Why You Should Apply For the BetterU Makeover Challenge

I could list out a hundred reasons why you should apply for the 2015 Springfield Go Red BetterU Makeover Challenge. But sometimes a picture is worth a 1000 words (or reasons). Watch this video about  survivor and BetterU 2014 participant, Laura Farmer.

If you have a family you love, if you have heart disease risk factors, now is your chance to make a difference in your life and theirs. Get the application here and send it in by April 30 at 5 pm to the Springfield American Heart Association office.

Dreams to Reality: How to Escape the Time Crunch

How to Escape the Time Crunch

After reading 168 Hours and keeping my time journal for three weeks, I committed to do three things:

  1. Complete my 100 Dreams list.
  2. Review my core competencies.
  3. Stop multi-tasking.

The goal of these efforts is to try to escape “the time crunch”. I would love to report that I have done so but I can’t. I still feel like there are never quite enough hours in a day. I do feel like I am getting a bit more out of those hours. As I’ve worked on these three goals I’ve learned a few things .

To say yes to your dreams you have to learn to say NO first.

The goal of writing down 100 Dreams is to look at the list and find the theme, your WHY if you haven’t found it yet. I know my WHY but I found it evolving in my list.

  • Go back to school….for a Nutrition or Public Health degree.
  • Start a mastermind group for female fitness professionals.
  • Sell my own line of teas.
  • Write a manifeso.

I love being in the gym with my team but my list reveals so many other ways I can empower women with health and fitness. Being able to do all of the things I dream requires me to stay focused on my WHY and stop getting distracted with the things that don’t make sense to my mission. This is where the problem is for most of us.

We make a list of things we want to do and then we let other peoples’ agendas get in our way.

I know I’ve been guilty of this recently and it’s been making me pretty miserable. I am happiest and healthiest when I am fully engaged in living my purpose. If I am caught up in activities that don’t align with my WHY, I find myself tired and detached. To live my WHY I have to say NO to those things that don’t support my Dreams. This is why the 100 Dreams List is so important. It’s a touchstone to your WHY. Even if you don’t read the book I encourage you to do this exercise. See what it tells you about the path your living.

All work and no play makes one very dull (and cranky).

I have other passions that, to be a happy and whole person, I need to make sure I find time for. I am in the lucky of position of being fully in charge of my leisure time (childless by choice) and even having weekends where I am completely on my own. Despite this freedom, I often feel compelled to keep working, getting less and less productive as I go. If you choose to fill all your hours with only work projects, no matter how passionate you are about that work, you will still burn out. I need to take my breaks, turn off “the business” and reconnect with family, friends and myself. I always tell people to make appointments with themselves for their workouts, to put themselves on their to-do list. I need to do this for ALL the things I want to do in my life not just workouts, writing and paying the bills.

I’ve started adding my Mandarin practice to my daily to-do list. Not only is learning a new language quite fun and great for my maturing brain but it will help with some other dreams on my list. I put meditation on my to-do list because it has become as necessary as my workout. It gives me focus and helps me deal with difficult questions or energy slumps. I’ve also started cutting off work after the last training session. Before, I would come home and go straight to my desk to check in clients, check email and do any session follow up tasks. However, I am easily distracted and much less patient at the end of a long day. I am also much less efficient than I am first thing in the morning. I decided 99% of these tasks could easily wait till the next morning. Setting a cut off time for work activities has helped me get more time to read, connect with Brian, meditate or practice yoga. Find a time that works for you to shut down work and do something just for the enjoyment it brings you.

Know when it is time to ask for help.

There are the things I love to do, like train and write. There are things I do well but I don’t necessarily enjoy, like keeping up the books balanced. Then there are the things that, for lack of a better word, I suck at doing but also hate to do. Cleaning house is one of them. If you’re not good at something and you hate it don’t be afraid to outsource it. Getting someone to clean the house is on my dreams list. It’s something we’ve discussed from time to time but never acted on. This year, if both Brian and I want to have time and energy to do what we love, we have to make it happen.

I’ve added some new tools to my toolbox to help me run the business and the household. I using new social media tools (namely CoSchedule) to make sure my posts happen when you are more likely to see them as well as posting less of often. I don’t want to overload your News Feed (wasting your time) and I only want to give you things you will find valuable. Plus it frees up the time I am on Facebook and Instagram to respond to your questions and comments and not trying to decide what to say or share.

