Find your passion and be authentic #FitBlogNYC

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Two weeks ago (where does the time go?) I ventured to New York City to attend Fitness Magazine’s Fitness Blogger Meet and Tweet, also known as #FitBlogNYC. I was lucky enough to attend last year (you can read the recap here) and have been dying to go back! This time, I made it a little easier on myself.

Rather than waking up at 3 a.m., I went down the day before and stayed with one of my good college friends and her family in Brooklyn. Win/win – less sleep deprivation and catching up with my friend :). I was already more relaxed and knowing I would see some familiar faces made it even better!

I ventured over to the Mercedes Club in a bit of a drizzle, but not the expected down pours. As always, I was early and able to meet a few bloggers while waiting for the event to open. It was fun, but also a little nerve wracking as I hoped to see familiar faces right away.

Once we had our badges and schedule of events, breakfast was served and the seating area was set-up inside. Last year, it was beautiful and we enjoyed the roof deck. I picked a spot in the middle and center.

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First up was Betty Wong with Holly Rilinger talking about The New Formula for Fitness Success. Holly was awesome! She is a 5’4″ former pro basketball player; clearly she knows a thing or two about working hard and finding success.

Holly spoke a lot about finding a form of fitness that you like and can be passionate about. She talked about checking in with yourself every three or four weeks to see if you are still enjoying what you are doing and getting the desired results. Good nutrition and enough sleep were also important topics discussed.

Holly recommended scheduling enough sleep like a workout or meeting. She mentioned that the human growth hormone is made when you achieve REM. In other words, if you are working out hard, eating right and not sleeping enough – you won’t get the same results in energy/weight loss/muscle development.

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Next up was Dr Marci Goolsby talking about CrossFit, Mud runs, Marathons! How to Stay Healthy in a Hard-Core World. The primary take home from Marci is that most injury (regardless of the type of fitness) comes from doing too much too soon and not paying attention to nutrition. She recommended trying something out for a while before going all in.

There was a real emphasis on eating well and fueling the body. Marci spoke about women who stop menstruating and how important it is to talk with your doctor if this happens. It is often a result of poor nutrition and needs to be looked at in a timely manner.

While it’s important to keep moving, it’s also important to listen to your body. If something hurts enough to change your stride or movement pattern, it’s time to see a doctor. Always better safe than sorry :)

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The last presentation before lunch was Carla Hall, co-host of The Chew as well as cookbook author and business owner. I cannot say enough good things about Carla. Ultimately, much of it will be in another post. Her energy is infectious and she has a great sense of humor.

She is adamant that people should not give up foods traditional to their culture for a diet. Carla suggests moderation or finding small ways to keep flavor and tradition while being a little healthier. Along these lines, she was quite clear that Thanksgiving is not a good time to try a completely new menu. Try new sides, but keep the primary foods traditional.

While maintaining tradition is important, playing with different spices is a great way to change up recipes. She suggested using your favorite protein source and finding many different ways to prepare it. Carla also stated that you shouldn’t cut out all fat. A little oil, butter or cream can go a long way and will keep you from looking for it elsewhere.

After all this talk about food, it was time for lunch and it was amazing!!! I had the lemon chicken, grilled veggies and quinoa salad. All of it was delicious :)

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After eating, it was time to visit sponsors. Of course I had to plank with Aliah from The Get Fit Diva for the Tonalin booth.

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I have to say, I loved the Balance Bar and Luna bars. We also received a fun tech shirt from Eddie Bauer and it’s awesome! Of course, new sneakers from Hoka One One and lots of networking.

Sadly, my phone isn’t holding much of a charge and it spent this time on the charger with these other phones :)

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I enjoyed catching up with Nikki from Get Fit with Nikki, Nellie from Brooklyn Active Mama, Christine from Love, Life, Surf and finally met Carly from Fine Fit Day in person!! After chatting away, it was time for one last presentation.

Bianca Jade, Anne Mauney, RD and Laura spoke with us about My Digital Brand is My Business. All three women were inspirational and savvy business women. The big take home from this discussion is to find your passion, work hard and be true to yourself.

