Run 2 Your Own Beat

Run 2 Your Own Beat

A Health & Happiness Blog


Happy belated new year, all! I hope 2015 has been good to you so far. Prior to my last update, the frequency of my posts had been dwindling. I love blogging – so much. I love cooking healthy meals and experimenting with recipes and trying new workouts. But I’m also still in school, and working every night during the week and saturday mornings. At my job at Liven Up Health and Fitness, my responsibilities stem beyond just front desk staff. I’ve been taking part in a lot of the company’s blogging, and helping to increase their social media presence. 

It’s become a little bit difficult for me to manage both my blog as well as Liven Up’s, while contributing interesting, original content to both, but that’s difficult while I’m working a lot and managing schoolwork. I want to ensure that I do my best in school, with a courseload of 12 credits this semester. Long story short, I will officially be taking an indefinite hiatus from blogging at I will still post on Instagram and Twitter occasionally though! 

Thank you for your support through the past 2 years! I’ll be back soon enough. :)

Gobble Gobble! #Bacon.


I know, that title is really original, right? So, I told you in my last post that there would be good things ahead. And there are!! Like Maple Bacon Brussel sprouts. If you don’t like brussel sprouts, this recipe will probably make you like them. Because bacon. So…..bacon.

I’m currently working at an amazing facility called Liven Up Health & Fitness, and a majority of my time to blog will be spent writing for their blog – Check it out here to stay updated with their posts! I’m about to be quite consumed with their new 25 Days of Fitness campaign, as well as wrapping up the fall semester. I’m thrilled to be part of such a supportive, enthusiastic community!

I will do my very best, though, to give you read-worthy content!!! In my opinion, bacon = read-worthy. So, here it is!! 

By the way, it was almost 70 degrees here in eastern Pennsylvania in NOVEMBER, and in 2 days we are supposed to get 6+ inches of snow. What? Mother Nature, make up your mind, woman! She’s worse than me getting ready for a night out! (Because I change outfits like five times before leaving..get it? Okay. Bad joke. MERP.) I’ll just give you the bacon recipe now:

Maple Bacon Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Because BACON.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
40 min
  1. 1.5-2 lbs Brussel Sprouts
  2. 6-7 slices of bacon (preferably organic)
  3. 1/3 cup Maple Syrup
  4. 1/3 cup Olive Oil
  5. 1 tsp salt
  6. 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  7. Dash of pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Rinse brussel sprouts, and cut them in halves.
  3. Chop bacon into small pieces
  4. Toss brussels with maple syrup, bacon, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  5. Place brussel sprouts cut-side down on a baking sheet (or two, if you run out of room). Cook for 10 minutes, then use a spatula to flip them. Cook for 10 more minutes, or until tender.
  6. BACON
Adapted from Gabby's Gluten Free
Adapted from Gabby's Gluten Free
Run 2 Your Own Beat

Good Things Ahead [Like Pancakes!]


Happy Wednesday, folks! Hope your week is treating you well. Mine started off sort of busy(ish), leaving me no time to workout on Monday. That may also be due to my poor planning skills! On Tuesday, however, I did have time to workout.


I woke up later than I had anticipated (oops), had a healthy breakfast, and headed to class. I walked out of the house and noticed the sun or blue sky was nowhere to be found. As I was driving, I realized how dreadfully unmotivated that made me feel! I was also a little sad about the fact that I can’t really run right now :( During my first outdoor run since the half marathon last week, I had that debilitating knee pain again and I quickly realized I needed to give it more time to rest. (And possibly physical therapy.)


I powered through 40 minutes of intervals on the elliptical – gag me. I really really don’t like the elliptical because I just get SO bored. I hate feeling like the pedals are moving my legs for me. I miss running :( I managed to get my heart rate up and my sweat flowing though. I did a few leg and shoulder supersets and I was outta there. Once I got my body moving, I felt much better.

As I left the gym at my school, I saw that some blue sky had come out! When I was driving home, the view through my rearview mirror was of dark, grey, forboding clouds, but the view in front of me was of clear, blue, sunny sky! Metaphor, much?


Just because you wake up on the wrong side of the bread (Rugrats reference, anybody?) doesn’t mean that you have to stay there! A short bout of exercise can cure a glum chum in no time. (Cheesy, I know!)

I also have a tasty breakfast recipe to share with you, readers! I call it a Cinnamon Raisin All-in-One Pancake!


