Friday, September 27, 2013

Sponsored Post: The #powerofthepeanut

I have been thinking about peanuts a lot lately. (I know, random.) First and foremost, I've been craving honey peanut butter. Also, Hannah is 21 months old and she eats just about everything except peanuts. 

We haven't given them to her yet, per our pediatrician. She seems to think that, should she have a reaction, Hannah will be able to handle it better when she is older. (Thus far, she has no allergies that we know of.) So we've been advised to wait until she is two. But, seriously, peanuts are so good. And since I love them so much, I'm dying to see if she likes them, too.

I know that some pediatricians don't advice the waiting game. And I've done some research online. So I'm currently toggling between just going ahead with it and waiting until January when she'll be two. But does three months really make that big of a difference?

Truth: I'm nervous as hell to give them to her. What if she reacts in a way that's not "more, peeeze!"?

Anyway, aside from them being so good, peanuts are also so good for you which is another reason I want to add them to her diet. Variety is the spice of life, so the more I can give her in terms of healthy eats, the better!

Let's talk about why peanuts are so good for you.
They contain:

1) MANGANESE: Carbs are our main source of energy, and this stuff helps burn 'em.
2) PHOSPHOROUS: Got teeth? This stuff supports good tooth health.
3) PROTEIN: Ahh, yes. A staple in every diet. Muscle up!
4) DIETARY FIBER: Good for the 'ol digestive system.
5) VITAMIN E: We are essentially giant bags of cells, and cells need E.
6) MAGNESIUM: Muscles move bones, and bones need this stuff.
7) NIACIN: Cue the video...

Mr. Peanut, man. He's been around for awhile now.

Update (10/02/13): I gave Hannah peanut butter on Sunday. I spread just a bit of it on one corner of her toast at breakfast. She didn't have a single reaction, so I took it one step further on Monday by adding even more to her toast. And on Tuesday, she ate her first PBJ. Needless to say, no allergies in this house. But really, that's only a small portion of why I'm thrilled. Girl loves her some peanut butter. It's one more healthy food that I can add to her diet. As I type this, she's chowing down on an apple. Don't get me wrong, she loves herself some fishie crackers, too. But so far, there's little she won't eat—which makes it easy for me to help her eat healthy. I realize she's just shy of being a two-year old, and I realize her culinary adventures can and will probably stop and/or slow down at some point, but for now I'm thrilled. I'll soak up every minute because (let's be honest) it makes it so much easier for me to grocery shop when I can give her anything and everything I eat. Like, for example, Nature's Tiny Miracle. Ha!

Question: Parents, how did you test peanuts with your little ones? 
Question: How do you, dear readers, incorporate peanuts into your healthy diet?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Pinspiration Thursday (#pinspirationthursday)

My mom and sister will be running a half marathon this weekend.
This goes out them, and to anyone else that might be lacing up:

Whether it be your first mile or your last, whether you're racing or training or just running for fun, don't put so much emphasis on how many miles you've gone or how many you've still gotta go. Just go. Run...and run with heart. Trust your body, trust in your training. It's one foot in front of the other from the start to the finish of each and every mile. So make every step you take, make every mile you complete...just make it count. That's where you find your strength So, go... #findyourstrong.

Got good pinspiration? Follow me, and use #pinspirationthursday on Pinterest and Twitter so I can follow you.

Question: Are you running this weekend? In a race? Are you training? Tell me.

