Get Fit For Free

When you’re like me and you live in a small town, you can’t just drop everything and go to the gym… The closest gym to me is at least 45 minutes away, and gyms are expensive. When I began to realize that a gym wasn’t going to be my solution, I began to turn to exercise videos. They work for some people, but I honestly cannot bring myself to put a dvd in the Playstation every morning. Also, I realized that I got bored with the same routine, and was spending hundreds of dollars on dvds and random pieces of equipment that I was buying online or in a department store. And I wasn’t really using any of it. So, I decided that from now on if I wanted to get fit, I was going to get fit for free.

excuses dont burn calories get fit for free

My birthday this year was a sort of turnaround for me. I realized that some major changes needed to happen, so that’s when I decided to start walking. Yes, walking. While you need good shoes, walking doesn’t require the most expensive shoes, and you probably, most likely, already have a good pair of shoes in your wardrobe anyhow, so it is definitely a way to get fit for free. Now, there are MILLIONS of articles out about how walking is good for you, but there is one in particular that I LOVE that will tell you how to get the most effective calorie burn while walking… Find it here.

If you’ve been around for a while, you already know that I love 30 day fitness challenges… The key to it though is to pick one or two and to really stick with them. I always start mine on the first of the month, that way I never get confused about what day I am on. I love the website that I linked because:

  1. You can get fit for free
  2. They have handy printouts
  3. They’ve already done the homework for you
  4. They include rest days
  5. Other people have reviewed these challenges, so you know if they’re worth your time.

There are literally hundreds of ways to get fit for free, and I promise you, we’re going to start discussing them here. My favorite is running, as you can imagine, but I am also looking now at some upper body exercises as well, so stay tuned as I start going over those with you.

Also, I cannot stress enough, document your fitness. I have started keeping a fat loss journal, that I write down what I eat daily, as well as how I’ve exercised, and twice a month I measure so that I can SEE the difference in my body instead of getting frustrated with a number on a scale.

The greatest thing to do when you’re trying to get fit for free is to find a workout buddy or an accountability partner that will help keep you on track. I have a friend that I walk with in the mornings, and if it weren’t for her, sometimes I’d be lazy and stay in bed. I also have a friend, my marathon buddy, who messages me several times a day to check in and see how many steps I’ve taken, how many miles I’ve ran, and sometimes what I’m eating… We keep each other on track, which is really important.

Talk to you all soon… And I hope you will all join me on a journey to get fit for free!


Running Buddy?

Since beginning my official quest to get in better shape (i.e. when I got my Fitbit) I have been very lucky to have an amazing group that keeps me accountable. I even have my very own accountability partner who keeps me motivated every single day, whether I want to get out and get moving or not. He’s such a good motivator that he convinced me to go along with his crazy plan of signing up for a marathon this year… A thing I am still a little scared of, but training my heart out for. What I have never had though, is a running buddy. I have no friends in the area who run, so I am always out there alone. And, it sucks to not have a running buddy… There’s no one there to tell you to keep going, there’s no one there to hold you accountable, you just have to do it on your own.

strive for progress not perfection running buddy

Let’s Find A Running Buddy

Thankfully, I found several good running groups on Facebook, and started adding friends, just to keep motivated when I saw their running posts in my newsfeed, and to be able to turn to them for advice. I found myself with quite a few running buddies online. Thank God, because it is so easy to lose steam and motivation, and I did not want that to happen.

One day, I saw one of my Facebook running buddies posting about some places and races that were near me, and about a marathon she signed up for that was the same day as mine. I don’t know why I had never checked out her profile before (maybe I was just lazy?) but I went and snooped. I was so excited to see that she lives in a city that is about 45 minutes from me. Could this be my new running buddy? I messaged her. Mostly about her training plan, and casually mentioned (or begged) her to be my running buddy for long runs one day a week, unless she already had a running buddy, in which case I completely understood.

This beautiful sweet woman wrote me back, I think just as excited as me, and asked me when I wanted to start running with her. We will start this Sunday… I could not possible be more excited. She is way more prepared than I am, she has a hydration plan, and she even has a coach that tells her how far to run (unlike my training plan that I found online).

I can’t wait to spend the next four months training with my new running buddy… I hope we kick each other’s asses every week until this marathon seems like a piece of cake. More than anything, I hope that we can learn from each other’s experiences… Lord knows, I have a lack of experience when it comes to long distance running.

