Tri Something New

I haven’t posted in a while, but I promise I’m still around! Things have been busy at work transitioning into the warmer months and everyone getting beach body ready for their vacations (side note: if you have a body, you’re beach body ready, but that’s for another post).

I’ve been feeling very down about my hip injury and the decision to not run the San Francisco Marathon this July, but I’m making progress. In fact, I’m playing around with the idea of doing a sprint triathlon this September!

sprint triathlon

Okay, I’m more than playing around with the idea, one of my clients has agreed to do it with me and our training starts soon! Does anyone in the Boston area have any leads on an inexpensive bike?

While my hip continues to heal I’ll focus on swimming (I’ll be going to a public pool nearby until I do a couple of open water swims this summer), but it won’t be long until I’ll be back to pounding the pavement (hopefully later this week!).

I’m also interested in any and all of your tips for triathlons. Something tells me I won’t stop after the sprint in September (especially since it’s been on my Fitness Bucket List for quite some time – almost three years actually) so I already have my eye on a triathlon suit and some of the other gear.

What are your tips for training for a sprint triathlon? If you have a triathlon bike, where did you get it?


The Marathon That Wasn’t – Déjà Vu

This is going to be a fairly short post because I’m still processing it, but I’ve made the decision to not run the San Francisco Marathon this July. If you follow me on Instagram, Runkeeper, Facebook, or Twitter, you’ve probably followed along (at least passively) with my training. As much as I wanted to run this race, the cost of travel and lodging was just too much.

No, you aren’t experience déjà vu, this is the same weekend I was going to go last year and run the half marathon and ended up not being able to go. That makes this even harder because this was the year I was going to make it happen and I was even going to do the full marathon.

Wellness isn’t just about physical fitness and mental health, it’s about overall wellness. Part of that is financial wellness. I’m sad to miss the race, I’m sad to miss San Francisco, and I’m sad to lose the registration fee, but it’s the best decision financially.

I’m going to continue running (though I doubt I’ll do a 14 mile long run this weekend), because I’d love to at least do a half marathon sometime this summer. A very brief search revealed a few in Massachusetts in June, so that’s always an option.

In some happy news my newest niece was born last week (yay!!!) so I may even have the option to travel back to North Carolina to meet her sooner than expected now that we won’t be spending the money on San Francisco. I have a lot of options, but that doesn’t really make it any easier that the trip we’ve been planning for months (and for which I’ve spent months in training) isn’t happening.

Do you know of any awesome half marathons in the Boston or Massachusetts area this summer? I’d love to hear about them!


Chocolate Coconut Ice Cream with Almond Breeze Almondmilk Coconutmilk!

This post is sponsored by Almond Breeze Almondmilk.

If you follow me on Instagram you probably know that we had a potluck last weekend with several of my coworkers. There was so much great food, but the thing that Joe and I have been continuing to love this week is this beauty.


Through the Blue Diamond Tastemakers program I had the opportunity to try Unsweetened Almond Breeze Almondmilk Coconutmilk Original this month. As soon as it arrived in the mail, I knew I wanted to finally break out the ice cream maker I got for Christmas and give it a test drive.


Ever the optimist I decided to wing the recipe because there’s nothing like the pressure of people coming over to kick my creativity into gear.

Thinking about the flavors I wanted to add to the coconut, I immediately thought of one of my favorite candy bars, Almond Joy. I’ve met people who don’t like them and I still don’t understand it, so I figured it was probably a safe bet.

I also realized that because coconut has a naturally high fat content, it would work great in the ice cream maker along with some Unsweetened Original Almondmilk and some sweetened condensed milk, that way the ice cream could thicken up and all the sweetness wouldn’t be overpowering.

So I gathered up the additional ingredients I needed for the recipe that was brewing in my head and got to work.


I was a nervous wreck as the ice cream maker did its thing because I wasn’t sure it would thicken up, but it turned out great! The ice cream was still a little like milkshake consistency when it finished, so I popped it in the freezer to await our guests.

