Friday, January 31, 2014

Planet Fitness: Deal or Dud?



Today we are going to talk about Planet Fitness and whether I think that a membership is a deal or a dud. But first, a little back story.

I signed up for a gym membership at Planet Fitness back in September and this week for the first time in months, I actually managed to show up. They say showing up is the hardest part, right? I guess they (whoever "they" are) are right.

The Planet Fitness that I joined is nowhere near my home, but it is very close and convenient to my office. My positive, overly ambitious side said that I would go there in the morning before work, or on my lunch break, or right after work. After all, it is only five minutes from my work. What could be more convenient? Then reality set in and I was always too busy, worked too late, worked through lunch, and I never managed to step a single foot inside the gym. Not to say I didn't run outside or do other things, but Planet Fitness and I just weren't making a connection.

I was intrigued by Planet Fitness because their monthly fee for a no-frills single gym membership is only $10 a month. Ten bucks a month!?! That's like Netflix cheap. If I can pay $10 a month to stream bad old bad movies, then surely a whole gym membership is worth that...except for the first four months of my membership, I just sat on it. ($40 down the drain).

But one day I decided to change all of that. I was done with not finding the time to run. I was done with cold mornings and dark evenings. I was done with the excuses and when I don't run regularly I start to go crazy. I sat at my desk this week and started crying for no apparent reason. Running is essential to my mental health. It was time to make a change.

For my first trip to Planet Fitness I decided on a run during my lunch break. I'd have thirty minutes to run a few miles on the treadmill and then the rest of my lunch hour would be driving back and forth, changing, whore shower (i.e. towel dry, perfume, deodorant) and a quick touch up on makeup and hair. I can't be the only one who does this. Right?

My first trip was a successful one. Then I went back a second time and did free weights, and then back again for another run on the treadmill and some weights. This is becoming a nice little habit. While I thoroughly enjoy the cheap membership, this place definitely has some pros and cons.

My matching outfit with the gym colors is purely coincidental!


Things I Loved:


1. The most obvious pro is that it is $10 a month. You have to sign a one year annual contract in order to get that price, but even if I had to buy my way out of the contract before the end of the year, it would still be pretty cheap. They have other plans at higher prices that include access to multiple gyms, massage chairs, and tanning, but I was mostly interested in this gym for the $10 price tag. If I was going to pay a regular gym price, I'd just go to LA Fitness.

2. They have a giant row of TVs all set to different stations that can be viewed from the cardio area. You can plug your headphones right into the treadmill and listen to any TV that you want. I always found trying to read closed captions while running was distracting, and I could never quite "tune" my radio to the correct station. I loved that I could access the audio from all of the TVs right through the treadmill.

3. It wasn't very crowded at lunch time or right at 5 o'clock. Not dead, but not packed. Perfect.

4. They are open 24 hours. Not that I plan on working out at midnight, but I like the convenience of just knowing they are always open. If you ever stood in front of LA Fitness at 5am waiting for someone to show up and unlock the doors, you know what I mean.

Things I Didn't Love:


1. The gym is purple. It is not that I don't like purple (I do!) it is just that it is really girly. I don't mind it (I mean, who cares what color your treadmill is), but it amazes me that I regularly see men there. It just seems like such a girly gym. I guess for $10 a month, these men suck it up and put their egos aside.

2. Speaking of ego, if you are an experienced gym-goer this might not be your place. Planet Fitness prides themselves on making it a comfortable atmosphere for newbies. So if you are not a newbie, like me, and the employees ask you more than once if this is the first time you've ever joined a gym, it gets annoying. The whole place is a little dumbed down. It is not necessarily a bad thing, but while trying to be exceptionally appealing to newbies they turn off the more experienced...but I think that is kind of the point.

3. On that same note, they only have dumbbells up to 50 lbs. If you are a hard-core weight lifter, this obviously won't work for you. If you are a weakling like me, then up-to-50lbs will get me by for quite a while. The other issue is that the free weight area is very small. There are only a couple of benches and if there are even two other people in the area, it can feel crowded. This gym caters more to inexperienced people who seem to mostly rely on machines, so I can usually work around the few people hanging out in the free weight section. Free weights are a priority for me, but maybe not as much for other people who go to this gym.

4. The steam room is one of my favorite parts of a traditional gym. I see it as a mini-reward after working out. I love to finish a workout then relax for 15 minutes in the sauna. Planet Fitness does not have a steam room (or a pool in case you were wondering). They do have massage chairs and a hydro massage bed that could be used to relax, but these are only accessible with the higher membership fee ($19.99).

5. They have iPod docking stations built in the treadmill, but it had the old connection and no converter. My iPhone5S didn't work with it. I guess it was at least nice to have a place to keep my phone while I run.

6. Lastly, they keep hounding me to provide them with a cancelled check, despite the fact that I signed up online and have been making automatic payments for four months. A check? What is this "check" you speak of?

