My Review of ARO Black Series & GIVEAWAY

I received an incredible opportunity to try the New ARO Black Series by Vitacost.  I have been testing them for a while, and today for FITNESS FRIDAY I am really excited to share my thoughts with you!

*After reading my review, enter to win a $25 Gift Card below*

ARO stands for Attack - Recover - Optimize

First I want to just say, only because I used to think this way.  If you think performance and recovery enhancement is just for guys, you'd be wrong!
I'm not talking about bulk up enhancers, to me those things are pretty much a guy thing.  (Well I guess to be fair I should exclude the women who enter body building competitions:)
If you think about it any athlete can benefit from them, especially if they use the correct supplements that are most pertinent for the exercise intensity and recovery to them!

I am a woman, and I am not into body building.  But I am an endurance athlete, who is generally pretty into hardcore distance running.  I get the micro muscle tears, fatigue and strains familiar to most athletes.  If you read my blog on a regular basis, you already know I have been going through a rough ankle injury that has kept me from running for several months.  So unfortunately I wasn't able to review the products while I ran, which is a bit of a bummer!  However, just because I can't run right now doesn't mean I am not into a few other things to keep me going.  I do some strength training, arm & ab work and more recently some swimming to keep the up cardio.

The first product I want to tell you about is the AMINO PLUS BCAA RATIO which I had in the Lemon Lime flavor.  As for the taste, pretty good!  To me it tasted exactly like lemon lime should and I didn't notice an after taste with this one!  I will say when I mixed it exactly per the instructions it was a little on the pucker side, so I added another ounce or two of water to tone it down.  Everyone's lime tastes are different:)
Let me tell you what I liked about this product.  In my mind I think of this one as vitamins.  Not just any type of vitamins but a great combination of workout recovery vitamins.
For instance:
160 mg. of Potassium - Which to put it simple is a little more than half of banana.
7,000 mg BCAA's - Which are branched chain amino acids that aid in performance during exercise and muscle recovery after.  They also help promote LEAN muscle mass and protect against muscle tissue breakdown.
I recommend using this supplement if you do workouts that push your muscles and break them down (next day soreness and fatigue.)

PRE-WORKOUT CONCENTRATE in the Pink Lemonade flavor.  I enjoyed this flavor, it tasted delicious.  I don't want to lie, I did experience a small little after taste with this one.  But it didn't linger, and wasn't something that turned me off from it.  Maybe because the Pink Lemonade natural flavor was pretty good!
This is a great product, I can see myself using this one as a definite in the future!  We all have those days, where we are just lacking in energy and we need just a little extra to get us going.  Or if we have energy, and we need to maintain it for a long workout, sometimes a little Amino & Herbal Supplement can help! (Ginkgo,  Ginseng, Guarana, Green Tea, Green Coffee Bean & Yerba Mate.  Additionally, Vitamin C, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 & Potassium.
When I first took this, in my mind I was thinking all the caffeine would make me jittery.  But it didn't, it actually worked pretty great.  Gave me energy that lasted beyond my workout.  Since I can't be running, some days I find it hard to muster the energy to get out and do something else.  This is a great energy booster!  Plus, I didn't experience any downer effect after.  (Like some caffeine products on the market do.)
I really liked this product, and this one gets my recommend!!!

CASEIN Natural Chocolate Flavor.  Okay, so some of you may know I am one of the weirdest people on this planet I don't care for chocolate.  However, with that said, I felt because I had this opportunity I needed at least try it.  (After all, when camping I do enjoy hot chocolate even if I water it down and add more cream than one could imagine:)
So to be honest with you, I tried this but I added a little more than half a cup more water than the directions mentioned dilute the chocolate down to what I wanted.  (In fairness, the companies suggested use does say "Adjust liquid to desired thickness and taste".  With that said, it wasn't a bad shake!
But for the rest of the 99% of the world, I had a couple other athlete friends/family members who love chocolate try this to get a true accurate opinion.  They liked it, one said he loved the taste.  So since my brother-in-law loved it so much and I know he already puts a lot of protein in his diet and he has tried other protein supplements in the past.  (Which is What Casein is, a protein from dairy milk, FYI: high in Calcium.) I asked him to try it out before workouts and give his thoughts.  He loved it, and asked me if he could keep it.  He was full on muscle mass building frame of mind thinking!  He also said he noticed a difference in recovery time after lifting weights, and recommended it highly for that!

