Why I Run on an Empty Stomach and Nursing School Update

Since I started running 2-3 years ago, I always do so on an empty stomach. Morning runs are always my best and I think the reason I always did so well on my evening runs were because I had a running partner to distract me.

From poopy cramps.

Yep. As I mentioned here, I've had a run in with runner's trots. It's only happened a few times, that one being the first, but I quickly realized it happened when I ate something and then ran. Now, not everyone needs to run on an empty stomach and I'm sure having some fuel before a run can be great, just not for me. The other day the weather was amazingly gorgeous - cool, sunny, and breezy - and the Nugget was in school so I decided to go for a run.

Bad idea. In my head, I planned to do a 5k, on my Nike app I set it for 2 miles, in reality, this is what I got:

1 mile and what appears to be a crap face. Ha! The worst part is was I still had to walk the mile back to my house. I've learned that slow and steady will ease up the urge for me, so off I walked home. I'm hoping to get another run in soon but the weather has been rainy lately. Hubs did fix the treadmill, so I guess that's an option, just not one I love.

In other new - a nursing school update! 

So I never made a formal nursing school update, so here it goes. Last December my financial aid ran out. I had petitioned previously and it was on a semester-by-semester basis. They decided no more and we simply didn't have the funds to cover it. Not to mention, I wasn't sure an RN degree was exactly the right path for me given my personal values. I went into nursing school hoping to help moms and educate them about their choices. Sadly and as expected, it's doctors rules in the medical world and many things were done and told to patients that violated what I felt to be morally right. Not to mention plenty of research showing that certain things were wrong (for example, a mother asking an OB if it was ok for her to be on hands and knees to push and OB told her no, the best position was to be on her back - LIES!).

It was just hard for me to swallow a lot of things in my OB rotation. I asked nurses about some of the things, and they expressed their frustration but inability to really do anything. It made me hesitant, so the lack of financial aid seemed like a sign.

I recently had dinner with my nurse friend, Barbara, and she informed me I may be able to sit for the LPN exam with the nursing education I had received. I did a little research, a lot of work, and some serious emailing, and I'm happy to say I received approval from my nursing program to sit for the exam. Now I've just gotta wait for approval from the FL Board of Nursing and then I'll be doing some serious studying.

I will admit, I've had some desire to work lately, and while it's certainly not what I was expecting, I'm looking forward to the ability to hopefully work someday and see what happens from there with my nursing career.


Making Low Carb Foods That Everyone Can Enjoy with Party 'Tizers Chips & Mrs. Thinster's Cookies

I received a sample to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own.

Now that I'm back on Keto/low-carb, social gatherings can be hard. There's usually many a carb-filled snack or sugar-laden dessert just begging to be eaten. New Years Eve was my first social function and I decided to bring stuff that I made. In the past I always went to store and picked up something pre-made, but that simply wasn't going to cut it. Everyone completely devoured what I made. The key was providing some healthy carb options as well to go with what I brought.

Here are some of the things I made:

Cheese chips! These things were brilliant. I've made cheese taco shells before, so figured I might as well try to do the same with chips. I simply took a cheddar string cheese and cut it into 12 pieces, put it into a mini muffin pan sprayed with cooking spray and baked at 350 F for about 5 minutes. I let them cool and voilĂ , I had my own "chips" ready to dip.

I'll admit to being stingy with my cheese chips, but I brought along Party-'Tizers Veggie Dippin Chips for my carb-friendly friends. I love that there's a healthy version of dipping chips out there. So often we've relied on other brands that are full of junk, GMO's, and are overly processed. The Party-'Tizers chips are all Non-GMO and gluten-free, not to mention they taste great and have a nice crunch to them.

I also made some amazing buffalo chicken dip and stuffed mushrooms as well. The mushrooms were filled with Italian sausage and lots and lots of cheese. The buffalo chicken dip was simple to make - just used a cup of shredded chicken, 1/2 cup homemade buffalo sauce, 1/4 cup blue cheese dressing, and put it in a crockpot.