I’ll have to update you next week on my first long run with her. Hopefully she doesn’t decide to kick me to the curb. :)


Week 26: Laundry Schedule

Even if your laundry room is organized, you’ve got another part of laundry organization to consider — how to collect the dirty clothes from all around your home and return them to their place once they’re clean.

That’s what we’ll be tackling in this week’s challenge.

(If you missed last week’s challenge about organizing the laundry room go ahead and read it too.)

The reason I separated this part of the challenge out into its own week is that I believe having a system in place for collecting dirty clothes and returning clean ones is THE MOST IMPORTANT step you can take to keeping your washing under control.

Here are the steps to take this week:

Are you new here? The Laundry Organization Challenge is part of the 52 Week Home Organization Challenge. (Click the link to learn how to join us for free for future and past challenges if you aren’t already a regular reader).

Step 1: Consider Where To Place Laundry Baskets Or Other Ways To Collect Dirty Clothes

The first step of the Laundry Organization Challenge is to strategically place laundry collection baskets, sorters, hampers and/or bags around your home in places where they’ll actually be used to collect dirty clothes.

This step may not seem that important until you consider that chances are, if you’ve got trouble with getting dirty clothes into the laundry cycle to get washed, dried and folded, you’ve got a collection problem on the front end of the process.

If you have not given much thought to where your baskets or other collection containers are located, but instead stuck them where they’d fit, or where you’ve always had them, this is the time to decide if you made good choices for theirlocation, or not.

Prime locations to place collection baskets include:

  • Bedrooms (since this is often where people undress)
  • Mudrooms (since people come in the door holding dirty clothes, or kids take off clothes here as they come in the house)
  • Bathrooms (but consider placing the collection basket right outside the room, because of the high humidity in the bathroom which can cause mildew and sour smells to develop)

honey do triple laundry sorter create a laundry scheduleConsider that for every basket, bag, sorter or hamper you put into place you’ve got to have a system for grabbing these clothes periodically (at least weekly) to wash. Therefore, the fewer the number of baskets you’ve got to keep track of the easier this task can be.

On the other hand, if you don’t have collection baskets where actually necessary in your home you’ll just end up picking dirty clothes up off the floor, as they mix with clean ones, getting everything confused. In addition, you’re less likely to regularly wash everything that should get washed since you’ll miss things.

Basically what I’m saying is don’t skimp on placing enough baskets around your home, but carefully make sure you’ll remember to deal with each one at least once per week if you put it there.

Step 2: Put A System In Place To Actually Collect Those Dirty Clothes & Sort Them

I’ve already hinted at Step 2 of the Laundry Organization Challenge above, which is to get your system in place for collecting the dirty clothes.

Now that you’ve strategized where in your home to place your baskets, place them there and begin training your family to put their dirty clothes into them and not on the floor, or wherever else you find them later.

In addition, consider the fact that not all clothes, bedding, towels, dish cloths, etc., can be washed together.

Therefore, to the extent that you sort your laundry (and with a good laundry organization system in place this shouldn’t be too hard to do) you may want to think about getting several baskets, bags, hampers, or my personal favorite, a laundry sorter, placed next to each other in those locations, to do two steps at once — collect and sort. That’s my favorite kind of multitasking!

I personally have a triple laundry sorter of the exact variety shown above, to the right, in my bedroom closet and both of my kids place their clothes in it each night as part of the bedtime routine.

white tilt out hamper create a laundry scheduleEven my youngest has been able to sort his clothes, roughly, by color, since she was about two years old, so trust me, you can train your family members to save you this step if you put in a bit of effort!

If you don’t have room for multiple bags and baskets in each location where you have a collection basket, don’t worry. Just make sure you’ve got a system in place for sorting these clothes from the baskets before washing them somewhere in your house.

For example, a good system in that instance would be to have three or four stackable laundry baskets placed in your laundry room, or to have a piece of furniture, such as the tilt out hamper seen above on the left which can be used to sort and hold laundry in the room while its waiting to be washed, and also doubles as a narrow folding table on top.

Step 3: Put System In Place To Put Clean Clothes Back Where They Belong Once Laundry Done

sterilite square plastic laundry basket create a laundry scheduleThe third step in the Laundry Organization Challenge is to put a system in place for returning the clean clothes from your laundry room to the rooms where the clean clothes are held (most likely individual bedrooms).

