Walmart Grocery Pickup

Walmart Grocery Pickup

You guys. Walmart Grocery Pickup is quite possibly the greatest thing that every happened to parents.  For those of you who haven’t heard, various Walmarts are now offering FREE grocery pickup.

How does it work? I’m so glad you asked.  All you have to do is go to their website or app, choose you pickup time and order all of the groceries you need.  Then, at your designated time, you simply go to the Walmart that you ordered from, pull into their pickup spots and call to let them know you are there.  Then the super nice Walmart employees bring you groceries out and load them into your car.  No extra fee, no tipping (per Walmart) and you get to be a grocery store hero.  If the ease of the situation isn’t enough to convince you here’s a list of the reasons I use Walmart Grocery Pickup.

Fifteen Reason I Love Walmart Grocery Pickup

  1. I don’t have to get out of my car
  2. My children don’t have to get out of the car.
  3. I save tons of money because I’m less likely to impulsively buy a box a nutty bars.
  4. My daughter and I don’t have as many opportunities to throw down over Shopkins purchases or lack thereof.
  5. I can order from my phone.
  6. Did I mention I can order from my phone?
  7. Its free if you spend over $30.  When don’t I spend $30 at Walmart???
  8. You get to pick when you are going to pickup your groceries.
  9. I check in from the app when I leave my house and then when I get there, they load my groceries into the back of my car.
  10. I can decide if I only want a certain brand or if I’m willing to substitute.  For example, we only eat Jiff at our house.  This is nonnegotiable for my eight year old.
  11. When I use the app, I can add things to my cart throughout the day as I remember what we need.
  12. The Walmart Grocery Pickup app saves my favorites. Every week I need to buy yogurt, milk, applesauce and Crystal Light Strawberry Lemonade.  I appreciate that my app has these items front and center.
  13. It is SUPER easy to use.
  14. Sometimes they call me when my order is ready early.
  15.  You can stay in the car.

So, check your local Walmart to see if they offer grocery pickup.  Game changer people.  Total game changer.

In Search of The Side Hustle

Oh, the side hustle. The term itself is enough to bring a smile to my face.  I love anything that involves money and a new skill or product. I love the challenge. or learning something new and the satisfaction that the comes with making money.  Over the years I have taken on more hobbies than my husband or wallet would like to admit. One of those ideas involved starting this blog with two of my favorite women. After about nine months of success blogging about food, television, fashion and crafts, life got in the way.  Ladies made babies, people moved and the endeavor kind of fell apart. Our posts all disappeared into the internet and here we are, starting over.  However, the spirit of the idea lived on.

And THAT is the great thing about the side hustle is it can be whatever you want it to be and it is always evolving.  All if requires is an idea and some action.

I found is that there are a lot of things that I like to do and quite a few things that I do well. There are things that I tried that were complete failures. The most important thing I’ve found is that in order to have a successful side hustle you have to be willing to give things a shot. What is the worst thing that can happen is the idea doesn’t take off? Who cares? The important thing is that you learned something about a trade, a skill or maybe you just learned something about yourself.

Side Hustle School

Recently my friend (and soon to be reactivated co-blogger) Sarah introduced me to a great podcast.  It’s by author Chris Guillebeau and its suitably called Side Hustle School.  Each episode is a bite sized podcast that shares inspiring stories of how normal people made their side hustles work for them.  More importantly, each episode focuses on a skill that each individual used to become successful. I may or may not consume a couple episodes a day.

What this all boils down to is we want you to find your passion. Fist of all, look for a side hustle that makes you happy and f it makes you some money, even better.  Second, do the research.  Is someone else doing something similar?  Can it evolve into something else? Is there a market for the idea?  Third, figure out  what you need to make it happen.  Finally, just give it a shot! It can’t hurt anything and you might be surprised by the results.

 

RockMyRun – Our Favorite Running App

One of our favorite things to do on the blog is share products that we love. Let me introduce you to RockMyRun.

This is hands down one of my favorite running apps.  I have a lot of music on my iPhone but sometimes I just want to mix it up.  This is where RockMyRun comes in.  They have millions (maybe not that many) of playlists featuring every genre imaginable.  You can filter by genre, time, BPM and length of workout.  I am totally motivated my music so having upbeat fun songs to listen to helps me push myself a little harder.  Plus it gives me access to songs that I wouldn’t normally purchase.

Here are some of my favorite mixes.

Girls Night Out

Runchat Fan Mix

Fight to Fit

Best of 2013

Mixes are available for streaming if you have WiFi or unlimited data.  Or you can download them to your phone and have access to them whenever you want.  They have two different levels of membership.  Here is the explanation according to their website. 

