Stop being afraid to fail!

Stop being afraid to fail!

We all fail. Sometimes we fail big, something we fail small but inevitably we all fail at something at some point in our lives. Off the top of my head, right now, I can think of several things I have failed at over the years. Relationships, friendships, exams, even jobs, just to name a few….

The older I have gotten, though, the more I realize that while the word “failure” tends to have a negative connotation, I have learned so much from each of my own failures that that maybe failing isn’t so bad after all. While usually, at least initially, it kinda well sucks to fail at something, if you really stop to think about your own failures, haven’t you learned something pretty significant from each of those experiences? 

Maybe you just learn not to do that same thing again. Maybe you learn it is worth another shot but maybe not in the same manner you tried before. Maybe you learn what to look for and/or what to avoid the next time a particular situation comes around. Maybe you just learn that something isn’t right for you.  

Whatever it may be, I am hard-pressed to think of a time that I failed at something that I didn’t become a least a little bit wiser and more in tune with myself because of it. So, what else can failure teach us? For starters:

Failure Can Clarify Our Path

I wholeheartedly agree with the old saying, “When one door closes another one opens”. Failing at one thing can signal to us that maybe that thing we thought we wanted so badly wasn’t actually meant for us but perhaps there is something better waiting right around the corner. Sometimes you can put everything single thing you have into something or someone and in the end, it still doesn’t work out like you had hoped it would. Is it a tough pill to swallow? ABSOLUTELY! Do you sometimes feel dejected and even bewildered by the way the situation turned out? OF COURSE! Can you still learn a lot from enduring this kind of failure? SO MUCH!

This is a case where I believe life is telling you to reassess where you are putting your energy. It is saying, “hey great effort over there but look over here now!” Take all that glorious drive, ambition, and desire, and let’s put it somewhere that is better suited for you. This is also a great lesson on how to pivot instead of throwing in the towel. Just because one thing didn’t work out for, you doesn’t mean the next thing won’t. Don’t let one failure stop you from getting out there and finding what truly deserves your time and energy.  

Failure Can Reveal Our Strength

When we fail at something in life and then must deal with the repercussions of that failure, we are often forced to call upon that inner strength we all possess just to sometimes make it through and live to fight another day. But we do just that, don’t we? We fight. And in that fight, if we really stop to think about it, our true strength can sometimes be revealed. Even if we don’t know we are fighting and evolving and getting stronger, that is exactly what is happening behind the scenes.  

That realization very often is the exact thing we need to punch forward and either try, try again, or as I mentioned above, pivot and try something that might be better suited for us. And in those moments when the failure is fresh and the feelings of disappointment are raw, remember one thing, you have survived every single thing life has thrown at you up until this point, including all the really hard, sad, and trying things. You are strong. Probably so much stronger than you even realize so just get back up and continue to fight the good fight no matter how long it takes.

Failure Can Force Us Out of Comfort Zone…

If you really stop to think about it, what is so great about being in your comfort zone? Nothing grows there. Nothing new happens there. And while yes, it is comfortable, would you rather find yourself in the same place, day after day, month after month, year after year, or at least try, maybe fail, but try again to reach for your goals? For me staying stagnant is much worse than facing my fear of failure and at least being able to tell myself I made an attempt to better my situation.  

Real, true growth, can only honestly happen when we get uncomfortable after all. Even just practicing taking a few steps out of your comfort zone can teach you amazingly useful lessons on how to adapt, and deal with change, which is of course inevitable in life. If we fail trying something new, great, there are probably a million other ways to approach that problem or situation. Keep trying until you find the one that works.  

If you keep failing at something because you are doing it the same way over and over again, take a step back, realize what you have been doing isn’t working and force yourself out of that comfort zone and into a new way of thinking. I guarantee that getting out of that rut you might be in will spark new creativity, maybe reenergize your fight, ignite a possibly stalled motivation and maybe even see you accomplishing that goal or achieving that next step in life that you have been striving for.

Failure Makes Us Tough

Let’s face it….life can be hard. While there are so many wonderful and beautiful things all around us that we will experience in a lifetime, we also all go through periods that aren’t all sunshine and roses. One of the most important tools that failure can arm us with is toughness. Mental toughness, emotional toughness, and even physical toughness can all be gained by trying and failing and picking ourselves back up when it really counts. Failure can force us to pick ourselves up from the lowest point, dust ourselves off and get back on that proverbial horse after being bucked off one too many times. It can teach us that while success may not be immediate it will come if you just keep on trying different ways of getting there.  

It can also make us take an honest look at ourselves, take stock of the decisions we have been making, and recognize if we are the ones holding ourselves back. Being brutally honest with ourselves is seldom easy but failing enough times unavoidably leads to having to have those tough conversations where you admit to yourself that what you have been doing isn’t working. Taking responsibility for our own actions and failures isn’t easy but it builds character, resilience and in the end a much more transparent and sincere awareness of who we are and what we are capable of.  

Failing is never fun. In fact, sometimes it is downright painful. Did you ever try to climb a really tall tree when you were a kid and then took an unfortunate tumble when the top branches weren’t as sturdy as you might have thought? Yeah, OW! Have you ever trusted the wrong person and then ended up with a severely bruised if not broken heart? Yeah, that one really hurts! But in both those scenarios hopefully, you learned something which helped you in the future stay a little safer toughened you up for the next go of it. Failing teaches all kinds of really important and useful life lessons if we really stop to think about it. So let’s try to change the narrative a little bit on how we view it. Embrace the suck of it just a bit, keep your head held high, and learn the lesson that life is trying to teach you. I bet you will come out the other side a little happier, more self-aware, and even more bad a$$ than you went in!



Why am I not seeing results??

Why am I not seeing results??

One of the most frustrating parts of any fitness journey is when you feel like you have been busting your butt for a solid length of time but are not seeing the expected results. 

Sometimes this happens a few weeks into a brand-new fitness journey, sometimes it happens a few months or even a few years into it. For the purposes of this post, however, I am going to focus on when this happens soon after you have started or -restarted a new fitness routine.

On average, if you are consistently working out each week, you should start to see meaningful changes happening within 6-8 weeks. Considerable changes, we are talking about an overhaul of your body and fitness levels, take about 3-6 months. There are a couple of main reasons that you may be either slow to see results or are feeling like you aren’t seeing them at all aside from just not having been at it long enough. These reasons can include:

You Haven’t Fixed Your Diet 

The old saying, “you can’t out-exercise a bad diet” is so true and in my opinion probably one of the leading reasons you aren’t seeing results from the hard work you are putting in with your workouts. One of the most beneficial things you can do to start getting your nutrition in line is to cut out processed, packaged foods that are often loaded with extra sugar and salt and focus on eating whole foods as much as possible.  

A piece of advice when it comes to finding and incorporating whole foods into your meal planning is to shop on the outside isles of the grocery store and then cook as many meals as possible at home with those whole, fresh ingredients. Meal prepping for days that you are going to be on the go and need something already made and ready to eat to keep you from reaching for that bag of chips or candy bar is also key!  

Finally, I cannot overstate how important it is to get enough protein when we are talking about meeting and maintaining your fitness goals. Protein is highly important for not only repairing and rebuilding muscles after a workout, but the essential amino acids that protein sources like meat, seafood, eggs, and dairy provide help to build new muscle tissue and at the same time burn stubborn fat. On top of all that, eating protein with every meal helps you feel fuller for longer than just filling up on carbs and fat alone.  

If your nutrition is already in line, keep reading for a few more possibilities that may be holding you back…

Strength Training Isn’t A Priority 

This issue was a huge one for me at the beginning of my own health and fitness journey. I was hitting the gym at least 5-6 days a week, spending the majority of my time on cardio machines like the treadmill and elliptical and wandering into the weight room only when it was empty enough for me not to feel embarrassed for being in there in the first place.

Guess what? That approach did not work at all. While cardio is an important piece of any fitness routine, it shouldn’t be your only focus if you are looking to slim down.  

If you have been around my blog for a little while, you may remember I dedicated a whole post (#MBF) to this very subject….how building muscle through strength training is a great way to burn fat. Basically, the more muscle you are able to build, the more fat you burn, even while at rest! Who doesn’t want to burn fat even while you binging your current Netflix obsession?? Take a look at my #MBF post for more details on exactly how this works, but in the meantime, if you haven’t been hitting the weights or at least doing bodyweight exercises up until this point, start incorporating them into your routine now. If you are a little unsure about how to go about this, I have a few suggestions on this one also!

What ended up working for me was beginning to follow a weight training program I could do from home with just a few selections of dumbbells. I wanted to learn how to lift weights properly, with the correct form, and in an order which would be the most effective use of my time, so I did a little research and ended up diving into the program, LIIFT4 (click here for a FREE sample workout of this awesome program!). I am not exaggerating when I say that one decision changed my life. I fell in love with strength training and by the end of the program, I saw muscles I didn’t even know I had…I was hooked!

Another suggestion is if you are more a gym person, but still unsure how to go about lifting weights properly, just ask someone there for some guidance. I would be willing to bet that person who looks like they know what they are doing in the weight room would be happy to share some knowledge with you to help you get started. After all, they were once a beginner too!

You Aren’t Prioritizing Rest

As counterintuitive as this one might sound, rest is a key component in a successful fitness regime. This is one that became a real issue for me about a year into my own journey because I got to the point where I had found programs that I genuinely enjoyed doing so much and that I was seeing such great results from, that I never wanted to take a day off. 

