BAMR Bands: Functional Headbands with a Heart (GIVEAWAY)

A few months ago I had the most amazing privilege of reviewing a non-slip headband made by a company passionate about helping others. Fellow Sweat Pink sister and fit mom Katie Heddleston created BAMR (Bad Ass Mother Runner) bands in 2013. These bands are bright and fun with a pattern and color for every personality!

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My experience with BAMR bands has been nothing short of amazing. I couldn’t have been introduced to these bands at a more opportune time. I had just chopped off my waist length hair in favor of a chin length bob that my daughter (hopefully) would not be able to yank and pull out while nursing. While my new “do” served its function, I hadn’t thought about the consequences of having short hair while working out or on a bad hair day. I found that the BAMR bands worked better than any other headband I tried. They are 7/8 inch elastic head bands lined with velvet ribbon so that, not only do they stay in place, they don’t grab and pull your hair out like other brands of “non slip” headbands.

In addition to, you know, actually working…one dollar from every BAMR band is donated to the Every Mother Counts organization! Every Mother Counts is creating an impact across the world by supporting clinics and pre/postnatal care both in the US and other countries. With the BAMR bands, not only do you get what you want AND need, you get to help women all over the world by improving the safety of their pregnancies and births.

I can’t tell you enough how much I love these bands! But you don’t have to take my word for it because I am giving you the chance to own your own! Here’s what to do:

1) Head over to my page @herbs_and_indigo on Instagram. Find and like the photo for my BAMR giveaway and COMMENT so I know that you are entering.

2) Head over to @bamrbands and follow them as well!

3) For an additional entry, head to my Facebook page here. “Like” the page and comment on the BAMR Giveaway post to receive +2 entries. (Note, you must do both to receive a Facebook entry)

Good luck!

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Stew for people who don’t like stew

Stew is NOT my dish. My roots are German-Irish all the way which means, growing up, it was potatoes, shepard’s pie, potatoes, cabbage, potatoes, stew, potatoes, ham and beans, potatoes…you get it. Basically, I came out with a less than appreciative taste for traditional country fare. So when a client asked me to include stew in their next meal plan it was definitely a challenge. Apart from being, in my opinion, nothing to miss when you switch your diet, stew in our house included a whole lot of things that are not compatible with my basic weight loss plan. So I did what any intelligent, capable, college educated woman would do.

I googled it.

Turns out I was WRONG. Not only can stew be made healthy, it can be jam-packed full of all the most highly prized elements of my nutrition plans — proteins, phytonutrients, and natural herbs. I found a range of “healthy” stew options. Some were simple. Some were so complicated I don’t think Julia Child would have undertaken them. I settled on one fairly simple recipe by Lexi’s Clean Kitchen and modified it slightly (you can find her delicious, paleo version here).

So here it is (note: you’ll want a crock pot):

Veggies:

3 large carrots (sliced, chopped, however you take them)

6-10 pearl onions

1 cup of mushrooms

3 stalks of celery

3 small red russet potatoes*

Spices:

1 tbsp smoked paprika

1 tbsp garlic powder

2 bay leaves

parsley (to taste)

thyme (to taste)

Salt (optional)

Pepper (to taste)

Other:

2 lbs boneless chuck (cubed)

Organic EVOO spray

2 cups of beef broth

Directions:

1. Coat the bottom of a large skillet with the EVOO (you could use regular EVOO as well, Lexi’s recipe calls for 1 tbsp)

2. Dry meat with a paper towel and place in skillet on medium heat until just brown

3. Chop your vegetables, cutting the pearl onions in half, and throw into the crock pot with the browned meat.

4.Add your broth and spices. The spices labeled “to taste” I generally just shake to coat the entire top layer of the dish. You can add more as it cooks.

5. Mix stew to combine the spices and veggies

6. Cover and set your crock pot on low for 8-10 hours**

7. One hour before the stew is finish add potatoes and adjust seasonings

8. Remove bay leaves and serve

*If you are looking to make this dish paleo, Lexi’s recipe calls for 1 cup of frozen peas in place of potatoes. I’ve made it both ways and both are equally delicious.

