Influenster Sugar 'n Spice VoxBox 2013

I am so excited to tell y'all about all the great products that I received this week in my first VoxBox from Influenster.  If you're not familiar with Influenster, visit their website at  Basically you earn points by sharing your reviews of different products on various forms of social media and in return, occasionally get picked to receive a box of goodies to try! 

I was impressed with how all of the products I received are full-sized and not just sample size.  Thanks again to Influenster and all of these companies!
1. Nectresse by Splenda
I was very excited to receive this product!  I buy Unsweet Tea by the gallon from ChickFila and use Splenda to sweeten it, so this southern girl could use this.  I received a box of 40 packets (which retails for $3.99).  Nectresse is sugar-free, but the really cool thing is that it is 100% all natural.  It is made from monk fruit, which is something that I had never heard of!  It is mostly grown in Asia and is in the melon family.  The monk fruit gets its unusual name from the Buddhist monks that first grew it.  I have really fallen in love with this sweetener.  The first thing I noticed is that it looks granulated like real sugar.  It has a different taste from regular Splenda, but it is a good difference!  I am hooked on this product now for sure!

2.  Vaseline Spray & Go Moisturizer
This is an awesome product that I haven't seen yet.  It is a lotion that is in a spray form, very much like the spray on sunscreens.  I am so bad about not taking the time to put on lotion everyday, but using this product has really helped me do it quickly!  The scent of this lotion is amazing!!  All you do is spray on and quickly rub in.  It is non-greasy just like the bottle says and absorbs very quickly.  Try this one out!  It retails for $7.99 (which I think is on the pricey side but so worth it).
3.  Colgate Optic White Regime
Colgate was nice enough to send THREE full size products:  toothpaste, mouthwash, and a toothbrush.  Using all three products together will give you whiter teeth in just 5 days!  I have only been using the products for three so far, but I can tell a difference.  The mouthwash burns quite a bit, but it isn't unbearable.  The toothbrush is the coolest part---it has all kinds of special bristles for the deepest clean.  I was in desperate need of new toothpaste and a new toothbrush, so this was just in time! All 3 products are $2.99 each.
4.  Dickinson's Original Witch Hazel Oil Controlling Towelettes
Yet another product that I desperately needed.  I have been using Mario Badescu toner, but I had just run out when my VoxBox arrived.  So I cancelled my trip to Ulta (probably safe--I find too much else I "need" there!) and tried these towelettes out.  The scent is not my favorite, but that quickly disappears.  They leave my skin feeling extremely clean and fresh and haven't dried me out at all.  Dickinson's has definitely won me over as a new customer.  The 20-count box is $5.99 and can be found at grocery stores and drugstores.  I was most impressed by the size of the towelette!

5.  belVita Breakfast Biscuits
Ok, I have to be honest.  I can't give my review of this product because I didn't try it!  The flavor was cinnamon sugar and for those of you who don't know--I'm allergic to cinnamon!  So I had my husband try them out for breakfast this morning.  He said they were good, so I guess thumbs up!  The biscuits are filled with tons of good stuff and whole grains and they are supposed to keep you full all morning.  I plan on trying these out in other flavors because they sound great!  They are $3.69 for a box of 5 packets.  Each packet has 4 biscuits.

Well, one last thing.  I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.

Long overdue....

Wow...I haven't posted in a while!  My sister, Amanda, has reminded me periodically that she is waiting on a blog post so here it is.  I guess this one will be a little of this, a little of that.

