How You Can Get Back Into Shape Without All Of The Pain

How You Can Get Back Into Shape Without All Of The Pain

One of the main reasons that mothers do not want to get into shape is that being extremely sore is something that nobody looks forward to. Avoiding this sore feeling is possible if you have the correct exercise program. This will take you being proactive about taking care of your muscles. Failure to do this will lead to you being sore or overdoing it during your first few weeks leading to injury. The following are tactics that will help you avoid that sore feeling when getting back into shape after a long period of inactivity.

Slowly Ramp Up Your Workouts

The worst thing that you can do is exercise as hard as you can when first going back to the gym. In fact, it is probably wise to take it even easier than you think that you should. Rest days are important when you are starting to get back into shape as inflammation of muscles can lead to pain or even injury. You should try to do a few different methods of exercise so you don’t overuse a specific muscle group. Your cardio can differ week to week with one week doing the stationary bike with the next being a swim workout.

Recovery Foods

There is a recovery window after you exercise where you need to refuel your muscles. Getting in a protein shake or amino acids into your system can help your muscles recover in an efficient manner. Take the time to research certain supplements that will aid in your recovery. Those people who have a healthy diet generally have a better chance at avoiding that sore feeling. Make sure that the foods are in line with the goals you have for getting into shape. Some people want to lose weight while others want to improve their physique.

Icing and Heating Muscles

You are going to need to be proactive about heating and icing your muscles. You know what problem areas that you have on your body but making sure your joints are healthy is important. Those with access to ice tubs should take full advantage as this can help reduce inflammation in the entire body. If you have tight muscles after a workout then heating them can help out. Before a workout you need to warm up to avoid sore muscles as well as injury.


Acupuncture has been used for years for people wanting to recover quickly. The combination of massage and acupuncture that many professionals offer is perfect for a mother just trying to get back into shape. If you have a fear of needles you do not have to worry as you can barely feel a majority of the needles as they are inserted. Take the time to do research on those acupuncturists available in the area as the quality of your treatment is extremely important.

The above tips will help you avoid being extremely sore to the point of barely being able to move. Getting into shape is a process and not an overnight magic trick so do not injure yourself trying to do your max weight on your first day back in the gym.

Written by Natalie Bracco for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

Featured image provided by Working Mother


Loneliest Campsites in the Lower 48

Reconnect with what you love this summer as you set a course for inspiring travels through Virginia’s Blue Ridge. From town to peak and hidden gem to craft beverage, you’ll be reminded to continue seeking meaningful moments with the ones dearest to your heart. 2

That’s WanderLOVE.

Here are some suggestions and activities to include in your next WanderLOVE road trip to Virginia’s Blue Ridge.

Outdoor Recreation

James River Paddling

Virginia’s Blue Ridge is an outdoor recreation destination, and unashamedly so. Our mountain biking trails are so wicked we’ve been dubbed America’s East Coast Mountain Biking Capital, our streams are among Virginia’s most scenic and boast some of the best fishing and paddling in the Commonwealth, and our hiking trails lead to some of the most photographed lookouts on the East Coast.

Rent a bike from Roanoke Mountain Adventures and hit the 60 trails of Carvins Cove, a 12,000-acre paradise of loops, climbs, switchbacks, and incredible scenery. Hundreds of miles of mountain biking trails are at hand in Virginia’s Blue Ridge giving you hundreds of reasons to come back again and again.

Mountain Biking Trail Maps >

The Upper James River Water Trail (pictured above) is a Virginia Scenic River that includes fun class I and II rapids as well as great flat water for floating and easy paddling. The Roanoke River Blueway is 45 miles of great fishing and canoeing with numerous local parks as access points. Incorporate such river activities plus hiking, biking, camping, and even a bit of history with a visit to Explore Park along the Blueway.

Scenic Blueways of Virginia’s Blue Ridge >

Great Small Town Experiences

Salem VA

Small towns offer the best in southern hospitality, and ours shine especially bright with cool place to be, eat, and drink. Road trip right this way…

In Rocky Mount we love the chance to catch live music at The Harvester Performance Center, and no visit to Franklin County is complete without a sip of moonshine. Visit Twin Creeks Distillery in downtown Rocky Mount for a swig inside their tasting room.

