Category Archives: weightlifting

The little things 

Do you know how I know my husband loves me? Well hopefully more reasons than I’m going to list today, but I’m a sucker for the little things so let’s focus on that today.

Disclaimer: The following interpretation is based on more than 6 years of close observation of a significant other who is the type A+ to my type A-. 

It’s not often that I get a chance to meet Matt at the gym on a workday. He prefers to go earlier in the afternoon and my work schedule limits me to short evening runs around the neighborhood and weekend mornings for maneuvering meat heads at the gym. Occasionally, our schedules overlap and I have a chance to workout at the same time. And by that I simply mean we enter the facility together and leave together with occasional winks and head nods in between. But on the rare occasion I have a chance to invade his gym time, you can almost guarantee I have not prepared a bag to make the transition. That’s where a quick text list of essentials and a thoughtful husband comes in. But not just any husband. One that will make absolutely sure you have everything you could possibly need, whether you are walking into spin class or the Tour de France.

Exhibit A:

Simple enough right? Not for the well-prepared man. Because this man I married will take no chance that I will not have enough supplies in that bag to make it through a light workout, or climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.

  • Here were yesterday’s findings:  
  • 3 pairs of underwear to choose from (because unfortunately I’ve explained in detail several times how workout underwear is different than work underwear which is different than working around the house underwear, amiright girls?)
  • Two sports bras (if you don’t know me intimately I should clarify that I clearly only need one for support)
  • Socks (great addition for the girl that typically forgets those)
  • Spandex shorts, running shorts and wunder under crops
  • Nikes
  • Blue Lulu top
  • Two pairs of headphones
  • 4 hair ties
  • Deodorant (thanks babe)
  • Snacks (nobody wants to make bad decisions in Target following a good workout)

Feeling far more prepared than If I had packed my own gym bag especially in the perspiration area, I walk out of the locker room with a smile on my face and spot Matt doing some crazy exercise across the gym wearing the male version of my exact outfit. Mind you, the outfit he just chose less than an hour earlier.

I give him a head nod. He shakes his head.

Later, I bring up the twinning scenario (one we are all too familiar with) and learn he picked out his outfit even after packing my bag. I giggle and mentally check a point in my head for times my type A+ guy pulled a type A- Sarah move.


A photo posted by Sarah Zalewski (@slmurphy) on

(NOTE: photos is from a previous matching gym trip)



7 things I just I don’t understand

In my life I try really hard to be a compassionate person. Someone who puts herself in others’ shoes before judging them. Kind, generous and the like. But I’ve come to realize that there are just some things even a mean-weller just can’t understand.

Here are just a few of those things:

  1. People who make the extra effort to pull out and carefully place the paper toilet seat covers and then leave the stall without flushing them down the toilet? So now there is physical evidence of yourbutt on that particular seat and you expect me to dispose of it before then using the same toilet? I’ll stick to hovering over anonymous pee drops in the next stallthankyouverymuch.

  2. That in the time it took me to run three miles on the treadmill, these two guys didn’t move anything but their mouths in the weight section. I’m all for small conversation, but let’s get serious guys. I’m really out of shape and you just sat on the incline ab bench talked for 3 straight miles. That’s a Seinfeld episode, the clock-time of half a basketball game and/or a massage at a spa’s worth of chatter.
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  3. Drivers who slow down when they get to an on ramp on the interstate. And we’re coming around the curve going 45 and there’s the merge lane and oh golly, oh golly there’s another car three lanes over. I think I’ll just come to a stop here and wait for everyone else to swerve around my bumper. Should I put it in reverse? No. Justno.

  4. Any version of the following things at the gym: Denim, work clothes, wearing your long hair down, going shoeless and milk jugs filled with water. Are you working out or preparing to water-board someone?

  5. Why for the life of me I can’t remember that my washing machine likes to walk itself in front of the door if I shut it. I’ve now locked myself out of my own laundry room at least 4 times. I wonder how many times I have to do it before I get relieved of my laundry duties?
  6. False advertising. How does one know a neighborhood will be friendly when it hasn’t even been built yet? And last time I checked there was no grocery store or gym in our neighborhood so how the heck am I going to save on groceries?
  7. Affliction shirts. Ohio State fans in affliction shirts. Ohio State fans in affliction shirts and silver cowboy hats in a honky-tonk line dancing.
    ohio state fans, affliction shirts,

I know I’m not the only one out there with concerns that never seem to make sense so I’d love to hear yours in the comments below!

