Friday, November 8, 2013

Cauliflower Rice......Believe the Hype

Well, you definitely did not hear it here FIRST, but you can say that you heard it here......eventually. It has been blogged about, posted to FB, tweeted, Pinned, and Instagrammed in countless Paleo recipes. "It will never fill them up", I said. "It will take too long to make", I said. "I'm too lazy to make that," I said. Actually, that last one was true..
 So I am a little late to the cauliflower-rice party, but now I'm all dolled up and ready to dance.
 Oh.My.Gosh. I was so wrong! We may never go back to rice! I am an idiot. What the heck is my problem? This was so freakin' easy to make, and it was delicious.
Oh- and you know how brown rice has to cook for like.....oh, I don't know....10 days? This was an absolute snap to make from the chopping to the bowl.

  And guess what? 
I have a confession: I don't have a food processor. Your gasp was audible.

I know, right? What am I even DOING in the kitchen?? (I'm such a poser.) In fact, when the Food Network finally calls me and begs me to do a show, that is what we will call it. Posers Kitchen.
But I digress.
 I made this WITHOUT the food processor. It took a few more minutes to chop, but the cauliflower lends itself to crumbling pretty readily, and after just a few minutes of constant chopping, I was using my Julia Child voice, and feeling quite pleased with how funny I am. My husband is so lucky. Good times, here in my kitchen. Good times. 
But if you have a food processor, or if you want to buy ME a food processor, this dish would take , like, 2 seconds. Maybe longer, but you get my drift. 
So, my cauliflower rice didn't win any visual awards because as much as I chopped it, it still resembled a kind of lumpier rice. But that didn't affect the flavor at all. Even the rice-lovers in this house really loved it and to my surprise, these man-children were not prowling about ravenously later in the evening. Win-WIn. Next time I will remember to take a picture.
 I will definitely be making this again. And again. And I will probably try to be legit and buy myself a food processor. Ooooo look at me,.... miss fancy pants in the kitchen.
 So, what we have learned here today,(and I am summarizing) is that imitating the voice of a famous chef, makes the chopping more fun and makes you feel better about yourself. And that sometimes peer pressure is good and you should just cave and make the damned stuff everyone is raving about. You can thank me later.

So, here is the recipe from Nom Nom Paleo for the cauliflower rice. And below is the super-easy recipe for how we made our Mexican Chicken Bowls, using it.

Crockpot Mexican Chicken Bowls
Enough boneless chicken thighs to feed our family (rinsed and trimmed of excess fat).
1/2 jar of your favorite organic salsa (to make it easy, I use a spicy one and I don't add any other seasonings)
Roasted green chili peppers, chopped.
1-2 Tomatoes-chopped
1-2 Avocado-cubed
1 large Onions-chopped
Shredded sharp Cheddar Cheese

Rinse and trim the chicken, and place in crockpot.
Add 1/2 jar of salsa
Literally, you could just about any other vegetables and seasonings into the crock pot that you wanted to at this point.
Close lid and cook about 6 hours on high, or until the chicken easily shreds
Make Cauliflower rice (This can be easily re-heated, so it doesn't really matter when you make it.)
In each bowl, place cauliflower rice, then top with the shredded chicken. 
Add chopped tomatoes, onions, avocado and a TBS of shredded cheddar cheese if you desire.

And lastly, here is a picture of where I ran yesterday. It has nothing to do with this post, but I think a blog post looks sad without a picture.

Just Keep Going!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


My family has always enjoyed our trip to the beach each year. We have been going to the same beach since I was a little girl and the tradition has continued with our growing families. There are now 15 of us all together! Everyone in my family cooks really well, so we all share and take turns with the big family meals at night and those who don't have cook-duty, have kitchen duty. It all gets done rather painlessly and the delicious dinners that get turned out of that kitchen each evening are truly amazing! I am always so thankful that my parents taught us how to truly enjoy spending time with one another. It is a gift that I hope I am cultivating in my own children.
 So, being at the beach, there has been a lot of laying around in the sun, fishing, walking, looking for shells, etc. But I came prepared with a beach work out for this week and so far, I have been sticking right to it. It is really fast, requires no equipment and extremely effective. Here it is:
3 days a week: run intervals for 30 minutes (run fast 2 minutes, walk for 3 minutes, repeat)
3 days a week:
50 squats
50 lunges
50 ab exercises
50 push-ups
I did the body weight circuit today, and I noticed a few things. #1. Ummm...ow. I did the exercises in the order listed, and my legs were shaking like crazy! I am hoping a dip into the cold, oceanside pool, will help to stave off the kind of soreness that makes me accidentally hurl myself down a flight of stairs. This vacation house has a LOT of stairs. We shall see.
And #2. I had planned to do V-ups for my abs, but I didn't take into account how absolutely DEAD my legs would be! I laid on my back, and then could.not.lift. my legs!Seriously. I just laid there. My mind was saying "lift" but my legs were saying "no way." So, I opted for crunches and leg lifts....25 of each.
The whole work out took about 15 minutes, start to finish. Not too shabby. The cocktail with dinner will taste EXTRA good tonight. Hey-no judging......I'm on vacation, after all. :-)
Next up, I'll be dishing about vacation eats. No need to totally TRASH your clean eating just because you are on vacation! Who wants to go home with a big ole' gut full of processed food?
There are LOADS of delicious foods you can be consuming while living it up on your vacation! I'll be blogging about our special brand of vacation cooking and eating.

Friday, July 26, 2013

“Never, never, never give up” – Winston Churchill

I have asked my friend Sarah to share her story with you. Sarah's story is such an encouraging, inspiring and yet sobering reminder of WHY we do what we do. Why chasing after health and fitness is a worthy endeavor. I really appreciate her candor and openness during what is still such a difficult and painful process. I wish her the very, very BEST in her recovery and in finding a new level of health and fitness as she goes. No doubt she will need a lot of patience, but her attitude just can't be beat and I hope that she will keep us updated on her progress. She has included her email if you would like to ask her any questions or just send/need a note of encouragement! She's awesome like that. :-)
Take it away Sarah!

