Month: May 2014

Four Things I Can’t Wait For!

I don’t know about you, but the weather around here has been amazing this week!

I sure have spent a lot of time on the patio...

I sure have spent a lot of time on the patio…

So, since it’s been so great outside, and I already have racerback tan lines that are not likely to go away any time soon, I officially have summer fever.  With that in mind, I thought I would take some time to point out some things that I am sooo excited for this summer!

1. 30th birthday Florida Trip

Can I just go right now?

It’s a little before our 30th birthdays, but my girlfriends from college and I will all be turning 30 this fall.  So, we are taking a little trip to celebrate.  We got a little house on the beach, and it’s going to be awesome!

2. Bruno Mars Concert!!!

I’m taking my little sister to his concert to celebrate her birthday.  We have been jamming to his music to the point of embarrassing our family wanting to see this guy in concert for a LONG time.  I’m so excited I committed the triple exclamation point on the subheading!

3. My Bridal Shower


I’m pretty sure I mentioned it in my first blog post, but I’m getting married this fall.  I’m SUPER excited for all the fun wedding things that are in store for us this summer.

4. Starting my new path

I’m pretty hush-hush about this new plan, but I am working to get my personal trainer certification and pick up some writing opportunities if I can.  I’m really looking forward to all the exciting opportunities that I am working toward.


What are YOU looking forward to this summer?


Can’ts into Cans Wednesday: Running my First Half Marathon

After my first 5K, which you read about in last week’s Can’ts into Cans Wednesday, I was most definitely hooked on running.


The amazing feeling of empowerment I felt after doing something I never thought I could, or would, do was something I hadn’t experienced in a long time.  Maybe ever.

Soon enough, I found myself moving on from a difficult time, buying a house all on my own (definitely a can’t I turned in to a can), and running a couple more 5K’s.  At my 3rd 5K, which I spent coaching my first-timer friend through, I thought to myself, and said to her, “I don’t know how on Earth those people can run a whole half marathon.”  She laughed and said I would probably be doing one myself soon enough.  I couldn’t get that thought out of my head and started reading blogs near-incessantly to get all sorts of information about running, particularly longer distances.

Within two months, I had signed up for my first half marathon.

My training gave me a great focus on myself through some busy (but fun) times, including my sister’s wedding and my first trip to New York City.


I stuck to my training plan fairly religiously, even through the trip.


Running in Central Park=Dream come true!

I even came in first in my age group at the same 5k I ran only a year earlier!

But, as the half grew closer, I was terrified that something would take the experience away from me: whether getting sick, injured, or just not being able to do it.

I did my best to stay positive, and I was very lucky to have the support of my mom, sister, and best friend at the race.  Sure enough…


I did it!

Alright, I admit it.  That picture is from the start of the race.  You don’t want to see how I looked at the end.  🙂

Have you ever been worried you couldn’t do something despite knowing you were prepared?

Ever been to Central Park?  Did you love it?

Enjoying Freedom

Today being Memorial Day, I wanted to express my appreciation for the troops through a blog post highlighting all the ways I enjoyed my freedom this weekend.  Without so many brave men and women that sacrifice their lives for complete strangers, I would not have been able to enjoy this weekend– or any weekend — as much as I did.

So, here is how I enjoyed my freedom this weekend…

I spent my evenings having fun with great people.

Friday night was spent at one of our favorite night spots, a piano bar in a town near our house.  The Friday night musician there is awesome; he really brings the whole place to life.


Me and my sister Ashley, out on the town.

Saturday evening, we met my sister and brother-in-law and some friends at a nearby sports bar to watch the Blackhawks game.  Let’s hope tonight goes better than that one!

Sunday night was a barbecue with family filled with lots of fun stories.

I spent a ton of time outside.

Finally, the weather in Illinois has turned around.  So far this weekend, it has been pretty much non-stop gorgeous.

As part of our errands, Danny and I bought a dart board, which we hung in our garage and enjoyed before the barbecue Sunday.

I won, might I add.

I won, might I add.

This morning, Ashley and I went for a nice, long walk.  It was a gorgeous morning for walking, so I had to snap a picture.


Finally, I spent the rest of the morning sitting out on the patio with some coffee and my personal training textbook.  We got our first wedding gift (!) yesterday, which was this cute little patio set and fits perfectly on our small deck.  Let me tell you, I sure have been taking advantage of it so far.  Thank you mystery gifter!

