When I got divorced ten years ago with two kids under 7 I had the foresight to realize immediately that, from that day on, every day would be like competing in the Olympics! With little money, limited family support, no career established enough to matter, it was obvious that I was in for an intense ride. This realization plus the most expensive coffee maker I could afford (and still use) has been the secret to my more-or-less (some years much less) successful decade-long transition from married at home with kids to working a lot of jobs and being an all in all pretty good single parent. But it was all fueled by a deep commitment to keeping myself physically (and sometimes mentally) healthy.

Best small space total workout: Boxing -If you think about it it makes sense that boxing would be such awesome indoor exercise. Boxers work with very little equipment, often in small spaces, and in order not to get walloped in the ring they have to be firm and fast. That means premium cardio, flexibility, balance and strength. Try it for yourself at home (or with a friend). You’ll be in fighting shape in no time.

Best healthy snack: Nuts in their shells – High in calories you say! True enough, but really, how many of these guys can you eat in one sitting without tiring of all the cracking. The reason I love them? All the right kind of fat. Plus, nuts that need to be extracted from their shells will put you in touch with your food in a great, mindful, way. Loads of protein too. Yet not so sexy that you’ll be tempted to eat a bowlful (unless you are really really hungry, in which case maybe you should!) Good for guests. Pretty in the bowl.

Best outdoor group exercise: Frisbee – Why Frisbee? Who even owns a Frisbee anymore? I do. And I love it for many good reasons. Frisbee is a game that everyone can play (sure, people, claim that they can’t-but they can), it offers a great non-competitive group dynamic, which is particularly helpful if you are playing with a mix of ages. Frisbee can involve a lot (or a little) running around, Frisbees are cheap, lightweight, and portable. Frisbee can be played in any weather and with any number of people. Perfect.

Best fast food: Subway – This one was easy. Unless you live on the west coast where you can buy freshly made tacos (perhaps the finest fast food on the planet ) Subway is the best place to buy cheap, reasonably wholesome (skip the chips and soda) grub that tastes good and is good enough for you. All the doctors from the hospital near where I live eat there and so do I. Not only do they have a simple yet elegant formula of, meat and cheese, lettuce and tomato, and a few delightfully familiar choices of condiments, but they also have hot peppers, green peppers, onions, and whole wheat hero rolls. And they’ll heat your sandwich up if you ask. Plus they make a much better salad than most fancy restaurants for under $10 dollars. What a deal!

Best way to relax: Sleep – This may seem obvious, but for many of us, it’s not. You have no idea how many people who think they need help with relaxation, find themselves instantly more relaxed with brighter outlooks, once they start getting enough sleep.

Second best way to relax: Yoga– For people who’s  bodies are calling out for exercise–but are also looking for a time to connect with their deeper selves-yoga, (as opposed to meditation) is still the best option. Yoga done right offers a perfect blend of mindfulness, healing, positive self-focus, and just the right amount of exercise to help you get in shape and get you out of your head. Meditate afterwards if you have time.

Best fitness magazine: Men’s Health – Darn it. For years they’ve been the best. And it kills me. Why on earth is the only truly perfect combination of candy-like popular magazine copy (How to Make All Women Fall in Love With You) plus actually worthwhile advice, plus truly well researched fitness tips and techniques, plus a good looking easy to read layout, in a men’s magazine? Harrumph.

Best at-home fitness device: Fitness Ball – Ask what you can do with one of those over-sized inflated balls? Tell me what you can’t do with them! Fitness balls do double duty as benches for weight training, they offer great options for all kinds of stability work (you can imagine, right?), they are the perfect platform for sit-ups, and with just a little rolling around-they can offer a superb variety of flexibility exercises. Strong enough for larger people and the varieties filled with sand can help folks who need a little extra help with balance.

Best sports drink: Coconut water – Perhaps the best beverage on earth. Full of electrolytes, low in calories, sweet and appealing taste though with a high sugar content so not right for people with diabetes. Coconut water also has fantastic sex appeal and reminds me of going to the beach even in the dead of winter.

I could go on….there are so many fabulous fitness-y things out there. What’s on your list?

Photo by  Richard R. Schünemann on Unsplash


Alexandra Florio is the proud mom of two surly teenagers and President of the at-home fitness company Beautiful Fitness (www.beautifulfitness.com). Her other jobs include selling real estate in NYC with TOWN Residential, distributing lovely smelling soy wax candles from single-parent-owned L.A. candlessentials.com, and editing the dystopian Young Adult novel she wrote years ago, for which she is hoping to find an agent soon.

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