Did I mention the swag? I’m embarrassed to say, my arms were a little sore the next morning from carrying all of these fun treats home :)

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Overall, it was an amazing day!! Hopefully, I will have the opportunity to attend a future event :)

If you attended #Fit Blog NYC please leave your recap n the comments :) I love seeing everyone’s perspective on the day!

Running with friends

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When I began running, it was all about me. I didn’t want anyone else running with me. Sometimes on the treadmill was ok because I could go at my own speed. I wasn’t responsible for anyone else’s workout.

Now, I hate running by myself. I’ve been walking on the treadmill to keep moving and often clear my head before teaching a class. Running has become social.

I love it in the summer when I run and walk with friends at the track. Again, it’s like the treadmill. People can go ahead or slow down at their own pace, but we are all there together. Somewhere along the way, running with friends has become a huge highlight of my week!

It’s my “me” time, the equivalent of meeting for coffee. I don’t know when this happened! There are so many strange phrases coming out of my mouth. For example, “it’s only _ miles” or “I wish I brought my running stuff on vacation”. The craziest was this past week.

My running friend and I had scheduled a 5 mile run on Friday afternoon. Her daughter wound up being home with a stomach bug (life of a mom) and she had to cancel. I was genuinely disappointed. I looked at my husband and said I can’t believe how bummed I am about not going for our run.

On my way to teach, I thought of a friend I might be able to talk into joining me. The running gods smiled down, because there she was running on the treadmill when I got to the gym. I mentioned going for a run/walk in her neighborhood AND she said YES!

I was psyched! Of course the weather was cold and wet. It was supposed to clear, but typical New England – it didn’t. I called after my last class to see if she was still game and she was! We ventured out for a 3.25 mile run/walk.

Her long legs made her fast and we only walked for a little over .25 miles. It was great :) We chatted along the way and I found myself explaining that I love getting out and catching up while running.

I can still see the irony as a friend last year told me how great it is to run and talk. I thought she was CRAZY! Who can run AND talk, that’s just insane. Somehow, this has become my reality. I love running with friends. The mileage is secondary to getting out and catching up.

Not to mention, it keeps me accountable. I’m not going to be the one wimping out when the weather isn’t perfect or I don’t feel like it. I have an appointment, somewhere to be and someone counting on me.

I am capable of motivating myself to workout, but why make it less fun? As the winter months approach, I may be stuck back on my own. Right now, I plan on keeping it outside and with friends as long as it’s safe.

There is nothing like the fresh air and quality time with friends.

Do you exercise with friends? What has surprised you about leading a healthy lifestyle? Do you prefer being outside or inside when exercising?

Simply Kid Chefs: Crab Cakes

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We are slowly getting into our routine. As we’ve been adjusting, the kids’ cooking has been put on hold. Well, we’re back!! Our youngest was chomping at the bit and our oldest had basketball tryouts so the youngest is kicking off the school year cooking 😉

He knew he wanted to cook, but he wasn’t sure what. Suffice it to say, almost every cookbook was pulled out and perused. Ultimately, he selected crab cakes from Ellie Krieger. This allowed him to make seafood and his favorite tartar sauce. He also selected French fries and carrot/celery sticks to round out dinner.

He did most of the work. I helped with the cutting, but cut the potatoes for him. They are hard to manage with extra, little hands on and around the knife. He did put them in the bowl and add the olive oil, salt and pepper. I think he really enjoyed tossing them around before putting them on the pan.

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I let him crack the egg for his first time. Let’s just say that resulted in a quick clean-up as the egg imploded on his hands and the floor. We re-grouped and mixed together the crab cakes. They didn’t stick together too well in the beginning. They were a bit of a mushy mess when we “rolled” them in the bread crumbs.

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We wound up placing the cake down and covering with crumbs. Then we scooped it to the pan and shaped it. They did come together while cooking. I was a little nervous about flipping them, but it worked well for the most part.

Here’s the recipe from Elli Krieger *We double the tartar sauce as it’s quite popular around here :) *

Ingredients
Nonstick cooking spray
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Dash hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon crab boil seasoning (recommended: Old Bay)
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 scallion, including green top, finely chopped
1 pound lump crab, picked over for cartilage
3/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Smarter Tartar Sauce:
6 tablespoons nonfat plain yogurt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 scallion, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped sour pickles
1 tablespoon chopped capers

Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl mix together the egg, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, Old Bay seasoning and hot sauce. Stir in the bell pepper and scallion. Gently fold in the crab, 1/4 cup of the bread crumbs and salt and pepper to taste. Put the remaining bread rumbs in a shallow dish.

