Review: Soybu Yoga Wear

Disclosure: I was generously given a Soybu yoga top and pants to test in my everyday fitness classes. All opinions and observations are my own. 

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My body has changed. Despite what people see or what the scale says, my body has changed since having a baby. Most notably, none of my old workout clothes fit quite like I need them to in the chest or stomach areas. I need more support and more “holding in” than before.

That said, my old clothes fit so I have had a really difficult time justifying new activewear purchases. I own quite a bit of Lululemon but following last year’s PR debacle I have not wanted to purchase any more of their products. So, imagine my thrill when a very dear friend joined Soybu as a local PR consultant here in Denver. Before she even began talking to them I had observed what looked like a fantastic Mile High Mamas event at Soybu’s new flagship Denver store and loved all of the photos I saw being posted by local moms I admire on social media. All different body types yet everyone was smiling and posting about how good the clothes fit–how they felt beautiful, strong and supported.

When my friend asked if I’d be interested in trying an outfit I leaped at the offer. I do not do a lot of traditional yoga, so I told her the clothes would be put to the test in kettle bells, sculpt, cycle and more.

On my doorstep, just in time for a Saturday morning kettle bell + barre class, was a pair of the Killer Caboose Crop (um, yes please) and Goddess Tank. At $59 and $44 respectively, both pieces are extremely durable  and versatile investments without breaking the bank. The top has removable pads and is ruched in all the right places, especially for us mamas. I am still nursing and like to add a little extra support for classes with a lot of intense movement. I wore one of my lighter sports bras for added support and it was an extremely comfortable layering fit. The pants lived up to the name and gave my struggling booty a noticeable lift. And finally, for once since having Rylan, I felt like they sat properly on my new waist and stomach–a huge boost of confidence.

But how would they perform?

To be fair, the gym I frequent can be pretty hot in the summer. Add on hundreds of kettle bell swings and plank jack tabatas and it’s a sauna. The top did not breathe quite as much as I needed it to but in other classes that has not been an issue whatsoever. Now I wear wear the top and pants separately depending on the class, saving the tank for classes where I know there is A/C or a slower, yoga-focused pace. The pants are good for just about everything and I have no fears of mistakenly showing off my backside when doing a forward fold or leaning back into race mode on the bike. That’s key!

I love that the company is passionate about making women feel beautiful. Shape and size don’t matter. It’s about feeling strong–strong for you. For me I feel strong in all different ways. I feel strong at the gym, at work and when I am sitting quietly nursing my son. From my brief experiences with Soybu so far, they are a brand that wants to help me embrace all of this.

I am eyeing the Lotus Capri and Kelly Tank next. And the Utopia collection that is being teased as “Coming Soon” on the website currently looks really cute! Are you new to Soybu or have you been wearing it for years? What do you love on the website?

 

New Mom Musings: Working Out

Looking back I am baffled at my ability to work out four or five days a week through my 38th week of pregnancy. How the hell did I have the energy for spin, sculpt and all the other insane classes I put myself through in the dead heat of summer?

But boy am I glad I stuck with it because my best gym week since Rylan’s arrival is four days, and it took until last week to get there.

I scoffed at the idea it would take a full six weeks to feel up to my normal class routine. Oh how stupid I was! Recovery from childbirth is no joke, even if you are in good shape. The thought of a spin bike seat sent chills down my spine and round-the-clock feedings left me 100 percent spent. The gym was the very last thing on my mind. Then, once I was medically cleared to resume my routine, the challenge became finding classes that fell between feeds AND at times Mike could be home to watch the little man. That left me just two or three options in any given week, and that was before I even returned to work. Finally, I never thought I would feel guilty about leaving the baby for an hour to go workout. But then Rylan arrived and “sprout” became my son, and suddenly choosing to be gone during a precious wake time session took on a whole new meaning. I knew the hour at the gym would make me a more happy and present mama, but leaving was an unexpected struggle.

So, where am I at today? While on maternity leave I took a few Stroller Strides classes, went for walks and did some living room workouts by streaming Qi Unlimited classes on my computer. But as a full-time working mom, 9:30 a.m. Stroller Strides classes with Rylan are sadly not an option. Organized coordination with Mike (and my mom while she is here) and getting over the guilt of missing Rylan are now the two things that help me keep fitness in my life. After a lot of discussion and some trial and error here is how I am back at it as a new mom.