Cinnamon Raisin All-in-One Pancakes
Serves 10
A satisfying, make-in-bulk pancake to freeze for a quick weekday breakfast!
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
35 min
  1. 2 cups rolled oats pulsed in food processor
  2. 8 whole eggs or 2 cups egg whites
  3. 2 scoops unflavored protein powder (I used PlantFusion from Wegmans)
  4. 4 tbsp ghee (clarified butter) or coconut oil
  5. 1 tsp baking powder
  6. 5 tsp cinnamon
  7. 2 tsp vanilla
  8. 1/2 tsp salt
  9. 1/2 cup honey
  10. 3 tbsp milk
  11. 1 cup raisins
  1. Pulse your rolled oats into a flour in the food processor.
  2. Add all ingredients except raisins into a large bowl - oats, eggs, protein powder, ghee, cinnamon, baking powder, vanilla, salt, honey, and milk.
  3. Carefully blend with a hand mixer on a low speed, and once ingredients start to congeal, increase mixing speed to medium or high.
  4. When it forms a thick batter, fold in the raisins with a spatula.
  5. Set your griddle or stove to low heat. Splash a drop of water on the surface to see if it sizzles. If it does, you're ready to cook!
  6. Scoop 1/3 cup of batter for each pancake. Cook 3-4 minutes, or until bubbles start to form on the surface. Flip pancakes, then cook for another 3-4 minutes - paying close attention that they do not burn. Repeat until there is no more batter left.
  7. Serve with spread of your choice - a little ghee, lite cream cheese, maple syrup, or even nut butter!
To reheat after freezing
  1. Heat in the microwave for 30-45 seconds, then toast in a pop up toaster or regular toaster oven until desired doneness is reached.
Run 2 Your Own Beat
 Feel free to email me with comments, questions, or suggestions at :)

Out of the Woodwork…


Hello, my dear readers! It’s time for me to dust off the cobwebs and get cracking again with these posts. I don’t like to make excuses for when I start to slack off, but often times, there are legitimate reasons that contribute to that. 

So I’m going to be honest.

I was in a relationship with a man for a total of four months, and in late September, we broke up. It’s not that he is a bad person, or an a**hole – that is not the case at all. Truth be told, he is certainly up there in my (very short) list of good boyfriends. Everytime a good one comes along, they set the bar higher and higher. He had a lot of very good qualities that were important to me – qualities that I learned I needed in a man based on failed relationships of the past. He was responsible, kind, stable, level-headed, hardworking, among other things.

While he had many redeeming qualities, him and I were very different in some respects. I thought at first that they were things I could overlook, but being further removed from it, I realized that they really weren’t. I believe that a healthy couple should have their differences in opinion, but there are limits. When it comes to things like religion, politics, and a future, there are some things that cannot be ignored. In the end, we were very different and had different needs both in and out of the relationship.

Everybody has their ideal picture of what their life will look like with their future spouse, whomever they may be. Perhaps it is early to think about, being that I am 21, but even now I know there are things I do and do not want to have to compromise about when it comes to considering someone as a “possibility”, if you will.

I digress – we had a lot of positive memories and good times together, and I firmly believe that that is how he sees it as well. Our relationship ended on an amicable note, and I truly wish him the best.

After that break up, I truly did feel quite lost, however at the same time, I knew I needed to move on so that is what I did.

At first, I really wanted to just be. I needed to readjust my lifestyle since I just had a significant part of it removed.

I ended up meeting a really hansome guy. Mind you – this was not even 2 weeks removed from the break up. I was still a tiny bit of a hot mess. On our first date, I confessed that I had just gotten out of a relationship. I explained the nature of the break up, and that I did need time to just ‘be’.

I pretty much did everything wrong ever on the first 2 or 3 dates – gushing my thoughts about life and my ex and all that. I really have no idea why he put up with it! Most guys would be gone in a heart beat. Shortly after, I realized I really did need time 100% alone to grieve and eat ice cream and chinese food and pizza and be sad about the break up, and I told this guy that and he respected it. I told him when I was ready, I’d contact him. He took it really well.

After the grieving process, I thought to myself, ‘Nothing is going to change. You did nothing wrong. It is not your fault that you and (ex-man) did not match up.’ I realized rather quickly that I was ready to fully move on.

So – here I am – in a relationship and ready to take life as it comes. I’m really happy. I’m not going to sit here and gush about how wonderful this man is – but I will say my favorite thing about him so far. He encourages growth in me personally and professionally, and holds me accountable when I slack off. I’m taking life one day at a time, and so far it’s going really well.

At this point you may be wondering why I just rambled about my personal life – but there is a lesson.

The lesson in all of this is to never settle.

For anything, ever. Consider what is most important to you now and what will be important to you 5, 10, or 20 years from now. If there are things you know you need or want in your future, you have every right to have that and shouldn’t feel the need to compromise something you had your hopes set on. It leads to disappointment, tension, and resentment in yourself and in your relationships. Always be open with your feelings, and if you aren’t getting what you need, speak up. In your early adult life, you are the only one who’s truly going to look out for your best interests.

So, that’s most of the reason I haven’t been posting on my blog.

Some of the other reasons include:

1. Sometimes I’m lazy.

2. Sometimes I don’t have time to cook.

3. Matt and I had been going out to eat a lot. Oops :o

4. I was looking for a new job..which I did find! I’m currently a personal trainer at a gym in my area. I am so excited to be furthering my career in health and fitness! I know it’s going to be hard at first, but I want to put in the work to get where I want to be.

5. I’m sort of working on finding/redeveloping my voice as a writer – especially now that I am truly working in the fitness industry. I am trying to develop my personal philosophies on fitness and nutrition more, so that I can share them with you guys!

6. Having very limited funds and time constraints does not lend itself to having pretty at-home food photo shoots. :(

Some good things have happened in the last two months, though! 

