' Adventures with FitNyx: 2015

Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Year in Review: Blogging

Last year, I said 2014 was a whirlwind - but I had no idea what kind of storm I'd be headed into for 2015.  Though the year started off on what seemed to be a great note (new puppy!), what followed was much less exciting (divorce, moving, etc).  I still made time to blog as much as I could, with ups and downs in my consistency as I struggled through difficult times, but here we are at the end of 2015 and I'm actually looking back on the year with pride.  As usual, I'm not as regular with my blog posts as I'd like to be, but I'm still here, I still have things to say, and what's more - the blogging is opening up doors for me that I could never imagined before starting my fitness-focused life!  For example, I never thought I'd be a published fitness writer, yet my fourth article is scheduled for print in January!  I truly believe 2016 is going to be MY YEAR!

Posts this year: 90

Race Recaps: 9

Event Recaps: 4

Product Reviews: 14

Favorite Product Reviewed: Sapphire Soul subscription boxes

Least Favorite Product Reviewed: Bulu Box subscription boxes

Giveaways: 11

Most-viewed post: Stillmotion Yoga Mat review

My favorite post: Communitas and the Racing Community OR Body Image and FitNyx

Hardest post to write: Homesick for Chicago Fitness

What I'm most proud of on the blog: I've become bolder with some of my involvements, especially on social media.  I've started participating in a linkup, the Wednesday Word, to better connect with other bloggers.  I've joined (and even led) Instagram yoga and fitness challenges, which have helped me push my own boundaries and have led to learning some surprising things about myself!  While it's sometimes hard to keep up with others who are a bit better established, I'm still working to be active in my ambassador groups and to network better with the wonderful people who make up those organizations.  With a little more dedicated time (and my own space again...  y'know, like having a desk...) I can definitely see me continuing to grow in the coming year.

What I'd like to work on in the new year: Ugh consistency again!  But I'd also like to keep exploring more ways to get active in my networking communities, to help build my personal brand.  I also have an e-book started and I'd love to actually finish writing it, and hopefully get it published, in 2016.

How did your 2015 shape up?  Was it everything you hoped it would be?  What big plans do you have for 2016?

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015 Year in Review: Racing

Since starting my running hobby in spring of 2014, my entire world has changed.  Most of the biggest changes occurred in 2015, including major relocation and the end of my marriage, and these changes tore away my focus and sometimes my drive to stay active.  I ran fewer events in 2015, but I took those events more seriously and performed far better this year than last.  I also started participating in the production side of more races and running events, which pulled me off the course and behind the scenes, but those experiences were equally (if not more) rewarding than pounding the pavement as a racer!  I'm anticipating even more major changes in 2016 (if all goes well) that may continue this trend of race production instead of race participation, but I'm definitely excited to keep racing in my heart and on my schedule.  Here's a quick breakdown of this year's running before I switch gears into 2016!

Total mileage: 117.49 miles

Month with the most mileage: June (37.27 miles)

Month with the least mileage: December (0 miles, whoops)

Longest run: 13.1 miles

Total number of races completed: 12

Number of 5k races completed: 7

5k PR time: 26:56 (Turkey Trot 5k)

Number of half marathons completed: 1

Half PR time: 2:15:37 (Sunburst Half Marathon)

Oddball distance races completed: 4 (2M, 5M x 2, 10M)

Favorite race this year: Dirty Girl 5k Mud Run

Least favorite race this year: Muddy Monk Punk the Monk 5k - but only because of the parking issues!  It was actually still a fun race!  There weren't many bad experiences this year!

Accomplishment of which I am most proud: Honestly, I'm still pretty juiced about smashing some of my previous PRs!  Knocking a half hour off my half marathon time was unbelievable, and that whole race experience was top-notch.  Then crushing my old 5k PR by over two minutes was icing on the cake!  I hardly "trained" for my races this year, in the sense that I did minimal running outside of actual races, but I was overall much more active than last year which is probably why I saw so much improvement.  Cross training (both strength and cardio) was likely the key!

Primary goal for next year:*takes a deep breath*  I believe in 2016 I am going to tackle my first marathon.  This means I might actually have to train for running, which didn't happen so much after moving this year.  I'll be looking to plan a training series and (hopefully) sticking to it, with the end goal of picking an early fall race to finally try that 26.2!

 What are some of your biggest running accomplishments (runcomplishments, can we make that a word next year?) in 2015?  What are your goals and big plans for 2016?  Who wants to run that marathon with me - and can we go to an exciting destination location for it?

