Treat Your Feet with The Runner’s Choice

Runner's Choice Cover

Ever since my DVT nearly three years ago, I have dealt with regular fatigue and even pain in my lower legs and feet. Sitting for extended periods of time bothers my feet and standing for extended periods of time also bothers them. Getting back to running has been difficult for me, to say the least. I can walk for three to four miles without much of a problem, but then I experience pain and swelling particularly at the bottom of my feet. As part of my ongoing recovery, I wear compression stockings everyday to help with the pain and swelling as well as to hopefully prevent or eliminate the risk of post-thrombotic syndrome, a painful and lifelong condition as a result of blood clots in the leg(s).

I have a desk at work that can raises and lowers to be a standing or sitting desk, which has really helped keep me moving, at least up and down, throughout the day. And while I am not running right now, I do spend a significant amount of time on my feet everyday and am often in pain by the time my day is done. Sitting down doesn’t necessarily help each night, sometimes it makes it worse. I have to be careful if I use any medications, even pain relieves like Advil or IBUprofen are not safe for people taking blood thinners, which I am. So, I am really limited on what I can do to provide relief.

That’s why I was excited to try The Runner’s Choice, compliments of Trusted Health Products, for the discomfort of sore feet. The Runner’s Choice is scientifically formulated with 100% natural botanical oils of almond, eucalyptus, eucalyptol, wintergreen, peppermint and spearmint and it is designed for people that run three miles or more at a time or for those that are on their feet all day.

Product Picture

It is an oil based product that you apply directly to your feet, heels and right above your ankles. I didn’t rub the product in, per the instructions, but smoothed it out to make sure it completely covered my whole foot. It smells really good – like mint and menthol. It would be great to smell if I was fighting congestion! I let it soak in and propped my [not so pretty] feet up to relax.

My feet

What I like about this product is that it is all natural and it did help my feet to feel relaxed. It felt like a mini-spa treatment without having to a) go the spa or b) pay for the spa. I think I would also really enjoy putting this on my feet after a walk or run, especially to freshen them up and provide soothing relief. I also like that it is made in the USA by Trusted Health Products. The Runner’s Choice retails for about $19.97 a bottle and you only need a small amount to cover your whole foot so I think that is a reasonable price.

Do you want to try The Runner’s Choice? Enter to win one of three bottles available to my readers! The giveaway would be for the U.S., Canada, Europe and Australia only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you to Trusted Health Products for providing me with this review and giveaway. I was not compensated in any way nor was I asked to write a positive review.

Good luck!

Until the next mile marker,

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Spartan Race Giveaway

I hope you all are enjoying your long Memorial Day weekend celebrating the things that are important – family, friends and the ultimate sacrifices some have given.

Today, I am giving away a free race entry to any open heat (non-confirmed start time) in any Reebok Spartan Race in the continental US!

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I know there are many Spartans out there (or soon-to-be-Spartans) who I hope will enter. All you have to do is enter here –

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I would love to run a Spartan Race someday, but I don’t think I will be able to this year. Are you training for a race or are you thinking about training for a race?

Now through May 27 use the code MEMORIAL to save up to $40 off any race! 

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Thanks to Reebok Spartan Race for providing this giveaway for my readers. Connect with Spartan Race on Facebook and Twitter.

AROO! And Happy Memorial Day,

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Support Eric O’Connor and #Tread24

I first connected with Eric about six months after my Pulmonary Embolism (blood clot in my lung) in 2012 through the Facebook Support Group Running After A Pulmonary Embolism. I went on a short run around my neighborhood and hesitantly posted this picture in the group.

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Eric, a fellow survivor and runner, was one of the first people to respond with support and encouragement of my efforts to get out of the house and try to run again. We’ve kept in touch through the group and various running events that Eric has participated in over the last year, including the New York City Marathon.

Eric has remained a personal inspiration to me since then as an example of someone who has persevered through one of the worst events imaginable and continued on to excel at a sport we both share a passion for. Not only that, Eric is always available to offer a kind or encouraging word to someone who is struggling, including me.

Now, Eric needs your support. He is running 24 consecutive hours on a treadmill to raise awareness in support of the National Blood Clot Alliance. The event begins tomorrow, April 10 at 12:00 p.m. EST.

