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Thursday, May 16, 2019

Your Perfect Long Run Fuel - Chocolate Cherry Beet Oatmeal

When training for my full marathon a few months back I fine-tuned the perfect long run breakfast and I can't WAIT to share it with you - Chocolate Cherry Beet Oatmeal!!

Why is this the perfect long run fuel?

My Chocolate Cherry Beet Oatmeal is the perfect blend of protein, fat, and carbs, and includes lots of other nutritional powerhouses that not only taste super yummy, but are strategically included to give you extra endurance!

-Oats: are super antioxidant rich and filling, giving you a steady and long lasting source of carbs to burn through

-Cherries: have high anti-inflammatory properties and are known to help relief muscle soreness

-Nuzest Rich Chocolate Clean Lean Protein Powder: contains ALL nine essential amino acids so it's very easily digestible and powers your workout with 19 grams of muscle building protein. 

-Beet Powder: an energy powerhouse that increases exercise endurance.

Oatmeal Ingredients:
1 cup oatmeal
1 TBSP Beet Root Powder (I used NOW Foods brand)
1 tsp dried cherries or cranberries (optional)
1 tsp chopped nuts or seeds (I like shelled pumpkin or sunflower seeds)
1 cup water

Mix the above ingredients together, stir well, and microwave for 1-2 minutes.

Top with:
1/4 cup (or more!) cherries (I use frozen cherries, slightly thawed)
1 tsp dark chocolate bits

Grab a spoon and dig in!


I like to pre-measure all of the dry ingredients into zip-top bags and have a few on hand in my pantry, so that all I have to o is grab a bag in the morning, add it to a bowl, add a cup of water and heat. 

It does make for a BIG hearty bowl of food, so if you are a lighter eater than I am, or want to eat treat before or after a shorter workout day, you can easily half this recipe and still be totally satisfied too!

I've used this recipe before countless long runs and for race day and it kept me me satisfied and full of energy for lots and lots of miles - I may have to rename it my PREAKFAST - that would be PR-BREAKFAST, haha. 

Are you going to give this oatmeal a try before your next long run? If so, I have a discount code I can share with you, click HERE and you will automatically receive a 15% savings off their entire site! I LOVE their Nuzest Clean Lean Protein Powder, Drink Mixes, and their Muti-Vitamin Snack Bars too!



Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Healthy Eating Made Simple

How many times have you started a "healthy eating plan" only to quit because it was too complicated, time consuming, or expensive? I think we've all been there - myself included. Over the past year or two though, I've learned some tips and tricks to make healthy eating enjoyable, and easy too, and something that can work for anyones budgets.

Buy produce in-season and on-sale.
Scan the grocery store sale flier in-store or on-line and try to purchase only what is on sale each week. This will allow you to get more bang for your buck and will also help you get a variety of flavors each week so you'll never get bored!

Sometimes it smarter to buy convenience items.
It's always a better idea to buy convenience items rather than throwing away unused food because it has expired before you can use it. I love buying bagged salads and spiralized veggies too because I'm way more apt to use them if the time-consuming prep work has been done for me!

If something's on sale that's a staple, stock up.
My favorite grocery store has a buy one package get two free sale on chicken breasts every 4 weeks. I always stock up during this time because lean protein sources, like chicken, are a go-to staple for healthy cooking in my household.

Bulk bins can be a great way to save.
When you eliminate the fancy packaging, bulk bins can be an incredible way to save on stales such as nuts, granola, and even dried grains like couscous, oats, and quinoa. Just stay clear of the gummy bears and other tempting candies and these can be a great way to stock up on healthy food!

Know when quality counts. 
Not all brands and products are created equal and quality still should be the deciding factor when making your grocery purchases. For example, not all waters are created equal and hydration is hugely important to me! I purchase Gerolsteiner Sparkling Mineral Water because of it's high natural mineral content and it's thirst-quenching taste.

Shop warehouse stores or online retailers for bulk savings and heavy items.
I love save on healthy staples at warehouse clubs. I frequent these stores every 2-3 weeks and love to purchase big bags of spinach (I freeze half for smoothies and to add into eggs and pasta sauce), age-free eggs, and oatmeal. I also love to purchase my heavy items by the case from online retailers like Jet.com so I don't have to haul them home myself and so that I'll always have my favorite beverage, Gerolsteiner Sparkling Mineral Water on hand!