WHEY PROTEIN COMPLEX Chocolate Peanut Butter Flavor.  Additionally, I did try this chocolate one myself.  Its funny, you don't expect a drink you mix with water to be so creamy and shake like.  But this one is.  My brother-in-law had a good idea, to mix it and blend in a banana.  I knew it was a good idea to ask him to help me test out the Chocolate Supplements:)  He loved this shake!
A lot of runners eat peanut butter for protein after a run to help recover, so this drink makes perfect sense for me or any endurance athlete!  This drink also has 4 grams of Fiber in it, which I think is why you feel pretty full after drinking it.
Additionally it is stocked full of a bunch of other vitamins the body needs daily Click Here to See Supplement Facts.  I even noticed it has Biotin in it, and that is great for us women because Biotin promotes healthy hair and nails:) (Sorry just a side note:)  My brother-in-law loved this supplement for workouts as well.  But I didn't let him keep this one, I gave him the website and told him where he could buy it:)  I found this product to be good for me, lean muscle mass and sports recovery is exactly what I need and I absolutely love all the vitamins it contains!  I hope to start running again soon, and am am exited to continue to use this to help me get back into it again after a long layoff!

CREATINE in Natural Blue Razz Flavor.  This is another favorite on the flavor scale!!!  I was expecting to mix it and see blue:)  But it's not, its almost white in color.  Like all the others it mixes quick and great!
For men they can take more of this a day.  But for women who are not interested in bulking just 1 drink a day helps enhance muscle performance during endurance and high intensity workouts.  Mentioned earlier that I have been swimming.  Swimming kicks my butt, however I did notice a difference on the days I took this and the other supplements versus the days I did not. (Yes I tried both, I had to know if I could actually tell a difference.)  I am pleased to say, I did notice a difference.  I am a believer in this and the other supplements as to how you feel during and after a workout.  Felt like I had quite a bit more energy, and the day after soreness and fatigue wasn't as noticeable.

Last is one of the flavors that I found to be my favorite of all!!!  GLUTAMINE Fruit Punch Flavor.  This product, and all of them mix quite simply.  It's a power, there is a scoop in the container to help measure the exact amount.  Mix with water, stir and ready to go.  Pretty simple and only takes seconds to make!
So what is Glutamine good for?  It helps defend your body against stress and muscle fatigue.  Which for me I think will be perfect for when I get into the higher distance miles running again.  But while I tested it, worked pretty darn good with swimming...  Because like I said swimming kicks my butt!

Overall I recommend these products to both men and women.  Certain supplements can help those in training, who are in a rut or who need help with recovery.  Or just individuals who aren't getting enough of these specific vitamins and supplements through a normal diet.  I compiled a list of a few more specifics to consider in trying out the ARO Black Series Supplements.

*  A great way to help get in your daily water intake (with flavor and low calories.)
*  They are all Gluten Free (Which is important to a lot of people these days.)
*  All ingredients are declared, nothing is hidden.
*  Pricing is quite reasonable, starting at $7.
*  They taste great - Natural Flavors!
*  Whether you want the extra supplements, or get into a fitness rut and need some extra help to get you moving a long again.  These are great product, with reasonable prices!

More information on the ARO Black Series HERE

You can view their You Tube Video HERE

I don't believe all supplements are great for everyone.  I believe you should do the research, read the facts and reviews and test out the ones that are most applicable for you.  I also believe if you are on any medications or have any medical conditions, you should consult your doctor before adding any supplements to your diet.

With that said, I have a GIVEAWAY.  
Vitacost has been generous to offer 1 lucky individual a $25 gift card to Vitacost!   Which let me tell you, with products prices starting at $7 this gift card gives a lot of choices!
There are no exclusions on this giveaway, this is open INTERNATIONALLY
If your interested, enter in the Rafflecopter form below.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: Vitacost provided me with the supplement products for my review.  I was NOT required to give a positive review.  All thoughts and opinions above are my own.

Runners Spotlight - Let me Introduce Matilda

Every runner has a story, that pushes them and drives them to do what they do.  I find it fascinating to learn about others, and in return it also inspires and motivates.  I know I am not the only one who feels this way.  

Runners Spotlights are now a weekly series I do on Thursdays.

