The Biggest Winner!

For some unknown reason, I have never watched The Biggest Loser. And for another unknown reason, I started watching this past season. It didn’t take long until I was HOOKED.

This season focused on childhood obesity and challenging America to lose excess weight. While I cheered on most of the contestants the whole season, I just couldn’t get behind a few. For example, whatever-her-name-was who quit 5 minutes into the first workout made me pretty mad. I know a few people who would give anything to be on that show, and you’re going to quit within the first 5 minutes? Not cool…

And don’t even get me started on Gina. Seriously, don’t get me started.

But for the most part, I loved all of Season 14’s contestants. They made me cry every.single.episode, and Monday night’s live finale was no different. I was sad that Joe or Lisa didn’t win the At Home prize (and super annoyed that Gina did), but I was THRILLED that Danni was named the Biggest Loser! She has been my favorite the entire season, and my jaw literally dropped when I saw her walk out. Look at her!

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She looks unbelievable, and as my friend Lindsey observed, “She has ‘Jillian Michaels’ arms!”. Yes, she does. And I’m so jealous.

Congrats, Danni! You literally worked your butt off and you deserve all of the attention you’re getting! And that nice check for a quart of a million dollars. 🙂

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Empathy

I have the sweetest, coolest, most caring sister in the entire world. Not to mention she’s gorgeous – I mean, look at her:

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All that being said: Kendall made me cry last weekend.

Here is what happened: Kendall works as an RN at the Cleveland Clinic and shared this video with me last weekend. The Clinic’s CEO showed this to employees at a staff meeting in February. The video, entitled “Empathy”, is a beautiful, but shocking reminder that everyone has a struggle, a heartbreak, a triumph, a burden, a reason to celebrate.

I was sobbing by the end of it – and a day hasn’t gone by since then that I haven’t thought about its message. So would I treat someone differently if I knew what they were going through? Yes, yes, a hundred times, yes!

So, thanks for sharing, Kendall – I’m glad you made me cry. That video is slowly making me a more emphatic person.

The video is below – and is definitely worth a view. Just be warned: if you have a heart, you will probably cry.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDDWvj_q-o8

And because you’ll need something (ANYTHING) to make you feel happy after watching that, here are the 30 Happiest Facts of All-Time. Number 1, 9 and 29 are my favorites 🙂

Happy St. Patrick’s Day (Almost)!

I’m not Irish, but St. Patty’s Day will always make me smile. While I don’t participate in the craziness like I did when I was in college, I still remember those days vividly. Cleveland has one of the biggest St. Patty’s day parades / festivals in the country (over 500,000 people were there last year!), and I got to spend several with some of my best friends from the ‘Berg.

St. Patty's Day 2006 - our senior year of college!
St. Patty’s Day 2006 – our senior year of college!
St. Patty's Day 2007 - freezing weather didn't stop us from celebrating!
St. Patty’s Day 2007 – freezing weather didn’t stop us from celebrating!

These days, March 17 is extra special to me, because it’s the day my darling Sarge was born. Happy 3rd birthday, Sargie!

Smile, birthday boy!
Smile, birthday boy!


I spent today working (not fun) and then running (again, not fun), so I’m off to celebrate with my friend and fellow CPA (and blogger), Amy. Are martinis Irish? Well, they are today!

Hope everyone has a safe and happy St. Patty’s Day!

Wintery day book reviews

Mother Nature can be so cruel: she teased us with nearly 70 degree weather and sunshine last weekend, but has given us rain (and snow!) all week.

Not cool.

I don’t know about you, but cold days make me want to be under a blanket, curled up with a book. I’ve read three so far this year – so I thought I would share my [very] amateur review of them. I’d be really interested if anyone has read these – and if your thoughts are different or similar to mine!

[Note – these reviews are entirely my opinion – so please don’t take offense if you feel differently. Pretty please!]

1. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs – 2 out of 5 stars. I had such high hopes for this book. I have a slight obsession with circuses, carnivals and all the wonderfully odd people who inhabit them, so maybe my sky-high expectations unfairly set this book up for failure – but nevertheless, it failed me. The beginning was great: the story was intriguing and the pictures of the peculiar children really made the author’s words come alive. But it quickly went downhill from there. The middle of the book was tolerable at best, and by the end, I was skipping entire pages just to get through it. As it usually is, my main objection to the book was the characters and how they interacted. Dialogue was painfully forced and unrealistic, the climax of the book was drawn out and contrived and the writing left plenty to be desired. Something that really bothered me is that we were expected to empathize with characters we were just introduced to – and the fact that some of these characters were quite obnoxious didn’t help. This is a teen book, so maybe a younger audience would enjoy it. But my personal opinion: pass. But do take a few minutes when you’re in a book store next to check out the pictures – they are historical photos and super cool.

