Friday, May 30, 2014

5 Things I Learned from "Healthy Living Redefined" by @nutritiouskate

I was given the opportunity to review Kate's book via my partnership with FitFluential, LLC. I elected to spend my own money on a printed copy because I just don't get along with e-books. As always, the following opinions are my own.

If there is one thing I struggle with, it's the concept of "healthy living." It just seems so...vague. Perhaps undefined. Maybe even a matter of perception. Would you agree? This is why I've shied away from referring to myself as a "healthy living blogger," choosing instead to focus on myself as a "health and fitness blogger." I think there's a difference, don't you?

It's true, I write about healthy living. A lot, actually. But I do so from a professional perspective because I realize that we're all different. And the only way we can really live healthy lives is if we embrace our own and do what works for us. So I always define what works for me and encourage you you seek out what works for you. Because if we don't travel this journey on our own accord, that's when we get caught in the trap...that oh, so trendy trap that requires us to wake up with overnight oats before we sculpt chiseled delts at the gym. A drastic analogy, yes, but one that illustrates the need to be, eat and look perfect.

So when FitFluential, LLC offered up the chance to review Kate Horning's new book , I accepted the challenge because I've always enjoyed her blog.

Why read another book about healthy living? Why let someone else tell me what to do and eat, and how to exercise accordingly? I have no doubt that you're struggling with the concept of healthy living, too. I mean, there's just so much information out there. How could Kate's perspective be any different? I wanted to know. And, the truth: I feel like it is.

Healthy Living Redefined is an excellent read. An easy-to-digest book that encourages you to "think differently and to look at the world in a new way." It doesn't tell you what to eat, what to avoid and what you SHOULD or SHOULD NOT be doing. It simply tells you how to approach a healthy lifestyle. Kate doesn't teach you, she guides you. Because again, we all have different needs. In guiding you, she does provide a 28-day plan...but don't roll your eyes just yet. It's not a definitive "you must do this to be thin and healthy and cool" type of plan. Again, it's a guide based solely on her approach.

Each day has a focus on one healthy habit and or thought to consider and implement if possible, sure...she provides some recipes. But again—it's just a guide meant to jump start a new way of thinking.

I won't reveal all of her secrets as I want you to read the book, but at it's core, Healthy Living Redefined focuses on creating a healthy lifestyle by living it and sharing it. (#liveitshareit) In addition to, and to enhance this message, Kate drops some really great quotes throughout the book. I've captured my five favorite below.

Share them, pin them, tweet them and tag them as you see fit. And please, follow Kate on Twitter and Instagram so she can join the fun. (And if you're not already following me on Twitter and Instagram—please do so! I'd love to connect with you on your healthy living journey!

Question: How do you define healthy living? What are your thoughts on the concept of "healthy living bloggers?" Think its a term worth  using? Or does it do more harm than good?

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Notice when you are happy. (#pinspirationthursday)

We all have those days. They suck, right? Nothing seems to go right. Nothing at all. And it kills your mojo, not to mention your mood, and all you can think about is everything that happens to be going wrong. Well, this:

Pin / Source
How about we all stop focusing, dwelling, living in, hanging on the negative and starting doing all that for the positive. Because I'm thinking if we do, if we can incorporate the above, we'll be shiny, happy smiling people. All of us.

Here, I'll start us off:

Now, go. Be happy. It's worth it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

5 Ways to Enhance Your Summer Fitness

Technically speaking, the first day of Summer is on June 21. But that's not stopping us from getting into Summer mode right now since A) we just passed Memorial Day, and B) we're seeing sweat-your-butt-off temps more often. I mean, for those of you that don't deal with Winter weather, you're always in Summer mode (lucky you), but for the rest of us—we're officially out of hibernation. Which means the workouts are coming out, too. As in, leaving the gym.

So let's talk about how we can enhance our Summer fitness regimes. I don't know about you, but I love working out in the Summer months. Yes, the temps suck at times, but I find so much health and fitness inspiration outside during these bright and sunny months. Not you, though? Consider the following:

1) Siphon inspiration from the runners and walkers you see crowding the sidewalks.
They're out and about, and whenever I see them, it instantly makes me want to run. Even if I can't at that exact moment, I take those individuals and use them as friendly reminders to get my "daily dose of fit." They can be few and far between during the Winter months, which means inspiration doesn't come aplenty as you simply drive down the road. Of course, hitting the gym solves that problem—but actually getting yourself to said gym is yet another challenge.

