At Home Teeth Whitening: Does It Work?

This past summer, I was researching professional teeth whitening. I noticed that my teeth were looking dull, and they had started to make me self conscious. I knew I needed to do something about them. In true Sara fashion, I procrastinated because I was reluctant to shell out the $400+ needed for the whitening. So it was a little ironic (and just my luck) that Smile Brilliant reached out to me to try their professional teeth whitening kit. Now that was something I could jump on board with!

Smile Brilliant was the perfect solution for me because it is the same solution that a dentist near me would use and it is custom fitted to your teeth. I have sensitive gums but Smile Brilliant is safe for both enamel and gums, and can be used on sensitive teeth. I had almost zero sensitivity during the process! And most importantly, the results are noticeable and PERMANENT.

The kit is initially mailed to you with “molding clay” so that you can make impressions of your teeth. I was super nervous about this step, and worried that I would screw it up. Luckily, they send you extra clay for just that purpose but I did not end up needing it. The directions were very clear and straightforward, and the molding was actually a very easy step. Then you mail back your impressions in the prepaid envelope, and about two weeks later you receive your trays. I had imagined a thick, sports-type mouthguard to get mailed back to me but the trays that were sent back were super thin and lightweight. No one could even tell I was wearing them when they were in.

*Funny story* I was putting my son to bed while wearing the trays, and he had no idea that they were in. Well, I sneezed, and the trays flew out of my mouth. He started screaming, “Daddy, come see what happened to Mommy!” I couldn’t stop laughing. Anyways, I digress.

Now for the whitening:

Each night I would apply a small strip of whitening gel to the trays, and leave them in my mouth for about two hours, depending on the night. I was worried about sensitivity, so I started with about 30 minutes, and worked up to two hours but I had almost no sensitivity.

After your trays are in for your desired amount of time, you take out the trays and brush your teeth as you normally would, and follow with the desensitizing gel. I will say, this was the hardest part of the whitening. I go to bed early, so finding time to have the trays in for an extended period was challenging. Even though I started putting them in right after dinner, it was still tough to fit it in. But for deep stain removal, more time is needed.

It took about a month to reach my desired whiteness, and I think I may continue the process longer. That’s also the great thing about Smile Brilliant – I already have my trays so I would just need to purchase more whitening gel. You can see my results here: 

If you are interested in trying Smile Brilliant for yourself, you can use the code: “joggersandgymshoesblog15” for 15% off your kit!

I am also giving away one at home whitening kit. That’s a $150 value! Entering is simple. Just click here! The giveaway is open for one week, and you will be contacted by email if you win.

Will you try it for yourself?


Professional Teeth Whitening

Transitioning to Fall

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Dress (extra 10% off with code: TULIP) // Bag // Booties // Necklace // Sunglasses

It’s still HOT around here, and I’m so tempted to keep filling my closet with summer items but then I remember that I live in Chicago. In Chicago, the start of school is right around the corner which means that fall is basically next week which means it’s basically winter already. Ain’t that the (sad) truth?

I’ve started stocking up on fall pieces, as well as a lot of items that will transition well from warm temps into cooler ones. This dress was a MUST buy for me. It can be worn so many different ways. It would be really cute layered with this jacket or this top as the leaves start to change. It is adorable with booties but would also look really cute with mules or even a pair of sneakers.

I am absolutely loving the dark pink color of this bag to transition from summer to fall. It’s small enough to use everyday but also large enough to fit a computer and use for work. It brings a fun pop of color to any outfit.

Not sure I am ready for fall BUT shopping for fall clothes is my favorite 😉



On Being Insecure

Tank // Bralette // Jeans // Booties // Necklace

You’re probably thinking, “She takes pictures of herself, she must love how she looks. Why does she need to talk about being insecure?” WRONG. I happen to love writing and find it cathartic. I also love fashion and style so that’s how this blog was born! But I’ll let you in on a little secret, I absolutely hate having my picture taken. I’m super self conscious, and tend to look away from the camera.

