fitness

healthy work-from-home habits.

When I put out my last call for questions that you’d like to see addressed here on the blog (you can still submit them here!), a few people asked me about how I’ve kept up a healthy eating and workout routine while working from home, and if my approach to it has changed at all since I left my former life in corporate America. Due to some recent circumstances, I’ve made a bunch of adjustments to what I was doing before — both a few months ago in my freelance life and a few years ago in my 9-to-5 life — so it seems like the perfect time to share what’s been working for me lately!

Some of you may know that I’ve been working through some more general health concerns over the last few weeks, a process that’s forced me to take stock of how I’ve been treating my body and what I can do to better serve it. I’ve been pretty passionate about nutrition and exercise since my early college days, but the (thankfully minor) bumps in the road I’ve encountered these past few months in terms of my health have been a welcome reminder that there are lots of ways to be “healthy.” Just because I think I’m doing all the right things to stay well and in shape doesn’t mean that those hard and fast rules work for my body. For many years, they did, but I’m learning to make adjustments and it’s actually been a really good thing.

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I’ve written previously here about both my chronic insomnia and my long-standing digestive issues, but what I haven’t shared is that I also deal with intense hives. Without allergy medicine every day, I will literally find myself covered in a hot, itchy rash 90 percent of the time. At one point, I thought it was simply sensitive skin or a harmless allergy, but as it grew worse earlier this year, I began to wonder if it was somehow connected to my sleep and stomach issues — and if all of these problems could be addressed with one magic solution. Over the summer, I met with an allergist and immunologist, who worked with me on a few tests that were ultimately inconclusive. I have some other doctors to see that will hopefully have more answers for me, but in the meantime, I’ve adopted some new habits at the recommendation of the immunologist, and they’ve definitely impacted my general health!

Our recent trip to California also forced me to take a step back and reconsider my health habits. I guess it’s pretty cliché for my New York self to come back from the west coast with a new lease on food and fitness, but what can I say? Call me cliché! In the three weeks since we’ve been back from our vacation, I’ve noticed some changes in my health philosophy. Combined with the changes suggested by the doctor, those mental shifts have felt really good, especially within the framework of my work-from-home life.

  • Sleep: You may already know that I’ve been dealing with insomnia for the better part of four years now, but one tiny little adjustment has made a big difference recently. Vitamin D! My autoimmune doctor suggested it and I’m so grateful. It’s just the generic drugstore kind, but one pill a day has been making it a lot easier for me to fall — and stay — asleep. Game changer!
  • Diet: Since my sophomore year in college, I’ve been managing chronic digestive issues that are still generally undiagnosed. Thanks to some changes in my diet, my belly problems have gotten mostly better, but our trip to California inspired me to test out some other dietary routines, and I’m so happy did! What I realized in California (warning: another total cliché coming up) is that I haven’t been placing enough emphasis on real, well-made foods. I’ve been focusing so much on what’s gluten-free that I’ve almost totally eliminated foods that can actually fuel me, turning instead to anything that had that “GF” label on the package. And guess what? A lot of those foods aren’t really that good for you! I realize how lucky I am not to have Celiac Disease (I took gluten out of my diet a few years ago — along with garlic and onion — when I experimented with the Low FODMAP diet, a process that really did cure most of my symptoms), and I thought it was time that I start bringing a few whole wheats back into rotation. I’m still sticking with gluten-free pastas and staying away from anything too gluten-y (I know it’s not a word), but I’m feeling much healthier since I said goodbye to gluten-free packaged snack foods and started allowing myself a fresh piece of bread here and there. I’m leaner and more energized, and I suspect that this change might also have helped my sleep. Garlic and onion are still my major triggers, so I won’t be bringing those back any time soon.
  • Exercise (and not exercise): For years and years, I’ve relied on exercise as the primary factor in my health. I viewed myself as a healthy person because I worked out six days a week, and I pretty much assumed that the rest would fall into place. Exercise is still really important to me, but when I last went to see my doctor, he schooled me on how much stress I put on myself when I go to the gym on just a few (or zero) hours of sleep. This is the kind of stress, he said, that causes hives and an intensification of my stomach pain, so I’ve tried to force myself to take more rest days — and I definitely don’t push myself toward a hardcore workout after a sleepless night. Instead, I’ll take a long walk outside mid-afternoon, which has the added benefit of clearing my head and getting this WFH-er into the outside world! I’m still going to the gym about five days a week, but I’m also looking for other opportunities to be active in different ways when I know it’s better for my body.
  • Meals: Figuring out my meal schedule — and resisting the urge to snack constantly from my all-too-available kitchen — has been an ongoing process since I started working from my home office, and lately, I think I’m in a good groove. Here are a few tips:
    • Make breakfast the night before. I prep my oatmeal every night before bed so that it’s ready and waiting for me when I wake up the next day. This way, I’m not tempted to creep (yes, creep) around my kitchen considering less healthy options, and I know right when I wake up that there’s a hearty, delicious meal on tap.
    • Maintain consistency. When it comes to breakfast and lunch, I pretty much eat the same thing (or a variation of the same thing) every day, at least for a few weeks at a time. It takes the guesswork out of planning my meals for the day and helps me avoid those bouts of hanger that will typically lead me to a handful or five of chocolate covered pretzels. I picked up this routine while working in a more traditional office, and it hasn’t failed me yet!
    • Take advantage of meal prep and leftovers. I love a good Meal Prep Sunday as much as the next girl, but we’re on the road so often on the weekends that I usually can’t swing it. Instead, I’ve been upping the quantities I’m cooking at dinnertime (especially salads or veggie side dishes) and packing them away for the next day.
    • Plan your snacks. I’m a grazer by nature, and no matter how hard I try to resist temptations, my fridge is always going to be just a few steps from where I’m working. Instead of driving myself crazy fighting off snack cravings, I plan ahead by buying snack foods that won’t make me feel sick or guilty, and budgeting time to eat them into my schedule.