I just came back from an appointment at the pain center for my chronic neck pain.  I'm really getting nowhere fast with this.  I've been seeing a physical therapist twice a week for myofascial release (which is basically a really painful massage that attempts to get rid of my impressive muscle knots and spasms), but I can't tell a difference in overall pain.  I still hurt and my muscles still stay incredibly tight.  Maybe if I went everyday for a while it would help, but that is pretty much financially and logistically impossible!  My pain center appointment today was rather frustrating.  I like my doctor there, but the office staff is hard to deal with.  I brought paperwork with me to have filled out for intermittent leave at work (so that if I need to stay home from work due to pain or procedures related to my neck pain I won't get points on my time and attendance record).  My insurance company gives me 15 days to get this filled out and back to them, and that includes the time it took to get to me.  Well, the pain center staff acted as if I had asked them to do the impossible.  They informed me that the cost to fill out the paperwork is $50 and they would have it ready in 30 days!  I told them I only have 15 to start out with and needed it by next Friday.  I ended up having to pay ANOTHER $50 to expedite the paperwork.  Ugh!  I need a new job filling out FMLA paperwork--it seems to be fairly profitable!  So then I asked the girl at the desk if she could ask for a printed prescription for me since my employee pharmacy at work that I am required to use doesn't accept escripts.  I was attempting to save them a step since I had been through this last time.  She came back and said, "Yes, they are sending it by escript."  I mean, really?  Did you not listen to what I just told you?  Doctor's offices would really benefit from employing more RNs and other college educated employees.  Surely they could afford to pay higher salaries on FMLA paperwork kickbacks alone, right?  Otherwise my appointment was uneventful.  Dr. Vijay suggested that I start taking my zanaflex (muscle relaxer) during the day when I can in addition to at bedtime.  That should be interesting since it effectively knocks me out and makes me stumble around when I try to walk!  He said to take it during the day when (since this happens so often) I have nothing to do but stay around the house! Ha!  And, he ordered for me to have another MRI of my neck since it has been a couple of years.  I dread this because I don't do well with MRIs.  I don't consider myself a claustrophobic person, but when I get in that tube I realize that I must be.  Plus, it is very hard to be completely still for such a long time.  Hopefully this MRI will show something, anything.  I'm tired of no one being able to figure out what's wrong with me!  I go back to the pain center in a month.  He told me it is my choice about continuing physical therapy.  I will talk that over with my therapist tomorrow.

In other news, I started back doing Weight Watchers.  I've done it in the past with success and it is especially easy now since I can do all my points tracking on my iphone!  I mainly started it to be a guide for how much I should eat each day.  I know which foods I should eat, but have trouble knowing how much is too much or too little.  I have been on the plan for 3 weeks now and have lost 7.8 lbs!  I'm happy with those results.  I have a long way to go but I am at least headed in the right direction.  The program is extremely simple and not hard to stay on.  During these three weeks, I have had movie popcorn, eaten out a couple of times, and been to a picnic for the Cherry Blossom Festival.  None of these things have affected my weight loss because I am able to plan for them and also control my portions.  One product that I have really loved lately is Vega Chocolate Smoothie.

This product can be found at The Vitamin Shoppe and also online from  It is a plant-based powder that has 11g of protein, 7g of fiber, and 1g of Omega-3.  It also says that it has the equivalent of two servings of veggies.  I love to put it in the blender with ice, water, and a banana.  Yummy to my tummy!  And only 2 Weight Watchers PointsPlus! 
In addition to Weight Watchers, I have become addicted to spin class!  My gym offers the Les Mills classes, so the spin class is called RPM.  I've been going at least 5 times a week, including two mornings that I get up at 4:40 am to make the 5:30 am class!  Yes, I love it that much!  I have problems with my knees, so this is a perfect form of cardio for me because it doesn't put stress on my joints.  Also, I feel that it might help some with my neck pain because I have to focus on keeping my shoulders back and down and this helps with my posture.  I've saved for a while and finally bought myself some spin shoes! 
The spin shoes are sold separately from the clamp that clips into the bike pedal.  I purchased my shoes from a bike store here in Macon and the clamps were $20 extra.  The man that helped me at the store installed the clamps on my shoes for no charge.  Most bikes use the standard SPD clamp by Shimano.  I had previously thought that spin shoes were not necessary but I can tell a huge difference when I used them.  I can put more resistance on my bike, I can go faster during sprints without bouncing, and I feel more work in my hamstrings and calves.  I recommend spin shoes for anyone who regularly attends a spin class. 
More later!  This post has gotten long enough!

It's Official

It's official....I have signed up for my first of what I hope to be many more Run Disney events.  My friend Emily and I are going to run the Expedition Everest Challenge 5K and Scavenger Hunt in Animal Kingdom on May 4!  We are both incredibly excited for this event.  It is run at 10 pm, so at least we won't have to deal with quite as much heat since the sun won't be out.  I have been wanting to do this one for years, and I think it will be a good way to start with Run Disney. 

