Thursday, January 19, 2017

Exploring The Carnival Vista - Girls Cruise Recap Post 1

Hello friends! I am back on dry land following a whirlwind girls week that didn't exactly go as planned. If you know me personally, you know I live life by a schedule and a spreadsheet. Well I learned on this trip that not all things can be planned for and sometimes you have to go with the flow.
My best friend and I go on an annual girls cruise following a race during Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. We were scheduled to run the 20th year Walt Disney Half Marathon on Saturday but mother nature had other plans and the race was cancelled. However, that didn't stop some of us - check out what a bunch of us did instead.
Sunday morning, we headed down to Miami bright and early and got on the boat around 11:30. We were able to explore the ship without many people on board. This was the earliest we've ever gotten on the ship and I can tell you, this was like adding an extra day at sea. I strongly suggest purchasing the Faster to the Fun if your suite or VIFP level (platinum & above) doesn't include Priority.
Upon walking in the ship, both of our jaws dropped. I knew this ship would be impressive but the Vista still took our breath away. I've been on my fair share of Carnival ships and can honestly say they went above and beyond with the ships decor.
After getting our annual photo on the ships deck, we headed to the SkyRide. After a short 15 minute wait, we were on our bikes. A tip for those planning to cruise on the Vista -  do the SkyRide on your boarding day. Multiple days of our cruise, it was closed due to the winds. When it was open on days at sea, the line was loooooong. You also need closed toe shoes in order to participate.
After the SkyRide, we headed to the lobby bar to get a Carnival Cosmo, our first drink tradition (check out the Carnival Cosmo recipe here).

We really enjoyed the lobby on this cruise. The middle changes scenes throughout the day and it was a great spot to take photos! Check out the video above for the under the sea scene.
There is a theater on board - the Carnival Vista IMAX has movies showing that are currently in theaters. We almost saw La La Land on the last day at Sea but opted against it. Another big hit showing on our cruise was Rouge One. They offer popcorn, candy and beer at an additional charge. The price for IMAX was $12 a ticket. Very cool addition to cruising, especially for rainy days at sea.
Let's talk SLIDES! The Carnival Vista has a large Waterworks area offering fun for all ages. The Twister was an extremely fast slide.

If you are looking to do something a little more low key but tons of fun, you must check out the Kalide-O-Slide. I now know what if feels to slide through a rainbow.
There are a variety of Bars on board the Carnival Vista.The Alchemy Bar still stands as my favorite bar on any Carnival ship. It is the best place to find craft cocktails on board. If you find yourself on the ship anytime soon, seek out Gabriel & AnnaMaria. They're pretty awesome!
We spent a fair amount of time in Red Frog Pub. I absolutely loved the atmosphere.  They had corn hole, foozball and table shuffleboard for their patrons to compete. Red Frog was also home to Karaoke and trivia. Red Frog has it's own brewery at sea and offers brew tours. Plus they sold refillable aluminum growlers! You can order their snacks (at an additional small fee) and take them back to your room. Lastly, they have pub tables which has their own keg. You swipe your sail and sign card and don't have to worry about going to the bar. Genius!
We loved visiting the Havana Bar and did so on a daily basis. They sold Cafe Con Leche and the best espresso martini we have had at sea. Havana Bar also offers snacks at an additional fee after 5pm. At night, it turned into a Latin night club with incredible dancing and live music. On the Vista, they have Havana Suites. Those lucky sailors had a private pool area.
The Carnival Vista Piano Bar was far more upscale than any other we have seen. Live entertainment and singing along is always a great time. I liked that the Vista's one had a variety of seating options.
The Carnival Vista Library Bar is a quiet spot to get an amazing glass of wine. This is the one place on the ship that you can get higher end wines by the glass. For the wine lovers out there, this is a spot you want to remember aboard Carnival ships.Especially if it has a balcony - hello sunset!
The Liquid Lounge was a co-op space. In the earlier evening it was the home for live entertainment and later at night, it turned into a nightclub. We saw a few shows while on the ship and participated in Carnival Quest. If you are going on a Carnival cruise, I strongly suggest you seeing this show. I am not giving any details but can say of the two cruises we've witnessed Quest (perhaps participated), both left us with aches in our cheeks from laughing so hard. On this cruise, we enjoyed the Lip Sync Battle.

