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St Maarten

Last stop on our cruise was St Maarten. This place ended up being our favorite, simply for the adventure we chose to partake in ….

SCUBA DIVING!

Now… we aren’t certified, but turns out you don’t need to be to “try it out”. We did Discover Scuba, which allowed us to get our entire bodies feet wet into the sport of scuba diving. We didn’t do this excursion through the cruise line, but rather found a place nearby the port that offered such lessons.

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We went to Divi Little Bay– a beautiful resort, where we found the little hut that would be our school for a few hours. We met our instructor, Milica, and it was just me and Ryan in the class which worked out perfect. After a brief video, we took a quiz, and received instructions from our guide about all that we would be trying that day. We learned the basic hand signals, some do’s and don’ts, and before we knew it we were putting our gear on!

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Holy moly is the gear heavy. We wore a wetsuit, a weighted belt, the TANK, and carried our fins and mask out to the water. I literally had to walk at a 90 degree angle to “comfortably” walk with that tank on my back.

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Once at the edge of the water, we threw on our flippers and waded in, before flipping onto our backs to swim out a little deeper. (To save you from asking a dumb question if you go diving: no you can’t swim the normal way – belly down – she told me to try it and yeah….)

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Once we had a good amount of water below us, we put the rest of the gear on and got ready for some tasks. We were required to complete certain tasks underwater before taking off and actually scuba diving. They included: 1. emptying a water-filled mask. 2. taking out our air gauge and recovering it. 3. removing the regulator, putting it back in, and clearing the air.

Before even completing the tasks she wanted us to breathe underwater for a bit. That is the most important thing to remember! Never. stop. breathing. You’re welcome for that non-obvious bit of info 🙂 Well, turns out I am terrible at breathing under water. I kept wanting to breathe through my nose, which obviously isn’t going to work because of the mask. I found myself breathing so hard (which is different from deep breathing aka what you’re supposed to do) that I felt I was overworking myself and this lead to panic mode.

Prior to this scuba sesh, I thought my main fear would be sharks. Nope. I coulda cared less if Jaws was 10 feet from me during that time. I was so fearful of breathing underwater! I didn’t think I’d struggle so hard but I did. Ryan was a freaking sand shark from the moment he first went underwater. Great job bro.

So anyway, once me and my homegirl Milica did the sink down/swim up/repeat routine till we were both worn, we were ready to rock. Funny moment: she handed me a sea shell on my 239th attempt at breathing underwater, and I took this to be a calming gesture. Like… calm the heck down and let this seashell soothe you. I took it wondering if this was the reason, then kinda laughed (with my mouth tightly gripped around the regulator) and immediately relaxed a bit. Seashells! Who knew!

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Once Ryan and I both showed off our 3 tasks flawlessly, it was go time! The 3 of us spent 40 minutes underwater straight! It was A-MA-ZING. We were only 20 feet deep for most of the journey, but it felt like we were in a total different world. We meandered around the bay while Milica pointed out different fish (there are hand signals we learned for certain fish, so it was fun seeing her do them), rescued Ryan from fire coral, had us check our gauges, and reminded us to regulate. While I felt that I was breathing like Darth Vader the majority of the time, I was still a heck of a lot more relaxed than the beginning, and thoroughly enjoyed the swim.

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Ryan used the go pro to capture mostly video, and we were in awe of how clear it turned out (see above pic) and also how well you could hear the water. All the bubbles we formed were audible. Incredible. Sorry but I’m not tech enough to add video to the blog.

When we all surfaced to the top, Ryan and I were elated, asking our instructor all sorts of questions, and eager to do more. I was sad to be done, but proud I had stepped out of my comfort zone a little. The deep blue is kinda terrifying to me, and I felt a bit empowered that I swam along the ocean floor like a champ (okay, debatable).

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Once on shore, we said our goodbyes then headed to a bar for some snacks and drinks before heading back to the ship.

This experience definitely had us wanting more, and we have plans to become scuba certified pretty soon! Hopefully I’ll finally get it down that the “thumbs up” sign means I need to rise to the surface… not I’m doing fine. Poor Milica.

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Tell me….

Are you scuba certified?

–If so, tips for a beginner please!!

Ever do something adventurous that helped you overcome a fear? Tell me about it!

Antigua

St Lucia

Barbados

San Juan PR

Big thanks to our friends Michelle and Adam for lending us their Go Pro for the trip! We had too much fun with that thing!

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Antigua

Next port of call: Antigua! Here, we booked an excursion through our ship to go horse back riding. Neither of us are huge fans of riding horses, but we thought it’d be a neat way to see the island PLUS you get a chance to ride bareback in to the ocean. Cool enough for us!

Once we found our group, we took a quick bus ride to the place our riding journey would begin. Ryan left his sunglasses on the boat, so he had to purchase a pair … he reminded me of someone from the Jersey Shore in them, and I made fun of him all day.

After brief instructions from our guide, we were all placed onto horses and lined up to begin. The journey itself was pretty quiet, as there were lots of us and obviously the tour guide couldn’t shout things from where he was located. But that was fine… it was nice to relax a bit while taking in the scenery ourselves.

