Simple Fitness: Exercise Must-Haves in My Minimalist Home

Simple Fitness: Exercise Must-Haves in My Minimalist Home

Several years ago, I had a gym membership. Two, actually, because we’d moved and I signed up for another gym before I found out that we hadn’t moved far enough away for them to waive my early termination fee. Crap.

Simple Fitness Exercise Must-Haves in My Minimalist Home

But I dealt with because I thought it was something I thought I needed in order to be healthy.

Now, I have no gym membership and I aim to live a more active lifestyle overall so I don’t feel the need to do crazy workouts that involve a lot of equipment.

And when I do workout, I do so with minimal tools, at or near my home and I only own one sports bra. Yeah, I’m a hardcore minimalist. ;)

Here are my top essentials: 

Yoga Mat

My name is Nina and I have ridiculously tight muscles. RIDICULOUSLY tight. So I need some help. Which is where lots of stretching comes in so I can loosen said muscles.

However, I’ve noticed that doing this on a hard floor is not very comfortable so I bought a nice yoga mat.

Eet’s nice.

I got this Jade Yoga Mat because it’s made with natural rubber and because it’s thicker than the one I had before (which my kids found along with some scissors and made me two yoga mats – so thoughtful).

It rolls up nicely and fits in a corner on our bus. There’s also just enough space to roll it out in between our kitchen cabinets so I can strike a few poses. Win!

Minimalist Shoes

I’ve been wearing minimalist shoes for several years now and I love them. I can’t remember why I started. Maybe the book Born to Run inspired it, or maybe it was seeing one of my favorite bloggers wearing them.

Either way, I learned about how great they can be for posture, bad knees, back pain and the muscles in your feet and I was sold.

I’m a huge fan of Vibram Five Finger Shoes (rest in peace my original pair that looked like black ballet slippers – I miss you). I can wear them for walking, running, everyday wear and even take them in the water. I’m all about multi-purpose shoes.

Deep Blue

Deep Blue is an essential oil blend from doTERRA that I’ve actually just started using (even though I’ve had it for a while). When I decided to start running again, I was very aware of certain muscles in my legs after runs. So, after complaining about it for a while, I remembered my Deep Blue and rubbed it on my leg.

It worked so quickly, I couldn’t believe it. My muscles stopped hurting and my leg felt like I hadn’t gone running at all. In less than 5 minutes.

I know doTERRA‘s essential oils work fast, but sometimes I’m still amazed at how quickly they make me feel better. (To order essential oils and learn more about this month’s amaze-balls promotion, check out this page.)

Essential Fitness: Deep Blue Rub

Kettle Bell

You know what’s fun? Doing all of your cardio and strength-training in less than 30 minutes while swinging around a heavy ball with a handle. (Just don’t hit yourself in the head – it hurts.)

I bought a 10-pound kettle bell a few months ago and like it because it makes working out a lot more fun. There’s also the fact that you can hit all the major areas in so little time (have I mentioned that I have a short attention span?).

And there are tons of free workout videos on the YouTube, so if you ever get bored with one, you can just hop onto a new one. I like the ones from Fitness Blender best.


It’s hard for me to describe this sports drink from Boresha. I don’t necessarily have more energy for working out, but I have more motivation – I crave exercise. I also have more endurance.

Also, when I’m done doing a Fitness Blender kettle bell video, instead of falling on my face on my bed afterward and staying there for the next 20 minutes, I can just take a short break and I’m ready to move on with my day.

Ok, sometimes I skip onto the next thing and then I get excited about doing chores because it means I get to move. You can see why I love my Codebreaker.

Did I mention it also aids with fat-burning? That’s a plus, too. ;)


I bought a Fit Bit Zip a few months ago after reading some rave reviews from several friends. I’d purchased pedometers before for around $10 and they always broke quickly, so I wanted to invest in a good one this time. Well worth it.

I’ve been wearing it every day since then and logging at least 10,000 steps on most days.

I have the hardest time sitting down now – I’d much rather be moving. Which, of course, is great for so many reasons. Especially because I can now wear a skirt without spandex shorts underneath if I want to (yay for non-chaffage!).

