Cigna Blogger Cook-Off! Let The Fun Continue… (Part II)

cookoff with cigna

During the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend, I was invited to the Cigna Blogger (Challenge) Cook-off! Cigna is a global health service company that is dedicated to helping people improve their health, well-being, and sense of security. The event was held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. It was exciting to formally meet bloggers that I met or discovered through social media along with many new faces!

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Team Turkey Stir Fry1

 

Pascale Jean, Cigna Health Promotion Manager and nutritionist, kicked off the event! She ran Dopey by the way! After the introduction, we were split into teams. I felt like I was on an episode of Iron Chef! The challenge was for each team to create a meal fit for marathon training. We were given a protein along with an abundance of ingredients to help bring our masterpiece to life! Each team had their own Disney Chef to oversee them. Thank you, Rebecca!  We had all of the kitchen accessories and appliances we needed…so “let’s get it started” *in my MC Hammer voice*!

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superfoods

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Dicing like a BOSS!

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Kristin, Carrie, and I are ready for a taste test!

 

LET’S EAT!

I really need to say this…everything was AH-MAZING! Sampling everyone’s creation made it even more fun! From Team Turkey Stir Fry’s (you guessed it) exquisite turkey stir fry to one of the best vegan meals I’ve ever tasted! Let’s not even talk about the shrimp-n-grits. I think everyone is still raving over those grits! And the dessert! Oh…my…goodness—Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding! Divineeee!

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We had the pleasure of dining with two amazing people: Sarah from Sparkly Runner and her beau, Matthew! They were such a joy to be around. We chatted about everything during our meal: the fact that my husband was self-proclaimed support staff for the event, running, and so many other things. You would have thought we were old friends picking up without missing a beat. We already know they will be our Forever Friends!

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After we enjoyed our yumtastic meals, Chef Mickey arrived for a private Meet-and-Greet with all of the bloggers in attendance!

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cigna_PME7865This event was truly one of the highlights of my weekend! I am grateful for the experience that Cigna provided us and the opportunity to work with one of the leanest *pun intended* and meanest (I mean this in a good way) team: (Elbow Glitter, Katrina Elle, Run Knit Travel, Run All The Races, including Rebecca Bastian), and Maker Mother Marathon Runner). So many great moments: marathon training meal ideas, fun times with Chef Mickey, meeting fellow bloggers who encourage a healthy lifestyle, and being hosted by an organization who thrives on giving back to others! Thank you Cigna for the opportunity to share in this amazing event and being a company that makes a huge imprint on this world!

 

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The Cigna Team!

 

Stay tuned for Part III of my Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Recap! In the meantime, you can check out Part I here!

 


Cigna_logo4Cigna Corporation is a global health service company dedicated to helping people improve their health, well-being and sense of security. All products and services are provided exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation. The products and services include an integrated suite of health services, such as medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy, vision, supplemental benefits, and other related products including group life, accident and disability insurance. 

 “Cigna and runDisney share a commitment to inspire healthy living and active lifestyles across all ages and fitness levels,” said Lisa Bacus, Executive Vice President and Global Chief Marketing Officer at Cigna. “runDisney’s stature as one of the most respected race series in the nation gives Cigna and our customers and employees the opportunity to showcase our passion for community service. At the same time, we’ve been able to share inspiring personal stories of the customers, military veterans and so many others who have been part of our runDisney teams.”

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The majority of the photos in this post were provided courtesy of Cigna!

 

 

 

 

Now That We’re Acquainted…Hello 2015!

Happy New Year guys and gals!

So I thought I would at least get a good week in before I posted about my goals for the new year. I think my struggle with writing 2014 2015 is enough. We also, know that improving our diet and exercise habits are standard goals for life. It is, however, a great feeling to knock off one of your top goals for the new year within the first few weeks!

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Here are my randomly awesome goals for 2015:

2015 Goals

Complete my first FULL marathon (26.2 miles): Well, guess who’s having the most Magical start to 2015? I AM! I completed the Walt Disney World Marathon on January 11, 2015! What an amazing way to bring in the new year. I’m still on Cloud 9…you have no idea. I’m seriously still soaking it all in, as you can witness here. My runDisney WDW Marathon Weekend recap is coming soon!

