Friday, September 30, 2016

Top Five Friday #69

Hey guys!  Is it really Friday already?  And the last day of the month?  I swear, it feels like September didn't even happen.  This month just flew by and was really busy!  I'll be sure to update you more next Thursday in the "What's New With You" linkup- make sure you join Kristen and me!

For now, I have a bunch of favorites to share with you today.  Let's get to it!


Caress Adore Forever - 9/10 - I love this line of body washes.  The scent actually stays on you all day, and I always feel really clean after using it!
Suave Daily Clarifying Shampoo - 8/10 - I use this shampoo about once a week to get rid of any build up from dry shampoo or other hair products.  This one is cheap and does the trick.
Ban Refresh Cloths - 10/10 - These are so great to have in a gym bag or in the car to make yourself feel refreshed and a bit more clean when you have to rush after a workout!
elf Lip Exfoliator - 7/10 - This is a great and cheap exfoliator in a convenient stick form, but it dried out pretty quickly.
Kate Somerville Daily Deflector - 10/10 - I got this sample in the Sephora Sun Safety Kit, and it's definitely my favorite.  I wish it wasn't so expensive because I want it in the full size!
Almay Get Up and Grow - 10/10 - One of my favorite mascaras. Gives great length and volume with a nourishing formula.
Tarte Lights Camera Flashes - 9/10 - Such an amazing formula and brush, but I don't like buying more expensive mascaras!
OGX Conditioner - 7/10 - Basic conditioner that didn't blow me away.  I liked using the travel size during trips and at the gym.
Urban Decay All Nighter - 7/10 - This has a great spray that evenly disperses the product all over, but since I don't wear any kind of face makeup anymore I don't really have a use for it!
Hask Monoi Oil - 10/10 - By far my favorite oil.  It smells amazing, makes my hair look silky but not greasy, and is SUPER cheap.  Seriously- buy this now!

RADical Days

In Pittsburgh, there's an annual event where local businesses hold free events all over the city.  There are so many different options, from a free day at the zoo to tours of PNC Park (check out all the upcoming events here!).  I was most excited to see a free concert at Heinz Hall by the incredible Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.  The show was fantastic and it was such a fun night out (especially since it was free!).  Here are the songs that the orchestra played:

Copland - Hoe Down
Rimsky-Korsakov - Scheherazade
Ravel - Beauty and the Beast
Brahms - Concerto in D major for Violin and Orchestra
Dukas - The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Williams - Harry Potter Theme

Will and Grace

This week it was announced/leaked that Will and Grace is coming back!  A short "episode" was released earlier this week centered on the upcoming election, and it's unclear if there's going to be a special or complete show reboot (or- this little clip might be all we get).  I grew up watching Will and Grace with my mom, so I'm super excited to see it coming back no matter what form it takes!

How To Get Away With Murder

Fall TV is back, and all of the premiers and pilots have been great so far.  I have to give the "most suspenseful" award to HTGAWM, whose first episode gave me so many goosebumps at the end!  Usually the viewers know who is dead/dying/hurt from the beginning, but this time they're keeping it a secret.  I'm guessing that the presumably dead person is either Wes or Bonny, but it could really be anyone.  And how did the house catch on fire!?

Weekly Smile

In my Top Five Friday posts, I want to start ending with a Weekly Smile- just a little something to make you happy before you leave!  Today my smile is courtesy of Selma, who was really confused by Dan being in the hammock:

I hope that made you smile!  Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Wednesday Reviews : Skinny Coconut Oil

Hi everyone!  It's been a while since I've done a Wednesday Review post, and I'm excited to bring it back.  Today I'm going to be talking about one of my favorite beauty and food products- coconut oil.  If you read any beauty, health, or fitness blog you've probably seen this product all over the place, because it's pretty much magical.  You can eat it, feed it to your pets, use it in your hair, clean your face....pretty much everything!

I was lucky enough to get to sample a few different coconut oil products from the brand Skinny and Co, and I'm excited to share my thoughts!  I've been using all of the products for a few weeks now, and have a pretty good idea of what works and what isn't for me.

Just a disclaimer- I was sent these products for review, but I'm not being paid at all for this post!  All of the thoughts are 100% honest :)  If you're interested in trying anything from Skinny and Co, you can save 15% by using the code SKINNYCO15.  Now, let's get to the reviews!

Coconut Oil

To be honest, regular coconut oil isn't the most exciting product in the box, so let's start off by getting it out of the way.  Since there were so many different beauty products, I decided to use the plain oil for cooking rather than as a moisturizer or conditioner.  I started to cut butter out of my diet this year during my Whole30 and recently when I switched to a vegan diet, so I've been using coconut oil like crazy!  Not only is this great for a cooking oil, but it's also great for desserts.  Since the oil solidifies very easily, it's a great way to DIY some chocolate magic shell or chocolate cups.

