Chick Chat: Warm Fuzzies

Recently we were discussing things that make us happy. Of course there are the classics, the tried and true favorites that we return to continually. And then there are the newer things that we’ve recently stumbled upon that we can’t stop thinking about and make us forget about the craziness of the world for a short while.

We wanted to share our lists with you and would love to hear what you’re loving right now, too!

I honestly don’t know how I would cope right now without cute animal photos and videos on the internet. Here are my current faves:

I’m big on escapism when I have time for it. My husband and I like to watch old sitcoms on Netflix and Hulu. Comfort TV, we call it. I Love LucyWings, and Married With Children all get airtime, and when my husband isn’t home I binge watch the BBC 1995 Pride & Prejudice miniseries

I’m a fan of video games but since my TV and PS3 are in storage, I had to take a break from Skyrim. Now I’m playing Texas Hold’em poker and Forge of Empires on my phone.

I haven’t had much time for reading lately, but audiobooks have been my jam when I’m driving or in the background at work. Although, Hillbilly Elegy and How the Right Went Wrong aren’t exactly stress-free listening, both were worth my time and aggravation; I recommend them.

Books

One of my goals for 2017 was to read more. I said I wanted to read 30 books… but I’ve gotten through six. Granted, four of those have been Game of Thrones books, and those suckers are long. But still. I just finished Chasing Excellence by Ben Bergeron and it was really eye-opening. Bergeron is the coach for two elite Crossfit athletes and throughout the book he discusses competitive mindset. Highly recommend. (I’ll be doing a full review of this next week!)

Podcasts

I think I’m subscribed to three or four podcasts that I listen to regularly. Here are my top two:

Girls Gone WODJoy and Claire make you feel like you’re one of their best friends. I started listening to this podcast last year, though at the time I wasn’t doing Crossfit. It didn’t matter though, because their subject matter and conversation goes so far beyond the sport of fitness. They talk about fun things, like Mean Girls, and hard things, like body image, and are always working to educate themselves and their listeners along the way. I cannot recommend them highly enough.

Pursuing Health with Julie FoucherThis is another Crossfit-related podcast that goes beyond Crossfit. Julie Foucher is a multi-year Crossfit Games athlete, and two-time podium finisher. She is also a recent medical school graduate and a doctor at the Cleveland Clinic. This podcast captures Julie’s passion in taking what she’s learned from Crossfit and in the field of medicine, and using it to empower others to live healthier lives. Her perspective as an athlete and a healthcare profession is unique and really welcome. Two thumbs up.

TV Shows

I’m just gonna give you a list of stuff you need to watch. Stat.

  • Game of Thrones. Duh. You have at least a year, if not a year and a half to get caught up before the last season starts. There’s no better time to visit Westeros!
  • Big Little Lies. DUDE. I hadn’t read the book before I sat down to watch this mini-series, so I didn’t know what to expect. What I got was amazing performances from Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley. Holy wow. So. Good.
  • Parks and Recreation. Whenever I’m down or need a good laugh, I sit down with Leslie Knope and the good people of Pawnee (First in Friendship, Fourth in Obesity). The first season is a little slow, but hang in there and you’ll thank me later.
  • West Wing. I’ll be honest, I watch this primarily because it’s one of the best shows in television history, and it helps me ignore the shitstorm currently in the White House. Bartlet 2020, anyone?

Movie

Singin’ In The Rain – recently my son asked if we could watch together. Naturally, I said YES. Then I tried to reenact this scene by myself. It went as well as you might expect.

I’ll leave the dancing to the professionals. Even still, this movie just makes me very happy.

Tying into movies, let’s talk about my current favorite music!

Music

The soundtrack from the movie: Sing! It is so good. My kids love it. My parents love it. My husband (who is a little cranky at times) loves it. And, of course it goes without saying because it’s made my list, I love it.

So me.

It’s the perfect music to cook dinner to, to drive to, to run to, it’s a brilliant mixture that fits so many different occasions. Good, good stuff.

