Vacations/Trips

The Tarts Take Manhattan

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I have been so busy that I haven’t had a ton of time to update, which is good and bad. I often find posting in here a cathartic experience and one that forces me to stop for a few moments during the week and think – about what has caught my attention during the week, what is spinning around in my head – and document it for lack of a better word. So, it’s been well over a week with no entry – and I feel the guilt creeping up.

NY Tartan Week 2016

Rumor has it that I do have some Scottish genes from my fraternal grandmother, but in all honesty, no one would ever mistake me for being Scottish. That didn’t stop me and 10 of my Outlander friends from traveling to the Big Apple to celebrate the yearly New York Tartan Week yearly event, including marching in the parade down 6th Ave.  We had been planning this girls trip (dubbed Tartcon 2016) for more than six months as a way to get together beyond online. We had no idea that the leading actor Sam Heughan would be the Grand Marshall of the parade and cause thousands of other Outlander fans to drop everything and head to NYC too.

Here’s a photo gallery of Sam, leading the parade in all his handsome, dreamy glory – kilt and all.

AOL Build Event: OutlanderSeeing the Outlander Stars

As part of Tartcon, we were able to see the OL cast at the Apple store in SoHo (although I was too short to really see anything).  The following day, Scotty was able to pull a few strings and get two front row seats reserved for me and my friend Mandy to watch Outlander Cast: AOL Build Interview.  I was able to fan-girl for a few short minutes and then it was over. Mr Heughan did make eye contact briefly (I quickly got flustered and looked away) and shook my hand (which was soft but a bit on the cool side). Then – it was over. I never saw Mr Heughan in person again. Sigh…

New York Tartan Day Parade

On Sunday, we were able to march in the parade as part of the Outlanders United group. Normally this would be fun, but it was cold and rainy. Most of the marchers were not prepared for the weather, including me. I did have a hat and jacket on but boy, my hands were frozen by the end. Not to mention, something had upset my stomach big time so I was struggling to finish the parade, so I could run off to find the nearest restroom (TMI).

Tartan Day Parade 2016

There is something really endearing about the parade tradition. People gathering together, for a common cause/theme. It’s a very old fashioned tradition and even though it was rainy and cold, the energy surrounding the event was palpable. There were doggies wearing special tartan sweaters, bag pipes, traditional Scottish gear, lots of kilts and of course WHISKEY!

After the parade, was the after party at Papillion Bistro. I wasn’t feeling 100% and I looked like a drowned rat – so I wasn’t in the most festive, partying mood. Despite that, I made the best of it and spent the next few hours with some lovely, amazing friends and some serious Scottish lovers drinking lots and lots of water. (Well – I was drinking the water anyway).

After the party, we walked over to the Director’s Guild to watch a special screening of Episode 1 of the Second season of Outlander. Well, that was the plan anyway. One of my friends, Kathy and I were so cold and over it all, we decided to pre-order pizza (Johns Pizza) and leave the screening early to pick it up and enjoy some carbs, water and down time in our hotel room.  Think about the constant activity and noise I was being barraged with the past few days – I needed some down time. Living in the suburbs is not good training for being in a big city. You tend to forgot how loud and always on the go it is. It’s not a bad thing, just not something I am used to.

There were a ton of other activities and moments I shared with my amazing group of friends this weekend. Imagine 11 of us (some just meeting in person for the first time), all hanging out for 4 days together. There was fun, good food, Whiskey, great memories and a lot of support. There were also a lot of strong personalities in one group, but we all got along amazingly well.  This was the sort of trip we needed -getting away from our lives for a few days. Our wonderful lives that are full of husbands, kids, jobs, real life responsibility and enjoyed each other’s company with love, laughter and support. Each of the women on the trip has a story and personal experiences. After this weekend, I think we all found something magical and powerful in one another and combined.  And after it was all said and done, we ended up adding two new Tarts to the group as well.

