Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Jaxon's Jog and Memorial Day!

Happy Tuesday to all! I hope that you were able to enjoy your 3 day weekends and remembered to pay tribute to those who have served our country since that's what Memorial Day is all about! JP, Maggie and I had a wonderful weekend here's what we did: (WARNING: this is a long post. I didn't intend for it to be. I promise shorter posts in the future! There are lots of pictures though!)

After a LONG week at work, I was able to close down my computer a little early which meant that I obviously needed something to do before JP got home. So baking it was! Since it was drawing to the end of my and this past weekend was a holiday, what a great time to make a 'Happy May' cake since JP's birthmonth was coming to a close.

The final product

Red velvet...yummmm

Maggie was right by my side the entire time :)
After baking, I decided that I needed to cook up a new recipe for dinner that night. I decided on a chicken and bell pepper dish with peanuts! I marinated the chicken in soy sauce, a little white wine, garlic and a bit of olive oil. I sauteed some green and red peppers before searing the chicken on the stove. Then everything went into the oven to bake for about 25 minutes. Once out of the oven, I topped it with chopped dry roasted peanuts and cilantro and paired it with some brown rice! It turned out delicious!!!

Dinner is served!

JP is lucky, I love to cook!
The rest of the evening was spent lounging around and catching up on our DVR after a long work week. We also had to get up early on Saturday so we didn't want to stay up too late.

We woke up bright and early to get ready and drive over to Allison Park, PA for a 10K to start our Saturday off right! It was a great event called Jaxson's Jog to raise money and awareness for a disease called Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia which is found while a baby is still in the wound. Click the link above to learn more! I went into the race hoping for a new 10K personal record somewhere around 52 minutes. I had been training for about an 8:25 minute/mile pace. Some crazy sort of energy from somewhere must have given me a swift kick in the butt that morning because I was just cruising! I ended up finishing the race in 50:01. That's right, 50 minutes and 1 second and I couldn't be prouder. I'm not going to lie, I don't mind bragging about myself for a minute here because this far surpassed my initial goal and I did it with ease! During the race I realized that running up and down those steep hills in my neighborhood as seriously paid off.

Now enough about me, let's about about JP!!! This was his first official 10K race. Now, he has run 6+ miles before, on multiple occasions even, but never a real 10K race. Well, he finished and he did AMAZING as well. He finished right about a minute after me! Whatever energy got a hold of me seemed to have gotten him as well. All in all it was a great race for a great cause.
After the race!

The finish line

I got 3rd place in my age group!

JP got 2nd place in his age group!
After the race and awards, we headed back to Robinson and grabbed Panera for lunch. The rest of the day was spent relaxing and as always, I found something to clean :) The evening we got all dressed up and headed downtown for a nice dinner and some drinks.

Kind of blurry, but it'll do!
We decided to go to this nice area of downtown at the end of Carson Street (where all the bars and shops are) for dinner at Cheesecake Factory! We love Cheesecake Factory and we've been forgetting to use our gift card so this seemed like the perfect time to do it. Well, it was the perfect time for everyone else to go as well. We got there around 7pm and were told it would be a 1 hour 45 minute wait...ummm...no thank you. We put our names down anyway and decided to walk over to the Hofbrahaus to get a drink and maybe dinner. All of the fried and fatty options were just making me sick thinking about them and my tummy hadn't been feeling 100% that day as is. We decided to sit and enjoy our yummy German beers and before we knew it 45 minutes had passed by.

JP and his big beer. We got to take the glass home as a Pittsburgh keepsake!

We decided to wait and eat Cheesecake Factory since we had our hearts set on it. Turns out that was a good decision because 15 minutes later our table was ready! We enjoyed a great dinner and of course we had to get some cheesecake, but we took it to go.

Sunday was HOT!!! We went to the early mass at 8am and I cooked breakfast consisting of french toast and scrambled eggs when we got home. By 10am though, it was nearly 90 degrees outside and 85 degrees inside our house. YIKES! It felt absolutely horrible so we decided that we had to get out. I needed to find some shoes for my friend Alison's wedding in July and since it was Memorial Day weekend, I figured there would be good sales out there. JP and I hung out and walked around the mall for a few hours. I didn't find any shoes and we really didn't even get much, but it was nice to be out of our hot and humid house. The rest of the day was just lazy which was great. Then we needed to get out of the house again so we went to the gym. This probably didn't help too much. We had been hot and tired all day which pretty much just made us cranky. That evening we were exhausted from restless nights due to the heat and the fact that our house has become a sauna. Maggie was glad to have us at home with her, hot or not.