RockMyRun offers two tiers of memberships: Standard (free) and Premium. Standard memberships have access to standard mixes, get 1 download of any standard mix per month and unlimited listening to standard mixes in the RockMyRun app.

 

Premium memberships come in 3 lengths: monthly, quarterly and annually. With a premium membership you get access to ALL the mixes available at RockMyRun. You receive a number of downloads based on the length of the membership: 3 downloads per month for monthly, 9 downloads per quarter for quarterly and 36 downloads per year for annual. These downloads do not roll over to the next month – they are use or lose.

If you happen to be looking for some new jams for your workout, you may want to check out this app.  If you see me dancing as I’m running down the street, you’ll know what I’m listening to.

RockMyRun didn’t pay us to say nice things about them.  We just dig the app and thought you might too.  

 

I’m That Mom

As moms, we all have some days that go better than others.  We are more aware and critical of our own shortcomings than anyone.  A couple weeks ago Hey Megan texted me and said, “Oh, I have a post for you today. I completely embarrassed myself.” Then she proceeded to leave me wondering for 2 whole hours!!!  So, if you need a little post to reassure you that you are not the only one that is THAT mom, take a second to share with Megan (one of the best moms we know) what happens when things don’t go quite as planned. 

 

 

I am THAT mom.  No not that mom.  Not the one with perfect hair and makeup at 7:00 in the morning.  Not the one that makes darling lunches using Bento boxes and and food art.  Not the one that has the BEST ideas for crafts and activities for school parties.

 

I’m the other THAT mom.  The one sitting next to that perfect mom.  The one who probably didn’t take a shower yet today (see Tracey’s post on that).  The one who walks her kids to school in her pj’s.  The one who let’s her kids do their school projects all by themselves using stuff from the recycling bin (and you can tell!!).  Yep, that’s me.  You know that movie Hope Floats with Sandra Bullock and Harry Conick Jr?  And Sandra Bullock brings her daughter her lunch at school dressed in an ugly robe and total bedhead?  Yeah that’s me–like every day.

But today was especially priceless.  So, in my defense, it has been an especially crazy week–per my own making, my husband would remind me.  I had 2 middle of the night visitors last night so I was even MORE tired than usual (and I am usually pretty darn tired).  I decided to let my kindergartner sleep in (since he was one of those middle of the night visitors and I just couldn’t tell if he was getting sick or sleep walking).  So, thinking I am totally ahead of the game, I drive my older two kids to school.  Just as they jumped out my daughter asked if I could walk them in.  I thought “Sure, I’m totally ahead of schedule now and it will be just a minute.”  

Ugh, fatal mistake–ever thinking I am ahead of the game.  As I walk out of the school my friend texts me and says “are you at the meeting already?”  WHAT??  I have a meeting??  Oh man.  This is a meeting for the parents of the gifted and talented children in the school.  Seriously.  My kiddo is obviously naturally gifted and talented because anyone can see I’m not helping that situation!  I trudge into the classroom with about 60 other parents–all dressed perfectly because, you know, they are the gifted and talented parents.  

Let me paint you this picture.  I AM IN MY PAJAMAS!!  I pulled on a fleece jacket (courtesy of BazzarVoice–seriously) but everything else is pajamas.  I have not brushed my teeth–I’m not sure I have even opened my mouth yet.  My hair is…well it’s my hair.  Not sure there is a huge difference between when I do it and when I don’t.

 

I sit in the back hoping no one will sit next to me.  Tender mercies–my awesome neighbor Jen comes in and plops down next to me–looking gorgeous.  But she sees me like this all of the time, so I am good.  She gives me an up and down look and gratefully keeps her comments to herself (although somewhere that day I remember her commenting that it wasn’t so bad since it’s only a small step down from the running clothes I normally wear all day).  Well, thank goodness she is sitting there, I not so tactful cover my mouth and beg her for gum or a breath mint.  Thank goodness she has 2 cherry flavored cough drops!  I threw one in my mouth and she did the same (probably because my breath was so bad that she had sympathy bad breath or something!).

 

Just when I think things couldn’t get worse, it happens.  Guess who sits next to me?  That mom.  You know the first “that” mom I was talking about (yes, you Michelle).  Perfectly put together, has 3 kids, is the PTA president, etc etc etc.  And she is sitting next to me.  Well, at this point I have given up on finding my child’s special binder (yes the other parents found their child’s binder but Alex is related to me so…the binder is lost).  The presentation begins.

 

And it’s hot.

 

And it gets hotter and hotter as more and more parents pile in.

