Staying Motivated + Keeping the “Winter Fluff” at Bay

Texas finally decided that fall was in session this past weekend, as temperatures dropped into the low 40s overnight and the wind started blowing leaves around the streets. The cool weather, combined daylight savings having it dark by 5:37 p.m. on the regular, means that no one is very motivated to visit the gym or attend outdoor fitness events.

I learned a harsh lesson recently when I tried to explain to a coworker that I felt uncomfortable lately due to a 5-7 pound weight gain. Apparently, I’m not allowed to feel discomfort about my current weight level since it’s short over overweight/obese.

(insert side eye)

Let me state for the record: Everyone has the freedom to feel how they do about their own body. While I will never advocate for self-loathing, I understand the occasional “Ugh” feeling that accompanies weight gain (or loss), bloating and any other kind of fluctuation. Combine that feeling with cold weather and throw in fewer daylight hours, and you have a recipe for what I call “winter fluff.”

Fluff is whatever you define it as; for me, it’s about 10 pounds that sit around my hips and midsection that are hard to move come spring. I swear, post-30, my body is holding on to weight like dog on a bone!

Self-motivation is going to be key for me (and you, if you have a mission to avoid the winter fluff), and I have some tips and tools about staying motivated when staying seated, wrapped in a blanket, seems like a good move.

Summer bodies are built in the winter

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Whatever your definition of a “summer body,” and there is no one true definition, you work at it year-round. I can’t blame anyone but myself for my winter fluff, so I have to make the best decision every day when it comes to my food choices, workouts and stress levels.

Assemble your workout crew

I’m very fortunate that not only do I have my Dallas Fitness Ambassador group as motivation to attend community events and get inspired to be up and at the gym, I also have my sorority sister Ashley, who is always down for the cause!

Photo courtesy of Ashley Hatcher
The DFA ladies (Photo courtesy of Ashley Hatcher)
Sweaty smiles with Ashley!
Sweaty smiles with Ashley!

It can also help to have an accountability partner close to home. Incorporate your partner, roommate, neighbor or coworker in your workout and you’ll be less likely to skip your gym appointment.

Motivated by mom
Motivated by mom

K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple silly)

A good round of exercise doesn’t have to look like a Parkour video from YouTube. Help yourself keep it simple by using apps that put the workout together for you. My current fave is the Nike Training Club. I’m entering week three of the 8-week Gym Strong program which is supposed to “build full-body strength with a focus on weight training over 8 weeks.” All I have to do is make it to the gym, download the day’s regimen and get to work. You can add in your own workouts done outside the app and none of the workouts are longer than 45 minutes. Super simple, right?!

Connect with free/low-cost fitness events

Yes, it is much more fun to do rooftop yoga on your #SundayFunday but we have to deal with the realities of the colder temps. Take advantage of the studios in your city who are looking for folks like you who want to get in a good workout and may be looking for a new studio for 2017.

My favorite plug is Mai Lyn of Deep Fried Fit, who puts out a monthly list of free (or low-price) fitness events in Dallas. Keep your eyes open for her December list.

How do you stay vigilant against the winter fluff?

Making Memories + Camping at Best Day Ever Ranch

True confessions: I’ve never been camping. I’m from Houston, I am a true-blue city girl and I hate bugs. Camping has never been one of the activities I feel like I missed out on and I haven’t had the opportunity in my adulthood.

Thankfully, I roll with an adventurous group called Dallas Fitness Ambassadors, and when they let me know they were planning a glamping trip, I jumped right on it. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of glamping, it’s glamour + camping. Think fireside wine glasses, luxurious rugs and all plaid everything.

In the true sense of Texas being a state of many landscapes, I didn’t have to go far to get the camping experience. I drove 45 minutes north of Dallas to Whitewright, turned off the freeway and a left and a right later, I’d made it to Best Day Ever Ranch. The Ranch includes event space in the form of a barn – perfect for the bride and groom who want a southern touch – and cabins for rent. Our less structured living space was down by Dream Lake.

View of our lakeside cabins (courtesy of Best Day Ever Ranch website)
View of our lakeside cabins (credit: The Best Day Ever Ranch website)

Though we were only there for a day and a half, I feel like we had all of the adventures. I’m so happy I went with semi-professional campers, who knew that we needed all of the food. Seriously, we had a spread that rivaled the craft services table at a Hollywood movie set, all courtesy of Sprouts Farmer’s Market. 

Our spread, perfect fuel for hiking and walking.
Our spread, perfect fuel for hiking and walking. (photo credit: Ashley of Fit Girl in Flight)

The first night, we indulged in fireside chili made by the lovely Chandler of The H is For and, of course, wine.

Tip for first time campers: It gets COLD, not chilly but actually cold, once the sun goes down. I was not adequately prepared for spending time outdoors after dusk. Bring your thermals, a hat, boots and extra blankets/comforters or an insulated sleeping bag.

