This has been the year of doing things that make me feel GOOD. While many think 2016 was a big pile of garbage (me included), I tried to take this time to reflect, work on my outward self and start tuning into really what has been going on in my mind. Has it been easy? No way. It’s been the hardest year of my life.
Despite setbacks, I’m going to make sure I turn the end of this year into a celebration. To honor all the big changes, difficult days and new lifestyle choices, Corey from Learning Patience and I have collaborated on some of our favorite gifts that keep on giving when it comes to fitness and self-care.
We are also doing a collaborative giveaway with some of the best goodies, open to BOTH our friends in the UK and US this time! Don’t miss it at the bottom of this post.
Corey is an award-winning fitness blogger, marathon runner and one of the craziest motivators I’ve had in my time here in London. She does all of this while battling Type 1 Diabetes and is a rockstar in her management, raising awareness and staying amazingly in shape. Corey played a big role in getting me started with a daily yoga practice, which has now also incorporated everything from spin classes and boot camps to personal training sessions and even climbing the bloody 02 Arena!
Here’s the best gifts you can give anyone this season to celebrate self-care, being fit, opening your mind to the present and unplugging. Treat yourself and your loved ones – we ALL deserve it!
Mello Mae Yoga Mat
The long quest of finding that perfect yoga mat has ended! While my London studio has mats to use, whenever I practiced yoga at home or on the road, I was using a slippery and flimsy mat that only led to frustration. But Mello Mae produces beautiful yoga mats in several colors that are made from a natural crop called jute, which is natural and bio-degradable. Each mat gives great grip with a textured front, and also works to wick away sweat and remains anti-bacterial. It’s nice and thick so I don’t have to double up on my knee lunges or worry about boinking my head when attempting a bridge pose. I can’t wait to take my mat on my next adventure abroad to keep up my daily practice. I love supporting a New England company that’s working hard to provide long-lasting, ethically made mats that all types of yogis can use. Retail: $58.00 USD
Lumie Zest: Portable SAD Lamp
London sucks when it comes to the weather. This is nothing new. Because I grew up in New England often under a blanket of snow, I never thought much of how the weather could be effect my overall mood. But day after day of overcast skies can actually take a toll on both your physical body and mental health, due to nutrient deficiencies. A friend recommended I look into light therapy to help boost my mood and feel better during the long London winter. The Lumie Zest is a perfect, portable device that mimics sunlight without UV rays, so you can have it on during the day for periods of time to get the light you need. It works on a timer and can also be set as a natural alarm, with the light gradually getting stronger to help wake you in the morning. In the couple of weeks I’ve been using it, I’m finding the gentle light comforting, and even refreshing, especially when it’s gross outside and I’m stuck working for long hours in the gloom. I love that it’s small enough to take with me on the road too. Retail: £125.00
Noli Yoga Leggings
Yoga class for me was a ratty t-shirt and loose cotton pants for months. While it worked for a time, I was distracted by tripping over bell-bottomed yoga pants and being smothered in loose shirts. Wearing form-fitting clothing for yoga and any activity is not to show off, but for functionality. I realized this the first time I stepped on the mat in a breathable tank top, proper sports bra and tight leggings – it was actually a game changer. While hunting for a perfect pair of leggings, I found Noli Yoga‘s incredible shop online that was full of affordable wear and funky designs. I also like that the bras are cut to hold everything together, even in that downward dog that lasts for days. My favorite pick is the black tree leggings, which are sweat-wicking and have a tiny pocket for valuables. Retail: $75.00 for leggings.
ReimaGO Activity Tracker
All this new-found exercise in my life deserves a reward, right? As an a budding yogi, how do I keep pace of my movement on a daily basis? While the fancy watches that monitor heart rate and BMI are on my wishlist someday, I find the fun of tracking simplified with the ReimaGO to be perfect. In fact, these activity trackers were designed specifically for children. A ReimaGO activity tracker is a small disk that can be put in a pocket or backpack. The battery lasts up to six months. They also have special winter jackets and fleeces designed with sleeve pockets that have a ReimaGO fastener built inside. You send the kiddos outside for the day and you both can open the special app on your smartphone to see how much they move. The app is easy for kids to check once a day to watch their little avatar make progress on the activity map, and parents can make sure their children are getting at least an hour of movement a day, which is the minimum little ones should be exercising. But for me? I discovered you can change the digital sticker ‘rewards’ to any photo you like. So every time I hit my weekly exercise goals, mama gets a bottle of bubbly. Done and done. Retail: £39.99 for sensor
Fabletics Active Wear
Who knew I’d be the girl always out in active wear? Because I try to get to the studio every day, it’s often easier to just wear my yoga outfit while working from home and doing errands too. I love that Fabletics gear is not just plain and boring, but stylish and has little details to make you feel fresh, even in posh London. For the winter months, I’ve enjoyed the Avon legging the most, with its rose cutout mesh detailing and how they stay put even while running to catch the bus. Not only are clothes great for yoga, I rarely take off my new fall jacket that has leather detailings, which goes awesome with a chunky, soft infinity scarf. You can sign up for a VIP membership to get discounts every month as they release new designs, or buy items individually anytime. Retail: Outfits start at £44.00 for VIP members.
