StitchFix Shipment No. 6 Review

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My previous StitchFix (read about it here) netted me one new top. I ended up playing it safe with something I knew I’d wear consistently, so I’ve been eagerly anticipating a spring shipment in order to brighten up the ‘ole wardrobe.

For my sixth installment I requested some seasonal colors and a maxi dress for warmer weather. I also asked my stylist if she could track down one of my all-time favorite StitchFix tops: the 41Hawthorn Colibri Solid Tab Sleeve Blouse, which I love pairing with boyfriend jeans and ballet flats.

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

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First up was the Gilli Sebastian Maxi Dress ($74). While I usually try to steer clear of horizontal stripes, the nautical colors are one of my favorite combos for summer.

Initially, I wasn’t so sure about the waist, though; it hits somewhere between bust and waistline (neither an empire nor a true waist). But it was actually quite flattering when I tried it on, so into the ‘maybe’ pile it went.

Plus, the fabric’s super soft and comfy. Jersey FTW!

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Next was the 41Hawthorn Queensland Dolman Jersey Top ($48). Uh oh.

Any time I see the word “Dolman” (i.e. loose, baggy top with tight sleeves) I run for the hills because the style’s never worked for me. The color, however, is one of my favorites, so I figured I’d give it a shot.

Out of the box? Meh. But once on? Loved it! Not only was the jersey soft and stretchy, but the cut also worked better than I expected. Into the ‘maybe’ pile went this one, as well.

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Third was the 41Hawthorn Moni Geo Print & Camisole Blouse ($58). It’s the same style as a previous StitchFix top I bought, just with a different pattern and color scheme, so I knew it’d fit nicely.

The only questionable part was the sheerness fabric; I wasn’t sure if I’d love the look of the camisole peeking through, but then again it could be a light and breezy option for the warm summer months.

Liz (my stylist) also mentioned that I could wear it two ways — with jeans for a casual look or with white pants if I wanted to dress it up. I like having options, and I love those options to be no-brainers, so this one also went into the ‘maybe’ pile for later, too.

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Finally came the pieces I’d been waiting for: the 41 Hawthorn Colibri Solid Tab Sleeve Blouse ($48) in two colors (aqua and purple). As I mentioned above, I’d gotten one of these in deep pink in a previous Fix and loved it.

Why mess with a good thing? I was thrilled when Liz included not one, but two, of these in vibrant, gem-tone colors.

Dress ’em up or dress ’em down, these tops are versatile, chic and make for an effortless outfit. Less spandex, more real clothing — that’s my mantra for the season — and my two new blouses should help.

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So what made the cut? Drum roll…everything!

I’ve already worn the dress to a family dinner, the Dolman top to a weekend brunch and one of the blouses to drinks with girlfriends. Liz nailed it, and with all of these colorful basics to mix and match for summer, plus a 25 percent discount for ordering everything in the box, it was an easy decision this time around.

My next fix is scheduled for early August, and I requested some transitional pieces for late summer and early fall. Can’t wait to see what comes next, but in the meantime I’m looking forward to some consistently-warm weather, so I can pull the shorts and while pants out of storage to pair with my fun, new tops!

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 using my referral link, I’ll get a credit…so thanks in advance for fueling my next fix! 

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Race Report: Race for the Roses 10K

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You know when I said I was going to slow my roll this year when it came to signing up for a bunch of events? Well, when a rockstar social media pal has an entry to spare (thanks, Karen!) and you’ve got willing running buddies (mad props to Nicole and Ben!), it’s hard to resist registering for another race.

Oops.

In my defense, this almost turned into another 13.1 because my usual masochistic tendency inclination is toward the longest distance available (especially since I need miles while training for next month’s events), however this time good sense prevailed. Ben and I raced pretty hard last weekend, and despite post-race massage and chiropractor appointments, I still wasn’t feeling fully recovered.

The solution? Split the difference, and trick ourselves into training. So we signed up for the 10K and decided not only to run it for fun, but also to jog to and from the race for a total of nine casual Sunday morning miles.

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We arrived at the start just as the half marathoners were taking off, so we waited off to the side, stretching, as we watched them disappear into the distance. Then, with 11 minutes to spare, we lined up and waited for the corrals to fill around us.

Except they didn’t. Well, at least not in front of us.

In typical Oregonian fashion (and particularly at more casual races like this), the start was orderly and polite, and the race director had to encourage people to step up to the line. I always appreciate a courteous crowd, but it makes me smile and think back to other races where I’ve see elbows being used as weapons in order to jockey for position, even in small, local events.

