Friday, December 15, 2017

Fast Friday Favorites

It's been quite a while since we last caught up on normal life things, so here's a little update on the family.

It's cold here but not snowy, and in Utah, that means lots of gross air. But, it also means we get some pretty cool sunsets now and then.

We had a really exciting thing happen a week ago! My brother in law came home from living in Texas for two years while he served as a missionary for our church. It's been so fun to support a missionary again (Trevon was the last one I wrote/sent packages to regularly and that was 10 years ago). It was really great to see him with all the nieces and nephews again. He got to meet V for the first time and it didn't take long for V to warm up and be comfortable around him.

We have some really fun projects going on right now. Santa has asked for some backup help because his elves are so busy. J asked for a Barbie doll house, and M asked for a baby cradle and baby doll. V didn't ask because he's pretty oblivious at this point to what's going on. Big progress has been made since this last picture, and when it's done you'll see a finished picture! 

It's cold here...did I already say that? When I was running some errands this week, I looked out off the hill and saw this amazing sight.  Times like this always make me wish I still carried my nice camera everywhere with me, but that's just not super practical when you have 3 kids and a diaper bag to tow around. That's not snow, that's frost on the trees.  

M and V are becoming good friends. It's so fun to see them be nice to each other and actually play together! I looked back while we were in the car the other day and saw them holding hands. 

And now for some Friday Favorites!

Trevon's work gave us a kneaders gift basket as part of their Christmas gift. It had this amazing cinnamon bread and caramel syrup in there. It took me half the loaf to realize that this would taste amazing, but I toasted the bread and put the syrup on top.  It is probably my favorite syrup now.

We've been going to the library a lot lately. One of my favorite things that our library does is pull holiday books and put them all in one spot so you can find something to read for each holiday. This is my favorite Christmas book we checked out this week. 

Finding change is a favorite thing of mine. 35 cents richer, WOO WOO! 

And finally, I tried this hot chocolate at Costco last week and I haven't stopped thinking about it. I'm not even much of a peppermint fan, but this got me! So I made sure to buy the last one (I stopped a worker who happened to pass me while bringing it back to the shelf and asked her where to get it, she said this was the last one. And I bought it) so sorry to those looking for it at our's gone now. I'm sure they will get another shipment of it at some point, though. 

What was your highlight of the week?

Any Friday Favorites to share?

Do you like peppermint?

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Making Treadmill Runs More Bearable

This time of year a lot of us runners move the majority of our runs indoors to the treadmill. There are a lot of reasons, for me, to do this. It's darker later in the morning and earlier at night, in Utah, the air gets really bad because we are in a big valley surrounded by mountains and the inversion sets in, and it's cold. Some people are brave and run in the cold, but the inversion alone hurts my lungs to run in and adding the freezing temps to that make my running life a lot harder.

While I don't mind the treadmill all that much, it can be hard to talk myself into a treadmill run when it looks nice outside (even if I know that it's cold) or when I think a lot about how monotonous it is running hard and not seeming to make any visual progress. So today I wanted to give you a few tips to make your treadmill run more fun so that you can still feel motivated to get out and running.

Mix things up. I think one of the hardest things about making the treadmill fun is when we keep the treadmill at one speed or incline the whole time. Some of my favorite treadmill runs are when I'm moving the speed up and down. This is one reason I really like intervals on the treadmill.

Watch a movie. I don't have an Ipad if I did there would probably be a lot more TV watching on the treadmill than listening to music, but at this point, we don't have any form of tablet. I also use a community treadmill so I don't usually have much of a choice when it comes to movies that I watch. But watching a movie or TV show really helps pass the time. Especially if it's one that I've seen a ton and still love so that I don't have to hear every word or concentrate really hard on what's going on. It's mostly there to help me not watch the numbers on the treadmill or think about how long I've been on there. A couple of years ago I was training to run with the Iron Cowboy (You can read more about all of that HERE and HERE) and this was how I got through a lot of my training for that.

Playing a game with yourself is a great way to keep yourself motivated. A lot of times I will get to a certain mile mark and slow the treadmill down to a jog or a walk for a quarter mile and then speed it back up for as long as I can. This is one of the best ways for me to gain mileage on the treadmill. And it's fun to see how much more I can push myself to go.  You can also see how long you can go your fastest for.

Making the room temperature more comfortable. It can be the same temperature as your favorite running temperature when you run outside and still feel like a hundred degrees warmer because there's no wind or air blowing against you like there is outside.  Let your fan blow right on you the whole run.

One thing that works well if you're like me and use a community or gym treadmill is to bring your running buddy inside with you. You still get to catch up and visit and get your run done at the same time, without having to run in the cold.

Lot's of great music. I tend to save my favorite running songs for races when I need them, but make sure you have lots of fun, upbeat music that you love to use on your treadmill runs.

Find a great audiobook or podcast to listen to. Sometimes just listening to something to distract you from how much time you have left will help you get through your run easier than you ever thought possible.

Zoning out is one of my favorite things to do during a run, and it's way safer to zone out on a treadmill than it is outside. Outside running you need to be a little bit more alert to your surroundings.  On the treadmill, I can just let my mind go and not worry about numbers, or what is happening around me as much. It's a really great way to de-stress and to work through the things that have been on your mind.

Is running on the treadmill something you enjoy or dread?