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Why would anyone run for 24 hours on a treadmill, you ask? Eric’s reasons are simple:

  • Use run to build awareness of blood clots
  • Minimum 100 miles
  • Try something I’m not sure I can finish

Please join me in supporting Eric on his journey by visiting the Tread 24 website. You can read more about Eric, donate and join the fight against blood clots. 

On average, 274 Americans die from a blood clot every day and 30 percent of Pulmonary Embolisms are fatal. More people die from blood clots each year than the total number of people who lose their lives each year to AIDS, breast cancer, and motor vehicle crashes combined.

Watch Eric live tomorrow here beginning at noon and please spread the word about this important word by using the hashtag #Tread24. You may even choose to run a few miles in solidarity with  Eric and the National Blood Clot Alliance at some point on Friday or Saturday. I plan to do the same.

Good luck, Eric! I’ll be cheering you on every step of the way.

Until the next mile marker,

Learning to Love Myself Again with Lane Bryant

It wasn’t long after I declared to the world that I am a Size 18 and resolved to myself to love me despite the number that I was formally invited to attend the Make-A-Wish Big Wish Gala 2015. As an employee of such a vital organization that seeks to enrich the human experience with strength, hope and during a child and family’s most trying time while facing a life-threatening illness (a mission that I align with for very personal reasons as well); I felt excited to attend one of the most inspirational and successful fundraising nights of the year, but my new acceptance of myself did not for one second involve formal wear, especially not so soon.

What was I going to do? What was I going to wear? Nothing would fit, let alone look good and it mattered this time! Not to mention, I certainly couldn’t go to a formal work event not believing in myself after everything I had said about loving my curves. Well, the Universe, as we know by now, has a way of ensuring things happen just when they’re supposed to and my life is no exception. I looked around online for some cocktail dresses and was unsuccessful to say the least looking at pictures, so I made the brave and now undoubtedly brilliant decision to stop in Lane Bryant one Friday after work.

I scoped out the store, all exists in mind in case I needed to leave quickly (and hopefully no one would notice me before I did) and made a beeline for a display of black dresses near the back. I perused the rack, casually, I knew what I was doing after all, I had shopped for things before; but not in a store that was made for with bodies like my own. I was uncomfortable. My hands went back and forth between a classic black lace dress and short, royal blue skater dress. Whatever that was. I grabbed an 18 in the black and spun around to search for the dressing room when a friendly voice (oh GOD they’ve seen me!) said, “That dress has a really flattering fit and you should try on the blue one too since you kept looking at it.” I hesitantly turned around to see her smiling face right behind me.

“I can’t wear the blue one,” I said, “It’s really not me.”

Beth introduced herself and said, “All the more reason to try it on, you might be surprised,” and grabbed one as she ushered me to a dressing room. She asked me what occasion I was shopping for and I told her about Make-A-Wish and how I was excited to be attending my first work function. I was committed now, involved even, and my heart was racing, hands shaking as I tried on the black dress. Beth’s confidence somehow crept in and boosted my own, I couldn’t wait to see how I looked in a dress with my newfound opinion of myself.

It didn’t fit. I poked my head out of the dressing room, terrified, and my eyes locked on Beth across the store. She saw me and I motioned to her to come back.

“Need a different size?” she asked. I did and she got it while I hid behind the door.

Try #2. It fit…I think. I stuck my head out again. This time, she was waiting for me. “I think it fits” I said with hesitation.

“Come out and let me see!” she exclaimed. I did, very, very slowly.

“It looks great,” she said, “let me see what Kevin thinks too.” Oh no, I thought. Who’s Kevin?! I wanted to shrink into the floor. She yelled for Kevin and I heard a voice say “be there in a second.”

“You look fantastic,” he said, introducing himself as he rounded the corner,”But let me ask you, when is the last time you wore a new bra?” I think he could tell by the look on my face it was not anytime in recent history.

Beth did a fitting and Kevin said “Hold on,” and hurried away. He came back with a bright pink, black lace-trimmed bra and said, “Here, try this on.” I held it up. It didn’t look like me or my size.

‘I think it’s too small,” I said. Both Kevin and Beth looked at me expectantly and I turned around, back into the dressing room. I tried the pink beauty on, along with a strapless bra and in just 3.5 minutes (that it took me to wrestle into the strapless bra), I had never felt more supported in my life. As it turns out, I had been wearing the wrong cup size for two years and since I have lost two inches around my chest, I was also wearing a size that was far too big around.

