Category Archives: Fun Fitness Facts

Recipe and a Round-Up

Sometimes, I love sweets. I mean really love them.  Lately, I’ve been craving cupcakes.  Not a likely craving for me though.  As a self-proclaimed “Cookie Monster”, cake just doesn’t do it for me.  However, after seeing a cupcake “Throwdown with Bobby Flay” and watching unlimited episodes of “Cake Boss” and “DC Cupcakes”, my sweet tooth was raging. 

Thanks to one of my favorite blogs, “Eat Live Run”, I was able to put together a delicious, and perfectly portioned way to settle my sweet tooth:

Two Bite Mini Cakes

  • 1 cup of flour
  • 3/4 cup of sugar (you could use splenda)
  • 1 cup of milk (I used vanilla soy milk and it was great!)
  • 1/3 cup of vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Combine: sugar, milk, oil and vanilla.  In another bowl, combine: flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda.  Add dry ingredients to wet slowly. Use the mini muffin tins!  Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. 

Super Simple Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 stick of room temp butter
  • 1/2 stick of butter flavored Crisco
  • 3 – 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1.5 tsp of vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp milk

Cream the butter, Crisco, and vanilla together.  Add sugar one cup at a time.   Add milk last.

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I don’t have a fancy schmancy cake decorator, so I used a large Ziploc bag, put the icing into it, cut the tip and went to town.  It’s a little more rustic, but its still nicer than just spreading 🙂

 

The Round UP

Here’s some Sunday afternoon reading about some recent issues, fun health info, and recipes I made or want to try:

The Twinkie Diet Helps Professor Lose 27 lbs – CNN.com

Weekend DIYs (I love the pinecone turkeys) – CasaSugar

Fruit and Nut Energy Bites – Oh She Glows

Exercises to Prevent Injury – Runners World

You Want a Toy with That? – NYT

Falling for Warmth – Yoga Journal

How to Cure a Sugar Fiend – Food Renegade (***MUST READ***)

Should You be Running Barefoot? – Runners World

Have a wonderful Sunday! 

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The Windy City – A Halloween Race (13.1)

What do I consider a good time for Halloween???

A) A Big Bowl of Candy?

 

B) Carving Pumpkins?

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or C) Running a Half Marathon

If you guessed C, you would be correct.  Carbo-loading, restricting my intake of candy and alcohol, and running 13.1 miles seemed like more fun than bobbing for apples, drinking loads of pumpkin beer, and dressing like a bar maid…if you think I’m weird, you’re probably right 🙂

So on Saturday, Chris and I headed into the city (my first time to Chicago!).  We stayed at the Blackstone Renaissance, which was absolutely wonderful.  I highly recommend staying there if you’re headed to Chicago.

When we got there, we definitely needed to stretch our legs.  So we took a long walk along Lake Michigan.  I loved the views.  Sadly, even though I’m from Pittsburgh, I had never seen a Great Lake (except from a plane).

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Sears Tower aka Willis Tower…

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Down by the water.  I soon realized why it was called the “Windy City”.  My hair looked pretty bad the whole time. 

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We headed to Navy Pier.  But before we got there, we saw a giant noodle….yes a NOODLE!

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There was a warning…

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“Please don’t climb on the Big Noodle.”

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The Pier was chock full of some pretty fun things, if you’re 5 or have the heart of a 5 year old…as I do.  I loved the fun house mirrors that made me look taller.  Maybe I’ll install one in my bedroom 🙂

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Loved the view while we rested our feet.

Later on, before we SHOPPED, we headed to Millenium Park, home of a giant mirror like bean.  Interesting, and everyone was touching it.

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“Hello good lookin” ;)  Yep we did split a Venti Iced Soy Caramel Macchiato…gotta keep the energy up!

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The view from underneath the bean

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Soooo cool.  I love how these pictures turned out.

