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Posts tagged ‘health and wellness’

5 Things I Did Wrong While Climbing Mount Fuji (and a few things I did right)

Last month, I had the opportunity to climb the majestic and challenging Fuji-San! I actually made the decision to climb it about 30 hours prior to climbing because sometimes I like to live life on the edge. 😉 However, because I had planned to climb Fuji sometime during our Japan stay AND because my husband had climbed it previously – I did feel SOMEWHAT prepared and also had most of the gear already. So here is my story of how I survived Mt. Fuji! *Beware: it’s long. 😉

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My daily view – so of course I HAD to go meet her in person! 🙂

Pre-Fuji Prep 

  • The decision – I decided the day before that I would go with a couple of friends to climb Fuji overnight.  Climbing season is only open from early-July to mid-September, so there is a small window to knock this off any bucket list.  Since it was already September 5th, I realized that my window was closing quickly for this year so I should probably take the leap and tag along with my friends.
  • Kids – Then I had to figure out what to do with my kiddos from Friday evening until Saturday afternoon.  Luckily, my husband was able to get off work on time to stay with the kids.
  • Packing – Now I had to decide what I should actually bring on this trip. I read a few blog posts from others who had done the overnight trip to get an idea of the necessities.  I made a trip to the grocery store for some snacks and water. And then stopped by Mega-Don Quijote (it’s like a Japanese Wal-Mart) for cans of air (and score! They were only 500 yen and Buy 2-Get 1 free!).
  • What to wear – Everything I read and learned from others was to dress in layers.  The biggest challenge of Mount Fuji is that the weather is unpredictable and can change drastically during the climb.  Thankfully the weather said it would be clear with no rain and little wind.  So I wore a moisture-wicking tank, long sleeved shirt, hoodie, moisture-wicking leggings, and beanie to start the hike.  I also already had a hiking stick my husband had gotten on his last Fuji hike, but didn’t get stamped.  This piece of information will be important later on in the story.
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What I wore to start the hike.

The Climb

Okay, here where things start getting real.  So I’m giving you a raw account of my experience!

  • The arrival – We arrived to the parking lot a little before 8pm – just in time to catch the last bus to the 5th station. We got to the 5th station for the Subashiri Trail around 8:30ish and ate some snacks and adjusted to the altitude.  It was important for us to hang out there for about an hour so we could adjust slowly and not get altitude sickness.  We packed our bags, checked our headlamps, and off we went! This brings me to Mistake #1 – My bag was way too heavy!  I was worried about not being prepared, so I definitely overpacked – and paid for it later on in the hike.

Into the forest – From the 5th to about the 7th station, it’s all forest.  And since we were on a less populated trail (Yoshida is the most popular) and it was nighttime, we only saw a handful of hikers in the beginning.  The forest is very thick and SUPER quiet.  There are no leaves rustling or branches swaying to make any white noise.  So needless to say, the first couple of hours were a bit creepy – it felt like the Blair Witch Project out there. Once we cleared the trees near the 7th station, you could see every star in the sky and lights shining in the city.  It was peaceful and beautiful!

Stations – While we’re on the topic, let’s talk about the Station system.  Stations are little rest areas that begin at the 5th station and go up to the summit – 10th station.  They sell food, water, and overpriced hiking supplies. What I didn’t know was that there are duplicate numbered stations. So I would get excited and see the 6th station only to find out that there are two 6th stations – an “old” and a “new” – and this happened at each station. 😦  Also, you have to pay to use the bathrooms at each station – the average was 200 yen.  You’ll also have to pay around 200 yen or so to get your hiking stick stamped – and yes, after all that hiking you will want some type of reward for your work.

Sunrise – Most people who do the overnight hike will stop at a hut and sleep for a few hours before finishing the journey to the summit.  We didn’t do this and it was probably for the best because it would be hard to get going again after resting for too long.  We decided to rest longer at each station, but not long enough for our bodies to get too cold.  We didn’t quite make it to the summit for the sunrise, but we were close and had a great view nonetheless.  As beautiful as the night sky was, hiking in the dark was starting to get depressing so I was looking forward to seeing some light.  There were a lot of people at this point surrounding us and set up with camera equipment ready to catch the first signs of morning. I couldn’t imagine carrying camera equipment around so more power to those people.

Almost to the top – Joy comes in the morning, y’all!  And viewing an amazing sunrise helped motivate me to keep going to the top.  Now we could lose the headlamps and actually see where we were going.  Our trail also combined with the Yoshida Trail somewhere around the 8.5 station so we saw a significant increase in traffic. I could see several “Caution: Falling Rock” signs along the way which made me uneasy but I tried to focus on the goal and pray – I prayed a lot.

