Balance Bar Summer Shape Up Challenge ~ #BalanceShapeUp Giveaway

Posted by Jenna | Friday, August 15, 2014

**I received a Walmart GC as part of this sponsored collaboration with Balance Bar. 

Two years ago, I lost 20+ lbs and have felt much healthier ever since. However, it is still a process getting my body back in shape after having three children and my goal for this summer has been to work on that more intentionally. I eat healthier now, but I also have the desire to tone and just be in better shape overall. 

To do this, I decided it was time to restock on some of my favorite items to feel good and look good this I headed off to our local Walmart with my family as part of the Balance Bar Summer Shape-Up Challenge. There I found so many great products that help aid in a healthy lifestyle...healthy snacks, sunscreen, workout gear, water bottles, fitness equipment and more! 

On my wish list are still a treadmill and a bicycle for myself...however I was more drawn to the weights and dvds that have simple workouts for busy moms like myself. Along with these, I have been doing a lot of swimming with the kids and a lot of walking too. 

After all, what I'm learning is that it's important to do at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day like walking, running or just moving your body. It's also just as important to make nutritious meal and snacking decisions to get the most out of the fitness routine I have. So about 90 minutes before my workout I try to eat a small meal/snack to ensure that I have the best levels of energy.

Luckily as part of this challenge I was able to check out the Balance Bar selection, which makes a terrific snack idea before exercising and in between meals. They help me to stay full longer and help satisfy my appetite.  

At Walmart, I found that Balance Bar offers over 20 varieties of bars based on the 40-30-30 nutrition principle (40% calories from carbs, 30% from protein and 30% from dietary fat) - a proven formula developed by scientists to help maintain your blood sugar levels already within a normal range. We picked up a couple of varieties, including the Cookie Dough which is my favorite!

These are such a satisfying snack and perfect for on the go which is great for me! I can simply throw one in the diaper bag, my purse, etc and I am sure to have a healthy snack on hand whenever I need it. 

I am so thankful to have been asked to be a Balance Bar Ambassador and help spread the word about the Balance Bar Summer Shape Up Challenge. You can learn more about the challenge here. The 40 day Challenge is filled with 30 minute workouts and healthy eating tips on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. Holly Del Rosso, an NASM certified personal trainer, created the exercise program which includes 18 different 30-minute workouts focused on different parts of the body such as abs, legs and back. These are a great way to jump start any fitness routine.

I would definitely recommend taking part in this challenge, checking out the 30 minute workouts and of course...trying Balance Bars which you can find at your local Walmart

Win It: One lucky reader is going to win a $10 Walmart Gift Card and a variety pack of Balance Bars of their own! 

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Back to School Eye Exams ~ Why They Are Important! #AOA

Posted by Jenna | Tuesday, August 12, 2014

**I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Mom Central for the American Optometric Association. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

It's August and Back to School time is almost here! Can you believe it?! It's a busy time for families...getting in all of the last minute trips, shopping and of course preparing for the next eight months of school with making sure all the kids have had the appointments they need!

I know many people deal with back to school season differently, but I like to spread things out so we're not as rushed and can still enjoy the last few weeks of summer that we have left. I try to shop on the clearance racks at the end of each season so they have most of the clothes they'll need once school starts. I also try to scatter their appointments throughout the year...then by the time the new school year begins...they're set. For me, this includes doctor's dentists and even the eye doctor. 

My kids have had several eye checks between the optometrist and the school and for that I am thankful. It's hard to know sometimes if someone needs glasses. Some children will show signs and some don't. My kids do not have contacts or glasses, but I do. When I was in preschool I had my eyes checked for the first time, and it was then that they found one of my eyes was weaker than the other. That's how it has been my whole life and I'm thankful to my parents for getting it checked when they did...because otherwise they would never have known! 

My experience is why I felt passionate about being apart of this campaign through Mom Central and the American Optometric Association to help share the importance of back to school eye exams. In today's world, I feel it's especially important with the screen time many kids have. My kids use ipads and ipods from time to time and I know this puts strain on their eyes. Knowing this, I try to monitor their screen time. We have an incentive chart where they earn 10 minutes for every 20 minutes of school work/educational related activities - which usually leads to a max of 30 minutes a day, if that. This has really helped me keep a handle on how much their little eyes are in front of the screen. I also try to remember to practice the 20-20-20 rule...when using technology take a 20 second break, ever 20 minutes and view something 20 feet away.

The use of technology among children is also on the rise in the classroom. A new survey from the American Optometric Association shows that parents drastically underestimate the time their children spend on digital devices. It reports that 83 percent of children between ages 10 and 17 use an electronic device for three or more hours each day. And, 80 percent of children surveyed report experiences burning, itchy or tired eyes after using electronic devices for long periods of time. I believe it, as my eyes got the same way, especially in college when I was in front of a computer much more than I was used to. The following are symptoms of digital eye strain, a temporary vision condition caused by prolonged use of technology.:

  • itchy eyes
  • burning eyes
  • tired eyes
  • headaches
  • fatigue
  • loss of focus
  • blurred vision
  • double vision
  • head/neck pain

Optometrists are also growing concerned about the kinds of light everyday electronic devices give off - high energy, short-wavelength blue light, and how those rays might affect and even age the eyes. This is one thing I hadn't thought about before, but even more of a reason to limit their time in front of the screen and get their eyes checked every year. 