**Because I was short on time, I set my crock pot on low for 4.5 hours and high for 2 hours. The stew was still fabulous, but I did leave the leftovers to cook for an additional hour after dinner which made it even more delicious.

FYI, this stew freezes AND keeps in the refrigerator really well which makes it PERFECT for meal prepping.

Bon Appetit!!

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In it Together: Living with a Food Sensitive Toddler

“Try taking her off gluten.”

I’ll be honest, my first impulse after hearing that phrase leave my pediatrician’s mouth was to roll my eyes. Gluten? Really? Who did she think she was talking to, some wacky granola mom who only shops the organic section of Kroger?

Oh wait…

But seriously, while I’m fully aware of the benefits of eating an organic, whole, diet I just could not grasp the possibility that my 13 month old could have a gluten allergy. Hadn’t I taken care of her? Hadn’t I been making her organic baby food from the start? Denying her juice, candy, ice cream? Sure, she was allowed the occasional odd french fry, but there’s no way my daughter, on her mostly paleo diet, had developed a gluten allergy!

She did. Let me start from the beginning….

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At 2 weeks old, Norah started to peel. If you’ve never had kids I’ll explain — when babies are born their skin has acclimated to being in fluid so, after birth, most peel from head to toe as their skin gets used to the drier conditions of the world. Except Norah didn’t stop peeling, not completely. Since that first molting she has had tough, dry, peeling skin on the front of both ankles, sometimes accompanied by a red rash. For most of her first year I chalked it up to her hypersensitive baby skin (she was always getting bumps and rashes) and didn’t think much of it but, as her first birthday came and went, I noticed that the rash wasn’t getting better. In fact, it would get worse, almost clear up when I applied coconut oil, then get worse again.

So I took her to her pediatrician who told me that 1) it was eczema 2) she sees this a lot in babies and 3) it can usually be cured by taking them off gluten. I think this was doubly hard for me to swallow since Norah is also allergic to both eggs and shell fish. I was mortified. Not just for what it meant to my poor daughter, but for the hell I was going to receive when I dropped her off at her country, aw-it-never-killed-us, grandparents and told them that, in addition to her previous allergies, Norah could no longer have anything with wheat in it.

Adjusting to a gluten-free lifestyle for Norah has been more than difficult, but it has shown me the true limits (more like lack of them) of my love for her. Because, in addition to collecting recipe after recipe for gluten-free cookies and snacks for her, I’ve committed to going gluten-free as well. I didn’t at first, but the first day that she toddled up to me while I was eating lunch…seeing her little face crumple and tears well up in confusion as I told her no…was too much for me to take. From now on I resolve to only eat things my daughter can eat in her company (except morning eggs, which Norah could care less about as long as she has her gluten-free cereal).

The hardest part of our initial transition to being a gluten-free household has been finances. Christmas is always tight for us so there’s been no extra cash for a grocery overhaul…so we’ve had to make do with what we have. Below is an example of Norah’s previous daily diet and her current diet.

Norah’s Daily Food:

Breakfast – Rice/Oat flour cereal or Whole Wheat Pita Rounds

Snack – Avocado

Lunch – Organic Macaroni and Cheese and Pear

Snack – Apple

Dinner – Whole Wheat Pasta with Kerrygold Butter, Basil and Chicken

Norah’s Gluten Free Diet (without additional shopping):

Breakfast – Steal Cut Porridge with Cinnamon and 1 pk Sugar in the Raw

Snack – Avocado

Lunch – Sweet Potato and Chicken

Snack – Rice and Black Beans

Dinner – Roasted Carrots with Spiced Rice and Venison

Obviously, these are not comprehensive lists of what she eats. Other than breakfast and her daily avocado I try to keep Norah’s diet varied so she gets a maximum amount of micro and phytonutrients. I feel that I should note, since Norah doesn’t have Celiac disease, while I try to keep as gluten-free as possible, I don’t necessarily comb over everything. For example, government recommendations for a gluten-free diet stress checking all oats to because some can be contaminated with gluten. That’s something I may search for when we are doing better financially but, right now, Norah’s oats don’t specifically claim to be gluten-free. My main concern is alleviating the worst of her eczema symptoms, mostly the rash and itching.