Really, I am being serious! I wanted to workout 7 days a week because I was having so much fun doing it and oh yeah, those endorphins can be addicting! 

Pushing your body 7 days a week with no rest days, however, is a big no-no and can actually be setting you back on your quest to get fit. So, take my advice and build rest days into your own routine!

Nowadays, I typically build two rest days into my own weekly routine, depending on what program I am following and how much I am doing other workouts like riding my mountain bike and running. One rest day for me is typically a full rest day where I really give my body a break and let everything heal and repair itself and the other is usually an active rest day where I do something like go for a long walk, do some Pilates, or yoga or take my pups for a hike.  

A few good signs your body is in need of a rest day or two are if you waking up feeling sore, you are more tired or moody than normal, or you feel a bit under the weather. You may also feel dehydrated despite drinking enough water or you might even notice that your heart rate is a bit elevated. These are all clear indications you have pushed your body hard enough for the week and it is time to let it rest. Build these down days into your workout routine and I bet it will help jump-start your progress again if it has stalled.  

You Need to Mix Things Up

While I totally understand that most of us find comfort in routine, being comfortable while working out is not going to get you the results you are looking for. If you find yourself doing the same workouts, in the same order, with the same weight selection for an extended period of time this might be a contributing factor to the plateau you will inevitably find yourself in. While I do applaud the fact that you might still be consistently showing up if you don’t also switch things up once in a while your body will get used to the routine and your progress with cease.

It is only really when your body is challenged and forced to adapt to a new move or a higher weight selection or an entirely new workout altogether that meaningful progress can be made. For me, switching things up Is not only really great for my body and progress but also for my dedication to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The more variety I can incorporate into my workouts the more likely I am to continue to want to do them.

I do everything from weight training, to HIIT workouts, to running, Pilates, Yoga, and of course mountain biking, just to name a few. Not only do the different workouts keep things interesting for me but the unique aspects of each of them target different muscles and focus on different but equally important components of a complete fitness routine such as strength, mobility, flexibility, and cardiovascular health. Most importantly, just continue to challenge yourself. If you feel like you are stuck in a rut or are just coasting through workouts it is probably time for a change.  

Plus, you might discover a new kind of workout that you really enjoy which is always a bonus! Check out my post “I can become a ballerina at 40 right?” for how I fell in love with Barre workouts after prematurely writing them off as something I would never like or benefit from. Challenge your assumptions people! You never really know until you try!

The reasons I listed above are just a few possibilities as to why you might feel like your progress has stalled during your fitness journey. Another really viable alternative is that you actually are still making progress; it just might not be reflected by the number staring back at you on the dreaded scale. A lot of the time that number might not be going down because you are building muscle at the same time you are burning fat. Remember muscle is dense and you could be shedding inches off your waist while getting stronger at the same time. If this is the case, ask yourself, “do my clothes fit better?”, “do I have more energy?”, “is my stamina increasing?”. If yes to one or more of those things, you are making progress, and congrats! The scale is by no means the end all be all, remember that!

If you are neither losing pounds nor gaining muscle AND all the things I listed above are not to blame, check things like portion sizes of the meals you are eating, have an honest conversation with yourself about your stress and anxiety levels which if high can be causing weight gain, and of course it is always a good idea to get in and see your doctor in a case like this. Several medical conditions like a low-functioning thyroid, to out of whack hormones, to an overgrowth of yeast in your body could all be to blame here as well. Most importantly, just don’t give up on yourself! Chances are with some small tweaks you can get back on track and continue to reach for and knock out all those awesome health and fitness goals you had set your mind to!



4 Tips to Crush Those AM Workouts!

4 Tips to Crush Those AM Workouts!

I am not by nature a morning person. Never have been, probably never will be. That being said, I have become a huge fan of crushing my workouts first thing in the morning so I can check it off my list and get on with my day. I have fallen so in love with taking care of myself both physically and mentally that waking up a few extra minutes earlier in the morning is a small price to pay to ensure my workouts get done and dusted before the inevitable chaos of the day starts.  

Fairly early on in my health and wellness journey, I realized working out first thing in the morning was what I wanted and needed to do, but like I mentioned above not being someone who naturally jumps out of bed at the crack of dawn meant that I would need a solid plan to ensure I would be able to get my butt out of bed each day with enough time to get my sweat on. So, I began doing a few things to set myself up for success that fast forward almost 4 years later have become a routine I go through each and every day (aside from rest days) that I now wholeheartedly attribute to the success I have found in achieving and maintaining my health and fitness goals.    

As I was working my way through my morning routine this fine morning, I thought maybe it would be helpful to share with you all a few tips I have picked up along the way that enable me to be successful in this part of my journey even though I still don’t consider myself to be a true morning person:

Tip #1: Prepare the Night Before 

The preparations I make the night before are just as if not more important than the things I do each morning to ensure I successfully get up and get moving. These are really easy, commonsense things I do but they truly make all the difference in the world. To start with, I purchased myself a great little automatic coffee maker that I programmed to start brewing at 5:30 am each morning. Not only does this save me time in getting up having to make the coffee then standing there waiting for it to be ready, but the smell of freshly brewed coffee first thing in the AM is almost enough to get me out of bed in and of itself! I load up my Mr. Coffee maker each night, set the timer to start brewing the next morning, and as soon as I get out of bed I head to the kitchen and get my hot cup of coffee and caffeine/pre-workout fuel I need to get my blood flowing.

Another major thing I do the night before is to ensure I know exactly what workout I will be doing the following day so there is no delay in just jumping in and getting it done. This particular step is made so much easier thanks to the home workouts I have been doing for 3+ years now. They take all the guess workout out of what workouts I should be doing and in what order I should be doing them which is a huge help because let’s face it, my brain is never totally awake that early in the morning even if my body is up and moving! I literally just head straight from the kitchen to my living room, press play, and off I go getting a great workout in usually all in about 30 minutes or so.  

Finally, each and every night I make sure I lay out my workout clothes for the next day in advance so again it is one less thing I have to think about when I wake up in the morning. I quickly found that without things like what I am going to wear planned out ahead of time I was wasting precious minutes in the morning trying to get it all together. 

This would then make me feel rushed and like I had to wake up even earlier the next day creating a vicious cycle that could have very easily derailed me. Having all these things ready to go, speeds up the process and lets me focus on getting the best quality workout I can without having to watch the clock because I am worried about time while I am doing it.  

Tip #2 – Set an Alarm and Don’t Hit Snooze!

I learned the importance of this one the hard way after setting multiple alarms, continually hitting snooze, and far too many times falling back asleep just long enough that I wasn’t able to get my workout in because I snoozed right through the entire allotted time. 

After a few too many failures in this department, I decided to not only quit giving myself the option of hitting snooze at all but to move my alarm clock across the room so I would have to get out of bed to turn it off. Let’s face it, the hardest part of getting going in the morning for me anyway is the actual getting out of bed part. So, forcing myself to have to get up to turn my alarm clock off solved that problem for me!

Another happy side effect I have found after making this switch is I am less likely to be on my phone before bedtime and then again first thing in the morning. By placing my phone, aka my alarm clock, across my room before bed I have decreased my screen time which was getting embarrassingly out of hand, and I think I have even improved my quality of sleep as well. Not only do I now avoid that harmful blue light that radiates from our electronics and wreaks havoc on our sleep patterns, but I also have pledged to use that time to read more instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media. I feel so much better about the way I use my time, not to mention I am better rested in the process making it easier to get up and going in the morning!

Tip #3 – Hold Yourself Accountable

I do this in a couple of ways starting with logging my workouts using fun little stickers….yep I love an old fashioned planner that you can write in, draw in, use stickers in, whatever to not only track your workouts but also give yourself a little congrats in the form of a pretty little star each day that you achieve your workout goals. 

I have been doing this since Day 1 along with taking progress pics to keep track of my achievements and remind myself how far I have come and that all the hard work does and is paying off.

I also hold myself accountable by having workout buddies. I have a group of friends who also workout in the mornings and we all text each other to make sure we have gotten up and are crushing our AM goals. This extra layer of accountability outside of myself goes such a long way in the morning when my motivation isn’t super high and the warm comfy bed is harder to get out of. I know I have people out there not only counting on me but rooting for me to succeed so if I don’t always feel like doing it for myself I do it so I don’t let them down. Surrounding yourself with motivated, goal-oriented people chasing after the same things you are in life is a fantastic way to keep going when you may not always feel like it, especially at the crack of dawn!!

Tip #4 – Find Workouts that you Enjoy!

Let’s face it, working out is not always easy. In fact, a lot of the time it is downright tough. If it wasn’t hard though, could we really expect it to change us for the better? 

Probably not. That being said, while we can’t always escape the hard, we don’t have to be miserable the entire time we are doing it either! Find workouts that are enjoyable, maybe even fun but at least engaging enough that you are not obsessively looking at the clock as the minute’s tick by until you can stop.  This has been absolutely key for me in my own journey. I spent almost a year floundering around the gym, not really knowing what I was doing, not seeing much progress, and being pretty darn close to throwing in the towel on the whole thing….once again. When I stumbled upon the workout programs I am doing now everything changed for me. I found myself not only looking forward to working out each day, but a lot of the time smiling while I was doing it! 

