September 10, 2014

Luna Bar Giveaway Winner and Tips from Coach Terra Castro!

Thanks to everyone who chimed in on my 5K post and entered the giveaway. Our winner is #3, Tarin Olding! Congratulations, Tarin!

Tips from Coach Terra Castro

As I mentioned several times before, I had the best coach throughout my training process. Terra Castro offered me tons of great advice to help me get back into my fitness game. I picked Terra's brain to get some health and fitness tips I thought might help my readers.

Gluten Free Betsy: What advice do you have for someone who is just getting back into fitness, has a lot of weight to lose, or has trouble with joint pain, etc.?

Terra Castro: Set a realistic GOAL; define what motivates and inspires you. POST THAT GOAL and make an inspiration board that has key words, cool pictures, etc. that you can put somewhere you will see daily to remind you of what you are working for.  BREAK THE GOAL INTO SMALL PIECES - FOCUS ON PROCESS not end result and you will get there. Tackle one day at a time.

GFB:  I know we chatted about this in my sessions, but what foods do you recommend for pre and post workout fuel? (gluten free, of course)  

TC: An hour before a workout I love peanut butter on a gluten free bagel. I'll have Clif Shot BLOKS if it's right before a workout. Post workout, a LUNA protein bar or smoothie with protein in it.

GFB:  What tips or advice to you have for staying active in the fall/winter when all we want to do is stay in and hit up our Netflix queue?

TC: Join a gym with fun classes, group up with friends and hit up a Zumba class or spin class.  Get out of your comfort zone and have fun!  It will help erase the weary snow blues.

GFB:  You told me you don't do gluten, dairy, and a bunch of other allergens, do you want to share your story?  

TC: I found out I was allergic to gluten, dairy, eggs, etc. when I was away at ITU Triathlon World Championship 2000 in Perth Australia. I was getting really sick on that trip from the hotel food and had a poor race. Something wasn't right in my gut.  I went to get blood work and the doctor found my allergies. Six weeks after eliminating those foods, I was back to feeling rested, strong and focused. The allergens affect my fatigue levels and cause extreme bloating and weight gain.  My immune system had to rebuild, but I am grateful to have found out early in my career what was going on. It is common in endurance racing due to the stress we put on our gut/body.

GFB:  What are some good ways to stay motivated?  

TC: GOALS!  Have accountability partners or hire a coach to help you lay out a plan. Sign up for a race so it gets you out the door to run when you don't feel up to it.

GFB:  What fitness tools are essential in your life? (This could be anything from a website, heart rate monitor, shoe, app, etc.)  

TC: I use to coach my athletes or Google docs, my Garmin Forerunner 220 in purple for my training, Saucony Kinvara 5 and Saucony A6.

Such great advice, eh? The advantage of setting a fitness goal is that is seriously works. If I didn't commit to the race she helped me train for, I wouldn't have done the work that got me in slightly better shape. I still have a long way to go, so it looks like I need to set another goal. To keep these legs runnin', I decided to get totally Chicago and sign up for the 2014 Ditka Dash. Let's do this!

Have a question for Terra that I didn't ask? Hit her up on Twitter @terracastro 

Have you set a fall fitness goal? Share it below and let's motivate each other!

September 9, 2014

Free Breakfast Recipes eBook from Abe's Market!

Just wanted to share this wonderful free ebook with everyone. If you're like me and never know what to do for breakfast, Abe's Market is offering a FREE downloadable breakfast recipes ebook. (Affiliate link)

It's packed with ten recipes using superfoods that are gluten free and vegan. Enjoy!

September 2, 2014

Magnificent Mile Chicago 5K is DONE! Let's Have a LUNA Bar Giveaway to Celebrate!

We did it! Me and Tahnee after the race.

Well everyone, I did it. I ran a 5K this past weekend. During the few hours of the event I probably felt every single emotion ever.  I never really felt that runner's high everyone raves about, but I definitely felt a lot of things. I felt nervous, excited, happy, determined, tired, inspired, defeated, empowered, blessed, sore, and grateful. Phew, right?

I was nervous that I would do horribly. That I wouldn't be able to complete the race. That I would let myself, my coach, and Team LUNA Chix down. Luckily that didn't happen.

I was happy, because I was in beautiful downtown Chicago running along the Mag Mile. It couldn't have been a prettier day and the skyline was breath-taking, as always.

