2015 Kia Sedona SXL review!

Last week I had an opportunity to review a 2015 Kia Sedona as part of the blogger outreach program through DriveShop USA

Our family owned  two “mini-vans” when I was a kid. Our first was a maroon beast with no a/c vents in the back, so we had attached one of those portable fans in between the driver and passenger seat so that the people (us children) sitting in the back would get some type of circulation to prevent us from roasting in the Florida heat. When my parents started talking about trading in the van for something else, I remember being completely ecstatic!

Maybe we’d get a sports car!
A fancy truck with big tires!
Or something luxurious, complete with a/c vents in the back!

I remember anxiously waiting for my parents to come and pick me up from my grandparent’s house in our new ride. As I stared out the large bay window in their family room, I saw a maroon beast pull into the driveway; with my dad at the wheel. Had they changed their mind? Were we stuck with the maroon beast forever? Much to my surprise, my parents had traded in the old maroon beast for a newer maroon beast. Same model, same color, same no a/c vents in the back. Same same same. Womp, womp. 

The only, and I mean ONLY redeeming quality of having this updated version was the fact that people sitting in the back seats had a radio controller. My brother, cousins and I had a grand ol’ time constantly changing the channels and frustrating my dad to no end. Ah, the good ol’ days! 

The Kia Sedona is nothing like the mini-vans of my childhood. In fact, Cars.com called it an “ultimate mini-van.” And it absolutely lived up to that title. The Sedona SXL that was delivered to my door-step last Friday afternoon was a fully-loaded beauty. It took the deliverer almost a half hour to walk me through all of the amazing safety features, options for optimum riding comfort, and so accessories that make the Kia Sedona truly a special ride. 


Courtesy of Liz from NoOrdinaryLiz.com.

I really loved the safety features that this model offered. My favorite feature was the surround view monitor system which offers an all-around view in several viewing modes displayed on the navigation screen. It displays real-time images from four cameras and even a bird’s eye view to help with parking, and backing up. 


I also loved the back-up warning system, the rear cross traffic alerts and blind spot detectors. The Kia Sedona SXL is loaded with amazing safety features (many that come standard) that made me feel like no matter what the roads or other drivers brought my way, I would be in safe hands, er, wheels. 😉

Now let’s talk about comfort. The Kida Sedona is one of the most comfortable vehicles I have ever driven. It is the perfect vehicle for everything from daily work commutes and shopping trips to long road trips, camping excursions and adventures around town. There is room for everyONE and everyTHING!



I loved the extra cargo room in the “trunk” area and especially loved how comfortable the middle row reclining captain’s chairs were. Foot rests? Check! Cup holders? Check! USB connectors and plugs for your laptops or tablets? Check! Backseat a/c controls? Check! Sunroof and moonroof to snooze under? Check! and Check! (there are 2- one in the driver’s area and one in the back passenger’s area!). What’s even better? The window’s near the captain’s chairs roll down! Man would I have LOVED to have that feature when I was a kid!


Some other features that bring the comfort level of this Kia Sedona SXL into the luxury zone are things like:

  • Adjustable leather seats
  • Sirus/XM radio
  • Bluetooth capabilities
  • Infinity surround sound audio
  • Voice command navigation
  • Smart cruise control
  • Heated AND cooled seats
  • Tons of head and leg room all around
  • Automatic sliding doors and rear hatch

I decided to load up a few of my best girlfriends over the weekend and take the Kia Sedona on a tour of the city of Tampa’s best sights! They LOVED trying out the Kia, and the Sedona loved getting a glimpse of all of Tampa’s most gorgeous locations! 😉





My week with the Kia Sedona will definitely go down in the books as a memorable one. If you’re thinking about investing in a mini-van, the keep the Sedona on your list. It truly is in a class of it’s own! 

Keep up with all of the newest Kia information by searching the hashtag #DriveKia and by following Kia on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!

Have you driven a Kia? 


Co-Op For A Cure

October is fast approaching. And since losing my mother to breast cancer 3 years ago, October has become a time of reflection and advocacy. And although my efforts with #TeamJudy last all throughout the year, because breast cancer isn’t just a month long fight, I do enjoy participating in all things Pink for the month of October. I feel like it’s necessary and important; another piece in the puzzle that is living life after losing a parent to cancer.

