Create Your Perfect DIY Cycling Workout

1b75c4c87299c2dafd12c8d0380ed18aThis time of year is all about switching up your workouts. Avoiding boredom, making exercise that much more enjoyable, and motivating oneself to keep up with routine all lend themselves to creating new, fun workouts that you’ll be dying to try.

And there’s no reason to leave all workout creation to the pros! Yes, when it comes to weightlifting and strength-training, it may be worth it to invest in an educated trainer. But when it comes to cardio workouts, it’s totally fine to make your own and adjust to your personal preferences.

A little secret for you: those spinning bikes at the gym are perfect for molding your own personal routine. With a variety of sets to incorporate, as outlined below, it’s easy to pick your favorites, set a timer, and go at it!

We’ve included an example routine below, but feel free to swap out what you think you’ll enjoy for your most-motivating, beloved hour of exercise yet!

These are set on a difficulty scale of 1-10; a 1 being an effort you could ride at all day, a 10 being your maximum effort that you can only sustain for a couple seconds. You can adjust this difficulty using the resistance knob on the bike or increasing your speed.  

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Left/Right Leg Isolations
These intervals isolate one leg after another, focusing all your effort into strengthening one leg at a time. To perform these, pick a set amount of time (30-seconds, 1-minute) and shift all of your weight to one leg. Pedal with that leg only for the allotted time you’ve set, then switch.

Hills
Start by increasing your resistance to a 5. Set your timer for a particular amount of time (6-11 minute hills are typically the most effective), then gradually increase your resistance each time a new minute starts. By the last minute of your hill, you should be close to a ten on the effort scale.

Sprints
The best way to do these is to pick a particular pump-up song you love that gets faster during the chorus. Set your resistance to around a 6 or 7 on the difficulty scale and ride at a quick pace as the song starts. When the chorus comes, give it your all!

Jumps
There are three positions on a spinning bike: 1, 2 and 3.

Position 1: Seated, in the saddle
Position 2: Standing, with hands lightly gripping the lower part of the handlebars
Position 3: Standing and leaning over the handlebars, with hands supporting your body at the far end of the bars (furthest from your seat)

Jumps mean switching between these positions at particular intervals, squeezing your core in the process. These are also fun to do to a song with a great beat; counting out 8 seconds, switching from Position 1 to 2 to 3. As the song speeds up, switch to 4- or 2- counts.

Arms and Core
Biking doesn’t have to be all about your legs! Give your legs a little break mid-workout with this arms and core routine. Pick a song and lift your arms to the sky, holding them there for the entirety of the song while squeezing your core. You can either hold them up the whole time, or bring them down to a t-shape during the song’s chorus to strengthen alternate arm muscles.

Have you been to a spinning class? Have you made your own? We’d love to hear your favorite routines, songs, etc.! 

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Slow-Cooker Vegetarian Chili for Busy Days and Cold Nights

Vegetarian_Chili_BowlHave you become a fan of the slow-cooker yet? If not, you may want to try incorporating one into your cooking routine for 2015! It’s truly the easiest, most hassle-free way to cook up a great meal– cut up a bunch of veggies, dump in some spices, turn it on low– come dinnertime, you’ve got yourself a delicious meal ready-to-eat.

Slow cooker meals don’t have to stop at dinners… you can make desserts, warm drinks (mulled cider, anyone?) and more in this fun old pot. They’re perfect for those short on time who still want to dish out some warm, comforting, healthy recipes to themselves and their families.

This recipe for Slow-Cooker Chili, developed by Andrew at the One Ingredient Chef, is filled with veggie goodness. Chock-full of vitamins and nutrients from the vegetables, protein from the beans and tons of spicy, rich flavors from a winning combination of spices, this chili is a guaranteed crowd pleaser.

Try this out today and store for the rest of the week when in need of a comforting, warm meal. :)

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It may seem like a lot of ingredients, but it’s really mostly made up of spices (investing in a great spice rack is one of the best cooking-related purchased you can make, trust us). Feel free to substitute with your favorite flavors, or add jalapeno for a nice, hot effect!

For full instructions on how to make this recipe, see the original blog post!

Vegetarian_Chili_PrepAbout the One Ingredient Chef
One Ingredient Chef is a healthy food blog run by Andrew Olson. His goal is simple: he wants you to become healthier than ever before while cooking the best food of your life. As he says, “The One Ingredient Diet is my simple answer to a world of processed foods. But this isn’t about munching on lettuce! My job is to show you (step-by-step) how to cook deliciously healthy food with only *real* ingredients.”

Connect with One Ingredient Chef
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What are your favorite healthy winter comfort foods? Let us know… perhaps we’ll feature one of your recipes!  

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Showing off our Vegan Bags!

Louenhide Eden BagAt PlanetShoes, we’re constantly sharing healthy recipes to help you make positive choices for your body. Most (if not all) of those recipes include a variety of fruits and veggies, those power foods we’re so passionate about for their immense nutritional benefits and that addicting feeling you get from eating them. For that reason, many of these recipes turn out to be vegetarian… or even vegan!

