Perfect French Press Coffee

Can I just say how much the quality of my life has increased since I figured out how to make French Press coffee that doesn’t taste like two-day old burned Starbucks?
I’ve been through three iterations of drip coffee makers, a Keurig and a World Market FRENCH PRESS COFFEE MAKER in my drinkin’ years.



What French Press does NOT =
⦁    caffeine at your fingertips (Keurig)
⦁    caffeine as an alarm clock (programmable drip)

French Press DOES =
⦁    Fragrant
⦁    Delicate
⦁    Cathartic

1. Mark it 8 (ok..12)
Use a permanent marker to note the 12oz mark on your French Press (or 24 oz mark if you have to share.)  Seem silly – but this has saved me MANY an under or overbrewed cup of coffee first thing in the morning.

2. Boil Water (almost)
Three words: Use. A. TeaKettle.  When you hear the kettle START to whistle juuuuust a teensy bit, pull it off the heat. Microwave only if under extreme duress.  Heat the water to boiling, and remove from the death machine.

3. Bump and Grind
In the 30-60 seconds it takes your water to go from boiling to juuuust the right coffee brewing temperature, grind your beans.  COARSELY.  I do 6-8 pulses with my grinder.
What’s that you say?  You can get pre-ground beans?  RESIST, I say!!!  Fresh beans ground to the right French Press consistency actually do make a difference!

4. Stir and Steep
Pour the water slowly over the grinds.  (I like to make big SLOW loopy circles — but highly doubt this affects the taste.)  Then STIR.  Using a chopstick or spoon, stir the grinds into the hot water for 5-10 seconds or until you get a little foam. 

Steep from 4-6 minutes depending on your COFFEE ROAST  I do my flavored/light roasts for 6… and a French Roast for baaaaarely 4.5 as I value my teeth.

5. Heat the Mug + Pour
While that’s doing it’s thing, I pour remaining hot water from the kettle into and the mug I plan to use and let it heat while my coffee steeps.  When you’re coffee’s done… just DEPRESS the plunger (no.  it doesn’t have Zoloft) and pour into your warm mug!

I usually add 1-2 Tbs of Organic Half and Half (if there’s more than “milk” and “cream” in the ingredient lists, it’s no longer food, people) and sip slowly!

Big News!

Big News  For the last month or so, I've been working with the amazing Amanda Ginther of Blackbird Family Yoga to facilitate something beautiful: PULSE Kettlebells and Yoga will have a brick-and-mortar location as of September of this year! We're moving into the space currently housing Blackbird Family Yoga on Frank Lloyd Wright Avenue in Middleton, WI and couldn't be more excited.

I have been looking for a space to call home since April of this year and had two lease negotiations fall through in both May and June. Thank goodness! After learning that Amanda was closing her doors, I reached out to learn a little more about the space and thought "maybe I could even keep a couple yoga classes." That'll teach me to think small!  

In addition to Amanda's beautiful class schedule of family-oriented yoga, I'm planning to offer some energetic and strengthening flow classes, TRX classes and OF COURSE, kettlebell class schedule that includes early morning and express classes!  We'll have a studio for classes, a small studio for personal and small group training, and a wonderful space for tea and community.  The lobby will also feature Sun Warrior and Young Living products...and of course some PULSE gear!  <high pitched excited girl squeal>

I feel so honored to be able to be a part of Blackbird's transition and so. freakin. lucky. to get to work with Amanda. She shares my passion for promoting a body love environment, gets just as excited as I do about the no-bull#&%* fitness counter culture I'm building and loves wine as much as I do. She's a beautiful spirit and I am SO. LUCKY. (did I say that already) that she is staying on to teach at PULSE.

Yesterday, I sent out an email letting everyone know what's up (and why I look like I haven't slept in a year) and the outpouring of love and support nearly knocked me off my feet. We raised nearly half (NEARLY HALF!) the funds needed to outfit the space in less than 12 hours and I received more emails, Facebook comments, texts and phone calls than I could field or respond to. You know when you stop and wonder if you're capable, good enough, on the right path...then the Universe just rolls you with HELL YES?  That happened.