In the end, I think the $10 price tag is worth putting up with some of the negatives. While I'll acknowledge that I am not their target market, I am willing to over look some things in order to take advantage of the low cost. I mean, really? Who cares what color the machines are, or who is running next to you? I'm there to get my workout done and get out. I'm not enjoying the scenery or making new friends. For me, it is a deal. For 1/3 the price of a traditional gym, I have access to treadmills 24/7 and enough free weights to get the job done. It is definitely a deal if you are not a hard-core weight lifter, you can put your ego aside, ignore the annoying marketing, and learn to love purple!

What do you think? Have you ever been to Planet Fitness? Do you think $10 a month is a good deal for a gym membership, even if you aren't their target market?


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Keep Running,

Lea

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

PIN IT PARTY

You know I love a party. Actually, I am sort of an introvert, so I really don't enjoy parties at all (unless I have a close personal relationship with at least 75% of the people in the room). That kind of narrows the parties that I enjoy to the ones that I host myself. Did I mention I am sort of an introvert? So I don't throw parties that often! I much prefer a quiet evening alone with Hubby.

A Pinterest Party is the kind of party that I can get behind! It's online and there is no social awkwardness or forced small talk with strangers about things I don't care about... and no one asks a lot of personal questions about me! It is really the perfect party. You just share your own favorite pins, link up to the pin it party, and then visit (and repin) other people's pins!

Did you know that pinning images from your favorite blog (clears throat, hint) is a great way to support your favorite blogger? Comments are awesome, shares on Twitter are great, we appreciate all of that, but pins actually help drive large amount of traffic to our blogs! The easiest, most effective way you can throw your support towards a blog is to start pinning images of the articles you enjoyed. (End of self-serving public service announcement.)

First things first. Are you following me on Pinterest

So let's start the fun! Thanks to the amazing Lean Green Bean Blog for hosting this Pinterest Party once again.

All bloggers are welcome to participate! Here’s what you do (from the Lean Green Bean Blog):
  • Round up 5 blog posts you’ve written that you would like to see on Pinterest.
  • Make sure there is a nice, pinable image or photo included in each post.
  • Write a short post featuring the posts you chose- ie, put 5 nice images & links to the posts all in one place, along with a short description of each post.
  • On Thursday January 30th, publish your post, then visit The Bean and add your post to the linkup!
The only rule is that if you link up, you should visit some of the other linkups and pin at least 3 images!

Here is my contribution to the Pin It Party!

1. 50 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Workout

2. The Ultimate Run Faster Rock Playlist

3. 50 Quick and Easy Healthy Snack Ideas

4. You Know You're a Fitness Blogger when...



5. Five Tips to Increase Likes and Engagement on Your Facebook Fan Page



Thank you for joining me at the Pinterest Party! I hope you'll check out some of these posts, pin the things you like, and most importantly, go visit some of the other pinners at the party. After all, what is a party without a little social interaction! :)

Like this post? Please consider sharing (and pinning).

Keep Running,

Lea

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Saturday, January 25, 2014

The 7 Deadly Gym Bag Sins, a Gym-Bag-Intervention + a GIVEAWAY

Disclosure: I was provided a Apera bag free of charge for the purpose of a product review. I was not compensated in any other way. All opinions are my own, and I am not obligated to give it a positive review. If I hated it, I'd tell you.

The 7 Deadly Gym Bags Sins:

 

1. "The Disposable Gym Bag"
2. "The Stinky Gym Bag"
3. "The Over-Stuffed Gym Bag"
4. "The Disorganized Gym Bag"
5. "The Cheaply-Made Falling Apart Gym Bag"
6. "The Use Anything With a Handle Gym Bag" 
7. "The Germ Infested Gym Bag"

I didn't realize that I had a serious problem until the solution was so clearly pointed out to me.

Meet my gym bag.

 Oh, that's not normal? I can do better!

Still, no?

When the nice people at Apera offered to send me a gym bag for a review, I saw it more of a much-needed intervention. A Gymbagervention. Yes, I am making up words now. I think once you have established a blog, you are allowed to do that. How did Apera know I was carrying around my stuff in an overstuffed grocery bag? Maybe I was a victim like on that show What Not To Wear, where they secretly follow you around and film your embarrassing outfits, except it should be called What Not To Carry. Where's my secret footage Apera?

My gym bags weren't cutting it. Frankly, it's embarrassing. So let's discuss the pros and cons of my grocery bag/gym bag vs. my beautiful new Apena Performance Duffle Bag.

Grocery Bag Pros:
Cheapest "gym bag" on the planet.

Grocery Bag Cons:
Terrible for the environment.
You might be mistaken for a homeless person carrying your prized possessions in a grocery bag (yes, my running shoes are one of my most prized possessions).
Bag tears easily.
Things fall out.
Do I even need to go on? I didn't think so. Let's move on the gushing about my new Apera Performance Duffle.

