The Flex Belt | My Personal Review

A few months ago I was contacted by Flex Belt to try their product and write a review on it.

Flex Belt Review and PackagingThe Flex Belt it is an ab toning system for toning, firming and strengthening the stomach muscles using EMS muscle stimulation technology. The electrical signals cause your abdominal muscles to contract and relax. It is really easy to use: you put on the belt, plug it in, and turn it to the settings you choose. The sensors in the belt do all the work while you are free to do other activities. A typical program takes between 30 minutes to 1 hour.

The whole package is very well designed and everything fits in an included bag. It includes the belt that has three electrical nodes – one that goes roughly just below the navel, one that goes on the left and one to the right. It comes with a set of sticky gel pads that you place over the nodes. They stick to the nodes on one side, and they actually stick to your belly on the other. Make sure you keep the plastic seals that cover up the gel pads, so they don’t stick to each other in between uses. I used the belt quite a bit and they are still sticky – I am not sure how often they are supposed to be replaced. The belt secures with Velcro and has multiple size settings based on how big around you are.

The program has 150 different levels, ranging from 1 to 150. Choose your level and like mentioned before let the belt do the work. I typically set mine around 50 – 80. I definitely could not handle 150. Maybe I could work up to it though. The stimulation from the belt takes a bit of getting used to. I found I was able to get some things done while doing it. I typically use it while cooking meals. I feel like I am accomplishing two things at once which is pretty cool. At the end of a program my muscles do feel like they have gotten a bit of a workout. Sometimes the next day they will even be sore. As far as the effectiveness of the product goes – I do believe it will help you strengthen your core with continued use. I have seen  more definition in mine since I started using the program.

For me personally, it is most likely not a program I will continue using only because I really enjoy actually working out. I also train many parts of my body and the core is a part of most workouts. BUT I do believe that this is a great product for someone who cannot workout, doesn’t have time to workout or has back problems and cannot do many core workouts.

I’m glad I was given the opportunity to try this product out. It is always interesting trying new things. I most likely will still use it on days I cannot fit in a good workout (which seems to be happening more often than not lately). If the Ab Belt seems like something you might enjoy using you can purchase it here.

As always – if you are considering a new work out regimen, please consult your doctor with any questions or concerns. This is my personal review of the product, I am not a licensed professional.

green-smoothie

Hurray for Silk Soy Yogurt and PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter

FINALLY!! I try a non-dairy yogurt that does not taste terrible.. in fact, it is delicious!! Of course the most obvious of all available is the only one I haven’t tried. For a long time now I have been a fan of Silk Soy Milk. And secondly, wahoo for PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter. For a long time I was very hesitant to try it but now I am hooked. These two ingredients have given new, delicious life, to my green smoothies. What is my new favorite recipe?

Green Smoothie for health

(Photo credit to Sweet Little Peanut Blog)

Soy PB2 Green Monster

(Fitting title right?) Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter
  • 1 cup Silk Soy Vanilla Yogurt
  • 1 frozen Banana
  • 2 cups frozen greens (I use a mix of spinach, kale, chard)
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk

Directions

Blend all ingredients together and serve immediately. So FLIPPING good!! And this kid loves them.. which is a DOUBLE plus!

Some other reasons I LOVE PB2…

  • No mess – peanut butter is messy, it is hard to clean up (especially mixed with oatmeal)
  • Meal prep – I can add it to my oatmeal ingredients and set aside for days at a time
  • Yum – It’s tasty, It’s good as powder and makes a pretty nice peanut butter spread if you add water. I’m not going to lie – If I’m going to go that far, I’m just going to use real peanut butter … but it’s a nice option

Sorry I have been so absent lately… I’m working on getting back into the blogging groove. Starting off slow with this one but I have SO MUCH to share with ya’ll!

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30 Day Ab & Squat Challenge

Happy April 1st! The first day of April always signifies spring to me – it is FINALLY here! I officially got my first sunburn of 2014 yesterday so that makes it pretty official as well!

To kick off spring the right way, let’s start with a fun challenge! There are a lot of 30 Day Ab Challenges and 30 Day Squat Challenges floating around the web. I know a lot of people doing one or the either OR both. I thought it would be fun to combine the challenges into one easy to follow sheet! I did not come up with these numbers so cannot take any credit but I will be doing this routine for the month of April and would love for you to join in on the fun!

