Vega Bar Review

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As part of my relationship with Fit Approach, I was given the opportunity to review the new line of bar’s from Vega.  While the bars were sent to me to try, as always, the review and opinions are my own.  

When I found out that I was going to be given the opportunity to review Vega’s new line of bars, I was really excited.  Not only are the ingredients clean; there’s nothing artificial, they’re gluten free, non-GMO AND they are also plant based. The fact that they are made with plant based protein really drew my attention.  I am not a huge fan of whey protein, as it upsets my stomach and have long been using different kinds of plant protein powder, but have never had the opportunity to try out a plant based protein bar!

I was sent two different kinds of each of the four new bars and I couldn’t wait to try them when they arrived in the mail.  In fact, I was extra hungry when they were delivered so I devoured one right away!

Vega Snack Bar

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The first bar I tried was the Dark Chocolate Mixed Nuts and Sea Salt Vega Snack Bar and it was really good! These snack bars are perfect for when you’re on the go, have a snack attack at work or just want to grab something yummy and satisfying as an afternoon snack while you’re at home.  Each bar has superfood ingredients and also comes in four other flavors including: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup, Dark Chocolate Cashew Cherry, Coconut Cashew and Cranberry Almond.  The Cranberry Almond flavor was also sent for me to try, which I thought was pretty yummy but I’m a sucker for anything that combines nuts & chocolate 😉

Vega One Bar

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The next bar that I tried was the Chocolate Peanut Butter Vega One Bar following an early morning run.  I had gotten up before the crack of dawn and attempted to run a few miles but only made it about 1.25 miles before I turned around because it was FREEZING out! When I got home the last thing I wanted to do was make myself breakfast because I could barely feel my fingers (I wasn’t smart enough to wear gloves). Thankfully, I had these bars on hand and it was honestly better than I expected.  They are designed as an all-in-one meal bar that include 12 grams of plant protein, an entire serving of greens, fiber, omega-3, dairy-free probiotics and a host of vitamins and minerals. The best part is that it actually tastes amazing.  I’ll let you in on a little secret; I strongly dislike the combination of chocolate and peanut butter (yes, I know I’m weird), but I loved this Chocolate and Peanut Butter Vega One Bar so much that I ate it in a matter of a minute and wanted more.  It wasn’t dense or too heavy but left me feeling full and satiated for several hours.  I honestly was pleasantly surprised! These also come in two other flavors; Chocolate Cherry Almond (which I was sent to try and enjoyed as well) and Chocolate Coconut Cashew which I’m dying to try because that just sounds AMAZING!

Vega Sport Protein Bar

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When I originally knew I was going to receive these bars, the Vega Sport Protein Bar was the one that I was most excited to try.  Although I have gotten into running, most of the time that I work out I am doing functional-type training with kettlebells, my sandbag, equalizers and battling ropes.  I often drink protein shakes afterward but lately I have been wanting something like a protein bar that I can just grab and go and don’t have to spend the time making a shake or smoothie.  Unfortunately, I hadn’t been able to find anything that was a plant based protein bar and met all my other requirements (nothing artificial, non-GMO, gluten free, etc.). I really am very picky with what I choose to put in my body so when I heard about the chance to try these sport protein bars and they met ALL my requirements, I jumped on it! Out of the three flavors that Vega makes, I was sent to try the Chocolate Coconut and the Chocolate Mint.  Out of those two, the Chocolate Coconut was my favorite and definitely met the high expectations I had.  The other flavor this bar comes in is Chocolate Peanut Butter and while I would have never picked that to try before, after eating the Chocolate Peanut Butter Vega One Bar and LOVING it, I want to try it ASAP! 🙂

Vega Sport Energy Bar

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The last bar out of the bunch that I tried was the Vega Sport Energy Bar.  These are designed as a mid-workout energy bar and contain a balance of carbs, omega-3’s and Saviseed oil to provide the fuel your body needs to sustain a long endurance workout.  They are also really moist so that it is easier to eat while you are in the middle of a long workout such as cycling or hiking, or in between workouts- think triathlete training.  Now, I am no triathlete (nor will I ever be, I suck at swimming), BUT these bars will come in really handy as I train for my first half marathon.  On the days where I am scheduled to run a shorter distance, I plan to follow it up with a bodyweight workout session and these energy bars will be perfect for that.  They come in two flavors; Chocolate Coconut Almond and Apple Cherry.  The Apple Cherry was pretty good but the Chocolate Coconut Almond was DELICIOUS, and I’m not exaggerating with my capital letters, it was that good!

