2 Quick Ways to Get Happy

On Monday I started my week out on such a positive note. I did a 30 minute vinyasa yoga class and took a lovely walk. It led me to think about fast, easy ways to boost my mood. These are two of my favs! 


It’s no secret that I love yoga (hence the name of this blog)! Although I don’t get to practice as much as I used to, I still love to fit it in whenever I can. Nowadays I am happy when I can do a quick 30 minute vinyasa class during nap times! You don’t have to be a super bendy and in amazing shape to reap the benefits of yoga- just taking some time to breathe deeply, clear your mind, and stretch is what it’s all about. Even a few minutes a day of this helps my mental state immensely! 


I set out on a new route on Monday to fine a playground for Connor. The air was crisp, the sun was shining, I had a mug of flavored coffee in my hand, and Connor was happy after just waking up from a nap. It was a perfect combo and the brisk walk made my mood soar.  Walking outside and getting some fresh air on a daily basis is a quick, easy, free way to take a break from the daily grind, and release some endorphins. 


I have so much to be thankful for this year! Here are just a few reasons I feel blessed to have the life that I do. 


Obviously this guy is my number one reason I’m thankful! He is my partner and my friend. We have so many fun times together. He has been my rock during some really hard times and I am forever greatful for this. I can’t wait to become a family of three with him in two months and navigate parenting together!  


Words can’t even express how thankful I am for my family. Both of our families are wonderful and I feel so lucky that we live so close to both families and are able to spend holidays with everyone.  My mom and little brother are two of my best friends and I would be absolutely lost without them. 


Most of my friends I met in college and we’ve remained close ever since. Even though we don’t see each other as often as we would like, we pick right back up where we left off every time.  

My job 

My teaching job is challenging every day, and it can sometimes be quite stressful. I enjoy the challenge and like being kept on my toes. I have an amazing class this year and am so thankful to be in a good school in the city! 

Yoga and running 

Although I’m on a hiatus from running, I still love it. Yoga has been my go-to workout during pregnancy. The combo of running and yoga keeps me healthy and does wonders for my stress levels. If I didn’t work out I would be a crabby, stressed out lady!  

 Healthy pregnancy 

I am thankful to be healthy! It is amazing what your body can do- carry a baby and teach 6 and 7 year olds all day! I am happy that I have had a relatively easy pregnancy and still feel pretty good at 31 weeks preggo!  I am beyond thankful I am pregnant! I expected it to be a long journey to getting pregnant and was shocked by how lucky I was that I happened easily. 

Coffee, tea, and dessert

It sounds silly but these things have been my favorites during pregnancy. Many evenings we would have a glass of wine to end the day, but now I have a sweet treat and some decaf tea.  I have eaten a dessert every day of pregnancy. While this sounds crazy, I think it’s all about balance. Sometimes that dessert is a small piece of dark chocolate, and sometimes it is a more decadent dessert. Even a tiny treat makes the day feel happy to me!   

This blog

I am so glad I started this blog! It has been so fun to get some words out. I hope to increase my posting in the future. I am thankful for my readers who faithfully read all of my posts!! 
I hope everyone has a great holiday week and takes a few minutes to be thankful this week! 


My First Yoga Class

I have always been a yoga lover. I started in college by doing online yoga classes to help with stress and stretch each day. I continued for a few years after college but let my practice fall by the wayside, in favor of running and strength workouts. A few years into working, my coworker and friend told me about a yoga studio near our school in Chicago that offered yoga sculpt classes.  Core Power Yoga She encouraged me to come try a class.

I went with and was shocked and amazed at what I experienced. The studio was packed full of women and men, all clad in trendy, expensive yoga clothes. I was wearing a t-shirt from grad school, and running capris. I immediately felt intimidated. I was in fairly decent shape from running and doing strength workouts, but I looked around the room at the toned and buff yogis all stretching on their mats before class started, and questioned what I had gotten myself into. I had never taken a hot yoga class, and was a bit put off by the heat. I was already starting to sweat and we hadn’t even begun. I quickly began to make my exit strategy if needed. I would simply tell my friend that I hadn’t eaten enough that day and was feeling too hungry. I planned the path I would walk through to get to the door. I even calculated how fast I could get home and in the shower and on the couch. Tomorrow morning I would pop in one of my workout videos and return to the safety of my comfort zone.

