05-04-2016

6 Basic Yoga Poses For Beginners

I went to a yoga class with my friend yesterday. It was a last minute decision, and since we were so rushed to get to class, I didn’t really get to fully explain the class or anything (it was her first yoga class ever). Afterwards she said she would have enjoyed it more if she knew the poses and didn’t feel totally clueless as to what the yoga teacher was talking about – which is totally understandable…and which is what led me to this post.

I wanted to highlight some of the basic yoga poses that are done in almost every yoga class, so that if you’ve never been to a yoga class before, you sort of know what to expect. You can also do a few online yoga videos before going, in order to feel more comfortable. 

The yoga instructor was super nice, and let her know that everyone starts somewhere – which is true of many things in the fitness world. So often we are intimidated or scared to start something…whether it’s going to yoga, or joining a running club, or going to the gym. No one was an expert the first time they showed up to any of these things.

So anyway, here are 6 basic yoga poses for beginners :)

6 Basic Yoga Poses To Know Before Your First Yoga Class! | http://reach-yourpeak.com

Child’s Pose

I actually don’t really like this pose too much, but it’s a restorative pose, and one that we go into when we are taking a short break in between flows. You can go into child’s pose at any time during the class if you need a break. You can either do knees together or knees apart. I like to reach  my fingers out as far as possible, or you can rest your bands behind you by your feet.

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Low Push-up To Up Dog

Low push-up (or chaturanga) into up dog is part of almost every flow in a yoga class. If you’re not able to do a low push-up yet (like me) you can skip it and just go into downward facing dog, which I’ll talk about in a second. So here is low push-up:

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and from this pose you flow into upward facing dog:

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I have a really tough time with this flow because I can’t yet get low enough in low push-up, but I am working on it! Once you’re in upward dog, you will go right into downward facing dog usually, so I’ll talk about that next!

Downward Facing Dog

From up-dog, you curl your toes under and then basically stick your butt up into the sky. You want to maintain a flat back. If you need to bend your knees to keep your back flat, then do so. Your down-dog should look something like this, depending on your flexbility:

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If you need to modify it, it can look like this:

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This is also used as a break sometimes in between certain poses, or as the beginning of different flows (like downward dog into lunges, etc. which I’ll talk about in a second). Notice how their backs are flat and it is one straight line from their butt to the crown of their heads. That is key!

Warrior Poses

Warrior 1,2, and 3 are usually all done within a class. Definitely 1 and 2. So let’s go over them. Here’s Warrior 1, which is basically a lunge with your hands overhead:

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Basically, throughout any pose or sequence, you want to make sure your neck and spine are in a neutral position. You don’t want to be slouching or hunched over. I always like the cue “chest up, shoulders up.” Ok so moving on to Warrior 2…

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Something my yoga instructor has been saying a lot to me about this pose is to make sure your ribs don’t collapse. In this pose, many people tend to bend at the ribs, instead of getting deeper into the lunge. So as you lower down, keep your ribs and spine straight up. I didn’t even realize I wasn’t doing this until the instructor came over and straightened me out. Only bend at the knee – it is so challenging but such a great leg and glute exercise! And here’s the last one, Warrior 3:

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This woman makes it look easy! I have a lot of trouble in this pose (and any balancing pose haha). But definitely a great one, especially for runners. As always, spine and neck should be straight. Really engage your core and plant your foot down. If you fall out of it, no problem, just get back into it. In most classes I am always falling all over the place :-P

Triangle Pose

I’m not yet flexibile enough to do this pose without blocks – which is a good point to address: use blocks if you have to! There is no shame in that. They really help get you into certain poses. Most yoga studios provide them for you. If you’re unsure how to use them, you can as your instructor before class. For this specific pose, I put the block on the inside of my foot and place my hand on it for support, but those who are more flexible will be able to reach down to the floor. Always remember to hinge at the hip. My instructor says the first movement is, “reach out as if you’re going to shake someone’s hand” then keep reaching until you can’t reach anymore and THEN hinge at the hip and lower yourself down, keeping your spine straight. If it bends at all, then you need blocks. See how this woman’s torso is totally straight?