2) Visit your local farmer's markets and stock up on fresh, clean and healthy eats.

Yes, you can find healthy eats at the grocery store—but that's just another chore on your list, right? You'll have much more fun strolling the market on a sunny Saturday morning. And it can often be cheaper, not to mention supportive of your local economy. And when you see all those beautiful fruits, veggies and homemade goods lined up ever so perfectly, it might actually add inspiration to your repertoire of go-to meals. Who knows, you might even find a new veggie to try.

3) Realize that the world is your gym—turn to bodyweight workouts!

I work at a gym, so maybe I shouldn't admit this, but you really don't need gym equipment to get fit. At least when it's warm outside, because it's so easy to create bodyweight circuits using things like jungle gyms (pull-ups), park benches (box jumps and triceps dips) and staircases (leg work). Even the grass and sidewalk (planks, lunges, pushups). So switch things up a little and start taking some of your workouts outside. Not only will it actually get you outside, it'll add some variety to the routines you've been doing all Winter long.

4) Play with toys.
Building upon the aforementioned "the world is your gym" tip, realize that fitness equipment can really be anything that gets you up and moving. Play some beach volleyball or backyard soccer instead of burning up the step machine. Turn your kids' sprinkler on and run around with them for an hour. How about a game of tag? Or maybe a bike ride with your besties. Soak up the sun while you can (don't forget your sunscreen, though).

5) Keep an eye out for outdoor workouts put on by your local gyms and trainers.
When you hit the coffee shop or grocery store, check the pin boards for flyers that advertise outdoor fitness events. I guarantee you'll find at least one. Maybe it's a 5K run/walk raising money for a local cause, or a bootcamp put on by a fitness facility or independent trainer. Don't see anything? Ask around, call around. Make suggestions if you have to. Because who doesn't love a yoga-in-the-park type of gathering?

Question: How does your fitness regime change in the summer? What tips can you add to the above?

Sunday, May 25, 2014

6 Things I'm Loving Right Now, Vol. 5

In case you're wondering, there's no action on the baby front just yet. I had a few people predict that it would happen this weekend, but it doesn't look like that will be the case. C'MON DOWN, BABY! You're the next contestant on that which is life! We are all anxious to meet you. Very anxious. But since there's really nothing I can do to make it all happen a bit quicker, I'm proceeding as per the usual. And when it comes to Daily Dose, that means it's time for another roundup of things I'm loving right now.

1) Purely Elizabeth Cranberry Pumpkin Seed Ancient Grain Oatmeal
I picked this stuff up on a whim at Whole Foods a month or two ago. I tend to buy random things whenever I have a gift card, and I like having instant hot cereal on hand for rushed and/or lazy mornings—OMG this stuff is so good. And good for you. And gluten-free, if that's your thing. Expensive, sure. But worth it. Not at all too sweet or sugar-laden, which makes it perfect for a scoop of peanut butter, some banana slices and a handful of raspberries. Or whatever your taste buds desire.

2) The Grill 

It's out and being used in full force. We've had so many great meals on it already, and summer has hardly begun. I'm looking forward to fresh corn...we've picked up a few ears from the grocery store, but it's all shipped in right now. You seriously can't beat corn right from the farm. Our farmer's market starts next weekend, but it'll take some time before the corns starts rolling in, that's for sure. Until then, we'll keep adding salads and fruit and whatever to our grilled meat of choice.

3) Songza

Whether you use the app or the actual website, this music service is incredible. My sister turned me on to it this week, claiming it was loads better than Pandora. She was right. It really is. Songza aims to be a musical concierge of sorts, picking out playlists for you based on mood, activity, or in the tradition genre/artist way, too. You can pay a small monthly subscription for more options, but I've been rocking the free version without a problem (or add interruption). I haven't used it for a workout yet, but anticipate it being awesome in that realm, too.

Note: The following item was sent to me in an Influenster VoxBox free of charge for review purposes. All opinions are, obviously, my own and in no way persuaded by the free-ness of it all.

4) Profoot Pedi-Rock
Last week, I got the #GoVoxBox from Influenster. Out of all the products it contained, I think I was the most excited to test out the Profoot Pedi-Rock. Because let's be honest, anything that pampers the feet is a winner, even if it takes some power on my part. And so the Pedi-Rock, it's essentially a pumice stone. Now, I've used my fair share of pumice stones in the past but there's something different about this one. It seriously rocks (pardon the pun). Maybe it's the fact that it's actually a bit squishy so it can conform to your foot. Or maybe it's the fact that I'm using it on dry (not wet) skin. I really can't say, except that it really works. And trust me, my feet suck. So if you like to use a pumice stone, or if you need one, then you might want to seek out one of these bad boys.

