Choose Your Hard: A Review of Make Success Mandatory by Jeremy Scott

As a FitFluential Ambassador, I sometimes get the opportunity to review products and books related to healthy living and wellness. My favorite part about being an Ambassador is when I get the opportunity to review a product or book that is the brainchild of one of my fellow Ambassadors. Such is the case with Make Success Mandatory: Discovering Your Gift & Giving It Back To The World by Jeremy Scott.


I’m never sure what to expect from “self help” books because they can be so hit or miss, but Jeremy’s book was a definite hit for me.

It’s short at 70 pages, I read it in a single commute on the train, but in the hour or so I took to read it I knew it was telling me something I so desperately needed to hear — even if I didn’t realize it at first.

It wasn’t until I was going through my day after reading the book and found myself repeating one of the main ideas, that I realized how much it had impacted me.

Jeremy talks about people’s excuses — excuses not to exercise, not to leave a crappy job, not to follow dreams — because it’s hard to do those things. It’s hard, because it’s uncomfortable. The part that really struck me, and that I’ve shared with my own clients, is that not doing those things is also hard.

It’s hard to feel sluggish all the time. It’s hard to have to buy new clothes because you’ve gained weight and your old clothes are too small. It’s hard to go to a job you hate every day.

Jeremy says one simple thing that made the whole book stick for me (and it’s what I’ve been repeating to myself ever since): Choose your hard.

Life is hard, it just is. To be successful you’re going to have to do hard things. The question is whether you’re willing to put in the work to make that happen.

In order to Make Success Mandatory, each of us has to live each day to the fullest (Jeremy talks a lot about how much time we have in a day and how we never get that back once the day is over). Beyond that, we have to never accept failure as an option. After all, the only way to truly fail is to give up. As long as you keep trying, you aren’t failing.

Yes, it’s hard to set the alarm for half an hour or an hour earlier to get up and exercise, but that’s the hard that I want to choose for myself. It’s hard to cook something healthy when I could much easier just order delivery, but cooking healthy food is the hard I want to choose for myself

I have goals I want to hit and in order to hit them I’m going to have to do hard things sometimes.

Get this book. Read it, then read it again.

What are you doing to Make Success Mandatory in your life? Are you avoiding doing something because it’s hard without realizing that what you are already doing is just as hard?


New Job Update: Three Weeks In

As this is my first and only blog post this week, it’s safe to say I’ve been busy.

My new position is fantastically versatile and this is the busiest time of year, so I’m constantly learning and pushing myself to go beyond what I thought were my limits. It turns out, I was underestimating myself.

Today marks three full weeks at the new job and the stability and schedule regularity it has provided have already had a noticeable, positive impact on my sleep, fitness, and eating habits.



Not having a car has not really been too much of an issue (aside from the occasional long commute home in the evenings) and my step goals are being demolished.


I have some great posts planned for next week so stay tuned. In the meantime, get outside this weekend and do something awesome!


Friday Fun: Runner Survey

Now that I’ve been getting back into more consistent running thanks to a new job and the Mizuno Wave Enigma 5 that I’m completely in love with, I wanted to play along with a runner survey Laura did recently on This Runner’s Recipes.

1. Would you rather run along a beach path or a mountain trail?

Definitely a mountain trail. This probably has something to do with growing up in the mountains of North Carolina and feeling very at home in the mountains and woods. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t call myself a trail runner, but if it was between that and a beach, I’d go mountain trail all the way.

A view from where I grew up in the Smoky Mountains.

Where I grew up in the Smoky Mountains.

2. If you could choose the flavor of Gatorade at your next race’s aid stations, what would it be?

Orange! It’s always my Gatorade flavor of choice.

3. If you had a $100 gift card to a running store, what would be the first thing that you would purchase with it?

More sports bras (I can always use more of those).

4. Do you prefer to follow a training plan or wake up and decide then how far and how fast you want to run?

Since I’ve been trying to get back into running lately, I’ve just been trying to listen to my body and running the distance that feels right. Generally I like to decide ahead of time and map out a good route.

