Why I Play Recreational Sports (And You Should Too)

recreational sportsHow I Got Started In Recreational Sports

Growing up I played sports in the backyard/park/field with my brothers. Adding a few kids to my brothers and I got a game going easily in most sports. We played baseball, football, basketball, etc. There was always a game going and I learned most of what I know about sports through this play time.

When I was in middle school I finally started playing organized sports. I played basketball for one year and then switched to softball which I played every year from 7th grad through 12th. It was my main form of exercise at the time but it was my favorite thing to do.

This past summer on a whim I signed up to play softball with my church’s softball team. I just happened to be in Sunday School when they

Why I Love Recreational Sports

I’ve struggled with why I’m not an athlete when all my brothers are, but I’ve finally accepted that it’s just in my head. I’m naturally athletic. I’m pretty good at almost any sport I try to pick up. I might not be the fastest or the best, but I’m not bad. I always end up being in the middle of the pack players wise (especially true since it’s always co-ed). This realization that I’m actually pretty good at these sports has been a huge boost to my confidence.

It’s nice to hear people compliment plays and tell me I’m good. It’s nice to hear I did well at the end of the season in a sport I’ve never played before. It’s nice to know that this is one thing that is both fun and something I’m good at.

Why You Should Play Recreational Sports

I fully believe more people should play sports more often.  Here are a few reasons why you should play recreational sports (and reasons why I do):

  • It’s fun to play a sport!
  • You can learn something new. If you’ve never played before you’ll pick up new skills.
  • It’s social so you will meet new people and develop friendships.
  • Play is good for you mentally and physically.
  • It’s another chance to be active during your week.
  • You get a new tshirt in most leagues you play in.

What Recreational Sports Can You Play? 

I’ve been playing softball and volleyball but there are a ton of recreational sports you can play depending on what is available in your area. Here are a few ideas:

  • Softball
  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Volleyball (inside/beach)
  • Football (touch/flag/tackle)
  • Soccer (indoor/outdoor)
  • Kickball
  • Raquetball
  • Tennis
  • Bowling

Now that I’m into the swing of playing and enjoy it so much, I plan to sign up for as many sports as possible. I’m even considering learning another sport like soccer so I’ll have something to play in the gaps between softball and volleyball. Even if I’m terrible at soccer I’ll still get in a great workout because there is a lot of running involved!

If you play recreational sports, what do you play? Any tips or ideas for future sports I should play?

Advocare Spark (Fruit Punch) Review

Y’all the greatest thing has happened. I’ve gotten my new order of AdvoCare Spark Energy Drink!

advocare spark

One of my best friends is an Advocare distributor so she helped me out by ordering me a package of this lovely, lovely energy drink. I first discovered Spark when I did my Advocare 10 Day Cleanse (results of the Advocare 10 Day Cleanse). It was my first experience with Advocare products and obviously it wasn’t my last.

What Is Advocare?

AdvoCare is an American multilevel marketing company that sells energy, weight-loss, nutrition and sports performance products. They were founded in 1993 and offer a traditional model where distributors own their own business and sell the products. More than likely you know someone who sells or uses Advocare already since it blew up in popularity in the last few years.

What is Advocare Spark Energy Drink?

spark fruit punch energy drink

AdvoCare Spark Energy Drink is advertised as a low calorie energy drink designed for people without enough natural energy or who have energy slumps throughout the day.

It comes in several flavors and is a unique cocktail of different vitamins and ingredients designed to give you short and long-lasting energy.

Advocare Spark Energy Drink Details

The official product description:

AdvoCare Spark Energy Drink mix is a unique multi-nutrient system that’s designed to provide nutritionally advanced, long-lasting energy and enhanced mental focus. Its 21 vitamins, minerals and nutrients work synergistically to give you healthy, balanced energy without making you jittery like other caffeinated beverages. Spark’s unique combination of ingredients gives you fast-acting energy and B-vitamins enhance your body’s natural energy-sustaining processes.  For mental focus and clarity, the neuroactive amino acids in Spark help sharpen your mental focus and alertness by supporting your brain’s ability to efficiently transmit messages within the nervous system. With five refreshing flavors and only 45 calories per serving, Spark gives you a lift that lasts for hours.

