Category Archives: Life

Surprise! I Did Beachbody’s 21 Day Fix

Yup, you read correctly. I didn’t mention it on social media at all, but from November 7th to November 27th, I completed Beachbody’s 21 Day Fix.

I know, I know… you’re probably thinking “WHY?” There is a pretty negative connotation surrounding all things Beachbody, because like with most things, people get overzealous and talk about it non-stop while trying to rope others into it, and I don’t “look like someone that needs to go on a diet.” I actually never had anyone approach me and ask me to ‘join their challenge group’ or ‘think about becoming a coach to make some extra money’ like I’ve heard has happened to a lot of other people. So while I was wary of it, like I am with any ‘quick fix’ type of programs or products, I didn’t have any personal negative experiences with it. In fact, I knew a few people who — wary of it like me — gave it a try and were pleased with their results.

So, why did I decide to try it? Well, I’ve been feeling a little ‘meh’ in my own skin lately. I’ve never been someone to focus on the number on the scale because it can fluctuate A LOT and isn’t always indicative of how I’m feeling. Instead, I focus more on how I’m feeling and the way my clothes are fitting. Since I’ve been in a running injury cycle for the last two-ish years, I’ve been doing a lot of cross-training, not a lot of running, and a lot of eating like crap. I was always convinced that I was working out enough to cancel out my poor eating habits, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that isn’t the case (boo metabolism slowing down). When I was in high school and college I was solidly in the 130-135 pound range, but wore generally the same sizes I do now, and I was in really great shape… I was swimming 2+ hours a day! So when I ate, I ATE. I also had the metabolism of a teenager/someone in their early 20’s, so I could order a double quarter pounder with cheese (super sized!) from McDonalds, eat the whole thing, and live to tell the tale. Gross, I know. Now I can range anywhere from 120-127, and usually feel most comfortable and my ‘fittest’ when I’m closer to 120. So, despite working out 7x a week (sometimes more than once a day), I wasn’t seeing any big changes. I mean, with the weights I was lifting and the cardio I was doing, I felt like I should’ve seen more muscle definition. That’s when I had the unfortunate realization that all those kitschy sayings are true… “abs are made in the kitchen,” “you can’t outrun a bad diet,” etc. Whomp, whomp.

My main goal for the 21-day fix was to get better with my eating. I knew my workouts, generally speaking, were fine on their own. But I also knew that I was definitely not eating enough of the right stuff, and eating too much of the wrong stuff. I didn’t want to do anything wildly restrictive because I knew it wouldn’t be long-lasting, so that’s why the 21-day fix was most appealing. Rather than count calories, you use color coded containers that correspond to different food groups. Green and purple, the largest containers, are for your fruits and veggies. The sizes get smaller from there, but there really isn’t anything you have to completely eliminate. And yes, there’s the Shakeology portion. This isn’t required, but is widely encouraged… I think mostly because it’s actually really expensive. I bought it because it was on sale with the challenge pack, and figured if I was going to do it, I’d go all in. Guess what? Shakeology tastes just like every other kind of protein powder out there… generally gross, but okay enough to suck down. If anyone tells you they love the taste, they’re lying to you… or they don’t have tastebuds. I ordered everything online off of Beachbody’s website, selected my twitter-friend Nicole as my coach, and started trying to plan out how I was going to make it through the 21 days. There are three calorie ranges to choose from based on calculating your current height/weight and how much weight you want to lose. Since I wasn’t really focused on losing weight per say, I selected the middle option. I went through periods of thinking the containers were so small and I was going to starve, to thinking it was actually enough food.

This was the first time I actually did ‘meal prep’ which is all the rage these days. I had given it the side eye in the past, but mostly because I’m lazy and the last thing I want to do on a Sunday afternoon is roast veggies and cook grains for hours. Turns out, though, it isn’t nearly as time consuming as it seems. I bought tons of vegetables, threw them on a pan, and popped them into the oven for awhile. I also cooked a bunch of brown rice and quinoa, and hardboiled eggs. It was relatively quick and easy, and it allowed me to be prepared (and in some cases over prepared), for the week ahead. I pre-portioned out my lunches and snacks to fit the guidelines, and had everything in the fridge organized so there was no thinking involved when it came time to pack my lunch in the morning before work. Having everything planned and a lot of it already cooked made it SO much easier to stick to it. I’m confident that if I hadn’t done all that prep work I would’ve cheated… which defeats the whole purpose!

Of course, I didn’t stick to the plan 100%. During the first week, I attended a wine and cheese party on Saturday. There was no way I was going to pass up delicious cheese, wine, and bread. It just wasn’t going to happen. I tried to be mindful of how much I was eating (and what), but I also didn’t restrict myself. Having that kind of flexibility and wiggle room was important for me. Similarly, during the second week, I was in Philly to run the 8k, cheer for the marathon, and see some friends. Since most of my friend outings revolve around food, I wasn’t about to restrict myself then, either. I had a doughnut on Saturday morning after my race, and then enjoyed wine and plenty of (delicious!) food at dinner on Saturday night. Again, I was mindful of how much I was eating and what it was, but I didn’t think twice about it. And of course the end of the 21 days, Thanksgiving happened. Just like the first two ‘cheat’ days, I paid attention to what I was eating and didn’t overeat, but I at no point turned something down because of my ‘diet.’ Eating right really is all about balance. There’s no way I’d be able to follow an eating plan that didn’t have any wiggle room.