My story is a long one—but there are points along the way if you’ll stick with me. I am 50 years old and healthier than I have been since age 22.  Here’s the scoop.  I was a performance major in college, a singer who spent hours rehearsing in dance studios, having to dance and sing at the same time in full voice to play leads in musical theater—I invite you to try that 14-hour physical day if you don’t think it’s a workout.  I was in great shape.  And in those days, I ate ‘”clean” for the wrong reason---if you don’t fit into the cute little costume, you don’t get the part.  (at least a fortunate side effect was good health)  After college, I got married and kept it strong,  being nationally certified to teach full-out jump-up-and-down aerobics back when we thought that was healthy.  One day, God blessed me with a pregnancy.  Then...after teaching 11 aerobic classes one week, I was strangely unable to get out of bed one day.  With the pregnancy (and who knows what other reason), my digestive system went awry, and I spent those nine months trying to save the baby.  He was a healthy boy (you’ll hear about him later), and I was an unhealthy post-pregnancy mom.  I was never “right” again, and could never eat well without major nausea issues, anemia, some level of malnutrition.  Though the docs said I would be unlikely to have another successful pregnancy, God blessed me again, boy number 2.  When these boys were 10 and 7 years old, I was pretty fed up with bad health, and had visited many physicians, none of whom had good answers for me.  (I will mention here that my husband is a physician, and I have great faith in the medical community, and have had access to some of the best along the way—no knocking docs here,I was just a tough case).  Finally in 2001, a gastric surgeon at UVA suggested we take a drastic approach, as he felt the problem was with the way food moved through my intestine.  Thus, I had what the general pubic regards as gastric bypass surgery—yes, the kind of surgery that you read about 300-400 pound folks having, but not for weight loss in my case, for re-routing my digestive system.  I was indeed overweight, like 99% of our population, though we had trouble reasoning why, since I ate so little and was sick so much.  However, apparently this surgery was truly it.  In 2001, I got my life back.  The surgery was a success—I was able to once again live like a “normal” person, to eat (with dietary restrictions and nutritional concerns due to my different anatomy) and have faith that food was not going to be my daily enemy.  This was when I began coming back to life with a passion for nutrition like never before.   I had no choice—I HAD to get enough protein in every day, I HAD to look at every calorie as fuel, I HAD to stay hydrated, but it became a positive challenge to do so, and I loved it, I have to say.  I won’t lie, it made it a little easier that, say, ice cream actually makes me sick...but what a feeling of power to be able to choose something else and know it was good for me, AND also to know that, with my belief that “everything in moderation” can be viable, it IS okay to have 1 tablespoon of ice cream every so often.  If all of America only ate 1 tablespoon of ice cream, guess what?  Ice cream would still be delicious, we would still enjoy it and we could still be healthy.  There’s the rub.  We’re not eating 1 TBSP of ice cream... okay back to the story:

About 5 years after my surgery,  I was ready for the next phase, to get back to that feeling of physical strength that at that point seemed so far away in the past.  I know five years seems like a long time, but I am honest in saying it took me a while to get over “losing” 10 years of my life to feeling crappy 24/7.   Not that I never exercised, but I never seemed to gain anything from it other than the natural feel-good pheromones that are nice, but nothing permanent.  A couple of friends who were already way ahead in the strength game (you may know them...) encouraged me to challenge myself to a 6-week boot camp they would put me through.  They about killed me, and I smiled all the way through gritted teeth.  I told them every day, “I will never be your fittest, strongest candidate, but I WILL NOT GIVE UP.”  I distinctly remember one day, running on the treadmill with Trainer Man (our beloved Johnny BadAss) standing over me, dialing up the speed.  I kept saying, “I’m gonna fall! I’m gonna fall!”  and he just smiled at me, turned it up higher and said, “and the ground is right there under you, and you’ll get back up”—and I didn’t fall.  On my last day, when he made me bearcrawl around the track field for an hour in the rain, I knew it was only the beginning. 

From there, I started taking yoga classes, thinking my dance background would play in and help with some toning.   Little did I know where that road would take me.  The type of yoga I practice (and now teach) is based on 3 major principles:  strength, balance and flexibility, along with proper spinal alignment.   I have certainly spent my time lifting weights, but never have I felt so challenged as to lift my own body weight (I am not a teeny tiny yoga chick) and hold it in any number of strengthening poses—somehow to me, this was more real than lifting a barbell.  I think this is something every person has to define for himself—how most effectively one can do “weight work”, and my best recommendation would be to try some different things and find what YOU find is your most intriguing challenge that you can keep mounting.  When you get to that point of feeling not just “okay, I did my reps/laps/push-ups for today , so I’m done”, but rather, “Yeah, I killed that!  What can I do tomorrow??!!”, THAT’s when you’ve found the workout that you’re gonna keep doing and LOVING.   So, long story short on the yoga thing, my quads, my abs, my arms, my upper back, my core front and back (and it IS front AND back people, not just abs!) are stronger than they have ever been in my life.  I will likely never have the strength that your favorite trainer has—she’s a beast!!  BUT, I will brag that I continue to amaze my own boys (now very large and strong 21 and 24 years old men) with what I can do though they are almost a  foot taller than I am.  What 50-year-old mom doesn’t love THAT???  And who knew that even with the the old lady arm flab, I actually have a visible bicep!!   I will say that even since the old aerobic days, I still also believe in strong cardio work.  My settled-in program consists of a few days a week alternating a 5k fast walk/jog and a certain set up steps that I like to lap to total just under 3,000 steps per 45-min workout.  Okay, now, I have to throw this in here just for good measure, and yes, to brag...whenever I run into a friend I haven’t seen for a few months, they undoubtedly say, “OMG, what are you doing with yourself, you look like a million bucks and you are glowing!”  No lie, I hear it all the time, and while that is NOT my purpose here, ain’t gonna lie, it’s nice to hear----but better to FEEL!!