I exited the dressing room, this time more confidently. Kevin and Beth were waiting and when I spun around, Kevin beamed, “Perfect,” he exclaimed, “You’ve got it, you just need to show it off.”

Kevin took me around the store and talked to me about different options I have in bras, how best to wear them (never the same bra two days in a row to allow the material to rest – so, yes, ladies you need a bra for just about everyday of the week) and he encouraged me to save my old garments for camping trips. Don’t worry, Kevin, they actually reached their final resting place in the trash can shortly after my visit with you. While I was there, I tried on several more bras, the blue dress (which we agreed didn’t look as good as the black one) and some tops. I have never felt so encouraged, supported or more beautiful while shopping for clothes. Suddenly, I didn’t feel like I was searching for “plus-size fashion,” but that I was just a girl looking for a dress for a big night out.

Kevin told me, “You know, size is just a number, don’t let it stop you from being the most beautiful you can be.” Thank you, Universe.

I was actually sad when I departed Lane Bryant nearly three hours later with the party dress, hot pink with black lace Smooth Boost Plunge Bra, the strapless wonder, several other bras too and two new BFF’s. For the next three days I couldn’t stop thinking about Kevin, Beth, the things they had said to encourage me, my experience at Lane Bryant or my new dress.

I attended the Big Hearts Gala with my sister and aside from my wedding day, have never felt as stunning as I did that night. I have also never heard so many compliments:

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What I wore (in other words, if you wear anything starting at a size 12 or a 36C bra, go to your local Lane Bryant/Cacique or shop online right now. Eight out of ten women wear the wrong bra size too, don’t be one of them):

Attire made possible by The Fabulous Kevin and Beth at Lane Bryant Tuttle Crossing Mall who encouraged me to come out of my shell that day and start really believing I am beautiful.

me and mollie

  • Black Lace Party Dress
  • Multi-Way Stapless Bra in Black (seriously not one single problem all night, not one single adjustment)
Accessories made possible and selected to match Attire by the creative Rachel at Francesca’s Tuttle Crossing Mall

jewelry collage

Hair made possible (and done exclusively) by the talented and lovely Lila at Evolution Straightener Tuttle Crossing Mall

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Shoes made possible by Dolores at Macy’s Polaris Mall

Thank you to each and every one of you who not only made this night possible, but a complete success for me. I’m even dressing to impress on casual days and weekends, feeling good about myself in Lane Bryant leggings and Cacique under garments. You would be proud, Kevin and Beth.

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The moral of my story? The perfect dress (or bra) can pretty much change your opinion of yourself . The perfect shopping experience, like the one I had at Lane Bryant, can change your whole life.

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Until the next mile marker,

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I am a size 18 and here’s what I think about it

The internet is buzzing with the talk of the first plus-size model appearing in the upcoming February 9th issue of none other than the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. Her name is Ashley Graham and if you ask me, she is absolutely stunning.

Ashley Graham, Facebook Timeline Photos- swimsuitsforall

Ashley Graham, Facebook Timeline Photos- swimsuitsforall

Ashley appears in an ad in the magazine that is part of online retailer swimsuitsforall campaign with the tagline “You’ve Got It. Flaunt It.” The bikinis from the Swim Sexy line range from sizes 10-34, featuring #CurvesInBikinis. Ashley is a size 16 and is not to be confused with Robyn Lawley – a size 12 plus-size model – who has been named the actual first plus-size model (and not because she’s expecting a baby any day now per her Instagram) to be included in a Sports Illustrated editorial feature. Robyn will be seen wearing a swimsuit from her own swimwear line. Is your head [pardon the pun, I couldn’t help it] swimming yet?

Robin Lawley poses for the 'Sports Illustrated' 2015 swimsuit issue, on sale Feb. 9, 2015. (Photo: James Macari, Sports Illustrated)

Robin Lawley poses for the ‘Sports Illustrated’ 2015 swimsuit issue, on sale Feb. 9, 2015.
(Photo: James Macari, Sports Illustrated)

For the record, I think both women are beautiful, and I applaud them for their hard work and dedication in staking a claim in an industry that I can only assume in exceedingly competitive with extremely high standards, including an extreme expectation of how beauty should look that often appears to be entirely unattainable for the everyday woman.

That being said, the images of size 16 Ashley are the ones that have captured the most attention, including my own.

