Foodie Friday — a picnic in the park

For those of you who follow me on Instagram (@jessfit654), you might remember seeing this picture last weekend:

That would be Scott and I — at the start of our impromptu picnic in the park on Saturday. We’re all smiles. ❤

Like I mentioned in my post on Wednesday, a lot of what ‘life’ is about are those unplanned, real, present moments. Saturday was exactly that. It was just Scott and I, a blanket and a picnic basket. As simple as that.

So I thought I’d dedicate today’s Foodie Friday post to what “our” version of a picnic looks like: 

Three parts fruitwatermelon, pineapple, cherries…

Two parts  LOVE…as in LOVE GROWNgranola and Scott’s favorite guilty pleasure…gummies!

And one giant helping of cuddle timeunderneath a brilliant blue sky, a warm-ish breeze and lots of sun. 

See? Picnics can be EASY. They don’t have to involve lots of prep work, planning and all that jazz — simple is GOOD. Simple leads to quiet moments together, lounging (and napping) in the sun, enjoying total and utter presence. I highly recommend it.

(and ps. am I the only one that could literally exist on fresh summer fruits and not much else ‘cept for wine  for the duration of the summer months?? I. Am. Obsessed.)

Why I run: today.

I’ve talked about this before. Why I run.
I even revisted the topic once after that.

But after this weekend’s race — my 4th, and best, half marathon — I feel the need to revisit the topic once more.

Why I run: today.

It’s been a 2+ year process (my previous two “why I run posts” were from April and September of 2010), but I finally trust myself. To run for me, my way, with a smile on my face. That’s why I run. And continue to run. For me; for that confidence it’s given me; and for that trust it’s shown me I’m worthy of. I run from the heart.

I am who I am because I run. I strive to be better — in all areas of my life — because I can, sure. But after seeing what a little hard work and determination can do for my running journey? Anything is possible. And I now fully apply that “anything is possible” mentality to all areas of my life — an incredibly invaluable life lesson I gained through running.

I run for me, but also for Scott. For us. It’s been one of the biggest bonding moments for us — pushing ourselves through four half marathons and committing, together, to 26.2 this fall? Crazy bonding moment after moment. It’s this unspoken thing between us almost, this quiet confidence we have in ourselves, and in eachother, to see this thing through to the end. Whatever “the end” may be. The “end” of a hard-fought race. The “end” of a training cycle. The “end” of a regular, run-of-the-mill rundate. Or the “end” of a 26.2 mile jaunt through Chicago. We’re in this together. As they say, “couples who run together…”

And, as I’ve said before — I never, ever take for granted the sheer ability to run. To push harder, to strive for more (hello sub-2 I’m coming for you!), to see my body perform like a pro — running for miles and miles, something many people on this earth will never see or experience, even if they wanted to. ((Ability.)) It’s a gorgeous, blessed thing.
…I run for those who cannot.

This is why I run: today.


Remember a few months back Scott and I took an entire weekend to disconnect from the world, spending a whole weekend with no phones, no emails, no computers, no texting, no FB-ing, no tweeting, no nada?

Well — I’m feeling that uber-connectivity thing happening again (I’m mainly at fault here, though the hubs does have a pretty nasty addiction to Words with Friends…).

And quite honestly? It needs to be reigned in.
…a lot.

We did really well after that unplugged weekend of really taking care to avoid doing too much of that stuff on our date nights and particularly during our mid-week date nights (which happens to take place every Winesday, how fitting) — but if we weren’t calling it a “date” of sorts, all bets were off on the disconnected front.

And it’s happening more and more frequently. An incessant need to constantly check my email, respond to tweets, write and respond to FB updates, comment on posts in the various Facebook groups I belong to, etc.

…and I’m tired.

And if I’m feeling tired, I sure as hell know Scott is feeling it too.

So this weekend? I’m looking for a little unplugging time. I’m not calling it a completely disconnected weekend per se, but I definitely need to take a step back, reprioritize and focus on being present.

