BCAA’s Versus Pre-Workouts: Are Either Worth the Hype?

Hi everyone,

This week I’m sharing some insight on BCAA’s and pre-workouts, because I feel like there’s a lot of questioning of whether you need both or any at all. The simple answer (I would say) is it totally depends on your energy levels. What type of workouts you’re doing and what time of day you’re exercising are big factors.

Jumpstarting your day with exercise would most likely give you more energy than trying to get the intensity up at 9 pm. But we work with our schedules, and you might need a boost!

Let’s break it down financially. Pre-workouts can be pretty pricey for small containers. You don’t get a lot of bang for your buck, unfortunately. And I find very sporatic results depending on the type of pre-workout I try. The ones I’ve tried and the pros and cons of each are below.

Vega Energizer:

This is my favorite pre-workout I’ve tried. The price on Amazon is around $40 on Amazon for the tub, which is relatively decent for pre workouts (but not by any means inexpensive). The taste is not overpowering or too sweet. I did move on from the pre-workout simply out of curiosity, and I felt that the effects could be stronger. But I felt that I had enough energy to smash out a workout. So I would recommend if you’re starting out and want a cleaner formula.

I love how the formula is dairy and soy free. It is also gluten free, if you are gluten intolerant. The caffeine is derived from green tea (hello antioxidants and no crash) and Yerba maté. Overall, I’d give it a thumbs up, if you’re willing to spend the money.

Vega Clean Energy:

I would not recommend this pre-workout, for two reasons. The taste really is brutal. I thought the reveiws could be exaggerating, but they weren’t! It honestly tastes like watered down, fruity sugar water. And sits heavy, which doesn’t make for a good pre-workout drink before you’re jumping around and getting your heart rate up. As for the strength, I hardly felt a difference in energy.

The Clean Energy formula drew me in with the promise of zero artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners. The caffeine is derived from green and black tea, and come to think of it, I think the “bitterness” the reviews are saying may be due to the black tea addition. As for the price, it is substantially cheaper, sitting at $16.99 on Amazon.

I appreciate the vegan and clean formula, but I will not be repurchasing.

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Ūnico Athena Intense:

I was interested in ambassadorship for this brand, so I got a few Ūnico products to try out to see if I liked them. The pro of Athena Intense: it works. The taste is also awesome. The cons: I would get an uncomfortable tingling all the way up to my fingertips. Not to mention the price is steep at $39.99. Consensus: I would say not worth it. Definitely keep exploring your options if you wanna save some money and not feel like Legolas that first time in got drunk with Gimli in Lord of the Rings.

Now onto the BCAA’s!

BCAA’s I’ve tried:

Ūnico Yumino: 

I got the formula in the flavor blue frost, and I was impressed! The taste is great and you get a solid 40 servings out of the container. I really liked using it, however, I did not feel the boosted endurance as much as I would like. I did think it aided it muscle recovery and hydration from the added electrolytes!

Overall, I would say it’s a good product. But let’s check out that price of $59.99. I got it during Black Friday so I did not pay this price, but wow. That’s steep.

Evolution Nutrition:

I find these BCAA’s comparable to Ūnico’s. The factors that made me switch to Evolution Nutrition were the price and accessibility of the product. This one is available on Amazon for $19.99. I like being able to get purchases on Amazon to avoid shipping costs, spam emails, and be able to make quick returns if need be. The container does note that you may experience a slight tingling on your skin, and that it is normal. It’s not an uncomfortable tingling and is very brief.

There are zero added sugars and the formula is derived from more natural caffeine sources- green coffee and green tea. The price is right and the effects have been solid so far! I have an energy boost without a crash and I like the addition of electrolytes. Because let’s face it, I just drink water and kombucha all day. And some coffee.

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Now that I’ve shared the products I’ve personally tried, my thoughts are that you could get by with just BCAA’s, as opposed to both BCAA’s and pre-workout. I found that BCAA’s give me the energy boost I need to get my workout in, as well as the added benefits of muscle recovery and growth. I do prefer to have a boost, because I like to keep my workouts high intensity and complete for me to see my desired fitness results.

