How Life Changes when you get Engaged

Our Special Projects Senior Analyst, Jamie, Talks about being Engaged

People always say things like “you don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone” and unfortunately for me, that cliché has come true for my free time. As any full-time employee would probably agree, evenings and weekend time is precious. This is when you can leave behind the piles of work and overflowing email inbox to take advantage of “me time.” Whether you hit the gym, meet up with friends, or sink into that permanent indentation on your couch, these are the valuable moments you have to do whatever you want.

Last summer, my fantastic boyfriend of 4+ years proposed to me on the beach of the Exuma Island in the Bahamas. It was a whirlwind few weeks of sheer excitement, happy tears, and girly screaming. Shortly thereafter when the clouds of giddiness cleared, I realized I was not only committing to a future with my fiancé, but I was also signing up for a second job. Adios free time.

I am not one of those girls that had every last detail of their wedding day planned out by the age of 12, so I had to start from scratch. Instead of leaving work with the evening’s dinner plans in mind, now all I can think about is an expanding guest list and table linen colors. Nightly TV time and Facebook stalking has been replaced by hours of Google searches for favor bags and invitation card stocks. There are so many little tasks involved in planning the big day, so bringing in a wedding planner was a must. Luckily for me, my mom doesn’t charge much!

At the end of the day, I know it is all worth it and I cannot wait to see all of our hard work come together. As long as I get to marry my best friend (and every single thing goes off without a hitch…just kidding), then I will be a happy bride. My advice to the Bridezillas out there: start early, take it one day at a time, and don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Project Open Hand, A Giving Experience

 As interns at RaceTrac, we decided to participate in a volunteer event at Project Open Hand, a charity that provides meals to persons with disabilities.  Arriving early on a Saturday morning, none of us knew what to expect out of this experience.  We were quickly shuffled into a meeting room where we had to sign liability waivers, and were shown a video on the charity.  Having an idea of what we were now getting into, it was time to suit up!  Project Open Hand really goes above and beyond when it comes to food safety.  I know what you’re thinking, hairnet right?  WRONG!  They decked me out in full food safety garb, that’s right, beard net, apron, and arm hair sleeves. I seriously looked like a hazmat operator/Santa Clause. 

After suiting up, we went into the kitchen where it was time to commence working.  To be honest it was actually a very efficient operation.  I was impressed with how many people lend their time to this organization that is dedicated to helping other people.  They were appreciative of the help that everyone was able to offer and they were dedicated to their cause.  Project open Hand delivers 4,000 meals a day in the Atlanta Area and being a part of this process gave me a greater appreciation for what they actually do.  Project Open Hand is responsible for helping many people in the area and they do it all out of their willingness to help others.  This was a great experience for me and opened my eyes to all the good that Project Open Hand does in the community.  I want to take the time to thank RaceTrac for organizing this event and allowing me to be a part of it. 

-Rachel Beauchamp, RaceTrac Intern

What I did on Summer Vacation

Our Talent Manager, Steve, gives us his thoughts from his summer vacation

Who’s Holding Your Ladder?

I had the opportunity to take a vacation the last week of June this year and I spent it with my family at the beach in South Carolina.  I enjoy that vacation every year, but this year it was particularly nice, and for a couple reasons.

1. Wow, I REALLY needed a vacation this year.  Everyone knows what it feels like to be stressed, tired, etc.  That’s why we are afforded vacation time to recharge our batteries when they are on empty and I certainly took advantage of the opportunity to fully recharge my battery.

2. I read Who’s Holding Your Ladder? by Samuel Chand and found it to be one of the most impactful leadership books I have read.

So what was so great about this book?  I mean, a leadership book, we have all read them, but what was so great about this book.  Who’s Holding Your Ladder? is a leadership book that focuses on picking a strong support team.   Mr. Chand describes this as a leader’s most difficult decision.

Do you focus on your team and teammates?  Or do you set limitations based on your own personal abilities?

