My Christmas Shopping Simplified! Affordable Gift-Giving Options For Fit People! (And Those Who Want to Be)

It is upon us! I’m not really into the commercialism aspect of the holidays. Christmas is not something that Micah and I go into debt over. We’d rather focus on making memories. Oftentimes, we make homemade gifts, and those are some of the best gifts I’ve given through the years. We have lots of fit friends, and enjoy giving because it blesses others, not because we have to compete. I will be doing a local business post listing business run by people I know that really offer great products/services, that your friends and family will really enjoy, but today’s theme is frugal gift giving. Here’s a list of affordable and high-quality brands that  I highly recommend for your fitness friends!

Disclaimer: Some but not all products in this post do contain affiliate links, which compensate me a percentage of your purchase amount. However, I do really love these brands or I wouldn’t mention them in this post. Thanks for supporting Grace, Lace, and Iron!

 1 Beachbody’s Semi-Annual Sale: So, it starts today at 5 p.m. The entire P90X Series is drastically marked down as well as programs from Shaun-T and Chalene Johnson. The last sale they had sold out really quick, so I wouldn’t wait on this one. There’s also fitness apparel and equipment on sale!

 2. Natalie Jill Fitness: This lady has some awesome cookbooks, and workouts. She’s down-to-earth and friendly, and knows her stuff. You can read my review of her Rev-4 workout dvd on this blog. Her Stay Lean III Cookbook is awesome too! You could even have these downloads sent via email to someone. Or create a fitness binder for them from one of her e-books.

3. Oh-Sweet-Heavens: Jillian is NC-based and specializes in allergen-free desserts. They taste amazing too! She also ships, and her products hold up well over shipping. I love her brownie sampler. This is perfect for anyone on your list who you won’t get to see over the holidays!

4. Nak’d Raw Bars: $9.99 + shipping for a box of 13. They taste great too. I loved reviewing this product. They have so many flavors too!

5. Mash-Up Conditioning DVD – 7 –  15 min. workouts that use minimal equipment. You will sweat! You can read my review on this dvd Here.

6. Petal and Stem Wrist-Hugger or Hip-Hugger: This is a great gift for a group fitness instructor, or really anyone who travels, it’s a pouch that stores your your id, some, cash and car key. I have one and love it! I’ve reviewed this product as well!

7. Cross Rope. Girls Gone Sporty introduced me to these nifty ropes. That are customizeable, Choose the thickness of the rope, along with the weight of the handles, and you have a high quality jump rope you’ll be using for years. Use the code GGSCROSS for a discount.

8. Oh and just a side note, the products in my selz store will be 50% off until next monday, so this would be a great idea for those of you needing healthy recipe ideas to take to gatherings, or making fitness notebooks for your friends!

Functional Training That’s Simple, Effective and Fun: Rev4 DVD Review

Hey There!
So, I’ve been doing some research on different products on the fitness circuit. (No pun intended.) I recently watched, a pod cast from Chalene Johnson’s “Build Your Tribe” series. I love this podcast! Well, Chalene has lots of guest speakers on her show and the speaker for this episode was Natalie Jill, of This single mom and entrepeneur turned to functional training after gaining weight, and suffering from a back injury, and while Natalie Jill is in stellar shape, she says that fitness has helped her live life better because everyday tasks are so much easier! I can definitely agree with that statement! I was super impressed with her response team. They seemed as warm in their emails as Natalie is in her dvd’s. Natalie also has numerous ebooks on fitness and healthy eating which you can learn more about on her website.

This post contains affiliate links and while I did receive product as compensation for this review, I reserve the right to my opinions, and publish pros and cons in a positive manner. Purchasing through affiliate links does support this blog. Thank you for your support!

I was so excited to review the Rev-4 Dvd. I know that many of my readers spend lots of time on the road and or do not live near gyms. These workouts are also a great length to get you through the holiday fitness slump, because who wants to start from scratch after New Years’?