1. I ran (mostly) my first half marathon! It took me three hours.. eh :/


2. As a result, I messed up my knee and have patellofemoral pain syndrom, or what is commonly called ‘runner’s knee’. It hurt. A lot. I couldn’t walk right for a few days after the race. I believe it is related to a potential stress fracture that happened during my last long training run. I know that’s not a good thing..but..yeah. 

3. My new job as a personal trainer! I have 4 or 5 regular clients so far. It’s not much, but it’s a start! I love that I’m getting the chance to develop my persona as a personal trainer, and learning how to better relate to people of different ages, genders, etc.

4. I’m getting a little better at managing friends, boyfriend, school, work, and fitness/diet! I also started using MyFitnessPal again, and I’m loving the changes they’ve made! 

5. I went to the Fitness Magazine Meet & Tweet in New York, NY and met Carla Hall from ABC’s The Chew! She is my SOUL SISTA. I also got tons of AMAZING swag from the event! More on that in another post. (Better late than never, right?





6. I went apple picking! I LOVE fall!


How do ya like THEM apples!?

So – those are my excuses/reasons for not posting in almost 2 months! I will be back with a vengeance (and a protein pancake recipe) this week!!! Ta Ta!


Healthy Hump Day: Homemade Chicken Salad [RECIPE]

Lunches on the left, dinners on the right!

Hello friends! I hope you’re having a fantastic week so far. I know I am! On Monday, I had an AH-MAZING 6 mile lactate-threshold run!

(Maximal lactate threshold is the point of exertion at which the body creates lactic acid as fast as it clears lactic acid. Lactic acid is a chemical compound created your body creates when it breaks down carbohydrates during times of strenuous activity. Among other things, it contributes to that ‘burning’ feeling you have when you sprint really fast or at the end of a resistance exercise. The more you know!)  

Thumbs up for crazy hair and successful runs!!

Thumbs up for crazy hair and successful runs!!

I completed it in 59:35 for an average pace of 9:55 min/mi. That’s a record pace for that distance for me! AHH! I found an awesome playlist on spotify that was 170 BPM and it truly kept me going. My back did start to tense up around 4.5 miles, but I pushed through it.  It would be SUPER awesome if I could keep this kind of pace for the whole half marathon….but let’s just worry about getting to that distance first! :p

For my food prep this past Sunday, I made chicken salad jars for lunch! I wrote up a recipe for Asian-style salad jars a few weeks ago and I’ve been making salad jars each week since then. I started making this chicken salad when I was still attempting the Whole30 program  since it’s something I used to eat all the time on sandwiches. It involves the homemade paleo mayo recipe from the Whole30 book “It Starts With Food”, but I modify it just a bit. 

Lunches on the left, dinners on the right!

Lunches on the left, dinners on the right!

I absolutely love making chicken salad because it’s a quick, easy lunch fix, it’s so satisfyingly creamy, and it’s paleo and clean! It’s awesome to have on a lettuce leaf wrap, on a low-carb wrap or pita bread, or all by itself! You can also add in some cranberries, walnuts, apple, grapes, and feta to make a tasty Waldorf salad! 

The homemade mayo I use to make it is also another super versatile condiment that can be changed up with spices such as nutritional yeast (cheesy flavor), extra cayenne & chipotle pepper (southern kick), or apple cider vinegar, dill, onion & garlic powder, & pepper (ranch-style veggie dip!) – the list goes on.

I chose to include my chicken salad in my weekly salad jars. I used a light garlic vinaigrette (could also just use a dash of apple cider vinegar and olive oil) on my salad, and combined with the chicken salad, it made for an almost creamy dressing. Yum!! 

Homemade Chicken Salad
Serves 4
Boiled, shredded chicken with homemade paleo mayonnaise
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
50 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
50 min
For the chicken
  1. 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  2. 2 cups water
  3. 1 tsp ground mustard powder
  4. 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  5. 1 tsp paprika
  6. 1 tbsp olive oil
  7. 1/2 tsp salt
  8. Dash of pepper
For the mayonnaise
  1. 1/2 tsp ground mustard powder
  2. 1/2 tsp salt
  3. 1 egg
  4. 1 cup + 1/4 cup extra light tasting olive oil
  5. Lime juice (to taste)
For the salad itself
  1. 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  2. 1/2 tsp paprika
  3. 1/2 cup diced celery
  4. Salt & pepepr to taste
Optional add-ins
  1. Cranberries
  2. Walnuts
  3. Apples
  4. Feta cheese
For the shredded chicken
  1. Slightly tenderize your chicken with a meat tenderizer, or take a sharp knife and 'score' it on both sides and poke it with a fork repeatedly.
  2. Pour the water into a sauce pot and add in the mustard powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, olive oil, and chicken.
  3. Bring to a boil on high heat, then reduce to medium-low and cover. Let simmer for 20-30 minutes - checking every 5 minutes to see if chicken is ready to pull apart.
  4. Use tongs and a fork to pull apart chicken while it is still in the water, being careful not to splash yourself!
  5. When most of the chicken is pulled apart, drain it in a colander. Use a fork and knife to further shred chicken if desired.
  6. Put chicken in a bowl and in the freezer for about 10 minutes so it's not boiling hot!
For the mayonnaise (while chicken simmers)
  1. Add egg, mustard powder, salt, and 1/4 cup of olive oil in a bowl.
  2. Use an electric hand mixer or immersion blender on high until mixture is completely emulsified.
  3. Continue blending with mixer, and SLOWLY drizzle in the remaining cup of olive oil. After all oil is blended, it should be white-ish and thick in consistency.
  4. Squeeze in a dot of lime juice to taste, and blend in.
Mixing it all together
  1. Take all of your shredded chicken and combine it in a bowl with 1/2 to 3/4 cup of mayonnaise, cayenne, paprika, celery, salt, and pepper (and other ingredients if desired). Mix well.
  2. Store chicken salad in the fridge - it should stay fresh for about a week!
  1. For the salad jar I made, the other ingredients are cucumber, sliced mini sweet peppers, broccoli slaw, cherry tomatoes (not cut), snap peas, matchstick carrots, shredded parmesean, cranberries, and spinach - all in that order from bottom to top! The chicken salad goes on the bottom. The recipe above makes four 1/2 cup servings of chicken salad.
Adapted from It Starts With Food
Adapted from It Starts With Food
Run 2 Your Own Beat

