Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Strength Training Necessity: ActivMotion Bar

Those who know me know that fitness is something which I am passionate about. Along with running, a relationship that I continue to grow with, I also enjoy yoga and over the past couple of years have introduced strength training into my routine. This past years goal was to lessen my miles and work more  on my strength training to become stronger for those miles ahead of me.When I was given the opportunity to try the ActivMotion Bar I knew I needed to add this to my strength sessions.

I don't have the luxury of a gym membership. Quite frankly with two children and working part time I have no idea when I would get there. I'm all for the 24 hour thing and going when I want...but I don't want to spend the money. Also some truth, I would much rather work out alone! I work up enough sweat myself that I surely don't need to be in a room full of others who are sweating!

I believe that home workouts can be just as effective if you have the right tools at your hand. At home I have my hand weights, kettle bells and Ultimate sandbag. Some days I will focus just on upper body and use one of these. Other days I can get a full body workout in by incorporating one or all of these. When I read about the ActivMotion Bar I knew it would be a perfect add in my routine.

Here's a little about it:

*The bar is made in Detroit, Michigan. Yes, made in the USA!!!
*The bar has bearings in it which shift creating resistance.
*There are 7 different weight options (I chose the 18lb one)
* The tube is made of two layers to help with the noise of shifting bearings

Fun Fact: The University Of Michigan did a study that proved the ActivMotion Bar to increase muscle activation by 173%.

This bar can be used by anyone and they use what is called Movement Foundations to describe the levels of use for the bar:

Assess : Using the bar close to your body
Explore: Using the bar away from the body
Pattern: Creating movement with the bar

I have played around with all levels of this bar and found all useful. I have used it for a quick 15-25 minute workout on a running day and even added it in for a full body workout on my strength days along with my other strength training tools.

I was surprised at how challenging some of these movements can be with the bar as well as pleased. Who doesn't like a workout that challenges your body and core. ActivMotion Bar gives you videos to demonstrate exercises that you can use. Though I found this very helpful I have also enjoyed playing around with my own variations and movements with it.

If you are looking for a new piece of workout equipment, this is one to add for sure!

From now until January 7th you can use code: fitapproach25 for 25 % off your own ActivMotion Bar.

Disclaimer: I was given the ActivMotion Bar for review and my honest opinion. If I didn't like it you would surely know!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Managing Healthy Skin: Winter Skin Care

I can't believe that 2016 is almost over! While some can't wait for the next year to arrive I have had a wonderful year and feel so fortunate. Life is full and busy! Pretty much why blogging has taken a back seat over the past couple of months. Between the kids, work and my fitness regimen there isn't much time left over. I am not sure what 2017 has in store for me yet I am excited to welcome a new year with new challenges and adventures.

Winter has finally arrived here in New England. Trying to manage healthy skin can be just as challenging as getting in my running as frequently as I do in the other three season. Over the past couple of years I have been trying to pay more attention to my skin. Particularly my face. My skin care regimen has become important to me. It's not secret that I am getting older yet it doesn't mean I have to look old now does it?! 

There are a few products that I have been using that I really love. One is a beauty oil from Mother Earth Beauty Bar. I love this mom made company with her skin care products, as well as makeup, which are wonderful. When I was approached by Maple Holistics and asked if I wanted to try their products I happily said yes. I was sent the Apricot Oil and have been using it for a month now. Apricot oil has many uses: 

"Apricot Seed Oil can be used to improve hair growth, hydration, and natural sheen. It's light enough for everyday use and will not cause buildup or weigh down hair. Apricot oil is extracted using cold-press methods, which helps this product to maintain all the inherent qualities and benefits apricot oil has to offer. It's also one of the best carrier and massage oils for sensitive skin and blends easily with other essential oils. Contains vitamins A, B, C, and E, as well as antioxidants and Omega 6 fatty acids".  

I have been using this product on my face at night, on my skin after a shower and in my hair. A little goes a long way too! This product is not greasy and applies nicely. Runner friends, you know how when you put your hair in a pony tail and come back from a run your hair has suddenly has turned into a rats nest? Some days I come home with unwanted dreads and it is such a pain to comb out. I like to put a small amount in my hair then braid it before I head out on a run. Keeps my hair from the tangles and treats it at the same time. 