Blog More Frequently: So I must admit, I didn’t blog as much as I would have liked in 2014, especially the last quarter of the year. I committed to marathon training and on most days, by the time I made it home, my eyes needed kickstands just to stay open. I can now shift my focus back to my blog.

Learn Spanish: I took French in high school and I don’t remember much at all…just that my teachers name was Mrs. Broglie, my French name was Arianne, and oui means yes. I do love watching French films (with subtitles); however, Spanish is where “it’s at”! Spanish is not a foreign language anymore and I feel with me living in the U.S., I need to familiarize myself with it. After returning from my visit with my Sissy in “Ellll-A” (aka Los Angeles) this past summer, I decided I was going to purchase a subscription to Rosetta Stone. Now that my schedule has freed up a bit, it’s time for me to pick it back up and practice being a good “estudiante”. The structure will eventually get there. Wish me luck!

Complete Six Half Marathons: It’s no secret that I love half marathons. It’s my favorite distance to run. I’m so excited to not have any pressing commitments, so I can have fun, run ALL the races, earn all the bling, and just enjoy running! I’m really excited that I will be running for a great cause this year, which I will share about later.

Learn How To Sew: So I’ve had this sewing machine up in my closet for over a year now. It’s time to dust that baby off and start creating some masterpieces! My name doesn’t have “Art” in it for nothin’.

newgoalsStrength Train + TRX: I’m no stranger to strength training, weights, etc. I started taking Body Pump (BP) classes back in 2011 and I enjoyed them. Then, I took some time off and decided to take on Shaun T’s 63 days of what? INSANITY! Thennn…I was introduced to TRX last year and I’m really excited to add it to my workout regimen. TRX is a total-body workout that uses gravity and your own body weight to give you an insane workout. It’s helps create a stronger core, helps build muscle, and overall increases fitness level.

Latin (Infusion) Dancing: I love Zumba! I seriously have the best Zumba instructor on the planet. Heyyy Marta! Her class is always packed with 60+ people and it is truly a dance party. I stopped Zumba while training for my marathon and I’m so happy to be back. I come from a dance/cheer background so Latin dancing gets me excited! I’m hoping to find somewhere I can take true lessons and learn the technical side of dances like the Merengue, Bachata, or the Samba! Who knows…you may find me on So You Think You Can Dance! Okay…maybe not.

I think goals are more attainable than resolutions. You don’t have to beat yourself up if you have a setback. Just keep pushing until you reach them! Happy New Year and make it an awesome 2015!

Do you have any goals for the new year?

 

 

The Core of My Live Well 360 Bag! {Review}

LW20asign1abcdeI’m a fitness gadget-gear junkie. I love any and everything fitness related and more than likely I have it in my fitness arsenal: jump ropes, weights, resistance bands, running shoes, hair pins, hair ties (yes, they are very necessary)—you name it. I have a fitness bag, but it does not keep my belongings organized. I kept looking for a fitness bag to cater to my needs and I didn’t have any luck. That was until Live Well 360. Thank you Live Well 360 for providing me your CORE bag for review. This bag could not have arrived at a more perfect time!

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What I love about my Core Bag:

For starters–It truly is…”The Fitness Bag Reinvented”.  It’s so stylish, comfortable, and functional! I also love the beautiful, eggplant color. I’m back and forth from the gym and/or the pavement and being organized is a must. The Core bag has nine pockets, a vented shoe compartment, and a soft seatbelt shoulder strap for easy carrying.

Let’s get to the core of this bag!

Can we discuss this amazing shoe compartment? I knew it was a winner when it could store my Hokas! I love how my shoes are taking up space in the compartment and there is still room for other items.

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This bag seriously holds everything! This is what I packed for my workout(s) this week: gloves, iTouch, Bondi Band, RoadID, jump rope, sports drink, resistance bands, tights, extra shirt and jacket, hair ties, heart rate monitor, shoes—and everything had its own, special place.

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After a run or gym session, my clothes are usually soaked. I love that the Core bag has a vented compartment specifically for my sweaty gear and running shoes. There was still room after adding gym clothes to the compartment.

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Look how perfectly it fits into a gym locker!

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My Core bag will be the perfect travel companion for my upcoming marathon weekend. It’s sleek, TSA compliant, and the signature liner will keep me inspired while I’m on the go!

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It looks like Mickey and Minnie are ready for Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend!