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We rode on dirt, gravel roads, the sand, and later the water… these horses were masters of all terrain! We stopped at one point for pictures, before winding back to the beach for the opportunity to bareback into the ocean.

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Being bareback was really different! You hold on to their mane, which I was scared hurt them, but we were reassured it does not. And not having a saddle to sit on made for an awkward sitting experience- hah!

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The water felt amazing and I bet the horses enjoy it, too. It was a quick out-and-back journey in the water, and I wish that part had lasted a bit longer. We have friends who did something similar at a different island, and they said they didn’t have a guide leading the horses in the water and the horses actually swam (ours were able to touch the bottom). So a different experience, but either way it was still really neat to ride horses in that environment.

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Afterwards was the bus ride back, however Ryan and I decided to hang out on the island for a while! We grabbed their local beer, Wadadli at a bar, and I waded in the ocean while Ryan stayed ashore a bit before joining me. I think I am slowly getting over my fear of being more than ankles-deep in the ocean…. at least in clear blue waters 🙂

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wpid-20150507_200617.jpgFormal dinner #2

Tell me….

choose one: riding bareback in the water//riding a donkey down the grand canyon (which is more terrifying)

choose another: jersey shore//teen mom (which is more terrifying)

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Barbados

After retrieving our bags back at the hotel in Old San Juan, it was time to head to our cruise port! Once on the ship, we ATE. Because that is literally all you do on a cruise, or vacation in general, and THIS girl was ready for a week of carefree eating because that is what I believe vacation is all about 🙂 Afterwards, we chilled on our balcony then later got ready for dinner.

We had one day at sea to spend, and we mostly slept, ate, and wandered the cruise ship. Party animals! Adventures of the Seas has a rock climbing wall (we stupidly never did it- and I love to rock climb!), sports courts (we played in a volleyball tourney and won medals, hah!!), multiple pools and hot tubs, a gym with a view 😉, and lots more for people to entertain themselves with. We didn’t partake in much other than volleyball, and really just acknowledged that we were on vacation and were lazy as we wanted 🙂

Started Yes Please by Amy Poehler on the plane ride and was laughing out loud so hard Ryan made me stop and save it for our balcony 🙂

Formal night numero uno

BARBADOS

This was the one stop that we didn’t have an excursion planned for. Ryan was in charge of this day’s activities, however, and we basically made our own excursion!

First stop: car rental. Ryan already booked us a rental and the rental place was right off this ship! We figured instead of messing with taxis to beach hop, we’d take control behind the wheel. And by we, I mean Ryan, and he manned the steering wheel from the right side and driving on the left side. He was a natural! The whole process terrified me.

We also had to use a map. Like an actual map that you unfold and forces you to use your geographic skillz. I was a terrible navigator but we pulled through (meaning only got lost once and did not die). We did get a car with a GPS, but man those things are kinda crap! And not reliable. Nothing like google maps on my phone 🙂

The first beach we happened upon was Bottom Bay. Gorgeous, secluded, and very scenic, Bottom Bay was a beautiful place to start.

Yes, you just viewed some GoPro pics! We have some awesome friends that lent us theirs to try out on our trip! We purchased some extra gear for it for this trip, and had a lot of fun using a tool we clearly don’t know how to use. We took approximately 1.22 million pictures and 98% of them had us laughing hard because we didn’t know we were taking pictures (hence that first one). Anyway! More of those pics lata on!

Second beach stop: Crane Beach.

Here, we ordered rum punch that we drank out of a coconut. It tasted disgusting. But an experience! Hubs brought along a picnic blanket for us to lay out on at these beaches, instead of paying for lawn chairs, and it was a great idea!

After rumming, we walked along the beach and climbed around on some rocks to get some good views of the water. The sound of waves crashing up on the rocks is incredibly soothing to me and beautiful to see.

Where we camped out for a bit.. our private little space at Crane beach

 

3rd beach stop: Worthing beach. We didn’t stay here long, but I think I passed out a bit on our blanket under a tree. I can’t hang like I used to.

4th stop: Cuz’s fish shack! Sketch as all get out if you’re walking by it BUT thanks to Travel Advisor, we found this gem of a food stand and IT WAS LIKE THE BEST FOOD WE HAD ALL TRIP. We ordered the fish sandwich with a fried egg in the middle, because that’s normal?, and their local beer Banks beer. Our biggest regret was not getting another sandwich. So so good, and “Cuz” was super nice to us when we gave him the wrong amount of money (too much) when we paid. The world needs more people like Cuz. 😉

From the shack, we walked along that beach a little bit, before deciding to head back to the cruise ship. The sun wears us out, and from all that beach hopping and sun soaking in the sand, we clearly needed a nap. Later after dinner on the ship, we attended the comedy show onboard, because we love to laugh and Two Funny Guys did not disappoint!

Tell me…

Where’s the sketchiest place you’ve gone to because Trip Advisor told you to, and what did you order??

Last time you used an actual map?

Prettiest beach you’ve visited?

