Holiday Gift Ideas for Active People

I am writing this post on my own free will; however, when one of the companies I was going to write about asked about sharing information of their product I asked if they would host a giveaway. Hey, I was planning this post anyhow so why not  make it sweeter? In addition, some items may be linked to other sponsored posts but I am only doing so because I LOVE the product(s) and want to share. I am receiving no compensation in any way, shape, or form for this post.

It is that time of year again - the time when you are thinking about gifts and if your house is anything like mine, dear hubby is asking me a zillion times what I want. How about peace on Earth? That would be cool! But that is hard to package and put under a tree and sometimes loved ones want to do a bit more so here is my gift of 10 ideas that I feel will be great as holiday gifts!
  • Apera Bag: I have been using my Apera Bag since the beginning of the year and I am still head over heels in love with it. I have not ever used it as the traditional gym bag but instead, I use it as my everyday purse and travel bag. I love the side pockets and that I can put a drink in them or other items. And the smaller pockets are ideal for my phone, keys, charger, etc. I can't imagine life without this bag! Imagine how great it would be as an official gym bag! The perfect gift for someone you love.
  • GPS Running Watch: I have running apps on my phone but for some, that just won't work. Such as dear hubby. He would smile from ear to ear to receive a GPS running watch to track his miles and time on his runs. In all reality, I can't say I would complain if I got one too since the app takes up so much battery power on my phone and I can't use it for runs longer than 20 miles...and sometimes not even the 20 miles if I am going slower. Hmmm.....Santa, are you listening?
  • Polar Loop: I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my Polar Loop even though I did take it off for awhile during training when I was getting too focused on the numbers. I know there are tons of activity monitors out there so pick what works best for your loved one. I love getting the goal fireworks and yes, you should splurge and get the additional heart rate monitor. My only complaints are I can't hook it up with my older version phone and I can't seem to set my own personal activity goal. It goes my age, weight, gender and in all reality, that is fine! I mainly use it to ensure I actually REST on my rest days. 
  • Running Clothes: It goes without saying that a streak running would have a passion for running clothes and my closet and drawers support clearly demonstrate that. Thing is, buying clothes for someone may be a bit tricky unless you really know what they love. I can buy running clothes for dear hubby, no problem. Bright colors please! But for me, his safest bet would be to just get me a gift certificate to Running Skirts and let me go from there or have darling daughter look with him online to pick out my color loves. The sizing there is a bit different though so they may just walk away confused.
  • Running Shoes: Once again, when you run every day you go through shoes like crazy but I am pickier than anything about my shoes. First, they must be Saucony but not any Saucony will do. They must be the models I run in. This makes it easier for you to do your detective work and look at what your running love loves to run in and go get those! But here, on Maui, getting the shoes I love on island is near impossible. So why not make your gift give more? When you purchase running shoes from Kindrunner you will receive a shipping label to send back old shoes, at no cost to you, to be given a once-over fix-me-up and be donated to someone really in need of shoes. Still unsure of what shoes to buy? Give a Kindrunner gift certificate
  • Log Book: I am a firm believer in logging your workouts and sometimes, my food intake too. It is a great way to ensure I am getting my proper fill of freggies and water. Just recently I was feeling a bit down that dear hubby doesn't log his workouts and with his ongoing knee/leg issues I think a log would come of real value. You can look back on your training and perhaps find that aha moment to prevent further injuries. If you want to give the gift of logging fitness and nutrition, fitbook is great!
  • Protein Powder: I end most of my workouts with a cup of protein powder and since I am dairy free, I am picky. I LOVE the VegaSport Performance Protein and it does taste just fine mixed solely with water especially the chocolate. However, please think about what your loved one would like and meet their needs and desires, not mine. Dear hubby does just fine with whey protein and don't ever get him chocolate!
  • Gels: For your endurance loving friends and family gels or blocks make perfect stocking stuffers. Personally, I am loving the Huma gels as they are all natural and perfect for me. Dear hubby goes for Clif Shot Bloks. It seems I may be the pickier one in our household as my loves require going online. Thank goodness for dear hubby I can easily stop in a store to restock his fuel if needs be.
  • ShowerPill Athletic Body Wipes: I found out about these things years ago and let me tell you, they are still AWESOME after a race. I thought I was out of them and discovered one way down in a drawer, my running top drawer by the way. It was the perfect wipe for after the Maui Marathon and in all reality, this is just when you want one of these. Post race. Okay, if you are running your training run and going straight to running errands, they will work then too. You can read my initial review of this product HERE but that coupon code is no longer valid. The good news is I can give you a new one today! These make great stocking stuffers so go ahead and use the coupon code runner10 by December 31, 2014 for 10% off. The coupon code is good on their website and at Amazon.
To make things even sweeter for you, remember me saying I asked a company if they would do a giveaway? It was ShowerPill and they agreed to give a box of ShowerPill Athletic Wipes to TWO of my readers.  Now that is something to be thankful about! I am going to keep this short and sweet so they will have time to get your information so you can receive your wipes by Christmas.

