January 29, 2015

The Still Point at Haven on the Lake Spa Afternoon

When I received an email with an invitation to tour and experience the newly opened The Still Point at Haven on the Lake in Columbia, MD I was excited.  Relaxing at a spa sounded like the perfect way to chill last Sunday afternoon.  

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Columbia is around a 30 minute drive outside of the city and Haven on the Lake is conveniently located near the mall and below a new Whole Foods. Yes, fresh food and drinks from Whole Foods are actually delivered to Haven on the Lake so you don't have to bring your own lunch! 

Since it's nestled right in the middle of things, I was surprised at how relaxing and calm the environment was from the minute I walked in.  There was something about the huge space, open layout, and their signature scent in the air that made me right at ease.  

When you walk in The Still Point is on the left and the on the right are the studios and pool and therapy areas.  

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The Still Point offers a large selection of wellness services including acupuncture, massage, holistic skin care, body treatments, natural nail care, and nutrition coaching. The spa looked pristine and was well-staffed.   

The first part of the afternoon was a tour of Haven on the Lake itself.  It has a huge pool area which includes a hot tub, relaxation pool, cold plunge pool, sauna, and steam bath.  All the areas looked stunning, and I was absolutely regretting not bringing my bathing suit to sneak in a dip! 

Two of the most interesting things available are the tropical rain shower and the Crystal Salt Room.  Apparently the Crystal Salt Room is used as alternative medicine for common ailments and skin conditions and is surprisingly the most-booked area at Haven on the Lake! 

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Yes, I;m talking gorgeous pools like this.  
Haven on the Lake also offers meditation and relaxation lounges, childcare services and a plethora of Mind Body classes including barre, aqua pilates,and yoga. 

I chose to try out the Yoga Wall class instead of the barre class. The studio literally is right on the lake and provides a beautiful, peaceful environment to practice in. .They even have an terrace for outside classes when the weather warms up.

January 27, 2015

Advocare Herbal Cleanse Review {Advo 24 Day Challenge}

Disclaimer: Katie Thompson of Running4Cupcakes offered me a 10 day herbal cleanse in exchange for a review. All other products mentioned where purchased by me.  As always all thoughts and opinions are my own.  I am not a professional, merely just sharing my thoughts. Always consult a professional before starting a new diet or taking any new supplements.  


Katie from Running4Cupcakes approached me before the holidays about joining the Advocare 24 Day Challenge (check out her Advocare posts and distributor site here).  Now I've heard people rave about Advocare but honestly don't have the money to spend on pricey supplements that are mostly vitamins. I am also really skeptical or diet plans and products that are pushed and distributed by people. My curiosity was peaked more when Crossfit champion Rich Froning became an endorser.  Katie offered me a free 10 day herbal cleanse box to try out and talk about my results- so I agreed! 

Now while I'd like to lose a few pounds, I don't believe in weight loss supplements or spending money on fancy cleanses.  Our bodies are pretty great at getting us where we should be and detoxing themselves, especially if we treat them right.  However this whole "herbal cleanse" is really about taking some fiber, probiotics, and eating clean. Getting a nice reason to force me to reset and focus on food after 2 weeks of Christmas cookies,booze and holiday parties seemed like a good idea.

The 10 Day Herbal Cleanse is the first 10 days of the 24 day challenge and 1 box includes 6 packets of fiber drink (I got peaches and cream flavor-I heard the citrus was awful), 7 packets of herbal cleanse fiber capsules, and 7 packets of probiotic restore capsules (product info here).     

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Optional or recommended Advocare products with the 10 day cleanse are Spark (energy drink), Catalyst (amino acid supplement), meal replacement shakes, and OmegaPlex vitamins.  The products are pricey to me. I checked out the ingredient lists of the products which were pretty basic and figured I have plenty of amino acid supplements and protein powders lying around to use already. I take fish oil and omegas already too so I wasn't buying the OmegaPlex either. 

January 22, 2015

My Rockstar Spring Half Marathon 12-Week Training Plan {and other Thursday Thoughts}

I love Amanda's Thinking Out Loud Thursdays linkup because it's a place for me to dump some thoughts and share some random tidbits from my life. I hope you like my rambles and that it's not boring or annoying!

1. I'm never going to be a good little blogger that has all her posts done the night before and scheduled to publish in the early morning. Most of mine of half done and finished in the morning or typed up write before lunch. I work full-time so this is as good as it's going to get. Unless I win the lottery of life and can gallivant around all day not having to work and just being able to run, eat, and hang in my sweatpants. A girl can dream, right?
I also have a laundry lists of blog posts I need to write and race recaps from last year-whoops.   

