Archives for May 2014

Apera Yoga Tote Review + Giveaway!

*Before I get into today’s topic, I wanted to let y’all know that I updated yesterday’s post with more specific directions on how to use hydrogen peroxide to whiten your teeth. It has a much more detailed step-by-step now for your teeth whitening pleasure!*

A few weeks ago, actually months now – seriously time has been flying by, Apera was kind enough to send me their Yoga Tote to review.

Y’all know how I love a good bag and Apera’s Yoga Tote is no exception!

First of all, the fuchsia color is perfectly pink. It’s vibrant, the color doesn’t rub off on any of my clothes (Am I the only one who has the irrational fear that bright colors will ruin your clothing?!), and it matches all of my outfits.

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The Yoga Tote’s style is also great for my lifestyle. While I may get funny looks for carrying my gym bag to work, it fits my entire life into it and then some. Between my laptop, my work notebooks, my gym clothes and shoes, work stilettos, lunch bag, water bottle, Spark, makeup, and all of the other odds and ends I need to have with me on a daily basis, this bag does an amazing job of not only holding them all but keeping them organized!

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There are TONS of pockets that keep my makeup organized, a separate area for my shoes, an outside pocket for my water bottle, and there’s even room for my yoga mat… if I wanted to carry that to work and get some even stranger looks ;) Check out Apera’s awesome photos – that are much better than mine! – here.

I’ve received a ton of compliments while carrying this bag too – everything from “WOAH, that’s the biggest bag ever! Where did you get it?” to “OMG I need that pink thing in my life!” to “That bag is awesome! I could fit everything for my kid in there.” Seriously, everyone that sees my Apera Yoga Tote loves it.

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Also, I wanted to let you know that Apera is holding their own giveaway each month. They will be giving away a free Apera bag to one winner on a monthly basis! The bag for May is the Duffel Pack. Head on over to Apera’s website to enter the giveaway!

What do you typically carry with you to/from work every day? 

The trick to an affordable white smile

I’m not one to brag, but if I had to pick a favorite feature about myself, it would be my smile.

It’s big. It’s lights up my face. And my teeth are straight (thanks to multiple rounds of braces…) and bright white.

Smile Collage

If you know me at all, you know I love my coffee and my red wine. With the amount I drink on the daily, my teeth should probably be black ;)

Like everyone else, I used to spend ridiculous amounts of money on drugstore white strips to get my pearly whites glowing. After my teeth became overly sensitive to the product, I decided to figure out my own, less expensive way to whiten my teeth.

I did some research and discovered that the main ingredient in all teeth whitening products was hydrogen peroxide, a product that can be purchased for less than $1 at any drugstore.

I figured that it couldn’t hurt to try plain ol’ hydrogen peroxide for $1. If it didn’t work, I wouldn’t break the bank and if it did work, I’d save myself hundreds of dollars in future years.


Lo and behold, a quick H2O2 mouthwash did the trick and I’ve been using it ever since, about 7 years!

The directions for use are easy peasy. Ready for it? (I’ve updated the directions to include a more detailed step-by-step per your requests!)

1. Rinse your mouth with plain hydrogen peroxide (just a swig or however much will comfortable fit into your mouth – you can dilute with water if you prefer) for 30 seconds – 1 minute. You’ll know you’re done when it’s super foamy in your mouth. #twss

2. After rinsing, floss and brush per your normal routine.

3. Rinse with this H2O2 magic a few times per week and voila – an affordable, white smile!

And now that you’re saving some major $$ by skipping your bi-annual teeth whitening, you can spend that money elsewhere… like on wine and coffee ;)

Do you have any beauty secrets?

What are your money-saving tips?

#37 Treat Yourself Tuesday

Happy Tuesday! (Even though it feels more like a Monday…) I hope everyone had an enjoyable Memorial Day weekend. I sure did and I can’t wait to tell you all about my treats over the past week!

Treat Yourself Tuesday Badge

If you’re new to TYT, head over here to read about why I am a supporter and advocate for treating ourselves – even in the smallest of ways – everyday! I promise you will fall in love with the idea and once you do, please link up below :)

To kick things off, I treated myself to a new wallet. I’ve been eyeing wallets for quite some time now. Mine was small and I could never find anything in it. I found this pink, Kate Spade gem at Macy’s last week and knew I needed it immediately. So far, so good – even my phone and lip gloss fit in it and that’s a win in my book!

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Friday was a half-day at the office, so I treated myself to an early happy hour with a friend. Blue Moon + healthy kale salad was a great combination to kick off the long weekend.