We had to walk about 12 blocks to get to Niketown, but I saw some of the most beautiful buildings…my favorite: The Chicago Tribune Building.

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Then I found a spot that I’ve been wanting to come to since I was 8!

The American Girl Place 🙂

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Then we did some shopping: we tried on Vibram 5 Fingers (I’m still not sure), found a Lucy Store (great workout gear, annoying salesperson), and tried the new Columbia Omni-heat jackets and gear….I was warm and snug as a bug in a rug!

Before our feast of Italian food and bread at Rosebud, we saw a Giant Spider hanging out on the side of building.  Only on Halloween.

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We were so exhausted, I think we inhaled our food, watch the PSU vs. Michigan game (which PSU won!), and fell fast asleep.  We dreamt of running shoes, perfect weather, and lots of water and porta potties along the race course hehe

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RACE MORNING!

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All dressed and ready to go…sleepy faces included.

Many people wore costumes, I just wore bats in my hair.  Disclaimer: wearing bats in your hair will not make you any faster.

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I was excited!!

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Good morning Chicago!  Let’s Race 🙂

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Although this picture doesn’t show it, there was a huge backup at the porta potties, so pre race relief was not in sight!

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Starting to get ready and antsy in the pantsy.

We started the race around 8 am and ran along the beautiful lakeshore trail.  I loved the race course.  My run was definitely one of my worst and I had the worst knee pain.  I’m rehabbing it now with lots of ice and Aleve.  But, if you’re looking for a fun Half Marathon, try the Chicago Monster!  Great hotel accommodations, great communication by the race staff (even with the overnight race course change) and wonderful volunteers. 

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A stiff but happy finisher 🙂

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Both of us were pretty sore and tired, but before we left Chicago for the day, we had to go to the Sears Tower!

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It’s known as the Willis Tower now because Willis Group Holdings, Ltd. leased more than 140,000 square feet of space on three floors in 2009.  So it was renamed “Willis Tower” in July of 2009. 

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We took a tour of the history of Chicago and the Sears Tower, along with a short video depicting the construction and history of the Sears Tower.  Then we climbed the 110 Stories on an elevator that went 26 feet per second.  My ears popped a few times on the way up!

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The top!

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It was so beautiful.  Good thing I didn’t have a heart attack in the elevator (a weird thing I’m afraid of).

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There are 4 different sky decks which are made of all glass that allows you to feel like you’re floating above the city.  SO COOL!

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We actually saw 2 couples get engaged at the top!

Afterward we got coffee at Dunkin, I LOVE DUNKIN, and I had a Fall Munchkin :)  A munchkin for a munchkin.  Chris had the full Fall Donut, I ate the donut hole, a match made in donut heaven 🙂

Considering we did run 13.1 miles that morning, we were still hungry, at least I was.  So we stopped at a hotel restaurant called Cafe 676.

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No one else was in the restaurant while we were, so we had the best seats.

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Even a view of Niketown!

But the best view came after we ordered:

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French toast with orange cream and granola.   Perfection!

 

I loved Chicago 🙂 and I can’t wait to go back!

 

Hope everyone else had a wonderful Halloween weekend and had their fill of candy and treats


Fall Workout Challenge

I definitely don’t lift enough.  I’m cardio-a-holic, and I’m not patient enough to do muscle conditioning.  But it’s important!  So this fall I’m challenging myself to do a 20 minute at home muscle conditioning workout 2 to 3 times a week!

Challenge: 20 minute at home muscle conditioning workout

Duration: 2-3 x week/4 weeks

I’m only continuing this challenge for 4 weeks because afterward I’m going to switch to different exercises.  Good to keep the muscles guessing 🙂

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My At Home Gym:

Total: $75

Compare to a gym membership: $39/month after 2 months you save yourself money!  Also, you could skip the jump rope and do jumping jacks or run in place (Save $5.99)  And anything you do with a kettlebell you can just a hand weight (Save $19.99)  So, you roll in right about $50…not bad 🙂

 

The Workout:

Click on the image and it will take you to a description of the exercise.