We made it! – Woo hoo!  We made it safely to the summit and it was a joyous occasion.  It’s quite an emotional and exhausting experience to finally reach the summit.  We couldn’t have asked for better weather.  I did put on a jacket over my hoodie, but never needed by rain jacket or hiking pants (although there were some points where I could have worn them I was just too tired to put them on). We also all wore gloves – which were not just for warmth, but for the areas where you have to pull yourself up on to the rocks.  We spent at least an hour at the top just enjoying the views, eating, and resting.  Some hikers behind us pulled out a grill with bacon and eggs and I wished I had done that too. Although I wouldn’t have wanted to carry it up.  Then we headed over to grab some souvenirs – flags for our hiking sticks and of course the stamp.  The stamp at the top is red (the other ones are black) so everyone knows you made it to the top.

And we got a present! (aka SWAG!) The wooden keychain thing means that all five of the senses have been refreshed and renewed.  Which makes sense since the locals regard the Mt. Fuji climbing experience as something spiritual and sacred.

Above the clouds and the crater –  Mt. Fuji is 3,776 meters (12,390 feet) high so it is quite a feeling to be actually standing above the clouds!  We also took a look at the crater because this is an active volcano after all.

The Descent

This is where the story turns.  From my research I learned that going down was much harder than going up.  But I figured, ‘How hard can it be? It can’t really be THAT hard!’ Well, I was wrong.  Wrong, wrong. Just a reminder that we are climbing down loose volcanic rock here, which means it’s VERY slippery.  So combine steep with slippery and it’s a very challenging combination.  This is also where I made the majority of my mistakes.

Here we go – At first I thought, “This isn’t so bad.” But things starting picking up.  Mistake #2 – Not wearing gaiters.  I probably should have worn some gaiters over my boots or at the very least – put my hiking pants on to cover my boots.  My boots kept getting filled with rocks and sand which made the trek much more uncomfortable.  Things started out zig-zag, but then it was just one long, steep descent.  I also didn’t realize that the route down is different than the route up so there aren’t as many stations or places to rest/recharge.

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There are these cool, unique yellow plants that only grow on Mt. Fuji!

  • It’s so dusty – Something else I didn’t take into account was how dusty it would be.  While I did bring a Buff® to cover my face and wore sunglasses, there was much more dust than expected.  More experienced hikers would run down, yes run – which would kick up tons of dust (and feelings of anger) as they passed me.  Also, my legs were shaky from the hike up and I was exhausted.  So my goal at this point was to avoid injury since I have a patella that likes to go its own way sometimes.  Mistake #3 – Not wearing goggles or bringing my glasses!  Okay, this wouldn’t apply to everyone – but more for those who wear contacts.  My eyes were dry from not sleeping and the dust. My vision was blurry and I was getting a headache. I wish I had brought my glasses or wore some goggles.  Because not being able to see definitely slowed me down!

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  • Mental Fatigue – About halfway down the descent I contemplated whether or not I was going to make it.  In addition to there not being as many stations on the way down, there also aren’t very many trail markers.  So we had no idea how many meters we had back to the 5th station.  It really was a motivation killer and tested my will power.  I just wanted to know how much longer to the end.  But nope, just more steep hills and rocks.  And my contacts were now giving me a headache.  I remembered to bring Tylenol so I could at least fix that.

 

  • Homestretch – We finally made it back to the forest which meant we were close to the 5th station.  We also started seeing more happy hikers ascending which meant they had just begun their journey.  They were friendly with their “Hi’s, Hello’s, Konichiwa’s” – however, I was not up for small talk and just wanted to not die on this volcano.  I must have looked stressed because a couple of people asked if I was okay and threw some encouraging words my way.  I wasn’t having it though.

Finish Line – “Is that a Torii gate?” We asked that question a lot on the way down.  Because we knew if we saw the Torii gate, the 5th station was only a few feet away. Then I realized my next mistake – Mistake #4 – I underestimated the importance of the correct socks.  I figured my regular ole socks would work, but it was a costly mistake.  My toes were in pain and I could feel painful blisters.  I definitely should have invested in some hiking socks. Combined with the lack of gaiters, this almost broke me. But alas, after what felt like wandering in the desert for 40 years, we made it to the Promised Land.  Hallelujah!

 

  • The last stamp – We made it back to the 5th station around 4pm, but had to wait an hour for the bus to arrive to take us back to the car.  So we rested, hydrated, and ate some food at the small diner that was there.  The station was closing when we had arrived the night before so we didn’t get our stamps then.  They happily fired up the pit so we could get our final stamp of the journey.  After they started laughing and my friend translated for me, I realized my last mistake. Mistake #5 – My stick was upside down the WHOLE time. Remember in the beginning, my husband gave me his stick?  Yeah, he had the flag at the end that I thought was the top so I didn’t even check. Also, in hindsight hiking poles would have been the better option for this trip anyways.  My sweet friend let me borrow hers for most of the descent and took my stick (and she didn’t realized the stick was upside down either so I don’t feel AS bad, but still – rookie mistake).

