Is It Spring Yet? Rainboots!

Is it spring yet? Remember how last week I talked about them winter blues? Well. It’s snowing in Denver again. So I guess, really, the answer to my question is a most definite “no!” It is just not spring yet. So I decided to start counting down. I’m going to count down to blue skies and warmer temps.  Then I’m going to count down to bright colors and tulips. I’m going to countdown to all sorts of Cadbury Eggs. After that, I’m going to count down to baseball and summer vacations. And I’m going to count down to April showers, the quintessence of spring. The moment when the cold snow finally turns into oh-so-welcome, little drip-drip-droplets of soft, cool water.

Oh Bambi.

Anyway. What better way to count down to April showers than by shopping for rainboots? Rainboots are to April as April showers are to spring: the quintessence. (Too much to use that word twice in one post? Eh, I’m leavin’ it.) So, I have scoured these internets high and low for all sorts of different rainboots for you! That is, if you’re in the market. Which, you probably should be. Because, spring and April showers and rainboots and Bambi!

Our Favorite Rainboots

Is It Spring Yet?? Rainboots! #hunters #target #lace #tartan #spring #rainboots #ankle boots #leopard #floral #snakeskin #polkadots #metallic:

001 // 002 // 003 // 004 // 005 // 006 // 007 // 008 // 009 // 010

 

011 // 012 // 013 // 014 // 015 // 016 // 017 // 018 // 019

I want ALL these rainboots. I have included all sorts of different rainboots to choose from, you’re welcome. If you’re looking for some brand name/splurge rainboots, try #1, #2, and #19 (Hunters), #4 (Ugg), #7 (Valentino), and #9 and #10 (Sperry). If you’re looking for something a little less pricey, but still good quality, try #3 and #17 (Target), #15 (Kohl’s), and #11, #12, and #14 (DSW).

What style of rainboot should I buy?

I tried to include a variety of trends. Ankle boots are huge right now. I have a pair of knee-high Hunters, which are always practical and never go out of style. But really, ankle boot rainboots (#4, #10, #11, and #19)? I mean, seriously. I am seriously dying over #11 in particular. With the bow!! And the #10 rainboots are fur-lined! Sperry, for the win!

Anything tartan or plaid is also very trendy right now. The tartan Ralph Lauren rainboots (#13) would be the perfect way to incorporate this look into spring. Metallic is also big, so why not add some metallic to your rainboots? I submit to you that I cannot think of one good reason not to. Sperry’s got Metallic rainboots down (#9 and #10). Plus, I mentioned above, fur-lined! Helloooo! If you like the lace trend, try lace rainboots (#4, #7, and #8). And then, of course, anything printed. Printed rainboots are soo fun! We already talked about the tartan and lace. There’s also polka dots (#12), snakeskin (#16), leopard (my fav! – #17), and floral (#18).

Aaaand, I think that just about covers it for rainboots. Check back next week for the second edition in my countdown to spring… what will it be, what will it be? Oh, the suspense! 😉

OCD: Grocery List edition (free printable)

 

So this ecard perfectly describes my life. Every single Sunday evening, I plan the meals for the upcoming week. Then, I take an inventory of everything I have and everything I need and smash all the items I need onto one very unorganized grocery list. Theeeeen, on a separate, clean sheet of paper, I write out every needed item based on where it is in the store.

 

And WHAT a hassle it is. It is quite a process, let me tell ya. I swear, I waste precious moments of all my Sunday nights going through this same routine. Each and every week. Then not so long ago, Tracey and I were chatting, and I hesitantly told her about my OCD tendencies. Mostly I was hesitant because I knew she’d judge my weirdness and call me a freak. But then, oh gracious gods of grocery shopping, she said she does the same thing! As long as I’m not alone in my OCD, then it’s alll gravy, baby.

 

But still, what a hassle! So we decided we needed a list to make things easier for us. A ready-made grocery list, with the categories already separated out into line-items based on where things are located in the store. And because we are in the business of giving our opinions freely and putting them where they don’t belong, we are giving you our grocery list. And 2 different versions of it. We know.