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A Sephora trip happened for my favorite mascara and some other goodies :) The Benefit Pore-fessional is amazing and I recommend it for anyone with shiny, summer skin. I also had a lot of points so I was able to get some free samples. I’ve tried the eyeliner and makeup remover so far and love them both!

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After lunch on Friday, I treated myself to a polish change. The bright yellow was perfect for a summer weekend!

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On Friday evening Kyle treated me to date night at Smith and Wollensky’s. Even Mitchell had a little treat at the end of the night ;)

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I took advantage of my extra time this weekend and fit in A LOT of workouts – spinning to running to body pump to walks with Mitchell.

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The weather was also a HUGE treat over the weekend and I spent as much time outside as possible including a gorgeous bike ride along Lake Michigan and an afternoon at Arlington Park.

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On Sunday night, we had some friends over and grilled on our pool deck. Cheese + olives + sangria were big treats!

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My MIL treated me to a new scarf. I love it – the color is perfect and it matches most of what I own :)

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Overall, it was a great weekend FULL of treats, friends and family time. I wish every weekend were 3 days long!

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How did you treat yourself this past week? What is your favorite new beauty find?

Challenge time!

Happy Memorial Day!

I’m getting ready to head out and enjoy the rest of my long weekend – I hope you are too :) I’m just popping in to share a quick post with y’all to let you know about an upcoming challenge. A bunch of you have reached out recently with questions about the AdvoCare 24-Day Challenge and now is a great time to jump in!


My team has a large group challenge starting on June 9th and I’d love for you to join us!

The 24DC ends just before Independence Day and is a great way to help you kick of a healthy summer.

Reach out to me ( if you have any questions. You can also find more specific product information here.

And if you get a chance, make sure to wish Katie a happy birthday today!

Barbacoa Beef with Homemade Chile Sauce

Can I get a hallelujah for the upcoming 3-day weekend?

Memorial Day, I love you.

If it were up to me, I’d fit my 40+ hours in between Monday and Thursday each week allowing myself an extra day to get shit done relax on the weekends. But alas, 4-day work weeks aren’t going to become commonplace anytime soon, so I’m going to enjoy every last second of this one while it lasts!

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Speaking of Memorial Day weekend,whatcha up to with your extra day outside of the office?

If your family is anything like mine, you’ll be grilling and enjoying the beautiful weather on a patio with a cold beverage in hand. Because it is a grilling holiday, I will gladly be foregoing my cooking duties and allowing Chef Kyle takeover the kitchen this weekend.

Time away from the kitchen means more time relaxing… and by relaxing I mean blogging and body pumping and soaking up the sun while walking Mitchell ;)

The Chef himself has allowed me to share one of his newest recipe successes here on ONW with y’all today! Get excited – even a former vegetarian like myself was quickly convinced that this was, hands down, one of the best recipes that Kyle has made.

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And don’t get me started on the homemade chile sauce. (Kyle Chile?! Hehe…)  The thick, flavorful sauce is potentially the best thing I have ever tasted. Like ever, ever tasted. Ever.

Plus, this recipe is pretty much hands off, making it the perfect party food. You throw all of the ingredients into a dutch oven, let it cook for a few hours, and voila – a meal! Kyle chose to serve the barbacoa beef over corn tortillas and top it with avocados and homemade chile sauce, but it would also be delicious served atop a sweet potato or in a sandwich.

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Barbacoa Beef with Homemade Chile Sauce (slightly adapted from Food & Wine Magazine)

Serves 6-8, taco-style


  • 4 ancho chiles, seeded
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 15 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 bay leaves
  • 6 pounds, bone in beef short ribs
  • 2 TBSP oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Cilantro, for topping


Preheat oven to 325 degrees and heat chiles over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Slice chiles into 1-inch cubes. Combine chiles, celery, carrots, onion, garlic and bay leaves in dutch oven and set aside. In a large bowl, toss short ribs with oregano and cumin and set on top of the vegetables in the dutch oven. Pour 2-3 cups of water over meat and vegetables and cover with foil. Cook for 3.5 hours, until meat is tender.

Remove short ribs from dutch oven and set aside to cool. Meanwhile, strain liquid from roasted vegetables and skim off fat. Remove bay leaves and place vegetables into food processor. Slowly pour in strained liquid and puree in processor until smooth. Once meat has cooled slightly, remove from bones and shred. Serve as desired, topping with chile sauce and cilantro. Enjoy!