 

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My last stamp! #stampmystick

Okay, so what did I do right? Here are a few tips in case you’re thinking of taking the journey yourself!

  • Tissues – Mt. Fuji messes with your sinuses plus the temps fluctuate – pack tissues.
  • Yen – I brought plenty of yen. Bring extra in case you have an emergency!
  • Dressed in layers – I felt like I was dressed appropriately and comfortably.  I also brought a beanie for the cold and a hat for the warmth.  Sunglasses are a must too.  Also bring sunscreen if you burn easily.
  • Water – I brought about 5 liters of water which probably would have been enough if I had paced my hydration better. I could have used another 16 ounces towards the end.
  • Station timing – The stations DO close for a few hours late at night.  I was happy we were at the top to get our stamps.  However, it’s possible that your timing is off and you don’t make it to the top in time for your stamp.
  • September – I think going at the end of the climbing season is a better choice.  July is still rainy, cold, and windy on the mountain – it’s possible that the top could even close due to bad weather. August is blazing hot.  September is starting to cool off again and while a typhoon did come through a couple of days later, it didn’t impact our climb.
  • Air – I brought a can of air, but ended up not needing it.  I’m glad I brought it though because I’ve heard altitude sickness is not pleasant at all.  And yes, I returned the air for a full refund.  Thank you, Mega.
  • Expectations – Before climbing, we all agreed that it was okay if we didn’t summit.  We would just listen to our bodies and be thankful that we could even attempt to climb.  I read in a brochure for a Mt. Fuji group tour that “The mountain doesn’t care – about your goals, your feelings, your health.” And that stuck with meMake sure you go with willpower, but leave your pride on the bus.  Mount Fuji is beautiful and brutal.

Climbing Fuji-San is an enlightening experience, but also a very humble one.  People ask me what kind of shape you need to be in to climb.  And while I recommend you have some type of endurance, stamina, and leg strength, you also need the mental strength and courage to carry on.  We saw elderly folks & kids climbing and people wearing Crocs and jeans.  Could you climb it solo?  Absolutely.  Logically, if something went wrong there are enough other hikers that would help you.  I don’t think you would have to 127 hours- yourself or anything (ya know, cut off your arm with an old knife to survive).  But would you have the emotional and mental strength to get through without the support? That’s the bigger question.

Overall, even though we hiked all night without sleeping, I’m glad I did it.  Would I do it again?  There is a Japanese proverb that says, “A wise man climbs Fuji once, a fool does it twice. And if you don’t climb it you are destined to return to Japan.” So I think once is good enough for me.

Oh one more thing – we went to an Onsen immediately after and it was the best decision.  The hot soak helped my muscles recover much faster.  I highly recommend going to one near Fuji!

What about you?  Is this on your bucket list?!

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On top of the world!

~SM

3 Reasons to Get Low in OOfos!

“Disclaimer: I received a pair of OOfos OOmg Fibre Low Shoes to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”

Something that I’ve realized during my running experience is that you must take care of your feet!  Foot issues can lead to knee issues which can lead to hip issues which can lead to back issues. So when new runners ask me where to start, I usually recommend to go to a running specialty store and get fitted for a proper shoe.  And now that I’ve increased my running distance over the years, I’ve found that proper recovery is also an important aspect of exercise.  And one of my favorite recovery tools are OOfos recovery shoes!

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I’ve been using my OOfos sandals for a couple of years now, so I was excited when a new women’s OOmg Fibre Low Shoe was released!  Here are my top 3 reasons why you should get low 😉 in the new OOmg Fibre shoes!

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  • OOfoam – OOfoam is this magical foam technology that “absorbs 37% more impact than other footwear foams.  OOfoam impact absorbing recovery technology has been scientifically proven to reduce stress on your body while walking, allowing you to recover faster after a workout and feel better all day.” (from oofos.com)

I know this might sound too good to be true, but these little foam shoes really felt like walking on clouds!  I spent a whole day standing at a Japanese festival and my feet were dead by the time I got home.  So the first thing I did the next day was slip into my OOfos and my feet felt instant relief. I have arch issues so the cradle design was much appreciated!

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  • Socks or no socks – Another great thing about the OOfos OOmg Fibre Low shoes is that that they are versatile which means you can choose to wear them with or without socks.  I tried them both ways and overall I preferred them without socks just because I felt like it allowed the shoe to better conform to my feet.  But I did like throwing them on right after a run and relaxing in my socks sometimes, too!  They are also pretty lightweight and super flexible which makes them nice for travel purposes.