I’ve found the best way to do this is to have a rotating set of empty laundry baskets which can be used to carry clothes to the right location in your home, and then returned back to the laundry room afterward.

Here again, the main thing is not really the type of baskets or other method chosen to do this task. Instead, the important thing is the routine of doing this consistently, as laundry is finished, so clean clothes don’t pile up in the laundry room causing a back up or confusion about what is clean versus dirty.

Step 4: Consider These Laundry Organizers & Storage Solutions

There is an almost unimaginable variety of laundry organizers and storage solutions you can choose from when getting your laundry organized and under control. What works best for you really just depends on the layout of your home, your laundry and physical needs, and what you find attractive and useful.

If space is an issue for you, folding and pop up hampers, such as the ones shown below, can be very helpful. Further, consider using hanging space in your closet, or pull out stacking baskets to use vertical space for more laundry storage.

Further, if you would like to sort at the same time you collect dirty clothes divider hampers and laundry sorters, as well as thin tall laundry baskets designed to hook together to form a sorting system, can all be helpful.

If you want to collect laundry in an area of your home where having a big laundry basket may be inappropriate a tilt out laundry hamper (such as the one shown above), or pull out baskets hidden behind cabinets can be the way to go. This way you can still have the functionality of laundry collection, but camouflaged from view.

Finally, if your laundry room is on the same level of your home as where you’re collecting the dirty clothes, and you don’t want to pick up heavy baskets or bags of clothes, rolling baskets, carts and sorters can be very helpful for you (plus save your back).

Step 5: Create A Laundry Schedule Or Routine You Can Stick With

The final step in the Laundry Organization Challenge is to create a laundry schedule or routine that you can stick with. That can mean doing a load or two every day, or just doing laundry once or twice a week, consistently.

The key is consistency, and a plan to make sure you wash all the types of things you need to wash each week to make sure your family stays clean and comfortable most of the time.


26.2 Miles

fitness-motivation_clear-your-mind-of-cant 26.2 miles we can do this

I’ve done it. I signed up for the Rock ‘N Roll Marathon in Savannah, GA on November 7th of this year. I’m training. I’m getting ready. It’s 26.2 miles. I know I can do it. Especially if I have a reason to do it. I can do these 26.2 miles… I know I can. I’m nervous, but I can do these 26.2 miles, I promise.

They say to give you the strength to go on when running a marathon, you should dedicate each mile to someone. So here goes…

26.2 Miles

Mile number 1 goes to my sister who says “WHY?”, I say “Why not?”

Mile number 2 goes to my step-dad, who put up with me through some of the worst periods of my life (attitude wise).

Mile number 3 goes to my sister who is coming down to run the 5k the day after my marathon. If she can run the 5k for me, I can run this for her.

Mile number 4 is for my brother, who goads me into going the extra mile, one way or another.

Mile number 5 is for Payton, my niece.

Mile number 6 is for the sweet little girl down the road who thinks I am awesome because I run.

Mile number 7 is for my 7 year old, because I want him to be proud of me.

Mile number 8 is for everyone who says I can’t… I’m going to prove that I CAN!

Mile number 9 is for my nine year old, who thinks that I can do anything.

Mile number 10 is for a little girl I know who is about to be 10, and has never been able to run. Mile 10 is for everyone with cerebral palsy.

Mile number 11 is for every animal I’ve volunteered with at the humane society that never got a home.

Mile number 12 is for Tommy Hill, the preacher who made such a difference in my life.

Mile number 13 is for the ladies I know running the half, so happy for them!

Mile number 14 is for my best friend Katie, who I was 14 when I met.

Mile number 15 is for my mom, who only had 15 years with my daddy.

Mile number 16 is for my nephews, Walter, Samuel, and Nicholas…

Mile number 17 is for my younger self, who used to run at 17, but stopped after some stupid mistakes.

Mile number 18 is for my friend Irena… Hoping that maybe one day she’ll run with me too.

Mile number 19 is for my nephew Tony, the first baby I ever held!

Mile number 20 is for my friend Tracy, who comes out with me every evening, even if it’s just for a walk.

Mile number 21 is Mr. Al Pierce, my boss when I was 21, a really great man.

Mile number 22 is for my niece Alyssa, because if I can do this, so can she!

Mile number 23 is for my husband… Who I was 23 when I started dating.

