Just One Final Week... to Live...

#FreedomFebruary is coming to a close, and for the last week of February I want you to live it like you only have this one last week to live.

One day, everyday and someday soon, I hope that you wake up and live as if you only had one week left to live. You'd pay more attention to people you came into contact with throughout the day as if it was the last communication you would have with that person, or maybe even any person. You'd be caring & kind to others...and at the same time you'd hold nothing back. You'd be free of any fear, inhibition, embarrassment, & procrastination. You wouldn't even waste the time to contemplate if others were supposedly judging you, or that you weren't thin enough, pretty enough, smart enough...you would have had enough of wasting your time trying to be enough for everyone else so instead you'd start spending your time being present, in the now.

You wouldn't care what the weather forecast was and you wouldn't let it rule your mood for the day, because it was one of seven days you had left remaining. If it was raining, you'd take a long walk in the rain, without an umbrella, without a rain jacket. You'd delight in the sense of rain drops rolling down your face and the dewy refreshing smell & steamy humidity that a rainy day brings. You'd wake up early just to see the sunrise with all its glory and you'd make sure you were there to capture the last rays of the sunset before it dropped below the horizon. You'd hold all your friends and family close to your heart and cherish the time spent with each and every one. Take these words and apply them to your week.

Apply this mentality to every decision you need to make, in this upcoming week and going forward, and a whole new life will be presented to you that you never knew was there.

You can apply it to any question, like, "What workout will I do today?" Well, ask yourself, what kind of activities would I plan during my final week of life?

Here are a few of mine:

  • Hike to the top of the closest mountain or trail to watch the sunset over the hills
  • Very early in the morning, I'd Stand-Up Paddleboard out past the waves to the calmer waters and watch the sun as it creeps up from below the ocean's vista
  • I'd Fat Tire Bike the most beautiful, untouched beach until there was no one around except for nature, my dog, and my husband and I (and have an unforgettable picnic!)
  • I'd take my yoga practice to the sand dunes around the corner from my house, and start my yoga session so that it ends with the sunset

You see, once you apply this mentality, you will begin to build a life that is more connected to nature, connected to your loved ones, connected to any and all strangers, connected to the universe, connected to Divinity. A life in which you revel in everything that you have at your fingertips, everything standing right in front of you. Instead of facing life as if you don't have enough of this or that, you begin to realize that you had everything all along, you just weren't looking in the right place...

#DAILYMOTIVATION:

Some of us choose our path out of fear & disguise as practicality. What we really want seems impossibly out of reach and ridiculous to expect, so we never dare to ask the universe for it....

Lesson learned, you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love....

When you grow up you tend to get told that the world is the way that it is, and that you should live your life inside the world and try not to get into too much trouble, try to get an education, a job, a family... But life can be a lot broader than that when you realize one simple thing, and that is that everything around us, that which we call life, was made up by people that are NO smarter than you....
Find out what it is that you want and go after it as if your life depends on it...WHY? BECAUSE IT DOES.... There is no guarantee in life, well...there’s only one guarantee... if you don’t take action there will be no outcome at all, the only outcome will be that you didn’t achieve anything, you didn’t achieve what you want... a lot of people think that failure is a step backward. It’s not a step backward! Failure is a step forward in the right direction. EVERY time you fail, you learn something from it, you gain something from it, that’s PROGRESS in every sense of the word....
— - The Greatness Within, Les Brown

#BEACHBUM BUNS WORKOUT

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12 Genius Bike Accessories & Bonus Barbell Workout

For #FreedomFebruary, as you ponder how you'll incorporate exercising daily, I want you to think outside of the box, get out of your comfort zone and for God's sake...free yourself from the monotonous and mindless workout routines that just aren't healthy mentally or physically.

You are worthy and capable of an enjoyable "workout". Think back to your childhood. When you were a wee little one, you didn't need to "workout" because you were already running around, playing outside, climbing trees, biking down the street to a friend's house, playing tag or basketball...all activities you enjoyed doing. Why trade in fun activity for mindless exercise? For your next "workout", why not play outside? Maybe you won't be climbing trees exactly, but why not climb a mountain trail? Maybe you won't be biking down the street to a friend's house, but why not bike to a park to people watch or read a good book?