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Pigeon Pose

Ahhh, my favorite pose. I do this one after all of my runs. It’s a great hip opener and glute stretch. Let me show you a few different variations. So this is full on pigeon pose:

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You can also place your head on the floor, as long as your hips stay squared off (not leaning to one side). If this is too deep of a stretch for you, here are two modifications:

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Or you can lie on your back and do it this way:

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Pull your knee in and you will still feel just as much of a stretch. Build up to pigeon pose.

So hopefully outlining a few basic yoga poses will help you before you go to your first class! Don’t feel intimidated at all. Instructors are there to help you, align you and show you the right way to do each move. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask before or after class.

Oh and every yoga class ends with you laying on your back with your eyes closed and relaxing for a bit…so enjoy! :-)

What are your favorite yoga poses if you’re a yogi?

Have you ever gone to your first fitness class and felt clueless?

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04-21-2016

Fixing My Running Gait

I think I have finally figured out my shin splint issue. I posted about it last night on instagram, and I will just re-post what I wrote so I don’t have to write it all over again ;) Here’s the photo plus caption below:

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Caption:

After watching myself on video, I realized my running form seemed off. I did some research and discovered I have major crossover gait. Take a look at my right leg in the left photo. My feet crossover as I run which leads to me landing basically on a straight line. After reading on Runner’s Connect and watching videos on YouTube by The Gait Guys, I discovered that this is due to glute medius/hip weakness and core weakness. Which is not a surprise to me bc I rarely work on either of these things.

So today I practiced running “wider” and a few drills from the Gait Guys (which is the right photo where you can see a difference). And I need to do a lot of clamshells, glute medius strengthening and core work. My goal is to try to correct this as much as possible before NYC Marathon training starts in July.

Has anyone dealt with crossover gait before or have tips? Or have you tried adjusting your running form in the past? Any insight is much appreciated!

Here are the articles and videos I am referencing if you’re interested:

After watching videos of myself running, it makes sense. I  mean, obviously who knows if that is the main problem, but judging by that harsh angle in the photo above (left vs. “correcting” version on the right), I’m sure that contributes to my shin pain.

This all started after my yoga class last week where the instructor pointed out my hip weaknesses and issues. So I started digging deeper. The Gait Guys say that it takes about 12 weeks to fix running gait issues, so my goal is to really work on this before starting NYC Marathon training. 

I know I need to do more hip strengthening and core workouts. This has always been my weak link because I hate doing both of those haha. But I need to fix my shin issues. 

Has anyone experienced or fixed cross-over gait, or any other running form issue?

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04-18-2016

39 Energy Bites Recipes

Happy Monday! Who is ready to crush it this week?

Today I wanted to share a bunch of awesome energy bites recipes from my blogger friends at Bloggers Gonna Blog Community. I love making my own energy bites and protein balls/bars because I know exactly what’s going into them. I also have a crazy sweet tooth, so these are the perfect mid-day sweet treat without the added sugar and calories.

All of them sound so delicious, I don’t know which one I’ll make first.

Pictures match with the recipe linked below it. Enjoy!

39 energy bites recipes to try out the next time you need a healthy snack! | http://reach-yourpeak.com

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 Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Balls – A Fit Philosophy

Cake Batter Oatmeal Protein Bites – Fairy Burger

Cookies For Breakfast – Simple Medicine

Lemon Energy Balls – The Lean Grean Bean

No Bake Peanut Butter Nutella Energy Bites – Athletic Avocado

Coffee Cardamom Bliss Balls – Love Me, Feed Me

Brownie Batter Energy Bites – Gretch Runs

Cinnamon Bliss Balls – Fuel For Soul

Five Ingredient Raw Hazelnut Energy Balls – A Traveling Wife

Peanut Butter Trail Mix Bites – Little Chef, Big Appetite

Blueberry Chocolate 50 Calorie Breakfast Cookies – Hello Spoonful

Mint Chocolate Sunflower Bites – Strength & Sunshine

Peanut Butter Energy Balls – The Simplific Life

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 Gingerbread Protein Bites – Fitful Focus (featuring my favorite protein powder!)

