8 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Running

  1. You can do it. You. Yes. You can. I ran my first marathon in May 2014. The spring I graduated college. The spring I did the most soul-searching. It transformed me. I had spent a lot of years not believing myself and that fire that 26.2 miles lit (yes, it was over 95 degrees but I’m talking about a fire within) changed me. After I ran my first marathon, I ran another just to see if I could do it again. Your body gives up first, way before your mind. Running teaches me every day that I am strong and capable of so much more.
  2. It’s for you, not anyone else. I’ve had one true running buddy through the years. (Miss you, Bease!) Otherwise, running is for me. I love running with my husband and I’d love to be a part of a running group someday but deep down, I feel like my time spent on long runs is time that belongs to no one else. I don’t have to worry about to-do lists, or work, or not being good enough. It’s just me, myself, and I. One of my favorite running quotes is: “If you don’t have answers to your problems after a four-hour run, you ain’t getting them.” Christopher McDougall 
  3. Listen to your body. I love my planner and I love a good training schedule but I’ve learned to listen to my body. There are some days everything hurts for no reason. Rest is important. I try to listen to my body on the days it’s screaming “yoga pleeeeeease” and even on the days it wants to run longer than “planned”. I’ve been known to stay home from work because I just needed a long run. My own special kind of mental health day, shhh.
  4. Be proud. It’s okay to celebrate your accomplishments and remember that you are a badass, because you are.
  5. Be patient. It takes time to achieve goals. It takes time to hit high mileage weeks. Be patient with yourself and your body. Don’t stop.
  6. Dream. My dream is still to make it to Boston someday. I was afraid to dream that dream for the first few years I was running. I struggled to even see myself as a “runner”. If you run, you are a runner. Don’t stop dreaming and don’t stop reaching higher.
  7. Eat. Running changed my body image and my entire mindset on how I see food. I workout and run because I love my body, not because I hate it. I eat food for fuel. When I don’t eat enough, I can feel it in my workouts. I enjoy a cheeseburger and french fries now and then. Fro yo is still my favorite thing ever. I worry more about the quality of calories that I am putting into my body, and less about the quantity. Some days, I’m just hungry. Run or no run, my body some days just needs more food. I’m learning to be okay with that as I get stronger. It isn’t always about how much you’re eating, but what you’re choosing to eat.
  8. Share. Be proud. Seek out support groups. Find a running tribe to surround yourself with. I have found that the community I have found in running has meant more than anything else. We’d love for you to join us!

reasons to run

#girlbossseries: Fit Fearless Happy

Name: Melissa Kolb

Instagram: @fitfearlesshappy


What does #girlboss mean to you?: Being a girlboss means standing up for what you believe in, going after your dreams, and never giving up no matter what life throws at you. Being a girl boss means that you believe you were meant to do amazing things, and that you’re taking the world by storm living through your passions, and helping make the world a better place in the process.

Tell us about what you do? I am the CEO and founder of Fit Fearless Happy. At Fit Fearless Happy, we believe that any woman, from any walk of life, has the potential within her to create the life of her dreams if she’s given the right tools. To help provide girl bosses with the tools needed to succeed, we have created our event, Dare to Be Fearless. The mission of Dare to Be Fearless is to empower millennial women to turn their passion into their career by developing their entrepreneurial skills, discover the importance of living a healthy life, and increase their happiness and well being to ensure they are the best version of themselves they can be. This two-day event is for like-minded, ambitious millennials who have always felt they were meant for something more, and are ready to support and encourage one another while building their dream life and doing something DIFFERENT. It’s a networking event, business development event and personal wellness event all in one!

How did you get involved? I created Fit Fearless Happy in December of 2014. From there, it has grown to where we are today! Through my work, I am able to live my passion helping to inspire millennial women to go after their own dreams. It’s truly what makes me happiest!

One piece of advice: Never, ever let the negative voice in your head take over. You’re always going to hit obstacles, no matter what business or goal you’re diving into. Don’t let negative thinking destroy your potential and success.

Biggest win in the last year: Fit Fearless Happy is officially incorporated, and we are slated to host Dare to Be Fearless in Chicago next August!

Favorite inspirational quote: “The moment you decide to stop accepting mediocrity for your life is the moment your life will begin to transform.” (totally stole and tweeted this) 

Book recommendation: So many! You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero, Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod, THANK and Grow Rich by Pam Grout, and the Slight Edge by Jeff Olson are my current favorites!