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Low{er} Carb Dranks n Shakes

Hi! Remember when I put myself out there with THIS POST and said I’d be sharing more on my eatings?! Well here’s one 🙂 Later on about the changes of my chomping, but what am I gulping?!!

Previous liquid consumptions:

— diet soda

–light beer

–red wine

–margaritas

–2% milk

Light beer and red wines are still consumed on occasion, but I usually look up their carb content before drinking. Just FYI, the best red wines for ya are merlot, cabernet, and pinot noir, most are < 4 g carbs. Margaritas are a RARE treat. We’re talking… something awesome better have just happened. I do my best to stay away from sugary laden alcohol these days!

Enjoying some butter beer with Ma in Harry Potter World a couple months back. Talk about YUM. Also, a total treat.

Diet soda….ohh DC and DDP how I never thought I could break away from you. Until I discovered LA CROIX, which I also call La Crack, because I cannot get enough. While visiting my in-laws last month, my MIL was sipping away on this stuff, and I became curious. Sure DC has no carbs, but it also has a lot of crap in it to make it tasty. So anyway, I wanted to try this La Croix. I took a sip and bleh. Not yummy. Not DC/DDP. La Crap. But I noticed it immediately fixed my “need” for carbonation! Wuuuuut. Apparently that’s all my body really craves… a little carbonation kick! While its not nearly as tasty or sweet as a soda or diet soda… it’s ingredients contain water + natural flavoring (which yes, I know can be questionable) but its instead of fakey fake sugar names that will poison my body. I do get soda cravings, but as soon as I take a few sips of La Croix BAM they’re gone. I am about 6-weeks strong of no diet soda you guys! Seriously a miracle worker and I’m in the middle of writing a book about it.

I have traded in cows milk for almond milk! I don’t drink it straight, but it goes in my coffee, smoothies or protein shakes. Unsweetened vanilla almond milk is where it is at. Touch of sweetness and we’re talking 1g of carbs verses 13g in 2% cows milk.

Protein shakes! So as if I haven’t bugged you enough that I heart strength training now, I’m telling you again.. I lift weights 🙂 My hubs pushed me to replenish quickly with protein after a workout, and now I simply drink it during or right after a weights session. Shout-outs to my favorite: EAS lean chocolate, SLAP peanut butter, BodyTech cookies n cream! I mix 1 or 2 scoops with water or almond milk and add some ice!

Smoothies: these are rare, mainly because I know I’m too lazy to clean the dang blender. But they also contain a lot of sugar, which is why I try to make them at home more often than purchase them. I typically add: frozen fruit such as mango/peach/blueberries/strawberries, ice, unsweet vanilla almond milk, and cinnamon. I use to add yogurt for a more creamy texture, but that itself is high in carbs and sugar, and I find I like smoothies just as much without it.

H2O– oh, should probably mention this liquid, huh?! I honestly almost published this post without it, and that’s probably why I forget to drink it so much! I try to put in an effort to drink 3 glasses a day (I know…and that’s on a good day) but I tend to forget. But if I’m going in for the kill with a second cup of joe in the a.m., I drink a glass of water first. I do stupid games like that in order to get myself to drink more water.

Tell me….

What is on your typical drink list throughout the week??

Do you drink enough water?

-me, nope.

Related: More Kitch, Less Crunch

ps, in case you’re concerned, I bring up coffee in a later post.

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More Kitch, Less Crunch: My Journey To Find My Abs

Whale, Whale, Whale, do I have a post that has been in the works for YOU.

Disclaimer #1: I am not a Physician/Registered Dietician/Nutritionist of any sort. This post (and following related posts) is simply my way of going about nailing my nutrition and finding what is right for my body. Consult with an appropriate health professional if you are looking to make a drastic change in your diet.

Disclaimer #2: I do not think I am fat. I’ve never thought I was fat. I did not do this to lower my number on the scale. We all have parts of our bodies/lifestyles we’d like to improve upon, and this post is just about that.

Disclaimer #3: Any specific brand I talk about (mostly in later posts) is simply a brand I like; none of these are paid advertisements. Darn.

So here goes… this post is kinda lengthy, so grab a cup of coffee (sans flavored creamer and sugar)…

Shortly after my half marathon this last October, I felt a great sense of achievement. I trained hard and ran hard to reach my goal of running 13.1 miles in under 2 hours. I was happy with what my body was able to do physically, but not how I felt physically. I couldn’t understand why, with all the cardio I had been doing, I could not obtain the one thing keeping me from feeling confident with my body: a flatter stomach.

Unroll those eyes of yours, my friend, I did in fact have a slightly squishy middle…. I have been a master at hiding my stomach since hitting puberty in junior high and seeing any weight I gain go straight to my belly. I’m relatively good at picking clothes that hide the troublesome spots and show off the areas I’m more confident with (i.e. my arms). We all do this, don’t we ladies? 😉

Exercise-wise (that’s fun to say) I am on it. I love to exercise for the sweat, the endorphins, and as a hobby… seriously, what do other people do at 7am on Saturdays if not a 5k? I’m all about a workout and I hope I always am. But, FOOD. Ah, yes, food is the topic of this particular post.

