Learn something new every day

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I am a huge fan of turning my car into a virtual classroom, and I regularly listen to podcasts or audiobooks on my commute rather than music. I find that it makes traffic a little bit more bearable, and helps me to never stop learning.

If you’ve never taken advantage of an Audible free trial, it’s a great place to start. You’ll get your first audiobook free, and can cancel after the 30 days if you’re not digging it. Your local library may also offer a collection of audiobooks that you can e-borrow for free, so check out that resource, too! You can learn more about two of my favorite self-development books here. Some of my other favorite Audible listens have included this book about the Zodiac Killer and any John Grisham novel ever (I’m kind of obsessed with learning about law and crime).

If paying for audiobooks isn’t your thing, podcasts are definitely the way to go. They’re typically 30 minutes to two hours long, which is awesome for those of us who like a variety of content. Bonus: they’re totally free and you can set it up so that new episodes auto download to your phone. Here’s a few of my go-to podcasts:

Undisclosed || If you loved Serial, you’ll love this spin off series that includes a little bit more legal discussion. This season, they’re analyzing the case of Joey Watkins, who has been convicted of murder in Rome, GA.

Women, Work, and Worth || If you’re a long-time reader of this blog, you know how much I love Mavenly.co. Women, Work, and Worth is a great resource for young women trying to figure out their purpose and live their best life. Kate does a great job of recruiting expert guests to share their knowledge. Fo’ free.

The Dave Ramsey Show || I’ve become just a little bit obsessed with becoming a financial boss this year. I love how real Dave keeps it, and that there’s three hours of new content every weekday, which means I can listen to parts that apply to me and fast forward through ones that don’t (like when he’s advising on how to teach kids about money).

Radiolab Presents: More Perfect || This is a podcast miniseries about the Supreme Court. They do an incredible job talking about high impact Court cases and giving insight into how our nation’s most important part of the Judicial System runs.

The Tim Ferriss Show || I love Tim Ferriss’ podcast simply because it’s created for people like me who love to learn. There’s a wider variety of content than many of the other podcasts I listen to, but I especially love when he tackles health and fitness topics. All-in-all, a great listen for lifelong learners that will inspire you to research a little more in your free time.

Two easy ways to better Adult today

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Wednesday. Humpday. The best day to kick off a brand new, very adult habit. Lucky for you, I’m sharing two super easy ways to better adult today.

Build yourself a budget.

When I was growing up, my dad had me reconcile my bank account – on paper! – each month. We compared my checkbook ledger to my bank statement to make sure that it lined up, all the way down to the very last cent. Clearly, my dad’s an accountant, and while he did an awesome job teaching me some financial skills, they just somehow lost their relevance during my college years and the transition to completely online banking.

The very best adult change I have made in my life this year has been getting really serious about building and maintaining a budget each month. I started listening to Dave Ramsey in January, and it turns out, he was right – when you actually write down how much you’re taking in and tell every dollar where to go, it feels like you’ve gotten a raise. Even as a teacher, it is incredible to me how much “disposable” income I have, which means that as Paul and I plan for our upcoming wedding, I start each month knowing that I can put away close to $1000 by month’s end. Seriously!

Whether you’re trying to pay off student loan or credit card debt, save for a fun trip or a down payment on a house, or figuring out if you can afford to buy those shoes you’ve been lusting over, budgeting is crucial to your financial success. I use EveryDollar, which I love because it has both a website and an app that are totally free, making it easy – and budget-friendly- to meet all of your financial goals.

Dinner like an adult.

Confession: I am 27, and closer to 30 every day, and although social media would have you believe that I’ve got this mostly figured out, learning to adult is a constant work in progress. Most of the time, I try to make healthy dinners. Lots of days we eat tacos or breakfast-for-dinner because I don’t feel like cooking. And then some days I eat lunch meat straight from the package and call it responsible because high protein. Occasionally, I have popsicles for dinner.

Dinner. The true test of adulthood.

One thing that’s been very helpful for Paul and I in making sure we’re eating well at least three nights a week has been our subscription to Hello Fresh. We love Hello Fresh because their meals are easy, quick, and healthy. We love that we get to choose our menu weekly from a selection of fun new dishes, and that all of the ingredients we need are boxed up and ready to cook.

