Operation Nutrition

nutrition, fitness, motherhood, & everything in between

Homemade Holiday Hand Soap

Happy Friday & happy December! I hope you had a nice holiday. Both of our Thanksgivings were really nice. The best dish was definitely my mom’s stuffing. I made it for the first time, but it was the only dish without an actual “recipe” (it was one of those, “add a bit of this, add a lot of this, etc.” kind of things. I made notes with exact measurements, so I hope to share it with you all soon.

If you follow me on Instagram, you saw that over the holiday, I made another new recipe (not one you can eat though) Smile.

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I have been making homemade foaming soap for awhile now, but since the colder weather is approaching and my hands get SO dry (I’m an obsessive hand washer), I needed to make a thicker/more moisturizing hand soap. I searched the Internet for some recipes and found one at Body unburdened. I pretty much followed this recipe, but made some adjustments to measurements since I was making a larger batch.

The result? It leaves my hands feeling clean and very moisturized. I love that my hands aren’t splitting from dry skin (like they normally start  to do around this time of year). It’s very inexpensive to make & it has all-natural/safe ingredients.

Here are the ingredient’s you’ll need to fill 2 medium-sized hand soap dispensers (pictured above):

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup castile soap (I used Dr. Bronner’s Unscented)
  • 3 tbsp. of a carrier oil (I used a mixture of jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, and vitamin E oil)
  • 2 leveled tsp. guar gum (I bought mine on Amazon); be sure not to use more than this or your soap will be too thick.
  • 30 drops of essential oils (I used peppermint, thieves,  & orange to create a nice holiday smell, but to also help with killing germs)

Directions:

1. In a small bowl, whisk carrier oil with the guar gum until completely smooth.

2. In a large bowl, stir together water, castile soap, and essential oils.

3. Add the guar gum mixture to the water mixture. Stir until thoroughly mixed.

4. Pour into hand soap dispensers.

*Tip* – Be sure to use a high-quality brand of essential oils, as some brands out there contain harmful ingredients (even though they claim to be “pure” and “organic”). The only brand I trust completely is Young Living. If you’d like more information about essential oils, please feel free to leave a comment or send me an email.

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Thanksgiving 2016

Happy Wednesday, friends! Chances are, you’ll be spending time today prepping some delicious food for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving feast! I figured I’d share some of the recipes we’ll be making. We’re making most of the food, but we did order 2 sides from Wegman’s.

B is smoking a turkey like he did last year. Here is the recipe we’re using again this year Smoked Turkey. Currently, the turkey is in the refrigerator brining. Check out this interesting set up going on. Smile  The brining bag kept falling over, so we used an old Pampers box to keep the sides from falling (so far so good).

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I’m also making my favorite macaroni and cheese recipe from this cookbook:

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I’ll be making my mother’s Sage Cranberry Stuffing. I’ve never made it before and there isn’t exactly a specific “recipe” (so I’m hoping it will turn out as delicious as hers does). If it turns out, I’ll post how to make it.

For dessert, I’ll be making pumpkin pie, apple pie, and streusel pumpkin cheesecake bars. I’m using the recipe on the back of the Libby’s pumpkin can for the pumpkin pie. For the apple pie, I’m using the recipe from The Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.

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The Streusel Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars is a favorite recipe of mine.

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The other sides are coming from Wegman’s. We ordered their Cranberry-Orange Sauce (I tried to make my own and it wasn’t good at all).

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The other side we’re getting from Wegman’s is their Roasted Butternut Squash with Baby Spinach & Cranberries. It’s absolutely delicious!

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Some of our family is brining other dishes, so we should have a lot of delicious food!

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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Roasted Carrots

Hi friends, happy Tuesday! I hope you had a nice weekend. We spent time with family & we put up our Christmas tree! I know, I know….it’s not even Thanksgiving. Celebrating holidays has been so much more fun now that we have “S”.  It feels like we’re experiencing it for the first time along with her. Seeing her eyes light up when she saw the tree & other decorations was truly priceless. Hopefully, by putting it up so early, we’ll be able to enjoy it longer (and not feel like the holidays passed by so quickly).

We also picked up our CSA for the week. A few years ago, we were getting a weekly CSA, but then strayed away from it because we weren’t able to eat it all. I felt like we were wasting more than we ate. “B” and I figured we’d give it another try and really make an effort to eat every last fruit & vegetable. Not only does it help support local farmers, but it also is way less expensive than buying organic produce at the grocery store. Here is everything we got in our organic half share. All of this was $30.

