My Top 50 Favorite Songs to Workout to!

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I love having really upbeat music on my workout playlist. It helps me stay amped up and high-energy while I am moving! I shared in this post about the workout I’ve been doing the past few months which I am still loving. And even though I was longing for a pair of these Beats By Dre, I found the cheapest knock off ever in the dollar section at Target (they’re gone now, but the brand was Vivitar), and they have been doing the trick for me. So here’s the honest truth… when it comes to working out, I would be nothing without my playlist, ha! These songs keep me moving! I keep adding songs to this list, and oftentimes I will remove songs when they just don’t “do it” for me anymore. I love how on Spotify you can share songs and playlists and even follow others’ playlists!

Please keep in mind that some of these songs have explicit lyrics, so if you are young I would recommend searching for clean & edited versions - most of these versions are clean, because I like to keep things pretty PG here. But not every single song would be considered PG, so just use your discretion and friends, don’t leave this playlist on around your kids!

I love hearing about other songs that people like to work out to! Leave a comment with more recommendations if you have them! xx

DIY Cousin Relay Races!

This post is sponsored by Taste Nirvana. All opinions are my own.

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The weather has finally turned warm for good here in Georgia! We decided to celebrate this happy occasion in a big way by throwing together a little relay race for my boys and all their cousins. Or at least, the ones that live nearby! It was so much fun getting these kids together and introducing Everett to the concept of relays! Daxton, too, except he mostly toddled around and stared in awe at all his big cousins. It was hilarious and chaotic and exhilarating and all the kids went home exhausted (#momwin). And as a result, now I fear I've introduced the notion of competitive play that cannot be undone. Everett keeps asking how fast he is, over and over again...

I found a few relays online and I thought it would be fun to share! A series of relay races could make such a stupendous playtime activity, birthday party, or even summer holiday celebration! And the best part is that you probably have most of the supplies you need in your garage. A big shout out goes out to my sis-in-law Lauren - she came up with the idea to host a relay race and I just took the baton and ran with it ( ohhh see what I did there? I might be a mom but I can rock some Dad jokes.)

You probably know how to put on a relay race (anyone else having middle school flashbacks or is that just me...?), but in case you need a refresher, the premise is that you have at least two teams with an even number of players working together to complete a series of circuits. The team to finish first wins! I picked up some practice jerseys for the kids to wear and used cones to mark the starting and finish line for each team, but you could get away without using them! The fun of these relays is you can really use your imagination - the sillier the better in my book!


Relays:

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1. Egg Walk

Place a hard boiled egg on a spoon and walk (or run!) as quickly as possible to the finish line cone, walk around it and head back to your team as quickly as you came! *We actually used some wooden eggs that were leftover from an Easter project and they required no clean up!
Supplies Used: These wooden eggs and spoons

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2. Golf Ball Waiter

Place a golf ball on a frisbee (flipped over, so the golf ball stays within the lip but moves freely). Using only one hand, balance the frisbee like a waiter and run to the end of the relay and back again. Then tag the next person on your team - the race is finished when each person on your team has gone!
Supplies: Golf balls, frisbees

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3. Bat Spin

Position a bat at the end of the relay (I mark this spot with a cone). Run to the bat, put your forehead on the top, and spin around three times. Leaving the bat, run back to your team and tag the next person in!
Supplies Used: Bat (any kind will work, but shorter ones will work best for children - we also used a child-sized golf club which worked just fine.)

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Other Relays:

4. Kangaroo Hop
Place a bouncy ball in between your legs and hop to the finish line cone, and then hop back to your team mates!
Supplies: Bouncy Ball x2
 

5. Zig Zag Race
Place 10 cones in a zig zag formation. Run in between the cones until the end, then run back through the cones on the way back to the team.
Supplies: 20 cones, like these
 

6. 3-Legged Race
The classic relay! Tie the leg of one team member to the leg of another and work together to get to the end of the relay and back again.
Supplies: 2 bandanas (or other tying apparatus!)
 

7. Wheelbarrow Race
This two-person race requires one person to "walk" with their hands on the ground while the other person directs the human wheelbarrow by steering their legs (example here)
Supplies: none! (Other than brute strength)

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After the relay race, the kids refreshed and re-hydrated with coconut water, care of Taste Nirvana. Since I've partnered up with them this month, Taste Nirvana sent us some petite 10 oz. cans of the premium Coco Real coconut water beverage for the kids to enjoy as a post-relay treat. I'm a big fan of coconut water because it is loaded with potassium and electrolytes, making it the ideal post-workout recovery drink. This goes for everyone - adults and children! (Don't worry - there was enough coconut water for all the moms and dads to stay hydrated, too.) While I've been a coconut water drinker for years, I can truly say that Taste Nirvana tastes fresher than anything I've tried off of the grocery store shelf (I shared more about the yummy taste here.) All the cousins loved having such a special "grown-up" treat when they were finished with all that hard work, and after they devoured their coconut water they took to blowing bubbles and playing on the play ground.