The blue is for Abs and the pink is for Squats! If you are new to fitness routines feel free to take breaks or break the workout up into sets. Getting into week 2 there are some big numbers in there.. I don’t know about you but 30 LEG RAISES – that sounds really hard! 65 at the end of the month – OH MY! But we can do it!! And our abs and booties will thank us later ;)

30 Day Ab & Squat Challenge

30 day ab challenge, 30 day squat challenge, 30 day fitness challenge, squat workout, ab workout

Download the PDF here: April 30 Day Ab and Squat Challenge

Follow along with daily reminders by following Life of Kate on Facebook!

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Spring Training Bodyweight Workout

Happy first day of spring! The weather here in Cincinnati is still a bit chilly but I will take it over the snowy, freezing winter we are leaving behind! My spring resolution is to get myself back on track, back to blogging, and creating awesome recipes and workouts!

Today was super busy and after picking my son up late from school neither of us wanted to go to the gym. I really wanted to get a workout in still which inspired this one. I am calling it spring training in the spirit of spring (and baseball)!

Spring Training Bodyweight Workout

bodyweight workout, no excuse workout, workout outside, no equipment workout, bodyweight exercises, exercise routines

Download the PDF version here - Spring Training Bodyweight Workout

I wanted to get some good cardio in and bring the heart rate up for my workout because I knew it wasn’t going to be a long one. I’ll tell ya what, I definitely succeeded. I mixed up my 5 minute rounds a bit. I was indoors so sprints were out of the question… and honestly I probably only made it 5 minutes for the first round! If you can’t hit the 1 minute mark for the first part or the 5 minute mark for the second part, don’t sweat it! Work up to it!

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Running for a Cause

If you would have asked me for any reason at all about a year and a half ago to run I would have probably said, what are we running from??? I HATED running, passionately. And to be perfectly honest, I still really don’t like it very much. I’m not good at it and it doesn’t really make me feel that great in the act of doing so. I have no idea what this runners high people always talk about actually means. I’ve never experienced it. Slowly but surely I run more and more. Last year I did a lot of 5K runs. This year I am stepping it up a notch and doing a 10K or two.. probably two. Definitely doing the Flying Pig and I think I will do the Red Legs 10K as well.

Awhile ago I wrote a post that I never published. It basically outlined where my physical journey has taken me over the last few years and why I am trying to be a runner instead of spend so much time in the gym, alone. You can read that if you want. It’s more of a spiritual life story than anything else. Find it below this next section.

The main reason for this post is to promote something called Charity Miles. It is a FREE app available on the Android or iTunes market. It is a way to log miles walking/running/biking and earn money for your favorite charity. I’m not going to lie.. I LOVE using Nike+ for runs. Well I’m ditching that and going for Charity Miles. I urge you to join me. As I mentioned in my last post, my baby sister was diagnosed with Leukemia. I am running all of my miles going forward for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society under the team name #jessieSTRONG!

Charity Miles for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Run #jessieSTRONG

How cool is it that you can run AND make a difference at the same time! $0.25 per mile doesn’t sound like a lot but the more people who do it, the larger the impact! There are a ton of other charities to run for as well, this is just the one I chose! There are tons of reasons people run. Up until a few months ago, physical fitness was a very vain and selfish journey I had created with myself. It was 100% about my appearance. Keep reading to hear a little more about where my journey began in where it is now. How I got to a point where I begin running for a cause, not only for leukemia but for my spiritual well-being as well.

Here is my never published post from the end of January. It might not make as much sense almost 3 months late but it comes from a very honest and open place… I tried to edit it in places where it made sense to do so.

… why I run …

A few months ago I sat through what was one of the most relatable messages I have heard at Church in quite some time. A woman named Jenny told her story of how she lived her life disconnected from God in the physical of her life. Her story hit way too close to home for me as well. Obsessively counting calories? Check. Working out for way too long on far too little calories trying to burn that extra piece of food? Check. Obsessing over body image? OMG Check. Not relating any of these to my relationship with God. Oh wait… yep that’s me too. The more I think about Jenny’s message the more I have pondered over where my physical life has taken me in the present. Do I have an eating disorder no? No… at least not currently. Do I have compulsions? Absolutely.