Food isn’t half the battle for me, it IS the battle. Exercise is something I love and never feel like I need to do it, I want to do it! And then I also want to eat the entire kitchen when I’m through, especially the sweets and carbs. So my biggest battle in belittling my belly bulge was eating the RIGHT foods, which was not an easy task for this girl.

I’m pretty sure my entire life I’ve taken the “oh I workout and run lots and am young, so basically I can eat whatever I want” approach. As much as I took care of the outward physical aspect of my life, I hadn’t been putting too much consideration into what I put in my body. I had often heard “abs are made in the kitchen” or your bod’s results are “80% diet, 20% exercise” . Turns out, these sayings are pretty darn accurate. You can do 500 crunches a night, but unless you’re eating the right foods, all you’ll be left with is a sore tummy and nothing to show for it.

It was time to make a change. And not a 30 day change, or a new years resolution, not a cleanse, not a ton of supplements and celebrity-type juice fests. A lifestyle change. I want to permanently feed my body good foods, foods it has been wanting and needing. And get rid of the unnecessary amount of bad foods I put in it. Something switched in me, seemingly overnight, and I became committed. My husband even told me: “I’ve seen you train really hard for a race, but your diet is something I’ve never seen you work hard for. I’m proud of you.” Bam, that’s all it took. All in.

I will always indulge for special occasions. Always. If a friend bakes brownies, I’ll eat one. Or two. I’m not rude. But I’m talking every-day food. Taking a look at what I eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, my snacks and my drinking… what stood out to me most were CARBS.  I have always overdone it in the carbohydrate department. To be honest, I’m pretty good at hitting up all the food categories, but carbs are where I know it gets out of hand. I can’t eat one handful of chips, or one cookie, or one roll at a restaurant. I had very little control. I needed to cut back. So I did.

Thankfully, no specific medical problem had me turning my diet around- this was by choice. Don’t get me wrong, this definitely made my body feel better and I think it’s what it has wanted all along, but no diagnosis led me to having to reduce my intake of certain foods. I will say, I visited my primary and told her all about what I was up to- yes, I consulted a physician 😉, and she noted that with my family history of cancer, reducing my carb and sugar intake is something I should be doing anyway! Homegirl went through like 2391 years of schooling, so I figured I should tune in and take her advice.

I knew this wasn’t going to be an easy transition, and that I’d have to put some actual effort into the kitchen and restaurant-menu-choices if I wanted to see improvement. I really wanted to work hard to achieve the best and the healthiest my body can handle. Notice I say my best bod. I didn’t find a pic of a fitness model in a magazine to compare myself to, or scroll through girls’ post gym selfies on Instagram who probably snapped 5000 shots to get the best angle to make my goal for all this. I wanted to achieve the best physique MY body was capable of. Workin with what God gave me, ya know? Every body is different and we should embrace and love what we are given. But to me, that doesn’t mean you should just settle with how your body looks if you know you’re not taking care of it 100%. See what your body can do when you’re treating it extra right!

The Timeline:

November 2014: I made the decision to change! Just in time for the Holidays- hah! For one week, I counted all my carbohydrates I consumed each day. I did not alter my normal daily eating routine so that “I wouldn’t look so bad”. I ate what I normally ate. At the end of the week, I divided by 7 to get my average daily intake. I took off from there. (*Note: Thanksgiving day and Christmas day I didn’t count a thing. It’s the holidays and I enjoyed all the eats and treats with those I loved).

December 2014: I reduced how many carbs I consumed each day. I think it’s important to note that throughout this entire process I have never gone a day with zero carbs. Around mid-Dec I began to count only net carbs. You can figure out net carbs by subtracting the dietary fiber from the total carbohydrates. Dietary fiber is good -it’s derived from plants- and I didn’t want to eliminate them completely from my diet. So that is why from here on out I only focus on net carbs. Late Dec, I stopped all my counting. By this time, I had a good gist of what to eat/what not to eat. I fell into a diet regimen. I also took my first “progress pic” – below!

After 1 month of improving my diet

January 2015: Happy New Year! This month is where I finally starting seeing a real change. Approx 2 months after I started my journey. Persistence is key, you guys. Know your goal and work towards it, even if it takes weeks, months, years. I took the below pic after a 10k race (and after a big breakfast 🙂 )

February 2015: Still noticing changes in my waistline and feeling more confident in my skin!

March 2015:  From about mid-March to now, I don’t think my stomach area has changed too much, and I am taking that as a sign that my body is happy right now right where it is. I recently began a strength training program so that some definition could shine through, and I am definitely seeing a change in the muscle department- yay!

🙂 🙂 🙂 Very happy with my transformation- from just eating better foods! Pic on left was mid-November, pic on right was mid-March.