 

 And I am in a fleece jacket!  That I can’t take off!  Because I am in my pajamas!!  (and who sleeps in a bra?  not me–not that that would matter except that I have nursed four kids!)  So now I am SWEATING and very smelly because I have not taken a shower.  And no kidding, after several attempts for me to contact my husband BEFORE the meeting starting to let him know he had to bring the remaining 2 children to me, he finally calls back.  So, now I have to get up, during the middle of the meeting, and weave my way through the parents to the hall to tell my husband to look at his texts!!  Jeesh.

 

Finally the misery is over.  I walk out of the meeting and in comes the other two kids.  Jack is stimping his pigeon-toed run and yelling “Mom, Mom I made it!”

 

Yes if people hadn’t seen me yet, they now all turned to look at me.  I just smiled and said “awesome”.

 

I’m pretty sure I will never be motivated to wake up early enough to avoid all of this.  I am a procrastinator–see previous post.  But my kids are awesome.  They never seem to be embarrassed by me..yet.  Maybe it’s because they don’t know any better or maybe because they are just awesome.  So, thank you Sophia for holding my hand the whole way to your class.  And thank you Jack for yelling at the top of your lungs, letting everyone know that this mess in front of them is your mom.

 

Valentine Printables and The Importance of Proofreading.

Once upon a time, I decided to paint a wood sign for my Valentine mantle.  I was so excited about the prospect that I even made some Valentine printables to share.  For the quote I chose a line from a song that Ben and I listened to a lot while dating.  Here’s a little video of the song.

Anywho . . . after lots of time formatting and getting the sign just right I got to work painting it. Then I sent this shot over to one of my besties.

Valentine Printables Mantel

She promptly pointed out a spelling error. After I had painted the sign.

This is what I get for not sending it to Erika for proofing.

You’ll be happy to know that after a little bit of sanding and painting the sign is correct and darling. And lucky for ya’ll. I was able to fix the spelling error on the printable.  So here’s a little valentine gift from us to you.   Print and enjoy some valentine printables on us.

Also!  Be sure to take out childcare survey!  We want your opinion on babysitters, your expectations and what you are willing to pay!  We will be sharing our results next week. Thanks! http://bit.ly/1n1oK3v

Valentine Printables Block Valentine Printables Script

 

Breaking Bad (Habits) Part 2

So dieting….. am I right?? Just to give you an idea of how it is going, I may or may not be sipping on a Dunkin Donuts Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate and munching on a chocolate donut. In my defense, they were hand delivered to me at my office on a rough day by a sweet friend who knows how much I adore sweets (and also how much I hate diets). How could I possibly turn that down?  Am I supposed to let the poor defenseless donut die a sad death in the trash can?

I’m sure you can tell my mindset and dedication is wavering, but let me fill you in on how I got here, and really exactly where I am.

Week one was pretty darn hard, as you could tell from my first post. Day 6 was my cheat day and I took it pretty easy. I ate off my meal plan and just added in a few cheat items, like a roll or two, and a cookie or two, and a Diet Coke or two. You know, the important things!

But after going 6 straight days without sugar or dairy or carbs at all, my body didn’t handle itself very well after cheat day. I felt ill. But my cravings became harder to curb. And my will to live became less and less. So I cheated more. If we’re being totally honest, I can’t quite call it cheating if I’m still consuming way less calories than I normally should be, you know? 

On Day 14, I was down 3.5 pounds. I felt good. I was halfway to my goal weight. And the best news of all was that we got new meal plans. With more calories. And with normal food. No more chicken and spinach!! Everyone at the gym was super excited. And I have to say that I’m pretty happy with the new plan. It’s the Mexican Food meal plan and it includes things like cheese (gasp) and tortilla chips (double gasp). 

The only problem is that I misjudged just how stressed I would be at this time of year. Am I the only one who hates January??? I’ll post more on that later, but I have been turning to food to make me feel better way too often. And wouldn’t you know it, the stars aligned and I found a bakery that makes some amazing Triple Berry Tres Leches Cupcakes. Don’t ask me how I got there. I’m not sure I can recall. Bakeries must have magnets or something that force my car in the parking lot and my person through the front doors. And did I mention the Girl Scout cookies on every corner?? I mean….

So today is day 21 (of 56). I haven’t lost any additional weight this week. But I’m counting that as a win. Maintaining is just as important as losing, right? And I totally have the maintenance thing down… as long as I can keep my donut trips in check. But it was really good and totally worth it. Just sayin’…  

Obviously I still have some work to do if I ever plan to give anyone qualified advice on dieting.

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.