Miscellaneous

Engagement Party!

Gooooood morning, and happy Monday! How was your weekend? Mine was good! We were out of town for my sister-in-law's engagement party, which was a lot of fun! We were in charge of dessert and I was so pleased to stumble on Cakes by Tawanda and Extraordinary Cupcakes in Williamsburg. Both were a pleasure to work with on really short notice and, as you can see, the dessert table turned out beautiful! We focused on lilac, one of Amber's colors, which I'm sure we'll see a lot more of on the wedding day!

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The party was a lot of fun! We played a bunch of really fun games like the shoe game where the couple is quizzed on questions like "who does most of the cleaning?" Or, "who spends the most money," and they have to raise the right shoe to say who!

We also played a newlywed game with couples in attendance (including Aaron and I) and we had a lot of fun with that, answering questions like "what's your spouses favorite food?" and "how does your spouse like their eggs cooked?" As each of us answered, our spouse revealed their answer and whether it matched up. The game was really fun for everyone -- from four to 40 years married!

We tried to go out furniture shopping after the party because we move into our new place this weekend (!!!!!!) but we were so tired, we didn't last long! We're so eager to shop and buy things for the house, but we really need to get in there first and see what we need and what will work in the space.

On Sunday we went to church and then got on the road to come home. As you know, the Whole30 starts today and I hope I'm still going strong by the time you read this! :) I started reading the book and couldn't put it down! It's been such an eye-opener and I'm really glad I've decided to do this.

What did you do this weekend? 

Did you have an engagement party? 

Refresh Your Workout Regime: How to Plan Ahead

This is part of my monthly mantra series for October: Out with the old, in with the new!  refresh-your-workout-regime-how-to-plan-ahead

I once heard that 80 percent of our day is driven by habit; did you believe that?

I do. It sounds cliche but sometimes I really do feel like I'm 'just going through the motions,' in life. I wake up, get dressed, brush my teeth, drive to work, work... all without much thought at all!

The problem is that going through the motions often means perpetuating habits-- both good and bad. You know, like if you stop by Starbucks on the way to work everyday... that's awesome the first few days but then, it starts to add up and your bank account is suffering! Or, getting stuck at your desk all day, meaning to get to the gym (maybe even thinking you ought to go!), but not quite getting there. Days turn into weeks and the habit of going is no longer a habit; not going is!

It's funny because we often know this is happening when it occurs-- I should go to the gym! I shouldn't stop by Starbucks, but what happens? Habit wins out! But then maybe one day, BAM! You change it up -- you make it to the gym! You opt for water instead of coffee in the morning. You finally get to that yoga class you've been wanting to startup again or check out the CrossFit gym near your house.

It feels so good, right? Change!! Glorious change!

It's right there, guys. Right at our finger tips (I'm talking to myself here, too!)... it's just a matter of grabbing hold of it-- waking up from our slumber of bad habits and routines and taking charge of our schedule!

One of the easiest and most effective ways to do this? A little planning. Instead of just wishing and hoping you'll make it to the gym and thinking you ought to go, make a plan to go.

Pull out a little notebook or the notes in your iPhone and type it out! 

Ask yourself, 'how do I want to spend my weekend? What I do really want to do?'

This one simple trick that makes a huge difference! I know because I've been testing it out this past week and I'm getting there -- I'm finally getting back to the gym (though, I'm still stopping by Starbucks, Haha).

Writing it down makes it more real. It gets you out of your mind and into the mode of making it happen...

What tricks do you use to change old habits? 

Do you plan your workouts?

What helps you get to the gym?

Closing on our Condo: Tomorrow!

I haven't wanted to jinx it but the time has finally come: we close on our condo, TOMORROW! Our-Condo

I can't believe we're finally homeowners! This has been a long-time coming! I'm really happy with our purchase... we debated a big house in the burbs or a condo in the city, and I couldn't be happier with our decision. I am really excited to be able to walk to restaurants, the grocery store, and the bus stop (my commute is going to be 15 minutes)!

We close tomorrow but we don't actually move in until November because the sellers are renting it back from us. In the meantime, we're doing a lot of planning. When we take possession of the condo we're going to paint, add crown molding, and install a washer and dryer. Of course we plan to decorate, too! I can't wait!

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I love the natural light in the kitchen and dining room, which is great for food photography.

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I also can't wait to setup a new home office in the second bedroom. You can see my old office spaces here and here.

Did you paint as soon as you moved into your house?

Picking colors is hard!! Right now we like these colors, but it feels like such a commitment! Thankfully I got inspired after our walk-through and got to work on some inspiration boards! (Please ignore my misspelling of the word bedroom, ha!)

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Are you a home owner? 

Do you enjoy decorating? 

Introducing: Mantra of the Month

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Hello and happy first of October!

I'd like to introduce you to a new column, wherein I post a mantra-a-month that I'd like us all to adopt. I've thought long and hard about these mantras - they're catchy, easy to remember, and meant to inspire us to live better!

October's mantra is out with the old, in with the new.

Isn't that what Fall is all about anyway? We pull out the summer clothes in our wardrobe and put in new fall pieces; throw out our 2013-2014 calendar and seek to find a new, fresh calendar to start the year; trade in pool passes for pumpkin patches and altogether begin to switch gears. 'Get ready for the holidays' and embrace an earlier start to the day. And all the while, nature does the same -- as summer blooms fade and fall foliage fills the sky.

"Autumn is a second spring, when every leaf is a flower."  -Albert Camus

I don't know about you but as nature hits reset, I'm ready for one, too.

My year didn't go exactly as planned - there were a lot of goals that got overlooked, things I really wish I would have made progress on, and a bunch of old habits dying hard!

If I'm being honest these last few weeks (few months?) haven't gone at all as planned. I feel like a failure in a number of ways, from keeping my house clean to consistently blogging. And worse yet, the year is slipping through my fingertips - fast! - and I can't catch it, or catch up, with all my goals.

Anyone else feeling this way?

The cooler weather -- while lovely -- doesn't help either! It makes us inclined to slip in the bed and pacify our problems with pumpkin-flavored scones. Amiright? 

Well guys, I'm suggesting we resist that urge, hit the 'reset' button and use the changing season to change ourselves. Refresh our commitments and embrace 'out with the old, in the new!' And yes, there's still time this year! Here's a quick glance at what all this means for me:

+ Fast food, out. Meal prep, in!

+ Rushed mornings, out. Refreshed mornings, in!

+ Fitting in the gym when I can, out. Fitting life in around the gym, in!

+ Comparison, out. Focus, in!

+ Procrastination, out. Determination, in!

+ Excuses, out. Buckling down, in! 

What's on your out list?

Even if it's just one thing - out with gluten, out with smoking, or out with sugar - commit to it and when you're tempted, repeat this mantra to yourself: out with the old, in with the new!

