04/1/15

How to make friends (and not get hashtagged #Targetstalker)

Have you seen this yet? Ball Pit Turns Strangers Into Friends
No? Go ahead and click on it. It’s only a few minutes and sooo worth the watch. I’ll wait.

……….. *this is me waiting*………….

Back? Great! What did you think? Amazing huh? Don’t you think we need more ball pits in the world?

I mean making friends when you’re a kid is SO easy. Whether it be a ball pit, playground, sandbox, or lunchroom table at school, making friends as a child pretty much consisted of 3 actions:

1. Make eye contact.
2. Laugh at something together, OR share something with each other, OR like something the other person has/is wearing/etc.
3. BFFs.

Of course there are those special exceptions, like when an adult forces you to be friends aka like how I met my dear friend Meghan way back in once upon a time time (6th grade). Our teacher asked us if we would befriend this poor child who was just a social outcast in our class. I guess she pegged us as the “nice girls” and within moments we were game-planning how we would befriend the girl. Flash forward to 2015 and Meghan and I are still great friends.

Unfortunately, when the school and college days are over, and you’re faced with jobs, relationships, responsibilities and babies, making friends becomes a thousand times more complicated. And I don’t think it’s for lack of trying. It just becomes more of an awkward ordeal than when we were kids. I mean just try going up to that friendly looking individual walking around Target, gripping the same Starbucks drink as you are, and try to drum up a conversation about that stylish lamp in her shopping cart.

Suddenly you find yourself on her Twitter with a hashtag #Targetstalker.

Right now I’m very fortunate to have an awesome group of girlfriends whom I have met over the past few years (yes, as an adult!) that completely have my back, and can laugh with through all of our life adventures. Some of them I met through mutual friends; some through teaching; some I met through blogging; others through Meetups and events; and some through social media & websites! I was lucky enough to never have to follow someone around a grocery store. Yet. ;)

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I’ve seen a lot of talk lately on social media about adult friendships. When the ball pit video was making the rounds, I knew something was definitely up. Maybe it’s more noticeable when you’re in your mid-30’s that making new friends IS quite the feat. Maybe it’s because by the time we’re in our 30’s we’ve lost friends, been hurt, etc. and we know how it could pan out, so we avoid it altogether? Maybe we feel like we just don’t have the time in our busy lives to get to know someone new.10367579_10152521352222474_5301246507757741120_n

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However, when you realize that good friends are a necessity, you put the work into finding them, and keeping them. Sometimes there’s an instant connection and no work is needed at all. Sometimes you feel the need to give a person an application. (I’ve never done this. Just for the record). ;)

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Here are my tips for meeting new people, and making life long friends. I’m no friendship expert (I’ve had my share of disasters!), but maybe you’ll be able to take something from this post and get out there and mingle!

*Join a Meetup group, club, volunteer organization or sports league. Finding others with common interests is the best way to drum up conversations and make connections that will lead to potential long-lasting friendships. Oh, and make sure you talk to people and don’t just stand there like a statue. Smile, make eye contact, crack a joke or two. Otherwise you’ll end up on Instagram, yet again. Hashtag #weirdstatueperson

*Strike up a conversation with someone. I mean, ok, you could totally compliment Target lady about her lamp choice without potentially ending up on Twitter. But it’s necessary to learn how to feel people out. If she says “thanks” and walks away quickly, don’t follow her. If she says “thanks- I think it will go great with the color I just painted my living room”, feel free to proceed with step 2 and ask her about the color. Look for those natural opportunities to extend conversations.

*Use social media to your advantage. Branch out from online connections and find ways to get to know one another in real life! Make sure it’s mutual. For example: host a volunteer day (like volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House!) and invite some of your online blogging buddies, or online fitness pals to come along. It’s a great way to do something nice for others while making some new friends! 

*Keep things no pressure. Friendships should progress naturally. Don’t expect to be BFF’s in a day.