Two winners will be randomly selected on December 3rd. If I do not hear back from the within 48 hours, another winner will be selected. Product will be delivered directly from ShowerPill. Giveaway void where prohibited by law. Good luck!

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Daily Gratitude: I am thankful to be able to offer this giveaway.
Daily Affirmation: I am blessed!


Motivation Monday

"Do you know that in a race all runners run, but only one receives the prize? 
So run that you may obtain it."
~ 1 Corinthians 9:24

But remember, your prize isn't necessarily winning 1st place. The prize can be so much more. The joy of doing your best, of running for a higher purpose, of not giving up, and so forth. Often I feel the greatest prizes are the ones you least expect and go to the most ordinary of people. I do not run to get 1st place. I run to set a great example that I would be proud my daughter follows. I run to inspire others to get out there and try. I run for Toby. I run for me, my spirit, and God.

Have a beautiful Monday!

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for my life.
Daily Affirmation: My priorities are coming clear.


Friday Favorites: Oats & Peanut Butter

It's Aloha Friday and I want to share two of my favorites with you!

Coach's Steel Cut Oats AND Earth Balance Coconut Peanut Spread

I eat this at least five days a week for breakfast and can't imagine eating any other kind of oats again. I like that it is 100% oats and can be purchased in a large resealable bag from our local Costco. It saves me a bit of money and that is quite important when you are feeding a family with two runners and a growing girl! And yes, darling daughter LOVES these oats too.

I keep the preparation really simple and you can read more about my perfect bowl of oats but not every day is the same. Today, it will just be oats and all natural coconut peanut spread. This peanut butter rocks the boat so I had to tell you about it. Seriously, you should try this stuff from Earth Balance. It is vegan and non-GMO and I keep a bottle at work by my desk...for my daily oats of course! To be completely honest, the price tag on this is a bit high...or at least at the local grocery store on Maui but it is worth it and I only use a bit with my oatmeal. Yum, yum, yum!

Stay tuned for more Friday Favorites and I promise you, they won't all be food!!

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for nutritional and yummy food.
Daily Affirmation: I fuel my body well.


Book Review: Unstoppable - Running the Race you were Born to Win

I truly do love to read and wish I had so much more time to do so. I like a variety of books but if you combine running with faith, I am instantly sucked in!

Today I am reviewing the book Unstoppable: Running the Race you were Born to Win by Christine Caine. First, let me say, this book was a gift to me from my wonderful buddy, Toby, and his mom. When I read this on the back cover tears started flowing, "But many times in our race, we're burdened and intimidated by life's challenges along the way. The task seems too tough, the path too perilous, the race too rigorous."

These words fell into my hands weeks after the Maui Marathon and about the time I was feeling burdened and driven to change my race day goals for the Honolulu Marathon. Talk about perfect timing!

Now I said I love books about running and faith and even though this book talks about "running your race" many, many times it is a metaphor for running your race in life not running per se. But the lessons for life and running are there on every page, leaping out to me, reminding me, and teaching me to not give up, to push forward, to take the next baton in my relay, and to do so joyfully.

