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Healthy Shopping Haul with Sprouts

Happy Monday babes! I hope you had an amazingly wonderful weekend! I'm still recovering from mine. We took the kids hiking out at Cedar Ridge Preserve again and then out to the country side to visit my in-laws on their new farm.

It was such an amazing time. They have chickens, horses, cats, dogs, the whole works. I even met the fattest and cutest pig ever. Her name is Chubbs, just look at that face!

All the excitement from hiking and chasing animals left me so drained and worn out that I slept in pretty late on Sunday. I'd planned to do a 30 minute run, but I just couldn't peel myself off the couch. This last week of training really got me down. My energy levels have been beyond low and I think it's due to a mix of low iron levels and a bad diet.

I went to see my doctor before training started to have some blood work done and get a physical. He warned me that my iron was pretty low and that I should take a prenatal vitamin while training. I'm pretty stubborn though and I was sure I could get my iron levels up on my own through diet intake. Unfortunately, my diet has been poo.

It took all the energy I had Sunday, but I peeled myself off the couch for a quick trip to my local Sprouts to pick up some healthy snacks for the week and check out their vitamins. My trouble is that I've been getting pretty "snacky" lately and I've been reaching for those easy-but--not-so-great snacks like potato chips. I just love Sprouts because they have so many healthy options when it comes to snacks and foods and their produce is amazing too!

Today, I thought I'd share my "healthy" shopping haul with you and perhaps inspire some healthier snacks for you as well!

Breakfast is always one of those important meals for me. Especially now that I'm training in the early morning hours, I really find that I need two breakfasts before lunch. You guys should know that the Mexican girl in me about died when I found this chicken chirzo. I LOVE chorizo, but the fat and cholesterol in real chorizo just get me every time. This chicken chorizo is a great alternative. It's higher in iron (which I need right now) and it's also lower in fat and cholesterol.

I also love parfaits for breakfast and as well snacks during the day so I picked up this diary free yogurt alternative in Vanilla. I love SO Delicious products because they don't upset my stomach as much and they're super creamy and delicious.

To go with my yogurt parfaits I found these delicious blueberries and raspberries as well as the sweetest smelling dried figs. Seriously, the aroma made my mouth water in the store. Sprouts has such an amazing selection of dried fruits and nuts. That's one of (the many) reasons I love coming here when I need more of a selection.

To top off my parfaits I picked up this maple dream granola which I think will pair nicely with those figs.

Now, I also wanted to pick up some extra ingredients to make smoothies with this week. I'm hoping to premake a few to take to work with me when I feel that urge to snack. Plus its a great way to get more fruits and vegetables added into my diet.

The  micro nutrients in fruits and vegetable also help in the recovery process which will make for less of those sore days after a hard workout. My body is still adjusting to the 6 days a week training schedule. Even though I haven't had any extremely tough workouts, I find that just working out 6 days a week has made for some pretty sore muscles.

I found these beautiful mangos and these ginormous honey crisp apples. Can you believe the size of these things???

I also found this red beet root powder near the supplements while browsing for protein powder. I opted to get these instead of a protein power because we still have about 5 tubs of it as it is. I've ready a lot lately about the positive effects of beet root on oxygen uptake and efficacy for endurance athletes. Now, while I understand that it has been shown to have SOME benefit I also understand that it's not going to make my Lance Armstrong. I just thought it would be nice to mix in with my smoothies. I've never had a beet root supplement before so this will be an experiment for me. (I'll keep you posted on that.)

While I was in the supplement section I also browsed the prenatal and iron supplements. I'm still so hesitant to take either of them. I just feel like a failure as an nutritionist when I have to supplement because my diet has been off. I want to give my body what it needs so until I can get my act together with food and training, it might be best to supplement.

I picked up this gentle iron specifically because its formulated to digest easily. Most iron supplements are notorious for causing constipation and I definitely don't want to deal with that.

I also picked up the Sprouts brand prenatal vitamin. Important note, I wont be taking both the prenatal and the iron supplement. I wanted to have to options available should I feel the need to boost my iron levels. The prenatal with offer more than just iron and will act as a daily multivitamin but as my diet improves, if I'm feeling like I'm getting enough nutrients from food than I can also opt to take the iron pill.

