' Adventures with FitNyx: October 2015

Friday, October 30, 2015

Five Things Friday: Tips for a Healthier Halloween

Cards on the table: I LOVE CANDY.  Halloween is one of my favorite holidays because people give me free candy.  Heck, if you drove by in your sketchy white van and offered me candy, I'd be a goner, that's how much of a sucker I am for free candy.  BUT!  Now that I'm getting older and educating myself on how to manage my nutrition, I understand all that candy isn't exactly ideal for a healthy lifestyle.  Here are some great ways to enjoy the spooky, sugary holiday with a healthy mindset!

5. If you must chocolate, go dark!

Did you know that dark chocolate is chock full of nutrients, most notably fiber and key minerals?  It's also full of antioxidants and good cholesterol.  Dark chocolate is good for your brain, your heart, and your skin, too!  Look for chocolate with a cocoa content of 70% or higher to sate your sweet tooth without hurting the rest of your body.

dark chocolate candy halloween bar superfood antioxidants minerals

4. Pass out alternative treats instead of candy.

Candy doesn't have to define Halloween.  All of those frighteningly sugary treats may be tradition, but there's a great trend these days for shaking things up, so it's easy to trick kids into a healthier holiday with a different variety of treat.  Try handing out little cookie or cracker packets, pretzels, string cheese, granola bars, dried fruit, or even beef jerkey.  Many of these options are available with wholesome ingredients (check the labels) that will be far better for the trick or treaters than another handful of candy.

health snack alternative halloween shopping grocery store

3. Pass out fun prizes instead of food!

And what about non-food treats?  Who says every child who comes to your door has to walk away with something to eat?  It's so easy to buy small toys or gifts in bulk, and it's an excellent way to keep Halloween exciting and healthy.  Pass out holiday pencils, bouncy balls, temporary tattoos or stickers, little noisemakers, or many other options instead of edibles.  Plus, you'd also be helping children with allergies!  Thanks to the Teal Pumpkin Project, more and more families are helping raise awareness about food allergies and providing an equally fun and safe Halloween option for children with allergies.  If you're giving away non-food items, put a teal pumpkin out to let those kids know they have a safe haven with you!

teal pumpkin project halloween healthy safe allergy treats

2. Stay hydrated - and full!

As with any craving, a sweet tooth on Halloween can be curbed with a full stomach and plenty of fluids.  Help your kids manage their urge to overdo it on the candy by feeding them a good dinner before sending them out to trick or treat.  Take waterbottles out when going door to door, as drinking plenty of water will help keep that full feeling, preventing additional snacking.  If your child's stomach (or yours!) is full, there's less need to stuff it full of sugary candy.

halloween spooky scary dinner table setting

1. Throw a Healthy Haunts party!

Speaking of a good Halloween dinner - there are hundreds of cool recipes out there for spooky-looking food that won't settle into your love handles - and a few years ago, I managed to put together an entire party based on healthier options!  Yes, ME, *I* put together a healthy food party, which tells you exactly how easy it really is!  Spaghetti squash and some pasta sauce become guts in a bowl; hummus covered in shaved carrots makes for a beautiful pumpkin centerpiece; cut open apple slices with almond wedges become creepy monster mouths; you can even make zombie eyes from dried fruits!  Have fun, play with your food for once, and then share with your friends!

Halloween party treats squash fruit guts zombie eyes monster mouth pumpkin hummus

What are your tricks for staying healthy during the holidays?  What types of treats do you typically pass out for Halloween?  What are you dressing up as tomorrow??

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Sapphire Soul November Box GIVEAWAY

Previously, I've reviewed my first experience with the Sapphire Soul Mindful + Mystic subscription box - and I was incredibly impressed with the myriad Hamsa themed items I received!  I loved my box so much that I've kept in touch with the beautiful mind behind Sapphire Soul, and she has graciously offered to give away one of her November boxes to one of my lucky readers!  Use the Rafflecopter at the end of this post to enter - but be sure to stop along the way to read about the new features of the November box, and to grab some discount codes for the holidays! (This post contains affiliate links.)

Sapphire Soul Mindful Mystic subscription box yoga gypsy

While my October box was themed around the Hamsa protection amulet, the November box offers a special treat: the ability to customize what you will receive!  You'll be able to specify which types of crystals and scents you'd prefer, rank favorite (and least favorite) items, describe your visions for your sacred space and your self-care rituals, even specify clothing sizes and favorite colors to ensure the items you'll find in your box will be instant favorites!  Piggy-backing on the November customization options, Sapphire Soul has added a Wishlist feature for subscribers to bookmark and save their favorite gypsy, yoga, crystal, and mystical items - with the bonus of being able to share these lists with gift givers, just in time for the holidays.  But you have to act quickly to customize - orders after November 7th may not receive full customization options!

Sapphire Soul subscription box review mystic angel hamsa gypsy
Photo credits to the following reviewers - check out their thoughts too!
Right Top: 2 Little Rosebuds
Right Bottom: That one's mine!

Every Mindful + Mystic box (or any other Sapphire Soul package, there are plenty of options to choose from to suit any holistic lifestyle) is chock-full of amazing.  Sign up for your own subscription, or send a gift that keeps on giving to someone special in your life - I'll even help you out with some promo codes!

  • FALL2015: Receive a FREE gemstone bullet necklace with any Original or Large Mindful + Mystic box (Retail $33). The code expires 11/05/15.
  • 2016SHINE: Save 10% off any 6- or 12-month subscription for any box option! The code expires 11/05/2015.
  • PINKSHAKTI: Receive FREE shipping on the special edition Pink Shakti Warrior Breast Cancer Box. Items in this box are created and customized specifically to show support for the fight against breast cancer, and to help lift up and inspire women who are currently going through breast cancer treatment or have won the fight. A portion of the proceeds from this box will be used to create additional boxes to give to women who are going through treatment and breast cancer charities.

