Traveling is a huge passion of mine and I’m always planning my next adventure. Over the years, my ideal vacation schedule has definitely changed and I now appreciate a more relaxing, low key trip. I also pay more attention to my physical and mental health and avoid overdoing anything. My energy level is way higher, I don’t feel sluggish, and I’m actually recharged when I get home. I certainly enjoy a few adult beverages and don’t count calories or anything like that, but I do try and take care of myself and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Here are a few tried and true tips that help me feel my absolute best and stay healthy on vacation:

  1. Plan Ahead. A day of travel can be tricky to navigate. Thankfully, I’ve seen healthier options at airports, but they are pricey and hard to find. I recommend packing a few snacks (cut up veggies, dried fruits, your favorite crackers), and have them ready to go in a backpack or carry-on. Also, I usually opt for hot green tea instead of coffee, especially if I have a long flight, as traveling can be super dehydrating and hard on your immune system. Drink five times more than you think you need in flight. Avoid airplane snacks and meals–usually processed, sodium-rich, and cheap. Carry hand sanitizer (I use EO organic) and take natural immunity supplements. If possible, sweat when you get off the plane (a quick workout, sauna sesh, or walk/ run) to release those toxins. Also, melatonin is known to help with jet lag.
  2. Sleep. This is imperative and non-negotiable. We lead such hectic lives and are often sleep deprived. When I’m on vacation, I don’t set an alarm and just wake up naturally. I even squeeze in nap time and just let my body relax. Especially after a day of traveling (time zones, carrying luggage, etc) it’s important to give your body a break. If you have a daily itinerary, try to schedule enough sleep to recharge and conquer your day. Sleeping for hours is beyond rejuvenating and much needed.
  3. Hydrate. Drinking H20 can be easy to forget if you’re out of a routine and exploring new territory. I pack a stainless steel water bottle in my backpack that I take everywhere (the airport, beach, excursions) and try to constantly refill. For every alcoholic beverage you consume, chug a glass of water. You really will feel better and your body will thank you.
  4. Find balance with food. When traveling, I like to try new foods and authentic, cultural cuisine. I definitely deviate from my normal diet to thoroughly enjoy tasty treats and flavorful dishes. I don’t beat myself up over some indulging, but I do try and swap out certain foods for healthier options when I can (especially for breakfast and lunch). For example, if the burger comes with fries, I’ll order with fresh fruit instead or just opt for a vibrant, colorful salad or smoothie. I don’t believe in a restrictive diet, especially on vacation, but I stay aware of my body which typically craves nutritious food.
  5. Do your research. Scope out local restaurants that offer healthy + tasty options (farm to table or restaurants that value sustainability) and use good judgment. A restaurant that looks unhealthy probably is. If you’re cooking for yourself, even better! It’s so fun to check out local produce and plan a healthy, delicious meal. Or, opt for a picnic where you can scoop up your own groceries–this is a great way to stick with those nourishing staples. Pro tip: Having issues with digestion? Take SBO probiotics to help get things moving!
  6. Get active. Go for a run or walk on the beach, explore a new city on foot for miles and miles, hike some trails, or crush a quick workout. Sometimes I’ll take my yoga mat to the beach and relish in a few sun salutations or just take off for a quick jog.  I also love finding local studios when I travel or taking classes at the resort (water aerobics anyone!?). Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a workout or need a break; however, don’t underestimate the power of movement…even if it is a short walk or stretch break to keep you energized. Just have fun while doing it!
  7. Protect Your Skin. If you’re traveling somewhere warm, have that sunscreen ready. There’s nothing worse than getting burned the first day of vacation –it can literally ruin your trip. I buy sunscreen in advance (they’re usually overpriced at the hotel) and opt for natural lotions and sunblock. I don’t settle for anything less than SPF 30, slather on every couple hours, and I swear it’s kept my skin looking young and vibrant. I also wear a sunhat and take extra care of my skin so I don’t feel uncomfortable or dry.
  8. Unplug from technology. Vacation is the best time for a digital detox. If you’re constantly glued to your phone or computer, switch to airplane mode and give your tech a rest. Pick up a book instead or soak up every second of a foreign, vibrant culture. You’re much less likely to worry about what you’re missing back at home or sending everyone updates. There’s time for that later–just live in the moment and enjoy your travel adventures–it goes by so fast!
  9. Practice gratitude. Whether it’s a quick road trip or a luxurious getaway, having the means to travel is a blessing. I genuinely appreciate the opportunity to escape, explore, and decompress. Take time to meditate, pray, take a solo walk, practice yoga, or whatever grounds you.
  10. Know your essentials. When traveling, so many things are outside of our typical routine. Go into a trip knowing the top three things you need in order to feel good—your bare essentials—and do whatever it takes to protect those essentials. Mine are good sleep, a decent amount of vegetables, and some sort of movement. If these essentials are met, then I can be flexible with everything else.

Hopefully, you find these tips helpful as you prepare for your next travel adventure. Have a blast, stay healthy, and enjoy every minute!

Are you wanting a more personalized approach to medicine and natural therapies? Whether you’re wanting to focus on weight loss, thyroid, gut health, blood pressure, or even mental wellness, Root Functional Medicine can create a customized wellness plan for you.

About Root Functional Medicinefunctional medicine

Root Functional Medicine was founded by Dr. Erica Armstrong, a practicing family medicine physician, and Kelsey Stricklen, an integrative and functional nutritionist. Both Dr. Armstrong and Kelsey are dedicated to providing answers with the most advanced care and prevention. Root Functional Medicine considers your unique genetic and biochemical make-up, microbiome, environment, lifestyle, and nutrition. You’ll feel empowered with the right information and they’ll support you on your journey to heal from the inside out. They offer both functional medicine and nutrition consultations with the option to combine the two in their recommended “Get to the Root” program. Discover all the options and programs available here.

My Experienceroot functional

The Root Functional Medicine office is located off Louis St right downtown Grand Rapids. The building is bright, airy, and refreshing. During my initial appointment with Dr. Armstrong, we thoroughly discussed my health concerns and goals. We also reviewed my medical history and determined what lab tests would be most beneficial. I was so impressed with the level of detail and more holistic approach. Dr. Armstrong is personable, attentive, and incredibly knowledgeable. She answered all my questions and helped me feel more confident in approach to preventative health.

