Wednesday, October 30, 2013

What's it like to be a personal trainer?

People always ask me what it's like to be a personal trainer. They imagine it to be fun, cool and exciting...quite unlike your typical 8AM-5PM desk job. And it is all of the above at times, but like those 8AM-5PM desk jobs, this job comes with it's fair share of downfalls, too. I'm of the mindset that perfect jobs don't exist, but I do believe that really great jobs are out there...but the definition of "really great" is written differently for each and every one of us. So what might work for me, might NOT work for you.

I digress.

So what's it like to be a personal trainer? First and foremost, it depends on where you work. Workplace environment feeds into one's perception of their job, and I'm lucky enough to work for a gym that's fun, flexible and full of variety. Speaking of fun and flexible, personal trainers can often find this in their jobs, making them ideal for people who can't confine themselves to the desk from 8AM-5PM. That's also why personal training works great as a side job meant to indulge a personal passion. You can often work as often or as little as you wish (depending on the gym, of course).

But that's all rulebook stuff. When you're a personal trainer, your work is truly fulfilling. It's not the dollars in your paycheck that make it worth it, although those are important. It's the smiles on the faces of your clients when they reach a new goal, or the friendly conversations you have about health and fitness with other gym members. These people truly trust in your ability, and as a personal trainer with education and certification under your belt, you are certainly filled with the ability to make a difference in someone's life.

That, to me, is what it's like to be a personal trainer.

Still, I thought it would be fun to outline my day for you.

Note: I'm not just a personal trainer. I teach group fitness and actually run the fitness department, too. So I wear a lot of hats. And although I'm solidly scheduled at the gym from 8:30-11:30AM every day, I am often at work outside of those hours. Sometimes for early morning clients or classes, sometimes for evening classes, clients or office hours.

Take a look at my Tuesday:

1) No early morning clients for me on Tuesdays, but I do have to be at the gym by 8:30AM to set up for an 8:45AM Spinning class. This means I wake up around 7:00AM to get myself and the girl dressed and out the door in time. Class is only 45 minutes, and yesterday's was a series of speedy intervals that certainly challenged our ability to raise and lower our heart rates. Post class:

 2) I have about 30 minutes in between my Spinning and Kettlebells class. Sometimes I use this time to catch up on emails, or address any notes in my mailbox. Sometimes I just chat with members. Yesterday, I took the time to plan out (and fuel up for) my Kettlebells class.

3) Kettlebells is only a 30-minute class, and I rush to a management meeting afterwards. I mean, how nice is it that I get to attend management meetings in a sweaty state of affairs? No heels and suits for this girl, definitely one huge plus of the job—total lack of pressure to make oneself up for the day.

4) After the meeting, it's usually time to get the girl (and myself) home for some lunch. She typically watches a bit of Dora while I prep the food. I'm pretty ravenous by this time, so it takes all of me to NOT eat the entire kitchen while I make a sandwich.

5) By 12:30PM, my girl is usually down for a nap that typically lasts until 3:30-4:00PM. And so this is when I rush around the house like a madwoman. On Tuesdays, I always shower first because...see above. Then I check the laundry, write a post, clean a room, do the dishes...whatever needs to be done. And sometimes, if I'm really luck, I'll get a nice delivery from the man in brown. Yesterday, it was this:

6) On Tuesdays, I go back to the gym when Hannah wakes up for a nap. The nursery opens up around 4:30, but I have an office which is now filled with a few toys from home, so my girl just plays while I get some paperwork and client/class prep done. But last night, I had an equipment orientation which took up most of my time. And Hannah stayed home with her Daddy, who came home early from work to play with her.

7) And so once I get home, it's a shuffle of dinner and playtime and whatevertime. I shoot to be in bed by 9:30PM, which really just means "reading in bed" or "iPhone-ing in bed" until I force the lights out at 10:30. Why? Because the next day starts it all over again, but at 6:00AM with a client.

