Friday, December 19, 2014

10 Awesome Gifts For Runners | #FitnessFriday

Just a few of the most awesome gifts for runners---from a runner.

1// Running Shoe Tag (IronJen $11)

Who says that your shoes don't deserve a little bling action too? Remind your runner how far she's come and inspire her to keep going with this unique accessory

2// Lip Balm (Eos $3)

Chances are, your runner bud is still pounding the pavement this winter. Friends don't let friends run with crusty lips. Get her an Eos lip balm for her gym bag. She'll thank you later.


3// Activity Tracker (FitBit $60)

Y'all know how much I love my FitBit. It's quite easily my best fitness related purchase (well---I actually got it as a gift for my birthday! Round of applause for the hubby!) of 2014. FitBit's latest app update makes it super simple and easy to track all of your fitness activities---including running! I guess they heard my complaints!

See Related: My Love/Hate Relationship With FitBit Zip

4// Inspirational Running Art (InspireAndMotivate $7)

For the chic runner looking to give her workout area a little pizzazz. I'd totally put this next to my running bib and medal holder. Especially, if someone got me this....

5//  Medal Hook (Black Girls Run! $60)

Your favorite runner probably has a ton of medals collecting dust in a corner. Help her show them off with this uber cute and chi medal hook.

See Related: How To Display Your Running Bibs & Race Bling

6// ChiRunning: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-Free Running (Danny Dreyer $12)

A must read for any running enthusiast. It totally changes the way that you think about running and gives amazing tips for staying injury free.

 7// Fancy Water bottle (Camelbak $18)

My superhero hubby introduced me to Camelbak. He used it while he was in Africa. I mean...if it can keep him hydrated in Africa...I think that it will work well for my Spin class. Plus---it's pink. Enough said right?

8// Headband & Ear Warmer (Under Armour $20)

Hair out of eyes? ✓ Ears warm? ✓ Ridiculously sassy? ✓ This headband and ear warmer is super stylish, plus it's reversible!

See Related: Winter Running Guide

9// I Don't Sweat, I Sparkle (JasperandPeg $30)

Too cute for words and I promise that they will LOVE it!

10// It's Not A Sprint, It's a Marathon Bangle (Alex and Ani $28) 

Shh...I have a secret. I'm totally buying this for myself after I crush my half marathon in a few months. After weeks and weeks of training---I think that I deserve it!

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Wash Day | Steam Roller Curls

I haven't had a chance to respond to each one of your kind words of encouragement and intercessory prayers for my family yet---but I will. I'm so grateful for you guys! Just a quick update--my grandfather's open heart surgery last week was successful. He's recovering well and his spirit is brighter than a star. I can't tell you how much it humbles me to see your out pour of positivity. I've said it hundred times---but I'll say it again. Y'ALL ROCK!

Ugh...I wish that I would have gotten more pics of these curls!

With all that said---I'm combining two weeks of #washdayexperience into one post. Because---well---I ended up styling my hair the same exact way. The first week, I did a protein treatment with Nexxus Emergencee then rocked bouncy curls for a night out on the town with my hubby. The next week, because I loved the curls so much...I did it again using the products found here!

I haven't done a hard protein treatment on my hair since *insert gasp* September. <hangs head> In my defense, I've been protein layering using Joico K-Pak at least twice a month. Protein layering is amazing, I definitely think that it's why I still have relaxed ends on my head, but I really needed a full protein treatment to whip my hair back in shape. Here's how I did it:

  1. Pre-shampoo- I fully detangled and slathered my hair in Herbal Essences Hello Hydration Conditioner. I let it sit for about an hour. I need to do this more often--because omgosh my hair was so soft!
  2. Shampoo- Next, I hopped into the shower for 5 minutes to rinse the conditioner completely. I needed a good clarifying so I shampooed once with KeraCare 1st Lather Shampoo and then once more with Matrix Biolage Hydrasource Shampoo.
  3. Protein Treatment- with Nexxus Emergencee; the world's easiest to apply protein treatment. I let it air dry for an hour or so while I did chores.
  4. Extreme Deep Condition- Next, I stood under the spray of my shower for about 5 minutes to rinse the Emergencee completely. I deep conditioned with Matrix Biolage Hydrasource Conditioner on the length of my hair. Then I massaged my stands with extra virgin coconut oil, covered with a plastic cap and let sit for about 2 hours. 
  5. Air Dried- I added a bit of Chi Silk Infusion to 80-85% wrapped in a cotton t-shirt.
  6. Leave ins-I used Jessicurl Too Shea Extra Moisturizing Conditioner to moisturize and a dab of hair butter  to seal, then I blew out my roots with cold air to stretch it and set on small Caruso Steam rollers for about 30 minutes.

The Results:
Why I Used A Clarifying Shampoo- 
My hair hates shampoo. I say it a lot. I mean every word. But it doesn't mean that there aren't times when product builds up on my strands. I shampoo once a month and I clarify with every hard protein treatment. 

