Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Bathroom Stripper + My New Laugh

This week I've mainly blogged about giving up cheese my diet and weight loss.

But my life is more than a diet or number on a scale. So, I wanted to share a funny story with you about the bathroom stripper at my office today!

I walked into the bathroom this morning, and I noticed a sea of glitter on the ground.

"Um, KE$HA?
Is that you blowing glitter all over the floor?"

Holy cow, does a stripper work here now?

Later in the afternoon, I went into a different bathroom stall.

I noticed there was MORE glitter on the ground.

A lot more.

Someone is PACKING on the glitter today!!!

Just then, I went to button my pants and I saw glitter fall to the ground.

Lots of glitter.

And then I looked at my jeans.

Even more glitter.

Oh no, I'm the bathroom stripper...

My newest pair of underwear, which ironically said "HO! HO! HO!" were covered with glitter on the rear...

Just another day in the life of Ashley Sieb...

OH and one more fun fact, my latest laugh is now inspired  from the ADORABLE kid at the end of this video:

Much love,

I Close My Eyes and Think of You

"I'm able to run my entire route without stopping now," my friend Sabrina told me last Friday.

"That's amazing!" I said. "I'm SO proud of you!"

"You want to know my secret?" she said.

"Obviously!" I said, smiling. 

"When I want to stop and give up, I close my eyes and think of you. I picture you crossing the finish line of your half marathons. It works every time!"

I smiled and part of me wanted to cry- because you know I'm good at that...but her story really touched my heart.

And I was filled with so much joy and happiness- knowing that when she is searching and digging deep to stay strong...she thinks of ME!


I was over the moon...

I've reminded myself of Sabrina and her story at least 40 times this week.

This week has been tough.

I'm hungry CONSTANTLY!

Literally, I was at the doctors office on Wednesday and I could hear my stomach grumbling over the Christmas music. And one time, a lady looked me as if I was about to birth a small cheese cube.

I MISS my Diet Coke.

I CRAVE cheese like a man craves sex (aka I think about cheese every 3 seconds). 

Just when I was about to have another break down, my friend Hannah sent me a message on Twitter.

She said:

"Just wanted to let you know I am beginning a fitness odyssey of my own and tonight I found out I lost my first three pounds! I've been reading your blog and getting lots of inspiration from you! When I am wheezing on the treadmill trying to run half a mile (not a joke) ...I think, "Ashley ran a f#!$ing MARATHON Hannah get your ass in gear" and it legit helps me keep going...So, I know you are always getting inspired by super fit people of your own, like your trainer, but I just wanted to let you know that you are MY super fit inspiration! THE END."  

Wait, did she have the right, Ashley?


That's the second person this week who made me feel like the happiest person in the world!

I wanted to reach through my computer and give Hannah the BIGGEST hug in the world.
Her message came at the most perfect time...

And to know, that she considers me her SUPER fit inspiration?

I'm just a chubby girl trapped in a skinny girls' mind. 

And Hannah thinks I am super fit?

I spent the rest of the evening smiling...

THEN I got this message the next afternoon from my friend Hillary:

"So, I came across a couple of blogs last Spring that I've saved on my laptop for when I decided I was going to finally "lose the weight." Not sure if you've heard of, but she is freaking hilarious, and I think you might like her. It screams, "Bedwell" to me..

Also, this .. this girl has all of these menu options already made up, I think this is going to help me a lot. I know how to eat healthy, I'm fully aware, I just don't. And I don't make good decisions. And I feel awful and pathetic about it, but I think it's here... the DESIRE to finally get HEALTHY.

Which also brings me to you, your blogs, posts, etc. Such an inspiration, you are.. So glad I have someone awesome to look up to and relate to in different ways!

Hope you're having a great day! And hope you haven't been thinking about pepper jack cheese cubes dipped in ranch all day like me.. Well, maybe you are now lol"

I adore her. And yes, I probably was thinking of cheese cubes dipped in ranch 30 seconds before reading her message. 

But wait, there is more! 

This afternoon, I got an e-card from my lovely friend, Carla Jo.

Funny Sports Ecard: Don't trust a skinny bitch who's legs never touch when she runs.

 Carla left me this message:

"I am realizing this is going to be you shortly... so i'll make an exception :) Keep up the great work on the caveman. You are looking refreshed and healthy and toned! Your blog is helping me remember my portion control and helped me eat a banana today instead of popcorn. Love you and your face.

She completes me. And knows the key to my heart...but to be fair, I'm 100% sure my thighs will always touch when I run. 

But no matter my thigh size, I'm so blessed.

How did I ever get so lucky to have such AMAZING friends?

THANK YOU to everyone who has sent me emails (Brittany + Mel + Alexandra + Carla), tweets (Hannah + Amber + Hannah S.), comments on my blog post (Katy + Sonia + Annette + Stephanie + Chelsea + Sarah + Stephanie + Kami + Kelli + Beth + Justin), personal messages (Hilary + Katy), diet advice (Josh + Becca + Carolyn + Elizabeth).

Seriously, I'm overwhelmed by your love, support, and inspiration (sorry if I missed anyone!!).

I'm going strong.

I'm feeling great.

I'm learning willpower- and portion control (aka I ate the world's smallest burger today for lunch).

The burger was INCREDIBLE (and only two bites).
The vegetables sucked big time, but thankfully I ordered a side salad too.
And yes, I cheated by having ranch.

I've lost 11 lbs since last week (Biggest Loser style). 

And most importantly, I haven't locked myself in the pantry to hide in the corner + eat a block of cheese....sooo let's just chalk this week up as a SUCCESS...

And I couldn't have done it without you.

Much love,

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Power Breakfast!

Are you ready to become super jealous of my breakfast?

Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and a cutie / tangerine. I washed my bowl of fresh fruit down with a glass of grapefruit juice!

