Pop Physique

If you’ve been reading for a while, you’re well aware that barre is one of my all-time favorite group fitness classes. Being a former dancer, the moves came naturally to me and I reconnected with my inner child. All this without the pain of pointe shoes?! I’m so there.

So when I got the opportunity to attend a free class at Pop Physique Baltimore last week, I jumped at the chance.

pop physique logo

Let me tell you, they don’t call it ‘butt school’ for nothing. Although I’ve been taking barre classes at my gym on a regular basis, this was a bit more intense. This fast-paced, high repetition workout uses small movements to isolate various parts of the body to give you a total body workout within an hour. (Learn more details about the workout here.) Shaky legs are encouraged and the grippy socks are mandatory for a reason. The instructors were knowledgable, encouraging, and succinct – they aren’t there to mess around, they’re there to help you get the most of your workout. However, don’t get the impression that they are extremely disciplined or mean, in fact, just the opposite. They were more than excited to help me modify moves for my pregnancy, but also made sure that my form was on point (no pun intended).

belly at the barre

belly at the barre

While I don’t know if I’ll be back before the end of my pregnancy, the Baltimore shop does have a New Mom’s special so I’m hoping to see the team there in the new year.

TIU group at Pop Physique

Special thanks to Pop Physique Baltimore for opening their doors to the Baltimore Tone It Up crew! I paid a small fee to attend the class, and all thoughts and opinions on the experience are my own.

Wonder

I’ve been in a bit of a reading rut (as tends to happen), but while on a recent getaway had a chance to finish not just one, but two books. Here are my thoughts on the first:

wonder

Summary (from Goodreads):
I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He’s about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances?

R. J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.

My Thoughts:
Having a brother with Aspergers gave me a unique perspective on this book. However, I think I would have thoroughly enjoyed it regardless. The characters express the awkwardness of fifth grade life, and it transported me back to that time in my own life. Being able to view the story through the eyes of different characters mad the story all the more comprehensive and authentic. I’m also not much of a crier, but this book had me tearing up at the end. I believe it showcases the resilience of the human spirit and the awkward pre-teen stage while driving home the point that you can’t judge a book by its cover, and if you do, you might be missing out on something spectacular.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Psst, if you liked this review, check out my thoughts on other books by visiting my Reviews page. Want to see what I’m reading next? Let’s be friends on Goodreads!

 

Fueling Better

It’s no secret that my morning workouts have been sparse since finishing my first half marathon earlier this month. Actually, my knee hast quite been the same since and running anything over two miles has brought a searing pain in my knee. No bueno.

So I stopped running for a bit. I miss it terribly and have plans to take it slow, but also test things out after fully resting it for a bit longer. In the meantime, I returned to my first love…the barre. It was a less than triumphant return, and one filled with lots of aches and pains. Yet, I keep going back and will even sub a class next week.

bw barre

With my main source of cardio on hold, I’ve switched up my routine (yet again) to continue being active while strengthening. My morning and afternoon walks with Watson have been reinstated and I’m jumping on the elliptical more. However, one thing that hasn’t changed is my need to refueling a smart and effective manner. Training gave me great insight on how food intake plays a part in performance.

So imagine my delight when I received a package from Vega. If you remember, I received a variety of products from them earlier this year and was eager to see what this package contained.

vega recovery

Peanut Butter Recovery Bars! These Vega Sport Protein Bars contain 15 g of complete, multisource, plant-based protein. Talk about fueling better – these bars are made to held aid in recovery to get you back in action as quickly as possible. A definitely plus for someone as antsy as myself. Not to mention, they are delicious. When I get a hankering for food between meals, I sometimes nosh on them to keep hunger at bay!

pb choc recovery

For more information and to see which Vega recovery product is best suited to your needs. visit http://fuelyourbetter.com/

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Disclaimer: I received a complimentary shipment of Vega bars as a Sweat Pink Ambassador. All thoughts and opinions of the product are my own.

Wine Me Up

Did you know that tomorrow is National Picnic Day? (Don’t worry, neither did I.) But when Beso Del Sol Sangria wanted to send me a box of wine to help us celebrate the occasion, who was I to turn them down? I was a bit skeptical at first but don’t be fooled, this isn’t your stereotypical boxed wine.

