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. ūüôā

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!

Cool App: Get Paid to Work Out – Seriously!

About a year ago, I heard rumblings about an app for iPhones that would pay you to work out.

Whaaaaaat?! Seriously?

Yes, seriously.¬†¬†But¬†as amazing¬†as that sounded, I didn’t join. Why? Well, at the time, I was not a regular gym-goer and didn’t think I would be anytime soon. My reasons¬†excuses¬†were¬†limited time and¬†lack of¬†motivation. And, I’m not alone: these reasons show up in many, many articles as two of the top reasons why 70% of Americans do not exercise regularly (see here, here, here and here).

However, because of my crazy resolution for 2013, running has become a part of my almost-daily life. Solving the limited time issue has involved waking up at the ungodly hour of 4:30 am and getting to the gym by 5:00 am. I’m exercised and back home around the time I’d usually wake up¬†– so I have no chance to make excuses¬†why I can’t go to the gym¬†later in the day.

Now, the motivation¬†issue…that’s the tough one for me. While the half-marathon has surely given me motivation to run now, I do think about what will happen after the race is over. In an effort to mitigate that risk before it rears its ugly head, I signed up for the above-mentioned app, called GymPact.

In a nutshell, GymPact is an app for iPhones and Androids that rewards users for exercising Рand does quite the opposite when a workout is missed.

What are the rewards and punishments? Cold, hard cash.

That’s right: you can earn money for working out.

Here’s how it works: first, download the GymPact app and sign up. The app will ask you three questions when you create an account:

1. How many times a week will you commit to working out?¬†A workout must be done either at a gym, or through the Runkeeper¬†app, and must last at least 30 minutes. The more you commit, the more you can earn. Since I’m just getting into the rhythm of the gym, I committed¬†to three workouts per week, which pays on average $2.10 per week. Four workouts typically pay $2.80 per week, while five can pay about $3.50 per week. It’s not enough that I’ll be able to quit my job (wouldn’t that be grand??), but it’s something. And if you stay with this for a year, that’s over $100 you’ve earned for getting exercise. The money is deposited into a Paypal¬†account, so you’ll need to sign up for one if you don’t have one yet. Once you hit $10, you can withdraw the funds from your Paypal account.

2. How much¬†would you¬†like to “wager” for a missed workout? Here is where you set what your monetary punishment will be if you miss a workout (or two or three). You can wager up to $100 per workout, but I went for the lowest amount, $5 (I may be motivated but I’m not crazy). This is a per missed-workout penalty, so if you committed to three workouts¬†and miss two¬†of them, at¬†$5 a workout, you’re looking at a $10 charge to your credit card (see next step). You have until Sunday at midnight to log a workout.

3. This is the scary step – you have to enter a credit card. The deposits in Step 1 are made to a Paypal¬†account, however, the withdrawls¬†from Step 2 are made to a credit card. Before signing up for GymPact, I read some posts by bloggers who were¬†hesitant¬†about this app, because of this step. However, GymPact has been featured in the New York Times, NPR, the Boston Globe, CNN, abc News and many more. This provided me comfort that it’s a legit app and that there would be a resolution if anything were to happen.

What I think so far…

I’ve used GymPact for two full weeks now, and I’ve hit my commitment of at least 3 workouts per week for both weeks. At $0.87, the first week’s¬†reward¬†was smaller than I thought, but I figure it’s because a lot of folks are still keeping New Year’s resolutions. Last week’s was slightly better: I pulled in $0.96. Still not huge, but honestly, the rewards haven’t been my motivator. I thought for sure that earning money for working out would be my main motivation for going to the gym, but¬†surprisingly, the¬†thought of LOSING money has kept me on schedule much more than getting a dollar or two. That’s money I work hard for – there’s no way I’m letting it go that easy.

If you need some motivation¬†to get to the gym, or if you already regularly go to the gym and just want to make a little money, I think GymPact is worth checking out. It’s really helped me plan my¬†workouts for the¬†week – and kept honest and motivated about going to the gym.

Has anyone else tried this app? I’d love to hear about your experiences! And if anyone wants to sign up – I’m here to answer any questions that I can!

Cool App – July 2012

Today is July 25th, and that can only mean one thing: Christmas is¬†just 5 months away!¬†¬†I know, I know: it’s been around 90 degrees lately, so it might seem crazy to be thinking about the holidays right now, but¬†they will be here before we know it. I’ve always found that one of the most stressful parts of the holidays is coming up with ideas and shopping for gifts, which is why I¬†am stoked about an app I found¬†that helps streamline the gift-giving / shopping process. It’s called “The Christmas List” and costs $0.99 in the iTunes App Store (unfortunately, I couldn’t find if this app was available for other smart phones). I wanted to share some of the features with you. I was not paid to do this – this is purely my own opinion. Hope you enjoy!

Once you download the Christmas List app, you can set up different groups of people (family, friends, co-workers, etc.) for whom you buy gifts.

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You can then add members to each group, complete with a profile picture:

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If you’re like me, you randomly¬†think¬†of fantastic, wonderful, perfect, amazing gift ideas¬†for people…and then you forget them before you have the chance to purchase said gift. Annoying. With this app, you can add gift ideas and budgets to each member, so as long as you have your phone with you when brilliance strikes, no more genius ideas lost.

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You can even add a picture of the gift if you see it online or in a store before you’re ready to purchase.

Once you start shopping, this app allows you to track purchases. This is HUGE for me. I like to start shopping in the early fall: this is great for my budget, but bad because I tend to forget what I bought months later. Oops.

Another cool feature Рyou can share a gift list with others via Facebook or email. So, if my mother-in-law needs gift ideas for Ryan, I can email her the list of gift ideas I set up for him.

I’ve¬†gotten a jump-start on a¬†little Christmas shopping, so this app is getting mileage from me already. And just in case my phone ends up in the wrong hands (Ryan and Kendall – I’m looking at you), the app has an optional password lock.

If a free app is more your thing, try the “Christmas Gifts List Free” app. This app doesn’t allow you to create groups and is supported by ads, but if neither of those things bother you, it’s a good app to try.

P.S. My Mario Badescu samples came in the mail. I’ve been trying them out all week and must report that my fear has been confirmed: I love them. These products are amazing. The seaweed night cream is my favorite so far. I swear that stuff transforms my skin into silk overnight. Truly amazing. I see a Christmas gift for myself in my future… ūüôā