Workout Wednesday: Work out like a dog

Before I got Finn, I had two choices. 1) get a dog who could I could take on runs with me but who may be miserable and hyper throughout the day while I’m at work or 2) get a dog who could nap with me. I chose the latter and ever since Finn has certainly lived up to his side of the deal.

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In the time since Finn came into my life, I have trained for 3 half marathons, a full marathon and several other races. And while he doesn’t go on long runs with me, he’s a heck of a warm-up or cool-down partner. In fact, he’d be great for one of those 3-day fundraising walks if anyone needs a team member. He’ll even carry your stuff if you reward him with carrots. Kid loves himself some carrots.

What was I talking about again? Oh right, working out with your pet.

When the folks at* reached out to me about my exercise routine, my first thought was

Nah. Not me. You guys probably want someone who can actually do a workout with their dog not someone who works out their dog then works out herself or vice versa.

But then they shared a pretty cool infographic with me and I realized one of my go-to workouts already incorporates a lot of the things that my pup does on a daily basis. That and I just really love a good infographic.

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The circuit above is a great opportunity to change up your routine, which is just what I was looking for a few weeks ago when I was at home for a quick visit. In fact, I wish I had seen this before I called up my trainer and asked him for a “quick workout” that day. If I had I may still have been able to breathe afterwards.

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To get started grab a treadmill or a very hot Florida afternoon and complete the following:

  • 3 minute warm up jog (5.5 mph at a 1% incline)
  • 1 mile at a comfortable pace (6.2-6.5 mph at a 1% incline)
  • 30 second sprint intervals for 8 minutes total (20 seconds at 7.7+ and 2% incline, 10 second rest**)
    **you may just have to hop off the treadmill and let it keep running because these go pretty fast

You should complete roughly 3 miles or more depending on your pace.

Immediately following that circuit, grab a mat and complete the following, alternating leg and arm exercises as you go and trying to rest as little as possible.

  • Body weight squats (see infographic for proper form)-20x
  • Pull-ups-20x
  • Walking lunges-20 on each leg (40 total)
  • Push-ups-20x
  • Fire hydrants-10 each leg (20 total and yes you will look and feel silly)
  • Back Extensions-20x
  • Donkey kicks-10 each leg (same position as fire hydrants only you will kick leg up and back)
  • Planks-1 minute

Do this circuit three times, four if you’re crazy. Then throw in a down dog for recovery sake and call it a day.

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* I was in no way compensated for this post but that’s not stopping me from telling you if you have pets and are looking for a qualified person to watch them while you are away rather then boarding them, be sure to check out

Have a great workout!



Workout Wednesday

It’s been a while since I did a Workout Wednesday post so I figured I’d enlighten you today.

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I’m sure you all have been wondering what I’ve been doing with all my free time lately. No? Oh that’s right you probably don’t have time to sit around and consider what I’m doing with my time but lucky for you I’ll tell you anyway.

I’m trying to make a living of this whole housewife thing but in just over 10 days I’ve determined that I really suck at it. The boxes are long unpacked, the cabinets organized and one can only rearrange picture frames so many times before she feels the eyes following her across the house. My name is Sarah and I completely suck at free time. This move has solidified the fact that I am at my best within a tight timeframe. Give me 3 hours before a big party and man can I crank things out. But if I’m faced with too much time on my hands, I can be just about as unproductive as they come.

Now I know I’m barking up the wrong palm tree as I will be begging for days like this when I’m back in the 9-5 world but in the meantime I’m going just a little bit crazy. I have managed to make a few friends at the dog park, though. Human friends for those of you assuming my only conversations are with canines recently (most are).

I do venture out beyond our local dog park each day. I may or may not have visited SuperTarget 3 times in 4 days last week. Not completely out of the realm for normal Sarah but bordering the line of excess. In an effort to curb spending and get out of the house, I’ve been getting to know people at our new gym. I’m typically not one to strike up a conversation during a workout, but when the only responses you’ve had all morning were head tilts and barks, you take what you can get. I suppose the same could be credited for this lengthy blog post as well.

greater swiss mountain dog, finn, swissy, gsmd, puppy,

After several months off from working out with my trainer, I’ve been feeling the proverbial wrath after each workout.  In fact, my triceps and pecs are fatigued just typing on my keyboard and my butt is entirely way too sore for this squishy of a chair.

So today I’m going to take you through a basic ‘warm-up’ that Matt and I do before we begin lifting. I don’t have any pictures because I was too busy trying not to let my legs burn off but it’s pretty straightforward. Try it and you too can get a body like this, farmer’s tan and all!