I came to this realization months ago but I haven’t actually verbalized them to anyone. Relaxing my range of acceptable foods has been one step in the right direction for me but it is still so hard for me mentally and emotionally. I have had a very stressed relationship with food most of my life. Partly because I have IBS and well frankly that really sucks. Food has always been the enemy. And the other part is because of my fluctuation in size over the years. Since college, I have gone from a size 4 to a size 10 to tipping close to a 12, dipping down close to a size 2 at my smallest after I had Tyler, up to a size 8 and back to a size 4. That is a lot of ups and downs. Mostly attributed to my love (or lack there of) for myself in that time period. Before I found stress relief through exercise, I would relieve stress and unhappiness with food. After I found exercise, I started to relieve stress with too much exercise. A very unbalance bar. And now exercise is my enemy too.

The summer of 2012 was probably the worst stage of my life. I was a cardio addict and I was wasting away to nothing by restricting my calories. I went to bed starving EVERY night but thought it was normal. I definitely did not love myself or have faith in the person I had the potential to be. I had started this blog earlier in the year but kept it really impersonal for a really long time, I definitely did not talk about my struggles, only my successes. I dropped down to my lowest point around October of 2012. I wrote a nice little rant about the people who were trying to help me. I definitely did not see it that way. I felt very attacked. When I looked in the mirror, I didn’t see what I was actually becoming. I still saw an overweight and unhappy person.

In the midst of my body image struggles God found a door into my heart through Crossroads. I started attending regularly after years of sporadic attendance in the middle of 2011. I cried a lot, like a whole lot. But I still did not take action, I kept my faith very much to myself. I was raised with the good old Catholic belief that your relationship with God was an internal one. That our God was a punishing God not one you could have a conversation with. I did not know him as our glorious Father. I finally decided to get involved in May 2012. I signed up for Go Cincinnati. WOW what an awesome event. From that point forward I got pretty hooked on community involvement. God softened my heart and slowly I began to see Him as a gentle and loving Father not as a punishing and distant God. In the last year and a half, I have grown, wow have I grown. I cannot begin to explain the changes that have happened in my life through opening my soul to the Lord. I serve with an amazing group of people weekly, I lead a Go Cincinnati Group, I went to New Orleans on a mission trip, a lead a small group Bible study, I have had the courage to invite at least a dozen people to join me in my walk with God. I have let God take the wheel in so many parts of my life … except one. My physical being. My body, my temple.

I got better for awhile after I quit the gym in early 2013, citing financial reasons as the driving factor. I was saving money for New Orleans. Yes, I did need to save money but more than anything I needed to stop the cycle I was going through with my body. I started running outside, doing manageable workouts at home when I had time (like once a week), and caring more about relationships and enjoying life. And guess what, I didn’t change sizes at all. My life seemed to be in a perfect balance. A great relationship with God, I was enjoying life with my son, family, and friends, a growing small business, and my happy little blog. I came home from NOLA, found no reason to no longer not have a gym membership and I joined a gym when I got back. I am slowly seeing myself start to fall into some of the old habits I was in 2012. This time in a very different way. My poison this time around has been weights. I have hurt myself over a dozen times in the last 4(ish) months pushing my body beyond what it can handle. I am still not even sure why I have been so fixated on lifting so heavy and so strenuously. I haven’t told a single person that I was following a body builders routine at the gym for 18 weeks. I can only gather the reasoning behind it is shame of admitting that I am in that place in my life that I feel like THAT is what I need. I don’t even want to look like that. Maybe it is the efforts of the evil one getting into my life where he knows he has access. That same evil fueled by positive reinforcement by those around me who have no idea I am beating the shit out of myself. The comments that momentarily make you feel so great about your accomplishments but also feed the hunger to push harder, to do more, to look even better. It is a bitterly painful cycle. Exercise is so great for your body, when it is not abused. When it is helping you not hurting you. When you are benefiting from its great affects. I don’t count calories like I used to but I do know I should be taking in more calories for the amount of work I do when I workout. I eat very healthy 90% of the time to a point that it probably annoys most people. But I have a hard time stopping myself from eating in situations where there is an unlimited amount of food to consume. It’s a sickness. And it hurts emotionally. And then I look in the mirror and see my tiny little body and feel fat. I feel ugly. I feel inadequate. I feel like a liar on this blog. Like I am being a fake person to all of the people who read my posts because I don’t have it all together. Because I ate like a block of cheese at that party I just went to. In so many ways this blog has been a great motivator for me, it keeps me on track, keeps me cooking, keeps me positive. In others it has been my worst enemy. I feel like I need to perform in a certain way, I need to make progress and I need to have proof. Not having anything to show for that drives that inadequacy stake even further into the ground. All of those feelings and emotions … they suck.

