Monthly Archives: March 2011

First Strides Starts This Week

In my continued effort to lose weight and get in shape I registered for First Strides which begins all over the Lehigh Valley this week. I’ll be at the Sand Island sessions, which start this Thursday.

Basically First Strides is a running program for women that is sponsored by  Lehigh Valley Hospital, Aardvark Sports Shop (Bethlehem), and The Finish Line Running Store (Emmaus). I participated two years ago and I’m determined to get back into running again so I joined up again this year.

Basically you meet up with a swarm of other women to run, in my case at Sand Island (one of my favorite running spots), each week. After a few weeks you break out into groups that run at a similar pace. Groups have names like Jaguars, Giselle’s, even Jack Rabbits. If there was a turtle group that would have been perfect for me. In all seriousness though it is a great way to meet people with similar goals and challenges.

But in all seriousness this is perfect for first timers and even experienced runners, especially if you need some motivation. You follow a program that gradually builds  in time and speed each week, switching between slow and fast intervals. Each week the fast intervals gets longer and the slow intervals gets longer. For newbies or people like me who are coming off of a hiatus you can walk the slow interval, and run the fast interval. If you are already running or are somewhat in shape you can run both intervals, slow run and fast run. The first week the run intervals are only ONE MINUTE long. Seriously, you can do this. Each week there is also homework, at first two additional runs before the next meeting, eventually three additional runs.  By the end of the 12 week program you are ready to run a 5K. For many in the group this will be a first 5K. It was mine 2 years ago and I survived (barely). And not because they didn’t prepare me, but because I didn’t always keep up with my homework. Now I know better and I WILL keep up with the homework this time.

You can even enter the program intervals into Runkeeper to help you with your homework runs. Hopefully you picked up the pro app when it was free in January. If not, it is worth every penny. The free app is also good, try it first and if you like it get the pro version.

There is still time to register on-line. Go to the First Strides homepage and click on the location you want to sign up for and then go to the registration area. They’ll ask if you want to join Active.com, unless you are really interested, skip that part, it costs extra and is not required for joining First Strides.

I also plan to work in a few P90X routines each week because I did notice running was much easier last summer when I was on the program. I still need to find my motivation again, I’ve been extra lazy in the morning lately, only getting in about 2 P90X workouts a week.

I also tend to think I can eat a lot more (more than burning off with exercise) when I’m active so I’ll also be on the weight watchers program during all of this to keep me in line. I managed to lose 3.2 lbs at my 2nd check-in. Woo-hoo. I’m hoping to earn my first 5 lb gold star this week. Fingers crossed – I was kind of bad this weekend – I’ve burned through my extra weekly points. I must say that I like the points plus program much better – I’m eating lots of fruits and vegetables instead of crappy pre-packaged foods with artificial ingredients just to make point calculations easy and points low.

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Ack! A Wrinkle!

The other morning I woke up looking like Yoda. Well actually, not that many wrinkles, but two, one on each side of the bridge between my eyebrows. And these are not superficial wrinkles, these are fairly deep.

Botox is NOT an option for me. I depend to much on my animated expressions. Especially the eyebrow furrow and the eye roll. Actually, it’s surprising this has not happened sooner. I don’t necessarily care if other’s see it, but I don’t like looking at it. I have been lucky to make it to my grand age of 37 without grays or wrinkles…looks like the wrinkle bit is coming to a close. I credit my lack of grays to my grandmother’s genes, and my skin…well…I don’t credit my genes for that…it probably has more to do with the fact that I started using Oil of Olay when I was 11 and I have been obsessed with anti-aging moisturizers ever since. Oh and sunscreen. I have freckles year round, so to keep them in check I wear SPF 50 sunscreen on my face. And sunglasses. My entire family is like vampires, none of us can be outside without sunglasses, even the house is dimly lit.