Apera Performance Duffle Bag Pros:

My Fuchsia Apera Performance Duffle
GORGEOUS. Of course, it comes in a variety of colors, but if you know me, you know I chose the Apera Performance Duffel in fuchsia. Looks aren't everything, but when function is topped off with beautiful fashion, it is a nice bonus.

SPACIOUS: You won't even believe what you can fit in this bag. It's huge! Need to carry a week's worth of workout gear? Two pair of shoes? A bowling ball in case the need arises? The kitchen sink? No problem!

ORGANIZED: A giant bag becomes it's own problem if it is not organized! I love that there are pockets for everything. There are pockets on each end that are big enough to carry a pair of shoes in each, to keep your dirty shoes separated from clean clothes. There are two smaller padded pockets on top of the bag for your cell phone or MP3 player, a padded pocket in the front for your tablet, and multiple pockets on the inside for your jewelry or whatever else you need to store separately from the main compartment. The inside lining is a light color so you aren't digging into a big black hole! Brilliant!

Apera inside view

HEALTHY: How can a gym bag be healthy, you ask? It is healthy when it is antimicrobial. The bag is treated on the inside and outside to prevent the growth of antimicrobial odors to help prevent that awful lingering odor and the spreading of germs, plus it is easy to wipe clean.

CHARITABLE: For every three bags that Apera sells, they donate one Sprint Pack to a Special Olympics athlete. Learn more.

The Sprint Pack - Enter to Win in the Giveaway

Also, if you want to win the Best Spouse-Significiant-Other of the Year Award, this would make a lovely Valentine's Day present for the gym-goer in your life.

note: Hubby might not want pink. :)

Do you want to win a Sprint Pack from Apera which also includes a 25% off coupon for any Apera bag? It is easy to enter to win. Just leave a comment on this blog post and fill out the Rafllecopter form, plus there are plenty of ways to earn additional entries.


a Rafflecopter giveaway
Want another chance to win? Apera holds their own giveaway each month. They will be giving away a free Apera bag to one winner each month. All you need to do to enter is sign up for their newsletter by providing your email address at the bottom of their website. Then, at the conclusion of each month, they'll randomly draw a name from those subscribers in the email newsletter database to select the winner. The bag for February is the Yoga Tote. Every month they will change the style. Good luck!

Are you guilty of any of the 7 Deadly Gym Bag Sins? Do you need a Gymbagervention?

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Keep Running,

Lea

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GIVEAWAY RULES:
No purchase necessary.
Contest runs from 1/25/2014-2/4/2014.
1 winner will be randomly selected via Rafflecopter.
Open to US residents 18 years of age or older.
Must have a shipping address in the US. 
Winner will notified via email (if available) and blog post, and will have 48 business hours to claim prize.
If original winner does not claim prize within 48 business hours an alternate winner will be selected.
Contestants must enter on the Rafflecopter form in order to win.
Prize will be shipped directly from Apera.












Monday, January 20, 2014

50 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Work Out



Sometimes we all need a little kick in the butt. Motivation for me tends to ebb and flow over time. There are times when you just can't stop me and other times...well, I need a little push in the right direction. Whether you are just starting your fitness journey or you have been doing this for a long time, you'll almost always reach a point where you need to find a little extra motivation to work out.