 

Comic Con New York 2015: 10 Lessons Learned

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XFiles Panel - Comic Con New York 2015Comic Con New York 2015 was my first foray into the fandom and cosplay world. It was unlike anything I have experienced before, so after talking with a few of the ladies who attended Comic Con New York with me, I compiled a list of lessons learned…to help others who may be on the fence about what to expect…

Research, research, research

Days if not weeks before, start researching to prepare to get the most of your Comic Con experience. You are going to want to look into the following:

  • 1. Panels and main stage events you may want to attend
  • 2. Special Comic Con exclusive items that you may want to purchase.
    For example, Funko Pop offered Comic Con exclusive figures that were sold to only those who waited in line for a wrist band and were sold out as soon as they were available.
  • 3. Comic Con related events and meet ups that happen off site and in the evening
    We attended a Comic Con meet-up on Friday and a related party on Saturday and both offered free drinks!

Comic Con New York 2015Expect Huge Crowds and Plan Accordingly

I was taken aback by the enormity of the crowds. 150K people all taking up space within Jacob Javits, which is huge to begin with.  Many people are in costumes and you will get super up close and personal with cosplayers from all facets of the community.

Get There Before It Opens 

If you want to get a wristband for a panel, or one for the Funko exclusives, you will have to prepare to get up early and wait in a long, long line. And for the record, that still does not guarantee you will get one for the event you want!  Also, getting there early means you don’t have to wade through the mad rush of people trying to get in at the same time. Although, it does move quickly, the line is still enormous and crazy. We got there around 915A on Saturday and didn’t wait to get in the doors to get in the X-Files queue. However, on Sunday, we headed out after 10A, and apparently everyone else had the same plans.

Taking a Pee

From a woman’s perspective, if you see a restroom with no line, GO! The lines for the restrooms were forever present and slow….

Wear Comfortable Shoes

Wear comfy shoes that match your costume if at all possible. You will be walking and on your feet for most of the day. Trust me on this one — the last thing you want to deal with are aching feet.

Plan for Downtime

The crowds, the costumes, the enormous show floor with products and displays, the screaming kids, the constant barrage of people stopping to admire costumes, snapping pics and selfies. It’s sensory overload. You don’t have to spend all of your hours at the Jacob Javits Center. There are a bunch of other Con related events being held around the city and of course, touristy things are everywhere! You won’t be able to see it all even after being there for days -so don’t even try. Do your research and create a flexible plan that allows for it.

Be Nice to Booth and other Comic Con Related Workers 

You should always be nice in general but sometimes, you will click with someone at a booth or in security and it can work in your favor. My friend struck up a conversation with a guy at the Walking Dead booth, and he gave her a special wrist band to actually meet the Walking Dead author!

Bring Certain Things With You

Bring a backpack or bag that you don’t mind carrying around with you to hold stuff you buy and freebies, a refillable water bottle, and snacks.

Don’t wait until the last day to buy a Comic Con t-shirt

They have some really cool NY Comic Con t-shirts but most were sold out when I finally got around to buy one on Sunday.

Comic Con NY 2015Have Fun

It’s a crazy, crowded place! Make sure you go with fun people who can go with the flow. It’s quite an experience and not one you will forget anytime soon.

 

Obesity at Disney: A Snapshot of Our World

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It was changeconfront6 years ago, during my last trip to Disney,  I started to get my ass in gear and began taking care of myself. Having just gotten back a few days ago from my family’s latest trip there, it became clear to me how many people in the world need to do the same.

Before I go off on a rant about my observations, I want to preface it with the following: Everyone, no matter who they are, what size they are, where they come from, how much money they make, deserves to be treated with kindness and respect.

It seemed to me that something like 80% of the visitors to Disney were overweight. Every park, every hotel; There was an exorbitant amount of seriously obese people everywhere I went. And 9 out of 10 people who were using scooters, were obese.

I guess I live somewhat of a sheltered life in that my social circles – it’s not the norm. Don’t get me wrong – there are plenty of people who could stand to lose some weight and/or get moving but that’s not what I am talking about. The shock was how many out of control obese people were there.  Before someone points out that it’s an economic thing – these were people visiting Disney! It’s not exactly the definition of affordable.

