February 9, 2016

New Running Gear I'm Loving Lately

I've been really overwhelmed with life a bit lately and had no idea what to blog about. So of course, I decided to talk about one of my favorite things-shopping! More specifically, some of the awesome running/fitness gear I've picked up in the last few months.  

1. Under Armour Haul
I was SO ridiculously lucky enough to win a huge Under Armour gift card giveaway right after Christmas which  was a fabulous holiday surprise. I stocked up on some fun new pieces for spring as well as some cold weather basics, most of it on sale (#winning). This winter break I cleaned out some of my old running & workout clothes so it was nice to get a few new pieces. 

The tights were full-price and a splurge, but I love the pattern and am all about flashy leggings. I love Under Armour's Coldgear turtlenecks for winter running so I grabbed one in black because it matches everything. I grabbed a girls XL in that Star Wars shirt which is perfect to bring to the RunDisney Star Wars half marathon in April (btw, UA needs to step up the women's Star Wars gear).  My friend recommended the Eclipse printed sports bra (#7) which is really comfortable and supportive. I'm trying to get rid of old sports bras and replace them with a few quality ones so this was perfect. 

New Running Gear I'm Loving Lately-Under Armour

(1)  (2)  (3)  (4)  (5)  (6)  (7)  (8) (9)

2. The Original Worm
New Running Gear I'm Loving Lately-Original-Worm-Mizuno
Rolling out is better with wine. And new running shoes (Mizuno Wave Catalyst)! 
I first came across the Original Worm on Facebook and then read some blogger reviews about it. I liked the idea that it was a massaging muscle therapy ball/ foam roller in one.  For Christmas I asked for and received the small 6.3 version in pink. You can order it online, but apparently my mom later saw it in Kohls too. 

I like that it's portable and also takes that lacrosse ball massaging idea that I love into account. I have a smooth foam roller which is great for my legs, but this is something a little different. Besides my legs, it feels amazing on my low back pain and my shoulders, where I carry a lot of tension. It's also really great to put under your foot to give yourself a little foot massage while watching TV. 

If you are interested, the Original Worm is running a Valentine's Day sale! 
New Running Gear I'm Loving Lately-Original Worm

3. Oiselle Wazelle Long Sleeve

New Running Gear I'm Loving Lately-Oiselle Wazelle
I'm OBSESSED with this shirt. I got a Oiselle gift card back in the Fall and used it to pick up this shirt in a magenta color along with a few other pieces from the sale section of their website (yep, spent more than my giftcard haha). Now I'm pretty much obsessed with it. It's a tech top made of nylon and has a slightly slick yet soft feeling. It's wicking and slightly thicker so it's great for cool weather running. It also has awesome thumb holes on the sleeves, which are long enough to fit my hands comfortably.  

New Running Gear I'm Loving Lately-Oiselle Wazelle

However I actually think I've been wearing it more lately when I'm not running. I've worn it running errands, to class, and for lounging around on the weekends. The color is really bright, and it has a "subtle geometric pattern" (according to the website) that makes it look really stylish as athleisure. It's also just really freaking comfortable. I totally need to get another one in a different color!
What is one piece of running/fitness gear that you are loving lately?

February 5, 2016

Healthy Honey Banana Muffins {with Nektar Naturals}

I love muffins and banana bread so whenever I have some overripe bananas lying around that is always my go-to way to use them up. I buy bananas every week because they are my favorite pre-run fuel and afternoon snack of choice which means I often have overripe bananas! This week I made these honey banana muffins which have a nice flavor from the cinnamon and sweetness from the Nektar Naturals honey crystals without an overpowering banana flavor. I know I'm not a food blogger, but I do like sharing some yummy recipes!

Healthy Honey Banana Muffins {with Nektar Naturals}

The muffins are are also healthy and can be tailored to your dietary restrictions. I used almond meal and almond milk to make them dairy-free and wheat-free, but you can use whatever flour and milk you prefer.  