Emily has family that lives in Orlando, so we will be able to spend the nights we are there at their house.  Yay for saving money!  Plus, my annual pass to Disney will still be good in May, so I won't even have to pay for tickets.  Emily will get a pretty good discount on park tickets since we are in the race, plus there is an after party at Animal Kingdom after the race so we will be able to ride several of the rides there that night.

So far the hardest part of this process has been naming our team!  We worked together on Thursday night and spent every second that we could trying to think of a creative name.  We wanted it to be something Disney or Everest related and racked our brains trying to come up with something.  I was so proud of one of my ideas---"Happily Everest After"---but we decided that it sounded to much like we were getting married!  Ha ha!  Then I was really stuck on trying to make something work by combing "forever" and "Everest" into "Foreverest"!  Finally, after lots of thinking by both of us, we decided on "Whistle While You Run."  At least we stayed with a Disney theme!  When I went online to register our team yesterday, though, I almost had a crisis when I realized the "Whistle While You Run" was ONE LETTER too long!!  So, I had to compromise with "Whistle While U Run".  Now, we just need to start working on what we will wear!

Tomorrow is the NFC Championship game in the Dome!!  I am so excited for the game and can't wait to be there.  The Zac Brown Band is singing the national anthem (yay!) and P.O.D. will be the halftime entertainment.  Both of those things make me even more excited.  I am so happy that they decided to have a halftime show that will keep the mood in the Dome pumped up!  Last week, we watched what seemed like thousands of kids throwing footballs one by one, with the most monotone sounding announcer saying all their names, ages, etc.  Not so entertaining!  My biggest hope (besides the Falcons winning) is that Samuel L. Jackson will be back in person to yell at us to "Rise Up"!  I mean, he can't still be busy with Django Unchained, right?  We shall see!

We Did It!!

The Falcons finally won a playoff game!!  The game was a rollercoaster ride, but we had so much fun.  My dad went with us and we'll all be heading back next Sunday for the NFC Championship!  Fingers crossed that we can beat up on San Francisco---they will be a tough team to beat.  What an emotional day for Atlanta!  The crowd was so loud and crazy during the whole game.  Seeing Tony Gonzalez cry at the end was so wonderful!  I loved watching Arthur Blank kiss Matt Bryant after he made the game winning field goal.  The whole day was so much fun, but I wish Atlanta would not make us worry down till the last second every time!!

Here is a picture of all the Rise Up flags waving at kickoff.  So great to see all that red in the Dome!!
We did have some Seattle fans sitting right in front of us, so the victory was even sweeter after listening to them think they had the game won!  Apparently I cheered so hard that I ended up with a bruise on the palm of my hand!  Crazy!  And I did get hit in the head with a beer bottle right as we scored that all important field goal, but it was OK because we had just won!!  People were beyond excited!

So far, my exercise is going good!  I am currently doing three programs at home: Couch 2 5K (9 weeks), Jillian Michaels Body Revolution (90 days), and Step 360 (90 days).  I am enjoying all three.  I'm happy to say that my knee is holding up through the running.  I am now in Week 2 of my running program.  The KT tape seems to be working.  It has stayed on for over a week so far.  I'm planning on changing out my tape tonight because it is getting a little raggedy.  And, I really love the Step 360.  It is a great workout and really good for my joints.  I highly recommend this product!

I've been doing a little more cooking off of Pinterest again!  Today I made roasted chick peas and they are yummy!  All you do is take a 15.5 oz can of garbanzo beans. 

Drain and rinse them well.
In a bowl, mix with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and 1 Tbsp olive oil.  Mix together and place on baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.  Bake at 450 for 15 minutes.  Shake the peas around and cook for 15 more minutes.  Enjoy!

I also am making skinny chicken enchiladas and skinny Mexican rice for dinner tonight.  We will see how those taste!

Sour Patch Grapes

I love candy, so when I found this recipe on Pinterest for Sour Patch Grapes, I had to try them.  They were so incredibly easy to make and are delicious!  And, they are really pretty!