All these thoughts were running through my head, when the instructor walked in and instructed us to get into child’s pose. Luckily, I had done enough yoga in my past to know the poses and not look a complete buffoon. As we moved through the warm up, I thought, okay, so far I don’t need to flee. But we will see. I was beginning to enjoy the class- the instructor was incredibly positive and encouraging, and played music that I had on my own playlists. This particular class was a yoga with weights class, so it was not a typical vinyasa-style yoga class. Many yogis would say that it’s not a true yoga class, but I didn’t know any better at that time. (And still love this type of class today!)

When we started adding in the weights, the music started picking up it’s pace, and pop and dance-style tracks started playing. I was surprised, and always thought of yoga as just stretching with calming music. Boy was I wrong! The energy in the room was contagious. Everyone was working hard, and there were even cardio bursts thrown in, with everyone doing high knees, mountain climbers, and burpees. I was sweating like I had never sweat before, and hurting like I had never had before. I truly realized I had never had a workout this hard, yet I was loving it. As the class continued, I realized how I never pushed myself this hard when I worked out at home. I realized the group mentality was something I thrived on. I also realized that I was HOT! Eventually the vinyasa and weights calmed down, and finally we were done with weights. We continued to flow, but we were cooling down. The room was still incredibly hot, and my heart was racing.

Before we even went into final savasana, I knew I was hooked. Before we even left the studio, I signed up for a package of classes. Within a few weeks of going, I became an unlimited monthly member. Although I now practice many other types of yoga besides vinyasa with weights, I still remember my first class. I was so surprised that yoga could be so diverse. I didn’t know there were other types of yoga that were a full body workout, and that encompassed so many other types of exercise but still had the main aspects of a vinyasa class.

Yoga is still my preferred type of workout, and one of my favorite things about it is the fact that I can do a hatha class and just relax and stretch, or I can do a hot vinyasa with weights, and get my booty kicked! I have tried lots of studios throughout Chicago, and love the small independent ones.  I also simply practice yoga at home a lot. I am glad that my planned escape at my first yoga class was not necessary, and I am even more happy that I didn’t chicken out and run away because I would have been missing out on my favorite type of workout. I also learned since my first class, that there are all types of people who do yoga- old and young, thin, buff, average, and overweight. It’s not necessary to have the fancy yoga clothes, or yoga gear. All you need is a mat, and some workout clothes, an open mind, and a desire to work hard.

If you are a newbie yogi, or are stuck in a rut and haven’t tried other types of yoga, step out of your comfort zone and try something new! A hot vinyasa-style class requires a mat, a towel, and workout gear. Some of these classes include weights, but the weights are provided by the studio. Always practice hatha? Why not try a vinyasa class? You might be surprised that the calm and stretch you get from yoga, coupled with more intense work for your muscles could be just the thing for your body.


Friday Peaks of the Week

Starting School

It is our first week back at school, so I didn’t take many pictures, and most of my energy was focused on getting my first graders into the swing of things. Teaching first grade while pregnant is nothing short of exhausting! I could go to bed at 8:00 every night if that were possible! My class is adorable, as usual, and it seems that it will be a great year! 

Thursday Dinner Out

Jim’s best friend is getting married this weekend and his other friend is staying with us for the weekend. It’s definitely going to be busy and crazy so we went to a nice dinner last night. It was really nice to not worry about what we were cooking for once! I had bolognese pasta. Yum!  

  My date! 
Overnight Oats

I’ve seen people post about overnight oats for years now, but I never tried tj myself. I have been making them each night and they are so good and so easy for weekday breakfasts! I just throw in some oats, a Greek yogurt with fruit, and some milk. It sits overnight and becomes a delicious breakfast!   It doesn’t look pretty but it tastes good! This was yesterday’s eaten in the car. 


I used to rely on caffeine in the beginning of the school year- a cup of coffee in the morning, and another or a tea in the afternoon. Now I can only have about 6 ounces of coffee a day so I’ve been savoring it, and also having some decaf to try to trick myself into thinking it’s the real deal :-)  

  Quickie workouts

I’ve been relying more and more on 30 minute workouts this week because I have to squeeze it in before getting to work. I have still been loving yoga and T25. 