Podcasts

I’ve been listening to podcasts mostly when I clean/do the laundry. Those two things don’t make me happy but the podcasts makes the chores bearable. I save a lot of my tedious tasks for Friday because that’s when both are published.

BibRave Podcast – The BibRave podcast has been in existence for just over a year now and while it was at first hosted by BibRave founders, Julia and Tim, it has since expanded to include more hosts (Andy and Jessica). It’s not a secret that I’m a BibRave Pro so one might think I have a vested interest in listening. Honestly, I’d listen no matter what.

They host interesting guests and touch on all aspects of running and cross-training, as well as taking care of yourself and body. Even though I’m not at the running 100 mile race level (and probably never will be) the most recent episode from Tim’s Leadville 100 was relatable and unlike other podcasts I’ve listened to.

Team Shenanigans Podcast – This is hosted by a fun bunch of folks from all over the place. Usually spanning an hour, the Team Shenanigans crew talks a lot about runDisney events (which I haven’t actually run since 2015) but also discusses other races and events. The dynamic between this group is great and they remind me of friends that I’d hang out at a bar(becue because I don’t really hang out at bars much these days).

One of my favorite recent episodes from earlier this summer was when Caryn became a Queen of Connecticut by completing a race in every town of CT (that’s 169 towns, btw).

We’d love to hear some of your favorites! Please share in the comments.

#WeddingWednesday: DIY Wedding Day Music

I’m DJ-ing my own wedding.

roomba

I wish DJ Roomba would play my wedding.

I thought this would be pretty easy – I’m a musician, Clay is really a musician, we love a wide variety of tune-age. Finding songs that we like should be no problem, right?

Well. Kind of.

As it turns out, we both have pretty strong criteria for our playlists and while we like many genres and styles of music, it’s hard to sift through that many songs! And, we don’t want any of our ceremony music to feel cliched – because as pretty as Pachelbel’s Canon is, I am not walking down the aisle to it. Nope. (Not judging anyone who has used that piece, I’ve just played it one too many times, and the cello part blows.)

It’s also tricky to pick all of your own music for not only the ceremony, but also for dinner and dancing. That’s a lot of moods and styles to figure out and balance. (And let’s be honest, I really just want to dance.)

Basically, the Bravermans are #goals

Basically, the Bravermans are #goals

Needless to say,  I have a large spreadsheet mapping out our current favorites and ideas. The dancing and dinner portions of the evening don’t seem to be giving me as much trouble as the ceremony part – which isn’t really surprising, as it is the most personal and is when people will be the most tuned-in to what the music says and how it makes them feel.

Consequently, that means that I am over-thinking this portion like whoa. Because I want to avoid cliche, and I want the ceremony to be true to our music style, I’m finding myself wading through all of my favorite music and getting seriously distracted. “Oooh, I like that!” “OH! I like that too.”  “Dave Matthews needs to be in here somewhere” “Also probably Paul Simon?” “HOW COULD I FORGET JOHN WILLIAMS?!”

You see my problem.

Fortunately, the lovely folks at Wedding Paper Divas have a super helpful tool to help with this kind of indecision. Their Wedding Song interactive is categorized by event within the wedding day, and then browse-able by genre and decade.

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-8-58-46-pm

I spent about twenty minutes poking through their selections for processionals, as that’s where most of my indecision has been, and I was pleased to find a song I didn’t know existed that now I want to use! Who knew that John Mayer covered Beyonce’s “XO”? Okay. Clay knew. But I didn’t, and I’m kind of obsessed with it.

I’m really looking forward to continuing to play around with this tool as we build our playlists for Wedding Day – there’s still a lot of fine-tuning to do and this will be a great resource to inspire us.

What are some of the most unique wedding songs you’ve heard? Best? Worst?

Weekend Hangover and #WeddingWednesday

I’m writing this post to you on Tuesday, for Wednesday, but it was originally supposed to be up Monday.

That should give you some idea of how this week has started for me.

I had a three-day weekend, which you think would mean that I got lots done or rested or got my ish together. Unfortunately, none of that was the case. The things I took off to do on Friday? Not done. Lunch with friends? Spoiled by a parking ticket (that I didn’t even deserve!). No time for the gym for three days between running errands, and rehearsals and choir concerts. Football Sunday was shaping up to be a good day, and then the Packers lost.

