Self-Care & a New Leg Day Move in the Go Get It Guide

By , Alicia Capetillo, Editor-in-Chief 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!

Sweat: Curtsy Lunge With Glider

Variety in leg exercises has always seemed to elude me. No matter how often I try to incorporate new moves into leg day, I always find myself coming back to the basics: squats, lunges, more squats, more lunges.
Luckily, thanks to my addiction to Instagram fitness accounts, inspiration is usually just a quick scroll away. Such inspiration struck just the other day as I was clicking through Busy Philipps' Instagram story. I only just recently started following the actress—who starred in one of my all-time most favorite shows, "Freaks and Geeks," among other things—and, guys, she is a workhorse. She regularly posts snippets from her morning workouts, unafraid of the social world witnessing the beads of sweat dripping down her face. I applaud her and kind of want to grow up to be just like her.

Gushing aside, the snippets are typically nothing more than fitness inspiration to get my booty to the gym, but the other day she posted a curtsy lunge with a twist that I just had to try. I'm a big fan of the curtsy lunge for challenging balance and putting your glutes, quads and inner thighs to work. In her story, Philipps showed the curtsy lunge with the addition of a glider, which increases the challenge to a higher level, forcing your standing leg to put in extra work as your toe glides around to reach back before you drop your knees to lunge.

We have weighted gliders in the SparkPeople gym, which I used and I definitely felt the burn. If you don't have a glider in your home or regular gym, try using a paper plate on a carpeted floor, instead. Be sure to keep your toe in contact with the glider throughout the movement and aim for 10 to 12 reps on each leg to start. Next time you're looking for a little variation in your leg day, throw in a few of these and let me know how your legs feel the next day.

Shop: Under Armour Braided Headband

You know those wispy little hairs at the crown of your head that never seem to grow longer than two or three inches? I have a lot of those. They're annoying in general, but especially annoying when I'm sweating. They tickle my face and get in my eye and sometimes they get sweaty and stick out straight from my head which is not a good look for anyone.

I've tried a lot (I cannot stress "a lot" enough) of headbands to keep these little wispy buggers out of my face during workouts and the process is a lot like Goldilocks and her endless quest to find killer porridge. "This one is too loose." "This one is so tight it's squeezing my brain." "The rubber on this one started disintegrating after one use." And so on.

Until I found this Under Armour braided headband, which was just right.
Image courtesy of Amazon.

The added texture from the braiding is right up my alley and the logo isn't obnoxiously in your face, which is a bonus. I've worn this thing through the toughest HIIT workouts at Orangetheory Fitness, during two muddy obstacle races and in hot yoga classes. After two years of my rudimentary testing, I feel pretty confident stating that there is no way this headband will shift or slip off your head during your workout. It does not move thanks to a thin silicone strip, which also helps the headband to stay put without squeezing your temple and causing discomfort.
If you suffer from wispy-front-of-the-head-hair syndrome, too, or just need a headband that can handle your hair as you grow out bangs, this is a headband that has never let me down. Thanks, little guy.

Spark: Channeling Third-Grade Alicia

When I was in the third grade, my teacher Mrs. Wilhelm signed my yearbook. "I hardly recognize your face when it is not buried inside of a book," she wrote. I was the modern-day Matilda, a regular Rory Gilmore, yesterday's Hermione Granger—a kind of quiet, kind of nerdy kid with her nose always in a book. Yet somehow in the midst of aggressive assignments in high school, college and summer internships, reading turned on me—it became a chore. No longer did I feel the desire to dive into imagined worlds full of emotional drama and blissful scenarios. I slowly drifted away from reading as an escape and filled what little free time I had escaping in other ways, ways that wouldn't require me to open a book after reading, highlighting and taking notes on the 200 pages assigned that night.  

Since graduating, moving into the working world and doing most of my reading online these days, I noticed that my very full bookshelves were starting to give me a look. You know the one—the "You've been neglecting me. Why do you hate me?" look. Despite feeling like reading was always knocking me down, I continued to collect books (yes, I'm one of those "But the pages of a book just smell so good" people) and sometime late last year, I started to feel third-grade Alicia trying to fight her way back to the front of the stage.

Around the same time, stress from work and life had left me feeling run down. My body was running on a steady diet of takeout food and I had a to-do list so long that the only thing that felt right after the clock struck 6 p.m. was to hit the power button on my Roku and sink into the couch. So I made a change.

Knowing that I would want to turn off my brain at the end of the day, I made a deal with myself: Read for 30 minutes before turning on any technology at home or commit to reading for 30 minutes before going to bed. Thirty minutes felt like a short enough time that I couldn't make up any bogus excuses, but long enough that I could at least get through a chapter or two before moving on.

As with exercise, once I was in it, I found that I wanted to keep reading more often than not. Several nights, I started reading, got sucked into the whos and whats of this literary world and ended up crawling into bed with the book still attached to my hand. Half the battle in many things in life is just getting started, so pushing myself to be accountable every day was key in sticking to my goal. Third-grade Alicia would be proud.

Life is busier than ever it seems. We celebrate a culture of "busy" and it can be a struggle to keep up, especially if you're someone who has trouble saying "no" or identifies as a perfectionist. Finding small ways to stay sane, checking in with yourself and doing something that's just for you can be the difference between feeling burnt out and feeling whole. I find that the better I'm taking care of my mental health, the more likely I am to crave healthy habits like meal planning and exercise. There is something about one small self-improvement begetting another and then another and another.

We preach mindfulness in all things health, and it's just as important to practice mindfulness of the self. As we head into February (also known as the resolution crusher), it's important to remember that in the midst of taking care of your family or your deadlines or your errands, you can also schedule time out just for you. Even if it sometimes means locking yourself in the bathroom for some alone time, keeping those appointments and commitment to your self-care will not only benefit you on the road to weight loss, but it will also help you see the world in a brighter, happier light.

Will you make a 30-minute daily commitment to do something for yourself this month?