WIAW: Strike Edition!

Happy Wednesday! I can’t believe we’re halfway through this week already. For some reason this week is just flying by (which is A-OK with me! Bring on the weekend!)

Captain Insomnia has struck again, and I just can’t seem to get any sleep lately! I’ve even tried to start taking melatonin, which helps me fall asleep for about an hour. Then I’m awake again, and up all night! Grrr!

It’s times like these that this no-caffeine thing seems like a bad life decision…

Anyway, let’s focus on the positive, shall we? Which obviously means food! Because it’s WIAW, of course!

For anyone not familiar with WIAW, please head over to Jenn’s blog to get a great description of what WIAW is all about, and to see what other awesome bloggers have been eating!

Breakfast

oatmeal breakfast

Same old, same old (but I finally got a new picture of it!) – plain oats topped with frozen mixed berries, peanut butter, a touch of natural strawberry jam, cinnamon and ground flax seed. Never gets old!

Side note – it looks much prettier before I mix it up into one giant pink-brown clump! haha.

Snack

almonds snack

Unfortunately I still had a grumbly tummy by about 10am, so I snacked on a few handfuls of almonds. I had this x2!

Lunch

salad lunch

I’m still on a total salad kick! Normally I need a salad break after awhile, but for whatever reason I haven’t gotten sick of it yet, so I’m just riding this train as long as I can. Can’t complain about all the yummy veggies!

Snack #2

snack chobani

For some reason I’ve really been craving greek yogurt lately, so I picked up some of the Chobani 100 at the store this week, and topped it with some homemade granola.

Dinner

Buffalo chicken pizza

We ended up meeting up with a bunch of our friends from bible study for Tuesday night bowling. Our bowling alley is pretty fancy and has quite the extensive menu (not your usual gross bowling alley food!), but unfortunately are a little limited on their healthy options. But I figured, what the heck? It’s ok to indulge every once and awhile, as long as you balance it out! So Chris and I split this buffalo chicken pizza and it was totally worth it.

To our credit, we did ask for it on whole wheat crust, and traded out the typical fried chicken on top for grilled chicken strips. We also tried to ask for spinach or something on top, but they were all out. Oh well, at least I got in my greens at lunch!

Splitsville Fredericksburg

Workout

I didn’t get in a real workout, because I was too busy hanging out with these lovely people! Although boy is my right arm feeling it after several rounds of bowling!

So tell me: What did you eat today? Are you a good bowler? I’m absolutely terrible!

5 Summer Workout Safety Tips

 Now that we’re in the heart of summer, we’re getting to that point where nearly every day is topping the temperature charts and it’s getting a little painful to go outside. I’m not sure what the weather is like where you are, but here in Virginia the only thing that seems to break up the 90+ degree days is the occasional intense thunderstorm.

Not exactly ideal running or outdoor workout weather. 

But the reality is, most of us will go out in it anyway. Rain, shine, humidity be damned, we’re still getting our workout in! 

And that’s all fine and dandy, as long as you’re making a point to be safe. Working out outside in the summer might seem harmless, but the reality is that it poses a lot of dangers that we “dedicated fitness people” aren’t always so good at paying attention to!

So whether you’re an avid outdoor runner or are new  to working out in the summer, I thought I’d give you a few important tips to remember to keep yourself safe while getting your sweat on this summer!

summer safety

 1. Always bring your cell phone

I know, I know, carrying a cell phone while running can be a pain in the butt. Believe me, I feel your pain. Especially considering that cell phones are gigantic now, they aren’t exactly convenient to hold or tuck away (hello giant Samsung Galaxy S4!) But it is seriously important, especially in the summer, to make sure that you have one on you.

The reality is, you never know what the weather might bring. 100+ degree temps, flash thunderstorms, lightning storms… you never want to get caught unaware in bad weather with no one who can come pick you up. Similarly, heaven forbid you start to feel sick or light headed in the middle of a long run. The last thing you want to do is to have to make the long trek home when you’re already at risk.

So take a cell phone, and call a loved one if you need help. And if you’re one of those people who is convinced that it’ll never be you, take it with you in case you see another runner in need! 

2.  Wear sweat-wicking workout clothes

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I am notoriously bad about this one, because I despise doing laundry. However I can absolutely tell the difference when I’m wearing an old college tshirt versus an actual workout top. As minute as it seems, it really is important during the summer to choose workout clothes that can breathe and wick sweat away from your body.

Why? Because while fabrics like cotton soak up sweat (which is your body’s way of trying to cool itself down), they tend to keep the moisture trapped in the fabric. This can not only make it difficult for your body to properly cool itself, which is super important in the hot summer, but it can also lead to chafing and general discomfort. And nobody has time for that. 

So suck it up and spend a few extra bucks on some athletic apparel to wear on your outside workouts. Your body will thank you later!

3. Make sure you properly hydrate

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It’s pretty much ingrained in us to make sure that we’re drinking water while we’re working out or take it with us on a long run, but what is just as important (and is often forgotten) is to make sure you’re properly hydrating all day long! If you go into a long run dehydrated, it’s not going to be long before you start feeling the effects, and things are just going to go down hill from there.

So if you know that you have a workout scheduled, make sure that you are getting in plenty of water throughout the day to set yourself up for success (and safety!)

