Protein Packed Recipes: the how, what, why to choosing protein

I know that protein is one of the biggest hot topics out there right now. How much to eat? Why to eat it? When to eat it? What is a safe amount? Which sources are the best?

The answers to these questions are vastly different from one person to the next, depending on their body types, what feels good for their body, and how their gut reacts to certain types of protein sources.

This blog is not intended to prescribe any set number of protein, types, cures, healing sources or anything else. This blog is intended to be a source of protein ideas and recipes that work for me in my style of meal prepping for busy weeks.

Studies state for that muscle maintenance, you need 1gram of protein per body pound. If you are striving to get muscle synthesis and increase your muscle mass, you will want more. Studies also show that you will want a wide variety of protein sources in order to obtain all of the essential amino acids and omegas, as well as healthy fat from different sources.

It is also very important to space out your proteins – you cannot eat all of your protein in one meal. Instead, trying to evenly space out your protein throughout the day is optimal. That may look different for everyone. Some may opt to eat 40-50grams of protein three times a day, others may opt to eat 25-30 grams of protein five times a day. It is all dependent on your body, lifestyle, and what feels best for your body.

That’s where it becomes very important to be the expert of your own body, your own gut, your own digestion. It is important to be your own investigator on studying and researching ideas for you. You can always learn how to configure your own protein/macros with my upcoming virtual workshop:

This blog is simply to show what has worked for me over time and how I prepped this past week.

First of all, when I start listing out my meal prep for the week, I list out my breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner. Yes, I eat five times a day often times between teaching classes/clients. That is how my body responds best to meals. I don’t thrive off from huge meals – they make me feel full and uncomfortable. I really thrive off from smaller meals, dense in nutrients, including proteins.

When I start my meal prep list, I really think about getting in several different sources of protein all day long. So this week, I wrote out some of my favorite options:

Cottage cheese, salmon, eggs, lean ground turkey, protein powder, collagen, beef. I know, it sounds like a lot in one day. But variety is the spice to life, and I don’t want to get bored eating chicken and broccoli every darn day of my life.

Breakfast right around 6:30-7am: 2oz of sourdough toast, homemade by me. 4oz cottage cheese and 4oz salmon. 37.5 grams of protein.

I tend to eat that around 6:30am or 7am knowing that I teach a morning client and morning class everyday. I finish my morning classes around 9am and sometimes eat a little again right before my 9:30am class.

9:30am / 10:30am – NInja creami protein packed ice cream. I make five of these pints at one time and pop them in the freezer. I slice one banana and put it into the bottom of the pint. Add one scoop protein powder of choice, one scoop collagen of choice. Then I fill the rest of the pint with water and freeze. Blend it up before going to work. The grams of protein will vary depending on the protein of your choice. Mine add ups to 27.5 grams.

Lunch around 1pm – after I have taught the lunch hour fitness class, I graze a little more. Sometimes I eat only half of this, and eat the second half later. It depends on how strenuous the classes are that I am teaching. And I know, this is definitely a breakfast recipe. But I LOVE breakfast any time of the day. I actually LOVE sausage and eggs, so this recipe satisfies me. Vegetable Egg Bake is 56grams of protein. Recipe is in the second photo:

And then I tend to train more clients or get some stuff done around the gym (for work). Many times, by afternoon time I have taught 3+ classes, and 3+ clients and been on my feet all day. So, some days I opt for a protein recovery shake. I don’t do it everyday, but I do it on the days that I feel like I taught/trained a lot in addition to my own training. I know that a protein recovery shake is very debatable and many of my clients and athletes ask me WHY they’re necessary and WHAT to look for in a recovery shake. Let me talk about that. I believe they are necessary for those that really ask a lot of their body day after day after day, yet expect their body to not break down. Between my very labor intensive job and my own running/biking, I know I ask a lot of my body. I am putting a lot of miles on my body every week, lifting weights, and training others. Yet, I cannot let my body break down. I literally need my body for my job – it is my upmost important piece of equipment to do my job. Thus, I use a recovery shake.

So, for those also asking a lot of their body and expecting to still feel good every day, I suggest one. What to look for in a recovery shake is that it is a complete protein – meaning it contains all of the amino acids that aid in muscle synthesis and muscle recovery between hard efforts. Most recently I have been using Tailwind Recovery Mix, as it is a complete protein. Other great brands include Skratch Recovery and Hammer Recoverite.

3-4pm: recovery protein powder, 10 grams of quality, dense protein. I just mix it in water. Nothing fancy. No need to add in any milks. I feel that mixing it with water allows your body to use and absorb the quality ingredients of the recovery formula best without disruptors of other liquids.

And by that point, dinner time is rolling around. I really strive to get dinner in during the 6:00pm hour. I don’t like to consume any foods past 6:30 or 7pm, as I rely on that 12 hour window of no eating to “digest and rest” by my body. Dinner looks different everyday. Some days, I enjoy a taco salad like the photo below. Other days I grill a chicken breast, or make a burger patty, or do some form of yogurt. But most recently as my running/biking ramp up, I have really craved red meat and Mexican foods. So, this week I have been making a taco salad made up of kale, spinach, arugula, vegetables, tomatoes, salsa and 4oz of red meat. You can do 4oz of any protein of your choice.

6:00pm hour – taco salad dinner, 22 grams of protein.

And that is really how majority of my days are set up. Most days I am getting 150-160 grams of protein, which is the equivalent of 1gram per body pound. The caloric intake of this example day is right around 1800-2000 a day, which would be the recommended amount for the average size women with a moderately active lifestyle.

For more information about protein, calculating your own protein count and manipulating your macros, I invite you to join me in on a one-hour virtual workshop where I will be teaching macros and addressing the most common concerns I get from clients. In this workshop, completely on zoom, I will be teaching you how to calculate your own macros. Message me to enroll.

REVEL ROCKIES – a very meditative marathon!

Let’s start with the disclaimer that I didn’t exactly “train” for this.

I won’t say I was unprepared, or unfocused. I just prepared very differently than I have ever trained before, and I had a totally different approach and focus than previous races.

The last running event I completed was my 50 miler, and soon after went through a rollercoaster of a ride recovery + mini mid life crisis. I told myself I would only do run/bike events this year that brought me JOY and didn’t require brain capacity.  I don’t have it in me to research races, courses, information, lodging, travel and all that. So, when my friends (San Juan Mountain Runners club) signed up for this several months ago, I did NOT sign up.

I told myself this winter that I’d put my time and effort into my business, my clients, doing choreography for my own programs, my marriage, and our hobbies. And I did. I ran and xc-skied all winter for FUN. I invested in nordic skis, upgrades on my road bike, and I joined a yoga studio. Those were all prioritized a little higher than my running. Plus, I focused very hard on my MINDSET this year.  Hello 5-week yoga workshop with Annika having a LASTING effect on my mindset + activities that will not vanish. Seriously. 

Yes, I spent many winter mornings chasing sunrise and logging the running miles. Then I’d come home and teach my fitness classes on zoom, which were a very important component of my cross training. But my mental game approach was so different from every other year. That’s a totally different topic for a different post.

This year, I was happy with every run, every mile, every workout.  And that transferred into my mindset, the voice within my body, the affirmations I speak to myself, thus transferred right into my marathon experience.

Every workout I teach, I have my gals do a body scan, check their toes to temples, trust their feet/legs to know where to land, pull their core in, shoulders relaxed back and down, jaw relaxed, breathe smooth. There’s more to that. I have my gals doing a variety of calf raises, quad curls, hamstring curls, glute exercises, core moves. Without a doubt these components allowed me to TRUST my body and legs to work efficiently for 26.2 miles. No doubt. I’m biased, but my workouts + breathwork + mindset from meditation and yoga earned me a PR this weekend.

I did all of this all winter long until I felt my body was finally ready for an event again. So, I signed up for this full marathon 3 weeks ago after doing my 19 mile run. I very casually tapered by lowering my mileage and doing workouts at a less effort.  

Ok…. so fast forward to this past weekend. 

My dear friend and running mentor Jan is who I had traveled to Las Vegas with last year. So this year she had already run with me a few times. Every time we ran she expressed that I could ride with her, share a room, and just have a chill weekend. Everything was already booked; I just needed to commit and sign up. So, I did. 

Jan and I hit the road right around 9am and made our way over to Golden, Co for the marathon expo. At the expo, I literally couldn’t decide if I wanted the pacing bracelet for running a 4:45 marathon or a 5 hour marathon, so I took the bracelets for both. When we got to our hotel and laid out our gear, I asked Jan if I should just run with the 5 hour bracelet so I didn’t stress over the need to run a 4:45. We both agreed to trash the 5 hour bracelet and I was well capable of the 4:45. 

Gear laid out, mindset ready. Time to sit down with my marathon poster and hand write the affirmations that have lived in my head all year long.

This was like my marathon vision board. I started by writing out affirmations for each chakras: write them, read them, say them, see them, believe them – balance my body. I then continued by simply writing a few other beliefs that I know are true about myself, my abilities, my running. I do this for most of my ultras; it’s my form of journaling what I visualize coming to life. 

Leave our gear, turn off my brain. Leave the room, go get dinner. Stop thinking about the marathon. No need to overthink anything.  We had dinner plans to meet up with the rest of our crew at Olive Garden. I am not usually one to “carb load” before a race. But since I had zero expectations of running hard and zero expectations of “racing” for a PR, I decided to go eat whatever I felt like. I ordered a huge plate of pasta and meat sauce. It was so good.  This is not something I’d usually do, but it worked for me? 

