New Year & New Beginnings ……

I haven’t been publishing much as of late.  I’m in a zone where I’m helping Aby & her friend train for the Little Rock Marathon and that means lots of long runs, not so much racing.  Too many blogs do week by week training recaps.  I’ll let you read one of those if you are interested; you won’t find it here cuz really, who cares besides me?.  But I’m running.  In the cold, in the snow & we’ve had some surprisingly nice days too!  Running.  That’s what’s  happening.

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I’ve also been lifting dumbbell weights & trying to increase my strength without aggravating my back.  I ruptured 2 discs in my back last June and they don’t seem to want to repair, despite many sessions of Physical Therapy, Chiropractor, anti-inflammatory meds & several special cocktails of cortisone type shots in my low back & SI Joints.  I was asked to stop riding & swimming from September 12th thru December 26, 2016.  I did as I was told and I didn’t complain.  I didn’t get any better.  I eliminated all exercise other than 2 slow, easy runs per week.  I gained weight.  I lost strength.  I became frustrated.  I ate too much sugar.  No need to write about that. 

The first of the year (2017) brought a new beginning.  I started adding in more running & strength work.  I’m seeing slow improvements.  I can lift a gallon of milk.  I carried the laundry basket up the stairs today.  I can function, as long as I don’t have to sneeze.  Then you might actually see tears. Why does sneezing HURT so badly?

We’ve ran up some hills.

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We’ve discovered new trails.

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I finally got a new bike & started riding again.  Michael thinks its “the best bike ever” and was yelling the same when I took this pic.  Love that kid.  Pure joy.

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I started getting up earlier on Monday’s to go to Chicago “early” so I can take advantage of a Master’s Swim class before I go into the office.  That lead to my buying some training devices.  And believe it or not, I even know what to do with these things!  My swim WILL improve this year!

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2017 is off to a solid start.  I’ve really got my head down and am working on building strength & skills at this point.  I’ve registered for a few spring marathons & a few 70.3 triathlons over the summer.  My fall season is wide open so far because I had planned for over 2 years to do Ironman North Carolina in October 2017 but they canceled it after last year’s race.  For some reason, my fall is staring at me with wide eyes asking me “what’s up”?  And I just don’t know.  I have no idea how much I can build.  I have no idea how much will be taken out of me with what I’ve already committed to racing.  I have no idea how my back will feel as my training progresses.  I have no idea what I want to do in place of IM NC.  My “real life” schedule & the races in which I have interest, just don’t seem to be meshing this year.   I refuse to force races into my schedule.  Running & Triathlon is fun for me.  Its about fitness and challenging myself.  Its social.  It stops being fun if it causes stress or makes me miss something that I want to do in real life.  The family, in particularly the kids come first.  I fully agree with the Trace Adkins song, “You’re Going to Miss This”.  Time flies and kids grow up fast.  I don’t want to miss anything.  So maybe I’ll be racing this fall, maybe I’ll just be following Aby around from one Cross Country venue to the next.  Who knows.  Only time will tell.  I refuse to force the schedule.

Never Have to Force Anything

Wishing you all a healthy, happy and fun filled 2017!!  Chase those dreams but don’t forget what’s important along the way!

** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

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What to Wear ….. Winter Running

Baby, its cold outside!!  And I don’t mean maybe!  Our long run last Saturday was a “feels like” temperature of –11.  Windy.  Cold.  Eyelash freezing kind of day.  And my girls had 14 miles on their schedule.  What to do?  Well, run, of course!! 

Its only Cold if Youre Standing Still

The key to running in the cold is all about having good gear.  And using it.  Don’t worry about looking cute or messing up your hair.  This is a safety thing.  If you go outside to run for hours in below zero temps, you must be smart.  I want you to go back home with all your fingers & toes & WITHOUT frost bite.  And always, if you don’t feel like its safe, then stay home.  It’s all up to your discretion. 

