Archives for February 2017

Tampa Tuesdays: The Nutrition Factory

Last week, I was invited to a pre grand opening event at a new restaurant concept called The Nutrition Factory. It was built next to/kind of inside Powerhouse Gym in Tampa. I wasn’t sure what to expect, as I had heard about possible smoothies? Protein powders? Meals? Once we arrived and were shown around, it all became clear…clear that I loved this place!

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As someone who has been blogging about health and fitness for seven years, I was particularly excited, and equally skeptical of this place. Let me tell you something. The heart and the thought that went into each and every single thing truly shows in the product. We walked in and loved the hip and fun vibe right away. There was a long table to sit at as well as outdoor seating.

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The menu is broken down into proteins, grains, veggies, and toppings. You can customize a bowl, salad or wrap based on this, or choose one of their pre-created concepts. They even have a bowl named “the boring bowl”. HA!

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Knowing I wanted to sample several things, I went with a Junior bowl. I got chicken for my protein, brown rice for my grain, and the loaded it down with toppings like edamame, avocado, cheese, and almonds. I also had a delicious dressing on the side.

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You watch your food as it is prepared, and can customize as you go.

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There is NO LIMIT on the toppings which was the best part!

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There is also a smoothie station where you can get a protein shake, or a cold pressed juice smoothie. I had a birthday cake shake, and Bobby had a S’mores flavored one and one called the Hawaiian Pie. All were amazing! We also got to sample the cold pressed juice smoothies and they are packed with fruits, veggies, and vitamins. There are so many options!

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This is one of Bobby’s bowls. he may or may not have had two. It was just so good!

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The Nutrition Factory also sells lots of product in their store, at great prices. The walls were lined with pre workout, protein powder, and the like. One of the owners, Michael, took a lot of time with us explaining the different products, and even helped my husband figure out what would be the best pre workout for him to start taking.

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Michael also told me of a really exciting concept they are bringing in the near future. He knows a lot of gym goers like to meal prep, but keeping food fresh all week is difficult, and some people just don’t have the time. He plans to offer a grab and go meal prep area, where you can come in and just grab your grains, or proteins, or the whole meals, WITHOUT having to join a subscription service where you have to purchase so many meals a week or month. I love it.

You could tell that Michael is truly passionate about The Nutrition Factory, and has big plans for it. Expansion may be in the future as well, but he and his partner want to focus on getting everything right with this store before expanding. I really hope they do expand, as this location is a bit far from my house, but it is definitely worth the drive. I’m already thinking up custom ideas for my next bowl.

QOTD: Thoughts on this concept attached to a gym? What is your favorite protein powder?

Top 5 Overlooked Disney World Restaurants

Disney dining is a hot topic among vacationers. Sought after reservations are planned months in advance, menus are scoured, and pictures are researched. In a lot of searches, you will see the same restaurants mentioned over and over. Not only are (some) of these Disney World restaurants over rated, but a lot are near impossible to get into, especially for a last minute trip.

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In my experience, resort dining is often overlooked, but is some of the best food on Disney property. Also, these places have been known to take last minute reservations and walk ups. Check out my list below of five of my favorite hidden gem restaurants at Walt Disney World:

Name: Trails End Buffet

Location: Fort Wilderness Campground

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This buffet truly is “hidden” in the woods on Disney property. You cannot park directly at the restaurant, and instead must either park at check in and take an internal bus, or take a boat. The best way to describe this place is “comfort food”. As a born and raised southerner, I consider myself an expert on sweet tea. So far, Trail’s End has hands down, the best sweet tea, on Disney property. Also, since it’s not a character buffet, the price is very reasonable for an all you can eat. It’s usually pretty quiet, and we love sitting on the porch in the rocking chairs before or after our meal just soaking in vacation. If you want to relax, this is a great place to go!

Name: Kona Cafe

Location: Polynesian Village Resort

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Kona Café is right next door to the ever popular Ohana. On several occasions, I have been able to walk up without a reservation to Kona, even at prime dinner time. On the second floor of the lobby, Kona has a fun colorful open atmosphere, with a great menu. Since it’s on the monorail loop, you could even leave the Magic Kingdom, go eat, then go back to the part without wasting a lot of time.

