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I Choose Strength

Today is, without a doubt, my least favorite day of the year, and for the last nine years I have begun to  dread it from the moment I see it on my calendar.

On January 22, 2005 an amazing person was taken from this world by an evil one–a man who never even knew how incredible Sarah was. Nine years ago I was 17 years old and worried about how to enjoy my last semester of high school, getting into college, and going to gymnastics practice four days a week. I wasn’t prepared for everything the world taught me that day, and I wasn’t prepared to keep myself together when 30 other younger girls were looking at me and asking the question I had no answer to: “Why?”

Why did such an amazing person get taken away from her family, friends, and gymnasts that looked up to her? Why was my first television appearance for an interview about my gymnastics coach who was held hostage and murdered by a stranger?

All this time later and I still have no answer, but I do know one thing: I learned to be strong. I learned to be aware of my surroundings (which is never a bad thing as a young woman). I discovered that a trip to Canada for a funeral with some of your teammates is an amazing way to grieve. I know that I share a bond with the rest of my teammates who were impacted by Sarah as much as I was, and together we are strong.

Though Sarah’s loss with always be devastatingly felt by all of her loved ones, the good that can be achieved by all of those whose lives she touched far surpasses the evil of this man. Today I choose to grieve, but also to be strong. I choose to remember that I can make a positive difference in the world, just as Sarah did. I will never forget the evil that occurred on this day, but I won’t let it break me and I won’t let it stop me from doing good. In fact, it will only motivate me more. I choose strength. And I know that Sarah would, too.

Today I begin coaching gymnastics again after taking a hiatus for way too long. I can only hope to inspire and motivate this group of gymnasts the way Sarah did us.

Rest in Peace, Sarah.

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Workouts and Awards

This week I finally feel like I’m starting to get where I want to be in terms of my workout frequency and intensity, and I’m excited to start another productive week tomorrow! Here’s what the last week consisted of:

  • Monday: Pump class
  • Tuesday: 3.5 mile run
  • Wednesday: Though it wasn’t the type of workout you’d typically think of, I spent 6.5 hours at work moving freshman girls into their residence halls. Suitcases, stairs, and sweat. I considered it my workout for the day.
  • Thursday: 1-mile warm-up run, followed by Boot Camp
  • Friday: OFF
  • Saturday: OFF
  • Sunday: 6-mile run and some ab work

I was pretty happy with my run today, as I’m pretty sure it was the farthest I’ve run without stopping since sometime in 2012. Not proud of it. But I made it through with the help of my psychic iPhone that kept playing songs I needed to hear to keep me pumped! My foam roller and I had a date when I returned home. Since tomorrow is Labor Day my Pump class is canceled, so I’m looking forward to creating a leg and ab workout for myself. I’m also hoping to incorporate some more running into my workouts this week!

And now to the more exciting part of this post. Earlier in the week I received a Facebook notification that I have been nominated for the Liebster Award by Joanna of Jo(w)anna Know What? I took some time looking up the Liebster Award and between Lorraine Reguly’s blog and Sophie Says I’ve determined that it an award for up-and-coming bloggers and sort of has a chain letter feel to it. Basically, you answer a set of questions that the blogger who nominated you gives you and nominate 3-5 other bloggers who have less than 3000 followers (other rules say 200 followers, but who really knows!). So here we go with the list of questions that Joanna gave me:

1. What is your favorite hobby? (Besides blogging of course): I think I’ll go with working out or singing
2. If a real life genie appeared while you did your weekly lamp polishing, what would be your 3 wishes? Ooh, this is tough! I think I’d wish for enough money to pay off my student loans first! As for my second and third wishes, probably more serious things like health and happiness for my family and friends. I don’t care if that’s sappy. Just go with it.
3. If you could leave right now for a 2 week vacation, where would you go? Vacation?! Yes, please! I’d like to go back to Grand Cayman, so let’s say there
4. If you were a super hero, what powers would you have? I’ve never had the opportunity to choose multiple powers! Teleportation, the ability to fly, and mind-reading skills. Those would be great!
5. What is your guilty pleasure? Chocolate. I didn’t even hesitate on that one
6. What is a cool family tradition you have, or have started? My sister and I have always slept in her room on Christmas Eve. Every year, never fails. Shall be interesting this year since she will be married!
7. What is your favorite childhood memory? Family dinners, sitting around the table laughing until we can’t breathe.
8. What historical figure would you love to see in 21st century life? Freud would be an interesting person to talk to, ha!
9. What is your favorite holiday? I love Christmas!
10. If you were ever to be famous, what would you be famous for? I’d love to be a famous singer!
11. What is quote that you live by? “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”-Ralph Waldo Emerson
And now for the nominees:
  • Bliss, written by my very best friend Mo! Looking for inspiration? Find it here!
  • Katy in the Middle: A girl I went to high school with, Kate, recently started this blog and it is hilarious!

