Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Stitch Fix Part Deux

Ok y'all it's Stitch Fix time. I asked (on Facebook) if you wanted to hear about my fix and the response was yes.  So here it is!  

For those of you late to the party, here's the rundown on Stitch Fix.  ( First I just want to disclose:  if you sign up by clicking through the links throughout this post I will get a referral credit.  You can get them too, just share your referral link and you'll get a $25 credit when  )

Ok so what is Stitch FixThink of Stitch Fix as your own personal stylist.  I filled out a small questionnaire about my style likes and dislikes and what type of “fixes” I’d like to get.  For instance, whether or not I want work clothes or fun clothes or whether I like classic styles, trendy, romantic, bohemian, etc.   You can also adjust your fix every month if you’re shopping for a special occasion.  I think that’s an awesome concept.  If I know I’m going to a wedding in August, I can adjust my fix and hopefully get the perfect little dress sent to me without ever having left the comfort of my own home.  No pushy and judgmental sales ladies either.  Seriously what’s with them? Oh and each item comes with styling tips on how to wear the item.  I personally like that I can try items on in the comfort of my own home and with pieces I already have in my closet.  

So here you go, what was in my "fix".  I don't have the official names of the clothes because I accidentally threw away my styling card.  Whoops.  Anyway, you don't need official names.  

This tank: 

I liked the color.  Does that count?  This top just wasn't me and I really didn't like this cut on my body. I don't do well with flawy loose tops.  I always feel like a pregnant woman.

Next up.  This tank:

I liked this tank much better.  The fit was better and I loved the color, but ultimately it's just not something I would wear a lot.  For the price, I would like something a little more fun.

Ok so here's the fun part.  I asked my stylist this month for something I could wear for Ella's first communion coming up.  My stylist sent me two dresses and a very nice note telling me about her first communion.  How cute is that?

First, she sent this necklace:

I thought the necklace was really beautiful and I loved how it matched BOTH dresses that were sent.  It shows how my stylist is really taking time to give me what I want. 

The first dress (please disregard my unshowered self):  

I REALLY liked this dress.  It fit me perfectly and it was adorable.  It also had a gold exposed zipper in the back that I thought was fun.  Ultimately at $118 for a jersey dress, the price just wasn't right (for me) so I didn't chose it.


In the end, I decided to keep this dress.  I loved it.  I loved the color.  I loved the fit. It's a little snug through the girls, but going up a size would have made it not fit elsewhere.

Look how pretty it looks with the necklace.  

So yep, this is what I'll be wearing for Ella's communion and I didn't even have to leave my house to find it.  How is that for stress free shopping?

I actually decided NOT to keep the necklace.  I went back and forth about a million times in my mind, but in the long run, I just wouldn't wear it a LOT so spending $48 on it just didn't make sense.  Basically I'm cheap.  

I can't wait for y'all to see this dress when I'm a little more spiffed up and someone else (besides my self timer on my cell phone) is taking my picture. 

So there you have it.  My monthly Stitch Fix.  I'm not disappointed that I only kept 1 thing this month.  If I think about my shopping elsewhere, I'll often go into the fitting room with 10 things and maybe I won't even buy one.  The fact that I was able to find a dress for a special occasion without even leaving my home is priceless.   Now… for the shoes!  

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Panera Bread Giveaway

By now you all know I've partnered with the Pittsburgh Marathon and Panera Bread to be an Official Training Menu Blogger.  I've been eating at Panera Bread throughout my training to help fuel my body PROPERLY (there's a concept).  It's been pretty eye opening actually.  Putting good stuff into my body actually works.  

Have y'all even looked at the Training Menu?  Some people have asked me where to find it.  You can look at all the items on the Official Training Menu by clicking here.  The items on the menu, however, are normal every day items.  They're just items Panera has selected because they focus on healthy, 
energizing ingredients.  

I, for one, can vouch for the fact that they are energizing and SATISFYING ingredients and that's saying a lot from me.  