Gorgeous morning

Gorgeous morning

I truly relaxed.

After a pretty stressful week, I vowed to enjoy the living daylights out of this weekend.  I was finally able to relax (read: two hour nap today…wooo!), and I am so grateful for that.

Another big thanks from the bottom of my heart for all those who have served our great country.

How did you enjoy your freedom this weekend?

Taking Care of Yourself First

Last week, while browsing around on Twitter, I saw this tweet from ACE Fitness.

This one really spoke to me.  I have been under a lot of stress lately.  The kind of stress where you just can’t get through everything you want and need to in an entire day.  I’m planning a wedding, starting up a blog , searching for jobs, studying for my personal trainer certification, all while trying to stay in shape and working full time.

Don’t get me wrong; I really love almost everything on the list.  However, prioritizing and making sacrifices is essential.

On the day I read this tweet, I was considering ditching my workout the next day in order to get more work done.  So, the idea of taking care of myself first spoke volumes.


It kind of reminds me of that old phrase that you can’t be loved by another person until you love yourself.  I think this one is so true, because, as fate would have it, I didn’t meet my fiance until I finally decided I was OK on my own.  Funny how fate works like that, isn’t it?

So, I am doing my best to move forward by making it a top priority to take care of myself first.  I will never sacrifice my workout, and I make sure to set a time limit where I have to stop working and take some time for me.  This way, I think I can really be my best at everything I try to accomplish.

What do you do to take care of yourself?

Can’ts into Cans Wednesday: Running my first 5K

With my blog being entitled “Can’ts into Can’s,” I want to take some time to focus on some ways to turn doubts into success.  Enter Can’ts into Cans Wednesdays!

I would like to turn this into a weekly series in which I highlight a way someone turned a “can’t” into a “can.”  I would love to pull in all sorts of people and all sorts of victories, big and small.  I figured Wednesday would be a good day, as it is halfway through the week and might serve as a little inspiration to get us all through to the weekend.

This week’s little victory will highlight one of my greatest accomplishments, which started me on the path to a healthier, happier me: my first 5K.

Finishing my first 5K!

Finishing my first 5K!

Several years ago (I’m thinking five, but I’m not sure anymore, haha), my admiration for runners boiled over, and I decided to give it a shot.  I did some Internet research and found the Couch to 5K program, which really helped me take it one step at a time and build a foundation without becoming terribly frustrated.

After gaining some confidence in my running, I decided to give it a try to run with my best friend Amanda (you’ve heard about her when I discussed making my workout fun by sticking with a buddy).  She had been running for ages, and I really wanted to impress her.

I remember her telling me (prefaced by a “no offense, but…”) that she was impressed at my form and how well I did.  That really gave me a boost, and, soon enough, we were talking about running a 5K together.

To start, my goal was simply to finish.  However, in true Amanda fashion, she planted the seed in my head one day that she thought I could do it in less than half an hour.

When Amanda throws a goal out there, I can’t help but go for it.

So, I trained.  I was nervous.  I thought there was no way I would hit that goal.  In fact, I stayed out later than I expected the night before, didn’t eat super healthy, and didn’t expect it to go well at all.

Before I knew it, I found myself in the last mile of the race.  I was feeling pretty good, but starting to panic.  So, I socialized a little.  Amanda quickly put the kibosh on that one.  🙂  Finally, just as I started to get discouraged and thinking I wouldn’t get there, I turned the corner to the finish.

I didn’t know if I could go any faster, but I sure tried.  I heard my brother-in-law scream my name, and I tried harder.

Sure enough, I crossed the finish line at 29:39…meeting my goal by 21 seconds.  I must add that my amazing running buddy let me finish in front of her.  🙂

Amanda and I walking it off afterward so I didn't keel over...

Amanda and I walking it off afterward so I didn’t keel over…

It sure was not easy, but I did it!  This little victory started me on the path to more races and WAY more confidence.

Have you ever run a 5K?  What did you think?

How We Keep Our Diets on Track All Week

To start, when I say “diet” in the title…I don’t mean we are on a diet.  We (meaning my fiance and I) try to eat healthy consistently, but we are willing to have what we want too.

