Jess Ann Kirby sets to stay active in 2018 wearing an Adidas sweatshirt and Nike sneakers
Happy Monday friends. I’m excited to hear about everyone’s goals for 2018 today. For those of you who may be new to the JAKWellness12 you can read about it here. Last week’s challenge was to write down your goals for 2018 (you can see mine here). I mentioned yesterday on Instagram stories that every week when you comment on Monday’s blog post with your progress from the previous week’s challenge I’m going to add your name to a spreadsheet. At the end of the year I am going to do a massive giveaway for everyone who participated (I’ll pick a few winners). So every Monday that you comment with your progress, you get an entry. I hope this encourages everyone to participate throughout the year. I’m also going to do a giveaway each month, again all you have to do is comment every Monday on the Wellness Challenge post and I’ll pick a winner at the end of each month.
As I shared last week, this month’s theme is physical so I recruited my friend Chinae Alexander to answer some of your most asked questions about staying motivated, working out at home, favorite fitness apps and more. I met Chinae this past summer when I went to NYC with Fresh Beauty. She quickly became one of my absolute favorite people to follow on Instagram because of her no BS attitude and ability to cut through the noise of social media to talk about real issues. She’s also really friggin funny. Before we get into my interview with Chinae, here is this week’s challenge/goal.

Week 2 Challenge: 30 minutes of physical activity every day and try one thing that’s new to you.

Remember the goal of this yearly wellness challenge is to set realistic goals that are achievable. So this week get moving. I wrote down some suggestions to get you started but ultimately the goal is to get 30 minutes of physical activity every day AND try one activity that’s new to you. That could be a barre class, a yoga class at a new studio, spinning, even trying a class at home streaming on your Apple TV.

-Take a class (I love barre, cycling, pilates and yoga).
-Go for a brisk walk on your lunch break, leave the phone or put it on silent so you’re focused on the exercise.
-Go for a bike ride (obviously only for our warm weather friends, those of us in the frozen tundra probably not)
-Try an at home workout (see Chinae’s suggestions below)
-Stretch at home when you wake up or before bed.
-Ski, snowshoe, cross country ski, etc. Craig and I got cross country skis for Christmas and it is an INSANE workout. This set from L.L. Bean is awesome.

Chanae Alexander answers fitness questions to help start your fitness journey off right
Meet Chinae Alexander
I am so honored and thrilled to introduce all of you to Chinae. I know some of you already know her, for those of you who don’t she is originally from Texas now living in New York City. Chinae is an Adidas brand ambassador and wellness expert who empowers people to be better through positive thinking, active change, self-love (and a lot of laughter and some curse words thrown in). This is why I love her!

J: I think the number one thing most of us struggle with is staying motivated, particularly in winter when its cold and dark. How do you hold yourself accountable and set goals without feeling terrible if you miss a day?

C: Ah yes, the age old motivation question. For me, it’s about creating REALISTIC expectations of yourself. If you go from working out once a month with a diet of 90% meat + cheese and suddenly you’ve decided that you’re gonna try and work out 6 days a week and eat only green things, you’re probably going to fail….REALITY IS A THING THAT EXISTS. It’s about having a frank chat with yourself and creating a realistic baseline, like 2-3 workouts a week and eating mindfully with 20% breathing room for epic charcuterie platters and a late night taco fiestas after some red wine. Then you can build from there. The one trick is, when you’re creating that baseline, you’re also committing to the fact that there are no excuses to not meet those goals, because you were honest and kind with yourself when making them. And if all else fails, sweating is a great way to trick your body into forgetting that it’s -2 outside…it’s practically like a tropical vacation minus all the fun (but hey, you’ll feel better after…I promise!). Because this is such a common question, I actually created a whole video about it here with some additional tips. 

J: Any advice/tips for newbies to the gym who are intimidated by the machines and people who are wildly in shape and seemingly know everything. Is their a simple routine to get their feet wet?

