End Summer Right: Yoga with a Twist & Splash Sundays At the Epicurean Hotel

End Summer Right: Yoga with a Twist & Splash Sundays At the Epicurean Hotel

*Disclaimer: As a member of the Tampa Bay Bloggers I was able to attend Yoga with a Twist and Splash Sundays for free in exchange for this blog post and social media love. All opinions are my own.*

Hey Friends! A few weeks ago I was able to partake in a monthly event, Yoga with a Twist, held at the Epicurean Hotel in South Tampa. Currently living in South Tampa myself, I never had a reason to go to The Epicurean, but as soon as this opportunity came up, I said it’s time!!

Now, I’m not great about doing yoga. I like it, but haven’t found that sweet studio or instructor I clicked with. I did it regularly during my undergrad because I loved loved loved the instructor, the type of yoga, and the timing of it in my schedule. I wouldn’t call myself a yogi, since I don’t do it regularly anymore, but will for sure give my damnedest when I do get a chance to go. It is definitely one area I always need to work on. Remember my post on yoga for runners and my foam rolling routine? I explain my struggle of recovery there, and am pleased to say I have been MUCH better at fitting it into my schedule. Still a work in progress but its happening—in case you all were wondering.

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Enjoying champagne with Caitlyn post yoga!

The thought of yoga makes me feel excited even though it’s not my fav. When its combined with my friend, Caitlyn, who is also into fitness-y things, plus heading to the Splash Sundays pool party after, I said YES!

Yoga With A Twist, the official name, is a once a month event held during the last Sunday of the month at the Epicurean Hotel, a local boutique hotel located off South Howard. A good way to get in a one hour yoga class, hang out at the Epicurean, and cheers with Champagne with fellow yogis is fun and a popular way to enjoy the morning.

Reservations are required and are $15 for the class and $20 for the class and glass. Each class is offered by Kodawari Yoga, Bodywork, and Wellness Studio. Make sure to bring a mat, water, and a towel. Refreshments were available during the event and cool towels were given right before Savasana (cool-down pose). A nice refreshing way to end class!

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Cheers to a great class!

There was about forty people participating in the yoga. Each person brought their own mat, water, etc. and was done under a huge white tent near the roof of the hotel, at the Garden Terrace on the second floor to be exact. Although it was hot, the tent was beyond helpful as well as the ice water and tea that was available during the class.

The class was done in a vinyasa-type style. In case you’re not familiar with the different types, I’m meh on my yoga let alone knowing the different kinds, LOL, but basically this was a flow type class. With a few variations to add a challenge, it was definitely a good class with a mix of challenge and easy. I’m right in the middle and found there was a good balance. It was also nice knowing there were two spotters nearby who help correct as needed. Since this event was once a month, I’m not sure it is always run by Kodawari Studio or has the same instructor each month. I’ll have to go more then one time to see if it is or not. ;P Have I mentioned that guests participating in the yoga get 10% of Élevage brunch menu items and 15% off spa treatments? I haven’t been to Élevage yet, but have heard it’s pretty tasty and requires a reservation.

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Post-yoga conversation to end our practice

After class it was super chill and everyone got champagne for a toast. After the toast, everyone hung out and chatted or in mine and Caitlyn’s case, headed to the Splash Sunday pool party!! WOO!! Did I mention the Tampa Bay Bloggers hosted Splash Sundays that week?!

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The two events don’t work together, but anyone who wanted to join in the pool party could join in for the afternoon. However, a reservation is needed and requires $15 entrance fee. Splash Sundays is offered July 3rd to September 4th from 12-5pm and includes pool time, lounge chairs, umbrellas, and DJs that provide music as you chill in the pool or get your tan on. Drinks are also available but are not included the in the reservation. Depending on if you’re getting a group together, a cabana is an option for larger parties.

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A super fun way to end your summer or way to enjoy the Epicurean, their pool, drinks, and music! I know not having a pool, this was a great option that I’ll keep in mind for next time!

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Enjoying this sweet pineapple float 😉

YOUR TURN:

-Do you participate in yoga?

-Do you prefer a fruity cocktail or a light and refreshing spritzer by the pool?

-What is your favorite way to spend a summer afternoon?

