Showing posts with label fitness. Show all posts

Caring for Sensitive Gums and Teeth

Oral health and dentistry has always been an interest to me from a young age. Growing up going to the dentist was one of my very favorite things, and sometime between graduating high school, and going to collegeI became a licensed dental assistant. Here's a little peak into what I personally do to care for my sensitive gums and teeth.

caring for sensitive gums and teeth

Caring for Sensitive Gums and Teeth:

As I've gotten older I feel like my oral health routine has evolved beyond making sure I brush twice a day, to focusing a lot more on gum health and prolonging the longevity of my teeth and oral health. Within the last year I've noticed signs of gum sensitivity, so I've been hyper vigilant with keeping them as healthy as possible with three simple steps. 

caring for sensitive gums and teeth

Using a High Quality Mouthwash: 

Up until a few months ago I almost never used a mouthwash in my oral care routine. However, I started having problems with food getting caught in the gums of my back molars which would cause them to become inflamed and get very sensitive. Since this started happening, I now make a huge effort to use a mouthwash for sensitive teeth, like this one from Listeriene, and swish hard after dinner each evening. I also floss at this point in the day as well, but I find vigorously swishing mouthwash often times gets some debris that flossing leaves behind and really helps my gums to feel better. 

caring for sensitive gums and teeth

Not Brushing My Teeth So Hard

I noticed for several weeks that my gums were super sensitive, and when talking with another friend in the dental field we'd concluded that I was brushing way too hard. While I love brushing my teeth several times a day, I've been super mindful the last several weeks to be soft and not "scrub" at my teeth with my toothbrush. I've noticed less pain and sensitivity over the last week and I think the combination of LISTERINE® Gum Therapy Antiseptic Mouthwash, and being more mindful of my brushing is really working well together to get my mouth feeling better. 

caring for sensitive gums and teeth

Flossing Everyday: 

Like I mentioned previously, I have to keep up on flossing to help my gums to not hurt. Sometimes food just getting stuck in them causes me a lot of pain, especially if it's something like meat or popcorn kernals that can really wedge deep between the teeth. Flossing after dinnertime has really helped to keep inflammation at bay and help my gums to recover from heightened episodes of sensitivity that I might experience. 

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4 Activities to Improve Mental Health #HowRightNow

 This post is sponsored by the #HowRightNow initiative, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Over the last year I've been working really hard to be more open about mental health and my own personal experiences with anxiety, while also advocating for my readers and those who interact with me on social media to prioritize their own mental wellbeing. 

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I've teamed up with the #HowRightNow initiative to bring awareness to mental health and those who experience anxiety, depression, grief, etc...  #HowRightNow is an initiative funded through the CDC Foundation and they're encouraging everyone to take 10-15 minutes to prioritize their mental health through an activity of their choice on 10/15/2020. You can head over to to learn more about this campaign.

Did you know that taking just 10-15 minutes for yourself each day to do something that you love can have a tremendously positive impact on your own mental wellbeing? I have always been very passionate about taking the time I need each day to do something to fill my own cup, so that I have love and energy to pour back into my family and other relationships. Finding that time to go on a run, read a book, work on a project, or do something by myself has been so valuable to me, especially during this pandemic. 

Activities to Improve Mental Health:

Take a Break:

Over the summer when the kids were home all the time I would literally take my yoga mat out to the backyard and just lay in the grass for 10-15 minutes just to feel the warm sun on my face and to sit in silence. I can't tell you how amazing that time was for me each day and I think it's something I totally need to start up again!

Wash Your Face/Hands in Cold Water:

Washing your face and hands in cold water is said to relieve tension. This is seriously one of my favorite things to do and feels so good when I'm starting to feel overwhelmed. I love heading into my bathroom and just holding my hands under the cold faucet and throwing some in my face too. I can instantly feel some of the stress leaving my body! 


You guys all know I love going on my daily run. This is something that is crucial for me. I love getting outside and just running through the neighborhoods in my area. There is something so therapeutic for me when I'm out on my run where I'm just able to process through all of my thoughts while also getting away from everything all at the same time! For other people this could look like a group fitness class, yoga, going on a walk or hike, the sky is really the limit! Just get your body moving!

Take a Break From The News and Social Media:

There is so much stressful news, thoughts, and opinions online right now. Sometimes it's good to tell yourself that you're not going to consume that information for a day or two, and just step away and put your time into something else. I know for me I personally need those breaks from time to time, and have even found value from using the "snooze" function on Facebook to mute certain posts from my feed for 30 days. Setting up your social media to work for your and not against you is crucial for your mental health!

For more ideas on things you can do to improve your emotional wellbeing, head on over to the website where you can see even more ideas on things you can do during your 10-15 minute break each day!

