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!

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