Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Keep up

Happy Thanksgiving! Hope you all had a joyous holiday with your family and friends, and got some time to ENJOY the long weekend.  I'll give my reminder from last year to Thank Your Body and all the wonderful, miraculous things it does for you on a daily basis. 

My Thanksgiving was lovely, thank you!  My mother hosted a delicious dinner, and I spent the evening surrounded by family--wouldn't have it any other way. The only thing missing was a dog, if anyone wants to send one my way. ;)  You're surely also wondering what we ate. One thing that there was plenty of: VEGETABLES.

And plenty of leftovers, which I put to good use.

On Thanksgiving morning after watching the parade, my mom and I took a walk around the neighborhood, and let me say: It was gorgeous! What a perfect fall day! The air was crisp and clean, leaves crunched under our feet, and I just barely needed the sweatshirt I'd put on.  Perfection!  I'd forgotten how much I enjoy just spending time outdoors in the fall, without any destination or deadline.  I hope you all got the opportunity for some fresh fall air this weekend, too. 

Today I re-dare you to Step Outside

Then we got ready, watched "Friends" Thanksgiving episodes, and soon the family arrived. My grandfather carved the turkey like a pro.

In addition to Thanksgiving, it was the birthday of my beautiful big sister!  I'm always thankful that the holiday brings us together to celebrate. 

Other good news - my cousin had a baby!  I'll let her be the one to announce it to you, though. But I'm thinking of them :) 

Over the weekend, I did a pretty good job of relaxing. Lounged around, shopped around, and discovered a new favorite nail color: SkyFall by OPI.

Regal, isn't it? 

Now, it's back to the real world, the daily grind, the packed schedule, and the blogggg.  So here I am! Gearing up for more dares now that the holiday season is really upon us.

Other new great things:

I have become a Greatist Ambassador! is this awesome website that is just exploding with information about fitness, health, happiness, and overall wellness.  I love it, and you will, too!  Go check it out and see how the Greatist Ambassadors can inspire you to be YOUR healthiest, "greatist" self.  But be warned: it's easy to spend all day clicking around that site. So much to learn!!  More on this to come.

I'm a Greatist!

This month, I've been doing CROSSFIT! I'm getting after it. I'm loving it. I'm feeling awesome. My busy schedule has my workouts down to two or three times per week, but I'm making the most of those days and feeling strong!  After all, Krysten reminds us that Strong is the New Sexy.  So I'll keep this up so long as I can afford it... which may taper off but I'm taking advantage for now.

KILLER WOD last night...
I was the Tin Man today.

Still been eating my daily sauerkraut.  Chris Kresser recently posted about becoming a fermentation ninja. Dare you to...

Also: Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean sent me all kinds of tasty goodies for winning the conclusion of her October Photo Challenge.  I had a lot of fun doing the challenges and snapping photos to share.  Now, I'm excited to have these snacks and ingredients on hand! ALSO!  Lindsay is now hosting the Elf for Health Holiday Challenge.  It sounds so so so awesome; it involves teams and challenges and everything good... but I'm spread a bit too thin at the moment to participate. But... I dare YOU to! Go check it out.  It's on a weekly basis, so very doable.

Final thought: Even if there's not a new post up on the blog, you can keep up with me on other platforms!  Get updates on food, fitness, fun, and other antics on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook.

I know my questions may seem a little overdue, but to my American friends...
How was your Thanksgiving weekend? Did you relax? Shop? Pamper? Work? Step Outside? 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Start a Conversation

The Canadian Cancer Society has a message for you: #YouAreLoved.

Step 1: Watch
  • You Are Loved by Fight for Life features three female cancer survivors, describing their individual battles and encouraging women to speak to their doctors.


Step 2: Listen
  • Cancer doesn't discriminate anybody
  • Don't live in fear; enjoy everything! Enjoy as much as you can
  • If you know something is not right, make sure you talk to your doctors.
  • Allowing people to support you doesn't negate the fact that you are still strong and abled.

Step 3: Start a conversation
  • Share this video and invaluable message with your loved ones.
  • Take their words to heart, and know that life can change at every corner.
  • Be cautious. Be smart.
  • Early detection is key. Seek a medical opinion if you've got any questions.
  • Don't waste time; do what you want in life, now.
Check out Fight for Life for more information.

