Saturday, November 30, 2013

Blogvember Post Thirty: I Did It!

One post a day for thirty days! WHEW! The craziest streak I've ever participated. Yes, that says a lot about how lame I am.

Moving on.

Now that Thanksgiving is over I am in full-on freak-out Christmas mode. Every year since we've had the girls I have been making photo gifts for the girls' great-grandparents. It is A LOT of work. Mostly because I wait until so late to even start loading our family photos in to Shutterfly, so I have to organize, upload, then organize. UGH. With four good solid chunks of work I finally am at the point that I am almost done with the photo book and have made the Christmas card. I have to let go of my perfectionism with these projects otherwise they would never get done. Luckily, I have realized with this (and many, many other things) that good enough is juuuuuuust fine. 

Here's what I came up with for this year for the card:

Not too shabby, huh?

I love Shutterfly (and I only WISH they were paying me to say that!). I have used them for every card, photo book, calendar and print for years and years now. Their customer service is fantastic, too.

Yesterday Matt and Eloise put up the tree all by themselves. We have a fake tree, so putting it up means assembling it. They strung the lights and decorated it, too! I literally didn't touch a thing. It was a Christmas miracle! And you know what??? It looks every bit as good as every tree I have decorated, so clearly, this is a good project for me to loosen up my type A tendencies and let someone else take the reigns. I was out at Black Friday sales in the afternoon while they did this. I don't go crazy, but I do love to peek around in Target and see what they have. I typically just get a few little gifts. This year I spent less than $45 total and got a game, jammies, ornaments, and a shirt. 

Yes, we still have the green lights that I bought in haste a couple of years ago. 
Blech. Next year we get a new tree and new lights! 
Looks like my holiday Starbucks cup made a cameo there, too. 

Today Matt and I took the girls and a friend of Iris's to the pool. I typically hate going to the indoor pools with the kids because I have low tolerance with the fighting, splashing, crying, and cranky whistle-blowing lifeguards. This time we went to a pool I use to swim laps at, but haven't been to in a while. It wasn't very busy so I very lazily swam a few laps and it felt so good. I really need to get back in to swimming. 

Tomorrow I will braving the elements to volunteer at the Seattle Marathon. This will be my first official volunteer gig at a race. I have worked other races before, for compensation, but never as a volunteer (I am stingy with my time, yo). If you're reading this on Saturday night, and are running tomorrow, look for me in the finisher's area so I can tell you how awesome you are! It is supposed to be in the low 50s, raining, and windy. UGH. When I saw that forecast I thought, oh wow, for the first time I am SO GLAD I didn't train for this marathon. How awful is that going to be for those poor runners?! Wait, and me! At least I will have my layers, I suppose. 

So, anyways, thanks for sticking with me through my blogging journey this month! You might not hear from me again until after the holidays at the rate the chaos is picking up! If you are so inclined, feel free to follow me on instagram at sybilrra

Have you ever streaked? 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Blogvember Post Twenty-Nine: Be Ridiculous

For our second-to-last Blogvember post we were asked to write on the prompt "Be Ridiculous". If you knew me, you would know that if there is one thing I don't like to do, it's acting ridiculous (at least, not on purpose). I am definitely one of those "serious moms" who feels like there is a right and wrong way to act in public, and I get easily embarrassed, or upset, if my family isn't in line

That said, I definitely can appreciate that kids, well, thrive on being a little ridiculous. They love being loud, and silly, and singing songs and dancing in the aisles at the store. At least my little girl does. My older girl is definitely turning in to me in the sense that she now get embarrassed more easily if someone in her family is calling attention to her/us with their behavior. 

Fortunately my girls have a dad who likes to be pretty ridiculous with them. While I often want no part of it, I certainly can appreciate how much they all enjoy it. I might just run off and hide, though!

When I was little my dad was a lot like my husband is now. I had the dad who would play with a group of kids when other parents wouldn't. I felt like it was pretty darn awesome that the fun dad was MY dad. 

So now I rarely participate in being ridiculous, unless it's in the privacy of my own home and involves belting out some Taylor Swift lyrics along with my sweet dance moves. And that's just fine with me. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Blogvember Post Twenty-Seven: Great Wolf Lodge!

Yes, this is another off-topic post for Blogvember. 

My family just got back from a really fun trip to Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound, WA. I have put off going to GWL for a long time, mostly because I thought it was really expensive and was probably just incredibly obnoxious and not worth it. Then I started to hear story after story of families who went and had a lot of fun-- and not just the kids having fun, but the grown-ups, too. Hmmm. I looked in to it and got a discount code and booked us an overnight on a Monday night-- it made the rooms cheaper and I hoped it would make the place a little less busy. 