5. Would you rather start your run with the uphill and end on the downhill, or start your run with the downhill and end on the uphill?

I like to start with a downhill so I can warm up with something not quite so grueling then end on an uphill so I have that awesome sense of accomplishment at the end.

6. When you can’t run, what type of cross-training do you choose to do?

I haven’t been doing enough cross-training lately, but it should be cycling and swimming since I’m training for a triathlon right now. Training is a term I use loosely since I’ve only been biking and running so far (and not with any specific plan) and still need to hit the pool. Oops.

7. Which is your preference: out and back, point to point, or loop runs?

Out and back. It forces me to do the entire distance I’ve planned whereas during loop runs I can too easily talk myself out of going for a second or third loop. Once I’m near home (or my starting point), I’m ready to stop.

8. If you could recommend any running related item to a new runner, what would it be?

Good shoes. Seriously, it’s worth the time and effort to go somewhere and get properly fitted. In Boston I love True Runner because they record you running and then bring it down to slow motion to catch every detail. I felt like I was in really good hands with them. As I mentioned earlier, my current favorites are the Mizuno Wave Enigma 5 running shoes that I’ve been wearing for the past few months. I adore them!


9. Do you ever see any wild animals while out of your runs?

I’ll often see some of the smaller variety (chipmunks, squirrels, the occasional skunk or raccoon), but when I’m running in the suburbs near work I’ll sometimes see wild turkeys too, which reminds me of where I grew up.

10. Ever gotten lost while out on a run?

Not so lost I couldn’t find my way back (another point for out and back runs), but I’ve definitely inadvertently made my run a lot longer by taking a wrong turn on the way out.

11. If you could have one meal waiting and ready for you each time you got home from a run for the next 30 days, what would it be?

It depends what time of day I’m running (lately it’s all been after work, but I do like mid-morning runs). If it’s morning, probably either some of the protein pancake muffins I made last weekend with a cup of black coffee or a huge gluten free breakfast sandwich with eggs, bacon, mustard, and veggies. In the evening I would love traditional street tacos with onion, cilantro, and lime.


12. Capris or shorts?

This one is weather dependent for me. I generally prefer shorts, but I just can’t bring myself to wear them if it’s cold out. In the fall and spring I wear a lot of capris and in the snowy winter I wear long pants.

13. At what mile into your run does your body feel warmed up and ready to go?

1.7, no seriously. I have no idea why, but I consistently find that at about 1.7 miles I stop struggling to breathe and my legs finally feel lighter. This is one reason it’s been frustrating lately to feel stuck at 1.5 miles. I know that if I could push myself to 2 I’d feel much better.

14. What do you do with your key when you run?

A lot of my shorts and capris have pockets, so I’ll toss it in there. If I’m just taking one key (like my office key while I’m at work), I’ve been known to lace it into my shoelaces. At home we do have a hide-a-key so I avoid taking it at all whenever possible.

15. If you could relive any race that you have done, which one would it be?

My first half marathon was the BAA Half Marathon in October 2011 and I would love to relive that experience. It was the longest I had ever run and I felt so empowered by finishing. It wasn’t as grueling as my first marathon, so it was a more positive experience overall.

BAA half marathon

16. What type of run is your least favorite?

The type where I never quite seem to get warmed up. I know that isn’t what this question was aiming for, but it’s the truth. I can get behind almost any type of run, like tempo, hill, sprints, long runs, etc., but no matter what type of run I’m doing I hate when I just can’t seem to get in the swing of it. You know the runs I’m talking about, you just can’t seem to get your breathing right, your legs feel like lead the whole time, etc. Blah.

17. What has been your biggest motivator to get out the door and run?

My biggest motivator lately has been to reclaim some of the running fitness I lost due to injury. I look back at old photos of myself (or at some of the runs I’ve tracked via RunKeeper) and I want to be back there. I really want to get that notification on RunKeeper that I’ve run my fastest pace soon.