Since no party would be complete without dessert, I also brought some Keto Cheesecake Fluff. I seriously could not stop eating it. The fluff was so rich and creamy, and yet light and for lack of a better word, fluffy.

While I'm good to just eat it straight off of the spoon, my friends prefer to dip. I added some Mrs. Thinster's Cookie Thins along the outside and provided a big bowl of them for people to grab and dip. They were a huge hit because you got the great taste of a cookie while still being able to enjoy the cheesecake dip. Once the dip was gone, people were just eating these plain. The best part is, they're also Non-GMO, contain no artificial ingredients or preservatives, no corn syrup, and are RBGH free. 

I've learned the best way to enjoy myself at a social gathering is simply offering to bring something (or many things). I don't know any host that would object to having food brought and it's a great way to ensure you help stay on track. This really holds true for any diet, low carb or otherwise. Bringing something that you know you'll like and won't throw you off your diet makes it easier to have fun at a party without worrying about what you're eating.

Do you usually bring your own diet-friendly dish to a party? What's your favorite party food?


5 Quick and Healthy Foods to Keep in Your Home

I received a sample for this post from Smart Flour Foods. All opinions are my own.

Even though I'm on a low carb diet and have no problem spending time in the kitchen, I love convenience foods. Nothing really processed, of course, but simple things I can just pop into my mouth or can make in about 15 or so minutes when I'm just not in the mood to cook. Here are the 5 things I always have ready to go in my house.

1. String cheese. I don't care what time of day it is, I will always happily eat some string cheese. It's a great source of protein and keeps me full for a snack. I usually just throw one into my purse when I'm heading out for the day.

2. Nuts. Macadamia nuts are my current favorite right now. These are filled with healthy fats and they  just taste so good. If I can, I buy my nuts in the 100 calorie packs or a I measure out a serving on the food scale and put them in my own bag. While they're tasty, they're addictive and I could easily just sit down and finish off a whole bag.

3. Quest Bars. I know not everyone likes them and frankly, there are a few of their flavors I just can't do, but these are seriously one of my favorite things to have on hand. I'm OBSESSED with the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough flavor and I usually eat these after running or going to the gym. I love that they're low carb and high in protein and if I can enjoy one warm out of the microwave, even better.

4. Dark chocolate. I know most people don't consider chocolate a health food, but there are many health benefits to good dark chocolate and it keeps me from wanting to binge on junk. I usually eat one square after dinner and it satisfies my sweet tooth. I normally get the 72% dark Ghiradelli, but have been known to buy the 80% before, too. It is somewhat of an acquired taste, but I love it.

5. Smart Flour Foods Pizzas. While I realize this isn't a low carb food, on my carb up days every 2 weeks, this is what I'm craving. I do make cauliflower crust pizzas, but they're just not the same as the real deal. And these pizzas are most definitely the real deal.

When I do have carbs, I like to go gluten-free and avoid wheat. Their pizzas are made from ancient grains making it more nutritious, and in my opinion, more delicious. The texture is great and it really does taste freshly made. I've had many a frozen pizza and they usually taste like, well, frozen pizza. These taste like I made them myself because the ingredients are high quality and it's not full of processed junk.

There are so many nights I cook, but sometimes I just want something easy and the Smart Flour Foods pizzas are the way to go for us. The pepperoni is by far my favorite because, hello, who doesn't love a good uncured pepperoni free of nitrates and nitrites. They even make pizza dough so you can create your own pizza as well.

What quick and easy foods do you always keep on hand?


New Year, New Me + Spartan Race Giveaway

I was provided with a free code to give away from Spartan Race. All opinions are my own.

The New Year is here and I seriously cannot believe I'll be 30 in less than 2 months! While I know I won't meet my weight goal, I certainly plan on losing some weight between now and then and getting fitter. It's amazing how many times I've yoyo'd with diet and fitness level, but this is the year I get my butt and gear and get serious about taking care of myself and my body.

