Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Day: 10 Things I'm Grateful For

Every Thanksgiving people everywhere plan their day around food, and more recently shopping (shame on the stores that are open on thanksgiving night ... It's called Black Friday for a reason). Sometimes we forget what it's really about... Spending time with those we love and expressing our gratitude for everything that we have, not just objects, but our health and family too. Instead of circling what we want in magazines, we should be writing down each and everything we are thankful for. We shouldn't just do this one day a year, but it's better than not doing it at all.

This year has been one filled with such wonderful opportunities, some obstacles, and struggles that has made it difficult to see the positive. 

10 Things I'm Grateful For in 2014

1. My family who have supported me through the year, and who have stuck by my side and believed in my dreams.

2. My boyfriend Sal who has loved me unconditionally no matter how crazy I am, and who has boosted my confidence farther than I ever thought it would go.

3. My friends for always making me laugh, the endless talks about life, and fitting me into their busy schedules. 

4. My health and immune system for staying strong while working in the hospital, among illnesses and colds. 

5. The opportunity to train others at CKO Kickboxing, and for establishing myself as a fitness professional and personal trainer

6. To have a full time job I love, as a child life specialist, in a children's hospital, and to be able to help children and their families cope with the hospital experience. 

7. The warm, comfy seat next to the fireplace in my house. I've never once taken having a roof over my head for granted. 

8. For finding my voice and the confidence that has always been inside of me. 

9. The ability to capture life in all of its glory and document it with words on my blog & pictures in a scrapbook.

10. Time

This year was different than most. My brother's away at medical school, so being that we didn't want him to be alone on his first holiday away, my dad and uncle went to spend it with him. Therefore, it was just my mom and I at home alone. Before we ate though, I headed off to CKO kickboxing to take a 75 minute challenge class, where they collected food for a local drop off. I haven't taken a challenge class in a long time, and it was tough, but I didn't stop. I kept pushing myself, farther than what I thought my limits were, especially because there were cameras all around. Sal and his friend were filming us for a commercial for the kickboxing gym. What better way to start your day off than by sweating! It felt amazing walking out as the snow was falling. 

 I came home, downed my protein shake, and showered. I gathered a blanket, a new book, and a bottle of water on the couch. My mom lit the fire, and shortly after she started heating up the food. 

We weren't going to have a traditional turkey dinner with turkey, ham, and mashed potatoes... Nope, my mom made baked mac and cheese, garlic chicken with asparagus, stuffed peppers, croissants, and butternut squash soup. We popped open wine bottles and started eating. Soup and croissants to start, and then we brought out the delicious food that was now steaming, breathing in the smells of a good meal to come. 

It was perfect, and I wouldn't have had it any other way, okay maybe with my brother and dad, but being what it was, we had a great, relaxing day. We spent it eating, drinking wine, and watching comedies (and Friends)! What better way to spend your day off! You won't catch me Black Friday shopping this year, though I've done so in the past, instead I'll be working and enjoying the night out with friends. Because life is all about the relationships we make, and the lives we touch, not the material things for sale in the store. Enjoy the day with your families, and have a blessed thanksgiving day. 

So tell me, what are you grateful for? 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

I am NOT a Runner

Sal and I started running about two years ago, in 2012. We signed up for our first 5K turkey trot, and decided to train by using the C25K app on our phones. It would train us for a few weeks, and leave us ready to run the 5K on our own. Thankfully, we were able to do most of our running during the end of summer, and fall. The weather wasn't too bad, and we were able to get through our runs week after week. I struggled in the beginning, and had cramps that seemed to be so excruciating that I had to stop. I even tried wrapping up my ribs, but it didn't help. I slowed my pace down, and eventually moved past it. The running became easier and easier, so that by the time our 5K arrived, we were both ready at the start line. Sal even left me in the dust, waiting for me at the finish line. It was extremely cold on Thanksgiving day that year, and being that the race was around the lake, it made it even colder. However, we made it through, and we continued to run while we could - whether it was outside or on the treadmill inside. We are not the kind of people that would run in the rain or snow though.