And then it was Monday and I forgot to write a post. So, here we are.

I think I’ve managed to move past that nonsense though, finally getting back in the gym yesterday with Clay (he’d been traveling for two weeks for work). Brilliant us decided that leg day was the best way to get back at it and though these deadlifts look easy, they were just the beginning of a “let’s just slay ourselves” evening under the barbell.

Picking up heavy things really helped me shake off the weekend and the general bummer that it was. I remembered that my guy was finally home and how much more I like working out when he’s with me. I remembered that even though the Packers lost, I still got to spend Football Sunday with good friends and enjoyed good food. I remembered that despite a parking ticket, I got to see some of my favorite people, even if it was just for a couple of hours. And at the end of the day, all the weekend lameness was just that. Lameness. It goes away.

There are so many more things to be grateful for – I really don’t need to complain about anything at all.

My mission for the rest of this week?

  1. Sleep more. I’ll feel a lot more together with more than 5 hours of sleep each night.
  2. Meal Plan.  Now that Clay is home, I can’t just skate by with half a grilled chicken breast for dinner anymore. Back to the list making!
  3. Gym. Our schedules are pretty normal for the next couple of weeks – time to find our routine again.
  4. Work on Wedding Playlists. We’re doing our own DJ-ing, so I’ve been collecting song ideas for the ceremony, cocktail hour and dance portions of the evening. Time to sit down and spend some quality time with my iTunes library and a spreadsheet.

Happy Hump Day!

What are some of your must-hear wedding jams? What gets you on the dancefloor? I’m taking suggestions!

See Jess Run: Volume 4

Sometimes when I run or walk, or do whatever it is that I do for exercise, I like to slow it down a bit. And I don’t mean actually slow it down – although, yes, sometimes that as well. I mean, I like to scroll to the playlist that has the slow stuff. The stuff that makes me breathe a little deeper and be a little more present in whatever I’m doing.

Since I haven’t shared a playlist in a while, and because I need a little inspiration to get back out there on the road, I put together this playlist of songs that, while not your traditional workout music, is actually a really awesome companion to whatever your workout routine is. It just digs a little bit deeper than Britney (who I love!).

Hey, we all need a little reminder to slow it down every once in a while, right?

[8tracks width=”300″ height=”250″ playops=”” url=”http://8tracks.com/mixes/5079416″]

Do you prefer to run to fast music or slow? Any recommendations for tracks to add to my playlist? Talk to me in the comments! 

See Jess Run: Volume 3

Okay, admittedly, perhaps this playlist should be titled “See Jess NOT Run.” Unfortunately, I’m having a wee bit o’ the asthma flare-up, so I haven’t been training. With any luck, that will be turning around this week, but I have been feeling pretty guilty about my lack of running.

In that vein (and also since I don’t have much running-related things to share this week), I decided to make a guilty pleasure playlist. You know what I’m talking about: it’s the reason you’d tackle someone if they tried to steal your iPod and browse through your downloaded songs. This playlist includes the kind of songs where, the first time you hear it on the radio, you say to yourself, “Ugh, what IS this?” But by the fourth or tenth or twentieth listen, you’re singing along to lyrics you didn’t even know you knew. For any of you who have seen Easy A, it’s the playlist equivalent of “Pocketful of Sunshine.”

Please note that my sharing of this playlist required a lot of courage on my part.

[8tracks width=”300″ height=”250″ playops=”” url=”http://8tracks.com/mixes/4222098″]

P.S. Please ALSO note that it took everything in me to include Backstreet Boys in this playlist, because I am strictly *NSYNC. But I mean…As Long As You Love Me is really good. I guess.

So now you know my musical secrets and shame. In return, I want to know what your guilty pleasure song is. Tell me in the comments! 

See Jess Run: Volume 2…and a giveaway!

A couple months ago, I told you all about my plans to run the Disneyland Half Marathon. I also included my running playlist, which was almost more exciting for me than announcing my big plans.