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6 Ways To Keep Your Kids Healthy in the Classroom

With school back in session for our kids, and thinking about the normal cold and flu season coming up, along with the pandemic we currently find ourselves in, keeping my kids healthy in the classroom and at home is at the forefront of my mind so that we can avoid unwanted illnesses as much as possible. Since our kids are at two different schools it's important to me that one kid doesn't bring home germs and give them to our other child, that they then take to their school and contaminate all their teachers and friends. I believe school is what is best for each of my kids right now, and so with that in mind, I believe we have a big responsibility to do our part in keeping our children and home as clean as possible so that we can help keep our communities healthy. These are six things we're personally doing to keep our kids healthy in the classroom. 

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How to Keep your Kid's Healthy in the Classroom:

Daily Baths After School:

When our kids were younger baths were never a huge priority because we never went anywhere or did anything to get dirty so we would do them about twice a week. Since they started school a few years ago we've gotten into a much better routine of about every other day. This year though, we're a lot more strict about it and get the kids into the tub after dinner each night. We don't want them sleeping with whatever germs might be on them, and we especially don't want those germs going back into the school the next day. All the dirty laundry goes into one basket for the entire house, the kids clean off, and get into fresh clean pajamas. It's a little like a biohazard scene, but also necessary. 

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. 9/10 whatever I don't get out does come out in the bathtub after dinner, but keeping those nails clean is a huge way to prevent illness.

Wear A Face Mask:

A bit of a controversial topic, and I get it. That being said, if nothing else they do prevent you with being sprayed with someone else's sneeze and maybe we can all appreciate not being sprayed with other people's sneezes on a daily basis. Pandemic aside, these might reduce the spread of normal colds and illnesses this winter as well, which based on how often my own kids get sick, I kind of appreciate. That being said, these only really work if you're washing them all the time and not reusing the same one for a week. We have enough masks for us to each have a clean one for 4-5 days, and then we do one load of wash where we wash the masks only with lots of soap and extra hot water. 

An Essential Oil Routine:

While I'm not a Doterra sells rep, I can say I've used their oils pretty exclusively for the last eight years. The ones we use the most are OnGuard and Breathe. I have the little roller ball bottles of them and before my kids go to school I roll them on the backs of their necks to help boost up their bodies anyway I can. They're also amazing for fighting existing coughs or colds, and we keep these on hand 100% of the time. 

Clean Your Bedsheets Regularly:

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. 

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 onto our floors 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! 

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Self Care in the Summertime

This post was sponsored by SwimWays as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

We've all been through a lot the last several months, and with everyone being home all the time, I personally feel like self-care is so important for one's mental and emotional well-being. I'm sure we've all felt like we're carrying a lot of the load in terms of our family's productivity, entertainment, and overall wellbeing, which is why it's so important to remember to carve out some time to care for ourselves, even if it's just an hour on the weekend. Providing that space for yourself is crucial. 

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My Favorite Form of Self Care in the Summertime:
I've always loved going to the beach during the summer whether that was the ocean, lake, or even a local pond like we have near where we live. Being in the water just feels like summer to me, and I love to take advantage of it when possible.

For me, this looks like loading up on sunscreen, putting on my bathing suit, and grabbing my Original Spring Float from SwimWays. The Original Spring Float has a hammock-like style that cradles your body just below the surface of the water, keeping you cool on hot summer days. I love using this float because with typical floats that hold you completely above the water, you get extremely hot a lot faster than you do with The Original Spring Float. Being partially submerged in water is amazing. 

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If you want something that helps you stay a little more upright instead of laying completely flat, I also really love the SwimWays Spring Float Recliner. You're still partially submerged in water where your seat is, but it allows you to have full upright back support, and a footrest. Perfect if you want to sit up and read a book!

What to do while you're out in the water:
If I'm out in the water floating on my own, I love to listen to an audiobook or some of my favorite music (thank goodness most phones are waterproof nowadays right? I love to let myself aimlessly float around while listening to something that is calming and relaxing. If music or a book isn't your thing, just simply enjoy the sounds of nature and being away from the hustle and bustle of your everyday life. This is also a great time to clear your mind and meditate. 

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Yoga on the beach:
Once you're done in the water, dry off and put your SwimWays float back in it's convenient carrying case, and then take some time to stretch and do a few yoga poses on the beach. This will help you to feel more relaxed before you head back home and get back into your normal routine! 

What is your favorite way to do self care in the summertime? We're so lucky to have several ponds and lakes that we can visit right now, and I'm so grateful to be able to take advantage of them and get a little head space! 

Air Relax Compression Boots Review

Air Relax compression boots are the number one recovery tool for runners to recover faster between workouts to enhance optimal performance. 

Over the last several weeks I have really upped my training miles as I pursue a 10k on the track later this fall. One thing that has been on my mind while increasing mileage has been improving my recovery so I can continue with my training without risking injury. 

The Best Compression Boots for Runners:

I had been looking for the best cost effective compression boots that would help aide in my recovery without breaking the bank. A lot of comparable compression boots can cost upwards of $1,500, which isn't reasonable for most households. 

