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Give Thanks

Give Thanks

Thanksgiving. I can’t believe the holiday season is officially here! Can you believe it?! I have so much to be thankful for..my friends, family, hubby, my health etc…this Thanksgiving I was especially mindful of everything I hold dear in my life. Forget the Black Friday deals and the buy 2 for 1 crap, I’m talking about the stuff that doesn’t come with a price tag. I.e. the calls you get from your parents to see how things are going, sitting down at the dinner table with family you haven’t seen in a little while, making memories with family and friends and holding onto those things for as long as possible. Last week, I lost my baby Apollo. He was pretty much even more popular than I ever was on any kind of social media platform. He was full of attitude as he was fluffy…I still can’t believe he’s gone. It was so sudden. One day he was fine, and then once we got a hint that something might be wrong, the vet told us that his liver was failing and that it was likely cancer. We had the most difficult decision to make…and that was to put him down. He was in pain and with tests, meds, feeding tubes…he might have been able to live another week. I know he would have hated living like that. It was a decision I didn’t even expect to make years upon years from now. He was still so young. Anyone who’s had or has a furbaby knows that they become part of the family pretty fast. They’re there for you through everything and just keep on loving unconditionally. I miss him so much. I don’t know what’s worse, losing him suddenly or having more time with the same outcome.

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So in light of losing one of our beloved furbabies, Thanksgiving was a day where I really had to take some time out and count my blessings. You never know when someone/something really throws a wrench into your life and you lose something or someone so close to your heart. On Thanksgiving, I had the whole morning to think about everything I was thankful for and did just that during my long run. (In anticipation of the meal that was ahead of me, I threw in some extra miles for good measure). Lucky for me, it wasn’t too windy and the weather was quite nice. By the time I got back, full of sweat, and out of breath, it was time to hydrate and relax while watching the Macy’s Day parade (tradition). Luigi has been kicking it into high gear and making sure he’s been extra snuggly since we lost our Apollo. They were best buds, so it’s been hard for him too I’m sure. But really, how can one NOT laugh at how silly he is? He wins. My heart might be feeling heavy, but it sure is full.

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Running and/or a hardcore gym sesh isn’t just about fitness, sometimes it’s about what it does for your head. It clears it up and kicks those negative thoughts to the curb. I’m a huge advocate of how running is cheaper than therapy. Sad? Go for a run. Frustrated about how a day went at work? Go for a run. Can’t figure out how to solve a problem? Go for a run. Ruined your favorite shirt in the wash? Run fast. Some of my best ideas have come from just sweating it out. I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and had the chance to spend some time with their loved ones over some delicious turkey, stuffing, one too many dinner rolls and of course some pumpkin pie. I heard somewhere that the average person eats  over 4,200 calories on Thanksgiving…just some food for thought, not the stomach. Spread the love and make memories.

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Life Happenings – We Are the Champions!

Life Happenings – We Are the Champions!

There comes a time when this thing called life happens and documenting it from day to day just isn’t feasible. Especially when exciting things that haven’t happened in over 100 years HAPPEN. Yes, I’m going to start this October/November roundup with THE CUBS. It was a surreal game to watch. We blew the lead twice…and WON THE WORLD SERIES. Heart palpitations, high blood pressure, high anxiety, almost feeling like I just might throw up all over the hundred other Cubs fans that were around me at the bar we were at. BUT WE WON. Absolutely nothing could match the joy of waking up to this that morning.

 

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Feelings of holy shit it happened, extreme happiness, jumping up and down, screaming the lyrics to the Cubs anthem….and flying that W! It was a night I’ll never forget. It was so emotional watching all of the older Cubs fans who have been waiting for this moment for so long. Just a couple days after their historic win, I also was cleared to attend the parade that reported to be the 7th largest human gathering in the world. I opted to go to Wrigley where the parade started. I needed to see this…

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This made it so real.

