Motivation Monday X

Monday, December 29, 2014

Today is the last Motivation Monday of the year. Where in the world did the time go? The new year
is quickly approaching and new year resolutions I'm sure are swirling through peoples minds. To be honest, I don't like setting resolutions because after three weeks I usually break them. But as most of you know from reading my posts I create small, obtainable goals which allow me to finish and/or continue over time. So that is exactly what I'll be doing in 2015:

1. In regards to running everyone knows about my 15 in 2015 that I posted about. My first race is on January 10th.
2. I want to focus on my health again - regroup on my food choices and consistent exercise.
3. I want to surround myself with good people -- whether that be new people or people I already know.
4. I want to continue to be happy -- live, laugh, LOVE!
5. I WILL be running another marathon this year and I WILL hit my 4:30 goal.
What are your goals for 2015? I'd love to hear them! 

Last Time You Did Something For The First Time

Thursday, December 18, 2014

It's 7 p.m. I'm ready for bed.

But my reason for being so sleepy was so worth it.

For a while, a long while, I've contemplated joining a running group. I first thought about this when I signed up for the Philadelphia Marathon. I thought it would be nice to be with someone as I'm out there for hours at a time. And I thought it would be fun to make new friends. And I thought it would be nice to go into this marathon with more support. But there was one major thing setting me back -- ANXIETY!

I'm not an anxious person, not at all. But for some reason the thought of joining a running group gave me agita. The whole thing is quite amusing actually being that I grew up playing team sports and I was a captain for nearly all of those teams. Running with other people would be like a team sport, right?

Sadly, my own head got to me, the anxiety set in and I opted to not join a running club. What if I'm too slow and can't keep up? What if they are really fast and they get pissed because I'm holding them back? What if I need to stop running and walk? Just don't bother with it and run alone. Am I a runner!? See why it took me so long to believe that one...head game, total head game.

I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. Long story short, I got reconnected with a fellow runner friend and she told me how she started a running club and there are LOTS of people who are a part of it. Soooooo I took the plunge and joined the private Facebook group they have. In my mind, this is how I looked at the running group -- I can join the group, go on a run with whomever -- if I like it, GREAT! If I don't, then I know I tried it and don't have to go back.

So I posted to the group asking if there were any EARLY, like 5-5:30 a.m., runners in the group because I kept seeing people post for runners at 8 a.m., 9 a.m., 10 a.m. Immediately I got a response back telling me about a group that runs Monday through Thursday at 5:15 a.m. PERFECT, just what I was looking for. I had planned to go with them on Tuesday morning but because of the whole Montco shooting and the guy not being found, I was squirrelly about running on the streets in the dark.

So today I joined the group. I woke up at 4:20 a.m., got dressed, hit the group and met the group to take off at 5:15 a.m. With temperatures in the low 30s and complete darkness, the thought of staying in bed sounded amazing. But I made the commitment to go and I'm so glad I did.

I had the best time ever running with this group of women. The cold temperatures quickly became bearable as the time passed. They got to know me, I got to know them. I did a lot of listening, but that was great. I love hearing peoples stories. Not only was this my first time in a group but it was my first time NEVER wearing headphones while running -- WHAT?!!? Today was all about firsts!

If it was not for these few other ladies, I would have still been curled up in bed, snoozing away with Gatsby. I was actually disappointed when I had to leave after the first three miles (the group does two 3-mile loops leaving at 5:15 a.m. and coming back to the start for more runners at 5:50 a.m.) because I had to go into work early.

Maybe it was the first time excitement, but I can't believe I waited this long to run with others. I have a good feeling this is going to turn into a regular commitment. A new group of friends. A new way to stay focused. And the best way to not slack off. 

Thanks ladies, hitting the streets with you this morning was so much fun. I can't wait to do it again.

P.S. I have a soccer game at 10:30 p.m. tonight. I hope I can stay awake!

All is Calm, All is Bright

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Last night my girlfriends and I got in the holiday spirit by taking a Chalk Class at Belovely floral and event design in Ambler. We've been eyeing up these classes for months, but because of popularity they sell out quickly. We were so happy to squeeze in for their holiday class and our final products came out great. I can't wait to go to class again!!!

Fifteen in 2015

Sunday, December 7, 2014

When in comes to my fitness, I like to set goals.

They keep you in check, they keep you working hard towards an end point and honestly, this is how my mind works to keep me motivated. With the marathon being over, my mind is already thinking "what is next."

Do I want to run another marathon? Do I want to run a half marathon this Spring? We're three weeks away from 2015 and I'm already starting to look ahead at my running calendar. I've put much thinking into it and I know what I want to accomplish next year.

So what I created for myself is Fifteen in 2015 -- in 2015 I will run 15 races throughout the entire calendar year. I will run at least one race each month, and obviously multiple in some months to make up the extra three.

Fifteen in 2015 has some guidelines I have created for myself:

  • The race distance must be a 5k, 8k, 10k, 10-miler, half marathon or marathon; also allowed is a Sprint Triathlon.
  • Races may be an IRun4 Virtual Race or a certified road race (example: your local 5k race in town.)
  • The runs must be outside. 
  • At least half of the races (7) must be a race I have never ran before.
  • This is not mandatory but I have a goal for at least half of the races (7) I bring someone with me who I have either:
    1. never ran a race with before
    2. someone who is a new runner/never completed a race before
    3. OR a fellow runner friend who I have ran with before but it has been a while
I am SOOOO excited for this challenge and I am of course looking for race suggestions. Do you have any? Want to run one of my 15 races with me -- please let me know! Don't be shy! I'd be happy to share my training schedule programs and give as much advise as possible.