We like to look on the positive side of things at the Gore household, so here it is: Lots of gluten-free recipe testing coming your way! If you have any great sites for simple, gluten and/or egg free cooking, please post them in the comments!

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Buh-bye 2014….Bring it 2015.

Wow! Is the holiday madness over yet?! I love Christmas, I mean, it’s usually Valentine’s Day before my tree comes down. But even though this Christmas was fabulous, filled with joy and many many cookies, I can’t wait to get it behind me. I am SO ready for 2015 and it’s all thanks to Team Inspire! Four months ago I made a leap to join a growing community of fitness professionals and fanatics and it’s turned into so much more than I expected. When I started with Team Inspire I was a little lost. I was a stay at home mom by choice but I wanted something more. Let me first say that I realize how incredibly BLESSED I am to be able to stay at home with my daughter without worrying about finances. I give all the credit for that opportunity to God and my amazing, hard working husband. But I wasn’t raised to be a stay at home mom. I got bored and worse, I was starting to feel like I had no worth or purpose. I wanted to be making a difference. I wanted to do something great and, most importantly, I wanted to share positivity with people and make them smile on a daily basis.

Fast forward to today…

Since making the decision to join Amanda Tress (Fit Pregnancy and Parenting) on Team Inspire I have:

  • Made dozens of new contacts in the fitness world
  • Had the privilege of partnering with AMAZING companies like Traditional Medicinals for reviews
  • Gotten to work with talented and inspiring new companies like CogniTea
  • Been offered exclusive discounts on professional certifications in personal training, yoga, and weight loss management
  • Received invaluable training in business, marketing strategy, and content creation.
  • Been mentored by an AMAZING professional trainer/entrepreneur/digital marketing expert who specializes in helping fitness professionals become successful — a $150 dollar value for FREE!

And most importantly, I’ve had people I admire tell me that I’ve inspired them.

What will you accomplish in 2015? Will you change your life, grow as a person, or find financial freedom? Thanks to Team Inspire, I know without a doubt that I will and I am unbelievably excited to see what 2015 brings!

Find out more about how you can join Team Inspire here.

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Guest Writer Ana Belen: Nike Women’s Marathon Training

Ana Belen and I met in college where I was surprised to learn she was also an anthropology major with minor in nutrition. We quickly found common ground through our similar fascination with people, fitness, and trashy television. Ana inspires me daily with her bubbly and hilarious personality and, if she didn’t already have an amazing twin, I would claim she was mine. Her accomplishments as a runner are both intimidating and encouraging to her friends and I am so excited to have her guest blogging about her experience training for the Nike Women’s Half Marathon.

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Running a half marathon is no simple task. It’s not like doing a “Couch to 5K” program, it takes a little bit more dedication. But completing the 2014 Nike Women’s Half Marathon in D.C. was worth every minute of training.

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My name is Ana Belen but a lot of folks call me A.B. I’ve been running since junior high (I got in trouble a lot when I played tennis and was forced to run around the courts for punishment). In high school, I trained cross country and with the track and field team. Basically, running has been a major part of my day for nearly half my life. Some people do therapy.

I run.

Back in December of 2013 my sister and I decided we wanted to take a vacation. It’s a habit of ours to plan them around races. Having already tackled the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco, we were inspired to complete both series. We entered the lottery and, if you can believe it, we won.

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I am not a firm believer in sticking to training guides. They can be helpful but going at my own pace has always worked best. A half marathon consists of 13.1 miles. Yes, every runner will tell you, that .1 counts.

My 3 Phase Training —

Phase 1: Building Endurance and Stamina

I begin 3-4 mile runs for about 2 weeks. I try to fit anywhere from 6-8 runs each during this period. If I don’t feel ready for the next phase after two weeks I’ll tack on an extra week.

