Post Pregnancy Fitness: a Q & A with Sarah Maguire

Handle Bar instructor Sarah Maguire had a beautiful baby boy on December 28th of last year!  8 weeks later and she’s ready to get back on the schedule.

They say that integrating fitness all the way through a pregnancy is the best way to bounce back fast… Let’s hear how this wonder woman is doing and just how she’s been adding The HB back into her schedule!

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Sarah and Liam

 

 How long up until your delivery did you workout?

I taught my last class on December 23rd and gave birth December 28th!

How frequently and at what intensity were your workouts?

By the end I was barely teaching on the bike, it was impossible to instruct and ride at the same time, I was completely out of breath. Besides, tapping it back at 9 months pregnant looked absolutely ridiculous! I was still able to enjoy other instructor’s classes though, and I was doing a lot of walking towards the end as well.

When you had Liam, how long did it take you to even THINK about spinning again?

I think I started to get the itch to workout again about 3 weeks after I had him, not so much teaching, but I definitely missed the studio and the atmosphere.

Were you ready mentally before you were physically? Describe your energy level post pregnancy.

I think I was mentally ready before physically. I just wanted to get out of the house and escape, the snow didn’t make things any easier, the cabin fever was real. Even though I was mentally ready, I was absolutely exhausted. Nothing can prepare you for the lack of sleep. I was a zombie, I truly don’t really remember those first few weeks, it’s all a blur.

 What kind of changes took place in your body the weeks following labor? (spare the TMI facts!)

Haha, well since we have to keep this PG, I would say the biggest change I have noticed is my lack of core strengthnow. It’s slowly coming back, but at first I had trouble pulling myself up to a sitting position.

What did the doctor recommend as far as getting back into fitness?

My doctor spins too! So she knew how important it was for me to get back into the swing of things. She supported me throughout my entire pregnancy and urged me to workout as soon as she gave me the OK and as soon as I felt ready.

What did you miss more, teaching or riding?

I think I really just missed being at the studio in general and seeing all of my regular riders, fellow instructors and the HB staff. I have been lucky enough to take a lot of other instructor’s classes these last few weeks and it has really made me remember what I love so much about spinning in general. It’s so nice to be able to get a really workout out and enjoy a class with the best teachers in the city. With that being said, I am definitely getting ready to start teaching again, I have been “stealing” ideas from my teammates!

What was your first class back like?

Haha, well I knew I wanted to get back in the saddle, I knew I was ready. Elise texted me and was basically like, “You. Me. Lena’s 4:30 class today“. Long story short, my ass was handed to me and it felt amazing.

How has the arm series been?

Honestly, that has been the most challenging part! I took about a month off and I feel like I lost all my upper body strength! Sarah C’s arm portion was especially brutal the other night, still feeling that one.

How do you manage to get away from home long enough to fit in a class?!

Daddy day care! I give my husband 24 hour notice that I want to spin. I’m like, “I am spinning at 5:30 tomorrow so clear your schedule and make sure you’re home”. I am lucky, he has been really supportive of me getting back in shape.

Do you think your class style will change at all after this big life addition?

Do you mean, will I start to be more conscious of my potty mouth and playing less house music? Nope, probably not! If anything, I see myself being more present in those 45 minutes, teaching at the Handle Bar is a privilege. Not to mention those 45 minutes may be the only time I get to myself that day!

Sarah wants to lose 8 more pounds to return to her pre-pregnancy for a total of 33 lost. We’re both confident she’ll melt those last few inches in our bike room in no time at all:)

Congrats to our HBingo winners!

Over two of the snowiest weeks Boston has ever seen, us folks at The Handle Bar hosted a challenge – HBingo!

Riders had 14 days to complete a row of the HBingo card (it wasn’t easy) to win 1 week of unlimited riding. SIX dedicated (and fearless of the snow) riders completed the challenge by finishing at least 1 row or column on the bingo board. Congratulations to:

Kym Murray

Erica Mellone

Corinne Nagle

Jenna Swymeler

Emily Lawless

And we’re in awe of our HBingo winner who completed a bingo and much more. With 14 finished squares our HBingo winner wins 1 month of free riding!