Ashley Graham, Facebook Timeline Photos- swimsuitsforall

Ashley Graham, Facebook Timeline Photos- swimsuitsforall

In these images, Ashley appears more like me than any model I have seen in recent history anywhere noteworthy. She has curvy hips and thighs, big boobs and a tummy that protrudes ever so slightly. While I am sure these images are photoshopped in some way, I even think I see a small imperfection on her thigh that might (oh my God) be cellulite.

The rapid internet fire surrounding the ad has been pretty evenly divided between “What are they thinking promoting obesity?” and “Finally! That’s what a real woman should look like!” The comments themselves range from enlightened to hysterical to absurd to downright hurtful. I am saddened to say the most criticism, no scrutiny, has come from the fitness community that I consider myself to be a part of. A community that welcomed me as a plus-sized runner, who now undoubtedly was also entrusted with the expectation that I would one day be something other than a plus-sized runner and therefore my looks were, well, overlooked for the time being.

We’ve heard it said and proclaimed it ourselves that health is not a number, it’s not a size and it is not a result of one factor alone. Health is not exclusively your weight or your jeans size, any more than it is your shoe size. Yet, people have deducted that Ashley must be unhealthy according to her curves. We, in fact, don’t really know if she is healthy or not – and it doesn’t really matter what we think we know. Ashley herself reports that she works out with a trainer multiple times a week, eats well and doesn’t deny herself every last treat, every last time. She is a self-proclaimed “body diversity ambassador” and states confidence, not size, is sexy. She radiates positivity about her body and speaks about she has overcome a long self-esteem battle born of the number on the scale and expectations in her early modeling career. She even has her own Curvy Fit Club.

Both Ashley and Robyn have spoken about how the plus-size label should not be defining of who they are as individuals. The modern idea of what women should look like, garnished from TV, movies and print, has conditioned us to see women like Ashley and Robyn as plus-size, indicating they do not look like they should and therefore, there is something wrong with them. Even when I look at Ashley I think she looks bigger, curvier, fuller, etc. but not ugly or unhealthy.

In reality, Ashley might be completely healthy – even more so than the slender woman you see – and at the end of the day, it’s health that should be the one thing that matters to us all. I can’t really think of anything more valuable than my health, especially since I myself came dangerous close to the ultimate penalty of poor health (self inflicted or not, as in my case), which would be death. It was not until I suffered a life-threatening blood clot in my lung two years ago that I understood exactly how important my health really was.

So, from here and for the first time ever, I am talking about my size. And I don’t mean I have decided to announce it on the World Wide Web either – for the first time in, well, ever, I told my husband last night…

I am a size 18.

(And you know what he said? “Oh, okay. I don’t get women’s sizes anyway.”)

Life went on. The Earth kept spinning. Nothing came from the sky and swallowed me whole.

I am a size 18. And, thanks to Ashley, I am ready to talk about it. All of it.

I’m no longer striving to be a size. Nope, no more. It ends right here, right now. While I am not quite the picture of health right now, a size is not the picture I am going to continue aiming for anymore. My picture looks like healthy – no numbers, no sizes, no measurements.

Truth be told, I am healthier than I was three or four years ago when I first started running. My blood sugar is normal; I’m not currently insulin resistant (and therefore at an increased risk for diabetes); and my triglycerides and cholesterol are normal. Still, I have improvements I want to make. I want to feel better. Even though I feel better than I did, I don’t always feel well. I want to regularly exercise, eat to heal my body and yes, I want to lose some weight to help achieve these things. I want to build back my endurance, my cardiovascular health and I want to have strength in my arms and abs again. But, I am no longer striving to be a number on the scale.

I’ve been hard on myself, downright hateful. When, the truth is, most of the time I strive to look pretty – even beautiful – and enjoy dressing and accessorizing to do so. I wear things I am comfortable in, but also things that flatter my curves. My husband thinks I am downright sexy and you know what? Maybe he is right. I do not see what he sees most of the time when I look in the mirror, but now thanks to Ashley, I am starting to see things a little differently. Curves are beautiful. I dare say that extra weight is beautiful. Boobs and butts are beautiful. And maybe even a little tummy is beautiful. We are women, after all. And even more beautiful than all of that? A woman who is healthy, happy, confident and comfortable in her own body, regardless of the number on the scale.

I am a Size 18.

I am a Size 18.

 

Until the next mile marker,

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