3 of Our Most Favorite Things This Month

By , Alicia Capetillo, Editor SparkPeople
Every month The Go Get It Guide is your destination for motivation, musings on random goals and probably pop culture references. It's a space where we'll sort through the PR pitches and news, then share our honest thoughts on what's happening in the health and fitness world, what's on the horizon and just what we think of that video the internet obsessed over last week. Check in each month to Spark, Sweat, Smile, Savor and Shop with us!

Shop: A Challenge a Day Keeps the Boredom Away

Unless you're a loud and proud creature of habit, finding new ways to exercise your body and challenge your muscles every day can be exhausting. Scrolling through an endless feed on Pinterest or doing a million Google searches with variations of "great abs moves" or "killer leg circuit" day after day, week after week, is enough to crush the spirit of even the most tenacious workout warrior.

Not to sound like a broken record, but a major part of sticking to an exercise routine is keeping things interesting and exciting. If you're going to get bored going to the same spin class with the same instructor every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, you're going to get really good at coming up with excuses for skipping out (not that I'm speaking from personal experience or anything).
Which is why many people love participating in fitness or nutrition challenges (yes, us too!). Challenges offer an opportunity to leave the creativity to someone else, while opening yourself up to seeing what your body and mind are capable of doing over the course of a week, 30, 60 or 90 days. Signing on to a challenge is like signing a contract with yourself: I, the undersigned, promise to push myself to be open to the new, embrace the seemingly impossible and welcome the unfamiliar with arms wide open for the next X days. With a finish line in sight at all times, many find that their competitive spirit comes alive during the course of a challenge, as they push themselves to stick to the promise they made way back on day one, thus ensuring eventual success. Challenges are great for beginners, but I also love throwing one in every so often as an added reminder to keep changing up my routine.

While there are plenty of challenges available online (see: here), I recently came across DOIY's 30-Day Challenge cube, which takes the concept of a Kleenex box and turns it into your personal accountability buddy. With the holidays fast approaching, my first thought was that this would be a perfect gift for a game of Dirty Santa or a random gift exchange. As a physical object—not a piece of paper you can fold and pretend you lost or a phone app you conveniently forget to open every day—this baby can sit right on your desk taunting you all day. With its adorable colors and fun font choices, the challenge is as aesthetically appealing as it is sweat inducing, so win-win there.

Photo courtesy of DOIY Design

Each day you'll pull a new challenge down from the roll and get your task. Based on the preview, I'm not going to lie, some of these sound like a doozy. But remember, this is your challenge and your workout so if you happen to pull the "80 abs, 80 squats and 20 pushups" challenge, break down your abs and squats work throughout the day and opt for wall pushups instead if your shoulder screams when you do a full pushup. The crafty among us could probably even DIY their own similar cube with exercises they love, too.
In the end, using the cube to add a new daily challenge first thing every morning or during your lunch hour is a great way to ensure that no matter what meetings, errands, emergency best friend phone calls or toddler tantrums occur during the day, you'll at least be able to carve out time for that one workout. With the holidays and cookies and pies and all that hot cocoa coming up, we could all use something extra to help us stay focused this time of year, right?

Spark: Fall Down Once, Get Up Twice

One of my favorite movie quotes of all time comes from one of the greatest movies of all time: "A League of Their Own." As Dottie, the team's most talented player, announces that she's leaving the league to move home with her husband, the team's resident alcoholic-slash-team-manager-slash-big-old-softie Jimmy Dugan chastises her for complaining that the sport and competition had just gotten "too hard." And he says:


"The hard is what makes it great." I've called upon this quote in times of struggle, be it in life or during a particularly brutal squats circuit (thanks, last Wednesday's Orangetheory class), as a reminder that no matter what, there's a reason you started on this journey and no matter what, all the sweat, tears, angry outbursts, frustration and hard work is going to ultimately lead to something great.

Fittingly, one of our top Instagram posts from October echoes the sentiment, reminding us that the battles we fight may be difficult, they may knock us down, they may make us doubt ourselves and want to quit, but fighting through all of that is the ultimate victory. Proving to yourself that you're capable of more than you thought, that your brain is just as strong as your body and that you can conquer any obstacle life throws in your path, well, there's nothing quite like it.


A post shared by SparkPeople (@sparkpeople) on

Along the journey to weight loss or your fitness goals, you might sometimes feel like you're fighting the same battle over and over again. In those moments, remember that those are just battles and the struggles make the finish line that much sweeter and that much more satisfying. As we approach the holiday season, remind yourself that no battle is bigger than your determination so it's okay if you need to dust yourself off after feeling defeated here or there—just don't quit.

Sweat: The Sweatiest Post I Will Ever Write

Earlier this month my mother convinced me to sign up for a hot yoga studio. I've been to hot yoga and Bikram studios before and, despite specifically remember being in a forward fold and marveling at how I never knew there were sweat glands on my shins and swearing this was the grossest I had ever been or would ever be and how I'd never subject myself to anything like it again, here we are.

For the unfamiliar, hot yoga classes are taught in a room heated up to anywhere between 85 and 105 degrees Fahrenheit. So, yeah, it is really, really hot and so, so humid. And unless you're like the girl in front of me wearing long leggings and a sweatshirt who barely had a light shimmer of sweat on her temple by the end of the hour class, you'll probably sweat. If you're like me, you'll sweat a lot. At a certain point, you just have to decide to be cool with creating new puddles of sweat on the mat or the floor in front of you every time you invert to a downward-facing dog, intermittently shaking your head to avoid beads of sweat burning your eyes or going up your nose.

Having learned how to deal with the grossness of becoming a human sweat monster, the one thing that always tripped me up in yoga classes in the past was my yoga mat turning into a slip-n-slide approximately 30 minutes into class time, forcing me to fall out of poses as I try to readjust my grip over and over again. I tried beach towels in the past but found them to be suffocating whenever we moved to any kind of sitting pose. Sticky mats that promised grip were no match for my damp palms either.

Enter the Manduka eQua hand towel. Like many things in my closet, I can't remember how I came by the towel, but I'm guessing it was a stocking stuffer or random discount rack purchase from years past. Regardless, this little towel has helped me save sweaty face at my new studio. As a yogi favorite brand, Manduka clearly knew what it was doing when it created this handy little towel.

Photo courtesy of Manduka.

Soft to the touch and super lightweight, you'd never guess the absorbing power by looking at it. I start each class with the towel at the top of my mat and, guys, this thing does not budge. I mean, not a centimeter. It's like the towel looks at you and says, "Really? Is that all you've got?" and then you need to press your sweaty foot more into the floor in your Warrior II just to prove it wrong but you can't because it's that sticky.

It's also that absorbent. I first noticed its absorbency while in a chaturanga flow. Coming down from plank, I noticed one bead, then two and four more beads of sweat fall from my face. Each bounced off the mat, settled as a small droplet and disappeared into the fabrics of the towel before I rose up to upward-facing dog. Magic? Witchcraft? I'm not sure, but it's awesome and I haven't found another towel that rivals its absorbency power. Not having to worry about slipping in a puddle of my own sweat and falling on my sweaty face is a comfort and a gift, so thank you hand towel. Thank you very much.

What is your all-time, most-adored favorite piece of fitness gear?