Okay now comes the clincher.     Remember that baby boy that started all this mess?  He was getting married on July 20, 2013, 10 hours away from my home.  For a year, I have been the most excited mom around, and any mom can understand.  So, Sunday night, July 7, after a couple of days of feeling rather strange, I was attacked by my intestines once again.  6am Monday July 8 my husband has me in the ER, and after several tests, they decide they have to do emergency surgery.  Somehow, part of my intestine had twisted, incarcerated itself, and died.  I was on the edge of being in a septic situation that would have been hard to come back from.  So the surgeons went in quickly and removed what had to come out, which indeed saved my life.   However, here at the local hospital, we have excellent GI surgeons, but they are not bariatric surgeons, such as my guy at UVA, who can rearrange the plumbing—so they really couldn’t put me back together.  I was going to have to be transferred by ambulance that night to UVA with a surgical wound left open, for my original surgeon to be able to try to fix me.  Unfortunately one of the major issues is that my body does not react well to narcotics.  As they dosed me to load me up, the narcotic they gave me put me into respiratory failure; I stopped breathing for a full minute and then breathed only 4 times the second minute.  They were able to give me two shots of another medication to counteract the narcotics (this is what they do to try to save overdose patients who mostly die of respiratory failure).   HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO HEAR IN THIS PART OF THE STORY:  The doctors, including my husband told me right then and there that if my heart were not as strong as it is, that respiratory arrest would have quickly become cardiac arrest and then...IF MY HEART WERE NOT AS STRONG AS IT IS, PEOPLE.    5 years ago I would have died on that table.  Incidentally the docs told  me afterwards that including kidney stones, childbirth, and heart attack, studies have shown that incarcerated bowel is indeed the worst pain humans experience (other than major wounds) and that folks often cannot retain consciousness through it.  I wonder if I had not spent so much time pushing myself and learning to go that extra mile, how I would have handled that....note to self.  Stamina ain’t nothing to sneeze at, and there’s only one way to get it.   

Move on to UVA, next day, surgery #2.  Long story short, my hero surgeon put me back together, God bless him.  However, we’re talking a vertical incision from breastbone to pubic bone through every abdominal muscle.  Let me remind you that it is now July 10, and I have a 10-hour trip to my son’s wedding in less than 10 days.  Let me also remind you that I cannot take any narcotic pain medication, in fact nothing stronger than Tylenol.  Throw in that I also didn’t react well to all the anesthesia of two surgeries (result major weakness and nausea) and I was rather a hurtin pup.  Finally add on that my blood pressure was highly elevated with no clear cause, and nothing seemed to be bringing it down.   HERE’S THE NEXT THING YOU NEED TO HEAR:  My surgeon kept coming in and saying “Im not worried about your blood pressure---your heart is amazingly strong and you can take a couple days of this no problem.”   Once again, a heart attack trying its best to happen but my heart wouldn’t have it!!  NEXT BIG MESSAGE RIGHT HERE:  In pain, with no abs to use, how in the world was I going go be able to get up, walk, keep from getting pneumonia, and above all, GET TO THAT WEDDING?   I’ll tell you how---remember those strong quads, that strong back body, strong arms, strong upper back.  This is what enabled me to even stand,  to pull myself up, and to hold myself erect and walk.  I know that sounds like no big deal—try lying flat in a bed, rolling over, sitting up, and then come to standing with NO use of your abs (and that’s not even including pain).  You won’t be able to try this, because you can’t disengage your abs—but trust me, it ain’t easy.  And without the strength of ALL these other muscles, it just  wouldn’t happen. 

Please hear me.  It’s not about how much weight you can lift vs. your gym partner. It’s not about what the scale says (I have no clue what my weight is, and I don’t care).  It’s not about what number is on the tag in your clothes.  It’s not about how many compliments or dates or wolf whistles you get. I will even go so far as to say it’s not about how good you feel when you eat right and exercise.  It is about being the strongest person YOU can be.    IT IS YOUR VERY LIFE.   If and when you face a serious challenge to your health—as can happen to anyone, especially as we all age, what’s going to save you?  your size 2 dress?  Your weight on the scale?  The attention you have gotten from others?   how many marathons you’ve completed?   No.  It is simpler than all that.  STRENGTH, NUTRITION, HEART HEALTH, STAMINA as best YOU can pursue them.   You can only improve in every way—where could the down side possibly be in that?   I could have lost my life, and I am on my knees thankful to God that He watched over me every second.  But the bottom line is, God gives you your life, and it’s up to YOU what road you choose to take it down.     Never, Never, Never give up!!

I danced with my son at his wedding.  Best day ever.

Sarah Pelfrey

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

What it looks like

So this is what it looked like on Monday. This is what I ate. Starting with the top left, my breakfast was 2 eggs+egg whites with sautéed spinach, tomatoes and onions. Meal #2 was cubed chicken on spinach topped with salsa. Meal #3 (after my work out) was a whey protein shake with almond milk, a banana and super green food powder (sneaking in vegetables here!), Meal #4 was tuna with a dab of olive oil, tomatoes and olives and meal #5 was lamb meatballs in organice tomato sauce w/ Moroccan seasoning, steamed broccoli with rice wine vinegar, a side salad and a glass of red wine.

Because of prepping most of the food on Sunday, the only thing that took me more than a few minutes was dinner. So, planning really is the key to sticking to clean eating. Chop your vegetables, separate your salads, boil your eggs, and have some "go to" meats already cooked. Buy some good, organic salsa and some organic spaghetti sauce. Don't keep junk food in your house and you won't eat junk food. If you want something sweet, eat fresh fruits and some good quality dark chocolate. It isn't about's about not putting crap into your body. If you are working out and you aren't losing weight........look no further than your plate. Don't go around hungry! Eat good, fresh foods and exercise.

Mondays I get in a short mile run in the a.m, then a good 45 min weight work out in the afternoon and  I take a walk in the pm either before or after dinner. I always find meal #4 to be the one that I can really take or leave. I'm not actually HUNGRY yet, but if I don't eat it, I will be ravenous by dinner and then I am much more likely to eat something that wouldn't be optimal for my goals. My focus is on building muscle right now, so that is the way I am eating and training.
Today I have a much harder cardio circuit to get through this afternoon, so my day will include more carbs, but still I'll end up with about the same # of calories at the end of the day.
Top right: breakfast was a toasted "Everything" bagel half topped with a fried egg and salsa, along with a greek yogurt, Meal 2: steamed leftover broccoli and leftover lamb meatballs, Meal 3:(after work-out) whey protein shake with a banana, almond milk and "super green food" powder and Meal 4 was london broil, on brown rice , topped with sautéed onions and a side salad (and a glass of red wine).

I have had a question recently about how to deal with food for those who are away from home all day. Leaving at 4:30 am and not returning until after dinner, commuting, etc. This does make it much more challenging to eat well, but I am working on a "plan" or guidelines to help those who simply aren't ever home and are sadly eating too many meals from their dashboard. If you have any suggestions, please let me know!