You can use any flavor of Jell-O, but I chose to use Melon Fusion.  All you do is wash the grapes, leaving them wet.  Then, I poured some of the Jell-O mix into a small bowl.  I put about two grapes at a time into the bowl of mix and just shook it around to coat the grapes.  The Pinterest post I read said to put some of the mix on a plate and to use your fingers or a spoon to roll the grapes around.  I found that using a small bowl was much easier.  I ended up using the whole small box of Jell-O for one bag of grapes.  The original post said to refrigerate the grapes for at least an hour.  I actually put them in the freezer for about an hour so that they were really cold, but not frozen.  Yummy!! 

It's Time...

In the words of my favorite Falcons fan Samuel L. Jackson, "This is OUR time, Atlanta.  We've been knocking on the door and now it's time to blow it up!!"  It's playoff time and I cannot wait for Sunday in the Georgia Dome!  RISE UP ATLANTA!

I LOVE everything about the Falcons and going to games. I will never lose the excitement I feel everytime I am at a game. I frequently have tears in my eyes or my hands are shaking just simply from being overwhelmed with emotion!   If you have never been to a game in the Georgia Dome, then you are really missing out!  Try not to get chill bumps when this plays at kickoff:

Now imagine how excited I was last year at the homeopener against Philadelphia when Samuel L. Jackson surprised everyone at the Dome and came on the field to tell us to "Rise Up" in person!!  Wow---I have never heard the crowd go more crazy than that moment!

I have lots of "favorites" at the games and with the Falcons in general.  I pretty much will at some point say that everything is my favorite, OK?!?  But here is a list of my favorites (in no particular order):

1.  The moment right before the Falcons take the field and they show on the big screen the players walking out of the locker room into the tunnel.  This one never gets old!  This is definitely a tears in my eyes moment.

2.  Watching the Falcons warm up to "In the Air Tonight" by Phil Collins.  They do this at every game and I love watching to see which player(s) can't resist breaking into the "Mike Tyson this is my favorite part routine"!  Hilarious!

3.  Seeing several of the players kneeling in the end zone to pray during all the chaos of the seconds before kickoff.  And also, seeing players from both team meet and pray in the center of the field after the game.

4.  Anything Asante Samuel does.  Seriously I love that guy!  He has brought so much heart to this team.

5.  When Sean Weatherspoon makes an awesome play and we get to all yell "Spoon!" while making the motion of eating something with a spoon!

6.  Watching the team get pumped up during warmups, including lots of dancing!  And, noticing how Roddy White NEVER gets in the huddle with the rest of the team.  He always walks around the outside.

7.  Arthur Blank.  Period.  He asked Cadence to marry him when she met him at training camp.  She was the child running after him saying, "Mr. Blank! Mr. Blank!"  I sure do wish she had said yes!  He is such a good owner and has done so much for the Falcons.  His life story is very interesting.  AND, he is a runner. I love this quote from him.

8.  The videos they made this year to get the crowd LOUD when the defense is on the field.  They show different defensive players telling us to make some noise.  And it works!  There is also one for when the offense is on the field telling us to be quiet.  That one is actually the funniest!

9.  The ohohohoh song!!  Ahh this is a good one---you don't understand my excitement when this plays!!
10.  Anytime we make it through a game without doing a wave.  Yes, I am a wave hater.  My main problem is that this should be reserved from boring old baseball games with fans are watching game number 2,343 of the year and they are 6 hours into a game and it's only the 7th inning :)  (I don't like baseball--buy a time clock and control that mess!)  At a football game, a wave ends up having the crowd get loud at times that we shouldn't be.  And it's dumb, anyway.

11.  Roddy White.  He is my all-time favorite Falcon.  He was the first player that I really starting following and loving.  And he has changed so much---he used to get in fights all the time (Rowdy Roddy) but he is better about that now.  He is an awesome receiver and I love to watch him play. This is my favorite picture of Matt Ryan and Roddy White.
12.  The drumline.  I think that the Falcons drumline is awesome and love to watch them play!

13.  Leaving the Dome after a big win (that happened a lot this season!!).  There is lots of excitment and chants going on as we all file out.