This week I'd like to introduce you to 
Matilda from Australia.
I asked Matilda several questions, to help tell part of her story and introduce you all to her. 

Matilda Blogs at Run Mum

How long have you been a runner?

I use to run at school (many years ago), but only picked it up again October 2011.
The reason I picked it up was because 1. I thought running was the epitome of being fit. 2. I had a goal of wanting to finish a 5km race. After I did my race, I had fallen in love with running so much that I continued with it.
What distances do you run?

I haven't run further than 21.1km aka 13.1mi aka the half marathon, but I do enjoy anything up to that distance. I find that the half marathon distance is the perfect distance for me.  It's just far enough for me not to hate running.  I would say I would definitely be a distance runner, I find 5km too short now.
Why do you run?  Do you run for fun, competition, both?

I run because I enjoy it.  It helps clear my head, it really is a great stress release.  I get loads of idea's running too. I run for fun, but I do like the competitions of our local club races.
Do you have a favorite race?  Tell us about it?

I have enjoyed all my runs, but I've only done a couple of race's twice.  My favourite would have to be Run the Gap, which is a local run for me.  It's a fav for 2 reasons. 1. It's local, and I get to run among the beautiful Mountains of the Grampians. and 2, that's where I met my husband.
If you could run any race in the world what would it be? And Why?

New York, because well it's New York. Boston because of it's history (old and new). Chicago, cause I fell in love with Chicago when I visited there in 2001.
I would also love to run in New Zealand.

Have you ever dressed up, ran in a costume?  If so, tell us what you did.

That being said, I would love to, but a short distance, cause I think the costume would annoy me over a longer distance. I would most likely dress up as a fairy, cause that seems the easiest option.

If you've ever won a race or placed in one, tell us about it.

I've only won handicapped club races. A 5km, 6.5 and an 8km distance.  The 8km race which was only recent I won only by a few seconds.
Do  you listen to music while you train?  Do you listen to music when you race?  If you do, what are your top 3 must have tunes?

On long distance training runs, I usually listen to audio books. On shorter distances I will listen to music.
Race day, I will listen to music, as there is too much going on for me to concentrate on a story of an audiobook.
I love creating my own playlists, but I also have a ton of rockmyrun mixes which are fantastic too.
I don't have a top 3 must have tunes, but I do have lots of songs I do love.
If you race and acquire medals, t-shirts, do you do anything fun/interesting with them after?

Race medals get hung up.  I plan on getting a Running Wall hanger, where I can hang my bibs and medals all in one place.
T-shirts, well I wear them with pride of course, but only after the event.  I don't wear them before or during the event. You have to earn them imo.
Do you participate in any other sports, hobbies?

Recreational cycling.  I also love yoga, I try to do that at least once a week.
I also lift weights 3 times a week.  I have found it has helped with my running.
As for hobbies.  Well I'm really into quilting at the moment.  I'm still a beginner, so I don't do anything fancy, just square or rectangle blocks
Is there something that is a "must have" that you always take with you running, or eat, do in preparation, etc..?

My Garmin (FR210).  Not that I really look at it when running. And when I do it's just to check I'm on pace.
My iPod fully charged with my music ready to go.
Nuun hydration for after my run
And a protein snack of some sort - usually a quest bar
When you race/train are you a water or sports drink runner?

Water, I don't have sports drink until after the race.
What is your favorite advice to give people who say they would like to try running?

Just try it, even if you have to walk, you are up on the person who is still on the couch.
What is the most common question(s) you you get as a runner, and what is your answer(s) to them?

You still running? and my response "sure am did xxx on xxx day".
What types of things do you like to blog about?  Or what will people expect to see on your blog?  

I like to blog about my general fitness adventures. I like to make my posts real, so people can identify, and hopefully learn something new, or maybe inspire them.
What types of things do you like to read on other blogs, what is the "stuff" that keeps you interested in a blog wanting to come back again and again?

I love hearing about peoples journey's, their highs and lows.  I find it keeps me in check, cause we are only human.
What is the best way you fit running into your daily life?  

I only run when I know my kids will be looked after.  So either on weekends when my husband is home from working away. Or when the kids are at school.
It's also important to me that I schedule my workouts.  If I don't put them in my calendar, then they don't happen. On the days I don't run, I wake up at 5.45 and do a strength workout. It's getting harder now that it's getting colder.
Pick your own question(s), and give an answer.  

