It’s time to start training…again…

Don’t get me wrong – I love to run. It’s probably the one workout that clears my mind the best.  Allows me to have an hour or so to myself, get outdoors, talk to God, reflect about issues going on in my life, and listen to some good music.  However, when it’s time to start training for a race – sometimes that can be overwhelming.  Knowing that I have a 1/2 marathon in about 2 months is kind of intimidating and then I have another 1/2 only a month after –   the pressure is starting to mount.

Last time I trained for a half marathon, I wished that I would have had some more time.  I pushed myself really hard – and probably advanced in the mileage before I was really ready – but it was do or die time.  This time, I’m doing it right and am using Hal Higdon’s 1/2 Marathon training program which is 12 weeks long.  I am doing the Novice II training program but there are so many different levels that you can choose from to suit you best.  

Today was supposed to be a rest day for me, BUT I can’t ever just rest and I am also participating in the TONE IT UP – Love Your Body Challenge that runs through Valentines Day so…I did their challenge today instead of rest.  It was an interval treadmill workout and I ended up blasting through 6.5 miles in 60 minutes and then walked another .3 miles for a cool down (5 min).  I really should be paying attention to my training schedule for the race but after a busy, stressful day at work, nothing makes me feel better than a good run.

Something that I am missing right now though is running outside.  Living in the Chicago ‘burbs the weather around here really stinks during the winter.  Granted we have had another pretty calm winter with not much snow, but the temps are still in the 30’s and lets face it – I just don’t like to be cold when I run.  So I have resorted to treadmill running which I have learned to embrace.  

The difference between treadmill running and road running is so different so I am trying to make sure I add challenges to the treadmill runs I am doing to compensate at least a bit for this difference.  I run on the treadmill at a 1%-2% incline which stimulates the unevenness of the ground and also makes it so that I have to push off more rather than the treadmill belt doing all of the work for me.   I am also including interval training into my routine which I hope helps with my overall pace time.  

I have decided that I will start posting about my training for these races throughout the next 12-16 weeks or so.  I thought it would be fun to see my progress and also discuss any challenges I am having.  Below is a picture from todays workout – I was a sweaty mess and boy did it feel good.  I usually wear moisture wicking clothing and don’t get to see the sweat that I pour out during my runs but today I wore a regular cotton tank and although I looked pretty gross afterwards – I was happy seeing all of that sweat on my shirt – it makes me feel like I got an even better workout.  Silly probably, I know.  

On tomorrows schedule is a nice short 3 mile run and I will also being doing the new TIU Total Body Toning Routine that they will post on their blog tomorrow.  Link will be posted once they upload.  Until tomorrow…



December 2012 Goals

It’s the start of a new month which means setting new goals and intentions.  This month is usually such a crazy month with holidays, celebrations, parties, shopping, commitments, and an overload of yummy sugar loaded treats.  So here are a few things I hope to accomplish this month in order to stay sane 🙂

–  Get in a booty call (an early AM workout) 3-4 days a week.  This is a HUGE step for me because I am not used to doing this.  Most of my workouts are in the PM as I already have to wake up super early – but I want to make this change in my routine.  Reason is that I find when I workout – when I am done I want to eat healthy.  If I start my day off right, I have less of a chance of wanting to “ruin” what I just did with food throughout the day.

–  Continue my longer runs even though my next half marathon is not until March/April.  I do not want to have to completely retrain when it comes time to run one again.  I’d rather stay on top of my game.

– Plan out my workouts 1 week in advance – have a plan and stick to it!

– Start journaling my workouts and food intake.  I want to keep learning how to eat better and learn how to cook…right now I unfortunately rely on my hubby to cook most of my food (sad but true).  I just never learned and it needs to be made a priority.

– To stay strong during holiday parties and make smart food choices.

– Get more sleep – I want to work on getting a full 7 hours of sleep a day.

– Read at least 2 books during this month that are NOT related to school.

– I am heading off to Palm Springs, CA with my family for vacation for Christmas this year!  Last year it was Tampa so we are excited to be headed West to even sunnier skies.  During this time I want to keep my workouts strong and my food choices even stronger.  No skipping out on BC’s.  Something new I would love to try is hiking.  I just love seeing pictures that people post of them out in the fresh air, taking in the scenery, and getting exercise.  Nothing is better than an amazing workout outside.  Especially when you get to enjoy it with your family.  This will be my daughters first time to California – and her first time on a flight thats more than 1.5 hours long!  Gotta plan for that flight so she doesn’t get bored.