 Up next....saving money to pay for all of these races and making my running calendar for the year.

Elf On The Shelf

Thursday, December 4, 2014

This whole Elf on the shelf thing is amazing. I love the idea of being able to keep your kids in check during the holiday season because your elf is watching. Granted I do not have kids (I don't think Gatsby will understand) but I can't wait to do Elf on the Shelf with my kids because Pinterest has soooo many fun ideas. The Elf peeing, the Elf in the cookie jar, the Elf watching TV. How hard can it be?! It seems fun!

But despite my enthusiasm now, I'm sure I'm going to be hating it while I'm doing it. Why do I say this? Because my Facebook is filled with bitching mothers and it's only day 4. They post:

"The moment of panic when you wake up and realize you never moved the elf and have to run around to find a place before the kids follow you down the stairs...Happy Wednesday!"

"This stupid's only day three and I'm ready to pack him back up again. Why did I decide to do this?"

And possibly my favorite, "The boys want to know why Elvis the Elf is in the same location this morning as yesterday...umm....because he got drunk last night? Anyone have an advice on how to dance around that one?!"

Ok, maybe I don't want to do the Elf of the Shelf with my kiddies....

Motivation Monday VIIII

Monday, December 1, 2014

Happy Happy Monday! I'm back with a little motivation Monday! Did you miss me?

It's a special Monday today because it's the first of the month. Can you believe it is December 1st?!? Where in the world has time gone?! We're officially 24 days away from Christmas and like many of you, I still have plenty of shopping to do -- although I'm half way done from Black Friday which is a win in my book! (AND I bought NOTHING for myself which is beyond tough being a shopaholic!)

With the "holiday" season, I feel like we always let ourselves go health wise, even though we always say "I really have to watch what I'm eating." This December I set some goals for myself now that marathon training is over. I want to:

  1. Complete a 30-day ab challenge I found on Pinterest 
  2. Workout at least 5 days a week - mainly refocusing on my strength training and cutting back on cardio
  3. Planning out my lunch meals for the entire month -- it makes life so much easier!
What are your December goals? Does setting goals help you? Looking for a tough workout for in home or at the gym? I did this workout this morning and it sure was a good one! I'm looking forward to seeing if I can beat it next week! I'd love to hear how you do!  

I Am A Runner

Friday, November 28, 2014

I've been sitting on this blog post for a long time....a REALLY long time actually. It's been sitting in my drafts folder -- rewriting versions, updating, deleting, updating, deleting....but I've never had the balls to hit publish.

I'm excited to hit publish today because I am a runner -- and you can be too.

I'm not really too sure why, but I have had a really hard time saying "I'm a runner." Could I say with confidence that I'm a soccer player and I'm a writer -- sure without a doubt I could say that.

But for some reason to say I'm a runner, I've been hesitant.  I feel like calling yourself a runner has a stigma...

  • YOU'RE FAST: runners are fast right? They are the ones running marathons in less than two
    and a half hours and half marathons in a little over an hour. Running a 10 minute mile for runners is just a warm up walk for them. 
  • YOU'RE TINY: female runners are tiny and fit -- they barely wear any clothes, just a sports bra and little pants. Ripped abs show through their shirts and they don't even know what 'chub rub' is.
  • YOUR FORM IS PERFECT: when you watch elite runners their form is perfect...strides are long and smooth, their runs look effortless. They don't even look tired.
  • YOU'RE RUNNING TONS OF MILES: running only 15 miles a week is NOTHING -- it's more like 40+ miles a week.
  • YOU'RE A HEALTH NUT: no junk food and pumping your body with healthy foods only, 365 days a year, all day every day.
I often had this conversation with my friend Terry at Merion who is a runner. I would ask her, "am I a runner? Can I call myself that?" I always thought yes and Terry would always reassure me with a 'yes' answer, but I also had a co-worker tell me one time that she doesn't think I'm a runner, I just run to challenge myself. Maybe she's right, I don't fit that runner mold...I am none of thee above. If she thinks that I'm sure lots of other people think that as well.

Despite what other people say or think, it took me a long time to get over the runner "stereotype" and to finally admit to myself that YES, I'M A RUNNER! Who cares what other people think or say, it's how I feel!
  • I'M NOT FAST: I am no means a speed demon, I'm a middle of the pack runner coming in right in the middle at races. Was I always in the middle? Heck no!! I use to be in the back, but I've worked hard, DAMN HARD! I've come a long way since starting my running journey back in 2012. My first half marathon time was 2:43 and I've cut that down to first marathon time was 6:18 and I've cut that down to 4:49. I strive to get better each and every day and I will continue to push myself to do so.
  • I'M NOT TINY: I am not skinny...I never will be and I'm okay with that. But despite being on the "larger" side, that doesn't mean I can't run. I say ran loosely, but when I 'ran' my first marathon in Disney I was not fit and I was not healthy. I'm sure people looked at me wearing my marathon medal and said to themselves "how in the HELL did THAT girl run a marathon." (That line stings a little bit because I had a family member actually say that to me while we were in Disney, confirming that I KNEW people had to be defiantly thinking that in their minds.) Running has actually transformed my life which many of you have seen. It has helped me shed weight and more importantly helped me define my muscles, leg muscles in particular. I have some meaty quads on me but you better recognize those babies help me get through those hill climbs during races. I'm body is changing every day because of running and I'm super proud of myself because of it!