I dare you to start a conversation with your mothers, aunts, friends, grandmothers, sisters, co-workers, and doctors.  Educate yourself about the symptoms and questions to keep in mind.  Spread the love to fight women's cancers. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Take Race Recovery Seriously

So you ran a race. GREAT!  But are you recovering properly?  Today, our racing season guest writer dares you to take your race recovery seriously.  Don't know how?  Amanda's got you covered:

Check her out!

Do you take race recovery seriously?

I see it all over the place—runners who run a race on the weekend and then are back out there pounding the pavement HARD a couple of days later. While I understand getting caught up in the race high, I also cringe when I see this happen. Why? Because recovery from a race is something we all need to take seriously.

Racing breaks your body down, even if it doesn’t feel like it. Even a short effort—a 5k or 10k, is enough to do some damage. Yes, you didn’t go far, but you did (I assume!) go hard. Respect that your muscles want some downtime.

What I recommend is that, for races up to a 10-miler, you take the week after a race fairly free form. That is, no specific workouts that you must follow. Instead, let your body and mind be your guide. Feel like running? Fine, but keep it shorter and easier than normal. Feel like sleeping in? Do it. Consider also some light cross-training, something like an easy spin on your bike or a swim.

Later on in the week, if you are feeling truly recovered, maybe try a couple of miles at tempo pace. But if you get into the effort and feel a bit sluggish, back off. Your body wants a bit more rest.

If you’ve gone longer than a 10-mile race, I suggest stretching your recovery out even longer. This is especially true for a marathon, which breaks your body down more than you can even detect. For complete recovery, it can actually take as long as a full month.

Again, I’m not saying stop exercising. But what I am saying is that in the days and sometimes weeks following a race, your body is at its most vulnerable to injury. Take your training easier and shorter than you would normally and let the muscles heal completely before you step it up a notch. Follow this approach and not only will you avoid injury, but you’ll likely come back stronger for your next race. Good luck!

Amanda Loudin

Twitter: @misszippy1


Thanks, Amanda!  It's too easy to revel in the joy of your accomplishment, but recovering properly is an important part of the process, too!  Dare you all to take her advice, and help your body heal, post-race. 

How do YOU recover after a big race?

Thursday, November 8, 2012


But actually.

I've been using Glide, but whatever you've got will do!

Dental floss. That annoying little string that seems much more inconvenient than it ever actually proves to be.  It's time to get flossing.

If you're perfect and floss daily, feel free to close the browser right now.  But if you're like most of the people I've spoken to, stick around.

I confess, I'm guilty of not flossing nearly as much as I should. I do it when I remember, which is rarely, or when I stumble upon the tiny containers, after the dentist gives me a new one, or when I am reminded of the benefits of flossing.  Now, understand, my teeth have been just fine.  My dentist has yet to comment on my gums or accuse me of not flossing enough.  However, I am no longer taking that to mean I'm in the clear.

These may make it easier?

Floss isn't just for getting that stubborn piece of food out from between your teeth.  It's a habit that leads to health in other ways. Let's see how:



Seems like a no-brainer, right?

This week, I dared myself to floss. Daily. I took out my little floss packs (like the easy-to-use picks above, or the string packs that my dentist gives me) and kept them in view near my toothbrush.  Every night before brushing, I made a point of flossing my teeth first.

But how, you ask?  Not sure you're doing it right?  Follow this step-by-step slideshow or watch the following minute-long tutorial video:

So, I made friends with the little box of string.  The first two times, my gums bled a bit. Not pretty, but it didn't really hurt, either. And then it was fine! My teeth and gums got used to it, and handling the long string of floss became less of a hassle. Like anything else, it's all about establishing a habit.

Did it make a huge difference in my life? No, not yet, but I like to think of what I'm preventing down the line.  Plus, I like going to bed knowing my teeth and gums are squeaky clean!

I'm going to continue my flossing routine, and I dare you to begin or continue yours!  

WebMD has a counterargument for every excuse, so NO EXCUSES!  Find that hidden little box, put it in plain view by your toothbrush or any location you'll see it and use it daily, and simply begin the habit.  It may take time and effort to start, but this is one habit that's worth getting used to.  Take care of your health! Give your gums some attention. Floss

Do you remember to floss every day? 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Keep a blog

Today is a monumental day in America, a day for the history books, a day for national pride, and a day for us in America and abroad to look back on the past year and see what's been accomplished.

