Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Our Infertility Journey

When Jason and I were married (almost nine years ago!), our initial "perfect world" plan was to wait two years, have 1 kid, then wait two more years and have another kid. Well, two years came and went and...well, there was no kid. We simply decided that we enjoyed our kid-free life - carefree, no worries, come and go as we pleased, travel as we liked....so we put our "plan" on the back burner.

As the years went by, people consistently made comments to me about my biological clock. Yeah yeah...who wants to hear about that? Honestly y'all, if I could have put a stop clock on my 27th year and remained 27 years old forever, I would have. Since life doesn't work that way (darnit), time kept ticking by and before I knew it, I was in my 30's. 

Still, that longing to bring another life into this world just wasn't there for me...and Jason felt the same way. As a child and playing with baby dolls, I always dreamed of being a mom one day - I just knew I would...so what was wrong with me? What happened to my childhood dreams? I finally started telling people that we were on the fence about kids...which was partially true.

Those feelings didn't change in a day.....it was over the course of time. Our "perfect world" was shattered when my grandfather grew ill and passed away and that's when the realization hit me - my life as I knew it then would not always "be". My current life situation as I knew it at that moment in time wouldn't always be the same - that's just how life goes. We had to ask ourselves, did we really want to let this phase of our lives pass us by and not experience parenthood? The answer was a definite NO.  I remember lying in bed one night in tears, crying on Jason's shoulder. I'm not sure he fully understood the emotions I was experiencing, but he comforted and told me everything would be ok.

Jason and I had been trying to conceive for a couple of months around the time of my grandfather's passing. At his funeral, several family members wrote notes and left them in his casket. In mine, I told my grandfather that him and my grandmother couldn't hold on to my baby for too long...because I wanted to meet him or her eventually. It was a comfort for me to picture my grandparents taking care of my child in heaven while its earthly home was being prepared. Sound silly? Well, it wasn't to me. I loved my grandparents dearly - they were like a second set of parents to me. The fact that they aren't here with me as I'm going through this time absolutely crushes my heart...so to think that they had some part in caring for my child makes the fact that they aren't here on earth with me right now a little more bearable.

Fast forward to a year later. Obviously we knew something was wrong. It's recommended for those under the age of 35 to try to conceive for 1 year prior to becoming pregnant. Well, we had done that and were still coming up short. I used an insane amount of ovulation sticks and read my fair share of fertility books over the course of our journey. We finally decided to contact an infertility specialist and see if we could figure out what was wrong. Only problem - the nearest infertility specialist was in a town an hour away.

 Lucky for us, Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend was approaching and our airport travel destination took us right through the town where the infertility specialist was located! So, the day before we flew out to Orlando, we officially met our infertility specialist. I was SO nervous for our appointment with her. As an added kick to my wounded pride, mother nature decided to remind me just why I was in that infertility clinic to begin with....if you catch my drift. I was so sure it was a sign that I would never conceive. (Dramatic, much?)

Our doctor was SO nice and spent a good hour going over everything about infertility with Jason and I. Basically, we came out of her office knowing that the world of infertility is an uncertain world and no answers are promised. We also discovered just how costly the infertility journey can be for a couple...and our insurance wasn't much help, unfortunately.  Feeling utterly defeated, we put the thoughts out of the back of our minds as we looked forward to a fun filled week in our happy place.

After returning home refreshed, both Jason and I went through a series of test, exams, and lab work in December. I also had an HSG exam which resulted just fine. (I was seriously worried I had a tumor or something...yeah yeah...the life of an oncology nurse!)

It was determined that we were experiencing something called "Male Infertility Factor" along with low testosterone. We also learned that 30% of infertility cases are related to Male Infertility Factor. As a matter of fact, our levels were so bad (the count, motility, and morphology were all super below normal...like really really bad) that the first step of infertility treatments (IUI or Intrauterine Insemination) wasn't even an option for us. IUI is the much cheaper first step before IVF (In Vitro Fertilization). Unfortunately, if we decided not to pursue any other options, our infertility specialist told us that the only one she could give us was IVF.  In the midst of the conversation, the idea of a Urologist who specialized in male infertility was discussed. Willing to try anything, we agreed.