Speaking of biking, if you don't have a bike, get one! Bicycling is very meditative and liberating. It's low-impact and a highly effective form of exercise as it activates many of your body's large muscle groups (hams, quads, glutes, core) while providing a wicked cardio burn too.

The average cyclist riding at a moderate pace will burn approximately 400-600 calories per hour
— www.ilovebicycling.com

AND...if you absolutely can't bicycle outdoors due to inclement weather, there is always the local spin class to attend (in which you can burn an average of 500-800 calories per hour class!).

The 12 Genius Must-Have Biking Accessories:

  1. This Mini Pocket Portable Bike Pump
  2. Night Gear: Running Shoe Lights w/LED Safety Lights
  3. Handlebar Bike Mount Phone Holder
  4. This Kryptonite Bike Lock
  5. Cycling Bike Lane Tail Light Projector
  6. Rydesafe Reflective Decal Stickers
  7. Multi Tool, Bike Repair Kit & Tire Levers
  8. This Bicycle Beverage Holder
  9. Mountable Water-Resistant Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
  10. This Gel Top Bike Seat Cushion Cover
  11. Bicycle Carryall Seat Strap-on Saddlebag
  12. And don't forget your helmet, bike gloves, water bottle & sunglasses!

#DailyMotivation & Driveway Barbell Workout

I'm going to sign off this post with two favorite daily customs of mine. They just so happen to be the same habitual undertakings of some of the world's most highly effective people.

#DailyMotivation & #DailyExercise

Everyday, I listen to at least one motivational speech that I find on Youtube or a podcast. And everyday I do some form of planned activity or exercise.

These wise words were inspired by some of the best motivational spiels out there:

You can either live your dreams...or live your fears...your time here is limited so don't waste it living someone else's life, don't be trapped by dogma which is living with the results of other people's thinking, don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out the noise of your inner voice, and most important...have the courage to follow your heart & intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become, everything else is secondary...
You gotta stay focused on where you're going. Some people would rather get even than get ahead. Stay focused on where you're going when times get tough...remember this one question, "What are you going to do with your time here on earth, what drives you?" 
Greatness is a lot of little things done well, day after day... you will never be successful until you turn your pain into greatness, until you allow your pain to push you from where you are to where you want to be. Stop running from your pain, your pain is going to be a part of your prize, a part of your product, a part of your drive and your dreams.
You see...you have this opportunity of a lifetime, yet it means absolutely nothing if you don't take advantage of it in this lifetime of opportunity. You've got to start saying YES to your life, YES to your dreams, YES to your unfolding future, YES to your potential, as opposed to saying no. Leave no dream and no opportunity left behind.
Align yourself with people that encourage you, people you can grow from, people that empower you... You see, we as humans have something that no other animal has, we have imagination, and what imagination means is that we can see it before it actually happens. Look into the future and imagine yourself as you want to be. You need to go into your future and see what you are going to be. You've got to take yourself beyond the pain, beyond the fear, your imagination needs to take you to where you want to be... and that will keep you from giving up. You need to keep seeing what you are going to be, don't keep seeing what you are now, envision what you are going to be one day and embrace it with faith. Fail forward and get to a place in your life where there is no obstacle you can't overcome.
Until you attempt to do something beyond that which you’ve already mastered, you will never grow...
— Les Brown

Driveway Barbell Workout

T-Grip Lite Bar

Invigorated by a radiant sun & warm weather and driven by a fierce desire to feel that PUMP that accompanies a barbell workout, the "Driveway Barbell Workout" was born. I wanted to workout outdoors...but I also had a strong craving for strength training. Luckily, I had my nifty portable T-Grip Lite Barbell Set on hand. So, I headed down to my driveway and knocked out the following workout:

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Why We Love Hiking & The Top 10 Hiking Essentials

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This month, for the #FreedomFebruary Challenge, take a hike! It's a refreshing outdoor activity to add to your plan.

Not only is hiking a superb outdoor activity that almost any skill level can participate in due to the fact that it's a moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, but it's also a highly effective stress-reliever. Opting outside, especially removing yourself from the pandemonium of urban or suburban living, and hiking along a trail for a few miles until you feel as though you are at one with your surroundings and all the beautiful sights and sounds that nature hiking provides...resets your body, mind & spirit...and changes your life.