Now, one thing you should know about me (I know I say this a lot): I am obsessed with music. I’ve probably told you all this, but it’s true and bears repeating. Music is what motivates me most when I’m exercising – more than getting in shape, more than burning calories, more than the promise of slimmer thighs and a tighter booty. I can’t work out without music. If I don’t bring my iPod with me to run – or whatever – I might as well go home because that workout is going to suck.

At any rate, since I had so much fun creating my first playlist, I wanted to bring it back with a fresh new playlist and something fun for you all…more on that in just a bit.

I’m going to theme it up for this one, and maybe future ones if you’re into it! This playlist’s theme is all about 90s music. I think that decade of music is just about the ultimate: Foo Fighters. Nirvana. Blink 182 and Nada Surf and Biggie and 2Pac and Salt-n-Pepa AND…

Maybe you just want to listen to the playlist:

[8tracks width=”300″ height=”250″ playops=”” url=”http://8tracks.com/mixes/3559601″]

Hopefully this playlist has gotten you all jazzed up for a playlist you’d like to make. And to help you along with that, we’re going to be giving one of you a $25 iTunes gift card! Just click the picture below to enter!

ScootiTunes

Giveaway ends March 11th, so get to entering!

What kind of playlist will you put together if you win the iTunes gift card? What kind of playlist do you want to see me do next time? Do you want there to be a next time? Tell me in the comments!

Parental Advisory (Explicit Content Requested)

When my youngest brother was three, my aunt gave him a mix tape with only one song, repeating over and over. Front AND back. His favorite song; Blue’s Traveler’s Runaround. At the time, I thought it was hilarious and adorable. Now that I’m in the car with my kids for a good portion of the day, I fully understand what fresh hell it must have been for my mother.

Here’s a tip: if you like a song, do not play it for your children. Kids are song ruiners. They take such delight in hearing a song they like (even more so once they learn the words) that you will have to listen to that song again and again, and again and again, until you hate it. At that point, they will ask you to play it, “Just one more tiiiiiime, Mommy!” before they acquiesce and allow you a turn (“But nothing slow, okay?”) And know this- you will only get one selection before they ask for THAT SONG again.

Sigh.

Just a few tunes I used to enjoy before my kids loved them:

Paparazzi by Lady Gaga
Firework by Katy Perry
A-Punk by Vampire Weekend
The entire Wicked soundtrack

I’m in the car quite a bit with my littles, and the older two (mostly) control our radio. This Spring, we listened to the Sophia the First soundtrack for three months straight. Awkward is your husband walking into the kitchen as you belt out, “I’m not ready to be a princess, I don’t have what it takes…” while washing dishes.

Right now, they’re in a Kidz Bop phase. I used to let them listen to actual pop songs, but they started repeating some unsavory lyrics. (Not curse words, but not appropriate for children either, you know what I mean?) For those lucky people who aren’t familiar with Kidz Bop, let me fill you in. The Kidz Bop kids cover popular, Top 40 music, but alter the lyrics so that all songs are kid-friendly. In “California Gurls”, for example, Katy Perry croons, “Sun-kissed skin, so hot, we’ll melt your popsicle…” while the KB kids sing “Sun-kissed beach”, and voila! No worries when they sing that one in the grocery store checkout line.

They each have favorites (Oldest likes “Girlfriend” by Avril Lavigne, while my middle girl prefers “Who Let the Dogs Out”. Yayyyy), and there are so many songs they enjoy that we aren’t falling into a pattern of requesting the same song ad nauseum. Yet. (And only because the Kidz have, like, 25 albums. Note to my Chicks, we should totally form a Momz Bop group.)

My husband and I took them to see Kidz Bop in concert last Sunday. (Yep, they tour. Who knew?) Watching my girls dance and sing their little hearts out was the best part of my weekend, even if I had to endure a KB cover of “Ho Hey”.

Singing like Taylor Swift!

Singing like Taylor Swift!

So, you can understand that during my time “off”, which is pretty much my running time, I like to listen to adult music. Give me the big butts, the rump shaking, sex on fire, Slim Shady, and all the words I wouldn’t even type here.