  • MY FORM ISN'T PERFECT: My form is far from perfect...I actually have 'dino' arms when I run. Sorry I'm not sorry -- my little dinosaur arms and my occasional little shuffle steps get me across the finish line which is all that matters!
  • I RUN LOTS OF MILES: I run a decent amount of miles a week, my weeks were really long during marathon training. But just because I'm not running 20+ miles a week doesn't mean I'm not a runner or not working hard. Each week is different, everyones schedules are different. We can't compare, just encourage each other that we are getting off the couch and DOING IT!
  • I'M NOT A HEALTH NUT:  I'm far from it -- I love cheeseburgers and french fries. But I know when to reel it in. During marathon training I was running anywhere from 20-45+ miles a week. I could eat what I wanted because of the calories I was burning but with lower milage I know I need to focus on what I'm putting inside me -- but you better believe I will treat myself when I think I deserve it :)
I crave to hit the road -- I crave to tie up my laces, put my running gear on and feel the wind against my face. THAT is what makes me a runner -- the absolute joy I get with each step, letting my mind be at ease, clearing out all of my stressors and enjoying the moment -- the beautiful moment of making myself healthy, taking in the scenery and being in the now. 

It doesn't matter how slow or fast you run to be a's getting out there and joining this wonderful community who does everything they can to support you! It's amazing. I'm so happy to finally be able to say I'm a runner! 

Thanksgiving Eve Thankful

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

As I sit here on Thanksgiving Eve under a blanket watching snow fall out my window, my mind has gone into sweet serenity thinking about all of the things I am thankful for this year. Each year is different, some with high notes and some with very low points, but we still have something to be thankful for. This year has been a high year for myself and I am beyond thankful for my support system that is filled with family and friends. From progressing in my running world, being paired with Liam, starting a new job, and watching family and friends go through exciting times of their lives, 2014 has been spectacular.

If you're reading this post I am almost positive you are one of the individuals I am thankful could have been my voice of reason at work, the person who has always kept me focused, the person giving me positive encouragement after hearing me be negative on myself, or the person I smile and laugh with. Each of our connections I treasure and will forever. So here I am saying thank you -- thank you for being there for me and thank you for being my friend! I hope the feeling is mutual.

I would like to wish each and every one of you a very Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. I am thankful you're a part of my life. Xo

Strike Iron While Hot

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Last week was one of the best weeks I've had in a really REALLY long time. I'm not a true believer of fortune cookies but this cookie I got the other week was spot on for what was to come.

I received some very exciting news Friday afternoon -- after several interviews and phone calls/emails later, I was offered the Director of Communications and Donor Engagement position with the North Penn United Way. I am thrilled to let you all know I have accepted the position and will be starting with them in November. While saying goodbye to all of my friends at Merion is upsetting me as each day passes, I am so excited to start this journey with the United Way. I love being involved with the community and building relationships with my fellow neighbors. It will be great to interact with local businesses again and to see how many lives are improving because of this organization. I'm a people person and as of late, helping people has been a huge mission for me (ie.: Special Olympics and running for Liam.) I can't wait to see what happens, I'll be sure to write more once I'm in full swing!

Luckily for me, I continued to stay hot the next two days. Last weekend I participated in the Runner's World Half and Festival, signing up for the 'Hatrick' -- two days, three races and 22.4 miles total. I went in to the weekend ready for the challenge, knowing there was going to be hills, hills AND MORE hills (we are in Bethlehem!) For my marathon training I needed to run 19 miles so I thought this race weekend would be a perfect substitute.

My race confidence was pretty low going into the race weekend. Just a month earlier I was running the Philadelphia Rock n Roll half marathon and I was disappointed in my performance finishing with a time of 2:13 -- I really wanted under 2:10 (but beating my PR of 2:04 would have been amazing!) So a bit unsure of how things would go I went out last weekend ready to run. My little man Liam was feeling under the weather and I felt like I owed it to him to run the best I could run.

Running my best is an understatement -- I RAN THE BEST RACES OF MY LIFE.

I'm honestly not too sure what got into me but what I can say is 'trust the training.' My mileage and training really showed it is working. I ran my fastest 5k and 10k times on some tough roads Saturday and Sunday I ran a new half marathon PR -- 2:01:48. Like....WHAT!!! I've never been happier in my life to run all of these times especially on a course covered in hills.

And to seal the deal I won $65 at the Sands Casino after the 5k and 10k.

Cheers to a great weekend - lets hope things continue to stay on the up! 

Plugging Away - September Blog Challenge

Friday, September 26, 2014

Oh man, of course I fell off the wagon with this September Challenge, but here I am entertaining you with a few more posts in the 5 remaining days of the month I have. There are lots of posts on this challenge like “outfit of the day” and “make-up less Monday” or the “thoughtful Thursday.” But I’m going to spare you on my sub par fashion sense and save your eyes for the no make up (even though I don’t wear heavy makeup to begin with!!) I picked topics I think are pretty interesting and sharing my thoughts on them. So here we go!

Top Guilty Pleasure

Favorite Things About Blogging
I’ve been seriously blogging since 2011. A lot of it was sparked from when I worked at The Reporter newspaper as an entertainment writer and I used it as a source to provide fun/interesting/factual information and stories to our readers. It’s amusing to go back to my original blogs and see what my content was like and what it included. And to be honest, the blogger that I am nearly 4 years later is pretty much the SAME person – writing to inspire, entertain and educate all of my followers on an array of topics. While my writing skills are more sharp and posts are way more detailed, it’s the same concept today! I love to be creative, personal and informative, but my favorite thing about blogging is that I get to write! I get to be me – there is no hiding here. It’s raw, it’s real, it’s Amanda. It’s my freedom of speech each and every day whether no one reads my post or 500 people read my post. I get whatever I'd like off my chest. All bloggers should have the liberty to feel alive and themselves when writing. It’s what writing is all about – being YOU!