The book contains real life stories of those involved in A21. I had never heard of A21 before this book so let me tell you, their goal is to prevent human trafficking, protect those who have been trafficked and to provide necessary support to them, to prosecute traffickers and strengthen the legal response, and to form partnerships to provide a comprehensive front against trafficking.

But even though A21 forms the basis of the stories, and the tales can be quite sad, the book overall is uplifting with verses that really penetrate deep into the meaning of our life and our race. It promotes teamwork and doing your best without fearing tasks that seem too big. It provides suggestions on what to do when you are feeling challenged, when your passion is dwindling, when you feel downtrodden and frankly exhausted. These are all normal human responses and you will discover how and why these represent areas of personal growth.

I absolutely LOVED this book and feel it is one I will read again and give to darling daughter to read when she is older. I am so thankful for the batons handed to me - including this book that was handed to me by my buddy's mom. I feel it has already begun to change my life as my eyes continue to open to see things that others may over look, to reach out when others may walk away, and to stand in the rain if it means someone else's day is brightened.

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for God's unconditional love.
Daily Affirmation: I am running my race with perseverance. 


Just Click "REGISTER"

I did it. I signed up for another marathon before racing the one next month. Isn't it funny how life works that way? And these two marathons will be just over a month apart. This has me feeling really good!!!

You see, weeks ago dear hubby told me he was going to sign me up for the Maui Oceanfront Marathon if I didn't break 4 hours at the Honolulu Marathon. I told him nope. I wanted a break from marathon training after Honolulu. With my roller coaster of hurdles since Maui this makes sense but when talking to my coach this weekend the Maui Oceanfront Marathon popped into my mind. I was trying to say how I didn't want to do it but guess what? I did feel an inkling that yes, I should do it!

Yes, my training has been off but my reasons have been solid. I still have endurance as my 20-miler last week showed. I am not 110% happy with every run but who is? And yes, this sounded great!

And today I did it. I hit REGISTER. I will be running a marathon on Maui again on January 18th. Yippee!

Ironically, when I was filling out the form it had a lot of other questions and I stumbled on one. How many marathons have you run? Hmmm....yes, I did have to go to my blog, look at my race results, and count. Does anyone else have to do this or do you remember? By the way, I have run six.

P.S. I just realized I will now be running a marathon a mere two weeks - minus one day - before the race I am directing will hit the roads!

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for the support of fellow race directors.
Daily Affirmation: I GOT THIS!


5 Tips to Sleep like a Baby

With the ongoing challenge of sleeping well recently, I think today is a GREAT day to remind myself, and all of us, of 5 tips for better sleep and to sleep like a baby.
  1. Have a bedtime schedule and routine: Try to go to bed and get up at the same time each and every day. I do this within an hour or so but am more consistent these days than in my past. And yes, I have  routine, especially for darling daughter. She brushes her teeth (and I set my alarm), we read our bible verses, her devotional, and then a story book just for fun. It is then lights out for some song time and she drifts to sleep. I then chill with dear hubby before going through my bedtime routine of brushing teeth etc. and cuddle up to sleep. Done!
  2. Have a good sleep atmosphere: Yes, a comfy bed and a cozy room are conducive to a good night's sleep. And I try to keep the temperature somewhat comfortable but with no central air we are tied to what the weather is outside; however, I am quite the master of having windows cracked open just right. Is it still too warm? Sprinkle baby powder on the sheets and for some reason, that makes things seem cooler.
  3. Have an active day: We all see it...kids who ran and ran all day zonk out at night. It works for adults too! Just be careful of when you get moving. Too close to bedtime and you just may get an adrenaline rush instead of a soothing night sleep.
  4. Manage stress: This is a BIG one for me and I know when stress is taking over as instead of sleeping I am pondering a million things. I find it hard to quiet my mind but do know yoga and meditation can help a lot! I just need to incorporate a relaxation yoga session on those nights before bed. Yes, I am reminding myself of that right now. Do you worry about forgetting stuff? They why not keep a notepad by your bed? Write down what you need to do and go to sleep. I wish it was that simple for me. I worry about things I have no control over hence the need to let it all go. One go-to I love is essential lavender oil - a bit on each temple or a spritzer on your pillows is sure to ease your mind.
  5. Watch what you consume: Yes, alcohol may make you feel sleepy but later on, it will disrupt your sleep cycle. Personally, I love to have a hot cup of nighttime tea after darling daughter is in bed. I do this most nights and probably should have last night. It may have helped soothe my mind.
But sometimes, you do everything right and then...kaboom! You are up again. That was me last night. I woke up to bumps in the night that sounded like someone digging in gravel under our house. There is no gravel there that I am aware up but we do have some nearby. I did get up to investigate and saw nothing and no, I didn't go outside. I did try to wake dear hubby but that was pointless. He sleeps like a log...so much that last night I pondered if I would even be able to wake him if it was a real emergency versus me being scared over noises that probably had a good reason...or not. We still get that someone banging on our shed noise here and there. But you see, I am always fine except for not being able to go back to sleep.