This October #TeamJudy will be participating in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5k in downtown Tampa, and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Glow run in downtown St. Pete! 

In addition to these races, #TeamJudy will be hosting a very special fundraising event:

PicMonkey Collage

Through the month of October, TeamJudy will be hosting a local Co-Op that will help to promote cancer-fighting healthy eating while raising funds for our upcoming races! Studies have shown that plants contain amazing cancer fighting qualities and that adding these to your daily diet can significantly reduce your risk of developing many types of cancers. What better way to help spread this message than through a fundraising co-op! 

For $25, participants with get a box containing a variety of FRESH (some even grown locally!) and seasonal produce! Profits from each basket purchased will go directly to TeamJudy’s fundraising for the races we’ll be participating in during the month of October! 

Each week in the month of October we will be building these fresh produce boxes  and scheduling a pickup area in Tampa. Produce will vary from week to week depending on specials and seasonal items from places like Parkesdale Farm Market in Plant City. Pick-up dates are listed below, and times/locations will follow as we get closer to the first week. Pick up locations will most likely be on the Tampa side of the Bay area.

If you are interested in helping our cause and participating in the October Co-Op For A Cure, send me an email at orangespoken@gmail.com including which week(s) you’d like to participate in. If you’re not local, but would like to contribute, consider purchasing a basket and we will donate it to a local charity or family in need! :)

Here are the pickup dates (all on Sunday):

Thank you SO much for all that you do for TeamJudy, keeping my mother’s memory alive and all of the other people affected with breast cancer! Your efforts mean more to me than you’ll ever know!

Steph :)


Orange Theory Fitness Review *And a GIVEAWAY!

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, nor am I a registered dietitian, nutritionist or personal trainer. I am sharing my own workout and training experience which is unique, and may not reflect the experiences of others. All opinions are my own, and I was not compensated for them. Before considering any workout routine or lifestyle change, please consult your physician.

If you’ve been an Orangespoken reader for a while now, and follow me on the social media outlets, you’ve probably heard me talk about Orangetheory Fitness (OTF) once or twice, or 1,000 times. It’s because I truly love the place. And that’s no lie. In fact, no one is compensating me for this post. I’m not “working” for Orangetheory (even though my blog title may say otherwise) 😉 I just really dig the workout. I’ve been there for over two years and each time I leave a 60 minute session, I walk out refreshed, energized; feeling strong, empowered and confident. Yes kids, it’s really that good.

I get a LOT of traffic to my blog from people searching for information regarding the workout at OTF, and it’s been awhile since I’ve written a post about it, so I thought it was time to bring them back into the spotlight and share with you everything I’ve learned while being an Orangetheory Member over the past 2 yrs!


from orangetheoryfitness.com

Orangetheory Fitness studio locations can be found all over the United States, with quite a few studios here in Florida! To find out if there’s a location near you, check out the website. The good news? You’ll know in advanced if OTF is headed to your town because of their (genius) marketing tool: orange bikes scattered across town! 



You’ll know OTF will be opening soon once you see these orange babies popping up around your neighborhood! I workout at three of the locations here in the Tampa Bay Area: South Tampa (just south of Kennedy on Dale Mabry), Channelside (downtown Tampa) and Westchase (West Hillsborough Avenue).

So what IS Orange Theory anyway?

From the website: Orangetheory Fitness uses the science of Heart Rate Based Treadmill Interval Training, the efficiency of Indoor Rowing for increased power and the proven concept of Weight Training Blocks to create the fitness level and body you have always desired. Workout and Weight Loss plateaus are a thing of the past….really! The physiological theory behind the Orangetheory workout is known as “Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption,” or EPOC. By providing you with a heart rate monitor and POD, we can monitor your 5 zone interval training sessions that we call the Orange 60. During the 60 minute workout, you will perform multiple intervals designed to produce 12-20 “splat points” (or 12-20 minutes of training at 84% or higher of your maximum heart rate), which translates to Zones 4/5. This program design produces EPOC, which is the workout “after-burn” effect, meaning that our interval training design produces a 200-400 calorie increase to your metabolism 24-36 hours after your workout. The Orangetheory workout will produce for you increased muscle endurance, power, stamina and tremendous weight loss, if desired. With good music, a talented group trainer and a high energy studio, you have the recipe for a workout that produces BIG and LASTING results.