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2015 Year in Review: Cross Training

In 2014, I had the wonderful advantages of working in downtown Chicago and having access to Class Pass, a combination which allowed me to try tons of different group exercise classes and diversify my cross training.  This year, though, I have not had those same advantages - but that doesn't mean I haven't found ways to stay fit and grow stronger in 2015!  The past twelve months have seen me blossom as a fitness instructor, as I've taken my Zumba Fitness classes to the next level and branched out to teach exciting new formats.  I've also taken up a couple new fitness hobbies of my own, including boxing and honest-to-goodness weight training (yup with weights and machines and everything), to round out my exercise patterns and keep me on my toes!

New Group Ex Formats: Though I received my licensing for Zumba Step in the fall of 2014, I didn't have the opportunity to actually teach the class until early 2015.  Once that class started, though, my fitness career really started to take off!  I also was able to add some boot camp classes to my schedule, and learn more about constructing and executing a strength-based class.  As my skills developed, I was asked to teach more strength classes, including Core Express (45 minutes of abs and core, yummy) and several variations on boot camps.  I received a FitTour certification for yoga, and added beginner yoga classes to my calendar.  In October, I was finally able to take a POUND licensing class, and immediately added it to my schedule!  My classes enjoy my personality, and I frequently have a full room.  I've found so much joy in teaching this year, and I'm so excited to be able to continue in some of the best gyms around in 2016!

group exercise fitness instructor Zumba step gym class

Favorite Moment as an Instructor: There have been MANY incredibly gratifying moments this past year, but my constant favorite happens to be running out of equipment due to large class size!  I'm so flattered that my classes see such high attendance rates, and though I'm sad I can't provide the same experience for the latecomers who didn't get a step or a set of Ripstix, I still get warm fuzzies every time I have a full house!

Favorite Class to Teach: At this point, it's gotta be POUND.  The fusion of cardio and bodyweight strength building has challenged my body, and the music makes me want to keep rocking all night!  Plus, let's be honest, any class in which I get to hit things is probably A+ in my book...

group exercise fitness class POUND instructor training drumming

Favorite Weight Training Exercise: Now that I actually lift, I'm digging the leg press and skullcrushers.  It's pretty cool to have arm strength for once, but it's probably time to start adding some extra weight and really making those gains...

Favorite New Cross Training Overall: Boxing!  Though it's sometimes hard to fit a session into my schedule between job hunting, job working, teaching my own classes, and physical/emotional burnout from everything I'm trying to do lately, heading over to Title Boxing and throwing an hour or two's worth of punches is a fantastic way to end the day.  It's a total body workout, and every trainer gives the session his own flavor that makes every day unique.  Nowhere else do I sweat as much as I do at boxing, which tells me just how much of a challenge it really is!

boxing muscles weight training title flex heavy bag

What I'm Most Excited for in 2016: The next teaching opportunity!  I've got a great gym with a big following right now, but there's always room for improvement.  I know I can build my current class attendance as I continue to grow as an instructor, and who knows what exciting classes I'll start teaching in the next twelve months - maybe hula, or hula hoop, or kickboxing, or TRX, or who knows!

Primary Goal for Next Year: To hone my weight training to a regular, solid routine that helps me build an overall package.  I'd especially like to see progress in my arms, but a few people have encouraged me to focus on my legs (which have a very solid foundation thanks to 25+ years of soccer) and consider competing in bodybuilding shows.  I'll probably pass on the competition, but those rock hard legs are pretty awesome...

How did you cross train in 2015?  Did you have an experience that really made an impact on your training or even on your life?  What's in store for your 2016??

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Wednesday Word: Stressful

Okay, so I already wrote a post last week about how blogging can be stressful, and it might be a little redundant to rehash too much of that, so instead I'm going to list a few things that help me EASE the stress when I start to get too bogged down in the anxiety of it all!

  • A back rub.  Especially focusing on the neck and shoulders, where I definitely carry the majority of my tension.  Throw in some oils or a good soundtrack (see below) and I'm gone, worry-free for at least a little while.
  • Easy listening music.  One of my favorite sources is the Aersia playlist online - a repository of video game music, with a subset created for the most mellow tracks.  They've even added a thunderstorm backdrop to the playlist that can be toggled on or off depending on your preference.  I've melted away to this playlist MANY times!
  • Parks and Recreation - the TV show.  With a stellar cast and amazing writing, every episode is a feel-good adventure.  In fact, there have been some psychiatrists who have started recommending Parks and Rec as an alternative to medication for some depression patients!  I'll admit I cry at some of the most beautiful moments, but it's never because of sadness, it's always from joy or happiness!  If you're new to the show, a word of caution: many new viewers don't care much for season one.  KEEP WATCHING.  By the end of season two, new cast members will replace the one you don't like (yup, I already know who it's gonna be) and you'll LOVE the results.  Oh yeah, all the gifs and pictures in this post are from P&R, too.
  • Crocheting or crafting.  Used to be knitting, but for some reason after I learned how to crochet, the hook became my zen and needles became stressful.  With most of my yarn and other supplies still in storage, I don't do as much crafting as I used to, but occasionally I find time to make a few stitches here and there, and once I'm settled into my own space again, I guarantee my craftiness will come back to play.