I know I know…. sounds crazy right? But I swear to you, I really do enjoy the workouts on this platform and there are so many of them to choose from that I never get bored. I also don’t have to put any thought at all into which workout I should do next or if I am doing the moves correctly because it is all explained and demoed each and every time I press play. Find something that works similarly for you. If you really enjoy running, first of all, that is so impressive because it is like torture for me, but if that’s what floats your boat, go for a run each morning. If you enjoy biking, do that, if you enjoy lifting weights do that. Just find something that you look forward to doing each morning and it will make it that much easier to get your butt in motion.

While working out no matter what time of the day it is, is a great thing, for me working out in the morning has been the ticket to not only achieving but also maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Kick-starting my day with a solid, effective, and efficient workout gives me the energy and focus I need to tackle everything else that is going to be thrown at me and also the satisfaction of knowing I have already completed one major to-do list item. I am also able to focus solely on the workout at hand without my email dinging, my phone ringing, or a meeting popping up that I just have to attend, all of which have the potential to derail even my best efforts. So, if you are struggling to find time to fit in a sweat session or you find yourself starting one but not able to finish it because of all the other things that demand our attention throughout the day, try getting up just a bit earlier and getting it done and over with first thing. After all, the early bird gets the worm, or in this case, the improved health and wellness which I think is something we can all agree is a pretty worthwhile prize!!



Monthly Goal Intention – May is for Macros!

Monthly Goal Intention – May is for Macros!

A big reason I started this practice of setting a monthly goal intention was to hold myself accountable to learning, growing and bettering myself all year long, not just at the beginning of the year for like 30 days or until I got distracted by a million other things that life throws at us. I thought setting a goal each month would re-focus and force me to really take the time out to zero in on something I could be doing better or maybe something I have been meaning to explore or try to implement into my own health and fitness journey.  Well May’s intention falls into the later category of something I have been really interested in learning about and potentially introducing to my new(ish) healthy lifestyle, and that is the idea behind counting macros.

If you are even remotely involved in the health and fitness world, chances are you have heard the term macros at some point and probably also know that people count and track them as part of their nutrition program. That right there was the extent of my knowledge on the subject before I sat down to write this post.  I knew enough to know counting macros was a way to track how much of what nutrients you were eating at any given sitting but not much else.  As I have mentioned before, my main focus these days is to really get my nutrition in line.  I have found, fallen in love with, and gotten great results from a pretty full-proof workout program that I can do at home which has really saved me considering the current circumstances we are living under (for more info on these workouts click here!), so I have really turned my attention to bettering how and what I am eating.  While I have cleaned up my diet substantially since my drive thru for every meal day’s, I feel like I am still pretty far away from where I want to be.  With my workout program, there is no guess work.  I show up, press play and the platform takes literally all of the researching, planning and guesswork out of my hands.  Unfortunately, when it comes to my nutrition, being left to my own devices hasn’t been working out as well for me.

One of my main goals for this year is to build more muscle.  In order to do that I knew for sure I was going to have to up my protein intake and balance out how many carbs I have been eating.  The problem was I had no idea how many grams of proteins, carbs, fat, etc. I was actually taking in and what my target numbers should be.  Enter tracking my macros!  I had heard plenty of people talking about doing this as a way to ensure they are getting the proper mix of nutrients to meet their own goals so I figured this would be a good place to start to get myself on track and take a more scientific approach to my own nutrition.

I thought I would share here today a basic overview of what I learned through doing my own research in case you all might be interested in this topic of counting and tracking macros as well.  Let start at the beginning with….

What are macros?

The term macros itself is short for MACRONUTRIENTS.  Macronutrients are in essence tiny little molecules that our bodies rely on to give us energy and are what make up the calorie content of our food.  The three main categories of macros that you want to be aware of are:


YOU NEED CARBS! Let me say that again….YOUR BODY NEEDS CARBS!  They are not the enemy and should not be treated as such.  Here again it is time for a disclaimer….when I talk about stuff like this I am referring to most people.  If you have underlying medical conditions, food allergies, are on some certain types of medication, etc. this may not apply to you, but in general what I am talking about applies to the majority of the population.  Ok, back to carbs.  While carbs often get a bad rap as a major contributor to all of our weight gaining issues, really they are the most important energy source our body has.  When we take them in, our bodies break them down into sugar and we use that to fuel just about everything we do, especially those high intensity workouts that I have really grown to love.  On top of giving us all that energy they also make us happy! 😊  Yep, carbs are linked to the production of serotonin in our bodies which as you may have guessed is the hormone that makes us feel happy!  Now of course there are good carbs and not so good carbs.  For instance, fruits, veggies, beans, lentil = good carbs.  Cookies, candy, fruity beverages, chips, french fries = bad carbs.  Put the good in, get the good energy, happy feelings out!


Fantastic for building muscle but did you know it also does some other pretty cool and not to mention important things for our bodies? Like what you, ask?  Well it helps to transport oxygen through our bloodstream which creates energy for us.  It also helps to build and repair our tissues and muscles, makes enzymes in our bodies which power our chemical reactions like hormone production and release and also regulates blood sugar to prevent insulin spikes. Not to mention protein is a building block of such things like our hair, nails, bones and even skin.   As a bonus, eating protein even makes us feel fuller with less food!  When we ingest protein it actually slows our digestion down, keeping the food in us for longer and then of course in turn making us feel fuller longer.


Fat, just like carbs, gets a bad wrap but we do need to intake a certain amount of it to keep our bodies happy. It has some of the same benefits that protein does in that it helps to stabilize blood sugar and is also slower to digest which keeps us fuller longer.  Now fat does have a higher calorie count than both protein and carbohydrates so you have to be careful not to over do it, but it does also help in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K which in turn does promote healthy weight loss.  Fat also does wonders to keep our bodies insulated and our temperatures maintained as well as our hormones regulated and in addition it helps to promote brain and nerve health.  Sources of good fat are nuts, avocado and fatty fishes.

How do you go about counting them?

Counting macros can be a little tricky but a good place to start is knowing how many calories are in 1 gram of each of the three types.  The breakdown goes like this:

Chart 1.2

Now that we know that, another good piece of information to keep in mind is the general recommendations for how much of each nutrient to try to shoot for each day.  While individual goals may differ from person to person depending on what you are trying to achieve, in general it is recommended that adults aim for the following:

Chart 2

Now, for instance, if you are like me and are focused on building more muscle while staying lean, you might want to shoot for something more like this:

Chart 3

If you are simply focused on losing weight, this is what is recommended:

Chart 4

So let’s say you shoot to intake about 2000 calories a days.  If you were following the guidelines that I am for adjusting your macros to gain more muscle, that would mean that 40% of your 2000 calories should come from protein, 35% from carbs and 25% from fat.  Once you decide on that, the next step is to break down those percentages into how many grams of each nutrient that equates to, which would look something like this:

Carbs:          .40% x 2000 calories = 800 calories from carbs

Protein:        .35% x 2000 calories = 700 calories from protein

Fat:               .25% x 2000 calories = 500 calories from fat

But wait, there’s more….you then have to take the total calories and divide them by how many calories  per gram each nutrient has in it to get how many grams you should be eating each day.

Carbs:          800 calories ÷ 4 calories/gram = 200 grams

Protein:        700 calories ÷ 4 calories/gram = 175 grams

Fat:               500 calories ÷ 9 calories/gram = 56 grams

Whew ok, that was a lot of math and I am not a fan of math.  It was my least favorite subject in school and the only class I ever got a C in.  I’m ashamed of that till this day, but luckily for me we live in a world where instead of pulling out my #2 pencil and graphing calculator every time I want to track my macros, I can pick up my trusty smartphone and download any number of apps to do all the hard work for me!  There are lots of app choices out to help you count and track your macros, but the top 3 I have come across in terms of popularity are:

  • MyMacros+ (This is the one I use!)
  • MyFitnessPal
  • LoseIt!

The basic idea is that you enter in all your stats, like age, weight, activity level, etc. to get set up and then you record what you eat throughout the day.  Out pops a nice little pie chart like the ones above that tell you where your numbers fell that day.  The first couple days I started using the MyMacros+ app I was pretty surprised how far off target I was in terms of my protein intake.  Even though I do consume a superfood protein shake a day and eat a good amount of fish and veggies I was still coming in lower than I needed to be to build the muscle I want.  I have since started to sneak more protein rich items into my daily meal plan and am slowly getting closer to hitting my numbers.

Pluses and Minuses to Tracking Macros


  • Much more purposeful eating – I am finding this is a HUGE benefit for me! I think a lot more about what I am going to eat now during the day because I know I will have to track it in my little app and I want my calories to count.  It’s not that I didn’t want that before, but there is definitely another level of accountability when you are actually logging your food choices in and can see how well you are doing throughout the day.
  • It’s sustainable and flexible without being restrictive – I can still eat things I like such as my dark chocolate and occasional glass of red wine so it doesn’t’ feel at all like I am dieting because well I simply am not. Where counting macros differs from counting calories is you not counting how many calories you are eating, instead you are focusing on what type of calories you intake to make sure you are getting the proper mix of nutrients.  You can still indulge in treat foods if you build them properly into your count which is the part that makes this technique sustainable where traditional calorie-restrictive diets in my opinion are not.
  • You can lose weight or gain muscle depending on how you tailor your numbers This is an actual tool to help you achieve your goals! Much like my workout programs that have been developed by actual fitness professionals and only require me to show up and press play, counting macros takes a scientific approach to nutrition and the guesswork out of it almost completely.  I now know exactly how much of what I should be eating each day and if I find myself off track throughout the day I can load up on what I am missing and/or cut back on what I am getting too much of to keep myself aligned with my goals.
  • Ensures you are getting the right mix of nutrients to maintain a healthy lifestyle – Tracking and counting macros is a great tool to ensure you are getting the right mix of nutrients in order to reach your weight loss and/or body goals. But aesthetics’ aside, getting the proper mix of nutrients is important for a variety of other health reasons as well. Hitting your macro goals each day ensures your immune system is functioning optimally (super important right now, don’t ya think?!), gives your metabolism a boost and also increases your energy levels.  And just as a side note, while there are a variety of supplements you can take to help meet you numbers, it is always best to get your nutrients through food simply because you body can more easily and effectively absorb them.