Erin Horgan

Check out her finished card below! Great work everyone, and happy riding.

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Turn it up Tuesday with Sarah C!

Sarah updates our Turn it Up Tuesday playlist on Spotify EVERY week! New, fresh, unique songs are getting added to the playlist and we want you to tune in!

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By: Sarah Coppinger

There are a couple things I depend on to keep me toasty during days like this – a killer spin class, coffee and super steamy tunes. Lucky for me (and YOU), the 50 Shades of Grey soundtrack just came out. The sizzle is real, guys.
With my 50 Shades themed class coming up on Friday (shameless plug cough cough sign up for my class! Or Cara’s if you’re in Fenway!) I’ve been listening to these songs on repeat. Annie Lennox, The Weeknd, Ellie Goulding…fiery hot, my friends.
Here are some of my favorite tunes keeping me warm this week. Follow the playlist to hear more every Tuesday!

Congratulations to Josie, our rider of the month!

Just in time for her birthday, we’re celebrating Josie – our rider of the month! Congrats and HAPPY BIRTHDAY to you, Josie!
Josie has been a loyal HB rider and supporter since August. Her enthusiasm and infectiousness is what we’re all about.. so we thought she deserved the spotlight this month! Our Bar Staff and instructors know and love her… she even crafted a hand-knit hat for our manager, Maura! Helping us stay warm with hats and positivity, Josie is a pleasure to have in the studio. Her online support of The HB in the social media world is not overlooked, and we can’t thank her enough for sharing the HB mission and spirit with her own friends and followers. Congratulations Josie!
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Everyone has their own unique fitness journey. What has your journey been like with spinning?
One of my best friends had been spinning for years and she never shut up about it.  When another friend in the neighborhood suggested trying out one of the recess rides at The Handle Bar over the summer- I caved and tried it out.  I think it was with Jess- and I loved it!  I knew I needed something to become addicted to – this was it.   I now try to go about five times a week.  Many friends have joined The Handle Bar and we now go together!
 
You’re extremely active on social media – what inspires that? Do you have any favorite follows to share with us on Twitter/Insta?
I have always been extremely outgoing in real life and it has spilled onto social media. I worked in public relations before teaching – and have always made strong connections with all kinds of people.  Everyone I follow is my favorite- but I especially love looking at photos of food… and paintings.. and crafts… and vacations.. and animals…
What did you do for fitness prior to joining the studio?
I didn’t do anything.   I had only lifted the remote control.  The last time I hustled was for last call at the bar.   This is truly the only time I’ve ever done any exercise in my life.  My family and friends are shocked.
What other communities are you a part of in Boston? Social groups, volunteering, athletics, hobbies?
 I am a BPS teacher so I feel like I am surrounded by work for 10 months out of the year.  I love reading (old school only!), my two rescue dogs, trying out new restaurants, knitting, and I can’t wait to roast on the beach this summer.
What’s your favorite way to retox after a long week?
After a long week, I try to make a spin class, and grab cheap buckets of beers with my friends at a dive bar. 
Or, I attempt to go to spin, then take a nap and I never wake up.
Do you have a favorite class at The Handle Bar?
I can’t choose a fave- everyone is so good and different!  I have become used to attending Elise’s Saturday, a double with Rachel on Sundays.. I squeeze in everyone else during the week whenever my work schedule allows it.  I look forward to Sarah coming back too!
What is your favorite music to spin to?
Top 40s, with a few old school throwbacks mixed in. 
What motivates you?
Thinking about summer vacation.
What words do you live by?
I need to look back and find a cheesy quote on my Instagram……. Couldn’t find one.. So I’ll just put some lyrics I like– 
“i’m not all bad, but i’m a faithful sinner,
i might get lost, but i’ll be home for dinner,”
Anything fun planned for the weekend?
It’s my birthday the 9th! I am heading to NYC on the 14th with my three best friends.
Anything else to add?
Just a big thank you to Jess who thought of me and everyone who is has been so friendly.  If you’re thinking about trying out a class, I definitely recommend it- you’ll be hooked!  Say HI!

