TFB’s Ultimate LA Marathon Playlist

ultimateI am always nervous to put up a race-day playlist because to some extent, it is deeply personal.  The music that drives one person is complete rubbish to another; I know people that run to podcasts (!) whereas that would make me crumble and die of boredom.  I know others that never run to music and find listening to tunes while running abhorrent; still others that run to classical or wordless music or trance-like mixes that last 13 minutes.

I, on the other hand, need music that is inspirational (I actually listen to the lyrics), motivational (I actually move to the beats), site-appropriate (I will always try to sneak in songs that speak to the location, season, or other descriptor of the race), and familiar (I rarely go for brand-new, un-listened-to tunes unless they’re by a familiar artist).

But I respect whatever gets – and keeps – you running.

That said, in my last post about the LA Marathon, I mentioned a few of the songs that got me through the hard miles – so I wanted to post my (extensive) playlist from the race to give you an idea of what’s going through my earbuds when I tackle a long-distance run.

I have a superstition of sorts where I make my playlist and then commit to setting it on “shuffle” – meaning I don’t allow myself to get caught up in the specific order nor do I allow myself to skip any songs, so they all have to be winners (again, winners in my book – I know my eclectic taste is not for everyone).

So without further ado – my marathon playlist, in four parts with short commentary:

playlist1Highlights from this segment?  For sure “Work B*tch” by Britney Spears (possibly my most-used workout song if you consider both running and teaching group exercise), but “Far Alone” by G-Eazy always makes me feel like a pimp, and “Booty” by J-Lo & Iggy Azalea makes tackling hills feel like no big.

playlist2

My standouts here are the kickass “L.A. Woman” remix by The Doors & Paul Oakenfold, “Cinderella Man” by Eminem (works great during a tough, broken-down mile for pacing), and “Blessed” by Tom Hangs feat. Avicii – tell me you can’t stay positive with that gospel-inspired song caressing your eardrums.  Moving on:

playlist3Ah, another embarrassment of hip-hop and dance riches brings us to “You Be Killin ‘Em” by Xavier (brush your shoulders off and KICK IT to this one), “I Don’t Get Tired” by Kevin Gates (the name alone hearkens to its endurance-themed powers), and “Not Butter” by Dillion Francis, which is the only song to make me laugh out loud while actually running.  And for the finish line:

playlist4Don’t hate on “Break My Stride” by Matthew Wilder; that song is an oldie but goodie.  And “City of Dreams” by Dirty South & Alesso has come with me through three marathons; it always brings tears to my eyes when I’m running somewhere with which I feel a deep connection.  Finally, gotta hand it to “Turn Down for What” by Lil’ Jon for the ultimate mid-mile boost – I am almost positive I PR’d the mile that song accompanied.

What do you listen to when you’re workout out?  What are your must-have tunes for long races?

Weekly Roundup

Whew – it’s only 12:41pm and already it’s been a whirlwind Sunday.  Alarm off at 6:30; client at 7:30; run club, 90-minute yoga sesh, and now a quick lull until a dear friend’s baby baptism this afternoon.

Hey, at least it’s keeping my mind off the wedding! (SIX DAYS OMG)

For now, let’s check in on what other people are doing with their time online:

Like making (and eating) these amazing 100-calorie chocolate desserts.

If they look that good nude, their tips must work for someone who stays mostly clothed – right?

WTF should you do with your life?  Find the answer ASAP, with just one click.

Don’t even ACT like you’re not intrigued by the possibility of making (and eating) your own Velveeta cheese.

Zero to hero in five minutes – at least makeup-wise.  The rest, I can’t help you.

Did you guys know I was a Comm major?  Well, now you do.  So STOP saying these things.

I’ve been eating super clean for the wedding.  After the honeymoon?  Might roll down on THIS.

COLORS!  PRINTS!  OMG I love Lilly Pulitzer’s new line of exercise clothes so much.

Even more good news?  Starbucks is finally catching up with, oh, 2009 and offering a non-dairy alternative to soy milk – coconut milk!

