Friday Favorites: 9/8/17

As a freelancer, I have a habit of letting the work week trickle into my weekends. I appreciate having flexibility during the week to run errands and go to the gym whenever. But without any clear boundaries, you can end up working in some capacity seven days a week.

So this labor day weekend I forced myself to take some work-free time to do actual activities (not just veg on the couch or end up reorganizing my dresser drawers…which I totally need to do.) It was great! And it inspired my first Friday favorite:

Driving Golf Balls

IMG_20170903_210027_059

I’m not a great golfer. In fact, I’ve only played an actual game once in my life. But I love driving golf balls. There is a nostalgic element to it. I grew up in a town with NOTHING to do as a teenager. The only options were basically fast food, coffee, or the mall, and you had to drive to the next town to get to anything. But there were a few driving ranges in close proximity. So, for $10 or $15, you could get a bucket of balls and hang out at the driving range.

In NYC, the best place to hit golf balls is Chelsea Piers. The multi-level platform is heated year round  (we didn’t need that feature this weekend) and overlooks the Hudson River. I definitely paid more than I did as a teenager in rural Massachusetts, but I only go a couple times a year. There’s also no freshly cut grass smell, but plenty of yachts and sea gulls!

Pixel Computer Glasses

pixel

These things are eyeball savers. I’m on the computer A LOT. After a few hours, my eyeballs feel like they’re going to melt right out of my head. These glasses filter out blue light and make the screen so much easier to look at. I actually feel a different the second I put them on.

Peace Rollerball

20170908_080532

I have to admit that when I first smelled this “Peace” blend I wasn’t a fan. But now I get it. Is it possible for your olfactory bulb to change over time like your taste buds? The blend uses vetiver, lavender, frankincense, ylang ylang, marjoram, and spearmint, and it’s such a calming, stabilizing scent. I’ve been keeping it at the computer and swiping it on before I head out to deal with the stress of the world. Give peace a chance!

What are you into this week?

Friday Favorites: 9/1/17

The Friday before Labor Day is either barely a Friday or the ULTIMATE Friday. There’s this liberating sense of “nothing’s getting done today, so let’s just accept it.” Unfortunately, I have a full to-do list, but I’m going to do my best to stay focused so my tasks don’t spill over into the weekend. I may not be able to blow off the work day for early happy hour today, but I’m determined to have a real holiday weekend.

In the meantime, here are a few things that made my favorites list this week.

“Listen Up” by Nicole Atkins

nicole

I’ve followed Nicole Atkins for years. When she lived in the North East (and I was younger) I went to her shows all the time. It’s been a while since I’ve seen her live (she moved to Nashville and I don’t see live music nearly as much as I should), but I just scored tickets to her upcoming show at the Mercury Lounge and I am so pumped! I can’t wait to hear her play the tracks from her new album, especially Listen Up, which is this week’s anthem.

Kettlebell Windmills

windmill
img src: mensjournal.com

Can one’s core ever be strong enough? We’ll probably never know. And, honestly, planks, v-ups, and sit-ups get boring. Enter the kettlebell windmill! A few weeks ago I wrote about this movement for Men’s Journal. It’s one that I sometimes forget about, but it is so challenging and effective. You can use a kettlebell or a dumbbell, and the weight doesn’t have to be very heavy for you to feel it.

Deep Blue

IMG_20170830_085245_623

This week, while still in bed, I yawned and stretched my arm overhead and pulled a shoulder muscle. Yup. Didn’t do it during a barbell complex or a metcon at CrossFit. I did it yawning. So stupid, and it is still nagging me three days later. I’ve been stretching, rolling, and regularly applying this Deep Blue Rub from doTerra. It helps loosen things up and temporarily relieves the pain. Luckily, it smells waaaay better than Ben-Gay or Icy Hot, because it’s basically become my signature scent.

Sugar-Free Jello

jello

I mentioned last week that I’m counting macros and making an extra effort to eat clean. I wish I could be one of those people who cuts sugar and is like “I don’t even crave it any more!” The truth is that I’m not. And I do. I’ve allowed some indulgences here and there, but Sugar-Free Jello has become almost a daily treat. There’s barely anything in it (that’s why they give it to hospital patients) but its just sweet enough to feel like dessert. Add a small spoonful of Cool Whip and it’s (almost?) like eating a bowl of ice cream. Okay, not quite, but I’ll take what I can get. This strawberry-banana is one of my favorite flavors!