What gets you through your treadmill run?

Monday, December 11, 2017

What I'm Learning About Meditation

Let me be honest, for a long time I used to cringe when I heard the word "meditation". I used to think that it was kind of a weird thing and I didn't really think it would work the way people claim it does.

It's really hard for me to get into a certain zone in my brain. I'm really good at zoning out during a run or really focusing on something I'm doing, but I feel like (especially after becoming a mom) I have a hard time letting my brain just rest. After struggling with what I thought was mild anxiety, turns out it's not all that mild, I've been searching for ways to help myself relax and calm down when I start feeling a panic attack coming on.  My cousin, who has struggled with anxiety for a lot longer than I have, mentioned that meditation is something that works for her. This was something that I'd heard of but kind of felt weird about, probably mostly because I didn't know how to meditate or what it all entailed. I didn't want to feel weird about humming and making "calming noises" haha, I'm pretty self-conscious when it comes to things like that. It still kept coming to mind though.

Then one day I found aaptiv (I don't get paid for talking about aaptiv, by the way, I just really have honestly enjoyed using it).  And aaptive has a meditation category in its workouts. So I thought I'd give it a shot. Here's what I realized

  • I had a memory come back to me in the middle of a meditation session.  I've meditated before, a lot.  When I was in Jr high, one of my youth leaders in our church led us in a meditation session during our weekly group activity when we were nearing the end of the year and having some stress with the end of year testing. For two years I really loved to sit and listen to calming music while I focused on relaxing each part of my body. My best friend even gave me a little lavender eye pillow to help with relaxation. And for my birthday, my mom got me two cassette tapes (yep, if you don't know what that is google it) of calming music.  I didn't realize it was meditation that I was doing and for some reason, I stopped once I got into high school...I can't even imagine how much it would have helped my depression and stress levels if I would have kept it up at that point.
  • Noises are optional. There are sometimes you can hum if you find that useful, but it's not mandatory. Meditation is all about comfort and not worrying about things. So if humming makes you feel uncomfortable, you don't have to do that to get in the right frame of mind.
  • Meditation can take less than five minutes or it can take an hour. It all depends on what you're feeling and what works for you. If you only have a few minutes you can still benefit from meditation.
  • There are so many benefits of meditating! You can find 141 of them HERE. And I'm not sure that even covers all of them.
  • Meditating can clear your mind and help you calm down for the night (I fall asleep way faster now by the way), or it can fill your mind with great ideas and help you gear up for something you've been working towards.
  • Meditation is also really great for kids. This is something that I'm hoping to teach my kids so that when they start to feel overwhelmed or really upset about something, they will have the tools they need to take a timeout and meditate to help them calm down.

I am still pretty new to the whole meditation thing, but I can't tell you enough how much it has helped so far with my anxiety. It's been two months since I've had a full on panic attack (thank heaven!) and I think a lot of that comes down to me knowing how my anxiety feels in the beginning of an attack and being able to calm myself and steady my breathing.  That's not something I would be able to do if I hadn't started meditating in the first place. So if anxiety is something you struggle with, or if you've ever considered meditating, I highly encourage it!

Are you someone who meditates often?

What is your favorite way to calm yourself down?

Friday, December 8, 2017

Coached Running is Hard For Me

The other day while I was running (this is how/when I come up with 90% of my blog post ideas if you haven't noticed), I was listening to the 10k training on Aaptiv and I realized that having a coach is great, but can also be really hard for me.

It took me back to my high school days and I remembered how much I struggled to listen to my trainers and coaches say "hey, just take a week to fully recover before you start running at all again" And then I'd go running on my own.  I was already very aware that I had (have?) a problem with taking the right amount of time off for recovery, this is something I'm working on slowly.

But the other day, while I was doing an easy paced endurance run, I noticed that it was extremely hard for me to not speed up towards the end of the run when I felt like I had more that I could give. The trainer kept saying "stay at that exact pace, don't slow down and don't speed up." and I would push the up button on the speed. After doing this a couple of times I noticed that I have a problem with listening.

And I realized that I've always had a problem with this because it took me back to my high school days again when my coach would say "ok, we're going to do this 3 mile run" and I'd think "I hate that run." but really I can't say that I hated those runs because I would do them on my own all of the time. STUBBORN! The first step to fixing this problem is admitting it, right?

Basically what this all comes down to is that I am stubborn. I LOVE having aaptiv and having someone give me an actual training schedule because I honestly don't think that I've ever had a real training guide or schedule. There have been definite pluses to having a trainer. I have for sure improved on my speed, and I'm going to keep using the app so that I can keep improving. But, I'm also just kind of a solo runner. I think my comfort zone is just doing what my body feels like doing, though, instead of doing what a coach is telling me to do.

It is also really hard for me to not push myself, even when I know that slowing down in my practice runs will help me run faster on race day. I've noticed that it's not hard for me to listen when the coach is asking me to do another interval as much as it is when the coach is asking me to stay at a slow, steady pace. Maybe that part of this is because I don't push myself hard enough from the beginning of my endurance runs. But probably, I just need to let myself remember that easy runs are a really good thing. I don't need to be exhausted at the end of my run. And I'm learning to be a better listener and trust what the trainer says and not what my body says. (But, still listen to your body when it's telling you that you're in bad pain).