  • Working out or running.  Honestly, this hasn't always been true.  It didn't start until a particularly stressful event occurred a couple years ago, when I laced up my sneakers and pounded the pavement to try to get over the incident.  Exercise isn't my go-to for every stressful situation, but I do find that a good run or lifting session helps clear my mind and gives me a kind of "reset button" when I need it most.
  • A nap.  As kids, we tend to hate nap time.  It was always right in the middle of play time and that was NOT okay.  As an adult, I have a newfound appreciation for naps.  Sometimes you just need to drift off for a while before you can tackle the next item on the agenda.
Parks and Rec recreation tv show nap time april ludgate

 And there you have it!  Six things that help me relax when I'm starting to get overwhelmed.  AND I got to use half a dozen clips from one of my favorite shows!  See?  I'm feeling better already!

Deb Runs Wednesday Word

Wednesday Word is hosted and coordinated by Deb Runs! Want to see what other bloggers had to say about what they cherish in their lives? Visit the Wednesday Word linkup page and share the love with other writers. Don't forget to check back every Wednesday for an entirely new set of the Wednesday Word!

How do you handle stress?  What causes you the most stress?  What is your favorite show and why is it Parks and Rec?  ;)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Cleveland Turkey Trot 5k Race Recap

Let's be honest: running hasn't been my top priority in the past few months.  I haven't participated in a road race since early July and I definitely haven't been training with any kind of regularity.  All of my fitness has come from teaching classes, boxing, and lifting - so when I signed up for the Turkey Trot 5k to be run downtown on Thanksgiving morning, I had the feeling I wasn't going to be posting a time worth bragging about.  I just wanted to get back on the pavement, and share another fun event with my dad who decided last minute to join me (he waited to ensure the weather would be good)!

Normally, I dread the thought of running in the cold, but after last year's Hot Chocolate run on Chicago's lakefront and a quick check on the extended forecast here in Cleveland, I realized this Thanksgiving wouldn't actually be all that cold.  Come race morning, it was a little chilly, but the day was clear and beautiful, with minimal wind even downtown by the Cleveland lakefront.  Once we got moving, it was sure to be perfectly comfortable.  I wore long sleeves and leggings just in case, but was ready to shed layers or roll up sleeves if it heated up too much.  Turns out, I was perfectly dressed for the temperature, and felt comfortable throughout the entire race!  Clothing is always a concern for me in volatile temperatures, so it was great to start the day out with a small victory.

As usual, when I run with my dad, I struggle to keep up.  He runs faster than me and staying near him in a race is always a challenge.  We started towards the back of the massive pack, but by the time we got to the starting line timer pads, the crowd had already started to stretch out enough for us to move through the congestion and find some good running space.  The first portion of the course was largely downhill as we passed the Cleveland Browns Stadium, but with so many runners the tactical advantage of the downhill was largely negated by the need to bob-and-weave through the traffic!  Still, as usual my dad set a brisk pace and we found our way through many of the gaps.  And, as usual, I struggled a bit to keep up - until we suddenly passed the one mile flag.  I thought we'd only gone about half a mile, and the sudden jump in distance gave me a little extra oomph for a while.

Accurate depiction of running through the crowd.

Unfortunately, that oomph was mostly used to get up the 9th Street bridge, which is a long, not-so-gradual uphill.  We managed to keep a fairly consistent pace as I focused on putting one foot in front of the other all the way up.  Finally at the top of the hill the course leveled out and we were on flat, straight streets for the rest of the run, with only a few quick turns.  The five milers separated from the 5k runners and I started to feel like maybe I was pushing way too hard.  I had already started trailing behind my dad and was having to remind myself that mile two is always the longest, hardest section of the course for me - and then, just as suddenly and unexpectedly as the first one, I passed the flag for the end of the second mile!