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Thank you again, Live Well 360 for providing me this amazing bag! With the holidays are right around the corner, a Live Well 360 bag will make the perfect holiday gift for the fitness enthusiast in your life! You may even want to reward yourself for all of the hard work you’ve done over this past year—you deserve it!

Check out Live Well 360’s current selection of bags (Tote, Core, Accel, Luxx)—and visit here to receive 15% off of your Live Well 360 purchase.

Follow the Swirl!

 

 

All opinions are my own.

 

 

I Returned To The Place Where It All Began

I seriously cannot believe it’s October, y’all! Where did September go? Well, I’m happy it’s here! With the start of a new month is a new beginning.

For those who don’t know, I’m a past Weight Watchers (WW) member. I was first introduced to Weight Watchers by my sister when she was in college preparing for pageant competitions. She was highly successful with the program and she is now a Lifetime Member. She tried to get me to try it several times, but I didn’t think I needed to. I was young and I thought I was “fine”. Not in a conceited way, but I didn’t think I needed anyone to tell me how to incorporate healthy habits or how to lose weight. That was until LIFE hit me…

WW Simple Start MPBBI had to make a change for me. Growing up, I was very active (cheerleading, dance, sports, band, etc.) and I never had an issue with my weight. I didn’t care about what I ate, drank, etc. The older I got, the more I discovered so many people were being diagnosed with diabetes (or borderline) or facing other issues related to an inactive lifestyle and poor diet and nutrition. That was the wake-up call and that’s when I realized I needed to lose weight, become more active, and practice healthier habits. I knew I wanted a different path so I had to create it. I joined Weight Watchers in 2008 and I had great success. I lost 55 lbs in seven months and I have the photo in my little black dress to prove it.

Fast-forward eight years later…

I’m older, much wiser…and I recognize the older I get, the harder it gets. Yes, it’s true what they say…things start to slow down after 30. I’ve tried it all and have come to realize that Weight Watchers really is a great fit for me. It just WORKS! People always laugh about Jennifer Hudson sangin’ with robust vocal thrusts in the WW commercials, but I say it’s because she’s happy that it really does work! lol Over the years, I learned so much from the program, meetings, and success stories and even when I’m off the program, I carry pieces of it with me.

Weight Watchers is the place where my journey to better health FIRST began. I always miss it when I’m away too long, but I’m happy to say, I have returned to my roots! It’s true what they say…diets DON’T work! Eating healthy and practicing healthy habits DOES! I need accountability and structure. “You snack it, you track it”…”You bite it, you write it.” I want to be the best ME and I’m excited to be a part of a program that encompasses the tools I need to help me make it happen. It’s a lifestyle change that will benefit me for the rest of my life. Slow and steady wins the race!

It feels good to be back!

 

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#TotalFit Challenge

Happy Monday! I just wanted to share a little bit about what I’m doing over the next few weeks. I’m participating in Mr. Shut Up and Train‘s 21 day #TotalFit Challenge! Rahman “Ray” Grayson (aka Mr. Shut Up and Train) is an Atlanta Personal Trainer and he and his team are committed to helping others meet their fitness goals, improve their appearance, lose weight, gain endurance, build muscle and self-esteem.

Mr. Shut Up and Train has created a free challenge to help kick-start you into your fitness goals. You can find the overview here.

So the question is…

What is your why?

My Why is…

I want to be the healthiest ME I can be!

I only get one body and I must take care of it. 

I want to be a better, stronger runner.

Who doesn’t want look good when they look in the mirror?

It’s not about being “skinny”, it’s about being FIT—and that’s what I strive to be!

I’m not getting any younger.

I am “preserving my sexy”!

My legacy starts with me.

Why not?

 

MrShutUpTrain“I am doing the  TotalFit Challenge because I am 100% committed to living a healthier lifestyle!”

 

Baseline AssessmentThe Baseline Assessment reminds me of the Insanity Fit Test. Yes, I completed ALL 63 days  of that insane craziness. Let’s just say the warm-up was harder the most workouts. I’ll be doing this tonight!

 

Sharing is caring! See others via social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest) who committed to the challenge by using the hashtag #TotalFit and #BeTheBestYou.

 It’s time to TRAIN!

 

Sweat With Your Sole 5K/15K Recap!