I’ll be coming back tomorrow with a Grammy red carpet fashion update – so for now, leave me a tip about your favorite link, video, or tweet from this week!

Crazy Sh*t I’ve Done to Prep for My Wedding

If you’ve been following me on almost any social media outlet, you’ve probably picked up on the fact that I am getting married soon.  Like, real soon.  Like, a week from tomorrow soon (!!!).

There is a lot of preparation that goes into a wedding, not the least of which pertains to the specifics of the bride’s body, face, and hair.  Lucky for me I work hard to maintain a healthy weight and body fat percentage, so I didn’t feel the pressure to drop pounds and “tone up.”

That said, it doesn’t mean I didn’t have a sh*tton of fine tuning to do on this here bod.

I went back and forth about actually posting this entry, because I didn’t want to come off like a bridezilla, a vain idiot, or an absolute sucker – and I think, to some degree, you might think I’m all three if you stick around to read the whole thing.

But I also wanted to be completely transparent about what lengths I personally have gone to in order to feel like my best self on my wedding day and heck – some of you might even empathize (or at least get a hearty laugh).

So here we go:

About six months ago I started zapping my face.  No, not zit-zapping, more like wrinkle-zapping, with the NuFace by Carol Cole system.  My sister-in-law uses and swears by it, and she bought me one for my bridal shower – turns out, the thing’s addicting.  Once you get used to the tiny but somewhat painful microcurrents shooting into your face, it’s actually kind of relaxing, and it leaves your skin feeling tighter, softer, and yes – younger-looking.  You do have to commit to using the thing – I didn’t start noticing results until about two weeks in – but I really like it and will continue with it long after the wedding is over.

Around the same time I decided to fry my face off, I also got into waist training.  Yep, you head me, Kardashian-style waist training – the thing where you wear an increasingly tight corset to help shrink your waist (and note: although I am not overly concerned about my weight, I am concerned about my proportions, which I often find bordering on masculine due in part to my lack of waist-hip ratio).  Did it work?  Well, despite being a huge pain in the ass and completely uncomfortable, yes – my waist went from 28 inches at my first dress fitting to 26 inches at my last.  Win!

Speaking of being strapped and tightened, I also started wearing a back brace to help straighten out my posture.  Sure, I lift weights, do yoga, and generally maintain proper posture, but I also have scoliosis, which means I never really look “right” from a side view (which, if you guys have been to weddings, is often the sustained view you get of the bride when she’s saying her vows).  Please note if you are actually attending my wedding that I busted my ass to stand up straight so if it looks like I am slouching, you know I’m doing my best.

Not crazy enough for you yet?  How about the $40 custom spray tan that I (along with many of my bridesmaids and my own dear mother) am getting?  If you’re wondering what  a custom spray tan is, well, listen up: they customize a color for your skin tone.  They spray and contour your “trouble zones” (I always ask for double triceps and triple abs).  They sometimes apply a light fragrance so you don’t smell like stink tan.  And best of all, they spray into all the little nooks and crannies a misting bed will miss, resulting in a super smooth, even, and amazing-looking tan.  Badda bing.

The spray tan, though, wouldn’t mean nuthin’ if I wasn’t already trying to “up my cuts” by lifting weights and working out, a regime which for the past two months has also included sessions in the hot Pilates pod known as Iobella.  It is exactly what I just said – they put you in a plastic pod, photo 4 (2)crank the heat up to 103 degrees, and make you do Pilates-inspired movements (in excruciating sets of 40) inside.  Despite sounding hellish, it’s actually quite wonderful, and has done a ton for any outstanding pockets of cellulite I was not so thrilled to show off.