  • Potential to trigger disordered eating – If you have a history with or a tendency towards disordered eating, counting macros might not be a great idea. While it is not about restriction, you are focusing on the calories in everything you eat.  Being that focused on food could be a slippery slope if you are someone who has struggled with an eating disorder in the past.
  • If you don’t set proper goals you can end up missing the mark nutritionally speaking – Like I mentioned above, you can still build in food you enjoy eating as long as it fits into your numbers for the day. What you need to be careful of is that you are eating foods that not only fit into your goal numbers but are also good, quality sources of the nutrients you are aiming for.  For instance, as I mentioned above there are good, complex carbs and bad carbs, good, healthy fats and bad fats.  If you are eating the right amount of carbs but they are all coming from “junk” food like potato chips and cookies well then you really aren’t doing yourself much good.  Try to eat as many whole foods as possible and stay as far away from the processed foods as you can!
  • Be careful of nutrient deficiency – Much like eating the wrong kind of foods, you need to be careful your macro goals don’t lead you down a path where you are restricting one or several kinds of foods too much and in turn become deficient in certain nutrients. Nutrient deficiency can wreak all kinds of havoc on your body from causing fatigue to having brittle hair, nails and bones, to even causing personality changes and anxiety and depression.  Make sure you are still eating a well-balanced diet while trying to keep in line with your goal numbers.

It’s always a good idea to speak with a doctor or nutritionist before starting any kind of eating/meal plan but I hope you were able to learn something about what macros are and how useful it can be to track and count them from the info above. I sure learned a lot writing this and as I have been tracking my own macros now for about a week I have learned a lot about how far having the right information at hand can go when trying to meet my own goals.  I feel so much more empowered now to make better food choices simply because I am paying so much more attention to the quality of the food I am eating.  I feel like with this new tool I am on track to eat more consistently, reach my goals quicker, and even get to know my body better.  Knowledge is definitely power when it comes to our health you guys! The more you know the better able you are to live the healthiest, happiest and most fulfilling life possible!




Taking back some control….

Taking back some control….

Right now more than ever, we may be struggling with feeling like we are out of control.  At least where I live, we have been under stay-at-home orders for a while now.  I haven’t been able to see my family, friends or my co-workers for almost 6 weeks. I am working from home, eating at home, spending my weekends at home, remaining six feet away from most other humans, and even limiting how much I am going out to the few places we can still go like grocery stores just to minimize any risk.  Most of the time, honestly though, I am pretty ok.  I am staying plenty busy with work throughout the week and on the weekends, I have really tried to be productive by cleaning, organizing and fixing up my house, studying for my upcoming exam and of course I am staying consistent with my workouts and nutrition.  But I have had moments where the isolation does gets to me.  There are times it just seems too quiet around here and almost like the walls are closing in.  In those moments, I quickly remind myself that while I can’t control everything that is happening around me, I still do have the power to control a whole heck of a lot.

So today I wanted to share some of things I focus on when the uncertainty of these times and maybe a little claustrophobia starts to creep.  I make a conscious effort to shift my focus from dwelling on what I don’t have the power to dictate to what I do, such as:

My attitude

I can decide to be positive or negative. I remind myself this too shall pass and life will get back to normal.  Dwelling on all the things we can’t do right now doesn’t make anything better.  I am busy making plans for when we are able to roam around freely again which gives me positive goals to focus on and steps to take right now to achieve those goals. I made a pact with myself when this all started that I was going to remain positive, focused, and driven.  Having a positive mindset allows my energy levels and confidence to stay highly, helps me to be more productive at work and makes me an easier and more pleasant person to deal with in all of my relationships…besides being negative in my opinion can just be flat out draining! SMILE you guys, the world needs as much positivity and joy as we can radiate right now!

My physical health

I decide every single day to move my body. I either do my home workouts, go for a long walk with my pups or a run in my neighborhood, or a combo of all the above. Staying healthy has never been more important you guys. Help your immune system out and try to be active for at least 30 minutes a day (for more info on helping out our immune systems, check out my recent post, “Staying Healthy…How can we help our immune systems right now?” If you can get outside, even better! Get some steps in, your heart rate up and as a bonus get a healthy dose of Vitamin D while you are at it!  Not only is this so important for your physical well-being, but I find the positive effects it has on my mental well-being might be even more valuable right now! Just the change of scenery alone does wonders for my frame of mind each day!

What I eat

I have made a conscious decision to stock my fridge, freezer and pantry with 90% healthy food and 10% treat food. I find if I set myself up for success by limiting how much junk food I have access to I am far more successful in meeting my nutritional goals.  Plus, I continue to make it a point to have my daily Superfood Shake which again goes a long was in supporting my immune system and filing in all those nutritional holes I might be otherwise lacking in my every day diet. One of the silver linings to this time at home is I have been exploring a lot of new recipes (I am working on getting the good ones them up on this site shortly!) and have really been enjoying the process of cooking.  I am exploring yummy new ways to cook with some of my favorite healthy ingredients, like the lasagna I made with cauliflower yesterday,  and as a bonus I am finding cooking to be a really great stress-relieving activity for me and something that brings a really nice sense of calm into my life right now.  I would call that a WIN WIN!

My effort levels

This could be effort that I am putting into taking care of myself, or effort I am putting into my job, my relationships, or a many number of other things.  What is important to focus on is knowing I have complete control over how much of my energy I am delegating and to what I am putting it into.  I am a firm believer that life gives you back what you give it.  If you give it 100% you will see amazing results.  If you give it less, you really can’t be disappointed when you get less back.  I am continuing to focus my efforts as much as possible on bettering myself during this time so again when we come out the other side, I am stronger and in a better place than when we went into it.

My mental health

While I know we can’t always control how our brains react to things, there are ways I can try to promote a healthy mental state. I have been making it a point to practice at least 15-20 minutes of yoga or Pilates each day which has really been helping me to slow down my mind and stay present in the moment more.  I also know when I start to feel overwhelmed or anxiety creeping in it is a good time to pickup the phone and talk to a family member or friend.  Getting outside each day for about an hour has also done wonders to keep my head clear and in a good place. Besides, it always makes me happy and puts an actual smile on my face to see how much my dogs are loving our new, longer daily walks!

How often I practice self-care 

Supporting my mental health also means indulging in some self care every so often. I have made it a point to take a much-needed Epsom salt bath at least once a week these days which does wonders not only to relax me but also to help my sore muscles recover after the workouts I am subjecting them to.  I also have been de-cluttering and organizing my house a lot which may sound weird for a self-care practice but has made me feel a ton better about my surroundings and also happy that I am using my time productively. Self-care isn’t selfish you guys.  You need to take care of yourself before you can even begin to think about taking care of others.  That old saying really is true, you cannot pour from an empty cup!

How thankful I am

I remind myself constantly about how thankful I am for things like my health and the health of my friends and family, but I also make it a point to tell other people that I am thankful for them. I usually am pretty good with “Please” and “Thanks You’s” but I am particularly aware of some of the sacrifices people are making right now to keep things going for us.  I am talking about the store clerks, delivery drivers and especially the healthcare workers who are going above and beyond right now and are on the front lines of this pandemic.  I am trying to say an extra loud THANK YOU to all these people when I do interact with them as their sacrifice is not lost on me at all.

My breath 

My anxiety has improved dramatically over the last two years since I committed to staying on top of my fitness and nutrition, but it is only natural that in the crazy times we are living through right now anxiety levels would be slightly more elevated than normal. I have really come to rely on controlling my breath when anxiety starts to creep in these days. As soon as I feel even a little twinge of being overwhelmed, I make a conscious effort to stop what I am doing and take a few deep, cleansing breaths.  Almost instantly, I feel much calmer and more centered.  Breathe in, breathe out and focus on just being in the moment until your mind calms down.

What I put my time into

I made a very deliberate decision that while I was spending so much time at home, I would seriously limit screen time. While I am normally not a big TV watcher, I knew with the extra time on my hands it would be easy to fall into a bad habit of turning it on and losing hours of my life in front of it.  Instead I made up my mind to put my energy into doing things that would get me close to my goals once this whole thing is over.  I am studying, writing, reading even doing puzzles instead of watching TV and of course staying as physically active as possible.