Because I'm so excited about the training menu, I (personally) am offering one lucky winner a $10 gift card to Panera.  If you win, you have to promise to try ONE item from the training menu.   I realize $10 isn't a LOT, but it's enough to get you one meal from the training menu.    I'm just excited to get one (or more) people to try something nutritious and delicious from Panera. 

To enter the giveaway, fill out the rafflecopter form below: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 14, 2014

Couch to 5K-- Kim's Story

Hey all:  While I'm on vacation… well I want to be on vacation so I've got a few things up my sleeve to publish while I'm away, but postings this week will be few and far between.  

First up, a story from my new friend Kim.  This is a story of inspiration and how, if you think you can't you probably should just go ahead and believe in yourself because, like Kim, you CAN!  Enjoy!  

For quite some time I have been meaning to sit down and put all of these thoughts swimming in my mind into writing.  The perfectionist in me was holding me back as I felt like I didn’t have the adequate time to exactly put into words my feelings, but that ends now.  Here it goes…

I guess one could say that I started out as a FB stalker.  I have a friend who follows MomSwimBikeRun (MSBR—my own shortened version) on FB.  About a year ago I started noticing her comment on various MSBR posts.  When I think back the first comments I remember were in regards to a planking challenge that MSBR was having.  I thought that’s pretty cool, but only kept “stalking” the comments and wasn’t a follower of MSBR yet. 
Over the next few months I noticed this same friend commenting on MSBR FB posts regarding “deck of cards workouts” in the driveway.  It was the early part of summer vacation of 2013, and several moms would get together in a driveway (or maybe sometimes a yard) and participate in different workouts using a deck of cards as their guide for which exercises to do.  Yep, at this point I still just remained a stalker.  I thought it was so neat that these women would get together and exercise like this.  I imagined them cheering each other on and kids running around having fun.  A win-win for everyone, but I was too scared to ask if I could participate.  I was thinking I probably couldn’t do what they were doing anyways.
As the summer went on I decided to start following MSBR on FB.  I believe it was early August, and I started to read some of Susan’s blog posts.  I follow several clean eating, and health & fitness role models and there is something about MSBR that really hit me.  She tells it like it is and shares her awesome accomplishments as well as her true life struggles.  In my mind, this is a perfect balance.  I sent her a private message after reading one particular blog post and thanked her for being so real.

This brings us to the fall.  School has started and so have fall activities.  Wouldn’t you know it?!  Our daughters have been assigned to the same soccer team and Susan’s hubby is one of the team coaches.  Isn’t it funny how our lives cross each other’s path sometimes?  I was reading more and more blog posts and following MSBR daily workouts on FB.  I would marvel at the fact that she would get up super early to get a kickass workout in before coming to watch her daughter plan soccer on a Saturday morning!  Let alone all the weekday workouts and different races and or competitions she participated in.  I was really into following MSBR and she was becoming more and more of an inspiration to me.  Yet I never had the courage to go up to her at any of the soccer games and introduce myself in person.  I was becoming the ultimate stalker. 

Throughout the fall I kept following her daily FB posts as well as reading blog posts here and there.  One of the fun activities that Susan does is monthly challenges.  In December of 2013 she had a burpee challenge.  It was 30 days to 100 burpees (in one day!).  I went out on a limb and decided to join the challenge.  What did I have to lose?  And extra exciting was my friend Carrie from IN started following MSBR and did the burpee challenge with us.  I wasn’t doing any other consistent exercise at this time.  So I put my heart into the burpee challenge, never missing a day.  And I was so proud of myself for completing this challenge.  I even won a drawing one day and received a gift certificate to Whole Foods.  Who wouldn’t love this?
It must have been late December that I was following a post about MSBR running another race or getting ready for the Pittsburgh Marathon.  I mentioned that running had always been my nemesis, and it was a goal of mine to one day truly learn how to run.  Susan mentioned a race coming up in March, and I thought I could probably handle a 5K but had no genuine plans.  That is until she forwarded me an email from Mojo announcing their next C25K program to start in January.  After thinking about it for a few days I decided I would give it a go.  The night before the informational meeting I was getting nervous about committing to a running program.  I mean, I really didn’t think I could become a runner.  I sent Susan a PM on FB mentioning I was nervous about the meeting.  We messaged back and forth and this is basically how we really got to know each other.  I guess this was sort of a “workout buddy to be” getting to know each other session online!  Susan really encouraged me to go the meeting.  She assured me that Mojo people were fantastic and that I really had nothing to lose by going to the meeting.  I remember being so thankful that she took the time to chat with me and to encourage me to go for it!