Why I Used A Hard Protein Treatment- 
My hair loves protein. I use protein laced conditioners regularly during my entire hhj. My hair behaves better with a little extra protein in it's life. I also noticed a little more breakage, a little less moisture retention, and a lot more tangles in my hair over the last 2-3 weeks. That's my hair's way of telling me that it was time for a root to tip intervention. 

Why I Used Steam rollers-
My hubby and I had an event to attend. I knew that I wouldn't have enough time for any of the usual suspects- bantu knots, a perm rod set, or straightening---so my steam rollers got another go. Can I just talk about how much I love these things again? One of the BEST investments that I made for my hair in 2014 for sure. 

Speaking of Best of 2014, can you believe that in 2 weeks 2015 will be in full swing?!? Where did the time go y'all! Before I devise my evil fleek master plan for total hair domination---or something like that---I'll be sharing my Best of 2014: Hits & Misses.  I'd love to have you join me! You'll be able to add your links starting next week! (No clue what this is? Check out our 2013 collection of Hits & Misses here. Change the date and you got the same

Oh yeah---and I think that I'm ready to straighten this mess next week for Christmas. Fingers crossed that my ends aren't as bad as I think they are!

How was your washdayexperience? Share the dets below. 


Friday, December 12, 2014

Staying Sane with Running | #FitnessFriday

My heart is pouring thankfulness for all of your whispered intercessory prayers on the behalf of my grandfather and our family. I was humbled by the fact that you cared and I appreciate each note that you guys sent me. I just love my SavingOurStrands framily!

My grandparent's 50th wedding anniversary

I'm so excited to say that my grandfather's open heart surgery was successful and he's recovering as well as can be expected. The road to recovery is going to be bumpy but he's incredibly strong-willed and head strong. They won't be able to keep him down for too much longer. God is so good.

I really struggled to stay grounded and keep my sanity this week. When I felt like I just couldn't take it anymore---I ran. Literally. I ran for miles and miles lost in my thoughts and focused on my prayers. 

I needed that time to just be:
...without other voices competing for my attention. 
...with God telling me that my grandfather would be fine. 
...without hearing the doubt in my own voice. 
...whilst stomping fear with each pound on the pavement. 
My heart was forced open with faith and four miles flew by.

It's not a coincidence that weeks before, as I grieved for my father, that this guidance was shared with me:

"Let it do its work..."

Let challenges mold you. Let training reinforce you. Let yourself grow through pressure instead of surrendering under it. 

It's also not a coincidence that I ran a PB with a 8:25 average pace. Or that I felt rejuvenated. Or that I didn't even need my inhaler---a miracle in it self.

I'm ever grateful for the abundance of blessings and mercies that my family has received and is still receiving every day as my grandfather's health improves. I'm grateful that I'm becoming spiritually stronger, mentally stronger, and even physically stronger because of each challenge. Training isn't easy but I'm excited about its creating a better me!

How do you stay sane and committed to your fitness goals?


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wash Day | A Heavy Heart

I write to you with a heavy heart and tears swelling in my eyes. Life has been a roller-coaster of sorts over the last few weeks with the last 24 hours as a deep valley for my family. We discovered that my grandfather has a hole in his heart. Surgery is the only course of action but not until he's stable. His doctors are excellent---the best in the business. But we have united our faith in the only doctor who's a way maker, miracle worker and glorious healer.

I wish that I had the time or even the mental wherewithal to share my latest #washdayexperience with you guys this week. But I can't lie. I'm emotionally drained and physically exhausted. It took me 2 hours of stopping, starting, revision, and frustration just to bring you the previous 8 sentences. I know that you understand and you are full of grace---after all---you're simply amazing. But can you do me just one favor? Call your mother, brother, sister, cousin, uncle or aunt and tell them that you love them. That you need them. That they mean the world to you. Trust me. They want to hear it. They need to hear it.

This week's #washdayexperience collection is below. Join in and don't forget to share a positively radiant note with the chica that linked up before you. Without the beautiful flow of encouragement that each of you willingly offer---the #washdayexperience means nothing.

Friday, December 05, 2014

The Truth About My Half-Marathon Training | #FitnessFriday

Um...Who's idiot idea was it for me to train for a half-marathon? In the winter? During the holidays? With two kids? And high energy demanding career? Whilst a super hero military hubby sails off to save the free world? was my idea. *hangs head*

Training for this half-marathon has kept me busy beyond belief. But it has also kept me focused, excited, and on track. Here's how things are going after pounding the pavement for 4 weeks:

Runkeeper is a sneaky brilliant beast
I'm absolutely devoted to RunKeeper's sub 2:15 Half Marathon training plan. I've only missed one run in 4 weeks. My fast pace is 8:35, my normal pace is 9:30, and my I hate my life and running pace is 10:40. This plan started with a pace of 11:30 and it was truly a struggle to run that slow. But I know that it's for the best because #1 I don't want to get injured and #2 I don't want to overexert myself causing my asthma to rear it's ugly head. 