When I stumbled upon the Air Relax Leg Recovery System, I was immediately intrigued because they're 1/3 of the cost when compared to other brands, and do exactly the same thing. I knew they would be perfect to help aid my legs in recovery after long workouts.

What Are Air Relax Compression Boots?

The Air Relax Leg Recovery System is essentially two sleeves that you slide your legs into. You plug them into a machine, turn it on, and the chambers fill with air and squeeze your legs similar to when you get your blood pressure taken at the doctor's office. The pressure and compression on your legs is said to:
  • Boost oxygen distribution
  • Improve blood circulation
  • Boost lymphatic fluid movement
  • Reduce muscle fatigue
  • Lower risk of injury
  • Maximize your ability to refuel, rehydrate, and recover

How does the Air Relax Leg Recovery System Work?

Setup is super easy. Just make sure you put your legs into the correct sleeves that are labeled left and right leg. Make sure the sleeves are properly plugged into the control panel, and make sure the control panel is plugged into the wall. 

From there you can adjust the settings with which region you want the pressure to focus on, how little or how much pressure you want to have, and different programming options to target your specific areas. The Air Relax Leg Recovery system also has a great automatic program so you can just plug it in, hit the button, and let it do its thing. I typically like to run the recovery program once per day, and then adjust and hone in on any extra areas that need attention. 

What sets the Air Relax Leg Recovery System apart from other brands? 
I think the major thing is the difference in price without sacrificing quality. After my marathon my neighbor let me borrow their compression boots from another company and they were $1,500. While they worked and were wonderful in helping me recover, there is no way that I could ever justify that cost, and I'm assuming a lot of people feel the same way. The high price tag really put this amazing technology out of arms reach for the common consumer. 

In comes the Air Relax Leg Recovery System, which is currently on sale for less than 1/3 the cost of its competitors. I can say that the Air Relax Leg Recovery System brings to you everything you could ever want in leg compression boots, without sacrificing quality for a significantly lower price. If you've been looking to implement leg compression boots into your recovery routine, I could not recommend these anymore!

A Note About Sizing:

The Air Relax Leg Recovery System comes in three different sizes: 2, 3, and 4. There is a sizing chart when you click on the product and scroll down for all of the information. I will say that I am a hair under 5' 7'' and 120lbs, and the size 2 fits me perfectly. If I were any bigger though, I would 100% go up to the next size. 

For more information about The Air Relax Leg Recovery System, check out their site for pricing and details. 

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3 Thoughts About The 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta

The Olympic Marathon Trails were held in Atlanta over the weekend and for me, this is my super bowl. I've spent years following these athletes on social media, watching their training, trials, and triumphs. I'm a super fan when it comes to running, and so getting to watch the trials was everything for me. I have a lot of random thoughts on things I noticed while watching the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials, and thought I'd share them in a post so we can discuss if anyone else is a super fan like me. 

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1. Controversial Nike Shoes. Nike recently released a new running shoe named, "The Alphafly". Loaded with tons of foam, a carbon plate, and a big enough heel drop that it's caused a lot of controversy. Nike has had two similar models before the Alphafly over the last few years (the Vaporfly 4% and the Vaporfly Next%), and people have broken lots of world records and personal bests while wearing these shoes. Some people believe the shoes give an unfair advantage and that they are a form of mechanical doping. 

It was amazing to see in the women's race that the first two finishers were wearing other shoe brands (the third place person was wearing the Alphaflys). First place finisher was wearing the Hoka Carbon X, while the other runner was wearing a new released Saucony Endorphin Pro. These shoes are also loaded with carbon fiber plates, but it was nice to see that 1) other shoe brands are catching on, and 2) Nike isn't the determining factor when it comes to running success. 

The mens race was won by three men in the controversial Nike shoes, so I don't really have many deep thoughts on that. 

2) Did pro runners drop their shoe sponsorships just to run in the Nike shoes? Many professional runners are sponsored by shoe brands. This is why so many other brands have rushed to make a carbon fiber racing shoe the last few months so that the playing field would be leveled a bit at the trials last weekend. Two runners I'm aware of in particular, Sarah Sellers who ran for Altra, and Allie Keiffer who ran for Asics, were both seen wearing the new Nike shoes on the marathon course. According to their instagram profiles neither one of them are affiliated with their shoe brands anymore and it makes me wonder if they did so just to wear the Nike shoes in the trials. This is of course just speculation, but it makes me wonder if it's gotten to the point where pro runners don't feel as though they can be successful without them. 

Clearly since the first and second place women were not in Nike's that's proof enough that it's not just down to shoes. 

3) People who are not natural born citizens running for team USA. There seems to be an interesting trend where people who are originally born in Africa come to college here in America, get citizenship somehow very quickly, and then run in our olympic trial races and run for our country in the olympics. It raises a few questions. 