Honestly, agreeing to see the urologist was the best decision we ever made. We LOVED him! From the start, he was very encouraging and even shared his personal infertility struggles with us which made us feel incredibly reassured!

Then, it began again - Jason was placed through a series of testing, lab work, and ultrasounds to determine and pinpoint the problem. It was discovered that he had a varicocele which was more than likely the culprit for the poor numbers on his analysis. Add poor numbers to a low testosterone and we were really up a creek without a paddle.  We were given two options from the urologist - a varicocele repair (which required a surgery) and placing Jason on Clomid (yes, you read that correctly).

At the end of April, Jason began taking Clomid and had the varicocele repair on May first. We were given the green light to return to life as normal the following week. We were also told that it takes an entire three months to show any improvement in counts after a change is made. In my head, that translated to August/September. We were also told that if the goal of achieving a pregnancy on our own didn't occur, it was possible that his counts could improve enough that IUI would become an option again. I hoped we wouldn't have to go that route, but I tried to take it one day at a time.

 Much to my utter surprise and amazement, I received a positive pregnancy test when we returned from our Baseball Hall of Fame Weekend at the end of JULY! I honestly couldn't believe my sleep-deprived eyes that morning. It had only been two months since his surgery and I had only been through two cycles - no way a pregnancy was already happening!! The above photo is from my work calendar the day after I found out I was pregnant! I shared the remainder of the story here if you'd like to read about it, and the rest as they say...is history!

Throughout our infertility journey, we experienced a lot of pain and sorrow, but I can promise you that it was all worth it in the end! Some of the hardest parts were around holidays - for our church Christmas musical, I was given the part of Eve and the lines reminded of how unsuccessful I was at bearing children; during the Easter production, I was given the part of Mary and one of the lines stated that I was "most blessed of women...for I held a baby in my arms..."; and this year, at least six pregnancy announcements from friends were made. Although I was incredibly happy for my friends for achieving this seemingly impossible feat, it never seemed to end...everywhere I turned, there were always reminders...

To those out there still experiencing this journey, I know there are no words I can say that will make it better. I wish I could reach through this computer and give you a great big giant hug right now. I've been there...I know how much it hurts. It's a hollow ache that no one or thing this side of earth can fill.

However, I CAN promise you this - "I say this because I know what I am planning for you,” says the Lord. “I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future" - Jeremiah 29:11  This verse was my solid ground...my rock...throughout our infertility struggles. Every time a reminder of my fertility failures arose, I reminded myself that God had EVERYTHING under control. My life, my circumstances, and my future were all in His hands...I just had to keep trusting that everything would work out as it should. Don't lose heart and don't give up hope. Your rainbow is out there, too!!  

Much love to you all! Thanks for all of the support! It means the world to Jason and I! 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Long Run & A Relaxing Weekend

This weekend was a fairly relaxing one for me and I enjoyed every moment!

On Friday afternoon, I cleaned out several cabinets in the laundry room (cleaning and throwing stuff away is very therapeutic to me)! I also caught up on Grey's Anatomy and Dancing with the Stars.

Saturday morning's run made me very happy because it was the first time I had the opportunity to wear my For Two Fitness shirt!

This shirt is so comfortable and fits so well...I love it! There's definitely room in the sides to grow with the baby! 

As soon as I got home, I ordered two more - one with short sleeves and one with long sleeves! For Two Fitness is having a Fall sale right now - use code FALL25 for 25% off everything in their shop! (Note: I am not affiliated with For Two Fitness, I just love their clothing and want to share in the sale happiness!)

I used my new pre-run formula again (a tbsp of almond butter and a Clif bar) which again held me over until the end of the run! YAY! Two gold stars for almond butter!

After completing the run, I realized I forgot my banana at home...whoops! Instead, I dug through my bag and found this guy! It was already opened because I sampled it for my Bulu Box review...but about 1/2 the pack remained. 

HOW one earth I missed the smiley faces  last time, I have no clue! Aren't these adorable?!

