November 25, 2013

MIMM #17 and Breathe Deeply and FIND A GIFT!

MIMM

I don't really have much to say about this weekend-which is kind of great. I wasn't as productive as I wanted-I'm going to blame that on the freezing cold weather and my drafty apartment which made it difficult to move from the couch. 

Friday night I celebrated getting my first publication  from a work project (and first author at that!) officially published on the interwebs with drinks and staying up way too late. 

Waking up with a headache and far too little sleep made running in the cold Saturday morning not at the top of my list of things I'd like to be doing, but I couldn't let my peeps down and the run went by quickly! I definitely have my eye on a pair of Under Armour coldgear running tights because I can't survive the winter without some super warm clothes! The rest of the day included lots of coffee, naps,movies and ice cream! 

Sunday was a day of sleeping in and football. I also got a bunch of homework done and even trekked to Whole Foods-it's been a while. 
I managed to escape Whole Foods with a bill of less than $50 which is a miracle


I've got a fun weekly feature I'll be doing from now until Christmas on the blog called Breathe Deeply and Find A Gift! Each week I'll share a unique gift you can give someone (or yourself!) this holiday season.  There will also be giveaways  and coupons for these great gifts mixed in, to get you started on that holiday shopping! Today I have a great gift for co-workers, teachers, or friends. 

breathe-deeply-and-find-a-gift

I'm a big fan of candles, especially around the holidays with all the amazing seasonal scents.  I have most of my big family gifts bought or in the works already (go me!) but am always looking for a versatile gift-one that is great for a friend or to give to the host of a party.  However, I always feel like giving someone a candle from my go-to candle emporiums Yankee Candle or Bath and Body Works is a bit impersonal, especially when I know how many candles I receive and buy around the holidays.  I was excited to discover Prize Candle which makes for a fun gift! Prize Candles are all-natural, scented, soy candles and come with a bonus. Each candle comes with a surprise inside-a ring valued anywhere from $10-$5,000. It's the Cracker Jack of candles-except you are getting a much snazzier ring. I actually don't think Cracker Jack even gives out rings anymore, which is disappointing. 


Prize-Candle1
The candles come in a variety of scents including Pumpkin Spice, Mountain Sage, and Mulled Wine-which I received.  The Mulled Wine scent isn't as strong as I'd like, but the candle is  very long-burning because I haven't even gotten close to my prize yet! Once you can spot a prize in your candle, you let the wax cool and use some tweezers to pull out the prize pouch and unwrap your ring. You can type a code that came with your ring into the appraisal section of the Prize Candle website to find out how much it's worth! 

Prize-Candle2

You can order your Prize Candle here ! I burned the candle for most of the evening last night and still have yet to get my prize out but once I will-I'll be sure to update!

Disclaimer: I was sent a candle from Prize Candles to review in exchange for a review. As always, all opinions are my own!

Also I'm super excited for the Elf 4 Health challenge that started today. Today's challenge is to have a Meatless Monday. For me that means my usual oatmeal for breakfast, a smoothie and protein bar for lunch, and a sushi date night for dinner. Easy peasy. 

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How was your weekend? Have you started your holiday shopping yet?

November 22, 2013

Five Friday Faves-Thanksgiving Edition

Another reminder, that  you have 2 more days to enter my Truebar giveaway with THREE winners here

Even though I took off work on Monday, this week still has felt long! As I try to shush all the people and stores and advertisements that scream that it's the holiday season, I have to admit, it is almost here. Sorry, I'm not decorating or listening to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. Retail stores being open at all on Thanksgiving is ridiculous, to give my two cents. I'll try to focus on the positive aspects of the holiday-like all the food. Thanksgiving is awesome because it's a meal of mostly comfort foods that leaves you feeling all warm and satisfied inside. Sadly there aren't any turkey trots super close by my parents place Thanksgiving morning so I don't partake in that tradition. I am fond of the phrase "Huffin' for the Stuffin'" associated with turkey trots though :) Today I share with you my favorite things about Thanksgiving !