Created from a combination of red wine with Mediterranean fruit extracts and sugar, Beso Del Sol Sangria is the first premium 100% natural sangria with a bag-in-a-box on the market. In addition to a great taste, Beso Del Sol is a fantastic value – each 3L box is the equivalent of four bottles of 750ml bottles! (That’s a lot of wine…even for me :P) The packaging is light and easily portable – easily fitting in a backpack or picnic basket. Additionally, the technology used ensures that each sip stays fresh for up to six weeks after opening…just in case you’re not ready to drink all 3L in one sitting. But the best part? Each box of Beso Del Sol retails for about $20! Where can you get 4 bottles of wine for $20? (Um, if you do know a place like this, send the info my way!)

beso-del-sol-sangria

We shared the box with our neighbors during a game night. We added in pear, orange, and green apple, but the taste still was a bit too tame for me. However, our neighbor had a differing opinion, saying it had an astringient aftertaste. Neither the JA nor I picked up on that, but it could also be that the wine wasn’t fully chilled or that the fruit was affecting her glass differently than ours. In the end, while the wine was great on it’s own, for me, it would also be good with a little added extra kick of brandy or other liquor.

All in all, I’d definitely recommend it as an on-the-go option this spring/summer. I see Beso Del Sol Sangria being a great option for outdoor concerts, tailgating, a barbecue, or for the beach! Connect with Beso Del Sol on Facebook and Twitter for more information.

Disclaimer: I was provided a complimentary box of Beso Del Sol Sangria for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Find this review helpful? Find others like it on my Reviews & Try It Tuesday page!

Treats Not Tricks

It’s April Fools Day and I have a few confessions to make to you. First, I dislike this ‘holiday.’ I’m not a prankster and just don’t get it. You never know how someone else’s day is going and pulling a prank on them could tip them over the proverbial edge. Be careful out there today, jokesters!

Second confession: yesterday was the first day in my training cycle that I decided to skip a workout without a valid reason. In the past few weeks, I’ve bailed because of snow and sickness. Yesterday, I simply didn’t want to stretch & strengthen. My heated yoga class was cancelled by the instructor, it was gorgeous outside, and it was Opening Day for the Orioles.

Instead of exercising, the JA and I ended up going out to dinner. We ended up driving a bit to chow down at one of our favorite spots when we were living in our townhouse – T Bonz Bar & Grille. Not only do they have a great beer selection, but they are also the place that first served us crabby tots (tater tots covered in crab dip, Old Bay, and cheese). We settled in for the second half of the game and were happy to cheer the O’s on to a win!

crabby tots

We rolled ourselves home to fulfill our puppy parent duties and decided to continue the fun with dessert and a Scandal. We started watching the series on Saint Patrick’s Day and are completely hooked. It’s actually taken over for Breaking Bad, which we have yet to finish. (Anyone else not impressed? We’re just not that into it.)

That was that. No workout. No feeling guilt about not working out. I took advantage of the day and I’m not sorry one bit. (I’m saying this prior to my scheduled run for the day. Check in with me tonight and see how I feel!)

Look at all those Xs!

Look at all those Xs!

Speaking of treating yourself, if you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed I’m on a lipstick kick. Now, I’m not really a lipstick person – it rubs off on everything, it’s got a waxy feel and smell, and I’ve just never been a fan. I’m much more of a lip stain person, as evidenced by my collection of three different Revlon Just Bitten Lipstains. I really like that they’ve got a bit of a peppermint kick, provide long-lasting color, and keep my lips moisturized. (For a full review, click here.)

But when offered the chance to try a new beauty product for free, I couldn’t refuse. I  was sent Rimmel London’s Moisture Renew lipstick in As You Want Victoria as part of a campaign through Influenster.

I mentioned last week that it was one of my Five Things I’m Loving so it should come as no surprise that I wore it multiple times throughout the past few weekends. I wore it most of weekend: Friday at work (and on my run), and Sunday for a work event (and then again at the gym). I think I’m a convert. From the minute I put it on my lips, I was surprised at how smooth it was. The color’s a bit bold, but didn’t transfer onto my glassware too much and lasted through eating, drinking, running and ellipticall-ing. I may just be converted!

lipstick and pearls

This is part of my Try It Tuesday series. I review a variety of products/services and use this series to recommend the best to you! I did receive the product for free, but all opinions are my own 🙂

 

Treat-Yourself-Tuesday-Badge

Nutty Apple Crisp

I’m not that big of an oatmeal fan. I mean, I like it, but the prepackaged stuff doesn’t exactly make me feel healthy. Overnight oats? Such a weird texture. I can’t get over it enough to like them. More often than not, I use oatmeal as an ingredient in my baking. (See: Quinoa Bars and Banana Bread.)

