Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Why I Love To Blog

Hi Everyone!!!!

So this Top Ten Tuesday, I thought I would tap into the life of my blog with the Top Ten reasons really why I blog. I have started this little blog going on almost 3 years now and I have to say it has been one of the best things I could have ever started.

Here are some of the reasons why....

10. It is fun. Seriously I know that seems so simple but really it is a lot of fun. I have fun coming up with posts, adding stuff, researching etc. It brings an aspect of "fun" to my life that I had not had before.

9. Allows me to branch out. Blogging has gotten me out of comfort zones, I didn't know I didn't have before. Blogging has allowed me get out and be social with new people, who instantly became friends. It is hard to find friends at my job, mainly because all our stores are all over and I am the boss, so Blogging gives me that social network, easily.

8. I can 100% be me with my blog. I don't hide much back blogging, I am the same person in my blog as I am in real life and I can express that always.

7. It taps into my love of writing. I went to college for writing and well that didn't pain out 100, blogging gives me that love of writing I had in college and growing up and adds more flair to it.

6. I get to try new products or different products. Blogging gives me access to try new things I normally wouldn't or really given the chance to do so without blogging. I have tried new foods, new places, etc, just with the sense I will post and blog about it and that is really awesome.

5. I met one of my best friends through blogging. Nanci and I met on Instagram and she commented on my picture I posted years ago when I first started blogging. I had posted a picture about what I should name my blog and she commented she went a little more generic with hers to express everything about her life. That comment made me instantly adore her and because of that, I had fun searching my blog title and we instantly became BFF.

4. More friends. Blogging actually has allowed me to meet so many different people in person and through the Internet. My blog has allowed me to talk to people from all over, reach out, motivate and inspire. It truly is amazing.

3. I love my blog because I can ramble on and on like this one and it is 100 okay to do so.

2. I love blogging because of the potential it can give me to go places. Seriously I can interact with so many different companies and people through blogging, it opens a lot of doors. And maybe I am not there just yet, but I know the potential to grow is there.

1. And the Number 1 reason, is because it is mine. It is my me time to sit down and blog. To call myself a blogger, is really cool. I am feel like I am in elite company,  it is a neat title to add to your life. It brings me happiness, joy and it fills my love cup up!!!

Friday, February 17, 2017

How Social Media Has Changed My Fitness Game

Good Friday Morning!!!

I am off of work today and it is set up to be a glorious day!! Plans include, coffee, of course, which I am consuming as I speak, Doggie Day care pick up, a nice lonnnnnggg walk downtown, a nap of course, some reading, and some catching up on laundry, which I hate to do.

So last night I was running downtown at my favorite spot ever and when I am running and in the groove, I get to thinking about random things. I can go on one thing to another in my brain with the sound of the pavement under my feet. You should hear the thoughts I have when I start on my long runs, I clear a lot of clutter that way. Okay, so yesterday while I was running, I was thinking about social media and how it has really changed the way of fitness and weight loss and healthy living aspects of my life.

Before Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, when you worked out or ate food or really just lived, no one really knew and quite frankly no one probably would have cared. I found pictures, yes, really pictures in my hand of what would now be called a selfie I had taken of myself in the mirror, before it was cool. Remember having to wait forever for those. Or if you were high tech, you had a camera you could upload to your computer to save the file and print it out. 

But no one knew what you had for breakfast, lunch or dinner. No one knew what new foods were high in points or ones that fit your macros perfectly before. Now that is all changed and I have to say that Social Media, has lifted my fitness game to all new levels. When I started with WW years ago, Social Media, specifically Instagram kept me in the game. Searching hashtags of weight watchers members, finding people who had similar interests, seeing posts about new food, different ways to cook the food and new products to help you stay motivated and engaged.

Then in that same way, finding my running family. When I started running, I went onto Instagram and found people who lived by me, loved running, I found new running products that way, but more importantly, watching them post about their runs or cross training or successes and not so great runs, made me a better runner, not only made me one, BUT I wanted to be one. Geez that was a super run on sentence with that one.