2. All the Pretty Horses, by Cormac McCarthy – 4 out of 5 stars. Another great book by my favorite author. This story about two young men who leave Texas on horse-back and cross the border into the wild land of Mexico is gripping and wonderfully written. McCarthy has an amazing talent of pulling readers in and developing relationships with the characters. This is a story of love, friendship and the things people will go through for their loved ones and friends. Parts of the book wove in Spanish dialogue (they are in Mexico, after all), however, it was done in such a way that I, someone who knows very little Spanish, was able to follow what was going on. That’s brilliant writing. One side note: whenever I recommend a McCarthy book, I warn people that he does not use quotation marks for dialogue. It doesn’t bother me at all, but it can sometimes be confusing. But other than that, this is a book I would definitely recommend.

3. Night Circus, by Erin Morgansteen – 3 out of 5 stars. As I mentioned above, I love reading about circuses. I loved Water for Elephants, so when I heard about Night Circus, I figured I would enjoy it as well. My verdict? Eh. I’m really so-so about this one. The writing was definitely better than Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, however, I still thought the author struggled with the same character development issues, particularly involving the story’s love interests. The descriptions of the circus and the letters included in the book were fantastic. The magic and illusions around which the book centered were exactly what I was looking for, but close to the end, the author lost me. Maybe I need to exercise my imagination a little, but for me, it was just too far out there.

I’m reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn right now. I certainly hope the book gets better, because as of right now, I’m not a fan. Has anyone else read this? Please tell me the characters actually become likable human beings…

My latest obsession and other randoms

Are you all tired of reading about races, signing up for races and training for races? If so, I apologize. I know running has taken over this blog lately, but it’s very hard to not blog about the things going on in my life right now. My world is mostly revolving around taxes, sleeping and running (in that order), and since I’m pretty sure blogging about taxes and sleeping would make you all run away screaming and/or bore you to death, I’ve chosen to post about running. So…here’s another. 🙂

While I was reading my usual blogs the other night, I ran across one post about an e-newsletter called Blood, Sweat and Cheers (BSC). As the blogger put it:

“BSC is a fun-loving email newsletter packed with off-the-wall activities, fitness events, workouts, and other ways to make the everyday more interesting”

I was immediately interested, so I signed up for the newsletter. It didn’t take long until I was sucked into the site. I swear, almost every article intrigued me. And once I’m intrigued, there’s no turning back. The articles I read included “Wine Country Races”, “5 Worst Fitness Myths” and “The Best Ale Trails”, among many, many others.

Tough Mudder and The Color Run move over – this site has some of the craziest (in a good way) races I’ve ever heard of! And the fitness tips and resources are great.

Are you a fan of having fun, enjoying adult cocktails and challenging your body (separately or all at the same time)? Me too. So, if you’re interested, you can sign up for the newsletter here.

And while we’re talking about crazy-themed races, I want to give a shout-out for a race happening in Central Ohio this summer. The brother of one of my best friends, Katielynn, is one of the organizers of the The Run of Nightmares, happening August 17, 2013. I support my friends in anything they do, so I told Katielynn I’d run it with her. I’m already having heart palpitations thinking about this race; it sounds exactly like the stuff my nightmares are made of. But anything in the name of friendship!

You're lucky I love you, Katielynn...
You’re lucky I love you, Katielynn…

And finally, can you all make a little wish that the weather for Northeast Ohio improves before Sunday? My running buddy / dear friend Katie and I are running a St. Patty’s day race, and right now, the weather is looking pretty brrrrrrrr:

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If not for us, I hope the weather improves for the hundreds of thousands of people who will be in downtown Cleveland on Sunday. It’s not as fun to celebrate the day when everyone is Irish in the freezing cold. Fingers crossed for 40+ degrees and sunshine!

I’m a little mad at the Olympics…

I love the Olympics. I really, really do. Every two years I get Olympics fee-vah. I even had a stitch named in honor of my family members who served in the military sewn into the US flag carried into the opening ceremony last summer.

But something happened about a month ago that threatens to tarnish my view on the Olympics. I was skimming through the Wall Street Journal one morning and came across an article about wrestling being dropped from the Olympics games (the online version is here). My first reaction was “How can they do that?! Are they NUTS?!”, but before I jumped to any conclusions, I read the whole article, just to see what in the world the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was thinking.