Have you ever done a training plan or worked with a coach?

Are you a stubborn person?

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Finding Joy in the Season Change

It snowed today. Winter is hard for me. I've never enjoyed the cold and wet weather. But it is December and it's time. I've told myself over and over to suck it up because snow is overdue here in Utah.  So today I'm talking about how finding joy in the season change, even though this is the hardest season for me.

One of the things I look forward to the most during the season changes is decorating. I love pulling out different decorations and putting them all up in our house to make it feel cozy and exciting and fun.  Growing up my mom started collecting these little villages to put up around Christmas time and I've always wanted to collect them too. This year I finally started my collection. I put them in my interior window.  I also like to cut out shapes (for fall I did leaves, valentines I did hearts...) and sew them together to make a little seasonal banner. And then, of course, we have our tree and our nativity up in our front window.

For me, the hardest thing about this season is the dark and cold weather. So one of my favorite things to do to help myself feel warm and comfortable is to eat soup and drink hot chocolate. The other day I tried Kneader's creamy wild rice soup. I haven't ever had it before but I was really happy with how it went. And I really don't know if there's anything better than hot chocolate when it's cold outside.

Stress at this time of year can sometimes spike. There are a lot of things going on. You have a huge list of people that you are shopping for, you have lots and lots of parties, the kids get out of school for Christmas break, and all of that on top of your regular daily things to do. It can be hard not to turn into the Burgermeister Miesterburger. So when I feel myself starting to get grumpy or overstressed, I like to find something fun for me and the kids to do. Turn on the Christmas music and have a dance party. Find a fun, easy-to-clean-up craft. Watch a Christmas movie. Be the fun mom for a change instead of worrying about what you need to get done.
Speaking of stress, it's best to try to accept that this a busy time of year and try to do what you can to keep the stress at bay.  Get your shopping done early (but not too early because that's what helps get you into the Christmas spirit), make sure you're doing something productive every day. And don't forget to get your workout in! Working out, running or otherwise, helps keep your stress levels down. It also helps you take whatever anxious energy you might have and direct it somewhere good.

The kids helping me make snowflakes and pine tree garland

One of my favorite things about this time of year is the chance to serve others more than usual.  There's always a chance for you to serve someone, but this time of year the opportunities seem much more frequent. We like to bake treats for our neighbors or write someone a nice Christmas letter. You can donate clothes and toys to a local donation center. You could do a sub for Santa. The chances to serve are all over, and it's a great way to teach your kids to care about others and to help someone in need. It also helps you feel good and happy. 

These are the things that help me get excited about the season change, even though winter can be a hard time for me (and for many other people).  I find myself actually getting excited about winter when I think of these things.

What are your favorite things about winter?

How do you make the most out of the season changes?

Monday, December 4, 2017

Becoming Mentally Strong on Your Run

During my run the other day I was thinking about the word strong. The first thoughts when you hear the word strong is, actual physical strength. A muscle man or some bodybuilder. But as you think about it more, there is so much more to strong than physical strength.

To me, strong means you keep fighting when things get hard.

I remember at the beginning of my running life, I was so weak mentally, and I still have a lot to work on that. I remember feeling so discouraged after a race, because mentally I had given up half way through that race. It lowered my confidence and made me antsy and want to be better more than before. It gave me more drive to be better, but I didn't know how to be mentally stronger back then.  Becoming mentally strong is one of the most important things as a runner.  Half of the struggle in running is mental. Especially when you're pushing yourself further or faster than before.  Most of us know what to do to become physically stronger, but we struggle a little bit in knowing how to help our mental strength.

When I think of mental strength, one of the things that usually comes to mind is endurance. Adding mileage a little bit at a time helps our brains feel strong and able to keep going. It's kind of like biting off small pieces instead of more than we can chew. We head out for one of our first runs (or first runs in a while) and think, ok I'm going to run 4 miles today! I ran that far a couple of months ago and I haven't been running since but I'm going to do it today. Halfway through that run your brain is going to be feeling discouraged and frustrated and want to give up. But if we start out slow and work our way back up, our mental strength will have the same amount of gains as our physical strength.

The thing that builds up our mental strength most, in my opinion, are the hard runs.  I think our minds give up a lot easier and faster than our bodies will.  You know those hard days when you go out for the normal easy paced run and your brain just doesn't want to do it that day? Your body feels great, but mentally you're just not there.  This is one of the most frustrating things to me. But these are the runs that really give you that good mental strength later on.  One of the things I really like to do when I have those days is trick my brain.  I pick a landmark (that stop sign, a building, a flagpole, the corner...whatever) and I tell myself I'm going to keep going until that landmark. Then I can stop and take a break or walk. When I get to that landmark, I usually find another one and make another goal to get to that landmark and so on.  When you start to feel frustrated because "this shouldn't be that hard today" remember that every time you feel like quitting and you keep pushing instead, that's what makes you stronger.

Having good runs is (obviously) a huge help in strengthening your mentality too. This helps in the way that you can look back on those good runs and remember that you can do hard things. Those runs are the proof to you that you really are strong and you really can do the things that sometimes your brain tells you that you can't. When you have a hard run and you feel like quitting early, or you feel discouraged because you can't hit your paces. Remember the runs that you did the days and weeks before that felt amazing and remind yourself that one run doesn't define who you are as a runner. Some days are just hard.