As mentioned a few weeks ago, I plan to run 15 races this year. This is a lofty goal, but I plan to stick with it. My first 5k this year will be at our local charter school where my son will *hopefully* go when he starts kindergarten. A lot of my mom friends have kids in that school so we will all be running together. That gives me a good 4 weeks to get ready. The other week I ran 2.5 miles for the first time since April, so I'm feeling pretty confident I'm going to do well and be able to run the whole thing.

Another race on my list this year is the Spartan Race. I've honestly never ran one of these obstacle type races, and it just sounds like a lot of fun. Actually, it sounds a little scary and super challenging, but in a good way. I just want to push myself this year to be the best I can so a race like this sounds like a great idea. While I only plan to do the Sprint of 3 miles, they also have 8 and 12 mile courses as well.  They've added so much to their races beyond just the race itself including WOD for each type of race you plan to run (or even if you don't plan to run one, still a great workout) available on their website, a Spartan cruise in March, and there's a Spartan Up! podcast, too.

My diet is also going well so far. I did a Keto - low carb diet last week, took the weekend off for fun times with friends (it's our annual winter hunt camp trip, so I was expecting a carb and alcohol filled weekend) and now I'm back on track. I will admit, I feel decidedly less excited this go around about this diet, but I know once I get over the feelings of hunger and missing tasty carb filled snacks, I'll be happier about it.

Do you have any goals for 2015? Plan to run any races? 

How would you like to win a free entry to a Spartan race? I have one code to giveaway to a lucky winner. Be sure to follow the rules to enter and best of luck!


Three Kings Day and Pumpkinheads Book Tour and Giveaway

One of my favorite holidays as a kid was Three Kings Day. While yes, I did get another present less than 2 weeks after Christmas, but what made this holiday most special was I didn't know any other kids that celebrated it. Three Kings Day felt truly special to me because it was something I shared with my family, and now it's something that will be special to my son as well.

For those that don't know, Three Kings Day is on January 6, is known as the Epiphany and is when the three wise men travelled to brings gifts to Baby Jesus. While we are by no means a religious family, I love teaching my son these stories and traditions. On the night on January 5th, we leave out a small box full of grass for the camels to eat and the wise men leave a present in in it's place.

I remember how excited I was to jump to the foot of my bed and peer underneath to see what was left behind by the wise men. Sometimes it was something big like a doll, but other times it was a small gift. The smaller gifts were some of my favorite because I had just gotten the big things from Santa, so the small gifts like books were more special to me.

This year, instead of a toy, my son will be getting books under his bed. While toys are always a lot of fun, he just got so many and books hold his interest far longer than any toy would. I'm absolutely loving the line of books from Pumpkinheads. They teach some great lessons while still being engaging, so my son will be getting the set this year.

My favorite of their books is Ella's Toys. My son has always been a great sharer, but recently he has been keeping his toys to himself. We try to take a variety of things out with us to the park, but he usually hoards them and plays by himself instead of sharing with his friends. Ella's Toys is a story all about this and shows what happens when we don't share and why it's more fun to share. I know this will be a very relatable story for "Nugget" and will hopefully help him to let others play with his toys.

Right now they have 5 great girl characters in the book series, but there will be a release of two new characters, boys, that will have some great stories as well. I cannot wait to get these for my son because he loves reading about other little boys like him. All of the stories have a great message behind them and are beautifully illustrated with engaging pictures for small readers.

About the author: I'm a mom of three (a 12 year old boy, and 7 & 8 year old girls) and I've been writing and telling stories to my children for as long as I can remember. When I lost my own mother at a young age, I found myself combing through the letters that I had received from her over the years for nuggets of her wisdom and guidance. I thought about how amazing it would be to share some of her powerful life lessons through fun and simple children's stories. So I decided to take the leap and transition from my career as an attorney to pursue my passion. Pumpkinheads is based on the belief that messages matter. When you start early with little things, those little things can then grow into big things. Education is the most powerful tool for change and as much as we can lay an early academic foundation for our children, we can also begin to give them the tools they will need to feel good about themselves, know that their voices count, and know that they can do good in this world, whatever their chosen future professions may be! I also write short stories for adults, which can be found in several published collections. I live with my husband and three children in Florida.

