Flexibility is the traveler’s best friend 

Just after I posted my pack like a pro post and headed to bed, I was awoken less than 2 hours later to an automated call from American Airlines. I never leave my phone on loud when I sleep and from now on I will be doing this on purpose before traveling  since this accident was in fact a blessing.

My original flight from Atlanta to Chicago had been canceled and American had already rebooked me on a flight to Chicago, but through Miami. Yuck. I hate the Miami airport. It’s always packed and is a disaster to navigate around groups of people who have no idea what they are doing. (Thanks to a few years of traveling for work I now have become an airport snob and pick my favorites for layovers. MIA is not on this list). Also, Miami is not at all on the way to Chicago. That route would have landed me in Chicago 5 hours AFTER my originally scheduled flight. Blah. 

1am doesn’t seem like a great time to make travel arrangements, but at this point I was trying to get home around the same time as my mom was landing from LAX and my dad from Japan. We’re such such a traveling family..ha! Well, I had one option that I found online through Philly, so I called the number on my AAdvantage card and asked for an agent. That flight was sold out, but I could be rebooked through New York LaGuardia and land roughly 15 minutes before my parents arrived IF I was willing to leave for the airport at 3:30 for a 6am departure. Also to be noted, the connection time at LGA was only 45 minutes. Enough in the minds of employees, but even 5 minutes or so could delay a bag from transferring to the next flight, or worse, a longer delay could cause me to miss my connection altogether. Trust me on this.. Anything 45 minutes or less gives you a 50/50 shot of both you and your luggage making the next connection. I once traveled to Birmingham, Alabama through Charlotte and had to have my bag delivered to me at 5am the next day. At least I had clean clothes to wear to work. Also note, airports will not deliver luggage to private residences after hours, so you’ll have to wait until they can get to you unless you’re staying in a hotel in which case they can deliver at any time. 

*It can also help if you book your seat as far to the front of the plane as possible to cut down on disembarking time and give  you more time to reach your gate. 

After rearranging my flight, my new wake up call was exactly an hour from when I got off the phone with the agent. I decided I needed to shrink my luggage from regular to the smallest option I had so I knew I could carry it on and avoid the luggage transfer debacle. (The only thing worse than being delayed is having to go back to the airport several hours later for your luggage). I woke up my husband to ask him if he could take me to the airport two hours earlier and I laid in bed pretty much wide awake until my new alarm went off. 

330am might seem really early to leave for the airport when you’re only 30 minutes away. However, I am still trying to figure out the Atlanta airport and the best and worst times to fly. Having spent the majority of my life flying out of O’hare, I could almost always count on a window period of 3 hours to allow for leaving home, fighting traffic, parking my car, checking my bag and getting through security. More often than not I had plenty of time on the other end to grab a bite, buy a book, etc. 

From the minimal experience I have had at ATL, I know the first flights of the day (anything in the 5:30-7:00 window) mean lots of passengers and long, long lines. Today was no exception. At 4am, all the major airlines had exceedingly long lines to check in and curbside lines were flowing into the road. Thankfully I didn’t have a bag to check anymore and I had my boarding pass on my mobile app. I was able to scoot past all these wait times and enter security. Well, Atlanta is also only operating from ONE checkpoint currently. Yes, the busiest airport that boasts having traveled over 100 million passengers last year is feeding everyone through one line. There’s also no priority lane for first class or status fliers and the TSA pre check lane doesn’t open until 5am. Therefore, before 5am, no matter who you are, you and everyone else will be entering the same maze of security and will be fed into one of many channels. I made it through in under 25 minutes, however as I peaked over my shoulder the lines had grown immensely as all those baggage checkers had moved over to the next stage of their journey before getting to the gate. 

The hard part was done.  The only thing I had left to do (and that I recommend you do as well if you’re making a tight connection) is get ahold of the terminal map for your layover. Spot the gate you’re landing in and the one you’re departing from and make a mental note of how to get from A to B). Some airports require a bus or tram to get to the next terminal while others allow you to walk the distance. It helps to have a plan of action before you get there so you can hit the ground (maybe literally) running. Luckily my gates are only 3 doors apart. And knock on wood I think I’ll make it just fine. 

This could probably throw anyone into a tizzy and it did indeed stress me out a bit, but to make up for the uneasiness I decided to use two of my earned upgrade stickers to arrange a first class seat and soften the blow of an earlier flight, a new route with layover, and a day ahead of me on only 2 hours of sleep. Plus free breakfast and coffee out of a real mug don’t hurt either. **remember in my last post how I said to dress yourself appropriately for flying? You’ll have an easier time of being upgraded in tight situations if you’re dressed the part. Gate agents don’t want to put Mr. Plaid PJs and Miss yoga pants and flip flops next to their best paying customers. 