Sometimes we have to talk ourselves into being tough.  This is what mantras are for. When I start to feel like giving up or my brain starts to think of how tired I am or how much my legs are burning, I focus on my favorite mantras. One of my favorite things to tell myself over and over is "I can do hard things" or "I've got this". It just helps me find the drive to push just a little longer and finish what my goal. Also reminding myself to smile helps me push through the hard runs and make myself mentally strong because it reminds me that I'm choosing to run and I love to do it.  Also, did you know that smiling while you run has a huge impact?

Strengthening my mentality is something that I'm constantly working on. I feel like I'm just now figuring these things out.  Being mentally strong is something that improves my running every day. Using these tricks and reminders in my running help me to improve and enjoy my running more.

What does the word strong mean to you?

Do you have any tricks to help keep you going when your mind wants to give up?

Any favorite mantras or phrases?

Friday, December 1, 2017

Staying Motivated With Aaptiv

Hey everyone, I am really excited to share an app with you that has been a huge help for my running over the last 6 weeks. Usually, around this time of year, I start to lose my motivation to get out and run. Not because it's the holidays and there are lots of parties, I can usually find the time. But it's usually due to the fact that it's dark and cold and I don't want to get out of my warm bed or do anything once it gets dark at night.

Aaptiv is a workout app that provides a huge variety of workouts. They have strength training, stretching, meditation, elliptical, cycling, maternity, core workouts and more.  They are each in their own category which makes it incredibly easy to find what you're looking for. It's also really easy to find a workout that is on your level. They have a foolproof system: Green = easy, Yellow =  moderate, red = hard.

I was extremely excited to see that they not only have outdoor running and treadmill running categories but they have a 5k all the way up to a marathon specific program. This was a big game changer for me. One of my goals for next year is to do a 10k. I've been running for 2/3 of my life and somehow I've never done a 10k race, I've also never done a real training plan. I did what my coaches told me to in high school, sometimes half-heartedly, and then I did whatever I felt like doing after that. Having a plan gave me another push of motivation to get out the door and going.  It also helped me not feel overwhelmed in deciding what I was going to do for the day.

All the workouts have a trainer talking you through each workout and music in the background.  They explain the moves at the beginning and tell you when to change into the next move.  With the 10k program, the trainer is talking you through the whole workout and telling you when your next interval is up. Another thing that I've really loved about the 10k program is that on the endurance runs, she gives you something to think about every few minutes so that you're not focusing on your body getting tired or how much you hate the treadmill.

I've loved having the app remind me to stretch after my workouts. I've always been terrible at remembering to stretch...or maybe not even just remembering but taking the time to stretch. Stretching is so important as an athlete because it helps prevent soreness and injury. After every workout aaptiv will ask you to rate the workout and then ask you if you want to take a quick 5 minutes to do one of the stretching workouts. You can opt out if you're short on time, but the reminder to do it since you're already there is a huge help.

Another program on Aaptiv that I've really loved is the meditation program.  I'll be honest, for a long time I thought meditation was a weird thing and I didn't really want to do anything like that.  But after getting this app, I decided to give it a try to help with anxiety. I was so surprised at how much it helped. They have a lot of different meditation coaches. They also have a great kid's meditation that helps your kids calm down after they've had a rough day.  When I've had a stressful day or I feel myself going into an anxiety attack, I will turn that on and it helps me calm down so quickly.  I could probably do a whole separate post on that.

I love that all I need to use Aaptiv is my phone.  It makes things so simple to just pick a workout and put my headphones in to get started. I don't have to set up the TV or search a workout on youtube.  I'm good to go as soon as the app is turned on.

You can see all the workouts that you've done and all the progress you've made, all the miles your run, etc in your profile. You can also view your favorite workouts and all the classes you've taken. It makes it super easy to find old workouts that you loved or keep track of what you've already done.

The Aaptiv app is free and a membership is cheaper than a gym membership. You can start off with a free trial and after that, you can choose your plan. Either you pay $10 month to month, or you pay $8.33/month for a year. The people at Aaptiv was awesome enough give you a month for free so that you can give it a try. Use the coupon code: BURPEES for your free month.  They also shared a link to walk you through redeeming your coupon code HERE.

What helps you stay motivated and focused on your goals in the winter?

Do you have a favorite workout app?

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

How To Know it's Time for New Running Shoes

How do you know it's time to get new running shoes? One of the most asked questions about running you hear.  I was going to try to wait until Christmas so that Trevon could use my new running shoes as a gift, but it was time. Let me tell you how I know when it's time for me to get new running shoes.

Most running shoes last for about 300-500 miles.  That's quite the range, and the length of time totally depends on you. Your weight, how often and how far you run, and your form and heel strike. So knowing when it's time can be a little tricky. But here are 3 ways to know it's time to get new running shoes.

Your Body Will Tell you

Pay attention to your body.  One of the first signs that it's time for new shoes is random naggy aches and pains during or after doing a regular easy run.  You're going to be a little sore after your harder runs, but you should feel good during and after your easy runs. This is usually how I can tell first that it's time to get new shoes. My feet were starting to hurt after my run so I knew it was time to trade my Brookes for some new shoes. These aches and pains don't just happen with worn out shoes, but if you just got new shoes and they are a different brand than normal, it may mean that you got the wrong pair of shoes for you.  If you're noticing random aches it's time to start noticing your shoes more.