Healthy Honey Banana Muffins {with Nektar Naturals}
It was my first time trying Nektar Naturals which are just all-natural granulated honey crystals. It comes in packets or an easy to pour bottle so I could use honey in baking or in things like my tea, without the sticky mess. It found it really helpful for baking these muffins since I didn't have to measure out a bunch of sticky honey.  You can order Nektar Naturals online or pick up some at your local Walmart. 

Just in time for Valentine's Day Nektar Naturals is selling these delicious-looking chocolate-covered pretzels dusted with Nektar honey on Amazon which would make the perfect gift for a friend. You can also go to their website and send a  free honeygram or little love note & sample to someone in the mail on/before Valentine's Day. My friends should look out because I already sent a lot of free lovenotes to people!

Speaking of Valentine's Day these muffins would be a great addition to breakfast in bed or a way to share some love with your friends. I also have a fairly low-key Valentine's Day which usually includes going out to dinner with my boyfriend and exchanging small gifts. I love to bake something from scratch and have made cake, cupcakes, and other sweets in the past so I might just be making these again next weekend! 

Healthy Honey Banana Muffins {with Nektar Naturals}

Honey Banana Muffins (adapted from Health.com

Ingredients     (yields 9 muffins)
2 bananas, mashed
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 egg
1/2 cup of milk (based on preference, I used almond milk)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup cashew milk (or other favorite milk of choice)
1 cup of almond meal (or flour of choice)
1/4 cup quick oats
1/4 cup Nektar Naturals (or use sugar/sweetner of choice)
1 3/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt

1. Preheat oven to 375°F and grease 9 muffin cups with cooking spray or line with silcone/paper liners. 
2. Combine the mashed bananas, oil, egg, milk, and vanilla in a bowl. Mix and set aside. 
3. Whisk flour, oats, Netkar Naturals, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in separate bowl. 
4. Stir flour and dry ingredients mixture into wet ingredients (banana) mixture until just combined.  
5. Spoon approximately 1/3 cup of batter into each muffin cup until cups are almost full. 
6. Bake muffins for 15 minutes or until muffins are no longer wet in the middle. 

Healthy Honey Banana Muffins {with Nektar Naturals}

This post was linked up with my fave Friday Linkup ladies CourtneyMar, and Cynthia  as well as Nicole, Jilland Amanda .

What is your go-to banana dish? Are you make anything special for Valentine's Day?

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary set from Nektar Naturals to try out and review.. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

February 3, 2016

It's Not You, It's Me {Finding Meaningful Brand Partnerships}

With a new years comes lots of new things-new hobbies, new healthcare plans, maybe a new job, a new semester of classes, new goals, and for many bloggers-new ambassadorships. I know that's kind of a stretch from healthcare plans, but roll with it. I still feel like a tiny fish of a blogger in a big pond of amazing bloggers that I follow. However I have managed in the years to work with amazing brands, have amazing opportunities, and find a lot of awesome and supportive friends. To boot, I even made enough money from some sponsored posts to cover some race entry fees and a couple pairs of running shoes last year which is really all I want

I think recently brands have really have acknowledged the power in having some of kind of grassroots promotion and blogger or brand ambassadors. They have people who love their product and promote it all the time in creative ways which they don't have to pay, besides sometimes giving them some discounted or complimentary product. 

With my really busy schedule of school, work, training, coaching, life (obviously the major reoccurring theme in my life for the next 2 years so get used to it!), this January I took some time to reevaluate my obligations and really plan out my weeks using my handy planner. Unfortunately contrary to popular belief, I may not be Wonder Woman. 

It's Not You, It's Me {Finding Meaningful Brand Partnerships}

I blog when I can, but when you have limited time you also really have to make time for hobbies that are important to you. I have also decided to cut out some of my brand partnerships that really weren't benefiting me for the work I would have to put in and didn't apply for extra things just because I could.  It's easy to get sucked into trying to apply for and do everything! I want to support more local companies as well as have partnerships that feel natural and meaningful. 