I started a blog.

Sure, there's this election thing going on, and we cast our votes for the next American President, but what's REALLY exciting is that one year ago, I started a blog, and have since kept and grown it.  Dare You To... has been in existence for exactly one year. 

Happy "blogiversary" to me!

When I was somehow persuaded to finally create the blog and write my first post, I had no clue how much it would grow, take over my life, and take on a life of it's own.  I've met some amazing people--both online and in person--and learned so much about health, wellness, fitness, blogging, sharing, and the power of community encouragement and support.  Special thanks to my FitFluential family for helping me grow, and thank YOU, my readers, for sticking with my throughout my first year.  I look forward to the next!

In this year, we've become runners, transformed our diet, invested in proper equipment, tried new workouts, and met fitness celebrities.  Now you and I will continue to set SMART goals, make time for fun, and cook up a storm. Who's with me??

Rather than celebrating with a giant giveaway or fanfare, I simply want to thank you for sticking with me, taking on my dares, and inspiring me in return.   Your messages, comments, and emails letting me know what challenge you've accomplished or how Dare You To... has inspired you have touched my heart and inspired me, in return.

As a present to my blog, you can now get to Dare You To simply by going to, rather than through blogspot. Woohoo!

I'll also self-promote a bit my reminding you that you can find Dare You To... on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and DailyMile, or by clicking "subscribe" or "join this site" on the right side panel. =)  

Stay in touch!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Run When You're Not a Runner

Good morning!  Hope you're recovering well after the storm and its repercussions.  In case you missed it, last week on the blog we had a Motivational Monday, a (Paleo) Recipe Book Review, and the final post recapping the Live Lean Eat Green Photo Challenge. Be sure to look back on those!

Today in our running series, we've got Erin guest blogging about her experience running, as someone who is NOT a runner!  There was a day when I was not a runner, either, but she and I are both living proof that change is possible.


Hey everyone! My name is Erin and I am a vegetarian blogger over at Girl Gone Veggie. As a fellow FitFluential Ambassador and huge Dare You To fan when Meredith put out the call for guest bloggers to share their running stories I was really excited. I am not what I consider a runner, but lately I have been running and I LOVE it.

For a little bit more background about me, I am 22 years old, a senior in college majoring in marketing, and a year-long vegetarian! I started my blog Girl Gone Veggie last year to share my life and my journey to health with the world. If you knew me when I was younger you would have never guessed I would become a vegetarian later in life. While I never ate a ton of meat I hated fruits and most vegetables until I was 18 years old. I ate a lot of fast food, didn't live a very active life, and it showed. Last year I made the decision to start thinking critically about what I was putting into my body, and whether those foods benefited or hindered my health. I banned trans fats from my life and started eating boatloads of fruits and veggies. It's crazy to think I now crave them. To fill you in on how I got started running is pretty simple. A few months ago I had a serious urge to get in shape. (Getting engaged does that to you!) I wanted to create a cardio workout routine I could follow regularly, so I headed to my school gym for the first time. I surveyed all the cardio machines and took stock of my options. The stairmaster isn’t very exciting. The bikes always make one of my knees feel funny, like I can’t extend it fully. I never have knee problems so this is very odd to me. The elliptical always feels easy to me. I get in a great workout when I do it and sweat a ton, but I never find myself having to pull strength from somewhere deeper to get through a workout, to really push myself past my comfort zone and just keep trucking.

And then there’s the treadmill. The treadmill I have always avoided because it hurts. Running doesn’t come easy to me, I was always towards the end of the pack running the yearly mile in school and I would end it winded and hurting. I have friends who are amazing runners and I never understood why they put themselves through it. To me running is pain. One of my best friends is a running beast. As she told me running is the sport that is every other sport’s punishment. When teammates goof off or disappoint a coach they’re made to run laps or sprints. If you run, that’s what you do all the time. Running always seemed crazy to me, but I was serious about getting in shape and figured pushing myself to become something better should hurt. So I swallowed my pride that day at the gym, got on the treadmill, and worked on putting one foot in front of the other.