Start with one mile on the treadmill or 5 minutes on a spin bike keeping your RPM above 100. If you don’t have a display on your spin bike, try to keep your heart rate above 140 the entire time.

Continue your warm up in an open fitness studio or free corner of your gym. Repeat the following body weight exercises without resting:

  • Squats-30
  • Push-ups (use your knees if needed)-10
  • Alternating forward lunges-20
  • Push-ups-10
  • Side lunges-10 each side (20 total)
  • Push-ups-10
  • Ab exercise-1 minute (planks, v-ups, or bicycle crunches)
  • Squats-30
  • Push-ups (use your knees if needed)-10
  • Alternating forward lunges-20 
  • Push-ups-10
  • Side lunges-10 each side (20 total)
  • Push-ups-10
  • Ab exercise-1 minute (planks, v-ups, or bicycle crunches)

Congratulations, you’re ready for your workout now. Or if you’re like me, you’re ready to go home.

And to help out with that post-workout thirst or recovery the next day, I’ve been making my green juice on repeat lately.

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Easy Green Juice

  • 1/2 Banana (frozen or ripe)
  • 1/4 C chopped pineapple
  • 1/2 apple, peeled
  • 1/2 C orange juice
  • Big bunch spinach and Kale
  • 1 tsp honey
  • fresh ginger
  • Ice

Add first 7 ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Add ice and blend. Plop in a fun straw and drink up!

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Have a great workout! I’m off to Target.


Workout Wednesday: Arm Candy

Workout Wednesday really snuck up on me this week. With President’s Day on Monday and, wait for it, another 5 inches of snow, I’m all mixed up with my days.

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all dogs are created equal

Regardless my calendar says it’s Wednesday so we should probably talk about working out.

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When I got injured last year, I had a lot of time to think about the things I wanted to focus on throughout the rehab process. Obviously my ultimate goal was to be able to run again sometime in the near, but farther than I expected future, without any pain. Heck, maybe I could even be healthy enough to run the Champaign half marathon in April like I do every year with various members of my family.

I also wanted to get back to lifting weights. It’s something I haven’t made enough time for when training for a race and something that was a contributing factor to the aforementioned injury. But beyond that whole getting stronger and preventing injury stuff, I really just wanted to get shoulders like this girl I saw on the treadmill one day at my gym.

Pretty sure my exact words to Matt were,

“Hey, what do I have to do to get arms like that girl.”

And once he got back up off the floor from laughing, we started adding some basic upper-body exercises to my weightlifting rotation.

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The exercises I am showing today are meant to be done as super sets, meaning that you choose a lower weight but don’t rest very long between sets. Your goal is to get a good burn and fatigue based on continuous reps versus a higher weight.

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1) Bicep curls

Start with one set of 8-10 reps with at least 20 pounds. I typically use 10 or 15 pound free weights for this but several big burly men were hogging the 15’s on this particular morning so I used a straight bar instead. Also, please don’t mind my random location in the gym. Another guy was hogging the entire free weight area for 30 minutes while he considered deadlifting what was obviously too much weight for him. Instead he just stood over the bar grunting and never lifting it at all. Did I mention this went on for at least 30 minutes?

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2) Lateral Raises

Immediately following your first set of bicep curls, pick up two 5 pound or higher weight plates (or dumbbells) and do 10 reps of lateral raises. I like to call these my anti-Oprah arms. Remember the episode where she showed us all her wings? Burned. Into. My. Brain.

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3) Tricep Curls.

Bending your knees slightly, do 10 reps of tricep curls with at least a 10 pound weight. If I’m not doing super sets, I prefer to use 15’s for this exercise but the goal is to keep your form correct. Try not to arch your back (like I am) and avoid sticking out your tongue (like I am).

Once you’ve completed all three exercises, repeat the sequence three times.

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4) Assisted Chin-Ups

I used to love this weightlifting class called Train Like Jane where we had to do chin-ups without anything under our knees for one minute straight. It was hard. I kind of miss it. In fact I should get back there for a class here soon. But for those days when you are at the gym and doing super sets, having a little assistance is awesome. Make sure you set your weight so you are still doing the work though. I usually put about 70 pounds of help on there. Everyone is different though so try a few reps and then adjust accordingly. 3 sets of 10.

By the time you finish this circuit your muscles may feel like they are about to rip through your skin. Good! That means you did it correctly. I typically incorporate this into my bike days as my running and yoga days have some strength built in them as it is.

Have a great workout!