While this is a very standard Tuesday, things often change and if you're going to be a personal trainer, you have to be okay with the occasional schedule changes. Clients get sick, new members need equipment orientations, instructors need subs...It's kind of an around-the-clock thing, especially if you're in a position of management. But that around-the-clock factor is often yours to control. Flexibility can be huge in this industry (literally and figuratively).

BUT: It's all great fun, it really is. Sure, stressful at times. But when you're doing something you love, it's hard to linger on that stress.

If you're thinking about becoming a pro in the fitness industry, I'd be happy to shed some light on any questions you might have. Send 'em to me at tara (at) adailydoseoffit (dot) com. You can also follow me on Instagram and Twitter for more behind-the-scenes stuff.

Clearly I love talking about this!

Question: Are you a personal trainer? What's it like for you?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Do you have a cheat day?

Remember me?

No, I won't apologize for not posting. I was sick. Like, snot running down my nose sick. It hasn't been fun and it was all I could do to just get through life, let alone blog about it. You understand.

Question: Do allow yourself a cheat day?

Like, a day where you get to eat anything? I don't. I kind of don't believe in them. Maybe it's because I love cookies too much. Or maybe it's because I feel like the healthy balance approach is where it's at. If you want a cookie, you should be able to eat a cookie without the guilt. BUT—I mean, that doesn't give you permission to eat TEN cookies. This is where balance comes into play, right? Here, further thoughts on the subject:

Please remember that I am not a registered dietician, and I absolutely respect your individual needs and approaches when it comes to your diet, but this is how I feel about cheat days. If you're currently weighing out the pros and cons yourself, maybe these thoughts will help!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have this to dive into:

Love me a good mail day.

Question: How do you feel about cheat days? Do you practice them? Why or why not? Tell me! I'm curious.

Monday, October 21, 2013

30-Minute Total Body Workout

Friends, just popping in today with a great total-body workout. We did a version of this in my 6:00AM Circuit Sculpt this morning and I think we all felt it, but I've pared it down for you because...well, who doesn't love a quick workout? Don't fret: By "paired down," I simply mean that I've condensed it into a 30-minute format. It's still the same, great workout done just a bit more efficiently (and perhaps faster).

You'll need weights suitable for biceps curls and bent rows. And if you're working on a hard floor, you might want a mat of sorts. You'll also want a clock or timer nearby as this workout is based on time instead of repetitions.

Why take this approach? It gives you wiggle room to really push yourself for 20 minutes straight, sandwiched in between a warm-up and cool-down. There's nothing wrong with working by repetition, and you absolutely can tweak this workout to take that approach, but I challenge you to work by time and count your repetitions. You might find yourself capable of going beyond the typical 12- or 15-rep approach.

As always, be sure to check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise programs. And please, work at your level. Safety first, friends! If you need any modifications, feel free to send an email to tara (at) adailydoseoffit (dot) com.

Coupla notes:

Wide Squats with Biceps Curls: Squat down with your arms extended down, and as you stand back up, perform the biceps curl.

Weighted Triceps Dips: Place the weight of your choice in your lap, parallel with your legs, and perform standard triceps dips. If the weight is too much for you, dip without it.

Single-Leg Abductions to the Side: Shift your weight to your left leg and extend your right leg out to the side. Without leaning further to the left, lift and lower your leg to a height that works for you. Keep your toes pointing forward. Switch and repeat.

Question: Do you prefer quick/fast/short workouts, or would you rather take your time with each individual exercise?

Friday, October 18, 2013

5 Questions To Ask Your Doctor About Heart Disease (#infographic)

You guys should see my inbox right now. It's a pile of Old Navy deals, notes from friends and employees, and random blogger opportunities. Translation: It's a hot mess. This sounds familiar, I'm sure. So I set out to clean it out this afternoon. And I found an email with this gem of an infographic:

No matter how many hours of cardio you catch at the gym, you still need to talk to your doctor about the state of your ticker. Heart disease is a very real thing. Keep your risk low! I know I'll be keeping this in my back pocket until my next physical.