Link Love
MY FELLOW RUNNERS: Meet Sarah Dudek - Certified running coach, personal trainer and
athletic coach. I’m obsessed with her blogs whether it is running tips, healthy eating or brutally honest posts about runner issues like pooping and chafing. She’s a must follow. Don't forget to follow her on Facebook and Twitter as well.

PR/MARKETING PROFESSIONAL: Meet Jessica Lawlor – she works in public relations promoting Bucks County and during the early mornings, nights and weekends she runs her blog ‘Get Gutsy,’ while also writing for several publications and websites, leading group lectures, being the president of organizations and much much more. Wow, I’m exhausted typing that. Learn all about her on her blog and be sure to follow her on Twitter for some of the best advice!

FOR FUNNIES: I love BuzzFeed – I love everything about it. The videos, the photos, the quizzes…it’s ridiculous and I love it. The End.

Songs You Currently Have On Repeat
I'd be lying if I didn't admit that the following three songs are on repeat all day at work (sorry
Theresa) and my entire car ride (sorry Taylor.) I hope you all enjoy them as much as I do. :)

Twenty One Pilots – Guns For Hands (oooobbbbbsessed right now!!!)
Lovers On The Sun – David Guetta, Sam Martin
Crazy Girl – Eli Young Band

Three In One - September Challenge

Thursday, September 11, 2014

I’ve had a few busy days so today I’m cramming a few posts in to one for the September Blogging Challenge.

September 9: OOTD (Outfit of the Day)
I unfortunately do not have an outfit from what I wore to work, but I DO have my outfit I wore to the gym that day because I am always sending pictures to Liam of our workouts that day. Here I am in my FAVORITE Nike running pants and my favorite Nike Legend Tank Top (I have it in about 4 colors and want MORE!!!) That day we ran a 4 mile treadmill workout and also did a Kettlebell Circuit! Great workout that night!

September 10: A Day in the Life
I’d like to say most of my days are pretty eventful, however, yesterday was pretty relaxed. Did my typical 7-3 work day and then I was soooo excited to go home and do NOTHING. Marathon training is REALLY starting to take a toll on my body – my legs are feeling it and so is my energy level.  So with yesterday as a rest day I did just that – rest! I sat on the couch for hours and watched ’12 Years a Slave.’ If you have not seen it, you NEED to watch it. Great movie – completely worth every Oscar they received.

September 11: Make A Wish
Today I would not like to make a wish for myself but a wish for others. My wish is that everyone who has been affected by the September 11th attacks has a day full of remembrance, peace and comfort as this day is no easier than it was 13 years ago. I will never forget sitting in my 9th grade English class as the two towers were struck. My heart goes out to each of you today!!  I hope you will one day find peace.

8 Things I Love About Myself (September Challenge)

Monday, September 8, 2014

Boy, this blog challenge has me going from one extreme to another -- what I want to improve to what I love about myself. (hahaha).  Whether Gracie Gordon meant to or not, this challenge has me keeping things reaaalllll - with you all and with myself. So here we go, eight things I love about myself...

1. Sense of Humor - I think I'm pretty freakin entire family is funny, I was born with the funny genes. Since high school I've always made it a goal to make at least one person laugh every day. I think i've nailed it on the head. :)

2. I make a MEAN chicken parm dish - it's my absolute go to when I get to make dinner for someone. Over the years my cooking skills have improved drastically. I'm going to make some man verryyyyy happy one day.

3. I love to love - as much as I love being loved, I love giving love. Sharing the happiness and joy that comes from it is so rewarding. "The beauty of life does not depends how happy you are, but how happy others can be because of you."
4. Ability to motivate others - This is one of the characteristics I've always had with soccer but it seems to be that even though I'm not playing competitively anymore I still do this in my everyday life. Who would have thought!

5. I love that I can motivate myself
- I can keep myself in check and I can keep pushing myself to harder limits. Discipline is key. 

6. I like to shake it and sing -
One of my favorite things is singing and dancing in the car. I have NO shame when someone is starting at me and I'm not afraid to turn up the volume so I can sing louder. 

7. I'm a good mama to Gatsby
- I love my dearest Gatsby and I think i'm a pretty good mama to him. I spoil him and love him to pieces. <3 

8. I've taken control
- I've finally taken control of my life in all aspects. I was in a dark, dark place for a long while and I'm finally myself. It's been amazing and I look forward to what the future holds! 

September Challenge: 7 Things I'd Like To Work On/Improve

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Today's blog post is asking me to list 7 things I'd like to work on or improve about myself. I think we all know a few things we'd like to improve, but listing seven has me a little stumped and made me think a little bit. But here we go:

1. My eating habits - As I mentioned in last week's Transformation Thursday/One Year Post, I know one of my biggest down falls is food. Thinking of my health and fitness, that is on the forefront of my mind.

2. Taking Pride in My Work - I had a really nice talk with a co-worker the other day and she mentioned to me that lots of people at our work appreciate all the things I do. I can absolutely say I feel the love very often from my co-workers, but I think I need to take pride and believe in myself a little more than I do. I should be proud of what I produce/bring to the team. As a human I think it's sometimes tough to say "you know what, I AM really good at my job." I like to be great and I don't like to settle -- I want to be at the top one day. Looks like I'm on a good path so far...