After receiving my lab results, we scheduled my follow-up consultation to discuss a long-term plan. Dr. Armstrong reviewed my stress profile and cortisol awakening response, metabolic rate, stress markers, and nutritional profile. She also provided a portfolio with several pages of results and explained the data. It was so interesting to learn about my vitamin deficiencies and how to focus my supplement intake. Also, she sent me a personalized wellness profile with a recommended supplement schedule and protocols. I learned about what areas need attention and it no longer feels like a guessing game. Since incorporating Dr. Armstrong’s advice and supplement schedule into my daily routine, I’ve noticed a significant improvement in my energy levels and mental clarity.

Group Program: Grounded and Nourishedfunctional medicine

If you’re new to Functional Medicine and not sure where to start, on February 6th, Root Functional Medicine is launching their first group program: Grounded and Nourished.  If you want meal plans, shopping lists, and a holistic wellness plan to get healthy, this 6-week program is for you! Here’s what to expect:

  • 6-weeks dedicated to establishing healthy roots and feeling great in 2019
  • Focus on prevention, weight loss, focus, energy, and digestive health
  • 3 in person one hour group visits lead by Dr. Erica Armstrong, Wednesday evenings from 6-7pm on Feb 6, Feb 20, and Mar 6
  • Learn a true functional medicine approach to wellness
  • Private Facebook group, with the ability to watch sessions if you cannot make it in person, and shared tips, ideas, and support
  • Food log app to be reviewed weekly by the Root Team with recommendations
  • Root customized food plan and shopping list
  • Work through your own functional medicine matrix with group support
  • Learn how to heal your gut
  • Option to purchase functional medicine adrenal health saliva test and hear tips to improve cortisol (stress) levels
  • Reduce inflammation, improve gut health, nutrition, and stress management which leads to a healthy weight

Learn to use functional medicine alongside group support to accomplish your health goals. Whether you are stuck in a weight plateau, want to improve digestive and gut health, or you just want to feel amazing, this group will help you get on track. The total cost of this pilot program is $249 which is an incredible deal considering all that’s included.  Sign up here to reserve your spot.

If you have additional questions about Root Functional Medicine or just want to learn more, head over to their website: rootfunctionalmedicine.com or follow along on social media:@rootfunctionalmedicine.

A few years ago, I felt bored with my workout regimen and wasn’t really seeing results. When my friend shared a NYT article about Kayla Itsines (link), a mega-popular trainer, I was super impressed with her genuine personality and perspective on fitness. After browsing her Insta page (which now has 10.9 million followers) and seeing the jaw-dropping transformation photos, I decided to jump on the BBG (Bikini Body Guide) bandwagon. Kayla’s program is one of my favorite home workout routines and I’m so excited to share about why I love it. 

The SWEAT App

BBG App

When I first started BBG in 2016, Kayla just launched the app and it’s definitely evolved. It now includes workouts from other trainers, like Body & Mind by Sjana Elise, PWR & PWR Post-Pregnancy by Kelsey Wells, BUILD by Stephanie Sanzo, and FIERCE by Chontel Duncan. I’m sure the SWEAT app will continue to add more programs and trainers which is a pretty cool feature. I’ve mainly stuck with the original Kayla workouts and challenges. I just genuinely love them and haven’t felt compelled to explore the other programs yet.

BBG app

You can now choose from the ‘Something Different’ menu and use a newer training style if you want more variety. I’ve found that these generally include more weights and equipment. You can do several of the workouts with basic equipment, like dumbbells, a jump rope, and a bench, but some of the added programs require more full-scale gym equipment. If you’re at the gym and not sure where to start, the Full-Body strength program would be a great option.

bbg app

The app also offers food suggestions and meal plans, like what to eat for a morning or afternoon snack. Each day comes with a new menu and it’s pretty thorough with recipes, ingredient lists, and diet types. I haven’t used the food feature, but I’m sure it could be helpful for someone just starting out or who could use some healthy food inspiration.

If you’re interested in tracking your activity or overall progress, the app also syncs this data. I also don’t pay attention to these or even the community feature (where you can find BBG social media accounts and encouragement), but if you’re die-hard or need that extra motivation, it’s a fun platform and unique concept. There are thousands of Instagram and Facebook pages devoted to BBG transformations and progress. I follow a few and it’s amazing to see the results of so many women who are clearly stronger and have taken their health and fitness to a whole new level.

bbg app

The app is pricier than most fitness apps out there, and I think this deters a lot of people from giving it a try. If you’re using the app religiously, then it’s pretty reasonable and a smaller investment then a studio or gym membership. A monthly subscription costs $19.99 or you can save more by paying quarterly, half-yearly, or yearly (up to 50%, which breaks down to $9.99 a month).

BBG Programbbg app

Every week, the goal is to complete 3 resistance workouts (legs, abs, and arms) alongside a few low and high-intensity workouts. The low-intensity workouts can include running, biking, walking, jumping rope, or whatever recreational activity you prefer. For the high intensity, you can do intervals, like sprinting, for a 10-20 minute window. I never knew how much I loved sprinting until I started BBG. It’s quick, efficient, and torches calories.

bbg app

Each resistance workout is made up of 4 circuits, 8 exercises total, that alternate between 2 different 7-minute sets. I usually complete a resistance workout within 33-40 minutes (including a stretch). It’s super convenient that the app times the workouts, buzzes when you’re finished, and tracks everything so you don’t have to think about it. The workouts are super challenging, efficient, and effective. They’re pretty easy to learn and there’s a thorough explanation for each exercise. During the workout, you can pause to read directions if needed.

I’ve been using the BBG app for almost 3 years, so I’ve literally tried almost every workout or level. Each one offers something unique and becomes increasingly challenging. Sometimes the exercises can be repetitive or you may get sick of a certain ab move, etc. I just adjust accordingly and add weights or modify if needed.

bbg app

Also, I now have a home gym in my condo building which is awesome, but when I first started I literally did every workout in the living room of my very small apartment. I just had a mat, bench, and some weights. You can easily do these workouts anywhere and they’re super accessible.