Again, I enjoyed the flavor/consistency of these chews and the scripture on the back made me smile! These are making my "amazon list" next time I place an order!

Something else that has not taken place after a long run in a while was a Panera stop! This time, I ordered a French toast bagel for me and an blueberry bagel for Jason.....with honey walnut cream cheese spread...YUM!

The remainder of Saturday was spent doing a few continuing education units for work and piddling around the house (laundry, de-cluttering, etc).

This girl and I also spent a lot of quality time together on Saturday afternoon! She's so sweet!!

Since my appetite wasn't very high on Saturday (I basically ate lunch and dinner because I had to), I definitely made up for it on Sunday! 

I love the chicken gyro's from a local pizza stop...so good! It definitely made for a yummy Sunday lunch!

On Sunday night after church, several friends and I went to a local pizza buffet for dinner. It was my suggestion because I wanted pizza all weekend but was home alone for most of it. Glad my friends agreed to indulge with me!! :) Unfortunately, we weren't able to see the eclipse or the blood moon because the cloud coverage was so thick. Oh well.

Hope you had a great weekend! Were you able to check out the eclipse? Anything exciting happen this weekend?

Friday, September 25, 2015

Fitness Friday - Running While Pregnant

Happy Friday, everyone! Again, thank you guys so much for your outpouring of love this week - it has meant so much to Jason and I!

In today's Fitness Friday, I'm going to share a little bit about my running journey and how it has changed since I discovered I was pregnant.

To date, I've kept up with at least three runs per week - one 2 mile, one 3 mile, and one long run. If that meant an early morning weekday run on the treadmill so I could nap in the afternoon, then that's what took place.  Was it easy? No, definitely not.

I learned a few things very early on -
  • No longer could I not eat before my morning run. Even if it was just a tablespoon of almond butter, I needed something to fuel my system. 
  • Water became my best friend (and still is), especially with the hot August days in Southwest Louisiana. 
  • Almost immediately, I noticed that I felt more breathless while running which prompted me to slow down my pace. When that didn't cut it enough, I decided to begin a run/walk regime. So far, I've adapted well to Galloway's 4:1 and a 3:2 run/walk depending on the heat/humidity of the day.
My pace has slowed down a LOT. I feel like a turtle most days but again, I'm ok with that.....as long as I can keep moving, I will! 

Also, I did a lot of research in the early pregnant days (I still do but not near as much) and I read a lot about running while pregnant. There's SO much conflicting information out there, the main one being this - "don't let your heart rate get above 140"....ummm, I don't know about you, but that's impossible for me, especially with the weather/humidity here. My heart rate stayed around 160 no matter how much run/walking I put into the equation - even switching to an indoor treadmill didn't do the trick. It left me incredibly frustrated to be honest. After a lengthy discussion with my infertility clinicians and my OB, I was told to do what feels right for me. They are a-ok with me run/walking BUT if any discomfort or pain is experienced at all, then I should stop (kind of a no brainer there). Also, I was instructed not to go out there and try to beat records - trust me, there's no record breaking paces going on around here and I'm ok with that...at least until next spring! :) Last but not least, I was told to only run to the point where I could still carry on a conversation. 

That's easy! Enter...this girl, my BRF Heather!

Carrying conversations while running is what we do best!

So far, she's run/walked all of my long runs with me and I'm so thankful for that!

At 8 weeks pregnant, we ran/walked 8 miles (I'm pregnant on here...haha)!

Then at 10 weeks, 10 miles...

...and at 12 weeks, 12 miles! This run happened last weekend and I mentioned to her that it would be my last "weekly mashup" because I definitely don't plan on going for 14 miles, 16 miles, or anything greater than that until after the baby is born!

Another thing I've noticed that's different about long runs while pregnant is my hunger level. I think I finally managed to figure out a sustaining fuel, but it definitely took a while! After about an hour into the run, an insane hunger would hit me. Last week, I added a tablespoon of almond butter (there it is again) as an addition to my regular Clif bar and that made a tremendous difference! I was able to complete the entire 12 miles on Saturday without any hunger pains! Yay!

