Summer Abs...

Carrying a baby during pregnancy really takes a toll on your body as a whole, but mostly on your core! It took me FOREVER to feel like I had my core strength back and it's still a work in progress. Holding a 1-minute plank is still a real challenge but I'm almost there! (45-seconds and working my way up :) I've been trying to focus on taking time a little time out of every day to work my abs, and with summer just around the corner - I have to be extra diligent ;) 

When London goes down for her nap I take 10 minutes right away to do some ab exercises. I start with a plank and end with a plank - usually the last one I try to hold as long as I can which ends up being (almost) a minute. When I feel like I'm not maintaining the proper technique any longer, I stop the time. There is a "Core" class at my gym, Healthworks that I've taken which I really love and I also think practicing yoga regularly is SO good to help maintain core strength! 

Here are some exercises that I do in addition to the planks...

- 25 Bicycles Crunches (see photo below)

- 25 butterfly crunches: sit on the floor with your legs in the "butterfly stretch" then lay back, keeping your legs in the same position. This is your starting point. Now crunch 25 times with your hands behind your head - keeping your shoulders off the floor.

- 25 Toe-touch crunch: (See photo below) Lie on your back with your legs straight up in the air (legs pointed toward the ceiling); arms straight and pulse up 25 times, trying to touch your toes.

- 25 Flutter Kicks: Lie on your back with legs extended and arms at your side or underneath your bum. Lift your legs 6(ish) inches of the floor and scissor your legs up and down. Make sure to press your lower back into the floor - you do not want it to lift off the ground.

                                                                     Bicycle Crunch

                                                                     Bicycle Crunch

                                                                  Toe-Touch Crunch

                                                                  Toe-Touch Crunch

What are some of your favorite ab exercises?! 

xx, Ashley

#SundayFunday Workout...

We've had such great weather this weekend and today, even though it's a bit chilly, I thought it would be fun to get a workout in outside! Lo likes to go for walks (as long as I pack snacks), so I decided to do a run/walk workout and mix in a few exercises along the way! 

If you'd like to try it, here's what we did...

- Run / Walk for 1 mile

- 15 push ups

- 20 lunges (each leg)

- 25 bicycle crunches

- 25 standing squats

- Run / Walk for 1 mile

- Repeat above exercises

I've done this workout before and it's pretty challenging! Plus, London found it pretty entertaining when I did all of the different moves in between. You can always pack a different snack for each stop too :) ... that seems to help too! 

Also, if you live in the Boston area and you're interested in trying in new challenge leading into summer, my gym is starting the "Better Body Challenge" in a few days! It's an 8-week program with weekly workout and nutrition tips! You can choose to be your own coach or have a trainer guide you through! You can learn more about it here

Have a great Sunday!

xx,

Ashley 

My Definition of Being Fit + Healthy....

 

If you were to ask my definition of being fit and healthy just a few years ago, my answer would have been super different. My "pre-baby" self would have neglected to touch upon being fit mentally and just how important that is to one's overall well being. I would have talked mostly about the physical aspects such as exercise, stamina, weight-training - but left out how critical it is to practice self-care. It's SO difficult to make time for myself without feeling mega-guilty, but in the past two years, I've realized that it's critical to survival. Dramatic? Not really. If I don't make time for myself, I get overwhelmed and feel a bit suffocated a.k.a. I end up freaking out and it's really not good for anyone ;) ...At first I thought there was something wrong with me, but then I realized that it's completely normal and all a part of life. Do I still think exercising is important? Sure I do, but my life has evolved and so staying mentally and emotionally "fit" is just as important to me. 

So...I'd say that my definition of being fit and healthy is really feeling like I have a sense of balance in my life; physically, mentally and emotionally. Taking time for myself, even though it's difficult, is definitely a big part of keeping me "fit" mentally and emotionally. Setting attainable fitness goals and getting to the gym at least three times a week helps me stay focused without feeling overwhelmed. I used to be REALLY hard on myself...I never took many days off from working out and held a pretty strict diet. Nowadays, it's just not feasible to get to the gym 6 days a week so I set my goal for three and that usually works out. I'm definitely more laid back when it comes to my diet ... mostly because I don't want London to be a stress ball when it comes to food (as I've been in the past, thanks for pageant life!) Plus, it's pretty freaking fun to stop at Starbucks for a treat with Lo, so I just do it. Life's to short to stress about eating a scone (or two!) ;) 

I wanted to share a few ways that I practice self-care. I wish these things happened more on a regular basis, but such is life. Things come up, kids get sick, demands are hight ... so you just roll with it and squeeze things in when you can, or if you're like me, when you feel like you're near the verge of a breakdown ;) ...Kidding (kind of). 

fit2.jpg

1. Find a gym. If you don't feel like working out, go anyway. Sit in the whirlpool, take a nice long shower, do your makeup and just relax. Sometimes all you need is an hour to yourself to feel refreshed for the day! (I've linked my gym here for all of my Boston ladies!)

