Tuesday, December 16, 2014

5 Last-Minute Holiday Hosting Must Haves

With the holidays comes lots of parties and lots of guests. I find that people are travelling, events are happening, and everyone wants to get together. Sometimes you will find out you are having people over a day before or a minute before! Here's a list of 5 things I keep on hand so I'm always prepared to have a party!


1. Wine. duh.
Not that I ever seem to run out, but I always keep a bottle of cheaper wine on hand for spur-of-the-moment guests to drink. People usually bring wine and whatever they are drinking over too so there ends up being plenty to go around. 


2.  A full supply of paper products. 
My apartment only has one bathroom so if guests are over, it's getting some heavy traffic. During the holidays I try to keep it extra clean and stock it with a festive air freshener, extra hand towels, and extra toilet paper. Having a sink full of dishes the next day is the worst part of hosting. I try to have some colored paper plates and napkins on hand for guests to reduce some of the dirty dishes. 

3. A boxed baking mix.

While it isn't as good as something from scratch, I always keep a boxed brownie or cookie mix on hand year round for a last minute gathering as a host or an attendee. My mother taught me never to show up anywhere empty-handed!  

After trying some of Ardenne Farms products at Natural Products Expo East, they sent me a few of their gluten-free mixes to try.  I love that unlike other popular, processed brands, Ardenne Farms mixes are made with high-quality gluten-free flours and contain NO artificial flavors or preservatives. They are just as easy to make and the gluten-free and artificial-free aspects are undetectable to blinded taste testers (a.k.a. my boyfriend) and party-goers.  I made the fudge brownies with the mix by adding water, oil, and eggs. I also added extra chocolate chips and sprinkles because that's how I roll.


The chocolate chip cookies were equally as delicious and not weirdly dense or chewy, like some gluten-free cookies can turn out. All I needed was the mix, butter, and a little bit of water for a batch of chocolate chip cookies .


4. Candles.
If you are hosting on short notice, there isn't much you can do as far as decorating. I usually am more worried about tidying up and vacuuming! This year I was lucky enough to get my apartment decorated for the holidays in time for a little party so it definitely looked festive, but some lit holiday-scented candles added a great touch. Year-round whenever I have people over, I love lighting some candles. They smell pleasant and add a certain coziness to my apartment.  


5. Be armed with snacks at all times.
If people are over and especially if they are drinking, they are bound to get hungry.  I am always stocked up on snacks (#foreverhungry), but I like keeping around some basics if I know I'll be hosting get-togethers in the near future. You can make little hors d'eouvres out of the simplest things. 

Believe me, the simpler the appetizer, the more people eat it. My favorites include trail mixes, hummus with crackers and carrots, vegetable dip spooned onto cucumber slices, cheese plates, and cookies.  

I've also made mini pizza cups by baking wonton wrappers in muffin tins and filling with sauce, slices of pepperoni, and shredded cheese then popping into the oven. They are super easy to make and gone quickly! 

Reused photo from last year's Oscars party spread
What do you keep on hand for having guests over? What's your favorite easy party snack?

Friday, December 12, 2014

5 Gifs that Describe How it Feels to Apply to Graduate School {Friday Five 12/12/2014}

Right now, I'm in the midst of applying to graduate school programs for occupational therapy because like many, I need to go back to school for the career I want. I just want to help people!  Sadly, the graduate program application process is  torturous-especially during the holiday season. It's been consuming all my time and brainpower! And it's ridiculously stressful.  

Here's 5 gifs this Friday that perfectly describe the process of applying to graduate school: 

1. You usually have to take the GRE.

It's a 4 hour admissions test with verbal, quantitative (a.k.a math you learned in high school and don't use like figuring out the degrees of an unknown angle in a triangle), and writing sections. I took it after work one evening (WHY), and I hope I don't have to take it again. It's long, tiring, hard, and stressful. 

 4 hours in a testing room with nothing but the test on a computer made me want to ask: 

Seriously, I couldn't bring snacks or a drink inside. 

2. Why do I have to take out a loan just to apply to graduate school?

Seriously it costs around $75-100 to apply to each school.  After I already spent money to take the GRE, take pre-requisite classes at a community college, and now I need to pay a bunch more? On top of still paying off my undergraduate student loans? 


