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What's in my Gym Bag


What's in my Gym Bag

I used to walk around like a crazy bag lady. Despite only having gone to the gym and work, it basically looked like I was living on the street. I was carrying so much and in different bags mind you, because it just couldn't fit!  

That is until I got my Infinity Bag from Go Dash Dot!  They've thought of everything!! Padded laptop bag? Check!  Sweaty gym clothes touching everything in my purse?  Not anymore! This bag contains a machine washable laundry pouch.  Not to mention a pocket for my sneakers, Swell bottle, phone, makeup, you name it.  

So now that I can fit EVERYTHING into one gym bag, here's what I always have with me as I dash from workout to work:

  • Work Clothes and shoes
  • Makeup
  • Face wash (I use Skinceuticals cleanser)
  • Sunscreen (I use NARS tinted moisturizer or a VitC Serum)
  • Laptop
  • Water bottle
  • Wallet
  • Sunglasses
  • Notebook/Planner
  • Snack such as a bar, almonds, seasoned avocado
  • Tupperware lunch (usually a salad or chicken with vegetables) 

And YEP, that all fits now into one bag! After my workout, I put my sneakers into the dedicated shoe department, put my sweaty gym clothes into the laundry bag, and I'm off!

Use code LIVESIMPLE15 for 15% off on your Infinity Bag.  Head to




Find your Mantra

The saying goes, "when the going gets tough, the tough get going."  When the situation becomes difficult, the strong work harder to meet the challenge.  So how do you become "the strong?"  How do you become one of those people that will never quit, will work hard, persevere?

I often think about this as I'm working out.  When you're muscles are burning, your lungs are gasping for air, and you're really freaking tired, how do you push passed all of that and keep going? Nine times out of ten, it's a mental game.  Your muscles actually CAN keep going, it's your mind that needs the convincing.

So that being said, I've been trying to come up with a mantra or a quick saying, I can use on repeat, when "the going gets tough."  I tried several but they lacked meaning to me, and therefore, were ineffective.  I would say "keep going" but my mind quickly said, "nope, I don't want to."  Or  "you can do this," while thinking "I really don't think I can."

Then on my run last week, at mile 10, I was exhausted.  I thought to myself, "yes you are tired but you are LUCKY to be here, to feel this tired, to move the way do and to run!"  There are so many people far less fortunate.  

My mother passed away from breast cancer three years go, and she was my best friend.  She also is where I learned my passion for exercise.  She loved it!  That's when my meaningful (and effective) mantra finally occurred to me.  In that moment I thought, "do it for those who can't" and I persevered.  I finished the run feeling tired but so accomplished and above all else, fortunate.

I encourage all of you to find a mantra that means something to you.  What will keep you going when you really feel like you can't go anymore?





It's my One-Year Kayla-versary

Back in November, I wrote a review of my experience using the BBG guides and vowed to complete one year of BBG.  Here I am at the end of week 54- I can't believe it.  

I wanted to check in with all of you, because without my commitment to you guys, as readers, I can't confidently say that I would have stuck with a program for that long.  I've never stuck with any fitness regiment for that long...

And I'm SO happy I did!  There are three HUGE transformations I've noticed in myself as a result of doing Kayla's BBG Guides.

  1. Physical- In the past year I have really seen my body change in a way I didn't think was possible.  My stomach is flatter, my arms and legs leaner.

    What I found so motivating throughout this process were my before and after pictures.  Each week I religiously documented my progress- same outfit, same location, same lighting, same stance.  This was crucial!  If I was having a tough time, or being overly critical (guilty), no matter what, there was evidence in these pictures proving that my hard work was paying off! 

    I choose not to publish before and after pictures on Instagram because I don't like to encourage people comparing their body and their results to other people, when everyone is different.  I know I have become seriously discouraged when looking at some Kayla transformations prompting the question...why don't I look like that?

    Throughout this whole process, I've had to continue to remind myself that everyone's progress is different, as it should be...we're all different!
  2. Strength- I have gotten much stronger, there's no doubt about it.  I can do a freakin' plyo pushup for crying out loud!  Yep, you know where you go down into a pushup and then push your body off the ground so much that you an lift your hands?! Yes, I can do that now!  
    When this first showed up in the guides I literally said out loud, "you have got to be kidding me kayla! A plyo pushup...yeah right."  I even started checking YouTube and Instagram to see anyone post a video of them doing a plyo pushup in the kayla guides because I didn't believe it.  It seemed absolutely impossible at the time.  And now here I am at week 54 and I can do them!  I'm really proud of this if you can't tell :)
  3. Mental- One of the biggest transformations is not something I can physically see in a mirror.  It's mental.  I have never committed to any kind of program (diet, fitness, etc.) for this long.  Knowing that I can and that doing so makes a huge difference is a really powerful tool to add to your mental repertoire of encouraging thoughts.