On the blog you'll still see the usual CrossFit couples and posts from my fit bride and fit mom contributors, but you'll also notice me nudging us all get out of our life the stuff holding us back (see my list: comparison, procrastination, laziness, and a lack of planning), and pour in a lot more goodness!

So, whaddya you say? Wanna get refreshed? Hit reset? Give your goals another good effort?

Let's do this! We got this!

I'd love to hear your 'out with the old, in with the new' list in the comments.

What will be your mantra this month? 

Loving: Rustic Ring Bearer Boxes

It's been awhile since I shared a wedding detail I'm loving so I thought I'd pop in with a little wedding day detail today that's not workout related (if you're into that, check out yesterday's post)! These rustic ring bearer boxes are a favorite of mine! We had a ring bearer pillow but I love that a box could be used after the wedding; and not just stored out-of-sight like a small pillow. RingBearerBoxes

If you're looking for something really rustic, I absolutely LOVE the Rustic Craft Design shop on Etsy. They have a cute sliding lid and can be personalized with a monogram and your wedding date. I wonder, would it be weird if I ordered one? Just as a quick and easy storage spot for my wedding band on occasion?

RingBearerRusticWoodBoxBella Bride Creations | 2 Crystal Cove Design Studio |  3 The Paper Walrus

Bella Bride Creations | 5 Rustic Craft Design

Are you planning to have a ring bearer box or pillow?

Do you shop on Etsy? 

#TransformationTuesday

Hi guys! I'm starting a new series on the blog - #transformationtuesday! I'll either share a before and after photo, or a weight loss success story. These are wildly popular on social media so I figured why not bring a little more before and action to the blog? I have oodles of old photos and clearly, I have no shame! Haha!

#TransformationTuesdayWearing a crop top for the first time on New Year's Eve in Florence was such a new and exciting feeling! I remember thinking, Who am I? I felt totally transformed in this tight-on-tight ensemble, but maybe I liked it? You can tell by the way I'm swaying in this photo that I definitely did!

Crop tops - I'm learning - are awesome because they show just enough skin; not too much, not too little. I'm still self-conscious when I wear one, but hey, look how far I've come! These posts serve as a reminder of that! #proudmoment

What's something you've been able to wear since losing weight, or something you hope to wear when you do? 

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DO YOU HAVE A TRANSFORMATION PHOTO OR STORY YOU WANT TO SHARE? I'D LOVE TO FEATURE YOU! SHOOT ME AN EMAIL!

Weekly Challenge: Start Your Morning with Warm Lemon Water

Good morning friends and happy Monday! I hope you had a fabulous weekend! This week's challenge is really simple - start your morning off with warm lemon water! May-4-ChallengeSONY DSC

You've probably heard all the benefits of lemon water before, but I think Shape magazine does a good job of really laying out the major benefits: lemon improves digestion, detoxifies, and aids in mineral absorption!

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Starting the day with a big glass (or even chug!) of water flavored with lemon (or raw apple-cider vinegar - see those benefits here), will not only get your digestive juices flowing, it'll get you in the mindset of hydrating, which is so, so important, not just for weight loss but for workouts as well. Also, did you know that when you wake up in the morning, it's easy to misread thirst for hunger? A big glass of water will quench your thirst and may prevent overeating. However, be aware, more water means more trips to the bathroom! But that's a good thing! :)

SONY DSCIf you're still not convinced, read these few snippets from the Huffington Post on how lemon water can improve your morning!

Do you drink lemon water? 

What's the first thing you drink in the morning? 

April Post Round-Up

Hey guys! Even though we're a few days into May, I wanted to do an April post round-up! I've been feeling like a blog failure the last two weeks because work has been busy and my trip to New York derailed my usual weekend blog prep but, when I look back through the month, I realize it wasn't so bad after all! Most notably in April, we started the new weekly challenge series -- I'm curious, did you participate? I haven't heard much from anyone week-to-week with these so I'm thinking of adding a second follow-up post to check-in and share how we did; what do you think? I'm always looking for ways to improve this series so it's more effective!

There were two beautiful weddings on the blog this month and both were CrossFit couples! First, this pink and grey wedding with the SWAT officer and a surprise dance!

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Then, this awesome CrossFit first look - a true one-of-a kind!

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We had a little wedding real talk on what to do if you're worried about wedding day photos and I shared two new recipes: this coffee mocha protein shake...

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And a pepperoni frittata!

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We talked about crowding out and 11 healthy swaps, and I offered up a baby CrossFit workout for beginners!

On a more personal note, I had my 3rd wedding anniversary and a "me" day in April. I also did the benchmark workout, Elizabeth for the first time!

10151945_765203633504660_4351986148702281699_n I got a FitBit and love it! I blogged 5 ways to get moving more!

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I also shared my first time trying Soul Cycle and a wedding flashback!

As for my April goals, I got in a "me" day but not a blog day. I didn't make it to an Olympic Lifting Workshop yet either. Hopefully I'll get around to it this month -- Naomi, we should make a date of it! I'm still working on my e-book and trying to log my food regularly! In the meantime, here are my May goals:

-Begin a workout routine at work: Either go to my work gym at lunch or doing some variation of a workout midday (some squats or crunches). I'm NOT a fan of sitting in the same building, the same office for 8+ hours a day; not to mention the 30+ commute sitting in my car on the way there and back.

-Say no to traffic: Speaking of commute, I'd like to start parking my car at the metro and taking a bus to the office. Traffic makes me CRAZY! This would be more cost-efficient and also help with my tendency to stay late for no reason... Versus: "I gotta go catch my bus!"

-Spring cleaning... I might start this TODAY. My house is in desperate need of a good spring clean, especially my closet! I've fallen out of the habit of laying out my clothes in the morning and so, when I go to get dressed (and I'm in a hurry), there's nothing worse than sifting through a bunch of old, ill-fitting clothes! Time for a clean-out!

What are your May goals?

Do you have any big plans for Spring?

#ThrowbackThursday: Running to Relieve Wedding Stress

I'm sure you guys have seen the #throwbackthursday hashtag on Instagram that's quite popular. Well, I thought it would be fun to share an old post I wrote for Weddingbee.com back when I was in the midst of wedding planning for a little #tbt on the blog! It's hard to believe this post is nearly 3 years old and I'm still blogging (that makes me blush!) but it was written October 7, 2010, about 6 months out from the wedding! I made minor edits but the gist is still the same: exercise is a great stress reliever! Enjoy! :) Yeah, yeah, wedding planning is fun, but let's not fake, it's stressful too. There are a million (some might argue a gazillion) details to iron out and sometimes (a lot of the time) it breeds bridezillas! I'm not gonna lie either, I've had my bridezilla moments. Already. I don't think that's because I'm crazy or a psycho or selfish though, it was because I was stressed.

