That Thing Called Life

It’s been about a month since I last posted.  To say I’ve been busy at work & in life would be an understatement.  Things are finally starting to calm down just a little bit and I feel a HUGE sense of relief.  I definitely had more on my plate that ever care to in the Month of April.
Where did I leave off?  Our day trip to Chicago.  That was fun.  That was right before all the craziness started.  So what have I been up to?  I won’t share all the dirty details, but I will share some of my successes and failures over the past month.
-I ordered the NASM CPT study bundle back in November and figured 6 months was PLENTY of time to study.  My test deadline was April 18th.  I set out to take my test a few weeks ago and I missed it by 2 percentage points.  I wanted to cry, but I didn’t.  It was totally my fault.  It’s been awhile since I’ve had to study for a test that big and I completely forgot about what methods work best for me.  I plan to retest at some point this summer.  The GOOD NEWS is that the military will reimburse me for the retest, if I pass-which I definitely plan to!
-I was gifted a 3 month subscription to CookSmarts.  Carly found me via KathEats and asked me if I wanted to give their business a try, and as an avid meal prepper/planner I jumped on the chance.  So far, I’m really loving it!! The meals are delicious, easy and quick.  Full blog post review coming shortly.
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 -I will soon be sculpting and toning bodies all over Milwaukee!  I auditioned to be an instructor at Barre Bee Fit and I got it!  My instructor training started in the beginning of April.  Although it’s been a lot to learn, it’s also been a ton of fun and I’ve made some new friends in the process.  I can’t wait to get on the schedule.  Stay tuned for that!
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 -Planning and prepping hub’s 30th birthday!! That’s this weekend and I can’t wait to celebrate with him.  The theme is Beer :-)
-I got into the Chicago Marathon…and then turned it down.  With everything we have going on this summer, I didn’t think this year would be the year to do it.  I originally wanted to take this summer off from training for races.  My plan was just to run for fun and focus on getting faster.  I also wanted to be able to enjoy summer and everything that comes with it.  I signed up for the Rock N Sole half marathon earlier this year because a co-worker of mine was doing it and it was her first half, so I thought it would be fun to train together.  That was the only half I had planned for this year.  That was until the weather gave us a little taste of summer and I saw all the inspirational pictures/blog posts of the Boston Marathon this past weekend.  Just like that, my planner is filling up with races.  I have a 1/2 marathon planned for June, my eye on one in July and another planned for August.  We’ll see what happens after that.  I’d like to focus on shorter distances and speeding up my pace.
chicagomarathonemailSo there you have it.  My crazy month in a very small nutshell.  Work was nuts for the month of April.  My co-worker was deployed so I was left to hold down the fort.
First and foremost has been spending time with my family, which is why I fell off the face of the blog earth.  Madelyn is getting so big and time seems to be just passing us right on by with no sign of slowing down.  I want to cherish these early years while I can.  Sometimes I look at her and get a little sad that our baby is no longer there.  I was rocking her to sleep tonight and came to the realization that she’s definitely too long.  She’s a good sport: she will let me rock her, but she prefers to go right to her crib now for bed.
Not really sure how the blogging schedule is going to work this summer.  I’ll post as often as I can.  You can also follow me over at Instagram for daily pictures of workouts, food and of course Madelyn.

Can’t get Enough

Happy Monday!  How was everyone’s weekend?  Ours was excellent, but as usual, it went by way too quickly.

On Saturday, Larry and I decided to do something that we’ve never done before in our 8 years of being together:  We took the Amtrak from Milwaukee to Chicago for a day trip.  Just the two of us.  We had an absolute blast.

We boarded the early train and played tourists for the day.  Even though we visited some “touristy” places, we also checked out some places off the beaten path.

Our first stop was Willis (Sears) Tower, since it’s right near Union Station.  We got there early and we still had a good amount of time to wait.  By the time we left at around 11am, the wait was up to three hours!  So I suggest getting there very early.  And it’s FREE for military members :-)

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It was our first time there since they put in the sky decks.  I walked out there with no problems…but I think Larry was a little nervous ;-) I’m pretty fearless when it comes to heights and things of that nature so I LOVED this!

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After our visit to Willis Tower, we were hungry for some brunch so we headed west to check out Little Goat.  Stephanie Izard opened this restaurant shortly before we moved and it’s always been on my list of places to try.  We decided to walk there (about 1 mile) and we waited 45 minutes to eat.  It was totally worth it.  The food was amazing and I’d highly recommend it.  There’s also a cute coffee shop/bakery attached to the diner.