All for 186 calories :)


My previous breakfast options included:
  • Americano + Spinach and Feta Wrap: 293 calories
  • Egg McMuffin + hashbrown: 450 calories
I am making giant strides my friends.

Also, I didn't have a food meltdown today.



Much love,


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

11 Down

And counting :)

Much love,

Monday, November 26, 2012

A New Personal Best: Rainbow Lake 5K

Last October, I got second place in my age group at the Spirit Run 5K. I thought I finished around 36:40, which has been my personal best ever since!

Turns out, I WAS WRONG (in a good way- you'll see). I actually finished the race in 37:48.

On Saturday morning, I ran the Rainbow Lake 5K in 37:44!

A personal best by four seconds!!

I truly didn't realize I set a new personal best until about 10 seconds ago, so I'm still exploding with happiness!

The Rainbow Lake 5K was a challenge.

I woke up early to stretch and take pre-run mirror pictures (obviously).

The air was COLD.

At times, snow was falling from the sky.

And you're running around a lake aka a giant circle, so there is that...

I went to the race with my friend and running buddy, Ryan. He was going for a personal best, so we didn't plan on running together.

Spoiler alert: Ryan ended up running the race in 27 minutes!
When we pulled into the parking lot, I was immediately nervous.

I was surrounded by intense runners.





Some folks were running around the lake (aka almost the entire course) just for a warm up!!

"I'm coming in last place," I told Ryan.

He laughed, "No you won't, Ashley! Don't say that!"

"No, I'm serious!" I said. "Take a look around...I'm doomed! Maybe my new goal is...don't come in last place!"

"Listen," Ryan said. "If you come in last place, I'll take off all my clothes and jump in the lake."

I laughed.

I needed the confidence booster.

"But that doesn't mean you can come in last place on purpose, though!" Ryan said, probably half-serious.

I had to register that morning, so we wanted to get there a little early. When the lady asked me for my t-shirt size, I said "large or XL, please."

She lifted up a large and said, "Are you sure this will work?"

"Well, give me an XL if you have it," I said back, a little disappointed.

"No, no- I have a smaller size if you need it...that's what I was asking!"

I wanted to hug her for thinking I could fit into a size medium, but I gladly accepted my size large.

After all, I don't like running in belly shirts.

The race was pretty small (only about 200 people) so I tried to creep up toward to the front of the pack for a head start.

I found another running friend, Jeremy!
Immediately after this picture I stepped on his dad.
Just call me Grace.

The first mile was tough.

My nose was dripping and snot was getting stuck on my face Dumb & Dumber style.

I was struggling to find my pace.

I was getting passed my old ladies and little kids.

I was miserable.

Once I reached the sign for Mile 1, a volunteer caught my eye and told me I looked great.

She told me to keep going and that I looked strong.

Her inspiration came at the most perfect time.

A few minutes later, the song Til' I Collapse came on my iPod. I tried to dig deep and listen to the words.

'Cause sometimes you just feel tired,
Feel weak, and when you feel weak, you feel like you wanna just give up.
But you gotta search within you, you gotta find that inner strength
And just pull that shit out of you and get that motivation to not give up
And not be a quitter, no matter how bad you wanna just fall flat on your face and collapse.

That song pushed me through to Mile 2, where I found a table with cups on it for the runners.

Usually people manage the water stations, but no one was there.

Just ice water.

And I mean ICE water. When I picked up the cup and lifted it up to my face, nothing moved.

The water was frozen, but the thought was sweet and I was I pushed my fingers through the ice to get some water.

After taking my water break, I made up my mind to run the entire 1.10 miles I had left.

No walking.

No matter what.

Yes, my average min/mile is about 2 minutes better than my half marathon pace!

I picked up my speed the last quarter mile (hence the 9:19 pace at the end) and truly felt incredible!

When I turned the corner and saw the finish line, I saw 37:20 on the clock. I was 100% determined to finish in under 38 minutes.

And because I spoiled my finishing time earlier, you know I did finished in 37:44!

Ryan and I after the race! He finished second in his age group for the 5K series / challenge.
I'm so proud of Ryan!

I celebrated by eating soup and watching fellow runners accept their awards.

Nom, nom. nom!
Don't worry- this was "pre-diet."

The winner of the entire race broke a new course record (by ONE second) and finished in 15:18.

Yes, 15 minutes and 18 seconds.


And you know what else is incredible?

Not giving up.

Fighting through pain.

Inspiring myself during uncertainity.

Listening to lyrics to Til' I Collapse. 

And earning a new personal best / not coming in last place!

Much love,

Sunday, November 25, 2012

I Want to Be Fat

"Leave me alone!" I screamed from the kitchen.

Justin laughed.

He was picking on me for my moody attitude. Why? Because I'm trying to take control of my diet. Instead of letting my lack of a diet control me.

Here is what I ate today:

-Smiling So-Cal Omelette (not 100% Paleo approved)

-Mixed fruit (fresh strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and a banana)
-Qdoba Naked Chicken salad (lettuce, chicken, salsa, and guacamole only)

-Vegetable Soup  (no meat, no cheese, no nothing)
-Fruit Snacks

-1 Glass of white wine
-1 spoonful of peanut butter (not Paleo approved)

Total Calories: 1337

"Paleo can get f!$ked!" I said. "I'm not doing this anymore."

Justin laughed harder.

"ASHLEY!" he said. "It's only been ONE day!"

"I don't care!" I said. "I want to be fat."

Justin leaned over and gave me a hug.

I needed that...

Okay fine.

I don't want to be fat.
I want to be fit and healthy.

But I've already had my first breakdown.

Paleo is like a blind date.

I heard amazing things about Paleo.

Paleo looked good online.

A few of my friends "hooked up" with Paleo for at least a month.

But when Paleo walked into my life today and sat down on my kitchen table, I wanted to run away.