I’m using GatheredTable to help plan my weekly menus. I gave them my specifications (vegetarian, no dairy) and let them run with it. It’s no problem to add a house favorite to the menu if I want to but it saves me the hour or so I would normally spend leafing through my cookbooks and issues of Clean Eating magazine. I switched to Quickbooks Online because it downloads information and reconciles most of it automatically. Yes, there is a monthly fee involved but it is worth the time I save each week. The busier I get, the more I understand the value of my time and the more willing I am to try new ways of doing things. Don’t undervalue your time. Getting help doesn’t mean you’re lazy, not a good enough mom or wife or that there is anything wrong with you.

It’s a work in progress. The more I let the Dreams list guide me, the more I learn to turn off the noise and be present, the better it gets. I’ve resolved to spend a little more time dreaming each week so I can complete the list. The goal is to have those 100 Dreams down (at least this version) by my 40th birthday…which is in about 11 weeks. My 30s have been quite the learning experience. I am certainly in a much different place now than I was when I turned 30. (A place I honestly never would have dreamed of before). Now that I know all that is possible I want to set my sights even higher for my next decade.

4 Fit Travel Tips To Stay Well On (and Off) The Road

FItness Favorite Things

I love to travel. I love it almost as much as I do coming home.

I love to explore new places and try new foods, but I also crave coming home to hard-boiled egg whites and Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal.

I look forward to each trip (they never seem to be more than a few months apart) but upon return I hit the ground ready to get back to my clients and my routine.

Navigating this last trip to Phoenix was particularly challenging. It was my first trip with my mother and my husband, who move at vastly different speeds. It was a trip for fun (more to come about the side trip to the Grand Canyon) and for work (check out my thoughts from the ACSM Health & Fitness Summit). The first few days were spent in a car or hiking, with no real schedule. The rest of the weeks was spent attending as many sessions as possible, then roaming downtown Phoenix in search of dinner.

I enjoyed my week off but that doesn’t mean I still didn’t seek out my creature comforts. My favorite things this month are a couple of things things that helped me stay sane on the road, on that helped me get back into my routine and a one taste I craved when I returned.

Spa Water and Breakfast at the Hyatt Regency

4 Fit Travel Tips To Stay Well On (and Off) The Road

I love Hyatt hotels. They are our first choice no matter where we go because they just seem to try a little harder. The staff is always friendly and our every need is always taken care of. Our first night in Phoenix (after the hike and road trip from the Grand Canyon) we rolled into the Hyatt Regency Phoenix late in evening tired and probably quite dusty. I was so grateful for two containers of icy fruit and vegetable infused waters waiting in the lobby. I drank at least 3 glasses while Brian checked us in. Each morning new flavor combos greeted. I would grab a cup to drink as walked out the door to start the day . Since Brian has Diamond status, we get a complimentary breakfast when stay at a Hyatt Regency. No matter what the day brings you set yourself up for success witha good breakfast. Sometimes there is a Regency Club and sometimes there is restaurant breakfast. In this case, it was a restaurant with a glorious buffet. If I couldn’t have my oatmeal at night, I could certainly have it in the morning with eggs and fresh berries. If you’ve got a trip coming up I highly recommend you check for a Hyatt Regency or Hyatt Place first. Hyatt Place doesn’t have spa water but they have free breakfast for all!

Starbucks Bistro Protein Pack

4 Fit Travel Tips To Stay Well On (and Off) The Road

I didn’t pack any GoPicnic meals because I assumed (silly me) that there would be some sort of store nearby that carried them. Sadly, the closest thing to our hotel was an ill stocked CVS. Next door to the CVS, however, was a Starbucks that sold Bistro Box Protein Packs. I grabbed two because I knew I would have very little time to eat lunch during the conference. The Protein Packs are really hard to find (my local Starbucks do not stock them) but when you can find them they are a lifesaver.

The Protein Pack has cheese, a hard-boiled egg, apples, grapes, peanut butter and bread and come in at just 380 calories – perfect size to fuel my next workout (or your next day of sightseeing).