2. Our November Project buffs that some of us ordered finally came into yesterday and now I can look like a ninja when I'm running around Baltimore in the cold.  A November Project member designed them, and it's the best $10 I've spent in a while.  They are lightweight,  UV-resistant, and can be worn a bunch of different ways!

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3. Is it just me, or does anybody just need to cry when they are stressed out and anxious? Yep, work + life + never enough hours in the day led to a mini post-work break-down last night. In case you didn't know, breathe deeply and smile is an actual mantra that I use in my life. 

4. I really need more than 24 hours in a day if I'm supposed to work and do chores and finish anything on my to-do list.  I sat down after work, class, dinner,and cleaning up last night to find it was already 10 PM. I should have gone to bed but I needed an hour of Netflix to decompress #nightowlproblems. 

5. I know we're only halfway through winter, but I'm already excited for spring. March doesn't feel that far away anymore. One big snowstorm that gets me a full snow day would be nice, but other than that I'm over cold wind and layering up to go outside.

6. I fully approve a bottle of red wine being on this Lululemon destination half marathon packing list. I also approve the choice of Apothic Red wine because it's tasty and affordable. Bravo.  
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7. I bought this Chobani green tea blended yogurt a couple weeks ago after getting excited when I saw a couple other people post about it. Sadly I was disappointed in the flavor. It was vanilla-y with a hint of green tea, not the green tea flavor bomb like I wanted. Boo.



8. So it's been hard for me to get into a schedule/ out of my running funk so I finally decided to type up a half marathon training plan schedule for myself. My target race is the Philly Love Run Half Marathon (recap from last year here) on March 29,2015.  
I hope I feel like a rockstar at the end of the race!

I may still sign up for the Rock and Roll DC Half Marathon 2 weeks before and just count that as my long run.  

I keep my training plans flexible and switch workouts/rest days around to fit my schedule. Sometimes that means switching my long run to Sunday, especially with winter weather wreaking havoc some days.Wednesday is a cross training day because I go to November Project in the morning, but that always involves some running too. I may decide to make a couple of my long runs longer too depending on future race plans, but I like at least having some sort of structure to follow. 

 It's an intermediate half marathon training plan with some cross-training, so if you were interested in a 12 week schedule feel free to save away!

Note: I am not a running coach or professional, this is just a plan I put together from looking at other plans and my own experience.  Always consult a professional before starting a new training regimen! 

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Save, share, and pin me!
Be sure to enter my iHerb $50 shopping spree giveaway and the UD Kitchen Ultimate Fitness giveaway! 


What's something you always pack for a destination race? Do you like following a scheduled training plan? 

January 20, 2015

Undiscovered Kitchen Ultimate Fitness Giveaway

I'm really excited to announce that I am collaborating with Undiscovered Kitchen for the second time to spread the word about their New Year New You! Ultimate Fitness Giveaway. Undiscovered Kitchen is an awesome digital market for artisan and handcrafted foods.  I had such a great time working with them on the SUPERFOODie Giveaway campaign, and I love the message of this positive campaign even more. 

Undiscovered Kitchen wants to give you a chance to get a jump on your 2015 goals by entering to win $500 worth of fresh fitness gear from ActivewearUSA and $150 worth of energy packed fitness foods made by artisans around the country!.

I love that the focus of the campaign is encouraging others to take a positive step in 2015 and gain a healthy mind, body, and spirit through healthy living. We're a few weeks into the year so if you have started on those goals, here is some motivation! 

You can enter for a chance to win prizes including a $500 ActivewearUSA fitness gear makeover, Cognitea ,Enerchi Bites ,Perfect Fuel Chocolate,ProCakes Protein Pancake & Baking MixSimple Squares BarsSprout Nourishment Carob & Pomegranate Energy Squares & Plant Power Bars, and TastyMakes.


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Click on the image above to enter!

You can read my interview and hear more about me such as my favorite recipes, why I blog, how I stay motivated, and my favorite small batch companies.

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Check out a sneak peak of some of my answers below. 
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January 16, 2015

iHerb.com Review & $50 Giveaway

Disclosure: I was given the opportunity to receive free product from iHerb.com to review my experience. iHerb.com is sponsoring the 2 shopping spree giveaways. No other compensation was received.  As always all opinions and thoughts are my own!

I was contacted a few months ago by the awesome people at iHerb about trying their products and offering to giveaway two $50 shopping sprees for my readers.  I immediately said yes because iHerb is a site I already use and love!

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iHerb is one of the world's largest online stores for natural health products. Their website says their products are typically 30-40% less than other health stores and that everything is fresh due to a high product turnover rate. Ordering from the site is really easy and secure, and I've never had a problem with any of my orders. 

