About Amanda

Writer. Editor. Runner.

Let’s Talk Sports Bras

I don’t know about you, but sports bras have been one of the worst things about trying to live an active life. They’re either not supportive at all or you have to be a magician to get them on and take them off.

I think my first sports bras were the totally non-supportive Champion ones from Target. And since I’ve been well-endowed since before middle school, I had to wear at least two at a time.

Those are what I’d wear to play softball in high school and during gym glasses. They provided zero support, even when doubled up.

In college, as I got more interested in running, I knew I needed something with better support. Luckily, I found Under Armour. I got two black racerback sports bras, which had actual cup sizes (rather than small, medium, large, etc.). This was so long ago, I’m not even sure they still make these bras, but they look similar to this one (please note the below does not come in cup sizes):

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Those were more supportive and allowed me to run comfortably for the most part. I still have them, but they’ve stretched out over the years so they’re less than ideal for high impact exercise.

Later in college I discovered Moving Comfort sports bras by Brooks Running. They not only had bras with cup sizes, but band sizes too—and they had options that were actually cute.

My first Moving Comfort bra was a pink and gray Juno style, which is a racerback that goes over your head, but also has the traditional bra clasps in the back:

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That bra served me well for a few years, but they were a little expensive on a college student budget, so I never bought a second one. A few years later (after gaining some weight), I started doing yoga.

I loved yoga, but none of my sports bras were right for it. Although the Juno was very supportive for high impact sports like running, it was a little too small and low-cut, making it useless for yoga. Same goes for my slightly stretched out Under Armour bras.

Basically, any time we did forward folds or downward dogs, my chest shifted around so much that I had to readjust every time we were upright again. Pretty distracting.

Eventually, I went to Lululemon to try some of their bras. I wanted something cute but also supportive. What I left with was definitely cute, but definitely not supportive:

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The shifting was worse during yoga with that bra, so there’s no way I could ever run in it. I now reserve that bra for doing chores around the house and other very low-impact, fully upright activities.

After asking around, I had a few people recommend a different style by Moving Comfort/Brooks Running. The Fiona was the most recommended style because it has fuller coverage than the Juno and it’s also easy to put on/take off, because it’s not a racerback.

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So I finally went and bought one. The Fiona is not cute. The bigger size you need, the less cute the bra (sports or regular). I went with a black one.

It fits well, it’s comfortable, and it provides the support and coverage I need. It still isn’t the one though.

The Fiona has this lining in it that isn’t sewn down. So it wrinkles and can be uncomfortable in general. I also really dislike the band, which constantly folds up. This may or may not have something to do with that lining issue.

While the Fiona is certainly one of the better sports bras I’ve purchased, it’s still not perfect. Maybe the perfect sports bra doesn’t exist. (Or maybe the perfect ones are all out of my price range.)

For now, I’m alternating between the Fiona and the Juno (with my Under Armour ones ready when I haven’t done laundry) while I search for better options.

Have you struggled to find the perfect sports bra? What brands/styles have you tried? Have you found the one? Let me know!

—AB

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Getting Back into Blogging—And Running

I took a long and unintended hiatus from blogging. I started a new job back in May and things have been a little hectic ever since.

I had a lot going on personally, which I decided was better not to share on a public platform. Suffice it to say, I couldn’t muster the energy or creativity to do any writing, let alone blogging.

That low energy also meant I was hardly making healthy food choices. When you have so little energy, eating paleo is hardly practical. I turned instead to fast food and other convenience junk foods.

I gained weight, felt like crap, and definitely did not have the energy to exercise. It was a vicious cycle that I’m finally breaking.

With the exception of my lunch on Monday, I’ve cleaned up my diet quite a bit. It hasn’t all been paleo because a couple things have had small amounts of sugar. But it’s progress.

I also started running again. Since I’m still dealing with shoulder pain (since February!) running is one of the few exercises I can do. I am finally going to physical therapy for my shoulder, which I found out has an arthritic spur that’s causing me pain.

After reading an article on runnersworld.com about a runner who has run 250+ days in a row, I was intrigued. She called it a “run streak”, and the only requirement was that she had to run at least a mile every day.

That’s the part that sounded so intriguing. Since I’m a slow runner, long runs take forever. We’re talking 40+ minutes for 3-ish miles, which doesn’t include warmups or cool downs.