So here I am, pouting because dieting is hard.

But you already knew that, didn't you?

Tonight, I'm going to dream of bricks of cheese and mountains of mayonnaise.

And tomorrow, I'll keep up with my diet.

Because nothing tastes as good as fitness feels.

Much love,

Smiling So-Cal Omelette

I've decided to call my newfound approach to eating (a fancy way to say diet) "Paleo Inspired."

My diet won't be 100% Paleo.


Well, I simply don't believe in cutting out ENTIRE food groups of your diet. I am a Marketer, not a Dietitian, but I believe food groups exist for a reason. And let's be real, I am not giving up coffee or wine until I have a small child growing inside of me.

With that in mind, I'd like to introduce you to my first Paleo inspired creation:

The Smiling So-Cal Omelette

What You Need:
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 tomato 
  • 1-2 tablespoons of Package of goat cheese (not Paleo approved)
  • Olive oil
  • Bacon!!! (not Paleo approved)
  1. Cook 2-3 slices of bacon on medium heat. I prefer the thick-sliced bacon, for obvious reasons.
  2. While the bacon is cooking, pour yourself a glass of grapefruit juice (no sugar added).
  3. Pre-heat a small frying pan on medium heat and add a little drip* of olive oil.
  4. Crack two eggs into a small bowl and use the egg whites only. Crack open on more egg and keep the yolk this time. Blend the eggs together with a fork.
  5. Pour the eggs on your small frying pan with olive oil. Cook the egg flat until golden brown (a few minutes), fold over, and finish cooking for 45 seconds. Place the omelette on a small plate and cut it down the middle.
  6. Spread 1 tablespoon or so of goat cheese on each of the omelette halves.
  7. Grab your tomato and cut two small slices for your omelette. Place one slice on each omelette halves.
  8. Slice an avocado, and save half of it for later. Click here if you want tips on how to cut your avocado perfectly. Place two slices of the avocado on each of the omelette halves.
  9. Finally, add your cooked bacon at the bottom of the plate and complete your smiling so-cal omelette. 
 *Ashley language for 1-2 tablespoons

Much love,

Friday, November 23, 2012

Let The Paleo Begin

You guys, I just stepped on the scale at my dad's house and the number made me want to stop eating for a week. Or two. But that's not healthy. That lifestyle is old Ashley. So I need to change. Because I don't want to see this number ever again!

233 lbs.

I pretended to wonder how this could happen, but My Fitness Pal has all the answers.

High fat.

High carbs.

Low fruits.

Low veggies.

Low exercise and strength training!

And let's not get stared on all the food an booze I consumed yesterday, which I did not count up! My iPhone probably would have exploded from trying to calculate all the calories! Eeek!

And unlike the other times, I didn't cry...because I knew the scale wouldn't show me the number I wanted to see!

I'll be honest, though, I didn't expect to see 233 on that bad boy....

On Thanksgiving, Justin's cousin came to visit. I haven't seen her in two years, so when she walked in and her waist was the size of my thumb, I about died.

My Uncle Bob could tell I was upset about something so he smiled and wrapped his arms around me.

"What's wrong my Ash?!" He asked me.

"I mean seriously...just look at Cheryl!" I said, trying to whisper. "She looks incredible. And I just don't know how and why I try so hard and...and look like this..."

"Come on now, Ash! You look good. And you are healthy, right!?" He said.

"We'll yeah," I said. "I am pretty active! I have low cholesterol and my blood pressure is low too..."

"Listen kiddo," Uncle Bob said. "Don't worry about what you don't have...focus on what you do have!"

He was right. As always. I admire his wisdom and insight on life during all of our chats!

"You're right, Uncle B!" I said.

"I am right!" He said.

"No I know you are right!" I said laughing. "I believe you. And I have a lot to be thankful for...and a lot to focus on."

I don't have a thin waist and big boobs. In fact, I'll probably never have either!

But let me tell you want I do have!!

-You (my amazing blog readers, who leave me comments and messages that inspire me beyond words).

-A loving and supportive husband who had agreed to go on the Paleo Diet with me starting Monday!

-The income to support healthy eating and choices! I'm so blessed that I get to choose to eat less...some people can barely get enough to eat!

-An amazing group of friends and family members to motivate and support me on a daily basis!

-Bandit, my favorite little guy and running buddy!

-A gym membership!

-A personal trainer...Dustin, I'm coming bacccckkkk! Are you ready to make me puke again!? Hahah but really...

-Access to other blogs and research for inspiration & ideas!

I'm sure Paleo will be hard. Because let's be real, I'm a food whore and eat my emotions. Happy, sad, stressed, or mad...I am eating. Oh- and you can't eat dairy on Paleo, which means no yes, part of me will "die" as I go on this lifestyle change!

But, you guys, I'm sick of living like this...and letting food control my every thought and action.

So, be ready for lots of blog posts about me missing cheese. Look for daily updates about what I am eating. Check back for Paleo recipe ideas. Get pumped for before pictures, during pictures (aka mirror pictures of me looking sweaty and hot from the gym or crying in fetal position near a box of Mac & Cheese), and after pictures (probably more mirror pictures in a fitting room trying on a new cute dress). Hey, at least I know myself!

Oh, and yes- lots of bandit pictures!

I'm so ready to be fit.

And healthy.

And energized.

Thanks in advance for your support and motivation! I'll need you guys....

Much love,

Ashley (a soon-to-be recovering foodaholic)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Parent Rap: Justin & Ashley's Future

I don't care if you have children or not, this will make you smile. 

Did I mention how excited I am to become a mom one day?

Justin, start practicing your dance moves + writing lyrics. We are making a rap video one day.


Much love,

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Year of Random Acts of Kindness: Week 2

"Making a decision to have a child--it's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body."
-Elizabeth Stone


No, I'm not pregnant (yet!).