So starting with my first real run since July, I ran… and I ran. I ran an entire 5K in under 30 minutes. Something I have never done before. The entire time I was running I asked for strength from God, to push me past this physical chapter in my life and help me let go of all of the baggage that goes along with it. And he helped push me and man did it feel good. Going forward I am going to run with purpose, with support, with my best interests for my body in mind. I am running with the help of my good Father (and he knows I couldn’t do it without him). I am going to be healthy and enjoy fitness again, in a healthy way. I am going to enjoy being physically active in a group, with other people working towards a common goal.

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We are #jessieSTRONG

How do you start a post that says “hey, my sister has cancer” besides just coming out and saying it? Yep that’s right. Our lives were turned upside down in the last week. On the evening of February 27th … almost exactly one week from this very moment my baby sister and mom rushed to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to begin what is going to be a long journey with leukemia. 

Let me rewind a little bit. I don’t talk about overall life stuff on here much – I usually keep it to myself and Tyler when I do talk personal life – but I have 4 younger sisters. The youngest of which, Jessie, is 16 years old. She is a sophomore in high school and JUST got her drivers license… like 2 weeks ago! Her and my mom took a trip to the doctor’s office on the afternoon of the 27th because Jessie had some pretty intense neck and back pain and swollen lymph nodes. They left the doctor’s office with no real prognosis and not a lot of concern. Hours later my sister’s whole world turned upside down. The phone call from the physician at the doctor’s office was abrupt and really rude – “Your daughter has leukemia, go to Children’s Hospital right now.” I don’t know about you, but as a parent and a sister, those words made my heart drop out of my body. Thursday night and Friday were absolutely surreal. You always think, that won’t happen to me or that won’t happen to my family … and then it does.

After all of the testing was completed we found out my baby sister has Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). All of her tests have come back pretty positive as far as leukemia goes, like if you are going to have leukemia, she’s in good shape. That’s really the best way I can describe it. But through all of the tests, unknowns, tears, pain, etc. Jessie has been absolutely amazing. Her strength through this last week has been so inspiring to me that I can’t even put it into words. As a sibling (and parent myself) I just want to take all of her pain away, to make all of this go away. Of course none of us can do that so we have to be as supportive as we can without truly knowing what it feels like to be her.

There are so many things that have come across my mind that I want to convey to my baby sister.
To tell her she is amazing and I look up to her.
To help her understand the love and strength she will find by leaning into God.
To embrace her journey and take everything she can from it.
That she is going to radiate beauty, even when she has no hair – probably even more-so without hair because her body is kicking cancer’s ass.
That I love her beyond what I can express and am there for her at a moments notice (and when she doesn’t want me to be).
That God has a plan for her, even if she doesn’t understand how cancer can be a part of it.

I could probably go on forever. 

I’ve done a lot of reading since we found out her diagnosis, both about cancer and about God.. and God and cancer. It amazes me that so many people who have overcome their battle have come out a completely different person. I read a really great article today actually, Don’t Waste Your Cancer, which I found via the dontwasteyourcancer blog. Both amazing reads. So empowering.

We’ve also done a lot of rallying as a family (and community of friends as well). We created a page on carepages.com to keep everyone posted on what is going on with Jessie day-to-day in one place. That way no one has to repeat things 1,000 times over. It has been working great so far. My sisters and Jessie’s friend’s are selling T-Shirts to help show support for Jessie and raise awareness about Leukemia.

They are really excited about them! I can’t wait to sport mine!

The girls created a hashtag – #jessieSTRONG – to keep everyone’s pictures, status updates, comments, etc. cataloged in one place, (isn’t social media amazing)!

And we have awesome friends writing awesome posts like Jennifer’s Be the Beautiful post today. She clearly thought we all needed another cry ;)

I couldn’t write another post about food or fitness or design without writing this post. This week I my heart has been torn apart but in turn have been inspired, touched, loved, blessed, and uplifted by so many AMAZING people. The outcry of support from our family and friends and even in some cases far away acquaintances is beyond words. I don’t think thank you will ever cover how thankful I am for all of the people who care about my sister and my family. I will be sure to post updates as time goes on about how Jessie is doing. Keep her in your prayers and send positive thoughts her way!