Social media has given me a cheering squad, I never knew I had. Total strangers who post on your wall or pictures, encouraging you to do better next time, keep your head up and congratulate you on a job well done. People you have never even met before, except through hashtags and pictures or SnapChats. It is kind of amazing.

I met one of my best friends, Nanci through Instagram. We met simply through our love of WW and running and living close by. From there we met up one day for a run, not knowing anything about each other and now we are the best of friends. Amazing!!!!

Social media holds you a accountable too in a way that is almost hard to explain. There is a deep satisfaction posting about your work out or run from that day. If it is a proud run, you want people to know how great it was, or if it was a bad run, you want them to know it happens, but you are not letting it get you down. 

I know some people make fun of others that if you didn't post your picture from lunch, then what did you really eat, but I love posting food pictures because it might just give someone that idea to eat healthier or try something different. Most of the newer foods I find to try, I have gotten from someones post on Instagram, because of their recommendation. I have tried online only products because of recommendations and changed the game of life, basically. Hello Protein Doughnuts with fun toppings for less than 200 calories, LIFE CHANGING.

My weight loss and running has amplified because of Social Media, I use it to my advantage and want to engage in the world and let everyone know that if I can do it so can you. Yes, there are some awful people out there who tear people down because of they have nothing better to do, but there are so many more people who just want to lift you up too.

If you are just starting out on a fitness journey or aren't sure where to start, start in Social Media, start with Instagram, click on some hashtags, follow those fitness enthusiasts and you will be surprised how much your fitness life will change.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Week 5: Amping up my Running!!!

I really need to get typing away the beginning of the week, rather than later on. So last week, was week 5 of my fitness year! Week 5 brought a lot of fun and some more running, which lets be honest has been a little bit of lack luster lately.

So week 5 started off pretty strong, as I got a 3 mile run in at night on that Sunday. I went and saw A Dog's Purpose with Nanci, Jesus was that a tear jerker, holy heck. We literally cried from start to finish. I am not even kidding on that one!!!

After I went and picked up my favorite pooch to watch him for the afternoon. He was a complete snuggle monster, I think he knew how much the movie did me in. We relaxed for a bit and him and I were both ready to get running. Running with Sherman is a bit tough, he likes to go fast and chase a million squirrels so getting into a rhythm is tough, but for smaller runs and walking we are getting through it.

We managed to get through 3 miles.

Tuesday I had gotten home from work way earlier than I anticipated which is always a great thing. The weather was perfect and my Spark was tasting fantastic and kicked in at the right time. I planned to just run for a little bit, mostly 2 miles. Well I ran until 2 miles and turned around and ran back again for a nice total of 4 miles. And let me tell you, it was amazing!!!! I have not ran that long in quite some time, but it wasn't just the miles, it was the whole thing that I had the time and just went out for the run. Nothing holding me back, just me and the road.

I had that runner's high back again and it was glorious.

The rest of the week was not great. I felt a bit off, not sure what was going on. So I took some rest days and then on Saturday was the first race of 2017 for me. I did Best Damn Race 5k in Safety Harbor, you know I was feeling all kinds of great feels with that one from my Friday Post! The race was a great success. I ran it with my favorite ladies

We had a great run. No competition or trying to break any PR's or anything like that. It was just us 3 going out and running for the love of the race and earning some really cute bling. It felt great to cross a finish line again too, it I has been since Thanksgiving that I have done a race and there is seriously nothing greater than crossing that line.

And I love this picture of us. While I hate my arm, seriously it looks like a big old turkey leg. I am feeling more confident again with my stomach. I know it is leaning out and getting smaller and I am thrilled to see that happening. I really have to get into toning again. Why do I have such a hard time working that into my work outs???

So week 5 was all about the race and getting my love of running back. Half Marathon training is beginning and this was the week, I needed to kick start it off. And I can not wait to get more races going under my belt!!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Friday Feels

Happy First Friday of February!

