Hey, I’m still here…

This post is months overdue, but it’s been a challenge to find the right words (even for a writer). Recently, I’ve been struggling with some things – both physically and mentally – and I just felt that if I couldn’t get my shit together, how could I possibly offer fitness or lifestyle advice with any semblance of authenticity?

So far my husband and I have had a summer full of beautiful experiences. We’ve traveled to California and Florida, camped in Upstate New York, rode our jet-ski around the Statue of Liberty, and went to the drive-in on at least three different occasions. We installed a hot tub in our backyard, put the final touches on our basement gym, and planned a few future renovations. I also perfected a cookie recipe, developed a matcha addiction, and have read over ten enlightening books since the beginning of May.

img_20180427_112642_6713370814715177444510.jpg

Anyone else think of Full House when you see this?

Most people would think “wow, she’s living the dream!” am I right? Well, even with all of that good stuff, I’ve still felt empty, drained, unhappy, and stressed. I’ve had bouts of anxiety about being 28 years old without any real career direction or goals. I’ve struggled to do simple things like laundry. I’ve failed at so many fitness and nutrition programs. And don’t get me started on being too tired.

img_20180425_131936_7986043640839039226408.jpg

Poolside in Rancho Mirage, CA

You see, there was no way in hell I could encourage someone to spend 2% of their day working out when I couldn’t even spend 1% washing the freakin dishes. I would have told myself off.

img_20180527_110921_9957654335652293381707.jpg

Roughin’ in on a camping trip in Upstate NY

It’s so easy to look at social media and see all of the good things, the fun. When you’re feeling down, it looks like everyone else is having the time of their lives. Meanwhile, the black cloud is following me on every adventure and delightful moment. That, in itself, is so draining. But social media isn’t really meant to show the other side of things. Who really wants to stare at Debbie Downer all day?

img_20180706_110151_0502329748495773935845.jpg

Fresh-squeezed orange juice in Miami, FL

So here I am telling you that nothing is ever going to be perfect. A picture is worth a thousand words, but how many are actually true? If you’re struggling with something too, know you’re not alone. Just keep swimming, keep on keeping on, keep trying to find something good in every day. It will get better.

img_20180616_171453_5389151713337903204902.jpg

Lady Liberty herself. Look – no people!

If you need some extra encouragement, check out the Finding the Balance series I posted earlier in the year.

Look for me on Mondays again – I’ve got some catching up to do.

Peace, Love, Zen
DS

My C25K Journey – Weeks 7 & 8

Wow! I’ve been MIA for over two months, and I’m sorry.

20171127_1229271858340731.png
Happy Homeowners!!!

We just bought our first house, and while it might not be the best excuse, I’ve been extremely busy packing, unpacking, painting, and the like, and haven’t had one moment to catch you up on my C25K progress. So here we go.

I finished the program at the end of October. It was tough, but I did it and ran a 5K with my husband to celebrate.

20171226_14153886606371.png
Zombie Run

Work was pretty hectic during that time, and it was a challenge to find opportunities during the day to go to the gym. The weather wasn’t favorable for morning or evening runs at home, and when I did have time, I had headaches that made it difficult to even get out of bed. Oh, the challenges.

30 minutes a day, 3 times a week, 8 weeks total

Week 7 & 8 Routines

Start with a 5-minute warmup, run for 25-30 minutes, and savor a 5-minute cooldown.

The last two weeks of the program I ran whenever and wherever I could. Oh, how I missed the treadmill! One day was around 70 degrees and humid, and my body was so itchy as I was running that I couldn’t stand it. The moment I went inside, it stopped. Go figure.

I’ve learned that it’s easier for me to run inside for longer lengths of time because of the air and unpredictable NY weather. The 25 minutes passed quickly as I ran in place. When I did laps around my apartment complex, I felt like I’d been running as long as Forrest Gump. No humidity = happy lungs.img_15093174728472105941280.jpgI realize that not every run is going to be perfect (even though I strive for it) and I won’t always get a mid-day workout in (my favorite time), but a run is a run, no matter how it gets done. The fact that I actually enjoy running now is probably my biggest and most satisfying accomplishment.