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Get Your Greek On: Three Greek Inspired Snack Ideas

Get Your Greek On: Three Greek Inspired Snack Ideas

*Disclaimer: Thanks to affiliations with the Tampa Bay Bloggers and Louis Pappas, I was able to attend an intimate, complementary tasting of Greek food for this post and social media love. All opinions are my own.*

Hey All! Happy Forth of July weekend! To say I’m excited for this three day weekend is an understatement. I’m see a few friends from UT over for a BBQ in St. Pete and I’m pumped! I’m bring a patriotic fruit salad, think raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries. Someone has be bring a healthy side dish right? Leave that one to me hahah. I’m always the one to bring one of those. No shame! 😉

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Baklava & Rice Pudding

A few weeks ago, I was able to attend an intimate tasting with the Tampa Bay Bloggers at this cute Greek cafe in South Tampa called Louis Pappas Greek Cafe. It’s so cute inside and very authentic! They had a great spread for us to try too. I mean REALLY good. A few options from each off their menu. I planned on basically having dinner there since there was so much and it was all so good! They didn’t fail to disappoint.

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Cinnamon Sugar Pitas with Plain Greek Yogurt & Bread Pudding

I’m not so much of a huge Greek fan. I don’t crave it as much as I do pizza or Chipotle. Those two are my favorite cheat eats ;P but this place is definitely a good place to grab a quick, healthy bite for a mid-week break from the usual. Although everything about it was delicious, my favorite was the greek salad. I’m a sucker for a good salad, and THIS was amazing. It was all so evenly chopped with such good flavor. The cool part about this salad was that it had a scoop of potato salad at the bottom. Yeah. Potato salad. Who would have thought right?? I asked what that was all about and the owner said that was a staple for when they first started to make it filling. The potatoes add that extra filling component that was surprisingly good. YEAH. They offer it without as well, but the potato salad was what they called “traditional.”A family recipe they called it. I said I would eat that for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

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Stuffed Grape Leaves & Spinach Pies

So, onward to the snackage. Namely the hummus with homemade pita, stuffed grape leaves, and delicious Baklava. I’ve come up with some inspired greek inspired snacks you can make in your own kitchen! No special ingredients needed. I went to Trader Joe’s or Publix and found them there. Enjoy these snacks at home and if you’re in the South Tampa area, be sure to check out Louis Pappas!

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Front Salad: Traditional Greek Salad with Potato Salad and Non-Traditional without Potato Salad
  1. Hummus with veggies and pita bread.
  2. Plain Greek yogurt with peanut butter or honey
  3. Chopped Greek Pasta Salad by dishingouthealth !
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Definitely making it back here in the near future!

 

Kick Off Summer at the Tampa Bay Margarita Festival

Kick Off Summer at the Tampa Bay Margarita Festival

*Thanks to affiliations with the Tampa Bay Bloggers and Big City Events, I was able to attend the Tampa Bay Margarita Festival and fun run for free as well as give away two tickets in exchange for blog posts and social media love. All opinions are my own.*

Happy Post Memorial Day weekend! I was at the Tampa Bay Margarita Festival this weekend kicking off summer with a cold margarita in my hand. I mean it’s the drink of summer, how could you not?? It was hot as HELL here in Tampa Bay so it is definitely feeling like summer. It got hot and humid quickly, so the ice cold drink(s) and water hit the spot.

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I’m not always a big drinker, but this event also came with a run which was a fun way to kick off the festival plus a drink for participating so I couldn’t say no! A 2.5 mile run along the Tampa Riverwalk plus a complementary drink and medal that doubled as a bottle opener…totally joining in! However, it was pretty steamy at 11am when it started so there was a fair share of both runners and walkers. Everyone got a medal, cold water, snacks, plus a t-shirt, and drink. A fun way to get a workout in and earn your margarita. I got to meet up with a few other Tampa Bay Bloggers post race which was fun too. It’s always a fun time to catch up with other bloggers in real life then from screen to screen. 🙂

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Tampa Bay Bloggers killed the fun run!

After the run I cleaned up and my mom and I went back down later in the afternoon to enjoy our complementary drink and enjoy the festival. They had at least fifty types of margaritas to choose from each from a different brand, flavor, or frozen or unfrozen. I had the Tito’s classic margarita and my mom had the watermelon one. Both we’re awesome and oh so refreshing! The music was great too, all local bands throughout the day, including Blue’s Travelers from 9pm till close.