What it all means:

AdvoCare Spark is an energy drink. It’s got a lot of stuff added in that is supposed to help keep you alert and focused. It has things like caffeine and vitamins that are meant to support your energy levels.

Here’s what is in it:

Key ingredients: B-vitamin complex (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 and pantothenic acid), taurine, L-tyrosine, choline, caffeine, GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), citrus flavonoids, inositol

All Ingredients: Vitamin A (as beta-carotene), Vitamin B-6 (as pyridoxine HCl), Vitamin B-12 (as cyanocobalamin), Vitamin C (as ascorbic acid), Vitamin E (as d-alpha tocopheryl acetate), Thiamine (as HCl), Riboflavin, Niacin (as niacinamide), Pantothenic acid (as calcium pantothenate), Zinc (as zinc monomethionine), Copper (as copper glycinate), Chromium (as chromium citrate), Choline (as bitartrate and citrate), L-Tyrosine, Taurine, Caffeine , Glycine, Citrus flavonoids, Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), L-Carnitine (as tartrate), Inositol, Maltodextrin, citric acid, sucralose, silicon dioxide, beet root extract (for color), natural and artificial flavor

That’s a lot of ingredients!

My Thoughts on Advocare Spark Energy Drink

  • I got my AdvoCare Spark Energy Drink today and I’ve already had a bit to wake up this morning instead of coffee. I also use it before afternoon workouts since my energy tends to slump during that period.
  • I like to use the fruit punch flavor as mentioned in this review. There are other flavors but this one is my personal favorite as it reminds me of fruit punch or koolaid that I used to drink as a kid.
  • I use half a scoop as a serving rather than a full scoop. I found that 1/2 scoop is plenty for energy levels and it doesn’t taste terrible. The more you use the more concentrated the flavor gets and personally I don’t like the extreme taste. Using less also makes it last longer.

merry likes advocare spark

Is Advocare worth it?

I’ve debated on whether or not I wanted to promote Advocare products and AdvoCare Spark Energy Drink in particular. Why? That little list of ingredients. It’s so long and features so many iffy things. They aren’t things that will negatively effect you immediately but the long term consumption is still debatable on whether or not it’s healthy.

However, I like AdvoCare Spark Energy Drink. I drink it. I’m still going to drink it. I know that the ingredients are concerning, but to be honest I’ve consumed a lot worse in my earlier years.

I’ve struggled with energy a lot this year.  I’ve had less energy. At one point in March I was on the phone with my mom crying because I was so tired it hurt. I had started a new job and wasn’t eating well but it was so terrifying to feel that way. I hated feeling tired all the time. After that low point I decided to take action and cleaned up my diet, got super active, and started taking vitamins like B12. A few weeks later I also started Advocare products and suddenly I felt so amazing the difference was frightening.

While a lot of my improvements with fatigue and energy came from generally principles of healthy living (move more, eat less, drink water), Spark did help. It gave me energy in the morning and got me through a lot of hard workouts. I like using it before workouts because it gives me energy but isn’t nearly as intense as a pre-workout. I’ll leave those to my body builder little brother!

Overall I have some concerns about Spark, but I like it and plan to use it for the foreseeable future. The pros outwiegh the cons for me and for that reason, I recommend you try it and decide for yourself!

Get it for yourself on Amazon: AdvoCare Spark Energy Drink or contact an Advocare distributor.

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Memphis Is A Cycling City

As loyal readers know, I love to bike.

merry life bike ride

It’s been my main form of cardio fitness for a while and my preferred way to sweat it out. That’s why I get so very excited every time I learn about my city making huge strides in cycling.

The local website Choose 901 shared a story about how Memphis is becoming a premiere destination for cyclists. That’s the just of the new report, “State of Bicycling 2014? from Bicycle Pedestrian Coordinator for the city of Memphis Kyle Wagenschutz.

