Episode 26: Introducing the All-New Throat-Punch Thursday Format Where AJ and Hillary Rant about the Health and Wellness Stuff that Drives Them Bat-Shit Bananas

throat-punch thursday with lil Hillary and lil AJ
Pretend the theme from “Charlie’s Angels” plays whenever you see this graphic.

That’s right, girls and boys! We’re now coming at ya with more vitriol! At least 137% more exclamation points! And (somehow) like 200% more profanity and sarcasm! We didn’t think it was possible either!

*gently sets down the coffee pot and quickly chews a CBD gummy before continuing*

Anyhoo, so for this episode, AJ and Hillary are doing something a little different, which you probably picked up on with the extra long title THAT IS NOT AT ALL MEANT TO MAXIMIZE SEO POTENTIAL OH CRUEL GOOGLE GODS WHY WON’T YOU SMILE ON US???

At any rate, in this here episode, AJ and Hillary lament the things about health and wellness that make them want to brain themselves with a kettlebell.  

  • AJ’s First Rant: Fuck You, Abs — AJ could do planks until she became a literal piece of wood and drop her body-fat percentage below her shoe size. But since her genetic makeup went, “nah, hard pass,” it’s unlikely six-pack abs are in her future. However, after two sets of bicep curls, boom! Instant muscle definition. Genes are funny, huh?! Hahahahahaha! Fuckers. 
  • Hillary’s First Rant: Putting the “Whore” in Hormones — Hillary just looooooves how her menstrual cycle affects how much weight she can lift. Because it’s awesome to be making them sweet gainz at the gym, only to have her hormones go, “you know what? We’re going to make you weaker, not stronger, just for this week, just to fuck up your life and make you wonder if any of this is worth it.” It’s. So. Much. Fun. 
  • AJ’s Second Rant: Men’s Health Mags = Useful, Women’s? No. — Are all magazines just a vehicle for companies to try to sell us shit we probably don’t need? Yes. Do we all get that? Mostly. But how about providing actual useful information while you’re at it? Why do men’s health and fitness mags offer actually useful workouts and scientific information, while women’s continue to say shit like “dOn’T lIfT mOaR tHaN 2 pOuNdS aT a TiMe Or U’lL gEt BuLkY!!!”
  • Hillary’s Second Rant: “OMG Eat 1,000 Grams of Protein Immediately After You Workout, Or You’ll Never Gain an Ounce of Muscle Your Whole Life, and You’ll Probably Die” — Man, we really gotta stop giving away the whole rant in the subhead. Anyway, for years, Hillary heard you had like a 30-second window after you finished picking up the heavy stuff and putting it back down where you had to cram protein into your pie hole or your whole workout was for naught. Yeah, turns out, sure, protein’s important. But you’ve got a hot minute or two — or like 24 hours — to consume it. All those years immediately chugging disgusting powdery chemical crap when she could have taken her sweet time … to drink the disgusting powdery chemical crap. *sigh*

What about you? What really grinds your gears about health and fitness and wellness? Rant away in the comments!

Episode 25: Wherein AJ and Hillary Stay Accountable and Provide a Goals Update

Accountability Partner Check-In
Ooo, look at this here graphy thing Hillary made on her phone. Oh yeah, we fancy.

You’re all probably dying to know how AJ and Hillary’s are progressing toward their goals.

OK, weirdo. Whatever floats your goat. We don’t judge.

Here’s a quick recap, which you can also listen to in our goals episode, about what AJ and Hillary were planning to tackle in 2021:

AJ’s goals:

  • Lose 60 pounds
  • Get her book done and published
  • Increase our podcast listener/fan base. In S.M.A.R.T terms, we’re aiming to increase our downloads to 1,000 per episode by the end of the year.

Hillary’s goals:

  • Continue the gratitude practice she started the first of December 2021
  • Start incorporating meditation beginning in March

AJ’s progress update:

“S….L…O…W. That’s how and a little frustrating. I changed up my eating habits because I noticed that I was UNDEReating, which is easy to do when you adopt a Keto lifestyle (which I still love). I also hit a stall in shedding weight for the first time. Despite my going strict Keto and even doing the “clean,” as opposed to the “dirty” version (more on that in a future post/episode) I was not dropping any weight, which sent me into a shame spiral late last year, which sent me into an emotional eating and binge cycle. Not good. 