Because I'm learning that asking for what I need is a viable way to get what I need (revolutionary, right?) ... here's what I need:

  • We're running an IndieGogo campaign to help us fund equipment for the studio (kettlebells and TRX and pull up bars, hooray!)  You can check out the campaign here to learn more about how you can support our work by donating/grabbing a membership early!
  • Madison area personal trainers and TRX instructors who are body-positive, compassionate and interested in learning the SFG hard style kettlebell method.
  • A few people to help me continue to provide childcare for the 9:15 am class times (trade for classes)
  • A few people to help me with class check-in, cleaning and other day-to-day stuff (trade for classes)


I really need to send a big shout out to PULSE hubby, Brian, for believing in me more than I ever have and to PULSE mom, Sandy Graham, for providing a haven from the storm and a constant phone line to sanity. To my teacher, Alex Pfeiffer, for teaching me the challenging and beautiful path of true authenticity and to my financial know who you are... and you are making this possible.

We are hoping to open the studio the first week of September! Until then, our schedule will stay the same. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me.  In the meantime visit our website regularly for updates.

Marketing Bull&*%$ and Other Rantings

Courtesty of

I love my job. I love that I get to hang out everyday with awesome people. I love that I actually get PAID to watch people get mad strong while I hang out with them.  And here’s the thing that kills me every time I sit down to strategize the business end of my business:

It is really f*&$# hard to financially thrive in the fitness industry without using the terms "weight loss, fat loss, belly fat, inches, diet, lean...” If you take a quick look at Facebook pages, website, e-news letters and campaigns etc. across the industry, you’ll be hard pressed to find a site or professional that doesn’t tout some kind of promotion that is sold merely on its powers of weight loss. Why? Because fat shaming sells.

As a business owner, it's tempting to run "6 Weeks to a Better Body!" or "21 Day Detox!" promotions. It's tempting to benchmark waist size, weight, and body fat. Why? Because those are the money-makers thanks to our magazines, movies, TV and diet industry. Trainers like Jillian Michaels, Bob Harper and Tracy Andersen make millions telling people that they would love themselves if only they could fit into that ever elusive jeans size or that magic number on the scale. The diet industry makes *billions* shaming people into buying supplements, products and meal plans that are sold on the idea that you will be an acceptable human being if and when you look like the model on our cover.

But I REFUSE  to perpetuate the shame cycle.

Here's the deal: Very few people actually have a weight problem! Most of the clients I see? Have a self-care problem. A heartbreak problem. An unmet need problem. A priorities problem. They come to me unable to trust their bodies, unable to trust themselves and hurt by the very industry that has promised them happiness. I can’t tell you how often my heart has broken for a client that says, “I’ll be happy/desirable/lovable if I just lose X amount of weight.”  BULL. S*&$%. These men and women will be happy when they care for themselves, address their wounds and deep unmet needs and make themselves a priority in their own life.

Want to feel strong and empowered? The tag in a pair of jeans WILL. NOT. DO. THAT. FOR. YOU. Instead: Pick up heavy stuff. Then put it back down. And as you do it, remember that you that every day you pick up heavy loads and lay them back down for the sake of ourselves and those around us.

Want freedom and unimaginable joy?  The number on a scale will NEVER give you that.  Instead: Crack your heart center wide open to the sky in a yoga pose and take 5 deep breaths. Remember to be brave and face the world with your chin up!

Want energy and vitality?  Fat burners, diet foods and low-calorie options will leave you empty. Eat live, healthy foods because they nourish you on a deep, cellular level and YOU deserve that nourishment!

Do this stuff regularly? This empowering, enlivening, joyful stuff? You might shed fat and fit into a different pair of jeans.

Do this stuff regularly? This energizing, freeing and loving practice? You WILL face the world in an entirely different way.

THAT is why I'm a coach and a trainer. That is why I refuse to offer a 6-week workout challenge or a 21-day weight loss meal plan. Hard cold truth? If that’s the only thing you’re open to, I’m not your gal. If you’ve tried them all, though and you’re sick of the let-down, frustration and self-loathing? Come see me, call me or email me.

What's your experience with fitness marketing? What has/has not worked for you? We want to hear from you!

Strong First 2014

StrongFirst Instructor From April 25-27th of 2014, I joined 200 family members in Chicago to renew my StrongFirst Girya (SFG) certification. It was an reminder of the power of less, of my strength and its potential to effect those around me, and the intensity of a group of people united by their belief in something universal.