18. When you go for a run, do you leave from your front door or drive somewhere to start?

From my door (either at home or office). I’ve toyed with the idea of taking the bus or train somewhere and running the entire distance home, but I can never convince myself to try it.

19. When running in daylight, are sunglasses a must-have or an annoyance?

An annoyance. It’s only recently that I’ve been able to wear sunglasses in my regular life — I’m pretty sure I’ll never get used to wearing them while running. Luckily I run in a hat (almost always) so the sun isn’t much of an issue.


20. When you get tired, what keeps you from quitting?

Honestly? Sometimes I do quite and I think that’s okay. For me it’s about figuring out whether the desire to quit is coming from being tired or unmotivated or if it really is my body asking for a break. If I’m just feeling unmotivated or like I don’t want to keep going because I have other things I could be doing, I remind myself that when I first started running in 2010 I made it a point to get out and run almost every day and that if I could do it then at almost 250 pounds, there’s no reason I can’t do it now.

This photo is from approximately one month before I ran my first mile.

This photo is from approximately a month and a half before I ran my first mile. Never going back.

Now it’s your turn! Comment with your answer to one (or more) of the questions above.


National Hot Dog Day 2015

A few days ago as Joe and I were eating a stir fry dinner, we saw a Sonic commercial talking about National Hot Dog Day. Joe turned to me, a girl whose favorite food since childhood is hot dogs, and said, “How are you gonna have stir fry on National Hot Dog Day?”

This was particularly distressing because we had hot dogs in the fridge.

WHAT? National Hot Dog Day! How did I miss this?! 

As it turns out, I didn’t. Even though that particular commercial never explicitly mentioned it, a quick Google search revealed that National Hot Dog Day is today, July 23rd.

So of course I used yesterday as an opportunity to get some gluten free hot dog buns and some potatoes to make oven-baked french fries and tonight we’ll be having our hot dogs in honor of National Hot Dog day (the fries were Joe’s ideas, I’ve always had my fries with chips and coleslaw, but I’ll humor him).

Sure, Sonic is offering free hot dogs or some such nonsense, but the hot dogs we have in the fridge are a much higher quality than what we could find at any Sonic and I can rest easy with my gluten free buns. Plus I like the idea of saving money, so there’s that.

I won’t lie, I may or may not look forward to tonight’s hot dogs all day long.

Did you know about National Hot Dog Day? How do you take your hot dog? I like mine with chili, coleslaw, onions, ketchup, and mustard (and cheese, always cheese).


Giving Up My Car

Just over three years ago, after living in Boston for almost seven years without a car, I decided to buy a used Hyundai Elantra to help cut down on my commute time to grad school and work.

Later this week I will be selling that car and going back to the public transit lifestyle.

My poor car and I have been through a lot, particularly since it has been nothing but trouble since the day I got it. Add to that the car accident I was in last year, and it’s surprising it’s held on this long.

When it came time for inspection last month, my car failed miserably. This was not the first time it failed, but it was the first time that I was told it would cost more to get it up to snuff than the car is worth.

Found it!

For a few weeks I’ve toyed around with the idea of trading it in for a new car now that I’ve started a new job, but after almost two weeks of commuting to my new job by train I’ve decided to abandon the car entirely.

This is going to be a very big change for me, particularly because my commute is over an hour on a good day and more than 90 minutes on a bad day (and anyone who has ever taken the MBTA knows there are quite a few bad days).

The advantages seem to outweigh the disadvantages though.

1. No more car insurance – This means extra money in my pocket every month. Even with the cost of a T pass, I’m going to come out saving. Add to this one no more gas and no more car repairs, plus no car payment with a new car. $$$

2. More exercise – When I originally got my car in 2012 I was at my fittest. I was easily reaching 12,000+ steps a day according to my Fitbit. Then after I started driving every day it was a struggle to reach 7,000 steps if I didn’t go to the gym. In the past two weeks I’ve hit over 10,000 steps every day during the week.