Younger on TVLand

younger

Are you watching this show? It’s become my favorite smart, yet lighthearted piece of appointment television. The writing is great – funny, touching, edgy, sassy, and the fashion and set design is fantastic. And speaking of eye candy, there’s Josh:

josh
Note the welling of the tears.

And CHARLES:

charles
We are all Sutton Foster.

The season finale is approaching, and I just don’t know what I’m going to do with myself on Wednesday nights.

What are you loving this week?

 

Friday Favorites – Inaugural Edition

It’s about time I did my own “Friday Favorites” post. I always enjoy reading other bloggers’ round-ups, and I like to pretend I’m Oprah sipping from a porcelain teacup and curating the “The O List.”

First up, the Jersey Shore.

Not this one:

jersey shore.gif

This one:

IMG_20170819_183704_283

I had the chance to spend a night at a friend’s place in Seaside Heights, and it was just what I needed. The sun was out, the sky was clear, and the waves were so big that Dan lost his sun protective doo rag and I got those sunglasses knocked right off my face.

doTERRA Root to Tip Serum

9841249288222
img src: doterra.com

I normally skip a day between shampoos (sometimes more if I’m in super hermit mode and not planning to see other humans), but the beach and some super sweaty workouts necessitated extra washings. To help with dryness and frizz, I’ve been using this Root to Tip Serum from doTERRA. It moisturizes my hair, smells amazing (it contains a bunch of essential oils, but lavender and peppermint come through strongest), and it gives your scalp a little tingle.

Merrell’s Bare Access Flex Trail Running Shoes 

merrell

I recently reviewed these hybrid trail running shoes for Men’s Journal, and I’m still loving them. I have stability shoes for longer distances, but they sometimes feel clunky. These are light and skippy and super fun to run in, especially when I feel like noodling around the trails in the park. And (on the rare occasion I put on something other than workout clothes) they’re cute enough to wear with a pair of jeans.

C.W. Pencil Enterprise

pencil
img src: cwenterprise.com

I visited C.W. Pencil Enterprise’s flagship store a few months ago, and it was probably a mistake. Run by legit pencil enthusiasts, they carry every single type of pencil you could ever want. It is nerd heaven, and I spent WAY too much money on pencils. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I love the Blackwing 602. It is super smooth, and the little rectangular eraser is just so satisfying. (I told you – NERD HEAVEN.)

Casein Pudding

the state pudding.gif
Who out there gets this reference?

I’m counting macros right now and focusing on lean protein. So all my fav late night treats – ice cream, peanut butter cups, sugary trail mix – are off the table. I’ve been mixing Dymatize Elite Casein powder with enough water to create a pudding-like consistency and popping it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. (I don’t like it room temp). It’s close enough to vanilla pudding to feel like dessert, and it’s high in protein with no fat or carbs.

What are you into these days?

Happy Friday!

All Hail the Kettlebell

Is it weird to love – like REALLY love – a piece of fitness equipment? Especially one that has caused you so much pain?

Probably, but I’m owning it. I love kettlebells. They’re an incredibly versatile tool, and they’re so darn effective. So when I had the opportunity to pitch the “Belly Shrink” section of Shape, I went straight to the bells. Yes, they’re known for revving your heart rate and strengthening your posterior chain, but they’re also great for the core.

And just when I think there’s no improving the good, old-fashioned kettlebell, they go ahead and make ’em gold and sparkly!

Shape1

To read the full article, check out the April 2017 issue of Shape!

Because No One Wants the Flu

Last year right around this time I had my first legit, knock-down, “will I ever feel normal again?” case of the flu, and I really don’t want a repeat performance in 2017.

hi
Me with the flu, February 2016

I am a highly superstitious person, so even writing that down feels like saying “Macbeth” in a theater, but I’ll take my chances for the sake of this post.

For the first time ever, I got the flu shot. (I know it’s only for a few strains, but I’ll take whatever I can get.) And, in addition to  taking my multi-vitamin, sleeping 7+ hours (or at least really trying to), exercising, eating salads, and burying healing crystals in my neighbor’s back yard (just kidding… maybe), I’m greasing up my feet with this little combo:

20170228_150131

Remember last time when we talked about secondary metabolites? Well these oils are from plants that may help with your immunity. On Guard is a blend of wild orange, clove, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus and rosemary oils. Lemon is, of course, from lemons. Together they smell a bit like a frosted lemon pound cake.

DIY Immunity Oil 

onguardlemon

You’ll need:

Fill your container about 5% of the way with an equal combination of On Guard and Lemon.