 If you have any questions about the recipe or about my food prep, feel free to tweet me, leave a comment, or email me at! :)

What is something you’re proud of this week? :)

A Running List of Realizations & Rituals [Pun Intended]

photo 1-3

3 weeks + 6 days. 27 days. 648 hours. 38,880 minutes. 

That, my friends, is how long I have until my first half marathon ever – the Runner’s World Half & Festival in Bethlehem, PA. Two Fridays ago, I topped my longest distance ever run at 7 miles, and then the following Friday, I topped it at 8 miles. I mean, it took me 1 hour 20 minutes and 1 hour 31 minutes (respectively), but I did it! I want to take some time to share with you some of the realizations that I’ve had since I’ve started to push myself to run longer distances. 

I’m pretty proud that I’ve been able to steadily increase my distance, and it’s interesting to take note of how I feel after each new distance.

This was after my 6 mile run:

photo 3-2


I was thrilled with my ability to get through this run. I did the entire 6 mile loop of the Lehigh Parkway running path. I hadn’t run this distance since last year when I did the Runner’s World 10k during the RW Half & Festival. I did feel a pain the entire run on the medial side of my right foot from my heel to my ankle. It wasn’t debilitating, but it was just a nuisance.

This was after my 7 mile run:

photo 2-3


I really don’t remember any bout of exercise being this miserable. To get the extra mile, I just had to circle back around one of the bridges along the path. It started with my left knee around 3 miles, then my left hip joint around 4 miles, and around 5 miles my back started tensing up and around 5.5-6 miles the balls of my feet were burning and my toes were numb. I wanted to cry several times, and finally when I hit the 7 mile mark, I dropped to the ground and um kind of maybe sort of cried a little bit? It emotional experience. 

And finally, this was after my most recent 8 mile run:

photo 1-3

I actually didn’t cry at the end of this one. The whole time, it felt doable. The path I usually do my long runs at is about a 6 mile path if I park at fish hatchery. I used to park by the red covered bridge, which is about a mile into the path from the fish hatchery. For this run, parked by the fish hatchery, did 1 mile out, 1 mile back, and then did the whole 6 mile loop. Maybe that’s why it felt so doable? But I was still tired and my feet really hurt at the end. My back started tensing up by mile 3 so..that was miserable. Other than that I really pushed through it. 



  1. I need to pace myself if I’m going to run a longer distance (5+ miles). The idea of running under a 10 minute mile consistently for a long distance sounds amazing, but for me, it’s not realistic. My pace for long distances tends to be between 11 and 12 minute/miles. 
  2. When I’m reaching for a new distance goal, running is a solitary activity for me. I love the idea of running with other people, all motivating each other to keep pushing forward – however, when I’m striving for a new top distance, I need to do it by myself. When running with other people, I’ll start the run around their pace – maybe aorund a 9 or 10 minute mile. At that pace, I get burnt out by the third or fourth mile, and find myself stopping every so often. And then the run is ruined. And I don’t feel that sense of accomplishment. 
  3. Seeing an attractive guy running is actually very motivating for me, even if he is passing me..
  4. Apparently, I am prone to chafing. In places.
  5. I realized I don’t need inserts. Or at least, not the type of inserts I had. I feel pain on the medial side of my right foot from the heel to the ankle, and on the top of my left foot. I don’t have flat feet, but I do have a slight natural turnout. 
  6. The balls of my feet kind of start to burn a little bit after a few miles, and my toes go a little bit numb..not sure if that’s a problem..
  7. The muscles in my mid & lower back begin to fatigue and tighten up around 3 or 4 miles, and by 7 or 8 miles, it’s kind of unbearable. I have the energy to run but the feeling in my back makes it really difficult. I think I can remedy this by stretching out my hamstrings, doing more hamstring exercises, and doing more core exercises targeting the lower abdominals to assist my pelvis in maintaining the right alignment while running.
  8. Headwinds suck. Tailwinds are awesome!
  9. If I don’t do anything strenuous at all the day before a long run, I really do have improved stamina and endurance. Before the 7 mile run, I had done some lifting the day before and perhaps a short run (if I’m remembering correctly.) Before the 9 mile run, however, I did yoga the Wednesday before and didn’t exercise on Thursday (except for teaching ballet class to kids). I didn’t feel quite as miserable and in pain as I was after the 7 mile run.
  10. I’m probably going to have to carry a tiny water bottle as I aim for distances above 8 or 9 miles. I know they’ll have water stations during the actual race, but while I’m running on my own for long distances, I definitely need to bring some water along.