Mile number 24 is for my friend Richard, who passed away way too early in his life.

Mile number 25 is for everyone who says “Why?” Because I can, and others can’t, that’s why.

Mile number 26 is for my daddy, who told me before that I could do anything I want to do

Mile 26.2 is for me!!!

Now that I’ve told you who my 26.2 miles are for, tell me who yours are for! 26.2 miles can seem a bit daunting, but I’ve been told if we break it down like this, it will make it a bit easier.


Week 25: Laundry Room

Laundry room organization is essential if you want to actually keep clean clothes in your home on a regular basis, and at least somewhat enjoy the process.

Let’s face it, whether we like doing laundry or not, the washing has to get done.

When you’ve got a cluttered up, unorganized laundry or utility room doing laundry can feel like the most miserable of chores. So, why not take the time to improve the room and your mood while doing laundry, all at the same time?

Normally, every week of the challenge we focus on a different area of the home, but the laundry process actually takes place in a couple of locations in the house, so we’re working on it for two weeks.

This week the focus is on the laundry room itself, and what you do with all the dirty clothes you’ve got, during the process of washing, drying, folding, and returning the clean clothes back to their proper place.

Next week we’ll focus on the spaces in your home where you gather dirty clothes, and sort them.

Are you new here? The Laundry Room Organization Challenge is part of the 52 Week Home Organization Challenge. (Click the link to learn how to join us for free for future and past challenges if you aren’t already a regular reader).

Before we begin the steps in the Laundry Room Organization Challenge, I wanted to address why everyone, whether you can do laundry in your home, or not, should work on at least parts of this challenge.

Whether you’ve got a large space devoted to doing laundry in your home, or just a corner of your basement or a closet in the hallway, if you’re lucky enough to have a washer and dryer in your home, you’ve got a laundry room.

Even if you must do your family’s laundry at a laundromat or elsewhere, you still will most likely deal with some laundry issues in your home that I’ll discuss below. Therefore, read this week’s challenge and see what you can work on now, and know that next week everyone will be involved in the second half of the challenge to get our laundry organized.

Step 1: Consider The Functions Of Your Laundry Room

The first step in the Laundry Room Organization Challenge is to think about the functions of your laundry room, to make sure you’ve got the equipment and supplies in the room that you need to accomplish those tasks and functions.

To a certain extent, considering the functions of this room are a no-brainer. Duh — you do laundry here.

However, first consider that there are several parts to the laundry process, so make sure you’re considering all the sub-functions this statement implies, including:

  • Space for major appliances of washer and dryer
  • Storage for laundry supplies
  • Area for pre-treating and soaking items, for stain removal
  • Drying area (for those clothes or other items that don’t go in the dryer)
  • Laundry folding; and
  • Ironing

Depending on the size of your laundry room, you might not be able to fit all these functions in here, but they all need to happen somewhere in your house, so during the challenge consider and make space for each of these functions somewhere in your home.

Further, when considering the additional functions that your laundry or utility room can play, first make sure it can fulfill its primary function for you — getting laundry cleaned. Only then can it also perform secondary functions, like storage for cleaning or bathroom supplies, or anything else.

Step 2: Declutter Your Laundry Room

Now that you’ve gotten clear, in your mind, on what the functions of your laundry room are, its time for the next step in the Laundry Room Organization Challenge -decluttering.

If you’ve fallen in a bad habit of using your laundry room to store random junk and clutter, but yet don’t have enough room to actually launder items in there easily, you’ve got to move stuff out that belongs elsewhere.

Prime items and areas to declutter from this room include:

  • In open spaces around room, including around and on top of the washer and dryer
  • Remove excess items from shelves and cabinets
  • Empty bottles of detergent or other laundry supplies, or those which have expired (did you know chlorine bleach expires within about 6 months, for example?). You can check out this article with instructions for how to dispose of laundry supplies while decluttering, which also provides additional information about common expiration dates for many of these products.
  • Clean clothes – the general rule (unless you have a family closet) is that they should not be stored in this room, since they’ll soon be confused with dirty ones just making more work for you when you rewash them over and over.
  • Stray socks where you haven’t found the match in more than three months!
  • Anything not serving one of the designated functions in the room, that should be placed elsewhere in your home.

Step 3: Organize Laundry Room Areas To Perform Functions Efficiently

Once you’ve cleared out all the stuff that doesn’t belong its time to set up and organize the stuff left in your laundry room so you can efficiently do the tasks required in this room.