Monday, September 23, 2013

@Greatist: The Truth Behind Common Health Knowledge (#infographic)

It's funny, just the other day, I got an email from my local grocery store urging me to check out the latest deals on their cold and flu medicines. It's that time of year again, I suppose. Or is it just that we're all spending more time inside, incubating ourselves in germs instead of the flowers and fresh air more common to the Summer months that have passed us? I know not the answer, but I do know that it's much colder outside, so the need to "bundle" up is creeping upon us. "Don't go outside without a coat, you'll catch a cold!" Right? Not really:

Get health and fitness tips at

Question: What's the craziest health "fact" you've ever heard?  When I was little, my cousin once told me that I'd get cancer if I licked past the "k" on the Lick-a-Stick in my Fun Dip. He never specified which "k," and I gave up Fun Dip for life. I obviously know the truth now. Older cousins, sheesh.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

5 Tips for Fall Running

Summer, you came and went too quickly this year. I swear, it felt like you lasted one week. Don't worry, I forgive you for this. You are gone, but not forgotten...remnants of you still present in the sun that shines on the beach that is now too cold to truly enjoy. Gone are the days of playing in the sand, but here are the days of running in the sand. Because that's what happens when Fall rolls into a beach town. It brings with it winds that blow the sand everywhere. Work crews retire after Labor Day, which means the sidewalks go untouched until Memorial Day. So the sand, it creeps up on the cement. And stays there. Thankfully it's not too bad yet:

I'd rather run at this time of year than any other.
Nothing beats a crisp, Fall run under blue skies and sunshine.

5 Tips for Fall Running
1) Don't forget about the sun. It's still shining. Sunscreen IS a good idea.
2) Leaves fall, it rains. Therefore, leaves can turn into banana peels. Don't slip!
3) Keep track of sunrise and's constantly changing. Plan accordingly.
4) Dress accordingly. Preferably in materials that wick away sweat.
5) Hydrate normally. Dehydration knows no season.

It's been a crazy few days around here, but I managed to snag a nice 4-miler today.

The legs felt great. My miles averaged about 8:30...I probably could have added another mile or two, but I chose not to because I'm not chained to a training plan. It's nice to run free, so to speak. It gives me the flexibility to run only as long as I want to or have the time to. And lately, I haven't had much time. I have a huge event at the gym this coming weekend, so I'm knee-deep in last minute preparations for that. And I'm still studying for that ACE personal trainer exam.

Ready or not, I will hopefully take (and pass) the exam on the 14th of October. This whole studying thing, it's far too consuming. (Seriously, I haven't read any books this year. None. And if you know me, this is completely crazy.)

Speaking of studying...

Question: Did you run this weekend? How far? If not, what was your exercise of choice? Tell me.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pinspiration Thursday

I'm currently consumed by a plate full of ACE books and work functions with a hefty side of toddler and husband. Life is good, life is busy. More to come, I promise. I haven't forgotten about you, my readers and my friends. #thatisall (<—At least for right now.)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Feedly Finds

So when Google Reader died, I switched over to Feedly (like a lot of people did). It took me awhile to get used to it, but I finally have the swing of things and (as expected) I really like it. One feature in particular: The ability to "save" posts for later because sometimes, when I check Feedly, I'm only in the mood to scroll for the hot stuff that must be read right that second. But I so don't want to miss out on the not-so-hot stuff that I definitely want to get to.

Confession: I have saved posts that go back over one hundred days. So tonight, since it's Friday and I feel like turning my brain off, I decided to go back and weed through some of these saved posts. Here are just a few of my favorites, perhaps you've already read them:

1) What to Look For in a Greek Yogurt (Because seriously, the Greek yogurt market is ridiculous with it's options galore. I know Chobani has been under fire lately, but I still love 'em. And this article they hosted on their blog? Super helpful.)

2) High-Protein Breakfast: Egg in Avocado (I pinned this recipe and saved it in Feedly, but I've yet to make it. Egg...and avocado...together as one. I AM SO INTRIGUED.)

3) How to Become the Woman You've Always Wanted to Be (Let's face it, we all have this vision of how we'd like to live our lives. Who we'd like to become. And how we plan to become her. But it's not always easy to turn those visions and plans into reality. This post, however, is full of tips I think every woman should consider.)

4) 99 Ways to Increase Blog Traffic (Calling all bloggers! This one's for you.)