To use a great example from Mr. Chand, I ask you, who out there has ever climbed Stone Mountain right here in Atlanta, GA?  Did you climb it alone?  There is a good chance many of you did.  Could you climb it alone?  Of course you could as it is nothing more than a casual stroll up a slight incline. 

Now, who out there has ever climbed Mt. Everest?  For those that have indeed climbed Mt. Everest, did you climb it alone?  Not a chance.  It takes a team, a very strong and skilled team to summit Mt. Everest.

So, now on to your question.  Steve, why would I go through selecting and training with a team to climb Mt. Everest when I can climb Stone Mountain on my own?  Great question, and I answer it like this.  Whether it is climbing a mountain, the corporate ladder, or achievements in your personal life you are absolutely limited to how high you can go if you choose to climb alone.  Strong and effective teams allow you to reach heights you could never reach solo. 

So, to quote Mr. Chand, “Who’s holding your ladder?”

With Introspective Thoughts,,

Talent Manager, Steve Isbill

The Perfect Formula for Summer Fitness; Part 4, Friends

FRIENDS: As an intern living at home, I have quickly learned that there is nothing more valuable than friends. While nothing beats a wholesome and lighthearted family dinner, a surplus of family time tends to call for some friendship bonding, especially when Monday night dinners include the crazy cat lady from next door. Unlike the Friends cast, I do not have a regular hotspot hangout, like The Central Perk, so, if I want to hang out with my gal pals, like Rachel Greene and Phoebe Buffay, I must arrange plans.

Typical plans involve preliminary searches of’s latest restaurant ratings or how many thumbs up Ebert and Roeper gave Owen Wilson’s recent comedy. Very rarely do my activity suggestions include sports, unless of course  it involves cheering at a Brave’s Game or jumping in the pool for a quick swim, after a day of tanning.

However, there is a great way to get involved in sports and still fulfill my summer plans of soaking up the sun with friends by my side. By joining a local sports league, I have the ability to get a great exercise outdoors and still find out all the latest makeups and breakups in my gal pal group. As an added bonus, I have the opportunity to make more friends through a sports league, so that the next time my dad does something embarrassing at a family function; I have a larger group to text blast.

No matter one’s age or physical acumen, sports can certainly make your life healthier and happier. Aside from health benefits, sports can also improve talents in the work place. By polishing one’s hand-eye coordination, teamwork and sportsmanship, sports can produce valuable skills that can be enforced and implemented into daily tasks at the office. Not to mention, sports easily reduces stress to clear one’s mind. And of course, as always, sports are an excellent exercise. They are good for your heart, muscles and even your breathing!

These leagues are just as easy to find as movie show times! Using a multitude of sports league websites, interested individuals can seek out these opportunities and get involved! So, next time that crazy cat lady neighbor of yours comes over for a Monday night dinner, you can easily say, “While I’d love to stay and talk about fur balls and pet food, I have to meet up with some friends for a recreational kickball game!”

Summer Kisses,
The Brand Management Intern, Ariel

The Pefect Forumla for Summer Fitness: Part 3, Free

FREE: The work day has ended and is time to get in my car and let loose belting out show tunes and oldies, as “The Perfect Formula for Summer Fitness” recommends. On my drive home, I may want to make a few stops. Everything from the dry cleaners to the grocery store may be on my list, but one thing that definitely has not made the schedule is working out.

Many excuses can defend the working out question complex. One may ask, “Hey, do you want to go to this great kickboxing class later or a run on the treadmill?” My mind is yelling, “What are you crazy?” However, this answer is not an appropriate response. Acceptable responses include, but are not limited to; “I broke my leg recently, you just can’t tell, “Sting is in town for one night only” and “I’ve been waiting all week to watch The Bachelor.”

Saying, “I don’t know if it is worth the money” is an unacceptable excuse. Today, gyms offer everything from five day trial passes to two week trial passes. These no strings attached free-trial memberships allow first time users to experience all the gym has to offer for that allotted time period. By offering this coupon, potential members can see if a gym membership would be worth their time and money in the future.