My Progress

When I first started BBG, I followed the program for 24 weeks straight and rarely missed a workout. Here’s my first transformation pic after finishing week 12, round 1, of BBG. I did not anticipate sharing these so I apologize for the low quality haha. I was thrilled with my progress and it was the first homework I ever tried where I noticed results.
BBG transformation

There wasn’t a huge difference, but I felt stronger, more toned, and could finally see my abs peaking through! Here are a few more progress pics from when I completed BBG 2.0:

BBG Transformation

BBG Transformation

These pics were taken after completing 4 months of consistent BBG workouts and I felt AMAZING! My body looked more toned than ever and  I was beyond happy with my progress. Interestingly, I did not lose weight; in fact, I gained a few pounds (GASP! I’ll let that sink in…) This is an important reminder to  NOT focus on the scale, as my clothes did fit better and I could see increased muscle in my glutes, hamstrings, arms, back, and legs. Strength training and toning is way more important to me than being a skinny-minny. I also don’t worry about the scale because I maintain a healthy balance of eating clean/ sticking to whole foods and being active. Consequently, I’m stronger, more confident, and not obsessed over my weight.

bbg app

Now that I mix up my routine with more studio workouts, I usually do about 1-2 BBG workouts a week. I highly recommend BBG and it’s really an awesome, effective program. I’ve also tried quite a few home workouts/ fitness apps that I plan to review and share this year. If you’re contemplating creating a healthier habit or amping your fitness routine–go for it! Focus on the reward and stick with a routine.  You’re more capable than you realize and don’t let excuses hold you back!

 

 

If you’re on the hunt for the fitness fanatic, natural beauty guru, or wellness warrior in your life, this gift guide is for you! I’ve listed some of my favorites (both online and local) that will leave whoever’s on the receiving end with an elated smile. Or, treat yo’ self and add to your holiday cart. You’ll love the quality and uniqueness of everything listed. Happy shopping!

Beyond Yoga

holiday gift guide

These have literally been my favorite purchase this year. I own two pairs and they are so soft, high-quality, flattering, and versatile. I love that you can wear them for a lower impact class (yoga or barre) or even when you’re simply out and about. The material feels buttery soft and they’re just stretchy enough where you don’t feel suffocated. On the Beyond Yoga website, there are tons of options. The Spacedye Take Me Higher Long Legging is my fav pair and go with pretty much everything. I also have my eye on Plush Side Pocket High Waisted Long Legging (hello pockets!) and the Velvet Motion High Waisted Midi Legging –can you really go wrong with soft velvet leggings!? BONUS: Beyond Yoga has incredible company values that I really appreciate. They promote inclusivity by never retouching the shape of a woman’s body. Their sizes range of sizes from XXS to 3X. Two-thumbs up in my book!

To & Fro Activewear

holiday gift guide

Image via @tofroshop | Instagram

If you’re looking for a store that has it all, To & Fro Shop in Ada is your spot. They have SO much to choose from and you can pretty much gift anything you find. Think candles, water bottles, cute gym bags, leggings, jackets, hats–you name it! You’ll find plenty of stocking stuffers and quality merch for the busy woman on the go. To & Fro is a local store owned by military Veteran Carrie Papke. She has impeccable taste and is passionate about clothing that will help you love YOURSELF. They hand-select all of their clothing and carry over 18 luxury brands. They recently decorated for the holidays and the space is just beautiful. It will definitely put you in the holiday spirit. I own serveral pieces from To & Fro and wear them all the time. The quality, attention to detail, and style is on point. BONUS: They gift wrap too!

Simply Curated Candles

holiday gift guide

Image via @simplycurated | Instagram

The first thing I do when I’m ready to cozy up, plug away at some work, or just relax at home is light a candle. They are so therapeutic and make the perfect gift. I recently discovered Simply Curated Candles I’m obsessed with this company. First, they’re local (all candles are hand-poured in Grand Rapids) and are made with natural fragrances and essential oils.  They are also phthalate free & 100% soy. The candles themselves are beautiful–love the modern look and brass aesthetics. The comforting smell of Vanilla Lavender is my personal fav (I’m a sucker for anything vanilla) and burns up to 60 hours. They also have the cutest travel candles that are great for stocking stuffers. You can shop these lovely candles online or at Posh Petals, Jean Stoffer Design, Blackbird East or Schuler Books in Grand Rapids.

Fox Naturals

holiday gift guide

Image via @fox_naturals | Instagram

Holla if you’re a natural beauty babe! This is spot is not only adorable + local, but they ONLY carry holistic, healthy skin care products. Fox Naturals is committed to both quality and ethical standards. Their ingredients are vegan-friendly, use natural preservatives, and are listed on their website–no secrets or toxins! If you haven’t stopped by this adorable shop off Wealthy St yet, you’re in for a treat. Patrick (the owner) is beyond helpful, offers stellar skincare advice, and will guide you in the right the direction. Each product smells heavenly, feels fresh, and tailors to a variety of skin types. I’m hooked on the Rose Gold Facial Serum and the Charcoal Face Mask is divine. You can shop online or stop in–either way, you’ll easily find the perfect gift for the beauty guru or skincare junkie. BONUS: As we all know, skin care products can get REAL pricey. Fox Naturals is reasonably priced and you can find several items for under $30 (or shop their sets for even more of a discount)!

Amazon Teddy Coat

holiday gift guide

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, I’m sure you’re well aware that teddy jackets are pretty much the best trend ever. They’re incredibly soft and perfect for quick trips to yoga, girls night, brunch, a low key date, or even bundling up on the couch. I don’t recommend if you plan to spend extended time in frigid temps-they aren’t meant for shoveling the snow. But they are super convenient for running errands, etc. I found mine on Amazon and love it. The coat is longer and covers the bum (which I prefer), looks great with a cute scarf, and extra shaggy. I ordered in black (my go-to color), size medium (i’m usually a small but wanted a lil extra room) and it looks fab! Gift this teddy coat for someone who appreciates comfort and style–it’s only $50 and better quality than other options out there.

Hanky Panky BARE

holiday gift guide

These make for the best stocking stuffers and they’re pretty much miraculous. Anyone who gets super annoyed with having to constantly maneuver their underwear during a workout class (or in general) will LOVE the comfort and quality of this brand. I describe their thongs as ‘lace butter’ and they’re so beautiful. Scoop up a few pairs at To & Fro Activewear (they have a variety to choose from) or online–promise you’ll never go back.