If you’re not a water drinker, I highly encourage you to try adding some fruits or flavors into your water to make it taste a little less boring. Oranges, cucumbers and lemons are some of my favorites, but you really could add just about any fruit. Or there are plenty of flavorings out there now, just try to pay attention to the ingredient list – most are full of chemicals and fake sugars. I’m personally a big fan of the True Lemon brand! (<– affiliate link, FYI)

4. Always let someone know where you are

This should be important when you’re training all year round, but it’s especially important in the summer months. I know that it feels silly, but it is vital that you let someone know where you are going (i.e. your general planned route or neighborhood) and an estimate when you think you’ll be back. That way you’ve got someone that can come look for you, or call for help, if heaven forbid something happens.

If you don’t have anyone that lives with or near you, you can still call a family member or friend and let them know. Any awareness is better than no awareness! And that way they can check in with you (on your cell phone, which you should be carrying, HA!) to make sure that you’re ok.

You also might want to consider switching up your route during the summer, especially if you’re a trail runner. I know it’s not nearly as fun, but if something DOES happen to you, you’re much more likely to be seen out in a neighborhood or park than on a scarcely populated trail.

5. Don’t forget to refuel & rehydrate!

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Just as important as hydrating before a run, is making sure that you refuel and rehydrate after your run is over. Especially if you’ve just finished a long run or a hard workout, you want to make sure that you’re putting some electrolytes back into your body! I know that there are a ton of “post-workout” drinks out there on the market, but the reality is that a lot of the cheap, big name brands that you find at the convenience store are really full of crap or are pretty much just sugar water (not to call anyone out… but it rhymes with “raterade”).

I’m personally a huge fan of the Ignite Naturals INRefresh brand. I love that there ingredient list is not full of chemicals, it’s non-GMO and 100% plant based, AND it’s gluten-free and vegan for all of my friends out there who are looking for those products. 

But whatever brand you choose, just make sure that you’re replenishing your body after your workout, otherwise you’re body is going to let you know really quickly that it’s struggling!

(Ignite Naturals didn’t ask me at all for this review – I just really love their products and I think you would to! So I got a nice little 10% off coupon for anyone who is interested in trying them out (dragonfruit lemon-lime is my personal favorite). Just enter IN00374 at checkout!)

 

So there you have it – 5 tips to make sure that you’re staying safe during your summer workouts! But most importantly, make sure that you’re listening to your body! Heat and humidity depletes the body much faster than we’re used to, so while you might be tempted to push through the discomfort, just be aware that you’re body can quickly go from uncomfortable to dangerous!

So tell me: What are your tips for working out in the summer? What do you carry with you on long runs/bike rides to make sure you’re staying safe?

The Perfect Low Key Summer Weekend

Coming at you a little late this morning! Unfortunately I have been dealing with a severe bout of insomnia lately, and was up ALL last night tossing and turning. Not exactly the ideal way to start a new week!

So I decided to take a sick day and attempt to get some more sleep… although that mostly just ended up with me laying around in bed until 10am. Bummer. I’m sure it’ll catch up with my by this afternoon though, so a solid nap might be in order!

Even though this week isn’t starting off well, this past weekend ended up being the perfect low key summer weekend. I seriously couldn’t have asked for anything more! It was both relaxing and productive, and I got to spend a ton of time soaking up the beautiful sunshine. I wish every summer weekend could end up like this!

Friday

Chris and I actually both ended up getting out of work early on Friday, which was perfect because we hadplans to take Wild to the vet to get checked out. But not before we met up for lunch first at our favorite sushi restaurant in Old Town Fredericksburg, Umi!

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Wild did really well at the vet, but it was definitely a 2 person job. The poor thing was so petrified, that she literally shook and cowered through the entire appointment. Thankfully her health looked pretty good, minus some exposure to Lyme Disease. We’re still trying to figure out whether we’re going to keep her or not, but at least we know that she is in good health (and now has her rabies shot!)

How precious are these two together? They don’t really play together yet (Wild is still scared of Laney), but they do like hanging out together!

Carolina Dogs

Chris had his softball championships Friday night, while I had to hold down the fort at home for our usual Friday night bible study, so by the time he got home at 11:30pm, I literally was passed out. #oldladystatus

Saturday

I had grand intentions of getting up early on Saturday to get some stuff down around the house. Ummm, yea. That didn’t happen. I manage to sleep through both of my alarms, and woke up at 10:30am! Whoops! Obviously my body needed the sleep!

Since it was so late, I decided to throw together a brunch meal that would get me through to the afternoon, and ended up with this egg sandwich. It was just 2 fried eggs, 1 slice of colby jack cheese and sriracha on toasted whole wheat bread, but boy did it hit the spot! Paired with decaf coffee, of course!

Breakfast egg sandwich

After showering and getting a few things done around the house, I braved the Saturday morning traffic and headed down to Richmond for the VA Bloggers Meet up at Blue Bee Cider (you might remember the first time Chris and I went!)

There were probably another 10ish bloggers there, so we spent some time hanging out and trying a bunch of the ciders before we headed on a tour of the facility.

Blue Bee Cider VA Bloggers MeetupBlue Bee Cider VA Bloggers Meetup

The Hopsap Shandy was my favorite, and I ended up buying a bottle to take home! It’ll be perfect for a summer afternoon BBQ!

Blue Bee Cider VA Bloggers Meetup

It’s amazing to see how much Blue Bee has grown since we were there in March. The owner said they experienced 100% growth in the first year. That’s just insane!