1) Were these people not competitive enough to compete in their country so they came to our country where they'd have better odds of making an olympic team? 

2) Did these people really just come here for the greater opportunities we have here in general? 

3) Should olympic teams only be comprised of natural born citizens? I don't have a definitive opinion one way or the other, and Team USA isn't the only one experiencing this. Many people are moving to countries and gaining citizenship in a large variety of nations and then competing on their olympic teams. The African nations are historically stacked with amazing distance runners and so maybe these people really are just getting citizenship elsewhere to that they can make it to the olympics another way. 

This weekend at the trials two of the three men who will be representing Team USA, and two of the three women who will be representing Team USA are all originally from other African nations. To be clear, this isn't a question about race, it's simply a question stemming from, "Is this fair?" 

If you were at the trials and came in fourth place to two people who weren't originally from your country, would you feel like they unfairly took your spot at the olympics? It's a question I don't have an answer to, but would love to hear your opinions! 

All this being said, I am a huge fan of all of Team USA's athletes for the marathon this summer, and their personal stories really are nothing short of amazing. 

Did you watch the trials? What are your thoughts? I'd love to hear it all in the comments below! 

Update: I forgot Jacob Riley came in and took second place for the mens team when I was originally writing this. That means there is only one Non-US born citizen on the mens team. And those who have gained citizenship actually took a lot longer to get citizenship than I previously thought. 

That original comment about, "very quickly" was in reference to Leonard Korir who became a US citizen by joining the Army in 2015, and ran in the trials this weekend. I forgot that he wound up not placing in the end when he was passed by Riley and Abdirahman. 

This is why I shouldn't write posts late at night, and why I should definitely fact check some more. But I love the conversation and would love to see it continue!

Be sure to stay up-to-date on all of the latest things in our lives by following along in instagram @thehappyflammily!

January 2020 Running Report + Next Race

One of my goals this year was to get back into a consistent routine with running. Last year I had a few good races but nothing was ever consistent because I was battling stress fractures in my foot, and had two concussions earlier in the year.

When the new year hit I was more committed than ever to chase down some big goals, and really get to work. I've been running four days a week with one strength workout a week and I've been seeing huge improvements already. I've been running paces that I haven't ran since high school and it feels good to be tapping into that for the first time in 10 years.

January Running Totals:
Distance: 67.7 miles
Time: 10 Hours 29 Minutes
Average Pace: 9 Minutes 17 Seconds

This is such a huge improvement considering in December I ran a total of 12 miles, and most of those runs were well over 10 minute per mile pace! 

Last week I registered for my first race of 2020! I'll be running the Emigration Canyon Half Marathon on April 4th! I'm really excited because I've never ran down Emigration Canyon before, and I'm really hoping to get a new half marathon PR in 2020. My current PR is 1:53:00. My goal for this race is to simply try my hardest to break the two hour mark again. 

After that I'm hoping to run more and more half marathons throughout the year and hopefully chip away at my time until I hit 1:45:00. That is such a huge time goal. That's a race pace of 8:01 per mile, but I really believe that's in me somewhere! I don't think it's out of reach and my goal for 2020 is to keep trying until I get there! 

Do you have any big running goals this year? Do you have any races on your schedule? I'm hoping to add a 10k into the picture in March sometime, but for right now, I'm really excited to log more mile and get some more work in between now and April 4th!

Be sure to stay up-to-date on all of the latest things in our lives by following along in instagram @thehappyflammily!

5 Food Rules Post Eating Disorder

We all have stories that we surround ourselves with in terms of the foods we will and will not eat. As someone who spent a large part of their life struggling with an eating disorder, the stories I've told myself throughout my life have been both bogus, and disturbing. I consider myself mostly recovered from that part of my life, and now live by several rules that a previous version of myself would likely never allow.

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1) Full fat dairy, always. I believe in full fat dairy for several reasons. One, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Huston conducted a research study in which they found no correlation between consuming full fat dairy products and an increase risk of heart attack or stroke. Two, it just tastes better (that's opinion not science). Third, low-fat dairy products go through extra processing that full-fat dairy doesn't and is often loaded with sugar to compensate for taste, or worse, pumped full of zero calorie artificial sweeteners that don't do anything great for our bodies (coming from someone who loves Coke Zero, but I do realize it's doing nothing good for me...) And lastly, many vegetables contain vitamins A, D, E, and K, which need fat to metabolize and provide benefit for our bodies. Consuming these vegetables with full fat dairy and salad dressings helps your body to absorb these nutrients. 

2) Taste trumps everything. I believe in health and the benefits that certain foods can have for my body, but I can also gladly admit that whole wheat pasta and tortillas do not taste good, and I will pick the white options of those every time. That being said, I love whole wheat bread, these bran muffins that will change your life, and plenty of other healthy things, but I don't let health get in the way of taste. Food needs to be enjoyed, and wasting time eating food that does not taste good is not a priority to me. 