Meal Prep.
I don't make whole meals ahead of time but there are a few things I like to prep on Sundays so that I have them ready for the week. Over the weekend I'll usually hard-boil eggs, bake a batch of sweet potato rounds (yummy for dipping into hummus), I'll wash and cut fresh fruits and veggies for snacking, and usually make a batch of healthy muffins too. Having healthy foods on hand that I can dole out for myself and my family is essential for us to eat healthily.

Never leave the house without packing a healthy snack first.
My kiddos always know that before we leave the house, I always pack a healthy snack for us to enjoy together. Some of our favorites pack-able snacks are: turkey sticks, applesauce packets, and dried fruit.

Now that I've given you some of my healthy eating tips - I'd love to invite you to participate in the Sparkling Detox with me! For five days we'll ditch our usual beverages (whether they be coffee, soda, juice, alcohol or tea) and commit to drinking only Gerolsteiner Sparkling Mineral Water.  That's it! There is no need to deviate from your typical diet or exercise routines, but if you wish, top fitness trainer Ariane Hundt will be posting functional and motivational advice on how to make the most out of your detox week in our online Sparkling Detox Facebook Group HERE

The challenge will run from Monday August 27 - Friday August 31.

This all sounds great, you say, what do you need to get prepared?

-Register for the Sparkling Detox Challenge - registration is open now - click HERE to register by August 15, 2018.

 -Enter the consumer giveaway! Everyone that signs up for the Sparkling Detox Challenge can enter to win one of 200 cases of Gerolsteiner. Use my personal "DoubleTheSparkle" code which is AMY18 and your chances of winning are automatically DOUBLED! Click HERE to enter to win!

-Join our online community - the Sparkling Detox Facebook Group HERE for support, encouragement, and motivation, before, during, and after the five day challenge.

-Check out the Store Locator page HERE to find out where Gerolsteiner is sold near you. There are also several online avenues to purchase Gerlosteiner: Sam's Club or Jet.com or get by-the-case discounts at Whole Foods.

-Brainstorm ways that you want to live your best life during the challenge! Maybe you'll start meditating, take a new class at a local fitness studio, or take some time for you to meet up with a friend you haven't seen in awhile. Make the challenge work for YOU and you will no doubt gain more than a little sparkle in your life!




Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Tips for Changing a Busy Toddlers Diaper

It seems like I blinked and my girl went from a squishy little baby into an energetic toddler. She discovers so many new things every day and doesn't want to slow down for one second - which has made diaper changes lately quite the challenge. Toddlers are so busy pushing boundaries and testing their limits that anything that keeps them still and confined will most usually result in a battle. Here are a few strategies that I've been using lately to make diaper changing time go a little more smoothly:

1. Let them help. Most toddlers LOVE to help with anything and take such pride in pitching in. I let my daughter hold the diapers, get me wipes when I need them, even throw away the soiled diaper when we are done. Anything that keeps her involved typically keeps her happy.

2. Bond with them. I know this sounds cheesy, but toddlers love and absolutely notice when they are getting your full attention. Look them in the eyes, smile, sing their favorite songs, practice finger plays and clap your hands together. Practice their favorite words. Talk to them about what you're doing, what you've already done today, and what you're going to do together later.

3. Simplify things. There will be times when you've ran through all of the above tricks and nothing seems to be working. It's these times when you'll be thankful that you have the essentials on hand so you can change their diapers quick and easy - anywhere. I have a small basket downstairs that's stocked with  the essentials (diapers, wipes, cream) in addition to the same set up upstairs in her room.

One handy tool that I was introduced to recently and had to share is the SwipenSnap. It's a diaper cream applicator that allows you to easily apply diaper cream in seconds, with one hand, and keeps your hands nice and clean (Ever tried to wrestle a wiggly toddler with messy diaper cream all over your fingers?! Not fun at all!) You just replace the cap of your favorite diaper rash cream with the SwipenSnap lid, pull, squeeze, swipe on their bum, and snap it back into place - seriously using this thing makes me feel like I belong in the Indy 500 pit crew, it's that quick and easy! You can find out what creams are compatible and buy one HERE.

4. Distract them. Have things nearby that you can grab to distract them. My daughter loves little books, so I'll often have a couple within arms reach that I can grab and place into her little wiggly hands. I'll also sometimes grab one of her stuffed animals so that we can put a diaper on them when we are finished.

What are some tried and true techniques that you use to make diaper changes quick and easier for everyone?