  1. Dates and almond butter. I’m finding that (for whatever reason) I feel that I run best after having a higher-carb  lunch, then about 30 minutes later, having some dates and almond butter before I go. Dates are made of simple sugars that are quickly and easily digested and metabolized by the body, and the almond butter, high in healthy fats, serves as an energy-dense protein. 
  2. Taking my time. If I’m rushing to get a run finished, I might not fuel up properly or I might feel slow or have to go to the bathroom mid-run, and I don’t want that. I feel that I do best when I can go for my run in a non-rushed way since I already feel pressured to attain a new goal. All of the variables have to be right!
  3. Time of day. I usually do these long runs in the mid-to-late afternoon. I try not to do long runs such as these before I have to be somewhere like class or work, because I know how exhausted I’ll be afterwards. On Fridays, I don’t have any classes or work so it’s the perfect day for me. 
  4. Not consuming alcohol the night before. Occasionally, I like to have a glass of red wine with dinner – even during the week. (I work with kids, okay?!) But I won’t indulge if I know I’ve got a run the next day. Alcohol causes your body to retain fat slightly longer than normal, and I don’t want to feel weighed down and heavy before such a physically taxing endeavour. 
  5. The perfectly paced playlist. I recently wrote a post about building the perfect running playlist. This was really a breakthrough in my half-marathon training because it helped me be sure that if I just ran to the beat of the music, I would be at a decent pace. I’ve found that I run best to songs that are 155-165 BPM (beats per minute). 
  6. Holding my car key in my hand. Okay, this one is a little weird. When I went for my 6 mile run, I had to hold my car key in my hand because I didn’t have any zipper pockets in my workout leggings. For some reason, it helped me take my mind off the unpleasant feelings my body was experiencing. I did the same thing for my 7 and 8 mile run..I know it’s cray cray, but having something to hold in my hand and squeeze as I got more and more uncomfortable made it slightly more bearable.
  7. Sweat Guru Sunglasses. I got these orange sunglasses from my swag-bag from Sweat Pink during BlogFest, and I had another orange pair that I got when I was trying to start Sweat Pink at NCC. These sunglasses are my favorite because they’re inexpensive, not too fancy, and they stay on my face when I’m all sweaty. I usually prefer to wear sunglasses when I run because it makes me feel like I’m ‘in my zone’, you know?
  8. Armband complete with running playlist. I don’t know too many runners that run without music. If you’re a natural runner, maybe it’s a little easier to run sans music. However, If I know I’m going to be running a long distance, I definitely need some tunes!
  9. The right headphones. I don’t like the iPhone headphones – they don’t stay in my ears. I prefer the ones with the rubbery part that sticks in your ear.
  10. Headbands! always wear a headband when I run.


What are some of your running/fitness rituals that guarantee you a successful workout?


And the winner of the Reebok SwagBag Giveaway is…..



What’s in My Gym Bag?! [Reebok Swag Bag Giveaway!]

Happy Monday everyone! I hope you all had a fabulous weekend. Last week was the first week back at work with the dance and gymnastics class session starting up. I’m teaching some new classes that have just been added this year – such as Ballet I, Tap/Jazz I, and Musical Theatre – and it has been very successful so far! 

Now that I’m able to finally have a more routine schedule, I’m going to have to better plan my meals and workouts. The salad jars work perfectly for lunch, but for dinner, I hate getting home at 7 or 8 o’clock and still having to cook! It keeps me up later, which makes it harder for me to get up at a decent hour to be productive. Keep an eye out for some more food prep posts in the future ;) 

Throughout my week, I wear many hats. I wear my fitness instructor hat, dance teacher hat, fitness nut hat, student hat, and more! Being a typical female, naturally I have to have a bag to match each of my I right? ;)

As a child, I’ve always been a ‘bag lady’. Tons of bags. Lots of junk. To this day, I remain the bag lady. I LOVE bags. I don’t go on a vacation without bringing at least one extra purse to match my other outfits. So, depending on which hat I’m wearing, I rotate between several different bags.