Currently, we are training for the Gulf Coast Half Marathon in Mandeville, Louisiana. It will take place in October and I'll be somewhere around 16 weeks! I'm looking forward to a fun weekend and my first half marathon with the baby! :)

What's your favorite way to fuel a long run?

Disclaimer:  Although I am a nurse, I am not an OB physician and am not expert in the world of pregnancy and gestation. The opinions and thoughts shared here are things my physician and I discussed and determined together - if you are experiencing problems or have concerns, call your physician immediately. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Pregnancy Update - First Trimester

First I want to start off by thank you all so much for your sweet words on yesterday's blog post! This has been such a whirlwind of an experience so far, where time seems to drag on....then seems to spin so fast!

Today, I'm going to share a bit about finding out we were pregnant and my first trimester, then include weekly updates from here on out.

Jason and I battled infertility issues. We chose to keep our journey private and didn't share with anyone - as a matter of fact, only our parents and very few close personal friends knew.  In a later post, I plan on sharing our entire infertility journey but for now, I'll start when I discovered I was pregnant.

After my family and I returned from the Baseball Hall of Fame Induction in July (Cooperstown), I knew something was up! I was a few days late and couldn't figure out what was going on. I just knew I wasn't pregnant because I had taken two pregnancy tests at 10 days post ovulation and both turned up negative. One was an old test and questionable but the other was a newer test and definitely said no - therefore, I definitely wasn't pregnant....right?

I decided that if nothing happened by the following morning (after returning from Cooperstown), I would take a test. At 5:30 that morning, I couldn't believe my eyes....the pregnancy test had TWO lines. TWO! I was so shocked, I ran and woke Jason frantically (he thought the house was on fire or something)!

He was very excited but encouraged me to purchase extra tests that afternoon...just to be sure! (The one in my cabinet was a little old.) I practically shook all day at work - it was insane. I was able to focus on what I was doing, but I definitely willed the day away. Know how time seems to draaaaaag on...like while waiting for Christmas morning? Yeah, that's how it felt! Finally, the afternoon came and I was able to stop by the store on my way home. I chose two different types of tests - one with a + sign and a digital one that read the words out on the screen.

To my utter shock and surprise, ALL of the test confirmed the same thing - yes, I was indeed pregnant. WOW. (Madalynn wasn't quite sure what was going on...but she wanted to play anyway!)

Jason and I snapped this picture right after we found out our news!

Honestly, I had no clue who to call first...should I call the infertility clinic? My OB?? So, I decided to start with the infertility clinic and go from there. They confirmed that they wanted to follow me for at least 10 weeks, then they would release me to my regular OBGYN. 

I had labwork drawn (the above picture is what I sent to Jason after my first) which confirmed high levels of hcg in my system. Three days later, the hcg numbers tripled like they were supposed to and that's when it all sank in...yes, I was indeed going to bring a new life into this world in just 9 short months.

Since that time, Baby Seal has traveled to two Astros games, been in a wedding, celebrated several family birthdays, and traveled to New York!

It was SO hard to keep our secret in without telling our families because we see them all the time. If you watched the video, my dad asked when I found out, then he gave me a funny look....that's because we had eaten dinner with them at least 6 times since Cooperstown, celebrated my mom's birthday, and traveled all the way to Houston and back...and we still managed to keep it a secret! Whoops.

So far, I've had two ultrasounds...

...one at eight weeks...

..and one at almost 12 weeks!

It's AMAZING how fast this baby has grown in just a few short weeks! Seeing and hearing the heartbeat for the first time was an incredible experience - such a tiny life growing inside of me...the wonders of God are so incredible!

Here's a few weekly pictures starting at 6 weeks to now. I know there's not much to see, but it sure has been fun to document!

6 Weeks...

7 Weeks...

...between 8 and 9 weeks...

...10 weeks...

....11 weeks...

 ...12 weeks!

How many weeks are you now?
12 weeks + 5 days

Baby's size? 