So when I was approached my My Oatmeal to review their product, I got overly excited. Creating a custom blend of healthy oatmeal would be perfect for the morning! I selected the signature smash blend oats in Oatmeal Cookie flavor (I know, right?) and added blueberries, cranberries, dark raisins, walnuts and pecans to the mix. The company recommended adding some brown cane sugar, so I complied. But before trying it as breakfast, I had an idea for a recipe!

nutty apple crisp

Nutty Apple Crisp

Ingredients
2 1/2 Granny Smith apples, sliced into bite-size pieces
1 cup healthy oatmeal blend (including walnuts & pecans)
1/8c. brown sugar (optional)
2 tbsp. margarine, softened

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375.

2. Place apple pieces in a 9×9 pan coated with cooking spray.

3. Add oatmeal blend over top of apples. Sprinkle brown sugar for added sweetness.

4. Slice margarine into small slivers and distribute throughout mixture.

5. Bake for 30 minutes.

6. Let cool and serve with ice cream (or yogurt in the morning!)

**If you want to use regular oatmeal, add desired nuts/dried fruit into a small bowl with 1 c oatmeal, adding dashes of cinnamon & nutmeg prior to placing over apples. **

It was so nice to just pour and go instead of measuring out all the ingredients. There’s also the added bonus of extra fruit! The sugar content of the oatmeal seemed a bit high for me, but that was my own fault. Selecting a different flavor or carefully selecting the dried fruit you add would most likely reduce this.

MyOatmeal

Disclaimer: I was provided 1 lb. of customized oatmeal from MyOatmeal.com as part of a campaign run by Fit Approach as a Sweat Pink Ambassador. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Like this recipe? Check out others on my Recipes page!

Race to the Finish

CS5

This past Saturday, I ran the Celtic Solstice 5 Miler here in Baltimore. While certainly more organized than my last race, I wish it had turned out a bit differently.

Let me start off with how COLD it was. For someone who ran a race in 26 degrees (with wind), I was surprisingly wimpy when it came to waiting around for this race.

I had picked my bib up earlier in the week, but the chips weren’t availalble until race day. Wish I would have known that, because since I registered late, I wasn’t receiving a race premium, and could have saved some time by gathering my bib and chip on Saturday morning.

The race had over 4,000 registrants and so when it came time to line up, it was a massive chunk of runners. I didn’t see any pacing groups, which I think would have helped greatly. The bagpipers went through the crowd to start the race, and there were many festively dressed for the occasion.

santa runner

bagpipers

The gun went off and so were we! As I stated, I wish there were visible pacing groups because in the first few miles, I was SLUGGING along trying to find a decent running spot. There was a point when I looked down on at my watch and I was running a 12:00 minute mile. I’ve been in the 9:30 range. Was NOT happy. Kept going, thinking that this is supposed to be a fun race. However, with people walking on the left side of the course (typically used as the ‘fast’ lane), it was difficult.

Once things settled out, so did I. Around mile 3, I looked at my watch again – 8:13 minute/mile. EEK! Didn’t want to burn out, so around mile 3.5 I reigned it back in. I was feeling pretty good and even said hello to a few people I recognized.

My main goal was to beat 50:00, but my secret goal was to finish with a 9:30 minute/mile pace or better. Didn’t get it – final time was 48:17 with an average pace of 9:40. I placed 143rd out of 328 in my age group and was 1445 overall.

While I wish I would have ended my 2013 racing season on a higher note, I now have a clearer idea of how I want to get better in the ‘off season.’ Work on speed, keep having fun, and aim to make 2014 a year full of PRs 🙂

I know some of you runners already have your 2014 race schedule already figured out, but for those of us who don’t – any races in the MD/DC/VA that should be on my ‘must run’ list?

Who else raced this weekend? Any PRs out there?

Linking up with Katie at Healthy Diva Life for Marvelous in My Monday!

Linking up with Katie at Healthy Diva Life for Marvelous in My Monday!