A Balanced Summer

Good Morning! I hope you guys are making the most of your summer! We sure have! We are up to our eyeballs in home improvements! It has been so much fun, but my goodness! I had NO idea what was going to happen.  When we looked at this house, it was amazing and we saw a couple of things that we wanted to do to make it “ours” but nothing that would be time-consuming right away, right? WRONG! Just basic decorations (curtains, blinds, etc) has been incredibly time-consuming but on top of that, stuff in the yard ( I HATE bushes and there are tons!!), painting the outside, renovating porch furniture (my grandpa’s antique rocker and my father in laws bench rocker) and anything else that crosses my mind as it crosses my eyes has sucked up every single second of our time.  On top of that, the normal every day chores of working, cooking, cleaning, and it has been hard to find any balance for ourselves this summer.

Fortunately, I was introduced to an AMAZING snack bar a few weeks ago and I wanted to share my find.   I have always been very concerned about what kind of food I keep around here for my family.  When we made our transition into this home, I made a vow that a healthy, organic, non-gmo, as close to pescatarian as possible diet would be my top priority for us.  It is truly getting scary to consume anything outside of those parameters because you never know what is creeping in your food.

So. These bars. They are Balance Bare Bars. You can get them in mixed berry or sea salt and caramel. They are:

  • Gluten free
  • Soy free
  • Dairy free
  • Non-GMO
  • 4g protein
  • 3g fiber
  • Suitable for vegans

And even better? They are delicious.  This has become what I start my morning with along side a cup of coffee.

Balance Bare and Coffee

Balance Bare and Coffee

These are also perfect when you’ve been outside working in the yard and need a snack, but are too hot to eat.  I am ashamed to say, I didn’t exactly advertise that they were in the cabinet.  I also finished my last one this morning so I need to replenish my supply.

They are not pricey at all, either!

Balance bars at Wal Mart

Balance bars at Wal-Mart

Now, if you don’t have home improvements sucking your time like a Hoover vacuum cleaner and you need ideas for exercise and balance, head over here and see what Gabby Reese advises.  She definitely knows a bit about fitness and balance, yes?

Now, the fine folks at Balance Bare have offered a reader a $15 Wal-Mart Giftcard and some Balance Bare Bars to try for yourself! Leave a comment below and tell me what you’ve done to keep yourself balanced this summer. I will choose a winner Monday morning.

 

fine print: i was given walmart giftcards to purchase my own balance bare bars for review.  all opinions are my own.

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TOLT-Back to Normal?

Happiest of Thursdays to ya! This is going to be the ultimate brain dump post.  I am for real thinking out loud!

As I’ve said before, we have been in a time of transition since New Years.  Well, we finally moved into our new house! We are so excited to be here and so excited to not move for AT LEAST 30 years.  It is so amazing to me how we can ROCK a move half way across the country, but move us down the street or to the next county and it seems to be an eternal disaster! If I remember correctly, when we moved to Louisiana, we arrived Saturday afternoon, unloaded the U-Haul and by Monday morning, I was ready to hang pictures on the wall.  I save that for last because it is fun and unloading boxes is a chore.  That is just my way of thinking.  Anywho, we took possession of our home 2 weeks ago tomorrow and I STILL have stuff at my moms. And I’m not allowed to hang things on my walls yet because I still have boxes left.  Only about 4 but still… it is boxes sitting on the floor driving me nuts.  It also took me a week to get groceries up in here. For the first week, we had coffee. And leftover pizza in the fridge. It was a sad state of affairs.

While I do now have groceries (healthy, organic, vegetarian) it is still difficult to get back into the habit of running a home, ya know? I was SPOILED for 6 1/2 months! I also have been trying to get all of the extra stuff done so I only have normal cleaning/putzing to do so that has been taking up all of my extra time.  I am AMAZED at the amount of stuff there is to do!

Proud mama moment here.  Tonight, my non-veggie eating son texted me a picture of his salad.  How cool is that???