A disclaimer: The fitness industry is huge. Brands are popping up everywhere claiming their products are the next big thing, and blogs and social media posts are constantly sponsoring and promoting gym supplements. Suddenly you’re questioning if you need to invest. Don’t give in without proper research, reading reviews, and evaluating what these products would do for YOU, and you alone. The tricky thing with trends is that they often convince you to spend unnecessary money. No one has time for that money trap.

For example, I added a daily collagen powder into my routine for the benefit of my hair, skin, and nails. That and water are an amazing combination! Take new additions slow, and find what works for you at your own pace.

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My advice: stay SIMPLE. Don’t purchase multiple new things to try out, start with just one or two new ideas to add to your fitness success. Focus less on the hype and more on what would most compliment your personal workout regime.

I hope these tips and my personal reviews on the above products helped! Have a great Wednesday. xx

For more of my fitness journey as well as nutrition tips, check out my Instagram @k_stateofmind

-Kelly

 

 

2018 Initiative: Becoming Body Positive Through Fitness

Fitness has unlimited benefits to an individual’s lifestyle. Not only is it essential for cardiovascular health and disease prevention, it also improves mental health and body positivity.

It can be difficult to believe that fitness and body positivity can coexist, with the heavy influence around us every day. We see ‘fitspo’ imagery on social platforms, phrases like “beach body’ and articles on how to constantly cut food cravings. Following these phrases and trends can be confusing and skew the purpose of fitness.

Essentially, these phrases and terms that are thrown around through media are body-shaming readers. Fitness ‘gurus’ have workouts even called ‘beach body workouts’ or tips on how to be bikini body ready in (insert time period here). Which body type are you trying to promote? It can’t be a universal one, because that would be impossible, wouldn’t it? Genetics are a slight obstacle with that one…

Let’s skip the awkward labels and cut to the chase here. You should workout for you. Year round happiness over seasonal happiness is key as well. Summer is great, but it offers a lot more than your showing of how many pounds you shed with that at home pilates YouTube streak. You are more than your size, babes.

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Be PROUD of your progress so far, and take on the rest you have to go as a challenge, not a chore. ❤

Hitting the weights or making it to your favorite Zumba class can improve your confidence in your body, by being active and learning to love the progress you make. Fitness can be an amazing release, not a chore to get closer to an ‘ideal’ body that is unattainable. Embrace your body, and workout because you want to be healthier. Have your fitness goal be happiness, whichever exercises bring you that. If you’re bored, mix it up. 

Don’t workout to earn food, or obsess over a particular waist measurement. Discovering a true balance of focusing on how you feel rather than just how you look is an important step towards body positivity and the power of confidence.

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Nourish your body and give yourself credit when you push yourself. 

I’m not saying I don’t succumb to body critiques. I just don’t let them run my life, or my relationship with fitness.

When was the last time you told yourself what you’re grateful for with your body? What makes your body ‘yours’? Because you are one of a kind, don’t forget that. Use fitness to start finding the positives, such as increasing your energy or strengthening your immune system.

Set your own standards. There is no finish line, because fitness isn’t a race. You don’t need to make comparisons to another’s body when it’s not a competition. Give yourself encouragement and set goals that will make you truly happier, and ensure that those goals are for you and you alone.

Make 2018 about body positivity. Go with friends to workouts or enjoy hikes outside. Take a new group class you’ve always wanted to try. Make challenging yourself a passion as opposed to a hurdle. Learn to love what you were born with, and use it as your source of inspiration, not as a subject of critique.

Exercise as sight seeing? Yes please… 
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If you open yourself up to your surroundings and a bigger picture, you’ll see more than the small details. 

Why? Because you deserve that confidence. Self-compassion and acceptance is not always easy, and is a practice that is often overlooked. Step off the scale and push aside the numbers. Choose a starting point and go from there. And enjoy the process.

How are you going to become more body positive? Let me know in the comments. xx

-Kelly

How-To Guide: Affordable and Quality Activewear

❄ Hi everyone, ❄

I created this how-to guide on deciphering quality and affordable activewear. Because, in the current financial climate, we can’t afford to keep winging it and ending up with disappointment. Ripped seams, questionable fit, undesirable price tags… we’ve all been there. We want performance quality clothes for the gym, that also look awesome on. It really is possible. And it’s a beautiful thing.