Well, alright then!  I knew I was already making good time, and mile three is always time to pick it up and run down the tank.  I picked up my pace a bit, tried to eye down my dad ahead of me (I couldn't find him, too many people), and pushed hard for the finish.  Despite my early expectations to run a poor time, I started to feel like this run might get me in close to my best time.  Split clocks at every mile had reinforced my confidence as I logged roughly 9 minute miles for both sections of the course (my previous PR of 29:09 obviously would have had about 9:40 splits) so in that third mile I definitely started entertaining dreams of a new PR, as long as I could keep up the pace.  The only thing that tried to thwart me was the sudden burst of awful gusting wind with about a quarter mile to go.  I'm talking barely-able-to-move-forward gale force winds, coming at us head-on out of nowhere.  Very cold, knocking me backwards, ruining my changes at a PR horrible awful wind.

running wind staggering race 5k struggle
Actually this dude is owning it.  I didn't have so easy a time.

And then we turned for the finish line, and that gust was at my back.  I sprinted out that last tenth of a mile, finally managed to pass the guy dressed as a turkey and pushing a double stroller I'd been eyeing down for a while, and smashed through the finish line.  A quick check on my run tracker showed a time of 27:04 - more than TWO MINUTES faster than my previous PR!  When the final results were posted, I got an extra shock: my official time was 26:56!!!  This simply proves that I should ALWAYS run with my dad, as I always seem to PR when he's pushing me!

We didn't stay long after the race, hoping to beat some of the heavier traffic as the 5k wrapped up and the five milers started to cross the finish, so I grabbed some surprisingly delicious blueberry peach Nooma and a handful of Rice Krispies Treats, snagged a post-run selfie with Santa, found my dad (who finished less than a minute ahead of me) and headed home to EAT ALL THE THANKSGIVING DINNER.  Returning home with such a huge personal victory was an amazing way to start off the holiday, but now that I've cut off so much time all at once, I'm worried the next one won't be anywhere near as good!  Oh well - bring it on anyway!

Organization: Hermes runs a pretty tight ship (there's a reason they're the big fish in Cleveland's racing pond) so race registration, packet pickup at any of several Fleet Feet locations around town, and all timing logistics were smooth and simple.  There was a little expo in Public Hall along with gear check and race day registration, which looked like a madhouse but kept moving.  The race received something like 7,000 participants between the distances offered, and Hermes handled them all deftly.  The only complaint I might have about the race was that we started way behind schedule, which left many of us waiting out of range of the starting line announcements in the dark and a little confused.  Once we started running though, it hardly mattered.

The Course: I have never run in Cleveland proper before, so it was a pretty cool experience to have my first run circle the stadium and run down some of the main streets of the city.  I love downhills, but I'm not as much a fan of uphills though usually they are fated to appear together!  Still, even with the challenging elevation changes, we always had plenty of road space to find our own pace, and the entire second half of the run was completely flat.  Everything was well marked, and they even had an announcer at the 5k/five mile split, which was very much appreciated.  One water station was set just before the two mile flag, and despite being sandwiched between two turns, the aid station staff stayed spread out and kept the race flow moving smoothly.  I actually really enjoyed this run (and not only because of the PR) and am looking forward to more races in downtown Cleveland!

The Swag: My $30 late entry fee got me into the race with a long sleeve shirt that I actually found to be quite nice!  It's not performance material, but it was slightly baggy (just how I like my outer layers) and super comfortable.  I even ran in it on race day, which is highly unusual for me to do, but it was perfect for the weather and I'm very glad I chose to keep it on!  Fleet Feet provided little goodie bags too, but it was mostly ad fliers and discount codes for services I don't really need.  Post-race food and beverage was well-stocked, but official race photos come at an additional cost.  If I had registered in advance and only paid $20, I'd have gotten plenty of value out of my entry fee.  Even with the higher late fee, I can easily see where my money went and definitely consider this race a good value - though we all know FREE race photos is always the best way to improve a race's value!

The Bottom Line: What a run race!  And a great way to convince yourself you've earned that third helping of Thanksgiving feast!  Between the cool course and the energy of a big, well-run event, the Cleveland Turkey Trot is definitely on my list for next year, when I'll probably try to tackle the five mile course instead of just the 5k.  I'm also excited to participate in other Hermes events around town; they offer races all year long!

I know the post is a little late for sharing other Turkey Trot stories - so did you (or will you) run a Christmas or holiday themed race this month?  Is your holiday shopping done yet?  If you were to receive a free race entry to ANY race, which would you want most?!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Holiday Gift Guide for all your Fit Fanatics!


I honestly can't believe how quickly this year has gone by, especially considering some of the major bumps my road has had recently.  With 2016 right around the corner, I'm getting anxious for the start of a new year that is hopefully going to continue moving me towards a great future!  BUT FIRST - we have the always-exciting holiday season upon us, and that means it's time to talk about LAST MINUTE GIFT SHOPPING!  Because let's face it - we all wait until the last minute, especially when we're stuck on what to get that special someone!