The seven- and eight-minute mile areas were still pretty light, so we lined up towards the front but stayed on the side as the crowd slowly filtered in. By the time the gun went off, though, the area around us had filled in pretty well.

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As far as courses go, this was one of my favorites so far in Portland. Not only do you get two bridge crossings (Broadway and Steel), but the race directors have also designed it so you don’t get stuck with a loooong out and back on Front Ave.

If you’re not familiar with the area, it’s a super-flat, super-industrial stretch, which is slowly starting to fill in with residential buildings but can also be a mind-numbing straightaway during races (i.e. when I ran the Portland Marathon half in 2010). Instead, this course curved nicely through the Pearl District and into the Northwest so we only had to do Front Ave. once.

And aside from the final ascent to the Steel Bridge, I don’t remember there being any big hills. In fact, the race even touts the fact that it’s PR-friendly, so take note if you want a good spot to clinch that new record next year!

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Ben, Nicole and I agreed ahead of time that we were going to keep the pace conversational. I’d estimated we’d be in the nine-minute mile range, but aside from Nicole letting us know each time we completed a kilometer, none of us were watching the clock.

We stopped at the aid stations every two miles or so to grab water and electrolytes, but ended up skipping the final aid station because it was less than a mile from the finish. By that point, we also figured it’d be better to keep moving forward rather than get caught up with the crowd of half marathon walkers, 10K’ers and 5K’ers who were converging on the course.

Again, I have to give kudos to the race director, though, for dividing us up into lanes so as to prevent any major traffic jams during this last stretch. We were divided not only by distance, but also by runners/walkers, which alleviated the headache of having to bob and weave through the crowd too much in the final stretch.

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Before we knew it, we were crossing the Steel Bridge and had the finish line area in sight (the spire off to the right in the picture above). A few quick turns later, we rounded the last corner and gave one last push to cross together in 56:38 for an overall average pace of 9:06/mile.

After collecting roses and hand-made wooden finisher’s medals, we made our way into the Oregon Convention Center for the post-race party. And, boy, did we feel well taken care of (thanks to all the wonderful volunteers for their time and energy)!

Between Jamba Juice smoothies and a solid spread of food (bagels, coffee cake, cinnamon rolls, all kinds of fruit, mimosas and coffee), they were also offering free photos, massages, expo shopping and live music. I can’t recommend this race highly enough if you want a fun, low-pressure event to run with friends and family.

Rather than wait in line for the official shot, however, we opted to snap our own impromptu version of a finisher’s photo before jogging back home. It was a fantastic way to spend a Sunday morning, and especially rewarding to be able to share the experience with Nicole, who is one of my Team LUNA Chix Portland Run teammates, and Ben.

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If you’re interested in participating or volunteering in next year’s Race for the Roses, visit their website here for details.

And if you’re in the Portland area and want to grab a workout with Team LUNA Chix on Monday nights at 6:30 p.m., check our Facebook page for the latest location updates.

Hope to see you soon!

What’s your race schedule look like this season? 

The Case for Yoga Pants (+ prAna Discount Code!)

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Throughout my high school and college running days, “workout gear” meant — quite literally — anything hanging on by its last thread: extra-large cotton t-shirts, stretched-out tube socks and over-sized shorts with elastic waists, for example. You get picture.

But my attitude changed in 2002 when I bought my first “splurge” item — a Brooks long-sleeved tech shirt — at the Chicago Marathon expo. In a classic rookie move, I wore it for the first time to run 26.2 the next day…but miraculously it performed beautifully in all of its sweat-wicking, non-chafing glory.

That experience forever changed my view of workout gear: No longer were my tops and bottoms merely “something to sweat in;” they became part of my training arsenal — not only to keep me comfortable and to help me perform, but also (occasionally) to be a major motivating factor in getting my butt up and out the door for workouts.

Because, let’s face it, when we look good, we feel good. And when we feel good, we can take on the world. Or at least a 6 a.m. spin class.

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Case in point: When prAna and Fit Approach partnered up last month for the #TakeTheLeap challenge in which we were encouraged to #BringYogaBack for 30 days.

I knew it was going to take a lot more than old fashioned willpower to get myself on the mat throughout the month. Don’t get me wrong — I love yoga — it’s just a challenge being present and working quietly when your default is hard-charging, goal-oriented workouts.

But when prAna sweetened the deal by throwing in an outfit from their new Early Spring collection, I knew we were speaking the same language. If you build it, they will come; it you make it cute (and comfy), they will om.  

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First on my wish list was the Florence Capri in Neon Orange ($79). Because neon orange.