I had a most amazing trip to Denver in June where I flew for the first time ever. (I will be recapping this in the next few days) A few of us can’t wait a WHOLE year to meet up again so we have a weekend planned in VEGAS baby! January can’t get here soon enough! I am not disrespecting today, I’m just excited for that trip!

I had one major thought in my head when I began this, then went on a tangent about moving and now that thought is nowhere to be found.  That is what getting old will get you, friends!

As always, I’d love to thank the lovely Amanda for hosting today’s brain dump post! Hop on over there and see what is on everyone else’s mind!

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Tourist Tuesday: Run With No Regrets

Good morning! I have a guest post for you today! I am constantly looking for new and inspiring blogs to read, and I’m sure you are too! I have some oldy but goodies that I love reading daily, but I have some new ones that I’ve just become acquainted with.

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I am so excited to bring you a guest post from a new blog each week! Today’s submission is from a new-to-me blog, Run With No Regrets. Please visit and get to know her! You will be so grateful you did.

                                    How to Start Running – The Ultimate Guide

Hi, I’m Janelle and I blog at Run With No Regrets – a space for runners, fitness junkies and those committed to living a healthy life, all with a positive attitude!  I am so happy to be participating in Tourist Tuesday as a guest blogger for Denise!

If you’ve always wanted to give running a try but have found yourself too scared, overwhelmed, or simply too busy to commit, here’s your ultimate guide for how to get started and stick with it!

How to Start Running – The Ultimate Guide

Step 1 – Determine Your Goals

Why do you want to start running?  Are you looking to shed a few pounds? Do you want to share a healthy activity with family or friends?  Are you simply looking for a challenge and want to run a marathon?  It’s important to identify your goals so that you have a plan and direction for where you want to take this new running activity.  Goals should S.M.A.R.T.:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

For example, “In 4 months I want to run my first 10 mile race by training 3 days a week”.

Step 2 – Create a Schedule

Can I be honest?  I am a complete procrastinator!  I love running, but if I don’t put it in my schedule, there’s a good chance that I won’t do it!  And I’ve been running for years now!

If you’re like me, creating a running schedule could be the secret to your success.  Based on your goals, determine how much time you want to spend running.  Can you commit to 2 days a week?  Five days a week?  The more time you dedicate to running, the faster you’ll improve.

Do you like working out in the morning?  After work?  On weekends?  Be realistic and give yourself times to run that will be easy for you to follow through.  Don’t set yourself up to fail by scheduling an evening run on the busiest day of your week!   It’s all about balance.

Step 3 – Buy Your Running Shoes

It’s very important to make sure that when you start running you’re wearing the RIGHT shoes for your feet.  While you may have gotten away with grabbing a random cute pair of Nike’s from FootLocker, the best place to go is a local running specialty store.  Check out Yelp.com to find out what stores are near you and gets great reviews.

I’ve written a step-by-step process of how to buy running shoes, but here’s the lowdown:

 

  • Know your budget in advance.  Running shoes can be very expensive, sometimes up to $200!  Don’t let a salesperson push you into buying shoes that you cannot afford, and know that you don’t have to buy that same day!
  • Get fitted by a salesperson.  Answer their questions and let them watch you walk to determine the type of shoes you need.  Also make sure that you let them know your running goals, so that you have the right kind of shoes for the distances you plan to run.
  • Run around the store or on a treadmill before you buy!  Since they’re running shoes, you need to know how they feel when you actually run!  Many stores have treadmills that you can use to make that final decision.
  • Know that if you don’t like them after you buy them, you can take them back.  Most running stores will give you 30 days to return your shoes if they don’t work for you.  Don’t feel bad about it, just find another pair and go through the process again!

Step 4 – Go on Your First Run

Now that you’ve got your running shoes, lace them up and get ready to run!  You can decide whether you want to run by distance (say 1 mile) or by time (30 minutes).  The treadmill is a great way to get started with running because it does the thinking for you.  Start up with a 5 minute warmup walk, then gradually increase the pace until you’re running!  See how it feels and go as far as you can, then cool down for a few minutes back to a walking pace.  You can even start out with run/walk intervals if you find that more comfortable!  You want to be able to go at a pace where you can still talk easily.  If you find it hard to speak, you’re going too fast!  