My first bag is my work bag – a pink Thirty-One bag with five outside pockets and one big middle compartment with a zipper. 

photo 1-2

The next bag is another Thirty-One bag, but this one is more of a convertible messenger bag of sorts. It has two front compartments, and a third compartment which can be accessed by opening the zipper located on the flap. (Secret pocket, woooo! It even confused TSA once :p )

photo 3-1

The third bag is my gym bag for when I’m showering at the gym. It’s super big, and has a pocket in the front and a shoe compartment! I got it from NASM when I ordered my study materials and the Recertification for Life bundle. It’s that big blue one in the middle of the photo! 

photo 4-1

The fourth and newest bag is my Ogio gym bag! It is the perfect medium-sized gym bag to take to and from the gym, fitness classes, or to teach for CSS. I got it for a steal at the IDEA World Fitness Convention Expo last month. 

photo 2-2


In my gym bag, there are some essentials that I always have on me:

  1. Giro cycling shoes
  2. UA Armour39 Performance Monitor strap & module
  3. Headphones
  4. Armband for iPhone5
  5.  Sweat towel
  6. Deodorant
  7. Fitness notebook – contains all my bootcamp workouts and spin sets to teach
  8. Polar water bottle
  9. Gum
  10. Spray sunscreen 
  11. Face sunscreen stick
  12. Chapstick

It’s super important to have your gym bag ready to go with all your essentials. It gives you one less excuse to get moving!! I thought I’d share a little giveaway to help get you started if you haven’t already!

photo 5-1


One winner will receive a Reebok Totebag, filled with a sweat towel, headphones, and a purple water bottle! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway


What’s in your gymbag??


Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. Reebok did not compensate me in any way to post this giveaway.


How to Create the Perfect Playlist for Long Runs

I have some really great news to share!! Last Thursday, I ran 6 miles..without stopping!! The reason I am so excited about this is because I haven’t run this distance since last November, when I did my first 10K. My pace was a lot slower than I initially anticipated my long-run pace to be. On average, I ran about an 11 min/mi pace. I know that my recent ability to run more/better has been due to the muscular endurance and core training  I have been doing in the gym, but I can’t help but think that one final factor really helped me be able to push myself – the perfectly paced playlist. 

When I run, I feel that I do best if my strides are in sync with the beat of my music. If you’re like me, you’ve spent hours poring over Spotify, iTunes, and Pandora trying to find new or unique songs that match that ‘perfect pace’ criteria. Sometimes they’re too fast or too slow and end up throwing off your pace – but sometimes, there’s that one really good song that is the perfect pace for you. The sad part is, it’s hard to find songs similar to that! 

I realized that I needed to find a way to calculate the beats per minute (BPM) of my ‘perfect pace’ song. Perhaps this isn’t that new of a concept, but it is new to me and has revolutionized the way I look at distance running. I found this website that allows you to calculate the beats per minute of any song. 

Click here to visit the site

With your music playing, click the little white box between the ”  > < ” and use any key to tap to the beat of the song. Usually, within the first 20-30 seconds, you get a sense of the average BPM of the song. 

From there, it is 100x easier to figure out whether or not a song will be good for your run. Hopefully this little tidbit will help you improve your runs in the future!!

This is my ‘F%&#-yes-i-just-ran-6-miles’ face ;)


Asian-Style Salad Jars: Your Next Weekend Food Prep! [RECIPE]


I cannot believe it’s September already. Where did the summer go!? As I sit here looking out my living room window and writing this post, I can see the leaves on one of the trees turning from lush green into golden-yellow and pinkish-red. Soon enough, all I’ll be seeing out my window is bare, leafless trees! And then it gets cold. And then it’s winter. Some of my favorite fruits and veggies are out of season, and therefore more expensive. And that makes for a very, very, sad Elyse. 

Along with the month of September comes the busy school year – the commencement of not only school, but all extracurricular activities. Whether you’re a college student, a parent of elementary age children, or a careerperson, this recipe is a great way to make sure that your lunches are healthy, fresh, and delicious! (And pretty!!)

In order to eat clean & healthy as much as possible (80-90% of the time), you should probably cook your own food. You don’t always know what restaurants and cafes are putting in your food! EAT ALL THE VEGETABLES. ALL THE FRUIT. ALL THE PROTEIN. ALL THE TIME. FOREVER. NO TREATS FOR YOU!

lol, jk

HOWEVER, if you’re a normal functioning member of society and go to school/work/have kids, you know that to cook three wholesome meals a day can be just a little egregious. On the other hand, downing a quick cheeseburger and fries, while convenient, leaves you feeling sluggish and unsatisfied later on. Food prepping is the way to go, my friends! It can be a tough habit to develop at first, particularly if you don’t like to cook, or can’t be trusted with sharp objects, like me. (True story – I recently cut my thumb helping my neighbor cut potatoes. Oops!) In the end, it is well worth the effort.

I saw the idea for salad jars from this youtube video from BakingMadGymAddict and I fell in love! I’ve really got a thing for mason jars. They’re so old-fashioned looking, functional, and they make me feel cozy! Literally, perfect for any seasonal food – tea, coffee, salad, oatmeal, fresh fruit, anything! 

This particular youtube video, the Ultimate Guide to Salad Prepping in a Jar, had some really great tips for whenever you want to use this particualr food prep method:

  • Salad dressing on the bottom
  • Wetter, heavier ingredients on the bottom
  • Lighter, drier ingredients and greens on the top
  • Use pre-washed greens to make sure that you don’t get any excess moisture in the jar
  • To help absorb any extra moisture, fold up a paper towel into a small square, place it in the lid of the jar, and screw it on tight!
  • When packing in the greens on top, gently ball them up and use up as much of the negative space as possible
  • Make sure all of your veggies have dried after washing them (you may need to assist in speeding up the process). If using cherry tomatoes, don’t slice them before putting them in the jar since they are a very moisture-dense food. 
  • A prepped salad jar will stay fresh for 4 days – possibly more depending on the ingredients. You can prep up to 4 at a time if you eat one each day! :)
  • I purchased my 1500 mL mason jars from Hobby Lobby ($2.69 ea.), but I’m sure you could find them at other craft stores as well. Try not to get anything smaller, otherwise you won’t have enough room!