I want this weekend to be all about:

…showering my loved ones with adoration and complete and present attention.
…breathing in every moment of our 9-mile rundate planned for tomorrow (and *not* getting “all up in my head” this time!)
…cheers’ing to good friends, after a really good barre n9ne class tonight (taught by me, of course!)
…visiting with family who live close by but because “life” has gotten in the way, we haven’t spent nearly as much time visiting as we could or should or want to.
…and perhaps best of all, returning to our favorite local wine bar for a super cozy, super romantic date night with Scott on Saturday night. ❤

It’s long overdue.

(taken at my sister’s house at a dinner party there last weekend, rose prosecco, don’t mind if I do. Note to self: buy some for this weekend…)


Editor’s Note: Don’t worry…I didn’t forget about Foodie Friday. I just didn’t have anything particularly foodie and fun to share today. Since I’m not one to blog without intention, I’m skipping it this week. You’ll see me doing that now and then — but I’m fairly certain it won’t be too often. Given my ongoing love affair with food afterall. 😉

Is it selfish?

Is it selfish?

…to carve out a significant portion of your weekly budget on healthy food to stock your kitchen cabinets, fridge and freezer with?

…to schedule your workouts into pieces of your day, just like anything else? Even if that means splitting them up into two workouts a day?

…to invest in the friendships and relationships in your life who support your desire to live a healthy, fit lifestyle? Who ultimately are a positive, uplifting and supportive force in your life?

…to build your life around something you are very passionate about: living your best, energized and fittest life now?

…to re-organize your schedule if it means you can make that class at your favorite gym or studio, the one that really gets your blood pumping and keeps you coming back for more?

…to take 20-30 minutes even on the busiest of days, to do something (move! skip! jump! laugh!) that will make you feel good and have a positive impact on your health?

…to choose to be healthy, especially if it means being a positive influence on the loved ones in your life – your children, your husband, your wife, your sisters, your brothers, your parents, your friends – even if that choice sometimes takes you away from the very same loved ones you’re trying to influence?

…to put yourself first, if it means that you’ll live a longer, happier, more fulfilling life? So you can be the best you can be for yourself and for all of the people you love, and all that love you?

…to live your best life right now?

…Is it selfish?


It is selfless.

*Editor’s Note: some of these comments come from the super-fab Fitfluential Ambassadors who I *may* have surveyed for ideas for this post. 🙂

What would I do?

Let’s rewind to Saturday’s run, if you don’t mind. Scott and I set out to run our favorite 7-mile loop. It was a gorgeous winter morning, not too cold (high 30s, woo!) and bright and sunny. We set out on our run – and this time, neither of us were very chatty. I was letting my mind wander and giving Scott a chance to let his wander wherever it wanted, knowing he’s had a lot on his mind lately. Figuring, this is our own “me” time even though we were together on our rundate.

So off we went, the miles going by fairly smoothly, my breath felt calm-ish, I was working hard but happily so.


My mind wandered to February 1st, aka Chicago Marathon registration sign-up day. Just a few days from now. <gulp>

And instantly, my mind started to race. For the first time,  I felt a twinge of fear about committing to 26.2. Up until now, I’ve been excited and ready to face down all those miles. But now that the reality of it is about to set in as soon as I hit ‘register’ on Wednesday, I panicked a little bit. And mentioned it to Scott, breaking our little silence.

“I’m afraid. What if we can’t do it?”

Without skipping a beat, he said: “We are ready. Our bodies are trained for this. They are strong. We’re doing this.”

And suddenly? Just those few simple words of encouragement was all it took. I thought to myself: “Game on.” and then “what would I do without him?”

Seriously, though.
What would I do without him?

He is my biggest fan, supporting me through every challenge I take on. With a smile and never a complaint (even when I spend hours each week at barre n9ne, which eats into our time together during the week).

(just look at that smile, ❤ it)

He is the best running partner and coach ever. He knows me. He knows how my mind works. He knows what I’m capable of. He challenges me to never give up.

He is selfless. He could crush a half marathon in well under 2 hours if he wanted. But he never, ever crosses that finish line without me. We cross together – well, he always has me cross just in front of him, ever the gentleman.

He makes me laugh (often at myself, mostly at him).

He is my best friend. And I adore him so.