Hypothetically, one could really utilize these free memberships all summer long. Just in Smyrna alone, there are over ten gyms. Imagine all of the free gym days that one could accrue just by stopping in a variety of gyms on their way home.

Now don’t get me wrong, these trial passes are not guaranteed to give you Suzanne Somer’s Flex Belt Abdominals or Dirk Nowitzki’s championship upper biceps, but they will truly get you on the right path to a healthier and more fit lifestyle. And who knows, perhaps you will find a new passion for working out.

Summer Kisses,
The Brand Management Intern, Ariel

The Perfect Formula for Summer Fitness: Part 2, Fun

FUN: Whether you are “Driving your Chevy to the levee” or “Getting your kicks on route 66”, everyone has to get to work somehow.

After fueling up on a quick breakfast of fiber and protein, like step number one of “The Perfect Formula to Summer Fitness” recommends, it is time to hop into my car and drive to work. While this may be a typical long and grueling drive in the Atlanta traffic, it is in fact the best time to have fun and let loose.

It’s time to turn up the radio and sing to everything from Lady Gaga to The Rolling Stones. The driver’s seat is now my stage and my morning coffee cup may not be the highest quality microphone, but it surely suffices. Although, I intend to get a few looks when I roll down the window and belt Celine Dion’s, “My Heart Will Go On,” the health benefits singing provides are far worth the stares.

Each morning, I am sure to walk into work happier, as singing elevates one’s mood. I have more energy, an improved memory, and an increased concentration all from my Grammy award winning performance that just happened to take place on I-75 south. For those that are seeking lower blood pressure or relief from asthma, singing can be a great exercise to facilitate these health needs. In addition, the oxygen intake is a fantastic way to stay healthy, look younger and tone one’s facial muscles. Now, we all know the secret to Justin Bieber’s fresh look, singing of course!

So, as Just Bieber would harmonize, “Never Say Never” to being too embarrassed of a highway concert. Whether, it is Madison Square Garden worthy or just shower time worthy, either way singing provides an excellent jumpstart to one’s morning.

Summer Kisses,
The Brand Management Intern, Ariel

The Perfect Formula for Summer Fitness: Part 1, Food

Summer may not officially begin for a few more weeks, but Ariel’s summer fitness formula has! As promised, the first official component of the perfect summer formula has arrived. Food.

FOOD: Food and Fitness? How can it be remotely possible that food can lead to fitness? Especially when my late night food runs continually seem to pose the age-old question, “Do you want fries with that shake?”

My typical work week involves early mornings and quite a bit of scrambling. From jumping in the shower to getting dressed and organizing my day, there is little leeway time for extra activities, including breakfast. How can I possibly catch the latest celebrity scandal on Good Morning America, if instead of scrambling for my belongings, I have to scramble eggs?

While who was voted off last night’s episode of American Idol is very serious business, eating breakfast is quite essential to maintaining a healthy body weight. Just a quick breakfast can lead to healthier dietary decisions and hold over hunger until lunchtime.  Plus, breakfast provides essential nutrients and vitamins giving one the energy for their workday.

As the summer sun rises with a glaring hot orange color, so may The Krispy Kreme sign, but a breakfast of fiber and protein is where it’s at. Grabbing a yogurt and topping it off with granola or fruit may be a tasty treat, or perhaps you want to get all Rachel Rae and prepare an omelet, either way eating a healthy breakfast is the first variable to my perfect formula for summer fitness.

A little breakfast in the morning certainly gives me a little extra incentive to finally answer, “Yes, I do want fries with that shake.”

Summer Kisses,
The Brand Management Intern, Ariel

My Favorite Food Spots in Baton Rouge

Marlon Checks in Again

I think when it comes to good food everyone has their favorite spot. I have several great spots in Baton Rouge that I visit quite often. Some might even call them my second home!