Marriott PeachtreeLast weekend my HB and I took a road trip over to the A (Atlanta) for the Black Girls RUN! Sweat With Your Sole 5K/15K! I won a contest for a free registration of my choice (5K or 15K). I registered for the 15K. For those who don’t know, 15K = 9.3 miles. Since the Women’s Running Series—Nashville and Walt Disney World Marathon was coming up, this would be a part of my training schedule.

 

welcome! We stayed downtown and our hotel was perfectly placed in the midst of restaurants, quick stores, etc. I’m so glad because parking was $20/per day (no in or out)—so we weren’t driving anywhere. It helped that the race start line was a few blocks away. After checking in and getting a few items from the expo, it was time to get some nourishment. The rain had stopped and the sun was out. Boy…was it HOT and humid! We walked a few blocks and found the Hard Rock Café. We were being greeted by chants of “Who Dat” from fans that were in town for the New Orleans Saints vs. the Atlanta Falcons game. WHO DAT! Yes, I’m a part of the Who Dat Nation. Not die hard, but I love the team and the city!

 

Race Day!

The race start time was 7 a.m. so BGR! Birmingham met in front of the hotel around 6:15-ish to walk over to Centennial Park where the race would start. We took our group photos, warmed up, and headed to the start line! By the way, Atlanta is a VERY hilly place to run (in my opinion and many others). I experienced it for myself back in 2013 when I ran the BGR! Inaugural 10K. You can read that recap here. This was the first year for the 15K, so I don’t think I really grasped what the course would feel like. It was so hilly, humid, and HOT! I see why most races are held during the cooler months. I started off strong with my long run pace, but before approaching mile 3, it was so hot and I couldn’t breathe. I was seriously thinking…I can just finish (not strong like I wanted to, but finish) the 5K. I kept pushing. It was a very hard course for me—so hard, I decided to walk the last 2 miles. I wasn’t worried about my pride, my ego…I just couldn’t do it and I wasn’t. I had given all I had at that moment. I was done. This was probably one of the HARDEST courses I’ve run to date.

I’m happy to say that I made it to the finish line! Had there not been any hills, I’m pretty sure it would have been a PB (Personal Best). I am happy that I stayed the course and did not give up. I know for the most part, running is mental. When you can keep pushing through the doubts, fears, humidity, leg cramps, the smell of BBQ, and everything else running through your head (there goes that mental thing again)…you’ve accomplished something.

  flat runnerI was excited to find a new Bondi Band to match my Sparkle Athletic shwings and shirt! My armband matched perfectly too! You can find them here.

 BTR1 BGR! Birmingham (Just a few of us)

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 swys3One more to go!

 wpid-img_20140907_151230.jpgI did that!!!

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BGR15K!!! Yes, I clean up pretty good. I EARNED this medal!!! And you know who else did too?!

 

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Instagram: heartbeat4many

This great woman (pictured above, R) completed the 15K with a smile on her face! If you could have seen the outpour of love and support as she crossed the finish line…it was beyond amazing! I cried like a baby because she showed me and everyone else witnessing that great moment that ANYTHING is possible! #TeamNoExcuses

 

And We’re Off…

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A little bit of “blurred lines”

It was a short stay, but it was fun while it lasted! Glad I had my HB with me to carry my bags while I was in recovery mode!

 swys1Time for some grub! We headed over to one of our favorite spots in Atlanta called, Gladys Knight and Ron Winans Chicken & Waffles! I’m pretty sure you’ve heard both of their names before. They are music legends! You can’t go to ATL and not stop there. We prepared to wait. I’m so glad I wore my compression socks!

 Gladys KnightsI had my usual…the “Midnight Train” + Mac!

 

GK Sweet Potato Cheesecake Dessert to go, please! Even though I felt like I earned it and wanted one all by myself…moderation = 1, Artney = 0. My HB and I decided to share a slice of Sweet Potato Cheesecake. One word…DIVINE!

 

Inspirational Moment!

If you didn’t know, Oprah Winfrey was in Atlanta for her The Life You Want Tour!  Then this happened…

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Instagram: officialblackgirlsrun

Co-founders Ashley Hicks and Toni Carey of Black Girls RUN! were honored at Oprah’s The Life You Want Tour! They were presented with the Toyota Standing O-vation Award by Amy Purdy (Paralympic bronze medalist snowboarder/Toyota brand ambassador)! What an honor!!! Congratulations Ashley and Toni on such a remarkable accomplishment! Being presented with an award by Mother O? It can’t get any better than that!