Question: How much cardio do you get in each week, and what's your favorite way to get it?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

How to Study for a Personal Trainer Exam

So I passed. I can now call myself an ACE-Certified Personal Trainer. Man, it feels good—TO NOT BE STUDYING. Geeze. Six months, people. That's how long it took me. But you know what, I think it was the perfect amount of time. Because, and I'm just being honest here, there's a lot to learn. Case and point:

I think that stack of cards is bigger than the first stack I had when I studied for my NATE exam back in 2011. Needless to say, I will not be sad to see them go. I won't be sad to see any of my study materials go...well, okay. I'm keeping the official ACE books. But everything else is already in the recycling bin, gone and totally forgotten. I hope I don't ever have to study for something that big again. (Well, at least not for a very long time. Never say never, right?)

Now comes the fun part. The continuing education part. I have two years to rack up the right amount of points. One year to rack up the right amount of points for my Spinning certification. There will undoubtedly be some overlapping going on. Double count it!


If you're studying for an ACE exam, or if you're thinking about studying for an ACE exam...or any personal training exam, then you might find the following tips useful.

I'm not sure how other programs do it, but the ACE program comes with a 12-week study guide. Follow it, and you'll be ready to take your exam in 12 least that's the idea. I tried to keep up, but it stressed me out, so I decided to work at my own pace. Use what they send you, but do not feel pressured to keep up. We all learn differently, right?

I'm not telling you to skim the books for the important parts, you definitely need to read everything. But remember: These books are yours to keep forever and so they're meant to be a resource you can continually go to for information as you need it. Don't freak out if you can't remember what the origins and insertions are for every muscle, but know what origins and insertions mean in the grand scheme of things. While there are recall questions on the exam, a bulk of the questions are based on application. So, always ask yourself this: How would I use this information in a real-life situation? And make sure you can answer yourself.

Specific to the ACE program, Master the Manual provides an outline and actual test (with answers) for each chapter in the ACE Personal Trainer Manual.

It's a great way to make sure that you are absorbing everything you are reading. Catch: You have to pay extra for it. But it's totally worth it. It really helped me figure out what I needed to spend more time on. Note: If you're not studying the ACE program, do some investigating to see what you can find specific to your program. At the very least, take a practice test if you can (ACE offers this).

As evidenced above, I made way too many note cards. Like, one for each concept and then some. Towards the end, I didn't even reference them because the stack overwhelmed me. But, when I got to a point where I really needed to buckle down on some things, I was able to pull out the cards I needed. So make note cards, but don't feel like you need to make a note card for everything.

I took a practice test two weeks before the real thing. I failed the first one, spent a week casually going over the concepts that threw me, then I retook it and passed. And after I passed that second practice test, I took a week to casually flip through everything I had been looking at, including the book. I didn't cram, I didn't spend hours memorizing. I just let everything sink in. It was nice.

Get there ready to go. Don't get there with an hour of time to cram. You'll just freak yourself out. Wake up, have a good breakfast, put on a good outfit or whatever...and just go and get it over with.

There will probably be questions on the test that make you go "uhhh, what the..." and you should just roll with them. Answer the best way you see fit and move on. Trust in everything you taught yourself. If you're taking the ACE exam, it lets you flag questions for later review. I found this to be super reassuring. I ended up flagging about 24 questions, and I think I switched about two or three answers in the end. It was a nice option to have. (If you can't flag on your exam, but if you can go back and forth between questions, then write down the questions you want to review. Self-flag, if you will.)

Each and every one of us takes tests differently. I, for one, suck at standardized, multiple-choice questions. But I passed. And you will, too. Just stay calm throughout the exam and do yo thang.

And then heave a big sigh of relief when it's all over.

But wait—What if you DO fail? Don't sweat it. Go home, write down some of the things that threw you off, then take a day off. Come back, do some reviewing and check the exam schedule. There were undoubtedly questions you did answer correctly, which represent concepts you do know well. So get back in the saddle as quickly as you can. Take that test again before you start forgetting things! You WILL pass it. I promise.