Vinton is an outdoor lover’s gateway to trails and streams. Tinker Creek canoe access point sets you on your way to a Roanoke River Blueway day or you can explore the parks along the Wolf Creek Greenway. Great burgers, pizza joints, and even authentic Thai are perfect fill-ups before a craft beer flight at Twin Creeks Brewing Company.

Situated alongside the James River and with the Great Valley Road slicing it in half, Buchanan was once a bustling town of westward homesteaders. The Buchanan Swinging Bridge is a prominent landmark positioned where a covered bridge once stood. Cross from the far side into downtown and climb Main Street for lunch at the Buchanan Fountain & Grille. It’s an authentic soda fountain experience and real small town treat.

South of Roanoke is the oldest settlement in Virginia’s Blue Ridge: Salem (pictured above). It’s also the home of Roanoke College, a great local farmers market & antique stores, and the Salem Civic Center. Stroll through town with a walking tour map and an eye for history to learn about Salem before it was Salem, and a few surprises, too.

Great Small Towns in Virginia’s Blue Ridge >

Scenic Drives

Blue Ridge Parkway Mountains

When scenery is all you crave, look no further than Virginia’s Blue Ridge. Our mountains are the quintessential road trip backdrop with peaks and valleys, so many hues of foliage, and delightful stops along the way.

Route 311 to Craig County serves up a driver over Catawba Mountain, an access point for the Appalachian Trail and McAfee Knob. Pass through fields, past farms, and climb Potts Mountain toward Paint Bank. Dining options include The Homeplace and The Swinging Bridge; either is a winner.

Route 11 to Botetourt County zips you into and out of Troutville while offering mountain, pasture, and Mill Creek and Beaverdam Creek views in some places. In late summer, Beaver Dam Farm’s sunflower fields are a reason to stop and stretch your legs. PomegranateGreenwood, and North Star are all down home restaurants to beat back your hunger.

Route 221 from Roanoke to Floyd is about 30 miles of farmland dotted with cows and round bales of hay. It’s an ideal, laid-back, rural drive that becomes vibrant with autumn’s colors in October. In Floyd there’s always a hum of creativity on the air, whether it’s from music, dance, or a potter’s hands. Southern Living called it one of the South’s Best Small Towns in 2016, and we believe it’s only gotten better.

The Blue Ridge Parkway (pictured above) always rises to the top when discussing scenic drives. Meandering through the woods and atop grassy knolls, ever on the lookout for the next place to stop and soak in the views…those are the moments that make the BRP our go-to any given Sunday. Pull off and venture down a trail to see what turns up, or stick near the pavement with a stop at Mabry Mill or Peaks of Otter. The former is known for great dining and history while the latter is known for great dining and some of Virginia’s best hiking. Neither stop will do you wrong.

NOTE: The Blue Ridge Parkway is currently closed from Milepost 115.5 to Milepost 135.9 due to road hazards.

Scenic Mountain Drives in Virginia’s Blue Ridge >

Hidden Gems

Texas Tavern - Roanoke, VA

To find some of the best of what’s around, you need to look closely and watch the locals. They’ll lead you (and point you) to some of our claims to fame as well as our favorite shimmering treasures.

One of our most brilliant (but still rather hidden) gems is the Roanoke Star. It’s hard to miss at night when its neon bulbs are abuzz atop Mill Mountain, but during the day it stands dark, watching over the Roanoke Valley below. Wind your way up the mountain to get the star’s point of view or to explore the many hiking and biking trails.

Texas Tavern (pictured above) is larger than life in our hearts, but in reality, you’d easily miss it if you didn’t know exactly where to find it. Like the Roanoke Star, its neon lights draw you in at night, but during the day you’ll need a keen eye. Operated by the same family for four generations, Texas Tavern is an old school, 24-hour lunch counter within a narrow building that isn’t much wider than the counter itself. Texas Tavern is a treasure that should be on any Roanoke road trip itinerary; their burgers are legend.

Waterfalls are long sought and much loved. If you’re up for a hike, we have a couple of our very own worth your wandering. Perhaps the most popular in our area is Cascade Falls in Pembroke for its 69-foot drop and the wading pool below it. Roaring Run Falls in Eagle Rock is an easy trail for families and not only includes a smaller set of falls, but also has a bit of history along the way. Do seek out the 19th century iron ore furnace for a quick family history lesson.

