Workout: dumbbell complex + video

April 17, 2017
A Fit Mess

Dumbbell complex workouts are a great way to improve strength and conditioning. They’re ideal if you (1) don’t have a lot of time, (2) want to fit in an intense workout, or (3) only have access to a limited amount of equipment and space. Dumbbell complex workouts are performed like a traditional strength circuit, however, the transition between movements is much quicker. There is no rest between exercises, but you should include a short break (60-90 seconds) after each round is complete.


The fitness center at our resort in Mexico was rather small and outdated. There wasn’t much equipment available to use and it got busy in the morning, making it feel cramped with only a handful of people there. Matt came up with this dumbbell complex workout for us to do and I loved it so much I had to share with you guys. Be warned: it is MUCH harder than it looks! All you need is a small amount of space and a pair of dumbbells. I used 15# DBs for this, but use whatever weight you feel is challenging yet safe. Remember, this workout moves fast so don’t be overzealous with your weight!


For this workout, perform 8-10 reps of each exercise in order (1-5). Do not rest until you have completed all five exercises. Take 60 seconds to recover before starting the circuit over again. Complete up to 6 rounds. The workout should take no more than 20 minutes.


A Fit Mess


I’ve included a short video of me performing each exercise in case you wanted a visual refernce. I’ve also included a written description of the movements below. If you follow me on Instagram, then you may have seen my video blooper when Madison decided to crash the scene. This happened several times so this video was the best of the bunch.  Keep in mind: the video only shows each exercise once, but for the actual workout you will complete 8-10 reps of every movement before moving to the next. For example, you would do 8 renegade rows to push ups and then 8 squat thrusters.



Exercise descriptions

Renegade row to push up: In a plank position with your hands on dumbbells (instead of the floor) perform a low row on each side. After completing a right and left row, perform a push up with your hands still on the dumbbells. This equals one rep. Be sure to keep your core tight and avoid rotating your hips. Try to keep the movement just in your arms.

Squat thrusters: Holding a dumbbell in each of your hands, bring the weights down to the ground and then jump back into a plank. Quickly jump back up to the top and stand up (still holding the dumbbells). You’re essentially performing a burpee holding dumbbells.

Squat to dumbbell curl to overhead press: Stand with feet at shoulder-width apart. Squat down and tap the dumbbells on the floor. Stand back up and curl the dumbbells up and press over your head. Slowly lower back down and repeat.

Bent over rows: Stand in a slight squat with your back flat and the dumbbells at your sides or slightly in front of your body. Perform a low row with both arms, pulling your shoulder blades together. Be sure to keep your shoulders from creeping up towards your ears.

Romanian dead lifts: With your knees slightly bent and your feet close together, lower the dumbbells down in front of your legs. Be sure to keep them close to your body. Reach slightly below your knee and use your hips and glutes to pull yourself back up. Bring your hips forward at the end.

Please let me know if you have any questions!



Mexico! Vacation recap + pics

April 11, 2017

Last week Matt and I visited Akumal Bay Beach and Wellness Resort in Akumal, Mexico and we had a fantastic time. We both agreed that Akumal Beach is probably the nicest beach we have ever visited. The week couldn’t have been more perfect.


Akumal Bay Resort is an all inclusive beach front hotel located near the Mayan Riviera. The service and care from the staff was excellent. Everyone was so welcoming and friendly. I would highly recommend this hotel.

Beach view. The water was calm and clear with hardly any waves. I loved snorkeling and swimming in the ocean. The water temperature was perfect! The beach was sandy and soft. There were no rocks or shell which made it great for beach strolls.

The resort was right on the beach and there were tons of lounge chairs and canopys to use.

This was our breakfast view each morning. So beautiful!

Decks throughout the resort and paved pathways made it easy to explore the area. We stayed at the resort the entire week, but walked into town once to buy souvenirs.

There were about five restaurants at the resort, including Japanese, French, and a Brazilian Steak House. Matt and I agreed that the buffet was by far the best so we ate most of our meals there. I loved the yogurt and fresh fruit!

Most mornings we went to the buffet for breakfast, worked out, and then headed back to the buffet for post workout coffee and mimosas.

I was so impressed by the resort staff. Everyone was incredibly attentive and friendly. There was definitely a language barrier at times, but for the most part we got by fine and even learned some words.

Espresso doble beachside. The coffee at the resort was truly incredible.

There was a beautiful spa located on the resort. It’s tucked away from the rest the hotel and so peaceful.

The spa offers a service called “hydrotherapy” which alternates between hot and cold temperatures to stimulate blood flow and remove toxins from the body. It’s also super relaxing. You begin with a shower and then spend 10-15 minutes in a sauna, 10-15 minutes in a steam room, and then you end with a cool whirlpool bath.

The whirlpool was so relaxing! I had the hydrotherapy treatment three times.

We walked the beach several times and enjoyed daily swims. There was a large main pool and four smaller infinity pools throughout the resort. There were also several beach and pool bars which made it convenient to enjoy drinks by the water.

This is the view of some of the rooms from the beach. There were beds and lounge chairs along the pool and garden. We often saw people laying on them for the entire day!

All inclusive meant a lot of eating and drinking. We both loved the margaritas and I ate my weight in guacamole.

I drank mostly white wine and margaritas on the rocks, but I did have a cosmo once and it was delicious!

Our room had a walk out deck complete with a jacuzzi and Adirondack chairs. I also loved the hammocks right in front and spent several hours reading in them.

Can’t beat this view! Laying on the beach doing nothing = total happiness.

This was such a relaxing and wonderful vacation for us. We cannot wait to go back to Mexico.