Question: Are you a certified personal trainer or group fitness instructor? What do you recall about taking your test? Any advice to add?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Guest Post: Spiced Apple Granola

Fall makes me really want an apple. Not apple cider, because it's just not my thing, but a fresh apple right off the tree. In fact, I'm very lucky to be surrounded by orchards that provide the u-pick experience. I just love it. And I love this recipe for Spiced Apple Granola. So grateful to Nicole of A Wild Hope for sharing it. I'm adding it to the list of things to do when I'm done with this ACE test, which is today (OMG). Let me know if you make it!

Hello readers, I’m Nicole from A Wild Hope. I am thrilled that Tara invited me to be a guest blogger for you while she takes her ACE exam. Good luck, Tara! (Thanks, Nicole!)

Like Tara, the focus of my blog is on living a healthy, happy life. One of my favorite things to do is create simple, delicious recipes, so when I was thinking about what to write about for this post, a recipe was my first thought. This time of year is one that is really busy for me, so I always find myself looking for quick and nutritious snacks. I find one of the easiest ways to fuel up throughout the day is with granola; It helps that I love any variation of this versatile snack. Store bought granola can be a sugar bomb, however, so I recently began making my own. This spiced apple version is packed with fiber and protein. It is gluten-free, naturally sweetened, vegan and absolutely delicious.

Shopping List:
• 3 cups old fashioned oats
• 1/2 cup quinoa
• 1 large apple (any variety), diced
• 1 cup almonds
• 2.5 tbsp cinnamon
• 1 tbsp nutmeg
• 1/2 tbsp all spice
• 1 tbsp vanilla
• 1/4 cup agave syrup
• 1/4 cup melted coconut oil or vegetable oil

• Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
• Combine oats, quinoa, apple and almonds in a large bowl.
• In a separate small bowl, combine cinnamon, nutmeg and all spice.
• Add spice mix, vanilla, agave and oil to oat mixture. Stir until thoroughly combined.
• Spread mixture on a parchment or silicone lined baking sheet in a thin, even layer.
• Bake for 45 minutes, toss mixture every ten to 15 minutes so it cooks evenly.

I hope you enjoy my healthy, fall-flavored version of granola! For more recipes like this one, check out A Wild Hope. You can also follow me on Twitter at wildlyhopeful for blog updates.

Question: What is your favorite thing to eat in the fall?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Guest Post: Going from Spectator to Runner

I remember when I hated running. I knew it would never be me, I just knew it. But look at me now. I'm a runner. I also remember when I started running. I thought, "what the hell, I need to change things up" and I ran. For like two minutes, but I ran. And I haven't stopped since. I even have medals to prove my running status. If you aren't a runner, you'll love hearing from Nicole of Live Laugh Eat Run. She used to be a spectator. Now she's a runner. And you can be, too.

I haven’t been running that long. I was one of those people in high school that faked an injury to get out of running the mile.


I started dating my boyfriend in 2006 and on our first date he told me that he did off-road triathlons. I thought: That's cool, I’d love to see one. At the time, I had NO idea what a triathlon was. I had no idea he and hundreds of his closest friends would do an open lake/ocean swim, a mountain bike ride and a trail run. I also had no idea how much stamina it takes for someone to finish that!

I began going to his races to support him and cheer him on! I’ve been to A LOT now. As a spectator, I started to realize how awesome it was to see these people do what they do. I would see men and women competing at the same level. Husbands and wives with their kids there cheering them on or even crossing the finish line with them—there really is nothing cuter than a person meeting their 4- and 5-year-old right before the finish line and holding their hand while they cross together. And I would also see physically challenged athletes crossing the finish line before many able-bodied athletes! It’s incredible to watch and so inspiring.

So I made a commitment to myself. I wanted to do something with a finish line. Not a triathlon, of course, I can only doggy paddle and I am terrible on a bike. (Maybe someday, when I overcome my bike fear and learn how to swim.) I told my boyfriend and he was so supportive. He started me off on an easy jog with some walking, and he signed me up for my first 5k. It was a Turkey Trot. There were hills, so I walked a bit—but I finished!