1) Bent Over Row – 10 reps / 3 sets

2) Alternating Lunges – 10 reps / 3 sets

Exercises 1 and 2 I combined.  So after 10 reps of bent over row I did 10 reps of alternating lunges.  I did this until I did 3 sets of each.

3) Bicep Curl with Calf Raise – 10 reps / 3 sets (I used the kettlebell) As you raise the weights come up on to your toes.  As you bring the weights down, lower your heels

4) Swing – Use kettlebell – 10 reps / 3 sets

 

Again, like above, I combined move 3 and 4.

5) Windmill – 8 reps on each side / 3 sets

 

6) Chest Press (with the resistance band) 12 reps / 3 sets

7) Squat and Row 12 reps / 3 sets

This time I combined 6 and 7

8) Hamstring Curl with Ball – 10 reps / 3 sets

9) Stability Ball Pass Crunch – 10 reps / 3 sets

I combined 8 and 9.

 

Last.. I jump roped and did jumping jacks for 4 minutes before and after (alternating 1 minute of each)

 

My first workout:

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I love the workout actually!  Alternating the moves gets my heart rate up enough to keep my motivated.  Sunday down and 1 more day to go this week 🙂

 

Want to join the challenge with me?  Let me know!


You’re From the Future

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On a Saturday, I got my bum up at 530 am to drive to a dairy farm.  Why???  To run a 10K of course…ON A DAIRY FARM!!!  All packed and ready to go, I ate my power breakfast (Nature’s Pride Nutty Oat bread with PB and Jelly with amazing Donut Shop coffee from The Coffee People) and jumped in the car with Tiff.  Neither one of us had been to Fair Oaks Farms, but how hard could it be to get there????

HARD!  Not only did we experience downpours in the dark driving there, but then we got lost and drove around for an extra 40 minutes.  Race start was 8 am.  By the time we pulled into Fair Oaks, the clock of my SUV read “7:57 am”  …. major fail.  Guess what though.  We crossed the time zone.  It was actually “6:57am”  and we were 1 hour early.  PERFECT! 

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The weather wasn’t looking too promising, but we were optimistic.  The lady at check-in had a pretty good laugh with us about our cross over in time zones.  She giggled and then said “Oh you’re from the future”.  I thought “Yep, we already experienced this hour and it wasn’t too bad :)”.

After getting some coffee and exploring our after race eats at the cafe on site, we went back to car to pin on our numbers, layer up, and head to the start line.

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LOOK!!!  A break in the clouds.  And yes, we did have partly cloudy skies the entire 10K. 

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All decked out and ready to go, we headed to the start.  1 mile in, the clouds broke enough to reveal the prettiest rainbow.  I knew it was going to be a good race.  And it was.  I’m not sure of my exact time yet, but I’ll post it when it comes up.  There were parts of the race that went into trails and grass (we were on a dairy farm for goodness sakes).

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It was the perfect fall morning. 

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Happy finishers with the cow :)  We definitely were a little wind blown.

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Once we got ourselves stretched out, we went over to the cafe again.  I wanted to take home some cheese!  What did I get???  Veggie Havarti, sooo yummy!  I’ll definitely be coming back for more.  They had the most amazing cheddar too. 

What kind of swag does one get for a dairy farm race???  HONEY MILK!

DSC00764It had an outrageous amount of protein – 20g for 150 kcal in the chocolate.   Also, the calcium in it was 60% of your Daily Value.  Real milk has 30%.  It was ok.  I looked up the price for it: 12 pack for $35.  Why not just have a greek yogurt?  But it was fun, and I took 3 of them at the end of the race.  Might as well bump up my calcium and protein intake this week by adding it to my smoothies.

What else did we get?

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Well a cow bell medal of course!  🙂

 

POST RACE FUEL:

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Cheesy toasted bread with Tomato Bisque.  Great for a fall day. 