Phase 1 Diet:

This is where I normally start eating a little cleaner. I will start cutting out any extra junk I normally eat (CHEETOS HOT FLAMING CHIPS = ultimate weakness). I also drink more water.

Additional Phase 1 Exercise:

I do a lot of core stability workouts (5 times a week for 10 minutes minimum) and alternate between upper body and lower body training (30 minutes minimum) every other day with rest days incorporated on Friday and Sunday. I have an active dog as well so, on days I need to unwind, I take him on a 2 – 4 mile walk.

Phase 2: Incorporating long runs

On busy days I will run from 3-4 miles but I will choose 1 day a week to do a long run. For me that means 6-9 miles. I continue this phase of training for a month with a goal of completing 12-25 runs by the end of the month.

Phase 2 Diet:

I get brutally clean. I call it my vegetarian phase. I start cutting a significant portion of meat from my diet and incorporate more fruits and vegetables. My body lets me know what I crave and I tend to listen to it.

Additional Exercise:

I continue my Phase 1 routine but add fartleks and hills in my short run days. I also add plyometerics.

Phase 3: 2 weeks before the run

I will go on a “practice” run at least twice. This means I will literally go the entire distance of the race I’m training for. The first time is just a run through. I make mental notes of what is bothering me. Am I chafing? How is my meal affecting this run? Am I bloated or thirsty? The second time I will wear race day clothes and fix all the issues that bothered me through first run.

Phase 3 Diet:

Clean eating + BANANAS!! I’m still mostly vegetarian during this phase but, again, I listen to my body. If I’m craving meat I will eat meat.

Additional Exercise:

I start cutting down on some exercise. I want to minimize any form of injury.

RACE DAY:

The evening before the race I eat a healthy meal with a moderate amount of carbs and drink LOTS of water. I’ll also lay my race clothes out to make my morning more efficient and hassle free. Race day breakfast means something like a high protein cereal and an orange. I don’t want to tire myself out by doing any strenuous exercise so I’ll run just enough to warm my muscles and prevent injury. Then…

LET THE RACE BEGIN!

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I hope this is helpful to anyone trying to break into longer distance runs. I try to do at least 3-5 halves in a year. It keeps me healthy and is my ultimate therapy, letting me maintain my sanity.

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Traditional Medicinals Vol 2: Green Tea Goes Herbal

“I am not a fan of Starbucks.

You would not believe how quickly those seven little words can ruin a friendly little chat. What? Starbucks? Are you even an American/hipster/human?

Let the shaming begin.

In 5 years of living in my area, I’ve successfully received as many decent soy lattes and cups of black coffee from my local Starbucks stores. They don’t carry Lady Grey tea and for some crazy reason they stop serving decaf after noon (bro, do you even logic?). So, basically, I’m saying there’s not a lot of reason for me to be Starbucks crazy. That is, until today when they SAVED this review.

Part of the care package I received from Traditional Medicinals included one of their new herbal mixes Green Tea Hibiscus. And, boy, it did NOT taste good…at first. You see, call me an amateur (but I prefer “purist”) but I rarely drink my tea cold. Tea should be served in a mug and hot enough that I feel like my hands are going through a spa treatment.

Do not drink this tea that way.

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Now, the box says to prepare this tea in the same way you prepare and drink any hot tea. I find that interesting as, through trial and error (and a lot of googling), I’ve found that people almost always drink hibiscus tea cold as a summer beverage. Back to why I give Starbucks the credit? Fortunately, I’ve been there enough to have their marketing content permanently stamped onto my psyche. Things just stick in my brain (major friend points if you can name that tv show). I remembered seeing some sort of hibiscus “refresher” on the menu and thinking I’d never order it…because I don’t do synthetically sweetened or artificially made liquid unless it’s medicine..or there’s a shot of Grey Goose in there to drown my guilt.