Step 5 – Keep Running!

Running is all about patience and persistence.  If that first run was hard, don’t give up! You may have been going too fast, or you may not have been feeling your best.  Give it another try.  See if you can improve the way you ran, the way you breathe.  This is where you really become a runner!  Maybe try going for a run outdoors at a park or in your neighborhood.    Find music or a podcast to listen to that pushes you to go the distance. Tell your friends and family about your goals so that they can encourage you!  The hardest part about running is getting started.  If you can get to Step 5, you’ve really made it far…so keep going!

Step 6 – Sign Up for a Race

You’ve been running according to your schedule and after a few weeks or months you’re really starting to get into this running thing!  So why not take the leap and sign up for your first race?  You can start with a 5K fun run or even prepare yourself for a marathon!  It’s up to you and those goals you gave yourself back in Step 1!  Look online to see what upcoming races are in your area and take the plunge!  Active.com is a great resource! And maybe you can encourage others to join you!

Step 7 – Follow a Training Program

In order to be successful for your race, you’ve got to have a plan.  There are so many training plans available for first time runners.  Here are some resources that are highly recommended:

 

Take a look and see what works for you.  Then all you have to do is follow the plan and get ready to race!

Step 8 – Write It All Down!

When you’re training, it’s so important to keep track of your runs and to monitor your progress.  You can easily grab a pen and pad and keep a training notebook, or you can check out one of the many apps available on Android or iPhone:

 

You can also invest in a running watch to track your paces and distances.  Note that these can get pricey, so if you’re not ready to commit, it may be best to stick to using an app on your phone!  Here are some brands of GPS running watches that may be worth a try:

 

Step 9 – Run Your Race

You’ve trained for the race, you’ve tracked your progress…time to run!  Do your best and be proud, no matter what your finish time is!  My biggest piece of advice for running a race is to never start out too fast!  Remember that you’ve trained and that you’re ready!  Depending on the race, feel the pride of receiving that race medal!

Step 10 – Keep It Up, You’re a Runner Now!

You did it, you’re officially a runner now…congratulations!  Hopefully you’ve made it to this point and you’ve fallen in love with running!  Now it’s time to keep it going, this is just the beginning of your running journey!

Running is such a rewarding activity and takes a lot of hard work, dedication and patience.  Hopefully this guide gives you everything you need to know for how to get started running.  There will be times where you have a bad run, where you will get discouraged, and if you’re not careful, you could get hurt.  But as you embark on this journey, you’ll learn a lot about your body and yourself!  I hope you give running a try!  Let me know if you have any questions!

If you are interested in learning more about the joys and trials of being a runner, I’d love if you check me out at Run With No Regrets.   I share tips on race training, injury prevention, healthy eating, and lessons learned with new fitness challenges.  You can sign up for my newsletter, or find me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter!

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TOLT

Good day, good buddy! Happy Thursdays, my favorite day of the week! I am so excited to be linking it with Amanda today for Thinking Out Loud.  I have so much on my brain that I just need to do a good old fashioned brain dump and clear it out!

Let’s begin with one week from today.  I’ll hop aboard my first ever aircraft bound for the Mile High City.  And I’m scared of heights.  Go figure.  But it is worth it because I’m going to: 11220815_10152766557026456_2980447535935244191_n  Oh yes! This is my favorite thing to do ever! It is where health/fitness enthusiasts invade a city and talk, eat, exercise, sight see, laugh, cry, hug and just overall love on each other! We gain encouragement, uplift and empower each other.  It is really an amazing sight to behold! It is not too late if you want to join us! There are sessions on blogging but you do NOT need to be a blogger to attend! Wanna go? Click here! (<<< referral link) There are also still rooms available and I believe there are people still looking for roommates!

