Thursday, October 23, 2014

Running for a Cause and Celebrating Life

As I mentioned in my last post, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and this past weekend I had the opportunity to run in the Women's 5K Classic, a race that benefits breast and female cancer research and education in the Lehigh Valley, PA.  I ran this race with my sister and met a few of her friends there as well.  [A little history:  This was my sister's very first race last year!  She signed up for a 5K training program last summer and this was the goal race.  As you know, she later went on to run 2 half marathons!]

 
 
The morning of the race was pretty chilly in PA, but I knew I'd warm up right away so I opted to wear shorts and a tshirt.  Being the usual clueless human being that I am, I didn't even think to bring a PINK tshirt home for this race.  Nearly everyone running this race was wearing pink.  The starting line was literally a sea of pinkness.  And then there's Jilly wearing her drab gray Runner's World Half race shirt from last year.  Oh well.  I think it made it easier for my brother-in-law and nephew to pick me out at the finish line! 
 
 
 
This race did not go as well as I'd hoped.  Truth be told, I haven't been training for speed at all this year, and I've been taking it kind of easy since my half marathon last month, however, I finished at least 30-45 seconds slower than I normally run a 5K.  The course was very hilly (my sister said they changed it and it was hillier than last year's) so that was part of it.  [I've also been on a new migraine medicine the past couple of months which has honestly been wreaking havoc on my body!  It's made my workouts and running seem harder and actually made my headaches worse so needless to say, I will be discontinuing it! Anyone else here deal with migraines on the reg?]
 
I started off fast, probably too fast.  My first mile split was 8:14 which is speedy for me.  I then proceeded to POSITIVE split the crap out of this race! Hahahaha.  2nd mile came in at 8:29 and mile 3 was 8:33.  In other words, how NOT to run a 5K.  There were 5 hills in this 3 mile course.  Trying to run fast while also running up and down constant hills is not fun.  By the last hill, I was so nauseous I was pretty certain I was going to puke.  Well, thankfully that didn't happen, but I was not feeling good.  I got some proofs from the race and it's pretty obvious I'm not feeling like a ball of sunshine and rainbows here:
 
 
 
I crossed the finish line and thought, as I do after every 5k, 'Thank God that's over'!
 
Official time:  26:13.  (146/1984 runners; 12/67 in 35-39 age group) And that my friends, is my slowest 5K ever! Yippee! 
 
However, the point of this race was not the running at all.  I ran this race for a cause far greater than a PR.  There were many breast cancer survivors in attendance who walked, ran or spectated, and there were markers along the course dedicated to women who lost their battles against the disease.  That sobered me up real fast.  I am running for people who can't, and for people who may never be able to run again.  There will always be another 5K.  I will have the chance to run, or improve my times over and over again (God willing) but this race was about raising money and awareness for a disease that has taken the lives of far too many women and I'm glad I could participate in that cause.
 
 
In addition to running that race, I had a lot going on back home this weekend.  I took part in celebrating two family members' birthdays.  One was turning 2, the other 89. 
 
After the 5K on Saturday, I headed to my cousin's house to attend the birthday party of one of my godsons.  Watching a 2 year devour birthday cake is up there on the list of most entertaining things ever.  The kid doesn't know many words, but he definitely knows the word "CAKE".  He was literally shouting it out over and over between bites, which then devolved into hysterical joyous giggle fits.  It was outrageously cute. 
 
 
It should really be socially acceptable for people of all ages, and not just toddlers, to dive head first into our birthday cake and eat it with wild abandon.
 
 
On Sunday, my parents invited everyone over to their house to celebrate my grandfather's 89th birthday.  To tell you the truth, I can never keep track of my grandparent's ages, but I had no idea he was that old!  He is still so spry and youthful.  He exercises, golfs and still volunteers at the local library. 
 


 
 
 
He celebrated with cake and like any good Italian, a shot of Sambuca.  BARF!  My Pop Pop has added a shot of Sambuca to his coffee for as long as I can remember.  At every holiday or family gathering, he offers his cherished drink to everyone at the table, and we all refuse.  Nonetheless, everyone in my family always has a bottle of it in their house, specifically for Pop Pop!  The smell alone of that licorice flavored spirit makes me want to vomit.  After cake, my cousins, aunts and grandparents sat around and engaged in some light dinner convo on the topic of Ebola.  Good times.
 