3. Being Positive - If you asked me how my 'positivity' was a year ago I'd say it was nonexistent, I was a complete negative Nancy. However, over the last year I feel like I've been a pretty positive Polly. I'm hoping to continue to work on keeping my spirits high -- it is truly amazing how a positive mind changes outcomes.

4. Speaking Up - No one likes conflict or drama, hence why most of the time I let things boil up inside and never say anything to the person(s) I may have an issue with. I need to speak up more because if I don't (which is most of the time) it eats my insides away. It's not healthy for me.

5. Being A Better Friend - With friends living all over the country, it's tough to stay in touch. I need to improve my effort. For all of you I have not been in touch with lately, I'm very sorry, but please know I am ALWAYS thinking about you. Muah! Xox

6. Not Over Doing It - I like to have things planned and I like to be involved in as much as possible. But sometimes it seems like I book myself too much. It's okay to have a weekend of nothing. My body and mind need it, I should have them more often. Same goes for during the week -- stop over doing it, just RELAX a little bit.

7. Being Thankful - There is lots to be thankful for in life -- your family, your friends, your pets, your LIFE. I need to keep reminding myself that life IS good...don't let one little thing alter my mind set. Be happy. Be loved. Be thankful. <3

September Challenge: Six Things I'm Looking Forward To This Fall

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Like I said in my last post, I've really come to love Fall. I love the weather, I love the activities, I love the holidays. It's the best.  It's hard to pick only SIX things, but here are what I would consider my top selections:

1. Football Season - I love football season. Sundays are filled with friends, food, and endless hours of
football. Since joining a Fantasy Football League, Sunday's have become a lot more interesting. My sister, cousins and myself have also started a recent tradition over the last few years where we go to one Eagles game a season. It's so much fun -- can't wait to go this year!

2. Halloween - It's the most spooktacular holiday of the year and in my eyes it's the BEST holiday of the year. It's the only day where you get to dress up and not be judged. I love the decorations, I love carving pumpkins, I love decorating our house. But what I think I love most is creative sides of individuals are shown -- whether it is how they carve their pumpkin or what outfit they decide to dress up in. I can't wait to have my own house one day and make it look BOO-tiful!!!

3. Race Season/My Marathon - I've already talked about my fall races, but this of course had to make the list. Here we go Liam!

4. The Weather - Fall weather is top notch! The temperatures are still on the warmer side where outdoor actives fill the streets, but when days start to get cooler, there is nothing better than a pair of jeans and a nice light jacket. Fall fashion is one of my favorites: boots, jeans and cute layered tops. I can't wait to see what is "in" this year.

5. Soccer Season - The fall always reminds me of soccer season. To be honest, I think soccer season is what made me not LOVE fall in my previous years of life. Fall meant games, practices, fitness, traveling...everything that goes along with college athletics. But now that I'm done, I love watching college soccer, the MLS and European match play. I wish I could have appreciated it more while I was playing.

6. It's Gatsby Birthday - my fur baby is turning 4 this month. AHHH!!! I can not believe he has been apart of my life for the last 4 years. He is the sweetest little man ever.

What are you looking forward to most this fall? Let me know in the comments, I'd love to hear from you!!!

Top Five Highlights from the Summer

Friday, September 5, 2014

As always, the summer goes way too quickly! (Wah!) But I am super excited for Fall as it may be my new favorite season out of the year. This summer was filled with lots of excitement with family, friends and hobbies. Here are my top five highlights (in no order) over the last 3 months:

1. MY FIRST MUD RUN: The Dirty Dash was soooo much fun! A 5k filled with water, mud and obstacles! It doesn’t get much better than that!
2. FRIENDSCATION: Friendscation was a blast this year. A week in OCMD with 9 of my favorite people on the planet – doesn’t get much better than that. I’m starting to really love OCMD, I hope to get back there soon!
I"m starting the challenge today after a few exciting days of posts!
3. VISTING FLORIDA: Best friends make everything better, it’s that simple. My trip to Florida was NOT long enough (I could’ve stay there forever with her) however we made every minute of every day worth it! Caroline and I did so much and had so much fun. I can’t wait to visit again!
4. TRAP SHOOTING: This summer I shot a gun for the first time. It wasn’t easy. The gun is super heavy. And I only hit 4 clay birds. I’m glad I got to experience it – I think deep down my dad was super happy I went as well! :)
5. I RUN 4: August 1, 2014 is going to be a big day in the books for the years to come as that was the day I was paired with little Liam. Miles and miles for Liam, race season is ONLY beginning!

Transformation Thursday - Its been 365 Days

Thursday, September 4, 2014

I can't believe I sit here today and its been 365 since I started my journey of becoming fit and healthy Amanda. I made the choice on September 4, 2013 to get my life in order and take control again over a forever struggling issue. Why it took me so long in life to get to this point, I'm not too sure, but there is no point on dwelling on the past. I am making an effort every day to better myself and the others around me.

I made the choice to change my lifestyle after being haunted by pictures of myself and the awfulness I felt each and every day from being physically out of shape and in bad health. The choice to better myself has been the best decision of my life.

Over the last 12 months lots of people have asked what I've been doing and I always seem to give the same answers.