3. You have to fill out extensive applications which make you question everything you've done with your life. 

I am spending hours on applications entering college classes & grades, jobs,  volunteer hours,skills and things I should be doing with my time that will make me stand out as an applicant. You ask yourself like "Why didn't I study harder for that class freshman year to earn an A instead of an A-?" or "Why didn't I spend the summer volunteering with children with disabilities or creating my own charity?" Besides working full-time for four years of course.


4.  You have to apply and then wait and hope you get picked by a school. 

Many schools use online systems where all your information is entered and sent on it's way. There's a personal statement and sometimes, if you are selected, an interview. 

There's no section for me to say "pretty please pick me I'll work super hard and really want to enter this career field please" or "I'm really awesome you would be lucky to have me here".  

Nope, I can't attach something saying that so I'm just crossing my fingers and hoping someone from a school who reads my one application out of 600 thinks I'm good enough for one of the 10-20 spots in the program. 


5. Yes, I am choosing to try to go back to school-I must accept it.  

It's tough to realize that after going through kindergarten through high school and then getting a Bachelor's degree, I'm in my mid-twenties and still need to pay for more schooling to have the career I want. If I get into a program that means more student loans, homework, tests, and less time. 

Have any of you gone back to school or taken a big standardized test? What is stressing you out lately? 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

LUNA bars are now gluten-free!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by LUNA Bar. I was sent a sampler pack to review for a paid campaign.  As always all opinions and thoughts are my own!

Many thanks to LUNA Bar for sponsoring today's post and creating delicious gluten-free snacks. 

I've always been a fan of LUNA Bars because they are delicious, snack-sized, and found everywhere these days!

Now that gluten-free is a huge trend, you see brands just slapping the gluten-free label on foods, which makes some people think they are healthy. Gluten is just a mixture of two proteins that some people are allergic or sensitive to (source). Now I see junk food that happens to not contain gluten advertising that they are gluten-free as a marketing strategy. I try to limit gluten in my diet because it seems to help with my digestive issues, but even I know eating Cocoa Pebbles for breakfast isn't healthy (even though it's yummy!).

LUNA bars have made all of their regular line gluten-free. You can recognize these bars by the pink gluten free label on their new packaging which is just arriving in stores.  Check out all of their flavors here-my favorites are the caramel nut brownie and chocolate peppermint stick bars.  LUNA also sent me one of their newer flavors, chocolate cupcake, and it was tasty!

Their protein line had already been gluten-free and LUNA Bars have never contained wheat or other major sources of gluten, but they tweaked their ingredients to help out those who are strictly gluten-free so they could enjoy LUNA bars too.  

Such consideration was surprising to me!  The oats used in the bars are now certified gluten-free so that you can be sure the oats are not cross-contaminated with gluten during processing. The other thing changed was a few add ins that contained gluten such as the cookie pieces in the chocolate peppermint stick flavor now being reformulated to be gluten-free.   

LUNA Bars are one of my favorite gluten-free snacks on the go. Besides being low enough in calories to be a snack, they contain no artificial flavors or synthetic preservatives, have a low glycemic index, and contain 9-10 g of protein. I love keeping one in my gym bag for a pre- or post-workout healthy snack. I've been keeping a bar in my purse when I'm travelling or out holiday shopping in case hunger strikes. Let's be honest, I'm always hungry so I don't want to travel without provisions!

Lucky for you, LUNA bar is giving one of my readers the chance to win a sample of their new gluten-free bars. 

I'm keeping it super simple to enter-just comment and tell me what LUNA Bar flavor you can't wait to try or which is already your favorite by checking out their flavors here.  The giveaway will be open until Friday, December 19 at 11:59 pm EST and a winner will be randomly selected from the comments!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Why I'm Doing the Runner's World Winter 2014 Run Streak {Take 10 Minutes}

I did the Runner's World Run Streak (#RWRunStreakduring the summer and never got around to talking about it afterwards. It was the first time I actually stuck to a daily challenge. Even though there were days I thought for sure it would be over, I managed to sneak in at least a mile every day.  

