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Cycling Tips for Beginners: Bike, Training Plan, Fuel + Video

This post has been created in partnership with Schwinn, all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Over the summer I found it really hard to stay motivated with running. I had hit all my major running goals for the year: completing my first marathon, and getting a sub-two hour half marathon. After that I found it hard to come up with a new goal that I wanted to tackle. I have a lot of friends here in Utah that regularly compete in triathlons, and all of a sudden I had a huge drive to take up cycling and workout with them in the early mornings. It's been a huge learning curve getting ready for my first century ride the last several weeks, so I thought I'd impart some recently acquired knowledge for anyone else looking to get started too. 

Also, be sure to head to the bottom of the post for more information and a fun video!

Picking The Right Bike:
I had a mountain bike that I had purchased a few months prior, but mountain bikes, and road bikes are definitely not the same thing, and I knew if I wanted to be serious about cycling, I was going to need to get a road bike.

I was really overwhelmed by all the brands and options out there for road bikes. When it was time for me to choose which bike I wanted to ride, I went to Schwinn because they were a brand that I already knew and trusted. My mountain bike was a Schwinn, and in addition to that, I'd ridden on several Schwinn bikes as child. 

Carbon road bikes are super popular because their light frames make it easer to maneuver and go faster. When I saw that Schwinn carried the Fastback Carbon Road Bike, I knew that it was going to be the perfect bike to get me ready for my first century ride that I'm doing at the end of this week. 

The Fastback Carbon is the perfect entry level road bike because it gives you a desirable carbon frame, with upgraded components such as Shimano 105 shifters and derailleurs, which aren't common among other entry level bikes. 

Finding The Right Training Plan:
Once I picked which century I wanted to do, I knew that I had eight weeks to prepare. This might not be enough time for some people to get ready if you haven't been active for a long time, but I had already done a marathon this year, and had been consistently running through the summer, so eight weeks seemed like the perfect amount of time for me to get going. 

I typically would do two shorter rides during the week, and then a longer ride on the weekend. The weekend rides would get longer and longer each week, to help build endurance. During the week I would do one ride at a pretty steady pace, and then the other ride I would incorporate more speed and sprints into my ride to help me get faster. On the days I wasn't riding, I would typically do 30+ minutes of cross training, like running or swimming.

Finding The Right Nutrition Plan: 
Fueling your body while riding can be a tricky thing to learn! For my rides during the week I typically don't take anything more than a water bottle with me. For my rides on the weekend though, it can get a lot more complex. I typically will carry two bottles on my bike, and will start drinking around the 30 minute mark. After an hour of cycling, I'll take an energy gel, and then take those every 45 minutes until I'm finished with my ride. When I get to the half way point of my ride, I'll likely take something more substantial like a granola bar to tide me over and keep the hunger away! 

3 Ways to Future Proof Your Body

I'm at the point in life where I'm starting to notice my body isn't the same now as it was when I was 15. Shocking. I've found that Derek and I are so focused on making sure that our children's health needs are being met, that we often forget our own. There are definitely some areas in my life that I know I need to make changes in now, so that I can be healthy and strong when I'm older too.

Resistance Training
As you get older, your body loses around 1% of muscle mass per year. You will find that your metabolism will start to slow down, and areas of your body that used to be tight and firm will begin to lose their athletic appearance. if you want to get around this then one thing that you can do is resistance training. You need to use weights that are manageable and you also need to focus on compound movements as well. Low-intensity is your friend here and this will really help to build your level of physical fitness. You should never train to fail either, for example, lifting until you cannot lift anymore. This won’t get you anywhere and it certainly won’t help you to get into the mindset of looking after yourself. The idea here is to get all of the benefits of strength training without suffering from burnout as this will have a huge impact on your body and it will also bring about a lot of positive change as well.

Stay Hydrated
A hydrated body will always operate at its highest level of efficiency. When you are hydrated, you
can flush toxins from your body and you can also lubricate your joints as well. Sure, you may not have any joint problems right now and this is great but you might in the future. Staying hydrated right now will certainly help you to combat the signs of aging and it will also improve your energy and even your digestion. If you're able to stay on top of hydration now, it will be all the easier to keep at it when you're older. Of course, staying hydrated can also help you to combat wrinkles and even fine lines as well so you can look younger for longer.

