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Virtual Coffee Date (aka Long-Overdue Life Update)

31 Aug

Hello, friend! It’s been way, way too long since we’ve talked. But what’s a few months between friends?

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This spring and summer have been extremely busy for the Heimerman household!
Christopher accepted a job as the news editor of the DeKalb Daily Chronicle in April. He commuted the 75 minutes each way between Sterling and DeKalb in the initial weeks as he felt out the job and made sure it was smart and worthwhile for us to uproot our family and our life and start over in a new city.

We furiously searched for houses in DeKalb and fixed up (new microwave and dishwasher, new front window, new shower) and cleaned our house in Sterling, and ultimately, the sell-one-home-and-buy-another-home process took only 10 days.

It was a very emotional two months, as we prepared to leave our first home–the site of so many firsts for our family–and as we prepared to leave Sterling–a community we had truly grown into and in which we made meaningful friendships over 5 years. In the last few weeks leading up to the move, and especially in the last week, as we packed during the free moments between work and school, I had many weepy moments. I just couldn’t fathom leaving it all behind. And yet, I was so excited to start anew. It was an emotional rollercoaster.

We moved June 30 and July 1 and were completely settled within just a couple of days.
I landed some part-time work as a group fitness instructor at the Kishwaukee Family YMCA. I am co-leading a senior strength and balance class three mornings a week, and starting after Labor Day, I will also lead a bootcamp class four mornings a week. I have filled in as a pilates, yoga, and BodyPump instructor, too.

I also studied for the NETA personal training certification. I went to the certification workshop Aug. 5-6, conveniently hosted at the local YMCA, and took the exam Aug. 6. After more than three long weeks, and after the exam results were mistakenly sent to our old address, then forwarded to our new one, I learned yesterday that I passed the certification exam with flying colors and now am a certified personal trainer!

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I’ll jump right into training within the next few weeks, and while I’m a bit nervous as to how to go about it all, I’m really excited to embark on this new journey–and honestly, to have a meaningful career in a growing industry.

I had a meaningful career as a reporter, too. I am an excellent writer and storyteller and a solid journalist. But while I enjoyed being a reporter, I most enjoyed meeting new people and telling their stories; I never was in it to be a watchdog, to uncover the truth, to right the wrongs of the world. I just wanted to tell stories that were important, that were special, that made people feel important and valued.

I discovered that I can do all that and more as a group fitness instructor and now, as a personal trainer. I will meet new people, I will learn their stories, and I will hopefully help them write new and better stories for themselves. I will honor people where they are, and I will value them and hopefully help them value themselves, so that as we work together, they want to be the best version of themselves, inside and outside.

Anna and Elise finished up 3-year-old preschool at St. Mary’s in Sterling in May. They had a fabulous year of learning, discovering, and growing. They are so smart and funny, and they are very well-behaved.

The summer has been challenging, though, as we got out of our school routine and into a more laid-back summer schedule. The first part of summer was spent cleaning, packing, and moving. And the latter part has been spent establishing our “new normal.”

They start school at the YMCA on Tuesday. They will go to a 4-year-old Kingergarten-like program five days a week, from 9 a.m. to noon. And they get swimming lessons, sports, and music throughout the week. It’s not a traditional preschool program, like what they had at St. Mary’s, but it’s got its perks (swimming lessons!) because they’ll be at the YMCA.

We’re definitely ready for school–for the girls to get back into that routine, and for me, personally, to dive a little deeper into my new jobs.

All this time, Christopher and I still have been running. We trained for and ran the Summerfest Rock ‘n’ Sole half marathon on our wedding anniversary June 10. (I had good intentions of writing a race recap, but I got caught up–and rightly so–in moving and changing jobs.) Christopher posted a great time, considering the incredible heat and humidity that day, but I really battled, and so I just ran for the fun of it.

We took just a couple weeks off to move and settle in, and then we picked back up and now are in the waning weeks of training for the Milwaukee Marathon on Oct. 15, for which I am a race ambassador. (Use code KaylaRunsMKE for a discount on any of the races!) Both Christopher and I are doing well, especially with our long runs. We’re scheduled for two 20-milers, one next weekend, and the other two weeks after that. Distances that long still sort of freak me out, but not nearly the way they used to scare me. #thingsdistancerunnerssay I’m excited for the marathon, and I hope it’s a better race than last year.

That’s the long and short of it. Lots of changes, lots of adjustments, but already some good stories and memories.

Let’s do this again soon.

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Review: Maple Holistics shampoo and conditioner

8 Mar

Disclosure: I was sent the Winter Blend shampoo and conditioner set to review. I am not otherwise being compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.

My beauty routine is pretty simple, and thus, my arsenal of haircare, skincare, and cosmetic products is pretty small.

In terms of shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and face wash, I prefer products that are fairly natural with clean, fresh scents and that leave my skin feeling clean and invigorated.