Severe fatigue - A friend of mine told me I was taking advantage of all the napping and I had to clarify - the only way I can describe this fatigue is by comparing it to staying up ALL night long...maybe getting three hours of sleep...then having to wake up and go to work. By the afternoon, it's impossible to even move because you're so tired. The crazy part is I've been getting at least 8 hours of sleep each night plus 2 hour naps in the afternoon! Thankfully, the fatigue is not near as severe as it was - it peaked between weeks 6 and 10. I do love my naps, though!

Headaches - I've found that if I increase the amount of water I drink throughout the day, these tend to disappear. More water it is!

Cramping - I had a lot of this in the first trimester, but it makes logical sense to me - baby is growing! 

Thankfully, I've had NO morning sickness BUT if I don't eat, then watch out! We've had a few "food emergencies" where I need food like yesterday...I do try to keep something extra with me on hand at all times, though (read...Cheeze-it's in the backseat of my car)!

Weight Gain:
None yet

Body & Changes: 
I can definitely feel my tummy expanding a little day by day!

Still running! However, I've changed my pace up and am now a run-walker...more on that later! :)

Still fit in my normal, every day clothing (for now...)!

 Cereal. Any kind...especially Frosted Mini-Wheats!

YES! Fish, Steamed Broccoli, and Steamed Veggies. Don't. Bring. Them. Anywhere. Near Me.

Any Movement?
Not yet!

Great so far!

Diapers and a few outfits here and there!

What I miss: 
Running fast. (That will come back...I'm not complaining!)

What I’m looking forward to:
Feeling the baby move!

Best Moment of the Week: 
Sharing our pregnancy news with everyone yesterday!

Thanks again so much to everyone for your sweet words yesterday....it means so much to me and I tried to respond to everyone. If I missed you, I'm sorry - it definitely was not intentional! 

Did you have any food aversions while pregnant? If so, what were they? 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Changes Are Coming!

Pixie and Madalynn have exciting news to share!! :)

Yes, that's right!
Jason and I are expecting and I am currently 12 weeks along!

Baby Seal is due to make his or her arrival in April of 2016!

Check out the video below to see how we shared the news with our families! :)

Stay tuned for more updates this week!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Fitness Friday - 9/18 & My Exercise/Stretching Routine for IT Band

Happy Friday, everyone! Another weekend is around the corner and I'm excited for a little rest and relaxation! :)

Currently training for: 
Gulf Coast Half Marathon

Princess Half Marathon (Glass Slipper Challenge)
Rock n Roll New Orleans Half Marathon

Saturday – 6 mile run with the running group
Sunday – Rest Day
Monday –  PT exercises - lunges/squats
Tuesday –  2 mile run
Wednesday – PT exercises - lunges/squats
Thursday – Rest Day
Friday – 3 mile run

Tomorrow (Saturday), I have 12 miles up for Gulf Coast Half training. I hope it's at least a little cooler outside...mother nature, please be kind!

A few weeks back, I was asked to share my PT routine with you guys and I am very happy to do so!

For starters, I battled with IT Band Syndrome in both knees at one point in time. I spent six to eight weeks with a physical therapist who helped runners like myself get back on track. As a matter of fact, they were runners themselves! I also saw a massage therapist on a fairly regular basis who specialized in sports injuries - he was amazing!

Please Note: I'm not a Physical Therapist, nor am I an expert in this area. I only share the strengthening exercises that were given to me by my Physical Therapist and these exercises have helped keep my running on track without any IT Band flareups.

Do each of these exercises 10 times each, then repeat x 3

Squats with our without weights


Stand with your feet hip/shoulder width apart.  Bend until your knees are at a 90 degree angle. Keep your knees even with your ankles (don't bring your knees in front of your feet) - this should feel like you are about to sit down. Stand back up.

When I first started with squats, I didn't use any weights. As time went on, I was increased from two 5 lb weights to two 10 lb weights.

While at the PT center, I also did squats on the smith machine. Since I don't have access to one at my house, I haven't maintained these in my routine.

Lunges with our without weights

Step forward with your right foot first, then bend down until your back knee almost touches the floor. Also, make sure your right knee stays at a 90 degree angle over your ankle - don't bend forward, bend down. You can do these forward and backwards - either walking or remaining in place.