In 2012, I completed my first RKC in a very acute state of fear and sleep deprivation. Training for that cert had consisted of 60-90 min of swinging, up to 45 min of snatching, PLUS  the Rite Of Passage press program when I could squeeze a few ladders in on my "rest" days. I was exhausted, terrified of failure and unaware of my own physical strength or mental toughness. Thanks to my team leader and assistants, I walked out of the Grad Workout feeling more proud of myself than I think I ever had. Not only had I survived -- but I had passed my snatch test in 4:30, nailed all my technique tests without a hitch and been recommended as an assistant.

This time around?  I passed with flying colors and was barely winded as I completed my snatch test.  I got nearly 8 hours of sleep every night.  I spent my "off" time reading and taking power naps.  I felt grounded and empowered every step of the way and I learned even more about myself, how to train myself and how to lead my clients.  So what was different?

I learned to Slow Down.  I trained hard for this round ... for about a month.  For about 5 weeks, I followed Brett Jones' Level 1 certification training program 5 days/week at double 16 kg after the 1st week. By week 6 I was burned out, cranky, and ready to quit.

For the next 6 weeks, after a coaching session with this AMAZING dude, I trained focused and strong...but NOT so hard.  I lifted 4 days/week and only 2 days heavy. I took almost a week off to focus on stability when an unrelated back spasm sidelined me. I skipped the snatch workouts (which give me migraines) in favor of swinging a 24 kg with one hand. I trained solid and slow, and there was always something left in the tank at the end of a set or a workout.  Hey.  You know that "less = more" thing?  It's true.

  • Mon: Double Clean and Press / Clean and Squat Ladders (3)
  • Tue: TGU + Snatch Prep -- Heavy Swings
  • Thu: Double Clean and Press / Clean and Squat Ladders (5)
  • Fri or Sat: TGU + Snatch Prep -- REALLY Heavy Swings

In addition to being MORE than ready for the cert -- I fell in love all over again with the StrongFirst system. The simple beauty of picking up something heavy.  Putting it down. Doing it again.

I re-discovered a commitment to Excellence. Early on, I caught myself with a pissy attitude because I was being asked to perform lifts to certain specifications with no adaptations or adjustments for my body.  I'm used to a style of yoga where everything is a yoga pose and "correct" depends on you. It's demanding, but it's fluid. Gimme my options or gimme child's pose!

Alternatively: Hardstyle is Hardstyle is Hardstyle and there is an iron-clad (pun intended) protocol for each lift.  My first response to this was anger.  I was frustrated that someone was not making accommodations for me, and that I was being held to a firm line.  Then it dawned on me: "Oh yeah. That's life. $&%!"  A standard of excellence exists.  And I want to meet that standard.

I've spent the past 3 years or so attempting to balance my Type A driven personality, slowly drifting into a mindset of "all is now.  all is good. world peace." which is valuable.  But the weekend at the SFG helped me notice that the pendulum had swung a bit too far in that direction, and that a sense of yes. no. black. white. correct. incorrect. is also a very valuable thing.

I re-learned Strength.

l don't believe that strength = brute force.  In my experience, strength is CHECKING IN, addressing what arises AND MOVING FORWARD intelligently.

  • Meeting the thought "I can't" with curiosity
  • Noticing without attachment the thought "this shouldn't be so hard"
  • Addressing resistance as it comes and STILL COMPLETING THE LIFT with integrity

When I approached strength with the willingness to look inward and STILL MOVE FORWARD, my body surprised me.  "Holy DAMN. Did I really just do that?" was a regularly occurring thought over the long days.

I found an untapped well of strength in quiet confidence in my ability to walk the line between "ignore the thoughts" and "give in to the doubt." I KNEW I could finish this weekend with grace and integrity.  I KNEW that I could own the snatch test.  And because I had that tucked away -- I found all kinds of space for compassion and energy for those around me.  Even the people I never spoke to, I had a connection with that wasn't possible when I was wrapped up in "I'm afraid I'll fail."

I remembered the power of FAMILY.  The first day I ran into several men that were at my first RKC in San Jose.  We had no other connection but there was a bond: "We've been through this together."  I got to eat lunch with Sergio, a kettlebell brother and the man who adopted many of my San Jose clients when I moved.  I got to cheer on women who were shaking the first day (that first arm hang is *intimidating*!) ...and cheer them on again when they nailed their snatch tests. My training partner for the weekend was a ROCK and my roommate is a sister.  All because we believe in the same value: Strength First. All else will follow.