Maple Holistics makes more than just oil. They have a great line of hair care as well that I am eager to try myself. I love that this is a USA company. They pride themselves on natural products with high quality ingredients and cruelty free. They also stand by their products so if you are not happy they will refund 100 %. 

If you would like to try Maple Holistics now is the time. Head over to the site and fill out this form to get a free sample to try yourself. Who doesn't like free samples?!

Lastly rememeber that skin care goes beyond washing, toning and mosturizing. Drinking lots of water is equally as important. So go fill that water bottle up right now! 

Enjoy your last Friday of 2016! A new year is just around the corner which means new opportunities, new goals and a new you!  


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(Disclaimer: I was given a product in return for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated in any other way. As always, all opinions are proudly my own!)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Running Shoes to Stiletto's

It is almost the end of October and I am officially done with my training for the year. Two weeks ago I did my 10th Half Marathon! I was pretty excited to hit double digits on this one. I ended my season with the GMAA Green Mountain Marathon and Half Marathon. This was the third time that I did this race and though not a my fastest time it was a PR for this particular course. I had a wonderful race; the temperature was perfect and as always this race offers such beautiful pieces of Vermont. There isn't much for crowd support yet I am okay with that. For the past couple years I have ended my race season with this race; enjoying the quiet country roads and the farm animals I see on the way: horses, cows and pigs!!! I love animals of coarse!

Taken by my 5 year old right before the finish line. I was excited!

This month I am participating in If Girls Ran The World. Every mile that I run is dedicated to a cause of your choice. I chose the Susan G. Komen foundation. I have always been passionate about supporting breast cancer awareness and this was just another way I could give back. Each time I set out to run, even the days I don't want to, I remember why I chose to dedicate my miles to this cause and how hard women and men fight every day to battle this awful disease. I wanted to help be a part of kicking cancers ass; because someday we will! Check out my page to see my running progress and consider making a donation. One, two or even five dollars can make a world of a difference. It takes all of us to fight cancer so let's do this!

The best part of finishing any race is seeing these two!

Tonight is also one of my favorite events: Cocktails Curing Cancer! What better way to fight cancer than with a drink in your hand! Check out the website and if you cannot make it to this event read all that this non profit does. I am in awe of how this foundation and how it has grown. It takes a person with a big heart, determination, dedication and the desire to make a difference to put this event on. I have watched this non profit grow over the years and it is wonderful to see the once small room at a bar turn into a happy hour at a country club! Tonight I will put the running shoes aside, slip on my stiletto's, and raise a glass or two to fight Breast Cancer! 

Mom and I at Cocktails Curing Cancer 2015

Speaking of stiletto's...I am incredibly excited to announce that I am a 2017 Stiletto Running Ambassador.  I love all that this brand stands for: women empowerment, motivating and lifting one another up, and inspiring one another to be the best they can be no matter what one's running level is. At the end of the day we all share the same passion, and that is to run! Shana created a line of running apparel to fit her inner "girly girl" and in her words: "Every woman should feel girly, pretty, fit, strong, sexy, confident & of course...SASSY!" 

I am elated at what a hell of a year this has been for me for running. I have worked really hard to reach my goals. It has taken many miles, dedication and believing in myself that I could do it. It's not always easy, some days are definitely harder than others. I never get back from a run wishing I hadn't stepped out the door. Each run makes me stronger and better than the run before. I am a work in progress; running for my is about growth. I will continue to set goals and push myself. The only limits that can get in the way are the ones that I create. This is my life and I RUN it! 

"The obsession with running is really an obsession with the potential for more and more life." ~ George Sheehan 

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Monday, September 26, 2016

Challenging The Woman Within: My 30K Recap

It's Sunday night and I am sitting at my computer with a beer next to me feeling happy. I seem to have less time to write these days and very few moments to myself. Life has been busy, some days even chaotic, yet it is full. The past few years I feel like with each passing year life has become more amazing. From having children, getting married, buying a house and reaching new goals for myself, I can't help but feel incredibly grateful for this life. 

