Good decisions lead to more good decisions

Good evening! What does everyone think of the new blog design? I was bored and needed a little change; hope you enjoy it!

Today is super special for so many reasons, and already at lunchtime it’s been pretty fantastic! I had a weekend jam packed with work and play, so I’m ready to get back into the grind. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do because today marks the official start of MARATHON TRAINING!

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I am beyond excited to start training, especially since I’ll be running to raise money for Autism Speaks. I’ll have a tab up soon linking anyone interested in donating to my Team Up for Autism Speaks page.

Training started (unofficially) last night and this morning with me keeping up my favorite tradition.
Spirit of the Marathon
I love to watch Spirit of the Marathon whenever I need inspiration to run. Not only is it incredible to watch all the runners on their journeys but its based around the Chicago Marathon so I get that hometown pride from it. No better way to get amped to run Chicago than to watch other people doing it!

Training is off to a great start too, what with having lots of running/workout buddies now. My coworker Joanne and I went for a slow run at lunch. She’s newer to long distance running but we managed to get 2.5 miles and some core work in! It seriously beat sitting in our break room and eating unnecessary food.

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Our mid run foot selfie. Finished up with another 3/4 mile at the gym after work to total 3.25. I left work late so by the time I got home I was starving! I’ve made myself a fantastic salad and plan on eating it while foam rolling my quads.

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Lentils don’t photograph well. I apologize for that.

I made my own croutons out of these guys and it’s magic.

20140609-201831.jpgOh yeah, yum!

Who’s started their Chicago marathon training?

What good decisions have you made recently?

Meliora K Detergent Review!

Disclaimer: Kate at Meliora K reached out to me to do a product review. I was compensated with free product; however, all opinions in this post are my own.

Have you ever thought about what is in your laundry detergent? If you’re like me, the answer is probably not. I really had never thought about that question until Kate from Meliora K reached out to me asking me to review their laundry detergent.

Meliora K is a Chicago based cleaning product company that aims at having simple, honest products. Not only do they list all the ingredients on each of their products, they also share the recipes on how to make each one with anyone interested! I was completely unaware that there is no regulation on cleaning product companies to share their ingredients with the consumer; it makes me wonder what exactly they’re putting in there!

In addition to their ingredient transparency, Meliora K focuses on using non-toxic, environmentally sound ingredients in all their products. When I looked at their products, I noticed that coconut oil was often a main ingredient, and nothing had more than a half dozen ingredients! All the ingredients seemed simple enough and that really made me feel better knowing exactly what I was using. You can find out more on their story and philosophy here.

Like I said, Kate, the company’s founder, gave me a bag of the Right Hand Laundry Soap to test out. The bag seems small but it’s deceiving. One bag can clean about 60 loads! I’ve been using it over the course of a month and I feel like I’ve hardly made a dent in it.

I tested out the Laundry Soap 3 ways; on my regular clothing, on my workout clothing, and as a spot treatment (which I noticed on the bag there were directions for). The first major difference that struck me was that it was completely unscented. Nothing at all. This goes back to their philosophy of being free of all dyes and fragrances, which is great, but it took some getting used to when I washed my clothes. I had to remember that, though my clothes didn’t smell like detergent, they were still getting cleaned. I used it on a few loads of regular laundry and it seems fine! Besides scent, I didn’t notice a difference in my clothes between Meliora K and my usual detergent. It seemed to rinse really clean from my clothes (something that Kate mentioned–the water from laundry is much less toxic than from traditional detergent). The only downside that I noticed was that some of the stains in my clothes did not come out completely with one wash. As a preschool teacher, I’m always getting into messes with my students and my clothes tend to get stains on them more than the average human. In particular, I had some pants with dirt stains on the knees that I got during our outdoor time. After washing them per the brand and Meliora K’s directions, there were still stains.

Those pants are actually what inspired me to do a spot treatment. I used a paste made of the laundry soap and some water to treat the stains, then let them sit overnight and washed them again the next day. Still nothing significant. So for stained clothing (aka whatever I wear to work everyday), I’ll still be sticking to my regular detergent.

However, I have to say I have loved using the Meliora K Laundry Soap on my athletic gear! My workout gear usually does not get very dirty, but it does get veryyyy smelly. That’s why I’m always on the lookout for some very well-scented detergent. The Meliora K soap, surprisingly to me, got all the smells out of an entire load of workout clothes. Including my horrendous smelling socks! (Anybody else get really sweaty feet? Just me? Okay.) I really like that I didn’t need a scent to mask the sweat smell of my clothes; I’m confident my workout clothes are clean when they come out of the wash smelling like nothing. This laundry soap is definitely something I would recommend to anyone who has trouble with smelly work out clothes.

On an interesting note, Kate also mentioned that, because of the purity of the ingredients, this laundry soap does not interfere with the moisture-wicking properties of workout clothing. Since using this on my clothes, I haven’t noticed a difference in my clothing. No news is good news there!