So to summarize my overall consensus about the new Vega bars, I will tell you that they were all pretty good.  If I had to pick my favorite based on flavor alone, it would probably be the Chocolate Peanut Butter Vega One Bar OR the Chocolate Coconut Almond Vega Sport Energy Bar …it’s kinda a toss up! That’s just a matter of personal taste preference though and obviously everyone would have a different opinion.  What I love most about this new line of bars is that they are made of clean ingredients with nothing artificial, they’re gluten free and are plant based which makes my belly happy 🙂

Running Update & Two Fun 5k Races

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I have been patiently waiting for the weather to get warmer here so that I could start my half marathon training and stay on schedule.  I thought that since it was nearing the end of April I would been at least a week or two into it by now but Mother Nature clearly has other plans.  It actually snowed here last week, is she being serious?!? Anyway, I got sick of waiting and decided I was going to go for a run this morning even though it was just above the 30 degree mark.  I made it a whole 1.25 miles and my fingers were so cold that I decided to turn around (I was also very underdressed).  I was able to see this pretty sunrise though so it was sorta worth it!

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Oh well, hoping the weather starts to warm up in the next week so I can stay on track with a running schedule.  I swear if it snows again here I am up and moving to Arizona 😉 (Keep a room open at the Inn, Redd!)

Even though I haven’t been able to run consistently, I have still signed up for a few races before my half marathon to keep me motivated.  Unfortunately these aren’t until August and September but they’re both fun and different so I have to tell you about them.

Vino and the Beasts 5k- August 16, 2014

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This is a 5k obstacle race that takes place through a vineyard and you have to maneuver your way in, around and through obstacles.  I did this race last year with my sister and we had a BLAST! You actually get to drink wine while you run (they serve it at the water stations).  I can’t even begin to tell you how much fun this race is.  I really enjoyed having the obstacles there to break up the run, my favorite being the cargo net you have to climb over.  I literally felt like a spider monkey/little kid and thought it was the most fun thing ever! Best part about this race is that when you finish, you have an all access pass to tour the three wineries that are on the grounds where the course is located! There is even a brewery there and last year I brought home a growler of riesling ale…yummy! I have been looking forward to running this race again since the minute it ended last year.  I don’t want to wish the summer away but please hurry up and get here August 16th!

The other race I signed up for is in September and I am equally as excited for that as well.

2014 Rivertown Strollerderby 5k Run/Walk

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This race was brought to my attention by Lindsay from She Mom Fitness and I’m so glad she did! Hastings-on-the-Hudson is about a 4 1/2 hour drive from me but I saw the word “strollerderby” and I was sold.  Plus whats even better, a portion of the proceeds go to the non-profit organization, Family-to-Family in order to launch a new fitness program in Westchester called “She-Sole”. “She-Sole” will provide jogging strollers, baby carriers, running sneakers and fitness/running focused programming to disadvantaged mothers. How awesome is that? Seriously though, I think that is amazing and it really speaks to my heart considering I used to work at a non-profit advocating for women.

If you’re in the NYC area or are within traveling distance, I absolutely think this race would be worth attending.  Not only do the proceeds benefit something awesome but there is also a $1000 prize for 1st place! If you’re interested and want to sign up you can go to www.shemomfitness.com.  Also, keep your eyes open for a follow-up post…I might just have some giveaways related to the race 🙂

What races have you signed up for this year that you can’t wait for? Is the weather any warmer where you are or is it wreaking havoc on your running schedule too?