 

And, here’s a fun disclaimer: I do my grocery shopping at Walmart. Now, I know there are lots of people who are mortally and morally and whatever else against Walmart. If you are that people, just hear me out before you go and get your panties in a bunch. I am a poor newlywed and Walmart has the cheapest groceries I’ve found anywhere, by a long shot. I personally can’t afford to buy all my groceries from Whole Foods (or as my husband calls it, Whole Paycheck. Am I right? Seriously, break my bank, why don’t ya!). Walmart is very practical for my budget. Therefore, that’s where I buy my groceries. However, I will say that produce and deli at Walmart, almost always generally sucks. So. I go elsewhere for those items, unless I’m in a colossal rush. So anyway, what I was going to say is these particular grocery lists are in an order by which most Super Walmarts abide. If you would like a customized grocery list, in the order of whichever grocery store you shop at, leave a comment with the order you’d like, and we’ll try to get it over to you just as soon as we can 🙂

Curing the Winter Blues

I want to be somewhere tropical right now. Somewhere that the white sand is almost too hot to stand on barefoot. Almost too hot, but not quite. Somewhere that a colorful beach towel is perfect for taking a nap in the bright warmth of the sunlight. Somewhere that I can take a couple of steps and end up in the cool, bright blue, salty water, looking for turtles and fishies through a snorkel mask. Somewhere that a line of tall palm trees casts the perfect amount of shade and breeze.

I want to be somewhere that my only care is that my piña colada is going to melt too fast. Or that the sun is going to set too soon. Or that a coconut just might fall on my head. Or that my skin might maybe get a little too red.

Instead, I’m sitting in my tiny apartment. In the middle of suburban America. In the middle of a snowstorm. Where the space heater humming at my side isn’t quite warm enough and the sun has already set and there’s no hope of wearing a swimsuit any time soon. And my cares instead include worrying about what to cook for dinner this week, and when I’m going to finish all the piles and piles and piles of laundry or go grocery shopping, and wondering what bills will make their way to my mailbox tomorrow.

Instead of a piña colada and a suntan, I’ve got the Winter Blues*. In years past, I have cured my Winter Blues with some really fattening foods, as many chick flicks as I can handle, and a healthy dose of a patience, just waiting for longer, warmer days to find me again.

But this year, mostly for the sake of the blog and having something to talk about, I’ve decided to put together a list of 10 things, besides chick flicks and binge eating candy and cupcakes, that can help me through my Winter Blues. And luckily, if you’re reading this, I’m gonna let you use these ideas too. Gosh, we’re nice, huh.

WinterBlues

1) Keep Up on Your Resolutions — Odds are you had some resolutions you made a couple weeks ago when the New Year rolled around. And what better way to keep up on those resolutions than by trying to defeat your Winter Blues? Exercise more. Eat healthier. Work out a budget/get out of debt. Write letters (actual snail mail letters, people) to loved ones. Whatever your resolution may be, winter is a great time to try to achieve them, especially if you’re trying to defeat the Winter Blues. Instead of using winter and the cold and the shorter days as an excuse to get you out of your resolutions, use winter as a reason to actually accomplish those things. Find ways to motivate yourself. It will be worth it, I promise you.

2) Start a Recipe Group or Book Club — Get some friends from the neighbor or from church or from your kids’ schools and plan a time once a month or once every two weeks (whatever fits everyone’s schedules) and get together. Share recipes or read books together. It’s a great opportunity to get out of the house, socialize, meet new people.

3) Be IN Winter — Go out in winter. Don’t let winter keep you inside. Find an activity you enjoy despite the cold outside. Go snowboarding or skiing and snowshoeing. Go sledding or snowmobiling. Go ice-skating or find some ice castles. Go to the zoo. Just make sure to bundle up reaalllyyyyy well.

