Cotopaxi’s Journey to Good Health: Good Eats

I love food. Like, a lot. I love food so much, this is the second food-related post you’re getting from me this week!

But my focus this week is prompted in part by Cotopaxi, a company dedicated to making a positive impact on the world. Our friends there shared their mission:

At Cotopaxi, we’re all about encouraging people to get out, stay active, and do something good everyday. Giving is a huge portion of who we are, and as a Benefits Corporation, our hiking backpacks tend to be the most popular and create a big impact. We donate a percentage of every sale to various organizations that support global health initiatives, which is why we’re excited for all ways that we can promote better livelihood!

That’s totally rad, if you ask me! Not only providing equipment and promoting healthy living, but giving a portion of those proceeds to help fund initiatives dedicated to global health? Yeah, that’s a cause I can get behind.

When Cotopaxi contacted us, they also provided this cool infographic, highlighting ways to live a healthy lifestyle. I’m going to break it down over the next few weeks and share with you my favorite ways to do each of these things.

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This week? I start with Energy.

I talk a lot about healthy eating and meal planning and making sure I’m eating the right food to fuel my workouts. One of my favorite tips they offer is “focus on adding nutritious foods rather than eliminating food groups and specific foods.” Can I get an amen?! That’s probably one of the hardest things for people to understand, especially in a society that has been completely inundated with fad diets and nutrition styles. I mean, if you’re going to eliminate something from your diet, getting rid of soda and highly processed foods isn’t the worst plan, but entirely cutting out carbs? NONSENSE.

Carbs are fuel, guys! Your body needs them if you want to feel good and perform well. The same can be said for proteins and fats. And making sure you get lots of veggies in during the day? Yeah, that’s another awesome tip. Veggies are so delicious – and I’m always working on making sure I’m getting enough.

Homemade Turkey Burger on a bed of mixed greens and advocado. Mmmm.

Homemade Turkey Burger on a bed of mixed greens and avocado. Mmmm.

I typically work out 5-6 days a week, and my workouts are usually made up of a healthy mix of cardio and strength – and I usually go to the gym after work, before dinner. Consequently, if I don’t have a snack beforehand, I’m usually starving and have a crummy workout. I like to have something small before I head out just to make sure I’ve got the energy to work hard and feel good.

Some of my favorite things to snack on? There’s a variety! Lately, it’s been a Quest protein bar, an Rx Bar or a handful of trail mix. I try to find something that doesn’t have a ton of sugar and doesn’t make me feel too full – having an upset stomach during a heavy training day is no bueno friends. Sled pushes will turn into pukies otherwise.

Quest Bars are heavy on protein and light on sugar!

Quest Bars are heavy on protein and light on sugar!

Rx bars are great because of their simple ingredient list!

Rx bars are great because of their simple ingredient list!

To be fair, this trail mix is kind of candy...

To be fair, this trail mix is kind of candy…

These snacks are easy to keep on hand – I have some stashed in the pantry and at least one protein bar in my car all the time, just to make sure I’ve got fuel when I need it. My philosophy? Put good in and you’ll get good out. Fuel your body with good, healthy, well-balanced food and your body will reward you with solid performances in the gym, on a run, on a hike and in life!

Stay tuned next week for a fun yoga adventure, featuring my fiance, who has never really done any yoga before! #tryallthethings

Five Things to Avoid During the Jog ‘n Hog

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I was a hot mess on Sunday morning. Which is pretty funny, considering that this was my 4th year in a row participating in the Jog ‘n Hog. One might think that I have things down by now.

Um, apparently not.

Team Scoot a Doot was comprised of myself, Rachel, and Christina this year. I adore these ladies and I was so happy that we were together for this year’s race.

However, we had a few false starts the morning of the race. There were a couple of times we thought we might be watching from the sidelines instead of participating! I’m not exactly sure how we so royally messed up but we managed to do it up big. Let me count the ways.