However,  becoming a mother is very near and dear to my heart. I honestly can't wait to become a mother. I know being a mother will be a challenging, yet rewarding experience and journey. But I also know how hard families work to grow their family. If only getting pregnant was as easy as "Sixteen and Pregnant" makes it out to be...but I digress.

When I came across a Facebook post from Jordan Rhodes, I knew she was my next "target" for a random act of kindness. Jordan and her husband Klif are currently going through the adoption process. They have a little one of their own, but adopting a child was always part of their master plan together.

The Rhodes Family!

If you or someone you know has ever adopted a child, you know it can be an expensive and emotional process. To cope with the finical implications of adoption, Jordan and her family have been thinking of creative ways to raise money to support their growing family. 

Her most recent project is creating these ADORABLE necklaces designed like a nest.

To symbolize growing their own nest.

I die.
And only $10!!!

Last week, my friend Lindzi Hutton re-posted Jordan's story, and I immediately sent Jordan a Facebook message asking how I could help spread her story + purchase some necklaces! Her response brought tears to my eyes...Jordan's excitement was contagious. And her dedicated to grow her family was inspiring.

I sent her a card that afternoon and ordered four necklaces. I think her story and the necklaces will help me on our own journey as Justin and I continue trying to grow our family. 

Interested to learn more? You're in luck! I had the chance to learn more about Jordan and her family. Read on, my friends!

Ashley: What inspired you to adopt?

Jordan: My husband, Klif, and I have talked about adoption since before we were married.  It has always been a part of our plan.  We have a passion for being around and raising kids and at the same time we know there there are so many kids out there that will never have the opportunity to reach their full potential.  We are also friends with other couples who have adopted over the years.  We've seen both the excitement and the heartbreak the adoption can bring.  After a lot of discussion and prayer, we just knew that adoption was the perfect fit for our family.

Ashley: How has the adoption process been for you? 

Jordan: So far the process for us has been pretty smooth sailing.  Before we started the process, we sat down and talked with a couple who had adopted through our agency. The conversation  really helped us get into the mindset of what we would be expecting and what steps we would be taking.  The application, classes, home study, and biography were all in-depth and time consuming, but nothing we didn't expect.  The hardest park has for sure been the financial aspect.  It's hard to grasp the cost of adoption.  The total out of pocket expenses when we had our son in October 2010 were just over $1,000.  It will cost us somewhere between $20,000-$30,000 to adopt, once all of the expenses are all added up. We have been saving and fundraising non stop for the last 18 months.  It's also emotionally tough since we've gotten to this stage.  We are done with everything and literally just waiting on a call.  We have already been matched up with 2 high-risk birth mothers, both of which fell through.  However, we are doing well at not getting attached before anything is finalized.

Ashley: What gave you the inspiration to design and sell the nest pendants? 

Jordan: I saw the design of the pendants a while back, and they had been on my "to-try" list for quite some time.  I finally got around to it this fall, and the whole bird's nest theme just seemed to fit perfectly with us planning on expanding our "nest".  I have also seen a lot of "buy handmade" sentiment going around this year, and I figured why not give this a shot.  The response has been amazing!

Ashley: What advice do you have for families who are planning to adopt? 

Jordan: Have a plan.  There are many different types of adoptions and there are multiple ways to go about each one!  Not every adoption is the right fit for each family.  Start saving NOW if you think you might adopt.  It is frustratingly expensive.  Most importantly, have patience!  Everything is out of your control, but you will end up with the perfect child for you. Just be prepared to wait!

How You Can Help!!
If Jordan's story touches your heart and you have an extra $10 to spare, please consider purchasing one of these necklaces. Mine are already in the mail, so I'll be happy to model them for you once they arrive!  You can email for more information / to order. Be sure to check out their Facebook page for pictures and necklace inspiration:

Much love,

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Year of Random Acts of Kindness: Week 1

For my birthday, I wanted do something special.

Instead, I ended up drinking too much Busch Light and gourmet jello shots.

Let's recap my day...

Bandit giving goodluck kisses during beer pong.
We won 8 games in a row.
And I never want to drink Busch Light again.
Thankfully, The Husband was in a good mood because the Cowboys WON!

Celebration cigar.
I ate buffalo chicken dip, despite my lactose allergy. (And yes, I paid for it).

Team Cheese.
And most importantly, I had a blast with some of my close friends and family!


BUT despite my fun-filled day, I did come up with an exciting idea for my 26th year of life!

I thought about riding my bike 26 miles, but my body quickly ruled that out. I will spare the details about why, but if you’re dying to know…just message me. Instead, I opted for a short run with Bandit...the day was simply too beautiful to pass up!

Fall is perfect.

I wanted to decorate for Christmas, but knew I’d have some push back from Justin. So instead, I just went to CVS (yes, the drug store) and picked up some adorable (and affordable) Christmas decorations for our mantel. We will finish the house next weekend!

The most wonderful time of the year!
PS I am obesssseedddd with our new fireplace!

Then, I thought about doing 26 random acts of kindness on my birthday.

I came up with this list:
1.    Donate clothes to Goodwill
2.    Mail letters to friends just to say how much they mean to me / I love them
3.    Buy someone’s Starbucks
4.    Leave a gift card in a book at Barnes & Noble
5.    Bake cookies for the neighbors
6.    Write an appreciation letter to an old teacher
7.    Drop off food and treats for animals at a shelter
8.    Drop off tennis balls at the bark park
9.    Give strangers a compliment
10.    Hold a door open for people and wait for them
11.    Let people merge in front of me and smile
12.    Take water to runners on the Monon Trail
13.    Leave a gas card at the pump station
14.    Leave a GREAT tip for a birthday lunch or breakfast
15.    Tape popcorn to a redbox machine
16.    Leave money in a vending machine
17.    Buy craft beer to support our local brewers
18.    Sign up for a 5K that benefits a charity I am passionate about
19.    Make my husband breakfast in bed
20.    Call my grandma just to chat
21.    Drop off coloring box and crayons to a hospital
22.    Plant a tree
23.    Bake a treat for local policemen
24.    Bake a treat for local firefighters
25.    Donate $26 dollars to a charity that means a lot to me
26.    Donate to a local food pantry

I did a lot of research and read many blog posts about random acts of kindness. I loved all of the ideas, but I was struggling with how to balance all of these acts in one single day.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if I could do something like this every single week?

