Monday, July 28, 2014


{Last week's Neon Dash Giveaway winner is... Leigh!  Congratulations!} 

On my birthday bucket list is the dare to PAINT, and that's just what I did last night!

You see, I always loved art when I was younger, and I would draw and paint right through my senior year in high school.  Then... nothin'.  Somehow life took over, and my sketchbook ended up in a cabinet in my bedroom in my parents' house.  Nowadays, whenever I do find myself doing something artsy or involving paint of some kind (like a paint-your-own pottery type place), I get such a creativity high that I'm sad when it ends and yearn for more!

Art is an enjoyable form of PLAY for me, 

So that's how "paint" ended up on my list, and a no-hassle way to dip my toe back in was by taking a class.

My friend Becky and I went to Painting Lounge in Brooklyn (there's also a Manhattan lounge--which is BYOB), where we were set up with easels, canvases, paint, brushes, and a model to follow.  The relaxed, funny instructor walked us through the steps to create "A Walk In The Rain".

The small studio had a very laid back atmosphere (that I likely took too seriously; I was, of course, the last one to finish) that caters to all artistic abilities.  The instructor was also so flexible and encouraged us to be creative or original as we felt we needed to be.  ("You want a purple sky?  Excellent.  Need the leaves to match your sofa?  Go for it.")

It was so much fun mixing colors, playing with brush technique, and finally stepping back from the canvas to take a look at the finished product.

What better way to spend a Sunday night?  It was a fun evening with just enough learning of technique, but basic enough that we all could do it and have a good time.  I definitely want to go back to make another, or maybe even whip out my own my mom's old paints and get crafty.

How do you make time for "play" activities you enjoyed as a child?  

{For other ideas to engage in healthy PLAY, check out the Mark's Daily Apple post: 15 Concrete Ways to Play}

I dare you to... :)

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Features

It's been a while since a Friday Features, so I've got a couple interesting and informative links saved up.

I'll kick off with a popular video from this week, demonstrating how an ingenious French supermarket made deformed produce popular:

Speaking of fruits and vegetables, a recent meta-analysis of over
300 studies found that "organic food as more antioxidants, less pesticide residue"
... and no one should be shocked.  Duh.  To learn more, visit the Huffington Post.

Then, Marion Nestle evaluates the previous study and asks whether
nutrition is even the right question.  Read her Food Politics post to learn
other good reasons people choose to eat organic foods.

Mark Sisson analyzes "The 'Dangers' of Going Gluten Free".

More questionable links between fat and heart disease
are explored in this Wall Street Journal article.

Similarly, The Angry Trainer answers, "Is red meat really bad for you?"

Further disrupting "conventional wisdom", 
learn about the darker side of cardio exercise in 
"Cardio's Eight Dirty Little Secrets" by the Poliquin Group.

So if cardio isn't great for your fat loss goals, 
has ideas to replace your old cardio routine.

This is from the spring: I still love this touching post by
Carla Birnberg on "The Importance of Mattering."

Just yesterday, Carla wrote a post for the Eleven+ blog that
we all should read: "Accepting Compliments 101".

And, last but not least:
Don't forget to enter the giveaway for FREE entry to 
The Neon Dash 5k!  
Walk, run, or dance to the finish line in this bright race's NYC debut!
Learn more and enter here.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Slow down but don't stop

Time for another quick running update on my journey to my first 10k race!  And this one was HUGE for me!

If you follow me on Instagram, you may know that...

 I recently ran my longest run to date: 
5 miles!  


Here's how it happened: A couple weeks ago (late blogging sorryyyyy), I went for a run with Eric.  As a former cross-country runner, has the training training instilled in him.  My goal was really only 3 miles, but he was set on 5.  I thought we'd compromise at 4.  As you can tell from above, we didn't compromise.

From the start, he continuously reminded me to slow down.  Instead of exhausting my energy early, he kept me going at a steady pace, consistently moving but not racing.  He pushed me further, encouraged me to reach a certain landmark before turning around, and upped my goal for me.

"You can do it," he urged, even when I wanted to stop.  He knew that it was mostly mental and that I didn't need to take a break.  "You're talking, you're fine, keep going, don't stop..."

And so on and so forth and ...