Stay tuned for reviews on many of the Carnival Vista restaurants, shows, our port activities and what to do when you have an unexpected additional day at sea.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Getting fit in 2017 with an affordable home gym Kohls Fitness #MakeYourMove

This post is sponsored by Kohl’s. I was paid for this post and received the included fitness equipment as compensation.

Getting fit in the New Year is a resolution that nearly everyone has had at least once in their lives. It's also a common resolution that gets broken before the Spring. When I think of why I didn't achieve my fitness goals, the number one thing that comes to mind is time management. I'm not a morning person and I am mentally drained by the time 5:00 comes around.

When my husband and I bought our house last summer, we had a spare room, which was going to be a second guest room or a fitness room.  We made the decision to make it a home gym because taking up the space would help us keep motivated. You cannot make an excuse not to go to the gym when it is upstairs from where you are sitting on the couch.
Kohl's helped me in making our home gym dreams come true by providing us with a few key pieces equipment. Prior to this, when I thought of Kohl's fitness, workout gear came to mind, not workout equipment. So I was pleasantly surprised when I saw all the options they sell and impressed when I saw the price points of the equipment.
Today I am going to show you how to create an impressive home gym from Kohl's for well under $1,000.
Starting first with my favorite piece of all - ProForm Desk X-Bike Exercise Bike which is currently on sale for $199 marked down from $249. This desk bike was designed to save space, which is the number one thing you need to look for when creating a home gym. I spend half of my work week on conference calls. Now I can put in mileage while working!
The ProForm Desk X-Bike Exercise Bike has a ton of amazing features along with an Inertia-enhanced flywheel, EKG grip pulse to your heart rate, an over-sized cushion seat with vertical seat adjustment, SMR magnetic resistance and portability wheels. I love the over sized LCD display which helps me go additional miles while discussing work. The desk tray is detachable and it snaps on and off, so you can use it as a stationary bike as well.
The ProFrom Easy Strider Elliptical was the piece of equipment that shocked me the most when we unpacked the box. The price point on this machine is $379.99 (normally $449.99) and I was blown away at the features. The first thing I noticed was Jillian Michaels name. She created an 8 week proven weight loss program and there are also 18 other workouts to choose from. Since I was on a cruise last week, I have not started the 8 week program yet but will be doing so tonight! There are two other things that stood out other than Jillians name. First is the CoolAire workout fan, which I love. Our condo's gym had older equipment, none of which had a fan installed in it. Now if I get too heated, I just turn up the air. It is also iPod compatible, so you can rock out to your workout with the built in speakers. This front drive machine takes up a smaller footprint in home gyms compared to rear drive elliptical's.
When my husband learned I would be getting a home gym from Kohl's, he became most excited over the Stamina Magnetic Rowing Machine 1110. We both started a trainer led workout which has a large amount of rowing challenges. The rower is one of the things I desperately need to get better at and now that I have this bad boy at home, I will soon excel at the gym!
The Stamina Magnetic Rowing Machine Rower has 8 levels of adjustable magnetic resistance and a Multi-functional workout monitor that will help me reach your goal of beating my husband on the rower one day. There is a holder which can be used for drinks, cell phones, etc. The seat glides quietly and smoothly thanks to an aluminum rowing beam and ball-bearing rollers. Currently priced at $189.99 (normally $319.99) this is an amazingly affordable piece for the home gym.
Last but certainly not least, what is one thing that all athletes have in common - sore strained muscles. Now don't get me wrong, I love pampering myself at the spa but I don't always have the time to spare and it get's quite costly. I was intrigued when Kohl's said they would be sending over a Stamina BackTrac Back Massager and happy to report back that this portable and lightweight massager is pretty amazing. For $99, it features 30 strategically-placed spherical elements which provide acupressure and massage therapy to your entire back. I think of it as a foam roller for my back.

Many thanks to Kohl's for setting us up to getting fit in 2017!