5) Sally Hansen "Get Juiced" Nail Polish with a Seche Vite Top Coat

Sticking with the foot theme for a minute, I seem to fall in love with at least one nail polish every summer, and it's usually a pink/coral shade that goes with everything. This year, it's "NAME" by Sally Hansen. I don't paint my nails too often, but I almost always have color on my toes. And since my toes take a beating, I need a good top coat. Seriously, drop every top coat you've been using and buy some Seche Vite. Runners, thank me later. It might as well be liquid steel. For example, I wore it over my Sally Hansen polish when we were in Florida...beach sand usually makes a glossy top coat go dull, but not with this stuff. I swear.

6) "Mommy stay right here...two minutes."
We've successfully transitioned to a big-girl bed...thus far, we've only found Hannah asleep by the door on two occasions. Nap times take some work, but that's to be expected since it's still so bright out. She likes to get out of bed and play. But at night, it usually takes a few minutes of cuddling to get her to fall asleep, and I soak up every last second of it. The best part: When she throws her arms around my neck, closes her eyes and smiles. I could stay like that with her forever.

Question: What are you loving right now?

Friday, May 23, 2014

Feedly Finds, Vol. 4

Anyone up for a three-day weekend? I know this girl is. It's not that I have the most stressful job, but I look forward to having Jason home for three days straight. Time to relax, for sure. And it's supposed to be really nice where I live, so that's good. Here's to you, sun.

Some links for you to check out:

1) Do you make your own nut butters? I get in such a rut with my usual peanut/honey blend, but I'm totally drooling over these four must-try nut butter recipes.

2) I don't know if it's the lime and chicken, or the avocado and strawberry that gets me. But this recipe for Grilled Lime Chicken with Strawberry Avocado Salsa has me drooling all over my keyboard right now (not really, but you get what I mean).

3) The exercise I miss the most because I literally can't do them at this point in my pregnancy: Burpees. Gosh, I love them. And I know that makes me part of a minority. Why? Because burpees suck. But they were never really meant to be a hellish form of high intensity training. Read this article: Where do burpees come from?

4) I've been loving all the race recaps, even though they make me rage with jealousy! In a good way, obviously. I can't wait to lace up again. I miss it! Running is such a huge part of my fitness, and with good reason. The running community is awesome and fun, whether that community is online or in person. And these ten reasons will explain exactly why you should be a member.

5) Chichi posted this video a few weeks ago and, I can't even describe it. The display of strength is just ridiculous. I feel so weak after watching it!

Question: Read anything good on the Internet lately?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

What do you aspire to be? (#pinspirationthursday)

Is your mailbox currently being stuffed with graduation invites? I will never forget the day I graduated from college (and not because they called me "Theresa" as I accepted my diploma). It was the day I really took ahold of my life.

What was I going to do? I had no idea, no job...just a desire to be creative, hopefully in a way that got me a paycheck. I wanted to be an adult, living on my own and driving a car I had purchased. I wanted to move to a city that was awesome (translation: Chicago) and I wanted to be fabulous, hip and cool in my new status as a young professional.

Honestly, I wanted to work at Marie Claire magazine, but that seemed a bit out of reach.

But that's what you do after college, right? You reach.

And I certainly did, but then reality set in and I had to reach a little lower at first.

After college, I lived at home and worked as a receptionist at a local television affiliate. I got the paycheck and eventually the car, but never the city. Or the magazine, unless you count my subscription. Looking back, I wouldn't change a thing for myself. Because each of the decisions I made for myself after college lead me to who I am right now.

But where do I go from here, now that I've reached goals and lived dreams? Do I still aspire to be and do and achieve? Or do I redirect those thoughts into something more spiritual in order to make the most of the concrete things I've achieved?  Can I still aspire to be something, even though I'm already something to so many people (mom, wife, daughter, trainer, boss, blogger, etc.)

This. I think this what I aspire to be at the moment:

Pin / Source
Appropriate, right?

Question: What do you aspire to be?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Workout Wednesday: Total Body @Valslide Workout

The other day, a member at my gym approached me with a workout he had pulled from a magazine. He was specifically interested in the equipment, wondering if we had anything like it. Much to my surprise, he was asking about Valslides. (Alas, we don't have Valslides at my gym. Just gliding discs that can only be used on the wood floors in the group fit studios.)