I had a lot of fun making these salad jars and taking these photos – plus I got to go to Hobby Lobby and pick out all kinds of fun things! BONUS! I probably spend too much money there. I don’t have a problem or anything. But wait, like – can I just live there please? Can I have all the things in Hobby Lobby? Kay. 

I spent a lot of time working on my food photography skill set today, so you are going to ogle these photoes and you are going to LIKE IT. Plus, look at all the gorgeous fresh vegetables!!!

I was really excited to use fennel seed and celery seed – I’ve never cooked with them before and was excited to see what kind of flavors they would bring to my culinary repertoire! 


 For visual reference, this is the part of the bok choy that we will be sautéing





The finished product – all ready to dig in!!


Asian-Style Salad Jar
Yields 4
Original Recipe by Elyse Franco - Concept Adapted from BakingMadGymAddict
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
55 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
55 min
For the Sesame Soy Vinaigrette
  1. 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  2. 1/2 cup coconut aminos (If unable to find the aminos, 1/4 c. low sodium soy sauce)
  3. 1/4 cup rice cooking wine or rice vinegar
  4. 2 teaspoons arlic powder
  5. 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  6. 2 teaspoons sesame oil
For the Sesame Ginger Chicken Marinade
  1. 4 chicken breasts, raw
  2. 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  3. 1 teaspoon onion powder
  4. 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  5. 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  6. 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  7. 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  8. 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
  9. Dash of salt & pepper (to taste)
  10. 2 Tablespoons rice cooking wine
  11. 3 Tablespoons coconut aminos
For the Salad
  1. 1 cucumber, sliced (cut slices into fourths)
  2. 1 package of baby corn (about 1.5 cup) chopped into chunks
  3. 4 stalks of Bok Choy (stalks chopped & leaves chopped - separately)
  4. 1/2 sweet onion, finely chopped
  5. 3 bell peppers, chopped
  6. 1 1/2 cup snap peas, cut in half
  7. 1 cup matchstick carrots
  8. 1 radiccio
  9. 1 package of baby arrugula
  10. 1 package of water cress
  11. 1 cup roasted, unsalted cashews (chopped)
  1. 4 1500 mL mason jars
  2. Cutting board
  3. Knife
  4. Grill or oven
  5. Stove
  6. Bowl (for chicken)
  7. Fork
  8. Frying pan
  9. Spatula/wooden spoon
  10. Leak-proof container (to shake vinaigrette)
For the vinaigrette
  1. Combine olive oil, coconut aminos or soy sauce, rice cooking wine or vinegar, sesame seeds, garlic powder, and sesame oil in a small, leak-proof container. Vigorously shake the container until mixture is blended well.
  2. Store in refrigerator until further notice.
For the Chicken
  1. Combine garlic powder, onion powder, ginger, fennel, celery seed, cloves, sesame seeds, salt, & pepper in a small dish and gently sift until combined.
  2. Place chicken breasts in a separate bowl. Poke them all over with a fork.
  3. Add coconut aminos and rice cooking wine/rice vinegar. Use a your hands or a spoon to incorporate all the juices.
  4. Lightly dust the chicken on both sides with the seasoning blend, and grill or bake until finished. (about 20-25 minutes in the oven at 425 degrees, or 17-20 minutes on the grill at medium-high heat)
  5. Place the chicken on a plate in the refrigerator to cool. Once chilled, dice chicken into small pieces.
For the salad
  1. Drizzle a little olive oil in a skillet and set at medium heat. Add your chopped sweet onions and sautee until they begin to caramelize. Add chopped bok choy leaves and sautee until they wilt - no more than 2 to 3 minutes. Store the bok choy on a plate in the refrigerator to cool.
  2. Utilize the time while your chicken is cooking to start chopping your vegetables. Don't forget to check the chicken! :)
When your chicken and bok choy sautee are cooked and all of your vegetables are chopped, place them in the jar in this order, from the bottom up
  1. 2 Tablespoons vinaigrette
  2. Cucumber
  3. Baby corn
  4. Bok choy stalks
  5. Bell peppers
  6. Bok choy/onion sautee
  7. Snap peas
  8. Diced chicken
  9. Matchstick carrots
  10. Radiccio
  11. Water cress & arrugula
  12. Chopped cashews (optional)
  1. You might have to a tiny bit of finagling to get the lettuce in at the end - use up as much 'negative space' as possible without crushing your greens too much!
  2. You may also have to, at times, gently press your ingredients down into the jar so they use as little space as possible. Don't worry, your salad will still taste delicious :)
Adapted from Ultimate Guide to Salad Prepping in a Jar
Run 2 Your Own Beat

 I hope you all enjoy this recipe and can incorporate it into your weekly food prep! Or if you don’t food prep already, hopefully this will give you a way to get started!! I love food prepping because it helps me feel productive and focused, and it makes me feel confident that what I’m putting into my body is good for me! Put good in, get good out!!