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After brunch, we headed North and met up with some friends at Old Town Social.  After a few drinks, Larry and I headed to Fleet Feet Old Town-the best Fleet Feet I’ve ever been to to check out some running gear.  They have everything you need at this store.  I’m seriously thinking about Newton’s for my next pair of running shoes and I just found out that they offer military/police discounts with a valid .mil or .gov e-mail.

From Fleet Feet we headed back downtown for cupcakes, a glass of wine at Eataly and a bite to eat at Pizzeria Uno.  It wouldn’t be a day trip in Chicago without a stop for deep dish pizza.

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Before we knew it, it was time to board the last train back home.  We both said that we’d rather do something like that each month than have a bunch of random date nights through the month.  It was a nice break from reality.  We love our daughter unconditionally, but sometimes mom and dad need a break ;-) It was nice to get home and spend the rest of our weekend with the little princess.

IMG_2551Where’s your favorite place to take a day trip?   Chicago is definitely mine!  It’s a short 2 hour drive or hour and a half train ride away!  Doesn’t get much better than that…unless of course you lived there ;-)

Get Lucky Chicago Recap

I am happy to announce that I survived a 1/2 marathon with very minimal train (6 miles was my longest training run-on a treadmill) and while breaking the rule-”nothing new on race day” and I have very little soreness today.

My mom and I completed the Get Lucky Chicago 1/2 marathon yesterday.  It was my 5th one and her first.

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I was very nervous for this race for severals reasons:  the weather in the Midwest has been less than stellar for outside running, so most of my running was done on a treadmill.  I had only trained up to 6 miles when the normal amount is 10.  I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with my mom since she did properly train.  Needless to say, I am grateful that muscle memory kicked in and I was able to complete the race with my mom.  Today we both said that we will do longer runs on the weekends so that we don’t lose any base training for upcoming races.

Weekend Details

We drove down to Chicago on Friday afternoon with two of my mom’s friends who were also doing the race with us.  We stayed at the Congress Hotel, which was Team Ortho’s host hotel.  It was an ideal location because packet pickup was right at the hotel and there was a shuttle for us on race day to take us to the starting line since it was about a 20 minute drive away.  After we picked up our packets, we walked down to Garmin to say hi to my friend Kristine and then it was off to Eataly for some carb loading.  I decided on pizza-it was pretty amazing.  After dinner, we ventured downstairs to check out the desserts.

eatalydessertsWe took a cab back to our hotel and spent the rest of the evening getting our gear ready to go and catching up on Runner’s World magazine.  I was in bed by 8:45 and it felt great :-)

Race Day

We walked to closest Starbucks and hopped on the shuttle at 7:30.  The race started in Jackson park, near the Museum of Science and Industry.  I was excited to run a new part of the lakefront path.  When we lived in Chicago, I usually ran more north of museum campus so it was nice to see the skyline coming from the south.

We got to the race pretty early, so hung out, stretched and beat the long port a potty lines :-)

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At 9 am we were on our way!  I told my mom from the beginning that I would be staying her pace the entire time.  We started off at comfortable pace.  I kept one ear bud out so that I could talk with my mom and communicate with other runners if I needed to.  It was a great idea since there was ice on the path and runners ahead of you would yell out “Ice” so that you were aware of what was ahead.  The path was also very narrow, so it was nice to be able to hear if other runners behind you were trying to pass.

The course was an out and back and I was little surprised to see the turn around point at around mile 5.  It wasn’t until about mile 7 that my mom wanted to stop and walk for about a minute.  It was then that I started to feel my quads cramp up.  We ran the rest of the course and maybe stopped for walking breaks about 3 more times.  Even though it can be difficult to run at someone else’s pace, I’m really glad that I stayed with my mom.  It was nice to be able to have someone to talk to and keep your mind distracted.  While I was motivating her, I really actually just trying to keep myself motivated.  The race was route was really well laid out, until the end.  There was one point where we ran past the finish line, saw mile marker 13 and still had to keep running.  I was not a fan and it totally messed me up mentally.  That last mile was a tough one.  My Garmin was right on track with the mile markers until about mile 10, then it became slightly off, but still close enough.  At the end of our race, my Garmin told me I ran 12.95 miles in 2:18 minutes.

I’m so proud of my mom and the timing we got for her first 1/2!  She’s addicted :-)  This was my first time running with compression socks from PRO Compression and my calves feel awesome today!  Normally, my calves are what bother me the most after a long run because I tend to run more on my toes.  I’m not sure if it was the compression socks or the fact that it was a nice and easy pace, but my legs feel great today and I will definitely be wearing these for all longer runs.

