Thursday, May 23, 2019

Relay for Life 2019

Our annual Relay for Life took place last weekend and I'm 100% serious when I say that I'm still riding that high from our event! Apart from a Relay several years back (when McAlister's was there with the tea), this was seriously one of my top favorite Relay events for me!

A little back story in case you're wondering what in the world I'm talking about - I'm an oncology nurse, I work with patient's who are receiving radiation. I absolutely love what I do and love working with cancer patients. When I transitioned in this department about 12 years ago, my boss introduced me to the idea of Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society and asked me to join their team. After attending one relay event, I cried like a baby and was hooked!! I now sit on the event leadership team and at this year's relay, I was in charge of making sure the activities and games took place in a timely manner!


I also twisted my friend Kim's arm and encouraged her to join the committee with us to be my activities co-lead! We had SO much fun this year!


The Louisiana Ghostbuster's team picks one relay in the state of Louisiana each year to attend and fund raise for. They literally had the gear, the sirens, and the whole 9 yards! It was so cool to see and a huge hit with the kids!


My hospital team! :)


Our band this year was phenomenal. I visited another relay last year where I heard them play and loved them! I'm so glad we were able to snag Johnny Earthquake and the Moondogs this year!


About half an hour before this aired, I was told that I was going on the news. (Basically it was a game of "not it"! Thanks, guys!) Thankfully, it all went ok. Although I don't mind public speaking, live things still make me a bit nervous!


Right at 7 p.m., our event kicked off with opening ceremonies and the survivor lap!


A new addition this year was the confetti poppers for the survivor lap. This was yet another idea we saw while visiting a local relay this year and loved it!


As official "activities chair", that meant we also had the opportunity to taste test all of the yummy goodies for the sweet off!

Our theme this year was the "Colors of Cancer" where we encouraged each team to pick a diagnosis/cancer they've been affected by and go with that cancer's color. A lot of teams (our hospital team included) decided to go with a multi-color approach to support all of the different cancer diagnoses out there.


The above dessert was the winner! That sugar cookie was seriously the bomb.com. I don't even know if that's a phrase anymore, but I'm using it anyway. 

The cake/icing was delicious, too...and the spoons/forks they provided were also painted to match their theme! 


This team's theme was around the color teal because their mom passed away from cervical cancer. 

We had probably 15 desserts to taste. Poor things, right?


We also had a photo booth there with a personalized backdrop (from a green screen). We also each received a 4x6 printed photo and a digital version as well. Pretty snazzy!

I'm glad we stopped for a picture when we did because we were so busy, we never saw the photo booth again! 


At 9 p.m., all of the generators and lights were turned off and we took a few moments during the luminaria ceremony to honor our survivors and those who've lost their battle with cancer. My grandfather (pictured on the bags above) lost his battle with lung cancer my senior year in high school.


This is truly a reverent and personal time and one of my favorites of the night.


Another addition this year was the inclusion of fireworks after the luminaria ceremony. They were SO neat to see and the show was pretty great, too!


Brayden loved the fireworks!!


At the end of the night, we not only reached our goal, we actually exceeded our goal by $10,000!! As I mentioned,  this event was one of my favorites ever and I loved how everything/everyone came together to fight this terrible disease we call cancer!


Until next year... :)

Have you ever participated in a Relay for Life event? If so, what was your favorite part of the evening?

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Group Run or Solo Run?

When I first became a runner (about 10 years ago), I was scared. Scared of running long distances, scared of crowds, scared of running alone, scared of running in groups - the fear of the unknown was real here, y'all! Plus, I'm a huge chicken in general so yea...


In my race planning process though, I knew that I likely wouldn't be able to motivate myself enough to train for my very first half marathon on my own, so I went WAY out of my comfort zone (I mean WAY) and joined a local running group. I still remember those first few group runs - I was too shy to talk to anyone and everyone seemed as if they had already formed their own groups. So, I would show up every Saturday morning, meet up with the large group, then when everyone would break off for their runs, I would run it solo. (I don't want it to sound like I didn't speak to a single person there. My coaches were wonderful and I made "friends" while there, but I just didn't have anyone to run my distances with.)