5) The 10 People You Meet at Every Group Exercise Class (I've met them all, 'though not necessarily at my current place of employment if you happen to know me from my current place of employment.)

Question: Have you read any great posts lately? Link me in a comment!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Sponsored Post: @Puma FormLite XT Shoe Review

The following post is sponsored by FitFluential, LLC on behalf of PUMA.

My husband thinks my shoe collection is out of control. I admit that it is, but I fail to see the problem. I am woman, after all, and I love shoes. When I was working in advertising, I would make frequent trips to TJ Maxx to check out the Size 7 rack. You know, just in case they got the perfect shoe in that day. I still have some of those perfect shoes in my closet, most of which are high heels. But these days, they collect more dust than compliments as I am always in athletic shoes. And admittedly, I have more than one pair of athletic shoes—translation, my shoe collection is out of control.

Just try and stop me from adding to it, though. When FitFluential offered up the chance to review the Puma Formlite XL Ultra athletic shoe, hand shot in the air so fast the air didn't even know what hit it. C'mon, now. The more the merrier. And the brighter the better, which is why I liked what I saw when I slid open the box

Let's pause and reflect on the box itself for a second:

Reusable tote. Great idea.
The shoes:

Now, I know you're thinking that black isn't necessarily bright, but the orange hits ya like a Starbucks sign announcing the arrival of the Pumpkin Spice Latte. You suddenly can't look at anything else.

Details. Love me some details. Speaking of: This isn't a running shoe, which is good because I really don't like running in them. I've been wearing them in all of my classes, and they're extremely comfortable. But not "running shoe" comfortable, if that makes sense. I can run just fine in them, sure, but three-laps-around-the-track fine. Not three miles fine.

Why are they so comfortable? They're extremely light and flexible. Everything you want in a training shoe, really. Check out the bottom:

Different, no? Inspired by a feather, true story. Just looking at the cutouts, you can tell this shoe bends and flexes in nothing short of a 360-degree pattern. The pods are all injected with the right kind of foam—but honestly, it's these pods that make this shoe somewhat uncomfortable to run in. At least for me. I can feel them when I'm really pounding the pavement. But not when I'm doing squat jumps or lunges or just walking around. But again, it's not a running shoe. It's a training/athletic shoe.

The top part of the shoe is great, too. Very light and sock-like.

I mean, here's the thing. When you're in the gym more than once a week, or when you're obsessed with shoes like I am...or even if you like to have the right equipment for the right activity, why not invest in a pair of athletic/training shoes? The way I see it, it's fun to switch from shoe to shoe. And athletic/training shoes extend the life of your running shoes. How so? Running shoes wear down a bit more with every mile you put on them, so why add to that deterioration by wearing them when you strength train (or whatever it is you do outside of running)?

But, you know, I'm pretty good at justifying any shoe purchase.

Speaking of strength training. Yesterday, I talked about wall sits and the impending 3:30 wall sit in today's HIIT class. Verdict: Great success. I'm so proud of my students. If you want to get in on the action, you can pin this for your next workout:

Keep fitness fun, y'all.

Question: What kind of shoes do you wear when you're strength training? Do you buy specific shoes for each of the physical activities you participate in, or do you rock one pair no matter what?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

How To: Wall Sits

How many of you remember those President's Challenges you had to do in your grade school gym classes? Think chin-ups, long jumps, timed miles...and wall sits. Back then, I hated wall sits and I hated those challenges (and gym class). But today, I'm all over the wall sits. They might be the only leg exercise that really, truly makes my quads burn with DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). I've been doing them in my HIIT class every Wednesday morning. We're up to three minutes, and I have every intention of adding :30 tomorrow morning. I'm pretty sure they'll hate me for it, but that's how it goes (insert evil laugh here).

To celebrate their impending achievement of a 3:30 wall sit, and to reintroduce this excellent exercise to you, I thought I'd take a minute to talk about proper technique. Or, how to do a wall sit. Because even though it's not a complicated exercise, there are things you can do to assure proper form (and consequently, a more efficient wall sit).