Your Shoes Look Tired

Look at your shoes. You can tell when your shoes are worn down by looking at the bottom of your shoe and the midsole of your shoe. Look at the tread on the bottom of your shoes. If the tread is worn down a lot or worn down unevenly, it's time to replace them.  This all depends on running gait. My feet pronate a little so my wearing gets uneven. You can definitely tell where my foot lands when I look at the bottom of my old shoes. Running on uneven tread can eventually lead to injury.

Most new running shoes are pretty stiff and you shouldn't be able to twist them at all. So with your old run try twisting them. one hand on the shoe heel, one hand on the toe and twist them the opposite ways. If they twist fairly easy, they are worn out and it's time to get new shoes.

When the foam on the midsole of the shoe has a lot of creases in it, it's time to start thinking about new shoes. A well-worn pair of shoes will have lots of big, deep creases in the foam.

If you think it might be time to change shoes, go to a running store and try on the new model of the same shoes you have. If you put your old shoes back on and they feel dead or flat, get the new shoes.

The Miles Add Up

Like I said at the beginning, running shoes usually last around 500 miles. Try to add up the miles since you last bought the shoes.  I can also estimate this on the amount of time I've had the shoes because my training hasn't changed a lot since I've bought the old shoes. So for me, these shoes lasted about 18 months. (That's pretty good for running shoes).

When was the last time you bought new shoes?

What is the easiest way for you to know it's time for new shoes?

Monday, November 27, 2017

What To Get a Runner for Christmas (11 Great Gift Ideas for Runners by a Runner)

Christmas is coming up, I can't believe I'm already saying that, but it's true!  Christmas is four weeks away! And I'm sure your list keeps growing with what you need to get. Not to mention it's Cyber Monday! If you have any runners (or many runners) on your list, sometimes it's hard to know what to get to support them in their running. So, here are some of my favorite gifts to give (and get) to runners.

  • The obvious gift would be shoes. Sneak into your runner's closet and find out what kind of shoe they like. Take a picture if you can't tell what it is, the nice helpers at the running store near you will know. Don't forget to check the size!!

  • Socks are another one of my favorite running gifts. I love THESE bamboo socks because they are super comfortable and breathable. They are also sweat wicking.
  • As a runner, I'm always looking for new running clothes. This is something that I never really want to spend money on myself but I love when I get a new running tank top or shorts!  Right now longer pants and long sleeves are better weather wise, but come spring I'm going to be wanting a nice, lightweight tank top to help me stay cool through the summer running months.
  • A nice new water bottle to help them stay hydrated is always a great idea. THIS is my favorite water bottle to have around the house (or to take with me in the car).
  • A lot of runners carry things with them while they are running. But it can be really annoying to carry things in your hands while you run, some shorts have pockets but a lot of them are inconvenient to get to, and some belts move and rub when you step.  Getting them this RooSport might be a huge game changer for them. It might be the best gift they could get this year! I love mine and I love that I can use mine for more than just running. When I wear leggings that don't have pockets, I use my Roosport as a pocket to put my phone in.
  • Is your runner a half or a full marathoner? If so, find out what their favorite energy gel (or other kinds of running fuel) is and buy them a pack. Most of the time runners don't worry about gels unless they are running longer races, there's no reason to use these things if they are a 5k runner.
  • One thing that most people don't think of getting a runner is a race entry.  Find out what kind of race they prefer to run (make sure they don't already have an entry into the race of your choice) and pay for a bib for them.  Just know that races can get pricey depending on what the race is for, where it's at, and how long it is.
  • If your runner is someone who likes to run with music, you could always gift them some music with an iTunes or Amazon gift card. I'm always on the lookout for new running music.
  • To go along with their music, a new pair of running headphones are always nice. I love the Bluetooth headphones because I don't have to battle a cord when my arms start swinging. Make sure to get a set that is compatible with their phone.
  • Foam rollers are great gifts because they start to wear out after lots of use. And runners like to use foam rollers a lot to make sure their muscles won't be tight and sore for their runs and their races.
  • I've never used this product personally, but a lot of runners like to run with Garmin watches. I don't use one because I don't have one. But if I did, I would definitely use it. 

Do you have runners to buy Christmas gifts for?

Are you a runner who hopes to get something for running for Christmas?

Friday, November 24, 2017

Our Thanksgiving and Friday Favorites

How was everyone's Thanksgiving?  Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. My favorite is the 4th of July, and then Thanksgiving and Christmas are a tie.  I started the day off with a run on my own instead of a race (actually I don't think I've ever done a turkey trot race).

We made it to one of my families Thanksgiving traditions, the turkey shoot.  We all gather with our guns and ammo and shoot clay pigeons. Whoever hits the most takes home the trophy.  We didn't participate in the big competition but we let the girls have a turn shooting their turkey (the color of the month blender bottle was a turkey for November).

We also took some random goofy pictures, because that's how my cousins and I are. We are getting better at jumping pictures. It's only taken us 10+ years.