  1. We somehow thought that the race started at 9:30. Au cointreau, mon frere. It started at 8:30. It takes me approximately an hour to get there so as soon as Rachel realized our mistake and messaged us, I jumped in my car to head to Shady Brook Farm! The GPS estimated time of arrival was 8:10. Lesson learned: Pay attention to the race emails – don’t just make up times in your head.

    Sorry sprinkles, chocolate sauce, and whipped cream, you're going to take a back seat. Cookies for toppings it is!

    Sorry sprinkles, chocolate sauce, and whipped cream, you’re taking a back seat this year. Cookies for toppings it is!

  2. Hey, guess what?! The Ben Franklin Bridge was closed for the American Cancer Society’s charity bike event. You and I both know that’s a worthy cause so I didn’t get too upset. Thankfully I was actually paying attention, saw the bridge closure signs, and hopped on the Walt instead… which actually shaved 5 minutes from my arrival time. (Huh.) Lesson learned: Map out your route and look for potential road closures or delays before the morning of the race.

    All roads lead to Jog 'n Hog. Just not that one between the hours of 5:45-7:45.

    All roads lead to Jog ‘n Hog. Just not that one between the hours of 5:45-7:45.

  3. Got to Shady Brook Farm with plenty of time to spare. My heart resumed its normal pitter patter. Found Christina, who got there first and got our bibs and shirts (love the laid back attitude of this race that makes it possible for her to do that!) and made us the CUTEST piggy ears ever. Rachel and her brother, Bob, rolled up minutes later. We were actually able to hang out and selfie/chat for a couple of minutes and catch up with the Jog ‘n Hog brothers, Brian and Andrew. It was all going to be okay! Lesson learned: Despite a few small freak outs, everything is better once you’ve found your friends (and are wearing pig ears).
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  4. We figured smooth sailing from here on out. As we approached the starting line we realized that there was no pace pig! My goals this year were to 1. Eat the entire pint of ice cream and 2. Beat the pace pig. But how can one be beaten if there isn’t one to beat? I quickly realized that I must eat the entire pint, no ifs, ands, or buts! Lesson learned: Be flexible and be prepared to eat all the ice cream.

    Loved this family's costumes!

    This family’s costumes were on point!

  5. Within the first 10th of a mile, Christina realized that her key had fallen off her shoelace where it had been carefully tied! Were the running fates mocking us? Maybe the 2016 Jog ‘n Hog was just not meant to be? We quickly turned around and headed back down the gravel path. Thankfully a very kind soul found the key! I tucked it into my SpiBelt for safe keeping and we were back on track. Lesson learned: SpiBelt over shoelace.

From there, it was smooth sailing! It was so great to spend time with Christina and Rachel, catching up with them as we motored to the ice cream station. They are both members of S.W.I.F.T. (Strong Women in Fitness Together) so I got to learn more about that and their plans to dominate Ragnar in a couple of months.

Thanks to the local radio station, the music was pumping in the ice cream eating station area and we was ready to go!

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Thanks to Uncle Dave’s for this pic!

But first, Rachel and I had to figure out how to open the top of the ice cream (there was a pull tab, for the record). After we got past that obstacle, we were ready to dig in!

Bob held our cookies so we didn't toss them as we ran. (See what I did there?)

Bob held our cookies so we didn’t toss them as we ran. (See what I did there?)

Guys, I downed that pint of ice cream like it was my job! (That would be a rad job, actually. I digress.) I’m not sure how or why but I had the professional, Christina, coaching me and I was up for the challenge this year.

Done and done!

Done and done!

The path back seemed a lot longer than the one there (it wasn’t) and my cohorts took the time to run though the sprinklers, which I tried to take a picture of but it just didn’t happen. It was hot, there was sweat dripping in my eyes, and we were some of the last people to cross the finish line.

It was the best.

WEAK KNEES BRAIN FREEZE

WEAK KNEES BRAIN FREEZE.