Ah yes, speaking of cellulite….most women hate it; I tolerate it, knowing that the places it usually falls are the ones I can hide out of sight most of the time.  Except when your wedding involves a pool party.  And except when that pool party involves wearing a bathing suit in front of all your wedding guests (who just saw you look like a pretty pretty princess in the warm and comforting confines of a boned, fitted wedding gown).  So I bit the bullet and added an element to my cellulite-fighting bath routine (which already includes dry brushing and exfoliating massage): fatgirlslim products.  Yep, the caffeine-jacked, peptide-potent gel products from the bliss line of beauty supplies now line my bathroom shelves, and I massage those bad boys into my arms, butt, abs, and legs on a daily basis – and again, believe it or not, I swear it’s helping.  The skin’s appearance is taut, firm, and smooth – and even feels tighter to the touch.

Speaking of products, a client of mine gave me Beautycounter products for Christmas and whoa – are they ever spectacular!  The standouts for me – again, used in conjunction with the Clarisonic I already commit to religiously and the Nu Face mentioned above – are the face oils, which have literally transformed the way makeup goes on my face as well as the way my skin looks without makeup.  They smell divine, last a long time (thank God, since they’re expensive as all get-out), and will literally retexture your face.  No joke.

You know what else isn’t a joke?  How seriously I take my dental hygiene.  I have never missed a 6-month checkup in my entire adult life, I floss daily, brush twice, use Listerine, and don’t f*ck around with cavities (never had one).

But what I do do is drink coffee and red wine, both of which are horrific for the enamel and coloration of the teeth – and I know it.  So the last step in my pre-wedding beauty regimen has been using a combination of baking soda and peroxide paste (homemade) and Crest Pro Whitening Strips to help restore my natural whiteness and address some of those pesky stains.

Whew.  Just typing that wore me out; I am surprised I was actually able to do all this crap over the past 6-12 months leading up to the big day!  I didn’t voyage too far into what I perceive to be the “crazy” stuff brides these days do – Botox, liposuction, surgery, bleaching/dying of various body parts, and so on – but I feel like I definitely went above and beyond my normal routine (which is, let’s be honest: wash face.  bathe.  apply makeup.  leave house.) to try and be my best bridal self for February 14th.

Married readers – how did you prep for your big day?  Single ladies and gents – what do you plan to add to your “glam squad” routine when wedding bells are ringing?

Weekend Roundup

Ah, what a week.  My wedding is two weeks from today.  As in, TWO WEEKS.  So please cut me some slack on the frequency of posts – believe me, I’m trying.

What’s happening this week around the web?  Let’s check it:

I cannot tell you how many of my clients request workouts to pop dat booty.  So here’s a month of ’em.

I wish L.A. still looked like this.  In my mind it does.

A “V-steam” is exactly what you think it might be.  And it sounds painful to me.

Almost as annoying as having to be “skinny yet muscular” is the plus-size ideal of having to be “slim yet curvy.”  How is anyone IRL supposed to figure it out?

Apparently you can run on a treadmill without dying of boredom.  I mean, I won’t ever try it, but hey, go for it, readers.

Looking at NFL players’ weddings is somehow calming for me this week.

Awesome, simple tips from a celeb stylist that you can actually apply to your real life.

And finally, the definitive list of leggings brands that don’t let your butt crack see the (stretched-out) light of day.

What are you guys reading and talking about?  As always, I love a good link share!

Would Amanda Eat It? Simply 7 Hummus Chips

Ah, chips.  Bane of my existence.  Love of my life.  What’s better when you’re hungry than a crunchy, salty, satisfying chip?

…which is exactly why I can’t keep them in my house.

I haven’t kept chips in the house (save in the few hours DIRECTLY before hosting a party) in years, but when my parents recently visited and left half a bag of tortilla chips, you better bet those little triangles of pure (carb-y) joy were gobbled with whatever dip/sauce/cheese I could get my hands on.  And I was ashamed.

My point is, chips are addictive.

Enter Simply 7 Hummus Chips.  They come in four varieties (sea salt, red pepper, spicy pepper, and tomato basil) and are billed as “a richer snacking experience” compared to hummus in its non-chip, basic b*tch form.

Let’s have a deeper look-see into these bad boys (the sea salt version, at least).