What would you like to see more of on Run 2 Your Own Beat?

Email me at with questions, comments, and suggestions!

Half Marathon Training Progress [Endurance Leg Workout!]

Happy Hump Day! I like Wednesdays. I like them because Thursday comes after, and what comes after Thursday is Friday! I love a good Friday :)

I wanted to talk a little bit about my half marathon training thus far. I signed up for the Runner’s World Half & Festival on October 9th at the Steel Stacks in Bethlehem, PA. This will be my first ever half marathon, but my second year participating in this particular race series. Last October, I completed the 10K (my first 10K to be exact) and was so proud of myself! You can read more about my 10K experience here.

Unfortunately, I haven’t run more than 5 1/2 miles since I did that race. I don’t know what it is. Perhaps it could be the lack of having a ‘real’ reason to attain the goal of a longer distance. I decided that I should probably stop making excuses and give myself some real motivation. I signed up for the half marathon, and there is no going back. 




I’m. SCARED. I’m extremely nervous and I won’t be able to sleep well at night if I don’t run that entire distance without stopping. I’ve never really had to train like this for an event before. I was never a hardcore athlete in high school, or even as a kid – I’m in uncharted territory! :O

Let’s recap my runs for the past week:

Wednesday 8/27: 5.1 miles in 1:01:22, 12:01 min/mi pace

I was feeling okay the first 1.75 miles, but then I started to feel a little pukey. It may have been because I’d just eaten a banana and almond butter before I left the house, but I felt that I needed fuel before a longer run like this. I did a run/walk type thing until about mile 3, when I pulled it together and finished the last two miles an 11 or 12 minute pace without stopping. I was glad I conquered the distance, but not too happy about the fact that I didn’t fuel myself properly to endure.

Thursday 8/28: 3.32 miles in 38:34, 11:38 min/mi pace

This run ended up being relatively unsatisfactory as well. I still hadn’t fueled myself right and felt some stomach upset throughout the run. I found myself stopping 4 or 5 times, and switching between fartleks and walking and jogging. Started to feel discouraged at the idea of ever being able to complete a full 13.1.

Friday 8/29: Leg day. 5 minute walking warm up, 1 mile of fartleks. Endurance training with squats and deadlifts, and strengthening stabilizer muscles in the lower leg compartment. (Descending weight, ascending reps)

I decided that I needed to focus more on muscular endurance trainign in the gym, instead of trying to lift heavier, for fear that I would put on too much muscle mass and it would be harder to run for distance. I’ve also been doing a lot more core, abs, and stabilization exercises due to some articles I’ve seen stating that a stronger core can help improve pace and endurance for runners. After treadmill warm up/intervals, the workout went as follows:

10 squats @ 95 lbs

20 squats @ 85 lbs

30 squats @ 75 lbs

40 squats @ 65 lbs

50 squats @ 55 lbs

1 set x 7 reps @ 135 lbs

Between each set:

10 stability ball scorpions

15 leg lifts


20 plank side-to-side hip dips

10 deadlifts @ 115 lbs

20 deadlifts @ 105 lbs

30 deadlifts @ 95 lbs

40 deadlifts @ 85 lbs

10 deadlifts @ 65 lb5

Between each set: 

10 stability ball pikes

10 weighted side bends (each side)

20 weighted stability ball ab pulses

Calf press using leg press machine (3 x 30)

Finagled the leg extension machine to target the anterior compartment of my lower leg (3 x 12)

3 sets of 30 leg extensions (10 reps lower range of motion, 10 reps upper ROM, 10 reps full ROM)

This was a KILLER workout, and I burned around 900 calories. Holy cow!! I espeially liked it because the times when my heart rate was moderate and when it was very high were appropriately varied.

Saturday 8/30: 45 minute spin class

After the previous day’s leg workout, I was TOAST and definitely not feeling running.

Sunday 9/1: Rest day

Monday 9/2: 4.2 miles in 43:37, 10:26 min/mi pace; core & shoulder workout at the gym

This is the day I really felt an improvement after that one day of muscular endurance training on Friday. I ran at a local park that has a 1 mile loop and a .6 mile loop. The 1 mile loop has one big hill in it towards the second half of the mile. When I’ve run there in the past, by the time I get to the big hill, I definitely feel muscle fatigue in my legs even the first time going up. During this particular run on this day, however, I did not feel any muscle fatigue at all the first 2 or 3 times I went up the hill. I know this run wasn’t my best distance, but I felt my best overall. I stopped a total of 3 times, but it was within the last .75 mile or so because it was so hot and humid out. 


So – conclusion? I should do more muscular endurance and core training. Despite not being a seasoned athlete, I want to do my absolute best in this half marathon, and hopefully run in more half marathons in the future. We’ll see what this week brings with regards to training! 

Stay tuned for a tasty, on-the-go healthy recipe coming this Friday!! :)

Have you ever trained for a half marathon?

How did you avoid feeling discouraged after a bad run, or several bad runs?