This is another exercise I began without weights and added them later.

Lateral Lunges


Standing with your feet together, step out to the side with your right leg. Bend down as if you're going into a squat with your right knee (sitting back) - make sure your knee remains at a 90 degree angle and doesn't bend forward over your ankle. Keep your left leg straight out to the side. Return to standing position, then repeat with the other leg. For me, both legs count as 1 rep.

Strengthening with Resistance Bands


Loop one end on a door knob or object that's low to the ground (I loop mine around a the coffee table leg). Place ankle in opposite loop.  

Also, make sure to exercise both legs.

Sidelying Hip Abduction


Start by lying on one side, keeping your bottom knee bent and straightening the upper leg. Lift the upper leg, keeping it in line with your body while keeping the spine stable (don't lift too high).

Flip to the opposite side and repeat!


Pigeon Pose


Hold the pose for 30 seconds or so until it gets comfortable. I also liked to bend forward until my elbows touched my knees or the ground on the sides of my knees. Repeat on opposite leg. This is my favorite stretch of them all!

Seated IT Band Stretch


Cross injured leg over the uninjured side and pull the leg as close to your chest as possible - repeat on opposite leg.

Foam Rolling


Unfortunately, my foam roller doesn't look as pretty as the one in this video. Foam rolling isn't pleasant, but it's 100% necessary. I've found that the Rumble Roller has been my best bet when it comes to foam rolling!

Now you know my twice weekly routine (and sometimes more if I remember)! I hope this helped some of you who are also struggling with IT Band Syndrome!

What exercises/stretches would you add? (I know I didn't cover them all!)

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Not Just A Nurse

Why did I become a nurse?

That question sometimes makes me stop and think for a second...why did I?

Well, as a senior in high school, I watched my grandfather struggle and battle with lung cancer. I watched as his health slowly declined. I watched as he was placed on hospice, toting oxygen with long tubing attached to it all around his house. I remember the day he passed away and I remember exactly how it happened. I remember being sad because he wasn't at my high school graduation. I remember how I proudly wore the jewelry he purchased for me that matched my senior ring (he even called the school ahead of time to ask about the stone/colors in my ring). I remember thinking that I never wanted anyone else to feel the emptiness of losing a loved one to this horrible disease we call cancer.

Once I started nursing school, I thought pediatrics was my calling. Boy did I love my pedi rotation. As a senior graduate nursing student, I even had the opportunity to work with a Pediatric ICU nurse for six weeks - and I loved every minute.

However, my vision changed once I graduated, passed NCLEX, and became an RN. My eyes were opened to the incredible world of Oncology nursing....making a difference in people's lives on a DAILY basis, helping patients live longer/better lives and having a better quality of life in their last days. It wasn't just the patients though - it was their family members, too...holding their hands and telling them that everything would be ok after their loved ones passed away...and it would, eventually.

After a time on the inpatient floor, a wonderful door of opportunity opened for me and led me where I am today. Now, I get to work with a wide variety of oncology patients, many of them I now call my friends. Here, I get to see a patient for weeks at a time, and on a daily basis at that. I know what my patients and their family members sound like on the phone - and most of them know the sound of my voice, too. I have the wonderful opportunity to celebrate, rejoice, and cry happy tears with patients when they receive positive reports...and I love every minute!

I've seen patients and their families out in public (when I'm not in my scrubs) and they recognize me and remember my name. It happened this past Saturday at a local college football game....it's also happened at the mall, while out to eat, at the movies...need I go on? Not only am I able to help make a difference in patients lives, but they make a difference in mine too.

I'm honored that I was called and chosen to be a nurse and I'm proud to work in my profession.

Recently, a group of women on The View decided to degrade and bash Miss Colorado for her bold move in this weekend's Miss America Pageant. She walked across the stage in navy blue scrubs, white shoes, and she wore a stethoscope around her neck. In the talent portion of the competition, Miss Colorado shared about the reason she became a nurse and how she helped make a difference in a specific patient's life. She also served to remind the millions of nurses out there that we are NOT JUST A NURSE.