I'm in the midst of one of the busiest months of the year for me and already have a couple other fun holiday challenges on my plate so on Thanksgiving, the day the annual RW 2014 Winter Run Streak started, I figured I wouldn't be participating in winter run streak. However I've changed my mind.  


Why force myself to run at least 1 mile a day for 36 days from Thanksgiving until New Year's Day? 

Because I realized the busiest time of the year is exactly when I need to most. 

Getting myself back on a running schedule is a bonus.  I am doing the Run Streak because I need to give myself at least 10 minutes of day where I can sweat it out, force myself to breathe, and clear my head. (I convince myself to get a mile in by telling myself it'll only take ten minutes, by the way. )

 At least 10 minutes of watching Netflix on the treadmill. At least 10 minutes to center myself and focus on nothing else (but running at least a mile of course). At least 10  minutes without email, cell-phone, social media, or work. It's like my meditation time. 

Last night I thought a workout wasn't happening but hopped up on the treadmill to get my mile in and got sucked into an episode of Scandal on Netflix. Even though I wasn't thinking about how slow my pace was or how many calories I probably burned, that wasn't what mattered. 10 minutes turned into almost 30, some of the stress of the day melted away, and I felt a little better than I had before I hopped on the treadmill.  

I skipped the day after Thanksgiving because I didn't think I was doing this but now I'm in it.  I know I can do it so that's not the reason I'm streaking. I'm not doing it for a prize (there are none). I'm doing it for me.  So I'm going to be streaking until New Year's Day and not make it a stressful chore each day but rather something to look forward to!

I'm streaking because I know this busy month I need to take the time for myself each day where I can forget about what's going on, for at least a mile.

I encourage you to find something to do this holiday season as the year winds down where you can take 10 minutes to yourself and forget about the stresses of life. That could be yoga, meditation, journaling, or just enjoying a cup of tea without distractions.  I know everyone could use 10 minutes of peace in their lives this holiday season. 


Here's a nifty little tracking chart I made that I printed out so I can put a check mark in each circle for each of the 36 days of running I complete. Feel free to use it and join me in the challenge!


How do you make time for yourself during a busy time of the year? What's your favorite TV show right now? 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A #kindawesome Thanksgiving {YMD Towson Turkey Trot Recap}

This Thanksgiving I ran my first organized Turkey Trot. It seems everybody and their mom (literally) runs these races Thanksgiving morning so it's about time, right?  I was offered to run the annual Y of Central Maryland Towson Turkey Trot Charity 5K by KIND Snacks, who were one of the sponsors of the race.  

I had such a great time running the Fiesta 5K with KIND Snacks in the spring and had wanted to run a Turkey Trot this year so it was a no brainer. 

It was quite a chilly morning in Towson on Thanksgiving Day.  I woke up, ate a banana with peanut butter, had some Nuun Energy Lemon-Lime, and got ready to go. I bundled up with my favorite Under Armour ColdGear tights and longsleeve shirt under my KIND shirt. 

While I'm not the one to have a Turkey costume lying around, I wanted to wear something fun. I pulled out my sparkly lime skirt I wore during Hood to Coast which matched perfectly! 
(The skirt is from ChasethisSkirt, fyi). 

I showed up at the start ready to go since I had picked up my packet the day before. Packet pickup had been quick and smooth at the Y of MD where the race started and finished.  We got a fun shirt and a couple peanut butter dark chocolate KIND Bars along with the usual flyers.  Yeah, those bars didn't last very long.

 Instead of stretching I spent most of the pre-race time trying to stay warm. After meeting up with Theo who was also running for KIND, we headed to the start line. It was a large race with lots of families and kids so it was hard to get to the front and no one was really lining up  by pace. I know it's not a serious race, but that still really frustrated me. The first half of a mile was really crowded which meant a lot of weaving in and out of runners. After a mile it was too hard to try to stay with Theo so I just went and did my own thing.  

The course was a loop that mostly went through residential areas in Towson and had many more hills than I expected. I ran the first mile faster and then tried to settle into a slightly slower pace since I had no expectations for this race.  I didn't run with any music and just tried to focus on keeping a steady pace.  Racing in the cold also feels really different because my feet and legs are a little frozen and numb when I start running which is a different sensation. 