When I look through my pictures for the blog, I find so many flaws. I hate my legs, I hate my hair, I hate my nose, blah blah blah. On a daily basis, I find myself drawing attention to my “flaws”, staring aimlessly in the mirror, looking for reassurance from my husband that, “no, you don’t look big in those jeans.”

There are so many ways in our day to day lives that make us think that everyone else has it perfect. I find myself comparing my life to others – my house isn’t as big, my clothes aren’t as nice, etc. etc. Instagram is the perfect example of this. The family of 12 vacationing in Thailand managing to take beautiful pictures along the way? I can’t even get my kids to Disney World. Hell, I can barely get them to take a picture with me. How does the mom of five manage to get herself perfectly put together when I can somehow only manage to wear the same outfit three days in a row?

But then I remember to remind myself, is Instagram reality? In most cases, no. It is a minuscule sampling of what we project our lives to look like. We don’t really know what goes on behind anyone’s closed doors. Maybe they are dealing with insecurity and self consciousness the same way that I am? Maybe they are having marriage troubles? Maybe their eldest child was just diagnosed with ADD? We just don’t know because it’s not portrayed.

I had been struggling a lot recently in my own life with anxiety. Mom life had worn me down, and I was feeling like I wasn’t “keeping up with the Joneses” (more on that later). Then the guilt set in. Because when I sit back and examine my life. I really am so lucky, and so blessed – wonderful family all around, amazing kids, a great husband. So where is this insecurity stemming from?

Unfortunately, it’s our nature to compare ourselves to others, and, due to my own insecurities, I feel like I’m being judged more than most people are. While I am working constantly to become less insecure and less “aware” of what others think, it is a process. My husband is great at reminding me, “Who really cares what other people think?” So I just try to make that my daily mantra. When I feel my insecurities really taking hold, I STOP, and make myself think of three things that bring me joy. That joy has really helped dig me out of the insecure hole I was beginning to bury myself in.

No ones life is perfect. But the fact that I wake up every morning to two beautiful babies calling my name down the hall is pretty damn great. I just need to keep reminding myself that my greatest joy trumps all my other insecurities.

Do you struggle with insecurity? Lets chat!




Basic Invite

Joggers and Gym Shoes Blog contains affiliate links. Read full Disclosure Policy here.

Can you believe that it’s already time to start thinking about your fall family photos? I’m no where near ready for fall but I love any opportunity to pick out new outfits for the kiddos. Sadly, school will be back in session before we know it! Summer is so bittersweet.

I’m at that stage in my life where every weekend there’s a baby shower scheduled or a first birthday. Holiday cards are always sent. Fall family photos are always taken. I’m constantly on the hunt for the perfect card whether it be for my daughter’s birthday party or Christmas cards to send to my family so I was really excited to discover Basic Invite.

What sets Basic Invite apart from other online stationary companies is that they are one of the few websites that allows customers almost unlimited color options with instant previews online. Once you select a design you can change the color of each element on the card to over 180 different color options so you can make sure the card is exactly how you want it down to the littlest detail. You can choose from over 40 different colors of envelopes so that you can make your invitation stand out even before it is opened. And ALL of their envelopes are peel and seal so the envelopes can be quickly and securely closed. #momwin!

My favorite feature is that Basic Invite is one of the few websites that allows customers the ability to order a printed sample of their actual invitation so you can see exactly how it will print, as well as the paper quality, before you ever have to place your final order.

I know it is early to start thinking about holiday cards BUT Basic Invite offers an address capturing service that allows customers to simply share a link on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other form of social media to request their friends and family’s addresses which will be stored in the customer’s account and can then be selected during the design process. Basic Invite offers recipient address printing at no cost on all Christmas card orders. Get those fall family photos booked ASAP!

Right now Basic Invite is offering 15% off with coupon code: 15FF51

Some my favorites are their baby shower invites – gender neutral baby shower invitations and owl themed baby shower invitations, and of course, their holiday cards.

I hope you enjoy Basic Invite as much as I do!



In Collaboration with Basic Invite. All thoughts and opinions are my own.