Sweat away that cabin fever!

bike-in-the-snowSnowed in? Cabin fever already have you feeling stir crazy? Well, don’t fret! We’re hosting a Juno ride tonight at 5pm in our Southie studio for all of our riders who live within walking distance and can safely get to and from the studio. We’re all about getting our sweat on, even though the snow is piling up outside. But remember, safety first, HBers!

Can’t leave your home safely but still want to get your sweat on? Try this at-home tabata style training workout that’ll leave you sweaty and ready for your next HB ride…or to start shoveling:

Circuit 1 (4 minutes):

  • 20 second mountain climbers
  • 10 second rest
  • 20 second squat jumps
  • 10 second rest
  • Keep repeating until the 4 minutes are up!

Circuit 2 (4 minutes):

  • 20 second jumping jacks
  • 10 second rest
  • 20 second spider style elbow taps (assume high plank position, alternate tapping your left knee to left elbow and right knee to right elbow)
  • 10 second rest
  • Keep repeating until the 4 minutes are up!

Circuit 3 (4 minutes):

  • 20 seconds speed skaters
  • 10 seconds rest
  • 20 seconds burpees
  • 10 seconds rest
  • Keep repeating until the 4 minutes are up!

Circuit 4 (4 minutes): 

  • 20 seconds jump rope (with or without actual jump rope)
  • 10 seconds rest
  • 20 seconds split squats (jumping lunges, alternating legs)
  • 10 seconds rest
  • Keep repeating until the 4 minutes are up!

Repeat the entire workout 1 time through for a serious calorie and fat burn – all in less than 35 minutes!

Before you start that at-home workout or head out to the HB, put on a pot of this hearty Kale and Potato Soup (assuming you stocked up on Kale, just like those smart New Yorkers did pre-blizzard, causing a city-wide shortage of kale). But on the real, this soup is a perfect post-workout blizzard meal because ingredients can easily be substituted (spinach for kale, turkey for chicken, etc.) and it’s packed chock-full of protein and hearty veggies.

Kale and Potato Soup with Turkey Sausage (recipe courtesy of skinnytaste.com)
Servings: 6 • Size: 1 2/3 cups
Calories: 232 Fat: 4 g Carb: 31 g Fiber: 5.5 g Protein: 19 g Sugar: 3 g
Sodium: 647 mg (varies by brand of broth used)

Ingredients:

  • 14 oz reduced fat Italian chicken or turkey sausage
  • 8 cups (1/2 batch) kale, stems removed, leaves shredded
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 8 cups fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water 
  • 3 medium red potatoes, peeled diced into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1 pinch dried red pepper flakes
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper

Directions:

  • In a large Dutch oven or pot, cook sausage over medium-low heat. Turn and cook until brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from pot, let cool and cut into thin slices.
  • Add oil to pot, add onions and carrots; cook on medium until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more.
  • Add broth, water and black pepper, bring to a boil and cook 5 minutes. Add cooked sausage, potatoes, red pepper flakes and bring back to a simmer. Cook covered for about 4 minutes. Add kale and bring back to a simmer. 
  • Cook partially covered until the potatoes and kale are cooked, about 5-6 minutes. Adjust salt if needed.

Hopefully we’ll be back in the saddle all day tomorrow, but for the most up to date info, follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Stay safe, stay warm, stay sweaty! 

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Bar-re hop with us this Sunday!