A whole YEAR of being kind and compassionate, often to complete strangers…it seemed much more powerful and inspirational to make this journey last longer than a single day.

I’ll use my list above as a starting point…and will also donate $26 each month to a different charity. My first donation went to Indy Fire & Rescue to help the victims from the explosion in Greenwood, Indiana. My heart hurt after hearing such tragic news…

My first random act of kindness this week involved me raiding my closet and giving away some nice clothes.

Okay, if you have only worn something once or twice this year…it’s GONE!

I gave up some really nice pieces of clothing, but I simply wasn’t wearing them enough! And it seemed foolish to let the clothes keep collecting dust when someone out there could really use new shirts, dresses, and pants.

Each week, I’ll blog about my random act of kindness. And I would absolutely LOVE it if you guys submitted ideas, charities, and events for me to consider this year.

“I hope you will have a wonderful year, that you'll dream dangerously and outrageously, that you'll make something that didn't exist before you made it, that you will be loved and that you will be liked, and that you will have people to love and to like in return. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind.
― Neil Gaiman

Always be kind.

Much love,

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Jump Outside Your Comfort Zone

My "Bucket List" is full of daring, eventful, and inspiring activities or challenges.

Traveling to Japan (where I was born!!). 

Running a full marathon.

Meeting Nick Carter (seriously, I signed my middle school yearbook Ashley Carter because I was CONVINCED I would marry him).

Participating in a flash mob.

You know, the usual.

When I got an email a few weeks ago, asking if I wanted to participate in a flash mob at the Eloqua Experience ( my work conference this past week)...I was over the moon!

My reply: "Absolutely! Being in a flash mob is on my bucket list!"

Flash forward to Wednesday, November 7.

I had mixed emotions about being in the flash mob. I know..that doesn't sound like...but I was NOT prepared. And I'm kind of a perfectionist.

They sent out a training video of the dance.  I told myself I MUST practice every night the week before the conference, but in reality - I practiced ZERO times.

I told my boss that I felt uneasy about the flash mob...and I seriously considered not even attending the practice session.

Why are you acting like this, Ashley? You've always dreamed of being in a flash mob!

"Well, I think I'll just go to the practice," I told my boss. "And if I really can't do the dance, then I'll just cheer on the sidelines!"

When I opened the door to the "top secret rehearsal," the music was playing. A few people were dancing and then eventually everyone started doing the dance.

You've got to be kidding me! I am clearly the only person in the room who didn't practice... I'm going to stand out like a sore thumb!! I am leaving...

I opened the door and walked out of the room.

What are you think, Ashley? Get your butt back in there. Jump outside your comfort zone...

Seconds later, I saw my new friend Lauren.

"Lauren!" I yelled. "Are you doing this!?"

"Yeah..but I have no clue what I am doing," she said.


I am not alone.

"Oh good!" I said, feeling relaxed. "I don't know either..."

We walked back into the room (everyone was still dancing like flippin' rockstars!!). I found a place near the back...and just started dancing along. And by dancing along, I mean looking extremely awkward and doing the Marsha Brady.

Dancing machine.

I had no clue what I was doing.

I probably looked like a fool.

And guess what?

I was laughing.

I was smiling.

I was happy with my decision to jump outside my comfort zone.

"Alright everyone!!!" the dance instructor yelled. "If you think you know this dance by heart and would get up on stage and do this dance alone, go to group one."

Obviously, I didn't move to group one.

"And if you think that you have a lot of work to do and feel like you want to hide in the corner, go to group five."

Alright, that's more like it!! Group five here I come!

Thankfully, group five was full of SUPER fun people. And we were all super uncoordinated, so our dance session made for even more laughs.

We had an absolute blast practicing the dance.

Turns out, group five was the last group to jump into the flash mob...but we were also the group that ended up on stage!!

"Wait, isn't that a little backgrounds?" one guy asked. "You want US on stage!?? Group 5!?"

We all started dying laughing...

"If we smile and look like we're having fun- that's all that matters!" I said, thankful that my attitude and outlook had changed.

After practice ended, we went our separate ways until lunch started. I thought the flash mob was on Thursday during lunch, so I promised myself that I would practice all night.

Because, you know, that's what perfectionist people do.

I told myself that I wouldn't eat lunch before the flash mob...I would wait..because I didn't want my nerves to get the best of me!

I felt pretty confident about my game plan.

Tomorrow will be amazing! 

Lunch (On Wednesday- Not Thursday)

I was sitting at lunch with my boss and new friends when I heard "The Right Stuff" come on!

OMG. Someone tell the DJ they have the wrong date! 

I leaned over to my friend, who THANKFULLY was in the flash mob group with me and said, "Shut up! Is the flash mob today!?"

She started laughing, "YES! When did you think it was?!"

"OMG!" I said. "Tomorrow!!"

My boss started dying laughing!

You've got to be kidding me.

I looked around for our dance leader and I couldn't find him!

What if he doesn't show up? 

Did he think it was tomorrow too? 

When do we go up on stage?

Just then, I saw him run up  and said, "Come on ladies! Let's do this!"

I jumped out of my seat and went toward the stage.

Now or never.

The dance went surprisingly well!

And despite my anxiety about making a fool of myself or falling off the stage, I had a blast!

