Monthly Archives: December 2014

Cheer All Year

Shingelton christmas

I’m not really a huge fan of Christmas.

No, I’m not an enemy of the Baby Jesus (quite the opposite, in fact), I just get tired of the hype, the pressure, and the focus on stuff! Buying presents! (Stuff). Throwing lights and kitschy decorations all over your house! (More stuff. And added clutter, which I dislike.) Weaving through enormous displays (of holiday stuff) at the store, when you’re trying to just get your regular daily life stuff.

I do decorate, because of the kids (stinking kids), and because I don’t want people to think I’m a total and complete Scrooge. (Those closest to me know it already, though…and I guess all of you do now, as well.) But it’s pretty minimal, and I’m generally happy to take it down.

We go and look at Christmas lights every year (again, stinking kids), and I always ooh and aahh appropriately when I go to the home of someone who goes balls-out in their holiday home decor, but I’m not kidding when I say that the Shingleton home (profiled in the current issue of Design Oklahoma) was a breath of fresh air to visit. No stuffy, formal Christmas decor, just fun.

I don’t judge those who love Christmas, and who love stuff (both the buying of it and the stringing of it around the house), and I think it’s wonderful when people are excited about a season, the way many folks are about Christmas. If you remember that things don’t generate cheer, and that people and relationships should be the primary focus behind a decor scheme, I think it’s totally possible to truly reflect your heart in your home’s trappings.

The Shingleton’s stuff does that, I believe.

Fitness Program Review (and Giveaway!): Nia Shanks’ Beautiful Badass Bodyweight Workout Guide


If the awesome title isn’t enough to make you want to try this program, let me give you another reason; it works.

Nia Shanks, the mind behind Lift Like a Girl, has simplified the search for bodyweight exercises that give you the most bang for your buck, physiologically speaking. (And at only $17.00, you’re also getting a financial bargain.)

The program consists of two parts; an 8 week strength building section, and a 14 week “Beautiful Bad Ass-ification” portion, designed to further develop the muscles you’ve grown. (Look here for a quick explanation of the difference between muscle strength and muscle hypertrophy, if you’re wondering why those are two separate subjects.)

It’s straightforward, clearly laid out (links are provided to YouTube videos showing variations of the exercises prescribed), and SIMPLE. (One of Nia’s trademark phrases is “Sane and Simple” and I for one, as a fortysomething homeschooling and work-at-home mom, need more of both of those in my life).

Nia is a well-educated and experienced personal trainer (take a peek at the About page on her website for full info), and she’s accessible; although she gets a ton of email, she makes a point of personally responding and interacting with those who contact her, in as reasonable an amount of time as possible. In addition to this program, she has several others which espouse the same common sense approach, and are just as reasonably priced. (You can browse her online bookstore here.)

Okay, so there’s the sales pitch, the basic overview–now here’s my personal review, the reasons I fell in love with this particular program…

1. Can’t get to the gym regularly.

I have a chin up bar across my laundry room doorway, and that’s all I’ve needed to do this workout easily at home. (There are several decently priced ones out there, but this is the one I have. Ignore the fact that the picture shows it drilled into a steel beam; it’s for standard doorways. It will also lower to a half position to allow you to do inverted rows, another standard in the program.) So, even when my children, God love them, are beleaguering me with descriptions of their achievements in whatever crazy video game they’re playing, or asking ridiculous questions like, “Are we going to eat dinner sometime soon?” and “Did you forget we have judo in ten minutes?”, I can get a workout in, amidst all the chaos. (Of course, if you have the means to leave your home and go to the gym to do this workout, then do so. And think of me while you’re there. Have some fun, thinking your own thoughts and actually concentrating on what you’re doing.)

A possible downside to this is that it’s also a great Excuse Remover. So…caveat emptor.

2. I don’t want to use weights.

Don’t get me wrong; it’s a good idea for women to strength train, and I don’t want to rain on the parade of anyone who has found lifting to be a fun, fulfilling way to do that. DO WHAT MAKES YOU FEEL GOOD. But if, like me, you have concerns about lifting heavy, or if it interferes with how you’re able to go about some of your other activities (it affected my running, in my case), then bodyweight exercises are a great alternative. Bodyweight stuff can also be a great way to ease into strength training, if you’re a newbie, or a way to dial it back, if you find yourself getting injured using weights. (It’s not foolproof, of course, but bodyweight exercises do tend to be self-limiting, and Nia’s program contains many variations to let you build up, gradually.)

3. I love the words “Beautiful” and “Badass”.

And she uses them both.

4. The strength gains I made have benefited me in more ways than one.

It’s nice to be able to carry all fifty of your grocery bags in at once. We’ve all seen the studies that talk about how strength training helps you, health-wise, and sure, once you get to the hypertrophy portion of the show, it’s cool to have visible muscles.

But by far, the biggest plus–and the reason I wanted to share my love for this program with you all–has been this; I’ve stopped needing to ice my knees after runs (I’ve actually upped my mileage, for the first time in ages) and jiu jitsu classes. I give the credit to skater squats (one of the knee friendly single leg squat variations Nia demonstrates).

It works.

So, I would like to give props to Nia, for creating this (and so many other) programs of awesomeness, and I would like to bless one of my wonderful readers with a free copy of The Beautiful Badass Bodyweight Workout Guide! Shoot me an email (see the Contact button at the top of the blog to do so), and let me know you want it!

(Everyone who doesn’t get the free copy is encouraged to scuttle over to the Lift Like a Girl Bookstore and buy one. Or look through Nia’s other offerings, and find something that fits your specific needs, if bodyweight ain’t yo thang. Her awesomeness has many forms.)

(***UPDATE***…The free copy has been awarded.)