A few years ago, I was given the opportunity to review a set of Valslides through my partnership with FitFluential. It was honestly love at first try...and I still love them, except now they come in pink and mine are the old green color. (It's the little things.)  Really, though. Such a great piece of equipment, and one that I often pull out when I work out at home...I'm guessing I'll be using them a lot in the upcoming months as I get back in shape post-baby. Because who knows how easy it'll be for me to get into the gym. That all remains to be seen.

So for today's Workout Wednesday, I thought I'd build you a total body working using the Valsides. But if you don't have access to Valslides, perhaps you'll find some gliding discs at your gym. Or, if you really feel like getting creative, you could try a plastic plate on carpet or a small hand towel on a wood/tile floor. (Just be careful whenever you use non-traditional workout equipment because you just never know.)

As always, consult with your physician before trying anything new. You know why. And it goes without saying that all times/repetitions are a guide. Please adjust as you see fit.

1) Reverse Lunge to Side Lunge
Place your right foot on the Valslide. Lunge back as deeply as you can, return to the start and immediately lunge out to the side—but keep your bodyweight on your left leg. Do as many repetitions as possible in (:30). Repeat with your left food on the Valslide.

2) Alternating Side-to-Side Pushups
Get into your pushup position with a Valslide under each hand. As you drop down into your pushup, slide one hand out to the side. Bring it back in as you return to your starting position. Drop down again, moving the opposite arm this time. Do 15 pushups. (Note: Drop to your knees if the Valsides add too much intensity.)

3) Hamstring Curls
Lie flat on your back with each heel on a Valslide and arms at your side for support. As you contract your core/glutes, curl the heels underneath you to reach hip-press position, then return to start and repeat. Do 15 hamstring curls. (Note: Heels should never come in further than your knees, which means you should aim for a 90-degree knee bend.

4) Mountain Climbers
Perform a standard mountain climber with a Valslide under each foot. Your feet should remain in contact with the Valslide, and consequently the floor, at all times. Push for increased speed as you see fit. Do 30 repetitions total (15 per leg).

5) Hip Ab/Adductions
Place a knee on each Valside, maintaining an upright posture with arms at your sides. Slide your knees out to the side, then pull them back into your starting position. This does not have to be a big movement! Beware of over-stretching yourself! Also, it should be slow and steady for the best possible burn. Do 15 repetitions.

6) One-Arm Slides in Plank Position
Get into your plank position with a Valslide under each hand. While maintaining your plank position, slide your right hand forward as much as possible, return to the start and do the same with your left hand. This is one repetition. Do 15 repetitions. (Note: Drop to your knees if the Valsides add too much intensity.)

Any questions? tara (at) adailydoseoffit (dot) com.

Question: What's your favorite piece of at-home equipment?

Monday, May 19, 2014

My Packing List for the Hospital

I'm like, seriously ready to go over here. The countdown is on and every little ache and pain has me hoping it's the onset of labor. Truth: I'm still feeling pretty good, all things considered. I'm just really...really tired and the belly is large and in charge. And dropping, from what I've been told.

Also, I'm drooling over all the spring clothes and totally sick of the few pieces of maternity clothing that still fit comfortably. I can't wait to go shopping. And drink wine. And run.

And cuddle this new baby, obviously. We're at a point in the baby's room where really, all that needs to happen is for us to know what gender will inhabit it. We have two sets of sheets ready to go, and a wish list filled with matching curtains, a crib skirt and wall art. And the type-A momma in me desperately wants to organize the tubs full of Hannah's old clothes that are currently stacked in the middle of the room. But alas, we're not sure if we need them yet. (Trust me, not knowing is awesome, but it's also torture in the only way torture can ever be positive.)

To distract myself, I packed my hospital bag this weekend. When I did this in anticipation of Hannah's delivery, I really had no clue what to bring. I scoured the Internet for ideas and quickly realized that no two lists were alike. There were a lot of consistent items, but really, it boiled down to me bringing what I thought would make me comfortable. Looking back, I realize that I brought some things I probably didn't need to (like my pump and underwear). So this time around, I was a bit more strategic in my approach.

I realize that this topic breaks from the fitness tradition around here, but I thought it would be fun to share my list with you. Because if I can help one of you answer the "what should I bring" question, then it's worth it.