Cross-training. Muscle confusion. Variety. Whatever you want to call it, switching up your workout is key to seeing the results you want and to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. At The HB, we firmly believe in the power of and results from riding 3-5 times a week, but we also know that it’s important to change up our workouts and constantly keep our muscles guessing. A ride at The HB will torch calories and strengthen arms, but we cannot stress the importance of adding a complementary workout (or two!) during the week. Barre, yoga, and weight training are all workouts that lengthen and build muscle, respectively, and are the perfect complement to all the calories burned from tapping it back and partying with us at The HB.

barre hopFor us, the value of cross training is undeniable. That’s why we’re so excited to co-host the first ever Bar-re hop, this Sunday, January 25th. We are joining forces with Simply Barre in South Boston to bring our exercise enthusiasts a workout double header where you can get your cardio fix in a 60-minute cycling class and then work to lengthen and tone your body in a 60-minute barre class. Class participants who sign up for the Bar-re Hop will choose which workout they do first and after the class, they will walk the .02 miles to the next studio for their second workout of the day.

There’s still room to get your sweat on and hop from Bar to Barre with us on Sunday in the 2:15pm early session Handle Bar class taught by owner of The Handle Bar, Jessica Bashelor. Tickets are 35$ and all participants will receive a co-branded HB and Simply Barre tote. All participants will also receive a 20% discount on retail merchandise at both The HB and Simply Barre.

See you at the Bar(re) this weekend!

To track or not to track?

By Falon Sweeney

ActivityTrackerJust yesterday as my barre class was beginning, looking around the room, I counted at least seven of my 20 fellow classmates with some sort of fitness tracker, smart watch, or heart rate monitor strapped to their wrists. Since when did we decide to become so hyper aware and obsessive about our bodies’ energy expenditure – even in a 50-minute barre class where the object is not necessarily to torch calories, but to tone, lengthen, and strengthen our muscles to fatigue? Recently, more than ever, it feels as though the fitness industry is pushing the need for these activity trackers, but the question is – do we really need all the data that these trackers provide?

Now, I’d be a walking hypocrite if I told you I thought these activity trackers were totally bogus, because, anyone who knows me even remotely well would tell you that my FitBit and I are practically inseparable. Yeah, I even wear it out to the bar and I’m not ashamed. Gotta log all those dance moves, ya dig?

So yeah, you could say my FitBit is my guilty pleasure. There’s something about knowing my sleep patterns, how many steps it takes me to get to class, or my average resting heart rate, all with one tap on the wrist that really just gets me going. To some, it sounds ridiculous, but to other data-whores and avid goal setters like myself, it literally does help us sleep better at night, knowing the best window of time to wake up in the morning to avoid grogginess. Oh, and did I mention you can challenge any of your friends that have a FitBit to a little healthy competition? Ideal for all my fellow competitive folks out there…

I could talk all day about how much I loooooove my FitBit and how it instantly syncs with My FitnessPal, and how awesome it is that I can see in real time how many calories I’m burning; however, not without acknowledging that it is a little strange knowing all these hard numbers about my body’s performance, when in reality, our bodies don’t even know what a calorie is. Yep, that’s right; a calorie is just a measure of energy determined by science. Our bodies really only know the difference between hungry and full, healthy and sick, and tired and well-rested. However, modern technology has allowed us the opportunity to optimize our health and athletic performance, all based on a few numbers. That’s pretty cool. Now, I’m not saying that running out to the nearest City Sports or Best Buy and buying one of these devices will revolutionize your fitness routine or be a quick-fix to weight loss, because it certainly is not. But, if you have even been remotely curious about how active you really are, sitting in that cubicle from 9-5, an activity tracker will tell you just that; and, it’s a sure fire way to motivate yourself to get up and move more.