But I can run a mile in 12-ish minutes. That’s a much smaller time commitment to try to fit into a busy schedule. So I figured, why not?

I started this past Sunday, and have successfully run at least one mile every day for 5 days. The furthest I’ve run so far is 1.25 miles. I imagine that I’ll eventually start doing some longer runs, especially on the weekends. But for now, running a mile every day is a small but achievable win.

Have you ever tried a run streak (or any other kind of streak)? How long were you able to stick with it?

Thanks for reading!

—AB

Exciting Things Happening

As I mentioned in my last post, it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything here. We went on vacation the first week of April, and catching back up with work and other exciting things just made the rest of the month total chaos. I’ll start with telling you about our vacation:

Vacation started with Opening Day. We spent most of the day downtown enjoying the beautiful weather before watching the Cardinals beat the Cubs that night. The next morning, we left for Pensacola, FL. We drove, and somewhere in Tennessee, my check engine light came on. I texted my cousin who does all the work on my cars and he said as long as the light wasn’t flashing, we were okay, but he said to stop by an Autozone to have them pull the code. We did, and fortunately, it was nothing to worry about (we stopped at a Chevy dealer to double check before we drove the rest of the way).

The rest of the trip was uneventful, as any good vacation should be. We ate at all our favorite restaurants and tried a few new places too. We got to go to the beach twice, and we got in the water, believe it or not! The water wasn’t as cold as I expected, but the windiness made getting out of the water freezing! I didn’t have any books to read with me at the beach because I was in between library loans (I had just returned one and was on several waiting lists for others, which, of course, weren’t available until we got back).

It ended up being a great vacation, albeit a little too short (driving really cuts down on the amount of time you get to spend relaxing!).

When we got back from vacation, things were more than a little hectic. We still hadn’t finished our taxes, mice were still nesting in our oven (that should probably be its own post), and my car needed an oil change, plus we needed to figure out exactly why the check engine light came on.

On top of all that, I got called in to interview for a job I had applied for. The interview went really well and they offered me the job the next day. After some negotiations, I accepted the job! I put in my two weeks’ with my freelancing jobs and I start my new job as a full-time copywriter tomorrow! 🙂

All this craziness and stress had not helped my shoulder, though, and my other shoulder started hurting too. I went back to the doctor but got no answers, which was really frustrating. Finally, I decided to try getting a massage to see if that would help. It was only my second massage ever, and it was my first deep tissue massage. It ended up being so much better than my first. It didn’t eliminate my shoulder pain right away, but by the next day, I felt so much looser and more relaxed in my shoulders, upper back, and neck. I may need to make deep tissue massages a regular addition to my self-care. I’m still having some slight tenderness in my right shoulder, but it’s not nearly as bad as it was before.

I’ve been running a lot more lately to make up for all the yoga I’m not doing. Most of my runs have been with Copper, which makes them more challenging because she stops so suddenly! That stopping and starting really works the legs! My runs are slowly improving, though, so at least I’m seeing some progress. I’m probably going to start doing some light weightlifting again to start re-strengthening my arms. More than a month without any weightlifting has made me weak! I’m considering going back to yoga, too, and just avoiding/modifying poses that will cause my shoulder too much irritation. We’ll see how my first week at the new job goes!

I hope you’ve all been well! I’m hoping to blog a little more frequently now that things are starting to calm down! 🙂

-AB

 

Review: Jaybird Freedom Wireless Earbuds

It’s been quite a while since my last post. Exciting things have been happening in my corner of the world (I’ll get to those in my next post). A while back, I started having some trouble with my wireless Jaybird X2 earbuds. Despite being fully charged, I couldn’t get them to turn on. After charging them multiple times, I finally got them to turn on, so I went for a run. The next time I went to use them, I had the same problem.

I emailed Jaybird’s customer support about the issue. Since none of the “try this or that” they had recommended worked, they offered to replace my X2s, but since those were out of stock, they told me they’d be sending me the Freedom earbuds instead. Before agreeing, I did a lot of research to make sure what I was getting would at least be comparable to what I had.

Then, in order to get the new earbuds shipped, I had to cut the cord on my X2s. Let me tell you, this was a nerve-wracking experience. My thoughts were racing: “What if I accidentally emailed the wrong place and this was all some sick joke and I’m just out the money I spent? What if one of their customer service reps is pissed off and taking it out on me?” I did it anyway, because there was no way I was going to get those X2s to work consistently ever again. After sending them a picture confirming I had cut the wire, they notified me the Freedom earbuds would be on the way.

