Thursday, December 12, 2013

Popping In and Product Review-FAGE Total Split Cups Yogurt

I know.  Don't say it.  We'll just pretend I was here the whole time posting witty, interesting stuff, okay?  I have some time for a quick product review post and to say howdy, then I'll be back again in about a week and a half, maybe two weeks all right?  I told y'all to poke me if I disappeared ;-)

So, the wonderful people at BzzAgent sent me an invitation to one of their latest campaigns, this one for FAGE Total Split Cups Yogurt.  I had to think about this one before accepting...why the heck did I have to think, you ask?  Well, because it's Greek yogurt.  And the one other time I'd tried Greek yogurt I thought it was disgusting and nasty.  But that was many years ago so I thought I'd give it another try-especially when I would get to choose from so many interesting flavors.  First, some info about the Split Cups...

So, that's a pic of the yogurt cups.  Notice there's a main compartment with a smaller one attached to it?  The main part has the yogurt (plain) and the smaller part contains the flavor you choose.  They've got lots to choose from:

-Strawberry Goji
-Cherry Pomegranate
-Mango Guanabana
-Blueberry Acai
-Apple Cinnamon Raisins
-Orange Cinnamon
-Passion Fruit Clementine


I received several coupons from BzzAgent for free cups of yogurt, 2 for me and the rest to pass on to friends, so I used my two to get the 2% Honey and 0% Strawberry.  Now, I'm normally a Yoplait Light yogurt person so I'm used to a sweet yogurt.  So I figured I'd start with the Honey in the 2% version since I thought it would be closer to what I was used to.  These are the 5.3oz split cups. 

Unfortunately, I was wrong.  And no, I didn't think it was better.  Sorry all you Greek yogurt lovers out there...I just don't get it.

I did try a tiny portion of the plain yogurt first without the honey just to see what it would taste like...and it was just like the first time I tried Greek yogurt...blech.  So I tried it with the honey, tilting up the smaller compartment to let it all drain on top of the yogurt.  Now, any spoonful that I tried that was totally coated in honey was...well, not necessarily better, but tolerable as long as I wasn't "actively" tasting it--meaning I was just spooning and swallowing the yogurt (I was fine with the thicker texture, it was the taste I couldn't stand).  Any little bit that didn't have honey actually kind of turned my stomach.  I tried really hard to get through the whole cup, but only managed about 2/3 of the cup before I couldn't take anymore.

I really wanted to like this product since I know so many friends who love it (well, Greek yogurt in general, not sure about brands) and I know it's packed with protein-which I have a hard time meeting my daily goals for protein consumption.  There's also not a huge list of ingredients on the package-FAGE Total yogurt actually only has 2 or 3 ingredients--milk & live active cultures or milk, live active cultures and cream.  But I don't like it.  As far as the strawberry flavor, I might be brave and try it tomorrow.  But when the 2% with honey has me making my yucky-face, I don't know if I can make myself try it.

Now, please realize--I am a super-picky eater.  And maybe I've been spoiled by the "sweet stuff" that most major-brand yogurts put out.  But Greek yogurt is just not for me.  I do appreciate BzzAgent giving me the chance to try it though.  And for those of you who keep calling it Fage (rhyming with sage), FYI it's actually pronounced "fa-yeh".  Please don't let my opinion scare you away from trying this product though.

And as for the other two coupons I have left, if you'd like to try FAGE Total Split Cups Yogurt for yourself...the first two people who contact me with your name & mailing address before Saturday 12/14/13 who live in the United States, I'll mail them out first thing in the morning to you as they expire at the end of this year (click here or use the Contact Me tab at the top of this page).  The coupon is good for a FREE 5.3 oz split cup Any Variety FAGE Total Yogurt.  As you can see from the flavors lists I posted above, there's lots to choose from assuming your local supermarket has them all.

So, that's my honest review of FAGE Total Split Cups yogurt.  Have you tried any of the flavors before, and if you have, what did you think?  Let me know in the comments section below!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Product Review-Luster Premium White Teeth Whitening System

So many of you know I'm signed up with, a fantastic Word of Mouth social marketing company.  Other companies go to them with their products so people like me can try them out, then tell others what we think.  It's a really cool website and program, so you should check it out when you have a chance.
Luster Premium White-Distinctly White Teeth Whitening System
Recently, I was offered the opportunity to try out a product called Luster Premium White.  It is a teeth whitening system that consists of a mouth wash that's supposed to prep your teeth for whitening and a gel that you apply to the teeth being whitened.  Normally I don't bother with products like these as I've tried a couple and never really seen any big difference.  Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I'll tell you that I'm a tetracycline kid...meaning as a kid I was prescribed tetracycline which stained my permanent teeth way back then (the docs apparently didn't realize this side effect would occur when someone was kept on it past a certain length of time).  I try not to let it bother me, though from time to time that self-conscious feeling creeps in and I try to smile without showing my teeth.  Here's the before pic so you can see why:
And here's the after pic:
Um, if you think you're not seeing a difference, well some of that is due to the photos (sorry, I'm not real good at taking selfies).  But there is a bit of change-in the first pic, the color is a bit more spotty while the second one it's more uniform.  But also, you can barely see in the bottom teeth in the first pic there's some darker coloring between the teeth (especially closer to the gums)...which seems to now be gone.  This is from the tea and soda staining I'm pretty sure.  Not that I'm going to give up drinking tea or the occasional soda so I know it will come back, but still-it did remove something.

I really wasn't setting my expectations too high considering tetracycline staining happens while a child's teeth are developing and not as a result of things you eat, drink, etc.  But I did see some changes...though I don't believe for me it would be worth the time, effort or cost normally.  If you're interested in purchasing the product, Amazon does have it available at this link: Distinctly White Dual Action Whitening System for $12.99 plus shipping ($4.99, it's thru one of their sellers).  You may also be able to find it at one of your local stores.  I do have 5 sets of coupons that I can send out to the first five people to request them; the coupon sets include 4 coupons, 1 for the system I tried and 3 for their other can use the Contact Me page to see where to send your request.  I was also sent 5 packets of their NOW! Instant Whitening Toothpaste, but I didn't get around to trying it unfortunately...but that means that I can send them out to those who contact me for the coupons :-)

Likes: Fairly simple to use-you rinse with the mouth wash for 10 seconds, then use the gel brush to "paint" the gel onto your teeth.  It stays on for 10 minutes, then you're done.  I always rinsed well afterward.  Here's pics of the mouth wash and gel brush:

Dislikes: One of the things the instructions tell you is not to get the gel on your tongue, lips or gums.  Unfortunately, it's kind of hard for it not to get on your gums with your bottom teeth...and when it comes in contact, it's kind of a faint stinging sensation.  For those who've ever had their hair permed, especially years ago-you know how it felt when the solution got on your forehead by accident or was left on just a little too long?  That's kind of the feeling.  I also didn't care for having to keep my mouth basically open for the ten minutes since if I tried to close it, my lips would inevitably touch my teeth.