Let's take a look:

I got crafty and made Hannah a baby book, so I followed suit and made one for this new baby, too. There's a page in it that lets our visitors leave a message, so I packed that with a decent pen. If your baby book has a similar page, or a page for footprints, totally bring it! So fun to look back on those early memories.

Note: If you have a birth plan, you should definitely stick a copy of that in your baby book. I had one with me last time, but never pulled it out. I found that the nurses asked all the right questions when I got there (and ultimately remembered the answers). And if we're being honest, these things never go as planned. But still, you have to bring what makes you comfortable. Right?

Speaking of comfort, bring your favorites for that post-delivery shower.

My bag of travel-size toiletries is always packed with essentials and ready to go, so I threw that in the bag with a loofah and some flip flops (for the shower and for walking around). You might also consider bringing some slippers and a pair of socks. I added my makeup bag, although I'm not sure if I'll even use it. I didn't last time, mostly because I'm totally fine going without, but if I'm feeling good and have a moment, I might feel so inclined to spice up my appearance. Why not.

Note: I definitely did not pack a hair dryer or any styling products. I had neither time nor energy for that last time! I'll pack my comb and ponytail holder. That's all I'll need.

And this is all baby will really need:

The only thing I brought for Hannah was her going-home outfit. This time around, I threw in two swaddling blankets (a pink one, just in case) and a few white onesies. Obviously the hospital will cover up your baby with the standard fare. I remember the onesies being huge on Hannah, hence the few that I packed. I may or may not actually use them, but it will be nice to have a softer (and way cuter) blanket on hand.

Also, the nail clippers and file. This is the one thing (besides food) that I made my husband run out to get. Hannah came out with really long nails and the hospital staff wouldn't cut them down for me...and they didn't have a nail file/clippers that I could use to do it myself. So I threw the two in with my toiletries, just in case.

Note: You could also bring head gear for the baby, like bows or hats. I'm still trying to locate the white one I had for Hannah. And I'm hoping there are still kind, little old ladies out there somewhere making hats and donating them to our hospital for all the babies. I absolutely loved the one Hannah came home with. Total preciousness.

Let's focus on momma again, though: I definitely did not need my pump last time, which is why that's still tucked away. And if, for some reason, I do end up needing one this time around, I know for sure the hospital can provide one. Probably a hand-held cheapo, but it'll get the job done. I did, however, throw in the following:

My favorite nursing pads and cream because I remember using both while I was still in the hospital—they might even give you samples! And the nursing cover, I didn't have that with me last time but might have actually used it (so as not to embarrass one of our guy friends that stopped by and ultimately had to hide behind a curtain while I fed Hannah).

During labor and delivery, and that first day postpartum, I hung out in hospital garb was just easier. And then I made the switch to real clothing. Not knowing exactly what I'll want, or what the temperature will be like when we leave the hospital, I threw in a few long maxi dresses, some leggings, and some flowy, super comfy lounge pants. All with easy access tops and a couple of nursing bras.

Whatever you decide to bring, make sure it's A) comfortable, and B) dark because the potential for messy leaks is great. Sorry to be so graphic. Which brings me to this point: They're not stylish, but those granny hospital panties are awesome. At least from what I remember. I wore those for a few days post-Hannah.

And finally, I packed this:

Snacks, baby. Because I just can't eat on a breakfast/lunch/dinner schedule. If I'm hungry, I need food. I obviously won't be eating much of this during labor (although I'm hoping they let me drink my Cocogo), but afterwards, when the kitchen isn't delivering...the more options my hungry self will have, the better. Some options are healthy, some are more for comfort...and there are a few things thrown in there for Hannah and Jason, too. Just in case.

If only I could pack an iced vanilla macchiato from Starbucks.
Might have to send someone out for that one (mom).

Not pictured: Our camera, my wallet and phone (and charger), and my pillow. And any other snacks I throw in between now and go-time.

Question: What tips can you offer for packing a hospital bag? Anything I'm not bringing that I absolutely should? Anything that I'm bringing that you didn't need during your stay?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Inside versus outside self: Are they in sync? (#pinspirationthursday)

We tend to obsess over the mirror, right? Try to walk by one and NOT look at yourself. I mean, it's hard. And almost completely natural. But it's not always healthy because we start to judge ourselves by what we see, and then what we see is eventually distorted by the self-judgement. Remember: Mirrors tell the truth, and our minds interpret that truth. So don't let the mind misinterpret the mirror.