Is it just me, or is this summer already shaping up to be the best ever?!

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My sweet god-daughter with two handfuls! One for now, one for later - gIrl after my own heart. ;)

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I can't get over Everett's genuinely precious smile. And of course, there is his brother, trailing just behind him and watching every move! Watching these two as siblings makes my mama heart soar.

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Lauren!!! She is full of all the good ideas, you guys.

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He's like, "I know how to blow bubbles mom."

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Aren't they the cutest in their little jerseys?

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My niece blowing her bubbles with that darling bow! I sent everyone home with bubbles because it just felt like the right way to welcome the season. Summer, you can come on over and stay a lonnnnng while!

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Sweet Daxton. His hands fumbled to hold his own can by himself, and although most of his coconut water ended up hydrating the grass, he was still super proud of being one of the big kids. I just love him to pieces.


Taste for Yourself!

Taste Nirvana is offering $6 off an Amazon order of the Original Real Coco coconut water, the Coco Pulp coconut water and the Coco Aloe coconut water using the coupon found here (the promo is automatically applied at check out). This code is good through 6/30 so make sure to snag some at this discount while you can! Even though I love the Aloe version and the Pulp version, my favorite is still the Original Real Coco because I honestly can't get past the fresh, honey taste. This is a stellar beverage to have on-hand to keep hydrated for all the outdoor activities that are looming on our summer calendar! Many thanks to Taste Nirvana for sponsoring this post; you can shop their yummy beverages here.

Happy Friday to you, friends! xx


Our Daily Family Essential Oil Routines.

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Essential Oils have become a big part of our family life over here. Almost two years ago I started using them here and there, and progressively discovered different ways I could incorporate them more and more. What began with purchasing a simple starter kit (to have on-hand for my labor and delivery with Daxton!) has grown into a full-blown lifestyle for our family and I am so grateful! I love having so many safe alternatives for allergies, viruses, anxiety, rest management, energy support, immune defense and more!

I've shared about oils here and there but I wanted to give you a specific outline of how and why my family uses essential oils throughout the day to support our health and wellness.

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Morning:

1. Diffuse in the AM!
I diffuse something every morning once I get my kiddos downstairs and begin our breakfast routine. I like to diffuse something bright and cheerful, like an energizing blend of citrus oils (Elevation and Citrus Bliss are some of my favorites!) Because of pollen season, I've been diffusing a equal blend of Peppermint, Lavender and Lemon (this trio is available here!) a lot lately. I have also been loving DoTERRA's Yoga Collection, which is composed of 3 killer good oils called Arise, Align & Anchor and these three are all so grand and make me feel super happy for the day.

2. Drink Up!
I also take this opportunity to add 1-2 drops of a citrus oil to my first glass of water in the morning. Why? Drinking water with citrus helps detoxify the body, ridding it of chemicals and helping to balance the pH levels. Lately I've been on a kick with Grapefruit oil, but I also love Lemon & Tangerine oils. They're all good!

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Afternoon:

3. Work Groove!
Once 2pm rolls around and my kids are down for their naps, I get busy! Haha, not that I wasn't busy with them before hand... ;) Believe me, there are days where I need to take a nap, because motherhood is exhausting  - and when I feel that I need it I take the time to rest! But most of the time, I use this block of time in the afternoon to get work done (like this blog post!), and I usually need a pick-me-up. At this point in the day, I usually brew up a mug of hot tea (lately I've been adding this Beauty Dust into it) and I roll on my go-to "get stuff done!" oil - Motivate! I love rolling this on my pulse points (wherever you would apply perfume), but I also have a diffuser necklace that has this oil in it, as well. That way I can smell it whenever I want! This oil just gives me the amplification I need to get my work groove on before I have to switch gears again into Mom-so-hard ;)

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4. Laundry Flip!
Usually right before my boys wake up from their nap, I try to flip a load of laundry. That's gotta get done at some point, right?!I learned a few years ago about how toxic dryer sheets are (I'm talking about the potential cause of migraines, asthma, allergies, rashes - the list goes on and on!) because of the chemicals in them. It's not a myth, simply google "are dryer sheets toxic" to find a slew of research on the subject. Gross! I prefer not to serve my children a chemical cocktail every time I bring their folded laundry into their bedrooms. So I use wool dryer balls instead (found on Amazon!), which are less expensive and a completely toxic-free way to fluff laundry. I like to add a few drops of my Lemon essential oil to my dryer balls so that my laundry has a fresh, clean scent.