 
Running the breast cancer 5K and celebrating the birthdays of those I loved this weekend made me a little more grateful for my health and my family, and made me say a little prayer for those who are not so lucky.
 
 
If you haven't checked out my last post yet, you can check out Skechers limited release breast cancer awareness products here.

 


Anyone running in any races to benefit breast cancer initiatives this month?

Tell me about your last 5K race!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Who Will You Wear Them For? Skechers for Breast Cancer Awareness

As many of you know, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Breast cancer is a disease that has probably touched or affected many of us in some way.  I personally have two very special aunts who were diagnosed, treated, and defeated the illness so this is a cause that is near to my heart. 

About 10 years ago, I also had a scare of my own.  I found a lump in my breast and admittedly waited awhile to tell my doctor.  Although he examined me and tried to aspirate the lump in the office, he was unable to determine what it was.  I therefore had to have surgery to have the entire lump removed and then biopsied, which thankfully came out benign.  Now, I'm left only with a scar on my left breast and the reminder of how lucky I was back then.  However, there is a fairly strong history of the disease on my mother's side, so I also had to have a baseline mammogram at the age of 30 (most women start screening at age 40), which also came out clean.  So now you know more about my boobs than you probably wanted to, BUT why am I sharing all of this with you?

Well, I was made aware that Skechers was supporting the American Cancer Society this month with limited edition pink shoes and apparel, and now I'm glad to be spreading the word about their Breast Cancer Awareness line with all of you.

A few years ago, Skechers started getting serious about designing sport-specific walking and running shoes and launched their Performance Division.  I think they really started gaining some notoriety in the running community recently when Meb Keflezighi became their sponsored athlete, and ultimately won this year's Boston Marathon in his Skechers GOrun shoes!

For this campaign, I was sent a pair of Skechers GOwalk 2 Flash Awareness shoes.  Here's a little more about these shoes, directly from Skechers:



Skechers GOwalk 2 Flash – Awareness ($69)

Designed with innovative Skechers Performance Division technologies and materials, it's built from top to bottom specifically for walking. Goga Mat Technology comfort insole. Breast Cancer Awareness edition.

• V-Stride technology features unique angled outsole that complements a natural walking gait and promotes fluid stride transitions
• Structured breathable mesh at front for cooling comfort
• Engineered Stability Mesh side panels provide lateral support
• Go sockless - Integrated OrthoLite® anti-microbial sockliner helps inhibit odor and prevent slippage
• Goga Mat Technology cushioned comfort insole
• Resalyte™ Midsole proprietary lightweight injection-molded compound with memory retention helps absorb impact
• Independent circular GOimpulse sensors offer flexibility and feedback for a more responsive walking experience
• A multi-directional traction motif helps enhance footing control

 
 


If you know me IRL, then you know I basically live in sneakers.  True story.  Since I'm a nanny and on my feet all day, my Monday to Friday attire is yoga pants and sneakers.  On the weekends, you can find me chilling in jeans and sneaks too.  It's just how I roll.  Give me a new pair of sneakers and I am like a kid in a candy store.  We all know I love running shoes, but for work and weekends, I need other types of sneakers, so I was super excited to try out the Skechers GOwalks!  So how did they fare?

I am happy to report they are SUPER comfy!  The yoga-mat like material in the insole is insanely cushioned and comfortable.  I often have a problem with sneakers being too narrow in the toe box and I'm happy to report, these have a very roomy, breathable toe box.  My toes were not cramped or crunched at all.  They are super light and flexible, and my feet just feel really good in them.  Plus, I think they look pretty cute with jeans :)





 





Comfort and style aside, it's really inspiring that Skechers designed a line of footwear to support the American Cancer Society.  Having seen several members of my immediate family battle breast cancer, I know what a horrible and rampant disease this is.  It's estimated that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.  Anything that I can do to further research for better prevention, treatment and a cure is time and money well spent.  In fact, I actually ran in the Womens' 5K Classic back home this weekend with my sister, a race that supports and benefits breast and women's cancer initiatives (more on that race later).

