May Foodie Pen Pals – What I Sent (Guest Post)

This month, I sent my May Foodie Pen Pals box to a blog reader, Renee. Since she doesn’t have a blog, I asked her if she’d be interested in guest posting for me on what I sent her, per Foodie Pen Pal Program originator Lindsay‘s suggestion. Thankfully, she agreed! Please enjoy this post about what I sent her way!

Hello everyone!! My name is Renee and I am so excited to be guest blogging on CaitPlusAte.

I am here to reveal the contents of my very first Foodie Pen Pal package.

I felt like a kid at Christmas waiting for the mail to come anticipating the arrival of this unknown package.

When it arrived I was so excited, since I didn’t get home until 10:00pm!

I opened the box very carefully, as not to harm the products inside.

This was my first peek!!

I was actually shocked at how much I had received. I loved the fact that there was more than just food!

I had told Cait I am trying to live a healthy lifestyle and she definitely helped contribute with the fantastic items in the box!

(This picture was actually taken the day after, so I have to tell you there is one item missing. A Think Thin snack bar. I ate it then remembered I had to take some photos. We will just pretend it is there.)

The only thing I have ever had in the box was the California Raisins; I love Raisins so I was very excited to receive them WITH a raisin cookbook!!!

I opened up the Fiber One 80 Calorie cereal and took a handful. SOLD!! So good. I could definitely see myself eating that with milk or mixed into yogurt.

Other items that I had to resist eating all at once were: Fiber One Brownie, Pure Protein Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar and Snapea Crisps (very interesting can’t wait to try that).

Love Grown Granola is AMAZING. As I read the label I noticed there are no strange additives. I don’t think I have ever had something that unprocessed aside from fresh fruit and vegetables. Super tasty, I’ll have to look for it in my area!

An Herbal Tea Blend from New York City. I love tea so much!!! I even have a fancy tea ball!!!

The leaves definitely give off a sweet aroma of Chocolate and Coconut.

Judy’s Best Garlic Butter contains dried herbs, spices and butter that you can mix with olive oil and toss with pasta and chicken, or pretty much whatever. Garlic pretty much runs through my veins so I’m VERY excited to try this.

Cait also included some cute pink straws that I definitely put to good use on one of the 80 Degree days we had this past weekend!

A SELF magazine with Bethany Frankle on the cover, I know her Skinny Girl products quite well.

An awesome Oakley water bottle that is flexible and foldable, you could definitely bring it ANYWHERE! All in all I was SUPER pleased and so excited about my Foodie Pen Pal gift, it has been so great to chat and follow Cait on her blog!


And thank YOU Renee for posting! Happy eating indeed 🙂 Have you ever tried any of the products I sent Renee? I know they may be familiar to some of you – some are from my adventures in NYC earlier this month!

May Foodie Pen Pals (The Best Ever)

Did you miss yesterday’s preview of my next big foodie event, Mohegan Sun BBQ Fest? Head here to check it out!

I am so excited to write about what I got from my Foodie Pen Pal this month…you’ll see why. But first, a quick explanation of what this is about – Lindsay‘s Foodie Pen Pals program is a great way to meet fellow bloggers and try new foodie treats, whether they are local or just something your grocery store doesn’t happen to carry. Don’t forget to go here to find out how you can join this amazing program. It’s completely worth the ~$25/month (food + shipping) that it costs to participate!

Previous Foodie Pen Pals posts:

No offense at ALL to the other foodie pen pals I’ve had…you’ve all been wonderful. However, I have to call May the BEST month of the Foodie Pen Pals program I’ve ever experienced. That’s because, ironically enough, no pen was required for me to receive my package. The pen pal assigned to mail me a box of foodie treats happened to live a few towns away! How often does a picture like the one below get to accompany a Foodie Pen Pal reveal?

Two foodies and their tea!

Yeah, that’s what I thought! When my pen pal Michelle emailed me to ask for my preferences, she mentioned she lived nearby. I immediately suggested we meet up in person, and was glad that she was into the idea too. We made plans to meet in West Hartford’s picturesque Blueback Square at The Green Teahouse, a special loose-leaf tea shop that I’ve visited a couple of times in the past.

Our loose leaf tea blend.

It’s pretty funny how alike Michelle and I are! We both showed up in workout gear and sunglasses, as you can see from our photo together. We both have a Whole Foods addiction, and love to work out. And best of all, we both are daily deal addicts! When she pulled out a Living Social deal to Green Teahouse as we walked into the shop, I could’ve kissed her. I have never found another Coupon Caitlin – finally, someone who wouldn’t be looking at me saying, “You have a Groupon for that?!”

Monkey’s Chocolate and Banana Split, a match made in iced tea heaven.

We also share similar taste in teas, because it was easy for us to quickly select a blend that the friendly employee promised would make the world implode. He was right! We ordered two iced tea blends of Monkey’s Chocolate and Banana Split, lightly sweetened with honey.

Check out those fantastic whole ingredients!

As part of my pen pal package, Michelle was a total sweetheart and contributed her Living Social deal to purchase our iced teas, as well as an ounce each of the blend for us to make at home. I’ve already made one attempt to re-create the tea (again, as an iced drink) on my won, and I definitely didn’t make it strong enough. Now I know for next time! I need a LOT of this yummy flavor.

Our friendly sales associate measures out our blends to take home.

The guy who helped us also shared that for groups of four to ten people, at $30/person, the Green Teahouse will do Chinese tea ceremonies! Sounds like such a fun girl’s day.

We took our iced teas outside because it was such a gorgeous day. I loved that Michelle could watch my reaction as I opened the package, which came in a Whole Foods bag and was tied with an adorable ribbon. I have since transferred the ribbon to my Reebok backpack!

I spotted something QUITE incredible with my first glance into the bag.

Yes, that’s Lilly Pulitzer! What I really loved about Michelle’s package for me was the fact that she really read my blog to help her determine what goodies I’d enjoy most. She just put so much effort into it! I was touched.

For example, Michelle could tell from my constant posting about Daybreak that I am a coffee-lover, so she selected a coffee thermos for me. And I think she could also tell that I’m a Lilly girl 😉 The borghum gum sea salt air popcorn sounds SO interesting to me! Michelle says it’s great and I can’t wait to dig in some evening when I need a snack for a movie night. I love salty, savory food!

The savory snack and coffee theme continued. How adorable are those printed notes?! What’s even MORE awesome is that Michelle designed them! She does printing and design on the side – another touching part of the package, and I also was in desperate need of new cards to use for future Foodie Pen Pal mailings. The non-GMO soy and mushroom jerky was right up my alley – healthy, unique, and savory. I’ve already had the hickory BBQ soy flavor and can’t wait to try the spicier mushroom one next – but will have to follow Michelle’s recommendation and have a glass of milk ready nearby.

I was so very excited to see the Z Bars in the package because I have seen them ALL over the blog world but have never picked any up because I tend to have a steady supply of bars at my house from samples, giveaways, and other Foodie Pen Pal months. The nutrition stats are quite impressive and I had the honey graham version before Step class one day, and had a GREAT class full of energy! Michelle studied in England for awhile and wanted to give me some international brands of food, so she chose low-calorie hot chocolate packets. I’m so excited to try them, especially the Caribbean coconut flavor – oh man.

Cue the angel chorus!

I got pretty damn excited when the last thing I pulled out of the bag was a Tupperware container. Michelle is just so cute and perky and I could totally see her being an excellent baker and cook. Yup, that was confirmed when I opened the container and caught a glance of the above: Michelle’s Kick A** Cookies with oats, flax seed, dried figs, walnuts, and both dark and white chocolate chips!

I think I’m in love!

I brought them to a grad party I attended later that day and had two myself. They didn’t last long among my friends! So hearty, satisfying, and yet also indulgent-tasting. Props, Michelle!

I’m so thankful to have been matched up with a Foodie Pen Pal in May who has ALSO become a “real life” friend! Michelle and I plan to hang out again…and, hint hint, I wouldn’t mind sampling some more baked goods!

And don’t forget to check out The Green Teahouse’s tea blog – an interesting read even for those who aren’t from CT!

Stay tuned – this afternoon I’ll be publishing a guest post by the reader I sent goodies to this month!

Have you ever visited a loose leaf tea café/shop?

Have you ever been matched up with a Foodie Pen Pal who you were able to meet with in person?

Have you ever tried any of the treats I received?

Start Summer at Mohegan Sun BBQ Fest!

My US-based readers know that Memorial Day Weekend has (unfortunately) come and gone…I’m sure that reality was made very clear when rolling out of bed this morning. I don’t know about you all, but putting on my big-girl pants and going to work after a three-day weekend is always hard, ESPECIALLY when I wake up to a hot summer day like I did today.

