May we all continue to be well (part 2)

Last week my husband and I were talking about summer, races, events, training and more. We started talking about what summer was like last year. He mentioned that I was running a lot, training for my 50 miler, and outdoors more than I was indoors. For the first time since my ultra training, I expressed to him that “training for a 50 miler was the loneliest thing I have ever done.” He looked at me ready to listen. I explained to him that when you are ultra training in the mountains, on single track trails, in the back country you are literally alone for hours on end. There aren’t people there to listen, no one to chat up with. It is just you and the serenity of nature FOR HOURS – from sunrise, sunburn, sunset. Most days, that is great and well. But after 6-7 days in a row, 6-8 hour at at time, that is the loneliest thing I have ever done in my life. Not to mention, when you aren’t alone – you don’t have the energy remaining to interact and engage in conversation Then, I was explaining to some friends that some days when I just want time to myself to relax and reconnect with my thoughts, I go on an 8 hour run. My friend replied, “most people choose a massage and spa day….. not 8 hours running alone.” That’s when I realized that it’s super odd to spend that much time alone, lost in your thoughts, and sometimes lost from the world.

I share that situation in order to share how lonely this past year has become. Most days I don’t feel lonely and lost. I have great friends and a fantastic online tribe of women. I connect with others on facebook groups, zoom workouts, hikes and runs. But, there are days that I do feel alone. It is time to stop covering up how lonely 2020 was and how difficult it has been for some people to re-connect with others. I have spoken with enough women about this topic to know that I am absolutely not alone on this sentiment. There are many people struggling to overcome their loneliness and reconnect on a positive note.

With it still being the month of May and mental health awareness month, I think it’s just as important as ever to acknowledge these struggles. After one year of isolating, staying home, quaranTEAMing, and vibing with your tribe, it is important to recognize your own level of comfort with gathering back up with people. And, I am not talking about social distance, masks, groups, gatherings. I am talking about your ENERGY – the level of introvert, your level of enthusiasm, your level of ambition to interact. No doubt, interacting on a positive note takes both energy and enthusiasm. It’s not easy to do. And re-interacting with others is going to take stimulation out of what vitality you have to give to others. You have to be able to gauge your level of stimulation, but also respect yourself when enough is enough. And, we all have to respect each other’s level of stimulation.

Furthermore, what I am seeing is that as the world begins to open up more and more, some people are more anxious than what they realized they would be. The anxious energy is creating various forms of emotions from self doubt, to hatred towards others, hatred for going out, meanness, stubbornness, or just solid rudeness. While there really isn’t a good excuse for this, we also have to learn not to take it personal. (myself included) Each and every human is approaching new territory these days; it is territory that we haven’t experienced. We have to work together to chart these uncharted waters.

While I don’t have the answers for this uncharted territory, my best suggestion is to take small steps. Start by getting together in outdoor groups with people you know and trust: hikes, run group, outdoor fitness classes. Progress forward by joining up with friends of friends that you know you could trust. And as awkward as it sounds, hug someone or shake hands or high five. But physically interact with someone and mean it. Let that hug teach you it is okay to bring the human touch back to reality. And, if that physical touch is too much, take back to the good ol’ smile. Just smile.

We are all in this together! For the last two weeks of May Mental Health Awareness month, I encourage you to come into connection with your mental health and smile to others around do you. Recognize your strengths and weaknesses in this area. Offer the energy you can, and come home with a happy heart.

May We All Be Well

With May being Mental Health Awareness month, I know that there are posts, blogs, videos, podcasts and resources all over the internet with sources of help and suggestions. While I’d like to offer some sort of solution, help, or assistance with Mental Health, that’s just not me and my credentials. I am all about wellness, working out, eating right and feeling healthy in our own bodies, but the coaching about mental capacity is a tad bit different. Though, I am always happy to offer up my story and my life.  You can see my full video here, as well as read the blog post below:

In honor of mental health awareness month, I thought I should offer you a little insight into my life that I’ve been hesitant to share over the years. In my 34 glorious years on this planet, I have only considered myself “healthy” for the last 6 years. Prior to getting healthy, I did dabble in the world of nightlife, partying, drinking unreasonable amounts, and smoking my fair share of hooka. During college and in my first “big girl job” I was a city girl. I went to college in Saginaw, MI and then moved to Doha, Qatar. City life, right? My idea of fun was beach days and disco club nights. 

In 2014 I decided it was time to get healthy. I started running more and I enrolled in a workout program. Over time, nutrition became important to me and I started learning how to eat for the healthiest version of me. Long story short, the last six years have been the healthiest years of my life. But, just like a virus, I am not immune to mental health concerns or struggles. 