If the color’s not enough to get your heart pitter-pattering, the design will have you swooning. From the flattering wide waistband to the compression Chakara performance fabric to the smooth seams, these pants fit like a second skin — without being overly constrictive.

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And then there’s the Piper Top in Cool Green ($69). I stepped slightly out of my wheelhouse with this one; I’m not usually partial to blousy tops, but sometimes you just need a nice, relaxed drape to skim, rather than squeeze, your stomach.

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Another lovely detail is the drawcord hem; loosen it up for longer coverage, or cinch it up to shorten the length and for added security — aka if you’re not into baring that belly during inversions.

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But my favorite feature that made this pick a no-brainer? The straps!

They’re adjustable, and I’m not just talking about the bra-type sliders. Nope, these babies can be converted from traditional shoulder straps to an X-back for both support and style purposes.

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Mindfully designed. Built to last. And best of all? Available at a discount, just in time to brighten up your wardrobe for spring! Use KineticFix’s special code (psps15KF) at checkout for 15% off your entire order.

Happy shopping — and sweating, friends!

Happy Earth Day! 5 ways to “green” your exercise routine

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Most people equate Earth Day with reduction, whether it’s waste, electricity or water, but you can also celebrate the holiday by doing something positive – both for the planet and your health.

One idea? Escape the confines of your gym with an outdoor workout. Not only do jungle gyms and park benches double as fun ways for sneaking in strength training, but a recent study from the journal of Environmental Science and Technology also found that there are actual benefits to your mental and physical well-being by exercising outside.

Now that’s the gift that keeps on giving long after the holiday.

Below are four more ways to show your appreciation for Mother Nature while breaking a sweat today:

  • Use equipment that doesn’t require electricity. Try a manual treadmill, such as the TrimWalk, which requires no power (unless you count sheer willpower, of course). Simply set the pace and go, and when you’re finished, it folds and stores conveniently under a bed. If you’re up for a bigger challenge, try a bike generator, which allows athletes to translate their exertion into energy, in the form of a 12-Volt battery.
  • Practice eco-running. The mission? Simply lace up your running shoes, grab a garbage bag and jog around town, filling it with trash. Sure, in the grand scheme of things it’s a small step, but it’s more about raising awareness for personal responsibility and creating momentum for a more positive impact on the planet. Visit EcologyRunner for more information on this movement, a brainchild of Samuel Huber, who created it to merge his two passions.
  • Participate in a local Earth Day event. Get involved, and help rally your community to make a difference! Visit EarthDay.org to view a list of events happening around the world, including celebrations, beach clean-ups, conservation talks, conferences, festivals and more.
  • Get some eco-friendly fitness gear. Enhance your workout with equipment that works well and does some good. For example:
      • Amplify your ability to give back with LSTN Troubadors headphones. Not only are they made of reclaimed beech wood, ebony wood or cherry wood casing, but for every purchase, the company will also help restore hearing to a person in need through the Starkey Hearing Foundation.
      • Close the gap between your active lifestyle and others’ needs with the MiiR Growler water bottle. For each bottle purchased, one person in need is supplied with water for a year.
      • Finally, hydrate responsibly with Treeson spring water. For every bottle sold, a tree is planted — and each bottle comes with a mailing label so it can be returned via USPS to be put through a special process that turns it into clean energy used to make more bottles.

How are you honoring Earth Day this year? 

Avoid the Bunny-induced binge: 8 ideas for a healthier Easter

Source: Lynda Giddens, Flickr

Source: Lynda Giddens, Flickr

Spring has sprung, but it’s not just the longer days and slowly-warming temperatures that signal the change in seasons – it’s the aisles of Easter candy that have hopped into area stores.

While children have been waiting with bated breath for the Bunny to bring baskets filled with goodies, it’s a holiday that can fill adults with dread when they are in the midst of trying to lose (or maintain) weight.

But don’t despair – there’s still hope for taking part in all the fun without abandoning your current diet plan. Below are a few easy tips for those who are on the hunt for a healthier Easter this year:

1. Focus on non-food traditions

For those who practice the holiday, it’s about more than candy-filled Easter baskets, so create lasting memories with some new family customs that highlight the true meaning of the season.

2. Plan for holiday splurges

Deprivation is never good because you’ll inevitably set yourself up for failure later; rather, make smart choices earlier in the day if you know that you’ll be eating heavier at afternoon parties.

3. Practice portion control

It’s not only about what you eat, but how much; give bags of pre-portioned candy or shop the bulk food section of your local store to purchase only what you need for baskets.

4. Hands off the goods

Resist the temptation to crack open that bag of jelly beans before breakfast; stores stock candy early expressly for this purpose, counting on the fact that you’ll polish it off and be back for round tw0.