It took an entire five or six months of this process before I started being invited to run with a group - I finally made real friends there and I'm so very glad I stuck it out. By the next season of our running group, I was no longer a solo runner, but I had my group and it was wonderful! This went on for another 8 years and it was seriously one of my favorite times of my life!

Sadly, our running group disbanded a couple of years ago and although some tried to stick together and run for a while, it definitely began to fizzle out. Sad times.


Now, I have my little running buddy (Brayden) who loves to go for a run with me as well as Orangetheory which is definitely more of that group type setting that I love. As a people person (I'm a nurse and love working with people), I crave that group type atmosphere and I'm so glad that Orangetheory gives that to me.  My oh my what a change from the shy person 10 years ago who didn't want to step foot out of her front door because she was scared!

So, do I consider myself a group runner or a solo runner? Maybe a little of both! :)

What about you? Do you prefer group running or solo running? Today, I'm also linking up with KookyRunner and Zenaida for Tuesday Topics! 

Friday, May 17, 2019

My Experience With the FASTer Way to Fat Loss Program

When I began the FASTer Way to Fat Loss program at the end of January, I knew I would be embarking on a program that would help me lose weight and feel better. What I didn't plan on was all the added benefits and bonuses that would come along the way!


What is the FASTer Way, you might ask? Well, it's a 7 week program (including prep week) where you are connected with a certified coach who assists with your individualized macro goals. The program also includes workouts of varying degrees as well as a daily "fasting" window. The best part about this program is it allows you to eat to your likes and what works best for you. It also allows you to eat carbs and is totally a do-able lifestyle for me.

Wow...does that sound overwhelming and difficult to process? I promise you, it's not. This program does take a little pre-planning, yes - but once week 2 rolled around, it almost came like second nature. Having a coach along every step of the way helped tremendously, too!

My initial program began at the end of January and carried through to the beginning of March. After this program was complete, I re-joined as a returning client for an additional 6-7 weeks which ended in the middle of April.

Within the first 6 week program, I lost 4.5 inches and 10 pounds. I also began sleeping better and noticed better performance times in my running as well as at Orangetheory. We even managed a Disney trip in there where I didn't follow the program at all because our meal plan was set and in place long before I decided to do this program. Please note: I didn't go to Disney World and eat all the cupcakes. I did indulge on a daily basis in a sweet, but I didn't go overboard. :)

My sleep improved tremendously and I also noticed that I had a TON of extra energy!

During the 2nd program as a returning client, I was excited to return and attempt a full cycle that didn't include a vacation. At first, I was a little iffy about the benefits of the returning client round but now that it's complete, I'm definitely glad I did it. Having the option of continuing to work with a coach and really get the basis of the program down did a world of good for me. This won't be the same in every case but for me, I needed that additional time to really cement this lifestyle into my brain. Also, please note - while I did partake in a couple of Faster Way workouts here and there, I mostly stuck to Orangetheory and long runs on the weekends.

It was during this second round where several non-scale victories took place:



I somehow managed 2 PR's in the same weekend in both the 5K and 10K distances. Both PR's were from races before I had Brayden which shocked me completely! I've never run this fast in my life!


My HDL or "good cholesterol" improved and it's been in the "red zone" for at least 2 years now...


This was something  I wasn't counting on and could not have been more shocked when I saw my results!


Marathon Month also took place at Orangetheory in April and I somehow managed to place first in my age group (Half Women's 30-39 in case you can't make out the image above).


Additionally, I was also able to purchase shorts in a size I haven't ever fit in as far as I can remember!

I also lost 4 additional pounds during this round and an additional 7.5 inches.

In total since January, that's 14 pounds down and 12 inches lost! 


If you came here looking for before and afters well, sorry...I don't have those. What I can tell you is that I carry most of my weight around my mid-section (always have) and while that is currently shrinking, it still needs more work.

Will I continue with the FASTer Way on my own? Absolutely. After having completed 2 rounds, I definitely feel as if I have the tools to carry me through and hopefully the amazing results will continue!

Interested in joining in the next round? Well, you're in luck because my friend and coach Jen is starting another round in just a few weeks. If you have any questions at all, please don't hesitate to ask!

