04/18/15

So you wanna do more than a 5k?

A few months back I wrote a post called “So you wanna do a 5k?”

I’ve had so many people ask me about how I started doing races and share their insecurities about starting their own running journeys with me. I always respond the same way: “Insecurities that may be floating around in your head should never come in between you and your goals!” Like I’ve stressed before, don’t wait until the “perfect” moment because that perfect moment is NOW!

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One of the most common insecurities I hear comes from friends and readers that have just completed their first few 5ks and would like to try more. The urge for a greater challenge is in their minds, but so is that dreaded self-doubt that comes along with being a beginner or atypical runner:

  • What if I can’t finish by the cut-off time?
  • What if I slow down other runners on the course?
  • What if I just end up being in the way?
  • What if I can’t finish at all?
  • What if I get hurt?

If the idea for trying a longer distance race is something you’ve been thinking about, wash out those negative notions! You CAN do a longer or more challenging race if you set yourself up for success! Here’s how.

The first step?

1. Choose a race. What distance would you like to tackle? You know you’re able to complete a 5k, so let’s look at your options:

  • 5 mile- Some races offer a 5 mile run (like Miles for Moffitt in Tampa).
  • 10k (6.2 miles)- This distance is a popular one and a great step in adding a little more of a challenge.
  • 15k (9.3 miles)- This distance is a bit tougher (think three 5ks!), but with the right training and mindset, it’s totally doable!
  • half marathon (13.1 miles)- Definitely a goal I never dreamed I could complete, but again, with time, training and a positive attitude, you can too!
  • full marathon (26.2 miles)- I wouldn’t suggest tackling this distance right away. Full marathons take a lot of commitment and training, but it is something you CAN work your way up to if it’s something you’d like to cross off your bucket list (like my friend Nanci did!).

Once you’ve decided on a distance, start doing some research. You’ll want to look for races 3-4 months in advanced to ensure you have given yourself enough time to train and prepare. Some things to consider when searching for a longer distance race are:

  • Location and race course. Time of year (think temperatures/rain!), bridges, hills, shade/no shade will all affect how you will need to train, so keep all of these factors in mind.
  • Time limits. How long will you be given to complete the race? What is the minimum pace you’ll need to maintain? If you’re planning to walk (or even walk/run in intervals) look for races that allow an 18:00-20:00 minute mile minimum pace. *And remember- it’s OK to walk at any race!
  • Cost. Always consider the cost of races and how the price will fit into your budget. Longer distance races tend to be a bit more expensive than 5ks so take this into consideration when searching for a race. The good news? There are many websites (like Groupon or Living Social) and healthy living bloggers that partner with race organizers to provide discounts to users and readers. A quick web search will point you in the money saving direction! Another tip- race registration prices typically increase the closer you get to race day. Register early if possible!
  • REGISTER. Once you’ve chosen your longer distance race, the next step (of course) is to register! The great thing about hitting that “complete my registration” button is that once it’s done, you’re in! The commitment has been made and now you’re goal is set. You gain instant motivation knowing that you have a reason to keep pushing through workouts and your training plan. Go you!

Once you’ve officially inked a race onto your calendar…

2. Begin training. Start by choosing a training plan that will work for you. Depending on the distance you’ve chosen, you may be selecting anywhere from a 10 week to 16 week plan. In addition to the varied time lengths of the plan, you’ll also find that plans vary in context (weekly mileage, number of workouts, etc). Research each plan and figure out which one will fit into your work and home schedule best. A good beginning longer distance training plan should begin with something close to a 5k (3.1 miles). If it starts with anything higher, it may not be a doable plan for you.

If you are planning to walk or do a combination of walk/run intervals for your first longer race, I suggest taking a look at the Galloway method training plans! His beginner half marathon plan prepared me for my first 13.1 miles earlier this year, and even helped me meet my goal of finishing under 3:45!