In my opinion, what sets Hello Fresh apart from other meal order services is that it really is so easy. There hasn’t been a single meal that we couldn’t prepare, and there have been many, many recipes that we have made again on our own time. I love that we can have a few date night style dinners a week, with the added bonus of getting to cook together, while still eating food that makes us feel great.

Get $40 off your first week by using this link and my referral code: GCHAFP.

Be sure to check back here tomorrow for part II, where I’ll share my favorite way to better adult: by learning something new each day.


Four times American Olympics coverage was a little bit sexist …in the first 48 hours of the games.


Finally – the Olympics. We get to take a bit of a break from All-Politics-All-The-Time news coverage, and watch united with American pride as our athletes beat the rest of the world at everything spread goodwill and unity and world peace through epic sports feats.

…except American reporters are doing a really crappy job of covering female athletes equally. In fact, in a few situations during the first forty-eight hours of the games (news flash: that’s not that long), reporters were downright sexist.

First, NBC decided that they’ll be showing the games on delay. Which, in the age of social media, is kind of frustrating because the results will be blasted everywhere. But, okay, we get it, it’s better for ratings and for revenue to show the more popular sports during prime time. Except…. that’s not the only reason given by their Chief Marketing Officer, John Miller, who shared:

“The people who watch the Olympics are not particularly sports fans. More women watch the games than men, and for the women, they’re less interested in the result and more interested in the journey. It’s sort of like the ultimate reality show and miniseries wrapped into one. And to tell the truth, it has been the complaint of a few sportswriters. It has not been the complaint of the vast viewing public.”

Here’s the thing – he’s not wrong in saying that many people who watch the Olympics are casual sports fans. But to imply that women are less interested in the SPORT and more interested in the drama is just, well, sexist. It’s an outdated and ridiculous claim that Business Insider did a pretty good job of disproving. I guess we know why Mr. Miller is their Chief Marketing Officer and not their Chief Communications Officer.

But the media’s either ill-informed or misguided opinion of women isn’t just restricted to fans.

The Chicago Tribune rightly covered Corey Cogdell winning the bronze medal in Rio in trap shooting. On Twitter, though, they totally gaffed by tweeting her picture along with this caption:

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…to which, Twitter totally lost it, calling out the Tribune for not even listing Cogdell’s name.

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And then, there’s ESPN’s coverage of female sports. Today’s homepage on ESPN, for example, has no stories involving female athletes until about 3/4 of the way down their home page. Given Kate Ledecky’s busting her own world record in the 400 Free and the Women’s Gymnastics qualifier being yesterday (arguably one of the most popular Olympic sports), it just seems strange.

Not only that, but ESPNW published an article yesterday on how Oksana Chusovitina might be “the most incredible athlete at the Olympics,” after the 41 year old qualified for the Olympic vault final at her SEVENTH Olympics games – and they’re right. In a sport where athletes retire in their early 20s, the fact that Chusovitina is still hanging tough with kids literally less that half her age is unheard of. The sheer athleticism is unreal. And yet, ESPN felt that one of the most incredible athletes at the games should only be covered on ESPNW – a subsidy so illegitimate that it doesn’t even HAVE a TV channel – rather than on ESPN (Men) solely because Chusovitina is a woman.

Finally, who could miss the NBC reporter crediting Hungarian Katinka Hosszu’s husband for “turning her into an entirely new swimmer.” Granted, the man is also her coach, but every Olympian has coaches. Do you hear Michael Phelps’ coach getting all the credit for his breaking records or winning gold? No. Perhaps as a passing mention, but not as the reason he’s won, especially in the moment. It’s this weird double standard where women somehow aren’t as capable of being totally boss, and there must be a man behind their success.

Listen, American (male) sports reporters. While I totally get that professional female sports leagues don’t bring in the big bucks as compared to their male counterparts, the same is just not true in the Olympics. Our female athletes are just as strong, powerful, and capable as their male counterparts, and just as popular – if not more so in some cases – on screen. It’s 2016. You need to be better.