The two brands I’m featuring in this post are 90 Degree by Reflex and GapFit. Both have exceeded my expectations on style, fit, and durability. I received all of these items on discount (GapFit) or at a very reasonable base price (90 Degree).

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Here’s me on Christmas Day wearing my high waisted 90 Degree charcoal leggings, complete with fuzzy robe and Santa hat. 
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Same leggings, different day. This is the GapFit Breathe open-back top in Black. 

When you’re buying activewear, you are constantly debating price versus performance. Do you buy the Old Navy leggings in a pinch or splurge on the high grade $100 ones from (insert high price point brand here)? Tricky question, I know.

You can have both. The lower price point and the performance. My tips:

❄ When you buy matters a lot here. Taking advantage of sales and holidays really bring down price points. For instance, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which is when I purchased all of the GAP clothing pictured in this post.

I received 8 items from GAP on cyber Monday for a grand total of $195, as opposed to the original price of $355. I’m currently loving my modal sleep joggers while I type these words of wisdom.

 

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These are the gFast High Rise Sculpt Revolution leggings in New Vineyard. I’m trying to add more colored leggings to my wardrobe! Shoes: Under Armor Lightning 4 basketball shoes.
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Top: GapFit Breathe open-back top in crystal dusk 

❄ Always read reviews. From actual customers, not the website. If multiple people are complaining of ripped seams or unforgiving fabric regarding the same brand of leggings, you want to take that into account. My advice: go to YouTube. Customers there are brutally honest, and you can find many videos actually comparing affordable versus high-end brands.

❄ Beware of social media influencers advertising activewear. I myself almost purchased GymShark leggings based on the promotional reviews of their top influencers, but once I went to YouTube, I found horrible reviews. I am not in any way judging this brand, I’m just using them as an example of oversaturated social media advertising.

Instagram lovers, I get you, but just know that these individuals are compensated to claim the quality of the activewear they represent. What fits one girl’s body shape might not fit yours. And 15 reviews of a ripped seam WHILE in the middle of a gym routine? I cringed. Definitely do your research.

❄ Even if you love that celebrity’s music, you might not want to invest in their activewear. Carrie Underwood’s activewear line was all over Dick’s Sporting Goods, and I  know how I feel about it. Kate Hudson’s Fabletics has gotten a lot of hype and a lot of hate for the quality of clothing and the strange membership requirements.

❄ Stick to brands you know. Whether you’re a Nike or Under Armour enthusiast, these brands (and many more) are designed for athletes and active people with performance needs. Buying activewear from brands that specialize in activewear is crucial.

I know it’s tempting to get the deal at Victoria’s Secret Pink for their leggings for the holidays, but for real, I’m not going down that rabbit hole again. Every brand out there is trying to make activewear, but what’s the common drawback? You buying the brand not the quality, and the clothes lacking performance. Sad, sad tale.

❄ If you love Nike, for instance, but don’t want to mourn your bank account, don’t go to the actual Nike store. Nordstrom Rack and Dick’s Sporting Goods, to name two, always carry discounted items from brands like Nike. And if you really want to be a pro, I would recommend TJ Maxx and Marshall’s. Target carries Champion, and Costco often has brands like Columbia and outdoor active brands.

What I’m saying here is, I can’t remember the last time I paid full price for clothes.

 

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Top: GapFit Breathe deep V-neck short sleeve tee. These are on final sale for $14.97! The Back says “Girl Pwr Wins” 
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Under Armor Lightning 4 basketball shoes in Black

❄ Fabric matters. If I can’t sit down, squat, lunge, or do a cartwheel in a pair of leggings, chances are I won’t purchase them. I only buy online if I know the brand or the fabric of the item, because I am so picky on fabric.

Why I love these two brands: 

These 90 degree by reflex leggings are available on Amazon for an average cost of $22.99, and they are so comfortable. I bought them in charcoal grey and black to start out with the neutrals. The material is wicking, so they are great for cardio as well as weight sessions. I can kick high and squat low in these babes (they did pass the squat test).