Easy No Bake Berrilicious Vegan Protein Bars – Burpees 4 Breakfast

Superfood Peanut Butter Bites – Healthy Helper

Butterscotch, Chocolate & Oatmeal Protein Bars – Confessions Of a Mother Runner

Grainfree Chocolate Cookie Dough Bliss Balls – Rach Mansfield

Mint Chocolate Protein Bars – Fit Mitten Kitchen

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6-Ingredient No Bake Energy Balls – Pumpkin and Peanut Butter

Vanilla Cookie Protein Bites – Breathe Deeply & Smile

Chocolate Beet Bites – My Healthy-ish Life

Cashew Apricot Balls – Side of Sneakers

Plantbased Sunbutter Energy Balls – Evolution by Ariana

Hazelnut Espresso Balls – Ana Goes Fit

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Chocolate Covered Chickpea Protein Balls – Emilie Eats

Cinnamon Chickpea Crunch Protein Bars – Lets Get Up and Live

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Energy Balls – Lean, Clean, Brie

Healthy Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Balls – Sweet Sundays

Oatmeal Cookie Dough Bites – That Girl Shannon

Vanilla Cardamom Energy Bars – Chronicles of Passion

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Pumpkin Pie Energy Balls – Food, Pleasure and Health

Chocolate Trail Mix Power Balls – Young & Rungry

Honey & Nut No Bake Pumpkin Energy Balls – A Lady Goes West

Nourishing Nut & Seed Bars – Jill Conyers

Nut Free Coconut Date Energy Balls – Ex-Sloth

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Chewy Multigrain Chocolate Protein Bars – Dani California Cooks

No Bake Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Energy Bites – Hungry By Nature

Nutty PB & Dark Chocolate No Bake Bites – Balance with B

Wow…so many delicious options! I very rarely buy protein bars because I just can’t find one with minimal ingredients, which is why I like to make my own. Can’t wait to try these recipes!

Do you make your own energy balls or protein bars? What is your go-to recipe?

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04-15-2016

I Love Yoga

I had an amazing yoga class yesterday…and am so sore today.

So as I’ve written before, I’ve been really loving cycling classes lately. But yoga has been slowly growing on me too. Every time I go to a class, I end up leaving feeling good and on some sort of endorphin high. But for some reason it’s getting to the class that is hard. But after yesterday I plan on going more often for sure.

I got to class and it turns out it was just me and one other woman. The instructor said she would give us a workshop on “the basics” and do hands on adjustments throughout. 

She put us up against the wall and then we went through poses like Warrior I, Warrior II, Triangle Pose and more. We used the wall to align oursevles right, and the instructor gave me cues for things I had never even thought to do or engage. I am feeling it all today!

We ended with handstand practice. I’m no where near close to doing a handstand, but she showed me how to practice kicking up, how to engage my core and back, and other tips.

We used the wall to do revolved half moon pose but I just couldn’t get it. My foot kept sliding off the wall and then my standing leg hip started to cramp (why does this always happen to me??). The other lady did it perfectly haha. Here’s a photo of what it should have looked like:

revolved half moon posePhoto Source

I really, really enjoyed this class. I like that the classes offered at Ride + Reflect are strength based (along with offering more vinyasa flows and gentle yoga classes). I guess in the past I wasn’t going to yoga as much because I wanted to lift in order to gain muscle strength, but let me tell ya…yoga works your muscles. My glutes are on fire today.

So for you yogis and yoga teachers, I have a few questions and hopefully someone can help!

  • Why does my hip cramp up in the above pose and also crow pose? Is it because I need more hip flexor strength? My hips aren’t tight (the instructor and an athletic trainer told me this), so I’m not sure what the deal is. I legit can’t even get into crow pose because one of my hip flexors immediately will cramp up.
  • What are some cues you give to people for basic poses like the warrior poses? Something I need to remember is to keep my chest and ribs up.
  • Any tips for learning how to do handstand? Should I also be doing poses or exercises for my arms?
  • If someone has anterior pelvic tilt like I do, should we avoid poses where you bend backwards?

Thanks for your input!

How often do you take yoga classes? What do you think it has helped you with the most?

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04-04-2016

5 Things You Should Know Before Starting WeightWatchers

I just finished up month 2 of WeightWatchers and I love it! I have lost 7 lbs so far, and I’m pretty happy with that. Especially since I’ve had multiple weekends where I stopped counting points because I’ve been out with friends, etc. The main thing it has taught me is portion control. Turns out I was majorly overeating before. And the actual portion size of pasta still makes me sad…

I wanted to share with you all a few things about WeightWatchers, and hope it might be helpful if you’re considering joining or know someone who is. I love it and for some reason it has much easier for me (and holds me more accountable) than simply counting calories. I really can’t explain why but I think it’s so much easier this way, even though I realize it’s essentially the same thing.