1)  Base Layers are key.  If you want to save money, look for last chance offers or clearance deals but bottom line, buy good base layers.  My favorite & an undeniably one of the best is Under Armour Cold Gear Mock Neck.  Its fitted.  Sits next to your skin & has a soft brushed fabric on the inside.  Its long.  Base layers either need to be tucked into your pants or long enough that they don’t ride up.  This top has a thin band of a rubber like substance around the bottom hem to help it “stick” to your clothes.  No exposed bellies that can get frostbitten!!  $49.99 from the Under Armour website.   Well worth the investment. If you want to save a little come, create a free account thru Ebates & get cash back for shopping online.  I’ve done it for years and its free $$ that not a lot of people know about.  Under Armour is currently giving 6% cash back if you shop thru the ebates site.  Super cool.

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2)  Pants.  Must protect your legs.  If they have a wind block, even better but I’ve had great luck with the Polartec pants from Athleta.  I pretty much only buy pants from Athleta because they offer TALL sizes.  I have the old version of the Polartec tights.  Aby has the newest ones.  Athleta is currently 2% back on ebates & they are having an Extra 20% off sale items with the code:  EXTRA20   Since most of the winter stuff is on sale now, you may be able to grab a pair for cheap, if you can find your size.  Great pants & tights for COLD weather.   I wore just the Polartec tights, without any other pants, last SAT in –11 wind chill & my legs were cold but not frozen.   Love, Love, LOVE them.

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3)  Jacket.  A good jacket that is wind & water resistant is worth its weight in gold.  I have a couple old ones that aren’t being made anymore.  However, I just bought Aby the Saucony Nomad Jacket off the clearance rack at an expo in November.  Her friends then went & found the same one on eBay.  So 3 of them have the same jacket.  It’s a good one, if you can still find it!  Its wind and water proof and she has gotten a lot of use out of it.  This is a bigger ticket item.  Expect to pay over $100 for a new item, from this year’s winter line.  Or shop the clearance rack at expos, the local run store or check out the Last Chance clearance deals at the big name running company online stores:  Saucony, Brooks, Mizuno, Nike.  Brand isn’t important, quality is the goal. 

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4)  Gloves.  Everyone is a bit picky about their gloves so you’ll need to look around and find what you like.  I personally have 4 different pair of Manzella’s.  A few of the Sprint and a couple in the Ultra line.   I have different thickness from barely there to a real lining.  Some people need mittens.  Others need gloves with the mitten flip top.  Figure out what keeps you warm throughout the season.  And if all else fails, don’t be afraid to use a pair of Hot Hands to keep you toasty warm!

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5)  Earband/Headbands, Hats, Neck Gaiters, Balaclavas & Face Masks.  So much stuff, what to wear?  Well, I pretty much own & wear all of these things.  Once the temp dips below 40, I usually wear an ear or “headband”.   This keeps my ears warm when the wind is whipping, even if the temps aren’t real low.  Its lightweight, wicks sweat & stays put.  I have one from Athleta from years gone by.  The girls have a cute one from Under Amour that was on clearance at an expo.  I also use the headband under hats (caps & beanies) to make sure my ears always stay covered.    I usually buy from a sporting good store in the Ski section cuz skiers know cold.   I’ll use a headband & beanie for most winter days. 

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Once the weather breaks into the “unspeakable cold”, you may or may not decide to stay indoors for running.  I still like to go outside.  It makes me feel tough to get out in the cold and put in a  few (or more) miles.  When people are talking about the wind-chill and how cold it is outside, they’ll also be talking about us running outside.  We need to make it back home safely so that they are talking about how crazy we are rather than our stupidity.  This is where the neck gaiter, balaclava & the face mask come into play.  Keep your skin safe!!