So? What would I do without him? Thank God I don’t ever have to find out. ❤

Sometimes a little reminder like Saturday is all it takes to remember to always nurture those relationships that make your world go round. But don’t just take it from me, take it from Dorry, too – her post on Sunday brought me to tears, and reminded me just how important it is to nurture, always.

3 words (and one extra)

Three words: 




Remember when I asked you all to come up with three words that you’d describe yourself with? Well, I have this habit of asking Scott random questions when we’re eating dinner or sitting on the deck, going for a walk, whatever. It’s always something really random. So the other night (I think it was Sunday), I asked him how he’d describe me in three words (words, not phrases, I specified).

And these were the words he uttered…sexy, strong, adorable.

I don’t know why, but those words totally made me blush – even though he’s probably complimented me using those words a hundred times in the nearly seven years since we’ve been married. But hearing him rattle them off without hesitation really struck me somehow. Reminded me how grateful I am to have such an awesome husband who adores me (and who I adore right back!), but also reminded me that I should revisit these words next time I have a low confidence moment. So, while looking in the mirror this morning while getting ready for my day (in the midst of watching William & Kate coverage!), I remembered those words and made sure not to let negative thoughts creep in.

Sometimes it truly is the little things – like three simple words – that make all the difference. 

Regardless, I urge you to give this little exercise a try – with your boyfriend, your husband, your best friend, your sister. You might be surprised by what you hear. Embrace it. 


So the title of my post mentions “three words (and one extra)” – that extra word? 

Half marathon.  

I can’t get it off my mind…despite my running mojo being  a little hit or miss lately.

And the half I *really* can’t get off my mind?

The Healdsburg Half. 

At the end of October, amidst the vines in Dry Creek.

Am I crazy to sign up for it when I haven’t even figured out our vacation plans to return there this fall?? 

Or should I throw a little caution to the wind and register anyway, even if it could mean a very quick weekend trip to Cali just to run this race?

Am I equally crazy for also still wanting to run the Wicked Half again a month prior – just because that race holds sentimental value to me as my first-ever half marathon?

Hm. I think I’m crazy.

Vacation of a lifetime – legit

<< Warning! Uber long blog post below – my apologies in advance 😉 >>

I’m baaaack 🙂

Sorry I left you high and dry for my ENTIRE 10-day vacation, but, not gonna lie – the whole “buh-bye” to routine (in every sense of the word) was exactly what I needed.

I just experienced the BEST vacation of a lifetime.

Hands down the most incredible 10 days of my life (aside from my wedding/honeymoon, of course!).

Not only did I start off on the high of completing the Wicked Half with four minutes to spare against my goal time, but the nearly two weeks away was filled with so many memories, celebrations and uhh, lots of wine, and almost no routine to be seen for as far as the eye could see. 😉

I could probably write about five blog posts JUST about this vacation but I’m sure you’d get sick of hearing me gush after awhile so, very similar to my sister, I’ll share a few memories and poignant moments and leave it at that (well – that plus some pictures, as promised, Heather!).

A couple of stats, first…

  • 25 vineyards visited (far too many to choose just ONE favorite!)
  • 15 bottles of wine consumed amongst our clan during the stay in Healdsburg (this does NOT include the 4-5 tastings per day either, ahem!)
  • A million and a half memories and laughable quotes (we literally wrote them down so as not to forget them later…for example: “Miiiike Ditka” or “That’s what she said…” or “Weeeeeee” <—from the Geico commercial that cracks me up every.single.time.)
  • One star sighting – yes, we did meet one famous dude by the name of Squire Fridell. For those of you in my age group, that would be “our” Ronald McDonald and the guy in the current Toyota commercials. Well, long story short, we had a private tour and tasting of his vineyard at his private home. Um yeah, not much can top that. It was unreal.
  • And um, a total of FOUR workouts over TEN days. For me, this is totally out of character as you all know by now – this from the girl who hates even ONE rest day in a week. Thoroughly needed, thoroughly enjoyed, and thoroughly allowed me to breathe in the entire epic vacation in a way I never imagined.