We’re going to set up several stations or centers in the room, many with overlapping functions, to cover the activities listed below (remember, if you can’t fit one or more of these activities in your laundry room, make a place for it elsewhere in your home):

Laundry Supplies Storage

laundry storage drawers, between washerFirst, after decluttering unwanted products, gather up all the laundry supplies you’ve kept, and place them close to your washer and dryer.

Keep your supplies separated by type, and perhaps even place them in their order of use during the laundry process, such as laundry stain removers, then detergents, bleach and fabric softeners, for example.

I also suggest keeping a small sewing kit with your supplies to do minor clothing repairs before laundering an item.

One of the most common ways to organize these supplies is on shelves or in cabinets.

Common places to have laundry shelves or cabinets is above your washer and dryer, or on a wall close to them.

You may want to keep certain items together in a basket which is on the shelf, such as your stain removal kit and supplies. Further, many of these items may drip so it doesn’t hurt to keep even single items in dish pans or plastic tubs to prevent leaking.

If you don’t have room for shelves or cabinets, or still need additional room there are lots of ingenious storage solutions available, including:

  • Utilizing the storage space between your washer and dryer (as shown above, on the right)
  • Rolling laundry carts
  • Wall or door organizers
  • Organizers that hold supplies on the side of your washer or dryer
  • Washer or dryer pedestal which also acts as a storage drawer

Remember, if you’ve got young kids in your home, you need to be careful about safety when storing laundry supplies. While some of the suggested places to store items I’ve mentioned above may be convenient, if they are kid accessible you need to think of somewhere else to put them, such as on a high shelf, or a cabinet with safety latches.

Stain Removal And Soaking Area

Having a laundry sink is a big plus in your utility room, since you can hand wash certain items in it, as well as use it for soaking stained items.

Even if you don’t have a sink though, you may want to have a table with a small tub on it that you can fill with water and detergent, for soaking when needed.

Again, make sure wherever you place this tub is secure, when filled with water, for safety reasons.

In addition, I suggest everyone put a small stain removal chart in their laundry room to reference as needed.

Drying Area

Even though you may do some of your drying in the dryer (although I know all of you don’t), there are often other items that need to be dried in a different way.

It is helpful to have an area set up in your laundry room for a folding drying rack, such as the one shown on the right.

Other possible ways to dry items include on a retractable clothes line, or up on hangers, hanging from a tension rod, to allow items to drip dry.

Folding & Hanging Areas

After your clothes are clean and dry, they need to be folded and put away.

To make this job as easy as possible create a center in your laundry room where you can fold clothes.

All that is needed for this is a flat surface, such as a laundry folding table, or a counter at a height which is comfortable to stand at.

However, if you don’t have a counter, consider getting a thin table to place next to the wall in the room, or getting a counter that fits over top of your front-loading appliances (this obviously won’t work for top loaders).

Often, things don’t just need to be folded though, but instead hung up. Have hangers close to the dryer so you can hang things up as you pull them out of the dryer, to avoid as much ironing later.

Further, this same hanging area  can also be used for drying, or to hang clothes after they’ve been ironed.

The key to keeping this area organized is to move out the clean and/or pressed clothes once they are folded or hung up on a consistent and regular basis, and put them back where they belong.

Ironing Area

ironing board organizerFinally, you should have an ironing area, preferably in your laundry room. However, I understand that with small spaces such as many of these rooms, setting up a large ironing board can be too much.

If nothing else, store all your ironing supplies together, including the iron, ironing board, and any sizing or starch you use.

A handy place to keep these types of items out of the way, but still readily available for use, is on a less used wall, or behind the door (such as seen with this over-the-door iron holder on the right).

Step 4: Make Your Laundry Room Pretty & Inviting

laundry wall artThe final step in the Laundry Room Organization Challenge is to do a few things to pretty up the room.

Typically, I don’t focus too much on decorating, and don’t mention such a step in these Challenges. However, this is an exception because I’ve found that my willingness to do laundry consistently is greatly enhanced by a nice place to do the task.

Good lighting is important for your laundry room anyway, since it helps with stain removal.

In addition, a cheery coat of paint, some curtains on the windows, or cute lettering or pictures on the wall can all really make the room feel like a place you’d like to spend time, and make the task more pleasurable.