Recently, I got a new iPod shuffle, and asked my girls for some dirrrty tunes for my workouts:

Bec-
Crazy Bitch – Buckcherry
What’s Your Fantasy- Ludacris and Lil Kim
Tear You Apart – She Wants Revenge
Closer – Nine Inch Nails
Work It – Missy Elliott

Jess-
Big Poppa – The Notorious BIG
HAM – Kanye West and Jay-Z

Meri-
We Run This- Missy Elliott

Thanks, Chicks!

Share your favorite PG-13 and rated R running tunes with me. Please? Or tell us what songs our Momz Bop group would cover. 

Chick Chat: What Moves You?

As I’ve mentioned before, I love to jam. If I’m awake, I’m either singing to myself or listening to the professionals on my iPod (they sound better). Sometimes I sing-talk. And by sometimes I mean all the time and mostly at work. My co-workers love me!

When it was my turn to host the chick chat post, of course I wanted to talk about music. Some of us jam to rock. Some of us to hip hop (hoorayyyy, ho, hey, ho). Some of us move to our own internal beat. We like to mix it up.

So, if you’re looking for music to move your tush to when you’re working up a sweat, or if you’re just curious what’s on our iPods, we’re sharing a few of our favorite songs to run to. Read on, friends!

Meri 

1. Club Can’t Handle Me – Flo Rida featuring David Guetta

Because it really can’t. I take it TO THE STREETS (with my crew, Jess and Cam).

2. You’re So Damn Hot – Ok Go

Because I am. So damn hot. And it’s nice to be reminded of that while running.

3. Kodachrome – Paul Simon

Mama, don’t take my Kodachrome away! I kick it old school with this one and it always reminds me of my Icelandic friend, Bylgja!

4. Feel This Moment – Pitbull and Christina

I feel like Pitbull needs to be on every running list. Including my top five. (errrr, six)

5.  Titanium – David Guetta featuring Sia

Firstly, this song reminds me of Pitch Perfect, which was a fantastic movie. Secondly, I love the build of this song. It makes me feel invincible.

6. Harder Than You Think – Public Enemy

I first heard this song on last year’s UK Paralympics commercial last year. It stirred such a reaction within me, both the advertisement (go PR people!) and the song; it had to be mine.

Vic 

I don’t listen to music as I run. It’s just the way I roll. I’d rather take the time to decompress, particularly after a busy or stressful day, which are par for the course in my line of work.

As I run, I replay my day, let my mind wander and focus on each breath. And that is music of a different sort.

Brooke 

1. Dog Days Are Over- Florence and the Machine

Well, it’s about running, right? Not really. Or maybe? It says “run” a lot, anyway. It also has a good beat and I love Florence.

2. Be My Thrill- The Weepies

This song makes me want to run FAST. Awesome beat.

3. The Thong Song- Sisqo

Seriously. It’s just fun and funny and if you’re hitting a wall during a race, or getting bored on the treadmill, it will completely distract you.

4. 369- Cupid featuring B.O.B.

Another song for fast running. And really, the entire Step Up 2: The Streets album is the jam.

5. What’s Your Fantasy- Ludicris

Haha, well, this has a great beat for running. It also makes me laugh and I know (and usually sing) all the words.

Bec

1. International Love – Pitbull

This song just has this kind of groove to it that makes me want to run. Or dance. Or dancerun. Don’t judge.

2. Gonna Fly Now – DeEtta Little and Nelson Pigford

If you don’t recognize it by name, this is the Rocky ‘steps’ song. Yes, I’m aware this is sort of corny. But I’m telling you, put this in your running playlist and when it pops up, it will make you smile and make you push a little harder.

3. Ride on Time – Black Box

If it were not for the cinematic genius that is 1992’s The Cutting Edge, I don’t think I would even know this song. But it rocks. “Gotta get up, gotta get up…” Awesome running jam.

4. She Sells Sanctuary – The Cult (What, I liked Moira Kelly movies in the early 90s. Sue me.)

Probably far from most people’s traditional running fare, this has been on every exercise playlist I’ve ever had.