The brands that I chat about or am an ambassador for, I've all loved before that position was even an opportunity for me.  I think it's really important to keep it real (for real though) and represent a handful of amazing brands and companies whose products I believe in instead of being able to tack on my affiliation with a laundry list of companies. It's also really important for me to like the communication and interaction I have with the brand's managers and employees. 

If I'm entering an agreement to promote a brand (maybe market exclusivity), post on X social media channels X times a month, wear and use during races, and blast their updates on social media, I also need the relationship to be mutual.  It doesn't have to be loads of free product, but discounts and at least a few products complimentary to start helps. If you give me a discount on a product I love, I will definitely be online shopping!  

Also a retweet or some social media interaction every so often would be nice. Of course there are always brand that you want to work with or apply to work with and you happen to get passed over for whatever reason, it stinks, but I always believe that there are more opportunities around the corner. 

 I have talked to some brands that want their ambassadors to really just promote affiliate codes and not get any discounts or products, or maybe only earn some product prizes based on contests. Pushing a code or just constant advertisement urging others to buy a product isn't my style. If I actually like the brand and the relationship is good, then the whole thing feels easy and natural, probably because I'd be using/wearing the product and chatting about it online anyways.

Not in any partnership with Under Armour. Just when you live in Baltimore, the birthplace of Under Armour, sometimes you wear it head to toe because you love it, and it's everywhere. 
It's Not You, It's Me {Finding Meaningful Brand Partnerships}-under armour

I don't want this to come off as complaining. I'm grateful for every single opportunity that comes my way, truly.  However on the same token-my time, my voice and space on the internet and social media is important to me. It's especially important with limited time that my time is not being wasted or not meaningful.  As with anything in my life (seriously ask my friends how much I talk about this), I have no time for settling for anything less than awesome.  I have some amazing experiences working with brands that I will not waste my time in one that won't reciprocate the effort.  

In short, even if you aren't a blogger don't settle for anything less than happiness in life. If your situation sucks, get out of it-we only have so much time in our busy days that it shouldn't be wasted. There is always another job, another significant other, another friend, another opportunity that actually is awesome out there. In these situations, sure there might be a period of discomfort and crappiness, but getting what you want and deserve AND something meaningful is worth so much more. Just do you!

So here's some brands I am really happy to work with again in 2016 that you should check out: 

 If you follow me you know that I freaking love Nuun Hydration and their whole company family. This fizzy hydration product has opened doors to fun races, fueling PRs, opporunities, and lots of friends! I am happy to rep them as long as they'll have me!

It's Not You, It's Me {Finding Meaningful Brand Partnerships}-nuun

Also, unrelated Nuun plug- they just reformulated Nuun Active and Energy so they are still the great flavored fizzy Nuun you always loved, but now uses plant-based sweetners (monk fruit & stevia), includes 1 g of dextrose which is a fast-acting carbohydrate, and is certified gluten-free, vegan, and informed choice. If you have been doubtful about Nuun, you should totally check it out! See, I really believe in this weird little product and company. 

 Momentum Jewelry is a really awesome company owned by an awesome lady Amy (#girlboss) who is awesome to work with. They have some nicely thought out campaigns, organized emails to ambassadors, and are amazing in hooking ambassadors up with new products and big discount codes.  It only fuels my obsession with mantras even more. 

It's Not You, It's Me {Finding Meaningful Brand Partnerships}

Speaking of girl bosses, I love that I get to work with the ZOOMA women's race series which encourages, supports, and gathers women together to get healthy, run, and enjoy a weekend race-cation with great swag and post-race wine. They are working on a huge race diversity issue and often ask for plenty of  feedback from their ambassadors.