 

Hope everyone is enjoying their weekend and doing a few fun things.  Are you running any races soon???


Sweat it Out

So I wanted to write a post last night, but I was way too exhausted.  I apologize.

Dinner was late but fantastic!  Plus I had company for dinner which made everything that much better!

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I went to heat up the grill to make grilled shrimp tacos but I waited till about 7:45 to do so…look how dark it already is!!  Goodbye long days of summer, I’ll miss you 😦

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Having a light on the back patio definitely helps 🙂

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So the grill got fired up!  I love my little Weber grill, perfect size for me.  I can comfortably cook for four people at one time.

The shrimp were marinated in 1/2 cup Franks Red Hot, 1/4 cup oil (I used canola), 1.5 tsp of chili powder and a little black pepper for 2 hours.

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Onto the grill you go little ones!

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Flip ‘em once and watch them curl.  When they curl up, you know they’re done.

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Plate em and serve 🙂

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Serve with you favorite toppings: mine include avocado, diced onion, and black beans.

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1 can of drained and rinsed black beans and 1 cup of your favorite salsa.  Mix together in a microwaveable bowl.  Nuke for 3 –4 minutes.  EAT! nom nom nom

(my roommate Jess taught me this and I’ve been hooked ever since, thanks GIRL!).

We gobbled up our dinner too quick for a picture.  Sorry!  They were that good 🙂

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Then this morning I decided to go to Hot Yoga.   I’ve heard about this form of yoga for awhile, but was a little apprehensive.  I mean, who in their right mind???, would want to sit in a room heated to 90 + degrees and do yoga?  Didn’t make sense.  But, I try not to judge until I try something, so I went.

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So I put on my skimmpiest form of workout gear I had (*gasp*), grabbed my mat, and took off! 

I have an ad from an old Runner’s World Magazine and it says “Sweat More, Negativity has a way of clogging your pores.”

I thought about this as I got deeper into downward dog, as I flexed my body into positions I never thought were possible, and as I slid  along my yoga mat.  I LOVED IT!  Hot yoga is my new crack.

So when I got home, I had to shower!  Immediately!  Then I needed to eat and get a green monster in me asap.

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I love how avocado tastes on a salad!

My green monster is a chocolate one, so don’t be freaked out by the color.  This got delivered on Monday, so my Green Monsters have had two greens in them for few days:

DSC00635So many good things in it!

If you like this stuff but find it way too expensive, check out Amazon.com.   I got each canister of GreenSuperFood for almost half off plus I got free shipping.   BOGO?!?!

 

Well, I’m off!  Have a wonderful Thursday!  If you’re a Grey’s Anatomy Fan or Private Practice fan, tune in tonight….it returns :)  Don’t expect a peep (or tweet) out of me between 9 and 11.  I don’t like to be bothered during my shows 🙂

***May you drool over this photo till 9pm tonight….


Hit Reboot

What is it about running?

Why does it make you feel like superwoman?

Why does it have such healing powers?

Why do my stress levels dramatically decrease after a run?

I cannot answer these questions for you but my run today (with a great running buddy) was just what the doctor ordered!

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I had half of a PB cookie larabar to fuel me for the run (I might attribute the amazingness of my run to the power of the larabar!).  Breakfast (Apples for Breakfast) was a long time before.

I laced up and I was ready to go…all I needed was my running buddy (who was running a little late, haha, no pun intended)

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It’s definitely fall (look at the leaves that have fallen) even though we are going to see 95 degree weather on Tuesday!!!??? 😮

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4.1 miles in ~38 minutes.

Not bad considering I had to walk a little bit because I thought I was going to pee myself.  Too much pre-hydration!

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After more studying (this exam will be over tomorrow morning, thank goodness) I made a delicious dinner…Spaghetti Squash!

It was my first adventure with it, but I was confident that I could pull it off.  And I did!