Bashing fellow professionals is NOT ok. I realize that the show is called "The View" and it's all about their opinions, but what Michelle and Joy said was wrong on so many levels and the uproar on social media from fellow nurses makes my heart proud.

Ladies of The View, let me say this - everyone gets old or sick at some point in their life. Millions are diagnosed with cancer, heart disease, lung problems, etc on a regular basis. Before you bash a nurse, you should think about that fact (please know I would never wish any kind of sickness on anyone) because one day, you might need a nurse - one who will treat you with compassion and respect....not because it's a job, but because it's a calling. 

Proud of my profession,
Proud to be a nurse,
Not JUST a nurse,
--Karen :)

Have a fantastic day!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Trainng Plan - Tips from Jeff Galloway

There's so many things I love about  Fall - the promise of cooler weather is in the air, Christmas is right around the corner, and a new training plan is attached to the fridge! With each new half/full marathon season comes a new training plan and with it, new goals and ambitions!

Today, Jeff Galloway gives several tips on Training Plans for both seasoned and new runners. Enjoy!

WHY SHOULD I HAVE A TRAINING PLAN?  When using a proven strategy, a runner gains control over fatigue while improving motivation.  Those who follow the right training plan, for the individual,  tend to improve more, with less injury risk.

WOULD BEGINNERS BENEFIT MORE FROM A PLAN  Unfortunately, most beginners “run as they feel” or follow conflicting advice.  This leads to confusion and more aches and pains.   The right schedule will systematically increase the type of running needed for a goal, with strategic rest for rebuilding.


  1.  A longer run builds endurance
  2. A hilly run builds strength
  3. Scenic or social runs insert fun and keep you coming back for more
WHAT IS ADDED TO A PLAN IF THE GOAL IS TO RUN FASTER?  The right training plan will gradually increase the speed repetitions needed for the individual goal.  Easier days and rest days must be inserted before and after speed workouts.  To avoid injury, the pace and the increase must be realistic for the individual.   

EVERY OTHER DAY!  Most runners—especially beginners—run best when they run every other day.  This allows for the “weak links” to heal.  The very slow long run is usually on the weekend, when there is more time available.  Hills and fun days can be run on the short runs during the week (for example, Tuesday and Thursday)

SHOULD I EXERCISE ON NON-RUNNING DAYS? While you don't have to exert yourself on non running days to improve your running, exercise will energize your mind, and improve your attitude and vitality—while burning some fat.  So I recommend any exercise that does not fatigue the calf muscle, such as recreational walking. 

DOES VARIETY HELP?  Changing things a bit can improve motivation.   You don't have to change the “mission” on specific days, but alternating some of the courses or running with different groups can make each day more interesting.

WHAT ARE VARIOUS MISSIONS, FOR VARIOUS DAYS? Each type of run bestows a different benefit.  Hill runs build strength.  Drills that work on cadence, gentle acceleration and gliding will improve your running form.  Long runs produce stamina and endurance. 

WHAT SHOULD I DO THE DAY BEFORE AND THE DAY AFTER LONG OR FASTER RUNS?  Take it easy on these days.  Do little or no exercise, don't over-eat, drink 8 glasses of water/sports drinks, and focus on how you will enjoy the next run.

SHOULD I SKIP THE REST DAYS—TO IMPROVE MORE QUICKLY.  Not Recommended!  It is during the days off from running that the running body rebuilds and improves.  While some runners can get away with running short and slow runs on rest days for a while, these “junk miles” can compromise recovery and lead to injuries.  
IF I DON’T LIKE A WORKOUT CAN I SUBSTITUTE? Following a consistent plan is more likely to lead to success and improve motivation.  Those who pick various elements from different schedules experience  more burnout and injury. 

What are your thoughts on a training plan? Do you typically find one and stick to it or do your own thing? (I'll admit, I'm not the best at sticking to a training plan 100%!)

As an official Jeff Galloway blogger, I am provided with occasional tips to share with you guys - no compensation is received on my end! Hope you’ve enjoyed them! 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Feelin' Like Fall

The weather this weekend was incredible and I loved every minute! When you can feel Fall in the air...yesss....that's absolutely the best! I sure hope it sticks around for a while (wishful thinking)!