What's special about this oil is that it's 100% raw and alkaline, which means the oil was never heated above 100 degrees during processesing, and contains no filler oils.  It's really crazy to see the difference in clarity when the oil is in a liquid state compared to the oils I usually get.

Overall, I would give this a solid 10/10.  I like the product, and appreciate the fact that it's pure!

Oil Pulling

I was probably most excited to see an oil pulling product in this kit.  This was a trend that really took off earlier this year, and I was intrigued to try it out, but always chickened out.  The thought of swishing around oil in my mouth for 20+ minutes honestly grossed me out (and freaked me out a bit too)!

Thankfully, this product isn't just a regular oil- it also has peppermint oil in it which really helps make it taste more fresh and bearable.  It's a pretty subtle flavor, so it helps to freshen your breath while you swish without being too overpowering.

I've been doing this pretty much every night for about 10 minutes (I still can't get any further without being grossed out!) and I think it's really helping my teeth look more bright and my mouth to feel really clean!  I usually do this at the beginning of my night routine, so I wash my face, apply moisturizer, pluck my eyebrows, cut my nails, or do anything else to kill those 10 minutes.  This is also a great time to catch up on my Snapchat stories!

Overall, I would give this product 8/10. I love the addition of peppermint oil and think it works really well, but it still grosses me out a bit!

Sugar Scrub

If you want to smell something amazing- get this product.  I absolutely LOVE sugar scrubs, and this might be the best one I've ever tried.  The ingredient list is really simple- coconut oil, coconut salt, and vanilla bean.  It can be used as an all-over body scrub or as a lip scrub, and like I mentioned smells SO GOOD.

The product is gritty enough to really soften your skin, but not abrasive.  The coconut oil in it also helps soften your skin, so you're left with baby-soft, moisturized skin.  A little bit goes a long way with this as well, so after I finish up this little jar I'm going back for more!

Before I put this in my shower, I also tasted a little bit (HEY- the ingredients are all food products so it's ok!) and it is amazing!  I almost want to buy a little jar just to add to coffee and tea for a hint of sweetness and vanilla.  I promise, this is one of the uses recommended by the company, so I'm not completely crazy!

Overall, I would give this product 11/10.  It works SO well and smells amazing.  Definitely going to repurchase!

Facial Oil

I typically use mineral oil to remove my makeup at night, so I was interested in trying out this facial oil.   Not only is this a moisturizer, but it can also be used as a makeup remover and cleanser.  In case you didn't know, oils are really good to break down makeup and take off waterproof mascara.

I was a little nervous that this product would either sting my eyes or make me breakout because it has lavender, chamomile and basil mixed with the coconut oil.  This helps it smell spa-like, and actually helps to calm my skin instead of irritate it!

At night, I've been using this oil to remove my makeup, then I cleanse with my favorite CeraVe foaming face wash, and finish up with a bit of oil all over as a moisturizer.  It hydrates my skin really well (this will be especially great in the winter!) and also gets all of my makeup off with no problem!

Overall, I would give this product 8/10.  I love how well it works, but lavender isn't my favorite scent.

Body Butter

Finally, I tried out a body butter that's infused with almond oil, vitamin E and other essential oils.  Just like all of the other products, this smelled amazing!  I typically don't pick up products with almond oil because it smells like fake cherries to me, but this scent was subtle and smelled almost like vanilla.  Amazing!

There are so many uses for this product, from a shaving cream to hair mask, but I just used it as a body moisturizer.  I especially like to use this after my shower when I shave my legs.  I usually don't like to apply lotion right away because it can sting, but this was so soothing and made my legs look and feel amazing!

Overall, I would give this product 10/10.  I have no complaints about it, and it smells so great!

As you can tell, I loved all of the products!  My stand out favorites would definitely be the sugar scrub and facial oil, and I'll definitely repurchase these as soon as they run out.  The regular coconut oil and body butter were both great as well, but weren't as unique or different to me.  I also liked trying the minty oil to oil pull, but can't see myself doing this long-term.  Don't forget to use SKINNYCO15 if you want to buy anything from Skinny and Co!

Are you a fan of coconut oil?
Have you tried oil pulling?  Thoughts?
What is your favorite use of coconut oil?