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  • Project Pink – Just to add to the amazingness of these shoes is that 3% of all sales from OOfos.com go to breast cancer research through the cause called Project Pink.  And for every pair of shoes sold from the Project Pink collection, OOfos will donate $10 to Project Pink.  So not only are you gaining an awesome pair of recovery footwear, you are making a difference at the same time!

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Overall, I was really pleased with these shoes.  Any foot soreness instantly diminished as soon as I slipped these on!  I just wished they came in more colors!

Price: $139.95 – this may seem a little pricey, but I do think it is important to invest in your feet especially if you are an athlete or just on your feet a lot (i.e. nurses, teachers, etc.)

So grab a pair of OOfos OOmg Fibre Low shoes and treat your feet! 🙂

Have you tried OOfos recovery shoes?  What did you think?

~SM

The #1 Thing I Learned From the #BlogFest Virtual PreCon!

This year’s IDEA World Fitness BlogFest will be held June 28th-July 1st in San Diego, CA.  I am super bummed that I no longer reside in sunny SoCal and will not be able to attend the festivities! Lucky for me, Idea World and Fit Approach came together to create the first ever BlogFest Virtual PreCon available through Facebook! Expert speakers shared their wisdom and enthusiasm via Facebook Live with all of us bloggers from all over the world!  Here are a few things that I learned from the virtual BlogFest special guests!

Tasha Edwards from Hip Healthy Chick (Topic: Connecting With Your Followers)

  1. Be authentic on your social media platforms.
  2. Genuinely engage with others.  Support and encourage your social media community.

Lyn Lindbergh from Couch to Active (Topic: GRIT)

  1. Live a life you love!
  2. Use GRIT to get through something you don’t like – to take you where you want to go.

Fara Rosenzweig from Fit Creative Media (Topic: SEO Tricks)

  1. Utilize Google to find key words and study your Google Analytics.
  2. Consider using Yoast for SEO.

Debrina Wright from I am Debrina: Holistic Life + Fitness Coaching (Topic: Be Unapologetically Selfish)

  1. It’s not selfish to love yourself!
  2. Practice self-care – Take yourself out on dates! Go on field trips!

Dr. Beth Brombosz from Sublimely Fit (Topic: Writing a Book)

  1. YOU can easily write a book! –> Consider Self-Publishing (check out CreateSpace).
  2. Repurpose your work – create an outline.

Courtney Bentley from Star Systemz and the Fit, Fierce and Fabulous Podcast (Topic: Podcasting)

  1. Start by being a guest speaker on another show.
  2. Use podcasting as a way to branch out from other social media forms.
  3. Be prepared: have an outline, find a quiet space, use headphones -> make your audience comfortable.

Chrissy Carroll from Snacking in Sneakers (Topic: Pinterest for Blog Growth)

  1. Pin 10-50 pins per day (50% personal content and 50% others).
  2. Use a tool such as TailWind for scheduling.
  3. Put several key words in the description.

Jenine Lopez from Gojen Befit (Topic: Make Money With Your Skills)

  1. Ask your audience what they want.
  2. Use a tiered sale system – offer an incentive.

Kim Peek from Power of Run (Topic: Craft Your Story to Inspire Others)

  1. Make a structure – include a hero, antagonist, plot twist, emotional connection, and conflict resolution.
  2. The customer/client is always the hero of the story.

Logan Kinney from High Vibe Wellness (Topic: Yoga Support)

  1. Trust that the yoga is enough. -> Yoga is more about connecting to our inner selves and less about our physical bodies.
  2. Share your real self on social media (post outtakes, props, etc.)

Dr. Heather Denniston from WELLFITandFED (Topic: Incorporating Brick and Mortar Techniques)

  1. Practice time management (balance work time with engagement time).
  2. Clock out – take 15 minutes for yourself (no phone).

Christine Parizo from Run Out of the Box (Topic: Journalism Techniques for Blogging)

  1. Prepare an outline and questions for interviewing.
  2. Content needs a purpose: educate, inform, or entertain.

Carleeh Mulholland from Healthy Socialite (Topic: Create Photo Worthy Smoothie Bowls)

  1. Add liquid ingredients, then soft ingredients – blend on low to thicken. Slice fruit super thin to stick to bowl.
  2. Solidify bowls in freezer before drizzling on butters.
  3. Lighting is everything – Use a white board for reflection. Invest in a Diva Light Ring.

And the most important thing I learned from the Virtual BlogFest??

I-N-S-P-I-R-A-T-I-O-N!

I was totally inspired watching each speaker and listening to all of their tips!  I finished the week wanting to write a book, start a podcast, grow my Pinterest, practice yoga, create a smoothie bowl, and tons of other things! I was mesmerized by the charisma of each #GirlBoss and I can’t wait to tackle some new goals! It was also a great way to engage with the #SweatPink community!

Thank you Fit Approach and Idea World for providing a virtual opportunity to attend such an amazing event!