We made it back to our hotel early enough for an 8am bed time and a 3:15am wake up. Usually before a marathon or ultra, I do not sleep. I overthink every step, every mile. I analyze my mile splits to the second. But hey – this time – I slept SOLID 8am-3:15am. Garmin tells me I slept almost 7 hours that night.  Again, I had zero expectations for this run. I had nothing to overthink. 

Most of my morning routines went really well, except that I had zero appetite and zero ability to eat. Woke up, got all my layers on, drank coffee, rode with Scott to the bus, took a shot of my energize (caffeinated preworkout),  took the 75 minute bus ride to the start, used the bathrooms, removed all my layers, got my music ready, did all the things. The only hiccup in this order of events is that I had planned on eating on the bus ride. But I was still so full from the pasta the night before, I couldn’t imagine eating anything more. So, I took my chances and I didn’t eat before a marathon.  I made my way to the start line. 

The slowest pacer this marathon offered is a 4:30. So I started all the way to the back behind the pacing groups. Again, I was happy with a 4:45-5:00.

Ok. Go time. This is where the real good part of the blog starts. 

First of all, I was so unfocused that I didn’t know the marathon started. When we started walking forward and I looked at my watch, it was 6:03am. I asked another gal if we had started. She confirmed, yes, we’re about to walk over the timing mat. Well, shit, I better turn my watch on? Hahahah

I turn my watch on just in time. And, go!  The entire marathon was beautiful and I just kept looking at the clouds coming over the mountains. Stunning. But I never once touched my phone, not for pictures or anything. This was my time, my views, my memories. 

Miles 1-3 weren’t too exciting. I kept watching my time on my watch versus the time on the pacing bracelet. I knew that I needed to start with 10:40s and somewhat maintain that to run a 4:45. But apparently mile 1 I ran a 10:01. I told myself I needed to slow it down a bit, as I would never hold that for 26 miles. I slowed myself a bit for the first 5k, but not by much as I came into that 5k in 31 minutes. 

Apparently that got me excited because then I ran mile 4 in 9:58 – my first sub 10 of the marathon. Again, told myself I had to slow down til the 10k point. I hit the 10k point in 61 minutes – still averaging just over 10 minute miles. 

Okay, pace myself right. MIles 6-13 were very pretty – a combination of mountain views, canyons, and then what felt like country side. Half way point – was on a freaking a highway. I was definitely motivated to make it through that section quickly. I hit the half point in 2:13 – averaging 10:13 minute/miles, so still pacing myself.  

Clearly I was no longer using the bracelet. I knew I was coming in 20-40 second/mile faster than pacing bracelet suggested for a 4:45. By mile 13 I knew I could finish in 4:40 or less. This is where my mindset, mantras, and affirmations come in…. Just wait for it. 

I realized that I still had a full tank of energy and could (fairly easily) pick up the effort and pace. So, I bring in my yoga breath. I breathe intentionally, send the energy through my body, to my legs. No one was really around me, so I open up my yoga hands to the universe ready to receive as much energy as I could. I energetically open my hands and literally out loud speak to myself. Several times, I repeat these affirmations in this order: I can do hard things, I am doing hard things. I can run a 4:30 marathon. I will run a 4:30 marathon, I AM running a 4:30 marathon. I’d say this went on for two miles or so. 

Remember, this is at mile 13. I say these, I pick up the pace. I bring the energy in. Miles 13-19, were all in the 9:15-9:55 minute/mile pace. I couldn’t tell you the last time I ran 7 miles consecutively with a sub 10 pace. But, here we are. 

I took my chances; this could have worked against me and I could have crashed at mile 20. However, it was at mile 19 I caught up to the 4:30 pacer. Remember, I started behind the pacers. 

So, I made the executive decision to run with the pacer. Her name was Rebecca and she was great. I asked her if they were still on track for a 4:30 and she confirmed, yes. I explained to her my situation, my bracelet, and my intentions to run a casual marathon. But what the heck, go for the 4:30. I decided I am going to run with Rebecca from mile 19-24ish and then I’d re-assess. 

Miles 19-24 we paced the miles 10:00-10:30s, but mainly averaged the 10:17 pace which is needed for the 4:30 group. Perfect. It was great, plus we had great conversations. 

Miles 24-26 I just ran on my own at what felt like a do-able pace that far into the game, which oddly enough was a 10:06 pace. 

Shockingly, I come through the finish line in 4:28:16, and realize that my overall average pace was 10:14. To me, this is a fast marathon. Obviously it’s my fastest. But not to worry, there were still 490 people that did it faster. I was middle of the pack with that pace. 

Scott, who had also run the full marathon had already finished, as had our friends who did the half marathon. So, we all meet up, chat, hang out, and then made our way back to the hotel. 

Back track a few details here of the marathon. I mentioned that I skipped breakfast. That was taking my chances. But I was very diligent in using Honeystinger gummies and gels every 30 minutes and at the aid stations they were offered at. I don’t know how how many I used in a total, but quite a few. While running at that pace, I cannot stomach eating real foods like I do in ultras. So, gummies and gels do work for me. Honeystinger is always my brand of preference. I know many many many people cannot do these; it took me years to figure out my nutrition while running.

I also mentioned that I cross trained with my own workouts + yoga this winter. Hands down, no doubt at all – I was well capable of TRUSTING my legs and my ability to run hard because I have very strategically worked every area of my legs and body all winter. My lower body workouts are designed to work hips, glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves, feet, ankles strategically so that there isn’t one area worked more or less than another area. My entire legs to feet are very strong. My full body workouts are designed to work front, back, and side of the core strategically so that all areas are built up for good posture to support sports such as this. I do have a very strong midsection and posture. My upper body workouts are designed to work shoulders, biceps, triceps, down the arms, chest, back, side, front of the core, and everything in between. Yes, I am biased. But THESE workouts are choreographed to support our lives outside the homes, in our hobbies, and sports. No doubt these workouts are the reason I ran a strong PR and earned that time.

The entire weekend was a fabulous experience. I am very grateful I took the winter to just run for JOY and that my friends encouraged me to keep me distance/miles up, and eventually sign up. Thank you San Juan Mountain Runners for your beautiful, contagious energy. Thank you Girls on the Run Western slope for supporting my running and encouraging me to me a Sole Mates Ambassador, and Honeystinger for fueling me.

Happy Summer 2023 Running!

Everything is Grand: Grand Mesa Ultras!

Well, it’s been a hot minute since I completed the Grand Mesas 50 mile endurance run. 15 days out and feeling pretty good over here, looking at the mountain peaks from my couch. 

I cannot say I have gone out for a long run or anything exciting, or even felt the slightest motivation to do so. However, the love and passion for the sport is still there. So, I’d rather write about a good long running day in the mountains rather than get back out there right now. 

As I have shared on social media, a 50 mile race was a big goal of mine for a long time. The previous time I completed 50 miles, it wasn’t a race or competitive in nature at all. It was a 24 hour running event where we ran loops. So, in June I toed the start line of Bears Ears 50 miler with pretty tight, aggressive, competitive in nature cut off times. I did not make the mile 29 cut off, which left me feeling good about my attempt, and proud of choosing to do hard things. I came home and started searching for a different 50 miler, somewhat close to home. When the Grand Mesa Ultras popped up on my social media news feed, it looked like the perfect opportunity. It was exactly a month after Bears Ears; enough time passed to recover and rejuvenate my body and give it another go. 

We headed out to Grand Mesa on a Friday morning so we could camp, have fun, and enjoy the area. My close friend Eli and her kiddos were joining us, so they found us the perfect camp spot at Grand Island Campground – highly recommend camping here. I spent Friday going over and over and over and over my drop bags, cut off times, needed items, what I should, and much more. AKA – falling into panic mode, which Eli verified with me she wasn’t going to give into. Thanks, yo! 

Thank goodness the campsite views were spectacular because I spent most of Friday lounging around in my camp chair. I went to my bed by 7pm that night, and slept by 8pm. My alarm was set and ready for 3:55AM! Here we go! 

3:55am alarm went off and I opened the camper door to frost outside. It was pretty chilly. But I proceed to get myself ready. Time to get started on my to-do list. In case other distance runners are curious, my morning to do list consists of (in this order) coffee, eat my waffles with peanut butter and honey (recipe in my cookbook), drink my energize, change into my running clothes/socks/shoes, put on anti chafe cream, sunscreen, bug spray, take ibuprofen. Get in the car, drive to the start line. 

4:35 arrives and I decide I am going to wake up Eli to see if she wants to ride with us to the start. Not a mandatory part of crewing me, but she said wanted to go. 

4:45am – we arrive at the start line. Right away we found Shannon, chatted, and had a typical race day morning. I had my pack, running poles, headphones, head lamp all ready to go. 

5:00am and we are off. 

Nothing really to report on for the first 5 hours of the race except that it was freaking stunning. In the first hour, the sunrise stole my heart and I knew it was going to be a beautiful day on the mesa. I didn’t take a single picture of the sunrise because at that moment, I told myself this run and this day was for ME. I told myself I didn’t need to capture the views or the scenery to share with anybody else. This day was for me. I spent alllllll summer training for an experience to fill my soul. 