Don't worry. This is a mini-whine. I'm not stressed all the time. Somehow in my 25 years of life I've learned the very basic, very useful, and always-works trick to handling the stress of a million details: RUN.

No! Not run away! Just run. Workout. Do some cardio. Break a sweat. Lift some weights. Just run. It helps me tremendously. And the moment I think I don't have time to go to the gym, is the moment before I lose it!

This last year I started running races, too, which helps a lot. It keeps me running daily when I know a race is approaching. I know this isn't for everybody, but I love it. Let's just say I aspire to the running glories like Mrs. Trail Mix who defeated the Boston Marathon (She's my hero and I'll always love her Cheesy Marathon Wedding Metaphors too)!

It's always nice to know I'm not the only bride running to the wedding :)

Here's a picture of me before my first 5k:

Here's me after:

Do you see the euphoria?

The excitement?

The joy?

That's a stress-free smile, folks. Greatest moment ever... next to finishing a 10 miler! :)

So, what's the point of saying all this?

I think it's important for us brides to bow out of the planning process for a few minutes - everyday if we can! - and relieve our stress. What stress, you say? Let's pause and take a look back at my morning (all before noon):

  • coffee + breakfast
  • working
  • emailing with our planner
  • gchat with Mr. B about the emails with our planner
  • working
  • weddingbee post prep
  • working
  • emailing prospective/current vendors
  • gchat with Mr. B emails about vendors
  • working
  • emailing our invitation desiger + printer
  • gchat with Mr. B about the weekend
  • working

I'm not joking when I say that some days my fingers hurt from all the typing. :(

I get so caught up in the emails and lists and tasks and inspiration and blogs and - sigh! - I have to step back. No matter what is going on with work or wedding planning, I get up from my desk and leave the office at noon and take an hour for myself at the gym. And every single time, I am so, so glad I did.

At the gym, I give my mind a break from the wedding and from work. I get to think about my body,my personal fitness goals, and my health. It's my time and my place. And it never fails, I'm refreshed and ready to dive into it all when I get back.

And one last embarrassing admission: I'm look at emails and gchat on my cell on the way walking to and from the gym!! That's how hard it is to let go! I'd probably bring my phone with me on the treadmill if they weren't prohibited!

I know everyone can't go to the gym at lunch like me, but do you workout at all? 

Does it help you deal with wedding-related stress? What's your release?

Weekly Challenge: Try a Green Smoothie

Good morning guys! Happy Monday! I hope you are well rested from last week's challenge! This week, I'm asking you to try a green smoothie or juice! I love green smoothies - there's a multitude of flavor combinations, they're full of healthy ingredients, and are great when you're on the go! They're a great way to get in a serving or two of fruit and vegetables, but here's the trick: they often don't taste like veggies at all! Please share your favorite green smoothie recipes in the comments! I've listed a few of my favorite go-to flavors below! Try-a-Green-Smoothie

A few green smoothie resources:

Start here >> Green smoothie 101Top green smoothie recipes from simplegreensmoothies.com!

Already a green smoothie pro? Use this tip to make a month's worth of green smoothies in an hour! 

A good formula to follow when making green smoothies >> A Daily Detox Green Smoothie in 7 Easy Steps

The trick to saving greens! >> How to Freeze Greens for Smoothies

An awesome, easy, beginner's green smoothie recipe from 100 Days of Real Food.

Get really healthy with this coconut kale smoothie from my favorite blogger!

Or try my easy almond butter banana smoothie - yum!!

What's your favorite green smoothie? 

Discuss: Five Favorites

Hello again! I wanted to share a few of my favorite things today and thought it'd be fun if you played along!  Share your favorites in the comments!

Favorite Time of Day:

I recently discovered this! At the end of my work day, when I change into my gym clothes, it's the best feeling ever! There are some days I tell myself I don't want to go to CrossFit, because it's been a long day and I'm tired, but as soon as I get changed, I feel energized and excited!

Favorite Food:

A big ole' salad! In the evening, I like nothing more than making a huge salad with lots of throw-ins. The other night I had a salad with chunks of sweet potato and sunflower seeds. I only used oil and vinegar as dressing, but it was delicious! The following night, I stopped by the grocery store on the way to my mom's for dinner and made this salad at the salad bar - it was so good! I could live off salad alone!

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Favorite Store:

Can I have two? Ann Taylor and Loft! Loft is usually a little more affordable, but this weekend I went to the Ann Taylor outlet and there were some great sales! I snagged this top and skirt for less than $25! :)

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Favorite Song:

This changes quite frequently because I listen to the songs I like over and over, and eventually get sick of them! But at least for this week I'm loving Jay-Z's Part II (On the Run) feat. Beyonce. (Side note: I'm a HUGE Beyonce fan!!)

Favorite Quote:

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What's your favorite quote? Favorite food or time of day?

Share your favorites in the comments! 

What's your favorite song? Time of day? And favorite food? 

Weekly Challenge: Get 8 Hours of Sleep a Night

Good morning and happy Monday! I hope you had a fabulous holiday weekend! I enjoyed a full weekend of family and food! And I'm proud to report Cadbury Eggs 0: Sara 1 - I haven't given in! Woo hoo! This week's challenge could not be more timely; I'm asking us to get more sleep! Personally, this is something I struggle with a lot; I'm a night owl and have the hardest time waking up in the morning. But, when I get in enough sleep and have my clothes laid out for the next morning, nothing feels better than waking up rested and starting my day on the right foot! Also, sleep also has a lot to do with the way you LOOK!

Check out what sleep deprivation can do to a person:

SleepDeprivationThis infographic is from the Huffington Post.

Clearly there are a lot of issues that can stem from sleep deprivation, and much more serious ones than just the way you look! Breast cancer, brain tissue loss, and heart disease - pretty scary stuff!

I also know that sleep is an intricate part of any training program - sleep is when you're body gets stronger! And, most of you can probably tell a difference in when you sleep and when you don't during a workout!

This week, I challenge you to not only get 8 hours of sleep  a night, but to log it as well! Write down when you go to went to bed for sleep and when you woke up so that you can look compare how you felt on days with more sleep!

If you're not sure where to begin to accomplish this, here are a few tips:

// Complete darkness: Studies show sleeping in complete darkness is best. That means close the blinds and turn off the TV. Sleeping in darkness may help with weight loss too! 

// Log off at least an hour before bed: This is a tough one if you're a nighttime scroller like me, but one tip is to try plugging up your phone in a room away from the bedroom (like the kitchen or den), and get back to using an old school alarm.

// Sleepy time tea or sleep scents: Try using lavender or other relaxation-inducing scents to help your eyelids get heavy! I also love this Sleeptime tea and with a splash of honey it doubles as dessert. (Lavender has also been shown to help with anxiety!)

// Use ear plugs: If you're a light sleeper, try ear plugs to keep out nighttime noise that might disrupt your sleep! You may also want to try a sleep mask if you can't get your bedroom completely dark!