5. Don’t go into meals unprepared

Never sit down with an empty stomach because you are almost always guaranteed to overeat; instead, drink plenty of water and snack sensibly between meals to prevent spikes and dips in blood sugar levels (at just 76 calories, a hard-boiled egg is a great option).

6. Add some activity to your day

Easter egg hunts, parades or even strolling to church or around your neighborhood to look at decorations are also other healthy options for getting fresh air and helping to burn some calorie.

7. Rethink the Easter basket

Non-traditional gifts such as bubbles, books, Dollar Store items, crayons, gift cards, sidewalk chalk, clothing and more are unexpected and can be even more exciting for recipients.

8. Consider healthy meal substitutions

Tweak traditional recipes to lower their calorie, fat and sugar content; try substituting applesauce for oil, skim milk for cream, egg whites for eggs, and simply reduce the amount of sugar in baked goods without sacrificing sweetness.

Do you have any favorite healthy Easter tips to share?

Spring clean your workout routine

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Even if you’ve maintained a regular workout program throughout the winter, there’s a good chance you’ll hit a plateau at some point, so spring is an ideal time to switch up your workout routine.

Why? Much like your mind, your body becomes bored with predictability, so a change of exercise scenery may be all that’s needed to keep it from becoming acclimated — and unresponsive — to your efforts.

Here are a few ways I like to spruce up my workout regimen for spring:

– Shake up your schedule. Early bird? Take advantage of the extra hours of daylight to get active in the evening. If you’re a night owl, challenge yourself to get up an hour earlier to get your workout done before work.

– Try a change in venue. If the cold weather has had you cooped up all winter, take it outside. Or if you’ve been out battling the elements for the past few months, mix things up with a weekly group class for cross-training.

– Play with sequence. If you break workouts into specific combinations of body parts on different days (say, legs/back, arms/shoulders, chest/abs), pair them oppositely to force your body to adjust.

– Get some new gear. Nothing makes a workout more fun than trying out the latest and greatest exercise equipment. Case in point: I just got a new set of wheels, and I’m loving the new challenge of honing my skills on the bike.

– Develop a need for speed. Repeat after me: “Intervals are my friend!” Scrap your usual pace and add in walk breaks and sprints to trick your body into working harder.

– Tune-up your fuel. Re-evaluate your current dietary habits, and make a few incremental, measurable and attainable changes in what you consume, whether it’s adding in more fruits and veggies – or cutting down on junk food. And don’t forget to hydrate!

– Set the mood with music. Shop around on iTunes for new exercise mixes, sample a new music genre or allow personalized music sites, such as Pandora or Spotify, to suggest songs for you.

– Use the buddy system. Sometimes all it takes is a little company (i.e. my Monday SweatGuru runch dates) to kick it up a notch; picking up a partner can be a huge motivator in terms of support, friendly competition and accountability.

Try easing into a few changes at a time; do too much too soon, and you’ll risk getting injured. Always consult your doctor before beginning a new workout program, and use common sense – be sure to stop exercising if anything hurts.

How do you adjust your workout routine to stay fresh in a new season?

5 quick tips for taking your running to the trails

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One of my new running goals is to spend some time getting comfortable on the trails in 2014. Not only is the soil a more forgiving surface (much to the delight of knees and other joints), but the uneven terrain and occasional obstacles also make dashing through the woods a more exciting — and challenging — way to train both mind and body.

So if the thought of another day on the treadmill has you running for the hills, embrace it. You may have to slow your roll slightly in the beginning to master a different form and technique, but the benefits of trail running are well worth the effort.

How? Well, not only does it burn more calories than a run on your usual route, but it also does wonders for your balance, agility and coordination. Below are a few tips to help make your transition to the trails a breeze this spring.

1. Use correct footwear. Regular running shoes work for clear-cut paths, but for rocky routes, you’ll need special trail-running kicks, which provide better protection and traction over uneven terrain.

2. Ease into it. Acclimate leg muscles and ankle joints slowly by starting out on a flat path for short outings, increasing your time and distance by no more than 10 percent each week.

3. Adjust speed and stride. Take shorter steps and lift your feet higher to avoid pesky roots and rocks, and don’t be afraid to walk up steep hills or over tricky hurdles like streams or logs.

4. Keep an eye out. Your best bet to avoid getting tripped up by obstacles is to keep your gaze on the trail – about 10 feet ahead – to give yourself enough time to react.

5. Mind your manners. Follow the rules of the road, and stay to the right of the trail, avoiding a potential collision with oncoming traffic and allowing faster runners to pass on your left.

What’s on your list of running goals for the New Year?