I haven't been consistently running since Chicago a little over a month ago and I could feel it-yikes! It was definitely a reminder that I need to start doing some speedwork again. 

It was a fun race with even a few spectators who came out of their houses to cheer runners on in the cold. My favorites were a family who set up a little mimosa stand around 2 miles into the race. Kudos to them! 

Like most 5K races, this one flew by.  For the last 0.5 mile I pushed it and came down the last stretch towards the finish line. 

I ended up finishing in 23:06, with an average pace of 7:27 mi. Not my fastest, but still a respectable time and good enough for 8th in my age group and 96/1200 runners. 

 I ate a delicious dark chocolate sea salt KIND bar, snapped a few photos, and chatted with Theo and Jenna who ran the race for KIND as well.  

Granted I didn't walk around much, but I didn't see any other post-race food besides water so people were definitely gobbling up delicious KIND bars left and right! 

Afterwards I hopped right into the car and headed up North to my parents' house for a relaxing Thanksgiving.  There was good times had with family, plenty of delicious food, and multiple slices of pie! Dessert is my favorite so I had to try all three- pumpkin pie, apple pie, and pumpkin cheesecake!

Getting in a run while raising money for charity was a great way to start my Thanksgiving.  

 I loved this reminder from KIND on their Facebook page Thanksgiving because it describes perfectly how I felt about the day! 

Have you ever participated in a Turkey Trot before? What's your favorite Thanksgiving dish? 

This post was linked up to Tuesdays on the Run with April,Erika, and Patty

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Pre-Thanksgiving Gratitude

I've been having a rough week in my personal life, and my anxiety levels have been high.   It's already Thanksgiving tomorrow and now less than a month until Christmas.  Life's bumps, work, grad school applications, and a to-do list that only seems to grow longer instead of shorter are constantly on my  mind. I haven't even gotten to planning my 2015 race schedule!

 This morning in my inbox I received this email from Runner's World motivation, giving me just the reminder I need not only for running, but for life.

It's funny how sometimes the universe gives you what you need, even if it's in the form of a silly email subscription.  So as I try to re-center myself, breathe, and focus on the positive, I offer you some words of wisdom as we go into a holiday weekend.

Things happen but guess what? After that it's over, just like the RW quote says. There are consequences, but you can't go back and change a moment in the past. Dwelling on it and worrying it does nothing but make you more upset.  This is really hard for me and is definitely a work in progress.

Fear is paralyzing. I've done pretty well the past year at taking risks and trying to not allow fear or worry dictate my life. I've traveled, chased dreams, and pushed myself out of my comfort zone many times.  Yet I still find moments of fearing failure. Procrastinating because I don't want to do something I'm scared of.

As we come to the end of 2014 and maybe like me you are thinking about goals & the future, remember that trying and failing is much more satisfying than never trying at all.

Relax. I'm really over seeing the millionth article about how to stay fit and not gain weight over the holidays or how to keep your calorie count in check on Thanksgiving. I understand that there's a lot more treats and reasons to not keep up with your health and fitness goals, but seriously?  Why do the holidays have to become this evil monster? Don't be stressed about the holidays. Do what you normally do,keep working out, and eat some yummy food because you want to.

Yesterday I cooked a big dinner and didn't get a workout in I had planned. Whoops. It's okay, life goes on . I enjoyed taking the time to actually cook a nice meal  before travelling tomorrow, and that time in the kitchen was just what I needed yesterday. There's always time for a workout today when I'm snowed in this afternoon!

Thanksgiving is one day and if your day consists of 95% carbs, it's okay. Carbs are delicious. Get a Thanksgiving morning workout in because you want to, not because you think you need to run a marathon to work off Thanksgiving dinner.  
 If you overindulge in cookies or wine or mashed potatoes (which I know I will), tomorrow is a new day-I promise you'll be okay. 

Lastly remember to be in the moment and practice gratitude.  You never know what may happen each day and sometimes your life changes in an instant. Put your phone down and enjoy your family's company. Be grateful for your health, food, and the people that care about you. It's easy to get caught up in stress, holiday shopping, and the little things like if you bought a big enough turkey for dinner.