How to run a marathon without training*


Okay, I admit, the title is click bait. What we’ll really be talking about is how to run a marathon without “marathon” training. You know, the typical four days of short to moderate runs and the one dreaded long run day. I want to tell you that it’s possible to run a marathon without completing a single run over thirteen miles – and with minimal running otherwise – and still live to talk about it.

A few disclaimers:

  1. I am not a fitness professional. I followed my training from the very best fitness professionals I know over at South Baltimore Strength and Conditioning, and was incredibly happy with the outcome. If you are going to run a marathon without the typical marathon training, you should work with a fitness professional. I’d suggest Sean and Troy because, like I said, they’re the best.
  2. I was/am not training to qualify for Boston. My running philosophy has always been “not fast, not last.” I finished the 2015 Marine Corps Marathon in 4:57:28. It was the fastest I have ever run a marathon (and it was my fourth), and I came out of it uninjured and feeling pretty freakin’ great. So, again, I was not “fast,” but I was fast for me and I was still able to lift like a boss afterwards without the nagging knee injuries that had accompanied my true marathon training from earlier races.

Okay, now that the legalese is out of the way, let’s dive in.

I’m sure your first question is, “but Jen, people have been training for marathons with the long run forever. Why would you change that? Don’t you love distance running and that’s what you run marathons?” And while, yes, I love long distance racing, I really don’t love 20 mile long solo runs in the dead of summer. They’re hot, they’re a little boring, there are no fans cheering me on, and my playlist gets old (Pro tip: GirlTalk is a great way to get through long runs).

But here’s the thing: It’s accepted in the running community that you’re going to get injured training for a marathon. In fact, the American College of Sports Medicine found that anywhere between half and three quarters of first time marathoners never even make it to the start line.

Not only that, but studies show that marathon training, as prescribed in the past, doesn’t just open you up to injuries, it can also have negative implications for your immune system and your digestive system. Why? because prolonged cardiovascular stress requires your body to divert resources from other systems in order to continue to propel you forward.

Here’s what my training looks like:

A focus on strength building. Three times a week, I spend anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half in the gym focused on strength. My strength training primarily includes Olympic lifts like the snatch and clean, front and back squats, dead lifts, and bench press, as well as work with dumbbells, kettlebells, and body weight exercises like pull-ups and push-ups. Why? Strength training is essential to injury prevention. It helps to increase bone density, collagen content of connective tissues, and, of course, increases muscle strength helping to prevent muscular injury.

Adequate mobility work, prehab, and rehab. Before I started at SBSC, I had a nagging knee injury that made it painful to squat. Through working with Sean and Troy, I was able to “cure” my knee problem with some serious foam rolling of my quads and calves. All parts of our bodies are interconnected, meaning that pain in one area could be the result of an issue elsewhere. Mobility work, including stretching, rolling, mashing, etc, helps to increase flexibility and range of motion – allowing us to reach our peak physical capacity. It prevents injury because it allows your body to do what it is supposed to do, rather than lifting or running in a compromised position, thereby increasing our chance of getting injured.

High Intensity Interval Training. Using what’s seen as CrossFit style workouts, Sean’s built in multiple opportunities each week to get my heart rate in. the. zone. This past week, for example, I had a ten minute workout where I alternated 45 seconds of rowing at over 1000 calories an hour with five burpees each time the minute bell chimed. HIIT helps to build endurance, allows your body to efficiently use energy, promotes fat loss while maintaining muscle, and pushes your heart while also allowing for adequate rest.

Running, trail running, and hiking. Finally, a few times a week, I get out on the street. One day a week is an interval running day where I run a few minutes and then walk a minute for a specified number of rounds, and another day a week is a longer hiking or trail running day. Hiking and trail running are awesome because they get you outside (hello fresh air!), build muscle through hill work, and also help strengthen your ankles as your body has to work to stabilize itself on uneven ground. Bonus, longer hikes help get the mileage in in order to prepare for the mental game of 26.2 miles.

Don’t get me wrong: I LOVE long distance racing. Completing a marathon is just as much a spiritual experience for me than a physical one, and there is no feeling in the entire world quite like crossing the finish line after a 26.2 mile long trek. But it is possible to have the church-like experience of completing a marathon without sacrificing your body in the process.