I knew before I did anything I needed to get fit with good running shoes so I did some research and ended up purchasing the Saucony Omni 11s.They are so comfy and perfect for my feet. I need a little support and stability when I run because I'm a slight overpronator. Other than buying shoes I didn’t really have a plan when I started running. I knew I could run for the length of a song before getting winded so I made a deal with myself. I’d run fast for one song and then speed walk the next. Everyone has ways of working out that work best for them, and for me giving it my all for one song at a fast speed and then getting to give 50% and decrease my speed for the next song worked. There were times I’d be running praying for the song to end. There are still songs that when they come on and it’s my run song I dread because I know they’re ridiculously long. But it was an attainable goal for me, a challenge that was hard but wasn’t so hard I couldn’t do it and wanted to quit. And it distracted me from looking at the time and the mileage. I just focused on running which was so important because for me my mind is half the battle. I love running on a treadmill. I’m out of the sun, in an air conditioned room, in a safe environment where my speed is able to be consistently set for me. There’s no cars, no cracks in the sidewalk, no rain or bad weather. I know most runners hate treadmills, but for me and the stage I’m at with running, I love them. Something that I knew from the get-go is that if you don’t play with the treadmill machines they can be a lot easier than running outside. Outside runs involve hills and inclines that you don’t experience if you run on the treadmill at 0% incline. So I never let myself do that. I set my treadmill to the hill mode or the variable mode, depending on which gym I’m at, so that my incline is always varying, regardless of whether it’s a run or walk song for me. 

I am not training for a marathon or some athletic event (although I’d love to be able to run a half marathon someday!). I’m simply running because the more I run, the more I like running, and the more I like how running makes me feel about myself. My running regimen was not created by a trainer and isn’t scientific in any way, but it is working for me. I’ve been running for almost two months now and I have made incredible gains and progress. I used to be happy with running a mile and I can now run longer than a 5k. As I get faster (this is relative; I am still not a fast runner) and feel my running becoming easier, I increase my walking song speed and my running song speed. I’m always adapting and always changing my workout to suit my needs which is keeping me interested and passionate about what I’m doing. I’m sure this will change within a few weeks, but my current running routine looks like the following: Running duration: between 30-45 minutes (depending on if I’m weight lifting afterwards) Running frequency: 3-4 times a week Running song speed: 5.5mph Walking song speed: 4mph Incline: varies between 1-6% Running is just like everything else, if you do it enough you eventually get better. I started off running the speed I’m now walking. It’s also gotten a lot less painful for me. My breathing is much more controlled and my face is a lot less flushed when I run, though I still sweat buckets. I find my legs feeling stronger and my mind much more focused than I ever did before. I may not be a runner, but I am running. And even though it’s on a treadmill, rather slowly, for pretty short distances, it’s still me getting out there and putting one foot in front of the other. And to me that’s all that matters. And that's where I currently am in my running journey. Thanks for letting me share my story with you. And a big thanks to Meredith for sharing her space on the internet with me!

Question of the Day: Do you consider yourself a runner? What type of running do you do?


Thanks, Erin!  You and I are similar in a lot of ways; I really related to and enjoyed reading your post. 

Dare YOU to follow her lead! You don't need to be training for a race to begin a running routine. Just get out there! Hit the road or jump on the treadmill, and just move your feet. You might surprise yourself! 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Friday Photos: October 26-31

Continuing my October Challenge here. See photo batch 1, batch 2, and big batch 3.

October 26: Tell someone why you love them.

I did.
We made it into a hangman game.
Highly recommended.

27: Eat a vegetable with breakfast.

28: Try to set a new plank PR today!

I'm inspired to start #plankaday

29: Make cookies with 2 healthy subs.

I made three

30: Try a new recipe.

That one was a hurricane-food fail, so tried this instead:

Recipe by Balanced Bites

31: Snap a pic of something beautiful! 

Sun emerging after the storm

This challenge has inspired me to use Instagram more, capturing random accomplishments, moments, inspiration, and beauty.  So follow along!

Looking for your own new recipes? Check these out!

Want to do something similar in November? Try THIS!

What are your typical baking swaps? 
How do you sneak veggies into breakfast?

