Thursday, March 3, 2016

Running, Surprising People, and Surprising Yourself

I came across this quote a few months ago, and it really stuck with me. At first, I read it literally as "Make sure others can't guess what you're next move is." But then it hit me - I'm one of those "people" the quote refers to, which means I should be surprising myself.
So I started thinking. Do I surprise myself? What IS the fun in completing a task you know you can do?

For me, the most fun adventures are the ones I never thought I'd have. The risks I never thought I'd take. The gambles I never thought would pay off. The physical feats I never thought I'd overcome.

So I started on a mental list of things I never in a million years thought I'd do but did: ROTC and law school at the same time, living and interning in Washington, D.C., having my own business/blog (!!!!).

So what had I written off as impossible and not yet faced? Number one on that list . . .


Why had I given up on it? For one, I always told myself and others that I "just wasn't a runner." As a kid, it was because I lacked any type of athletic ability to run. When I reached ROTC in August 2014, it was because I was obsessed with training purely for strength and not endurance. Cardio was a no-go.

Constantly Varied Gear Running Tank Hungry Gator Gal

Photo by Brianna Kolota

So when another cadet in ROTC asked if I wanted to run the Army Ten-Miler Race in Washington, D.C. in October 2015, I was hesitant. I thought, "There's no way I could run 10 miles straight. That's too far. I feel like I'm going to die on the APFT's 2-mile run."

But I stopped myself. Sure, running 10 miles is a challenge, but I like challenges. And I knew I could find a "beginner's" running plan that worked me up to 10 miles while avoiding injuries and over training.

So I said yes to the race. I was a little overwhelmed, but I was in.

In the 6-7 weeks prior to the race, I miraculously fit three runs in per week (one speed, one tempo, one long) despite my insane schedule. I ate well. I slept as much as I could while still fulfilling my responsibilities. I sacrificed some "down" time along the way, but it paid off.

A photo posted by Brianna Kolota (@hungrygatorgal) on

The Army Ten-Miler Race pace below was my 2-mile pace a year prior to the race. It was a complete surprise to myself and at least two other cadets who ran that race. They knew I did NOT consider myself a runner.

But now, I do call myself a runner.

A photo posted by Brianna Kolota (@hungrygatorgal) on

A photo posted by Brianna Kolota (@hungrygatorgal) on

I'm a runner not because I run every day (because I don't).

I'm a runner not because I have two long-distance races under my belt as of February (Army Ten-Miler Race and a half marathon).

And I'm definitely a runner not because I love running (because some days I loathe it).

I'm a runner because I surprised a lot of people by running the Army Ten-Miler Race and running it well. But more importantly, I surprised myself.

So whether you consider yourself a runner or not, ask these questions: "Am I immersed in the art of surprising others? Am I surprising myself?"

If the answer is no, find a challenge, big or small, and commit.

With work, take on a project that you've been hesitant to dive into for fear of failing or doing a "bad" job.

With food, meal prep on Sundays so you can finally stop making excuses for eating takeout every day.

And if you're willing to tackle running like I did, set a goal.

As a newbie, run once per week. If you've only run for fun in the past, train for a fast 5k. Or if you're finally ready to tackle a long-distance race, stay tuned for my next few posts.

In the coming weeks, I'll post a program for a speedy 10-mile race and a program for your first half marathon. Expect workouts, sample meals, and rest day activities/mobility work.

I'm excited to share what I've learned, and I hope you stick around for it. :)


  1. How do you surprise yourself?
  2. What's a recent race/fitness goal you accomplished that you never believed you'd be able to do?

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Fast-Paced Fall with SOS Rehydrate

Fall 2015 was a combination of being exhilarated, terrified, happy, and overwhelmed . . . and I wouldn't trade the experience for anything.

Despite the suicidal pace of my life at times, I realized this fall that if you're afraid of how fast you're going, you know the journey is a good one.

With that said, I can't thank my friends, family, teachers, and classmates enough for being a part of this insane journey that is law school, ROTC and my personal life. And on the fitness front, I have SOS Rehydrate to thank for keeping me and my teammates hydrated while training for and competing in two fun, challenging events: the Army Ten-Miler race and my second Army ROTC Ranger Challenge competition.