2. Book a massage. This is HEAVEN, am I right? Try to schedule this once a month. It's something to look forward too and trust me, your body will thank you!

3. Grab coffee with a girlfriend. Hit up your local coffee shop, secure a spot in the corner and gab away! It's really cheap therapy :)

4. Treat yourself to a mani/pedi. This is one I haven't done in awhile and I'm definitely due! It's so relaxing and somehow I feel like I've got all of my "ish" together when I have my nails done ;) 

5. Practice yoga. It's good for you; mind, body, and soul. Flow through this practice to soothing music and a calm atmosphere. Hello heaven!

What are some ways that you guys practice self care?

xx, Ashley 

Fit Friday: Squat Challenge...

 
Photo: Popsugar.com

Photo: Popsugar.com

 

I don't know about you, but with the warm weather creeping up on us I've been more motivated than ever to whip my body into swimsuit shape! We are actually in Florida right now, and while I don't feel totally where I want to be ("swimsuit body" wise), when I return to Boston there's still time to get there. I've been focusing on my legs and glutes more than anything else, and wanted to share a few "squat challenges" you could try if you're in the same mind frame as I am! 

Sometimes, a simple challenge like this can give you a little kick start and push you even further toward your goals. If you recruit a friend to accept the challenge with you, it could hold you accountable but may also be fun too! 

Popsugar posted a really good squat challenge that incorporates 5 different varieties of exercises. It's four weeks long and guarantees you'll notice a difference! *A few tips for you ... shift your weight back in your heels and wiggle your toes - this will target your butt and hamstrings. Also, by varying your stances (ex: sumo squats) you can better target your inner and outer thighs. If you want to make this even more challenging ... grab a pair of dumbbells and hold them at your sides or rest them on your shoulders. 

If you like this idea, but are looking to try it a different way, Healthworks posted their own squat challenge and you can find the details on that here

I hope you all have a great weekend! Thanks for stopping by :) 

xx,  Ashley 

Living an Active Life + Chicken Orzo Soup Recipe...

 
Photo credit: Kivalo Photography

Photo credit: Kivalo Photography

Happy Weekend! Can you guys believe we are over halfway through March already? Bring on spring! I am so ready for warmer weather and to spend more time outside with my baby girl!

You all know how much I like to hit the gym and work out. It makes me feel SO much better and gives me that good feeling energy to start the day out on the right foot! I think it's super important to find a home gym that motivates you and makes you feel comfortable and welcome! If you can find a workout buddy, even better! Before becoming a mom I used to have a lot more spare time to spend working out, so on days when I can't make it to the gym, I like to get creative.

There are a few small things you can do throughout your day to make a little difference...

Take the stairs. At my gym, I have to go up three flights of stairs just to get to the workout floor. I am ALWAYS tempted to hit up the elevator, but I just tell myself that it's my "warm-up." :) Park in the spot furthest away. I know, I know...what a hassle right? Parking lots can be GINORMOUS, but make a conscious effort to park far from the front door. It's something simple that can burn a few extra calories. Grab a girlfriend a.k.a accountability partner. Recruit a friend and motivate each other to do something active like a walk or hike. Lolo and I are officially "mall walkers" nowadays :) During the cold winter months, we head to the mall and I let Lo run around for an hour or so to burn off some energy. Chasing her is a great workout! If you need a little boost to get your butt into gear, sometimes making a new "activewear" purchase is all it takes. I always feel better when I've got some cute gear to rock to the gym or on an errand! Check out some of my favorite athleisure / activewear picks here

I've also gotten a few questions about the chicken + orzo soup that I put on my Instagram story, so I wanted to share it with you all. It's SO incredibly easy. Anytime I can use my slow cooker, I'm a happy girl! I think you'll enjoy it, so give it a try! 

EASY Chicken + Orzo Crockpot Soup

Photo cred: Delish.com

Photo cred: Delish.com

  • 1 - 1.5 lbs chicken (I used boneless tenders)
  • 64 oz. chicken broth
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 package frozen peas + carrots
  • 1.5 tsp pepper
  • salt to taste
  • garlic to taste
  • 2 cups dried orzo

Directions: 

Add the chicken, broth, onion, peas + carrots (and any other veggies you'd like to use) to the slow cooker. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic. Cook on LOW for 3-4 hours (I did 3.5hrs). Stir in the orzo for the last 45 minutes - 1 hour. ENJOY! 

xx,  Ashley 

Fit Friday: Current Workout Routine...