She really wants her daddy's hat!

It was so hot Sunday night we moved our t.v. into our room since it's the only room with a fan!!!
I would like to start off by saying that I slept in until 8am on Monday...well I woke up at 6:30...7:15...7:45...then 8:00am, but the point is that I actually stayed in bed until 8am. Anyone who knows me knows that this only happens every once in a while or it's because I went to bed late. I went to bed at 10:30pm due to heat Sunday night and I still practically slept until 8!!! I was proud and JP was happy needless to say. Once we were up and breakfast was in our tummies, we decided to head to the outlet mall in Washington, PA. It was a beautiful day so it was obviously perfect for outdoor shopping! JP finally got a new pair of shorts (much much needed) and for a great price. We also got a few things for our kitchen and of course I gawked at some things that I really wanted but realized I didn't need. I must say that I did a great job and didn't get any new clothes! I did get shoes, but not from the outlet mall. I realized as we were leaving the outlet mall without any luck of finding the perfect silver shoes to go with my pretty bridesmaid dress, that I forgot about DSW!!! We went over to DSW and I found a really pretty pair of silver heels by Ralph Lauren that were 40% off! I love sales :)

After a morning of shopping, I needed a break. I decided to layout with my book, Something Borrowed. I was able to soak up some rays so that I don't burn next weekend when I'm out in Galveston for Alison's bachelorette party!!! YAY!!! Oh and the book is great by the way, I definitely recommend it! The evening was spent with JP grilling steaks and corn on the cob! It was a great Memorial Day BBQ kind of meal.

The master chef with his Texas apron from my dad and his Don't mess with Texas koozie from Ms. Robin and Mr. Buddy! We miss Texas...can you tell?

She really wanted those steaks
All in all it was a great weekend! Sorry this post was so long. I didn't mean for it to be, but I'm being quite the babbler today and for some reason decided to give y'all ALL the details. I hope that everyone had a nice and relaxing weekend! Until next time...

With love and God bless,
Amy, JP and Maggie

Friday, May 27, 2011

Maggie Update and the Gouglers get a Grill!!!

Maggie Update
First things first, Miss Maggie has not had a solid update in quite a while and she's starting to get upset about her lack of appearances on the blog. So, without further ado, a Maggie update!

Surgery: On Monday, Maggie was spayed and Monday evening she was a sad, sad puppy. However, come Tuesday morning, she was completely back to normal and her mom and dad were struggling to keep her calm to avoid ripping open her stitches! Luckily everything is still in tact despite her lack of "down time." She is quite the ball of energy but I wouldn't have it any other way. I would also like to point out that everyone at the vet absolutely ADORE her. They are always sad to see her go and they actually remember her every time she comes in. I mean, it's a smaller vet clinic, but there are still a lot of dogs and a lot of employees. It's safe to say my dog is adorable and loved by all :) I'm not biased at all.

She can sense that she isn't going to like this visit to the vet!

My drugged out baby :(

Puppy Class: Maggie is still in puppy class and doing great! We've been working really hard a learning to heal (walk behind/beside me close by), to not jump/lunge at other dogs and to not jump on humans and calm down when strangers approach. She's doing so much better with her dog interaction, but she is still CRAZY excited when a stranger approaches. At least she loves people. She's also still a baby so of course she has a lot to learn.

Growth: Maggie is still the smallest in her current puppy class and the German Shepards that are a month younger than her are quite a bit bigger! It turns out our little girl was the runt of her liter! We thought that she was going to be pretty big, but now the vet isn't so sure. She's still growing every week and we really notice the changes!

How can you not be in love with that face and those ears?

Happy puppy with alien eyes!

Mom, why do you always have to take pictures of me?

Worn out from running laps around the living room! Her 7pm nightly routine.

Oh so exhausted! Yes, she slept on me like this for at least 30 minutes.
The Gougler's get a Grill!
Hooray! It's that time of year for cook outs which also means being outside in the sunshine! Assuming the sun actually chooses to shine in Pittsburgh. My wonderful in laws, also known as JP's parents or Jody and Phil, were gracious enough to give us an amazing house warming gift...a grill! They put out the offer when we moved back in January and we have finally purchased one! We were super excited and JP did a fabulous job of setting it up all by himself. To make sure we did a good job, we had to test it out. Yesterday we made turkey burgers!!! Check it out:

Playing with his cookin' tools

About to put the burgers on!