4 Fit Travel Tips To Stay Well On (and Off) The Road

Before leaving for a trip, make sure you have something to eat when you get home. I’ve been taking advantage of the 3-month free trial at GatheredTable to see if the meal planning service would help make the best use of my 168 hours. The weekend before we left, I made the sweet potato and black bean burritos from my weekly plan, freezing the leftovers for our return. Hanging out at the airport on the way home, I perused my weekly menu and made my grocery list for the next day. The recipe choices can be customized (vegetarian and dairy free for me) as can how many days you want included in your plan. The recipes I have made have been amazingly simple and use easy to find ingredients. The burritos weren’t a hit, they weren’t bad either. However the pasta with broccoli, walnuts and edamame and the asparagus frittata will probably become staples in our dinner rotation.

Plum Deluxe Oregon Breakfast Black Tea

Plumb Deluxe Oregon Breakfast Black Tea

Of course I drank my share of tea on this trip. From the morning cup of English Breakfast at the hotel to the cup of Mint Majesty from Starbucks to warm me up in a freezing conference center there was no shortage of tea drinking on the road. Travel always reminds me life is too short to drink bad tea. Tea bags from brands like Tazo and Mighty Leaf  will do the job,  but they are not nearly as satisfying as the variety of loose leaf teas I choose to drink at home.  I fell in love with the Oregon Breakfast black tea while doing my review of tea subscription boxes and it was all I wanted on my Monday morning back to work. The addition of hazelnut essence (and maybe the gratitude) to the black and honeybush teas makes this one of my new favorite brews.

I also love sleeping my own bed, my protein pancakes and getting back into my gym. I’m a great traveler, but I’m also quite content in my routine. What creature comforts do you miss when your gone? What next great adventure are you looking forward to?

30 Minutes a Day Isn’t Enough for Fitness or Fat Loss

You’ve probably seen the headlines:

Sitting is the New Smoking

Your Chair Is Killing You

The Most Dangerous Thing You Do All Day…

Yes, our sedentary lifestyle may be Public Health Enemy #1. At the ACSM Health & Fitness Summit I had the pleasure of listening to an engaging presentation on this subject from Dr. James Levine. The noted scholar and author reviewed the data around something called NEAT and obesity.

NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) appears to be the overlooked piece in the great obesity debate. In fitness the focus is often on the workout. Government guidelines tell us to get our 30 minutes a day. According to Dr. Levine, what we really should focus on is the other 23 1/2 hours in the day. He told us that two people of the same weight can differ in daily caloric intake by as much as 2000 calorie per day. How is this possible? First, it helps to explain what makes up our metabolism.


If RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate) is mostly determined by body size and TEF (Thermic Effect of Food) is fairly stable, the difference is in our activity level. According to Dr. Levine the average exercise is burning around 100 calories per workout. That is certainly not enough to explain the 2000 calorie per day difference. NEAT, defined as all activity outside of sport or exercise, can be dramatically different for the cub dweller and the cashier.


What does this mean to someone on a fitness journey? It means that a hard and fast run on Sunday morning does not give you permission to sit on the couch the rest of the day. It means that your after work sweat session in the gym doesn’t allow you to stay glued to your office chair all day.

For health and fitness, we all have to get up more. And it can be just as simple as that. In my previous life I lived by my calendar of never ending conference calls and project deadlines. I get that getting up for a walk every hour just isn’t possible. We can stand. It can be that simple. Standing up burns more calories than sitting and it gets your body of the unnatural position sitting hunched over your computer.

According to JustStand.org here are the benefits to the body of standing vs sitting.

Health Benefits Associated with Standing

Standing is a great first step, but we need to do more. Here’s a list of every day tasks and situation to start to think about differently. Some of these you’ve heard before but perhaps there are on or two you’ve never though of.

  • Add Steps to Your Daily Commute

    This can be accomplished in any number of ways. Walk or ride your bike to work instead of driving if it’s safe and a reasonable difference. If you take public transit, get off a stop or two early so you can get a few extra steps in. If you must drive to work, then park far away or take a couple of laps in the parking lot before you go inside.

  • Stop Emailing and Texting Colleagues

    Face time fosters more collaboration in addition to getting your body moving. If you compile a list of questions to cover in a 10 or 15 minute chat you’ll accomplish more in a shorter amount of time and eliminate the distracting back and forth of electronic communication.