I made it to mile 10 without touching my phone. But then, like the sunrise, Crags Crest and the views stole my heart. Despite the fact that I said I wasn’t going to take photos, I feel like I took a picture and video at every corner and every ridge. I just couldn’t go over the beauty of the alpine terrain and lakes in every direction. The sky was spectacular. 

Miles 10-15 were great. I cruised right down from Crags Crest into the mile 14-15ish aid station, filled my bottles, ate some food and kept on trucking. The highlight of miles 15-19 were seeing Eli and the kiddos hike into me. They were so adorable, cheering, and smiles, and everything I needed.  While I wish I had seen them longer than a minute, I was feeling full of energy so I kept on cruising right into mile 18.5ish aid station. 

Mile 18.5ish aid station, I quickly saw Shannon (who was volunteering) and Josh. Seeing Josh was kind of a surprise because we had agreed if I did this race he would be able to do a long bike ride up on the mesa. We agreed that I may  not see him until mile 42, as he’d be biking all day. He surprised me there by biking from camp, around the mesa, and to the aid station. Apparently the aid station was a dangerous place because he met me there in a helmet and all.  I ate some food, put on a dry shirt, and continued on my way. 

I cruised right through miles 18-27 with no problem. It felt very “flat” which is sometimes harder than a hike uphill or downhill run. But, I felt great. It was just an 8 mile stretch between the two aid stations, and I was able to see my crew at mile 27. 

I arrived at mile 27 aid station dryer than my crew! Turns out, they had run into terrible weather before I did. I didn’t feel hungry or tired, but knew that I needed to eat. Ask me what I ate – I have no idea. Whatever food the aid station was giving me? I think I ate bacon and avocado at that aid station. I am not a picky runner. I know that aid station food is a luxury, not a promise. I think that since I started off as a road runner and ran road marathons for so many years before ultras, anything beyond candies and electrolytes feel gourmet to me in a race. Besides food, the other highlight of that aid station was Eli giving me a mini back rub with Deep Blue muscle rub. My back was incredibly sore. Plus, the kids were amazing cheerleaders. And I told myself I couldn’t cry, whine, complain, or be a pansy in front of the kids. I was committed to being the strong, empowered Heather they know. 🤣 Mile 27 aid station was definitely a “half way-ish” highlight of the day. 

So, turns out, I had made it past the marathon distance and had zero problems thus far. The day was beautiful and I felt energetic and ready to go. Every aid station felt like a new start line, like I was just going out for another run. 

Well, in the mountains, that can all shift very fast. Within the next mile, I may have experienced every change in temperatures and weather patterns possible. From miles 28-30, I went through sun, rain, hail, thunder, lightning, mud, sleet, snow, feeling freezing, to feeling sweaty, to feeling nervous, to feeling motivated to push forward. Yup, just two miles doesn’t feel like a long distance until they are taking 30 minutes a mile and it’s actually a full hour of your race. 

This was the only point of the race where I thought/feared it might be another DNF. This was my first “near crying moment.” It was at mile  28.75 when I hunkered down under trees, trying to check my phone for service. I wanted to see if the hail would pass; it was so absurdly cold, probably because I had sweat so much in the first half of the race that my body was freezing while the rain/sleet was just coming down. I honestly thought race officials would clear the course – which made me so sad. I wasn’t ready to be done. I wasn’t ready to give in or give up on my goals.  I nearly cried thinking it was over. In thinking that, I kept thinking “I am not trying for a 50 a third time. It’s today, or never. 

I know I said it on social media, but I say it again – From that moment I was sitting under the trees, I looked out at the storm and decided the weather was not a storm. I AM THE STORM.  I am stronger than any weather thrown my way (within life safety) and back to my 2022 mantra, I can do anything for a day.

Fast forward then to miles 27-42. This was the longest stretch of the event without any aid station or crew. But it wasn’t bad. I mean, the weather was terrible. But the time on my feet, in my own mind, enjoying the scenery wasn’t bad at all. It was a very desolate area of the mesa with spectacular views for miles and miles beyond the mesa. Considering the horrific weather, I still made pretty good timing on this section. This section took me about 4 hours.

While the weather made me question my abilities, my body still felt great. My legs were working, I was eating, feeling strong physically and mentlaly, and I had the stamina. I didn’t really start to feel uncomfortable in my body until mile 40. At mile 40, I gave myself a pretty good pep talk about how it was just a nice little 10 mile run left and I could do it in 3 hours. I know, 3 hours to move 10 miles sounds slow to some – but when you’re already 40miles in…. 20 minutes/mile on trail is about as do-able as I could get. 

Miles 40-42 went by super fast because I was extremely motivated to get to the aid station, use a real bathroom, and eat solid food. Again, I had no idea what I ate. I know that the very kind gentleman at the aid station filled my flasks with electrolytes, gave me some food, and I went on my way. It was a fast stop….because… 

Well, remember earlier in the blog I said Josh was going to meet me at mile 42. Turns out, I covered the distance pretty well in that previous section of the race. I came into mile 42 aid station 35 minutes faster than I had anticipated. I had told Josh I’d be there around 5pm. I came into the aid station by 4:25, left by 4:30pm. Thus, Josh wasn’t there yet. He felt really bad, but honestly, it was better that I missed him. I know myself. Had he been there, I had wanted to change into dry clothes and dry socks. I also wanted more muscle rub. But, since it was me and the aid station, I cruised on through. 

I left mile 42 by 4:30pm, so I felt pretty confident that I could make it the 8 miles to the finish by 6:30pm – giving me a 13.5 hour finish. My goal was to finish in 14 hours. I thought I could run-hike 15 minute/miles no problem.  But at mile 45 I felt a significant amount of uncomfort in my hips. My run was a shuffle and my hike was a walk!  Plus, it poured down again in this section. I got soaked and chilled to the bone, for the second time of the day. 

I couldn’t tell you a lot about miles 45-50 except that I looked at my phone/watch a lot. I tried to run as much as possible. Once I knew I couldn’t make it by the 6:30pm hour, I made it my goal to come in before 7pm – under my 14 hour goal.  

6:55pm – I told myself I could do anything for a minute, 5 times through. I wanted to be done by 7pm so bad. I could hear the high way and finish line, just couldn’t see it. I knew if I kept “running” I’d get there eventually, hopefully before that 7pm mark.  I came into that finish line at 6:59pm. 13 hours, 59 minutes, and 4 seconds. 

Finish line!! I felt so happy the minute I saw my crew, heard Eli, saw Josh and Shannon. And,I got to run in with Sammy, which was very sweet. I love this child! She’s going to run a race with me someday. ❤️🏃‍♀️🤣  Eli, Shannon, and Josh were at the finish filming, cheering, taking pics, ready to feed me. And the only thing I could mutter out of my mouth was, “fuck.”  I knew I was going to cry – emotional tears – but I am too shy to cry in front of people and in front of the kids. So, instead of crying – I could only say “fuck.” I couldn’t get a sentence out because I felt so emotional and teary. 

The accomplishment of running 50 miles was not just a 14 hour accomplishment. I actually started marathon training on January 1st. I ran a marathon on April 2nd. From April 2nd until July, I was so focused on the 50k and 50 mile distance. There isn’t a single day that I didn’t SOMETHING to prepare. Whether running, biking, cross training, meal prep, laundry, meditating, visualizing – there isn’t a day that goes by that I didn’t at least think about this huge goal. It’s not just a 14 hour accomplishment. This was 7 months in the making. This was dedication, commitment, prioritizing priorities, and consistently working towards being the athlete I want to be. 

There were only nine of us women that finished the event that day. I am not sure how many started, but only nine of us finished. I was the final female to cross the finish line that day. And for a second, that stung a little. But over time, I have learned and accepted that it is okay. Somebody has to be last. But I’ll be damned if I didn’t put my all into every minute of that 14 hour adventure. First, last, or anywhere in between, we all covered the same distance with extreme efforts. And that, my friends, is something to be proud of and still makes me a little emotional. 

The recovery process has been long and emotionally painful. I don’t know and cannot even fathom how other athletes complete a race so incredibly fast and then don’t feel the soreness and fatigue. I cannot even explain the mental fatigue of this event. I feel like for 7 months straight my body has been “on” for training, preparing, food prep, laundry and just go go go for seven months straight. Now that the dust has settled, my brain is taxed and the fatigue and possibly burn out is there. I cannot deny that, won’t deny, and won’t hide that. 

I have no regrets; I am glad I did it. The experience was phenomenal and I learned so much about myself in the seven month process. But, giving your body the grace and patience after such an event is difficult. 

And, if you follow my social media, you’ve already seen my re-cap post about how I have reflected and what’s up next. But, in case you haven’t – 

A 50 miler is a great experience, but it’s most likely that I would not do it again. Just the top 5 reasons of why these day long distances are not on my radar right now: 

1. Training for anything over a 50k distance is very time consuming, and this goal took over my life. It was very taxing on my marriage – not in a terrible way. But absolutely it was a struggle for Josh and I to train for huge events simultaneously.  It took a toll on our communication,our household tasks,our weekends. Yes, we both come out of this summer stronger, but it’s not something I wish to repeat.

2. It took too much time away from my business goals. I’m serious about building my business and clientele.  I need the brain power, body strength, and time to do so.

3. My business depends on my body. Training, racing,and recovering makes it hard to teach fitness efficiently.  If my body breaks, I lose my business.