Pin / Source
Let's take this concept one step further: A lot of times, we exercise to fit into jeans or to look good in a bathing suit. Maybe we want our muscles to pop perfectly to impress others. But seriously, is that logical? Is that really why we should be exercising? Because honestly, that's the result of the outside falling into place. But the outside won't fall into place if the inside isn't right. Thank you, Eckhart Tolle.

So exercise to be healthy. Exercise for everything within the skin, not for what the skin looks like on the outside in the mirror.  When you make life changes to incorporate good health and wellness, that's truly when you'll feel a difference. And when you can feel the difference, that's when you'll start seeing it, too.

That's when you'll be in sync.

And that's all I've got for today, so bye-bye-bye!
(Cue the boyband reference. #nsyncforever)

Question: Why do you exercise?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Adventures in Making #FreezerMeals, Part 2

Two weekends ago, I started stocking our freezer with meals for post-baby consumption. I didn't do this with Hannah, but wanted to make things a little easier on myself this time around, so I took to the Internet and came up with a plan. It was largely inspired by Kelly of New Leaf Wellness and her fab cookbooks. I intended to get all the meals made in one fell swoop, but that didn't happen for various reasons so I chipped away at the freezer meal prep across these last two weeks. Here's what my freezer looks like right now:

I know there's room for more, but this will surely last us quite some time. In the summer months, Jason tends to take over by cooking dinner on the grill, which I love. So I'm sure we'll have many a-meal that way, too. To prep for that, I'm going to start picking up whatever grill-worthy items are on sale and freezing a few so we can avoid making too many last-minute trips to the store for brats and burger meat. And I'll also watch the sales for healthy sides, like these frozen steam-in-bag rice concoctions:

Sans gunk, they make a really nice addition to any meal. I've also got a few boil-in-bag brown rice packets that will be good for the meatballs and the teriyaki chicken. So, I'm stocking up in a way that makes sense without going overboard. I'm not trying to eliminate the cooking process because that would be boring. I'm just trying to take the edge off when the afternoons get away from me those first few weeks, as I'm sure they will. 

Some thoughts on making freezer meals:

1) Do your research.
Planning ahead really, truly makes this whole process a successful one. Figure out what you want to make, how much of it you want to make, and make a list accordingly. If you walk into the store as an organized cook, you'll be much better off in the end. And don't forget to shop your own kitchen first so you don't spend money on ingredients that you already have.

2) Dedicate your shopping trip to freezer meals.
Save the weekly gets for another trip. That way, you can budget better...and you can stay on-task with the freezer meals and not get distracted by what's for dinner. Because, let's be honest, it's virtually impossible to keep those grocery carts organized and/or separated. And then suddenly, you've spent way more than you budgeted for.

3) Get a chopper. 
When you prep a bunch of meals at once, all signs point to putting your knife to a cutting board at a frequent rate. Some people love this, I get tired of it. (I'm not the quickest of cutters, to be honest.) So if you can, pick up a chopper like this:

They're generally not that expensive, but will seriously trim your time in the kitchen. And you'll use it again, I promise. It seems like cheating to those of you that take pride in your culinary skills, I'm sure, but seriously...they're the best. You can find the above at Bed, Bath & Beyond (or on Amazon). I've also had the Vidalia Chop Wizard, which gets the job done but has broken on me twice. I think the Sharper Image version show above will last longer...seems to be better constructed (and offers an awesome slice option, which the Vidalia does not).

4) Do whatever you can to remove as much air as possible from the freezer bags.
This is key to keeping your freezer meals good for quite some time. But it's a hard process if you don't have a machine that does it for you. Just be sure to do your best. Fold, squeeze, refold and re-squeeze. You'll make it happen. And then, make sure everything lies flat in your freezer for better use of storage space. 

5) If you can't dedicate a day to making freezer meals, make them a part of your daily meal prep. 
For example, when I made the lasagna roll-ups, I ended up having three extra that didn't fit into the pan. Rather than freeze them, I threw them in the oven and we ate them for dinner. If you know that this is the way you'll have to go about it, plan ahead and buy extra ingredients. Freeze one, eat one!

6) If you can, freeze things individually wrapped. 
Obviously this won't work with casseroles and slow cooker meals, but I've always wrapped our frozen burritos individually. And Kelly suggested the same with her calzones (that I can't wait to eat). Because then, you can pull one out for lunch.And they won't stick together. Or fall apart when you're putting them in the freezer bag.