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Towpath Half Marathon Training : Week 5

What a week!  The stars were aligned and I ended up having the best week (by far) of training.  Thankfully, there are only two weeks until race day, so I'm hoping to ride this training high right to the starting line.  This was my final hard week of training, so let's take a look at how it all went down:


4 miles / 36:40 / 9:09 pace
I started my week off with a little tempo run.  I did a half mile warm up, followed up 3 miles at an 8:00 pace and half mile cool down.  This felt like a comfortably hard pace, which tells me I did it right!  Also- how about that fog over the city?!  Beautiful!


Yoga / 45:00
 I was actually planning on trying out a new class at my gym, but the instructor was out of town so I ended up doing yoga instead.  Hopefully I'll get to try it next week!


Rest Day!
 I started to feel a little sick on Wednesday and decided to take a rest day.  I'm not sure if it's allergies, changing in weather or just a cold, but it wasn't fun!  Lots of sneezing and coughing and pretty much no energy.  I barely made it through work without falling asleep, so I decided to take a day off!


3 miles
I still wasn't feeling great and was just going to skip this run as well, but Suzy sent me a text about a Canadian named Terry Fox who ran across the country with only one leg to raise money for cancer.  With that kind of inspiration, how could I stay home with sniffles?   


3 miles / 26:15 / 8:45 pace
I'm hoping this was our last warm day for a while, because this was a brutal run!  I ran in the evening and did three one-mile hill repeats.  It was close to 90 degrees and humid, so this was a really challenging run!  The downhills saved me!

Core / 30:00
I joined Dan for his core exercises, and threw in a few sets of each exercise along with some Sun Salutations to make a good 30 minute core workout.


4 miles / 37:34 / 9:23 pace
Glorious, glorious weather.  Still a bit humid, but I'll take it if the temperature is below 70!  This was also a cloudy morning, so it felt great out.  Went on a nice and easy run to shake out my heavy legs after running hills!

In the evening, Dan surprised me with tickets to the Pirates Game with a Hunter Hayes show afterwards!  Hunter is one of my favorite singers, so I was REALLY excited!  The game was pretty awful but the show was amazing, and we ended up getting home around 1:00!  Party animals!


11 miles / 1:41:00 / 9:10 pace
Today was my final long run before the race, and it could not have gone any better (especially considering that I only got 5 1/2 hours of sleep!). The temperature was right around "ideal running weather" (55 degrees), my entire body felt great, and my mind was in the right place.  I also decided to wear my sneakers that are usually for easy runs to see how they would hold up for a long run, and they did great!  I decided that these would be my race shoes. 

I did two laps of North Park, one each direction to mix it up, and listened to a podcast while wearing a jacket for the first lap. Second lap I took off the jacket and turned on music and felt like I was just starting the run! Isn't that the best feeling? My final 6 miles were all under 9:00 (one was 8:32 whoo hoo!).

After I got home, I got to work!  Dan and I are building a shed in our back yard, and today we had my dad's help.  We did a lot of hauling of 80 pound bags of concrete, 50 pound bags of river rock, digging holes, and filling them with cement.  My entire body was tired by the end of the day, but I can't wait for the shed to be ready!

How was your week?  
Anyone else struggle with allergies? I never used to have allergy issues until we moved!
Hunter Hayes fan?

Friday, September 23, 2016

Top Five Friday #68

Happy Friday (and officially-fall) everyone!  I'm feeling a little under the weather, so I'm looking forward to sleeping in this weekend and catching up on some Fall TV premiers (did anyone watch This Is Us?  So good!).  I have so much to share today, so let's get to it!

Linking up with MarCynthia and Court 
as well as Heather and Momfessionals

Endangered Species Chocolate

Dan picked this chocolate up for me on a whim at the store, and it's so good!  It's certified vegan, gluten free, non-GMO, and a portion of it goes to support endangered animals!  It actually tastes good too, so you really can't lose.  We found it at our local grocery store, but I've also seen it at Whole Foods, and it's available on Amazon! YUM!

Miley's Back!

Little known fact of me- I was a huge Hannah Montana fan growing up.  I don't even think that I was the target demographic, but I watched that show religiously, own the movie, and dressed up like her for Halloween.  I own all of Miley's music and have been a fan even when she was going through her crazy phase!  Now she's back and better than ever, starring on this season of the Voice!  She recently visited Jimmy Fallon, and you have to check out her performance.  She's amazing! (p.s. if you want to see Miley's musical evolution- watch this video!)

The Easiest Pumpkin Latte

I've been making my own pumpkin spice lattes this week, and I'm obsessed.  After some experimentation, I found a mixture that's flavorful, not overly sweet, and vegan!  It also only takes about 2 minutes to throw together, so when I'm rushing out the door at 6 in the morning, it's clutch.  Here's my "recipe":

1 T pumpkin puree
1 t pumpkin pie spice
1 t maple syrup (or sweetner of choice...add more or less to taste)
1 shot espresso (or 2 when you have a case of the Mondays)
8 oz steamed almond milk

Add ingredients to a mug in order listed, and whisk to combine.  If you don't have a milk frother, heat almond milk in a saucepan with pumpkin puree, spices and syrup.

