Giveaway #1

Alright folks, here goes.

With the celebration of Thanksgiving rapidly approaching (our house is already starting to smell delicious with some healthier-alternatives to traditional dishes), I’ve decided to use a holiday saver as a gift.

Nothing compliments a holiday dinner like a great glass of wine. It’s also an excellent way to wind down after a busy day with the family, or an intense work out (after properly hydrating of course).  Wine is a lower-calorie alternative to sugary mixed drinks and has proven health benefits. But, moderation says it’s best to not go for the whole bottle. This is where the dilemma starts, wine lovers know that after just a few hours of storage, wine loses something.

The solution? Giveaway #1 :). The VacuVin Wine Saver & Wine Server Crystal (details here). John and I were given one for Christmas last year and use it religiously, nothing like a new bottle flavor a few days later. For this reason, it will be my first giveaway.

To enter: Like Take Two Blog on Facebook, Share the Facebook Post announcing the contest and comment here or on the Facebook link. I’ll draw a winner on Monday, Dec. 2.

wine saver

 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone and thanks for reading…remember to enjoy the holiday and that moderation is always best. Cheers!

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Holiday Giveaway!

Win

Let’s be honest. The holiday season is pretty magical…a big part of that is giving and receiving surprises! I’ve decided to challenge my readers, while having a little fun at the same time.

I’m calling it a “Favorite Things” giveaway. Here’s how it works:

During the month of December, I’ll be holding multiple drawings with prizes consisting of a few of my favorite things. From running gear and books to gift cards and other prizes, you never know what will make the list!

To Enter:

No purchase is necessary! Entries are unlimited. The following actions will be considered entries:

  • Subscribe to my blog (enter your e-mail address on the right side of any page to subscribe).
  • Comment on a blog post  (on the blog)
  • Like my Facebook Page: Take Two Blog
  • Like a post on Facebook
  • Comment anywhere on the Facebook Page
  • Share a post on Facebook
  • Share a post on LinkedIn

Each time you complete one of the above actions, you’ll be entered into the next drawing. It’s really that simple.

Get started today! Good luck and happy holidays! 🙂

Fun Christmas Gift

Alright, so, I’m a sucker for Christmas. I am proud to say that I have completed my shopping and now wait for the mail truck and UPS driver like a child on Christmas morning.

So, I was especially excited when one of John’s gifts arrived today! Because he NEVER reads the blog (or checks Facebook for that matter…if you’ve tried to reach him and haven’t heard back…that’s the reason), I decided to share the gift on here in case any of my readers are looking for a unique, last minute gift for a friend or family member.

John is a Philly sports fanatic, just in case you were unaware. The Phillies world series win in 2008 was probably up there with our wedding day and the births of our children in terms of life’s greatest moments in his world. Based on this, when I found this print, featuring one of his idols, I knew it was the perfect fit:

Harry_Kalas_full_blue

 

That’s right, it’s a Harry Kalas portrait comprised of his greatest calls and Hall of Fame speech. I can’t wait for him to receive it.

On that note, if you’re looking for something unique, more than typical sports memorabilia, head on over to Lionword.com and check out the amazing pieces of art illustrator Daniel Duffy has for sale (not limited to sports characters, by the way). My order shipped quickly and I am ecstatic to gift it!

What unique gifts are you on the lookout for this year?

Athletic Frustrations

running shoes

While some of you are aware and others may not be, I’ve recently been fighting a foot/knee injury (not great for a runner!). It’s been a frustrating process, and those closest to me have caught the brunt of that frustration. While I’m working with an excellent physical therapy team (check out Madden Physical Therapy and let them know I sent you if you ever need assistance!) who are committed to getting me back into my groove, the process has been long and not running has been difficult (to say the least!).

While the process has been frustrating (can I say that too many times?!), it’s also been a learning experience. Since I’m committed to learning in every aspect of life, I thought I’d share a few of the lessons.

1. You cannot heal an injury through sheer willpower.

I know this because I’ve tried. I thought if I ignored it, it’d go away. Some things just take rest.

2. Sometimes breaks can be more difficult than intense training.

It sounds crazy, but when you’ve committed yourself to training at a high level, coming down from that mountain can be more difficult than pushing through.

3. Taking a break does not mean doing nothing.

Having an injury, no matter what body part it encompasses (barring a full body cast of course!) is not a license to slack off, eat terribly and to go back to old habits. While riding a stationary bike may not be my activity of choice, it’s the best way to get cardio right now. So, I’m committed.

4. Patience is something developed over time.

At least in my case, this is true. I am not a patient person. The last time I prayed for patience I compound fractured my leg…end result? Never pray for that one again. But, here I am, learning all over again about this thing called patience and how it applies to all areas of life.

5. Rehabbing an injury can be a new beginning.

This is what’s pulling me through. While I’m spending more time enjoying the little things in life, I’m also ready to hit the pavement hard when I get the all-clear. This break has given me time to re-focus and re-center. I think this is a healthy, good thing.

 

Focus on Fitness: Getting the Kids Excited

My kids are young. I’m aware of this. But, I don’t think it’s ever too early to start encouraging a healthy focus on fitness. Because of this, we plan a lot of activities around it.