What I do if at first I don’t succeed

Failure is part of life you all. No one is perfect and honestly it would be a little boring if we were.  I fail constantly. I failed a million times before I found a workout program that clicked for me. I failed a bunch of times trying to find a healthy relationship with food.  I have failed in my inner-personal relationships, at work, in school but my mindset has really grown to accept these failures as learning experiences. If I can come out the other side of a failure having grown as a person, it really isn’t a failure at all.  Now I put my all into everything I attempt and if I succeed great, if I don’t, I learn.  Just fail forward you guys, don’t beat yourselves up too much and keep on trucking towards whatever goal you have in sight!

Who and what influences me 

Unfortunately not everyone is going to be your cheerleader. I have definitely come across people since I have started on my health and fitness journey that just don’t understand what I’m doing or why I am doing it. They haven’t necessarily been working against me, just not exactly for me.  These are the people I try to encourage to join me in some fashion, either in doing a virtual workout with me or trying one of my healthy recipes that have become a staple of my meal plan or even by giving them a packet of my superfood shake to try for themselves.  If they don’t bite, I smile, tell them I am always here if they change their minds and go about chasing after my own goals.  After all, I am not doing this for anyone else.  This journey is about me and for me.  I hope to be able to inspire others along the way but I don’t take it personally if I can’t reach everyone!

How open I am to learning

A big part of growing up, is learning that you really never stop learning. Over the past couple years especially, I have been so open to learning as much as I can about as many things as I can, and I have been loving every second of it!  I don’t know about you all, but as a teenager and really well into my twenties…ok ok, maybe even my 30’s, I was pretty convinced I had everything all figured out.  I was going to do things my way no matter how many people, facts, or signs life was giving me telling me I was wrong. But since I humbled myself enough about two years ago to realize I needed to do a ton of research to figure out how to best live a healthy lifestyle, I have fallen back in love with learning and take every opportunity I can to expand my mind.  One of the mantras I now live by is, never stop learning!

How often I ask for and accept help 

We all need it sometimes. And there is no shame in that at all.  This was also another hard lesson I had to learn probably because I am too stubborn for my own good most of the time and like to be able to do everything myself, but that is just not real life.  Whether it’s that we just need some emotional support, someone to talk to, a helping hand with a work problem, or a relationship issue, or something more tangible like help moving or changing a tire, there is no shame in being a little vulnerable every now and then.  Instead of seeing this as a sign of weakness like many of us for some reason might, we should see this as the incredible sign of strength that it is.  Be open to both giving and receiving help and I bet you will find fulfillment in both!

One other thing I am controlling these days is how much I watch/listen to the news.  I find it to be pretty negative if not down right scary a lot of the time so I choose to tune most of it out because I know if there is something major I need to find out a friend or family member will let me know what’s going on anyway.  Along with limiting exposure to potentially alarming information and the things I already listed above, there are a ton of other things I can also control such as how neat my home is, how many times I call my family and friends to check in on them, how honest I am with myself and others, how many times a day I smile 😊, how I am spending my money, how open and non-judgmental I am, and that’s just to name a few!  Things happen you guys. We can’t always avoid bad situations or prevent negative events from occurring but where our control lies is in how we react to these things.  Do we give negative feelings, emotions, events and even people our time and energy, or do we shift our focus to either learning from these negative sources and growing because of them or ignoring them altogether and finding instead something positive to focus on.  Take control where you can, use it to improve your own life and keep looking and moving forward…after all that is this the direction life is taking us so lets make it the best, happiest and most fulfilling ride possible!

Keep staying healthy and safe you guys!!



What makes this time different?

What makes this time different?

In asking that question,  I am trying to get to the bottom of why I have been able to make a meaningful lifestyle change that has enabled me to reach my health and fitness goals this time around when all the other times I previously attempted it, I failed quickly and spectacularly?  Why am I so motivated to stick with it this time? Why have I been able to commit to and complete 5 different but equally challenging workout programs over the last two years?  Why am I able to continue to pick that steamed vegetable side over the side of fries (most of the time 😊) that I used to order or to choose to take the stairs over the elevator every time that is possible?  And most of all, why am I enjoying the process so, so much these days that I can’t even imagine ever going back to the way I was living?

In order to answer those questions properly, we need to back it up.  I mean wayyyy up.  Like back to the beginning of my story when smart phones weren’t a thing, we had to look at paper maps to figure out how to get somewhere new, and the closest thing to Google we had was the card catalog at our local library.  Man, those were the days.  Also, yes I am that old.  But anyway, having put some thought into this whole question of why this time has been different, I realized that back when I was growing up is really the last time up until now that I can remember genuinely enjoying being active and healthy.   I played sports from day one pretty much.  I learned to swim before I could walk and was in the pool on a swim team my entire childhood.  On top of that, I played basketball, softball, ran cross country, and even played a bit of soccer all throughout elementary, middle and high school.  And I loved every minute of it.  I loved getting up at 4am to get in the pool for practice before school.  I loved the 7am swim meets on Saturday’s even though a lot of the time the water was absolutely freezing.  I loved practicing every day after school. I loved practicing on the weekends with my dad. I loved competing, not only as part of a team but against myself.

While I am no longer competing to win a blue ribbon at a swim meet, or practicing my little ass off to get that starting point guard post on the varsity team, I am competing against myself every single day to be better than I was the day before. That competitive spark is back in me and more than anything these days I don’t want to let myself down.  Even back when I was growing up, it’s not that I liked to beat other people so much as I like to prove things to myself.  I like to work as hard as I possibly can and see the fruits of my labor being realized.  I like to push myself further than I thought I could go to prove to I am capable of doing hard things.  But that competitive spark didn’t just randomly decide to reignite because let me tell you before this last time, I tried and failed many, many times to get and stay healthy and in shape.

After my teenage years when I went off to college and beyond there were suddenly no more teams to join.  No more teammates relying on me to get up early and get my ass in the pool.  No more medals to win or PR’s to break.  This is when the struggle became real. This is when the fun stopped.  My weight fluctuated.  I tried starvation diets.  I tried endless hours of cardio.  Then I would get frustrated, swing the other way, and eat anything I wanted without setting foot inside a gym for months at a time.  There were times I was so thin it was scary and there were times I was much heavier than I wanted to be, and let me tell you, neither one of those versions of myself were healthy.  Two years ago, that all changed.  I finally had enough of the yo-yoing. I wanted to lose ten pounds, get my mental health under control and make a real, lasting lifestyle change. I knew it would be different this time because I wasn’t giving myself the option of failing.  I even remember exactly where I was when I made this commitment to myself.  Crazy the things we remember in life, huh?

That day started about a 6-month long process of doing exactly what I had done in my previous attempts to lose weight which was pretty much not eating a lot and finding the closest treadmill and making it my best friend.  Can anyone guess what happened next?  If you said I almost threw in the towel because the process was tedious and not sustainable you would be 100% correct.  But this time I had real motivation on my side so instead of giving up I doubled down.  I knew I needed to shift the way I was eating and working out to find a long-term solution, not a short-term fix.  So what did I do?  Well, it was a combination of a few things that I want to share below just in case someone out there is reading this and is on the verge of giving up and/or debating if it’s even worth starting again.  Just keep reading a few minutes longer and maybe some of the mindset shifts I made this time around will help you as well:

I found the fun again!

Like I talked about above, wayyy back in the day, exercising and being healthy was fun for me. I knew I needed to find that enjoyment again if I had any chance of achieving my goals for long term success.  I found that fun in the at-home workout programs that have changed my life!  I credit these programs with a large part of the success that I have had over the past two years because they are challenging in way that I can’t even describe but also so much fun to do!  There is also a ton of variety….everything from yoga, to Pilates, weightlifting, HIIT, tai chi, cardio, boxing, Plyo, you name it and I would be willing to bet you can find it on this workout platform.  I was the biggest skeptic going into this you guys.  I thought no way am I going to be able to achieve my goals, let alone enjoy working out from my living room! I also knew, however, that what I had been doing wasn’t working and I was rapidly headed for yet another failed attempt so really, what did I have to lose?  Not to mention several of my friends, family members and even two co-workers of mine swore by these programs, so I signed up, pressed play, and I can honestly say it was one of the best decisions I have ever made for myself!  These programs are also keeping me sane right now in the midst of all the craziness going on around us!  I have not missed a beat with my health and fitness goals because I am able to do these workouts at home.  In case you are interested, I will link my top three favorite programs I have done so far as well as where you can you find the free trial of ten of the latest workouts below:

Click to access FREE_BOD_Workouts_Int_20200319.pdf

I realized it was a combination of eating right and exercising. 

You really can’t have one without the other when you are trying to get healthy.   You can read a little more about this in a post I wrote a while back called, It Takes Two…, but the gist is nutrition and fitness go hand in hand.  If you are looking to create a meaningful lifestyle change you have to be consistent with your workouts and on top of what you are eating.  My genius idea in my previous attempts to get skinny was to eat as little as possible.  Like I am talking a handful of crackers a day, which most days would be just enough to keep me from passing out.  I literally cringe when I think how dumb, and not to mention, reckless I was back then.  I realized this time around it wasn’t at all about getting skinny.  It was about getting healthy.  Now every meal I eat I try to do so with intention and the purpose of fueling body with the nutrients it needs not only to be healthy but to maximize the efforts I am putting in with my workouts.  The more I move, the more I need to eat.  I see food as an ally now.  I use it to help me feel and look my best and most importantly I finally have a healthy relationship with food these days.  I don’t weigh myself at all.  I eat when I am hungry and I stop when I’m full.  My energy levels are up, my sleep quality is a ton better, my anxiety is all but gone and as a bonus my pants fit well which goes a long way in assuring me that my fitness and nutrition are both on point!