There are a few things that upset me about seeing this microcosm of our world:

  1. For a majority of the morbidly obese, something in their lives is out of control. It’s not about the food, it’s about what’s going on in their head. To see how many people are so out of control in their lives was shocking.
  2. I understand that everyone has a story and you can’t tell what’s going on in someone else’s world by looking, but it appeared that many of them seem resigned to accept their circumstances. They are obese, it is what it is and they ‘live’ with it. They eat the processed, crap, junk food as if that’s how you should eat.
  3. To add on to my second point above, renting scooters instead of walking isn’t going to help anyone’s situation. I pointed out to my daughter that the average human skeleton isn’t designed to carry a ton of extra weight. It’s hard on the knees, feet – joints in general so I understand the reasons for renting a scooter but there were so many of them in the parks during my visit. So many of the obese people I saw were also in scooters.
  4. They are passing bad habits on to their children. Obviously, being at Disney, there are a ton of parents. It was clear that children are growing up learning their parents’ bad habits. Many of the obese adults I saw had children who were also dealing with their own obesity issues.
  5. While everyone is free to live the way they want, it’s a fact that obesity costs everyone. “The estimated annual health care costs of obesity-related illness are a staggering $190.2 billion or nearly 21% of annual medical spending in the United States. Childhood obesity alone is responsible for $14 billion in direct medical costs.”  PhitAmerica compiled 10 Flabbergasting Costs of America’s Obesity Epidemic that really highlights how obesity isn’t just a personal issue.

While I am totally for splurging while on vacation and Disney is a great place to do that – it is possible to eat healthy there…

The resort we stayed at Port Orleans: French Quarter had a fridge that had containers of fresh fruit and veggies available during all hours in their restaurant. I also noticed that each ‘quick snack’ store also had some options available. Also, if you have any special dietary needs, you simply ask for the Chef. The Chef will come out to discuss your needs and try his/her best to accommodate what you need. We tested it each and every morning with my son’s gluten allergy. I also brought some single serve Justin’s Almond Butter with me so I could dip fresh apples or celery in it for a quick, healthy breakfast or snack during the trip.

So, what’s my point? It was shock to me to see how many people are so out of control in their lives that they let themselves go to that extent. It was shocking, sad and made me angry too. We all have to take personal responsibility for who we are in this world.

Is the obesity epidemic caused by lack of education? is it because of economics?  Is it generational? Yes, yes and yes but does that make it right? No.

We need to participate in the discussion and come up with innovative, strong ways to address it – together.

Disney Vacation: The Great Experiences

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Live Fit and Sore - Family Disney Vacation 2014I’m back from my vacation spent at the Happiest Place on Earth. I wonder if anyone really thinks that’s true?

For my first post back, here are some great things about the six days I spent there:

  1. Family Time: Life at home is so busy that it’s hard to find dedicated time to spend as a family.
  2. One on One Time With The Kids: Was able to spend alone time with both of my kids. I get to see different aspects of their personalities when they don’t have to hang out with one another. I get to really know them as individuals.
  3. Witnessing My Kids Mature: My son has always been hesitant to try roller coasters. After a few false starts (Space Mountain), he finally mustered enough courage to try one (Big Thunder Mountain) during the trip and discovered it was fun. I was thankful that I was able to witness seeing him gain the confidence to give it a try and then realize it wasn’t as bad as he thought.

My daughter became smitten with a young boy on one of our bus rides back to our hotel. During the ride, she started to get mad at her dad when he was telling her something because she felt that it was embarrassing her in front of him. He didn’t have a clue until I looked at the boy and then looked at her – the light bulb finally went off and he got it.

  1. The Magic of Family: Time and time again, I was able to catch moments of love between families. Brothers laughing and hugging on our bus ride back to the hotel, parents kissing their little baby, a Mom putting her arm around her teen son as they waited for a bus to arrive, a Grandma guiding her toddler grandson to the restroom. Family reunions, friends, newlyweds – they were all represented during our trip.
  2. The Adrenaline Rush: Riding rollercoasters and other attractions definitely kicks up your adrenaline stores which is a good thing.
  3. The Weather: For most of the trip, it was sunny with a nice breeze. One day it was chilly but nothing some gloves and a hat couldn’t fix.
  4. The Magic of Disney: Witnessing young kids discovering the joy and wonderment of the Disney experience never gets old. They believe in what they are seeing and it shows on their faces –whether it’s excitement or a little bit of fear; they believe.
  5. Witnessing Exceptional Customer Service: Disney has the art of treating people like they matter down to a science. It definitely makes a difference.