Play! By Sephora

Anastasia Brow Gel - I have really full, thick, unruly brows and this gel works so well!  It keeps them tamed all day long but doesn't make them look too stiff or unnatural.
Kat von D Tattoo Liner - MY FAVORITE LINER.  I was so excited to get a mini in the box this month!
Living Proof Night Cap - I love using this along with my Living Proof shampoo!  My new favorite hair brand!
Sephora Rouge Shine Lipstick - The color is really pretty and the formula is so creamy and smooth.  I'm not really a fan of shiny lipsticks though, and this one looks like a straight up gloss.
Ole Henriksen Sheer Transformation - I love how silky smooth this moisturizer is!  Big fan.

iPhone 7

I decided to finally upgrade my phone and get the new iPhone!  I've had the iPhone 5 for the past few years, and while I loved it, some features stopped working.  Plus, I work on the mobile and emerging payments team at my bank, and everyone made fun of me for not being able to use Apple Pay or any kind of digital wallet!  So far, I'm loving the phone, especially the amazing photos it takes!  I got the phone in black (not jet black) and got this case to go with!


Such a fun and catchy song!

If you follow me on Snapchat you saw a little interpretive dance to this song...I absolutely LOVE it

Adding this song to my running playlist immediately!

This version of Katy Perry's song gave me SO many's incredible

Another oldie but goodie!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

15 Minute Core Workout

Hi everyone!  In Dan's last health update, he mentioned that he started to do daily exercise to strengthen his core.  He's had back problems for the past two years, and I taught him a few stretches and exercises to help strengthen his back, as well as work his entire core.  He started doing them daily, and it's already making a big difference for him!

Today I'll be sharing a weekly schedule that he's been following.  Each week, I slightly bump up the number of reps for each exercise.  You can use these numbers as well, or do whatever works for your current physical level.  You can also add multiple sets of each exercise and do a few circuits to really challenge yourself!

I have to make the normal warnings and disclosures here- I'm not a doctor or medical professional so do these exercises at your own risk!

The exercises

Situps - do either regular/full range situps or crunches.

Pushups - do these either on your knees or toes.

Plank - do these either on your knees, forearms or with straight arms.

Side Plank - time indicated is for each side.  do these with a knee down, on forearms or with straight arms.

Bridges - lie on your back with knees bent and feet on ground.  for each rep, slowly lift hips until there is a straight line from your shoulders to knees.  slowly lower to ground.

Superman - lie on your stomach with arms in front.  for each rep, raise your legs and arms all at once (only your stomach should still touch the ground), pause at the top and slowly lower for one rep.

Slow Roll - kneel on the ground on all fours.  keeping your hands and legs in place, push hips back and lower into child's pose.  pause, then slowly roll forward into upward facing dog.  pause for one completed rep.

Twist - lie on your back with arms straight out and legs on the ground.  bring up right knee to chest and twist to left side, looking over right shoulder (you will feel your back stretching)

Legs up the Wall - lie on your back close to a wall.  place legs flat up the wall (with heels towards the ceiling).  inch your butt as close to the wall as you can.  hold for recommended time.

Run - I think this one is self-explanatory!  RUN! (or walk..any kind of cardio really!)

What's your favorite core move?
Anyone else have back issues?  What helps you?

Monday, September 19, 2016

Towpath Half Marathon Training : Week 4

This week flew by like none other.  I traveled a bit for work, which was great for my running!  I managed to have one of my best weeks of the past few months, so I would call it a success!  Here's a lot at how the week went down:


5 miles /  45:40 / 9:07 pace
I was at Penn State for recruiting and went on a morning run around campus.  The weather was absolutely prefect and my entire body just wanted to run fast!  I haven't seen paces like this in a while so it was really encouraging.


Yoga / 45:00
Lunchtime yoga as usual!  I was getting some headaches when we did any poses upside down (like downward facing dog) for long periods of time, so I took it easy for parts of the class.


3 miles / 26:15 / 8:45 pace
1 mile cool down / 10:00 / 10:00 pace
 Morning speed workout on the treadmill.  I did one mile repeats of gradually picking up the pace, starting at 6.0 and increasing speed .5mph every quarter mile, with a mile cool-down.  Ended up being a great workout!


Rest day!


Tae-Bo / 30:00
Has anyone else ever done Tae-Bo before?  It used to be one of my favorite exercsises to do growing up, and I decided to pull out my old DVD for a workout!  If you haven't given it a try, do it.  It's really fun!