                    Five Friday Favorites -Thanksgiving Edition
1. Family
Thanksgiving is awesome because it's one of the holidays that doesn't involve gifts or lots of activities (at least in my family). It's just family hanging out, catching up, and eating lots of great food. Especially in this day and age with everybody so busy, it's nice to put down the cell phones and get together with your whole family for a nice meal. 


thanksgiving-someecard
Sad, but true?
2. Pumpkin Pie
I'm a huge fan of pumpkin pie. It's unique and super delicious topped with tons of whipped cream. I don't even like the crust-just give me all of the filling. Sadly, my boyfriend is crazy for pecan pie, which is okay (better if it's made made with chocolate in the filling!), so I make that much more often. 
pecan-pie1pumpkin-large

Team pecan pie or pumpkin pie? Pick a side!

3. Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
Watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thanksgiving morning is a tradition for my family.  I was even super stoked when  Towson University's, my alma mater, band played in the parade in 2009. Yes, I double checked the year to get you the straight facts! It's corny, but I love the enormous balloons, Broadway show song performances, and musical guests on floats.  With Santa and his sleigh closing the parade (who looks pretty legit in my book), it's the official start of holidays and gives me the okay to start listening to Christmas music. 


macys-thanksgiving-parade-hello-kitty
I love Hello Kitty :)
4. Football
It's great to sit on my parent's couch with family and watch football on their big TV for most of the day. There is always a bunch of great match ups, and my home team usually isn't playing so it's pretty stress-free :)

5.Leftovers
Pretty much the best kind of leftovers, let's be honest. I love eating leftovers in a variety of ways-turkey sandwiches, turkey soup, cranberries and sweet potatoes with eggs, and some pumpkin pie for dessert-again. 

Pumpkin or pecan pie? What is your favorite Thanksgiving tradition?

November 20, 2013

Philadelphia Half Marathon 2013 Recap

Well, as I hinted, my 5th half marathon went pretty well. It's crazy because I'm signed up for 4 half marathons ALREADY for next year #crazyrunnerlady.  I was super nervous because honestly I have been in a running funk post-marathon. I had two weeks of recovery of not doing a whole lot of anything and only a handful of runs after that, the longest being 7 miles. Even though I'd tell myself "c'mon Lauren, you ran a freaking marathon, you've got this", I was still super nervous. I knew I wasn't going to PR or anything, but for my pride I didn't really want to run my slowest half ever (running my first in 1:48 was a mistake, damn). 

philadelphia-half-marathon-2013

Side note, it was also my 13th race of 2013-mission accomplished! Next up-14 in 2014 :)

I went to the expo Saturday afternoon, down at the convention center at Philly. The whole area of the city was packed because there was about 30,000 people running the marathon/half marathon. I was a little confused when I walked in but soon walked right up to grab my bib and shirt and bag. The shirt is a nice long-sleeve baby blue shirt with the course map on the back. It's going to be great for winter running!  They had  lots of nice merchandise, but I exercised restraint and only came out with a knit beanie, which is my new favorite accessory to cover up bad hair days! There were the usual running stores, snacks, and brands selling merchandise there.Overall, it was a great and organized expo experience.  Afterwards I carbloaded at Campo's in Old City, with a Philly cheesesteak, aka the best way to carbload.  I love Philadelphia so much. 

Campos-philadelphia-cheesesteak-1

There was lots of talk about all the extra security and bag checks runners and spectators would have to go through so I was nervous about arriving downtown in the morning. My boyfriend ended up dropping me off at the closed Ben Franklin Parkway exit off of 676 around 6 AM, which dropped me right at the starting line around 6:10 AM. I didn't have a bag because I didn't want to mess with any of that, but it seemed like it would have been easy anyways. The weather was overcast and in the 50s but not as cold as I had thought it would be (thank goodness!). I had gloves and an extra throw-away shirt on over my shirt, arm sleeves, compression sleeves, and capri pants.  Eventually the race started, and I was excited. The half marathoners and marathoners all start together so that was exciting. I wish I would have worn my marathon shirt from Baltimore to fit in because I seemed to be surrounded by speedy people in the Black corral. I got to high-five Mayor Nutter of Philadelphia as I crossed the start line. I told myself to get an easy pace for the first half of the race so I was running around 8:00-8:15 minute miles. It was exciting to be running downtown along streets I knew with TONS of spectators cheering. 