Name: Grand Floridian Café

Location: Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

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This is another place I consider quiet and relaxing. We love getting a table by the window for breakfast or lunch, and enjoy the bright light that comes in through the tall windows of the restaurant. Off by itself in the back of the lobby, it’s away from the hustle and bustle of check in, and 1900 Park Fare. You can easily hop on the monorail or a boat to the Magic Kingdom, so it’s prime location is a huge draw in my opinion.

Name: Splitsville

Location: Disney Springs

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There are several reasons I love Splitsville, one being the birthday cake martini. Another great plus to this place is that it has a HUGE menu, so I’m certain you will find something for everyone here. Also, you can eat WHILE you bowl, which is pretty awesome and unique. My favorite is to ask to eat outside on the upstairs balcony. It has great views of Disney Springs, especially at sunset. Not to mention, since there is no admission to get into Disney Springs, you don’t have to have a park ticket to eat here. I have also walked up and been seated immediately many times.

Name: The Wave

Location: Contemporary Resort

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Another restaurant I picked in part to it’s great location. Just one stop after leaving the Magic Kingdom, this cool place off the lobby of the Contemporary has a very chill vibe. The drink menu is fun, and the options are plentiful. After you eat, simply walk the path back to the Magic Kingdom, or hop on the monorail to the TTC and go to EPCOT or back to the Magic Kingdom. So many options!

RELATED: Sign Up for my FREE My Disney Experience and Magic Bands E-Course!

QOTD: What is your favorite often overlooked Disney restaurant?

How to Start Running Even When You Hate It

I have been running for awhile now, and have gone through many ebbs and flows with my running love affair. There have honestly been more times when I hate running than times when I like it. I know that sounds like a horrible thing for a “runner” to say, but for me, it’s the truth and I’m owning it. I would MUCH rather sit on the couch and watch Hulu than go outside and sweat, be uncomfortable, and bored for an hour. However, the things I DO love are the benefits of running. For me, running is just the necessary evil to get there.

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I love the post run high, the extra energy it gives me, the calorie burn, and the competition aspect. I love the comradery with other runners, the race expos, and the bling. Some of you may be nodding right along with me, especially the beginners who feel like it will be impossible to ever get up to a “far/long run”, or feel like they love it. Unfortunate reality: you may never actually love it. However, that’s ok! You have two choices: 1.) Find something else to do 2.) Do it anyway because you love what it GIVES you, even if you don’t love the act of actual running.

I’m here to give beginners my best advice if you decide you do want to try out the running thing (even if you are currently hating it).

1.) Make a list: What is it you are hoping to accomplish with running? Why did you or do you want to start? Sometimes having a clear and concise reason can help get you moving when you want to take a nap instead. Maybe you want to lose weight, or maybe you just need some alone time. Some people start running to be social with a running group, and some want killer legs. All are valid reasons. You as an individual need to have a goal or focus on WHY you lace up or it may be stuff to stick with it.

2.) Start Slow: Trying to do too much too soon is not only overwhelming (and dumb! Injuries suck!) But it can cause you to give up before you have even gotten started because it seems too hard. Gradual build ups are best mentally and physically. Start with a walk and throw in a few 20-30 second jogs every now and then. Count mailboxes. Tell yourself you will run for ten mailboxes then walk for 20. Get creative but don’t over do it trying to get results faster.

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3.) Schedule your runs and keep track: I am a numbers nerd, and seeing my progress on a piece of paper (or in a spreadsheet for you non paper people) makes me want to keep going so I don’t “lose” my progress. Keep track of how long you go for, and your time. Also be sure to schedule your runs into your planner (or Google calendar, whatever my tech savvy friends are using these days), so that you will actually do it. Heck this blog started because I used it as an accountability journal. I said I was going to run in a blog post, so then I knew I had to follow through.

I have a set of free printables you can download and print out to help you set goals and keep track of your fitness if you want to check them out!

4.) Talk to a running friend: For some reason, we humans like talking to people who have gone through a hard thing that we may be currently dealing with, and have made it out the other side. It’s comforting to know we aren’t alone, and that success is possible. Find a running friend or online buddy who has accomplished a certain goal you want to reach (a time goal, distance goal, whatever!) and pick their brain. It will give you confidence you keep going!