I don’t know what “diet” I’m following exactly, but I plan to make it my lifestyle. It’s my goal and all yall reading better keep me accountable! My new way of eating is low carb, but mostly just grain-free, and cupcake and sweet treats are acceptable time to time. I’ll call it the Molly diet. Official definition: a lifestyle change where a blogger named Molly Rose who apparently goes places is getting rid of what used to take up most of her diet including cereals, pasta, and breadbreadbread and trying to find the right foods that make her and her body happy, allowing her to shape the best body she can, and still enjoy sweets so she doesn’t kill anyone. 🙂

TIPS: for following a new eating plan

Say NO to excuses: Oh it’s the weekend, Oh its been a long hard day at work, Oh my girlfriends are in town, Oh it’s Tuesday. Just stop, you should’ve started eating better yesterday. (<– I say that with love, I promise)

Be realistic: I wasn’t skinnier the day after I started my diet. And guess what?… I wasn’t the next day either. I had to accept that it was going to take a while to achieve my goal. Today in this world, we have become painfully impatient. Pills and wraps and other shenanigans for quick yet “long-lasting” results. Some things take time. Accept it and get over it and work for it. Did that make me sound like Jillian Michaels? Typing that made me feel like Jillian Michaels.

ExerciseAdding in exercise with a clean eating diet will only help you get to those results quicker, plus exercise gives you endorphins so you kill no one. But don’t treat exercise as an excuse to eat junk. I used to “treat” myself after a good workout. Ran 7 miles? Obviously this warrants a Cinnamon Dolce Latte from Starbucks. Or an extra slice of pizza that night. No. Workout hard, then eat the right foods to recover. That’s a new one for me, guys! Ha! That’s how you will see results, and I have my hubs to thank for encouraging me to pick the right things to eat after a run or a workout.  You can’t out-exercise a bad diet!

Cook: Ryan and I found it pretty darn difficult to go out to eat. I’d say we went out for dinner about 3x a week before all this. This opened our eyes regarding just how much 1. money we spent on going out and 2. an overdose of carbs are in nearly every meal they serve at restaurants.  When you eliminate the option to go out to eat, cooking becomes a lot more fun. I got crafty in the kitch, and have made some real winners for me and Ryan.

Reap the Benefits: I am more confident with myself as a whole. My skin has cleared up even if just a tiny bit. My blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol are all a bit lower too, although they were already normal before. I’ve been able to share some healthy recipes with others, which makes me feel like I’m doing others a favor as well. I feel I’m taking better care of my husband by cooking more often, which makes me feel like a better wife. I feel like I’m doing my future self a big favor. The feelings are great and make me want to continue all this.

What I Still Need To Work On:

Controlling myself in front of sweets. My defense level when it’s me versus a fro-yo joint is currently 8%. #allthetoppings

More water, kick the soda. Diet coke is my frenemy. I throw one back prob 3-4x a week, and I want to eliminate it for good. (Tips from any of you that have done it? Do you cry at night sometimes?)

Eat slooooower. I’m a fast eater, always have been. But I also used to always eat all the carbs, and I demolished that habit! So I know I just need to work on being mindful when eating.

Close the kitch after dark. I eat enough food throughout the day to not be hungry later on at night, but snacks call to me around 9:37 pm each night. I think about all the choices sitting there waiting for me to pick them. I feel bad for them! So I eat them. 😉 Late night eating is not good, especially since I’m eating plenty during the day. Gotta work on that.

So What Now?!

I ain’t stoppin! I want that 6-pack! 😉 I want to bring back in some carbs- the right kind, such as sweet potatoes and oatmeal, both of which I’ve eliminated for the time being- and also enjoy pizza again. But more like once a month, not once a week like before. All other grains, such as pasta, rice, cereals, and bread for sandwiches, I seriously do not miss. Which seems CRAZY to me since that was the majority of what I ate prior to this change in my diet. But I don’t miss them, and unless my body has some weird reaction and doc tells me otherwise, I really don’t think I’ll be eating too much of those again.

I am currently doing a 5-6 day/week strength training program (see recent LiveFit post), while still enjoying and continuously learning how to eat in my new lifestyle. I am hoping that combining strength training with this healthier diet, I will see defined results and show off my toned tummy… no more hiding it 🙂

Tell me….

Do you focus more on your diet or your exercise?

Have you eliminated any certain type of food/drink for good in your life? Care to share why?

{{More on what I ate before and what I eat now in following posts, stay tuned!}}

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LiveFit Phase 1 Review

For the first time I ever, I am consistently lifting weights in the gym. And I don’t hate it!

My husband has always wanted me to “lift heavy” with him at the gym (our small little gym where we live… we don’t have gym memberships). Usually when I went with him, I’d do some bicep curls, stand near the squat rack to look really tough, and then hop on the treadmill where I am comfortable and zone out.

While I do love to zone out on the ol tready, and still run occasionally with friends, I have put some time and effort into strength training. No, I’m not looking to become a body builder, but some tone-age would be nice. And I’d also be doing my muscles and bones a favor, too! (Logging miles at the same ol pace- aka what I fall into habit of doing- only causes muscle imbalances and isn’t so great on the bones and joints over time). Plus, its good quality “us” time for me and hubs.

