29 May 2013

who am i to disagree with jillian michaels?

Ever have one of those weekends that was just so full of family and friends and fabulousness that everything else falls behind? That would be me this past weekend.

Sissy and her fiancee (their wedding is exactly one month away!) and part of his family were all in town because we were having the family bridal shower on Sunday. So Saturday night I headed down to Stars Hollow for a cookout with everyone. This was my first time meeting his family and as soon as I realized his aunts and cousins reminded me of my aunts and cousins I knew we would all get along famously.

So that was Saturday night and the bridal shower was Sunday afternoon and then Sunday night I headed back to the Land of Cleves for a cookout with friends and a Bluth Bonanza (aka watching the new season of Arrested Development on Netflix) and, well, time got away from me and blogging just kinda got pushed to the back burner, hence no usual Monday post.

And honestly? I'm totally okay with that.

Right. Okay, so, one thing I've always loved about Twitter is the way it lets you connect with celebrities (even though I am fully aware they usually have assistants paid to tweet for them). Like that time I got into a debate with Penn Jillette. Or how about that time last week when Puff Daddy P. Diddy Sean Combs and I discussed Doctor Who.

Okay, well, I discussed Doctor Who.

Now, y'all know I love me some Jillian Michaels. So it should come as no surprise that I would follow her on Twitter. I own her Shred It With Weights video through Amazon Instant, which means I can stream it through my Wii. I lurve it and have found I really enjoy doing workout videos. The key, it seems, is to be able to mix it up. I think one reason I've gotten bored with previous workout videos is I'm doing the same one over and over and over again. The Shred It With Weights has two levels which I can mix up. Some days I'll do Level 2, the next Level 1. Hell, some days I'll do both back to back.

Because apparently I enjoy torturing myself.

I had a few dollars left on an Amazon gift card and decided it was a good opportunity to expand my workout video collection. Naturally I went looking at the other Jillian Michaels videos and was debating getting her 30 Day Shred. Of course, having access to a huge healthy living social network, I went to Twitter for advice.

And then this happened.

I believe that should be "and you get..."

Well then. Guess that takes care of that.

So far I've only done Level 1 of Ripped in 30 but I am really enjoying the 3-2-1 Program: 3 minutes of strength followed by 2 minutes of cardio followed by 1 minute of abs, broken down into three circuits. Like her other videos, each workout includes a warm up and cool down and is roughly 30 minutes long. It's perfect for before work but on weekends I've also done the back-to-back videos by doing Ripped with one of her Kettle bell workouts, too.

Again, because apparently I enjoy torture.

Do you have a favorite workout video?

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

24 May 2013

hey. hey, you. yes. YOU.

I'm writing this post as part of the What's Beautiful campaign courtesy of FitFluential and Under Armour. 

So, I don't know you. Or maybe I do. Maybe you're a regular reader or perhaps you found yourself landing on this blog post thanks to the magical world of Google (or Bing. Whatever. I don't judge). I don't know you. I don't know your age or gender. I don't know where you are on your journey. Perhaps you have just started, taken those first steps to completely changing your life. Perhaps you have been at this for awhile now and have found your groove. Or you could be at the end, have already hit goal and are tackling the beast of maintenance. Maybe weight has never been an issue for you and you're just working on getting fit and healthy.

Or maybe, just  maybe, you're right on the edge of beginning. You know you need to. You know you want to. You just need that little extra push. That magic moment to set you off on the journey of your lifetime.

Regardless of who you are or how you happened to be reading this blog, I have something to tell you. A secret, if you will. It's something I've been wanting to say for awhile now I've just been struggling with the right wording. But I have it now, so come on, lean in close.

Here it goes:

You are beautiful. You are loved.

You are utterly and completely flawless exactly as you are. 

Notice I didn't say perfect. Nobody is perfect. They don't even talk about perfect diamonds. Instead, diamonds are graded on a scale of flaws, with the highest grade being flawless.

But wait, you're probably saying. Everybody has flaws. Even diamonds, like you just said. So how can we be flawless?