Here’s my review of this pretty nifty dvd:

Equipment: mat/towel and or dumbells

The dvd has 4 workouts, plus a warm-up and cool-down safety tips, and bonus material.

Warm-up: Natalie takes you through dynamic stretching and heat-building exercises that get your muscles primed and ready for the following workout and help prevent injury. She also modifies movements as needed.

These intervals of compound movements work your entire body, and provide a little bit of a cardio component. Squats and lunges are used, and there are push-ups and plank variations. Natalie is great at teaching proper technique, and explains which muscles are used in each exercise.

Lower Body
Natalie takes you through some effective and fun lunge combinations, and some isolation exercises and gets your heart pumping. Add weights or bands for an even bigger burn. I definitely felt my quads, glutes, and hamstrings on fiyahhh!!Just when you think you don’t have any more muscle left to burn, she has you cranking out 3 more reps! I loved the way she taught hip extensions, it was a little different from how they’re shown most of the time. There are some plyometric movements, like skater hops,  but nothing too scary. Really, you could crank up the intensity as much as you want here.

Upper Body
Watch out! Dudes, this workout will make you sweat! Natalie is my new arm inspiration. This all-bodyweight workout is no easy-peasy workout. Your abs and arms will feel the burn. Those sliding push-ups will make your arms burn and pump up your heart. This is where I personally need to be challenged. I like that she uses rotating side planks, but does them at a mid-range tempo, which emphasizes doing them with correct technique.

Core Crusher
Let us give thanks…for planks! This core crusher really uses your entire body. Natilie explains how to modify each plank variation and pushes you through those core intervals. This one definitely pushed my limits, but it was fun. I love the up-and-down planks in this.

Cool Down
Don’t skip it, just don’t. This will help prevent excessive cramping, and help you wind down from that awesome workout you just had. Static stretching after a workout also aids in preventing joint injury and severe muscle imbalances.Static stretches help cool the body down and help you to slow down and unwind. Stretching after a workout may also improve joint mobility for future workouts.

I definitely liked the Rev-4 dvd and would recommend it for beginner to intermediate exercisers. I would love to see a dvd for more advanced exercisers, but I love that she uses bodyweight-only in the videos. I think a lot of people injure themselves in the beginning by not focusing on proper form and technique and reach for heavy weights, which you can add to many of the exercises in these dvd’s  as you progress. Hey, if you’ve over trained using heavy weights, like I have in the past, then you understand the importance of taking it back to the basics and really focusing on that mind-body connection. NatalieJill knows her stuff, and I love her philosophy for training for functional fitness. If you’re looking for a quick workout to get you through the holidays or a gift for your fave fitness buff, then this is a great option!

Get moving! 

–  Julie

My Top 8 Reasons for Working out and Eating Clean

Hi! It’s been a wild week!

I just found out I’ll be starting a new job in 2 weeks! Yay! No worries though! I’ll still be here on the blog…I have no intentions of forgetting my health or writing…in fact I might enjoy blogging even more! Ok, so this post was inspired by a comment made by a someone I know recently. (The names are changed to protect the guilty….) LOL! Anyway, I’m using this as a mindset example….no worries, I once had this mindset myself and I’ve learned to change it. hahaha…I often refuse dessert when eating out or at church dinners….or often times because I just don’t have a particular taste for that type of dessert….anyway…the comment was made: You’re so little – eat some dessert….honestly, where’s the logic in that….I’ve wanted to respond to comments like this for awhile, well…I get tired of hearing that I need to eat junk or skip working out because…I have a smaller frame.) I replied to the comment by saying, thanks, but it’s not about looking good, it’s about feeling good! I don’t like it when someone tries to make me go along with what they’re doing, just because I make them uncomfortable…call me Captain Controversial, but I’m a grown woman, and I think it’s silly for me to be told in public that I “need” to eat dessert. I don’t need to eat dessert…I have gluten sensitivity, and while I do sometimes splurge….It is at my own discretion when and how much I should splurge, just because I feel, well gross later on…you see, it just makes me want to go to sleep….I do enjoy dark chocolate, and I do eat dessert, but my logic is….there will be plenty of time to sample desserts 2 weeks from now, and I need to maintain my focus. I want to have the energy to do what I personally have to get done in the next 4 weeks…well, 6 weeks…and I don’t have time to be sick…by the way, have any of you ever noticed that flu season hits its peak right after Christmas. I believe it’s because we run ourselves ragged and maintain no time for our health… Anyway I wanted to share with you my “why” for working out…and while cut abs and rock hard arms and legs are great…I do have plenty of other motivation for working out, which to tell the truth, is what gets me through my tough days. So here’s why I exercise and eat right:

1. More energy…I’ve had anemia in the past, and while no longer anemic, I can’t deny that I have much more energy on days that I eat lots of veggies and lean proteins, as well as healthy fats. If I have a sweets craving, I love to nix it with a half a pomegranate this time of year! For salty cravings, I like to have 3 cups (1 yellow container) of Orville Redenbacher’s Simply Naturals Sea Salt popcorn.

2. I fuel my workouts with my food intake. After working in the fitness industry for years, I’ve learned that there’s a wrong way and a right way to eat before and after a workout.

3. I feel better when I workout. If I go a few days without working out….I’m on the level of some of those crazies you see on Black Friday! Not that bad, but you get the point. I feel less stressed, and sometimes. I need to punch and kick at something. Moms who deal with kids and say there’s no time to workout: how have you not gone nuts?! Or maybe you do feel nuts…I have no idea.

4. Variety is the spice of your health regimen…yeah, I change up my workout schedule every 2-4 weeks to prevent burnout. You should be doing that too. Over training causes injury and hinders results. You can’t blast away at the same speed all the time. Find workouts that allow for strength, power, cardio, mind/body connection, and flexibility for results that don’t quit internally and externally. Try a new food once in awhile…some of my favorite foods now are things…I’ve randomly tried.

5. Injury prevention is key to be able to function in life…I’ve heard all too many times…I’ll wait until after the knee surgery and skip pre-physical therapy. Well, I have news for you, there will be no bouncing back. It will take twice as long to recover in most cases. I’ve seen too many people regret that decision, that’s why I stay active. I don’t want to be physically unable to dance or work around my own house.

6. My immune system…while in my 4th year of college, my immune system decided to take a mind of its own and completely rebel against my body…I burned a fever every day for 4 weeks during that semester, and eventually…I developed a grayish complexion, and my hair started to turn brittle…My heart was doing funky things as well…I had frequent migraines, and spent so much time combating depression and staying in bed from migraines that I did nothing but work and school, which did not help with depression, trust me. While I was dealing with apparent emotional issues…I somehow managed to hide most of the physical issues I was having, except weight gain between 35 and 40 pounds of it…did I mention my thyroid was acting up too…I’m a firm believer in being a good steward now, but I was not a good steward in anyway at that point. How could I expect God to bless me in my health and my finances if I was not doing what it took to get both under more control.

7. My hubby. ok, ladies, don’t give me the excuse that your husband doesn’t want you to be healthy, because if he values you, he values your health and well-being. That being said, I find it staggering that more women use their husband as an excuse., which may be true in some cases, but not the large majority. Personally, can I say something from one woman to another? Why is it that we ladies will try every cream, pill, lotion, gel, or  wrap known to woman, but we refuse to exercise and eat healthy….this focus on the external will only drive you away from reaching your goals. Maybe it’s not that your husband doesn’t want you to get fit, maybe it has to do with he doesn’t want you falling for a magic pill. Advice, write out your plan and your goals and then show it to him. He’ll invest. Trust me. He might even join you! In addition to looking and feeling better, you’ll gain self-control and confidence.