3. More time to read – One of my goals now that I work a regular schedule is to start reading more again. When you have at least an hour and a half of actual ride time during your commute every day that’s a lot more realistic. I’m pretty excited for this one even though I don’t have much on my reading list yet. Please give me recommendations!

4. No street cleaning or snow emergencies – Living in the city without any sort of deeded parking is bad enough, but throw in street cleaning two days per week from April to November and snow emergencies that could happen at any point between November and April and you’re talking about some serious headaches. More than a few of my most stressful evenings have been spent driving around Charlestown in circles trying to find a parking spot.

I have to admit that there’s a part of me that’s excited to get rid of the car, but there’s a part of me that is still a little bit uncertain. What about hiking trips with Joe? What about driving to visit my family in North Carolina? What about big trips to the grocery store or to races?

The answer: Zipcar, Uber, rental cars, public transportation, walking, borrowing cars, getting a ride, or not driving at all (particularly when it comes to the option to fly to North Carolina).

For seven years in Boston I didn’t have a car. Joe has never had a car. We’ll be fine. We may not have the freedom to go places on a whim anymore, and I may get another car in another year or two (or if this winter is as bad as last winter), but for now this is the right choice.

Here’s to saving money, moving more, and avoiding parking tickets!

Do you have a car? What are some of the things you would miss if you gave it up? What are some things that might actually be better?


Summer Bucket List: Brewer’s Fork

As we continue right along through July, we’re also crossing more items off of my Summer Bucket List. Last week we tackled Brewer’s Fork in Charlestown.

This restaurant is at the bottom of our street making it a super easy choice for dinner. The problem is that since it’s new, there’s usually a wait. Luckily when we went on Saturday night with a friend who has just moved back to town, it was early enough that we didn’t have to wait at all.

The ambiance in the restaurant is great, you would never guess it used to be a Laundromat. Although the location is a bit odd (next to a liquor store and across the street from an elementary school), the exposed brick, cool light fixtures, and booth backs made out of wine corks make the location unimportant.

wpid-photogrid_1437321001449.jpgServing only beer, cider and wine, the drink list is still quite impressive (and larger than the food menu). All of the food is prepared in a wood fire oven, so prior to going I wasn’t sure what I might be able to find that was gluten free.

We started with half a dozen oysters (though Joe did not partake) and chose the Pemaquid oysters at our server’s suggestion. They were fantastic!

While Joe and our friend ordered pizzas for their main course (Joe got a meatball and our friend got a sausage), I opted for the raw beef salad. Yes, you read that right. I’ve always been a fan of tartare, so I figured it was a safe bet. I did have to get it without the duck fat mayo because of malt vinegar used in its preparation, but it was incredible even without it. Who knew that seasoned raw beef served over aromatic herbs and topped with peanuts would be so good?

We also split a cheese board with Camembert, Adirondack Cheddar, and Kunik. The board also had pickled vegetables, raisin chutney, rhubarb chutney, honey topped with pickled grapes and a chili sauce, and a raspberry jam. My friend ate all the bread and helped me with the other items while I just focused on the cheese and accompaniments.


Check out the abs on the fighting bear and lion.

Every single thing we ate was delicious! Our server was also super friendly and attentive and so helpful with my gluten concerns. Although we ate inside for fear of rain, there is a patio that I’m certain we’ll try in the near future.

All in all, Brewer’s Fork was a huge hit!

What’s your favorite local restaurant (wherever you live)? Have you ever eaten raw beef, either in tartare or a raw beef salad? 



Protein Pancake Muffins

My breakfast routine is usually pretty straightforward (gluten free toast with PB2 or a protein shake), but occasionally I like to mix it up. Sometimes that means avocado toast, other times it means a giant omelet, but if I have the extra time, it often means pancakes.

Although pancakes are usually an indulgence, there are ways to make them healthier. Prime example: protein pancakes.

My favorite protein pancakes are the super basic egg and banana variety. They’re really simple, just combine one mashed banana with two eggs and cook in a pan with some oil. The only problem is, it takes patience. In order to get the pancakes to cook through without burning, you have to cook them on low to medium heat. This means waiting patiently (not my forte) to flip them. Usually I end up flipping them too soon and a mess ensues.