 50 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Work Out



1. Don't over think it. Just do it. It's all in your head.
2. Tell yourself you just have to go for 15 minutes and if you really aren't feeling it after 15 minutes you can stop. 15 minutes is better than nothing.
3. Call a friend or family member and recruit a workout friend.
4. Look for inspiration online. Try Pinterest, Instagram, and Dailymile for starters. Follow inspiring people.
5. Do if for those who can't and would give anything to be able to work out.
6. Do it because it is good for your health, inside and out. It is not all about physical appearance.
7. Do it for your kids.
8. Do it for the stress relief and the endorphins.
9. Do it so you can brag about it later on Facebook and Instagram.
10. Do it for the people who said you wouldn't or couldn't.
11. Turn on upbeat music and dance around instead (it counts).
12. Change it up! Are you bored of the same old routine? Try something active that is totally new.
13. Join a class or a running group.
14. Take your dog for a long walk.
15. Put on your workout clothes and shoes, then you're already half way there, you just have to finish it off.
16. Remember how great you feel after you finish a workout.
17. Call or email a friend for encouragement.
18. Think about your goals. Write them down. Read them often.
19. Remind yourself that exercise is a privilege.
20. Remember why you started working out in the first place.
21. Do it so you can check in at the end of the day with an online community.
22. Do it for the "me time."
23. Do it because your actions could be inspiring others.
24. Do it because you promised yourself you would and you don't want to break the promises you make to yourself.
25. Do it because people that love you are counting on you.
26. Create a work out playlist. Nothing motivates me quite like music!
27. Print out a calendar and put it on your fridge. Fill in the boxes with your workouts.
28. Buy some new workout gear.
29. Or reward yourself with new workout gear after you successfully finished a month of workouts.
30. Be thankful that you can work out, that you are physically able to do it.
31. Look to someone who inspires you (online or in real life).
32. Remember that 80% of success is just showing up.
33. Hire a trainer.
34. Banish the negative thoughts. Drown them out with a positive mantra.
35. Set a goal, sign up for a race, or sign up for a competition.
36. Join a fitness challenge online. Do a search, there are literally thousands of free challanges at any given time with a built in online support system.
37. Eat healthy foods to fuel your body properly to do those workouts.
38. Tell your friends, family and the entire world wide web of your plans to work out.
39. Make a bet with a friend for a little friendly competition.
40. Read healthy living blogs, books, and magazines for success stories and motivation.
41. Surround yourself with people who have the same goals and aspirations (online or off).
42. Pay yourself! Put a dollar in a jar every time you work out. When you reach $100 buy yourself a kick-butt reward.
43. Do one small thing. You don't have to go from zero to 60. Remember that anything is better than nothing.
44. Remember to focus on progress, not perfection.
45. Do something that is fun for you. Workouts don't always have to be structured in the gym. Ride a bike, play sports, chase your dog around the back yard, crawl around in the mud, anything that gets your heart pumping.
46. Help someone else that is less experienced on their fitness journey.
47. Don't think it has to be all or nothing.
48. Use technology to track your progress and build a support system (apps, devices, etc.).
49. Remember that great line from the movie League of Their Own, "It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great."
50. Make a list of all the reasons you should work out and read it often (Oh look, that is what I just did).

How do you motivate yourself to workout when you need that extra push? Leave it in the comments!


Keep Running,

Lea

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photo credit: Edson Hong via photopin cc
photo credit: jerryonlife via photopin cc
photo credit: Edson Hong via photopin cc
photo credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Project Early Bird and #FFCHECKIN

Project Early Bird & #FFCHECKIN
The house is dark and quiet. You were in a dead sleep but awakened abruptly by the shrill of the alarm that fills the room. You look at the clock. 5:00am, ugh. Your husband hugs you a little tighter and you think that you are probably the most warm and comfortable that you have ever been in your whole life. You have exactly 5 seconds to make the decision that will impact your whole day: get up to work out or turn the alarm off? What do you do?

It is funny how we live our life in cycles...both good and bad. Sometimes bad habits sneak into our otherwise good routines. Sometimes we are on a roll and then life throws us a curve ball and everything gets off track. I must reluctantly admit that I have gotten so far off track that I can't even see the track anymore.

Work is busy. I mean, really really busy. I started a new job late last year and have an increased workload, and more travel, not to mention the impact of having to learn a new job. I am sure things will ease up once I get into the groove of my new responsibilities, but for now, things are really hectic. I have been traveling, working late, and going in early, all things that had not been part of my routine for the last four years. I am not complaining, this is a great job, with a great company and I am incredibly grateful to have this opportunity. I just need to learn how to rework my routine with my schedule change.

In order to squeeze in daily work outs, my only real option is to work out in the morning. It is the morning or nothing, and lately, It's been nothing and I need to turn that around. But I have been struggling. Why? Because it is not routine.

In 2012 working out in the morning was my routine. It was what I did and I loved it. I even wrote a couple of blog posts (here and here) about how to get up early to workout. That post was my highest page view blog ever! Sometimes I read what I wrote in the past and I feel like I was writing to my future self. Now I just need to go back and take my own advice. If it was only that easy.

I said to my sister (who gets up at 4am everyday) "I just can't get up in the morning anymore. As much as I know I need to, as much as I really want to get my workout done before I go to work, I just can't drag myself out of bed." She reminded me of a very important fact:

"It is not that you CAN'T, it is that you CHOOSE NOT to." - my very smart sister.

So I decided to do what any good blogger would do, and put it out there on the internet to make myself accountable. If I tell you now that I am going to commit to getting up in the mornings at least three work days a week, then at 5am when that little voice in my head tells me to just go ahead and hit snooze, I'll remember that I promised YOU I would do it...and if I can't be accountable to myself, then maybe I'll feel accountable to you. Deal? Deal.

The good part is that I already know from experience that once I get back into the routine of early morning workouts, it stops being so hard, and I love every single minute of it. I know that I'll just have to suffer get through those first few weeks while I am trying to establish the routine.

Just as I was realizing that I needed some accountability in my life, I read this cool thing that FitFluential is doing called 'FitFluential Check In' with hashtag #FFcheckin. It is a tool for accountability, encouragement, and motivation. The idea is that at the end of the day on Instagram, you take a picture that represents a recap of your day and hashtag #FFcheckin and #FitFluential and the FitFluential community will come together to encourage, congratulate, and inspire each other.

