StitchFix Shipment No. 4 Review

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Although I only kept two items from my previous StitchFix (read about it here), I’ve been anxiously awaiting the arrival of box number four. Once again I requested Becca, but this time asked her for some edgier pieces to carry me through the holidays and into winter.

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Let’s check out what came in this month’s box, shall we?

First up was the Pixley Robyn Teardrop Branch Necklace ($34). I like the design and the shape, but the color wasn’t as bold or exciting as I had hoped. Sometimes it’s had to tell, though, until you get it on and see how it works with an outfit, so I put it in the ‘maybe’ pile.

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Next was the Andrew Marc Bryn Sheer Top Textured Dress ($148). I love a LBD (little black dress) for the holidays, and totally agree with Becca that this one’s “the definition of elegance” with a sheer paneled top and shimmery bottom. The shape is super flattering, although the waist will need to be tailored a bit (I was pinning it back with my hand in the shot above), plus it’s versatile enough to be worn a few different ways.

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Third was a pair of Just Black Jake Slim Bootcut Jeans ($88). Becca was pretty accurate with sizing, and dark denim transitions well from day to night, making this a nice double-duty item. However, I’m starting to accumulate quite a bit of denim, so this was another one to mull over in the ‘maybe’ pile.

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After that came the Market and Spruce Janet Striped Cross Front Sweater ($74). I wrestled — literally — with this one, putting it on upside-down at first (oops!). But once I untangled everything and got it on properly, it was not only cozy, but also a lot different from anything else I’ve got in my closet. Becca suggested pairing it with some heeled ankle boots and a bright scarf for a casual look, which I thought would be fun for winter.

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And, finally, was the Renee C Rocca Chain Trim Open Cardigan ($68). It’s cute, in theory, and I like how the chain-link trim could add some edginess to my wardrobe, but as soon as I felt the fabric I knew it was headed to the ‘no’ pile. Instead of a nice, rich wool, it’s a stiffer, scratchier polyester-type material, which is probably meant to withstand the weight of the metal. But, sadly, it just wasn’t doing it for me.

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So what did I end up buying? Because I was waffling on pretty much everything, the true test was running it by Hubby for a guy’s opinion. Of course, he agreed with my initial reaction to the chain-link sweater and that I didn’t need (another) pair of jeans. The necklace wasn’t met with much enthusiasm, either. And his word to describe the cross-front sweater? “Frumpy.” So out that went, as well!

In the end, the dress was the only clear winner. With a little nip and tuck from the tailor, it’ll be a great LBD for this year’s holiday parties, and since it’s a classic silhouette, I’ll likely keep it for years to come.

My next fix is scheduled for the end of January, and I requested some dressy casual blouses and tops for work. I also asked that we brighten up the color palette to try to combat the inevitable winter doldrums and start looking forward to some bolder items that can be worn for spring.

Want to try StitchFix? Use my referral link to fill out your style profile and get started.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. I simply love the service and think it’s fun to share my experience. I pay for Stitch Fix on my own. If you sign up for Stitch Fix using my referral link, I will get a credit…thanks! 

Portland fit fix: Rejuvenate, refresh and replenish at YogaPod

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Contrary to the 21-day myth, there’s now scientific evidence that it takes about two months — or 66 days, to be exact — to form a new habit. But thanks to YogaPod, a vibrant and transformational yoga studio in Portland, I’d argue it only takes about a week to fall back into a much-neglected, yet healthy, routine.

Bear with me for a moment: Like those green, cruciferous veggies, we all know how good yoga is for us, but I find (in my experience, at least) that it takes some time to develop my palate enough to be able to thoroughly enjoy and appreciate it, especially during training when the goal is to keep your head above water with workouts. Anyone else?

Well, this is precisely why Carolyn (one of my LUNA teammates) and I decided to get back on track with a recent seven-day #YogaBinge at YogaPod.