5.) Picture that end result and just do it: I know this seems pretty basic, but it’s just truthful. Think about why you are doing this, then suck it up buttercup and run. You will feel better when it’s over. I have never regretted a run once I was finished. That’s a true story!

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Note: There are people who just LOVE running, and that’s awesome too! There have been times in my life I was that person, but overall, I have to really psych myself up for the actual run portion. I much prefer the results, the social aspect, the races, and the bling as mentioned before. We are all unique and different and that’s what is awesome! This post is not meant to knock anyone who truly enjoys the act of running, but instead to motivate those who are struggling some (or most) days.

Emma Kate Does Disney: Part 5

Today is my last installment of our trip, check it out:

This was our last full day at Walt Disney World (see what we did in part 4 here), and we were headed to EPCOT. Emma Kate had been saying she wanted to meet Ana and Elsa for WEEKS, so our plan was to arrive early, do the standby line for the meet and greet, and then do our fastpass for the Frozen Ever After ride later that afternoon.

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Emma Kate just so happened to wake up REALLY early, so we played on the playground at Saratoga Springs for a bit and then just decided to go ahead and drive over to EPCOT. We had NO idea they were letting people in early, so we got lucky with a short standby line for Ana and Elsa.

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We got closer and closer in line, and I started to hype Emma Kate up and get her ready to meet her favorite princesses. She said she was going to give them big hugs and smile pretty. Aaaannnddd this is what we got:

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She was TERRIFIED of Elsa and would not hug her. EK’s face just cracks me up! We moved on to Ana, and she warmed up enough to hug her, but she made it clear she was NOT happy about it.

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Bless it. Look at the side eye poor Ana is getting.

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I die. Of course when we left she said she wanted to go hug Elsa…too late kid. We will try again when we go back in April and see if it’s any different. I think Emma Kate was just a bit overwhelmed.

After the princess photos, we headed over to ride the Nemo ride, and then check out the aquarium.

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EK was going through a hardcore Nemo phase so she loved this ride.

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After this, we rode Living with the Land. This is always a favorite of mine. I’m a total nerd and love seeing how they grow their fruit and veggies.

We walked around the world showcase and got some food and wine offerings. My dad tried sushi in Japan, and we all got food in Italy, and I had a glass of alcohol. Emma Kate was starting to get tired from her early wakeup, but it was time for our Frozen Ever After fastpasses. Our plan was to ride the ride, then let her nap in the stroller while we ate some more food and walked around.

We got in the fastpass line, and right as we got up to the front to get on a boat (we were literally the next ones to get on)…the ride broke down. I kid you not. We were in the loading area, so we just stood there for awhile, me holding Emma Kate. They turned all the lights on, evacuated people off the ride, and people began leaving. About this time, poor EK started to fall asleep in my arms. I decided to sit down against the wall with my dad and just let her sleep. We had nothing else to do, so may as well hold our front of the line spot and wait.

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Because we were right where you board and no longer in the actual que, we had plenty of space and started talking to a cast member from Norway who had been here for a few months. He was a super nice guy with zero accent, and he said he had worked very hard on his English. We talked about the differences in our countries, etc. all while waiting for the ride to come back up. Finally, about 45 minutes later, they started letting people board. Emma Kate woke up and was very confused, but she got to see the ride.

We were all pretty tired by this point, but we had to make one more stop for my favorite drink.

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I couldn’t hold my huge toddler and drink my drink, so I put her in the stroller and she was NOT happy about it. She cried the whole way to the parking lot, which was super fun for everyone. Poor thing needed a longer nap.

We watched some football, took Emma Kate to the playground, and got ready to have friends over. A few years ago when we were staying club level at the Grand Floridian, my parents struck up a conversation with a nice couple and they have kept in touch. When we stayed at Saratoga four years ago, they come over one night and we BBQ’ed out by the playground and had a great time, so we did it again this trip!