Have you had any running injuries? 

Lucky no, however I am currently suffering blisters, and this totally sucks.  I'm trialling different socks, but I really do think it's my shoes, I think I've lost more weight in my feet, and now there is too much room, and so blisters.  No fun.

Do you foam roll? 

I usually foam roll after a long distance run, and def after a half.  Gretchen (the name I gave my foam roller), we have a love hate relationship.  I hate how it hurts, but it hurts so good.

Is there anything you would tell other runners? 

Yoga.  It really is your best friend.  You don't realise how 'tight' you get with running.  I find that yoga not only helps me relax, but also strengthens and challenges me.

Matilda's Blog

You can also Follow Matilda via any of these links

Thanks for letting me interview you Matilda! Australia is one of my "must visit" places one day. In fact it is where I plan on booking me a trip to after I finish one of my current goals! I am jealous you get to run in the Grampian Mountains! One of the places I want to visit when I get there is Grampians National Park...  Look forward to following your blog, and maybe getting a few more idea's for my trip there in a couple of years!!

Love this Drink!!!!

I am excited to tell you all about a few new Zola drinks I just tried.  First let me tell you a little about Zola.  Their drinks are 100% Organic, Gluten Free and Vegan Friendly!  Top that off with tasting great, and you have a fabulous winning combination!

When I received the products, they were wrapped in this cute turquoise wrapping.  Seriously made me feel like I just un-wrapped a bit of summer:)  You can see what I mean in the picture above.

The items I tested were the Coconut Water, Coconut Water with Pulp and the Acai Juice.  Zola even threw in a fun pair of green sunglasses:)

Let me first tell you about the Coconut Water with Pulp - I have to be completely honest on this, I am not usually a pulp drinker or lover.  So I did 2 things.  I poured a little in a glass so I could just try it plain and cold at first.  Then I froze the remainder and made myself a nice little ice slushy drink with it.  Pretty much I just ate it that way with a spoon.  When I tried it plain as a drink at first, I will say it wasn't bad.  But like I mentioned I'm not really a fan of pulp anything, so for me once I put it more into a slush drink I liked it a lot better this way, and didn't notice the pulp:)
This drink is stocked full with Calcium, Potassium, Magnesium as well as real pieces of Coconut.

So the next drink I tried was the Coconut Water, this one I enjoyed a bit more.  The coolest part about this drink, its an amazing workout recovery drink!  Especially for runners!!!  This drink has as much potassium as a banana.. Yup!!  Way cool, huh!  You could get your hydration and recovery all in one for less than 60 calories!  (Let me tell you, that is a MUCH better recovery drink than a sports drink that can have 200+ calories in it.)  This drink is a little refreshing too!  I have had Coconut Water before on a trip I took to Hawaii once, and this one brought back some good memories!

So now we get to my FAVORITE one, the Acai Berry Juice.  Okay, so I absolutely LOVED THIS ONE!!!  I could drink one of these with lunch or even breakfast any day!  I was already using Zola's Store Locator a few minutes after trying this on.  I'm lucky there are 3 locations within a few miles of me (YAY).
This is a rich purple berry drink that is stocked full of Antioxidants, and Heart Healthy Omega Fatty Acids.  In my opinion  a drink like this is a great one to add to a regular diet just for health reasons!  When you drink this, you'll seriously feel like you are drinking straight from a berry.  It's just a fabulous taste!  I love this drink!  They have it with Blueberry & Pomegranate too.  I am already looking forward to trying those as well.  If you give this one a try, you're going to love it!!!

I really enjoyed trying these drinks out!  This is a great company that obviously cares a lot about how they make their products.  They are healthy, organic, gluten free and of course vegan free.  So they can fit into almost any diet.  If you're in the mood to try something new and delicious, give Zola a try!

Visit the ZOLA Website by Clicking HERE

View the ZOLA Store Locator by Clicking HERE

So let me ask you, have you ever tried Zola before? What are your favorite drinks? If you haven't tried any of them before, which one would you prefer to try first?

Disclaimer: The products were provided to me by Zola in return for my review.  I was not required to post a positive review.  All information and opinion in this review is my own.