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While some bosses and HR departments were saying not to skip work for this day, mine was right beside me. Although it was nothing short of crazy dealing with all of the people on the train and getting a primo viewing spot, I have zero regrets. Seeing these guys bring that trophy home was priceless.

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It was a perfect day all around. The only thing that did piss me off were the countless teens just looking to see where the “most epic party” was. Go back to school kids. The hubs has even rewatched the final game numerous times and all of the highlights. It’s just something a dedicated Cubs fan can’t get enough of. We did it. WE FINALLY DID IT. Oh and don’t even get me started on the cray-sauce people in line at Dick’s Sporting Goods after the win. The hubs and I went to see how bad the line would be…we couldn’t even see the end of the line it was so long. INSANE. Online shopping, you ridiculously convenient, sexy monster you. My heart will be full because of this Cubs win for quite some time. GO CUBS GOOOOO.

That Sunday I had a half marathon to run – the Milwaukee Running Festival. I just HAD to represent my Cubs with my race day apparel. Obviously. Although it was FREEZING out in the morning, it warmed up pretty fast. This sunrise was a precursor to how epic of a race this ended up to be.

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Little did I know that Milwaukee is FULL of steady inclines and hills. The first half of the course was either up steep hills or a steady incline. My. Lord.  The hubs and my in-laws came to cheer me on and man did I ever need them! Their cheers definitely helped me pull through each mile. Little did I know that I would end up with a PR by 8 MINUTES. I haven’t PRed since my injury late last year so I felt like I could cry. In fact, I probably did just because my glutes just took a horrific beating from those hills. I definitely worked hard for this medal.

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This time of the year is my favorite. The holidays are right around the corner and the wedding is absolutely perfect for running around the neighborhood. With tensions so high about the election, I’m going to just leave that out and say that we need to love and come together as a nation. This roundup was short and quick and I’m leaving a lot out, but I hope everyone starts this week out right and make it amazing!

Cheers!

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The Holidays = The Anti-Fitness Blog Post

The Holidays = The Anti-Fitness Blog Post

I’m not about to sugarcoat this post (pun intended) with how I avoided all of Christmas cookies, wine and my aunt’s famous lasagna…because…well I didn’t. Oops. I did however kee up with my workouts and runs so the damage wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Also, I kept up the Christmas spirit despite this crazy, warm weather by jamming out to Nsync’s Christmas album during my runs. Don’t judge. #90schild.

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It’s really hard to find an excuse not to go for a run when it’s been in the 50’s in DECEMBER. Ummm I live in Chicagoland right? I’ve been really lazy about foam rolling so that’s the only reason why my mileage has been suffering for the past couple of weeks. If every mile was a Christmas cookie…I’m definitely coming up short. I’ll own up to it. I ate many of these cookies. And I liked it. I liked it A LOT.

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I also managed to find the highly coveted blonde roast holiday blonde at Starbucks. This blue bag of amazingness is IMPOSSIBLE to find and I just so happened to come across a bag. Merry Christmas to me!!

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This Christmas was both really hard and really special this year. It was hard because Christmas was celebrated for the first time without my cousin and really special because it’s his passing that made everyone really appreciate the holidays and spending them with family. I’m always so bummed when the holiday season is over. I never get enough time with my extended family. I think with 2016 coming around the corner, that needs to change.

I also love watching my fam open up their gifts that I got them too though. We spent Christmas Eve with his side of the family and Christmas Day with my family. My hubs and family definitely get me too. I scored some gift cards to feed my Starbucks and reading addictions, wireless powerbeats and an amazing pair of InkNBurn running tights. Oh and ummm Vegas 2016 hellloooo!

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The wireless powerbeats are also going to be SO amazing on my runs and working out. The sound quality is amazing and I can say goodbye to wires smacking me in the face!

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Oh and let’s not forget about how my hubs got me the single best Christmas sweater EVER.