    The guides are also great at keeping you on your toes!  They are designed perfectly.  They have just enough consistency where you can see an improvement in your strength and stamina but also enough variety where you're not getting bored of the same exact routine.

So there you have it.  One year down, and I'm not stopping any time soon!  I've migrated over to the app, which is awesome and keeps track of all your workouts.

Special shout out to my workout buddy and POC who is always "down to kayla."


Dumbbell and Kettlebell Workout


Dumbbell and Kettlebell Workout

So ClassPass raised their rates and now you have to say sayonara to those boutique workouts you love so much. If you recently joined a gym and have no idea what to do, I have you covered. 

Kelvin Gary, trainer and owner of Body Space Fitness, put together two full body workouts using standard gym equipment- a dumbbell and kettlebell.  You can also check out our “no-equipment-necessary” workout here

These workouts are designed to give you a great full-body burn, and with only 5 moves you’ll be in and out of the gym in no time.

Dumbbell Workout

 Single-Arm Squat Thrusts – Use your legs to assist the press.  Squeeze your glutes and core at the top of the move.  Complete 2 Sets, 15 reps reach side


Plank Rows - Keep your hips square and exhale as you row.  Complete 2 sets, 12 reps each side


Lateral Lunge Lift - Complete 2 sets, 10 reps each side


Weighted V-Ups - Complete 3 sets, 12 reps


Single Leg Dead Lift with Reach -  Add in a sight rotation by reaching across your body to bring the dumbbell towards the foot of your standing leg.  Complete 3 sets, 10 reps each side


Kettlebell Workout

 Single Arm Kettlebell Swings – Complete 2 sets, 15 reps each side


Weighted Russian Twists – Complete 2 sets, 12 reps each side

Kettlebell Tactical Lunge – It’s important here to pass the KB from side to side between the legs without switching hands in front.  Complete 2 sets, 10 reps each side


Kettlebell Split Stance Lift and Press – Complete 3 sets, 12 reps each side


Split Stance Kettlebell Row – Complete 2 sets, 12 reps each side



The Anytime, Anywhere, Workout

I hear it all the time, excuses.  “I want to workout but a gym is too expensive,” “I’m travelling all the time and the hotel doesn’t have the equipment I need,” “I’m too tired,” you name it!  I don’t mean to sound harsh but these are just the things we tell ourselves when a workout is not a priority.  If you adjust your attitude and vow to workout and take care of your body, no matter what, you can fit in your fitness anywhere, anytime.

I partnered with celebrity trainer and owner of Body Space Fitness, Kelvin Gary, to create a workout that you can do no matter what- say buh-bye to those excuses!  There is no equipment required and you only need a small amount of floor space – perfect for a NYC apartment or small hotel room. 

Complete the below exercises for the designated number of reps.  Repeat 3-4x through, with a minute break in between rounds.


Curtsey to Forward Lunge

Repeat 12x per side (24 total)


Knee-Grab Sit Ups

Repeat 20x


Plank Dip and Leg Raise

Repeat 12x per side (24 total)


Plank to Sit-Out

Repeat 12x per side (24 total)


It's Not a Waffle.  It's a Viking Waffle.


It's Not a Waffle. It's a Viking Waffle.

Take a traditional Scandinavian waffle with its heart-shaped design, and then infuse it with the spirit of a Viking, the great and daring seafaring warrior from a thousand years ago- the end result is a Viking Waffle. A baked good poised to rule your taste buds, but not your waistline! It is delicious and nutritious, and allows you to ENJOY eating healthy without depriving yourself of great food!

Every Viking Waffle contains 24g of protein and only 1g of sugar, and it's gluten free!

How did you create Viking waffles?

Norwegian waffles are a huge Scandinavian tradition, sadly not very nutritious. I have so many great memories of my grandmother’s waffles growing up, but being a soccer player, crossfit trainer, kettlebell and yoga instructor in Norway, nutrition is very important to me. I hated the feeling of giving up my favorite comfort food to be able to perform well in my sports. 

I started asking myself: “Why is eating healthy associated with a restriction to life and a feeling that you are giving up on a lot of good food?” That’s when I created the Viking Waffles, a nutritious healthy twist from the traditional Norwegian Waffles that allowed me to eat waffles guilt free everyday due to the nutritional content in them. 