3) I believe organic is best, although I don't always choose it. We've made a big shift in our home this year to purchase more organic foods in an attempt to reduce the amount of artificial chemicals that we're consuming. That being said, buying all organic isn't always financially practical, or the organic options simply don't taste good (I'm looking at you cardboard tasting cereal). One thing we've really tried to do though is purchase strictly organic when it comes to meat and dairy products. If there is room in the budget we'll add more into our grocery purchases. This is what works for us right now. 

4) Carbs aren't bad. The keto diet is everything right now, and it just seems so bizarre to me. I know how it works and I get why people do it, but as an endurance runner, I need carbs to perform. 60% of my daily intake right now are carbohydrates, and I don't intend to change that anytime soon. Food is fuel, and if your fuel works for you thats great. I love carbs, they fuel me, and I hope we live a long and happy life together. 

5) Food is not good or bad. I don't believe that there are good foods and bad foods. Each food does different things for our bodies, and some are more nutritionally valuable than others, but I don't put labels on things, especially around our kids. I never tell my kids that something is "bad for them", and never tell them that their vegetables are "good for them." Do I tell my kids that eating their vegetables will help them grow big? Yes. Do I tell them eating their chicken will help them grow muscles? Yes. But I don't use labels of "good" and "bad" because I find that they can be damaging, especially for young children. I also don't withhold treats from my kids. Do I make them eat their more nutritionally dense food first? Yes. But nothing in our home is "off limits", and I want my children to grow up having a healthy relationship with all foods. 

Do you have food rules that you live by? Do any of my "rules" seem outlandish to you? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!

Be sure to stay up-to-date on all of the latest things in our lives by following along in instagram @thehappyflammily!

Friday Five Running Edition

One of my New Year goals was to rekinddle my love of running and racing in 2020. There are so many fun things I want to share with you on this topic from my new treadmill, a book I just read and love, some workouts that have been really amazing, and so much more! I'm in such a good groove right now, and I can already tell this part of my life in 2020 is going to bring some big and exciting things for me. 

1. Finishing a great book:
I recently finished A Life Without Limits, a book about Ironman champion Chrissie Wellington who despite struggling with an eating disorder for much of her teen and young adult life, threw her passion into racing Ironmans, and won the world championship race in Kona several times. The book is beyond inspiring, and I've been listening to it that last couple weeks during my own workouts. The book is super motivating because I'm now running faster than I have in years. Go figure. 

2. My running fitness is coming back strong:
After spending much of 2019 with a couple stress fractures in my heel and not doing much running/racing as I have in past years, I'd lost quite a bit of fitness. I've been working out consistently the last three weeks on our new treadmill and I'm hitting paces I literally haven't ran since high school. It's thrilling and is making me think up some really big dreams and goals for races in 2020. 

3. We got a new treadmill and I'm obsessed:
We got a new treadmill in November, and I'm obsessed with it. It's super inexpensive at only $379, but the thing I love about it is that you can make the part your feet land on softer, or more firm, depending on what you prefer. I've been running in the softest setting to be less impact on my heel while I recover and t's been amazing for me. I ran three miles in 24:27 last week, and my body felt great (despite being out of breath) the entire time. 

4. I need new running shoes: 
I am still having some heel pain, and I think it's time for some new running shoes. Since this is our year without spending, and our year of purchasing only ethical products should we need to spend money, I'd love any suggestions you have for the most ethical shoes brands. I'm leaning towards trying some new Saucony shoes, but would love to know what you're using and love. 

5. This weekend's long run is going to be amazing:
We're in St George this weekend, one of my very favorite places to run! I'm excited to run seven miles down one of the canyons tomorrow morning, and my heart is already fluttering at the thought of it! 

How has your running been this year? Are there any books, shoes, or workouts you've been loving? I want to hear all about it in the comments! 

3 Easy New Year Habits You Can Keep

I’ve partnered with Green Giant, Optimum Nutrition, vitafusion and L’il Critters as part of an Influencer Activation and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

I've seen so many good posts this year about obtainable New Years goals. I think that there is a huge movement right now about people being really intentional and specific with their lives, and it's a movement I really love seeing. I don't want to set huge goals that are going to lead to burnout in just a few weeks. It's much more simple to adopt easy habits that can lead to long term benefits over time. 

1.  Start Taking Vitamins:

I definitely think you should talk to a healthcare professional before adding anything like this into your routine. Up until last year I never took vitamins, but went to the doctor and found out I had some deficiencies that needed addressing, and have been taking them ever since. 

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Derek and I both take the vitafusion Men and Women's gummy vitamins. As the #1 vitamin brand, vitafusion gives adults an easy way to be nutritious. Vitafusion is also the only gummy vitamin brand with "clinically proven absorption"* which is comforting to me to know the things I'm putting into my body are actually making a difference. 