Last weekend I set a new PR for distance for myself doing my first 30K. It was a certified coarse and set for 18.64 miles. Though in the end my watch read 18.71, yes, I am totally giving myself credit for the extra! Truth be told in the middle of the summer I was not sure that I was going to be ready for this race. I was running four to five days a week yet my long runs were not as long as I would have liked for training. April, May and June I did a Half Marathon each month. I was feeling rather good about the fact that I made the goal of a 30K in September. With no other Half Marathons on schedule, the heat, and limited time for long runs I was starting to think that maybe I wasn't ready to tackle this goal. Then I heard a voice in me saying to suck it up, get my ass out there and train harder and that I would crush this goal. That my friends is what I did!

Beautiful coarse on country roads

Here is a recap of my 30K:

Miles 1-6

I knew that in order to complete this race I would need to take my pace down from where I typically run at for a Half Marathon pace. I wanted to finish this race, not come in first place. It takes a lot of mental discussion with myself, and discipline, during a run not to go into it too fast. Sometimes my endorphins get the best of me and my feet carry me away. 

Here is what my splits looked like:

1- 8:56
2- 8:41
3- 8:13
4- 8:45
5- 8:21
6- 7:58

The first two miles I eased in. I chatted with another runner and distracted myself by the conversation around me. Mile three I got into a groove and settled into what I call a "Happy Pace". Then mile four I caught up to another runner and we chatted for most of that mile. Once I continued on past her and saw that I finished that mile at 8:45 I knew it was time to get back to my happy pace. Clearly I cannot talk and run at the same time. I always run alone and that is my preference. I did really enjoy my conversations with these other runners though. Sharing stories of running, our children and my discussion with the runner at mile four, we also chatted about how both our fathers were runners. Hers was 78 and still ran and he even did the Vermont City Marathon this past year! By mile six I had fallen into a groove.

Each runner got a jar of Bove's sauce ~ YUM!

Miles 7-12

For some reason seven seems to be my sweet spot in any longer run. It's where I start to let my entire body just fall into the run. This is where it starts to feel easier, my feet just seem to dance on the pavement and carry me forward and my pace becomes what it is going to be right around here. These next six miles were some of the best of the whole race.

7- 7:54
8- 7:49
9- 7:45
10- 7:49
11- 7:52
12- 7:53

Mile ten, as I was heading into the Common, there was my father. I can't even put into words how incredible it was to have him there. How he is always there at each one of my races. Sometimes he runs with me, other times he is there to cheer me on. I truly am grateful for his support. My heart felt happy and I was feeling great. He asked me how I felt and I believe my exact words were: " Great! But ask me in another five miles."

Miles 13-18 (18.71!) 

Somewhere in mile twelve came a couple of nasty hills. I remembered from driving the coarse a month and a half prior that there was some challenging hills. Towards the end of mile twelve I conquered one of them and thought to myself "No more hills"! Then I looked ahead and there it was, the hill that tried to kick my ass. I knew it was going to be hard but thirteen miles in it felt awful. It was steep enough that as I ran I ran on my toes. I contemplated stopping...maybe I just needed to take a break and walk this one. After nine Half Marathons and never stopping during a race, I knew I could not let this hill get me. I was going to get to the top of it and I would kick it's ass! And so I did. It was hard, it hurt, and it slowed me down. Into mile fourteen, and at the top of the hill, there was my father again. How could I stop now?! Seeing my father was the push and support I needed to try to get myself back to that "Happy Pace" and finish the race string.

13- 8:25
14- 8:48
15- 7:58
16- 8:03
17- 8:17
18- 8:00
.71- 5:46 
I am still standing!

I did fall back into a rhythm and by mile fifteen I was feeling strong again. I finished that race and felt good! My finish time was 2:33:27. Out of 55 runners (it was a small race!) I was 14th overall. I placed third in women and third in my age group. I had finally met my biggest running challenge and crushed it!  