  1. FitBit vs. Jawbone? FitBit all the way. I got my first FitBit during summer 2013 but the band broke (womp womp). I carried around the little piece that fits inside the band for a whole two weeks before it was lost and gone forever. I took a little hiatus from the trackers and used a step counter on my iPhone, but it just was not the same. I caved and went for the Jawbone UP because it was on sale and, to be honest, I didn’t love it. It served its purpose, but having to constantly plug it into my headphone jack instead of it automatically updating via bluetooth was definitely an inconvenience. But as soon as the FitBit Charge HR ($150) was released, I ditched my Jawbone and am totally satisfied. There’s no removable piece to lose – you just plug in the band to charge it, about every five days. Jawbone makes a similar version, The UP3, but for $180. Long story short, if you’re going to make the investment and want the HR technology, go for the FitBIt.
  2. Do I really need real time HR monitoring? The heart rate technology is definitely cool, and eliminates the need to wear a separate HR monitor and strap. But if barre, pilates, and yoga are your activities of choice, you probably don’t need it. But, if you’re a HB regular and are curious about how hard you’re actually working and if you could see more results by pushing just a little bit harder – consider it. Sometimes just seeing that little number pop up on my wrist is enough to make me tap it back just a little bit farther. The HR technology is also great because it makes your daily calorie burn more accurate.
  3. Are there any other brands worth considering? I’ve never tried the Nike FuelBand or any other brands, but from personal experience and doing my research, FitBit and Jawbone are for sure the top two contenders. If you use another brand of tracker, let us know your experience in the comments!

So, there you have it, HBers – insider insight from an activity-tracking junkie! Whether you decide to hop on the tracking bandwagon or not, try not to take it too seriously. When we say everything in moderation, fitness tracking is no exception. Don’t let a few numbers take the fun out of your workouts, because at the end of the day, enjoying your workout is the most important part. See you in the saddle, with or without that FitBit!

Resolution reflections: 10 days in

Welcome 2015, and welcome sub-zero temps. The New Year is in full swing, and so is winter – whether we like it or not. Hopefully, by now your so-called “holiday hangover” has worn off and you’re back into your regular (or newly-resolved!) routine. For so many of us, the first week of January is an opportunity to begin anew and leave the past in the past. For others of us, it’s just one of the 52 weeks in a year – and a cold one, at that. So whether you’ve revamped your lifestyle and routine, made a small resolution, totally given up on your resolution, or made no resolution at all, let it be enough. Resolve to be happy with wherever you are today, and the rest will fall into place.

20150109-104548.jpgDuring this time of year, especially, it is easy to get caught up with all the “what-ifs” and the “shoulds,” and to forget about where we are in the present moment. We tend to commit to unrealistic resolutions like “workout every single day,” “go gluten-free,” or “lose 15 pounds”. Sure, these are all very ambitious resolutions, and for those who are able to stick with them, I commend you. But for those of us who find it difficult to juggle such large-scale changes with our families, work, school, and social lives, it’s time to give ourselves a break and opt for something a little more realistic that has the potential to have an even greater positive effect. When we think large-scale about what we can do to improve ourselves and our lives, it becomes easy to forget our strengths and the achievements we’ve made thus far. That, I believe, is why New Years Resolutions have such a fleeting legacy. We get so worried about sticking to some change we promised ourselves we’d make (…post New Years Day brunch, that is) that we forget to take into account whether it’s actually making us happy at the end of the day, or if it’s just one more thing to tack onto our already unending to-do lists.

That’s why I am such a staunch supporter of making small, achievable changes that leave us ultimately happier and able to better enjoy our lives. So whether it’s committing to three HB rides per week, flossing daily, drinking more water, or calling Mom more often – whatever it is – it is enough to make a positive change in your life, based on the sole fact that you decide it will. We think that self-betterment and finding “true happiness” comes from sweeping, unrealistic lifestyle changes, when really, all it takes is a little logical reasoning to figure out exactly what kind of small change you need to make. And good news, people, these changes can be made any day – no matter January 1st or July 1st.

So, if you’ve already broken your New Years Resolution or never even got around to making one, I challenge you to use today as an opportunity to make one small change that will leave you fulfilled at the end of the day. Reflect on all the good that already exists in your life and see what little thing you can either add or take away to leave you feeling even a little more satisfied when your head hits the pillow tonight.