What are flaws, though, and why are they necessarily bad? Even a diamond with some flaws is still a fucking diamond, right?

Those tiny imperfections you hate about yourself? They aren't imperfections. Those are the layered facets of your personality that make you who you are. They are cut and shaped with every action you take, every word you speak. Those facets need care not neglect. They need to be polished and buffed and treated well to sparkle and shine. So don't hate those "imperfections," love and embrace them and realize they are what make you beautiful and unique.

Just as there is no perfect diamond, there also isn't an ideal standard. In that way, diamonds are kind of like people. Maybe you're a 1 carat princess cut canary diamond. Or you could be a 1/2 carat oval white diamond. The combinations are absolutely endless and each diamond is beautiful in its own special way. Kind of like each of us.

And before you start thinking that your current state isn't enough and you should try and work on being the biggest, baddest, most expensive diamond out there, allow me to gently remind you about the Hope Diamond. Oh, sure, it's gorgeous and huge and an absolutely stunning specimen  but it also carries an air of mystery and is reputed to be cursed. So next time you start thinking you aren't enough, just remember that at least you don't come with any crazy superstitions.

The thing about diamonds is that no matter the cut or color or caret or any of that, people want them. People lust and fight and die over them (hence the term blood diamond). The diamond doesn't even have to do anything, either. It just has to hang out, being all diamondy, and this shit happens and people go crazy. A diamond doesn't tell itself to sparkle or shine, it does it naturally. It doesn't have to say "Pick me! Pick me!" because it knows people are going to pick it anyway just because it's a fucking diamond.

A diamond does not need to tell itself to be fierce and fabulous because it knows it already is fierce and fabulous all on its own. It doesn't have to become anything because it's already everything it needs to be.

And that, ladies and gents, is what you need to do. You need to unleash your inner diamond. You don't need to do anything special to sparkle or garner attention or get people to notice you. Just do what you're doing right now. Just be your gorgeous flawless self. Embrace the quirks, the imperfections. Blind 'em, baby, with your sparkle and shine.

Of course, there will be people who don't get your sheer level of awesome. Not a big deal, happens to all of us. From both sides of the issue. Like, personally I could never do a pear shape. It's just not me. I'm still able to recognize it as a lovely diamond but it's just not my own personal style. Likewise, my "imperfections" might be someone else's pear shape. I'm just not their style.

And that's okay. 

Because give me an Emerald cut and I'll be yours forever. Look, not everyone is going to like you. But, more to the point, not everyone has to like you. There's no rule out there that says everyone has to like and love and be attracted to everyone else. That's not how it works. Not everyone has to think you are fabulous and we can't get mad at them for that because there are probably people out there you don't think are fabulous.

So the pear shape? It doesn't give a flying fuck what I think about it because it knows there are people out there who do think it's fabulous. And those are the people it surrounds itself with. It knows it is awesome just for being exactly what it is and doesn't worry about those who don't like it.

Yes, there are probably things you would like to change about yourself, just remember to come from a place of care, not neglect. Love, not hate. Take pride in your work and polish and buff those areas until they glitter.  I mean, that diamond might not be flawless grade or have the best clarity and it knows there are those with a different preference, but that pear shape owns itself, knowing there are people out there who will love it and want it exactly as it is.


Because it's a fucking diamond. 

And so are you.

If you haven't joined the What's Beautiful page yet, there is still time! Set a goal and go out and get after it and help Under Armour redefine the female athlete.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

22 May 2013

recap: Cleveland Marathon 10K

At the Cleveland Marathon Expo, runners were advised to get to Cleveland Browns Stadium by 6 am in order to avoid traffic and get through gear check. As I only live about a mile and a half away from the stadium and decided to walk and would only be carrying my keys and phone (which could easily fit into my SPIBelt), that meant no parking or gear check for me!

But, it was still going to take me about half an hour to walk downtown and I wanted to give myself plenty of time to use the restroom and figure out where I needed to go before the race so I made sure to give myself an early wake up call. I also set all of my gear out on my dining room table so I'd be all set when I groggily woke up.