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In addition to a race training plan, make sure to consistently continue (or start!) non-running cross and strength training. It’s a great way to supplement your runs, and helps you fight off fatigue! Think swimming, cycling, using a rower, or elliptical. *And don’t forget the importance of rest days!

Once your training is all squared away…

4. SHOUT IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS! Signing up for your first longer distance race is something you’ll want to tell the world! Not only will that help cement your new goal into your mind, but it will also give you a great opportunity to meet potential training partners and run groups, allow you to build your collection of tips from experienced walkers and runners who have done distances longer than a 5k, and even collect some recipe ideas to help you fuel and nourish your body as you train.

Now that you’re ready to start training, let’s discuss…

5. Essentials! Clothing, footwear, food and hydration. Have a plan for it ALL. Just like a 5k, it’s important to make sure you have the proper footwear and to make sure you wear the same running shoes (and socks!) during your training that you plan to wear on race day. Ditto for the clothing. Comfortable, breathable, moisture-wicking, and fitted (not too loose, not too tight) are the rules all good walkers and runners live by.

Hydration, as I’m sure you already know from completing 5ks, is of the utmost importance, so have a plan for your training and for race day. Longer races will offer lots of water (and even Gatorade stops sometimes) along a course. But you can also invest in a hand held water bottle or race belt with water bottles attached around it to stay hydrated as you train. Just make sure to train with these items if you decide to use them so that you’re accustomed to walking or running with them on your body.

Same goes with nutrition. Think about what will work for you, especially in regards to refueling during the race. I know some walkers and runners use things like Gu or electrolyte jelly beans to refuel as they train and on race day. Others I know pack snack bags of dried fruits and nuts, protein bars, and even things like beef jerky! Whatever you decide, make sure to fuel your body on race day the same way you did during  your training. Nothing new- ever! Stick with what works and don’t give your body any big surprises on race day.

I hope this post will inspire you to take the leap into longer races! Remember- if it’s something you want to accomplish, then go for it! Don’t ever let anything, especially insecurities, get in your way. The race community is SUCH a welcoming, inspiring and supportive community. You’ll find your place in it as soon as you decide to try! As always, if you would ever like to connect, I’d be happy to give you any additional tips or motivation you still might need to set this goal of going for a longer race. You can contact me through Twitter @Orangespoken or on FB by following the link on the right side of my blog page.

Also! If you’re a beginner or plus-sized/curvy runner just beginning your journey to your first 5k or longer, please click on the link and submit your story! I’ll be featuring someone fabulous each week to help inspire and motivate! :) Click here for the form.

Looking forward to hearing some of your AMAZING goals and AMAZING success stories! :)
Steph

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04/11/15

Grief becomes joy

Three years passed by in a blink.

And in these three years I have learned more about myself than in the 32 years prior. 

When I first lost my mom, it was difficult to look into the future and envision a normal life. I was 31 going on 32, and could not believe that my time with my mom was over; just like that. 

For weeks and months my nights would be filled with thoughts of sorrow. How she would never get to see all the milestones my brother and I still needed to reach, and how my future children would go without knowing their maternal grandmother. My mind was littered with worry, and sadness and until I learned to cope with it all, it would turn out to be one of the hardest times of my life. 

In these three years I have learned that grief is different for everyone. But no matter the situation, as we all know we must endure this process at some point in our lives, the greatest lesson I’ve learned about grief is you must replace the sorrow with positivity. 

This doesn’t mean you “fake it until you make it”, or bottle up your sadness like it doesn’t exist. And I’m certainly not implying that you just find a way to “get over it” or that feelings of sorrow should be minimized. That is not my message by any means. But in order to be able to cope in such a way that YOUR life has meaning, you must remain positive. 

I’m not saying that transition is going to be easy. You may find yourself on a roller coaster ride of ups and downs at first. And that’s ok. But grief doesn’t need to be a negative event in your life. Mourning can be a positive experience. The grieving process can be a burden or a joy. And it’s ours to choose.

Three years later, I have chosen joy.