I also found these yummy smelling lotions and picked up coconut body cream. It gave me a chuckle because my husband's name is Jason. Real talk though, I'm swimming a lot now and my skin has been so dry and itchy. I really needed something to help hydrate it and this body cream seemed perfect.

Last but not least, I stopped by the meat isle so see what specials they had and found these lamb chops. I've never had lamb before and they were a great deal so I picked some up!

Anyone know any good recipes for lamb?

Well that just about covers it. Keep in mind that my pantry was pretty stocked before this trip to Sprouts. I just needed to pick up somethings I couldn't find at my other grocer and I knew Sprouts would have some healthier options.

So, now to the good part! I've teamed up with Sprouts to share some great deals with you and give away a $25 gift card to one lucky reader!

Sprouts is offering 25% off nutritional supplements and body care from October 19th-26th. Plus, you can save an additional 10% when you spend more than $100 on supplements or body care after the discount.

To enter to win the $25 gift card simply enter using one of the entry methods in the rafflecopter below.

If you're sharing on Instagram or Facebook, be sure to enter using the rafflecopter then visit my FB or IG to re-share my giveway post on that social site. It's much easier to re-post then to create a new one.

Open to US residents only. Contest ends Thursday October 20th. Winner will be announced Friday October 21st.

Happy shopping!

Training Check-in: Ironman Week 2

Happy Monday! I hope you all had an awesome weekend and made time to watch the Ironman World Championships. I know I did and it's got be PUMPED!

Week two of training is in the books! This was a good week despite a few mishaps. I'm still struggling a bit to find consistency and get into the swing of things, My home gym was STILL closed this past week and I was commuting to the pool some days. Other days I only had 30 minutes of a workout planned and slept in. All in all, week 2 went well! Here's the breakdown:

Monday - Rest day
'Nuff said

Tuesday - 1600m swim, 30 minute run
Ah two-a-day Tuesday! I'm sure I'll hate this day at some point, but it's nice to have right now with my training being so slow. I slept in a bit this Tuesday. I didn't wake up until about 5:30 am. I've had to commute to the gym over by my office since my home gym (pool) has been closed the last two weeks for renovations. The drive there isn't bad at all, maybe 10-15 minutes max. The drive home is what I need to worry about! I'm fighting rush hour traffic and it creates double drive time. I could have easily showered at the gym and dressed for work there, but apparently I like to make things difficult and drove all the way back to the house. Either way, I sucked it up and got it done. The swim went well. I'm seeing improvements with every swim which makes me feel hopeful. The plan I'm following has swim technique drills worked into every swim workout and I really think it's making a difference, especially since I took so much time off in my off-season. My Garmin was giving me hell on Monday and for some reason that particular swim won't sync with Garmin Connect. So annoying! I feel like it didn't really happen if it's not logged on Garmin Connect. Last week's swim average was 2:30 min/100m, today's swim was 2:25 min/100m so it was nice to see a bit of improvement!

My second workout of the day: 30 minute run. I can't decide if I want to continue to do these runs in the afternoons on my lunch break or the mornings. I really enjoy getting out there in the sun to break up the monotony of the work day, but it's still a bit warm outside and I hate being sweaty and looking a mess on hair-washing day.......wait, you don't have a designated "hair-washing" day?! Ha Ha Ha Welcome to wonderful world of Triathlon!

So as you can see above, the run went SLOW. I spent a ton of time running in Z2 this summer so that I would have an aerobic base to work with this fall. I was averaging 12:30ish in the dead heat of summer so please tell me why, in these cooler temperatures, I'm averaging 13:42 per mile in Z2? Running has definitely become a problem area since training with heart rate zones.  Every single run is a struggle. I keep  hoping for a small sliver of improvement, but with this kind of regression I'm feeling pretty hopeless as I enter this training plan. I've run 9 minute/mile splits in the past (before adopting HR zone training), but I just don't know if I can get back there while maintaining a low Z2 heart rate. Hopefully, I will look back at this post in another 196 days and think, "Wow, I've come a long way!" but for now, I just feel disappointed with my running. 