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. And it goes a lot more smoothly if you have a flexible mindset. We’re just about to touch down in New York! I’ve been blogging from the sky. Happy Thursday. 

Pack like a pro

It’s no secret that I both love and need to travel. I love going places for fun, and for the last three years, my job has requried a LARGE amount of travel. I think between 2013-2014 I went on upwards of 80 flights, set a record of 16 nights in the same hotel room, and had a wheels up, wheels down routine of less than 24 hours at home down to a science. I get a kick out of standing in line for “priority boarding” with a bunch of grey-haired-suit-wearing men trying to nudge me out of place with their “what are you doing in this important people line” body language. Hey, I earned that spot just like you did… By flying a heck of a lot.

As I write this I’m packing for a trip back home and I realized I truly have a routine that I follow and learned over the course of the last few years. I jotted down some of my recommendations below:

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Friday favorites: Rest week

Sooooo. With just one more distance run left in sight before me and the Hotlanta Half Marathon, I am in my last true “down” week in distance. This week was a 6 mile run, next week 10 and then a taper week before the race. I got out and ran my 6 yesterday and was feeling so thankful that’s as far as I had to go.

I am reaching the familiar point of flat lining in my training. I am tired, beat up and a little bored. It’s harder to fit these runs in and with the weather getting hotter it’s just all around more exertion. I’m thankful that I can see the big day in sight.

That being said, I am seriously pondering continuing forward with more and more distance in an attempt to run the full marathon in September. I kind of want to take a small break and see if I can rejuvenate and get back on the happy train to running town. There are some things I didn’t really see coming my way when training this hard and this long (almost 12 down, 20 to go…32 weeks in total if I complete it). I’ve bulleted them below:

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Let’s Eat: Salty Sweet Pecans

I feel like I’m on an endless journey of finding the perfect snack to settle my sweet tooth. I’m also trying to choose better snacks to handle my midday cravings. I know nuts are full of healthy fats, fiber and protein, but they also need to be eaten in moderation. A handful of nuts can pack many nutritional benefits, but also tons of calories! Plain nuts aren’t very sweet and I don’t often feel like buying the fancy individually packaged flavored kinds (they can get super pricey!), so I figured I would make up something of my own. They smell and taste pretty darn good, but I’ll let you be the judge of that should you try them on your own by following the recipe below:

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Challenge met & accomplished

So for 14 days now I have been dairy free. Living a life without milk, cheese, butter, ice cream or yogurt wasn’t exactly hard, but it wasn’t super awesome either. I read accounts of people losing weight, having cleared skin, basically feeling like a whole new person. I’m going to level with you here… I don’t have that J-Lo glow. I also have been eating an insane amount of fruits and vegetables instead of cheeseticks, greek yogurts, cereal, and ice cream for dessert. So I truly relay any shift in the scale to those healthy swaps rather than omitting dairy altogether. Not having any major skin issues to start, my skin looks the same today that it did two weeks ago.

So was this all worth it? Sure! I’m always up for a challange. I learned that my body hasn’t really been having any adverse reactions to dairy that needed clearing up. Perhaps when I reintroduce the food group back into my diet I may notice something, but right now I feel pretty much like the same old me.

One takeaway that I will promote for going dairy free is I do feel less “heavy” after meals that would have normally been topped with cheese. But, on the other hand, sometimes I don’t quite feel satisfied after eating a meal, either. If a restaurant doesn’t have avacados on hand, then eating nondairy can get kind of bland (in my opinion). Plus, eating inordinate amounts of the same food to make it try to be something else doesn’t always work either. Note: I actually didn’t eat that much avacado. At all.

Secondly, I did learn how to make better choices. Instead of reaching for ice cream after dinner, I had a piece of fruit. I also swapped fruit for my yogurt in the day, or had a banana and peanut butter instead of a semi-never-ending bowl of Special K after work. Not being able to have a staple in my diet allowed me to broaden my horizons and probably cut out some calories indirectly.

And thirdly, if I’m going to have ice cream, I’m going to go for it. I don’t want to have any of that stand-in almond milk bulls**t. That little pint is still sitting in our freezer, which is saying A LOT for someone who can’t keep ice cream around for very long. I will however continue to buy almond milk as I enjoyed the substitution (but missed the protein content cow milk offered).

I plan to try a few dairy items here and there this week to see how I feel. If for some reason I have a severe “reaction” or epiphany, well, you’ll be hearing about it! Happy Monday!