All you need is a wall (obviously). And a clock.


1) Find a wall that meets a floor that isn't slippery. You need good grip to keep proper form. In addition, you'll want the clock to be straight ahead of you (or on your wrist). Excess movements wastes energy and compromises form.

2) Start with your feet hip-width apart and slightly in front of you, then lean back into the wall. Slide down into position—your knees should end up right above your ankles in a 90-degree bend. Don't let them move in or out. Keep the pressure into your feet evenly distributed from heel to toe.

2) Keep your arms relaxed at your side or in your lap. Do not brace with them, meaning, do not press into your legs or the wall. All of the work in a wall sit should be done by your legs. Bracing with your arms will take away from this (<—this is what we call "cheating").

3) Keep your back and shoulders against the wall, maintaining a neutral spine. This means your lower back might not necessarily touch the wall as it can naturally curve inward a bit. This does not mean, however, that your hips can tilt forward. Keep a neutral pelvis, too.

4) Keep your eyes on the prize (the clock). Don't look down, up or side to side. Just like your pelvis, your neck should remain neutral, too.

5) When the legs start to burn, just focus on your breathing and the clock. If you find yourself sliding down, or closing that 90-degree bend, then call it quits.

Slide back up when your done, pat yourself on the back and stretch out those legs! Shoot for a repeat next time around, and when it starts to get easy, tack on a few more seconds.

Question: If you did a wall sit right now, how long could you hold it for? (Yep, I'm challenging you!)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sunday is for Studying (and Walking)

But really, not just Sunday. This whole entire week has been for studying. Yes, I am still plugging away at the preps for my ACE certified personal trainer exam. In fact, I've been studying since March and it's seriously "go" time. There is a mid-October test date that I'd really like to hit, so I'm doing everything I can to devote all of my extra time to the books.

This girl is ready to be done. I'm so tied to my flashcards right now, it's ridiculous. You're right, though. I've done this before so it should be a walk in the park. And I've thankfully been able to recall so much from the first time I studied for such an exam. But...all the pressure! What if I don't pass? How dumb would that be! Seriously, how dumb.

Anyway, speaking of "walk in the park," I took my girl out for a late-afternoon power walk along the lake.

It made me want to go running.
Once a runner, always a runner.

Back to the books...

Question: Are you prepping for anything major right now? Tell me about it.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Sweet Blueberry Almond Butter by @NatureBox

In the essence of full disclosure, the following post kicks off my partnership with NatureBox. It includes affiliate links. Use them to order your own NatureBox (at 50% off) and I will receive a small stipend—but it's not the stipend that matters to me, I just want to support a company that I believe in. They have so graciously given me my own NatureBox subscription to write this and other reviews. But as always, all opinions are my own.

I have reviewed many a different food-based subscription box in my time. Call me crazy, but getting a delicious surprise in my mailbox every month is completely fun and awesome. Here's the thing, though. They all started to feel the same to me. I started getting repeat samples from one box to another. And some of these samples were of things that I could ultimately drive down the street and buy on my own.

Not such a delicious surprise anymore, right?

Only one of them managed to surprise me from one box to another:

NatureBox delivers three to five healthy snacks to your doorstep every single month. I know that sounds familiar, the whole "healthy snacks" thing, but the difference here is that you can't buy these snacks at the grocery store. They come straight from NatureBox, and they're all delicious and truly healthy. Nothing artificial, no high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated oils and certainly no trans fats.

I took the Teriyaki Twists to Indy this past weekend—they're gone. I'm doing my best to milk the Cocoa Waffle Wafers because they're great on top of my oatmeal. And I recently made use of these guys:

Sweet Blueberry Almonds. I know, I know... I wasn't sure, either. I love blueberries and almonds in my yogurt, but would those two flavors combine successfully? Answer: Yes.