// Use a sleep monitor: One of my favorite features of the FitBit is that it can track your sleep patterns - it's really cool and shows you any periods you were restless. This will demonstrate just how much sleep you're actually getting and may prompt you to try to turn in earlier!

Good luck with this week's challenge!! Remember, I'll be doing it too!

What time do you go to bed and wake up most mornings? 

My New FitBit Flex & 5 Ways to Walk More Throughout the Day

Hey guys! Today I'm going to talk about the FitBit Flex. I just got one last week and already, I'm loving it! This little gadget is easy, fun to use and it's really doing the trick to make me move more!

When I setup the Fitbit, it automatically set my daily target to 10,000 steps, which is recommended by the American Heart Association. Can you believe I thought getting 10,000 steps a day would be easy? I've since learned it's not! And if I'm going to do it, I've got to vehemently resist society's sedentary lifestyle--driving to work and sitting at a desk all day-- and get moving!

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The FitBit is a great motivator, though! Just the other night I was waiting for Aaron to finish looking around REI (his favorite store, my least favorite) and when I double tapped my FitBit and saw that I was still several bars from reaching my daily goal, I decided I'd walk around the store to wait, not sit! I started walking laps around the store aisles and even though I might have looked a little crazy, I got an instant burst of energy and it wasn't long before I achieved another bar closer to my goal (which is an awesome feeling, btw)!

The flashing LED lights are probably my favorite feature (it makes checking my progress so easy!), but I'm also incredibly impressed with the battery life on this little guy-- it's amazing! I only charged it 60% the day I got it and it's been going strong for four days! (That's more than I can say for my cell phone!) Here are a few other things I love:

// It's waterproof: I can wear it in the shower or if I go swimming! I love that I don't have to think about it at all! I can hardly feel it on my wrist and I can wear it anywhere!

// There's two bands: Right now I'm wearing the smaller of the two bands around my wrist but it came with another band that is slightly bigger that can be worn around the ankle. I'm just so glad I don't have to wrap anything around my body and be uncomfortable. I can totally handle an anklet or wristlet!

// It syncs with my smartphone: It syncs with my computer and my smartphone! I can open the app anytime and see my friend's activity and my own stats: how many calories I've burned, steps I've taken, even sleep patterns! The app even has a really clean interface, too, which I love, and did I mention it has the ability to with MyFitnessPal too?

// There's a silent alarm: The wristband vibrates to alert me of alarms I've set, whether it's to wake up in the morning or remind me to make a call! I love having an alarm that's not connected to my phone, but still close by at all times!

// It's like a game: Have you heard the phrase Gameify? It's a word used to describe a unique way to get people intrigued. The idea is that if you gameify something, i.e., make it fun and like a game, people are more likely to use it. Well, there's definitely a gaming element to the FitBit (an easy one - I just double tap my wrist - that's it!) and I LOVE IT!

Alright, so, as much as I love this device and think that it makes moving a lot more fun, it still takes dedication do get going! Here are some things I'm doing to walk more throughout the day and make the most of my FitBit!

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When you have to go to the bathroom, walk to the furthest one.

I used to think working in a big building was annoying because the bathroom isn't right outside my office. But, since getting the FitBit, I'm now walking to an even further bathroom! I take the elevator down to the first floor, walk the length of the building to the bathroom and then back! It really helps add a few steps throughout the day!

Park further away.

I used to love getting the closest spot to wherever I'm going, but now I realize the value in a few extra steps. Again, I work in a big building with a big parking lot and it's not such a bad thing to have to walk further!

Treat your pup and go for a longer walk.

Now that it's nicer outside, I don't mind taking a long walk with my pup, which is great for him and me! I can get so many more steps just taking a longer walk in the morning or evening with him, when I'm already walking him anyway!

Setup walking dates.

My hubby doesn't love this idea but going for a walk (sans cell phones) is a great way to connect and catch-up! Especially during the spring, it's nice to get out in nature and enjoy each other's company.

When you're idle, walk (or squat!), don't sit.

I often find myself waiting, whether it's to go into a meeting, for my coffee to brew, or for my husband to finish shopping at REI... I've decided to pace, walk in circles, or squat! (Squatting through the day is good for you!) You'd be surprised how many extra steps you can get in when you'd otherwise just be standing around. So, now, even if I'm in a store, I'll walk around in circles or up and down the aisles. I might look crazy but I'm burning calories. :)

Do you have a FitBit or FitBit Flex?

What are your favorite features?

How do you get in extra movement throughout the day?

Please note that FitforaBrideBlog.com participates in select affiliate advertising programs. This means that if you click and/or make a purchase through certain links on the site or any related social media platforms, FitforaBrideBlog.com may make a commission from that click and/or purchase. All opinions are my own, and all brands featured represent what I personally like and support.  

"Me Day" Highlights

Morning friends! Happy Monday! How was your weekend? Mine was great -- I had a "me day" on Saturday and it was wonderful! (I talk about what a "me day" is here and it's one of my April goals to have a "me day" this month!) I started the day at CrossFit. The workout was Elizabeth: 21, 15, 9 Cleans & Ring Dips. The Rx weight for women was 95 lbs, but I knew that was probably a little too heavy for me. I warmed up with 65 lbs which felt easy, but then when I added 10s, and was up to 85 lbs, it suddenly felt really hard! With so many reps I decided to go with 75 lbs, but halfway through the workout I knew I went to light. I finished in a little less than 9 minutes and was totally kicking myself-- I should have challenged myself more! I know for next time!

10151945_765203633504660_4351986148702281699_nI did rock a new tanktop on Saturday: "When in doubt, work it out!" Getting to CrossFit has been tough these last few weeks with my new schedule, so this has been my motto!

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After showering and eating breakfast I headed to the nail salon. I had an appointment for the works-- a pedicure, gel manicure and to get my eyebrows waxed. When I got there and sat in the chair, my favorite magazine, People's Style Watch was already right there! Ahhh, let the relaxation begin!!

Magazine & Pedicure

On a side note, I'm one of those weird people that takes photos of things they see in magazines. People always look at me like I'm crazy when I do it but it's just so that I can reference things later... is that odd? Anyway, I'm loving this trend towards crop tops and high-waisted skirts!  I'm also loving  and this aqua green color I'm seeing everywhere!

People Style Watch

I snapped a photo of this DIY fruit peel thinking that might be fun to try in the future!

People Style Watch

Everyone at the nail salon had Starbucks and after my appointment, I was so sleepy I decided to splurge and get a coffee frappuccino. I noticed Starbucks is rolling out a new line of pastries called La Boulange and I'm obsessed with the branding--  I love anything pink and ultra feminine. It matched my nails so I took a moment to capture the prettiness! :)

Starbucks & ManicureI headed to Sears next and got a few new shirts and necklaces for work. EVERYTHING was on sale in Sears and I had a 15 percent off coupon so I felt pretty good about my purchases!

