Five Things I’m Loving Friday: Christmas Edition!

Happy Friday everyone! Isn’t Friday the best? Although I actually prefer Saturdays since there’s no work involved on Saturdays 🙂

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This Friday I decided to do a Christmas gifts edition of ‘Five Things I’m Loving Friday’ to share some of my favorite things I got for Christmas this year – and that I think would make great gifts for other people! I tried to do a wide variety of both fitness and health related items, as well as just some unique gifts – it was hard to pick only five!

1. Gaiam “Everything Fits” Gym Bag

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I first read about this bag on PB Fingers and I’m so glad that she recommended it! It’s a good size bag – with a nice wide strap, lots of pockets and neat features like a separate vented compartment for your shoes and a strap on the bottom for a yoga mat (or I discovered my foam roller fits there too!). You can buy this bag in black or purple from Gaiam at this link. I’m super excited about this gift since before I was carrying my gym stuff in a free drawstring bag I got at the Run or Dye race last year. Also with GRIT starting I definitely needed more space to tote stuff around! 🙂

2. Salt Cellar

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This seems like such a simple thing but it was one of the gifts I was the most excited about! This particular salt cellar is from Crate and Barrel and I love the natural wood with the sliding magnetic lid. It’s perfect for keeping kosher salt out near the stove and being able to grab a pinch to add into dishes. Prior to this, I was just pouring the salt into my hand from the big kosher salt container which was a less than ideal situation.

3. Cookbooks – ‘Super Natural Every Day’ and ‘Tidewater Table’

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I’m always excited for new cookbooks! You can see a few others in my collection lined up next to the new ones. My mom gave me a copy of ‘Tidewater Table’ which is a new cookbook written all about the cuisine of my hometown – the Tidewater area of Virginia! I’m really excited to try out some of these classic recipes – just flipping through it I noticed tons of seafood! The other book was given to me by my best friend that I’ve known for 12+ years – ‘Super Natural Every Day.’ I cannot express how much I love this book. I’ve already read it cover to cover and there are dozens of recipes I can’t wait to try! The cookbook is vegetarian and features some of my all-time favorite ingredients – like coconut oil, chia seeds, and quinoa! I can’t wait to try these recipes and share the results with you on this blog 🙂

4. Origami Owl Necklace

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My mom gave me this necklace and I am absolutely in love with it. I had heard Origami Owl mentioned a few times in passing, but I had never really seen one before – it’s a really neat concept. It’s sort of a clear locket/pendent that you can buy and add charms to for your individual personality. My mom gave me three with the necklace – a cat paw, a running shoe, and a blue sapphire. So pretty! I don’t think I’ll add too much more than that – I think the simplicity is nice. I also love that the length of the necklace is a little longer so it sits really well on top of higher V-neck sweaters or crew neck sweaters. I’ve been wearing it a lot! 🙂

5. Fitness Gear!

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So I cheated a little on this one – it’s more than one item! I told you choosing just five was hard! My best friend Heather gave me an awesome pairing for Christmas – a “Strong is the New Skinny” shirt from the Strong Girl Clothing Etsy shop. I’ve been coveting this tank-top for a while and I have to say that it’s just as nice in person as it looks in her shop! I know with “homemade” stuff you can really be taking a chance on quality but I love everything about this shirt – the fit, the color, and the fabric! Definitely check out her shop because there’s lots of other awesome fitness apparel! Heather also got me a water bottle with a built-in infuser for fruit/herbs and a built in core to keep the water cold! I’ve been wanting one of these since water with lemon is one of my favorite things! I’m excited to try it with other combinations too – like cucumber and mint!

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The Start of GRIT

Last week was the first week of the Les Mills GRIT program that I signed up for a month or so ago. Although the program is a little pricey ($350) for 7 weeks, I truly loved the demo classes I had taken and knew that this program would get me to the next level of fitness.