If you love distance running (not just racing), but are still interested in keeping your body injury free, check out Hanson’s Marathon Method, which decreases the length of the long run.

Lessons from Miss Teen USA’s Twitter disaster

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On Saturday night, 18-year-old Karlie Hay was crowned Miss Teen USA. By midnight, the Internet had unearthed three-year-old tweets where Hay throws around the N-word like confetti. To the surprise of no one, the Internet was outraged.

By Sunday morning, Hay had issued her formal “apology” on Twitter (although it should be noted that not once did she use the words “sorry” or “apologize”), using multiple tweets from her previous Miss Texas Teen USA account to share, “Several years ago, I had many personal struggles and found myself in a place that is not representative of who I am as a person. I admit that I have used language publicly in the past which I am not proud of and that there is no excuse for. Through hard work, education, and thanks in large part to the sisterhood that I have come to know through pageants, I am proud to say that I am today a better person. I am honored to hold this title and I will use this platform to promote the values of the Miss Universe Organization, and my own, that recognize the confidence, beauty, and perseverance of all women.”

On Sunday, the Miss Universe Organization formally announced that Hay would keep her crown and that they were supportive of her “continued growth.”

Let me be clear: the Miss Universe Organization should have removed Hay from her newly appointed position as Miss Teen USA. Immediately. There shouldn’t have been hesitation. In an era where pageantry is continually fighting to assert its relevance, crowning and then embracing a national level titleholder who is not sensitive to our nation’s charged racial climate is brand suicide. After all, how can an organization claim to be “built on a foundation of inclusion” and “celebrate diversity” if their national level spokesperson has no real understanding of the implication that her repeated and excessive use of the N-word has on the women she is meant to empower?

Hay waited until there was a chance that she would lose her crown before finding it important enough to remove those tweets from her account. If she had truly grown, if she had truly learned, those tweets would have been deleted long before they were used to “out” her in the Twittersphere. She is incredibly privileged.

And, at the same time, she is just like many other kids her age, and their generational misunderstanding of social media and its implications poses major concerns.

As a middle school Technology Education teacher and a college social media education facilitator, I find the latter is true. My middle schoolers see me as “cool” and loop me into their social media lives and concerns while many college aged students keep their accounts public for Insta-popularity, which has allowed me a more in depth look at what pre-adult social media looks like these days.

Today’s kids are both incredibly social media savvy and totally and completely ignorant at the same time. Because they’ve grown up in an era where a large majority of their social lives exist solely on the Internet, it is difficult for them to not share every little detail through the medium while also inflating who they are for popularity. What’s scary is that when they are younger, they lack the ability to understand the long-term implications of their social media presence and the clear judgment to discern how their words can impact others, especially in the larger scheme of things.

The negative impact of kids’ social media use has been studied, of course, and statistics tell part of the story. Over 50% of kids and teens report being bullied online (i-SAFE Foundation), and a third of kids surveyed by FashionPlatyes said that being popular on their social accounts was very important to them. But the full story is found in the personal stories of our kids – in fights that carry from Instagram to the classroom, in the story of Nicole Lovell, a young girl abducted and murdered in Blacksburg, VA following her connecting with college students through KIK, in the current Miss Teen USA’s repeated use of the N-word to appear cooler to her friends.

The Miss Universe Organization missed a major opportunity to do the right thing by aligning themselves with their reported organizational values and not tolerating the use of racial slurs. More importantly, Hay could have been a concrete example to our kids, teaching them that their online presence has consequences – that what they post on a picture or say in 143 characters or less isn’t just the online version of themselves, it is who they are.

So what can we do? Parents, please follow your kids online. Even if they think you’re lame. If they are under eighteen, it should be a prerequisite for them getting the account they want. Have meaningful conversations when they post something that doesn’t align with who they are or what they value. Talk to them about the consequences of what they post. Encourage them to talk to their peers about cyberbullying. Discuss why it’s never appropriate to use the N-word, especially on their public accounts so that they can look cool. Tell them the story of Nicole Lovell.

Although Miss Teen USA is allowed to keep her crown, her tweets will follow her for the rest of her life. They will be read by college admissions counselors, employers, even future friends and suitors, and will be part of her story forever. But perhaps, we can learn something from her, too.