And onto the giveaway! Enter below - winner must be able to provide a valid shipping address. Giveaway ends 11/6 at 11:59pm.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What great mystic/holistic items are on your holiday wishlist? What would be in your dream box? If you could pick a future Sapphire Soul theme, what would you want to see?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Wednesday Word: Perspective

Today's post is my first foray into blog linkups.  Apparently the deal is, everyone writes about what a particular word means to them every Wednesday.  Hosted by Deb Runs, the words are pre-determined and everyone writes their own take on that word.  You get a lot of different perspectives on a single word - and that's ironic because today's word just happens to be perspective!

Ratatouille Anton Ego Perspective Quote

I chose to make today my first attempt at this because the fitness industry has had a huge impact on my perspective in many ways, some of which are a little unexpected once I start thinking about them.  Being an athlete for my entire childhood all the way through to young adulthood, I now realize I actually had a rather skewed perspective on some aspects of life.  For example, my sports kept me in great shape and gave me a great body.  To me, "looking fit" seemed effortless, because I didn't "do anything special" for it.  The two hour daily practices didn't factor into my perspective as intense exercise, it was just normal life.  When that level of athleticism was no longer daily routine, I found myself struggling to stay fit, and that definitely changed my perspective, especially in how I perceived myself.  If you're interested in more of that story, I wrote about it more extensively earlier this year, but for now I'll focus on some other changes my perspective experienced.

Over the past few years as I've fought my way back into fitness, I've realized my original perspective on what I used to consider "gimmicky" group exercise classes was not entirely accurate.  Zumba originally seemed to me to be a silly way to "get in shape", and yoga classes claiming they'd "melt away the pounds" just didn't make sense to someone who understood yoga from an ancient spirituality standpoint only.  Then I took my first Zumba class.  I realized it wasn't just crazy Latin music and a bunch of people who didn't want to put in "real" effort to get in shape - it really WAS effort and really COULD help you get in shape!  My first instructor (and the friends I made in that class) really opened my eyes to a side of fitness that I had previously thought wasn't my cup of tea.

Zumba group exercise fitness class

Suddenly I wanted to be more involved in this Zumba thing!  And then I got my license to teach and then I got my first class and then I got my second class and before I knew it, I was a Group Exercise Instructor.  I was teaching classes, I was taking classes, and I was getting more and more interested in this wonderful world of fitness.  Previous perspectives on class styles and potential benefits (or lack thereof, more often) were shifted or shattered.  Yoga started to make sense as a workout and soon I was teaching that too!  I began to look at fitness as a full body package, and as a mental industry as well.  I think the running helped a lot with that mental part, as I learned that running wasn't awful if you were doing it with purpose (another perspective shift).

Perhaps the most important bit of perspective I have gained from my growing role in the fitness industry has involved my views of myself and my happiness.  From my old position, happiness seemed like something that was always out of my control.  I waited for it to be given to me, and I was constantly disappointed.  Since I started running, instructing, blogging, and diving deeper into fitness as an adult, I've started to realize that happiness is my own creation.  I still have a long way to go before that new perspective really sinks in, but I'm starting to make my own opportunities.  If I don't like where I am or what I'm doing, I actively seek out solutions and I work hard to make them a reality.  And the harder I work for things, the more success I see: this past summer has had countless examples of how creating opportunities can turn a crappy situation into something amazing.  I no longer expect happiness to show up at my door begging to move in - instead I caught the scent of happiness and now I'm going to keep following it!

Chase Your Dreams Dreamcatcher Quote

Wednesday Word is hosted and coordinated by Deb Runs!  Want to see what other bloggers had to say about perspective 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!

Deb Runs Wednesday Word

What helps you put your life in perspective?  What major changes have you made in your life that required or inspired a major shift in the perspective you previously held?  Has fitness played into your perspectives in any way?

Monday, October 26, 2015

A lesson in heartbreak.

I think my heart breaks too easily.

Sure, sometimes I have a good reason to be heartbroken.  An unwanted divorce springs immediately to mind, and a few other moments in my life when it would have been inhuman to NOT be heartbroken, but for the most part my life is pretty blessed.  Despite knowing objectively that even in hard times, I have it pretty good, my heart doesn't seem to be on board with "being okay with it all".  Sometimes the smallest inconveniences or the tiniest disappointments will leave me feeling completely broken and hopeless.

broken heart broken glass heartbreak

I'm not sure if this is because the true heartbreaks have left me fragile and more easily broken.  I'd like to think this is not the case - I want to think, as all of us do when we have struggled through hardships, that I have become not weaker but stronger, and I know that in many ways, this is exactly what really has happened.  So why is it that I still let these little things affect me so much?

My best guess is that, for some reason, maybe I still want the heartbreak.  Perhaps it's an extension of "playing the victim," so to speak.  If I let myself be hurt over whatever the issue is, I can pretend like the disappointment isn't my own fault.  This weekend I experienced some disappointments that at first seemed like the world crashing down around me.  I was devastated, and ready to give up before my weekend was through.  Less than 24 hours later, I was fine.  What I had considered life-alteringly disappointing was really just a minor setback that required me to reframe an idea in my mind.  Once I took a step back and reshaped my expectations (not lowered, just altered), I found myself once again thinking positively about moving forward.

purpose reassess life make changes

As it turns out, heartbreak is oftentimes only what you make it out to be.  True, I'll never be able to convince myself divorce isn't heartbreaking, but I'm going to try to give myself a break on some of these other things.  If it's not *actually* life changing, I'm going to try not to take it as such.  When there's a way to take stock and rephrase my perspective or my actions instead of feeling like a victim again, that's what I'm going to do.  And when it's time to get hopeful about something that is mostly unknown, I'll remember not to build things up too much in my mind and in my heart, so I can be better prepared to readjust if things are not quite what I'd wanted to see.