It was a hit! The coconut flavors come through and the milk chocolate chips and sliced almonds I added at the end were just right to make it taste like an Almond Joy. Plus the recipe made plenty for our guests and to have leftovers for the week (there’s nothing like ice cream at the end of a hard day, am I right?).

Don’t just take my word for it though, you have to try it! Check out the recipe below and share with me after you give it a go. I can’t wait to hear what you think.

Chocolate Coconut Ice Cream featuring Unsweetened Almond Breeze Almondmilk Coconutmilk

1 quart of Unsweetened Almond Breeze Almondmilk Original Coconutmilk
2 cans (14 oz each) of sweetened condensed milk (any brand)
2 cups of Unsweetened Almond Breeze Original Almondmilk
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1 12 oz. bag of milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup sliced almonds (more to taste)

Combine the first four ingredients and mix according to your ice cream maker instructions. Once ice cream has finished, mix in chocolate chips and almonds. Serve immediately or freeze until time to serve.

It’s that easy! Who knew? Next time I might add some unsweetened coconut flakes, but for the most part I think this recipe is perfect.

What’s your favorite way to use Unsweetened Almond Breeze Almondmilk Coconutmilk?



One Bad Apple: Not All Trainers Are Created Equal

You know that saying “one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch” meaning that an entire group can be affected by one person’s poor behavior? I first heard the saying when I was in elementary school and the entire class lost recess because of one student. It was quite the reality check to learn that I as a person could be on my best behavior and still get burned by someone else.

I had that same reality check late last week when I read a blog post about Ashley’s experience with a personal trainer.

For some background, Ashley is a runner who is trying to incorporate more strength training into her routine. This is an awesome idea for any runner because strength training helps improve running times, helps protect you from injuries, and ensures that you can recover more quickly and efficiently. This is pretty much common knowledge that has filtered down from dozens of experts and become the norm.

Ashley was doing her thing in the gym when a trainer approached her about her form. This is not uncommon among trainers nor was the next step in which he asked about her goals. The part that I fear could spoil the whole bunch is what happened next.

I’ll let Ashley explain in her own words:

The words that came out of his mouth next left me pissed, upset and plain baffled.

You shouldn’t be lifting heavy weights. It’s going to bulk you up and add even more weight to your body.

He proceeded this question with a quick glance over of my body and quickly assessed that my weight must be around 155 pounds. I laughed, in amazement that he could guess so easily.

You shouldn’t be running distance at your weight. It’s too hard on your body.

When I read this I quite literally gasped and then groaned. Then I promptly told her to report the trainer to management because he clearly should be in a different profession.

As a personal trainer, marathoner, and someone who is well over 155 pounds, I too was baffled.

After finishing my second marathon - at 170 pounds.

After finishing my second marathon – at 170 pounds.

If Ashley were trying to win the half marathon she’s training for and therefore needed to be as light as possible, that might be something a trainer would say to her after working with her for some time and both developing rapport and understanding her goals and body. Maybe. 

Even still, the amount of strength training that would be necessary to truly bulk her up and add extra weight would take a lot of work, especially with the amount of cardio she’s doing.

But let’s overlook all that for the sake of argument and focus on the trainer’s advice to stop running long distances because of Ashley’s weight.

There’s mixed evidence on how hard running is on your joints (at any weight), but I’ll tell you this: I started running when I was 250 pounds. I’m sure it wasn’t great for my joints, but you know what else wasn’t great for my joints? Being 250 pounds.

With the right shoes, proper form, and — yes — strength training, running long distances at a heavy weight still has more benefits than detriments.

first 5k

My first 5K

What I hope people take away from this story is that personal training is like any profession: there are great trainers and there are some not-so-great trainers. If you’re working with a trainer (or one randomly offers you some friendly advice), question it.