New ShirtsAfter that I had lunch with Aaron and then headed to mom's for awhile - she's moving and I helped her pack a little. Then I headed to Old Navy (I had the shopping bug) but I was beginning to feel exhausted! I finally went home and I don't know what happened, but I got a sudden burst of energy and decided to rearrange my apartment! I love to switch things up, especially when the season is changing and I have to say: the new arrangement looks fantastic! I'm loving it! (I'll share pictures soon!)

All and all it was a perfect "me day" - pampering, shopping, redecorating! Maybe I can squeeze one of these days in every month! :)

What did you do this weekend? Have you ever had a me day?

Weekly Challenge: Eat Less Sugar

Hey friends! Happy Sunday! I hope you're having a great weekend! I'm popping in to share our second weekly challenge: eat less sugar! April-6-Challenge

There's a lot of research that suggests Americans are on a sugar overload and it's affecting our health in detrimental ways. The American Heart Association, for example, reports added sugar increases one's risk of heart disease and contributes to obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

You’ve probably heard a sugar-is-bad message before, but if you’re like me, you weren’t really sure what to do with that information except to avoid donuts and the other obvious sugar culprits, like candy and ice cream. But here’s something you may not realize: sugar is in otherwise-healthy foods too, like yogurt, granola and dried fruit (raisins are especially high). It’s also in the most unsuspecting places- I’ve seen it on the nutrition label of precooked shrimp at Costco, a canister of sunflower seeds, and even in Morton’s “Lite Salt.”

Sugar is everywhere!

It's laced in your breakfast, lunch, and dinner disguised as dextrose, evaporated cane juice, maltose, sucrose, frutose, lactose, and high fructose corn syrup... just to name a few of the other names for sugar. And, it's highly addictive.

It's in your coffee creamer, your salad dressing, your salad toppings, such as craisins, and in your energy bars and sports drinks. Did you know just one 12-ounce bottle of Gatorade (fruit punch flavor) has 21 grams of sugar?

You may think you can’t escape sugar, but you can and more importantly, you should!

According to a new study in JAMA Internal Medicine, suggests that Americans who consume the most sugar — about a quarter of their daily calories, or 500 calories (the equivelant to 31 teaspoons of sugar) — were twice as likely to die from heart disease as those who limited their sugar intake to 7 percent of their total calories.

Which group are you in? Do you limit your sugar or is it in a quarter of the foods you eat? Think of it this way:

The American Heart Association advises that women consume no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar daily.

To know how many teaspoons you're consuming, you'll need to know that there's approximately 4 grams of sugar in every one teaspoon. So, when you check the label for sugar, divide whatever the total grams is by 4. For example, that Gatorade, at 21 grams, has about 5 teaspoons of sugar… pretty close to the recommended daily serving!

Another easy way to watch your sugar is to log your food.

MyFitnessPal provides the nutritional breakdown of all the foods you log, making it really easy to see where the sugar in your diet is coming from! Take a look at my food log for last Tuesday:

Sugar

My total sugar intake for the day was about 33 grams, or 8.25 teaspoons. That's not bad, but let's look at where the most of the sugar came from: my coffee creamer. One tablespoon of Lucrene hazelnut coffee creamer has about 5 grams of sugar in it. Remember, 4 grams is the equivalent of one teaspoons, so 5 grams is a little more than a teaspoon. What's that tell me? Well, more than a teaspoon of the tablespoon of creamer is sugar! It's basically ALL sugar!

Learning this has been eye-opening for me and I've already taken steps to cut back on the coffee creamer. Of course, keep in mind, this was a good day for me! There were no donuts for the office at work or afternoon cookie attacks. I don't always have good days but if I can set myself up to get in the habit of not eating sugar, those little splurges every now and then won't be as big of a deal.

I'd love for you to join me in this challenge to eat less sugar, and share what you learn along the way! Whether it's finding that there is sugar in one of your favorite "healthy" foods or finding a good sugar substitute (and I'm not talking about fake sugar--that's a post for a different day), please share your experience!

Remember: This challenge is meant to last the entire week! If you can, continue logging and see where the sugar in your diet is coming from. If you don't like to log, check the label on foods-- look for those sugar disguises or just do the math and see how many teaspoons you're taking in! Feel free to share your findings back here!

To read more about the JAMA Internal Medicine study, read (or listen to) this article from NPR and to learn more about sugar, I highly recommend watching this video on how sugar affects the brain.

Do you have a slight sugar addiction? Do you watch how much sugar you eat? 

Challenge: Keep a Food Journal

Hello again! I'm popping back in today to share a new weekly feature coming to the blog: weekly challenges! Even though I love 30, 60, and 90 day challenges, I tend to do better when I just focus on implementing a new habit one day (or just one week) at a time, versus for the entire month or year. I'm guessing you might be the same way?

Well, in an effort to get us all practicing some new healthy habits, I'm going to post a Sunday (or Monday) challenge that I want us all to try to maintain throughout the week!

The first challenge is to keep a food journal!

APRIL-1-CHALLENGE

I know logging food, like counting calories or points can feel tedious, but if you're trying to lose weight, studies show this one small step can make a big difference.

In fact, studies, such as this one, suggest that you can double your weight loss by tracking your food! Other studies, such as this one, suggest that the key to losing weight isn't in any special diet or diet approach, but rather in your smartphone, if you'll just utilize one of the many apps available for food logging. And, are you one of the millions who vowed to get fit in the New Year? This recent study that suggests recording goals in a fitness diary maximizes the achievement of New Year's resolutions to stay fit.

Well, personally, I don't need science to tell me food logging is good -- I've always been more successful with my own weight loss efforts when I tracked what I was eating, whether I did so by providing my trainer with a handwritten list, logged it in MyFitnessPal or just jotted it in the Notes app on my phone. There's no magic method here, it's just a matter of being conscientious.

Technology is making it easier than ever to track food, too. Sites like MyFitnessPal show you the macronutrient breakdown for all types of foods and the index is unbelievably comprehensive -- search for almost anything and there's probably already an entry for that food.

Also, the MyFitnessPal recipe box can now read recipe URLs! How cool is that? Rather than creating a recipe by typing in one ingredient at a time, copy and paste in the recipe URL and voila -- you've got the nutrition facts at your fingertips!

Now, if you think you're one of those people who is pretty good at estimating calorie content and differentiating healthy food from junk (I've used that excuse too), a recent Harvard study suggests people think they're eating less than they actually are. In fact, the British Medical Journal reported that "underestimation of calorie content increased substantially as the actual meal calorie content increased." Say what?? (True story!)

With all that said, calorie counting isn't a perfect science and it's not the end-all-be-all to living healthy or losing weight, I get that! But, I'd like us to experiment this week and see what happens when we log! Do we feel more in control of our diets? Do we make better choices, plan better, or see better results? Let's do this and find out!