  • Having Walking or Standing Meetings

    Let’s be honest. Most meetings draw out way too long. Dr. Levine shared that a walking minute is on average 11 minutes shorter than your standard meeting. Think about what you could do with all that time back!

  • Go Outside for Lunch

    This applies to the office worker, the work at home blogger or stay at home mom. If you get outside you will move more. Walk to the park to enjoy your food or a neighborhood café to get away for a few minutes. The kids can play or you can reconnect with a friend in real time (vs. Facebook).

  • Get Off the Sidelines

    I have so many clients with kids in after-school sports. I challenge them to use that time not to just socialize or check email but to get active also. Do the warm up with the soccer team or walk the bleachers during the huddles (so you can safely watch the rest of the game).

  • Be an Urban Explorer

    Getting back to nature is great but for some of us the effort to get to a good trail or safe place to bike is just too much time out of the day. Instead explore what things your city might have to offer on foot. Museums, cultural festivals and home & garden tours provide a great way to have an adventure in your own back yard. Can you run errands on foot or bike instead of by car? Seek out new locations closer to home for things like dry cleaning or groceries. It’s better for you and the environment to use walk or ride instead of drive.

  • Get Organized

    I hate cleaning my office. It is in a constant state of disarray. I try to corral it with 10-15 minute organizing breaks. This gets me up and moving for a few minutes while keeping my office from getting too out of control. This method also works with the junk drawers, your closet or the pantry.

Another fun get moving fact I learned was who came up with the 10,000 steps a day goal – the pedometer manufactures. Dr. Levine’s research says 7,000 steps a day is both adequate and doable – if you get out of your chair through out the day and if you get regular focused exercise.

Science vs Practice at the ACSM Health & Fitness Summit

Science vs Practice at the ACSM Health & Fitness Summit

Recently I spent a week in Phoenix at the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Health & Fitness Summit. As I review my notes and reflect on everything I learned I have mixed feelings.

I loved the opportunity to learn about the latest research in exercise, nutrition and behavioral change. Here are a few nuggets of wisdom I picked up that I hope to expand on in future blog posts:

  • NEAT (None Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) is much more important in weight management than we may have once thought. Did you know that 2 people of similar size can have diets that vary by as much as 2000 calories? It has nothing to do with their “metabolism” and everything to do with how much they move in a day.
  • The crunch really does need to go. Think about how much time we spend in forward flexion (hunched over our desk or phone). Do we really need an exercise that repeats that movement? No. We should focus on our core in ways that can reverse the damage of modern life and help us stay functional.
  • Exercise should be front line treatment for mild depression. The effects of exercise can be compared to those of common anti-depressants. In the UK, doctors turn to exercise first but the US is still far behind.
  • We often say we’re starving, but most of us don’t know true hunger. We eat for so many other cues that most people don’t get to experience the physical signs of hunger.

I also had a great time trying out new exercises and going to group workouts. With three workout classes (Kickbox, BOSU and Mysofasical Release) plus two workshops (Core Off the Floor and Partner Circuit Training), I’ve got plenty of new stuff to play with. Get ready for things like:

  • Buzzer Planks
  • Single Hand Tap Pushups
  • Monkey Swings
  • Single Leg Small Ball Burpees
  • BOSU Tricep Push Ups
  • BOSU Bridge Tilts

They all sound fun, right? Maybe the hour of foam rolling I did is more up your alley? I plan on teaching all my clients how to make their own roller for home with a sock and two tennis balls.

Science vs Practice at the ACSM Health & Fitness Summit

I appreciate ACSM for being science focused, for sticking to the basics and viewing the fads with a skeptical eye. What I don’t like is the divide between the have’s and have not’s. While I am a certified personal trainer and health coach (from ACSM and ACE respectively) I do not have a lot of other letters behind my name. Many of my fellow attendees work at universities, medical fitness centers and corporate wellness programs. There were a lot of PhDs, students, and wellness program administrators. I didn’t feel like I met a lot of people who work with the “average person”.

This is why I think a disconnect still exists. We’re all professionals, dedicated to creating a more healthy population. Yet I feel that there is a lack of understanding about the challenges exercise professionals face in the real world. I do not often get to work with healthy bodies. Most of my clients come to me with physical issues (like back or knee pain) or health condition to improve (like high blood pressure or diabetes). As a “non degree” professional I am supposed to refer them on to physical therapists and registered dietitians. The problem is many of these people have already been that route with no real solution. That is why they seek my help and I am not willing to turn them away.