 

Happy Friday! I'm so excited for the weekend and even more excited that my baby girl is FINALLY feeling better and (mostly) back to her sweet self! We are still dealing with those "not so sweet" toddler tantrums of course! (Rolling eyes). I've gotten a few messages and questions about what I do for workouts so I wanted to update you guys on my current routine! Keep in mind ... I wish it could stay this way from week to week, but mom life is pretty crazy so sometimes you have to adjust the routine a bit!

To start, one of the things I'm SO thankful for is that my gym, Healthworks offers amazing classes daily. Barre, spinning, yoga, body pump, dance, and much much more. Not to mention, Lolo really LOVES the Kids Club and it makes it even more motivating to get to the gym when she's asking to see all of her friends :) 

BK (before kids) my workouts consisted of a mixture of cardio and weights with more of a focus on cardio. Typically I would spend 1.5 hours at the gym Monday - Friday with a lighter workout on Saturday and Sundays off. Nowadays I honestly don't have that amount of time to work with. I tend to spend more time focusing on weight training because it seems that chasing a toddler around is all the cardio I need! Here is a peek into my current workout routine and what a typical week looks like...

Monday: 20 mins cardio // 10 mins - stairmaster & 10 min treadmill incline walk (5.0 - 10.0 incline at 4.0 pace) || LEG/BUTT DAY. You can find six "butt busting" moves that I incorporate into my workouts, here!

Tuesday: 20 mins cardio // 10 mins - stairmaster & 10 mins incline walk (5.0 - 10.0 incline at 4.0 pace) || ARM DAY. See some of my favorite exercises from Healthworks trainer Hannah Butera, here

Wednesday: Circuit workout at home (typically something similar to this) OR a 3-mile run (slow pace) & abs

Thursday: Same as Monday; sometimes I may just stick to the stair master or choose to do the treadmill for the full 20 minutes.

Friday: Usually similar to Tuesday. I like to pick 5-6 arm exercises to focus on // Abs 

Saturday: Barre or Yoga class. Some Saturdays I like to sneak in a 20-minute stair master workout prior to class, if I'm feeling extra motivated ;) 

Sunday: OFF for family time! We like to be active together though, so we typically go for a long stroller walk if the weather permits!

This tends to be what the week looks like and of course, it's subject to change! Some days I make little tweaks here and there - but overall, I try to focus on just staying active and doing SOMETHING. It always makes me feel better and starts the day off right! 

If you guys have any specific questions about my routine, leave it in the comments below!

xx,  Ashley 

Fit Friday: Share The Love...

 
Photo credit: Healthworksfitness.com

Photo credit: Healthworksfitness.com

Attention Boston ladies! 

My gym, Healthworks, is all about "sharing the love" this February! They're offering a bunch of special classes through the 14th that you can try for FREE! I signed up for a "Spa Yoga" class (which is now taking place on the 16th, thanks to the snowstorm!) ... but it sounds like a dream! Flow through power yoga then finish with the certified massage therapists? Umm yes ... you can sign up here, but it's filling up fast! 

If you're already a member at Healthworks and you want to bring a friend to a class, have them sign up through the Eventbrite pages! There are locations in Back Bay, Cambridge, Chestnut Hill, and Coolidge Corner!

I hope you see you all there! What are you up to this weekend?! 

xx,  Ashley 

For The Mamas...

 

Happy Friday!

This afternoon we are taking London to the Little Lovage Club in the South End to see baby farm animals! I'm so excited because she LOVES animals so much + they'll have baby pigs, goats, chickens, and more all for the kids to pet! I'll make sure to share on my Instagram stories so make sure to check in later this afternoon ;) 

I'm SO happy the weekend is here! My sister and brother-in-law are spending tomorrow with us and my husband has Sunday off (YAY!) I'm excited to relax and have some time together as a family. I do plan to hit the gym in the morning to start the weekend off right! I've been reminiscing about the early days with London a bit, and how difficult it seemed to find the energy to do anything, let alone workout! I came across this "Mommy and Baby" workout posted on the Healthworks site and I thought it would be great to share with you all! Even if your baby isn't an infant - you can try to do some of this with your toddler at home! It's a 15-minute workout from Phyl London that was voted Top 10 on YouTube. Definitely worth a peek! If you CAN make it to the gym this weekend and you missed last week's "Fit Friday" I shared a killer arm workout from Healthworks trainer Hannah Butera! You can find it here!

Also, check out some of my favorite activewear pieces below :) 

What do you all have planned this weekend?! 

xx,  Ashley 

 

 

Fit Friday: Resolutions...

