Archive for the ‘General Posts’ Category

  For those of you who don’t know, I really enjoy doing obstacle course races. Not just any obstacle course race, mind you, but Spartan Race. These races are tough, challenging, and push you hard, but the best part is the amazing support system that Spartan offers. They post Workouts of the Day, Foods of the Day, motivational quotes, and offer practice sessions to “rip you off your couch”, as they tout in their slogan. They offer multiple races to target whatever level you may be at, with the Spartan Sprint (3-5 miles), Super (7-9 miles), and Beast (12+ miles). For the more adventurous, there’s the Ultra Beast (double the Beast course) and the Death Race. For the last two years, I’ve done the Texas Beast and plan on making it a yearly tradition, recruiting more friends each year to hit the course with me!


  So are you ready to Spartan Up? Are you ready to get “ripped off the couch”? If you’re ready to challenge yourself to do things you never thought possible, whether that doing 30 burpees in a row or winning your age group, then you need to check out Spartan Up! Spartan Race founder Joe DeSena has collaborated with Jeff O’Connell on this brand new book. The book isn’t available until May 13, but you can check out the synopsis now and pre-order the book on Amazon. I read over the synopsis myself, and generated some questions for Joe in an interview that is coming soon! But I also wanted to share a few thoughts after reading the synopsis, so here are some of the main points I’ve identified as thought-provoking, interesting, and important:

Spartan Up! embraces three main concepts: Question your Assumptions, Less is More, Discipline is Everything.

Self Control

“Our self-control pales next to the Spartans. I’m convinced they would have looked at us with disgust and disbelief.”

People think they can’t attain lofty fitness goals, but anyone can IF they keep in mind that it is truly a “way of life”. So many people want results NOW. So many companies advertise the shortest amount of time to see results. Some companies advertise that you won’t even have to put work in. But a real athlete and competitor knows that it takes a LONG TIME of working REALLY HARD to reach your ultimate goals. That’s why I believe it’s important to set “stepping stone” goals along the way to keep you hungry and satisfied at the same time.

Learning from Failure

You won’t always have successes. Sometimes, maybe even most of the time, you will experience failures. How will you cope? Will you make it a learning experience or will you let it bring you down?

Importance of Obstacles

“As Marcus Aurelius, the philosopher king portrayed in The Gladiator, noted: ‘Fire feeds on obstacles…and inversely dies without them.'”

What can an obstacle course teach you? It can help you recognize your limits, learn when to hold on and when to let go, when to ask for help, how to be a good teammate, how to analyze a situation, and how to move on after failures.

Battle of the Mind

Spartan Races aren’t just for your body. You strengthen and quicken your mind as well. Decisions made in the mud, with barbed wire pressing into your back, in cold weather and cold water help you make decisions efficiently in other areas of your life.

“History’s elite warriors have known that to win on the real battlefield, you must first win on the battlefield of your mind.”

The Spartan Race is aptly named, and reminds us of the Spartan philosophy that to “win on the real battlefield, you must first win on the battlefield of your mind.” The Spartan Race makes you think. Makes you analyze your situation. Makes you doubt yourself at times. But ultimately, it helps you win, whether that’s your age group, your battle with weight, in the classroom, or on the job.


“If you find the prospect of navigating mud swamps, hill climbs and walls to be daunting, imagine tackling them from the confines a wheelchair. Yet Michael became the first paralyzed individual to ever finish a Spartan race.”

This shows us that everyone has a story. Everyone has their own personal obstacles. But seeing people like Michael help us put our problems, challenges, and setbacks into perspective.


“If freedom is what you are after, it comes not from discipline, but through discipline.”

“Most people waste much of their days simply by not being organized and planning ahead.”

People often say they just don’t have time to workout every day, yet I’ve never seen a schedue that absolutely doesn’t allow it. If you are organized and driven enough, you wil make time.


“Can attitude be taught? I believe it can. The way to create great attitudes is to push through adversity. Once you have seen the dark side, everything looks brighter.”

Is it your body that needs to be changed? Or is it your attitude? You may have to start with the latter first.

Fit not Fancy

“Our philosophy is that all you need to be fit is intestinal fortitude and a will, and that equipment shouldn’t be the difference maker.”