There is no person that I can identify that was more joyful than my mother. Anyone who knew her would agree with me. So for me, there is no better way to remember my mother’s joyous spirit than by transforming the pain into positives. Of course there are still tears. I still miss my mom and wish she could be with us here today. But as often as I can, I focus on joy. But how?

Being present and focusing on what matters to me right now in this moment.

Spending quality time with family and friends.
Working hard to make a difference in the lives of my students.
Building a home and life with my sweetheart. Setting goals and enjoying the feeling of accomplishment.

Remembering and honoring my mom through #TeamJudy.

Organizing fundraisers benefitting cancer research.
Running races like Miles for Moffitt and Making Strides against breast cancer with our team.
Paying it forward through volunteer opportunities at Ronald McDonald house or Metropolitan Ministries.
Spreading awareness and knowledge about cancer prevention and self check-ups.

Reminiscing, reliving and reflecting.

Reminiscing about all of the fun times and adventures with my mom.
Reliving moments by visiting her favorite places, vacation spots, and other destinations that brought her joy.
Reflecting on her life and gathering ideas, lessons, and experiences that I can apply to my own story.
And, above all,

Honoring my own life.

Doing the things that make me happy, content and fulfilled.
Taking care of my body through exercise and healthy, nutritious eating.
Finding joy in every single day; yes, even Mondays.
Filling my mind and soul with less worry and more clarity, less fear and more strength, less stress and more calm.

At some time or another we all must go through times of grief and sadness. Whether it be the death of a loved one or a friend, divorce, loss of job or another type of setback, it’s important to not let the sadness of the past affect the potential happiness of your present and future.

Replace sorrow with joy, enjoy all of life’s little things, and make the most of your time here on Earth.

I miss you mom. I know you’re dancing among the stars.

Love, Steph

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04/6/15

I scream, you scream, we all scream for… BACON!

The America Loves Bacon Festival (yes, you read that correctly!) is rolling into town THIS Saturday, April 11th from 1pm-7pm at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa!

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The festival will feature chef demonstrations by celebrity chef Brian Duffy, from the hit series Bar Rescue, bacon eating contests, bacon-off competitions between local participants, live music, bars, a children’s area, and much much more!

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Local restaurants, food trucks, confectioneries, and concessionaires will be there bringing a unique food experience featuring, what else, BACON everything! You can expect dozens upon dozens of variations of bacon dishes available in sample sizes as well as full size dishes for your tasting pleasure. For a list of vendors, click here!

With each General Admission ($20) ticket purchase, you will receive 5 tasting tickets  to use all around the festival grounds. You’ll have access to everything the festival offers for the entire day! In addition to all that bacony-goodness, there will be live entertainment, fun and games, and drinks to wash it all down. There will also be non-food vendors in case you’d like to purchase a bacon memento to remember this day by (think Bacon t-shirt!). 

What’s even better? You can upgrade to VIP by purchasing a VIP ticket for $70! In addition to all of the GA perks, you’ll receive: 
- Early Entry into The America Loves Bacon Festival
- 10 America Loves Bacon Festival Sample Tickets that can be used at any of our numerous vendors
- Access to the exclusive VIP Sampling Hour from 11:30am – 1pm
- An Official America Loves Bacon Festival Tampa, FL T-Shirt
- An Official Limited Edition America Loves Bacon Festival Tampa, FL Poster
- An Official America Loves Bacon Festival Tampa, FL VIP Laminate
- Access to a full day of music, performers, cooking demonstrations, and other event features

If 5 or 10 tasting tickets aren’t enough to satisfy your bacon loving taste-buds, additional tickets will be available for purchase (1 ticket= $2 or 11 for $20). 

For more information on the event, like the America Loves Bacon Facebook page!
Or follow them on Twitter and Instagram!

04/6/15

The 10th Annual Taste of South Tampa is this weekend!