To see what happened at week 6, click here!

Will you take the challenge?

My C25K Journey – Week 6

Week 6 encroached a bit on week 7, but for a good reason: I got married!!! I took a few days off to plan, celebrate, and enjoy the time with my new HUSBAND! I seriously couldn’t be happier.

20171015_1455321884527600.jpg

My love!

And, oh yeah, I only have two weeks left in the program.

30 minutes a day, 3 times a week, 8 weeks total

Week 5 Routine

Start with a 5-minute warmup. Varied 5-22 minute jogs. Finally, savor a 5-minute cooldown.

Over the last 1.5 weeks, I ran Wednesday (10/11), Tuesday (10/17), and Wednesday (10/18) at Crunch on my lunch break. I have to say – it is hot as hell in that gym (especially when wearing leggings- first and LAST time)! I like it cold because my body tends to heat up quickly, especially when running. I can’t be the only one.

20171017_192030725366151.png

Pre-workout – before the sweaty mess.

I was a little scared to run for 22 minutes straight after taking such a long break in between runs, but it worked out fine. It definitely helps to distract myself with something on Netflix or an audiobook.

It comes down to this: my body can do it, but my mind still isn’t on the same page. Each minute I run I have to tell myself I can do it, that I’ve done it before and can do it again, that I got this. And I do.

To see what happened at week 5, click here!

My C25K Journey – Week 5

I’m in the home stretch – just three weeks left!

30 minutes a day, 3 times a week, 8 weeks total

Week 5 Routine

Start with a 5-minute warmup. Varied 5-20 minute jogs. Finally, savor a 5-minute cooldown.

Last week I ran Wednesday at home after work, and Thursday and Friday at the gym on my lunch break. The first time on the treadmill was a little awkward because I was so used to running outside, and had no idea that I needed to use the treadmill workout on my Fitbit (see pic below). Fortunately, the second time was a much better experience and I actually enjoy running both inside and out.

20171012_065125112062913.png

Clearly there’s a treadmill option for a reason 😉

Since week 2, I’ve been nervous about running for 20 minutes straight. The thought was so daunting – just I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it. Well, I proved myself wrong, because not only did I rock it, but I could have KEPT going. It probably also helped that I was re-watching Stranger Things as I ran.

My lungs are powerful, and my mind is in the right place to continue running at least three times a week after this program ends. I’ve already signed up for a Zombie 5K in celebration – October 28th.

I think I can call myself a runner now.

To see what happened at the halfway mark, click here!

My C25K Journey – Week 4

I made it to the halfway point! Never in a million years did I think I would be running three times a week and actually enjoying it.

30 minutes a day, 3 times a week, 8 weeks total

Week 4 Routine

Start with a 5-minute warmup. Jog for 3 minutes, walk for 90 seconds, jog for 5 minutes, walk for 2.5 minutes, jog for 3 minutes, walk for 90 seconds, jog for 5 minutes. Finally, savor a 5-minute cooldown.

Last week I ran Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. It was nice to spread it out a bit because my legs were starting to feel like Jell-O. The weather was finally favorable two out of the three days. What a difference a few degrees makes!

I love these shoes!!

I bought a new pair of sneakers that caught my eye for the bright colors and the price tag – $39. Compared to my everyday workout kicks, these new ones are lighter and allow my feet to breath, which is perfect for outdoor running.

I also decided to renew my gym membership at Crunch so I can finally go through with the lunchtime workouts I planned – regardless of the weather.

20171005_210327333900339.jpg

New key tag 🙂 Haven’t been to a gym in years.