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I’m not even a huge fan of vodka, but the Tito-Rita was really good

When you weren’t enjoying the margaritas, you could take the water taxi on the Hillsborough River to bar hop down the Riverwalk and be able to re-enter the festival for a second (or third) round if you chose 😉 Even if you needed a break from the heat, the breeze from the ride felt refreshing. Although the water taxi wasn’t part of the admission to the festival, it was pretty cool seeing the other parts of Tampa via the river. My mom really enjoyed it and so did I!

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Aside from the tasty drinks, they had a great selection of food and had plenty of places to sit down and chill, either under an umbrella or on one of their outdoor couches! If you didn’t sit in one of their seats, you could have brought in one of your own and snagged a spot in front of the stage.

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Besides the hot weather, the event was definitely worth attending again. Music was good, people watching was great, and of course the margaritas were THE BOMB. A perfect way to kick off summer! Next time they’re in town, I’ll be there!

All The Coffee: Enhance Your Endurance & Tampa Bay Coffee & Art Festival

All The Coffee: Enhance Your Endurance & Tampa Bay Coffee & Art Festival

*Disclaimer: Thanks to the Tampa Bay Bloggers I was able to attend the Tampa Bay Coffee & Art Festival with a friend for free in exchange for social media love and this post. All opinions are my own.*

This past Saturday, I was able to attend the Tampa Bay Coffee & Art Festival! As soon as I got word on this opportunity, I knew I had sign up! I mean it’s COFFEE plus tastings and demos, art, live music, and food, you can’t go wrong! A portion of the proceeds went to Bay Area Foundation for the Arts (BAFA), a organization that helps students and teachers further their knowledge in fine and performing arts. I brought a friend and we both had a great time. Great tastings and brews. It was from 6-9pm, first thought: “YES! Coffee!” and second thought: “Late night coffee?…not gonna stop me though.” Took on the brews like a champ and didn’t have *much of a problem sleeping* 😉 worth it though!

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It was inside at the Noise Box, a local venue in Brandon, FL . They had a variety of local vendors such as pottery, art, books, home decor, etc. They had a corner with baked goods to pair nicely with your brew too! All good looking options of course because what else would you pair it with? At each corner of the venue they had four tastings. All unique with different flavors. I tend to like medium roasts, so my favorite was the Colombian.

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They featured a local company, Zeal Coffee Roasters. My first time having their coffee and their cold brew was AMAZING! I don’t always go for the cold brew since it is a little strong for me, but their ‘s was heavenly with a little cream that made me melt–PUNS… get it cold brew, melt…okay I’m done. SO GOOD!

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After having walked around, tried the tastings and had our drinks, we were ready to head out. Since it was a three hour event, the event really took us an hour and half to get through because it was on the smaller side. I heard that it sold out, which I wasn’t surprised about considering a great turnout! However, there was only one roaster, which I feel wasn’t enough. Adding a second or even a third roaster each offering something unique would make it good to compare to. Overall, I would attend this event again because it offered great coffee culture, something I really enjoy and appreciate. Coffee really is an art!

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If you haven’t already noticed, I LOVE coffee. Hence, me jumping at this opportunity to blog about my experience! Aside from the tastings, demos, and info sessions, coffee has other benefits besides the caffeine kick. Although they’re are many benefits to your brew (a load of antioxidants, lowers your chances of certain types of cancer, fights depression) this reason is my favorite: Enhances endurance and improves workout performance! <— Can I get an HELL YEAH??

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For particularly tough workouts either running or a strength day (like a HIIT workout), I grab a cup a couple hour before if I can. Having that boost of energy before your workout puts that energy kick to work! When you have as little as eight ounces, the caffeine travels into your bloodstream and surpresses neurotransmitters in the brain. Once kicked in, the caffeine takes over and masks the effort you’re putting into your run or workout. Result, you can push longer and harder. Read more about it here.Who needs pre-workouts right? Pair coffee with some easy digestible carbs and a little fat and you have the perfect pre-workout snack! My favorite is pretzels and peanut butter and an 8 oz cup of plain coffee with a little stevia. During my marathon, I made sure my GU contained some amount of caffeine and I saw a noticeable difference in that, just as I did when I tried the ones without caffeine. LOL. Wasn’t quite on my A game during those training runs.