14.  Thomas Decoud.  This video says enough!

15.  Listening to the next game on the way home in the car!

16.  Everything that goes into game day!  Adrenaline rush and excitment all day long!

Now go on this little tangent with me quickly.  I'm beginning to like Cam Newton and that's crazy!  I have not liked him for so long, plus now he plays in our division so I have more reason not to like him.  But these 3 commercials have changed my mind.  Poundcake.  French Fries.
Hilarious! Love the "Cam cam!"

I'm sure that I will think of a thousand more things that I love about the Falcons.  This is a good start!  I am beyond excited for the game on Sunday and hope we keep on our road to the SuperBowl.  Thank goodness for "Dome" Field advantage.  The crowd is not going to make this easy on Seattle.  Atlanta is encouraging all of us to get in our seats early and be LOUD!  I know that I will be!

Rise Up Atlanta!!

Catching Up

Whew!  We are back into the swing of school at our house.  Cadence started back to first grade and Mason back to radiology tech classes.  Because of Mason's clinical schedules, I have been working a crazy schedule of on one night, off one night, and repeat.  Between packing lunches for all of us, doing homework, trying to sleep, and working 12 hour shifts, I am tired already!  So this post will be a mix of all kinds of things I've been meaning to write about!

I am excited to say that I started back exercising this week!  I'm planning on working out at home for awhile before heading back to the gym.  Mainly because my workout clothes are all mostly too small and I would rather lose weight at home first instead of having to buy new clothes for the gym!  I started the Couch 2 5K (C25K) program and also I started over doing Jillian Michael's Body Revolution.  I had previously made it through 6 weeks of Body Revolution and loved it so I am glad to be back at it.  So far the running is going good, and I love have a C25K app on my phone.  It's mostly walking with a little bit of jogging mixed in.  My knee is starting to wake up and voice it's opinion about me running.  I bought some KT Tape and plan on using that to help.  If you haven't seen KT Tape, check out their website.  Very cool kinesiology tape in fun colors and very helpful explanations of how to tape for all kinds of aches and pains.  The tape stays on for 2 weeks at a

Macon is having a Mud Run on March 16th as part of the Cherry Blossom Festival Events (yay it's almost Cherry Blossom time--the absolute BEST time to live in Macon).  I have registered and plan to run with some friends from work.  I can't wait--it looks like tons of fun.  And it conveniently is happening right as I should finish C25K.

I also happened across a great fitness deal.  I never watch the news, but last week as I was taking down the Christmas tree I had put the TV on Good Morning America.  They were doing a lot of talking about health and fitness and had special deals on products for that day only.  I saw a product that Gaiam was selling for half price!  With shipping costs, it came to $67.99, which was nice since Mason's mom had given me a $70 VISA gift card for Christmas!  It came today and I can't wait to use it tomorrow!
They fail to mention that part of the workout is inflating the two rings!  You can deflate the rings some to make the platform even more unstable as you get stronger.  It seems to be very good quality.

I can hardly move because of this lady:
But I do love Jillian Michaels and am so excited that she has returned to the Biggest Loser!!  I absolutely love that show.  Dolvett is my favorite, but I am glad to have Jillian back, too!  Anna Kournawhatever was a huge FAIL as a trainer.  That season was annoying.  I love the idea of having the kids on the show this time around.  Cadence loves watching the show with us, too!

Today was a big day---Cadence got her hair chopped off!!

Her hair looks so cute--this picture doesn't even show how cute!  And it is such a relief that not have to comb out all that thick hair!  Here's how long it had gotten:
We also did a little redecorating in Cadence's room today.  I will take pics and share soon!

Forget what I said before!

Forget almost everything that I have said in my previous posts!!  I say almost everything---one thing remains:  I WILL run the Disney Princess Half Marathon next February.  But, I've just changed my path to get there.  I previously had decided to go back on Medifast to help me lose the weight that I had gained back after ending Medifast a little over a year ago.  I started Medifast on the 31st and quickly changed my mind after 4 days.  Why?  O. M. G.  The headache.  I knew that I would feel rough for the first few days as my body went into ketosis.  I've been there before.  But this time around, the headache was unbearable. 