Best way for people to reach you: www.fitfearlesshappy.com

If you could be any superhero, who would you be and why? I would be my own version of a superhero! One that works to make the world a better place through positive change. The world needs more women who are comfortable killing it by being their own badass, girlboss selves! As women it’s so important that we learn to love ourselves. What better way to do that than by being our own awesome versions of superheroes?! 🙂

Thanks for sharing, Melissa! For more girl bosses in the series, check out the posts here.

Love the Skin You’re In

I can honestly say I feel like I’ve been in a skin crisis for the last 5 years.

All the skin woes.

Fast forward: I’ve been on a clean-up rampage lately. Cleaning up my life all around. 

  • Colin and I have been eating a lot cleaner, consistently now for a few months.
  • I’ve been doing one closet clean out after another trying to get rid of clothes that don’t fit, don’t make me feel good, or that don’t serve a purpose anymore. (A move halfway across the country helps with that.)
  • I’ve been doing more yoga and taking more deep breaths.
  • Making decisions for me and not everyone else, choosing to prioritize and make changes that are for me (and to not feel selfish about it).

My skin has been a battle for the last 4-5 years. I’ve tried everything. Whole 30. A million different products. Multiple dermatologists. Primary care physicians. More lotion. Less lotion. Aloe. Heat rash (okay, I think Fresno is to blame for that one).

It’s been exhausting and disheartening. My problems are minor – bumpiness and unevenness. Some eczema.  A few pimples (those I don’t mind). An overall sense of dullness. I don’t even know if I can explain it 100% but I just haven’t been feeling like my skin is reflective of the healthy body I work hard to have by eating right and exercising.

All of the products dermatologists have prescribed me have made it worse. Harsh acne medicine that dries out my skin and leaves it blistery. The latest prescription was because the doctor said I had a fungus. That was new. The prescription has done nothing.

I’m tossing all that aside for awhile and going back to basics. I’m cleaning up my beauty routine because once I started to really learn about the projects we put on our skin, it really hit me: our skin is our largest organ, covering the entire surface area of our body. It absorbs whatever we put on it, right into our body. Shouldn’t I be worried about choosing what products go from the outside, in as much as I try to be conscious of the food I eat?


I’m hosting a Beauty Counter party with my friend Jess on this Thursday 10/13 at 8:30pm cst but you can check out the posts all week. She introduced me to Beauty Counter: who cares about our health, and the chemicals/harmful ingredients that they don’t put in their products. Would totally love for you to join in and learn more with me about this journey. I’m just trying to replace one product at a time with one that is better for me. You in? Join us here. Or shop here: It’s all online, all about fun and knowledge, and all about health.

Time for me to love the skin I’m in, and to feel good about what I’m putting on my body. As my friend Amanda said, “if I can’t feel confident in my skin at 26, when will I?”. Well said.


Do you use Beauty Counter? What has your experience with skin care been?


Celebrating 2 years with #candibymandi

It doesn’t feel like October since it was 95 and glorious yesterday. It snuck up on me, this C+I anniversary. I can’t believe I’ve been a Chloe + Isabel merchandiser for 2 years already.

Last October, I wrote about how you could support my little business. All of those are still true. You can read about them here. This year, though, I want to write about how this journey has come to mean even more to me through my incredible team.

I took a risk last winter and applied to be an MM (merchandiser manager) within Chloe + Isabel. I felt ready to move up in the company as well as lead my own team. After 8 weeks of amazing training complete with values, mission statements, self-reflection, and community building… The Movement was born in June 2016. We are a group of women founded on the following values: community, support, adventure, and risk-taking. The team I try to foster each day is one in which we cheer each other on and are there for the downs as much as we are the ups. We’re all about selfies, laughing together, being our real authentic selves and showcasing that through our own individual businesses. It’s pretty remarkable.

We have never met and we are a relatively new team but we are a family.

That is what this community has give me since day one, a whole new network of women who just ‘get it’ on a different level than other groups I’m a part of. We all needed this outlet and joined C+I for different reasons but together we are running our own businesses and dreaming big every day.

Cheers to the two most amazing two years and to many more. And to the gals of The Movement, keep on being YOU.


I am a badass.

I am currently reading: You Are A Badass (thanks, Alice!) and am vowing to live my life as a more badass version of myself. If you haven’t picked up a copy of this book yet – do it today! Get it ordered because you are going to want to read this. It came highly recommend from my friend Amanda, who loves it so much she changed her Instagram bio to include a quote from the book:

“Never apologize for who you are – it lets the whole world down”. Love it.


My marathon is coming up in 4 weeks. I’ve trained harder than I ever have but I’m still filled with thoughts of self-doubt. They come and go. I try to push them away.