When the weather was nicer again, as winter started to fade and spring came, we started running again. We didn't run every day, but we ran when we could. However, that year Sal was having terrible pain in his legs while running, and after a trip to the doctor, found out he may have been having compartment syndrome and had to stop running. The constant impact on his heels/legs/knees was not good for someone who originally had knee problems. I'm not going to lie, I loved having him as my running partner, and I loved being able to push our limits together, but I did not want him to continue and further injure himself. We would just have to find something else that worked for the two of us to do together to stay fit. Just because he stopped, didn't mean I did, I kept up with my runs, but they were few and far in between. I ran several 5Ks, and many fun runs, including the Foam Fest, Dirty Girl Mud Run, and Color Run. I also ran that very same turkey trot we had signed up for just a year before, but this time I was on my own. It was more difficult to get through, even though I knew Sal was waiting at the finish line. It was bitter cold, and I pushed myself hard to get done sooner.

That same November 2013, I had Sal try out a kickboxing class at CKO Kickboxing. He was hesitant at first, because he didn't think it was for him. It had assumptions in his head that only women did it, and that it wasn't going to be hard. Little did he know... He tired out the class, and absolutely loved it. Before I knew it we were signing both of us up for a membership. My mom had purchased a gym membership for me for Christmas, so I was still able to run on the treadmill during the winter, but I found myself running less and less. This past summer I completed 3 5Ks, again, and one in the fall, most of them without training for the run, specifically by running. I signed up for the turkey trot again, this year, but about two weeks ago, I decided I wasn't going to run it. Yes, I know I realize I already paid for it, and I will be losing out on the money, but it was as if I was hit in the head, and a thought just popped up - I'm not a runner. I repeat, I'm NOT a runner.

When I first started running, I did consider myself a runner, no matter how slow I went, I was running, so that made me a runner, at least in my head. But if I'm being completely honest with myself, now, I don't enjoy running all the time. I like getting out there breathing in the fresh air, blasting my playlist, and seeing how far I can push myself, but it's never more than 3.1 miles, and I also do not enjoy running in the cold, rain, or snow. I hate that feeling of my lungs freezing when I breathe in the cold air, and I feel as if I'm suffocating. I hate when those cramps come out of nowhere, and I just want to stop. I hate pumping myself up and forcing myself out the door when I just don't feel like running. I'd much rather go to a CKO Kickboxing class, or any group exercise class for that matter ... okay, maybe not Zumba, but any other, than go out and run. Sure, intervals are great on the treadmill, and alternating the height it also great to work that butt, but just pure straight running, nope not a huge fan. Guess what? That's OKAY in my book! I'll continue to do fun runs and obstacle course runs because I love those, and it's not straight running, as for regular runs, you won't catch me signing up for one, at least not any time soon.

You have to find an exercise you enjoy, even if that means you don't follow what everyone else likes... even if that means you have to do it on your own. If you don't enjoy a workout, don't do it. It's only going to make you hate working out, and then you'll stop, and figure that you're better off sitting on the couch watching TV. Try different things out, but don't keep taking a class, running, or lifting weights if it's not your thing.

Find your thing. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I'm a...


Remember when I became certified to be a personal trainer? Well, when I got home from passing the exam, Sal immediately told me to contact my kickboxing trainer at CKO. I've known him for years, first as their childcare provider, then as a kickboxing member, so it would have been easy for me to pick up the phone and give him a call. However, word travels fast, and he found out that I become a CPT, and asked if I was interested in becoming a kickboxing trainer. Truth is, it had been on my mind since I signed up for the CPT course and certification. 