I will leave you with this image – it makes me laugh. Jessie dyed her hair red just for fun. It’s all coming off next week.

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A few tips on introducing edible flowers into your diet

Flower power: They’re not just for Valentine’s, they make a great addition to your salad as well!

A few tips on introducing edible flowers into your diet

A few tips on introducing edible flowers into your diet

Flowers are timeless, but they really take center stage whenever February comes around. If your mind is already full of flowery thoughts due to Valentine’s Day, don’t just think of them as something to stick in a vase. Why not consider trying them out in a more stomach-friendly setting?

Treehugger.com notes that flowers have been used to spice up culinary creations for thousands of years dating back to the Chinese, Greek, and Roman empires. A number of countries also include them in traditional cooking.

In recent years, edible flowers have steadily gained popularity. It’s not just a small cult following, either. In addition to their annual M&S Valentine’s Day floral offerings, UK retail chain Marks and Spencer rolled out a line of edible flowers a couple of years ago. Other major stores have since followed suit.

Still, one of the best things about edible flowers is that you can just grow them by yourself. Of course, you can’t just grow any flower, pick them up, and start munching on them straight away. There are a few guidelines you need to follow in order to stay safe.

First, stick to what is actually edible. If you’re not sure which is which, get a reference book on edible flowers. Here are a few flowers you can start with courtesy of OregonLive.com:

· Borage (Borago officinalis)
· Chrysanthemums (Chrysanthemum morifolium, syn. C. x grandiflorum)
· Daylilies (Hemerocallis)
· Lavender (Lavandula)
· Roses (Rosa)

It also goes without saying that the flowers you eat should be free of pesticides. Stay away from flowers found in public parks, too.

Generally eat only the petals as well, as the leaves and seeds of some edible flowers can be toxic. Remove pistils and stamens before adding them to your salad. You may also want to start introducing them into your diet gradually so as not to exacerbate any allergies.

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Bella Juicer Review and Juicing Recipes

I finally did it! I went out and bought myself a juicer. I have researched what juicer to get and how much to spend for what feels like years, then all of  a sudden, on a whim I woke up one day, went to Target and bought the Bella Juicer (because it was on sale). Below is the link for the actual juicer I purchased on Amazon.com

BELLA Juice Extractor

So far, I am a pretty big fan. It makes juice and is fairly easy to clean up! But here is the run-down of my pros and cons thus far.

Pros:

  • It is pretty easy to put together and comes apart nicely for cleaning
  • It breaks up large pieces of fruits and vegetables. I can almost always fit an entire apple in the cylinder.
  • It is fast and pretty quiet. Definitely more-so than my Ninja blender!
  • It is dishwasher save for easy clean-up, too bad I don’t have one of those!

Cons:

  • The pulp could be dryer
  • The mesh container is hard to get completely clean (even in a dishwasher)

This is my first experience with a juicer in general so I don’t have a lot of pros and cons to go off but those are my first reactions!

Quick cleaning tip: Line the pulp bin with a plastic bag and dispose of it when you are finished. Takes away a lot of messy pulp cleanup! In a perfect world I would be composting and my pulp would go in the bin but for now I throw most of it away. And let me tell ya- kale pulp… STINKS!

Now for some yummy juice recipes!! It is always better to use Certified Organic fruits and vegetables in your juicer. If they are not available, no problem. Make sure you wash them very well and remove the skins if you go the non-organic route. If you are using organics, give them a rinse and throw everything in skin on!

Big Green Machine Juice

Ingredients:

  • 2 Handfuls of Spinach
  • 5 Stalks of Kale
  • 3 Carrots
  • 3 Stalks of Celery
  • 1/2 Cucumber
  • 1 Handful of Parsley
  • 2 Apples
  • 1/2 Lemon
  • 1 Nub of Ginger

So far this one has been my favorite! There are so many detoxifying qualities in there as well. Definitely a feel-good, everyday juice!

Beet Your Greens Juice

Ingredients:

  • 1 Beet with Greens
  • 5 Stalks of Kale
  • 5 Carrots
  • 1 Apple
  • 1/2 Lemon
  • 1 Nub of Ginger

I love the colors that come out of this juice! So pretty! I really enjoy this one too. It is a little more potent tasting than the previous juice. If you want it a little sweet, remove the greens from the beet and throw in a cucumber.