4. I’d like to focus on cycling events Josh and I can do together. (Send any suggestions.)

5. I like the 50k (not 50miler) distance. I can train for a 50k event without it consuming my life. And I can run a 50k race without needing a full crew or taking up an entire weekend.

Again, glad I did it. Proud it’s done. But to answer the question of what’s next – cycling events, marathons, 50k distance,trail running.

Sugar, Spice, and Everything Nice

What do you want your food to taste like?

Sugar Free, Gluten Free, Waffles – flavored with bananas, peanut butter, and nuts!

While this blog is intended to address sugar + sugar substitutes, the main question I want to address first is “What do you want your food to taste like?”

There are so many things right from this earth – whether plant or animal based- that your food could taste like. Do you want your steak to taste like beef, or like bbq? Do you want your poultry to taste like chicken or more flavorful like curry? Do you want your stack of breakfast pancakes and waffles to taste like pancakes and waffles, or do you want them to taste like straight sweet sugars? Do you want your cookies to taste like a dessert with decadent flavors or taste like straight, ultra sweetened sugars?

Whether a full meal that been marinating for days, or snacks to fill your appetite, or desserts served at a party, I want you to really think about the question What do you want your foods to taste like? smell like? look like?

Making salad taste like lemon, garlic, onion, and dill without any sugars or dressings.

When you sit down to write out your meals, your snacks, you dishes to pass, and/or your baked goods you are preparing, really think about that question: what do you want it to taste like? How can you make it taste like that? Let’s talk about it by categories. Don’t worry, we will get to the idea of baking and using sugars.

But first, let’s talk meals. Salads, sides, soups, marinades, proteins and more. If you’ve ever seen my cooking with the coach video on how to make dips, dressing, marinades and more – you know I can help you make your food taste like anything. With the right oils + vinegars + spices, you can make your food concoctions taste like anything at all.

Making dressings, marinades, sauces, spices, flavorings in my house hold always looks like a science lab of mixed-concoctions, or a cocktail bar gone wrong – whichever way you see it. I usually start by just mixing until things taste good. I don’t always have a recipe. I don’t always have reason or rhyme to my mad scientist mood in the kitchen. Vinegars. mustards, liquid aminos, lemon/lime are all healthy on our gut so adding them to your salads, poultry, meats, won’t add bloat or inflammation to your body.

For example, for a sweet, yet spicy dressing you can easily use olive oil + lemon/lime juice + apple cider vinegar + a hot spice such as cayenne. For a more balsamic like taste you can simply use an oil base + balsamic vinegar + lemon/lime + cracked peppers/spices of your choice. You really do NOT need to add real or fake sugars to your dressings to taste good. Bottled dressings in the store add it for that very “addictive” behavior selling point.

Should your meal taste like curry – use curry. Should it taste like Italian dishes – use oregano, Italian seasoning, garlic. Should it taste spicy – use spice of your choice. Should your sloppy joes taste like a tomato base – use tomato products. Should your ketchup taste more like tomatoes and vinegar than sugar? Use tomatoes and vinegar. Overall, the question remains: does the food really need sugar to taste like what YOU want it to taste like?

Dish to pass with a homemade dijon dressing to make the salad taste amazing!

Even if your bottles of dressing labels indicate gluten free, non-GMO, organic cane sugars, they are still sugars. Our bodies do not need sugars in every dressing and marinade out there. If you want your salads and proteins to taste a specific way, there are always options to either purchase sugar free dressings and/or make them homemade. My absolute favorite is a honey or dijon dressing, but I have many more. You can always find my recipes in my book or my cooking with the coach series featured in my wellness workshops.

So, when planning and making your next dish to pass, really think about what you want it to taste like and go for that flavor. Don’t kill the flavor with sugar. It’s not an absolute need.

Let’s move onto sweets and baking!

This was a dish to pass at a Christmas Themed Apres-Ski Stretch class. Made completely out of nuts and coconut, it’s all the flavor with none of the sugars.

Let’s talk about snacks and baking. When it comes to snacks, baking, or just craving sweets, my first suggestion will always be to think back to the question of what you are craving and what you want it to taste like? Like, are you craving sugar or craving chocolate? Are you craving sugar or are you craving something peanut-butter flavor? Are you craving an oatmeal cookie with raisins, or craving the sugars in that cookie?

Then, you move onto the question of how can you satisfy that craving without the actual sugar? How can sweeten things with natural sugar options? Let’s start a small list:

Craving Chocolate: cacao powder or cacao nibs
Craving Sugary Peanut Butter such as reeses: natural nut butters without sugars
Craving Cookies: creating a recipe with oat flour, oats, cacao nibs, nuts are a great option! Lots of sugar free cookies, energy bites, and muffins recipes in my book and nutrition plan!

This “Energy Bite” recipe alone has chocolate, peanut butter, nuts, and can easily have dried fruits/dates to satisfy cravings of all sorts.

Moving onto other ways of satisfying the sweet tooth naturally. Natural sugar options would include, but not limited to using bananas, apples or applesauce, fruit purees, seeds, nuts, raisins or other ideas. Natural, but significantly more dense calorie options would include honey, agave, molasses, or maple syrup. These ones are very dense in natural sugars, so a little bit will go a long way. Other sweetener options, but also very calorie dense would be dried fruits (unsweetened, not sugar coated) or dates. Again, they are dried, dehydrated sugars, thus still very dense in sugar calories. A little bit will go a long way. All of these options would add a touch healthy, natural sugar sweetness to what you are baking. They can easily substitute/replace white or brown sugars.

Also while baking and/or making sweets – if you come back to the question “What do you want it to taste like?” If you are aiming for specific flavors like chocolate or peanut butter, you actually don’t need sugar replacements at all. For your chocolate cravings, cacao or cacao nibs works wonders. Straight peanuts or peanut butter without added sugars is a very healthy fat and absolutely okay to bake with.

But then the question remains – “how much of these replacements do I use?” That’s a great concern. In one of the chapters of my cookbook, I talk about how when I actually cook solo, I don’t measure anything. I do what I call “measure with my heart.”

For Josh’s birthday, I made him chocolate chip cookies with very little sugar. And, I made myself gluten free, sugar free, chocolate chip cookies. The recipe called for 1 cup of white sugar, 1 cup brown sugar. Wetook2 cup of white sugar. I literally took the sugar content down to 25% of what it called for. How much sweeteners you need to add depends on what you want it to taste like.

To be honest, when it comes down to using sugar or sugar replacements in baking, the sugar isn’t actually serving any specific purpose. I mean, when you think about baking soda, baking powder, yeast, self rising flours – these have purpose. You really cannot mess with those measurements or your baking items may not rise or settle correctly. But sugar: what’s it’s purpose in the baking? Taste, that’s it. And, back to our original question – what do you want it to taste like?

How sweet, how sour, how spicy you want something to taste answers the question of how much or how little of the replacement sugar item you should use. You can use sugar substitutes exactly as the amount originally suggested, or you can scale it back to meet the sweetness you want.

Let’s take the oatmeal muffins from my cookbook for example. The oats and the eggs are the main ingredients that make it bake. How much banana, fruit, nuts, flavorings you use is dependent on what you want it to taste like.

So, when it comes to sugar, spice and everything nice – you are chef. You get to decide what you’re adding, when you’re adding it, and how much or how little. You can decide if you want to eliminate it all together. Try eliminating it. You may find that your cookies taste even more decadent like the flavors you are striving for. You may find that your creamy chicken salads really taste like good chicken instead of processed items.

If you’ve read this far and have any questions about sugar, recipes, what to eat, how to eat, I’d LOVE to help you. Follow along with many other of my food concoctions and #Saladaday posts on my social media.

Managing Your Metabolic Rate & Weight Loss

If you look at these words “metabolic rate” and you wonder what that means, you’ve arrived to the right place. And, please, by all means, don’t feel like metabolic rate is strictly related to weight loss. Weight loss, weight gain, or weight maintenance – or no concerns to your weight at all – we should all be a tad bit familiar with how metabolic rate impacts our body and our energy levels.

But hey, maybe weight and calories mean nothing to you or you’re not wanting to be too obsessive about them. That’s okay! Let’s just talk about energy we take in, how well we burn it, and what’s left over.

Metabolic Rate is the rate in which your body burns calories. Some people have a very fast metabolic rate (metabolism), while others have a slower rate of burning. Some people fall in between and can maintain weight really easily. An individual with lower metabolic rate probably gains weight easily, while one with higher metabolic rate struggles to maintain weight. Both situations can become frustrating and dangerous.

Majority of my followers/readers come to me in search of help to manage their weight in a weight loss sense. Thus, majority of this blog addresses the manners in which we can IMPROVE our metabolic rate in order to achieve the weight we are striving for or manage the weight in which we are currently at.

If you are feeling “Stuck” with poor or slower metabolic rate, we’re going to talk about the various ways in which you can improve your metabolic rate. Later in this blog we will address the components of weight loss. Keep reading.

How can you improve your metabolic rate in five steps:

  1. Become educated on what metabolism is and YOUR BODY
  2. Know that your metabolic rate involves your ENTIRE body: brain, breathe, organs, muscle fibers, fat cells. You have to be willing to work your brain, practice breathing techniques, have healthy functions organs (liver, kidneys, gut, intestines, digestive system), strive for muscle gains, and work towards eliminating fat.
  3. Understand the three main ways to BURN calories: basic life functioning, breaking down food, and physical activity.
  4. Apply the strategies listed in the weight loss lists and chart below.