I booked the trip several weeks ago, but we decided not to tell the girls about it until about 24 hours before we left. They were, of course, really excited!

Checking in at Great Wolf Lodge.

The lobby all decorated for the holidays.

We got there on Monday around 2:00 and luckily our room was ready (official check-in isn't until 4:00, but you can go early and use the water park). We played in the water park until we were ready to eat our "senior citizen dinner". We got ready to go to dinner at one of the resort's restaurants at 4:30. It was a wise decision as it took forever for the food to come (or maybe it just felt like forever), and the restaurant filled up quickly. Finished eating at 6:00, played in the arcade for a while and then headed back to the water park at 7:00 and left when it closed at 9:00. A quick stop for ice cream, then a round of showers and a snack and we were all in bed by 10:30-- which is SUPER late for us!

Hamming for the camera.


The next morning we were up and to the waterpark right when it opened at 9:00am. We played there until 3:00pm. Check-out time was 11:00 so I loaded up the car with our gear, got a locker for our change of clothes, and we were good to go for the rest of the day! 

The wave pool.

View of the rest of the water park from the same spot I took the picture above.

The front side of Fort Mackenzie. If you stand in this spot an 1100 gallon bucket will dump water on you.

Eloise under Fort Mackenzie. 

Matt and Iris finishing a ride on River Canyon Run. 

The girls had an absolute blast. I am sure their only complaint would be not getting to stay longer or not getting to go to the spa or play Magiquest. I am a little bit of a cheapskate, so I wasn't excited about the idea of paying a bunch of extra money to go there and then spending a bunch more on other activities. Staying one night meant we were more than busy enough just doing the water park. If we had stayed two nights I might have shelled out more for other activities. MIGHT. 

Eloise crossing the lilypads.
The stairs up to the big water slides. Got quite a workout going up these so many times! 

The basketball part of the pool. 

Eloise surveying the scene.

The surprising part was that Matt and I also had a great time. We felt like everything at the resort was run really well. The room was average sized and clean. The resort amenities were plenty, the restaurants we tried were decent and not overly priced. In fact, the only thing I found to be over-priced was the in-resort Starbucks. The drinks were more like airport prices. Annoying, but obviously you could stay away if you were so inclined. The line for the Starbucks on Sunday morning was long, I waited about 15 minutes, but that was the worst of it. Going to dinner early meant we got seated right away. Bringing a lot of food from home meant we had healthy-ish snacks available when we needed them. It was definitely money well spent.

We are definitely looking forward to going back again!

Have you ever been to Great Wolf Lodge?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Blogvember Post Twenty-Six: Another OT Post

I was supposed to write about a favorite teacher for this post. I know for sure that I have had some exceptional teachers growing up, but I don't remember too many details about them. Surely not enough to write any sort of blog post. 

Instead, I wanted to post another workout update. Woo Hoo!

Lately I always start my workouts with some rower or elliptical (but usually the rower). I used to do a HIIT workout of 2 minute warm-up then 3 rounds of 1 minute hard/2 minutes easy then a 1 minute cool-down after the last easy. Now I am enjoying a bit shorter intervals: 30 seconds hard/90 seconds easy.

My gym workouts have been just a little shorter recently because I have a huge series of physical therapy exercises I also do at home. 

A few recent workouts:

*12 mins HIIT on the rower
*warm-up stretches
/*3 sets of 4 chin-ups with the purple band
\*3 sets of 8 Romanian deadlifts (pretty much just like a regular deadlift, but you don't go down as far)
*3 sets of 10 torso twists on the cable machine
*3 sets of 8 lat pull-downs on the cable machine

*20 mins elliptical
/*3 sets of 6 knees to elbows
\*3 sets of 8 cable squat rows
/*3 sets of 8 sumo deadlift high-pulls
\*3 sets of 4 chin-ups with the purple band

How to do a sumo deadlift high-pull

*12 mins HIIT on rower
*warm-up stretches
*3 sets of 8 pistol squats
two rounds of:
     *20 back squats
     *20 overhead lunges 
     *20 thrusters
     *10 push-ups

*10 mins HIIT on rower
*warm-up stretches
/*3 sets of 8 dumbbell bench presses
\*3 sets of 8 (4 each side) single-leg hip thrusts
*3 sets of 12 (6 each side) dumbbell snatch

How to do a dumbbell snatch

I have also loved doing the "Dirty 30" and the 100 workout for legs.