4) Learn a New Hobby — If you’re too afraid of #3 (understandable if you’re anything like me… I despise being cold more than anything), then stay in your house and learn a new hobby. Learn to sew or cook or bake or scrapbook. Take a class online to help you learn photography or web design or graphic design. Learn how to draw or write calligraphy. Pretty much anything. If there’s something you’ve been wanting to do but just haven’t found the time, why not start now, while you’re sitting in your house feeling sorry that it’s just so darned cold outside.

5) “Spring” Cleaning — Why not get a head start on cleaning your entire house? That way, once spring does actually decide to roll around, your house will be spic and span and you’ll be ready to go outdoors and enjoy the fresh, warm weather!

6) Binge Watch a Show — This is one of my favorite things to do, I admit. It’s bad. I really should do something more productive with my life, but when it’s cold outside and I just wanna curl up under a blanket, Netflix becomes my best friend. Sign up for Netflix or Hulu or even buy a season of that show you’ve heard is soooo good, but you just never had time to watch it.

7) Write in a Journal — I think this one is pretty self-explanatory. Write about whatever you’d like. Things you’ve done. Goals you have. Ideas you’d like to share one day. About how much winter sucks.

8) Create a Photo Book — Websites like Shutterfly, Mixbook, or Snapfish are great tools to help you organize your photos into cute, personalized books. Make a book of your last family vacation, or what you did last summer, or what you did over Christmas break. I guarantee looking through all those pictures will chase those winter blues right away.

9) Serve! — Volunteer at shelters or food kitchens or nursing homes or even your kid’s school. Go by yourself or with friends or with kids. Seek out people who may need your help. I know from experience that the best way to keep you from thinking about yourself is to help someone else in need.

10) Plan a Trip — If all else fails, and you happen to have some money you’ve set aside for a rainy day (or in this case, a snowy day?), go on a trip. Take a staycation for a weekend somewhere close. Take an extended weekend somewhere slightly further away. Take a weeklong trip somewhere you’ve been dying to go. Go somewhere warmer than where you are if that’s what your heart desires. Or go to the mountains somewhere and lock yourself up in a cabin and do any of the ideas above.

Let us know what your favorite things to do to cure your Winter Blues are. And if none of the 10 ideas work for you, just appreciate how beautiful winter can be. My husband took this picture with his iPhone after a snowstorm earlier this month. Whoooaaa. Good job, Kent!

IMG_4172

*Winter Blues in its most severe form is sometimes referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder. It’s a real thing. This post is not meant to belittle or demean that condition or anyone who suffers from it. We are not doctors, and our advice/opinions are not meant to imply that we are. We merely want to share our very unqualified opinion about some things that help us brighten up our own dark winter months.

Last Call: Winter Coats

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel! January is almost over, which means we only have a couple months of winter left, which means Spring! Which then means Summer! Not that I’m counting down the days or anything… except, OK, yes I am. Summer and me, you guys, we are friends. We get along. Summer and me, we have a great relationship. So, it’s no surprise that I’m excited for it to get back into my life.

But until then, I will finish using my snowboarding season pass – gotsta get my money’s worth – and I will keep drinking as much hot chocolate as my tummy will let me and I will keep washing my car after every snowstorm and I will keep my winter coats in the forefront of my closet. As should you… as should you.

So (and my summer-loving self is saying, ‘thankfully!’), this is the last call for winter coats. A winter coats roundup of sorts. And if you’re in the market for a new winter coat, now’s just about the best time that you could be looking! Winter coats and jackets are starting to go on sale to make way for all the spring items that stores are getting in stock, but it’s still cold enough in most places that there is still a good variety to choose from. And the best part (or worst part, depending on how you look at winter) is that you still have a couple months to wear them, depending on where you are. But then, they won’t be so worn that you can’t get use out of them next year too.

LastCall

A couple of things you may want to remember when shopping for winter coats at this time of year:

1) Search for a sale. If you find a coat you like, but it’s not quite on sale yet, either search somewhere else for a similar one or just wait for the one you like to go on sale. Odds are it is on sale somewhere or it will go on sale soon. After all, like I said above, spring is quickly approaching (yay!) and stores are going to want to get rid of their winter coats sooner or later.