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6)  Socks.  Last but certainly not least, we must have good socks.  If its below 30 degrees, I don’t want to see any ankles.  That inch of skin between our tights and “no show” socks is important too.  Move to taller socks in the cold temps.  Some with wool properties that will wick sweat & help keep you dry might be a good idea.  Warm, dry feet are HAPPY feet.  I prefer Smartwool & Injinji socks but once again, this is all about preference.  In the winter I do my cold, snowy runs in my Injinji trail socks that are a midweight mini-crew style.  Keeps my toes toasty warm!  Injinji now has a nuwwol line too that has an Outdoor Midweight Mini Crew in Nuwwol.  I just ordered a couple pair of these since Aby & I share some of these winter run items.  Its hard to keep up on the laundry! image image image

The bottom line is that you CAN run outside all winter long, if you want.  There are very few conditions, short of ice, that you can’t dress for and tolerate.  I understand that its easy to use the excuse that its too cold but let’s be honest, usually that’s just an excuse.  Bundle up.  Keep moving.  And learn to enjoy running in EVERY season, even winter.

I’ll see you on the trail!

** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Spartan Giveaway WINNER!

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Today is the day!  Let’s get someone a FREE race entry to start out their 2017 season!!  I have one Spartan Race entry to give away to a lucky someone.  The random number generator selected number 8, which is Liz Lew!  Congrats, Liz!image 

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Liz, please email me at amanda@tootallfritz.com to collect your code for the free entry to any open US Spartan Race of your choice.

The rest of us can go here to select our 2017 the Spartan Races!

Thanks for entering!!  Now, let’s start planning for 2017!

** Arooo ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Spartan Race FREE ENTRY Giveaway …..

In honor of the NBC airing of the 2016 Reebok Spartan Race World Championships on Christmas Day at 5pm EST, we are giving away ONE open heat entry to a US Spartan Race of your choice! 

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The 2017 Spartan Races will feature NEW season passes.  New medals.  New locations.

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Even with all the NEW stuff that Spartan is offering, they will still deliver the same great experience that will leave you walking away feeling like you REALLY accomplished something.  Who knows, you may even feel like a badass.  Smile

In case you’re new to the scene, a Spartan Race is an obstacle course race (OCR) that combines running & strength work to tackle obstacles in route.  Depending on what distance you choose, the event can be as short as 3+ miles or as long as 12+.  Lots of options, info on the various race distances from the Spartan website below:

There are three main types of Spartan Races.

For beginners we recommend the Sprint. Spartan’s shortest courses are 3+ miles and 20+ obstacles. Complete the race at your own pace. If you fail an obstacle along the way, you owe us 30 burpees before continuing on.

Ready for more? The Super is 8+ miles, 24+ obstacles, and often hosted on a tougher terrain.

The hardest of the three races is the Beast: 12+ miles and 30+ obstacles. We’ll leave the challenges of the course to your imagination.

For those who dare: check out our Ultra Beast, Hurricane Heat, Hurricane Heat 12 Hour and Agoge endurance races.

They also offer kids races and various events across the country.  No matter where you live, there is most likely a Spartan Race near you!  Put in your zip code on the race finder HERE & a map with pop up with your recommended location. There are so many great venues this year and several early season races that will deliver you out of this cold, snow & ice & into a nice warm climate.  You can check out the race calendar or plan your racecation to a warm local by clicking on one of the early season races below:

No matter where you decide to race or at what distance, as always HAVE FUN!

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Spartan Races has given me one FREE race entry to give away. US Races only.  Open Heat Races only.   What do you need to do to win?  Just comment below and tell me what’s the hardest endurance type event that you’ve ever completed.   If it’s a Spartan Race, great.  If not, we still want to know!  Giveaway begins NOW & goes until noon EST on Thursday, 12/29/16.  Let’s get some one a free entry to start off the new year!  Remember, you can only win if you leave a comment below! 

** AROOOOOOO *** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Whooha Gear Giveaway Winner!

Thank you for participating in the Whooha Gear giveaway!!  Whooha is an amazing company with great products & inspiring messages.  THAT, I love.

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Today the Random Number Generator selected #19. 