Sorel Boots

holiday gift guide

I’ve had a few pairs of Sorrel boots over the years and love the quality, comfort, and style. Since I have a very active dog, I go on a ton of walks in the chillier temps and need boots that won’t leave my feet feeling cramped or cold. I do have a heavier pair for skiing or snowy trail hikes, but lately, I’ve been loving the Slimpack Lace Boot in black/kettle. They go with everything, are easy to take on and off, super warm, and great for brisk walks or running errands. I love wearing them with leggings and cute socks. If someone has a pair of boots on their list, then I highly recommend the Slimpack Lace by Sorel. Oh, and be sure to size up! I normally wear an 8-8.5 and ordered a 9.

Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 35

holiday gift guide

I was way overdue for a new pair of sneaks and recently ordered this pair (well, a few) from Nike and these are my new go-to. They’re made for running, so expect a little bounce with the perfect amount of cushion. I have a higher arch and they conform really well to my foot. I love the rosé color (I’m a sucker for everything rosé ) and overall comfort and quality. I’ve owned many, many pairs of sneaks over the years (I’m an avid runner and always looking to upgrade), and these are definitely in my top 3. They’re worth every penny and make me look forward to a jog or longer walk.

River Locks Pom Beanie

holiday gift guide

Stay cozy warm with this chunky knit beanie with a cute plush pompom from Free People. I love the black and white mix to spice things up. Most of my winter gear is black (surprise, surprise) so it goes well with everything.  The coral option is also adorable and would look great skiing or if you want to add a pop of color. I wear this beanie whenever it’s chilly and I’ve gotten so many compliments. This would def make for a perfect gift!

321 STRONG Foam Roller

Holiday Gift Guide

After a really tough work out or if I’m feeling extra sore, I foam roll. I’ve used a variety of foam rollers, but I really love the  unique massage zones of the 321 STRONG. It replicates the thumbs, fingers, and palms so you can get the exact massage you’re looking for. This would be an awesome gift for an athlete or for somone who just needs some extra theraputic benefits. Foam rolling is great for decreased recovery time from injuries, deep tissue massage, increasing mobility, healing damaged soft tissue, and reducing pain and soreness. I ordered this one in gray off amazon and highly recommend!

GR Natural Health

holiday gift guide

If you haven’t checked out my recent blog post about GR Natural Health, then read it over stat. They offer a variety of holistic health and beauty services including acupuncture, light therapy, health coaching, massage, organic facials, and even energy healing. Their team of holistic health practitioners and estheticians are incredible and I always feel amazing after stopping in for one of their services. They’re offering an awesome special for the holidays–purchase a $100 gift card for only $80. Treat that special someone to some much-needed self-care and rejuvenation. Or check out their online store of natural skin care and organic makeup products–they carry a variety of options with only the highest quality, organic ingredients.

I hope this helps with your holiday shopping and maybe you even found something you want to try out for yourself. Enjoy and happy holidays!

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Getting your sweat on is one of the best feelings in the world. That euphoric moment at the end of a hard workout is always worth it! The key to real change though (we all know this) is consistency and dedication. To help keep you motivated, here are some of my fav fitness studios in Grand Rapids that focus on sustainable change, serious sweat, and building a community of fitness fanatics that will keep you coming back for more!

4G Athletic

gyms

4G Athletic combines the best parts of any kind of fitness facility you can think of to create a one-of-a-kind space that’s revolutionizing boutique fitness. The atmosphere is modern and cool looking, with sleek designs and a very clean interior.  Unlike many boutique fitness studios that focus on one form of exercise, 4G stands for four fitness groups: MOVE, BIKE, FLOW, & LIFT.  With a variety of options to choose from on a daily basis, you’ll never get bored. Each workout is structured within a 45-minute format and has its own custom space. The yoga is room is absolutely beautiful, the bikes are state of the art, and they offer a variety of equipment for their HIIT workouts.

Allegro Coaching

fitness studio

A boutique studio in the heart of Eastown, Allegro Coaching believes in conditioning the body, mind, and spirit through fun and effective fitness classes. In musical terminology, Allegro means “fast and fun” and the 40 large group classes offered truly reflect their namesake. From Pilates and TRX to BODYPUMP, Boxing, Team Shred, and Tai Chi, Allegro infuses their studio with a variety of classes making the dreaded fitness plateau a thing of the past.

Title One Kickboxing

fitness studio

Located in Kentwood and Knapps Corner, Title One Kickboxing will make you drip within the first 10 minutes – no joke. Their kickboxing workouts incorporate kicking with punching (yelling is optional!) for a dynamic and uber-challenging experience. They also offer Power Hour (a true boxer’s workout) and Mixed Martial Arts. Title One believes in digging deep and seeing what you’re really made of. If stumbling out of a workout in a haze of sweat and satisfaction is what you’re looking for, this is for you.

F45 Fitness

fitness studio

F45 Fitness stands for Function 45, as in 45 minutes of functional, no-nonsense, air-gasping fitness. Hailing from Australia and located near Woodland Mall, F45 training merges three separate fitness styles (High-Intensity Interval Training, Circuit Training, and Functional Training) into one heart pounding, station-based workout. The fusion of these three training concepts has led to the development of 27 different workouts that rotate throughout the gym on a regular basis. If you’re looking for a punch in the gut with a side of variety, F45 Fitness is for you.

FLEXcity Fitness

fitness studio

FLEXcity Fitness is a HIIT focused studio blending leading techniques into a one-of-a-kind training concept. Built for ALL fitness levels, FLEXcity sessions are 56 minutes and interval based, incorporating cardio, strength training, and flexibility into each and every class. This signature FLEX56 workout was created to make exercise fun and effective. If you don’t have time to pick and choose between 50 different classes and want to place your chips on a sure thing, check out FLEXcity.

Orange Theory Fitness

fitness studio

Located in Kentwood, Knapps Corner, and Holland, Orange Theory Fitness takes your workout to a whole new level by incorporating data into the science behind getting sweaty. Each session is one hour and combines cardio with strength training using treadmills, indoor rowers, hand weights, and floor exercises to get serious results. During your gym session, you wear a heart-rate monitor that displays the data in real time on a screen, letting your trainer know how you are doing and keeping you accountable too. The goal is to hit the “Orange Effect” or the level where there’s increased energy and calorie burn up to 36 hours after the workout!

Grit Life

fitness studio

Grit Life Grand Rapids focuses not only on physical conditioning, but also nutrition, recovery, and mindfulness. It’s a community more than a workout class, and when it comes to fitness, there’s strength in numbers. They offer daily classes both indoor and outdoor that focus on boxing, full-body strength, and circuit training. Drop in classes are only $15.00, making it an affordable option anytime of the year.

