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“Shape Up In May” Challenge

By Rachel Tiemeyer

Affiliate links are included in this post, but all opinions are our own.

Sooo maybe you’re lacking in the exercise department right now. Who can blame you? You’re trying to juggle all.the.balls at home and work. We get it!

We also know you want to take good care of yourself and everyone you care for needs you to take good care of yourself. But time is short, the budget is tight, and motivation…errr…maybe is lacking. Again, we get it!

You’re Invited to Shape Up with Us!

Sometimes you just need an excuse to jumpstart the engine again, right? This is why we’re hosting something really fun this month. We’d LOVE for you to be a part of our “Shape Up In May” Challenge.

About the Challenge

  • It’s free. (Now you’re talking…)
  • It will fit into your schedule and you can do it anywhere. (Say whaaatt? Tell me more.)
  • For extra motivation, we’re giving away a $100 Amazon gift card to one lucky participant. (What? What? Why? Quit playing games with my heart.) That’s just the icing on the cake because the real prize of a healthier you is a much better payout!
  • It’s for any fitness level. The only person you are competing against in this challenge is yourself. (Good. Great. Grand. Gym classes aren’t my thing.)
  • You’ll have a community of other Thriving Home readers (and us) to encourage one another. (How fun!)

In 3 simple steps, you can sign up for our “Shape Up In May” Challenge and start exercising to some really fun at-home workout videos today!

What Are the Workouts Like?

For this challenge, we are all going to use some Les Mills On Demand workouts. (Don’t panic, you get a 30-day free trial of them in May!) Why Les Mills workouts? The classes have a variety of levels and are really fun and highly effective in a short amount of time. We know you need to maximize your precious time. We aren’t wasting it on ineffective workouts.

In fact, Polly and I have both been taking Les Mills classes for years at our gym and are sold on the benefits of these workouts. Apparently, 6 million other people do them around the world, too. When we found out that they can be streamed to your phone, computer, or smart TV, it was a no-brainer.

Even if you don’t end up joining the challenge, you should for sure take advantage of the free classes. FREE ONLINE CLASSES, YA’LL!

The sheer variety and amount of classes on the Les Mills streaming service blows my mind. Choose from a variety of Strength, Cardio, HIIT, Flexibility, Core, Dance, Yoga, BARRE, Post Pregnancy, and even Youth Fitness–600+ videos at your fingertips. We’ve had so much fun trying out new classes in the comfort of our own homes.

Here Is Your Challenge!

Try 3 Les Mills On Demand classes per week in May during your 30-Day free trial. (Cancel any time.)

That’s it! You can do that, right?! Get started here:

STEP 1: Sign up for the Les Mills On Demand 30-Day Free Trial here and see if you like it or not. You can easily unsubscribe at any point. It might not be for you, but no harm in trying. Or you might love it like we do!

STEP 2: Join our private Facebook Group called “Shape Up In May” Challenge. Say hello!

STEP 3: Enter to win a $100 Amazon gift card* by taking a time-lapse video of yourself (just a snippet) doing one of the Les Mills classes and share it in our private Facebook group or snap a picture if you’re not comfortable with the video thing. You can enter up to 3x with a new video each time. (Don’t worry. You won’t be alone. Polly and I will be posting some of our workouts, too!)

Now, who’s in?! Hope to see you over in our Facebook group.

*Giveaway Details: Our giveaway runs from May 1-31, 2019. Only open to U.S. residents. Up to three entries allowed per person. No purchase is required to enter. Eligible entries are submitted via videos or photos posted in our private Facebook group as explained above. One winner will be selected at random and announced here and on our Facebook page on June 1.

Healthy Living Small Step #9: Diffuse Essential Oils Instead of Burning Candles

By Polly Conner

10 Small Steps Towards Healthy Living. Step nine: diffuse essential oils instead of burning candles.

Start at the beginning of our 10 Small Steps Toward Healthy Living series HERE.

Step #9: Diffuse essential oils instead of burning candles.

Can we be honest with each other?

I am having a hard time writing this post because I feel a little hypocritical. Read more

Healthy Living Small Step #8: Invest in Resources

By Polly Conner

With great resources on hand, healthy living doesn't have to be so hard. Take a small step and stock up on these fabulous healthy living resources so consult in the future. Start at the beginning of our 10 Small Steps Toward Healthy Living series HERE.

(Note: Some affiliate links included.)

Confession

I’m a quitter.

When I get overwhelmed by something or don’t understand it, I have a tendency to just give it up altogether.

I hate feeling dumb or inadequate. When I can’t do something well, I would rather chuck it and remove it from my life altogether, rather than dig in and get better. I know, it’s not a good way to live life. Don’t worry, marriage and especially motherhood have challenged me to face this defense mechanism in full force. But I still tend to revert to my tendencies.With great resources on hand, healthy living doesn't have to be so hard. Take a small step and stock up on these fabulous healthy living resources so consult in the future.

I say this because for a long time, this was my approach to healthy living. I felt like I could never do anything right. I felt ill-equipped to make good choices and paralyzed by the never-ending amount of information. Not to mention, slightly annoyed by people who gabbed about what I should be doing all the time. If I can’t do anything right, why even try?

Relate? Read more

Healthy Living Small Step #1: Go One Day Without Processed Foods

By Rachel Tiemeyer

This collection of "10 small steps toward healthy living" is actually doable for your family! Just pick ONE to start your family on their way to a more natural, holistically healthy lifestyle. #thrivinghome #healthyliving

Start at the beginning of our 10 Small Steps Toward Healthy Living series here.

(Note: Some affiliate links included.)