Have you done any fun workouts lately?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Blogvember Post Twenty-Five: A Love Letter, to Myself

image from

Dear Self,

You are stunning, and wonderful, and incredibly strong. Oh, wait. I guess I can get a little more realistic.

If I am being honest, self, I would tell you that I love your resilience. Come on, you've been through more crap than you really deserve, and you've come out the other side scarred, but stronger. If there is anyone who can make it through a tough situation, it's you. 

I also love your strength, and while I mean both physically and emotionally, I'll focus on the physical here. I never would have thought that you would grow in to a woman who can run fast and far and who can lift iron over her head.

I love that you are a great mom. Yes, you have your less-than-stellar moments, but you kind of kick ass all around when it comes to mothering your girls. Maybe the very best part about you as a mother is that you are always looking for a way to do better and grow from your mistakes. 

Lastly, I love that the older you get, the more you accept who you are, instead of fight against it or see it as a flaw. You always see there is room for growth, but you keep in focus that growing and working towards becoming the best possible version of you means not losing sight of who you are at the core. 

Love, Me

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Blogvember Post Twenty-Four: Twenty Things I am Grateful For

Twenty things I am grateful for . . . well, this should be easy. There are about a billion things I am grateful for, both enormous and teeny.

I thought it might be fun to mix it up and make a list of a few things that I grateful for at Trader Joe's.

again, in no particular order:

1. candy cane joe-joe's
2. spicy black bean dip
3. cilantro and jalapeno hummus
4. bag of shredded carrots
5. toasted oatmeal cereal

6. popcorn with herbs and spices
7. rye mini toasts
8. lentil soup in a can
9. chicken and cheese tamales
10. pumpkin butter

11. pumpkin frozen waffles
12. organic corn chip dippers
13. pizza dough
14. bags of kale
15. unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Some things I don't eat, but that my family LOVES:
16. wasabi flavored almonds
17. Thai lime and chili cashews
18. roasted seaweed snack
19. mini cheese sandwich crackers
20. baked cheese crunchies

What Trader Joe's products are you most grateful for?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Blogvember Post Twenty-Three: Reverse Bucket List

My goodness. Last night I realized I screwed up the publishing of several of these posts. I guess that's a big "post every day in November" FAIL. This post didn't go up the day I had planned, either. 

Ah, well, at least I tried.

Today we were asked to write a "reverse bucket list". These are things we would have on a bucket list, but have already done!

Sadly, I do not have a bucket list, and I never have. I decided my bucket list would be a mix of huge life-changing events and fun, smaller life goals. So, if I did have a bucket list, and had already crossed these things off of it, here's 10 things that would have been on it:

Crossing an item off my bucket list.

(in no particular order)

1. Have children
2. Have a home birth
3. Get married
4. Swim in the ocean
5. Run a half marathon
6. Go to Hawaii
7. Live in a city I adore
8. Home school 
9. Buy a house
10. Be a stay-at-home mom

What would be on your reverse bucket list?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Blogvember Post Twenty-Two: 10 Places I Would Like to Visit

**whoops! A scheduled post snafu! This was supposed to go up on the 22nd. Taking out my time machine and putting it back there.

I know this will probably make me seem tragically uncultured, but I have never had a strong desire to travel outside of the United States. To this date, I have actually never left the country. I'm a bit anxious by nature, and the fear of the unknown can sometimes be a little paralyzing. Add to that travelling with young-ish kids, and, well, I have never been too gung-ho on the idea.

All of that said, I would definitely travel anywhere, given the opportunity to. Like, if someone said to me "here's a free trip to Spain!" I wouldn't say no. But left to plan something on my own, leaving the country wouldn't be high on my list. 

For the purpose of this post, we were allowed to include places we have already visited in this list, which is good. I'm not sure I could genuinely come up with 10 new places I have never been that I want, at least in the United States.

Napili Beach on Maui. Picture from

In no particular order:

1. Portland, OR (have been)
2. Marco Island, FL (have been)
3. Maui (have been)
4. Austin (never been)
5. San Diego (have been)
6. Kauai (never been)
7. Las Vegas (never been)
8. Walt Disney World (never been)

Okay, I'll throw in two non-U.S. ones:
9. Vancouver, BC (never been)
10. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (never been, and I sort of just picked the one place in Mexico I have heard the most about)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Blogvember Post Twenty-One: Five Things About Me

As I write this, there is a popular meme circulating Facebook where people are posting a list of things about themselves. I didn't participate because the lists I was reading were far, far more interesting than anything I could have spilled! Damn, who knew people had so many stories?!