For those who don’t know, GRIT is a new program from Les Mills (the same company that does Body Pump, Body Step, all those “body” classes) that focuses on high-intensity interval training in a team atmosphere. You meet with the same team of participants at the same time, twice a week. Personally, my GRIT team consists of 7 people who meet at 6 am Wednesday and 6 am Friday with our two coaches – Colleen and Arnold. The idea is for your group to become a team – and I’m really loving the atmosphere so far!

For those who are interested, I am taking the GRIT series at Arlington Health and Wholeness which is a great personal training studio. Or if you don’t live near DC, look for a GRIT program in your area!

The first GRIT session (last Wednesday) was the pre-test (and the last session will be the post-test). The pre-test consisted of getting on a very neat scale that measures body weight, body fat percentage, muscle mass, hydration levels, bone density, and a few other things I can’t remember. Then we did three physical tests – a push up test (as many as you could do), a vertical leap test, and a beep test (50 m sprints). We documented our results so we can see how we improve over the 7 weeks. My body fat percentage was just 1% higher than the “healthy” range so my goal is to bring that down into the healthy range for sure – and hopefully build some muscle mass along the way!

But the most important thing to come out of the pre-test was this – I smashed my ‘Fitness Bucket List’ item to do 10 “real” push-ups in a row. I was reluctant to ever count this as completed before now, because I never feel like I’m getting my chest low enough — but with my coach Colleen counting reps for my pre-test I did 17 solid push-ups, on my toes, before collapsing. I. Am. Ecstatic. And looking to smash even more on my post-test!

Friday’s session was our first “real” session with was a pylometrics session. The GRIT series rotates between three different types of classes: plyometrics, cardio, and strength. Plyometrics was the only one I hadn’t tried before and boy was it hard! I felt like I was dying the whole time (pretty standard for GRIT) but boy did I feel accomplished afterwards!

In addition to two GRIT sessions a week, I am maintaining my two Body Pump classes a week with a yoga and/or cycling class thrown in as I can. I can’t wait to continue this journey and report back to you! 🙂

Featured Foxy Foodie: Sarah!

Today I’m super excited to feature my next Featured Foxy Foodie! If you missed it, I announced this series of posts earlier this month, so check it out and email me if you’d like to sign up! 🙂

Today’s Featured Foxy Foodie is Sarah from The Fit Cookie and Fit Betty. On The Fit Cookie Sarah shares awesome recipes – and seeing as she has to work around dietary restrictions and allergies there is something for everyone! Then, on Fit Betty Sarah shares great workout tips, gear, giveaways and more! I’m seriously in love with both sites, and especially love the blog design (is that a weird thing to fall in love with? Because I have!)

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Name: Sarah Jane Parker
Blog: The Fit Cookie and Fit Betty
Twitter: @Fit_Betty and @TheFitCookie
Facebook: Fit Betty Facebook Page and The Fit Cookie Facebook Page
Pinterest: The Fit Cookie Pinterest Boards
Instagram: The Fit Cookie on Instagram
Tumblr: Tumblr Fit Cookie
Location: Wyoming
Age: 29

What kind of “foodie” are you (i.e. Paleo, Vegetarian, Flexetarian, or do you just love all food? :-)) and why?:

I am an allergy-friendly foodie. I have a dairy and soy allergy and several other food intolerances, and my 2 kids have peanut and tree nut allergies (along with dairy and eggs), so we eat what works for us! Lately I have been eating less grain, but I’m not quite Paleo.

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If you had to eat one food every day for the rest of your life, what food would it be?:

Chocolate!

Are there any foods you don’t like or refuse to try?:

There aren’t any foods that I don’t like or won’t eat based on taste, but I can’t eat foods for health reasons (dairy, eggs, soy, gluten,
etc).

When/where did you learn how to cook?:

I learned to cook at home with my mom and sisters when I was growing up, but I didn’t really start cooking in earnest until I got married and had to cook (my husband doesn’t cook much!).