The appetizer fixings for a great BBQ!

With Memorial Day Weekend came many barbecues I’m sure, along with the fun family and friends that typically accompany them. You’ve got the summer party momentum going…do NOT let it stop this weekend! If you’re looking for another BBQ with family and friends, but don’t exactly feel up to putting on your grilling/cooking/cleaning/etc cap again so quickly, let Mohegan Sun do the work for you. This Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (June 1-3), the casino will be holding its first-ever Sun BBQ Fest!

Mohegan Sun is a city in its own right, and it’s a city that knows how to throw a party. Take it from me – I attended the Sun WineFest several months back and had an amazing time wining, dining, and watching master chef demos. However, the price tag on that main event and its surrounding “supplementary” events was, I have to admit, a bit steep for the everyday 20-30 year olds. That’s certainly not the case with the Sun BBQ Fest. Tickets are only $30 per day, and that INCLUDES eight food tickets! Oh, and did I mention this event is taking place outdoors in the casino’s Winter Parking Lot? Because a BBQ isn’t a BBQ if it’s held in a convention center (where the WineFest was held)…that’s for certain.

Obviously I’m going to start by talking about the food you can purchase with those eight food tickets. Both rib vendors and Mohegan Sun restaurant vendors will be dishing out tasty eats. I’m really excited to try a dish from Big Bubba’s BBQ, the casino’s barbecue-restaurant-in-residence, which I’ve yet to cross off my list of Mohegan Sun restaurants to dine at. New England readers may have dined there before, or at some of the other participating restaurants, like Michael Jordan’s 23 SportCafe, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, and Ben & Jerry’s (OK, I know for sure that even my non-New-England readers have eaten there before!

Half Baked froyo is def an essential part of any visit to Mohegan!

The BBQ Fest is also going to feature plenty of musical performances, chef demos, a mechanical bull, a rib-eating contest, and a FARMER’S MARKET! I’m going on Saturday with a fellow local food fanatic friend, Jeff, and I know we’re going to have an excellent time checking out what the market has to offer in terms of local products. I also know we’re NOT going to be riding the mechanical bull. To each his/her own…we prefer to sit back, watch, and eat! 😀

I’m really excited to see DJ Chef, a performer who combines two of my true loves, music and food. He spins records and cooks gourmet dishes at the same time! That is talent, my friends.

DJ Chef and one of Jeff’s least favorite people, Guy Fieri.

There’s even a fireworks display at 9:30PM on Saturday, but Jeff and I will be gone by then (I’ll be at home hanging with my just-arrived-to-CT best blend Heather…yay!) Still, our afternoon at Mohegan is sure to be fun and delicious, and I can’t wait to share it with you all via Twitter during the event, as well as here on the blog afterward.

Have you ever been to a Mohegan Sun Casino event, or any kind of BBQ-themed festival?

What is your favorite food to eat BBQ-style? That question goes for vegetarians/vegans as well! Tofu anyone?!

Take a look at the schedule of events for each day of the Sun BBQ Fest and tell me what part of the event calendar you’d want to check out the most! I’m honestly almost as excited for the farmer’s market as I am for the restaurant food!

Pure Food and Wine – NYC

And so my adventures from NYC on Wednesday, 5/9/12 continue! Don’t forget to check out my recaps of the Fitness Magazine Meet & Tweet and Tone It Up event at Oakley in Times Square as well!

I adore vegan and vegetarian restaurants (despite the fact that I am not either), but they are hard to come by in CT. The only one I have visited near me (It’s Only Natural) is delicious and I’ve been there several times, but I like to try new restaurants…you all know that! So I’m sure you aren’t shocked that I was beyond-words excited when Heather and I realized during the Fitness Magazine Meet & Tweet, while conversing with Danielle over lunch, that one of NYC’s premier raw cuisine restaurants, Pure Food & Wine, was not only right in that very city, but a few blocks from our parking garage!

Dinner on the patio!

Heather and I took this as SERIOUS destiny. We were starved for dinner after leaving the Tone It Up event in Times Square, so we hailed a cab (that took awhile) to lug our sweaty butts and swag to the restaurant, which had JUST re-opened for dinner (many raw food restaurants close between lunch and dinner because of the work involved in prepping the freshest of food for delivery to customers’ bellies). We started the meal with the patio all to ourselves, and a kind stranger outside offered to snap a photo of us posing in front of the restaurant with all our stuff, like nomads!

Bag lady blends!

I love my unique cocktails, so I was all over that menu, which featured a line-up of drinks made with specialty sakes. I love me a good sake cocktail! I selected the Himalayan Paradise: ginger, lemon, and goji-berry infused sake.

The cocktail was everything I hoped it’d be – and more, since its presentation blew me away. The flower floating in the drink fit perfectly with the peaceful vibe that had already settled over the meal – before we’d even ordered.

I savored every last drop throughout the meal and tried to make the drink last, but it went down very fast 😉

Speaking of which, does anyone else get annoyed when the food at a restaurant comes out TOO quickly? I know it doesn’t happen often, and perhaps since everything at the restaurant was raw it cut down on the time to prepare our meals, but our dinner came out literally about ten minutes after we ordered. I like to take my time with my drink and sip it solo, apart from the food, for a bit before I start pairing it with my plate. I suppose I also value the restaurant experience so much that I want it to last as long as possible, and the sooner the food comes out, the closer the visit is to being over. The fact that dinner was served so quickly wasn’t really a big deal at all though in the scheme of things, and Heather and I settled in to feast.

But I’m getting ahead of myself! We had a tough time deciding – I so wish I had enough money and a big enough stomach to order EVERYTHING – but the combination of our helpful waitress and recommendations we’d received earlier in the day from Danielle helped us decide…eventually.

Heather chose the Hen of the Woods Tacos el Pastor: smoked guac, hearts of palm, chayote squash, guajillo crema fresca, and pickled onions. She looooves da guac, so this was a choice that was right up her alley. And just look at how beautiful it is! However, it tasted BETTER than it looked. So unique and flavorful. We both took our time with this food, because we didn’t and still don’t know when we’ll have a chance to eat a meal like this again!

Getting every last bit of sauce!

I ordered the Sweet Corn & Cashew Tamales with Chili-Spiced Portabella, which came with salsa verde, cashew coconut sour cream, avocado, and raw cacao mole! Another gorgeous presentation (that incorporated a flower) from the staff of Pure Food & Wine.

I had the idea of asking Heather to capture my face at first-bite.

At peace with my meal!

Yup – one of the best meals of my life. I was speechless! And it’s NOT because my mouth was stuffed…I was taking this slow. I didn’t want it to end!

But alas, it did! Heather the avocado-lover helped me with that portion, but I dominated the rest, and all that was left was that sad-looking empty tamale. Thanks to Danielle for mentioning this dish to me!

I wasn’t sure if I had any room for dessert after dominating my main plate, but Heather helped me realize that I definitely needed to live in the NYC-moment, because I don’t visit the city or restaurants like this every day! So, we ordered something VERY special.

It was the last day the seasonal pumpkin cheesecake would be on the menu, so that made our decision a bit easier. This dessert induced plenty of inappropriate-sounding moans and groans from both of us! There actually was NO pumpkin in it. Instead, the “body” of the cheesecake was composed of a squash and carrot puree. The crust was almond meal and the ice cream was of the cashew variety…I got my fill of cashew “dairy” at this meal and loved every bite! I wish I could remember specifically what the syrup, icing, and crispy cookie were made of, but let’s just say it was something akin to puppies and rainbows and all kinds of other wonderful things.

No. Shame.

I gave Heather the last bite. In exchange, she let me lick the plate. That’s what foodie friends are for!

Sad that it’s the last bite!

We were so, so very sad when the meal came to an end, but our bellies, bodies, and hearts were certainly pleased.

Love the way the check was “served”!

Since it was such a bloggy day, we left our business cards with the check!

Courtesy of Matty!

Thank you to Pure Food & Wine for providing an unforgettable experience to Heather and I! The restaurant surpassed our expectations and I only hope we can dine there again some day.

Have you ever been to a raw food restaurant?

Have you ever encountered a meal that you can truly say is one of the best you’ve EVER had?

If you’ve ever been to NYC, what’s your favorite restaurant you’ve been to there?

Tone It Up in Times Square!

Huge thanks to fellow Fitfluential Ambassador Carissa for featuring me on her and her husband’s blog, Fit2Flex, as part of their “5 Questions With…” series! Check out my answer to her five questions here!