Herbed Spaghetti Squash

Poke holes in it with a skewer and place in baking sheet.  Bake for 1 hr at 375.

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Slice the squash length wise and scrape out the seeds with a spoon (you’ll probably start to see how the spaghetti squash got its name at this point)

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Scrape the meat of the squash with a fork to get the stringy consistency of spaghetti.  DSC00592

Melt 2 Tbsp of butter  with 2 tsp of Italian Seasonings and 1/2 tsp of garlic powder.  Mix in scraped squash.  Saute for a few minutes until all the squash is coated in the  butter mixture.

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Serve with your favorite salad and top with parm or mozzarella cheese (will you hold it against me if I say that I used both?!?)  What can I say, with cheese, Go Big or Go Home!

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I made a salad with mixed greens, spinach, feta, and sliced almonds.  I topped it with balsamic. Yummy 🙂

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Hope everyone had a lovely weekend!  Mine was study packed but I’m looking forward to the weekend of October 8th…I get to go home and go the Penn State vs. Illinois game for homecoming 🙂  Nothing could make me happier:  my family, my home, and Penn State Football!

Go State!

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Have you noticed my small obsession with Penn State?  I bleed blue and white, I can’t help it.

Quote to leave you with:

“Running is a big question mark that’s there each and every day. It asks you, ‘Are you going to be a wimp or are you going to be strong today?'” –Peter Maher


I’m Stressed.

How do you deal with stress? How do you keep yourself from pulling your hair out or throwing your notebook across the room?  How do you stay calm when everything in your being is telling you to explode?

Today I was confronted with this issue.  Here’s the mental picture that I kept in my head the whole day…

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This is from the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas.  Ohhhh goodbye stress, hello Pina Colodas 🙂

Needless to say that this location and a vacation is beyond my reach at this point.  So how do I reduce my stress levels without checking out for a week?

Good thing I read my Fitness Magazine this month!

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Here are a few statistics and facts from this article:

  • 75% of Americans feel stressed out
  • Half eat unhealthfully because of it (I just seem to lose my appetite…same thing)
  • 47% can’t sleep because of it
  • 1 in 3 develop a depression because of it

WOW! 

Ok, so we seriously need to figure out how to cope with this crazy amount of stress.  I was reading up on symptoms of stress and here is what I got:

  • Digestive Issues
  • Sleep Problems
  • Raised Blood Pressure
  • Hyperactivity
  • Drinking or smoking more…

So the last one is where I stopped and looked at the beer I was consuming because I was having a stressful day…hmmm.  At least I haven’t started smoking. 

The article goes on and says that many people tell you just take a deep breath, or take a bath, or watch a comedy.  Usually I just get antsy when I take a bath, my breath turns into hyperventilation, and I can never seem to understand why these people are laughing because there are serious problems to deal with in the world!  Seriously PEOPLE!! 

Obviously, this is not the solution.  Fitness Magazine finally gave me the reason why teaching cycling, a long run, and an hour of yoga soothe me:  Stress is physical, so you need something physical to calm it.  Period

Recent studies have seen that exercise morphs the brain so that you respond to stress differently than those who don’t exercise.  This says that a workout may actually remodel the brain to be more resistant to stress! 

Here’s the clincher!  You have to be consistent.  As soon as you stop, your reaction to stress returns and you’re back to square one.  Does this give you just one more reason to stick with your marathon training???  YES!

Here is what have I found to be helpful during times of stress (not all include exercise)

Cooking/Baking

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Working Out

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Being with Friends and Family

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So start to think now what makes you feel better after a tough day. 

What calms your stress?  LET ME KNOW!!! We all can benefit from new ideas 🙂

 

Quote to leave you with:

Some of the secret joys of living are not found by rushing from point A to point B, but by inventing some imaginary letters along the way.  ~Douglas Pagels

 

Have a wonderful weekend, and do something that helps you to de-stress.