“So, I started the year trying to get my eating back on track and eat more healthfully. I began following WW (formerly Weight Watchers). I (at the time of the recording) dropped 5 pounds in one month. Super frustrating, BUT if I maintain this trajectory, 5lbs/month, I’d be on track to lose 60 pounds in the year. It’s actually a win but my attitude needs work. Listen to the episode for more on this.

“My workout routine has improved since last year but is still spotty in places where my work schedule gets cray. I will be working on improving this in March.

“As for the publishing goal: I am making much better progress with that goal. I hired a writing coach, who was WONDERFUL and have a solid publishing plan for the year.

“The podcast growth goal is coming along as well, thanks to our loyal listeners and our efforts with social media.”

Hillary’s progress update:

Gratitude: “The gratitude practice is still on track. I’ve managed to log three things I’m grateful for almost every day since the first of December.

“At first, the results were strikingly noticeable; I feel like my whole perspective shifted for the better in that I was able to stay more positive. It also helped me keep things in perspective and to realize that any given situation was never either truly good or truly bad.

“Now, either I’m just used to that shift in that I don’t notice it, or it’s not working as well. It’s still usually fairly easy for me to come up with three things I’m grateful for every day. But I don’t notice the improved outlook as much. 

“I still enjoy doing it, so I think I’ll continue for now. In the future, I may look to include more journaling about one of the things I’m grateful for every day to see if that further improves my mental headspace.”

Meditation: “So, I was supposed to start March 1, and I didn’t. I’m not sure why I’m so resistant. 

“Part of the reason could be because we’re getting toward the end of a home renovation project, and it’s been loud AF. So, the thought of trying to carve out some quiet time to focus seems daunting.

“Also, I’ve been toying with some intuitive eating (watch for a future episode on that), which is presenting its own set of challenges. Although meditation is supposed to be a part of the intuitive eating process, I just haven’t been able to bring myself to figure out when and how often I’m going to try meditation.

“So, there’s a definite stumbling block going on, and I’m just going to have to do some work to figure out what the deal is. 

“Ugh. Sounds like so much work. Gross.”

What about you? How are your goals for the year coming? Have you been successful or stumbling? Tell us all about it in the comments or on the related post on our Facebook page.

Further Info and Deets

AJ and Hillary talk about how to pick an accountability partner

What is an Accountability Partner — And How to Choose Yours

Episode 24: Streaming Fitness: Choosing a Home Workout Option Can Be … Well, A Workout

Woman lying on a balance ball
Uggghhhhh. Whyyyyy do I have to do so much work just to workout?

Streaming fitness, where you can participate in a workout from the comfort of your home, certainly isn’t new. But the plethora of sites proliferating workouts and classes all over the interwebs … well, there are new options. Lots of options. So. Many. Options. 

So, with all the workout goodness to choose from, how do you pick?

If you’re AJ, you undertake an exhaustive study of every class out there, perform a thorough cost-benefit analysis, and use a database to streamline reporting. Or at the very least, you bust open an Excel spreadsheet.

Wait! Come back! You don’t have to be like AJ! We promise!

If you don’t wanna commit that much time, effort, or nerd power to this exercise (Tee, hee, hee! See what we did there?), we created some criteria for you to consider and listed out some of AJ’s favorite options in the Further Info and Deets section below.

First up, why bother with streaming? Maybe you prefer to workout from the privacy of your home. Maybe you’re not ready to rejoin the sweaty masses. Maybe during lockdown, you put on a little weight. Maybe a lot of weight. Maybe, for instance, maybe you outgrew your size XXL sweatpants. It could happen. We’ve heard … from friends. … OK, OK, samesies. But there’s certainly no judgement in the privacy of your own home. 

In addition to privacy, there’s convenience, variety, and savings.

As far as costs go, there’s quite a range, from free options to services that can cost you nearly a hundred bucks a month or more.

When it comes to picking the right service for you and your goals, here are some tips:

  1. Set an intention for your membership. What are you after? Is it to lose fat, build muscle or endurance, prep for a race or competition, get some stress relief, become more flexible? Knowing your end goal can help you narrow your options. 
  2. Figure out what will motivate you. Live classes may give you a feeling of community and accountability, something to look forward to and the transience of FOMO if you miss the class. Do you need variety because you have the attention span of fruit fly? Do you want to try something you’ve never tried before like Bollywood-style workouts, Barre, or boxing? Or maybe the idea of training with one of the hottest, most sought-after trainers appeals to you?
  3. Set a price point. What can you afford to spend? Will this replace the gym or other fitness classes, or are you planning to add streaming to your regular workout routine?
  4. Choose a streaming method that fits your lifestyle. Ask yourself if you prefer:
    1. Mobile device only, like a cell phone or tablet.
    2. Television streaming, including Roku, Amazon, AppleTV.
    3. Audio oriented, i.e. guided workouts with verbal cues
    4. Special interactive devices like a mirror or bike (not reviewed in this round)
    5. Or ALL or most of the above.