I educated myself.

And still am! I put away the mentality that I knew everything I needed to know about how to get my butt in shape and I started researching.  And I continue to do it to this day.  There is so much information out there about living a healthy lifestyle I will probably never be able to absorb even a fraction of it but I try to learn something new every day.  These days I am mostly working on learning about nutrition because that is my weaker point.  The workout programs I follow take the guesswork out of how to get in shape, how to lift properly, how to maximize your efforts, etc. so my focus is now on learning how to fuel my body properly. Currently, I am trying to educate myself about macros because I don’t think I am eating enough protein to achieve the next goals on my list. The point is I humbled myself enough to ask questions and most importantly to challenge my assumptions.  A perfect example of this is I swore by endless hours of cardio for weight loss until I discovered from listening to other people and doing my own research how amazing weightlifting is to shed those unwanted pounds and get leaner.  Take your health into your own hands you guys and invest time into learning how to properly manage it.   Read articles, study what other people who have been successful are doing, get to know your body and body type, have clear goals and make a plan about how to achieve them in a smart, safe and healthy manner.

I was patient.

I stuck with it long enough this time that I got over that hurdle of wanting to quit and started to see change happening. I quickly realized that a fatal flaw of mine in the last several go arounds was I was looking for a quick fix, not a long-term solution. This lesson was probably the hardest one on this for me to get through my thick skull as I am not a patient person by nature, but I knew from all my failure before that I had to become one.  I finally recognized that meaningful change was not going to happen overnight, but it would happen if I showed up every day for myself and put the effort in. I continued to work on my goals even on the days and sometimes weeks that I didn’t see any progress being made because even though I couldn’t see the changes happening, I could feel them. I actually think I noticed the change in my mental and emotional health long before I saw any weight fall off or muscles start to form.  Just feeling better, happier, and more calm gave me all the incentive I needed to keep going.  Eventually the weight started to come off and I could see the outward changes as well.  While it feels like I woke up one day and suddenly saw all my hard work starting to pay off, in reality it was happening from day one.  You guys, this is a slow process, especially in the beginning but quitting won’t make it happen any faster!  Stick with it, find enjoyment in the process and just know changes are happening each and every day.

All of that being said, I don’t what you to think that I wake up every single day feeling like I want to go run a marathon or lift weights until I can’t move anymore.  And I sure as heck don’t wake up every morning being thankful that I am going to walk into my kitchen and find my superfood protein powder instead of donuts, but the majority of the time I really enjoy the process of living a healthy lifestyle these days.   I have found the fun again and my competitive nature is back in full effect.   I am motivated to keep going so as not to let myself down.  And what’s more, is even on the days my motivation isn’t there, my dedication still is.  I am dedicated to maintaining the results I have gotten thus far and building on them to achieve bigger and better goals.  I have put in a lot of hard work to get where I have over the last several years and I have no plans on letting up. And my experiences in getting to this point are also why I am here today, and why I started this blog. I think so many other people out there have been where I have been.  Where we start, stop, start, stop and start and stop workouts or diets or a combination of both over and over and over again until we are so frustrated we end up not even starting anymore.  Break that cycle and stick with it you guys please!!   Write out your goals, post them somewhere you have to look at them every day and make a conscious decision that nothing will get in your way of achieving them!  And guys, make it fun because life is entirely too serious otherwise!

Hope you all are staying safe and healthy!!!





Monthly Goal Intention – February

Monthly Goal Intention – February

Welcome to February lovelies!  As I mentioned in my last post, my plan for this year is to set one specific goal each month that has to do with something I want to work on in my health and fitness journey.  Last month, I really wanted to re-dedicate myself to betting my nutrition.  I am happy to report I am back to cooking and meal-prepping more, drinking my superfood shake each and every day and really paying attention to limiting processed and prepackaged foods a lot more than I was. So on to February’s goal…this month l I really want to work on my flexibility!  Man, this is a tough one for me.  I have been saying I am going to stretch more and do more flexibility work for like a year now but I am not going to lie, I have not been at all consistent with it, like at all.  Soooo that being said, February = Flexibility Awareness Month!  I am re-committing to this very important goal of mine because let’s face it, I am not getting any younger or more limber.  In fact, just the opposite unfortunately, so consistently stretching is only becoming more and more imperative to my overall health.

It seems to me that flexibility is somewhat overlooked and undervalued when it comes to a well-rounded health and fitness plan.  Most people, myself included, seem to be focused solely on strength training and/or cardiovascular training.  While I personally strive to get a good mix of both of those things, I am definitely guilty of not placing enough emphasis on the importance to stretching everyday. Even though the majority of my workouts come from the amazing programs I follow and do right from my living room, I am somewhat ashamed to say that I often fast forward through either the warm up or cool down aspects of each workout even though they are included in each day’s routine.  I do make sure to take part in the days where either Pilates or Yoga are on the schedule and very much look forward to and enjoy those days, but I don’t do enough flexibility work outside of that.   So other than just getting older and less nimble I wanted to take a second to remind myself and any of you out there who are lazy stretchers as well why this is so important for us to starting doing on a regular basis.  Consistently stretching and becoming more flexible will:

  • Prevent Injuries! – This is a big one you guys. Consistently stretching helps to improve the range of motion of your joints and the higher the range the less stress is put on them when exerting pressure on them during a workout.  The less strain on your muscles the less chance you will actually strain one of them.  And we all know how painful and sidelining a strained muscle can be.  Anyone ever strain a muscle in your back?  OUCH to say the least!  Happened to me one time because I didn’t stretch before a rock climbing workout and I basically couldn’t stand up for two days!  If I had taken the time to stretch before jumping on the wall I would be willing to be it wouldn’t have happened or at least it wouldn’t have been so debilitating.
  • Promote Circulation – Stretching does wonders for keeping your blood flowing well. Doing some low-impact, low-intensity stretching can get your heart rate and body temperature up which promotes a healthy blood flow.  Healthy circulation is super important for getting oxygen to all your vital organs helping them to function properly.  Healthy blood circulation is also crucial for helping the body remove waste which is obviously vital for good health!!
  • Improve Posture – This is especially important to all of us who sit at a desk for hours on end! In this day and age where we all seem to be hunched over a screen for a large part of each day, being aware of our posture and working on it whenever we can is really important.  Stretching is a great way to take some time out each day and work on lengthening and elongating our spines.  Being hunched over for too long can create tight muscles especially in the mid to lower back and chest areas.  This can lead to not only poor posture but stiffness and even pain.  Consistently stretching these areas as well as strengthening your core muscles can elevate back pain as well as lead to much better posture.
  • Decrease Stress – And who doesn’t need some help in this area?!? I know I am always looking for ways to decrease the amount of stress I am feeling on any given day.  Stress is so bad for our health, not only out mental health but also our physical health.  Taking ten or so minutes out of my day to stretch my tense muscles and really focus on my breathing does wonders for my mental state.  Stretching on a regular basis has been shown to reduce overall tension and even lessen feelings of anxiety and depression.  Besides all the physical benefits that you will be getting with a good stretching session, feeling calmer and more relaxed at the end of it is almost like the cherry on top!

Now that we know why stretching consistently is so important, I wanted to share a few of the basic stretches that I have started to incorporate into my daily health and fitness routine.  It is really important to hit the major muscle groups when thinking about what and how to stretch.  Although we have tons and tons of different muscles all over our bodies,  if you target the major ones you maximize your efforts and be doing your body a true service.   Some examples of the major groups to aim for are your leg muscles such as your calves, hamstrings and quads.  Your hip flexors are also a really good group to target as they do a lot for your strength, stability and athletic performance.  As far as your upper body goes, focusing on your neck, shoulders and upper back as targets will do wonders for to ward off pain, help with pain relief if you already have it and as I mentioned before will go a long way in improving and maintaining proper posture.  Something to keep in mind…. stretching shouldn’t hurt!  You should feel some resistance and even tension but not pain!!  Ok so now let’s actually get to it!  See below for five of my favorite beginners stretches:

  • Butterfly StretchThis is a great beginner stretch because it is easy to do and targets several muscle groups at the same time! All this move requires is for you to sit on the floor, bring the soles of your feet together and slowly bend at the waist brining your chest as far down to the floor as possible.  Now when I first began doing this stretch on a regular basis, I wasn’t able to bend over very far so a great way to ease into it is instead of bending over just simply press your knees down to the floor with your hands and hold for anywhere from 15-30 seconds then repeat for 3 rounds while sitting up as straight as you can.  As you progress and get a little more flexible, you can then start to incorporate the bending at the waist for an even deeper stretch.  As I mentioned, this stretch is really effective because it targets your glutes, lower back and thighs all at once!
  • Cat and Cow Stretch – This one feels amazing on your back and is one of my faves!! You want to start in the tabletop position with your wrists directly under you shoulders and knees right under your hips.  Inhale as you arch your back up toward the ceiling for the cat position.  Picture a scared cat here and you will understand why this is called the cat position!  Hold there for about 10 seconds and then exhale as you release.  To move into the cow portion of this stretch, simply drop your stomach toward the floor as you lift your chin up toward the ceiling.  Hold here for about ten seconds then repeat the whole sequence several times.  Bonus!  This move also helps strengthen your abs so you are not only loosening and lengthening your back muscles but also working on your core!
  • Hamstring Stretch – Another one of my favorite stretches targets your hamstrings, which are the big muscles located on the back of thighs. My hamstrings are always tight so I have really made an effort to get a good stretch of these guys in daily.  To target these muscles a good simple stretch can be done standing up by simply crossing one foot over the other and slowly bending down as far you can toward your toes.  You want to keep your knees as straight as possible without locking them.  Hold this position for 15 to 20 seconds then repeat on the other side by uncrossing your feet and then re-crossing them with the opposite foot over the other this time around.  Don’t forget to breathe while holding the pose!!  You can also stretch your hamstrings from the seated position by sitting with your legs straight out in front of you and slowly bending forward at the waist reaching for your toes.  Again, keep your knees straight but not locked.  Hold for 15– 20 seconds again and then repeat 3 to 5 times as needed.
  • Hip Flexor LungeMuch like the Hamstring Stretch, this is another one that feels great and also targets multiple muscle groups. It is especially important to stretch your hip flexors if you sit the majority of the day because sitting for prolonged periods of time shortens up these muscles and can lead to major back pain.  All you need to do to get a good stretch of your hips is start in the kneeling position on the floor with one knee out in front of the other one at 90 degrees.  From this position you want to slowly push your pelvis forward leaning forward as far as you comfortably can.  Hold this position for 15-30 seconds and repeat on the other side.  You want to make sure you are keeping your back flat at all times in order to get the most out of the movement.  To add a little something extra, you can also take one arm up in the air (the arm that is on the side of your body where your leg is bent backward) and do a slight side bend as well.   That just opens everything up a little more!
  • Seated Triceps Stretch – Equally as important as stretching your lower body, is getting a good stretch in for your upper body. While this move targets your triceps, it is also very effective for loosening and lengthening your shoulders, upper back and neck muscles.  This is a super easy move that you can actually do sitting down or standing up.  If you are sitting just begin by coming up to your knees while making sure to keep your back nice and flat and tall.  Bring one arm up and bend at the elbow to place your hand at the top of your upper back.  With the other arm, grab the hand of the bent arm and slowly pull down as far as you can to activate the stretch.  Hold for 15-30 seconds and simply repeat on the other side.

Hopefully that info above is a good reminder for us all as to why stretching and flexibility is so important and just how easy it is to accomplish.  For me, I know I need to work on slowing down and taking the time to actually just do it.  I am often rushing from one thing to the next (like we all are) and as much as I have grown to really enjoy working out, I am still anxious to get it started and finished because my to-do list seems never ending!  The beautiful thing about stretching though is you can do it just about anywhere and everywhere!  It is obviously a good idea to stretch before and after a workout, but I find a good stretch first thing in the morning as well as midway through the day can also do wonders for our bodies and minds.   And all you really need is about ten minutes to dedicate to becoming a more flexible, healthier human.  So lets make February the month we all spend a little more time becoming more limber.  Do some of the beginner stretches I mentioned above while you are sitting in front of the TV at night, take ten minutes on your lunch break and stretch it out with a co-worker, hit up a local Pilates or Yoga class or stream a flexibility workout right form your living room like I do!  Just get to it and if you have any favorite stretches or discover some along the way feel free to reach out and share!  Happy February y’all! 😊



Guest Post! via – Handling Injuries as an Elite Athlete

Guest Post! via – Handling Injuries as an Elite Athlete

Hi y’all!  I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce a new friend of mine, Adam Lambert, who is a pretty kick-ass professional snowboarder.  While I love to snowboard I am pretty terrible at it, like it’s a minor miracle if I can keep myself upright for more than a few feet, so I have a ton of respect for people like Adam who have the skills to compete at the level that he is. 

Unfortunately, recently he was sidelined with a pretty gnarly injury that he will describe below but he is using his setback to try to help other people, athletes and non-athletes, cope if and when they find themselves dealing with their own injuries.  Even if you are like me and just enjoy working out but are nowhere near professional athlete status, injuries can and do happen.  At the beginning of my own journey, I was making mistakes with my form and pushing my body too far when it was telling me to let up and I ended up injuring my wrist.  Luckily it was only a minor tear and I was able to get back to training within about 4 weeks but knowing how to recover and who to turn to for help when injuries do happen is a very important topic that I am super excited to have Adam share with us below. 

Take a look at his article below and please go follow his entire journey on his blog: 

Handling Injuries as an Elite Athlete

Let me start off by introducing myself. My name is Adam “Lambo” Lambert, I am a 22-year-old Snowboardcross World Cup Athlete. I have been in the top 10 in the world for around 3 years now and I competed in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games.

My career so far has been short and relatively successful, receiving 2 podium finishes and with most SBX athletes competing well into their early 30s I definitely have plenty of opportunities ahead of me. This year however an unlucky fall in the early stages of the 2019/2020 winter season has left me with a ruptured ACL and a whole lot of time to share my story and the secrets of a recovering athlete. Hopefully I can give you a taste of what I am about here today.

Athlete Support Networks

As an elite athlete there are certain areas of care, I am given to access that are expensive to use or outright unnecessary for the average person. Most of these specialized staff are needed for me as an elite athlete however a good portion of their advice can be found in abundance online. Below I have gone through a portion of those services and their importance to myself as well as their importance to non-athletes in similar situations.

  • Physiotherapy: The most important person on this list is definitely going to be your physiotherapist. It is their responsibility to oversee your recovery and prescribe rehabilitation strategies and judge your progress to give you the best chance at success. As an athlete I get near unlimited access to physiotherapists to ensure I can recover as efficiently and completely as possible. However, for an average person, once a week is sufficient in most cases.
  • Dietitians: Dietitians are one of the commonly overlooked support staff when you’re thinking about rehab and recovery. They can also be one of the most important. Having the right diet can make a significant difference in the quality of your recovery as well as affecting the time it may take to recover. Although important, getting yourself a personal dietitian is by no means a necessity, much of the information I get from my team is readily accessible online.
  • Psychologists: As an athlete I have full time access to Sports Psychologists to help keep me motivated day to day. Anyone who has been injured in the past will know that it can be incredibly hard to push through the early stages of any injury especially when it feels like nothing is making a significant difference. A sports psychologist is definitely a useful tool for someone like me but can easily be replaced by close friends and family pushing you to get out and do that extra session. The small things all add up in the long run.
  • Strength and Conditioning Coaches: Last but certainly not least is strength and conditioning coaches. These can be a local Personal Trainers or specialized rehab coaches, and their role is to keep things exciting for you as an individual. Keeping yourself motivated, engaged and most importantly dedicated to your recovery is what these people specialize in, a good strength and conditioning coach will work closely with your physiotherapist and prescribe the best possible program for you to recover well and recover fast.

All of these specialist support staff have a role to play in the successful recovery of an elite athlete. As I am writing this I have only just come out of surgery and am in the very early stages of my rehabilitation strategy. With this in mind, my main points of contacts at the moment are with my physio, dietitian and sports psych. Strength and conditioning will be a priority once I am able to get back to walking and moving around in a semi normal fashion.

My Recovery Journey

In this section I thought I would take you all through the protocols that I will be going through to ensure my recovery is as effective as possible. I will be heavily monitored over the next 6 months and my progress will be closely tracked by professionals in several fields. However, I will do my best to explain technical terms and any machines/equipment I will be using along the way as well and hopefully, be able to give you a good idea of how intense injury recoveries are when your career is potentially on the line.

The ACL Reconstruction Journey

Day 1, The Injury, whilst competing in the second World Cup of the season in Italy I was unfortunate enough to make a mistake which resulted in me coming up short on a large jump, this caused my ACL to rupture. The next day I was already back into a rehab/prehab plan with my onsite physiotherapist working on movement and strength. The most important part of this stage of the injury is making sure there is as little muscle atrophy as physically possible.

After a few weeks of light movement and activation exercises I was back into the gym working properly. Doing low rep high weight exercises such as squats, lunges and dead-lifts trying to build up my leg muscles pre-surgery. I was in the gym 6 days a week 2 times per day for 3 weeks in the lead up to surgery.

I am currently in post op week 1, which is 90% rest, relaxation and reducing swelling through icing and activation exercises (clenching muscles). I am lucky enough to have a machine called a Game Ready Ice Machine. The game ready ice machine pumps ice cold water through a full-length leg sleeve whilst applying pressure to push the fluid out of the joints.

After this initial period, I will be seeing my physio 3-4 times per week to stretch the new ACL graft and work towards full range of movement. The most important part of the first month is ensuring you can get full flexion and extension. I will also be using a machine called a Compex, which is an electro stimulation machine. This machine will assist in my ability to limit muscle atrophy by activating the muscles in my leg with electronic pulses.

Month 1 will be coming to an end by the time I get to full movement. At this time, I will be riding a stationary bike 3-4 times per day to keep everything working and moving in the right direction. On top of being back in the gym full time. Mostly for upper body work but also getting into some light single leg strengthening exercises to begin building the muscles in my bad leg.

months 2-4 will be full time training, once again in the gym 6 times a week 1-2 times per day with focus on protecting the new ACL graft and building up the muscles in the affected leg. By the 3-month period I should have full movement in the affected leg and will be able to get back into a somewhat normal day to day routine, whilst still waiting for the graft to reach maximum strength.