So why am I bothering you with all of this? I need your help. I need to find a new wrinkle cream to help me smooth this crap out. Here are my requirements and preferences in order of importance:

Must haves:

  1. Must work (at least to some extent, and not just as a smoother, must  prevent further damage, would be nice if it could reverse some existing damage)
  2. Must not be tested on animals
  3. Must be all natural

Must not have:

  1. Nasty ingredients like petrochemicals, lanolin

Would be nice if:

  1. Ingredients are all natural
  2. Organic
  3. Locally available
  4. Locally made
  5. Vegan (I can live with bee products if it really works, but I don’t want to rub a placenta on my face)
  6. Not crazy expensive. I would consider $75 bucks for something that only lasts a month crazy expensive. $75 for something that lasts 6 months…I can deal with that.
  7. It would be great if it also worked as an eye cream.

Currently for an all over moisturizer I use a product called Amurie Rejuventation Moisturizer. It is locally distributed (Northampton PA) and I get it through the Lehigh Valley Food Coop (full disclosure, I am a shareholder and board member). It is also all natural, and it works great as an all over moisturizer. But it is not a targeted wrinkle cream.

If you have anything that you have actually used and love, share it here. If you in anyway represent the product, that is fine, please comment, but be up-front that you represent the product so your comments can be taken in context.

Looking forward to hearing your suggestions!

A Motley Crew

No, that’s not a misspelling. I really mean a roughly assembled group of characters, not a 80’s hair band. I’ve somehow managed to become part of an amazing motley crew of local bloggers who have been nominated to participate in The Morning Call’s Best Blogs of the Lehigh Valley contest. (You can also click on the picture to go to the contest)

Yes…this is another contest that involves registering and voting…daily (helpful hint: use something other than Internet Explorer, Chrome worked well for me). So I’m hoping for one of two things. One, that everyone manages to get through the registration process and votes for us daily, or two, that no one bothers and only members of my crew vote, guaranteeing a win for all of us!

I’m fairly certain that I’m the newest of the bunch, since I just started blogging this year, so it really surprised me when I was invited by Laini of THE Little Pocket Guide of Bethlehem…and that other town to the east…oh yeah, Easton…to join The Lehigh Valley Independent Media group and become part of this organized chaos. I also believe I have the stiffest competition, I am in the same category as The Junk Drawer which is an honor, since its author, Kathy Frederick, was one of my inspirations for blogging in the first place. In the “humor” category no less. Ack!

Here are our recommendations, I’d love for you to vote for all of us, but at a minimum I ask that you consider supporting your favorite INDEPENDENT bloggers, not the corporate blogs. Nothing against corporate blogs, they have their place and I’m a fan of many of them, but I feel this is a local contest where the independents should reign.

Don’t forget! You can vote every day! And you can find links to these fine blogs in my blog roll to the right.

Coming out of hibernation early

I always fall into a funk sometime in January and it generally lasts until about April when the days start getting noticeably longer and the weather gets milder. It’s probably seasonal affective disorder, but since I’ve never been diagnosed, I will just call it hibernation for now. I become extremely inactive, finding it hard to motivate myself to do much of anything but lay on the couch before and after work. But unlike bears…I eat throughout my hibernation. It’s a bad combination.

Well, this relatively milder weather has me thinking its time to come out early. Plus I really feel like crap. Every year I try to combat it in January, set up a plan to get out and exercise. I even tried blogging about this year to keep me motivated. I did OK in January, watched what I ate, even exercised a little, and I lost 10 lbs. Then the effect of the cold and the dark hit me hard. It has a power over me. The 10 pounds also returned.

I don’t mind it in December because of all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, and really it’s not usually unbearably cold until maybe the very last week of December or the beginning of January. I can’t even get to the gym because I don’t even want to go out in the frigid tundra to get in the car and drive there. But it really is more than the cold. It really feels like there is a dark cloud o’funk (not the good Parliament kind of funk, the ugly depressing kind) over my head at this time of year.

But now, it’s not just the pounds that came back, it’s the pain. My back, neck and shoulder pain that P90X all but cured is returning. It’s time.