After being shaken up this week, enjoying the people I love and appreciating them has filled me with happiness and light.  While Thanksgiving is an awesome holiday because of a delicious meal, football, and pie, remember to give thanks.  Reflecting on the good in your life will make you feel marvelous.

Pre-Thanksgiving Gratitude-Give-Thanks-print
It's a little rambling of wise words and feelings, but you get the picture. 

Happy Thanksgiving and safe travels to everyone this weekend!

What's your favorite part of the holidays? What are you excited about this weekend? 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Christmas Almond Roll {Favorite Family Recipes Virtual Swap}

This year I am joining the 2nd Favorite Family Recipe Virtual Recipe Swap co-hosted by one of my Fitbloggin' roommates from this past year, Susan of The Foodette.  I love holiday recipes and especially love trying recipes that are holiday traditions for other people.  

I received a lovely holiday family favorite from Susan at Love from the Kitchen.  She said they have this Almond Roll Christmas morning, but it's made with a sweet roll dough so I think it could also be great as a dessert. Her mom and her both customize it different ways-she tops with almonds and her mom tops with red and green candied maraschino cherries. I decided to top with some festive silver and green sprinkles! 

Christmas Almond Roll

  • 1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F)
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup margarine, melted
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
  • 1 can Solo almond filling
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds 

* Any sweet roll dough can be used - or substitute a frozen sweet dough!* Solo almond filling is what makes this dish special. I couldn't find it, so I used this recipe as a substitute, based on Susan's recommendation. 

1. Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select dough cycle; press Start. 
(If using a pre-made sweet dough like I did, skip to Step 3! )

2. After the dough has doubled in size turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, cover and let rest for 10 minutes. 

3. Roll dough into a 16x21-inch rectangle. Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter and then spread the almond filling onto the dough (depending on how much filling you like, use more or less of the can of filling). 

4. Roll up dough and pinch the edge to close.  Place the dough on a lightly greased baking sheet, seam side down and curl into a semi-circle.  Carefully make shallow cuts across the top of the roll, approximately every 2 - 3 inches.

5. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes.   Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly beat the egg and sugar in a small bowl.  Brush with beaten egg mixture and sprinkle with sliced almonds.

6. Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 25 minutes. 

Recipe by Susan Zentmyer

I don't have a bread maker so it was even easier for me to use some frozen sweet dough and get this recipe prepped. It would be great to bring to parties or for a big family holiday brunch-it looks decorative and tastes great! The sweet dough plus the filling wasn't as super-sweet as I expected and was really delicious!

Be sure to check out all 12 recipes  from 12 different bloggers linked up from the 2nd Favorite Family Recipe Virtual Recipe Swap on Susan's blog, The Foodette or Doree's blog, Top Notch Mom

This post was linked up to the Tasty Tuesday linkup on 11/25/2014. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Five Friday Favorites featuring my New Fave Nut Butter

I'm back with my Friday Favorites because it's so fun to share things I'm loving lately.  I am so glad it's Friday. This week has been rough for me but thankfully it's gone by semi-quickly.  I'm looking forward to a nice weekend and only a 3-day work week next week followed by Thanksgiving-a.k.a. all the yummy food

Five Friday Favorites

1. Favorite Foodie Find: Trader Joe's Peanut Butter with Flax and Chia seeds


My boyfriend and both agree that this peanut butter I recently found at Trader Joe's rocks. It is crunchy and gets even more texture from the flax & chia seeds. I think the chia seeds help soak up some of the natural oils so even though it's natural and not loaded with crap, I don't have to stir it every time I open the jar. Definitely my new favorite stand-by peanut butter. 

2. Favorite Fitness Accessory: Athleta gym bag

I won this adorable bag from a giveaway on Margo's blog Brooklyn Fit Chick. It's a duffel bag from Athleta (sorry I don't see it on their site anymore!) with such a beautiful floral print. It's the perfect size for me to take a few things and an extra change of clothes to the gym. The only thing it doesn't have is a few pockets, but otherwise I love it. 