8. To have children someday. Hey, you have to keep up with the kiddos right? I’m an active person and have been since birth, according to my mother. I have two speeds: wide open, and fast asleep. My kids will probably be the same way. I want to be able to take them places – to the park, iceskating, hiking, you name it. I can’t have the energy to keep up with them if I don’t eat properly, and they will learn eating habits from me. Right now, I’m practicing. Plus, meal prep, healthy or unhealthy, is a beast.

There are lots more reasons that I work out, but these 8 really stand out to me. I don’t plan on being the world’s strongest woman. Although, I really want to knock out pull-ups like Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2. I can tell you it’s strengthened my walk with the Lord, and He’s used it to teach me self-discipline. Maybe it’s time to reflect on why you really need to get fit….if it’s about weight….you can reach a peak and then go no further, within healthy boundaries. This is why there has to be something more. Have an awesome workout today, and treat yourself to a healthy dinner. 🙂


101 Fitness Myths Book Review – 5 Myths Debunked

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The fitness industry – full of useful, scientific information, and full of atrocious information that I wouldn’t want anyone believe. That’s why when Girls Gone Sporty offered us the chance to review this book, I jumped at the opportunity! I have spent years reeducating clients on what is actually beneficial to the body….Don’t believe everything you read in what I call “pop-culture” fitness magazines. There are only a handful of mainstream publications that I’ve come to trust, because so many are hit-or-miss.  Anyway, on to the book, I read this book, and it was a super easy, fast read….even a non-reader and a non-fitness professional can take and apply Maik’s advice. He also cites his sources and includes them in an appendix, so if you’re a research buff like me, you can read them for yourself. He also includes sample workout programs, so that you can apply your newfound knowledge.

A little information on the author:
Maik Wiedenbach was an Olympic swimmer for the German National team. He currently teaches graduate level fitness at NYU. He came to the U.S. on and athletic scholarship, and after completing school, he even worked on Wall Street! So you could say he a pretty balanced dude. Oh, and he’s been strength training for over 20 years….I think he might know a thing or two, or 101!

Let’s talk about 5 of the myths that Maik discusses in this book.

1.  “I don’t have the genetics.” Maik uses the example of Frank Zane and Arnold Schwarzenegger. This is a classic example of the truth that genetics are only 10% of the equation. Zane only had 16″ arms! And while, he couldn’t gain mass like Arnold, he learned how to create unmatched symmetry, going on to beat Arnold in the Olympia three times! Kind of eleminates the excuse that you don’t have the right build for fitness, doesn’t it?

2. “Flat Bench Presses are the Best Exercise for your chest.” I LOVE that Maik addresses this early on in the book. In my years of working in gyms, I have seen countless men ascend the throne of bench pressing for up to an hour at a time! I kid you not, and, yes, I timed these oh-so-faithful fitness buffs. As Maik says, “the main function of the pectoralis major is to pull the arm laterally across the body”. Don’t believe him, study anatomy and biomechanics for a semester of college and you will. Maik also states that cable flyes are a much better substitute for bench presses. (Their also much easier on the back.)

3. “Shaping vs. Bulking exercises: what’s the difference?” Oh, Maik, thank you for addressing this!!!! It took 3 years for me to erase this crazy myth from my own my own mind, that some exercise shape and that others bulk….the shape of your muscles is where genetics does kick in. A lot of times, we mistake “bulk” for well, a lack of lean muscle tone….but I digress. Maik concludes that a wise approach to training muscles involves a power movement or mid-range movement, such as push-ups to focus on the concentric phase of muscle contraction (shortening the muscle), and super-setting that exercise with one that emphasizes the eccentric phase (stretching) of the muscle to stretch the muscle. This pairing of both phases of muscle contraction causes more micro tears, which is what cause the muscle to grow stronger and harder, and also requires an intense amount of fat burning in the reparation process.