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Not only would a week-long yoga immersion aid in off-season recovery, I figured, but it’d also be a great way to see how one of the newer workout facilities in the city stacked up. YogaPod founders, husband and wife team Gerry and Nicole Wienholt, expanded the Boulder-based brand to Portland this past summer after seeing a need for a luxury yoga studio in Portland’s Pearl District, and true to form it’s got a high-end look with a welcoming feel.

If there’s one word that comes to mind upon entering YogaPod, it’s community. From the friendly management and front-desk staff (shout out to Anthony, a fellow ultra runner!) to the inspirational chalk board in the hallway, and from the relaxed vibe in the space to the teachers who take a genuine interest in their students, it’s clear that this place is rooted in creating an experience full of positivity, clarity and compassion for all who enter.

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And as far as the classes go, we took advantage of the convenience of morning, afternoon and evening slots to get a good sampling of what YogaPod has to offer. Throughout the course of the week we toggled back and forth between the two rooms — both clean, light and spacious — for Restorative, PodHot and PodFlow.

Classes are well-balanced (i.e. not all Chaturanga Dandasana-heavy) and the music is right up my alley — a thoughtful blend of traditional instrumentals with some newer songs that gently flow with movements. When Carolyn and I compared notes, we both agreed that our time at YogaPod was the perfect antidote to a hectic week — so much so, in fact, that we both found ourselves feeling like the time passed quickly in each session.

If you’re local and want to jump-start your own yoga journey, YogaPod offers a free week of classes for first-timers. Or if you just want to dip your toe in the yoga waters before jumping in, come check out their free community class on Saturdays at 5 p.m. with Ati, one of my favorite yogis in the city.

She brings such lightness and enjoyment to her practice that you can’t help but want to come back for more. And that habit — for rejuvenating your body, refreshing your mind and replenishing your spirit — is one you won’t want to break!

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Interested in learning more? Check out YogaPod’s websit at Portland.YogaPodCommunity.com.

Fave Fix: PrAna Early Winter Collection (& discount code!)

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Whether it’s comfort, performance or style, workout clothing should have a clear purpose.  In my case, obnoxiously-bright gear just so happens to get me motivated to work out, even when it’s cold, wet and otherwise crappy outside (and, as I found out last week, it also gets me called out at the gym as a “Californian,” but I digress…).

You know what’s odd, though? Despite all the tanks, tops, sports bras and capris I’ve amassed over the years, I had yet to try anything from prAna. I’ve got a few friends who swear by the brand, and I know they sponsor the lovely LUNA Chix Pro Team, the most successful, longest-running team in the history of professional MTB and XTERRA racing, but that was the extent of my knowledge of them.

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So I considered it kismet when prAna partnered up with Fit Approach to help get the word out about the new Early Winter Collection. Getting to check out an organization with a mission of being socially mindful, environmentally sustainable and that offers gear that not only withstands the rigors of the outdoors but also the demands of world-class athletes? Well, that’s a no brainer.

As it turns out, the 22-year-old company was started by Beaver Theodosakis and his wife Pam in their garage in Carlsbad, Calif. and continues their commitment to sustainability, community and right action to this day. Their purposeful garments are designed for freedom of movement with hidden technical features — and what started as a cult favorite within the yoga and climbing communities has extended to people who share a love of the outdoors and related lifestyles.

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Knowing that I’d soon be facing a dreary Portland winter, I decided to test out the Drea Jacket ($99) and Prism Capri Legging ($70) for keeping my core warm and spirits high, respectively. As far as I’m concerned, I’ll continue the SF trend of wearing workout gear around town and sport these puppies both in the gym and out and about for errands.

Yes, the Drea is another fleece hoodie; we’ve all got a few rotating in and out of our wardrobe. But what makes this one so special is that its made from a moisture-wicking stretch performance fleece, so you can throw it on after spin class or an hour of yoga without worrying about getting overheated or pitting it out at brunch. Ribbing at the side body and hood give it a more fitted shape, and built-in cuff hand warmers help keep fingers toasty.