*As relationships evolve from acquaintances to friends, always remember to be reliable, honest, loyal, trustworthy, a good listener and a good friend. What does it mean to be a good friend? It means you have something to bring to the table. Dumping all of your “woe to me’s” onto a person day in and day out is exhausting, and it will push people away. Friendships need a good balance of give and take. Make sure you recognize your own strengths and know what you can contribute.

*Choose your friends wisely. Don’t befriend someone just because. If a friendship becomes unhealthy, stressful or demanding, move on. There is no time for negativity and unhealthy relationships at our age!

*Introduce new friends to your current friends. That’s the easiest (and best) way to build a network of awesome people to surround yourself with!10297843_10152104994313379_6704489385038678414_n

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8869_661218670908_423101871_nDo you find you have trouble making friends as an adult? What are some things that have worked for you? :)

Steph

03/29/15

PiYo for Plus Sizes- April Challenge!

Back in the Fall I added something called PiYo to my workout regimen (read all about PiYo in my intro post by clicking here!). Unfortunately I did not complete the entire 30 day challenge I had set to accomplish, so I’ve dusted off the DVDs and heading BACK for a 2nd shot! 

Life’s all about second chances, right? ;)

I’ll be starting this 30 day challenge on April 1 following the suggested workout calendar that’s included in the DVD set (Total no brainer!) to supplement my Orangetheory workouts and running. 

And let me tell you; I cannot WAIT to start. Flexibility is NOT my strength. I mean saying I’m “inflexible” doesn’t even cut it. I’m stiff, rigid, awkward, clumsy, and hell if those fat rolls don’t get in the WAY. 

BUT…….

I know, in time, I will improve. And I’m really looking forward to seeing my progress as I journey through the next 30 days of this month-long PiYo challenge. PiYo really is designed with ANY body type in mind. The workout is packed with modifications, and if there’s something you just can’t do (right now), skip it, or do something you CAN do in its place (squats or lunges are always my go-to filler!). 

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Even at Orangetheory I make modifications if there’s something that causes me pain or discomfort that just doesn’t feel right. For example, the extra weight I carry is killer on my wrists. So things like pushups and burpees always do a number on them. I modify pushups like many people do- by getting on my knees whenever I need a break. And for burpees, well I have to credit Coach Jeff at OTF for showing me how to do burpees on the weight bench. They still get my heart rate pumping, without causing wrist pain.

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What I loved about PiYo when I first tried it last Fall is that I’m able to use many of these modifications (and others I didn’t even know about!) to ensure I’m completing the poses with proper alignment, and focusing on form in an effort to avoid injury and get the most out of what the workout has to offer. 

In the end it comes down to knowing your body, knowing your strengths and weaknesses, and working WITH them, not against them. It’s SO easy to get frustrated, self-conscious or even quit when fitness becomes awkward or challenging. But if you stay calm, stay positive and stick with it, you’ll find that you’ll be able to reap the benefits sooner than later. 

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Flexibility comes with practice.
Results come from consistency.
Strength comes from determination. 

Here are the workouts I’ll be doing over the next 30 days:

  • Align: The Fundamentals (40 min.): This workout breaks down the most important and effective moves in the program to help you perfect your form and get the best results possible.
  • Define: Lower Body (25 min.): Get your sleekest and leanest legs ever as you lengthen and strengthen your entire lower body—from your glutes and hamstrings to your calves.
  • Define: Upper Body (20 min.): Use this incredibly effective workout to start chiseling away at your upper body to help shape your arms, carve out your triceps, and define sexy shoulders.
  • Sweat (35 min.): A traditional PiYo workout that incorporates effective dynamic conditioning, fast-paced cardio yoga-flows, and bodyweight resistance strength training to help sculpt your entire body.
  • Core (30 min.): This ab-centric workout hits your powerhouse from every angle to build a strong core, flat, sculpted abs and obliques, as well as a strong and sexy back.
  • Strength Intervals (25 min.): Twenty-five minutes is all you need of this nonstop body-carving, calorie-incinerating workout that uses no weights, no equipment, and gives you no bulk!
  • Drench (45 min.): This endurance workout maximizes fat burning while it works every muscle in your body. It will not only leave you drenched—it will kick-start your metabolism as you scorch away the fat.
  • Sculpt (30 min.): This workout uses varying tempos to keep your muscles under tension for different periods of time. This generates muscular endurance and metabolic changes that will totally transform your figure.
  • Full Body Blast (30 min.): A total-body workout that uses the Beachbody Strength Slides to push your fat-burning potential into overdrive in just 30 minutes.
  • Strong Legs (30 min.): Use the Beachbody Strength Slides to lunge, squat, and stretch your way to amazing quads, glutes, and hamstrings for your strongest, leanest, and most defined legs ever.