A scrumptious event is about to hit Tampa in a few weeks! On Sunday, April 12th, the 10th annual Taste of South Tampa is coming to Steinbrenner Field! The Taste of South Tampa is the South Tampa Chamber of Commerce’s signature annual event, presented by Older, Lundy & Alvarez Law. This food-filled event will run from 1-4pm. Local restaurants will be offering samples of their best dishes for guests to taste! Beer, wine, spirits and sodas will be offered as well to wash it all down.  

The tickets are all inclusive and include: Unlimited food and beverage samples, live entertainment, access to activities in Kids Zone (sponsored by Florida Hospital Centra Care) with complimentary face painting, games, give-aways from exhibitors, opportunities to win prizes by participating in the canned food drive and voting for the “Best of South Tampa” awards. This is going to be such a fun event that you won’t want to miss out! 

In addition, all event attendees will also receive a ticket to the Tampa Yankees game that evening! General admission tickets are currently $45 online, and will go up to $50 on the day of the event. 

Want to become a VIP? Purchase VIP Tickets for $75 and get: access special indoor & air conditioned space, a swag bag, additional food options, upgraded beverage selection, massage envy spa massages, entertainment and an event souvenir glass! 

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The best news? A portion of the proceeds from the event will benefit Metropolitan Ministries, an organization that I had experience working with last fall, and know how amazing they truly are. Interested in helping even more? Pack a few non-perishable items to bring with you to the Taste of South Tampa to help stock their pantry, and be eligible to prizes from the featured restaurants!

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Here is a list of some of the restaurants guests will be able to sample at Taste of South Tampa! 

Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza
Beef O’Brady’s
Bud Light
Budweiser
Cabot Creamery
Carmel Kitchen & Wine Bar
Cater ME Fit
Catrinas South Tampa
Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants
Crispers
Eats American Grill
Fox Jazz Club
Goose Island
Grafitti Junktion
Grimaldi’s Pizzeria
Hugos Spanish Restaurant
Inside the Box Café
Kahwa Coffee
Little Greek Westshore
Louis Pappas
MacDintons
Papa’s Pilar Rum
Perk’s Donut Bar
Pincher’s
Players Sports Bar
Press Box Sports Emporium
PRP Wine International
Rollin’ Oats
Sam’s Club
Shells Seafood
Sonny’s BBQ
The Blind Goat Food & Drink Co.
The Florida CANE Distillery
Twisted Sun Rum
Yard of Ale Soho
VIP – Brio
VIP – Casketastic
VIP – Chouinards Cuisine
VIP – DoubleTree Cookies
VIP – Kona Grill
VIP – Schakolad Chocolate Factory
VIP – Seasons 52
VIP – Stella Artois

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SouthTampaTaste 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SouthTampaTaste #STCOCTaste
Purchase Taste of South Tampa Tickets Here. 

Hope to see you there!

Steph 
Disclosure: I have partnered with the South Tampa Chamber of Commerce to promote and participate in Taste of South Tampa. I was provided with tickets. I was not compensated in any other way. All opinions are my own.
04/2/15

It’s time to get rad! #ColorMeRad5k

Disclosure: I was given entries to the upcoming Color Me Rad 5k in Tampa, FL as part of my work with The Tampa Bay Bloggers in exchange promoting, participating and reviewing the race here at Orangespoken. All colorful and RAD opinions are my own! ;)

It’s BACK!

That colorful, messy and FUN 5k event- COLOR ME RAD!

The Tampa Bay Bloggers will be there representing our group and helping to spread the word before race day. 

This year, for the 2015 Tour, we’ll be running through eight color stations where RAD volunteers will cover us from head to toe in pink, yellow, green, blue, and violet.

There’s also something new this year: COLOR GEL!!! And this year they are promising the color bombs are packing twice the punch!! Double the color stations guarantees that color bombs will be raining down on you from 5K start to finish. 

You can sign up HERE and use the code TBB40 to save 40% off your registration!

imageHope to see you there!

Steph

 

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.

Piyo for Plus Sizes

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