I’m never offended when clients or prospective clients question my rationale. I know that what I’m doing with each client is based on their own individual needs and goals, but also based in what the research says is most beneficial. I’m always happy to share that with people and I would say any good trainer would be.

If a trainer is giving you blanket generalizations, be wary. If a trainer ever makes you feel less than what you deserve, be wary (and report it).

Trainers are an amazing tool in helping you reach your health and fitness goals. We want to help you live your best life in the safest way possible. Don’t let one bad apple spoil the whole bunch.

Have you ever had a particularly great or terrible experience with a personal trainer? I want to hear about it!


Healthy Living & Perspective

It’s been a long few weeks since my last post. I had several posts half-written and could just never quite find the time (or motivation) to get them pushed out to publication. Sorry about that! After a nasty cold hit the club and made its rounds through our house as well I’m just now getting back into the swing of things.

What brings me back is something that I need to share.

I’ve posted several times before about finding a balance, the 80/20 rule for healthy living, and knowing where you’re at in terms of the stages of behavior change, but what I realized over the past few weeks is just how much perspective can change things.

Thanks to the Timehop app I’ve been busy reliving my social media posts from the past several years. This was especially fun as I was nearing my anniversary with Joe (that was another post I never got around to publishing) because I was able to relive all the excitement and butterflies from the early days of our relationship.

What I’ve also been able to relive are the ups and downs of my weight loss journey. Looking back at posts from 5-6 years ago and seeing someone who was 250 pounds makes me realize how far I’ve come and how much I’ve accomplished, but it isn’t all positive.

Every once in a while I’ll run across a photo like this from our road trip in 2012.


Believe it or not, I looked at that photo when it was taken and thought I looked fat. I could only see how much further it felt like I needed to go to achieve the perfect body. When I look back at it now I realize what great shape I was in physically. I just wasn’t quite where I needed to be emotionally.

In the past three years I’ve grown by leaps and bounds as a person. I’ve changed careers, I’ve grown in my relationship with Joe, and I’ve learned to listen to my dreams. What I haven’t done as much of is focus 100% on my nutrition and fitness.

When I look at that photo above I remember what it was like to be that person. I worked out every day. I always ate healthy. Even when we went to Disney World I took special snacks so I wouldn’t fall off the wagon. Even when we drank around the world in Epcot, I felt a little guilty. All I could think about is how I wasn’t quite where I “needed” to be. I wasn’t skinny enough.

That’s not to say that daily exercise and healthy eating are bad things. As a matter of fact, those are two of the things I’m hoping to regain as part of my routine over the next few months. What’s bad is that I never felt like it was enough. I didn’t think I was enough.

Getting healthy, losing weight, exercising more, none of it matters if it isn’t done for the right reasons. As gratifying as it feels to prove something to someone else, it’s important to realize that none of us actually have anything to prove. I am enough. You are enough.

When my clients tell me they want to lose weight I ask them why. I don’t let them stop at saying they want to look better because that will make them feel better, I want to know why. What will losing 10, 20, even 30 pounds do for you? Do you want to lose weight because your current weight is affecting your health? Do you want to lose weight because you don’t feel attractive? Will losing weight actually make you feel more attractive?

I feel my most attractive when I feel empowered. I feel empowered when I exercise and eat right because my body actually runs better when I’m fueling it properly and moving. I do not feel empowered when I’m eating too little and not giving my body adequate recovery time.

A balance does exist for achieving and maintaining the physique I had three summers ago and having the happiness and life satisfaction that I have now, I just didn’t realize it then. There is a way for me to exercise, eat healthy, and be happy. I don’t need to be skinny, but I do need to do a better job of taking care of myself. I am enough and I have nothing to prove.

A little perspective goes a long way.


Fitness and Change: Are You Ready?

Happy first full week of spring, everyone and congratulations to Janice, the winner of the Mamma Chia Clean Energy Prize Pack! Unfortunately it doesn’t quite feel like spring in Boston, but the first full week of spring always reminds me that longer term warm weather is on the way and that’s a change I can always get behind.