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I’ve noticed an equal kick in a grande latte from Starbucks too, so amount is dependent on you. Make sure you have water along that coffee though! Coffee is a dehydrator so I tend to double fist my Camelback thermos with water and coffee in the mornings.

Make sure you attend the Tampa Bay Coffee & Art Festival the next time, enjoy your coffee, then workout afterwards and kill three birds with one stone (or cup) ! 😉

Enjoy!

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Fitbit: Who Does it FIT?

Fitbit: Who Does it FIT?

*Disclaimer: Thanks to the Tampa Bay Bloggers and AT&T spokeswoman Karen McAllister, I had the privilege of getting to use the Fitbit Charge HR for nine days in exchange for this post, social media love, and tickets to Lowry Park Zoo. All opinions are my own.*

After being in touch with Karen from AT&T and Tampa Bay Bloggers, the Fitbit Charge HR was a great product to try for over a week. It gives being active a new sense of awareness. It was nice being able to see my numbers throughout the day and it gave me something to push for during my workouts! I had secretly wanted to see for myself what the hype was all about and I’m really glad I did. It was a pretty cool product and a worthwhile nine days seeing how it worked with me throughout the day while teaching my classes, training clients, and incorporating into my own workouts.

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Fitbit HR has a sleek design and felt light weight when I wasn’t checking my stats.

I specifically had the Charge HR band that tracked my heart rate on top of all the other features it came with: sleep tracker, calories burned, stairs climbed, distance traveled, active minutes etc. It read the heart rate via the radial pulse on my wrist and tracked it at rest and throughout the day. That part alone was especially cool! It was a great way to keep yourself motivated during an intense cardio session alone. During my spin class at Soho Cycling Studio it was handy to look down and check periodically throughout the class how I was doing and to see my total calorie burn post workout. As a group exercise instructor, I especially loved seeing the calories burned and steps tracked throughout my classes I teach. All the little movements and walking around really do add up to more calories burned and distance walked. Once you reach your step goal, mine was 10,000, it vibrates to notify you. From there you receive badges and can see your collection as it grows!

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A day I incorporated a strength day into my routine (note the 26 active minutes) among classes I taught and clients I saw

I would say that the Fitbit is a great tool for many people. Its a great fit for people returning to exercise after an injury, newbie to the fitness world, athlete or regular exerciser, individual with a nine to five desk job, and a cross trainer. Having this tool is great for anyone who needs that extra reminder, motivation, and awareness of their numbers at their fingertips to keep goals in check.

For the individual who are returning post injury and getting back into a routine or is just getting into fitness, this is a great first step. A few of my clients have them and I love asking how their steps are, what they burned during our workouts, their sleep, etc. It’s funny since even a few people in my group classes I teach always report to me how they did post class or even funnier–ask during class, “can we do more cardio? I need to get my steps in.”  In cases like these, I LOVE utilizing it THROUGH my clients and class participants to keep challenging them even more! 😉 From what I have learned about it through myself and others is to WEAR it, otherwise it doesn’t work. Sounds silly making this comment, but if it isn’t charged and ready to wear, don’t count on it doing it’s job. Less time wearing it = less motivation.

For the athlete/regular exerciser, this is great for the constant added challenge through the heart rate feature. I learned I could push harder throughout my spin class, so I continued to increase the intensity and after looking at my stats post class, I TORCHED about 800 calories! WOWZA!! I thought to myself, “I wonder how many I would have burned if I didn’t add the extra resistance?” Yeah no regrets there. 😉 In terms of strength training, my heart rate during the workout was not as high as it was during spin or a run, but it did take note of my elevated heart rate during my half hour strength workout. So, YES males/females that like to strength train and crank it out in the weight room–this is for you too!!

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Badges earned each time you make your goal!

Even when not active, the Fitbit HR keeps the numbers going even at work during the day. Checking resting heart rate during the day and after a few cups of coffee (like I did) I saw a small increase in heart rate! However, it does not vibrate as a way of notifying you to move…which I thought was odd. It does track active minutes, so even though there is no obvious way of notifying you, being motivated to get up and walk around during your lunch break or throughout the day does count. The calories burned and distance traveled stat will soon be your friend.