Anyways, here's 5 really random and not that interesting things about me:

1. I can only snap the fingers on my right hand
2. I have written half of a novel 
3. Black Brach's jelly beans are my favorite candy
4. My favorite movie of all time is Pump Up the Volume
5. I can only blink with my left eye 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Blogvember Post Twenty: Your First Concert

Growing up I was a huge Bon Jovi fan. Huge. I think my obsession started around 3rd or 4th grade, but I really fell in love with them when they released Bon Jovi New Jersey. I was 10 at the time the album came out, and in 6th grade (I turned 11 shortly after). It's funny, Bon Jovi seems like such a mature band to me now, I guess because they are still popular, all these years later (though, sadly, I am no longer a fan).

Anyways, we lived in central Wisconsin at the time and somehow, probably on the radio, I heard that Bon Jovi would be coming to Milwaukee that spring. I begged my parents to let me go, so they bought me and my 19 year old brother tickets, because he, not my parents, would chaperone me to the concert. He also painted a picture of the album cover from Bon Jovi's New Jersey on the back of a jean jacket for me. Of course, I wore it to the show, and I felt very cool!

The concert was at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, which is a huge place. I couldn't tell you a single thing about the show, I am sure it blew my little mind. It was a pretty amazing opportunity for an 11 year old!

Being children of music lovers, my girls have been to plenty of concerts, though I am guessing they will consider this past summer's Taylor Swift show to be their first. It was certainly the biggest! I probably will never tire of reminding Eloise that she did "see" Bob Dylan at the Key Arena in Seattle when she was around 8 weeks old. In hindsight that was an absolutely terrible idea, however, because the concert was really loud. Like, make-your-ears-bleed loud. Who knew Bob Dylan's amp went up to 11?

What was your first concert? 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Blogvember Post Nineteen: First Job

Oh, man, this is getting tiring. I completely forgot about doing today's post until, uh, now. How many more days of this do I have? 

My first job wasn't all that exciting, as I doubt many of them are. I was 16, a Junior in high school, and recently moved across the state to a new city. It seemed like time for me to get a job, so I walked in to the nearest grocery store and filled out an application. I must have been interviewed, the details of which I completely have forgotten about, and then hired. Mostly I was a cashier, sometimes I stocked shelves, once I had to work in the deli when the deli girl was sick. The one thing I remember from that particularly dreadful day was that I couldn't work the scale, so I would just tell the customer, "I think that looks like a pound, how about I charge you $3.59 for this tub of potato salad?" and they would agree. 

It was a funny--and not in the haha sort of way-- job. The grocery store was super tiny-- it was a pretty small town and the store was a mom-and-pop kind of a place. Many of the employees on the nights and weekends were high school students. We were quite naughty. Though I never outright went to the shelf and stuck something up my shirt and walked out the door with it, I definitely "accidentally" didn't ring up things my friends would buy. At the time I didn't think that was as bad as shoplifting, for some reason. 

That job started off what would be a decade of customer service jobs. I eventually moved on to work in several grocery stores, including a Trader Joe's. Turns out, I absolutely hate working in customer service. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Blogvember Post Eighteen: Happiest Moment of My Life

I'm going to narrow this down to a completely specific moment.

This one:

This was Eloise and me on my wedding day. Eloise had just turned two. In the middle of the ceremony she came up to me and asked to nurse. It was a sweet, beautiful little moment, and luckily she was okay with not doing it right then and there, and she wrapped herself up in my dress and hung out for a bit as we proceeded through the ceremony. 

This is perfect for a "happiest moment" because for one brief shimmering point in time, everything was right in my world. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Blogvember Post Seventeen: Favorite Year of Elementary School

One thing about me is that I have a horrible, no good, very bad long-term memory. I honest to goodness can only remember a handful of specific moments from elementary school, let alone an entire year, or years. So I can't even tell you what my favorite year of elementary school was.

Most kids start kindergarten when they are already 5. I started when I was 4, then I turned 5 that October. The only way my parents could do this was to send me to a Lutheran school for kindergarten. They were then able to move me to the public school for 1st grade.

What I mostly remember is that life was generally amazing my entire elementary school career until we moved away from the teeny, tiny town we lived in, to a bigger one a few hours away. The town I lived in was so small it didn't even have a stop light in it. We lived outside of town, in the country, on a county highway. I semi-recently saw a piece of mail from that time in my life, and our street address was only "Route 1". No house number or anything.