Thank you for all the positive feedback you guys have been leaving on my recap posts about the big events I attended two weeks ago. I can’t believe it’s already been that long! In case you missed anything:

In the Meet & Tweet recap, I mentioned that after our time at Fitness Magazine HQ, Heather, Bess, and I trekked ourselves and our swag (commence viewing of silly vlog by Heather here) through the streets of NYC to the Oakley Store in Times Square for an event that meant a lot to my two blends – the Self Magazine Tone It Up Meet-Up!

The event didn’t disappoint! We arrived early enough (among the first 50 guests) to be gifted with more swag. And how appropriate for the event to be held in the Oakley Store, after we’d just received a pair of their fabulous new active wear sunglasses!

In our gift bags we found a $10 Oakley gift card, a copy of SELF, an Oakley towel and reusable water bottle, TIU’s Perfect Fit Protein Powder (not a user of powders so I gave mine to Heather), and best of all, a copy of their much-raved about Beach Babe DVD! Heather, Bess, and the rest of the TIU ladies I’ve met through blogging just LOVE these quick and efficient workouts. I’ve already tried HIIT the Beach, Long & Lean, and the abs segment. I really like how I can just pick segments and put them together based on what I’m feeling each day. I’m taking this DVD with me on a trip this coming weekend for potential hotel room workouts…and will also be using it this fall, once my night classes start back up, to get in quick morning sweats that will replace my usual evening gym trips!

Waiting in line!

Heather shows off her DVD – I love this pic!

Mattie joined us soon after we arrived. We got many questions from fellow line members about the eons of stuff we were dragging along with us. We’d (practically) sing out in chorus “We’re bloggers!” in response

So much stuff. The Vera flower gym bag was already mine! Haha

Our electronics were dying slow painful deaths, and Mattie had the brilliant idea to bust out her Mac and turn it into a portable iPhone charging station. Desperate times, desperate bloggers.

The event progressed very smoothly and in what seemed like not much time at all, we were at the front of the line and just moments from meeting Karena (in love with that spelling of that name, by the way) and Katrina.

Heather met the girls first, which seemed appropriate to me given the fact that they and their program have played such a huge part in her life, both personally and blog-related. Seeing her meet them was so much fun for me because I could tell just how much the chance meant to her! Sappy moment, but I just love seeing people happy.

The TIU trainers seemed to be all about the hugs!

Cannot help but notice some similarity in arm tone-age there! Go Heather!

Karena and Katrina even featured Heather and a recipe she made with the Perfect Fit Protein Powder on the TIU Facebook page after the event!

Next up it was time for Bess to meet the trainers! Bess is also a huge part of the Tone It Up team.

Dying over the outfits!

Mattie got some q-time in with the girls as well!

Three lovely ladies!

Then it was my turn! I have to say I was in awe of these two women. They are so, so beautiful and really radiated warmth and what I can only call a sort of “light”. And no, it wasn’t the camera flashes going off!

How much do you love the pink carpet?!

I felt totally comfortable giving both Karena and Katrina each a big hug and telling them how excited I was to finally try their Beach Babe DVD after I’d heard so much about it from Heather and Bess. They seemed genuinely touched and happy to hear it! Also, they signed my DVD…so now my copy is extra special 😀

Such a fun event to attend…I felt so swept up in the atmosphere of the city and the opportunities that I felt were awaiting me around every corner. I didn’t want the day to end. And luckily, it wasn’t going to!

Next up on the agenda for Heather and I was a meal of a lifetime at Pure Food & Wine, which as fate would have it, was right next to where our car was parked. So, she and I hopped in a taxi (no more swag-lugging for these girls), and set off for some clean eats…to be continued!

Have you ever heard of Tone It Up and/or tried any of their workouts or recipes?

Have you ever met a “celebrity” of the fitness world in person? What was it like?

Reebok: Fitfluential Fashion

If you didn’t get a chance to see my recap of my day at Reebok World Headquarters with FitFluential, you can check it out here!

I’m a sucker for all things fashion-related, even when it comes to working out. Nothing gets me going at the gym like a cute new workout top or some sweet yoga pants. I swear, my performance in a group fitness class is improved when I wear a piece for the first time. It’s for that reason that I save the first-time wear of any workout gear for a day when I plan to take a group fitness class. Yes, I know it’s all mental, but I accept it and just let myself get that extra push from feeling extra-fly.

What do we have here?!

So you can imagine how enthusiastic I was after hearing that in addition to attending #RBKFITBLOG at Reebok HQ, we Fitfluential Ambassadors would be receiving Reebok gear to try, test, and tweet 😉 That became reality when the above box showed up on my driveway (no, not doorstep, Mr. Delivery Man apparently puts packages on driveways now!)

I adore pink workout gear. Call me Gym Barbie, I don’t care. I’ll take it as a compliment. I was so happy to receive the above Reebok backpack in PINK! I was also squealing with delight over the keychain. After the Reebok event, during which I toted my backpack-adorned-with-keychain with pride, I wasted no time transferring the tiny sneaker to my car keys. I don’t use the backpack everyday, but I do use those keys, and I want to be looking at that sneaker allllll the time.

It even came with tissue paper in it like a full-size shoe. Adorable.

I opened up the backpack and, cheesy as it sounds, couldn’t believe my eyes.

I should stop here and add that upon unpacking my loot and trying on the clothing, I discovered that some of it was too big. After mentioning this to Danielle Liss, who forwarded my request for new sizes to Reebok, I received a package with replacement sizes just a few days later. Now that is service! So kind of Reebok to replace the clothing with sizes that would fit me better – that way, I was able to give their clothes the most accurate test-drives possible. I simply brought my larger sizes with me to HQ the day of the event and handed them off to Johnice Graham of the Women’s Marketing Team – along with a huge THANK YOU!

Not just for carrying workout gear! Used my backpack to carry fashion magazines, my camera, snacks, and water to the beach on Saturday.

The gear below all fit, though! I love the Reebok CrossFit Racebrack Bra with removable inserts (I kept mine in). It’s really comfy and has taken me through a couple workouts by now. It doesn’t ride up either. The socks fit really well too and the material feels really high quality. They don’t ride down and bunch under my heel like workout ankle socks often do.

Really like the CrossFit tank with built-in sports bra as well. My girls aren’t in need of too much support, and any girl with a C cup or bigger would probably need a sports bra along with the one attached to the top, but for me the bra included did a good job supporting me through a Tone It Up Beach Babe DVD workout with Heather, which we completed the morning after our day at Reebok.

Also enjoyed planking in it while tweeting some #PROOF at the gym last weekend, after a spin class.

You may have noticed me wearing the Reebok Crossfit headband that I received at the event in the picture of my TIU outfit as well. I considered the TIU HIIT the Beach cardio segment of the Beach Babe DVD to be the ultimate test because of the plyometrics involved. I had high hopes that the band wouldn’t come off due to the gel lining on its interior.

Unfortunately almost halfway through the workout, my band slipped off my head. Heather’s made it through the HIIT workout as well as the ab and stretch segments, though it was close to the “edge” by the end there. After taking it through a test drive during spin back home though, I found that it did not give me any trouble, since spin doesn’t involve jumping around. I plan to definitely rock this headband during my non-Step or HIIT workouts, but just like all other workout headbands I’ve tried, it cannot survive one of my dance or plyo-based group fitness classes!

Band still in place after spin class! Ugh gross look.

I even threw on a cardigan after doing the TIU workout with Heather, though I know it didn’t match the workout gear at ALL, and wore it her favorite local cafe, Wildflour (more to come on that later), to do some blogging, coffee drinking, and scone consuming. I was quite comfy! And Heather was quite fashionable.

Heather and I decided to go all matchy-matchy for the visit to Reebok HQ (are you at all surprised?) and wear our Reebok Essential Short Sleeve Tees and Crossfit capris. I liked the pink and green color combo.

The tee is not something I would usually wear to the gym. If I wear a tee, I prefer either a fun, more laid-back style – literally a very plain t-shirt shape, not the slightly fitted shape of the below tee – or a very form-fitted top. This style was a bit too in-between for me. However, I can’t say it wasn’t comfortable – the fabric was soft and handled a of day sweat from two workouts and trekking around HQ very well. The slightly-fitted style is also one that I know many women do enjoy (for example, my mom prefers it), so I don’t doubt that it has appeal.

Being a goof at the gym in the pink tee.

The capris were pretty comfortable, though like the headband, they did not hold up (literally) during an HIIT workout. I don’t think that was the fault of the pants’ quality though, I think it was the fault of the fit. Most bloggers wearing them during the event were having no trouble, but I just felt like I had to readjust the waist several times during each cardio-workout-centric portion of our day. Yet again, I wore the capris to a spin class AKA not much jumping around, and they felt much better! I’m wearing them in the photo below.