Many people think you can’t be fit without a gym, but that’s simply not true! The Spartan Race is an extremely challenging test of your physical fitness, and you can train for it anywhere. The necessary equipment for most of the Spartan workouts include your body and maybe a rock or branch to use for weights or pull up bars. Spartan workouts literally leave you with no excuses not to do them.


“Why do a competitive race? Because you might be just dogging it through life.”

Finally, one of my favorite quotes from the article is the following, that “life was not worth living unless you were going to live it fully.”

So view the synopsis, grab the book, and sign up for a race. It’s time to get moving. Spartan Up!


For those of you out there who recognize the benefits of sprinting as well as circuit training, this workout is for you! This is a fast-paced sprint circuit that can be tailored to your fitness level simply by how many times you go through it. Beginners or advanced athletes on an active recovery day can run through it 1-3 times, while advanced athletes can get a great workout on a heavy day by doing this 6+ times.

So here it is:

50 yard sprint

10 pushups + 10 mountain climbers + 10 frog jumps

50 yard sprint

20 bodyweight squats + 10 reverse crunches + 20 lunge jumps

Rest 2 minutes, repeat!

Remember, today is the only day that matters. It’s not what you did yesterday, or what you plan to do tomorrow that counts. What will you do with your TODAY?

TODAY I will make a choice

 “Fitness Saved Our Lives: Two Sisters’ Journey”


Elizabeth and Morgan have two powerful fitness journeys. Elizabeth has survived cancer while simultaneously dealing with military deployments, moving cross country, graduating top ten percent from Purdue, and placing fourth place in her first NPC competition. All the while, she has used fitness as an outlet to transform her life and create a stronger mind and body to help reach her goals. Her sister, Morgan, has a powerful story as well. Morgan has overcome anorexia and decided to regain her health through proper nutrition and workout regimen, changing her life completely. Living a healthy lifestyle has transformed both their bodies and minds.

The sisters are not your typical cookie cutter success story. Most of the magazines portray motivating stories of men and women’s weight loss journeys. Through Morgan and Elizabeth we can catch a glimpse of the other side of fitness that people may be afraid to talk about.

Everyday people are diagnosed with cancer and disease.  Morgan and Elizabeth are here to remind them that it is not time to quit fighting. It is the hardest times that will shape you into the stronger person who you have always wanted to be. When the sisters look back on their journeys they see pain, mistakes and even heartache but they reflect on their lives now and can see how their past has proved their strength, taught them how to live and cherish their health, and take pride in their bodies and minds while molding weakness into newfound strength.

The sisters, who are now athletes, fitness models, and motivational speakers and writers, are dedicating their lives to proving that stresses and challenges can be utilized as motivation to overcome one’s greatest fears.  This is an appropriate topic for readers because everybody has to deal with stress. We all have battles each and everyday that we are forced to tackle. Some of us revert to bad habits, which can often lead to a downward spiral. Instead, the sisters are sharing their stories in hopes to teach that mental will is like a muscle. When you practice being strong it becomes a new habit. In life, it is inevitable that change and stress will enter our lives at some point or another. After all, you can’t spell challenge without “change.”

“By sharing our stories we want to inspire people. We want someone to look at us and say, ‘Because of you, we did not give up’” says Elizabeth.

Elizabeth’s journey began at age 20 when she married her husband who enlisted in the US Navy. Elizabeth began online classes at Purdue and moved to begin her husband’s career. During the next 3 years, she moved cross-country a total of 4 times! She was always interested in health and nutrition so she tried to make time to workout and eat healthy (so she thought). Elizabeth had always known that the gym and the workouts she had been doing were important but she didn’t really see the results she wanted.

“I thought since I had the time alone, I should really research how to better myself during that chapter of time instead of focusing on anything negative,” said Elizabeth.

Elizabeth decided to invest in a nutritionist and went from 24% body fat to 12% eating 5-6 healthy meals a day and learning the importance of nutrition. Her husband then left for his first deployment, leaving her a lot of time to focus on changing her body. So she did.