– Rock the Tone It Up Members Only Challenge that starts the 17th of December!  Can not wait to see what K&K have planned for us.  Which reminds me – if you are a follower of TIU – did you see the December calendar?  It’s below if not!




Today I started the 7DSD that was created by Katrina and Karena of Tone It Up.  They are two amazing certified trainers and certified nutrition coaches who have showed me a new side of fitness and heathy eating that I never knew existed.  I was a cardio freak and never ate healthy and was somehow confused on why I wasn’t reaching the goals that I wanted to with my body.

Through the Tone It Up website I learned about their Diet Plan which features a 7 Day Slim Down program that gears you up to be ready for big events, parties, celebrations, vacations, etc.  Any time you are going to need to look your absolute best – this is what you want to do 7 days prior.  You can also do this after a vacation to get you back to clean eating and working out again on a consistent schedule.

I am using it to get ready to go on vacation.  I am headed to California for Christmas and wanted to get ready a couple of weeks in advance – so I am doing this now at the start of December, and most likely again the week before I leave (or a modified version of it).  Something that is really cool about it this time – is that I am doing it with about 9 other TIU sisters.  We started a support group to get us through the 7DSD and make it as successful as possible.  This community is the best!

One part of the plan is that you have to do 2 a day workouts!  So for my 1st cardio workout today I did a 5k run and then a 1/2 mile walk cool down.  I also did quick lower body weights at the gym and some abs.  For my PM workout I did a workout that was posted by Julie who has a blog called Peanut Butter Fingers.  She has AMAZING workouts, tips, articles, etc.  Today I did one that was a circuit workout called Heat Things Up – Winter Circuit Workout.  IT WAS AMAZING!!!  I was dripping sweat by the end of the workout.  I did 3 sets of each circuit with no break and then a 1 minute break in between each grouping or circuit of moves for some H2O.  PHEW!!!  It took me about 20 min so then I did a 10 min walk on the treadmill.

After that I decided to also squeeze in the FAR OUT WORKOUT off of the TONE IT UP app.  If you don’t have this yet and your phone supports it – GET IT!!  WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?  It posts a new workout for you every single day at 7PM CST, has access to the community right on your phone (you are a member of the community right??), links to their blog, and an inspiration board for your phone.  Oh the best part?  You can set up a booty call alarm clock on your phone where K and K personally wake you up!  RISE AND SHINE BABES!

I took measurements right when I woke up this morning – so at the end of the 7 days I will post my results.  I am NOT looking to lose any weight, I just want to tone up my body and make those muscles pop!

Oh and one last thing before I sign off for the night.  There is another amazing blogger named Gina who blogs over at Burning Babi Fat.  She created a #31daysofsweat photo challenge that you can post to your instagram account.  There are 31 days of challenges that involve fitness and photos – two of my favorite things so I’m pretty excited about it. If you are up for the challenge, read more info on it here and make sure to follow her!!

Soon I will do a post on what Tone It Up is all about and what they have done for my life.  There are so many positives it deserves its own post.  Until then…

My 1st Half Marathon



Last weekend I ran my very first half marathon.  I wanted to take a couple of days to really let it all settle in before I posted about it.  It was a physical, mental, and emotional challenge for me and I wanted to make sure that I absorbed it all before sharing my thoughts on it with you.

First of all, let me say that this was one of the most challenging things I have ever done.  The time commitment it took to train for this race was insane – at least for me seeing as how I work full time, go to school full time, and have a family.  I do not honestly know how I had enough hours in the day (ok well sleep suffered a bit) to make sure everything was taken care of while training – but it was so important to me that I completed this race that I made it happen.  That is one of the biggest lessons I learned throughout this process too – that truly if you want something bad enough – you will find a way to fight for it and work hard to achieve it.  Nothing is impossible.

There were a few things I learned along the way and a few things I would do the same and some I would do differently – so I thought I would share them with you.

1.  Find a race and sign up for it.  This goes for any thing you want to train for.  The moment you commit to the race/event – you are tied to it financially (and most races these days are NOT cheap) – so you feel more of a commitment to it then if you just talk about it.  SIGN UP and GET MOVING!!!