For over an hour I tried calming my mind, I had the lavender oil, I tried counting sheep (that never works - my mind always starts focusing more so I don't lose count), I thought about getting up to run (that would probably wake dear hubby with my luck and make him mad I was running at midnight AND it would energize me), so I grabbed my water, moved into darling daughter's bed, and fell back to sleep in no time. The magic of changing things up! Or just removing yourself from the snores and frustration of someone sleeping beautifully when you are struggling to get back to sleep!

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful moving rooms put me back to sleep.
Daily Affirmation: I can manage my stress and sleep better.


A healthy, sweaty holiday - Are you in?

Amanda's image
It is that time of year again. The time of year when Amanda at Run to the Finish offers her Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge. This is her 7th year of doing this and my 4th year of participating and guess what? Things are shaking up! This year Amanda and Sweat Pink have come together and registration for the Holiday Sweat Challenge is now open!

When I first joined years ago the challenge was free but let me tell you, it is worth the small fee of $16 and hey, Amanda does need to pay to ship those awesome prizes out to you! You can only do so much from the goodness of your heart, right? And seriously, $16 is nothing much. In the olden days I would have just said, hey, I will give up a morning bagel and coffee here and there. Thing is, I have given those up. I no longer go to the deli each work day for breakfast. I bring my own now. It is healthier and the deli has closed. Those have nothing in common. I am just saying, I couldn't even go now if I wanted to.  And how many of us pay a little something here and there for a gym membership (I used to, I quit that too), yoga classes (I bought an app for only $1.99 or something like that), Starbucks (an occassional treat), etc.

But what do you get for $16? Six weeks of awesomeness! Let me tell you, the facebook group with this challenge is my number one reason for returning. The support is beyond amazing and I have never seen it anywhere else online. Never! Well, never until I joined I Run for Michael but that is completely different and yet just as awesome.

Support not your thing? Okay, maybe you are not big into logging into facebook and sharing hurdles and accomplishments so how about friendly competition? How about the thrill of earning points by being active, eating freggies, and drinking water? Yes, I have actually stayed on the treadmill for one more mile to get one more point. It is motivating when things may be hectic and trying to pull you away from your priorities. And what about prizes? Do they interest you? I still have my shorts and running top I won a couple of years ago and each time I put them on to run, I think of this challenge and the wonderful ladies I have met along the way. I think of my accomplishments and how I have grown healthier over the years. I think of the days I drank diet coke and now, no more. I think of the days when I ate less freggies and often had dehydration headaches. And I know by the end of this 6-week challenge I will find something new in me. Something to propel my forward on my path of wellness. Something worth mentioning a year from now to readers like you.

So go ahead, sign up for the Holiday Sweat Challenge, and sign up. Please tell Amanda I sent you!

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful Amanda is still hosting this challenge.
Daily Affirmation: I am going to SWEAT PINK through the holidays!

Still not convinced? Check out my recommendation from last year and from 2012.