5. Crazy B*#ch – Buckcherry or SuperMassive Black Hole – Muse

Yeah, I added two. But for a reason. You know those moments in a run when it’s really hard and you feel like you want to stop and the whole thing kind of feels like a big,  fat failure but you’ve only got a few minutes less and you really want to push through. Either or these songs will get you through the last four and a half minutes of any bad run.

Cam

1. Feed the Animals or All Day – Girl Talk

Hours of continuous music that includes every song I’ve ever loved ever?  YES PLEASE!  I like that it has a variant of speeds.  I can time my rests with the mix and anticipate when I’m going to make a big push for speed.  Mostly, this is what I run to always.  I only resort to the following when I’m feeling restless.

2. In Ghost Colours – Cut Copy

It’s just so happy!  It makes me feel magical and giddy, which is exactly how I want to feel when my legs feel like they’re trying to murder me.

3. Business Casual – Chromeo

This album makes me want to dance.  It’s one of the best distractions because all I can think about when I listen is shaking my booty.

4. Greatest Hits – Notorious B.I.G.

I know all the words.  It’s also awesome when I can’t help but rap out loud and someone ahead of glances back to see what all the gangsta is about.  Yeah, it’s about this bitch right here.

5. Funhouse or The Truth About Love – P!nk

This is my I am Woman, Hear me Roar music.  I feel like kicking ass and taking names when I run to P!nk.  It sets a great pace, and pushes me to run a little faster than my norm.

Jess 

1. Sweet Disposition – The Temper Trap

I love warming up to this when I’m running outside. It feels like the pulse of the city is moving through me.

2. Move Bitch – Ludacris

This is one of the few songs that can get me up the crazy hills of San Francisco. I’m moving, Luda, stop yelling at me!

3. Power – Kanye West

Kanye has some sick beats and this song in particular makes me feel like I could take on an army and come out triumphant. The world is ours, Yeezy.

4. Devil Town – Tony Lucca

Clear eyes, full hearts. This song makes me think of Coach Taylor and Friday nights and, of course, that dreamy Tim Riggins. I don’t know why it motivates me to keep running, but it’s one of my favorites to run to. Could be that sweet-spot mid-tempo beat. Or it could be because I’m so distracted daydreaming about being a part of the Friday Night Lights cast.

5. (You Make Me Feel Like) a Natural Woman – Aretha Franklin

My go-to cool down song. And oh, but I do feel like a Natural Woman when I’m done with a run: sweaty, out of breath, but also strong. No one sings the strong woman’s song better than Aretha.

What say you, peeps? Does music get you going? Or are you more in tune with your own internal soundtrack? Got any great new tunes for us? Come talk to us in the comments!

Gimme a Beat!

Searching for running music can be tedious, yet the right rhythm can make all the difference.  Sometimes it’s just a matter of upping the fun factor for me, so I tend to favor music that I can sing along to.  It’s not uncommon to find me on the course spitting phat rhymes with Biggie.  I like music that makes me feel powerful, something that accentuates my swagger and funk and general badassness.

In an effort to increase my running speed, I’m contantly on the lookout for new music. Guess what???  BPM isn’t just for Dubstep anymore!  Poking around on the interwebs, I found this site, Run2Rhythm, which has some interesting information regarding the beats per minute (BPM) of music and running pace.

Highlights include music available for download, nifty charts for determining optimum BPM for different distances, and mixes for all music tastes.  Eventually, for the very savvy and self-aware, you can customize your running mix to allow for changes in speed, cadence, distance and elevation.  You can plan your entire race using your music!

I’ve also found some excellent running stations on Pandora. I’ve found these stations excellent for “zoning out” tunes because it’s mostly instrumental music that takes my mind of the miles.  I like this kind of music for treadmill runs.  Because really, I’d rather cut my legs off than run on a treadmill.  When it’s my only option, I definitely need the distraction.  Best of all, Pandora is FREE!!!

So what music gets you to bust a move?  Or do you scoot all natural and prefer the rhythm of your own pulse in your ears and your feet on the pavement?  Gimme the goods!