Ask Amanda: Aw, She Got the Velcro

Let’s be real: you can get a great workout in whatever junky outfit you have lying around the house.  I’ve had clients come to me in baggy, oversized college T-shirts, flannel pyjama pants, and all manner of odd gear from reflective soccer shorts to collared polo shirts to an actual full-length unitard.

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Actually I’d love it if my client rolled up in this

But let’s be real.  Even though you don’t have to dress like you’re straight off the lululemon runway to work up a sweat, there is something about dropping down into a burpee with perfectly-in-place high-waisted capri or taking a jog in a strappy-but-secure stylish sports bra that makes the whole exercise experience a bit…nicer.

And why wouldn’t you want your sports gear to be damn cute as well?

Already I can hear the snores from the less-interested male clients and hey, you’re right – the selection of red/black/blue shirts and black/grey shorts at your local Big 5 might not be super inspiring, so if you’re looking for more stylish stuff, check out these brands.

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Listen, these men can basically work out in ANYTHING and no one is mad….except maybe put on some shoes, middle guy, sheesh.

But for my ladies, we are in a veritable wonderland of gorgeous, stylish, and somehow still functional fitness clothing at every price point – so let’s embrace it, dammit.  I’ll be the first to admit that I have some fairly wild taste when it comes to gym clothes, but for the sake of this post, I’ll stick to the basics: key pieces I wear every day, and general stuff I think the average fit female would like to wear herself.

Let’s start from the bottom up: shoes and socks.  I am a die-hard, can’t-be-swayed, own-the-same-pair-in-six-colours Nike Flyknit Free fan.  I didn’t always wear minimalist shoes; in fact, for the first eight years of my running career, I couldn’t be swayed from Asics Gel Nimbus (though now if I put them on they’d feel like cement blocks).

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An accurate representation of my current shoe wardrobe

However, my point is this: find a shoe that you absolutely ADORE (you get excited to actually put on, doesn’t cause you pain while working out, and is comfy) and buy it in at least three colors – no, not (just) for vanity, but so you can rotate between the pairs and prevent injury.  So many of my clients wear a single pair of way-too-old shoes to the grave and then wonder why they have shin splints or knee pain all of a sudden.

As for the socks, some simple guidelines: skip the cotton (tend to get soggy and stretch out); go for compression and arch support if you’re running in them; and make sure they’re cut higher in the back to avoid slippage in shoes.  From there, the world is your oyster.  My fave sock picks?

Feetures High Performance Cushion No-Show Tab Socks

Nike Elite Lightweight No-Show Tab Socks

Balega Enduro No Show Arch Support Socks

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For even MORE support, go whole hog with the NEWZILL knee-highs.

Now that we’ve got our feet sorted, how about we talk lower half?  I live in probably one of the most inhospitable running climates on Earth in that it is always hot, always humid, and more often than not, either blazing sun or pouring rain.  For this reason, I favour a nice compression short for lifting and an easy breezy lightweight split short for running. The best of both?  See below:

Affordable compression shorts that you can buy in a thousand colours: either the Nike Pro 3″ Training Shorts or the Cotton On Gym Short.  The high waist, thick band, and tight fit of the shorts makes them stay put on your upper thigh and stay comfortable throughout even a longer workout.  In terms of the running shorts, there is one INCREDIBLE product by Salomon that takes the take – they are literally like you’re wearing nothing at all.  Behold, the S-Lab Light 3 Short (not cheap; worth it):

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Please understand how light, flippy and comfortable these second-skin shorts are.

Onward and upward to the top half of the bod – again, my apologies to those of you with “seasons” as you probably need things like “sleeves” and “jackets” in your life, and I wont’ cover any of that business here.  But again – in terms of dealing with heat, Nike does it again with their collection of well-fitted and ultra-lightweight singlets.  Some top choices?