With the seeming explosion of health products on the market and in recipes, many stores now carry more organic and natural options.  However, many times because the inventory is small I find that the prices of the natural products I love are so high in local grocery stores or health food markets.  I've been using iHerb to buy things I use on a regular basis like Bragg's Liquid Aminos, coconut oil, and supplements because I usually find it's cheaper online at iHerb.  

Some of the brands I love to order from iHerb include Quest Nutrition, NOW Foods, Bragg, and Bob's Red Mill. iHerb carries herbs, supplements, grocery items, beauty and skincare products, sports nutrition products, baby products, and even pet products.  They even carry some of my favorite products like Quest Bars, Nuun, Alter Ego chocolate, and Justin's Nut Butters. 

Here's some photos of my latest haul thanks to the people at iHerb.  


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I picked up some essentials like apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, tea, and dark chocolate. I tried that yummy Parmesan Rosemary Quinn popcorn for the first time and it's SO delicious-I'm definitely ordering that again! 

I also ordered some non-food products like Method natural all-purpose cleaner, supplements,  jojoba oil, and an e.l.f. makeup eyebrow pencil.  

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I love shopping at iHerb not only because of the great selection, but because of the fast shipping! The  last time I ordered, I literally got a shipping confirmation later that day. My order arrived in two days, well-packaged and everything accounted for. They also offer FREE 1-5 day shipping for U.S. customers on orders of $20 or more every day! Free shipping makes online shopping savings count for me.  

Lucky for you, iHerb has offered me the chance to giveaway not one but TWO $50 shopping sprees at iHerb.com! It's a great chance for you to stock up on all of your favorite products.  

All you have to do to enter is use the Rafflecopter widget below before 1/30/2015, 12:00 AM EST.  

This is open to all readers, US and international!

Giveaway Guidelines
  • Winners must register to iHerb.com to claim their prize.
  • Shipping is free and the giveaway is open to US and non-US residents. (Specifically for winners out of the US, they are responsible for any additional taxes/duties/brokerage fees levied to them by their Customs Agency and/or Postal Service.)
  • If you are an international reader, please check to see that iHerb ships to your country by looking here
a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you want to order something now or in the future, first time customers can also use my discount code below to save $10 on your first order!   

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Where do you buy natural or health food products? What would you order from iHerb.com?

January 13, 2015

Bangin' Good Shrimp {from The Skinnytaste Cookbook}

One of my goals for 2015 (a repeat from 2014-whoops) is to take the time each month to try one more-involved recipe from a cookbook I have. I always have big ideas of trying lots of fun recipes and have a nice collection of cookbooks but frankly, dinner ends up being something easy or a quick idea I find on Pinterest.  It's a waste to have all those beautiful cookbooks collecting dust on my shelf so I am determined to crack them open each month. 

To hold myself accountable I'll be documenting a new recipe from a cookbook each month that I've tried and love.  I mean, I wouldn't want to share a recipe that was awful with you all. 

For Christmas I received The Skinnytaste Cookbook (see here to buy!) which I had been itching to get my hands on.  As I quickly flipped through the cookbook last weekend I was immediately interested in some of the easy and yummy-looking seafood recipes since I sadly do not buy seafood often. I decided to go with a recipe for Bangin' Good Shrimp which is inspired by the delicious Bang Bang Shrimp from Bonefish Grill.  Bang Bang Shrimp are deep fried and covered in a delicious sauce, so this Skinnytaste version is much healthier but just as flavorful!

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The recipe called for making a salad to serve the shrimp over, but I ended up serving the shrimp over quinoa and having a salad on the side. I put the original recipe with the salad directions below anyways!

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Bangin' Good Shrimp 

(from The Skinnytaste Cookbook)

Ingredients

5 tablespoons light mayonnaise
3 tablespoons thai sweet chili sauce
1-2 teaspoons Sriracha sauce, or to taste
1 pound shelled and deveined large shrimp
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon canola oil

January 12, 2015

#NoExcuses Challenge MadLibs with Sweat Pink

Sweat Pink put out this super fun Mad Lib (remember those?) to kick off their #NoExcuse Challenge so of course I'm participating!  

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Hey 2015, it’s me, Lauren from Breathe Deeply and Smile
This year I would like to sleep more_simplify my life_, and qualify for the Boston Marathon!.
It would also be super duper awesome if I also did ____spent less time on the interwebs/phone_____ this year. It’s not a resolution, though, just a reminder to myself to try and have the best year yet because life is meant to be lived in the here and now.
The thing I am looking forward to most this year is doing things that make me happy like travelling and cooking!
I’ll use the one thing that truly gets me out of bed in the morning which is_coffee and my 10 alarms to help me get up, get running, (verb) and get after my #NoExcuses 2015.Speaking of excuses (ahem), my very favorite excuse is not wanting to go out in the cold and I have used it to get out of doing exercise and putting actual pants on on more than 100 (number) occasions.I vow to move my body and be more healthy this year even if it means I have to get dressed for the cold and wake up early. 