Then came the 10k. He said, "you’ll be out there for over an hour!"  I said, "I can totally do it."
DONE! Plus I got a cute first one ever!

I came across a Disneyland Half Marathon. I decided that I wasn't ready yet so I did the Disneyland 5k and my boyfriend did the Half. When he finished and I saw his medal, I was so jealous. I absolutely NEEDED that medal. So naturally, along came the half marathon. The Disneyworld Half Marathon—Holy moly that was hard. But, I did it!

Sometimes when I think about not training and sitting at home doing nothing, I think about those triathletes that I have seen crossing the finish line. The ones that can make time for training, even though they have four kids or maybe only one leg. If they can find the time and the motivation to train, then so can I!

I’m thinking about doing a full marathon for my 35th birthday…two years from now. I know I can do it. I know it’ll hurt, but I know I can do it.

Now, go...get out there and run happy!

Question: When did you start running? How did you do it and what made you do it? Or maybe it was swimming or biking. Regardless, I want to hear your story.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Guest Post: Pepper, Steak and Onions

If you're like me, you struggle with dinner. Not eating it, obviously, but coming up with stuff to make for it. I love cooking, but I hate cooking dinner because I just can't find enough time to truly enjoy the process. That's not a complaint, rather, it's just reality. Especially right now. So I'm super grateful for Lesley for the following recipe, which I've already added to my rotation this week.

Hi everyone! I’m Lesley and I blog at Greater Fitness. I'm so excited to share one of my new favorite recipes with all of you! I found a recipe on Pinterest last month for Pepper, Steak, and Onions that I tweaked a bit before making. It's the perfect "comfort food" that doesn't include any creams, soups, or butter. I especially liked this meal because it was a great way for me to get some veggies in my diet—something I really struggle with. It also really tastes like it was cooked in a Crock-Pot, but it's a one-pot stove top dish.

You will need: 
• 1-1/2 pounds sirloin steak, cut into 1/2" strips
• paprika
• 2 garlic cloves, crushed
• 2 tbsp. olive oil
• 1 cup white onions, sliced
• 2 sweet bell peppers, cut in strips
• 2 large tomatoes, diced
• 1 cup beef broth
• 1/4 cup water
• 2 tbsp. flour
• 2 tbsp. soy sauce
• 3 cups hot cooked rice (optional)

Dredge both sides of the steak in paprika and set aside.

 Prepare all of your other ingredients: Cut peppers and onions into strips that are similar in size. Dice tomatoes and crush the garlic cloves.

Cut the steak into strips. Over medium heat, cook steak and garlic in the olive oil until the meat is brown. Remove the crushed garlic. Add the onions and peppers; continue cooking until they begin to wilt.

At this point, your kitchen will begin to smell AMAZING! I couldn't resist trying a piece of the steak after taking this picture, and Andrew and I loved it. We knew this was going to be a yummy meal! Next, add the tomatoes and broth. (Some of the recipes on Pinterest called for ketchup at this step. I would not recommend it. Ketchup can be filled with preservatives and/or corn syrup. We try our best to cook with natural ingredients as much as possible, and we highly encourage others to do so as well.)

Cover and simmer over low/medium heat for 45 minutes.

During this time, I washed a few dishes, started some rice for our side dish and prepared the "gravy." To make this, you simply whisk together the water, flour and soy sauce.

Don't worry if the flour doesn't completely break up. It will cook down once it is in the pot. Andrew also used this time to saute mushrooms, garlic and Serrano peppers to add to his serving of the steak.

After 45 minutes, stir the gravy into the steak and cook for another 5 minutes or until the gravy thickens. We served this over rice and it was the perfect complement.

I wouldn't change a single thing about this recipe. We cannot rave about it enough. It was very inexpensive and we already had most of the ingredients on hand. It was very easy and didn't take long to prepare. It also left our house smelling so good that when my brother-in-law came over later that night he asked what we had eaten for dinner because it smelled so good!

For more from Lesley, be sure to follow her at Greater Fitness and on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, too!