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We've also added L'il Critters gummy vitamins to our kid's routines. They taste great, are in a fun gummy bear shape, and are the only kid's gummy vitamin with "doctor tested proven nutrient absorption"*. I also love that they are free from artificial sweeteners or flavors, high-fructose corn syrup, synthetic dyes, gluten, and dairy! They really are something you can feel good about giving to your child.

2. Increase Your Protein Consumption: 

Many people who are active don't get the amount of protein that they need after a workout. When you're constantly breaking down muscles day after day during your workouts, you need to make sure you're getting enough protein to promote recovery and muscle growth. My brother-in-law recommended Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey Protein to me years ago, and it's the only protein powder I've used since. I love that it has 24 g of whey protein isolate, meaning that much of the carbs and fat are isolated and removed from the product. It's gluten free, 120 calories per serving, 1.5g fat, and 2g sugar. It's an amazing product that not only tastes great, but does great things for your body too. 

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3. Incorporate More Veggies Into Your Meals: 

When I think of making healthy choices, I like to change my mind shift from, "What do I need to eliminate from my diet?", to "What do I need to add into my diet?" I don't believe in restricting any major food group, but strongly believe we can all be eating more fruits and veggies.

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Green Giant has made eating your vegetables even easier than before with their new line of Veggie Hash Browns. They have the same flavor and crunch of regular hash browns, with one full serving of cauliflower in each serving. I also love that they're free of artificial colors. flavors, and preservatives, making them a breakfast option you can feel good about! 

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Word of The Year 2020 + 50 Options For Yours

Having a word of the year for 2020 is a great way to reflect and set intentions for a new year. Here are 50 word of the year ideas for 2020. 

My friend Autumn introduced me to the "word of the year" a a while back, and it's something that I started implementing in 2019. Last year the word I focused on was "brave". It started when I was running mile repeats in my old neighborhood, and I wanted each successive mile to be faster than the last. I would tell myself to be brave, when typically I'd be too afraid to lean into the pain and quit. I later came to learn though how much I would need to be brave in other aspects of my life too, which are too personal to share, even on this blog where I seem to over share everything. 2019 though really forced me to stretch myself and unapologetically show up for myself in ways I'd never done before. 

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2019 was the year where I really started to know who I was as a person, and what I want from relationships, and so many other areas in my life. In 2020 I want to take what I learned in 2019, and go even deeper. This is why I've chosen my word of the year to be, dig. I want to dig deeper into my blog. I want to dig deeper into my family and have more meaningful relationships with each of my kids. I want to dig deeper into my friendships, and make more time to prioritize them in my life. I want to dig deep in my workouts and in my running and see if I can walk away from 2020 with some new personal bests in any distance. 

I want to look back at 2020 and know that I took risks. I love the quote, "Nothing grows in a comfort zone." I know I have more potential than what I've reached in basically every area of my life, and I want to dig into the things I know I need to change, in order to see the growth I know I want to achieve. 

And if you're looking for your own word of the year, I've got you covered right here. 

50+ Word of the Year 2020:

  • Adapt
  • Allow
  • Align
  • Be
  • Believe
  • Belong
  • Bold
  • Bloom
  • Brave
  • Breathe
  • Change
  • Commit
  • Connect
  • Courage
  • Dream
  • Do
  • Enjoy
  • Enough
  • Explore
  • Flourish
  • Focus
  • Free
  • Give
  • Grow
  • Heal
  • Intend
  • Lead
  • Learn
  • Love
  • Move
  • Now
  • Open
  • Pause
  • Peace
  • Prosper
  • Reach
  • Release
  • Renew
  • Rest
  • Rise
  • Seek
  • Shift
  • Simplify
  • Shift
  • Strive
  • Thrive
  • Trust
  • Wonder
  • Work
  • Yes
Do you adopt a word of the year? I'd love to know what words you've used in the past, or what you're planning on using in 2020.

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Three Best Flu Prevention Tips

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc., Emergen-C, Kleenex and Dial. All opinions are mine alone. #BeWellEssentials #CollectiveBias

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I love the fall and winter months so much. It's literally my favorite time of year. I love the cold weather when I go for my daily run, and love all the holidays and fun activities that come from this time of year. One thing I'm not fond of is getting sick. We're pretty diligent about trying to stay healthy during flu season, and use these three flue prevention tips to keep us healthy while the cold weather is here.  

Three Flu Prevention Tips:

Washing Hands Throughout the Day:

We've been huge fans of Dial Complete® Foaming Hand Wash in the Spring Water scent for years in our home. It kills 99.99% of bacteria encountered in household settings. Plus, the foam lathers nicely as you wash and it smells refreshing! Hand washing is the first line of defense in our home. We're constantly making sure that hand washing is the first thing we have our kids do when they get home from school, sports, or playing outside! 

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When you visit Kroger, you can save $1.50 on any TWO (2) Dial Complete® Foaming Hand Washes. Excludes trial & travel size. Begins 12/1/19 for limited time only.