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What is your favorite thing to cook?:

I love to bake cookies 🙂

What is the best (or most memorable) meal you’ve ever had?:

I cooked shark once – it is memorable in a bad way since I didn’t prepare it correctly and it was horrible!

Have you found any new recipes lately that you’re dying to try?:

Crepe cakes. Making them takes so much time and it’s hard to make good crepes without eggs!

Do you have any embarrassing kitchen stories or recipe disasters to share?:

Aside from the bad shark recipe, there are so many kitchen flops it’s hard to pinpoint just one! I experiment in the kitchen a lot so there are plenty of failures, the latest ones being candies and caramels.

What is your best tip(s) for eating healthy?:

The things I tell my kids: eat the healthy food first and make sure you eat fruits and veggies at each meal. If you are full, you don’t need to clean your plate. 🙂

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Interested in being a Featured Foxy Foodie? Email me at foxywholefoodie@gmail.com for details! 🙂

Race Ragz Giveaway Winner!

Just wanted to stop by quickly and announce that Nicole from Four Paw Savings is the winner of the Race Ragz giveaway! Congrats Nicole! 🙂 Can’t wait to see how that shirt turns out! I love the idea of using “Live, Laugh, Run” on it!

Goals for the New Year

Happy New Year everyone! Here’s to making 2014 a year filled with health and happiness! 🙂

And how are we going to do that? By setting goals! I’ve never been a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions because I feel like they have the connotation of being some vague goal like “get healthier” or “lose weight” that’s forgotten a few short weeks into the year. So instead of making resolutions, I’m going to set some goals for 2014.

Resolutions

My first, and largest, goal is hard to put into words – but I’m going to try. This year I’m going to find out what I can do with my life that is going to make me happy. I’m going to “figure out what I want to be when I grow up.” Whether this means leaving my current job entirely, transitioning to a part-time position so that I can pursue other interests, or sticking with my current job but adding in more meaningful extra activities – I’m not sure. But I’m going to take this year to figure it out. I think a big part of this will involve me moving back to my hometown this summer. My lease is up at the end of July and I’m hoping to finally make the move back home (this is VERY contingent on me finding a job in that area, so it sort of dovetails nicely with my search for work-life happiness). I also hope to train to become a Body Pump instructor early this year, which I think could lead to a “job” that I definitely enjoy more than my current one.

More specifically, I want to actually make time to read this year. I have a HUGE collection of books – it’s legitimately out of control – and books have always been a joy and a passion for me. I probably easily own a hundred books that I haven’t even read. So I stole my mother’s idea to read one chapter every night before bed. So far, I’ve already finished ‘Orange is the New Black’ doing this (which is already more progress than the rest of the year!). This allows me to set aside time to do something I truly enjoy – reading – as well as breaking my terrible habit of falling asleep to Netflix. Both of which will add health and happiness to my life! 🙂

What about you? What are your goals and/or resolutions?

Featured Foxy Foodie: Ashley!

Today I’m super excited to feature my next Featured Foxy Foodie! If you missed it, I announced this series of posts earlier this month, so check it out and email me if you’d like to sign up! 🙂

Today’s Featured Foxy Foodie is Ashley from Ashley Josephine Yoga! I’m so excited to feature a yoga blogger – and someone who describes herself as a “yoga foodie” – because I absolutely love yoga and could always use a little more of it in my life! Also, it isn’t a subject that gets as much attention as it should on this blog, so I’m thrilled to share it with all of you! 🙂

Ashley put it a great way when she said “Food is a unifying experience – we gather around a kitchen table, we go out to eat, we have entire holidays revolve around consumption of food. It’s amazing to me how food can bring people together.”