Last week was the first time (ever, I think) that I ran for 5 minutes without stopping to catch my breath or complain that I couldn’t do it. You know what? It really is all mental. I just put Demi Lovato’s “Sorry, Not Sorry” on repeat and sucked it up.

The way I see it, I could blame my asthma, my chronic migraines, and my Lyme disease for not being able to workout OR I could quit making excuses, get it done, and reap the rewards of a slimmer, healthier me. I’ll take the latter.

To check out Week 3, click here.

Fall Fun

Autumn is my favorite season. I love the crisp hoodie weather, the crunch of the leaves, spooky Halloween stories, carved pumpkins, all things apple (crisp, cider, pie), spicy scents, and the thrill of it. Most of all, I love that you can move around and be outside without sweating bullets. It’s one of the best times to get out and get moving. And what better way to do that, then to check out some of the area’s best haunted attractions!

My fiancé and I started a tradition of going around to different haunted houses hayrides each weekend in October. This is our fifth year (and we actually expanded the fun into September)! Not only is it a crazy good time, but between the scares, belly laughs, and trekking through cornfields and woods, it’s also a pretty awesome way to burn a few calories and sneak in 2,000+ steps. Afterwards, you can enjoy a few fall snacks to put those calories (and then some) back on. Uhhh…triple win?!

I’m really not sure what’s going on in the state of Pennsylvania, but they have some kickass haunts. They are perfectly creepy, gory, and even downright funny. But beware, because if you are traveling from New York or another state that has strict rules about practically everything, you will be in for a shock. Some of the haunts in PA don’t have any metal detectors or security checks, and actors are allowed to touch you. (Touch you in the sense that they can poke, prod, run fingers through hair, and in some cases, put you in a cage or jump up on a wagon and drag you off.) Call me crazy, but I think these things add to the suspense, fear, and entertainment.

Tips

  • Plan Ahead – We (well, I) like to map out our haunts in early September so we have a clear action plan. Some of the places we travel to are over 3 hours away (this is serious stuff!). If you don’t want to drive 6 hours or more round trip, you could see about hotels or other things you could do in the area and make a weekend getaway out of it.
  • Visit Early – Most attractions are open the last two weekends of September, which is actually the perfect time to go. (Keep this in mind for next year.) Lines are short and you can get by with paying for the base ticket instead of upgrading (see below).
  • Dress in Layers – Fall weather is unpredictable. Remember the time it snowed on Halloween? It’s always a good idea to wear pants if you will be in a wooded area (think deer ticks). I usually opt for jeans, boots, a long sleeve shirt, and a fleece jacket. One time last year we needed hand and foot warmers because the wagon ride was so cold. Two weeks ago I went in a t-shirt and was still hot. Just check the weather before you go.
  • Wear Proper Footwear – This shouldn’t have to be said, but still – don’t wear flip-flops, sandals, or heels because…duh. Wear something that will support your feet while walking on uneven ground. Boots or sneakers are always a good choice.
  • Splurge for the VIP Pass – When it comes to haunted attractions (and amusement parks), I really believe in going all-out. You might spend $25 or more per person for a VIP ticket, but that will allow you to skip the lines and go first. Why is this a big deal? Believe it or not, you could be waiting in line for hours before you even get to go through one attraction. That just sucks the fun right out of everything. Do yourself a favor – get this pass and you can do the royalty wave to everyone else as you board your wagon first.

NY/PA Attractions

#6 – The Barn of Terror

20171001_101758134949643.png

Photo property of The Barn of Terror

My Rating: 1.5 Stars

Location: Lake Katrine, NY

Cost – CASH ONLY (ATM on site): $33 per person

Theme: Creepy Farm Family

Duration: About 60 minutes

Review: I kept waiting for something to happen and it just didn’t. First you walk through an 8-room barn and silo, then you take a bus down to a corn maze. The barn was dark and the costumes were pretty cheap and mostly looked the same – bloody hockey mask and black robe. The corn maze was so boring I couldn’t wait for it to be over. Truly disappointing that the space is there, but the creativity was severely lacking. After 15 years in business, you would think there would be more excitement.