So, after all that careful consideration, which sites did AJ prefer, or which won the knock down, drag-out, nerd-off?

  • Best for Variety of Workouts and Platform Options: NEOU — This is AJ’s go-to.
  • Best for anyone with ADD: Les Mills — Actually AJ really liked the workouts, so she kept this one too (don’t judge).
  • Best for Yoga: Alo Moves — Per one of the listeners, Chandra, oh she of the supreme bendyness.
  • Best Free Option: YouTube — It has as many, if not more, types of workouts as NEOU.
  • Best Audio Guided Option: Aaptiv

What are your experiences with streaming fitness? Do you have a go-to class or service that you love? Or tried and hated? Dish in the comments, or let us know our Facebook page in the related post comments.

DISCLAIMER: This post and others on this site contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, Hillary and AJ may receive a small commission. This helps support the show and site and allows us to continue our sassy shenanigans. Thank you for the support! Everything on this site is based on information we learned from our own experience and/or research. Please do your own research before making any important decisions, and always consult a medical professional before adopting or changing exercise, eating or fitness plans. You and only you are responsible for your health and wellbeing.

Further Info and Deets

AJ and Hillary talk about how to pick an accountability partner

Yoga with Adriene

Obe Fitness

Peloton

The Five Stages of Peloton

Episode 23: Does Meditation Really Calm Your Inner Coked-Up Squirrel, or Is It Just Glorified Napping?

Squirrel lays on rock surface
Hey gurl. How you doin’? Oh, you know me. Just meditating and getting all zen and shit. Come over to my nest later, and we can have lots and lots of nuts.

Do your thoughts tend to race? Do you have trouble focusing on one thing at a time? Do you find yourself buried under a deluge of anxious messages from your ungrateful brain, telling you Tiffany from high school was right and that you’ll never amount to anything and that you walk like an orangutan with scoliosis?

If so, do you have a moment to talk about our lord and savior, Meditation? 

All sacrilege aside, meditation is having “a moment,” is it not? No longer is meditation considered an activity practiced by zen yogis who subsist on wheatgrass smoothies infused with the tears of ancient gurus who reached enlightenment faster than you can say “plant-based vegan meatless patty dredged in turmeric.” 

No, no, friend. Meditation is FOR EVERYONE WHY AREN’T YOU MEDITATING RIGHT NOW OMG IT’S SO GOOD FOR YOU!!!!!1

Which is to say, meditation is pretty trendy in a borderline obnoxious kind of way. However, that doesn’t mean the practice of focusing your mind and your breathing isn’t without merit. 

So, the highlights, care of Mayo Clinic, include:

  • Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations
  • Building skills to manage your stress
  • Increasing self-awareness
  • Focusing on the present
  • Reducing negative emotions
  • Increasing imagination and creativity
  • Increasing patience and tolerance

But that shit ain’t all emotional. Oh nononono. There’s a big ol’ hunk of physical benefits too. A meditation practice can help you manage:

  • Anxiety
  • Asthma
  • Cancer
  • Chronic pain
  • Depression
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Sleep problems
  • Tension headaches

So, if something has that many health benefits, why don’t more people — AJ and Hillary included — do it?

There are a couple of theories. Often, those who want to meditate but don’t cite a lack of time. For others, they don’t know where to start or how to meditate. 

Both are valid objections. Yes, it does take time to meditate, though maybe not as much as you think. And it can be hard to know where to start or if you’re doing it right or if it’s working. 

Also, it’s possible for those with perfectionism tendencies (*cough, cough* “Hillary” *cough, cough*), the stress of “not being able to meditate perfectly the very first time” … well, that can be off putting. The fact that there is no way, really, to “meditate perfectly” seems beside the point. … Shut up, OK?

Anyhoo, since Hillary is trying to overcome her perfectionism, she set a goal this year to start — and stick with — a consistent meditation practice. Once she’s through her 90 days of gratitude, she’ll move on to meditating, so as to “habit stack.”

If you’re considering meditation, what kind should you try, seeing as how there’re about eleventy billion different types? (Sorry for all the links to Headspace. This isn’t a sponsored post. They just have some handy resources that are free, though their app isn’t.)