You can check out the entire line of Skechers limited edition pink-ribboned shoes and apparel here.  The merchandise is available for purchase online or in Skechers retail stores this month and Skechers will be making a lump sum donation to the American Cancer Society this month from sales of these products. 


*Disclosure:  Today's post was sponsored by Skechers but all opinions are my own.


Have you ever run or walked in any of the new Skechers Performance Division shoes?

Has breast cancer affected your life, or the life of someone you love?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

2 Ingredient Banana Pancakes

Legends of the mystical "2 ingredient pancakes" have been floating around the blogosphere for many moons, so I decided it was finally time to find out for myself if this mythical culinary unicorn did in fact exist.  The lore, frankly, just seemed too good to be true.

There are a few key features of this "recipe" that set my soul on fire.  First and foremost, you only need 2 ingredients.  I'm sold right there.  As someone who does the bare minimum in terms of cooking and meal preparation, I do not have a fully stocked kitchen.  Many times, I'll come across recipes online I'd love to try, only to discover I don't currently have any of the needed ingredients and frankly, wouldn't even know where to procure them!  (ie. almond flour, brewer's yeast)

In addition, these pancakes are healthy and pack a nutritional punch.  They're low-carb, high protein and dairy free!  Pretty much the complete opposite of your standard pancake, hence the reason I rarely eat pancakes, unless they're prepared by me.  Because there's no flour, they're also gluten free.

Alright so I've been sung their praises on blog after blog for months.  Time to find out if they live up to the hype.  I decided to treat myself to these little gems this morning before work.  Most days I'm up and out the door before 7 so taking a little time to sit down to a  hot breakfast was a really nice treat!  (My normal breakfasts lately have been a bowl of cold cereal or a protein shake.)  With the fall weather upon us, it also just feels like the perfect time to be eating pancakes.

Without further ado, I present to you step by step instructions for this incredibly complicated recipe.

INGREDIENTS:
2 eggs
1 banana (ripe)

 
 
DIRECTIONS:

1.  Mush up your banana with a fork in a bowl.  You should be using a fairly ripe banana for this recipe.  Mush as finely as you can because as noted in another blog, if you don't, you're just going to end up with scrambled eggs, with chunks of banana mixed in.  And no one wants that.

2.  Once the banana is finely mushed (technical term I'm sure), add in your 2 eggs and whisk with the fork until combined.  Your batter ends up looking like this:



3.  Spoon batter onto a greased skillet (I used non-stick cooking spray) and cook at medium-low to medium heat.  I started my first pancake out at medium heat, but by the time I got to my 3rd pancake, the pan was getting too hot and I had to crank it down. 

 
 
4.  Check for browning and that flip that baby to side #2:
 
 
 
5.  You're done!  Top with bit of real maple syrup like I did or anything else your heart desires (fruit, nuts, whipped cream, go crazy) and DIG IN:
 


FYI:  1 banana + 2 eggs yielded 3 large pancakes for me, so keep that in mind if you are preparing these for more than one person or an entire family. 
 
VERDICT:
The unicorn does exist!  I enjoyed not only the extreme ease of preparation of these pancakes, but the 'cakes themselves.  They were YUMMY!  They are obviously not quite as doughy or fluffy as regular pancakes, but they tasted like warm banana bread to me.  Mmmmmmmmmmmm.  Healthy comfort food at its finest.
 
*A tip I saw on another blog suggested adding a pinch of baking powder to make them fluffier.  I may try this next time.  I've also seen suggestions to add vanilla extract for flavor, but I actually really liked the banana flavor.



So, what do you think? 

Will you try the infamous 2 ingredient pancakes?! 

Have you tried them already? 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Sometimes, Life is a Battlefield...

 
 
Solid truth right up there.  Oh where to begin.  Last week was extremely trying, thus the blogging absence.  I apologize for being MIA, but I was dealing with an extremely stressful situation most of the week and blogging therefore took a back seat.  By the grace of God/the Universe/every guardian angel in the cosmos and me fighting a seemingly endless battle on my own, I came out on the other side.  In the words of Bob Marley, "You never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only choice".
 