Question: What are some of your favorite comfort foods? Have you found ways to make them healthier?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Pinspiration Thursday (#pinspirationthursday)

I know you're probably sick of hearing me talk about my ACE test...I am sick of hearing me talk about it! But it directly relates to today's bit of pinspiration, so I'll admit to you that I failed my first practice test. I missed the mark by four questions. What's nice is that ACE walks you through where you went wrong so you can determine the areas in which you need to refresh what you know. When I revisited the missed questions, I had a few palm-to-forehead moments. Let's just say that A) these results reminded me that I'm not good at standardized, multiple-choice tests, so B) I need to slow down and read the entire question before selecting an answer.

That was last Tuesday.

I spent the entirety of the past week freaking out a bit while going over the elements that I needed to refresh. I stressed a lot about test day, wondering if I'd get the same results on the real thing.  That would just be awful (because I'm already a certified personal trainer and I should be able to pass this test, otherwise, WTF).

I retook the practice test on Tuesday and this time:

I passed. I still missed a few, but I passed.

Lesson learned, lesson that needs to be remembered:

Pin / Source
Whatever happens today, whether it be on a test or at the gym, tomorrow is always new. Tomorrow is always a day without mistakes. So who cares if I failed the practice test. It made me smarter. I need to trust in that, right? Because all we can really do is learn from our mistakes and move on.

And even if I fail the real test, I can retake it (and retake it) until I pass.

Because that's just how much I believe in my determination.
(And it's how much YOU should believe in YOUR determination, too.)

Question: What mistakes have you learned from lately?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Bring Food Education Back (#infographic)

When I was little, I ate a lot of processed food. Zebra cakes? Yes, please. Kool-Aid? Oh, hell yes. I loved this stuff, among other not-so-real things like Fruity Pebbles and Pop-Tarts and Kid Cuisines. But back then, there wasn't such an emphasis on "clean eating" or processed versus unprocessed foods. At least not that I remember. Let's be honest, I was a kid so I didn't really care. Food was food. And it was good, which made it fun.

Fast forward to college.

That's where I think I really started to become more aware of what I was eating. Not in an obsessive, disordered was just the first time I really had to feed myself. Mom wasn't there to shop for me, or to make dinner for me every day. I had to stock snacks on my own, and the dining hall laid out an array of things I had to pick for myself. So I started to learn about eating right. And I started to get into exercise.

Obviously the two go hand-in-hand.

But I wish more than anything that this emphasis on clean eating, this idea that healthy is cool and necessary (and important)...I wish it had been around longer. And maybe it had been, but perhaps I just didn't notice it.

Anyone else feel like the "clean, healthy lifestyle" market has just boomed in the last ten years or so? Things like CrossFit, fitness clothing brands, all the gadgets. People like Tosca Reno and the boom in fitness-based conventions and other events.

Maybe it's just me.
Maybe I've just been noticing these things more.
It IS a much bigger part of my life now.

Regardless, I hope this trend (which is actually a way of life) is here to stay. I hope it gets passed down from generation to generation. We so need it to. Which brings me to the concept of food education—I never once had a class that discussed the right way to eat. I had a health class in high school, but it barely touched on the food pyramid (or whatever recommendations were being made by the government at the time, if any). And my gym class? Just another hour of torture in my day, even in high school. (I hated it so much.)

So this infographic, I think it's interesting:

Bring Food Education Back

Source: visually 

I'm not sure what the school districts around me offer in terms of food education (if anything), but I certainly hope Hannah gets to experience SOMETHING in school that will place an emphasis on healthy living. If it were my choice, I'd turn "health" class into "healthy living" class and make it a requirement in grade, middle and high school—how fun would it be to plan that curriculum?! At the very least, I hope Hannah will absorb and appreciate some of the healthy decisions I'm making every day. I hope she'll grow up learning how to balance healthy living with unhealthy treats.

If you can do this, then you're doing something right.

And seriously, girl has to experience a Zebra cake at least once in her life.