It's Not You, It's Me {Finding Meaningful Brand Partnerships}-zooma-race

Okay, so I really love girl bosses including my lady Dana who put out not only Baltimore's first cold-pressed juice company, Gundalow Juice,  but also provides so much support and inspiration in the community. They are constantly supporting all fitness activities and places, getting their juices into small local markets, and never losing sight of the vision of the company. Sometimes it feels like the fact that I love their juices comes second to all the positivity and support that Gundalow Juice provides its ambassadors! 

It's Not You, It's Me {Finding Meaningful Brand Partnerships}-gundalow

The photo below is my favorite products from my first marathon training cycle in 2013 including Honey Stinger so you know the love run deeps. I'm happy to be a part of the Honey Stinger Hive in 2016 . Their program is more hands off, but I'm happy to support a brand I use.  Hello again, Nuun! 

It's Not You, It's Me {Finding Meaningful Brand Partnerships}

Finally I'm excited to be back as a Rock 'n' Blogger for the second year in a row. It seems they are trying to make the program bigger and better, which rocks. I love Ashley, the Rock 'n' Roll Race Series blogger liason and the fact that I have the chance to spread the run love at Rock 'n' Roll races.  Despite some haters who dislike big, commercial race events-I support anything that can make running seem fun for people, can bring people together for running, and can encourage people to maybe sign up for their first race. Philly Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon was my first half and was an amazing experience that I'd love to pass on to others! 

It's Not You, It's Me {Finding Meaningful Brand Partnerships}-rock-n-blog

How do you feel about brand ambassadorships? Do you have a brand you work with or would love to work with? 

January 28, 2016

My 4 Favorite Portable Protein-Packed Snacks

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post with Mantioba Harvest through my association with Fit Approach. I received free Hemp Heart Bars and compensation in return for my fair review. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Now that school has started up again my schedule is full, and I'm always running around to school, work, coaching, and social events. I get really hungry (and hangry) if I don't eat so I need to have protein-packed snacks on me to keep me satisfied.  Here are some of my stand-by favorite portable snacks that are packed with protein. 

My 4 Favorite Portable Protein-Packed Snacks

1. Anything with nut butter 
Seriously. It pretty much goes great with almost anything, and I'll take it anywhere. Some of my favorites are nut butter with an apple or banana (included as my favorite snack in this round-up), peanut butter and jelly on crackers, or ants on a log (peanut butter on celery topped with raisins). 

My 4 Favorite Portable Protein-Packed Snacks-nut-butter
Nut butter by the spoonful everyday (topped with chocolate chips sometimes!)
2. Hard-boiled eggs
I love eating eggs not just for breakfast, but anytime of day. They are cheap, available everywhere, and a great source of protein. Hard-boiled eggs can be made in a big batch or you can even buy them already cooked. I like keeping a bunch of hard-boiled eggs in the refrigerator already peeled so that I can eat them as a quick snack or throw in a plastic bag and take them to school or work with me.

My 4 Favorite Portable Protein-Packed Snacks-hard-boiled-egg

3. Trail Mix 
I love a great trail mix. I love buying the single-serve packets from Trader Joe's.  I especially love trail mixes that include almonds, dried fruit, and chocolate chips. I love that it's portable and can be a nice mix of salty and sweet flavors. Some of my favorite homemade trail mix recipes are Lean Clean Brie's Superfood Trail Mix, Hummusapien's Spicy Wasabi Trail Mix, and Eating Well's Gorp Trail Mix

4. Protein bars
While whole food is always a better option, I love a good protein bar to take with me since I'm always on the go. Right now I'm loving Quest Nutrition bars, KIND bars, SquareBars and other protein bars that are packed full of nutrients and fairly few ingredients. I can now add a new favorite protein bar to that list-Manitoba Harvest's new Hemp Heart Bars. I was sent a box with each of the flavors of bars thanks to my Manitoba Harvest and Fit Approach. 

My 4 Favorite Portable Protein-Packed Snacks-hemp-heart-bar

They are delicious and packed with 10 grams of plant-based protein and 10 grams of Omega 3 and 6 thanks to all that hemp seed goodness. The hemp seeds have a texture similar to chia seeds, but these bars aren't chewy at all and come in 3 tasty flavors-vanilla, chocolate, and apple cinnamon. My favorite flavor was the apple cinnamon which tasted like cinnamon apple sauce. 