If you’re still working on your health journey (or if you’re in the market for advice that’s way more expert than mine!), check out the Kickstarter campaign for my friend Meghan Meredith‘s Whole Body Fitness planner. I can attest to the fact that it’s an awesome product! It’s also really special to be able to support Meghan’s big dream, which has been such an investment in time and sweat equity for her. Check out Meghan’s recent guest post for a preview of what this resource is all about — then pledge your support on Kickstarter if you’re feeling inspired! 

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Getting the Most Out of Small-Space Workouts with Meghan Meredith

Today, I am SO excited to welcome my friend Meghan Meredith to the blog for a guest post. We’ve been cooking up this collaboration for a while, and it’s fun to finally share it with you!

Meghan and I went to high school together but never had a chance to meet, and we reconnected recently through some mutual friends and our common experiences working as creatives and solopreneurs (have I mentioned lately how much I love this social media and blogging community? because I do). Meghan is a personal trainer, health coach, and lover of all things dreamy and beautiful. I’m so impressed by Meghan’s commitment to helping women live fuller lives (you can read more about that over on her site, Home Body Soul), and just as impressed these past few weeks with the hard work she’s put into her latest project, Whole Body Fitness.

Yesterday, Meghan launched a Kickstarter campaign for this self-guided fitness planner, and I’m thrilled to be part of the launch team for the project. I’ve had a sneak peek of the finished product as Meghan’s copyeditor, and let me tell you, friends — it’s super cool. As a fitness lover myself, I’m genuinely excited to get my hands on a copy. It’s also really special to be able to support Meghan’s big dream, which has been such an investment in time and sweat equity for her. You go, girl! Meghan will share more about the planner in her post below, but trust me when I tell you that it’s awesome. We’d both love it if you could pop on over to Kickstarter and check out all the details (in particular, Meghan’s video, which features her cute dog Nusu in a starring role!).

In the meantime, Meghan’s here today with some thoughts on how to get the most out of your workouts when you (like me, and so many other people I know!) live in a small apartment or cozy little house. I can’t wait to implement some of these ideas in my own routine!

One last thing before I turn it over to Meghan — don’t forget to enter the October giveaway! This month, I’m giving away a $25 gift card to Baublebar. All you have to do to enter to win is comment on my last post! The winner will be announced here on the blog on Monday 10/30, so get those entries in ASAP : )


When my husband and I moved to Los Angeles is 2015, we were shocked at the housing/rental market in this part of the country. Not only would we be spending more than twice the amount we spent in Atlanta for an apartment, but we’d also be sacrificing more than double the square footage of our previous home. We had to downsize from a 1200-square foot place in Atlanta to a roughly 600-square foot place in Los Angeles. Talk about a small space! 

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Today, I am here to offer you some ways you can stay fit and exercise in your home, even if it’s a mere 600 square feet. Living in a small space doesn’t mean you have to compromise for small results in your fitness regimen.