The Get Lucky Chicago 1/2 marathon was a great way to start off the 2014 racing season. My goal is keep logging longer runs on the weekend and to earn a new 1/2 marathon PR at my next run which is the Rock n Sole on June 14th!

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So it Begins

Happy Friday!!!!  I’ve got my bags packed and in just a few hours, I will be Chicago bound to run my first race of 2014 and my first one since the Chicago marathon.  The Get Lucky half will be my 5th half marathon!  It should be interesting, since training for this was pretty nonexistent and the running that I did do, was mostly all treadmill.  BUT I am happy to be doing what I love in my favorite city :-)

getluckychiThis race is particularly special because I will be running it with my mom and it is her first half marathon.  My mom is pretty amazing.  A few years ago, she got really sick.  Everything that could possible go wrong with a person, my mom had pretty much dealt with.  She was thought to have MS, Celiac disease-in which she got her gull bladder removed.  She is a nurse and it was a struggle for her to just make it through the day.  She lost hair, suffered anxiety, muscle pain, extreme fatigue, heart palpitations etc.  This went on for over a year.  She was a medical mystery and no doctor could find out what was wrong with her, until she found a naturopathic doctor that specialized in Lyme disease.  My mom had been tested previously for lyme, but her tests always came back negative.  Well her new doctor, ran a different kind of test and found that my mom was positive for chronic lyme disease.  For years, the lyme disease went undiagnosed.  After finding out what her illness actually was, she began her road to recovery.

It has been pretty awesome watching my mom get her health back and watching her become so active!  She bikes and runs…two things I NEVER saw her doing while growing up.  I’m so excited that I get to be there when she crosses the finish line and complete something I’m sure she never thought was possible.  I may not be ready for this race, but I know she is and her positive attitude about everything will keep me running to that finish line with her.

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Spaghetti Squash Bake

Happy Tuesday! How was everyone’s weekend?  Ours started out really good and then ended kind of a low note…my strep throat returned and a busted tail light :-/ Womp womp!  Hubs accidentally backed my car into his…the worst kind of accident. But luckily, everyone is okay.  Easy (but pricey) fix.
fenderbenderI started feeling kind of crappy on Sunday when I woke up, but pressed forward with baking cookies with my little darling.
IMG_2530After that adventure and cleaning up the kitchen, I was exhausted and could feel my throat starting to swell up.  I called my doc to call in another round of antibiotics, so hopefully this round will do the trick.  I have a half marathon to run this weekend and I want to go into it feeling 100%.
To continue on with celebrating National Nutrition Month, I want to share an amazing recipe using spaghetti squash in place of pasta.
Both pasta and spaghetti squash have their own nutritional benefits.  For example, pasta is a better source of folate, where as eating spaghetti squash will provide you with more antioxidants.  Both are low in fat, but if you’re watching your carbs, spaghetti squash would be the better choice.  There are 7 grams of carbs in spaghetti squash compared to pasta’s 31 grams of carbs.  And calories? 1 serving of pasta (and let’s face it, most of us are consuming more than the recommended amount) packs in 158 calories, while spaghetti squash contains 27 calories. (source)   Overall,l if you’re trying to eat low (complex) carbs, low-fat, gluten-free or whole, unprocessed foods, I would say that spaghetti squash is the way to go.
Last week I made this delicious number.
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I cut 1 spaghetti squash in half (lengthwise), brushed it with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted it in the oven at 400 for about 45 minutes.  While that was baking in the oven, I cooked up some italian chicken sausage, spinach, and pasta sauce.  Once the spaghetti squash was out of the oven, I took a fork and “fluffed” up the “noodles”.
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Then spooned the chicken sausage mixture over top and then added a sprinkle of goat cheese crumbles.  And voilà! Dinner :-)
What’s your favorite way to eat spaghetti squash? I used to scoop it out onto a plate and eat it like spaghetti, but I found this way to be much more appetizing and EASY!

Beet it!

Happy Fat Tuesday!! How are you celebrating? I started my morning off some juice and eggs :-) Wild & crazy over here, I know.