Wednesday - 30 minute bike
I've quickly learned to love my bike rides! Running has become depressing for me, but riding has become a favorite. I can maintain a 14-16 mph pace while in Z2 while on the trainer. I'll be taking my weekend rides outdoors as soon as my weekend hours pick up so we'll see how it goes! For now, I love sweating it out in the pain cave first thing in the morning. I woke up at 5:30am again to complete this ride even though I could have done it at the gym on my lunch break. I want to spend as much time as I can on MY bike. I know it makes a big difference when you spend time in your own saddle.

Thursday - 30 min bike
Ok, I had wine Wednesday night and slept in Thursday. Guilty as charged! I can't ever wake up early if I've had wine. It doesn't matter if its 1 glass or 1 bottle. It's all the same and it makes me soooo sleepy! I opted to do my ride on my lunch hour at the gym, on the spin bike. So much for creating habits early. I got it done though and I was happy.

Friday - 1600m swim, 30 min run
Ok, Friday was a real test. So, when I was at the gym by my office on Monday running, I noticed that there was a sign up regarding their pool.

Apparently, every freaking LA fitness in DFW was closing for either maintenance or renovations. I called in advance on Thursday to confirm the LA fitness pool to the east of me (Grapevine) would be open. It was about the same distance from the house as the one by work, but in the opposite direction (away from work). I woke up Friday to the sound of pouring rain and the thought of fighting rush hour traffic, in the rain, after my workout didn't sound like the best idea. So, I opted to do my swim after work.

Originally, I'd planned to do my run on lunch, as I had on Monday however, I learned that the locker rooms were CLOSED. Which meant no-post run shower. So again, I held off.

Now, there is ANOTHER LA Fitness about 15 minutes west of my office in Down town Fort Worth. When I got off work I thought it would be easier to head down town rather than fight rush hour traffic to drive back east PAST my house to get the gym I'd planned to go to earlier that morning. As luck would have it, I called the down town LA fitness and they had just re-opened their pool that day. HAZAA! I headed straight there after work only to realize I'd forgotten all my gear at home.

At this point I developed an eye-twitch. No joke. I had my gym bag and suit, but none of my swim gear (goggles, paddles, etc). I'll be dammed if I was going to skip this swim with an open pool (finally) right at my finger tips. Luckily, I'm a hoarder and found an unopened swim cap that I'd shoved in my gym bag months ago. I also had a pair of broken kids goggles shoved in there for some reason. So, I tied the broken goggles strap together, put on my new swim cap and suited up! The swim was awesome! I was even faster than Monday too. Average: 2:22 min/100m. It was pretty late at this point and my family was already home waiting on me. I opted to forego the run and skip this workout. I'm a bit sad that I missed it, but I'm proud of myself for getting that swim in despite all the hurdles I had to jump!

Saturday - 30 min bike
There was a new trail I wanted to test out Saturday, but it was also Kona Day. There was no way I was going the miss the live coverage so I set up my bike in the living room and knocked out the ride before the race started.

How about that finish by Daniela Ryf though! She had a 20 minute lead, incredible! I streamed the race most of the day and just kept thinking about IMTX and how awesome this will be. It's all so inspiring.

[Photo credit:]

Sunday - 30 min run
I woke up feeling super dry on Sunday. I'm not sure if it's just my body adapting to a training schedule or if I'm in the early stages of weight loss. My stomach was flatter, I felt a bit leaner, and things looked great! I took everything I had not to step on the scale. I have decided to monitor my weight, but I'm only checking it once every two weeks. It's so easy to become obsessed with that number. Anyway, Sundays ride went well. I'm not seeing any improvements like I am with swimming, but I hope to very soon. I think as soon as I start doing those rides outdoors things will improve. So, here's hoping!

Well, that wraps up another week of training. I've got another couple of weeks before my schedule becomes a bit intense. Again, the first 10 weeks are base phase so there are no really long rides or swims. I don't even think I will get over 1 and half hours on the bike at any given point before week 11. I'm enjoying this part of my training for the most part. I'm very surprised at my areas of improvements and areas of hardships.