No Chip Manicure

I had seen the Sally Hansen Miracle Gel no chip nail polish in the store but haven’t tried it. Sally Hansen Miracle GelI figured I would try it out because my nails chip so fast usually. I don’t know how long it will last but hopefully longer than just a few days like normal nail polish.  


Prenatal yoga 

19 Week Preggo Tree Pose

I have always loved yoga (hence the name of the blog). I used to religiously do hot yoga and hot yoga with weights before I got pregnant. Hot yoga is not recommended for pregnant women, so I had to give it up. I searched endlessly for unheated yoga classes that were in the mornings but failed to come up with any that worked with my schedule and location. I was doing 21 Day Fix Extreme modified, and had let yoga fall by the wayside. Unfortunately, I hurt my back in high school, and it hurts when I don’t take care of it.  I get pain in my back, hip, butt, and down my leg.  I can’t wear super flat shoes, and I have to exercise regularly in order for it to feel good. Since becoming pregnant, I wasn’t wearing flats, and I was exercising regularly, but my back was killing me! I talked to my doctor and she said to do prenatal yoga. She also said her patients who do prenatal yoga have easier deliveries. Less back pain and a potentially easier delivery?  I was sold! I researched online for classes, and also for studios that offered classes. I decided to join Yogadownload.com and pay about $12 a month for unlimited classes. There are a ton of prenatal and other types of yoga classes on this site!

So far I have noticed my back pain is much better when I practice regularly. I haven’t done any yoga in about 4 days now, and my back and hip are killing me! That is a sign that I need to get back at it! I have also noticed that I am more flexible. Many of the classes are vinyasa-style classes, so they are challenging and incorporate lots of strength and core work.

My current plan for working out is:

Yoga 2-3 times a week

Strength 1-2 times a week

Cardio 1-2 times a week

We usually walk for about 2 miles each night, and I’m very active at school with my first graders, so I am more focused on yoga and strength training right now.

Yoga also helps me greatly with stress and anxiety. I am a worry-wart to the max, and yoga helps me to let go and relax. Additionally, when I’m stressed, I find myself returning to deep breaths to calm myself, and I never did this before yoga.

I hope to continue to do yoga for as long as it is comfortable. Right now I look forward to it, and feel amazing afterwards. Everyone should try some type of yoga! Namaste!

My Workouts Before Pregnancy, and in the First Trimester

I have three types of workouts I love- Beachbody (currently 21 Day Fix and T 25), running- (I love half marathons!!), and hot yoga.

Before Pregnancy 

Hot Yoga

Before I got pregnant, I attended hot yoga burn classes 2 or 3 times a week at  Zen Yoga Garage. These classes were at a local yoga studio that I was a member of, and I would go at 6 am, get ready for work, and tackle the day.  These classes were hot- about 90-100 degrees, and were vinyasa yoga classes with weights and HIIT mixed in.  I was addicted to yoga burn!  The workout was amazing- a combination of strength and cardio, plus all the benefits of yoga-clarity, calm, and my favorite part-savasana.  I knew that when I got pregnant I would have to give this up, because your body temperature cannot get too high when you are pregnant. I hoped to still attend other classes like prenatal yoga and their barre classes that are not heated.


I have like running for my whole adult life.  I have struggled with knee pain, which stems from tendonitis in my knee.  Basically, if I add too much mileage or speed onto my training plan, my knee hurts.  I have learned how to work around this, and have been able to successfully run 3 half marathons in the past two years.  Last winter I trained for a half marathon by myself for the first time (previously ran with Jim), and did almost all of my training before work, in the dark, outside, in the middle of winter.  I thought there was no way this would work and that I would probably not finish the training or run in the race.  However, I ended up loving it!  I ran the half marathon in April, and kept running afterwards.