I hope you all had a lovely week!



Exercising for vanity vs. exercising for health

March 31, 2017
A Fit Mess

What motivates you to exercise? Have you considered the reasons why you choose to workout? Today I’m tackling a topic that I find myself thinking about more and more these days: exercising for vanity vs. exercising for overall health. To be honest, as I started this post my thoughts were a bit all over the place, but I’ve tried to focus on the main points I want to get across. I definitely have an opinion or two on the matter, and although you may not agree with me, I am speaking from my own experience and perspective.


I’m willing to bet that many people workout in order to look a certain way. In fact, I think appearance is probably one of the top reasons we take that first step into the gym. Of course, this is only one piece of the equation. It takes a combination of diet, exercise, and many other lifestyle factors to positively influence your overall health.


It’s worth acknowledging that while physical appearance may be a top reason for people to start exercising – it’s the other health benefits that keep us coming back.


For me, exercise is part of my lifestyle. While I might have been motivated by appearance when I was younger (and had NO clue that fitness was anything more than running on the treadmill), I now understand the positive effect exercise has, not only on the outside, but on my mental health, productivity, overall well-being, and relationships.


Exercise can often be viewed as an activity that is done solely for the sake of vanity. Frequent gym-goers may be seen as overly concerned about their appearance and narcissistic. Or some may view exercise as a punishment or as a way to offset other unhealthy behaviors. Please don’t mistake – I am not talking about those who struggle with eating disorders. If you are suffering from a health or exercise disorder, I encourage you to seek help right away. In this post, I’m discussing the connection between exercising for your appearance and exercising for your overall health. It’s fair to say these don’t have to be mutually exclusive. You can choose to workout in order to achieve a certain physical appearance as well as to gain the health benefits that result from exercise.


What’s my point? Exercise is so much more than a means to a good butt or killer abs. And while I certainly acknowledge that some may be purely motivated by appearance (totally fine, as long as you don’t struggle with an eating disorder or get self-critical about yourself), understanding and acknowledging the deeper benefits to exercise will help you continue on your healthy habits.

Some of my favorite benefits of regular exercise include:

  • Mental sharpness and clarity – I am so much more productive personally and professionally on the days when I’ve worked out. Running helps me break through mental blocks and lifting will inevitably increase my confidence and focus.
  • Manage anxiety and stress – I definitely turned a corner in my mental health when I began to consistently exercise. Fitness helps me manage stressful occasions, sort through personal problems, and keep anxiety at bay. One thing I really appreciate about my therapist is that whenever we meet she checks to make sure I’m exercising regularly.
  • Helps with aging and extends your lifetime – I’m sure you’ve seen these super-agers. They’re older individuals who appear and act much younger than their age. Not only are they active and healthy, but they’re smart, perceptive people. In other words, they are aging well and extending their quality of life.
  • Keeps health conditions, like heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis in check – Since I had gestational diabetes during my last pregnancy, I am more likely to develop type 2 diabetes down the road. Exercise helps regulate blood sugar levels and supports thyroid function. My family also has a history of heart disease (my mother and my grandmother both died of a heart attack at age 40) so I make it a priority to keep my body strong and healthy.
  • Offers a way to show yourself some love – Exercise is enjoyable for me. Sure, it’s hard as hell at times, but I never regret it. And I always feel better afterwards. Taking time out for activity gives me a break from my day, but it’s more than that. It can reset a bad attitude, challenge you physically and mentally, and it’s a way to show your body that you are invested it in long term.


I would love to know what your thoughts are on this subject.

Thank you for reading!



Friday faves 24 + Postmates giveaway!

March 25, 2017

Hey there. Happy weekend! I’m a bit late getting my Friday Favorites post to you (that seems to be the trend lately). I’m sipping on some coffee while the girls play and soon we are headed out to see Beauty and the Beast with my girlfriend. Hoping it’s not too dark and scary for them. Also hoping they share their popcorn with me. 🙂 Okay, let’s get into it!


Friday faves 24


Dermalogica total eye care – I have been using this eye cream for years and I loooovve it. It works really well to hide under eye circles and diminish fine lines. I wear it everyday and I can’t say enough about it. It’s a bit pricey, but you can usually find discounts if you shop around. Amazon carries it fairly cheap.

A Fit Mess

Trader Joe’s GF buttermilk pancake and waffle mix – I bought this the other day to make drop biscuits for the girls’ class. It worked really well and the biscuits turned out great. I haven’t tried to make pancakes or waffles with it yet, but I’m sure they’re delicious.

TJ’s single serving packages of guacamole – I love these! They are so easy to toss into your lunch bag or purse. They are the perfect portion size, too.

D3 Excellence by Poliquin Group – Vitamin D is essential for bone and immune health and blood sugar regulation. I take one soft gel daily (5,000 IU) during the colder months. It’s currently on sale ($21.50) through March 31!

This total medicine ball workout – I made a few modifications (I’m not coordinated enough to do figure eights with a ball), but kept the workout basically the same. It was quick and dirty and one I will definitely do again.

A Fit Mess

KT tape – One month into CrossFit and my body is feeling a bit banged up. My hands and wrists, in particular, are feeling sore and achy. I’ve started wrapping my hands a bit with KT tape and it has really improved my grip. I’m hoping that this will provide a bit more support through my workouts.

And now an awesome Postmates giveaway!

Here’s a BIG offer from Postmates for anyone looking to try the service. Use my code 9ktcg and get $100 in delivery fee credit to use on your first few orders! Limited time offer. 

Have a great weekend, friends!