First use of our brand new grill!

I must say they turned out delish!
Now that we have a grill JP can cook dinner more! Wahoo! Just kidding, it'll be good solid teamwork...I actually enjoy cooking :)

Well that's all I have for today! I'm looking forward to a 3 day weekend with my puppy and husband! Tomorrow JP and I are running in a 10K and it's JP's very first! I know he'll do great! Everyone enjoy your 3 day weekend and remember what Memorial Day is really about! Until next time...

With love and God bless,
Amy, JP and Maggie

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Biggest Loser

Okay so I typed this post up yesterday (Wednesday, May 25th) and forgot to post it! Oooops. Let's just pretend that I did! 

Last night was the Season 11 finale of the Biggest Loser. I LOVE The Biggest Loser. JP LOVES The Biggest Loser. We never miss an episode and love snuggling on the couch together watching the show.

Each week I watch the show and become more and more inspired by the contestants. I am fortunate enough to have never struggled with body weight and self image. Well, okay, I'm a girl, some days I "think" I'm getting fat and don't want to get in a bathing suit, but the next day I could feel like I am smokin' hot :) I think that just comes with being a female. I do know that so many people in America struggle with maintaining body weight and keeping a positive image of themselves. It's not an easy thing to do. What inspires me most about the contestants is that they are recognizing that they have a problem and DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT! Seriously, they realize that they are hurting themselves and lowering their life expectancy and actually reaching out for help. It is so hard to ask for help. I know that I often have trouble even just at work asking for help because it shows weakness. The most important thing to remember is that we all have weaknesses and sometimes you just have to feed off of other peoples strengths in order to improve upon those weaknesses. Besides, how can you ever turn a weakness into a strength without asking for help? These contestants realize that they don't know what they're doing and seek advice and support from the trainers who teach them everything they know. This way they can walk away knowing so much more and improve upon a weakness.

Season 11 Contestants before
Now not only do I love the contestants, I love the trainers as well. I have so much respect for Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels. I think they make a wonderful team and Jillian will be missed on the show. She is a true motivator and as I wrote in my last post, I consider myself a motivator as well. I can't wait for the day that I can share my passion for fitness with others every day. Right now, I have a great job that is opening so many doors for me, but it's not where I want to be forever. I know that God has big plans for me and I hope that one day it involves working in a gym much more :) Back to Jillian. She inspires people and changes lives. Not just physically but mentally. Not just mentally but emotionally. Not just emotionally but all in all helps people to become the better person that they want to be. Not only is Jillian a great trainer, let's face it. She's hot. She has a rockin' bod and I'm a little bit jealous. Only a little bit.

Anyways, back to the finale. Olivia and Hannah are the two sisters that both made it to the final 3...first time ever. The other final 3 contestant was the Biggest Loser while in the house, Irene. Can you say go ladies?! I mean how awesome is it that these three women beat out all the big, strong, tough men. Let's face it, men lose weight easier, it's the truth. This just goes to show all the women out there that don't think that they can tackle the weight loss challenge, that THEY CAN! Here are some before and after pictures of the winner!

Olivia on the left and Hannah on the right (Hannah got 2nd place and is down to 128 lbs!)

The winner, Olivia with Alison the host!
Okay that's all I have for today. I hope you enjoyed it. If you ever have any questions about health and fitness or how to start to tackle your weight loss journey, feel free to contact me at any time! I love helping others :)

Until next time...
With love and God Bless,
Amy, JP and Maggie

Monday, May 23, 2011

Just Listen

On Saturday I woke up early and started my day with a nice 8 mile run on the Montour Trail. This amazing trail is literally a 5 minute drive from our house and is a non-motorized recreational trail that stretches over 40 miles! It's actually part of the GAP (Great Allegheny Passage) which is a trail system that stretches over 330 miles from Pittsburgh, PA all the way to Washington, DC. Click on the link I have above if you want to learn more about it!