10369104_10152473889038741_4518229548575490169_n Live Fit and Sore - Family Disney Vacation 2014

Live Fit and Sore - Family Disney Vacation 2014

Fourth of July: Family Roadtrip to Williamsburg

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Nate Dogg HoaglundScott planned a last minute family road trip to Williamsburg to celebrate the Fourth of July. Fireworks watching in Colonial Williamsburg – what could be more appropriate? The hurricane brought cooler temps which made it a perfect weekend for site seeing and spending time outdoors. We spent our last day at Busch Gardens Theme park. Anyone who knows me well, knows I am not a huge fan of parks like that. It’s too crowded, people forget their manners and to me, it’s the biggest display of gluttony on Earth. We managed to find a place in the Ireland section that had healthy salads, which is what I ate for lunch but I was probably one of the few in the entire park that actually chose the healthy option. Every time I go somewhere toursity, it’s a shocking reminder how obese and out of control people are. It makes me angry and sad at the same time. I see obese parents raising kids who are already battling obesity. They will have a harder battle to fight as they grow up already dealing with it.

Obesity is such a serious health issue. I found some Shocking Facts Behind Obesity Infographic that will surely open your eyes to how it affects all of us! Whenever I hear about accepting our bodies – I want to clarify it to be more about kindness, respect and worth. Being overweight affects your health and for your benefit and others – that’s not OK!

Steph Hoaglund & HB

As we are in full summer mode, many of us will be exercising and/or attending events to benefit worthy causes. I’m all for giving back, but you have to do your research before you just give. You need to make sure the money you are donating is really going towards the causes you wish to support. We all found out the hard way about the Susan G Komen organization and the millions of dollars going to pay salaries and not helping find a cure for breast cancer. With that in mind, I came across information about the Wounded Warrior Project: Wounded Warriors Project A Legal Scam. If you do support this organization, I ask that you inform yourself on how they operate. Based on this report, they definitely have some inflated salaries and other sketchy operational cost which ultimately means less of the money donated goes to the wounded vets they serve.

Read This

Kindness Matters

Woman Pays For Young Mom’s Diaper Bill, Shows Us What Kindness Is All About

Be Inspired

Being Human Quote

Workout

Sunday: Power Boxing
Monday: Power Boxing

Success: The Difference You Make In People’s Lives

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San Fran ViewI got back from San Fran a few days ago and am still processing and decompressing all the experiences HB and I had on our SF trip. Of course there was mostly family time which is what’s important. My two little 3 month old nieces are just the cutest, sweetest babies in the world. I was in heaven holding them, helping feed them and just being around them as each day brought new discoveries of life. And babies smell so sweet — It was very hard to leave because I know the next time I see either of them, they will have grown and no longer be these little bundles of wonder. I loved seeing them interact with HB as well – helping foster a connection between them is really important to me and it was something that I missed out on growing up. Amelia, my three year old niece, was in awe of HB and followed her around like a groupie. It was so awesome…

The weather was amazing for walking all over San Fran -which in truth is one of my favorite things to do. I just love taking in the sights. Every where you look is like a postcard, at least near the marina.  I think on Monday alone, we walked over 9+ miles and although my feet were aching, I didn’t mind a bit. We went down to the Ferry building, picked up some Blue Bottle Coffee – If you get a chance to try their coffee, DO. They roast their own beans and seriously, it’s the best. Then we walked down Market street to do some shopping and then walked all the way to the Wharf to enjoy some Ghiradeli ice cream and then walked on home.