Susan was right!  The meeting was a breeze and I was on my way to training for my first C25K.  For the record I had walked a couple of 5Ks in previous years, but never ran one!
Wouldn’t you know that this winter was one of the worst in terms of temps?  I couldn’t meet with me C25K group for all of the group scheduled runs.  One day I threw up a request on FB for someone to please run with me outside.  I think the temps were supposed to be barely in the 20’s with lots of wind and snow of course.  Naturally there were not a lot of people jumping on board for such a crazy request.  MomSwimBikeRun came to my rescue!  Susan agreed to meet me for a very cold run.  At this point in my training I was at a run/walk, and she never left my side.  I had such a great time running with her.  I mean how cool was it to be running with someone who had been inspiring me for longer than she knew?  It definitely lifted my confidence!

We continued meeting most Thursday mornings during my training over the next eight weeks.  I think it must have been either our first or second run that we discussed how I learned about her MomSwimBikeRun page through a mutual friend and that our daughters were on a soccer team together.  Yep…my stalking days were officially over.  There was a friendship developing!  I also became somewhat of a regular on her blog posts as part of the requirement of her running with you is that you take a selfie at the end of the run.  How fun is that?  I was officially a part of workout blog posts with the very woman who inspired me to go after something that I thought I could never do.  I did have to tease her after one of our photos as I noticed she slipped off her headband and fluffed her hair.  Here she was looking all pretty after a sweaty run, and I’m looking like a sweaty hot mess! 

Being the well rounded athlete that she is, Susan also does cross training.  Specifically she is a Crossift warrior!  She just so happens to do Crossfit with one of my running trainers (the owner) from Mojo.  My Mojo C25K trainer had just come from a Crossfit class one Saturday morning as we were preparing for a training run.  She told me that Susan mentioned running with me.  Susan told her that she thought I was doing very well and was going to be a really strong runner with time and training.  My Mojo trainer agreed.  Can you imagine my excitement?  I was truly humbled by this.  Never in a million years did I imagine that the woman who inspired me would not only be running with me but also thinks I have potential to be a good runner.  Talk about inspiration and motivation!

Nearing the end of my C25K training I was getting pretty nervous for running my first 5K.  Now I realize it’s only 3.1 miles, but I still had the nervous belly going!  Susan sent me a very nice message the night before and a text very early the morning of my race.  I was excited and nervous!  My Mojo trainers and peeps were all pumped and ready to go that day in early March.  I raced my heart out!  The whole time I felt like I was running so slow yet I was out of breath.  My trainer was encouraging me to keep on going and reach a certain pace, and eventually I crossed that finish line with a huge smile on my face as I saw my husband and kids waiting for me with a banner.  It was so emotional to see my family and to cheer on my Mojo family!  After all of our C25K runners crossed the line and started chatting I wanted to find out what my official time was.  I had an idea from the timer, but honestly I had forgotten exactly what it was from all of the excitement going on.  My official time was 30:16 with a 9:46/mile pace.  And my goal was to do it in 34 minutes.  Susan was the first person I texted.  I couldn’t wait to share my exciting news with her after all the inspiration and training along the way!  She knew my goal was 34 minutes, and I suspect she knew I could do it more so than I thought I could.

