We’re back from Disney World!

We just returned home from a fantastic and fun filled family trip to Walt Disney World! I ran the runDisney Princess Half Marathon Glass Slipper Challenge and Chase did the 400 meter Kids Race.

I have so many pictures to sort through and so many highlights to share with you, along with tips for making your own Disney Parks vacation fantastic while sticking to a *reasonable* budget both financially and calorie wise :)

I also have several giveaways coming up for you in March as well with everything from new foods and drinks to try, a fun kids game, and an insightful New York Times best selling book to read, so stay tuned friends!

– Denise

How I lost 100 pounds with Walking

When I was 100 pounds overweight, I eased into a healthier and more active lifestyle by walking more and eating cleaner. I suffered from a multitude of aches and pains from carrying the extra weight on my body but I found that I could walk relatively pain free. The more I walked and fueled my body with healthy foods, the stronger my body became and the better I felt.

I put Chase in his stroller and we would go to local parks and walk on our own or meet friends to do stroller walks together. This pic is one of my favorites of Chase and I from 2008. I was wearing my Stroller Strides Healthy Mama Challenge t-shirt and feeling good. I had already lost 30-35 pounds and felt better than I had in a long time. I was also able to “hide” behind the BOB stroller so I felt like I didn’t look “quite” so big. This was from one of our family walks and Troy was with us, he took the pic :)


While I enjoy running and the endorphins I feel from a good, hard run, I will always have a soft spot and joy in my heart for walking. Sometimes there’s nothing I enjoy more than walking and taking my time to enjoy the scenery.

Running the Dopey Challenge injured allowed me to do that for the first time since I started participating in runDisney races. I had such a good time taking my pace slower, walking more, and stopping for pictures. I was sore and my feet hurt so much after the marathon. After a good night’s sleep, I felt great – full of endorphins, not sore, and able to walk around easily. I credit the extra walking and sticking to my training for that. 

Right now I’m recovering from a bout of walking pneumonia (no pun intended!) post Dopey Challenge. I’ve finished my course of antibiotics but still have the occasional cough and shortness of breath. I’m getting ready to do the Walt Disney World Princess Half Marathon Glass Slipper Challenge this weekend and know I’ll likely have to take these races easier as well. It can take up to 5 weeks to feel recovered enough to run like normal. The timing stinks but I will make the best of it!

Even while I was at home sick, I walked on my treadmill to stay active. I got an email about the Vionic Walkabout 30 day walking challenge and knew it would be perfect for me to do. It’s a commitment to walk 30 minutes a day, 6 days a week for 30 days. You can walk anywhere it’s convenient – outside, on the treadmill, at the mall, wherever you want :)

Here’s the information if you’d like to sign up too! It’s free and hosted by SparkPeople and Vionic shoes.


The 30-Day Walkabout Challenge is a walking program suitable for everyone. By joining the challenge, users will receive a 30-day walking plan, a strength-training routine to help become a stronger walker, plus daily challenges and smart injury-prevention tips to tie it all together. “Walking can become almost equal to jogging in terms of getting your heart rate pumping for a healthy cardiovascular workout,” says Dr. Andrew Weil, noted integrative medicine expert. “It is probably the safest [exercise] option of all, with the least chance of injury”.

Inspired by Australian tradition, Vionic Group’s Fourth Annual Walkabout Challenge aims to help create healthy habits over the course of a month-long program beginning February 1st. Users can sign up for the 30-day online challenge throughout the month of February. 

This year, Vionic is partnering SparkPeople, an online digital health platform that helps users reach their goals and lead healthier lives through free nutrition and fitness tools, expert created content and a vibrant, supportive community. SparkPeople has about 16 million lifetime members, many of whom lost weight and achieved better fitness through walking. SparkPeople members have organically formed hundreds of walking support teams on the site, and others even meet up for in-person walking groups. I’ve been a member of SparkPeople for years and love the support of the SparkPeople online community.

On Vionic’s Facebook page and Instagram, users will also have the chance to “Walk to Win,” competing for weekly footwear prizes and the grand prize: a trip to California wine country! Through photo contests, Vionic will give away weekly prizes such as new Vionic shoes, Dr. Weil Cookbooks, and more. To share on social media and get in the action use the hashtag #VionicWalkabout

To learn more about the free 30-Day Walkabout Challenge, and sign up to take part in the challenge yourself, just click here: http://www.vionicshoes.com/2015-vionic-walkabout

– Denise

British Soccer Camps Coupon

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of British Soccer Camps and US Family Guide.

britishsoccer1 BSClogoCOB challengersports photo_3579 photo_3580













Challenger British Soccer hosts the most popular soccer camp in North America with 150,000 campers!

With an innovative curriculum that develops skills, speed and confidence in players ages 3-18, British Soccer Camps provide both boys and girls with the rare opportunity to receive high-level soccer coaching from a team of international experts right in the heart of their own local community.