Then I got to work finishing the pies that I was asked to bring our feast! I love pie. My mom has the best pies ever and I attempted her pie crust recipe ON MY OWN! Trevon and I have been married 8 years and I've only made this pie crust when I've had my mom helping me. This year I was brave though and did it while V napped and I sent the kids out to play in the backyard the day before. Then I made the pie filling Thanksgiving morning.

We ate Thanksgiving dinner at my parent's house with some of my mom's side of the family. I have always loved that I live close to my cousins and grew up being friends with my cousins. Having a friend at every event was the best. Cousins make the best friends! It was also really amazing weather here, so the kids all went outside to run around and play while us adults got to sit and visit.

Then we went over to Trevon's dad's house and brought the pie I made to share with him. So much pie! We are so thankful for our family, our country, and each other!

And now for some Friday Favorites!

One of my favorite traditions at this time of year is making a photo book of the whole year. I've used a couple of different websites to do this and I loved using Mixbook because they had so many creative options to make it totally my own! And now through the 29th, they are giving everyone 55% off everything (books, holiday cards, prints, gifts etc..), plus free shipping, if you use the coupon code: CYBER17A. Be sure to check that out!

I think that the phase V is in is one of my very favorite post-baby phases. He is so so busy, and he's into everything! But, he makes up for all the mischief with cuteness. He's learning animal noises and body parts. And he gets excited over things he recognizes, like songs or certain kid shows. As long as he takes a nap, he's happy! I love it!

If you missed them, here are the favorited posts are here:

- Favorite Blender Bottle 

- Fixer Upper Season 5 Workout

- Preventing, Detecting, Stopping and Healing Injury  

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

How I Save Hundreds a Month on Groceries

When Trevon and I started our family, we decided that I'd be a stay at home parent if it was at all possible. We felt very strongly that what was important for our family is that our kids would have a parent at home to help them, love them, teach them, and raise them.  We both believe that a child deserves that. Even when the kids are all at school, I will be home as much as possible because I really feel that every kids deserves to have a parent at home when they get home from school. So from the start I became a stay at home mom.  This has been challenging in several ways for me and for our family.

One of those ways is financially.  It's hard in today's world to have a stay at home parent and afford the cost of living.  And I've found myself several times thinking "what can I do to help us save more?" also fully knowing that I'm not in a position to go get a full time job, nor do I want to.  One way that I can always save a little more here and there is at the grocery store.

The average amount for a family of 4 to spend on groceries is around $750 a month. We have a family of 5 (and really Trevon could count as two because he eats A LOT!) and we spend right around $500 a month without doing ultimate couponing or anything like that and today I'm going to share a few tricks with you to help you cut down on your grocery bill.

I've tried several of the frugal trends. I gave the coupon thing a good try but ultimately decided that it was a lot more work than it was worth to me. I tried the less shopping method, where you only shop once a month or every two weeks, but I found that the food we did get either spoiled or ran out before it was time to shop again.  I tried freezing meals, and that worked well for a little while but we had to stop because we ran out of room in our freezer and have no room in our house for a second freezer. The thing is, these plans work well for some people and that's great! But it doesn't work for all of us. So here are a few things that I do in order to make sure that we are saving as much as possible on our groceries every month.

The first thing I do is make a dinner list and a grocery list. I do this once a week.  Sunday nights I plan all of our dinner meals for the week and then from that list of meals I make of list of groceries that we need in order to make those meals. I only do this for dinner. Lunch and breakfast are pretty easy for me to keep cheap and quick and filling. But for dinner I always want to make sure that I'm making something that will fill our family, that is healthy, that will help my kids grow, and that they all like. That's kind of challenging sometimes but it can be done! After the things that we need for dinners are all on the list, I go through the kitchen and add things that we've run out of or that have gone bad.  I split that into two different lists. One for our local grocery store, and one for Costco. I split these by the price. If I know something is at Costco that is cheaper and that we will for sure go through before it goes bad. Mostly this is some fruit, meats, milk, cheese, bread, diapers, wipes and kid snacks. Now a lot of people think that the money I save on food at Costco comes out of my pocket by paying for a membership, but we use the Costco credit card and we have always earned enough back to pay for the next membership plus much more that goes right into our savings account. I'm talking hundreds back.

Next, I go shopping and I follow my list as closely as I can. I only go down the isles that I need something on. I If there happened to be a coupon that I found, I use it.  If I know that we have a good amount of room in our budget left for the month, then I will let the kids pick a treat or I'll splurge a little bit here and there. But mostly I just stick to the budget. Most of our grocery list usually consists of things like produce and eggs.  don't often impulse buy, and I don't buy a lot of junk food. We don't usually buy chips, pre-cooked meals, or other foods that we know will not hold us over or fill us up and we honestly don't miss those things all that much.

After I get done shopping, I check my Ibotta account. I love Ibotta because I almost always get some little bit of a rebate back. Even if it's 25 cents, it's still more saved than nothing.  So I go through and make sure I didn't miss anything that I bought that would count towards a rebate. (Ibotta is great for more than just groceries. You can get rebates for a lot of different stores, anything from Joann's to Amazon, to grocery stores and more).  When I reach around $20 back in my Ibotta account I transfer it to my paypal and then to my bank account. I can't say that I get to cash out from Ibotta on a monthly basis, it usually does take a few months for the money to add up, but $20 after a couple of months is better than nothing.