Fabulous Hair

I received a great opportunity to try out the NuNaat Acai Berry Hair Care line.  I have been testing them out for the past few weeks, and I have to say I have had some great hair days!  I loved these products, I made sure when I requested mine that I picked the ones that would work best for my hair type and styling routine.

I tried the NuNaat Treatment Repair Care System:  Acai Berry & Keratin Shampoo - Acai Berry & Keratin Conditioner - Anti-Aging Leave In-Treatment with Acai Berry & Keratin - Intensive Hair Mask with Acai Berry & Keratin.

I'd like to break down my opinion on each of the products

The Shampoo - The first time I went to pour it, I discovered it comes out quick:)  So I had a handful:)  The next day I did better since I knew to be more careful.  I have really long hair, I believe 23" in length give or take.   So I am very careful about washing and shampooing my hair, to avoid breakage. (I pride myself to keep my long hair as split end free as possible:)  
When I wash my hair I lather and scrub the scalp area, and do not scrub the ends.  I allow the suds to run down and clean the ends of the hair area.
What I liked about this shampoo is, I could feel the clean after one lather and rinse, so that is all I did.  I didn't do a 2nd lather, it wasn't needed.

The Conditioner - What I liked about this conditioner is it isn't heavy.  What I mean by that is, it moisturizes just the right amount.  I didn't feel like I had to cake on ton's of this creamy light purple conditioner.  When it rinsed out, I didn't feel like I had a slimy film on my hair.  (Which I have before with a few other brands.)  I felt like it pretty much gave my long hair just the right amount of moisturizer.  My hair felt clean and hydrated after I rinsed.  Oh, and I loved the smell.  It is a lighter smell, not heavy scented.  Truthfully I really like the scent level of Acai Berries!

Anti-Aging Leave In-Treatment - I put this on my hair right after my showers, directly into my towel dried hair.  I massaged some into my scalp, but I also carefully applied some directly to the ends of my hair.  Then I took the comb to it, and combed through it all before I dried it more.  I felt like this leave in treatment gave my hair a little extra protection.  I also have thin hair, and it seemed like it gave me a little more volume on top.  Additionally, I used this product a few times on certain days, when I needed to tame flyaways or smooth a wave.  During those times I used it on my dry hair.  It worked perfectly, even though I am not 100% sure if that is exactly the rules of use:)  But I liked it that way, so to me that was all that mattered!

To give you an idea of how I style and so you will understand why I liked these products.  I should note, some days I use a hair blow dryer.  Other days I (especially if I shower at night) I just let my hair air dry.  Like most people I style my hair various ways.  Some days I go plain Jane simple and just go straight with no products in it (like the picture below).  Other days, I break out the styling products (which for me isn't much, a little mouse or gel) and I either curl with a flat iron, or if I want wavy hair in the evening I will add a little product and throw my hair up in a bun all day, to be nice and beach wavy for the evening:)

A Straight Hair Day
Intensive Hair Mask - Okay, so I didn't think my hair needed a deeper conditioning daily, so I actually only used this 3X's in the past 2 weeks.  The first time I tried it was the first day I used the products.  You have to leave the hair mask in for 20 minutes before washing it out.  This particular day I was in a hurry, so I multi-tasked and jumped out of the shower with the hair mask and back in later to wash out.  The other two times I used the mask, I just enjoyed a relaxing bath:)  What I loved about this mask (yes I said loved) is that it really makes your hair silky smooth and strong.  This is one item that I definitely keep on my shower shelf, and will likely use it once a week.  Or it is also great to use after you've had a heavy wind hair day, where your hair is zapped of moisture and dried out from being in the crazy wind for hours.  I speak from experience on this!

On the first day of trying it out, I had just dried my hair and my sister (poor girl is on pregnancy bed rest) was staying with me so I could help her out with her daughter.  When I got done, I said "Well what do you think?"  Then of course I shook my hair out in front of her.  Her exact words were, "I love the smell of your hair, smells great!"  Let me tell you, pregnancy women have strong senses so when she said that I immediately felt a little more confidence.  I mean who doesn't like to know their hair smells fabulous!

I had some great hair days, I had to do a fun wedding photo guest book last Wednesday for a bridal party.  I don't know if people were just super generous, but I had several people stop to tell me they loved my hair that evening (beachy waves day).  I would love to share that picture, but being the photographer I didn't snap any of myself.  I regret that!!!