I couldn’t agree more! ❤

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Name: Ashley Josephine Herzberger
Blog: Ashley Josephine Yoga
Twitter: @AshleyJoYoga
Facebook: AshleyJoYoga on Facebook!
Pinterest: AshleyJoYoga on Pinterest
Location: Currently in Tucson, AZ
Age: 25

What kind of “foodie” are you (i.e. Paleo, Vegetarian, Flexetarian, or do you just love all food? :-)) and why?:

I’m a yoga foodie because I have found my preference in food be so drastically influenced by my yoga practice. My mindset around health, wellness and food has been transformed through what I’ve learned about myself in yoga. Awareness and listening are the true keys to unlocking the foodie within!

If you had to eat one food every day for the rest of your life, what food would it be?:

That’s hard because I get bored with things easily, but I’ve always said my favorite food is blueberries.

Are there any foods you don’t like or refuse to try?:

Organ foods aren’t on the top of my list of things I want to eat and I have a particularly hard time with slimy textures.

When/where did you learn how to cook?:

Well, I’m still learning, but honestly, signing up for a box of organic vegetables to be delivered to your house each week really forces you out of your comfort zone!

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What is your favorite thing to cook?:

Roasted root veggies in the winter, sweet potato fries with rosemary all year long, cupcakes if I’m baking and smoothies in the Vitamix are a daily fave.

What is the best (or most memorable) meal you’ve ever had?:

I don’t remember the food as much as I remember the company, but I had a really fantastic meal recently at a Marriott Hotel restaurant in Tucson, AZ called Primo – they grow a lot of their food in a garden on the hotel property and their flavors are super fresh. Their homemade ice cream was one of the best I’ve ever had.

Have you found any new recipes lately that you’re dying to try?:

I don’t normally stockpile recipes. I find what I want when I need it and then make it. But I’ve really been looking for a good pie to make with a graham cracker crust – I’ve got one to use up in my pantry.

Do you have any embarrassing kitchen stories or recipe disasters to share?:

The one I get made fun of most for is when I ruined Easy Mac. I couldn’t tell where the line was in the plastic cup so I put way too much water in and then it didn’t turn out. That may have been my cue to cut out the processed foods.

What is your best tip(s) for eating healthy?:

Eat fresh, local foods whenever possible and shift your mindset from one of food as pleasure to food as fuel to enable your body to do the incredible things you want to do and to take the adventures you want to take. Suddenly (and ironically), you’ll find food will taste much better and become a much more pleasurable experience when you’re not longer feeding the mind and your feeding your soul instead.

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Interested in being a Featured Foxy Foodie? Email me at foxywholefoodie@gmail.com for details! 🙂

Race Ragz Review and Giveaway!

Merry (almost) Christmas to you all! 🙂 And I hope you’re happy, healthy and having fun wherever you are – and whatever holiday you may or may not celebrate. The most important thing is that everyone is enjoying time with family and friends.

And I would like to give a gift to you all!

Recently, I got the opportunity to try out My Race Ragz.com. This website allows to customize your own Dri-fit t shirts, tank tops, and long sleeve tees. They have over 700 designs already uploaded that you can use – or you can upload anything of your own! As I’m not running as much anymore, I decided to go with a more generic work-out tee (which I designed myself) and I am really happy with the results!

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I’ve been wanting a t-shirt that said “Beast Mode” for a while now – to really power me through those tough workouts! 🙂 I tried it out for the first time the other day while doing the 30 Day Shred DVD with Jillian Michaels and I was super happy with the fit and the wicking fabric. This shirt is made of quality stuff!

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Now it’s time for your Christmas present – a free customized Race Ragz shirt of your own! The winner of this giveaway will receive a coupon code good for one free Race Ragz customized shirt of your choice – so you can make something completely your own! 🙂

To enter the giveaway – leave a blog comment with what you’d most like to put on your customized shirt. The giveaway closes on Sunday, January 5th at midnight. A winner will be chosen and announced on Monday, January 6th. Good luck! 🙂 And Happy Holidays!

Disclaimer: I received a free Race Ragz shirt to try out for this review. I received no other compensation for this post, and all opinions are my own.