Also, it gives me a lot of motivation. If I check it in the evening and notice my steps are low, I get outside and start walking. Or go for a run. I’ve also been known to jog in place so I get to 10,000.

I can jog in place forever if I’m watching Doctor Who. :)

What are your exercise must-haves?

I Am Slim & Sassy: My Vision of an Active Lifestyle

I Am Slim & Sassy: My Vision of an Active Lifestyle

For the past several months, I’ve been focusing on using food, natural remedies and rest to recover from an especially stressful year. I’ve got more energy now, my skin is looking great and the weight I gained is coming off.

I’m excited! But there’s something missing.

Part of my why, my reason for pursuing wellness is to be able to go on adventures with my family that require physical fitness and endurance. I want to be able to keep up with my kids and husband and, someday, my grandkids.

It’s similar to my friend, Kevin Miller’s, “why”:

Someday, Lord willing, I’ll be 85+ with great grandkids. I want to be able bodied, and as my mind lives in this body and isn’t separate, I also want mental clarity. I want to be laughing and working and hiking with my family, not having them sit me in a chair like a lump or worse, visiting me in my dementia in the nursing home.

My vision is an active lifestyle focused on drawing closer to God, building meaningful relationships and living simply.

After spending so much time focused on my diet, I’m ready to incorporate more fitness into my life, so I can get closer to that vision. Right now, it consists of inconsistent HIIT workouts, yoga, walking and jogging.

I want to be more active, more fit and, ok, I want my butt to look amazing in my skinny jeans. 

What I’m doing about it

What makes physical activity sustainable for me? Fun and support. If I dread doing a workout, I quickly drop it. If I feel like I’m all alone, same deal. Fortunately, these are simple fixes and I’ve found two solutions:

Movin’ Mountains

Our church has created teams to participate in a local wellness challenge. Ian and I were asked to be the Team Captain “Captains” so we’re helping others set goals and working together to meet them.

Slim & Sassy Challenge

doTERRA runs an annual Slim & Sassy Weight Loss Challenge that focuses on helping people lose weight by creating a healthier lifestyle. I’m taking part in their official challenge and using the Slim & Sassy essential oil blend to help me with my weight loss goals (by helping with sugar cravings).

My sister-in-law and I are also leading a local challenge.

If you’d like to join us, registration is going on now until the 15th, with the challenge starting on February 15th. If you’re not in Central Oregon, don’t worry, we’ll be providing support via teleseminars, so anyone can join us. I’ll also be providing free coaching to participants who need help with a game plan.

Please contact me to join our challenge. 

Are you trying to get more active? Do you have the support your need to meet your goals?

Balancing Your Life Through Yoga

Balancing Your Life Through Yoga

Image by lululemon athletica

The following is a guest post by Sarah Stevenson.

Life a chaotic mess? What if I told you that I know something you can do to cut through that chaos? A practice that not only can de-stress a cluttered mind, but strengthen and relax a fatigued body and bring balance to a worried soul? Interested?

Welcome to the wonderful world of yoga.

If done regularly, the balance it creates can help you accomplish incredible physical and mental tasks. Here are specific ways that a consistent yoga practice can help you:

Waking Up the Body

The practice of yoga consists of breathing techniques and asanas (poses). Typically yoga poses are held in place for 5 to 10 breaths. Holding these poses places resistance on your muscles with your own body weight, creating little tears in the muscles, as most exercise does.

Once the tears are present, your healing centers are woken up, rushing healer cells to the little tears to heal them. The healer cells then build new fibers, thus increasing the strength of your muscles.

The weight-bearing asanas also promote an increase in bone density. You spend an equal amount of time on each side of the body, which promotes a balanced physique.

The consistent flow of asanas also reminds us that the body has a voice. It screams when it is being pushed too far and whispers to us sweetly when we get a yummy stretch in. You are taught in yoga to stay within the whisper of the body.

Quieting and Controlling the Mind

Yoga does an amazing job at healing the mind by helping you control it. We first do this with the practice of Pranayama (breathing techniques to quiet the mind). The Ujjayi breath is used in yoga throughout the entire class.

It is characterized by deep inhale through the nose in which the belly expands outward and deep exhales through the nose in which the belly sinks inward. An “ocean sound” is created by narrowing the throat passage thus the breath brushes against the back of the throat.