People in Norway started asking me for the recipe after wondering how it was possible to perform well in my sports and eat AS many waffles as I did. The truth is, and I usually joke about it, my biggest dream is actually to be able to able to eat waffles without it going to my waist. Haha. So the Viking Waffles were born.


What was the concept behind this protein-packed snack?

The concept behind this protein packed snack came from seeing that there were not many portable low sugar, high protein snack options on the market. Yes, we have high protein bars, but sadly a lot of protein bars are also very high in carbohydrates and sugar - basically a candy bar. Just because a protein bar is high in protein, does not make it automatically healthy. You have to look at the other ingredients (especially the simple sugars added to most). 

The Viking Waffles are also made to be an excellent post-workout meal. From my own experience, a lot of times after tough workouts, you often want to reward yourself with food. But at the same time you don’t want to ruin a great workout. I want people to be able to look forward to a post-workout meal that not only is delicious, but also keeps you on track with your fitness goals. The Viking Waffles was my solution.

Another idea behind the Viking Waffles, is that it’s so adverse as breakfast, dinner or dessert. You can eat it guilt free at anytime. Trust me, I’ve had a lot of “breakfast for dinner” Viking Waffles. In addition to it being a great breakfast option as most people consider waffles to be, I also know a lot of people crave something sweet at night. The Viking Waffles is perfect at bedtime due to the slow released protein we use and the low carbohydrate and that in addition comes from only slow digestive carbohydrates (only 1g of sugar).

My biggest motivation of sharing the Viking Waffles to the world actually came after a quote a man said that till this day is stuck in my head: If the Viking Waffles was just as accessible as Starbucks coffee shops, I would not have had diabetes”


What’s your favorite exercise/workout?

I love training glutes and legs. I train legs three times a week with weights. My favorite exercise for the glutes is a weighted hip thrust. I love incorporating a lot of supersets in my workouts to get my heart rate up, that way I feel like I don’t need to do too much traditional cardio.

My favorite leg-day workout:

Weighted Bulgarian split squats 3*12 Superset with 30 sec jumping lunges

Weighted hip bridges 4*12 superset with band walks

Stiff legged barbell deadlifts 4*15-20 superset with 4*10 squat jumps

Leg press 3*12

Stability ball leg curl 2*20


Tell us about your background from Norway to NYC.

I played soccer at a top level in Norway so healthy habits and focus towards top performance is pretty much something I’m raised with. I stopped playing when I attended Medical school in Norway. I also became a crossfit trainer, kettlebell and yoga instructor.

It was during the Medical studies I really learned about nutrition and the preventive aspects of eating healthy. That awareness led me to experiment with my own diet and ultimately create the Viking Waffles. Due to this, I dropped out of Medicine school, travelled to New York to study entrepreneurship and business, and English.  After the semester I officially started the Viking Waffles brand in New York city.


Name something about you that might surprise people.

I attended an Olympic weightlifting course, which ended with a competition. I came second to last. haha


There’s a lot of debate when it comes to nutrition on a cheat day or meal.  Is this something you incorporate into your diet?

No, I don’t like the idea of cheat meals. I do understand the concept of it, and for a lot of people a break from a clean diet can also speed up your metabolism if have a strict eating regime.

I’ve had points in my life where food almost took over my life. I was very strict and always ate clean food. I was lean, but what most people didn’t see was how much energy and thoughts throughout a day I spent thinking and planning my meals. It came with a price. I looked healthy and top-trained on the outside, but did not feel healthy on the inside.

Today I still train like an athlete, and I feel great just by stressing less, creating healthy eating habits, but I do try to avoid restrictions when it comes to food. I believe the key to eating healthy is to educate yourself about healthy food, and not choose a meal only because it’s healthy, but because it’s food you actually enjoy.

I actually tell myself and others that I believe the healthy approach to food is to think: ‘You can actually eat WHATEVER you want, BUT in moderations” This allows me to have a glass of wine, eat ice-cream and watch my favorite movie with friends because it’s not one meal that determines your physique or fitness, it’s the healthy habits you create and follow 80% of the time.


Can you share a few Scandinavian wellness secrets?

Make the outdoors your gym! Try “Nordic Walks” – Basically walking outdoors. The nature in Norway is beautiful so it’s very nice, but I believe being outside anywhere can be very powerful–it gives you freedom and new focus to keep your body in shape. It can help your mind as much as your body. Truthfully It lifts my spirit on low days.

We also eat a lot of fish, especially salmon. Our diet is naturally very similar to the Paleo diet. A lot of meat, fish, vegetables and unprocessed food.

