2014 Holiday Gift Guide: Themed Gifts for Fitness Fanatics

Um, how is Christmas only a week away? December is seriously flying by. Luckily, most of my Christmas shopping is done, and I’m really looking forward to this weekend and the beginning of next week to do some fun holiday related activities instead of rushing around with last-minute errands. I know many of you probably still have shopping left though, so I put together a holiday gift guide today to help you! There are SO many posts like these floating around the blog world, and I always love reading about what other bloggers are recommending. I did try to differentiate mine a bit though. Since I love themes more than anything, that’s what you’re getting!

Holiday Gift Guide: Themed Gifts for Fitness Fanatics

Here are some themed gift ideas for any fitness fanatics in your life! Each category has at least seven suggestions to choose from. Happy last minute shopping, friends!

For the yogis:

2014 Holiday Gift Guide for Yogis

For the weight lifters:

2014 Holiday Gift Guide for Lifters

For the runners:

2014 Holiday Gift Guide for Runners

  • Race entry fee. Sign up for a race together!
  • Running jacket. For the early morning or late night runners, check out the NB Glow Beacon style. It’s reflective so you can run safely in the dark!
  • A new pair of running sneakers. I highly recommend the New Balance Fresh Foam 980. It’s my favorite running shoe, and you can read my review of it here. New Balance also has a limited edition glow version of this sneaker that has the same glow technology as the jacket.
  • Outdoor ear band. I love the Eddie Bauer stretch ear band.
  • Subscription to Runner’s World magazine
  • A running armband for your media player. This post outlines some good recommendations.
  • Just because these are adorable: Set of 2 running glasses

For the fitness instructors:

2014 Holiday Gift Guide for Fitness Instructors

  • iTunes gift card
  • A cute notebook or journal (for writing down class plans 5 minutes before class!)
  • Fun printed leggings. I am obsessed with every single pair of leggings that Athleta has, and I don’t think there’s such thing as owning too many pairs, amiright?
  • A workout headband. I don’t discriminate when it comes to headbands (as long as they stay put), but these Sparkly Soul ones are always just so darn fun.
  • For your early morning instructors, a gift card to their favorite coffee shop. *hint hint*
  • Extra batteries in case the gym mic is dead!
  • Reebok Cardio Ultra studio sneakers. Check out my review of these here.

For the gym rats #1: Locker room/gym bag essentials

2014 Holiday Gift Guide: Locker Room Essentials

For the gym rats #2: Rest and recovery day essentials

2014 Holiday Gift Guide for Rest and Recovery

For the fit family:

2014 Holiday Gift Guide for Fit Families

For anyone who wants to be fit at work:

2014 Holiday Gift Guide for Worksite Wellness

–Let’s chat–
Do you have any fitness fanatics in your life? Do you give them healthy living related presents during the holidays? Do you have any items you’d add to any of these themes or themes I didn’t think of? What’s on your wish list this year?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I was not paid to write about any of these products, nor are any of the links within this holiday gift guide affiliate links. I just wanted to share some of my favorite things, brands, and creative ideas with you. Some images were taken from the brand websites. All opinions are my own.

Warm Farro Salad with Orange and Cranberries

Good morning, and Happy Hanukkah to any F&F readers celebrating this week!

I have a new recipe to share with you today.

Warm Farro Salad with Orange and Cranberries

Warm Farro Salad with Orange and Cranberries

Serves 3-4 as a meal or 6 as a side


  • 1 cup farro, uncooked
  • 2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 2-3 oranges
  • 1/3 cup raw and unsalted pecan halves
  • 2-3 tbsp fresh parsley, to taste
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin seed oil
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp real maple syrup, agave, or honey
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Bring the farro and broth to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until farro is tender and water is absorbed.
  2. While the farro is cooking, chop your parsley and peel and chop your oranges.
  3. When the farro is done, drain any excess liquid, and then mix in all remaining ingredients.
  4. Serve warm, and enjoy!

Warm Farro Salad with Orange and Cranberries

This dish is quickly becoming a go to meal in our home because it’s super easy to make, and it also travels well. The orange flavor really adds a nice citrus component to the dish and pairs well against the grainy texture of the farro. The red cranberries and the green parsley also make this salad a nice festive addition to your holiday table this month! If and when blood oranges (Tim’s FAVORITE) ever hit the stores this season, I will definitely be making this salad again using blood oranges instead.