Aside from the eating portion, there’s the workouts. I didn’t do any of the cardio workouts because I supplemented that with running, and I avoided the lower body specific workouts just to make sure I wasn’t overdoing it as I’m getting back into running. I did, however, do the ‘Upper Fix,’ ‘Dirty 30,’ and ’10 minute ab fix’ weekly in addition to my running, some yoga, and some spinning. The workouts are short (30 minutes total if you include the warm-up and cool-down, which I usually didn’t) and are deceptively hard. I was using two 5 pound weights which I assumed would be too light, but doing each exercise for a minute straight proved to be a lot more difficult than I originally anticipated. I was sore after each workout the first time I did it, but it got better as I continued doing them over the course of the three weeks.

So after all that, what did I think? I actually really, really liked the 21-day fix. I learned a lot about my eating habits! I definitely don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables despite being a vegetarian, I lean too heavily on my workouts as excuses for poor food choices, and I definitely don’t drink enough water. We were encouraged to weigh ourselves and take measurements before the challenge as well as at the end. While my measurements weren’t anything staggering (my quads got bigger because I’m running more again – YAY!, but I lost almost a full inch at my hips and a half inch at my waist), I did loose about 5 pounds (give or take, of course). Considering the challenge ended the weekend after Thanksgiving, my numbers probably would’ve been more ‘impressive’ if that wasn’t the case. But more importantly than those numbers, I feel better. Some of the pants I’d been avoiding because they were just a little too tight fit much more comfortably. And I have some baby ab muscles poking through… just in time for layering season, ha.

I would definitely recommend this to someone looking to overhaul their eating habits a bit. I wouldn’t (and couldn’t) do this if I was in the middle of training for a race, but this was the perfect time for me to try it. You can definitely do it on the cheaper side by not including Shakeology and ordering the containers on Amazon rather than through Beachbody. You also don’t have to join a challenge group, but I found the camaraderie of a group (via an app) motivating. There are tons of resources online (meal planning sheets you can download, blogs full of recipes, tips and tricks, and more), and it really isn’t that hard or drastic. Basically, it’s just a way to make sure you’re not overeating, and what you are eating is good for you. Like they say, not all calories are created equal… and as someone who relies on my body a lot to achieve goals and feel good about myself, I need to treat it better. But I am also all about those indulgences (give me booze! cheese! chocolate!)… I just needed to learn how to control them a bit better.

Now let’s see how I do during the month of December!

Tell me…
Have you ever done 21-day fix, or something similar? What did you think?
If you haven’t, would you try it?

6 Comments

Filed under Home Cooking, Life, Running

A Most Welcomed TGIF and a Giveaway!

It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? Thanks to everyone who reached out to me about Kennedy; it hasn’t been easy, but like I said in my post, getting to spend 12 years with him was a true treat. I miss him every single day.

I thought I’d attempt my return to sporadic blogging with a Friday Favorites post! That’s lighthearted and fun, yes? After my sad last post, and current events, a little fluff could be nice. Also a winner because it includes a giveaway! Aw yeah. Skip down to the end if you don’t care about the favorites and just want to enter the giveaway. But in the meantime, here’s what I’m loving lately:

Finish Line Physical Therapy
As most of you know, I started visiting Finish Line after I was diagnosed with a stress reaction in my femur back in March. And as most of you know (or figured out), once again I didn’t run a fall marathon. That’s another post for another day, but I do want to spend a little time waxing poetic about physical therapy! I’ve been to a few different physical therapy places in my day (a place for shoulder tendinitis when I was in high school, a place for my IT band issues two years ago, etc.), but none of them were runner-specific. I have to say, going to a place that not only understands and caters to runners is a bonus, but having physical therapists that are also runners really brings it to the next level.

Finish Line has everything a runner could need when it comes to both rehab and prehab. Alter-G treadmills! Normatec compression sleeves! Vibrating foam rollers! And aside from all the ‘gadgets’ they have a really knowledgeable and friendly staff. I’ve been going every few weeks to see Caroline, and I always look forward to my appointment. Not only is she super friendly and someone who I would want to be friends with outside of PT, but she knows her stuff. I can e-mail her and run things by her, get her advice about my shoes, mileage, cross-training, and more. Even though I’ve had some setbacks during my return to running, they’ve been minimal and mostly due to my own stubbornness.

Going to Finish Line has opened my eyes to the importance of having a physical therapist in your corner for a proper prehab routine. This is definitely something I’m going to continue to invest in for my future!

The Skimm (and Skimm Ahead)
I’ve been an on-and-off reader of The Skimm for quite a few years now, but as of the last few months have been reading it daily. I think a big part of why I’ve been so dilligent in reading it in part due to their new app, Skimm Ahead!

For those of you not familiar with The Skimm, it’s a daily e-mail that comes straight to your inbox in the morning, Monday through Friday, with a brief overview of what’s going on in the world. It includes the latest top stories and headlines broken down into just a few paragraphs each, in digestable and easy to read (and funny) language. It’s the perfect thing to read on your commute, or when you first get to work and aren’t quite ready to start your workday.

The app, Skimm Ahead, includes the daily e-mail in the app, along with a lot of other fun features. Here are just a few:

  1. They’ve created a bunch of different calendars that you can easily integrate into your own so you can stay on top of important upcoming events (or you can just view it in the app without adding it to your personal calendar).
  2. There’s a section of top reads that don’t necessarily make it into their e-mails, but are worth reading,
  3. A list of best sellers and suggested reading is also available, which I actually love.

Needless to say I’m all about TheSkimm these days. If you aren’t subscribed, you really should!