Anyway, you’ll have to do a little research to find the right meditation for you, and it’ll probably take some trial and error to find one you like and that works for you. Some of the most common types are mindfulness, spiritual, yoga, movement (like walking), manta, and visualization. 

As far as tools, there are lots of apps out there (Hillary likes Insight Timer, though it can get a little overwhelming) and tons of free resources. AJ is planning to try more walking meditation — including labyrinths — as soon as the weather breaks (she’s very delicate). The link below contains a labyrinth locator.

Check out the “Further Info and Deets” section for links to some YouTube videos to get you started on your path to “ommmmmm.”

What about you? Have you tried meditation? Got any success or horror stories? Spill the tea in the comments!

Further Info and Deets

AJ and Hillary talk about how to pick an accountability partner

Walking a Labyrinth as Spiritual Exercise

Ommmmmm … bitches …
Let’s! Get! Calm!
OMGOMGOMG, we love us some Yoga with Adriene. *fan girl swoon*
This better only take 10. These “Parks and Rec” reruns aren’t gonna watch themselves.
As U2 said: “Walk On.”

Episode 22: Gratitude: If Nothing Else, There’re Always Sweatpants

Person walking while wearing brightly colored tights and shoes from Magnus Olsson, Unsplash
OMGOMGOMG, who remembers “Daria”? Let’s start a petition to bring it back!

After a year where we witnessed a global pandemic, racial unrest, one of the most divisive elections in recent history, murder hornets, “Tiger King,” and Mario Lopez as sexy Colonel Sanders, talking about gratitude can feel … tone deaf. 

No one wants to be the obnoxiously cheery “look on the bright side!” person (well, AJ might want to be that person.) And trite phrases like “everything happens for a reason!” or “it’ll all work out in the end!” do more than make you want to crane kick the utterer. They can also fall into the category of “toxic positivity.” 

But gratitude is more nuanced than just always having a positive attitude or never feeling down. And it’s not convincing yourself that you shouldn’t feel bad because some other random person might have it worse. 

Gratitude is just the conscious decision to find the good in your own life. 

Yeah, sometimes that can sound like a lot of work. Which might be why more people don’t consciously decide to practice being grateful. 

But the emotional, physcological, and physical health benefits are pretty striking. 

Here’s a quick example from a study that Harvard Medical School highlighted:

“One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them, and the third wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative). After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation.”

Other studies have shown that grateful people:

  • Have less pain
  • Report feeling healthier
  • Are more likely to take care of their health
  • Have reduced levels of negative emotions, like envy or frustration or regret
  • Are more empathetic
  • Sleep better

The lists go on and on. 

In the nearly two months that Hillary has been practicing being grateful (that sounds like a humblebrag, but it’s … fine, it’s a humblebrag. When she reaches peak enlightenment, she’ll be sure to remember all you little people.) she has noticed a subtle shift in her perception. She’s more likely to notice small things that make her happy or smile, she feels (mostly) less worried about the state of things, and she’s generally more optimistic that things will work out or that she’ll have the tools to deal with them if they don’t.

It’s not all roses and puppy dogs. There are still bad days and dark nights when doubt and worry creep up on her in moments of insomnia. But overall, 10/10, would recommend. 

Here are a few ways to cultivate a gratitude practice:

  • Keep a gratitude journal, either by hand, online, or through an app (Hillary’s digging an app simply called “Gratitude.”).
  • Write thank-you notes to people and/or send fan mail (or emails) to those you admire or who did something nice for you.
  • Set a daily reminder to make note of something — or multiple things — you’re grateful for.
  • Get specific with the small stuff. It’s great to be thankful for your kids, but detailing a funny story they told you that made you laugh or how they made their beds without being asked is more likely to stick in your mind.
  • Keep a gratitude jar where you can toss in notes about little things you’re grateful for.
  • Make sure to go back and review what you’ve written to remind yourself of the good stuff. That’s especially useful when you’re having a bad day or moment.

What did we miss? What’s your experience with gratitude? Like it or loathe it? Make us even more grateful for y’all in the comments!

Further Info and Deets

AJ and Hillary talk about how to pick an accountability partner

We will never not share this.

Episode 21: Hells (Kettle)bells: How One Piece of Exercise Equipment Packs All the Punches

Woman stands in front of kettlebells
Behold! I stand before you with my magnificent booty and these equally magnificent kettlebells! Bow before me!