Life is what you make of it - this has been a constant lesson over the past couple years.  I keep turning over new pages in this book, and every new chapter is a step closer to the happy, healthy future I want!

How do you combat heartbreak?  Do you sometimes build the proverbial mountain out of a molehill?  What are some of the "life is what you make of it" lessons that you've learned?

Friday, October 23, 2015

Five Things Friday: What I LOVE About Airline Travel

This morning I boarded a plane heading towards yet another exciting opportunity.  It's not quite time to reveal any details, not yet, but I CAN take this time to share my five favorite things about traveling via air!

5. The views.

Landscapes look completely different when you're waaaaay up in the air!  You can trace the flow of rivers, gaze from mountaintop to mountaintop, identify city lights at night from a hundred miles away...   But even if you're stuck sitting above the wing of the plane with minimal ground vision, you still get breathtaking views of the clouds (when they're in season) and a firsthand view of the beauty of sunbeams hitting those puffy white sky-marshmallows.  Yup, sky-marshmallows.

Angelic Clouds

4. Hilarious flight crews.

This is mostly specific to Southwest Airlines, where apparently flight crews are encouraged to show their personality.  It's a great change to the stereotype of flying!  Pilots making jokes about the destination, ticket agents bantering like it's a comedy club...  I even had a flight attendant SING to us as we landed at La Guardia!  The whole plane (except the grumpy old man next to me) clapped and sang along, taking the edge off a long day in the air.  Keep it up Southwest, we love it.  Almost as much as we love your old flight attendant uniforms.

Southwest Airline Flight Attendants

3. Sleeeeeeeeeping the whole way home.

A lot of my travel this year has been for race events, which means my days are 12-20 hours long and packed with dancing, bouncing, yelling, cheering, and just generally being awesome - which is flat out exhausting!  While driving to your destination gives you more control over route, departure times, bathroom breaks, and who sits next to you, being behind the wheel means you have to be both awake and alert.  That doesn't happen sometimes (see above re: 20 hour event days) and with flying, it's not a problem.  Heck, I fell asleep on a red-eye once and was so far gone I didn't wake up until I accidentally rolled onto the floor while the attendants were trying to wake me!  Driving home from the airport can still be tricky but at least I get my nap time in while we're in the air!

Sleeping On a Plane

2. Visiting different airports around the country.

Even if you're not staying in that city, the local airport almost always carries the character of its home city and gives you a taste of what you're missing!  Some airports are nicer than others, certainly, but each has at least some sense of charm.  Even La Guardia had charm, though I'm not sure I remember what it was, exactly...  But others I remember!  Nashville was cozy but upscale.  Minneapolis/St Paul was posh and pretty.  Houston had lots of places to eat.  Atlanta was more of a mall than an airport.  Every city has a memory, and I'm excited to add more memories with every trip!

Washington Dulles International Airport

1. Stepping off the plane into a NEW PLACE!

And isn't that really the best part of travel in general?  I'm fortunate that I've never had to take an airline trip that was for something sad or negative, so every disembarkation is taking me on a new adventure!  This year I've gone coast to coast and many points in between, and I'm working on ways to constantly keep adding to my list of places I've been.  Even if the destination isn't a flashy vacationer's paradise, there's always something new and interesting at the other end of the flight pattern!

Adventure Awaits Airplane

What's your favorite way to travel?  Why do you find it so enjoyable?  Anyone out there HATE travel? Why?

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Pardon my dust!

Hi friends!  You may be noticing in the next few days/weeks that things are changing here at Adventures with FitNyx.  I'm working hard to revamp my blog, making it easier for you to navigate my page and find interesting information - I'm also working EXTRA hard to provide better content more regularly!  I'll still be posting my product reviews and other articles, but you may see some new things show up and some old things disappear or change places.  Bear with me while I make some changes, and as always, use those comment forms on the bottom of every post to let me know if you like what you're seeing/reading!  As always, you can reach me via email (fitnyx@gmail.com) at any time with questions, comments, concerns, feedback, or whatever you'd like to say!

Thanks for your understanding!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Product Review: The Drew Co. Bath and Body (Giveaway!)

Over the summer, and indeed throughout the evolution of my fitness lifestyle, I noticed the toll all this sweat, sun, and stress was taking on my skin.  And my hair, but that's a whole 'nuther story...  Anyways, I started keeping an eye out for better products to help me wash away the adverse dermatological issues generated by so much fitness.  In short, I wanted to clean up better!


Then I found Drew Co on Instagram.  It was love at first sight, and I just had to try some of their great-looking stuff.  A quick inquiry into the company uncovered two owners who both loved to run!  Conveniently they had been considering creating a Runner's Kit with a smattering of products to help sweaty folks like me keep up our healthy glow!  After asking a few questions about my specific skincare needs and worries, The Ginger and Lady Drew sent me a whole box of amazing goodies to treat myself right!

Disclaimer: Drew Co sent me my Runner's Kit free of charge in exchange for my review.  I received no additional compensation, and all thoughts and opinions in this post are my own, as always!