The race course was pretty nice and started and ended at the Ben Franklin Parkway/Art Museum area (yes, the Rocky steps!). I was surprised by how many spectators there were, especially on a chilly day! The course was fairly flat until some little hills at miles 7 and 8 and then a big hill in Fairmount Park around Mile 10  that lead to a nice big downhill! I started to speed up and felt good. Marathon training taught me a lot about racing strategy and discipline so I made sure to switch between water and gatorade at almost every water stop and even took a Gu at mile 6. My legs weren't bothering me too much from being tight and I ended up running a negative split! I was really pushing it in the end and ran one of my speedier half marathons! Pushing my pace as I got to mile 12, I thought there would be no way I could have run the full today, as the half marathoners went to the right towards the finish, and I watched all the full marathoners go to the left to make the trek towards Manayunk.

 As I made it down the last stretch towards the finish line I found my boyfriend cheering for me and yelling that I was going to PR. I laughed because I knew that wasn't true and was wondering what he thought my PR is (he was about 5 minutes off, good job). I ended up with an overall 7:50 pace and my second fastest half marathon time-WOOHOO. 
philadelphia-half-marathon-time-2013

 I LOVED the Philadelphia post-race runner's area-Baltimore needs to take some notes. I got my medal and some water and gatorade pretty quickly. There was lots of space to walk and stop. Then for the food you could pick up bananas or oranges but were handed a bag with all the other snacks. It was great to not have to wait in a long line and to have a bag to put all my crap in. It seemed the gear check pickup was pretty organized and easy to access too. 

They had post-race massages which I decided to forgo because I had to go to the family reunion area to get my phone from my boyfriend. It was the first race my parents went to-even though they made it right at the end ,but it meant a lot to me. It seems everyone thinks I'm a big runner now after running a full marathon even though I've been racing for like a year and a half. It's nice to have people support you and wake up early to go stand out in the cold to watch you run by. 

philadelphia-half-marathon-2013-post-race-medal

My calves were sore afterwards, and  the rest of the day was full of brunching, napping and watching football. Overall I thought the Philadelphia half marathon was a great experience. Maybe I'll come back for the Full one of these years!

November 19, 2013

Sticking to Goals during the Holiday Season

Well hello. I was home visiting family this weekend so I pretty much was disconnected and only checked social media on my phone a few times. It's nice to not have my laptop sitting right next to me and my phone constantly near me. I ran the Philadelphia Half Marathon on Sunday and will be recapping that tomorrow ::spoiler alert::-it went well!

 It was an indulgent weekend with lots of carbs and delicious breakfasts like challah bread french toast and a Boston creme breakfast casserole (topped with nutella!).

I definitely needed my morning tea with lemon and ACV today. I will probably make a smoothie for a snack and be sure to get plenty of veggies with dinner. This weekend was a good reminder of how crazy it's going to be during the holiday season with travelling, visiting family, and lots of food. It reminded me to make a list of some things I need to bring to my parents house when I'm visiting over Thanksgiving and Christmas (almond milk, nut butter, and some protein bars!), but also how to balance health and fun because let's be honest-I'm NEVER turning down a big bowl of my mom's homemade gravy and meatballs with spaghetti for dinner.

Having a plan and sticking to goals is a great way to stay healthy during the holidays. My routine for sleep and exercise was better last week, and I plan to keep that going. I did however, drop the ball on some of my November goals-including the pushup/squat/plank challenge. I have decided that since it's hard for me to stick to a set plan-I'm going to try to just do the plank part of the challenge for thirty days. After that maybe I can add a couple other moves into the mix.

 Starting small is easier and gives you a place to build from! I have been drinking more water and trying a new recipe each week. I think I'm going to FINALLY cash in my yoga Groupon before it expires and actually try to do yoga once a week. That's more for my mind than body.  I didn't workout yesterday like I had planned and instead got some much-needed sleep. Being flexible with your schedule and resting is very important during the holidays,especially when travelling. Don't be afraid to break your routine or squeeze in a 20 minute workout video on Youtube instead of that fitness class you usually take at your home gym.