Hells (kettle)bells

Hells (kettle)bells, you got me swinging

Hells (kettle)bells, my heart rate’s high

Hells (kettle)bells

Oh, come on! It’s been for-eh-ver since we started a blog post with song lyrics. So, as usual, apologies to AC/DC for bastardizing their hit, and the rest of you are welcome for the earworm.

Anyhoo, much has already been written about why and how kettlebells make for the ideal piece of workout equipment. But if you don’t feel like clicking links, googling, or doing any more than reading than this here blog post, we’ll hit the highlights for you:

  • They’re portable.
  • They’re simple.
  • There’s a wide range of exercises you can do with them.
  • They’re great for cardio and/or resistance training.
  • They’re awesome for building all-around strength.
  • They can improve your balance.
  • They can help you build core strength.
  • They can help you build your grip strength.

Are they sounding like the magical unicorn of workout equipment yet?! Well, they kind of are. However, like anything — insert your own kill-joy music here — there are a couple of drawbacks.

One, they can get spendy, depending on the weight you want to use. This is especially true if you need more than a couple of kettlebells, depending on the exercises you want to do and your fitness level. Also, once the pandemic hit, kettlebells got real, real popular, so they can also be difficult to find.

A couple of options that might help are shopping at your local Play It Again Sports, if you have one, or splitting the cost of the kettlebells with friends. AJ found some kettlebells later on during the pandemic and was kind enough to share one with Hillary. Hillary has done nothing to reciprocate because that’s the kind of stone-cold bitch she is.

Wait, what were we talking about?

Oh, right. Kettlebells.

Anyhoo, another option is to purchase a dumbbell and then get one of these contraptions. Dumbbells tend to be a little cheaper, and that gripper do-hickey is really handy. Hillary swears by hers (which again was a gift from AJ and … you know what, we’re not gonna go there.)

Also, once garage sales start up again, you can sometimes get a sweet deal on some kettlebells. Or check out Craig’s List or Facebook Marketplace.

Oh, also, theoretically, you can make your own kettlebells. However, as AJ and Hillary discovered, that’s kinda a pain in the ass. And we’d recommend it only as a last resort … or if you’re really bored as the pandemic stretches on. 

What about you? Have you used kettlebells? Any favorite exercises or routines? Give us the dirty deets in the comments.

And check out Further Info and Deets below for some solid workouts that’ll have you screaming “I got my bell, I’m gonna take you to hell. I’m gonna get ya, Satan get ya!”

Further Info and Deets

AJ and Hillary talk about how to pick an accountability partner

Kettlebells 101: How to Get Started + Beginner Kettlebell Workout:

ALL STANDING Beginner FULL BODY Kettlebell Workout / Plus Size, Senior, Disability, Injury FRIENDLY:

Beginners Kettlebell Workout | The Body Coach with Technogym Master Trainer:

20-Minute Kettlebell Workout | Class FitSugar:

50 Of The Most Effective Kettlebell Exercises For Your At Home Workouts:

The Ultimate Kettlebell Workout (Kettlebell Khaos) This is pretty advanced, so be warned:

Episode 20: Go Out and Get Yourself One of Them There SMART Goals

brown bear stretches in the water
Maybe you want to get more flexible in 2021. … Give us a break, OK? It was hard to find a decent free stock image of goal setting. Our goal in the new year is to have this podcast thing make us some money so we can pay for shit like fancy stock art.

Here we are, just days into the brand-spanking-new 2021. So, we’re assuming that you, like Hillary, have already shelved your New Year’s resolutions and are eagerly anticipating trying again in 2022. …

No! Wait! That’s not how a rousing, hope-filled, educational blog post about goal setting is supposed to start out!

Fine, fine, fine. We’ll try this again.

It’s a brand-spanking new year, filled with hope and promise. And after a rough 2020, maybe you’re ready to set some resolutions so you can become the best version of yourself.

Sure, there are plenty of nay-sayers who will tell you resolutions don’t work and that most people who set out to lose weight or get healthier or save money will fail before the month is even out.

But you’re not most people. … OK, maybe you are most people. But still. There’s nothing wrong with setting goals. And with some planning and a little foresight, you can set goals that are achievable.

Much has been written about setting SMART goals, so we won’t flog that dead horse — SEO be damned — other than to define the term.

SMART stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable 
  • Relevant 
  • Time-bound

SMART goals are helpful because they require you to think through your goals. For example, saying you want to lose weight in the new year is pretty vague. But saying you want to lose 25 pounds gives you a target to shoot for. 