I’d like to say that I don’t struggle often or that anxiety attacks are a thing of the past. However, a year of social isolation from my family and a lot of my friends has been a challenge for me, just as it is for everybody.   For the last couple of months I’ve been struggling with some other health issues, sleep, anxiety, irrational fears, emotional roller coasters, crying for no reasons, and other drama that a year of isolation has brought on. Like many others (even if they don’t want to admit it) one of my largest mental struggles this year has been choosing a vaccine.  And, I was really scared to admit and share that. I wanted to be that person, who looks out for others, cares for the good of all. But I really struggled. A lot. Spoiler alert: I did get vaccinated.

But anywho, I’ve really struggled with the idea of vaccinations, medical experiments, what’s authorized, versus approved. I’ve struggled with deciding on a vaccine, and the fear of adverse effects. I’ve struggled with all the “what ifs” that could negatively occur with or without a vaccine. Honestly, (and yes, selfishly) I struggled/feared about how to manage my anxiety if adverse effects make it escalate. I honestly didn’t know how I could manage.  It’s been a long hard internal battle for a while. And, I know I am NOT alone, so I am sharing in hopes of others relating to this as well. 

While this past year has been extremely difficult, it has also been wonderful as far as finding myself, finding a great group of “quaranTEAM” friends, discovering an online community of like minded women, and realizing that outdoor events are great.

However, I’ve spent a full year mainly gathering outdoors for hikes, runs, biking, paddle boarding, camping. I really haven’t participated in many indoor gatherings. I’ve run/biked over 2,000 miles in the last year, mostly solo – which is some of the loneliest minutes you’ll ever have. I’ve spent more time in my own head than I ever have, and it’s not always great for my mental health (hence, we are honoring Mental Health Awareness Month). 

So, needless to say, even a coach like myself struggles with the mental health piece of wellness. It’s hard. There are hard moments, there are hard days. Sometimes there are hard weeks. The truth of the matter is that hiding these hard times won’t make it any better or any easier. It is important to share the good, the bad, and the ugly. It is okay to say to a friend “I am in a funk, and that’s really hard as a coach to admit.”  Your friends will understand and be there for you. And, quite honestly, your clients and co-workers will be, too. 

In honor of Mental Health Awareness month, I encourage you to recognize one thing going really well for you right now and capitalize on that. And, also recognize a thing or two that aren’t perfect and talk about it with someone. Choose to talk about it instead of holding it. If you’re a mom/grandma/daughter/sister/friend to someone, reach out, say hi, ask them how they are doing. Just talk with no agenda. Go for a walk. Get outdoors. Just get together. 

Exploring Your Potential, Finding Your Worth

Last month we hit one year of living the new, “virtual” lifestyle. While it hasn’t been ideal for everybody, we did take time you celebrate one year of our virtual communities, new friendships, and our newly found value of health over the year.

If there’s one thing a year of COVID precautions has taught our culture, it’s that we do indeed want to live, we want to keep our bodies safe, healthy, and protected. Whether in terms of COVID or not, we value our lives and the lives of others, including the elder. We are willing to go the extra efforts to protect ourselves and others in order to live out a life of quality and potential.

We are learning to go the extra mile to prioritize our own health, our potential, our self worth.  This is a topic I presented my clients with last week.  I asked some very tough questions and scenarios…

I challenged the ladies to think about the theme “peak potential.” I challenged them to recognize that there are some areas of our lives where we are living above and beyond potential, yet on the flip side there are areas where we are not fully reaching maximum potential.  

I presented a few open ended questions and let the ladies take notes. A week has passed and we’ve had a chance to explore our potential.   Exploring the answers within, where our potential is, where we are maxing our energy, has not been an easy feat whatsoever. It’s a deep topic, and can be overwhelming.  But one thing for sure is that my wish for all women and their mental health is to not only know their potential, but value their worth.

Speaking of potential + self worth together….

Every day that you spend working towards your potential is 24 hours of honoring your worth, knowing your value.  Every hour that you spend bettering yourself is 60 minutes of honoring your that. Every minute is 60 seconds of time well spent.

As you inch closer and closer to your potential each day, you will see, recognize, and honor your worth. Your value will shine. You will no longer question the concept of taking care of you. 

If you, the reader of the blog, relate and/or struggle with your potential, value, self worth I leave you with a few tips to try each day:

  1. Speak kind to yourself.
  2. Move and stretch your body each day, always ending with a hug to yourself. 
  3. Drink your water, slowly and intimately with relaxed deep breaths for self awareness.
  4. Breathe: Take in fresh air, outdoor breaths everyday.
  5. Journal and write positive affirmations.  Read them.
  6. Hold your head high and radiate confidence.

As you begin to follow these practices, you will inch closer and closer to your maximum potential all the while finding your worth. You will recognize the importance of valuing your worth and never accepting less.

Too much of a good thing?

We’ve all heard the phrases that there is “never too much of a good thing.” But when it comes to our food, how does that apply to our nutrients. 