I think those are the only blogs I read regularly that meet the requirements for the Liebster, but I’m always open to new blog suggestions! And now ladies, your questions:

  1. What is your favorite animal?
  2. If you could re-live one day from your past, what would it be?
  3. If you could pick a different career, what would it be?
  4. What is your favorite sport to watch? To play?
  5. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner?
  6. What is your biggest pet peeve?
  7. What do you do to relax?
  8. Do you have any pets? Names, breeds?
  9. Where has been your favorite vacation?
  10. What is one piece of wisdom you will be sure to pass along to your children?

Have fun, Kate and Mo! And thanks again, Joanna!

Fighting Illness

Last night I got to spend time with one of my good college friends, Becky! She had flown to Florida from Ohio earlier in the week to pick up her car (she and her husband recently moved back to Ohio from Florida), and stopped for a night on her drive back up north. We went out to dinner at The Mill House, a local restaurant known for its pizza. I’ve only been to the Mill House one other time, but enjoyed their pizza and thought it would be a fun place to take Becky. The evening was spent catching up, as we hadn’t seen each other in a while. We called it a night pretty early, since we both had busy days today (me at work and her driving 11 hours to Ohio), but it was so nice to see her and spend time together! I was very excited to have someone stay in my nautical-themed guest bedroom, and Bella was very excited to have someone else to love on her.

As I was looking through my refrigerator for a snack last night, I remembered that I had this Karma Wellness Water I tried for the first time in Charleston recently.

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Between my exhaustion from my busy weekend and my air travel, I recognize that my immune system may not be functioning at its full potential. I decided last night to bring the Karma Balance Immunity Booster with me to work today. With 1667% of your Daily Value of Vitamin C, I figured it might be just the thing to help me fight anything that may be heading my way. Well I guess I should have thought of the idea earlier on, because when I woke up this morning my throat was feeling sore and scratchy. I’m at work today with my Wellness Water (and my favorite Nature’s Path Love Crunch Dark Chocolate & Red Berries Granola), and am hoping to nip this illness in the bud before it goes too far!

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My plan is to head to Boot Camp tonight after work, and hope that it will help me sweat out whatever I’m fighting, too. I have a busy weekend full of classes I’d like to take at the gym, and am hoping my body feels up to it!

Since I have off work tomorrow my plan is to sleep in and I can’t even put into words how excited I am! I’m hoping that a combination of a healthy, restful weekend and some good old Vitamin C will be enough to have me feeling 100% by work on Monday!

  • What are some of your “tried and true” illness-fighting secrets?

If You Fail to Plan…

This weekend, my days consisted of planning, planning, and more planning.

After all of the thought I put in to my workout motivation last week, I decided that one way to keep myself motivated would be to plan my workouts for the week ahead of time. By planning ahead, I know beforehand what my expectations are for myself and I’m prepared physically and mentally for what’s to come. This week my workouts will consist of my usual group exercise classes (Pump and Boot Camp), possibly trying a Kickboxing class, and a 5-mile run. I’m taking a trip this weekend to Charleston, and I believe my friend is going to take me for a run at the beach, as well! I woke up this morning ready for tonight’s Pump class and was able to stay motivated for it all day. It doesn’t hurt that my instructor is so much fun!

Along with planning my workouts, I planned my meals as well. I’ve been pretty good about eating healthy dinners lately, but I’ve found that I have been throwing lunches together at the last minute and often end up hungry mid-way through the afternoon–not good when I typically go straight from work to the gym! I based this week’s meals on what I already had in my refrigerator/freezer, what I’ve been craving lately (spaghetti squash!), weekly sales at the grocery store, and my farmer’s market favorites. This week’s lunches will be grilled chicken salads, and whatever my coworkers and I find in Columbia (I will be away at a training for two days). Last night I made myself spaghetti squash with grass-fed ground beef I picked up at the local farmer’s market.

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It definitely satisfied my craving, and I am excited for leftovers! The rest of the week’s dinner will consist of grilled chicken and veggies with roasted sweet potatoes. I don’t know what my deal is lately, but I have a new-found love for onions and mushrooms and I can’t get enough!