 I came back to my seat and my boss said, "Great job!!"

"Thanks!" I said back. "See, I can be spontaneous sometimes!!"

He laughed, "Only when you have to be! Let's be real, we both know you would have practiced in the mirror all night long tonight if the flash mob really was tomorrow."

"You're right..." I admitted. "You know me too well. I want to do it again!"

Back row, far right (in a purple dress).
Did you find me yet!?! :)
Not everything in life goes by plan (a lesson I have yet to fully learn and accept). 

And sometimes, you'll be forced to feel uncomfortable and vulnerable.

But guess what!?

Your nerves will go away. 

Your adrenaline will kick in.

And you'll love every minute of it.

So whatever you're holding back on in life...jump on it.

What do you have to lose? 

Much love,

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Day I Became a Runner: Part 2

Just joining us? Click here to read Part 1.

Now, where was I?

Oh yes, the point where I "hit the wall."

Mile Six: The Breakdown

My least favorite mile.

Around Mile Six, my heel started to hurt. I could tell it was flaring up, but I didn’t want to stop my cycle of only walking through water stations. I was extremely excited about my performance. I was
slow, but steady. Why does everything suddenly hurt? Everything from my hip down felt numb.

Unfortunately, I let my body win. I took a walking break for about a minute and decided I would do intervals through this next mile.

Mile 7

I reached the half marathon and full marathon split, and I saw someone in a Cowboys hoodie.

Is that Justin?

Who is standing next to him?

I got closer and realized it was my mom.

I got a little closer and saw this sign:

My mom later told me a few runners tipped their hats off to her.
So, I cried again.
You guys, I promise I'm (not) normal.

I started crying.

“OMG! I am so happy you guys came!” I cried. “I can’t believe this!”

I gave them both hugs and saw my mom’s eyes tear up too.

Justin ran around the corner with me.

“How are you feeling?”

“Well, I’ve ran most of the race so far!” I told Justin. “But my heel is killing me. And my buttchecks are numb.”

“You can do it, babe!” Justin said. “Listen to your body, but fight through the pain. You got this.”

He gave me a kiss on the cheek and I kept running, and then I lost it. 

I was bawling as I ran toward Mile 8.

Miles 9-11
Most of these miles are a blur.I did a lot of self-talk. Some positive. Some negative.

I do know- without a doubt- that my right foot was on FIRE.

And I honestly couldn’t tell if it hurt worse to walk or run. 

Around Mile 10, I get to Meridian, which is an extremely long stretch and then a few turns...and then the finish line.

But, I was at  the home stretch.

I only have a 5K left.

I was doing my intervals at this point. And my run was very slow.

I looked down at my watch.

I knew I wasn’t going to hit my goal, which was a pretty depressing moment.

 Just then, it started sleeting.

Yes, this is real life, Ashley.

The only way I could hit a 2:45 finish time is if I ran 10 minute miles the rest of the way…which- let’s be real- that was NOT happening.

At that moment, I got this text message from Justin:

Literally got this text 50 seconds after it started sleeting.

So, you know, I cried.

At Mile 11, more and more full marathoners were passing me. The motivation and determination inside them inspired me. They had gone TWICE as far as me, yet they had more fight.

Dig deep, Ashley.

Don’t give up.


Just then, the song Josh Dials picked for me come on. Let’s Go- by Matt and Kim. I pictured him running – more like flying- through his full marathon. I could tell by his determination and spirit early in the morning that he would hit his goal. He was  beaming with happiness and positivity.

And just like a movie, I heard someone yell, “ASHLEY!!!!!! GET THE (insert explicit word here) ON IT!!!!”

Josh ran past me. He really was flying!

I moaned.

“YOU GOT THIS GIRL,” Meggie said as she rode past me on the bike.

I smiled.

And then I started “running” again.

He is going to hit crush his goal.

I only lasted about 3 minutes before I stopped to walk again.

I saw a sign that said: “It sounded like a good idea 4 months ago didn’t it?”

Darn right. I wanted this. I still want this!

Keep fighting, Ashley.


One woman looked at me and said, "You got this girl. Right foot, left foot, breathe..."

Just then, I saw the sign for Mile 12. I wanted to take a picture, but my fingers were cold. Freezing actually....Little did I know Mile 12 would be the most important and difficult mile of my life.

The Most Inspirational Mile of Life: Mile 12

“Hey!” I heard someone yell from behind me just seconds after passing Mile 12.

I turned around and saw a guy, who I had been running with nearly the entire race. He was also struggling between walking and running too.

“Listen, I need some inspiration and it looks like you could too,” he said. “Let’s finish this mile together.”

“Oh bless you,” I said. “I don’t know you want to be stuck with me though.”

“No, you fight through,” he said. “We are going to fight through this mile together. No stopping.”

The thought of running for more than one minute seemed impossible.

At this point, we were walking.

“What is your name?” I asked him.

“Josh,” he said. “And yours?”

“Ashley,” I said. “Okay, at this stop light, we will run.”

“Alright, Ashley,” he said. “We’re going to kill this thing.”

I wanted to burst out in tears.

I thought of Justin. And my mom. And the sign they made. My grandpa.

“I’m just in so much pain,” I said. “My foot is numb. Everything hurts!”

“Listen, we got this,” Josh said. Just one mile left.”

We started to run at the stoplight.

“So how many half marathons have you done?” I asked Josh.

My theory was to ask him absolutely anything to keep my mind off the pain.

“I’ve actually done seven this year!” he said.

“What!?” I said. “That’s incredible! What inspired you do so many this year?”

“Well my wife is a marathoner,” he said. “She is actually running the full marathon today. Last year, I was a spectator at one of her marathons. And I realized that runners are the most amazing, courageous, and wonderful people. So I wanted to become one.”

“Wow,” I said. "That's so inspiring!"

