wish I could say that she was the best behaved dog there but… well… she was a little wound and really excited to see everyone. Regardless, she had a blast and I was happy to help.

Oh, now you show up!

Oh, now you show up!

The ride home is filled with me singing and Gemma sighing at my singing. What, only you’re allowed to act a fool, Gemma? I don’t think so.

Geez Momma, you're SO embarrassing.

Geez Momma, you’re SO embarrassing.

Dude and I meet at h0me for lunch, as we do most days. It’s nice because we’re able to have conversations that aren’t interrupted by our kids. Heck, we even get to talk about our kids without their big ol’ ears around. And sometimes, we have conversations that don’t have to do with the kids at all!

After lunch there’s an hour of free time for errands. Today’s include a visit to the farm and getting my eyebrows waxed. I’ll spare you a picture of the brow waxing because no one needs to see that.

This is New Jersey.

This is New Jersey.

berries612Little rolls in at 2:20 and he’s excited to show me his memory book. Pooks rolls in at 3 and the first thing he does is check out the memory book, too.

"We both wanted to be astronauts in Pre-K!"

“We both wanted to be astronauts in Pre-K!”

Moments like these are when my heart swells in my chest, and I hide the fact that I want to smush their little faces together in a group hug. I hang back, I listen, and I’m so grateful that they are such good brothers to one another.

With the end of school coming up (next week), I get to work on the thank yous for our teachers and bus drivers as the boys entertain each other.

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Watch a little SYTYCD and then snuggle up with Pooks so he can read me stories that he’s written during the school year. After he’s finished, he asks if I can find “Happy” sheet music on the computer so he can start practicing it on the piano. I happily oblige. Thank you, Pinterest.

As he disappears, Little shows up, nose scrunched.

“Momma, what are you making that smells so yummy?”
“Oh, that’s Chicken Taco Chili.” (nonchalantly in hopes that maybe he’ll try)
“Ew, I’m not eating that.”

*cue sad trombone*
(I’m not surprised at all… he’s my pickier than picky eater.)

All this technology and yet we have no smell-o-vision.

All this technology and yet we have no smell-o-vision.

As we wait for Dude to get home from work, I fold laundry and Gemma “helps”. Her helping includes stealing socks and standing on the folded clothes while sniffing my hair.

I hear the boys downstairs. Remember that warm fuzzy feeling I described earlier about how loving they are with each other? Well, the tone now is decidedly less loving. The older one being crazy and the little one saying “Ow, ow, ow!” Hmph.

6:15pm – Dinner is served and to Pooks’ credit he tries the chili and even compliments me. Little has pancakes. Everyone is happy.

Gemma has a photo shoot scheduled with the same photographer who took her Adopt Me rescue pictures. But first, to make our lives more interesting, she’s found a bunny nest in our yard.

Yeah. No pictures of that either. Rethinking sharing my eyebrow waxing picture.

Dude and Gem are off to the photographer. Chat on Facebook about youth literature. I gently rouse Little, who’s fallen asleep on the couch, and get him into his pjs.

Instead I'll share my non-rabbit eating children.

My non-rabbit eating children.

Watch a little tv and read Little two books before bed. He’s ready to go to sleep a couple of minutes before 8pm.

Pooks hangs out on the couch with me and we watch Spongebob and talk about everything and nothing. Soon he leaves me for the shower, a book, and bed.

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I write the majority of this post (and figure I should document it for the sake of… I don’t even know).

And that is the majority of my Thursday, June 12th, 2014. I was saying earlier via email that I don’t think I realized how boring I was until this post, but I would like to amend that statement.

I don’t think I realized how lucky I am. I’ve got a good life.

As Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Indeed.