Speaking of changes…

Change can be scary, whether it is starting a new job, moving to a new home, or starting a new exercise program. You’ve probably heard someone say that you have to be ready to change for it to actually happen, and you’ve probably seen people who are in less than ideal situations (totally changeable ones at that), but who never take the steps to change that situation.
So what makes someone ready to change? This is one of the most pertinent questions for those of us in the field of helping people change, from personal trainers to therapists to physicians.

One of the best models I’ve come across in my mental health training is the Transtheoretical Model (TTM) of Behavior Change.
The TTM breaks behavior change down into several different stages: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation (also called determination), action and maintenance. The important thing to know about these stages is that when we are trying to change a behavior we move through almost all of these stages multiple times with occasions of relapse in between.

So let’s break the stages down, starting with precontemplation. It’s pretty much what it sounds like. In this stage there is no contemplation about changing at all. The person is content with how things are going and isn’t even considering a change. Think about an alcoholic who doesn’t seem to realize that his/her drinking is having a negative impact or someone who is very overweight, but isn’t yet experiencing any negative health implications. The need to change hasn’t yet been realized and any attempt to get that person to change is going to be fruitless.
Next is the contemplation stage. Here people recognize that a change should be made soon (generally defined as within the next six months), but may still be somewhat ambivalent. Even if change is desired, little if any thought has been given to how that change will occur.

After contemplation is preparation. This is where people begin to plan how they will make a change and make small steps toward making that happen. Someone who needs to start exercising may start researching gyms to join. An alcoholic may start looking into 12 step programs. At this stage, change is imminent within the next 30 days.
Action is all about behavior modification. This is where a person goes to the gym, meets with a trainer, and gets started on an exercise program. The intention is to continue with the new behavior and/or refrain from engaging in the behavior a person is looking to stop.

Once someone has been in the action stage for at least six months, he or she is considered to be in maintenance. Another key component of this stage is the active work to prevent relapse.
Although not a stage of its own, lapse and relapse can happen during any stage, setting a person back either a little (lapse) or even as far as precontemplation (relapse). This is why healthy habits take continual work and why there is no magic pill for changing unhealthy habits.

The research on how to get from one stage to the next is mixed. If you are in the preparation stage, but struggling to make the leap to action because of self-imposed and/or socially-imposed barriers, what is the best way to move forward?
Fake it ‘til you make it.

Research has shown that changing your behavior, even just a little at a time, can actually change your mental state and readiness to embrace healthy habits.

We all make excuses to not embrace healthy habits, what determines your success is whether you let those excuses hold you back or move forward despite them. To get yourself from preparation to action, start small. If time is a factor and you want to start an exercise program, set a goal to come to the gym for 10 minutes, two times per week.

Keep in mind that lapses and relapses happen to the best of us. The best thing you can do is acknowledge the (re)lapse and figure out how it happened so you can avoid it in the future. It may be that you need to step back, reevaluate whether your goals are realistic for you at this point in time, and modify them if necessary. Small steps toward healthier habits are still steps.


Energy for Spring: Mamma Chia Clean Energy Beverages Review & Giveaway

I haven’t posted in a few weeks because the weather just had me so down, but with temperatures yesterday in the high 50s, I think Boston has finally turned a corner! It may not be spring quite yet (we’re back in the 30s now), but it finally feels like we’re out of the woods with all the record-breaking snow.

Even though the beautiful weather on Wednesday gave me a boost of energy to get me through a run that I considered skipping, sometimes you need just a bit more to pull you out of the winter slumps.

Through a partnership with FitFluential, I had the opportunity to try the new Mamma Chia Clean Energy Beverages and they have been just what I need to give me that extra boost (and one that I can feel pretty good about).

I received all four flavors of the Mamma Chia Clean Energy to try: Grape Power, Cherry Charge, Raspberry Razz, and Blackberry Blast.