Overall, for me I most likely wouldn't consider using this in the future...but again, my situation is a bit different since the majority of my teeth discoloration is from medicine that stained my teeth as a child while my permanent teeth were still developing--those of you who like those tasty coffee, tea and soda beverages or who are smokers would probably have better luck and see more of a difference (presumably).

So there you have it...and let me say, I was really debating on whether I would post my experience or not.  Not because of the product itself, but I never thought I'd be brave enough to put pictures of my teeth on here.  It's kinda weird, ya know?  I feel very self conscious about certain aspects of my appearance so here I am, being brave!  So for a better reason to smile, I'll direct you instead to my other blog, The Disney World Files, where I've got my October Disney Prize Pack Giveaway going on.  I'd smile really big if I won a Disney giveaway, wouldn't you?

Have you ever tried any teeth whitening products?  If so, how did they work for you?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Keeping busy and other ramblings plus a giveaway on my FB page

Let me tell you...keeping up with a website, 2 blogs (yes, I know I've been on my Disney one a lot more than this one, apologies and that'll be changing soon), multiple Facebook pages, trainings for my TA business (travel agent) addition to regular life stuff like my regular Mon-Fri job...I get sleepy just thinking about all that.  There's a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff that goes on for all the web and social media stuff-not just the tech things, but learning how to do the tech things too.  It can make your brain spin.  But I'm learning a lot for sure ;-)

The weight loss is going slow.  Like turtle through quicksand slow.  The last several weeks it's been down 0.2, down 0.2, down 0.2.  At this rate I might meet my goal by the time I retire.  I'm hoping as I add back in my workouts as my marathon training starts to pick up that it'll kick start something.  See, that huge 4.2 lb loss at the beginning was just a tease--I must have freaked my body out or something.  I'm thinking I might add hill training at a local park once a week to help change things up.  But at least the trend is still downward...much better than the alternative.

Before I forget ('cuz ya know, if I don't write things down they just totally fly out of my mind), my TA Facebook page is co-sponsoring a $100 Disney Gift Card giveaway with a bunch of other Disney-themed pages, so if you're interested (of course you are, who doesn't love free Disney money???), head over my Facebook page and check out the giveaway tab...liking my page will get you 2 entries to the giveaway--just make sure after liking my page that you log your entry on the Rafflecopter form on the giveaway tab.

And to celebrate my one-year anniversary as a TA, I'll be doing a separate giveaway on my other blog, The Disney World Files starting next'll be a good one with several fun items going to the winner, so keep an eye out for it-I'll post it here once the giveaway is live.

That's it for back in a couple days, I promise :-)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

And my "Official" Marathon Training!

Yup, it's that time again.  Actually, the plan I'm following (Marathoning for Mortals-Walk/Run Marathon) doesn't start until the last week in August, but I tacked on these few extra weeks as a way to ease back into things.  Between now and the end of August, I've added some easy 4 min walk/1 min run interval weeks just to get myself used to doing those interval lengths before starting back to the 3/1's again.

If you'd like to see my full training calendar, I've got it here on my blog.  You can click on the Training Calendar tab up top or on this link for more details.  The blog entry I did ages ago announcing that I'd placed my training calendar live here on my blog is actually my most viewed blog entry...guess there's a lot of people out there who are looking for guidance.  For those of you who are looking for a walk/run marathon plan for January's WDW Marathon Weekend, the plan on my calendar starting August 26, 2013 is straight from the Marathoning for Mortals book (a great resource by the way).  From this week until then, those weeks I added myself for an easy get-back-into-the-swing-of-things schedule.

The weight loss side of things hasn't been going exactly as planned this summer.  I'd kicked my soda habit cold turkey and had gone over a month without a sip.  Then I cracked.  *big sigh*  You know how those things can get out of control...but at least I'm still down from my starting weight so things didn't get too crazy.

Been keeping busy...I've been getting many quote requests and new client inquiries lately as well which is keeping me busy along with keeping up with my other blog, The Disney World Files and my website.  By the way, be sure to stop by my other blog to enter my giveaway for a pair of Toy Story Buzz and Woody Vinylmation figures...and I'd appreciate it if you could share the giveaway with others (like on Facebook, Twitter and Google+).  Today's the last day to enter, and you the giveaway is located at this link.  The odds are still really good to win ;-)

Gotta get going...time to crack down and settle in for the long haul...

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Busy Busy Busy

Sorry for this kinda boring post, but just wanted to let everyone know what I’ve been up to since I haven’t posted for a couple of weeks.  Gotta get back on a schedule, keep poking me people!  ;-)

Been staying busy working on behind-the-scenes stuff for my blogs (this one and The Disney World Files), website and business (you remember, I’m an independent travel agent specializing in Disney destinations).  I’ve been working on the travel deals newsletter that I’ve been wanting to get started and sent out my first test issue.  I know it needs much critique and polishing up.  I’m not sure what layout, formatting and elements people would like to see...though DH has already told me he’s not fond of the social networking buttons at the top.  

