My Most Valuable Purchase of 2014…


(just so you know, I totally rock the above look when I workout, I mean who doesnt?!)

Two of my favorite writers/bloggers/kick-ass female entrepreneurs have a little side project known as the B Bar. The B Bar is a wealth of information for those just blogging for fun, blogging for a creative outlet or full-time blogging for their job.  In addition to ebooks about everything from blog design to marketing strategies, Meg and Victoria also write The Well, the B Bar blog full of delicious tips and conversation starters for writers and bloggers alike. This year the ladies have started a monthly blogger link-up. They pose a question to their readers, and if the topic at hand inspires you to write, you and other bloggers whip up a post and join in on the fun! It’s a great way to find new blogs to read and meet new bloggers out there while reading about the same topic from a variety of perspectives. This month the question is:

“What did you purchase in the last year that became invaluable to you?”

This past year, there were a lot of purchases. There was the ultimate France trip “purchase” if you will that was such an incredible trip and learning experience, both on the French culture front and on the personal growth front. I cannot wait to go back! There were clothing purchases, both wardrobe additions that will last a lifetime and items that caused total clutter and closet chaos. But I must say the single most valuable purchase made in 2014 was renewing a 7-year old gym membership. Ugh, I know! The gym! I’ve gone off the deep end. First a post about joining the juicing bandwagon and now this! Forgive me friends, let me explain.

I started working out in college to combat the freshman 15, and fell in love with the gym. I’m a solitary person; I really enjoy my time alone. You wouldn’t think one would find peace and calm in a bustling gym filled with weight-lifting meat heads grunting while they kiss their biceps and the whirl of the treadmill/elliptical/stair stepper in the background, but I did. My greatest joy on Sunday evenings used to be the creation of the perfect playlist, looking up song BPMs (beats per minute) so I could keep my running pace in rhythm to the music. Making sure I had adequate “cool down” music for the beginning and ending of the workout, with the perfect mix of techno, metal and rock for gettin’ my sweat on. Once I had those ear buds in, everything else in the gym disappeared but me and my task at hand. I never looked at the gym as a place to make friends (I mostly dislike working out with someone else) or a place to don my cutest workout gear (it’s old tees from college over here). I looked at the gym as a place of business, and keeping my booty in shape was just an extension of my workday.

Enter 2007 when my husband and I purchased our first home in Virginia. During this time, I was working in Washington, DC with a commute time from door to door of almost two freaking hours. *facePALM* I was so tired by the time I walked to metro-to metro to Virginia- to drive from metro on the worst road in the entire world to home – to drag myself from car into the house….the gym had to give. I ended up purchasing items for a basement home gym. And here’s where the wheels came off of the tracks. I didn’t realize until much, much later what that time in the gym actually symbolized to me. It was “my” time.  There was no one there to run down the stairs to tell me the dog threw up. There was no pile of laundry looming next door in the laundry room. It was my time to take care of myself however I needed to that day, whether that was full on HIIT on the treadmill or an easier day of stretching and breathing.  Having stuff at home was great, but with the couch right next to the treadmill and pups with sad faces wanting to snuggle, the consistent routine fell apart quickly. Laundry, Dinner, Pups, TV…. Everything became a priority BUT that thing that was of most importance to me. I let my health and fitness slide into a full on avalanche.

I had been trying to talk my husband into doing yoga with me for quite some time. We were both doing yoga at home, but after a few trips to a few different studios around VA, there was no comparison. Yoga in a studio is nothing like yoga at home. After making our choice based on location to our home, I found myself back in the gym, the very same gym where I spent so much of my time seven years ago. We’ve been doing yoga consistently three or four times a week, but I’m actually pretty nervous to start up  the weights and cardio sessions again, which is weird. For someone that used to teach others how to use gym equipment, I’ve been out of it so long that I’m scared of looking stupid. I know, I know. The fears are so irrational, and I’m sure as soon as I just make myself do it, it will be second nature again. But the fears are real. I’ve scheduled a “refresh” session with a trainer, more so just to put me at ease. But I guess the point is, I’m starting to take care of myself like I used to, and that’s all that matters.

The yoga has truly been invaluable so far. Yoga isn’t easy. For me, it’s down right challenging. I’ve seen leaps and bounds in both my flexibility over the past few months and in my arm strength. But the major benefit I’ve seen has been in my mental and emotional health. I’m starting to feel like the best version of myself again, and I’m sure after my “refresh sesh”, I’ll be even closer to my mental, emotional and physical health goals. I’m happy to be back at what used to be my second home. Stinky gym filled with treadmill texters…how did I ever live without you?!

If the question posed has inspired you to think about your own purchases last year, keep reading and visit some of the blogs below for a totally different perspective!