 Let's start with my favorite item, aka the Dirty Sailor, aka, the best salt soap on the planet!  I was told the scent was reminiscent of Captain Jack Sparrow, which I thought was a bold and untraceable claim at first, but then I started using my bar and YES, it really DOES smell like Jack Sparrow!  Not gonna lie, there have been times I've reached into the shower, grabbed my bar, and just inhaled for a quick shot of my new favorite scent.  The soap itself is silky smooth, scented (obviously) but not overpoweringly so, and my skin feels incredible every time I use it.  I've historically had an weird aversion to "girly skincare products" so trying Drew Co was a little outside my comfort zone in the first place - but after a months-long affair with a Dirty Sailor, I think it's fair to say I'm hooked!

Though it's not explicitly running-related and from what I have heard in the past more likely comes from my partially Italian heritage, I seem to have a problem with little bumps on the skin of my upper arms.  They itch a bit, and they make my skin, well, bumpy - which is icky.  I mentioned this when I was discussing Runner's Kit options, and Drew Co tucked in one of their grit products, delightfully called No Way To Treat A Lady.  Well Drew Co, I beg to differ - it is the PERFECT way to treat THIS lady, at least!  Grit is a dry scrub to help combat some of the toughest parts of skincare, and it has made quick work of my arm bumpies.  Now the skin is so soft, so smooth, and incredibly touchable, which has been great for showing off the new guns I've been working on in the gym!  Easily my second favorite product in the bunch, and something I'll probably exclusively buy from Drew Co in the future because no other scrub has ever worked on those bumpies!  Pro tip: use the lid to take just a small amount of the grit if you're using it in the shower, otherwise you risk getting the whole tin wet, especially if you're a klutz like me.

Of course I wanted to follow up my freshly scrubbed and deliciously clean skin with a little lotion, and Drew Co's Rose Colored Glasses was waiting for me.  I LOVE the way my skin feels after a few days of this lotion, but the scent is very rosy and very strong.  After a while I switched to only using this every couple days so as not to overpower the fresh clean scent of my Dirty Sailor (that sounds so contradictory but whatevs, he's amazing).  The lotion itself doesn't feel greasy or sticky, and it rubs right in so you can throw it on quick without leaving smudges over everything else you touch!  I think this scent and lotion base would be an amazing face cream if the scent could be toned down a little bit...

Drew Co also provided me with an alternative to tradition lotion: a block of body butter called Serendipity.  Basically a solid lotion, you rub the block directly onto your skin, and the warmth of your body heats it up just enough to leave a thin buttery residue.  This felt divine after a fresh shave or a grit scrub, but unlike the more traditional lotion, the Serendipity stayed greasy on my skin for a while, which made me hesitant to get dressed too soon after using for fear it would stain my clothes.  I used it on days when I had enough down time to give myself that full spa-treatment (and bonus, got to use my bridesmaid gift from my brother's wedding, the cutest  monogrammed blue bathrobe EVER) but couldn't use it as often as I would have liked once my schedule picked up.  Pro tip: use the lid as a "gripper" to hold the bar, otherwise the warmth of your hands will melt it and you'll end up sticky!  (I definitely think this product could use a better package and delivery system; something like a deodorant stick that would let you hold it without touching the actual product so you don't waste too much on your hands... )

Finally, I received a second bar of soap, one of their best sellers: The Ex.  I almost forgot I had this one in the box still, because I'd been so tied up with my Dirty Sailor (who needs the ex when you have the Captain, right?) but I hauled it out one day and plunked it in the shower so it would see some use.  I'm glad I did!  Though the first time I used it, I lathered up a washcloth for application, which left me a little confused.  I had enjoyed how incredibly smooth the soap felt, but I checked its description and realized it's supposed to be an exfoliating soap, which I didn't get at all!  Next time I was in the shower, I paid more attention to the feel of the bar and noticed the grit on the bar itself, which would have made for a much better exfoliant.  I've tried using a couple different types of loofa/shower poof, but the only way I feel the grit doing anything for my skin is if I use the bar directly.  Honestly, I like the smooth washcloth version MUCH better!  Still, it's great in a  pinch for a rough spot if I forgot to snag some of my grit before getting into the shower...

And there you have it!  Five AMAZING products from Drew Co, all of which are available for purchase on their website independently!  Or you can mix and match products to create your OWN runner's kit to meet your needs.  Plus, if you're luck enough to live up in the Pacific Northwest area where Drew Co makes its home, you might see The Ginger and Lady Drew out at a race selling their official Runner's Kits before/after the race OR on the course running alongside you in between!  Oh, and take some time to stop by their website and read the names and descriptions of their products - these gals are HILARIOUS, and most of their descriptions have me laughing my head off when I browse for new products!

Drew Co is also giving away a small prize pack to one lucky reader!  Enter using the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win some Drew Co delights of your own, including a bar of The Ex soap, the new Total Betty body butter, and The Clint lip balm!  Giveaway ends 10/27 at 11:59pm.  Winner must be willing to provide a valid shipping address.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What types of skincare issues do you face?  Do you have favorite products to combat those issues?  What's your favorite Drew Co product description?

Monday, October 19, 2015

POUND Training - Rockout. Workout.

After waiting months for money, schedules, and the stars to align, I finally had the opportunity to expand my group exercise repertoire this past weekend with a training for POUND!  I'd first heard about POUND way back in May at the Fit Expo (right before the wheels that took me out of Chicago started turning), and in the turmoil since, it's been a top priority on my fitness career checklist, so it was an absolute pleasure to finally check it off yesterday!

Even though it's been around for years, many people still haven't heard of POUND - and I'm not surprised, I'd never heard of it either until I saw the demo in May!  POUND is a full body cardio-strength fusion class inspired by drumming, of all things.  At first it seemed to me a wacky concept, until I picked up a pair of Ripstix and tried it myself.  I was hooked.