ADIOS COCA COLA: Coke is the devil and it had me wrapped around its finger every single day. I had at least one coke every single day for I honestly don't know how long. Over the years I tried giving it up during Lent (which I'm not even Catholic I did it for moral support with my BFF Sarra), and I had success with it, but the day Lent was over, I would crack a can right on open! ::gulp, gulp, gulp::: There is NOTHING in this world like getting an ice cold coke from the fountain at Wawa or 7-11. So much better than the can and a million times better than a bottle. And lets admit, we've all been completely hungover and stopped at McDonalds for one. In college after our training sessions (whether it was 7 a.m., noon or 2 p.m.) I ALWAYS craved a soda after practice and would get one. I was in need of the sugar and it quenched my thirst. I was honestly addicted. And last September I knew I had to let go of it....not ween off it or give "cheats" on the weekend. It needed to be gone, FOREVER. And so it has been. Cold turkey, bye bye coca cola. My last cola was on September 3 during Taylor's birthday dinner. While I still crave it after an intense workout at the gym, I've not let myself slip and I don't miss it at ALL. My days are now filled with water...lots and LOTS of water. My face/skin is so much clearer and it really does help with my appetite. Moral of this story, STOP DRINKING COKE!!!

GOODBYE ICE CREAM: Just like coke, I use to eat ice cream almost every single day. Not just one scoop in a coffee mug....a bowl, three scoops piled high -- sometimes I would melt the ice cream a little bit in the microwave to make it soupy-ish and crunch of pretzels to dip inside there. Hi I'm Amanda, and I love ice cream. Yes, I do, I really do. I'd like to say I've cut it out completely, but lets be honest, I'm human. I can however say that in the last 12 months, I have had ice cream roughly 10 times. THAT IS IT. Say whattt?!!?! Everyone deserves a treat here and there and mine is ice cream. It's amazing, but I'll admit my body feels SOOO much better in the morning after not having a bowl of it in my belly all night. I love you ice cream, I will never part ways completely!! (Side note: ice cream was a huge calcium intake for my body for manyyyy years. How sad is that. I never really liked drinking milk by the glass or cheese/put cheese on anything. Since giving up ice cream, I crave cheese like NO OTHER. I put it on my sandwiches now and like to just nibble on a few slices in the fridge. Random, yes, but a pretty interesting note that my body craves calcium now.)

MORE INTENSE WORKOUTS: I tell people all the time I was an athlete growing up so I understand the physical and mental demands of pushing your body/yourself. But I had gained so much weight that I could not physically work that hard. Since dropping a few pounds, my workouts are so much more intense. I am working harder, moving faster and sweating so much more. Before when I would only have a few beads of sweat on my forehead, I am now a soaking wet beast. Is it attractive? Not at all, but I know I'm working as hard as my body will physically allow it. I'm pushing myself to new levels and it has allowed me to start this amazing running journey where I think I can now consider myself a runner. Am I a runner? I think? Whole other blog post...

HEALTH/WELLNESS COACHING: You all know about Emily who I have blogged about several times before. But to say it again, IT'S OKAY TO ASK FOR HELP. We might want to change, but we can't do everything alone. And that's okay. Reach out to someone who is educated and who can get you on the right track when it comes to your health and wellness. From the bottom of my heart, thank you Emily. You are the one who really got things kick-started for me and I am forever grateful for your friendship.

Most importantly...I'M COMMITTED: I feel like I've always given up on things. I'd create a challenge for myself and half way through I'd say eyyy whatever, this is good enough. I made a commitment to myself, that for 365 days I would give it my all and try my hardest. So here I stand today, pretty freakin' proud of myself and all of the hardwork I've put in. My mom reminds me all that time that it is easy to fall off the deep end and go back to the way you were. But I will not allow it. I hope to keep myself accountable with eating good foods and working out hard. Food is my biggest issue, I am fully aware of it and I know even 5 months ago I was eating alot healthier than I am now. I need to refocus on the food aspect of life. But this is where I need YOU, my friends, to keep on pushing me for the years to come. This is a nice life I'm living and I'm ready to continue it. But I know I can do better! While I push ME, I hope you will allow me to push YOU to the next level.

Thank you ALL for all of the support and encouragement you have sent me week after week, month after month. I've read every comment and seen every "Like" you have selected. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!!

I'm sorry to everyone who has been annoyed about Transformation Tuesday/Thursday pictures, but I do take pride in my effort. But you - those who are annoyed - will be happy to hear that I will not mention, take pictures or blog about my health journey. You will, however, have to suffer by looking at my running pictures. Sorry I'm not sorry. :)

My goal for the next 365 days -- continue to push myself through obstacles I know I can overcome. I can improve my eating habits and I can always create new physical goals. I don't want to slip up ever again. I don't want to be that old Amanda. I like the new Amanda better. 

Happy Birthday Taylor

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Today I would like to wish the happiest 25th birthday possible to Taylor!! May today be filled with happiness from start to finish!

Taylor, I have a really good feeling about 25...a new career, beginning a new education and another year full of memories. I hope it is everything you dreamed it would be and all your wishes come true. I love you!!

Always remember -- Age is merely the number of years the world has been enjoying YOU.

A Week of Celebrations - Up First The Diamond Duo

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Do you love celebrations? I love celebrations! And this week is full of them.

It's going to be a busy week here on Take Your Pic as four special events are being acknowledged - my one month matchiversary with Liam, Taylor's 25th birthday, my one year mark on beginning my "lifestyle change," and my parents 25th wedding anniversary which is this weekend.

The Diamond Duo
Yesterday marked one month since a little boy from Ireland has become a special part of my everyday life. Over the last month I have learned about Liam, his family and his illness. Liam is without a doubt the happiest little boy on this planet; always giggling, smiling and loving life as a 3 year old. He loves his Batman toys and you loves scrolling through YouTube and picking his own videos. He loves signing along to songs while stomping his feet and clapping his hands. His favorite hand gesture is a thumbs up (which I'm sure will change in about 10 years when he's more frequently in a car hahaha) He loves his cuddles with his mom, but especially loves them from his dad when he is off from work. I've learned his family (and extended family who luckily live right next door) truly are his rock as they all come together each day and support, assist and better Liam's everyday life.