How do I get started?

Deciding to start a fitness program is always the hardest part. Once you know you want to make that change, the next step is trying out what will work best for you. If you think you can’t keep up with a 60 minute Orangetheory class, give it a try first! OTF is truly is designed for people of all ages, abilities, sizes, and shapes. Although you’re working out in a group setting (maximum class size ranges depending on studio size, but can be anywhere from 22-28), there is a trainer there guiding your workout, providing accommodations, and checking on you every step of the way. If they see you struggling to complete a movement, they’ll show you how to tailor it for your ability and level.  Your first class is ALWAYS free! All you have to do is pick up the phone, tell them you’re new and want to try a class. They’ll take some information from you, and schedule a time. You’ll need to dedicate about 90 minutes of your day for your first class. You’ll spend the 30 minutes before the session starts getting to know the ins and outs of an Orangetheory workout, meeting the trainer, getting a tour of the facility and fitted with a heart rate monitor. If you’re in the Tampa Bay area and would like to join me for a class for moral support, I will gladly workout with you if your’e feeling a little nervous about going alone! Just email me!

What should I expect?

Once you have committed to trying out your first Orangetheory class, make sure you’re prepared for the session. Dress in comfortable, breathable clothing, wear running shoes, bring a towel for sweat and a bottle of water. As you walk into a studio, you’ll see that the space is divided into four sections: the waiting and office area, the cardio area, the rowers area and the strength training area. OTF is also equipped with bathrooms, showers/changing rooms and lockers for convenience. The waiting space is brightly lit and has benches and chairs to hang out in if you arrive a little early. Most locations sell merchandise and bottled water. Before the workout begins, everyone is given a heart rate monitor to wear under their workout clothes (against the skin), to track heart rate changes throughout the workout. They are connected by bluetooth and are constantly updated throughout the workout. If it’s your first time, someone will show you how to put it on correctly. While your’e working out, your progress (calories burned, heart rate, workout intensity zones) will be displayed on large flat screen televisions all around the studio. As long as you keep your heart rate monitor on, you’ll be able to keep track of your progress during your 60 minute session. Your trainer will also keep an eye on everyone’s progress to ensure you’re getting the most out of your time spent there.  Each person will be assigned a section of the screen which will display the current stats of your progress during the session. Your square will show different colors depending on the level of intensity you’re currently performing at (based on your target heart rate). Gray is about 50%, blue is about 60%, green is about 70%. To get into those target EPOC zones (orange and red), you must be working at 84% of your maximum heart rate or higher. Remember, as mentioned above, you want to try to spend at least 12 minutes in the orange or red combined to achieve EPOC, which will help to continue to burn calories hours after your actual workout!

(From the Westchase Facebook page)

(From the Westchase Facebook page)

The workout areas (treads, rowers and weights) are equipped with “mood lighting”. The entire area has this awesome orange glow to it. It almost feels like you’re underwater during a sunset. To me it is so calming and, to be completely honest, during my first workout at OTF, that effect made me feel more comfortable as a newbie. I felt like all eyes weren’t on me. In addition to the cool lighting, when you first enter the workout space, you are literally blown away by music. The tunes are loud and really get you pumping. Sometimes while working out I feel like I’m being transported back to my 10 year old self getting my roll on at the skating rink. This is NOT just a regular, boring gym you guys. It really is FUN.

from orangetheoryfitness.com

Before your workout begins, your coach will come out to the waiting area to greet everyone, make some announcements, talk a bit about that day’s workout, and provide a little pep talk. No two workouts are ever the same. Workouts are designed to be creative and challenging: focusing on different muscle groups each day. If you think you’d get bored at OTF, you’re wrong. Every workout packs a punch and is always a total surprise.