3. Favorite Item to Lust after: Excursion Quilted Vest in  Buffalo Check 
photo from J. Crew

I've seen this vest  on multiple blog and Instagram posts and am in love. It screams winter and the holidays to me. I'm lusting after it because there's no way I can afford a $138 vest from J. Crew.  I'm on the look out for look-alikes and may have to snag this red vest on sale at Old Navy for only $25. 

4. Favorite Thanksgiving Appropriate Recipe: Garlic Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes photo from How Sweet Eats


Since my mom already has Thanksgiving taken care of I'm going to make these garlic goat cheese roasted mashed potatoes for dinner next week just because they sound awesome. Mashed potatoes are already great but adding one of my favorite ingredients-goat cheese, probably takes them to a whole other level. I'll report back! 

5. Favorite Holiday Apparel: Christmas cookies baseball tee 
photo from Activate Apparel


I clearly need this shirt from Activate Apparel in my life.  It speaks the truth! I'm ready to welcome the Christmas spirit into my life now that it's almost Thanksgiving and completely acceptable time-wise.  I also can't wait to bake and eat some Christmas cookies. 

Follow me on Pinterest here to always see things I'm loving! 

Linking my favorites up with Heather,Katie, and Clare

Do you have a new Thanksgiving recipe you are trying out next week? What's your favorite brand of peanut butter?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

How to Get Help with Thanksgiving from Whole Foods Markets

In case you were oblivious like I was, Thanksgiving is NEXT week. Yikes!  Fortunately, my mother is an excellent cook and is still hosting a small Thanksgiving at my parents' house this holiday. I always offer to help out but she's a pro and by the time I arrive she has everything planned out and in progress ahead of time.  

Cooking all that food and hosting is definitely a big job though. I always tell my boyfriend that one year if we don't have anywhere to go we are just going out to eat and let
 someone else do the cooking and dreaded cleaning.  Now I'm also putting down a dinner from Whole Foods as an option for that scenario.  

A friend from Whole Foods Harbor East in Baltimore invited me to come check out their Thanksgiving Edition of Tasty Tuesday.   From 5-7 PM they had had tastings set up around the store in every department showcasing their Thanksgiving offerings. I also wanted to mention that when I walked in I saw all the beautiful flowers and arrangements that would make the perfect last-minute host or hostess gift!


Whole Foods offers a large selection of appetizers like cocktail shrimp, antipasto platters, caviar, and my favorite-cheese platters! I got to taste some caviar samples and a delicious oyster, which are great if you're feeling fancy. 


 I also sampled all the cheeses on the Italian Classics Cheese Platter (large RP $29.99, serves 8-10).

Next I had some stuffing and cranberries, the quintessential Thanksgiving sides (32 oz sides RP $11.99-13.99, serves 4). 

awkward Whole Foods selfie with my stuffing sample
Then I had the star of the show- turkey with mashed potatoes and gravy. It was SO yummy. I almost went back for seconds! An oven-ready turkey is $59.99 for a small (serves 6 or more)  which is on the pricier side of turkeys, but it comes ready to cook rubbed with herb butter on a bed of fresh veggies in a disposable roasting pan, ready to uncover and pop in the oven! The price is right if you want that freshly cooked turkey without all of the work. You also have to remember that  all of Whole Foods turkeys have no antibiotics or animal by-products in the feed and are 5 step animal welfare rated.  


I had a sample or three of their delicious pumpkin roll (RP $19.99). I love me some cream cheese frosting, for sure.  I was glad to see Whole Foods offers gluten-free pies, pie shells, and stuffing mixes if you or someone in your family requires that!

How-Whole-Foods-Helps-With-Thanksgiving-Pumpkin Roll

I loved that you could buy plenty of different packages including just the sides,a vegan dinner for two,and dinners for 4 with different meats and sides. A Turkey Dinner for 2 (plus a few)  for a fully cooked boneless turkey breast and sides was only $49.99. That's cheaper than a couple going out to eat on the holiday.  

While Whole Foods is known to some jokingly as Whole Paycheck, I was glad to see that they had many affordable options for people to get some wholesome Thanksgiving food pre-cooked or ready to go.  