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I’m pretty sure this was rest day for me, but I did go for a walk with a friend. Tracked my heart rate even during our walk!

What if you’re not a high intensity fitness freak but still enjoy being active–in a less intense way? Maybe yoga/pilates or cross training is your thing? That counts too! Again active minutes and a jump in heart rate counts as a workout and automatically tracked in active minutes. As mentioned above, looking at calories burned is another great way to track as well!

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Each week I got a daily “progress report” on my activity. Great overview to keep me motivated!

As a runner, I LOVE/LIVE by my Garmin Forerunner 15. It tracks my pace, speed, and includes a GPS. It also has a built in heart rate monitor with a strap. I feel the Fitbit would be a good fit for someone who wants to track their overall healthy habits and activity and isn’t necessary focused solely on running. I had this product during my half recently, and chose not to wear it simply because it did not track my running stats–specifically my pace. However, it was GREAT for other activities I participated in.

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Fitbit made it to the Gasparilla Expo!
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Had to take a selfie with it after getting it from Karen!

Throughout the week I used the Fitbit, I did learn a lot about myself and confirmed some things I wasn’t sure of. I learned I can really challenge myself MORE which is exciting to know (via the heart rate feature), I really do need eight hours of sleep..lol, and I have a low resting heart rate. Aside from it being an overall positive experience, in a technological way (the app and way it worked was super easy) and motivating sense, I would recommend this product to everyone looking to enhance or maintain their fitness.

Gasparilla Race Weekend + Reward Yourself with a Customizable Decal

Gasparilla Race Weekend + Reward Yourself with a Customizable Decal

Hi Friends!! If you live in the Tampa Bay area and are a runner, you most likely have heard of the Gasparilla Distance Classic. A weekend usually in the second to last week in February starting on Saturday and ending on Sunday. If you’re a newbie to running or a veteran half marathoner, you’ve got a few different distances to pick from: 5k, 8k, 15k, and half marathon plus three challenges of multiple races throughout the weekend. Starting with a great expo on Friday and into Saturday, awesome looking medals for each distance including exclusive ones for each challenge, pre-race goodie bag, and a well-organized race in sunny Tampa and you have a great race weekend! This is one of my favorite weekends of the whole year and my favorite part of living in Tampa. Its so fun and local to this area, its hard not to run and/or spectate!

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Christina ran the 8k Saturday and Caitlyn cheered from finish! Glad to have kicked off race weekend with these two 🙂
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See ya at the finish, mom!

I’ve participated in the race weekend since starting school at the University of Tampa in 2011. My first half marathon was Gasparilla in 2012 and I participated in the Amber Challenge (5k, 15k, half) last year in 2015. Hard to believe that I’ve run the half marathon/participated in the race weekend for the past five years! Yet again, they did another great job putting the race weekend together. Unfortunately the races fall on the same weekend as the Disney Princess Half Marathon which I haven’t done yet (or any disney race for that matter) because I love this whole weekend that much! I basically walk out my front door and walk to the start, its my home running route, weather is great, and its a reasonable price (sorry disney). Not to say that I won’t do a disney race, I want to eventually, but right now this weekend is something I’ve participated in every year and I can’t break that!! 😉 Honestly though, I wanna run the Tower of Terror 10 miler in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Hopefully 2017 (when they re-open the race) it will work out then!

The week before the race, of course I felt I was overdoing it a little…smh :/ I was feeling some tightness in my right foot after my ten mile run and from that moment, I got back into some foot strengthening/maintenance exercises and made sure I foam rolled (both of these I’m not good at doing regularly) and for a week I took off running. I did this before my marathon too because of a similar issue, so I repeated it again before the half. I went to Soho Cycling, strength trained, did yoga, ate well, rested, etc. All that was left was awaiting for my Mom to show up for the weekend! Another reason this race is tradition is because it always falls on the weekend after my birthday. A good excuse for my mom or both my parents to come watch and spend the weekend with me. Who doesn’t love when you get personal cheerleaders AND they help you celebrate your birthday a little longer?! My mom arrived Saturday morning and we went shopping, had lunch/dinner our favorite places. Daily Eats is BOMB has a killer shredder bowl for pre-race fuel and Oxford Exchange is AHmazing for their Chicken Burger and sweet potato fries post race. I crave a burger and fries post race of almost any distance. I think its the ultimate cheat meal especially since I don’t typically make this kind of stuff for myself during the week. Isn’t that what a cheat meal is supposed to be?! YAS.