Over the years, I fell in love with kickboxing, well maybe not just fell in love with, but I became addicted and obsessed over the way I felt during class, and the soreness of my body the days that followed. I told him, yes that I was extremely interested in becoming a kickboxing trainer, and the following week I found myself on the way to becoming just that. We had a few weeks of tough training sessions, that usually followed a kickboxing class I had taken. So not only did I leave sore from my class, I left bruised up from training. I didn't mind though, I loved the marks that it left me - it made me feel stronger, and like I could do anything I set my mind to. I got my form down, tested out the moves with pads and on the bag, practiced on the mic, and eventually made my own class. Before training my own, I did a warm up for another trainer's class, and then half of that same class the next week. Of course it was nerve-racking at first, but when you have that mic on and people are looking to you for their next move, those nerves just disappear and Jillian Michael's takes over your body. 

My family and friends have been nothing short of supportive. I knew they all believed in me, but having them take one of my classes, or better yet, having them buy a Groupon to take more than one?! That's such an amazing feeling, and I am extremely grateful for them.

It's now been a month since I've started training at CKO, and I could not be more proud of where I am today. When I'm training, I am screaming out the moves, with motivation, and challenging my class to really give it their all. That feeling you get when someone thanks you for kicking their ass, or mentions what a tough workout that was, is truly indescribable. Sometimes, when I'm watching my class, I smile, not because they're all sweaty messes on the floor (okay maybe partly because of that), but because I'm doing what I set out to do months ago. I'm using my certification as a personal trainer, and I'm instilling passion for fitness and wellness in others, helping them become stronger and more confident in themselves.

Set goals for yourself, and conquer them. 
Don't worry about what anyone else has to say about it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Cellucor Review & Coupon Code!

Being a Fitfluential Ambassador, I'm able to test out products to review and share with my followers on all of my social media accounts, from my blog and Instagram, to my Get Fit with Kristyn Facebook page, and Twitter. I've been applying to many campaigns to review products and I was finally accepted two weeks ago. Cellucor sent me a few of their products - C4, Alpha Aminos, Super HD, and Whey protein powders - to sample and see what I thought of each of them. They also included a Vortex portable mixer that would take the drink shaking out of the equation.

C4 Extreme is basically powdered energy. It combines NO3 (Nitrate) technology with ingredients such as Creatine Nitrate that is to be taken as a pre-workout supplement, possessing the power to ignite your mind, muscles, and workout! It helps push you through that extra rep,  complete that last set, and get through the last ten minutes of your workout. It not only amplifies your energy and helps you focus, but it also tastes great, from flavors like icy blue razz, watermelon, and strawberry margarita.

Whey Protein [COR Performance Whey] makes it easy to meet your daily protein goals, packing 25 grams of pure whey protein per scoop with a wide variety of delicious flavors. It's tough to stick to a regimen of exercise and proper nutrition, but with the many flavors of whey protein, you will not get bored, and you'll be able to feel as if you're drinking dessert, from chocolate chip mint to chocolate marshmallow! It dissolves instantly in water, milk, or another beverage of your choice!

Super HD is a cutting edge stimulant thermogenic that combines ingredients that help promote fat loss, and potent nootropic compounds to deliver powerful energy and focus. It's a "feel good" weight loss product - yes, you will literally feel good while taking a weight loss product. It contains Rauwolfia, Amla Fruit and Yohimbe extract that delivers the most intense and high-powered energy blend on the market, and IFAS503, a novel compound comprised of three fatty acid synthase inhibitors aimed at reducing fat storage and promoting better appetite control.

Alpha Amino Sports Drink is the ultimate sports drink powder/BCAA product built with amazing flavors and a premium formula that fuels endurance, hydration, and recovery. This mix is naturally powered by Chia Seed Extract and Raw Coconut Concentrate, and is packed with heavy hitting nutrients. Chia Seed Extract contains eight essential amino acids, and a host of minerals and nutrients including omega-3s, iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium and fiber. Raw Coconut Concentrate's electrolytes and minerals, helps you stay hydrated on the field, in the gym and in daily life!