I do have two advanced certifications (my ACE Health Coach as well as my Level 1 Precision Nutrition Coach) so my scope of practice is a broader than someone who only holds the personal trainer designation. That DOES give me permission to talk about nutrition and tools to assist with behavior change but it leaves some of my fellow CPTs at a loss. I understand I am not a doctor nor do I try to act like one with my clients. I don’t feel as though I practice “out of scope” but I think there are some at the conference who might feel differently.

I think these are the same people who don’t understand the demands an average woman is facing: relentless work schedules, boomerang children, aging parents, spouses who just don’t get it, body image pressures and the hormonal stew brought on by stress, the environment and menopause. It’s easy to say, “Exercise 30 minutes or day” or “Don’t eat out” when your life is research studies on a college campus or managing other personal trainers at a large fitness center. If you aren’t in the thick of it day to day you can easily lose touch with what the real world brings.

Perhaps it is also another by product of the gender divide. The ones who did seem to understand were the women I had the opportunity to learn from. Dr. Kara Mohr had a wonderful session on the real reasons we eat and how to deal with hunger. I took a moment to ask her advice on how to help my clients deal with husbands who insist on bringing home cookies and going out for pizza. She said something extremely profound. She said to ask them,

Why are you giving away your power?

I’m going to be using that phrase a lot. There was also a session with four women who came together to discuss the issues of body image and life transitions called the Wise Woman’s Journey. They only had 10 minutes each to discuss topics that could have lasted hours. I left feedback for the conference committee that they should have each had their own session. The next morning at breakfast I stopped to tell one of the presenters how much I enjoyed her talk and how grateful I was for the information she shared.

I also missed my blogging friends. At registration I met one other blogger but was never able to connect with her again during the packed days. There were a few sessions on social media but most of the attendees appeared to be rookies. I attended a great one by Fred Hoffman, an American living in Paris whose job I desperately want. He had great information but a bit basic for this “old hand”. Amanda Vogel did her session on the 7 Social Media Mistakes that she did at IDEA World Fitness but, since I saw it last year, I skipped it.

I don’t regret my decision to attend the Summit because I did come back with new skills and ideas. Plus I got to take a side trip with my mom to the Grand Canyon. I enjoyed the constant sunshine and blue skies. However in 2016 I’ll be joining my friends at IDEA World Fitness or IDEA PTI. I may propose to present my own session on blogging or going solo to start your own fitness business.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on real world fitness. What do you think exercise professionals don’t get? Where are we missing the mark?

Chocolate Cherry Bomb Protein Shake Recipe

Chocolate Cherry Bomb Protein Shake Recipe

Sometimes I like a little heat.
Sometimes I like a little sweet.
Sometime I like them together.

I think the person that first paired chilies and chocolate was a genius. According to The History Channel, that honor goes to the Aztecs. They were the first to take the cacao bean and mix it into a paste with water, honey, chilies, vanilla and other spices to make a chocolate drink. Now recipes for Mexican hot chocolate are quite common.

If you’re a fan of chocolate with a little kick you’re going to love my Chocolate Cherry Bomb Protein Shake. The combo of chocolate whey protein and tart cherry juice are perfect for workout recovery. The addition of a small square of Dagoba Xocolatl Dark Chocolate adds some extra antioxidants along with a hint of fire. It’s so delicious you’ll want to chug it but the heat will make you slow down.

Chocolate Cherry Bomb Protein Shake

  • 1 serving True Athlete Chocolate Whey Protein Powder
  • 2 oz tart cherry juice
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond coconut milk
  • 1 square Dagoba Xocolatl Dark Chocolate
  • 3-5 ice cubes

Add all ingredients into your favorite blender and blend until well combined. Pour and serve immediately.

Yield: 1 Shake
Prep Time: 5 Min
Cook Time: NA
Serving: 1 Shake

Per Serving: Calories 217; Total Fat 8g; (Sat Fat 4g, Trans 0g, Poly Fat 0g, Mono Fat 0g); Protein 22g; Carb 18g; Fiber 3g; Sugars 10g; Cholesterol 65mg; Sodium 219mg