From AJ and Hillary’s own personal experience, it’s helpful to consider what pitfalls you might encounter as you try to reach your goals. 

If you want to lose weight or exercise more, what happens when you’re tired or you’ve had a bad day or something unexpected pops up at the last minute? How will you handle those challenges and setbacks? 

And if something delays or derails your progress, how will you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and tell life that she hits like a bitch? YMMV (That’s how the cool kids abbreviate “your mileage may vary.”)

Also, not to rip off anyone’s ideas, but Forbes did a nice article about alternatives to resolutions. The tips are worth considering. (That’s what she said. No, Hillary did not resolve to be more mature in 2021. No need to thank her.) 

What about you? What have you found to be helpful or hurtful when it comes to New Year’s resolutions or goal setting in general? Give us the dirt in the comments!

Further Info and Deets

AJ and Hillary talk about how to pick an accountability partner

Episode 19: It’s a Hot Mess Filled with Vision Boards, Embracing the Suck, and Somehow Also Gratitude

Pile of old tires
Now, imagine that these tires are also on fire. That’s what Episode 19 is like.

You could argue that every episode that AJ and Hillary release is a hot mess. And you’d have a valid point. And yes, they frequently warn that an episode has “gone off the rails.” … We don’t really know where we’re going with this, other than to note that Episode 19 is no different, except for being a tire fire on steroids.

Yet despite their often-incoherent ramblings, AJ and Hillary did manage to hit on a few points of interest, and — dare we say it? — occasionally even managed to be pithy and a smidge philosophical. Trust us: No one was more surprised by this than AJ and Hillary themselves.

Here’re the highlights of what these two weirdos discussed:

Vision boards: These popped up about a decade and a half ago thanks to the book “The Secret” and it’s “law of attraction,” wherein like attracts like … or some bullshit like that. Hillary had a traumatic vision board work experience that crushed the tiny remainder of her soul and so mostly pooh-poohs them. But AJ remains a proponent. 

Allow us to “womansplain.” a vision board — sometimes called a dream board — is a visual representation of what you want to manifest in your life. Usually, it’s poster-sized and has cutouts of magazine pictures and words and phrases. Depending on how hippy-dippy you wanna get, it’s supposed to be your way of “putting out into the universe your deepest desires.” Most science debunks it or warns that it can be harmful.

But with a lot of things of this nature, it probably depends on your expectations and how you use it. If you just want something that’ll help you organize your thoughts about where you’d like to go in life, it’s probably not the worst thing. But if you don’t make an action plan for what you want to achieve or get overly enmeshed in the outcome, well, that could be problematic. 

Embracing the suck: Although the phrase has its origins in the military, it’s also useful for us civvies. 

This article was a little vague on specifics, but it offered an interesting take on the suck: “It’s a very Buddhist concept. When we deny what reality is giving us, what is really happening, then we create suffering. So life is a dance between minimizing expectations and surrendering to what our lives actually reveal to us.”

Which is to say that most of life — goals, relationships, careers, your health — will have an element of suck. And that’s OK. You don’t have to wallow in the suck. But you can be honest about it with yourself, how it makes you feel. Sometimes, you can ride out the suck, and sometimes, you just have to sit with it. Either way, the suck’s gotta be addressed.

There’s a tendency to give in to toxic positivity when things get hard. And while having a positive outlook is generally helpful, minimizing or dismissing negative feelings is not.  

Gratitude and Goals: Despite it being an absolute shitstain of a year, both AJ and Hillary managed to find that there was, surprisingly, a lot to be grateful for. 

For AJ, it was surviving with her husband and her animals and that her family, despite multiple COVID scares, stayed mostly healthy. She was also grateful for completing NaNoWriMo again and — are you sitting down? — starting this absurd little podcast with her frenemy. (Yes, Hillary is still in shock. Please think of her during this … really weird time.)

Hillary was grateful for her dog and her husband, who managed to fight off the plague, despite being as sick as she’d ever seen him. She was also thankful for the opportunity to work from home and for all the little moments of truth and wisdom that popped up over the course of the year. Yeah, the year sucked donkey balls. But if it had been a regular year, she wouldn’t have had to be attuned to all the quiet little moments of bliss that still managed to happen.

For goals, Hillary is making 2021 The Year of Health and will drag AJ — and you as well, dear reader/listener — along for the ride. She’s also got plans to hack her emotional shit, so watch for more about that because there’s sure to be some podcast fodder there.