Whew that is a lot of "F's" lets add in some Friday Feels today!!

I have a pretty Fun weekend planned this time around too. Tomorrow I am running my first race of the year with the Best Damn Race in Safety Harbor. I am doing the 5k and running with Nanci! I did the Half Marathon last year. I thought I was ready for it. I felt like I was prepared, but deep down inside I knew I really wasn't.

Training was really hard for that half marathon for me. I had a rough Christmas and then got hit with sickness and sinus issues right after and it just tore my body up. So the morning of the race I did feel off. Then I got to the race and my nerves was all over the place and then I saw that the race had a bunch of rolling hills. I was not expecting that nor was I ready for that.

Then it was cold. Like Florida cold and it was damp and rainy. It was horrible. My body did not react well to the cold. I couldn't get my legs to move properly and I couldn't get in the zone. Plus Aunt Flo decided, Hey I am coming for a visit NOW! Which always sends my body into an overdrive.

I have never had a bad race, until that race. I was crying on the last 3 miles. I called James to tell him how freaking hard this really was. Which he said of course it is And, your running 13.1 miles, that is a shit load!!! LOL, he has a way with words as you can tell! I could not wait to be finished with that run.

So I knew this year I would want to redeem myself from that run, well then I have had some serious hip pain this year and I knew I wasn't ready and did not want to have history repeat itself. BUT I still wanted to sign up for the race, so I signed up for the 5k and I am so excited to run it. I get to run with my bestie and I have the weekend off.

And I can really, REALLY train for the Nashville Half Marathon in April.

Another Friday feel. Super Bowl is Sunday, which yay it is fun, but I get to cook a lot of fun foods for a party we are going to. Which I love cooking SB foods, they are quick and easy. So far I am making crockpot meatballs, Buffalo Chicken Dip, Crack Crackers and Fireball Jell-O shots!

Stay tuned because I will post those!

Other fun Friday feels. I am planning on dog sitting my little buddy Sherman tomorrow after the race, I plan on reading a lot on Sunday. I have not been great with my reading and need to dive right back in, I have a ton of books ready to go too!

So while it seems like a pretty simple weekend, I am pretty dang excited about it!!

What are some plans you have for the weekend??

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Week 3 & Week 4 Progress & Feb. Goals

Welp the year is officially starting to fly on by....it is February 1st already. I have given up on the fact that just like last year this year is going to be slower, not a dang chance.

Okay so before I jump into some new goals for this month, lets chat a bit about the last two weeks. Beginning with my weight did stay the same and I am okay with that BUT I am starting to see some changes in my stomach for sure and in my legs again. They are starting to shape up a bit more and I don't feel as bloated.

The last two weeks have been good. Nothing too crazy to report. My work outs have been great and I am staying really active, especially when I am babysitting our friends dog, Sherman. He keeps me on my toes and we are constantly going on walks together. He loves to be outside and so do I, so it is a win-win for sure.

My running has gotten sooooo much better. I am still having some hip pain at times but I am working through it. Yesterday after work, I went out for a run, I figured I would go out for just a quick run, nothing too special or crazy, just two miles. Well at my mile turn around, I was like you know what I am going to keep going. I have a straight away, and down is 2 miles already. So I was like I am going for 4 today. Typically I don't because I have so much to do or I complain or whatever. But last night I was in the groove and I just wanted to run.

The weather was amazing. I felt amazing. The Spark I had drank, kicked in beautifully and my play list was hitting some really great songs. I was ready to take on a random 4 miles and do it. And I did. I felt great after. I know coming from someone who loves long distance running, 4 miles isn't all that crazy but I haven't done it for the fun of it in FOREVER.

My eating has been on point too these last two weeks. Sure I have my sweet tooth and I have been eating just 100 calorie snacks for that or Halo Top ice cream. I am not snacking in between crazy as much and when I am eating dinner, I am slowing down some also. I have been eating and adding in lots of protein too.