The main thing I like is that you count your points and have a set number of points for each day, AND you get bonus weekly points so you can splurge a little on things you want. So anyway, here are 5 things you should know before starting WeightWatchers:

Here are 5 Things You Should Know Before Starting WeightWatchers | http://reach-yourpeak.com

You might be really hungry in the beginning

There is definitely an adjustment period, which can be said for any new nutrition plan you might start (IIFYM, Paleo, Whole30, counting calories, etc.). Especially if you have been overeating, like I was. I felt like I was always hungry, and still starving after my dinners. But that goes away in a week or so. Your stomach needs time to adjust. When you’re hungry, eat some fruit if you need to, which is 0 points. Nowadays, I find that I can stick with 3 meals and 1 snack before a workout, whereas in the past I would have a snack every 2 hours or so. Not that there is a problem with that, but if you’re trying to lose weight, it’s important to know what your total daily intake is, no matter what plan you’re on.

There’s a new points system

I did WeightWatchers in the past with their PointsPlus system and liked that, but now they’re using SmartPoints which is even better. When calculating points, it takes into account protein and sugar. So if something is high in protein, it will lower the points value (since we know chicken, fish, etc. are great sources of protein and should be encourage), and if something is high in sugar, it will really up the points value. I used to buy the WeightWatchers mini cakes and snacks (because I have a major sweet tooth) and loved that they were only 2 points for a little mini carrot cake. However, now those cakes are 4-5 points…so not worth it! There is more to this new point system I’m sure I’m leaving out, but I wasn’t an avid user in the past so I don’t know everything that has changed.

Activity points doesn’t mean you can eat more

This is another aspect of the new points system that a lot of people had opinions on. In the past, if you exercised, you were able to eat back those points. So if running was 5 activity points, I had 5 extra points daily to eat. Now, activity points don’t count towards food. WeightWatchers wrote on their FAQ page:

In a nutshell, no. Exercise doesn’t cancel out food choices, so moving shouldn’t be an excuse to eat more. If you don’t do any exercise at all, you can still lose weight on the Your Way Program. But doing both is of course optimal. Watching your FitPoints™ add up and hitting your weekly exercise goal can be great motivators and there are so many health benefits to gain from regular activity.  

However, if you’re doing high-intensity workouts (for example, training for a marathon or attending multiple spin classes) at least three to four times a week, you might want to swap some of your FitPoints™ for food to account for the amount of energy you’re expending. 

At first I was like, “But I exercise daily I need extra calories!” But like everything else, you adjust. Now if I will be exercising twice in one day and hour long sessions or more, I don’t feel guilty about eating extra, and that’s what those weekly bonus points are for anyway. I think what they say makes sense, and I know I’ve been guilty of thinking runing 45 minutes means I can eat extra…when in reality those 45 minutes only burn 300-400 extra calories. 

There’s a great support system

There are many online forums for WeightWatchers users, but the app itself has its own social media platform. It’s a great way to connect with like minded people and get any questions answered from other users. You can upload photos as well, and it’s almost liek a combination of Facebook and Instagram. The WeightWatchers website has a lot of resources and recipes to help get you started. And of course, you can find a myriad of recipes on Pinterest! Oh also, the app gives a lot of values for popular restaurants. You might be shocked to know how many points some of your favorite entrees have. I was when I found out French Onion Soup is around 20 or so (insert crying emoji).

It’s flexible and non-restrictive 

I think this is my favorite part of it. I can’t believe that even with weekends of drinking and eating whatever, I’ve still lost 7 lbs. in 2 months. I mean, I’m also exercising but I haven’t been able to lose weight in  years and have just been stagnant. Since you get weekly bonus points (around 28) it really allows you be flexible and still indulge. I usually try to save almost all of those for weekends when I know I will be going out with friends. Or you can also have extra points daily if you want to have that sweet treat after dinner or a glass of wine :) According to WeightWatchers, even if you use all of your weekly bonus points, you should still lose weight.

So that’s that! I will continue to use WeightWatchers until I hit my goal…another 10-12 lbs. to go! It has taught me good portion control and even when I’m out and not tracking, I still know how much I should be eating and about how many points everything has. 

What do you think about not counting activity points towards extra calories/food points?