Burn Boot Camp

fitness studio

Ok, you’re a busy parent with a full-time job – how are you supposed to find time to work out? Enter Burn Boot Camp GR. Each class is only 45 minutes but boasts an average burn of 700 calories per session! AND they offer free childcare at select times throughout the week. They also provide members with Focus Meetings every three weeks, or one-on-one time spent with a trainer to help you track fitness, nutritional, even personal goals. It’s a true lifestyle transformation program that helps busy families make time to get their sweat on.

MVP Sports Clubs

fitness studio

If you want big-time variety and amazing amenities, MVP Sports Clubs is your place! Offering over 400 complimentary group fitness classes each month, MVP provides its members with classes to fit even the busiest schedule. From Group Power to Yoga, Aqua Fit to Zumba, they have what you need to get moving and get motivated! It’s anything and everything you would want in a workout facility.

Friction CrossFit

fitness studio

It’s no secret that CrossFit has been taking the nation by storm, but have you checked out Friction CrossFit yet? At Friction, they leave the fancy equipment at the door and focus instead on great coaching and personalized attention. It’s group class, but the coaches and community at large are focused on helping you achieve optimal results by pushing you to the ultimate limit – and then a little bit further.  If you’re looking for a no-frills, personalized workout, head to Friction.

CKO Kickboxing

fitness studio

CKO offers 30 group classes per week combining kickboxing with conditional drills for a total body workout. Located in North Downtown with free parking, their trial deal is unbeatable – 3 classes and kickboxing gloves for $20.00. Get all the stress of the day out at CKO and pack it into your punch!

GR Challenge Center

fitness studio

Located on Monroe right downtown Grand Rapids, the GR Challenge Center is more than a traditional fitness facility. It offers challenging, sweat-worthy classes such as Yoga, Strength, and Total Body workouts, but brings a community element to the class that isn’t easy to imitate. As a member, you are embraced by a family of fitness and health providers dedicated to helping you find your best self through understanding, coaching, and training. If you don’t want to be another face in the crowd, check out GR Challenge Center. 

YMCA of Greater GR

fitness studio

Who doesn’t love the YMCA? Nobody. With multiple accessible locations peppered throughout the Grand Rapids region, a ridiculous amount of fitness classes for any ability level, child care, robust aquatics programming (the list goes on!) there’s something for everyone here. Get your sweat on exactly how you want to, without breaking the bank, at the Y.

Armentality Movement Arts Center

fitness studio

Find a low-stress workout that stills makes you sweat at Armentality Movement Arts Center. Joy, laughter, meditation, strength, and friendship are woven throughout every program at Armentality. Offering dance, yoga, concert dance, martial arts, global culture themes, fitness classes, and more, this facility is a place where you can get fit physically while also growing mentality at the same time. Feel energized and refreshed at Armentality.

Grab a towel, water bottle, and a friend to check out one of these sweat-worthy fitness studios in Grand Rapids. Share your favorite workout program or place with us in the comments below and be sure to subscribe to GR Healthy Living for all our latest updates and health happenings in the GR area!

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You know the drill, it’s lunchtime and you’re starving. Maybe you forgot your lunch at home or maybe you just need to get outside a bit. Regardless, you’re on the hunt for a healthy lunch spot that doesn’t break the bank or enlarge your waistline. Luckily, Grand Rapids has a ton of healthy lunch locations that are both lovely and healthy. Here are my top choices for a lunch date or when I’m on the go:

The Sovengardlunch Grand Rapids

Photo via @thesovengard | Instagram

If you’re on the West Side and looking for a healthy lunch meal, The Sovengard is your place. They serve up locally sourced, seasonal fare that’s truly farm-to-table. Expect a delicious meal and a trendy, cozy atmosphere each and every visit. During the warmer months, enjoy their seasonal patio and Biergarten. You can’t go wrong with a lunch break paired with Bocce ball & incredible food.

Clean Juicelunch Grand Rapids

Photo via @ashleyesugg | Instagram

Located in Gaslight Village, Clean Juice serves 100% organic juices, smoothies and more. Enjoy a post-workout smoothie or acai bowl made with immune-boosting superfoods. If you’re a little hungrier, they also have toast, bites, and the Heart Healthy Smoothie is so filling. You’ll love the bright atmosphere and smoothie bar. There’s something for everyone!

The Green Welllunch Grand Rapids

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A local favorite day and night, The Green Well stacks its menu with a variety of healthy options. Think warm kale salad, smashed brussels sprouts or quinoa falafel wrap. They have an adorable patio that’s perfect for some fresh air during a much-needed lunch break and many unique, flavorful dishes. Enough said.

Wikiwiki Poke Shoplunch Grand Rapids

If you’re on Wealthy Street during lunch hour and craving a fishy fix, head to Wikiwiki Poke Shop. Their poke bowls are packed with protein and pure deliciousness. The sauces, flavors, and portions are perfect for a lunch on the go or you can relax in their casual, modern space. The O.G. and Gucchi Sushi are our go-to dish & if you’re looking for something really tasty and unique, try the Bowl’d Up.

Freshiilunch Grand Rapids

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Located in Knapps Corner and Monroe Center, Freshii is one of the first restaurants to make kale and quinoa convenient for everyone. Turmeric juices, energy bites and grain bowls only skim the surface. They offer 7 different menu categories – bowls, burritos, salads, wraps, soups, smoothies & juices – and each one is full of innovation. We especially appreciate that they’re environmentally friendly and the variety of vegan/ vegetarian options.

CoreLife Eaterylunch Grand Rapids

Believe in the power of eating well with CoreLife Eatery. Food is viewed as a true energy source here. Enjoy green bowls, grain bowls, and broth bowls–always filling and always healthy. All of their ingredients are free of GMO’s, trans fats, artificial colors, sweeteners, and other artificial additives. That’s a huge high-five in my book.

Fruition Acai & Juice Bar

lunch Grand Rapids

Fruition Acai & Juice Bar is a super cute establishment serving fast healthy food for Grand Rapids folks. Choose from Acai bowls, juices, wraps, bagels, & toast. They even offer the original ‘I’ll-avo-bowl’–an avocado smashed base with your choice of toppings.  You’ll be obliged to snap a photo with Insta worthy ‘Acai You Baby’ neon sign. I also suggest their best-selling item, the fruition bowl!