I received the Freedoms relatively quick and so far, I am extremely happy with them. They are much smaller than the X2s. Plus, the ear fins, which are designed to keep the earbuds securely in your ears, come in several more (smaller!) sizes, so I was able to use the extra small ones! The foam tips are also much, much nicer with the Freedoms.

You can see a comparison between the two in the pic below:

IMG_1912

Freedoms on the left, X2s (with cut cord) on the right.

You can see how much smaller the Freedoms are. The control panel (?) is a bit bigger and heavier, and that box next to the controls on the Freedoms is a battery pack. I haven’t tried running with that, because I think it would add too much weight. So far my biggest issue with the Freedoms is trying to find a good cord length for me. It comes with these tabs so you can shorten the cord. I’ve tried it almost as short as it goes, which was uncomfortable. I also tried an in-between length, but it would catch every time I turned my head to check before running across an intersection. I’ve tried running twice now with the cord as-is without the tabs, but that made the control panel bounce around too much, so I’m still trying to find a happy-medium with that.

Aside from the cord length, I’ve been extremely happy with these earbuds. They block out the sound really well (almost too well to be safe), fit comfortably, and most importantly, they stay put! They are small and discreet, so I don’t feel like a total dork walking around in these. If you’re looking for new (or your first) wireless earbuds, you can’t go wrong with the Freedoms. They are a little more expensive than the X2s (and I was fortunate enough to get the X2s on sale), but I think it’s worth it, especially if you struggle with earbuds fitting your ears like I do. I’m actually not sure you can still buy the X2s–I think they’ve been replaced with the X3s. But there’s about $20 difference between the X3s and the Freedoms, which is definitely worth it to have better-fitting earbuds.

As always, thanks for reading!

-AB

*Please note that this is not a paid review.

Setbacks

I finally decided on Monday that I should maybe ask my yoga instructor what she thinks about my shoulder problem. Her response? Get it looked at asap. Bummer.

I attempted to see the doctor on Wednesday but, thanks to an insurance snafu, had to reschedule for today. My doctor said it could either be tendinitis in my rotator cuff or a slight tear in the tendon. Either way, I’m under strict orders to avoid weight-bearing exercises for two full weeks. So no yoga. 😦

She also gave me a prescription for an anti-inflammatory and a muscle relaxer. If I don’t see any improvements within the first week, she said she wants me to take the anti-inflammatory for a full month. She said I’m too young to have to have shoulder surgery, but didn’t really say what the next steps would be if the rest and anti-inflammatories don’t help.

While I was there I asked her about a few other things. One thing was, thankfully, totally normal and nothing to worry about. The other could be some sort of deficiency, so we did some blood work. We’ll see what that turns up.

I guess since yoga is pretty much off-limits (at least a normal flow practice is anyway), I should get back into running this week. It’s been awhile since I’ve gone out for a run (that whole lack of energy thing is mostly to blame, but also pure laziness). We’ll see what the weather does. St. Louis is expecting snow tomorrow.

If you have any exercise tips for me that don’t involve my shoulder, I’d appreciate it! Hope you guys have a great weekend!

-AB

Marching On

Despite being a short month, February felt incredibly long. While I managed to make some progress toward some of my goals for this year, I fell behind on others. I completely stopped my strength training and went from doing yoga every day to doing it just two days a week (if that). At some point at the end of January I messed up my shoulder and more than a month later, it still hurts. I’ve tried taking ibuprofen, icing it, stretching, and mobility exercises only to find temporary relief.

I’m giving it another week with some new exercises and more ibuprofen before I give up and go to the doctor. Because I need my shoulder working properly. I already have bad knees! I can’t have a bad shoulder too–I have big yoga goals this year…like doing hand-stands and whatnot. I need strong shoulders for that!

So on the exercise front, things are not going so well. I haven’t had a ton of energy lately. It seems to take me everything I’ve got just to get out of bed most mornings, despite getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep at night.

I did manage to make more of an effort to work on some personal writing projects in February. In the past month I’ve written and revised a new poem and wrote and article I’m hoping to submit to an online publication pretty soon. Re-dedicating myself to creative writing has really sparked my motivation. I’ve got some great ideas for some future projects that I can’t wait to work on.