Each day, you "check in" with the FitFluential community. How did you do? Did you work out? Did you take a rest day? Are you proud of something? Did you kick butt? Are you struggling with something? Maybe you're frustrated? It is a way to look for encouragement from an entire community, especially when we sometimes feel like we are at this all alone.

The way it works (and how it will be successful) is that at the end of the day you check in on Instagram with your hashtags, then you search the ##FFcheckin hashtag and look for other people to encourage. Give a thumbs up where it is deserved, or a reminder that tomorrow is another day. It will work when you give as much (or more) than you take. Now isn't that what being FitFluential is all about?


Read the whole #FFCHECKIN post on Fitfluential for all the details. 

Here is FitFluential's Aunt Kelly telling us more about FitFluential Check in.


It seems like the timing was perfect for me. I need all the accountability I can get right now. 

Are you with me? Will you check in with me on Instagram with #FFcheckin? If you want to join FitFluential, you can do it here. You don't need to join FitFluential in order to participate in #FFcheck in, but why not sign up if fitness is your thing? Tell them I sent you (you'll make me look good). 

If you follow me on Instagram @runningwithollie, I'll follow you back and we can support and motivate each other.

What time is your alarm set for Monday? Will you check in with me next week?

I'm a little scared to click publish on this post, because that means I'll actually have to do this!



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Keep Running,

Lea

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Friday, January 17, 2014

Friday Feature: A Running Girl and Her Dog!

Welcome to my new monthly blog series: A running girl and her dog (or could be a guy and his dog). Each month I'll feature a running blogger who runs with her (or his) pooch, because we all know that dogs make the best running partners (and cute dog pictures make for good blog content)! I have a soft spot in my heart for dogs and can't help but love a running blogger who runs with her pooch.

Today's feature is Jen from Running with the Girls. You're going to love her blog and you can't help but fall in love with Pepper's sweet brown eyes. Jen is a fellow Fitfluential ambassador from Gardiner, Maine. Jen and Pepper don't let little things like freezing cold temperatures and snow get in the way of their running! Now that is dedication! 
Meet Jen and Pepper from Running with the Girls!

Tell us about your favorite running partner:
Pepper is almost six years old and a lab mix.

Where is your favorite place to run with your dog:
On the road.

Have you ever raced with your dog:
Nope! We only have one canine race and I'm never around that weekend. I need to make it the top of my priority list OR organize my own canine race because this girl would LOVE it!!!

Tell us about a running moment that has made you proud (does not have to be dog related):
Most recently I decided to start snowshoe running around my property and Pepper has been joining me as well. It's hard and she has to bound through the snow...but she sticks with me! Amazing. 

What important running lesson can we learn from our dogs:
Companionship is really what it's all about.

Check out Jennifer's blog over at Running with the Girls.
You can also follow Jennifer and Pepper on one of her social media channels:

Instagram: http://instagram.com/runningwtg
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Running-With-The-Girls/271985079513164
Twitter: http://twitter.com/runningwtg

Are you a running blogger who would like to be featured with your running dog? Just fill out this form to be considered for a future feature.

Like this post? Please consider sharing.

Keep Running,

Lea

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Ultimate Run Faster Rock Playlist & Koss Fit Series Review

5k playlist
This post is sponsored by Fitfluential LLC on behalf of Koss Fit Series headphones. All opinions are my own.

I think I have weird ears. I mean, headphones just don't stay in. I have friends that tell me that they run in those headphones that come with the iPhone. Those things don't even stay in my ears when I'm sitting at my desk. I have tried everything. Hubby would tell me I was just not putting them in correctly. There's a technique? He would try to shove them in my ears for me, but even so, it was inevitable that a mile or two down the road, those suckers would pop out and then I would spend the rest of my run messing with my headphones instead of focusing on my run. I ultimately gave up and just started wearing the ones that have the band around the top of my head (so nerdy!). So when Fitfluential chose me for an opportunity to review the Koss Fit Series headphones that claim not to fall out, I was excited to try them out, but admittedly was still a bit skeptical, will these headphones really stay in?
Koss Fit Series Headphones. I was trying to spell RUN with the wire, did it work?
The weather was just gorgeous in Fort Worth on Saturday, a perfect day for a run with hubby and to test out my new headphones. The people from Koss sent me two different styles, the fit buds and the fit clips. The buds are what you would expect from buds except they are 33% smaller than normal ear buds, designed especially for women's smaller ears (brilliant)! Koss' female designers teamed up with Gold Medalist Dara Torres to create the world's first headphones created specifically for women, by women. They even come with three different cushion sizes (small, medium, large) so you can find the size that is just right for your own weird ears.

I popped the Koss buds in my ears and they seemed pretty secure, I even gave them a light tug to see if they would pop out with a little pressure and they stayed in. The real test will be on my run. Can they stay in my ears with all the bouncing around? They did! I ran almost three miles with hubby and I was super impressed that they didn't fall out once! I was also happy to find that the sound quality was good too, because ear buds that don't fall out are great, but if they sounded like crap then it really wouldn't matter if they stayed in because I wouldn't want to wear them. I'm happy to report these are the best of both worlds.