Girl in Betsey Glitter & Bow Pretty Much
White Cabana Perfect Enough For Us Modish & Main
Alessandra Marie Luv in the Bubble A Little Leopard
All the Pretty Stars York Avenue PR Blonde
Alyssa J Freitas A Loyal Love The College Prepster
Burlap & Lace Brunch on Chestnut  Average Girl’s Guide
The Yuppie Files Always Anita PR Girl Diaries
Life Modifier Business Betties Cake & Lilies
Little Wild Heart The Not Quite Adult Annie Reeves
Rossetto Lemon Stripes Meg Biram
Victoria McGinley


{image via Ben Travato}

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  • Alessandra Marie
    January 21, 2015 at 9:07 am

    My husband and I do yoga as well (he took a little convincing and now he loves it) so I totally get where you’re at with this post. In fact, I’ve been so into yoga lately that I’m mortified to start running again let alone set foot in a gym. Here’s to hoping! Thanks for such a fun post!

    • Jenn Specketer
      January 22, 2015 at 9:04 am

      Hi Alessandra! I’m actually with you. I love doing yoga so much that I honestly don’t want to start running and lifting again. But sadly the yoga isn’t doing a good job counteracting the food and wine I like so much! How sad to say I run and lift to burn off the vino! But, it’s true! Thanks for stopping by! This link-up was so great!

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  • Bo
    January 21, 2015 at 10:35 am

    No mention of the crossfit phase? For shame! 🙂 At least promise that you’re going to use some barbells at the new gym. Surprisingly, I’ve been trying to remind myself to do yoga at home more. I’ve been playing the haunting Tony Horton yoga DVD’s, and it’s sufficed for now.

    • Jenn Specketer
      January 21, 2015 at 5:44 pm

      Ha! The mostly dislike working out with someone else is with two exceptions – my roommate Sherri in college and doing Crossfit with you. Our version of Crossfit was fun. When I met with the guy at Lifetime just to get my confidence back we decided, just like at the grocery store, I would stick to the outside of the gym – barbells, free weights and your favorite – foam rolling! No bicep or tricep machines. If you get sick of Old Tony and his german potato soup,, let me know. I’ve got tons of other ones you can borrow. Cody’s Yoga for Regular Guys with Diamond Dallas Page is actually pretty decent.

      • Bo
        January 22, 2015 at 9:07 am

        Yeah, I’ve heard of the DDP Yoga. I’ll check it out.

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  • Kerrie M Burke
    January 21, 2015 at 11:49 am

    Eeek! I have been loving following this link – what a fabulous idea. I can’t tell you how many blogs I’ve found that I love and yours is most definitely one of them.

    I’m also really excited about this post as I can relate to so much you’re saying (being a more solitary person, getting enjoyment out of zoning out to music in the gym BUT letting the routine fall by the wayside) and I’ve both been wanting to get back into it AND try yoga for so long but been a little intimidated by it all. Now, I feel like – and this may sound kinda odd – if someone so similar to me can get over the fear and enjoy it then I probably really will too!!!


    • Jenn Specketer
      January 22, 2015 at 9:10 am

      Hi Kerrie! I know, this link-up was great for so many reasons. I’m so glad to have found so many great new blogs and meet the ladies behind them. Thank you for your sweet comments! I won’t lie, yoga was a little scary at the beginning. I’m not flexible at all. But the great thing is, even in a room full of people, it’s still a solitary practice. No one pays attention to you because everyone is so busy working on themselves from both the mental and physical aspects. The sequences become a little intense at times and before you know it, your mind has totally been consumed on getting the rhythm down. The hour goes by so fast. If you give it a try, let me know how you like it. Or if you have any questions about the practice in general, let me know! Seriously, if I can do it, you totally can!

  • Annica
    January 21, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    I moved to Colorado in April and despite having a gym in my apartment complex, I bit the bullet at the end of last year and rejoined a gym as well. It’s amazing the satisfaction you can get out of completely a workout or going to a class and feeding off of the adrenaline of others. I love it!


    • Jenn Specketer
      January 22, 2015 at 9:14 am

      Hi Annica! How are you liking Colorado? My hubby is from South Dakota, so he’s been checking out jobs back that way for a possible move someday. I’ve always been an East Coast girl, so I don’t know how I feel about that. But I hear it’s beautiful! You are right about feeding off of others, I didn’t think about that, but I have upped the treadmill speed a time or two because everyone else around me was flying past my measly 5.0! Even though they are perfect strangers, they still keep me motivated to work out a little bit harder. I love that!

  • Erica
    January 21, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    What an inspiring post! Working out used to be a regular part of my life. Since I found out I was pregnant almost 7 months ago, it’s been much more hit or miss depending on how I feel. I’m okay with it as I’m trusting my body and taking it easy, but I am already looking forward to getting back into more of a workout routine post-birth. It truly does make one feel so much better both mentally and physically!