Though the basic movements of POUND originally seemed like they might be a little repetitive, my training proved the incredible diversity that can be achieved from the basics.  With something like 100 variations on the building block moves, there's plenty of opportunity to keep a class from getting stale.  Plus, most of the moves really make you work!  Though I'd experienced the class before, the training reminded me just how much of a sweat those little sticks can generate.  And I'm pretty darn sore today, too...

I think POUND is going to be an excellent addition to my class schedule!  I see a few financial hurdles that might slow me down a bit (for example, might have to buy my own Ripstix package if I want to teach at various locations, and like Zumba there's a monthly fee to stay current with the brand), but that's all it would be: a slowdown, not a dead end.  Making it to and through this training was just another step - and another victory - towards the bright future I've been building all summer.  It was a great way to start the fall group ex season, and I can't wait to kick off classes at Elevated Fitness in November.  Classes are so much fun, and diversity keeps things fresh; I'm sure POUND and I will get along very well!

Have you taken a POUND class?  What was your favorite part?  What is your favorite group ex format (to teach or to take)?  What fun classes should I add next?!

Friday, October 16, 2015

In Response to Steve Jones

Earlier this month, an article was published in which legendary endurance runner Steve Jones was asked about the changing face of the endurance racing industry.  He had some interesting things to say - including controversial remarks about what "counts" as a running achievement.  One of the highlights that provides a pretty good summary of his thoughts on the matter is this lovely little quote:
       I don't believe that starting and finishing a marathon makes you a marathoner.
 I read this in the wake of both the Chicago Marathon (in which many of my family, friends, and fellow bloggers competed) and the Towpath Marathon (which I have spent months helping to coordinate).  I read this after seeing dozens of "I am a marathoner" posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and various blogs.  Many of those posts talked about four hour marathons.  Six hour marathons.  Even a couple three hour marathons.  None of these people were winning marathons, they were simply running them to prove to themselves they could.  The competition wasn't "me versus the other leaders", it was "me versus me" and every single one of them won that race.

Then I read more of Steve's remarks, including some that were cut from the online version of the article.  At one point he even cites four hour marathon times (and 25 minute 5k times) with a final thought of "that's not running in my mind."  So that means almost everyone I know, including myself, isn't really a runner?

No, sir.  Nope.  Nuh-uh.  Wrong.

I might agree that walking a mile isn't the same as running it.  I probably agree that walking a 5k for the medal doesn't make you a runner, and that some people twist the truth of their participation to sound accomplished.  But once you get into distances like a marathon, or even a half marathon, and you're going faster than a mosey, you're a runner.  If you walk parts of a marathon, or even all of it, you're still a marathoner, you covered the same distance as the guy who won.  Steve Jones runs a marathon faster than I can run a half marathon, but that doesn't mean I'm not a runner.  That's like saying a high school soccer player isn't really a soccer player because they're not in the British Premier League.  Like saying the pee-wee baseball championship team kids aren't really ballplayers because they're not on a Major League team.  It is simply not so.

Image Source: Walk Jog Run

Running is a unique sport.  It is, as far as I can tell, the ONLY sport in which pros and absolute beginners can be on the same field at the same time, in the same competition.  Running is the great equalizer of the sporting world, and that's an incredible thing.  A race against your own time or your own inhibitions is just as powerful as a race against the other guys in the A Corral, and in many cases it is perhaps even MORE meaningful to those people who are plodding along for hours.  No, I'm not a pro runner, but I damn sure am a runner, and every step of my race counts just as much as every step of yours.

It's a shame that someone as prominent in the industry has to disparage the accomplishments of people who have trained and suffered and sacrificed and planned and worked incredibly hard to achieve something special.  Not everyone can be the best, this is true, but that should never mean it isn't worth setting a goal and pushing for a better performance.  Has running become overly commercialized, as Jones suggests in other parts of his interview?  Heck yes, but so has just about every other hobby, activity, pastime, sport, diversion, or any other anything in modern culture.  That doesn't give anyone permission to cheapen the blood, sweat, and tears that go into the thousands of personal races that are run at every major race event.

To all the new marathoners in my life, and to all the repeat marathoners as well, CONGRATULATIONS on your amazing accomplishment!  Don't let the haters and the snobs take away one ounce of your pride.  You've earned your accolades, and no one can take that away from you!

Did you run this past weekend?  Tell me about your PRs, your success stories, your triumphs and your disappointments!  Every single story makes you more and more of a runner, no matter what some elite jerk has to say about it!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


I ran a marathon this weekend.

Okay so I didn't run it in the physical, one foot in front of the other for 26.2 miles, kind of sense, but I worked very hard over the past few months and especially the past two weeks as part of the team putting on the Towpath Marathon this past weekend.  We had beautiful weather and tons of amazing volunteers to help, but it was still a very stressful and energy consuming event - and apparently recovery from putting on a marathon is in many ways similar to recovery from actually completing the course!

SO long story short, I'm a little behind on some of my posts, both on the blog itself and on social media.  I'm getting back into it soon, I promise.  I've got a fantastic review of The Drew Co's runner's kit, a selection of skin care solutions for athletes, along with a few other interesting items I've been able to play with lately, plus I'll probably post more about the marathon at some point.  And I've got something BIG in the works, hopefully for November, so there's plenty more to come soon!

For now, check out my Foxy Boxes review for your last chance to WIN a Foxy Box of your very own!  Contest ends tonight (10/13) at midnight!  Or you could go straight to their website to order your subscription NOW with 10% off thanks to my promo code FITNYX10...