  • One 7 a.m. class: wake up at 5:45 a.m. to pump and leave by 6:40 a.m. Mike wakes up Rylan by 7 a.m. for his first bottle. I have every single thing I need for the day packed and laid out the night before by the front door. I shower and get ready at work after the class. If I can’t take something out at night (i.e., my lunch) I use a Post-It note to remind myself to grab it before I walk out of the door.
  • One class after work around 5:15 p.m. or 6 p.m. Mike relieves my mom and gives the last feed, and a bath if needed.
  • Saturday mornings at 8:30 a.m. I nurse and pump off and am home in time for his 10 a.m. nursing session.

I would like to get up to four solid workouts each week but will likely choose to run on the treadmill at work or workout at home for that fourth session instead of a class, otherwise it is another night or morning where I miss Rylan entirely. I am so lucky to have Mike’s support. Without it these classes, that I love so much, would not be an option. He and I started talking about my gym plan months before Rylan ever arrived.

For all of my new mom and soon-to-be mom friends, make your special time (whether it is working out, an art class, mani/pedi weekly) happen. Talk with your partner NOW about how to coordinate schedules and stick to it. I promise you will be a happier and more present mom when you get “you” time at least once or twice a week–and working full-time out of the house doesn’t count.

Oh yeah, don’t forget that this means your partner gets special time too. For Mike, that’s band practice weekly and a round of golf when the weather is nice. It has to be a two-way street!

Pregnancy Workout Routine

Credit: Fitnessista.com

Since announcing that we are expecting I have gotten a lot of questions and comments about my fitness routine. So, I wanted to share what I have been and am currently doing at 26 weeks and talk about why working out while pregnant, for me personally, is more important than ever.

Normal routine – give or take depending on work and other scheduling conflicts 

  • Monday: Spin + yoga class (30 minutes of each)
  • Tuesday: Yoga sculpt class (60 minutes) or spin + yoga class again
  • Wednesday: Spin + circuit class (core, balance and barre type work; 30 minutes of each)
  • Thursday and Friday: Depends, but usually spin + yoga again one of the days but not both
  • Saturday: Kettle bells + barre class (60 minutes)

The instructors at my gym are knowledgeable about what is and is not safe as my pregnancy progresses. A few of the female teachers also have little ones themselves and have shared their personal experiences with me. I have also asked my doctor a lot of questions and done a ton of research on my own. Because I was working out regularly before I got pregnant my doctor did not think it was necessary for me to wear a heart monitor. She said that as long as I felt okay and never got completely out of breath, my body was used to the pace.

And at the end of the day, I listen to my body. If a move doesn’t feel right I don’t do it. When I need to take a water break I do and catch up with the class when I’m ready, and when I need a day off altogether I take it without hesitation (well, that last part about having “no hesitation” is a lie but I do take it off).

Workout modifications

  • Cut out handstands and inversions completely once I found out I was pregnant
  • Avoid any position that has me lying flat on my back (started at 20 weeks) or on my belly (started around 16 weeks)
  • Lowered which weights I use in most classes, or switch back and forth between a lighter and heavier set depending on the exercise and exertion level
  • Avoid all heated classes and will likely switch to morning classes, when the gym is the coolest, as the temperatures heat up in May and June
  • Avoid all deep twists in yoga
  • Move from a chaturanga pushup back to plank position instead of into upward facing dog (started around 16 weeks when upward dog became uncomfortable)
  • Use yoga blocks in some poses, such as pyramid, as it gets harder to bend all the way over
  • Eat a protein-rich snack before every class (e.g., Greek yogurt, Larabar, apple and peanut or almond butter)

What working out, especially pregnant, does for me 

  • Relieves my stress after work or puts me in the best frame of mind for the day ahead
  • Helps me sleep
  • Keeps me limber and stretched, a god send as my hips and lower back have rebelled against sleeping on my left side starting at about 18 weeks
  • Helped/s me deal emotionally with the changes my body is going through (and the numbers I see on the scale at each doctor visit). I know that I am taking care of little sprout and myself
  • Keeps me strong, which I am told will help me during labor. I used to say “white dress, white dress” to myself during grueling workouts pre-wedding. Now I close my eyes and think, “labor, labor labor,” when the going gets tough in a class
  • Keeps what I have worked so hard for, fitness-wise, within reach for after the pregnancy. Aside from my random decision to run a marathon in 2007, I have never stuck with a workout routine until two years ago and I am determined to keep fitness, in whatever form it looks like once sprout arrives, in my life

I realize that I am very lucky to still be feeling as strong as I do. Many women are forced to take it easy for the safety of their baby and I have tremendous respect for whatever is needed and feels best for your body.

But if I can offer any unsolicited advice for friends and readers who are not yet pregnant but may be one day, do yourself a favor and establish some sort of workout routine now. It is much easier to maintain your stamina and motivation if fitness is already part of your life.