Although this post does contain affiliate links, I believe in this program 100% and would tell anyone the same things mentioned above, affiliate or not. :)

Have a fabulous weekend, friends!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

How Running Has Changed Me

This January marks 10 years since I've been a runner. That seems like such a long time but for me, it's gone by in the blink of an eye! This running thing and I have had so many amazing adventures along the way, it's definitely safe to say that it has helped shape and mold who I am today.


Running has helped me better appreciate the simple things

A gorgeous sunrise...a beautiful sunset...I've seen a lot of them thanks to running. Surrounded by nature on a summer afternoon, the sounds of crickets and shoes hitting the pavement...my favorite. Running with my little guy in the stroller in front of me...one of the best things in the world. How about a pain free run? Yep, those are appreciated too. The gift of the ability to run? Yes and yes! From the PR's and small victories to the injuries and low points...all of these moments can been appreciated because of running.

Running helps me clear my mind

If there's a lot going on in my life, I can always tell if going for a run will help "fix" it. I've heard other runners talk about "saving the world" while out for a run and I totally get it - there's just something about a good run where you can think through and sort out your troubles. It almost always seems better in the end. Running definitely helped me deal and cope with the decline in health and loss of my grandfather and I'm so grateful I had running to lean on. (My family, too...but you get what I'm saying.)  

Running has led me to meet some amazing people

My running group members whom I miss dearly - we definitely formed a special bond and I love seeing my friends out and about. A lot have joined Orangetheory, so it's fun running into them there. During the 8 years spent with GoRun, I definitely formed some bonds and friendships that I'll cherish forever!


Above all else, running has taught me patience, helped me grow as a person, and taught me to better appreciate the gift of life itself. I am grateful, so very grateful. 

Today, I'm also linking up with KookyRunner and Zenaida for Tuesday Topics!

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Three Things for Tuesday

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I have several blog posts planned over the next few weeks (including a FASTer Way To Fat Loss update) but for now, here's a few things that have been going on over in our little corner of the world...

#1 Lost SD Card

What the heck? How does one even lose an SD card? Well, I did. I've searched my house high and low and although I know Princess Half Marathon Weekend videos were promised, I sadly no longer have any footage from the Expo or 10K. Sad. Times. I was waiting on putting the footage together, hoping the SD card would magically appear somewhere, but it hasn't. So, footage from the Princess Half Marathon weekend will begin on my YouTube channel, starting after the 10K and the Joyful Miles Meetup and will continue with the Princess Half Marathon itself. Stay tuned for that coming soon!


#2 Alaska

Yes, we are soon to return to Alaska and I'm super excited! Jason's dad expressed his desire to visit Alaska and wanted to plan a family trip, so here we are! Although we will be on Royal Caribbean this time instead of Disney, we are excited to visit once again and see a few new sights. This will also be Brayden's first time on a cruise ship, so we are planning on taking things easy and just enjoying our time. Included in our list of excursions are a musher's camp as well as a whale watching excursion, neither of which we got to experience on our last Alaskan cruise. Brayden should also be fully potty trained by that point (except at night), so he might be able to spend some time in the kids club while on the ship. I know he will love it! If not, we plan to just relax and enjoy our cruise!


#3 Potty Training

Speaking of potty training, y'all...I heard "all the things" about potty training and read up on all the methods...and it seriously continues to amaze me how different every kid is. We spent the majority of our spring break week working on potty training. Brayden is an only child and he's a boy (clearly...hah), so we decided to wait until he actually turned 3 before attempting to potty train. He'd seen the kids in his class use the potty, so I know that was motivation for him, and he literally picked it right up. The first two days took some adjusting, but after a little motivational sticker chart, he had it going on. We pretty much put him in "big boy pants" and skipped the pull-ups all together. My mind is seriously blown at how well he took to it. Parenting can be so hard in general, it's nice when "something" goes your way! With a few random messes here and there, I'd say this kid has it pretty down pat!

So, that's just a little update on our lives over here! I hope you are all doing well! "See" you real soon!

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

3 Year Toddler Update

The fastest three years of my life have come and gone! I can't quite believe it, but my little squishy baby is now a 3 year old toddler!