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These gifts had me BEGGING to go out for another run asap. But not before more Christmas celebrating with my side of the fam. By the time we were done, we were exhausted, full of wine and too much food.

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However before I got to enjoy my new running tights…at approximately 4 a.m. the following morning…my body decided to come down with the stomach flu. I guess my body just decided to get rid of all the extra calories I consumed over the holidays all at once. Thanks? Yeesh. At least it waited until after the holidays. Now this whole fiasco will just give me an excuse to enjoy the Christmas tree for that much longer. 😀

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I hope everyone else had a fabulous holiday!

Cheers!

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Dear Cancer, You Didn’t Win.

Dear Cancer, You Didn’t Win.

As many of you have read before, I ran the Chicago marathon as part of the American Cancer Society’s team, DetermiNation in honor of my cousin Jeff. He was diagnosed with  uveal melanoma, a rare form of ocular cancer in 2013 and has been fighting hard since. Many treatments and fast forward to this summer, things were getting tough, but as always he always had a smile on his face and was full of life. Pretty much giving cancer a big middle finger. It would absolutely not cramp his style. His life. He would always check up on me and ask how my training was doing and when it came to the big race day, he was the first one there to meet up with me after crossing the finish line.

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I always told him that his strength helped me pull through the race and that this was for him. I didn’t run through one mile without thinking how amazing and strong of a person he was for smiling through all of the traveling to get the treatments he needed, how selfless he was despite his condition and how he never for one second let his condition break his spirit and love for life.

Just a few weeks ago I heard that Jeff’s health was severely declining. Since it’s been unseasonably warm out, the family lake house was still open for business. The lake house is THE family meetup place during the whole summer and Jeff has always been the ringleader of everything that was fun there….boating, wakeboarding, skiing, tubing, lighting fireworks off of the dock…we just talked and were just in the moment…trying not to focus on the bad health updates and just sharing some laughs. Before I had to leave, he hugged me a little tighter than usual.

A couple of weeks ago, my mom let me know that Jeff was going to have hospice set up at his home. A million things were running through my head along with many tears and angry yelling…but the one thing I can say over and over again is, “it isn’t fair.” It isn’t fair that the one person who loved life the most and pretty had the status of best human being ever…was now given such a grim outlook. It’s not fair.

The hubs and I visited him on a Saturday armed with his purple Gatorade – one of the few he could have – and we just talked and watched videos of his daughter’s first ballet class she just came back from…that Monday on December 7th…I got a call from my other cousin saying that Jeff had passed away peacefully that morning at home…I didn’t know my heart could splinter into a million little pieces with just a few words. I knew what my cousin had said, but I still find it really hard to register…even now. Jeff was the brother I never had. He was always the one to sit at the kids table, dance and sing along to boy band songs especially back when I was obsessed with NSYNC, he always made everyone feel loved and welcome. Then cancer just fucked everything up.

When the news hit the Internet, FLOODS of photos from his hundreds of friends, family, coworkers and anyone else he crossed paths with posted photos and messages on how amazing of a person he was and it really was a testament to how many lives he touched. He always had a smile on his face. He was always the one to crack a joke and spread the fun.

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My heart breaks for his little girl who is only three years old and his wife. This week was hard to get through, but every time I wanted to just mope and do nothing on any particular day…I would just think how much Jeff wouldn’t want that. Heaven gained its best angel and while he isn’t here physically on earth I can still feel him. I feel him when a new boy band song hits the airwaves, when I run and feel like I can’t run another mile, when I’m feeling sad and need to smile and especially when I need to feel strong and to remember that we need to live each day to its fullest. Just like he did.

Jeff, cancer may have taken your life too soon, but you never let it take your spirit and smile…and with that…cancer didn’t win. May you rest in peace. I will miss you so much.