Saratoga has a really nice covered pavilion with fans and picnic tables right next to the playground, we we all hung out while my dad cooked and Emma Kate could play. After dinner, they went home and Emma Kate went to bed. my mom watched her while my dad and I walked to Disney Springs (have I mentioned I LOVE the proximity of this resort to Disney Springs?)

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We walked through some of the shops and watched a show up on the stage. Then we decided to get ice cream from Ghirardelli and not tell my mom. However, my dad made a huge mistake and paid with his credit card, and my mom saw the bill when it came in so we were busted! Anyway, it was delicious, and a nice relaxing way to end out trip.

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The next morning, I got up early and went for a quick run before we left.  I had not had the chance to run the whole trip since I was with Emma Kate 95% of the time, but I didn’t want to pass up a chance to run somewhere different. I went out while it was still dark, and it was so nice and peaceful.

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After I got back and showered, we loaded up the car and started our long (long long) drive home. With it being my first time to take a toddler to Disney, I learned a lot.

It was Halloween, and we decided to stop and spend the night in Destin to break up the trip. We went to the beach that afternoon and Emma Kate was not a fan of the sand.

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I found out that there was trick or treating at the outlet mall, so that’s exactly what we did!

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The next morning we went back to the beach and Emma Kate hated it even more than the day before and wouldn’t step foot on it and wanted to go “bye bye”.

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We stayed out all of 15 minutes and then I took her to the pool while my mom and dad stayed at the beach. Confession: I will admit I was a little frustrated. I had so been looking forward to spending the morning on the beautiful Destin beach, and here I was, finally there, and I got to see it for ten minutes. Then I was stuck at the freezing pool (the hotel building cast a shadow on the pool) by myself just me and Emma Kate, cold and pretty miserable for over an hour, just being frustrated I wasn’t in the sun on the sand and had no idea when I would be back. I had my little pity party then got over it and we played until my parents came. We stayed for a bit longer, then headed up to the room to pack up and drive home.

We made a bunch of mistakes, and will know better for next time. While Bobby and I have only taken her on day trips to Disney since we’ve moved to Tampa, we have made adjustments and Emma Kate has done a lot better overall than she did in October. We will be taking her back in April for a few nights and I know we will have a great time!

QOTD: Have you been to Destin? Have you ever trick or treated at a mall?

The Best Blogging Resource Tools To Make You Money

I have been blogging for a long time now, but am a perpetual student. I literally learn new things every day, and that is what I find so fun and fascinating about blogging and social media. I have been lucky enough to make money from my blog over the years, but have recently stepped up my game to make my blog even more profitable. I feel like there is plenty of space for everyone in the blogging world, and didn’t want to keep my methods to myself.

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So, I decided to create a Resources page for my blog, giving you the best blogging resource tools, and pin it up in my menu bar for easy access. When you click that link, you will be taken to a page that lists out (and links to) many of the tools, programs, and websites I use to keep my blog running smoothly. I will constantly be updating it I’m sure, but it’s a great start for someone not sure what they could do to take their blog or social media accounts to the next level.

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RELATED: Get my FREE Social Media Manager Checklist

While I won’t go through every single one here as the descriptions on my resources page are pretty straightforward, I did want to gush a little about my new favorite. If you subscribe to my email list then you already heard about this (and are hopefully using it!)

I have recently been loving using Link in Profile for my Instagram account. (<—Affiliate link) For years, whenever I had a blog post I wanted my Instagram followers to know about, I would post a relevant photo, tell everyone to go to my profile and click the link to be taken to my blog post. That’s definitely a great thing to do and a way to boost traffic, but I got frustrated with having to go in and change that link every single time I wanted to redirect it to a new post. With Link in Profile, you don’t ever have to do that again (Halleluiah!)

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You have ONE link that is forever in your Insta profile, and when people click it, they are taken to a page with all of your photos that have links associated with them. From there they can choose what blog post to go to. (Below you will see my most recent Instagram photo that has a blog link attached to it. On this page you can scroll down and see more photos and click more links!)

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It’s awesome, super easy to use, and a great value for the price. During the free trial, I saw a huge uptick in traffic being referred from Instagram to my blog. (YES I said free trial! What are you waiting for?) It’s definitely been a game changer and time saver for me.