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In order to make sure nothing went to waste, I planned all of our meals around the fruits & vegetables included in this week’s CSA. I’m excited because it is forcing me to make new recipes. It is also a way to ensure we’re eating enough veggies!

On Sunday night, I made a new-to-me recipe for roasted carrots. It was originally posted on the Food Network’s website. I pretty much followed the exact recipe & just made a few adjustments (since I was cooking a smaller portion). You can check out the original recipe here. It was super easy to make and was so delicious!

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Ingredients:

  • 10 medium to small carrots (we has a mixture of white, orange, & purple)
  • 1/2 tsp. pink Himalayan sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. fresh dill

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Slice the carrots diagonally in 1 1/2-inch-thick slices. (The carrots will shrink a lot, so be sure to make the slices big).

3. Place carrots into a Ziploc bag (or bowl), toss them with the olive oil, salt, and pepper.

4. Transfer carrots to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or a silicone cooking mat.

5. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until carrots are tender.

6. Enjoy!

I hope you have a great week!

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How My Essential Oils Journey Began

Happy Sunday everyone! I hope you’re having a nice weekend. I thought I’d share with you how I got started with essential oils. I’ve been part of an online moms group since my daughter was born. We all have kids that were born the same month and year. It is made up of women all over the world (it’s really an incredible & helpful group). Anyway, someone mentioned that they noticed their baby was sleeping better when they diffused lavender in her room. I was intrigued because my little one has never been a great sleeper (better sleep? sign me up!).  However, I’m extremely particular when it comes to using nontoxic & natural products.

At the time, I knew absolutely nothing about essential oils. So, I basically started researching, and researching, and researching. Not only did I research essential oils, but companies that are involved with making them. Like I said, I’m very particular (some may even call it obsessive…I’m okay with that). During my research, I discovered that there are many companies/brands out there that claim their oils are “pure” and “safe”, when in fact, they are mostly made up of synthetic ingredients (the exact same thing I’m trying to avoid).

After 8 months of researching every possible aspect of essential oils, I chose to purchase my essential oils from Young Living. I was so impressed with their extremely stringent “Seed to Seal” process. From planting the seeds, to cultivating, to distilling, to testing, and finally to sealing the finalized product, Young Living produces the highest quality oils.

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Did you know that you can even visit their farms to see firsthand how the oils are produced?!?!?! Here is a picture of Young Living’s Whispering Springs Farm in Utah.

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When I decided to purchase my oils, I had a few oils in mind (4 oils to be exact). The cost for the 4 that I selected was over $100. Since I never used essential oils before, I also needed to buy a diffuser. This would’ve brought my total to $200+. I still wanted the oils, but I couldn’t see spending that much on just 4 bottles and a diffuser. It was then that I discovered the Premium Starter Kit. Not only did it come with these (most used) oils:

    • Lavender
    • Peppermint Vitality™
    • Lemon Vitality™
    • Copaiba Vitality™
    • Frankincense
    • Thieves® Vitality™
    • Purification®
    • R.C.™
    • DiGize™ Vitality™
    • PanAway®

but it also came with a FREE bottle of Stress Away™ and a diffuser!!!!! The kit also came with samples, a roller fitment (so you can roll some of the oils directly from the bottle onto your skin), 2 of their drink samples, a product guide, an essential oils magazine, and more! All of this was just $160. Aside from the essential oils purity (since you already know I love that), I also like how the company offers discounts and rewards points (these allow you to get FREE products).  I definitely couldn’t pass this up, so I went ahead and purchased the kit.

When I bought the kit, I was adamant about not wanting to make any kind of commitment to future purchases (after all, this was my first time using essential oils and I didn’t even know if they’d be a good fit for me). During checkout, I was confused because it gives you the option to “become a member”.  I had to contact someone to verify that becoming a member didn’t hold any future obligations (turns out, all that it means is that you’ll pay wholesale prices if you sign up to be a member, nothing more, nothing less). Aside from the essential oils purity (since you already know I love that), I also like how the company offers discounts and rewards points (these allow you to get FREE products).

I received my kit and fell in love. I love sharing my recipes for natural and safe products that I make using my essential oils. I also love sharing how essential oils have improved my overall health.

Now, I’m continuing my research and finding even more ways to use essential oils. I’ve made some incredible products using my oils and other natural ingredients.