Dresses for summer

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Dress // Shoes

I recently discovered a love for all things dresses. I’ve said before, I don’t wear a lot of dresses when I am teaching. It’s too uncomfortable with the amount of time I spend sitting on the floor. Then one day this summer, I threw on a light, airy dress after a day at the pool, and there was no better feeling. I was hooked. I found that they are also perfect for keeping cool with the fam at a carnival or street fest, date night, baseball game, and the list goes on.

So today I’m sharing my favorite dresses to get you through these Hot summer days! Happy shopping!



Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Picks

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1. Cut Out Bootie

2. Bralette

3. Brown Bootie

4. Adidas Sneaker

5. Nike Sneaker

6. Waffle Stitch Cardigan

7. Sports Bra

8. Exposed Seam Sweater

9. Moto Leggings

10. Striped Tee

11. Striped Sweater

12. Swing Jacket

While I don’t think this Nordstrom Anniversary Sale adds up to other years, I did find a lot of great staples for fall. My goal with this sale is always to find timeless pieces that I will wear over and over. I always stock up on shoes, workout essentials, and a few sweaters and tees. I WAS really excited about all of the boots that are included in the sale. I had a really hard time narrowing down the ones to purchase. I would have bought about six pairs if I could have! I’m also still on the hunt for a new pair of jeans – I’m leaning towards these. And I haven’t even begun looking at kids stuff yet. Above and below you can shop what I have bought for myself so far from the sale.

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The Toughest Age Yet


Being a mom is the hardest job you will ever have. Rewarding, yes. Easy? Oh hell no. I’ve heard that once you have two kids, any number after that doesn’t matter. Two is the hardest it is going to get. I don’t know if Dean and I will be ones to test that theory because two is so freakin hard. And then you go through a period that we boldly thought the kids were getting easier. HA! I know, I know, I can hear you all laughing at how naive we were.

And just when you think that life with two kids is getting a little easier, one of them turns four, and you the ground rolls out from under your feet all over again. FOUR. Four is the toughest age yet, at least in my opinion. I imagine there studies out there saying how teacher’s kids are worse behaved than most kids but I’m afraid to look. That’s got to be it, right?

Chloe has reached a whole new level way beyond threenager. Not only has the three year old sassiness stuck around guns blazing but the two year old tantrums have come back with a vengeance. The letters B-R-A-T come to mind. We have also learned that biting, hitting, and pinching are effective ways to resolve an argument. Telling your mom 20 times each day that she “is mean” is the way to get what you want. Screaming in stores and restaurants. Four has been awful. What happened to my sweet little girl?

Now don’t get me wrong, there are days that I just adore spending time with her. She can carry on a conversation and tell stories for hours. She likes to shop. She likes to go out to eat. She is turning into a little person and that is so much fun to watch. But on bad days, look out. There is no reasoning with her. She is so strong willed. And the worst part is, you just don’t know what might set her off. I understand tantrums with Ryan. Although equally frustrating, he’s TWO. It’s expected at two. It was not expected at four.

Four has given me a run for my money.

I know it will get easier. And I’ll miss these days someday. But right now, please send wine.



Shopping Poshmark

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Poshmark Outfits

Top (Purchased on Poshmark) // Skirt (Purchased on Poshmark) // Shoes // Bralette

Top (on Sale) // Bralette (purchased on Poshmark) // Shorts // Shoes // Sunglasses

I recently began cleaning out my closet, and started putting things up on my Poshmark store. While I was doing this, I started browsing around and found some really great deals on things I was already looking for. And the best part? The items were NEW. And not just, new-without-tags-who-really-knows-how-many-times-its-been-worn, like really new WITH tags still on for half the price what I would have paid in store. But finding these deals is not always easy.

Below are my three tips on shopping Poshmark.

  1. Know what you are looking for. There are MILLIONS of things on Poshmark. So if you type in “dress”, five bajillion dresses will pop up and a lot of the pictures are not the best quality. It’s hard to find what you are looking for. BUT, if you type in

    Madewell silk meadow wrap skirt in field bouquet“, the EXACT skirt will pop up. So if you are eyeing something in a store but don’t want to pay full price for it, search for it on Poshmark. New things are added all the time.