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What also makes me happy about this recipe is that it’s fairly simple with a short ingredient list. Typically, Chef Kyle likes to create dishes that call for 50+ ingredients, most of which we can’t find within a 100-mile radius of Chicago. After the recipe is made, we’re left with 1/3 of a squid eye in the fridge because I hate wasting food and think we have the potential of using it before it goes to waste. (FYI, to keep you from thinking I am weirder than I actually am… We’ve never actually cooked with squid eyes before, but I couldn’t think of another bizarre ingredient off the top of my head!)

What are you doing this Memorial Day weekend? We have LOTS on the list – dinner out on Friday, two birthday parties on Saturday, an Eagle Scout ceremony on Sunday and potentially a horse racing track or beach volleyball on Monday!

Sanibel Island & Cape Coral – Great Eats in Florida

I meant to share this post with y’all the week I returned from Florida but time has a way of slipping by much too quickly.

I love reading reviews of restaurants before traveling to a new place, so I figure better late than never! And since I’ll be in Florida yet again in a week and a half for work, I thought I’d share my restaurant recommendations for the Ft. Myers area with you for What I Ate Wednesday with Jenn!

The first two restaurants I’m sharing were selected by my coworkers. We all went out as a large group each night and since I was new to the area, I let everyone else make the food decisions. Plus I’m the newbie so they probably wouldn’t have listened to me anyways ;)

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The first restaurant we visited was Lady Lobster.

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Upon arrival, we were less than impressed. Lady Lobster is located in a strip mall and the scene is… how do I say this… more like that of a fish market than that of a restaurant. We were all fairly concerned we might get food poisoning! But to our shock and awe, Lady Lobster FAR exceeded our expectations. We had more food than we knew what to do with including multiple seafood towers, fried calamari, oysters, lobsters and our entrees and it was ALL delicious – actually, it was probably some of the best seafood I’ve ever had. And the service was incredible! Our server took care of 30ish people in a timely and calm (key word, haha!) manner – she was great!

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Plus, they had lobster bibs and introduced me to Secret of the Islands body scrubs so I will forever be indebted to them ;)

My second night out with the team was to Brew Babies.

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It’s set in a quiet area, back from the main road and has an outdoor patio with live music and fountains. And it smelled like the most gorgeous summer garden you will ever experience.

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The service was somewhat slow, but they kept good wine coming and the dessert was to die for so I quickly forgave them. You MUST get the dessert if you visit Brew Babies – carrot cake, key lime pie and freshly baked cookies with whipped cream. #idie

Brew Babies Collage

The next time I went out to eat was for my wedding anniversary dinner with Kyle! {On Wednesday night my team rented a boat and cruised around while munching on snacks and enjoying some much needed beverages ;)}


I used my trusted Trip Advisor app and found a highly recommended restaurant on Sanibel Island, Traders Cafe. While it didn’t have the Gulf views or the romantic atmosphere we were hoping for, it was by far one of the best restaurants we indulged in over the weekend. We toasted 4 years with a southern brew (the heat had me craving beer) and enjoyed ceviche to start and seafood pasta for our main entree.

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It was beyond delicious and even though it was a little bit louder than we would have liked, we would go back in an instant!

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Because the hubs is a sports fanatic and both the Chicago Blackhawks and the Derby were on TV that weekend, we hit up Pincher’s Crab Shack so he could have his beloved sports bar. #wifeoftheyear

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While Pinchers was a good sports bar and the stone crab was good, I probably wouldn’t frequent it for food alone. It’s like the Applebee’s of seafood in my opinion ;)

On one of our stand-up paddle boarding fail days, we decided to eat and drink our way through the day instead… Great problem solvers, we are! Our first stop was The Green Flash in Captiva.

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We arrived right when they opened and I believe I had my mimosa ordered before we were seated. I got my MBA for a reason – efficiency, time wastes money! ;) #kidding…

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I decided to go with the fish tacos and Kyle had the grouper sandwich. Both were delicious and the view was great. Their patio must be a fun party in nice weather, especially since you can pull your boat right up!

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One last place I want to call out is an adorable wine boutique, specialty grocer and souvenir shop – Marina Village Trading Company.

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The shop was located in our hotel’s neighborhood along the marina and is a convenient place to pick up your evening bottle of wine or snacks for the boat. Plus, they have amazing happy hour specials – 2-for-1 wine and beer. You’ll know where to find me between the hours of 3-7 the next time I’m in Cape Coral!

Do you like reading restaurant reviews? Yep, it’s how I find all of the great places when traveling!

Have you ever been to Captiva/Sanibel Island? This was my first time.