When we reached our starting point where we finally slowed to a halt, it had been 4.7 miles. Even though our course was completed and Eric would permit me to finally walk back home, I said No!  Now I need to finish 5! 

So we kept going.  And I did!

The run was not fast, but I ran it.  Five miles, steadily, no walking breaks, and I survived!  I didn't think I could, but I did it. He With his help, I pushed my limits and exceeded my own expectations.  Who knew I could do that?

Trying to reach a new distance? 
Dare YOU to slow down.  Make it happen slowly at first, and work on speed later.  Prove to yourself what you are capable of, and you'll reach your goals before you know it.

Slow and steady wins the race, and I had the first flicker of a belief that I could finish my upcoming 10k race.   It felt amazing to accomplish something new, which brought me back to why I started running in the first place.

So that's that!  This week I ran 2 miles on Monday, 3.5 miles today, and I'm aiming for a 4-miler on Friday.  Gotta prepare for next week's Neon Dash 5k!

In the meantime, you can win free entry to The Neon Dash's NYC premiere! Enter the giveaway here.

What have you done lately to challenge yourself?  

Dare you to... go longer/faster/farther than you thought you could!  :)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Update and Upcoming Neon Dash in NYC! {Giveaway}

Hey friends!

Since I decided to get back into running and sign up for my first 10k race, I've been upping my running game a bit--not quite as much as I'd originally envisioned (yet), but a bit.  If you follow Dare You To on InstagramTwitter, or DailyMile, you may have noticed my runs and walks.  Earlier in May and June, I was so excited to get outside for some open-air runs.

However, by the end of June and now in July, the heat has been prohibitive and runs were exhausting.  When the weather is right, I've still successfully gotten out in the morning or evening, trying to avoid peak heat hours. I've been able to cover my target distances, but I'm moving far more slowly than I used to!  It's hard to tell if this is due to the heat or this year's lack of training, but it's probably a combination of the two.

To give myself some extra running motivation, I signed up for an awesome race that is making its debut in New York City this summer:

August 2, 2014

When I was invited to participate, the timing couldn't have been better:
  • It's a month and a half before my 10k
  • It's the distance I know I can confidently complete
  • It'll be at night, so heat won't be such an issue
  • I've always wanted to participate in a colorful FUN run like this
  • It's going to get me into the race-running spirit again! 

What is the Neon Dash?  According to its website:
"The Neon Dash is the Original Nighttime 5k Run and Walk Event that's been sweeping the Country since 2011!  Become a part of the show when you run, walk or dance this 5k course as you're covered in brilliant Neon Colors! Add to the entire experience by dressing in costumes and wearing anything that blinks or glows!  Thousands of glowing Participants will light up the After Dash Bash filled with UV Blacklight, Music, and Entertainment!  Don't miss this Event of the Year!" 
Learn more by clicking here.  

As a participant, you are making a donation to the chosen Charity Partner and you get a Runner's Bib, a T-shirt, a headband, and entry to the "After Dash Bash."

I am so excited! 

YOU can join my team here: Dare You To Dash

Don't YOU want be part of this colorful crowd?!?!?

NOW is your chance!  Dare you to enter below to win a free race entry, and THIS could be you:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

AWESOME!  See you at the finish line :) 

Have YOU ever participated in a bright, colorful race like this?  What was it like??

Have a great weekend :)

Dislaimer: I was invited to participate in the race free of charge for myself and one winner of this giveaway. I am not being otherwise compensated, and the opinions expressed above are my own.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

pack one bag: Apera Tech Pack {Review}

I know my posting has been sporadic at best, lately, but I've happily been keeping busy doing, living, working, enjoying...  It is summer, after all!

What have I been up to?  

Some work...  A little travel...  Plenty of gym time...  Several weddings... A bit of downtime...

It's been fun!  In the back and forth, the work and play, the home and away, having a do-it-all bag has proven essential.  Such a bag is tough to come by.

I used to have a different bag for everything:

They all sort of suited their individual needs well enough... even if they didn't all have satisfactory organizational interiors and my items ended up a mess inside.  Then, a greater problem arose when I needed more than one.  I was a bag lady!

It sort of worked, but hardly well.

Now, if I'm setting out for the day--or the weekend--and need to carry a bit of everything, I can rely on one bag to fit and organize (!) it all.   In my recent gym trips, bus travels, and beyond, I'm glad to have something that has made all situations more manageable: my Tech Pack.