Here's some motivation for you this Tuesday because I know I need it as we begin to enter the busy holiday season.  To recap how I'm sticking to my goals this week:

1. Drink more water. Seriously, just do it.
2. Don't sweat the small stuff (that includes food, schedules, etc.). 
3. Make time for yourself (do yoga, read a book, etc.)
4. Break goals into parts to make them more manageable.
5. Be flexible. 
6. Switch up your exercise routine!

As most studies show, having a friend or people who support your goals and can help keep you accountable is one of the best ways to stick to your plan.  There is a great challenge that Lindsay from the Lean Green Bean has been running for a couple of seasons that pairs you up with a buddy to support their holiday health goals and help you take part in the Elf for Health daily challenges. Sign up here today-it's free, fun, and there are a few prizes you can win!


Also don't forget that you have until Sunday to enter my Truebar giveaway with THREE winners here!

How do you stay motivated during the holidays?




November 14, 2013

My New Favorite GF Snack and Giveaway-Truebars

Disclaimer: I was given a sleeve of Truebars to review and giveaway as their blog. I am a Truebar Brand Ambassador but received no compensation for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own, as always. 

I know I'm a huge slacker and haven't tackled reviewing all the great products I tasted at Expo East. Honestly I'm just finishing up going through my samples and goodies that I lugged home with me! 

One product that really stood out to be was Truebar from Bakery on Main-which I had never heard of before the Expo. I talked with Sara there and then got in contact with some super nice people from Bakery on Main who sent me a bunch of Truebars to try and review.  
I just really like these bars as an alternative to some of the protein bars I eat in my rotation. I'm really excited to announce that since connecting with the brand, I've become a Truebar and Bakery on Main Brand Ambassador! I'm sure you'll be seeing more of these bars, but let me tell you more about them!

truebars-bakery-on-main1
the swag I was sent
Truebars are a product from Bakery on Main, a small-batch,gluten-free bakery/company that started due to the need for gluten-free options in the bakery's home of Connecticut.  Truebars are great because as their slogan says, they have NOTHING to hide

The ingredients are all spelled out for you on the back of the bars and there is nothing weird, chemical, or deceiving.  Truebars are made with many low-GI ingredients and have lots of fiber and Omega 3 from chia seeds.  They are awesome not matter what kind of diet or lifestyle you follow because they are non-GMO, dairy and casein fee, low sodium, certified gluten-free, Kosher Parve, and contain no transfats or cholesterol! 

Check out the Truebar ingredient list (all on their website!)

At Expo East there were TONS of different yummy protein or snack bars that I tasted. I can't even tell you how many I sampled. Truebar stood out to me not only because it is gluten-free but because the bars are less than 200 calories which makes them great as a pre-run fuel or snack.  

Most of them are sweet from the fruit the bars are made with so they definitely satisfy my afternoon sweet tooth!  I seriously wouldn't be smoozing some bar brand to the interwebs if I didn't actually love them. 

I really fell in love with Truebars because they came in so many unique and delicious flavors! Truebar has 6 flavors that you can check out here 
  • Coconut Cashew
  • Apricot Almond Chai
  • Fruit & Nut
  • Hazelnut Chocolate Cherry
  • Raspberry Chocolate Almond
  • Walnut Cappucino
truebars-gluten-free
My favorite has to to be the hazelnut chocolate cherry, with the coconut cashew and apricot almond chai as close seconds. I'm just a sucker for chocolate and cherries. It is so delicious, and the flavor definitely stands out. The apricot almond chai also has a really strong chai flavor which I wasn't expecting when I first tried it-SO good! Since they are made with fruit and nuts mostly, the texture of these reminds me of a Larabar.

truebar-hazelnut-chocolate-cherry

Like I said before, I've been eating them as an afternoon or post-dinner snack when I want something sweet or eat half a bar before a workout or run in the morning. It provides the perfect amount of fuel to get my body going and stop my stomach from rumbling in the mornings (forever hungry, over here). 

You can check out the store locator or order bars here on their website where they are offering a sleeve of 12 bars for $17.99 with free shipping!

 It is also your lucky day because Bakery on Main offered to giveaway 3 sleeves of any flavor of Truebars to my readers! All you have to do is enter via the Rafflecopter below to win a 12 Truebars in any flavor! Giveaway ends Sunday, November 24th at 12:00 AM EST!

