Live Blogging from the Fitness & Health Bloggers Conference in Boulder

I had a pretty rocking time at the Fitness & Health Bloggers Conference in beautiful (and super sunny) Boulder, Colorado. Part of the three-day event entailed live blogging — hyper-speedily. It’s like dating — meeting a potential love-match and drawing conclusions in the first few seconds of meetings. Sometimes, it all comes down to the first hand shake. Seriously.

Here’s the low-down on the amorous brands I met during the Live Blogging session at the Fitness & Health Bloggers conference:


1. Whey Protein Powder Supplements, presented by Optimum Nutrition

  • Founded in 1985 as a sports beverage
  • Comes in handy, tote-able sticks you empty into a bottle of water
  • Only 1100 calories per scoop
  • Available at most grocery stores

Optimum nutrition gold standard whey protein powder has a very, very light flavor — And is and overall excellent supplement. It smells good. I found this product is excellent for women who want to mix tasty whey protein shakes. I sampled this powder during the Live Blogging session and drank a full scoop  bottle to fuel up before our 19-mile mountain bike ride with Colorado Wilderness Rides and Guides.

Verdict: When you need a convenient way to refuel with electrolytes, definitely consider Optimum supps in the future..


2. Detour Bars

  • Has a Snickers consistency
  • Aftertaste is a bit off-putting to me (yuck)
  • Tastes like any other packaged protein bar I’ve haddetour

There’s a reason I stopped eating protein bars, unless I’m driving cross-country and need a semi-healthy snack quickly procured at the gas station in Missouri. Otherwise, I’m not likely to eat this again, ever. In fact, I’d probably prefer to go hungry.

Verdict: Nasty. However, I gave a bar to my boyfriend who ate it on the plane home. He looked at me and said, “This is really good!”


3. Larabar and Cascadian Farm Organic Granola presented by Heather (@heatherdcRD) from Small Planet Foods

  • I’m already a Larabar fanatic. It’s the only snack bar I eat.
  • I snatched up samples of Larabar like chasing dollar bills in the wind
  • I said to the entire table I was at, “Larabars are fantastic.” (overzealous, much?)
  • I gobbled up the dry sample of the Cascadian Farm Organic granola.
  • I gave a box of the granola to my boyfriend for breakfast. He LOVED it.

Verdict: Nom, nom, nom! I will be happily munching on Larabars as long as I have teeth. And if you’re a fan of granola, definitely check out Cascadian Farm.

4.  Skinny Margarita with Casa Noble Tequila

  • Free drinks!
  • Made with Casa Noble Tequila
  • Certified organic
  • From a sustainable distillery
  • Ouch – Tequila is $48 a bottle
  • 12 grams of sugar in 1 ounce

I had to read the label. When I saw the sugar count, I turned to Suzanne (aka @WorkoutNirvana) and asked, “Isn’t that high?” Then I took a sip. Mmm, tasty! With no salt added to my rim, I thoroughly enjoyed this simple, three-ingredient, all-natural margarita. And no, it’s not affiliated with Bethenny Frankel. This was so good, I ended up having 1 1/2 margaritas. Good thing the Live Blogging was the last thing we did Saturday before dinner.

Verdict: If you want to shell out $48 for tequila, pick up Casa Noble. I’m not a big tequila person, and I tend to stay away from cocktails because they can be dangerously high in sugar.

Bonus! Here’s the Skinny Margarita recipe:

Skinny Margarita
2 oz Casa Noble Crystal
1 oz fresh lime juice (or the juice of 1 whole lime)
¾ oz La Sierra agave nectar (or other organic agave nectar)

Method: Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake, strain and serve up or on the rocks. Garnish with a lime wheel. To salt rim – moisten rim of glass with lime and gently roll in a plate of kosher salt.


5. Jovial Foods

  • I love the name of the company.
  • They gave us einkorn pasta, high in protein and fiber.
  • They also gave us gluten-free brown rice pasta to try too.
  • Cooks fast, in like 13 minutes.
  • You can find Jovial Foods at Whole Foods.