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Number 19 was Joyelle P!!

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Joyelle, please email me at amanda@tootallfritz.com with your shirt size, mailing addy & let me know if still want the BE shirt.

For the rest of us, we can order here and use the 10% off code:  INSPIRE to add a few new inspirational tees to our wardrobe.

** Go Forth & Inspire ** Amanda – TooTallFritz 

Whooha Gear Giveaway & Discount Code ….

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Whooha Gear is my go to favorite for lifestyle tees & tanks.  I’ve long been a fan of their clothing line, optimistic attitudes and their “Believe, Achieve, Inspire” type quotes.  Each piece is branded “Play Hard, Take Chances & Keep Smilin’”.  Why, yes, I will!  Factor in the low prices & great selection and now you know why I’m hooked.  Smile

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Some of my Whooha Gear collection is below.  I pulled these from the archives so you won’t see all of them in the current lineup.  I’ve added a link to the ones that are still available.   I wear these pieces nonstop. If you travel with me, you may be tired of looking at them but no worries, I got a few new ones for our future trips!!!

whooha_redshirt   whooha_tri umph

I Run Long Sleeve Burnout Hoodie

Whooha_i run

whooha_tri  whooha_tri 3   whooha_tri 2 

Heartbeat Slub Tee                                  I Run Long Sleeve Thermal

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Regret Nothing Slub Tee

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As you can tell, I’ve been collecting for a while and I’ve just added two new ones this week.  The Chase Your Dreams Slub Tee and the Be Yourself Slub Tee. Michael loves the “don’t follow your dreams, chase them” tee.  He insisted on taking a pic.  So “Hello” from Mr. Michael!!  I’m a huge fan too.  Wore that one yesterday & today I’m wearing the Be Yourself.  BE strong, humble, true, happy, inspired, fearless, kind, bold, selfless, hopeful, courageous, love, consistent, graceful, disciplined, bright, brave and wise. Just BE yourself.  I couldn’t say it better myself.  We are all different.  That’s the great thing about everyone.  Don’t be afraid to BE you!

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Whooha Gear has graciously offered a giveaway of one tee to one lucky reader!  And since they are all about you BEing yourself, they want you to pick the shirt you like best.  So the winner will get to pick either the Chase Dreams or the BE shirt. 

To enter the giveaway, please comment below as to which shirt you would pick upon winning this amazing giveaway!  You can get a bonus entry by sharing this giveaway via any social media outlet of your choosing.  Just make sure to let me know in your comment (below) WHERE you shared it.  In fact, tag me if you can, cuz I’ll need to verify the share if you win via the bonus entry. 

If you are so excited about Whooha Gear that you can’t wait for the win, then feel free to use the discount code:  INSPIRE for 10% of your purchase!  Whooooohaaaaaa! 

Giveaway starts now & a winner will be drawn on Wednesday, June 15th, around noon EST.  Good luck!

** Be Inspired, Inspire & Chase YOUR Dreams ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Spartan Races Giveaway WINNER & Discount Code

So many tough athletes out there who can’t wait to get into the next Spartan Race!   Let’s start somebody’s holiday weekend off with a bang by giving them a free entry to the Spartan Race of their choosing! 

The winner is #9, Andrey Menshov!  No catch, Andrey, just email me at amanda@tootallfritz.com and I’ll give you a code for a free entry!  Have fun at Lake Tahoe at the Ultra Beast!

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For the rest of us, there is a Memorial Day special going on now thru 6/1 that saves up to $40 on race registrations.  Use code:  MEMORIAL and register HERE.

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If you miss the 6/1 registration deadline, you can use the code:  SPARTANBLOGGER at any time to get 10% off any race.

There is also a new booking coming out for Spartan lovers & fitness fanatics alike.  Its Spartan Fit by Joe DeSena.  If you need a little inspiration, feel free to pre-order HERE.  I read his last book Spartan UP and it was great, filled with lots of tips and inspirational quotes.  It looks like he is taking it to the next level this time with a 30 day plan to transform your body.  I’ll let you know what I think but the cover is below in case you spot it in the store or want to put your name on the pre-order list.