We topped off the outfits (literally) with the Reebok Sport Essential Jacket. Like the tee, I wish the jacket had been more fitted. I prefer my zip-up hoodies to be very form-fitting and my non zip-ups to be very loose. Loved the soft built-for-sweat material though, and the color! Especially the bright yellow lining inside the pockets –  see it peeking out a little? Bright accents like that make me smile 🙂

After the Crossfit class we did with Reebok’s head coaches, we bloggers were pleasantly surprised to find Reebok drawstring bags waiting for us at the tables that had been set up for our lunch and focus groups. MORE workout gear?! We couldn’t believe it! Heather and I felt like the luckiest girls in the world.

Wore these to my favorite high-intensity Step class.

The above shorts were my first foray into the world of workout bottoms with built-in underwear-like liners. I wasn’t sure if these liners are meant to be a sub for undies or not, so I still wore them (TMI?) underneath the shorts. However, having two “underwear” layers didn’t bother me at all and the shorts didn’t inch their way up over my hips like I’ve found happens with cheaper brands (I like to wear my workout shorts resting around my hips, not up around my waist). I really love them!

I also received the above outfit in my drawstring bag. I once again used my gym’s high-intensity Step class to test out a portion of this gear – the Skinny Capris. It’s hard to tell on the website and in the above photo, but the blue on bottom is actually a mesh material that adds a really cute, feminine flair. The top portion also goes over the hips and hugs the stomach at a perfect level of tightness, which I believe is why they named the capris the way they did – they are meant to have a slimming affect through the stomach and hips. I just liked the design because they didn’t fall down at all and stayed in place quite perfectly despite the fact that during the Step class, I was bouncing and kicking all over the place. I haven’t gotten a chance to wear the blue top to a workout yet but it’s the same pink and yellow one Ilyse Baker wore in my cardio dance pics in my recap post, just a different color.

These are the shorts I received.

If you read the recap or followed my tweets the day-of the #RBKFITBLOG event itself (shame on you if you didn’t :-P) you may remember hearing that I won a $100 gift card to the Reebok HQ Store during the event’s closing – and everything was already 50% off for us that day. I went a little crazy as a result! I got myself the above tank top in two colors. I haven’t worn the pink version yet, but I did wear the other color (see below) to spin and weight-lifting on Sunday.

I spy a Reebok shopping bag!

So comfortable! The siding is mesh and made the top VERY breathable during a sweaty cardio workout.

I know what you’re thinking. This post is about Reebok. WHERE ARE THE SHOES?!

In the package shipped to my home I received the above reusable Crossfit water bottle and RealFlex Transition sneakers. They fit perfectly and I wore them all day to the Fitness Magazine Meet & Tweet. Even for my first time wearing them, they were so flexible, breathable, and comfortable for a full day on my feet. I also wore them during both the Crossfit and cardio dance workouts at Reebok HQ, and am pleased to say that they performed as promised.

The RealFlex Transitions are really ideal for an all-around fitness girl like me who likes to constantly switch it up. I may run once in a blue moon, but mostly I’m spinning, lifting, and taking cardio classes. I’ll also do the standard StairMaster fare – you just never know. In fact I often don’t know what I’m doing workout-wise until the afternoon of, so it’s great to have one sneaker I can pack and know it will function for whatever I choose to do once I get to the gym.

We also received a pair of the RealFlex Transitions in hot pink at the Meet & Tweet. Yayy Gym Barbie! The sock liner in these sneakers is made of poly-urethane (PU for short – ha, a pun that Reebok’s merchandising team did not even realize existed!) to cut down on stench. This design (not necessarily color) is Reebok Women’s key shoe, and its most popular.

Creepin’ on Heather in her hot pink RealFlex.

It provides neutral support for those with normal to high arch feet. Of course I’ve already worn mine to Group Step (see below, taken pre-class). If you’re more of a runner, you can still take advantage of RealFlex technology and go with the Optimal design.

Finally, we have the ZigNano Fly II sneakers, which utilize Reebok’s Zig Technology. I gave you guys a sneak peek of these during my recap. This is Reebok’s running platform. The wave design is meant to propel a runner forward and toe-off as fast as possible. This is also a great shoe for the versatile woman, but is specifically a better choice for runners than the RealFlex. As I recapped on Sunday, even if you’ll be training for any race, no matter the distance, you should really be wearing a runner shoe. This is advice straight from the mouths of Reebok team members!


I’ve worked out in these shoes twice, during the previously mentioned TIU workout with Heather and last night during that go-to Step class. So far each time I’ve put them on, I’ve literally breathed a pleased sigh as it felt like a cloud was encasing my foot. I can tell they’re built to keep the foot safe from jarring, whether from the pavement or plyometrics. I was doing the latter in class last night, and felt well-supported in the foot and, most importantly, in my ankles.

Before class began.

Whew…there you have it! Everything you needed to (and wanted to, I hope :-D) know about Reebok Women sneakers and workout gear. Be sure to check out the online store and please contact me if you have any questions! If I don’t have the answers, I can certainly try to get in touch with the appropriate parties at Reebok, or other FitFluential Ambassadors, to find them for you!

And to cap off this round-up with a little fun FYI – the blue Reebok jacket I coveted at the Fitness Magazine Meet & Tweet, worn by one of the Fitness Magazine fashion session models, is ON SALE on right now. To buy or not to buy…

Have you ever found a workout headband that will stay put during a dance or plyo cardio workout?

Anyone know if workout shorts with built-in underwear are actually meant to be worn without “real” underwear?

Which of the three sneakers I received would you want to wear most from a fashion standpoint? How about functional?

Same question as above – except with the clothes!

Where’s your favorite place to get workout gear, be it a brand or just a store that sells all different kinds? Gotta admit I’m in love with TJMaxx or Marshall’s to find affordable and cute sports clothes!

A Day at Reebok World HQ!

Oh my goodness. WHERE HAVE I BEEN?! I’m sorry that I haven’t been blogging…work has been crazy this week and in my down time I have been spending time with friends (old and new) and family, wine tasting, restaurant-ing, and working out. I’ve been doing the things I love when I’m not at work! Don’t get me wrong, I love blogging, but I get LOTS of computer time at my desk job. Being PC free is the way-to-be (ha) sometimes.

The kind hand-written note Reebok sent me before the event, along with an agenda of the day and some fashionable goodies!

But now I’m here and finally ready to tell you about the #RBKFITBLOG event I attended at the Reebok World Headquarters! The brand invited FitFluential Ambassadors to come learn about how current products are made, what new products are coming out, and even how the shoes hold up in a workout (yup, we got shoes, and yup, we got to workout with Reebok trainers!)

Random workout challenges were spread all about the campus, including on a row of 10 pillars – #9 was my favorite! You can probably see why!

I headed to Heather’s house in MA the night before the event so that the next morning we could wake up and drive there together. It was so convenient and I loved being able to visit her house for the first time! She and I arrived (albeit a bit late…oops!) at Reebok World HQ in Canton, MA and were greeted by the fantastic intern we spent the day with, Kathryn Lewis, a Crossfit junkie and an extremely hard worker. We were led upstairs to a VERY impressive meeting room that we came back to throughout the day. I was aching for some caffeine and I got it…the coffee was amazing and the breakfast spread looked great!

Our meeting room was set up with Crossfit boxes for chairs – so cool! Each seat also came ready with a notebook and pen to write down all we’d be learning throughout the day, and a Reebok Crossfit headband (I plan to do an entirely separate post on all the Reebok fashion related parts of the day so stay tuned for my thoughts on this and more!)

My Crossfit box seat, headband, writing utensils, caffeine, water, wireless info…basically, all set!

Can you spy any of your favorite bloggers in my photos? Just like at the Fitness Magazine Meet & Tweet, I was given the chance to hang out with some of the women who inspire me and have been doing so for years! I saw Julie, Courtney, Tina, Anne, Maria, Bex, Nicole, Cat, and Sarah again.

But I also got to meet some lovely ladies that hadn’t been in NYC the previous Wednesday – Sarah of Skinny Runner and Ashley of Healthy Ashley! I was a bit of a nerd when introducing myself to Ashley, gotta admit it. She is just so strong and has overcome so much…and I’m a big sap (thanks, Heather ;-)) and adore her love story. Sarah is just as funny in real life as she is on her blog and was really cool! She has the same laptop as me and, like me, hers often can be found to have a ton of food in the keyboard. Sorry, technology.

Our nametags – we got to write why we loved fitness and blogging!