Nike Breathe Elastika – love the choice to tie up or leave down depending on the day

Nike Breeze Cool – my current count is four; in teal, nean yellow, cobalt, and black

Nike Breathe Tank – like you’re wearing nothing at all…nothing at all…

Should you not be as unilaterally obsessed with the Nike brand as I am, I’d be remiss to not mention lululemon’s amazing line of built-in bra tops (the only brand I trust to actually hold ’em in, if you catch my drift), the standout of which is the Fresh in Mesh Tank that I will eventually own in every colour possible:

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Cutest ever, am I right?

One last note on accessories, despite the fact that I am actually a pretty simple gal when it comes to things like gym bags (whatever I toss my stuff in becomes my “bag”), watches (don’t wear one), and gadgets (I’m definitely not the one to ask about things like copper balance bracelets or knee straps or anything like that) – but I love a good, sporty hat or visor, and my absolute fave are the ones from Headsweats.  Comfortable, performance-oriented, and unbeatable for hot weather whether you’re running, golfing, or heck, just standing outdoors for 4 minutes in Singapore heat:

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This one’s even reflective – great for night runs!

That’s it for my list of raves and faves when it comes to performance gear (special thanks to Nike, Cotton On BODY, lululemon and Amazon for making it even easier to get my fave picks ordered online) – but I’d love to hear what YOUR favourite choices are when it comes to all things exercise.

Tell me, readers – who are YOU wearing (in the gym)?

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SoCal Blogger Society: March Link-Up

So I really want to be a good member of the SoCal Blogger Society, and part of that is participating in the monthly link-ups they sponsor each month – each with a different focus, theme, and set of questions to answer.

This month’s head blogger is Chelsea from Strand Style Fashion, an awesome street style blog with a beachy vibe that focuses on classic style with a laid-back, California twist.

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This month’s topic – Street Style – intrigued me because when I started ThisFitBlonde, the idea was to make this a lifestyle portal focused on fitness, food, and fashion – and so far, I’ve really gone heavy on the former and almost negated the latter (except for my red carpet critiques, of course).

Truth is, I really do fancy myself a stylish person – I have a distinct point of view on fashion and trends and strong opinions about what I wear.  The problem with my life is that I am most often found in some variation of spandex pants and neon tops, and in some state of general disarray (it’s hard to look “street stylish” when you woke up at 5am, got ready in the dark, and taught Spin class for an hour).

Despite all this, I wanted to answer at least some of the questions about my own personal style – and hopefully hear from you readers about your opinions on fashion, too!

What style trends are you loving this season?  I am so obsessed with my Christian Siriano bucket bag it’s not even funny – I feel like it brings class and freshness to everything I wear.  I am also nuts about culottes; I just bought a black culottes jumpsuit and I am dying to put it on.  And if those partial-sheer skirts are still a thing, I’m totally still on that.

What trends do you think you’ll pass on for 2015?  I cannot stand flatforms, pastels, or gingham.

Who is your style icon?  My mom!  She showed up to my house this past weekend wearing a shirt I had just bought – and she’s 30 years older than me!  I definitely look to her for ideas on how to make trends by “shopping” my own closet, and how to stay fashionable and relevant no matter your age or budget.

What are your favorite trends in “fitness” fashion?  Believe it or not, there is good style to be had within the confines of the gym walls – and I absolutely hate seeing women come in with baggy T-shirts and old sweats.  Up your game, fit people!  Even if you’re addicted to wearing black in the gym, you can change it up with cool cutouts, backless or mesh styles, or really crazy-printed pants.  And the gym is the one place it is still acceptable – and in fact, really cute – to play matchy-matchy.

What are your favorite places to shop?  Those of you who know me know that I can’t pass up a good bargain – and I love to make inexpensive pieces look sharp and on-trend.  Besides the outlet malls (at which I love J. Crew, Adidas, Kate Spade, BCBG, and Neiman Marcus Last Call), I love shopping at Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, Old Navy, Forever 21, Zara, and even Burlington Coat Factory – don’t knock ’em till you’ve shopped ’em!

Bloggers (and yes – readers!) – it’s your turn – leave your answers to these questions in the comments, or reblog them and link back to me so I can read your style insights!  Happy shopping!