I cook at home every night. I pick from the list we made, or I let the kids pick between two on the list. Then, if we have left overs, we save them for lunch the next day (I don't think there's anyone who doesn't do this...). It is pretty rare that we will go out for dinner or pick something up. And a lot of times when we do get something we feed the kids something easy from home and then Trevon goes out to get us some dinner while I put kids to bed. It counts as our date night and we don't have to pay a babysitter. When we go out as a family, we splurge and don't worry so much about what it will cost. If the kids will eat it then we are ok with it.

By doing these things, we save a couple hundred dollars a month (according to the norm) in groceries. These aren't hard things to do and most of it is just habit now. (I'll add a little disclaimer here that I honestly do not buy many "organic" things. In my opinion, an apple that has been sprayed with a pesticide and hasn't been eaten by any kind of worms or bugs that I need to wash or peel, is just as good as an organic apple that costs twice as much anyway that I don't have to wash but could have a worm or bug bite on it. We buy whole produce, just not organic.)

What is your favorite way to save money at the grocery store?

What is the smallest amount you've paid at the grocery store in a week?

Do you have a favorite money saving app?

Monday, November 20, 2017

Fixer Upper Season 5 Workout

I have a fun workout to do while watching one of my favored shows (Fixer Upper)  for you today, but Before we jump into today’s post, there are a few things I need to talk about. Most important, the winner of the blender bottle giveaway is Autie Leigh! So excited for you, email me Autie!

Next, we had a crazy week last week and it didn’t stop over the weekend. This weekend Trevon and I both got sick and then our computer decided to bum out on us.  So all of my blogging or any other kind of connecting online for the next few days will either be done on our slow 10 year old computer or my little iPhone. Thank heaven for modern technology but both of those are a little trickier than my nice computer. Fingers crossed that the store fixing it doesn’t mean that the hard drive will be wiped out and that it doesn’t take too long. So depending on those circumstances, I might be a little more MIA this week. But I will do my best to post like normal!

Now for today’s post. We've all been long waiting for season 5 of Fixer Upper to start and tomorrow is the day! And I'm a little bit sad that this will be their last season!  This is one of my favorite shows. I love Chip and Joanna's relationship with each other and with their family. And they are incredibly talented and I wish I could live in one of their houses (or be their best friend). And today the wait is over! Season 5 starts tonight on HGTV.

The struggle comes in when we want to watch but it's also our workout time (especially if you don't have a treadmill to run on or something). So I put together another Fixer Upper workout similar to this one that I did for last season.

Every time...

They show a new house --- Do 10 jumping jacks

They talk about budget --- Do 10 squat jumps

Chip and Joanna are interviewed --- 10 calf raises

When the couple picks a house --- 30 plyometric lunges

Duration demo day do 3 sets of:  15 pushups, 15 crunches, 15 tricep dips

They go antique shopping --- 1-minute wall sit

They show the Gaines kids --- 30-second mountain climbers

They have a set back in the plan --- 1-minute plank

Joanna has a special project made --- 25 1 leg squats each leg

Duration of reveal day do 3 sets of: 20 bridges, 15 pushups, 20 flutter kicks

Every other commercial break, do as many sets of: squats for the length of one commercial, plank for the length of one commercial, arm circles for as long as one commercial.

Take a break during the other commercial breaks.

Get both your workout and your Fixer Upper fix all at once.  Do it with a friend and you'll enjoy it even more!

Do you have a favorite TV show that conflicts with workouts?

What TV show were you most sad about it ending?

Friday, November 17, 2017

Fast Friday Favorites and an Update

Let's start today out with an update. It's been a little bit of a crazy week at our house. It all started out with this nasty little bug.  Lice. That's lice and it was in J's hair.

We spent Monday with plastic bags tied on our heads and cleaning every single piece of cloth that was touched in the last two days. Luckily, we only found 1 lice and 1 egg and we were all clean after that. We have really great friends around us who helped out big time by bringing us dinner. Since we had the lice problem we didn't make it to the store and didn't have anything in our house.

I did also get a workout in while we were waiting for the girl's hair treatment to be done so we could wash it out. It was such a perfect day outside so I did a strength training outside. 

Thank heaven that was all over quickly and we caught up with all of our other chores the next day. We had a lot of amazing sunrises this week which made getting up for running way easier. We also had some really great sunsets, this is one of the best things about November. It's almost consistently every night that we have a great view.

I caught this guy climbing all over the place lately. He's gotten really good at quietly sneaking M&M's from our candy dish.  He's getting so busy and I can only imagine what he will be like in a couple of months. 

And I'm loving that little M is always wanting me to do her hair in different ways. I'm not great at doing hair but she's giving me a lot more practice.


Now for some Friday Favorites. Most of these are food ha. 

My dad lived in Italy for a couple of years before he married my mom.  They got to go back there a couple summers ago and they went to a pizza cooking night. Now he makes the best pizza crust and he gave me some the other day to make dinner with. If I had the recipe I'd give it to you, but I don't. But this was my favorite dinner this week.

I've been listening to some podcasts lately. And my two favorites are RunEatRepeat which is a random podcast all about running and eating, and Tiny Leaps Big Changes which is a self-help podcast to help you get more out of your life. 

I think I've mentioned this a couple times here before, but I started getting breaded Tyson chicken breast to make lunch easier for me. It really helps me eat lunch so much better. I've made salads with it, had it with roasted veggies, but this sandwich was really good and I think it might be my favorite way to have this for lunch.  