We’ll see you in the saddle, HBers! Stay warm!

Who raised the bar in December?

Leigh Foster!

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This month, we are so excited to highlight a HBer who is driven – both on and off the bike – to pursuing her goals and dreams. Leigh co-owns Nella Pasta, a specialty handcrafted pasta company based in Boston. Leigh’s idea behind Nella Pasta was to create something a bit healthier and cleaner than the average pasta, using locally and sustainably sourced ingredients when possible. You can buy any of Nella Pasta’s 8 varieties of ravioli right here in Southie at American Provisions, at select Whole Foods locations , and a variety of other retailers! We are inspired by Leigh’s drive and creativity, and are so excited to support another woman-owned small business in our growing HB community. Congrats, Leigh!

Everyone has their own unique fitness journey. What has your experience/journey been like with indoor cycling? I was so excited when the sign first went up at the Handle Bar. I’m not a gym person and there were only so many classes you could take in the area so I knew I would want to try out spinning.  When I found out that the owner was a fellow women-owned business owner, I was even more excited to check it out. Spinning at the Handle Bar has that addictive quality that keeps you coming back again and again. I love the instructors, music, and that the class never gets old– you can always add more resistance, improve your form, etc.

nellaTell us about your small business and entrepreneurial experience. I am the Co-Owner of a specialty pasta company, Nella Pasta, based right here in Boston. Many people have a terrifying fear of pasta, but we make our ravioli a healthier option than most by using the finest ingredients possible with a 50/50 cheese to vegetable ratio and a part whole grain dough. We currently have a line of 8 made fresh, sold frozen ravioli varieties that start with vegetables sourced locally and in season when possible and complement them with creative and unexpected “clean” (meaning no additives or preservatives) ingredients like specialty cheeses, herbs, nuts and dried fruits. The ravioli cook in 4 minutes straight from the freezer and do not require a sauce, just a bit of olive oil and/or butter (if you live in Southie, you can find us in the freezer section at American Provisions, otherwise try your local specialty store or Whole Foods).
We’re so happy to be a part of the thriving small business network in Boston. When we can pair food and exercise? Perfect!

Besides cycling, what other activities do you do to stay fit? Yoga, running and walking with my dog.

Tell us an unknown fact about yourself. I’m always early, to a fault.

Why do you come to ride at the Handle Bar? For starters, see above. Being in the food business, its a prerequisite to LOVE food. The Handle Bar is a great way to get my heart pumping and work up a sweat every day. I love the energy in Handle Bar classes. The instructors have an amazing way of getting you pumped and keeping your energy high during class, which stays with you throughout the day.

What did you do for fitness prior to joining the studio? I have a dance background so I used to take a lot of ballet and barre classes. I’ve also never had an actual gym membership so I’m always walking and running. 

What goals has The Handle Bar helped you achieve? When I first came to Handle Bar, I thought the instructors must be robots for how fast they could move their legs. I can finally keep up and catch every beat (most of the time!) which makes the class a lot more challenging and fun. Like I mentioned before, I’ve never liked going to the gym so I often walked as exercise. The Handle Bar makes me realize that I’m capable of a lot more and pushes me to work harder and run, add intervals, etc. 

What drives you more – working out solo or with a friend? Depends. I always love bringing friends to class or going for a walk or run, but I will say I sometimes love zoning out solo. Lately, my sister and I call each other on runs. People certainly give you strange looks for seemingly talking to yourself, but it makes a run go by quickly and we’re able to catch up.

What’s your favorite way to end a long week? Doing something outside– a hike, long walk, something to vary up the weekly routine, going out to eat, wine and sweatpants?!

If you were able to choose the playlist for one class, what artists/songs would you include? I love the new Bruno Mars song, lots of throw backs… (sidenote: I loved the Christmas Eve ride. I’m still listening to Christmas Music)  and will likely continue through January)

What motivates you? Progress and getting stronger (let’s be serious, pasta).