2.  Find a training plan that works for you and allow yourself enough time to train.  I luckily know someone who is an avid runner and has been instrumental in getting me ready for my races.  He is an old friend from a previous job in North Carolina and he is someone who lives to run.  It’s all he can think about – so I am very lucky I was able to learn so much from him.  He has created numerous training plans for me – and they have all been amazingly successful in getting me ready in really short amounts of time without getting injured.  If you are unsure of how to train, reach out to a buddy who is a runner for support – read up on running/training – find a great training website.  I have personally never used it – but I hear a lot of people have success with Hal Higdon’s training programs.  You can find his website here:  You can also check out runners magazines and websites for more information.

3.  Buy 2 pairs of shoes to train in – they can be the same ones but just make sure you have two pairs.  The reason for this is that I had one pair that I was training in and expecting to run my race in.  Well, 1 week before the race – they went down the drain.  There was no more support, cushion, shock absorption – NOTHING left in them but the skeleton basically.  I was out on a long training run when almost instantly I felt the shock starting to go through my feet, up my shins, and into my knees.  The most uncomfortable thing ever.  So I had no choice but to get a new pair of shoes 7 days before the longest race of my life.  Not enough time to break them in.  If I would have had two pairs, I could have alternated them and they would not have gotten as much wear and tear and one of them would be ready for race day.  Worst. Mistake. Ever.

4.  Get support from those around you.  Find someone you can share your success with as well as ask questions.  Make sure this person is supportive and willing to be your cheerleader and motivator.  There will be days (if you are like me) where you want NOTHING to do with the roads.  The last thing you want to do is step on the treadmill for a run.  All you want to do is get on the elliptical, bike, take a group fitness class – ANYTHING but that 10 mile training run you had scheduled for today. This is when the person who motivates you most will step in and get your mind back on the right track, talk you through your roller coaster of feelings, and help you put one foot in front of the other.  Keep in mind that some of these days were my most productive because they were not only training me physically but mentally as well – I had to overcome a mental obstacle and you tend to overcome a lot of those on race day.

5.  Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.  I can not say this enough.  So important.  SO important.  Start hydrating your body extra well and be mindful of the foods and drinks you put into your body 4-5 days prior to the race.  A dehydrated body is not a good machine to run with.  Drink up and stay safe.  Listen to your body.  Get to know your body and what it needs.  The day before the race still hydrate but start to taper off.  I personally (this does not go for everyone) can not have anything to drink the morning of the race or I will be spending precious seconds in the bathroom when I could be out getting a PR on the course.  I also listen to my body when I am on the course and if I need water, I grab some and go.  Honestly though, I am usually good with a piece of gum until I am done running – or at least not until the last couple of miles.  But – like I said before – this is so personal – its not the same for everyone so LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.

6.  Pack a race-day bag the night before.  Lay out your running outfit too – complete with your bib and safety pins.  Make sure your outfit is weather appropriate.  You don’t want to be too hot or too cold.  If it’s cold out dress in layers – make sure top layers are ones you don’t mind tossing or losing on the course or ones that you can throw around your waist.  The last thing you want on the morning of your race is to be running late because you can’t find something you need or you can’t decide what to wear.  Figure this out the night before and you will save yourself stress, anxiety, and a headache.  I prepped by packing a bag with the following items.

– chapstick, sunscreen, and baby wipes (to wipe down my hands and face after)

– an extra set of comfortable clothes to change into for the car ride home (I can’t stand being all sweaty nasty after running and stuck in the car)

– extra socks and an extra set of shoes (you can never be too safe)

– a water bottle and a little snack (they usually have stuff post race but just incase you need something before)

– extra headbands/hair-ties/bandanas (whatever you use to put your hair back – bring extra)

– sunglasses

– a foam roller to roll out those tight muscles after your run

– cash (you never know when they will be selling super cute clothes/running gear especially if its a race like the Color Run)

– deodorant

– gum

– running accessories (headphones, ipod/phone holder, running belt, gloves, hat, ear warmers, etc)

**Make sure to have your name somewhere on your bag if they allow gear check at the race.  You want to make sure if somehow their tagging system gets removed from your bag, that they are still able to identify it as yours!!!