Here's What I Think

I was extremely excited when I received a huge box filled with Cellucor products, and I immediately wanted to share them so I could have a couple of reviews, instead of just my own. I had two packages of C4, four packages of whey protein (2 mint chocolate chip and 2 chocolate marshmallow), 1 tub of Alpha Aminos, and 1 tub of Super HD, as well as the Vortex mixer.

I tested out the Alpha Aminos during a CKO Kickboxing class that I took one morning. I often get dehydrated in class and have two water bottles with me at all times. During class I found myself getting thirsty and tired, and I took a sip of the Watermelon flavored water, and it was as if I sipped right from the watermelon. The sports drink not only kept me hydrated during the rest of class, but it tasted great. It didn't taste fake or too sweet, instead I found my thirst quenched and my tastebuds happy. I did need to switch from the Alpha Aminos to regular water because I never have sports drinks, or juice for that matter, so it was new for me to taste a drink with so much flavor. I ended up only drinking half, because that's all I needed to get me through the class. I would definitely recommend this to keep you hydrated during your long workouts, or on a really hot day when you find yourself wanting an ice cold glass of nutrients!

I also tried the whey protein. I've had protein powder before, but I've only ever had brown rice protein, specifically Perfect Fit Protein. I drink it in a shake right after a workout, or use it to make a protein pancake or protein cookies. It settles nicely in my stomach, and I haven't had any problems with it. So I was a little hesitant when I knew I'd be trying the whey protein, but I was up for it. I combined the mint chocolate chip whey protein with almond milk in the Vortex mixer, and was delighted when I smelled the shake. It smelled exactly like mint. And guess what it tasted like? Mint chocolate chip ice cream! I sipped that protein shake faster than any I've ever had before. However, an hour or two later my stomach felt all sorts of weird. It was an unsettling feeling, which I was told is how my stomach may react when it's never had whey protein before. The taste in itself makes me want to keep drinking it, even though it made my stomach feel funny. I know not everyone feels like this after whey protein, in fact, my brother who also tested out the protein loves it and would recommend it to anyone. He enjoyed the flavors as well.

The Vortex mixer was awesome; all it took was the press of a button, and in seconds my protein shake was ready for me to drink. Instead of me shaking, and shaking my protein shake, all I had to do was press the button and watch it spin around and around, mixing the protein in with the almond milk. It's quite and easy to use. To wash, you just take the bottom off and wash the cup. I use it now for all of my protein shakes, but it can also be used for pre-workout, eggs, cocktails, juice, baby formula, and energy drinks ... of course, not all at once. Check out the video below to see how easy it works! 

I gave two packs of protein powder to my brother, as well as a package of C4 Extreme. I gave Sal the other package of C4 Extreme and the Super HD tub. Yes, I gave away both C4 Extreme packages because I have a heart condition, and was nervous about what it would do to my heart, since I have heard pre-workout makes your heart race. I also gave Sal the only tub of Super HD because I am not looking to lose weight.

My brother has tried the C4 Extreme and protein powders before, and had nothing but good things to say about them. C4, according to him, "mixes easily, has a good taste, and definitely helps you get through your workout." He did mention that you get a "tingly feeling" because of the Beta-alanine in it, but he likes that though because he "know's it is working." He said the protein powders are great, as well, and did not mention any of the side affects that I experienced because he's used to having whey.

Sal also enjoyed the C4 Extreme, and does not workout anymore without taking it for that extra boost, that helps him power through his workout with every ounce of energy he has. He tried the Blue Razz flavor and thought it was great tasting, it dissolved easily, and was extremely easy to use - just drop a scoop in water and shake! He also had the Super HD fat burner, in the Peach Mango flavor, which tasted "REALLY good," according to Sal. It also mixed well after shaking. In the week since he's taken it, he has lost three pounds - we know the workouts that he's doing, as well as his healthy eating have also aided in the weight loss, but we can't help but think that the Super HD weight loss product has also pushed him over the weight loss edge.