During our trip we also went to Chinatown, into Oakland to attend a BBQ, shopped at Fort Mason Farmer’s Market, and just hung out. It was a perfect little get away for HB and I — no stress, great family, babies and awesome surroundings.  I feel re-energized and ready to move forward…

I worked out on Weds morning and then yesterday, went to a Flow Yoga class – which is kicking my ass. Holy cow is yoga tough. I can already feel progress in my shoulders and overall flexibility and my body doesn’t hurt as much during regular CrossFit – so those are all wins in my book.

HB in San Fran

Read This

Be Inspired

make a difference

Be Happy

The quote above really applies to someone like Pharrell – he’s making a difference in people’s lives. Watch the video below and you will see how awesome he is. It seems to me that many people who make it in their field of choice lose that perspective of appreciation. To see someone as talented and famous as he is right now really understand the impact he can have is refreshing and touching.

Workout

  • Back Squats
  • Pushups/Pull ups

WOD

  • 3m Ladder
  • db lunges
  • db renegade rows
  • –1 min rest–
  • 5m Ladder
  • slam balls
  • crab walks
  • –1 min rest–
  • 3m Ladder
  • db lunges
  • db renegade rows

I Left My Heart in San Francisco

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I am still playing catch up from the last few weeks — work has kept me busy and then my five day girl’s trip to San Fran, which just ended yesterday.  I love having a daughter and being able to take her on a few special trips — just her and I traveling. She is one of the easiest travel companions except her propensity towards being very emotional. I always forget how the last day of our trip goes when we are visiting family.  She gets really sad and upset, cries about how we don’t live near our family. It’s cute and sad at the same time. I love that I can give her some special memories and I do wish we lived closer –but the reality of living somewhere usually doesn’t live up to the vacation dream.

My brothers are busy guys, have their own lives with their own families. Sometimes I feel like we are intruding on them when we visit. It’s nothing they do intentionally –both of their wives, my beautiful sister in laws do more than their share of accommodating us and making us feel welcome.  And then there is my niece, Amelia — a two and half year old fire cracker.  She has quite the personality and isn’t shy to let you know how she feels about you. I forgot what having that age of a toddler around is like – i love it and am glad my kids are over it at the same time. The joy little kiddos see at that age is amazing — everything is new and their favorite thing to ask is What’s That?

And have I mentioned how much I love, love, love San Francisco? The people, the atmosphere, the scenery, the lifestyle –everyone is outside, active –enjoying a great way of life. Or at least that is how it appears.

I stopped by CrossFit San Francisco for a bit –talk about an amazing place. It’s all outdoors and they have this

amazing view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

All in all it was a fantastic trip –I’m tired but it was worth it. Family is so important and it can be hard to continue to be connected but it’s so important not only for us, but our kiddos too.

I got up and headed out for my workout this AM:

warmup
Drills
Pass Thrus
Squats

Skill
Snatch Balance

WOD
10min AMRAP

  • 8 Snatch (kb alternating)
  • 12 squats
  • 8 Sit ups

total: 9+15  

Oh and as for staying on point with healthy eating –yeah, didn’t happen so much on my trip. I had gluten free pizza, some ice cream from Ghiradelli and Swensons, broccoli and rice from R&G Lounge,  Saki, egg drop soup — i feel yucky if I am being honest. My pants are tight, I feel sluggish and my workout this AM was not my best performance. The key for me is how well I re-adjust to being at home and going back to my normal, healthier eating style.  I don’t like this feeling….

Planning is Key When Traveling

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Yum! Creme Brulee

Planning is Key When Trying to Stay Paleo When Traveling

Now that I am more recovered from my trip there are a few things I wanted to share from the overall experience with regard to eating well and health and fitness. First off, it’s Vegas and we all know the Vegas of the strip and business travel is not the day to day Vegas that the residents experience and it’s not tailored to health and wellness. It’s about debauchery and mischief. They pay people to ensure that the engagement tactics, sights, smells, food, entertainment all point people to those two things. So it’s tough to stay on the straight and narrow when you are there. I witnessed first hand how difficult it can be —

The hotel our company meeting was at was a bare bones suite hotel off the strip. It had no hotel restaurant and no other eateries nearby and we were asked to not rent cars because of the shuttle service that the hotel offered. So there I was: no car, no restaurant – nada, zip.  I did bring some general snacks with me -Larabars, some packets of Justin’s Almond butter, and an apple and I found some gluten free oatmeal for my son a while back and grabbed a few packets to bring just in case. Well I am glad I did and you will see why shortly —

I got in around noon Monday and thought the hotel would have a restaurant – nope. So the hotel shuttle was there and kind enough to bring me to a Whole Foods nearby, where I created a salad from their salad bar and picked up a few other things for snacks in case I needed them and grabbed a few bananas for good measure.