I’m more excited about what the future holds and the potential Memphis holds to become a premier for anyone using a bike from around the world.
-Kyle Wagenschutz, Bicycle Pedestrian Coordinator, City of Memphis

biking around memphis

Key points Choose 901 pulled from the report include:

  • More than 133 miles of bike friendly infrastructure already exists
  • More than 273 miles will be in place by 2016
  • Memphis now has the highest rate of bike usage in Tennessee
  • Bike usage has more than doubled since 2008
  • While usage has increased, rate of accidents has stayed unchanged
  • Funding has been secured to complete projects

Some of the cool things Memphis is working on regarding cycling are the Hampline (two mile, on-road/multi-use trail designed for all levels of experience in walking and biking) connecting the Greenline (my personal favorite) to Overton Park and another 22 miles of green lanes across the city.

I remember when I was biking to work several miles a few years ago and there weren’t many (or any?) bike lanes back then. It was a bit scary at times but so much has changed here in such a short period of time. The first bike lanes and all that followed really made biking through Midtown and Downtown really accessible. And honestly if you can hit the greenline you can bike across the county rather easily. It’s pretty amazing all the progress Memphis has made in becoming a bicycle city.

The fact that so much MORE is coming in the next couple years is even more exciting. I am looking forward to trying out the new bike lanes and other bike areas that will be coming. I plan to blog more about it and showcase what an awesome biking city this so stay tuned!

mary bike ride

If you are super nerdy, or like biking, or like Memphis (or all three), you can read the whole report here.


In 2013, one of my goals was to build my self-confidence. I feel like I did this pretty well, despite it being a very, very bumpy road. I ended the year in a very good place, more confident with myself and my future direction than ever.  However, being laid off recently was a blow to this confidence. I know it wasn’t because of my work, but it still stung. It knocked me down a bit more than I expected. Honestly, I’ve struggled with confidence in others situations over the last few weeks because of it.

belive in yourself
photo by Jennifer

You Must Believe In Yourself

So many people have told me a lot of positive things, recommended me for jobs, and generally just gone out of their way to help me feel confident while looking for work. Despite what my inner mean girl voice tells me lately, a lot of people believe in me.

I’m surrounded by a great group of people and I’ll obviously not be unemployed forever, but what matters most is how much I believe in myself.

While that took a blow a few weeks ago, I’m realizing that nurturing it back to it’s good state is my number one goal right now. I’m the only one who is going to look out for myself and my career. I’m remembering to think positively about the situation, future opportunities, and past successes. Changing the mindset and perception of the situation makes a huge difference in confidence. Believing in myself is the only way to make the most of this opportunity.

No one hands you things in life, so you have to believe in yourself enough to go get what you want.

Reader Tips For Confidence

One reason why I love this blog and will forever keep it up is because it’s like I can google search my memory. When I have a topic I’m thinking about or struggling with, I can go click search and find my past posts on the topic.

Today I knew I wanted to talk about confidence, so I searched my blog for past posts on confidence. I found a post with reader tips for confidence and reading through them gave me a great boost.

  • Melissa – Close your eyes and jump in…being confident, assertive, and not focusing on pleasing everyone else all the time opens the door to a more authentic you. When you are more authentic with yourself and to those in your surroundings you just feel better. That goes a long way to healing your soul.
  • em – Okay, this may not be the most comfortable idea but in all seriousness, put on a pair of “power” heels! I’ve had to wear them to work recently and it feels great to strut your stuff around town or the office. Also do small things throughout the day that you know you are good at! If i get a hard assignment at work or am struggling with a workout, I will do something that I am good at or something that comes naturally to me to get a quick boost in confidence and allow me to keep pushing forward.
  • Nicole – As so many people have told me, fake it til you make it! I didn’t believe in this slogan. I thought it to be cliche and was not going to work. But let me tell you it really does. Know one knows you aren’t confident so don’t let anyone know, especially yourself.
    I used to pump myself up before I had to do a networking events. I would get the best woman power songs out there (I suggest some xtina) and get excited! The more happy, positive, and excited you are the better potential for you to give off a confident glow. So get pumped and fake it til you make it! Trust me it will get easier. The more you do the better you get. And do know you will get nervous, but channel that nervous energy into a ok I see your nervousness and I raise you confidence! Trust me hands down confidence reigns every time :-)
  • Shannon – Something I tell myself a lot is that is it not my place to decide what others think of me nor my concern. If we worry about pleasing others or being enough we will always fall short in our own eyes.
  • Karen – You know the expression, “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” I suggest tweaking it to this, “What is worth doing, even if you fail?” and then take imperfect action. Action is where it’s at, and since it can never be perfect, might as well go ahead and do it anyway. :-)
  • Kim – Once I realized that people don’t spend nearly as much time thinking about us as we think they do – I started to get over some of my insecurities. As I have aged, I’ve learned that even some of the people who come across as the most self-assured people I know, have insecurities.