We moved to a new city when I was in fourth grade. It just started dawning on me in the last few weeks that I was the same age that Iris is now. Moving was traumatic. I went to a new school half way through 4th grade, then we moved AGAIN half way through 5th grade because my family went from a rental house to a house my parents built. I spent half of a year at that school before moving on to middle school. We all know it's all down hill once you hit middle school. 

I definitely began having anxiety attacks when I was in younger than 4th grade, but it mostly presented itself at stomach aches. My mom always had to pick me up from school. I was miraculously better the second I got home and took a swill of "the pink stuff". I don't remember disliking much about school, though, so I'm not sure what the anxiety was about. 

Once I kept forgetting to have a form signed by my parents, it was something like a form from the teacher saying something negative about my school work. Or something. Anyways, I didn't want to bring it home. The teacher made me pin a note to the front of my shirt and wear it around school, it said something like "remind me to bring my note home and have my parents sign it". That was mortifying. I think I was in 2nd or 3rd grade. 

I had the best friend in the whole world through my early elementary grades. Her name was Sarah. Through the magic of Facebook I found her again a couple of years ago. She is just as hilarious as I remember, which is the coolest thing ever. 

Okay, this was a rambling post, but what do you expect for a blog post a day?

ETA: Shortly after writing this post, the most random, remarkable thing happened. Let me back-track a bit and start again at the time when I moved away from my first school in 5th grade. At the new school I attended for about a year, I met another Sarah, who I quickly became besties with. She was quirky and artistic, like me. We lost touch after a few more moves and new schools. Fortunately, I randomly discovered her on Facebook a while ago when I was going through a mutual friend's photos. We rarely, if ever, interact on FB, but it's always nice to see photos of her family and read about what's new with her. So, after I write this blog post, bringing up memories I haven't thought about in years, Sarah posts a "#tbt" (throwback thursday) photo of me on FB. It is the one below. I was saying goodbye to my 2nd school, moving on to my 3rd school. I was in 6th grade here, 11 years old.

I am almost 100% certain I wearing the jean jacket that my older brother painted the album cover for Bon Jovi's New Jersey record on the back of for me. I attended my first concert that year, and you guessed it, it was Bon Jovi's New Jersey tour. 

When I saw this photo and read her FB post I kept thinking I was making it up. How is it possible that this picture was posted by a girl I don't keep in touch with on the same night I sifted through old memories of this very time? The universe works in grand and mysterious ways. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Blogvember Post Fifteen: Favorite Halloween Costume of Mine

Here is something kind of sad about me: I very, very rarely dress up for Halloween. When I was college (my first college, since I went to two) I had some friends who loved Halloween and dressing up and carving pumpkins and all of that fun stuff. 

That year I made a whole costume with hair done, a crown, make-up, everything. It was so fun and probably exhausted every last ounce of creativity I was ever born with because I never worked that hard on dressing up again.

This was 1999. 

I was a fairy princess. Or something. 

What was your favorite Halloween costume? 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Blogvember Post Fourteen: 10 Pictures

Technically I am supposed to post 10 pictures on 10 past the hour. Um, I am so not talented enough to remember to snap pictures at a certain time all day long. Instead, you just get 10 pictures of a recent day in my life! Enjoy!

(okay, I lied, it's actually from two three days recently. I am terrible at remembering to take pictures!)

This is the grossest sounding, most delicious thing ever.

Flute practice. 

This is what I need to do my PT exercises. A list of exercises and my kindle fire. 
Today's viewing was an episode of Season 4 of Sister Wives. LOVE me some Sister Wives! 

Lunch with my husband at Delicatus. I got the Californian and it was marvelous. 

Homework at the dinner table. We spent gobs of money this summer on a special set of 
desks and shelves and cabinets and peg board and everything to make a studying 
space special . . . but we still do homework at the table. 

Made up a recipe for red lentil soup. Red lentils, onions, carrots, red potatoes, chicken broth, cumin and turmeric cooked all day in a crock pot with spinach and cooked quinoa thrown in shortly before serving. 

Afternoon break. 

A totem pole in Pioneer Square. 

My nine year old and I are reading The Hunger Games together. 
I have already read it, so we are doing one chapter a night and discussing it. 

Morning walk with Heidi. 

So there you go! These are almost all from today and yesterday, except I had to include the photo of the pumpkin pie soda from a few days ago. That stuff is awesome. The coconut flavor of this brand is the very best. 