Friday, October 9, 2015

Five Things Friday: Lesson Learned

This weekend, the Towpath Marathon will be run along the picturesque Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail.  Between the full marathon, half marathon, and 10k distances offered, over 2000 runners will sweat it up and work it out along the trail - and thanks to my efforts over the past couple months, over 100 volunteers will be on-site at aid stations, in the parking lot, along the course, and at the finish to ensure every one of those runners has a great experience.  I've spent a LOT of time as this race's Volunteer Coordinator lately, and I have learned some VERY important lessons about working as a race event planner!  Here are my top five lessons learned about working as a race coordinator!

5. Timeliness Can Never Be Expected.

Not even for a t-shirt. Half the time I only DO things for the t-shirt, so I half expected the threat of not getting a volunteer shirt to ensure I would have everyone's volunteer waiver in by the first deadline.  NOT SO.  Apparently some people volunteer for the good feels or because it's the right thing, not because they get a free shirt - who knew?  I kid, of course; I'm thrilled we have so many people, including last minute signups, who are willing to donate their time to this race...  I just wish I wouldn't have to spend weeks after the race following up to ensure I have all proper documentation!

Lesson Learned: Accept that even free stuff isn't always enough to get people on your schedule and things WILL come in late.

4. Communication is Key.

I received empty waivers, slow responses, total silence, questions that could have been answered by actually reading the information I'd already sent...  Though it's true for far more than just this race, giving and receiving clear communication can make or break just about any endeavor.  Important information can easily get lost if it is not clearly labeled or tagged, and a quick phone call isn't always the best way to ensure something registers!  I had to up my own communication game to fill in the holes left by volunteers who have their own lives full of work, family, and other issues.  I suppose that's why there even IS a Volunteer Coordinator position!

Lesson Learned: Organize your inbox, flag follow ups, and get everything in writing as soon as possible.

3. Late Nights Are Going to Be a Thing.

At least for me.  For some reason, I can't get myself to spend hours of mindless data entry while the sun is up.  Maybe the glowing spreadsheet screen is more romantic by moonlight, or maybe there's less interesting television when it gets late, or maybe I'm just plain busy during regular hours, but I have stayed up all night a few times doing the dull but necessary organization tasks that will be so important for post event record keeping and next year's follow ups.  Late nights aren't foreign to me (after years and years of collegiate and grad school all-nighters) but it's been a long while since I actually needed to use those hours productively.

Lesson Learned: Either find a way to pound out the grind earlier, or make sure you keep your Netflix subscription current because late night TV stinks.

2. Preview the Course and Be Ready for Changes.

We actually considered this one in advance, and scheduled a bike ride to cover the full marathon course almost two months prior to the event - while the weather was still gorgeous.  Actually covering the whole route helped us identify potential problem spots and helped us correct the errors in our labeling.  For example, we had named some of the aid stations according to previous years' course names, but found that the anticipated locations did not match with the landmarks for which the stations were named, sometimes by a long shot.  We were able to make corrections, get a visual, and have loosely formed backup plans should issues arise.

Lesson Learned: Don't trust the maps or the old info; nothing is more accurate than first-hand knowledge.

1. Send Out WAY More Requests Than You Think You Have To!

I asked a lot of people for help.  A LOT.  This race series is lucky to have a 20+ year history and quite a few dedicated teams that help year after year, but that doesn't mean there aren't gaps to fill.  I blasted volunteer requests through many channels, and only barely managed to fill all my big spots!  Either I was asking the wrong people (quite possible) or the success rate is really just that low.  Regardless, I was struck by how much poking, prodding, pestering, and polling it took to fill my last few stations.  I'm very lucky to have made some connections earlier this summer that came through big time in the past couple weeks; here's hoping that same luck holds out for race day and everyone shows up!

Lesson Learned: Spam is your friend sometimes.  Embrace it and try not to feel bad.

Alright - after all those lessons, it's go time.  Expo tonight and tomorrow, then race on Sunday, then I'll probably sleep for a few days once that stress is off my shoulders!  If you're running the Towpath, find me and let me know how your experience was, I should be lingering around the finish line area for most of the day!  GOOD LUCK!


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Product Review: Foxy Box Subscription Boxes

My quest for the perfect subscription box service has been ongoing since my first less-than-perfect experience with one of the most popular boxes a couple months ago.  These types of monthly sampler sets are becoming more and more popular - and for good reason!  It's an ideal way for consumers to be introduce to the VAST range of products available these days, especially if you're interested in a niche product or prefer to support smaller companies that can't afford the in-your-face advertising of the market dominators.

One of the more interesting box companies I found is Foxy Boxes.  They offer four different subscription options to meet the varied needs of healthly lifestyles.  You can choose from paleo, vegan, endurance, or gym-goer options; each category provides a different set of products, making the experience much more customized than other services that send the same items to all customers.  Since I have been spending so much more time in the gym while I've been building my boxing strength and teaching more boot camps, I opted to try the Gym Goer Foxy Box.

Disclaimer: I received one Foxy Box Gym Goer box free of charge in exchange for my review.  No additional compensation was provided.  All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own.

The first thing I noticed when I opened my box was how much stuff there was!  Other boxes send a few tiny samples, but Foxy Boxes send either larger sampler packs or full size products for just about everything included.  I had a full bottle of coconut water!  I also had a few non-consumables; it was nice to find that the box branched out from "snacks and supplements".  In fact, the Bondi Band headband and Popband hair tie were probably my favorite products out of this box!  I've always wanted to try Bondi Bands but never got around to ordering one - so Foxy Boxes definitely started out with a notch in the "win" column.