Although the humidity was a little high on Saturday morning, the temperatures were in the mid 70's! 

Heather and I met up with the running group on Saturday morning. We did a run/walk combo for 6 miles around town and had a great time!

After the run, I took a nap then went to a family birthday party. It was nice to visit and catch up with the family!

We had McAlisters for dinner, then visited Cowboy Stadium for the first home game of the season! Everyone in my group was McNeese Alumni, so we had fun cheering on our boys! They won, too!! 

Kona Ice was on scene and I couldn't pass up my opportunity! Yum! 

The band!

After the game, the team knelt down for a prayer! I loved seeing this!! 

Linzi on my right, sister in law on my left! :)

Oh yes, and we also had a belated birthday/freedom/happy wedding party for a few friends on Friday night. The candle holder above was one of my gifts and I love it! Fall is just the best time of year!! 

Today, I have to have a hole fixed in a tooth. Whomp whomp. On Labor Day, I noticed that a chunk of filling fell out of my back molar and I don't remember when, where, or how. Strange, isn't it? I'm just glad it wasn't hurting or causing me excruciating pain, but I definitely don't want it to get infected. The worst part of it all is the lasting effects of the numbing medication. 

Ah well, it's yet another beautiful day in the south, so I'm going to enjoy it as much as possible! Have a fabulous Monday!  

How was your weekend? Any long runs/races?

Friday, September 11, 2015

Bulu Box Review

This past month, I received a Bulu Box sample to try and it did not disappoint! I've received Bulu Box in the past but it's been a while, so I was excited to see what was inside!

This box included a variety of different items! Two different box options are available upon subscribing:
  • Fitness/Original Box
  • Weight Loss Box

Each box typically includes 4-5 items plus a lifestyle bonus item. Inside this box, I discovered:
  • Quest Protein Powder (peanut butter flavor)
  • Yerba Prima Daily Fiber Formula
  • Movit Energy Gummies (citrus flavor)
  • Mediterra Bar (sundried tomato/basil flavor)
  • Earth's Care Anti-Itch Cream (Lifestyle Bonus)

Quest Bars are like my favorite thing ever....so when I opened this box to find not one but TWO samples of their protein powder, I was overjoyed! This stuff is good, y'all! I loved the flavor and the texture! Quest Protein Powder won my "box favorite" award. Ok, maybe I just made that part up, but this was honestly my favorite item from this box!

This Mediterra bar came with me to work to eat as an afternoon snack and I have to say, it was...interesting. Don't get me wrong, I did like the taste, but I'm used to a sweeter version in a snack bar. Again, I liked it...but it wasn't my favorite item from this box.

Movit Energy Gummies helped fuel my 10 mile run last Saturday! I love that they have ingredients like CoQ10 and Folic Acid! The taste and texture was nice as well.

My favorite part of the Movit Gummes was the scripture located on the back of the package! I thought that was a nice touch! :)

I haven't had a need for the anti-itch cream yet, but it's packaging says it works with poison ivy, sunburns, and minor cuts/scrapes. The smell isn't strong at all, either. This will be nice to have on hand if I ever need it! 

The one item I didn't test from the box was the Fiber Plus Powder because...well, I just haven't had a need for it if you want me to be honest! :)  I do think it's interesting that it's slightly sweetened with stevia and not artificial sweeteners!

Now, here's my favorite part of a Bulu Box subscription. REALLY like something you found inside one of your monthly boxes? Well, Bulu has an online store where you can purchase full sized items for a reasonable price! I've done this a couple of times with a few items and it was super easy to use!

Also, subscribers can take a sample survey about the samples inside their boxes each month in exchange for 10 rewards points each - which totals 50 rewards points! Every 50 points is like having $5 to spend in the online store! 

Interested in received a Bulu Box subscription of your own? Click here and use code SWEATPINK for 50% off a 3, 6, or 12 month subscription!

Disclaimer: As a Sweat Pink Ambassador, I received this Bulu Box for review, free of charge. All opinions stated are my own.

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