I hope that all of this tedious talk about food, is helping those of you who just don't seem to be able to conquer that part of a healthy lifestyle yet. Please know that I am actually much more interesting in real life, and I don't share pictures of my dinner to my friends!:-D  But this is such a key component in getting fit and healthy and feeling good and it is the number 1 thing that I am asked about the most, so hopefully.......this helps. 

Oh- and BTW.....those 2 pounds on the scale? They're gone. And I can tell you for absolute certain that I did not burn 2 pounds of fat in a day. See what I mean? Throw out your scale! :-)

Just keep going!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

A slice of I eat, how I live.

I get a lot of questions about what I eat. I thought that I would share my recent slice o' life with you to try to shed some light on what has become a much too complicated subject.
 I was back in VA visiting family and friends for two weeks. I got in a few (umm, like 2)work outs, stayed active outdoors with some kayaking and lots of walking. I ate things that I wouldn't typically eat on any sort of regular basis. For instance, my dad made homemade rosemary bread and was pulling it out of the oven when I came in. It was heavenly!! On Fathers Day, my nephew made a homemade german chocolate cake, and there was just NO WAY that I would pass that up! My nephew is 12 and he is proving to be quite the chef! Also there were were plenty of cocktails in those 2 weeks.....and some pizza.  It was a great time and I was definitely eating, drinking and being merry! I completely enjoyed myself and my family and friends and I wouldn't change a thing (except maybe that pizza, which sat like a rock in my stomach!)
 Now I am back in Colorado and it is time to get back to business. Let me share with you a few side effects that I am experiencing (and maybe you have too) since my little hiatus from clean eating and exercise: 1.A distended stomach. Sexy, right? But my stomach is actually slightly bloated. 2.Water retention. I am puffy. For me that puffiness always shows up worst, right around my waist. 3. the scale shows that I am up 2 lbs. and 4. I am dehydrated. From not drinking enough water, all of the travel, the cocktails and then getting back to this super dry climate. This shows up in my skin.....particularly around my eyes and forehead and also gives my muscles a "flat" appearance.

So what am I going to do???
I do not operate on a system of restriction and rewards so there is no ridiculous guilt. I enjoy food, I enjoy my life and thats that. I do not "throw in the towel" because I had a few weeks of less than optimal eating. No WAY!!
I do not look at the scale and say "Oh, well now I've gained 2 pounds. I may as well just quit. Whats the use?" Ridiculous!!
 ** A word on the scale numbers: RELAX. It takes an EXCESS of 3,500 calories to gain a pound of FAT. So unless you are eating like a sumo wrestler, you haven't gained actual body fat in a few days!**
  I don't like the side effects that I experience when I don't eat well. I don't FEEL good. My energy levels lag and I really don't feel like working out or doing much of anything after awhile. I know how good my body CAN and WILL feel as soon as I get back to my proper fuel and exercise. So, when I am ready to do that, I don't cut myself much slack for a few weeks. I make out my plan and I stick to it! For my body weight (regularly 120) it takes about 14-1500 calories to maintain that weight and to support my work outs. When I first started working out and really trying to get FIT, I had to do some calculating to figure out what kind of foods were going to give me the results that I waas looking for. These days, I can eyeball it and always fall right around that calorie target without trying. I just keep it simple and use proper portions of whole food. I will be strict for 2 weeks, in order to get back on track eating right and to get rid of any cravings. I prep food on Sunday to give myself (and my family), easy, good, fresh meals that are quick to prepare. There are no processed cookies, crackers, etc in our house. They aren't good for us, so we don't buy them and they don't tempt us. This is from today:
 It took me about 45 minutes to chop the veggies, cook the chicken breast, boil a dozen eggs,roast sweet potatoes, make salmon cakes etc. This is all in the fridge and ready to go. This is what my meal/fitness plan will look like this week:

Run in the am (short run)
Breakfast: 2 eggs+ 1 cup egg whites w/ spinach and tomatoes, coffee

Meal 2: cubed chicken w/ guacamole, steamed broccoli or salad (my sister showed me a delicious dressing for the broccoli using just mustard and vinegar.)

*work out*

Meal 3: protein shake with almond milk, banana and green superfood powder + roasted sweet potatoes

Meal 4: salmon cake + guacamole and/or salad

Meal 5: Dinner (always red meat, poultry or seafood +2 vegetables and red wine)

Walk in the pm
I drink 2 cups of coffee a day, water, red wine with dinner and sometimes hot tea.

I will stick to this pretty strictly for about 2 weeks. A few substitutions would be greek yogurt, another serving of fruit, some different vegetables etc. It isn't the fanciest meal plan, and I don't offer it up as perfect but doing this for two weeks, gets me back on track, gets rid of all of those side effects, gets me feeling great again and is certainly good for my body. I try to load up on lean protein and a variety of vegetables because this is what works best for me. Muscle is SO HARD to come by and upping my protein really makes a difference in the results that I get in my work outs.
After the 2 weeks, I always find that I am on a roll, all my cravings are gone and my energy levels are restored. I don't concentrate on "no carb" or even "low carb", I just keep it simple and eat more carbs on my toughest work out days and always load up on proteins, and vegetables. Between cooking my foods in coconut oil & olive oil and eating guacamole, avocados and whole eggs, I find that my fat intake stays right where I like it as well.
When I go out to eat with my husband or the rest of my family, I enjoy my meal completely, but still try to make good choices :salmon w/ vegetables or filet mignon w/ vegetables is pretty much on every restaurant menu! If I want dessert(rarely), I order it.
I guess what I am getting at is that you really SHOULD enjoy your food. There is little that is more satisfying in life than delicious food and good fellowship! But YOU decide what goes into your mouth and how much it will be. Will it be a bag of Doritos or a few slices of warm, fresh baked rosemary bread baked by a loved one? YOU decide. If you are trying to lose weight and get fit, be purposeful in your choices and your decisions....... take control of what goes into your mouth and into your body.
 Let me know if you have any questions about meal planning or meal prepping. I love to talk healthy food!!
Just Keep Going!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Crossfit nemesis