Since March is National Nutrition Month, I’m going to share with you some of my favorite foods & the benefits you reap from eating them, starting with beets.

beetsIt wasn’t until I was pregnant with Madelyn that I started to like beets.  I was at the farmer’s market and thought to myself, ‘those look fun!’ So I bought them, googled how to cook beets, and the rest is history.  I eat them in salads, as a side, and in JUICE.

beetjuiceMy favorite Beet Juice Combos

  • 1 sweet potato, 1 carrot, 1 red bell pepper, 2 red beets, 2 apples, 1 orange
  • 2 beets, apple, 2 carrots, cucumber
  • Apple, carrot, beet, ginger & lemon

Benefits of Eating Beets

  • High in vitamins & minerals.  Folic acid, iron, fiber, potassium, magnesium, Vitamins A, B, C; etc…Beets are very beneficial for woman who are pregnant because they help replenish the body’s iron supply and the B vitamins help create new cells.
  • Detox the body.  Beets help detox your liver, purify your blood and can even prevent some types of cancer.
  • Stomach Acid Indicator.  You might notice, that if you eat a lot of beets or drink a lot of beet juice, your pee turns pink.  This is an indicator that you have low stomach acidity.  However, if you’re drinking/eating beets and your pee afterward is clear, this is a sign of high stomach acidity and it’s time to start thinking about your diet/lifestyle.
  • Beets make you happy.  They contain betaine, the same substance that is used in some treatments for depression.  Beets and also lower your blood pressure and give you a “sense of calm”.

Do you eat beets? What is your favorite way to eat them? I usually steam mine, slice them and add a little sprinkle of goat cheese :-) Makes the perfect side!

 

Birchbox Review

Happy Tuesday friends!  I didn’t do a food/fitness plan for this week because I’m suffering from strep throat, so there has been a lot of tea, soup {and maybe some ice cream} in my meals the past 24 hours.  I’m hoping this antibiotics kick in soon and I’ll be good as new :-)

A few weeks ago, I signed up for Birchbox and last week I received my first box.  I’m so glad I signed up because I discovered some new products that I absolutely LOVE!

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So what is Birchbox?  It’s a subscription box delivery service that sends you 4 samples of different beauty products plus one “lifestyle” product to try out.  I heard about it through a friend and decided to try it out.  It’s $10 a month and you can cancel at anytime.  With each box, you earn 10 points.  After you have earned 100 points, that gives you $10 credit to spend on Birchbox.com.  You also earn points on other products you purchase.  Along with each box, comes a card which lets you know which each product is, how much a full-size version costs, and how to use it properly.

Here’s a look at February’s Box:

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1. Agave-healing oil treatment. LOVED this stuff! I used it on my hair last night after the shower and my hair was very soft the next morning.  It also smells amazing!

2. Benefit Cosmetics-It’s potent! eye cream. As I’m nearing 30, I’m a sucker for eye cream and anti-aging products.  Confession:  I’ve been using eye cream since I was in my early twenties (for preventative measures) and this so far has been the one I’m most happy with.  It’s very creamy and it also helps eliminate those dark circles under your eyes.  A little goes a long way and I will definitely be purchasing a full-size version very soon.

3. OPI-Sheer tints in Be Magentele with Me.  This is the first time I’ve seen/used sheer nail polish.  I thought it gave my nails a nice, but very natural look.  Perfect for work since “loud” nail polish is not allowed, but not something I’d normally wear…I like color!

4. Mox Botanicals-Bath Milks.  Since the only baths I’m partial to are ice baths after a long training run, I have yet to try this product out.  Showers are more my thing, but maybe I’ll have to make time for a nice relaxing bath in the near future.

Lifestyle Extra: Reviver-Dry Deodorant Swipes for Clothes.  It is said to whisk away odors on contact.  I will be trying this out one day after a sweaty gym session.

Overall, I’m really happy this month’s Birchbox.  I was a little nervous after reading some customer reviews but so far, I am a satisfied customer.

One thing I’m still kind of up in the air about is the price.  Should I really be spending $10 a month on samples when I live a very short distance away from Sephora and LUSH?  I was there the other day buying some make up and a face mask and I came home with these samples:

ilovesamplesTory Burch perfume sample, Dr Brandt Dark Spots treament, Imperialis moisturizer, 2 cleansers (one I loved, the other I threw away after the first use) and a Laura mercier bronzer.  Yes, I got all these lovely samples, but it didn’t come for free…far from it. I don’t think I could go into Sephora, spend $10 and come out with 4 samples of anything.  LUSH…maybe, they’re a lot more willing to help you.

I love samples and I love discovering new beauty products.  What I love most about Birchbox is that there are no pushy sales people, I don’t feel obligated to buy anything and it gets sent to my house.  So for now, I think I’ll stick with it.

Do you do mail subscription boxes? I would LOVE to sign up for Stitch Fix, but I can’t justify it when I wear a uniform every day.