The inhalations and exhalations are equal in duration, and are controlled in a manner. Ujjayi is a balancing and calming breath, which increases oxygenation and builds internal body heat.

The mind can only focus on one thing at a time, so if you take your thoughts to the sound of your breath, the mind does not have the ability to focus on anything else. When you add the flow of asanas to match the breath, you then wake up the body and control the mind.

If you do it right, it’ll happen without your awareness and you’ll calm before you even notice the shift.

Opening Up To Your Soul

Once you have control of the mind and can hear the voice of the body, you come at life from a more soulful place. When you have a consistent practice you will notice that you’re making different choices when it comes to things as simple as the food you eat to choices as complex as whom you want to spend your time with.

When you are a more balanced, peaceful human being, you share that peace and balance with everything you come into contact with — and you find the whole world responds differently to you in kind.

We find ourselves being more loving and passionate than we ever thought we would be. We make more conscious choices that serve us and mankind as a whole.

The key, my friends, is to have a consistent weekly practice so that you are working toward balance several times a week. Ideally, that means an hour a day, three times a week. Once you start to see the benefits of this you will be more than happy to continue your practice.

Know that when you put effort toward balancing your life today you will continue to reap the benefits the rest of your lives.

Sarah Stevenson, a.k.a., The Tini Yogini, is a Certified Yoga Instructor in Southern California. She has a degree in Behavioral Psychology and teaches not only yoga classes but also life affirming workshops. She also writes for, which provides effective home fitness dvds for all fitness levels including advanced elite training such the Asylum Volume 2 workout.

Intentional Parenting Must-Haves: The Boba Baby Carrier

When I was a new mom, there were a lot of things I thought I needed: a crib, a changing table, five outfits for every day of the week.

As time went by, I realized that the crib and changing table were used more for storage than anything and all of those clothes, well, most of them never saw the light of day.

When my second was born, I quickly discovered the value of baby carriers, which freed up my hands so that I could tend to my busy toddler and snuggle up with my sweet baby at the same time. They quickly became my favorite baby item.

Not all baby carriers are created equal.

I tried a lot of carriers: ring slings, wraps, the Snugli (ugh). I liked them all, for the most part. At the time, there was this awesome baby wrap called the Sleepy Wrap (now the Boba wrap). It was soft, snug and I loved that I could take the baby out and put him/her back in without having to re-tie the wrap (another wrap I tried wasn’t so convenient).

Several months after discovering the Sleepy Wrap I learned that the company was releasing a new baby carrier, called the Boba. It was soft-structure baby carrier that allowed you to carry larger infants and toddlers. Just the versatility I needed with so many small kids.

I had to have one.

I fell in love as soon as it was out of the package. It was soft, easy-to-use and the dark brown color was just right for my neutral-loving self. In addition, it had some other great features:

  • Front and back carry options
  • Removable sleeping hood
  • Adjustable waistband straps and back straps
  • Additional adjustments for easier fit & breastfeeding
  • Removable foot straps (win!)
  • Daddy-friendliness

In July, I gifted that Boba to a friend with a new baby. It was bittersweet, as I loved that she would get to use it but knew I would miss my favorite carrier. But I had found a used Kelty backpack in excellent condition, so I wouldn’t miss my Boba too much, right?

Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Last week, I got a new Boba. I tore into the box, like a kid at Christmas, and pulled out my treasure. I oohed at the beautiful neutral grey and squealed over the new features (pockets!). Yes, I’m easily pleased.

I waited for the perfect moment to strap Isaiah in (when he was clean and I was pretty sure he wouldn’t pee his pants) and off we walked to the post office to mail my midwifery school tuition.

I didn’t think it was possible, but it was more comfortable and even easier to use.

5 Reasons Why This Carrier Rocks

1. Bus-friendliness

Not only do I like minimal possessions, I like having stuff that can easily be folded up and put away in a small space. I guess that’s a good trait since we’re moving into a bus … This carrier folds up nicely and can be put away in a bag, under a car seat or pretty much anywhere you need to put it. Boba actually has a new baby carrier out that’s lighter than the original (how is that possible???) and comes with a handy-dandy little storage pouch.