  2. Even if you are not ready to pull the trigger and make a purchase on Poshmark, make sure you “LIKE” all of the items you are looking at. They will get saved so you can find them again easily, and you will be alerted if there is ever a price drop or a special offer.
  3. Don’t be afraid to make an “offer”. I’ve gotten a lot of items this way. If I find something I like but feel it’s priced to high, I can “offer” a lower price. The seller can than accept, counter, or decline.

Poshmark is a great way to get things you are looking for at a huge discount! If you are feeling ambitious, you could even start your own store and get rid of all those things you don’t wear anymore. They even have a section for children’s items.

Will you Poshmark?



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Smart Snacking

Since I was about 16 years old, about half of my life, I have battled hypoglycemia. On top of everything teenagers deal with, I found myself breaking out in cold sweats after eating, seeing double, unable to focus, and feeling like I was constantly going to fall over or pass out. Fun huh?

Soon after, I was diagnosed with Hypoglycemia. Basically, after I consume a high carb meal, my body would produce way too much insulin, and my blood sugar would drop way too fast causing me to feel like I was going to faint.

So how is Hypoglycemia different from diabetes?

Hypoglycemia is similar to diabetes in that you have to follow a low sugar, small frequent meals type of diet. You also need to worry about your blood sugar dropping too fast. It is different from diabetes because your blood sugar never gets too high which is the main struggle with diabetes. I do not have to give myself insulin injections like someone with diabetes would.

So what did you do?

When I was younger, I had a really hard time regulating my blood sugar. The foods I should have been eating did not always meet the convenience factor that I needed. It wasn’t until after college, with my Nutrition degree in hand, that I really started to understand what my body needed.

A lot of finding out what worked for me came from trial and error. I discovered that all of the high carb foods that I loved so much were like poison to my body. I can no longer eat bagels with butter for breakfast (sigh) but I will enjoy the occasional bagel along with two eggs for protein to balance out the carb content. Eating a cinnamon roll or donut for breakfast without protein would quite literally put me in bed for the rest of the day.

To this day, I still struggle finding acceptable snacks that are easy on the go so I was really excited to discover Sugar Smart Box! Sugar Smart Box is a monthly subscription snack box that delivers low sugar and low carb snacks right to your door. What I loved most about the Box was that everything inside could easily be thrown into a lunch box, backpack, or purse. As a mom, I’m always looking for a healthy snack I can throw in the stroller as we are running out the door that won’t go bad when I forget to eat it right away. My kids loved a lot of the snacks too which is always a plus. You can check out Sugar Smart Box here.

What are your health struggles? I’d love to hear!



In Collaboration with Sugar Smart Box.

The Perfect Petite Summer Maxi

Dress // Shoes // Sunglasses

I am normally not a huge wearer of dresses. They just don’t fit in well with mom-life, and kindergarten teacher life. Dresses aren’t really practical when you are sitting on the floor for 90% of your day. I also tend to shy away from maxi dresses because they swallow my petite frame (I’m barely pushing 5’1″ if you are wondering). I just can’t pull them off.

Enter THIS DRESS. And maybe you are thinking, “Well Sara, you can’t pull this one off either.” But let me tell you, it is one of the most comfortable things I have ever worn, and the perfect dress for summer. This maxi dress hits me at the perfect ankle length so that my shoes don’t get all tangled up in it. It’s also long enough that I can sit on the floor in it without worrying that something inappropriate might be hanging out. It also comes in a pretty blue color (pictured below), and I debated which color for awhile. I ultimately went with the red because I wanted something a little “spicy” for summer. 😉

I already see myself wearing this dress every weekend. It’s so versatile. I wore it to a birthday party in the city this past weekend, and I plan on wearing it to my mom’s retirement party in a few weeks. It would also be perfect for BBQ’s, baby showers, summer festivals, street fests, concerts in the park, the list goes on…

Snag this dress soon because it will sell out!