"I run so I'll be able to keep up with The Doctor on our adventures"

Surprisingly, I actually woke up before my alarm. Race day always feels like Christmas morning, just so excited to get out there and get going. Had some overnight oats for breakfast, got ready, and headed out.

With not going through gear check I was a little worried that it would be chilly in the morning and I'd have to take a jacket that would be too hot to run in, but when I left my apartment at about 6:20 am it was already 65 degrees out.

I got to the stadium around 6:45 and the marathoners and half-marathoners were already lining up which meant, among other things, I didn't have to wait in a super long line to use the restroom!

It's the little things.

One thing I've always loved about the running community is how friendly and supportive everyone is. My parents weren't able to make it -- I actually told them that with the early start time they didn't have to come. They'd have to leave their house around 6:30 just to get downtown and that doesn't take into account finding parking and then finding me -- so after a couple asked me to take their picture for them, I asked if they'd take one of me.

Good goddess, take a look at those skinny legs!

The marathon and half-marathon started at 7, so those of us in the 10K and spectators cheered and applauded them as they set off with the gun. With so many people it took awhile for them to all get through the start line but once the road was cleared, those of us running the 10K began to line up. 7:30 rolled around and we were off! 

Now, I don't know if it was the heat or the fact that I didn't do as much training this time around as I did for my first 10K back in February, but holy hell that first mile was tough for me. There were a couple of inclines and after my experience at the zoo last year I almost always walk up hills during races so it took me about 16 minutes to reach that first mile marker. After that I knew there was no way I was going to PR, although I know I picked up speed with each following mile, so I'm happy and proud about that. 

The rest of the course was fairly flat and looped up and around the Near West side of the city, over near Gordon Square, before looping back onto the Shoreway around Mile 4. 

I had this friend in college who used to say that as long as you could visibly see your destination, it couldn't be that far away. This mental motivation was running through my head as I hit the final couple of miles because the long stretch of Shoreway was intimidating, but if I looked up ahead I could see the crazy bright orange stands of Browns Stadium. 

Now. Around Mile 5 I developed a really annoying stitch in my right side. While I obviously can't say for sure what caused it, looking back I'm going to chalk it up to dehydration. Regardless, it made breathing while running nearly impossible so around 5.5 I slowed down to a walk, pressing my hand into my side, taking deep breathes. I was able to get it to hurt less but I didn't want to walk across the finish line, so at the 6 mile marker I started running again. Of course, the stitch came back but I pushed through it and finished strong. 

Once I got some water and a banana, stitch completely went away. I think I took the temperature for granted: it was overcast for most of the race, but as you can see in the above picture the sun eventually did come out near the end and here I've been running for 5 miles and sweating and I skipped the last water station, so that's why I'm going with dehydration. So just something for me to keep in mind in future races. 

I also don't know what happened with my chip -- they were the kind attached to your bib -- but my chip time and clock time were exactly the same (1:34:05). Unless you're at the very start of the pack, there is going to be lag time. Knowing I'm a slow runner I started near the back and it took a good 4-5 minutes to get up to the start line, which is when my chip should have triggered. I start my Polar HRM when I cross the start mat and compared it to the clock along the course and was consistently 4-5 minutes behind. So I don't know if the chip somehow wasn't activated at the start and only the end so it had to default to the clock time? Whatever, I'm going with my HRM and calling it a 90 minute 10K. 

After, my friend Sandie and I met up for brunch at BRGR9 where I had myself a well-earned mimosa. 

And yes, I was one of those runners who wore her race t-shirt around for the rest of the day.

Let me tell you, I was starving after this race. I've also decided that after I run the Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon in October I want to celebrate at the Horseshoe Casino. Not with the slots, but with food: I've been wanting to indulge in their brunch buffet since the casino opened a year ago, I just can't justifying paying $22 knowing there is no way in hell I'll manage to eat $22 worth of food. But after running 13.1 miles? Hell yes. 

Aside from the inclines at the beginning this course was really pretty flat and fairly easy to run. The 2014 Cleveland Marathon weekend is obviously a year away, but they already have registration available and if I register before the end of the month I get the Early Bird discount so I may just have to sign up for next year's 10K! 