Warm Farro Salad with Orange and Cranberries

For those with nut allergies, try substituting a seed such as sunflower seeds for the crunchy component. Even though I enjoy this warm right after it’s been made, it tastes good cold as leftovers right out of the fridge too. Hope you guys like this one!

–Let’s chat–
What festive salads are you making this season? Do you prefer your whole grain salads warm or cold? What are your favorite seasonal items right now?

For those who entered my Nutcracker ticket giveaway, I emailed the winner (Deanna) on Monday. Thank you all for entering!

F&F Friday Favorites ~ 12.12.14

Hey guys, here are your links for the week. Enjoy the reading material!

Friday Favorites




Worksite Wellness

Blogging and Social Media

Self Image, Inspiration, and Life

If you missed anything on F&F, check out my recipe for healthy snacking with chickpeas, my Thanksgiving recap, and my experience at The Nutcracker this year. The giveaway to enter to win two free tickets to a show next week is open until Sunday!

–Let’s chat–
What have you been reading lately? Do any of these links speak to you today? What was the best part of your week, and what’s up for the weekend?

The best parts of my week were decorating our Christmas tree and overcoming my fear of jumping up to the chinup bar. Our weekend is party, party, party. Literally we have three holiday parties! Hope you guys have a great weekend.

Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker (Ticket Giveaway)

Last Thursday was the first night that I started feeling in the Christmas spirit, and it was because I got to see The Nutcracker at The Boston Opera House!
Boston Ballet's The Nutcracker
As a former dancer, when I was offered a pair of tickets free of charge in exchange for a writeup on the blog, I jumped at the opportunity. I haven’t seen The Nutcracker in YEARS, and I knew right away that I wanted to invite my friend Erin to come with me. Erin and I danced together on the Providence College Dance Company back in the day, so I knew she would appreciate it more than any other friend of mine would, and Tim really appreciated NOT having to come with me. Erin and I were also trying to find some time to catch up before the holidays, but a weekend was just not working out, so this gave us the perfect excuse for a girls night out! We met for dinner before the show at Rustic Kitchen and then made it over to the show for the 7:30 start.
Boston Ballet's The Nutcracker
After we picked up our tickets at will call, we made our way to our seats in the orchestra section. I don’t know if I’ve ever sat in this section of the opera house before!

Boston Ballet's The Nutcracker

The dancers were absolutely STUNNING. In fact, they were actually so beautiful that Erin and I both teared up during different parts of the performance. It was so magical and made us miss our dancing days! I can never decide what my favorite scene is from the show, but the waltz of the flowers, Arabian dance, and the sugar-plum fairy get me every time. Also, I thought that this production cast Clara perfectly. She was spot on with everything.

Here are some press images of the performance courtesy of Liza Voll Photography since I couldn’t snap any as part of the audience.

Boston Ballet's The NutcrackerBoston Ballet's The Nutcracker

And here are some fun fitness facts about The Nutcracker that I dug up to share with you guys:

  • Boston Ballet dancers logged over 70 hours of rehearsal time to get ready for the Nutcracker.
  • On stage, the three Russian dancers do nearly 40 jumps up to five feet in the air all in only one minute and 12 seconds. The lead Russian does 18-20 jumps, and his companions do 10. (I want no complaints the next time we are doing burpees in class!)
  • Mother Ginger’s skirt weighs an impressive 45 pounds, and her (his!) feet are 18-22 inches off the ground on stilts that weigh 15 pounds per pair. This is all with 8 kids hiding under there!
  • The bear’s costume weighs eight pounds, which is CRAZY considering the amount of jumping and turning he has to do without being able to see!
  • The Nutcracker Prince repeatedly lifts 100-120 pounds of ballerina in just the Grand Pas alone.

Cool, huh? Nevermind the amount of athleticism it takes to rehearse for and execute 44 consecutive performances in just 5 weeks. I can’t even imagine!