As you enter the workout space to start the 60 minute session, you’ll typically be divided into 2 groups. One group will start on the treadmills (there are also a couple of lower impact cardio options like bikes and an elliptical), while the other half heads to the rower and weights area. There are special classes a few times a week called “tornado” classes where the group is divided into 3 smaller groups, rotating more frequently between the 3 workout areas. I would not suggest taking a tornado for your first Orangetheory experience, as it’s a little different than a normal session. Some OTF locations also hold 90 minute “pro” level classes on select Saturdays for members wanting a little more of a challenge.  

If you start on the treadmill side of the workout, you’ll be there for about 26 minutes, doing a variety of speed interval training (incline interval training if you’re a walker) during that section of the workout. As you walk, jog or run on the treadmill, the coach will be guiding you through the intensity changes via a microphone. So as you workout, you’ll be listening to their cues. During your orientation you’ll learn all about the 4 levels of treadmill interval training: base pace, push pace, all out pace, and active recovery pace. Your base pace is like your starting speed/incline; your push is a little faster/higher incline, your “all out” is just that: ALL OUT. Meaning how fast or how much incline can you do at your maximum ability; basically giving it “all you’ve got“. And finally, your active recovery is where you’ll go slower than your base until you lower your heart rate a bit and you’re ready to jump back in (typically after an “all out”). Each interval chunk lasts anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes at a time. As you build up your stamina, and become stronger, you’ll find that you can go faster and harder. You’ll also notice that your recovery time will also get shorter!  It’s a really cool transformation that you may start to notice within your first few weeks at OTF. 

Your second 26 minute chunk of the workout will be spent divided between the rower area and the weight room. Your trainer will go over how to use the equipment during your orientation which will include proper and safe use of the rower, suspension training straps, free weights, medicine balls, scooters, benches, kettle bells and bosu balls. During the strength training session you will be using a variety of the equipment, mixed with sessions on the rower designed to keep your heart rate up. Like I mentioned earlier, every move and workout can be modified if you feel like you cannot do something, or if you have an injury. Always communicate with your coach and let them know how you’re feeling; especially at the beginning of a workout if you have an injury or some other limitation they will need to know about that day. The coaches are there to make you get the most out of your workout, while keeping you safe, and making you feel confident the entire time. Although you’re training in a group setting, it’s important that you always focus on yourself: your goals, your pace, your abilities, your workout


from orangetheoryfitness.com

Once the two 26 minute sessions are completed, you’ll clean up your workout area (they provide disinfectant wipes for you!), and put any equipment away. Then, the coach will lead the group into a 5 minute cool down session where they incorporate a variety of stretching and yoga poses to help you in your post-workout recovery. Then, the coach will walk the group over to the nearest screen to review final stats. Everyone will have their own section of the screen that will go over calorie burn for that workout, maximum heart rate achieved, and how much time spent in each colored section of intensity. You’ll also receive an email explaining your results for that workout, and each and every workout after that!

(From the Westchase OTF Facebook page)

(From the Westchase OTF Facebook page)

 What do I love most about Orangetheory?

I love the science behind their system.  The data is right there. I can monitor my progress throughout a workout, adjust my intensity if needed, and know exactly what it takes to push my body to meet my caloric or heart rate goals for that session. It really is an easy system, and gives you a lot of control. You don’t have to be a fitness expert. You just need to listen to your body, watch your stats and follow your coach. 

I love the camaraderie an OTF session brings. Although you’re not really ever talking to the other members while in the training area (the music is pumping!), you know that you have that support from one another during the time you’re there. You always have that feeling that your coach is there for you, and they make you feel empowered; like you can do anything when you’re with them in that space during that time. I have never left an OTF session feeling discouraged, frustrated or regretful. OTF is such a positive place and you feel that from the moment you walk through the door. In addition, they offer challenges all year long! Members can win prizes, set goals, and challenge themselves in fun and different ways. Like I said before, OTF is anything but boring!

(From the Westchase OTF Facebook page)

(From the Westchase OTF Facebook page)


I love the technology. I love that you can book sessions online, and receive email breakdowns of your performance after each workout. I love that the coaches are available on social media, and interact with members. It’s an added confidence boost when coaches specifically shout out your accomplishments, no matter how small.