Until next week babes! Happy running,

Training Check-In: Ironman Week1

Well babes I've wrapped up my first week of Ironman training! Woo hoo! As you read this I'm a little over halfway through week two as well, but more on that next week. So far so good! My training plan has a base phase built in so the first 10 weeks are super easy and are meant more for building my endurance base. This means lots of short workouts in zone two (aerobic zone) and lots of focus on technique.

Here's how my week went:

Monday - Rest day
What an awesome way to start a training plan! Day one knocked out with incredible ease! Actually, it was a little hard to know I was officially "in training" and not have anything to do. I knew that I needed to rest up for the week ahead so I stayed true to my plan. No training at all this day, not even weights.

Tuesday - 1600 meter swim and 15 minute run in Z2
Now we're getting to the good stuff! I haven't been in the pool very much this summer so I was a little anxious about my performance level. I started my workout with a 200 meter warm up and actually felt a little winded so I knew I was pretty out of shape. Luckily, I had several swim drills scheduled before my main set so I was able to slow down and tweak my swim stroke for more efficiency. I finished in about 52 minutes which gave me an average of 2:30 min/100m. That's a far cry from a PR, but its a great place to start I suppose.

Tuesday's will henceforth be known as "Two-a-day Tuesdays" as I will have two workouts schedule every Tuesday.

My second workout of the day was an easy 15 minute run while staying in zone 2. I opted to run on the treadmill at lunch since I only had 15 minutes planned. Normally I'll take my runs outdoors to enjoy the sunshine but I went to the gym on my lunch break and did a bit of weight lifting after my run. I'm going to have to figure out how to balance strength training with Ironman training. I'm such a sissy when it comes to sore muscles.

Wednesday - 15 minute bike in Z2
I headed to the gym again on my lunch break for Wednesday's workout. I spent 15 minutes on the spin bike and then did a little more strength training. I took it super easy as to avoid sore muscles.

Thursday - 15 minute bike in Z2
Ok, I skipped this workout. I know, I know! That's no way to to start a training plan, but I had an event Thursday evening with the Dallas Fitness Ambassadors. The DFA was celebrating it's 1 year anniversary and we had CorePower yoga planned so I didn't want to wake up at 5am just for 15 minutes on the trainer and then stay out late with the DFA. Honestly, I woke up with the intention of going to the gym on lunch again, but work got in the way and I just skipped it.

My evening with the DFA was amazing though! We had a huge turn out and the event was just perfect! The lighting was just right (every bloggers dream) the weather was cool and there was a slight breeze. We gathered at Jade Waters at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas for Silent Disco Yoga. What an experience that was! If you have never participated in a quiet event, you should totally check it out. We wore these neat headphones with two channels. One was dedicated to a live playlist of EDM by the DJ we had on site. The other was our instructors playlist mixed with his mic feed so that we could hear the instructions. We had our choice of experiences. So cool!

 After an amazing workout we gathered for live music poolside with lots of goodies. Muscle milk was there mixing up fruit smoothies, Unrefined and Society bakery also provided gluten free cupcakes and cookies (which I ate WAY too many of). Unfortunately, I  had to leave early to be up for my 5am swim session on Friday. I have a feeling I will have many more of these disappointing situations in the next 30 weeks.

(All event photos courtesy of the DFA. You can visit their page and see the whole album here)

Friday - 1600 meter swim and 15 minute run in Z2
Surprisingly, I made it to the gym on time. My home gym is currently closed for renovations this week so I commuted to the gym by my office on Tuesday and Friday. It's a pretty short drive at 5:30 in the morning, but man the traffic back is awful. I woke up feeling really sore from the CorePower yoga session in my legs and shoulders. It had a bit of an effect on my swim as I fatigued quicker but I managed to get it all done in less time than on Tuesday. I was really worried about the upcoming weekend with sore legs. I opted to skip the second workout of the day to save my legs and rest a bit.

Saturday - 30 minute run Z2
Ok so stay with me here. I flipped my schedule this weekend. Saturdays will be my long bike day and Sundays will be my long run day but we had a family BBQ planned Saturday and it was going to rain Sunday. I figured I could get my run in outdoors and then ride indoors on Sunday. Gettin' crafty already! Unfortunately, I woke up Saturday in outter space. My head was super cloudy and I just felt off. to make things worse, I'd scratched my cornea with my contact lens the night before and had to wear my glasses. Have you ever run in glasses???? Well, I haven't. I've had glasses since I was 7 and I have never once had to run while wearing them. It made me dizzy! I actually lost my balance and fell on my knee. It gave me a pretty bad bruise as well. It was just a terrible run! I couldn't keep my heart rate down and ended up with a 13 min/mile pace. I probably would have had better luck walking.