Still needing to get back to veggies to eat as snacks at time too and more water. Fruit has not been a big thing in my world either lately. Blueberries, yes and grapes but that's about it. I bring my lunch and breakfast to work every day. And I actually meal prepped some breakfast this week, which turned out amazing. One was a pancake bites and the other was a egg white bake. Recipes for both of those, I will post by the weekend. They make perfect meal prep easiness.

While I have been doing more running than anything else lately. YouTube still has been my go to for my at home work outs and they have been great. I really work up a pretty great sweat with them for sure. Fitness Blender on YouTube is amazing by the way.

So I am doing really great. January was a great start to the year. I feel really good. I am starting to see I look good and more importantly I am not discouraged at all and still living my life.

Okay some February Goals are going to be a bit simpler. I am going to be running more. I am starting my Half Marathon training next week for my Half Marathon in April in Nashville. So implanting that training is going to be key. I NEED to drink more water at work. I am so bad about bring it in my Yeti or bringing bottles with me and that stops today. And toning more. More work outs with my arms. Pretty simple and achievable!!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

6th Year Fit Anniversary!

There are many moments in my life that kind of define who I am. Changed me for the better. Obviously when I graduated High School and College, those are first ones. Then when I took the leap of Faith when I moved to Florida. When I ran my first Full Marathon and this day, 6 years ago, actually was the day that brought me to my first Full. 

Without this day, January 26, 2011, that Full marathon and everything in between, never would have happened. This day 6 years, I walked into a Weight Watchers meeting, not expecting anything, doing to support a friend, hoping to just loose some weight and that was it. Well I got a second chance walking in there. I got a chance at a new life and became someone I never thought I could possibly be.

I still remember that day like it was yesterday. I suppose some days just really stick with you. I was wearing a green velvet jumpsuit. The size was a 1x. I was never a 1x before and I knew this would change me forever. I went to get lunch with my friend Missy before. We got pizza and mozzarella sticks, kind of like our last meal. We were going to WW to just join and start a meeting. I honestly didn't expect to have to weigh in. SO when I stepped on that scale, I was shocked. I couldn't believe the number on the scale, 234. I was way over 200 pounds. At my 5 foot frame, that was alarming. I knew I had gained weight, of course, I was not blind to it. I knew how it happened, poor eating, no exercise, etc. I was not SHOCKED "shocked" you know.

I saw that number, my stomach sank, but I knew it was time to change and time to move on. I stayed for the meeting. And loved the experience and jumped in right away. I posted that image to my Facebook and was flooded with so much love and support right away. James was shocked I was doing it, I didn't even tell him. I wanted to do it on my own and support my friend, Missy. I was so nervous, but excited to try something different.

I LOVED tracking. I am a super visual person and seeing my points, etc, gosh it got my juices flowing. And when I lost the first week and how awesome I felt, even eating some things that weren't "DIET" food. I was hooked. I stayed on WW for 4.5 years. I fell in love with running because of WW. I LOVE healthier types of food because of WW. The way I drink my coffee and snack is because of WW. I read labels and nutrients because of WW. Everything I do to this day is because of WW. Who I am, as a healthy lifestyle person is strictly because of WW. I ran 8 half marathons and a full and a challenge because of WW.

Without the help of WW and my own personal motivation and dedication and devotion, I would still be 234 pounds. After 4.5 years, WW died out for me. I was not seeing the results I was getting initially. I was getting bored with points and I felt like I was not eating enough because the exercise I was doing. I did online WW for a bit and then figured, I could do this for free with My Fitness Pal. And so I left WW. But here is the thing, I never really LEFT. WW has a way of staying with you for life, honestly. I still know points to a lot of items.

And all my healthy foods, is because I ate them on Weight Watchers and dang they do have some good WW branded items, I still enjoy. Once a WW, you are a WW for life lol. So for the last 1.5 years I have been tracking my calories and understanding the world of Macros. The last 1.5 years, I have changed my habits, with my protein and water. More than I ever did on Weight Watchers. I track calories, and yes I still track, every single day. Remember I love that visual reminder!