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

My Sleep Tips for Slaying Your Early Morning Workout

We all know that sleep is important - but actually getting enough restful sleep can be challenging for a variety of reasons. Do you have a hard time falling asleep, responsibilities that keep you up late at night or force you out of bed early in the morning, do you toss and turn throughout the night from an uncomfortable sleeping environment (or in my case - a husband that snores!)?

We all know we need more sleep, but how in the heck to we get MORE of it?! I get out of bed at 4:45 each morning to get my workout done early while its cooler outside and my family is still sleeping. I routinely even wake up 15 minutes or so before my alarm goes off - because I feel so fully rested.

I get asked all the time  - Amy, how do you do it? Here are my "secrets" to getting enough sleep, waking up refreshed, and creating a morning workout routine that you will stick to!

1. I make sure I go to bed on time! If my body has had "enough" sleep then it will be much easier for me to wake up in the morning. If I know I need 7 hours of sleep to feel rested - I know I need to have my lights off by 9:45 at the absolute latest. Typically I'm in bed with my lights off a little earlier than that 9-9:30. To accomplish this, I need to be diligent wit getting my kids to bed on time, so that I can have some time with my husband in the evening too.

2. I lay out all of my workout clothes and equipment the night before. That way I won't lose precious time looking for items in the morning and won't wake up my family by digging through drawers in the wee ours either.

3. I take one ORB Sleep Complex every night about 30 minutes before I head upstairs to go to bed. This innovative complex uses time-release technology to deliver top shelf ingredients such as L-Theanine, GABA and 5-HTP along with aromatic Lavender an Ylang ylang to calm and relax me along with Melatonin and Valerian Root to help me sleep deeply and continuously. It also contains a delayed release dosage of Vitamin B12 so that I wake up full of energy, never groggy, and ready to slay my day.

Really can't say enough great things about this product and how it helps me fall and stay asleep until my alarm goes off in the morning so I get rich sleep and wake up full of energy. I used to wake up several times in the night from my husband snoring (his only downfall!) I've even noticed my mood and energy level throughout the day have been so much better since taking this for a couple of weeks. Before I started taking the ORB  sleep complex, I'd often "hit the wall" energy-wise after lunch and have to take a nap while my toddler laid down. I honestly don't feel tired in the afternoons anymore and not only that, I feel like I've had more stamina and patience with my kids as well - which comes in handy now that they are out of school on summer break!

The recommended dosage for the ORB Sleep Complex is two capsules, but I find that one is enough for my sleep needs - but something you can try for yourself to see what suits your needs. I was super excited to see that these were available now at my local Costco (since I'm there all the time anyway, because #kids)! I picked the up on my last visit (I found them in the supplement aisle). They are now available at Costco locations in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado and are available on Costco.com HERE. And of course if you're not a member at Costco you can get them online at ORBWellness.com.

4. I give myself 15-20 minutes to "ease into the morning". I make and drink my coffee and have a little breakfast while scrolling through my phone. It helps me feel more alert and I really enjoy this quiet "me" time in the morning before I have to rush into my workout.

5. I start my morning workout with a cross training routine (Tone it Up) that I really enjoy and look forward to. They have a huge variety of routines on their app and it is always something different (and in my opinion, fun!) everyday and because I really do love these workouts, it is not a chore for me to do them in the morning. They warm up my body and I usually get pretty sweaty too, so after I'm done with that part of my workout, it makes it much easier to lace up my running shoes and finish my workout with a killer run.

Getting enough sleep to allow myself to get up early and slay my workout first thing in the morning, really does help set the best tone for my day. I feel so accomplished so early and because I have had my "cup filled" already, I can give freely to my family and my other commitments all day long. What are your tips and tricks to get enough sleep and get moving in the morning?

Sunday, July 8, 2018

The Importance of Cross Training - Terra Core Review

You all know I'm a runner - I love running. But, would you believe, that I might almost like cross training even more?! I just love the feeling of being able to work my body from all angles, feel my muscles shake, and watch as they grow stronger - it is just so empowering. I love the never-ending variety of cross training exercises and how each day and each workout can be custom tailored to my mood, energy level, or time frame.

I'm also a HUGE supporter of strength and cross training at home. I'm a busy mom or two and I don't want to drive to the gym to get a good workout in. With the Terra Core I can get a hard core, heart pounding, sweat dripping, strength sesh in, quickly and conveniently.