The past year she felt that she had really gained control of her life. She had learned the correct way to eat and workout and was doing exceptionally well in her classes, while her husband returned from the Middle East. It was too good to be true it seemed, as her advisor informed her that she had to return to Purdue for her last year of classes since she was running out of online classes to take. Elizabeth decided to move back home to finish her last year of college. She thought this was the last hard step she and her husband would have to overcome. They just went through multiple cross-country moves and we had gotten through his deployment, so they thought after graduation everything would start to become smooth sailing!

The week before Elizabeth was planning on moving home, she went to the doctor to get her yearly physical. Her insured doctors must be military based, so since she wouldn’t have them back at home, she thought it was important that she get a check up before leaving. That is where she found out she had melanoma. Since that August of 2012, Elizabeth has had 4 surgeries and 7 areas removed.

She moved home and began the classes like a normal student. Her professors and even her mother told her the best thing to do would be to drop the classes since she was flying to Florida to see her doctors every 3 weeks.

“I didn’t drop a single class. It was very stressful, time consuming and draining.  I remember sitting in my kitchen after I got off the phone with my doctor and I was so mad at my life and at God. I looked back and saw the past years of obstacles I’d had thrown my way and I just asked, “Why can’t I ever have a break?” said Elizabeth.

Elizabeth couldn’t relate to any of her friends or anyone who had these types of problems and felt it was unfair.  She really hit a low point in her life. On top of the cancer, Elizabeth was also told her husband would be sent for another deployment after she graduated in May.

“So the whole time I was home at school and having to go to all these surgeons and doctors left me no time to really be with him, and then he was leaving for another 6 months? It was a lot to take in.” says Elizabeth.

I was at my lowest and I decided that all I could do was pray. I prayed to just be a stronger person to get through this and I put my life in his hands. I felt everything was so out of control that the only thing I could do was my best. I went from trying to control every aspect of my life to understanding that life can and will throw anything my way,” said Elizabeth.

She never knew what is coming next but she did know that she was going to handle it the best way she could. In the end she knew her trials were going to shape every detail of her.

“Resisting the inevitable, complaining and feeling sorry for myself did absolutely nothing, so I decided to simply change my attitude.  Presently, my husband just left for his deployment and my melanoma will be with me forever, but I have accepted it and how things are,” said Elizabeth.

Now, every two months she goes to the doctor for her exams, which consist of full body screenings, lymph node exams, and CAT scans to monitor everything.

“Life is too short! I really feel that my apparent obstacles are actually blessings in disguise and they have made me appreciate my loved ones, my life, and really focus on my health. I have learned to be the person I want to be.”

The two sisters believe living healthy and mentally changing how they view life, really made them both different people. You are going to be in your own skin until the day you die, so you might as well be comfortable in it.

“Just remember: you are capable of anything you put your mind to. Whether you think you can.. or you think you can’t… you are RIGHT,” explain the sisters.

Morgan’s Journey was a mental challenge as well. Morgan battled an eating disorder throughout her high school career. At the time her life seemed out of control. She was suffering from the stresses of failing relationships and a difficult family life. Morgan felt she had no control of her life other than what she put in her mouth. Unfortunately, she began to react to her problems by controlling every bite she took, causing her to lose over 30 pounds.

She went through a few years of family and friends trying to help her, and finally she decided she to ‘retrain her brain’ and create a short term goal then more short term goals and so on. These goals varied from calorie goals that she wanted to hit for the day, positive affirmations, and even researching a new nutrition fact, exercise tip, or physiological information that would help her work to become better and stronger than the average person going about their healthy lifestyle. She wanted to not only put this in her past, but also become better through it and she did.

Morgan now has more will power than one can imagine, more concern for others who are in such situations, and most importantly, she now cares for and values her body. She would not be where she was today without overcoming her problem.

I feel that it is of upmost importance to address this issue as you will probably encounter people with a similar struggle more often than you may think.
 This is something that the average person does not want to make known to the public eye. This also is definitely not something one intrinsically knows how to fix or may even be at the stage where anyone’s help is welcomed. 
Because of that, it is important to understand the relevancy of this issue and that there absolutely is a way to surpass it, just as there is a way to surpass any obstacle you set your mind to,” says Morgan.

Morgan now has added over 30 pounds of muscle to her frame. She has a stronger body and mind. Her passion for health has also inspired her to apply for the IU nursing program. Morgan was one of the 90 students accepted out of over 1000 applicants to the program.  Morgan’s determination and passion for health has forever changed her life.