Do you find you eat more when you workout and justify with “Well, I worked out today sooo….” :)

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03-21-2016

5 Yoga Tips For Beginners

Happy Monday! I know I haven’t been writing as often but things have been pretty hectic. But I will be trying to write more regularly this week.

Today I wanted to talk about yoga. Last week I went to yoga classes and I really want to try to keep going more often. I always prefer running or spinning to yoga but after I leave a yoga class I’m always thinking, “wow I really need to go more.”

I did have strength class last week with my sister and really loved it….and even learned how to do a variation of compass pose! I really didn’t think I was going to be able to do that at all.

My sister was kind of nervous to go to this class because she’s only done one or two yoga classes before. And that’s why I wanted to write this post. I wanted to give some insight to fellow newbie yogi’s since I am one as well. So here are a few tips and insight before you go to your first or one of your first few classes.

Just starting yoga? Here are 5 yoga tips for beginners! | http://reach-yourpeak.com

Don’t Be Intimidated

It can be scary to go to a class thinking that you’ll be the only one who can’t do certain things or that you’ll be surrounded by super flexible people. And while you might be surrounded by super flexible people (like I am in my class) it’s totally OK. Yoga classes are so open and accepting and that’s why I really love them. No matter what your ability is, the instructor will help you and talk you through poses. My instructor was very hands-on and adjusting my feet making sure they were the right width apart along with showing me how to properly do exercises so I don’t get hurt. She also spoke with my sister and I after class about how to do certain things to aid our neck pain and wrist pain. Your yoga instructors should make you feel comfortable and excited to continue learning and practicing.

Be Ready To Sweat

While yoga might seem like this relaxing meditative thing (and obviously some classes can be), you should also be ready to sweat. We went through a flow in my strength yoga class that had me dripping in sweat all within just a few minutes. Make sure you bring water to your class along with a towel if you sweat a lot like I do. An extra towel on your yoga mat can also help with hand grip if your hands start sliding.

You Might Get Gassy

This might be a little TMI but gotta throw it out there. I asked Christine of Love, Live, Surf about this (she is a yoga instructor) and she assured me it’s totally normal. In yoga classes, since you’re doing a lot of twisting and inversions, you might start feeling a little bit gassy. And obviously that can be embarrassing. I really don’t have a solution to this but just know that it’s a possibility haha. Christine said that instructors really don’t think anything of it and my thorough Google searches confirms that. But obviously that doesn’t make it any less embarrassing!

Use Props

Props are there for a reason such as blocks blankets and straps. Don’t be afraid to use them. Those aren’t just for the more experienced yogi’s. Those props can help you get into poses and in better alignment during poses. For example, I still can’t do triangle pose, so I use a block so I’m able to get to where I can as opposed to forcing my body to stretch beyond its abilities.

You Can Always Go To Child’s Pose

Whenever you feel like you need a break or you’re not comfortable with a pose you can always go into child’s pose. Instructors encourage that and should remind you of that throughout the practice. I really love this because if I can’t do something or I’m just feeling tired, I will go into child’s pose for a few seconds to catch  my breath. Child’s pose is such a great restorative pose and something you should add to your regular routine as it is! I love doing it after runs.

I really do want to go to yoga classes more often and I need to make that commitment. I even ordered myself a Jade Yoga Mat! It’s a bit pricier than any yoga mat I have had but I love how grippy and cushioned it is.

So now I just need to actually make it to classes! My goal is 2 times a week. It’s just so hard balancing running, cycling, yoga and strength training. But I also know that if I am able to do all of these things now it will make me much stronger for when marathon training starts in July.

How do you balance multiple types of exercises during your half marathon or marathon training? Share your schedule with me please so I can get some ideas!

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03-11-2016

A Day In The Life

I’ve seen bloggers write and show photos about their daily routine so I figured I’d write one up (not that my days are super exciting lol).

I’ve been meaning to for a while and always forget to actually take photos throughout the day. So today I’m going to recap what I did yesterday…which is a pretty typical Tuesday or Thursday for me (cycle in the AM, run in the PM). Okay here we go:

6:45 AM - Begrudgingly roll out of bed to get ready to head to cycling class at Ride + Reflect. I am NOT a morning person and it is always a challenge waking up early. Yes, this is super early for me :) But I always feel awesome after the class and never regret it.