2) Keep in mind the season… after all, it is still winter for just a bit longer. Try to find jackets that are versatile enough that you can wear them to finish off this winter season, but that maybe you can keep wearing into spring – you know, maybe something that’s not too dark or too heavy – and that you can, again, wear when winter inevitably makes it way back into your life.

Below, quite a few options of winter coats – several of them are on sale or clearance – to get you started. We aim to please, mostly is what this post is.

(Also, let it be written, let it be known that my love for the Target clearance section surpasses my love for most other things. Just to throw that out there.)

Denim

Dark (Clearance) // Light // Dark (Splurge)

Wool

Gray (Sale) // Maroon (Clearance) // Hooded // Melange // Blue (Sale)

Trench

 

Tan (Clearance) // Tan // Red (Sale)

Stripes

Black & Grey (Clearance) // Red

Rain

Blue // White (Splurge)

Quilted

Navy // Teal (Splurge)

Plaid

Red (Clearance) // Black (Splurge/Sale)

Peacoat

Red (Clearance) // Grey // Striped (Sale)

Parka

Maroon (Clearance) // Red (Splurge/Sale) // Blue // Green

Military

Green // Blue (Super sale!)

LeatherSleeves

Fur-trimmed Black // Funnel-neck Black (Splurge)

Leather

 

Black // Pink // White

Random

Leopard // Biker // Blazer // Camo // Floral

 

Please Keep Your Seat in the Upright Position

Dear Lady in Seat 23F,

First of all let me start by saying thanks for not giving me the look of death when you noticed my family sitting behind you. I appreciate the fact that you didn’t make any comments regarding our presence or expressing your hope that they would sleep through our flight. I realize that three and half hours with two kids five and under isn’t super desirable on an early morning flight. I’m their mom and I don’t relish the idea.

Lucky for you my kids are both great travelers. We drown them in treats and juice to keep their mouths occupied. We also bring six different electronic devices along to keep them entertained. We really do try as parents not to leave an impression on our fellow passengers. As part of our mission we do our darnedest to make sure they don’t kick the seat in front of them. Just call us the “Feet Police”.

However, when you, the lady with the neck pillow, decides to recline your seat, it makes my job even harder. Don’t tell me you didn’t notice that I was holding a 21 month year old directly behind you. I know you did. You aren’t sleeping. I can tell because you’re taking photos out the window of the plane. Do those few extra degrees really provide that much comfort? Because let me tell you, it makes a HUGE difference to the lady wrestling a squirmy toddler behind you.

I, for one, would like to propose a collective agreement among humanity to keep your seat upright on any flight that isn’t a red eye. You aren’t going to sleep comfortably. It’s a plane. Your best bet is to sit next to the window and lean over. A reclined seat isn’t going to help.

Be kind to the families sitting around you. Give the kids a chance to be good travelers before you make snap judgements. Chances are the parents were frazzled by the time they dropped off their baggage. We won’t even talk about the nightmare known as security. We paid for our seats just like you and we probably paid even more in terms of our mental health. Believe me, if I could reasonably drive from Raleigh to Salt Lake City, I would. But I can’t so we are in this together.

So do me a solid. Be kind, don’t recline.

XOX,
Tracey

Breaking Bad (Habits) Part 1

Breaking Bad Food HabitsLike 90% of the world, Erika and Tracey have both made health and exercise related New Year Resolutions. While we are both doing pretty well, one of our favorite contributors, Andrea, is putting us to shame. This is serious stuff for anyone and for someone who loves her food as much as we do, this is downright inspiring.  

My name is Andrea and I am a carboholic. It’s ugly, but it’s the truth. For a long while I’ve been in denial about how my addiction to sugar and bread has been affecting me, but now I’ve been forced to deal with it head-on. It is time to start breaking bad food habits. Ok, so maybe it was my idea, but I’m totally facing it. And it’s hard.