If you are hungry, Baton Rouge is the place for you! We have several restaurants that are ready to ply you with all kinds of good eats, no matter your taste or preference. If you like food (and who doesn’t?), prepare yourself for restaurants that specialize in everything from American food to Italian food. Looking for a place to splurge? Book a table at Sullivan’s Steakhouse or Flemings Steakhouse and you’re sure to impress. If you’d rather kick back in jeans and a T-shirt, count on Chimes, where the ambience is relaxed and the food always satisfies. Maybe you’d rather check out something that’s more casual and laid back? For those people, I would recommend Portobello’s Italian Grill & Café.  These are all great options if you are hungry in Baton Rouge.

As you can see, I have a passion for great food. The hard work has been done for you, so what are you waiting on? Go eat!!!

Some Health Tips for the Spring

Marlon, One of Our Field Employees, Chimes in

Winter is nearing its end and spring is not far away. However, the weather seems very volatile. The ever-changing weather causes many health problems to people. In order to keep a healthy body, I have a few tips for people to deal with the various temperature changes out there.

I like to use brown sugar and ginger water to prevent a cold. Cut ginger into pieces, then cook it with brown sugar. After ten minutes of boiling, you can drink it. The ginger water could make the body warm, increase energy, activate blood, accelerate blood circulation, and help people, especially elderly and young children, to fight against the cold climate. This is a great way for your body to feel better while fighting illnesses. This has always helped me stay healthy during harsh weather.

Use local resources to do exercise at home. For the cold, people should not merely have a passive defense. I try to take the initiative to increase my own exercise and you can too. You can choose some open space at home to do some specific exercises, or you could do any basic physical activity. Try to start out at 1-2 times a day. Over time, you can increase the quality and quantity of your exercise.

For people who aren’t used to doing anything to enhance their health, these are just a few methods I like to use to stay healthy during the spring season. A small change in a person’s lifestyle can be a big difference.

Moving back with parents after college

At the end of my high school days, it was time to get out of the house. I had already started to develop some independent habits for myself. It was time to take these habits and form a lifestyle in college. While in college, I was able to learn how to balance my newfound freedom with discipline. However, when it came to moving back into my parent’s house after college, I didn’t know what to expect as far as freedom goes. I am used to having things done my way, all the time. So I was very nervous and anxious to get back to life at home. Overall, it has been a fantastic experience. Here are the three best things and three worst things about living with my parents again:

1. Chores- So now that I am home I am responsible for one thing only: My room. When I was at school, I was responsible for a room, a hallway, a staircase, a living room, dining room, and kitchen. Now, as long as I keep my room clean, my daily chores are done.
2. Money-I get to make my own money working every day, and not spend them on the day to day normal expenses of life. These expenses are paid by my parents and they include food, laundry detergent, fuel (@ RaceTrac of course), and many more. Not to mention rent and utilities.
3. House life- Being back in a house is an awesome. I loved apartment life, but at the end of the day there wasn’t enough room for all the things I wanted to do. Not to mention it’s my parent’s house with the stuff I grew up with in every room (sentimental value is so underrated).

1. Chores- The best part is also the worst part. With a house five times bigger than my apartment, cleaning is a weekly activity rather than a daily run-through. If I am home on a Saturday, I am guilted into doing yard work, something I haven’t done since high school. Once or twice a week, I am in a kitchen cleaning dishes four people ate on, rather than one. I don’t have to do these things, but if I didn’t, I would be a bad housemate.
2. Food- Beggars can’t be choosers- I get that. But I like food my way. I eat pretty healthy, so when my dad cooks, he says “you can have it two ways, my way or none at all.” And he cooks whatever taste good so sometimes I go without, sometimes I eat unhealthy food. Either way I’m unhappy.
3. TV- Now that I am back home, after dinner we all sit around the living room and watch TV. There are usually four people in the room. If I am living in college, I am watching the Braves every night. But I don’t always get my way living with four people. I would rather sit in the living room with my family watching Dancing with the Stars than alone watching the Braves. A lose-lose situation.