7:35 AM - Arrive at Ride + Reflect for a 7:45 am start time.

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7:45 – 8:30 AM - POWER Ride class. This is my favorite class that Ride + Reflect offers. It’s a power/watts based class and it kicks my butt every time. I wrote more about it here and how you can use power based cycling as cross-training and to build strength. Also, today in class I reached my goal of 20 miles!!! I’ve been working on hitting 20 miles since January (when I started). I started off cycling 15-16 miles in a 45 minutes class. Pretty pumped!

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8:35 – 8:40 AM - Take the quickest shower ever because I have to get to work. Anyone have tips for this?? I just legit throw shampoo and conditioner on my hair at the same time, soap up, rinse and get out.

9:00 AM - Get to the community college I work at and do my makeup at my desk because I don’t have time to do it beforehand. I’m usually the first one in so I try to do it as quickly as possible so no one sees my makeup-less face lol :-P Is your makup bag a mess too or just me?

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9:05 AM - Plan out my day in my planner (I am obsessed with planner stickers for the Erin Condren Life Planner). I don’t know why but having the stickers there and making it look all nice and pretty keeps me more organized. Dan and my sister make fun of me for it becuase he’s like, really? stickers? lol but I like the way they look.

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 12:00 PM - Lunchtime.

1:00 PM - Leave work and go somewhere else to work on my own business stuff. Usually Starbucks. I can never get anything done in my own apartment. I also like going to the local library. Nice and quite AND free coffee!

3:00 PM - Drive over to my parents house to get ready to run with my mom. This particulary day we didn’t end up running because something came up. But usually by 4 PM we are out the door for our afternoon/evening run. Here’s a picture of the area and the park where we run (along with my XC team) sometimes. 

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4:30 PM - Leave home to drive back to my apartment. I debated on running alone in my hometown and then driving back, but wanted to beat the traffic. Decide to go get a manicure first and then figure out if I will run or not.

5:15 PM - Manicure time! The place I go to has this polish that lasts 1 week (and it’s only $2 more). I love it. I used to get Shellac (which lasts 3 weeks) but it was always such a pain to get off. 

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 6:30 PM - Decide to run after all. I really, REALLY didn’t want to because I was so tired…and told myself, “hey I already did spin this morning soooo….” But since I knew I wouldn’t be running today (Friday) or Saturday, I sucked it up and did 3 miles. I ended up feeling great and doing a really good fartlek workout of 2:20 min faster and 40 sec. recovery.

7:00 PM - Get Chipotle with Dan (and save half for lunch the next day) and some froyo. I have a lot of extra weightwatchers points this week and figured why not treat myself :) Eat it while we watch House on Netflix (which we have probably seen all the way through 3 times now).

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 8:00-10:30 PM - Chillax

11:00 PM - Bed time.

That’s a pretty typical day for me. And today….TGIF! Dan and I will be heading down to Philly to the Sixers game tonight. Should be a fun time. And tomorrow = St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in a local town, so my sister and I will be doing some day drinking ;) So glad it will be a beautiful day because last year was rainy and cold.

What are your plans for the weekend?

What time do you normally eat dinner? We eat anywhere from 7-8 pm which Dan says is late but for me, any earlier and I will be hungry by 9 pm!

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03-07-2016

35 Quick and Easy Dinner Recipes!

I’m back! I took a bit of a blogging break last week because I was swamped. I’m doing a lot of new projects related to my business and now need to blog here and over on my new-ish marketing blog :) Check it out for social media and marketing tips!

I also started round 2 of my 5 Day Fit Challenge which starts today, so it’s been a busy past week. But I want to get back into the swing of things! So today I’m going to be talking about quick and easy dinner recipes.

I don’t know about you, but I come home in the evenings and always want to make something in 30 minutes or less. Sometimes I will find a delicious looking recipe online, but it calls for 50 different ingredients. I’ll never end up making it haha. I’m all about simple and quick.