I was determined to finish. I didn't care if it took me forever or if I was dead last - I just wanted to finish.

Like that capless Jawbone UP?
Am I the only one who loses the caps constantly?

Tired...oh so tired. I woke up at 4am to get ready and catch a ride downtown. Normally I'm dead to the world at that hour.

I was inspired by all of the ladies who came out to run. Women of all ages, body types, and speed were representing. Knowing I was not the only one who wasn't a track star eased my nerves. Don't even get me stared on the marathon runners...those women are amazing!

About halfway through the race, my lungs were on fire. My legs felt fine, but the humidity was soaring and it was hard for me to get catch my breath. I slowed down and walked a bit. I felt defeated, because I really wanted to run the entire course. I didn't worry about it too much and I walked/ran the last 1.25 miles of the race.

I'm a music lover and I need my jams to get my through my workouts. I made an insanely awesome (and super long) playlist for the race and threw it on shuffle. When one of my favorite songs came on, I felt incredibly empowered. If I was in my walk/run part of the race, I definitely picked up the pace and started running again. This jam always gets me going...

As much as I just wanted to reach the finish line, I felt incredibly blessed to be doing what I was doing right at that very minute. Blessed that I am healthy enough to be a part of that race and that my body can run. Hooray, legs!

Free stretching?! YES, PLEASE!!
All of these people were awesome! THANK YOU!

Sore...after the race my legs and feet were definitely sore. Thankfully, the wonderful physical therapists from Accelerated Physical Therapy were there to stretch our legs.  And it was glorious.

I couldn't be more grateful for all of the support I've received from so many people. My family, my friends, my coach, and all of the wonderful ladies at LUNA who made this all possible for me. I would have never had the courage or motivation to sign up for anything involved with running if it weren't for them.

When picking up my race packet I met Ashley from LUNA who was so sweet!
(my hair though...yikes!)

Probably one of the best parts of the race was when my friend, Tahnee, came back for me after she finished. She ran me through the final quarter of a mile and as tired and feeling like I was going to die, she encouraged me the entire way and wouldn't let me give up or slow down. I'm so grateful to have done this race with her and her mom! There is a beautiful picture of her running with me, but I cannot justify spending $25 on one photo and can't post it here due to copyright reasons, but here it is if you care to see how fabulous T was to help me finish. Bless her heart.

Not only did I finish, but I didn't finish last! :)

Giveaway Time!

Since LUNA as been so great to me, I asked if I could offer one of my readers some of the new LUNA protein bars. Lucky for you, they were more than happy to provide bars for a giveaway!

If you haven't heard, LUNA recently released two new protein bar flavors, Chocolate Coconut Almond and Lemon Vanilla. LUNA protein bars are gluten free, contain 12 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber, are high in calcium and folic acid, and provide a good source of iron and vitamin D.

They are great for post-workout fuel or a snack between meals. They've been my saving grace after my training sessions and I honestly can't chose which flavor I prefer since they are both so good!

Want to win some bars for yourself? One lucky reader will win a box of Chocolate Coconut Almond protein bars AND Lemon Vanilla protein bars. Woo!!

To enter, leave a comment below telling me how you're staying active and how you can use LUNA protein bars to supplement your diet.

I'll pick a winner using on Wednesday, September 10th at noon (central). Good luck!

This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to the winner, Tarin Olding!

This giveaway is not managed by Clif/LUNA bar. All opinions are my own.

August 28, 2014

It’s Almost Race Time!

With just a couple of days away from The Magnificent Mile Half Marathon and 5K, it’s obvious things didn't go as planned when I had hoped to write weekly updates on my 5K training. With running almost every day and still trying to enjoy the summer, I haven’t had time to write any updates.

My training has been a love/hate adventure, but overall I’m really happy I committed to running this 5K. I know 5Ks can be no big deal to many people. I felt that way years ago when I was at the peak of my fitness game, but since I fell out of running it was hard to get back into the groove.  I can definitely see the difference in my endurance and stamina now than when I started training for this race six weeks ago.

My gym where I've been doing all my training!