After a less than stellar run yesterday morning, I was feeling bummed. I felt slow and sluggish and didn’t want to be out there. I shared on our Running Tribe** Facebook page that something was up – maybe I’m coming down with something? maybe I’m overtraining? maybe I’m just bored? Help!

A woman on the page suggested that I go out and run a mile as fast as I can. “It’ll make you feel like a badass”, she said. Badass. How fitting. I had just started this book this weekend. I decided to give it a try. I hadn’t showered yet from my failed run earlier that morning.

I ran a mile in 6:56 – something I never thought I was capable of. I haven’t ever run a single mile in less than 8:15, but then again, I’ve also never really tried. WOW. Makes me think about how much more we are all really capable of, amiright?!

I am a badass.

Being comfortable saying to myself, and out loud “I am a badass” is more about self confidence than anything else. It’s about a belief that what you have to offer the world is valuable, and the world can take it or leave it. I’ve been journaling about this in my Passion Planner. When I think of myself, “badass” is generally the last word that comes to mind. What if I started to live my days like I was a badass, confidently going about the world sharing my gifts, talents, and greatness. Wow, what a way to live.

Anyways, I’ll update you on the progress of my own badass-ary but for now, I’m just trying to be comfortable with the fact that I am indeed, a badass.


**Side note: If you’re into running, or want to be, we’d love for you to join our Running Tribe. This group started as a way for us to stay motivated during the summer Runner’s World run streak but it has evolved to becoming my running family. These ladies range from brand new beginner runners to women who go out and run crazy mileage weeks. We all need breaks. We all need to be supported and lifted up. We talk about chafing and sports bras. We talk about food and weight loss. Some have even met up and run together in person!


Why I’m Going To NicheCon

I’m sure you’ve seen me post about The Niche Movement. Many of you have reached out to me to learn more. In October I’m headed to Washington DC for our first ever conference: NicheCon. Why?


I found The Niche Movement through a tweet when I was in graduate school. I was drawn to the authenticity of the community and of course, I wanted to find my niche. I became a contributing editor and wrote a few blog posts here and there. I remained engaged with the community throughout graduate school and after, when I got my first “real” job.

I started working in Admissions at Benedictine University at Springfield. That didn’t last long. Reading blog posts from the NM community and remembering that I wasn’t alone helped me through the weirdness of losing my first job post-grad school after only 2 months.

I moved on quickly to my second job in admissions at Lincoln College. I was there for 2 years. Post-grad life started to take shape and I needed more: to be challenged, to be more creative, to find energy in my work. I became a Chloe + Isabel merchandiser because I needed a creative outlet. I reached out to Kevin from The Niche Movement to see if he needed any additional help or if there was any way I could get involved further. My involvement has grown and I’m thankful every day.


Back to NicheCon. The conference is going to be the first time ever that our community, which spans coast to coast, is going to get together in one place. It will be the first time I’m meeting many people face-to-face who already feel like lifelong friends.

I’m on a continuous journey of finding my niche. I’ve learned that maybe I’ll never be done, and that’s okay. I have a master’s degree in College Student Personnel but there are days that I’m unsure what my Higher Ed path looks like. I’m now in my third professional role in Admissions and some days I’m scared to death that I’m boxing myself in. Chloe + Isabel has taught me that I have an entrepreneurial side that I didn’t know existed. The work that I am so fortunate to get to do with The Niche Movement ignites me in a way that no full time job has ever done. I need to be challenged. I need to feel creative. I need to be thriving. That kind of energy is what keeps me on this journey of finding my niche.

NicheCon is going to be all about transparency and authenticity. Bringing people together and telling stories. Learning from one another. Connecting with people who love their jobs. Remembering that you aren’t alone if you’re struggling on this journey. Career happiness, sure it’s what we’re all about. But we are also about life happiness. Because if you spend 37% of your adult life at work, shouldn’t you love what you do?

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 10.42.47 AMI haven’t been to DC aside from a quick trip for a wedding a few years ago. I’m excited to explore the city, connect with people, learn more about myself and continue my journey on the path of finding my niche.

Hope to see you there.
(Ticket prices increase 9/8)

#girlbossseries: Be Your Own Superhero

The first #girlboss I’m highlighting in my Girl Boss series is: Emily Schromm. I’ve been girl-crushing on Emily for the last year since my best friend introduced me to her and her challenges. I’ve completed a few, and I love how Emily has built her own fitness business all on her own. (Plus she’s from Colorado – even better).