So, I gave up my gym membership. I miss my basement gym back in Virginia! While I loved having access to so many different weight machines, I actually realized that I don't actually use many weight machines! I'm pretty much a free weights kinda gal, and I would always rather get my cardio done outside rather than on a treadmill. So I talked with my husband and we decided to just start slowly adding pieces to our basement here. Our first purchase? Crossfit rings. Have you used these before? They are a mean and nasty piece of equipment that will put you to shame, no matter how fit you are, if you haven't used them regularly. When I first start back to using them, I basically feel like I am just thrashing around up there a lot. It's embarrassing, and I can feel BOB's eyes on me from over in the corner. But having used them in the past, I know that you have to just keep going, and eventually you will feel yourself getting stronger and there is less thrashing and more strong movement and there is very little that will target your abdominals and your back and shoulders, like these rings will. Talk about SORE!!!
 We also purchased some bands to help me to get in more exercises while I am still working on my strength. You can see the green band hanging in this picture, on one of the rings. (BOB looks so smug there in the background.)

 I use these to assist my pull ups and while I am trying to get strong enough to kip up into the transition phase of a muscle up.(BIG goals, people.......I'm aiming high!) I am actually using the purple band in this picture, which gives less help........and I was feeling it.

I have a long way to go, but I am somewhat encouraged by my pink jumprope. Guess what? I'm jumping rope! Yay me! It is no longer getting tangled in my ponytail and I am actually able to do a "double under" once in awhile (granted, it is usually by accident, but I'm doing it nonetheless, so I am claiming it as a small victory. Sue me.) For our next gym purchase, we are trying to decide between a wall ball and a jump box. Baby steps. :-)
  These days my work outs contain less heavy lifting and more body weight exercises, kettlebells, jump rope, and the rings, done in circuits.  I am back on track with my eating, taking my vitamins and my water intake. It feels really good.
  If you have gotten off track, do whatever is necessary to get back to eating good foods and exercising. Maybe you will have to make some adjustments. Maybe your schedule needs some work or you need to re-think your work outs. Plan your meals and don't get caught off guard. Consistent effort will pay off big time for you. Not just aesthetically, but mentally. Eating right and exercising enables you to deal with the stresses of life in a more balanced and consistent manner.(And if you are going to read the news these days, you NEED to work-out!) It helps you to sleep better and gives you more energy throughout the day. Don't let another day go by. Take action and even if you are just going through the motions at first, just do it anyway, I guarantee you will be pushing yourself before the end of that work out! You can do this. It isn't magic, but it really works. Be patient and just keep going. And as always if you have any questions or need help with where to start, feel free to ask me here in the comments or on Facebook at Train With Melissa , or email me at

Saturday, May 18, 2013

A Confession

  We are finally settling in a bit out here in Colorado. I have started getting the family "plugged in" a little more around the area, the house is finally in order and it seems that daily I tackle a new pile of "the-government-says-you-need-to-fill-this-out-because-you-moved" forms. Amidst all of this, our oldest son is looking for a job and has applied to CSU and our daughter is planning a trip to Africa (wimper). My youngest sons school plans are finally starting to come together and he starts drivers ed on Monday (gulp). My husband has been working out here since last year, so we have had his co workers and friends over for dinner quite a bit...... and we JUST got a dining room table last week! Of course, I am still working as a personal trainer to my wonderful clients. And we have actually managed to get out and see a little of this gorgeous state.
This is a picture taken from the top of Manitou Springs Incline. Holy Cow is THAT a leg work-out! Can't wait to try it again!

  Now, I know what your thinking. I can hear the trepidation in your voices as you cry, "But Melissa! What have YOU been doing about exercise? How have you been able to keep your healthy eating habits up with all of this chaos around you?" And do you know what my answer is? "I HAVEN'T." That's right. Little by little, life has been creeping in on my once-awesome routine and schedule and it has slowly eaten away at my healthy lifestyle, little by little, without me even being aware of it. Now, I don't want you to think I have been eating at fast food dives or suddenly buying cheetos and coke or anything. I hadn't given up, I had just let my healthy habits slip and slide away as I tried to bring some order to all the craziness around me.I wasn't sleeping well, I am having trouble drinking this filtered, county water (we have always had delicious well-water!), I had begun eating more quick-carbs and bread and fewer vegetables because they take longer to prepare. I was getting my work outs in, but my regular cardio had been anything but regular.

 My thought process over the past few months has gone something like this: "If I can just get things together for _________ and ___________, and if I can just get this whole _____________ organized, THEN things will run more smoothly and I can devote the time I need to my own health again." Sound familiar? It might.

 It all sounded perfectly rational. And then I got sick. <sound of car screeching> I am rarely EVER sick (see healthy eating habits referred to above). Now, I have no way of knowing if my illness was directly tied to my slacking off in looking after my health, but I will tell you this, as I laid on my back in the bed, sipping herbal tea like it was the elixer of life for a few days, it gave me some time to really THINK about the things that I had let go and I began to jot them down. If you flip past all of the "to-do" pages in my cute little notebook, you will find this little list: drinking water, taking vitamins, REGULAR cardio, food journal, more vegetables, sleep,Bible reading, yoga.......HOLY SMOKES! I had made it a point to do all of these things on a habitual and regular basis for years, and now I wasn't doing any of them with great consistency. No WONDER I had been feeling like crap!

   My point is that life is like that. You get thrown into the whirlwind and you busy yourself trying to find "order" again, when really, you should look after YOURSELF first, so that you are able to take care of those around you. When I am doing all of those things in the above list, I feel great. I handle things better. I am not "crazy-stressed-lady-whom-everyone-avoids", I am "calm-I-can-handle-this-with-grace-and-balance-lady-whom everyone-is-happy-to-see".

  So, this week I am back to a strict schedule until I can find my routine again. I work well with lists and  routines, so that is how I get back to it. I have ordered all of my vitamins and supplements and I am planning out my work outs AND cardio for the week. I have a food journal ready to write out my food intake each day to be sure that I am getting enough calories and it helps me to stay on track with good, whole foods.AND I am doing food PLANNING tomorrow, for the week ahead. Winging it-is for the birds!

 The blessing, to me, is that I have felt really great for a long enough time to realize that I am feeling lousy right now! So many people truly don't know how great they COULD feel. And once you've experienced it, you certainly don't want to go back!