Where Do You Shop & What Do You Eat?

I showed up to a private client’s home today and after a few minutes of punches and kicks (yep, we were boxing), she stopped dead and asked me:

“Where do you shop and what do you eat?”

It was an honest, if charged, question – and it made me think.  Where do I really shop? oatmealshop What do I really eat?  What am I willing to disclose about both of these habits (and yes, I definitely consider shopping for exercise clothes a “habit” of mine)?

I mean, you think it would be simple enough to answer – but it got me thinking about what I consider my “staples” – both of fashion and food – and I wanted to share them with you, my faithful readers, should the rest of you have the same questions.

If I had a million dollars (if I had a million dollars), I’d probably shop 99% of the time at lululemon*.  Let’s be honest – their pants do for your legs and buns what the Wonderbra did for boobs in the 1980s, and their prints, cuts, and styles are at the absolute forefront of fit fashion.  I have a great deal of lulu stuff, mostly pants, although I have been known to splurge on the occasional jacket, built-in bra top, and headband.

That said, I am not in fact a millionaire, and so I do about 40-50% of my activewear shopping at Old Navy.  Whereas many women my age used to scoff at Old Navy, convinced their clothes were shapeless and low quality, I have turned many of the former haters onto the “dark side” of amazing savings and high-quality workout clothes at the O-Nave.  If you haven’t poked around their site in a while, it’s worth your time – and believe me, the sales and prices you can get are unmatched anywhere else (even Target).

Speaking of Target, I put them in my “filler” category – meaning if I can’t get a quality lifetime staple from lululemon or a low-cost trendy piece from Old Navy, I “fill in” my wardrobe with stuff from Target C9, Marshalls/TJ Maxx, Lucy, Under Armour, NIKE, Adidas, and even the occasional Puma.

Lest we neglect some of the cutest workout wear out there, I used to be a subscriber to both Fabletics (Kate Hudson’s apparel company) and Ellie, two of the best sources for new, creatively-designed active apparel.  I couldn’t sustain the monthly memberships to these fine resources, but rest assured that they are awesome and really well-made.

And now, onward to food.  What does a typical day of eating look like for me?

Well, I start almost every day with eggs or egg whites – hard-boiled if I’m on the run, scrambled in the microwave if I get a spare second.  If I know I have a long stretch of work ahead (i.e. like yesterday, where I went 6am-noon straight with no breaks), I’ll have a big bowl of oatmeal with a banana, flaxseed, cinnamon, and peanut butter stirred in to make sure I have the energy to get through.  Sometimes I do Bulletproof coffee but I can’t say I’m religious about it.

Once it’s time for a snack, I go for one of three combinations – an apple/pear with cashew butter, pitted Medjool dates with peanut butter, or 2% plain Greek yogurt with a Quest bar crumbled in.  These high-fat or high-protein snacks keep me going through the midday since I rarely have a proper “lunchtime,” so to speak.

If I do get to sit down and enjoy a lunch, it’s usually leftovers (whatever I made the night prior) or a salad of arugula, tuna, goat cheese, chopped apple, and walnuts, tossed in olive oil and lemon juice.  Again, real “meals” at lunch for me are rare.

For dinner, if you guys follow my Instagram you know it’s coming three nights a week from Blue Apron!  I love cooking with new, fresh ingredients and getting new ideas for healthy and tasty meals, so I’m a devotee there.  But I almost always cook for dinner – rarely does a night go by when we do “lazy dinner” (canned tuna, chili, or pasta) – I make it a point to cook fresh meals for myself and my fiance, and I think it’s a crucial part of our commitment to health and wellness in our own home.

But wait – doesn’t she ever have a sweet treat?  Yes, of course – but I only keep dark, dark chocolate in my house.  I used to keep ice cream, cookies, or other “indulgent” treats and promise myself I could portion them out appropriately – but after hundreds (thousands?) of failures to do just that, I gave up – and I don’t allow those foods in my home anymore.  I can control myself around a square of dark chocolate; I can’t around a creamy pint of Chunky Monkey – so I “block” myself from bringing it in the house.