So many thoughts were going through my head as I struggled last week, some of them productive, many of them not:
 
1.  My first thought was, 'Why me?'.  Why was this happening to me?  I know we all probably ask ourselves this when bad things happen to us, but you know what, 'why not me'?  Unfortunate events can happen to anyone.  [I tend to forget at times like these, that I am also the benefactor of many really good things too.  It's all about balance.] 
 
2.  I often then jump to, 'What did I do to deserve this'.  Also not helpful, and pretty self destructive.  I tend to think that I must've done something wrong to deserve whatever unfortunate event I am now in the midst of.  A wise person from my past once told me this is complete baloney.  I need to keep this in mind more often.  Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason.  Accidents just happen.  Hence, the meaning of the word 'accident'.
 
3.  I also spent my week dealing with a few people who were incredibly rude, dismissive and extremely unhelpful to me throughout the entire ordeal.  I so often try to understand what other people are thinking or try to understand how humans can disrespect each other so much, but these thoughts are again futile.  I was talking to my dad on Friday night relaying some of the conversations I had over the week and he shared with me another great truth - some people simply will not care about you.  It's a big wide world full of millions of people and I know this to be true, but it's completely against my nature to believe this.  I mean, my life's work is built upon caring for people to whom I have no relation, and yet I do, honestly, earnestly and whole heartedly care about them, and generally try to treat every person I interact with with respect.
 
I really think humanity needs to wake up and realize that we are ALL connected. We are all one giant family, and getting ahead by putting someone else down, is really just moving the whole of humanity back one giant step.  Our collective consciousness suffers every time we do harm to another member of the human race. 
 
By the end of the week I was pretty much emotionally drained.  I consider myself to be a strong, independent person, but every once in awhile, in situations like these, I wish I had someone else along side me, not to fight my battles for me, but just for emotional support.  Life can be really really hard going it alone every single day, and although I've proven over the years I can pretty much do anything alone, sometimes I just don't want to.  Sometimes, I just wish I had someone to lean on...
 
 
 
Annnnnnnd, sorry for the pretty depressing post today, but that was my week and I gotta keep it real on here.  Standard Jill shenanigans to ensue later this week.
 
 
 
What do you do when life hands you lemons?
 
 
 
 

 

 
 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Things I Did & Didn't Do This Weekend

 
 
DIDN'T...set an alarm either day.
 
DID...sleep in past nine both Saturday and Sunday.  It had been weeks since I'd done that.  Between getting up with the kids at my sister's the week before and then coming back and working Sunday through Friday this week, I was literally counting down the hours on Friday to when I could get in my bed and sleep with no agenda or wake-up call the next morning.  Heaven!
 
DIDN'T...drink any alcohol this weekend.  Or go 'out' for that matter.  I haven't been feeling 'drinky' lately.  Rolling with it.
 
DID... a lot of thinking about this book that I just finished reading last week:
 
 
DIDN'T...clean or vacuum my apartment.  This prob should have been a DID but Oh well.
 
DID...stop by a new-to-me vegan cafĂ© - Sprout - for a green smoothie and it was yummy. 
 
DIDN'T...work out Saturday.
 
DID...run Friday and Sunday.
 
DIDN'T...get out my Fall clothes yet or switch around my closet. Still wearing flip flops and t-shirts over here.  This is going to need to happen soon.
 
DID...finally watch The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and loved it.  The scenery was amazing.  I now want to go to Iceland.  Plus, I always enjoy the sweet vulnerability, humor and giant ears of Mr. Stiller.
 
DIDN'T...enjoy the colder weather yesterday.  Not one bit.  I have 0 use for cold weather.  I'm in Fall denial.  **See state of my closet above.
 
DID...get a random text from someone who saw me on a Veep rerun this weekend!  Remember that time I was an extra on the show last year?!
 
 
DIDN'T...get my hair cut.  I was hoping to make an appointment to do this since it's been over two years since my last one but it didn't happen.
 