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      January 22, 2015 at 9:19 am

      Hi Erica! Oh my gosh! You have every right to take it easy now. Congrats on the pregnancy! I didn’t mention it in the post but part of my motivation to get back in shape is because the hubby and I are going to start trying here to start our family later this year. I want to be in the best possible shape all around and already be in some kind of routine, at least as long as I can be. I know my lazy self well, so getting back into now I think will help later one. Good luck with everything! I’ll have to check out your baby belly style on your blog for tips!

  • Victoria McGinley
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    Ok, listen, I know I’m not supposed to judge your invaluable purchase response, but girllll — that France trip beats the gym any day 😉 I remember seeing your Instas and being TRÈS envious.

    That being said, I’m with you on yoga. Yoga is the most restorative thing in the world!

    • Jenn Specketer
      January 22, 2015 at 9:26 am

      Haha! Alright Victoria, you busted me. 🙂 There IS no possible way a gym membership is better than a trip to France any day of the week. I can’t even hate on those extra seven pounds I’m still trying to lose from all of the food and wine! I received some reader feedback that my mentioning the trip in every post since September was getting a bit old so..I opted to write about the gym. I guess I’m still just a tad obsessed with France! It was just amazing, which I know you completely understand!

  • Renay Howey
    January 21, 2015 at 7:16 pm

    Yoga is such a great workout, and I don’t thing very many people appreciate that. Establishing a yoga routine is awesome, I just started cardio myself for the first time after major surgery, and I’m starting a yoga challenge myself at the beginning of February because I want to increase my strength so that I can move onto the weights. A gym membership is so valuable! It gives you that “me time” and keeps not only your physical body healthy, but your mental state too! Yay for you1

    • Jenn Specketer
      January 22, 2015 at 9:30 am

      Hi Renay! My gym did a yoga challenge this past January! I didn’t participate, but you can totally tell the people who are. They’ve improved so much in just the past few weeks..I’m actually kinda jealous! I agree with you too. A lot of people just look at me funny when I say I do yoga. I’ve even had people tell me it isn’t real exercise. It’s a fad. Blah. Blah. Blah. Hmmph! I’d like to see them try to build up the arm strength for wheel (one of my goals) or be able to hold plank pose! Let me know how the challenge goes in February! Maybe I’ll try it the next time my gym has one.

  • Allison
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    So jealous of your trip to France! I know I’ll make it soon, but it can’t come soon enough!

    I LOVE my yoga classes. I love that you can feel solitude and calm in room full of people. It’s definitely helped me sleep better in addition to the benefits of strength and flexibility!

    • Jenn Specketer
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      Hi Allison! France was amazing. We were so busy taking it all in while there, I didn’t actually get the heartache for it until I was home. And now, I just can’t wait to go back. I don’t know what it is about that place. It’s got me hooked! My gym is adding new classes over the next few months, especially in the evenings. Do you do yoga later in the day? Has it helped your sleep in that way? I’ve been wondering if winding down at a class before bedtime would help me.

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    January 21, 2015 at 8:55 pm

    GIRL- SO glad I’m not the only one battling the gym woes! I actually started doing yoga at home about a month and a half ago and I LOVE it- besides blogging, it’s definitely that alone time for me. I feel such a difference already with the way my body stretches and moves. SO great linking up with you!

    • Jenn Specketer
      January 22, 2015 at 10:13 am

      Hi Cassandra! Me too! It’s not like I don’t care about myself as I’ve gotten older. I guess I just care less about what used to drive me. Before I’d hit the gym to fit into my clothes, purely for aesthetic reasons. The mentality was all wrong. Being older now it’s more I want to be healthy and in the best shape possible. And of course I’d love for some of my jeans to fit again…I keep telling myself they will soon! I’m glad you’re enjoying yoga too! Have you found any great DVDs you love? Great linking up with you too!

  • Abigail | A Little Leopard
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    This post might just be the kick in the butt I needed to start doing yoga again – it sounds like just what I need in life! Although, I’ll totally be rocking that outfit…what are you talking about that’s not what everyone wears to the gym? 😉

    • Jenn Specketer
      January 22, 2015 at 10:17 am

      Haha! It is a hot outfit, I can’t deny that! I actually do love those pants. I would totally rock them! To be honest, I get a great workout when I’m walking up and down the steps at work in my heels. I’m usually out of breath! Maybe working out with them would do the same! I might fall and kill myself in those bad boys though. I’ll stick to five inches! 😉 No, yoga is great. I’ve found I’m so much calmer and little things that used to drive me nuts and boil my blood pressure don’t matter so much anymore. So great for perspective!

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    loved reading your response to this link up – so true and inspiring!

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      January 22, 2015 at 10:18 am

      Hi Caitlin! Thank you! I know, this link-up has been great. I’m still pouring through everyone’s posts from yesterday. There’s never enough time in the day… Happy Thursday!

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