Many thanks to Jog ‘n Hog for the complimentary entries for me and mine. All opinions are my own and I’ll always share my cookies with you.

Recipe Box: Crock Pot Hawaiian Pork

I’ve written before about the importance meal prep plays in my life: it makes eating healthy very easy, and packing lunches in the morning for work is a cinch when all I have to do is grab a pre-made Tupperware on my way out the door.

My fiance and I have been pretty diligent for the last few months about prepping our lunches for the week on Sunday nights. For a long time, we were doing grilled chicken and broccoli. Let me tell you, though. After about three months of essentially the same lunch, every work day, chicken is kind of the last thing you want to eat. Not to mention the fact that grilling what amounts to about eight chicken breasts in one night and prepping them for lunches is really time-consuming.

Mmmm. Chicken. And Broccoli.

Mmmm. Chicken. And broccoli.

We are not about that life anymore. Or right now, at least.

And then, two weeks ago, we remembered that we have a crock pot and that it’s a life saver. We planned a recipe for the week that would not only not be chicken, but also be able to be thrown in the crock pot, and left alone for seven hours, so we could run errands and enjoy couch time without having to spend a chunk of our Sunday cooking.

Since we didn’t want chicken again, I suggested looking at alternative options at Costco – which, if you didn’t know, is one of the best stores on the planet. We ended up finding a huge pork loin (that could be halved, and frozen, and last us two weeks!) We got home, got to brainstorming, and put together this tasty recipe:

Ingredients:
3lb pork tenderloin (or whatever you have)

1 pineapple, chunked and thrown in the food processor until pureed

Teriyaki sauce, to taste

1 tsp-ish ginger

1 Tbsp-ish honey

Instructions:

Put tenderloin in crock pot – make sure it fits nicely, cut in half if needed. Peel pineapple, and cut into chunks. You can either leave your pineapple like this if you want big pieces in the final product, or you can use your food processor to puree it – I like this option better because it releases more of the juice. Cover pork in pineapple puree, add teriyaki, honey and ginger. You’ll notice that none of these measurements are accurate, because we don’t really measure – we eyeball. Oops. If you’d like, you can also add a little bit of BBQ sauce, too. I usually top my lunches with a little bit, too.

Cook for 6-8 hours, or until the meat falls apart.

That’s it! Super easy, super tasty, and a definite improvement over chicken and broccoli for months on end.

What are your favorite summer crock pot recipes? 

Selfish Girl

Hello friends!  Allow me to reintroduce myself.  I’m Cam and I am a Master!  For the last two years, grad school has been my life.  I’m a natural learner.  I love school so much that I’ve made it my career, and I’m really good at school!

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I had no idea how hard grad school was going to be.  All other facets of my life have taken a hit.  My kids, my partner, my job, my home…they’ve all been branded by the demands of my choice to go to grad school.  There’s been a lot of guilt involved.  I’ve had to be incredibly selfish these last two years, and in my experience selfish is not a thing you want to be.

I feel like society has many expectations for women.  Women should be sexy yet demure.  Women should be confident yet humble.  Women should be independent yet the push for marriage and motherhood is so prevalent in the media that it has its own movie genre. Women should give of themselves, should be classy and kind and appropriate in all situations.  Women should kick ass and be strong and fight.  But don’t get hit in the face because a woman can’t be ugly.  And don’t get me started on what a woman’s body should look like.  I don’t know how to be all of these things at one time.  The perfectionist in me wants to, but the more I strive to be this woman, the more I realize it’s effing impossible.

As a rational woman, I know that I don’t have to believe in those expectations, but it’s so hard to escape such a deeply ingrained concept of what a woman is.  The struggle is real, yo!  It seems that while I work on one aspect of myself, other aspects suffer.  For example, while I was in grad school, I gained 64 pounds.  SIXTY FOUR POUNDS.

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Yep, grad school makes you fat.