On the Terra Core you are working out on an unstable surface, your muscles are firing and working up to 4x harder than if you were performing the same exact exercises on the ground. Plus, it just adds such a good variety to any strength training moves - it really is a super fun and unique challenge! The exercise options are endless meaning I'll never outgrow my Terra Core - and there are so many ways I can modify or adapt workout moves on them depending on your fitness level. 

It's such a versatile piece of exercise equipment and a must have for any home gym. It's literally like a long, bench shaped balance trainer, that can be used as a stepper and weight bench too. Flip the Terra Core over and that's where the real fun begins! There are four different handles on the underside that allow you to hold a variety of hand positions to take burpees, push ups, and shoulder taps to the next level. Heck, you can even pick the Terra Core up by the underside handles and preform advanced moves like shoulder presses, rows, or squats. You see, the possibilities really are endless with this versatile piece of equipment!

One of my favorite features is that you can scan the QR code on the side of the machine and it will take you to their free app where they will guide you through a series of exercise you can do on the Terra Core depending on what body part(s) you want to work. I love this feature for days when I want to be told what to do instead of designing my own exercise routine. 

The Terra Core is designed to be used on it's own but you can also use it in combination with weights, resistance bands, kettlebells, or booty bands. Traditional standing dumbbell curls only work the biceps. However, if you do standing dumbbell curls on the Terra Core, in addition to working your biceps, you core will fire to keep you upright, your legs and gluetes will shake and engage to help keep you standing on the unit, and pretty soon, a basic standing dumbbell curl will turn into a full body workout - pretty cool, right?

There really are so many exercises you can do on the Terra Core. I love creating full body circuit routines and repeating them three times for a fast paced, full body burner.

One of my favorite circuit routines are:
Jumpsquats
Shoulder Taps
Pushups
Toe Touches
Back Lunges
Mountain Climbers
Do 15-25 reps of each exercise (per side) and repeat the entire circuit 3 times through.

Another sequence I've been loving:
Side to Side Jumps
Squats 
Step Up's
Reverse Side Push Ups
Alternating Heel Taps (laying on top of the platform)
Hip Thrusts
Do 15-25 reps of each exercise (per side) and repeat the entire circuit 3 times through.
End with 25 Bird Dog Extensions.

Really any exercise you can do, you can do on the Terra Cora and get more bang for your buck - you'll sweat more and get in a tougher workout, because if you're going to workout, why give less than 100%? I can't wait to see how much more strength and power I will gain from regular workouts with my Terra Core and how these fitness benefits will translate into not only a stronger physique, but faster race times this Fall. 

What's your favorite strength training move? What about your least favorite, but one that you do anyway, because you know it's good for you?




Thursday, July 5, 2018

Our Stay-Cation at Hyatt Place Mesa

What if I told you, that you could go on an amazing vacation without all of the hassle of driving 6+ hours?! You guys, stay-cations are LIFE and after our most recent one, I am SOLD!!! We just got back from the most fun, rejuvenating vacation with our kids (did I just use rejuvenating and vacation with kids in the same sentence - yes I did!) and I am completely sure that everyone needs to vacation IN town at least once during the Summer months.

There are a couple of key things about stay-cations that really take out the stress equation:

1. Packing is so much easier. You literally just throw a swimsuit and a couple of tanks and shorts into a bag for each member of your family and you're good to go! You know what the weather will be like so you don't need 18 million outfit options per day - easy peasy.

2. Much shorter travel time. When your stay-cation time is over, you're home in 30 minutes (give or take!). Coming from the person who had the worst luck on our last drive home from California - TRUST ME, this is a huge deal!

3. You're not a total newbie. I like to be pretty familiar with an area when I vacation, which makes stay-cations such an attractive option! You sorta know the area and attractions, but most likely haven't taken the time to really explore. It's familiarity and adventure rolled into one - a perfect combo in my book!


We recently got back from the most fabulous stay-cation at the Hyatt Place Mesa. We live in North Phoenix, so we were super excited to check out all that this hotel and the East Valley had to offer! 

When we first walked int the hotel we were blown away by how nice it was and how friendly the staff was. Every single time we passed the front desk during our stay, the staff greeted us with a welcoming smile and wished us a great day - I feel like by the end of our stay they knew us all by name!

Our room was super modern and so well appointed too. There was a huge comfy sectional sleeper sofa and a separate sleeping area with two queen beds, that were so comfy that both Adam and I remarked how we both had the best nights sleep there that we've had in a very long time! Our room overlooked the pool and had gorgeous skyline views of the nearby attractions and even Camelback and Pagago Mountain views too - so pretty!