4.  “I don’t train legs because I already ride my bike, play soccer, etc.” For some of you, that statement just dialed your digits. If lean toned legs are your goal, then solely focusing on a ridiculous amount of endurance exercise or cardio will not get you there, or keep you injury free. You see, as Maik points out, cycling uses the same muscles over and over again, thus causing muscle imbalances. The same thing happens in many sports. This is why a good athletic trainer will require athletes to incorporate deadlifts and lunges to utilize the hamstrings and glutes…and the squat is one of the best metabolic movements, incorporating some 200 muscles, muscle burns calories, even while at rest, if trained effectively.

5. “I want to look like…” While having a visual image to strive for is a great motivator, I agree with Maik. You need to visualize what you will look like at your best…I will never have Ava Cowan’s biceps, because I do not have her genetics. My training buddy, is an endomorph/mesomorph combo. I am a mesomorph/ectomorph combo. While it drives me nuts that she has killer shoulders…she used to turn green with envy that my legs lean out so much faster. While we both follow similar nutrition guides, and both strength train, she knows that she needs to aim for as many reps as possible against the clock, while I sometimes need to slow my rep speed down while being timed. Visualize you at your best, not someone else’s.

That being said. I really enjoyed this book! Maik is a fun, engaging author, and I’m so glad that I got this opportunity courtesy of Girls Gone Sporty and Laura Williams. This book is packed with information that make it a keeper. If you really want to be able to evaluate workout programs, and begin to evaluate all the information out there for yourself, I would recommend this book. And to my fitness friends, I would definitely recommend this book for your arsenal of resources. To order, feel free to click on the banner at the beginning of the post! Part of the proceeds do support my blog. Thanks!

Why You Should Start Getting Healthy Before New Years

So, let’s face it…the next couple of months are usually terrible months for gyms, and well, wellness in general. A lot of people automatically adopt the mindset, “I’m going to be eating out/eating desserts/eating whatever so much, that why should I try to exercise/eat smart”. As a result, many people get themselves in trouble and wind up, gaining weight, getting sick, or feeling downright disgusting from November to New Years’. Maybe this post will help you rediscover why you decided to live a healthier lifestyle in the first place. Life is about balance, if you want to do for others this season, you need to take care of yourself.

1. Because a day wasted is a day wasted, no matter how you look at it. Why wait to start now? Just because you can’t hit the gym 2 hours a day doesn’t mean you need to throw out your routine out the window. What about ? There are plenty of easy nutritious recipes out there that require nothing but a crockpot…besides, it soup weather anyway
2. Because many resolutions do not include a detailed plan. Wishful thinking does not accomplish goals, action does. Schedule your workouts and meal prep like appointments. You can find 30 minutes of your day to meal prep and exercise…did I mention crock pots?
3. Because a healthy lifestyle is a daily choice, not magic moment where everything falls into place. Goals are achieved, not given…I hear to many people complain, but that program costs something, but I can’t afford meat…um, yeah, you can diy your own pedicure for the next two months, cut back Starbucks coffee to twice a week instead of every day, you can yard sale all that junk in your house. If you have excuses now, you’ll still have excuses the other 364 days of the year too…food for thought. I say this because I had to reach this realization myself.
4. Because some exercise and good nutrition is better than no exercise and bad nutrition. Hey, there are plenty of 5 minute workouts on this blog and plenty of throw and go recipes. Eat healthy foods when you’re at home.
5. Because flu season…well, it’s already started. If you throw your own health to the wayside this time of year, chances are you will miss out on some important events because you didn’t take the time or effort to invest in your health.
6. Because exercise allows you to release stress. Hey I don’t even go out on Black Friday…if I buy anything, I buy online. There are plenty of sales, and now even many local businesses have online shops…Mine does. I just found time for you to workout and enjoy a delicious healthy meal!
7. Because you need the extra energy this time of year. Whew! Who doesn’t?! I don’t make perfect choices, but when I can, I reserve my right to eat healthy. Unless you’re baking for a party, you don’t need it in your house….send it home with someone else after the party…hehehehe
8. Because materialism and food are not the reason for the season.We worship food here in the U.S. We eat out of enjoyment, not nourishment….not to say that it’s bad, but when that mindset rules your food choices, it’s time to reevaluate what you’re doing. You have your health and your family’s health for the rest of your lives…you only get one life here on this earth… turn your focus towards helping those in need, not on how much you can stockpile.
9. Because if you’re tired of starting over, you need to stop quitting…for real… ‘nough said. If accountability seems to be an issue, let me help. To reach me, fill out this form. Sometimes, it’s important to have someone to sit down and talk with you about your needs. I’m here to listen.
10. Because your health and being healthy will save you time and money in the long run. Eat healthy and exercise now, or doctor bills later….your choice. You do not have to let the current state of your health define you, nor do you have to let the typical expectations of everyone else define you.