As typical New Years Resolutions go, I had the super great idea to sign up for the weight loss challenge at my gym. The initial reason for signing up was that I’m a tad competitive and wanted a chance at winning some prizes. Also, I had no idea what was in store for me and thought it would involve limiting portions or whatever. Wrong. Majorly wrong.

Fast forward to my weigh-in.

Step 1 – Stand on the scale. Easy. Take off my shoes and every extra piece of clothing possible to decrease the number as much as possible.

Step 2 – Get measured. Also pretty easy and semi-painless. Since these are numbers I didn’t have to see, they didn’t bother me as much.

Step 3 – Out come the calipers. I hate these things. No one likes to be grabbed by their fat rolls, let alone have those rolls measured with…. Pinchers.

*At this point, I feel like I’ve got it made. I can totally win this thing.*

Step 4 – Sit down to discuss a meal plan. Turns out that these meal plans are configured for you by a computer based on your measurements and percentages. It becomes obvious very quickly that computers have never eaten a bite of this food in their lives – all the foods listed are bland, flavorless, and contain zero ounces of pleasure.

Step 5 – Haggle relentlessly over substitutions and more exciting options with the trainer (or, rather, the computer).

The main idea is that the first two weeks are the clean-eating cleanse phase (breaking bad food habits) and then we follow that with a diet plan that is more diverse for the next six weeks. I will admit that at this point I still felt pretty cocky about the whole thing. That is, until I realized what was missing. Sugar. Bread. Diet Coke. Items that were essentially the lifeblood of everything good and happy in my life. I was scared and I panicked. I went on a minor food binge for the rest of the day in preparation for what was to come the next morning. I ate all my favorites… sugary cereals, tacos, donuts, gyros, and ice cream (not in that order). Obviously, not the best approach, but I ended the day semi-disgusted with myself and ready to go sugar-free.

Here are some general feelings that I have experience while going through this process…

Day 1. Dude! I feel great! This is going to be a breeze! The food isn’t that bad and I’m not even hungry. I thought the whole concept of losing weight meant starving yourself but I can totally handle this! Seriously rocking the workouts and the food prep.

Day 2. Still going strong. I am going to kick this challenge in the butt! The workout was good and my energy levels are still high. By the end of the day though, I really do start to miss dessert… and Diet Coke.

Day 3. What the crap happened to me? I feel terrible. Seriously, seriously terrible. I have no purpose anymore. There is no meaning in life without chocolate. And I can’t even tell you what I would do for a huge, buttery homemade dinner roll right now. Diet Coke would totally make me feel better… but blast, I cannot have it. Skipping the workout today because of the general lack of will to exist.

Today is Day 4. I guess I feel better. I suppose I’ll drag myself through the motions today. The workouts are supposed to boost my energy so I guess I’ll go. Dang, that was the hardest workout of my life. I feel like I’m exercising in a pool of Jell-O. Now I’m generally exhausted and slightly depressed. Even the 2.5 lbs I have lost so far don’t do much to cheer me up.

Mostly, I have spent a lot of time daydreaming about cheat day (Sunday). I already know exactly how I want to cheat and what I will savor the most. They are big plans: I will add dark chocolate to my boring daily snacks of nuts and berries, I will have a thin crust veggie pizza with no tomato sauce for lunch, and I will enjoy some rolls with my dinner. Most importantly, though, is the addition of Diet Coke back in my life (even though it is only for a day). It may not sound wild and crazy, but I do want to have a chance at winning this thing so I’m mostly taking it easy on the carb-loading. That, and I don’t want to make myself totally sick by overloading my system with stuff that I’ve been depriving it of for 6 days.

I can’t say I feel any better yet. My trainer admitted today that he was pretty worried about how I would fare without sugar. And so far I would have to say that I’m not faring well.

Stay tuned for Part 2…

Food Magician

“Hey Megan” is back with another hysterical post. A post about a certain little food magician. A food magician that happens to be one of my very favorite little boys. If you are easily grossed out, proceed with caution. However, you should definitely proceed, because this kid is a riot.

This post is coming with a picture – a disgusting picture. 