But clearly I wasn't inspired enough, because these were the next words out of my mouth:

“I want to stop,” I told him.

“No, don’t stop!” He said. “You got this!”

“No, I don’t!” I said. “Everything hurts!”

“Ashley, think about how amazing it will feel when you cross that finish line knowing you didn’t give up!” Josh said. “You are a fighter. You can do this…we only have a half mile left. Pain does not last forever.”

At this point, I was moaning and groaning Biggest Loser style.

I am only midly embarrassed...because number one, my dramatic cries probably made people laugh. And number two, that's truly how I felt. 

A full marathoner ran flew by us and cheered us on, “Keep it up, guys!”

How incredible? This dude was fighting through 26.2 miles of his own, yet he took the time to inspire us!

Did I mention how much I love runners?

I asked Josh more questions. I learned his favorite color (blue), his least favorite food (goat cheese), and the number one thing he loves about his wife? Her smile.

“Man, her smile.” He said. “It could light up the world.”

My heart melted. He went on to tell me that they have three children, he loves beer, and they live in Broad Ripple.

At one point, I wanted to stop again.

“Just let me stretch,” I said. “I don’t stop to walk. Just a stretch.”

I leaned near the sidewalk, but then I realized it was silly.

You are so darn close!!

Get on it, Ash!

“Ashley, we are so close,” Josh said. “You’re awesome. And I’m awesome. Tell me I am awesome.”

“You are awesome,” I said quietly and full of pain.

"I can’t hear you," Josh said.

“YOU ARE AWESOME!” I yelled.

And he screamed out a loud cheer:“WHOAAA!”

We were both screaming.

And cheering on marathoners that passed us.

And eventually, we started rapping to “Get Low” by Lil Jon.

So yes, I was completey losing my mind.

But at the same time, it felt incredible.

“Finish line,” he said. “Ashley, the finish line is right around that corner.”

“Finish line,” I said quietly.

My body was on fire.

“Finish line,” I said a little louder.

“FINISH LINE!” I screamed.

We turned the corner and I saw the finish line.

“OMG YES! HERE WE ARE!” I shouted.

“WE ARE SO CLOSE!” I yelled again.

“WHOOAA!” Josh yelled.

I let out a few other yells, which got the crowd going and clapping. It was exactly what I needed.

The crowd was cheering and I heard someone yell, “Finish strong! You got this!”

“Let’s go for it, Josh!” I said.

And we took off sprinting toward the finish line. I literally gave it everything I had inside of me to cross that finish line.

On a scale of 1 (being least awesome) to 10 (being most awesome),
I felt like a million.

And at that moment, I became a runner.

Once I crossed, I heard Justin and my mom yelling for me.

Someone handed me a thermal tarp thing.

“Do you want a cookie?” a little girl asked me.

“OMG YES!” I said.

Someone gave me a hat.

A woman wrapped a medal around my neck and said, “Great finish. You should be very proud of yourself!”

Bless her...
I ran up to Josh and thanked him for everything. At that moment, I realized he was my guardian angel. My grandpa really was with me on the course all morning.

And he sent me Josh.

We finished in 3:03:54, which is 14 minutes better than my last half marathon!!!

I gave Josh a giant hug.

“You’re the reason I finished that last mile,” Josh said. “I can never thank you enough.”

I will never forget Josh and the final mile we shared. We both fought through the pain, sleet, and self-doubt to run to that finish line.

My Mile 12 warrior.

It’s true.

Runners really are the most amazing, courageous, and wonderful people in the world.

Later that day, I text Josh Dials (must be the name Josh) and said:

"You really are my hero :) - fan-freaking-tastic job today!!!!"

And his reply...well, let's just say it took my runner's high to a whole new level:

"And you are mine!"

All smiles from Team Iasta: Chad, Melissa, Kelly, Me, and Josh Dials.
Congrats to all of you, and everyone else who completed 13.1 or 26.2 yesterday!
Much love,

The Day I Became A Runner: Part 1

On Saturday morning, I battled through pain, cold weather, and “the wall” as I finished my fifth half marathon.

Spoiler alert: I didn’t hit my goal time of 2:45. But I don’t think this race was about getting a PR. My race was about proving to myself that I AM a runner.

Most importantly, this race taught me that the heart and determination from a complete stranger can transform your world.

Race Morning

I have nightmares about oversleeping and missing my races. My wake-up call was at 5 am. I wanted enough time to stretch, eat a good breakfast, drink my coffee, and take pictures with Bandit. You know- just a normal day.

But at 5:50 am, I woke up in a frantic! Did I hit snooze on my alarm clock? Was I in such a deep sleep that I missed my alarm clock going off? I reached for my phone and checked my alarm clock.

5 PM. I set my alarm clock for 5PM instead of 5 AM.

No wonder I always have nightmares…I know myself too well.

But thankfully, I still had 50 minutes to get ready before Chad picked me up.

I brewed my morning coffee.

Pumpkin spice on race morning?
Check please.
I ate my pre-race breakfast (toast and peanut butter + a banana). Oh, and yes this time around I had to take my antibiotic to cure my staph infection. Because – you know- I have the best luck ever.

Notice the warning label on the antibiotics warns about diarrhea.
Twice. So, yes I was afraid I might be that person with running farts.
Or worse.
And I took a pre-race before picture alone. Bandit decided it was too early to get out of bed.

7312. My new lucky number.

Chad picked me up around 6:45 am (and thankfully so because I get super stressed out about driving and parking alone). Usually on race morning, I am nervous wreck. I don’t spend a lot time chatting on race morning– because I am PRAYING I survive the morning ahead of me. Instead, Chad and I talked about our expectations, goals, and plans for the morning. We found a great parking spot and started walking to the start line.

Here we go!!!
PS I didn't want to leave the warm car, but at least I was bundled up!