Sunday - 30 minute bike Z2
Talk about a great day! I woke up around 8am, hopped on the trainer, found an awesome channel on YouTube called Indoor Cycling Videos and killed my 30 minute trainer session.

Overall the week went really well. I'd been trying so hard to wake up early the previous week to get used to being up at 5am to train again and just couldn't seem to do it. As soon as Tuesday came around and I had to be at the pool, I popped out of bed like a piece of warm toast out of the toaster. Easy peezy lemon squeezy! Funny how that works isn't is?

Well loves I hope your week is going super! Are you training for anything right now? Hows it going?

I'll check back in with you next week. I have some pretty exciting things planned and hope to start blogging like a real blogger very soon. ha ha ha

Happy running!

Overcoming Depression, Self-harm & Addiction - How Endurance Sports Saved Me

Truth be told, I wrote this post about a year ago. I've been waiting for the "right" time to share it, but something in the back of my mind was always afraid to. Today, as I gear up for a thirty-week training program for my first full Ironman, I feel compelled to share the reason why I decided to do this race in the first place. I also wanted to share my story because it might give someone out there hope and perhaps help them find the light if they're lost in the dark, as I once was.

"Triathlon heals broken things, all you have to do is tri"

If you have ever met me in person you may have noticed the scars on my arm. Most of the time I avoid conversation about them. If someone asks, "What happened?", I have learned to change the subject or just answer "Oh, you know, when I was a kid..." and attempt to change the subject as quickly as possible. The truth is, I suffered from depression and self-harm for most of my childhood and throughout my teen years.

I didn't have the most perfect childhood, but then again, who does? I was raised by a mother who suffered from severe depression, anxiety, and bi-polar disorder herself. Over the years it developed more into, what was then called, split personality disorder or now known as Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder). I'd rather not go into the dirty details about it, but I will say it lead to some pretty scary situations when I was younger. The police were involved several times and there were open CPS cases against my mother. Over time I think we all began to see that her home was not the best place for any child even if CPS didn't agree. My older brother and sister both moved out when I was about 12 and shortly after I was sent to stay with my older brother, who was still just a young man himself.

Over the years I attempted to remain close to my mother. As her illness worsened she was prescribed more and more medication. The cabinet under her sink looked like a pharmacy and I remember her in and out mental institutions many times. When I got into high school, I attempted to move back in with her, but we fought endlessly. She would have episodes where she wasn't herself, but one of her alters and it frightened me. She attempted suicide a few times during these episodes and, once in particular, I remember having to remove the knife from her hand. Because of the medication she was on, she would also have seizures and blackouts and would need emergency assistance. It was about this time that I began to self harm. It was a very dark time for me. I had been sad and scared for so many years and it was confusing for me to understand her behavior. Both my sister and brother, who had always been my protectors, moved out and I was all alone with this "person". I honestly didn't know how to handle it. Being a teenager is hard enough, but when you live in constant fear, you cope in strange ways.

I moved back in with my brother for my sophomore year and things seemed to get better. My brother encouraged me to begin running cross country and try out for sports. I remember my coach really taking me under his wing. He was the first person that really showed an interest in me because of something other than my family troubles. He believed in me and, with his direction I lettered in cross country that year. Running became my outlet. It became the thing I did to survive. My brother and sister were both always by my side, but running was truly my escape. This birthed my love of the sport.

The time came for me to move out of my bothers house. My sister agreed to have me move in with her and her best friend. She had been through her own struggles, living in several different places over a short period while she struggled to finish high school and learned to support herself. By then however, she was stably providing her herself, in college, and roommating with her best friend in the house her mother had left for her. That year I was granted educational guardianship of myself so that I could join a work/study program and begin to support to myself. Honestly, I was just a kid and did what any kid would do; I went a bit crazy. I moved out and barely finished high school, but I did it with the guidance of my sister and her friend (who is really more like family now).