Overall, it may not be as great as other detergents in stain fighting, but Meliora K’s Right Hand Laundry Soap is a great idea for anyone who had problems with laundry odor, or anyone who is looking to incorporate greener products into their homes.

Check out Meliora K and their other products if you’re interested.

Getting some reading done

Nothing-and I really mean nothing- beats spending time outside. It is my favorite thing to do, especially when the weather is beautiful like this. I make jokes that I need lots of sunshine to survive but I’m starting to realize it’s true.

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After work, I went out to run for a half hour. It was miserably humid and sunny and my body was not acclimated to that kind of running. I only did about 2.5 miles and it included a few walking breaks. A good run just wasn’t happening.

I made a quick dinner, threw some laundry in, and came right back out to do some reading in the park.

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I can’t find any reason to complain when the views (and weather!) are this beautiful. Late spring/summer really are my favorite times of year.

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I’m reading Hal Higdon’s Marathon in preparation for training, which starts next week! I can’t believe it’s already that time!

What marathon literature have you read? Anyone have thoughts on Higdon’s book?

What I’m doing to get back on track

Like I mentioned last week, keeping up with my goal list for 2014 has been less than successful. In some ways, I’ve been pretty good about it (#3 has been particularly good) but in others, not so much. The one that stands out to me most is #4. I am no closer to goal weight than I was in January, really. This may be bothering me most because it could be the nature of the goal. I haven’t gotten closer, nor have I been putting in an incredible effort to.

What do you mean fro-yo isn’t an acceptable dinner option? Chips and salsa?

Oh well, live and learn. (This has been my mantra lately.) I’m taking more steps to really be mindful of what I eat and, more importantly, how much I eat. These last few days I’ve taken a really good look at what unhealthy habits I have and how to remedy them. After all, a healthy body is 75% based on diet. It’s science 😉

I’ve snack when I’m bored. Or tired. Or alone and bored by the DVR (oops, already said that). Or upset. Really, I’m an emotional eater. Always have been, always will be if I don’t check myself. I will go into the kitchen a trillion times in the evening and just find random things to snack on, even though I am not at all hungry.
Solution?Need to remind myself of that and ask myself “am I hungry or does almond butter just sound fun right now?” Also, I could do with going to sleep earlier if I’m tired instead of chowing down on crud.

I sometimes eat two lunches. The nature of my profession requires that my class and I eat family style, and I am supposed to try the food we are served as a role model of good eating habits, etc. This is all well and good but sometimes if I pack a lunch I’ll eat that too, after I’ve already eaten with my class. Not smart.
Solution? Make up my mind which I want to eat. Or just stop packing lunches.

More solutions that don’t fit under a specific category:
-Drink more water. I have water bottles at home and at work, but now I’m carrying another one around with me everywhere. It stops the temptation of buying snacks while I’m out by keeping me full.
-Chew gum. I used to do this a lot and it kept me from bored-eating but for whatever reason I stopped. Starting up again. Ditto with the not buying food since I’m chewing a great piece of minty gum. Plus, great breath all day long. Win-win.
-Keep a snack. I now have a little baggy of trail mix in my purse. And since that’s not Starbucks or frozen yogurt, I think that’s a success.

Finally, I can remind myself of what the real goal is in this weight loss. I’m trying to run long distances here. You can’t fuel a marathon body on garbage!

How do you keep on track?

It’s happening, again!

Happy Hump Day everyone! This week is flying by, but so far it has been exhausting to the max! Work has been absolutely draining, in a good way, and I’m quickly learning that I need more than 7 hours of sleep a night during the week. I’ve been averaging 6.5-7 and it’s just not enough to get me through my day. Going to call it a day early today and hopefully tomorrow will be better!

That being said, there’s some big things on my blog to-do list that I need to get done, so I’m taking a low-key afternoon and evening to do that. This first one is my nearest and dearest, and I am so excited to share it with you.

After my sub-par first marathon experience last year I really wanted to have a better one. So when my friend Caitlin said she was running Chicago this year and I reminded myself that I told her I’d run with her, I knew it was time to start exploring the registration options.

Once I looked at the fundraising page I knew there was one charity I would absolutely love supporting in my race this year: Autism Speaks. This topic is one that is near and dear to me. As a teacher who has worked with many students and families affected by autism, I know how important this organization has become. The prevalence of autism spectrum disorders in today’s youth is high; 1 in 68 children is diagnosed, a number which has only been going up. The more we can understand, research, and learn about autism, the better we will be able to help these children. As a charity that looks to promote research, advocacy, and prevention of autism, I’m really proud to be part of the Team Up 2014 and running the Chicago Marathon on their behalf.

To learn more about autism, take a look at this or this.

To learn more about Autism Speaks and all they do, take a look at their website.

If you or anyone you know would be interested in donating to my fundraising page, please follow the link below.

My Personal Page for Team Up 2014 – Chicago Races.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and all of your support!