How would you like to win the set of Pumpkinheads books for your child? Enter below to win.

Disclaimer: The participating bloggers may have been compensated for this post. No purchase is necessary to enter. One entrant per household, per address. Void where prohibited by law. Winner(s) will be contacted by email and have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. The sponsor(s) will be responsible for product shipment to winner(s) of this sweepstakes. This event is in no way administered, sponsored, or endorsed by, or associated with, Facebook and/or Twitter, Google, Pinterest. Contact brookedoesitall@gmail.com if you have any additional questions or comments.


H is for Hell and Why I'm Glad We Don't Co-Sleep

Time for Mom

In my son's 3 years of life, there are only a handful of times he's slept in our bed. Last night was one of them. I feel like I may fall asleep typing this because of it.

As a baby, Nugget had a pack-n-play in our room until he was about 10 weeks and then we moved him into his room. I didn't mind him being asleep in our room then aside from the fact that he was an incredibly noisy sleeper and I need it to be really quiet to fall asleep. Sure there were a few times I left him in bed after nursing him if it was close to morning time anyway, but it was rare.

Other times when he's been sick I've slept in bed with him as well, but it's usually starting at like 3am, not the entire night. Not too long ago he was really sick and waking up all night so at 10pm, I just brought him into the guest room to sleep so Hubs got get some rest.

The thing about sleeping with my son in bed is he has to be right on top of me...the entire time. He won't just peacefully sleep next to me, but wants to snuggle the whole time. Which is cute, until you can't fall asleep and then it's not.

Lately he's been coming into our bed when he wakes up around 6 and passing back out until 7 or so. That I can handle. Some early morning snuggles while in a half sleep, half awake daze. I've already had my required minimum of 6 hours of sleep, so I'm good to go at that point.

For some reason last night my son came in at 12:44. I told him to go back to bed and he cried and I was too tired to argue. We stupidly went to bed at midnight after watching a movie, so I had a total of 45 minutes of uninterrupted sleep. This was the first night I've experienced the sleep position know as H is for Hell. Hell it was.

There were multiple points of me being slapped in the face followed by me moving him more towards the middle. He would then wake up and scream "I don't want to be next to Daddy! Cuuuuuuuddle me!!!" Pretty sure my husband got a roundhouse kick to the face a few times as well. I'm not sure why it didn't occur to me to move to the couch, but that would've been a much better idea.

I know I used to crawl into my parents bed when I was a kid after I woke up and I'm totally fine with that, but the all night thing has got to go. I know some people love co-sleeping, but it is just not for us. While I'm a morning person and can survive the entire day sans coffee, I do need a good 6 hours of sleep to get there. Now Starbucks is calling my name and I've got a serious case of the grumps.

Here's to hoping for only 2 people in bed tonight (me and my husband, that is)!

Do you or did you ever co-sleep? Would love to hear your thoughts!


More Fun Elf on the Shelf Ideas Part 2

I've got 7 more cute and fun ideas for Elf on the Shelf. Since we go to Disney a lot we've collected a few popcorn buckets that were perfect to use with Buddy the Elf. There were some days that I really didn't get too creative, like putting him on a shelf, but we did have a few good days over the last 2 weeks.

All aboard the Polar Express!

Hanging with Darth Vader - can't go wrong with some Star Wars Elf on a Shelf.

Buddy had a kegger on the tree one night. My son just thought he was on the tree - thankfully I've got another 15 years or so before he knows what a keg is :)

Playing Xbox is always fun with your Elf.

All the late night flying left Buddy needing a good shave.

Tape together some candy canes and you've got the perfect elf sleigh.

He took flight on Dumbo! 

I'm kind of glad Buddy will be leaving in a few days and I've only got 3 more ideas to come up with. Please share any cute Elf ideas you've done lately :)