I decided that I didn't need to go to college and charged head-on into the working force. I was caught up in adult life, but I was still very much a child. I stopped running, moved out of my sister's after graduation and became very depressed. I knew I needed help so I made the decision to see a doctor who then prescribed me the anti-depressant Alprazolam or Xanax as its commonly called.Even now as I look back at it, I can't recall anyone ever telling me that medication wasn't the cure. After all, I'd seen my own mother take what seemed to be an endless supply of medication. In fact, I distinctly remember her and her doctors telling her she would need to be on medication for the rest of her life.

Over the next couple of years, I developed a dependency to these drugs. The more I took them, the more numb I became. My life seemed to spiral down further into depression and I took more and more medication. The time came that I too was having blackouts. I had started self medicating and I wasn't taking the pills as directed. I was still self harming and anytime I felt anything at all, I took a pill.

Eventually there weren't enough pills. I knew that I couldn't stop taking them because when I did I would get sick with dizziness and nausea. I reached out to my family and finally asked for help. My sister and brother helped get me the treatment I needed. I was admitted to the hospital to complete a medically supervised detox for a week to wean myself off of the medication and then I entered an intensive out patient treatment. There I finally had the chance to talk to someone and begin working on me. I learned that self medicating and self-harm had been my only outlets and they were self-perpetuating. I also learned that I had stopped feeling anything at all. There was no happiness, there was no sadness, there was just emptiness. I also learned that I didn't have to feel this way (imagine that!). I didn't need to be empty to survive because I could learn to FEEL and LIVE again.

I can't begin to explain what it's like to have to learn how to feel emotion again. To learn how to cope with real heart-ache head on and sober, feel happiness and joy again and to be filled with the emotion that had been suppressed for so many years. I had so much help from my sister. She too struggled with her emotions regarding childhood but was always steadfast in her therapy to work through her feelings. Without her guidance, I don't think I would have found the strength to make it through that time.

After about a year of therapy, I felt like I was starting to become me again. I finally decided to go back to school and I started living my life. My sister, who was now working on her PhD, was there again guiding me back to a positive life.  I signed up for college classes, got an apartment, and tried to be a normal person. I poured everything I had into my education. I had a few relapses that first year and I stopped going to my counselor due to insurance issues, but I managed to maintain my recovery.

I met my husband about a year later and we got married. He had two small children and I was incredibly excited to have them in my life and be a mom for the first time. I also started running again and really began to remember how much joy it brought me. My husband was so supportive and we even got the kids involved and we all raced our first 5k together. After I completed my first half marathon, I knew that it was time to begin my journey. For so many years I had robbed myself of life. Here I was, with a family who loved me, I was in school bettering myself, and I was still maintaining sobriety!

For the first time it felt like there was endless possibility. I knew I didn't want to waste this life! I decided to throw myself full force into running and that eventually lead me to triathlon. Things got pretty hard there for a few years. As I continued my education, I found myself struggling to balance work, school and family life. At one point I was in school full time, working two jobs, and trying to find time for my family. There were some pretty hard days. I can say without a doubt that training was the only way I coped. It gave me hope to have a race on the horizon. I gave me purpose and reminded me that the stress was worth it.

Every race was a celebration of my life and everyday I decided to go out and train, regardless of the reason or mood, I was celebrating my life. There was so many years that I didn't think I could do any of this. There were so many times that depression clouded my sight of the future or that medication kept me from having hope. It felt like there was no tomorrow. It felt like I didn't deserve happiness. I couldn't have been more wrong.

Today, I celebrate my life. I graduated college with a degree in nutrition (which I've also discovered is my passion). I continue to race triathlon, as you already know. This year I am celebrating 10 years free from depression, self-harm, and addiction. Of course there, are days that I feel down or scared but I know now that I DO have a positive outlet. I know that depression does not have a place in my life and neither does medication or self-harm. If I ever begin to feel those things again, I turn them right into training fuel. I look at my family and I cant even begin to think of what my life would be like without them. I'm strong for them just as much as I am for myself. Everything I do is for them. I want my children to see me and be inspired to do great things. If they ever experience self doubt, I want them to know that there is a positive way to work through their struggles and that medication is NOT the answer.