The second set of headphones I received were the Koss fit clips. I wore them on Sunday when Hubby and I took Ollie for a walk. These have soft flexible clips that go around your ears and also come with the multiple cushion sizes for the perfect fit. I had to play with the cushions on these to find the ones that worked best for me and I had a little trouble getting them in at first. You probably just have to be smarter than the headphones you are using. I finally figured out it was easier to plug my ears with the bud part first, then worry about the flexible clips around my ears (not the other way around). While these did the job just fine on our walk, I definitely preferred the fit buds of the two. I really like that they were both comfortable, stayed in my ears, and are sweat resistant.

If you need some extra motivation, then the Koss Fit Series headphones are must-have gear for the new year. Nothing motivates me quite like music during my workouts. You can purchase your own Koss Fit Series headphones at Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Kmart, and Sears.
Koss Fit Clips. I love the fashion colors!
Music and running go together like toes and blisters peanut butter and jelly. I have such a passion for both music and running, I love it when I have the opportunity to talk about them both in one blog post. I have multiple running playlists, depending on my goal. One of my favorite playlists is full of fast-paced rock songs. For me, fast songs usually mean fast feet. It is just natural for me to want to run with the beat of the song. When the tempo of the song increases, then so does my run tempo. This is my favorite 5K playlist and sometimes I save these songs for the very end of a longer race when I want to finish strong. There is nothing like a high energy song blasting in my ears for a boost of energy.


My Run Faster Rock 'n Roll Playlist, perfect for a 5k!

Run Faster Rock 'n Roll Playlist
Do you ever have trouble with headphones falling out of your ears when you run or workout? Do you have any recommendations for fast-paced rock songs to add to my playlist? Let me know in the comments or tell me on Twitter @GeaLenders and @Kossheadphones using hashtag #Koss. I'd love it if you would try out the Koss Fit Series headphones and songs from my playlist and let me know what you think.

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Keep Running,

Lea

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Monday, January 13, 2014

I am a Second Shift Athlete

Check it out! I was featured on second shift athlete today!

I am a Second Shift Athlete: Lea Genders


I'd love it if you would head over there to read my feature and leave a comment!
Thanks, Friends!


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Lea

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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Social Media Sunday: 5 Tips to Increase Likes and Engagement on Your Facebook Fan Page


After several years in the blogosphere, I have learned some things about social media that have been instrumental in the growth of my blog. These are the things that have worked for me and may be helpful to some of you that are just starting out or looking for ways to increase your social media presence. I don't claim to be an expert in social media, just someone who has been in the trenches for several years and figured a few things out along the way. This is the second post in a monthly blog series called Social Media Sunday! Today's topic is Facebook fan pages!

There was a time that Facebook was my largest traffic source, but those days are long gone. I have worked really hard over several years to build Facebook followers, but then had to start my fan page over from scratch last year when I changed my blog name. Unfortunately, as my page numbers grew on my new page, Facebook changed their algorithms and started to show my posts to less people. I think it has to do with the fact that they want page owners to buy advertising to boost their posts. I don't claim to understand how the algorithms work, but I do know that I have about 3000 followers and my posts, on average, are shown to 900 people. I still try to grow my numbers and I do feel like Facebook has some of my core blog followers, but it is becoming increasingly less important in my social media strategy (Google+ on the other hand, is becoming more important. More to come on that in a future post). With that being said, I still use Facebook to share my posts and more importantly, to exchange dialogue with my readers and other fitness fans.

5 Tips To Increase Likes and Engagement on Your Facebook Fan Page


1. Increase Engagement:
If you want to increase your own likes, the number one way to do this is to engage on other related pages in your niche. Get out there and comment, share, and like! Sign in as your page and like the all pages you find interesting (you will also need to like from your personal page, but more on that in a minute). Share content from other relevant pages on your page, enter the contests, comment on other people's status updates. Do it all under your page name account to get your name out there. Let people see you being active in the community. Give freely without expecting (or requesting) anything in return. It will come back to you, I can almost guarantee it.

Increase engagement on your own page by asking questions. Every single status update shouldn't be a link to your latest blog post. Remember what we said about not always talking about yourself? I like to ask people about their workouts, or their upcoming races. People want to tell you about themselves, you just need to ask. When people leave comments always respond! Ask people to leave the links to their own related fan pages so you and your followers can follow them too. People are engaged when you get them talking about the things they want to talk about, not always about your blog.

2. Like Pages from Both Your Personal Facebook Page and Your Fan Page
Even though I said to engage with other pages using your fan page, it is important to show your support by liking from your personal page also. When you like another page from your fan page it does not count in their number, only likes from a personal Facebook page count. To give your support to another page you have to like them from your personal page. I usually like a page from my personal account and my fan page at the same time, then I hide them from my personal feed (but keep the like). That way I can follow along their page from my fan page, but they still get the credit for my like from my personal page.
 