Running challenges me. It pushes me to new limits. I strive to be better, faster and stronger. Running makes me dig deeper. It has shown me that I can do it, that I am capable of whatever I set my mind to. The only limits are the ones I allow there to be. I am fierce, I am strong and I am a better person because of running. My mantra over the past five years has been : "Always Believe You Can." I believed, I did, and I am not going to stop there! 

 "A goal is a dream with a deadline." - Napoleon Hill

Friday, August 26, 2016

Meeting My Biggest Challenge

In the beginning of this year I sat down and started to put together what my running goals would be for 2016. I needed a bigger challenge, something that would push me to new limits. I had decided that I would commit to doing my first 30K. With 9 Half Marathons in two years I figured it was time to stretch the distance. This sounded great in the beginning of the year. I ran a Half in April, May and June. Since then I have been consistently running four to five days a week yet my long runs are not as long as I would want them to be. Between the summer heat, blazing sun and ridiculous humidity Vermont received this summer, it challenged my distance running. I was beginning to wonder what would come of my big goal for 2016.

I decided last Friday that the first thing I needed to do was officially register for this race. If I registered I would be sure to follow through. Honestly I wasn't too worried about backing out. If I set my mind to something I am pretty good about committing and reaching that goal. I enjoy a challenge as well as know that hard moments of training only make me a better runner. This meant that with the race on September 17th I needed to get my ass in gear and start throwing in some longer runs.

Sunday I set out to do a minimum of 13. My heart really wanted 15 but I wasn't going to push myself if I wasn't feeling well. I knew my biggest challenge would be slowing my pace down and focus on my endurance. The bottom line of this 30K is to finish it, not to worry about speed. Anywhere between 8/8:15 minute mile is where I am most comfortable once I get in a groove on my regular runs. During a race I like to push and try to keep myself around 7:30 MM. I figured a safe place to complete 18.6 miles would be somewhere between 8:20/8:30 minute mile.

I started out nice and slow. I held my pace around 8:40 for the first three miles. The route I was taken would throw me some nice hills and I needed to be sure I was saving my energy for all the right places. Around mile 7 (this always seems to be my sweet spot) I had fallen into a nice pace of 8:20-ish. Sometimes a little faster and some miles definitely slower. I was feeling pretty good and happy to have my Camelback to keep me hydrated and fueled. Coming up on mile 11 I hit my last big hill and I knew if I could just get through that hitting fifteen would be attainable. 13 came and went, 15 snuck up on me and this is when I decided I would go for 16. Happy to see 16, I realize that I still was about a mile out from my destination so why not try to hit 17. The most I had previously run was 16 and that was last year. With determination, lots of sweat, my GU's and Vfuel I made it to 17 miles!

I was elated to have had such a great run. I finished feeling good and definitely was basking in a runner's high. I am still nervous about the 30K and know I need to get a couple more long runs in. I don't intend to try to hit 18.6 until that day. If I can get in a couple more13 to 15 milers in I will be happy. I want to save that mileage for the finish line the day of my race.

Okay friends, enough about me. Let's talk about socks! As a runner it is important for me to wear good running socks. I need to do my best to protect my poor, ugly running feet the best I can. It is inevitable that I get blisters from time to time and the heels of my feet are hard and splitting. Sexy right?! Hey, so far I have all my toenails and in my book that is pretty good. I do have to cover them up with polish since they too are not the prettiest but that's OK! I was asked to try SLS3's new running performance sock. No twisting my arm here!

Here is a little about the sock:

* Cushioning at the heel and toes for impact protection

* Mesh ventilation panels, moisture wicking, and arch support to ensure comfort

*  A "Y" heel gore and heel tab to prevent slipping

* Made in fun bright colors!!!

I have taken mine out for a few runs a do like them. I find them comfortable and my feet do not sweat in these. I even wore them on my long run and came back blister free. I like that it comes up high in the back to prevent from rubbing and blisters.

My only complaint is that I think I would go a size up next time. I had ordered a small but after a couple washes they seemed to shrink a little. Nothing crazy though and I am still using them.

If you want to try them out head over to Amazon and use code DKJIJERK  for $5.00 off a three pack!