But this is my first try at a newsletter so I know it’s a little rough around the edges.  If you’d like to help me out (please please please), I’d appreciate it if you’d check out the first issue...if you go to my business Facebook page and then click on the newsletter signup button at the top (you’ll need to “like” my page to see the newsletter if you haven’t already), in addition to the signup box you’ll also see the first issue.  Any and all feedback is appreciated-I’m looking for technical feedback more than content.  Since this is the first issue and was meant as a test issue, I limited the topics to concentrate on current/upcoming WDW deals.  Oh, and thanks in advance for any feedback you can provide :-)

Anyway, figuring out how to set up the newsletter, then figuring out how to add the newsletter app to my FB page, how to “fan-gate” the app (meaning you can only see it if you’ve “liked” the page first), how to put a picture in the little box, etc etc etc...the time flies before you know it.  I’m a detail-oriented person and I research everything before I start it, then go step-by-step for every little thing so I don’t miss anything so I probably take longer at stuff like this than more tech-type people would.

As for my weight loss progress?  Slow and steady, averaging just under 2 lbs per week for the first month...down 7.2 pounds total for June.  But the past week and a half have been yuck.  Last week was up a pound even though I was within my calorie range for almost every day and definitely for the week (I did go slightly over on my bday and the day after, but made up for it before and after) I don’t know why that pound came back.  I fear I may not have chased it back off this week either.  *sigh*  And only 2 more weeks until my “official” marathon training plan begins.  

And so this weekend is a planning, catchup and get ahead weekend...and oh yeah, a clean out my closets weekend (I promised DH, they’re kind of disorganized and overflowing).  Any volunteer helpers?  Anyone?  That’s okay...I wouldn’t volunteer to help with this project either.  

Any helpful closet organizing tips?

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

It Wasn’t Meant to Be...

Back when I first started the whole running thing, I had joined a gym-Bally’s-when they were having a promotion in conjunction with The Discovery Channel as part of TDC’s National Body Challenge.  I signed up with a contract, then went month to month after the contract ended, then finally when we moved further away from the closest club than I was willing to drive, I just cancelled the membership.

A couple of weeks ago, I received postcard advertisements for a place called YouFit Health Club.  Apparently one had just been opened a couple of miles down the street from me (it took over the nearby 21 Fitness club) and they were offering a month-to-month membership for only $29 down and $10 per month.  Considering my month-to-month at Bally’s after my contract was over was $20 per month, I thought this was a great deal.  I checked out their web site and local reviews...everything looked good so I discussed with DH and finally went to the club on Sunday to check it out.

It was larger than the Bally’s I had used with a LOT more machines, both cardio and weights.  They also had a classroom that they had group classes in, plus balance balls, mats, etc just like my Bally’s had.  Overall it looked good, so I decided to go ahead and register.  And yesterday-two days later with no visits for workouts-I cancelled.  The next paragraph is taken almost word for word from my cancellation letter.

I was disappointed by several things with the registration process. First, I specifically asked if there was a contract since I wanted to do the month-to-month and was told no, it was just a simple month to month membership. When I received the email with my forms attached, the first page was a Membership Agreement which clearly states it is a “contract/note/agreement” (and when you look at it, it is clearly obvious just at a glance that it is a contract-no matter what they want to call it).  Second, while I was told there were annual club dues of $29.99 per year every September, I did not realize she meant I would be charged this September-barely over two months after joining (shouldn’t this be something I would be charged for on my anniversary next year?).  I have no problem paying an annual fee, but two months after I join (and just paid $29 to do so)?  Third, I was never informed that if I wanted to cancel in the future that there would be a $25.00 processing fee to do so, I found this out when I received the email with my “contract”.  Finally, when I was told the amount due at signup, I was told $51.94.  When I asked why when the introductory fee was $29 and it is $10/month, I was told members are charged first and last month up front.  I was not told this before I signed off on my registration, only when my card was about to be charged at the very end of the whole process.

I was not given an opportunity to read all of the things the “contract” said when signing up; I was told the highlights at each point I that I had to sign the electronic signature pad ($10 per month with a one-time $5 increase; Annual Dues; club policies regarding dress code and use of the facility, etc) and since I was told there was no contract, I was under the impression that those items were all I was agreeing to.  Um, apparently not.  You aren’t presented with actual paper forms to sign-they tell you the info and you sign the little credit card signature pad after each thing they tell you about, the way the person who signed me up presented it to me, she was saying “oh, you’re acknowledging it’s $10 per month with a one-time $5 increase after a year; this is saying you agree to abide by club policies like the dress code; this is permission to debit your monthly fee, etc”.  Nothing she said made it sound anything like I was signing a legal contract, she basically just said one or two things each time like they were no big deal and then said I’d get an email with my forms for my records.

Now maybe I’m just unbelievably naive.  Other than buying cars (where you sign so many forms you just lose track by the time you’re done), I’ve only ever signed one contract...the one at Bally’s, and they had paper forms and went over everything very carefully with me (and oh, by the way, Bally’s doesn’t charge for canceling, or at least they didn’t as of 2 years ago).  But from the totally nonchalant way the whole signup process went, I got absolutely no impression that I was agreeing to some official contract-until I received that email with it attached.  

And so I was ticked off...and it’s a good thing I read the email and its attachments in time to cancel within the first 3 days.  Though the people at the front desk tried to tell me I’d get my refund in 7-10 days.  Yeah, I don’t think so.  Spoke to the manager (who understandably tried to explain how their agreements worked, “how can I make this right”, the girl that helped you was new, etc etc etc) about the whole thing and she immediately refunded me.

While YouFit seems like a great, low-cost alternative and I was looking forward to being able to go the the gym and not have to wait for equipment or limit my time on any equipment, plus it is literally 5 minutes from the house...the whole registration process just rubbed me the wrong way and gave me a negative view of the club.  I know of others who are members and like it just fine, and maybe I would have liked it too---IF I had received all of the information up front.  To find all the other details out after I was already signed up (the email didn’t come until the next day)...not cool.

And so I’m back to my outdoor miles, my yoga DVD, free weights in my office and using the teeny tiny gym in my complex (2 treadmills, 1 elliptical, 1 stair machine, 1 recumbent bike and a couple of weight machines) plan instead.  Ah well, I’ve done it before, I’ll be doing it again.

Happy Training Everyone!