I went on bodybuilding.com’s website, where they offer a TON of info on everything fitness- from strength training, to nutrition, to articles to fill your noggin with fit knowledge. After browsing through their training plans for women, I decided upon Jamie Eason’s LiveFit Trainer program.It’s divided into 3 phases, each 4 weeks long. I’m recapping on here each phase.

Phase 1 Weeks 1&2: 4 days of strength training, 3 days of rest.

I didn’t realize that week 2’s exercises were the exact same as week 1. At first, I didn’t think I’d be a fan. The same thing? Again? BUT, after 1 week I was already able to increase some of my weights.

Now for weeks 1 and 2, it’s considered the muscle endurance phase. Just getting those muscles all warmed up for what’s to come! But because Ryan is a go big or go home kinda guy, I wasn’t allowed to slack. 😉 From the website: “The goal is to prepare your muscles for a strength-training program that will also promote muscle growth. Not bodybuilder-quantity muscle, but lean, toned muscle that’ll give your body the “lines” you’ve always wanted.”

Jamie instructs you to do 3 sets of 12 each exercise, at 60% max effort. (More explanations when you read the plan.)

Favorite exercise: One arm dumbbell preacher curl (isolates the bicep really well)

Phase 1 Weeks 3&45 days of strength training, 2 days of rest.

Because life and work gets hectic, I had a harder time doing my days in order. I took one of my rest days in the middle of the week, and worked out one of the weekend days. Life happens, it’s good to be flexible.

Weeks 3 and 4 are considered muscle-building phase. The reps per set are lowered to 10, however you want to be lifting at 80% max effort (heavier weights, fewer reps).

There were some of the same exercises from the first two weeks, with some new ones thrown in to keep those muscles guessing. I feel I am a lot more comfortable adjusting gym equipment, and more confident with heavier weights.

Favorite exercise: Single-leg barbell deadlift… these left my booty sore for days!

Other stuff I’d like to add about the program:

-Jamie offers nutrition tips, as well as suggestions on WHAT to eat. It’s a big help when making my grocery list.

-I print out each day’s workout… I freaking love workbooks so this is right up my alley. I like to have a visual of what I am doing, how much I am doing, and there’s space to write your mood and anything else you want to add regarding your progress.

-It’s FREE

-Changes I’ve noticed: my arms are a bit more vein-y, which I think looks kinda cool, as long as it doesn’t get too outta control 😉 I also think my quads are getting stronger; I’ve been able to increase my weights more with lower body exercises than upper.

-So far, I think it’s a perfect tool for someone wanting a solid strength training program!

Phase 1 & Done!

Tell me…

How often do you lift weights? What % effort

Anyone love a particular training guide? Do share!

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Running Arms

A runner’s favorite form of training? Running. After all, the more you do it, the more endurance you build and the faster you get! So why do anything other than run?!
Well, apart from the muscle imbalances you are probably causing, and other forms of cardio out there that are a tad kinder to your joints (I’m talking to my own knees here), FORM is something you should focus on in running.

Whether you are pumping your arms so freaking fast at the end of a 5k, or trying your best not to slouch like an osteoporotic 90 year old woman toward the end of a marathon, you’ve probably noticed your form slacks a bit during any type of run.

Towards the end of a 5k run about a year ago… note the slouched upper body

For me, the half marathon gets me good. My body is so exhausted from staying upright for nearly 2 hours, that even without a mirror I can seriously tell I am hunching over. Bad. I have decent upper body strength so it surprises me to see the pictures that someone took afterwards.

But it also keeps me aware that strength training, particularly targeting the areas that weaken in running form, is so important. I emphasize posture and upright stance to nearly every patient I have, so it makes sense I should work on it myself for physical activity 🙂

So that brings me to: running arms. And upper back and shoulders and neck but that was too long of a post title. Here is my favorite exercise routine to do to improve my form with running:

HAMMER CURLS: this is the motion your arms go through when you’re running, so why not lift like this?! Anyone else get the “cheek to cheek” spiel in track??

(example video) … I prefer to alternate left and right, as this mimics running more.

ROW MACHINE: works your rhomboids, the muscles that give up (on me at least) after I’ve been running for a while. Think about pinching your spine with your shoulder blades… those muscles.

ELLIPTICAL, arms only!: Hopefully you have access to an elliptical that has moveable arms. You can do sprints, so no resistance and just pump as hard as you can. Or add some resistance … even level 5 can be a butt-kicker after only a few minutes! Tip: try to only move your arms, don’t invite the hips and legs to the party, keep those still. Fun fact: I hate the elliptical when used the normal way. Feels so weird.

Notice how my feet are on the plates off to the side, not on the moveable ones. Keep your head forward, but try to relax your neck. Don’t awkwardly smile with your head cocked to the side (I’m still trying to figure out how not to take cheesy pics here)

PLANK: I’m a firm believer in one’s overall strength coming from their core. If your abs and back are weak (or one side much stronger than the other!) this will throw your entire kinetic chain off. It’s what I’ve noticed most with low-back pain patients in my career. So, strengthening your core is rather important in keeping an upright posture for any activity.