Guess what?! You can check out all of the speakers on the Fit Approach Facebook page and score some inspiration for yourself!

Did you attend the Virtual BlogFest Pre-Con? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

~SM

*I am an ambassador for #SweatPink, however this is not a sponsored post. 🙂

The #1 Reason Why I Love Health Warrior Bars!

**Disclaimer: I received two boxes of Health Warrior Bars to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!!

Well it’s a brand new year guys!  Which means everyone is working on self-improvement, new goals, and lifestyle changes.  One of my 2018 goals is to improve my eating habits.  I love eating healthy foods, but I also probably indulge more than I should…and I’m definitely guilty of stealing french-fries from my kids.  So I was pretty stoked (yet a bit skeptical) when I had the opportunity to try out the Health Warrior Chia Bars.

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I was skeptical because usually healthy snack bars are either a) not really all that healthy (have too much sugar/carbs) or b) taste like an old shoe. The main ingredient in the Health Warrior Chia Bars is…well, you guessed it – Chia seeds!

They also contain:

  • 4-5 grams of unrefined sugar
  • 4g of fiber
  • 3g of protein
  • 100 calories (some 110)

AND they are:

  • Vegan
  • Gluten-free
  • Soy-free
  • Dairy-free

Seems like these are leaning towards the “old shoe” taste, huh?  So I decided to start out with the Chocolate Peanut Butter bars first because I basically love PB/Choco flavored anything.

I was surprised to see that these little guys are actually smaller than many other typical health bars.  But I was even more surprised at how great they tasted!  They are pretty chewy, but not too hard and definitely had a great natural-tasting flavor.  I had them for a mid-morning snack a few times and then decided to take them out on a run!

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At first I was a little disappointed with the smallness, but realized that they are the perfect size for my purse and serve as a great pick-me-up during that late afternoon crash.

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Then I went on to try the Vanilla Almond bars.  I didn’t care for this flavor at first, mostly because I don’t really care for anything vanilla flavored in general.  But after the second or third bar, I developed a taste for this flavor and really began to enjoy it! My kids really liked this flavor, too!  No old shoe taste here!

Also, a little SWAG came with my shipment.  A pretty neat coloring book! Coloring is a great way to relax and relieve stress.  And this one is all about running so it’s extra special!  I’ve been thinking of running a marathon sometime in the next couple of years, so maybe this marathon coloring book is a sign that I should turn that dream into a goal. 😉  My kids were excited about the book too and even helped color the letter P. 😉

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He thinks that’s me. 🙂

Overall,  I really loved these bars!  They also come in some other great flavors like Coconut and Apple Cinnamon.   I definitely plan on ordering a few boxes!

Pricing: You can score a box of 15 for $15.99, but you can save some bucks if you subscribe.  And free shipping on orders overs $35!  Also, the marathon coloring book is on sale at the moment for $5.99!

They make great gifts, too! 😉

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So what’s the #1 reason WHY I love these little fellas????

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Answer:  They are super filling!!! I couldn’t believe the mighty punch these little bars packed.  Some days I just had one of these for breakfast and it kept me going through a 3 mile run and into lunch.  I think they are great to have for traveling, hiking, and running!  Not only did they fill me up, I didn’t get that heavy feeling or sugar crash feeling that some bars often give me.

And they go great with coffee. 😉

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What do you think?  Have you tried these?  What’s your fave flavor?!

Happy New Year!

~SM

Be Safe – Be Brilliant

Disclaimer: I received a free set of Brilliant Reflective Strips to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Running and biking are fun, but they can also be dangerous…especially if you are doing either one in the mornings or evenings.  I always try to be vigilant, stay aware of my surroundings and wear proper gear when I’m running and/or biking…even more so when I have the kiddos tagging along.  So I was really stoked to hear about the Brilliant Reflective Strips!

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They are little strips that can either stick-on or iron-on to your gear and clothes.  You can also choose between a few different colors!  I chose purple cause it’s my fave color. 😉

I wasn’t sure what to expect with these guys.  When you pull them out, it just looks like big pieces of colored tape.  So I didn’t think they could really do a whole lot.

Well I was wrong!

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They lit up my BoB like a Christmas Tree! 🙂  *Full Disclosure: the two shiny spots on the very top of the stroller are part of the stroller itself.  But everything else is all the Brilliant Strips!

I also added them to my kiddos’ bikes!

I couldn’t believe at how bright these strips were!  Even though we don’t typically ride bikes early in the mornings or in the evenings, we have lost track of time a few times and headed home during dusk.  I really liked having the strips on the kids’ bikes and helmets for added safety and peace of mind.