In addition to teaching new skills and improving game performance, each camp provides lessons in character development, cultural education and is the most fun your child can have learning the sport they love!

COUPON/DEAL: Enroll your child in a British Soccer Camp today and receive a Free British Soccer Jersey! Sign up during Early Registration and they will immediately ship you a great looking British Soccer Jersey! PLUS – enter coupon code FMG15 and they will include a bonus Challenger water bottle.

Check it out here and find your local BSC class: http://challenger.mycustomevent.com/content/search

We’re planning to sign Chase up for one of their Summer camps this year. It looks like a lot of fun and a great way to play a sport he loves with other local kids in our community :)

– Denise

Tips to register for a runDisney race

runDisney medals January 2015

runDisney race medals on display at the 2015 Walt Disney World Marathon weekend expo

Hi friends! Hope you’re having a great start to the week so far! As some of you already know, I’m the runDisney and Healthy Living contributor at TheDisneyDrivenLife.com. My latest post is about all the dates you need to know for upcoming 2015-2016 runDisney races. You can read it here: The Disney Driven Life

Running at Disneyland and Walt Disney World is a magical experience unlike any other! I’d like to share some additional tips with you so you feel ready and prepared to register for a runDisney race. 

When I originally wanted to run a Disney race at Disneyland in 2011, I didn’t realize just how far in advance I needed to sign up. I made it my goal to run my first Half Marathon there and knew I would need a lot of time to train. Back then, there were only 2 Half Marathons at Disneyland – the Tinker Bell Half in January and the Disneyland Half in September. Having an elementary school aged child, I knew the Disneyland Half in September would be out for me because it’s the weekend before school starts here. That made the Tinker Bell Half a perfect goal race for me – but I had to wait over a year to run it. 

Now the Disney races are more popular and you have even more to choose from. It’s great from a planning and training perspective to have so many choices of races to do (5k, 10k, Half Marathon, Marathon, or if you’re feeling more ambitious – race challenge) and the flexibility to choose which time of the year works best for you. 

If you’re looking to sign up for a runDisney race, it’s important to remember that these event can sell out FAST – within minutes or hours of registration opening to the public. Even if you are just *thinking* about signing up, mark the registration date on your calendar anyway. The registration time is typically noon EST but make sure to double check on runDisney.com or on Twitter at http://twitter.com/runDisney the day prior. They are very good at updating all of the info you need to know before registering. 

The Dopey and Goofy Challenges at Walt Disney World Marathon weekend, Glass Slipper Challenge at Princess Half Marathon weekend, Dumbo Double Dare at Disneyland Half Marathon weekend, and the Rebel Challenge at Disneyland sell out almost immediately. If you want to get in on one of the challenges – be ready to sign up the minute registration opens! 

If you’re a Disneyland, Walt Disney World, or Disney Parks Premier Passport holder – you can sign up 1-2 weeks early for the races. Disney Vacation Club Members also get early registration. Check out your passholder and DVC member page under special offers for details.

Here’s the information you’ll need to have to be ready to register:

1. Sign up for an Active.com account if you don’t have one already. Sign in if you’re already an Active.com member and verify your account information. Fill out everything so it can auto populate where necessary and save you some typing. 

2. Have your credit card in hand for payment.

3. Know your best proof of times to submit for your race along with race dates, and event name. Even if it’s a proof of time from a prior Disney race, be thorough and fill out all the info they ask for. I keep a window open on my computer with the link from my proof of time race and double check everything to make sure it matches what I’m submitting. If you don’t submit proof of time, you may automatically end up in a back corral for your race. If your finishing time is important to you – as well as having time to take pictures with the awesome Disney characters, you’ll want to be with runners/walkers of a similar pace to yours. 

4. Have all of the information available for your spouse if you are registering them for races too, including proof of time for Half marathon. Have them open an Active.com account if they have not already done so. 

5. When it’s time to register, take a deep breath and click on the link. If it times out because the servers are busy, try and try again. When I registered for Glass Slipper the server kicked me out at the checkout and I had to go back in and type everything all over again. Don’t let it get to you though – it’s step one of getting to your runDisney race :)

6. Double check everything you’ve typed – especially your email address. People make mistakes because they hurry through registration. If you notice an error after submitting your registration, contact disneysports@trackshack.com or call runDisney.

7. Check your e-mail. Once you get the confirmation e-mail – Celebrate! You’re going to run at Disney!!!

I hope these tips help you feel more prepared for signing up for a runDisney race. Feel free to ask me if you have any questions, I’m happy to help! Check out my latest post at The Disney Driven Life on all the dates you need to know for upcoming runDisney races and which days to mark on your calendar to register. 

Hope to see you at a runDisney race soon!

– Denise

What’s in the #DisneySide box?