Divide the crab mixture into 8 mounds. Shape 1 mound into a round and coat in bread crumbs. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and flatten the crab cake to form a patty about 1-inch high. Repeat to form the remaining crab cakes.

Bake until golden on the bottom, about 10 minutes. Gently flip the crab cakes and cook until the second side is golden, 5 to 10 minutes longer.

Smarter Tartar Sauce:
Spoon yogurt into a small bowl lined with paper towels. Place in the refrigerator for 1/2 hour until some of the liquid from the yogurt is released. Scoop thickend yogurt into a small bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine.

Yield: 3/4 cup

Copyright 2005, Ellie Krieger, All Rights Reserved
Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ellie-krieger/crab-cakes-recipe.html?oc=linkback

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Our youngest LOVED the crab cakes! Our oldest was a little unsure as he doesn’t like stuffed quahogs or other seafood cakes, but he tried it and did eat his whole crab cake.

Have you made crab cakes? What’s your favorite dinner inspiration?

Back to BOKS training

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Last week I ventured up to Reebok (again :)) with two moms for BOKS training. I am the lead trainer and thought it is great team building and frankly, just fun.

We were a little early and snuck in some shopping before the event began. The training was full at 75 people! It felt like double from last year’s training. How awesome is that?!?

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While I knew it would be fun and I love going to Reebok; I had forgotten how contagious everyone’s energy and passion is. It felt like a BOKS pep rally as we sat and listened to Kathleen talk about starting the program and how far it has come.

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They made the point that it has really been a grass roots movement. The trainers and people bringing it into the schools have to be passionate about it. In districts where it’s been mandated, people feel forced and it doesn’t have the same impact. They also mentioned Eli Manning as a spokesman didn’t go very far either.

Like any training, the group makes or breaks it. We had an awesome group. It was large and diverse. There were other parents, grandparents, retired educators and people from a YMCA in the Boston area. This allowed for great questions and discussion. It also made the games fun and realistic from a size/chaos perspective.

75 adults running around and playing toilet tag was a fair representation of what it feels like in the gym when running BOKS. We all did sit-ups and planks, ran around and laughed. It’s a great way to meet new people as you’re cheering on your team of strangers :)

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This year’s training touched a little bit more on the numbers side of things. The original school has been tracking performance based numbers and they are currently being analyzed. They know that attendance is better for children enrolled in BOKS. Test scores are showing improvement as well. Of course, there are the testimonials from teachers in favor of BOKS.

At our school, kids didn’t want to miss a BOKS day. There are many stories from parents saying how easy it is to get their kids up and out on BOKS day because the kids can’t wait to get there. To the adult eye, it might seem basic; but that is the beauty!

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The games are simple and easy for all children to understand. We have a wide range of kids involved and they cheer each other on. It was asked at the training about handling kids who were maybe faster/more athletically inclined and those who are not. Most of us agreed that it isn’t the issue adults think it will be. We break our kids up into even groups and emphasize cheering on your team. So far, this has brought smiles to even the shyest kids.

Another question that surprised me but seems worth mentioning, do trainers have to be fit. The answer – no! It was emphasized that a good trainer is charismatic, has control of the room and has fun demonstrating and playing the games.

Keeping the program volunteer run and free allows all children the opportunity to be involved. We were shocked at how many people signed up the first time we offered it. This year has been no different. Even finding volunteers was easier than I anticipated it. The kids love it so much, you don’t need any publicity ;)

Does your school offer BOKS? What was your favorite game to play as a kid? When was the last time you played tag?

Oysterfest ~ Friends, Hills and Fun!

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Last year, Oysterfest was one of our favorite races. It was far more challenging than we had realized going into it, but we ran with friends and attended the festival when we were done. Who doesn’t like live music, seafood and a beer with friends after a difficult race?

I had remembered last year was chilly pre-race and thought a lot about clothing options. I went with capris, t-shirt and light weight sweatshirt. My husband had a hat on the counter and I thought to grab my own (best idea of the day).