2. Versatility

When Boba first rolled out a soft-structured baby carrier, it was only meant for older babies and toddlers. I didn’t mind because I already had their super comfy baby wrap that I used with my little babes. However, the Boba carrier can now be used for little ones 7-45 lbs. And there’s no infant insert to worry about or anything. They include instructions in their handy Boba manual.

3. Snuggle-ability

Have you ever made dinner while breastfeeding an infant. I have. Thank you Boba. This fantabulous baby carrier makes attachment parenting easier than ever, especially if you want to nurse your babe while your hands are occupied. Yes, you will feel like Super woman.

4. Pockets

The only thing that I didn’t like about my first Boba carrier was that it had no pockets. I talked about sewing on a cute one, but never got around to it. You can imagine how happy I was when I got my new one and found that not only did it have pockets, but they were in discreet places that kept the carrier from looking too bulky. It even has straps to keep your purse in place now!

5. Comfort – for everyone

If you’re using a baby carrier that isn’t comfortable for you and/or your baby, you should get rid of it. Yesterday. I love my Boba because I’m comfortable when I use it – the weight is evenly distributed and the straps are nice and padded. My kiddos love it. And my husband has no problems wearing it.

Win, win, win.

Click here to view all of the goodness Boba has to offer. 

Simple Strategies for Fitness and Weight Loss

A fun family hike

I’ve struggled with my weight for a long time. I can remember my senior year of high school, when I hit my all-time high of 150. Well, at least that was my all-time high then.

Thankfully, I got Tae-Bo tapes for Christmas that year. I thought that it had looked fun on the commercials, but it wasn’t until after I tried it that I knew that I loved kickboxing. Jabs, kicks, uppercuts, it was all so fun. And I was good at it.

It didn’t take long for me to shed some pounds and feel a little better about myself.

However, I quickly gained weight back, lost it again for a brief period of time in college – taking a volleyball class and a Total Fitness (LOTS of running) class at the same time will do that to anyone. But alas, I gained it back and kept gaining for a few years.

Last August, something happened. It’s the same thing that happens right before I make any big change – I got tired of how I felt. Really tired. Not just, “oh, I don’t think I like this anymore, so I’ll stop”. But really sick of feeling like a fat slob. Tired of being asked if I was pregnant when I definitely wasn’t. Ready to be healthy and strong.

So I did something about it. I emailed my friends Tony and Dustin, who were looking for testers for their new fitness program and was selected. After a few weeks in the program, I loved how strong I was feeling, but upset that I had only lost a couple pounds.

That’s when I got really serious and started eating differently –  using a smaller plate and actually stopping before I felt full. I had been overstuffing myself for years – I guess I took “eating for two” to heart.

At the same time, I cut my sugar intake. Almost completely. I also upped my consumption of protein and healthy fats, along with fruits and vegetables.

I started melting.

I didn’t count calories. I didn’t spend hours and hours working out each week. I didn’t go on a low-fat diet. I didn’t do any of those things that conventional wisdom say you should do.

And, to date, I’ve lost 32 pounds. I’m stoked with my body. Have I reached the magic number yet? No. That’s 12 pounds away. What I’m mostly concerned about, though, is being healthy. And strong.

I did this with 4 small children. And yes, I gave birth to all of them. In a span of 5 years, in fact. If I can do this, believe me, you can do this. Just remember to keep it simple.

It’s all about what you eat

This is SO TRUE. Although I was getting stronger and noticing lovely muscles popping out (I have a booty for the first time ever!), I didn’t see a big difference in weight loss until I made major changes to the way I ate. What’s the secret? Balance. As in, not focusing on a ton of grain servings a day and minimal fats. I’m talking equal parts fat, protein and carbs. And the more carbs you get from fruits and veggies, the better. I could go into this, but I think Mark says it WAY better.

Make fitness part of everyday life

Walking. Hiking. Playing outside with your kids. These are all enjoyable and they burn calories. Go on leisurely bike rides with your family. Get used to moving your body and enjoying it. You don’t have to feel like you’re about to die after every workout to get fit.