We all know what happens when you eat too much sugar (even in fruit), too much fat (even in seeds/nuts), or too much sodium.  Surely we know what happens when we eat too many carbs, breads, pizzas, and pastries.  Even recently our plant-based society has been very clear to us about what happens when you eat too much meat. And the keto flings have shown what happens when we consume too much protein in general. The effects  of having too much of any of these are drastic, ranging from diabetes to heart disease, to obesity to the  emotional concerns I blogged about last week. 

But rarely do health gurus address the concerns of having too much vegetables or too much healthy foods in general. Can there be such a thing as, “too much of a good thing” when it comes to eating clean? 

The answer is yes, there is a fine line of what portions are good for you and when you’ve had a bit too many. The reality is that your body can only absorb so many nutrients (vitamins +minerals) at a time. You can only process so much fiber at one time, right?

What happens when you take in too much food in one sitting is that your body has to decide to use, absorb, or excrete what you’ve consumed.  However, when you’ve overeaten the true portions of fruits, vegetables, plant-based foods in general, protein, sweeteners, honey, syrup and other “healthy” options,  your body will react in different ways prior to ever using, absorbing, and excreting the nutrients. Your body may respond via bloat, inflammation, aches/pains/cramps, constipation, or the opposite – diarrhea.  Yes, these happen even with healthy foods such as kale, spinach, eggs, fruits, and more. 

These reactions – bloat, inflammation, aches, pain, cramps, constipation, diarrhea – could be creating more gut, digestive, and intestinal issues than you started with prior to trying to choose healthy eating. It is super frustrating and makes it feel like being healthy isn’t worth it. The truth of the matter is that eating healthy and monitoring your food is hard work! Portioning, paired with ratios of food is hard freakin’ work.  You cannot just say “but I eat so much fruit and vegetables, I should be so skinny.” Because it isn’t just about eating nuts and berries on salad all day and calling that nutritious.

So, where do you go from here and how do you handle that fine line of incorporating fresh produce into a nutrition plan without overdoing it and feeling gross? 

As I have spoken about in the past: it comes down to PORTIONS + RATIOS together. What’s the difference? The difference is that with portions, you could portion out just one food group, eat that smaller amount and still feel gross if you are expecting your body to process it by itself. With ratios, you are creating the correct ratios of your macros (carbs/proteins/fat) to support your fruit and vegetable consumption. By using correct ratios, the digestive system of the body can function correctly without feeling clogged up, or opposite, greased up ready for quick excretion. The different portion sizes and ratios will depend on the specific person’s body and nutritional goals.     


In terms of ratios – what should you “portion & pair” together in the correct ratios, and what should you avoid eating solo? Again, it is going to depend on the person and their body.  In general, it is safe to say that you probably shouldn’t consume sugary carbs solo. Bread, pastas, bagels, desserts and such are going to make you feel bloated, inflamed, and fairly constipated when consumed on their own. However, if you opt for a healthy quality bread, paired with egg for protein and avocado for fats, you have paired and ratioed your carbs/protein/fat combination for improved digestion.  It is also safe to say that you probably shouldn’t just eat protein and fats solo either – that’s nearly the keto diet and leaves your body without the correct carbohydrate/glycogen to function properly. 

When speaking in terms of portions & ratios, it makes more sense to eat several times a day in what we’d call small “macro based meals” rather than just a couple large meals.  For a sample template or food list: see the following visuals.

Starting with these lists in the correct portion sizes is a great start. Using these lists for the best foods gives you great options for salads, stir fries, stews and even breakfast omelets. For additional ideas of how to build a meal plan with these foods, never hesitate to reach out and/or utilize the nutrition program I’ve created.

Eating & Emotions: the connection

After a full year of social distancing, physically isolating and completely changing our entire way of life and altering our norms, there is no doubt that one’s mental health and emotions are in question. Whether speaking in terms of emotions, depression, anxiety, nervousness and the feeling of the “unknown,” our mental wellbeing has changed over the past year. I say OUR, because I mean all of us:  we, us, our. We are all in this together and not a single person is immune to the emotions that come into play during an entire universal change. 

What I really want to talk about is the connection between our eating patterns and our emotion patterns. The question at stake really is:  Is, what we eat, connected to the emotions (or lack there of emotions) that we feel? 

The short answer is: YES, absolutely. No doubt. 

The long answer – is this entire blog. The truth of the matter is that the food we feed ourselves is the building blocks of our entire body. These building blocks (food/nutrients) of our body determines how we are built – not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally. Our bodies are built from the inside out; every tissue on the inside of your body is affected by what is put into it. From your gut health, to your hormone health, food and nutrients play a part in who you are. No doubt, your hormone health plays a part in your levels of energy, fatigue, emotions, sleep, feelings and many more aspects of your mental health. 