CNY Springtime 10k Recap

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So I did it, I ran a 10k race! I never actually believed that would happen but it did and even though it was one of the toughest courses I have ever ran on (which isn’t saying much because I haven’t run a lot of races), I still did it! I am told that because of the amount of hills and the steepness of them that this is one of the hardest courses to run in our area.  In fact, it is the same course that is used for the Syracuse Ironman 70.3.

So what did I do to prepare for such a race? Let me tell you.

I actually spent the night at my friend’s house who was the one that encouraged me to sign up for this 10k in the first place.  Given that I live about 50 minutes away from the race site and it started at 8:00 in the morning, I elected spend the night in Syracuse as opposed to driving there and getting up early in the AM.

Prior to the race I ate toast with almond butter with a giant cup of fresh ground coffee and of course drank a lot of water! According the the earlier weather forecast, it was supposed to be the 50’s and was excited because that is my optimal racing temp.  Unfortunately it was SUPER cold and thank goodness I had dressed in layers!

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(Seriously that is freezing especially on a lake!)

Needless to say, I was seriously anxious for the race to start because I was so cold that I just wanted to run to keep warm.  Here is my pre race, look how cold and cute I am photo:

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(That is my awesome friend that I ran the race with!)

And here is a picture of the crowd at the starting line right before we started:

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(See that girl in the blue? She’s really, really cold)

Here is a picture overview of the course:

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Now to my descriptive overview of the course:

Finally after standing there freezing our butts off for what felt like forever, the horn was blown and we were off! I wish that I had taken pictures during the race to show how gorgeous the course was and to show you the stream of runners all going up the hill that lay ahead of us, but my fingers were far too cold to fumble with my phone was I was trying to concentrate running a race.

We encountered what we assumed was our first hill right about the time we finished with mile one.  We had heard about this HUGE hill we were going to have to manage our way up and thought maybe this was it. Yeah, not so much. That hill was more like a bunny hill compared to what was ahead.  Somewhere in and around the end of mile two, we finally came face to face with this hill and let me tell you, not only was it HUGE, it was STEEP!

My friend and I used all the energy we could muster to make our way up this thing at a racing pace and once we finally managed to get to the top and thought we had conquered it, we were faced with yet ANOTHER HILL! It wasn’t as steep but it certainly went on FOREVER.  Finally at the top of this hill was a dead end with our turn around point and as they say, it was all downhill from there (but in a good racing way).  Everything really did seem a bit easier once we made our way back to the finish, except the first bunny hill that we now had to climb back over.  Once we made our way to the top of that, the finish line was in sight (actually it was around the corner, but we knew it was there).  We picked up the pace a bit and with about 200 yards left, we made a mad dash so that we could have a finish time of exactly an hour! While that might not seem like a huge accomplishment to the seasoned runner, it was a victory to us! Those hills were KILLER and we busted our butts!

See, look…we did it! With 7 seconds to spare 🙂

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Here is our post race, hot mess photo:

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(Happy we are alive & excited to be done!)

After that it was time for some scrumptious post-race eats! How seriously yummy does this breakfast look?

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Oh and other than this little SNAFU I discovered upon arriving back at my vehicle, it was a great day!

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Yeah, that would be my car that some wonderful citizens of Syracuse decided to vandalize. Thankfully, they didn’t really take anything of value but it was not how I wanted to spend the rest of my day! Too bad for them the ziplock bag of Cheez-It’s they stole was two years old (JOKES ON YOU SUCKAAAAA!)

How do you overcome a run with great, big hills? Do you have a game plan for tough courses or do you just run and hope you make it? Also, who steals Cheez-It’s out of a locked car?

 

Topo Athletic W-RR Shoe Review

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I wasn’t asked to do a review or was I provided any compensation. I simply was lucky enough to get my hands on these awesome shoes and given their uniqueness I really felt they deserved a review. Let me explain a bit as to how I acquired these nifty running shoes in the first place.