And now, for some memorable moments:

  • Celebrations – of birthdays: ringing in the big 3-1 with Jolene (and with Jen in spirit – took a zillion pics just for her!) while floating high above Napa Valley in a hot air balloon is not a memory I’ll soon forget. I sense that this year will be a special one, filled with lots of milestones and accomplishments – I just hope that “31” is ready for me, it doesn’t know what I have in store for it, yet 😉
  • Celebrations – of love: watching Scott’s best friend Vinnie wed Gen was an awesome experience. They are so in love and two of the NICEST people you’ll ever meet. It was an honor to be in their presence on their big day. And, not gonna lie, seeing Scott in a tux – wowza, sight for sore eyes, hehe.
  • Celebrations – of friendships: Spending a week+ away with a group of close friends could either be a recipe for disaster or one of the most special adventures ever. As you can imagine, we fell into the latter group – we had the BEST time together, laughed at every single chance we could, enjoyed every last sip of wine and morsel of food, and just enjoyed the best company around. I am so thankful and grateful for amazing friendships like these. (despite the one or two minor disagreements we had – mostly revolving around “feeding time” – we women are a hungry bunch, once hunger strikes, you do NOT want to cross us, LOL)

As I said, I could TOTALLY ramble for hours about this trip – it was worth every single penny, every vacation day spent away from work, routine, my kitties, my workouts – for memories that I will never, EVER, forget. And if you need any vineyard recommendations for the Healdsburg/Dry Creek area of Sonoma County, you know where to find me. Just don’t lay a hand on my fully-stocked wine fridge, heh. 😉


At the wedding - with the best in-laws around!



At Michel-Schlumberger amidst the vines!



Check out those grapes - at Field Stone Vineyard, our fave



Sister shot - at Thumprint Cellars tasting room in Healdsburg Square



At Hawley's tasting room in the Square - with Jess, Jo and Meg



At Seguesio - great Zin's and a special blend, Omadi that Scott and I bought to save for a special occasion



View from our hot air balloon at a fellow ballooner nearby. Gorgeous, right??



Scott and I with Jeannine and Shane at Gary Farrell


Wicked Half – the after-party, and other thoughts

Now that the reality has set in – as well as some serious DOMS – that I’m a half marathoner, and all, I have a few observations to share.

Namely – I have an incredible ecosystem of friends (both IRL and blogger, alike!) and family who have been such an incredible support system for me and my sister throughout our training and eventual completion of the Wicked Half.

I’ve been so completely blown away by the slew of Facebook comments, Twitter exchanges, and blog comments – as well as the IRL phone calls, hugs and words of encouragement – I’ve received in the past few days, weeks and months.

In a word, I’m blown away.

By your collective love, support, and pride.

It’s been so touching, so amazing, quite honestly, it’s been unreal.

And I thank you ALL so very much, you have no idea how much it meant to me during the race on Saturday to know and to sense your support and thoughts and good vibes you were sending my way with every step that I took. I could myself as one, very luck lady. (((hugs!!)))

And, the Wicked Half party at my house after the race, well – it was awesome. Yes, I was SUPER tired and totally had to rally but it was worth it. Such fun.

Of course, there was lots of eating, a little drinking, and tons of laughter and fun. Perfection.

The Wicked Half girls – Steph, Jo and I. Don’t we look tired?

Jo and Meg – aka team photog ‘o the day, and fab friend!

Wicked Half cake – a surprise treat from fab friend Jess (who will be joining us in our return trip to wine country in t-minus 3 days

Me and Jo

End of the night shot – an early night, ha 😉

Ruminations on Wicked Half training

The third post in a series of observations, thoughts, and pep talks as I near the final days leading into the half marathon. If you missed my first post – check it out here.  My second post is here.


Obviously, this half marathon is basically all I can think about lately – y’know, aside from work and trying to get everything done before our EPIC return trip to San Fran/wine country next week. 😉

So while mulling over the half, I got to thinking about what an incredible journey the training process has been in and of itself.  I’ve learned so much about myself, about my relationship with Scott, about friendships.