You may be asking, “Do people work out at home, anyway?!” In fact, many do — myself included! While I have access to a gym, sometimes it’s nice to stay home and get in that 30 minutes without having to brave the Los Angeles traffic one more time. 

My Three Tips for Big Results in a Small Space

Tip 1: Bodyweight Exercises

Our own bodyweight is one of the best pieces of “equipment” for getting into shape — and it doesn’t take up any extra space in your home or apartment (huge perk when living in a small space!). Any time you are moving your own weight up and down and all around, you are burning mega-calories, toning, and strengthening your body! People often think they aren’t getting a good enough workout if they aren’t using gym equipment, but I am here to tell you that your body is one of the most forgotten, yet BEST pieces of equipment you have with you at all times to strengthen and tone your body.

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Tip 2: Your furniture can serve multiple purposes.

If I am doing an at-home workout, I will often use my coffee table to do tricep dips or even incline push-ups. You can also use a chair to do side leg lifts, squats, plie squats, Bulgarian split squat lunges, and tricep dips — to name a few!

You might also consider swapping out your in-home office chair for a stability ball!

Tip 3: Space Saving Equipment

Living in tight spaces often means you have to be very discerning about what you buy, save, and how you store your belongings. Thankfully, there are plenty of space-efficient pieces of equipment that are easy to store.

  • Workout DVDs: There are SO many workout DVDs that require little to no equipment and can easily be done in the comfort of your own home. Any of Jillian Michaels’s DVDs are sure to kick your butt and give you the best sweat sesh you’ve had in a while!
  • Jumprope: Jumping rope isn’t just for elementary school kiddos! A jumprope is a serious fat-torching tool! Jumping rope as an adult can burn up to ten calories per minute, and it can also strengthen your glutes, calves, and arms.

Jump Rope

  • Yoga Mat: A yoga mat or non-slip fitness mat is a must-have for your at-home workout. Using a yoga mat will prevent you from sliding and falling while doing certain exercises. Plus, it’s much more comfortable to do floor exercises on a softer surface, which will buffer some of the noise of jumping around so you won’t disturb the neighbors! Roll up the mat and slide it next to your nightstand or under your bed for easy and quick storage.
  • Dumbbells: Dumbbells are a versatile piece of gym equipment that never get old. If you have the extra space, definitely invest in some free weights. Dumbbells are great for adding resistance to your routine to help you strengthen and tone more specific muscles groups. I love to order the HEX dumbbells from Amazon that come in a variety of weights. Amazon also has this set of neoprene dumbbells that are lighter and come with an organizing rack.

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  • Pull-Up/Chin-Up Bar/TRX Bands: Talk about a space-saving, efficient piece of at-home gym equipment. You can find pull-up/chin-up bars that hang from a doorway or mount directly to a wall. This piece of equipment takes up little space and allows for a multitude of upper body workouts. TRX bands are handy suspension training straps that can hang from a doorway, wall, or ceiling. While this piece of equipment is more costly, there are a plethora of workouts that you can do using this form of suspension training. TRX suspension training uses gravity as your resistance. Making an exercise easier or more difficult is as simple as adjusting your positioning and the straps. Check out the TRX website here.
  • Mini Stair Stepper: This little piece of equipment is so genius! You can get a low-impact cardio workout in the comfort of your own home without having to own a large piece of cardio equipment (such as a treadmill, elliptical, or stationary bike). The lightweight and portable mini stepper will help you tone and strengthen your lower body all while burning calories, raising your heart rate, and protecting your joints from harsh impact. You can use it at your standing desk, in front of the TV during your television show, or in front of the stove while you cook. Extra perk: it’s small enough to store under your desk or bed.
  • Resistance Bands: Resistance bands are a great tool to help you tone, strengthen, stretch, and even rehab injuries! Check out the branded resistance bands on my Kickstarter page, which come in three different sizes and resistance levels. 

Resistance Band Duck Walk

My Favorite Space-Saving Exercises 

  • Burpees
  • Push-Ups

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Push-Up 2

  • Crunches
  • Planks

Side Plank Leg Lift

  • Jump Squats
  • Jumping Alternating Lunges

About Whole Body Fitness

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Whole Body Fitness is the most unique and comprehensive fitness planner on the market! It truly is a one-of-a-kind product! Whole Body Fitness is a guide to stewarding your body well. It is a comprehensive six-month undated fitness and wellness planner. It offers daily guided workout routines that give you the flexibility to choose exercises that you enjoy and are suitable for your fitness level. It also allows you to get creative with your workouts and gives you ownership of your program and success through the professional guidance of a personal trainer and health coach.