Blue Bee Cider VA Bloggers Meetup

I also got to hang out with the lovely Samantha from Designer in Teal again. She’s a fellow Hokie too, so we obviously became fast friends!

Blue Bee Cider VA Bloggers Meetup

By the time I got home after running a few errands (Hello giant Target trip!), I had to throw together a quick dinner before Chris headed out to a Bachelor party. I have been eyeing the salmon burgers that Julie makes, and thought this would be the perfect time to try them out. Thankfully, they did not disappoint!

Salmon Burger

Since they had a slight Italian feel with the mozzarella cheese, I decided to top mine with some leftover bruschetta. Best decision ever! These burgers was so delicious, and seriously tasted like Italian crab cakes. I highly recommend this recipe if you’re a seafood fan!

Salmon Burger

Once Chris left for his bachelor party, I decided to get a workout in and headed out on a run (with my new Pro Compression socks!) Sadly I apparently did not give myself enough time to digest, and ended up with a terrible side stitch after about a mile. So I headed back home and did some strength training instead.

ProCompression socks

Sunday

Sunday was all about productivity around our house. We were up early for church, and went straight from there to run some errands. (Side note – we also stopped at Panera for lunch and I got one of the new flatbread sandwiches. AMAZING!!!!)

After running home to quickly change into gym clothes, I also hit up the gym and did 30 minutes of elliptical intervals and 25 minutes of biceps & triceps. I’m trying to get into a better strength training routine so I can make sure to hit all of my muscles groups, as I have a horrible tendency to skip my least favorite muscle groups (arms). So I need to work on that…

I also spent some time cleaning the house, including FINALLY going through all of my FitBloggin swag. I have been picking snacks out of the bags for the last few weeks, so this is sans some of the Chia and Quest bars, but you get the idea. SO. MUCH. STUFF!

FitBloggin 2014 swag

In the late afternoon, Lindsay and her husband came over for the evening. Chris and Charlie have started brewing beer together, so they hung out downstairs and started work on their second batch, while Lindsay and I hung out on the deck drinking wine and snacking on goat cheese.

Eventually we got around to making dinner, and Chris grilled up some chicken for us, which we paired with grilled veggies and roasted rosemary potatoes. Pretty much the perfect ending to a lazy Sunday!

 

Even though this week has not gotten off to the best start, I’m hoping that things will turn around. It’s hard to believe that we’re more than halfway through the summer, so I better soak it all up while I can!

So tell me: What did you do this weekend?

Five Favorites Friday: Getting Weird and Wild!

Thank goodness it is Friday! Phew! This has been one crazy week, and I for one am totally happy to say “good riddance!” Bring on the weekend!

Even though I have a bunch of plans coming together for this weekend already, most of all I’m just excited to have the chance to relax a little bit! This week has been all go-go-go, so I could use a break. I feel like I’ve been saying that a lot this summer already… Isn’t summer supposed to be for relaxing?

FFFold

But it’s nearly the weekend, which means that it’s time for Five Favorites Friday! Today I’m talking about 5 completely random things that I’ve been loving this week. This week seems to be even more random than usual, if that’s even possible! 

I’m also linking up with Clare for Five on Friday and Kate for Friday Favorites!

Favorite Current Scent: Black Cherry Merlot

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I know that this might seem like a  random thing to include in a favorites post, but seriously guys – I’m obsessed. This black cherry merlot soap from Bath and Body Works may have officially become my favorite B&BW scent EVER. I don’t know what it is about it, but it’s just perfect in every way! Go smell this. Immediately.

I need to repurchase this scent in every form possible. 

Favorite New Entertainment: Weird Al’s “Word Crimes”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Gv0H-vPoDc

If you have not seen this video yet, you need to go check it out immediately. I used to love Weird Al growing up (I mean, who doesn’t love song parodies?), but he’s pretty much disappeared for the last 10-15 years. He seems to have resurfaced recently though, and has put out 3 new and totally hilarious songs: Word Crimes (to Blurred Lines), Tacky (to Happy) and Foil (to Royals). 

Go check them out immediately. Any song that talks about proper grammar is A-OK in my book!

Favorite New Snack: Banana Nut Chia Bar

Health warrior chia bar

Ever since I met the Health Warrior team at FitBloggin, I’ve become a little bit a lot obsessed with these chia bars, especially the banana nut flavor. I mean, you all know how much I love bananas, and this bar is just full of banana-y (yes that’s a word) goodness.

I’ve also found out that my local Wegmans just started selling these, so you should definitely check it out. Plus they are a local Richmond, VA company (represent!), so it’s even better!

Favorite Salad Combo: Bruchetta Chicken

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 Our garden has pretty much had a tomato explosion over the last few weeks, and I feel like I’m up to my eyeballs in cherry and roma tomatoes. So when my office had a potluck earlier this week, I decided to whip up some quick bruchetta to bring in. Well, I clearly overestimated and ended up making about twice as much as needed, which means that I have bruchetta for days. 

I decided to get creative with it, and tossed it over some romaine, paired with some grilled chicken and mozzarella balls. Holy cow, guys, this is amazing! It’s so fresh and summery, but SO flavorful at the same time! No dressing needed. 

Favorite Way to Stay Busy: Working with our new pup!

Carolina Dog

While we haven’t officially decided whether we’re going to keep Wild yet, it’s been a lot of fun getting the chance to work with her. She is basically a wild dog, so she’s really, REALLY shy around people and we’ve had to work just to get her to trust us without cowering (or submissively flipping over on her back, for all you dog people out there). Thankfully she does love to have her ears rubbed, as long as you’re moving slow.