Terra GRhealthy lunch Grand Rapids

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Terra GR serves up fresh woodfired pizzas, sustainable seafood, soups, salads and more. You can always count on Terra for a meal that’s not only filling but super delicious and guilt-free. The staff is top notch and they go out of their way to accommodate your dietary needs. Rest assured that their food is always served sustainably with a focus on local, healthy ingredients. The atmosphere is super cozy, dimly lit, and perfect for a relaxing lunch.

Local Salad & Deli Barslunch Grand Rapids

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If you’re in a hurry or need a few grocery items in addition to lunch, check out the deli bar at Horrocks or Fresh Thyme. Both are stacked with amazing lunch options that are entirely customizable. They offer a variety of soups, every kind of salad topping imaginable, and even custom-made sandwiches. Grab a kombucha or some trail mix if you need to hit the road, and you’ll be all set.

Irie Kitchenlunch Grand Rapids

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You can’t go wrong grabbing lunch at a spot infused with rhythmic Island music and positive vibes. Caribbean flavor and ethnic street food with a healthy twist, that’s Irie Kitchen. Try an Irie Box with Jerk Chicken, Rice, and Veggies – it’s the best! If you’re going the vegan/ vegetarian route, the vegan sampler with jerk tofu, curry garbanzo beans, and Irie shrooms is both filling plus oh-so-satisfying. The owners are intent on serving healthy, local options, and genuinely care about sustainability and quality of the food. Expect a plate full of healthy, organic, non-GMO food every time.

Bliss & Vinegarhealthy lunch Grand Rapids

Find fresh food, chopped salads and healthy cuisine at Bliss & Vinegar. (I love the name!) It’s a quick service, healthy option in the Forest Hills area. And their dressings are to die for. Not only can you pile your salads with a variety of tasty, healthy toppings, but they have soup with focaccia bread, warm bowls with a quinoa blend, and wraps. Need a healthy snack to go? Stash a few of their homemade protein bars in your car and you won’t be reaching for any junk food.

Sip Organic Juice Barhealthy lunch Grand Rapids

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Nestled directly next to Bliss & Vinegar, find your juice fix at Sip Organic Juice Bar. This place was made for health and wellness fanatics. Not only do they use the highest quality, most sustainable ingredients, but they offer a variety of menu options that are packed with nutritional value. Think elixers (try HELP! for an anti-inflammatory cocktail), juices, smoothies, acai bowls, and sustainable meal replacements. The Jenergy bar compliments any smoothie and you can also scoop up lettuce wraps or infused water. For a complete reset, try their 3-day and 5-day raw food detox plans.

Grain Sandwich Shop

healthy lunch Grand Rapids

At Grain Sandwhich Shop, you’ll find traditional, staple lunch options with a healthy twist.  They only use the freshest local ingredients from local farms and meat shops (they even list the vendors on their website).  Try the That’s My Yam or Veg Head to get your vegetarian fix or the Chicken Salad to fill your sandwich craving. Need catering for your office or event? They have reasonably priced catering options and even offer bagged lunches.

There are my top lunch spots for a satisfying and delicious midday meal in Grand Rapids. Have I missed anything? Let me know in the comments! And be sure follow GR Healthy Living on Instagram for the latest health-related news and updates.

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You may have heard about Michigan’s reputation as one of the top apple producing states in the country. But did you know that most of those apple orchards are concentrated just outside of Grand Rapids? Known locally as “the Ridge,” this agricultural mecca northwest of GR is home to dozens of orchards, where apples are grown by the billions. Take a drive up Fruit Ridge Avenue this fall, or better yet, get in on the action with eight great u-pick apple orchards!

Schwallier’s Country Basket

grand rapids apple orchards

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Conveniently located at the corner of 9 Mile and M37, Schwallier’s Country Basket offers all sorts of local produce grown minutes away. Schwallier’s grows fifteen different varieties of apples. Check out their Facebook page for the most recent information on U-Pick hours.

Ed Dunneback & Girls Farm Marketgrand rapids apple orchard

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Look for the bright pink John Deere tractor; you can’t miss Ed Dunneback & Girls Farm Market. These “farm lovin’ females” know how to host a fun afternoon! In addition to the U-Pick apple orchards, Dunneback & Girls also have a corn maze, bakery, and gift shop on site. When you’re finished picking, treat yourself to a homemade caramel apple shake on the deck and enjoy those farm views!

Steffens Orchard Marketgrand rapids apple orchards

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Another great option on the Ridge is Steffens Orchard Market. Steffens will get you outfitted with wagons, bags, and baskets, and point you in the right direction. The hardest part will be deciding which of their ten delicious apple varieties to take home! An excellent option for those with kids, Steffens also has a swing set, wooden tractor, and a free moon bounce on the weekends.

Fruit Ridge Hayridesgrand rapids apple orchards

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What better way to #discovertheridge than to enjoy a hayride after apple picking? At Fruit Ridge Hayrides, you can do both! On Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, you can easily lose track of time at the corn maze, petting zoo, pony rides, and of course, while picking your share of Honeycrisp.

Robinette’s Apple Haus & Winerygrand rapids apple orchards

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Of course, not every great apple orchard is located on the Ridge. Robinette’s Apple Haus is right at the corner of 4 Mile and East Beltline and has all the staples of the perfect fall day: U-Pick Apple orchards, a hiking trail through the farm, wine and cider tasting, hay rides, and a corn maze. Check out their website to see the latest apple varieties.  

Crane Orchardsgrand rapids apple orchards

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A visit to Crane Orchards is well worth the drive to Fennville! Located on the shores of beautiful Hutchins Lake, U-Pickers at Crane’s are free to peruse the farm in search of all seventeen apple varieties. When you’ve picked your fill, be sure to stop at Crane’s Pie Pantry, the famous on-site restaurant that put Fennville, Michigan on the map!

Hanulcik Farm Marketgrand rapids apple orchards

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If you’re looking for apples on the east side of Grand Rapids, head to Hanulcik Farm Market in Ionia! A family operation since 1936, Hanulcik has seven apple varieties available for picking Friday through Sunday. You can also visit their farm market, where you can browse for local honey, maple syrup, and locally-made goat milk soap!