5 Days of Real Food - take 2

When I posted about eating real I was about to embark on a journey/challenge with other ladies to Kelly Choose-Health was having with facebook, her challenge was delayed a week. So I did what seemed right, I did a solo trial run myself last week.
really look at what we are eating and consume only real, whole foods for 5 days. Due to technical difficulties

Please note, I am not a food blogger so my pictures are not the best but I did continue to share them, well, most days, for accountability reasons.

Last week taught me quite a bit to bring to the plate this week for the official challenge.

First, remembering to take pictures of my meals is tough! And then if I do remember I feel really odd taking a picture of my lunch in front of my co-workers and hope I can sneak a picture in at dinner time without dear hubby shaking his head at me wondering what am I up to now. I completely dropped the ball on Friday.

Second, as much as I thought I ate pretty good, and still believe that, I did discover I have cravings and/or habits that turn me to prepared, packaged food. The first day all I could think of was crackers. The second day I just wanted to eat bread. By the third day those cravings tamed down and I began to notice my hunger level decreasing some too. However, I was still struggling at what to eat before my workouts when I usually grabbed a graham cracker. This week, I will try almonds.

Third, meal preps on the weekends is HARD and time-consuming. To avoid turning to frozen meal ideas such as chicken wontons or no chicken chicken (as we call it), I was preparing two dinners on Sundays so I would have something to heat up on Monday after darling daughter's horse lessons. Her lessons last practically up to dinner time so I need to be ready. Add in making my salads for the week and I am wiped out!

Fourth, I had fun coming up with new dinner ideas and found it was easier to be vegetarian with my focus on real foods as long as I was prepared and cooked up batches of beans. Yep, more meal planning.

Fifth, I don't do well with too much fruit. It makes me feel yucky so this week I am turning to veggies for my snacks. Let's see how that works!

And finally, I love balsamic vinegar. Yes, I always knew this but often it was mixed with oils or other things. Last Monday I tried it solo on my salad and the flavor shocked me. Fast foward to today, I can't imagine anything else on my salad. It is wonderful!

Did I stick to my real fool only over the weekend? Nope. I had a bagel and some graham crackers too but I am not getting down on myself. I will always eat some prepared things here and there I think. Just being honest. Life is too short to be all or nothing but I am glad I am getting more real in what I eat.

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for a second week of this challenge.
Daily Affirmation: I am learning how to fuel my body perfectly for me.


5 signs you need a break

You have big goals. You have a training plan. You are determined to stick to it even though you feel blah. You tell yourself you are tough by sticking through the blah and then....it all falls apart.

Fortunately, I haven't really gotten to the it all falls apart yet since I really do think I do a good job of listening to my body on most days. Yes, I said on most days. Some days I have a hard time determining if my body is lying to me -- or more accurately, I am making excuses out of fear.

Since the Maui Marathon my running hasn't been ideal. But before I go further, let me tell you the 5 signs I look for to determine if I really do need a break versus having long run anxiety, etc.

These are my five tells and many can be indicators of overtraining. But for me, these are the things I focus on and listen to on a regular basis. But what do I do?
  1. Fatigue: Go to bed early and ensure I get a good couple of night's sleep. If this doesn't remedy things I know something is up.
  2. Moodiness: Look to see if there is a reason such as stress or hormones. If not, focus on relaxing through yoga and prayer. If this doesn't alleviate my moodiness, something is up.
  3. Aches: Ask myself if the aches or balanced (ie. both legs hurting) or not. If it is unbalanced, such as one hip, have I been stretching? Did I injure it? Is there a reason? I tend to pull back miles with aches to avoid further injury but if I have a dull achy feeling all over, something is up.
  4. Decreased performance: Is there a reason? I totally expect a run after a hard effort to have decreased performance so if that is ruled out, cut back to one mile days and/or look at my motivation level. Perhaps I need to change things up and run outside, a different run goal, etc. If that doesn't fix things, something is up.
  5. Loss of focus: When I become scatter-brained there is usually something up and I don't mean the simple moments here and there when I may ask darling daughter what I was about to do. I mean a longer loss of focus where I feel a bit lost on the meaning or purpose of my life. I know this may sound deep and no, I don't know the meaning of life but I do know my goals each day whether at work or personally. When I lose sight of those, or worse...don't care, I know something is up.
Why am I telling you all this? One, it may help you. Two, I love honesty and being accountable. Plus, recently I had all five of these signs knocking on my door. I slept more, I eased back my run intensity, I focused on eating well to aid in muscle recovery, I did yoga, I prayed, I soaked in Epsom salt baths, I ran outside, I prayed some more and finally....I emailed my doctor. It dawned on me that my chronic issue was out of control and I asked for assistance. I got anti-virals and they helped....except for that spot on my leg. It was getting worse. I went in to see the doctor, found out I had a spider bite that got infected with Staph, got more meds, and guess what? I am almost done with that round of antibiotics and I feel like me again.