I created this planner with the modern woman in mind, with a focus on flexibility, simplicity, and accessibility. When I started my personal training career in Los Angeles, I saw a great desire for women to work with a trainer. For most, scheduling and budget made this challenging. I knew I had to set out to create a product that made these services more accessible for every woman.

Here’s how it works…

Step 1: Review the workout for the day.

Step 2: Write down how you feel before the day’s workout.

Step 3: Head to the Exercise Appendix in the back of the planner to choose appropriate exercises for that day’s workout. There are images in the appendix of the planner and videos on the Web site to help you learn correct form.

Step 4: Track your progress by writing down what exercises you choose, as well as the weight used and the numbers of sets and reps you complete.

Step 5: Note how you feel after your workout. 

Step 6: Celebrate and be proud of yourself for showing up and doing good for your body!

There are also goal checkpoints to assist in tracking and measuring your progress.

Whole Body Fitness will help you create a consistent and motivating system that works. By using this tool, you will have more time to do what matters most!

Photos via Bree McCool Photography, Danika Payton Photography, and Rebekah Lemire

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5 core strengthening exercises with mrs. k-fit

I’m SO excited to be collaborating today with my friend Angela Ribeiro of mrskfit.com. Angela is a certified personal trainer, and she and her husband Kendrick own a fitness studio in California. She also happens to be a new mom to super cute baby Gio!

Angela and I went to the same high school in Pennsylvania, but because of a huge student body (there were 700+ kids in our graduating class), we never got a chance to get to know each other. We’ve fixed that over the last few years via social media and have realized that we actually have A LOT in common. I only wish we’d known that back in PA  : )

As you may have picked up on, fitness and health are super important to me, but since I’m no expert, I haven’t shared too much here on the blog about my personal routine. Instead, I reached out to Angela (who is a pro!) and asked if she would be willing to make an appearance on Finding Plan A. I was so happy when she agreed to share some of her wisdom with us in a series of  guests posts!

Keep reading for Angela’s tips on strengthening your core, and follow her blog and Instagram for more great tips (and baby pics!). You may even see a familiar face over on her site today! 

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Hi everyone!

I am so honored to be collaborating with Alli to bring you a series of full-body workouts that you can do at-home. Alli and I met in high school and re-connected on social media after college. I wish I would have had the chance to get to know her more while we were still living on the same coast! I recently gave birth to my son in December, and thought that my first post would be one that focused on the core — an area most of us aim to improve, including me!

My husband and I are the owners of Studio K-Fit in Redwood City, California and we believe being fit is more than just having that “beach body” (let it be known that I strongly dislike this phrase!).

A fit lifestyle starts with the proper mindset. There are too many fitness models out there who misrepresent what it takes to reach your fitness goals. They claim, “If you do this workout…you will get flat abs!” I’m sure we’ve all heard or read some variation of that phrase.

Unfortunately, fitness doesn’t work like that. Simply doing an ab workout is not enough to achieve that dream six-pack.

However, I’ll let you in on a little secret… there are three things I tell my clients they can do if they want to maximize any core routine:

  1. Improve your nutrition. Fitness doesn’t stop when you leave the gym — in fact, 70% of the struggle to lose weight or get more fit happens at home, with what we feed our body. Often times, we view nutrition as the “bad guy,” out to destroy all the delicious things we like to eat. Instead of telling clients to maintain a healthy diet ALL the time (this is just impossible, even for me) I tell them about the 80/20 rule. I encourage them to eat healthy 80% of the time. This adds up to roughly 6 days per month where they can enjoy their favorite treats (20%). I’ve found that when you start eating healthier, your body naturally craves better food, which decreases your cravings for unhealthy junk food.
  2. Add more cardio. The reality is we just don’t move enough. By not moving enough, our body is constantly storing fat (often in places we don’t want, such as the midsection). In order to shed through that fat layer, it’s important to have an effective cardio routine in place. I recommend between 2-3 hours per week for my clients. This could be walking, running, biking, rowing, skiing, etc. It’s also important to assess your lifestyle- are you a nurse and working on your feet? Or do you sit at a desk and work from a computer? Those working at a desk may need to be more intentional with how many steps/cardio they are getting per day. Invite a friend to go hiking, or join your co-workers for a walk at lunch; this will help keep you accountable!
  3. Strength train. Cardio will burn more calories during a workout, but the magic happens when you add strength training to your regimen. Strength training can help change your body composition. Why is this important? One pound of muscle burns five times more calories than one pound of fat…and this is simply at rest! Another perk is that one pound of muscle is much leaner than one pound of fat, helping you get that lean, toned look. Think of it as “more muscle= faster metabolism/less muscle = slower metabolism.” For those women worried about getting bulky, don’t sweat it! Testosterone is one of the primary hormones responsible for adding bulk to muscles, and most women simply don’t have enough testosterone. There is also a very specific type of training for those people looking to get bulky and it usually requires low reps and very heavy weights…all of which we will not be doing.