My blog may contain links to other websites. I am not responsible for the privacy policies of those other websites. When you click on a link, your information may be collected by those websites so I encourage you to read their privacy policies. These affiliate links are not associated with Kohl’s.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Become Fitter in 2017 with Protein World and Khloe Kardashian

My best friend is a huge fan of the Kardashian's. She frequently references them in real life situations and I can honestly say 99% of the time, I have no clue what she is referring to. However, I have been following Khloe Kardashian and her weight loss transformation over the past few years. I can honestly say when I saw her latest photo shoot, she dropped the mic.
Khloe partnered up with Protein World and is bringing you her top tips and advice on smashing those New Year New You goals. Protein World has been Khloe's secret weapon in crafting her perfect “Revenge Body".
"My biggest piece of advice is to remind ourselves that we all have to start somewhere. I also love that someone once told me you can't get it all in one day. I remember when I first started I was so frustrated that I did not have this body in the first week I started working out. Obviously if it was easy everybody would have their dream bodies, but it takes work and perseverance. It takes dedication and literal sweat and tears. That said, it's the most rewarding feeling ever"

I will be taking on the Protein World 30 day Challenge using the same products that Khloe used. The Protein World 30 day challenge includes 12 different workouts to torch fat, tone and make those 2017 resolutions come to life. The plan contains full body workouts alongside a comprehensive meal planner to get you in gear for reaching your goals.

Stay tuned and click here for more details if you want to join the challenge with me!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Cancelled 2017 Walt Disney World Half Marathon that lived on

I have ran 20 half marathons and 5 full marathons in all types of weather. Wind, rain, sleet, extreme heat and freezing cold conditions. Until Saturday, I have not had a race cancelled on me. We stalked the weather channel app on an hourly basis and speculated throughout the day with other friends who were scheduled to run the 2017 Walt Disney World Half Marathon...What was runDisney going to do? Cut the course? Start it earlier? Change the course so we start under cover if needed? There was one thing for certain, the weather radar showed lightning in the area all morning. With 25,000 runners, volunteers and course support, Disney had to keep us safe.
I received a text around 7:30pm from my friend Heather. She saw early reports the Half Marathon being cancelled. Of all situations that went through our heads, cancelling the race was the furthest from it. We went through a wave of emotions. I will state, both my best friend Keri and I were already a ball of nerves about this race. We forgot to put in our proof of time and were starting in the back of the pack. I knew we wouldn't be able to take many character photo opp's. We didn't want to be stuck outside in the rain for an hour while the 25,000 runners in front of us started the race.
After it sunk in we wouldn't have a 3:00am wake-up call, we headed to Disney Springs where we found many others wearing their Half Marathon shirts and had a few cocktails at STK. With zero intentions of running on Saturday, we decided we would get our mileage in over the course of the next few days while on our girls cruise.
Keri and I were staying at Pop Century. She woke me up at 7am on Saturday. It went like this:
Megan, wake up - there are people running the half marathon outside our hotel
Keri, shut the curtain, that's the sound of thunder go back to bed
No Megan, go on social media, people are running
I pulled myself out of bed, look out the window and sure enough I see a runner, another runner, someone in a tutu - everyone proudly wearing their bibs. We quickly put on our outfits, laced up our sneakers and joined the party.
At first, we passed a few people here and there. It was raining pretty hard but we were able to take cover when needed. Safety was our main objective and we had to take cover after the first mile around the lake.
This is when we found two guys running Dopey who already got in their 13.1 miles that morning. One of whom was dressed as Anna and I knew right then, we had to get a photo with him. This would start our tour of fake character opp's around the resort.
Once the rain let up, we continued on. Passing a lot of the same people along the hourglass shaped course. We would venture off into the buildings, taking photos as we wished. No character lines. We ended up having a total blast.
The crowd support is what touched me the most. People staying in the resort and friends / family of other runners who decided to get their mileage in and earn the medal runDisney will be sending us in the mail. People were handing out shots of water, pretzels, candy. People in ChEAR Squad shirts, with cowbells and screaming encouragement at runners. See below for yourself.

The crowd grew. The runners on the course were multiplying. This was happening. A makeshift half marathon. The many Dopey's we passed proudly wearing their bibs would earn that 48.6 miles. The Goofy's will get in their 39.3 miles.
One thing was certain, the runners were so supportive of one another. No screaming on your left. It was just smiles all around - good job runner. Keep it up. It was a level of unity that I have never witnessed before. It was magical and we were proud to be part of this moment.
Of course we were bummed not to run the official 13.1 but the last thing we wanted to do was dwell on negativity or complain. Instead, we made the best out of the situation and ended up having an amazing morning.
On a side note, I will state - Disney went above and beyond to make this right. Our safety is their number one concern and they did not have to give us any kind of refund. When registering for the race, it says they are not liable for refund due to weather.
They gave runners four options to get a form of a refund. Without a doubt, we are going with option 3 - Wine and Dine 2017 here we come!
Option 1: A full refund for their race registration in the form of a Disney Gift Card.