Next, let’s talk about TapInfluence.  I have not yet had luck with it, but I am very positive that I will as soon as I fit into a need! How it works is, you take surveys to determine how you will work out for campaigns.  Would you like to give it a try?  If so, click here. (<<< referral link)

Let’s talk about the news.  I hate the news.  I don’t watch it.  It is depressing and makes me want to poke my eye out with an icepick.  OK.  Maybe that is a bit dramatic, but you get the picture, right? Well, I have always depended on facebook as my news source.  Because the book of face is reliable, right? You can quit laughing now.  I was always missing out on something very important! And then? I found The Skimm! It is a newsletter that is delivered to your inbox every morning. It begins with a quote. It breaks down today’s relevant news stories and quick, precise blurbs.  I can learn what I need to know without going into a fit of depression and still stay up to date on what is going on in the world! It is perfect.  Want to give it a try? Click here. (<<< referral link)

I have a lot more on my brain, but nothing I can put into words at the moment.  I am excited and anxiously awaiting the next few weeks for my little family! Let me just say: SQUEEE!!

What are you looking forward to?

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Tourist Tuesday: Pittsburgh City Girl

Good morning! I have a guest post for you today! I am constantly looking for new and inspiring blogs to read, and I’m sure you are too! I have some oldy but goodies that I love reading daily, but I have some new ones that I’ve just become acquainted with.

Tourist Tuesday •

I am so excited to bring you a guest post from a new blog each week! Today’s submission is from a new-to-me blog, Pittsburgh City Girl.  I can not WAIT to read about her upcoming adventures in Alaska! She is going to run a 1/2 marathon there and has some really exciting things planned.  Please visit her and keep up! You will be so grateful you did. 

Here is a taste of what she has to offer:

Hi there, everyone! I am Chelsea from Pittsburgh City Girl and I am thankful to be one of Denise’s Guest blogger for her Tuesday series. 

Today I am going to talk to you about racecations. A racecation is pretty much my most favorite type of vacation. I am a big traveler and when I can throw in a race, I am all for that. Currently, I am on a quest to finish a half marathon in all 50 states + DC. I figured this is a great way to keep running fun, stay in shape and get to see some states that I normally wouldn’t visit. I am currently 7 states in + DC. 

Sure, I have a long ways to go, but I think that is the fun of this challenge. I have no date that I want to finish by, but if I can do by the year 2020, that would be awesome. The likelihood will all depend on life (who knows what will happen in the next few years) and expenses. I have most of the states within driving distance done (6 or less hours) completed, so now it’s all up to getting on the plane. However, whether it’s a racecation that is just a 2-hour car ride away of ra 5 hour plane ride away, here are some of my tips to help make it the best racecation. 

Here are my 5 tips for having a successful and fun racecation. 

1- The first thing I do when I start looking at a race is book a hotel close to the start/finish line. I travel a lot for work, so I have great status with the IHG brand hotels, so that is what I always look for. The great thing about this and with many hotels, is that you can reserve the room without a charge and then cancel at no fee if you end up not going to the race or even find a cheaper/closer hotel. 

I like to find a hotel that is close to the start and finish line if possible, but if it’s not I choose one close to the finish line. I’d rather walk a little more to the start as a warm up and then get back to the hotel as quick as possible after the race. If you aren’t already loyal to a brand, pick one and then you can start getting points and then use them for more races! 

2- Racecations are always better with friends! The minute you figure out your destination race, start recruiting friends to go with you. I’ve done some racecations alone and some with friends and let me say, it’s always better with my friends. Sometimes it’s harder to plan logistics when more are involved, but it’s a great time to spend with friends and share a great moment with them. 

3- Once you book your flights or figure out your travel, start thinking about what you will do when you aren’t racing. Let’s think about for a second. Your race will probably only take 4-5 hours of a weekend day. I forget to do this a lot and then I find myself wandering around or wasting time trying to figure out what to do. By spending a few hours planning and coming up with ideas prior to your trip, you’ll be able to have a fun filled weekend jammed packed with things to do. 