Clothing: 2T and 3T on top and mostly 3T on bottom, although some 2T's still fit. He's just SO tall!
Diapers: Size 5...and not long after he turned 3, we started officially potty training. It's actually going remarkably well (he's wearing "big boy underwear" 90% of the time)...but more on that later!
Shoes: Size 7 and some 8's
Weight: 36 pounds (estimated)
Height: 38 inches (estimated)

Over the past 6 months, I've seen even more growth in Brayden. Where he used to be a little shy and reserved, he's more bold and willing to speak out now. His knowledge base has also grown and he remembers things I can't even fathom...it seriously blows my mind sometimes!


He still wants Madalynn to be his BFF, but she's not too sure of him. They do continue to share their love of food, though. Brayden did hit a "picky" eater phase and the thing I absolutely cannot get him to eat are vegetables. I do try to hide them in dishes which works out well but ya'll, this is seriously one of our biggest struggles. Other than that, some of his favorites include pizza, fruit, tacos, chicken nuggets, french fries, "orange" fries (aka sweet potato fries), chips, grilled cheese sandwiches, cereal, waffles, grilled chicken, spaghetti, and I'm sure I'm forgetting something because this kid does love to eat!


I always wondered if he would get "attached" to an object like a lovely or a stuffed animal and it has officially happened! As an infant and early toddler, he had two wubba-nubs...red dog and a giraffe. Well, after he was too big for the pacifier parts, we cut them out and let him just hang onto the stuffed animals. He would carry them everywhere he went if I let him, but they get lost too easily, so he only has them at night.


Christmas was so magical this year. Seeing the sights and sounds through Brayden's eyes was truly incredible and definitely my favorite Christmas with him thus far.


He loved loved loved the Grinch. That included watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas, meeting Mr. Grinch after our church Christmas production, listening to the music, etc.


Funny (and true) story - he was super hesitant about Santa this year. After I told him that Santa was friends with Mr. Grinch, he had no problem taking a picture with him. Whoops. I mean, it's kinda true...


One of my favorite memories (and will be forever) was how excited he got over the "Grinch cakes" at IHOP. They offered a green Grinch pancake dish this year and Brayden seriously talked about it for weeks!


From then on, every pancake became a "Grinch cake"...silly boy!


Visiting the local park is still a favorite. He loves anything with swings and slides!


Also, ride on toys have become a recent thing around here!  He absolutely loves them!

He also still loves to go on a run with momma. Sprint workouts are his favorite because we get to run fast!

As any normal toddler, temper tantrums are still there. He gets super frustrated if he can't do something himself, but is easily redirect-able in the end. 


At the end of February, we took Brayden on his third trip to Walt Disney World and we had a BLAST! This was by far my favorite trip of them all! He did great on the plane ride there and loved meeting the characters.


I'm seriously awed at the things he still remembers about Disney World. His favorite parts of the trip included the elevators, riding the bus, riding the boat/monorail, and playing with the trash cans. Gross.

However, he still to this day talks about how he saw bunny rabbits and ducks in Disney World, and riding the boats/monorail. His memory blows my mind!


As per tradition, he also had a haircut on our trip and I LOVE it!!


Mickey was a huge hit this time, too!

Some of his favorite shows include the movie Cars, Puppy Dog Pals (still), Mickey and the Roadster Racers, and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Lighting McQueen (aka "Bobby Ween") has been the latest favorite over here!  He also still loves YouTube Kids but we definitely limit his time there.


One of Brayden's favorite rides at Disney World was the Carousel. This little dog carousel (as shown above) is the closest I can get to a true carousel at home, so I take him to the mall on the occasion for a ride. So fun!

Brayden loves going to school and playing with his friends! He can also now count to 30, knows his ABC's, has several of the books we read at night memorized, and he knows the lyrics to several songs. He's also memorized several scriptures which makes this momma's heart so happy. The pledge to the American flag is also something he learned which is so cute to hear! Every single day, he amazes me with how quickly he is developing and growing!

I absolutely love seeing his personality come through! He is loves to laugh at himself and will definitely be goofball like Jason, I can see it already!


...and just like that, we have a big three year old!


Happy 3 years, Brayden! I hope the next year is just as much fun as the last!

Thanks for following along in our journey! I so appreciate each and every one of you!

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