#36 Treat Yourself Tuesday

As I’m writing this post Monday evening, I’m sitting here with a numb face. I can’t smile or talk or eat or kiss Mitchell’s nose. Heck, I can’t even flare my nostrils! Plus, I have Crockpot Salsa Chicken cooking and I don’t think I’ll be able to enjoy it tonight.

Stupid dentist.

I actually have fairly good teeth, but apparently the sealants I had put on my molars when I was a teenager finally wore off so I had a few cavities to take care of. I blame genetics for my “deep” molars… ahem, Mom #sendcookies. Please and thank you :)

Thankfully, my dental experience was on Monday so it won’t interfere with my glorious Treat Yourself Tuesday!

Treat Yourself Tuesday Badge

If you’re new to TYT, head over here to read about why I am a supporter and advocate for treating ourselves – even in the smallest of ways – everyday! I promise you will fall in love with the idea and once you do, please link up below :)

Since I’m refusing to take photos of myself in my numb state, you’re just going to have to take my word that I was successful last week in finding a few cute summer pieces. Tuesday night wasn’t a success, it was more along the lines of a disaster but I’ll save that story for another day never. Thankfully, most days of the week I work in the middle of Chicago’s shopping extravaganza so I found some steals at Old Navy and I promise to snap a few photos when I don’t have that drugged-out-on-novocaine look going on.

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{Quick random note – I just Googled novocaine to figure out the proper spelling and apparently that is what they use to numb your parts during childbirth?!?! Helllllllz to the no. I can’t stand the stuff on my face and don’t want to think about it going anywhere else on my body… Also, it is in the same drug class as cocaine. Glad to know the dentist put 10 shots of the stuff into my face…}

Anyways, I digress – Back to this week’s treats!

This week I was lacking some serious motivation to cook. Like seriousssss motivation. Thankfully, there are fabulous food options on every corner in Chicago and I treated myself to a lunch out on Thursday at Native Foods Cafe. Vegan tacos + sweet potato “fries” :)

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Friday night I hit up a new-to-me bar with some new girlfriends – Three Dots and a Dash. It’s tiki-themed and the drinks were super fun!

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On Saturday, I treated myself to a manicure. I don’t remember the last time I had one and my nails were in desperate need. I can’t remember the color but it is the perfect neutral for my skin tone.

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Also, Saturday night at CINQ Chicago’s summer event was a blast and a huge treat!

Finally, having this guy come home is a pretty big treat too… mainly because he took care of the cooking all weekend ;)

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Okay, your turn! How did you treat yourself this week?

CINQ Chicago – Summer Kick-Off Celebration

On Saturday evening, Kyle and I attended our inaugural CINQ Chicago event.

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Before I get into all of the fabulous details, let me tell you a little bit about CINQ. CINQ is a Chicago food, wine and social club for foodies, bloggers, Chicagoans and anyone that has a passion for great food and wine. To become a member of CINQ, you must be referred by an existing member, complete an application and agree to the following rule:

  • Members must keep the names of CINQ members, co-founders, chefs, sommeliers and event locations a secret from non-members. 

Because of this rule, and the fact that I don’t want to be kicked out of the exclusive social club after my first event, I won’t be sharing ALL of the details from Saturday. I’ll give you just enough to keep you curious and wanting more ;)

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The theme of the Summer Kick-Off Celebration was along the lines of an elegant Southern-style BBQ. Both the food and the cocktails were reminiscent of a backyard summer party – lemonade to deviled eggs to braised pork to a s’mores buffet, and everything was perfectly prepared and amazingly delicious.

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The event was held in a quaint loft in the city. The simple decor set the theme and the loft was arranged with a long table for dinner, appetizer buffet, wine and cocktail table and a s’mores bar.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by the co-founders and found our seats at the large table.

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Over the next hour, we chatted with other members while sipping on Rhubarb French 75 {for her} and Apricot Old Fashioned {for him} cocktails and snacking on fried dill pickles, BBQ-deviled eggs and thick bacon slab bites.

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Dinner kicked off with an introduction by the co-founders and then we helped ourselves, buffet-style, to the meal.

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BBQ braised pork shoulder, Louisiana redfish with brussels sprouts, watermelon salad, grilled corn on the cob, fried biscuits and butter. Oh the butter! There were two flavors – meyer lemon-brown sugar butter and truffled-honey butter. O to the M to the G – I almost took a spoon to the truffled butter but then remembered that I was in a social situation ;)

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After dinner, Kyle and I helped ourselves to the s’mores bar and continued great conversations with new friends before heading home for the evening.