20170228_144942

Cap off with carrier oil and label accordingly. Apply to the soles of your feet in the morning and before bed. Consider it just one more weapon in your flu-fighting arsenal!

Interested in essential oils? Visit my Doterra site: Mydoterra.com/jenessaconnor 

 

DIY: Essential Oil Blend for Headaches

I gotta admit that since becoming a Doterra rep I’ve been having fun geeking out on something totally new. I’m currently reading The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils by Kurt Shnaubelt, Ph.D., to help myself better understand how and why certain essential oils affect the human body.

16473637_10210622482472280_495677348444522277_n
Blends: Balance, Breathe, Serenity, Motivate. Single oils: Grapefruit. Personal care: Deep Blue Rub for sore muscles, and EO Spa Hand & Body lotion to use with oils.

There’s a lot to learn, but one simple concept is that plants have two main categories of substances: primary metabolites and secondary metabolites. Primary metabolites are all the proteins, carbohydrates, fats and genetic materials that make up the mass of the plant and perform its basic functions, while the secondary metabolites are the substances that have developed and evolved over time to help with its protection and survival. For example, secondary metabolites may help a plant repel herbivores or fight off parasites. From an essential oils perspective, secondary metabolites are the substances that are of most interest, as we can use them in a similar fashion to help with common, everyday ailments and annoyances.

Like headaches.

Is anything worse? Okay, many things are far, far worse, but headaches suck because they are just bad enough to ruin your day and sabotage your productivity, but not so bad that you feel justified in calling in sick or cancelling your plans. We’re expected to just tough it out or pop a couple ibuprofen and get over it. I’m not opposed to OTC headache meds at all (I take them for the occasional head-splitter), but they can mess with your stomach, and some people prefer to avoid swallowing pills if they can.

Perhaps there’s a more natural way to deal with headaches?

DIY Headache Oil 

You’ll need:

For an oil or salve, you want to aim for about a 5% dilution, which looks something like this in a 5 ml bottle. (You don’t need all that much.)

20170218_113414_resized

This is a pretty equal combination of lavender and peppermint – both are used in aromatherapy to help with headaches. I went a little heavier on the peppermint because I like its cooling effect on the skin.

The best way to transfer the oil is to hold the bottle right up against the container.

20170218_113057_resized

 

Fill the rest of the roller with fractionated coconut oil and snap on the roller top. (Note: weightlifting, chalk and kettlebell swings do not a hand model make.)

20170218_113605_resized

Label it however your like (or don’t). I had these stickers left over from samples. (Make a few extra rollers and give them as gifts to all your stressed out friends!)

20170218_114002_resized

Rub it on your temples, forehead, wrists and neck. Take deep belly breaths.

Not into DIY?

If the thought of making your own headache oil actually gives you a headache, I recommend checking out this Past Tense rollerball, which also includes wintergreen, frankincense, cilantro, marjoram, roman chamomile, basil, and rosemary.

20170218_114157_resized

You know that feeling of being trapped in a hot, stuffy room for an hour and then finally stepping outside into bright, chilly sunshine? Like, your sweaty neck gets all frosty and your head and nasal passages clear? And you know you should probably put on a coat, but the cold just feels so darn refreshing? Past Tense is that feeling in a little rollerball.

For more information on essential oils, or to place an order, visit www.mydoterra.com/jenessaconnor

Home Workouts for When the Weather Sucks

I have regular access to three gyms, all of which are within a 15-minute walk. But sometimes – especially when the wind is whipping down the slushy streets of Brooklyn – I just don’t have it in me to layer up and leave the house. Luckily, as a personal trainer and fitness nerd, I’ve amassed a decent collection of multi-purpose exercise equipment:

img_20170211_175259_655-1
Ab Carver Pro, 15 lb slam ball, old ass dumbbell, and ALL the bands.

(Aside: I posted this same photo on Instagram the other night, and my friend Sara commented that it looked like I’d raided the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ supply closet.)

If I were a programming a workout for a client, I would sit down and spend some dedicated time considering their goals and interests so I could put together a workout that balanced cardio, resistance training and mobility. But, honestly, I was pressed for time and feeling spontaneous, so I just kinda winged it… And it turned out to be fun and challenging.

The lesson – planning exercise can help keep you on track with your goals, but sometimes overthinking workouts can get in the way of actually doing them.