Another empowering aspect to hiking is that you can make your trek as easy or as intense as you'd like on any given day. You can decide to spontaneously hike along a mountain, park or beach trail until you feel you've had your fill of nature and it's time to turn around and call it a day. Or if you're inspired to challenge yourself, you can plan out a more complex expedition. 

The Physical Effects That Hiking Has On Your Body:

  • Supercharges your energy levels: brings extra oxygen & fuel to your muscles & organs
  • Keeps your joints flexible/mobile: helps fight osteoporosis and arthritis
  • Increases your endurance & alertness
  • Burns calories: even at a slow pace of 2 miles/hour a 150 lb. person burns ~240 cals/hr
  • Strengthens & tones your entire body: especially your legs and core, which in turn helps prevent back injuries
  • Elevates Mood
  • Daily Dose of Vitamin D: the best source is the sun, and all you need is 15 minutes in direct sunlight to get your RDA of Vitamin D!

Whether your hiking solo or with a group of friends, please always follow safe hiking practices by packing sufficient gear and leaving little-to-no carbon footprint! And remember, make it engaging, be mindful, and maybe even bring a camera and take some scenic photos!

Top Ten Items To Bring On A Hike:

  1. Hydration Pack: like this Teton Hydration Backpack
  2. Electrolyte Tablets: I swear by these Nuun tablets, they taste great too!
  3. Lifestraw Personal Water Filter and/or Water Purification Tablets
  4. A really good hat for sun protection
  5. Warm weather gear/Cold weather gear (jacket, poncho, wool socks)
  6. Proper waterproof hiking shoes (high-rise for cold weather hiking, mid-rise for warmer weather hiking)
  7. Survival Outdoors Longer Kit: Includes a signal mirror, whistle, waterproof fire starter striker, survival warm blanket, compass & dry bag
  8. Snacks or Food to last you the entire trek, energy bars like Clif bars are great
  9. Navigation: bring a map of the trail and familiarize yourself with the trail and your route
  10. Shelter: Having a camping hammock, like this portable nylon parachute hammock, in case your day hike turns into an unexpected overnighter...will keep you off the ground and is a great item to add to your pack. If you're planning an overnight hike, make sure you have a proper tent and you have practiced using it!

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Freedom February Challenge

It's "winter" here in the United States. Some of you live in the warmer climates and won't be affected and therefore have no excuse NOT to get outside everyday! But for some of us, who live in the colder climates, areas hard hit by the recent Jonas blizzard, and regions that experience harsh winters...it can be easy to stay inside, by the warm pellet stove or fireplace.

January is almost over, and February is fast approaching. This February, I'd like to invite you to a challenge. The challenge is called Freedom February. And this is why...

Adventuring outside, exploring nature, exploring your town on foot, bicycling the beach, hiking the parks, beach yoga, park yoga, paddleboarding the nearby canals & marshes, hiking a scenic mountain trail, participating in your community's 5k....that's what freedom is all about!

A daily habit of exercising is healthy, but each workout should have meaning. Planned exercise should be meditative for mental health & clarity in addition to improving your physical fitness. The first Freedom February goal is to re-program your brain and the emotions that are attached to exercise. When you exercise, you should feel like you are exercising your freedom.

There is nothing wrong with monotonous treadmill running, mindless weight lifting, or torturous fitness classes…or wait, is there? Yes.

For example, when yoga (asana) practice is performed daily with the right intention, it is what I like to call, a form of "holistic fitness" that frees your mind & body.

But what is "right intention"? It’s when the focus is on the journey, when you are truly in the moment, in the NOW. "Wrong intention" is when the focus of your exercise practice is to achieve a posture, while "right intention" would focus on getting into a posture as a means to meditate and be at peace and feel that connection with divinity, that freedom from everything in life that pulls you down. For any type of planned exercise activity, your motivations should not involve the craving of 'worldly things'; such as impressing others, getting 6 pack abs, competition with your fellow fitness partners, doing it just because its part of a training plan, or to be ‘skinny’… come on! That’s not living…that's not freedom. You're not alone, we're all "guilty" of this. 