DID...however receive compliments on said hair from 3 separate random strangers while I was out and about this weekend so I guess that means it can't be THAT bad?!
 
DIDN'T...eat enough vegetables.  I am craving a giant salad and have no spinach or greens in my house.
 
DID...get a wax.  TMI?!!  Oh well.  I like a good bikini wax.  And now you know.  You're welcome.
 
DIDN'T...plan out the rest of my life, but
 
DID...update my resume!  It's been a year since I've taken that thing to task and though it was annoying, it's done.  Oh how I love reducing my life's work to one sheet of paper. 
 
 
 
So tell me, what DID or DIDN'T you do this weekend?!
 
 
 
 


Thursday, October 2, 2014

It's a Confidence Thing

 
Yesterday, I had to drop off my car for some repairs that are going take a week or two, so I needed to pick up a rental car in the meantime.  The rental company was nice enough to meet me at the repair shop and shuttle me to their location to pick up the car.  The driver was a younger gentleman and we had a nice chat on the ride over.  At some point he mentioned his colleague was picking up the car he thought was going to be mine and it was an SUV.  I immediately just blurted out 'Oh, I can't drive an SUV'. Hahaha So smooth Jilly, really.  He started giggling and said 'Aww I'm sure you can.  It's just a confidence thing.  It's all in your head'.  Wise words my man, wise words.  You see, I drive a tiny little economy size car.  It's petite just like me and super fuel efficient, which I love.  It's totally within my comfort zone and that's the way I like it [TYPICAL].  I don't like change.  I mean, I'm getting better with it in general, but still.  Fear of change is just human nature, but it's something we must overcome again and again in our lives to grow. 
 
Anywhooo, getting back to my story.  So, we finally get to the rental car site and this wise sage drops me off at the office.  After being checked in by another nice gentleman, and having apparently learned nothing from my exchange with the driver, I nonchalantly tell this guy that there's a rumor going around that my rental is going to be an SUV.  'Oh no, he says, we've got you in a [insert large family sedan model here]'.  And once again, I come back with, 'Oh, that's pretty big isn't it? I don't think I can drive that'.  Hahaha what is wrong with me?!  So yada, yada, yada he's handing me paperwork, I'm signing my life over, and we go out to inspect the car.  And I'm walking around thinking this thing is boat sized and ask the man if they have anything smaller.  'No, unfortunately this is all we have today.  You'll do fine.  It's all about confidence!'.  Deja vu and worst student of life ever right here.  I love when the Universe has to SHOUT lessons at me. 
 
So I drive the boat/family sedan/ok, actually normal size car home last night going about 20 mph under the speed limit and acting like I have no idea how to maneuver a vehicle, even though I've been successfully operating them since the age of 16.  As you may have predicted, I survived and made it home in one piece.
 
That night I thought about the eerily similar message given to me that afternoon by two separate people and it was of course, as these things usually are, just right for me at that time.  I am not the most confident person.  Even when doing things I inherently know I'm good at, I still doubt myself, and especially downplay my strengths when talking to other people.  I take modesty and humility to the extreme but I also think there is a little voice inside of me on many occasions telling me I'm probably going to fail. 
 
The thing is, if you don't have confidence in yourself, why should anyone else?  Thinking you can is half the battle.  If you doubt yourself going into something, you're already placing yourself at the back of the pack.  Think about the hiring process for any type of job.  No one wants to hire or place their trust in someone who comes off as unsure and insecure in their abilities.  Why would you hire someone, for example, to paint your house whose best sales pitch is that they'll give it a shot but it'll probably come out wrong?!  In the same way, if you go into a race doubting your training and ability, you're already setting yourself up for failure.
 
Downplaying your own abilities and planting the seeds of your doubt in everyone else's mind will not get you anywhere you want to go.  In running, in your career, or just in your LIFE.  I know this, yet I continue to do it.
 
I'm sure this is part of the reason I have hesitated in taking some next steps in my life.  I like my comfort zone.  Don't we all?  But there is no growth or reward to be had in comfort.
 