Top Shop’s Black Ripped Jeans

If we’ve ever talked about clothing (in real life or on the internets) you’ve probably heard me complain about my super long torso and regular length legs. This often presents itself as a problem when it comes to finding jeans. As I’ve gotten older (and they’ve come back in style), I’ve learned and come to embrace high-waisted jeans as my friend. The higher, the better! Anything low-cut (or not specifically designated mid-rise or high-rise) seems to give me a muffin top, have me constantly pulling at my pants, and just generally not feeling comfortable or good about myself. Oh, and I definitely need ‘ankle’ jeans, because apparently I have short legs, too. Go figure!

So, when I saw these Topshop Destroyed High Rise Ankle Skinny Jeans (that was a mouthful!) at Nordstrom, I knew I had to give them a try. They are AMAZING. They hit right below my belly button, have just the right amount of stretch so they aren’t restrictive, and are distressed which is totally on-trend right now. I wish they had them in more colors because I’d buy one of each. I’m actually considering a second pair…

Go Macro’s new Thrive Bars – GIVEAWAY!

For some of you, this is why you’re here; the Go Macro Thrive Bars! I was sent a few to sample about two months ago, but wanted to wait until I had a chance to try all of the flavors before writing about them. I’ve been a Go Macro Bar fan for quite some time, so when I heard they were coming out with a new bar that included all I loved from the original bars plus some ancient grains for a little extra fiber I couldn’t wait to try. The new Thrive bars “contain plant-based protein, essential fatty acids, and prebiotic fiber to fuel your body and mind.” As with all of Go Macro’s products, they are USDA-Certified Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, Kosher, Gluten-Free certified, 100% Vegan, and soy-free. AND they’re currently available to purchase online and in Whole Foods as of October!

They’re just under 200 calories and are dense without being too much. They’re a perfect snack for anytime. And most importantly, they’re delicious! I received a sample pack, and it was no surprise that my favorite is the chocolate, nuts, and sea salt. I also really enjoyed the caramel coconut, and the chocolate peanut butter chip. I didn’t, however, enjoy the blueberry lavender… but that’s just my personal preference. I generally prefer to smell my lavender, not eat it!

The kind people at Go Macro offered a giveaway for my readers! They’re giving away a Thrive Assorted Tray to one of you! All you have to do is tell me what your favorite quick go-to snack is in the comments below and mark it as complete in Rafflecopter… and there are other options you can complete to up your chances! The giveaway will end on Wednesday 11/23!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Filed under Food Review, Life, Running

Saying Goodbye

Growing up, I — like most children — was desperate for a pet. But not just any pet… a dog. I wanted a dog for as long as I can remember, from the moment I knew the word and what it meant. My parents, however, were against the idea. Not because they didn’t like dogs and didn’t want a pet. In fact, their reasoning was quite the opposite. Both my parents had grown up with lots of pets, many of them being dogs. But because of that, they knew just how much work was required and maybe more importantly, just how attached you become. Despite their protests I begged and begged, taking out books from the library on dog breeds, making lists to decide which would be “best for our family” and swearing up and down that I would be the best dog walker in all the land. My parents were steadfast in their rejection of the idea, and instead bought me a GoGo My Walking Pup (remember them?! I can’t believe they’re still around!), and let me have as many fish as my little heart desired.

Eventually my sister and I wore my parents down, mostly because I knew deep down inside they wanted a dog just as badly as we did. There was one condition though — my mom was NOT interested in getting a puppy. She’d say how she already had and raised two babies and wasn’t interested in a (furry) third. So, we needed a dog that wasn’t a puppy and had some general training. Enter: The Seeing Eye. I don’t know how my mom found them, but she learned that in addition to being a puppy raising family or adopting a “senior” dog after they retire (they retire them at about 7 I think), you have the option to adopt dogs that they decide are not a fit for the program, for whatever reason. So, we added our name to a waitlist… a waitlist that had an average wait time of TWO YEARS. I think we eventually forgot about even adding ourselves to the list, until one day we got a call that they had a dog for us.

It was May 2004, a mere month before I graduated high school. I remember driving to Morristown to The Seeing Eye and exclaiming to my parents, “WE ARE TAKING THIS DOG NO MATTER WHAT!” They bring you in for a meet-and-greet of sorts where you can feel out the dog and the program can feel you out to see if you’d be a good fit. They brought us on a tour of the facility and talked to us about their program, while all I could think to myself was “bring us the damn dog!!” Eventually we were brought to a room where we’d wait to meet our (hopefully) new dog… and that’s when Kennedy came bounding in the room. I’ll never forget it. He had an adorable bandana (make him presentable so the nice family will want him!) around his neck, and he was so excited. He came running in, threw himself on the ground and rolled over, belly up, right next to my dad. He had officially identified the sucker. We got to take him for a walk around the property and within about an hour, we were driving home with our new dog! It was one of the best days of my life.

kennedy4

What would follow would be twelve years filled with some of the best memories that I’ve been privileged to acquire. We developed our own (ridiculous sounding) language to talk to Kennedy. We gave him a middle name — O’Reilly. My dad took him for hour long walks every morning, no matter the weather, up to the park a mile away that was eventually referred to as “Kennedy’s Park.” We taught him to give us his paws, to lay down and roll over, and even to “dance.” We learned that if we rubbed the inside of his ear just the right way he’d purr like a cat. We also learned early on that if you left any food out, he’d eat it… including a dozen funfetti cupcakes left by my sister on the back of the counter. We figured out he couldn’t be tamed by a baby gate, and would break it down and take part of the wall with him. He couldn’t be kept off the couch, but was smart enough to only do it when we weren’t around. Walking was for sniffing time, and he had no interest in any running aside from short bursts in the backyard. Bath time was a chore in which he refused to sit, and would roll around in the grass immediately following, running in fast tight circles like a lunatic. He thought ice cubs were a treat (until he eventually figured out it was just frozen water), he loved fruits and vegetables, and was the perfect post-meal floor vacuum. He never barked. He never growled. He knew just the right moment to come over to you when you were sad. And he loved with all his heart, just the way we loved him.