3. Give Shout Outs
Call it whatever you want: Friday Follow, Shout-Out Saturday, or Must-Follow Monday. Share a status update with the links to 10 other related Facebook pages and invite your readers to follow them. I'll share pages that my readers might find interesting, funny, or helpful. I share both big pages and small ones, whether they need my help or not. I often share the pages who's page owners are most active on my Facebook page. I invite my readers to like the pages and then offer for them to share their own page in the comments. This falls into the category of helping others without expecting or requesting anything in return.

4. Link in Comments
Why do bloggers put the link in the comments? You may have noticed that a lot of bloggers are not including the link to their blog post in their Facebook status update, but instead just a description of the post and a note that says that the link is in the comments. This is because Facebook does not favor sharing outside links. A status update from a page with a link in the status will be shown to considerably less people than one with link in the comments. It is sort of a work around to avoid being penalized by Facebook for sharing a link. If you want your link to get a further reach, do not put the link in the status.

5. Join Blogger Support Groups
Blogger support groups on Facebook are a big help if you find one within your niche. These are groups where bloggers leave their blog or social media links and agree to help the other people in the group by sharing and/or commenting. I have found that the smaller niche groups are most effective. For example, If 50 couponing blogging moms share my Facebook status, it is likely not to increase any engagement, because their audience doesn't care about my fitness content. However, if only five running bloggers share my post, their audience is more likely to be interested in  my content and I am likely to receive more engagement from just those five targeted shares. I am part of a Facebook group called Fitness Media in Motion which is small, focused and effective for me. Look for support groups within your niche to increase your reach, help others, and discover new blogs.

You can follow the Running with Ollie Facebook fan page here, and if you leave the link to your own fitness page in the comments, I will follow you back (from both my personal and fan page). If you leave your link please also follow the other people who leave their links too! Growing your Facebook page is all about community. Help others to grow their networks and your network will grow too.

Up next month....Twitter! Oh, I have so much to share with you about Twitter! Stay tuned!


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Keep Running,

Lea

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Friday, January 10, 2014

Five Things Friday and the Winner of the 13.1 Half Marathon Necklace Giveaway!

I was in New York this week for work. Wouldn't you know, the first time I visit New York City in five years, it just so happens to host the coldest temperatures New York has seen in 20. Ugh. I moved to Texas for a reason, those seven degree temperatures are not for me. Are they for anyone, really? So when I came home from a four day trip in the cold city, I came home to packages...and more packages! I had some good mail days while I was gone, and since I wasn't home for four days and three nights I got them all in one day!

New York is Cold.

On too many days the mailbox is overflowing with bills and junk, it is nice when there is a happy package (or five) waiting for me.

It seemed like the perfect opportunity for...

 

Five Things Friday: Good Mail Days (in order of excitement):


5. Almay Shadow Softies from Klout:

I can't wait to try this out!

Almay Shadow Softies

4. Resistance Tubes:

I bought this because my travel schedule is looking sort of heavy in the near future and resistance bands are great for travel...and for a reason that will be explained further in my #1 package.

Resistance Tubes

3. My Race Ragz:

I won a custom made shirt by www.myraceragz.com through a Metamorfit blog giveaway! Guess what I put on it? What would you put on your custom shirt? Let me know in the comments. I can't wait to wear this to a race!

My Race Ragz

4. Koss Headphones:

I am so excited, I received these Koss headphones for a campaign I am working on for Fitfluential. Look for a blog post soon with my thoughts on Koss and a running playlist for those fast short runs. I love being a Fitfluential ambassador. While I am on the subject of Fitfluential...did you know anyone can join Fitfluential? You don't have to apply to be an ambassador, you can just join as a community member for free! Whether you are a fitness professional or just starting your fitness journey (or anywhere in between), the Fitfluential family welcomes you! Sign up here to be Fitfluential and tell them I sent you! (If you live in Fort Worth, I would be especially excited if you signed up, because more Fort Worth people will bring more events and opportunities to Fort Worth.) If you decide to sign up please tell me in the comments! I'd love it if you would join us (no matter where you live, Fitfluential is worldwide). Fitfluential is not an end goal, it is a state of mind. Are you Fitfluential?

Koss Fit Series Headphones


5. Jillian Michaels: Body Revolution:

I am pretty excited about this! I have been majorly slacking on my strength workouts so I thought I needed a kick in the butt, and who better to kick my butt than Jillian Michaels? I love that it is a progressive 90 day program. I am ready to get started with these 30 minute workouts to get me back on track. This is the main reason I bought those resistance bands, because the program uses weights and resistance bands. I will be sure to blog about my progress!