 

Let's face it, we've all got a few things we could stand to change in 2017. Personally, I've got a longgg list going but I'll spare you the gory details (you're welcome), and share one thing that's definitely a priority heading into the New Year; my health. I've let a few things slide over the past 12 months, always pushing the blame onto #momlife, but the truth is, I just wanted (and needed) to cut myself some slack. Becoming a mom is a MAJOR life change and 2016 was consumed with trying to find some type of harmony between wife life, mom life and blogger life.

As we enter the New Year, I'm making health and wellness a priority again and you can join me :) 

 

Here are 6 resolutions that are totally manageable and achievable...

1. Start each day with breakfast. I absolutely LOVE breakfast, but since becoming a mom I'm so focused on getting London fed that I've settled on eating her leftovers. I notice a HUGE difference on days when I actually eat a well-balanced meal in the morning. I have more energy and I'm in a better mood! My go-to breakfast is oatmeal with berries and walnuts, a wheat english muffin, a glass of water and cup of coffee. 

2. Hit the gym at least three times per week. It pains me to write just three days a week, but I'm trying to be realistic with my goals. Six days a week just isn't feasible for my lifestyle anymore. I'd be happy to get to the gym for three solid workouts and mix in one at-home workout on the fourth day. (Here is a great cardio circuit workout you can try at home!)

3. Choose a focus area to work on. I'm all about the booty boost in 2017! No one likes a "mom butt" so my derriere is going to be the body part I focus on this coming year. *Stay tuned for more butt-busting workouts like this one I did a few weeks back!  

4. Try for 8 hours of sleep per night. This is a tough one for me! I'm definitely a person who needs a lot of sleep to function, but it's not always possible with an 18-month old! While our daughter does sleep through the night (Amen!) my husband and I like to have down time and relax together once we put her to bed. My goal is to hit the hay by at least 10pm every night!

5. Recruit a friend a.k.a new workout partner. Accountability partners are a great thing to have in general, but can be SUPER helpful to achieve your health and fitness goals. Link up with a friend and keep each other motivated by trying new classes or workouts!

6. Treat yourself to some new gear. Every heard the phrase "look good, feel good?!" Well, no truer words have been spoken. I love to sport cute, matching activewear and it makes me excited (yes I said 'excited'...it's the little things) to actually visit the gym with new gear! Athleisure is a style all its own now so you can definitely look chic while you get your sweat on! 

 

Shop some cute activewear here:

Favorite sneakers...

xx,  Ashley 

"The Athlete" Holiday Gift Guide...

Making this gift guide was SO fun yet such a tease considering I want pretty much EVERYTHING on the list! I'm a big "athleisure" fan and always feel better going to workout with fresh gear. This gift guide is for the "gym lover" in your life ... think sneakers, leggings, gym bags, tank tops, and even water bottles! I've covered all the bases with this one and you can shop my favorite things below!

Also, if you missed my "homebody" gift guide (lots of cozy things!), you can see that here along with holiday style picks, beauty gifts, stocking stuffers for her, and cold weather/Christmas essentials

xx,  Ashley 

Happy SIX Months SGL! : Why I Started Blogging...

Happy 1/2 Birthday to Style Grace + Lace! 

Six months ago today, I launched my lifestyle, fashion, and motherhood blog in search of a new hobby and a way to express some creativity. Of course, I have a love for writing, which seems should be a given when you're a "blogger," but for me, starting this blog was almost a cathartic release. I was a new(ish) stay-at-home mom to an 8-month old baby girl, struggling to find an outlet. I was sitting on my couch in early February; London was napping her first (of three) naps for the day, and I was basically binge watching Teen Mom OG (don't judge!). I remember feeling really down and kind of (for lack of a better word) defeated. I cherished the quality time that I got with Lo and we had established our own little routine, but I found myself worn out from the monotony of everyday life. I knew I needed to get out of the funk I was in + use what down time I did have to do something positive and productive. 

Enter SGL. 

In many ways, this little space on the internet saved me. I am able to express my love for style, fashion, travel and fitness all while sharing my journey and joy in being a mom. My passion for writing is stronger than ever, and I can honestly say that it has made me happier and in turn, a better wife + mom. The beauty of this whole blogging world is that there's SO much to learn and while I'm still learning everyday, SGL continues to provide me with some pretty cool opportunities and has allowed me to meet and collaborate with incredible people. 

I want to say a massive THANK YOU to everyone who has supported my journey with Style Grace + Lace. I'm so appreciative of every single reader + I hope to bring you many more months of lifestyle + motherhood goodness :)

xx,

Ashley