Let’s chat about the rumor that our metabolism slows down as we age. For women specifically, we hear that our metabolism slows down after kids, during/after menopause, and as we age. Is this true? Sure, it is true. There are a few things can slow our metabolic rate. But, let’s be stronger than these obstacles. Let’s learn about these obstacles and overcome them.

Top there components that slow your metabolic rate:

  1. Inactivity – your resistance to exercise, your hesitation to move your body, your excuses of “why” you cannot even go out walking slows your metabolic rate. But you can overcoming this obstacle by getting up and MOVE your body. Every. Darn. Day.
  2. Poor Nutrition Choices – choosing crash diets, skipping meals, or cutting out a certain macro will slow your metabolism. Because your metabolic rate involve the brain, muscles, organs, and fat cells – you do need all three macro components. You need the correct meals each day. Cutting these out slows the metabolism and halts your metabolic rate.
  3. Inconsistency – choosing to only apply these strategies a few days a week isn’t enough. You need consistency EVERY DAY for SEVERAL days/weeks/months in a row. Once you find a program or coach that does work for you, you probably need to stick to this for 18+ months in order to keep that consistency and maintain a healthy metabolic rate for the long haul.

Where does weight loss come into play?

Being that metabolic rate is relevant to how you burn the calories you eat, that plays a huge role in weight loss. Everyone will tell you that weight loss is “easy” and “just a calorie deficit” and “eat less.” Absolute myth. Not true. Weight loss is so much more than eating in a calorie deficit.

The list above is also show in a pie chart below. These are the 8 components; these are the 8 pieces of the pie that I believe are the most crucial to weight loss. Without one, you cannot complete the pie. You really do need to work towards all 8 pieces for optimal success.

In the list above, and in the pie chart I have given them a number order of what I believe to be the most crucial, to the lesser of importance.

Let’s talk about these.

#1 Relationship with Yourself + Self Belief – if you believe you can achieve the body/weight/look/health you want, you absolutely can do it. But you must first believe, see, visualize, and then DO. This takes a solid relationship with yourself and healthy dose of self belief.

#2 Sleep – This is where we lack the most organization and value to our weight loss journey. But remember back to metabolic rate where I said our internal organs and digestive systems has a play. We need to give our internal time to recover, and regenerate before expecting to work all day. Without sleep, our body cannot even work enough to have a high metabolic rate in order to burn calories. So, give your body the rest it deserves and it will work for you during the day.

#3 Hydration – again, brain, breath, organs, muscle fibers – they cannot work properly and in a correct metabolic rate without water. Drink your water.

#4 Nutrition – this goes without saying and explaining. And, if you’re confused about nutrition, we really need to chat about the Nail Down Your Nutrition Program + Coaching.

#5 Physical Activity – exercise not only burns calories during the minutes in which you are you moving, but keeps your heart and blood system working throughout the day for higher calorie burn. For weight management, 30 minutes a day will be sufficient. For weight loss, 60 minutes a day is ideal. Not sure where to start with the activity, let’s chat about my Actively Ageless program for workouts all all abilities.

#6 Behaviors: Affirmations, Tracking, Portion, Discipline – This in itself could be an entire blog. But, your behaviors play a part. Behaviors are how you speak to yourself, how you track your foods, how you portion your macros, your discipline to stick to a workout calendar, your discipline to follow a nutrition plan. Behaviors also include giving up some indulgences such as alcohols, breads, sweets, pastries and so much more. Behaviors also include your consistency that we mentioned above.

#7 Community – You absolutely can achieve goals by yourself. But statistics and experiences demonstrate that the ladies in virtual or in person communities are more like to DO + Follow through with what they talk about. Without a community, it is easy to just talk talk talk. But, once you say it to someone in a community (our virtual facebook groups), you will do + follow through.

#8 Effort – If you have ever taken one of my spin or cardio classes, you hear me talk about effort levels in percentages, but also in score 1-10. I always ask for a 7, 8, 9, or 10. If you are really really really dedicated to your weight loss, I am asking for a level 10 effort – all in. To become all in, I highly suggest printing this blog. Having the list / pie chart in a visible place. Highlight these top 8 components of weight loss and bring them to life.


What it means to eat your macro and micro nutrients?

What are Macros? What does this word mean to me?

Macros is the short term for the word Macronutrients. Macronutrients are essentially the food you eat – or at least the building blocks of the food you eat. There are three categories of Macronutrients. The three categories are carbs, protein, fats. These three categories are the building blocks that make up the food you eat. Let’s think about a meal for example: Pizza. Pizza mainly consists of crust, sauce, cheese, meat, veggies, toppings. Together, let’s categorize each ingredient.

In various meals, of all kinds you consume these building blocks of macronutrients in different portions, different ratios. Some days you consume meals that are 100% carbs. Think beans and rice. Some days you consume meals that are entirely protein. Think eggs, bacon, and sausage. Some days, you eat a full tray of fats. Think nuts, cheese, olives.

How you pair and portion these building blocks of macros is what determines how your body reacts, how your body absorbs, how your body uses these calories.

Do you need all three categories of macronutrients and why?

Carbohydrates are the building blocks of energy and the fuel source in which you live off from. You need energy, you need fuel just to survive at the bare minimum. You need healthy, clean fuel to live in a full feel-of-energy lifestyle without fatigue. Choose your carbs carefully.

Protein is building blocks of repair. Various forms of protein provides the amino acids to be the repair system of your muscles. Not only does protein repair your muscles after a hard day of work, they also help build and develop your muscles. And, for as long as you have a spine, a skeletal system, and joints you need muscles to keep these in place. It’s not like building muscles like body building, it’s like building muscles for everyday living for the strength and stamina to keep going.

Fats are your building blocks of protections. They are your protector for your bones, joints, ligaments. Think of fats as you are “oiling up your system” for smooth movement, smooth connections.

So, then, what are Micronutrients?

When taking in macros, you are naturally taking in even smaller building blocks of your essential needs: Micronutrients. Micronutrients are the teeny tiny building blocks that make up macronutrients. They have two categories: vitamins & minerals. If you focus on your macros, you will naturally take in micro nutrients that your body needs to survive with the best energy and stamina. Having your macros & micro nutrients in line is what will help you live life to your fullest, while avoiding the pain, aches, fatigue, headaches, and ailments that sometimes can dominate our days. You will naturally take in majority of the vitamin and minerals that your body needs through foods. Think iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, phytonutrients and so much more that you find in plant-based foods and lean meats.

For the Macro Nutrients, how much of each category should I consume?

Now that you know you should be eating macro nutrients from each category, knowing how much, and when to consume each one is the hardest part. First of all, your portions/percentages/ratios are a RANGE. It is not written in stone. Each body, each person, each lifestyle is different so your specifics will be a little bit different. I will talk about the RANGE of what is healthy. Just know that it is a range, and +/- 5-10% is okay.

Percentages – Carbs: 40% Protein: 30% Fats: 30% Serving Sizes – Carbs: 1/2 cup Protein: 3/4 cup or 4-6 ounces Fats: 1tsp of an oil, or 1/4 cup of the actual food

How do you measure your food?

You measure/weigh the food in the form it enters your body. Rice/oats/quinoa/meat = measure it cooked. Steaming or sautéing, measure it in the form it is entering the body.

How can you log these serving sizes and percentages?

I highly suggest my fitness pal. But you need to go in and change your settings for YOU and your lifestyle and level of activity.

What do you suggest for the best, highest quality foods to get these macro and micro nutrients?

The quality of your macros matters. The quality of your food matters. Crap macros will not get you your micros (oreos = carbs, but no micro nutrients in them.) Stray away from processed macros. The cleaner, the leaner, the closer to the source of the food, the better.

Carbs: Potato family, sweet potatoes, yams, Beans, Lentils, Chickpeas, Grains come last – oats, quinoa, barley, rice

Protein: High quality meats, Sea Food, Fish, Eggs, Yogurt, Tofu, Tempeh, Vegan Protein Powders

Fat: 2 kinds – oil based, food based. Plant based oils such as coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, sesame oil. Seeds, Nuts, Cheese, Olives. Nut butters.

Fruits/Veggies: eat them. They fall into carbs. Case by case, person to person. They get complicated. There is a such thing as a “too much of a good thing”

As close to the source as you possibly. Let’s think about this and look at examples. Oats versus oat meal bars, oats versus granola, oats versus sugary packet of oats. Rice versus rice cakes. Regular eggs versus powdered eggs. Meat versus dried frozen meats. Chicken versus chicken nuggets. Saying no to boxed/bag foods. Stray away from the aisles. Stray away from things that have been processed in multiple steps.

What happens when you get so far off the percentages?

You can, and will overwork areas of your body. You’ve all had those days where you eat rice, potatoes, toast, bread, and dessert and later feel that gut of food. Too many carbs will clog the digestive system. You may have also had a day where you’ve had a ton of greasy bacon, cheese, avocado, seeds, nuts, and oily foods. That could get a little slippery on the inside of your gut and intestines right down to digestive system. Or, let’s talk about the high protein, high fat days – your kidneys, liver, and bladder may burn. You may smell yourself. That is overtaxing the organs. That is why it is just better to be on point with your portions, ratios, percentages. When you’re on point with these percentages – your body will naturally feel better, your digestive system, your energy, your urinal tract – everything. You’re going to feel CLEANER from the inside out – in your intestines, being regular, feeling clear and clean in your hair skin, nails.

