Thursday, September 27, 2012


This photo graced the front of the Fairfax Connection today:

First of all, this was a total surprise, because I thought there was just going to be an article. Instead, I somehow found my way onto the cover of both the Springfield and Fairfax Connection, with an article and some pictures inside of both.

And I'm going to be honest, I felt a little bit like I felt in the picture above when I found my face folded up in the driveway. Pretty cool stuff, I think.

I love this picture (by MacCabe Jamrosz of the Connection Newspapers) because it captures the excitement and the joy of the moment.

I've been feeling excited a lot lately. It just feels like there's a lot of new opportunities happening in my life, and it's exciting to think of all of the new experiences I'm going to get to have this year.

Like working with Girls on the Run.

Today I had my first meeting with the head coach for the Girls on the Run team I'll be working with as an assistant coach over the next few months. Starting next Tuesday, we'll have a group of 18 elementary school girls who we'll coach to run a 5k as well as talk about all sorts of things, from fueling for a run to making friends. I'm excited to help young girls find a passion for running and being active, and I'm sure I'll be posting about all I learn on here.

I also found myself back in the gym, lifting weights for the first time in a while. I always forget how much I love lifting weights until I'm back in the gym. I'm pretty sure I'm going to feel my shoulders in a whole new way tomorrow, but I'm kind of looking forward to it.

PS - Did anyone else see Simon Cowell throw the double thumbs up on X-Factor last night? If only he knew it was my signature move...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Motivational Tunesday

Happy Tunesday! This week's playlist is a compilation of songs that motivate/inspire/pick-you-up when your work out feels tough (or when you just need something to listen to to feel inspired). You can listen to my playlist here.

Also, if you haven't already, be sure to like my page on Facebook.

Motivational Tunesday:
The Fighter - Gym Class Heroes ft. Ryan Tedder
The World's Greatest - R. Kelly
Stronger - Kanye West
Ready to Run - Dixie Chicks
Love is a Battlefield - Pat Benatar
Stronger - Kelly Clarkson
Settlin' - Sugarland
Fighter - Christina Aguilera
Faith - George Michael
What songs motivate you during a tough work out? Comment with your favorites!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Bikram reflections: sometimes all you need is some good stretching

If I'm being honest, I got a little overzealous yesterday evening when I decided to run 7.25 miles and follow with a 1.75 mile walk with my dad.

It was part of our training for the Marine Corps Marathon, so we needed to do it, but following the excitement and late night from Saturday, my body could have used an easier run. Still, it was a weird feeling waking up this morning to some soreness in my legs (and feeling a little bit like I had pulled a muscle).

Luckily, I got myself to Reggie's 8:15 Bikram class tonight. Some of the poses were a little bit more painful than usual -- standing head to knee and toe stand stick out in my head right now -- but I'm definitely glad I got a solid ninety minutes of stretching in.

Stretching is one aspect of exercise that I always underestimate. I think in the past I had always been too impatient to "waste my time" improving my flexibility when I could be lifting weights or doing cardio. Ever since taking up Bikram, though, I've found myself really valuing the time I spend stretching. I definitely notice improvements in my ability to recover from soreness when I practice yoga as compared to when I do not.

Do you incorporate stretching into your fitness routine? If so, what do you do?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

I’m going to Miss Virginia!!

Yesterday, after meeting and competing with 12 other amazing women from all over the state of Virginia, I was given an incredible opportunity by being crowned Miss Greater Springfield 2013.


Over the next year, I will work to promote both the Children’s Miracle Network and my own personal platform, Start the Conversation, which encourages young women to begin talking about disordered eating. I am hoping to spend my year speaking to high school and college students and encouraging them to work with each other to rebuild a healthy relationship with food.

And, I’ll have the chance to compete to become Miss Virginia.

It still hasn’t hit me yet, and I’ve had several moments today where I turn to my parents and just reiterate “I’m going to Miss Virginia.”

If you are interested in donating to the Children’s Miracle Network, please go here. Your donation will directly benefit children, and will help me reach my goal of raising at least $350 for Miss Virginia.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Throwback Tunesday

Who’s to say that Tunesday has to happen on a Tuesday? Not this girl, that’s for sure.

My friend Kelly suggested that I start linking the playlists that I make on here to real life playlists that readers could listen to. Great idea! She suggested using 8tracks, but either I am technologically challenged or 8tracks hates me (or both), and I couldn’t figure out how to upload my playlists :(

Luckily, I think I figured out a decent alternative. I love Spotify for listening to music on my computer, and I know some people use Spotify premium to listen to music on other devices, so I’ve begun creating my playlists in Spotify.

Today’s playlist is a medley of some of my favorite songs to sing along to from the ‘90’s and ‘00’s. As such, I’m calling it Throwback Tunesday, and you can listen here.

Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It Will Smith
Everybody – Backstreet’s Back The Backstreet Boys
Crazy Britney Spears
Tearin’ Up My Heart N Sync
Fantasy Mariah Carey
Mambo No. 5 Lou Bega
Wannabe Spice Girls
Waiting for Tonight Jennifer Lopez
…Baby One More Time Britney Spears
Jumpin’ Jumpin’ Destiny’s Child
I’ll Be There For You The Rembrandts
B.O.B. OutKast
Yeah! Usher
Lose Control Missy Elliot
Roses OutKast

I’m going to work to get all of my playlists uploaded into my Spotify account for your listening pleasure.
Mostly guilty listening pleasure, let’s be honest.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remembering September 11, 2001

Every year, I take time to reflect on 9/11/2001, because it was a day that had a profound impact on my life. It is a day that forever changed my generation, this country, and the world.

This year is the first year in five years that I get to be with my family on 9/11. Going to school in Georgia made 9/11 difficult in that I found that my experience was different than that of my classmates, which made it hard to find someone who could relate to having the same emotional connection to this day. Luckily, one of my best friends from college grew up in the DC area as well, and so I was fortunate to have someone that I could reflect with during my time at UGA.

During my senior year, I was fortunate to have an editorial published in the Red and Black, our University newspaper. I wrote it because in 2010, the conversation about the building (or not building) of a mosque near Ground Zero had clouded the newspaper’s coverage of 9/11. My editorial received several Letters to the Editor and even prompted a follow-up editorial.

In honor of the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks, and in hopes that it will prompt whoever reads it to drop the politics just for today and instead remember and reflect, I am reposting my editorial below.


Flags on the UGA campus in memory of those who lost their lives.

Alan Jackson once asked “where were you when the world stopped turning”?

I remember Sept. 11, 2001 vividly -— it was one of those early fall days in Washington, D.C. that you look forward to all year.

It was a Tuesday, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

I was in my second week of seventh grade.

I remember being in Mrs. Folsom’s science class when she got an e-mail and decided to turn on the TV.

But most of all, I remember my classmate crumpling next to me as we watched a plane slam into the Pentagon over and over again.

I grew up 20 minutes outside of Washington, D.C.

On that fateful morning, my mom was working as a contractor based out of the Pentagon. While she had a meeting elsewhere that Tuesday, many of my friends — including my classmate in Mrs. Folsom’s class — had parents working in the Pentagon and within the city.

As we watched that plane crash into the side of a familiar building, we were scared for our families and for ourselves.

That fear only intensified as cell phone calls failed to go through.

Recently, the politics of building a mosque near Ground Zero has clouded our national memory of Sept. 11.

Everyone has a story of where they were that Tuesday because it was a national tragedy. Whether you were near the violence like me or hours away, the uncertainty and fear felt was shared.

So was the unification and patriotism we all experienced after the attacks.

But when the discussion of Sept. 11 and the memory of what we all experienced turns into a political debate, our shared experiences begin to implode.

Focusing on whether or not to allow building of a mosque or debate the rights and wrongs of burning a holy text destroys our mutual feelings of patriotism.

Sept. 11 is a day which has forever changed my life — and yours.

It is a day which has sparked prejudice, launched a war and has completely changed the landscape of a major city.

Because of that Tuesday, you now have to arrive at the airport two hours before your domestic flight.

You can’t take liquids into many major stadiums.

And, an entire Cabinet department has been created.

Above all, we lost thousands of innocent Americans in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. Victims were of every age, race and religion.

Terror does not discriminate.

Focusing on politics rather than on remembrance undermines the impact that this one day — really just two hours — has had on all of us as Americans.

This week, I encourage you to reflect on your own memories of Sept. 11.

Remember where you were, what you felt and how your life has been changed.

Most importantly,  remember the thousands that we lost and their grieving families.

Let the politics wait until October.

Monday motivation

Note: this was supposed to post yesterday, but didn't for whatever reason :( Tuesday motivation doesn't have as nice of a ring to it, so I'm keeping the title.

In the next week, I'm going to be implementing a few new things around the blog based on suggestions from friends and readers -- starting with today's post, which I'm hoping will become a regular feature.

One of my managers read my blog and suggested that I post about what I do to stay motivated on my health and fitness journey. I think it's a great idea, especially since it's something that I constantly struggled with every other time I attempted to "get fit" or lose weight.

My biggest motivator this time, and what I think has made this time different than every other time that didn't stick, has been looking at my journey as just that - a journey. Lasting fitness or weight loss doesn't happen overnight, and understanding that your journey isn't always going to be perfect is crucial to success (in my under-qualified-only-based-on-personal-experience opinion).

For example, this week in particular has been a rough one eating-wise. For whatever reason, I've found it difficult to stick to eating healthy foods, and have had quite a few more sugary treats than I probably should have. I blame some of that on Jif's Mocha Cappuccino Hazelnut spread, which is like Nutella but better and somehow found its way into my pantry. I didn't purchase it, but man is it delicious. And terrible for you. But delicious.

Anyways, it's frustrating because I feel terrible - when you're fueling your body with unhealthy things, it affects your energy... something about a glycemic index or something? I'm not a doctor, I just pretend to know what I'm talking about.