Maybe since I'm currently being treated for chronic headache/occipital neuralgia things were worse this time around.  I don't know but I know that I couldn't take it!  I got a headache the second day on plan and it was totally expected.  I just didn't expect the intensity of it.  I had to work that night and wasn't sure how I would make it through 12 hours of work.  Part of my mistake was trying to start Medifast when I only had shakes on hand to eat for 2 days.  Five shakes a day didn't sound too bad until I tried it.  It became harder and harder to get the shakes down even though I like them on a normal day.  Still, I made it through the night of work.  There was no way I could stomach another shake when I got home, so I simply ate some protein and went to bed, hoping that my shipment of Medifast food would arrive before I woke up.

After sleeping, I felt a little better but still have that horrendous headache.  I was happy to find my boxes of Medifast food waiting for me, but found it was hard to even get any food down since I was still feeling so shaky and nauseated along with my pain.  I took an Imitrex (med I take when I have a migraine) and eventually I began to feel better.  I made it through the rest of the day on plan and felt that I had made it through the worst.

I was wrong.  Very wrong.  Thursday (Day 4) had so much promise to be better.  I finally had different foods to eat than just shakes and I was past the 3 days that were so rough last time I did this.  By about noon that day, I started to feel a headache coming on.  Now it is not unusual for me to have a headache.  I actually usually have one every single day.  But this headache was different.  It hurt in a different place and even laying down would not help.  I had an appointment at the pain clinic that I go to for treatment of my already chronic headaches.  I was going as a followup to an occipital nerve block that I had received in December.  I had received about 10 days of relief with that block.  As I sat in the exam room and waited to see the nurse practitioner, my headache got worse and worse.  I considered laying down on the exam table while I waited.  I mean, I WAS in a pain clinic--surely other people have been in pain while being there before!

Ok, here is where most people will think that I am crazy!  I didn't even mention how much pain that I was in while I was at the PAIN clinic.  I have my reasons.  I really do.  First of all, I really knew that my headache had to be from my diet.  Also, this headache was on a different side of my head than it usually is, so I really didn't want to go down the road of working up that side of my head after I have been through so much with the left side!  So, I just discussed my normal pain with the NP and didn't mention that I felt like I was dying.  That's the thing about dealing with chronic pain that sometimes people don't understand.  I can totally act like I'm not hurting when I am miserable and I think that is why my road to relief has been so long.  Getting someone to believe me is never easy. 

I left the pain clinic with an appointment for another occipital nerve block and a prescription for a muscle relaxer to be taken at bedtime each day.  I also left feeling like I wanted to curl up in my car and make the pain stop.  But I had to drive home---the pain center is about 45 minutes from my house.  First, I had to stop at the hospital where I work to pick up my prescription for my Imitrex.  I knew I at least needed to try to take something for my headache.  It took everything I had to make it to the pharmacy and then I had to wait about 30 min while they filled my prescription for the muscle relaxers.  That's the thing about my insurance through the hospital.  Any medicine that is taken on a daily basis can only be filled at the employee pharmacy at the hospital.  I miss the drive through at CVS.  Well, actually I really miss my daddy filling them at his pharmacy, but that doesn't work since I don't live in my hometown any more. 

Finally, finally, finally I made it home.  I took an Imitrex and went straight to my bed.  Usually laying down while help with my pain but this headache wasn't having it.  I was miserable.  I considered going to the urgent care center but finally took a Lortab that I had from previous dental surgery.  Relief!  The headache finally eased off.  I knew right then and there that I could not continue Medifast.  Anything that made my body feel that bad isn't right for me.  I have spent too much of my life fighting headaches to do something to myself to give me one.  I also knew that I was kidding myself by thinking going back on Medifast would be the cure because diets end.  And when they do, the weight will come back.  I know that I need to simply make lifestyle changes.  I KNOW how to eat healthy.  I just don't usually do it.  But I know that I can.  I also know that any plan that doesn't allow me to eat fruit or nuts and restricts my veggie intake is not good for me.  So, after allowing myself a decidedly unhealthy meal from ChickFilA, I have been just making healthy choices. 

I know that I won't be perfect, but I know that I have to try.  I constantly think in my head "How did I let myself get like this?  How did I let it go this far?"  And I am extremely overwhelmed at the journey I have ahead of me.  I know that to get to my goal of running the half marathon I have to lose the weight too. 

I am at peace with my decision.  And I lost 3 lbs the first week!