My Christmas wishlist this year is pretty short: mostly I just want my divorce to wrap up, I want a steady and exciting new job, and I want to be able to live on my own again.  Did you get all that, Santa?  Mmkay, thanks.

I don't think you have anything in that black bag for me...

But really, those items don't fit under the tree, so to make it easier on my family when they (attempt to) shop for me, I have a second list which is unsurprisingly filled with fitness toys.  And that made me realize not a lot of people know what to get a fitness fanatic!  Sure there are dozens of lists from all the big retailers, but they want you to buy THEIR products, so I've put together a list of some of the fitness items that have worked for me personally, and other products I have researched and been recommended, to help you make better shopping decisions this year.  Especially since we all know us fitness freaks are very picky about our gear!

So here are some of my top picks and thoughts (by category) for this year's last minute holiday gift-a-palooza!  Warning: this post is a little long and pic-heavy!  Enjoy!


RACE ENTRIES!  Seriously, I think this might be the best gift you could give a runner in your life - many of us want to run some really cool events, but often find it difficult to come up with the funds.  Make up a coupon or some other cute way to present it, and offer to cover the entry fees for the race of their choiceOr, if you know they're eyeing a particular event or have a go-to favorite, see if you can register them early.  Destination races are a great way to gift not only a running event, but a whole vacation package, and I promise you most of us will LOVE IT!

GPS Watches or Fitness Trackers.  Modern technology is advancing so fast, there's always some hot new gadget.  I'll be honest - I haven't been thrilled with the lower-cost models like the FitBit or the Jawbone UP as they do not offer the range of features I was hoping for, but I've heard great things about the Microsoft Band 2, which has a surprisingly huge range of features for a decent price.  You can't go wrong with a Garmin device, either, but they're typically much more expensive.
Running Accessories.  There are dozens of running aides available these days, and many of those items are somewhat frivolous.  It's hard to tell what types of items are beneficial and which are just another flashy piece of crap.  From trial and error, I've found running belts (especially the FlipBelt) to actually be very useful and practical - and they make great stocking stuffers!  I'm also starting to run with a reflective vest from Tuvizo that I'm really liking so far as the days get shorter and most of my runs take place after sunset.  Other types of reflective and safety gear are excellent ideas, too.  I have an Energizer headlamp that has served me well in night races and in evening trail runs; it's adjustable, has variable brightness settings, fits comfortably, and doesn't move around while I'm running!

Subscription Boxes. Really, this is a great option for anyone thanks to the ever-increasing variety of box services available these days.  But with as is common with a growing industry, not every newcomer is ready to make the grade.  If you're looking for something for a runner, consider the Endurance Foxy Box or the Stride Box, which feature products specifically for runners.  I would personally recommend you avoid the Bulu Box, though.  It's a big name and seems to be a good bargain as one of the cheaper services, but after several months' of boxes, I have yet to be impressed (see my original review here).  Go with something you know will keep impressing your giftee!


Lifting Gloves.  Or wraps, or knee braces, or KT tape, or compression sleeves!  If your friends or loved ones love to hit the gym, the best gift ideas help them increase their gainz while also helping to keep them safe!  Do a little research on sizing before you buy, though.  I love my beautiful Sparkle and Sweat gloves (and wrist wraps) but they definitely are not as good a fit for my hand as my Brick Built gloves (review here)!  Loose gloves won't help anyone in the gym, so read reviews for sizing advice or head over to WeightLiftingGloves.com for more information on how to find your fit, plus a full range of products for men, women, Crossfitters, casual lifters - whoever!

Subscription Boxes.  Yup, this is on the list again, but I'll be brief this time.  I just wanted to point out that Foxy Boxes also has a Gym Goer box (my review here), and that other strength-based boxes such as the WODBOM for Crossfitters are available too!  In fact, there are probably more gym boxes available now than there are running boxes, so shop around and I'm sure you'll find the perfect fit!

Nutrition Accessories.  Let's be honest - gym rats tend to have at least a heightened awareness for personal nutrition, if not a total obsession.  While understanding which supplements your lifter uses may come with a steep learning curve, you can always look for items to help facilitate any nutrition plan.  Shakers such as the Blender Bottle are very easy to find, and are one of the most commonly used items in bodybuilding nutrition.  Plus, you can never have enough of them!  You might also consider a portion scale, especially if your lifter is counting macros or focusing heavily on meal prep.  A good scale can take a lot of the guesswork out of meal planning and facilitate a better overall nutrition program.