So here I am, about to train for my first Ironman. Why? Because this has been my journey. When I was little my brother told me about this thing called "Ironman" and said it was the hardest race in the world. I remember him saying that only the strongest athletes could do it. Here I am with years of triathlon and running experience under my belt, years of recovery and mental toughness built into my story. I know that I am that strong athlete!

When I cross that finish line, I truly believe it will be the ultimate celebration of life. Every training day spent represents a hard day that I chose to live through. Every time I made the choice to step out on the pavement or exhaust myself in a pool, I was choosing life rather than the vices that once held me down. I was choosing to keep going even when things felt unbearable. I'm grateful for my past. Without it, I would not be who I am today. The strength I gained from my experiences with addiction and self-harm have brought me to where I am today in my training. I have an Iron will and I know that I can overcome any obstacle. Crossing that finish line means so much more than becoming an Ironman; it means that I am so much stronger than my addiction ever was.

I've also decided to dedicate my journey to become an Ironman to a cause that is near and dear to my heart. Shatterproof is a national organization committed to protecting people from addiction to illicit and prescription drugs. More than that, it strives to end the stigma and suffering of those affected by this disease. It is an organization that truly understands that addiction is a profound public health crisis. One of their many initiatives it to reduce prescription misuse and abuse. They advocate the mandate that both prescribing professionals and dispensing pharmacists utilize their state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMP) and mandate prescribe education on evidence-based prescribing standards.

I will have more information coming in the near future regarding the local fundraising events I will be hosting throughout the year. For now, if you would like support my cause by making a donation, join my team to help raise funds, or just leave me a message of support please feel free visit my Shatterproof Fit page here for more information. I hope you'll take this journey with me and help spread the message that #weareshatterproof.

Happy Running!

Saving for an Ironman

Well babes, it happened! I officially registered for my first FULL Ironman! I've been talking about this for so long that it almost doesn't feel real. Like I'm still just talking about how I'm going to sign up "one day". I'm sure in a few more weeks it will all sink in as my training starts to ramp up and I begin to sleep like a rock and eat all the food. Perhaps I'm getting a bit ahead of myself here. Let me back up a bit first and tell you how this all came to be, because I feel the process of getting to registration was just as important as the training itself.

I decided after my half Ironman in Austin last year that I was going to do my first full Ironman in 2016. Unfortunately, the race sold out the week before Austin (2015) and I didn't have enough time to get the money together.
Something all aspiring Ironmen should know: races sell out FAST and EARLY. Some destination races even sellout in days or hours. Be sure sure you know what to plan for when you pick a race. If you don't know anyone who has done the race you want to do, you can always find good advice on the Ironman Facebook page for that race (ie Ironman Texas).Just join the page and ask around about sellout dates for past years. You can also check the Ironman blog for past years for more details.

I promised myself that I would begin saving for the 2017 race in January of 2016. I was sure that would give me enough time this round. Well, January came and I started to save a few dollars here, a few dollars there, and it was a SLOW SLOW process. I was really trying not to take away from our set budget at all and it literally yielded little to no savings.

I've said this about a million times, but I'm a very frugal person. I have a lot of guilt when it comes to spending money on this addiction hobby of triathlon. What mother wouldn't?! You can easily drop $1,000 on a bike, $150 on shoes, $300 on kits, and this list goes on and on and on! When you have children and you're on a tight budget, it's hard to make excuses for spending that much money on anything other than your kids and bills....especially yourself.

So, with that in mind, I decided to get creative. If I was ever going to come up with enough money for the entry fee without touching our budget or having the guilt of spending money, I knew I needed an alternative source of income.

I started looking for part time jobs. Jobs that I could do on the nights and weekends that wouldn't keep me crazy busy. Traditional part-time jobs just didn't suit me. I just cant picture myself as a waitress again (something I did in high school). I was lucky enough to find my job at Nuun. I would have NEVER thought a job a like that existed.
For the record, if you ever want a fun job that pays well, look for jobs hosting demonstrations. Most beverage and supplement companies hire people to go work at events for them and give out samples and host demos. These jobs pay well for part-time work, take little time, and are just down right FUN. If you've ever been to a race I'm sure you've seen those people in the tents giving out free samples and what not. Some of those people make $20+ an hour to be there. These are companies like Muscle Milk, Zico, Sparkling Water, Red Bull, and many more. My job at Nuun was the bulk of my Ironman fund. I worked weekends here and there for no more than a few hours at time. Most days I was up early and back home before my family even woke up. Not to mention the life time supply of Nuun...winning!