Meal Examples: for more information about macro-based meals and how to prep them, be sure you do check out the information, recipes, and recordings of Heather’s MEAL PREP PARTY for a full video of prepping 60+ meals in 90 minutes.

Breakfast: carbs/protein/fat – burritos, beans/eggs bowls, oats & eggs, overnight oats, yogurt & oats

Lunch: carbs/protein/fat – quinoa bowl salad, chicken salad with rice, beef and quinoa bowl, burrito bowls

Dinner: protein/fat, carbs come from veggies: Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai, Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Snacks: deli meat + veggies, yogurt + fruit, protein shakes + fruit

Grocery Shopping: not your ideal choice of retail therapy!

When it comes to grocery shopping, it can be one of the most daunting tasks of your week.

Whether you are shopping for yourself or an entire family,  it is hard to know how much or how little ingredients to purchase. It is hard to know if you should purchase meals already made that you know your family members will eat, or if you should purchase the ingredients to meal prep your own meals. Even worse, is that it is extremely difficult to stay on budget, yet still make good, healthy choices. 

Speaking of healthy choices and budget, I talk more about that here in an entire video about shopping on budget. I know it can be really hard to know what members of your family are willing to try and not willing to try. Finding recipes and finding ingredients that fit into your macros, yet fit into family needs can be a challenging task. But truly does it really have to be that way?? Do we really need to have all different kinds of exotic ingredients in our pantries to eat a healthy lifestyle? Do we need these very expensive non-gmo, dairy free, gluten free, sugar free, soy free ingredients to be considered a healthy pantry? Do we need these beautifully labeled highly manufactured foods/items to stay within our portions for our macro and micro nutrition?

The short answer is no. No, you don’t need anything fancy and expensive. You do not need to search every market in the industry for some crazy exotic ingredient you’ve never heard of and that you know your family wouldn’t even look at. You don’t need all the fancy factory produced items to build a healthy meal plan and create beautiful recipes.

Easy grocery store choices: cucumber, onion, tomato. Simple ingredients – beautiful meal.

The long answer really is, just eat real foods as close to the real sources as you can. You can create a lengthy grocery list of fruits, veggies, and meats, keeping you as close to the real food without needing to walk every aisle of the store looking for an ingredient you’ve never heard of. Your family and kiddos love apples and bananas? Sweet, buy a bunch – feed them, feed you. Your family and kiddos love chicken nuggets? Sweet, buy a bunch of chicken and make you both some healthy chicken nuggets. Your family and kiddos love chocolate milk? Sweet, choose the healthiest option you can.  Your kiddos are currently loving yogurts and go-gurts? Sweet, you get to have yogurts, too.  Your versions of the food items may not look the exact same as your kiddos and grandkids, but dang, it can get pretty darn close. 

When you create your shopping lists, there’s really no “wrong” way to structure your lists and needs. You can build your grocery list in order of the store, types of foods, categories of your macros, or based on your meal plan for the week. Or, you can shop sales first and go from there. There are so many correct, successful ways to build your grocery list. But the main, most important point I am trying to make here for you is to build your list as lengthy as you can of real foods: fruits, veggies, plant-based items, lean proteins, healthy dairy options.  Stick to the perimeters of the store in order to find your fruits and veggies in the produce areas, meats/cheeses in the deli areas, dairy/yogurt/tofu options in the cooler area and so forth. Avoid the aisles and inside of the store as much as you can.

Furthermore, if you’re currently into macro-based foods as I teach you in our nutrition program, you’re going to love the grocery list I have created for you and structured around macronutrients that your body needs on a daily basis. If you need ideas of where the ingredients fall into your macros, as well as where they fall into the grocery store shopping experience, you’ll want to download this macro-based, budget-based grocery list. (PDF below) Spoiler alert: it’s already real foods that even your family and kiddos may eat. 🙂 

A list like this one goes hand in hand with recipes on my meal plans, meal prep party, and cookbook. Nothing too fancy, nothing crazy expensive. The items on this list are super basic on paper, and maybe even sound boring in written form. But, with recipes like shown on my blog, on my social media, or in my book, these items become beautiful meals, made out of love in the kitchen.  Speaking of in the kitchen, we should actually cook together and I can help you decide what you need at the store and how to use it. Be sure to think about the Meal Prep Party I am hosting on February 12th.

If you do look at the grocery list/template above and you aren’t sure what meals you can even create, be sure to enroll in the Meal Prep Party this February put on by Heather Rose Health and Wellness and learn exactly how to turn items into full on meals.  Follow along with Heather’s Meal plans and cookbook to see that really, the recipes are basic of basic. Simple ingredients for amazing taste!


Just a week was the start of a brand new year, and we of course welcome 2022 with open arms. At the start of this new year, I was on a New Years Retreat zoom call with some of my favorite women. We were having conversations about goals, resolutions, re-starts and so many other things of similar nature.

And it dawned on me that just a small four letter word was really overwhelming for some people. GOAL. I am not talking about your typical new year’s resolution. I don’t do resolutions. I don’t push my friends, family, followers, or clients to do resolutions. However, I do like goals. I like goal-setting. I like goal mapping and goal planning. I enjoy planning out my own goals, as well as helping others. And, a new year right after a busy holiday season seems to be the perfect time to set and write-out goals. Notice, I said AND write-out goals. Because setting goals is just a dream until you sit down to focus, write, and follow through.

A worksheet to help plan out and navigate your goals.

But yes, setting a GOAL is overwhelming. Should we set multiple? Should we focus on family goals? career goals? business goals? friendship goals? Self-care goals? Or, should we fall into the path of most of our country at the new year and focus on health goals?

It’s hard to think about. It’s difficult to determine. It’s overwhelming to decide. I hear ya.

In case you do relate to any of these above questions and challenging concepts, I do want to share the zoom call recording (video below) I did with my clients/friends in helping them set up goals. In our zoom, we started with a worksheet that led us through discussions (see photo of my worksheet above) of what we enjoy, who we enjoy, what we do for work, for fun, for enjoyment, for others, and for ourselves. We focused on our mindset towards these parts of our lives; are we happy and content with those categories or are we ready to move forward with bigger commitments and goals. Once we determined our mindset, we talked about gratitude and affirmations.

While reading just a short blog on goals may not feel like the most inspiring thing ever, having the video + worksheet may be a tool to keep in your back pocket. Watching this video may help you determine some small goals for 2022. I’d love for you to take a watch of this video below and use the blank worksheet attached.

If you made it this far and past the worksheet + video, thank you so much. Thanks for being here on this journey. If at any point you need help with your goals, focus, follow through – let’s chat.

And, to end with some fun and never leave you hanging, I’d LOVE to share my 2022 goals. As I said, goals can be set in categories. I usually do exactly that.

Marriage goal: just live daily in each other’s company. Bike, hike, and complete the Michigan Dalmac together this year – Josh as the cyclist, Heather as the lead crew guide. You can read about our experience doing this last year here.

Business goal: grow my business by 10% each quarter of the year, by doing what I love, sharing the fitness and foods that bring myself and my clients happiness and health. And, if you do ever want to join in on that fun, we invite you.

Running goals: to complete the Las Vegas Mt. Charleston Marathon in April, to complete the Bears Ears Ultra 50-miler SOLO in June, to complete the NeverSummer 100k in July.

Mantras: I can do anything for a day. Whether a tough day of work, teaching classes, talking with clients or a tough training day of 8+ running in the mountains, I can and I will do anything for a day.

Miles of Matrimony: a season of riding

And… Training for our first century ride & beyond – TOGETHER!

When I got married and my friends put on my bridal shower, they gave Josh and I a questionnaire to complete for a trivia game. One of the questions was “What was your first date?”  Josh answered that our first date was meeting at Horsefly and going hiking at Curecanti Canyon the next day. Wrong answer. 

The day you randomly meet and go hiking is not a date. Regardless of what the answer is, the truth of the matter is that I really only got into physical activity and outdoor adventures because I met Josh.  Right there, from day one, he was taking me outdoors for all kinds of hiking and biking adventures.

I met Josh in 2012 – in a bar nonetheless – because I was a drinker and he was Mr. Colorado Outdoorsman. From the day we met, I knew I had to fake til I make it in the world of hiking, biking, and all other outdoor fun. He had a passion for backpacking, mountain biking, and motorcycling. If I had any chance at all in making that relationship work, I had to learn and adapt! Biking, included. 

That first summer we were dating, Josh bought me my introductory mountain bike and helmet off discount days from the REI Outlet site. On our first ride to Ridgway Reservoir, I threw my bike off the trail into the reservoir. If we could survive the trail side temper tantrum, for sure we could survive a summer of road biking and training for our first Century Ride together, right? 

Our First Century Ride! 100 miles Naturita to Gateway Canyon and back!

Absolutely! So anyways. It’s been a solid 8 years and a few different bikes since that initial bike ride. To say that biking together had been my least favorite hobby, is an understatement. For years, I shared that I liked it better when Josh biked with me while I ran/trained for my ultras. It was such a great bonding time, outdoors, together. And, I didn’t have to bike. WIN WIN. 

Fast forward to 2021. In a very roundabout weird strange way, we both got into road biking. Prior to 2021, we only had mountain bikes. But as our circle of friends shifted over the years, and so many of my friends were road bikers, I decided to purchase a roadie and sign up for the Michigan Dalmac. You’ve all seen that blog. 