Then I headed for the trails! 🙂

The trails are great for running because you don’t have to worry about getting hit by a car.  However, while running or hiking alone is peaceful and refreshing…it also means that your safety is at a higher risk.  The Brilliant Reflective Strips could literally be a lifesaver in the event that you get lost or injured.  Most rescue groups would be searching for you with a flashlight or spotlight so they would find you much more quickly if your clothes/shoes are lighting up within the brush.

So during the time of testing out the Brilliant Reflective Strips, I moved to Japan. (Say what?!)  Yes, I know, this seems a bit out of nowhere…but have no fear, there will be a follow-up blog post explaining more on that.

Anywho, over here in Japan cars are driven on the left side of the road.  This is something that I am still getting used to as by reflex I want to run on the left side of the road – which would be against traffic in America.  So I’m trying to train myself to run on the right side of the road over here.  Also, while there are sidewalks in most areas, sometimes I am forced to run on the side of the road.  And the roads are pretty narrow here so I’m adjusting to that as well.  In addition, it’s hot as Hades over here so I have run in the evening a couple of times to avoid melting in this summer heat.  I think after living in San Diego for so long I forgot what actual humidity was like.

So I was thankful to have my Brilliant Reflective Strips with me since I’m out here running on the wrong side of the road and whatnot.  Also, manhole covers in Japan are artistically amazing.

And here are a couple of other #seenonmyrun pics just for fun.

I didn’t try out the iron-on strips because I was able to reuse the stick-on strips just fine and I wanted to see how I liked them before I permanently adhered them to anything.

And that was something else that I loved about the strips – you can cut them how you like and reuse them to customize all of your outdoor gear!

Pricing: $14.95 and free shipping

Overall, here is my conclusion about the strips:

Pros:  1. Added safety and increased visibility – The Brilliant Reflective strips allow you to be seen 500 ft. sooner.  (according to brilliantreflective.com)

2. Easy to use – I like that you can easily cut the strips and reuse them for different clothes/gear

3.  Pricing – I think the product is well-priced since it saves you from having to buy all reflective clothing – which can get pretty pricy.  Plus free shipping!

4.  Colors – I like that they come in different colors, especially purple!

Cons:  1.  Quantity: Really my only con is that you are unable to choose the quantity that comes in the package.  Each package comes with 8 strips which I felt wasn’t enough in my case.  I would like to add the strips to my shoes, bikes, helmets, strollers, and clothes.  I think there should be an option to purchase the strips in various amounts – Maybe an option for  4, 8, 16, or 24 strips and offer them at different price points.

Other than that, I really think these strips are a great concept and I hope to see more people using them!  Especially with the combination of distracted driving and people running/biking in the dark. I think the Brilliant Reflective Strips could save lives!  I know I’ll be adding more to my jogging strollers for sure!

Want to try some for yourself?  Head over to bit.ly/BRforRunners and use code “BRP35” save 35%!  They would make a great gift for your active friends and family!  And you may even save their life. 😉

Join me on #Bibchat on Twitter July 11th at 6pm PST for your chance to win some of your own!  See you there!

Check out #BeBrilliant on social media to see other ways people are using these handy little strips!

Sidenote: I’ve been singing “Shiny” from Moana the entire time I’ve been writing this.  Go ahead, look it up and take a listen. 😉

~SM

 

 

Are You Ready to ROCK?!

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon San Diego as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”
I can’t believe the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series in San Diego is finally here!  I have been waiting patiently (or not so patiently) for this awesome weekend!  So before I get into the Expo highlights (there was a parade involved), I’ll fill you in on what’s happened since my last Rock ‘n’ Roll post.  Here are a few highlights!
I met MEB (again)!  Road Runner Sports held a “Rock ‘n’ Roll hype night” last month to get us all stoked for #RNRSanDiego.  Meb spoke some runspiration into all of us, we got to check out the RNR medals, and we had the chance to win some prizes!  Sadly I didn’t win anything, but I did get another photo op with my old pal, Meb Keflezighi. 😉

 