Those participating in the Walt Disney World Half Marathon, runDisney Kids Races, ChEAR Squad and Race Retreat will receive a refund in the form of a Disney Gift Card in the amount equal to their registration. Those participating in the Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge and/or Dopey Challenge will receive a partial refund in the amount of the half marathon registration.

Walt Disney World Half Marathon, runDisney Kids Races, ChEAR Squad and Race Retreat participants: Bring a valid photo ID and race bib or wristband to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on Saturday, Jan. 7 between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Disney Cast Members will be there to guide you.

Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge and/or Dopey Challenge Participants: For your convenience, there is no need to visit the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Medals will be awarded on Sunday, Jan. 8, after the full marathon. Your refund will be automatically sent to you via electronic Disney Gift Card.

Option 2: Two One-Day Park Hopper tickets.
This option is no longer available

Option 3: Transfer registration to another runDisney half marathon race in the U.S. within the next 24 months, subject to availability.

Runners interested in transferring their registration to another runDisney half marathon in the U.S. within the next 24 months should contact runDisney beginning Friday, Jan. 13, 2017. Please email your future race preferences to with your name, bib number, phone number and mailing address so we can mail your medal to you. A Disney Cast Member will follow up with a phone call to discuss availability of future half marathon races.

For convenience, those who choose this option will have their 2017 Walt Disney World Half Marathon medal mailed to their home address so there is no need to visit the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

Option 4: There is limited availability to run the full marathon on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017 during the regularly scheduled race.
This option is no longer available

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Seminole Hard Rock Tampa to host Paul Hobbs Wine Dinner

On January 19th, Seminole Hard Rock Tampa will host an exclusive wine dinner featuring legendary wine maker Paul Hobbs at Council Oak. Once called “The Steve Jobs of Wine” by Forbes Magazine, Paul Hobbs twice has been named Wine Personality of the Year by Robert Parker, Jr. So it's no wonder that his wines are among the most sought-after in America and are incredibly allocated and very limited.
This wine dinner at Council Oak Lounge will sell out fast. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. with a cocktail reception and performance by Backstreet, followed by an innovative four-course menu (presented by Chef Dave Puatu) at 7 p.m.

Course 1: Smoked Quail Rag├╣ paired with Bramare Appellation Lujan de Cuyo Melbec, Argentina
Course 2: Chilean Sea Bass paired with Paul Hobbs Chardonnay Russian River Valley
Course 3: Japanese Wagyu Filet paired with Paul Hobbs Beckstoffer Las Piedras Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena
Course 4: Sweet Escape paired with Stratus Vineyard Ice Wine Riesling Niagara-on-the-Lake

Each guest who attends will receive a commemorative bottle of Paul Hobbs 2014 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

Limited tickets (at $333 per person, which includes taxes and gratuity) are available for sale by calling (813-627-6630)

Read about my last Wine Dinner at Seminole Hard Rock Tampa

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Inspiring Runners at Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend

There are many things I love about runDisney but the inspiration you get after attending a race weekend tops all the cool things. Inspiration from runDisney is why I started running in the first place. With a tutu on and no clue what I was doing, I ran my first 5K at Disney in 2012. The following day, I saw runners of all ages, shapes and sizes completing the half marathon. It showed me first hand that if you can train for it, you can run it, regardless of who you are.

Walt Disney World Marathon weekend is presented by Cigna. Among the many services Cigna offers, one is the Cigna Achilles Customer Referral Program, designed for disability customers to work one-on-one with a Cigna vocational coach to help them achieve their health and return to work goals. A few of the stories below are Achilles sponsored athletes who I look forward to cheering on this week.