Question: Do you remember your first encounter with healthy living? What inspired you to make some changes in your life? And, obviously I need to know what your favorite unhealthy thing is!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Guest Post: Love Yourself Right Now

Ever wake up and, while getting dressed, determine that you're just not skinny enough or pretty enough? Ever wake up and deem the day a fat one? Who doesn't do this? It happens, right? Why? Because we're dang hard on ourselves. But we shouldn't be. We don't have to be. Those negative thoughts can and should be replaced, but that's easier said than done. We are, after all, completely human. And this is why I love Shannon so much. We met at BlogHer and her approach to life is so honest and real that it's infectious in the best way possible. Girl loves herself some soft serve and isn't afraid to admit it. She also knows what it takes to live a happy, healthy and balanced life. You can read about this on her blog, Skinny Sometimes. But today, she's here to discuss the above. She's here to help you love yourself right now.

Hi everyone! I'm Shannon, from Skinny Sometimes and I was thrilled when Tara reached out to me to do a guest post while she studies for her exam. Tara and I share similar opinions when it comes to living a balanced lifestyle so it was clearly fate we met during our very first session at BlogHer.

Striving for physical perfection can be dangerous not only to our physical health, but emotional health too. There is absolutely no reason you can't love yourself exactly how you are right at this moment as you are reading A Daily Dose Of Fit.

It's perfectly acceptable to want to be healthier, but we often set unrealistic goals and beat ourselves up about not being perfect on our way to obtain those goals. It is okay to LIKE yourself as you strive to make physical improvements. I know, this sounds difficult, but that's why I love daily affirmations.

I first fell in love with affirmations about seven years ago while I was working on my anxiety and OCD issues. They have since helped me develop a healthy relationship with food and a positive body image and now I just can't get enough. At first, it doesn't seem like they are going to work, but remember, it takes 21 days of doing something to form a habit. If you stick with the affirmations, you will catch yourself being nice to yourself without even trying. Then you will smile to yourself and say "hey! it IS working!"

Affirmations are easy to fit into your life. I say affirmations when:
1. I'm commuting to and from work.
2. I'm waiting in line.
3. I'm trying to relax my mind and fall asleep.

Here are 5 affirmations I love and why:

This is a great affirmation when you're feeling insecure. It's your choice to love the body you have right now (don't forget it).

It's so easy to forget we are all 3 of these. This one personally helps me build my self-confidence. I love to repeat it over and over again when I'm nervous or I'm dwelling on a past mistake.

We forget how fortunate we are to be able to exercise and to walk this earth. This affirmation is such a reality check for me. It reminds me to quit my whining and start counting my blessings.

Think about other people you treat with respect. Would you put them down the way you put yourself down? Let me answer that for you: NO.

The only person who can control how you feel about yourself is you. Take advantage of that and remind yourself every that you love who you are.

Don't wait until you're in a funk to start saying affirmations. The above affirmations are easy to memorize (that's me telling you to memorize them right now). Start saying them a few days daily and in a few weeks you'll see an improvement. You are strong, smart and beautiful, but don't sit around waiting to hear it from someone else.

Tell yourself now.

Question: What are your daily affirmations? 

Monday, October 7, 2013

French Toast Granola Cookies by @NatureBox

My studying as of late has been fueled by yet another shipment of deliciousness from NatureBox. As you know, I am a NatureBox Ambassador. As such, I get a free subscription to their monthly snack service—and you can get half off your first order with my affiliate link. Use it, don't use it. As always, it's entirely up to you. I'm just here to share the goodness. Like, for example, the Sourdough Cheddar Pretzels:

Seriously, so good.
But the real star of the show this month was the French Toast Granola.
Yep, French Toast Granola.

Every month, NatureBox sends you five or six bags of snacks for just $20/box. And in every box, they also include a nice card that details what each snack is—and there's always a recipe in which you can use one of the snacks.

This month, the recipe was for French Toast Granola Cookies:

Here's what I love about this recipe: From a health standpoint, there's not much to complain about. And if almond milk isn't your think, you can totally use cow's milk (which is what I did, only because I didn't have any almond milk). And when your French Toast Granola runs out, my guess is you can totally substitute in a different granola.