All of this was so perfect to read while I’m job searching and deciding what move to make next. Everyone of us has insecurities and issues and feels less than confident at times. You just have to work through it and move along. That’s what I’m doing but it’s so nice to have this little reminder today.

If you’ve been struggling, remember to believe in yourself! Confidence really is all about what your inner voice says, so say good things!


Wide Calf Boot Options

wide calf boot optionsWhile I’ve lost dress sizes over my weight loss journey, one thing that has never changed much is my calf size. I wear clothes that are 5 sizes smaller but I still need wide width (or size up) and wide calf boots.

I only started wearing boots last year with a cute pair of cowboy boots, but I’ve fallen in love with the style. I have multiple pairs of cowboy boots now and the process of finding wide-calf boots in that style took a bit of extra effort.

Since it’s fall, it is now my mission to find some wide calf boots in a style I love. I’ve been browsing online and come up with a list of my favorites that I will be sharing below. I also plan to go by Target, Torrid, Lane Bryant, and some shoe stores in the mall, because I’m indecisive about shoes.

Here are the ones I’m currently loving:

Wide Calf Boots

wide calf boot - FRYE Women's Melissa Harness InSide-Zip Boot- Wide Calf

FRYE Women’s Melissa Harness InSide-Zip Boot: Wide Calf

  • 100% Leather
  • Imported
  • Leather sole
  • Shaft measures approximately 16″ from arch
  • Heel measures approximately 1″
  • A faux-cuffed seam and asymmetric topline modernize this classic harness boot.
  • The Boots come in Extended Calf

I LOVE THESE. The look, the real leather, the classic harness style. They are however, out of my price range. Maybe I’ll ask Santa.

wide calf boots - Lauren Ralph Lauren Women's Maritza Wide Calf Riding Boot

Lauren Ralph Lauren Women’s Maritza Wide Calf Riding Boot

  • Leather
  • Imported
  • Manmade sole
  • Shaft measures approximately 15″ from arch
  • Heel measures approximately 1″
  • Boot opening measures approximately 15.5″ around
  • 2014 Lauren by Ralph Lauren Collection
  • Features a roomier Shaft Design to Provide Fuller Calves with a Perfect Fit
  • Features 100% soft genuine leather upper
  • Features gold plated buckle design
  • Features full side zip for easy on/off

Thanks to my little brother, I’m a bit obsessed with the Ralph Lauren brand. That’s why these wide calf riding boots caught my eye.

wide calf boot - Naturalizer Women's Jersey Wide Shaft Knee-High Boot

Naturalizer Women’s Jersey Wide Shaft Knee-High Boot

  • 100% Leather
  • Imported
  • Synthetic sole
  • Shaft measures approximately 16.5″ from arch
  • Heel measures approximately 1″
  • Boot opening measures approximately 17.25″ around
  • Equestrian boot in pebbled leather featuring metallic hardware, buckle straps, and elasticized gores at side and back
  • Full-length instep zipper

I’ve tried on a few pair of Naturalizer brand shoes in the past and I’m in love with them for comfort. These tall wide calf boots would probably be so comfy.

wide calf boot - Naturalizer Women's Johanna Wideshaft Riding Boot

Naturalizer Women’s Johanna Wideshaft Riding Boot

  • 100% Leather
  • Imported
  • synthetic sole
  • Shaft measures approximately 14.12″ from arch
  • N5 construction
  • Wide shaft

Another pair of wide calf riding boots from Naturalizer that I’m loving. I dig the side buckles.