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We enjoyed a pretty sunrise on our drive down Cape (which is actually north) to Wellfleet. We drove the course before picking up our numbers and there were those hills as we had remembered. Somehow, they had grown to mountains in my memory. Driving them, they didn’t seem as scary.

We picked up our numbers and met up with our friends. As we bounced around to stay warm and did a little yoga pose for fun (and stretching) we chatted about last year’s race. We were excited that my husband had his watch on this year and we would know what the elevation is.

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There are three hills in this out and back race (so you climb and descend 6). The race began at 7 feet above sea level. The first hill is 61, the second 55 and the third 57. No wonder my quads were crying for mercy ;)

I ran the first part of the race with my running buddy. She keeps me working hard to keep up and I always feel pretty good. It was running with her that I had my best time in August. I sent her ahead near mile 2 as I knew I needed energy for that last hill.

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I felt pretty good going into the race. My running has been funky this month with travel, but I’ve still put in some decent runs. Hills are difficult to find on the Cape and it’s hard to be ready for them. I remembered feeling strong on them last year and was hoping for the same success.

It seemed I was ready to give in and walk just as we reached the top of each hill. No matter how big the hill was, the top came at exactly the right moment. I was able to keep trucking and enjoy the down hill that much more.

As I ran and warmed up, I took my hat off. I watched people peel off layers expertly. I kept going with my long sleeves which I was thankful for at the finish. The cold wind took care of that heat as soon as I stopped moving.

Luckily, we all brought a fresh change of clothes and pulled a Clark Kent in our cars before walking up to the festival. Sadly, I have an old iPhone (new one has been ordered) that doesn’t hold its charge and I didn’t get any pictures from the festival.

In the end, I finished the race in exactly 33 minutes, shaving just over 3 minutes off last year’s time! If I’m honest, I was hoping for 4, but am happy with 3. It’s been fun to re-run a few races and have something to compare it to.

What’s your favorite post race activity? What fall festival is your favorite?

500 miles and counting!

500 milesAs I approached 500 miles from when I began tracking mileage in April 2013, I looked back at a few posts. The one that struck me was my one year recap and how surprised I was to hit 246 miles. That was in March and here I am at 500 miles with the same surprise.

I began to wonder why I was so shocked. Did I really think I would quit? Was I expecting to be one and done? Honestly, I’m not sure.

It’s not my personality to only go half-way. I’m always in it to win it and maybe that’s it. I knew I wouldn’t be winning any races and thought I would throw in the towel.

I am here to say I have survived not winning. I have survived and embraced cheering others on. I have survived being, literally, in the middle of the pack.

Somewhere along the way, I began to love it. The feeling of accomplishment, camaraderie, and fun. As each mile passes, I feel stronger and more comfortable calling myself a runner. I’ve even missed it when I was away – who knew that could happen.runner

I have loved each goal I’ve worked for and right now, I like just doing it. I enjoy my time on the treadmill (you read that correctly) and truly love running outside with my friends. It is a time to relax, reflect and laugh.

If you had ever told me I would talk and laugh while running I would have had you committed. Yet, here I am on the other side. Somewhere along the way, it became a lifestyle and a part of me.

As I write this, I wonder if I will feel the same at 1,000 miles or some other huge milestone. All I can say, is I can’t wait to find out because at some point in the future I will hit 1,000 and more miles.

I can’t believe everything this adventure has brought so far and I can’t wait to see where it goes!!

Have you surprised yourself by sticking with something after reaching your initial goal? Do you track your progress? What’s your favorite fitness/healthy living accomplishment to date?

Maintaining my stride

With the boys back in school, I’ve been back to running outside with my friend. Our first run was a TOUGH one! It was the first day of school and the hottest day of the summer, yet we made it through!

Frankly, it could only get better from there. We knew we had to jump right in and create our routine. We logged five 4 mile runs in the month of September. The last week, we ran early in the week and snuck in an extra one on the Friday as I was going away the following week

I thought it would be fun to check in monthly on our outdoor runs and of course mileage ;)

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I’m hoping to have more consistency in my monthly totals. I seem to run a lot one month and then drop the next. My focus isn’t so much about a number, but staying even. Life and weather happens, but I think it can be done with a little effort!

Are you consistent in your training or does it vary monthly? What’s your favorite fall activity?