Dashing and then dashing!

Good morning everyone! Today is a busy one for me but I’m stopping by the blog to give everyone a little love. I woke up, totally relaxed, before my 6:00AM alarm. I’m not one to sleep in anyway but I usually reserve the early early mornings for long runs and weekdays. (Those of you that know me know that I’m up before 5 every day, but I like to sleep in just a litttttle bit on the weekends. This is just insane though.) Oh well, after tossing and turning a few minutes I decided it was time to get up, make breakfast, and take on the day!

My favorite thing about weekends is that I have time to spend on making breakfasts and they are some of my favorite meals of the week. This morning I made an egg over easy and served it on half an english muffin.
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I put some preserves on the other half and had blueberries on the side, but just a few bites in I decided to go really wild and turn that jelly half on its head and make a sandwich of it all.
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Sweet, savory, crunchy, gooey? I don’t think I’m ever going back. YUM!

After breakfast I did a few minutes of core work (planks, side planks, super mans) while catching up on some Jimmy Fallon. That Will Ferrel v Chad Smith drum-off was hilarious! I’m off for a quick run now, then have to pack and get ready to leave for the suburbs all weekend. My friend Joanne is picking me up and we’re going to our friend Emily’s bachelorette party! I love a great, celebration packed weekend!

Enjoy your weekend!

What’s the weirdest food combination you like?

Sproing Fitness! and a fun offer for you!

Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone! Please tell me you’re BBQing this weekend, wherever you are. I know I am, and probably more than once! My kind of weekend 🙂

This past week, on Wednesday, I was invited to try out a free workout at the new Sproing Sport studio in Chicago! Sproing Sport is a studio that offers classes on a Sproing Trainer, which is a kind of hybrid harness-strength training-trampoline machine. It was invented by Paul Toback and Steve Lenz, who were inspired to find a way to have high intensity workouts that were still low impact. The result is this fun machine that has a soft pad to stand on, a belt to harness you in, and handles that offer resistance training. It is definitely like nothing I’ve ever seen before!

I met my amazing friend Caitlin at the studio, which is in the Old Town neighborhood, super convenient to get to! We weren’t trying to twin, but we obviously can’t help it.
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[Sweaty, pink, post workout twinning selfie!]

The studio itself is small, but really clean and bright, which I love! It just opened up a month ago and is the first of its kind, ever! Caitlin mentioned it, and I thought so too; we were loving the color orange they have everywhere! The studio’s manager, Ingrid, was also incredibly friendly and amazing! You can tell she’s very enthusiastic about the Sproing way of life, and loved talking about it with everyone. Once we all got there, she set us up with waters and sweat towels and brought us into the studio to get started!

Jennifer was our instructor and she helped us all get set up on the Sproing Trainers, adjusting our resistance on the bands and the harness. I felt like a kid on a trampoline when I stepped on; the pad was really soft, like a deflated air mattress!

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Doesn’t it look awesome? And a blurry action shot because really, you can’t step on the Sproing without jumping around.

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Once we were all locked and loaded, Jennifer took us through what the HIIT training would look like and we practiced all the moves. The format was several rotations of 2 different moves at a time; 20 seconds of high intensity cardio move, 10 seconds rest, then 20 seconds of a strength or resistance training followed by 10 seconds rest. The cardio was usually forward or backward sprints (they used the Pose Method of running when we did so, fyi.)

After reviewing all the components, we were ready to go. This workout was a sweat fest! Jennifer was wonderful at getting us motivated to push ourselves and moving us through the different exercises. I even caught myself sprinting at about a 6:00min/mile pace (!!!) which is unheard of for me. Jennifer kept yelling for us to “pull!” which got my turnover crazy fast. I was definitely pushing myself to be faster each time. And I was really thankful for those 10 second rest intervals too! The harness also forced me to engage my core much more; the pull of it tempted me to stop having a flat back and I had to work to maintain that.

The resistance training and strength training moves were also really difficult. I didn’t realize how much the soft surfacing would challenge me when doing something as simple as a lunge or a squat. I really had to focus on form and it made me work really hard. My favorite move that we did was the anti-revolution, where we took one of the handles and held it out in front of us, working against the resistance trying to turn our bodies. There was no motion in that move but I felt my obliques and core fired up the entire time! I loved it!

The class itself was really high energy! The music was great, Jennifer was also energetic, and the clean bright studio kept me alert the whole time. There were a few moments where things were a little awkward, switching between movements and grabbing handles, or clipping and unclipping out of the harness, but Ingrid herself said that the second class is much smoother than the first! I’m definitely going to go back and try it out again. And guess what, you can too!

Sproing is giving a special offer to all my readers. When you go and mention the name of my blog, you’ll get an extra free class on your account! Chicago readers, go try it out and let me know what you think!

Disclaimer: Sproing Fitness invited me to try out their new studio for free, but all opinions and sweaty pictures are my own.