We may not be totally vegan, but we have a true appreciation for the lifestyle and the health benefits that come with it. That’s why we’ve created our Vegan Shop, for all of those shoes and accessories that help the earth feel-good with their natural, sustainable qualities and lack of animal-based materials.

That said, our Vegan Shop isn’t only filled with great, comfy, adorable shoes… it also contains beautiful, elegant vegan bags that are perfect for the earth and meld with your style! Check out our favorite brands below. Which are you dying to sling over your arm?

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Po Campo
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Sherpani
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What are your favorite vegan bag brands? Let us know in the comments below! 

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Shop Your Dream Boots… on Sale!

20offbootsIt may just be because we look at boots day in and day out, but is anyone else already getting those after-holiday cravings for a great new pair of shoes? Boots are one of those hard-to-buy items that many are hesitant to gift, so that pair of boots you’ve been yearning for may not have been an option for under-the-tree this year.

Super excitingly, though, we’re running a 20% off boots sale this week! All boots on our site (with minimal exclusions) are 20% off this week, making it that much easier to get your dream pair of Born, Clarks, Fly London, Jambu, Merrell or Miz Mooz shoes.

We thought we’d get you ahead of the trends and show you some of our best, brightest and newest styles for the winter season. No matter what your goal here (short booties, fashion-forward higher styles or waterproof wonders), we’ve got you covered… and on sale.

Short Booties
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Riding Boots
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Waterproof Styles
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What boots are you craving this month? Let us know in the comments below! 

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Increase Your Kindness Meter this Year

kindnesscountsJanuary marks the end of a year’s worth of achievements and goals, successes and failures. It also marks a new beginning… a clean slate if you need one, a continuation and re-evaluation if you don’t.

It’s typically a time of self-evaluation and goal-setting, when each of us chooses ways we want to improve and better ourselves in the upcoming year. In January we spend a lot of time thinking about the self. Then we got to thinking… what if we could extend our own goals into helping others achieve theirs? What if our goals made us feel good – improving our own selves tremendously – but concurrently improved the lives of others?

One way to do this effectively: resolve to be kinder. But how do you start? What are some easy ways to start this resolution on the right foot?

49c63169c960e139a48f4e1688b1fbb0Listen more
Kindness starts with those you’re closest to, so make an effort to lending a listening ear in 2015 to those who need it most. Everyone’s going through some sort of struggle, and talking through those issues with a friend can seriously help their happiness (and yours).

Practice patience
We recommend starting with The Power of Patience, a short book by M.J Ryan, complete with small tidbits of helpful information guaranteed to kick start your journey towards a more patient future. From there, adopt a few of her strategies per month and resolve to stick to them!

Be honest
The truth may hurt at times, but as the saying goes, it will surely set you free. Promise to be honest—with both yourself and others—and you’ll see an uplift in your happiness as well as within your relationships. If something’s on your mind, make it known!

Meditate
Meditating can definitely be intimidating, but definitely shouldn’t be. There’s really not one true way to meditate; it’s whatever works best for you. Taking time each day to clear your mind, take a few deep breaths, and be mindful of your goals and surroundings can improve your general well-being and your relations with those that surround you.

986962039e9ec2287f9edccbc5ca7ccbEmbrace positivity
Yes, sometimes life gets annoying. Or frustrating. Or downright absurd. It’s important, as difficult as it may be, to embrace positivity in those tough situations. Think about what exactly is upsetting you about the issue, and find a way to work to fix that specific trigger with positive thoughts.

Perform random acts of kindness
While starting with being kind to yourself and others is an important step to take, moving on to random acts of kindness is just another significant facet in your 2015 of well-doing. Put quarters in a meter that’s running low, leave a nice note for someone on a park bench… the opportunities are endless to make someone’s day with a smile.

Give thanks
Being thankful and living mindfully shouldn’t only be relegated to November’s Thanksgiving holiday. Take time each month to list out what you’re grateful for. It will make you cherish the many facets of your life that much more, making you a happier, kinder human being.

How will you practice kindness this year? We’d love to hear your ideas!

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Travel this Year… in Ultimate Comfort!

travelOkay, we’ve decided… this year is the year of travel. Enough of dreaming and hoping… this is the time we accomplish those dreams!

Start the year off right, saving up a little money, checking for deals and cheap flights, and make those goals a reality. We want to help you get there, so we’ve put together some of our best walking shoes, perfect for cobblestone streets, bus tours and dream attractions alike. Better yet, all of these shoes are Made in Europe, a characteristic that to us always means pure quality, comfort and the best European materials. (Need some travel inspiration? Grab our list of Best European Walking Cities!)

Check out some of our favorite brands and get on your way! These are some of the most gorgeous shoes we could find, perfect for traveling the world with your camera in tow.

Naot
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Arcopedico
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Finn Comfort
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Think!
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Mephisto
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Do you have a pair of go-to travel shoes? Check out our Pack and Go shop for packable, fun shoes you’ll adore!

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