Furthermore, as I talk about hormone health – I am not just speaking about the women in their 20s,30s, 40s, 50s and beyond who experience body fluctuations. I am also speaking about how we feed our children, specifically our female children. Remember, what we put into our body is how our body is built. Thus, how we feed our female children from young ages is how their gut and hormone health is built. When I speak about the foods that help and harm our endocrine system, I am speaking about ALL AGES of well being here. I am very passionate about this!  (Note: Any moms about there who have gone through the hormonal challenges and wouldn’t wish that on their daughters —– this blog will hopefully be a resource of hope.) 

Over the recent decades, humans have referred to food as basic items of calories in, calories out. As food companies and factories have evolved, what we consume has literally become ITEMS that we should be embarrassed about: poptarts, granola bars, canned fruits, dried meats, frozen sandwiches, packaged burritos, frozen dinners in a box, rice cakes, pizzas from freezers, and so  many other processed items. Sadly, food isn’t the nutrient dense farm to table health options that our country used to have. And, the myth of calories in versus calories out isn’t fully accurate. It is more about macros-nutrient calorie categories in (more about that later.) 

Food has become more about convenience and cravings more than it has become about the health factor. Back to the idea of your body being built from the inside out and every tissue being affected. When we fail to provide our bodies the healthy and nutrient dense calories it needs, we are building a foundation more susceptible to disease. Most commonly, food related disease will manifest itself as obesity, diabetes, heart conditions, liver disease or many others. Less spoken about, and often debated about, food related disease can and will manifest as mental problems, depression, anxiety, nervousness. These are overall wellness diseases that are taking place in today’s society, and have a dramatic impact on the wellbeing of our bodies, our families, our relationships.  These are also diseases that overlap each other in many cases. I, myself, have felt obese and depression together all at once:

The part that is severely overlooked is how eating and emotions are related. While the way you eat will not cure and entirely prevent diseases, the nutrients that you put into your body can and will build a better, healthier foundation of cells and tissues within your body. You can, and will, determine your gut health and your hormone health based on what you put into your body.  But on the flip side, the bad junk you put into your body will feed these diseases.  What you DECIDE to eat is your decision to either feed your health or feed your UNHEALTH.

Let’s get started and talk about the eating styles that trigger poor emotions. The most important word we can talk about is “processed.” Highly processed foods do not carry the nutrient dense calories that your body needs to maintain healthy gut and healthy hormones. In terms of proteins and meats, extremely processed meats such as hot dogs, high sodium sandwich meats, pre-packaged/frozen sandwiches, extremely packaged/boxed burger patties and burritos will not serve your body well. Frozen dinners such as boxed lasagna or pizza will provide your body with more artificial ingredients, added sweeteners, sodium rich additives than they will provide healthy nutrients. When it comes to canned foods – while convenient and possibly a last resort when the produce section is running low – canned fruits/veggies will wreak havoc on your gut and hormone health with the preservatives, additives, and sodium, not to mention the dyes and sweeteners. Choosing the fresher, locally sourced produce that has recently arrived at your store will be your better option. Your fast convenient “protein” or “granola” bars are likely to provide more artificial or added sugars rather than finding true protein or true carbohydrate options. Even when marked gluten free, sugar free, dairy free, keto, and packaged in the most beautiful of packages, these items are carrying ingredients and additives that will destroy your gut health and hormone health.  Digging deeper into the idea of choosing healthy carbs, your “grains” that companies are advertising could possibly be the culprit of inflammation and pain, which contributes to frustrations and depressions. It is all linked together! I cannot say this enough. Choosing a whole, non-processed grain such as quinoa, rice or barley will be a better option than a bag of bread or box of snacks labeled “whole grain.” If you cannot literally see the “WHOLE GRAIN” as you are preparing your food, that label simply means that they began the process with the whole grain. It doesn’t mean you are taking in the whole grain.  It surely doesn’t mean that you are reaping the benefits of the whole grain. Without needing to really mention it, alcohol and sugary beverages are also huge depressants that contribute to the unhealthy wellbeing of the human body and hormones; avoiding them will absolutely help.  I know it feels like we just eliminated the entire aisle section of the grocery store in one store. Probably true.  But, it will do your health, your body, and longevity of your life a favor.

The processed items within these foods, that you mainly do find in the dry food sections of grocery stores, will completely throw off and confuse your endocrine system to the point that your body cannot maintain a natural flow or natural balance of hormones. When your body cannot maintain this natural balance of hormones, everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) is off balance. From sleep, to energy, to happiness to sadness, to smiling to crying, to extreme moodswings – EVERYTHING is thrown off. 

Now that we have talked about the eating styles that trigger the emotions and imbalance, shall we point out some ways in which we can elevate our emotions and elevate our wellbeing?  As I have said, the presence of nutrient dense foods will help not only improve our eating habits, but also improve our emotional habits and overall health.  I know it feels obvious to simply point out that staying hydrated and eating fruits, vegetables, proteins will help. That’s something that we all know. But sometimes it is a matter of HOW to eat these properly to maintain a healthy balance in our body. We need a healthy balance of our nutrients – specifically our macro nutrients.  It is about taking your macros, from these fruits/veg/proteins/fats and turning them into healthy options in your kitchen, in your meals, on your plate.