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a Rafflecopter giveaway


November 13, 2013

BOD POD- It's not a spaceship!


First off, congratulations to KM Runner for winning my Hot Chocolate Race entry giveaway! 


hotchocolate15kgiveaway

As always, remember you can still register for any Hot Chocolate 15k/5k race and use my code BREATHEMUG to receive a free travel mug at packet pickup! It's always a great time when it involves running and chocolate! 


Hot Chocolate 15/5K - America's Sweetest Race

As I mentioned on Monday, this past weekend I was tested by the BOD POD. If you've never heard of it before, it's pretty much an egg-shaped chamber you sit in that takes measurements of your body mass (weight) and volume using air displacement technology, similar to the principles of underwater weighing.  Or you can just pretend it's a spaceship because I think it looks like something straight out of a science fiction movie. 
bod-pod
The BOD POD on the right
Your weight is measured using an accurate electronic scale and then you sit inside the Bod Pod chamber for two fifty second air measurements, after the machine has been calibratred. From these two measurements your body composition is calculated along with calculations of caloric information such as resting metabolic rate and total energy expenditure (these use some information from a client information form such as height, activity level, etc.). The BOD POD only determines fat vs. fat free mass not fat vs. muscle, which is important to keep in mind. 


I have an electronic FitBit scale that is supposedly very accurate and gives body fat percentages based on bio-electrical analysis, which I have found to be varying based on body water content.  THE BOD POD sounds like a strange test, but in my area there is a mobile Bod Pod through Be Fit Test, LLC  which happened to be at the gym around the corner so I decided to spend the $45 and see what it was all about.  This teseting is apparently used by pro and university sports teams along with many gyms because it is relatively inexpensive and fast, while still fairly accurate. 

The day before the test I was told no food, exercise or drinking for 2 hours prior to testing. My appointment was 8:30 AM so none of that was a problem for me.  I think that like weighing yourself, getting tested by a Bod Pod would be best in the morning. You also must remove all jewelry, watches, etc. and wear a one piece bathing suit or form fitted clothing-I wore compression shorts and a sports bra. A swim cap was provided there to wear in the chamber.

Like I had mentioned, the night before I had been out late drinking some adult beverages and then enjoying some late night pizza so I thought about cancelling my appointment due to water retention and bloating which I could use as an excuse if I didn't like my results. However, that morning I suppose I was feeling confident  because I realized it's just some silly test. Whatever it said shouldn't change how I feel about my body, which isn't too shabby anyway :) 

The whole process was very quick. I showed up and was led into this mobile unit.  Now I didn't take any photos because I thought that would be a little creepy, and frankly I was still not fully awake so these are from the website. 
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The whole trailer unit
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inside the trailer       
(All photos and technical information are from this website)

I met with the owner Matt, and we talked about what I do and why I'm getting tested as I filled out a waiver and client information forms. He pretty much just asked for my height, age, and activity level.  I took the sweatpants and hoodie I had on over my compression shorts and sports bra off and put on the swim cap. The BOD POD was calibrated, and then I was weighed on a digital scale. 

Next I sat inside the BOD POD chamber as still and quietly as possibly for two 50 second measurement periods. I was worried it would feel very claustrophobic but with the clear front panel it felt completely comfortable and was very quick.  

After getting out of the chamber, my test results were printed instantly. I was pretty happy with the results. My weight matched within a pound to my scale at home and the body fat percentage was only 2% different.   I was just barely in the category of lean at 22% which is fine with me.  

The body fat composition scale provided on my results is as follows: 


Risky (low body fat) = <5% for men, and <15% for women

Ultra Lean = 5-8% for men, and 15-18% for women

Lean = 9-12% for men, and 19-22% for women
Moderately Lean = 13-20% for men, and 23-30% for women
Excess Fat = 21-30% for men, and 31-40% for women
Risky (high body fat) = >30% for men, and >40% for women


Matt also showed me a chart with photos of men and women of different heights and body types at different body fat categories, which is really eye-opening and goes to show that body fat percentages look different on different people, so you really shouldn't focus on a certain number. 
I don't like to focus on numbers especially since I've really stopped using my scale, but the whole experience was definitely interesting. The test showed me that my home scale seems to be fairly accurate, but surprisingly it has given me more confidence in my fitness and body. I think being in a vulnerable position like that is a pretty big thing to do, especially when it comes to females and weight (I hate being weighed at the doctors).  