If you’re interested in doing this 30 day PiYo challenge with me, let me know!

Have you tried yoga, Pilates or PiYo? Do you have any suggestions for plus sized athletes? Do share!

Steph :)

03/23/15

How do you make people feel?

Sometime over the weekend I happened to pop onto Twitter and noticed that Monica Lewinsky was trending.

For a moment my mind diverted to “uh oh, why is she back in the news”, but my thoughts soon shifted after I took a moment to watch the reason as to why she was gaining such attention again.

Unless you were too young to remember, I’m sure you know who Ms. Lewinsky is; and why she’s a household name. And until I watched her Ted Talk, I hadn’t realized just how long she’s been in hiding. Since that infamous White House Scandal, she has been completely off the radar. Silent, as she puts it. I also hadn’t realized just how young she was back in 1998 when this whole thing happened. 

Monica Lewinsky’s Ted Talk brings to light a couple of things. For the first time since the late 90’s she has come forth talking about the scandal, the emotional baggage she carries because of it, and the lessons she’s learned. She didn’t use the Ted Talk as a “woe to me” speech. It wasn’t about asking for forgiveness or excusing what happened back then. In fact she comes right out and says “I was a naive 22 year old girl who fell in love with her boss”. What she did do, however, was take this opportunity to take something that has humiliated her for years and turn it into something positive. 

Her message is simple: bullying, humiliating and shaming people has got to stop. She specifically focused on the cyber aspect of these behaviors and how it has become almost a “norm” these days to make people feel like crap from behind a screen. 

We all see it. And as much as I can, I try to avoid it. And I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. 

Comments. 

Someone posts a picture of a “fat” person crossing the finish line of a race and you can guarantee you’ll see comments under the post such as “they shouldn’t be running- it will damage their knees” or “that’s just disgusting.” 

Or someone decides to post a video of themselves dancing or singing on Youtube. Again, you can guarantee you’ll be reading comments to the tune of “don’t quit your day job” or “what a dumbass.”

In fact there’s a whole website dedicated to making fun of bloggers and their content. Pages upon pages upon pages of forums littered with negative, belittling, and degrading comments. 

The internet has given people the power to say things that most wouldn’t say in person. It’s an unfortunate side effect of this convenient, digital world we live in. And as much as we’d like to ignore this idea, bullying of ANY kind can drive a person to a very, very dark place. So dark, some may never find the light again. 

Monica spoke about times when her mother wouldn’t let her take a shower without the door open for fear she may do something to hurt herself. The humiliation of the scandal put her into a very dark place, but with time, she was able to rise from it. And now, she’s using the experience as a way to pay it forward by spreading the messages that it’s NOT ok to purposefully bully, humiliate or shame someone. We all have struggles to endure, walls to climb, and barriers to break down. Why make life more difficult for another person by degrading them? Isn’t life hard enough?

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Instead of thinking of that perfect insult, “dig”, or meme that makes a person feel like an idiot or embarrassed, how about digging deep and finding something uplifting to say to them. Something that builds them up, makes them feel accomplished, or even proud of themselves. Why do we feel this constant need to make people feel bad about themselves? What’s the point?

I challenge you to post 3 positive comments online today. They can be on a blog post or somewhere on social media. In addition, I challenge you to say 1 positive thing to someone you cross paths with today in person. Maybe someone at work is complaining about how awful Mondays are. Instead of saying “yeah, I know right? Monday’s SUCK!” pay them a compliment instead. It may be just the thing they need to get through the first day of a work week. 