A yoga/spin/sculpt teacher that I adore recently had a baby, but last year I’ll never forget what she told me when I said I wanted to have a baby one day. She said, “train to be pregnant now, before you are even pregnant. Work hard now and you will be grateful when the time comes.” She could not have been be more right.

I have no idea what months seven through nine will hold for me and I realize that at one point, not slowing down will not be an option. As the basketball protruding from my front side turns into a watermelon I look forward to trying some prenatal yoga classes and on potentially more days than not, giving myself a break entirely.

I’d love to hear what you think about working out during pregnancy. I really enjoy learning from others who have paved the way before me!

Gym Guilt

Source: fitsugar.com via Alexis on Pinterest

 

I could not get up for spin class this morning. Yet, I laid there in bed fretting about missing spin so how much extra sleep did I get this morning? Not much at all. And my mood is worse because of it.

Isn’t it amazing when we can’t listen to our own advice? I’m also constantly surprised by how much going (or not going) to the gym class impacts my mood. It has finally, for the first time in my entire life, become so much more than about how I look. An hour of spinning, lifting or yoga-ing is my mood booster and stress reliever. It’s where I get perspective and realize I can take on anything at work or at home. I need it badly.

But today, I needed the snooze button…and I have to learn to let that be okay too.

Do We Ever Really Meet Our Fitness Goals?

 

The harder I work at the gym each week, the harder it is for this phrase to ring true. Instead of staying “calm” I find myself obsessing over how to get this part of me stronger or that part of me more flexible. It has nothing to do with weight loss (stop freaking out dad!) and everything to do with how competitive I am with myself. As a kid I never played competitive sports (sans a few quick stints on teams to say I tried soccer and basketball. It never ended well.) so the, “I must finish this kettle bell set first and beat everyone around the block” voice in my head during certain gym classes is fairly new to me. I like the voice, but it’s pretty intense. And at times it is impossible to leave that voice at the gym. It follows me home.

So, I have a question for my fellow fitness-minded readers. Are you easier or harder on yourself when you are following a steady fitness routine and eating healthy? Do you find a way to come to grips with your body, and its strengths and weaknesses, or spend a lot of time and energy figuring out how to push to a new level? Is it good to never be 100% comfortable with the progress you’ve made because getting comfortable makes you lazy?

I hope I’m making sense and those of you who hit the gym get where I am coming from. Throughout my entire kettle bells + barre class tonight I couldn’t get this topic out of my head, and sharing my thoughts is what this blog, in its purest form, is all about.

Pin of the Week: Make Workouts a Habit

Make taking care of yourself, however and whenever you can find the time, a HABIT! Motivation comes and goes…just ask any bride a few months after the big white dress has been worn. But a habit can be followed for life, and you’re worth it.

Get to know your gym teachers, schedule workouts on your calendar, plan ahead for meals and other evening responsibilities, and ask your friends, family and coworkers to encourage and respect the time you are carving out for yourself.

Source: fitsugar.com via Alexis on Pinterest

First 30 Days of 30: Day Fifteen

                                                                   Source: backonpointe.tumblr.com via Alexis on Pinterest

 

I’m 30, and probably in the best shape of my life. I truly, 100 percent, don’t mean for that to come across as self-centered. It’s just that I have worked really hard in the past year and a half — harder than I have ever worked aside from the marathon I trained for and completed in 2007. After my marathon I literally gave up everything I had worked for physically, and I never intend to let that happen again.

My motivation and inspiration today goes far beyond skinny jeans and bathing suits. Bodies change and things shift despite hundreds of squats. That’s just life.

It’s different this time around. Being strong gives me confidence. A boot camp session wipes away all stress. How can I worry about a project when I am trying to balance in a handstand following 100 kettle bell swings? The answer is, I can’t.

I also have to give immense credit to the amazing workplace culture of my employer, GroundFloor Media, for being a place where fitness and taking care of yourself is truly a top priority. There is no judgement if you arrive a bit late in order to take an early morning spin class, extend lunch for a yoga session or duck out early to get to a barre class. The flexibility makes us all better and more motivated employees, and is the #1 reason I am able to work out more than I ever have before.

I have bad weeks like everyone else where I either can’t get to the gym because of outside commitments/travel or I am just mentally beat. But on those good weeks, my current kick-my-own-ass class regimen goes a little something like this:

  • Monday: KORE (kettle bells) + Barre
  • Tuesday: Spin + Yoga OR Yoga Sculpt (yoga with weights)
  • Wednesday: KORE + Barre
  • Thursday: Spin + Yoga

On Saturdays there is a Detox Yoga class that I love but we never seem to be in town so that class has been tough to stick with this summer. Luckily many Saturday’s have been filled with hikes and fourteeners so I’m still getting in a great workout. I’d like to squeeze in a very easy run/jog on Friday mornings with Kona but by then, I’m usually in need of a break.