The AOA recommends these things to help prevent or reduce eye and vision problems associated with eye strain and exposure to blue light: 
o      Checking the height and position of the device. Computer screens should be four to five inches below eye level and 20 to 28 inches away from the eyes. Digital devices should be held a safe distance away from eyes and slightly below eye level.
o      Checking for glare on the screen. Windows or other light sources should not be directly visible when sitting in front of a computer monitor. If this happens, turn the desk or computer to prevent glare on the screen. Also consider adjusting the brightness of the screen on your digital device or changing its background color.
o      Reducing the amount of lighting in the room to match the computer screen. A lower-wattage light can be substituted for a bright overhead light or a dimmer switch may be installed to give flexible control of room lighting.
o      Adjusting font size. Increase the size of text on the screen of the device to make it easier on your eyes when reading.
o      Keep blinking. Frequent blinking reduces the chances for developing dry eye by keeping the front surface of the eye moist.

And of course comprehensive eye exams by an optometrist are essential! The AOA recommends every child have an eye exam by an optometrist soon after 6 months of ages, before age three and every year thereafter. Children now have the benefit of yearly comprehensive eye examps thanks to the Pediatric Essential Healthy Benefit in the Affordable Care Act, through age 18. 

As you get your family ready for back to school,  I would encourage you to learn more about the importance of getting a comprehensive eye exam done every year if you don't already and help spread the word!

You can connect with the AOA on Twitter and Facebook.

Champions for Kids Purell Lend a Hand Program

Posted by Jenna | Thursday, August 07, 2014

**I participated in this program on behalf of Champions for Kids and PURELL and have been compensated for my time. All opinions are my own.

With August here it has finally hit me that school will be starting up in just a couple of weeks. Soon two of my kiddos will be back to school which meant we recently spent an evening back to school shopping! It's always fun to do with the kids, as they get excited about all their new supplies and gearing up for the new year! Now that I have two in school I realized more this year how the glue, scissors, folders, etc can add up quickly and is not something everyone can afford (especially the more kids they have).

Starting the school year off on the right foot is important for every child, but for millions of Americans children who live in poverty, they simply do not have the luxury! Thankfully, PURELL Hand Sanitizer has partnered with Champions for Kids and WalMart to help! They want to help ensure students have the supplies they need as they head back to school with the PURELL Lend a Hand Program!

When I was first introduced to this program, I was excited as I'm a big fan of PURELL products. Hand hygiene is one of the most important measures a person can take to reduce the spread of germs that cause illness and infection. Hand hygiene is especially important for school-aged children because they are spending the most time in one room. A study by the makers of PURELL Hand Sanitizer has shown the absenteeism caused by illness was 50% lower in classrooms that used PURELL Hand Sanitizer regularly and implemented a hand hygiene education program than those classrooms that did not.
That's why we're always sure to stock up when it's time for back-to-school - in the car and backpacks especially!

I was so thrilled when asked to be a part of this program and take part in helping children in our community. How the program works....

1. GATHER your family, friends and neighbors for a Lend a Hand Project! Ask guests to bring items kids need in the classroom: pencils, paper, crayons, folders, hand sanitizer, wipes and tissues.

2. LEARN about the needs of children in your community and ways you can help. How can you share your time or resources?

3. GIVE the items you collect to a teacher, school, food bank, or children's shelter.

4. SHARE your project at How many people were involved and how many items did you collect?

We decided to gather some family and ask them to bring some school supplies and of course, PURELL Hand Sanitizer, with them so we could assemble some supplies to bring to the kids' classrooms.

It feels great to help out in a way that I know will help families right in our own town and best of all...I was able to get the kids involved in helping!! What a wonderful thing to do as a family. They loved going through the supplies and getting them ready to take to school.

Once we had everything separated for their classrooms, we got it put in bookbags and ready to take to their teachers!!

This has started a tradition for our family and one I know will continue for many years to come! I hope you will consider taking part in this wonderful initiative as well. You can access PURELL coupons here.

Office Organization with Staples! {Review}

Posted by Jenna | Wednesday, August 06, 2014

**The products for this review were provided by Staples. All opinions are my own.

Most people organize and clean in the spring, but I have taken advantage of some free time this summer and been organizing room by room. Most recently I organized my office space where I do everything from blog to paying bills. It was becoming a cluttered mess and a catch-all for mail and pretty much everything else! I finally decided to do a complete overhaul and this began when I purchased a new computer. I then got some organizational supplies from Staples to keep all of my files, papers, pens and mail organized. It has been wonderful! I am far more relaxed when things are organized and in their place!

As I was working on this organizing project, I was excited when contacted by staples about two of their must-have items for organized office spaces! I received the customizable ARC notebook system and blue One-Touch Stapler to review!

The ARC notebook system features 60 repositionable narrow-rruled sheets, a penholder and interior pocket with business card slots. I love the fact that it allows me to add, move and rearrange pages and accessories to best fit my needs. Having something that so customizeable is much appreciated!!

The 6 3/4 x 8 size is extremely convenient and easy to take with me or leave on my desk without taking up too much room. I recently started working for a direct sales company and have found this to be helpful in keeping everything organized and in one place. I love it!!

There was also the blue One-Touch Stapler. In my opinion, every office needs a stapler..especially this one! The quality is fantastic and I love the color!

I have found that it works great to staple multiple sheets at once and due to the design is easy to staple with just one hand! It has a nonskid rubberized base and handle which makes it easy to hold onto.

If you're working on office organization, or just looking for high quality products that will help keep your life more organized...I would recommend checking these and other products from Staples out.

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