Being mean to someone on purpose is a choice. Whether you’re doing it from behind a computer screen or in person, we all choose our words. No matter how you were raised, where you are from, or what your story is, you can choose to start sharing the love. Nobody says you have to continue this path of negativity. There is no reputation to live up to. There is no one to impress. In the end, what matters most is how you made people feel. That is how people will remember you. 

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No matter if you’re 12 or 60, it’s never too late to change how your story will end. 
“You can insist on a different ending to your story” -Monica Lewinsky

-Steph  

03/17/15

I’m a half marathoner!

I never thought these words would EVER come out of my mouth, but….

I’M A HALF MARATHONER!

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I can sum up my experience in just 4 words: what a crazy adventure!

For the most part, as far as distance goes, I was prepared for this race. I trained hard and long, supplemented my runs with strength workouts at Orangetheory, and made sure my emotional state was an “I can do this” mentality. 

What I wasn’t prepared for was the heat and humidity. Unfortunately from December through now, our weekends have been pretty cool- even somewhat chilly at times. So most of my training was done in colder temperatures- a problem I would soon face head on around mile 7!

But let’s start at the beginning…. race morning.

I didn’t sleep much the night before. My head was spinning, and I kept on thinking about the what ifs.

What if I don’t finish before the cutoff time?
What if I don’t finish at ALL?
What if I get hurt?

By the time I kept asking all of life’s big race questions I found myself springing out of bed, getting dressed, prepping a strawberry Shakeology, waking up the guy, and heading out the door. PS- It was the guy’s BIRTHDAY this same day. Who gets up at 4:00am to drive 60 miles away to watch their girlfriend run her first half marathon? My Brian does. And that makes him boyfriend of the year, fo real. ;)

The drive from Tampa to Sarasota was pretty fast, and before I knew it I was walking toward the start line. 

With 10 minutes left until start time, I needed to find a bathroom stat. The shake + a full glass of water went straight to my bladder! The port-o-let lines were long, but fast moving, and by 7:11, I was crossing under the start line. 

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It was pretty dark when we started, but as we approached mile 1 the sun began to rise. I was surprised at how quickly mile 1 went by! I felt GREAT. My legs felt strong, there was a cool breeze off the water, and I was holding onto a (comfortable for me) 14:00 pace. We went up and over the gigantic, dreaded Ringling Causeway Bridge and rounded through miles 2 and 3 around beautiful St. Armand’s Circle. 

photo-1-14238-20110922102956What I thought would be most difficult for me, turned out to be no big deal at all. My favorite part of the race was the first half- running next to the water, up and over the bridge and then through St. Armand’s and back over the bridge a 2nd time. The weather remained on the cool side and the breeze from the water was a nice treat!

Running through St. Armand's!

Running through St. Armand’s!

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Heading over the bridge!

As I headed toward the half way point, Brian came out to the road to cheer me on from the sidelines. :)

I passed the relay switch point, still maintaining a good pace at around a 14:40 min mile, passed through miles 7 and 8 (ate some delicious strawberries that a group was giving out!) and then really started to hit a big, hot, sun-blazing wall.

The 2nd half of the race isn’t as scenic as the first. It’s basically all open road along highway 41 from the half-way point through about mile 8. And that sun beating down on me, mixed with the heat from cars along the road did me in! When we turned to head back through the neighborhoods, I was happy to have some much needed shade!

Attempting to smile at mile 10.

Attempting to smile at mile 10.

I checked in with my chicas a few times (we have a Facebook chat that we all keep up with) and Brian giving them a few updates along the way. At mile 10 is where a bad case of the “I can’ts” began to set in. I sent B a text that said something along the lines of “I don’t think I’m going to be able to do it” and the chicas got an update to the tune of “I’m fading! I over it!” But with some much needed encouragement, they pushed me through mile 10, 11 and 12- which were my slowest out of the entire race. By mile 12 my feet were barely moving. I was SO hot. My feet were aching. My shoulders were sore and tight. I was ready to give up.