Regular Appointments
So many people skip out on their dentist appointment because they feel as though they can’t afford it or they even feel as though they don’t need to go. This is not the case at all and if you make decisions like this now then they will also affect you a lot in your later life. It is a good idea for you to look into dental insurance no waiting period providers as they can help you to save a ton of money and it also means that you won’t be stuck trying to find someone later on. Regular doctor visits and health checks are also important because they can help you to identify any health issues that you might have early-on and this is one of the best ways for you to look after yourself.

6 Ways To Keep Your Kids Healthy This School Year

With school back in session for most families around the country, I'm already starting to see parents complaining about back-to-school germs and illnesses floating around their homes and communities. It brings to the forefront of my mind all the times Em picked up a stomach bug last year, and how traumatic that was for her and us due to her heightened susceptibility to illness. Not only that, but each time Em gets sick, there's a chance she won't bounce back to where she was before the illness struck, which is a huge fear for both Derek and I. 

With those fears in mind, this year I want to be a lot more proactive about the measures we're taking in our home to prevent illnesses as best as we can. Derek and I have admittedly never been parents that have been good about giving their kids daily baths and keeping up on all the hygiene things as well as we should, and that's one of the biggest things I'm looking to change this school year. 

1. Daily Baths: Derek and I have never been good about giving our kids daily baths. In the past this is something that we would do 1-2 times a week, simply because our kids never really got dirty. They spent a majority of their time playing inside the house, and never got sweaty, and so baths weren't a huge priority. 

Now that the kids are in school and they have recess each day, they constantly come home covered in playground dirt, and they need a bath to get clean. Most days Jay comes home from school looking like he fought in some strenuous war that day, but it's really just playground filth. 

2. Clean Their Fingernails: Not to brag, but if there is one thing I do well at, it's cleaning my kids nails. They touch things at school all day long, and come home with enough dirt in their nails to plant potatoes (something my grandma always said!) I like to take the fingernail clippers and get the dirt out of their nails right when they get home because my kids are constantly picking their noses and rubbing their hands all over their faces, and all those germs from the school are hibernating in those dirty nails! 

3. Sponge Baths: On nights when my kids might not be crazy dirty, and a bath is skipped, especially for Em, I like to do sponge baths. I simply get a wash cloth loaded with body wash and water and scrub Em down right before we put her jammies on before bed. I dry her off with a towel, and then it's like we got the benefits of giving a bath without actually doing it. Getting her in and out of the tub all the time is quite the strenuous task, so this is a great option on nights when she's not so filthy. 

4. Essential Oils: While I'm not out selling and hustling essential oils all day long, I love love love them in our house.  Our favorites are Onguard and Breathe from Doterra (I can hook you up if you want!), and when our kids show their first signs of illness, we're quick to rub these oils on their feet and put them in the diffuser in their bedrooms! 

5. Clean Sheets: Your kids spend so much time in their beds and especially on their pillows. Keeping these cleaned (I typically wash them once a week!) will be a great way to to make sure you're washing out any lingering bacteria from their mouths and sweat that they produce while sleeping. 

6. No Shoes in the House: I'm convinced that shoes are the filthiest things to enter our home. We have a hard rule that the kids take their shoes off right when they get in the door, and they stay in the shoe closet. That way the bacteria and germs aren't getting trapped into our carpet that the kids are constantly playing and crawling on. 

These are the things we're doing and working on to keep our kids healthy this year, I'd love to know what you do in your homes in the comments below! 

Reasons Why You Should Add Andorra To Your Ski Trip Bucket List

If you are looking for a place to take your friends, family or children this winter for a ski holiday, one of the places you might want to consider is Andorra. Andorra is a stunning area in the south of France which is the home of many amazing ski slopes and mountains which will not only please the ski lover, but also anyone who enjoys beautiful countryside scenery. Here are some of the top reasons why you should take a trip to Andorra for you next holiday.