While I am not going to get into the science of the macronutrients, (I teach that in my nutrition workshops) I will say that by balancing your macros, you will be able to regulate your body better. From your body fluids within the gut, organs, digestion, body temperature to your energy flow, your mood, sleep and more you feel more regulated from the inside out.  You emotions will feel better.

With your three macronutrients being carbs, proteins, and fat, it is very important to NOT eliminate a macro group. Many such as Atkins tell you to reduce/cut carbs. Other diets like keto tell you to go high fat, high protein. Eliminating calories = eliminating nutrients. Eliminating nutrients = imbalance in macro nutrients = imbalance in your body = imbalance in your hormones. (that’s a topic all on its own.) 

Really though, speaking of the HOW to eat your macros will be the main focus of balancing them. 40% of your calories come from carbs via fruits, vegetables, grains. 30% of your calories come from fats via avocado, seeds, nuts, coconut, cream, cheese. 30% of your calories come from proteins via meat or plant based protein. Maintaining a balance for 90+ days will help build and regular your body from the inside out. 

Now that we have spoken a lot about how eating is connected to our emotions, let me finish this off with a list of the top food items for each macronutrient category that will help you eat natural, locally sourced foods rather than processed foods that destroy your mental health. While you can follow this list on your very own and get creative inmeals, I still HIGHLY suggest a nutrition program with a solid meal plan that brings this all together for you. Need help with that – just let me know, I have got the resources for you.

Happy eating & happy emotions! 

365 Days of Digital Days — losing motivation, enforcing discipline

A year ago this weekend I showed up to the virtual Canyonlands Half Marathon as best dressed…. Well, in my opinion, best dressed. Even in the worst of situations, I do try to be the most energetic, funniest person around. I wore my rainbow socks, bright red running skirt, a “longest beer run ever” shirt and St. Patrick’s day themed headband (not in the photo as I ran). I ran 13.1 miles in the Moab area with others who, like myself, were in denial that the world was shutting down. Who the heck knew that was literally about to be… the longest beer run EVER! 

Just a few days later, on March 17th I wore the exact same outfit to teach my 90 minute spin class at the gym dressed as St. Patrick’s Day leprechaun. Upon arrival, I was informed I’d need to sanitize the bikes/room and yoga studio, and the gym was closing. Caution tape was put up and by noon that day we all excited that particular gym. A year later – I have yet to return to that full gym and they have not resumed group fitness classes. What we thought was a two week closure has officially reached 365 days!  (But, we are celebrating those 365 days of digital discipline, no doubt).

What you have to know about me is the pre-covid days, I taught 24 group fitness classes a week, did private sessions, and coached just a handful of people on the internet. Classes were my pride and joy. Creating choreography and music lists were my biggest hobbies; and seeing participants in my class thrive with the music/choreography together brought energy to my day like no other. 

The first two weeks after the closures were extremely depressing to me. I stayed home pretty much from March 17 until the first part of April. I didn’t see another person, other than my husband for 6 weeks!!! I felt depressed at some moments, a little bit anxious at other moments, and extremely over ambitious at most moments of my day. The “overly ambitious” moments really became a coverup about how I really felt about the world and the new season of “digital days.”  Before I knew it, I was installing a barre into my workout room (don’t confuse barre with bar – we installed a BARRE), pulling out my spin bike, and arranging the lighting for teaching DIGITAL classes.

As you can imagine – it wasn’t long before in my overly ambitious moments, I got the ideas to start teaching digital fitness, digital nutrition, digital cooking classes. From teaching the science of macros & hormones to teaching sweaty workouts, to cooking classes, I brought as much positive energy as I could to the screen. I just felt like that is what the world needed – a little bit of positive energy, with a splash of digital discipline.

Okay, that was a really long anecdote to bring you to the point of my 365 days of losing motivation, only to find DISCIPLINE. If you made it that far through the story, you can imagine that in March/April time, I was fighting depression/anxiety, but it was totally masked by ambition. Through my super sporadic moments of ambition, I did start to find the important, key piece of my own health for the year, as well as the healthy of others: discipline

With having zero races on the agenda, the motivation to train, run, cycle, and lift was lost. Out the window, gone, none. I didn’t need or have my typical 6am wake up time to workout and then head to my classes. I didn’t have my typical run groups to chat with.  Discipline found its way into my schedule, into my mind, into my agenda. And, wow, am I glad that the discipline popped in uninvited. 

What I learned is that if you allow discipline to make its way into your agenda for long enough (3-4 weeks) that discipline transitions into consistency. And consistency transitions into commitments. And following through with commitment becomes victory and pride.  