Do not drink beet juice every day. It really does a number on your digestive system – in a good way. But ya, you get the picture! This one has been a once a week one for me and a great way to incorporate beets into my diet. I’m not a fan of them cooked!

I would love to hear some of your favorite juicing recipes! I am just starting to experiment but have loved it so far!

Cincinnati Sunrise over the ohio river

Sunrises + Morning Stretches

I don’t know if I have ever really talked about how much I love watching the sunrise in the morning. I generally get up pretty early every morning which gives me the opportunity to see quite a few of them. I also work in a high rise so I get a great view of the sun coming up over the Ohio River as well. It can be magical at times. This morning was one of those times. Unfortunately I was running a little later than usual getting downtown. I knew if i waited to take the picture until I made it to my building I would miss it completely (and it turns out I was 100% correct) so I snapped a photo from my parking garage… from my iPhone, which has terrible quality. But you get the idea – it was beautiful!

Cincinnati Sunrise over the ohio riverI am always so awestruck by how beautiful nature can be when you take the time to look at it. In those moments I always feel so much closer to God. He creates these beautiful things for US! Amazing!

Anyway, back to the getting up early. I get up around 5:00am or 5:30am through the week. Partially because I try to get to work by 7:30am and have a child to get out of the house as well. Partially because I get up and go through a morning routine to wake me up. About a year ago it started as doing planks, now it has evolved to more stretching and meditation. It give me a chance to wake myself up and spend a little time with God and my thoughts before my mind gets cluttered with everything else that I will be bombarded with during the course of the day. I wanted to take the opportunity to share some of my favorite morning stretches with you!

6 Morning Stretches to Start Your Day

I do each of these for 30 seconds to 1 minute which focusing on even breathing. This is a great way to stretch out and get ready to take on the day. For me, I sit at a desk all day (not always with the best alignment) so it is a great way to get started on the right track!

Cat-Cow Pose

This is a great way to stretch out the spine. Start on your hands and knees. Drop belly to arch back and look up at the ceiling. Hold for 10 seconds. Round out back and look down between your hands. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat for 1 minute.

Downward Dog to Cobra Pose

One of my favorites. I do this move as more of a vinyása rather than holding the poses. I move from downward dog into cobra pose and back again for a minute. Again focusing on my breathing. I hold each for 30 seconds after 1 minute of vinyása. These stretches are great for elongating the back and for flexibility. I am working on making sure my feet stay planted to the ground in downward dog. I’m not quite there yet but close.

Downward Dog to Cobra Pose Vinyasa

Warrior One

Stretches the chest and lungs, shoulders and neck, belly, groins Strengthens the shoulders and arms, and the muscles of the back. Strengthens and stretches the thighs, calves, and ankles. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Switch position to other side of body and repeat after short rest. This is another pose that might initially be hard as far as keeping your back foot planted to the ground, it is okay to have your heel slightly off the mat.

warrior one yoga pose

Warrior Two

I love this pose. It makes me feel so strong. It also strengthens and stretches the legs and ankles, stretches the groins, chest and lungs, shoulders and stimulates abdominal muscles. Do this pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute, rotate feel and hold for another 30 seconds to 1 minute. This pose is a test of stamina, it takes a lot of strength than you think to hold it!

warrior two pose yoga stretching fitness routine yoga routine stretch morning fitness

Extended Side Angle Pose

If you haven’t noticed yet, these poses are building on each other. The extended side angle pose provides the same benefits as the warrior two pose. But really stretches out the hips and groin more. Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Inhale to come up. Reverse the feet and repeat for the same length of time on the other side. This pose can be modified by resting your inner arm on the knee rather than reaching to the ground.

Extended Side Angle Pose yoga poses morning stretching routines fitness

Camel Pose

The camel pose is by far the hardest of the poses discussed here but it does an amazing job of stretching and elongating your back, getting into the legs, shoulders, and abdominal. There are modifications for this pose to help you work into a full camel. Start slow as a beginner! Try turning your feet in to make your heels higher if you cannot reach them yet. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute, really focusing on keeping your breathing steady as you stretch. Rest in childs pose after if necessary.

camel pose yoga stetching morning yoga routines fitness

Morning Reflection – Lotus Pose

I don’t consider this part of the routine. This is the end where I sit in reflection. I don’t sit in a full lotus most of the time but wanted to give an example. The idea is to sit quietly and reflect before the day gets started. To calm the body and be ready for anything that comes my way. I spend time in this pose talking with God and clearing my mind. I try to sit in pose for 5 minutes. Some days are shorter depending on my time constraints or attention span :)

lotus pose reflection yoga morning routine fitness

I hope these poses help you start off your day on the right foot or end it relaxed. These poses can be done anytime, day or night. I would love to hear your feedback if you decide to try any of them out :) If you are just beginning a great resource for how to do all of these poses and more can be found at http://www.yogajournal.com/.