Now to actually get to the point. I left the house around 7:30am on Saturday for my fun. It wasn't until I was almost at the trail that I realized I forgot my iPod, and I was too stubborn to turn around and get it! Oh poor, poor me, what was I going to do for over an hour while running? Just listen. Instead of listening to music blaring in my ears, I had the change to listen to everything around me and inside me. Without my music, I was able to pay more attention to the sound of the creek that runs along side the trail, the sound of my shoes on the gravel, the sound of the birds singing in the air. I was much more attentive to detail as well. I noticed a few bunnies on the trail and even a chipmunk. I smiled and said hi to all those I passed. I can honestly say, I felt really good! It may have been the beautiful, sunny 60 degree weather and the fact that it was Saturday, but I think it was a little bit more than that.

Not only was I able to pay more attention to the beauty and wonder of my surroundings, but I was able to listen more to my body, heart and mind. I felt much more in tune with my body. Keeping myself on pace seemed to flow much better. I knew when I needed to speed up a bit and when I needed to take it easy to remain on my targeted goal pace. This "quiet time" also gave me the opportunity to think about myself. Here are some things I learned:
  1. I am absolutely great at starting things. I love starting new projects, planning new adventures, etc. I'm a great starter. I start strong and then I fizzle a little. Don't get me wrong, I ALWAYS finish, but by the end it takes me a bit longer and I'm less enthusiastic. I am quite like this in running as well. I start super strong! Too strong in fact. I have a tendency to let the Adrenalin take over and I start a race running way faster than my goal pace. This generally causes me to slow down towards the end. I'm working on really trying to maintain a solid pace throughout from start to finish come my September race. Wish me luck. It's going to take a lot of training to get the right mind set and I think I'm starting out doing well...now time to hold out and finish.
  2. I am a motivator. I love motivating people. It's probably the group exercise instructor within me that just wants to reach out to everyone I see struggling. That person on the trail that has sweat dripping down their face, but they're still pushing on...I want to yell, "Keep going, think of how great you'll feel when you're done!" Nerdy I know, but I love telling my class or my boot campers that they'll appreciate what they're doing later! I sometimes have trouble motivating myself though. To be honest, one of the things that motivates me the most is when someone is doing better than me :) Competitive? No!
  3. I love being outside and I love being active. Sitting around is not something I enjoy. I'm sure anyone that knows me is fully aware of this. This is why I know that one day I will work at a gym full time as opposed to sitting at a desk.
  4. I miss my husband when we are apart. Okay so I already knew that I missed him when we weren't together, but here are just a few reasons why. When he's gone, there's no one to hold me when I'm cold or snuggle me when my tummy hurts. When he's gone I don't have someone to talk about the TV shows I'm watching with like Biggest Loser. When he's gone, Maggie is MUCH harder to deal with, especially at puppy class. When he's gone it feels like a part of me is missing and the house is empty. I just love him so much and I love when we are both home together.
Okay so those are just a few of the MANY things I thought about during this run. I finally had the time to JUST LISTEN. Just listen to my body, heart and mind. It was a nice experience. I think I'll be switching between iPod and no iPod for a while now to see what I like best.
Anyone out there have a preference, music vs. no music when working out? You know you want to leave a comment! Also, don't be a stranger and follow my blog! It's super easy and it makes me feel good to know what people out there are actually reading all of these crazy thoughts in my head! Just click follow up at the top right hand side of the page!

Until next time...
With love and God bless,
Amy, JP and Maggie

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I Run for Me

About 2 years ago, I woke up one morning and decided that I was going to run a half marathon. Luckily, I convinced two of my very best friends, Andrea and Julie, to do it with me. I mean, everything is more fun with friends right? While Andrea, Julie and I stood together at the starting line, we knew that we would each finish separately, but we would all finish. It's safe to say that the 2009 San Antonio Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon changed my life.

We did it!
"I've always loved running...it is something that you can do by yourself and under your own power. You can go any direction, fast or slow as you want, fighting the wind if you feel like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs." Jesse Owens, an American track and field Olympic gold medalist made this incredibly true statement. That's the beauty of running, it's a time for you to focus on you and what you want. While training for my first half marathon, I began to realize the joy and the pride I got out of running. I had run 5Ks before and we always had to run a few miles at cheer practice back in high school and I was good at it, but I never thought about enjoying it. Maybe because those miles I put in at cheer were required. It wasn't about me. This time around, it really was about me, what I wanted, how I wanted to do it and when I was going to do it. The longer the training runs got, the more accomplished I felt and the more I wanted to run. If you think about it, running relates directly to life in that you truly get out of it exactly what you put into it. I feel as though I can put my heart and soul into running. I finished my first half marathon in 2:00:51. Those 51 seconds really irked me which made me want to push even harder! I was so close to finishing in under 2 hours and I had planned on finishing in about 2 hours 10 minutes! The running bug had bit me, and I was determined to do another.