Don’t do this alone

When Ian and I started working out together and making fitness a bigger priority, we started having a lot more fun. And we both stuck to it. Our dates got more active with hikes and snowshoeing and long walks. We’re also reaping the benefits in the bedroom – I feel so confident about my body now, which he loves.

Do stuff you love

The chances of sticking to something, no matter how awesome the program is, are dismal if you can’t stand it. Being active should be fun. Choose activities that you love doing. For instance, I have a great time with kickboxing. So I tend to choose kickboxing workouts or make up my own using kickboxing moves. Yes, I am a nerd like that.

You don’t have to invest a lot of money

I’ve had numerous gym memberships. They usually did nothing more than drain my pocket book. My workouts now consist of jogs, workout videos or programs that I buy or get via Netflix and lots of pushups and squats. I usually use my own body weight, but I also have a set of dumbbells and a resistance band. That’s it. I even workout barefoot most of the time. Fancy clothing and equipment just isn’t necessary.

Will you join me?

I realize that these are all simple suggestions. And that’s what a healthy, active life should be: simple. It just takes the decision to do it and the determination to persevere and create those new habits.

If you don’t know how to do this with little kids around or you don’t know even where to begin, please join me for a free webinar that I’m cohosting. Tony and Dustin (those guys that selected me for their program) from Fit Marriage have created a free webinar just for busy families.

If you’re interested, it’s going to be September 27th at 6:00 PM Pacific? You can sign up here.


No excuses, 15-minute workout

No excuses, 15-minute workout

Having four kids ages six and under gives me plenty of excuses not to workout. Believe me, I’ve used them all. Who has time to devote 60 minutes to a cardio workout? And there’s no way I’m gonna carve out time (or fork over the money) to go to a gym.

No Excuses 15-Minute Workout. A quick, high-intensity workout to help you get fit no matter how busy your schedule.

Photo credit

Which is why I stopped doing long workouts and now enjoy short-burst resistance training in addition to running and stretching. What the heck is that? The short of it is, you work out the major muscles in your body to build lean muscle, which burns fat. Doing it in intense, short bursts does this quickly and efficiently.

I first learned about this kind of training as a tester of the Thrive90 fitness program (which I highly recommend).

Exercising like this makes it so much easier for me to get off my butt and move my body and it even inspired me to create my own 15-minute workout.

It takes only fifteen minutes and I’m able to do it in my small bedroom, even with a baby toddling around me. That means no excuses! Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Squat kicks, 10 with each leg

Squat like you’re going to sit in a chair. I actually squat over my bed when I do this so I know I’m doing it right. Then, alternate between kicking either forward or to the side with each leg.

10 push-ups

I’m still working my way up to “real” push-ups, so I do them on my knees. You can alternate between narrow and wide ones, if you so desire. Just make sure your butt isn’t sticking way up in the air.

10 lunges, each leg

I did this first with reverse lunges (is that what they’re called?) where you step back into the lunge and then come back up. Then I did it with regular forward lunges. It doesn’t matter which you do. They both burn.

30-second plank

Sound tough? Yeah, it is. But you can do it. It looks like this. If it’s too difficult, put your knees down, but stay straight. You’ll feel this in your arms and abs.


I don’t have a jump rope so I just hop. I hop 25 times with both feet, 25 with the right, 25 with the left and 25 with both feet again.

Start over

Or if you’re done, march in place for a minute or two to cool down. I can do this 3 times in 15 minutes. And boy do I feel it when I’m done.

As you can see, this requires no special workout equipment. I like to lay down my yoga mat for the floor stuff and just wear basic workout clothes with my minimalist shoes. You can see all of my exercise must-haves here.

Be sure you’re not doing this on an empty stomach – having a smoothie beforehand is nice. I tried it on an empty stomach once and ended up fighting off dry heaves about 15 minutes later. Not a good idea. Follow up with a post-workout meal or snack.

I’m not a fitness expert. I’m a busy mom who wants to get healthy, have energy and lose my spare tire. That said, listen to your body. If you can’t do it all the way, don’t. I don’t want you to hurt yourself by pushing too hard. And heed this warning: you may become addicted to how awesome it feels to get stronger and more active.

Happy sweating!