Overall I loved these products.  For me personally I would recommend this particular product line to anyone with dry hair, thin hair, long hair to keep it strong and healthy.  Also recommend this to anyone who spends a lot of time out in the sun, or weather.  I have really enjoyed trying all of these out, and will enjoy continuing to use them!  

You can Visit the NuNaat Website BY CLICKING HERE

Like them on Twitter BY CLICKING HERE

Visit them on Facebook BY CLICKING HERE

Check out Video's on their You Tube Page BY CLICKING HERE

Disclaimer: Nunaat provided me with the product line for my review.  I was not required to give a positive review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

So let me ask you, have you ever tried NuNaat Products before?  If so, what is your favorite product line?  Regardless of what hair care products you use, what is the key factor you use to pick a hair care system for yourself?

Runners Spotlight - Let me Introduce you to AMY

Every runner has a story, that pushes them and drives them to do what they do.  I find it fascinating to learn about others, and in return it also inspires and motivates me.  I know I am not the only one who feels this way.  Runners Spotlights are now a weekly series I do on Thursdays.

This week I'd like to introduce you to Amy.
I asked Amy several questions, to help tell part of her story and introduce you all to her. 

Amy blogs at Faithfully Hoping 

When did you start running?  What inspired you to begin?

I always loathed running. Not just a hate, I loathed it. In high school I would always walk the mile. 
As I began my exercise program in February 2011, the program I chose called for a 30 minute walk everyday. This I felt I could handle. I was relieved no running was required. However, as the days and weeks went by my walks began to become faster and faster. So much so that my husband soon stopped walking with me because I was passing him up. He couldn’t keep up with me. 
One evening I was doing my normal walk and I had the desire to run. I had never had that feeling before, but I went with it. 5 seconds later I was left huffing and puffing and walking the remainder of my walk. But that’s what started things. From there I began simply walking then running, back and forth building up my stamina. 
November 2011 I ran my first 5K. My goal that day was to simply run the entire race. I was successful and forever hooked.

What distances do you like to run/race?
I have only done 5K’s up to this point. The first time I ran a 10K was at the end of an Olympic length triathlon. I’m currently training for a half marathon. This has been a bit of a challenge for me. Before this, a long distance run was anything over 4 miles. Now my long runs go upwards into the double digits. I’m still undecided on whether I like the longer distances. I’d like to concentrate on doing more 10K’s in the future.

Do you have a favorite race you have run?  Tell us about it.

This is definitely a difficult one to narrow down. One race is Iron Girl Del Mar. This was the first 5K I did in November 2011. It’s an all women’s race. The first year I noticed they had mother/daughter teams and I mentioned this to my mom. While she has never been a runner, she agreed to do it with me the next year. November 2012 she came out and did her first 5K with me. Needless to say, this is a very special race for me and holds a lot of meaning.
I also did the Hot Chocolate 5K in San Diego this year and it was great! It was a lot of fun. It was a good mixture of the qualities of a fun race and the challenges of a competitive race. TriRock San Diego was pretty amazing as well. 
You've had a successful and incredible weight loss journey.  What tips do you have for someone who wants to start on their own weight loss journey?  What types of motivation/mind set did you use, that you suggest others find?

Oh I have quite a few tips and tricks. But none of those will do anyone any good if someone isn’t in the right frame of mind. I found this is the most important aspect of lasting weight loss. I have lost and found weight many times over the years. It really isn’t about losing the weight. There are a ton of diets and fads out there that will help you lose weight. But if you aren’t in the proper mindset it will all be for nothing. The weight will just come back.
I first had to come to the point where I was simply done with being fat. I was over it. This came to me in the form of being at the end of my rope in my life in general. At that point, I didn’t feel like I could control anything in my life, but what I could control was my weight. The triggers for this are different for everyone. But the fact is you have to come to a desire for lasting change. The fact is I understood I had to make changes that I would keep for the rest of my life. This was not going to be a quick fix. Quick fixes don’t last. I had to realize that I had to forever alter the way I lived my life. This can be an overwhelming decision.
Once I came to terms with that, I began to slowly change the way I ate. I didn’t drastically alter my diet and the foods I ate. I didn’t even begin working out for the first year and a half. I took things one step at a time, in order to not overwhelm myself. I didn’t want to set myself up for failure. Over the years, what I eat has gradually shifted and changed. I discovered as I changed my eating habits my taste buds began to change as well. My body began to crave the good food I was giving it. That isn’t to say I don’t still crave my sweets, because I do. But I also don’t deprive myself of the things I love. I simply allow for them in moderation. Let’s face it. A diet will never work in the long run if you aren’t allowed to eat the foods you love. On the flip side of that, you find new foods to love.
You also have to understand there will be setbacks. It won’t all go smoothly. There will be ups and downs. There is a learning curve as you begin to become more aware of your body and what it needs rather than simply what you desire. I had to shift my thinking about food. Food is now a way to fuel my body not just a source of enjoyment. Oh I still enjoy my food. But my perspective on food had to change. I had to come to terms with the fact that I had an unhealthy relationship with food. Surprisingly enough, this was a shock to me. That idea had never occurred to me. But if you stick through the ups and downs, the rewards are so much greater than any enjoyment you may find in food. You simply have to take things one day at a time. And when those off days come, you just pick yourself back up and move forward, learning from the experience.