So here's a recap of my fast-paced fall. More to come in 2016 about journeys in running, racing, competing, fueling and life as a officer candidate and law student. :)


My 2-mile time in August was 15:50. After a season of training and racing, my time is currently around 14:30, give or take a few seconds based on the day. Stay tuned for more on the simple program I used to shave those 80 or so seconds off my time.


A photo posted by Brianna Kolota (@hungrygatorgal) on

Long training runs in Florida heat and humidity are awesomely awful. Give me my IV drip of mango electrolytes stat.


A photo posted by Brianna Kolota (@hungrygatorgal) on

SO MUCH FUN. The energy of the thousands of runners during the Army Ten-Miler race was insane. Racing through our nation's capital was one of the best moments of my life . . . and I came in 7.5 minutes under my projected finishing time! Here are my stats (out of about 30,000 runners):

More fun trip photos!

A photo posted by Brianna Kolota (@hungrygatorgal) on

Photo cred to our awesome UF Army ROTC cadre members.

This photo was taken somewhere in of the middle of the 10-mile ruck, which was the final event at the Ranger Challenge competition. Other events for the competition (which started at 3am!!!) included 1,000 ruck lifts & 1,000 sit-ups (total for the team of 9), a triage lane, a rope bridge lane, a shuttle run and a 5-mile relay run. Needless to say, we were TOAST by the end.


A photo posted by Brianna Kolota (@hungrygatorgal) on

Army-Navy ROTC annual football game! I have no idea why my tongue is out. Maybe I was focusing? I've been told I do this when studying intensly. . .


Here's to 2016 and all of the hope, excitement, challenges and fun it will bring. I wish you and your family the best in the new year! :)

Note: SOS Rehydrate provided me and my teammates with electrolyte packets in return for me writing this post, promoting their products and wearing their gear. However, all opinions are my own.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Busy with Bulu Box

Busy. Busy. Busy.

I hate being busy. What I do like is being productive. In my mind, "busy" and "productive" aren't synonymous.

"Busy" is when you're so stressed out about getting things done that you actually don't get them done. What you end up with is a haphazard, half-finished job.

"Productive" is when you use every ounce of your being to focus on one task at a time. You're not multi-tasking. You're laser-focused. And when you finish a project, you have some time to relax, regroup and choose your next project wisely.

Unfortunately, I've been more "busy" than "productive" these days. Answering texts all day long while taking notes in class. Working on an assignment that's due for one class while sitting in another class. Dealing with simple but time-consuming day-to-day tasks like cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, dry cleaning. The list goes on and on . . .

Needless to say, I'm trying to automate more parts of my day so I can focus on the most important tasks (i.e. school, fitness and obligations for ROTC). Luckily, Bulu Box has allowed me to do just that - automate how I look for and try new food and fitness products.

So here's how it works: You order a subscription. Each month Bulu Box sends you a box filled with 4-6 samples to try, usually a mix of snacks, health products and supplements. Here's what I received in my first box:

The first thing that "jumped" out at me - cricket protein!

Up next: Fast running fuel from island boost, which has DEFINITELY come in handy since I started running 15-20 miles per week training for the Army Ten-Miler race.

 Fiber formula (a.k.a. what to drink when you've been less-than-stellar in eating veggies one day).

Favorite item in the box: mediterra bar - sundried tomato and basil. Snack bars are usually sweetened with chocolate chips, honey, etc. It was a nice change of pace to eat a savory snack.

meditera snack bar

Now for the products. True story - I call my backpack "Mary Poppins' bag" because, with the addition of this brush and toothpaste, it's now prepared for a weekend trip at all times.

Don't mind me. I'm just trying to brush my teeth in a public restroom at 1200.

And finally, anti-itch cream. I'm not going to lie. I thought this product was a weird addition to the box and didn't expect to use it. However, I developed a weird bumpy rash on my left forearm for about 3 days. I still have no idea what caused the rash, but this cool, thick cream stopped the irritation immediately every time I felt like itching.

Earth's Care Anti-Itch Cream

Overall, I liked the products in the box and will definitely buy at least one of the items again. If you'd like to try your own box, go to Bulu Box's website and enter the code SWEATPINK for 50% off a 3-, 6- or 12-month subscription!

Until next time,
Brianna :)

P.S. Share the @bulubox #LoveBulu @fitapproach #sweatpink love by tweeting, pinning and posting these product images on your social media channels!

Note: I received a free box with the products described here in return for writing this post and sharing Bulu Box on my social media channels. All thoughts and opinions are my own.