Now that you've read a thorough review, and have heard great things about the Cellucor product line, I know that you'll want to give these products a try! I have a coupon code just for my followers, for 25% off! Go to Cellucor's website and type in CELLUCORFIT to enjoy 25% off of your order! 

Disclaimer: I received the following products through FitFluential and Celluclor in exchange for this post.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Halloween 2014 Recap

Was it just me or did it feel like Halloween lasted for about two weeks this year? Maybe it's because I went to a costume party a week before Halloween, or maybe it's because there's been candy in the store for about a month.

This year was fun nevertheless. Sal's friend, Jimmy, was planning on throwing a party the weekend before Halloween, being that he was in his new house, yes... you guessed it, the one by the lake. He had some of his friends decorate, got a bunch of drinks, and decided to order pizza and subs for everyone. It wasn't a requirement to dress up, but it just made it more fun. After work, Sal and I headed up there with my brother and his girlfriend, both were home from college. We were all dressed to perfection. Sal was Clark Kent, my brother was a doctor, and Michele was a football player. They were all cute costumes, most of which were put together with clothes they already had. For my costume, I decided to reuse an old costume. Sal and I buy a new costume every year and twice we had no where to go to wear them to... I know, sad story. Anyways, one year Sal and I bought Top Gun costumes; his being more of a flight suit, and mine a dress. I tried mine on, and it didn't fit my shoulders, which just shows you how much kickboxing has positively affected me, and how much muscle I've gained. So I decided to wear Sal's Top Gun flight suit, but I wasn't going to just be Maverick or Goose... oh no... I was going to be one of our friends, Mike, who is currently in Oklahoma in the Air Force. He wasn't going to be at the party, so I figured I'd be him! It turned out that one of our other friends decided to be Jimmy. The two, Jimmy and Mike, are best friends, so it was absolutely hysterical. We even had Jimmy's mom calling him upset that she didn't know Mike was home. I have to say that we were picture perfect. 

The night drifted on by as we kept the party alive - bonfire, beer, good friends, and music played by two awesome guitarists. 

We headed back home before it was too late for us grandmas and grandpas, because some people (like me) have to work on the weekend. When I was home, I felt as if Halloween was done and over with, and like another year had passed, but we still had a week until the real day!

I didn't have any plans for October 31st, and I had to work at the hospital all day, but it was so so worth it. The other Child Life Specialists and myself decided we wanted to dress up together, so we chose to be the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, even though there were only three of us. We bought the shirts, chose to wear black leggings, and I added long green socks, from my soccer days, and a purple tutu to match my mask. We wanted costumes that we could get away with if something serious was to happen at the hospital (a new diagnosis of something or a serious accident). 

We were at the hospital bright and early with a mission to make the day fun for the children, to get them to laugh, and not care if they were missing trick or treating with their friends. We do reverse trick or treating, giving nurses, who were also dressed up, bags of goodies (Halloween related and not) like playdoh, vampire teeth, shirts/socks, coloring books, toys, and more, to pass out to the children. They'd knock on their doors, yelling "Trick or Treat!" The children would be in the room, waiting, with their bags open wide and huge smiles on their faces. It turned out to be a huge hit once again, and we surprised the children, and their families with cupcakes decorated just for the occasion! Project Sunshine from a college nearby joined us for the party and had crafts available for the children, their siblings, and families to do in the playroom. 

It was such a great day, and I'm pretty sure no one was upset that they missed Halloween outside of the hospital, at least not too much. 