I'm sure there are puh-lenty of tips I can add to this list, most of which Kelly covers in her cookbook. Just remember this: Almost any recipe (translation: family favorite) can be converted to a freezer meal. So make what sounds good, what your family loves, and what your family can afford. Because those three things combine into a delicious meal every time.

Question: What is your favorite cooking that you don't really need, but can't live without?

Monday, May 12, 2014


I'm really not sure how to start this post as my heart and mind are heavy with thoughts great and small. I intended to write about freezer meals, but instead, I'll reflect on yesterday.

First—Moms of the world, I salute you! As baby continues to make itself known in mah big ol' belly, I can't help but marvel in this role I'm still getting used to. Me...a mother. Of two kids. (Say what?) I look at Hannah every single day and have to pinch myself. She's a beautiful, wonderful child that will be an incredible big sister. I'm spending these last few days of my pregnancy soaking up every last second I get with her and her alone because soon, I'll have to share myself and those moments alone with her will come just a bit fewer and further in between. How can one share themselves with two children equally? I know it can be done, proof created by my own mother.

I know I can do it, too. It will come naturally, right?

It's amazing how the heart always makes room for more.

Even if that "more" is a bit sad by nature: This past weekend, my Grandpa passed away because of complications that resulted from an open-heart surgery. It was unexpected, we all thought he'd pull through. But life is full of twists and turns, and so...we move forward with our memories of a jolly man that loved to dance.

He was fiercely proud of his American Indian heritage, taught me how to fish—he even hooked the worms for me—and he was always full of jokes and sarcasm, the kind that would leave you smiling. He leaves behind a life story that won't soon be forgotten, and we already know he's up there in Heaven. "Can't wait to hear about that baby," was the last thing he said to me as I hugged him goodbye in the hospital the day before his surgery. But now, joke's on me because I'm sure he found a way to find out what this precious bundle will be.

Not fair, Gramps! Don't send me any signs! 
You just keep teachin' those angels how to fish and keep your secret safe!

Whether or not you believe in an afterlife above, you can certainly stand behind the idea that a life never ends with death. A life lives on in the families and friends who embrace the memories of the soul departed, and that's surely what I intend to do for my Gramps.

Tomorrow, we talk about freezer meals.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Why Doing Good Is Good for Your Health (#Infographic)

Did you know that, way back in February, we celebrated Random Acts of Kindness week? Seems kind of silly to devote just one week to honoring the act of doing good. I mean, shouldn't it be a part of our everyday lives? The answer: Yes. The truth: We get so caught up in the hustle-bustle of daily activity that we forget about others. We forget to hold the door open as we rush into Starbucks, or we forget to bring a buck for the church donation basket. It happens, that's life, but guess what: Doing good is, well...good for your health!

According to the following infographic, "people who volunteer tend to experience fewer aches and pains, better overall physical health and less depression." Whether or not that's a valid, scientific claim cannot be said for sure, but is there any risk in assuming acts of kindness return the favor? I mean, I'll hold the door open if there's even a slight chance my mood will shift.

Behold, 25 random acts of kindness worth trying out. Because even if doing good doesn't help your health, it goes a long way toward the happiness of someone else in need. That alone makes doing good worth it, right? So when you're out running errands today or doing whatever it is you do on a Saturday, try incorporating some of the following into your day.

Question: Have you ever been on the receiving end of a completely random act of kindness? Tell me what happened!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

You are beautiful. (#pinspirationthursday)

I pinned the following quote a few weeks ago, knowing it was an F. Scott Fitzgerald quote. And as I sat down to write this post, doing all the research to find the original source of the image, I came to this realization—I have "The Beautiful and The Damned," which is the exact book the words in the pin came from. But try as I might, I can't find the quote in the book (Internet, you are no help to me for the first time ever). The quote:

Pin / Source
I mean...right? Print this post out and hang it right by your mirror, or perhaps the door you walk out of every day, as a friendly reminder that beauty goes far beyond the skin. It's deep, and not at all created by lipstick, crunches or clothes. Beauty is what your soul is made of, and when you let that shine, it shows in your face. Your hair. Your walk. Because if you truly believe in yourself, if you truly believe that you are awesome and unique and (obviously) beautiful, then you will be. It's that simple. I swear.

Lately, I've been struggling a bit with personal image as I walk that shortened path to labor and delivery.

Comments like...

"You're really big."
"Are you full of helium?"
"That baby's gonna fall out."
"Sure there aren't twins in there?"
"Any day now, right?"
"Ha!'re ready."