  1. Have you tried Bulu Box?
  2. What new health and fitness products have you tried and loved recently?

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Stadium HIIT Workout

Alternative names I considered for this workout . . . "90 Aisles of Pain" and "Death by Intervals."

This workout is consistently difficult. It never gets easier. You just learn what your pain threshold is before your legs completely give up and you're gasping for air.

But just like anything else, the more you run stadiums, the better you become at it. Then it's time to raise the stakes. In Florida, add in 93-degree weather plus 90 percent humidity, and you're in for complete exhaustion because when you gasp for air, it's hot, thick and humid.

Fun times.

So have I convinced you to try my Stadium HIIT Workout below yet? If it's good enough for Tim Tebow, it's good enough for me. :)

Note: I usually warm up for this particular workout by running one lap around the stadium or completing this Stadium Workout Warm-up. Don't forget to stretch afterward too.

Fun facts: I ran up/down every step in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (a.k.a. The Swamp) in 2013 as a senior in college, and my calves felt like they were on fire for three days afterward. But despite the torture, the Swamp is my favorite place to workout, and running stadiums is my favorite workout of all time.


  1. Do you ever workout in a stadium?
  2. What's your favorite way to complete HIIT? Cycle? Running? Running stairs? Etc.
  3. What's your favorite workout of all time?

More About HIIT Workouts:

What Is the Best HIIT Workout?

3 Quick HIIT Workouts for Beginners 

HIIT Workout: What It Is and Why It Works

Related HGG Posts:

Stadium Strength Circuits Workout 


Quick Cardio Tabata Sets

Quick Cardio Tabata Sets from Hungry Gator Gal

26-Minute Boredom Busting Treadmill Workout

26-Minute Boredom-Busting Treadmill Workout from Hungry Gator Gal

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Take a Hike with a Friend (A #NationalGirlfriendsDay Post)

Warning - this post is going to be a photo dump of one of the most fun and physically active vacations I've ever taken.

Let me show you why spending a vacation hiking with your best friend is the best idea ever, even if your BFF isn't the most athletic person in the world. :)

1. You can escape your crazy schedules and spend some quality time together for once.

No emails. No jobs. No school. No responsibilities. Just you, your BFF and nature. 

Not to mention, you may have spent the last year living hundreds of miles away from each other and can't wait to take 5 million selfies to show that you were actually together for once, albeit in a beautiful place.

Photo by Brianna Kolota

2.  You take in some incredible views.

When you're 90 and sitting in your rockers next to one another, you'll be able to tell your grand kids about all the places you've visited together.

Photo by ???

Photo by Brianna Kolota

A photo posted by Brianna Kolota (@hungrygatorgal) on

A photo posted by Brianna Kolota (@hungrygatorgal) on

3. You can act like a kid again.

If you're on a trail in the middle of the woods and find a huge fallen log, why not climb it and test your balance with some yoga poses?  

A photo posted by Brianna Kolota (@hungrygatorgal) on

4. You remember why you love your best friend, and get a pretty good leg workout in the process.

Hiking up and down the side of a VERY rocky, VERY steep mountain for 3+ miles just to reach an overlook probably wasn't my BFF's favorite way to spend a Saturday afternoon, but she did it for me anyway. And that's one of the reasons I love her -  she always puts others before herself.

P.S. My BFF is deathly afraid of heights!

Photo by Brianna Kolota

Closing Thoughts

On a more important note, as I get older, I realize more and more how influential you can be in the lives of those around you.

If you're a physically active person by nature <--- hello me, the adult with ADD, you probably don't need someone to motivate you to be active, even if you're on vacation. But for others, motivation is the problem.

That's where I've realized I can make a difference. Suggesting "active" plans like hikes, runs, or stadium dates makes exercising something your friends look forward to rather than something you do because you should.

Endorphins make people happy. Sharing endorphins make for some happy, healthy friends and relationships.

Taking care of each other can be more than working out together too. Be accountable to one another for eating healthy, going to the doctor, getting checked for diseases, not smoking, driving safely, etc. I know females already talk about everything. It only takes a few seconds to send a text to remind your friend to eat her veggies, make that yearly check-up, get that mole checked out, or slow down on the roads.

If you're like me, you probably have NO idea what appointments and check-ups to make each year. But have no fear, here's a handy infographic about what you need to do each year throughout your life from my friends at Oscar Health Insurance. I know I'll be using it when I make my doctor's appointments this year!