Johnice Graham, Reebok marketing manager (I mentioned her in my Fitness Mag recap because she was at that event too), kicked things off welcoming us, thanking us for coming, and giving a great overview of the brand’s history and how it came to be where it is today. Reebok started out being VERY big with Step aerobics, which is currently my favorite form of exercise! My mom used to teach Step and she still remembers loving all the Reebok clothes and wearing their trademark white sneakers while she taught. Now, Reebok is focused on a broader category – FITNESS. I love that idea! It’s smart of them to keep it broad because really, anything can be fitness. Different activities are fitness to different kinds of people. Everyone has a form of fitness they enjoy or can find and enjoy.

My blogger brain is a sponge! Ready to learn!

Then we got to watch some videos that got us REALLY pumped up and ready to go try Crossfit. We learned about Reebok’s involvement with Crossfit specifically, and saw several montages and commercials that communicated a clear brand image. I felt so truly inspired! From a marketing POV, I really respect the creative minds behind those pieces that we viewed.

Next, off to Reebok’s Crossfit box. Yes, they have one on campus! I am actually completely envious of all the fitness options the HQ has for its employees. Classes are going on ALL the time. Heaven for a group fitness junkie like myself! The gym is also gorgeous.

Off to the box!

You may be wondering where we all got the fabulous workout gear we’re wearing in our pictures! And how we all got the same clothes! Well as I mentioned before, I’ll be going more into the fashion-aspect of this in my next post. After all, I love fashion, and thought that everything I wore before, during, and after this event DEFINITELY deserved its own post.

That’s Kathryn (the great intern) on the left!

I was nervous to try Crossfit at first, but the Reebok top Crossfit coaches Austin Malleolo and Caleb Diebolt did an excellent job easing us into the WOD (Workout of the Day) with demos and chances to practice two of the workout’s three portions – kettlebell swings and pull-ups with bands.

It quickly became apparent to me that anyone can do Crossfit because there many modifications available to make each WOD accessible to anyone. For example, bands of varying thickness could be looped around the pull-up bar and then around our feet to assist us. Check out this video from Kelly Olexa to see what I mean – Heather and I are in there doing our pull-ups!

The ladies circle around Caleb…we didn’t need much convincing!

 The kettlebell swings were also easy to modify because of the different weight levels available to use. Caleb demonstrated the proper form to us, but only after we had all practiced some squats first. Owww.

Listening to Austin’s instructions.

Aside from the swings and pull-ups, our WOD (a partner work-out) started with a 200 meter sprint. Heather and I became partners and formed our team Cait Plus Kale – what do you think?! 😀

We did three rounds of sprinting, swinging, and pull-up-ing.

I liked the cardio and strength interval aspect of Crossfit, as well as the varying kinds of moves. I like a workout that switches it up and gets a lot done in a short period of time!

I was pretty satisfied with Cait Plus Kale’s performance, especially for first-time Crossfitters!

Reebok did a great job making sure we were well-trained and well-versed in the Crossfit ways. I learned a lot and would totally do it again!

Badass by the box.

Wait…can we just look at this close-up?

Oh yeah. I went there. Apologies to Julie, Sarah, and Heather.

And this photo (and video) are obviously my favorites of the day:

Caleb Diebolt Fan Club

We walked back to our central meeting place, where snacks awaited us so we could re-fuel.

I had a banana, and felt another caffeine craving. Kathryn kindly offered to grab me some coffee, but I had no idea she’d have to go down to the basement, where Reebok’s Starbucks is located, to get it for me. I was blown away! Reebok seriously treated us like queens the entire day and I am so thankful. I was certainly not expecting that!

Thank you Kathryn! The coffee was amazing!

And things only got better – on each of our seats was a bag of more Reebok goodies! I couldn’t believe it – I’ll go more into detail about what I received when I do my fashion-related post, but here’s a sneak peek!

Reebok ZigNano Fly II sneakers!

Nicole and I rockin’ the goody bags!

If you were watching my Twitter during this next part, you may have seen my live-tweeting everything we were learning from Kate Young, the US Women’s Merchandising Manager, about Reebok sneakers.

  • Reebok’s Crossfit shoes were the first built purely for function – the colors and styling came later.
  • U-Form technology is pretty amazing – any shoe possessing these capabilities has a U-Form logo. Just hold a hair dryer to it for 20 minutes (you can prop up the hair dryer and let it run), and when the logo shows up on the tongue, that means the shoe is ready for molding. Just put it on and it will mold to your foot for fit-perfection!
  • The last of a shoe is its mold, and every shoe has one. This includes characteristics like width and toe spring.
  • The Oly is Reebok’s Olympic lifting shoe. Just holding one of these was an experience – the heaviest sneaker I’ve ever held! Certainly not meant for running. It’s designed to encourage keeping weight in the heels.
  • Sneaker liners can be molded or di-cut (flat).
  • The drop of a sneaker is very important. It’s the difference in height between the heel and the forefoot. A zero drop would be a barefoot shoe. A flatter drop is the best for strength training, because a lifter wants his or her feet planted firmly on the ground. That’s why you may often see people lifting weights in barefoot shoes!
  • Overlay is anything stitched on top of the mesh of a sneaker.
  • For any race you train for, even a 5K, you should go for a running shoe. That’s because since you’ll be doing training runs, you’re more likely to be running more often, even if for shorter distances.
  • To determine your foot type, try either looking at your sneakers to see where the most wear is, or try getting your feet wet and walking on some newspapers or a brown paper bag. The majority of folks are in the “normal” space.

For more about the sneakers I received, stay-tuned for that fashion post!


Then it was lunch time, and the lunch was seriously amazing. While we ate, we participated in a focus group, which had me totally nerding out. To be the subject of interest for a company like Reebok was, and still is, surreal! This was the point when we got to see stuff that isn’t even out yet – even up to a year out in terms of launch timing! All I can say is, keep your eyes peeled, because starting in July you’re gonna be seeing some great things from Reebok.

I made myself a spinach salad beast with steak and chicken, accompanied by a veggie wrap, whose innards were promptly emptied on top of my salad.

After lunch and the focus group we went downstairs to Reebok’s labs to learn about the path of the sneaker from idea to shoe. Bill McInnis, head of innovation, used to work for NASA! I was amazed by the room we were in when we listened to his presentation. The shelves were full of medical textbooks and models of the foot, ankle, etc. Whenever I look at shoes I see fashion and function, but it never truly hit me until that moment how much science goes into the functional portion of a sneaker.

Reebok’s sneakers are tested for 200 to 300 miles before they are released. Gotta know how they’ll hold up in the long term! Bill passed around a model of a human foot to show us how complex it really is – the foot has just as many bones as the hand, about 26, yet most people probably think of the hands as being more complicated because they do so many nimble things like play the piano, type, etc.

Goofing off with a foot, because that’s what I do.

Then we headed to check out the CAD technology behind designing each shoe. We use CAD where I work, so it was cool to see it applied to sneakers!

Next we donned safety goggles and headed to the lab where the design on the screen you see above becomes reality – or at least some form of it!

Eek! Watch the eyes!

Many a geeky goggle photo was taken.

A good luck for me and Julie, yes?

Reebok actually took on the challenge of creating a sneaker for Igor Vovkovinskiy, the tallest man in America – he’s 7 feet, 8 inches!

Paul Bates, head of the CAD department, showing us the machine used to make Igor’s shoe.

The computer we saw previously sends a design to the above machine, which then gets to work actually making it, using 100% recyclable plastic. It used to be a highly inefficient process – before the “digital age”, a design would be faxed overseas, where it would be interpreted visually by a human and made into a mold. That would be sent back and, usually, several rounds of back-and-forth corrections would have to be made due to misinterpretations. Now we have computers that know exactly what to send and machines that know exactly how to read it!

All of these were spit out by the machines you’re seeing here, after the CAD technology sent the design their way.

Another type of machine, but this one does the same thing.

The Reebok employee below works with this technology on a daily basis and even used it to make a scary-accurate rendition of…himself!

Which one is human?! 😉

He also made us some cool little gadgets to take home – reminded me of a Rubix cube, only nothing to solve, just plenty to play with!


Last but not least, it was time for my most anticipated part of the day…a cardio dance workout with the creator of Dancinerate and Reebok Global Ambassador, Ilyse Baker!

Ilyse gives us her background and gets us pumped to dance.

Ilyse was gorgeous, so skilled, and a fantastic teacher. Plus, she’s from California. I see so much of what I would like to be in her! She views fitness as a community and loves how social media plays so well into that. Sounds just like what Reebok thinks of fitness as – and me too!

Each combo was broken down for us and easy to catch on to. I was VERY into this class. I think I was a little too into it – people seemed a bit shocked! I just tend to get lost in anything dance-related 🙂

To viewt a lot more of our dancing, check out Sarah’s video recap of our day. It’ll make you feel like you were there and give you a better idea of the kind of dance we did!