This weekend, there are many inspiring stories coming out of 4 days of races. From overcoming life threatening injuries, recovering from health scares and recreating your life after addiction, here are some of the amazing people who will be running alongside us this week.
In January 2016, a skiing accident left Nicole Gaine with a traumatic brain injury. Nicole suffered with vision challenges, memory issues and fatigue. She was unable to return to work as an RN or to the activities she loves, like volunteering as a teacher for mountaineering. After a year of intense rehabilitation, Nicole was able to start a new job in her field and go on hikes. In recognition of her dedication and desire to return to health and to work, Nicole's Cigna vocational coach invited her to participate in the Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna as a sponsored Achilles athlete. This week, Nicole will celebrate a major milestone in her recovery. Alongside her daughter, she will participate in the Walt Disney World 5K on January 5.
Chryss LaRoche who suffered a life-threatening brain aneurysm and pulmonary embolism in 2011, is participating in the 5K race with her son on behalf of Cigna. Six years ago, LaRoche was rushed to the hospital where she underwent emergency surgery to drain a brain aneurysm. A week later, her condition worsened and her body showed signs of a stroke, requiring another surgery. Hours after being discharged from the hospital, LaRoche was rushed back when she experienced a pulmonary embolism. After months of rehabilitation, LaRoche’s participation in the Walt Disney World 5K marks a new milestone in her health journey.

Adam Gorlitsky was paralyzed 10 years ago in a car accident. He will participate in all four races during the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. Gorlitsky, with the aid of a robotic suit that gives him back mobility, will walk in a portion of the 5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon races. Since April 2016, he has walked in a few races, challenging what it means to be paraplegic.
Steven "Blake" Bryant was in a motorcycle accident in 2014 that left him with a broken T-4 vertebrae and multiple vertebrae fractures which left him paralyzed from the chest down with full use of his arms and hands. Last September, he started the VA’s ReWalk program which uses a wearable exoskeleton made of robotic legs to help people with spinal cord injury stand upright, walk, climb and descend stairs. In July 2015, Blake started working with Cigna vocational coach Karen McCormack, who provided health and fitness mentoring and career counseling. In recognition of Blake’s desire and commitment to his health and return to work goals, Karen invited Blake to participate in the Walt Disney World® Half Marathon on Saturday as a sponsored Achilles athlete.
Whitney Hamilton is running in the Walt Disney World 5K with his grandson after overcoming addiction and securing housing with the help of the national non-profit organization Back on My Feet. Last year the organization, which combats homelessness through running and community support, received a Cigna and Cigna Foundation grant for $100,000. Whitney joined in August 2014 and got his life back on track, obtaining a job, a car and a place to live while also losing 22 pounds. He now gives back to the community that supported him by mentoring other members of the program.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

2017 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Details

It is hard to believe that Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend starts in two days. I will be running the Half Marathon on Saturday with my best friend, then heading to Miami to board the Carnival Vista. This will be my 22nd runDisney event. It's also the only race where I forgot to turn in my proof of time. OOPS. This means we are starting in Coral N and likely unable to stop for many character photos.
Race day details and course maps are below. If you are running the 5K & 10K, the corral's will be managed a bit different this year, putting you in mini waves. We experienced something similar to this at Disneyland Paris and will be interested to see the feedback from runners.

Walt Disney World® 5K presented by Cigna
Start: Epcot®
Driving Directions
6:00 a.m. on Thursday, January 5, 2017
Each corral will start within the allotted 6-12 minutes, but new for this year will be mini-waves within that time frame. Each corral will be divided into the mini-waves once you enter the start chute.
Walt Disney World® 10K presented by Cigna
Start: Epcot®
Driving Directions
5:30 a.m. on Friday, January 6, 2017
Each corral will start within the allotted 6-12 minutes, but new for this year will be mini-waves within that time frame. Each corral will be divided into the mini-waves once you enter the start chute.
20th Anniversary Walt Disney World® Half Marathon presented by Cigna
Start/Finish: Epcot®
Driving Directions
5:30 a.m. on Saturday, January 7, 2017
Runners will be prohibited from accessing the start corrals from Bonnet Creek Parkway or Buena Vista Drive. You must access the start corrals through the Explore Lot at Epcot®
Walt Disney World® Marathon presented by Cigna
Start/Finish: Epcot®
Driving Directions
5:30 a.m. on Sunday, January 8, 2017
Be sure to give yourself enough time for the walkout to the Corrals, which begin at 4:30. Runners are expected to be in their corrals by 5:00. Runners will be prohibited from accessing the start corrals from Bonnet Creek Parkway or Buena Vista Drive. You must access the start corrals through the Explore Lot at Epcot®
runDisney Health & Fitness Expo
ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
Wednesday, January 4, 2017 Noon - 8:00 p.m.
Thursday, January 5, 2017 10:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Friday, January 6, 2017 10:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, January 7, 2017 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Here is a sneak peek of the 2017 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Merchandise that will be available at the expo.
Happy running and hope to see some of you out there this weekend!