While, I have gained some weight on and off this past 1.5 year. I HAVE NEVER GIVEN UP! And I stay that way for 6 years now as my FITiversary!

6 years of being healthy and being a better version of myself and who I am. I am a constant work in progress. I know my downfalls and I know that when I have a bad day, I can pick myself up and start again. I know that not ever mile I run will be great, but I KEEP running. I know that the gym is the best place to unwind. And yes I can have a slice of pizza and wine, but the next day I SHOULD not. One day is enough. 

I know I love protein and lean protein. I know I love fruit and veggies and even though getting healthy food is expensive, it is worth it. I am 6 years of living a healthy lifestyle and a lifetime to go.

And I know that this 6th year just might be my best year yet.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Things I Learned From Chick-Fil-A Oldsmar

Hi Friends!

Last week I was given a night of yummy goodness at a local Chick-Fil-A here in Florida. The Chick-Fil-A of Oldsmar to be exact.

Through my relationship with the Tampa Bay Bloggers, I was given a free meal and some goodies for my participation and post, but all opinions are my own.

I love chicken and when I first moved here to Florida, 8 years ago, James told me there would be one place I would truly love; Chick Fil A. And yup, sure enough I did! The fast food restaurant, sells nothing but chicken, hello, best place ever. Not only chicken sandwiches, chicken nuggets, soups, salads, etc. And dessert, but not chicken related haha on that one.

There are many locations in my area, even one in my mall but the Chick-Fil-A of  Oldsmar, FL, is very special. You can tell instantly it is being run by a fantastic manager, who truly enjoys what he is doing, displays that to his staff, which in turn gets all over the customers and as a customer and consumer, I greatly appreciate that and keep coming back for more.

While we were visiting, I learned a tremendous amount about Chick-Fil-A and here for this Top Ten Tuesday, were some highlights.

10. Chick-Fil-A has over 2000 plus locations, they are serving up a LOT of chicken all over.

9. Employees at Chick-Fil-A get to eat for free. That is the coolest perk of a job I can think of.

8. Chick-Fil-A started the food court. Yup, that central location at your favorite mall all started thanks to the owner of Chick-Fil-A. He went to a mall, said I want to put my restaurant in there and the Poof a food court had begun.

7. Chick-Fil-A started in Atlanta.

6. Chick-Fil-A believes 100 in loyalty.

5. In 1995, the cow campaign began. You know the Chick-Fil-A cow, Eat More Chikin. Those cows since then have brought the company many years of sales increase. And has given us consumers the some of the best commercials and billboards.

4. The owners of Chick-Fil-A, the Cathy family, invented the Chicken Sandwich. And thank goodness because it is delicious.

3. The family secret recipe is the original chicken sandwich and still till this day is is super secret. Only the family members are aware.

2. Chick-Fil-A has the #1 calendar each year in the county. The calendar is pretty fantastic. Each month you get a picture of the famous cow AND a food card worth over 35 dollars in free food. Each month you can go to Chick-Fil-A with your calendar card and a get a free item. Oh and make sure to download the Chick-Fil-A app, you get amazing food treats that way too!!

P.S. I am giving away one of these on my Facebook page @ RunChewSparkle today too!!!

1. Chick-Fil-A franchise owners hold the standards of Chick-Fil-A to the highest regards. The Chick-Fil-A of Oldsmar does this beautifully. They want their customers to not only get Grade A chicken, but A Grade A experience also. Hence the "A" in Chick-Fil-A!

If you are in the area, please do yourself a favor and check out the Chick-Fil-A of Oldsmar Facebook page. You can see that this location does it right. Plus they offer tons of events, such as on Tuesday's kids. night, where kids eat for free and tons of other fun events. They post specials through text messaging, etc. Believe me you will leave feeling full and satisfied.