As an accident-prone yogi, I’ve more than once had to practice my class with spilled water pooling around my yoga mat. I’m always spilling things and making a mess despite my best efforts. Luckily, the Hydroflask has been a game changer and I finally can stop worrying about my water intake during class. There’s a few models available, but I like the wide-mouth version that can hold hot or cold drinks. I can go from keeping my coffee warm in the morning to enjoying super-cold water during afternoon yoga sessions all with the same container. Retail: Varies, international shipping. 21 oz. Standard mouth flask, £23.95.
HelloFresh Food Box
Being active is only half the battle when it comes to feeling good you need to give a little more attention to what you also put into your body is just as important. I’m not going to give up my fish and chips anytime soon, but during the week my husband and I are challenging ourselves to eat with fresh produce, less processed foods and in correct portion sizes. Nothing fancy, just a little awareness.
Our HelloFresh subscription is taking all the guesswork out of healthy eating and eliminating the stream of “what do you want for dinner?!” inquiries. Hellofresh boxes come once a week and can be for couples (singles, you can freeze half the portions for later!) and families up to five. All the ingredients from spices to proteins are included pre-measured and ready for you to create an amazing, homecooked meal. I love not only the variety of incredible meals, but the ability to flex my culinary muscles and use their step-by-step recipes. There’s even a special box for vegetarians. I’m looking forward to the butternut squash risotto and South Asian chicken curry coming next week! Retail: £39.00 for a classic box for two people. Also available in the US.
Ok, now. If you’re easily scandalized, avert your eyes. But the rest of you, stay tuned, because this is something that can certainly make you feel good, but also can be great for your health. If you’re a subscription box lover like me but find getting mascara in the mail all the time a little boring, you can give the Unbound Box a try. They’re based in the US, ship to the UK and offer a quarterly shipment of surprises. So, what is it?! It’s a subscription for adult toys and items for the bedroom. Each quarterly box can be themed, but offers a variety of interesting accouterments for males, females and couples. Some treats can be somewhat tame, like gold-plated handcuffs (who doesn’t need a pair of those?), others can be a little more complex and voyeuristic, like pick-and-mix motors that fit snug into a variety of silicone attachments. But this can be an excuse to try some new things without breaking the bank. And, thank goodness, not having to go to one of those award stores in person that make you blush. We’re all grownups here, sex is nothing to be ashamed of, and the company also has a wonderful message about female empowerment – so important to celebrate these days! Retail: $65.00 per box, individual items in the shop vary.
Disconnected Vacations & Holidays
I travel for a living and realized this year – I don’t really know how to take a vacation! I’m constantly snapping my adventures, sharing them online and not really immersing in the magical moments. The last few trips I’ve taken for work and for fun (including Scotland in the coming weeks!) I’ve been trying to make sure I put the phone down as much as possible and just be present. Recently, my friend Jeanne was able to take on a challenge at the Element Hotel in Boston. They actually had her put all electronic devices in a safe at the front desk, so she could completely unplug for the whole weekend and relax. Sounds like heaven. Soon, the hotel will be offering this challenge to other guests for a chance to earn a free night at the hotel if you can truly disconnect. We all have a hard time getting away from work and responsibilities these days, so opportunities like this are invaluable for our well-being in a busy world.
On Running Shoes: Cloudsurfer
I still don’t run. Somehow I’ve managed to keep Corey-the-Marathon-Runner at bay all this time, but I think my resistance is futile. In fact, the other day she came back from a fun 5K run hosted by On Running shoes, a Swiss company that designs special sneakers that make you feel like you’re almost floating. And conveniently, she had an extra pair of the Cloudsurfer, you know, just for kicks. I spent all day in those babies and they really did feel amazingly light. They have a mesh design engineered to keep air circulating for breath-ability, and keep you propelling forward with unique sole sections. Granted I was strolling around Camden, but they are so comfortable I am very tempted to sign up for my first 5K too. Maybe. Retail: £125.00
Enter below to win some wonderful prizes from our fitness and wellness holiday gift guides!
One UK-based winner will receive:
- Red Bear Sports holiday jumper
- Kalenji Running Light, hydration pack and waterproof running trainers from Decathlon Sports
- TAPPED birch water