The next day arrived bright and lovely, with steam coming off the lake. We did have some nighttime visitors, which brings me to my next tip: make sure you clean up your camp site well before turning in for the night. I was not brave enough to open our tent to see what kind of nocturnal creatures visited us. I’m fairly sure they were disappointed because we did not leave food or drink out for them to scavenge.

After the breakfast of champions – tacos and mimosas – we decided to go explore the Ranch grounds.

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Out here getting browned while walking at @the_best_day_ever_ranch. We #glamp and we exercise out here.

A video posted by Leisa (@veleisapburrell) on


I like goats and other animals from afar, so I stayed outside the pen and watched the other ladies play petting zoo.

From there, we went to see the event barn, which was being set up for a later wedding, and the garden with a gazeebo that is the DIY dream of many a person. We sent good vibes to the couple getting married later that day and set back toward our camping grounds.

We ended our full day with sangria, fajitas and more wine and tucked in for the night.

 

Early the next morning, we packed up our various vehicles and bid goodbye to Best Day Ever Ranch. It’s good to know that if I ever need a quick getaway with the girls, I don’t have to go far to find paradise. Between the quiet nights under a star-filled sky and the lack of cell phone reception, which makes you slow down and have deeper conversations with those around you, I really enjoyed my first camping experience.

Thank you to The Best Day Ever Ranch and Sprouts for their sponsorship of our adventures.

All photos below are courtesy of Ashley of Fit Girl in Flight, who worked with the best artistic directors, Chandler and Stephanie Suire.dsc_7537-1

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Shaking My Groove Thing With Jam Box Fitness and Baileys

If you’ve ever been to a public event with me, you will know that I can and will dance/shimmy/slide with no shame. Impromptu movement is fun for me. Some folks challenge each other to #StopDropandYoga and I just want to do the Electric Slide in the grocery store.

Me in Vegas for my 25th birthday, fist pumping for my life.
Me in Vegas for my 25th birthday, fist pumping for my life.
Wedding action shot of me sliding across the dance floor.
Wedding action shot of me sliding across the dance floor.
I even took on challengers at the wedding!
I even took on challengers at the wedding!

For all the fun I have dancing, choreographed dance has eluded me. Given more than three movements in a row and I turn into Ms. Two Left Feet. I didn’t let the handicap stop me from coming out for the Dallas Fitness Ambassadors fun event at Jam Box Addison. The event, billed as a jam session, had attendees enjoying lovely Baileys cocktails beforehand and then we were going to get funky on the dance floor.

You had me at drinks. Baileys got us started right with a refreshing mix of Baileys Almande, a gluten-free, nondairy (but not vegan) liquer mixed with Vita Coco.

I’ve been putting Vita Coco in my smoothies lately in place of sugary orange juice and plain water and it was great to have it in a mixed drink as well. One (okay, fine, two) rounds of drinks and I was ready to bust a move!

I had not heard of Jam Box Fitness prior to attending, so I had no idea what to expect. The teacher and studio owner, Dominique Lasha’e, told us we’d start with Pound class and then move onto choreographed movements, aka my nemesis.

Dominique, getting us ready to go.
Dominique, getting us ready to go. Photo courtesy of Dallas Fitness Ambassadors

Pound class sounded relatively easy: hold drumsticks and clap them and tap the ground in beat. Verdict: ouch, my obliques. While I blissed out to the amazing Rihanna-driven soundtrack and followed along with the moves, my core was working harder than I knew. You stay in a squat and bend laterally, which fires up all the big, supportive muscles groups along the middle of your body. LOVE the deceptiveness of the fitness aspect.

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Get into that core work. And yes, I’m wearing Chuck Taylors because I forgot my tennis shoes and nothing was going to stop me from working out. Photo courtesy of Dallas Fitness Ambassadors
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You can literally see my thoughts: “And 1, 2, 3…4” Photo courtesy of Dallas Fitness Ambassadors

Next up: Funk the Fit dance cardio. I took a deep breath, rolled my shoulders back and faced the class with all I had…and I killed it.

Photo courtesy of Dallas Fitness Ambassadors
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Photo courtesy of Dallas Fitness Ambassadors

We grooved our way through class and I felt like Ciara, Janet Jackson and just a touch of Queen Bey, rolled into one sweaty dancing fool. I’d gotten some crappy news earlier in the day and the class took my mood completely in the other direction.

After class, Pollo Tropical came through with the great-smelling fare. I was initially concerned that I wasn’t going to be able to eat after burning all those calories. Thankfully, their beans are vegetarian so I loaded up on salad, beans and rice with some spicy salsa to go alongside. Perfection. And right before I put myself in a food-induced coma, I got a five minute rubdown from Riviera Spa and discovered just how tight my neck and shoulders are. In all, a great Friday night made better by being surrounded by my fitness friends, dancing, drinks and food and a good mini-massage.

Shouts out to Dallas Fitness Ambassadors, Jam Box Fitness and Dominique Lasha’e, Baileys and Vita Coco, Pollo Tropical and Riviera Spa. 

 

 

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Dancing QUEENS! Photo courtesy of Dallas Fitness Ambassadors