So does the inspiration end here?  Heck no!  The day after running my first 5K I ran 5 miles with Susan.  I think I was running with a runner’s high from the previous day!
Along with my newfound love of that great feeling after an awesome run, a handful of us from my C25K group decided to run as a relay team at the Pittsburgh Marathon in early May.  Honestly, I think Susan is just as excited as we are.  It’s because of her prompting me to sign up for the C25K training group with Mojo that I’m sitting here typing about my whole experience and how Susan inspires and motivates me.  Not only has she inspired me to become a runner, but she has also inspired me to incorporate cross training into my life.  Specifically, I’ve decided to start Crossfit! 

At the end of our C25K journey our Mojo trainer invited us to an intro class at Crossfit.  It was such an exciting night.  Susan along with my Mojo trainer really encouraged me to take this on.  I’m very excited to take on this new challenge!  And it doesn’t end there.  I’m planning on running my first half marathon in the fall of 2014.  Susan has already sent me a list of possible half marathons to start thinking about!  Haha!

So there you have it!  A very long winded version of how I started following MomSwimBikeRun.  I enjoy reading about her daily training sessions, her achievements and her good and bad days.  Susan has inspired me to go after things I only ever thought about before.  What started out as FB stalking has turned into a friendship that I will forever be grateful for.  I suspect that Susan and I will be logging many, many miles together.




Thursday, April 10, 2014

How to Fuel For Long Runs and Races

I've been running for a long time now.  Can I say that?  It's been almost 5 years.  Wow!  I've run 3 Marathons and 14 half marathons and I have never bonked during a race due to fuel (knock on wood).  It's the one thing I've figured out and it's what works FOR ME.  It may not work for you, but I thought I'd share anyway.   And guess what, I don't know the science behind how it works for me, but it works.  So if it ain't broke… 

Let's take a peek shall we?

I always start my long runs with a gatorade prime.   Gatorade prime has 25 grams of Carbs and 100 calories and it tastes good.  I like the fruit punch.  I feel like it's packed full of the carbs/electrolytes I need without a lot of fluid.  Who needs a bunch of fluid sloshing around in their belly while running?  Not me!  

I'll also try to have some peanut butter toast or a bagel with peanut butter to eat.  

Whole Grain Bagel from Panera and the Official Training Menu 
The combination of the Prime and the toast/bagel is usually enough to keep me going throughout a really long run.  I do get hungry, but that's only because I'm like a newborn and need fed every 3 hours not because I'm not properly fueled.  

During my long runs, I only use water and I probably don't drink enough, but that's just because I'm lazy.  I do use Gu Energy Gels.  I take a Gu every 4 to 5 miles or roughly every 50 minutes.  I use the Chocolate Outrage because I think it tastes like chocolate icing.  Ha! 

But let's talk about how I do things during races.  I stick to the same Gu schedule, "gu"ing every 5 miles or so.  I find the key to using energy gels is using them BEFORE you need them.  If you get to the point where you are feeling lethargic and like you need some extra energy, you've waited too long to fuel.  During halves I usually fuel at miles 4 and 8.5 to 9.  

I really don't think that Gu/food are the key to a really good race, however.  I definitely believe the key to a good race is in hydration.  That means BEFORE and during a race.  I spend the day before a big race focused on hydration.  I can't tell you exactly how much I drink, but I have water with me all day and if I decide to drink something else (like say a Diet Coke with dinner) I force myself to drink a glass of water for every other beverage I have.  It's easier just to stick with water!  

As for during the race, I think it's important to fuel at EVERY aid station.  Even if you just take a few sips at first, I think it's good to just start the habit and stick with it.  I usually grab water at the first aid station and then alternate between water and Gatorade/Energy Drink at every other aid station.  I'll also take two waters if I'm actually feeling thirsty.  

And don't forget the AFTER.  Usually when I finish up a run, I don't really have an appetite (for a little while anyway), but I know I need to replace some calories.  I'm so glad I experimented with the Panera Official Training Menu and discovered the low fat B Green Smoothie.  It's so refreshing and the perfect thing to hold me over until my stomach is really ready to eat.  