Thanks to Ilyse for coming all the way from LA to teach us bloggers how to break it down!

Sweat = smiles!

Sadly, our day at Reebok was coming to a close. It ended with some special Paleo cookies though, which is always good. They were so hearty and full of nutrients!

The lovely cookies, and other snacks too!

Johnice gave some closing remarks, thanked us for coming (um…thank YOU!!!) and drew two names out of a shoe (how appropriate!) to win a $100 Reebok gift card to the HQ’s store, which was already 50% off for us that day.

And guess who won the second gift card??

YAY!! What a perfect ending to a perfect day. I used the card to get myself a couple of tanks (will review in my Reebok fashion round-up), and I purchased presents for my family and Heather as well. I got my sister the top Ilyse was wearing during our dance class!

Oh my gosh. What a day. Was that recap long enough for you? It would have been longer if I had started babbling about the clothes and shoes! Don’t worry…that’s coming next!

Thank you Reebok for hosting this #RBKFITBLOG blogger event, treating us so well, and showing us such a fun time. I am so grateful to have been included with all the amazing women who were also invited!

Would you have wanted to try Crossfit or a cardio dance workout? Do you already do either or both?

Which of the facts about Reebok that I shared here do you find most intriguing? What did you learn?

Did you spot any of your favorite bloggers in my photos?

Fitness Magazine Meet and Tweet

What a whirlwind the last several days have been! Thanks again for being so patient with me while I have been busy living life to the fullest 🙂 now it’s time to share my experiences with you all! Or at least, one of them!

Starbucks bold with a splash of steamed skim and cinnamon powder. Kthxbye.

On Wednesday, my best blend Heather and I stopped at Starbucks for caffeine (she let me try a sip of her black Blonde Roast – didn’t think I’d like the lighter brew, but surprise, it was PERFECT black!) and hit the road for the NYC Fitness Magazine Blogger Meet & Tweet!

Heather decided to be completely normal and make her choc protein pudding oats in the car 😉

This is a normal blogger thing to do!

The last hour of the ride was a bit of a nightmare since a) we had to pee and b) my butt had become completely numb from sitting for so long and c) we were moving at a crawl thanks to rush hour. Seriously, the body is NOT meant to sit for that long!!! Once Heather and I parked (I used a Groupon for the parking, $16 for the entire day, had to brag about it), we begged the attendant to let use use the employee-only, toilet paper-less bathroom. Desperate times, friends.

Ahhh much better!

Before we were able to relieve ourselves, Heather shot a silly vlog, which I begrudgingly agreed to be in for about .02 seconds. For your viewing pleasure…

Swear I’m not a tourist.

We were so excited to finally arrive! My heart was poundingas I entered the building – I could hear all the chatter going on upstairs, and could hardly believe I was about to walk into this amazing event.

We got our name tags, picked up our (first) bag-o-goodies, and set out to visit the booths that had been set up by the event sponsors.

Awesome display by Reebok, including spot to try on their RealFlex Transition sneakers!

I stopped by Reebok’s table first and was excited to meet Johnice Graham of their marketing team. Hello, dream job! She was so kind and told me I’d be seeing her in a couple days at their #RBKFITBLOG event! Of course I had to take a picture, which you may recognize from the blog’s Facebook page(new default!)

Next, I was BEYOND spoiled by Oakley!!! They had a booth set up where we could try on some of their new active wear sunglasses. They’re made for the active woman who likes to keep things fashionable at the same time – pretty sure that’s almost every female FitFluential Ambassador! Then the awesome ladies at the booth informed me that I could take home a pair of my favorite style. WHAT?!

Is this real life?

And a special shout-out to Jaclyn, an amazing PR girl I met at the Oakley booth. She was so cool and down to earth. I hope we get to hang out again soon!

Thank you Oakley!

I was also spoiled by Birkenstock! They gifted me a pair of their Madrid sandals in brown. I was honestly skeptical at first – I wasn’t sure if they would really be my style. However, my favorite pair of brown leather sandals broke a few months back, so this timing seems pretty perfect! I’m excited to break them in and will update you guys on how comfortable they feel on my feet.

Thank you Birkenstock!

Grain Foods Foundation, a non-profit, had a gorgeous spread of carb-y deliciousness set out for all-day snacking. The organization aims to spread awareness of the importance of grains and bread in the diet. Though some may avoid certain grains for dietary restriction reasons, I think it’s good that a non-profit like this exists to spread word to those that may avoid grains because of the “carbs are bad” notion that I myself have fallen victim to in the past.

Nut butter and jelly party!

Cream cheeses and veggies! I combined cucumber with the lox cream cheese – awesome.

Water and juices, mini pitas and naan, as well as plenty of toasters for those who like their carbs accompanied with carcinogens (me).

My favorite part – hummus, tzatziki, guac, pesto, and bruschetta spread!

One of the coolest parts of the event was hanging out with the grains as well – soccer champ Mia Hamm! Heather, Bess, Mattie, and I waited anxiously to meet her.

Photo: Steven Meyer (courtesy of FITNESS Magazine)

Photo: Steven Meyer (courtesy of FITNESS Magazine)

Photo: Steven Meyer (courtesy of FITNESS Magazine)

Photo: Steven Meyer (courtesy of FITNESS Magazine)

Photo: Steven Meyer (courtesy of FITNESS Magazine)

Mia was so kind and gracious. I thanked her for inspiring girls everywhere to get out there and be active, and she signed a soccer ball for me!

I also had the chance to interact with some other brands! I sampled the strawberry banana V8 V-Fusion Smoothie flavor, and liked it, surprisingly! Usually those kinds of drinks are way too sweet and fake-tasting to me, but this smoothie tasted natural and didn’t make me feel like I was drinking a dessert. I also checked out the new Schick Hydro Silk razor at the Schick table, and was pretty excited to hear I’d be receiving one in the end-of-the-day goodie bag. It even has a little imprint right above the head for your index finger to rest, and the blade itself points at an upward angle when the razor is resting, so that it doesn’t come in contact with the surface of your shower. Little attention to detail like that impresses me!

Of course you know I’m going to talk about the lunch spread. Well, it rocked my taste buds off. OK, so I’ll be a little more descriptive.

Fresh salmon with dill and lemon wedges!

Fruit salad; house salad with cucumber, radish, shaved asparagus, and green goddess vinaigrette; farro salad with grilled peaches and hazelnut vinaigrette.

Love this shot of an iPhone salmon tweet happening!

I helped myself to salmon and the house and farro salads! I’d rocked fruit for breakfast that morning so skipped the fruit salad.

Despicable. Absolutely horrendous.

Thanks to Gina for modeling the signature drink of the day, a fresh lemonade!

After the last info session, I was pleasantly surprised to see that another wave of food had been set out, this time in the form of  artfully-arranged snacks!

You know me…I have to try everything! So I helped myself to one of each type of the below pictured healthy snack “cones” – veggie crudites and apples with brie!

My favorite part of the day was the MEET part of this Meet & Tweet. No, it was not the free stuff. Not even close. How often do I get the chance to meet SO many friends for the first time in one place? And how often do I get to chat with the faces behind the blogs I’ve been reading for, in some cases, years?

Heather, Julie, and I

Peanut Butter Fingers is one of the first blogs I ever started reading, and Julie was kind enough to help me write my blog’s disclaimer back in September when I first got started. That fact alone should have been enough to assure me that she would be incredibly sweet and down to earth, but if it wasn’t, I was completely convinced the second we said hello. The voice Julie’s readers follow each day truly IS hers!

Courtney, me, and Meredith

I’ve also been reading Sweet Tooth, Sweet Life for a very long time, but I’ve gotta say, even the longest of readers could not realize how BEAUTIFUL Courtney is until he or she met her in person. Seriously, this girl is so put-together and an incredible beauty! Photos on the Internet do not do her justice. Meredith writes a newer blog, Dare You To, with a really unique concept. Each post DARES her readers to try a different challenge, and whether it’s something completely foreign to them or something they already may have been doing, it’s still extremely inspiring and a great source of discussion! I was glad to get to meet Meredith in person so that I could tell her how much I admire the idea – and just hang out and chat! We had so much fun. Check out this GORGEOUS photo taken of her during one of the panel sessions (by Fitness Mag photographer Steven Meyer).

Photo: Steven Meyer (courtesy of FITNESS Magazine)

I’m also kicking myself in the face (if I really could do that it’d be pretty impressive, no?) for not getting a photo with the CEO of FitFluential, Kelly Olexa. How humbling and awe-inspiring to FINALLY meet in person the woman who brought me into this Ambassador program and made so much possible. THANK YOU KELLY!