Months 4-6 will be full time normal training. The graft is not yet strong enough to partake in high impact sports until the 6-month mark, but I will be working in the gym as if I am fully able bodied and ready to get back to sport. This includes running, jumping, heavy weight lifting and high intensity cardio sessions 2 times per day, 6 days per week.

In Summary

As an elite athlete, the support I need to help me succeed in my rehab and recovery is more readily available than it is for most. However, that does not mean that you as an individual can’t take certain points from my experiences and help push yourself towards a more robust rehabilitation plan.

My recovery will be my full-time job for the next 6 months. Unfortunately this is not an option for 99% of people, however if you are interested in following along for more tips and tricks as well as updates on my injury over the next 6 months, my blog will have posts up daily, giving you a chance to check out some of the inside knowledge that is usually reserved for elites athletes and the people who work for them.

Let us know in the comments below, are you suffering from an injury or struggling through the rehabilitation process? Share your story with us and perhaps we can help make your recovery just that little bit easier!

Many thanks to Adam and we all wish you a speedy recovery!!



Monthly Goal Intention – January

Monthly Goal Intention – January

This year I thought I would do a little something different when it came to my personal goal setting.  I have decided I am going to set one goal each month that has to do with something I am working toward on my health and fitness journey.  Now this could be anything from my nutrition and eating habits, to my workouts to even something like my mental health and self care practices.  I think this might be a more effective way for me to target specific things throughout the year and keep up with my resolutions even after the hype and energy of the New Year dwindles down.  So, for January I have decided that my goal is to cook and meal prep more in an effort to stop reaching for those quick and easy processed foods as much as I have been.  As I mentioned in my previous post, “A few small nutritional reminders to keep our bodies happy & healthy in the new year”, nutrition is definitely the weak spot in my overall health journey and I have vowed to make 2020 the year that I get more of a handle on it.

While I have definitely made some solid progress in the nutrition department, I still don’t feel that I am quite where I should be in terms of fueling my body with the best possible options to help it thrive.  I do have a ton of food allergies that I have to work around, but I think I have almost been using that as an excuse to not try as hard as I should be to cook more and grab quick, pre-packaged options less.  While I don’t eat out hardly at all, like maybe once or twice a week if that, I do tend to hit the grocery store and still reach for those dreaded processed foods that are in all honesty pretty terrible for us.  I have never been all that interested in eating or food itself so for me just finding something quick to get me through the day has always been my MO.  But as I get more and more immersed in this world of health and fitness, I am realizing how very unhealthy that mindset it.  Most, not all, but most processed foods are sorely lacking in anything redeeming and pretty full of bad for us ingredients.  More specifically they are:

  • Full of Harmful Chemicals – Such as MSG, artificial sweeteners, BHA (which is a type of preservative both in foods and the packages a lot of food comes in), and a whole crap ton more which I can’t pronounce so figured I would skip trying to type also. These compounds have all been linked to several types of cancer, can damage our thyroids, have negative effects on our hormones and can wreak havoc on our fertility.  YIKES!  They are basically toxic to our bodies but staggeringly processed items still make up about 60% of the food we eat!  No time like the present to change that statistic you guys!!
  • They are addicting! – We already have a portion control problem, especially here in the US, where we are led to believe we need to be eating a lot more than we actually do and processed foods contribute in large part to it. I won’t go too much into the issue of portion control now, for more info on it though check out my post, “Portion Control: Know When to Say “When”, but it is a big problem with serious consequences for both our waist lines and general levels of health.  Prepackaged, processed foods are actually engineered to make us want to eat more of them!  Yep, they are made to be uber salty, overly sweet and generally exceptionally pleasing to our brains which makes us want to keep reaching for them long after we should have stopped and walked away.  Very sneaky food companies, very sneaky!
  • Low in Nutrients – So you are basically just eating empty calories while doing nothing to help your body along the way when you choose a processed food option. Most of them lack fiber, along with many of the other necessary vitamins, minerals and antioxidants our bodies needs to run at their best.  Not to mention, prepackaged foods are often high in trans-fat, which again is the bad for you kinda fat that will clog your arteries, contribute to high blood pressure and high cholesterol and can increase your risk of many forms of cancer.  Choosing whole, unprocessed foods goes a long way in getting your daily intake of all the stuff we need to avoid so many diseases and maintain optimal health.
  • High in Sugar – And more specifically, High Fructose Corn Syrup which is even worse than actual sugar! Besides just packing on the pounds and slowing down our metabolisms, excess amounts of sugar can also lead to higher cholesterol, a fatty liver, diabetes and again even certain kinds of cancer.  Most people actually get the majority of their sugar intake from processed foods and beverages and probably don’t even realize it.  Adding all that extra sugar is just another way the food companies make their products too appealing to resist.  Our brains are really happy when we get that sugar rush but our bodies are screaming at us to stop!  Listen to your body you guys, they almost always will lead you in the right and healthiest direction!

So, of course the bottom line here is processed, prepackaged foods are NO BUENO!  While I logically know this to be true, the problem still remains that they are just so dang easy to reach for when you really don’t care what you’re eating but just need something to ward off that dreaded LBS (low blood sugar) midday.  I guess this is where willpower, planning and keeping my goals in sight comes into play.  The one thing I have on my side is I really do enjoying cooking.  In fact, I used to do it allllll the time before I was diagnosed with all my food allergies.  Cooking was a creative outlet for me as well as a bit if a stress reliever.  I liked searching for new recipes to try, then experimenting with different versions of them until I found something that was a crowd pleaser.  Having vowed to start cooking more and been back at it for the past couple weeks, I am once again reminded of all the joy it used to bring me. While I do have to put quite a bit more thought and research into everything I cook and eat these days, it is well worth it both for the mental and physical benefits it provides me.

I’m off to a pretty good start with this goal of mine for January but to make sure I stick with it for the rest of the month and then hopefully the year and beyond there are a few things I think I need to do to set myself up for success.  For instance, I know I need to:

  • Plan, Plan, Plan! – As with most things health and fitness related, the more you plan the higher the chance you will be successful.  I know I need to make more of an effort to plan out larger chunks of my meals, not just the one or two days in advance that I have been doing. I need to consistently plan out each week’s meals for all seven days, do one big grocery trip a week and stock up on all the ingredients I will need.  This planning phase also needs to include some research into new recipes to try out and new ingredients to incorporate into my ever-expanding arsenal.  There are so many wonderful, healthy, whole food options out there that I haven’t tried yet or haven’t made the most of in their different forms that I know there will be endless options to keep me interested and fulfilled.
  • Prepare and pack my lunch ahead of time – Lunch is the meal that gets me. I have my breakfast down as it is almost always some variety of my superfood shake, dinner I almost always cook and usually do so pretty healthily, but man lunch is what gets me.  I will freely admit I am lazy when it comes to this meal.  I usually just grab a can of soup with my favorite gluten-free crackers or a cup of yogurt (I am currently obsessed with the So Delicious Dairy Free Coconut brand) or just a protein bar that I make sure to always carry in my bag with me.  While they aren’t the most unhealthy things I could be eating, like the fast food I used to grab all the time, they are mostly prepackaged items as opposed to the whole, fresh foods that I could and should be eating.  I just need to make more of an effort to put together healthier options the night before so I can get up, grab my meal out of the fridge and head out the door.  Again, with just a little bit of thought and prep I could seriously improve my nutrition by making my lunches just as healthy as my other two meals.
  • Be committed but also realistic – While I do want to explore new recipes and make much more of an effort to cut down on my lazy eating, I also need to plan for life. Life is busy. Life is hectic.  Life can sometimes throw you curve balls.  Keeping that in mind I know I can do more to plan for the days when life doesn’t go exactly how I thought it would.  I think keeping easy and quick but also healthy backup meals on hand, such as my favorite protein pasta, frozen fish filets and even just a salad I can toss together will be key for the days that life is just well, life.  I know sometimes meetings run late, after-work social activities pop up, or I will just get home and be too tired to follow a new recipe and that is ok.  I also know sometimes I will just want to throw a frozen cauliflower pizza in the oven and pour a glass of wine at the end of a long day and that is ok too.  Moderation you guys, I am a firm believer in it!  Along the same lines, cheat meals are also going to still be key for me.  Most Fridays night are eat-out nights which I eagerly look forward to and use as both as a tool and a reward.  Allowing myself this flexibility is a key in my opinion to achieving my larger, overall goals.  We need to be able to give ourselves a little bit of a break every once in a while so we don’t burn out and end up quitting altogether.

As I am sitting here typing this post today I have a big pot of lentil stew simmering (check out the pics below along with the superfood shake I ate this morning)  that I made up this afternoon and a batch of homemade gluten-free cornbread in the oven as well.  I had a blast putting it all together today (also it has been a great way to spend a snowy Saturday!) and will have plenty of leftovers for several meals this week.  January’s goals are off to a good start if I do say so myself!  I am feeling really motivated to keep this momentum going and happy that I am making more of an effort to take care of my body.  I want to keep getting stronger, continue to build more muscle and knock out even more of my goals this year and I know continuing to improve upon my eating habits will go along way in getting me there.

Stay tuned for my February post which will be all flexibility.  This is another area I keep saying I am going to work on but admittedly have not been doing such a great job with.  If you guys have any resolutions or goals you set for the year and would like to share….I would love to hear about them (and see below for a quick poll about this site, please and thank you!!)!   In the meantime, have a happy and healthy weekend everyone!