See Related: How I Stay Fit & Active with Asthma

I'm plenty forgetful so the best part of the RunKeeper plan are the reminders. Before each session, they'll send your phone the cutest alert about your next run. I even ran on Thanksgiving AND the morning after my 10 year high school reunion. #beastmodeKLP

Cold weather running gear
When I moved to the beach a few months ago, I expected sunny skies and 60s year round. I was wrong. Very wrong. Winter hit us like a ton of bricks and forced me into investing in running gear to keep me toasty roasty in the nippy weather. I totally heart under armour (and their outlet store woot!) where I picked up this amazing Infared Jacket, long sleeved shirt, and running leggings. Warm and Stylish!

Strength Training was a dud; Yoga is a rest rockstar
Truth be told, I haven't picked up or even looked at a weight in 4 weeks. *shame face* I know I know..."Runners need to do more than just run" but what had happened was...well...whatevs y'all, I'll do better in the next 4 weeks. The good news is that I'm committed to not doing much on rest days aside from Yoga. Bridges, twists, and sun salutations are helping me with my balance, keeping my his loose, and stretching my glutes.

Over the next few weeks, my running schedule is going to intensify---I'm excited for the challenge but a little nervous to see if I can really handle it. T-104 days!

What are your winter fitness goals?

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Wash Day | Bouncy Curls Using Steam Rollers

Between Turkey Day, my half-marathon training, getting sick, and trying to be fabulous for my 10 year high school reunion (OMG...I can't believe it's been TEN years since I graduated high school!), then doing it all over again, I've washed/co-washed my hair 3 times​ in 7 days!

I wanted big bouncy curls for my reunion but I knew that I wouldn't have time for either perm rods or my signature bantu knot curls. So I whipped out my steam rollers. I think that it's safe to say that I love these things---and Jessicurl!

  1. Deep Condition- My hair was well detangled from my previous 2 co-washes, so I jumped right into deep conditioning. I applied Jessicurl Deep Treatment from root to tip then massaged in a little extra virgin coconut oil to seal the conditioner in. I left it in for about 5 hours. 
  2. Detangling treatment- Then I rinsed each section. applied a dollop of Matrix Biolage Detangling Solution, worked it through my roots and rinsed.
  3. Air Dried- I added a bit of Chi Silk Infusion to 80-85% wrapped in a cotton t-shirt.
  4. Leave ins-I used Jessicurl Too Shea Extra Moisturizing Conditioner to moisturize and a dab of hair butter  to seal, then I blew out my roots with cold air to stretch it and set on Caruso Steam rollers for about 30 minutes.

Don't judge my bathroom selfe

The Results

Bantu knot-like curls! My hair felt super soft and well conditioned. I love the curl pattern and half way through taking down the rollers, I totally wished that I had more smaller rollers than the larger ones. Hmm...looks like I have something else to ask Santa for this year!
My besties
Every wash day, I'm reminded of how much my ends need a trim. I mean, when the heck was my last real trim? July? That's kinda sad. I totally know better than that. 

But trimming requires straightening and straightening requires 3 hours of devoted time with a flat iron. Ain't no body got time for that!

Oh and these are my day after bed-head waves. I didn't wrap, set, moisturize, anything. I am not a good role model. Do not try this at home. LOL. 

How was your #washdayexperience? Share the dets below!

Monday, December 01, 2014

My Struggle

This time of the year---every year---I struggle. I struggle with the holidays. I struggle with being festive. I struggle with smiling. I struggle hard. I always get sick. I always retreat. I always go dark. I always apologize profusely for not knowing how to balance grieving, honoring, mourning, celebrating my Father's life alone. 

My Father wasn't very likable. He was a terrible husband. He was a terrible brother. He was a terrible friend. He kinda sucked at everything that he did; except being my father. He was hands down an amazing father. All of my memories of our time together make my heart smile. Like the day that I realized that we had the same nose. Or how cozy, calm, and content I felt in his arms. I still remember his ridiculously silly versions of fairly tales that you'll never find in a book (trust me, I looked) and how we shared Eskimo kisses before bed. He was an excellent father and I never ever once doubted or questioned his love for me.

As I cleaned out my daughter's backpack, I found this picture:

The caption was so simple yet incredibly complex and genuinely sweet: "I am thankful for family." I realized that there is no reason, no reason whatsoever, that I had to work through this time of the year alone. I gathered my minions around me and for the first time, I showed them snapshots of their grandfather. We laughed and we giggled about the crazy fairly tales that my dad told. I explained why I gave them Eskimo kisses every night before bed. I shared how my son got his name.

I felt amazing. 

My daughter asked me if we could pray for her granddaddy at bedtime and thank him for watching over us. 

So simple yet incredibly complex and genuinely sweet. 

I'm thankful for my family. My dad's not here beside me, but he's always with me. His love lives in me and now his love lives in my kiddos too.