Our Family’s Journey Toward Real Food

My husband and I used to be fast food and convenience food (think store-bought frozen pizzas and lasagnas) junkies a little over a decade ago. When I worked full-time and he was a full-time student commuting two hours both ways, we just couldn’t figure out how to make healthy, homemade food a part of our life. And, we honestly both suffered as a result–gaining weight, experiencing blood sugar spikes and lows, feeling sluggish and having digestive problems.

But that all changed about 7 years ago when one of our children was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease as a toddler. Around that time I also read several books like Fast Food Nation and Omnivore’s Dilemma and began regularly reading blogs like Keeper of the Home, Heavenly Homemakers, and Kitchen Stewardship. My eyes were opened to the dangers of processed foods that are loaded with sodium, sugar, preservatives, and additives. I learned that at best these foods are non-nutritive and at worst they cause inflammation and damage to our bodies over time, perhaps worst of all in fetuses, babies and children.

So, I began to try cooking at home more. I investigated how to feed my family with food that was closest to it’s original source (what we call “real food” around here). I scoured the labels of everything I bought at the store and looked for the products with the fewest ingredients and only those ingredients I recognized.

Read more

10 Small Steps Toward Healthy Living: What Does “Healthy Living” Actually Mean?

By Polly Conner

This collection of "10 small steps toward healthy living" is actually doable for your family! Just pick ONE to start your family on their way to a more natural, holistically healthy lifestyle. In the past 10 years, my definition of “healthy” has dramatically changed.

22 year old Polly would have described healthy living simply as limiting your calories and eating low-fat foods. Like most women, I was uninformed and misled on what would help me be “healthy.” (Here is more of my story if you’re interested.)

Fast forward 10 years, and my lifestyle is almost unrecognizable to that naive 22 year old. Read more

DIY Scented Soap Bars

By Rachel Tiemeyer

DIY All-Natural Scented Soap Bars with safe, non-toxic ingredients

by Jessica Ellingsworth of Mayvn, Contributing Author

A recent school family project assignment had my daughters and I wondering what to conquer. “Let’s make soap!” one of them suggested. What?! Jessica here, and after a little research I have a fun and easy Spring project to whip up with kids that is also great for end-of-the-year or Mother’s Day/Father’s Day gifts.

One of the first obstacles I found when researching soap-making with kids is the process of mixing oils with lye, a caustic substance. Even though there is no lye in the final product (if ingredient ratios are correct, digital scale required!), there is still the saponification process that has potential hazards when rookie moms and small hands are involved. Who knew I had two little aspiring chemists on my hands?!

DIY All-Natural Scented Soap Bars with safe, non-toxic ingredients

Taking their ages and my inexperience into account, I found and purchased blocks of raw soap bases that have already been through this process for me, leaving the fun part of melting, scenting, and pretty packaging to us. Another pro for doing a melt and pour: there is no ‘curing time’, so soap is ready immediately after cooling–a win for kids! All three of my kids really enjoyed the process and love knowing they made something so useful. My husband and son even made a “manly” soap.

Depending on the costs of your chosen essential oils, I estimate a small bar of natural homemade melt and pour soap costs around $1.50.

Without further adieu, here is the 7-step process for making DIY Scented Soap Bars:

1. Assemble tools and ingredients. You’ll need:

  • glass measuring cups
  • sharp knife
  • a pot
  • soap molds (plastic or silicone work best so there is ‘room to give’.) I even used a clover cupcake mold I had stashed away and found an inexpensive soap mold at Michael’s craft store.
  • bars of soap bases–I purchased organic coconut oil bases at Bulk Apothecary, but they can be found a number of places.
  • essential oils and droppers–You can pretty much fragrance with anything you can dream of. For our maiden voyage in soap-making, we settled on batches of Rose Oatmeal, Sweet Orange and Eucalyptus.
  • Finely ground nuts, oatmeal and herbs for texture (optional). Chopped herbs like lavender are beautiful for Spring.
  • a small amount of rubbing alcohol in a small spray/spritz bottle
  • craft paper, tags and pretty ribbon if gift-giving.

DIY All-Natural Scented Soap Bars with safe, non-toxic ingredients

2. Cut blocks into cubes. Heat slowly in a pot over low heat until melted.

DIY All-Natural Scented Soap Bars with safe, non-toxic ingredients

DIY All-Natural Scented Soap Bars with safe, non-toxic ingredients

3. Take off of the heat and add fragrance, colors and/or textures, to your preference. Natural soap colorants made with mica can also be purchased. Pro tip for fragrance: 5 grams of essential oil per pound of soap.

DIY All-Natural Scented Soap Bars with safe, non-toxic ingredients

4. Pour into molds.

DIY All-Natural Scented Soap Bars with safe, non-toxic ingredients

DIY All-Natural Scented Soap Bars with safe, non-toxic ingredients

5. Spritz lightly with rubbing alcohol to dissipate bubbles.

DIY All-Natural Scented Soap Bars with safe, non-toxic ingredients

6. Let soap firm up in the molds for 2-4 hours. The soap will be firm to the touch and easily release from the sides of the mold.

DIY All-Natural Scented Soap Bars with safe, non-toxic ingredients

7. They are now ready for use, or package in paper and pretty ribbons for fragrant gift-giving.

DIY All-Natural Scented Soap Bars with safe, non-toxic ingredients

Happy Spring!

About the Author

JessicaJessica is a freelance writer, stylist, and recipe developer. She lives in Austin with her husband, two daughters, and son. She loves makeup artistry, interiors, travel, being in the kitchen with her kids, creative living, and exploring the streets of Austin for inspiration and the best food dives. She blogs at Mavyn.