So now you can understand why I thought Halloween was much longer than it was, but how it might've been the best Halloween yet. Hope all of you had a wonderful Halloween! 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Lake Life in the Fall

If you've been reading, you know that over the summer I fell in love with the lake. Sal and I would go there every chance we got, which would usually be once a week, sometimes two if we cleared our schedules. I became obsessed with the breathtaking views of nature, the colors of summer, the bright blue sky and sun reflecting on the lake, and the sound of a fishing pole being casted and Sal's excitement when he caught a big one! So when the fall season came around, that didn't mean we stopped going to the lake, even though it was starting to get chillier and chillier near the water. Instead, we found ourselves sitting on the porch, sipping on wine and enjoying the changing colors of the leaves on the trees. I didn't think it was possible, but the lake seemed to be more beautiful with the reds, browns, and yellows.

I understood then why so many people leave the bustlin' city, and head to the countryside... why so many authors rent a cabin in the woods to write out their long novels. It's a truly relaxing place that cannot be copied, a place that cannot exist anywhere else ... not in someone's backyard with full views of the neighbors, not in someone's' room with the loud television and computer screen, and not even on a train with tons of people surrounding you. Those can be sanctuaries to some, but it does not compare to being by the lake, in the country, with few neighbors, with few other sounds that the water, the trees moving, and the fish jumping. 

The usual happened... Sal fished, while I read my book. We were together, but doing the things we loved separately, and that just made it perfect. Sometimes he'll stop me from reading to bug me to take a picture, but I secretly love it and am super proud of him when he catches a big fish, even the little fish make me proud... I tend to like the smaller ones better because they're just so cute! He usually always throws them back, unless it's a fish that his buddy can fry up and eat. 

More often than not, we'll leave the lake with our stomach's growling. Sometimes we wait for his friend to come home so we can all have dinner together, sometimes we'll head home and eat when we get back home, and more recently we've taken several trips to a delicious restaurant right down the road called Smokey's, which has proved to have such great food time and time again. Before we know it, we'll be regulars there, and the waiters and waitresses will know our names! 

Without these little getaways, away from the reality of our day to day chores and work, I think I would have lost my sanity a long time ago. Thankfully, the lake is just a short drive away. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Quality Over Quantity

Before Halloween graced us with its presence, it was my mom's birthday. We were all extremely excited because my brother would be coming home from medical school for a short fall break. We couldn't plan it any better even if we tried. He was set to come home on the day of her birthday, so my mom decided to plan a nice quiet night spent at home with some friends and family. She didn't want to spend it out at a restaurant spending tons of money and barely getting to spend quality time with anyone. Instead, she wanted to snack on chips and pretzels, sip on bottles glasses of wine, and chow down on some sicilian pizza. I don't know about you, but whenever we have sicilian pizza, it means there is a party going on! We were slightly worried about the weather, but it turned out to be the perfect fall chill for a bonfire in the backyard.

I came home from work, just as her friends and our family started to arrive, and the smile on my mom's face could not have been any wider. It got me thinking... why do we strive to have so many friends, when what really matters is quality over quantity? There didn't need to be fifty people on the porch for my mom to be happy, she just needed those who have loved her and supported her over this last year.

We blasted music, and went back and forth chatting with family inside, and outside. The night was perfect. My mom refused to open her presents until later in the night... she didn't want to interrupt the conversations that were sparking in the backyard. After stuffing our faces with chips, dip, and pizza, we brought out the cake to sing. Of course, my mom being my mom, she blew out her candles and as she choked on her words and began to get weepy, she thanked everyone for coming. She's like that... a little ball of emotion. Finally she was ready to open her gifts from me - an awesome Garmin running watch that would motivate her to get back into her morning walks, and a beautiful October birthstone Alex and Ani bracelet that sparkled in all of its rose glory. She thanked me, but no thanks were necessary; when I saw the look on her face, I knew she was thankful.

The last of us still remaining gathered inside, it had grown too cold to stay outside. As the night came to a close, I knew that what my mom had meant about the night was true. It's quality over quantity. Those that had mattered the most had showed up for her and showered her with love and celebration. It was a truly magical night, and I know that she wouldn't have had it any other way.

Happy Birthday Mom ! Here's to many, many more!