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Monday, June 17, 2013

Week 2 mini-success; tip for staying on track; other random things

I am happy to report that week 2 finished with a 1-lb loss.  Not spectacular and amazing like week 1's 4 pound loss, but heck--after coming out of the gate with that 4, I'm not going to knock the 1...after all, that's still 5 pounds in 2 weeks.  Only one sorta-iffy eating day last week-several of us had a training class on Friday at work for a new program we're going to be using (not that anyone's interested, but it's going to be for paperless online on-boarding of new hires-can't wait, should be a HUGE timesaver for us), so our boss had us order in lunch, her treat.  The group decided on Italian and I found a spaghetti/salad combo to get.  The portion of pasta I got?  Heaping.  The portion of salad I got?  Teensy-weensy.  And I hadn't had any of my snacks yet-I keep healthy snacks in my desk drawer like carrots, grapes, pretzels and such-so I was really hungry.  Ate almost the whole thing.  But that was my only bad day, and I tried to adjust my dinner but still hit about 2000 calories for the day instead of my recommended range (which tops out in the 1800s).

One tip I use to stay on track is using the nutrition tracker on the Sparkpeople website to track every single thing I eat.  I know it may seem tiresome to have to enter everything, but it really does make a difference.  It's way too easy to just say, "eh, that's about X calories here, another X there, I'll be fine today" and not track, but then if you go back later and enter those same things on the tracker you suddenly see the OMG amount you REALLY ate.  Thankfully they have a mobile app so that makes it even easier for me to track even if I'm not near a computer.  Plus, you can makes groups of food, or copy meals from one day to for me, I often will have a breakfast of cinnamon swirl toast (sprayed with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter), yogurt and orange juice.  I can just copy that whole meal to another day and not have to enter each thing individually.  There's many good food trackers out there in cyberspace, many of them free (like Sparkpeople's), so whether you track online or use paper and pen, try tracking your food-it really can make a difference.

In other news, my work wardrobe has been getting kind of tired so this weekend was a shopping weekend for me (YAY!).  Got some great buys at Sears, plus two extra $10 award cards and 20,000 extra reward points-worth another $10-from their loyalty program from a promotion they were running=successful clothes shopping trip!  Oh, and did you know JCPenney has workout gear?  And in WOMEN'S sizes?  Yup, scored a running tank top on sale for $8.99.  And while the sizes I got this weekend weren't my ideal, I look forward to watching my new stuff get baggy on me by the fall ;-)

One last thing before I sign off for may (or may not) know that I have another blog all about Walt Disney World stuff called The Disney World Files.  I've got a giveaway going on over there for a cool Color Block Goofy Vinylmation figure...when you have a moment, head on over to check it out and get yourself entered.  The figure would make a neat addition to any Goofy medal display if you have one, or just a fun thing to decorate with, or even use to trade for other Vinylmations with friends or while you're at WDW.  I'd love it if you'd take a look and share with others!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Thoughts on Spirit of the Marathon II-movie review

Went to see Spirit of the Marathon II tonight.  I had snagged a Fandango discount code for $7 off a movie ticket so I figured I'd use it for this (only spent $6.75 on my ticket).

I saw the first one several years ago and it has kind of became a tradition for me to watch it before each race that I do.  It brings out a lot of emotion in you, seeing the stories of the people they follow-their struggles and training and the race itself.  I was looking forward to another dose of that again tonight.

With the first one, they started it pre-marathon, meeting each of the people they were following and then watching their journey (well, not the whole journey of course...that would make for a very long movie LOL), then seeing everyone's highlights from the race itself, culminating in their finishes at the Chicago Marathon.

Tonight's movie again followed several people, but started off with scenes from the start of the race.  Then as it went on, you got to see scenes of each of them at different points in the race-the further into the movie it got, the further into the race the scenes from it showed.  I liked the stories (Julie Weiss had some pretty funny encounters with other runners during the race) and the footage of Rome itself was wonderful (it's on my bucket list for part of a Europe dream trip).

For me, the movie seemed to move a bit slower than the first one, and it also didn't get me as excited and emotional like the first one did.  With the first one, the excitement builds throughout and then peaks as each of the cast cross the finish line (I think too the musical score helped a lot with that, loved the score from the first one).  Tonight's sequel seemed more even-keeled and calmer.  I think a lot of that was due to them spreading out the scenes during the race throughout the movie instead of saving them all for the end.

Personally, I prefer the first one because it does build the excitement and lead you to that emotional finish.  Tonight's was a good movie with good stories, but for me was nothing more than that.  I may or may not buy it when it comes out on DVD or iTunes, but whether I do or not, I'll still be using the first movie as my pre-race inspiration.

I did stay through the credits, after which they had some additional footage of conversations with the interviewees, then there was a short documentary featurette about, a charity that works to get clean water to places that need it...which interested me enough to think about possibly joining their Team World Vision at some time in the future.

So, I'm glad I got to see it, but do I consider it a "keeper" (meaning I'd buy it when it comes out)?  Maybe, maybe not.  We'll see.

Have you seen Spirit of the Marathon II?  If so, what did you think?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Success! And the journey begins again...

Last Sunday I did my initial weigh-in to get myself started back on my weight loss plan.  Then on Monday I started off with just the nutrition portion to get myself back on track.  I logged all of my food as well as my water intake (I use Sparkpeople, fantastic free website with trackers for nutrition, exercise, water intake, measurements and so articles, forums and more).  Oh, and in addition to the initial weigh-in I also did all my measurements this time around.

I was really good all week with my eating.  The ranges I’m supposed to stay in are:

Calories: 1490-1840
Fat: 33-72g
Carbohydrates: 168-299g
Protein: 60-161g
Calcium: 100-150 %RDA
Sodium: 0-2300mg
Fiber (total dietary): 25-35g
Consume at least 8 cups of water per day

Just FYI, these are the recommended ranges for ME based on my current weight, goal weight and amount of time over which I plan on losing weight from the Sparkpeople website.  Just because that’s a range for me and my situation doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what you should do.  If you want to know what your own ranges should be, I’d recommend registering on Sparkpeople, plugging in all your information and you can get your own customized plan.  For me, I’m hoping to lose 85 pounds by the end of the year, though that’s a pretty lofty goal and actually higher than I really should be aiming (but...but...but...I want to be tiny ASAP!  LOL).  If I can get to 65 I’ll be pretty happy with myself and that would have me averaging just over 2 pounds lost per week since there’s 30 weeks from when I started until the end of the year.
I'd love to get this Withings scale, if I could just get over the $149.95 cost!  But I'll take the weight it has showing on it :-)
Calories, fat, carbs and protein were good pretty much all week.  I’ve been under a few days on calcium and fiber...those are the hardest ones for me to hit my numbers.  The other thing that’s hard for me is the water.  Just trying to get to 6 cups a day makes me feel like I’m going to burst.  I think all week I might have had 2 days where I reached 8, all the rest were 6.  Not that I agree with the whole “8 cups a day” thing.  There’s plenty of evidence out there to show that it’s not necessary...and truly, if your urine is coming out a pale lemonade color, you’re hydrated just fine.  And this fall when my training starts to really ramp up while I train for the Disney Full Marathon in January, I’ll be getting plenty to drink with all the water and sports drinks.