Which is why I am sharing 35 dinner recipes from my fellow blogging friends today! They have amazing recipe ideas (and photography skills) and I can’t wait to try these. The burrito bowl stuffed peppers will definitely hit the spot on those nights I’m craving Chipotle ;)

Alright let’s jump into it! (Photos shown go with the link directly below the photo)

35 Quick and Easy Dinner Recipes - Perfect for busy nights! | http://reach-yourpeak.com

Weeknight Chicken Curry – Food, Pleasure & Health

One Pan Baked Tilapia and Roasted Veggies – Simple Fit Foodie

15 Minute Garlic Herb Spaghetti – The Refreshanista

15 Minute Burst Tomato Pasta – Pumpkin & Peanut Butter

Creamy Avocado Zucchini Ribbons – Pumpkin & Peanut Butter

Tuna Thai Red Curry – Strength & Sunshine

Tofu Scramble – Masala Girl Travels

 Grain-Free Ground Turkey Stuffed Peppers – Simple Fit Foodie

Meatless Meatball Soup – That Girl Shannon

Black Eyed Pea Curry w/ Swiss Chard & Roasted Eggplant – Strength & Sunshine

Pasta w/ Kale & Tomatoes (One Pot) – Masala Girl Travels

Roasted Broccoli Quinoa Salad w/ Honey Mustard Dressing – Fooduzzi

Burrito Bowl Stuffed Peppers – Athletic Avocado

Hummus Kale Toast – Fooduzzi

Farro Mushroom Risotto – Simple Medicine

Tortellini Pasta Salad – That Girl Shannon

Simple Vegetarian Pasta w/ Shakshuka – Rachel Mansfield

Lemon Pistacchio Salmon – The Simple Life

Supergreens Macro Bowl – Rachel Mansfield

Healthy Chicken & Cashews – Fitful Focus

Greek Polenta – A Cup Of Kellen

Pomegranate Avocado Lentil Salad – Kerri’s Kitchen

Copycat Panera Bread Sierra Turkey Sandwich – Healthy Helper

BBQ Stuffed Sweet Potato – Fitful Focus

Spicy Veggie Rice Noodle Stir Fry – Kerri’s Kitchen

Simple Whole Roasted Chicken – The Blissful Balance

Roasted Chicken & Veggies – Young & Rungry

Ramen Noodles w/ Creamy Peanut Sauce – The Blissful Balance

Garlic Sesame Sweet Potato Noodles – Seek Satiation

Cauliflower Sloppy Joes – Healthy Helper

Quick & Easy Spring Veggie Bowl – Jill Conyers

Microwaveable Lemon & Parmesan Zucchini Noodles – The College Dish

One Pot Minestrone Soup – The College Dish

Copycat Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps – Hello To Fit

Fresh Floral Tomato & Avocado Salad – Jill Conyers

I’m hungry now. Doesn’t help that I am typing this up before lunch time. 

Will you be trying any of these recipes soon?

What’s your go-to recipe for a quick dinner?

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02-23-2016

My Mom Is My Amy Cragg

Those of you who watched the US Olympic Marathon Trials will “get” this post, and if you didn’t watch it/aren’t familiar with professional marathon running, the basics are this: Shalane Flanagan and Amy Cragg are training partners, teammates, and really helped each other during a tough race.

As I was watching the race unfold, I watched Shalane and Amy run together basically the entire race.

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In the last few miles, it was very apparent that Shalane was struggling, and Amy stayed with her, talking to her and clearly trying to give her a pep talk. It was definitely reminiscent of my tough times during my first NYC Marathon in 2011 and Chicaggo Marathon (where it was super hot).

In the last mile or so, Amy left Shalane because she saw the third place (at the time) runner closing in. She waited for Shalane at the finish line, and ended up catching her and she fell in total exhaustion. Here’s a pic:

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After the race, Shalane credited Amy for getting her through and to the finish line. Sometimes I really can’t believe the  mental strength these pros have. To continue running through dehydration and getting dizzy…that takes guts.

Anyway, as I was watching all of this, I couldn’t help but be grateful that my mom trains with me and runs most every step with me as well. She is my Amy Cragg. In races, when I’m bonking, she will give me pep talks and tell me to keep going and be strong.

Chicago Marathon was my worst race thus far. Yet, my mom stayed with my throughout, even though she felt fine, and helped me mentally get through it. It also pushed me harder because I didn’t want to slow her down too much. I know if I was alone, I would have probably just walked the last few miles and totally given up.

People have asked me (and her), “Why doesn’t she just go ahead and run her own race?” Trust me, I’ve told her to do that too. I always feel bad when I hold her back, but she doesn’t care. She says she wants to run with me and cross the finish with me, and that it wouldn’t feel the same to her if she crossed alone. Well, this is true for half marathons and marathons…shorter races = every (wo)man for herself :-P

I have even told her to go for a BQ time (she needs 4:00) but she said she would not want to run the Boston Marathon unless we both were there together.