So, starting today, or at the very latest, tomorrow, write down what you're eating, and try to do that everyday this week!

Ready? Set? Get tracking!

Oh, and I'd love to keep each other accountable on social media -- what should our hashtag be?

Do you log your food on a regular basis? Why or why not?

Do you like weekly goals better than monthly or yearly goals?  

Image via Charm & Gumption // Get Fit Food & Exercise Notepad

PS: I'll be using MyFitnessPal to complete this challenge -- if you wanna be friends on there, shoot me an email!

Industry Fit with Stephanie from Fete Blog

Good morning friends! Happy Monday! I'm guessing many of you are enjoying President's Day off - I am! I've been either working from home or off since last Wednesday and man, does this extra day feel like a treat!

I'm also pretty excited to share today's Industry Fit Feature with you! It's from one of my very favorite bloggers, Stephanie of The Fete Blog! Stephanie is co-owner of Be Loved PR, a Virginia-based public relations firm specializing in styled shoots for area wedding vendors and she's a professional runner, sponsored by New Balance and Furman Elite!

When I first discovered The Fete Blog, I fell instantly in love! It's the only other wedding blog with a little fitness flair and I especially love the new Fete Collective, that offers up insight from every different type of woman: the Make-It-Happen Mid-Twenties Gal, the Bride, the Newlywed Girl, and the Mama!

As I continued to read The Fete Blog, I became more and more intrigued by Stephanie's dual career as a runner and wedding enthusiast, and so I was thrilled when she agreed to an Industry Fit interview!

2014 New Balance Games

Meet-Stephanie

image by Victah Sailer 

What's your connection to the wedding world? 

My first entrance into the wedding world was through journalism; I wrote for a local newsweekly which published a biannual wedding issue that no one wanted to write-- except me. In 2010, I took over the publication, turned it into a quarterly magazine and fell even more in love with weddings. I began working for a standout wedding planner and have since launched a wedding inspiration blog and boutique styling + pr studio.

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How long have you been working in the wedding industry? 

Since 2010-- in May, I took helm of Hook Weddings.

How long have you been blogging? 

I launched my blog in October 2011-- so just over 2 years.

What is Fete blog about? 

What isn't Fete about? It's definitely a work in progress, but currently, it is a wedding + lifestyle inspiration blog, with a big emphasis on fitness and self love. I envision it to be a space that inspires women to transform their relationships-- with their lovers, their community, and themselves-- into authentic, enthusiastic, simple connections. And plan an absolutely perfect wedding, of course.

Fete Blog

What do you enjoy about it? 

It feels like an extension of myself-- I like to think it contributes to building community and inspiring others, whether they are brides, girls looking to get into fitness, or anyone hoping to better connect with themselves and others. It truly is so much fun.

What do you see yourself doing in 5 years, wedding-wise? 

In five years, I'd love to have a full-time wedding styling studio and continue my work helping promote boutique wedding professionals.

about-the-blog fete-and-beloved-grelen-shoot-blogStephanie's styled shoot published on Style Me Pretty this year // Photography by Jen Fariello

What's your full-time profession? 

My full time profession is "professional athlete". Crazy, I know.

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What's it mean to be a professional athlete? 

It basically means that I am sponsored by a shoe company to run. My days are made up of training, outreach (volunteering, promoting my sponsors), and more training. There are some pro runners that make a ton of money-- but I'm not one of them. I'm just lucky that I'm allowed and encouraged to do the thing I'm most passionate about right now.

Can you tell me a little about Furman Elite & New Balance? 

So New Balance is an American shoe company, based in Boston. They are classic running, their shoes are superb, and they are an incredibly supportive and innovative company.

Furman Elite is a training group based at Furman University. Through the support of the University, 11 post-collegiate athletes are living and training together with hopes of making the 2016 Olympic team in our various events.

rtb-finishWhat are sponsor commitments?  

Every sponsor has different commitments-- what New Balance asks of its athletes are different than what Nike or Brooks might ask. The "other" things I do, besides run and race, are participate in photoshoots for the brand or other events that New Balance is a part of.

How did you land this job? 

Most sponsored athletes become pros the way I did-- excelling at the collegiate level and getting noticed by companies. As soon as you are done with college competing, you get an agent and then, hopefully, a contract with a sponsor.

Have you always been a runner? 

Yes-- I started "running" as a little kid when my mom would take us to a local track to play. I ran a bit in middle school, then joined the cross-country and track teams in high school.

Did you ever imagine you'd be a professional runner?

Every leap I've made as a runner has come as a surprise. In high school, I dreamed of running in college; in college, I began having a suspicion that maybe I could get running after. I set up some goals for myself my senior year and said, "If you can do these things, you can run after college." Landing my contract with New Balance was such a blessing-- not all "professional runners" have sponsors like I do, but instead pay their own way.

What's the hardest part of the job? 

The hardest part is, of course, the actual running. We are just bodies and sometimes our bodies fail despite our best efforts. I've had a few rough years, with injury and with mental blocks, which make it so hard to meet my goals and the goals my coach and sponsors have for me.

Are the physical demands challenging? How do you deal with those? 

Running professionally definitely takes a toll on your body, but it's all about prevention and preparation. Doing everything I can to keep my body feeling great-- massages, icing, stretching, rolling out, eating right-- is key to staying injury-free.

Read about Stephanie's January and February training here.

How often do you run? Do you run in races? What's been a favorite race? 

I run every day, and often twice a day. I race approximately six months of the year, indoor and outdoor track. I love racing abroad-- there's such an appreciation for track in other countries that really isn't present in America. Some recent favorites: racing in Puerto Rico, Shanghai, France, England.

from-elite-to-you-january-3How do you handle all the travel? 

Again, it's all about being prepared. I'm good at sleeping on the go, so I can often rest on planes and in cars. I wear compression socks as much as possible to keep the blood flowing in my legs. I try to hydrate as much as possible-- traveling dehydrates you! And, of course, being packed early and NOT scrambling to the airport is smart… but I rarely get that part right.

Do you have any tips for staying in good physical shape on the go?

Use what you've got and don't stress the small stuff. You won't always have the best place to run, but if you can get in a jog in small slots of time, do it! Do body-weight work: squats, pushups, planks, different versions of crunches and core exercises. Stay as relaxed and stress-free as possible and that will help your overall well-being so much!

Do you stretch a lot? What are your favorite stretches? Best stretches for runners? 

I do dynamic stretching more than just sit-or-stand and stretch. Lunges work wonders and loosen up your hips. Other walking stretches (knee up to your chest, quad stretch, side steps, karaoke) are great for loosening your entire body up and getting you warmed up to work out!

What other kind of training and workouts do you do? 