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And the capris, well, they’re quickly becoming my go-to when I’m looking to spice up my outfit with bottoms that are durable, flattering and (most importantly) fun. The “stylized stitching” is supposed to add sporty flair, but I found it quite functional — strategic placement under the knee on both front and back conveniently help keep the pants from riding up.

Mindfully designed. Built to last. And best of all? Available at a discount, just in time for holiday shopping! Use KineticFix’s special code (pspf14kf) at checkout for 15% off your entire order.

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Happy shopping…and sweating, friends :)

How I Run: November Project’s Laura McCloskey

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You may have heard me mention November Project™ before — it’s a FREE fitness movement that was born in Boston as a way to stay in shape during cold New England months. Now present in multiple cities in across four time zones in North America, the movement uses a simple sense of accountability (verbal) to motivate and encourage people of all ages, shapes, sizes and fitness levels to get out of their beds and get moving.

That’s the official definition. The unofficial one — my definition — is that November Project is simply “my people.” And if you consistently show up, smile and sweat with ‘em, they’ll quickly become your people, too.

After living in the Bay Area for almost a decade, it wasn’t until I found this group that I truly felt at home. They’ll greet you with open arms (literally, get ready for an all-out, hips-in hugfest at the beginning of each workout), you’ll cheer each other on ’til your throats are hoarse, go on some crazy adventures, challenge one another to better your best, and top it all off with a victory tunnel at the end of each workout. If that’s not a good excuse to get out of bed ass-early and get moving, I don’t know what is.

And the ringleader of San Francisco’s “gang of yahoos?” Well, that’s Laura McCloskey. She’s a former Northeastern University track standout with a Boston Marathon “problem” — that is, she keeps qualifying year after year. I sat down with McCloskey to talk about what makes her tick when it comes to motivating herself — and up to 200 others — to #JustShowUp week after week.

1. What’s your favorite route? Nothing makes me happier than trails in the early fall. No route, but just enough of a grasp on the trails so I don’t get completely lost, forcing me to spend the night eating wood chips and fighting off mountain lions. Okay, that’s a bit dramatic, but trails are the perfect cure for a cluttered mind.

2. What shoes do you wear? Asics Gel Nimbus. Discovered them when I was 15 years old and never looked back.

3. What other run gear can’t you live without? Do bags of ice count as running gear?

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4. What’s your best time-saver or “runhack?” Early run? Sleep in your running clothes. The first few miles fly by because you are still in your REM cycle. Also, putting your alarm clock in your running shoes on the other side of the room has gotten me out of bed on those freezing, dark mornings.

5. What running-related thing are you better at than anyone else? Blacking out. Maybe that came out wrong. But I tend to run long runs alone because I can mentally check out and check back in 15 miles later, impressed with how far I have come! If only my work day was like that…

6. What do you listen to while running? All depends on the goal of the run. Sometimes your body needs those chill, relaxed runs, and I will slow the music down to keep the tempo contained. When I am trying to get after it, the beat is fast, the genre is pop, and the air drums I play with my hands are on point.

7. What are you currently training for? I am planning on toeing the line for the Boston Marathon again this spring (if all training goes well). But in general, I am training to just keep up with the fast people I call my friends.

8. What are your recovery & sleep routines like? All nutrition nuts look away; I binge on ice cream and cinnamon buns post marathons. In the general sense of recovery from long runs or a long week of high intensity workouts, I use yoga as my active recovery. I truly believe in the power of taking time away from running, for both the body and the mind. Even if it is only a couple of days, you need to hit the reset button sometimes. Also, never underestimate the power of a bottle of wine. I hear it cures cancer.

When it comes to sleeping, I am a log. And if I get less than 8-9 hours a night, I consider calling in sick to work the next day. Just kidding. But no, really.

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9. What’s the best running advice you’ve ever received? I used to race competitively and my coach always kept us in check. You are running a race, you are not fighting a war. Stay competitive and fight for every second, but don’t ever take the sport so seriously that you stop having fun. Because if you’re not smiling at the end of the race, what is the point?