Anyone else participate in any races over the weekend? How did you do?

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

20 May 2013

recap: cleveland marathon health and fitness expo

Obviously I know y'all are wanting to hear how my 10K went on Sunday! And you will, I promise. Just not today. Because before I can tell you about my first day participating in a Cleveland Marathon event, I have to tell you about the Cleveland Marathon Expo!

So Friday morning I headed over to the IX Center for the Health and Fitness Expo. This was my first ever race expo and I didn't really know what to expect, but I'm glad I got there when it opened: by the time I left an hour or so later the parking lot had really filled up.

The expo wasn't just for racers. This free event was really for anyone in the area looking to maybe score some deals on fitness gear and food, although naturally the majority of the visitors were the racers and when you first walked in they presented everyone with big placards full of important day-of information, including course maps.

We also had to go to the expo to pick up our racing bib and t-shirt. (Again, really glad I got there early as my line only had a 5 minute wait, which I'm sure got longer as the weekend went on.)

Of course, the big draw at any expo are the vendors.

Many local running and athletic stores were present with deals on shoes and clothes. I stopped by the New Balance booth hoping to find some discounted Minimus, but they hadn't brought any minis with them. That's okay, though, as I'm not at a point where I need new running shoes yet. I just wanted to take advantage of buying them on sale if I could.

Why, yes. As a matter of fact, that is a ferris wheel in the middle of the expo.

(During the spring, the IX Center operates as an indoor amusement park. (I'm also wondering how many Northeast Ohioans now have the radio jingle stuck in their head.))

Other than shoes I wasn't really looking for anything so I just kind of walked around, grabbing some of the freebies (like a super sweet guitar shaped CLE keychain/bottle opener from Positively Cleveland and a Volkswagon water bottle). When I wandered over to the Earth Fare booth I ran into P., the employee who gave me my tour a few weeks ago. I had sent her a link to the blog post after I published it and she said reading it made her day.

That being said, I did buy a few small things. Like some bling for my car.

I also bought a couple Bondi Band headbands. I got my hair trim a few weeks ago and ever since, the flyaways have been bugging me when I'm running or in yoga or whatever. I've been looking at various headband options and what I liked best about these is how wide they are: they practically cover my whole front half of my head so they act as a sweat guard, too. I was super impressed with them at the race on Sunday and after looking at their website and seeing a Design Your Own option, I may need to make up a "Be Your Own Hero" band to add to my collection!

Have you ever attended a fitness or racing expo?

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

17 May 2013

for the love of eleven

It's May and summer is just around the corner and I decided it was time to buy myself a new swimsuit. The last swimsuit I bought was purchased a year ago and most certainly does not fit anymore. Not even close. So, having some Old Navy credit card rewards hanging around, I spent part of Wednesday perusing their website and finally settled on this ol' number right here.

Women's Halter Control Max Swimsuit from Old Navy

Obviously the whole "control max" part won me over and I love that it's got a slight retro vibe. Plus the color is to die for. Of course,  I ordered this online without being able to try it on so once it shows up it could be interesting. My body shape is between a pear and an hour glass: losing weight has managed to even things out a bit but there is still some size differences between my bust and my hips, with hips being bigger. So if the  bust area is a big loose I'm hoping I can just tie the halter tighter to make up for it but we'll see once it actually arrives.

Thing is, a few hours after ordering the swimsuit I made a rather startling realization.

For those non-Whovians, this is the TARDIS. Y'know, that thing I dressed up as for Halloween. The time and space machine used on Doctor Who. This is a sci-fi/fantasy pop culture icon and I am such a geek that I managed to inadvertently and subconsciously purchase a TARDIS blue swimsuit. I mean, seriously?!

Now I just need to find a pool to crash for the summer. Hopefully one that's bigger on the inside.

Are you ready for swimsuit season?

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

15 May 2013

tonight I'm not takin' no calls 'cause I'll be dancin'

Monday evening I got home from work with every intention of doing my kettle bells. Changed into my workout clothes, put on my Polar Heart Rate Monitor, turned on the television, loaded up the Jillian Michael's workout...