This fall, an injury has kept me out of the races. But, I don’t think this is an excuse to forget about the great events that happen all around us during this season. Instead, we put the focus on others.

Our family, specifically my husband’s side of our family, is made up of athletes. While we’ve all come at it from different angles, and at different times, over the past few years, adventure races, half marathons, marathons and other races and events have become fairly frequent activities. Those that don’t run are involved in other activities, weight training, regular workouts, etc. While this is a healthy area of focus, it’s also something more; it’s a way to become excited about something bigger than ourselves and to motivate and encourage each other, even the 1 and 2 year olds on the sidelines.

While we’ve tried to bring our kids to our events, and they’ve gotten used to watching John and I run, we want to teach them that fitness is something more…that it can be exciting. So, this fall we’ve tried to get to as many activities as possible.

Here’s my oldest with his Uncle Jim after he completed the Hershey Half Marathon in October. While my sister-in-laws and I trekked all over the town to hold up their creative signs (also below), my kids waited with my husband to catch the most exciting part of the race, the finish.

jim and colin signs

 

My son was so excited to have been there to watch his uncle complete the race. Does he understand the training that went into it? No. Does he realize how hard that finish was? Definitely not. But, he got to see thousands of people, including some close to him, finish something and to cheer them on with a sense that his excitement was a lot bigger than himself.

Fast forward to this past weekend. Sunday we woke up early to watch sis-in-law’s boyfriend run the Harrisburg Marathon (he beasted it). Once again, he got a taste of the excitement of a solid finish. As the first place runner ran by, my son held up his hand and shrieked with joy as the runner gave him a high five on his way to the finish. Afterward, he turned to me and said “Mommy, one day I will cross a finish line!”

That’s what I want my kids to feel. I don’t care how they pursue fitness and health, whether it’s a team sport, an individual challenge or even a simple, active lifestyle that leaves them open to life’s adventures; I just want them to know that some things are worth reaching for and that healthy living can be a lifelong challenge and adventure. It doesn’t get much better than that.

The 16 Minute Plank…Series

I’ve seen a graphic going around Facebook and Pinterest for the 30 day plank challenge. I believe in planks, I think they’re an excellent way to boost core strength and stability. But, I’m not a big fan of doing a single movement each day for an increased duration. This is why I set out to do my own plank challenge, a ladder that combines the effects of not just front planks, but side and back planks as well.

Is it a challenge? To me it is! It’s also something to work for. Try it out, see how far you make it, when it becomes too much or you start to lose form, stop. Then, next time you try it, try to make it further through the challenge. I do this series twice a week if you’re looking for an idea on frequency.

Before I outline the series, I want to put up a few pictures (credit to Women’s Health Mag and Fit Sugar) of proper plank form. Form matters…if you are not properly aligned you could do more damage than good.

Front Plank:

front plank

Side Plank:

side plank

Reverse Plank:

back plank

Alright, so, here goes. Make sure you have a timer or stopwatch on hand.

For each round, you’ll start with a forward plank, move to a left plank, then to a reverse plank, and finally to a right plank before starting all over again. Do not drop, do not take a break between rounds. This is a continuous movement that builds to a 16 minute plank series. Again, it’s a challenge to see if you can improve each time you try, taking shortcuts will only hamper your own progress.

Round 1: 15 seconds for each position (front, left, back, right…no dropping, then move straight into round 2)

Round 2: 30 seconds each

Round 3: 45 seconds each

Round 4: 1 minute each

Round 5: 45 seconds each

Round 6: 30 seconds each

Round 7: 15 seconds each

This equals out t0 16 minutes. Give it a try! Not challenging enough? Turn it into a reverse ladder (1 minute, 45 seconds, 30 seconds, 15 seconds then build back up).

Give it a try!

Going for It

I’m in. That’s all I could think on Sunday while the New York Marathon was running. As runners of all levels crossed the finish line, I craved the accomplishment they must be feeling and decided I want to feel it. I want to push myself beyond what I have ever thought is possible and to dive in head first. I’m in.

See, running is fairly new to me. I covered that topic in my story. What started as a fitness motivator has become something I enjoy. Something my day usually feels incomplete without. But, a full marathon has intimidated me since day one. I’ve completed lots of other races: half marathons, 5ks, 10ks, mud runs and a triathalon. But when I’ve talked to others about a full, or have listened to their stories, I’ve always considered that prospect to be something for others, for “real” runners.

But, watching the ING New York City Marathon it all changed. I was amazed by the elite runners and their abilities. Finishing a full marathon in 2:08? Crazy. But, I was truly inspired by the everyday runners. Those new to the sport and those in it for the love of it.

For that reason, I’ve decided to go for it. When registration opens, I plan to register for the Wineglass Marathon which runs from Bath to Corning, New York  in October of 2014. My goal? To finish. I don’t have a lofty time goal, for me this is about finishing and about proving that I can finish what I’m going to start. I’ve started mapping out my training and can’t wait to get started. I welcome you to follow my newest adventure! Have your own goal? What is it? Completed a marathon? Share your tips…I will need them!

 

Update…I have officially registered…who else will be joining me?!