3.5 miles
The weather was really weird in the morning and was raining on and off, so I headed out for a quick workout while it was "off".  It was really humid out, but nice and breezy.  I went around my neighborhood for a hilly and fun run!


10 miles / 1:35:28 / 9:32 pace
My legs felt so good on this run, but the weather was awful!  There were storms all afternoon, so it was really humid and warm out in the morning.  I powered through for my long run, but I wish it was a nicer day!  Hopefully race day will have better weather.  Dan and I spent the rest of the day picking up furniture and a shed for the house, moving furniture between rooms and cleaning, so by the end of the day I was exhausted!  Definitely a productive weekend!

What was your best workout this week?
Do you like to run at an old school or neighborhood?
Ikea- yay or nay?  Yay for me!  I love it!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Top Five Friday #67

Happy, happy Friday to you all!  This week was absolutely crazy busy and I'm writing this post a lot later than usual (aided with the help of some pumpkin beer and leftover Papa John's pizza), so there's no time for an intro today.  Let's get right into these favorites so we can enjoy the weekend!

Linking up with MarCynthia and Court 
as well as Heather and Momfessionals

Pumpkin Beer

Since I'm currently enjoying my favorite type of beer, I figured I should at least share what I'm drinking!  Every year, I get a few mix packs of different types of pumpkin beers and pick my favorites for the year.  This year that would go to Sam Adam's 20 Pounds Of Pumpkin, New Belgium Pumpkick (thank you Lynne!) and Southern Tier Pumking.  Do yourself a favor and grab one of these, put on a flannel, and enjoy the crisp fall air!

Fall TV

It's that time of year when all of the good shows start, and I could not be more excited!  Dancing with the Stars started this week (#TeamValaur), and I'm looking forward to a new season of How To Get Away With Murder and Quantico.  What other shows should I look out for?

Zucchini Fritters

I had to share my favorite recipe of the week- these delicious fritters!  They were super simple to make, and I substituted two "chia eggs" for the regular eggs to make it vegan! (2 tablespoons chia seeds mixed with 6 tablespoons of warm water).  I think these would be great with some extra seasonings or some other grated veggies thrown in (carrots sound amazing)!  

Grace Van Der Waal

The finale of America's Got Talent aired this week, and the winner was 12 year old Grace (who, by the way, was the first woman to win since the very first season)!  I'm not typically a fan of singers on the show, but this girl is incredible.  She not only sings, but also plays the ukulele and writes all of her own songs.  The song she performed for the finale was my favorite of any of her past performances, and I can't wait to see what she'll come out with next!  She reminds me of a mixture of Sia and Taylor Swift, and I promise you will fall in love with her.


Electro Dub Tango - Mundo Bizarro (such a cool mixture of electro with tango)
Sia - The Greatest (I'm just going to make this my motto during my next race)
Eric Clapton - Layla (oldie but goodie!)
Beyonce - 1+1 (for some reason I can't stop listening to this lately)

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

WIAW : Penn State Edition

Happy Wednesday everyone!   This week I got to go up to my alma mater- Penn State- for a recruiting trip.  It was a lot of fun and I thought it would be interesting to share what I ate while I was there.  Here's a quick look at my day, along with my eats!

I woke up at 6:30 to go for a run in the morning.  I always loved running around campus when I was a student, so every time I visit I try to go for a jog!  I ended up running five miles, and stopped at Starbucks on my way back to my hotel.  I ordered a pumpkin spice latte with coconut milk- the syrup they use has condensed milk in it so it's not vegan, but I had to have my annual PSL!

The career fair started at 10:00, so I had to check out of my hotel and head to the college to set up around 9:00.  There was some food out for us, so I had some water and fruit salad.  Students started to come right away, so I didn't really have much time to eat!

I snuck away around 12:45 to grab some lunch.  There was a huge picnic set up outside (the fresh air felt AMAZING) and there were so many options!  They had salad, pasta, gluten free sandwiches, vegan and vegetarian wraps, and regular options as well.  I grabbed a roasted veggie wrap with hummus spread and some salad and chips along with more coffee to get me through the rest of the day.

We tore down our display around 4:00, and I hurried out to meet up with some friends for dinner!  I still know a few people that stayed in the State College area after college for work, so any time I'm visiting we always try to meet up.  We ended up going to Olde New York where I got a delicious black bean burger (seriously..the best one I've ever had, even though it looks kind of gross in the picture) with some fries and a Firey Mule (Fireball with ginger beer and lime juice- amazing!).  We stayed for a while catching up, then I headed home.