In the morning – I went down for breakfast and they had NOTHING Paleo to eat. No FRESH food at all. They had eggs from the carton which has gluten and who knows what else, hash browns, muffins, waffles, bagels, yogurt, oatmeal and a bowl of fruit that was sitting in water that led me to assume it was frozen fruit –which I can’t stand. The idea of fruit sitting in water just makes it so unappealing.  What’s a Paleo eating girl to do? I took out that gluten free oatmeal, ripped open the packet of almond butter and stirred it right in there. So while not Paleo, it was as close as I was going to get in this place.  I also ate the banana I had bought and called it breakfast. I do have to give props for the coffee — it was really good coffee!  Coach Jerry said to me this AM: You embraced the true Paleo spirit and foraged for food!  It’s all about Planning!!

When I got to the meeting there were gift bags on each of our chairs. Inside was a bunch of SWAG, including a granola bar. The meeting coordinator was very thoughtful and came up to me and said I know you don’t eat that so I brought some fruit roll ups for you –they are gluten free. I almost spit my coffee out — as nice as that was, the thinking that a fruit roll up was even remotely an alternative for me was so indicative of the problem with overall nutrition today. I politely explained that I don’t eat that stuff, she said but it’s made with real fruit juice and I added — and high fructose corn syrup. I thanked her for her thoughtful-ness but declined the substitute. Again, i really did appreciate that she was trying to accommodate me but it was definitely another reminder of how off base many are about nutrition.

Then I found out that lunch was from Panera: sandwiches and salad with lots of cheese, croutons and dressing. I talked with the meeting coordinator and called the Panera and explained my situation. They were the nicest people and created a special salad for me with grilled chicken. Stamped my name on the box and delivered it with the rest of the order!

I did have quite a few people mention how hard it must be to eat the way I do –and I am so used to hearing that now that I just say, it’s really not – just takes planning and I feel great. Not sure they really believe me because I heard more than once how crazy people think I am about my fitness and health focus. Crazy, Focused, Committed, Addicted – call it what you want. Our bodies are designed to move and fueling it with quality food can’t be wrong.

Shots, Shots, ShotsOn that note — I wasn’t a complete angel in Vegas. I had some drinks, had some creme brulee and mashed potatos but the point is -I’m home now and am getting right back on track with my goals.

It’s been four full days of rest days — and I got back at it this AM. Sometimes really letting your body rest and recover can make all the difference in making big gains in your overall progress.

warmup

  • 600m jog
  • bear crawl
  • inchworms
  • high knees
  • sprints
  • 10 handstands holds
  • DROM

Skill
KB Snatch

WOD

  • 10 burpees
  • 20 squats
  • 30 KB Snatch
  • 40 KB Swings
  • 50 walking lunges
  • 40 KB Swings
  • 30 KB Snatch
  • 20 Squats
  • 10 burpees

time: 14:50 (did 25# Snatch, 35# Swings)

So was the break worth it?  I felt like I was going to puke around the 2nd KB swings round and started to get a cramp, but yes it was worth it. It always is!

Vegas makes you all fuzzy

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Still catching up from my quick trip to Las Vegas. Had some fun, had some long meetings, met some cool people! And except for some special dinners a few drinks — well ok, then didn’t stay Paleo.

Living Large in Las Vegas

City of Steel

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I’m in Pittsburgh with my Mom and the kids. She grew up here and we are visiting her Aunt and Uncle and just spending a few days of touristing around. It’s a pretty cool city!

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