So what makes these drinks so special compared to other energy drinks?

Mamma Chia Clean Energy combines the power of chia seeds, which I love, with the clean energy of guayusa (gwhy-you-sa), an Amazonian tree whose leaves are used to make tea. The drinks are made with organic fruit juices and are sweetened further using organic cane sugar.

Each 10 oz. serving contains more than an entire day’s worth of Omega-3s (2500mg), 25% of your daily fiber (6g), 90mg of natural caffeine (about as much as a cup of coffee), twice the antioxidants of a cup of green tea, 14g of sugar, and 4g of protein.

Like all Mamma Chia products, the new organic Clean Energy Drinks are Non-GMO Verified, gluten-free, vegan, Kosher and USDA Certified Organic.

I was wary of the texture when I opened my first bottle because while I use chia seeds in a lot of my recipes (and have added them to my protein shakes before) drinking a bunch of them down in fruit juice isn’t my norm.

The texture definitely isn’t for everyone because you can really feel the chia seeds, but it kind of reminded me of the Orbitz drink from the 90s, which despite what Time magazine has to say, I really enjoyed.

All of the flavors were good and just subtly sweet, but my favorite by far was the Blackberry Blast. It reminded me a little of my mother’s homemade blackberry jelly.


After each of the drinks I felt refreshed and like I had made a great decision for my body. Energy properties aside, the amount of Omega-3s, fiber, and protein far and away make this drink healthier than any other I’ve seen out there. Plus who doesn’t love a little inspiration under the cap of your energy drink?


While I love the amount of beneficial ingredients, the amount of sugar is admittedly more than I like to have in a serving. That said, this isn’t a drink you would have on a daily basis (at least for me personally), just like I wouldn’t have a Red Bull on a daily basis. For me, these truly are for that extra boost of energy once in a while.

Retailing for $2.99, the Clean Energy organic beverages are available at select retailers, including Whole Foods, Safeway and Target.

I’d love for you to try them for yourself and see what you think. To help, Mamma Chia is offering a giveaway for Fighting for Wellness readers that includes:

  • One week supply of Clean Energy beverages
  • One week supply of Chia Squeezes
  • Mamma Chia Camelbak water bottle

Check out Mamma Chia on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest, then enter the giveaway below. I can’t wait to hear what you think!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Support Eating Disorder Awareness and the Boston NEDA Walk

You may have seen my post yesterday reviewing the book The Perfection Myth as part of National Eating Disorders Awareness week, which is February 22-28.

As I mentioned then, and in the past, I struggled with bulimia and disordered eating beginning in high school and extending in various iterations in college. My disordered eating did not look the way you might expect based on TV shows, movies, and what we are taught in health class.

For that reason raising awareness about disordered eating is very important to me. This year I decided to take that passion a step further and joined the Boston National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) Walk with my friend and fellow blogger Caitlin.

NEDA walk

The walk is on April 26th and in the meantime I am fundraising for the organization. With 60 days until the walk I have raised $123 toward my goal of $300. I would love your support in reaching (and hopefully surpassing) that goal!

Check out my personal page to read my story, learn more about NEDA, and support me in the walk if you’re able. No donation is too small.

Thank you in advance and please feel free to reach out if you have questions about the organization. If you are struggling with an eating disorder, there are many resources on NEDA’s website to find help.


The Perfection Myth {Review}

You may have already seen on another blog or website that this week is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. As someone with a history of disordered eating, bringing awareness to the many different ways it can look is very important to me.

Just as important as identifying disordered eating is to recognize that it can come about in a lot of different ways. For many, disordered eating stems from a need for perfection, even if perfection is ill-undefined.

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to read an advance copy of The Perfection Myth: How to Break Free From the Dogmatic Chains of Health and Dietingby Madelyn Moon, which is available on Amazon (today the Kindle version is just 99 cents).