This isn’t something you can necessary try at the conference, unless munching on dry pasta is your thing. The night we got home, I made the einkorn pasta and paired it with baked salmon, spinach, and red pepper slices. Uhm, yum! I know there’s a reason I gave up pasta (I can eat my weight in it), but einkorn had me reconsidering my decision. My boyfriend enjoyed it very much too!

Verdict: Two big pasta-eating thumbs up!


6. Gluten-free Rudi’s Bread

  • 90 calories a slice
  • 2 grams a fat
  • 135 mg sodium
  • 17 grams carbs
  • 1 gram fiber
  • 3 grams sugar
  • 1 gram protein
  • Store the bread in freezer — slices thaw out fast
  • Not vegan, as it contains egg whites

Rudi’s served us small peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. They were tasty! Usually gluten-free bread is a bit nasty and flaky. Rudi’s was not like this at all. I’m happy to find a gluten-free bread out there that actually tastes good.

Verdict: Get it!

7. PopChips


  • Air-popped
  • Not baked or fried, ever
  • Comes in many different flavors
  • Only 100 calories a bag

I can get down with some crunch. These PopChips are good! Lucky us, we got to take a whole sample box with us. I shared with my boyfriend, who said, “I love PopChips. Remember, I used to buy these.” I didn’t remember. I try not eat too many bagged snacks. You know, once you pop, you can’t… Anyway, I don’t have the guilt and salty fingertips after eating PopChips. Rest assured, the entire sampler box was very much enjoyed by not one – but two – PopChips fans.

Verdict: Mmm! Bet you can’t eat just one.

Thanks goes out to the Fitness and Health Bloggers Conference for letting us be courted by some healthy brands. It was one of my favorite parts of the entire conference!


Don’t do what I just did!

Wow, oh, wow.

Today, I forgot my wallet. I only realized this as we were headed to the security gate to catch our flight, leaving in an hour to Boulder. Oops. (That’s the PG version of what I probably said.)

I give John props. He was calm and cool, with only slight frays at the edges. Me, I was a silent and churning hot-bed of major freak-out.

It took John about 20 seconds to realize what I said — and that I wasn’t kidding. Yes, sometimes I do cry wolf and make the most obnoxiously inappropriate jokes about things left behind and missing data. Yeah, yeah. Funny to me, not funny to other people.

With little choice, we bolted back outside, hailed a cab where we weren’t suppose to (I practically dropped to my knees, begging) with a driver who, it became apparent after we pulled away from the curb, didn’t know Boston very well as we got turned around TWICE (this after we told him “uhm no” to taking us down one of Boston’s busies streets during morning rush hour).

We made it miraculously to our house. I had been counting down every minute lost.

After I threw myself at my gym bag to retrieve my wallet, I jumped back into the cab with a driver who — ugh — on the way back, chose the slow route. Then he got confused that there was event a fast route through south Boston; he kept slowing down at every alley road and one-way street. Seriously?

This is when full-blown panic set in. I calmed myself and called Jet Blue. “You’re going to lose the call in the tunnel.” Oh, curses! Lucky enough, I didn’t, and Michelle — a.k.a. an even-toned and friendly Jet Blue voice — let me know my options. There weren’t many, but it was better than none.

Fortunately we had been super suave the night before by checking into our flight and printing our boarding passes. And we had no bags to check.

We got to the airport with 15 minutes to spare before they were set to close my gate. I took off in a full sprint — wheeled carry-on bag and heavy laptop bag in tow. “You better watch it,” I teased to a man who took one nervous step in my path.

We nearly toppled over the security line entrance. The woman there (bless her) unhooked the express lane and let us through. We threw our  laptops, cameras, belts, toiletries and shoes practically at the TSA agent’s heads, rushed through the scanner, and put all our stuff haphazardly back in the bags with shaking hands (got to love adrenaline; it was rushing through my veins like a busted drain pipe).

Once past security, we turned in the expectation to make a full Usain Bolt-like performance. But oh, there was our gate — like twenty feet away. They weren’t even boarding yet.

Whew. We made it!  And with time to spare. So, John grabbed a coffee. I was on, though. I could have crushed an engine block between my hands like it was an accordion.

Words to live by: Never Again. Nope. I’ll never again forget my wallet.