He was shooting for a big goal at (or slightly under) two hours, so we definitely weren’t starting together. But thankfully, we ran into a group of our friends at the start line.

Two of my favorites.

Team Iasta.
I have the best coworkers in the world.

The Start

I walked to my corral (the area where you start your race, which is based on your pace). I looked for the sign that said 12-13 minute miles.

My goal pace.

The air was cold, but I was bundled up. I overdressed knowing that I would be throwing off my jacket, gloves, and hat. Volunteers collect the clothes and donate them to shelters across the city.
I looked around trying to recognize a familiar face, but I didn't find one...I was alone.

Just me.

My headphones.

And my heart.

I turned to the guy next to me.

“Is this your first race?” I asked him, desperate to calm my nerves by making conversation with a complete stranger.

“Actually, it’s my second,” he said. “My first half marathon was the Indy Mini in May.”

“That’s awesome!” I said. “I can’t believe how hot and humid that race was…I bet you love this weather.”

“Yeah, it was really hot,” he said. “I had trained through the winter months, so I wasn’t prepared for that kind of heat. I saw people dropping left and right.”

“Scary stuff,” I said. “Do you have a goal for today?”

He looked over with a big smile and said, “I don’t care what my pace is, I just want to run the whole thing.”

I admired his goal. It’s something I’ve never done. At that moment, he inspired me to focus on running instead of intervals. The gun went off and the race started. We started walking forward (it took us 8 minutes until we crossed the start line). Just before we separated, I asked for his name.

“Rob, it’s nice to meet you!” I said. “My name is Ashley.”

Before he took off, I yelled at him.

He turned around.

“Rob- I know you’re going to hit your goal today,” I said. “Good luck!”

I turned on my iPod, played “Hats Off to Larry,” and drifted away to memories of my grandpa.

Miles 1-5

Okay Ashley, don’t look at your watch.

Run slow, but don’t stop to walk.

See how far you can go without stopping.

I knew I didn’t train to run the entire thing, but I wanted to challenge myself.

I wanted to prove to myself that I AM a runner.

I felt great as I rolled past Mile 1 in 11 minutes.


You got this, Ash.

As I was approaching Mile 2, I ran into Carla – my running buddy! I stayed with her for about a mile and we chatted about life, the city, and the beautiful weather.

“Girl, this is your race,” she said. “I am going to take a quick walking break- but you go ahead.”

“Are you sure?” I asked. I felt bad not staying with her. I ran my last half marathon alone, and I know having someone by your side makes a huge difference.

“Yes!” Carla said. “I’m positive. Get running. I’ll be chasing after you!”

She makes my heart happy.

I put on my headphones, and started running again. For the next three miles, I only stopped to walk during water station breaks.

I started to tear up. I was so proud of myself for staying strong. I let my music help my mind wander away and tried to focus on anything, except for running.

Just think, you're only running a mile or two at a time.

Then you get a break.

And water.

Just then, I heard someone yell my name from a car. It was Sabrina, one of my previous running buddies. Last year, I ran this race with her by my side. I was happy I got the chance to see her.

“Sabrina! I’ve only been walking through water stations!”

I am 99% sure she didn’t hear me, but she gave me a thumbs up anyway.

At mile five, I came up to a water station full of high schoolers. I heard them shooting and cheering for people as they ran past, so I wanted to give them something to shout about.

“WHOAA!” I yelled as I ran through them.

I lifted my arms in the air and everyone started screaming.

My body filled with happiness.

I felt like I was flying.

Someone handed me water, another person gave me a high-five, and I overheard a girl say, “She was awesome!”

"Move It Like Bernie" came on and I smiled all the way through the next mile...

Are you sucked in yet? Don't worry, Part 2 is coming soon!

Much love,

Friday, November 2, 2012

Tears of Joy

I cried while driving into work this morning.

Not the uncontrollable, ugly cry.

Even beautiful people have "ugly cry" faces.
I just had a few tears fall down my face.

Tears of joy, as I call them.

I pictured myself at the start line tomorrow morning.

Listening to the song, "Hats Off to Larry" - the song my Grandpa requested we play at his funeral. The song was a suggestion by my mom, and I knew instantly I wanted to start the race to his song.

Tomorrow, I'll walk up to the start line more prepared than EVER before.

Sure I missed a few long runs.

And I missed even more short runs during the week.

But I feel confident.

I feel strong.

I've done a great good job training this time around. 

Previous races, I was lucky to get one or two 6 milers under my belt.

MAYBE I would do a 10 miler.

These past few weeks have been UBBER emotional. I can't explain right now, but I will one day soon. Hang tight...

But thankfully, I'll be surrounded with friends, fellow runners. volunteers, and spectators that inspire me.

Tomorrow when I walk up to the start line, I'm not letting my stresses, worries, emotions, or fears win.

I started out this journey dreaming of a full marathon, but I knew I wasn't ready to climb that mountain. Not yet. I've had my doubts along the most runners do. But I am bringing my strength, confidence, and courage with me to the start line. And thanks to advice from Meggie Dials, I'm going to master my race photos tomorrow too!

"It is a rough road that leads to the heights of greatness."

And one more quote...just because it made me smile and you guys KNOW I love quotes.

"Some people don't have the guts for distance racing. The polite term for them is sprinters." 

Much love,

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Am I Sleep Walking?

Did I sleep walk to a high school and roll around on the wrestling mats?

I might have a staph infection.

On my face.

Near my eye.

Super adorable, right?

I also have a half marathon on Saturday. In case you've forgetten or haven't read my previous five blog posts....

Oh, and next week- I am going to a work conference in Orlando, FL. 

I know, I look emo.
Do people say "emo" anymore?
Thankfully, I went to the doctor and have some antibiotics to help this bad boy get better.

In the meantime, let's pray I don't wake up with an even bigger bruise on my face OR a swollen eye.

Much love,