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Have a great & SAFE weekend – Amanda – TooTallFritz

Fort4Fitness Spring Cycle – Inaugural 100K Ride

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The 2016 Fort4Fitness Spring Cycle was on May 21, 2016.  This was the 3rd year for the Spring Cycle event but the first time adding the 100K distance (62 miles). It was also the first time I participated.  To be honest, I’ve been intrigued by the event in the past, but this year the 100K pulled me in for registration! 

It was a cool, crisp morning on Saturday with temps expected to reach the 70s.  The 100K had 258 participants, who started at 9am.  The remaining 1,050ish participants started at 10am to ride the 10, 16, 34 or 44 mile routes.  Large crowd.  Easy venue for packet pickup & the start, all of which was at the Arts United Center on Main Street in Ft Wayne.  I was happy to have started early because there were several events in Ft Wayne and parking looked difficult as it got closer to the start time.  So many bikes!  The 100K was off at 9am on the dot!  There I am!

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The route traveled thru Ft Wayne, out of town and toward Antwerp, OH.  Mostly low traveled country roads and some busier roads with a wide shoulder.  Police at most major intersections.  Course markers both painted on the road, then larger visual signs to help cyclists follow the route.

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Four aid stations for the 100K,  one that we hit 2x, one at the turnaround and the last one near the end.  I only stopped at the turnaround point where I was pleased to see that there was NOT a line to the ladies room but the line for the men’s room was quite long!  Such a roll reversal, where were all my lady cyclists for the 100K?  The aid station had bananas, water & Gatorade, snacks and energy bars.  It was a quick in and out and I was back on the road.  The wind was decently strong and it was overcast.  I was wondering if it would rain even though it was starting to warm up.  I definitely wanted to keep moving and get back to the finish area.

The return trip to Ft Wayne took us down some nice roads with the wind at our back.  Smooth sailing for a bit, then we hit Amish Country and the roads weren’t as smooth (read pretty darn rough on my bum) &  there was horse “debris” that we had to dodge.  Not something I’m totally unfamiliar with but it forces me to be extra vigilant.  About this time, we also started meeting the cyclists from the other events.  That was nice.  I tend to fall in a category of my own when I ride.  I’m not fast enough for the fast people and I’m not slow enough for the slower riders.  That means I spend a lot of time pushing alone.  Not a bad thing because I ride for triathlon and we can’t draft.  Plus, the road cyclists make me nervous when they travel in large packs and are so close to each other.  I always worry they will crash and take me with them!  So once I joined the other riders, it was game on, just like a triathlon when we are pushing back to T2 …… “ON YOUR LEFT”.   

I want to shout out all the police and volunteers who helped with this event.  It takes a lot of people to put on a 100K ride.  So many intersections, especially when we traveled thru several towns and the ride started and ended in the middle of downtown Ft Wayne.  Getting back downtown in the afternoon was not an easy task for us or the many police officers who were assigned to help with traffic.  They did a great job and seemed to be patient.  Thanks for that. 

I was all smiles when I hit the finish.  I was ready to rack the bike!

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The finish line festival offered a bike valet so we could rack our bikes, enjoy the expo and go to the finish line party.  I was very happy with that.  I was parked very close to the finish line but would not have stayed if the bike valet wasn’t offered.  The first 1200 participants received a medal & tee shirt.  We also received a picnic lunch (hot dog, chips & a drink) and there was beer to purchase for those who were interested.  However, the cycling was definitely the main event.  It looked as if most rode, ate & left.  Good time.  Good day.  Great support.  Thanks, Ft Wayne!  I’ll be back next year!