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Nighttime:

5. Boys' Bedtime!
I like to use my essential oils to help my kids wind down at night and help get to sleep and stay asleep (can I get an amen, mamas?) I do this first by adding a drop of Lavender essential oil into their nighttime bath. This helps them calm down and get into a restful mode - more cuddly and sleepy and less, you know, about wrestling.

Next I make sure to diffuse Serenity in their bedrooms, which is a beautiful blend that has so many delicious sleepy-restful oils in it! I have little diffusers in all our bedrooms so we can all get the benefit of nighttime diffusion. I got several of these on Amazon and they have held up pretty darn well (plus, this diffuser has a color-changing nightlight, so it's a big hit with the boys!) I have noticed a marked difference when I diffuse this in my boys' rooms - they fall asleep easily and don't wake up. If you're a mom, I'm sure you've experienced your toddler coming out of their bedroom 10+ times a night "needing" water, "needing" to go to the potty, "needing" to snuggle (when they actually just want to see what you're watching on Netflix - or is this only my child??) When I remember to diffuse Serenity, this doesn't happen!

During story time we also roll something on their feet - usually a diluted rollerball of OnGuard or Serenity. OnGuard is an amazing immune-defense blend, so if it's flu season or if they simply have a runny nose, I like to roll this on the bottoms of their feet to prevent any sickness. Why the bottoms of the feet? The pores on the bottom of the feet are larger and allow for easy absorption of the oil into the system. Plus, when I put socks on their feet afterwards, I don't have to worry about them getting oil all over their hands (or bed!) I've made up some custom blends for my boys to address teething, flu and fevers - I shared about that here ;)
 

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Beware of ticklish toes! Everett howls with laughter so I usually try to distract Dax with a book while I put on his teething oil :) BTW these pics are blurry because this is real life - lighting in the evenings is not ideal! But I wanted to let you guys have a real-life picture of how this oil routine goes ;)

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6. Lights Out!
After the boys are in bed and Stevie and I have had dinner and relaxed a bit, it's time for lights out! I love to get something going in the diffuser while I'm getting ready for bed, so that when I actually settle in, the oil has had a few minutes to diffuse and fill the room with a comforting scent. My absolute favorites are Serenity, Forgive and Breathe. These oils smell SO good and are super relaxing. If I am super sleepy and really need to get some serious rest, I will pop a few of the Serenity supplements, which are a natural rest complex and let me just say - THEY WORK. You wake up feeling super rested and satisfied with your sleep!

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P.S. - I've been re-reading Pride & Prejudice as my pre-bedtime book and I miiiiiiiight have made a specific rollerball blend inspired by the book. It may or may not be called "Most Ardently" and it may or may not be so freaking good, you guys. Not to brag or anything but I like to think of it as the essence of Elizabeth Bennett. Okay, bookworm moment over.


Giveaway!

Let's have a giveaway, shall we? Gosh I love giving away presents to you people.

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Since I love you guys and such, I wanted to give you a chance to try out my laundry routine by gifting you a set of 6 wool dryer balls and a 15 ml bottle of DoTERRA Lemon essential oil! Hop on over to my Instagram to enter :)


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Do you have any questions about this daily routine with essential oils? Let me know in the comments how you use your oils or if you are willing to try something you read about here!


Ready for More?

Don't have any essential oils in your life and you're ready to give them a try? I can hook you up for 25% off the retail price! Send me an email at oykristen(at)gmail(dot)com OR click "Hook me up!" and follow these 3 easy steps:

1. Click the link below.
2. Select "Join & Save" for 25% off anytime with your wholesale membership.
3. Select Your Kit! I recommend the "Home Essentials" or "Family Essentials", because those have a lot of the oils I mentioned in this post ;)


Exercise Power Hour!

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The weather around here has been whack. It warmed up about a month ago, and then the temperatures decided to plummet back into the 30's like a big fat April Fools trick. It's almost Easter and I fear my grass shall never been green again.

So even though it's been stupid cold (sorry, my New England friends, but seriously, people live in the South to be able to enjoy spring temperatures when it's actually spring, which it is now, so I have no idea what's going on) - but, we've been going outside anyway. Every day after the boys wake up from their afternoon nap, sometime in the 4 o'clock hour, we high tail it outside and move our bodies. I've started calling this exercise power hour, because even though it's not exactly enjoyable temperatures (and my flowers haven't bloomed so there's no yard decor going on), it's still so important to move and play and get some fresh air. For their sanity and mine - cabin fever has gotten real around here these last few weeks and we all need the sunshine, even if it is still bathed in winter's chilly breath.