You  can find more info about #NationalGirlfriendsDay and Oscar Health Insurance by following@OscarHealth on Twitter and checking out the CDC's Women's Health page. If you're interested in more on Oscar, check them out only to find out more about their health insurance in NJ and NY.

Until next time,
Brianna :)


  1. Have you ever taken an "active" vacation with friends or family?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Yoga Workout Playlist No. 4 (Spotify Playlist)

It's the end of July, and I'm dying for a power yoga or vinyasa class. A month at Fort Knox for training with ZERO stretching and a week in bed with tonsillitis has killed my flexibility. 

Guess who's starting from zero again in August when school starts? Ugghhhhh. I'm banking on the fact that making a yoga playlist usually sparks my desire to practice at home. I'll let ya' know how it goes. :)

Yoga Workout Playlist No. 4

Spotify playlist:

Follow me on Spotify if you like a mix of indie, alternative, EDM, pop, and country.


  1. Has anyone else fallen off the yoga wagon? If so, how long did it take you to reach your previous level of flexibility? 
  2. Do you go to yoga as much for the atmosphere as for a good stretch?

Related HGG Posts:

Yoga Workout Playlist No. 3

Yoga Playlist No. 3 from Hungry Gator Gal (Spotify playlist)

Yoga Workout Playlist No. 2

Yoga Workout Playlist No. 2 from Hungry Gator Gal (@spotify playlist included)

Yoga Workout Playlist

Monday, July 13, 2015

Summer Food & Fitness Essentials

Hydrate, exercise, jam out, eat, repeat. :)

From the top, left to right:

one // Nike Pro Classic Swift Bra and Nike Women's Dri-Fit Pro Classic Bra

No chafing. No band rolling. Everything stays in place. In other words, Nike Pros are everything I could ask for in sports bras when it's 90+ degrees Fahrenheit outside with 80+ percent humidity every damn day.

two // La Croix Sparkling Water

Because drinking plain water all the time gets old.

three // Aladdin Classic Insulated Mason Tumbler 32oz. 

Water bottle. Huge-a** smoothie holder. Every preppy girl's best friend...

four // Andy Grammer 

I wrote Andy Grammer off a while ago as "too much pop" for my taste, but then I saw him live at Fort Knox for the Army's 240th birthday concert. All I can say is that this guy is talented. Very down-to-earth but full of personality. He put on a fantastic show and made me a fan for life.

five // Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 32 Running Shoes - Women's & Men's

After trying on a bazillion brands and other Nike running shoes, I decided to stick with the Nike Pegasus line. My Pegasus 31s made it through 10 months of Army PT and individual runs, so why reinvent the wheel? And did I tell you how amazing the flywire technology is?!? The shoes fit like a glove and feel like pillows on my feet. Bye bye, shin splints.

six // Ben Howard - I Forget Where We Were 

Crazy, intense slow jams will have you playing this adult alternative album on repeat. It's one of those rare albums that captures thoughts and feelings you had no idea could be vocalized or let alone made into a melody.

seven // Twenty One Pilots - Blurryface  

Linkin Park meets Fall Out Boy meets Eminem meets Jamaican jams. I dare you to play this in the car and try to NOT sing along.

eight // Nike SFBs  

I LOVE THESE BOOTS. They become more comfortable with every ruck, hike, battle drill, march through the rain and mud, etc. I didn't get one blister while wearing these for a month in Fort Knox.

nine // Homemade pizza 

Cook three pizzas one night for the fam and you've got meals for two days. Pizza with cheese, veggies and protein always = a well-balanced meal.

ten // Nuun Energy Hydration Tablets

Running in the heat = no bueno if you don't refuel with electrolytes. And as much as I love Gatorade during field training, sugar water isn't necessary when I only spend an hour outside every day at home. These tablets pack serious flavor without the added sugar.

eleven //  POSH DJs App

Listen to club mixes outside of a club. The continuous streams are perfect for getting in the zone during workouts.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.


  1. What are some of your summer food and fitness essentials?

Related HGG Posts:

Favorite Nike Training Club Workouts

Friday's Favorites: Treats and Healthier Eats

Dunkin' Donuts Chocolate Glazed Donut Coffee on Hungry Gator Gal

Food and Fitness Finds for the New Year