So back in the beginning of April, I was notified by Angela from happyfitmama.com that I was one of the winners of her #happyfitmarch Instagram challenge! My prize was a pair of Topo Athletic shoes and I could choose any pair that I wanted! To say that I was excited is an understatement! I really am not the lucky type and certainly have never won anything as fun as a pair of amazing running shoes!

My first task was picking out the pair I wanted. They sell five different types of athletic shoes. How’s a girl to decide?!?

Options:
W-ST these are their only non-split toe option and are best for speed work
W-RR these are split toe, super light-weight and have a closure system instead of laces meant to be used
W-RT these are split toe with traditional laces and a zero-drop design
W-RXthese are also split toe but meant more for cross training type workouts
W-MT these are meant to be used for outdoor trail/mountain training and as a road shoe

So after contemplating back and forth over the W-ST and the W-RR (I usually cross train shoeless indoors and I don’t run many trails), I went with the W-RR (as if it wasn’t obvious enough from the title of the post).

Here is why I chose the W-RR:

-I liked the idea of trying out a shoe with a split toe

-The laceless and unique closure system was really appealing

-I really needed a good pair of running shoes for longer distances since I am going to be training for a half marathon

Fit:

My next decision was to figure out what size to buy that would fit me best given the split toe design. After attempting measure my foot on a printable Brannock’s Device (uh yeah that was a nightmare), I just tried on my current size 7 running shoes and since there was a considerable amount of room left at the toes I decided to go down a half size to a 6.5. This turned out to be the right decision. Once I received them in the mail and tried them on they literally fit perfectly…not too tight and not too loose. They actually felt a bit like heaven.

This is what they looked like when they arrived in the mail:

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And this is what these beauties look like when I tried them on for the first time:

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Now that I knew they fit right and felt like heaven, I was anxious to take them out for a run. Full disclosure here; I was told they would be coming with a pair of the split toe socks when I ordered them. When my order arrived though, no split toe socks were to be found. I thought maybe since I was going to dive head first into this running thing that I would just embrace the no sock idea. Wasn’t a terrible idea but maybe not the best idea to do that while breaking in a brand new shoe…we will get to that later.

So back to the part where I take these beauties out for their first run! I was so excited just to get outside and see what these shoes were made of.

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The weather was warm and I was feeling happy and energetic. I didn’t have any real plan when I set out on the run, just that I was going to run until I didn’t want to run anymore.  I did decide to go a new route (one that I had driven before but never ran) and let me tell you, I ran.  As I started out my journey, I ran with intention but not so fast that I couldn’t take in my surroundings and enjoy this beautiful day.  With these shoes I felt like I was floating on air and as I went I took it all in and felt like I was discovering this route for the first time.  So much so, that I took pictures as I went along.

Mile One

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Mile Two

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Mile Three

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Before I knew it I had run three miles, and guess what? I ran three more miles after that!  I was certain when I finished that I must have been going at a 10 or 11 min/mile pace but when I checked my running summary when I was done I was surprised to learn how fast my pace actually was!

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I couldn’t believe my eyes! A 9:19 mile/minute pace for six whole miles?!? That was nuts to me! Not only because I didn’t feel like I was going that fast but because I had never even ran more than 3.1 miles in a single run before! I can’t say for sure if it was the cup of coffee I had prior to my run, the beautiful weather, or these amazing running shoes that contributed but I have a strong feeling these shoes were a big part of it.  They were absolutely comfortable and the split toe didn’t bother me one bit.  In fact, I didn’t notice it at all and if you read their website the whole design of the split toe is meant to feel seamless and integrate with the biomechanics of your body and I think that is exactly how it felt.

As far as the whole no sock thing- I wouldn’t recommend breaking in new shoes on a six mile run with no socks on unless of course, you’re used to running sock-less.  I did acquire some blisters from my successful six miler but I think that was contributed more to by my stupidness and less from the shoes.  I am actually running a 10k this weekend and I can’t wait to wear them and see how they perform.  I will be sure to write up a post on it and update this post if I can think of anything valuable to add!

Thanks for reading my review and happy running! 🙂

Have you ever tried a Topo Athletic shoe? What design would you have picked? 