I took to the lake!  I really enjoy doing training runs around the lakes in San Diego because I don’t have to worry about getting hit by a car and they include stroller friendly paths.  Also, ducks. 🙂
I scored FREE Lululemon!  The #morethanmilestour made its way to San Diego and I took advantage!  Basically you wait in line (length of time depends on location), pick out some shorts, pants, or a shirt to wear.  Try it on in their pop-up fitting room and run on a treadmill for 2 minutes – yep, exactly 2 minutes – you watch a video while you run.   You also may receive some free healthy samples while you’re waiting in line and might even do a sample strength routine led by an instructor.  And that’s it!  You get to keep the gear you try!  I scored a free pair of running shorts and they are sweet!  Check out #morethanmilestour and #thetesttruck on social media or visit the Lululemon website to find out if #thetesttruck is coming to a city near you.  The employees were super nice and the treadmill is glorious!
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Then, disaster struck 😦 During one of my surge runs, I rolled my ankle on a slanted driveway in my neighborhood (should’ve stuck to the lakes that I’m used to).  I hope you sung that TLC style.  Anywho, I had to R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate); however, I did rack up some miles on the stationary bike to keep up my cardio.
And as far as nutrition goes, I’ve been fueling up on oatmeal, sweet potatoes, bananas, peanut butter, veggies, eggs, and chicken breasts!  Love this gluten-free spicy coating from Aleia’s!
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So that brings us to Rock ‘n’ Roll weekend!  The expo was held yesterday and today.  I went yesterday because I participated in the 5k this morning.  The expo is held at the San Diego Convention Center.  The good thing about this is that it’s a HUGE space so lots of room for plenty of vendors.  The bad thing about this is that it’s downtown, which means – parking $$$$ boooo.  Parking at the Convention Center is convenient, but will cost you $15.  You’re good for the whole day though so essentially you could park here, hit the expo, and then go sightsee around downtown.  I had my daughter with me so I was just going to hit the expo and leave.  I parked at the Convention Center, but the parking meter thing was broke sooooo I parked for free.  There’s also some handy public transportation options available.
I arrived around 3pm which meant I just missed an appearance from Meb – good think I saw him last month!  It wasn’t overly crowded and there were tons of volunteers directing traffic and keeping things orderly.
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First, I grabbed my bibs, shirts, and gear check bag.  Then I let my daughter take some pics with overly sized props and we headed into the merchandise section.  They have a HUGE area dedicated to Brooks running shoes and then a big area of Rock ‘n’ Roll merchandise.  Then we headed into the vendor area to score some samples and SWAG!
This place was happenin’ to say the least.  It felt like a big party!  There was a DJ, photo booths, and even a parade with confetti, balloons, and glitter!  My daughter and I actually made it into the parade video.  Blink and you’ll miss us, but we were there livin’ it up!
I also liked that the café was open so you could snag lunch and drinks while you’re checking out all of the vendors!  And my favorite thing about the expo was that they had a gaming area complete with a giant Jenga set and Connect Four game!  This is a great idea especially for parents who have to bring along the littles.  Also, I’m sure adults enjoyed this, too. 😉
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Overall,  I felt like the expo really delivered!  Everyone was super nice and generous with samples and coupons.  I wished I had time to get taped from one of the tape booths, but maybe next time!  The only negative I will say is that there was only one way into the expo and one way out.  And they were pretty strict about this.  I’m sure it’s to keep everything orderly and safe.  I was just annoyed that I had to walk all the way across the expo hall to get to the exit.  It also looked like everyone really enjoyed themselves as well!

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Stay tuned next week for my review on the 5k, the half marathon, and of course, the SWAG!  And if you aren’t running in the event tomorrow, come out and party with the bands and cheer on the racers!

See you! 😉

~SM

Gluten Free & Allergen Friendly Expo Review

Earlier this year, I attended the Gluten Free & Allergen Friendly Expo (GFAF Expo) in San Diego and it did not disappoint! The GFAF Expo is a two-day gluten free and allergen friendly event that comes to cities all over the U.S.  I also had the opportunity to attend as an official blogger which meant I got a little extra swag. 😉

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It was held at the Del Mar Fairgrounds which would normally mean that there were some nice views, but it happened to be raining this day so everyone pretty much ran inside to dodge the rain.

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Since it was at the fairgrounds, there was plenty of close parking and I arrived early enough to avoid any traffic.

Before I get into the review, I will disclose that I do not have any food allergies myself.  However, when attending many get-togethers or playdates involving foods, coordinators will often ask for people to be considerate of others’ unique dietary needs when bringin snacks.  So I thought this would be a great opportunity to not only score some swag, but find out what types of tasty and allergen friendly foods were out there!

The morning started out with a free breakfast hosted by BFree Foods.  They talked about their company and offered us coffee, bagels, juice, and fruit.  We were then free to network with other bloggers and vendors before the expo officially opened.  Then they gave us our own swag bags and we were off to explore!

One cool thing about the expo is that each vendor has an information card on their table that lets you know if their product contains a particular sensitive ingredient.

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The event also featured authors and speakers that presented information all throughout the day.

There seemed to be a good attendance at these classes since I saw several people standing for the presentation as the chairs filled up.  I listened in on a couple of presentations and the presenters seemed enthusiastic and informative.

There were TONS of vendors at this event so I won’t be able to mention every single one, but you can go to the GFAF Expo website to learn more.  I will, however, touch on the ones that stood out to me!

Enjoy Life Foods  had a cute little set up, where you could score goodies along a maze-type structure.  I also think their products are super tasty, especially those chocolate chips!

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Garden Lites offered up some pretty sweet waffles and Namaste Foods gave out delicious cake samples!