Beachbody Workouts

I have been a Beachbody customer for almost 10 years, and love doing these workouts when I don’t go to yoga or run.  They are always quick and efficient, and a great way to fit in a workout at home. juliaschachtfitness.com

First Trimester Workouts

As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I stopped going to hot yoga.  I continued to run but didn’t stopped fairly early on, because I was spotting. I took it easy, and decided to switch to more pregnancy-friendly workouts like Piyo.  Eventually I tried running again, but it felt weird.  Really weird.  I was hoping be a running pregnant lady, but that is just not in the cards for me.  So instead, I have been doing T25, Piyo, and 21 Day Fix Extreme.  I modify all of them, and don’t do the jumping parts.  My doctor said as long as it feels good I can continue.  The jumping didn’t feel good, so I decided to modify.  I still get a good workout in!  I have also been doing prenatal yoga classes online.  I would like to go to a studio soon for prenatal yoga, because I miss the studio vibe, with good music and positive energy.  I have also been walking.  Each night we go for a 2 mile walk, which is a nice way to digest dinner!  I am hoping to continue with my current level of fitness as long as I can.  I work out for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week not including walking and yoga.  My fatigue goes away for a while after I workout, and it is the time that I feel most like “me”.  It also doesn’t hurt to release some endorphins everyday!

My Weight Loss Story

It was January 2014.  I went to put on a pair of jeans, and I couldn’t physically get them onto my legs.  I knew that I had not been eating well or working out enough for the past few months, but this was my ah ha moment.  I had just gotten engaged and I wanted to get married feeling my best.  I knew this wasn’t my best.  I have never been a person who is overweight, and I was still not overweight at this time.  I never really struggled with weight, and pretty much ate healthy.  However, I noticed that once I turned 30, my metabolism slowed down a little.  I couldn’t just eat wings and fries and drink beer with no repercussions, like I used to.  I had just moved in with Jim that September, and basically ate whatever he ate.  Chips and dip?  Sure!  Craft beer?  Yes please!  Pizza and wings?  Why not!  Needless to say, I wasn’t able to keep that up for long.  Since Jim is 6’2″ and I am 5’4″, I knew I couldn’t eat what he ate on a regular basis.  I also knew that starving myself and using fad diets don’t work for me.  I am not the type of person to try juice cleanses or cabbage soup diets. I went back to my old stand by.  I had completed P90X a few years back, and liked some of the workouts, and the eating plan.  I pulled out my old DVDs and the eating plan.  I started following the eating plan, and doing the cardio and leg workouts.  I also kept going to hot yoga classes.  The weight started coming off!  In January of 2014 I weighed 134 pounds, and by March of 2014 I weighed 125 pounds.  I was so proud of myself!  I added in Insanity to mix things up, and started running again.  At the time of my wedding I weighed 122 pounds.  I didn’t follow the P90X eating plan for long, but it reminded me of the basics of healthy eating.  A protein, healthy carb, and fruit or vegetable with each meal.  Plus 2 snacks a day.  Because I ate this way, I was never starving, and never felt deprived.  I still indulged in treats on a regular basis- either something sweet, or a drink.  I had some dark chocolate instead of a huge dessert.  I had a glass of wine instead of a carb-heavy beer.  One of the most important things I did was to stop eating when I was satisfied.  I never allow myself to get stuffed, because that is when I feel miserable!  I still eat this way, and, for me, it is the key to success.  My workouts have changed throughout the last year and a half.  I continued running and hot yoga.  I did Piyo, T 25, and now am doing 21 Day Fix.  This winter, I was doing Piyo and running a lot, and I added in Shakeology.  I drank Shakeology for my breakfast everyday, and lost 3 more pounds.  Now I have leveled out at 119 pounds, which is a healthy weight for someone who is 5’4″.  I feel great about myself, and I feel healthy.  I am in the best shape of my life!  There was no magic trick, pill or quick fix.  Portion sizes, exercise, and moderation!

Post Half Marathon Yoga

Since my half marathon I haven’t done much in terms of exercise.  I have been walking and doing some light stretching.  Today I put on some tunes, and did a little yoga!  I have not gone to the yoga studio I belong to since the run, because I am trying to take it easy for a few more days.  The last half marathon I ran, I started working out right away and my knee hurt.  This time I decided to do it right, and follow the rules for recovery!  Tomorrow I am planning on doing a longer yoga session and maybe a 30 minute run.  It has been pretty enjoyable to take a few days off of formal exercise and catch up on  Downtown Abbey and other Bravo reality shows that rot my brain!

Post Half Marathon Yoga