I have pretty much completely cut out all the foods I’m allergic and/or sensitive to, including dairy, gluten, and eggs. I’ve been doing dairy-/gluten-free on and off for several years now, so that was never a huge deal to me. But throwing eggs in the mix has been a huge source of frustration. My options for eating out are so much more limited, and breakfast options are pretty much non-existent.

What’s even more frustrating is that even after cutting all this junk out of my diet, I still don’t feel great. I was hoping I’d have more energy, fewer breakouts, etc., but no. I seem to wake up every other day with a new pimple or zit, the eczema on my toes won’t go away, and I’m as tired as ever.

We’re looking into gym memberships so my hubby and I can start working out. Our thinking is that if we’re paying for it, we’re more likely to use it. And I’m hoping that if we go to the gym together, we can motivate each other and keep each of us accountable. I know once we get going, the energy and motivation will come back. It’s the getting started part that’s the hardest.

As far as my goals for budgeting/saving/paying off debt goes, we’ve made some progress! I paid off one credit card last month and put my entire paycheck from my second freelance gig toward another. It was a really good feeling. We’ve also been setting aside money in three separate savings accounts: Emergency, Vacation, and Car Repairs/Home Renovations.

We booked our next vacation, and we’ve been using money from the Home Renovation account to slowly but surely make some necessary upgrades in our house. Most recently, we installed a new toilet and vanity in our master bathroom, because what was in there looked ancient. We have a long way to go with our house, but it’s a start. And we are more committed than ever to putting money into savings (or towards debt) when we have extra. We aren’t quite budgeting, but we have a system right now that seems to be working pretty well for us, so I’m not gonna mess with it.

In an effort to save money and save me the frustration of eating out multiple times a week (really hard when you can’t have gluten, dairy, and eggs), we meal prepped together on Sunday. It went by so much more quickly with both of us doing it together and we have plenty of quick and easy (and healthy!) meals for the week now! We are going to make more of an effort to meal prep together so we aren’t eating out as often.

This month, I’m hoping to spend a little more time exercising (providing the shoulder pain goes away) and a lot more time reading and writing!

How are your 2017 goals coming along? Have you run into any obstacles? How are you dealing with them?

Health Check-Up

I have not been eating super healthy so far this year. The chaos of the new year and a second job made it easy to eat whatever was most convenient, regardless of how unhealthy it was. After some nasty breakouts (due to my overconsumption of dairy, I assume), I have decided that what I’m doing is ridiculous.

I completely avoid peanuts, beef, pork, and lamb, because I’m allergic. But I’m also allergic/sensitive to wheat, dairy, soy, and eggs, and I eat those whenever I want. No, I don’t break out into hives or go into anaphylaxis when I eat these things. But they do make me feel pretty crappy. So why in the hell do I keep eating them?

Good question. Convenience, mostly. If I strictly avoid all those foods, I’m inconveniencing my husband, my family, my friends, and myself. Because I love dairy and I enjoy foods that contain gluten (hello pizza!). What I fail to focus on is that these foods are negatively affecting my health. And I shouldn’t be compromising my health just because it’s inconvenient.

I finally told my husband that it’s just nonsense that I completely avoid certain foods I’m allergic to and not others. So we’re going to start focusing on avoiding foods that have anything I’m allergic to in them. I’m not going to worry about whether what we’re eating is paleo or Whole30. I’m just going to focus on not eating the foods that make me sick.

What a revelation! To make it seem a little less overwhelming, we’re taking it week by week. No, I’m not going to die if I eat cheese or eggs. So if we end up at a restaurant or family dinner where certain things are unavoidable, I’m not going to sweat it. But I am going to make more of an effort to find restaurants where I can eat without having to make those compromises (if you have any recommendations, please send them my way!).

I have to stop saying it’s okay to eat these things whenever I don’t feel like inconveniencing someone. They don’t make me feel good, so I need to stop eating them. No, they don’t always make me physically sick. But they show up in other ways: Dairy makes my skin break out in nasty pimples and I get eczema on my toes and fingers. Too much gluten upsets my stomach. Eggs really upset my stomach. It’s too difficult to try to moderate how much dairy I can have before I start seeing its effects on my skin. It’s much easier to just cut them out of my daily diet altogether. So that’s what I plan to do.

Do you have food allergies? What are they and how do you deal with them? Any good restaurant suggestions?