And decided I really wasn't feeling it.

It was early enough in the evening that I could have gone for a run but I wasn't really feeling that either.

What I was feeling however was a good ol' fashioned Grey's Anatomy style dance party.

So that's what I did.


Silly? Probably. Do the people in the apartment building across the parking lot think I'm crazy? Most likely. (That's what happens when you don't think to close the blinds until after you are done.)

Do I care?

Hell no.

Dancing is an excellent form of exercise. Good cardio, gets your heart rate up, and pumps those endorphins. In 35 minutes I managed to burn about 250 calories. That's on par with my running output. The key, of course, is to not just get your heart rate up but keep it up. I used the Lady Gaga Pandora station and not only did it keep me moving but I used it to find some songs to add to my running playlist! Done and done.

So just remember you don't have to stick with your more traditional forms of exercise to get a good calorie burn. Even something as simple as dancing around your apartment like an idiot for half an hour will get the job done. Plus, the shaking of hips and boo-tay will make you feel like uber schexy and who doesn't love that?

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

13 May 2013

happy monday & weekend recap!

I hope you all had a good weekend and a happy belated Mother's Day to all the moms and soon-to-be moms out there. Saturday night was a Girl's Night Out with three of my most fabulous friends.We hit up Press Wine bar for dinner followed by drinks at Lolita where I splurged on some yummy chocolate chunk gelato (and perhaps found the bartender to be equally yummy, but shhhh). Then it was Edison's where our guy friends joined us and we closed down the bar. Yesterday I met up with my parents for a Mother's Day brunch and spent the rest of my afternoon and evening hanging out with the cats on the couch.

Waking up this morning I realized my second 10K is less than one week away! I really cannot believe it's here already and I've been seriously loving this weather for my training runs. You know you have issues when you are out the door running at 8 am on your day off!

Friday's run ended with a 14:20 average, which is slower than I would have liked but it was such a gorgeous morning I can't complain. I also didn't plan on being out as long as I was so I headed out without eating anything. But since it was so lovely out I didn't want to stop but wasn't properly fueled. Even something as simple as a pre-run banana would have kept me going, but c'est la vie. That's not a mistake I would ever make before a race so I should be okay. My goal for next Sunday is to do just as well as, if not better, as my first 10K. Seems pretty reasonable. If nothing else, while Cleveland's weather has been very back and forth the past few weeks, it's unlikely I'll be dealing with the same level of hot weather as Houston had.

I'm also fairly certain my yoga instructor Jessica saw my post last week about my What's Beautiful goal wanting to grow stronger and deeper in my practice 'cause she so did not let me slack in class on Saturday. Either that or she was bored and decided I needed to be tortured. Potayto Potahto.

(Love you, Jessica!)

Speaking of the What's Beautiful campaign, there are these fun challenges you get to do, either as an individual or as part of a team. One of the teams I'm on set a challenge to list 10 Things You Love About Yourself. Naturally, I had to partake.

This was an interesting challenge in that the first few were easy but then I kind of hit a block. Like, what do I love about myself? On the onset, a list of ten things doesn't seem like it would be so difficult and I actually appreciated the fact that I did find it so challenging. It forced me to really think the list through instead of just rattling off some items I didn't put much thought into.

How was your weekend? Do anything fun to celebrate Mother's Day? Feel free to share some things you love about you

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

08 May 2013

what's beautiful: my yoga practice redefined

Sometimes the universe just has a way of letting you know it's looking out for you.

Lately I've felt like I've been on the cusp of .... something. Something big and bold. Something that will reshape and redefine my life and what I know about myself. Something seriously bad ass.

Such is the case with the What's Beautiful campaign, which I'm participating in thanks to Under Armour and FitFluential. This is our chance, as the fierce and fabulous women that we are, to redefine the female athlete.

I know, pretty sweet, right?

Here's a little movie magic from me explaining more:

Oh Em Gee. Worst video thumbnail evah. 