Summersweet Orchardgrand rapids apple orchards

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During the summer months, peaches and cherries steal the show at Summersweet Orchard in Caledonia, but apples are the main fall attraction! Located on 92nd Street east of Kalamazoo Avenue, Summersweet will keep you updated with the best spots, varieties, and picking times on their Facebook page.

Apple season is in full swing, so grab some friends and get out there!

About the Author

Nick Meekhof  graduated from Calvin College with a major in writing and a minor in geography. A farmer for the first twenty-three years of his life, Nick currently works for the Michigan Department of Agriculture. When he’s not traversing the state conducting orchard inspections, he can be found exploring the rivers, forests, and small towns all throughout the Great Lakes State. His current goals include kayaking one hundred Michigan rivers, swimming in Lake Michigan during every month of the year, and visiting as many Michigan breweries as possible.Follow Nick’s adventures on Instagram: @puremichiganguy

 

Whether or not you live on a budget, it makes sense to save money when possible. I am inherently frugal, but I do choose to spend money on healthy grocery shopping. My research has lead me to associate ‘healthy food’ with plants that provide the necessary minerals to fuel our bodies and I choose to keep a variety of produce on hand (eat the rainbow) because healthy bodies fuel healthy minds. Here are a few of my favorite markets in town to stock up on organic produce & nutritional foods:

Meijer

organic groceries

The Meijer on Kalamazoo has wonderful deals on all fruit, including exotic. A cherimoya was $6.99, for example, compared to $9.99 everywhere else. Meijer also carries an organic, natural line of products which are typically priced lower than competitive brands. If you venture to the back of the store, you’ll find the organic frozen aisle and gluten-free section, which is expanding every month to include a wider range of options.

The Fulton Street Farmers Market

The $3 savings could afford you a gorgeous basket of fruit at the Fulton Market (open Tues/Wed, Fri/Sat). I love meeting farmers here and learning about where my food comes from. They are always happy to answer questions and provide information about the nutritional content of their food. Also, many share how to cook and prepare the produce. During the warmer months, you’ll find everything from canned goods to freshly baked bread. When you first walk in, you’ll find local vendors selling everything from local meat to kombucha to sourkrout. They’re eager to provide samples and share more about their business. Also, there’s typically a local musician strumming on the guitar and fresh coffee sold for a $1. Enjoying it fresh from the pickin’ is best!

Fresh Thyme

healthy organic groceries

I appreciate Fresh Thyme (Burton) for many reasons, but mostly because the store considers health and offers FREE fruit for children. Fresh Thyme also offers a vast array of vibrant, fresh, local produce. Their produce section is always well stocked and I rarely have difficulty finding obscure items or organic options. Also, Fresh Thyme’s non-perishable section is packed with an assortment of healthy brands, including Siete Foods and Primal Kitchen. It’s comparable to a health foods store, and they even sell essential oils and organic makeup. The bulk section is also impressive. It includes fresh cashew and almond butter, and a variety of healthy baking alternatives. Fresh Thyme’s display is well cared for, and very high quality.

Horrocks Market

healthy organic groceries

Horrocks is known for an assortment of affordable, healthy produce options. The produce section dominates the store and they offer every kind of fruit and vegetable imaginable. The customer service team is always available to help find what you need, and it’s evident they take grade pride in their store. I’m especially impressed with Horrock’s range of novelty food items and lunch options.  If you love Horrock’s because it’s a superbly fresh market, you’d tip over after 2-minutes in the Lansing store. I now go monthly to buy produce I cannot find locally, or that is incredibly inexpensive. For example, giant, ripe papayas were often $1/each this summer. Try to beat that!

Trader Joe’s

healthy organic groceries

Trader Joe’s is my go-to for frozen falafels, organic fruit (2lbs of organic strawberries for $7, thank you TJ’s!), fruit leather (my kids are obsessed) and 10lbs of other random things that turn out to be really great! They have the best selection of affordable perishable products, including chia seeds, hemp seeds, healthy baking alternatives, flaxseed, vegetable stock, and protein powders. I usually stock up on my smoothie and supplement essentials whenever I visit Trader Joes.

Ken’s Fruit Market

healthy organic groceries

I try to stay away from Ken’s on Plainfield because they offer the best roasted nuts, right near the checkout. Every time I go, I eat 2lbs of almonds within 2 days. It kills me, but I can’t stop! Ken’s is community oriented and wonderful, offering great deals like $1 for a giant bag of potatoes. They also offer a great selection of local products and produce, and it definitely has a more local, genuine vibe.

Martha’s Vineyard

healthy organic groceries

Once you save money on potatoes, head to Martha’s. You’ll need a few extra dollars to spend here, with a selection that includes delicious vegan treats, hot pizzas, the best wine selection, or a fresh baguette, because they make bread, too! Also, they’ve expanded their produce section to include all kinds of options, such as leafy greens, fruits, and vegetables. Their deli offers healthier options and they have the most diverse selection of hummus I’ve seen!
There are wonderful markets in every corner of GR, and I love exploring them all! I will always appreciate great savings and delicious, fresh food! I’d be happy to share these finds with you, as long as you promise to share your great finds with me!

About the Author

Marin Darr is a local vegan and developer of the IG account CoconutsforPlants. Professionally, she’s entangled in the world of startups. To balance that stress, she studies plant-based nutrition, takes walks, rides her bike and practices mindfulness while standing on her head. She tries to live humbly, volunteers occasionally and appreciates family time. She resides in EGR.

Getting active doesn’t have to be a hassle. This summer, I have made it my goal to find affordable ways to get fit without going to the gym. So far, I have found that the best alternative is the great outdoors. You heard it right! There are so many ways to get active outdoors, and it’s free!  Summers can pass quickly in the mitten, as many of you probably know, therefore you don’t want to miss any opportunity to make the most of the sunshine. Here are some of my favorite outdoor workout spots and how I utilize the space around me:

The Stairs on Division and Belknap Park

There is a flight of stairs near my house that I like to utilize for some High-Intensity Training. I tend to do about 10-15 sprints bottom to top. This workout always makes me super sweaty, but it’s really beneficial. If you engage your muscles correctly, it will work your entire body; your core should be firm and your arms and legs should be pumping. If you do not have access to stairs, you can always substitute with hills or bleachers. They will still engage the same muscles and give the same results! You can find stairs or hills in almost any neighborhood. Utilize the bleachers at your local high school or find a sledding spot. A few popular destinations that you should definitely check out:

  • Stairs on Division located downtown.  After a few sets, this incredibly steep set will leave you a sweaty, breathless mess. 
  • Belknap Park has 2 awesome hill slopes behind the baseball field. These are also great for lunges and intense hill training.