It could even be helpful in picking up a few things in addition to making a few so you are not cooking a whole huge dinner yourself. Or you could just pick up something for a Friendsgiving if you aren't too inclined to whip up something in your kitchen. 
Check out your local Whole Foods or go online to order for the holiday and pick-up early next week!

Disclaimer: I was offered a giftcard for taking the time to stop by the event but was not offered compensation for  or obligated to write this post for Whole Foods.  As always all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

2014 Holiday Challenges-Elf 4 Health,Holiday Sweat,& #RWRunStreak

I'm still in shock that it is almost Thanksgiving and that the holiday season is right around the corner. I almost pulled out some Christmas decorations this weekend but thought it might have been too early. Looking at the calendar this morning, I think I was wrong!

With the holidays come lots of parties, travelling, and plenty of distractions. That's what makes it the perfect time to get some support & accountability to keep your healthy habits from falling to the wayside.  I've got 3 awesome holiday challenges to tell you about that you should join me in!

The first challenge is the Elf 4 Health 2014, a really fun, free challenge run by Lindsay of the Lean Green Bean and Elle of  According to Elle.  I've participated in this challenge the past two years and love that it includes daily tasks and challenges in the categories of not only fitness and food but you and others.  You are assigned an elf buddy every 2 weeks that you are supposed to email twice a week with inspiration, recipes, and tips to form a great little support system and get the chance to meet someone new. 

There are two rounds and the diverse daily tasks will challenge you to get organized, pay it forward, or just try a new workout. Check out all the daily challenges below:

There are also daily challenge winners, elf winners for each round, and an overall winner with prizes sponsored by companies like Love Grown Foods, Swanson Health Products, Sweaty Betty, and more!

Sign ups end THIS FRIDAY 11/21 at 11:59 EST so hurry up and get registered here


This free challenge starts Monday November 24 and ends Sunday December 21. 

The second challenge is one I'm doing for the first time this year-the Holiday Sweat Challenge hosted by Amanda of Run to the Finish and Sweat Guru.   This 6-week challenge hopes to help you get a jump start on feeling great and staying on track with your health and fitness goals.  


With the challenge you get three emails a week with recipes, tips, motivation and workouts, and all the content is created for this year's challenge by registered dietitians,running coaches, personal trainers, and physical therapists.  You can check in daily on the Facebook support group and take part in a little friendly competition for people at your same fitness level for the chance to win prizes from companies like Vega and Lorna Jane.

  Don't worry, you can easily earn points just by being active and eating your veggies! 

This challenge starts Monday November 24 and ends Monday January 5.  It only costs $16 for the whole challenge. 

Click here to register for the Holiday Sweat Challenge 2014 before the challenge starts on November 24 and let them know that Lauren S. from Breathe Deeply and Smile sent you! 

(Disclosure: There's a referral contest so I'd love to get mentioned if you register.)

If you are already excited to get started, the Holiday Sweat challenge is hosting a Holiday Sweat Instagram challenge this week before the full challenge starts with prizes from Zico and Once Again Nut Butters.  

Follow me on Instagram here to see how I take part in the challenge!

Details about the Instagram challenge here.

The third challenge I haven't completely made up my mind about yet is the Runner's World Run Streak Winter 2014 (#RWRunStreak). I participated in the Run Streak this past summer and while I didn't recap it on the blog, it did push me to get moving, even if just for 10 minutes a day! There were definitely many late night 1 milers done on the treadmill to keep the streak alive. 

This free challenge sounds simple, run at least one mile per day, every day starting on Thanksgiving (Thursday, November 27) and ending on New Year's Day (Thursday, January 1)

Pushing yourself to run for 36 consecutive days isn't for everyone, but even just running a slow & easy mile a day for 36 days may be the boost you need this holiday season. Use the hashtag #RWRunStreak to check in on social media and get support on the Run Streak Facebook page here
Let me know if you decide to join me in these challenges. For me the best part is talking to other people and supporting each other. Sometimes it's nice to just to have a new friend to ask a question or talk to when the stress levels get high during the holidays!

(This post was linked up in this weekly Fit-Dish.)

Have you ever particpated in a healthy holiday challenge before? How do you stay on track with your health & fitness goals during the holidays? 
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