I got back home around 8:30 and ate some orzo salad along with a pumpkin beer while I caught up with Dan and Selma!  Perfect way to end the day!

What are some of your favorite things to do when you visit your college?
Any other pumpkin beer lovers?  It's my favorite type of seasonal beer!
Best thing you've had recently?  That black bean burger is seriously amazing...

linking up with WIAW!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Towpath Half Marathon Training : Week 3

I'm kind of tired of saying this, but this was another not-so-good week for me.  I started out great with a solid run on Monday, then I had an unfortunate incident that had me missing work and my workouts for a few days.  The end of the week I got more on track, but I'm still upset for missing a few days!

Either way, the race is just around the corner so I have to keep pushing.  Here's to hoping next week is better!


4.5 miles / 43:18 / 9:37 pace
I had off for Labor Day and had a great early morning run at North Park.  It was pretty crowded, but there was low humidity and it was a cool day.  Couldn't ask for better weather!

In the afternoon, Dan and I were both doing some work on the house, and I hit my head pretty hard at one point.  It hurt, but I kept on painting our bedroom and thought I was fine.  Unfortunately, for a few days I had an awful headache, felt a little nauseous and dizzy (especially at work) and took a few rest days.  I'm find now, but I think I might have had a minor concussion.  


Rest day!
I was actually planning on going to a Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga class with Lynne, but since I wasn't feeling well I thought it would be best if I didn't go.  I'm so mad that I missed this class because it's a bucket list item for me and I was really looking forward to it!


Rest day!
Another day off.  Starting to feel better, but I figured it was best to take off another day rather than get back too early and end up hurting myself more.


3 miles
I took it really easy and just ran around my neighborhood for some easy miles.  I did a one mile loop that went around my house just in case I started to feel sick at all, but I felt fine.  I think I was cooped up for too long and just getting out and getting fresh air helped a lot!


Rest day!
Yup..another one!


3 miles

Easy run on a new route in my neighborhood.  I went early in the morning but it was already in the 80's and super humid.  Not very comfortable for running, but I was happy to get it over with.  Afterwards I went to my sister's house to watch the Penn State/Pitt game with my family (we lost in a very frustrating end of the game).


9 miles / 1:23:24 / 9:16 pace
The weather was PERFECT today- just a little chill, tiny bit of wind, cloudy for the most part. My legs felt good today as well and I'm really happy with my pace! Even hit some sub 9:00 miles, which I haven't seen in ages! Didn't even feel like I was pushing it today..yay!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Top Five Friday #66

Happy Weekend everyone!  This was a weird week for me- any week that starts with a holiday always feels off. The warm weather and humidity is also back with a vengeance, so I'm more than ready for this week to be over!  I have some fun plans this weekend that I'll talk about below (WE ARE!).  Let's get into these favorites!

Linking up with MarCynthia and Court 
as well as Heather and Momfessionals

This Video

I love watching YouTube videos, and one of the current crazes is beauty vloggers recreating their high school makeup looks.  Most of them have been fun to watch, but Jenna Marbles went all out and helped me relive some of the crazy fads from the 90s.  This is such a hilarious video and I had to share it!  For all my 90s babies out there, this one's for you.

Heat and Eat Oatmeal

Most mornings I'm rushing out of the house to get to the gym, and rarely have time (or energy) to make a good breakfast.  When I saw this recipe on Budget Bytes to make pre-made oatmeal that you can just grab and nuke in the morning, I made it right away!  This is pretty much the equivalent of instant oatmeal, but a lot healthier and even easier!  Next time I make it, I think I'll try it with some pumpkin for a fall flavored oatmeal!

Penn State vs. Pitt

Well everyone- this is the big weekend!  Penn State and the University of Pittsburgh are playing against each other for the first time in 16 years!  If that doesn't seem like a long time, picture this- they played in Three Rivers Stadium.  I'm a third generation Nittany Lion, and my family is all getting together to watch the game.  I've been looking forward to this for years (Penn State vs Pitt was the first game I ever went to at Beaver Stadium!) so I can't wait!  To top it all off- I'm going to Penn State for a recruiting trip right after the game!

Suicide Squad Soundtrack

I give all the credit to Suzy for this one!  We share the same taste in music (AKA the best kind), so when she told me to listen to the soundtrack I did immediately.  I haven't even seen the movie and probably won't, but I'm so into all of these songs.  If you're looking for some great music to run to or just jam out while you listen in the shower, give this a listen! (you can listen to all of these songs on youtube)

Grease Fan Theory

I'm going to leave you with this fan theory of what really happened in the movie Grease.  Just reading the article gave me chills and it kind of seems realistic!  What do you think?