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It feels reassuring knowing that the products my family uses are nontoxic and safe. Since I love sharing this information, this is the page where I’ll be sharing recipes for all kinds of products.

If you have any questions about essential oils, please feel free to contact me (you can email me or leave a comment here in this post). Also, if you’d like to begin your essential oils journey, I’d love to help you get started. Email me at info@operationnutrition.com

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Blog Make-Over

Hi friends! My last post was in April! Holy smokes! I’m not even sure how many people are still reading here. I obviously took a break from writing. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to write, but rather, I didn’t make the time to write. But the truth is, I missed it. A lot. So, I’m back and will be posting more frequently. But, this time my posts will probably be a little different.

As you can see, Operation Nutrition has undergone a make-over.

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Not only did I want to make-over the appearance here, but I also want to change up the content a bit. I feel like I’m at a different place in my life than I was when I first started blogging in 2010.

I still have the same passions I had when this blog started. I’m most definitely still into nutrition, fitness, and all around healthy living (probably more now than ever since having a baby). But, as we all do in life, we evolve. My plans for the blog are to include all of the same topics that I’ve always written about, but sometimes I will also include my love for essential oils and random posts about motherhood. Another aspect that will be a little more different here will be that I will write more “openly”. Over the past 6 years, I’ve also grown in the sense that I no longer worry about what others think of me. Let me explain, I felt like when I first began blogging, I censored my own posts (for fear of unwanted criticism). For instance, if I posted a recipe that wasn’t 100% nutritious or “clean”, I worried that I wasn’t being “healthy enough”. If I posted that I was using a product that wasn’t completely toxic-free, I worried that people would say I’m a hypocrite since I write about my journey using nontoxic products. And so on. When I started to censor my own writing, blogging wasn’t enjoyable anymore. It was almost a chore.

I was always honest in my blog posts, but I always “had a wall up” (which was exhausting).  Now that I’m older, I realize that I no longer need to censor my work. I am who I am and I love who I am. I’m not perfect and I will never claim to be. I will feature recipes that I love (even if they are not the healthiest options). Operation Nutrition is a place for me to share the things that I love and my personal journey finding that healthy balance in all aspects of my life.

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I’m so excited for the new & improved Operation Nutrition. Smile  Whether you’re a brand new reader, or a long time reader, I hope you enjoy reading here.

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Grilled Buffalo Chicken Tacos

Hi friends! I hope you’re having a nice week. We’ve had such a fun and busy week. I finally tried out a new recipe! We’ve been in such a food rut lately (this explains the lack of blog posts), so I wanted to try something new. I’m so happy I gave this one from Cooking Light a try. It was SO easy to make and absolutely delicious. This will be in our regular dinner rotation for sure. From start to finish, it took about 20 minutes.  IMG_3380

 Grilled Buffalo Chicken Tacos

Servings: 4 (1 serving is 2 tacos)
Calories: 302
Fat: 9.5 g
Carbs: 30 g
Protein: 22 g

Here are the ingredients you’ll need:
Recipe adapted from Cooking Light

  • 2 (6 oz.) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp. wing sauce (I used Frank’s )
  • 1 tsp. melted butter
  • 2 tbsp. low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 1 ounce blue cheese, crumbled (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
  • 8 (6-inch) corn tortillas

Directions:

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat (or heat outside grill). Cut chicken in half horizontally (to create 4 cutlets). Sprinkle chicken with salt & pepper to taste. Grill chicken for about 3 minutes on each side (or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees).

Time saver tip: While chicken is cooking, prep your sauces.

Combine hot sauce and melted butter in a bowl; whisk until blended. Set aside.

Combine buttermilk, mayonnaise, and cheese in a bowl, mashing with a fork. Set aside.

Remove chicken from grill and cut into thin slices. Add chicken to bowl of hot sauce.

Add lettuce to bowl of cheese mixture.

Warm tortillas according to package instructions. Divide chicken mixture evenly among tortillas; top with lettuce mixture. Enjoy!

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Nature’s Promise: Organic

A couple of weeks ago, I received a nice surprise in the mail from Giant Foods. They were kind enough to send me some products from their very own organic line.

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My family eats organic foods about 90% of the time.  I feel like more and more consumers are aware of the health benefits of eating organically. It’s so great to see major grocery store chains carrying more organic products. Giant Foods line is called, “Nature’s Promise”. Here’s some more information about what makes something organic (source: Giant Foods).