Now I’m typing this from Boulder on the very same day I had that god-awful mad-dash to and fro and to the airport. All I can is, prayer and good karma works. We weren’t sure we were going to make it. Especially with a cab driver who wanted to take us down Storrow Drive at 8 a.m. in the morning. Are you kidding me? Take the back way, buddy. Yep, the way we told you. Now, speed up a bit, please…PLEASE. Tick, tock.

This whole crazy I-don’t-have-enough-excitement escapade was nerve-wracking, to under state the obvious.

I would have felt horrible if we missed the flight become of my absent-mindedness.  The irony — yes, there’s always some — is that my wallet was tucked in my gym bag, which it seldom is, because I stopped into City Sports on my way to the gym last night to pick up a pair of mountain biking shorts for a 19-mile ride I have on Sunday, courtesy of the Fitness & Health Bloggers Conference I’m attending.

Yep. It’s so good to be in Boulder right now. Unbelievable. This one’s going in the record book for the grandkids.


Just Own It

Yesterday, a couple interesting tweets came across my radar. This morning, as I walked into work, I thought more about them both. I got a tad distracted when a woman in scrubs blew cigarette smoke in my face. I thought, “Maybe I should finally write about how much smoking bothers me.” It doesn’t just bother me like a buzzing fly bothers me. It bothers me like running over a kitten with a lawnmower would bother me. But I don’t think now is the time for this asthmatic runner to rant about smoking.

Another time, perhaps. Really, you don’t want to get me started.

I’m beginning to realize every situation is a learning experience.

I didn’t let the lady in the scrubs steal my sunshine. I continued my walk into work with a smile on my face. I even said “Good Morning” to a couple. It’s amazing how fast and easily negative energy can swoop in. But positive energy can just as easily and quickly be let out into the world.

Just an observation.

Now, let’s discuss two things: mean girls and excuses.

Meanness sucks. Stop judging.

Apparently word is spreading that it’s not cool to workout in gear that someone else has deemed unsuitable for you. Want the scoop? Read it here.

To that, I say: butt out. Pun intended.

What I or anyone else wears is none of your business. I personally wouldn’t run in booty shorts, but that doesn’t stop me from admiring the women in confidence who tackle their runs in them. If you’re out there every day, striving to one-up your personal best (be it 30 seconds or 30 miles), you deserve to wear whatever is going to get you to the next milestone and celebratory moment.

The most important thing I’ve learned since starting my 10k training is that it’s all a mental game.

Overcoming fatigue, boredom, doubt… Heck, you got to do what you got to do to make every workout feel like the most amazing and liberating experience. At least, that’s how I feel. And if running in a cute, low-cut tank is going to get me there, so be it.

Me, I aspire to one day have the confidence to set out in Bermuda-style running shorts and a sports bra. No cover up. Just confidence.

Some people may look at me on any given day and disagree with something. My hair color, my tattoos, my choice of eye shadow. I don’t care. I’m not living for those other people. I’m living for me.

It’s not cool being mean. So cut it out.

And it’s not cool to make excuses. Let’s talk about that now, shall we?Yesterday Katy Widrick (who I finally met in person at the Healthy Living Summit – what a cool gal!) posted something that had me wanting to stand up with 1,000 amen’s.

The gist:

People who make excuses but then envy – vocally – your healthy lifestyle are people who need to either stop making excuses and get to moving, or they need to own the fact that something in their life is preventing them from changing. Either way, it’s belittling and frustrating to hear others openly admire someone who has worked their butt off to get healthy when they’re just going to continue sticking both hands in the Cheetos.

I used to go hog wild over snack food like chips. I used to use the same old lines everyone else did – no time, too tired, no money, blah blah blah.
Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 7.44.21 PM

So, let’s recap –

There is always going to be someone who judges what you wear. Pay them no mind. If you’re out there working out – heck, running in bikini bottoms that make you feel strong and capable – then keep doing your thing. You have to do what you need to do to keep the motivation and inspiration alive.

Excuses and excuse makers are part of life. For those of us who have worked hard to overcome our personal excuses, we are tired of people telling us they wish they could have what we have. Uhm, they can. You can. We all can. Even the guy in the next cubicle. It’s a matter of choice.