 Can you relate to this? Has the chaos of life caused you to put your own health on the back burner while you "get things organized"? You may not work well with strict lists like I do, but I am sure that there is SOMETHING that you have used int the past to keep yourself accountable in some area of your life. Go back and use what works for YOU. I would encourage you to make your own health and well being a priority. It doesn't mean that you have to throw the fam to the curb, drag them with you! It's good for them too! Whatever you have to do, squeeze in time for yourself to MOVE and sweat every day. Just 20 minutes a day can be life-changing. Be mindful of the food that you eat, is it helping you or hurting you? Enjoy your treats here and there, but  CHOOSE to enjoy them and be mindful of what goes into YOUR body. It will help you handle all the other chaos of life around you and it will keep you from being "crazy-stressed-lady-whom-everyone-avoids", like I was. :-)

 Now, I have some new Crossfit rings to install in our basement and a brand new Again Faster jump rope to try out this week!( I really suck at both of these things, so this should be interesting. Preparing for super-soreness!) I am soooooo looking forward to the comfort of my routine. :-) Let me know what works for you, and be sure to check out my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter, or just share this blog! As always, I will be posting more recipes, as well as my trials, successes and failures as I go along. We're all in this thing together!
~Just Keep Going

Saturday, March 9, 2013

........and then life happens.

It happens to all of us. We are so focused, really on a roll and making progress.........and then life happens. The thing you didn't expect. That twist or turn that came out of nowhere, pulling the proverbial rug right out from under your once very purposeful, very driven feet. Leaving you sitting on your posterior, looking around wondering what-the-bloody-heck just happened here???

Well, that's me.

Within the last few months we found out that we are moving. From our home of 18 years. Across the country. Temporarily. So, in the next few weeks we are packing up only what we need and driving it across country to our new home-for-awhile. <sound of screeching car brakes> had a PLAN. I had a PROGRAM, people. I have GOALS to accomplish. I have constructed everything exactly the way I want it. HERE. What-the-bloody-hell-just-happened??

Of course there are lots of details, but it has left me thinking about how to balance things. How to continue to move forward with my personal and professional goals and what life demands of me at the moment. As I rolled these questions around in my head over the past few days, I came across this statement by Arthur Ashe:

This is so true, isn't it? Just keep going. Use what you have. Do what you can. And you know, you can always do much more than you think you can. We limit ourselves far too often, and put up our own walls, caging ourselves. 
So I am determined to keep this in mind as we make this move. I can't take my beloved garden that my kids and I worked so hard on all these years, that has provided us with so many wonderful vegetables. But I CAN begin to learn how to grow things in a new part of the country, and maybe cultivate some great time with my now older kids, as they help us put it all in. I probably can't take most of my gym with me <gulp>, but I CAN really work on my kettlebell work outs and start rocking the rings again and work my way around to piecing together a new (BIGGER) gym out in my new home. I am also REALLY looking forward to all of the new outdoor adventures that will await us out in our new home. Again, a great chance to cultivate new friendships and spend precious time with my almost-grown kids and my wonderful husband. 
So, while a part of me REALLY wants to back up against the wall, shaking my head and saying, "Ooohhhhh no. No you don't. Not me. I'm not going." The larger part of me pushes me on and whispers, "Yeah, but what if.......Go ahead. Give it a try." And so I shall. 
We have lots to do in the coming weeks and I am looking forward to blogging about it and sharing it! Right now I am off to use the gym in my basement, while  still can. Funny how a little change in perspective can make Leg day not quite as dreaded as usual. :-)
Just Keep Going!

Jeremiah 29:11

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Warrior Girl

So, we are on the road again. When I woke up in my hotel room this morning, I felt all "Warrior Girl" when I realized that I was going to have to go and hunt for my breakfast. Yes, I's a stretch, but I'm desperate, so at times, I flatter myself unnecessarily to keep myself motivated. "Warrior Girl". Don't judge. It works for me. But, I digress. There was no way that anything on the hotels breakfast bar was going into THIS body. Especially after reading the first few chapters of this new book:

I was already aware of most of the main points re. hormones and what you eat, but this book lays it out is such wonderful detail without getting so bogged down in the science-y parts that your eyes glaze over. Really, really wonderful book so far. So, after reading those first few chapters on the plane, the hotels breakfast bar looked more like a poisonous wasteland of pseudo foods just waiting to ruin my mood AND make me fat. Not this girl. Not "Warrior Girl". We will hunt for better food. Well, as it turns out there isn't much to choose from right here in this particular little town. Our choices were Cracker Barrel or the greasy spoon. So we ended up at Cracker Barrel, where they make you wait SO.LONG for your food, that you will pretty much scarf down whatever they slop down in front of you. I think they count on you being so wooed by the ambiance of the place that you will forget your gnawing hunger. "Oooo look! A fire." " Oooo listen! Country music!" "Oh cool! An old timey board game. Let's play!" <SO....HUNGRY...DYING>  Anyway, it was all good, we looked at crap-to-spend-money-on and eventually sat and ate.  I must say that I was surprised to find something on the menu that I felt decent about: Meat n' Eggs. It was 3 eggs, bacon or sausage, and sliced tomatoes (ditch the toast and add a side of fresh fruit). So, yay! For what we had to choose from, I felt like we made the best choice. My energy levels remained constant and I felt great all the way to lunch.
It reminds me that sometimes, despite our best efforts, we just have to make the best choices available to us at that time. There was a time in my life that we could not afford to buy organic vegetables or meats(umm... or anything, pretty much). But I learned to cook everything from scratch, started growing some food in our garden(which is a learning curve folks, don't let anyone fool you....we weren't canning all of our abundance those first several years. It was more like we all stood around rejoicing when ANYTHING grew! But we learned) and I fed my family a much healthier and cost efficient diet than take-out or pizza. My point is, that we educate ourselves and then we do what we can with what we have at the time.
And now, if you will excuse me "Warrior Girl" must go and hunt for her dinner.
Just Keep Going!
P.S. More on the book at Whole 30.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

So, what the heck should I eat??