One of my favorite vendors was Brazi Bites!  I love these little bread balls and I’m hoping they come out with a cinnamon flavor at some point.  You may have seen them on Shark Tank, but if not…definitely check them out in your freezer section!

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There were a couple of different Kombucha brands, but I enjoyed the ginger-lemon sample from Health-ade the most.  Sunbutter had a pretty big presence at the event and they were generous with their samples and also handed out some little coloring books for the kids.

Keli’s Hawaiian Sauces were pretty dope and I thought they would be great on all different types of foods. The folks over at RP’s Pasta were also very friendly and generous!

I enjoyed the flavors from Rise Buddy Snacks, but unfortunately my kids weren’t too thrilled with this snack.  Smart Flour Foods gave out yummy pizza samples and this also something that I would purchase in the future!

 

I tried an interesting sample from Natti Bar.  They’re basically bananas mashed into bars.  Personally, I would prefer just eating a regular banana but others may dig these little things.  Betsy’s Best offered samples of different types nut butters, but I just didn’t think it tasted much different than other brands.

Glutenberg Craft Beers were one of the gluten-free beers representing at this event.  I thought it tasted okay, but I’m also not big on craft beers so I’m sure others would enjoy this.  It also looked like many people were skipping over the beer booths so I’m not sure gluten-free beer is a super popular thing.

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Another vendor that I really enjoyed was Aleia’s Foods.  They offer a variety of gluten-free stuffing, bread crumbs, croutons, and cookies.  I almost devoured a whole box of chocolate chunk cookies by myself.  I couldn’t even tell they were missing any gluten!  And use code “GFAF17” to save $1.00 on your online purchase!

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Towards the end of the day, I got to try a decadent German chocolate brownie from Coronado’s Gluten Free Pantry.  I was also really drawn to their packaging so I definitely recommend checking out their products!

There were also some non-food exhibitors such as: Beautycounter; Hands for Life Ocean Beach (They gave me a demo and I was informed that I needed an adjustment); San Diego Meditation (which I probably need); and some massage people that wanted to sell me a $200 device that felt like a shock treatment.  The authors also had a few booths where they were selling their books.

I only attended on Saturday, but I was able to hit up pretty much every booth.  The place got pretty packed throughout the day, but I didn’t have to wait at the booths for very long.

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So what was the SWAG?!

Every attendee was given an Enjoy Life reusable bag with some samples and coupons when they first walked in the door.  Sprouts Farmers Market also gave out reusable bags with some greek yogurt samples as well as fresh fruit.  I also received the BFree swag bag that included full-size bread samples, coupons, an infuser bottle, and a selfie stick!  And because I was an official blogger, many of the vendors gave me some extra swag as well as their business cards for future networking.

And here are the goodies that I collected…

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Yep, it was a pretty large haul!  So much that I could barely fit it all in one picture!  I also scored a huge stack of coupons for discounted or free items so that definitely added to the value.

Overall, I really enjoyed this event!  I learned about a lot of new brands and I was introduced to some interesting food items.  However,  I did feel that one genre of brands was missing.  And that was cleaning products!  I was really surprised that I didn’t see any natural cleaning product brands represented at this event.  I also think they should have put our blogger names or social media handles on our badges since that’s what most of us go by in the blogger world.

I recommend this event to anyone with a food allergy or that has a family member/friend with a food allergy.  I also recommend this event to anyone that just wants to learn about new products or about healthier living in general!

If you are planning to attend this event in your city, I do have a few tips!

  1.  Arrive early!  There are so many booths that it can seem overwhelming so give yourself enough time to get through most of the expo and catch a couple of presentations.  Even better if you can attend both days!
  2. Come hungry!  I literally just ate samples all day and I was full for the whole day.  I even had to turn some samples down at the end because I was pretty stuffed.
  3. Bring water!  There were only a few beverage vendors along with some water fountains at this particular venue.  Bring enough water to get you through the whole day because you will be tasting lots of yummy foods.

Be sure to check out http://gfafexpo.com/ to see if this event is coming to a city near you!  Tickets run about $5-$35 which is totally worth it for what you get at this event.  The price does not include parking so make sure to check your venue for parking details.  You can also get involved by volunteering, blogging, or presenting at this event so be sure to check out the website for more info.

I really enjoyed blogging for this event!  I was able to connect with some other local bloggers as well as network with some pretty amazing brands.  I would definitely attend this event in the future.  You can also follow @gfafexpo on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!  And thanks again to all of the sponsors! 🙂

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Did you attend the GFAF Expo this year?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

***Note: I was provided free admission to the Gluten Free and Allergen Friendly Expo in San Diego as part of being an official member of the 2017 GFAF Expo Blogger Team.  All opinions are my own.

I’m off to review the next event!

~SM

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