Now, one thing you should realize I hadn’t added the exercise component last week.  I wanted to get comfortable back in my good eating habits first.  So when I stepped on the scale yesterday (I weigh in once per week on Sundays), I was totally floored when it showed I had lost 4.2 pounds my first week!  I figured it would be about 1.5 or maybe even 2 if I was lucky so when I saw it was 4.2, I was totally shocked.  And of course, this makes me a bit leery about week 2 since usually that’s a lower week anyway as the body adjusts to the whole weight-loss thing.  BUT-even if this 2nd week isn’t quite as stellar, the first week should make up for it ;-)

So-success for week 1!  Yesterday I added back in strength training with an upper body free weights workout (oh my arms are hollering at me about that!) and tomorrow I go back to my miles...hopefully outside but with the yucky weather we’ve been having lately I’m not going to hold my breath.  I’m actually thinking about joining a gym again.  The 21 Fitness just 2 miles down the street has been changed to a YouFit Health Club and the cost is just $10/month (or I can do $20/month and be able to take a guest every visit if I want, plus discounts on drinks and stuff) there’s no contract.  I’m going to check it out this coming weekend and get DH’s input as well.  Since they just opened as YouFit, they’re running a special with only $29 down instead of their usual $49...and they’re supposed to have tons of machines so you don’t have to wait or limit your time. 

I do have a gym here in my complex, but there’s not much in it (two treadmills, one elliptical, one bike, and maybe 3 or 4 weight machines) and quite often there’s at least one cardio machine down when I go.  Plus the machines here don’t have anyplace for me to put anything, I have to wear my iPod instead of putting it in a holder on the machine (since none of them have one) and my towel, water bottle, etc just get dumped on the floor.  I know, first world problems, right?

All right, gotta go...I still have another 250 calories to consume today so it’s time for an evening snack!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Review: PowerBar’s Performance Energy Blends

As promised, here is my review of the PowerBar Performance Energy Blends.  I received some free samples of the product to try from BzzAgent, a social marketing site that promotes word-of-mouth advertising.  First I’ll give you what I posted as a review on their website:

When I first received the sample of PowerBar's Performance Energy Blends from BzzAgent, I was excited to try it as I was hoping it could be a good alternative to gels for fueling either a workout or long run.  After trying the product, I can say that it is a good fuel option for a short workout (under an hour), though as for using it on a long run for me it would not be ideal as it would not last long enough.  I would have to carry multiple packets with me to use on a long run which frankly I would not have room for in my pockets/belt.  The other thing that I wasn't too thrilled with was the consistency of the product.  It is thinner/more liquid-y than a gel would be and while the flavors were good, I was a bit nauseated by the consistency.  If you can handle something like that while doing strenuous activity, then this would be a good option for you...if not, do like I'll be doing and pass on it for a different option.

Now here’s some more:

The consistency was really what got to me on these.  See, when it comes to gels (like Gu or Hammer, etc), I was always fine with the consistency until about the last year when having 2 or more during a long mile outing was starting to kind of gross me out.  And so I started using Chomps instead.  The Chomps I can handle no problem, after all it’s kind of just like eating gummies.  The only issue with Chomps is them sticking to your teeth, which after a little bit that goes away.  

With the PowerBar Performance Energy Blends, I thought that even with the sort-of gel like consistency (or what I thought would be gel-like from the feel of the packets) I might be able to handle it fine since it was fruit.  Yeah, not so much.  The Blends were actually a thinner/more liquid consistency than the gels and although I did like the flavors I don’t think I could stomach downing those on a regular basis...especially not on a long mile outing.  Consistency aside, as a fuel source it worked fine, though it doesn’t last quite as long as a gel-at least not for me.  But then again, the Gu gels I use have 100 calories and the Blends had 80 so that is probably a part of it not lasting as long.

I had picked up a few extra packets and still have one left in the apple-mango-strawberry flavor if anyone is interested.  I also still have several “$1.50 off of 2 packets” coupons left if anyone would like.  The packet and coupons I have left will be first come, first served so if you’d like either the last packet or some coupons, either comment below or shoot me an email at thedisneyworldfiles at gmail dot com.

Have you tried PowerBar’s Performance Energy Blends?  What did you think?  What is your go-to fueling source?

*As always, even though I received this product for free thanks to the BzzAgent program, all opinions stated above are mine and mine alone.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

My 1st inspiration board attempt; Week 1 so far

I'm not the creative type.  I'm usually pretty bad at coming up with interesting ideas and I'm certainly not the crafty lady.  The craftiest I've gotten is with my cheering sign, just using markers, sparkle glue and extra sparkles with some letter stencils:
Me and my sparkly cheer sign before the 2011 Princess Half Marathon
So after putting up my last post (from guest post author Michelle Pino) about creating an inspiration board to meet your health goals, I was a little stumped on how to begin.  I knew the central image would be a Mickey medal as that is my goal-to finish the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon in January...which I'm going to achieve by losing weight, getting fit and training properly.

I've been down this road before-back in late 2008 I got really serious and got back on the Sparkpeople website that I had joined about a year prior (and just never really used) and really focused on losing weight.  Over the next year and few months between diet, exercise and then training for my first half marathon-the 2010 Disney Half Marathon-I wound up losing 45 pounds.  After that first race and several follow-up half marathons, I started to slack off a bit.  And then a bit more...and wound up almost all the way back where I started.  But when I was losing the weight, the things I needed to keep reminding myself of were to drink my water and do my strength training--two things I was very bad at keeping up.  And then once I kind of burned myself out after so many races in a short time period, I took a long (too long) break, after which it was really hard to get motivated again.