These are the high waist leggings, full length, and I can’t tell you how important a compression waist is for me. Nothing bothers me more than a slipping waistband. My hips to waist proportions give me a very hourglass figure, making it difficult to keep pants up without the high waist. These even have a hidden pocket in the front waistband! I love them, and three washes in, they haven’t lost any shape.

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GapFit has been a longtime success for me. I feel like the regular prices are more reasonable than high end activewear, and I still get the same quality. I love high waisted leggings, and there are always multiple styles online and in store. I stick with the gFast high rise sculpt revolution line, because I like the fit and waistband, so I actually purchased two capris in addition to the purple leggings photographed above.

Gap has sales all the time, so I would highly recommend trying one of their leggings or workout tops. No pilling after washes, either.

I hope you guys liked this hybrid post of product review and how-to guide. Have an amazing rest of your Wednesday! Any questions on the above purchases, just drop a comment below.

The links: 

Under Armour basketball shoes for $74.99 as opposed to $94.99 (although I purchased them during a sale for $54.99)

GapFit Breathe Deep V-neck short sleeve on final sale

GapFit Breathe open-back top (they are all out of the ones that tie, but here are similar tops with the same colors)

gFast High Rise Sculpt Revolution Leggings (same style in Capri version as well)

90 Degree by Reflex High Waist Power Flex Legging (check out all of their colors!)

xx

-Kelly

 

 

 

 

 

Sustainable Clothing Love: PrAna

Hi everyone,

I hope you all have had a great week so far, and haven’t experienced the dreaded cold going around as we dive into November. A disclaimer: I have a box of tissues to my right at this very moment…. more computer time is a plus I suppose?

On a much better note, let’s talk about the clothing brand PrAna. I am very excited to note that I am now one of their influencers. I am so happy to promote a brand I believe in.

The makers of PrAna themselves are what they refer to as doers – they are yoga practicers, climbers, travelers etc. They embody what they sell. And they sell well-made, sustainable clothing. Scroll down to see the pieces I’ve purchased from PrAna, worn by yours truly, and every shot is Fall themed. I’m obsessed with the colors of Fall leaves, clearly.

PrAna is a company that loves to partner with local and international communities. They believe in serving the community and giving back, as opposed to just contributing to mass consumerism, and I respect that.

I think eco-fashion is moving in a positive direction in the fashion industry. People are recognizing that sustainable clothes are just as beautifully made and obtain great quality, without the harmful effects to the environment.

My first set of purchased items from PrAna:

The Clover Capri in Charcoal:

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These are so comfortable and honestly feel like you’re wearing air. The one thing I would say is that they are definitely more for pilates and yoga activities, as opposed to heavy weight sessions. I prefer more of a compression waistband for weights, but I absolutely love these for cardio sessions or mat work. The detail on the back is also really unique.

The Lyneah Bralette : (currently sold out in the Bayou Blue)

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This bra top is super flattering, and I bought it due to the length. I like bra tops that are longer because you can wear them by themselves or with another a layer over them. It’s not against the law to walk around in a sports bra, but it’s not something I care to do regardless. If you’re doing hot yoga, for instance, this top would be amazing for that. The back details with the criss-cross straps and flattering cut is so cute. I’ve paired it with the clover crop above.

The Remy Legging in Dark Plum:

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Because Fall is my favorite season, I’ve been mixing and matching with colors like mustard yellow, purple, and orange. I paired the Remy Legging with a cropped sweater from Nordstrom Rack (because discounts are everything) and my new Timberlands. These leggings are great if you want more coverage than a legging look, or in other words, if you want to cheat and wear yoga that looks more dressed up with an attached skirt. I plan on getting the black pair as well so I can wear them to work. Zero shame.

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Above is how the Remy Legging looks from the side. They’re really versatile and come in great colors, depending on if you want to go neutral or not. Given that skirts never seem fit me right, I was sold right when I tried these on!