Before I go in to my mini-rant on this, let me provide a little background on the Olympic games – and how certain sports are dropped. The Olympics traditionally have 28 games or sports, but in 2001, the IOC decided that only 25 of those events would be reserved for the “core” sports (like track and field), and the other three spots would be for new or revived games. In the past, BMX biking and beach volleyball were two of the “new” sports added, both of which have fan bases composed of mostly young people.

In 2009, golf and rugby were approved to be added to the games in 2016, and then, on February 12, 2013, the IOC announced that it would be dropping wrestling from the 2020 games, and that the sport would have to join the rest of the new sports vying for a bid in the 2020 games (including baseball/softball, karate, squash and roller sport, among others).

Apparently, the issue is that wrestling doesn’t appeal to a younger audience. The IOC cites low media coverage and a lack of “global popularity” as why the sport was dropped. As you can imagine, the decision has sparked outrage through wrestling communities around the world.

Let me start off my commentary by saying I belong in one of these wrestling worlds by marriage only. My husband, Ryan, wrestled all through middle and high school and was a collegiate Division III All-American when he wrestled at Heidelberg University. My father-in-law coached Ryan through high school, and my mother-in-law and sister-in-law are huge fans of the sport. That family lives and breathes wrestling. My family, on the other hand, is a basketball family. Me, my parents, sister, uncles, cousins, etc. all played the sport, and man, do we love us some basketball. Therefore, wrestling never really existed in my world until I met Ryan. I still don’t really “get” the sport and given the choice, I probably wouldn’t choose to watch it.

I bring that up because I don’t want it to look like my outrage over the IOC’s decision about wrestling is about Ryan and all of his wrestling achievements. I do not think that it’s the greatest sport ever, nor am I a wrestle-or-die type of fan.

I am, however, a big believer in tradition.

As one of the eight games played in the original Olympics, I think wrestling has rightfully earned its spot in the games. And it should stay that way. I actually find it quite hard to believe that wrestling has a smaller fan base than fencing or archery. Maybe that’s because my husband and his friends and family are glued to the TV during the wrestling events, but even my dad gets into it, so it can’t just be all retired wrestlers who watch.

And it’s not like wrestling has low participation. With 18 contests with at least 18 athletes from 71 different countries competing in each contest, that’s over 320 wrestlers. By comparison, my beloved basketball had only 12 countries participate. Wrestling is arguably a sport in which men and women from all over the world participate – and one the world would surely miss.

My last point is one I wasn’t even sure I wanted to bring up, as I’m sure it would spark some outrage in readers out there. But I need to say it: I truly believe that the athletic ability it takes to compete in some of these new sports (BMX biking, for example) is NOWHERE near the athletic ability required to succeed in wrestling. No offense, bikers of the world – I certainly respect anyone who competes at the Olympic level, but come on. Let’s be honest with ourselves.

Regardless, I think it’s a shame that the IOC came to this decision. It seems to me that lately we are so quick to replace “old” and “boring” things with “new” and “exciting”. Probably too quick to do so. Wrestling is one of the oldest sports in history, and if it doesn’t belong in the Olympic games, then BMX biking and roller derby certainly do not. New and exciting has its appeal, I will admit, but perhaps that shouldn’t be the biggest deciding factor when selecting games for the Olympics, one of our world’s oldest traditions.

If you’re interested, there is a petition started by team of wrestling advocates, including the governor of Iowa, to keep the tradition of wrestling in the Olympics.

I sincerely hope that the IOC comes to the right decision when picking the games for 2020, and in my opinion, the “right decision” is staying with tradition by keeping wrestling in the Olympic games.

Remember that one time I broke a world record?

That’s right – last night I, along with my friend Amy and the rest of the fans at the University of Akron’s men’s basketball game last night, worked together to break the Guinness World Record for most people wearing paper hats.

Yes, that is a world record. It was previously held by a company in Japan.

That is, until last night when Akron shattered the record!

Not ones to miss an opportunity to break a world record, Amy and I partook in the festivities. Do we look cool or what?

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To make the night a complete success, U of A beat Miami University to claim the regular season MAC title. Go Zips!

Finally, in other news that I’m very, totally, crazily excited about: we found out yesterday that Jimmy Buffet will be performing in Nashville the night of our half-marathon. Even better: one of the perks of running in the race is dibs on the tickets! I didn’t think I could be more excited about this Nashville trip, but as it turns out, the promise of Parrotheads and margaritas was all it took.