HOW I STAY FIT {Fitness, Food, Resources & More}

My fitness is very important to me, not only for my physical health but also for staying mentally healthy. My physical activity level and what I eat can have a huge influence on my mood and my ability to stay focused and driven in my career. (You can read more about the benefits of exercise on my mental well being here.) Staying fit isn't always the easiest, particularly if you're like me and spend large chunks of your day sitting in an office, travel a lot, and don't want to spend a small fortune on expensive gym memberships. Being January and kicking off my own new fitness schedule (I happen to be marathon training), I thought I'd share some of the tips and resources I like to use to stay fit:

Exercise you can do anywhere on a budget

For me, the best sport to help clear my head and keep me fit is running. I love it. I like racing, group running, solo running, and running while I travel. My favorite part about running? I can do it anywhere, I don't need an expensive gym or special club membership, and running gear is super easy to pack with you while traveling. In fact, running is one of my favorite ways to explore a city while on vacation (I have some pretty fun running routes I developed while traveling in New Orleans that takes me on a mini-tour through famous cemeteries and the city's street art). While I know some people benefit from classes and are motivated by the financial commitment of a gym, I personally hate having to pay to exercise. It's my philosophy that staying fit is something I should be able to seamlessly fit around my schedule without a large monetary investment (that being said, I do spend a fair chunk of change on running shoes every year). But running isn't for everyone and it's been my experience that the best way to stay fit is to find an activity you actually enjoy doing and will stick to. (I've often had friends who hate running but still try to force themselves into it and they never stick to it for very long.)  While for me it's running, for you it could be cycling or hiking or any other number of activities. If you hate running, try a bunch of other activities until you find something that works well for you.

In addition to running, I like to cross train with yoga, ballet, and boxing (all of which I started off by taking classes and getting professional instruction on). These are my favorite sports for flexibility and strength training and after a few years of going to gyms and studios, I've switched these to at-home workouts. I was lucky enough to snag some free boxing equipment from a friend who was clearing out his basement (including a body bag) so I'm able to spend time boxing at home (saving me some $175 a month in gym fees). For yoga and ballet, I turn to apps and YouTube a lot for routine inspiration and instructions (these are good for workouts at home or while traveling):

  • Asana Rebel App: I don't pay for the subscription but find the shorter free courses to work well for getting me started or cool-down yoga sessions post-run.

  • Adidas All Day App: A great little fitness app full of helpful tips for sleep, meditation, yoga, and healthy recipes.

  • Nike+Training App: If you're looking for something that is a bit more of a gym-style workout without the actual gym, I've found some good workouts through this app. Important to note that some workouts require certain types of equipment, but it's all listed before you start the workout.

  • Adidas Women YouTube Channel: An expansion on the type of content you find on the app, the Adidas YouTube channel has nice longer workouts.

  • Yoga with Adriene YouTube Channel: Out of all the YouTube yoga instructors I've tried, she's probably my favorite.

  • Lazy Dancer Tips YouTube Channel: I love her. I danced ballet in college (for fun) and have often since thought about signing up for barre classes to just keep up with it a bit. I was so excited when I discovered these at-home ballerina barre and workout routines. You can use a chair in place of an actual barre for the routines (or build your own barre if you don't want to shell out a bunch of money for a home ballet barre). If you like her YouTube tutorials, she has a full online course as well (subscription-based).

If you want to know more about my personal training schedule and workouts, I've started a series on my YouTube channel called "The Running Diaries." In this series I'll be following my marathon training over the next 16 weeks in addition to giving tips and answering any fitness questions. Subscribe to my channel for weekly videos and leave any questions or topics you want to see covered in the comments section below). 

Incorporating extra fitness into a busy day

I sit a lot for work. Which isn't great for my overall health (sitting is the silent killer, or so they say). Not only do I just not feel that great if I'm at my computer too long, but I'm also super prone to experiencing headaches and general screen fatigue. Ahh the plight of the staff writer! So to fight back against the negative effects of a desk job, I find little ways to add extra movement into my day. First off, I try to get at least a small workout in every morning (often just 10-15 minutes of yoga or core work). I find I concentrate better throughout the day and feel less sedentary if I workout in the a.m. In addition to a short morning workout at home, I try to squeeze in a pre-work run, either by getting up super early for a longer run or run commuting (which I do at least three days a week). Throughout the workday, there are a few things that I've found have helped me get in that little extra movement I need to feel fitter and healthier during the day:

  • FitBit Charge 2: I recently made the switch to a FitBit (honestly I was looking for a stopwatch for running but ended up going the fitness tracker route because I like the idea of something tracking my sleep). I've fallen in love with this little devise. I found trying to make sure I get my steps in for the day is actually really motivating. This tracker also gives me little alert reminders and movement challenges if I've been sitting too long. It's definitely helped me just move more during my work day. The extra walking around to get my steps in has another added benefit—it gets me away from my computer screen enough to help me avoid screen fatigue, and I've stopped having headaches in the afternoons.