Morgan and Elizabeth are now full time fitness models, NPC competitors, I DECIDE athletes, personal trainers, motivational speakers, and even created their own website and Facebook fan page to motivate and encourage others to live a healthy lifestyle. “What seems to be bitter trials are often blessings in disguise. We are happy when God answered our prayers but we are more thankful when God is letting us answer someone else’s prayers,” said Morgan.

“We are now living a life dedicated to helping and encouraging others. We wouldn’t have it any other way.”

A while ago, I posted about additional health benefits that can come to those of us who have the pleasure of having a pet in the family (you can see the article here). The health benefits apply to all animals, but none quite like those that come from a dog. A dog will get you outside to play or take you for a walk around the block. A few cat lovers may argue a bit, but I don’t think the mental health benefits from any other animal quite equal those from a dog. There’s just something about experiencing true unconditional love that warms our hearts and souls.

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” 
― Josh Billings

It’s with great pain now that I share a personal dog story of mine. Just last week, my dog Tex was hit and killed by a car. The person in the car didn’t even stop to see what they hit on a 30 mph road. Without even a second thought, someone left my best friend and my whole world laying on the side of the road. When I found out, it was like a part of me died with him. He had so much of my heart that the pain was unimaginable; I couldn’t (and still can’t) believe that he’s gone.

“Dogs, lives are short, too short, but you know that going in. You know the pain is coming, you’re going to lose a dog, and there’s going to be great anguish, so you live fully in the moment with her, never fail to share her joy or delight in her innocence, because you can’t support the illusion that a dog can be your lifelong companion. There’s such beauty in the hard honesty of that, in accepting and giving love while always aware that it comes with an unbearable price. Maybe loving dogs is a way we do penance for all the other illusions we allow ourselves and the mistakes we make because of those illusions.” 
― Dean Koontz, The Darkest Evening of the Year

Let me tell you a bit about Tex. I rescued him from a pound when he was just a puppy, maybe 6-8 weeks old. I’d been looking for a dog to adopt for a while, but just hadn’t found that right one yet. When I went into the shelter to look at a litter of puppies that had just come in, 6 other puppies swarmed me, licking, barking, jumping, whining, all little balls of fur trying to get my attention. But what really made me take notice was the gangly pup that was sitting up straight on the little puppy bed in the corner, quietly looking at me with bright eyes. As soon as I picked him up, he rested his head on my arm and took a deep sigh as if to say, “Ah, finally, I’m where I belong.” And he was.

“Dogs do speak, but only to those who know how to listen.” 
― Orhan Pamuk, My Name is Red

Tex was perhaps the smartest dog I’ve ever known. He was house trained in a week and picked up new tricks in an hour. He would sit, lay down, stay, shake, give high fives, play dead after shooting him with an imaginary gun, talk (his “inside voice”), speak (his “outside voice”, and yes, he could tell the difference), roll over, and spin. He knew phrases like “load up” to get in the car, “go to bed” to go get on his bean bag next to my bed each night, and a variety of fun words such as dog park, beach, squirrel, bird, and his favorite: cat.

“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring–it was peace.” 
― Milan Kundera

Tex was only with me for 4 short, beautiful years. The life of a dog is already short enough, and I had avoided thinking about the day that I supposed to be far in the future in which I would have to say goodbye to my boy. But in those four years, he helped me through tough times in school, break ups, moves to different cities and states, and transitions from school to work (and back again). He was always there, always my one constant in life, always ready to come put his head in my lap, look up at me, and tell me with those big brown eyes that everything was going to be okay. That’s something I just can’t say about any other person in my life.

“Dogs are minor angels, and I don’t mean that facetiously. They love unconditionally, forgive immediately, are the truest of friends, willing to do anything that makes us happy, etcetera. If we attributed some of those qualities to a person we would say they are special. If they had ALL of them, we would call them angelic. But because it’s “only” a dog, we dismiss them as sweet or funny but little more. However when you think about it, what are the things that we most like in another human being? Many times those qualities are seen in our dogs every single day– we’re just so used to them that we pay no attention.” 
― Jonathan Carroll

Tex was my roommate, my best friend, my child, my running buddy, my psychologist, my foot warmer, you name it. He filled so many different roles that his place in my heart was a big one, and one that won’t be easily filled. But even with all the pain now, I wouldn’t have traded those four years with him for anything in the world. I know that one day I’ll see him again, because if people can get into heaven, then I’m convinced that dogs must be there, too.

“Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.” 
― Mark Twain

In closing, I just wanted to share a beautiful poem that I’d seen a while back. It makes me cry every time I read it, but the tears are happy and hopeful ones. It’s called The Rainbow Bridge (by Anonymous):

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

Tex, I can’t wait to cross the Rainbow Bridge with you. You will be in my heart forever and always.





How many athletes can you think of that have turned pro before age 12? The answer is probably none, but that’s about to change. I’d like to introduce all of you to my former teammate and friend, Miss Tori Allen. Tori pole vaulted at Florida State, but was actually a professional athlete before that! As a pro rock climber, she won an X-Games gold medal and even had her own action figure.  These days, she has “retired” to Colorado but she still stays active and healthy. Check out her story, experiences, and advice in her interview with Erin Simmons Fitness:

Can you give us a basic intro? Name, age, where you’re from, etc.?

Tori Allen, age 24,…but, the “where I am from” part is more tricky…I was born in Auburn, Alabama and currently live in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. During my 24 years I have lived in 5 states and 2 foreign countries (3 continents in all)….so “home” is a relative term. The place I loved living the most was Savalou, Benin (West Africa), though.

How old were you when you started climbing? What made you start?

When I was 10 ½, I was Christmas shopping in a mall where a new sports store had just opened. When we went in the sports store and I saw their HUGE climbing wall, I had to climb it. It was easy for me. Over the next weeks, I kept asking my parents to take me back to the store so I could try harder things on the wall. Around New Years, my family joined a local climbing gym and I started climbing 4-5 times a week. I had never been so happy doing anything as I was when I found climbing.


How did your life change once you started climbing?

Six months after I climbed that wall in the sports store, I was crowned Jr. National Champion. From there, it was a blur. Within a year, I was entering and winning national level adult competitions. I was invited to elite competitions like the Gorge Games and the Mountain Games in Vail…and was winning those as well. Before I turned 12, I turned pro. I had sponsors for shoes, rope, gear, chalk, clothing (First, The North Face, and then Nike), sunglasses (Oakley), and even energy drinks (Red Bull). In fact, not only did I get free stuff from these companies, they PAID me to climb. Having sponsors meant having to travel to go to photo shoots and appearances, in addition to competitions, so I was on the road about 50% of the time.

Then, I won the X-games right after my 14th birthday, and things got really crazy with TV appearances (from games shows to talk shows to Discovery Channel to Ripley’s Believe it or Not…and more!), invitations to speak to various groups (I spoke to over 300 groups in 4 years), and lots of photo shoots for articles in magazines like Sports Illustrated. I had an agent. I had an action figure. I wrote a book. And, I had lots of haters. In the climbing world, all the attention I was getting, at such a young age, was rubbing people the wrong way. Plus, when I climbed, I was still a girly-girl. I designed and made my own climbing outfits so I would wear pink leopard print shorts, or shiny silver polka dot ones, or even tiger striped sports bras. It really stood out in the sea of neutral colored, baggy clothes most girls climbed in and made people even more annoyed at how I “didn’t fit in”.

All the while this was going on, I was also a full time high school student (I started high school at age 13 after being homeschooled until 8th grade) and a competitive pole vaulter. Sometimes, I would literally have a national level pole vault meet in Nebraska one weekend and an elite climbing competition in Oregon the next. I would be home for one day in between to unpack and re-pack. My training during those years was also insane. I would go to vault practice after school for 2 hours and then drive straight to the gym for 3-4 hours of climbing. I spent my lunch hours in my coaches’ classroom going over vault video and I spent my “free” time writing speeches for climbing appearances and doing interviews for articles. And, when I traveled, I would work out in the stairwell of the hotel, running stairs and doing plyometrics for hours at a time. I loved every minute of it and wouldn’t change a thing. But, I really never experienced a “normal” teen life.