Back to Traditional Medicinals —

The first time I made it I threw it out. There’s a reason they call this “sour tea” in Iran. I can eat some bitter, earthy tasting stuff. I mean, I love raw kale. But this was a little like sucking on the stem of a rose. That’s the only way I can think to describe it — pure plant taste.

So I tried it with a little honey. That definitely made it more bearable, but not so much a drink I enjoyed.Thankfully, before I could throw out the second cup, my memory tickled a bit and I decided to try it with ice and a little water to dilute it.

You know what, it was AWESOME.

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Made this way, which is probably the proper method anyway, the bitterness is diluted just enough to give your beverage a light, floral taste.

The Traditional Medicials information on the “herbal power” of this tea is that it maintains cardiovascular health* though, in all my tomes on plants and herbal remedies I couldn’t find it listed anywhere. I turned to Google and found out why. Research on the benefits of hibiscus has only just begun, with most studies conducted after 2007. However, the studies indicate that hibiscus can be beneficial in maintaining healthy levels of cholesterol and a healthy blood pressure in already fit individuals.*

At the end of the day (as I sit here sipping my iced green tea-hibiscus water) I give this tea a 2/5 stars in a warm brew but a 5/5 as a cold brew.

++ I received free samples in exchange for this review. No monetary compensation was given, all opinions are 100% my own.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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Traditional Medicinals Vol 1: Green Tea Goes Herbal

I’m SO excited to be partnering with Traditional Medicinals to review their new green and seasonal teas. If you haven’t heard of them, you can likely go to your nearest grocery store and find them in the coffee aisle. I’ve been a fan of Traditional Medicinals tea for quite a few years because they tend to carry herbal teas that promote health and wellness, and these can be hard to find by other brands. They recently launched a new series of tea with their Green Tea Goes Herbal campaign.

Before I review the tea, I want to emphasize how generous this company is. When I spoke to a Traditional Medicinals representative about doing a review, I figured they’d send me a few packets. No no no, this altruistic company sent me SIX full boxes to review!

It’s like they know I’m an addict or something…

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It wasn’t hard to decide which tea to try first. One of my favorite herbs is dandelion for all its amazing properties. So when I saw “Organic Green Tea Dandelion” I dove in. I was truly surprised by how pleasant the taste was. I often drink dandelion tea and, while I like it pretty well, it does have a very strong herbal taste. However, the green tea mutes the taste of the dandelion just enough to make it more enjoyable to drink while still letting the roasted and (oddly pleasant) bitter taste come through. Probably for much of the same reason, the smell of this tea is not quite as overpowering as straight dandelion tea.

On to the good stuff…you might wonder why I would even drink this particular tea in the first place. Truthfully, if I’m going to fix a cup of tea to indulge, I’m going to reach for the Lady Grey. But, if I’m going to fix a cup of tea to relax and do something great for my body, I’m drinking this.

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According to the Traditional Medicinals website, the plant power of this particular tea supports the liver and healthy digestion and is mildly stimulating.* Although Traditional Medicinals tea is not intended to replace or act as a treatment or cure for any diseases or serious conditions, dandelion and green tea can help promote holistic health. I recently covered the benefits of green tea so, for the sake of ,well, not being redundant, I’ll summarize those benefits by saying green tea can promote focus and contains powerful antioxidants to keep us pretty and healthy ( But, let’s be honest, pretty is what’s important here right?).

Dandelion, on the other hand, is a powerful detoxifying herb. It is known in herbal circles as a “blood purifier.” It’s the roots specifically that act as a blood cleanser, which is the part used in the Traditional Medicinals blend. Dandelion leaves are an extremely effective diuretic which makes a leaf tea especially helpful in relieving bloating. I drink them a lot after eating something really good ( ahem, bad) for me since my body is sensitive to that kind of thing. Thank you aging..

Overall, I give this tea 4/5 stars because, while I absolutely LOVE this tea, the taste may still be a bit strong for a less enthusiastic tea drinker.

You can learn even more about dandelion on the Traditional Medicinals site here.

++ I received free samples in exchange for this review. No monetary compensation was given, all opinions are 100% my own.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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