More specifically, I’ve learned:

  • That there are very few things in life that bond friends together like training for a half marathon. You see eachother at your best and yes, at your very worst, when you’re digging as deep as you possibly can to eek out that last mile.
  • Training for a half with my husband has been something I’ve cherished more than I realized I would – and again, reminds me just how lucky and how “right” the timing has been for him to be unemployed. We’ve grown so much as a couple, and become pretty darn good runners, too.
  • I’m stronger than I thought I was. When I signed up for this race back in April, I never, in a million years, thought I’d ever get to a point where running 8 or 10 miles would feel “normal.” While I will say that my body likes a 6-8 mile much more so than a 10-12 mile run, it has yet to let me down on those longer runs either. Yes, my knees are sure talking to me by the end, but they have done me proud and I know they’ll do me proud when I cross that 13.1 finish line.
  • I love a challenge. Well duh, I think you all knew that already, right? Well, now that I’m almost “done” with this challenge, I’m already anxious about what the “next” challenge might be for me. I conquered Kick (well getting a regular class to teach would be great but still, I am certified which was my ultimate goal), and I’m about to conquer a half marathon. What shall I conquer next? Hmm…this one I’ll have to mull over a bit, because the antsy pants in me is very likely to get bored with going back to a “normal” workout routine really quickly. I gotta feeling. 😉
  • I’m ready to cross that starting (and finish) line. A few months ago, I mentioned how much I wanted to feel “ready” when I set foot across the starting line of the race. Well – that day is about to come and I do feel ready. Yes – just writing this post gives me butterflies, but I view those as “I’m ready” butterflies, not “holy crap, how am I ever gonna get through this” butterflies. I’m psyched that it’s almost upon us. I’m even more psyched that I’ll be sharing this experience with my sister, my husband, my friends and my family who will be cheering us on from the sidelines. I cannot wait to see your smiling faces when I cross the finish. But watch out, I *may* be crying. 😉

Guest Post: Along for the ride…I mean, run???

With almost one week until the wicked half, my husband decided it was time to write a guest blog for me – about none other, than our “journey” running together and really, where it all began for me, but also for us as a couple.

For someone who doesn’t consider himself a writer – this one totally hit my right there. Reason four million while I am so lucky to have such an amazing, thoughtful, loving and supportive husband like him. I think I’ll keep him around for awhile 😉

And if you’re wondering – Scott and I still do have our “other” Living A Zinful Life blog…it’s just on hiatus while we explore a “project” together (more details on that later…)

Along for the ride…I mean, run???

For me, running has always been a means to an end.  I was always playing one sport or another and used running to make myself better at athletics.  It always came relatively easy to me.  I would just set out and before I knew it four or five miles had gone by and my run was done. I used the time to think, a chance to slow my mind down and work through whatever was going on in my head.  Even when I would run with my teammates I wasn’t really present. Running was my “me” time.

Like everything in my life, this changed drastically when Jess and I started to run together. My “me” time became “our” time and I wouldn’t change that for the world. I don’t know if Jess ever mentioned why she/we began to run together.  We used running as a way to move out of the routine that had taken over our lives and our relationship. Yup, Jess and I were in a rut. Our lives and our relationship got stagnant. We started taking each other for granted and our relationship suffered. The two of us are very emotional people and this emotion is what makes our relationship flourish. I can honestly say that I love Jess more today than I did at anytime of our relationship and it is because of our decision to start running, kind of. Running was conscious decision to do different things together. We realized that our relationship was worth any amount of work that we needed to put into it. Running was obviously only one of the “solutions” but was a major one. Running gave us time to chat, well at first I did most of the chatting, Jess was busy breathing and “not dying”.  It forced me to open up, to lead the discussion, to actually go in depth about my day, my feelings, my thoughts and especially my dreams.  Running literally and figuratively took us to places we had never been before.

I never would have thought that we would be here when this adventure started, one week away from a half MARATHON.  Jess has come so far and it amazes me every time we hit the pavement at the improvements she has made (ask her about the water bottle on our very first run). I guess that is what drew me to her in the first place so many years ago when she wouldn’t even talk to me. I could see that determination in her eyes, in her actions, and in her heart. I am one lucky guy to have her share that with me everyday.

If you wouldn’t mind, I would love to give you a little tidbit from what I have learned by “running.” And it has nothing to do with the physical challenge of running. If you start to feel stagnant, if the spark is getting dimmer, and you find yourself losing that passion, try something new, allow yourself to be pulled out of your comfort zone. You never know where it might take you.