While I don’t have the best of answers to remain disciplined and committed to your health, I can try to give you a short list to get started: 

  1. Welcome discipline into your home, into your agenda, into your exercise area, into your fridge and meal prep areas. Welcome discipline wherever you need it most. 
  2. Face discipline face-first at least 5x per week. If you can follow through with the discipline to be active, eat right, hydrate well, sleep decently for at least 5 days a week, you will get 20+ days/month. That gives you 2 days a week to freestyle it, but 5x to face discipline. 
  3. Be consistent. If you are consistent in one area one day, be equally as consistent in that area the next day.  Don’t use the productivity of the prior day as an excuse to slack on that area the next day. (Example: if you exercise on Monday, come Tuesday don’t tell yourself “but I exercised yesterday, I can slack today.”) That is not discipline or consistency. Choose consistency in your exercise, your eating, and your mindset. 
  4. Be committed. If you have learned anything in this past year, it’s that commitment to your own health and commitment to the health of others around you can and will save others. It will prevent health scares, illness, and create longevity in the lives of others. 
  5. Take pride in yourself. Embrace and celebrate the victories. When I say take pride in yourself, I mean – value your health, your wellness, take pride in being the best healthiest version of you that you can be. Be proud of the discipline you instill in yourself. 

As you follow this list, I’d LOVE to hear about your successes and how you are feeling from day 1 to day 365. Remember, the days will feel long, but darn are the years short. Make the best of each and every year. As you work on these days of discipline, be sure to post, share, tag me, and celebrate every victory along the way.

The Snack Pack!

The infamous question: What’s In Your Pack?  I get this question a lot. For example, when I hike 8-10 hour, or a long day of biking, or my 50 miles. The common question is: What do you eat?

So, let me tell you all about what I eat and my idea of food in my “snack pack.”

First of all, anytime that I talk about food, I talk about what food does for our bodies. Food isn’t meant to just be a filler in our day. It isn’t meant to just make us feel good temporarily until the next meal. It isn’t meant to just “hold us over.”   Food has a function. Food is meant to fuel our body, to help our cells properly recover, to help us feel amazing and energized from the inside out.  These concepts stand true for meals and snacks alike. 

Thus, in this blog post, I want to touch on some of my SNACK PACK SUCCESS and what you may find useful to navigate your own SNACK PACK.  While this particular blog post will not go into the science, macros and/or calories of the snack pack, you are encouraged to explore more about macronutrients on my website and in workshops at

Since we are talking about snacks, let me start by stating that snacks should provide a balance of your macro groups as they aren’t meant to be “empty calories” such as junk food. That is why you won’t find snacks in this blog such as chips or candy, just real food. As long as your snack is real food, it has a function. A snack is intended to provide nutrition to your body between meals, time on the trails, or fuel you for a long day, and to suppress cravings.  Each of the foods mentioned is my own recipe and can be made in a small kitchen in a small amount of time. The recipes can be previewed in my cookbook “Recipes for Results.”

When I mention, the SNACK PACK SUCCESS – I am aiming to help the busy humans of all walks of lives. Whether you are literally packing a pack for a day on the trails, on your mountain bike, exploring ski slopes OR you are a nurse with a 12 hour shift, a mom a 5 playing taxi drive between events, or a teacher who runs between the classroom and bathroom between classes, this is for everyone. This SNACK PACK SUCCESS can be utilized in so many variety of ways. 

Let’s talk about the SNACK PACK as trail food. As you know,  I consider myself to be an endurance athlete, and many of my readers are endurance athletes as well. Therefore I would like to take a brief moment to talk about what we eat on the go, on the trail, and what we keep in our pack for real food, real fuel.  When I refer to trail food in this blog or any of my books, I am referring to the snacks that will properly fuel your body for performance during hiking, biking, running, or any other endurance activities. The main two trail foods I use frequently are my “waffles for wellness” recipe from the breakfast section of my cookbook and “Heather’s Homemade Gel” from the snack section.  With those two being my favorite, I also use the “energy bite” recipes from the snack section. 

The waffles and peanut butter gel fit really nicely in a day pack. Furthermore, I also use the homemade granola bars and DIY larabar bites in my running pack. I would suggest these if you are looking for trail food that you can make yourself and have less waste.  Oh, and, how cheap they are to make is just a bonus!  

For references back to the recipes for each of the foods mentioned, you may consider exploring my “Recipes for Results” cookbook on Amazon and/or Kindle. You can also preview it on my website.

Strategizing Your Training

If you’ve been following my blog and/or my social media for a hot minute, you know that running is my absolute passion, but workout classes and lifting are my hobbies as well. You also know, I like a good morning sweat session!!  Finding the balance between a good HIIT workout, a tad bit of lifting, and a whole lot of running is a daily struggle for myself and for others who also enjoy all areas of fitness. 

That being said, a couple common questions I get is, “when should I workout?” and  “do you prefer running first or do you do your weight/strength training first?” 