AJ’s looking for the podcast to make Oprah-type money (fingers crossed!), all while getting her novel or novels published and losing 60-ish pounds. 

So, yeah, as promised: Tada! A hot mess. But thanks for sticking with us this year and sharing our crazy fuckery with friends and family. We hope to continue to drop wisdom nuggets on your face, all while making you laugh at our antics.

Now, tell us what you’ve got in store for yourself in 2021. We wanna read some inspiring comments!

Further Info and Deets

AJ and Hillary talk about how to pick an accountability partner

This man is Hillary’s spirit guide.
Entertaining and inspiring. Stop that. Stop that right now.

Episode 18: The Holiday Special

Stuffed gnomes in some kind of winter scene
Is this a lame holiday photo? Yes. But if you can find a free holiday stock image that’s also funny, please, be our guest.

“It’s the mooooossssssst wonderful time of the …” 

You know what, Andy Williams? Shut it.

Fiiiiine. That’s a little harsh. Bah humbug. 

But you gotta admit, even if you love the holidays, they can get a little … tense. And in a year when there’s been a global pandemic and whole lotta political shenanigans, time spent with your family — even if it’s just a Zoom group chat — could get awkward.

But even in the best of years, the holidays are a recipe for stress and frustration, and your physical, mental, and emotional health can take a hit.

The thing is, in all likelihood, we know what we should do when it comes to the holidays. We should practice mindfulness, we should focus less on the perfect gift and more enjoying time with our loved ones, we should get rest, we should stay hydrated, we should limit our holiday indulgences, we should go easy on the booze.

The reason we probably know all this is because it’s basically the same advice that health experts give for just, you know, living our lives the other 10-ish months of the year. 

So, our gift to you this season is to not pile on with another holiday to-do list. Maybe just give yourself a little more grace than you usually word — and do the same for others.

The reason we probably know all this is because it’s basically the same advice that health experts give for just, you know, living our lives the other 10-ish months of the year. 

Oh, and here are two other gifts for you: Holiday cocktails. 

Yes, we know we said go easy on the booze. We’re not encouraging you to chug 37 of these after Uncle Ted goes on another racist tirade. But sometimes, a little cup of holiday cheer can make the holidays at least seem merry and bright.

Dashing Through the … Whoa

  • 4-6 ounces honey crisp apple cider
  • 1½ ounces good quality bourbon or rye whiskey
  • 3 dashes black walnut bitters

If drinking warm, combine all ingredients in a microwave-safe mug and nuke until hot but not boiling. If serving cold, combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker, and shake until combined. Pour cocktail over fresh ice, and garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Keto Cocktail: The Dirty Snow Martini

Add all of the ingredients except olives in a mixing glass. Stir until very chilled, usually 60-90 seconds. Strain the drink into a chilled cocktail glass. Add olives on a skewer or drop them into the bottom if a skewer is just too much effort.

What’s your go-to survival tip for the holidays? Gift us with your knowledge in the comments!

Working Out in a Winter Wonderland

two women at a snowshoeing event
Obviously, fashion is a HUGE part of winter outdoor activities.

NOTE: The accompanying podcast will drop a day earlier than usual, so watch for it on Wednesday, Nov. 25. That way, you can be on the lookout for all the Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals on the gear we mentioned because you know you’re gonna wanna do alllllll the winter activities. 

It seems that some of you are under the extremely misguided — maybe even dangerous — misconception that summer is somehow the best time to get outside for a workout. 

Now, we’re not going to speculate as to why you’re so profoundly broken or why your parents raised you wrong. But we are here to tell you why winter is by far the superior season for outdoor activities.

Consider the following: 