As I was thinking about prepping my meals for the week, I started dreading the process of digging through my cabinet to find a matching container and lid to pack my food up in. It only took about 30 seconds before I was in my car and on my way to Walmart to find a solution to the problem. I walked out shortly after with this:

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These Rubbermaid containers (couldn’t find the exact set I got, but here is a similar one), cost me only $10 and have already made my life so much easier! The lids stack together in a way that makes storing them so simple and they don’t take up a ton of space. Hooray for organization! Look how pretty today’s meals looked in their new containers:

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Along with meal planning/prepping and planning my workouts, I have also been working a lot on the planning of my sister’s bridal shower and bachelorette party next month! Since Erin lives out of state (and so do I, now!), we have been planning to do her bridal shower and bachelorette party the same weekend. While I don’t want to give too many details yet, I will say that I’m having a lot of fun planning it and I can’t wait to share it all with you after the event!

And now, my plan for the rest of this evening is to enjoy The Bachelorette hometown dates and a bowl of popcorn! Have a wonderful Monday evening, folks!

 

Fitness Motivation: Appearance vs. Accomplishment

As I was completing a treadmill workout recently, I was thinking about my lack of motivation lately when it came to exercise–especially running. I’ve only run outside once since my move to South Carolina, and I run on the treadmill at the gym about once a week. This is a huge change for me considering the fact that, a year ago, I was beginning training for the Columbus Marathon. I pushed through my run while pondering why it is that I just haven’t loved running lately.

And then I realized that I’m not really working toward anything.

My motivation lately has been based on my appearance. It’s summer, I live a lot closer to the beach than I used to, and I want to look good in that bikini. Is that enough to motivate me through several workouts each week? Eh, sometimes. I’m sure it’s more of a motivation in the summer when the fear of wearing next to nothing in front of strangers creeps into my mind, but it doesn’t last long. I think this explains the people you see in the gym all the time in the summer, and never see again until the following spring. Once summer is over, their motivation to “look good” disappears.

This led me to thinking about what really motivates me–what makes me push myself to go that extra mile (or ten), what forces me to go to the gym even when my muscles are aching–and that thinking brought up one of the best feelings and memories I have to date: crossing that marathon finish line. A little history for all of you that don’t know me: I was a gymnast for 12 years of my life. This meant mastering skills that could likely paralyze me on a somewhat regular basis. Of course there was a sense of pride that washed over me every time I accomplished a new skill, but I don’t remember ever feeling the way I did when I finished the marathon last October. Even though my joints were aching and I was on the verge of tears for the last few miles (having your car totaled four days before a marathon does not bode well for lack of pain during the race), all of that disappeared in that last stretch before the finish line. Both sides of the street were lined with people cheering us on, and when I crossed the finish line the most amazing feeling overwhelmed me. I had accomplished a goal I had been working months to achieve. I pushed through the pain and the doubts in my head and I finished. It’s a feeling that words cannot properly describe and one that I would absolutely love to feel again. As I trained for the marathon, long runs often became boring and I would start to lose motivation halfway through. During those moments, I would imagine what it would feel like on race day to cross the finish line. My daydreams pushed me through those runs, and even my imagination could not compare to the actual feeling I had on race day.

Since the marathon I have only run one 15k and a few 5ks. Needless to say, my motivation to run hasn’t been as strong as it was during marathon training. Though I still go to the gym multiple times each week, I often go because I feel like I have to instead of because I want to. I’ve come to realize that I really need something to work towards if I want to maintain my motivation, and I’m struggling somewhat to come up with ideas. I know that registering for a longer race would definitely motivate me to run more, so that’s something I’ve begun looking into. In terms of other fitness goals, I haven’t come up with anything yet, but I am definitely open to suggestions! I’m somewhat of a competitive person, which is part of the reason I think races (and training for races) are so motivating to me!

The conclusion I’ve come to is that working out for the sake of appearance only takes me so far. Working out for the sake of accomplishment, or working towards a goal, is what really motivates me. Again, this is something that I’ve noticed about myself personally, and may not be the same for everyone. So now on my “to-do list” is coming up with goals to work towards in order to keep my motivation high. I will be sure to update with what I’ve come up with, and please feel free to share ideas in the comments section!

Bon Voyage

One of the hardest things about making my move from Ohio to South Carolina was knowing the amazing family and friends I was leaving behind. I am blessed to have some wonderful people in my life, and I knew it would be hard not being able to see them as often once I moved. These friends and family members threw me two going away parties before I left, and I was overwhelmed by the love and well-wishes I received from them.

The first of these parties was thrown by my parents and my best friend and my parents’ house. So many friends from high school, college and growing up came, as well as several family members.

Party planner extraordinaire!

Party planner extraordinaire!

HIgh school friends Natalie and Haley

HIgh school friends Natalie and Haley

College Friend Biz

College Friend Biz

College Friends Elizabeth Kelly and Megan

College Friends Elizabeth Kelly and Megan

Former camper, slash one of my favorite people ever, Emma

Former camper, slash one of my favorite people ever, Emma

Since I have a strange obsession with all things nautical, especially anchors, Mo and my parents planned my party around that! Mo had people write me little notes wishing me well, and it was so nice to read them once everyone left. I love little sentimental things like that!