I am very happy to have a long term collaboration with PrAna. I will always be one to opt for the companies that have gone green and make conscious efforts to lead the sustainable clothing movement.

For any of you reading that have questions or have purchased PrAna items, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic! Stay healthy and GO GREEN. ❤

xx

-Kelly

 

Surrounding Yourself with Plants for your Health and Happiness

Hi loves,

This is a plant dedication post. Because plants are essential, not to mention they have 10/10 aesthetic.

As the air gets progressively more polluted, you know what saves the day for your oxygen and respiratory health? Plants. They may as well be the superpower of global warming. The earth is heating up and there are more cars made every day, and more chemicals are released into the air and water. No, this isn’t a negative post. Read on.

I love plants. When I walk into a nursery and there are designated rooms and sections for various plants, my heart is warm. No joke. I’m growing my plant collection and there are so many benefits of owning plants in your home.

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Pictured above is me finding the adorable cafe in Sky Nursery and explaining to the barista what it’s like shooting for my blog when random people are staring at me like I’m not wearing pants. She found it all pretty entertaining. Back to the plant admirations..

Plants are the cleaners of the air we breathe. They absorb the carbon dioxide we exhale and replace that carbon dioxide with fresh oxygen. There is a reason why people feel they can breathe again when they go into nature after living in the bustling city. There aren’t as many plants and trees in a city. In fact, cities like New York, the city of concrete, are known to be extra unhealthy for your lungs and skin because there is no plant life around you. Your skin is just taking in all of the free radicals in the air.

In addition, research studies have revealed that indoor air can be up to ten times more polluted than outdoor air. There is quite an accumulation of dust and bacteria, even mold, that can occur in your household. Homes have a lot of plastic from plastic bags and containers, trash, cleaning supplies, detergents… all items that can cause allergic reactions. If you have sensitive skin or have had history of contact dermatitis, you might want to consider switching to healthier “greener” household products and adding plants to reduce your indoor air pollution.

If you want me to get all historical on you, the early Greeks and Romans started the trend of bringing plants inside, and they were onto something. The victorians also favored potted plants. A University of Michigan study even noted that being in the presence of plants can boost your memory retention up to twenty percent. I do not have the direct link to this resource, that is completely off of memory.

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I really got into my plant collection due to receiving them as gifts. Plants make amazing gifts, simple yet thoughtful, and they have a higher life expectancy than flowers. Flowers are a nice thought, but they wilt in that vase in your kitchen whereas plants grow and expand.

On another note: if you are trying to train yourself to get a pet, get a plant first. Pay attention to its health. If you leave a plant in a dark corner, that’s a red flag. Plants kind of need the photo in photosynthesis.

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Plants have amazing healing properties. Instead of buying aloe vera gel, why not have the gel from the real source? I now have my own aloe plant and I use the gel for sunburns and scratches. Not to mention it will continue to grow and the gel will be 100% natural and directly plant derived, instead of getting it from a plastic tube in the supermarket.

Another reason I have personally become so fond of plants is my recent switch to plant-based makeup and skincare. The result? Absolute bliss. My skin can tell the difference. No extra chemicals, no fake ingredients, just the good stuff.

I fully plan to continue this plant loving series with details of my new “green” makeup and skincare routines, so stay tuned for those! I hope you enjoyed these pictures in the nursery and my reasoning to start becoming a plant mom. xx

My outfit in this photo set is all from Athleta, paired with my Adidas Originals Superstars.

My Instagram blog page is @k_stateofmind and my photography page is @kellyzphoto.

-Kelly

 

 

Hiking: For Your Mind And Body

Hi everyone,

Given that Seattle has given us given us amazing weather the last few weeks, I’ve been taking to the trails more than usual. I’m much more focused on weights and interval training now as opposed to long stints of cardio, however, hiking is a much more enjoyable full-body workout. And it’s not just physical.

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Research shows that hiking is linked to higher amounts of brainpower. If you crave a better attention span on upcoming work or projects, spend the morning outdoors to clear your mind. Although physically being in nature allows your mind to de-clutter, being away from so much technology is just like hitting the reset button. How good is your Wifi in the woods? Exactly.