I was particularly interested in reading this book from the perspective of both a fitness professional with a master’s degree in mental health counseling and as someone who has dealt with these issues herself.

This book is a quick read at less than 100 pages, making it great for a commute. It’s direct, honest, and utilizes a lot of the author’s own experiences to highlight why a pursuit of perfection can be a detrimental one.

Much of what I read could apply to several of my clients. It was great to read what helped the author break free from her own pursuit of perfection because different things work for different people.

That said, I did feel like there was a bit of generalization that might not apply to every person who is dealing with disordered eating or a strict pursuit of the perfect body. In fact, much of what the author discussed didn’t apply to me, despite my own history.

Even still I found great value in what the book had to say about the media, rules we place on our eating, and generally allowing other people’s experiences to shape ours. She encourages readers to stop the comparison game and stop putting so much emphasis on obtaining self-confidence from how we look, instead allowing our inner confidence to reveal the sexiness and beauty we all possess.

My only real complaint with the book, if it can even be called that, is that despite encouraging readers to cast off the dogmatic chains of health and dieting, there are a lot of expectations and dos and don’ts for readers.

One of my favorite sayings is “Don’t should yourself.” Essentially it means that when we qualify an experience or behavior as something we should do, we are accepting someone else’s notions of what is best for us. Yes, I realize that the saying in itself is someone else’s notions, but you get the idea.

Often in the book readers are told to do this or don’t do that. I agree that there are aspects of society and the pursuit of perfection that are detrimental and that we would perhaps be better off casting away, but by making that decision for readers rather than allowing them to make it for themselves, I’m afraid some of the message is lost. Does the book instead just provide yet another expectation for a different type of perfection?

What is absolutely clear is that the book made me think about my own rules and expectations for myself and clients. It challenged some of my beliefs and strengthened others.

Overall I enjoyed the book and can envision recommending it to clients who are struggling with disordered eating, trying to lose weight, or who are otherwise caught up in others’ expectations of them.

Check it out on Amazon and decide for yourself. I’d love to hear what you think!


Winter Workout: Shoveling Snow

If you’ve had a month like Boston, you’ve done your fair share of snow shoveling. With Boston’s latest storm we’ve had something like 6 feet or so of snow in just 17 days. We’ve far exceeded our average for the season and there are more storms on the way.


With all this snow, several of my clients have had to reschedule their training sessions. Understandable given the state of public transportation in Boston these past few weeks, but still unfortunate. What a lot of them have said though is that they’re getting their exercise by shoveling their driveways and digging out their cars.

So I decided to see just how many calories I would burn shoveling myself out after this most recent storm.


Keep in mind that everyone’s calorie burn is a little different based on your weight, how hard you’re working, and your base metabolism, but this will give you an idea of whether shoveling snow really serves as a workout replacement this winter. I used my Garmin heart rate monitor to track my calorie burn.

Over the course of an hour and a half yesterday, I helped Joe shovel the sidewalk before moving to digging out my car.

This was no small feat given I couldn’t even see the car when I started. In fact, about 10 minutes in I started to doubt that I was working on my car at all until I got enough snow removed to verify the color.

With each shovel full of snow, I had to find a place to put it. When your city has received this much snow, there isn’t exactly much you can do with the excess. That meant that each shovel full had to be walked to the nearest snow bank and heaved to the top. We’re talking somewhere between 7-8 feet high.

Let’s just say my legs got a workout from assisting my arms with those heaves (score 1 for push presses).

So after an hour and a half, how many calories had I burned?


In 96 minutes I burned 623 calories!

That’s admittedly fewer calories than if I’d gone for a run for 96 minutes, but certainly not too shabby at almost 6.5 calories per minute.

So don’t beat yourself up too much if you miss a workout or two this winter. Just don’t use shoveling as an excuse to eat and drink whatever you’d like. After all, the sun will come back out eventually. We can’t hide under puffy jackets forever. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.


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