Boston Ballet's The Nutcracker

I had such a wonderful time at the show, and it was a much-needed night to get my mind off of some things that were bothering me during an especially stressful week. A huge thank you to The Boston Ballet for my tickets and getting me in the holiday mood.

Want to go too? Enter to win a pair of tickets to one of the following Nutcracker performances next week!

  • Tuesday 12/16 at 7:30pm
  • Wednesday 12/17 at 7:30pm
  • Thursday 12/18 at 1:00pm
  • Thursday 12/18 at 7:30pm

All you have to do is leave a comment on this blog post telling me what helps you get in the Christmas spirit. You can receive one extra entry by sharing this giveaway on social media and leaving me a second comment letting me know you did so. This giveaway will run through Sunday 12/14 at 12pm EST, and I will announce the winner on Monday morning. Good luck!

Scenes From Thanksgiving 2014

Time for a photo dump! I figure since it’s almost halfway into December and Tim and I got our Christmas tree last night, I should probably share some scenes from Thanksgiving.

Our Thanksgiving actually started the weekend before Thanksgiving because Slesh and Will hosted our annual Friendsgiving that Sunday. Tim and I spent a good part of our Saturday in the kitchen with music and red wine as we prepared lots of delicious food to bring over.

Thanksgiving 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

We made his and her stuffed mushrooms because we couldn’t agree on what kind to make. I made a Mediterranean version with quinoa, feta, walnuts, and sun-dried tomatoes, and Tim made a reinvented version of the bacon and blue cheese ones I posted eons ago. We also prepared a winter kale salad with homemade cranberry vinaigrette and this homemade cranberry sauce. It was fun having a day together in the kitchen, although I guess we do spend a lot of time in there anyways!

Quinoa & Feta Stuffed Mushrooms

Bacon and Blue Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

Winter Kale Salad

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Slesh and Will’s was really fun. It was full of friends, laughing, lots of food, festive accessories (from Bridget of course!), game playing, face timing with Erica, drinks, and more. I left feeling grateful for the friends in my life!

Thanksgiving 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

On Thanksgiving morning, Tim and I woke up early for a little workout action. We did a quick metabolic resistance workout that consisted of 10 deadlifts, 10 pushups, 10 weighted step ups, 10 single arm rows, and 10 kettlebell swings, AMRAP in 25 minutes. I posted this status on Facebook after our workout which pretty much sums it up!

Body Gratitude

Thanksgiving Workout

After our sweat sesh, it was time for family and food! We started at Tim’s aunts for the earlier part of the day and finished up at my aunt’s with my family. We brought more stuffed mushrooms to Tim’s aunts (we doubled the batch we brought to Slesh and Will’s so it would be one less thing to make the day before Thanksgiving), and I made brownies to bring to my aunt’s. My aunt has a nut allergy, and my uncle has a coconut allergy, and I never realized how hard it is to healthify a dessert without any nuts or coconut. My solution was black beans! They came out pretty good. I also tried to make a gingerbread pumpkin bar, but those didn’t come out as great.

Thanksgiving 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Black Bean Brownies

Thanksgiving 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

This was the first year that the timing worked out for us to get to see both families on the same day, so we were definitely grateful for that. The wine was flowing all day, and I got excited talking about wedding stuff with my cousin who is a bridesmaid in my wedding party. Of course it’s always fun to see my god-daughter who is getting so big.

The rest of my Thanksgiving weekend was a nice combination of friend time and Tim time. Liz and I taught back to back classes on Black Friday, and we grabbed breakfast with the gym crowd afterwards. Tim and I hung in together on Friday night, I got all the details for my Holiday Hustle Challenge ready, we went out to lunch with our friends who were in town on Saturday, and we saw Tim’s sister and her boyfriend for margaritas on Saturday night. Sunday I went to a baby shower and spent the rest of the day relaxing. It was definitely a much-needed break from the grind.

–Let’s chat–
How were your Thanksgivings and long weekends this year? Even though I’m a bit late with this, I want to hear about them!

I’m off to my monthly massage appointment tonight! Fits right in with today’s challenge theme of stressing less. Also, don’t forget about my giveaway for a free week of meals to your doorstep from Just Add Cooking. Not many people are commenting, so you definitely have a good chance of winning. Have a great night, you guys!