kennedy7

Our little family of five was brought together by chance and a little later than I would have liked, but it was everything my 8 year old dog obsessed self could have dreamed.  Everyone tells you that their pet is the best and the most wonderful pet you’ll ever meet… and my feelings for Kennedy are no exception. I didn’t live with him very long, but always looked forward to pulling up to my parent’s house and seeing him waiting for me outside in the nice weather, or greeting me right at the door in the winter. So at the age of 10 and with every passing year, I became increasingly nervous knowing that a labrador’s life expectancy is generally 10 to 12. But we hit 10, 11, 12, even 13… and Kennedy was still truckin’, albeit at a much slower pace. His hind legs became increasingly weaker, he started having little tremors where his eyes would blink and his head would shake for a few moments, and he became picky with his food choices. But he was still happy and wasn’t in pain which was important. As each year passed, my parents agreed that they wouldn’t be selfish and try to keep him around just because they wanted him around… if there ever came a point where he seemed like life was just too difficult for him or he was in pain, there would be no hesitation. We had a little blip a week before his 14th birthday where he came down with a virus and we though we would have to say goodbye, but he made it to 14. Not only did he make it to 14, he gave us 5 whole extra months to give him love… and boy did he get it. I visited my parents almost weekly, spending as much time as I could snuggling him and just telling him how much I loved him.

kennedy2

As the summer months progressed, it became more and more clear that living each day was an exhausting chore. Walking was hard; my parents covered as much as their hardwood floors as they could with cheap $5 yoga mats to prevent him from slipping. He became even pickier with his food choices, some days barely eating at all. He’d walk around anxious and confused, seeming like he wasn’t really sure where he was or what was going on. But despite all of that, he was still that sweet Kennedy I met back in 2004 and fell in love with. We knew it was only a matter of time, but still hoped that somehow he’d defy the odds and live comfortably for a lot longer. Oh how selfish we can be.

Unfortunately on Friday, September 2nd 2016 it was time for us to say goodbye.

Anyone that’s ever owned a pet knows that the love you have for your animal cannot be put into words. It’s an indescribable bond that I was privileged to have. It’s really hard to imagine my life without him in it, but the time he shared with me and the memories from that time will last forever. So while I’m heartbroken and writing this post through a veil of tears, I know that I’m oh so lucky to be in this position. To have had a dog that was such a huge and important part of my (and my family’s!) life for so long, that I can’t even imagine my life without him. It’s just another reminder that all life is short and precious, and you need to cherish every moment; the good ones and the bad ones.

kennedy1

So sleep well, sweet Kennedy O’Reilly. May your days be filled with belly one rubs, pup treats and pupcorn, long walks, and the occasional punch in the fatche. You forever changed our lives for the better, and we are so grateful you chose us as your forever family that fateful day 12 years ago. We love you, buddy boy.

kennedy5

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Filed under Life

Friday Favorites: Winter Edition

Now would you look at that – another blog post! Don’t get too excited; usually when I have this mojo to blog more often it lasts for a week or two and then I disappear again. Maybe 2016 will be different, but I’m not making any promises!

At any rate, with the weather finally feeling like winter (boo!) I thought it would be fun to make this Friday Favorites more about things that help me get through the winter.

Mario Badescu’s Olive Eye Cream
My skin, like most people’s, can get extremely dry during the winter months. It wasn’t until a few years ago, though, that I noticed the skin around my eyes also getting extremely dry. Since my skin is rather sensitive and I’m not really looking for any “anti-aging” properties (though I guess I should probably start…) I just wanted a good, thick lotion.

mario

Enter Mario Badescu’s olive eye cream. This eye cream fits the bill – it’s thick and creamy without being greasy. And most importantly, it doesn’t break me out! I’ve been using it around my nose as well as a barrier since I have a cold, and it’s been a game changer.

Oiselle Katron Vest
I bought the Katron jacket late last year, and love it. I don’t run in it, but it’s the perfect jacket to throw on for before and after workouts. It’s warm without being suffocating, and there are SO MANY POCKETS! When the weather started getting cool again, I began lusting over the vest version and started to kick myself for not ordering one (in burgen) last year.

For work AND for run. I'm really glad I didn't have to crop out Miranda's face.

For work AND for run. I’m really glad I didn’t have to crop out Miranda’s face.

I wasn’t originally sold on the shiny fabric of the 2015/16 version, but after comparing it to other options, I realized that shiny is in for sportswear puffy vests. The deciding factor for me between this vest and other brands was the removable hood. I’ve only taken it off once, but having that option made a difference to me. While it doesn’t have as many pockets as the jacket, it still has 7… which is A LOT! I can easily stash my phone, keys, a little wallet that has the essentials (ID, PATH/Metrocard, cash, debit card), and I still have room for extras… I’ve even stashed a shirt in the back pocket to be able to change into after a run! And maybe most important, is that I can easily wear it for a run or wear it as a vest with a pair of jeans and long sleeve shirt. Versatility is key!