I give the full disclaimer that the answer to this question truly comes down to the person, their training, and their preferences. But I am going to write about my routine and my preferences, in hopes that it helps others who also work on strength + cardio sports together. 

To begin, let me explain that yes, a typical training day for me does include two workouts: one strength based, one cardio based. But it hasn’t always been that way. I did not wake up and jump right into double workouts. When I first began working out in 2015, I only started with one, 25 minute session a day. I actually didn’t start double workouts until I was training for a road marathon and trail ultra simultaneously in 2017. And, I only started double workouts because I truly enjoy a good lifting/strength session, and I love the endorphins of cardio rush that I get from running. 

The short answer (about workout routines/structure) is this: I prefer and highly suggest morning exercise. I strength train first, I run/bike second. I do my lifting and strength work first thing in the mornings and I get my cardio when I run and/or bike later in the day.  

The long answer and a few explanations: 

Why morning? There are so many reasons I firmly believe in morning workouts for all people. 

First off, I firmly believe that one needs to give their full, undivided attention to their workouts – for sake of energy, form, and injury prevention. I believe that you can put better, higher effort levels into your training when you are fresh, first thing in the morning after a good night’s sleep. From personal experience and seeing client’s experiences – working out at the end of a long day often means working out when you are already fatigued physically and mentally. Working out while fatigued, even if just mentally fatigued, is a recipe for disastrous injury. 

Why strength training / lifting first? As I talked about, fatigue happens. And lifting or working on strength while fatigued is no bueno.  Cross training and lifting is where the majority of the injuries happen. Yes, some athletes have injuries while out working on their sport, but many many many (way too many) injuries come from poor form, lifting too heavy, or cross training through fatigue. Most athletes do not have time or patience for injuries. And, if we are being honest – the workout drills that happen in cross training take a whole lot more focus than the repetitive motions of our cardio exercise. 

Therefore, I believe that in order to give your full attention to the details of your form, your tempo, your weights, you need to perform your lifting/strength training BEFORE your cardio work. Whether your cardio work is running, biking, hiking, rowing or many other options, if you opt to do cardio first, you are likely to completely exhaust your body through that workout. Then, you are more likely to “half ass” it in your cross training, leading to injury.  

That being said, I feel that if you are going to do double days, starting with your cross training in the morning is key, and then add in your cardio directly after or throughout the day as it fits into your schedule. 

Again, these routines and suggestions are merely what works for me and what I suggest. Every person is very different. Whatever routine you are opting for, I suggest you do what works for your and your body for the safest options with the least possibility of injury. 

Dealing with Derailers

6 weeks into 2021 and you’re feeling strong and focused towards your intentions and goals for the year. You’re feeling determined and dedicated to carve out time for your meditations, journaling, workouts, meal prep and other elements of your wellness that you’ve listed as priority. You feel like you’re making strides and progress is showing. 

Then bam – other elements of life interfere: busy work schedules, career meetings, spouses who have different goals, kids’ schedules, friends with different agenda short term and long term, weekend plans, holidays and many other things. 

The reality is that no matter how dedicated we are to our wellness, we are going to encounter life obstacles that may possibly derail us from our straight shot to success. Or, they (the derailers) at least cause us to take the long route to our destination of victory. 

While I cannot tell you exactly how to navigate relationships, careers, family life and other situations, I can help you navigate your GOALS.   I am here to remind you of a mantra I spoke a lot about in 2020: “I am a strong, independent, determined & dedicated woman.”  (or man for the male following). 

In telling yourself this mantra, I want you to really remember and focus on the “I am independent.” Even for those in relationships, married, and committed to family needs, I want you to remember that you are your own individual. You are YOU. While the needs of others are important, you still have your own independent goals that look different than those of your spouse and of your friends. If your daily routines and meals don’t align with those around you, that absolutely does not make you any less of a person. You are strong and independent and fully capable of remaining dedicated to your plan.  It is just that YOU have to decide to be okay with saying no more often, advocating for yourself, and using your voice. Regardless of whether it is your workout plan, training for an event, eating right, meal prepping, or managing the fridge, I highly encourage you to focus on YOU, taking priority over the derailers that step into your path to achievement. 

Most common derailers & suggestions: 

Spouses/Family Need. No doubt that the people you live with have the greatest impact on you and how you live your life.  However, just because you live together doesn’t mean that you are all at the same points of your life.  For sure, you and your kiddos are at different points of life – they are growing up and you are adulting. Your schedules are going to look different. Your meals are going to look different. Your routines, schedules, workouts, lifestyles are going to look different.  Coming to senses with this will be the first step of navigating these differences and preventing them from derailing you. Understanding that how your teenager eats is significantly different than how you eat isn’t going to be easy. But choosing your battles will be crucial in the situation. You can fight with your family members to eat the same chicken salad that you’re having for dinner or you can spend less energy having a couple options available. But ultimately, you have to decide if the differences among family members, especially the spouse that chooses cookies and beer for dinner while you are enjoying your vegan tofu-topped salad. 