With our wedding fast approaching, we both talked about how we are generally happy with our bodies, but would like a little much muscle and a little less belly.  Our catch phrase is a little more of this, a little less of that.  🙂

We found that lunches and snacks at work were our biggest roadblock.  So, I did a little research into making the week’s worth of food ahead of time.  I found some great stuff from a simple Pinterest search and was really sold on the idea from this meal plan and prep post on Back to Her Roots.  She seemed organized like me and was planning two, also like me.  All I had to do was plug in some recipes, and I was off!

Lunch Prep

Sunday is meal prep day in our house, and he does the shopping, while I do the prepping.  This week, I made:

  • Brown rice with zucchini, peppers, and steak
  • Salads in a jar (inspired by Lofty Appetite): balsamic vinegar/olive oil/salt/pepper, cucumber, red pepper, tomato, feta, sunflower kernels, tuna, lettuce (from the bottom up)
  • Overnight oatmeal
  • Smoothie packets: Banana, strawberries, flax, and protein powder in the bag, then I mix with yogurt, spinach, and milk in the morning
  • Maple Oat Scones, from Oh, Lady Cakes (which, by the way, are way too delicious for my their own good)

Dinner we plan ahead, but we play it by ear a little more.

We have been doing this for three weeks now, and we are loving it!  It takes virtually all of the scrambling out of our mornings, and we always have healthy food on hand!

Any other meal preppers out there want to share their ideas?  We will need some variety soon.  🙂

Here We Go!

Well, the day I have been waiting for arrived on Friday.

When I stepped out the front door to take Libby for a walk, there was a box on the porch.

My Personal Training books!

My Personal Training books!

The arrival of these books is super exciting, but also comes with some fear…

I haven’t had to study for a test in a reeeeaaaaalllly long time.  I have my masters degree in teaching, so tests weren’t a part of the game.  In fact, I don’t think I have truly taken a test, let alone had to study for one, in over seven years.

However, being a teacher, I am a little bit of a geek.  So, the thought of studying for something is kind of fun.

Hence, I am sitting here on Sunday morning reading about the cardiovascular system.  And blogging.  🙂

...and coffee, but that's a given.

…and coffee, but that’s a given.

Anyone have something you were excited, but a little apprehensive, to start?

My Essential to Loving My Workout

I truly love working out.  Once you get into the habit, it becomes a part of you that you just can’t miss out on.

However, we all have our moments that we just don’t feel like it.  At.  All.

In times like these, I have one essential.  Workout buddies.



My best friend Amanda (the two of us are in the picture above at the St. Jude Run) is the person who truly developed my love for fitness.  She has always been a runner, and, after a loooooong time of me refusing, she pulled me in.  Years down the road, we ran a marathon together.  Now, there are few things I look forward to as much as a weekend run with my bestie.



Working out with buddies is one of the biggest reasons I love racing.  It’s really cool to be able to work hard to achieve your own goals while surrounded by other people trying to do the same.

These days, running is not a part of my routine (well, rarely), so there are lots of other ways I work friends into my workouts to make them something to truly look forward to:

  • Interval training on the weekends with my sister.  We make sure to bring my dog out so she can get in the way support us.
  • Weight lifting with my fiance.  We made a mini-gym in our utility room.  Although we aren’t fans of each other’s workouts, sometimes just doing our own workouts nearby each other adds a little variety.
  • Kettlebell circuits with friends.  My sister-in-law, some friends, and I try to get together once a week for a group kettlebell workout in someone’s garage.  We are planning to pool together our equipment to give us tons of options.

How do you incorporate buddies into your workout?

She turned her can’ts into cans…

This blog is a journey…one I’ve been waiting a long time to start.

This blog, in a lot of ways, is the start of me redefining myself.  Why I am redefining myself is a topic (well, many) for future posts.  For now, I will focus on why I’m here.

I have struggled for a long time with believing in myself.  Through a lot of hard work, I have discovered some things, mainly fitness, have shown me that there is so much out there I thought I couldn’t do, and soon came to find out I can!

The finish line at my first fiance jumped in for the last little push. :)

The finish line at my first marathon…my fiance jumped in for the last little push. 🙂

And I have found this to be one of the best feelings in the world!



So, I am redefining my purpose to keep on showing myself what I can do, and helping other people do the same.

I am also starting the journey to become a personal trainer.  You will get to see my journey of this process, another former “can’t,” as I work through and make it a “can.”

On my blog, you will find workout ideas and hopefully some inspiration and motivation to push yourself harder and feel better about yourself as a result.

I can’t wait to see you back here!

To start, what is your biggest “can’t” that you made a “can”?