  • Cross Country Skiing: Who doesn’t want to glide peacefully across a pristine meadow filled with freshly fallen snow while your skis make a gentle, relaxing “swish swish … swish swish” sound? What’s that? Doesn’t sound “hardcore” enough for you? Then what about the 460-600 calories an hour you’ll likely burn? Take that, jogging!
  • Snowshoeing: If you’re not sure you can stay upright on skis, there’s always snowshoeing. Although it’s done at a decidedly slower pace, you’re still burning a metric fuckton of calories, all while getting outside and soaking in some fresh air. Now, we’re not saying you should do any of these activities solely for the calorie burn. There’re a ton of great mental and physical benefits of getting outside, no matter the season. But if you’re deeply disturbed on a spiritual level like AJ and Hillary, well, there’s a good chance you *sometimes* workout just so you can eat more. No judgment, you Judgey McJudgersons. 
  • Back Country Trekkers: These are a little newer on the winter activity scene and are billed as a cross between cross country skis and snowshoes. They’re mostly meant as a way to get out into areas where skis could be a little unwieldy, while also being faster than snowshoes. AJ and Hillary haven’t tried them yet, but they’re looking to rent some this winter, since they are pretty spendy. Watch for more details and a review. 
Yep, that’s AJ and Hillary. Together. Not trying to kill each other despite the elevation.
  • Sledding: Sure, you need the perfect conditions: a goodly amount of snow, a steep hill, someone to pull you up said hill … But this is a fun activity for the whole fam damily, and it won’t cost you a fortune. You don’t burn as many calories as with other activities, but don’t underestimate how strenuous it is to haul your carcass up a big-ass hill. 
  • Fat Biking: We hit on fat biking a little bit in our “BIKES!” episode. As a refresher, with a fat bike, you can typically ride your bicycle (“bicycle! “BICYCLE!”) on groomed snow trails. The pace can be slower than a typical bike ride you might do on more traditional services, like payment or gravel. But the benefit is that if you fall off your bike, you’re a lot less likely to break something … like your head. 

No matter what winter sport you decide to try, you’ll want to keep a few key tips in mind:

  • Pace yourself: The reason so many winter activities burn so many calories is because they ain’t easy. You might be able to hike 10 miles, no problem-o. But that doesn’t translate into being able to snowshoe that same distance. Take it easy, especially when you’re starting out. And fortheloveofalllthatisholy, do some dynamic stretches first. You do not want to be a mile out in the snow and discover you’ve pulled your groin muscle. If you do want to do static stretching, save those for the end after your muscles, tendons, and joints are all warmed up. 
  • Get the Right Gear: Try before you buy. Lots of places either rent or loan gear. Check with your park service for outing dates. And when you’re ready to buy, try Facebook Marketplace, Salvation Army, Craigslist, Play It Again Sports, etc, so you aren’t blowing up your budget before you’ve even seen a flake of snow. With cross country skiing and snowshoeing, your gear will depend on your weight. So, you’re gonna need to have a come-to-Jesus moment about that so you don’t “underestimate” how much you weigh, only to end up chest-high in a snowdrift.
  • Dress for Excess: We go into a lot more detail in the podcast, but the right winter gear will be a huge factor in whether or not you enjoy your outdoor excursions. Try to get the highest quality clothing you can afford. Remember: Layers are your friend. You’re gonna sweat — a lot — so make sure you have a base layer that will wick that moisture away from your body … unless you enjoy feeling like human soup. After that, a mid-weight layer, such as fleece, will keep you insulated as the sweat dries. And for your outer layer, something windproof can keep the cold from cutting through you and giving you the chills. For your bottoms, try for long johns as a base layer underneath some kind of windproof pant. Or opt for snow pants that are lined but not too stiff so they don’t hinder your mobility. Choose socks that are warm but won’t make your feet sweat. Also, avoid cotton materials in any of your clothes; cotton is rotten when it comes to winter conditions. We’ve linked to some of our favorite gear in the “More Info and Deets” section. 
  • Reward Yourself with a Drink: Fiiiiiiine. This isn’t a requirement. It’s just an excuse for Hillary to promote her go-to winter drink: The Hot Toddy.
hot toddy with lemon wheel
You’ve earned the right to be lightly drunk.

Ingredients

  • 1½ ounces of decent bourbon (Buffalo Trace works well.)
  • 2 teaspoons honey (or to taste)
  • 6 ounces water
  • 1 serving of your favorite tea
  • Squeeze of fresh lemon

Directions

Mix water, bourbon, and fresh lemon juice in a microwave-safe mug. Heat until hot but not boiling. Add honey, and stir until combined. Steep tea until the desired strength. Add a lemon wheel or wedge to garnish.

Now let’s hear from you! What winter activity did we leave off the list but shouldn’t have? Shame us in the comments. But not you summer weirdos. You keep that nonsense to yourself.

Further Info and Deets

Check out our “Gear We Love” page for some our favorite pieces of winter apparel.

National Ski Patrol: How To Dress for Winter Outdoor Recreation

REI’s Layering Basics

Bearfoot Theory’s Winter Layering Basics

National Park Service Winter Snowshoeing

National Park Service Cross Country Skiing and Snowshoeing

Some great tips here for what to wear and what to expect.