1. They are cheap

The beauty of choosing Andorra ski holidays over a holiday in the alps is the fact that due to its lesser popularity it is a lot cheaper. You will be able to treat everyone you love to a wonderful skiing holiday for a fraction of the price and you can also enjoy less people on the slopes too!

2. Vallnord and Grandvalira offer lots
When you visit Andorra and you are deciding which of the parks to visit for yourself and your family, the choice will likely come down to a battle between Vallnord and Grandvalira. Whichever one of these that you choose, you will be able to have access to more than just the advanced slopes for seasoned skiers. You will also be able to see lots of green and blue slopes for beginners which will be a safe place for the children to practise and for the less experienced members of your party to learn.

3. Duty free shopping
One of the things people enjoy about going to the  airport and going on holiday is the fact that you get duty free shopping and the prices can be a fraction of what you normally pay. But did you know that Andorra offers exactly the same thing? The beauty of Andorra means that you can grab a bargain in your time between the slopes and it will make your your holiday even better!

4. Hot lunches for everyone

Skiing is a fun hobby and it can be a really wonderful activity to participate in with your family and with your friends. However, one of the biggest things you might suffer from on the slopes is the freezing cold temperature. As much as being out on the slopes is amazing and a unique experience, getting back to your chalet at the end of the night in front of the fire is always welcome. The beauty is that Andorra offers hot lunches for everyone as they are on the slopes so you can keep yourself warm throughout the day with some hearty food.

5. Sunny days
Andorra might be a cold place to be but that doesn’t mean that it is miserable and cloudy all the time. In fact, because a lot of the slopes break the clouds we are often found in the sunlight for skiing. Sun and skiing is a stunning combination as it makes the snow glisten and sparkle around you. You might even get a bit of a tan if you stay in it for a while!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream Cake

I grew up thinking that an ice cream cake was simply ice cream smashed into a cake pan, with hot fudge on top, maybe some nuts, and then you cut out squares of ice cream when the time is ready. It wasn't until after I moved away from home that I learned there is so much more to ice cream cake, and that it's even more delicious then what I was lead to believe growing up. 

This recipe is super easy since you use a boxed cake mix, store bought cookies, and store bought ice cream. Could you make things a million times harder than you need to by making the ice cream, cake, and cookies from scratch? Sure. But all roads lead to Rome, and frankly, if we're going to Rome I want to get there as soon as possible. 

One little tip before we get to the recipe, if you want to eat the leftovers of this another day, store it in your freezer. When you're ready to eat it later, cut off another piece (I had to use a large serrated knife to cut it fresh out of the freezer), and then pop your slice in the microwave for 30 seconds, and it will be perfect! Not completely melted, but just the right consistency for everything that it's enjoyable! 

1 chocolate cake mix
1/2 gallon chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream
1 (13 ounce) bag chewy chocolate chips
3/4 cup unsalted butter
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

Pre heat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cake mix according to package directions, and then divide between two nine inch cake pans. Bake in the oven for however long your box says, and then cool on a wire rack when done. 

**Tip for baking cakes** I trace the bottom of my cake pans on wax paper, and then cut out the circle and place it on the bottom of my cake pan. I then spray the cake pans with cooking spray, and coat the wax paper in there too. That way when it comes out of the oven, the cakes come out easily, and the wax paper peels off with ease, meaning nothing sticks and there is no mess! 

Once your cakes are cooled, grab a spring form pan (if you don't have one, you can use a freezer safe plate too! Put the first cake into your pan, and then microwave your half gallon of ice cream in 30 second increments so that it's soft enough to scoop out and spread easily. Pour all of your ice cream onto the cake and then spread it out evenly to all the edges. 

Next, grab your bag of cookies, and crumble 2/3 of the package on top of the ice cream layer. Once your cookies are crumbled, top them with the other cake, and then place it in the freezer for 2-3 hours to firm up. 