So there you have it.  And I just want to point out.  Let's just say I'm running 13.1 miles.  I can expect to burn about 1300 calories.  

Let's break it down: 

Peanut butter toast: 300 calories 
Gatorade Prime:  100 calories 
2 Gus:  200 calories 
Gatorade:  300 calories 
Smoothie:  200 calories 

Total:  1100 calories

This is why you don't lose weight running.  Just sayin!  

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

CrossFit Open Reflections

Now that the CrossFit Open has ended, I just wanted to jot down a few thoughts about the whole thing.  You can read about how I felt BEFORE the Open here.  

Ok so when word of the open started buzzing around the box, I had NO INTENTION on signing up.  Honestly, I didn't.  I'll admit, however, that I was jealous of those signing up.  Jealous of their abilities and their courage to try something that seemed so far out of my reach.  

I talked to Tammy (my coach) about the Open on Facebook one night and told her my plan was to work really hard all year and sign up for the Open next year.  Tammy's response?  "Why wait?"  So I thought to myself,  "why wait" and I signed up.  Now maybe Tammy was just blowing smoke up my ass, but my feeling was if she told me to sign up then I should sign up.  After all, Tammy knows best!  If she believed in me… well… 

Before the Open I was so nervous.  I was sick to my stomach over what would come and what I couldn't do.  Little did I know.  

The first WOD came and it was the dreaded Double Under.  I couldn't do them when the Open started, but I practiced and I got them.  Not in a row, but I was able to do single, single, double and bust out enough to put up a score that wasn't too embarrassing (for me).   I COULD!  

I also managed to snatch 55 pounds several times-- a weight I had never even attempted prior to the Open.  I COULD!  

Then came 14.2 and the OHS (Over Head Squat).  Seriously?  Another thing I couldn't do.  Well I can do OHS, but the most I had done before the open was 45 pounds.  This WOD called for 65 pounds.  That might as well have been a Mack truck.  

I went and gave that WOD everything I had and I may have ended with only 3 OHS but, I got on the board.  I COULD!  

14.3 was my favorite WOD of the Open.  Box Jumps and Deadlifts.  Easy enough right?  

Yeah did I mention that the deadlifts were on an increasing ladder?  Yeah they were.  My 1 RM (rep max) before the open was 155.  That means I was able to lift 155 pounds one time.  

During this WOD I lifted 155 pounds 20 times AND managed 185 pounds 2 times.  A PR (personal record) IN A WOD!!! I COULD! 

14.4:  Rowing, T2B (Toes to Bar), Wall Balls, Cleans, Muscle Ups.  Ugh.  T2B-- another arch enemy. Before the Open the number of reps I was able to complete for T2B was ZERO!  Yep, zero!

At least I could row.

And you know what?  I got 5 T2B.  

I may not have made it to the other exercises, but I did another thing I couldn't do previously.  I did FIVE T2B.  I COULD!

Then there was the gnarliest, dirtiest workout I have every done in my whole entire life.  I took more strength and determination to complete than ANYTHING else I have ever done.  84 thrusters and 84 burpees.  65 pounds up over my head 84 times almost killed me.  To say it was grueling would be a massive understatement.  It took me forever, but I finished!  I did not F#$%ing quit! I COULD!!  

So while the reflections of the Open are many and I could go on for paragraphs with my thoughts, there's really ONE thing that I learned that far surpasses anything else.  That is-- all along I was so focused on what I couldn't do that I never even occurred to me to realize all the thing I COULD!!!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Lacrosse Mom

You've heard of the soccer mom, the hockey mom, well I'm now officially a lacrosse mom.  All three kids are playing lacrosse and it is in full swing.

Today, it all started with Jack's very first practice this morning.  He has been so excited for weeks as Nicholas started before he did, and his first practice got cancelled due to weather.  Needless to say, with all the anticipation, he was psyched this morning.  Meet #14 on Mars Alien Attack Lacrosse.  Yes really!  haha

Today all three practice/game/practice were back to back to back.  Couple that with CCD and Ella's "Jesus Day" in prep for Communion and we needed some nutritious food fast.