Ready to Run

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I’ve always been able to push myself further, farther, faster, stronger with anything I put my mind to except running. I did my first 5k because of peer pressure and although I placed fourth in my age division I still had it in my head that it was just a fluke.

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I thought it was something that I did once and wouldn’t probably do again. I told myself “running is just not for me”. Then I did a 5k obstacle and loved it, so I signed up for another 5k and placed second in my age group!

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I still told myself though that I “wasn’t a runner”. I resigned myself to the fact that I would never run further than 3.1 miles because I was “not a runner” and I was okay with that. Recently though I have learned that I’m capable of running longer distances if I just put my mind to it, like everything else. Through some encouragement, I have registered for two longer distances races. One is a 10k that’s coming up next weekend 😱 (what am I thinking?!?). The other is a half marathon in Vegas in November (at least I have some time to train for that).

Here is a breakdown of the two races.

Springtime 10k Syracuse

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This 10k is actually set on the outskirts of Syracuse in the country side of Jamesville, NY.  It is a very hilly route and was formed to give Syracuse athletes a preview of the Ironman 70.3 course as well as the Mountain Goat run in May.  I am not entirely sure what I’m thinking signing up for this race when I haven’t had any real chance to train.  I have honestly only ran a total of four miles since last Fall but when I did, I was able to do it at a 8:30 min/mile or less pace so Im just going to go out there and take it slow.  I also have confidence that the conditioning work that I have been doing all winter will really help me to be able to push through all those hills and run without much struggle.  I may be putting my foot in my mouth but we will see! I will post an update after I run and let you know if I survived or not!

The other race that I registered for is a half marathon in Las Vegas.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon Vegas

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This race takes place on the 16th of November but really includes an entire weekend of Vegas-style fun! You get to run along the scenic strip and live bands play along the course while you race.  According to the race site the course is pretty flat which just might seem a bit easier in comparison to the hilly race I am going to be running next weekend. A half marathon seems like a really big stretch right now but how much fun does running along  the strip of Vegas at night sound?!? I was encouraged to do this race by a friend and after looking at her 18 week training schedule, I really feel that I just might be able to pull this off.  Plus, I get to take a girls trip to Vegas with my sister…how awesome is that?

So now that I have committed, I have to do it.  First though, I will need to train (for the half at least).  I will be posting training updates and sharing my struggles and triumphs along the way. I’m hoping for smooth sailing but as we all know, there are bound to be some bumps and metaphorical hills to conquer.  Fingers crossed.

Besides All the Things I Want to Buy, Here Are the Things I Want to Try:

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About two weeks ago I wrote a post about what I’m going to buy or hopefully add to my home gym collection soon! I meant to include what I’d like to try as well in that post but I ran out of time.

Anyway, to continue, here are two fitness related things I’ve been dying to try!

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The first is DDP Yoga. DDP stands for Diamond Dallas Page (a former pro wrestler) and he created a yoga program after injuring his back. I first saw DDP Yoga on Shark Tank (my husband loves that show we religiously watch Shark Tank Tuesday and the new episodes every Friday). He presented it with this tough and confident attitude with the tag line “It Ain’t Your Momma’s Yoga” and I have to say it left me intrigued.

I’m not one to fall for gimmicks and such but I’ve never been able to get into yoga because I’m not patient enough even though I know I should be doing it (honestly, I don’t even take the time to cool down after a workout!). I like workouts that leave me feeling like I’ve earned my sweat and since DDP Yoga combines traditional fitness exercises, dynamic resistance along with sports therapy exercises and yoga, I think it’s something I just might be able to get into!

I haven’t had the opportunity to try it yet but I joined a March fitness challenge group on Twitter and they were all DDP Yoga fanatics which only left me more curious and more excited to try it out! I’m hoping I get to soon and when I do I’ll post a blog write-up on what I thought!

Ok the next thing I’ve been dying to try and think would be fun to own (if I had $$ to throw away) is the Nexersys machine, which I also ironically saw on Shark Tank but had heard about several months beforehand.