Kleenex® Ultra Soft™ Facial Tissue​ 

Facial tissues are always a must have in our house during the cold winter and fall months. We love to keep a box in every room, so that they're always available whenever we might need one! Kleenex® Ultra Soft™ facial tissues are America's softest ultra tissue, and has the winning combination of softness and strength. 

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Kleenex® Germ Removal Wet Wipes™​ These are one of my go-to products as a mom. I keep a pack of these in my purse, and in my car at all times. They have no harsh chemicals, and are clinically proven to wipe away 99% of germs from hands and faces. They're perfect for a day when you're out running tons of errands, or to use right before you go out to eat with your family. You never know when your kids are going to find a mess to get into, and these wipes are perfect for whatever situation you or your kids find yourself in! For a limited time, holiday designs are available on Kleenex®. Kleenex® Single Packs (50ct and up) BUY 3 (THREE) for $4, offer valid 12/8/19 -1/4/20

Save $1 on Kleenex® bundle-packs (75ct – 160ct.), offer valid 12/25/19 -1/7/20

Kleenex® Wet Wipes™ 20-24ct packs $1.49 all month in December 2019.

Emergen-C® Raspberry:

I love shopping at Kroger because they have all the products I need for the season, including vitamins. Every fizzy Emergen-C®​ flavor features essential nutrients, including 1,000 mg of Vitamin C and other immune supporting antioxidants, 7 B Vitamins to enhance energy naturally, and electrolytes to replenish post-workout.* My personal favorite flavor is the Raspberry, but my husband and I really love all the options they have. Emergen-C®​ has a powerful blend of B Vitamins, Electrolytes and more Vitamin C than 10 oranges^! That is something that I want to be taking everyday to help me prepare for the season!

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Those are all of our favorite products that we love to purchase at our local Kroger stores. Go stock up today so you're prepared when the season hits your household! 

Some other things we make sure to do during the winter season are running humidifiers each night, more frequent baths for the kids, and making sure that we're washing our bedding more frequently. I'd love to know how you combat this tricky time of year, and your favorite products in the comments below!

Use all products only as directed. Read label and follow directions.​
^Based on using the nutrient database value for a large, raw orange.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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4 Tips For Meaningful Adult Friendships

We're in this phase of life where we're super busy with driving the kids back and forth to school (I make three round trips to the school a day), Kinsley has 2-3 therapy appointments a week, Kyle is doing two sports, and the kids are both in swim lessons. I'm blogging like a mad woman, hosting a parenting conference, and finishing up some pre-req classes for grad school. It's a much different life than before the kids were in school, we had weekly playdates, and were constantly socializing with people all the time. 

I'm at this point in life though where I have really come to crave meaningful relationships. I don't necessarily have time for weekly mom groups and playdates, but I've found myself wanting to be deeply invested in the friendships that I do have, and try to safeguard them as best as I can. 

Set Aside Special Times for Friends You Want To Invest In:
One of my best friends from back home in NY lives about 10 minutes from Derek and I in Utah now. Last year during the school year we made it a point to have lunch together about once a month while my kids were in school and it was so much fun. We'd chat for about two hours straight and have deep and meaningful conversations and it filled my cup so much. If there are people in your life that you want to have these kinds of moments with, make a plan for it, and make it a regular thing that you both look forward to. 

Get Comfortable With Being Vulnerable:
This doesn't mean that every time someone asks you a hard question you have to go all in all the time, but if you're already in a conversation with someone that you want to be good friends with, and a hard question comes up, don't be afraid to just go all in with your answers to them. Confiding those things that you normally wouldn't tell other people shows them that you're invested in that relationship. Derek and I had dinner with some good friends a couple weeks ago, and the husband isn't afraid to ask the heart wrenching questions, and because I know this is a friendship I want to invest in, I gave the heart wrenching honest answers. Did it awkwardly involve the shedding of tears? Yes. Were friendships strengthened? Also yes. 

Don't Be Afraid To Be The First One To Reach Out:
When Derek and I recently moved to our new neighborhood, there was a family that I really wanted to be friends with. We'd chatted at a couple church activities, and had a ton of similarities, but then she moved before we could really get to know each other. We're both runners though and so I reached out and said I'd love to drive to her new neighborhood and meet up for a weekend run sometime and she totally said yes. 

Don't Let Distance, Distance Your Friendship:
Piggy backing off that last point, just because my new friend was moving to a different town, I still wanted to invest in that friendship, and so I went the extra mile to make time for that friendship to grow. Likewise, since we've moved so often, there are a small handful of people that I still make a point to text with and catch up with on a regular basis, because those are friendships that mean the world to me. Last year I was dealing with a lot of hard things in my personal life, and it was so nice to be able to talk through the entire situation with a friend 2,000 miles away with a completely neutral opinion on the situation. I cherish long texting conversations with friends and feeling like we're still living in the same town, even though we're not.