Even if we don’t decide to keep her, it has definitely been fun to work with her. Chris and I have definitely been enjoying the challenge, even if she unexpectedly went into heat and freaked the both of us out! 

Carolina Dog

 

 

Well I hope you all have a terrific weekend! We just have to make it through one more work day… 

So tell me: What are you loving this week? Do you have a favorite scent?

 

 

My Writing Process

So I wanted to talk about something a little different today: Blog writing!

There is currently a “blog tour” going around the healthy living blog world where bloggers get the chance to talk a little bit about their writing process, how they come up with blog posts, and why they do what they do. After reading a couple of them, I found it really interesting to see some of the similarities and differences between my own blog writing style and that of other bloggers!

So when Leslie from Life Begins at 30 invited me to participate, I jumped at the chance to join in. I hope you guys find these as interesting to read as I do!

1. What am I working on?

 I always have a million ideas going on, so I tend to write them down in my handly little notebook that I keep in my purse. That way when I’m sitting at my computer wondering what to write, I can pull it out and get some inspiration!Especially after FitBloggin, I feel like I have so many ideas of things that I want to talk to you guys about!

I am currently full of a bunch of recipe ideas and random streams of thought that I’m trying to work out so that I can share with you all. I am also thinking about starting a new series here on MFL that is going to take a deeper look into how busy 20-somethings find a healthy balance in their lives. I haven’t figured out all the details yet, but I’m definitely excited to start that project soon. Hopefully that sounds interesting to you all?

PS – If there are certain topics that you all love hearing about, please let me know! I’m always open!

2. How does my work differ from others of its type/genre?

“Healthy Living” is such a broad genre that I feel like every healthy living blog out there covers slightly different things. What I really try and emphasize here on My Freckled Life is a realistic look at what healthy living looks like for a busy, working 20-something.

I don’t always eat perfectly, sometimes I skip workouts, and I still try to retain some kind of social life, and I want you guys to see that! I know that I personally am always turned off by bloggers who seem to have everything together 100% of the time, and only every post about their perfect eats or workouts. We all know that sometimes you just need a little froyo in your life, and that’s OK! 

(source)

So what I talk about here is how I personally find that healthy balance, in between all of my activities, crazy work schedule, social life, travel, and time with my husband. I talk about my struggles, my favorite workouts, my go-to healthy recipes, and my dog (obviously the highlight of my blog) – my real life and what my healthy journey REALLY looks like. It’s not always easy, but I hope that by seeing that it IS possible to find balance, and watching and learning from my struggles and triumphs, it might inspire others to make some healthier changes in their lives too!

3. Why do I write what I do?

When I first started my healthy living journey back in 2009, I had no clue what I was doing. There is SO much information out there on what “healthy” means, that I was totally overwhelmed. Am I supposed to eat carbs, or avoid them? Cardio or strength training? Splenda or Sugar? 

That’s when I discovered the world of healthy living blogs. Real people who were talking about their real lives and real struggles with living a healthy life? That’s exactly what I needed at that time to learn about what healthy living really meant in the real world, and it gave me the confidence to change my own life for the better.

That has always been my hope with My Freckled Life. That it can not only be used as a way for me to keep accountable to myself in my healthy living journey, but also that it might inspire others or give them the confidence to live a healthier life. I wanted it to be (and hope that it is!) a genuine and honest place where people can view my struggles and experiences, and be inspired to take some or all of that into their own lives! I’m not perfect, and I want people to see that being healthy doesnt mean being perfect all the time, despite what a lot of “fitspiration” may tell you! 

4. How does your writing process work?

I actually don’t prep too many blog posts in advance. In general, I typically write out all my posts the night before they are posted (which sometimes gets pushed to the morning if I have a ton of stuff going on). That works well for me because I can keep them as honest and authentic as possible, and can bump a planned post if something more important in my life comes up!

In terms of scheduling, I do try to schedule out my posts a week or two in advance and write them into my calendar so I least have a vague idea of what I’m going to talk about. There are obviously some linkups and traditions that I (mostly) keep with every week – weekend recap, WIAW, and Five Favorites Friday – and then I just try and fill in Tuesday/Thursday posts with whatever I feel like talking about that week.

(source)

Most importantly, I try to keep this blog in balance with the rest of my life. Sometimes things come up that keep me from posting. Sometimes I just want to spend time cuddling on the couch with my husband. And that’s OK. It’s been hard for a Type-A person like me to try and let things go sometimes in order to find balance, but it’s something that I’m working on. If I don’t take time to live life, then what am I going to have to write about, after all?

 

Well I hope you enjoyed hearing a little about my blog writing process. I’m sorry that it ended up being a little bit of a brain dump, but I found it really fun to be able to share with you guys some behind-the-scenes stuff about how I write and why I write. Is it probably the most effective and efficient way to go about blogging? No. Do I have a fancy blogging calendar like some people? No. But does it work for me? Yes. 

And that’s what My Freckled Life is all about anyway – telling you about what works (or doesnt) for me, in the hopes that you can use that knowledge to inspire your own journey!

If you have any questions about my writing process, about my journey, or any topics that you’d love to hear about, please don’t hesitate to contact me!

And because I want to share the love, check out some of these ladies that are going to continue the Blog Tour! They are some of my favorite bloggers, so I know you’ll love them too!