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Who doesn’t love local strawberries covered in chocolate??

The morning of the race was Sunday at 6am so I got up around 4-ish to eat, get myself prepped, and be ready to head out the door around 5:30am. I woke up and felt like I was hit by a truck…yeah. Not a way to start a half marathon. I remember thinking, “you can go back to bed and not run or you can suck it up and run.” I chose the latter. Sweating out whatever I had could be okay. I felt confident after having deciding and warming up so I was already feeling better mentally. I made it to the start and bang went the gun and off I went! Overall weather-wise it was great. I started slow, about 9-9:30 min/mile and soon made up time as I got to mile eight. Past eight, I started picking it up. I was feeling much better! The last five 5k I was up to 8 min/mile and felt amazing. All I used was my nuun and ended up not needing any of my gu. I finished strong with a time of 1:51:51! I was so happy and proud! I had PR-ed and cut four minutes off my time from last year! Although my marathon was about a month ago, it significantly helped me mentally and physically with my improvement in my time. By far it gave me a new appreciation of running half way! BEYOND GRATEFUL pretty much sums it up.

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Post race, my mom and I walked back and got ready for the rest of the day. We had brunch with LiveSweatSleep post race, got strawberries in Plant City, did some home improvement stuff like putting together the rest of my room and defrosting my fridge–fun stuff. That night I started feeling pretty tired and worn out. I was also starting to feel that “hit by a truck” feeling aka getting sick. My mom made me homemade chicken noodle soup and we just relaxed until she left the next morning!

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Caitlyn join in for post race brunch!

Overall, besides starting off the race not feeling so hot to the weekend overall being fun and memorable complete with my PR, it was great!! An awesome way to start year 23!

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Breakfast thanks for THE Columbia for a killer way to refuel post half!

SO…have YOU run any of the Gasparilla races yet?? Maybe you’re like me and run the same race every year or you just tackled a new distance? Maybe you ran disney or another race recently and want to reward yourself for your hard work? 🙂 I gotcha covered. Whatever the accomplishment, check out these custom made decals by ThisCrazyLifeofMine!! I saw them on LiveSweatSleep‘s car and thought how cute and clever AND get all distances covered in the same place.

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They’re awesome because they make great car bling, they’re a cute way to reward yourself and show off your accomplishments, and its completely customizable 😉 From the color of the hearts, the distances, and line at the bottom, you can make it uniquely YOU. Check out This Crazy Life of Mine for more info! Be sure to email crazylifeofmineblog@gmail.com for a $1 off when you mention AliGoesTheDistance.

YOUR TURN:

-What race have you done recently? Did you try a new distance or race altogether? How did it go??

-Any pre-race rituals? 😛

Why I Love Being a Personal Trainer

Why I Love Being a Personal Trainer

I celebrated my three year anniversary of becoming a certified Personal Trainer just last month! I can definitely say I’ve met some pretty amazing people, attended various conferences and workshops, and helped make a difference in people’s lives by helping them reach their fitness goals. This is just the beginning as to why I love my job!

I majored in Exercise Science from the University of Tampa this past May and I decided to become a personal trainer my sophomore year of college. With my love of running, getting fit, and my newly declared major, I figured it was a good idea. It would also give me the opportunity to work at school in our gym as a way to get experience and make some extra money. I talked to a few people about different certifications and ways to go about it, and I finally took the plunge and bought a package full study materials from the American Council on Exercise (ACE). I studied throughout the fall among my college classes (nuts I know) each week devoting Fridays, a day I had no class, as the day I would study for personal training. I would get up early and it would literally take most of my Friday to read the chapter, do the workbook pages for it, create/look over flashcards, watch the videos online, AND take the d@mn quiz. That was one lesson. Each week without fail, I got through the materials in about three months. I studied throughout Christmas break and on our family ski trip. I planned to take the exam at home before heading back for the spring semester…specifically on January 18th! After about four hours, I PASSED! I was so happy! The past three months of studying was worth it.