I’ve also signed up for Weight Watchers and it starts Thursday. I’m lucky that we have a “at work” program so there is no excuse for not going, it’s right there, no driving out in the cold. And the new points plus program sounds like what I was looking for, something that motivates me to make better choices in the quality of my food, rather than directing me toward pre-packaged, artificially sweetened, fake food choices that don’t taste good.

I’ll also be signing up for First Strides, a running program for women that I joined two years ago. I skipped last year because I was completing my capstone for my MBA and it was just too much. Well, as of the end of this month, I’ll be back. I plan on devoting an entire post on this in the next few days or so…stay tuned.

And also Thursday, tomorrow, I’ll be back on P90X. It’s a great program and while it is really hard it does greatly improve your fitness if you “bring it.” This is not a 10 minute three times a week “miracle.” You have to dedicate an hour or so a day to it. That’s what makes it hard to start. But every time I do it I feel so much better…just need to get over that initial hump.

One thing that I am giving up instead of picking up is the gym. I’m so not hitting my six-hour a month minimum I was supposed to hold myself to. I’m just not motivated to go and I don’t really like being there. I’d rather just run outside or do P90X in my own home.

An update on the Bee Pollen: it is no longer helping as much in the weight loss department, though I have pretty much kicked diet sodas and cut down my coffee intake to two small cups in the morning with no effort, which I attribute to Bee Pollen. My skin has also been good, I usually get little stress breakouts once in a while and I haven’t had any since I’ve been taking them (improved skin condition is also a claim). I think it is still controlling my appetite, I feel fuller, but my problem is my eating out of boredom came back…even though I feel full. So I’ll still take them for a while yet and try to be more aware of my fullness. Weight watchers should help this as well.

So once again…I am declaring that I am re-doubling my efforts….tomorrow.

Sales: Aardvark on Groupon, Hatley at Milk & Honey Kids

I haven’t written about sales in a while because, quite frankly, they have been pretty sucky lately. But I woke up to some good news this morning…Aardvark is on Groupon today! According to the counter their $30 for $60 worth of Aardvark Sports Shop stuff is good for two days (Tuesday and Wednesday) and the Groupon expires 9/3/2011. If you aren’t familiar with Aardvark, it is a great place to buy running shoes. I will never buy them at a chain sporting goods or self-service store again. Even if you can find the same pair a few bucks cheaper, what if they are the wrong shoes for you? Now you just wasted your money on running shoes you aren’t happy with. At Aardvark they really take the time to match you up with something that fits your budget as well as the needs of your feet. In fact, usually they will bring me about 3 types of shoes in my range and when they told me which was the best fit for me…to date it has never been the most expensive pair. They aren’t there to rip you off, they want you to be a customer for life. They also have a lot of cool gadgets and clothing as well as information on races and running groups. Don’t feel this is a store just for marathon runners. If you are just starting out or even just thinking about it, stop by they’ll get you motivated and up and running….literally.

Another great store in the Lehigh Valley, this one much newer to our area, is Milk & Honey Kids. They carry great kids clothes brands like Tea and some really neat toys, they have a lot of Melissa & Doug which is one of my…I mean Hailey’s…favorites as well as a lot of fun things you won’t find at the big box stores. They are trying to fill the void that Toy Magic left behind, and while it is still primarily clothing, they are doing a great job with the toys. So far I’ve only been to the Bethlehem store (next to Panera bread on 512) but they also have a store on Hamilton Street in Allentown which is bigger.

Milk & Honey’s vendor of the week this week is one of my favorites, Hatley. They make the most adorable rain boots, rain coats, and umbrellas and the sale is perfect timing! Be sure to click the link for the coupon. A bit of warning…you are going to pay more for kids clothing than you will at Old Navy or Children’s Place, even more than Gymboree. I won’t get all of Hailey’s clothing or toys, here but I will get special gifts here. I’ll usually seek out things that are more unique that you can’t find elsewhere.