Off the Blue Ridge Parkway is Apple Orchard Falls, accessed by a 7.5-mile moderately difficult loop trail. It’s an impressive waterfall and one of Virginia’s highest. Another fun option is Bottom Creek Gorge in Bent Mountain. Bottom Creek is the headwater of the South Fork of the Roanoke River, and it roars down 200 feet into the gorge below, creating Virginia’s second highest waterfall.

Waterfall Hikes in Virginia’s Blue Ridge >

Share the LOVE

Elmwood Art Walk - Downtown Roanoke

LOVEworks are the popular L-O-V-E letters that have popped up all over Virginia in the past 10 years. In Virginia’s Blue Ridge alone you’ll find more than 25 LOVE installations to photograph and enjoy. Virginia is for Lovers has two-day LOVEwork itinerary ready for you as a suggested leap for love. Don’t forget to share your photos on social media and include #LOVEVA.

Public art is just about everywhere in Roanoke. Murals under bridges and on the sides of downtown buildings, metal sculptures in parks, and even functional art – like bike racks – are all over. There are nearly 60 pieces to see on the Ride Solutions Roanoke Hidden Art Map, which you can navigate by car or on a bicycle with Art by Bike. It’s one of many unique self-guided bicycle tours created by Ride Solutions.

No visit to or around Virginia is complete without a Virginia is for Lovers souvenir, and there are several places to pick up a key chain, snapbacks, bumper sticker, growler, or any number of other useful displays of your love and affection. The Smith Mountain Lake Visitor Center at Bridgewater Marina is a touristy spot to stop, but you’ll also find Lovers gear in downtown Roanoke at chocolatepaper and The Gift Niche.

Virginia is for Lovers – Online Store >

Unique Lodging

Family Camping - Explore Park Cabins - Roanoke, VA

What’s a road trip without some amazing places to stay along the way? Camping has a number of definitions these days. At Explore Park (pictured above) you can pull in your camper or stay in one of their swanky canvas tents, though camping, cabins and primitive sites for your own tent are also available. For the truly primitive camping experience, head to Deer Island at Philpott Lake. You’ll boat to the island and give it your best Survivor attempt. We’re hopeful you won’t end up Naked and Afraid.

Upgrade your overnight with a cabin rental. For the ultimate cabin stay, a treehouse at Primland in Meadows of Dan is the way to go. For an iconic option, consider the cabins at Mountain Lake Lodge, home of Dirty Dancing. Some Virginia State Parks also offer cabins. In Virginia’s Blue Ridge, you can book one at Claytor LakeDouthatFairy Stone, or Smith Mountain Lake.

bed and breakfast is a great overnight if you love a hot homestyle breakfast waiting for you downstairs when you wake up. It’s like being home but with a chef. If that sounds like a road trip treat you can get into, there are more than 20 to choose from, including an 1800s Victorian, lodges, a mansion, and even a railcar. See a list of B&Bs >

For a full-on resort experience, circle back to Mountain Lake Lodge or Primland to enjoy their main rooms, dining, and all of the activities you can work up the adrenaline to conquer. From golfing and zip lines to shooting sports and horseback riding, resort stays are pretty stellar splurges.

Book Your Stay in Virginia’s Blue Ridge >

Craft Food & Beverage

Flight of 4 different moonshine cocktails.

Toast your WanderLOVE wanderings with a pint of freshly brewed craft beer, a perfectly aged red wine, or a 90-proof rye. The Virginia’s Blue Ridge Cheers Trail includes all of those and we even have a weekend sketched out for you, if it helps. Cheers Trail Weekend Itinerary >

Patio dining has been a thing for a while now, but in the midst of a pandemic, it’s all the rage. Fresh air and distance have taken priority and many local restaurants and craft beverages have adjusted to offer great patio space. Patio Options in VBR >

WanderLOVE - Virginia is for Lovers

Wandering is a good thing, and when you wander with the one(s) you love, it’s even better. Cheers to you and yours, with great expectation that the road leads you our way.