The message and movement behind What's Beautiful is simple: Declare a goal, then show how it's done. Set up a profile and use it to showcase your journey through video and photos, etc. Join teams to encourage and inspire the women around you. Goal can be short- or long-term. Just make it something that pushes and motivates you to dig deep.

Like I said in the video, to help me achieve my goal of growing stronger and deeper in my practice while inspiring other curvy yogis to rock it on the mat, I've set some mini goals to help me along the way.

I like this list because it will always be evolving. I can change it or add to it as necessary. It will also force me to really go after those poses that I'm just on the edge of achieving. Like in Saturday's class, where I got one foot behind my head. Seriously. Craziest thing ever. So now I have to work on the other foot.

And then we have garbha pindasana, an absolutely gorgeous pose. With assistance, I actually can get both of my arms through my Lotus legs. What I can't do -- yet -- is get them through far enough to bend them up so that my head is resting in my hands. Garbha Pindasana means Womb Embryo Pose and, let me tell ya, trying to push my right arm through my crossed legs with Jessica on the other side of me pulling at my hand really does feel like what I imagine giving birth feels like.

Of course, the What's Beautiful campaign only lasts about two months and there's no guarantee I'll reach everything on this list in that time. But that's okay, just as long as I make sure to do the best that I can do in the time that I have. And keep in mind that this is a competition. A competition among the fiercest warriors. The three women that take their followers on the most epic journey win some equally fierce prices.

Now it's your turn! Visit the Under Armour What's Beautiful page and set up a profile. Then declare your goal and go get after it! At its heart this is about redefining the female athlete but it's also a chance to redefine you. So put on that cape and go out and be your own hero.

Don't forget: Still have two days left to entire my giveaway to win a $50 Earth Fare gift card!

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

06 May 2013

Earth Fare Review and Giveaway!

I know most of you are probably familiar with stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's, but have you ever heard of Earth Fare? They have a few locations here in Northeast Ohio and on Wednesday they have a brand new store opening in Solon, Ohio! (They were also one of the sponsors for the St. Malachi Run). As part of the celebration for the opening I was given an opportunity to tour a store and today I'm here to tell you all about it.

Full Blogger Disclosure: I was provided with an Earth Fare gift card as part of this review. Of course, all opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday afternoon I headed over to the Fairview Park store and met up with P., who would be giving me the tour. I've actually shopped at this location before and am fairly familiar with the company's strong stance on providing healthy affordable options but I loved being given a more intimate understanding of the brand and meeting some of the employees (all of whom seemed to love working there and take serious pride in their jobs).

Our tour started in the little dining/cafe area where P. not only told me but showed me Earth Fare's Food Philosophy:

Earth Fare's name says it all: they want the items they provide to consumers to be as close to the earth and as natural as possible. Among other things, that means no high-fructose corn syrup, no artificial fats or artificial trans fats, no artificial colors or artificial flavors, and no artificial sweeteners (entire list of the food philosophy can be found here). Eggs are handpicked, chickens cage free, and the beef is grass fed.

Obviously one of the reasons people shop at stores like Earth Fare is because they are concerned about the ingredients and origins of the food they eat and one thing I really liked was the way the store handles certain dietary restrictions or food choices. For instance, when you are walking through the aisles, all items sitting on a shelf with a wood face are Gluten Free.

Likewise, when you are in the produce section, foods labeled with a round sign are organic while conventionally grown foods have a square sign. C'mon, how cool is that? No having to hunt around or reading the tiny print of nutrition labels. Earth Fare knows that these are things that matter to the consumers so they make it so easy for them to find what they are looking for.

Earth Fare is also a big supporter of local and family farms and offer what they call the 100 Mile Commitment. That means that products labeled as being local originated within 100 miles of that particular store. So every store is going to have some of their own local products. Then there are those items that are considered family products. These are items that are considered local (or within 100 miles) to another Earth Fare store.

Lots of their items are also from independent companies. While giving me the tour, P. frequently pointed out small brands that had been in the store for visits or demonstrations.