Julie @ My Sweet & Healthy Life

 

So tell me: If you’re a blogger, what does your writing process look like? Do you schedule posts or write them on the fly? If you’re not a blogger, how’d you get into reading healthy living blogs? What topics do you like to read about?

WIAW: Summer Rain Edition

Happy Wednesday! 

I’m quite thankful this week is going by quickly, because it’s turning out to be quite busy! We have some crazy stuff going on at work to prep for some office travel through the rest of summer, so everyone is running around like busy little worker bees trying to get everything done. There may have been some few nasty words spoken towards the copy machine yesterday when it decided it didn’t want to take any more papers. 

It’s amazing how much we rely on technology nowadays! We can’t function when a stupid copier goes down! 

Anyway, this week has been pretty busy between work, prepping for my GRE in August (Math, yuck!), working on some research for a local professor, and getting Wild used to our house. No wonder I’m running super low on sleep right now!

But since it’s Wednesday, we should focus on something fun. Like food! Right? 

If you’re not familiar with WIAW, I highly encourage you to check out Jenn’s blog and learn what it’s all about. Plus you can check out what a ton of other awesome bloggers are eating!Thanks for the linkup Jenn!

Breakfast

breakfast

 My usual. Pretty boring, I know. I just never get tired of this combo, even in the hot summer months! Plain oats, topped with a scoop of natural peanut butter, frozen berries, a bit of strawberry jam and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Simple and delicious. Although I do have some empty PB jars that are sitting in my cabinet… so maybe I’ll get fancy with my oats soon!

Lunch

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 Ok, definitely not the most appetizing meal, I know. But it tasted much better than it looked, I promise! Chris made this black bean pasta primavera last week and I wanted to finish up the rest of it before it went bad. You can’t let all those delicious veggies go to waste! It was literally just black bean pasta topped with marinara, sauteed summer squash, zucchini and mushrooms. (<– affiliate link, FYI)

Snack

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 This has become my new favorite combo lately! A brown rice cake topped with a bit of peanut butter and a banana. You get a little sweet, a little salty and a little crunch! 

Dinner

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 Dinner was literally thrown together in about 2 minutes, so it wasn’t my best meal creation of all time. Thanks to the massive thunder storms that rolled through, my train was like 30 minutes late coming home, which meant that I had about 10 minutes to make and eat dinner before I had to head out again. With some quick thinking I threw together a buffalo chicken sandwich (leftover grilled chicken, buffalo sauce, a touch of ranch, lettuce and tomato) and a 1/2 of a sweet potato with buffalo sauce.I wasn’t a huge fan of the white bun (leftover from the BBQ this weekend), but it’s all I could come up with in 10 seconds!

Workout

Sadly I didn’t get a workout in like I’d hoped. Plan A had been to run during my lunch break, but thanks to the  summer rain I wasn’t able to get out there. Plan B was to workout when I got home before we had to leave for Chris’ softball game, but thanks to the late train that didn’t happen either.

After scarfing down dinner and seeing that Chris’ game STILL wasn’t cancelled, we hoped in the car to head up to the fields. We got about halfway there before we got the email that they were cancelled and had to turn back around. At that point I had already scarfed food, and the idea of trying to workout without digesting didn’t sound good, so I ended up just skipping my workout all together. Boooo. 

 

Overall it wasn’t the best day of eats and workouts for me, but sometimes those days just happen. That’s real life people! I am very much a control freak and I hate when my plans dont work out like they’re supposed to, but I’m working to be a little bit better about going with the flow – so I just let it go (cue Frozen singalong). Here’s to a better tomorrow!

PS – Dont forget that today is the last day to enter my Pure Via Summer Fit Kit Giveaway! Go check it out!

So tell me: What did you eat today? Did you get a workout in? Are you a control freak or a go-with-the-flow kind of person?

5 Tips for a Blog Conference Newbie

 Now that I’ve had a few weeks to fully digest all that I took in at FitBloggin (or at least to the point that I feel like my head isn’t spinning in a thousand directions anymore!) I thought it might be good to take some time to reflect on all that I learned. And I’m not just talking about all the informative blogging and monetizing sessions I attended. 

I’m talking about what I learned about blog conferences as a whole!

As I’ve mentioned before, this was my first ever blog conference and I was WAY out of my element. I’m typically fairly shy in crowds of people that I don’t know, and I’m pretty terrible at putting myself out there when I’m feeling uncomfortable. The first night of FitBloggin I was so overwhelmed, I honestly called Chris and said “I dont know what I’m doing here…”

Thankfully by day 2 that fear was (mostly) erased and the rest of the weekend just flew by! 

Tips for a Blog Conference Newbie

But I thought I’d take some time this morning to give a few tips for those who are preparing for their first ever blog conference, or are on the fence about attending out of fear!

5 Tips for a Blog Conference Newbie

1. It’s Ok to be your introverted self… so try to “make friends” with other introverts!

 I went in to FitBloggin basically knowing no one. Erin and I had met once before and talked via email a few times, but otherwise I was stuck in a hotel with several hundred people I didn’t know. Which was kind of terrifying! 

I would have loved to be able to switch off that inner introverted person and just jump into a group and say hi, but the reality is, that’s just not me. And by the time the second day rolled around, I realized that that was ok! There are going to be loud, boisterous, extroverted people at any conference you go to, but that doesn’t mean you have to be one of them if that’s not you! There are also going to be introverted people, just like you, hiding in the corners as well.