I mean, I guess it could be the fast food two nights a week or the sour licorice straws that provided the sugar rush that got me through reading academic journal articles.  I guess it could be my choice of sleep over running and how I broke up with the gym.  In addition to neglecting my partner and my children and my laundry, I neglected my “self”.

And I’m pissed.

I’m pissed I have to lose weight to begin with. I’m pissed that I’m not one of those people in love with my fat self. I want to blame societal influence and expectations.  Why can’t being fat be a sign of wealth and prosperity again? Why can’t I just be heavy now?  Why can’t I just love my body the way it is and be happy and drink beer and eat fries?  Well, because it hurts. I don’t love my fat body because my body hurts.  My back, my feet, my gut, it all hurts and I suspect it’s not healthy.  I’m not in a position to take these risks with my health because I need to be a good example for my children.  I need to be alive for my children.

I’m pissed I have to leave my kids to spend more time on me.  I’ve already been doing that and I just got that time back!  Hold on kids, Mommy needs more time to herself.  But they’re watching me.  I want them to know that taking care of yourself is important.  I feel so much better when I exercise.  It’s necessary for my mental health.  So I bought a treadmill.  I can run while my kids play.  And they can run too.  Unintentional benefit!

I’m pissed I let myself get like this.  I’ve struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember.  This time two years ago, my body was strong.  I could run and jump and do head stands.  My clothes fit and I felt really, really good about the progress I had made.  And now I have to start all over again.

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This is my “Omg, that’s what I look like now?” picture.

Mostly, I’m even pissed that I feel pissed about all of this.  I went to grad school and it was awesome. I’m now a more informed educator and parent with regards to education and how kids learn.  My children got to watch me graduate with my Masters in Math and Science Education.  They cheered and waved and they were proud of me.  I feared they would resent me for leaving them two nights a week for two years.  Instead, they celebrated.

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Waiting for me to graduate. Apparently Sophie yelled, “That’s my mom!” when they called my name.

My hope is that they understand that taking care of yourself, following your dreams, and reaching your potential isn’t selfish.  It’s pride.  It’s self-love.  It’s necessary.

So I’m back at it.  I have races to run and I’m looking forward to feeling better.  I have friends to talk to and children to play with and a very neglected boyfriend to go on well-deserved dates with.  I have a school year to plan and blog posts to write.  And I’m going to selfishly enjoy all of it.

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This One Time, At Space Camp…

I spent the Forth of July weekend at the best camp ever. There was no lake, or horses, or archery, or whatever they do at summer camp. The camp I went to had a Space Shuttle and Astronauts, and I even got to do science on the moon.  I finally got to fulfill my childhood dream of going to Space Camp, and it was WAY better than horseback riding.

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I wore Skirt Sports gear the whole weekend and it didn’t let me down in the Alabama heat! #psychedGGUforthewin

I had to fly to Huntsville, Alabama, the day before camp started, so of course I researched restaurants. It had been a long time since I’d had a po-boy and ettoufe, and I was on a mission. I wasn’t disappointed by the Yelp reviews for the Po-Boy Factory. So yumm!

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The next day, I got to Camp a little early and did some exploring and shopping. The Shuttle in the photo is the Pathfinder, and was an actual Shuttle program test vehicle.

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We got to do a Shuttle mission where we replicated Mission Control and Flight Crew duties. I got the be the “Guidance Systems & Navigational Controls Engineer” for the mission! We spent lots of time pretending we were astronauts, and we got to work in simulators that replicated the Shuttle, the ISS (International Space Station), and a lunar base.

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The second day of camp was jam-packed with activities. We toured the Rocket Center with our private tour guide; a retired NASA engineer who’d been with the rocket program since its inception.  He knew EVERYTHING.

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Saturn V Rocket. You can see tiny humans in the bottom left corner of the photo!

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The *actual* Apollo 16 Capsule. Imagine 3 men in that 6x6x6 foot space for DAYS!

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There were burn marks on the bottom from re-entry to the atmosphere from space. SO COOL.