I love the investment. If you’re currently buying fast food meals or Starbucks coffees multiple times a week, then you can afford Orangetheory. It all comes down to priorities, and what kind of investment you’re willing to spend on your own health. There are no contracts, so you’re not locked into anything. They offer everything from class packages to unlimited monthly deals (that’s what I have), which will fit into anyone’s budget if you decide to make it work. They also offer awesome incentives and sometimes even discounts for referring potential clients!

I love my own results. I’ve lost about 60lbs since joining OTF 2 years ago. I’ve built muscle, toned up areas, smashed calorie and strength goals, gained confidence, made friends, and inspired others to join me. I even completed my first 1/2 marathon in March of 2015 because of the strength and confidence I’ve achieved through Orangetheoryfitness. 


Coach Jeff and I when I first started OTF.

If you have any questions about Orangetheory Fitness, or would like to join me for a free first class, let me know! I bet you’ll love it just as much as I do. :)


May 2015


Coach Matt from OTF and I at Miles for Moffitt 2015



NOW about that GIVEAWAY!
Comment below and enter to win a Jawbone UP Move wireless activity tracker! 
jawbone_jl06_13a04_us_upmove_fitness_sleep_tracker_slate_rose_1096465The Jawbone UP can be worn as a clip (included) or as a bracelet (sold separately). It tracks steps, activity, sleep, and nutrition. The LED display updates you on your progress with just a click of a button, and syncs wirelessly through Bluetooth straight to the Jawbone app on your smartphone. It will also show you calories burned, is splash, rain and sweat proof, and includes a simple watch battery that will last up to 6 months- so no recharging! The UP system gets to know you over time using its advanced sensors and sophisticated algorithms. UP collects and crunches your data and relays customized results to you in the form of progress reports and feedback as well as motivating messages. UP guides you every step of the way to a better, healthier you! 


Leave me a comment below telling me how YOU get moving every day (whether it’s Orangetheory, swimming, sports, walking, the list goes on and on!). I will choose 1 lucky winner on Sunday, 9/20/2015. Good luck! 

Steph :) 

Prize provided by Orangespoken.com


Four (fore!) reasons why you must visit ¡Cuatro!

Last week I had the opportunity to attend an amazing event at ¡Cuatro Restaurant and Bar located on picturesque TPC golf course in Lutz, Fl along with other members of the Tampa Bay Bloggers community. The evening was filled with delicious hand-crafted cocktails, delectable dishes- straight from the ¡Cuatro menu, friends, music, and gorgeous views along the 18th green. 


The story behind ¡Cuatro: (from the website)
Modern restaurant, friendly neighborhood hub, and golfer’s retreat – ¡Cuatro blends its identities as seamlessly as it combines the four culinary heritages that influence every plate on the menu. It’s a place designed to bring people together. The inspiration for ¡Cuatro not only came from the word “Fore!” shouted across the TPC Tampa Bay golf course, but also from the four culinary influences Chefs Michael Toscano and Wes Morton bring from their own family tables: Mexican, Italian, Cajun and American home cooking. Together, they’ve created a seasonal menu of layered culinary traditions that celebrates curiosity, passion and Florida’s local ingredients. 

Without further ado, here are my ¡Cuatro reasons you should visit ¡Cuatro this weekend!

1. The food. I know this sounds obvious (this is a restaurant review, after all) but trust me when I say that the amazing taste combinations you’ll taste at ¡Cuatro are truly one of a kind.  We were there to try samplings from their dinner and catering menu, however, ¡Cuatro is also open for breakfast and lunch as well! If you’re playing a round of golf with friends, the ¡Cuatro On The Go menu offers quick sandwiches and snacks, and a complimentary cooler for your beverages.  

I was SO impressed with their cheese and charcuterie display, the amazingly delicious guacamole, and the jerk wings with mango ketchup. I also enjoyed their country fried oysters with dill and black pepper ranch, shrimp gazpacho shooters, and the peanut butter mousse! 11923558_10153660057812474_8469588538605587459_n


2. The drinks. Another obvious, however, the creative concoctions that ¡Cuatro offers up are not your run of the mill drinks. From homemade fruit-infused sangria and craft beer selections, to signature drinks like their Cactus Hat margarita and bacon rimmed bloody mary, there is something for everyone!