If you want to try the new Hemp Heart Bars for yourself, you can save some moolah by using the discount code hhbarlaunch1015 for 15% off your purchase at Manitoba Harvest [code expires 3/31/2016]. 

Also you can totally enter Manitoba Harvest's photo contest by tagging your healthy living photos with @manitobaharvest and using the hashtag #fuelledbyhemp to be entered to win your favorite hemp food product  each month. Check out all the details here

My 4 Favorite Portable Protein-Packed Snacks-hemp-heart-bar

Today I linked up with my fave Friday Linkup ladies CourtneyMar, and Cynthia  as well as Nicole and Amanda .

What is one of your favorite portable protein-packed snacks?

January 26, 2016

5 Ways to Stay Healthy This Winter

Disclosure: Wedderspoon USA sent me Manuka honey products to try out. I received no other compensation. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

If the largest blizzard ever to hit Baltimore and dump just shy of 30 inches on the city this weekend wasn't enough of a hint, winter is really here. While I've been trying to avoid getting sick since before the Chicago Marathon through my Fall finals in December, we still have some months of cold and flu season ahead of us. It's never a good time to get sick, but especially at the start of the semester or if you are just gearing up your spring race training and don't want any setbacks.  Here are some of the ways I attempt to stay healthy and illness-free. Reminder, I'm not a medical professional these are just my tips, so always ask and listen to your doctors!

5 Ways to Stay Healthy This Winter

1. Drink water. 
This should be on every health tips list. Water is just awesome for your body. In the winter sometimes it's harder for me because I'm not as thirsty during the day, but it's important to keep yourself hydrated.  

2. Stay well-rested. 
Getting enough sleep is another thing that sometimes is hard for me, especially when I'm in school and working.  Sleep deprivation suppresses the immune system which means you're more likely to catch a cold.  If I start to feel like I'm catching a cold, I always try to get a good nights sleep and take it easy for a couple days. 

5 Ways to Stay Healthy This Winter-sleep-bed

3. Be like Pooh and eat some honey.  
In recent years I've become more interested in homeopathic and natural treatments. Honey in general has many health benefits including being an antimicrobial, but raw honey also contains many vitamins and minerals which help boost the immune system and can treat coughs and sore throats. Raw honey is cloudier, but I don't think it tastes much different.  Wedderspoon had sent me some of their raw Manuka honey products to try in the Fall after meeting them at Expo East. I was having a spoonful of their honey every morning and using their ginger honey lozenges weeks before the Chicago Marathon because I was determined not to be sick for the race this year.  I just ordered some more raw honey because I've been using it in my tea daily. 

5 Ways to Stay Healthy This Winter-manduka-honey

4. Load up on citrus. 
Even though there are conflicting studies regarding Vitamin C and immune system benefits, I still try to get as much as I can in the winter. I figure it at least can't hurt! I keep oranges and grapefruits around for snacks and also take Vitamin C supplements. I also make sure to drink juices with plenty of fruits and veggies in them like the Gundalow Juice Sailor Sunrise. If I feel something coming on I'll also start drinking Emergen-C daily which includes lots of Vitamin C.  

5. Wash your hands & disinfect. 
Don't touch your face either! Washing your hands sounds like a no-brainer, but it really is one of the best ways to stop the spread of illness.  From working in a hospital for a bit I know that officially you are supposed to use soap and water and wash long enough to hum the "Happy Birthday" song twice. Something else I do all year round is wipe down my phone with disinfectant wipes every other day or so. With touch smart phones now I feel like there is a ton of germs on our phones, which we are holding all the time too, so cleaning them is probably a good idea. 

5 Ways to Stay Healthy This Winter-phone

What do you do to stay healthy through the winter?
site design by designer blogs