Did you do any other sports growing up? How did you go from rock climbing to pole vaulting?

I grew up in an African village. I didn’t do any sports there except play outside all the time. When I moved back to the USA at age 9, I took up figure skating, ballet and soccer.Yet, when I started climbing18 months later, I quit all three of those.

As for pole vaulting, I saw Stacy Dragila vaulting on TV and announced to my mom that I wanted to do that because I loved heights. Then, a few months later, we were at the Indiana state fair and there was a pole vault competition going on. Seeing it in person was even more exciting and I decided that I wanted to learn how to flip over a bar like that. When I was 12, I started working with a local boys’ HS vault coach. I was still climbing competitively at the time. I continued to pursue pole vault and competitive climbing at very intense, high levels, year-round for the next 5 years. When I went to Florida State, though, I had to give up competitive climbing so I could be classified as an “amateur” athlete by the NCAA in order to accept my scholarship.


What made you decide to pole vault at Florida State?

My “official” visits were at University of Florida, Florida State and Purdue (my parents made me visit one, in-state college). Although I had some offers from schools I did not visit, I had my heart set on moving to Florida (for the beach) and was looking for a strong overall track program. When I visited Florida State, I felt totally “at home”. After that visit, there was no question in my mind where I wanted to vault.


You were always really into leadership and volunteer activities in college. What are some of the best experiences you’ve had in that area?

Those activities really shaped who I am as an adult. Learning to budget my time between a job, pole vault, classes, social life, leadership and volunteering while in college gave me the skills to do that now, in my community. One of the greatest things that came out of my time in leadership at FSU was being selected to attend the NCAA national leadership conference at Disney. During that week, I learned things about myself and about my leadership style that have inspired me to reach for bigger and bigger leadership roles every year of my life since then. As far as volunteering at FSU, I really loved, and still do, going into local schools and speaking to students about reaching for their dreams.

What are you doing currently? Are you still involved in athletics? Still vaulting or climbing?

I live and work in the best mountain town in the world, Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Here, I have a pretty “normal” life for the first time in my life….work, play, hang out with friends. I have not vaulted since leaving FSU but may start volunteering to coach some girls at local high schools. On the other hand, since leaving FSU, I have been climbing a lot more. I don’t compete, but I am thoroughly enjoying the sport of climbing both outside on real rocks, and inside the gym. It’s a regular part of my life, and that makes me happy because, during my four years at FSU, it was not.

The only competitive sport I participate in is rugby. I am on the Steamboat Women’s Rugby team, and I play wing (because I run fast). If I had found this sport a few years earlier, I may have tried to be competitive enough to play at a national level. But, for now, I am happy with my hometown team, playing against other women’s teams from all over the West.


What does a typical day look like for you?

Work day=wake up at 7, shower, eat breakfast, leave for work at 7:40, arrive at work at 7:45, 1 PM take a break from work for lunch and a workout (a swim or a run or time on the elliptical), back to work until 5 PM, 5:30 go to a class at the hot springs gym…Jazzercise and Zumba have been favorites lately, home by 7 to make dinner, then either spend the night watching TV or playing board games OR, a few nights a week I climb at a little private gym built in a friend’s warehouse. In the summer I also play softball and practice with my rugby team a few nights per week. I’m usually in bed by 10 or so.

Weekends=get up and make a HUGE breakfast (eggs benedicts, usually), clean the house, then get outside…wakeboard/bike/snowshoe/snowboard/hike/climb/play in a rugby tournament, catch a late lunch with friends, hit the hot springs to relax after a day of being active, come home to make a big dinner (usually steak and potatoes and a big salad), then watch movies all night.

What is your go-to food when you go climbing?

Trail mix, tuna on crackers, and, if we are camping on a climbing trip, I have gotten really good at dehydrating food to rehydrate over a campfire for a healthy, hearty, hot meal.

Is there any other athletic activity that you like to do “just for fun”?

LOTS! Zumba, modern dance, jazzercise, swim, hike 14’ers, surf, kite board, wake board, paddle board, softball, rugby (LOVE), snow shoe, snowboard, bike


A “healthy and fit lifestyle” is just that, a lifestyle. Describe what that means to you.