Food Magician

I suggest you read the post and then come back and look at the picture, which will make you go “eww” and ask all sorts of questions like, “How did he do that?” and “How did she not see/smell/notice that?” Trust me, I know. My husband and I asked the same questions. Anyway, here’s the story about that gross picture.

Let me start by saying, I love my kids. I really, really do. I got one good eater out of my lot.  Literally, the youngest one. He is an AWESOME eater. To the point where it is actually alarming to watch him eat. But that’s it. He took all of the good-eating genes. The rest of my kids are TERRIBLE eaters. We almost never eat out because it is so not worth it. They just complain and then don’t eat. I enacted a “thank-you bite” program at my house (courtesy of my sister Brenya). That means that my kids have to take one “thank-you bite” of every side/vegetable and 5 “thank-you bites” of every main dish. There are some nights when my kids literally only eat 6 bites of food for dinner. (Did I mention they have my husband’s stubborn personality?) Now that I have painted that nice, rosy picture for you, let me talk about child number 3 – Jack.

Jack. I ADORE Jack. You cannot beat this kid’s personality. He LOVES being alive. Everything is fantastic to him. He is always happy and laughing. He looks up to everyone. But he hates food.  He hates food that is good for him. If I were to allow him a steady diet of cookies, candy, and ice cream, he would be totally fine. He tolerates cereal. He is required to finish his bagel and cream cheese at school. But dinner…Ugh. It is a battle. Now, Jack did not turn into a picky eater. I swear he was born this way. He was my most difficult child to nurse. He refused a bottle (and the pediatrician requested he take one bottle a day but even she gave up!). He literally turned orange during the baby food months because all he would swallow was carrots! He has always been a picky eater.

So, much to my surprise, one day about two and a half months ago, Jack became the champion eater. I mean champion. He finished faster than everyone, including his little brother (who, did I mention, could quite possibly be a professional eater?).  Not that I don’t trust my kids, but I did not trust him. He had suddenly become a food magician. I knew he was hiding that food somewhere. I mean finishing all of his steak in three minutes?? That was a three-day process in September! I checked toilets, garbage cans, the garage, everywhere! But found nothing. I watched him eat, but came up empty.

So, for Sunday dinner a few weeks ago we were having steak and corn on the cob. Jack gobbled up two ears of corn (the one out of two veggies he’ll eat – but just on the cob). He told me he was done and I looked at has plate and said, “Eat your steak”.  Thirty seconds later, he handed me an empty plate. Seriously?!? So I checked the table and on the floor I saw six pieces of steak. I told Jack to pick them up. The look on his face was sheer terror, which I couldn’t figure out. Then he handed me two pieces of steak. I asked, “Where is the rest of the steak?” (Meaning the other four pieces from the ground). Then Jack’s little brother – you know, the expert eater that watches EVERYTHING Jack does – piped in with, “Jack puts his food under the table, mom!” Click! My husband reached his hand under the table—in the little “pocket” where the table extender goes—and puled out two month’s worth of dinner.

Or at least the part of two-month’s worth of dinners that Jack refused to eat. So disgusting!!! 

Did it smell? Yes. Occasionally I would get a whiff so I would just clean out my fridge, my freezer, and my pantry.

Ants? Yep. But my pest control just kept coming back out. 

What did this food magician survive on? Apparently fruit and candy.

And that bagel at school . . . 

Rules of Running for Non-Runners

Remember how Sarah talked me into doing Couch to 5K last spring?  Remember how I did it and then actually ran a 5k? Yeah, that was pretty big. So big that I thought, “I ran a 5K. I have reached my running pinnacle. Why on earth would I ever run more than this?” It was the pinnacle of running for a non-runner like myself.

Well . . .now, I’m running more than that. In fact, last week I did 8 miles. Next week I’m supposed to do 9.5 miles. In the middle March I’m going to go a full 13.1 miles, in public, with a whole bunch o’ strangers and maybe even get a (participation) medal.

How did this happen? Like it did for Megan, it just kind of happened.