Yoga Mats.  This may seem either too obvious or not necessary ("but they already have a yoga mat!"), but rest assured, if there's someone in your life who loves yoga, a yoga mat is definitely on their list.  There are hundreds of beautiful and unique mats available, so take some time to find the right one to suit your giftee's personality or beliefs.  Try boutique-y shops like Vagabond GoodsHugger Mugger, Affirmats, or La Vie Boheme for colorful patterns and mindful businesses.  If you're looking for something with extra padding, have a look at the Stillmotion mat (my review here) for a very thick, plush alternative to a standard yoga mat.  And if they already have a mat...  Guess what?  Even yogis sweat!  Having a spare or a fresh new mat can often be a blessing when a favorite mat starts to, let's say, show signs of overuse!

Wheels or Props.  I didn't realize how useful the right props could be in my yoga practice until I got my hands on a yoga wheel (review here) this past summer, but now I can attest to just how helpful a few accessories can be in developing strength, flexibility, and relaxation in yoga.  The YogaFlex wheel has innovative grips on the inside of the wheel, but there are many other types of props as well.  The Three Minute Egg offers an alternative and versatile yoga block, shops like Halfmoon Yoga make beautiful and comfortable yoga bolsters, and the Infinity Strap is a great alternative to a traditional strap.

Subscription Boxes.  Oh come on, you had to know it was coming.  There are a handful of yoga or meditation boxes on the market, and while I've only tried Sapphire Soul (review here), I've also been impressed with what I've seen about the Yogi Surprise and BuddhiBox companies.  So, once again, consider a recurring gift that will keep giving long after the holiday season ends!


Rollers/Sticks.  Whether you're running, lifting, or stretching, roller massage is the perfect way to recover and enhance the practice.  Rollers come in various shapes and sizes, from the traditional smooth cylinder style available in both soft and hard pressure levels (try M80 for a huge selection of colors), to textured surfaces, to hard narrow roller sticks for more intense massage (like those at TriggerPoint).

Compression Gear.  Socks, sleeves, leggings, shorts, tops...  Just about everything comes in "compression" versions these days!  Compression gear helps facilitate blood flow during both activity and recovery.  Innovations in compression and recovery gear, though, are slowly starting to emerge and stand out from the standard fare, including items like the Dr Cool recovery wrap (my review here) that combines ice therapy with compression.  Compression gear is perfect for anyone from elite athletes to those just starting their fitness journey, and most compression items fit in a stocking - hint hint!

AND THERE YOU HAVE IT!  Hopefully you now have some great ideas to give all the fitness enthusiasts on your list a very merry Christmas!  I'm happy to answer any questions you may have about products I've mentioned or ideas I've generated, or hear your thoughts on other options!  See that comment form down there?  USE IT!


Monday, December 7, 2015

Blogging... can be stressful.

Most of the time, blogging is so much fun.  I love writing, I love doing things worth writing about, and I love connecting with readers and other bloggers.  But many times, especially in my past year and a half or so (since I started this blog), I end up with long gaps during which my posting is minimal or even zero, as has been the case for the past two weeks.  I always say "I'll be back soon!  I'll make better habits!  I promise!" but I have trouble fulfilling those promises.  Honestly, I always have the best intentions, but I haven't yet adhered to those intentions.

dogs blogging blog joke funny

A big part of this problem comes from the lack of stability in my life over the past 18 months or so.  Job instability has been a driving factor, especially lately.  I spend so much time piecing together part time jobs all over the city to make ends meet, and end up spending most of my non-work time driving.  When I have the opportunity to build friendships, I also prioritize those timeslots over blogging because I have yet to build myself a network here in Cleveland beyond my family.  Then there are other times when I'm sitting at home at the end of the day with time to write, but my focus is shot to hell from the rest of my schedule, and I avoid my laptop like the plague, piling up a to-do list that intimidates me every time I think about it.  Those moments when something you normally love becomes something that stresses you out?  Those are the worst, and you can easily get caught in quicksand, the self-fulfilling cycle of "too much makes me not work on things which then add to the too much which makes me not work on things!"

I try not to posit my various reasons for not blogging as excuses, but they do affect my ability to take time to blog.  What I should be doing, however, is making time to blog, since it is something I want to continue to build.  I have so many posts that are half finished or waiting in the wings to take the stage, and I'm committing right now to making the time to finish up those posts, get things moving again, and get back on track.  Look forward to seeing my race recap from the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving (spoiler alert: there's a massive PR involved), holiday shopping ideas for the fitness fanatics in your life, product reviews on some of the fun goodies I've been playing with this fall, and a couple surprise topics that may sneak their way onto the blog!