Ready to get started??

Core Workout:

Perform 3 rounds of the following exercises at 12, 10, and 8 reps each.

1 Butt Lift

2 Reach and Tuck

3 Oblique Dips*

4 Crossover Reach*

5 Sliders 

*make sure to do both sides for each round!*

You can find more workouts and fitness tips over at mrskfit.com and on Instagram.

Thanks for reading (and watching)!  

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half marathon training.

When registration opens for the Brooklyn Half Marathon each January, I hold my breath for a few minutes as I rush to buy my spot in the race before it fills up. Something stressful always happens — last year, the site timed out as I was logging in, and this year, I (of course) forgot the password for my New York Road Runners account. Thankfully, I managed to get everything reset again, and I’m all set to run my favorite race for the *fourth* time this May. WOO! (P.S. did anyone else notice that the registration fee went up this year? Ugh.)

I’ve gotten a few comments from readers asking me to share a bit more about how I train for half marathons, and today seems like the perfect day to do it! I’m in no way an expert, and there are lots of different ways to get ready for this kind of race, but this is what has worked for me.

I ran my first half marathon in 2014, mostly because I wanted to prove that I could. I’d never been involved in team sports in school — honestly, I was the totally un-athletic kid in class who huffed and puffed her way through every timed mile fitness test. When I got my driver’s license, I joined a gym and started to learn more about working out, and since then, exercise has been an increasingly important and regular part of my life. Still, I had a mental block with running. A few years ago, when my roommate told me about her great experience running her first half marathon in Brooklyn, I decided to see if I could do it, too — it was one of my resolutions for 2014.

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Getting ready to start my first half in 2014!
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At the finish line in 2014 with my roommate and running inspiration!

When I tell people they can build up to a half marathon even if they don’t run at all, I know from experience that it’s possible. I basically started from zero. I’m a big believer in following a clear training program, especially if you’re a new runner. To train for my first half marathon, I used this plan. In 2015 and 2016, I tried different training plans (there are tons to choose from online if you want to find one that works for you and your body!), but I’m actually going back to the original one this year, because I think it was the best. It’s a 16-week plan, so it really allows you to get into great running shape over an extended period of time, and if you have a few months to devote, I would definitely recommend it.

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In 2015, I also ran a half in my hometown. It was so fun to have my parents there to cheer me on!

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Back at it in Brooklyn in 2015!

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People have different opinions on this, but I do almost all of my training for half marathons on the treadmill. This is partially out of necessity, since I do a big chunk of my running during the winter months, but it’s actually turned out to be beneficial in other ways. Running still does not come totally naturally to me, so training on a treadmill helps me learn how to pace myself. Most importantly, since running up to eleven miles in a gym can be really boring, I find that there are so many interesting things to look at on race day that time seems to fly. It’s been really helpful for me mentally in every half marathon I’ve run.

Nutrition is a whole different story, and something I continue to figure out each year. While I’m in training, I try to cut back on some treats and snacks (we all know about my sweet tooth), and I keep my drinking to a minimum, especially on nights before a long run. At the same time, I tend to have a much bigger appetite than usual while I’m training, so I’m constantly trying to adjust my meals to make sure that I’m getting enough calories and protein.

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Matt ran his first half with me last year in Brooklyn, just a few weeks before our wedding! I was so proud of him, but I think I’ll be back on my own this year : ) 

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I start my “official” training plan for this year next week, and I’m so excited! Getting in top running form is tough, but it gets me in the best shape, and I always feel really great about myself throughout the process.

Would you like me to share more about my training or to offer more tips? Feel free to let me know if you have any questions in the comments below!

***Don’t forget to enter the January giveaway so you can win this bracelet from The Shine Project!  All you have to do to enter to win is comment on my last post here. I’ll be drawing and announcing the winner on Monday! ***

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