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The Nexersys is a piece of fitness equipment that claims to provide a full body workout using HIIT (High intensity interval Training) workouts in an interactive fashion. It’s pretty much a fitness gaming system that has a built in trainer. I’m not a gamer by any means (I think the last gaming system I played on was a Sega in like 1994), but how cool is it that you can hit, punch & kick this thing and it yells at you to do so?!?

There are over 100 workouts to choose from (or you can customize your own), three different fitness levels and even a multi-player setting!!! That’s not all though (I’m saying this in my best infomercial voice), it provides you with a results analysis too! Meaning that at the end of the workout it’ll tell you how many times you hit, how accurate your hit was and how much power you used!! Whaaaat?!? Why can’t I own one so I can play right NOW?!? Ugh. This would so be my next big purchase if I had an extra three grand to blow! I’ll just have to settle for finding one somewhere and trying it out 🙂

So I’m sure I could list a million other things I’d wanna buy or want to try but I’ll save them for another post!

What fun fitness things do you want to try or buy? Have you ever tried DDP Yoga? Anyone have a Nexersys and want to invite me over to play?

 

Want It, Need It, Gotta Have It: Home Gym Edition

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I am always on the search for something new to try or some fun piece of equipment to add to my home gym.  I already have a good chunk of equipment for my fitness collection but I’m always wanting more.  Usually I will ask for something for my birthday or Christmas or Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day or pretty much any time I can find an excuse for my husband to buy me something fitness related. This past Valentine’s Day he bought me lebert equalizers  and for my birthday this past year he bought me battling ropes! I honestly really have enough equipment to keep myself in shape but much like a kid in a candy store; I want more!

I have been writing down a list of stuff that I am going to buy (or have gifted to me 😉 ), I wish that I could own, or that I really want to try.  I’ll start first with what I’m going to buy.

TRX SUSPENSION TRAINER

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TRX stands for Total Body Resistance Exercise and it leverages gravity and body weight for total body training.  Not only is it portable but there are literally hundreds of exercises that you can do with it. I have been wanting a TRX for a long time now and I found the perfect excuse to ask for it for this upcoming Mother’s Day.
Let me go off topic here for just a minute and explain the scenario that crafted my excuse to ask (or demand) this as a gift. You see, my husband goes to Vegas every year on a guys trip and he happened to book this year’s trip without consulting a calendar or better yet HIS WIFE in regards to the date. It just so happens he picked the one weekend that’s supposed to be reserved for the women who raise you or ya know, BIRTH YOUR CHILDREN. I think I was upset for an entire minute when I realized that I could absolutely use this to my advantage in the gift giving department.
For a split second I desired a handbag but then I snapped out of it and immediately requested a TRX. I have to wait for Mother’s Day-ish to get it but I can assure you, I WILL get it and I can’t wait to incorporate it in my fitness routine. 🙂

The next thing that I am itching to buy and hoping to add to my collection soon (can Flag Day be made into a gifting holiday???), is a plyo box set!

PLYO BOX SET

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Plyo box exercises are great for increasing explosiveness and agility so you can go higher, harder, faster and be stronger 🙂 While it might be cheaper to just build a plyo box, I am not that handy and neither is my husband. Plus I really like how these are stackable and come in varying heights! I also really want these because it’s a heck of a lot better than what I’m improvising with now.

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Yeah, that’s the seat to my husband’s Bowflex. It’s probably not the safest way to be doing plyo work and I’m limited to the number of exercises I can really do. The plyo box set just allows for so many more activities; lateral jumps, box squats, plyo box burpees, dips, jump overs…oh man the list goes on and on!!!! I’m getting a little too excited over them…maybe I can convince the Easter Bunny to leave them next to my basket 😉

Okay, I had originally intended on writing my entire list in this post but it’s getting a little lengthy and my kids are nagging me for food (the nerve!!!). When I have five minutes to myself or they become self sufficient (I’m thinking the latter may come first), I will continue the list in another post!

Hope everyone has a happy Monday 🙂

What equipment do you like to use at home? What’s on your wish list?