We moved and now there is a beautiful running trail right behind my house. My new home also happens to be in a place where I know virtually no one and I can’t reasonably call anyone I love until 10 am because of the time difference. To top it off, my kids are early risers and the men in my house leave at 7:00 am. Little miss and I had to find something to do. So we ran. Then we ran farther and farther. Then it started getting easier. Then I thought, “Hey, maybe I can actually do this thing.”

Through the course of the last couple of months I have learned a few things. Things that have helped my body that is still working to shed another 50 pounds. I would like to share a couple of very unqualified rules on running for non-runners.

Running for Non-Runners

1.  The first 1.5 miles are rough. Like really rough. I still feel this way every day. Each time I head out, I think, “Maybe I shouldn’t do this. My body hurts, this is unnatural, and I hate it.” Once I excepted the fact that I was going to be uncomfortable for at least a mile, things got better. Now, by the time I hit 2 miles I’m in my groove. I’m breathing better and my body seems to have decided that I’m going to keep going whether it agrees or not. Now I’m to the point where I want to run at least 3-4 miles on a normal day because I know I’ll feel good at the end.

2. Ignore your pace. Not everyone will agree with this statement. If you have speed goals, by all means, keep track of your pace. However, if you are like me and you are just trying to make running happen, look for your own rhythm. As you continue, you’ll get faster. When I ran with the jogging stroller, my phone was mounted right where I could always see my pace. It was too much pressure! I worried that I was too slow. I constantly tried to run a negative split or maintain a certain pace. Once I let go of that (by putting my phone in my pocket), I found that my speed was much more natural and I enjoyed it a lot more.

3. Vary your route. If you always run the same route, the scenery will get boring and your body will get bored. Mix it up.

4. Keep your chin up. Mentally keep your chin up. You can do this. Physically keep it up and your form will be better. Stop looking at your phone, feet, stroller, or whatever. Enjoy what is around you. Be aware of your surrounding. It is safer, more relaxing, and a lot more fun.

5. Bring a buddy. Find a running buddy. This can be a friend, spouse, child, or simply a friend on the phone. I’ve found that my long runs are a lot easier if I have someone to chat with. On my last long run, I spent 3 miles talking to my friend Shannon. Not only did it take my mind off the mileage, it helped me maintain a reasonable pace so I wasn’t gasping for breath while talking. If anyone would like to sign up to be a phone buddy during my half, I’m taking volunteers.

6. Walk when your body needs it. I am a HUGE fan of the Jeff Galloway run/walk method. I find that I can go farther and I enjoy it more when I take walk breaks. My body feels better during and after my run. I’m not competing with anyone but myself so as long as I get the miles in, I’m happy.

7. Go hands free. My form is better when I’m not carrying something or fiddling with my phone. See #2 and #4. Plug that single head phone in and let your smart phone do what it is designed to do. I have Runkeeper set to give me my total time and distance at half mile intervals. I don’t have it tell me my pace (even though we all know I quickly calculate it when I hear easy even miles). It helps me be more aware of my surroundings as well.

8. Make a goal with consequences. For me, that was shelling out $100 bucks for a half marathon. Now I have to do it because I don’t want to tell Ben that I wasted the money. Do whatever works for you.

9. Realistically schedule it. I am not a morning person. I say I’ll get up and run a six but my body and brain aren’t really on board. Run when it works for you. Look at your schedule and find the right time. It might be during lunch or after work. Maybe it’s running around the park while your kid is at soccer practice. Find the time that WORKS and put it on the calendar.

10. Do it for you. That means doing it your own way at your own pace. You don’t have to run the same distance or pace as your spouse. Ben runs faster but I run farther. Accomplish YOUR goals. Do you want to be able to run a whole mile? Great! Are you like Erika and want to see how far you can run during an episode of Grey’s Anatomy? Perfect. Maybe you just want to be outside for 30 minutes a day. Do that. Figure out what you need and grab it. Whatever you do, just know that if you are running at all, then you, my friend, are a runner.

Now, I have a toddler to wrestle into a jogging stroller so she can yell at me for the next 45 minutes.