What words do you live by? As Julia Child wrote, “People who love to eat are always the best people”

Unplug & be present this holiday season

bhciagghRight about now, you’re probably face-deep in Christmas shopping, or like so many of us, you might not have even started your holiday shopping. Either way, you’re probably stressin’. Relax! You’ve still got four days before Santa arrives. But before you hit the mall or take to Newbury street, take a second to breathe – unplug, relax, close your eyes, if only for a few minutes.

What do I mean by that first one? Unplug. It’s an idea I know we’ve all heard of, but gets very little actual practice, in large part by no fault of our own. We are constantly surrounded and overstimulated with technology and are living in a world that makes it hard to function without our iPhones glued to our hands at all times. Really, when was the last time you shut off your phone “just because” or left it at home? Probably a while ago. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in work emails, Facebook, or our Twitter feeds that we miss what’s going on around us – real conversations, laughter, and scenery - all so much more real than poorly-filtered photos on our Instagram feeds. More than I’d like to admit, I find myself refreshing my newsfeed while I’m sitting on the metro, despite the fact that I don’t even have service. But I’m definitely not alone; just the other day, I hurried up the left side of the escalator with my headphones blasting – tuning out the world around me – past dimly lit, zombie-like faces glued to their iPhones. And that’s when it hit me. I felt like I was part of one of those UpWorthy videos that explicitly tell us how doomed we are if we don’t just look up. That was a wake up call, for sure.

unplugSo in these next four days of holiday mayhem – and well into the new year – I encourage you to be mindful of the time you spend with your head down and your nose in your phone. Next time you find your thumb apathetically scrolling through your newsfeed, click the off button, look up, and breathe in the world around you

If you find unplugging difficult for you – as I certainly have – there are a few ways to make it a bit easier:

  1. Strike up a conversation with friends/family/loved ones about the idea of unplugging. Guaranteed you’ll all want to leave your phones aside after talking it through.
  2. Exercise. Whether its a run, a ride at the HB, or even a brisk walk with the fam post Christmas dinner, getting those endorphins flowing will make you feel alive.
  3. Create a “no phones” rule when you’re out to dinner or drinks with friends. You’ll be amazed by the added amount of laughs and good vibes you’ll get when you aren’t talking about your washed up high school classmates that pop up on your news feed. So, put your phones in the middle of the table, and the first one to touch her phone buys the first round of drinks! 
  4. Don’t text/email/Facebook/Tweet while driving. Not only is it dangerous, but it seriously takes away from your “me” time in the morning or evening. Use that time wisely – think, plan, dream; do anything but live vicariously through your FB feed.
  5. Write someone a handwritten note instead of a text. When we write something in pen, it gives a sense of permanence and promotes us to really think things through. Not only that, but nowadays, anything handwritten is 10 million times more sincere than a quick text or email.
  6. Meet somebody new. Whether its the rider on the bike next to you at The HB, a stranger in the elevator, or the person sitting next to you on the T, strike up a convo! Say hi, give them a compliment, or simply wish them a Merry Christmas. ‘Tis the season, isn’t it?
  7. People watch. I know, I know, it sounds creepy, but seriously, taking in the presence of others gives us the sense that we’re actually living, breathing humans surrounded by other living, breathing humans. It develops our sense of empathy and understanding, and broadens our horizons to the kinds of situations that actually exist. One of my favorite places to “people watch” is at the airport. So if you’re traveling this holiday, look up and witness the joy, love, and even heartache that comes with people coming and going. Yep, just like in Love Actually

41Unplugging and being present, if even just for a few minutes, has the ability to make you feel a little more human and a little less zombie-like. So while you’re waiting in long lines, traveling, or sitting in traffic, breathe in your surroundings. They might just be a little bit cooler than what your ten million Facebook friends are doing ;)

Alright, HBer’s, good luck with your holiday shopping! We’ll see you in the saddle – sans iPhone!