I talked about my favorite blender bottle that I've used so far the other day. You can read more about that HERE and enter a giveaway to win one! 

I hope you all have a great weekend! 

What are you doing this weekend?

Have you ever had to deal with lice?

What was your favorite thing you ate this week?

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

My Favorite Blender Bottle and Giveaway

I'm really excited today to share with you all my favorite blender bottle products and give a few away! This post is not sponsored in any way, although I am an affiliate for Blender Bottle and would get a small commission for anyone who buys any of their products through my site (thanks!). These opinions are completely my own and totally honest. I love blender bottle and their products and I'm excited to talk a little bit about them today.

Last year Trevon got a job working at the Blender Bottle warehouse. Not only do I love this company because they treat their employees really well, but I love their products. Before Trevon worked there, I hadn't tried any of them and I wasn't super interested in trying them because I don't drink a whole lot of protein drinks. But as part of the blender bottle company, Trevon got to bring home some blender bottles on occasion to use or try. Since then, I've tried several of products made by blender bottle and these are my unbiased, honest opinions on them. And I want to start with my least favorite and work my way up to my most favorite product and tell you why I like them/don't like them and how they are different from each other.

First, The Classic. This is my least favorite bottle. I remember when these started coming out a few years ago and thinking they looked cheap and ugly and bulky and my opinion of that is the same. I just don't like the way they look. I also don't like that they don't fit in my hand very well (I have pretty small hands) and I don't like that you can't put them in a cupholder well. In all fairness, since I tried the classic the first time, they have started making classics that fit in a cup holder. Still not my favorite one though. You can get these bottles in a lot of different colors. And you can also get them in your favorite sports team, the color of the month club, DC comics, and in the just for fun themes.

My next least favorite bottle is probably the radian. A lot of people really like these and I really wanted to like this one! I can see the appeal. They are made of glass, Insulated Stainless steal (for cold drinks) and plastic.  The insulated bottle is pretty cool. I love the idea. But the reason I don't like this bottle as much is that it's top heavy.  Every time I've used this bottle with a drink that needs to be shaken up, I feel like I'm about to drop it.  A lot of people use this bottle because it's not plastic (even though all of blender bottle's products are BPA Free). The main reason that I prefer other bottles to this one is the weight. Granted I haven't tried this one in the plastic so maybe that one isn't so heavy?

Next up is the sports mixer stainless. This is a neat bottle. I like the shape of it, it's easy for me to grip and isn't too heavy. But if this bottle didn't have a rubber grip on it, my hand would freeze. It's a cold bottle. But, this does help keep drinks cold (not as long as the radian) and it's a good size.  It also doesn't fit in a cup holder. You can get this in a few different color combinations which it's always fun to have it be more like your own personality.

The next bottle up is the Sports Mixer girp. This is exactly like the stainless but it's BPA free plastic and it comes in several different colors. This was my first favorite bottle. I like the size, I like that it could shake my drinks up without feeling like I was going to drop it. It's not top heavy. And I liked all the colors it came in. It still doesn't fit in a cupholder though.

Blender Bottles has accessory type products that I want to talk a little bit about before I share my favorite bottle that I've tried. There are some storage attachments that are meant to be used for protein. You attach them to the bottom of some of the bottles (they only have specific bottles that have the attachment bottom) and then you can pour the protein in when you're ready for it. These are called Pro Stacks. I don't use these for protein but I do use them for a lot of other things. I use them for snacks to take with us to church or to the store or to the doctors or anywhere that I might end up needing snacks for the kids. I use them to make dips for the kid's lunches (because making fry sauce and honey mustard on a daily basis is pretty time-consuming. I just make a big batch and store it in one of these in the fridge).  I also use them to store mine and the girl's hair things (because with 3 of us in the house there are a lot and it can get out of hand).  They are really great for traveling and making sure things stay put. I use Pro Stacks for basically any kind of storage that I can think of.

Another storage accessory they have is a lot like the prostack but they are a little bit smaller. These are GoStacks. I love these! These save me every day. J is one of those kids who doesn't like food touching.  She's also a home lunch student because she's so picky.  So I use these every single day to pack her lunches. You can read all about that HERE.

And finally, my very favorite blender bottle that I've tried (Because remember, I haven't tried them all) is the Sportsmixer Signature Sleeks. This bottle is so simple and for some reason, it's my favorite. It comes in lots of fun patterns and colors. It is lightweight and fits in my hand really nicely. I don't feel like I'm going to drop it when I'm mixing drinks up. And it fits in any cup holder. I use this bottle ALL THE TIME. The only thing I would change about this bottle is that I don't love the spouts on any of the blender bottles. I prefer a spout more like my Contigo bottle. Not sure what it is about Contigo bottles but I just love the spout on them.

So today I'm going to be giving away one Signature Sleek of your choice and a set of GoStacks (check the pictures below for the different options) to one lucky winner! All you need to do to enter is leave a comment on this blog. Tell me anything you want. What your doing today, what your favorite water bottle is, what your workout is. Anything. Then for extra entries, like me on facebook and follow me on Instagram. Leave an extra comment letting me know that you did (I'll check it). Winner will be announced on Monday 11/20!