Where do you shop (for activewear) – and what do you eat regularly?  Tell me

*you should know that during the writing of this post I actually went over to the lululemon website and purchased a jacket and pants.  #addict

Sunday Special: On My Radar

I swear my brain is programmed to desire shopping more during the holiday season.  We’ve been indoctrinated from a young age that the holidays are for gift-giving, and with Black Friday less than a week away, my urge to shop is rising.  And I’ve been giving in.

Case in point?  This weekend brought mini-splurges at the Bella + Canvas sample sale, a friend’s Chloe + Isabel show, and even Bed, Bath & Beyond (where I found this amazing hashtag light-up sign for the wedding!).  Sigh.  Who am I to fight the power of the season?

That said, I haven’t done an On My Radar post in a while, so here we go – a special holiday edition of OMR – perhaps more like a Dear Santa?  Enjoy!

Is there anything more calming than the scent of chamomile?  I was recently tipped off to an amazing eye makeup remover that smells of it, and I am now obsessed with slowly making every scent in my bathroom include some hint of chamomile (even better: with honey!) by the end of the year.  Come to find out – the Body Shop has a whole line of the stuff, in varying levels of intensity.  Just say ahhhh…..

I’ve gotten so used to my old, stinky, black gym backpack that I forget there are actual cute, stylish options out there.  This one is deceptively glam, with a Birkin-bag look and amazing functionality (yes, it actually holds a water bottle, gym clothes, and shoes in there!).  I have no idea how much shipping would be as this one’s only available across the pond, but dang, is it nice to look at.

I’ve been really hooked on this metallic teal eyeliner I’ve been wearing lately, and it’s got me thinking: what other colored eyeliners would really pop?  Cue the Dior Addict-It liquid eyeliner in hot pink – I am pretty sure I need it, whether I layer it with black (the subtle way) or lay it on thick across my eyelids (the Manda way, let’s be honest).  I found it once at Sephora but haven’t seen it again since, and I fear it will be discontinued before I actually get up the courage to bite the bullet.

Of course I love jewelry – my favorite mug (given to me by a dear friend) reads, “Accessories are Necessities” – and it’s true!  But what I don’t have is the perfect simple-yet-statement necklace that is versatile (gold-plate goes with everything!) but creative enough to actually make a statement – oh, and did I mention it’s cheap to boot?  This is a total find and would be adorable for any world traveler – or those with world traveling aspirations.

If any of you out there reading are my personal training clients, you know I love me some Bosu.  The Bosu (which for the rest of you is that weird half-ball thing you see floating around gym floors) comes in one color: blue.  That is, until recently.  They introduced a beautiful hot pink one (priced almost 50% higher than the original, natch) to raise money for breast cancer research and as soon as I saw it, I knew I had to have it.  Who wants a plain ol’ blue Bosu when you can have PINK?!?!  I mean, come on.

I just realized that pretty much everything I’ve posted here is either a beauty or fitness product (what does this tell you about my life?).  Let’s break the mold here with something really wild – home decor!  Ok, maybe not so wild.  And I just realized that I already have the map theme established with the necklace above – but whatever, I love maps.  And this Cost Plus 6-Canvas Map Set is such a cool way to display a map in your home without looking cheesy or overdone.  I can totally see it on the massive white expanse that is our living room wall.

And finally – the piece de resistance – even though I just bought two amazing pairs of sneakers from the Adidas outlet sale, I can’t get my mind off the sweet sweet kicks that are Nike Flyknit Free 3.0.  They just look so dang light and socklike, yet still functional and appropriate for both work and looking awesome on the street.  One day I will have you, my pretties (and hey – they’ve already marked down from $140 to $99, so anything can happen).

That’s my Christmas list in progress, guys, but I’d love to hear what you’re looking for this holiday season!

What’s on your Dear Santa list?  What can’t wait for Christmas – i.e. what’s on your Black Friday list?