Me, Heather, and Meredith

I had the pleasure of eating lunch with Jill, Natasha, Heather, and Danielle, who I seem to be determined to pull towards me with all my might in the below photo .

Photo: Steven Meyer (courtesy of FITNESS Magazine)

Me, Heather, Natasha, and Jill.

Jill is a YouTube superstar (I envy her composure and poise in her videos), and Natasha does social media for Physique 57. I fangirled hardcore when she handed me a pass for two complimentary classes. A must-try next time I’m in NYC!

Me, Katie, and Heather.

Where do I begin with Katie? Seriously…where? I’ve been a Healthy Diva Eats reader for over a year because she writes a blog that is fun, fabulous, and fit. Well, the writer behind the blog is all three of those things and more. I have never met someone I felt so comfortable giving a HUGE hug to right away. I could have hugged Katie about a thousand times more than I got to throughout the day. She is such a kind, genuine, HAPPY person with an infectious personality. I already miss her! I’m so thankful the Fitness Mag photographer captured our first hug!

Photo: Steven Meyer (courtesy of FITNESS Magazine)

And another example of a beautiful human being, inside and out, is Carla Binberg. After finding my first blog ever, Kath Eats, I literally googled “healthy living blogs” because I was so excited to find more. MizFitOnline is one of the first that popped up, and I’ve been a follower ever since! I have always been attracted to Carla’s style of writing and REALLY hope she comes out with a book ASAP so I can bury my nose in it for hours. She has always been so willing to help out other FitFluential Ambassadors by connecting them with brands, giving them advice, and just delivering inspiring messages every day. Carla does blogging in her own instantly-recognizable-as-Carla’s way. Her readers will never find another blogger out there like her. I felt like I’d known her for years the second I introduced myself.


Throughout the day I ran into Nicole, Michele, and Cassandra. Nicole is a talented baker and soon-to-be mommy who blogs at Making Good Choices. She is beyond adorable! So is Michele, an already-and-soon-to-be mommy who blogs at NYC Running Mama. I’ve been chatting with her in the FitFluential Facebook groups for awhile so saying hey in person was surreal! Finally, Cassandra shares her genius recipes at Breakfast to Bed. I literally said, “Oh my God! You’re a genius!” when I met her, before even saying hello.

Heather, me, Nicole, Michelle, and Cassandra.

Shout outs as well to Christy and Maria, both amazing women who I didn’t get pictures with 🙁 but if you guys have some please send them my way?!

Last, but CERTAINLY not least of the people I met…the Editor in Chief of Fitness Magazine herself, Betty Wong! Telling people who do so much, especially careers that you are interested in, is a beautiful and special thing. Even if Betty hears it all the time, I still feel good knowing that I’ve told someone I admire exactly why I admire her and how she inspires me. And what’s even cooler…Betty also seemed very admiring and thankful to Heather and I for being there!

Betty, me, and Heather.

There were many informational panels going on throughout the day. I spent most of my time meeting and tweeting with bloggers and brands, but did catch a couple of the sessions. Fitness Fashion Director Argy Koutsothanasis presented an array of ensembles that combined fitness and street fashion. I was essentially obsessed with the blue and yellow Reebok jacket and pencil skirt combo (pictured below), and got a chance to awkwardly tell its model that very fact while waiting in line for the bathroom.

We also heard beauty tips from Fitness Beauty Director Eleanor Langston and the very funny Laura Geller. I can tell Laura was an actress – she’s a true entertainer!

My very favorite panel of the day was easily the last one, with Carla, Kelly, Julie, and Tina – How to Turn Your Blog into a Business.

Obsessed with Julie’s sneakers.

Very interesting tidbits I learned during this session:

  • Jessica Simpson reads Julie’s blog!
  • It’s not worth your time to get TOO into catering your blog to be SEO-friendly. There are little tips and tricks that always help, but inserting keywords in certain places on purpose or constantly changing your structure and wording to attempt to manipulate Google is not worth the time since their algorithm changes a ton.
  • Tina feels the same way as I do about the best part of blogging – the FRIENDS!
  • Carla’s number one freelancing tip is to pitch something that only YOU would be able to write. Make yourself valuable to brands!
  • My favorite simple quote from Kelly during the panel – “Be who you are!”

Photo: Steven Meyer (courtesy of FITNESS Magazine)

I did my best to live-tweet the panel’s advice using the #fitblognyc hashtag!

Photo: Steven Meyer (courtesy of FITNESS Magazine)

After the panel wrapped up, there was a Kiwi Sweat Pop-Up Fitnesss workout called Tabura planned, but Heather and I decided to head out to Time Square’s Oakley Store with Bess and Mattie for a meet-up with the Tone It Up trainers. I heard the workout was really fun though!

We hopped in line to wait for our swag-bags. Heather looked cute, while I decided to pass the time by making awkward faces.

Photo: Steven Meyer (courtesy of FITNESS Magazine)

Finally it was our turn!

Photo: Steven Meyer (courtesy of FITNESS Magazine)

Just a glimpse of our bag’s exteriors made us very happy girls.

Photo: Steven Meyer (courtesy of FITNESS Magazine)

Can you believe how much Fitness Magazine and the event sponsors hooked us up?!

I’m essentially obsessed with the bag by Sonia Kashuk. You can get her stuff at Target! On our way to Times Square, Heather, Bess, and I got a ton of questions about where we got our bags.

Reebok RealFlex Transition sneakers – in my favorite color!

I can’t wait to try these bad boys out. Everyone knows I love hot pink workout gear!

Sensational swag in-my-bag!

Ahhh – look at it all! My swag bag also included:

  • SunMaid Raisins, Pure Protein and Nature Valley bars, and Lipton Tea & Honey packets
  • FiberOne 90-calorie brownies (I can’t wait to try these in plain Greek yogurt, there’s a choc chip and a brownie flavor!)
  • the latest issue of Fitness (my sister is reading it right now and gives it two thumbs up!)
  • Element AM & PM Yoga for Beginners DVD – looking forward to using this when I need a wind-down or a good stretch to supplement a workout
  • “Drop Dead Healthy” book by AJ Jacobs, who was at the event during a panel – I plan to read this, but I think my parents want to first!
  • two CamelBak bottles, one with a built-in filter and one without – I gave the one without to my sister, and she is VERY impressed and in love! I plan to do a giveaway for the one with the filter because even though I know they’re worse for the environment, I prefer to drink out of recyclable plastic water bottles. Nothing else will do for me!
  • Blow Pro Faux-Dry dry shampoo
  • Dogeared star necklace – this one made my sister pretty jealous and I felt bad because I’d never heard of this brand before, but it’s so pretty!!! I can’t find a photo online but will tweet it when I wear it!
  • Hand in Hand Orange Blossom sustainable soap – after getting my first piece of sustainable soap at CT Veg Fest recently, I can’t wait to use this!
  • Vichy lotion – gave to my sis, not my thing at all, a caffeine-containing lotion meant to make cellulite less severe and firm the stomach. However inside of box has creative packaging – diff ab moves printed on the inside! Glad to see a company not putting for the illusion that their lotion alone will “work miracles”.

As I mentioned briefly above, some of the bag’s contents are honestly not my thing so be on the lookout for a giveaway or two coming soon!

OK, but this band definitely IS MY THING. Heather got Sweaty Bands in her bag but I didn’t get any in mine, and after hearing I’ve always wanted to try them (especially after I watched Maria ROCK hers at #RBKFITBLOG), she was kind enough to give me the one I’m wearing above. THANK YOU HEATHER! Another goody my sister is very envious of.

Crazy bag lady – I walked from Fitness Mag to Times Square with this stuff!

I’ll definitely be doing a giveaway for the yoga mat I’m holding above, because I already have a yoga mat! This one is brand new and was gifted to us by New Media Strategies, the partner firm that helped put on the event. They were the world’s first social media marketing firm…true innovators! Samantha Pepi, the Senior Promotions Manager for NMS that helped keep us bloggers informed about the event, did an amazing job and chatting with her at the NMS table was very fun. I hope it was fun for her too, since we kept making her take pictures for us! 😛

And then…Heather, Bess, and I were off to the Tone It Up meetup in Oakley’s Times Square location! The whirlwind day was only just getting started! MORE TO COME!

What part of this event would you have enjoyed the most? If you attended, what DID you enjoy the most?

Have you tried or ever wanted to try any of the products mentioned in this post?

What question would YOU have asked the members of the blogger panel?

I’m Alive…Just Busy Living!