11933403_10153660034552474_7036055653982237725_n3. The view. To call it picturesque is an understatement. With gorgeous trees, rolling hills of the golf course, and nature as far as the eye can see, relaxing next to this view with a cold cocktail in your hand is my idea of a perfect evening. ¡Cuatro has gorgeous panoramic windows all throughout the restaurant and banquet room area (perfect for your next special event, by the way!) that offer up amazing views of the course.  xphoto4. The atmosphere. ¡Cuatro can take you from a cold beer after a round of golf, to a fancy date night out on the town. When you walk into the clubhouse, you feel like royalty. In addition to the delicious offerings at ¡Cuatro, guests can also visit the Pro Shop across the hallway from the bar, and lounging areas throughout the foyer. 11295563_442505465921173_7316043658713368468_nThe lovely managers of ¡Cuatro showered us with warmth and hospitality. We truly felt like we were part of the family, and cannot wait to return with friends. 

Make sure to keep up with all of the happenings at ¡Cuatro by liking them on Facebook  and following them on Instagram and Twitter @CuatroTampa






The 5k Zombie Run & The 5k Color Blast!

How do you spell an awesome weekend?
1) Run from zombies.
2) Run through a rainbow

Are you up for the challenge? Then mark your calendars for TWO awesome weekends in Sarasota AND Tampa!

FIRST The 5k Zombie NIGHT run will be held on Saturday Oct. 24, and The 5k Color Blast on Sunday morning Oct. 25th at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota

THEN AGAIN in Tampa on November 14th with The Zombie run in the morning and The Color blast in the afternoon at Lake Park in North Tampa! 



Participants will receive AWESOME race swag, a t-shirt and a medal at the finish line. There’s also a THIRD medal for racers who do BOTH races in one weekend! unnamedWhat’s even better? I’ve got a discount code for you! Enter ORANGE5 for $5 off each registration! 

You can register for The Color Blast SARASOTA by clicking here and The Color Blast TAMPA by clicking here!

You can register for The Zombie Run SARASOTA here and The Zombie Run TAMPA here


WIN TWO RACE ENTRIES from me! I’m giving away 2 entries to any of the above races of your choice to 1 lucky Orangespoken reader! I’ll choose a winner on 9/12! Use the Rafflecopter app below to enter! Good luck! 

And look for another giveaway pair closer to the Tampa event date! 


Cheesecake mousse

A quick and easy dessert that will wow your friends and treat your taste-buds without the 5,302,107 calories of a traditional slice of cheesecake!
unnamed (1)

Cheesecake mousse
Yields 12
Write a review
Prep Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
  1. 1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened
  2. 3/4 cup granulated coconut sugar
  3. 2 tsps. pure vanilla extract
  4. 3/4 cup heavy cream
  5. 1 tsp. lemon juice
  6. 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  7. 1/2 cup Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips
  1. Using an electric mixer, beat the heavy cream with 1/2 of the coconut sugar and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Place into a separate bowl and set aside.
  2. Whip cream cheese, remaining sugar, sea salt and lemon juice until creamy.
  3. Gently fold in the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until just combined.
  4. Chill for 30 minutes, then serve with mini chocolate chips or fresh fruit!
Orangespoken http://orangespoken.com/

#TeamJudy is ready to GLOW!

As a member of the Tampa Bay Bloggers, I have been invited to be a “Race Ambassador for the Cure” at  the upcoming Susan G. Komen 1 mile, 5k and 10k Glow run in St. Pete! 

Breast cancer awareness month is right around the corner. While this is an important time of the year, not only to spread awareness of this disease, but to also take a moment to remember those who have survived, those who are currently fighting, and those who we have had to say heartfelt goodbyes to. 


October is an important month for #TeamJudy and those who cared about my mom Judy. It’s a time for us to reflect, remember, honor, advocate and do our part to help find a cure. 11202062_1004031069630164_2321189185947568725_n

This year we have many events we’ll be participating in, but the one I’m most looking forward to is the 17th Annual Susan G. Komen Florida Suncoast Race for the Cure! This year is GLOWING to be AWESOME because they have shifted the usual morning event to a nighttime GLOW-in-the-dark run! This is their very first night race and is back in St. Pete, starting at Albert Whitted Airport near the Dali. 