The test reassured me that those 6 or 7 pounds I gained during marathon training and still haven't lost are not just pure fat. So really who cares what the scale says-it's ridiculous.  If the testing is available in your area and you are interested, I'd say check it out. I wouldn't take the results to heart because there is always a lot of variables, no matter how accurate a test says it is.  Self-love for the win!  
bodylove=selflove
Have you ever heard of the BOD POD? Have you ever had a body composition test done? 

November 11, 2013

MIMM #16-Pep Talks

Well another weekend has flown by, and it was pretty great.  Lately I've been really hard on myself. This week I was really busy with a midterm, work projects, and chores. I've had a lot of those "I should " moments all week where I get stressed about the things I should be doing. 

I only worked out 3 times this week when I should be getting ready to feel a little bit more confident about running the Philadelphia Half Marathon next Sunday.
I should be eating more vegetables.
I should have done a long run on Sunday morning. 
I should be drinking more water instead of  just coffee.
I should have worked on my grad school applications this weekend. 
I should have gone to bed earlier. 

On Friday night I got upset because I know what I should be doing but why don't I just do it? Why do I get stressed out by healthy habits? Is it because there is so much pressure telling you what you SHOULD be doing to be thin/strong/healthy/attractive? 

You know what though, I had a fun weekend. I think that choosing happiness over what may be the quote-unquote healthy choices is what you need to do, and I will continue to do it. Less stress makes me happier and healthier! It's also those moments of self-doubt and anxiety which allow me to rally, give myself a pep talk, and say forget, it-you're awesome,Lauren. I am always amazed at how fast times flies. Life goes on everyday so do what makes you happy.  My weekend  ended up being marvelous:  

It's okay to get more rest. I ran a freaking speedy little marathon a month ago. 

Enjoying the weekend allows me to feel energized to work hard during the week. 

Facing some anxiety and getting a Bod Pod body composition test, even after drinking and staying out late the night before which probably made me bloated, is not that scary (more on that tomorrow!). 

Late night pizza on Friday nights tastes even more amazing. 

Sleeping in on mornings when it's cold outside is great. 

Hanging out with people you don't see often is refreshing.

I'm running the Philadelphia half marathon for fun. It's not going to be PR and that's okay. 

Okay, so the water one I need to work on to balance out the coffee because I am a little dehydrated :)

Remember to give yourself credit for all that you do and allow yourself to enjoy life!

enjoy-life-quote
Are you too hard on yourself? Did you have a relaxing or busy weekend?

November 8, 2013

Five Friday Faves 11/8/2013


Happy Friday! Gosh, this week felt long for me. Time to have a productive and relaxing weekend! Don't forget you have until Wednesday night to sign up for my Hot Chocolate 15k/5k race entry giveaway. Click here and enter now-it's a race you don't want to miss! 
hot-chocolate-race-series

Here are some of my favorite things from this past week:

Favorite health news article: 

Apparently if you tell yourself that your painful, long workout feels good, you can push yourself to keep going and increase your endurance performance. Glad I'm not crazy when I talk to myself when I'm running or in the gym feeling like I'm going to die. Whew. 

Favorite fitness item to lust over: 
Nike TR Fit 3 Training Shoe 
I was perusing the Nordstrom site (they are having a 40% sale!) last night and of course stopped to check out their running shoes and spotted these. These aren't on sale because these sneaks are brand new but look at all the pretty patterns they come in! Swoon! 
I really want the blue leopard printed or these ones:
Nike-TR-fit-shoe
Guys, I think they'd make me faster and stronger so they might have to go on my Christmas list. 

Favorite easy dinner recipe: 
Spicy Grilled Chicken Tenders from Cavegirl Cuisine

spicy-grilled-chicken-tenders

I had pinned this chicken tenders recipe and planned to have it for dinner last night along with some steamed veggies and roasted sweet potato fries. I doubled the recipe for the sauce and added a tablespoon of plain greek yogurt and cooked in a pan on the stove (no grill, boo!).  The chicken tasted so delicious and my boyfriend even insisted I make it again and made sure I commented on the blogpost at Cavegirl Cuisine to let her know how awesome it turned out!  