Bottom Line: Regardless of the stellar reviews on Facebook, this “haunt” is not worth your time or money. The only reason it gets 1.5 stars is that I got quite a few steps in thanks to the corn maze.

#5 – Headless Horseman

My Rating: 2.5 Stars

Location: Ulster Park, NY

Cost:

  • It’s cheaper to buy tickets online, but plan ahead because tickets are non-refundable due to weather. You can, however, use them for another night.
  • $45.90 + tax – Online Ticket
  • $49.95 + tax – On-site Ticket
  • $25 extra for Scream Pass (aka VIP badge of honor)

Theme: A Series of Haunts

Duration: 2.5-3 hours (depending on wait times)

Review: There are 10 attractions (including a hayride, corn maze, and several haunted houses) and a little “village” of gift shops and cafes, which makes for a full evening. All guests must go through a bag check / metal detector after purchasing tickets. Keep this in mind because that line gets long fast and all ticket holders are considered equal until you pass through the gates. The hayride theme changes slightly every year, but the other attractions are pretty much “fixed.” Once you’ve seen it, you’ve seen it. This year I went on opening night back in September and was really disappointed that the company didn’t take advantage of their 25th year in business to do something special for the guests. It was like any other year with the ridiculously long lines and predictable haunts.

Bottom Line: If you live in or near the Hudson Valley, try it at least once, but I wouldn’t go out of my way.

#4 – Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Location: Glen Mills, PA

Cost:

  • $40 –  (Base) Combo – General admission to all three events
  • $75 – VIP Combo – Front of the line privileges to all three events
  • $100 – Super VIP Combo – Front of the line privileges to all three events, PLUS: VIP parking, hot dog, popcorn, soft drink, and t-shirt

Theme: The Walking Dead Meets Prehistoric Times

Duration: 90 minutes (minimum)

Review: There were zombies, there were dinosaurs. There were also spiders, snakes, and clowns. A scare for everyone. It was just okay. We went on a weekend in September – there weren’t any lines so we were able to get by on just the base ticket. There were only three attractions – hayride, corn maze, and haunted house. The theme was a bit odd, but the special effects were pretty cool. I love Psycho and A&E’s Bates Motel series, but there was little connection to both. I think the majority of my disappointment stems from just wanting more.

Bottom Line: If you’re in the area, I would recommend checking it out for a fun evening. But if you have to drive over an hour, I would say skip it.

#3 – Pure Terror Scream Park

20171001_101540100887532.png

My Rating: 4 Stars

Location: Monroe, NY

Cost:

  • Prices are cheaper on-site. Cash only.
  • $45.25 – Online General Admission
  • $68.69 – Online VIP Admission

Theme: Clowns

Duration: 90 minutes (minimum)

Review: There were clowns, lots of clowns. There were also spiders and very dark places. A scare for everyone, really. After I got over the frustration of finding the place, parking, and waiting in line, it was fun. We went on opening night so it was cheaper and there were fewer people. There are six haunted houses that are seriously awesome. One group is admitted at a time, which causes a really long wait in line, but a better experience once you’re actually inside. The makeup and special effects were so good that it was hard to tell real person from prop. I love that they incorporated the new release of IT into one of the houses – very nice touch! This was my first visit, but according to the website, the content is freshened up each year. Will most likely make this an annual trip.

Bottom Line: Definitely check it out!