Fun fact: I had no clue my shorts OR shoes had reflective parts to them until I saw this pic. Awesome. Now I can go on those midnight runs I’ve been wanting to do.

example workout: 20 alternating hammer curls (I hold 15 or 20 pounders)

10 rows (heavy weight)

5 mins elliptical- arms only

plank it for 1 min

repeat 3x

Even though I am showing you all these, and I do my best to do them at least once a week, I am one that struggles with form BAD during races (mostly towards the end). My goal is to have great form throughout a race one day, and I believe these exercises and focusing on form during running will help!

Tell me….

Have you ever noticed your form when running? What do you think?

Any tips you’ve learned from a coach regarding running form you’d like to share?!

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Gasparilla Classic: 15k + 8k

A weekend full of running over here!  Gasparilla is a huge racing event in Tampa, FL offering a variety of challenges and distances. My friend, Lauren, and I signed up for the Gasparilla Distance Classic Mich Ultra Lime Cactus Challenge- mouth full yet? 🙂 This “challenge” had us running the 15k (9.3 miles) on Saturday, and an 8k (~4.9 miles) on Sunday, for a total of 14.2 miles and a whole lotta swag

My training for the race wasn’t the best: I did shorter mileage with speed work on the treadmill a couple times a week, and I managed to fit in an 8 mile run/walk the weekend prior to the race. But this challenge wasn’t about speed or achieving a personal best, it was about enjoying the run and doing it with a close friend!

Saturday: 15k

Lauren and her fiancé came into town Friday night, we ate dinner, then hit the sack since race start was at 6:45am. We left our house at 5:45 to give us time to muddle through the traffic, find a parking spot, and get to the start line with time to spare… we cut it a bit close but didn’t feel too rushed, thank goodness!

It was dark and COLD. We’re talking 44 degrees at the start! While I do prefer cooler temps for running, it makes those first couple miles tough getting those legs warmed up. It stayed cold throughout the race, but it felt amazing in the sun during the later miles.

Lauren got a shot of the sunrise + a lil ponytail action

The start of the race was a madhouse, people dropping things, picking them up, a guy next to us tripped and fell.. awful! Race starts, especially for big races, can be dangerous so we were extra careful. Lots of bobbing, weaving, and finagling later, we felt a little more comfortable and in our own space to run.

We wanted to run the whole race together, regardless of pace. We went off of feel and simply did our best! We both agreed that the miles flew by, except for the last couple ha!, and that overall it was a great race. This was my first 15k, and Lauren’s second… she PR’d by the way, go girl!

Afterwards, we walked around a LOT, visited the expo, ate some snacks, then headed back home to eat a big breakfast with the guys. Stretching, foam rolling, and resting happened … I believe this helped us both a bunch considering we were running our butts again the next day.Sunday: 8k

The half marathon was the first race of the day on Sunday, so thankfully we got to sleep in a bit because the 8k started at 9am. Our boys came with us to this one (take note of the “sleep in” part of the previous sentence). Since we’re in Florida, 24 hours later meant a fluctuation in temperature. 60 degrees and it got HOT out there. Of course this race was later in the morning than the 15k, but man did it make a difference. Heat and humidity just slow me down, and I feel I have to work harder to maintain a consistent pace than when it’s cold out.

Lauren and I ended up splitting up during this race, pretty much right at the start (another people-madness-situation). Sticking together was a little harder this go-around, so we each ran our own race. I started pretty far back from the pace group I wanted to be near (9:00 min/mile) so I worked on getting my way up to them. I never made it, however my chip time read 9:05 avg minute miles, so I was still able to maintain the pace I wanted, even though I wasn’t able to make my way up to the pace group during the race! (I started waaaay in the back)

Dunzo at the finish line

Ryan at the end of the race: “Babe I got a great picture of you out there running…”

I felt I ran the 8k pretty strong, I didn’t exhaust myself much in the beginning, but still worked hard to get to the end. No slackin’! 🙂 Lauren and I met up with our boys through the finish line chute, grabbed amazing cold wet towels to drape on us, gatorade and our MEDALS. These bad boys were legit (always are at Gasparilla!) and we got one for the 15k, the 8k, and then the Lime Challenge

The Gasparilla Distance Classic is an excellent event, and I highly recommend the travel for anyone in FL. It’s an experience! Races for multiple distances, pace groups for nearly every speed, plenty of aid stations and really funny motivating signs (i.e. “Chaffing is HOT. call me”) The expo is excellent, Lauren and I found some great deals, we loaded up on freebies and snacks, and found our name on the huge everyone-who-is-racing board! (<–yes, correct name of it)

Even though they were in alpha order, it still took us a while to each find our names!

Our view from Jackson’s, where we brunched after the race

Gasparilla was a great way to end my winter running season! I’m not signed up for any more races at the moment- it feels weird!- but I’m okay with it and going to continue yoga, running with friends and run/walking at my leisure, and trying to get in more strength training.

Tell me….

What is the biggest race in your area? Have you ran or spectated it?