Good news for calorie counters: You can burn well over 500 calories in just an hour of hiking. I personally love walking on trails because I’m prone to shin splints, and the forest floor is way softer on your joints as opposed to asphalt or concrete.

Regular hiking activity lowers blood pressure and cholesterol. The cardiovascular aspect the ups and downs of hiking is extremely good for your heart and BMI. Changing altitude has been recorded to reduce fat loss.

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Hiking is a great alternative to traditional indoor workouts in the gym. I get the feeling of not wanting to workout indoors on the elliptical, or be inside at all. When it’s beautiful out, why not get creative? If you haven’t found your workout niche but want to get in better shape, hiking could be perfect for you.

Hiking is definitely great to do in a group. You can make a day trip out of hiking anywhere and go to a lake, hang out on the top of a mountain and eat lunch, or sunbathe. There’s something in it for everyone.

Some mistakes I’ve previously made (not just me my family was there):

  1. Remember where you started your trek. If you need to drop a pin on your phone, do so.
  2. Overestimate trail time. I always try to factor in traffic and add on time for sight seeing etc. Avoid planning a long hike the day you have a set appointment mid afternoon that you will be rushing to make. I’ve been there.
  3. Bring water if it is a longer hike. Altitude can get you more dehydrated, so even bring a small attachable flask if that’s more convenient.

John Muir once said: “In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.”

Nature has been called a “mental health prescription” due to its positive influence. People often spend so much time in urban settings, and the change of pace brings a much greater balance of exposure.

A Stanford study revealed that city dwellers have a 20 percent higher risk of anxiety and 40 percent higher risk of stress when compared to rural residents. And we don’t often know we need the nature break until we are mid-hike, thankful for the minimal cell service.

I hope you all enjoyed my health check in. Enjoy what’s left of the summer months and go out in nature to clear your mind and senses.

For more photography, visit my blogger Instagram page @k_stateofmind and my portraits page @kellyzphoto

xx

-Kelly

 

Exercise as a Mindset and Lifestyle

Hi everyone,

This is a blog feature I contributed to Be Wise Magazine. It’s a great magazine that dedicated its content to empowering girls and women to be themselves and be inspired. You definitely should check them out!

♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

Working out is not just obtaining a gym membership. Exercise isn’t getting in your daily steps, or the stepping-stone to a bikini body. It’s much more than the activity or the justifiable results. It’s a lifestyle.

Exercise is commonly associated with getting a better body. It should instead be associated with a positive mindset to practice long-term health, as well as the prevention of outcomes such as disease and low self-esteem. In reality, results from fitness cannot be seen overnight, furthering the need to focus more on how you feel as opposed to just how you look.

A great way to keep fitness as a lifestyle: enjoy the actual workouts. Whether you are a yoga and Pilates fanatic, runner, or weight lifter (or a combination), aim to choose exercises you look forward to. Working out shouldn’t feel mentally draining, and if you feel unmotivated to get out and sweat, try switching up your routine! Regardless, exercise brings a release of endorphins, which improve your state of happiness. Working out lowers stress, promotes better sleep, and boosts self-esteem. These benefits are far beyond just physical.

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Quote format credit to Be Wise Magazine 

As a former NCAA collegiate tennis player, exercise has always been a part of my lifestyle. When I’m working out, exterior influences don’t exist. I have that time to myself, for my personal well-being. Exercise to me is a contribution to the other healthy lifestyle habits I regularly practice, such as nutrition and positive mental health habits. I practice Pilates and yoga, I lift weights multiple days a week, and I also incorporate cardio to stay lean and boost my cardiovascular health. It’s all a balance, not a race to see physical changes.

Challenge yourself. Use exercise to motivate you, not intimidate you due to some unrealistic universal standard. Focus on obtaining a positive mindset through exercise and movement, and hold yourself accountable to maintain that lifestyle for yourself and no one else.

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I hope you all enjoyed this feature! The link below is to Be Wise Magazine’s magazine page, and you click on “Issue 19” to read the rest of the health + fitness articles from other bloggers! My features are on pages 62 and 74.

Be bright. Be bold. xx

-Kelly