Find them. Bond. Make friends. It’s so much easier when you can find other people who need some quiet time too!

Tips for a Blog Conference Newbie

 Throughout the event, Erin and I kept saying that we were going to go work on “Making friends”. Networking, Mingling, or Exchanging cards with other bloggers just sounded so formal and intimidating to me, so I kept trying to remind myself that all I was doing was making friends. Much less scary! Especially when these friends were just as new and scared as I was!

 2. Sponsors actually want to talk to you!

When I first walked by the sponsors tables, I figured they just wanted to present me with their product, hand me their business card, and wait for me to walk away so they could talk to the next person. Why would they be interested in what I have to say?

I quickly learned that that couldn’t be farther from the truth!

Tips for a Blog Conference Newbie

Unlike an expo or event where vendors are pimping their products, the sponsors at blog conferences are there to get your information just as much as you’re getting theirs. They specifically chose this conference because they knew that it would be full of people who could help their business and share their products with readers. They need your help! 

So don’t be afraid to actually talk to them when they ask “so what’s your blog about?” Tell them who you are and what you talk about. Give them your business card. I was shocked at how many sponsors actually reached out to my after the event just because I gave them my card!

3. Bring a notebook… and then actually take notes!

This one sounds like a “duh”, but when you’re running around from session to workout to your room to lunch (with your hands full of swag, of course) a notebook is an easy thing to forget. But let me tell you, it’s probably one of your most important tools at a blog conference. 

Tips for a Blog Conference Newbie

 Over the course of a weekend (or even just a day), you’re going to get so much information that your brain is going to feel like it’s about to explode. I’m not kidding. You’re going to have a million ideas buzzing through your head: post titles, project ideas, key words, tips, tricks… the list goes on. 

And if you don’t write them down, you’re going to promptly forget that brilliant idea you just had as soon as you walk into the next session and get bombarded with more information. 

So write it all down, like you’re taking notes for a final exam. That way later in the afternoon, the next week, or months later, you can go back and reflect on your thoughts and ideas without straining to try and remember it from a weekend full of information!

4. Bloggers are people too (even the big name ones)!

I’m not going to lie, when I saw the attendance list for FitBloggin and noticed that a few of the names were big name bloggers that I love to read, I may have done a little happy dance. I was actually going to get to meet some of my blogging idols??? Awesome!

Then I actually saw them in person and promptly forgot how to use my words. “…Hello? Hi… person… blogger… like your… yea… hi…”

I’m cool. 

What I learned after several awkward encounters is that bloggers, even the big ones, are people too. They are here to learn and grow and connect, just like you are (no matter how big or small your blog is). In fact, they may be just as introverted and awkward as you are – they are regular people, after all!

So go say hi! Or, as in my case, have an awesome friend (Erin) who will go over to your favorite blogger and tell them that this random girl over in the corner really wants to meet them but is too chicken to say Hi. 

Tips for a Blog Conference Newbie

 

You may even get a selfie out of the deal! (Thanks Lindsay for being totally cool with my complete awkwardness!)

5. Bring an extra bag. Or 2. Or 5.

I’m totally not joking on this one. Every “what to pack for a blog conference” post I read before FitBloggin offered this advice, but I still went in thinking “yea, yea, I’m an expert packer, I’ll be fine.”

So foolish. So Naive. 

Seriously, there is so much stuff, I dont even have words for it. Every where you look people are just handing you stuff, and then more stuff, until your little arms just can’t hold it anymore! I think my biceps got more of a workout from lugging my swag bags around than from the actual workouts (Ok, that’s a lie, Bootcamp and PiYo totally killed my biceps all on their own, but you get my point!)

Especially if you are flying, plan on having an entire suitcase dedicated to your swag. No matter what you think, you’re NOT going to be able to put it in your carry-on bag with the rest of your clothes. Even if you sit on it. 

I see you thinking about it. Don’t do it. Seriously. 

You want that swag. Trust me on that one! 

 

Overall, I found my first blogging conference to be an awesome experience! It really made me step out of my comfort zone, but in an environment full of like-minded people with the same interests and passions as me, which was slightly less intimidating. I also learned a TON of valuable information about blogging, fitness, healthy living, and the blogging community in general. If you haven’t been to one, or are on the fence about going, I HIGHLY recommend it. Even check out some local conferences if you can – many major cities are doing 1 day conferences! 

Check it out, enjoy some swag, and learn a ton! You won’t regret it!

So tell me: Have you ever been to a blogging conference before? Considered going to one? If so, what tips do you have for newbie conference attendees?

 

Going Wild: A weekend recap

Happy Monday!

I hope you all had an awesome weekend! After all the traveling that I’ve done the last 3 weekends in a row, it was really nice to be able to spend a weekend at home, even if it was a busy one. Maybe now I’ll finally be able to get a handle on the absolutely insane piles of laundry that seem to be taking over my house… A month of traveling will definitely do that to you!

As much as I’ve loved this summer so far, I’m definitely looking forward to things slowing down just a bit over the next few weeks. I need a chance to catch my breath! It’s hard to focus on enjoying the moment when you’re always having to run to the next thing.

Anyway, let’s take a look at my first weekend at home in a month!

Friday

Chris and I have both been so busy during the week lately, that sometimes we go the entire day without seeing each other, and I’m passed out before he even gets home. So we decided that a summer date night was in order, since we both finally had an open Friday night.