As I picked through my box and started using more of my products, I started to notice that about half the box was REALLY on-theme for a gym-goer box.  Besides the hair products, I received a few protein products (gel, chips, pudding, snack bar), joint health chews, pre-workout drink mix, and portable body wipes.  While things like the protein pudding and chips were a little odd, they were definitely products I wouldn't have found myself and offered the kinds of benefits for which I as a developing gym rat am searching.  The other half of the box seemed to be much more general-wellness-y.  Almond butter, anti-aging skincare and supplements, coconut water, a tea infuser...  Some of these products could probably fit any of the Foxy Boxes, which isn't unexpected when I think about it.  For an independent company to piece together four completely separate sets of items every month while retaining quality, there probably will end up being some crossovers.  Otherwise, they'd pack every possible gym-specific goody into one box, and have nothing new for next month!

In fact, I started thinking about what types of goodies the Foxy Box might include in the future, if I were to continue my Gym Goer box subscription, and I realized there are actually LOTS of box-able products out there I'd be curious to try!  Having received such a wide variety of products in this box, I have faith any following boxes would also offer the same plethora of items.  With a mix of brands I recognize and companies I've never heard of, there are endless possibilities for the future!

What it comes down to is price - Foxy Boxes are $30/month (less, if you commit to a subscription term) and claim to contain $50-$100 worth of product in each box.  Having seen the joint chews in stores for $25/bag, I definitely know I got far more than $30 worth of product in my box!  What I'd be curious to see is how often the products are repeated in subsequent months.  After seeing a couple other reviews posted about a month prior to when I received my box, I noticed there were quite a few similarities between my box and theirs - but I'm not sure exactly which month's box I actually received!  It's possible I got a leftover from a prior set since I'm new to the company, which would account for some of the overlap.  If Foxy Boxes can come up with totally unique boxes every month, it's going to be one of the best subscription sample services out there, especially for women since these boxes are designed for us!

As always, you know I love passing on discounts on products I enjoyed!  I think Foxy Boxes offers more than ample value for the cost of a subscription already, but it's even better when you get to use a discount code, right?  So now you can use FITNYX10 for 10% off your subscription to any of the Foxy Box options, and have exciting health, wellness, and fitness samples delivered right to your doorstep every month!  This code will only be active through October 31st, so don't wait!  Of course, the only thing better than getting something at a discount is getting something FREE - and thanks to the generosity of Foxy Boxes, I get to give away any one Foxy Box to a reader!  Enter using the Rafflecopter below.  Giveaway ends October 13th at 11:59pm.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have you tried a subscription box service yet?  What types of samples would you like to see in your box?

Monday, October 5, 2015

Towpath Marathon - One More Week of Crazy

When I first moved back to Cleveland, I picked up an interesting opportunity to work as the Volunteer Coordinator for the Towpath Marathon (after I had run the Towpath Ten-Ten and enjoyed working with the company).  I hadn't known at the time what other work I'd manage to find or how busy I'd be come marathon time, but wanted very much to dig deeper into what it takes to actually put on a big race event.

At first, there wasn't much to do.  Compile some email addresses, get familiar with the course, think about ways to incentivize volunteering...  It was an hour or two a week, at most, and it gave me plenty of freedom to work on building my fitness presence in the area while also picking up some more full-time work to pay the bills in the meanwhile.

Now, we're a week away from the race, and I'm up all night over and over again compiling volunteer information and making sure we have enough coverage!  There have been course route changes and unexpected dropouts and all the other confusion that of course comes with relying on volunteers - but somehow we're looking like we'll be ready next Sunday!  There are a few more pieces to fall into place, and next weekend I'll be working my butt off on-site, but the excitement is building as the chaos starts to take shape!

That being said, well...  There's still MUCH to be done, and that might mean this will be a slow week here on the blog.  Hopefully my Om Booty review will make it up on Wednesday, and since it's the last week to register for the Doggy Dasher virtual race (get 10% off with FITNYX10) I'll try to send out a few registration reminders, and maybe I'll even find some time on Friday or Saturday to share some pictures from the marathon expo...  But it's probably safe to assume that I'll be last-minute stressing to ensure that every last detail is in place for an AMAZING RACE!  So, catch ya on the flip side, and be sure to let me know if you want to come out and help on race day, I can guarantee I have a spot for any willing hands!

What inspires you to volunteer, either for race events or anything else to which you donate your time?  What's your favorite volunteering experience?

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Race Recap: Insane Inflatable 5k

So...  It's been a little while since I last ran more than a mile or two.  Sure, I've taken the dog for a jog occasionally, but actual training runs have been almost non-existent since mid-July when I last participated in a race event.  And while I've been spending plenty of time on fitness, I'm definitely not in distance shape anymore!  But since it's been months since my last event, I've definitely been feeling the itch to get back out there, and turned to obstacle course races (OCRs) once again as a fun, low-pressure way to get back into the racing world.

A friend asked me about a race called the Insane Inflatable 5k, which happened to be stopping in Erie PA, about an hour and a half from my current home.  I'd never heard of it, but did some research and was excited to find a growing company with a slew of successful events already under their belt.  I'm always cautious of OCRs, especially if they haven't been on my radar previously, because the OCR industry is becoming notorious for scams, disappointments, and even injuries - general warning, do your research on any adventure race or OCR company before you get swept up in their hype!  But the Insane Inflatable passed check, and I eagerly signed up to give it a go.

Disclaimer: I was provided a comped entry for the event in exchange for my review.  I have not received any additional compensation for this post, and all views and opinions herein are my own.

I headed out to Erie early, with my mom along for the ride (she hopped over to the casino while I ran, it was a win-win).  The drive went quickly and I arrived more than an hour early for my start time, as advised in the pre-race email.  For the first few waves, though, this was probably an unnecessary precaution!  I waltzed right up to the row of registration tables, picked up my bib and wristband, and was done in less than a minute.  Leaving me a LOT of down time before my scheduled wave (the first of the day).  This meant I had time to poke around the festival area without having to fight through crowds!