  I think with the scores and scores and mountains and mountains of information that has been written in our culture about dieting and nutrition in recent years, it has left some people confused as to what the heck they SHOULD be eating. I like to keep it simple. In a nutshell this is the way I eat:
 I would add more healthy fats (nuts and seed ARE healthy fats, but there are a lot more) to this list, but other than that this is pretty accurate to the way *I* eat. I do eat a bit of dairy in the form of some kind of fermented source like Kefir, or Chobani yogurt. I rarely eat grains. And by rarely, I mean maybe once a week. I find that I feel better.....LEANER, without the grains and the dairy in my diet. But I had to come to these conclusions for myself, through experimentation.
 If I have sugar, it is either in the form of wine or beer(rarely) or a treat at a celebratory family event. As a rule I don't eat any "sweet things" during my day. Not sweet tea, not sweetened coffees, not donuts (hard), not the occasional cookie or piece of candy. And I don't have these things in my house. I feel like, as a society, we have become all too comfortable with sugar. For me, I put sugar in that special, celebratory category, and I find that I enjoy it's flavor and taste so much more than I did before. It is a special "treat". And I think thats where it belongs.
 My plate is typically half full of some sort of vegetables, and then about one quarter full of some kind of meat or poultry or seafood.One or two meals a day I eat starches as well ( usually sweet potatoes or squash).
  I  get 2 servings of fruit a day. Once at breakfast (handful of blueberries, orange slices or 1/2 banana) and then again after I work out. After my work out I will throw in 1/2 banana or frozen berries into my protein shake.
  I eat every three hours after breakfast all the way till dinner. This has probably been the single change that has helped me the most. As soon as I started doing this I realized that my mood swings stopped and my energy levels went up and my cravings vanished! So, yeah. Everyone likes mom eating every 3 hours. :-)
  Nuts and seeds make great snacks, so I have them around all the time. And as I said before I get healthy fats throughout the day in the form of avocados, nuts and nut butters. And I cook everything in  liberal olive oil, grape seed oil, or coconut oil.
  The main things I steer clear of are processed foods of all kinds and processed sugar of all kinds. I don't do fast food or sodas at all.
  As I said earlier, I had to come to these conclusions about what made ME feel the best, through experimentation. Once I knew how much better I felt adding a lot more nutritious food into my diet and taking OUT a lot of junk, it was a no brainer. I LIKE feeling good and having energy.
  So my advice is to experiment for yourself. Go grain free and add in a whole ton of vegetables, eat more protein, cut out fast food and soda, drink more water. If you need help in the transition you can always try the Whole 30. These folks have gotten it down to a science. And it's free!
And of course, my online personal training program provides nutritional planning as well as work outs for you to do, that will fit into YOUR personal lifestyle, with what YOU have available. And  I will be there every step of the way to guide you, motivate you and cheer you on during this process. Just send me an "Im interested, Melissa!" email to and I will send you the information on how it works.
 It is a journey. And the beginning is tough. But it is one you will never regret having undertaken. So keep it simple. Concentrate on good meats,  lots of good vegetables, no junk, no sugar. Eat the foods that your body was DESIGNED to eat. Just keep going.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

What works for me: Sunday food prep

While I am still reeling from the fact that I am actually 43 instead of 42, as I had thought, I had to set aside my train of "what-the-heck-am-I-doing-with-my-life" thoughts and press on. A new week ahead and we are much busier than I am comfortable with at the moment. One of the things that I do to help myself stay on track and not fall face first into the nearest bag of cookies, is to take about an hour on Sundays to plan out my meals for the week. I actually kind of like it, because I get a sense of satisfaction in preparedness. I usually cook dinner at home every night, so I will peruse Pinterest or just use my old tried and true recipes from memory. Our dinners consist of protein, 2 vegetables and sometimes a starch, sometimes not. Nothing fancy, and not hard to keep mental note of as I scan my fridge, freezers and cupboards for what I need at the store. Nothing too complicated there. Breakfast? Unless I have an unusual amount of time, it is pretty basic: eggs (scrambled, fried, poached) with whatever leftover vegetables we had from the night before. My youngest child is 15. He is somewhat feral in the morning and forages on his own for breakfast. (And no, there are no cereals, pop tarts, or breakfast bars here, so he typically will fix an everything bagel and an egg) When the children were smaller, I would fix everyone's breakfast at once, and if I remember correctly, I usually ate mine cold. :-) Again, nothing complicated. Pretty straight forward.
 But what about those in-between meals? Now THAT is where I can really get stuck. I eat every 3 hours from breakfast through dinner, and I feel SO MUCH better eating that way, but it was so difficult to find a way to remain consistent.
Enter: Sunday Food Prep. I go ahead and get things together for my week on Sunday. I boil a bunch of eggs, I steam some vegetables, I put together some salads, and I portion out my proteins and snacks. Here is what it looks like this week:

You can see from the picture my complex carbs are salads, broccoli and steamed carrots. My protein choices are baked chicken, sliced roast beef(pre-packaged), and salmon cakes made from canned salmon (cheap, but good!), Teras organic whey powder that I mix with unsweetened almond milk +1/2 banana(post work-out), almonds, and chobani yogurt (which also has fruit in it). My starches for lunch are sliced and roasted sweet potatoes. For healthy fats I ADORE the Wholly Guacamole, pre-made 100 calorie packs, Kens lite balsamic vinaigrette, and I always cook everything in coconut oil, olive oil or grape seed oil. If I get hungry (which I usually don't since I am eating every 3 hours) I will add in a spoonful of almond butter on an apple or munch on almonds.
 I just choose something from each grouping for my in-between meals. I don't worry much about serving sizes, I just always eat proteins and veggies first and I eat until I am full.I don't count calories. And I usually fix my teens something from this same pile o' food if they happen to be home.
Now  this week, we are going to be celebrating my mom's birthday!!! I am so excited to get together with the rest of my family. We have a tradition of going to a lovely little French restaurant in town and renting their private room and just having a wonderful time laughing, eating, drinking and just celebrating together. When we have special occasions, I enjoy them. I don't over think what I order and I eat pretty much what I want. I just enjoy the night and the special occasion and then I get right back to my clean eating the next morning as best I can when I am not at home.
So this is what works for me. It enables me to keep going and not really think about what I am eating all that much because it is already prepared for me.I can get on with my week and get all of the the other things done that must be done. It also keeps me from falling into the "quick and easy" trap, because I know it is there waiting for me if I am out away from home. 
So, maybe this is helpful for you. Or maybe you have another way that you have found to juggle eating healthy in your life, for your family. I would love to hear about it! 