Hi friends, hope you’re having a great week! Last week I mentioned we would be hosting a #DisneySide party to celebrate Chase’s 8th birthday. Based on my answers about who we would invite if chosen to host a party, I was selected to host a Multi generational Disney Side party. We received all of these items for free in exchange for hosting a party and sharing our personal experience. 

Now it’s time to reveal what’s in our Disney Side @Home Celebration box! 

DisneySide box 1

We are thrilled to receive so many fun Disney Side items! The stack of flat wrapped “presents” to the right are MyPrintly HP photo cards. Perfect for making a personalized greeting card, invitation, printable project, or craft.


Chase was especially excited about the Duff Goldman Tie Dye cake mix and Wilton Cakes rainbow sprinkles for decorating


Pin the Smile on Mickey game and Disney Parks Show Us Your Disney Side Bingo


We received these adorable matching Mickey plates, cups, napkins, tablecloth, and decorations. If you’d like to purchase these items for your party, I saw them at my local Walmart in their party supply section last week.


Love these All Mighty Pacs OXI! Great for getting out the tough stains while whitening and brightening our laundry in our HE washer


This Wilton Mickey Cake pan is great for baking a cake or for making a giant Mickey Rice Krispie Treat


Disney Parks Show Your Disney Side items – luggage tags, word searches, a family tree activity, and more!


Twinings of London Assorted Herbal teas

 After we unpacked our #DisneySide box, we all relaxed with a delicious cup of Twinings of London tea. The teas are all caffeine free and great for the whole family! There’s also a Nightly Calm tea (not pictured) that sounds perfect for just before bed.

If you’d like more information about hosting your own #DisneySide @Home Celebration, please visit http://www.disneysidecelebrations.com.  There are fabulous tips, recipes, and party ideas for bringing out everyone’s Disney Side and having a fantastic time together. I’ll share about our Disney Side party next week.

Thank you to the amazing brands and partners who provided the items in our party kit to us at no charge! My family and I truly appreciate this wonderful gift, thank you so much to our friends Leanne Jakubowski, Jamie Langdon, and the rest of Disney Parks team with MomSelect!

– Denise

Ladybug Run 5k, 10k, Kids Races

Looking for a fun race this summer in the Portland area to do with friends and family? Check out one of my favorite local races – the Ladybug Run!


I found out about the Ladybug Run through my friend Liz Dooley. We met years ago at Stroller Strides when my son Chase and her daughter Rowan were babies. I was morbidly obese then and felt like a fish out of water trying to lose weight and become healthy again. I tried SO hard to keep up with the workouts but wow it was tough! Liz was always so awesome – she had words of encouragement for me to lift me up and was so supportive right when I needed it. 

After I left Stroller Strides I lost touch with Liz but later reconnected with her on Facebook. I found out that her second daughter Finley was diagnosed with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH). A CDH is a hole in the diaphragm that allows organs from the abdomen to move into the chest and thus not allowing the lungs to develop. CDHs affect about 1 in every 2,500 babies. 50% of babies diagnosed with CDH do not survive. Because this birth defect is rare and not commonly known, it does not have the funding that other more widely known birth defects attract.

Liz and her family were lucky – their daughter Finley survived and is thriving today with careful monitoring. She is passionate about helping other children and their families affected by CDH and started the Ladybug CDH Foundation and the Ladybug Run.

The Ladybug Run was created to benefit families affected by CDH and fund studies to prevent it. All money raised by the races in the Ladybug Run will go toward to the Ladybug CDH Foundation which will provide funds to both ongoing research and to assist families with a CDH child in the hospital. 

I ran the inaugural 10k in 2012 and the 5k in 2013. We were in Disneyland last year or I would have run in that race too. I am looking forward to participating this year with both friends and my family. I wanted to help get the word out this year to share about this wonderful, fun race series and how you can participate too!


Liz and I after the 2014 Foot Traffic Holiday Half


The fourth running of Ladybug Run is on July 25th at Cook Park in Tigard, Oregon. Participants can participate in either the 5K or 10K beginning at 8:30am. Additionally, there are children’s races consisting of a Diaper Dash, ½ mile and 1 mile fun runs beginning at 10:30am. Registration fees for individuals are $30 and for team entries $25 and include a lifestyle shirt (while supplies last) and medal for all finishers. Kids ½ mile and 1 mile races are $12 and include a lifestyle shirt, and the Diaper Dash (2 and under) is free (but does not include shirt). The post race celebration will include bacon and waffles, Alpenrose Chocolate Milk, Beer, KIND Bars, and live music!

This is a 100% volunteer run race and 100% of race entries goes toward the cause thanks to sponsors including Hoffman Construction, Alpenrose Dairy, Pediatric Associates of the Northwest, Demand Solutions Group, Sustainable Wealth Management and Cathy Merz Insurance.

To register or for more information, go to http://ladybugrun.com.

Hope to see you there!

– Denise

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