Last tip I want to share especially to women in NYC is to put less pressure on themselves in their fitness journey and find the comfort and acceptance of themselves and their bodies. Moving to NYC I’m noticing more pressure and focus around looks, status and money, which I’m not used to. We are very family oriented and down to earth. I’m raised in a way where there is not much room for divas or superficial values. Every time I come home to my family in Norway, I’m put straight to work and to help out and this will probably never change.


Are there plans for more Viking waffle flavors or other baked goods from the protein magic bakery? We can’t get enough!

YES YES! I’m very excited to introduce more favors from Viking Waffles. We have a bunch of delicious high protein, low sugar Viking Waffles ready.  We’re waiting for the right timing and production. You can expect unique flavors: one flavor will have a secret exclusive superfood ingredient from the sea in Norway and other flavors more specific to special diets, like Paleo and Vegetarian.


What tips do you have for making things healthy without sacrificing flavor?

I call fruit nature's candy.  Use bananas as sweetener.  Stevia, a natural plant and sweetener is great to  use instead of sugar as it has no calories.  I use a lot of flavored protein powder while baking and also in smoothies.  

I use healthy fats like peanut butter, almond butter and coconut oil where unhealthy fat, like butter, is needed. 



{Foam} Rolling with my Homies

If you’re not familiar with foam rolling, it’s the log looking thing in the back corner of most gyms.  Not used nearly enough, foam rollers can help increase flexibility, release muscle tension and soreness, and help prevent injury from training. 

Despite it’s many benefits, for most people foam rolling is one of those things that we save for whatever time is left over in our day, meaning it rarely ever happens!  While it’s important to work hard in your workout, it’s equally important to stretch and foam roll so your body gets the recovery it needs and deserves.  

Here is an excellent guide with foam rolling moves and video demonstrations that you can utilize to get into a great foam rolling routine.  



Get the Facts...The Recovery Facts

Fueling properly after a workout has become my new obsession.  Truthfully, I just never knew how important and beneficial it was.  For all those workouts I did, I feel like I wasn’t maximizing my full potential, by ignoring the necessary re-fuel and recovery immediately following. 

Well, I’m here to remedy that situation and share the facts with all of you!  I recently posted about the three keys to Sports Nutrition: Hydration, Pre-Workout Fuel and Post-Workout Fuel.  Despite knowing all of this, I have admittedly been having trouble refueling with the proper amount of protein and carbohydrates in that very fast 30-minute window, my how it flies by!

30-minutes is not a lot of time so I needed something on-the-go.  Additionally, for such a substantial amount of protein, it is hard to find a recovery snack that is low enough in calories that it won’t undo your workout. 

I feel like I tried everything!  I tried dissolving protein powder in water and couldn’t stand the chalky taste.  Literally couldn’t swallow it.  Next I experimented with smoothies.  While I liked the smoothies, as the weather gets colder, it’s hard for me to tolerate an icy smoothie, especially on-the-go.  So where does that leave me?  Here are a couple of super-simple post-workout meals that I’ve been making ahead of time:


  • Protein Pancake- whisk together 3 egg whites, 1 scoop of protein powder, and ½ banana mashed.  Cook in a non stick pan for 3-4 minutes per side
  • Hard Boiled Eggs and Apple Slices- Eat 2 hardboiled eggs (I like to add salt and pepper to taste) and half a medium sized apple.  Recipe here for the perfect hardboiled eggs.

Not a fan of these snacks?  I know hardboiled eggs smell like farts, it took some getting used to for me too!  But below is a comprehensive guide for recommended protein and carbohydrate recovery.  I would love to hear your recovery snacks to add to my repertoire!  Share below and I’ll feature my favorites.  



Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guide Review


Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guide Review

Who is Kayla?

Kayla Itsines is an Australian trainer with quite honestly, a HOT bod.  Her abs speak for themselves, and have attracted millions to her workout routine. 

Kayla created two online 12-week workouts.  These workouts have proceeded to create an ENORMOUS global community of strong and supportive women. 

The two workouts (BBG 1.0 and 2.0) are each $69.97 for a downloadable PDF.  Update- she now has an iOS and Android app available. 

What is BBG?

BBG stands for Bikini Body Guide.  Kayla accurately acknowledges that a “bikini body” is different for everyone but regardless of what your “bikini bod” looks like, this will whip you into shape!  There is no denying the plethora of before and after photos that Kayla features on her website and instagram account.

If you’re hesitant check it out for yourself.  Search any hashtags like #BBG, #deathbykayla #BBGprogress, etc. and I promise you will be as astounded (and convinced) as I was.

What does BBG entail?

The BBG guides are 12 weeks long.  Each week is comprised of three 28 minute resistance workouts, 3 35-45 minute low intensity stead state (LISS) workouts, one high intensity interval training (HIIT) workout and one rest day. 