C: When I started exercising I was 225 lbs and thought the thigh abductor machine (the one you squeeze your thighs together like a vice), was a sex thing. So yeah, I feel you. Here’s the thing about not only the gym or class..but about life; everyone is so self-involved that they are literally not looking at or caring about you. I know we perceive the room staring at us but truly it’s just not the case. If that doesn’t give you a boost of confidence, some knowledge might help too. I found that reading and watching videos about exercise really helped me feel equipped to try something new. Like,  squats for example. Reading and watching videos on form and types of the move helped me feel like I could walk into the gym and give them a try without looking like a total newb. I recommend starting with bodyweight exercises and working your way up to weighted moves. 
Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask questions of trainers or other people at the gym. Remember when I said people are really self-involved? Well there’s nothing that makes people feel better than when you ask their opinion. It’s kind of like the one time on my 10th grade show choir trip to NYC, someone asked me for directions and I felt like I was the coolest person in the world. “They thought I lived here!” This clearly impacted me enough as I am talking about it still like 100 years later in an interview, so yeah, never feel weird asking questions…you might even make someone’s day. 
P.S. I eventually managed to get the courage to try that aforementioned thigh machine…I can confirm it is not a sex thing.

J: Any exercises people can do at work (even at their desk)?

C: I’m lobbying for a law that requires people to get up every 30 minutes, stretch their backs and walk for a minute or two. I’m not sure if desk-ercising should or ever will be a thing but keeping yourself mobile will help your posture and mobility which will better equip you when you do start an actual workout. I think making sure to take a lunchtime 10-15 min walk everyday also majorly helps both body, mind, and probably digestion. So yeah, not sure if you need to be downward-dogging in the conference room but being aware of your body during the day is important. 

J: Any suggestions for great at home workouts? And any tips for working yourself “hard enough” when you’re just on your own?

C: I’m not a trainer so I try to steer clear of prescribing workouts but I think there are a couple things you can do to improve your odds of having a successful home workout. 
1. Have some equipment: dumbbells, kettlebells, and bands are pretty inexpensive and can be tucked away with ease. Having some stuff to add variance to your workouts helps you steer clear of boredom. You can also take bands on vacation to supplement the sh*tty hotel gym.
2. Get dressed. No doing crunches in your PJ’s…dress for the job you want, but in this case the job is a workout.
3. Change it up. Don’t do the same boring thing everyday and change your location. Maybe somedays it’s an outdoor workout, maybe sometimes it’s in your living room, or a run around the city you’re traveling to. I also highly recommend checking out Yoga with Adriene on Youtube..she’s a friend of mine who I met through being an Adidas ambassador and she made at home yoga a totally doable thing for me! 

J: What are some good winter cardio workouts when it’s too cold to run?

C: I would say winter is the time for trying studio classes or finally learning your way around a weight room. Getting yourself excited for a workout can be hard enough, why add the worry that you may lose your nose from frostbite in the process? 

J: Any suggestions recommendations for protein shakes/probiotics/supplements for pre and/or post-workout?

C: I really like Vega chocolate protein powder (plant based) but I also really like steak so it’s a toss up on how I get my protein during the day. I take Tula probiotics and I make sure to eat or take ginger daily for immune health. Other than that, I keep it simple and try to eat my vitamins in a varied and balanced diet. 

J:  Any fitness apps you can’t live without? Any you know of that can track you and your friends workouts to help each other stay motivated? 

C: I am a firm believer in using social media to help keep yourself accountable but also to connect with other people doing the same. So many times I’ve been a sloth in bed on my 5th episode of Black Mirror, opened Instagram and seen my friends post-workout selfie or their healthy lunch and it’s motivated me to do the same. Let me be clear, this does not mean you need to follow a lot of accounts where you are lusting after having their perfect booty or abs, it’s about finding a space online that enriches and motivates you but also where you can do the same for others. You might even meet some of your best friends (like I did!). 
A huge thank you to Chinae for all of her advice and tips this week. Don’t forget to share your progress from last week’s challenge in the comments. I’ve also pulled together a few things I am loving to help you along in this week’s challenge. I am definitely getting this cute yoga mat for at home yoga and stretching. I have both S’well and BKR water bottles for workout classes and to help me drink more water throughout the day. Dress the part, as Chinae said, I love these floral leggings from Anthropologie. Good luck everyone, let’s do this!