January 8, 2015

Thursday Thoughts 1/8/15

I have lots of random thoughts floating around so joining Amanda's Thinking Out Loud linkup sounded perfect. 

1. Obligatory comment about the cold and how it's awful it is.

2. What is not awful is your boyfriend convincing you to go to Dooby's in Baltimore for dinner since your apartment is freezing, and there's snow on the ground after the city's first substantial amount of snow on Tuesday. I am convinced that ramen (or pho!) is the best meal to cure the winter blues, especially when it's Ramen night at Dooby's and a free draft is thrown in the mix. 

I devoured all of this leek and mushroom ramen and drank all the warm miso broth-it's good for the soul. 

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3.. Yesterday was a fabulously freezing November Project  workout with snow and ice still all over Baltimore.  When you get up at 6 AM to run down to the Inner Harbor to get your fitness on outside with a bunch of other people and have lots of fun doing it, you know you are officially crazy and hardcore.  I, however, seriously couldn't feel my fingers on my run back to my apartment and it took me a while to thaw out. 

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#weatherproof #justshowup 
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Yes, NP_BAL snow angels happened. 
Any coffee and hot chocolate vendors want to sponsor NP-Baltimore for the season? Anyone?  Bueller?

January 6, 2015

3 Swag-filled Spring Half Marathons You Should Run with Me

It's a new year and while I'm a little late on planning my spring race schedule, I do have 3 half marathons set in stone so I better get running! These three half marathons also have awesome swag and medals so you should totally join me in running them if you are looking  for some fun east-coast races to motivate you through the winter. 

Last year I ran the inaugural Philadelphia Love Run and while the race was lovely the pouring rain weather was not (you can read last year's race recap here).  I'm determined to have a less miserable day to conquer this half marathon so I'm running it again this year on March 29,2015.  

The perks sound even better this year with a free Phillies baseball home game ticket (first 10,000 runners), commemorative mug, spinner finisher medal, and vanity bib. 



Last year's medal was almost the size of my face, and I still managed to give a thumbs up at the finish line despite the conditions. The course reminded me of the Philadelphia Half Marathon course with an Art Museum start and running along the river.  

Register here  ($92 through 1/31/15) for a great early spring half marathon in the City of Brotherly Love! 


Secondly, I'm proud to be an ambassador for the ZOOMA Annapolis Race Series on May 30,2015 in Annapolis, MD. 

I'll be talking more about the race series, but in short, it's a women's race series event (men can run if they choose) with a half marathon and 10K around beautiful, seaside Annapolis.  



Since it's all about the swag, this race's bag includes a women's tech tee, pair of Feetures! performance socks, ZOOMA journal, reusable bag, and awesome medal. 


The charm at the bottom is removable and can be added to a necklace or bracelet! 
Pair this fun race with the awesome after-party and it makes for a great girls weekend! The 10K gets a slightly smaller medal, but all the same swag and fun so it's a great event if you aren't up to training for the full 13.1 miles yet as well.  

Register here (Half-$105, 10K-$75) and use my ambassador discount code LAUREN15 to save 10% off your registration!


Pay attention to this third race because I'm really excited about this one.
The ODDyssey Half Marathon in Philadelphia has been on my radar for a while but totally became a must-race after it made Runner's World list of coolest medals in 2014.  They just revealed the 2015 medal, and it doesn't disappoint! It mounts to the wall, opens a beer, and the ribbon can be used as a lanyard!  


January 2, 2015

Goals for 2015 {and looking back at 2014 in photos}

I had goals for 2014, and didn't complete all of them. I find it not to be a failure, as it's always nice to strive for big goals, things change, and reflection & inspiration isn't wasted.  I did get to live more in the present, be bold, and travel more in 2014. I also definitely ate more greens and got a shiny new marathon PR in Chicago.  

2014 was a great year full of many wonderful memories. My first relay race, travelling literally across the country for Hood to Coast with Nuun, applying to graduate school, growing my blog, running the Chicago Marathon, taking a trip to Boston, seeing multiple friends get married, having the confidence to apply for opportunities (with most of them panning out!), and taking a little bit more charge in my own life. 


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post-Hood to Coast party with Team Nuun Lemon-Lime

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wedding fun
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November Project Baltimore Positivity Award
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NECDC Relay Fun with NP-Baltimore ladies

 
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