When I was younger my choices were made in a “training” mindset…what impact would X have on my training? I scheduled my day around my training and chose my meals based on my training needs. Since I was in that mindset since age 11, when I became a professional climber, until age 21, when I graduated from college, it was hard to think any other way.

Over the past three years, I have transitioned out of that mindset into a more balanced mindset. Now, I am more flexible in how I schedule my life. For example, I look at being active as more of a social endeavor, than a competitive one. By doing that, I have found the fun in participating in a wide variety of activities, rather than just one, over and over. I like the added benefit of staying in shape, but I am not “in training” for anything. Also, other choices like what I eat, how much I sleep… are based on their impact on my overall well-being rather than their impact on my readiness for competition. It’s a more relaxed way to live and I find that I am very happy with my “healthy and fit lifestyle”.


What is one piece of advice that you would give anyone interested in living a healthy lifestyle?

Commit to little things (new activities, new routines, new eating habits), one at a time, and stick to them, in order to build solid healthy habits that will add up to an overall healthy lifestyle.

What is one quote that really motivates you?

Never give up!

I know it is sort of obvious…but, there are always other roads to take rather than the one leading to the things that make life amazing. And those “other” roads are often easier. So telling myself not to give up means not to give up the BEST for the mediocre in life

Any other tips or pieces of information that you’d like to pass on?

Cooking with my boyfriend is one of the things that contributes to my healthy lifestyle. We are both good cooks and so we really plan our meals and like to try new things. We love eating our home cooked meals, so restaurant food doesn’t hold much charm. This has led to healthier eating choices for us…and lots of good memories.


Run Against Cancer

Posted: October 2, 2012 in General Posts
Tags: , , , ,

For those of you who don’t know, I’m running a half Ironman in a little less than a month. And I’m not just doing it for me, I’m also trying to raise money for the organization Infinity and Beyond. This organization was started by my friend whose father was battling cancer. He found that there were many underserved areas of cancer research that could really benefit from somewhat smaller fundraising efforts (as compared to organizations like Livestrong). My friend did his first fundraiser by raising money to bike across the country, now it’s my turn to help out.

 My grandmother fought and beat breast cancer, but my grandfather was not so lucky. He passed away just a few months ago after prostate cancer visited and revisited his life. Nearly everyone has been affected in some way by this terrible disease. That’s why I’ve decided to dedicate my 70.3 miles to all of those people. You never know if that one dollar you donated helped to fund research that eradicates or greatly reduces cancer. If you have an extra dollar or two, please consider giving to the cause! You can find my donation page here. I really appreciate any help you can give me to reach my goal!

Chances are, you’ve thought about working out at some point in your life. If you’re a woman, chances are that you’ve worried that working out would bulk you up and make you look like a man. Why do we worry about this? Why do women think that any little bit of muscle is manly? Why don’t we embrace a strong, healthy woman and instead insist that curvy and soft are the only womanly features we can have? Well, to start off with, let’s look at a little history. Back in the middle ages/Renaissance Era, women with very voluptuous figures were regarded as “sexy” and were the subjects of numerous paintings. This was based on the fact that your status was represented in your body type: if you had money, you obviously weren’t hurting for food. On top of that, women of the upper class likely had maids to clean, cook, and watch the children, so she had little physical activity to do leading to the celebration of body types such as those seen below:

The idea of women as a curvy, soft specimen were continued up through the Victorian Era until the 1900’s.  The pendulum seemed to swing to the opposite end of the spectrum during this time, with fashion highlighting models who were not only thin, but in some cases dangerously underweight. So where are we now? Thankfully, with the increased fame and celebration of female athletes, an athletic body type seems to be rising to the forefront of what “sexy” embodies. Even many Hollywood celebrities have traded their uber skinny bodies for a more toned look: think Michelle Rodriguez, Jessica Biel, and even Jennifer Aniston.

So back to the original point: why should you work out and how can you make sure you won’t look manly doing it? The perception that lifting weights will make you bulk up is utterly false and is based on the images of female bodybuilders who likely are using “questionable” supplements and countless hours of lifting in order to achieve their size:

Such body types are unhealthy in a variety of ways, however maintaining muscle mass in general is just the opposite. A good mix of strength training, cardio, and a proper diet will keep you at weight that is healthy. In fact, muscle burns calories even when you’re not working out which will promote a leaner body type!