You will find links such as this on my resources page that can be a game changer for you, too. As always, feel free to email me at [email protected] if you have any questions. I love hearing from you!

 

PS- Can you take 10 seconds and fill out a poll for me? THANK YOU!

QOTD: What tools would you add to my resources page?

Emma Kate Does Disney: Part 4

We left off part 3 with the family heading to the Contemporary to eat brunch at Chef Mickeys. Since we had a little bit of a typical two year old behavioral issue at Crystal Palace, I was really hoping Chef Mickeys would be better, and not as new or overwhelming as her first character meal.

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Donald was the first to come around and she was pretty shy. She didn’t want to sit in a high chair or regular chair, so she was in our laps for most of the meal. She let Donald take a picture with her, but she wouldn’t hug him or stand by him.

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She did however get to watch the characters get closer and closer so I think that helped her to “warm up” a little bit. She LOVED Minnie mouse and got down on the floor to hug her. Minnie did a great job getting down to Emma Kate’s level which was appreciated.

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She really loved Pluto and his nose and “big tongue” the best though. She got antsy towards the end of the meal and wanted to run around, but overall she did way better than the Crystal Palace meal.

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After the meal, we walked around the back of the Contemporary out by the pool. I love that there is a little selfie station so everyone could get in the picture.

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When we got back to the resort, Emma Kate wanted to go to the pool (shocker), so my dad and I took her while my mom went shopping, since my mom had her the whole day before while I was house hunting with my dad. We may or may not have brought wine to the pool in Styrofoam cups. Hey, it’s 5:00 somewhere, right?

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I couldn’t believe the amazing weather we were having. It wasn’t hot at all for October in central Florida.

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We eventually moved over to the big pool.

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I honestly can’t remember what we did for dinner that night it’s been so long now, but I know we didn’t go anywhere. Brunch was so late we were probably too full! It was early to bed again, because we were going to Epcot the next day to finally meet Ana and Elsa, the one thing Emma Kate had been talking about for weeks. Stay tuned to see how that went!

QOTD: Have you ever been to Chef Mickey’s? Do you usually do character meals in Disney?

February 2017 Goals

I was determined to be on time with this month’s goals, so I think publishing on February 2nd is a win! It’s hard to believe the first month of 2017 is already in the books. How are you doing with your monthly/yearly goals? Still dreaming big? Keeping track? Let’s take a look at my January goals first and see how I did:

1.) Organize my closet: A+ I’m super happy about this one. My goal was to figure out a system that worked well for us while we budget for me to turn an extra room into a big closet. Bobby generously offered to give me the whole master closet! His hanging clothes now live in the extra room closet. he doesn’t have many so they all fit, and now I have the master all to myself! I still need to buy a few more hangers, but I pretty much have everything how I want it, and now I can actually see all of my clothes and  not wear the same thing over and over.

2.) Fix my workout routine: B- This is still a work in progress, but getting better! The past two Saturdays I have been able to go on long runs. Also, in addition to my two Orangetheory workouts every week, I did a day of cross training. I still need to figure out how to fit one more workout in, but I am happy with my progress so far.

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3.) Eat better: C- If you will remember, I kind of wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted this to look like. Because of that, my goal wasn’t measurable, and I set myself up for failure. I had little “spurts” where I would pay more attention to what I ate, but I don’t feel like I got a handle on it. I need to be more specific with my plan. Learn from my mistake!

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February goals:

1.) Track my food intake 1-2 days a week: As a measurable goal, I feel like this will work better for me. I use the My Fitness Pal app to track food, and it is a good reality check for me. However, I hate being a slave to calorie counting, so I will not do it every day. I think if I check in on myself and my habits one or two times a week it will help me out.

2.) Take Emma Kate to Disney: She has been asking to go see the big castle again, and she hasn’t been since before Christmas. It’s time to take her back since we live so close.

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3.) Time Block My days: I have been having a hard time staying focused the past couple of weeks. I end up on rabbit trails on social media, or wandering from thing to thing in the house not really getting anywhere. I am going to start using my journal to (loosely) time block and see if that helps me stay on track this month.

QOTD: Did you meet your January goals? Have any February ones?