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I loved everything they sent me (especially the peanut butter). You can tell that they use high quality ingredients. I especially love that their organic line is very affordable. If you live near a Giant Food Store, I highly recommend that you check out their extensive Nature’s Promise product line.

Full disclosure: Giant Foods sent me the products to sample. However, this review and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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Veggie-Packed Enchiladas

Hi there! I hope you’re having a great week. I made this recipe this past weekend. It was so good that I couldn’t wait to share it with you. As an added bonus, it’s super healthy too!

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 Veggie-Packed Enchiladas

Servings: 5
Calories: 447
Fat: 5 g
Carbs: 85.7 g
Protein: 21.6 g

Here are the ingredients you’ll need:
Recipe adapted from Oh She Glows

  • 2 cups peeled Sweet potatoes (cut into 1 inch cubes)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 cup roasted red pepper (from the jar; drained & chopped)
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (from the jar; drained & chopped)
  • 2 cups of baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 (14 oz.) can black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 2 1/2 cups enchilada sauce
  • 1 tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (I use this Himalayan Pink Salt)
  • 5-6 soft tortillas (calorie information is without tortillas)

Directions:

Coat an 8×12 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350°F.

Boil the chopped sweet potato. Reduce heat and simmer until tender (about 15 minutes). Drain and set aside.

In a large skillet, stir together the oil, onion, and garlic and sauté over medium heat for around 3 to 5 minutes until the onion softens. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Add the chopped roasted peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, sweet potato, spinach, and black beans. Cook over medium-high heat, until the spinach is wilted (about 5 minutes).

Stir in 1/4 cup of enchilada sauce, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, and salt.

Add 3/4 cup of enchilada sauce onto the bottom of your casserole dish coating the entire bottom.

Next, you’re going to scoop 3/4 cup of the sweet potato and black bean filling onto each tortilla. Wrap each tortilla and place it seam side down (on top of the enchilada sauce). Pour the remaining enchilada sauce on top of the tortillas until they are completely covered. Top with cheese (optional).

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the enchiladas are heated through and the cheese is melted.

Enjoy!

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This recipe was delicious! Please be sure to check out the original recipe from Oh She Glows. Her recipe calls for a homemade enchilada sauce (I cannot wait to try it) and her photography is amazing!

Take a look at the great nutrition stats:

  • Low in saturated fat
  • No cholesterol
  • High in dietary fiber
  • High in iron
  • High in manganese
  • High in magnesium
  • High in potassium
  • High in thiamin
  • High in vitamin A
  • Very high in vitamin C
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Forget Crash Diets, Here’s What A Sustainable, Healthy Diet Looks Like

Happy Thursday everyone! I hope you’re having a nice week. We are enjoying some beautiful and warm weather here in Maryland. I took the little one out for a run this morning. Running outside was such a nice change compared to running on the treadmill. I feel like it’s so much easier to be active once the weather breaks. Along with the warmer weather, I know a lot of people (including myself) start thinking about getting in shape for the summer. It’s also the time of year when you’ve probably noticed an increase of “loose weight now” or “quick weight loss” commercials on the radio and on television. The media sure knows how to appeal to our desires. However, anything that seems “too good to be true”, probably is.

Here is an article about crash diets I’d like to share with you.

It is very common to overlook what the definition of “diet” is the dictionary. At its most basic roots, the word “diet” means the foods you routinely eat. In the 21st century, however, “diet,” has been a buzzword for losing weight. Most diets are thought of as a means in which we change our eating pattern to induce weight loss. The trouble, though, is that most people approach dieting wrong. They think of it like, “If I just do this for a little while, I will lose weight, and then I can go back to eating how I normally do.” Or people think dieting is a magic fix for poor eating habits, believing dieting will “reset” their metabolism and get them to finally enjoy unseasoned chicken and bland, raw vegetables. So how do we change this? First, we must understand what a sustainable, healthy diet (or eating style) really is. It is four parts: whole food based, balanced, simple, and enjoyable.

Crash diets don’t work for a variety of reasons, but the major piece to the puzzle is understanding that good, healthy eating is a lifestyle, not a 30-day reset. Crash diets work on the premise of “cleansing” you of your rotten ways instead of establishing habits that make the doing part easier. Think of the last time you binged on a bag of chips, candy, or popcorn. Wouldn’t it be sweet to do the same thing with something healthy? Healthy eating is not about making you eat less, but instead finding the best foods for you, and eating them until you aren’t hungry. Sustainable, healthy diets are built to, well, be sustainable, and this just isn’t found in your typical crash diet.