To avoid undesirable mass, you have to first pick where exactly you want to fall on the spectrum. If you just want to be toned, then an exercise routine consisting of 3+ days of cardio and 2-3 days of lifting is the way to go. On those lifting days, think lower weights and higher reps, and incorporate a whey protein supplement or my favorite, Orgain. Yoga and pilates are also good options for either cardio or strength days. For someone who wants to maintain a slightly more athletic build, moderate weights 3-4 days a week will help you target muscle groups or movements more specifically. Protein supplements can either be whey, casein, and/or mass gainer. Remember that cardio for most bodybuilders is going to consist of low intensity cardio, like walking or doing the stair climber, to decrease muscle breakdown.

In summary, just know that you will get the body that you train for. Realize that going to the gym and lifting weights is not going to make you look like a female Arnold. Even my 55-year-old mother lifts weights and trust me, she is nowhere near “bulked up”. Just because we’re female doesn’t mean we have to be soft, fleshy, curvy, or plump. Let’s advance past that 18th century, housebound female stereotype and show the world what a strong woman looks like. We’ve been strong on the inside all along; it’s time to let it out!

And on a final note, here’s some humor for the road:

Whenever I get a piece of inspiration, I like to pass it on. And some of my fans and supporters do the same! This was sent to me by a follower on my Facebook page and I wanted to share it with everyone:


By: Lucas G. Irwin

Most people don’t understand, but you’re ok with that. For you, training is not a hobby or a social activity; it is a way of life. Those around you say that you are obsessed, taking it too far and possibly insane. They can’t understand why you won’t eat birthday cake, why you bring Tupperware full of chicken to a party or why you go to sleep early on a Friday to rest up for a Saturday training session. But you don’t care. Their accusatory tones, sarcastic remarks and insults are merely cotton bullets firing at a titanium wall of perseverance known as YOU.

You know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that any negativity that surrounds you is fueled purely by jealousy. Jealous that you are capable of unconditionally committing to something that most cannot stick to for more than a few weeks as part of their yearly resolution. Jealous that you gladly embrace a level of pain, discomfort and fatigue that others cringe at the idea of suffering a fraction of. Jealous that you take time to count carbs, protein, fats and calories while they count their chicken nuggets to make damn sure their 10 piece isn’t a 9 piece. In short, they’re Jealous of YOU.

Ironically, all the comments, nagging and questioning that is meant to break you down a little, does just the opposite. Every negative word reminds you of how special and uncommon your mechanical allegiance to training really is, in turn, pushing you harder. So bring it on! Let them call you obsessed, crazy or insane and watch you get stronger with every word. The only one who can slow you down is yourself. As far as the rest of the world is concerned, you are both an immovable object and an unstoppable force……


In the course of talking to my mom about changing body shapes as we grow older, I mentioned how great of shape I’ve noticed the older female triathletes to be in. My mom then tried to tell me that men do really well in their old age in such sporting events because they have more muscle mass and testosterone, but women don’t do so well. I, of course, took to google and found a stellar counter example: Madonna Buder, also known as the Iron-Nun.

Though this nickname may initially sound strange and even comical, you will realize shortly that it is the absolute embodiment of awesomeness. This woman, born in 1930, is now 82 years old and completed her last Ironman under 17 hours at the age of 81 years old. At the age of 76, she became the oldest woman to complete the Hawaii Ironman, also under 17 hours. Overall, she has finished 325 triathlons, 45 of which were Ironman distance races. Can you imagine the dedication that it has taken for this woman who just started training at age 48 and completed her first Ironman 7 years later?

So for anyone out there who thinks they are too young, too old, too big, too skinny, too out of shape, this is the end of the line. No more excuses. Get out there and find something to compete in, something to train for, some goal to reach. In the words of Ms. Buder herself, “Well, you know, as long as God is giving you your health, there’s no reason to stop”.

Here’s some more pictures of this amazing woman:

In short, the Iron Nun gives a whole new meaning to the phrase when she says, “I train religiously”.

If she can do it, why can’t you?


Even classical philosophers knew the benefits of working out! Image