When you visit, we encourage you to commit to the Virginia’s Blue Ridge Stay Safe Pledge. It’s a short list of easy, simple steps based on public health guidelines that we can all do as we work together to help keep each other safe and limit the spread of COVID-19. Take the pledge >


Casey L. Higgins is a writer, editor, content consultant, and social media strategist working in the realms of travel and small business. She’s also a mom and wife living in and loving the mountains and valleys of Virginia. Casey previously wrote for Virginia is for Lovers and is excited to share her enthusiasm for family fun, outdoors, and culinary delights found in Virginia’s Blue Ridge.

Written by Kristin Smith for Backpacker and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

Featured image provided by Backpacker

The Benefits of Letting Your Kids Do Nothing During Quarantine, from an Early Childhood Education Professor

The Benefits of Letting Your Kids Do Nothing During Quarantine, from an Early Childhood Education Professor

I have given a lot of advice to parents during my career as a New York City classroom teacher and professor of early childhood education. About five days into the COVID-19 quarantine, I found myself answering work emails with one hand, holding a baby with the other and pointing to a map with my toe while trying to teach my other child geography. It was a defining moment for me as I understood how exhausting, unsustainable and unhealthy it was for everyone involved. I realized more parents needed real-world advice that was also research-proven and practical. Here's mine: It’s OK to do nothing sometimes

So what does “doing nothing” mean exactly? Doing nothing is breaking away from the notion that you need to schedule every second of the day for your child. It’s healthy to have significant gaps in the day instead of moving from one lesson to another. Focus more on setting up a safe environment that promotes opportunities for exploration (without your participation) and the idea that preserving the long-term love of learning will beat filling out all those worksheets any day.

They will get bored… for now.

Yes, they will get bored. That is OK. It might be a sign of initial withdrawal from their constant need for you to provide them with something to do. Boredom is healthy and a natural transitional phase that everybody needs to experience. It’s a reality check that life will not be full of playdates and one scheduled event after another. However, if you allow these moments to play out, children will eventually look for things to do and their imaginations will ignite. Early childhood experts agree that allowing for these unscheduled/unstructured periods of time promotes creativity, imagination and independence.

Embrace multiple possibilities.

“I’m finished! What’s next?” We have all heard those words. Evaluate toys (concrete and digital) that you are providing for your children and ask yourself a few simple questions:

  • Can they use these toys independently?
  • Do they require adult supervision for safety?
  • Are they within reach of the child?
  • Are there multiple ways to use these toys?

Certain toys have more possibilities and allow children to express themselves in different ways. Coloring sheets are fine, but they don’t have as many possibilities as a blank sheet of paper and crayons. Stuffed animals are cute to cuddle, but they don’t have as many possibilities as a set of blocks. Consider creating a makerspace in your home with everyday materials such as recycled food containers, newspapers, and empty toilet paper rolls. Digital learning platforms like MarcoPolo World School promote more independence and allow your child to create a learning experience that is paved more by interest and possibility.

Think long-term.

Most likely, you are not a teacher, and even if you are, teaching your child at home is very different from teaching in a school setting. Academically, what is going to make a difference in the long run, is that you preserve their love of learning. The anxiety that comes from being overscheduled and the pressure to finish every single task, may leave children associating these negative feelings with school and learning. Instead, provide them with the space and time to discover and learn about what they are interested in and love doing, and this will instead cultivate a passion for learning that is more beneficial than any worksheet at this time.

My favorites items that foster independent play and interest-led learning:

Digital: MarcoPolo World School, part of the MarcoPolo Learning platform is a STEAM and literacy digital learning platform with more than 500 premium video lessons and 3,000 interactive learning activities designed to nurture curiosity about the natural world. MarcoPolo Learning has announced free access for 30 days.

Book: Not a Box by Antoinette Portis is a book that asks children to imagine all of the playful possibilities of a simple brown box and a flexible imagination.

Toy: Magnetic tiles are full of possibilities and challenge your child to think about creating shapes, 3D structures and more. The tiles are easy to manipulate, safe for young children and the possibilities are endless!

Nermeen Dashoush, Ph.D., is a mother of two and a Clinical Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education at Boston University. Nermeen was a classroom teacher for over 10 years in New York City. Nermeen serves as a curriculum developer for MarcoPolo Learning and helped create World School, an Emmy-nominated digital learning tool for children.

Written by Nermeen Dashoush Ph.D. for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

Featured image provided by Working Mother