I really am so grateful to have my mom running with me, and it makes for amazing experiences and memories.

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Our first half marathon!

So I am now feeling more motivated than ever to make the 2016 NYC Marathon a great one. I want to feel strong and PR. It’s in November, which feels forever away, but I’m sure time will fly and we will be in the midst of marathon training before we know it.

Runners: do you have any tips on things to do NOW before marathon training starts in July? We are currently about to start a 5K training plan to try to get faster.

Do you have a running/training partner? How do they help and push you?

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02-16-2016

A Blogger’s Guide To Working With Brands

We’re going to veer off the fitness topics today and talk about blogging and working with brands. If you’re not a blogger, I apologize for the long post! But come back this week for your “regularly scheduled programming.” :)

As you may or may not know, I am a social media consultant, and work with brands in helping them create social media campaigns and connect with bloggers in their niche. I obviously do more than that but the details would bore you haha.

So that is what led me to this post. On a daily basis, I’m perusing groups for links to share on client pages, communicating with bloggers, and setting up campaigns. In my communcations and interactions with bloggers, I’ve learned a few things that might help YOU as a blogger, and has helped me in how I work on my own blog.

The Blogger's Guide To Working With Brands | http://reach-yourpeak.com

Here are a few tips…and some tough love ;)

Set up your “tweet this” button properly

When I’m creating content calendars for clients, and searching for content, I can’t tell you how annoyed I get when I click a “tweet this” button so I can quickly grab a link from a blog post, and the twitter handle is @sharethis or some other generic handle. I then have to search the page for the blogger’s Twitter handle. This is probably my biggest pet peeve. I know other bloggers who have said, “if they don’t have their handle, I won’t share it because I don’t have time to search for their handle.” I do usually just search for the handle, especially if it’s a great piece of content, but it is an extra step. I know it sounds stupid and like, come on Patty just click on the Twitter logo and get their handle…but I know many other bloggers who share this sentiment! Make sure to add your handle to your “click to tweet” buttons.

Get the brand name right

This one seriously boggles my mind. A brand pays a blogger for a sponsored post, yet the brand name is written incorrectly? I know we all make mistakes but please review your post and make sure all brand names and links are correct. Not only am I the only one who has to hear it from the brand, it makes it less likely the brand will work with you again in the future, no matter how good your content or photos are. Double check everything.

Don’t be afraid to ask for compensation

Look, I’m going to be real here. Most brands will not email you and straight up say, “We’ll pay you XYZ.” We want to hear from you first, and see what your media kit and pricing packages look like. I know a lot of bloggers get annoyed when brands send them emails asking for a sponsored post but don’t include info about compensation. Brands want to get in touch with you first, see what you have to say/hear your ideas, review your  media kit, and then make a decision. So next time you get a generic email, just reply and ask if there is a budget for it. We (the brand) won’t be offended, and honestly expect that question. Whether or not it is in our budget is another thing, we (at least my clients) are willing to negotiate and see what we can do to make a partnership happen.

Go above and beyond

Now I’m not saying include all these extras for a lower rate, but when bloggers will continually tweet/pin/share links to our sponsored posts, even months after, that is noticed. When bloggers create detailed content with great images (especially pinnable images), it is noticed. Try to include as much info about the brand or product as possible, not just “check out XYZ, you can order it on their website here.” Make sure you’re telling a story in your post for your readers. Brands will  be looking at how much engagement your post gets (comments, social shares, etc.). These little things will make it much more likely the brand will want to work with you again. Some of my clients work with bloggers month after month because they like their stuff so much. 

That’s all I can think of now, but my number one take away for you is INCLUDE YOUR TWITTER HANDLE. lol. No seriously, my number one tip is to just create awesome content for brands, and trust me, they will want you to work with them regularly. Or perhaps even set up a contract for 6 months, a year, etc.

If you’re a health and fitness blogger, I actually created a Facebook group where you can share any content you want shared by me and my clients. I go through various groups on a daily basis, but figured this would be easier, especially for those who want their content shared. Join the group HERE.

What tips would you add? 

Do you have a blogging pet peeve? :)

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