Have you tried anything lately that you thought would be gross but it was actually really good? 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Blogvember Post Thirteen: An Epiphany I Had This Summer

Ooo, an epiphany?! This summer I had a few, and I can't narrow it down to just one. Likely every day was chock full as I lost my everloving mind had a blast having my kids home all summer!

Epiphany One: Gardening is kind of stupid. I actually don't really like to garden, and I really don't enjoy growing my own food. I get very little satisfaction out of it, and it's a huge amount of work and money. My annoyance doesn't stop with my raised garden beds, it extends to the rest of the yard, too. I want the yard to look pretty, I just hate doing the work. I need to be rich and hire a groundskeeper. 

Epiphany Two: I actually CAN do a flip on the trampoline, if I work at overcoming my fear! I always assumed I couldn't, but then one I day I said I would . . . and then I did! 

Epiphany Three: While I have always hated the fact that two of our bedrooms are in our finished basement, this summer it finally dawned on me-- that is the PERFECT spot for bedrooms! It is quiet, dark, and always cool, even in the summer.

Epiphany Four: Summer camps are the greatest inventions of all time. I never knew that until this past summer.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Blogvember Post Twelve: OT Again

Veering OT again, off topic that is.

I was supposed to write about my first pet. Since I have an absolutely horrendous memory, I don't even know what my actual first pet was. I *think* it was our cat, a Siamese named Ginger, but I don't know for sure. Then I thought I would write about the first pet I owned as an adult, which was my cat, Benjamin, but then I went searching through my blog about pictures and stories of him (how we ended up losing him was one of the most heart-wrenching things I've ever dealt with) and decided it was too much. I couldn't write about him here. Or maybe my first dog, Lily? Yeah, again, it was too hard to bring up those memories when I went searching for photos.

So . . . I will share more workout stuff with you. How's that for skirting any sad feelings?!

Instead, let's talk about pull-ups! Yee-haw!

Remember how I have brought up my favorite piece of exercise equipment, which is a pull-up band, like, oh, about eighty bajillion times lately? Well, here I am bringing them up again! After doing a set of pull-ups err, chin-ups (just discovered today that what I do is a chin-up, not a pull-up) with the thinner band at the gym yesterday I was on cloud nine. I couldn't believe I was able to graduate to a thinner band-- only four reps at a time, but still! I did it!

The band I was using was the green one, it is 1 3/4" thick, the next step up is the purple band, which is 1 1/8" thick. It is much harder to use, at least for me, and I am excited to keep progressing to the point that I can knock out 3 sets of 8 with this one . . . and then move down another band!

My friend Sarah was kind enough to snap these photos in the gym today.

When you use a band, you put one foot in to it, with the band coming around under the bottom of your foot at the arch. Then you wrap your other leg around the front, like crossing your legs. The other leg doesn't go in the band. When I was doing pull-ups chin-ups with this new band I ended up kind of hiking up my free leg to help boost me up to the bar. Hey, it worked! 

You pull up to the bar, then lower yourself. ALL the way. Straight arms people! Then back up! 

When you are done you reach with your free leg over to whatever ledge or bar or box or friend that helped you get up there, then take the pressure off the foot that is in the band by bending your leg, and slip your foot out. Voila!

If you are at the gym with a friend and can't quite get up to the bar with the band, ask your friend for a boost. She can put her hand beneath the foot that is in the band and boost you up a bit. Not enough to launch you in to space, just enough to give you a teeny bit more assistance to get all they way up. 

I wanted to add, I learned about pull-up bands from my trainer, but I bought my own set and carry them to the gym with me every day. I use mine on the cage because it is easy to get set up there, but you can set a band up on any bar that you can get to. To tie up the band to a bar, you place it over the bar and loop one end through the other, like this:

If you don't have access to a band and want to try to work on pull-ups (or chin-ups), another good way to do them is to to do a negative pull-up (or chin up). To do this, you jump and grab the bar, then SLOWLY lower yourself back down. Let the record show, I HATE doing these. 

If you only have an assisted pull-up machine at the gym, by all means use that. The one negative thing about those is that they don't really mimic a real pull-up. They give you constant assistance the entire way, and don't feel the same as going for a pull-up on a bar does. That said, they provide a great upper body workout, and if you aren't quite ready for pull-ups with a band, or negative pull-ups, then use the machine. 

Want more awesome tips about how to work up to a pull-up (or chin-up)? Check out this post on Nerd Fitness, it has a lot of great tips! 

What is your favorite piece of gym equipment?