The resistance workouts focus on legs, arms, and abs.  The best part?  These workouts are only 28 minutes!  Yes you read that correctly- 28 minutes.  They are designed by Kayla and include two 7-minute circuits that you repeat twice, for a total of four rounds.

As someone more prone to over-exercise than under-exercise, I was admittedly very hesitant that only 28 minutes could have such a significant impact.  But don’t be deceived by the minimal time. This is minimal time, maximum effort and results.  It’s an extremely efficient workout, which is one of the many reasons I love it.

Why did you do this program?

Did I mention Kayla’s body?  And those before and after photos?  I did this program because, duh, I want that and will work to get it!

Does it work?

Yes!  Don’t believe the online before and after photos?  I too, thought they were too good to be true so I took pictures of my own.  I have never been a fan of before and after photos, because we are too quick to criticize ourselves.

However, I decided to take before and after photos to track my progress and have continued to take these progress pics every four weeks since I started BBG.  I have been amazed, motivated, and encouraged to see that every four weeks, without fail, I ALWAYS see a positive change, somewhere in my body. 

I may not have a 6-pack yet but I am continually motivated by the progress in my pictures.  Additionally, I like that I am able to see a positive change but also be realistic with myself.  These things take time!  As much as I wish it was possible, abs don’t grow overnight.

I am currently on Week 20 of BBG (BBG 2.0).  I have committed to do a full year of BBG and I can’t wait to see the results.

One very important thing to note is that no matter how talented Kayla is and how challenging her workouts are, BBG cannot and will not undo a poor diet.   I stick to clean, healthy, eating to see the best results.  Need help there?  Check out meal plans Made Simple.

Can you do it at home?

It is possible to do at home but certain equipment is required.  While most exercises are bodyweight only, certain moves require equipment such as dumbbells, kettlebells, etc. 

However, Kayla provides a list of equipment and substitutions should you choose to do it at home.  Just be courteous of your neighbors!  If you live in an apartment building, like I do, be aware that there is a lot of jumping.  I wouldn’t want to piss anyone off, especially at 6:30 AM!

Do you do other workouts besides Kayla?

On BBG resistance days I do Kayla’s workouts only.  However, I also am a member of ClassPass and like to do classes on the three days designated for LISS. 

Would you recommend it?

If you cant tell already, yes!  I absolutely recommend these workouts and think they’re worth the one-time fee.  I also recommend doing it with a friend.  It’s easy to stay committed that way and push yourself through each exercise.  Good luck and let me know if you have any questions! 



Sports Nutrition

“I workout so hard, why am I not seeing results??”  Sound familiar?  This sentiment is extremely frustrating and very common.

Your diet could be the missing link.  In order to maximize results in the gym, we must carefully select what we eat and WHEN we eat it.  The science of sports and food, also known as Sports Nutrition, is designed to enable the body to train longer and harder, delay fatigue, enhance performance, and promote recovery.

To fully understand sports nutrition I’ve broken it down into 3 categories: Hydration, Pre Workout Fuel, and Post Workout Recovery.


  • Hydration (before, during, and after workout)- Did you know water comprises about 70% of an athletes body?  Only 3% loss of water weight results in 10% loss in strength.  We need ample amounts of water to get the best workout possible.  Notice I said water!  Put down the neon yellow colored sports drink.  Most commercial sports drinks are high in artificial ingredients. 
  • o   Fluid Recommendations:
  • 2-3 hours pre-workout- 16-24 oz.
  • 15 minutes pre workout- 8-16 oz.
  • During workout- 8 oz. every 15 minutes
  • Immediately post workout- 16-24 oz.
  • Pre Workout Fuel- For an athlete, the pre-competition meal should be low in fat and fiber.  Protein and complex carbs are a good way to fuel 3-4 hours pre workout.  *Be wary of what type of protein you consume.  Many animal proteins are high in fat.
  • Post Workout Fuel- The main nutrition goals for the recovery phase is to replace fluids, carbohydrates and protein for muscle and tissue repair.  You have a 30-minute – 1 hour recovery window to maximize benefits and optimal recovery.  Don’t waste your workout!!  Make sure to rehydrate and have a snack with carbs and protein within that 30-minute – 1 hour window.
  • Myth Busters: People think when it comes to fitness, the more protein the better.  There are several issues with this theory. 
  • Protein helps repair muscles but does not FUEL muscles.  Carbohydrates fuel your muscles, and therefore you workout. 
  • Excessive protein intake can increase risk of dehydration.  This is not say cut out the protein, but make sure to compensate with increased amounts of water