Have you ever seen the movie Grease?
What are your plans for the weekend?
Penn State or Pitt?  If anyone chooses Pitt, we can no longer be friends.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Switching to a Plant-Based Diet

Hi everyone!  Today I have a much-anticipated post to share...all about my journey to veganism.  It's been an amazing experience so far, and now that I'm over two months in I feel ready to talk more about it!  And let's face it- I've been talking about it so much lately that it's about time I dedicate a post to it and answer some questions!

Before we start, I want to make sure that you all know that I'm not trying to force you all to make changes or diss anyone's diet.  I just want to share my personal experience with switching to eating a plant-based diet.  I waited so long to write this post because I know this is a touchy subject, and the last thing I want to do is insult someone.  So, I hope that you'll respect my decision to switch, and I'll respect your decision as well.  Deal?

Without any further ado, here are some tips to switching to a plant-based/vegan diet, along with some reasons why I made the switch (along with some helpful infographics and some funny memes!)

Do it for the "Right" Reasons

There are so many different reasons why people choose to change their diet.  For some people, it's for health reasons, for others it's ethical, and some people just do it because it's the current "cool" thing to do.  As long as you're being healthy and not using a new diet as a way to deprive yourself, I don't think there are any wrong reasons to make the switch.  If you are just doing it to fit in, though, it might be hard to make this a life-long change. 

The main reason why I decided to make this change originally was to support Dan.  If you follow his health journey, you know that he's been working on improving his diet and overall health, and after researching different options and talking to a friend (who has been vegan for over a year now), he decided on veganism.  He watched a few documentaries, which were too graphic for me, and did research (see below), and we both came to the conclusion that we wanted to make this major life change together.  At first, we were just planning on trying it out for a month and seeing how it went, but we haven't looked back at all since we made the switch!

This came about during a time when we were going through a lot of big life changes (getting married, buying our first home, changing jobs), so it felt like the right time to make a change in my diet as well.  We started our vegan diet at the beginning of July, and so far we've both been doing great and don't miss our old eating habits at all.  I don't feel like I'm missing out on my old favorite foods and haven't gotten any cravings to eat meat or dairy.  The hardest part for me so far is eliminating eggs, mostly because I love to bake and it's hard to bake anything without eggs!  

Get Support

It's hard to make any changes to your life if you're doing it all alone, and drastically changing a diet is no different.  When I did the Whole30, having support from Margaret and the RunningWhole facebook group helped keep me on track and give me motivation to keep going.   In the same way, I found support in different places to keep up this lifestyle and learn more about the "vegan way of life".

I reached out to a few friends who are also vegan or vegetarians with questions, and they have all been really supportive and helpful during this journey.  I also started having monthly vegan dinners, where we all get together and try out new recipes (and, let's be honest, drink wine and beer).  Everyone that I've talked to has been more than happy to give me advice or offer help along the way.  I also found a ton of help and information on Reddit as well, and there are so many online forums dedicated to veganism!

Do Research

I mentioned above that Dan and I did research before we started our vegan journey.  Even though most people say that veganism is great, we still wanted to look into for ourselves and find out why it's so great, and if it was the right choice for us.  After researching, I found out about the environmental impacts and health benefits.  What really changed my mind is reading about animal welfare.  I'm an animal lover and always told myself that eating meat was okay for various reasons, but after reading more and seeing clips of what happens in factory farms, I can't eat animal products without those images popping up in my mind.

Now, I always take studies and research with a grain of salt.  If you try searching the benefits of drinking milk, you'll find plenty of websites that list all the wonders of dairy.  If you search for reasons not to drink milk, you'll find just as many websites condemning dairy.  This is the same for a vegan diet- plenty of research is out there listing the benefits, while other research proves that it's an unhealthy and unethical lifestyle.  Point being- no matter what type of diet you choose, you'll find good things about it along side people saying you shouldn't do it.  I think it's great to do your research, but also experiment and find out what works for you.

In addition to reasons why I should go vegan, I also researched how I could do this in a healthy way, particularly with an active lifestyle.  One big concern of this diet is the lack of Vitamin B-12 and getting enough protein.  After looking up alternative ways to get these two in my diet, I added a B-12 supplement to my diet, and make sure I'm getting enough protein from beans, chia seeds, flax seed, or plant-based protein.

Make a Pinterest Board

One of the main comments I've gotten in real life and on the blog is that someone would love to go vegan, but it's too hard or they would miss XXX food.  I definitely had this same mind set, but it has been such an easy change.  Trust me- if Dan (whose diet used to consist of hot pockets, bacon, and milk) can do it, anyone can.