HI GUYS! I just wanted to let you know that I AM ALIVE. I have been living life at 80,000 MPH and though it’s NOT what I’m used to, it’s all been worth it to live what have truly been some of the best days of my life. And it’s not over yet! I’m about to head out to an amazing vegetarian/vegan restaurant with my best blend Heather called Garden Grille, and am staying over at her house tonight to unwind, work on getting my pics ready to share with you guys, and get much needed sleep!

On Wednesday, I attended the FITNESS Magazine Blogger Meet & Tweet. I got to hear some great bloggers speak, and meet the faces behind some blogs that I have been reading for as long as three years. SURREAL! I also got the chance to try so many fantastic new products from brands like Oakley, Reebok, and many more. I capped the day off with one of the best meals of my life at Pure Food & Wine.

Then today, I attended #RBKFITBLOG, an event for bloggers held at Reebok World HQ in Canton, MA. We learned about their latest and greatest products and workouts, including their partner Crossfit (yes, I tried the legendary Crossfit, and I am ALIVE!)

Heather and I are running to dinner. I can’t wait to give you guys amazing posts that share my adventures with you. In the mean time though, head over to my Twitter and check out the zillions of tweets I’ve been putting out over the past few days. MANY include pictures, as well as fascinating fitness and blogging tips and secrets! You can also see what other bloggers have been saying about the last few days by searching the hashtags #fitblognyc and #RBKFITBLOG.

What part of my adventures are you most excited to hear about?! How much do you already know about Reebok and/or FITNESS Magazine?

Taste of the Nation: Hartford

You may recall hearing about Share Our Strength from my two recaps of the organization’s Taste of the Nation event in New Haven, CT. Many other bloggers have covered the event at other locations as well. The organization strives to end childhood hunger in America by 2015 (its motto is No Kid Hungry), and the funds raised from admission and each event’s silent auctions go towards grants, public partnerships, and educational programs. Certainly a worthy cause!

Taste of the Nation in New Haven.

This Thursday May 10 from 6-9pm, Taste of the Nation comes to Hartford. Marquee Events & Catering at 960 Main Street is the site of this year’s edition of the always-spectacular event. Check out its website for everything you need to know, including photos from the 2011 TON Hartford, as if you needed any further convincing about going!

I will be away that day and unfortunately can’t make it myself…I’m trying so hard NOT to look at the website’s amazing list of restaurants and beverage reps that will be there! Some of my favorites include Barcelona, Besito, Bricco Trattoria, Catsup & Mustard, Cuvee, Esca, Firebox, Max Restaurants…you get the idea! And plenty of other buzzed-about places that I’ve always wanted to try like On20, Treva, and Salute will be present too.

An offering from Barcelona Wine Bar at TON New Haven 2012…I wonder what they will be dishing up in Hartford?!

Taste of the Nation couldn’t exist without the volunteers that take time out of their busy, already-full work weeks to organize and support Share Our Strength’s efforts to make the fundraiser a success. I had the chance to ask a few of them some questions about their motivations behind getting involved, their responsibilities, and of COURSE their favorite restaurants…

Angela Pitrone (Deloitte), Event Co-Chair:

1. What motivated you to co-chair TON Hartford this year? My childhood friend, Heather Partridge, invited me to the [Share Our Strength] event 5 years ago.  Billy Grant [of Billy Grant restaurants, and fellow Event Co-Chair] was auctioning off a dinner for 10 cooked in your home.  I won the live auction.  Billy and his Manager, Sarah (check out her interview below!), came to my house to go over all of the details.  Once they realized I was an event planner, they asked me to join the committee.  After joining the committee my first year, I was asked to co-chair.

2. What are the responsibilities of the event co-chair? I touch on everything except the restaurants.  Billy Grant’s Manager, Sarah Maloney, handles all the restaurants (THANK GOD).

3. What is your favorite restaurant attending the event – no “they’re all my favorite” answers allowed! 😀 We have so many favorites for different reasons, I personally love the ever changing menu and the attention to detail at the Mill at 2t.  I’m very lucky now that my co-chair has opened Bricco Trattoria, close to my home and my 2 year old’s proclaimed favorite restaurant. [Bricco is located in my hometown, Glastonbury!]

TON New Haven 2012

Next up we hear from the aforementioned Sarah Maloney (Billy Grant Restaurants), Restaurant Chair:

1. What are the responsibilities of the restaurant chair? Being a restaurant fanatic myself, I’m imagining it to be a dream job! It is a lot of fun!  Being the restaurant business for over 10 years I have been able to friend many chefs and restaurateurs…This job gives me the opportunity to work closely with all my restaurant friends and family! One minute I’m talking ceviche with Besito and then next minute Italian cookies with Mozzicato bakery.  My main responsibility is to recruit restaurants for the event.  Once I have restaurants commited they go ahead and fill out two important forms.  One that will list what they will be making that night, what they will need from us ie plateware, electricity and also any additional donation they would like to put in the silent auction.  They also have to fill out a Health Department form as each restaurant has to apply for a temporary food liscense from the City of Hartford in order to participate.  Closer to the event we work off a CAD drawing of Marquee Events and Catering and place the restaurants in their assigned spots.  Where we put their tables really depends on what they are serving and what their needs are for the evening. That way there are not two restaurants next to each other serving similar items.  The night of I assist the Health Dept in approving the liscense and make sure that each restaurant has exactly what they need to make it a successful event
2. What do you think are the most important qualities a TON Hartford exhibitor restaurant should possess? Table flare is huge! Some restaurants really go all out!  Some with huge flower arrangements, ice luges, TV monitors with scrolling pictures of their restaurants. Whatever will catch the eye of guests walking around the event that creates interest!  Also every year each restaurant brings a great representative that works the table that can interact with guests…you don’t always get to see a chef cooking your food so to see them out and cooking for you right there is so much fun!!!
3. What is your favorite restaurant out of all the attendees? No “they’re all my favorite” answers allowed! 😀 AHHHHHHHH this is just HARD! There are over 40 restaurants and they are all amazing in their own way! Plan B always does a wonderful job cooking mini burgers to order, they always put on a show and have a fun table…the mini Miller High Lifes they have help too 🙂 On20 is always another one of my favorites, Chef Noel Jones always seems to prepare something that is creative and always something you have never tried before…always a fun table to visit and experience! [I myself am dying to try On20!]

Plan B’s table display at Mohegan Sun WineFest 2012 – will they live up to this display at TON Hartford?!

And finally, let’s hear from someone who works directly for a non-profit called End Hunger CTVolunteer Chair Dawn Crayco!

1. What made you decide to be a volunteer chair with TON Hartford? I spent a couple of years volunteering for Taste of the Nation Hartford at registration. I must have done something right because shortly after my second year I was asked to fill the vacant volunteer chair position on the committee.  I have a great time mobilizing people looking to “give back” at the event and find the energy of the committee and volunteers is contagious. That is what keeps me coming back.

2. Tell me more about End Hunger CT. Are you affiliated with Share Our Strength at all, or do you just share common goals? End Hunger Connecticut! is a statewide anti-hunger and food security organization. By focusing on advocacy, outreach, education and research around the federal food programs, EHC! serves as a comprehensive anti-hunger resource for policymakers, community organizations, and low-income families.  The goal of EHC! is to improve the levels of food security and nutrition among Connecticut families while creating and supporting policies that move families toward self-sufficiency.

A long time grantee of Share our Strength initiatives, like Taste of the Nation, EHC! is the organization’s lead partner on the Connecticut No Kid Hungry Campaign.  Connecticut No Kid Hungry® Campaign was launched in March 2011 with Governor Malloy and Share our Strength to end childhood hunger in the state by 2015. Now in its second year, the campaign is focusing on increasing participation among eligible children in the School Breakfast Program, Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and the Child and Adult Care Food Program’s (CACFP) Afterschool Meal Program. Please  visit our new websites to learn more about these programs: &

3. What is your favorite restaurant out of all the attendees? No “they’re all my favorite” answers allowed! 😀 I can honestly say that I do not have one favorite restaurant; however, I do flock to restaurants serving my Italian favorites like gnocchi, ravioli, and anything cheesy. I’ll try anything new at least once but you’ll see me getting seconds and thirds at restaurants like GrantsRestaurant Bricco, Bricco Trattoria, and Salute.

Thank you to these amazing volunteers for taking time out of their busy schedules, especially the week of the event, to answer my questions!
Tickets to TON Hartford are $75 for general admission and $125 for VIPs. Having attended a Taste of the Nation event myself, I can tell you with confidence that the admission price, though it may seem high, is COMPLETELY worth it! Especially for the chance to try so many restaurants where you would normally spend almost $50 per person on a meal anyway!
So what do you say? Will you be headed to TON Hartford at 960 Main St in Hartford this Thursday, 5/10, from 6-9PM? Have you ever been to a similar event or fundraiser?