wide calf boot - Enzo Angiolini Women's Shobi Wide Calf Riding Boot

Enzo Angiolini Women’s Shobi Wide Calf Riding Boot

  • Leather
  • Imported
  • Manmade sole
  • Shaft measures approximately 16″ from arch
  • Heel measures approximately 1.25″
  • Platform measures approximately 0.5″
  • Boot opening measures approximately 15.75″ around
  • Timeless knee-high riding boot with full-length outstep zipper and concealed goring at back
  • Round-toe silhouette

Not super aware of this brand but I love how these boots look! They’ve got a great simple, clean style to them.

wide calf boot - Nine West Women's Shiza Wide Calf Knee-High Boot

Nine West Women’s Shiza Wide Calf Knee-High Boot

  • Leather
  • Imported
  • Manmade sole
  • Shaft measures approximately 15″ from arch
  • Riding boot with wraparound buckle strap at ankle and tonal stitching at shaft
  • Full-length zipper
  • Concealed elastic inset at cuff
  • Wide calf

Nine West always treats me right with shoes and handbags. Loving these wide calf knee-high boots.

wide calf boot - stretch back riding boot from lane bryant

Lane Bryant Stretch Back Riding Boot

  • Synthetic leather
  • Spot clean only
  • Imported
  • Heel height – 1″
  • Shaft height – 15.5″
  • Calf circumfrence – 18″
  • Trend-right riding boot is made especially for wider calves with a stretch panel in back for your perfect fit. Sleek faux leather front with buckled straps and hardware ring detail complete the look. Side zipper entry. Wide width with a non-slip sole.

These boots from Lane Bryant are a strong contender since they are wide width and wide calf boots. The trendy style and straps are a plus.

wide calf boot - torrid strappy boot

Torrid Strappy Riding Boot

  • With multiple straps and an elastic back side, these dark brown faux leather riding boots have a low 1″ heel and brushed brass tone buckles. Side zipper entry.
  • Calf fit by size:  7 fits up to 16.93″,   8 – 17.32″,  9 – 17.72″,   10 – 18.11″,   11 – 18.50″,  12 – 18.90″,  13 – 19.29″
  • Size 8 measures 16 1/2″ tall
  • Man-made materials
  • Imported

It’s been a long time since I’ve shopped at Torrid but I used to love buying clothes there! These wide calf boots are so adorable. I love the multiple straps.  They also ring in at a much more affordable price point.

wide calf boot - Unisa Toshio Wide Calf Riding Boot

Unisa Toshio Wide Calf Riding Boots

  • Looking for a staple pair of riding boots you can rock all season? The Unisa Toshio flat boot has just the right amount of details to pull your look together in an effortlessly fashionable way.
  • Faux leather upper
  • Strap and buckle accent
  • Round toe
  • 15″ shaft height, inside zipper
  • 16″ calf circumference, topline elastic insert for stretch fit
  • 1½” stacked block heel
  • Synthetic sole
  • Imported

I tried these wide calf boots on when I visited a DSW in Nashville last week but couldn’t decide in time if I wanted them. They are actually cheaper online than they were in the store so I think it might be time to snag a pair.


Mid-Calf Wide Calf Boots

wide calf boot - Brinley Co Buckle Accent Slouchy Mid-calf Boots

Brinley Co Buckle Accent Slouchy Mid-calf Boots

  • Polyurethane
  • Manmade sole
  • Shaft measures approximately 15 from arch
  • Sole height measures approximately 0.25 inch. Taken from size 7.
  • Available in wide calf sizes. Add approx. 2″ to the regular sized calf circumference to get wide calf circumference.

These affordable wide calf slouchy boots might be worth a purchase just so I can have a fun pair to wear without worrying about the cost aspect.

wide calf boot - FRYE Women's Veronica Slouch Boot- Wide Calf

FRYE Women’s Veronica Slouch Boot: Wide Calf

  • Leather
  • Rubber sole
  • Shaft measures approximately 13.5″ from arch
  • Heel measures approximately 1.25″
  • Platform measures approximately 0.5″
  • Boot opening measures 16″ calf circumference
  • The styles incorporate leathers with natural variations.

Again, loving on these FRYE boots but they are above my price range at the moment.

Do you need wide calf boots? Where do you buy your wide calf boots? Which of these are your favorites? I welcome suggestions/favorites!

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.