 ...make me feel like a whale. I still have, as of today, a month to go until this baby is officially due. I know I'm big, but I'm a small, fit person. So pregnancy consumes me and I'm okay with that. But still, I'd be a liar if I said the "big" comments weren't stinging just a tiny bit lately, even though they weren't meant to. But as quickly as they sting me, I try hard to turn them into compliments. Because truly, I love being pregnant and I know that my body is doing an amazing, wonderful thing. And I know that I am more than this giant belly. I am a mother, carrying a child. And if that's not beautiful, then I don't even know what is.

So, go ahead. Say what you will to me, I'll laugh it off in due time.
Because I am "beautiful, deep down to my soul."

And so are you.

Question: Moms, hear any comments when you were pregnant that absolutely irked you? 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

My Favorite Running Gear (#wednesdaywonderfulz)

I'm stepping away from the traditional Workout Wednesday post to bring you a list of my favorite running gear. Lynda of fitnessmomwinecountry and Sarah of How My World Runs started a linkup as part of their Wednesday Wonderfulz series, and I thought it'd be fun to join—and I miss my running gear since it's, you know, sort of collecting dust right now because I'm currently "training" for labor and delivery.

The following products were purchased with my own money, unless otherwise noted. There is only one affiliate link, from which I receive product for purchases made. Never fear, I openly and honestly disclose any and all relationships with the brands I mention.

Let's start with my favorite running shoes.

Last year, as I was getting ready to start training for the Indy Women's Half Marathon, I was chosen via FitFluential to receive a pair of Mizuno Wave Sayonara running shoes. Since my last pair was exhausted from the Chicago Women's Half Marathon, I couldn't have been more excited—except I could. The shoes turned out to be completely wonderful. Lightweight, yet full of support. And totally hot to the eyes. I continued to run in them after Indy, and will most likely seek out another pair when I start training again after Baby is born. *raises hand: New fan of Mizuno, right here.

But you can't have shoes without clothes, right?

I am a huge fan of running in skirts. Mostly because I hate running in shorts. I mean, I'll run in capris or tights, too. But comfortable. They don't fall down. And if the little booty shorts ride up a bit or feel too short, it doesn't matter because the skirt covers it. Maybe it's the former cheerleader in me. Or maybe they're just that comfortable. And cute. Whenever I hit up TJMaxx, I look for new running skirts. Haven't seen any yet this year, but that's fine with me because I can't really buy clothes right now (ugh).

There's also absolutely no way I'd be able to fit my FlipBelt around my waist.

Seriously, it's the best running belt I've ever worn. They sent me one to review, and I tell every runner I know that they must purchase one. Not because I get a kick back, but because the FlipBelt is just that awesome. It doesn't bounce, ride up or jiggle. It stays put and so does your gear. I carry my iPhone in it. And fuel:

So I'm not really a huge fan of all the gels and chews that a lot of runners use. They're often full of gunk, and they sometimes give me a stomach ache, which is never a good thing on a run. So I've taken to carrying GoGo Squeeze applesauce. It's delicious and pure, and seems to be just what I need to keep going. Now, last summer, I downed Nuun mid-run to refocus the hydration/electrolyte balance. It worked, but I've recently discovered Cocogo. While I have yet to test it out on a run, it's been keeping me hydrated throughout this pregnancy so I expect it'll get the job done—Which is why I've signed on to be an ambassador. If you're interested in trying it out for yourself, you can use ADAILYDOSEOFFIT at STORE.COCOGO.COM to save 40%.

It comes in little powder packets, which need to be added to your water...which needs to be added to a water bottle. I use this one:

It's a hand-held 10oz. Sprint bottle from FuelBelt. I bought it (literally) the night before I ran the Chicago Women's Half last summer. I was ill prepared for temps that would be almost too dangerous to race, so I bought it on a whim when I picked up my race packet. So glad I did because I've certainly gotten my money's worth. The little packet is awesome for your hydration packets, and can even fit an ID or cash. And, I mean, it's pink and adorable.

Not so adorable, this foam roller:

What is a foam roller? Your best friend and your worst nightmare in one completely essential piece of fitness equipment. Especially if you're a runner. The foam roller, no matter which one you have, will relieve tired and tight muscles which so commonly come to fruition after long bouts of running. Get one, seriously. They're worth every penny. And the IT band roll...make it a part of your repertoire of running stretches every single time.

Now, you tell me:

Question: What is your favorite running gear?


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