Then we got to do the REALLY fun stuff, actual astronaut training! The first video shows me in the 1/6 Gravity Chair. It simulates the gravity felt on the moon. It was much harder to get going than you might think!

In this video, I’m in the MAT, Multi-Axis Trainer. This machine simulates a “tumble spin” that pilots can experience with loss of control of their vehicle. I was certain I would throw up. Megan, our team trainer, said she’s put over 700 people on this machine and no one has ever gotten sick. I’m happy to report that I didn’t feel nauseated at all! The chair keeps your tummy at the center of gravity, thereby avoiding nausea. It’s really true!

We built a model rocket and launched it (mine deployed perfectly, thank you very much). We also did a thermal shielding experiment that required me to put my faux engineering skills to the test. We learned TONS about NASA history and the legacy of our space program, I got to meet a real life space-walking astronaut, see an IMAX movie about the construction of the ISS, and learn about the next evolution of exploration with the Orion craft.

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Our team right before graduation

Astrobot helps astronauts on the ISS with tasks and space walks (EVAs)

Astrobot helps astronauts on the ISS with tasks and space walks (EVAs)

The other wonderful thing about my experience is that it brought a variety of people together who likely would not have interacted in their day-to-day lives. We came from all over North America, and we all shared a love of space and science that unified us. Ages ranged from early twenties to retirement, from married couples, to singles, to a mom and her daughter. All backgrounds were represented, too, from chemical engineers to artists. Our team had so much fun together and laughed constantly, so much so that we were made fun of for it at our graduation. I was so touched when a retired teacher from Maryland and a musician from Brooklyn busted out their instruments and improvised together. Camp was such a unifying experience, and I know each of us learned something about diversity during the course of the weekend.

In addition to the kids and adult camps, they have Family Camps, Educator camps for STEM teachers, and an Aviation Challenge for those who are more interested in learning how to fly an F-16 than a Shuttle Orbiter. My only advice if you’re going and you’re an adult, sleep at the Marriott next door. The beds and showers at the Camp facility were kid sized and not very comfy for us larger humans.

Not so comfy when you're 40.

Not so comfy when you’re 40.

I would go back to Space Camp in a less than twelve parsecs, and I REALLY want to stress that this is such a fantastic opportunity for kids. If your child is interested in STEM studies, SEND THEM TO SPACE CAMP. I am not exaggerating when I say that it could be life-defining experience for them, the moment where they decide what they want to be when they grow up. It was that impactful and influential. The environment is so supportive of encouraging each child’s ability and potential. When you’re there, you feel as though you really could be the first person on Mars, or the engineer to solve the complex problem of artificial gravity. This is such a better educational value for your dollar than the typical summer camp, which is great, but will they get to meet an astronaut and ask them questions?

Nope.

Or pilot the Shuttle?

Uh-uh.

Or make slime on the moon?

Ain’t gonna happen.

 

The only place you can do that is at Space Camp.

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I’m front row, second from the right.

Have you been to Space Camp? Is science your boyfriend/girlfriend? Are you sad that the Hubble will crash into the Pacific in 3 years? (FTR, I’m crying in my Cornflakes about it.)

Tell me all about it below!

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Too much? A preggo’s confession on overextending

We’re less than two months from baby’s due date. 52 days to go, to be exact.

There’s been no hiding my burgeoning belly for months, but in the past few days I’ve really started to feel my limitations.

I’m tired guys. More than tired. I’m exhausted.

To be fair, I totally overextended myself this past weekend. Saturday included a gaggle of errands followed by a strength training session at Baby Bump Academy, a local gym for expectant and new mamas.

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Saturday’s WOD

The workout was fabulous, and I felt more like myself than I had all week. But I followed it up with a cooking session before Jo and I headed to an outdoor wedding.

Surprisingly, I felt fine all day. I didn’t tire out, drank loads of water and enjoyed all the experiences (including repeatedly sniffing my hubby’s gin and tonic after the nuptials.)