Whole foods are the basis of any sustainable, healthy diet. Whole foods do most of the work for us when it comes to weight management, energy, and of course better health. Fiber is a major component of whole food. Not only that, but fiber helps us feel full longer, and more importantly, sooner, than food without it. One of the reasons so many people over eat is due to the low amount of fiber found in processed foods. Why is this so important? It is important because while eating a sustainable, healthy diet, you don’t need to worry about counting calories as much, which is a big proponent in losing weight. Fiber helps tell your brain when you have had enough food, which naturally keeps you from eating more than you need.

Balance is also important in a sustainable, healthy diet. While it is great to consume most of your calories from whole foods, you should not feel guilty for indulging in sweets from time to time. This balance is actually easier when you follow a whole foods based diet because you consume less of the sweet stuff than you did before. Why? It is simple. When you are hungry, you want to eat everything, am I right? But, when you regularly eat whole foods, you won’t be as hungry, so you won’t want to binge on sweets. This balance creates a more well-rounded relationship with food that only furthers a better, sustainable eating style.

Lastly, a sustainable, healthy diet needs to be simple and enjoyable. Yes, it might be a pain to have to prepare your food ahead of time, or cook every day, but the positive turn around for your health is tenfold. Start small if you are a beginner. Instead of just having pasta with sauce, add a few vegetables you like to the mix. If you are a yogurt fan for breakfast, try finding one with less sugar and adding your own sugar in the form of fruits. Little changes like this make all the difference, and they follow the sustainable, healthy diet strategy we have talked about without making the experience intolerable. This ties in nicely to enjoying the process. Try not to think of changing your eating habits overnight. Understand that for many this takes time! It is hard to go from a processed food heavy diet to one where every meal, seemingly, need to be cooked or prepared at home. Some days you might not be able to cook that vegetable stir fry you planned on because of a last minute event. That’s okay! Get it tomorrow night. The idea is not to feel guilty for not being perfect, but rather strive to do your best every single chance you get. Once you have a plan and are focused, you can nail it!

This is a guest post written by Ivii Clement, a proud contributor to NutritionInspector. If you have never checked out this website before (www.nutritioninspector.com), I highly recommend you check it out. There you will find a plethora of information on nutrition, fitness, supplements, and weight loss. Also, if you enjoyed this article, make sure to share it on your social profiles. Stay healthy!

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Just a little update & Strength workout

Hey everyone! It has been a long time since I last posted. I haven’t tried many new recipes, but I have some in the works. Hopefully, that means I’ll be posting more often. I haven’t had much to write about and I have been super busy enjoying my days with my sweet toddler. It’s hard to believe she’s a toddler already. When people told me it goes by fast, they weren’t kidding. She is always on the move and I love watching her learn. I can easily get 10,000 steps in (according to my Fit Bit) each day, by just chasing and playing with her. It’s fun and every day is a new adventure!

My 2015 Holiday Shred wrapped up and was a huge success. It was so very inspiring seeing everyone’s encouragement and successes. We had a great time. I hope to do another one in the summer.

Food Update

Like I mentioned, I haven’t tried many new recipes, so meals have been a little more boring lately. We are really lucky though because the little one is an incredibly good eater and eats pretty much everything we do. Every week we’ve been enjoying Zoodles. My husband and I like these because they are a healthier alternative to regular pasta and the little one just gobbles them up! I use this spiralizer to make them. It works SO well and cleans up very easily.

Workouts Update

I usually have about 30 solid minutes to workout, so I’m all about quick and effective workouts. I typically do 3 days of full body strength training, 1 day of HIIT, 1 day of steady-state cardio, and 1 or 2 (depending on the week) rest days.

I finally got back into taking Zumba on a regular basis. Besides strength training, it’s my favorite workout. For my HIIT workout, I’ve been doing 20-minute sprints on the treadmill (30 seconds as fast/hard as I can go with 30 seconds rest). I’ve never been a fast runner, but this past week I was able to sprint at 7.5mph. This was a big deal for me since I have only ever been able to sprint at 6.0 mph.

I’m really looking forward to getting outdoors and running this spring. I signed up for a 5K just to give me a little extra motivation.

Here’s my current strength training workout. All you need is a set of dumbbells and a timer.

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