The main thing that helps me is making a Pinterest board.  There are so many vegan substitution that I actually prefer (coconut milk, chia "egg", meatless crumbles), and creative recipes that I love trying out!  It's been so fun to experiment with new foods, that going vegan has been so easy.  If you're looking for some lunch inspiration, check out yesterday's post!

Make Small Changes

Going full-on vegan can be very intimidating.  Meatless Monday was invented for a reason- starting small with going meat-free once a week is a lot easier than saying you'll never eat meat again!  There also also so many different versions of going plant-based, from pescatarian (eating fish) to vegetarian (eating eggs and dairy) and everything in between.  If you're in some other category, that's fine as well!  No one needs a label to describe them.  For example, Dan eats completely vegan at home, but if we go out to a restaurant, he'll order whatever he wants.  Would that make him a restaurantarian?  Who cares!

...Or Go All In

For me, on the other hand, it's much easier for me to go completely cold turkey (pardon the pun!).  I learned from Gretchen Rubin that I'm an abstainer, which means that I deal in absolutes.  Either I do something 100%, or I don't.  This is why it was so easy for me to do the Whole30, but after it was over I went back to my old ways.  I deal better with having strict rules and guidelines, instead of telling myself that I can occasionally "cheat".  This way doesn't work for everyone, but if you're like me, it's easier to completely switch over one day instead of easing in! 

Don't be Afraid to Fail

My final piece of advice can be applied to any major life change you're going through.  If you fail- that doesn't make you a failure.  You can keep trying!  For example, if I accidentally eat something with dairy or eggs in it, I'm not going to consider myself a failure and go back to my old eating ways.  Instead, I'll just say that I made a mistake and keep going.  Don't let the fear of failing or not being "vegan enough" keep you from trying!  Trust me, there are no prizes handed out for the most vegan person out there.  It's not a competitions!  Or- if you try it out and decide it really isn't for you, that's fine as well.  You'll never know until you try :)

What made you choose your current diet?
Do you have any follow-up questions for me?  
Are you an abstainer or moderator?
linking up with Amanda

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

One Week of Vegan Lunches

Hi everyone!  I'm so excited to share today's post, because it's something that I've been working on for a while.  One question that I've gotten a lot since going vegan is "what do you eat?  doesn't it get boring?  what about lunch?"  Today's post is all about that - it's a full week of vegan lunches!

I hope that in this post, I can show you that there is so much variety and choice with eating vegan.  I'm feeling so inspired to come up with fun and exciting lunches.  I love all of the beautiful colors in each picture, and I can tell you each lunch was incredibly satisfying and delicious!

For each day, I'll be sharing a main dish and three sides.  I'm using the Rubbermaid Lunch Blox container (I love how all the pieces snap together, and it comes with an ice pack that fits between the layers!). P.S. This is not a sponsored post, but that is an Amazon affiliate link!   

One full week of vegan lunch ideas for work or school.

I hope you enjoy this post, and get some new lunch ideas!  Come back tomorrow, where I'll talk all about why I became vegan!

Main : Veggie Burgers with lettuce and summer squash relish
Big Side : Thai quinoa salad
Small Side : Blackberries and Strawberries
Small Side 2 : Mixed nuts

Main : Home made Veggie Pizza (Trader Joe's whole wheat pizza crust, pizza sauce and vegan cheese, onions, black olives, mushrooms and peppers)
Big Side : Chopped veggies
Small Side : Hummus
Small Side 2 : Salsa

Main : Wraps (filled with leftover burrito mix)
Big Side : Harvest Grain Salad (I found this at Aldis)
Small Side : Chickpea crackers (crush one can of chickpeas with spices of choice, form into patties and bake for 20:00 at 350 degrees)
Small Side 2 : Mango chunks

Main : Burrito Bowl (Layer rice with vegan refried beans, salsa and sauteed onions, peppers, corn and vegan crumbles.  Sometimes I'll add guac or multiple kinds of salsa!)
Big Side : Black bean salad (Mix one can of black beans with three chopped stalks of celery and one shallot.  Toss with dijon mustard, extra virgin olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper.  Also great topped with cilantro!)
Small Side : Grape leaves
Small Side 2 : Olives, pickles, summer squash relish

Main : Veggie Burger (from Trader Joe's) topped with roasted portabella mushrooms
Big Side : Sliced tomatoes and avocados (I added these to my veggie burger at lunch)
Small Side : Hummus and sliced beets
Small Side 2 : Brazil nuts

Main : Salad (spinach, beets, avocado, tomatoes)
Big Side : Macaroni skillet
Small Side : Salad dressing
Small Side 2 : Apple sauce topped with cinnamon

Main : Chili and rice
Big Side : Apple slices
Small Side : Peanut butter
Small Side 2 : Cantelope