Apera Tech Pack

I am in love with this bag.

Its official description paints the Tech Pack as "the versatile, do-whatever-you-need-it-to backpack," and having used it for a few months now, I couldn't phrase it any better myself. The Tech Pack transitions seamlessly from work to the gym to class and more.

This is the most versatile bag I own, with an additional benefit, to boot:

Apera designs "healthier" bags and backpacks:
"Apera bags are designed to be healther -- with built-in antimicrobial product protection to inhibit the growth of bacterial odors, separation of your wet, sweaty gear from your dry stuff, and venting air to keep your bag dry and suppress odor."   -

My old gym bags undoubtedly accumulated more germs than I care to think about, and I cringed every time I put fresh clothing into the same space previously occupied by my sweaty attire.  Apera's antimicrobial material will help put my mind at ease.  The antimicrobial protection resists odor, the vented pockets will allow air to flow, and the wipeable lining and separate washable insert will make cleaning it a breeze.  It's nice to know that my bag help can keep itself--and its contents--clean, whether at to the gym, the library, or the train. 

And I do bring it everywhere!  Here are a few of the reasons why:

It has side pockets, just the right size for shoes--sneakers or heels!

It comes with a separate washable bag to stash wet or dirty clothes or shoes.

It's got a deep water bottle holster on each side, and grip-like straps that prevent sliding on your shoulders.

No falling out or sliding off!

Something neat that I've never seen before is the extra handle on the bottom that allows you to pick up the Tech Pack from either end (or both!) as needed for a heavy load.  And, if you're traveling, there's also sleeve that secures the bag right over the handle of your suitcase!

The front pockets allow easy access to the things I need...

...while the hidden back pockets and padded interior dividers protect those things I want inaccessible.


These pockets are one reason I feel safe carrying this on my back, even around New York City.  I have my old school backpack, but I never wear that around the city for fear of pickpockets.  The Apera Tech Pack, however, has pockets designed to keep your valuables temporarily out of reach.  


The bag comes in 3 color options, but I like the black because it maintains a professional appearance.  Several times, now, I've brought the Tech Pack to work, stashing heels in the shoe-size pockets, my iPad in the padded pocket, and stacks of books in the main interior.

Plenty of space for books or clothes
 Large mesh pocket for pencils, chargers, jewelry, anything!

It packs so much, yet is so ligh on its own.  Finally, a bag that doesn't add its own weight.

As the ultimate test, I recently packed the Tech Pack as my ONLY "luggage" on a recent weekend trip to Philadelphia.  I was impressed how the slim bag expanded to fit my needs.  Instead of the books and electronics shown above, I filled the Tech Pack with--yes, my iPad--but mostly clothing, shoes, and my travel toiletries.

Apera Tech Pack
EXPANDS to fit everything!

Using this backpack left my hands free to manage bus tickets and my phone.  It balanced its weight across both my shoulders, unlike the weekender I used to use that left one side aching after five minutes.  It made the trip easy and comfortable.

Further, I never had to worry about my toiletries spilling onto my clothes (they were in separate zippers) or into my bag (easy clean material! No worries!).  Bonus: while living out of my bag for the weekend, I wasn't left wondering where things were or digging under piles of stuff to get the one thing I need.  The pockets, zippers, and compartments ensured that everything had its place, and nothing got lost or became messy.

Want to see all these features in action? Check out Apera's video demonstration below:

Like other Apera bags, the Tech Pack helps you keep your items organized and clean.  Having a clean bag is a must, especially in the city, and even moreso when frequenting less-than-clean public gyms and locker rooms.  That's one reason why their Performance DuffelYoga Tote, and other gym bags--all made with the same antimicrobial product protection--are so popular!

Which bag is right for you?  Head over to to explore your options--and colors!!  Dare you to...

I had no idea how great this "backpack" would be until I tried it, myself.  Now, I can't imagine another comparing!  In fact, I'm going to load it up right now with my work books and my gym clothes so I can have a productive day without needing to stop back home.

Do you keep your gym bag clean?
How do you pack for a full day out and about? 

Dislaimer: While I was given the Tech Pack free of charge from an Apera representative, the company in no way required, scripted, or edited the above post. The thoughts expressed are 100% my own. For more information, see my disclaimer page