Old me probably would have just thrown in the towel, in a "well, it's been fun being fit, but I really like this chocolatey-oil spread, so there's that..." sort of way. The motivated me is looking it as a journey, as in, "hey, I may have had a rough week, but I'm in this for the long haul, and in the grand scheme of things, a rough week is just life."

It was a pretty tasty week of eating terrible things, but I am certainly ready to remotivate myself with the high energy I get from eating well  -- especially since it helps me reach new fitness goals too!

How do you motivate yourself? Interested in writing a Monday Motivation post for Life Gets Two Thumbs Up? Contact me!!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The best things I’ve read this week

One of the reasons that I love to blog is because I’ve been a passive member of the blogging community for the last few years. My Google Reader is constantly full of new content – from healthy living blogs to fraternity blogs to positive thinking blogs, it’s like I get to read a new magazine every day with content tailored to me.

Here’s some of the blog posts I’ve recently starred – just click on the excerpt to read the full post!:

“No matter how big or small, all that’s important is you take some sort of action to get you closer to what matters” –The Night Everything Changed & The Power of Human Connection, Live Your Legend

“Become aware of and sensitive to feelings rather than ignoring them. This means your own feelings as well as others.” –Ten Practical Steps to Inner Peace, Bloom

Double Chocolate Protein Bites recipe over at Peanut Butter Fingers

Jillian’s Back On The Biggest Loser! over at Angry Trainer Fitness

In the real world, I also picked up three books at the library:

oprj running thencameyou

What are some of your favorite blogs to read? And do you have any other great book suggestions for me?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Bikram reflections: class without water

One of the instructors at my yoga studio talks about how it's been years since he's had water with him in a Bikram class. Today was actually my third class water-less. And by water-less, I mean that I brought water in (just in case), but didn't actually drink any.

Bikram legend has it that if you've come into class dehydrated, it's already too late to rehydrate yourself with just water. It's why proper hydration throughout the day prior to a class or the night before if you're taking it in the morning is so important.

The temperature and humidity conditions of a Bikram yoga room are such that you're supposed to sweat, and you're supposed to sweat a lot. If you're improperly hydrated, your body doesn't have enough water to generate an adequate amount of sweat -- your body's built in cooling system can't work the way it's supposed to.

What that all boils down to is: that water you're drinking during Bikram class is more for reassuring you mentally, not so much physiologically.

I've found that my practice without water is actually a bit easier -- instead of drinking, I take the full 20 seconds allotted to me for savasana and calm my mind. I don't think about whether or not I'm going to drink, which means I'm more able to focus on my practice.

Obviously, I'm not a professional and I'm not advocating that everyone should stop drinking water while in physically demanding conditions. What I am saying is that with proper hydration, and listening to your body, it is definitely possible to complete the full 90 minutes without water -- as long as you make sure to rehydrate after class :)

Anyone else practice Bikram without water? What did you think?

What’s inspiring me this week

Here’s your weekly dose of inspiration, courtesy of Pinterest (if you’re not already, you should be following me!):
small joys 
This week, as it turns out, is all about small joys and running. It’s going to be a great one!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Sunday runday

On Sunday, I ran 4.5 miles. My first mile was a swift 8:08, which was pretty exciting, because I don't think I've ever ran a mile that fast? I did warn all of you that I was slow. Anyways, the cool thing about 8:08 is that it means I know that I can run a sub-eight minute mile... and that is pretty exciting.

About a mile and a half in, it started raining lightly. I found it to be pretty refreshing, until the sky opened up and just poured. I was running and laughing and thoroughly enjoying this summer storm when I thought about making a playlist about rain!

Well, weather in general really. But the thought came from having Hunter Hayes' Storm Warning come on my iPod in the middle of a downpour.

So here's an upbeat playlist for your rainy runs. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Bikram reflections: setting an intention for your practice

I really did not want to go to yoga today. Last night was rough in that my dog, Rusty, decided that he needed to wake up every two hours to bark at the door, which means my quality eight hours last night wasn't so quality. The lack of sleep combined with a pretty long shift last night meant I woke up feeling dehydrated and kind of icky (for lack of a better description).

Begrudgingly, I ate some egg whites and a couple of whole wheat waffles and dragged my butt out the door, towel and liter of water in hand.

I am so glad I went to yoga today.

Siri Om was teaching, which is always a good start, because I feel like she's talking directly to me. Knowing I was feeling kind of meh going into my practice, I really liked that she started the class advising us to set an intention for our practice.

Setting an intention is something that I definitely don't do as often as I should, but am so glad that I did today. My intention was to focus on my breathing, making sure that I was consistently breathing in and out through my nose in a calm manner.

It was kind of amazing how much of a difference this made in my practice. By focusing on my breathing, I found that I was able to complete the entire sequence, going deeper into many of the postures that usually give me issue. I didn't have a moment where I felt overheated or panicked or like I needed to quit. Honestly, this was probably the most meditative and refreshing class I've taken yet, simply because I set an intention and focused on my breath.

Siri Om continuously repeated "breath before form, form before depth" throughout the class today -- and now I can see why.