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I decided to start giving Everett some exercise pointers. I taught him how to do squats, lunges, push ups and planks. And since he loves to run, we sprint in between these sets and really get our blood pumping. And it's been SO much fun! Daxton just toddles around and watches us, but I actually picked him up the other day and squatted with him for extra weight and GOOD LORD. I could only do 3. That kid is hoss.

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My activewear was sent to me by Yandy.com and I chatted about the line over on 5 Minutes for Mom. Check out the post I wrote about why moms should never apologize for living in their activewear! Because for real you guys. It's my mom uniform.

Happy Friday to you, friends! xx

How to Identify Abdominal Separation After Pregnancy.

Hi friends! My fitness inspiration friend Kate from BeyondFit Mom is back with another awesome post-pregnancy post, this time focusing on the abs :) Since I am eager to get back to exercising again, I figure I'm not the only postpartum mom who is a little stumped about the "safe" way to return to a work out regimen. I'm grateful that Kate is here to share her tips about how to repair the abs after giving birth.


What is Diastasis Recti?
A diastasis recti is a separation of the abdominal muscles, what many refer to as the “six-pack” muscles. This separation occurs along the band of connective tissue that runs down the middle of the rectus abdominis. This band of tissue is called “the linea alba, but we’re going to refer to it as the “midline.”

Some degree of abdominal separation will always occur during pregnancy. This is because everyone’s core muscles have to expand to give room for the baby to grow! During pregnancy, separation occurs down the midline as a result of the force of the uterus pushing against the wall of the abdomen coupled with the influx of pregnancy hormones that soften connective tissue.

60% of pregnancies the abdominal separation will be wider than 2 – 2.5 finger widths apart and you will be considered to have diastasis recti. Diastasis recti can occur anytime in the last half of pregnancy, but most commonly occurs after pregnancy when the abdominal wall is lax and the thinner midline tissue no longer provides adequate support for the torso and internal organs.

A small amount of widening of the midline happens in all pregnancies and is normal. In many cases this abdominal separation, also known as diastasis recti, will heal naturally post birth with no medical intervention, however, for many, the tissue remains too wide. A midline separation of more than 2 to 2.5 finger-widths, or 2 centimeters, is considered problematic.

What’s the Problem with a Diastasis Recti?
A diastasis recti can lead to pelvic instability due to abdominal wall weakness. This instability can create a number of problems.

These include:
- Abdominal discomfort with certain movements, such as rolling over in bed, getting in/out of bed, and lifting heavy objects
- Umbilical hernia
- Pubic symphysis pain
- Sacroiliac joint pain
- Low back pain
- Pelvic floor dysfunctions, such as urinary, fecal and flatulence incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse

In addition, a diastasis recti can change the appearance of the abdomen. The skin may droop, and some patients may even develop an actual hernia through the midline.

Also, some moms may complain of continuing to look pregnant…. Even YEARS after having their baby.

How to know if you have Diastasis Recti...
1. Lay on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
2. Exhale and lift your head and shoulders off the floor – put one hand behind your head to support your neck.
3. Make sure you contract your rectus abdomens muscle – bring your rib cage closer to your hips, rather than just bringing up your head.
4. Place your fingers in a horizontal position across your belly button and feel above, over and below the belly button. Assess the width and depth of the gap. It is also relevant if there is a gap how firm or loose the sheath under the belly button feels.

Diastasis Recti Warning
The urge to return to traditional ab exercises like crunches, may be strong when you feel like you’re ready to workout again after having a baby, but if you have diastasis recti, you must be cautious about what time of abdominal exercises you return to.

Always be sure you’re engaging your transverse abdominal and be very wary of any ab exercises that increase the intra-abdominal pressure.

Intra-abdominal pressure is the real problem behind diastasis recti and the “mommy tummy”.

Pushing your body too far, or rushing into hardcore ab exercises could be doing more harm than it does good if you have diastasis recti.

Avoid: Any exercise that will cause your abdominal wall to bulge out upon exertion.

NOTE: If at any point through your workout you notice signs of core weakness, please consider a modification until the entire workout can be completed without any of the following:

- If you are straining from within your abdomen or pelvic floor during the exercise
- If you leak urine when doing any of the exercises
- If you notice pelvic or lower back pain during or after the exercise
- If you feel unstable in the core during the exercise
- If there is bulging or “coning” in your abdomen during the exercise

There you have it! Any questions you have or advice you can lend about your own experience with diastasis recti and postpartum fitness? I'd love to hear from you!

Many thanks to Kate for this one! You can follow her on instagram for fitness tips, encouragement and accountability :)

P.S. - Kate's 5 Fitness Tips for Postpartum Moms and the 5 Ways I Make Time for Exercise.