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My awesome anchor cake!

All in all, I had a great time seeing friends and family and am so grateful to all of them for coming!

A couple weeks later, the night of my last day of work, a couple of my work friends threw me a going away party. Emily and Stacey planned it and provided the food, and I had a blast hanging out with my coworkers one last time before I left. The party was at Terra Cotta Vineyards, a small vineyard with excellent wine and a stunning view. Terra Cotta was one of my favorite places to hang out with my coworkers, so it was only fitting that it was the venue for the gathering.

There was definitely no shortage of food:

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This party also had a cute little nautical theme to it, and all those fun nautical decorations are now part of my nautical-themed guest bedroom! Again, I had such a nice time sipping wine and spending time with my coworkers. I had such a great two years working with them and hope to visit soon!

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Britt’s Hilton Head Island Bachelorette Bash

As I’m attempting to catch up on all the events I missed blogging about, I knew I couldn’t pass up my dear friend Brittney’s bachelorette weekend on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina!

Brittney and I have gone to school together since first grade, and I am so excited to be part of her special day in September. Her family has always vacationed on Hilton Head, and in fact, the only time I had ever been to Hilton Head previously was with Britt and her family. Since we knew Hilton Head was one of her favorite places, we planned her bachelorette party there! It ended up being a small group, but we definitely had a blast!

Brittney flew into Charlotte on Thursday evening and met up with another bridesmaid, Rachel, and they drove to Hilton Head on Friday morning to meet up with me and Maggie, the maid of honor who drove up from Orlando. The four of us checked into our hotel and immediately had lunch (and a few drinks) at The Tiki Hut, a bar outside of our hotel, The Beach House. After a quick change into our suits, we spent some time out on the beach and by the pool before showering and getting ready for our first night out.

The Bachelorette!

The Bachelorette!

Our hotel was a short walk to Coligny Plaza, an area with lots of shops and restaurants. We had dinner outside at Angler’s, which served primarily seafood. It was my goal this weekend to try seafood with the hopes of learning to like it. That night I chose grilled salmon served with veggies and risotto. I still need to get used to the “fishy taste,” but it wasn’t bad at all!

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The restaurant we ate at shared a patio with several other restaurants, and there was a dj playing. While waiting for our food to come we joined a group of people in the Cupid Shuffle. It was a lot of fun and definitely not your standard dinner! We asked our server (who was the sweetest lady ever) to snap a picture of us before we went on our way!

Maggie, Britt, Me, and Rachel

Maggie, Britt, Me, and Rachel

Dare: Ask a bartender to make you his favorite drink

Dare: Ask a bartender to make you his favorite drink

Dare: Ask a guy to serenade you

Dare: Ask a guy to serenade you

Maggie and Me

Maggie and Me

Rach and Britt

Rach and Britt

Britt and Rach waving

Britt and Rach waving

Maggie and Me

Maggie and Me

The 2-man crew on our boat were a lot of fun. They really made the experience enjoyable for all of us, and eased the nerves of those of us that were unsure about it.

After parasailing we had lunch outside at the marina since the weather wasn’t exactly “beach friendly.” By the time we got back to our hotel and changed the weather had cleared up and we made our way to the beach. After several hours on the beach we got ready for another night out, but not before enjoying some champagne sent to our room by Tina, another bridesmaid who couldn’t make the trip. Thanks, Tina!

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With the Bride-to-Be!

With the Bride-to-Be!

After we got ready, we went out to the Tiki Hut for a hotel-wide party before walking back to Coligny Plaza for more seafood!

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This time we went to Steamers, where I learned how to crack open crab legs! Though I didn’t order crab legs for my meal, Brittney and Maggie did, and they were happy to let me try them as well as take a crack at them (ha! I crack myself up! Okay, I’m done now).  This time for my meal I chose the Voodoo Skillet which contained blackened shrimp, scallops, smoked sausage, green peppers, yellow onion, and red potatoes. It was delicious, and I wanted to eat every bite of it!

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After dinner we went back to the Frosty Frog to visit our favorite bartenders and to complete more dares. Again, we had a lot of fun hanging out, having some drinks, and laughing a lot!

Dare: Ask a guy to sing a Madonna song while you dance

Dare: Ask a guy to sing a Madonna song while you dance

At the end of the night we walked back to our hotel and fell asleep quickly. After spending the day on the beach, it was time for us to part ways and head back to our respective homes. I had an absolutely blast hanging out wit these girls and am looking forward to Britt’s wedding where we will be joined by the rest of the bridesmaids for more fun. September can’t come soon enough!