I also recruited my husband to work a couple of the bigger events with me at Nuun. He made it clear when I started that he wanted to attend events and races with me to help set up tents and just hang out in general. He figured it would be something fun we could do together as a couple, but also a way to keep me from breaking my back lifting heavy stuffs. Being the awesome husband he is, he ended up donating those paychecks to me for my Ironman fund. He's such a sweet man!

Another way I made money was through my blog! Every now and then I will get paid to review products or to write nutrition plans for people. It's pretty random, I'm not one of those bloggers who makes a regular annual income through my blog. When I did have an opportunity for a paid campaign or make a little money through my blog this year, I took it and I saved the money from it for Ironman. This was the smallest part of my savings but hey, every little helps.
I also joined grocery rebate programs. Namely, Walmart's savings catcher. If you download the app you can sign up for the program. All you do is keep your Walmart receipts and enter the barcode or QRC code into the savings catcher app. They then compare their prices to competitors in your area. If an item from your receipt is found for a lower price at another store near you, they give you the difference in the form of a rebate. I had $20.00 in rebates the first month! When I saw how beneficial this could be for my Ironman fund I sent a mass text to my family asking for receipts. Don't worry, I told them how it worked and they were happy to help me by donating their receipts in order to contribute to my race savings.  Every time I had $100.00 in rebates I cashed them out for a Walmart gift card (you cant translate rebates to cash). I used that money in store in place of cash and just put the cash towards my savings fund.

Another thing I did was to STOP racing. Yes, you read that right. I stopped racing in 2016. Most smaller races can cost anywhere from $60-$150 per race. When you plan a whole race season you can easily spend several hundreds of dollars in race entry fees. I decided to put off racing until I saved enough money for Ironman Texas. This was probably the hardest part for me, but it helped that I was working for Nuun and was still able to attend races (albeit working them) and hang out for most of spring and summer.

Now, just because I stopped racing that doesn't mean I stopped training. I made this year into a sort of extended off season. I backed off my endurance training and adopted more speed work and a heart rate training plan. I focused on doing real work to improve my performance before I start my 30 week training plan for Ironman Texas. It was just enough to keep me busy, but not enough to really overwhelm me. It was definitely a distraction from the absence of racing.
Lastly, and most importantly, I received an anonymous donation in the amount of $200.00 toward my race entry.  Now, I know not everyone will have a fairy god mother out there like I did, but it could be helpful to let your friends and family know that you are open to donations. I found that my family was very willing to help me when I decided to start saving. I would never out right just ask for money, but the Walmart receipts were a great help and I ended up with almost $200.00 in rebates. Every little bit counts!

I cant begin to express my gratitude to my donor. I have an idea of who it was, but I know they would never admit it. It's funny how the kindness of others can make such a huge impact on someone's life. Last week I thought so much about how I could pay this gift forward. I've been working hard and making plans to give back during my road to Ironman. I don't want to give too much away, but know that I do have plans to pay it forward. More details on that to come in a later post!

So that's it! In case you're wondering my race entry fee was $760.00 plus my annual USAT (USA Triathlon) membership fee of $50.00. That may not be much to some people, but it was a mountain of a bill for me. Especially since I was trying to save for this race without effecting my regular budget. All of the money I used for this race came from secondary income and I'm proud of that. I will continue my savings until race day. The money I save between now and then will go toward hotel and travel costs. We have gathered quite an entourage of people who will be attending the race with us. Including my friend James Kelley who will also be racing. Whatever I save will go to our support crew so that they can have some fun while we're out there becoming Ironmen!

I can't wait to continue this journey. My offical training plan starts in late October so be sure to check back for updates. I'm hoping to post a series dedicated to each week of training. I hope you'll join me.

Happy Running!

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