I have found a solution to this problem: Protein Pancake Muffins!


I had tossed around the idea of trying something like this for a while, but it wasn’t until I saw an Instagram post from Lindsay at Cotter Crunch with her own take on protein pancake muffins that I decided to give them a try.

These muffins are not only delicious, they’re super easy and don’t require too much thought. That makes them great not only for a weekend breakfast, but easy for during the week as well! Mix them up and pop them in the oven while you go about your normal morning routine.


2 whole eggs
1 large banana
2 Tbsp. peanut flour (I used PB2)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mash banana into a paste and set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs until fluffy and add to banana mixture. Add peanut flour and mix well. Pour mixture evenly into four muffin cups and bake for 15-20 minutes until set and golden brown.

That’s it! I used silicone muffin cups because it meant I didn’t need to add any cooking spray or oil, which helped keep the fat content in check since I used whole eggs. You could easily double, triple, or even quadruple the recipe if you were cooking for a whole family and the time in the oven would more than make up for all the time spent waiting and flipping pancakes. I’m also looking forward to playing around with add-ins like walnuts, berries, chocolate chips, etc.

Macros for four muffins: 290 calories; 32g carbohydrates; 18g protein; 12g fat; 5g fiber

What’s your favorite quick and easy healthy breakfast? 


Crock Pot BBQ Chicken Drumsticks

Sometimes accidents make for the best cooking opportunities. Last week Joe bought poorly labeled chicken at Whole Foods only to find once he started to prep it for the freezer that he had accidentally bought drumsticks rather than breasts. He was less than thrilled since all we generally eat is boneless, skinless chicken breast.

I told him I’d find something to do with them (even though I had never made them) so he put them in the freezer and we didn’t give it much more thought for a few days.

This past weekend I decided I wanted to use some of them, but I didn’t want to take the time to thaw just one or two. Solution: crock pot!

After a quick Internet search I was confident that I could put the drumsticks in the crock pot still frozen, so I decided to make a quick homemade barbecue sauce and let six of them cook for the day. The result was super tender barbecue chicken that literally fell off the bone.

Crock Pot Barbecue Chicken Drumsticks

Servings: 6 drumsticks


3/4 c. ketchup
1 Tbsp. fruit preserves or jelly
3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
2 Tbsp. Texas Pete Hot Sauce (more or less to taste)
1 1/2 Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
6 skin-on chicken drumsticks (if yours aren’t frozen, you can remove the skin)


Combine first six ingredients in a medium sized bowl. For fruit preserves I used raspberry peach champagne jam from Stonewall Kitchen. You could also use brown sugar or honey. Place drumsticks in the bottom of the crockpot and cover with prepared sauce. Cook on high for 4-6 hours if chicken is frozen. I cooked mine on high for 4 hours then low for 1 while I prepared the rest of my dinner, but imagine this is crock pot brand dependent.

wpid-img_20150712_175432.jpgServe with your favorite summertime vegetables and more barbecue sauce (if desired).

wpid-20150712_180139.jpgHave you ever had a happy grocery shopping or cooking accident? What is your favorite way to prepare chicken drumsticks?




What’s In A Name? Cheat vs. Treat

As someone with a background in mental health counseling and fitness, I think a lot about the terms people use when describing themselves, their habits, and their goals. There is a lot of evidence that the terms we use to describe these things can actually impact how successful we are because our attitudes impact our terms, which impacts our behaviors.

It’s no secret if you follow me on Instagram that I don’t eat healthy 100% of the time. In fact, sometimes I struggle to eat healthy 80% of the time. That said, I am the most successful when I plan out my treat days. You’ll notice I didn’t say cheat days. So what’s in a name?

Cheat vs. TreatI take issue with the term “cheat” to describe food and prefer the term treat.

“Treat” has a positive connotation. A treat is something used in celebration or as a reward. As such, it’s rare. A treat is used to mark something exceptional.