Maple Holistics, an American company that makes all-natural haircare and skincare products, with an emphasis on shampoo and conditioner, offers several items that fit that bill.

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I’ve used their Winter Blend shampoo and conditioner over the past 8 weeks, and I love it.

The limited edition Winter Blend formula contains five varieties of mint: peppermint, spearmint, eucalyptus mint, bergamot mint, and wild mint.

The scent is lovely and transforms your shower into a cooling, refreshing environment. It’s perfect in the morning, to wake up your senses with the brightness of invigorating mint; it’s wonderful after a sweaty workout, too, to cool and refresh your body and mind.

The conditioner specifically is Maple Holistics’ own Silk18 blend of ingredients to treat dry, damaged hair; it contains 18 silk amino acids, plus argan oil, jojoba oil, botanical keratin, sea buckthorn, pomegranate, aloe, and more.

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The shampoo, naturally, left my scalp and hair feeling clean, thanks to the bright mint blend. And the conditioner, which feels thick and silky straight out of the bottle, left my hair feeling soft and smooth.

The two 8-ounce bottles retail for $19.95, which is far more than I would ever pay for shampoo or conditioner. But you are paying not only for high quality products, but also for products that are all natural, sulfate free, and made (animal-cruelty-free) in the United States.

So if natural hair and skincare is important to you, and if supporting domestic manufacturers is important to you, Maple Holistics offers some wonderful products.

The company currently offers free samples of its lemon oil, massage oil, or sage shampoo in exchange for honest reviews online, either on social media, a blog, or Amazon. The offer is good only through March 17!

I finished the Whole30!

15 Feb

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We finished the Whole30!

I won’t lie to you and tell you it was easy or that it completely changed me (for the better or for the worse). But I will admit it was not as hard as it is purported to be. It also was not as life-changing as it is marketed to be, either.

Some quick thoughts:

  • Christopher lost about 10 pounds during the program. I lost fewer than 5 over the 30 days.
  • We both reported better sleep — an easier time falling asleep and staying asleep — although we did not usually wake up feeling as well-rested and restored, probably in part to both of us being sick with a cold at some point in the last two weeks and to dealing with sick toddlers in the last two weeks.
  • We mostly avoided the withdrawal and “carb flu” early in the program — a testament to the quality of our diet and exercise regimen pre-Whole30? — but we never really experienced the “Tiger Blood” that supposedly comes midway through the program. We are most disappointed about that.
    • We both came down with a cold in the last two weeks, though, which probably had a lot to do with lackluster energy.
  • Neither of us really suffered from digestive issues before Whole30. So I don’t know if the emphasis on meat and fat did is to blame, but I suffered from diarrhea (sorry, TMI!) for almost the entire 30 days.
  • I successfully ditched MyFitness Pal. I had been religiously counting calories (and often lying to myself about the amount by conveniently not tracking some foods) for years. I didn’t count a single calories over the 30 days, and I don’t plan to start counting calories again, unless I notice my pants stop fitting properly. It is so liberating to cook and eat without having to log every bite.
  • We did not fully follow reintroduction protocol. At the start, we did; we reintroduced legumes, then waited a day, then reintroduced non-gluten-containing grains, then waited a day. But on Saturday evening, four days after the end of Whole30, we went out and finally indulged. And while we didn’t feel too badly after that, we continued to indulge and imbibe Sunday and by then, we felt crummy.
    • We learned that we simply need to watch it with things like sugar and alcohol. My personal rule going forward is no sweets and treats unless they are homemade or a once-a-year indulgence (i.e. Cadbury Mini Eggs at Easter). I don’t need to waste my time or calories on crappy candy or store-bought cookies. My other rule, which sort of goes along with the limit on sweets and treats, is no refined carbs or sugar, again, unless it is 100 percent worth it. No white flour or sugar, no white pasta or rice. There are much better options out there that make my body feel so much better.

Christopher swears he will never do Whole30 again — that the benefits we experienced do not outweigh the effort we put in. And I can’t say I disagree entirely. I would do a Whole30 again, if I felt myself spiraling out of control, but I concede that the ends did not justify the means. We spent a TON of time planning and preparing, and a TON more money grocery shopping and for what, really? Frankly, our wallet really took a hit eating this way, whereas before Whole30, our grocery cart was filled with very little processed or patently unhealthy foods, and our bill was two-thirds the size. The fact of the matter is oatmeal, brown rice, black beans, chickpeas, Greek yogurt, low-fat cheese are a part of a well-balanced diet and do not make us feel crummy; and those foods are just not as expensive as pounds on top of pounds of chicken and beef and pork (and let me tell you, we went through two or three dozen eggs a week!).

Overall, I am really glad we did Whole30. We learned a lot about our food, our emotional attachment to food, and how our bodies respond to having (and not having) certain foods. We also learned that we can do something that most people consider damn near impossible for 30 freaking days! That is definitely something to be proud of.