While training for the Dalmac, Josh got really interested in road riding and training with me. We decided that for our 5th anniversary in July, we’d purchase him a really nice road bike from a friend. It’s the mutual gift that keeps on giving and we’d have plenty of “Miles of Matrimony” ahead of us riding together. From our anniversary in July to the Dalmac ride in September, we biked together hundreds of miles, tons of hours. We carted our camper with the bike rack all over the states of Colorado and Utah in order to enjoy roads and sceneries of all kinds. 

And though people have asked what the real details are and if we ever fought about it, I don’t think we actually did?! On the contrary, mid-August we sat down at a computer together and started researching the Mountains to Deserts Century ride. After emailing the race director and getting details, we decided a century ride together was exactly what we wanted to end the summer of riding with. 

Mile 80 of our first century ride.

We signed up one night, and the next night decided we needed to go on a ride together to practice riding down the Keystone section of Highway 145 (if you know, you  know that highway.) We have a messed up version of celebrating things. 

So, the week of the Dalmac arrived and all went well. While I rode hundreds of miles, Josh still logged well over 100 miles that week just riding out towards me on the course and riding alongside me for various sections of that route. He managed to ride really well, yet still took care of my needy self and all my whining for 5 days. Again, I don’t think we really ever had any arguments or disagreements. It was just a lot of hours of being on the bike, and another ton of hours being tired/hungry. Somehow, we manage our riding and our relationship pretty well. 

Between the Dalmac and our century ride was exactly 20 days. So, just less than 3 weeks for me to recover/taper all in one and time for Josh to get one last long ride in. He did his final training ride of 63 miles totally solo, on his own. While we did most of our training together, I think he really enjoyed that time out on the road in the SPEED by himself. Without me there to slow him down, that was probably the fastest 63 miles of his life. 

8 days prior to our Mountains to Desert Century ride, the event was cancelled due to unfortunate circumstances with COVID, staffing, people, and other needs that couldn’t be met. While we could have easily decided not to do it, we made arrangements to take on 100 miles from the Mountains to the Desert. We booked camping at CampV in Naturita and biked from there to Gateway Canyons Resort Coffee Shop in Gateway. 

Like all summer long, we carted the camper and our bikes out to Naturita. We spent the evening before getting the bikes prepped and ready. We filled our water bottles and packed enough food to do the full 100 miles solo, self supported. 

Day of: 

On the day of our century ride, we left at 7:15am – a very cold chilly morning in the canyons. It was so cold that we rode FAST. In the first 50 miles, we only stopped one time. We made it 50 miles to Gateway in 3 hours, 18 minutes. Coming back was a totally different story. It was hot, and mostly uphill back to CampV. 

It’s normal that Josh rides way ahead of me and occasionally waits.

And, since y’all ask for the real deal on how we ride together – this is the answer of where we ride apart. From miles 50-80ish we didn’t ride together a whole lot. And, if we did, it was pretty quiet.  Between it being hot, managing water, and just overall fatigue, we both struggled but at different times. While I was doing okay on the uphills, Josh was tired and his feet hurt. While he can haul on the downhills, my upper body was struggling. We did stop together at mile 80, where Josh declared he was “Low on attitude.”  Thanks dude, thanks for recognizing that you’re hangry, hot, and tired all in one. 

Mile 80 blessed us with a surprise aid station though. Even though the race was canceled, many people were still riding the course. So the race director organized for her and a couple others to be out there with water, lemonade and snacks. We refilled on water, food, and energy from seeing them. Off we went. 

Miles 80-100 weren’t all that great. It was in these miles we just wanted to be back to camp and probably felt annoyed with each other. While we enjoy riding together, 7.5 hours is a long time. Though, we still didn’t argue or disagree on anything. 

Our self-made finishers awards!

We finished up our hundred miles, had dinner at our camp, and enjoyed a bottle of wine. It wasn’t your traditional “end of the race” setting. There wasn’t a finish line or spectators, but it was quaint and cute for us. My mom had made us these super cute Cycopath Biking shirts and I had gotten some dollar store toy “medal” with some superhero decor. It was our own celebration of victory and accomplishment, and we fully enjoyed it. 

We weren’t there to just wrap up at 7 hour, 100 mile riding day. This was literally a summer in the making, possibly even years since that first bike temper tantrum at the Ridgway Reservoir. 

It’s been several weeks since our century ride, but you know it hasn’t stopped there. Being that we (surprisingly to some) still like each other and still enjoy our bikes, we’ve still carted our camper and bikes around the last few weekends. A few weeks back, we biked 70+ miles around Grand Junction, Palisade, and the Monument area. And couple weeks ago we biked 60+ miles around Canyonlands and Deadhorse Point. Just this past weekend, we covered 50ish miles in the Durango/Mancos areas. The adventures and views are endless. 

Since purchasing Josh’s bike in July, we have biked over 1,000 miles (1,200 miles for me total, not sure how many for Josh). Majority of our miles have been riding together. But even if not riding together, we have been the best crewing/supporting team for each other. Whether doing each other’s laundry, having meals ready before or after riding, or packing each others bike packs, we mostly share the biking tasks. And, by sharing I mean, he probably does 70% of the leg work, me 30%. I will absolutely be the first to admit I am the weaker link when it comes to the actual bikes. Josh is the mechanic who cares for the cleaning, tires, chains, and everything else that requires mechanic maintenance. 

I am no biking-marriage pro, but since friends and others ask how we manage it to enjoy it all…. I simply suggest knowing each other’s strongpoints, and slowly back away when you know it isn’t your expertise. While Josh is fixing bike pieces, cleaning chains, or checking tire pressures, I do my best to back away and try not to annoy his space. While I am getting our snacks, packs, and meals ready, Josh is pretty good at getting out of the kitchen area and letting me do my thing – whether it be at home or in the camper getting ready for a long ride. I highly suggest communicating very well the day before a ride of your plan of action, communicating who is doing what. I suggest having a checklist that you each have your own gear ready. Don’t assume other one has packed your items such as socks, shoes, helmets, gloves and whatnot because in that case, an item is likely to be left behind with the mentality “I thought you packed it….” Simpy communicate who is doing what, who is packing what. Discuss your route together so you know where you are headed and can mentally prepare for the terrain, climbs, downhills, and whatever else you may encounter.

Where biking may take us, I am not sure. When will we do another century? That I am not sure of either, but we are on the search for different bike events for 2022 – still hoping that Mountains to Deserts works out for us. While I am for sure NOT riding the Dalmac next year, Josh has full intentions of training and completing it.  I will be crewing him.

Like I said, back away and let the other person have their space while doing their part.

Like marriage, life on two wheels takes focus and balance. It takes hard work. It takes communication. It takes the right tools and proper gear. It takes dedication.  Enjoy the ride.

Miles In Michigan: The Dalmac

Just a few short days since the 335 mile Dalmac Ride wrapped up and I am still trying to wrap my mind around the thought of biking for 30+ hours.  As you may, or may not know, cycling is not my sport of choice. Even running didn’t come natural to me. 

A little backstory for you: my sister is 13 months younger than me, and she learned to ride a back before me. I still remember only getting enough confidence to ride my bike around our childhood farm without training wheels because she could!  I was not born with innate skills of balance or stability. I have always been clumsy. So, as you can imagine – clipping into bike pedals and trusting two wheels to hold me up wasn’t the easiest of tasks. 

When I met Josh in 2012, he made it very clear that he likes any sport on two wheels. His BMW motorcycle is his first love and his mountain bike was a close second. When we were dating in 2013, he convinced me to buy a cheap mountain bike from the REI outlet website for their semi annual sales. My first bike ride with him to Ridgway Reservoir, I threw the bike off the trail, sat on the side of the trail, and cried like a child. It was beyond difficult for me. Riding was not my jam at all. I don’t think we rode together again for at least a couple years. 

Fast forward to 2021. In February (just 7 months ago), I decided to buy a $100 road bike. I figured for a hundred dollars, I’d cross train for my ultra with it. As it turns out, I fell in love with the speed and adrenaline of road biking. I was also pretty fond of the time Josh and I got to spend together biking as a “couples thing.”  Being from Michigan, I had heard about the Dalmac since I was a child. I have aunts and uncles that have ridden it. And, I remember riders passing by when we were kids. I decided to research the ride, work out some details, and see if I could sign up. I signed up, downloaded the training plan, followed their social media pages, and the fun started. 

Always Choose Adventure

We flew into Grand Rapids, MI on a Saturday and spent a couple days with various family. We went out to my Uncle Ken and Aunt Kathy’s to get our gear ready. They were riding the Dalmac on their tandem, and Josh was going to be crewing all of us.  Let the fun begin! 

Tuesday night, Josh and Uncle Ken loaded up all our bikes and gear while I walked around aimlessly looking into the pink skies wondering what the heck I had signed up for. 350ish miles from Lansing, MI to the Mackinac Bridge felt like a huge journey on my butt! 

Wednesday morning we pulled out of the driveway by 5:45am and arrived to Michigan State University by 6:30am. While I did not go to college at MSU, my sister and several of my friends did. And, my mom has worked at the university since I was very young. So I know this campus very well.

As soon as we pulled up the MSU Pavilion, I felt nervous, but I just reminded myself “this is where I brought my nephew to a tractor show when he was a toddler.” Anything to take my mind off getting on the bike sounded good. We met up with the group we were riding with, took some photos, and headed out.  