Kahtoola Microspikes
I was actually sent a pair of Kahtoola Nanospikes in the fall to try out, but knew it would likely be some time before I was able to give them a go (which I didn’t mind, I don’t like winter and snow). We had a mostly mild early winter – I’m talking light coat for Christmas, running in shorts well into January – until this past weekend. Apparently mother nature wanted to make up for lost time, because she dumped nearly 2 feet of snow on us over the weekend! Since Jersey City was mostly shutdown all day on Saturday, I figured it would be the perfect time to give the nanospikes a try.

A little snow? Meh.

A little snow? Meh.

When I set out for my run, there was already a decent amount of snow on the ground. The plows had come through maybe once or twice, so the roads had snow on them, but it was packed and not nearly as much as the sidewalks. After being out there for only 5 minutes, I realized how much of a game changer the nanospikes are. My feet weren’t slipping nearly as much as they would have been without the grips, and I had a little extra confidence with every step (this isn’t to say I wasn’t still cautious, though, because I was was!). I was exhausted after 3 miles, but I know it would have been even more tiring without the extra grip the nanospikes provided. I can’t believe I waited all these years to give them a try!

Birchbox ARROW Boost Enhancing Lip Color
I’ve been using Birchbox since August after my sister raved about it. When I saw they were coming out with their own makeup and skincare product line that caters to those living the active lifestyle, I was immediately interested.  The line itself is still a work in progress (they have a few things available now and more launching soon), but one thing immediately caught my attention – their Boost Enhancing Lip Color. I must admit I was a little skeptical. A lip moisturizer that adjusts to your pH to give you a little color? It reminded me of those terrible “mood” lipsticks from the early 90’s that somehow always turned your lips a terrible blue. Despite this initial feeling, since I’m trying to embrace colored lips a little more and Birchbox is yet to let me down, I ordered a stick.

birchbox

Let me tell you – I am obsessed with this lip color!! It’s really just a tinted lip moisturizer/lip gloss, but it’s awesome. It gives my lips a slight flushed pink color, moisturizes them, and lasts a long time. I’ve been using it every single day (and mulitiple times a day!) since I got it a few weeks ago and I’m already thinking about how I should order more to stock up. I can’t wait to try the other products in their line as they come out!

Tieks Flats
You’re probably thinking, “why in the world would someone put flats on their “winter favorites” list?!” Well, hear me out. I’ve had Tieks on my wish list for quite some time, but never pulled the trigger (I mean, they aren’t exactly cheap!). I finally got a pair for Christmas this year, and for obvious reasons (NYC should be renamed to Puddle City in the winter), haven’t worn them outside yet. That being said, I HAVE worn them inside!

I got the Vegan Silver Lake color!

I got the Vegan Silver Lake color!

Thanks to the fact that they fold in half and come with a little pouch that you can store them in, they’re the ultimate portable shoe. So, when it was snowing this morning and I thought to myself, “I don’t think I want to wear my Sorel snow boots ALL day in the office, I should bring another pair of shoes to change into…” I immediately grabbed my Tieks! They are super comfortable and really cute, and I’m already thinking about my next pair!

So that’s what I’m loving {so far} this winter!

Tell me…
What are you loving this winter? 

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Filed under Life, Running

Monday Favorites!

Since I’m not really a fan of Mondays, I thought it would be fun to switch up my typical “Friday Favorites” and make it a Monday Favorites instead!

Flannel Shirts

Nothing says fall like flannel – am I right?

Merp.

I call this my ‘late summer, early fall flannel’

Of course, there’s a fine line between fall chic and lumberjack, but I’ve fallen in love with flannel shirts this fall. Not all prints, colors, and cuts are created equal, but most stores seem to have some really great options this season… Some of my favorites have come from J.Crew and Old Navy. I love seeing them worn open as a cardigan, layered with sweaters, and worn just as a regular button-down. So despite their lumber jack qualities, they scream fall to me.

Supergoop CC Cream

I first tried Supergoop‘s sunscreen as a sample from my sister’s Birchbox before ordering my own. I was impressed with the coverage and its ability to not make me look like a grease ball. So I was thrilled when I received a sample of their CC cream in my own Birchbox a few months later.

supergoop

I knew after wearing it just one day that I needed to purchase the full size. It provides just the right amount of color to even and smooth everything out, isn’t heavy, and somehow manages to keep my extreme combination skin from getting dry or oily. I struggle a lot with my combination skin – part of it can be dry and flaking while another part looks like an oil slick. The Supergoop CC cream manages to keep it all at bay, with sunscreen as an added bonus!

Kindle

I’ve always been a die-hard book reader. When e-readers first came out I scoffed at the idea of not having a hard copy of a book… There’s just something about the way turning the page feels! But then I started commuting on a train that’s typically (crowded) standing room only.

Kindle + coffee... two of my favorite things.

Kindle + coffee… two of my favorite things.

In a perfect world I’d be able to hold my book and turn the pages with ease while standing on the packed train, but that just isn’t the reality. Half the time I’m lucky if I can even get a spot on the pole to hold on, so trying to turn the page of a book with one hand is tricky. I did it for a while, but with how slow the PATH is some days, I found myself having to turn the page too many times during a one-way trip. So I decided it was time for a Kindle. I bought the paperwhite a few months ago and haven’t looked back. I can hold it and turn the pages easily with one hand and it’s so small and compact there’s always room for it in my bag. Sure, I can’t publicize the awesome books that I’m reading to my fellow commuters, but no one really gives a shit anyway. They just don’t want my page turning to invade their space.

Birchbox

As I mentioned when talking about the Supergoop, I recently signed up for Birchbox. My sister decided to give it a try and was really enjoying it, so I figured I’d give it a shot as well.

Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 5.34.20 PM

For only $10 a month, I figured if it didn’t work out it wouldn’t be a big deal, but it turns out I’m really loving it so far! I’ve gotten to try a lot of new-to-me products that have all been the perfect size to throw in my gym bag or take with me on a trip, and some of them have been so great I’ve purchased their full-size counterpart! I mean, $10/month is just two fancy lattes!

Scream Queens

This new FOX show is a new favorite of mine.

ScreamQueens

It’s basically a slightly scary Halloween version of Mean Girls; sorority girls being typical sorority girls but with the twist of a killer on the loose whose targets are a specific group of people. My favorite part is that every episode leaves me I question who I think the “red devil” killer is. Emma Roberts is fantastic in it, and I love seeing Abigail Breslin all grown up!

So tell me, on this fine Monday, what are you loving?!

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So… Do You Still Run?

Alternate title for this post: do you still blog?

The answer to both of these questions – I suppose – is yes, but I took a little break! I realized that after signing up and starting to train for marathon three years in a row only to wind up injured and out a race fee, a break was necessary. I’ve spent A LOT of money on race entries for races I never got to do and copays for doctor and physical therapy appointments. Not to mention all that time training only to have it cut short. Aside from the time and money spent, I’ve also had plenty of time to wallow in self pity and feel sorry for myself. Questioning whether or not I was “cut out for running” has been the theme for the last few years. But now that it’s been a full year of yo-yo running with my longest no running streak since I started in 2009, I’m ready to refocus.

Part of my problem – self inflicted of course – has been my obsession with running a marathon. Not because I like running them – and I like training for them even less! – but because at some point along the way I decided THAT was what would make me a runner. Thinking about it now that I’ve gotten out of my own head, I realize how silly that is. I can be a badass runner no matter the distance I train and race! But because I had this idea in my head that I needed to run a good marathon, I set myself up for repeated failure. I’d start to train, get hurt and take time off, get back to running and try to make up for lost time, and start the cycle all over again. Each time, my body cried out and I ignored it. Until this time.

If you’ve been following along, you know the last marathon I truly trained for (and even that was half-assed!) was Chicago 2012. I had plans to run Richmond in 2013, but issues with my sinus tarsi in my right foot forced me to drop to the half. I was able to spring board off of that and have a killer spring and summer where I crushed my half marathon and 5k PRs, but just under a month before the 2014 Philadelphia marathon I developed a really stubborn case of ITBS… and running hasn’t really been the same since. I got back to double digit runs by late spring 2015, but managed to develop sinus tarsi pain in my left foot this time. Being as stubborn as my previous ITBS injury, I knew Chicago 2015 wasn’t going to happen for me. So if you’re counting, that’s three marathons in a row I’ve been forced to DNS. Thankfully Chicago allowed me to defer to 2016. So, fourth time’s the charm?

I went to Chicago for the marathon this past weekend even though I wasn’t running. It’s one of my favorite cities and I knew a lot of people racing; it was a perfect excuse for a long weekend away. I spent all day Sunday cheering and being inspired. But I really never had a “I wish I was running a marathon!” moment. Instead, I just wanted to be running. That realization was a big shift for me. Since my last injury I’ve been afraid to start again. Worried I’d just be counting down to my next injury. Convinced I’d never reach the lofty but attainable goals I had once set for myself. But I can’t just quit something I enjoy because it’s been a bit of a struggle, can I? That’s not who I am as an athlete — I know I have some raw ability, but I need to work for it. I know what needs to be done, and I need to just start doing it.

So back to the title of this post: do I still run? Well, I haven’t consistently in a year. But that changed on Monday, October 12th when I decided it was time to stop being afraid and to get back to doing something I love – running. But it also marked a change in my approach. I am a HUGE planner and love to throw races up on my calendar… which is great until you get injured. So that’s the first thing I’m doing differently. I’m not signing up for any races. The only thing on my calendar is the 2016 Disney 10k and half marathon in January. There’s nothing else on my calendar and I plan to keep it that way. If something presents itself in a month where I can sign up the day before or day-of, I’ll consider it, but I’m otherwise not committing to anything. And nothing longer than a 10k. I also plan to spend more time focusing on ‘the little things.’ I think I’ve improved on that front during each running cycle, but it obviously hasn’t been good enough. I need to make the extras a priority. I’m hopeful that this new laid back but focused approach will work for me, and I can get back to a place where my relationship with running is more “on” than “off.” And besides, I know I’m a great cowbeller, but it’d be nice to get the cheers for a change!

So here’s to my comeback. One methodical step at a time.

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Friday Favorites & a Virtual Race!

Hello friends! I know it’s been a while and I’m doing a bad job at this whole ‘blogging on the reg’ thing, but we’ll take what we can get, yes? It’s hard to believe that summer is almost over (sure there’s technically a month left, but if we’re being honest, August is just one giant Sunday night). But let’s get to the good stuff!

by Chloe
I’ve gone to this restaurant three times since it opened two weeks ago, and I would absolutely go every day if I could swing it. In fact, just last week I went for lunch and dinner on the same day. I’m planning on doing a full post about it soon, but in the meantime I wanted to mention here how I’m completely obsessed with it and want to try every single menu item (and I’m well on my way).

Guac burger. Possibly the best veggie burger I've ever had

Guac burger. Possibly the best veggie burger I’ve ever had

I remember watching Chloe Coscarelli on Cupcake Wars and I’ve made a few of her recipes, and they’ve all be fabulous… and her restaurant is no exception. If you’re in the NYC area, you need to get yourself over to by Chloe in the village. Whether you’re a vegan or not, you’re going to be pleasantly surprised by this deliciousness. I promise!