Programs at the wedding

Allison’s Wedding: The Cowgirl

This past year I had the privilege of working with my good friend Allison and her husband Robert on many of the pieces for her wedding. Originally her wedding was going to be in sunny Florida but in the end they opted for an intimate wedding here in Cincinnati. It was absolutely beautiful.

wedding graphic design, invitations, programs, cowgirl, custom design, designer, kmd designsImage by Mandy Leigh Photography

Allison is super creative and created her wedding concept with many DIY ideas. I had so much fun working with her! She is a cowgirl at heart so my goal was to carry over a cowgirl theme but not make it overwhelming.

We began the wedding process by creating the actual invitation. What I love about their invitation is how playful and easy-going it is. Who wouldn’t want to join in with a tagline of “Beautiful Bride, Handsome Groom, Booze, Food and Bad Dance Moves. Are you in or what?” After getting the fonts and colors tied down we began to work on the RSVP card and Accommodation Card. Again, Allison being the awesome DIY chick she is, packaged everything beautifully!

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Like I said this image does not do it justice in the least. All of the pieces to her wedding invitations are available in my Etsy shop and the digital version can be found there as well.

Using the same theme we created her Rehearsal Dinner Invitation. I’m not going to lie, I have been a part of a few wedding parties and never have I received a rehearsal dinner invitation. Pure genius in my opinion. And it happens to be one of my best sellers on my Etsy site to date. It turned out beautifully.

wedding rehearsal dinner invitation, weddings, diy, cowgirl, wedding graphic design, kmd designsThis is of course a digital copy of what it looks like not the real image.

The actual colors are a bit different, like the invitation above but of course digitally you never know what is going to happen when you transfer to the web. The link to this on my Etsy shop is found here.

And finally, my FAVORITE part of working on this wedding, the program! I’m just going to start with pictures and then go from there because explaining them just does not do them any justice at all!

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And a photo of the finished product

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Now that you have seen them I will give you the run down. We wanted to find a way to have everything in one place and make it look beautiful of course. The program includes: The Ceremony, The Wedding Party, and a wonderful Thank You letter from the couple. The back side flips up to show their initials on the back of the first page and the Thank You on the back of the Ceremony page. These were printed on 110lb cream matte card stock.  I think every single person at the wedding loved them! More information on these programs can be found here.

As I mention above Allison is quite the DIY-er and although the following components had absolutely nothing to do with anything done by kmd designs, I wanted to share them anyway :) The centerpieces were created by painting  wine and Patron bottles to match their wedding colors. They look so neat! The flowers correspond with the wedding party arrangements.

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Upon entering the venue, there was table set up with napkins and pens. We wrote well wishes to the bride and groom and pinned them up on the pallet! I LOVE using pallets!

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Both of these were created by hand as well. The puffs were used as part of the decor hanging from the ceiling and the other used for a door hanging decoration. AWESOME!

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And who can forget those tutus!! Also made by hand for the adorable flower girls! Of course wearing boots :)

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 The last piece Allison shared with me is the Mr. and Mrs. plaques that were sitting at the wedding party table. These will also be used for their nightstand in their bedroom. I cannot wait to see what it looks like finished.

DIY wedding, DIY wedding plaque, Mr and Mrs, DIY cowgirl wedding, graphic designer, wedding designer, kmd designsAnd back to design for just one more element.

The last part to the entire design package that was put together for Allison and Robert is their Thank You cards for after the wedding. Their photographers did such an amazing job with their photographs that we wanted the card to be very picture oriented.

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Allison and Robert, it was a pleasure to work with you! I am so lucky to call you both friends! A lifetime of happiness to you both! Now go have some babies so I can design your baby shower invitations (just kidding Allison)!!

And of course who could forget their wedding gift from kmd designs. Printed on beautiful linen paper and framed with a grey matte to match the ampersand.

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