Thank you again, Black Girls RUN! for my registration and for creating such an awesome space for women to come together and celebrate each other! Also, congratulations to everyone who participated in SWYS14 Festival weekend and race! I love my BGR!

 

About Black Girls Run!

Many people have comments and/or questions about BGR’s name and how it came about…

The mission of Black Girls RUN! is to encourage African-American women to make fitness and healthy living a priority. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 80 percent of African-American women are overweight. BGR! wants to create a movement to lower that percentage and subsequently lower the number of women with chronic diseases associated with an unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle.

In March 2011, Black Girls RUN! launched more than 60 Black Girls RUN! running groups across the nation. The groups range from the most novice to the most experienced runner in hopes to educate African-American women about health and fitness and provide a support system to help them reach their goals. The movement has been extremely successful with thousands of women joining in and making a commitment to defy the odds and take charge of their own health.

Black Girls RUN! is open to women of ALL races and all levels (runners, joggers, sloggers, and walkers). This movement was created to change the statistics of African-American women by combating diseases, to get AA women active and moving, to provide education regarding fitness and health, and to show that black girls run! We would love for you to join us in helping put an end to the statistics.

You want to know more? Learn about Black Girls RUN! here AND join the movement!

 

 

 

Why Lisa Runs! | Fitspiration Friday

Lisa-winner

 Why I Run

By:  Lisa Frost

It’s plain and simple. I was never a runner. If it involved running, sweating, breathing hard—I went the other direction. As life evolved, I realized that my family and I suffered from different diseases such as diabetes and congestive heart failure. One day I took a different perspective on life. I realized that my family is in heaven and it’s just myself and my daughter. I desire to live a long and healthy life for her. I will beat the odds against diabetes. I desire to be a fit, fabulous, and a healthy mom! I confess in Jesus name that my daughter will not lose her mother to diabetes!

My journey began with a trip to Urgent Care, which could have possibly ended in a hospital admission. The doctor explained how high blood sugar could lead to coma or even death. I knew this already because I had experienced a diabetic coma and almost lost my life. If that were the case, my daughter would now be in this world without any immediate family. I had to make a change for the sake of my daughter, Elisabeth. I had to make a change NOW!

I didn’t have any fancy runner gadgets or fancy running gear, but what I did have was the determination and desire to run for my health, my life, and my child. I put one foot in front of the other and BELIEVED! So, I started ‘Walk B4 U Run’ with a local running group (Black Girls RUN!). Running has helped me decrease my insulin dosage and lose a few pounds. Needless to say, I am proud of myself. This gave me the motivation to do more!

Now, I have a passion to run! I am motivated to keep running. Running has opened many doors that have been shut for several years of my life. Because of running I now enjoy Pilates, hiking, and aerobics…just to name a few—but most importantly a new, healthy lifestyle. These were all activities that I never had a passion for. I now celebrate the benefits of running to improve my health.

I completed my ‘Walk B4 U Run’ program with a feeling of accomplishment. I can’t even explain how I felt crossing the finish line! The best thing about running is the universe opened up and delivered an amazing group of women in my life. Women who are positive, motivating, encouraging, and living healthy lifestyles.

Now I buy running apparel, run magazines, and gadgets that are simply amazing. I used to say, ‘I don’t like to sweat. I don’t have time’—but I know I need running for my health and that makes me a better and healthier person. I have achieved so much and have received medals and certificates that I now display proudly to let the world know I AM A RUNNER!!!!

 

“I run for my lungs.

I run for my heart.

I run for sexy calves.

[I run to wear cute Bondi Bands]

I run for fresh air.

I run to organize my thoughts.

I run to race.

I run to get away…

I run in the morning.

I run at night.

I run for goals.

I run alone.

I run in company.

I run to move forward.

I run to be in the moment.

I run for the cute shoes

that hide my beat up feet.

I run to sweat.

I run trails, I run roads.

I run on good days

and I run through the rough ones.

I run to be the strongest healthiest version of me.”

 

Congratulations Lisa on being one of our Bondi Band Ambassador #WhyIRun Contest winners! Your story is so inspiring! Keep running and sharing with the world Why You Run!

To find out more about Bondi Band visit www.bondiband.com

 

 

 

 

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