With the new year around the corner, and the divorce possibly coming closer to a settlement, I'm hoping that 2016 will finally be my year to establish stability.  Having my own place to live again will be huge, and having my own space will allow me to set up an actual work area that can facilitate my writing a little better.  I'm waiting to hear back on some exciting job opportunities that could take me closer to the things I love while also finally providing a steady paycheck.  I'm building friendships that have a lot of long term potential.  My fitness jobs are growing too, and I'm excited to see where things go over the next few months.  I genuinely believe my time is right around the corner - and I can't wait to take y'all on the next steps in my journey!

past lessons future bright motivation inspiration

Thank you, as always, for your patience.  Getting my life sorted out has been a struggle, with many ups and downs, but the latest trend has been heavily upward, and I only see that continuing as I go forward.  You'll definitely see some posts this week, and I'd also love to hear about topics you'd be interested in seeing in the new year!  Leave me some comment love and let's talk!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Couple things I missed!

Though I'm finally doing at least a *little* better about writing more consistently, I still miss some of the things I'd like to post due to changes in work or unexpected additions to my schedule.  Having my stuff stolen was a big hiccup, and during that time I missed two big announcements that I would like to take a minute to share with you now!

I was selected as one of the inaugural FitFam Ambassadors!

Formerly Gametiime, FitFam is a massive race event compendium that has upped its game to the next level.  Over the past year, the company has hosted virtual runs (including The Puppy Run and others I have helped promote) and has started to form a community of runners across the country!  I first joined Gametiime to help find local races and to share my thoughts and race recaps to help others decide which races are right for them.  Now, FitFam is getting bigger and better, starting with the FitFam Challenge to kick off 2016.  Another great virtual race, the Challenge will bring together runners, walkers, and cyclists from all over the nation to participate in what will live on as the company's flagship event.  As usual, there will be medals and great swag for every participant, and also as usual, I have a nice little discount code for anyone interested in signing up!  Use BEYOURBEST10 at registration to get 10% off the FitFam Challenge!

As a FitFam Ambassador, you'll be seeing a lot more discount codes and other cool information from me as FitFam launches an entire year full of virtual runs and other surprises.  If you haven't signed up for the site yet, hop over soon and DO IT!  It's free and it's a great tool for any level runner/walker/biker/OCR addict/whatever!

FitFam Ambassador Logo race directory virtual runs

I was interviewed on WeightLiftingGloves.Com!

Now that I'm increasing my lifting and building better cross training habits, I've found myself investigating techniques and products for the other side of the gym - that scary area outside of the group ex room with all the weights and machines!  Gearing up has led me to making connections with various companies (for example, I talked about Brick Built last week, and there are more to come), and my search for the right products put me in touch with WeightLiftingGloves.Com a month or so ago.  After talking to them about my needs for my new POUND classes, I was invited to join their ambassador program, and was featured in an interview on their website!  I've been testing a few of their products, including wrist wraps in my POUND classes, and I can't wait to share more of my discoveries as I learn about ways to make lifting safer and more productive!

weight lifting gloves ambassador logo gear equipment gym accessories

Thanks, as always, for reading!  What fun, crazy adventures or accomplishments have come up in YOUR life lately?  If you're a racer, have you checked out FitFam yet?  If you're a lifter, what kind of equipment do you use to maximize those gainz?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Brick Built Women's Lifting Gloves Product Review

Ever since I started boxing, I've been focusing much more on strength training - a.k.a, weightlifting.  Some of you may have noticed that the vast majority of my "things" are pretty heavily cardio-based, and there's a reason for that: I have always been intimidated by weightlifting.  Even back in college when my teams had mandatory weight training days, I always managed to do the bare minimum and squeak out early.  And honestly, I don't think I could actually explain what my aversion was.  Probably something like "but it's haaaaaard!"  Ugh.

weight lifting dumbbells e-card training body building

I am very proud to say I have started to overcome that admittedly pathetic excuse and am slowly building up my weightlifting routine.  My lifts are light for now, but I'm focusing on form, technique, and a well-rounded program to ensure I build the proper base.  As I started to get more serious about my gym time, I realized (as always) having proper gear might be a great asset in keeping myself safe and efficient.  Buffie over at Brick Built stepped up to help me take my game to the next level with a great pair of lifting gloves that haven't missed a gym appearance yet!

Disclaimer: I was provided a pair of training gloves free of charge in exchange for my review.  I have received no additional compensation; all opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are my own.

training gloves weight lifting gym brick built badass foam roller

While the Brick Built training gloves only come in size medium or larger, and I have tiny (let's pretend like they're dainty) hands, I found the fingers to be a very comfortable fit, and the adjustable velcro was sufficient to pull the wrists tight enough to stay secure.  The only indication that my gloves are a size too big is the extra flap of the velcro closure that sticks up off the back of my hands when I pull it tight - but that flap has yet to be in the way of any of my lifts, and I'm more concerned about the functional side than that bit of extra fabric.