Favorite holiday-inspired clothing item: 
Renalie Reindeer Knit Leggings

reindeer-knit-leggings

These  reindeer leggings seem like the perfect item to wear with a big oversized sweater and some booties as it gets colder and as it's apparently totally fine for Christmas commercials to start running on TV. The site is super affordable so I may have to pick those up!

Favorite recipe on my to-make list: 
Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Lentil Blondies from Ambitious Kitchen
I just saw this recipe for this delicious treat this morning and need to make it ASAP. It had me at peanut butter chocolate chip!  I'm not going to tell anyone that they are pretty healthy and loaded with lentils, either! 

Do you have any fun plans this weekend? Do you have any recipes you plan to make this weekend?

November 7, 2013

Chocolate + Running = Happiness

Today I'm excited to talk about my two of my favorite things-chocolate and running!

 I have a huge sweet tooth and always save room for dessert. Besides chocolate cake, chocolate chips, or hot chocolate, I love some high quality dark chocolate. However most nights I'm fending for myself in the kitchen for a sweet snack after dinner.  I sometimes get fancy and make cookies or mug cakes but usually it's some greek yogurt, chocolately protein bar, or anything involving nut butters! Last week I made a batch of these little almond butter chocolate bites and they were so delicious! It was the perfect bite (or two or three) when I was craving something sweet. I made mine in a silicone heart-shaped ice cube tray I snagged from Target last year near Valentine's Day, but any sort of tray or molds would work!


nutty-chocolate-bites-recipe1

Nutty Chocolate Bites
  • 1/4 cup cacao powder (cocoa powder works fine too!)
  • 5-6 tablespoons unrefined liquid coconut oil
  • liquid stevia drops to taste (or whatever your favorite sweetener is to taste but a liquid combines best)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2-3 tablespoons of your favorite nut butter
  • Silicone ice cube tray (muffin pans or any type of mold works)
First make sure your coconut oil is liquid-I usually microwave mine in a bowl for about 20 seconds. Combine coconut oil with the liquid sweetener or sweetener of choice. Stir in your cocoa or cacao powder and keep stirring until it's all combined.  Spoon a little bit of the chocolate, enough to cover the bottom of the mold, into each silicone ice cube mold greased with a little bit of coconut oil for easy removal. For this tray that was about a teaspoon. If you don't have an ice cube try you can use muffin cups or any molds you have. Pop the tray into the freezer for about five minutes, until the chocolate has hardened. Remove the tray and add a half a teaspoon or however much you'd like of your favorite nut butter and cover with the remaining chocolate mixture.  Freeze until solid, about 10-20 minutes. Once the bites are hardened, just pop one out anytime you need a sweet treat! 

nutty-chocolate-bites-recipe2
Nutty Chocolate Bites ready to eat!

Some colored sprinkles, chopped nuts, or dried berries would all be great additions!

Since I'm clearly a huge chocoholic, I was interested in running one of the races in the Hot Chocolate 15k/5k racing series. You get to run a race and at the post-race party, you can enjoy hot chocolate and a chocolate fondue snack bowl.  Um, sign me up! The official race charity partner is the Ronald McDonald House, which provides housing options for parents and children facing serious medical problems, which should make you feel even more warm and fuzzy inside. 
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You can imagine how excited I was when I found out I was chosen to be an ambassador for the Hot Chocolate Races in Philadelphia! Everybody I've talked to involved with the race has been super nice, and I was even sent some awesome race goodies including a shirt, headband, and key chain. 



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If you weren't convinced by the chocolate (which I find hard to believe), then let me show you the race swag you get, which is not your typical race medal! All finishers get a his or hers fleece, wicking pulloverSounds like the perfect thing to wear when enjoying a mug of hot chocolate, if you ask me! There's also a bunch of photos of the yummy chocolate snacks and all the fun runners had at previous races on the race's facebook page so check it out!