Anyone joined a pace group or have been a pace leader? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Best Buds/College Roomies/Lime Challenge Beasts

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5 Ways To Use A Foam Roller

So there’s that weird tool you may see in the gym, your physical therapist’s office, possibly at road races… and you see people torturing themselves upon it. My friends, that is a foam roller 🙂
Meet my frenemy. I call her Elvira.

I wanted to share how I use the foam roller (yes you can use it for more than just that IT band) so below you will find 5 different ways to torture relieve your muscles and get in a great post-workout sesh!

1– {{Muscle Groups}}

The most common and well-known way to use the roller. Many athletes will feel tight from training the same muscle groups over and over. If you’re not stretching/rolling you will start to feel discomfort doing the sport that you normally do. Here are the ones I feel work the best:

Tips: move along the roller slowly, find where you feel it working the most, and stay there doing smaller rolls till tightness decreases.

2– {{Posture}}

This one is “relaxing”. My roller is kind of small, so I put a pillow to support my head while the length of the roller is aligned with my spine. Pull your spine towards the roller by using those deep belly muscles; this way the entire length of your spine is in full contact with the roller- no arch in your low back. Keep knees bent, feet flat. Let your arms hang out to the side to make a T-shape and just breathe and try to relax! For those of you with desk jobs or poor posture (where you’re always hunching over), you’ll feel this one good.

Tips: Listen to one soothing song start-to-finish to help relax ya.

3– {{Lower Abdominals}}

and knees) to prepare for a lower ab workout. Gently let down one foot at a time, using the conWanna work on controlling that lower belly? Keep the previous position, but toss those legs at a 90 degree angle (both hips trol from your core muscles. Repeat back and forth, and make sure your breathing! Steady yourself with your hands at side.

Tip: if you feel you are wobbling every which way, go back to the starting point (with knees up) to regain your balance before starting back again. Going fast isn’t key here.

4– {{Plank Hold}}

As if planks weren’t hard enough, let’s through a balance act in there.Try not to let the roller bobble! Any exercise you do on an uneven surface (foam roller, BOSU ball, etc) will challenge your core.

Tip: if you’re prone to wrist pain, this may not be the best exercise. Stick with holding plank or doing push-ups with fists.

5– {{Hamstring stretch}}

If you can already reach your toes comfortably when doing a hamstring stretch, prop those ankles onto the roller and do the same. It’s a greater stretch, you’ll feel right away. No bouncing, ever, with stretching 🙂

Tip: with each breath you take, try to fold deeper into your stretch.

Tell me….

Do you own a foam roller or have you ever used one before?

What is YOUR favorite way to use the roller?

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Best Damn Race 5k: Safety Harbor

I signed up for a race nearby, another Best Damn Race!

I chose the 5k, mostly for the kind start time: 9am, versus 6:45(!) for the 10k, and 7:15 for the half marathon.

My co-worker and her husband also ran it, and I bumped into another running friend of mine, as well as Meghann. Local races for the win!

….some of the coolest therapists you will ever meet

My parents picked Ryan and I up around 8 –yep all my cheerleaders in tow!– and off we headed towards a nifty lil town called Safety Harbor, about 20 mins away from us. The race started at the Resort & Marina, ran through neighborhoods and along the water (my favorite types of races!) and finished back at a park near the marina where BDR puts on a great post-race set-up: beeeeeer, music, and great food choices from Pollo Tropical, Jimmy Johns, and Dunkin Donuts!

The race itself: perfect freaking weather. In the 50s so I chose a long sleeve and shorts to banter about in. Like I said, the course was just the way I like them, with things to look at each turn. There were minor inclines/declines to keep your legs awake, but overall a flat course. I think next year it would be fun to run the half at this race.

Everyone focused on the music and Garmins before crossing the start line. Me just posing for the blog so I can laugh at myself later.

I felt like I ran hard the whole time, however maybe too hard in the beginning. Whyyyy self, why!? Always a struggle for me. One girl I ran with/ahead of/behind for the majority of the race. I think we were in competition with each other, but could just be me 😉 Ps she ended up with super powers at the end and finished just ahead of me, womp. But she gave me a good push throughout the race- an average pace of 8:15 min/miles.

I zoomed in this one for my insta… the hashtag #likeagirl came from THIS Super Bowl commercial… ones of my faves!

Who’s face is better??? Me or Mr Swagtastic up in front?!

I believe I am going to count this as my new new personal best 5k time. My current PR is from this 5k last year, however my Garmin told me it was 3.08 miles (instead of 3.1) and I really don’t think I was in shape to run a 25:15 at that time. Plus it always bothered me it wasn’t a full 3.1 according to my stupid watch- ha! My watch is like Google. It knows everything and is always right. At the end of this race, G said “Fastest 5k!” at 25:38, so I think I’m going to stick with this race being my fastest 3.1 .

I placed well in my age division, and I felt strong and happy with that time! 5ks hurt, man! I feel like there is no time to slack during those miles… anyone else feel this way?!

Tell me…

Do you pick random people to stick with during a run to help push yourself?

Favorite race distance and why?!