Susan G. Komen Florida Suncoast was established in 1999. Since it’s inception, Komen Florida Suncoast has awarded over $14 million to breast health navigation, breast cancer screening and treatment projects. Seventy-five percent of net proceeds stay in the Florida Suncoast area while the remaining twenty-five percent support the Susan G. Komen Grants Program for research.

There will be 1 mile, 5k (walk or timed run) and 10k race options. All participants who register will receive a race number (with timing chip if you choose a timed run) and t-shirt. If you join TeamJudy, we will also hook you up with some orange glow-swag! Let’s light up St. Pete with orange and pink!

Here is the link to register with our team. In addition, make sure to follow our latest project, Run with Grief, on Twitter for a special race entry giveaway! 



Dear Teachers,

Dear Teachers,

As we approach the start of a brand new school year, I can feel the excitement in the air. I hope that all of the teachers out there have had a restful summer, and that everyone is all prepared, motivated and excited to make this the BEST school year yet!

My wish for every single one of you this year is to remember what inspired you to go into this profession when you first decided to take this path. Did you want to make a difference? Did you want to be a role model? Did you want to play a part in developing the future of our country?

Whether this is your first year or your 40th, as the new school year begins, I encourage you to dig deeply and remember those first moments of deciding to become an educator.

It takes love and courage to be a teacher. No matter what is thrown at us each year, we pick ourselves up and return; thinking of ways we can learn from the challenges of the past. We go to sleep brainstorming ideas to motivate, inspire and create learning environments that help our population. We wake up with headaches, runny noses, and personal problems. Yet we get dressed, get in our cars and drive to school. And on the days when life becomes too much and we must take a “mental health day,” we spend time preparing plans and activities to ensure that our students are productive while we’re out. We are constantly thinking, planning, worrying, and wanting the best for our students, as if they were our own family.

And even on the most frustrating of days… even when dealing with the most frustrating of students… even when stressing about the most frustrating of policies… we return each year, because we love this profession, and have the courage to continue to try and make a difference.

The courage we carry helps to support students who are overlooked and undervalued. We will face children with the odds stacked up against them. They might live in poverty. They might have gone to bed hungry the night before. They might not have a place to call home. And although these factors may impact how they interact and deal with their world, our willingness to be there for them, go the extra mile for them, and provide a structured, safe, comforting, and meaningful learning environment for them, day after day, is something they really do appreciate; even if they don’t express it in a conventional way.  As teachers we must have the courage and faith to believe that the long hours, meticulous planning, and effort that we put into our profession is truly making a difference in the lives of our students.

No matter what our students walk through the door with this school year, we must show each and every one of them that we care. We want them to feel empowered. We want them to feel like they’re someone important.  

This year I challenge you to greet each and every one of your students as they walk through your classroom door. To laugh and have fun with them. To reach out to someone if you need help. To know that it’s ok to have a “bad” day. To have the courage to love them, because you may be the only one who does.

To be that teacher that your students will always remember.

Best wishes for an amazing school year,




7 Ways to Boost your Athletic Confidence

I’ve had my share of negative thoughts when it comes to doing any kind of physical activity; especially when it comes to working out around others who may faster, more experienced or in “better” physical shape than I. Deciding to take the step and start an exercise routine is a choice you should make based on what’s right for your body, what’s going to improve your health and what’s going to make you feel good about yourself.  However there’s something that many who want to begin running, going to a gym, swimming or any other type of exercise often lack: CONFIDENCE.

Working out in a public place can be especially challenging. Many people who are new to a gym, a fitness class, or even a running/walking path seem to focus their attention towards those intimidatingly “perfect” athletes, overlooking the fact that there ARE people of all ages, shapes, abilities, sizes, fitness levels and body types working out right alongside them!

When I first starting becoming more active, I remember feeling completely terrified of being laughed at, doing something wrong or having my flab jiggle much more than my so-called peers. It took me some time to figure out that I was being silly, and once I was able to find the athletic confidence to quiet down my insecurities, I was able to walk into a gym, public track or lap pool without fear or anxiety.

So how do you move past the nerves and find the courage to start?