When you're ready to serve, pour your chocolate chips and butter into a pot on medium heat and stir together until everything is melted and evenly combined. Remove your cake from the freezer, pour the chocolate topping on top, and allow it to drip over the edges. Decorate the top of the cake with the remaining cookies, and then serve immediately! 

Family Room Inspiration Board

Yesterday on the way home from school Jay asked, "how many more days until we move?" I told him twelve more days, and then had that heart attack moment where I realized we move in twelve days and I have nothing packed. Nothing. Not one item is in a box. I think it's because we're only moving eight doors down from our current house, but I have a feeling it's going to sneak up on me like a ton of bricks. 

I figured since we're getting so close to the actual move, it's time I went ahead and actually started planning what each of the spaces are going to look like in our new home. This family room was an addition onto the house, and is going to serve many purposes for our family. It's going to serve as our TV room, play room, and when we have guest come over, Jay will sleep in here, and his room will serve as the guest room. 

Right off the bat this room will be getting a fresh coat of light gray paint. This room is very narrow in nature, and the previous owners used a long sectional to fill the room with seating space, and we plan on doing the same thing. The short end of the sectional will go in the back by the window, and then the back of the couch will run along the long wall. 

On the wall opposite of the couch, we plan on wall mounting our flat screen TV, and then putting this console table underneath it to store all of our movies, remotes, and various electronics. We'll decorate the top of the table with some fake plants and a couple picture frames, and then this area will be complete. Above the TV we want to hang a wooden sign of some sort. I love this family one from Etsy that I found recently. 

There is a short wall behind the door that leads to the garage, and on that short wall we plan on using the same cube storage system that we're using in our current home. We have these gray bins from Target to fill the bottom row, and then toys and books will fill the other shelves. Above the shelf we'll hang this picture of Jay and Em from our home in Georgia. 

We have a fake fiddle leaf fig plant that we're using in our current living room, and our plan is to get an actual pot for it, and then keep it next to the sofa in this space too. 

All the lighting fixtures in this home are pretty outdated, and so we'll likely swap the current ceiling fan for this one that is a little more simple and understated. 

Lastly, we'll hang our temple gallery wall that is in our current living room, and hang it on the wall above the couch in this new space. 

Are you currently redecorating any rooms in your home? I've been dying to take part in the Live Free Miranda Room by Room Challenge, and am super excited to get into this house and get going on that! 

Quick and Easy Black Bean Burgers

Something you may not know about me is that for most of high school I was a vegetarian. The determining factor wasn't my love for animals or the environment, but it was mostly an excuse to not eat my moms dinners, which bless her heart, weren't always my favorite.

As a result I spent many nights in high school eating various veggie burgers, and bowls of brown rice and peas to make up for the lack of protein in my life. Over the years I've seen a ton of recipes online to make black bean burgers at home, but never tried them until now.

I was surprised by how easy these were to make, how well the burgers actually held together in the pan, and how I was able to feed them to my children, and they had no clue that the burger they were eating didn't come from a cow. My kid ate an entire burger made of black beans. If that doesn't sell you on this recipe, I don't know what will.

Yields 8 burgers
2 (14.5 ounce) cans Black Beans (rinsed and drained)
1 cup Italian bread crumbs 
1 egg 
1 tablespoon onion (chopped) 
Salt and Pepper to taste 
1/4 teaspoon cumin 
1 tablespoon olive oil 
8 whole wheat hamburger buns 
1 tomato (sliced) 
4 tablespoons mayonnaise 
4 tablespoons ketchup 
8 tablespoons guacamole 
8 lettuce slices 
8 sweet gherkins pickles

In a large bowl, using the bottom of a cup, mash the black beans so that they're all uniform in texture, leaving some chunks. Then mix in the bread crumbs, egg, onion, salt and pepper, and cumin.

In a large skillet on medium high heat, pour the oil in the pan, and let it come to temperature. 

Form the burgers into 8 equal patties. I made mine round and flat so they would cook quickly and evenly. 

Cook on each side for 3 minutes, and then serve on a bun with lettuce, tomato, ketchup, mayo,  and guac, with a gherkin for garnish.