The gloves extend up to the first set of knuckles, which is more than enough coverage to protect my palms and the parts of my fingers that grasp the weights.  On the middle two fingers there are flexible tabs extending from the top of the finger hole to extend the protection on the inside of your longer fingers.  The whole grip surface is covered in grippy-bumpies (is there a more technical term for this?) that prevent slippage, while the backside of the gloves have mesh to help manage sweat during the workout.  I found the inside of the gloves to be incredibly comfortable - not at all scratchy or stiff, which had been a worry when I first considered using lifting gloves!  And with the relatively good fit, I have yet to notice any blistering or chapping from my sudden increase in weight lifting action.

weight lifting collage push ups curls bench press gloves training

Overall, I'm so happy I have training gloves for my new workouts!  Wearing my gloves makes me feel more confident in my lifts.  I'm not sure if this is because I trust the extra grip and appreciate keeping my skin intact, or if the confidence is more of a psychological effect.  Strapping on my lifting gloves has become almost a mini-ritual and sends the signal to my body that it's time to work hard.  I've also noticed that I feel more like I belong in the gym, which used to be an intimidating world, when I wear my gloves.  Proper gear has me feeling like a proper gymrat!

brick built logo fitness fashion women accessories workout clothes

These gloves were fabulous for me as a newbie lifter, but they'd be equally excellent for someone more seasoned.  They're simple but effective - and they happen to make great gifts for the weight lifters, Crossfit junkies, and general fitness enthusiasts in your life!  AND, Brick Built has tons of other amazing stuff for the fit females in your life, including an amped-up new line featuring bright, bold prints and hilariously awesome new tops!

What's your favorite gym gear?  Do you lift with or without gloves?  How about handwraps?  What does "gearing up" do for your mental state when you workout?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wednesday Word: Cherish

I sat down to tackle this week's Wednesday Word and honestly found myself at a loss for words.  Today we're talking about cherishing and I was surprised to find myself struggling with the topic.  I understand the meaning of the word, both in denotation (the literal definition) and in connotation (the adapted meaning cherish has received in my own mind), but when I tried to think of things I actually cherish, I was coming up short.  Sure, I can say what everyone says: I cherish my family, the friends who have stuck by me through good times and bad, memories of amazing days or moments, and so on...  But for some reason that little list doesn't make me feel like I am truly catching the spirit of cherishing.

As many of us do when we are stuck on something, I turned to Google.  Running an image search for "cherish" brought up hundreds of inspirational quotes on fancy backgrounds, all perfectly Instagramable and ideal for tossing up in the middle of my post to add depth to my writing.  But none of them inspired me.  For example, "cherish every moment" made me scoff - I can think of hundreds of moments I will never cherish.  Not in a million years.  I can appreciate the "cherish it because you're alive and still have it better than others" mentality but that's not what makes me tick.  Naturally there's "cherish the ones you love" because that seems to make so much sense - until you look at a long history of loving people who never deserved it in the first place.  It's hard for me to cherish time that was ultimately hurtful and wasted.  Perhaps "cherish happy moments" gets through to me a bit; when I tried to think of things I actually cherish, there were flashes of smiles or a glimmer in someone's eye or a remembered sense of elation or other overwhelming emotion.  Even still, I'm not sure "fond memories" are necessarily "cherished" in my heart.

Then I found a quote from Mark Pothier, who said "don't dwell on those who let you down, cherish those who hold you up."  I honestly don't know who he is, but it's a good quote, and it helped me understand what I do truly cherish.  Surprise, surprise - it was on my original list, I just hadn't realized why it was on my list in a personal context.  So what is it that I cherish?  The very small handful of people who have, for the past decade or more, been there always.  I've gone through the wringer more than a few times over the years, and every time I come out stronger, but it's not because of me.  It's because of the people who are there supporting me, believing in me, and doing whatever they can to help.  There are many times when these people actually can't help, and they get frustrated and look for other ways.  They don't give up on me.  And that is what I cherish.  I wish I had more of these people in my life, but I am intensely grateful to have the few I do.

And to those people (you know who you are): THANK YOU.  Without you, I would have given up ages ago, and probably wouldn't even be here anymore.  I certainly wouldn't have made as much of my past few years as I have without the unrelenting support of my inner circle.  Sending big hugs to all of you, all across the world!

Deb Runs Wednesday Word

Wednesday Word is hosted and coordinated by Deb Runs! Want to see what other bloggers had to say about what they cherish in their lives? Visit the Wednesday Word linkup page and share the love with other writers. Don't forget to check back every Wednesday for an entirely new set of the Wednesday Word!

What is it that you hold dear and cherish?  Who helps you through your darkest times?