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7 ways to boost your athletic confidence


1. Use the buddy system. Grab a friend and get moving together! I’ve found in times when I’m most nervous, having a familiar face can be just the thing to get you settled into a strong workout routine. Working out with a friend or family member can also provide you with support and motivation throughout your journey!

2. Dress comfortably and wear clothing that fits. When you exercise in clothing that fits, feels good and looks good, your athletic confidence instantly boosts! It’s hard to enjoy a workout session when you’re feeling self-conscious about stuff riding up, rolling down, or making you look like a sack of potatoes (think big cotton t-shirts that you hope hide your fat– been there!). Invest in a few mix-and-match outfits, and as always, shoes that are appropriate for the workout you are doing. Bonus tip- always head into a workout with a sweat towel, deodorant in the pits, fresh and clean clothing and limited perfumes/scented lotions. Nothing will destroy confidence faster than feeling self-conscious about your hygiene during a workout!

3. Set goals. When you set a goal, and visualize yourself achieving that goal, you’ll instantly feel a boost in confidence. Sign up for that 5k. Register for that group fitness class. Join that gym. Once you’ve set the goal, share it with the world! You’ll gain accountability, tips, and maybe even a few workout buddies as you create connections with other like-minded people.

4. Speak and think positively about yourself. Share your successes with others, call yourself a runner if you run (even if it’s just a slooooooooow jog!), believe that you ARE an athlete, call yourself an athlete, and never, ever talk negatively about yourself and your abilities! It’s ok to be a beginner. Even the most experienced of athletes is constantly trying to better themselves!

5. Knowledge is power. Starting a workout routine can be intimidating, no doubt. Especially if you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing. I’ve been there and have had all those questions of doubt floating in my head too: “Will I look stupid?” “What if I don’t have the right form?” “What if I get in the way of more experienced people?” The more you learn about exercise, the more comfortable you will be working out consistently. If you are able to add a trainer into your budget, even for just a month or so, you’ll automatically boost your confidence knowing that someone is there to help you every step of the way. Someone like Coach Becky Fox, from Fox Fitness, is a perfect example of someone knowledgeable, patient and experienced in the fitness field. She’s able to make her clients feel like they have control over their fitness and health by explaining every part of her program in depth!

In addition to working with a professional, consider reading some exercise books, blogs or watching videos to help you learn good form for any exercise you want to try. Also- don’t be afraid to ask others who are working out around you. You’ll be surprised to find that most people are willing to help! Become a pro at recognizing non-verbals to help you identify who you may think will be helpful, and of course, don’t forget to smile! If you’ve just joined a gym, it’s probably a good idea to take a tour or go through the facility’s orientation, so you’re able to learn as much about the gym as possible and boost your confidence.

6. Clear your mind. When you walk into a gym, or head to the local park for a few miles around the track, try to clear your mind and only focus on the goals you have set for this workout. People who are out there working out are there for the same reason you are. That focused runner on the path, the sweaty weight lifter working on reps, that person on the rower stopping for a water break: they’re not there to pass judgment on anyone. They’re trying to fit in a workout and improve their health- just like you. And many of them also deal with insecurities of their own! It’s human nature. Always keep this at the forefront of your thoughts and walk into a workout with a clear and confident mind. A good playlist of your favorite tunes or an affirmation you repeat to yourself will also help get you in the clear zone! I like to repeat the word “JUST GO” over and over again when I’m running- especially on those longer distances when I’m losing the motivation to keep pushing!

7. Smile, feel good and have fun. A workout doesn’t have to be “work.” Of course you want to get the most out of a walk, run or gym session, but it shouldn’t be a miserable experience that makes you NOT want to return the next time. Make sure you are well rested, well fueled and well hydrated before you do any exercise. That will help with the “feel good” part. As for the fun part goes, if you hate running, don’t run! Not a fan of the treadmill, try a fitness class (think Zumba or Orangetheory!). Don’t force yourself to do something you aren’t going to enjoy. A good rule of thumb is to give it 2-3 weeks before saying you’re not a fan. Give it time, recognize there’s a learning curve for all activities and give it a chance. And a smile? A smile is an instant confidence booster. Every. Single. Time.

Do you have any tips to add to this list? Do share! :)


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