Nothin’ But – coconut chocolate almond granola bar
This was a total impulse purchase earlier in the week at Whole Foods. I popped in after spin glass to grab a coconut water, and somehow left with coconut water, a box of whoopie pies, and this granola bar. Oops?

Nothin' but delicious

Nothin’ but delicious

It’s a sizable bar, and the flavor is fantastic. It isn’t your typical hard and chewy granola bar; it tastes like homemade granola and you can tell that it just has simple, whole ingredients. I want more.

May Designs notebooks
I’ve become slightly obsessed with these notebooks, and I’m not ashamed! It’s no secret that I love notebooks and pens/pencils (so I’m obviously loving that it’s back to school season) and these are my absolute favorites.

maydesigns

They are small and portable, but big enough so you don’t feel like you’re straining to write in them. They are completely customize-able and offer a ton of really fun options. There are multiple prints and monogram options to choose from, and also different kinds of notebooks; I have both lined and unlined books, an agenda, and even a food + fitness journal!

The Mustache Dache!
So this is a race I’ve watched play out year after year, envious of everyone that was able to slap on a fake mustache and run a 5k. I had hoped the event would make it’s way to my area, and while it hasn’t just yet, they have the next best thing – a virtual race! Earlier this week I was contacted and asked if I’d like to participate and if you know anything about me, you know that I LOVE MUSTACHES, so I didn’t even have to think before replying yes!

Side note: Don’t ask me why I love mustaches. I have no logical explanation. I just do. They’ve somehow become my ‘thing’ over the last few years and I now bring some type of mustache to every party or wedding (finger tattoos, ones to put on bottles, ones on sticks… I’ve tried them all).

See!  This is just a small sampling of my mustache photos!

See! This is just a small sampling of my mustache photos!

Anyway, when I said that I’d be interested in participating in the virtual run, I was able to get a discount code for my readers, too! So, if you’re interested in running the virtual Mustache Dache with me this November, you can sign up here! And if you’re in the NYC area, we can all do the run together (yes, I will provide fake mustaches for us)! Just let me know in the comments if you register!

So that’s what I’m currently obsessing over. Still not really running, but thankfully I’ve been keeping myself busy with other workouts. I have a follow-up doctor appointment today, so we’ll see what she says about my lack of real progress.

So tell me…
What are you loving lately?

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No More Marathons

Before I get into this post, I wanted to let you know my GoMacro Bar giveaway is closed. Go check it out and see if you’ve won! Anyway…

 

“I was hopeful I’d have a better update for you, but no such luck…” is how I started my latest e-mail to my awesome (and patient) coach, Jason of Strength Running. We’ve been working together since the fall of 2013 and he’s helped me put in the work to drop my half marathon time by nearly 10 minutes, my 5k by 3 minutes, and to just overall become a better and smarter runner. So I knew that he’d be just as disappointed to hear what I was about to tell him – I’m not going to be running a fall marathon… for the third fall season in a row.

I’m sure a lot of you saw me tweet last Friday that I was able to run 2 miles without any foot and ankle pain, which is true. However, a few hours after the run while sitting at my desk at work, I started to feel that all too familiar discomfort. It wasn’t terrible, but it definitely didn’t instill any confidence in me that I could run again the next day. With only thirteen weeks until the Chicago marathon start, I knew what I had to do. I had to pull the plug on marathon training.

If you’ve been following along, I had a killer spring and summer running season in 2014. I was pumped and ready to go for marathon training and it was well underway until ITBS came barging in at the end of September. By the middle of October I knew that my hopes for running (and crushing) the Philly marathon that November were gone. I spent the next two and a half months strengthening and going to PT and was ready to get back into it by late January. I started running again (albeit cautiously) and had a few decent workouts and longer runs. Then around the end of April/beginning of May I noticed a slight discomfort in my foot and ankle area after one of my longer runs. I didn’t think anything of it at first and was able to continue running without much issue. When it didn’t go away and started to get more noticeable, though, I realized it was time to take a little break; this was the end of May. It was at that point I realized I was dealing with the same issue I had in the summer of 2013, but I was hopeful I caught it early enough that I’d still have plenty of time to get back into marathon training. I did the take a week off, try to run, take another week off, try to run again cycle for a few weeks, and after running the Mini 10k and having my ankle swell afterwards, I went to the doctor. It’s not a stress fracture (which is great), but it’s not something I can run with, either. I can’t commit to training for a 26.2 race when I can’t get through a 2 mile run and not having pain during or after. Even if this completely clears up by next week (which I’m not holding my breath for), I don’t have a solid base to go into a rushed training cycle. With my track record, I’d wind up injuring something else either during training or on race day. It’s just not worth it.

So what does this mean? Well, it means I’ve wasted a whole lot of money [insert the flying money emoji here]! I’m obviously extremely disappointed and frustrated; this is now the the third season in a row that I’ve signed up for a marathon and will be unable to run it. And you know what they say about three strikes — you’re out. So I’ve committed to NOT signing up for any more marathons for quite some time. Once this current injury is gone, I’m planning to stick to the shorter stuff – I’m thinking 5k/10k revolution. Only after staying injury free for a while will I even entertain the idea of signing up for another marathon. At this point, my wallet and my sanity couldn’t handle it any other way.

That being said, I’m unsure if I’ll be in Chicago for the marathon or not. The hotel is already booked, I have a lot of friends running, and Chicago is one of my most favorite cities in the world. So I’m leaning towards using it as an excuse for a weekend trip and cheer session. Sure, it’ll be hard to be on the sidelines, but the deep dish pizza and beer will help make up for that.