If you are used to shopping at more traditional grocery stores where you know all of the brands and products, a store like Earth Fare is going to be a bit overwhelming at first because there are so many new items that look so good. But how many times have you made a purchase of a new food and gotten it home and found out you didn't like it but here you'd already spent the money and were stuck with it?

Earth Fare recognizes this and therefore has a Try Before You Buy Policy. This means you can sample foods in the store before buying them. So when you're walking through the bulk bin area -- which was pretty big -- feel free to try some of the available nuts and candy!

I know these look like M&Ms, but those obviously wouldn't fit with Earth Fare's Food Philosophy. These chocolate covered candies get their colors from fruit and vegetable juices. They also have this really cool marble effect on the shell and taste pretty much exactly the same.

Okay, well, yeah, but those are bulk bins. They are practically sitting there waiting for people to sample. Here's the thing: that Try Before You Buy Policy? It extends to items in the aisles, too. See an item on the shelf you want to try but it requires opening a bag or a jar? Just let a staff member know and they'll open the item up so you can try it.


Earth Fare isn't just a grocery store, though. They also have a huge Wellness and Bath & Beauty section, too. Everything from make-up to supplements and all sorts of personal care items are available (I showed you the conditioner made from beer in Friday's post). They have a store brand of vitamins and while most people hear "store brand" and think "generic," in the case of Earth Fare, the company that produces the vitamins is family owned and has produced some of the testing mechanisms and manufacturing practices that other well-known pharmaceutical companies need to adhere to.

Think of it this way: if a company like Earth Fare is willing to put their own name on a product you know it has to live up to their own brand philosophy.

Over the years, healthy supermarkets and grocery stores have been given a bad reputation for being too expensive. Healthy eating in general has that reputation and it's unfortunate because it doesn't have to be true if you know where and how to shop. Earth Fare strives to make healthy food approachable and accessible but, most of all, affordable. To that end, not only do they offer comparable prices, they also have their Tomato Bank which allows shoppers to get points (which is then turned into moola) for shopping with them and they have a big coupon program. You can get coupons through email, the website, or even on your phone. Plus, to stay more friendly to the earth, you don't have to actually print out the coupons, either. Just show the cashier the coupon on your mobile device and you'll still get the discount.

Then there are the weekly specials and deals. I took my tour on Thursday which is Family Dinner Night. Not only do kids eat free but there are often fun activities for the children, too (P. told me they once cleared out all the tables in the dining area and did yoga with the kids. How cute is that?). Recognizing the ever growing threat of childhood obesity, the company wants to give families a healthy and economical dining out option. Other weekly specials include Good Olde Days and Burgers for Bucks nights which both offer vegetarians like me meatless alternatives to get in on the deals, too.

Like I said in the beginning, I've shopped at Earth Fare before but I had no idea how much the store offered its consumers. And this is only a small glimpse behind the Earth Fare curtain. It would seriously take me, like, a week's worth of posts to mention everything I learned on my tour. Like the fact that they have a huge prepared food section with lots of single serve packaged options. Or that their sushi is hand rolled daily. And while many of the foods are under specialty brands, they do have several more recognizable brands that you can find in regular stores, so even if you can't always shop at an Earth Fare you know there are items that fit their food philosophy at your local grocery. They also have a big in-store recycling program. Ooooooh, and of course there is the juice bar! The Fairview Park location I toured has smoothies while the new Solon store is going to have frozen yogurt (nomnomnom).


All of that being said, I didn't even tell you my absolute favoritest part of the entire tour.

Freshly. Ground. Peanut. Butter. 

(For fairly new readers, I am slightly obsessed addicted passionate about peanut butter. (I also need to start vlogging again.))

I know, y'all are now so jealous I got to hang out and experience the fabulousness of Earth Fare. But have no fear, because they are so fabulous they are offering one reader of The Year of the Phoenix a $50 Earth Fare gift card!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

There are two ways to enter, both done through Rafflecopter:
1) Mandatory entry: Leave a comment telling me why you want to win
2) Optional entry: Tweet about the giveaway (this can be done daily)

Contest ends Thursday night at 11:59 PM EST. I'll announce the winner as part of Friday's post. Good luck and happy entering!