Other Posts:
When Fear Gets In The Way
Running On Memories
The A,B,C's Of A Runner

Disclaimer: I was given a pair of SlS3 socks in trade of a honest review. I was not compensated in any other way. As always, all opinions are proudly my own.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

When Fear Gets In The Way

One of my favorite things about running is my time alone. In the summer many of my runs are done as the sun is rising and morning mist meets the grass. I love the way the sunlight reflects off of it, tiny beads of water that shine like lights. The early morning sky displaying colors of pinks and reds painting the sky with it's beauty. I love the stillness in the air; the only sound is my feet on the pavement and the sound of my breath. I have said it before, the road is my church.

What happens when fear gets in the way of those runs? When it starts to scare you before you even get out there; fear that you are not safe. I practice safety on all my runs. If it is early I am sure to run main roads or neighborhoods I am familiar with. I carry mace with me in my running belt along with my phone. I am a strong woman yet that does not mean I am safe. None of it does. You can practice safety each and every day, on every run. Evil is out there and sadly none of us are ever truly safe

I had just finished a eight and a half mile run on Saturday morning. I was just around the corner from my house. I was so close! I had a great run this morning. I had set out to do five but found myself farther out than I had planned. I would be heading with my family to Rhode Island for the night for my bestie and her hubby's epic summer party they throw every year. I was in a wonderful mood and feeling happy. A gold car drove by soon after I finished my run. I couldn't tell you what make or model it was, but I am sure I could point it out again if I saw it. The car beeped and waved. I thought it was someone I may know in town and without hesitation I waved back. I didn't think much of it in the moment, I am a friendly person and returning a hello is important to me. (BTW, I hate when other runners don't say HI! Big pet peeve!

I was a few hundred yards away from where I needed to turn to get to my street when the car had turned around and was waiting at the intersection. Right away I felt nervous. Something didn't feel right to me and I can usually trust my gut. The man who was around my age, maybe a little younger, called out asking if I was Tanya. I replied no to which he creepily responded : "That's too bad." WTF! What did that even mean. I continued to walk which was only bringing me closer to the car. There was no traffic. No other walkers or runners. I felt so far from my house even though it was just around the corner. He then asked me how my run was. He started babbling about what a nice morning it was. I am not sure I heard everything he was saying. I was nervous. I didn't trust him. I did have my phone in my hand and was trying to figure out in my head what I would do if he got out of his car. It felt like ten minutes when in reality it was probably more like two or three minutes. Then he decided to drive off. He was gone and I was safe.

Who knows if this person had any intent. I hate to think that every person out there is bad, but reality is I need to be cautious, we all need to be cautious. I wish we lived in a world where there was more trust yet sadly we don't. The recent tragedies of fellow runners Alexandra Nicolette Bruger, Karina Vetrano, and Vanessa Marcotte hit close to home. All three were amazing women with so much ahead of them. Strong, independent and aspiring women who were taken from their loved ones. That could be any one of us out there running. Those women are more than just names that flash across the screen. They left their houses that day to embrace their time on the road. The one place they most likely felt at home was taken from them. They were taken from their family, their friends and from the running community. My heart aches for their families and the pain they have endured over the way these women lost their lives so unfairly.

Yes, their tragedies have put fear into me. As women runners I believe we are more of a target than male runners. Sadly, no matter how strong or fierce of the woman, evil itself is a strong force. As a woman runner I will not let this stop me from running, yet I will be sure that I do what I can to keep myself safe. I will do my best to be mindful. And always, trust my gut.

A few things we should always practice: Always carry mace! Tell your loved ones where you are running. Switch up your routes when you run. Be sure to have a phone with you. Run in areas where you will always be seen

I vow not to let anyone ever take my passion of running away. I would like to think I will be one of those old ladies still doing 5K's when she is 80. Will I let fear get in the way? No, I will allow it to make me more cautious and practice safety. Fear will not take away what is important to me. Running is far more to me than just a way to stay in shape. It is where I find peace and solace. Running is where I can reflect and take the time to appreciate life and all it has given. The road is my safety blanket, the one place I can be and really connect with who I am. It is where I can give back to myself while being grateful that I am able to run. Nothing can take that away from me!