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** Happy Cycling ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Spartan Race FREE ENTRY Giveaway & Discount Code

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Nothing says badass like the Spartan Races.  The Spartan Races are a spectacular series of events which will bring out the beast in all of us whether you’re looking to invoke your inner toughie or prove once again that you are strong, fit & brave.

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The Spartan is an obstacle course race that combines running & strength work to tackle obstacles in route.  Depending on what distance you choose, the event can be as short as 3+ miles or as long as 12+.  Lots of options, info on the various race distances from the Spartan website below:

There are three main types of Spartan Races.

For beginners we recommend the Sprint. Spartan’s shortest courses are 3+ miles and 20+ obstacles. Complete the race at your own pace. If you fail an obstacle along the way, you owe us 30 burpees before continuing on.

Ready for more? The Super is 8+ miles, 24+ obstacles, and often hosted on a tougher terrain.

The hardest of the three races is the Beast: 12+ miles and 30+ obstacles. We’ll leave the challenges of the course to your imagination.

For those who dare: check out our Ultra Beast, Hurricane Heat, Hurricane Heat 12 Hour and Agoge endurance races.

They also offer kids races and various events across the country.  No matter where you live, there is most likely a Spartan Race near you!  Put in your zip code on the race finder & a map with pop up with your recommended location.

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The closest races to me are the Chicago Super & Sprint weekend on June 11th and the Indiana Sprint on July 9th.  Which race is in your backyard?  Look HERE.

I have one free entry to give away to the Spartan Race of your choosing.  In order to be entered in the giveaway, please make a comment below and tell me which race you would choose if you win the free entry.  Easy right?  Giveaway runs from now until next Friday, May 27th at 11am EST.  I want to send someone into the upcoming Memorial Day weekend with a FREE ENTRY to a Spartan Race.  Good luck!

For those of us who can’t wait and want to register now, I have a 10% off discount code:  SPARTANBLOGGER.  Feel free to use that code any time and register HERE by finding the race of your choosing. 

** AROO – Amanda – TooTallFritz **

The Influence of Social Media on Fitness

The influence of social media on fitness is currently huge.  I can’t log onto Facebook or Instagram without seeing sweaty gym selfies on my newsfeed.  There is a constant barrage of posts about fitness, workouts and training.  Sometimes the meaning of these fitness posts get lost on its audience and I want to take a minute to think about that.  Oh, and here is my sweaty selfie from my morning ride on the trainer.  Smile

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I see many who get annoyed and block or unfollow the posters of these sweaty selfies.  The poster may be a friend, blogger, or an acquaintance.  But some people like my husband have just had enough.

Unless You Fell off the Treadmill

Other people are inspired and want to see more.  It helps them get motivated in the mornings when they’d rather sleep in or just sit and drink coffee in their pajamas.  How about you; how do you feel?

For me, it’s about motivation, inspiration and accountability.  I don’t have a coach.  I don’t really have anyone who cares whether I work out or not.  I do it for me.  Each workout.  Each drop of sweat.  Each time I get up and get moving when I just want to sleep, it’s for me.  Those sweaty selfie posters, aren’t taking pics of themselves cuz they think they are awesome.  They are doing it to hold themselves accountable.  To document workouts over time.  To watch their own progress.  To motivate themselves to stick with it and keep pushing when nobody in their real world cares.  If it motivates others, bonus.  If not …..

Posting Workouts on FB

So please keep posting those sweaty selfies.  Keep giving me the details of your workouts.  Keep working hard cuz that’s what this is all about.  It’s not pretty.  It’s certainly not sexy.  It’s hard work and I’m proud to know so many people who are chasing their dreams and being a positive influence on social media.  It’s not bragging, it’s the way that we hold ourselves accountable.  It’s the way we connect with others who care about fitness.  It’s who we are, day in and day out.  If by chance, we possibly motivate even one person along the way, then it was worth it.  So let’s see those sweaty selfies!  Post yours to social media and tag @tootallfritz on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook!

** Cheers ** Amanda – TooTallFritz