So I added pictures of water (my Brita pitcher and some bottled water that I just happened to have left over from my Sanibel trip) and some of my strength and flexibility training accessories (yoga mat, resistance bands, hand weights) to remind myself of their importance.  It's really hard for me to drink a lot of water.  Not just because I find the taste boring and plain-that's what Mio and Crystal Light are for-but also because I'm just not that thirsty.  My body seems to be able to stay hydrated on less water than the "recommended" eight 8-oz glasses a day and no matter how I space out my water consumption throughout the day, 64 ounces just makes me feel like I'm going to burst!  I can handle 48 ounces pretty well every day, so as long as I get to that point I'm happy (and yes, when I go to the bathroom it's always that nice pale lemonade color-if I get to that 64 ounce point it's just about clear...which is not necessarily a good thing).

As for the strength training, I just get bored doing it.  It's very repetitive and is nowhere near as engaging as heading outside to do miles where I can see all the interesting things going on around me.  I do want to get back into doing yoga.  I have a yoga DVD specifically for people who are heavier that I like to use and I always feel good and stretched out afterward.  I know the strength training and exercises to make me more flexible will help me in the long run (figuratively and literally LOL) so that's why I included that picture of some of my accessories.

I also like to have visual representations, being able to visualize what my weight loss will potentially look like is motivational for me.  I love looking at other people's before/after pictures because it inspires me to do the same for myself.  And so I used the virtual weight loss simulator at to make a before/after simulation to use on my board.  And yes, I'll be taking pictures to document my weight loss this time...another motivation for me personally as I know I'll push to stay on the wagon so I can have pics that show my progress.

The last picture I have on my board is of some food-a Chicken Caesar Salad specifically (you can find the recipe for the one in the picture here).  This is just to remind me to choose healthy things.  Now granted, a Chicken Caesar Salad could potentially be pretty bad for you depending on how much dressing and how the chicken is cooked, but for me the picture is a representation of healthy eating-not necessarily about the particular entree pictured.  Though just to mention it, I never put dressing on my me dressing is just yucky-and kind of defeats the purpose of my salad anyway.  Some people say the dressing is for flavor, but I put some cheese and bacon bits on my salads to achieve that (I'm really bad about getting enough protein and fat in my diet, I'm usually a HUGE carb addict-this is just one way to get some other nutrients in there).

Anyway, I added the "NO EXCUSES" since I'm awful about that (too tired, don't feel like it, I'll do it tomorrow instead, etc etc etc).  I'd like to figure out how to fill the empty parts of the background with color fill, but it doesn't seem to be working for me.  I still need to tweak it so it flows better and there's less white space...but, here's what I've got so far.  Let me know what you think:
Oh, and for those who are following along...I restarted my program this week with the nutrition part.  So far this week I've been doing good, staying within my calorie range and doing well with carbs/protein/fat and other nutrients.  My only issue is my calcium.  Most days I'm under, only reaching about 80% of the recommended amounts.  I'd rather get my nutrients from my food and not have to resort to taking a supplement so I'm trying to figure out how to do that.  First week weigh-in is on we go again!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Guest Post: Meet Your Health Goals with an Inspirational Board

As many of you know, I'm basically starting back at square one after a lot of backsliding both in my eating and my training.  I was recently contacted by Michelle Pino, a Spa Manager in Verona, NY about creating a post for my readers to help find what inspires them.  I've never had someone do a guest post before, but after reading about her ideas, I thought this would be something many friends and readers would find helpful in their own journeys (especially those of you who are crafters).  I hope you find you own inspiration :-)  

Falling into a rut can make it even harder to reach your goals for better physical health. Fortunately, there is a simple method that can make it easier to maintain your focus even during times when the going gets rough. Creating a “fitspiration” board is one way to generate some excitement about the great things that your workout routine and diet are doing for your health. If you are looking for a fun way to meet your health goals, then here is what you need to do to get inspired.

1. Find Inspirational Images
To get started, you will need to begin searching for inspirational images. Try to begin without a specific idea in mind and let your feelings guide you to the right image. Pictures of athletes, favorite hobbies and nature scenes can all be great places to start. Additionally, consider adding song lyrics or quotes that make you feel inspired.

2. Identify Your Main Image
Once you have found your inspirational images, you will need to find one that can serve as an anchor for the rest of the piece. This main image should provide a general overview of the rest of your pictures. Once you have found your anchor image, place it in the center of your board so that it will be the main focus for your inspiration.

3. Develop a Central Theme
Using the main image, you can then begin to add more pictures to your board that focus on your main theme. This can be anything that inspires you from healthy recipes to vacation destinations. As you place your pieces, notice how they fit into the rest and let your inspiration guide you throughout the placement of each new piece.

4. Observe for a Week
After finishing your board, it is best to let it rest for a week. During this week, observe how it makes you feel. Does it catch your eye as you go about your routine? Is it the first thing you look at each morning? Does anything about the board need to be changed? By taking the time to assess your board, you will make sure that it has the greatest impact.

5. Make Adjustments
After your week of observation, it will be time to make any adjustments to the board that may be necessary. If an image does not resonate with you, then remove it and place another one on the board. Then, sit with the board for a few more days.

6. Hang in a Prominent Location
Now that you are certain that your board is perfect, you will be ready to place it in a prominent location. This can be in your bedroom, kitchen or the main entrance of your home. Wherever you put it, make sure to look at it daily to stay reminded of your goals.

For sticking to your health goals, an inspirational board can be the perfect way to keep your goals in mind. This easy-to-prepare board should include only the images that make you feel inspired. Once in place, you will have a constant reminder of the importance you place on staying healthy and fit.

1.) Yoga focuses the mind and body, teaching ourselves to find a spiritual balance.  I also love that yoga can be done anywhere, even the beach! Yoga is great for beginners and the more advanced athlete.  Source: Yoga
2.) Sneakers- An easy to way to stir up some motivation is to treat yourself to some new workout gear!  Choose fun colors that will make you excited to show them off at the gym!
3.) I’m new to golf, but I find it very relaxing.   I’ve been learning at the Turning Stone Golf Academy, which is a New York resort.  They’ve got great instructors, and several courses to practice on.  Source: Turning Stone Resort
4.) Love this Nike quote: so simple but so true! Source: Women's Gear
5.) Your body needs nutritious foods as fuel for when you exercise.  A great source of clean eating recipes is Clean and Delicious.  They have delicious recipes along with instructional videos including a clean chicken & veggie stir-fry recipe.  