Other Posts:
Running On Memories
The A,B,C's Of A Runner

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Running On Memories

I have always believed that no matter how long a person is in your life, whether a short time or a life long friend, that each and every person is meant to be there. Each person we meet fits like a puzzle piece into our lives. Take that piece away then there is an empty space. Friendships grow, change, evolve and sometimes lose their way. I have been fortunate to have many amazing women in my life. Some have passed through while others have remained for years. Some friends I have gone years without actually seeing yet that doesn't change the feelings I hold for them. There are new friendships I have formed that have evolved and become strong and vital to me. I am thankful for each and every single one as every person is as unique as the friendship they bring.

Last week I was scrolling through Facebook feed as usual. There it was on her page: "RIP, you will be missed." I instantly felt numb, sick, and sadness washed over me. I jumped to her page and started reading a couple of comments which confirmed my inner fear. She had passed away. I found out on the day she was buried. This burned me even more as I would have been there to send her off in peace. To tell her one last time that I missed her. To let her know that I loved her and no amount of time that separated us would change that.

We grew apart somewhere around 2011. There was no falling out or ugly argument. Both our lives started moving in other directions. We would send one another the concessional "I miss you" either by text or via one another Facebook page yet never get together again. The news of her passing hit me and had me searching for answers. I am not sure what exactly I was looking for. Maybe peace; for her and for me. What I found instead were several conversations on her FB page that she and I exchanged, runs that brought me to tears, and dreams where she lingered. She was gone. That final message on her Facebook wall we exchanged on July 12th, 2012 would be our last. Four years and one day to the day she passed she passed away.

This isn't my grief though. My heart aches as her friend and the friendship we had formed long ago. What pains me the most is that she was not just a woman, not just a friend, but she was a mother. Left behind are children who won't have their mom to call anymore. A daughter who won't be able to have her mother braid her hair, paint her nails, kiss her tears away or go wedding dress shopping with. Left behind are son's who will no longer share the excitement of their day, her arms wrap around them, and hear her voice tell stories of her childhood. It's their sadness that penetrates within me

All those little things we take for granted every day, they matter. That is what I kept going back to on my runs each morning. The simple things are really the things that matter most to our children: brushing their hair, washing their hands, and putting them to bed. Singing songs, reading books and belly laughs. Cleaning dirty finger prints off the doors and windows. Wiping boogers and butts and holding them close while they are sick. Getting them ready for their first day of school or sending them off to camp. Many are small tasks we sometimes grumble over. Small yes, but so very important to a child. Each and every interaction we have with our children helps to shape them and they remember the littlest things. Things which we may not realize are so big to them. 

Tears greeted my face a few times as my feet hit the pavement last week. I felt a heaviness in me that was all too familiar and unwelcome. I have never been good at handling my own emotions when it comes to death. I have lost people close to me over the years and one thing I have learned is that grief takes form in many ways and the pain of losing a loved one never truly goes away. All the while my runs were filled with prayer, asking God and her to watch over those children and leave them with only happy memories. There were also prayers of selfishness asking God never to take me from mine. The very thought of it brings me to tears and terrifies me. I want to be able to share and become better at savoring each and every moment. Even all those little ones. The silent ones. They all matter, each and every one

Her death reminded me not only of the beautiful person I remember, the one who loved babies and dogs, it also reminded me just how we never know what each day brings. We are not promised tomorrow. There is no guarantee you and I will speak in the morning or even next week. So maybe we all need to be better about telling those we love how much we love them. Send a card, pick up the phone, or make that time to see them. Most importantly, if you have kids, hug them tight. Tell them you love them every chance you get. If they ask to snuggle, then stop what you are doing and snuggle. Those hugs your kids give you, hold on tight when they do. Those dirty little fingers on your glass door that you want to Windex away, maybe just leave them there a little longer. Someday these moments will all seem so far away. Let's not wish we would have made the time for all the amazing small moments. I hope I can be better about creating more and living in them. This life is a gift, always live it with a grateful heart. Most importantly: Always say I love you! 

"Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some people stay for awhile, and move our souls to dance. They awaken us to a new understanding, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same." ~ Flavia Weedn

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