I’m lucky to have coworkers, friends and unbelievably inspiring instructors who push me daily. You know who you are…thank you.

                                                              Source: pin4fun4962.blogspot.com via Alison on Pinterest

The Whole9 and Fitness Reflection

                                                        Source: s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com via Alexis on Pinterest

 

A dear friend from my San Diego days always inspired me with her unwavering and unapologetic commitment to fitness and healthy eating. Maybe it was my age and the stage of life I was in at the time, but I could never understand why she’d skip happy hour for her kettle bell class, or pack healthy snacks for a business trip rather than using it as an excuse to indulge in fast food.

I totally get it now.

Kelly B., if you’re reading this, I completely understand why you always stuck to your guns and made time for those workouts and pursued eating habits that make you feel happy, energized, strong… I’ve finally, for the most part, found that “it” place in myself, which is way more mental than physical.

I thought I found the motivation last year, but that was really only about “the big white dress” for my wedding. Like so many brides, the motivation pretty much dried up after the big day and it was a struggle for months to get back into a routine. At some point this year however, I finally realized that taking gym classes go way beyond how my jeans look. Yoga, sculpt, kettle bells, spin…they all drastically reduce my stress levels and lead to healthier choices throughout the day. Do I really need that bagel when I worked so hard at a 7am class? Sometimes the answer is a resounding “hell yes, I deserve that [insert cookie, bagel, ice cream, beer, cocktail, wine, and so on].” But many other times I’ll give it a second thought and reach for some fruit or other nutritious, REAL food instead.

Which leads me to the inspiration for this long post…the Whole9. Kelly B (mentioned above) has a sister who is lovely inside and out. Melissa is someone we can all envy, she is living out her dream to connect with people worldwide to share her knowledge and insane passion for nutrition and fitness. She and her husband founded Whole9, and I was so thrilled to find out that their brand new (and first) book, It Starts with Food, is jumping up the charts.

Admittedly, I have not dabbled in the Whole30 program yet but I would really like to learn more about their approach to food and adapt it for what would be sustainable long-term for me and Mike. I am not interested in weight loss, but I am very interested in evolving my new “no meat, only fish” approach to food to be more all encompassing. Just because I’ve been avoiding meat does NOT mean I’ve been making great food decisions. Not in the least.

Thanks for sticking with me on a longer than normal rant…I’d love to hear if you’ve been exposed to Whole9 and hope you will spread the word about Melissa and Dallas–they are truly an amazing duo and I am so excited for all of their success!

Athleta Curiosity

I’ve received the Athleta catalog for years–since living in San Diego for sure, which was approximately two years ago. How many items have I ordered? Nada. For awhile I wasn’t working out enough to justify any new gear. Then, even once I got into a routine last year, I relied on a combination of Lululemon and Target because I pretty much hate shopping online.

But Lululemon is cost prohibitive and I also need to think about clothes for hiking, biking, running and other activities I hope to enjoy this summer outside of my typical gym classes during the week. So when the newest Athleta catalog arrived this week I sat down with it, and read it cover to cover.

Where do they find those models? I love that they aren’t stick thin and I would kill for any of their arms. I think the catalog inspired me to trade yoga for kettlebells on Wednesday. I also talked to a few coworkers (and Twitter friends) about the clothes and everyone raved about the fit and quality. Now I am super intrigued.

Here are a few items I’d like to purchase soon…

Source: Athleta.com

Source: Athleta.com

Source: Athleta.com

Have you ever ordered from Athleta?

Finding A Passion

Yoga PeepYoga is not my passion yet. Passion is much too strong of a word. But we’re flirting, a lot. We might even be getting a little serious. I miss yoga when “he” (gotta go with a guy or it sounds weird) is not around and can’t get enough when I am in a great class.

Which is why I hit purchase on a somewhat expensive one-day ticket to Colorado Wanderlust this July.

Wanderlust looks like a mix of Woodstock and Burning Man for people who shop at Lululemon. There are countless yoga workshops, DJs, hiking, cooking and more. If I had more vacation time (we have a lot of weddings to attend this year) and a little more free cash I would have bought a ticket to the entire festival. But, I also need to remember to start slow with these things. Yoga and I haven’t been together all that long.

I will embark on my one day Wanderlust adventure with three other friends. We actually plan to camp the night before and after, so we will really get into the experience. Maybe we will roast kale chips over the open fire instead of s’mores?

Nah, I really like s’mores.

I am so excited to have friends who broaden my horizons to new experiences like Wanderlust. I think it is going to be amazing.

Have you ever attended a yoga festival or anything similar?

 

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