I sent Brian another text telling him I didn’t think I could make the last mile. And even though I kept telling myself “You just did 12 miles! You can do 1 more!”, I was ready to have him pick me up in the car just so I could sit. 

I wanted to sit SO badly. Every curb, park bench, house porch that passed, I was tempted to sit. But I didn’t.

As I approached the last .75 of the race, Brian met up with me to help me finish.

It was the perfect distraction. I complained, cursed, cried, and talked about the race all the way to the chute where I ran to the finish line (while he went and got the car-like I said, I was over it at this point!). I was so happy to see Nanci at the finish line cheering me on. She looked fantastic- and I’m sure I gave her a “What the hell did I just do” look. I had actually met up with her in the morning before the race as well, but I was so nervous (and mildly panicking) that I barely said 2 words to her- I just wanted to start and get going! (Sorry Nanci!) <3

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That’s my “holy crap I finished” face.

My clock time: 3:55!
My Chip/GPS time: 3:44!
Totally happy with that, no doubt. I finished under 4:00, and ultimately, that was the goal. To finish!

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So the big question is… will I do it again?

At the moment, absolutely NOT. This distance is NO joke. It was hard! So so so hard. But once the soreness subsides, maybe my mind will change. For now, I see a lot of 5 and 10ks in my future. ;)

The fact of the matter is, I did it. I earned my (huge!) race bling, and the rights to this baby on the back of my car…

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 -Steph :) 

03/17/15

Spring Beer Fling #Tampa & a Giveaway!

What are you doing THIS Saturday?
How about joining me at Big City Events’ Spring Beer Fling at Curtis Hixon Park in Downtown Tampa?
Beer (and beer cocktails!), music, games, retro grooviness… what’s not to love?
 
You can eat, drink and be merry on Saturday, March 21, 2015 from 12PM-10PM!
 
The event is sponsored by Sam Adams, there will be plenty of beer to go around along with other beverages.
I’m excited to try the Beer-lini! What’s a Beer-lini? It’s simple! Beer + pureed fruit of your choice!
Florida Beer Co.’s Southermost wheat + Mango puree anyone?
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Live bands will be performing all day, full list is HERE.
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For more information, click HERE and on make sure to like the Spring Beer Fling on Facebook. 
 
VIP tickets are also available for $75 ($85 after March 21st). 
 
What’s included with VIP tickets ? VIP Fling Experience  is the best way to enjoy the Spring Beer Fling with access to our VIP Retro Lounge where you will enjoy UNLIMITED DRINKS of Beer Cocktails, Beers, Liquor, Wine, and Water.  (VIP Drinks Inside the VIP Throwback Lounge ONLY)  

The VIP RetroLounge features a retro inspired decor that will take you back in time as our surf rock bands take the stage all day!   

VIP Tickets are extremely limited to for your festival enjoyment.  Buy yours today! This experience will sell out!

WOULD YOU LIKE TO WIN A PAIR OF TICKETS FOR YOU AND A FRIEND?

I’m giving away 4 pairs of General Admission tickets! Just comment below telling me which drink you’re excited to try at the fest. I’ll choose a winner on Thursday! :)

Good luck and see you there! -Steph

03/14/15

Tomorrow is the big day! 13.1!

Tomorrow I will be crossing something off my 2015 goal list: My first half marathon!
My race gear is prepped, my legs feel great, and I’m ready to do this!

I’ve read a lot of pre-race blog posts out there, sharing race day goals, thoughts, etc. 

For me, I only have 1 thing on my mind going into these 13.1 miles. And I have Coach Sarah at Orangetheory Westchase to thank for it. 

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See you at the finish line! -Steph :)

03/1/15

Never stop starting

Recently a reader was led to my blog by searching “tired of failing at weight loss and having to start over”.  I’m not sure how or why that search led them here, since it directed them to my Orangetheory review, which isn’t really about weight loss failures. Maybe I was meant to see their search and write THIS post. Maybe that person will see THIS post and find some comfort and empowerment in what I’m about to say. So to this mystery blog reader,  let me start off first by saying this: Continue reading