Try it, let me know.

These cookies turned out really great in my kitchen. I ended up using all of the French Toast Granola, which sort of made me sad, but the end result made it worth it. So tasty! They're about the size of a golf ball because I used my favorite little cookie scoop:

And since every bag that NatureBox sends you is completely resealable, the French Toast Granola bag now holds all the cookies. It's perfect!

So really, though. Why am I a NatureBox Ambassador? Long story short: I love what they do, I don't think they're expensive and it's dang fun to get new snacks in the mail every month. Again, you can use my affiliate code to save 50% on your first order. Or not, it's up to you.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to study. Over the next few days, I have some great guest posts to share with you as I inch closer and closer to exam day. First one's coming up tomorrow! Tune in to hear from Shannon of Skinny Sometimes!

Question: What is your favorite type of cookie?

Saturday, October 5, 2013

@TheColorRun in #SouthBend was the #happiest5k ever.

Bucket list item:


I have always wanted to participate in The Color Run, but distance has kept me from doing so. Until this weekend because it came to my hometown. Hooray! I signed up last weekend knowing it would be a great time, and it was—I always have a great time running with my mom and sister.

But seriously, despite a hot shower and some heavy duty scrubbing, I've still got color in places that I didn't know could even be hit with it! But, before all that happened, I looked like this:

And, well...this:

I'm usually not a sweatband person, but when in Rome:

Once we all got started, we settled into a nice fun run. The Color Run isn't competitive at all, and it was actually nice to be running without a clock. So different than my last race! In fact, I'd say there were equal parts runners and walkers, maybe even more walkers.

It didn't take us long to get all covered up in color:

By the end, we were complete disasters of color.

But the fun doesn't stop when you cross the finish line at The Color Run. They give you packets full of color, and they tell you to keep them for organized color throws. We, of course, opened a few of ours before that.

By this time, my camera was pretty covered in colored dust, so I chose to stay on the sidelines while my mom and sister gathered with the crowd for the big color throw.

So. Much. Fun.

Seriously, if you ever get the opportunity, do not pass this event by. Even if you think you can't complete a 5K (see above). Just know this:

1) You'll need some sunglasses to keep the color out of your eyes.
2) Wear something funky. You'll look funky if you don't.
3) You don't have to be a runner.
4) You WILL get covered in color.
5) Your kids can do it, too. Even in a wagon.

I can't wait to bring Hannah with me next year.

Question: Have you done a Color Run yet? What did you think? What is your favorite "fun" run?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

What's Up Wednesday

What's up! It's Wednesday, and I've been a busy girl. But you've been busy, too.
So we won't dwell on the current state of our busy-ness. Let me update you:

Happening! Participating in The Color Run has been an item on my bucket list for quite some time. And since it's coming to my hometown, well...I couldn't say no! So I'm running a 5K this weekend. Not like it's a race, really. It'll be fun! I'm running with my mom and sister. Hilarity will surely ensue.

Confession: I haven't been running.
But I have been Spinning.

I teach twice a week now, and I taught this morning at 6:00AM. It feels good to be on the bike more than 45 minutes each week, since I'm now teaching a 45-minute AND a 60-minute class. But I do miss running. I seriously think I'm becoming a weekend runner because that's pretty much the only time I run these days (unless you count the few times we run around the short track at the gym during my strength classes).

I should be running more, though. It's such a great form of stress relief. And I'm certainly stressed. Less than two weeks until I take my ACE test. Seriously, OMG. You'd think I wouldn't be so stressed about it, seeing as how I'm already a certified personal trainer, but still. The pressure seems X2 this time around. What if I fail? That'd be hilarious (or not).

So I'm still studying. Reviewing, really. And watching the videos that came in my study bundle:

So what if I fell asleep.

Oh, BTW: I gave Banana some peanuts. I updated my #powerofthepeanut post with all the details. Be sure to check it out if you're curious to see how she reacted.

Question: What's your go-to form of stress relief?


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