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THE FIRST GOAL of the Freedom February challenge is to change this mentality. Here is a list of some "right intentions" or motivations to get you started (feel free to add your own!)

"My Planned Exercise Activity will":

  • Help me feel good
  • Make me feel alive
  • Help me feel energized again
  • Help me feel healthy & rejuvenated
  • Make me feel like I'm a part of nature, the community, the universe
  • And above all, help me feel a connection with my higher power

Yoga, like many other fitness activities, strengthens & tones your muscles and improves your cardiovascular ability so that you can get outside and enjoy life to its fullest. It’s meditative so you can approach each day with clarity, eagerness and unconditional love for yourself & others. It’s an amazing stress reliever. And, if you’re practicing yoga with the right intentions, you will feel that connection with a higher power. During yoga practice there is a time for reflection; reflection of self, the world, and being at peace... oh, and FREEDOM too.

YOUR SECOND GOAL for Freedom February is to find yourself a planned exercise activity that you will practice with the "right intentions". You can choose more than one activity. For example, I focus on yoga primarily, but each day my preference can vary slightly or drastically. Some days I have an overwhelming desire to breathe in the fresh ocean air so I take my yoga to the beach and other days I have this surge of energy where I just feel freedom sprinting along the beach (and I bring my dog too, she loves those days). Other days, taking  a long exhilarating bike ride or meditative stand-up paddleboard session are in the books for me or sometimes just having a fun jump roper session...again, all outdoor activities, all activities creating that sense of freedom within, and all activities that I'm doing with the "right intention".

And finally, YOUR THIRD GOAL for Freedom February is to spend at least 15 minutes outside everyday doing a planned exercise activity (taking a walk, bike ride, or doing sun salutations on your porch for example). Free yourself from the confines of your home or office space and venture out into the unknown. Do something you never do, like play tennis or hoops at the school around the corner. Just do something that you REALLY enjoy doing outside. Go rollerblading, play fetch with your dog or build a snowman with your daughter.

To sum things up..... if your experience is similar to mine...your Pinterest feed is most likely full of pins about 'how to' get flat stomachs or a toned booty...all because Pinterest noticed that you showed an interest in health & fitness. Social media (or really any media) brainwashes us into thinking happiness lies just around the corner of getting six pack abs, the thigh gap (come on really?) and a toned butt. Consciously or subconsciously. Hence the reason your motivations to workout are focused around the physique...

I want to offer you freedom from this detrimental mentality. There is too much emphasis on the physical, don’t fall prey to the monotonous treadmill routine and weight lifting program in which your end goal intention is to be thinner, build bigger muscles, impress others, or to get a "bikini body". Please, for your own sake, take a more spiritual approach to fitness and your eyes will be opened to a whole new world. You will look forward to exercise as a time to zone out and reflect on the day, your inner self, your thoughts, your morals & your higher power so that you can live a more present, valuable & inspirational life. Exercise should be calming not agitating. Exhilarating, not forced (consciously or subconsciously). When you're exercising, ask yourself, "Do I feel alive?" "Am I just 'getting through' this workout so that I can get on with the rest of the errands and fun things I want to do today?". You should be smiling while you're exercising, laughing, & enjoying it... and hoping it won't end anytime soon. I know that is hard to contemplate, but just work through the three goals of this challenge this month and you will get closer to "enlightened exercise".

Remember, in the end it will not matter how you looked in that bikini, will it? Nope! What will matter is how you lived, with love for others and yourself. How you have left behind a dynamic legacy that will somehow help future generations in a positive way. THAT, my friends, is what will matter. So approach your physical fitness activities with love and you will see how truly uplifting & moving a workout can be!

If you want to join us in our challenge, you can follow us on Instagram @thebraveangels where we will be posting our daily outdoor activities as well as following our fellow Freedom February Challenge participants on their journey for a healthier & more joyful approach to exercise! You can also participate by posting a pic or video of your outdoor activities on Instagram and also tagging @thebraveangels in your post and adding hashtag #FreedomFebruary. At the end of the month we will choose (at random) a participant as a winner. The winner will get to choose one free tank top from our Brave Angel Shop OR a doggie tank top from our Redemption Dog Shop (winner's choice)!

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