Michelle has provided these tips in hopes to educate others on how to lead a more organized and less stressful life.  Michelle believes a more organized approach to tasks will result in more completed goals.  Her hobbies include crafting, catching up on her favorite TV shows and learning about healthy lifestyles.  Michelle is thankful to have had the opportunity to work with Carra and together share their ideas on “­­­­­­­­­Making it Happen”.

I've already started working on my own board.  With my new main goal (other than the weight loss of course) of the Disney Full Marathon in January 2014, my main central image will be a Mickey medal.  In a few days I'll be posting a picture of my board once it's done, I hope if you decide to make your own board that you'll put a link to it in the comments section to share with everyone.  I also welcome any feedback about having guest posts.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend Sanibel Trip 2013

Just a heads up, many pics in this post :-)

You may remember last year for Memorial Day weekend I headed over to Sanibel Island, FL for some beach time with my mom.  This year, did the same thing except my brother also joined us (due to various reasons none of our spouses could make the trip).  I got out of work early from my “day” job on Friday so I made sure my bags were already packed so I could just toss them in the car and go.  

Mom had gotten the same condo unit we were in last year at Sanibel Arms West again and my brother already had dinner going when I arrived (thanks Ran, it was yummy!).  Went for a walk on the beach after dinner and a little relaxing while the sun went down.  

Lots of people had been writing things in the person had even drawn a HUGE floorplan of a house (you could tell by the things he drew in the rooms like furniture and appliances).  It was low tide and there were plenty of shells, though I only wound up picking up one--tiny, but it’s a stunner:

I was exhausted after a busy week at work (prepping for our annual open enrollment for benefits) so once the sun went down I crashed on the couch to relax and catch up on email and other computer stuff.  I wound up sleeping about 9 hours straight that night so I missed the sunrise Saturday morning, but I really needed the rest.  We went off the island Saturday to do some outlet shopping and have lunch.  Once we came back we stopped at a popular ice cream shop on the island called Pinocchio’s (located of course inside Geppetto’s market) where I came across their totally YUMMY “Dirty Sand Dollar” flavor.  Couldn’t pass it up--caramel, malted milk balls and chocolate chunks in a vanilla-based ice cream, sooooo good!  Oh, and every creation they serve comes topped with an animal cracker :-)


Got to bed at a decent hour so was able to catch the sunrise Sunday morning:
Sunrise to the left

Moonset to the right

And got two fun pics of me and mom on the beach (sadly, my brother had to leave that morning since he had to get back to do prep work for his cafe for the following week):
With the sunrise behind us...

Came across some more fund sand stuff:

Highlight of the morning?  Dolphins!  They were swimming in really close to shore (probably for the little bait fish that swim close in), I took these pics without the zoom from right at the water line:

It was nice to see many people running/jogging/powerwalking on the beach.  Me?  No.  This mini-vacation was for me to relax, relax, relax.  No work, no exercise, no nothing-I even forgot to bring a book to read so just sat in my comfy chair under my canopy tent (which I put up all by myself) and watched the water and the people...and the dolphins of course.  No thinking, no stressing.  Perfect.

After seven hours on the beach (!) we relaxed in the condo before heading out to dinner at Jacaranda.  I had gotten a $25 certificate from before the trip so we had a really great meal for a great price:

Mmm...filet medallions...
The only downside to Sunday?  Since I had put my tent up and wasn’t planning on being out in the direct sun, I didn’t put any sunscreen on my legs.  Normally they almost never burn, never tan-really, even as pale as I am, don’t know why...I mean, it takes me ages to even get a sock tan when race training.  You can probably see where this is heading, right?  Well, my tent isn’t a heavy canvas, it’s a more airy, breathable fabric...and apparently doesn’t block the sun’s rays very well as this is what I wound up with:

No lectures necessary, I already know.  It’s much better now, though I’m dreading the peeling part.  And even though the pic of the tent I posted shows the sun getting under it, that pic was from early morning when the sun was coming from the side-didn't take long for it to get high enough so the tent was casting shade on my legs.  So remember folks, even if you’re going to be under a tent, PUT THE SUNSCREEN ON.  Seriously.

Anyway, Monday dawned a bit cloudy so that made leaving to go back home to reality a bit easier.  It was a nice weekend spending time with my mom and brother, something I don’t do very often.  I’ll leave you with my favorite sand writing from the weekend (which I also texted to DH the night I took the pic):

What did you do to relax over the holiday weekend?

PS-Don't forget to hop over to my other blog, The Disney World Files...I'm doing a fun giveaway for a Vinylmation figure!  Please also share with friends and family-the giveaway goes until June 28th so you have plenty of time to enter (and many ways to get entries) and help me spread the word for my WDW blog :-)  I'll be giving away a Vinylmation figure once a month for the next couple of months!  Good luck!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Time to relax...

Time for the long holiday weekend.  Me?  This is what I'll be doing all weekend.  :-)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Angry Birdies

The Angry Birdie
Can you see him?  Sitting up there at the top of the mostly-branches, barely-any-leaves tree?  Looks relatively innocuous, right?  Uh-huh, sure.

And then you realize there's a scrawny little nest in that scrawny little tree...and you start running for your life the moment Mr. I'm-just-a-little-birdie-don't-mind-me takes to the air...

...cuz this sucker is out for blood and will attack your head, arms and anywhere else he sees fit to keep you away from his tree.  That's right boys and girls, those frisky little birdies are laying their Spring eggs and heaven help you if you parked your car right next to one of their trees.  At my office, we get to play a unique form of Angry Birds every day trying to get into and out of the building every day.  Seriously.

Welcome to SoFla's "Spring" may want to carry an umbrella at all times.  Don't say I didn't warn you.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Expedition Everest Challenge 2013 Race Report Part 2-The Race

After two days of volunteering and a mostly rained-out attempt at the Magic Kingdom Friday night, I decided to chill out in my room Saturday afternoon instead of heading to a park.  I thought I might take a nap, but I might have fallen asleep for maybe 20-30 minutes max...I spent most of the time eating lunch and then reading instead.