  • Staircases: I try to always take stairs when it's an option. I happen to work on the 15th floor of an office building and I take the stairs instead of the elevator as often as possible. I found walking up the 15 flights wasn't as time consuming as it initially seemed it would (I started this as a personal challenge to take the stair at least once every work day). Stairs are a great workout and it only took a couple of weeks for me to start to feel a noticeable improvement in my ability.

  • Move at lunch: If you buy lunch every work day, you probably already get a short walk in while picking up your food. I almost always bring a lunch from home and find it's too easy for me to go a full eight hours without ever leaving the office building. So I've started to try to get out for at least 10-15 minutes during the lunch hour for a walk (this could be window shopping, running up to the library, or just a quick walk around the block to get me outside and moving).

  • Drink lots of water: The best thing I've ever done for my water consumption is get a SodaStream. I love carbonated water and drink at least one large water bottle of it at work in addition to a couple of glasses of still water (and load of coffee... 'cause this girl run on coffee). I try to be consuming some sort of liquid at all all times. The hydration helps prevent headaches, but it also causes me to need to make extra trips to the bathroom, forcing me to get up and away from my desk way more than I might otherwise (I purposely use a bathroom further away from my desk so I can get the extra steps).

  • If you need to go somewhere and it's under a mile away, walk! Don't drive: I lived without a car when I first moved into my current home, which meant I did all my grocery shopping on foot. Walking to-and-from the store, the post-office, the bar, etc. all became my norm. Though I own a car now, I still make a point of walking to somewhere I need to be whenever feasible (the distance I consider walkable now days is pretty far).


I care a lot about what I eat, from both a health and an environmental standpoint (I'm not into dieting but I tend to eat 95 percent vegetarian and only purchase meat that is raised humanely, more environmentally friendly, and local to the Pacific Northwest). I also happen to really enjoy cooking, so I always meal plan and cook most of my own meals. But sometimes I find myself falling into a bit of an eating rut and cooking the same meal over and over and over and over again. One thing I've found that helps force me to swap up what I'm eating / get creative with my cooking is a food delivery service. I used Blue Apron for a while when I was so busy that meal prep was difficult, and I did like many of the recipes. Currently, though, I subscribe to Imperfect Produce instead. I have a box of seasonal fruits and veggies sent to me every two weeks, forcing me to search out recipes to use them in. I also like to pick an ingredient I'm not very experienced with and make eating it a theme for a couple weeks / month. This month I'm trying to eat more medjool dates and hemp seed hearts. Here are some of the different cookbooks, blogs, and food Instagram accounts that inspire me and widen my healthy cooking options:

  • Half Baked Harvest: This is a great blog and she recently released a cookbook. There are plenty of recipes on this blog that aren't necessarily uber healthy, but there is plenty to work with for inspiration and some really good healthier snack ideas. She also has a few smoothie recipes that are worth trying out. The photos on her Instagram account happen to be beautiful as well.

  • Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson: This is the cookbook that made me love kale. I picked it up after the Burton Girls blog featured a recipe in it that I loved and it's been a staple in my kitchen ever since. Swanson creates some fantastic recipes and has a really useful guide for keeping your kitchen stalked with healthy basics.

  • Neighborhood: Hearty Salads and Plant-Based Recipes from Home and Abroad by Hetty McKinnon: I found this particular book during one of my many trips browsing the cooking section at Powell's Books in Portland. Great ideas for salads and veggie side dishes. It's become a nice resource for me as the busier I get, the less inventive my salads become.

  • Mr. Wilkinson's Vegetables by Mat Wilkinson: My favorite thing about this cookbook is that it's ordered alphabetically by vegetable, making it a great reference guide when I'm trying to find a tasty way to cook a veggie I have on hand.

  • Hello Glow Blog: This is the blog that got me really into overnight oats for the first time (and changed my relationship with oatmeal forever!) There are also some really tasty smoothie recipes, in addition to beauty and diy stuff (if you're into that type of thing).

Honorable mentions go to Pinterest, the Food 52 website, and NYTimes Cooking, for being my three go-to places to search for specific recipes or ideas for themed meals (such as when I needed to create a menu for Hanukkah). Though these aren't health-specific websites, they are still fantastic resources (The NYTimes Cook Book is what I use for my all-around, everything cooking resource).