Day 1 (Wednesday) we were riding MSU to Vestaburg, MI. We passed through so many areas that I knew from my teenage years: Dewitt, St. Johns, Maple Rapids, Alma, and finally Vestaburg. Being that this was the day closest to my hometown and family, it was the only day we’d really have spectators and see family. One hour into the ride, I got to see my Aunt Mary and Grandma. Two hours into the ride I got to see my Uncle Lonnie and Aunt Cindy. It was great to see family the first day to remind me that this is meant to be a tour, fun, enjoyable. Just think of it as a biking meet and greet. No need to rush anything.  The route that day was pretty hot and 75 miles of a headwind.  One of the highlights of Day 1 ride is that Josh rode to Alma so that he could ride the last 12ish miles with us. Anytime I get to ride with Josh is a great time! 

Day 2 (Thursday) we were riding Vestaburg to McBain. I know very little about this section of Michigan. Every single road that we explored that day was new to me. I just know it was farm after farm after farm. Plus, there were so many windmills!! I left camp at 7am with my aunt and uncle (riding tandem) and their large group of friends. But within 30 minutes, I knew that I could not keep up with them for the day. I quickly lost speed and fell behind. At our first stop that day, everyone recognized I’d be the slow one for the day and they introduced me to another gal my age who rides similar to me (Christine). We got on together really well. We chatted and rode together for a few hours. It was great. Turns out, we spent the next few days leapfrogging each other and occasionally riding together.  This day was also my only hiccup of the journey: a flat tire. 

Oh, the irony of that flat tire – I wasn’t even on the bike! I was taking a break in a park in Farwell, MI waiting for our group (because I randomly got ahead of them). I literally set my bike on the side of a picnic table and the tire went flat. UGH! But, a very kind man changed my tire in less than 3 minutes and we were on our way. Next stop was McBain. I very vaguely remember coming into McBain – like not at all remember. I don’t even remember where we camped that night. 150 miles in 2 days had me exhausted.  I was really wondering how the heck all of these other riders significantly older than me were not sore or fatigued? 

Day 3 (Friday) was the day that I had been dreaming about! We were riding McBain to Elk Rapids. I had never been to Elk Rapids, but I knew it was just a skip away from Traverse City and almost right on Lake Michigan, but closer to Elk Rapids Lake and Torch Lake. I was dreaming of lake days! While I am a mountain girl through and through, I was born and raised in Michigan – the lakes hold a very special place in my heart. I absolutely love Traverse City and the Grand Traverse Bay area, so I knew Elk Rapids would be amazing! 

Anyways, I knew that it was a shorter day – mileage and hours wise. So,  I had it in my mind to ride pretty straight through from McBain to Elk Rapids in order to enjoy the town and sit at the lake. We rode a solid ride that day, with just one short stop in Fife Lake. Since it was a solid ride and we covered miles pretty quickly, we arrived on Main Street of Elk Rapids by 12:05pm! It was barely noon and we had a whole day ahead of us to hang out. We had lunch at a local brewery, where I proudly drank a caramel apple cider beer to celebrate riding through Michigan. 

Since my body still felt okay that day, Josh and I went for an afternoon ride through Elk Rapids and on Bayshore Drive. It was beautiful; and we could see the Leelanau Peninsula directly across from the bay. It was really nice to be able to ride with Josh and share this whole experience.  Camp that night was right on Elk Lake so I went for a solo walk to the lake to just sit in the stillness and take it all in. 

Day 4 (Saturday)  was absolutely stunning. We rode McBain to Petoskey, riding right through Charlevoix. Anybody who has seen the west coast of Michigan along Lake Michigan knows – words and pictures will never be able to portray the beauty of this route and these towns. One thing I will say though – a car tour through this area is nothing compared to a bike. The lake, the trees, the colors are absolutely stunning from a bike. Being in a car and being on a bike are two totally different experiences. I highly highly suggest at least riding that section of Michigan on a bike (even if it’s an ebike or motorcycle) at least once.  

Being that this was the day we (Uncle Ken, Aunt Kathy, and myself) were really looking forward to “touring” and exploring Charlevoix before the rain was torrential, we left camp early. We departed at exactly 7:00am and rode along Elk Rapids Lake, then Torch Lake, then Lake Michigan. We had a solid mix of trees, orchards, and lakefront views. We leapfrogged with each other for about 20 miles, but then I took off solo. The group stopped for a quick stop at mile 20, but I had an agenda of doing photos, videos, and getting to Charlevoix before the rain. I rode a solid 42 miles before stopping. This segment was my farthest distance and longest amount of time on the bike without stopping – in my life. There was a large portion of that segment of torrential downpour and really reconsidering why I would ride in such conditions. But, I made it to Charlevoix by 10:30am and Josh had a change of clothes and dry socks for me. That was also the first time of the journey that I felt an incredible amount of hunger. I literally ate all the food from my bike pack in that one stop. I had about 900 calories in a five minute time frame, and felt no shame. Thank you Honey Stinger for the quick and efficient calories! 

Be a tree. Be rooted, be grounded. Stand proud in the toughest of situations, even when it feels like the world is flooding in around you and all you can do is stand up and say “I am strong. I am beautiful. I am independent. And I got this.”

The next 22 miles, Charlevoix to Petoskey were amazing. We were on the bike path the whole way, on and off the lakefront. I have no words for the colors or views – just photos. If I ever get the chance to return to this bike path for one of their foot races such as the marathon, I will be there. 

We arrived in Petoskey to beat the rain. The hills coming into camp were NO FREAKING JOKE. People were walking their bikes and falling over from going so incredibly slow on an incline. I just know, I felt pretty proud to have ridden the whole way into camp. That felt like a victory to me. Thank goodness I trained on Dallas Divide, Norwood Hill, and Lizard Head Pass for these hills! 

Petoskey was a great stop. We visited the food trucks venue, the chocolate fudge/ice cream shop, a local Michigan shop of random items, and went walking at the Bayshore Park.  I hadn’t been to Petoskey since I was about 14 years old (21 years ago) and it was just so different than I remember. 

Day 5 (Sunday) was our final day – Petoskey to The Mighty Mackinac Bridge. Like many other portions of the route, all of these roads were new to me. While I have been to the west coast of Michigan, I don’t think I have ever been on these “back roads” along the lake that we rode. Petoskey to Harbor Springs, then Harbor Springs to Good Hart, Good Hart to Mackinac City. Almost this entire day was on the lake, along the famous route for the “Tunnel of Trees.” Again, these routes and “tunnel of trees” are very famous for car tours. But, if you get the chance to go on a bike, it is a completely different experience.  

Riding on this day was my first real experience of drafting with another group of women. That’s a whole other experience. While I was with a large group for these 5 days, we didn’t ride together all the time. I spent a lot of time riding solo, taking it all in. About 15 miles before the finish, these ladies circled back for me and I heard them talking about how to stagger so I could draft with them. I insisted that they don’t have to slow down or wait for me. Then suddenly one responds, “Hey, you’ve done this entire thing yourself. All your training. All your miles. Most of these days. You’ve done great by yourself, but we are all in this together.” That was touching and I got so teary. In that moment, I recognized – I literally trained for 6 months solo (Josh did join me for some), I stayed dedicated to my training, I put in the time, I rode the miles. And here we are in the final hour and someone recognized and reminded me: you’ve done this. 

Coming into Mackinac, our group made a plan to meet up together right before town to ride in together. Of all of us that were riding, I was the “Dalmac First Timer” and got the honor of riding the group right into Mackinac, around the lake shore, right to the bridge, into the water. I was so tired and emotional; I tried not to get teary. Thank god Ken makes good jokes because right as I was about to let my eyes water, he made a joke about me getting a flat tire in the final mile (did not get a flat tire, just a joke). 

While the Dalmac is just another tour for some people, and others have ridden it dozens of times, it was a huge accomplishment for me. And, I cannot / will not downplay that. I am not a natural athlete. I only got into wellness and physical activity a few short years ago. I only got into biking this past year. So, the Dalmac is more than just a 5 day tour to me; it was a journey of learning about myself as a person, as an athlete, and finding a ton of inner strength and determination.

While I am not a great cyclist, I actually know very little about cycling and bikes. I spent the first half of the tour just learning. Just understanding it all was a battle of it’s own that I feel good to have experienced. It took/takes a ton of hard work and dedication. It took a serious mindset to put myself on training mode for 6months and then put my butt in a bike seat for 30+ hours in 5 days. 

I will forever be grateful for my husband, all my family, friends, and my aunt and uncle for the support I got in doing this ride (and Kathy for letting me use her bike/gear of course). From the day I signed up, until now – they’ve all given me the guidance on what to expect, how to navigate training, how to take it day by day and even now to navigate the organized chaos of camp. Honestly, as a first timer, preparing for a 5 day event – I didn’t really know where to start or how the start/finish, camp or anything works. Ken and Kathy laid it all out for me and helped me feel less stressed/nervous about it all.

The Dalmac is a true first class tour of Michigan that I’d highly recommend to anyone. Whether choosing 2, 3, 4, or 5 day route options – give it a go. Believe in yourself to learn a new sport, get on a bike, and just pedal into the beauty.

Fun Facts: We rode a total of 335 miles. My cumulative hours of biking was 30 hours. My average speed was 12.2 miles/hour. (not very fast, but I rode a leisure “take photos/videos” pace.)

Will I do it next year: I will be support crew for Josh, Ken, Kathy. It will be amazing!