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My Summer Training and My New 5k PR

My major running goal through the entire summer was to get a new 5k PR (personal record). Although I ran track in high school, I mostly did high jump and hurdles, and a small stint of pole vaulting my senior year. It wasn't until the summer after I graduated that I really got into long distance running, and that love took off for me. 

I ran a ton of races in the summer of 2009, but the most notable one for me was when I ran a 25:30 at the local Turning Point 5k. It was the first time I'd ever ran a 5k pace that was in the 8 minute range, and from that point on I was hooked. 

That summer I went on to run so many miles. By August I was running 10+ miles a day like it wasn't even a big deal, and was averaging 8 minute paces on all of those runs as well. I kept up that same speed basically all the way until Derek and I got married in 2011, and then I basically stopped running for 4 years while I had babies. 

If you didn't know, having two babies is an amazing way to kill the running base that you've built for yourself over a five year period. It felt like from the time Kinsley was born in 2014 to now, I've been fighting my way to get back to those pre-baby paces. 

There are a ton of variables though. When I was running amazing times out of high school, I was running at sea level coming off of 4 years of rigorous track and field practice. I currently live at almost 5,000 feet elevation, and have no professional coaching. I also live in one of the hilliest towns we've ever lived in, which means the terrain I train on is much more difficult than anywhere else I've lived as well. All this to say, nothing is ever going to be apples to apples, and my everyday training runs will be slower than they were in 2009 because where I live and run is just so different. 

All that being said, this summer I put in way more honest hard work than I have in the last 5 years, and it definitely paid off big. I picked a training plan, and stuck to it, while also adding in an extra easy day of running, and one hard workout each week. For the first time in years, I was running 6 days a week, and suffering through my first summer of running in almost 7 years. The summers previously were always "too hot", and so I'd skip out on running until it was fall again. This summer though, I almost never skipped a workout, and ran in temperatures up to 102 degrees, and almost always gaining 100-200 feet in elevation on each run. 

With all that extra effort, I knew there was a new 5k PR waiting for me at the end of the 8 week training block. I had signed up to run a race on the morning of the 31st, but Kinsley woke up super constipated, and was throwing up. So instead of going to my race, we had to do an emergency bowel clean out at home. 

By the evening Kinsley was doing much better, and I decided that I wasn't going to let all my training go to waste, and decided to make my own 5k route, and do my own little "time trial race". A lot of races in Utah are downhill races, and those are what a lot of people run when they want to try and qualify for Boston, so I picked a downhill route to mimmic what I would be running in a typical marathon/half marathon, and just went for it. 

It was 7:30pm and I had Derek load the kids in the car, I took my pre-workout and drank a gatorade, and we were off to the start of the course I had mapped out. Derek dropped me off and gave me a good luck kiss, and then headed home to put the kids in bed. 

I did a few warm up drills for 2-3 minutes and then turned on my GPS watch and got moving. It took me a minute or two to get warmed up, but by a quarter mile in, my legs we rolling. I glanced down at my watch and my pace was in the seven minute range. Well under the 8:12/mi that I needed to hit the 5k PR.   

Somewhere right after the first mile, a little dog started chasing me for a good while which helped me to pick up the pace even more because I thought I was going to die... all of a sudden my pace was in the 6:45/mi range and I just tried to hold on as long as I could. 

The route was really unfamiliar to me, so even though I wrote directions on my arm, I wound up taking a wrong turn somewhere in the second mile, and what was supposed to be a completely downhill course got really flat and unforgiving very quickly. 

The good news was that I was much closer to my house than where my original route was going to spit me out, the bad news was that I was fighting for life for the last half mile. My legs literally felt like they were trudging through mud and I was swinging my arms and pumping my legs as fast as I could, but I was only going about 8:30/mi pace at this point. Luckily I knew that I had made up so much good time before this moment, that no matter what I did I'd still get a PR, but I was really hanging on for dear life! 

I'd fine a stop sign and tell myself, "once you get to that sign you can look at your watch and see how much farther you have...", and then after that I'd say, "Ok, just to that tree up there, then you can look at the watch again...", I did this 3-4 times before finally I was done, stopped the watch, and had a brand new PR of 23:17. 7:30/mi pace average. 

My goal for working on the 5k all summer was that I wanted to run a 5k at Boston Marathon pace. Right now with my age, I'd need to run 8:00/mile pace to qualify, and actually get to run in the Boston Marathon. My time trial for this 5k definitely slid into that standard. Next up I'll be working on my 10k time throughout the fall, and will run another time trial on November 9th (unfortunately, there aren't many good 10ks happening in November so it won't be an official race for that either). My main goal is to train hard, and get 49:48 or better in the 10k so that I can hit that same BQ standard, and then start grinding up towards the half marathon. But for now my legs are so sore and walking is a nightmare... So I'll be taking a nice week long break to recover before hitting the grind again.

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