Today, tomorrow, each moment at a time — I choose to be active and healthy. I ain’t going back to my old ways of making excuses at every turn, picking up fast food burgers on the drive home, or feeling like I was a passive spectator in my own life.

Stephanie (a.k.a. Skinny Jeans) shared wise words with me recently: Just put on your shoes.

It’s effort, but it’s worth in. When in doubt, just push through it.

It takes strength and commitment every single day not to cave to cravings of ice cream. Or to not indulge when the moment presents itself. I’m talking to you, brownies and pitchers of craft beer. But what matters most is to keep your perspective. Remember who you once were and how you felt. Remember what you’ve accomplished, big feats and small. That woman on the couch with her hands in the Cheetos? She deserves better.

#Crushed It

It’s been a while since I #CrushedIt.

My first-ever 10k is days away – 12 to be precise – but I’ve been training since June. Despite the time I’ve put in and the progress I’ve seen (my asthma is much better), I admittedly have been doubting myself. Can I really run 6 miles without stopping? Will my asthma be okay on race day? What have I got myself into?

This Sunday, I have my pre-10k test: the Cambridge 5k. It’s going to be a fun, fun time (yes, running can be fun, I realize) especially with the teams that have signed up and the Oktoberfest costumes that will be in the race and on the sidelines. I think this 5k is just what I need to amp myself up for The Tufts Health Plan 10k for Women.

Last night when I set out on my run, I told myself that it was a good endurance test to run from the Esplanade over the Harvard bridge to MIT and back. Turning around is okay. That’s what I told myself. I had figured out the distance ahead of time: 1.7-ish miles there, 1.7-ish miles back.

“Run there and back. That’s going to be a great workout and the run you need before the 5k.” And so I ran from the gym to the Esplanade, and then over the Harvard bridge to Memorial Drive.

But I didn’t turn back. I kept running. I told myself I could loop around the other bridge, re-enter the Esplanade at Charles/Mass General and get in a little more distance and time.

Only thing is, I took the wrong turn. A runner’s fork appeared, and I kept right when I should have gone left. It’s the only time in the entire run that I stopped, for like three seconds to contemplate turning back. I stopped briefly to check the time. The sun was setting.

Then I kept running forward to see where the path would go.

I ran by this view of Boston.

And I just kept on running. Past Cambridgeside Galleria. Past the Museum of Science. Soon, I found myself on familiar ground, running alongside Storrow Drive until I was immersed in the Esplanade again, under the cover of the trees.

The sun had set by now, but I kept on running. I ran back up Dartmouth, alongside Comm Ave, back up Clarendon until I reached the gym again. Then I stopped. I checked the time and my pulse.

I was one hot ball of a sweaty mess. And I loved it.

U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program runner Capt. Kelly Calway of Fort Carson, Colo., finishes second among women in the 2010 Army Ten-Miler with a time of 57 minutes, 10 seconds on Oct. 24 at the Pentagon. U.S. Army photo by Tim Hipps, FMWRC Public Affairs

Post-run sweaty and tired, yet very proud of myself.

I know running is the reason I fit back into my skinny jeans.

But it’s also the reason, I truly believe, that I am feeling healthier, more confident, stronger, and more driven to succeed – not only in the 10k but in life as well. Running does something amazing to your body, sure; but running does something even more extraordinary to you mind, when you push through barriers and see just how far you can really go.

It’s not always about distance. It could be seeing if you could run 45 seconds, instead of 30. That’s where I began back in June. Little milestones along the way got me where I am today – able to run farther, more confidently. And, at times, more speedily.

Last night, I decided that I really needed to test myself. I’ve put in a lot of effort these past four months in preparing my lungs, my feet, my mind, and my overall body for a 10k.

Last night, in a little under an hour, I ran about 5.5 miles around the Charles River. It’s something I’ve never done before, nor is it something I ever even conceived of doing – running that path around the river, from Boston to Cambridge and back again. Not until last night, when I just said to myself, “Try it. Keep going. You can do this.”

Last night helped show me that my effort has been worthwhile, and that I can look forward to this weekend’s 5k and my first 10k with confidence.

What have you done lately to make you feel awesomely proud of yourself?