The Stairs on Division

Stair Workout

Downtown & the Grand River

I enjoy taking a run around my local neighborhood, but one of my favorite places to run is right through downtown Grand Rapids. You can run past the infamous Blue Bridge, stop to stretch in Rosa Parks Circle and maybe even stop for a crafted beverage or coffee after your run. There are many different routes you can take so it never gets boring or repetitive—plus you get to see the beauty of downtown.

Rosy Mound Nature Trail & Millennium Park

One of my favorite hiking spots is Rosy Mound Nature Trail, which is near the lakeshore. I enjoy hiking this trail because I am able to hike to a gorgeous view while still getting a solid workout in. The trail has a challenging terrain, from stairs to inclined paths, and I am able to engage multiple muscle groups. If this is too far, no worries!  Millennium Park, closer to downtown, has more scenic paths to run or jog. It’s a quiet park that cuts through the woods and near a few lakes, making it a great place to clear your head and get active.

Millennium Park

Riverside Park

A local park can be as functional as a gym. Parks have a lot of green space for you to do some stretching, yoga, and circuit training. Personally, I love using my own body to work out, which can be referred to as Calisthenics. I am able to do these workouts virtually anywhere, like a park or my backyard. The playground set can also work as a CrossFit-style gym. For example, you can use monkey bars to do pull-ups or hanging ab crunches, or you can use the park bench to do some tricep push-ups. The park has a lot of potential, if you’re creative!

On top of all these wonderful outdoor fitness destinations, Grand Rapids also provides many free outdoor fitness classes throughout the summer. Funky Buddha yoga studio even holds free yoga classes in select parks, which is awesome.

Exercise can be simple! You don’t need expensive memberships or fancy yoga clothes. Embrace what the universe has given us and get active outdoors. These are my personal and favorite places to get active outdoors, what are yours?

Meet the Author

Meet local blogger, Alyssa Waid, the creator & owner of Pretty, Young, & Motivated.  Alyssa’s goal is to reach young women who struggle with self-confidence and finding comfort in being who they are. A senior at GVSU, she loves exploring what the world has to offer, traveling, and meeting new people. Her blog offers health, fitness, & lifestyle advice while encouraging women to be confident in their own skin. Stay tuned for more from Alyssa, who will be regularly contributing to GR Healthy Living. Also, you can find her on IG: blogger_alyssa.

GR Healthy Living - Grand Rapids Healthy Living Spot

The other day, I went out for a run with one my favorite fitness muses. Our plan was open–we just wanted to get a few miles in before a busy social weekend. Luckily, serendipity intervened, letting me be stroller-free, so we opted to run the trails surrounding my home instead of the roads and neighborhood streets. Suddenly, I found myself in the mentor position after years of being the learner. Which, in turn, allowed me to be present and enjoy the experience even more! Trail-running is absolutely my most favorite form of exercise. Road-running is second, with hot yoga taking a close third. They all have their purposes: trail-running fills my runner-soul; road-running gets the job done when I need a quick pick-me-up; hot yoga is a special “treat-yo’self” session I fit in when I can. Once you run the trails a few times, you’ll know what I mean. Here are a few tips and tricks I’ve learned over my many years of loving the trails:

Image result for trail running

#1: Start Slow: As with any new skill you’re learning, it’s best to start slow. Trail-running is no joke. Especially when you’re new, you need to pay attention to the trail’s curves, roots, uphills, and downhills. Not only that, but you’re also just going to be way slower than out on the road, so put away your speed-demon expectations and let yourself enjoy the ride!

#2: Expect to be in Oxygen-Debt: Speaking of a “ride,” like a roller-coaster, trails usually have a lot more hills at a steeper grade than you might be used to if you spend a lot of time on the road. Even when you reduce your speed, you’re going to be engaging muscles you don’t normally use, making your body work harder at a slower pace. When you work harder, your breathing will become more labored, a sure sign of the oxygen-debt that happens in an anaerobic workout. Basically, you’ll be able to get more fit in less time.

#3: Reduce Your Distance: You don’t need to run as far or as long to get the same fitness perks with trail-running. Even when I’m training for a road-race, I like to get in a solid trail-run at least once a week to keep my muscles interested and on-point.

#4: Your Running Gait Will Change: What I mean by this is that the terrain is so different, that you will be running differently to keep up. This is a good thing, even if it’s hard at first. You’ll find yourself more on your toes; running more in a line (if the trail is narrow); conversely, running more back-and-forth (when you’re avoiding roots, rocks, and holes); using your arms for balance when running downhill (chicken-elbows, anyone?); picking  up your knees (more root-avoidance); and engaging your glutes a ton more to power up hills. It’s totally invigorating–after a while.

Image result for trail running

#5: Enjoy it! This should really be the firsttip. If there was one thing I could choose about hitting the trails that I love the best, it’s the sense of peace and calm that comes over me when I’m out there. There’s always a moment where I feel like I can finally lift my head up, look around (for a second or two anyway..always be on the watch for roots and rocks!), and take a real deep breath of thankfulness and peace.  It is truly manna for the soul.

#6: Don’t Worry About What You Wear: Trail runners are notorious for their grungy running gear. Old, torn-up tees; 10-year-old puffy shorts; sweat-stained hats (to keep off the biting flies and bugs in the summer); and black socks (with or without holes) are the name of the game. There ain’t no shame in well-loved running gear that just feels good! No one’s going to see you anyway, right? If you feel like wearing your nice stuff, that’s okay too. Trail runners are a welcoming bunch; they know that once the bug hits you, you’ll convert eventually.

About the Author: Janelle is an avid runner of all terrains, educator of all learners (specifically English to 16-year-olds), and lover of all things books, woods, and music. Five years ago, she became a BAMR (bad-ass mother runner), and the world hasn’t been the same since. Exploring ways to find peace and joy in her life, all the while laughing at her mistakes with humility and grace is her mission. In Janelle’s free time, you’ll see her playing with her toddlers, laughing at her husband’s jokes, reading a myriad of novels and nonfiction, and hitting up Twitter for great ideas in the classroom, in running, and in leading a peaceful life. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter: @janellemiles