In the meantime you can find me sweating it out at FlyWheel and Refine Method. Thank goodness for awesome cross training options.

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A Necessary (Running) Update

Remember when I said I was going to try and blog more frequently and consistently? Whoops. I had intentions of blogging but then this little thing called life got in the way, so blogging took a back seat (as usual). The good news is, though, I have a post scheduled for Friday with a giveaway!

Anyway, the title of this blog is called ‘a necessary update’ because last time we chatted, I mentioned some foot and ankle pain I was dealing with. I assumed it was my peroneal tendon and thought I’d be back in action sooner rather than later. Well, after running the Mini 10k with some friends on June 13th, I realized things weren’t so simple. I quickly made an appointment at the Women’s Sport Medicine Center at the Hospital for Special Surgery and spent the next two weeks panicking.

After my initial visit, my doctor wasn’t sure if I had a stress fracture or not, so she sent me for an MRI the following week with a follow-up scheduled for two days before my birthday – talk about a make or break diagnosis! When I went to the doctor initially I was sure I didn’t have a stress fracture, but after seeing her uncertainty I was then convinced I did. I wallowed in self pity, didn’t go to any Refine Method classes for fear of making it worse, and tried to figure out what the heck I was going to do with two fall marathons on my calendar (neither of which have deferral options).

My follow-up appointment was on Friday 6/26 and I’d like to think it was a combination of the gay fairies and birthday juju that gave me the answer I needed – no stress fracture!! Instead, my sinus tarsi is overworked and angry about it. So while I won’t be sidelined like I would have been with a stress fracture, I do need to take things easy. I’m started back up with Refine Method last week (thank goodness) and did a 15 minute run on Monday morning. Thankfully I’ve been able to do Flywheel without issue, so three to four classes a week has been my savior. I know that I have to continue to do more cross training than running for the interim and thankfully I got a lot of fitness gift cards for my birthday.

So what does this mean for my fall marathon plans? At this point, I’m not sure. As of this past weekend, the Chicago Marathon is 14 weeks away. So in theory, I still have some wiggle room and the ability to train for it. Sure, it may not wind up being the goal race I had envisioned back when I signed up, but that’s okay. Chicago is an amazing city and I loved every step of that race in 2012, so I have every intention of being there in October. The jury is still out on NYC Marathon, but we’ll see how the next few weeks go. Oh, and I’m running a beer mile on July 18th in Brooklyn… LOLZ for days on that one.

To sum it all up, I’m in a slightly better spot than I was two weeks ago, but I’m not out of the woods yet. So I’m going to keep my fingers and toes crossed and keep up with cross training. I’ve had a lot of moments where I want to completely throw in the towel, admit defeat, and break up with running. But I know there’s more to this relationship, even if it’s slightly abusive at times ;).

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Oh Hi!

Well hello there! It’s been quite a while, hasn’t it? Things have been busy around these parts and I haven’t had the time or energy to really blog. After most hiatuses, though, I’m trying to tell myself I should get back into blogging. I mean, it is something I enjoy doing after all! So what have I been doing these last three months? Let’s play catch up!

I started a new job. It’s been almost two months since I started and I’m finally at a point where I feel like I’m a contributing member of my team. A lot of time was spent with training, reading, and other on-boarding requirements not only for the company but also my specific department. For those that don’t know, I’m a technical writer which means I write user-facing documentation. You know the stuff you read when you go to the “Help” section on websites and stuff? I’m the one that takes the features that have been developed and try to explain them in layman’s terms to help users. You wouldn’t believe the amount of time spent trying to come up with something as simple as a title. I always thought creative writing was hard, but taking something complex and technical and trying to turn it into something simple and straight-forward? Oof. So as you can imagine, my brain hasn’t been wired for writing more when I get home.

Running has been limited. Things were going pretty decently after my IT band drama of the winter, but then I noticed some slight discomfort in my outer ankle/foot area. I traced it back to my peroneal tendon, but it’s being a real jerk and making it difficult for me to run consistently. When I say it’s being a jerk, I mean that I can generally run with it because it’s only slightly uncomfortable, but then after sitting for a while (and especially the next morning) my first few steps are quite painful. I’ve been foam rolling and using my trigger point ball like a mad woman, but it doesn’t seem to be helping much. It needs to get better sooner rather than later, though, because Chicago marathon training needs to start soon – ack!

I’m obsessed with fitness classes. Not too long ago the idea of fitness classes seemed silly to me. I always thought to myself, “why pay X amount when I can just go and do the same stuff at the gym?” Well guess what? I wasn’t actually going to the gym and doing that stuff. I have a weird level of motivation, and if it’s just me going to the gym on my own, I oftentimes skip it. BUT, if I’m paying money for a specific class that has an instructor, I’m much more likely to go. Some of the classes and memberships are really expensive, but if you’re going, enjoying yourself, and seeing results, I think it’s worth every penny. The best part is that most of my friends are very into fitness as well, so we push each other to get to classes and try new ones. Last week I tried barre for the first time and was surprised at how hard it was and how sore my abs were the next day! Not to mention they’ve been really helpful for me to keep my fitness up while dealing with my on and off running drama.

So that’s really what has been going on around these parts; adjusting to my new job, trying to get myself healthy to start marathon training, and keeping my fitness up by going to my tried-and-true fitness classes and also trying some new ones. After this long and cold winter I’m looking forward to the sunshine and warmth of summer, and hope to blog more about summertime fun!

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