 

#2 Pennhurst Haunted Asylum

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Location: Spring City, PA

Cost:

  • $18 – Individual Attraction Tickets
  • $35-44 – Combo Pass
    • General admission to 3 haunted attractions
  • $39-48 – Super Combo Pass
    • General admission to 4 haunted attractions
  • $78 – Pennhurst VIP Pass
    • Front of the line privileges to all 4 haunted attractions
  • Note: online tickets have varying service charges

Theme: Insane Asylum

Duration: Approx. 2 hours

Review: This place is really cool because it is actually an asylum turned haunted house. The original buildings have been repurposed to create a haunted insane asylum, catacombs, and more. There isn’t a hayride, but you won’t be disappointed by the 3 main attractions:  Dungeon of Lost Souls, Containment Tunnels (new for 2017), and Mayflower After Dark. There are creepy clowns and walking dead, but the real terror here is the idea of the insane asylum and the horrible things that were probably done there. That and the fact that you spend a lot of time walking in near darkness and through strobe lights. While you are waiting on the lines you may or may not be terrorized by the cast members. Luckily, the VIP pass will help you avoid this. Again, do the royalty wave as you enter. I can’t wait to visit again this year!

Note: This is the ONLY haunted attraction that actually reduced some of their prices for the 2017 season. Very impressive.

Bottom Line: You’ve gotta go. I’m sure this one will be on your list for years to come.

 #1 Reaper’s Revenge Haunted Attraction

My Rating: 5 Stars

Location: Scranton, PA

Cost – CASH ONLY (ATM on site)

  • $45– General Admission
  • $70 – VIP Package
  • $3 – Parking
  • Note: online tickets have a $2.75 service charge

Theme: All Things Creepy

Duration: 75-90 minutes (minimum)

Review: There are 4 attractions including a hayride, dark forest walkthrough, pitch-black indoor walkthrough, and zombie maze. There are hillbillies, spiders, zombies, government officials (super scary), and the Grim Reaper and Michael Myers make appearances out in the woods. There’s also something really cool that happens during the hayride, but you’ll have to just take my word for it because saying too much would just ruin it. The combination of so many different attractions and a super long and enjoyable hayride makes this my number one choice. The first time we did this, we were laughing, we were screaming, we were having so much fun. We wanted to do it again. This year we are making a special trip on Friday the 13th 😉

Note: The price increased $10 from last year. I’m not crazy about it, but I still think this one comes out on top.

Bottom Line: Make the trip. I don’t care if you’re in California, Florida, or Toronto. It’s worth it.

I hope you go and have a great time this fall. I’d love to know if I’m missing out on any good ones 🙂

Happy October!

My C25K Journey – Week 2

wp-image-1807175019This week I succumbed to a little indulging on Pinterest. Running socks? I need them. Wireless headphones? I need them too. Hydration Sleeve? Oh, I definitely need that! Fortunately, for my wallet, those “needs” passed very quickly.

I have to admit that I’m proud of myself for sticking with this for two full weeks. Jogging for 30 minutes is an easy way to add a good 4,000+ steps to your day.

The biggest fear I’ve had to conquer so far is running in front of other people. Do my legs look weird? Do I run like a chicken? Or a frog? What if I’m too slow? Then I realized that at least I’m working on it. At least I’m trying. At least I’m lapping all of those still sitting on the couch.

30 minutes a day, 3 times a week, 8 weeks total

Week 2 Routine

Start with a 5-minute warmup, then alternate 90 seconds of jogging with 2 minutes of walking for six rounds, and finally savor a 5-minute cooldown.

Last week I ran Tuesday, Saturday, and Sunday. Like the week prior, the weather wasn’t really in my favor, but I pushed on. I noticed that my exercise-induced asthma, which has been lying dormant for about a year now, started to flare. The humidity was so thick that the air felt heavy and wet – like a steamy shower. Hoping for some cooler days as we transition over to fall.

Sunday I switched it up and drove to a local rail trail to do my run. While this was a nice flat and shaded path, I lost quite a bit of time driving to the destination. I think I’ll stick to running around my apartment complex for now.

I peeked at the workouts to come and have to admit that I’m a little nervous about Week 5. Fortunately, I still have some time to practice my running skills (or lack thereof) before then!

Two weeks down, six to go. Click here to see how I started and finished Week 1.