P.S. I apologize for the layout here, I am still trying to figure out how to make this thing look like I want it to!! Thanks for bearing with me. :-)

Friday, February 15, 2013

My 42 (my mistake.....actually 43) year old gams.....

My legs after the work out I almost didn't do! Sometimes, you just have to turn off your brain and get started. I have been working hard on muscle building lately. And it comes really hard for my entire lower body, so I try to hit it at least twice a week. Right now, one day focuses on glutes and quads and the other leg day focuses a little more on hamstrings and calves. I have also started hiking our hills right after my work out, and I think that it is helping me to keep from being too stiff. Of course, if I don't eat right and get in all of my calories and protein, all my hard work in the gym just doesn't show up like I want it too, so I have to watch that part of the puzzle as well.

The work out:
Leg extensions- light weight 2 sets of 30
Wide stance bar Squats- light weight to failure, heavy weight to failure
Close stance Dumbbell squat- 3 sets 10 (25#)
Walking dumbbell lunge- 3sets 10 (20#)
Glute/ham raise with loaded bar- 3 sets of 10
Plie' dumbbell squat-3 sets of 10
Jump squats- 3 sets of 10
Leg extensions- Drop set
Hills hike

I am starting to see some results in my legs, so I am pretty happy with these 42 (edit: when I wrote this post, I forgot I am 43) year old legs right now. :-) Whooot!
Just. Keep. Going.
Edit: I am 43!!!! Not 42. When did THIS happen? Oh well, I guess I am even happier with my old legs. :-) This is what it's like to be me, folks. This.Is.What.It's.Like.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


People tell me all the time that they just can't get motivated to work out and they just don't know what to do. Now, a long time ago, when I would hear this, I would say to myself, "Ummm yeah? Well there's a word for that. It's called "lazy."" And then I would offer up some lame answer, pat myself on the back for being so good, and move on. (I KNOW, right? What the heck was my problem?) 
 Well, people still ask me about motivation a lot, but now I have a different answer. It's not that people aren't MOTIVATED so much as it is that people don't BELIEVE. Seriously, if I told you that I could guarantee that in one year you would lose X amount of pounds AND I could produce a picture of exactly what you would look like at the end of the year AND I could give you a little bottle of liquid that you could drink and it would give you a little taste of how awesome you would feel at the years end, you'd be motivated, Jack. (Sorry, Duck Dynasty reference)
  I think that most people who have trouble with their weight and have had a lifetime of dieting failures and starting and stopping with various exercise programs, just don't BELIEVE that what they are doing is actually going to make a difference. But it does. It DOES make a difference. It is a process and it takes time. But you just can't argue with science. If you move your body and eat good, clean, foods you will change the way you look and the way you feel.The changes that you CAN'T see usually come first: improved energy levels, better digestion, clearer thinking and a better mood. Then come the changes that you CAN see: clearer, brighter skin, improved muscle tone, better posture and of course, your shrinking size will eventually show up on the scale and the thinner you will need some new clothes in that closet!! Yes, it is hard at first.Yes, it feels like punishment at first. But it gets easier. And if you can just stick with it long enough to see those first results, you will be unstoppable. 
  I am motivated to work out and eat right because it is one of the few things that I actually have control over. I LOVE that I can actually manipulate to a great degree, what my body looks like and how I feel. And that is pretty awesome! So, keep going. Believe. It's working.
  Just keep going,

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Who does this chic think she is, anyway?

I hate the whole "describe yourself" question. After 43 year old female, I'm pretty much stumped, but I'll give it a go.
So lets see here.....I am a christian. Think about that unbelievably sweet and super- gracious Ann Voskamp  that wrote" One Thousand Gifts" . And now remove that thought from your mind. Put it far far away, because no matter how much I try to suck it in, that is just not me. But I AM a christian and I do love the Lord and I do *try* to please Him. And let's just say that some of us need a little EXTRA grace from time to time. If you could cross Ann Voskamp, with PINK, (the singer, not the color or that hideous stuff they sell at Victorias Secret) that would be a better description of me as a christian, I suppose. Many times I MEAN to do good, but I end up offending someone in the process.<sigh> Such is life.
 Also, I am a wife. I am married to one of those Johnny Bad Ass types who is always off doing whatever badassery there is to be had. He is away from home a lot, and we miss him here. We have been married 22 years and we still generally dig each other.
  I am a mom. Johnny BA and I have 3 kids. They are practically grown now, and we can almost look at them say with confidence, that The Great Experiment was a success. Yep, we home schooled 'em and everything. And you know what? They don't seem screwed up at all! Seriously, they are confident, intelligent and capable people that we would really like to hang out with even if we weren't their parents. So, ya know.......we feel like the world should give us SOME kind of award for that. But in all honesty, we didn't know what we were doing at all, when we started The Great Experiment and many times over the years, we would look at each other behind one of the kids backs with huge, scary, "Oh-My-Gosh-what-have-we-done?" eyes. But it all worked out (refer to the comment about grace, above). And we actually, really like them, so.....score.
  I am a personal fitness trainer. I KNOW, right? This is my job??? At 43 years of age? What the hell am I thinking? But actually it's all good. I train hard and I am a total nutrition geek. I am constantly amazed by the way the human body responds when we treat it well, and I like to share that with other women. A lot of women are down on themselves, and they shouldn't be. I like to show them that the changes that they want to see REALLY ARE possible and I want to help them learn to make peace with who they are and achieve their fitness goals. And that feels  awesome. ( I mean, no one feels awesome ALL of the time.... I'm not going all Richard Simmons on you here. Get real.)
 I am an unrepentant shoe hoarder. I love to cook. I hate to clean (Eat off these floors, and you're taking your life into your own hands). I am a farmers daughter. I love wine. I love to travel. I can't find my way anywhere. Seriously, I have a rare geographic deficiency. I blame my mom, because whenever you ask her for directions, she waves her hands around a lot. That's my story(sorry mom). I am addicted to my family. I love to garden, because I think I am so bad ass when we eat something that I grew, and it keeps us from eating psuedo-chemical-food. I like to do pretty much anything outdoors, and I actually really like my life (refer to the comment about grace, above).
 Thanks for stopping by!