10. What’s your favorite running-related memory? When I was 14, I won the NYS cross country championship in the pouring rain and knee-high mud. I only won by the hair on my chin, not even a full second. My Dad was right at the finish line with tears in his eyes. I was too young to really appreciate that day, but now when I look back on it I can’t help but get a rush of adrenaline. It’s a funny thing, pulling inspiration from a former version of yourself. But that 14 year-old girl was one bad ass chick. I hope I am making her proud today.

11. Fill in the blank: I’d love to go on a run with: Ellen Degeneres. Followed immediately after with a push-up contest against Michelle Obama.

12. Anything else you want to add? At the end of the day, running is the only thing that keeps my mind steady and my life sane. It has been the most consistent component of my life and connected me to the best people I know.

Thanks for playing, Laura! I couldn’t agree more. 

Wanna watch Laura in action? Click here to see an amazing video she created during her recent “funemployment”/”runcation” in Europe!

Runner friends, please email me — info (at) kineticfix.com — if you’d like to be featured. 

Introducing the 2015 LUNA Chix PDX Run Team!

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A few weeks ago I wrote about launching the LUNA Chix Run Team in Portland for 2015, and I’m thrilled to announce our inaugural members for the upcoming season, which runs April through October.

We had a lot of interest, and it was tough to narrow it down to just 10 people — but the good news is that, since this is a non-competitive, community-oriented team, we look forward to opening up our workouts to everyone who is interested in attending.

So mark your calendars! Our regular workouts will take place on Mondays from 6:30-7:30 p.m. in a location that rotates each week (follow our team’s Facebook and Twitter pages for updates). Our first one is slated for Monday, April 6, and we hope to see you (and your friends — come one, come all) there.

And, without further do, here’s our official roster for the 2015 team:

  • Katie Phillips: Eye doc, mom of two kiddos, just rocked Hood to Coast and the Fueled by Fine Wine half marathon this summer
  • Kristin Minto: When not working alongside oral surgeons, you can find her at Burncycle, on the philanthropy circuit or with her cute pooch
  • Tiffany Henness: Also a proud dog mama, she’s a blogger, RRCA Certified Running Coach, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer & ultramarathoner
  • Kelsie Adams: May possibly have the most energy out of all of us as a mom to three, led her team in roadkills for this year’s Portland to Coast
  • Carolyn Domme: My partner in crime for studio-hopping in the city; avid mountain-biker, hiking adventurer and hot yoga connoisseur
  • Tasha Henderson: Embracer of life, food and a good farmer’s market, blogger who runs marathons, skis double black diamonds and climbs rocks
  • Sharlene Murphy: Family medicine doc and avid yogi who likes camping, hiking, snowshoeing, running and cycling
  • Nicole Licking: Neurology doc who cares for patients with movement disorders. Enjoys running, cooking, traveling and watching/playing soccer
  • Megan Fuetterer: Iron(wo)man triathlete, personal trainer, pediatric dietitian and kick-ass Revocycle instructor. Oh, and she also blogs
  • Jennifer Hellickson: Yours truly! I work for a fitness start-up & am a workout junkie/wannabe-triathlete who likes to run (far)

As you can see, it’s quite the crew! We’re looking forward to getting to know one another better, logging many miles together and making an impact on the Portland running community while doing some good work for the Breast Cancer Fund in the process.

Stay tuned for updates, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and don’t forget to join us on Monday evenings for a workout when you’re in the Portland area! 

I Mustache You Some Questions

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I’m doing something a little different here today! Jamie did this survey on her blog last week and tagged me to do it, too. So let’s get to it, shall we?