The good:

  • the website will list off the great points of the chip straight away – they’re GF (gluten-free, for those of you living under a rock), non-GMO, preservative-free, and contain no artificial flavors – not too bad from a “real food” point of view
  • you get a full 30 (admittedly tiny) chips for only 130 calories, which feels like a solid snack
  • they’re super low sugar (only 2g per serve)

The bad:

  • besides being low in sugar, they’re also low in fiber (like, none) and protein (2g) – so don’t be fooled, these guys are still a refined carbohydrate serving tied up with a prettier bow
  • the sodium is too high for my liking – 290g per serving would buy a one-way ticket to Bloatville for me (but I keep a very low-sodium diet, under 1400mg daily)
  • chickpea flour, potato starch, and rice – again, these are not a low-carb snack.

The verdict (and the alternative!):

  • yeah, I’d have them as a “sometimes” snack (and they’d make a great snack for kids!).  Granted, per the above, I could not have these in my house for fear of eating the whole bag in one sitting (which I would easily do, especially with the flavored kind), but if I were asked to bring “chips and dip” to a party I’d surely bring this with a Greek yogurt dip or similar to up the protein content of the whole snack.
  • alternatively, if you need a chip fix but can’t spare the carbs, have you guys tried making kale chips yet?  Skip the weird superdry versions you get in the store; a batch of really hearty kale makes for a delicious chip (and you CAN eat the whole batch!) with no guilt (or sodium bloat) to worry about.

Are you guys shameless chip addicts like me?  What quells your crunch cravings?

Weekend Roundup

So I’ve just had to reason with myself about the amount of finite time there is in a day – and sometimes, I just need sleep in that last half hour of the day (sorry, loyal readers).

That said, I want to make sure I’m staying current with what’s going on around the internet world, too, so I put together this quickie little roundup to holler at the awesome and useful things you guys might want to read until I’m back up and running at full capacity.

You can now shop Spring 2015 trends according to your astrological sign (spoiler: mine’s a jumpsuit, and I love it!).

I go through about a jar of (natural unsalted) peanut butter per week.  I think I’m going to need to up that to two jars.

Do you exercise on an empty stomach?  If your diet is, shall we say, inconsistent, it may be the way to go.

Running and walking at night can be terrifying, but for some of us, it’s a must-do.  This stuff can help you stay safer as you run into the wild dark beyond.

If you don’t love Victoria Beckham, then I can’t love you.  It’s pretty straightforward.

I’m not gonna lie and say I take a cold shower, but I WILL tell you that my hair is about 80% shinier when I cold-rinse it at the end of said shower.  So that’s something.

These now-ancient celebrity MySpace pages are AWESOME in their horror.  So bad.

My “lady” issues could fill a short textbook, but for now, know that I am very interested in FAM and how to track the natural cycles of the female body – and would love to know if any of you readers out there are doing the same!

What’s on your mind this week?  What are you watching/reading/laughing at online?

Sisterhood of the World Blogger Award

My girl The Keen Peach nominated me for this fun award and I am honored – this is the first blogger-type award I’ve received and it’ll be fun to pass on the accolades.

Part of the nomination is to fill out this supershort and fun questionnaire, so here you guys go – a bit more fun about ThisFitBlonde!

In one word, how would you like your readers to describe your blog?

Must-read (hey, a hyphenated word is still a word).

Which is your most favorite among your blog posts and why?

A lot of my posts are fun, fab, and fitness-oriented in vibe, which is exactly what I want from this blog (and for you, my readers!).  But I wrote a piece back in August 2014 about body image and what it feels like to work in an industry focused so much on bodies, weight, and perfection – and I still think it has a lot of value.

What inspires most of your blog posts?

My own professional life as a personal trainer and group exercise instructor is the best motivating force for me to keep writing, but I am also inspired by current events (hello, red carpet posts!) and other bloggers (my Weekend Roundup entries).

What do you aspire to accomplish this year?

This is going to be a big year for me – I’m getting married, considering a big move, and working on building ThisFitBlonde into a more comprehensive brand.

What do you aspire to learn this year?

I need to learn more about blogging as a profession and industry rather than just a hobby, and I am taking an advanced prenatal fitness certification course to deepen my knowledge of working with pregnant women in a gym setting.