Cross-training is so good for runners, since running is really rough on your body. I love swimming, yoga, and lifting (yes, having strong arms helps your running!). I do a lot of core work as well, because a strong core is the key to everything.

What are your favorite non-running exercises? 

Swimming, yoga, and lifting! I haven't tried Crossfit yet, but I think it's something I'd love.

Who provides your training routine? What's it look like? Does it change? 

I have a coach that writes up all of my training, day in and day out-- thankfully, because I wouldn't know where to start! It does change based on the time of year-- we go through a ton of different training phases. Briefly, it looks something like this: recovery in the early fall, base training for 4-8 weeks, harder threshold-building training for 4 weeks, 4-6 weeks of intense working out, racing, recovery, repeat.

running-in-indianaHow often do you workout?

I run a workout 2-3 times a week. I try to get a lift in 2 times a week as well!

Are there days you don't want to be doing this, or do you love the work?

Running is a mentally exhausting sport-- there are definitely days when I'm not quite sure why I'm doing it. Getting yourself out the door multiple times a day, day in and day out can be tough! But I do love it and having great training partners is a game-changer. I trained alone for a few years after college and it was really hard to stay motivated. Now, I have two amazing girls I train with and they make all the difference.

What's the best part of the job? (I read that you get to do cool fitness photoshoots!! That's gotta be cool!) 

The best part of the job is the opportunity to travel and race. I get to visit multiple countries a year, just to race! And yes-- doing photoshoots and pretending to be a model is really exciting and a huge honor!

Do you get free gear, too? 

Part of my sponsorship deal includes gear-- so when I'm in need of anything, New Balance sends it my way!

I assume your favorite running shoe is from New Balance? What styles do your recommend to others? 

Yes-- I'm obsessed with New Balance! They have excellent shoes for any kind of runner. Looking for neutral, basic shoes? Try the NB 890. Need support (like me!)? The 860 or 1260 is for you. Wild about the minimal trend? The Minimus is great. Bonus! All of these shoes come in such pretty colors!

What does training for the Olympics entail? 

Without making it sound too scary, training for the Olympics entails: 2-4 years of hard work and daily commitment to training (there are definitely people who can make a team after only training for the season leading up to the Games, but it's hard! Going up against people who have been training for years and have a ton of racing experience is a challenge); mental focus (you can't go crazy, but you have to be excited and passionate when it counts!); and lots of love. Everything I'm doing right now (Dec 2013) is going to affect my chances to make the team in June 2016! It's all about building a foundation.

Why do you want to go? 

Who hasn't had an Olympic dream at some point in their life? I am so fortunate that I have the opportunity to try this dream out-- and it's definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity. It's hard to make a team when you are 35! I've made the commitment to do it now, at 25, while I have the best chance to do it.

What kind of food do you like to eat? 

It's good to have a healthy, well-balanced diet, but this is definitely my weakest spot! I love eating and I love sweets, so striking a balance between a healthy diet and allowing room for cravings is a challenge. I'm learning to love to cook healthy meals-- avocados, eggs, and ground beef are some foods that are always part of my weekly meals.

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Are there restrictions because of your profession? 

There's aren't restrictions-- but if you only eat fast food and sweets and go up against a girl who has lived off of healthy food and balanced meals, there's a big chance that she could run faster.

What are your favorite healthy foods? 

Avocados-- if I only lived off one food for the rest of my life, it would be avos! Brown rice. Eggs. Spinach. Beets. Berries.

Favorite healthy foods on the go?

Almonds, a bag of berries, bananas, pb+j sandwiches

Favorite splurge (unhealthy) food? 

I have a massive sweet tooth-- keep cupcakes, anything with frosting, homemade cookies, ice cream, chocolate, and pie away from me! (Did I miss any sweet category?)

Love this advice from Stephanie: 

Don’t feel pressure to make this the year you drop 15 pounds, run a marathon, accomplish some ridiculous athletic feat. Instead, use 2014 as your building year– create some habits and routines that you can actually weave into your everyday life and then live them out all year long. If you can build a base of healthy living now, it will be so much easier to set lofty goals and accomplish them in the years to come!

How do you balance your love for weddings with such a busy running career?

It has been a challenge balancing running with my wedding career. The biggest challenge is finding time. During peak wedding season, I'm traveling and racing and can't spend my weekends on my feet at photoshoots or real weddings. But through my blog, magazine work, and styling shoots in my off-time, I stay in the game. I've had to make peace with the fact that this running career is going to end sooner rather than later and that that will be the time when I can plunge full-force into weddings. For now, having a wonderful creative outlet is invaluable and I'm slowly working my way to a post-running career that will be so fulfilling!

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If you guys haven't already done so, check out Stephanie's awesome wedding blog, Fete! Also take a closer look at the styled shoot she coordinated over on Style Me Pretty!

Stephanie, thank you so much for taking the time to answer all my questions! It's been so fun getting to know you and I wish you all the best of luck in your fitness and wedding endeavors!

I can't wait to meet in person and hopefully collaborate on some projects in the future!

Do you know any professional runners? 

Do you have a split career like Stephanie? 

Guest Post // Hubby Talks CrossFit & Marriage

Hi guys! Happy Tuesday! I'm actually back from Italy (it feels great to be home!!), but I'm not quite back into the swing of blogging and work, etc., so I'm sharing a few guest posts this week!! Today, I'm excited to share post my husband actually wrote -- his first-ever blog post!! Awhile back Aaron and I wrote how CrossFit has changed us for my friend Stephanie's blog Drama Happens. I wanted to repurpose those posts for FFAB because they share an in-depth look at our how we got into CrossFit and all its unexpected benefits! So, Here's Part I from Aaron! Take it away, babe! 

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To understand the change in my relationship since starting CrossFit it is important to first get an idea of where we were before. I have known my wife for more than 7 years and in the past 5 years she has made a significant change in her fitness routine. What started off as an every other day elliptical schedule during the week, evolved into an everyday and once on the weekend routine. Her mentality also changed from “I want to get healthier and lose weight,” into “If I don’t get to the gym today I’m going to die!” I might be exaggerating a bit on the last but anyone that goes to the gym on a daily basis understands the release and joy that it can bring.

Screen Shot 2013-11-24 at 11.32.46 PMBack in 2009, long before either of us got into working out.

Now, I am assuming that last part because as far as I am concerned I have never ever gone to the gym every single day for an extended period of time... Now, some guys might ask, “How is it possible for your wife to go to the gym everyday while you sit at home?” Well, first things first, my wife has a gym at her job and she loves to run. I, at the time, had a job where I could barely take lunch and, I hate running! (Even today I cannot stand the thought of running. In my opinion it takes a certain kind of crazy to even attempt to run a marathon.)

I fall into that category of “heavy lifting smart ass.” Up until 4 months ago I was the type that would hit the gym for one month solid and then taper off, until, next thing you know it is summer time again! All the while swearing that I was in shape, saying I could probably get better at my cardio.