Since I’m back to square one with running, I looked for a beginners training schedule and found a great guide Fitness magazine’s website. I have the C25K app, but their training schedule is for nine weeks out and I need a 6-week program. My wonderful coach, Terra Castro, tweaked what I found a little bit so I wasn't running too much too soon. Terra has been instrumental in my training and I’m so thankful for Team LUNA for pairing me with her. I've had weekly check-in phone calls with her, maintained a spreadsheet with my notes on each training session, and received meal advice, recovery advice, and motivational support from Terra. Without her, I probably would have given up weeks ago!

Another fabulous cheerleader has been my good friend and funny lady, Tahnee Lacey. After Tahnee's dad suddenly passed away last year, Tahnee saw how years of not taking care of his health added up and she didn't want to be next. I have watched her transform into a superhero athlete who loves her gym, is continuously challenging herself and is a huge inspiration to me and countless others. I’m so very lucky to have her as a friend and even luckier that she and her mom are also doing the race with me on Sunday!

This is Tahnee and all of her fitness adventures!

As the race weekend approaches, Fleet Feet Sports have put together the first ever Fitness Meets Fashion Market takes place at their South Loop location and includes several exciting events, sponsors, running celebrities and more!  You’ll get a sneak peek of fall apparel from popular brands like Oiselle, Lole and Saucony, plus enjoy live music, prizes and games from all of the Magnificent sponsors including LUNA protein bars!  The market is free to the public, so you don’t have to be registered for the race to check it out.

Some of the great free fitness events that are available will take place on Saturday including a Morning Shake-Out Run and Yoga for Runners class. Here are the details:

Saturday, August 30th

Official Magnificent Shakeout Run led by Professional Oiselle Runner Lauren Fleshman and Jenny Hadfield, featuring Fellow Flowers.
Fleet Feet Sports – South Loop
Register here!
LUNA bars for all athletes and Bridgeport Coffee will be providing complimentary coffee and breakfast post run!


Complimentary Yoga for Runners class presented by Yoga Six Studio.
Fleet Feet Sports – South Loop
LUNA bars will be provided for this event too!

The 5K is first thing Sunday morning and all kinds of excited, nervous, scared, and pumped for this race! I’ll fill you in on how it all went down as well as share some great fitness tips next week.

Have a great Labor Day weekend everyone!

August 21, 2014

I Did the #IceBucketChallenge to #StrikeOutALS

Whelp! I did the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge last night. I thought I would get away scot-free, but I'm pretty sure everyone and their brother will be nominated sooner or later. Either way, I didn't mind. I'm actually pretty jazzed that ALS is gaining attention and awareness.

Learning about ALS isn't anything new to me. For many years, I've been walking for life with the Les Turner ALS Foundation to raise money for researching a cure for ALS. This all started in 2006 when family friends learned their mother/grandmother/mother-in-law, Betty Ciurej, had the disease. This was such a heart-breaking time since Betty was so active, so talkative, and so involved in her family's lives.

Betty by Ciurej & Lochman

It was very difficult for everyone to watch her wither away into a shell of the vivacious person she once was. Since there is no cure for this disease and the average ALS patient's lifespan continues for only three to five years after diagnosis, her family and friends decided to get involved in the fundraising efforts for researching a cure. Betty was too sick to participate in the first walk we did in 2006 and sadly she was never able to cheer us on for the future walks since she passed away from this horrible disease in March 2007. We continue to walk to remember her and all of the others with a loved one battling ALS. 

We'll be doing it again this September and our team, Betty's Bunch, would love your support! Donate to our fundraising efforts at

Speaking of Ice Buckets...

I know there is a lot of controversy out there about wasting water. Also why can't we just donate and skip the whole bucket thing?  I can only imagine the bucket and bagged iced industries are also booming as well as the ALS charities.

The thing's working. Ice or not, donations are skyrocketing, which is amazing. ALS charities aren't the only ones benefiting. Many people are also donating to Charity:Water and other charitable organizations. 

How did this all start you ask? Friends and supporters of Pete Frates, a college baseball player who was diagnosed with ALS in his late 20s. Watch his story here:


Other Ice Bucket Challenge videos of note? 

Buzz Feed's The 22 People Who Should Definitely Not Taken the Ice Bucket Challenge
Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner
Foo Fighters's Carrie
Bill Gates
Chris Pratt
Stephanie Izard's Flashdance
This really funny/sad one from Anthony Carbajal

Have you done the Ice Bucket Challenge?