It's safe to say that 2010 was one of the busiest years of my entire life with graduating in December 2009, starting a new job in January and getting married in April. Life was crazy, but I kept running. I didn't do another half marathon until November when the Rock 'n Roll came around again, but in 2010 I started running more and more 5 and 10Ks. The idea of being in a race always brings out the competitor in me and most of the time I am only trying to beat myself. I'm always pushing for my next best. Once I reach one goal, it's onto the next.

Inaugural Green 6.2

With some new friends after the race!
In November, I finished my second half marathon in 1:57: 31! I worked SO hard for that time and it is still my current PR even though I've run in the Aramco Houston half marathon and the Disney Princess half marathon since then. (I will say that I still finished the other two races in just barely over 2 hours, not too shabby.)

San Antonio: finished 1:57:31 (Personal Record)

Houston: finished 2:03: 27 (wet and rainy!)

Disney: finished 2:02:48 (Loved taking pictures with some Disney Characters along the way!)

Aside from the face that running give me some Amy time and brings out the joy in competing, there are so many other benefits. (Source)
  • Running is an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise and can increase your endurance and lung function as a result
  • Running is a way to reach your ideal/happy weight. I don't run to lose weight because I am at my happy weight, but it helps me to maintain where my body wants to be. Running for weight loss is one of the biggest reasons that people start to run, and it's a great place to start working your way to a healthier lifestyle.
  • Running slows the aging process. Those who run regularly are less likely to experience bone and muscle loss as they age.
  • Running has many psychological benefits. Runners are typically happier and less stressed than those who do not exercise regularly. It's safe to say that running is a HUGE stress reliever for me which is important since I am a high-strung person :)
Why I run...I run for the experience. I run to clear my head. I run for cupcakes. I run for the feeling of my feet on the pavement and the wind in my hair. I run to conquer those hills. I run for fitness. I run for health. I run for happiness. I run to make me a better person. I run to relieve stress. I run for the sake of running. I run for an extra glass of wine. I run for inner personal strength. I run to conquer fears. I run for competition. I run to prove to myself that I can push the limits. I run to stay physically fit. I run because I want to. I run for the satisfaction I get when I finish. I run to inspire. I run to sweat. I run for those who can't. I run to do better the next time. I run to just to run. But most importantly, I run for me.

With Cinderella's running shoe!

Nothing better than meeting your friends at the finish line.
Next up is Philadelphia Rock 'n Roll half marathon on September 18th! I am aiming for a new PR of 1:55:00! This will be JP's very first half marathon, I'll keep you updated on if he gets bit by the running bug or if he's a one and done kind of guy :) Until next time...

With love and God bless,
Amy, JP and Maggie

Monday, May 16, 2011

Happy Birthday JP!

Happy happy 25th birthday to my amazing husband!!! I love you a circle all the time, every day, forever and ever amen times five! That's quite a bit you know.

Since JP is heading straight for the airport today after work to fly to Houston for the week (it's finally his turn!), we celebrated his birthday a day early. Yesterday we went to church, had a lazy day, opened presents, watched basketball and went to a wonderful dinner at Grand Concorse in downtown Pittsburgh!


Birthday boy reading his card from me!

When we went outlet shopping last weekend, JP picked out all of his presents. I didn't have very many creative ideas this year and I knew that JP had some things on his mind. I got him new black dress shoes (as seen above), a white and red dry fit running shirt, socks for running (yes they are special socks and yes they are amazing and make a difference) and lastly a bright blue shirt from American Eagle (I got that one for him on my own.) I also ended up buying him a new toaster as a surprise! It's really for both of us, but he uses it more :)

Here we are ready to leave for dinner!

JP at Grand Concourse

The view from our table!

I had the tilapia dish with yummy artichoke hearts, tomatoes and spinach

JP had the crab stuffed shrimp with asparagus

Happy 25th birthday to my amazing husband!

The restaurant was super neat and very pretty. From 1900 to 1978 is was actually a train station. Once it closed down, it became a national landmark and it was turned into this restaurant!

Happy birthday again to my best friend, husband, better half and love of my life! You deserve to have an amazing day! Hope you have fun in Houston this week. Enjoy every minute and Maggie and I will be waiting for you on Saturday!

With love and God bless,
Amy and Maggie

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