What is your favorite book? Why?

Even though I think she’s a crazy person in real life, Kristin Armstrong’s Mile Markers is a powerful, motivating reminder of why it is important for us women to keep running – no matter what life brings.

What is the most courageous thing you have ever done?

Move from Chicago to L.A. at age 16 to start college early.  Oh, and I jumped out of a plane once.

If you could be a superhero, what would be your super power?

To be able to fly, because then I could travel anywhere I wanted for free.

Who is your female role model?

I have lots – my mom, Hillary Clinton, Jamie Eason, Jillian Michaels.

And that’s it from me!  Now comes the time to nominate other bloggers.  For those of you reading on from other blogs, here’s how you “pay it forward” with the sisterhood:

  • thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site
  • put the award logo on your blog
  • answer the ten questions sent to you (the same questions above)
  • nominate seven blogs

So come and git it, somedaysunny, The L.A. Good Wife, O at the Edges, We killed the American dream, Blonde Ponytail, Maria Mind Body Health, and This Is Why You’re Single.  You’re nominated!

Would Amanda Eat It?

Spoiler alert: Amanda already ate it.  But wait – don’t go just yet!  The question here is – would Amanda eat it again?

Last night I found myself in a position lots of us face – I’d had a biggish lunch and wasn’t super hungry for dinner, but knew that not eating from roughly noon until the next morning was horrific for the metabolism.  Couple this with the fact that I was facing a 2+ hour drive back from Palm Springs and didn’t want to stop to chow down on something along the way.

What’s fast, portable, and relatively healthy, I asked myself?  And then I saw the display:

I’d of course heard about Quest bars from every single health and lifestyle blogger on the face of the Earth.

I have a bodybuilder friend who breaks them up and eats them with unsweetened almond milk for breakfast.  I have friends who crumble them over Greek yogurt and call it pizza.  I know people who Amazon order these in CASES to their private homes.

It’s threat-level red on these damn things, and here I am never having eaten one.

Don’t worry, Quest fans, I threw it down in the 7-11 last night.  And here’s my report:

The good:

  • 1g sugar.  ONE.  That’s plain-Cheerios-level low.
  • 17g fiber.  SEVENTEEN.  That’s more than FOUR CUPS of blueberries.
  • 21g protein.  TWENTY…ok you get it.  More than 4 oz. canned tuna.
  • Lower in calories than almost any other comparable-protein bar out there – 190 cals
  • I gotta hand it to ’em, the chocolate chip taste and texture is on point

The bad:

  • Lots of “unpronounceables” – think fake sweeteners like sucralose, erythritol, and isomalto-oligosaccharides (yep, that’s a single word and thing)
  • The overall taste of the bar is a little…off.  There’s a persistent metallic-y aftertaste that doesn’t really go away until well after you’re done eating the bar.
  • At the end of the day, this is a processed lump of a bar built to resemble food without actually having any food ingredients to speak of (which is why it didn’t, to be polite, “sit well” with me for the long drive home, if you get my drift)

The verdict:

  • Let’s be honest – this is one of the healthiest things you can buy at a 7-11, outside the obvious (hard-boiled eggs, apples, low-sodium beef jerky).  So  if I was in a situation like I described above, or on a road trip, or a busy mom needing a quick snack, or looking for something to hold me over until my next meal – YES, I would eat a Quest bar (although I’d like to try other flavors, too).

The alternative:

  • Should you want to stick to real food (something I recommend to all of my clients and try to do myself), you can make a pretty decent high-protein bar, shake, or snack without the powder with this handy-dandy cookbook
  • You can also make your own Quest bars, which doesn’t eliminate the chemical nature of the bar, but does lessen the impact on your pocketbook (these things ain’t free, people)

I know Quest fans far and wide are breathing a sigh of relief (ha) – their addiction is TFB-approved!

For those of you who eat whole and clean – what’s your favorite label-free protein source? (mine is hard-boiled eggs for SURE!)