Four names that people call me, other than my real name:

  1. “JennaFart” …whenever my sister was mad at me growing up
  2. “Ruffhouse”…a high school friend, Corey aka “Brickhouse,” gave me this one during Powderpuff football
  3. “Junior”…I got this one as the young’un during my first college internship
  4. “Denny”…my nephew’s version of “Aunt Jenny”

Four jobs I have had:

  1. Plant-waterer (my first job – I was hired by my parents’ landscaper, who was impressed by my work ethic in the yard)
  2. Personal trainer
  3. Copywriter (I still freelance; hit me up!)
  4. Marketing & PR

Four movies I’ve watched more than once:

  1. The Wizard of Oz
  2. Home Alone
  3. Grease
  4. Legally Blonde

Four books I’d recommend:

  1. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  2. A Life Worth Living by Chrissie Wellington
  3. Start With Why by Simon Sinek
  4. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

Four places I have lived:

  1. Detroit
  2. Chicago
  3. Boston
  4. San Francisco

Four places I have been:

  1. Fiji
  2. Trinidad & Tobago
  3. Italy
  4. Costa Rica

Four places I’d rather be right now:

  1. Someplace, any place, with sun (have you lived through a Portland winter?!)
  2. Home in Michigan with my family
  3. Italy, eating and drinking up a storm
  4. San Francisco, grabbing workouts with my SweatGuru crew & November Project tribe

Four things I don’t eat:

  1. Oysters. Blech.
  2. Chicken McNuggets. Got food poisoning on them as a kid.
  3. Anchovies. Again, blech.
  4. Veal. On principle.

Four of my favorite foods:

  1. Chocolate
  2. Almost anything from the food carts in Portland
  3. BBQ
  4. A good cheeseburger

Four TV shows that I watch:

  1. Stalker
  2. Naked & Afraid
  3. Modern Family
  4. Game of Thrones

Four things I am looking forward to this year:

  1. The holidays with friends & family
  2. Getting to know Oregon even better
  3. Immersing myself in the fitness scene here in Portland
  4. Launching the LUNA Chix PDX Run Team for 2015!

Four things I’m always saying:

  1. “Wanna grab a workout?”
  2. “Why do I do this, again?” (pre-race jitters) & “I can’t wait to do this again!” (post-race euphoria)
  3. “Yes, I’d like to see the dessert menu, thank you.”
  4. “I just need 5 more minutes…” (when Hubby is trying to tear me away from my computer)

Four People I Tag:

  1. Erin
  2. Kecia
  3. Kristin
  4. Kristin

Now it’s your turn…

I want to hear your answers! Share something with me from the list above.

Recipe: Paleo(ish) Pumpkin Bread

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Blogger pal LiteraryLydi requested a pumpkin bread recipe after seeing my recent post with Paleo-friendly banana bread. Ask, and you shall receive!

Since I was home in October for the marathon, I decided to tweak our family-favorite pumpkin bread recipe. It’s not completely Paleo since I wanted to retain more of the taste and texture of the original recipe, but it’s a step in a healthier direction that still got rave reviews.

Paleo(ish) Pumpkin Bread

Ingredients: 

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 can pureed pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp clove
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 2/3 cup regular flour

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease or line a loaf pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, mix all wet ingredients together. Add sugar, and stir.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix all remaining dry ingredients together.
  4. Slowly incorporate dry mixture into wet mixture in large bowl.
  5. Pour batter into loaf pan. Bake for ~60 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center of loaf comes out clean.
  6. Remove from loaf pan and allow to cool before cutting.

Step one: Gather all your ingredients. As you can see, we were low on vegetable oil, so I just substituted coconut oil instead.

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Mix your wet and dry ingredients in separate bowls to make sure everything gets evenly combined.

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Don’t worry; the batter will be pretty thick. In fact, it had more of a cookie dough consistency at first, which is why I upped the original cup of pumpkin to the whole can.

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Because of the consistency of the batter, you may have to scoop (rather than pour) it into the pan. Smooth out the top with a spatula.

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Not sure if it’s done? First, the edges will brown. But make sure that toothpick comes out clean when you poke the center!

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Next time I’ll probably bake it a few more minutes because the center was just slightly under-done. But still delicious!

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What’s your family-favorite fall recipe?