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September 16, 2014

Xtend Barre Studio

This morning started on a happy note for me!

Xtend Barre class

A couple of months ago, I noticed a new barre studio pop up relatively close to us and just the sight of one gave me the biggest smile. Long time readers might remember my visit to an Xtend barre class at a Pilates studio back when I first moved up to Michigan.

I thoroughly enjoyed that class, but wasn’t keen on the distance required to get there, especially in the dead of winter. For that reason alone, I never attended regularly and became ridiculously excited when I found out that a free-standing studio opened just ten minutes away from me!

For the first time since teaching classes in 2012, I got myself out of bed and made it to the barre for a 6:30 a.m. class. Getting up that early is always a challenge for me, but once I get there I absolutely love it.

Xtend barre pilates and dance

The Xtend barre workout is very similar to the style I taught back in Orlando. We started with a warm-up in the center that involved a light set of dumbbells (my shoulders died), then completed a series of cardio, arm and core strengthening exercises.

I don’t think my arms were quite ready for the warm-up series. Even though my weights were only 3 pounds each, they seemed heavy after a few minutes time and I eventually set them on the floor and finished without any weight at all. Eh, you live and you learn!

We spent the rest of the class at the barre and went through the standard set-up of thigh, leg, and seat exercises. Everything gave me a challenge with the encouragement of trying to balance without using my hands and had the advanced option of adding a relevé.

There was a continuous music track of different upbeat songs playing at all times which kept us moving quickly from exercise to exercise. I barely stopped for water breaks!

In my opinion, the majority of the class is spent sculpting the limbs: arms and legs. If you do the exercises with correct form, however, the majority of them can also work your core and some can tone the booty.

With ten minutes to go, I was wondering if we were going to get to abs. As soon as the thought crossed my mind, we killed the next five or so minutes using a yoga strap around the barre and finished with a series of bodyweight crunches, pulses, and plank holds.

The class came to a close with dimmed lights and a slow track to cool us down, which is always my favorite way to end a workout.

Xtend barre decoration

I ended up purchasing a 5-class package, but have a feeling I will be returning pretty frequently once my gym membership expires again. I look forward to trying out the different styles of barre fusions and definitely want to make it back for their jazz choreography class.

I loved the ambiance of the studio!


I decided to take the early class so that my best friend, Alex, could take it with me before work. She also loved it and joined me for a quick recovery breakfast at Starbucks afterwards.

starbucks chi tea latte and spinach feta wrap

I mixed it up this time with a non-fat Chai Tea Latte, but got the same old (but tasty!) spinach feta egg white wrap for substance.

Giveaway Winner

Thank you to all of my fellow mid-westerners who entered in the $100 Meijer gift card giveaway!

Congratulations to…

Entry #267 : Chelsey Jones. You won by tweeting about the giveaway!

You have been emailed and will need to respond within the next 48 hours in order to claim your prize.


I’m currently blogging from the coffee shop and plan on spending the next couple of hours glued to my chair to study. I tend to focus much better here than at home with the every day distractions from the pets and such.

Pug pumpkin spice latte

Ha! I couldn’t resist sharing this guy a friend sent me last night. Too cute!

I hope that you have a great start to the day. See you later on this afternoon!

Question of the Morning

• Are you more of a coffee or tea person?

I will always be a coffee person through and through, but that mostly applies in the mornings. If I am looking for a pick-me-up or even just a hot beverage to sip on in the afternoons, I usually gravitate towards hot herbal tea or a chai tea latte instead. I love it all!

September 15, 2014

Half-Marathon Training: Week 1

I wasn’t sure if I was going to share a breakdown of how my half-marathon training weeks are going this time around. After a handful of email requests to cover more about my training, I decided to bring them back!

To be honest, knowing I am going to do so really helps me to stay on track. At this point, I don’t plan on skipping any training days and include all of my workouts and rest days, along with my post-run and post-workout meals.

Please keep in mind that this is a six week half-marathon training plan I came up with on my own, specifically catered to what works best for me. Feel free to take a look in the archives for my first half-marathon training plan (you will find the section under the Fitness Page) that lasted a duration of ten weeks if you are looking for something closer to a beginner level.

Here’s how it all went down!

Half-Marathon Training: Week 1 Recap

The plan…

6 week half marathon training plan

What I did (Week 1: September 8 – 14, 2014)

• Monday –  3 miles

I kicked off my half training with Alex! I already mentioned it this morning, but she is also racing with me for the Hope Water Project and runs about the same pace as me.

post run half marathon training

Her adorable pup, Macy, is twelve years old, so we dropped her off after a short walk and continued onto our run with Roadie. It was an easy, breezy first run around my neighborhood!

Distance: 3 miles

Time: 30:00(ish) – didn’t stop my watch

Pace: 10:00 min./mile

Neither of us cared much about time this run. We crossed a few busy streets without pausing and had to stop several times for Roadie.