 

Whole30 Recap – Week 3 and Meal Plan – Week 4

1 Feb

Well, we’ve reached the proverbial summit!

Week 3 was supposed to be all about Tiger Blood — the newfound energy, through-the-roof confidence and pride. While both Christopher and I are confident within the Whole30 framework and proud of ourselves for making it two-thirds of the way through the program, we certainly haven’t experienced boundless energy. We understand that the program affects everybody differently, but to say we are slightly disappointed and underwhelmed would be an understatement.

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(A day of eats: Left column – breakfast: two eggs, hashbrowns, and avocado; lunch: chocolate chili with onions and avocado; dinner: burger with sauteed onions, chimichurri, and Ranch dressing and roasted carrots. Right column – snacks: mixed nuts, pineapple, strawberry-apple-chia bar, and plantain chips.)

Here’s how Week 3 shaped up for us:

  • We’re still snacking. Homemade cashew-date balls, Larabars, hard-boiled eggs, nuts, and fruit are our go-to snacks.
  • I’m still drinking 88 to 96 ounces of water every day.
  • We have yet to experience the purported physical benefits of this program — especially the surge in energy. Christopher is still battling a cold. And I now am feeling run down. Our weight has stayed mostly the same. My cravings are not as strong — but they are not gone.
Recipe wins from last week:

(Italics denote the recipe is from the Whole30 book.)

And here’s our meal plan for the week:

Breakfasts

Lunches

Dinners

We are definitely ready to be done, but we want to do reintroduction the right way so these 30 days weren’t for nothing. Any Whole30 alumni have some advice?

Whole30 Meal Plan – Week 1

5 Jan

Christopher (who agreed to do the Whole30 with me!) and I planned our breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for the first two weeks of our Whole30.

Here’s what we’re going to eat in Week 1:

Breakfasts

Lunch

Dinner

(Italics denote the recipe is from the Whole30 book.)

We plan to have fruit and nuts for snacks, if necessary. We’re also going to have frozen fruit, spinach, and almond milk on hand for green smoothies for pre- and post-workout fuel.

What’s on your Whole30 menu?

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Merry Christmas

25 Dec

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Review: Illumin8 by Sunwarrior

7 Jun

Disclosure: I was sent a container of Illumin8 by Sunwarrior to review. I am not otherwise being compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.

I’m a pretty au natural girl. I use very few beauty products. I don’t take much medication, even pain reliever. And I certainly don’t use supplements or meal replacement products.

For the most part, supplements and meal replacement products leave me wanting more–more in terms of results, more in terms of satisfaction, just more of something.

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But the new Illumin8 organic plant-based meal replacement by Sunwarrior is different.

Illumin8 covers your most important nutrition bases with superfoods, such as baobab, chia, flax, whole grain brown rice, kelp, holy basil, guava and coconut, among others. It combines clean protein, gluten-free carbohydrates, healthy fats, minerals, fiber, natural vitamins, enzymes and probiotics to make for a nutritionally sound snack or, with a few additions, a satisfying replacement for a traditional plated meal.

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Sunwarrior suggests combining a scoop of Illumin8 with 12 ounces of water, milk (dairy or non-dairy) or other beverage, then experimenting with the addition of fruit, greens, or other real foods.

For my first taste test, I combined a scoop of Illumin8 (in Aztec chocolate flavor) and 12 ounces of 1% milk. It was disappointingly chalky, artificially sweet, even crunchy (because of the milled chia and flax seeds). I honestly was not impressed.

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For my next test, I combined a scoop of Illumin8, 12 ounces of 1% milk and some frozen strawberries. It was much better in terms of texture, but still tasted a bit artificially sweet, and it lost that “Aztec” spiciness from cinnamon and cayenne.

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Finally, for my last test, I combined a scoop of Illumin8, 12 ounces of 1% milk, one to one and a half frozen bananas and 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder. The texture was smooth, thick and creamy. The taste was balanced–not too much banana, not too artificially sweet, plenty chocolatey, but not without that little bit of spiciness.

That combination clocks in at about 450 calories, which makes it a very respectable, healthy meal thanks to the Core Eight nutrients.

I have occasionally had Illumin8 for breakfast, as a healthy start to my day, but I most often have had Illumin8 after a long run. The combination of protein, carbs and essential vitamins and minerals makes a shake akin to a glass of chocolate milk, which lots of sources argue is the best refueling option after a long run or race.

I don’t think I’d drink it as a snack–at least not doctored up with banana and cocoa powder, the way it seems to taste best, as it’s a little too calorie dense for my liking–plus I prefer to actually munch on my snacks, rather than drink them.

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Meet your new plate, friends! Give Illumin8 a try for a tasty, well-balanced, truly healthy meal.