We decided to test out a new-to-us local Fredericksburg restaurant called Poppy Hill, which our friends and family have been raving about forever.

Poppy Hill Fredericksburg, VA

Thankfully, it did not disappoint! Chewy bread with a crispy crust, flavorful olive oil, a glass of red wine and a bruschetta and goat cheese appetizer? Perfection.

The company didn’t hurt either.

Poppy Hill Fredericksburg, VA

The chef ended up making something off-menu for me, since I asked for the salmon, but with no tapenade (I’m not an olive fan). So instead he drizzled some crab hollandaise over the top of my salmon and shrimp risotto. It was like a decadent seafood feast!

Poppy Hill Fredericksburg, VA

It was so rich I could only eat about half of it, but it was so worth every amazing, delicious bite. Plus it was just nice to be able to get out and spend some quality, technology-free (that’s the rule!) time with the one I love. That’s how we find balance in our always crazy schedules!

After dinner we spent some time walking around downtown Fredericksburg, which is always a hopping place on Friday nights in the summer. Including some live music!

Fredericksburg, VA

After enjoying the music for a bit, we headed home to watch 21 Jump Street, which we’ve been meaning to watch for ages. I seriously DIED it was so funny! If you haven’t seen it already (I know we’re super late to the game), I highly recommend it. The perfect amount of adult humor without being unnecessarily crude all the time. Plus, Channing Tatum. So yea. Eye candy.

Saturday

Saturday was deemed a “no alarm Saturday”, meaning that no alarms were set and we planned on sleeping until our bodies woke us up. I have not been sleeping very well lately and my poor body was struggling all last week, so I decided to give it a chance to reset. And reset it did! I haven’t slept until 10am in literally MONTHS. So clearly my body needed it!

Most of the day was pretty much a deep cleaning and errand kind of day. I spent the morning making a giant Wegmans run, and the rest of the day deep cleaning our house (especially our basement) because we had company coming over in the evening!

We decided to throw a summer BBQ for our bible study, and invited a bunch of people over for burgers, yard games, and s’mores. It doesn’t get more summery than that, right?

I also whipped up with little number, which I’ll be sharing with you soon:

Caprese Quinoa Salad

I had a ton of fun hanging out with everyone, even if playing hostess always makes me run around like a crazy person! But I was able to get in a few games of cornhole, ladder golf and kan jam (which was definitely the highlight of the evening!)

Eventually we got out the fire pit, and had a great time sitting around, roasting s’mores and sharing some ridiculous stories. Before anyone knew it, it was after 10pm! Time flies…

Backyard BBQ

Sunday

After the craziness of Saturday, Chris and I were still up fairly early on Sunday because we had business to attend to! We hopped in the car and drove about 2 hours to the northwestern corner of VA to meet up with a Carolina Dog owner who was trying to rehome his dogs.

For those of you that don’t know, our dog Laney is a rare breed called a Carolina Dog, which are basically wild dogs that roam the swamps in the south (we had no idea when we got her. We just thought she was cute!). They are still a fairly new breed, and can be hard to find in VA, so we’re always keeping our eyes open in case any pop up in this area that we can help rescue.

Carolina Dog

Well sure enough “Wild” (aptly named) needed a place to live, so we went to pick her up to give her a try at our house. She really is pretty much wild and is going to require a lot of work on our end, so we’re not 100% sure yet whether she’s going to mesh with our family, but we figured that if nothing else, we can get her vetted and fit for a new home.

Now we just have to work on getting her to be less terrified! She is so stressed with her new environment right now, so Chris and I are doing what we can to make her more comfortable!

That ended up taking up most of my day, so sadly I didn’t get my workout planned as I hoped. Definitely not the best weekend on that front, but sometimes life just becomes more of a priority!

Hopefully I can fix that this week!

Overall, not too shabby for a weekend at home. I now have a (mostly) clean house and a stocked fridge, plus a new puppy to keep me busy!

So tell me: What did you do this weekend? Have you ever rescued a dog? Do you and your significant other have “date nights”?

Homemade Arnold Palmer (+ Pure Via Giveaway)

Disclaimer: I received the Pure Via Summer Fit Kit for free through my ambassadorship with FitFluential. However as always, all opinions are my own and I strive to be as honest in my review as possible.

There is something about summer that just screams “please pass me an ice cold beverage”!

Iced coffee or a cold beer tend to be my summer iced drinks of choice, but my Georgia Boy husband is all about his sweet tea. So when I was offered the opportunity to try out some of Pure Via’s new products that focused around iced tea, I knew my husband would be all about it. He might even finally stop whining about me constantly testing out recipes in the kitchen all the time! (#bloggerspouseproblems)

I was super excited with this baby finally arrived in the mail: A Pure Via Summer Fit Kit full of awesome products!

Pure Via stevia giveaway - My Freckled Life

The more I read about the Pure Via Products, the more excited I was! If you’ve been around My Freckled Life for awhile, you may have seen me talk about how I’m doing my best to stay away from any and all artificial sweeteners (i.e. splenda, sucralose, high fructose corn syrup, etc) and replace them with more natural options.

Not only are Pure Via products stevia-based, but their stevia packets are also non-GMO. That’s like double winning! In fact, the Pure Via products are pretty awesome all around.