“Cheat” has a negative connotation. We’re taught from a young age that cheating is bad. Whether it is cheating on a test, on your significant other, or in a game, cheaters are looked down upon.

Even if a cheat meal or cheat day is part of a plan that a coach or trainer has developed for you, the way you view the meal can be impacted by its name. Because this food is “bad” or a “cheat” it can only be eaten on occasion and must then be atoned for through very strict eating the next several days and intense exercise.

It also isn’t necessarily rare. Cheating can happen anytime and that can set us up for failure, especially if it leads to cheating binges and post-cheat restricting.

Not everyone will agree with me here, particularly because most of us probably aren’t consciously thinking about how food terminology can impact the way we view the food or how our views about food can impact our behavior.

So try it. The next time you go to have a treat meal or cheat meal, notice how what you call it impacts the way you feel about it. Do you feel guilty after eating your cheat/treat, even if it was planned? Do you eat more than planned during your cheat/treat day?

The most important thing, as always, is that you do what works best for you. Find what makes your goals attainable and maintainable. If what you’re doing now isn’t quite working, ask yourself why.

Do you have cheat meals and/or treat meals? 



Benefits of Personal Training

Getting active and fit does not require a bunch of fancy equipment, an expensive gym membership, or a personal trainer.

That’s right, you can do it on your own; I’m living proof of that since the bulk of my weight loss was done entirely through running and going to Planet Fitness for $10 a month. Eventually I did join an outdoor bootcamp group to help me kick up my weight loss and then I made the decision to become a personal trainer myself.

Benefits of Personal Training - Fighting for Wellness

So why am I writing about the benefits of personal training? Just because you can do it on your own doesn’t mean you will or that you should.

Benefits of Personal Training
The benefits of personal training start with motivation. Sometimes it’s hard to get motivated to exercise. You’ve been working all day or you don’t feel 100%. When you’re working with a trainer, you’re more likely to show up and put in the work instead of heading home and turning on the TV.

In addition to motivation a personal trainer also provides accountability. Without a trainer there often isn’t anyone to check in to see if you’re eating right or exercising on your own.

There are plenty of group fitness classes, workout DVDs and YouTube videos out there to allow anyone to workout on their own. What all of these lack is tailored programming specific to your goals, movement patterns, and injuries. Working with a trainer ensures that not only will you get a hard workout, it will be the right workout for you.

No one wants to spend several hours a day working out. We’re all busy and quick workouts are a priority for most of us. There is a difference, however, between a quick workout and an efficient workout. Any short workout can be quick, but the exercise efficiency a trainer can provide helps you know that you’re getting the most out of your time and not skipping over any important movements or muscle groups.

A lot of workout videos and classes do their best to teach proper exercise form, but without one-on-one attention from a trainer (maybe even physically helping you get into the right position), it can be hard to achieve that form. Form correction during a workout can mean the difference between a great workout and one that ends in pain.

Which brings me to my next point about safety and injury prevention. Not all workouts are suitable for all exercisers. A trainer can help you with modifications of movements to keep you from hurting yourself during your exercise routine. Someone who is recovering from recent knee surgery shouldn’t be doing jump squats, but that doesn’t rule out lower body exercises. A trainer can help you figure out what movements are appropriate for you.

Finally, a personal trainer keeps it fresh with new ideas and routines. This isn’t just specific to the workout, though a good trainer does continue to challenge your body in different ways as it adapts. It also refers to helping you come up with new ideas for making healthy choices and swaps in the kitchen and tackling the barriers in your life that make fitness difficult.

While getting a personal trainer isn’t a requirement for fitness, it certainly helps. The best way to see if a trainer might be right for you is to give one a try. If you don’t have a gym membership or know of a trainer near you, check out my rates for online personal training! This is a great option for keeping your routine fresh and getting the form correction and expert advice via live video training. Let me know if you have questions and if you’d like to get started.

Have you worked with a personal trainer in the past? If so, what was the biggest benefit you saw?


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