Tough Love,

The Top 5 Reasons to Keep a Journal.

Journaling….it’s one of my favorite things to do….writing is a great tool for me to express my creativity…Call me loony, but something about pen, paper, and a good cup of coffee or herbal tea helps me to wind down.
I’ve been journaling for 20 years now…I started when I was seven years old. My Aunt Karen gave me a journal so I could write about a really cool summer I had when we went to Georgia to visit my grandfather. She and my mom always loved traveling, and so these trips where we would meet up with her were special. From there, a love for writing was born…I’d always loved to read, and would even read the nutrition labels on my cereal ever since I had started studying health during my homeschool years. I have ALL of my old journals…and I’ve loved getting them as gifts for years.
I write rough drafts for books in them, I write recaps of my days, my dreams, and my goals in them, and I also write my prayers in them. During college, the occasional sporadic journal entry was a way to retain my sanity as a time that was extremely burdensome for me. It’s artistic way to collect data; numbers such as dates, years, sets, and reps are only a part of the story. Journaling is something that transports me back in time, helps me plan for the future, and enjoy the present. Because every time of life has it’s struggles and victories.
I recently got into health journaling along with my other journaling practice. I track my workouts, and food intake…I have had food addictions in the past, and in order to maintain balance, I journal so that I can step back and evaluate how I feel about my health journey, and how I’m breaking down and taking steps to reach my goals. This practice has helped my mental, spiritual, and physical health greatly, and this is why I think journaling can help you too.

1. Journaling can reduce stress and strengthen the immune system. Writing allows you to get rid of the mental junk you haven’t processed yet, and help you evaluate how you can respond in a healthy way. Our bodies respond to stress, which involves the adrenal system. When your cortisol stays at peak levels, it places stress on the immune system as well. The American Psychological Association conducted a study that links journaling to healthier immunological responses.

2. You can express yourself in a way that is personal. We all need to be open and  honest about struggles. I personally have a hard time telling even those closest to me what my deepest thought processes are. I’ve found that journaling allows me to be real, and sometimes I just want to organize my emotions by putting them on paper. King David did this in the Psalms. They flowed from the good and bad times in his life. Psalm 139 is an awesome example of this.

3. Journaling allows you to look back and see what you’ve accomplished. This is where a health journal comes in handy. I set very specific goals for the month, then break that down into smaller steps. I make notes at the bottom of my workout trackers about resources I need to plan for the next week, and this prevents me from getting stuck in a rut. And on those days where I feel like I’m far away from those goals, I can look back and see that yes, I am in fact making progress.

4. Journaling allows you to record and evaluate your priorities. Taking a step back can show us our strengths and can also show us areas that we need to work on. The next step is formulating a plan of action and then committing to follow it.

5. Journaling allows you to find and create your own artistic style. You don’t have to write the next “War and Peace”, but you can broaden your mind and find your own writing style. Even the most non-artistic can keep a very successful journal. Remember, this is YOUR place, not Tolstoy’s. Enjoy the creative process. Let your hair down.

Those are my 5 reasons to journal. Have you ever kept a journal? Why or Why Not? Do you keep a health journal too?

Don’t forget to enter to win some really cute printables to help you start your very own health journal! You can enter right here!

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I’d love to hear from you!