Fine Print: Open to US Residents. Please check the list of Earth Fare locations to make sure one is available near you before entering ('cause no one wants to win a giveaway prize they can't use!). Giveaway ends Thursday May 9, 2013 at 11:59 PM EST. At the completion of the giveaway, winner will have 48 hours to claim their prize. Earth Fare is providing one The Year of the Phoenix winner with a $50 gift card. In exchange for my review I was also given a $50 gift card. All opinions expressed in the above post are 100% my own.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

03 May 2013

hello weekend

Mama here had herself a very good week.

First, my food choices were spot on. Part of it, I think, is switching when I eat dinner. My work schedule is wonky and I usually end up eating dinner at work around 4:30 or 5. That is really kind of early and while I try to plan for evening snacks, by the time I get home I am in my kitchen, packing my lunch and dinner for the next day, and inevitably munching and grazing and it's just not good. So all this week I have managed to wait until I get home to eat dinner. Sure, I'm eating fairly late (like after 8 pm) but I've stayed on track all week so I think it's helping. 

Of course, now we are getting into the weekend and that's where I have the most trouble, but hopefully the momentum of the past few days will carry through.

So food is good. Exercise is good, too, thanks to the early daylight. It kills me that just a few weeks ago I was struggling to wake up at 7:30 and these days I'm up at 6ish ready to work out. Yesterday morning, for instance, I was up and out the door around 6:45 and went for a little over two mile run. It was fabulous and definitely set a positive, motivated tone for the rest of the day. 

Yesterday I was also given an opportunity to tour the Fairview Park Earth Fare store. I've shopped there before but I loved getting a more intimate look at the company and their food philosophy. And while they are primarily a grocery store they do offer other items, too, including some super sweet bath and body products. 

Like Broo

Which is a line of hair care products. 

Made from beer. 

Monday I'm going to have a more detailed post about the store and some of their products and why they are oh-so-awesome (as if beer shampoo wasn't enough), so be sure to check back in a few days for that. There might even be a giveaway involved (wink wink). 

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

01 May 2013

happy one year blogiversary to moi!

So, um, how is it already May? I mean, really. 'Cause it seriously feels like just yesterday I was complaining about winter snow.

Nope, wait, that was actually just last week. Hello Northeast Ohio. 

The Year of the Phoenix technically has two anniversaries: There is the day I started the blog and the day I focused on being a healthy living blog. Over the past year I feel like I've really found my niche so it's weird to think about the fact that I spent the first four months blogging about anything and everything. Now, though, things feel like home. Like I'm blogging about what I'm supposed to be blogging about. So by the powers vested in me by the state of blogdom everywhere, I henceforth declare May 1st my blogiversary! 

Seriously, y'all have no idea how much it means to me that I have such fabulous and faithful readers. Your comments, emails, Facebook likes, etc., warm my little heart. Really. I also love the community of other healthy living bloggers I've met (I was so so so hoping to attend FitBloggin' this year but it's the same weekend as Sissy's wedding). But most of all I love having the space to share my story with all of you, even when the current chapter isn't my favorite. However if there's one thing I've learned as both a lifelong writer and reader it's that you always have the opportunity to turn the page. 

Today is also the day I am six months soda free! Lemme tell ya, I did not think I was gonna last one week let alone twenty-four of them. In a row. I don't miss it, either, which is a pleasant surprise. Nope, me and good ol' H2O (often, of course, in the form of tea) are best buds these days.

One year healthy living blogging plus six months soda free seems to suggest that May is going to be a really, really awesome month. Which is good, because there's lots going on with bridal showers and Mother's Day and my second 10K is just around the corner! All I'm hoping is to do as well if not better time wise than my first. The boost of extra sun at the beginning and end of each day means lots more opportunities to train during the work week so I think it seems like a reasonable goal! I'll also be attending my first marathon expo the Friday before the race and I'm super excited about that and can't wait to tell y'all about it. 

How was your April? Any big plans or goals on your May agenda?

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus
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