Headed to the start area not too early--this year it was a 10pm start.  The weather was pretty good for this time of the year-71 with a little breeze and not too humid (for's all relative anyway).  I arrived and just wandered around until I saw Steve, Katie and their daughter (Running of the Ears friends), then I hung out with them for a bit.  I didn’t see any other ROTErs (though I knew some were there), but some of my local friends arrived and we got a quick pic before heading over to the corrals (borrowed the pic from my friend Amy at The Point One Will Getcha! since mine had icky lighting, thanks Amy!).  

This year for the corrals, instead of the individuals going in the first corral and the teams coming after, we were assigned corrals by pace.  There were corrals A-H; I was in F...kind of a bummer after getting to start in the first corral the last two years.  The corrals themselves were not big enough to fit everyone so we were spilling out the back of it.  As each wave was sent off and we moved closer to the front, we were finally able to fit into the chute...also the closer to the front, they had “snow” falling onto us from high above.  Our wave wound up starting at 10:30pm.

One thing that bugged many of us-even though corrals were supposedly assigned by pace (you had to indicate your anticipated pace when you registered), as each corral was sent off, you could see that every single corral (even corral A) had people at the very back walking-and not necessarily a fast walk either.  I had been honest about my pace when I registered-I was thinking they’d still have individuals first, probably ordered by pace, then teams the same way so I figured I still wouldn’t be at the back, even indicating that I would be one of the slowest paces...I didn’t know they would put individuals and teams mixed into every corral based on pace.  While I wasn’t put in the last corral, I thought they may have moved me up based on my times (5K and scavenger hunt) from last year. 

Since I hadn’t done much running-mostly walking-in the months leading up to the race, I started off at a brisk walk and figured I’d add in running if I felt up to it.  The course started off like the last two years, around the parking lot until we came to the first obstacles-the hay bales to hurdle over.  I did run through this-it’s a lot easier to hurdle hay bales when you’re running than when you’re walking.

Then on into the park for a bit before heading backstage.  They changed up the course a bit so we saw some different backstage portions than before.  The second obstacle was the tires.  They had a long line of tires set up (like what you used to see football players go through) and by the time I got there, it was a sea of people one after the other in a big line going thru them.  There were about 7 or 8 people waiting to start the tires in each line, and since I’m a clumsy one, I skipped it and went off-road around them.  The final obstacle was the net to crawl under, but again this year I couldn’t fathom crawling down there with the dirt being kicked up--I have enough problems with my allergies as it is...and so I went around this one too.  I probably would’ve gotten through it faster if I crawled since the sand around it was soft and not conducive to any kind of fast pace at all.

After crossing the 5K finish which was back outside of the park (not my slowest 5K time ever, but still pretty slow for me at 54:40, a 17:35 pace...but I did walk almost the whole thing), I got my first clue.  I was only handed the clue card and flashlight, and asked about a marker, but was told I wouldn’t need one.  Here’s Clue #1:

“Zero in” told me to look for the zeroes and once I did, you could see they made the letters “NW” for Northwest.  Told the volunteer at the first station just outside the entrance to the park my answer and I was given Clue #2:

“Heads up”-start at the top, “high and low”, go up and get Northeast.  On to Camp Minnie-Mickey, gave my answer and got Clue #3:

This one I got immediately.  26--easy, that’s the number of letters in the alphabet, 19 and 23 are the letters S and W for Southwest.  Hurried to Africa, gave my answer and got Clue #4:

Okay, this one stumped me for a bit (and many other people).  I understood from the hints that I should start at the top line and look down the rows to get the answer but for the life of me I couldn’t see where in the top line to start.  Finally saw “nor” from normally, next line right below that was “the”, then right under that was the “ast” from “fast” which gives you Nor-the-ast...Northeast...and on to Asia for the Final Clue (#5).  When I got there, tons of runners were sitting all over the ground trying to figure out this clue:

So basically we had to put the other 4 clues together, turning them the correct way based on each clue’s answer to get this:

See the symbol in the middle?  We were supposed to point at the flag on our bib that had that symbol after we crossed the finish so the volunteer would know we solved it before we got our medal.  Me?  Yeah, I had no idea...just like all those other people who were sprawled everywhere trying to figure it out.  Since I knew we had to use the previous clues to solve the final one, I kept looking at them and the only thing that popped out at me was the colors the clues were printed on-blue for the first one, white for the second, red for the third and green for the fourth.  My not-so brilliant idea was, hey, we didn’t use yellow for those...and the final clue was on yellow, so I’ll just point to the yellow flag, right?  Yeah, not so much.  I headed to the finish line.

The volunteer I went to for my medal was one that I had worked with that morning at the refreshments table, and when I pointed to the yellow flag, she said, “ah,, rhymes with right...”.  Oh.  Okay.  So I pointed to the white flag with a silly grin and she draped my medal around my neck.  White? Huh?  I got my banana, Clif Bar and Powerade and hung out after the finish chute waiting for Amy and her hubby (our other friends are way faster than us and were already done and back in the park).  She explained how the last clue was supposed to work.  I wasn’t about to try to figure it out again then, so we headed on into the park for the After-Party.

In addition to the rides in Dino-Land being open, they also had Kali River Rapids and the headliner, Expedition Everest available to ride.  I had been looking forward to that all night!  And what’s even better than riding Expedition Everest at night (the absolute best time to ride it!)? Sitting in the front row of course!  We rode twice before I decided to call it a night.

Overall I had a great time-this is still my favorite Disney race and I’ll keep coming back every year if I’m able.  My overall time this year was slower, in part due to my much slower 5K portion (2011 I did 47:17 and 2012 I did 48:44 for the 5K part) but also due to the difficulty of this year’s clues.  My final overall time?  1:32:42.  Women, 355/608; 599/954 overall in the individuals.  The 5K portion was of course 3.1 miles; the scavenger hunt added another 1.73 miles for a total of 4.83 miles for the entire race.  And for those interested, here’s the crazy overall map from my Garmin:

Have you ever done a 5K “Adventure” race like this?  Would you ever want to try the Expedition Everest Challenge?