PURE VIA – PACKETS

  • Pure Via’s stevia extract is 97% pure Reb A made from the sweetest extract
  • of the stevia leaf
  • It is sweetened using all natural stevia
  • Pure Via packets contain only non-GMO ingredients
  • Each Pure Via packet sweetens like two teaspoons of sugar
  • Pure Via is suitable for people with diabetes
  • It’s certified Kosher Parve

(Also, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect out of the Pure Via chapstick – it seemed a little random for a stevia company to make. However, it not only has SPF 15, but it also smells like tropical goodness. I’m totally obsessed)

Once I saw all the products, I knew that I needed to try them out on my Iced Tea Lovin’ husband. But I also wanted to put a fun little spin on it, and decided to make homemade Arnold Palmers!

Homemade Arnold Palmer with Pure Via

For anyone not familiar with an Arnold Palmer, it’s basically a 50-50 mix of iced tea and lemonade. You get a little bit of sweet from the tea, and a little bit of sour from the lemonade, and it makes for one refreshing summer drink!

So I started throwing a few things together and ended up with a drink that is super tasty, and just the right amount of sweet without being overwhelming. I even threw in a few peach slices for some extra flavor (and a delicious treat at the end of your drink!)

You’d better believe that Chris enjoyed every sip!

Homemade arnold palmer

 

Homemade Arnold Palmer
Serves 1
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Ingredients
  1. 3 tsp Lipton Unsweetened Iced Tea Mix
  2. 12-16oz water
  3. 1 tsp Pure Via liquid (more to taste if needed)
  4. 1/2 lemon
  5. 2-3 Peach Slices
  6. Ice
Instructions
  1. Mix your lipton tea mix with water until completely dissolved
  2. Add juice of half of a lemon
  3. Mix in PureVia stevia (or sweetener of choice)
  4. Add in ice and peach slices
  5. Serve and enjoy!
My Freckled Life http://www.myfreckledlife.com/
 

Homemade Arnold Palmer with Pure Via

But what makes this all even sweeter (Ha, get it?) is that Pure Via is offering the chance for one of you to win a Summer Fit Kit full of awesome Pure Via products too!

The Summer Fit Kit includes:

  • Box of Pure Via® non-GMO packets
  • Bottle of Pure Via® stevia liquid
  • Bottle of Pure Via® vanilla stevia liquid
  • Container of instant iced tea
  • Pure Via mason jar
  • Pure Via pedometer
  • Pure Via SPF 15 lip balm

This contest will run until Midnight on July 16!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

So tell me: What is your favorite iced drink in the summer?

WIAW: Ginger Ale Edition

Wednesday already? Man this week is flying by! I think I must still be riding the vacation weekend high or something!

This week has actually been a pretty crazy one for us. Chris’ summer sports are in full swing, so he pretty much has something every single night. Which means that I’ve been trying to come up with meals that are even faster and easier (but still healthy) to make so that he can scarf them before he runs out the door. I’m pretty sure we haven’t actually sat at our dining room table for dinner in weeks!

Sigh, that’s just life right now – busy busy busy!

As usual though, I’m still trying to make sure that in during the busy times I’m still aiming for a healthy balance with my food. And thanks to Jenn, I can show you exactly what I’ve been eating lately!

If you’re not familiar with the WIAW concept, I highly encourage you to head over to Jenn’s blog and check out more. Plus you can see what a ton of other awesome bloggers have been chowing down on lately!

Breakfast

WIAW: Ginger Ale Edition

After a weekend of indulging, I’m back to my usual breakfast in the hopes that it’ll settle my system a little bit: plain oats with frozen berries, jam, natural peanut butter, and cinnamon. Super simple and super delicious! Recycled photo because I was being super lazy first thing in the morning!

Lunch

WIAW: Ginger Ale Edition

I have been on a serious salad kick for the last few weeks. It just never seems to get old! This one had butter lettuce, garden cherry tomatoes, cucumber, sundried tomato goat cheese, and poppyseed dressing. With a banana on the side. So many pretty colors!

Snack

WIAW: Ginger Ale Edition

Sadly by mid-afternoon I had a nasty stomach ache. I think my tummy is finally rebelling from all of the crap I ate this weekend (worth it!). I ended up going to the local convenience store to pick up some ginger ale and crackers in the hopes of making myself feel better. Thankfully it did help a bit, even if I felt like a pregnant lady walking in to pick up crackers and ginger ale in the middle of the work day! I swear I’m not pregnant (mom)!

Dinner

WIAW: Ginger Ale Edition

Since I wasn’t feeling great, I also wasn’t feeling very inspired in the cooking department. So after looking through all of our cabinets in the hopes that something would call to me, I ended up going with breakfast for dinner. Because you really can’t go wrong with BFD! I paired some scrambled eggs with half of a waffle. Not exactly the greenest or healthiest meal, but sometimes you just have to go with what your body is asking for. And my tummy just couldn’t handle anything but bland carbs and eggs. 

It’s all about balance after all! Super green lunch, less than green dinner. Sometimes that’s just real life!

Workout

I had originally planned on going to the gym after work, but thanks to my tummy troubles, that didn’t end up happening. I did get in a 2 mile walk to and from the convenience store to pick up my ginger ale, so I guess that counts for something, right? We’ll call this an active rest day.

Well there you haven’t – not my finest of days, but again, that’s just real life. In the end, I’m happy that I managed to get in a fruit and veggie filled lunch to balance out my less-than-optimal dinner!

So tell me: What did you eat today? Are you a fan of ginger ale and crackers when you’re sick?

For some reason ginger ale always brings me back to elementary school, and thinking that ginger ale had some magical healing powers!