And in sum,  I really want to get me one of these now. Thanks instagram for always providing great temptation. FullSizeRender.jpg

Friday Favorites: Full HIIT workout in <25 minutes

Some days the last thing I want to do is give 30-40 minutes of my day to a workout. Or longer if I have a distance run planned. It can get so monotonous and boring to do the same routine week after week. That’s part of my problem with yoga. I get bored and my mind is always checking the clock to see when we will be done. This week, I broadened my horizons on Fitnessblender.com to see what I could accomplish in under 30 minutes that would:

  • meet some strength requirements
  • be a full cardio workout
  • burn a minimum of 200 calories
  • work a majority of my body
  • use minimal equipment

The great thing about FitnessBlender is that you can put all of these requirements into their search function and it will display videos that meet your criteria. I happened to find a video called “When I Say Jump”.

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Holy cow. Not only did this video go by quickly, it got my heart rate up HIGH (180+ at times). I didn’t have time to be bored because each exercise lasted only a minute before you were on to the next one. No equipment was required and I am STILL sore on Friday after doing this Tuesday. Jarob even commented–in an extremely sarcastic fashion– that he couldn’t wait to try that workout with me “next time.” He gazed over from the kitchen in awe as I truly sweat it out (we’re talking mascara dripping into your eyes type of sweat), and kindly offered to get me a glass of water to have during one of my 10 second breaks between exercises.

There truly is no equipment for this workout. Just your body. But I STRONGLY suggest having a towel nearby. If you try it, let me know what you think! It is a fat blaster for sure and will make you question your sanity.

Also, sidenote, been dairy free for 11 days!

Let’s Eat: Low calorie pumpkin muffins

So fall has been over for more than six months, or it’s coming up in less than six months, half empty or half full? Regardless, pumpkin flavored things aren’t bombarding the grocery store shelves, so when I have a craving for something pumpkin I have to make it myself. I did a little research online and found that you can make wonderful pumpkin muffins with just 2 ingredients- spice cake mix and canned pumpkin! Heck yes!

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One week dairy free

So I decided last Monday morning would be my first official day purposely avoiding dairy to see how and if my body responded. It actually has not been that difficult to avoid including these items in my diet. In fact, I think it’s made me make wiser choices toward more whole foods. For example, I can’t have ice cream after dinner anymore, so I reached for the fruit if I needed a sweet fix (I tried almond ice cream, but I think I need to wait until more time has passed to truly think it’s “good”). And I actually have been avoiding chocolate and items that include dairy for the most part just to see what this is like if you’re staying uniform in the process. Outside of making wiser choices with what I put in my body and having to retrain my pantry reaching habits, here’s what my top thoughts are:

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Forks Over Knives

After struggling with a bit of a cold in our house, we laid reallllly low Saturday night. We were in PJs by 7 and pondering what to watch on Netflix shortly after. For some reason I can’t get back into the groove with Breaking Bad, though I know we will soon here. I wanted something different to watch. We decided on the documentary Forks Over Knives. which details how eating processed foods and foods from animals (meat, dairy, eggs) can increase rates of cancer growth, diseases such as diabetes, obesity and more.

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Neither of us are Vegan –in fact Jarob believes the world’s most perfect food is a Cheeseburger and I have pledged my love continuously to ice cream. Having been true outsiders to the idea of plant based eating of whole foods, we were definitely enlightened by what they had to say. I took notes from during the film (my Intro to Film class at IU made me an expert at typing and watching movies at the same time) and I want to share with you some of the some huge key points I took away. I’m rather mindblown by these statistics, and after I share them with you I’ll let you know where Jarob and I landed with our opinions on the “doctors orders” and how to implement their tactics in your lives.

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Cross-Training

You can’t run every single day of the week without getting super bored or overtiring your muscles when training for a half or whole marathon. Somewhere in there you have to take rest days and cross-train days. I get antsy on rest days (unless they’re after a distance run, then I don’t even want to take the stairs in my own home). But on cross-training days, the sky is really the limit as to what you can do to increase your aerobic threshold or general fitness level without compromising the muscle groups used in running or adding more pounding motion to your joints.

Since running is mostly cardio, I try to add a strength aspect to my cross-training days. I never did strength before the past year and a half. I considered cardio my end all be all. But, I noticed significant changes in my body (i.e., muscle definition) when I added strength into my routine even one to two days a week.

Before our wedding, I really amped up the strength workouts (I wanted defined arms for my strapless gown, as well as to be in the best possible shape for our big day.. and bikini ready for Aruba). Since finding a website I love for fitness workouts at home during wedding prep, I have continued to utilize it to this day to help in my crosstraining efforts.

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