In this case, I needed more that a physical break, I needed help but sometimes just taking the time to slow down and smell the roses is all you need to reinvigorate your training. Please, listen to your body.

I am so thankful I was able to progress through all of this without harming my body. I continued to run every day and tried not to feel too down that my mileage was dropping and my long runs weren't happening. I changed my marathon goals and I am so glad I did. The joy of running AND training is back in my heart. My running this week is close to the plan but not there 100% and that isn't because I felt off but because I am juggling so much. I am not complaining. In all reality, I am fine with it since my previous week's have been off I feel running less this week will result in a safer weekly mileage increase. I am happy and for the first time in weeks, I actually feel confident I will nail my long run tomorrow. I don't know if I will nail the x-miles at goal marathon pace, yes, I still have a training goal marathon pace, but I don't doubt I can bust at 20 miles....even at home!

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for doctors who care.
Daily Affirmation: I know when to ask for help.


The return of the Clif Bar Seasonal Flavors

This is a sponsored post. I received six  seasonal flavored bars from Clif Bar to share. I am receiving no further compensation for this post. The opinions expressed are solely my own and I did not promise a favorable review.

It is that time of year again. The time when Iced Gingerbread, Pecan Pie, and Spiced Pumpkin Pie Clif Bars hit the shelves and I am excited to pay the goodness forward and share one of each flavor with one of you!

When I first posted a picture of these bars via social media a follower asked me why I choose Clif Bar. I was completely honest and said these bars were given to me and went on to express I am not a huge bar eater. Why? Often the bars taste or texture turn me off. I have tried many brands and I don't want something super sugary and I don't want to feel like I am eating cardboard. These bars are different. They are actually quite yummy.

First, straight from the mouth of my Clif Bar contact, "CLIF Bars are made with 70 percent organic ingredients and are a good source of protein. All Clif Bar & Company foods have zero grams trans fat, and do not contain partially-hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors or synthetic preservatives. But they are not dairy free."

Yikes! If you know me I am a dairy free type of gal but don't you fret. I went through this same discussion a year ago when talking to the company and although not all of their bars are dairy free, these were...at least a year ago. I must confess, I didn't read the labels to ensure no production change and I haven't eaten one yet. Why? I may be tempted to not share! And if you want to read more about how I feel about these bars, check out this post.

What makes me happier is that Clif Bar is now donating 1% of their net sales to Protect Our Winters. That makes me happy. I love companies that give back. Side note: My full-time job is working at a local non-profit....donations make me very happy! The mission of Protect Our Winters is unite and actively engate the global snow sports community to lead the fight agaist climate change. For those of you who know I live on Maui please don't laugh too hard about me caring about snow sports. That local non-profit I work for...our mission is to protect our oceans through science and advocacy. Climate change will impact us all but today let's not get into the debates that swirl around climate change instead let's focus on goodness. You want to try some Clif Bars!

The giveaway will be open for a week for entries. I will randomly select the winner next Thursday, November 13th, via Rafflecopter. Due to the fact that I will be paying the shipping myself, the winner must be in the United States or Canada. If the winner does not get back to me within 72 hours an alternative winner will be selected. 

Good luck!
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Daily Gratitude: I am thankful that Clif Bar is supporting a cause.
Daily Affirmation: I may the world a better place by paying it forward.