If you’re curious, Here’s what I did:

2 sets of

Tabata: no push-up burpee (I have downstairs neighbors)

6-minute AMRAP of

3 sets of banded monster walks

  • forward, backward, left, right

Tabata: alternating banded pull-aparts and curtsy squats

5 Rounds:

3 Rounds with ab roller

  • 10 forward
  • 5 right
  • 5 left

Turkish Get-up practice with dumbbell – I struggle with form/sequencing on this, so I’ve been trying to fit in some practice time at the end of workouts.

I got it all done in under an hour, and I was super sweaty. Success!

If you’re interested in adding home workouts to your schedule but don’t have much in the way of equipment, here’s a little workout I put together for a recent Men’s Journal article. You only need a chair!

mj-screenshot

Question: Do you work out at home? What are some of your tips and/or challenges?

My Day as a Devil

As discussed in my previous post, I spend most of my days working independently at home in my sweatpants with a cat in my lap and a mug of coffee within reach. But every once in a while my job gets me out of the house and transports me to exotic, faraway locations like…

prudential-center
Image Source: The Prudential Center

Newark, New Jersey!

A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit The Prudential Center for a tour and on-site workout with the strength and conditioning team for the New Jersey Devils. Everything I know about training for the ice comes from movies like The Mighty Ducks and The Cutting Edge (toe pick!), so I accepted the invite in the name of continuing education.

The circuit workout that head coach Joe Lorincz programmed  wasn’t all that different from a typical CrossFit EMOM, or an AMRAP I might put together for a client interested in slimming down and building muscle. We cycled through a short warm-up of power moves like box jumps and medball slams, and then moved into a lengthier circuit filled with strength training exercises like weighted carries, sled pushes, deadlifts, and ring rows. But there were a few hockey-specific tweaks, like a focus on balance. After the workout, I had the chance to chat with Coach Lorincz for this article for Men’s Journal.

mjscreenshot

I’m not sure I’m ready to hit the ice (unless it’s with my ass – that’s a guarantee any time I put on skates). But I am thinking about how to better address posture and balance in my own workouts. Even if you’re not zipping around on razor blades, being able to stand on one foot is important in everyday life (we do it every time we run, climb stairs, step over puddles…), and balance becomes increasingly important as we age and become more susceptible to falls and resulting injury.

img_20161213_172809
Post workout with the Devils’ strength and conditioning coaches

Looking for one small way to address balance training into your workout? Try adding walking knee hugs to your warm-up.  You’ll stretch the hips, glutes, and hamstrings and challenge your ability to balance on one foot.

On Working “Alone”

I’ve been freelancing and working from home for just about two years now, and the number one thing that people ask me about is whether or not I miss the standard, daily dose of human interaction that comes with an office job and co-workers.

The truth is that I don’t.

introvert-mm

Yes, I’m an introvert. And I mostly write for a living, which is a solitary profession by nature. But, I also really do enjoy teamwork, collaboration and a lively exchange of ideas. It sounds funny and maybe unbelievable, but I actually feel like I connect with people on a more meaningful level now that I work for myself.

In the simplest of terms, it’s a quality vs. quantity issue. I’m not discounting the quality of all my professional interactions prior to going independent – I’ve learned tons from my past gigs, found mentors, and created life-long friendships. But for every truly memorable and important conversation I had working a 9-to-5, I probably had a hundred that were a complete waste of time. My days were stuffed with unnecessary check-ins, endless “due diligence” phone calls, and meetings that no one cared about. And don’t forget about the hours spent trying to just schedule all these pointless interactions.

introvert-downton

And worse was the way meetings and phone calls were often exploited in unhealthy, politically charged work environments. Ever been on a call and realize its true purpose is to antagonize, expose, or enact revenge on a colleague? Unfortunately, most of us have.

introvert-parks

No one wastes my time like this anymore. (I’m not saying I don’t waste time. I certainly do, but it’s always on my terms.) Maybe it’s because I’m on the periphery and not on the payroll, so clients are more mindful of my time. But I think it’s mostly because I’m doing something that I truly love, and I’m getting to seek out who I want to work with.

These days, I probably average one or two phone calls or meetings a week, and I’m (almost) always excited to have them. They (almost) all feel like opportunities. Opportunities to work on something new, make a current project better, or learn from an expert. A ringing phone used to fill me with a sense of dread, but I’ve grown to really enjoy interviewing people, especially people who are just as excited about what they’re doing as I am.

booth.gif

This is where I find that sense of community and partnership. Sure, every once in a while it would be nice to spontaneously walk to Starbucks with a coworker or vent about my frustrations (still got those) with a colleague in the office next door. But I’ll forgo all these perks if I can keep the vast majority of my interactions positive and purposeful.

What’s your ideal work environment?