My wife, God bless her, was never pushy or manipulative. She did not try to get me to join in on her diet plans (salmon and boiled eggs everyday? Please) or get to the gym on a more predictable schedule. She loved me for who I was and I loved her for the same reasons. I definitely thought she had become more obsessive with this workout thing but I see now that her passions had changed. We attempted to go to the gym together but with our work schedules and everything else always going on, it was next to impossible... So thus, was my status quo for three years as I watched her complete the Philadelphia marathon and several other 5ks and 10 milers.

photoIn Philadelphia to support Sara run her first marathon.

Screen Shot 2013-11-24 at 9.16.50 PMThe most exercise we did together was hike!

Any man that is reading this may understand the predicament I was in but let me caution you that if your wife finds something that she likes a lot (It has become a significant part of who she is and she does it all the time) and you are not part of it, it can create a wedge between you, eventually causing resentment. On the other hand, if you make a considerable effort (nothing is easy in marriage) to become part of it, not master it and make it your own, but just to participate to the point where you can share similar stories and goals, then it will turn into something that brings you together and strengthens your bond.

So, when my wife mentions to be about going to this thing called CrossFit for a Saturday afternoon introductory class, I said why not? This would give me the opportunity to show her I can certainly do some pushups and pull-ups. Hell, I was county champ of pullups in the 5th grade!

Twenty minutes into the warm-up had me winded, but hey that is normal, it was my first time in a gym since… when was the last time I was in the gym? Afterwards I could tell that my wife really enjoyed it and since there was a Groupon that made it relatively inexpensive for the Elements Class, I agreed to trying it out for a month.During Elements we attended the same classes and worked out a schedule to where we rode together to the classes so we were able to attend each class together.

Screen Shot 2013-11-24 at 8.52.07 PMAfter a weekend WOD (workout out of the day)

During the Elements Class I discovered that my wife is a rather competitive woman and is very physically fit. She does more rounds than I and finishes WODs quicker. This was at first discouraging for me but it has actually motivated me and given me that drive to continue.

Screen Shot 2013-11-24 at 9.24.18 PMSara doing box jumps - a common CrossFit exercise. // Kx Photography

Four months later we are both hooked on crossfit. We enjoy spending that time together. The rides to the box and home from the box are spent talking about how we felt about the WOD and our performance. I feel that she sees me differently now since she has watched me progress and come to enjoy exercise like she does. We encourage each other and every once in a while battle each other in a WOD (closest I have gotten is a tie, once!) We come together more on what it is that we eat, we talk about our health and therefore our future and lives more. We set goals together and are accountable to each other. Just seeing the way that each other interact with the people in our box has helped us to understand different things about each other.

While CrossFit is very much an individualized program you are there with a group of people seeking the same goal and doing the same WOD. This creates a sense of family and community. Our instructors recognize us and we represent each other when we are not attending the same class. People ask about her when she is not with me and this gives me the chance to talk about her (all good of course :)) where I otherwise wouldn’t get the chance.

Screen Shot 2013-11-24 at 9.23.57 PMDoing ring dips couple of months into CrossFit. // Kx Photography 

Crossfit is now part of our lives and we look forward to spending that time together. We pay more attention the welfare of each other and are closer because of it. I no longer just do sporadic workouts, I work on my overhead squat, power snatch and (one day) muscle-ups. My nutrition is also improving and since she is the expert, I ask her questions and consult her on what is best. This is good for her confidence as well. So overall, I am very thankful for crossfit providing this outlet for us. It has brought us closer and continues to be a motivating factor in our marriage and in our lives.

Has CrossFit changed your relationship? 

Getting Our Christmas Tree & The Cookie Monster

Our parents never did real trees so it's kinda been our thing, which I love. This year, with our plans to leave for Italy two days after Christmas, I wasn't sure it was worth the hassle of a tree, but my husband insisted! He's a stickler for tradition. So, Sunday, during the light snow flurry we experienced, we decided it was time to carry out our yearly tradition and get our Christmas tree! In years past we went to privately owned lots and paid upwards of $75 for our real tree, but this year we just went to Home Depot and got our tree for just $35! It felt like a steal!

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(Yea, so, um, I have braces now... more on that later.)

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I didn't get a good picture of the tree all lit up because as soon as we strung the lights on it and flipped the switch, we realized half the lights were burned out! It took us a few days to get new lights and put ornaments on the tree, but it is officially done and I love it!

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I'm really glad we finally got it together though because I LOVE the smell of a real Christmas tree and it's so nice and cozy to lay around and watch TV near it.

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In other news, I've been feeling a bit like the cookie monster lately; is it just me? I had to ask - are your homes and offices filled with an abundance of cookies and brownies, and cakes and crap? Like HUGE cupcakes with green icing, and green and red chocolate chip cookies? My office holiday party is today and it's more cookies. It's CRAZY out here!

I've been thinking a lot about cookies lately though. My little sister called me the other night and told me she hasn't been eating that well. She's very active and plays volleyball (and even does Shawn T's Hip Hop Abs on her own), but she was kind of down for not "sticking to her diet." To be honest, a part of me completely freaked out during this conversation - DIET? I didn't EVER want that word coming out of my little sister's mouth! She's 13 for crying out loud, and she's growing! Not to mention, she's perfect as far as I'm concerned. I assured Brooke it's that time of year, and we're all splurging. It's normal. And more importantly, it's OK.

I talked with my friend at work about it and she suggested I encourage Brooke to focus on health, not weight loss - amen to that! Ultimately, too, I think it's most important none of us beat up on ourselves and rather, enjoy our wonderful lives and the wonderful foods in them. Even those of us who are focused on health (not weight loss) can't be so focused we miss out on the fun in life and the holidays.

So cheers to cookies friends!

What are your thoughts on dieting during the holidays?

Do you get a real Christmas tree, or fake one? 

Colorful Urban Engagement: Kristen & Kyle

Hello again! I have the most adorable engagement session by Kristin Cipolla Photography to share with you this afternoon! Kristen & Kyle just wed in November and are probably prepping for their first Christmas together! (The first Christmas is always so fun!) I love the urban backdrop in these photos and the bright pops of color - purple, blue, and pink (love those shoes, Kristen!). Here's a few words from their photographer:

Kristen and Kyle are tons of fun and wanted to do their engagement session in an "urban" setting with lots of color and texture. Music to my ears! We photographed their engagement session in Belleville, IL. We chose the downtown Belleville area for it's textured grungy alleys, mirrors architecture, and vacant buildings. With her hot pink shoes and outgoing personality to bring out the urban surroundings, I was very lucky to photograph such an awesome down to earth couple!

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Photography by Kristina Cipolla submitted via Two Bright Lights.

Congratulations Kristen & Kyle! You two are adorable! I hope the wedding was all you dreamed it would be and more!