4- When you are looking at fun things to do, go ahead and pick up some new restaurants and maybe new foods to try. However, save those for after the race. It’s a great way to celebrate your successes from the race and you don’t want trying a new food to make for one bad race!

5-  If you have to fly to your destination race and you have to check a bag, make sure you still take a carry on with your race essentials. I always pack my race outfit and shoes as no matter what, that’s truly all I need. I have heard too many horror stories where luggage is lost and because everything was checked, runners don’t have anything to race in. This is really important in winter as you never know where your luggage might end up and you might end up if winter storms hit. Just play it safe and take a carry on with the essentials. 

Hopefully my tips will help you have fun racecation! No matter what though, just make sure you have fun as that is what’s it really all about. Good luck in finding your next racecation.

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Tourist Tuesday: Sinful Nutrition

I am SOO excited to bring this series! I am constantly looking for new and inspiring blogs to read, and I’m sure you are too! I have some oldy but goodies that I love reading daily, but I have some new ones that I’ve just become acquainted with.

I am so excited to bring you a guest post from a new blog each week!

Tourist Tuesday •

This weeks guest is Emily of Sinful Nutrition fame. Emily is a fellow Health Living Blogs Ambassador and I am so excited for you to love her as much as I do! She is a wealth of knowledge and there is a list a mile long of her recipes I’m dying to try

Without further ado:

Hey there!

First off, thanks to Denise for sharing her blog space with me today! And thanks to YOU for sticking around and letting me chat about none other than my favorite topic: FOOD.

Specifically food waste.  I don’t know how many times I’ve scrapped half a bag of baby spinach I couldn’t finish before it went bad, or counted endless tupperware containers with unknown leftovers in the fridge. Especially when you normally cook for one, leftovers and wilty vegetables pile up fast.

Being the frugal gal I am, I HATE seeing food go to waste. No onion peel or broccoli stalk goes unused in my kitchen. So I’m here to share some of my favorite and easy tips to help reduce food waste, and keep the cash out of the trash! (now I’m sounding like an oxyclean commercial)

Make Homemade Veggie Stock

Okay, this is probably my favorite tip of all, so I guess I should have saved it for last. Too late now! It always takes me 27 years to locate one measly can of vegetable stock in the grocery store, which is always loaded with MSG, sodium, and other additives that just shouldn’t be in vegetable stock. So I make my own!

Not only is it one of the easiest things to make, but also the cheapest. AKA practically free. Free = me. Just save every vegetable scrap you encounter (onion peels, garlic skins, carrot peels, celery tops, etc), store it in a gallon freezer bag, store it in the freezer until it’s full, then add them to a slow cooker, cover them with water, and watch veggie stock appear before your eyes! You can find a more detailed recipe over on my blog page.

Freeze Leftovers

Sometimes…okay most times it’s near physically impossible to eat leftovers every single day of the week without hating life. This is where a freezer becomes a single gals new best friend.. when wine and peanut butter are out of town. After you’ve made a giant pot of soup with your free veggie stock, or made a meal fit for the Brady bunch you can either be destined to be eating pea soup and lasagna for every meal, every day of the week, or you can freeze it!

I like to save half of the servings in the fridge to enjoy throughout the week, and store the other half in the freezer. This way it doesn’t go bad, and I can easily pull out a home-cooked meal from the freezer that’s ready in minutes. I love to store soup in re-purposed glass peanut butter jars so they are already in single-serve sizes ready to go for a quick lunch.

Makeover a Meal

Maybe you’re the one and done type when it comes to dinner. Like, the thought of leftovers is just cray-cray. Instead of leaving them in the land of misfit tupperware, give leftovers a new life with a makeover! You can transform just about any kind of leftover into a brand spankin’ new meal. Some of my favorites are:

-Leftover rice/quinoa into a stir fry

-Shredding baked chicken breast for quesadillas

-Roasted vegetables into a wrap or soup

Write It Out

Instead of giving everything the old sniff test to see if it’s good or not, a better idea is to write it all out. You can do this in two different ways:

 Write what leftovers/ foods to use up on a dry-erase board and hang on the fridge or in the kitchen. Include when the date you made the meal on.