The past three years of training have been so rewarding, I’m so happy I decided to become a trainer. The studying and the test itself was tough, but besides that, it has taught me how to deal with people (both good and bad), stand up for myself, and challenge myself in the fitness world. Personal training is great because its a pretty flexible job and you are constantly on the go. Helping people get fit is fun, allows for creativity when creating workouts and plans, and is a hands-on application of knowledge. Working with a variety of people of different abilities and goals makes each client a new and exciting challenge. After college, I specifically chose to focus on in-home training, running based/interested, weight-loss, women, overall achieving a healthy lifestyle-type based clients. I also expanded my services to FaceTime. It wasn’t overnight, but the clients that were interested in my services also helped make my marketing. I gathered similar interests and goals from them as well as added my focuses, experience, and personality while creating my own niche. Everything is what YOU want, you are your own boss, another favorite part of my job. Becoming the trainer you want to become is all up to you!

Although I love what I do, it has its drawbacks like any other job. I can say first-hand that it is not always financially stable. Clients come and go as they want, availability changes, life happens, and sometimes that means a loss of a client of change of plans entirely. With  that comes less money or drop in compensation altogether. You work for your client and their needs, goals, availability, etc. (within reason) which in some cases means early mornings or late nights. Marketing takes time. Clients do not just come knocking on your door. YOU have to get them to knock. This is why I loved working at school as a trainer because people already knew me as, Ali: the sorority sister, friend, classmate, etc. and now personal trainer. Post college was tough. As a way to boost my business, I created this blog/website, my like page on Facebook: Ali Swank- Public Figure, and became an ambassador for a few fitness based companies such as Fit2Run-International Plaza, Momentum Jewelry, and Fitfluential. I established myself as blogger through Tampa Bay Bloggers, with my blog focusing particularly in running, but with an overall focus on living a healthy active lifestyle.

Throughout all the good and not-so-good experiences as a trainer, I can say I LOVE my job and am excited to continue this career throughout my life. I would say it definitely aligns with my vision of staying healthy, helping others get fit, and learning exercise isn’t boring, all while creating a positive experience. Side perks include working your own schedule…aka #girlboss, wearing workout clothes as part of everyday work…yes, I mean wearing yoga pants and nikes is perfectly okay ;), and helping others get fit and have fun! In a nutshell, this is my job…CHEERS to a new year of clients and experiences as working in one of the coolest industries–health and fitness!

Taps At International Plaza: Beyond Just a “Bar”

Taps At International Plaza: Beyond Just a “Bar”

**Disclaimer: Thanks to affiliation with the Tampa Bay Bloggers, I was able to experience complementary menu items from Taps at International Plaza in exchange for this post and social media love. All opinions are my own**

I frequent International Plaza mostly for shopping, specifically Fit2Run, but now since I’m affiliated with the Tampa Bay Bloggers, I was able to experience more then just shopping! My first official event with the Tampa Bay Bloggers was at our Holiday Swap at Taps Bar & Lounge at International Plaza. We got to try a variety of different menu items as well as sampled some signature drinks. SO fun! I loved getting to know other bloggers all while eating and drinking complementary of Taps!–Thank you TBB!

Between a variety of drinks to choose from, the food was amazing and we were able to sample a few from each part of the menu! Check out a few of the dishes we sampled! SO GOOD!

Top left to right: Filet Mignon Brochette, Roasted Pomegranate Salmon, Sailor’s Shandy, Chocolate Lava Cake

Bottom left to right: Beets Beets Beets, Bacon Wrapped Jalapeños, Honey Badger

Not only is it a casual place to dine and drink, but was far from the “bar scene” vibe. More then just a place to drink, they have a great menu of various appetizers, salads, mains, and desserts. All ingredients are fresh, well-prepared, and have a variety of flavors everyone can enjoy. For their beer and wine options, they have over 100 varieties of wines and up to 60 choices available by glass as well as a wide selection of craft beers and imports. Drinks are paired with outstanding food with quality flavors, among a fun, casual ambiance.

I can’t wait to bring family and friends here the next time we want to switch it up! Taps is definitely on my list for a crowd-pleasing night out.