For me, August 2014 will be a month I'll never forget. A month where I officially allowed running to not be solely about ME but more about US - The Diamond Duo. I'm sure many of you have been wondering why our team name is the Diamond Duo. So today I'm happy to share.

For a few weeks I thought very hard for a team name...Team LA, TeamLaLa, The Fighters. So many, but none that I LOVED. Then one day it clicked. Liam and myself are both born in the month of April and our birthstone is Diamond.

Adopted from the Greek work "adamas," meaning invincible… For those lucky individuals who are born in April, the diamond signifies love, eternity, strength and everlasting affection… Thought to be one of the toughest substances on the globe... holds significant meaning for those born in that month, thought to provide the wearer with better relationships and an increase in inner strength... other benefits such as balance, clarity and abundance.

If I do say so myself, I think Liam and myself match this meaning/description  of a diamond pretty spot on. Which is why right then I knew that Liam and myself ARE the Diamond Duo. From here on out, it's the two of us -- with each step and each mile. In August we logged 105 miles together. I can't wait to see what September brings!

National Dog Day

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Today’s post goes out to my fur baby.

Gatsby is the…best co-pilot, most loyal soul, best snuggler, biggest bed hog, worst beggar, fastest runner, most handsome little man in my life. I can’t believe this little hair ball has been in my life for 4 years. Thank you Gatsby for being by my side each and every day. Your love doesn’t go unnoticed and I hope you know how much I love you every day.

On the National Dog Day website, they encourage dog owners/lovers to do one or some of the following: (I’ll be completing No. 8 with lots of puppy play this afternoon!!)

1. Adopt a dog from your local shelter or pure breed rescue organization. Volunteer at your local shelter and offer to walk a dog or play with a dog, clean cages or anything else they need help with.

 2. Have a safety check of your home to make sure it's safe for your dog and others.

 3. Donate blankets, food and toys to animal welfare organizations.

 4. Organize a peaceful demonstration in front of your community pet store that sells puppies.

 5. Write your Congressman and ask that he/she support the ban of Puppy Mills and Gas Chambers in your state.

 6. Order an adorable dog shaped flower arrangement from and enjoy a 10% discount by using code DOG when placing your order!

 7. Have a National Dog Day party and invite all your friends and their dogs!

 8. Spend the day taking photos of your dog and then enter our photo contest!

 9. Buy an official National Dog Day Tee here and sport it proudly!

 10. Assist an ill or elderly neighbor by walking their dog.

 11. Have a portrait painted of your dog to suspend the fleeting magic of dogdom.

 12. Buy your dog a fun new dog toy....or two...or five.

 13. Give your dog some fun exercise by taking him or her to a doggy play resort.

 15. Brush your dog to eliminate excess fur.

 16. Give your dog a massage or holistic spa treatment.

 17. Teach your dog a new trick.

 18. Buy your dog a fashionable collar and leash.

 19. Hire a professional pet photographer for a fun photo shoot.

 20. Take your dog to the beach.

Motivation Monday VIII

Monday, August 25, 2014

For a while now I’ve been in desperate need for new running sneakers. I’ve had my current pair since April and have logged several hundred miles in them so far. I can tell the cushion is starting to fade and my feet feel it.

Running is a pretty expensive hobby with race entry fees, gear and sneakers. Over the last few months I’ve been searching the internet for the sneakers I currently have – the Nike Zoom Vomero+ 8 in orange - but I’ve been putting it off because I don’t really have the funds for it right now. Nike of course has new Vomero’s out, but I was searching for other styles that have a lower price tag.

This weekend my mom and I headed up to the outlets in Limerick and they have a Nike Store there. So in I went, looking to find the new Vomero shoe, bending over and paying the $130 price tag (with HOPES that maybeee because it is the outlet the price would be a little lower.) Luckily to my surprise I found my current shoe in a different color (pink and black ohh la la!!) with an AWESOME price of $62!!! Paying $130 for them back in April, I was ecstatic to pay HALF the cost this time around. I’m glad I didn’t go with a different style shoe because I really love this fit which made me think, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Old on left, new on right

I of course will be wearing my orange Vomero’s for a little longer as I transition into my new shoes, but I’m a little sad to fully retire them within the next month or so. I’ve had some great memories in these kicks – setting two new PRs (my half and Broad Street), but I know with this new pair it’s going to be creating new memories – like running 7 races for LIAM!!! (And hopefully setting new PRs!!!)

Motivation Monday VII

Monday, August 18, 2014

Motivation Monday this week is coming to you from Wildwood, NJ. (I didn't forget!!) My family is on vacation for the week but I was only able to sneak away for a few days due to work and vacation time. Regardless of how long I'm here, I always appreciate the little things it offers each time I travel here. 

I love the beaches. I love the boardwalk. I love the memories it always brings me. And today I captured a new memory. For the first time in the 27 years I've been coming here, I saw my first Wildwood sunrise. I knew I had an 11 mile training run this weekend and purposely saved it for one of the days I would be here. Hitting the pavement around 5:45am, I just made it. Seeing the sun creep up over the sea horizon -- so large like it was literally in arms length. 

I've never felt the serenity like I did on my run today... The view was absolutely breathtaking and it made the run so much more enjoyable. I ran on the boardwalk, along the sea wall all the way to the bridge that enters into Stone Harbor and then back. 