I’ve participated in multiple challenges of hers before, and she coaches you through everything. You don’t have to have a super-active lifestyle to start. The workouts are manageable for all levels/all time schedules/all ages/all people.


Besides that fact that Emily is totally ripped, she has the knowledge behind what she teaches. I’ve learned a lot about what to put in my body from her and the way she breaks it all down makes it less science-y and more real life-y.

I love a good challenge and hers are some of the best: Superhero Challenge. I love having friends who do it with me, I love when we can hold each other accountable! Feel free to text/message me if you have any questions! Join us here. Only $21. Emily is the real-deal.

Know a #girlboss you think I should know about? Let me know, I’d love to highlight her in this series. amandajeanninestewart@gmail.com 

#girlboss series


I am obsessed with women supporting other women. I love seeing women doing amazing things out there, and even more importantly, lifting one another up. I am starting a series that will be highlighting girl bosses all over the country smashing their goals. Thanks for checking it out.

Know a #girlboss you think I should know about? Let me know, I’d love to highlight her in this series. amandajeanninestewart@gmail.com 

Side Effects of Being a C+I Merchandiser.

A goofy yet entirely heartfelt post on some of the things that have started happening since I joined the Chloe + Isabel community two years ago. Thankful times a million for this company, this experience, and the women I’ve met. #merchieprobs

  1. You realize you do have a fashion sense and your own style.
  2. You friends/customers start asking you for fashion advice about clothes/shoes/hair/makeup (in addition to jewelry).
  3. You make friends with women you’ve never met. Real, amazing, inspiring women.
  4. Packing for a trip really means trying to decide what #chloeandisabel to bring.
  5. Challenging your jewelry roll to fit just one.more.piece.
  6. Wanting to transition your entire wardrobe to solids just so you can show off your bling.
  7. You wear a torsade to the post office and then wonder why no one is complimenting it. (hello I’m wearing the most giant beautiful statement necklace ever – am I invisible?!)
  8. Hobby Lobby makes you feel a little light-headed and extra giddy with all the adorable bird stuff everywhere.
  9. That little heart-flutter when you see that bell with a (1) on your dashboard.
  10. You find out that TJ Maxx and Marshalls carry great jewelry organization displays and you want to buy them all.
  11. You start to really see what women supporting other women really means.
  12. You begin to see “direct sales” in a whole new way.
  13. You learn that running your own business is fun and a lot of work.
  14. You start to see yourself as a #girlboss.
  15. Wearing statement necklaces bring you a ton of confidence. Watch out world.
  16. You want to switch iPhones just so you can use the C+I iPhone case.
  17. You own the fact that you stalk the mailman.
  18. Launch day is the happiest day on Earth. #newbling
  19. You plan your clothes around your jewelry, not the other way around.
  20. You throw on cute earrings with running clothes because, why not?
  21. You need a seperate budget for stamps and snail mail supplies. #spreadlove
  22. What started as a side hustle turned into a small business you put your heart into.
  23. You are overwhelmed with love and gratitude for everyone who has ever shopped your boutique, “liked” a photo on social media, or told a friend about your business.
  24. Each day you are learning more about your niche within C+I: branding, social media, entrepreneurship, relationships.

Thanks for reading, and a big thank you to everyone who supports mine and other small businesses. xo. www.candibymandi.com

Note: I am not expected to recruit at all for Chloe + Isabel but if you are interested in learning more about the company, don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m an open book. candibymandi@gmail.com


What’s In My Gym Bag

Whether it’s yoga, a long run, a weights session, an early morning workout, or a lunch workout there are some things I just gotta have with me. I love reading about what is in everyone’s gym bags. Here are some essentials that I keep in mine. What’s in yours?


  1. Socks (Ever worked out without socks? It’s pretty gross.) 
  2. Sports Bra (If I forget a sports bra, it’s usually a no-go on the workout. Some things you just can’t do without.)
  3. Burt’s Bees wipes (they say face, but I use them everywhere!) are my favorite. I love the grapefruit! So fresh.
  4. Body spray (My fav is from: The Dirty Goat)
  5. Bobby pins.
    bobby pins
  6. Headphones. (I love listening to podcasts and catching up on #Snapchat takeovers while I’m at the gym!) I’m on the hunt for new wireless headphones – any recommendations?
  7. Snacks. Yum.
  8. Refillable H2O bottle. #NalgeneLoverForLife
  9. Dry shampoo – DIY or buy some. I cannot live without my dry shampoo.

Want another gym bag essentials perspective? Check out what’s in Shaunna’s gym bag here!