I'll be running the Philadelphia Hot Chocolate 15k on April 6th, 2014, and I'd love for you to join me! You can use code "BREATHEMUG" when registering for ANY LOCATION of the Hot Chocolate 15k/5K and receive a free travel mug at packet pickup. Check out all the locations here

It's also your lucky day because I am giving away a FREE race registration (to any location) today on the blog! 
Just fill out the rafflecopter below-giveaway ends Wednesday November 13 at 11:59 AM. 


Disclaimer: I was provided free Hot Chocolate race gear and free race registration along with prizes for referrals in compensation for this blog post. As always, all opinions and thoughts are my own. 


What is your favorite chocolate treat?

November 6, 2013

New Look and Opinions on the Flu Shot

Hello, did you check out my November goals I posted yesterday? I'm happy to say day one of the abs and booty challenge I posted was a successful, but I can tell it's those pushups that are going to give me some trouble. Arms on FIRE. 

If you are stopping by you may see I have a new look! I'm in the process of debating about going self-hosted or switching to wordpress or both, which take a lot of time and money.  I wanted to figure that out before I updated my blog's look but really didn't like my old template and decided to just switch. Carpe Diem! I'm rocking a fresh, clean look that I love while I get things figured out and eventually update the blog in a bigger way. Stay tuned. 

As a member of the I'm Fit Possible community today I weighed in on our hot topic of the month-flu shots! Visit the blog to find out my opinion on flu shots and if I think they are worth it (spoiler alert-I fully endorse them!).

Also get ready for tomorrow because I have an awesome giveaway themed around my two loves running and chocolate. Here's a hint: 

hot-chocolate-race-series

Are you digging the new layout? Did you get a flu shot this year? 



November 5, 2013

November Goals


So I didn't get a chance to post my usual marvelous highlights from my weekend. Boo.  It involved running and doing some yoga with Sarah, NY Marathon brunch get together with my running buddies to track our friend, sleeping in, and grocery shopping.  My legs were really tight, but I managed to get a couple 6 mile runs in at around an 8:45 pace.  I am still in awe of the fact that it's November, and I need to do some holiday planning already. Where does the time go?!?! I seem to plan to do many things and rarely get around to most of them. 

I've started back up again making  lists for everything, which is my favorite way to stay organized. I've been neglecting my planner recently and need to start writing reminders about everything down before I forget all the little events , due dates, and projects on my plate. I have a bunch of to-do lists and managed to check a few things off this weekend, which is such a satisfying feeling.  I have a mid-term today but after that it's back to be super productive. 

Here are some of my November goals: 

1. Be happy and positive.
2. Drink more water (have fallen off the wagon on this post-marathon!)
3. Make a plan and stick to it-use time wisely!
4. Put away the phone and pick up a book. 
5. Try one new recipe a week. 
6. Attend one yoga class a week. 

 As part of my new plan to stay productive, I've decided to participate in two challenges for the month of November.  

Like I had mentioned in my last post, I'm taking part in the  "30 Days of Little Things Challenge"  from Savvy Eats  blog.  It's been great to meditate on my day and how I'm feeling and pick one thing I'm grateful for.  It's a personal challenge to find positivity in all aspects of my life. One day I was grateful for my legs that allow me to run. Yesterday I was grateful for caramel flavored coffee, which was getting me through the day. Download the printable and join the November challenge with me!

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LOVE these blissnotes from BexLife!
I'm also going to try to do this challenge from the Clean Eating Mama. Today would be Day 1 for me (oops!). I usually am awful at sticking to daily challenges, but I'm really going to try. I really have wanted to strengthen my core and work on my planks for a while, and I like that this challenge breaks the planks up into sets!


plank-challenge

It seems like a lot but if I can break it up between morning and night or throughout the day I think it would be awesome to finish! Join me by grabbing the exercise chart here and help keep me accountable!

Since I'm feeling super go-getter and positive today, if this story doesn't make you smile-you aren't human. I loved rooting for my runner friend Liz in the New York Marathon and seeing the winners, fans, and all the runners on TV and then there are stories like that one. It is amazing. 


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I love marathons and runners-we are an awesome community of people. 

Are you going to join in the challenges with me? What are your goals for November?
 
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