Do you feel you will be a lifelong runner?

I’m not sure if I will be a life-long runner. As much as I love running, I don’t know if my body will be able to keep up. Having had all that extra weight on my knees all those years didn’t do them any favors. As I’ve been getting into the longer distances, I’ve found I’m having problems with them. This has made me question if I will be able to continue to run the way I want in the future. For the foreseeable future, I will be running. However, I do know one thing. Even if I am not running, I will be active in one way or another. I am forever addicted to my workouts.

Do you have any other sports or hobbies you enjoy?

Definitely! When I first began my exercise plan, I was doing kettlebells 4 times a week. This is how I fell in love with working out. While, I go through periods without using them much, I always return back to them. They are an amazing strength training tool with a touch of cardio as well. I highly recommend them!
I also ventured into yoga in those beginning months of working out. I fell in love with this practice as well. It pushes me in a completely different way than running. Plus, it is a great way to keep my muscles properly stretched and flexible.
My other love is my bike. Growing up my dad always cycled. I remember watching the Tour de France every year as a child. A few years ago, my husband decided to get out his old bike and begin cycling. We soon had to get him a new bike because his 20 year old mountain bike wasn’t quite cutting it. As I became more active, my husband encouraged me to try cycling out. I took one spin around the parking lot and was hooked. I love to bike. 
Because I was running and then developed a love for cycling, the logical progression was for me to do triathlons. I did my first in February 2012 and was hooked on those as well. 
Aside from all the workouts, I love to read. I also love movies. I find crocheting very relaxing, though I don't find as much time to do this. Finally, I enjoy making jewelry and being crafty in general. So I'm not all about the health and fitness stuff. 

Do you add any cross training to your workouts?  What are they?
Always. Cross training is so incredibly important, not just for the physical benefits but the mental ones as well. It helps keep the boredom at bay. Obviously, it depends on what race I’m currently training for but I always incorporate cross training. Right now my schedule looks like this. 
Monday - Rest 
(Lately an active rest with a walk to the park with the husband.)
Tuesday - Kettlebells
Wednesday - Short run
Thursday - Yogo
Friday - Short run/Pace work
Saturday - Bike 
(Unfortunately, my rides have been few and far between for a number of reasons lately.)
Sunday - Long run
You like to live life to its fullest now.  So is it just life in general that pushes you, or what types of things do you use to motivate and push you towards success now? 
I am a typical type A, self motivated person. I am not happy without goals in front of me. The majority of my life, my goal was becoming a teacher. My entire education was built on becoming a teacher. I was so motivated to get through, I was able to graduate college in 3 ½ years. I quickly moved onto graduate school and soon had my first teaching job. I suddenly had no more life goals to focus on. 
Health and fitness had never been a true goal in my life. It wasn’t even on my radar. I knew I was overweight, but I never realized the unhealthy relationship I had with food and exercise. Through a series of events, my life seemingly crumbled around me. I felt the only thing I could control was my weight so I dove in head first to that goal.
Little did I know how much that would change me. I hoped it would change my outward appearance. However, it changed me inside and out. The way I think about myself and the thoughts I think in my head are completely foreign to who I was before. The transformation is truly astounding. I actually feel good about myself. It gave me the confidence to step out of my comfort zone and try new things. The old Amy would have never asked to have a spotlight post on her. She preferred hiding in the background. The new Amy says, “Sure let’s try it. If it doesn’t work, oh well. We gave it a shot.”
I continue to keep myself motivated through setting new goals and challenges. Whenever I’m training for one event, I’m thinking about my next step or goal. Currently, I’m training for a half marathon. I’m just testing the waters, so to speak, to see if a half ironman would be feasible for the future. It’s a balance between focusing on the goal currently in front of me and also looking to future goals to continually keep myself motivated. All this without overwhelming myself.