Did you enter to win the 13.1 half marathon necklace? And the winner of the 13.1 Half Marathon Necklace is....

13.1 Half Marathon Necklace


a Rafflecopter giveaway
 
Did you get anything exciting in the mail this week? If you didn't win this time, you can always check out www.goneforarun.com and buy yourself a present to create your own good mail day!



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Keep Running,

Lea

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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Spinach and Turkey Stuffed Mushrooms

Lea's (almost) famous Spinach & Turkey Stuffed Mushrooms

Welcome to Throwback Thursday! This is a once monthly post where I dig deep into the archives and share a blog post that you may have missed the first time around. The one thing that I love about Throwback Thursday is that it gives me the opportunity to spruce up old posts, add fresh new pictures, and fix any old embarrassing mistakes. (I hate when that happens!) I originally shared this post in May of 2010, back in the olden days when I had just discovered Pinterest. How things have changed!

I updated the picture and did some editing, but the recipe is the same. Click over and check out the only thing I really know how to cook well, Spinach and Turkey Stuffed Mushrooms. They are so healthy and delicious and we probably eat them at least once a week.

I hope you will try them (and pin them) and let me know what you think!

Spinach Turkey Stuffed Mushrooms


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Keep Running,

Lea

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Saturday, January 4, 2014

50 Quick & Easy Healthy Snack Ideas


I am a serial snacker (no, not a cereal snacker). I think I like snacks more than I like meals. This is not a problem, as long as I keep most of my snacks on the healthy all-natural side. Sure, I enjoy an entire bag a single serving of kettle chips as much as the next gal, but here are some healthier quick and easy snack ideas that help keep me satisfied between meals and on the go!

1. Grapes (try freezing them)
2. Apples slices with natural peanut butter
3. Plain Greek yogurt with blueberries
4. String cheese
5. Pistachios
6. Celery with natural peanut butter
7. Baby carrots and hummus
8. Hard boiled eggs
9. Almonds
10. Cherries (my favorite!)
11. Protein shake (mix your own)
12. Cherry tomatoes with mozzarella
13. Bananas
14. Raw veggies & salad dressing
15. Cottage cheese mixed with low sugar yogurt (trust me, it's delicious)
16. Sunflower seeds
17. Clementines (cuties!)
18. Cottage cheese plain or with berries or pineapples
19. Pineapples
20. Veggies w/ guacamole
21. Sugar snap peas
22. Lettuce tuna wraps with spicy brown mustard
23. Edamame
24. Unsweetened raisins
25. Old fashion oatmeal (add your own blueberries and cinnamon)
26. Turkey roll ups with cheese
27. Avocado and tomato on whole wheat toast
28. Air popped pop corn
29. Olives
30. All natural fiber bar
31. All natural granola
32. Pickles
33. Cashews
34. Natural peanut butter & honey on a spoon
35. Bananas
36. Orange slices
37. Kale chips
38. Natural peanut butter on whole wheat toast
39. Microwaved eggs (yes! you can do that!)
40. Cucumber slices
41. Strawberries
42. Pumpkin seeds
43. Veggie chips (look for all natural ingredients)
44. Plain yogurt & PB2 mixed
45. Protein bars (make your own!)
46. Mixed fruit salad
47. Fruit smoothie
48. All natural apple sauce
49. Fruit skewers
50. Shrimp with cocktail sauce

Do you have any snack ideas to add to my list? What are your favorites? Let me know in the comments!
Have you entered my giveaway yet for a 13.1 half marathon necklace? It is open until January 10, 2014.


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Keep Running,

Lea

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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Half Marathon 13.1 Necklace Giveaway!


Disclosure: Gone For A Run has generously offered this prize at no charge for the purpose of a review or giveaway. All opinions are my own and I am under no obligation to recommend any particular company or item. If I hated it, I'd tell you.

Happy New Year! I figured we would start out the new year on the right foot...with a giveaway! Maybe you want to motivate yourself with a new running goal or reward yourself for your accomplishments of 2013. Maybe you know a runner that you would like to surprise with this pretty little necklace. All I know is that the only thing runners like more than running is talking about running. What a better way to spark conversation than to strap a 13.1 around your neck! 

It is so easy to enter to win this 13.1 half marathon necklace from Gone For A Run. All you have to do is leave a blog comment and then enter on the Rafflecopter form, plus there are plenty of ways to gain extra entries to win. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

No purchase necessary (which is convenient, since I have nothing to sell you).
Contest runs from 1/1/2014-1/10/2014
1 winner will be randomly selected via Rafflecopter.
Open to US residents 18 years of age or older.
Must have a shipping address in the US.
Winner will notified via email (if available) and blog post, and will have 48 business hours to claim prize.
If original winner does not claim prize within 48 business hours an alternate winner will be selected.
Contestants must enter on the Rafflecopter form in order to win.
Prize will be shipped directly from Running with Ollie blog (Texas).


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Keep Running,

Lea

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