In every NatureBox you get, there is a little card that describes whatever snacks you just received. It also features a recipe using one of them. Here's a clip of August's recipe:

Feel free to pin it because you'll want to make it if you get your hands on some Sweet Blueberry Almonds. This stuff is so good:

The recipe doesn't make a lot, but that's just fine. I didn't add the honey and it was perfectly sweet. Somehow, I managed to dip just three animal crackers into it:

It was the perfect little mid-afternoon snack, but I'm really looking forward to testing this stuff out on a, BABJ. Blueberry almond butter and jelly sandwich. Yeah.

Sad thing is, I'm out of Sweet Blueberry Almonds now. Which is cool because I've got a few other snacks to work through should I need them. And therein lies one of the reasons I love NatureBox so much—It's totally fine if you get repeat product because you can't BUY the product anywhere. Although I'm really not sure they send out repeats. They come up with about five new products every month. And actually, word on the street is that subscribers will soon be able to pick the products they want in their monthly boxes. So that's cool.

Speaking of buying the product. My affiliate link gets you half off your order. (Just to reiterate, I do get a small stipend every time someone uses my affiliate link, but that's not why I'm providing it. Use it to cash in on a great deal and some delicious snacks, or don't use it. The choice is yours and yours alone.)

Details: NatureBox is $19.95 a month for five full-size snack packages—except remember, you'll get half off with my affiliate link so it amounts to, like...$2 a bag. ($4/bag is still a good deal for a healthy snack you don't have to run out and buy, though. Right?) Shipping is free, and you'll be charged each month for the duration of your participation. Cancel whenever (and seriously, these people are so nice so it won't be hard to cancel if you decide that's best for you).

With that, I leave you. My tummy is growling and I must address this.

Question: Have you tried out any monthly subscription services? What is your favorite? If you already subscribe to NatureBox, what has been your favorite snack so far?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Up next: Fall fitness plan.

I have been training for a half marathon since March. To some, that might not seem like anything. But to me, it seems like a lot. Factor in a hefty teaching schedule, other job responsibilities, plus life at home with my family—It's a lot for a girl to handle. Even if I do only work part time. Because trust me, I'm not the type to sit on the couch and eat bon bons in my free time. I keep it busy. So I've been reflecting on the "What's next?" question all weekend.

And looking at my new medal, too:

I know it's not about the medal, but when you get one, you want more. And I know that I could probably whip out another half or two before the year is out. But as of right now, I think this is going to be the last half I do this year.

Blue and sparkly on the back:

Mom and sis are running a half marathon in a few weeks. Part of me really wants to run it, too. But part of me knows that I need a break.

I'm tired, y'all.
Mentally tired of the training schedule.

I want to run free for a bit. Not because I "have to," but because I want to. I want to run to relax, not to race. But that's not me saying all races are off the table because I think it would be fun to do some smaller, more local runs.

I'm thinking The Color Run in October in my hometown (if it's not sold out).
And I might join a team and run a leg of the Grand Rapids Marathon. (Just a leg.)

We'll see.

I'm also going to be adding another Spinning class to my schedule at the end of the month. One of my instructors will be out for a few weeks and I've agreed to take on her class.  So I'll be teaching five times a week at that point.

I'm not sure I can handle a training schedule AND five fitness classes.

So I'm going to settle for these two beauties:

I only pick races with cool medals.

Just kidding (sort of).

MONDAY: Circuit Sculpt (60min)
TUESDAY: Spinning (45min) and Kettlebells (30min)
WEDNESDAY: Spinning (60min)
FRIDAY: Circuit Sculpt (60min)
SATURDAY: Rest or Run
SUNDAY: Rest or Run

Saturday and Sunday will be interchangeable because I never know what we'll be doing. I'll snag two rest days or I'll go for a run on one day (but never both). And when I say rest day, I'm leaving that open to some gentle yoga if the opportunity presents itself. I miss yoga.

Question: What are your Fall fitness plans?


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