We both ate (filling) Chipotle chicken salads for lunch, so we kept our post-run meal on the lighter side with a couple of fruit and protein smoothies.

post-run smoothie

Pineapple, watermelon, strawberries, blueberries, frozen grapes, Vanilla Designer Whey protein powder, ice.

• Tuesday – strength training

Taking a break from the miles, I joined Scott in a trip to Fitness Pilates class Tuesday night. It was killer!

fitness pilates class and equipment


chicken and egg veggie salad

Romaine lettuce, spinach, carrots, tomatoes, red and green pepper, cucumbers, green olives, kalamata olives, a sliced hardboiled egg, feta cheese and rotisserie chicken drizzled in balsamic vinegar for dressing.

See a full list of Tuesday’s eats on last week’s WIAW.

• Wednesday – 4 miles (tempo run) 

This was my first time attempting a tempo run. Since the mileage wasn’t crazy high, I decided to break it up into a mile of slow/warm-up running, two miles of hard running, and finish with a mile of slow/cool-down running. I found a break between heavy rain clouds and did my best to dodge the puddles!

running in the rain

Distance: 4 miles

Time: 35:19

Pace: 8:49 min./mile

This average pace is very close to what I trained at last time. I hope to keep it under 9 minutes for most of my shorter training runs!


recovery pasta and friends

Gluten-free spaghetti noodles in marinara sauce with sweet Italian turkey sausage, mushrooms, and yellow and green peppers.

(With a glass of red wine with a side of Friends. Why not?)

• Thursday – barre class + 3 miles (easy pace)

Since this training day called for a slow run, I took advantage of it and wanted to try a new (to me) barre class at my gym that morning.

Life Barre class and eqiupment

It was definitely a challenge!

I originally planned to knock out my easy paced three miles after class, but my legs were too weak. I held off and took Roadie out for a run around the neighborhood later that afternoon. It was chilly enough to wear a sweatshirt, which I still can’t decide is a good or bad thing.

post fall run

Distance: 3 miles (easy pace)

Time: 30:56

Pace: 10:18 min./mile

I wasn’t expecting much out of this run. It was slow and steady. I’m assuming the point is to actively recover from the harder runs while upping my weekly mileage!



turkey italian sausage and gluten free pasta

(same pasta that is pictured above!)

• Friday – REST

Friday was a much needed rest day for the muscles. I spent a lot of our down time at an event I worked in the back stretching, massaging my legs, then foam rolling when I got home. Hey… you gotta do what you gotta do!

• Saturday – REST

Instead of completing my long training run for the week on Saturday, I pushed it back a day and enjoyed an easy two mile sunset walk around the neighborhood with Roadie.

PUMA casual sneakers and pants on walk

The weather was glorious and it was just what I needed to unwind.

• Sunday – 7 miles

I included the details about this run in this morning’s post. Alex and I decided to run together and she took me down to the Paint Creek Trail. It was filled with gorgeous views and perfectly cool running weather!

running near rock graffiti

Distance: 7 miles

Time: 1:09:39

Pace: 9:57 min./mile

Neither one of us are used to running longer than 6 miles at a time. In fact, this was Alex’s first time attempting it! I was so proud of her for powering through, and we pushed each other to keep going the entire time. I was very happy with how the run went, but I’m hoping to include at least a mile of faster running next time.


A grande non-fat cinnamon dolce cappuccino (<- thanks for getting me hooked on those, Julie!) while grocery shopping, several handfuls of corn tortilla chips with homemade guacamole, and chicken fajitas.

healthy chicken fajitas

It was all so delicious!

Week 1 Thoughts

I am not training as “hard core” as I did the first time. I have confidence in my training plan and know that if I keep up with it and don’t miss any training days that I will be just fine come race time.

Since I am running with friends, I am not as worried about my time and have an overall goal of finishing the race. If I happen to cross the finish line anywhere close to the 2 hour mark, I will be thrilled!


After running around like a mad woman most of the morning and taking care of some adult responsibilities this afternoon, I’m excited to get back outdoors with the pup and knock out the first training day of Week 2 as soon as I sign off. See ya back in the morning!

Questions of the Afternoon

• Have you ever trained for a long distance race?

• If you have done more than one at the same distance, how similar was your training the second or third time around?

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I am not a registered dietician, nutritionist, or certified fitness professional. The workouts I post are what work best for me, but might not be the right type of exercises for you.

I do NOT post everything I eat. All content I post on this blog stems from my personal experience and knowledge, and I recommend consulting a doctor or health professional before making changes to your diet or fitness routine.

Also, please understand that affiliate links may pop up on the blog from time to time. I acknowledge when they appear and always genuinely appreciate your support! ♥

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