Jo and Vic at a summer wedding

Jo and Vic at a summer wedding

The next morning, I was up bright and early as I volunteered at a local 5K, one organized by my friend Jo. Upon arrival, Jo greeted baby boy first, a move that both surprised me and brought a smile.

“Get used to people ignoring you for him!” she said with a laugh. The race was a whirlwind, and a joy to be a part of. (Next year, I run!)

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Jo at the start of the Pride 5K

Fast forward several hours – past a lengthy brunch outing with my hubby’s college friends. I was done. I wanted nothing more than to sleep.  But I had laundry to do, and food prep and chores and….

Yeah. I was wiped.

That’s the biggest difference I noticed as I’ve surpassed 30 weeks of pregnancy. I grow tired far more easily. I repeatedly try to do too much and then I crash.

I spent Monday d-r-a-g-g-i-n-g. Tuesday wasn’t much better.

I understand that this is the way it goes, and I do my best to cope by resting after work most days and drinking glass after glass of water. But yeah, I can’t pack in the activities like I used to. I can’t do as much as I’d like. And we already know I can’t lift things as I once could.  Even a few weekends ago, when I celebrated baby boy with friends and family in Pennsylvania and Kyle’s engagement, I was wiped after 4 straight days of activity.

I’m not complaining as I feel so blessed to be in these shoes after my last few months. But boy, growing a baby is hard, tiring work. And while I love how his constant kicking keeps me company when I can’t sleep, my expanding body is getting cumbersome and uncomfortable.

In my first trimester, I was queasy and tired. I mainly laid low and rested outside work.

In my second trimester, my energy soared. The queasiness subsided and I was on a mission. I was incredibly active, between regular walks, hikes, yoga and trying new activities like Pilates.

Then the third trimester – and the summer heat – hit me like a truck. Yeah. reality check.  Did I mention that we don’t have central air? Yeahhhh.

But that’s ok. Baby boy will be here soon enough, and we’ll enjoy the crisp fall weather together.

Any tips for a third trimester mama with 7 weeks to go? Share in the comments!

Mixing It Up

Ahhh… Summer. It’s been a bit of an exciting one so far. As Meridith mentioned last week, I got engaged a couple of weeks ago and have been kind of basking in that glow for a bit. Being the planner that I am, I have to fight my urge to jump in and start planning all the things right away, and remember to just enjoy being engaged. Which I’m not so good at, because I love list making and researching and all of that nonsense. Clay has had to reign me in a couple of times. Oops.

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Love this boy – so excited for what we have coming up!

But, there are definitely other things I need to focus on in the mean time, like making sure my bod is hotttt for my wedding day – it’s never too early to start that work. To do that, I’ve been trying to ramp it up and keep things fun and spicy in the gym.

I’ve been working on programming a healthy mix of HIIT, strength, and cardio into my training. This keeps me engaged and allows me to work on certain skills and endurance at the same time. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get bored when my workouts are the same every other day. I need variety. And so, this is what happens:

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That middle workout? Smoked me the first time I did it. Heavy sled pushes into burpee box jumps are no joke. Leg days have left me jello-legged and sore. My favorite kind.

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Cardio has been alternating between spin, running, and Kazaxe. I used to spin all the time, but back in December I changed gyms, which meant leaving my favorite spin instructors. Womp womp. It’s been hard to get back at it and find new classes that I like as much. But, I’m giving the new place the benefit of the doubt and trying out a few instructors – hopefully I’ll find some that I like!

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Don’t want to wear your fancy jewelry at the gym? Get a Qalo ring!

I’ve been trying to find the motivation to run outside, but the forecast for this week has the highs in the 90s and humidity at swamp-like levels… running mostly sounds terrible. I’m not training for a race right now, so convincing myself to get out there is tough. But, I am in the gym every day, and I don’t feel bad about that.

Cheers to summer and sunshine and sweaty workouts and exciting life events. I’ve got a lot of reasons to smile!