I'm so glad I saved my run. Enjoy the little things in life friends because it may make your day. Xox

Did you say Virtual Races?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I’m pretty excited to announce that tonight began my fall race season!! (Sound the trumpets!!) What started out as just two races this fall (The Philadelphia Rock n Roll Half Marathon and the Philadelphia Marathon) has quickly turned into 8. Ooohhhh boy, Im pumped and a little crazy.

My races are a mixture of road races and virtual races. I know you're thinking "what is a virtual race?!?" Well let me explain. In my IRun4 group and all over the internet, organizations host Virtual Races in which you sign up, pay the registration fee(usually very cheap) and you're then shipped your medal in the mail. These virtual races are all done on 'Honor System' that you went out yourself and ran/walked a 5k, 10k, half marathon or full marathon depending on what you sign up for. Virtual races are one of my favorite aspects about the IRun4 group because with every registration you get TWO for you and one for your buddy. At road races you need to email race directors telling them about IRun4 and your buddy in hopes they will give you a second medal (because I'll be honest, I want to keep mine to remember the accomplishment). But with these virtual races it isnt a worry. We do the runs and capture the final product with a post to our buddies. So. much. fun. and very rewarding. I can't wait to run my first one next month!!!

Tonight I ran with my Special Olympics athletes in the Legs for Lindsey 5k at Evansburg State Park. The course was amazing and so pretty to run in the woods along the Skippack Creek.

What's Next? Liam and I have a race every month now through November.
September: Nick Jones Memorial Race Half Marathon (virtual race) and the Philadelphia Rock n Roll Half Marathon
October: Runners World Festival Hat Trick where I will run the 5k, 10k and half marathon all in one weekend (3 medals, 3 separate races, holy cow! so pumped) and the I Scream, You Scream Half Marathon (virtual race)

Is anyone else running these races? How about virtual races? Have you ever ran one before?

Motivation Monday VI

Monday, August 11, 2014

Hello, Monday! You are here again! I don’t know about the rest of you but I am ready to get this week underway. I’m keeping today’s short and sweet but I think this image is pretty self-explanatory.  Punch today in the face. And punch Tuesday and Wednesday and EVERY DAY! Own every day friends.

Last Week Recap
I'm going to be honest -- I owned last week. I got in all of my training runs, played two soccer games (almost before tweaking my knee in our second game) and I had a great time at my first Special Olympics practice. SO was really great and the athletes are so much fun!

This Week's Goals
With another busy week ahead and working 10 days straight, I need to focus. Sleep when I can, work out when I can get it in my schedule and don't make excuses. I have my first 5k race for Liam on Wednesday which I'm super excited for, Ill be there with the SO group!

Have a great week friends! Does anyone else have any goals or great plans?

Everyone - Meet Liam!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

So many of you have been asking me about Liam and I thought it was only fair for him to have an “About Me” blog post. So everyone, please meet Liam from Kerry, Ireland! (Told by his wonderful mother, Pam!)

Liam is 3 years old and he is the youngest of 4 boys (Shane 15, Conor 10 and Ryan 4)
Liam starts mainstream preschool this September and he is very excited about it.
Liam's favourite colour is blue and he loves Batman, Superman and anything superhero ! He has little figures that he plays with non-stop everyday !!!
Liam uses a walker to get around and he is amazing in it! He plays football, hide and seek and skateboarding in the kitchen with his brothers!
Liam loves baths and splashing :-)
Liam was born with a rare genetic metabolic disorder called Glutaric Aciduria Type 1. This means Liam can't break down parts of protein and it builds up as an acid and attacks the brain. Liam is always at risk from this and at times of illness that risk increases. In our house illness is always very stressful. Liam has an NG tube that we can put down at home for nutrition. But Liam always eats mashed foods throughout the day and does not use a feeding tube thankfully.
Liam has Cerebral Palsy Level 4, Dystonia, Hypotonia, Hypertonia and Epilepsy. Liam is cognitively very bright and has no issues. All of Liam's issues are to do with motor skills therefore he can't talk either.
Saying all that, nothing stops Liam from being the most amazing inspirational tough little cookie I ever met. He pushes himself and works hard every single day. He smiles and laughs all the time.
He loves cuddles, stories and teddy bear picnics.
He is amazing at letting us know what he wants without talking and using sign language.
He is a bright, beautiful, bubbly, happy, little man and we always look forward to what the future holds because we know it will be amazing <3

Want to keep in touch with Liam’s story and his progress? Click here to follow his Facebook page!

Motivation Monday Vol. V

Monday, August 4, 2014

“This is the beginning of anything you want.”

This quote really reflects to anything in life. When we start something - whether it is a new project, a race or a class - the outcome is what you make of it. You can go all out or you can only do what is necessary. We all have a clean slate every day in life and we’re the ones making the choice of what the final piece will look like.

As you all know, last Friday was the beginning of a journey I will now share with the cutest little man named Liam. This journey is the beginning of anything WE want and I know we are going to make it the best experience possible. Pam and Liam – I hope you’re ready for the ride! 

Last Week Recap
I had a lot of FIRSTS this week. I went to a rodeo for the first time. I went trap shooting for the first time. And I was matched with a running buddy for the first time. I haven’t had a real good first time experience in a long while so it was super exciting to have three! (Actually I had lots of first last weekend too – paddle boarding, Segwaying and CrossFit. I’ve been loaded, wowzer!)

This Week’s Goals
I have a pretty busy week so keeping on track with marathon training is going to be key in addition to staying energized! I have two soccer games, my first Special Olympics cross country practice and 17 miles to log. Here we go!

Cheers to another week friends!

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