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Make It Paleo

Earlier this month, I shared WIAW: Making It Paleo, where I told you about the Make It Paleo cookbook by The Food Lovers and showed you some of the recipes I tried out in my kitchen.  The response to the photos that I posted and have been tweeting and Instagramming have been great. People see these meals and think, "That's Paleo? That doesn't look so hard."  

And it's not! It's just delicious.  Now that I've worked my way through many of the recipes, I'm excited to give you a full review. 

I swear I only put Post-Its on recipes that
I REALLY REALLY REALLY wanted to make.

The book opens with a foreword by Mark Sisson. That was just about all I needed to see to be convinced that this would be a good book. He's one of my absolute top Primal/Paleo resources. When I have a question, I typically go to his site first; it is such a rich resource for all things health-related from a primal perspective, while still balancing out the "normal" of today's world. I highly recommend you check it out.

SO, the fact that he endorses this cookbook was a huge plus. Off to a great start.

Next, there is a very thorough, easy-to-follow Table of Contents listing the early resources and then all the recipes by type: Breakfasts, Appetizers, Entrees (meat, poultry, seafood), Salads, Soups, Sauces and Dressings, Side Dishes, Treats and Cheats.

The Introduction includes notes from Hayley's "Grandpa Buz" (a doctor) and from each author--Bill Staley and Hayley Mason.

Next, the book goes through an intro to Paleo, including... what it is, the food guidelines, a primer on meat and fish (the best way to go about purchasing quality products),
also on fruits and vegeatbles--suggestions for where to find the cleanest types, and a guide to seasonal produce.

There's also a really helpful guide to oils and fats. "Healthy fat is an essential component of the paleo diet," they begin, and then go on to describe the uses for various types of fats in cooking.  They elaborate even further on nuts and seeds and what types of "flours" you can use with them. There's also a table showing which herbs, spices, and seasonings go best on each: poultry, pork, lamb, seafood, and beef.

Then, after explaining some different cooking tools and tips, the recipes begin at last.

Almost 400 pages of recipes. Wow.

Asian Broccoli Slaw

Seared Artichokes!

More on this to come

Hello, delicious.
Banana Bread with date-mixture. mm mm 

Veggie Egg Bake

Brussels Sprouts!!! 

Butter Garlic Wings
I was never a wings person.
... until now? Wow.
The name of the recipe says it all.

Butternut Squash Soup
My first time making soup from scratch!
They made it so easy. 

Coconut-Nested Eggs
Creative and tasty.
I ate the first egg before I remembered to take a picture. 

Chocolate-Chip Cookies

Crust of EGGPLANT! 

Outrageously good zucchini lasagne

Coconut Flour
(Waffles and) Pancakes

The fluffiest Paleo pancakes I've had, yet. 
Make them.

Portobello Turkey Burgers 

I made the "Rosemary Roasted Turkey"
recipe with chicken breasts. Still good!

Paired the Rosemary Roasted Chicken with
Cauliflower Rice

Cajun Sweet Potato Fries

Is that enough for you???? Believe it or not, that's only a small sampling of everything the book has to offer.  Nothing has disappointed so far.

The work concludes with "Menus for Special Occasions," with a complete meal menu for events such as birthday dinners, specific holiday meals, "Summer Cookout," "Tex-Mex Night," and "The Big Game."  These would be fun to use when hosting a party.

And that's it!  Bill & Hayley really walk you through how to Make It Paleo, with delicious recipes that will keep you interested and satisfied. These easy-to-make, delicious meals prove that paleo is possible for anyone.  Learn more about the book here or go ahead and buy your copy on Amazon!   

But wait! The authors have way more to offer, too.  They've got an E-book to help you through your first 30 days of paleo eating. Check it out here.

If you're interested in a free, versatile tool to take these paleo recipes with you wherever you go, download their MyKitchen App.  With it, you can browse and save recipes, create meal plans and shopping lists, and optionally sync these with your online account.  Definitely worth trying out.

Make It Paleo

But back to the book:  If you're looking to try out some paleo recipes or want to experiment with the diet, this is a great resource for you! I dare you to learn a little bit more about paleo eating and this cookbook today!

Which of these recipes would you want to make first?

Dislaimer: I received the cookbook free of charge to review, but the opinions expressed above are all my own.