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The fitness center at our resort in Mexico was rather small and outdated.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.


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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!



5 tips to stick to your weekly workouts

March 15, 2017
A Fit Mess

Hey guys. The weekend is just about here! If you’re currently dealing with Mother Nature, I hope you are staying safe and warm. Spring will be here soon, my friends!


I’m often asked how I continue to motivate myself to workout on a regular basis and commit to exercise while juggling kids and work. While I believe it has a lot to do with making fitness a priority, there are other factors involved with maintaining a focus on fitness. Today I’m sharing some of the ways I’ve learned to commit to my weekly workouts and stay motivated to exercise.


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1. Plan, plan, plan!

Every Sunday I spend some time reviewing my calendar for the week ahead. Since I am old school, I  use my Kate Spade planner to keep track of all my appointments. In addition to scheduling my work commitments, school events, and personal appointments, I make sure to plan my workouts for the upcoming week. While I typically stick to the same schedule/classes, sometimes I will have a conflict and need to restructure my days so that I can squeeze in a CrossFit class, home workout, or a run. But I have found that I am MUCH more likely to stick to my weekly workouts if I take some time to plan in advance.


2. Pay (and sign up) for classes and training in advance.

This works really well if you plan to attend group classes during the week. Most studio around here fill up fast and you need to sign up ahead of time to secure your spot. This has the added benefit of keeping you accountable since there is often a penalty or fee for cancelling within a certain window of time. Additionally, if you have a gym membership or a personal trainer, paying for both up front will keep you committed. I wouldn’t want to waste money on an unused gym membership and I sure as heck wouldn’t want to lose a training session.


3. Block the time on your calendar.

I can’t stress this one enough! Schedule your workouts ahead of time and treat them as you would any other appointment. Try your best to keep every appointment you make. Of course, things come up and you may need to miss a workout here or there, but your scheduled time should be valued in the same way as you would a work meeting or doctor’s appointment. And if you have the time blocked on your calendar then you are more likely to honor that appointment.


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4. Find friends and coaches that will keep you accountable.

If you find it difficult to motivate yourself to workout on your own, try to partner up with friends, family, or colleagues. Personally, if I know others are relying on me then I’m less likely to skip. Similarly, I know that my CrossFit coaches would start to notice if I did not show up for my usual classes (I hear that’s pretty typical in the community). Having trainers/coaches who will keep you accountable (and lay on the guilt!) is great for motivation and encouragement.


5. Practice gratitude.

It’s easy to take movement for granted. Sometimes we get caught up in a routine and forget how fortunate we are to be active. I’ve been injured numerous times, and at one point I was told I would probably never run pain-free again. All that has changed for me and I’ve been able to workout and run on a regular basis (and pain-free) for quite a while now. Sometimes I still get emotional while running when I look back on those days when I couldn’t do anything without pain. I try to remind myself that movement is a gift and to remain deeply grateful for what my body can do.

You might also like:

Making time to exercise

Fitting in exercise when you have children

The best way to stay motivated




Workout: Running + Strength {kettlebell and medicine ball}

November 11, 2016

Hey there! I have a great workout to share with you when you are short on time, but still want to work up a sweat. For this workout, all you need is a kettlebell and medicine ball, but you could substitute a dumbbell for both. I have a few notes on each exercise below so be sure to keep reading. Happy sweating!

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400 meter runs: The run can be done outside or on the treadmill. Try to push yourself to make each run a little bit faster than the last one.


Kettlebell swings: I used a 30 lb. KB for this, but choose a weight that is challenging and doable for 20 reps. To start, hold the KB in both hands and bend your knees slightly. Swing the KB through your legs to shoulder height and reverse back down to the starting position. Keep your eyes forward and back straight. Bracing your abs will help protect your lower back.


Tricep push ups on a medicine ball: Begin in a starting push up position, but instead of placing your hands on the ground, put them on a medicine ball. Lower yourself down until your chest just about touches the ball and press back up. Remember to keep your elbows pinned to your sides.


Jump squats holding a medicine ball: Perform a usual squat jump, but holding a medicine ball or a dumbell. I used a 12 lb. ball for my jumps, but you can go heavier if needed. Be sure to keep your toes slightly turned out and land softly to protect your knees.


Weighted sit ups: Perform a usual sit up, but for this variation you should hold one moderate – light weight in your hands. Try to hold the weight close to your chest to keep it challenging and avoid using momentum to swing back up.


Friday faves 3 + birthday recap

June 3, 2016

Hey there, friends! I’m excited to be back with another Friday faves post for you. I have a few things to share, but first I want to take a moment to thank everyone for the kind birthday wishes. So far, 33 (or as the girls say, “free-free”) has been treating me well.

Birthday recap

My morning started out really peaceful. I drank coffee and wrote for an hour or so in a completely silent house. The girls didn’t wake up until 7:30 – that was my gift. Once they got up, I made them smoothies and prepped my carrot cake while eating a big bowl of protein overnight oats and fruit.

A Fit Mess

I took the girls to Old Navy to try to do some shopping, but it wasn’t happening. There were crazy deals going on, but it was difficult to look around – my kids were darting all over the place. We’re in that running-away-from-mom-is-fun stage.


Later on, I left the girls with Matt and got a great workout in at the Y and then spent some time at Market Street Coffee reading and writing. It wasn’t too exciting, but it was exactly what I needed.


In the evening, Matt made homemade pizza and wings for dinner. The pizza was pretty epic. It had caramelized onions and shiitake mushrooms, garlic, bell peppers, and goat cheese and pesto. Honestly, I could have eaten the entire tray. The recipe is from Julie Bauer’s Paleo Cookbook and this pizza alone is worth buying the whole book.


And the carrot cake! It was sooo easy to make and turned out really well. I think I’m going to have to make it for the girls’ party next week.


So overall it was a pretty great day!

Okay, let’s get into the Friday faves.

Friday faves – what I’m loving lately

Starbucks ground mocha flavored coffeeMatt picked this up last week and we have really been enjoying it. The secret is to mix half of the flavored coffee with a regular kind. It creates a delicious cup of coffee with a tiny hint of chocolate. Seriously, it’s SO good!


So Delicious cashew milk “ice cream.” I recently learned that So Delicious now has cashew non-dairy ice cream and I was excited to try this one. The dark chocolate truffle is dangerously good. It’s so rich you only need a small amount.


Nordstrom’s Half Yearly Sale. You’ll love or hate me for this one. Yes, the sale that empties our bank accounts has just a couple of more days left. I’ve been pretty good, but I found some super cute things on the cheap. I got this high neck dress for $20 and this swing dress for $22! You’re welcome.


12 high intensity running workouts. Tina from Carrots ‘N’ Cake shared a compilation of her favorite running workouts in honor of Global Running Day. The best part? They are all pin-able! I want to try the Dirty Diana!


Coconut Oil Hair Mask from Majestic Pure. This deep conditioner is great for restoring damaged hair. It’s rich in vitamin E and fatty acids and will leave your hair soft and hydrated. It’s on Amazon Prime, too!

Capture Have you heard of this? Basically it’s a service that lets you shop your favorite Instagram styles within minutes. All you need to do is sign up for, like a photo on Instagram, and you’ll receive links to purchase the items right to your inbox. I know…dangerous. It’s actually pretty neat!

like to know it

Okay, I’ve got to run and start my day. Have a fabulous weekend all!

What are you loving lately?