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With the heaviest of hearts,

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Weekend Update

Weekend Update

Hello blogosphere! I know, I know, I’ve been on quite the blogging hiatus…because well…adulting. Between work, conjuring up content for my book, the holidays, family emergencies, that leaves well…zero time for blogging. The good thing is that my fitness game hasn’t completely failed despite the basket full of leftover Halloween candy that is still haunting me on my dining room table. Those fun size Twix bars are taunting me…really…the following are measures I’ve taken to prevent myself from indulging.

  • Think how not cute my skinny jeans would look like if I ate all of those “fun” size candy bars…yeah a developed muffin top? Not so fun.
  • Curse at the basket of candy and stomp my way over to the TV to queue up an Insanity workout.
  • Convince yourself that if you give in to temptation, where does it end? You wanted to blow your whole paycheck on that Nordstrom sale…why not give in to that too? I have a few choice words for upper management at work, why not make that a reality? Oh because I would be jobless, poor, unable to pay my bills and too fat to fit into the cute clothes I wasted my whole paycheck on. See what giving into temptation does? Don’t do it.

With the holidays coming up, struggling to make healthier choices and to not eat for five is quite difficult. If your family is like mine, you’re not done until you’re about to give birth to a giant food baby. According to some studies, the average person will gain around 6-8lbs during the holidays. Excuse me while I go into a complete state of panic. I refuse to be a statistic!!! That slice of pumpkin pie sure does look delicious…but it won’t look half as good sitting around my midsection. So in order to avoid this dreaded holiday weight gain and to continue on with my fitness game, my running/weights game needs to stay strong. And I don’t know what motivates you guys, but new running gear does the trick!

Exhibit A: New Shoes

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This is my first pair of Saucony Triumph running shoes and I have to say, I’m a fan. They’re light on my feet, provide a lot of cushion and have me pounding the pavement effortlessly for miles. A+! Not to mention….ummm they’re hot pink. Win.

Exhibit B: A Garmin.

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Before I was fortunate enough to run with one of these, I thought I didn’t need one. Well…I have to say, it’s a game changer for any runner. It tracks your stats whether you’re swimming, running or cycling, calories burned, your routes and the best part…this model tracks your heart rate through your wrist so you don’t have to worry about an annoying chest strap. I loathe this time of the year since it’s so dark out by the time I get home which means running at night or on the dreadmill, but it makes me appreciate my long weekend runs even more. Helllloooo blue sky!!!

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And in regards to recent events, let’s spread some love today shall we? Compliment someone you don’t know, pay for someone else’s coffee while you’re in line, make someone smile! And just so you know, reader, you look absolutely fabulous today.

 

Cheers!

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“Have a Great Run”

“Have a Great Run”

Wow is it Friday already? Thursday night I didn’t get the best news. I got a call from my dad saying that my uncle passed away in his sleep. To say I was stunned would be an understatement. I just emailed him a few days prior talking to him about me registering for the Chicago Marathon. This isn’t happening. It can’t. What happened? How did this happen? So many unanswered questions. It happened so suddenly. Although it is a blessing that he passed away peacefully. At least for that…I like to think that he wasn’t in any pain. He’s in the center in the photo below with my other uncle and my Dad who is on the far right. The three amigos.

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He’s had a full and wonderful life seeing his kids grow up and have kids of their own. The sky will shine a little brighter each night. His last words to me were to “have a great run.” Those words have been with me every single time I’ve hit the pavement since and will be going forward. He’s always been so supportive and giving. This is also the father of my cousin who is battling cancer. It’s been rough. HOWEVER…yes…I will have a great run…especially next week when I have my Soldier Field 10 Mile race. I’ll be thinking of my uncle each and every mile and I will make it my greatest run yet.

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So hug your family and friends a little tighter today. Don’t put off telling them how much you love them or how much they mean to you. Don’t let your busy life prevent you from having a simple cup of coffee with your loved ones or have a night out with them just because you couldn’t get away or had other plans that really weren’t as important. You never know when that chance will be taken away from you. Rest in peace Uncle Armand. <3

Cheers,

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