You love to read, what types of books are your favorite?
Amy and her husband trailing behind her
I have loved to read ever since I first learned. It’s an obsession of mine. I love the classics. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas is my all time favorite book. For the most part, I tend to lean toward mystery/action books. In high school, I read every John Grisham book I could get my hands on. This year I have begun reading James Patterson’s Alex Cross series. I have two more books and I am done with that series.
I love reading series. This is a bit selfish on my part. Whenever I finish reading a book, I feel like I am losing close friends. Reading a series prolongs that friendship a bit. However, it also exacerbates the pain of losing those friends.
Ted Dekker, Joel Rosenberg, Robert Ludlum, Agatha Christie, C.S. Lewis, Alexander Dumas are some of my favorite authors. I currently have a list of over 100 books I want to read, so there is always something new. Some of these books I am simply waiting to read until the movie comes out.
I have a theory on books turned into movies. If I read the book first, I won’t enjoy the movie. I will spend the entire time comparing the two and find the movie falls short. Because of this, if I know a book will be made into a movie, I force myself to wait on reading that particular book. This allows me to enjoy both the movie and the book. Last year my friend and I had a Harry Potter viewing marathon. It took us two days to watch every movie. I then spent the next two months reading the books. It was amazing.
You’re a teacher by profession.  Do you hope to inspire the students you teach in the coming years, the importance of a healthy lifestyle?

As a teacher, I’m placed in a unique position to influence the lives of my students. This is exponentially so in the particular school I currently teach. I work at a charter school in an extremely low socio-economic area. I do not have a typical classroom. My students are in independent studies. What this means is I have a group of about 30 students. I meet with each for one hour on Mondays and Wednesdays.
I teach high school students. Most of them are far behind in credits. For most of my students, this is the last place these students go in a last ditch effort to attempt at earning their high school diploma. Some of my students have even shared with me their families don’t believe they will ever graduate. Most of my girls have one or more children. Many of my boys have been suspended numerous times and/or expelled from school.
It can be a depressing job at times. However, I try to focus on the good. I try to be the best example I can to these students. I attempt to motivate them to be the best they can be. Not surprisingly, my girls are very interested in my weight loss. Whenever the topic is brought up, they have many questions for me. I try to encourage these girls to have a healthier view of their bodies.
While health and fitness isn’t necessarily a common topic, I do try to influence my students to make better choices in their lives. I encourage them when they tell me about their soccer games. When the topic of food comes up, I encourage them to eat better. They notice I don’t take their offers of candy and sweets. I mainly try to live by example. They notice more than I’m sure I even realize.
When you are trying to decide what blogs to follow, what are you looking for in a blog?

I like to read blogs that I can relate to. I’m sure this is true of most people. I like to see other people’s perspective on similar situations I am currently facing. It’s nice to know you aren’t alone in your struggles and even in your successes. I enjoy reading blogs of those that might be a bit more advanced than I am. It helps motivate me in my own journey. If a particular blog is relate able to my own life or simply has a compelling story or insight to life in general, I will typically stick around. Also, any blogger that is an active part of their blog in interacting with readers is a big plus.

Tell us about your blog, what types of things do you post about?

My blog is about me and my life in general. Many of my posts tend to be about my training and races and rides I’m doing. I use my blog as a way to track my progress and set goals for myself. There is a big focus on the active part of my life. However, when I get the chance I like to talk about my other interests. As I love to read, eventually, I’d like to incorporate book reviews.
I also talk about the different events and activities my husband and I become involved in our everyday lives. Occasionally, I’ll talk about the ups and downs of being a teacher. I also use my blog as a space to get my thoughts out. I’ve always been a writer and have kept a journal since I was 12. This is a bit of my public journal. Mostly it is the boring day to day things about my life. However, every once in a while I have a moment of introspection or insight that I like to share.

Amy has an incredible story, don't you think?
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