Friends: There is a meme on the internet that says you find out who your true friends are when you have a baby. I find that to be fairly accurate, but it is more along the lines of “you find out who your true friends are when your habits in general change.” No doubt, finding yourself and loving yourself isn’t easy on friendships. Friends tend to see you giving attention to yourself and your health and that is essentially energy that you could be giving them. Naturally, they are a bit envious of where you are focusing your attention. You’ll start to see which friends vanish and which friends become encouraged by your newly acquired lifestyle. Some friends will mock you and block you, some friends will eat and exercise with you while encouraging you.  Good and bad news here. Bad news: you will lose/distance some friends. Good news: you will gain a whole new tribe of friends, connections, like minded individuals. Whether on the internet, facebook groups,  running groups or other areas, you will slowly make new connections to people with commonalities to your new lifestyle. 

Eating out / Taking Out: Eating out is America’s favorite pastime. When meeting up with friends, having a work meeting, traveling with your business partners, signing on a new work deal – so many things require meeting over a table full of five course meals. It doesn’t have to be this way. While you probably cannot change the eating out of your career and CEO’s choice of restaurants, what about the moments with friends and family. Can you suggest other ideas of meeting up: going for a walk, going to play a game, mini golf,  coming over to each other’s houses.  However, if you do opt for the eating out, you don’t have to choose the unhealthy options. There is no rule that says you must order beverages or cocktails. Eating out and choosing healthy options is something I could talk about for days – but to spare you the details I am going to link this “Traveling, Eating out, Reading Menus” video from my Nail Down your Nutrition package. It’s a simple 30 minutes of listening to my educational thoughts and suggestions to managing eating outside of your typical household situations.

Work Schedules: While many work schedules have shifted and even gone remote/virtual this past year, many work loads have also increased. I understand that whether you physically go to work or you have altered your work to be from your living room couch, it has become very difficult to set boundaries. I know that your work is your livelihood, your income, and what builds the stability in your life. As a former teacher and a coach that works A LOT and also struggles with work hours/boundaries, this is a difficult topic to speak about. However,  I can highly suggest that starting slow in creating a TIME FRAME and creating a healthy WORK SPACE will greatly impact your productivity. Whether working from home or an actual place of employment, knowing which hours are your most productive hours will be important. Creating structure within that time frame will be essential. Create a check list of which tasks need to be finished in those time frames and go from there. Following your checklist will allow you to focus on the tasks that are of the highest priority. Therefore as other tasks arrive to the table and in your inboxes, you stick to your list. Newly acquired tasks won’t derail you from your work priorities or your life tasks as much if you know which list, which tasks to stick to. When it comes to work derailing you from your own life, your personal goals it is important to do your work ONLY , in your time frames and ONLY in your workspace. Outside of those times/space, you focus on you and your family. It’s much easier said than done. But if you can try to accomplish this one day at time you will feel more on the straight route to succeeding in your work and personal life. 

Snacks: While I would love to say the answer to end snacking is to end purchasing them, I also understand that you have children, spouses, roommates and others that have the snacks in the house. Or maybe the snacks aren’t even in the house. Maybe they are in your place of employment or places that you visit often. Snacking has to come down to personal discipline. It has to come down to knowing that what you put into your body has a function. Fuel is fuel for your body to keep going and keep recovering from workouts and other tasks. Depending on what you are snacking on, the ingredients may derail you entirely for  a day or so depending on how it makes you feel. The ingredients in your snacks may be healthy and contribute to your success (veggies, fruit, guacamole, hummus, deli meat, other quick produce options) or the ingredients may cause you a migraine, constipation, bloating, cramps, gut pains, fatigue or many other symptoms. It has to come down to if you want your snacks to contribute to your route to success or derail you off path for a day or so. I highly suggest you take a moment to make a list of which snacks should be on hand for healthy options and then create a list of what you should stay away from. If you need a suggestion or ideas, I will give you an example of my list. Healthy options: chopped veggies with avocado or hummus, chopped veggies with shredded chicken or deli meats, bell peppers with taco meat, apples or other fruit with yogurt. Options that derail me: candy, chocolate, tortillas, bread, toast, quesadillas, any thing with flour in it, anything that is too much dairy in one sitting. 

Girl Scout Cookies: This one is just to conclude this blog with a little bit of humor and because I know it is Girl Scout cookie season. My opinion on this one contradicts the entire blog. I say, buy the cookies. Support your girl scouts. Help them out. But, eat them in portions. Ration yourself one cookie a day for a few days. Tuck them into a cabinet or back of the freezer so that if you want one, you have to actually get it. Put them out of site, out of mind. And leave a note on the box itself reminding yourself that you are a strong independent woman with goals and you are working towards them.