The lesson was heeded (for now at least) and things changed as I got back into the rental car this morning.  I stepped into that thing a whole new person, and drove that behemoth of a family sedan like I OWNED that b**ch. 
 
I'm ready world.  Bring on the SUVs.
 
 
 
 
 
How self confident are you?
 
What holds you back from being more confident in your abilities?
 
What do you do to boost your confidence when doing something new or hard?
 
 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Sweet Georgia Peaches

Hey y'all!  I'm back after spending a week down south visiting my sister and her family and meeting my newest niece:

2 weeks old!
 
 
If you are anything like me and think there is nothing sweeter in this world than teeny tiny baby faces & hands & toes, then please accept these photos as my gifts to you:



 
 
 
 
 

My sister was 2 weeks post-partum when I arrived so she was still dealing with a fair amount of pain (from the C-section) as well as sleep deprivation!  So it was my job while I was there to step in and do as many of her duties as I could.  Mostly this meant taking care of my 1 and 4 year old nephew and niece, but I also tried to help out around the house too. 

Remember when I asked you all for easy recipes?  Well, by the grace of God and all of my sister's incredible friends we had meals to eat almost every night!  My sister has a network of mom friends and so many of them brought over cooked dinners while I was there.  Guaranteed I ate far better last week than I normally do at home.  I actually only cooked one night and I made tacos.  I know, I'm a real Betty Crocker.  But the kids and adults alike ate them and no one got food poisoning so that's a WIN!

I did a lot of running around for my sister since she couldn't really leave the house yet.  I think I went to the grocery store 3 times that week and to Target twice?!  [This is apparently standard for a family of 5?!]

Random grocery store finds:

The best vegan gelato I've ever had.  I wish I could find this up North.
 
 
I obvs did not buy these but came across them while shopping and wondered if anyone has ever seen these?!
 

Let me just tell you it is a far different experience grocery shopping with toddlers than when you go alone! Hahaha I'm sure all the moms out there can verify this but I sure do take for granted how easy it is to run errands by myself.  I dk how my sister gets anything done in a timely fashion.  My 23 month old nephew is obsessed with vacuums so every time we went to Target we had to visit the vacuum display so that he could try out at least 10 different vacuums (which we had no intention of buying).  20 minute derailment right there.  Good times.

What else did we do?  Hmmm, I took the kids back and forth to school every day.  I took them both for haircuts one day which was incredibly cute, and of course I forgot my phone that day.  So unfortunately I wasn't able to capture that priceless moment for each of them, but let me assure you they both looked ADORABLE sitting in the big chair draped with a cape. 

It was also still fairly warm down there so we went to the pool and naturally took a selfie:


I took the kids for ice cream one day after school.  It should be noted there is a vast difference in terms of neatness in how a 23 month old and a 4 year old eat soft serve ice cream:

She remained this tidy throughout the entire process :)


\
This was about 1 second in.  He was completely covered approx. 2 mins after this
 

I also took my niece to t-ball one morning:
Tiny body x huge helmet = cuteness x1000
 
 
I got called by my sister's name at least 15-20 times last week.  I kind of just lost count.  When I was out at Kroger or Target I heard random people shouting "Lisa" at me, so now I pretty much just answer to my sister's name when I'm in ATL.  They all told me I looked wonderful for just having had a baby 2 weeks ago.  Yep, thanks!!!
 
In between all this madness, I managed to fit in just 2 runs late-night.  I went out around 9pm after the kids were in bed and ran 4 miles one night and 5mi another.  I now pretty much know my sister's new neighborhood like the back of my hand, even in the pitch dark.
 
In an unfortunate turn of events, I came down with a cold that I contracted from my NannyKid just 2 days after I arrived in Georgia so for the rest of the week, I had to keep my distance from the new baby.  I was so terrified of giving her the cold, but so far she has been ok. 


Last week was such a whirlwind, and as if I didn't already realize moms are pretty much superheroes this week of nonstop action pretty much sealed the deal for me.

 
 
 
With the addition of the newest baby, I now am an Aunt to FOUR nieces and nephews.  How did I get this lucky?!

Hope you all had a great week!  I'm off to tend to my other babies now :)