7.  Have directions and a map to the race location printed and put INSIDE your race bag.

8.  Trust in your training.  When you get to that starting line – its you and the road ahead.  There is nothing left but to put your trust in your training, know that God will be by your side, and trust in yourself that you are strong enough to finish.  Right before I started my race and to be honest about 6 times throughout the run I almost started crying.  Emotional overload hit me like a sack of bricks and I had to say a little prayer to calm me down and get me through.  I think all of the training and excitement and pressure just came to a head and I was ready to burst.  If that happens, just stay calm, refocus, and know you can do it.

9.  Pace yourself – don’t go out too hard.  I am usually comfortable running at a 10 mile pace.  Slow for some – perfect for me.  I put myself behind the 9:55 pacers and stayed there the first two miles.  Once I got warmed up, I was able to push a bit harder the rest of the race and finished in a time much faster than I anticipated and kept a steady 9:30 pace overall.  Do not go out hard – you will regret it – just take your time getting warmed up and push yourself hard at the end.  The last 1/4-1/2 mile leave it all out on the course and push to the finish line.  The best is sprinting through the finish line when you thought you were totally out of steam.

10.  See if you can recruit someone to come cheer you on.  Seeing a familiar face on the course is sooooo motivating.  Or knowing that someone is waiting for you at the finish line makes it that much sweeter to come through the shoot at the end.  This was the first time my husband had been to a race – let alone see me run one – and I have never seen him so proud of me – I was proud of myself too but it was a great feeling to see him so excited/happy for me because he knew how hard I worked for it.

11.  Read the signs along the course that people are holding up – and enjoy high 5’s from the little kids along the course too.  Even though they are not there for you – they love cheering you on and you can usually find some pretty funny signs that will give you a good laugh.

11.  Lastly, have fun.  Love yourself.  Love yourself for the fact that you decided to do something that some people only talk about.  You are pushing yourself to achieve something you never thought possible – yet it is.  Push hard, train hard, and get rewarded.  Having them put that medal around your neck is the best feeling in the world.

If you have any questions or any other suggestions – feel free to post….I’d love to hear other tips from runners!!

About me…



Well hello!!  My name is Jessica and welcome to my blog!

If I’m being honest I have started probably close to a million blogs (ok at least a handful) and have never gotten past the first entry.  I always start them and never continue and I’ve decided thats just not going to happen this time around.  I’ve taken a lot of time to think about starting a blog over the past month and I have been inspired by a LOT of people sharing their stories via blogs and thought that it would be a great place for me to share my story, my successes, my struggles, inspirations, etc as well.

A bit about me…I am a 30 year old mom of 1, wife to a musician, full time employee, and full time student!  I decided after 10 years of holding off my dreams of getting a college degree to finally suck it up and go for it – so that is what I am doing.  Working full time and raising a family and going to school while trying to reach my fitness/health goals has been challenging but the reward of it all has been fulfilling.

I absolutely love fitness, learning how to feed my body the right foods, trying to figure out how to cook these good foods (I’m pretty much THE WORST cook in the world), and making my health a priority.  I am one who is terrified of the way the country is going in terms of health and fitness and hope that some how we turn it around so that the current generation of kids out there are able to live long and health lives – because as of right now – this is probably the first generation that will not live as long as their parents did because of bad health/lifestyle choices taught to them at a young age.

I am a HUGE fanatic of magazines…I keep them for way too long because I feel like I will always go back and reference at least one article.  I also love to read books, although with school it seems like the only thing I’m reading are textbooks.  If you have any suggestions – I’d love the recommendation!

My daughter Juliana, is 10 years old and is absolutely the most interesting person I have ever met in my life.  She is so full of life, creativity, energy, happiness, and she loves to be herself which I admire so much. She doesn’t mind being a girlie girl, but she also loves getting dirty playing football with the boys at recess.  She has the sweetest singing voice – although at 7 am on a Saturday – I could use the ear plugs   She is starting to love and learn fitness as much as I do and that makes me smile so much.  


I am married to a musician who is so talented it makes my mind spin.  I don’t know how he is able to create the music he does because I am musically challenged.  He literally lives and breathes his passion and it makes me so happy to see him up on stage doing what he loves. I just hope that one day the world can see how talented he really is and all of his hard work pays off.  He deserves it.

I hope that I am able to share with you some of the things that I am doing such as training for races, trying new activities/exercises, sharing my Tone It Up! journey (more on this later), what I have learned along the way, recipes, product reviews, etc.

If you have ANY questions for me, please let me know.  I am an open book and am ready to share as much as I can with you.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope you are ready to come along for the journey.