You can see where this is going right?  I really do love Panera Bread and the Official Training Menu and I'm honored to be partnered with Panera Bread and the Pittsburgh Marathon as I train to run 26.2 miles.

The thing is, I have always loved Panera and so does my family.  I eat there with Jack for lunch A LOT and Nicholas and Ella are always complaining that they've missed it.  So today the whole fam powered up with Panera and we were all full and happy to carry on with our activities.

I didn't get to go to Nicholas' game today because I was with Ella at her "Jesus Day" but I enjoyed seeing her prepare for the sacrament of communion.  She's so nervous about it and it's so cute.  Speaking of cute, how cute is this one?

I love the lacrosse look.  It's just so sporty and cute.  I'm such a girl!

Speaking of girl…. then there's this one.  Could she be any more pink?  Girls' lacrosse is pretty much just getting going here in Mars, PA so Ella really isn't playing any games.  She's basically learning skills, but that's fine by me.  She's not really at a level where she would be able to play anyway.

So that's it from this lacrosse/Jesus mom today!  haha I hope everyone had a great weekend.  Don't forget to Power up with Panera!!!  

Have you tried anything from the Panera Bread Official Training Menu?  If so what?  

Are you training for the Pittsburgh Marathon?  What race are you training for?  

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Little Day in the Life and The April Ab Challenge

My days go by so quickly any more.  I turn around and don't even know where the day has gone.  I've gotten so lazy too and spend a lot o time with my butt parked on the couch doing nothing.  Ugh, I need to break out of winter hibernation mode and get back to being more active throughout the day.  You know what I'm saying, like clean my house instead of watching RHOBH.

I did accomplish a few things today and I managed to capture a bunch in pics.  Lucky you.

I met my friend Jami this morning for a 5 mile jaunt.  I was supposed to go back out and do some more miles on my own, but I didn't feel like it.  So I didn't.  How's that for marathon training?

Afterwards I stopped at Panera to get some post-run fuel.  I opted for the Low Fat Green B Smoothie because I'm now an addict and it's so refreshing after a workout.

Then I came home and did my April Ab Challenge that I'm hosting over on my Facebook Page.  If you don't have a Facebook page, you can still join in on the fun as I made this handy dandy chart to help you know what to do each day.  But you really should join in on the Facebook fun!  And, and, and if you're feeling foxy you can drop a pic of your before abs on my page for a chance to win a gift card.  I'm so proud of the ladies who have already shared pics!

So yeah click on the pic and print it out and hang it on the fridge or the mirror or whatever place will motivate you to get fab abs in April.

While I was getting my Green B Smoothie, I picked myself up a little lunch too.  I got the Spinach Power Salad that never disappoints and I can't even believe how this salad kept me full until dinner.  By the time dinner came around I wasn't even starving.  Go figure.  Ruffage = full and happy Susan.

I don't have a picture, but here is when I started to fall into the couch coma.  I sat down for a well deserved rest (I mean right?) but I didn't get up for too long.  I hate when I do that and it always makes me feel so guilty, but I continue to do it anyway.

Also not pictured:  Cleaning my bathroom and scrubbing the kitchen floor.

Nicholas started CrossFit kids today.  I'm so excited for him to be involved in CrossFit.  In the picture above he's going all out doing air squats as a tie breaker to musical med balls (like musical chairs).  He won the squat challenge!  Always making his mama proud!  He had a great time!  I can't wait for him to go again.

Due to Ella's already heavily loaded schedule she's not participating… yet, but she couldn't resist showing me her chin hold.  10 seconds baby! haha

I finished the night with a 2 hour softball practice.  Did I tell you I'm playing on a rec league this summer?  I didn't?  Oh boy… maybe because I really don't want anyone to know.  It's bad.. as in I'm bad.  Yikes!

So that's it… a day in the life.

Night all!