 Use erasable markers or sticky notes and post right on containers. Write what meal is and when you made it. Leftovers should be eaten within 3-4 days after they’ve been cooked.

Make Compost

Last but not least, you can always make compost. Not only will you save scraps from going in the trash, but you’ll also be feeding your lawn or garden loads of nutrients. You can compost mostly everything that is not meat or dairy. Egg shells, tea bags, coffee grounds, vegetable scraps, even dryer lint! Even if you don’t have a garden yourself, I’m sure you know someone who could put all that healthy soil to good use.

I hope you save some cash and lost leftover souls, and never meet a food scrap you couldn’t handle!  Be sure to hop on over to Sinful Nutrition and say hi!

What’s your favorite tip to reduce food waste?

Leftovers: Love ’em or hate ’em?

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Tourist Tuesday

I am SOO excited to start this new series! I am constantly looking for new and inspiring blogs to read, and I’m sure you are too! I have some oldy but goodies that I love reading daily, but I have some new ones that I’ve just become acquainted with.

I am so excited to bring you a guest post from a new blog each week!

Tourist-Tuesday-.png

To jump start the series, I bring you Rhonda from Keep Running Rhonda. Her blog is new to me and after the first few moments reading, I am addicted! She is such and inspiration!

Without further ado:

The Sturggle is Real

Hello Everyone! My name is Rhonda and I write Keep Running Rhonda. Denise invited me to guest blogand after a little discussion I thought I would give it a shot. I was actually inspired by Denise to write this post about struggle.

To give you a little background about myself I have always been overweight. Through grade school, high school, college and beyond I was the chubbier one although I was always active. It wasn’t until about a year and a half ago that I decided to make a change. I was Skyping with my friend Emily and somehow we started talking about the Princess Half Marathon at Walt Disney World which is an annual event in Florida each February. She said we should do it and first I thought she was joking. About a month after we talked she asked how my training was going. It was in that moment that I figured out she was serious. I did complete the Princess Half Marathon and several other races. I am currently training for my next 2 half marathons which will take place in the next month.

When I started out people keep telling me it would get easier. That the more I ran, worked out, or whatever else I would do that it would get better. Yet I still don’t feel that way.

I have been running now for about a year. In that time I have done several different races of various distances and in different conditions from snow to sun and yet I don’t feel it gets easier. I am currently training for a half marathon and this past weekend was my last long run. I was running with a friend of mine and I told her towards the end how tired I am and how much I almost don’t want to run anymore. Not just hat day but in general. Running is tiring and it takes up a lot of time. A good long run takes up about half my day. The other half of my day is spent recovering from the first half.

Running doesn’t seem to get easier. Lifting weights doesn’t seem to get easier. Cardio, in whatever form, doesn’t seem to get easier. You would think that after a year it would.

I started thinking why does it never get easier? Why can’t I wake up and get in my long run and be ok? Why isn’t that losing weight and getting fit gets better? But then again why would you want it to?

There will always be a struggle to do whatever you want to do to improve your life, but isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be. If you don’t struggle then nothing changes. If you don’t struggle you are not pushing yourself past your previous limit. And if it ever does get to easy you need to take it up to the next limit.

I started taking Crossfit classes twice a week about 2 months ago. One of our exercises we do I needed to modify. This past week we did the same exercise, I was still modifying and my coach mentioned that next week I should start doing the actually movement and not modified. He said that the movement was getting to easy for me and I needed to move up to the next level. I am excited that I’m getting better and stronger yet I am nervous. I know doing the actually exercise will be hard but if I stay at the same spot I won’t improve.

Struggles are not something to run away from, they are something you should embrace. They should be something you run to. When you struggle you are making a change and when you make change you are getting stronger.

Keep Running,

Rhonda

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