Speaking of nearby attractions, the Hyatt Place Mesa is located in the heart of Mesa River View which is a prime location for shopping and entertainment. We LOVED being able to walk to so many nearby attractions and even dinner one night.

 It is home to the always fun Bass Pro Shop which we had so much fun walking around in and dreaming out one day purchasing a boat!

The Mesa River View Park is less than a mile away from our hotel and so much fun for the kids! Our family absolutely loves playing outdoors and checking out new parks is one of our favorite activities.

 River View Park has some of the coolest playground equipment we've ever seen and such a fun splash pad and even a lake too! One morning I went running in the park and had a blast!


 We were lucky with cloud cover on the morning we spent playing there so we were able to spent a lot of time enjoying the outdoors as a family. 


We also loved checking out Mesa's Pioneer Park. This place has probably the most unique playground equipment I have ever seen - so many creative designs and fun pieces to climb up, slide down, and run through.

They also had a cool life size train engine replica that the kids loved and another neat shaded splash pad area. If your family loves parks like ours, you would love Mesa!

Another fun area attraction we loved was Tempe Marketplace - its only 2 miles from Hyatt Place Mesa too! This is such an awesome place for with so much to do. We spent an entire evening there eating dinner, browsing the shops, playing some games, and then ending it with some frozen yogurt after letting the kids run through the splash pad that's in their center courtyard area. 

As an Arizona State grad, I'm always blown away by how much this area has grown and all of the amazing shops, restaurants, and entertainment options this area has now.

 I have several friends who have an annual tradition with their kids to do a stay-cation the last weekend or two before school starts - a time to reconnect and relax with their families before its time to buckle down. I think it would be really fun to stay at the Hyatt Place Mesa for a long weekend, and with all this nearby top-tier retail, you could also do a bunch of back to school shopping while you're at it!

Even if you don't want to venture out, the Hyatt Place Mesa has a bunch of things to keep you busy at their hotel too. We absolutely loved their resort style pool! It was crystal blue and the perfect temperature and had fun little fountains that spray water into the air.

 I really appreciated that it had shaded lounge areas and misters too - perfect for escaping the sun and taking a breather in-between cannonballs into the pool! They even had a hot tub too that we loved to dip our feet into after the sun went down!

I think my son's favorite part of the hotel was the nine hole putting green. We love when hotels have an in-house entertainment option like a game room or mini-golf. It's something fun to do when you come home from dinner and aren't yet ready to retire to your room.

If my son's favorite part of the hotel was the golf, then mine was definitely the food! I think I could write a whole blog post about their breakfast at the Hyatt Place Mesa - seriously it was THAT good! 

Breakfast is included in your stay and it's incredible. We stayed there two nights and there were different options everyday which I loved.

 There were so many healthy and gourmet options like Cage Free Scrambled Eggs, Rosemary Potatoes, French Toast, Bacon and Sausage, Greek Yogurt, Oatmeal with all the fixings and the yummiest fruit salad. 

The hotel also offered several other 24/7 dining options which was super handy!

 They have a all-day gallery menu that offers many choices for hot or cold meals that you can eat in the hotel dining area, poolside, or in your room, a coffee and cocktails bar, and even a grab and go market with quick bites, drink, and (our favorite!) dessert options. We LOVED their cookies and chocolate lava cake too!


Which is a good time to talk about their fitness center - ha! They had a great fitness center that I took advantage of one morning. It overlooked the pool and was fully stocked with top of the line cardio machines, free weights, and medicine balls.

 I loved that it had runners painted on the wall too - which I forgot to talk about until now - this hotel is actually right at the start and finish lines of the Mesa Phoenix Marathon! So cool right? I had several friends, both from in and out of town, that stayed at this hotel for that race because the bus pick up line is literally right outside the front doors of the hotel. I really need to take advantage of this next time I run that race!

Speaking of taking advantage of something good - the kind folks from the Hyatt Place Mesa have extended a special offer to stay at their hotel for all of YOU! You can save 20% off your stay by using corporate booking code 112324 or clicking HERE will apply the savings for you automatically. Savings are good for bookings now through September 30th on travel dates now through December 31st, 2018.

So there you go friends, if you're like me and a little over summer already - do yourself and your family a favor and book that super fun stay-cation now for a killer deal. I promise you'll have a blast and make some incredible memories too (as noted from my picture overload on this post - sorry, #notsorry!)