As promised, the little midway offered some inflatable playthings such as games and bouncy houses.  The venue provided food booths, and a couple local sponsors had set up tents.  Erie is not one of the race's primary markets and receives relatively low registration (compared to the metropolis races, which obviously have a larger pool of participants), so the festival area was properly scaled to the size of the event.  The main feature was the Air National Guard station, which offered mini fitness competitions throughout the day.  Race participants and spectators were all welcome to pick a fitness challenge such as planks, wall sits, sit ups, push ups, chin ups, and more, then do their best to set the day's record.  A couple girls had stepped up to set the first few numbers, and when I saw the current record was only three chin ups, I knew I could beat it.  I managed seven chin ups before my start wave was called and I had to head to the start line - but after the race I came back to see how my number had held up.  I'd been beaten!  Someone had done 10 chin ups, so I hopped back up on the bar and gutted out another 10 of my own, but couldn't quite get that last one for the record!

Anyway, I was there for the run, so let's talk about that!  I was in the first wave at 8:45am, and it was chilly and damp when we started.  This made the inflatables pretty slippery, which was an immediate concern since even the starting line itself is an obstacle!  I was impressed right off the bat, though, when volunteers and race staff cautioned participants to use ropes and handholds when climbing to prevent slipping.  This same focus on safety lasted for the entire course, and was probably the most noteworthy aspect of the whole race!  Every worker along the course was vocal and clear, including letting racers know which side of the slide would have puddles at the bottom!

My shoes got damp quickly from the dew, but the middle third of the course was on pavement and they dried out without much fuss.  Obstacles were kept on the grass, which meant they were grouped at the beginning and end of the course since the that paved mile was actually partially ON the Lake Erie Speedway racetrack!  My dad has autocrossed on the same track a few times but I got to tackle it on foot!  I of course had to stop for a quick selfie.

The early wave had a surprisingly good turnout for a place like Erie, which is a little out of the way for big city runners, but we still spread out quickly and I was rarely running near anyone else, which meant the obstacles were quick and easy to tackle.  Later waves didn't look so crowded as to cause line issues at the inflatables, either, which has been a chronic problem in other OCRs.  In a larger city, this might still be an issue but Erie was the perfect size to keep things moving.  Or perhaps it only seemed that way because Insane Inflatable does a great job metering out wave registration to ensure there's no overcrowding...

I made it through the 5k course in about 30 minutes, which surprised me because I thought I was taking it pretty easy and there were obstacles...  I didn't track the distance but it's possible the course was a little short - it's also possible I ran a little harder than I realized.  One thing is for sure - I was WIPED for the rest of the day!  Between running and participating in several of the fitness challenges, I was tired and sore in that exquisite way that proves you're getting stronger.  I received my medal and t-shirt at the end of the race, mingled with the crowd for a while (and met some fun people), then picked up my gear and headed home, exhausted but exceptionally pleased with my experience!

Organization: As I mentioned, I was there very early, and that affected my check in times, but even later I noticed that registration was moving efficiently.  There were ample volunteers and staff in place to handle the size of crowd I was seeing, and everyone was willing to be helpful.  The course was well marked and laid out creatively to maximize the space available at a tight venue, and crowd control was actually pretty well done.  This is the first race I've done with wristbands designating wave time, and I was surprised to see they not only checked wristbands but were strict about people entering at the right time.  Having witnessed the problems overcrowding and wave switching can cause, I'm grateful for the level of control that was exercised in the interest of keeping the event consistently fun and safe for everyone.

The Course: Lots of obstacles!  Another chronic problem in the OCR world is overpromising and underdelivering on things like number of obstacles, but the Insane Inflatable had plenty of fun things to try along the course!  Some of the inflatables were relatively similar, but there's only so much that can be done with bouncy technology at this time, I suppose.  Every one of them was fun, which is the most important thing - there were no lame components that looked cool but then ended up being a total bore.  My favorite part was probably running on the Speedway, though, which has a lot to do with dad's history on the track, but can also be attributed to being a very unique feature of the venue.  Not every race gets to run on an automotive racetrack!

The Swag: Every runner gets a t-shirt and a medal as they cross the finish line.  I thought this was interesting, as you usually receive your event shirt at registration so you can wear it while you run, and therefore show up in your event photos with the race shirt.  Receiving the shirt at the end is logistically easier on the race organization: it allows check-in to move more quickly, and uses the finish line as a way to space out participants so the t-shirt line does not get overcrowded.  As I never wear the event shirt on the same day, this certainly didn't bother me!  I love the medal, which actually features one of the obstacles instead of just the event logo.  I was also very appreciative of the full size Kind bar I received with my medal, as I had yet to eat any breakfast!  Boy did I scarf that thing down...  Post-race, the Insane Inflatable offer FREE race photos, which is a huge value for any event.  They had several photographers out on the course, even early, and took some great shots!

The Bottom Line: This was a great OCR for the family!  It's not hardcore like Spartan or Tough Mudder events are, which is totally fine for me right now.  The draw of these races would be the emphasis on having fun while moving a little more than usual, and I think that's one of the best things happening in the world today.  Anyone can get through a course like this and get a positive fitness experience out of it, and the obstacles and festival make for great stories to tell later!  If you're thinking of spending more time moving, but you're intimidated by timed races or intense OCRs, the Insane Inflatable is the perfect introductory race to get you started.  If you're a regular runner and you're just looking for a change of pace, this is the event to keep yourself training but with an added element of silliness that'll make your workout seem like a party!

Did I get you thoroughly juiced about the Insane Inflatable 5k?  Go try it yourself and get 15% off your entry fee with promo code FITNYX15!  And be sure to have a BLAST!