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And, since I know many of you are interested after my desperate Instagram plea for fashion advice, here are the details of my outfit!

I decided to re-wear a dress I had in my closet – I bought it from BCBG last year for the Kentucky Oaks. Kyle wore his seersucker suit that he purchased for the Derby and it was perfect for the occasion!

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After a shipping debacle with Zappo’s, I made an emergency shoe shopping trip on Friday night and found the perfect pair at Banana Republic – the Sabrine Wedge. They looked great with my dress and will be perfect with crops, shorts and other dresses this summer. I also found my earrings – the Orchid Burst Statement Earrings, at Banana Republic. They were heavy but looked great with my champagne, cream and gold color theme.

Our first CINQ Chicago event was SO much fun. If you live in the Chicago area and love food and wine as much as I do, I highly recommend learning more and applying for membership!

What is your favorite summer BBQ food? I love potato salad and s’mores <– of course!

Are you a member of an “underground” social club? Thanks to Katie for introducing me to CINQ!

Marathon Training Schedule

I had planned to write this big, long post about why my marathon training schedule is planned out as it is below.

Instead, I decided to do some online shoe shopping for a foodie event I have on Saturday night. #priorities

So, here’s the quick explanation…

  • I love Body Pump.
  • I want to incorporate more than one day of strength training each week.
  • Hal Higdon is a running genius.
  • Yoga helps relieve my stress and forces me to stretch.
  • I’m afraid I’ll injure myself (and get bored with the pavement…) if I run too often.
  • I compromised and did an every other week thang.

Problem solved.

Marathon Schedule

Good strategy? I think so, especially because it was created in a spreadsheet.

Also, the ZOOMA Chicago Half Marathon/10k lines up perfectly with my training schedule. Who wants to run 13.1 with me on August 2nd? Get 10% off here.

Fellow race trainers – what is your running strategy for the upcoming months? Is there anything I’m missing? 

The most important piece of running gear

The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of PUMA.

Earlier this year, I signed up for the Chicago Marathon.

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While I may second guess my decision on the daily, I’ve been slowly but surely preparing myself for a summer full of training.

I’ve been increasing my outdoor running mileage.

My training plan and running group are set – I’m sharing my training schedule with y’all tomorrow!

I’ve come to the realization that my Friday nights starting June 13th are going to be pretty darn lame.

And last, but most definitely not least, I’ve been gearing up {literally!} for training.

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In my opinion, when it comes to running, your shoes are the most important factor.

Yes, good running pants are important (we don’t want any inner-thigh chaffage ’round these parts!) as is a well-fitting sports bra, but your feet take a serious beating with every. single. stride. and your shoes need to provide the proper support for optimal performance.

Thankfully, I’ve had the opportunity to try out a pair of PUMA’s new Formlite XT Ultra shoes over the past few weeks!

I’ve worn them on my morning walks with Mr. Mitchell. I’ve pounded them into the Chicago pavement while running. They’ve kept me upright during Body Pump squats. Heck, they’ve even taken me to the office because I’m one of those super fashionable professionals that sports PUMA’s with a maxi skirt on the way into work ;)

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Needless to say, these shoes have been around the block a few times and they have yet to disappoint!

For starters, they are super light. So light that the first time I put them on, I forgot I was wearing shoes! It’s easy to do when there’s no added weight on your feet. It definitely impresses me how much faster I can run when my feet aren’t weighed down.

But, just because they are light, it doesn’t mean they’re lacking support. When I had my feet analyzed a few months ago, I found out that I have crazy high arches and need a bit of support because of it. The Formlite XT Ultra’s have provided the perfect amount of support whether it be a gentle walk, a sprint or a lunge with heavy weights.

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And can we talk style for a minute? My 11-year old self would be SO jealous of my new kicks. I was obsessed with black running shoes as a kid, but was nervous when I pulled these PUMA’s out of their shoe box. I hadn’t worn black athletic shoes in years (I typically go for the brighter shoes as you all know!) and wasn’t sure what I would think.

Surprisingly enough, I love them! They blend in really well with black leggings and create a long, lean look from your torso to your toes. They also don’t have that “I just came from the gym” look to them, so you could easily pair these with leggings and a casual top for a trendy weekend brunch outfit after an early morning sweat session.

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I can’t wait to continue to sport my Formlite XT Ultra’s throughout the rest of my marathon training!

What is the most important piece of gear when it comes to your training? Were you a fan of black sneakers as a kid?

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