There is nothing like the power of 200 voices in unison stating with complete certainty that they are "SFG" or the energy of 200 bodies generating the power of the Hardstyle Swing.

I decided to re-certify at Level 1 in Chicago instead of continuing on to Level 2 because the move and several family emergencies this year kept me from training the way I wanted to. I thought "No worries.  It'll be there in 2 years."

But I cannot stop here.  Not knowing the raw power of my strength coupled with a call to excellence...especially when its wrapped in grace and compassion.  See you all at SFG II... I'm coming for you, Philly.


Why YOU Should Feel Good

bodyfeelgood Even as I continue to see the body love movement grow in the fitness field, I am reminded daily that this is still the case.  Women are still counting calories and skipping meals.  Our culture is trapped in the cycle of what they shouldn't eat and how much they should abuse themselves in the gym this week.  Yoga students come to their mat and are disappointed when they leave feeling like they didn't just finish a spin class.

When did your body feel its absolute best?  Not its skinniest or your strongest...but most vibrant and alive.  When did you last feel GOOD??  My hope for you is that you can say right NOW.  And if that is not the case -- what can you do today to make that happen?

Sometimes that means drinking green juice and going for a run... seeking out a good hug and taking a nap...taking a walk and a juicy yoga class.  With so many ways to feel good, why seek out ways to feel drained and deprived?

Up until a few weeks ago when an amazing coach reminded me of this, I was spending an awful lot of time making sure I felt worked...instead of feeling good.  My gratitude and love goes out to him (if you're in Seattle, find this guy!) because in my last weeks of SFG re-certification preparation, I feel GOOD.  Strong.  Balanced.  Well rested and vibrant.

SO ... what are you going to do TODAY.  RIGHT NOW.  to learn just how good your body is designed to feel?


The Biggest Loser ... Winner?

Photo Credit: Zap2It I've been training full time since 2008, and have had the shadow of The Biggest Loser hanging over my profession for its entirety.  

I remember telling one of my first clients, "I'm not going to 'Jillian Michaels' you," because I refused to verbally abuse her to initiate change and trying to find a way to respond to another client's request for Biggest Loser-Style Workouts when she desperately needed support and love, not an hour of misery.  (Full disclosure: at the time, I was struggling hard with my bulimia and body dysmorphia.  But even if I couldn't stop abusing myself, I wasn't going to help others do it.)

I haven't watched the show since its first season, but couldn't miss the backlash online today as Rachel Frederickson appeared - emaciated - at the finale to claim her $250,000 prize.  All I could think was "I'm embarrassed to be a part of the fitness industry."

I pride myself to be among the ranks of the Strong First community, who teach and practice intelligent strength.  I am grateful to be a registered yoga teacher, working with beautiful spirits who teach grace is a way of life.

I am embarrassed - however - to be part of an industry that tells women that a thigh gap is not only achievable, but admirable....and since strong is the new skinny, be sure to top it off with a 6-pack.

I am frustrated to be a trainer in an environment where self-abuse in the form of over-exercise is encouraged and only tempered with "be sure to take a rest day."

I am angry at the thousands of under-qualified, overly-charismatic fitness "professionals" that sell their clients on body shame and unrealistic expectations.  (I was told once, by a personal training manager, to ask clients, "What part of yourself do you hate the most when you look in the mirror?  How much would you pay to get rid of that fat?"  All I could do was stare at him.)

More than anything - I am sorry, legitimately full of sorrow, for all the women who have fallen prey to the idea that because a diet didn't work, they are somehow flawed.  For all the women who have stood in the locker room and cried because the number on the scale left them feeling so desperately unworthy that they couldn't even step out into the gym to do something good for themselves.  For all the beautiful human beings who watch shows like the Biggest Loser and wonder "What's wrong with me that I  can't do that?"

So maybe join this guy and Boycott The Biggest Loser?

Maybe take a deep breath, look in the mirror and make the commitment to accept the radiant beauty that is You, moment to moment, fat cells and all.

Maybe reach out to someone who is hurting or hurting themselves and remind them that self-abusive dieting isn't the only way?

Or maybe just take a deep breath and send Rachel Frederickson a whole lot of compassion.


GIVEAWAY: New England Retreat!

EDITED: OUR WINNER HAS BEEN CHOSEN (at random by Rafflecopter) !!! : Congratulations Irene!!!

I 1riversidefarmmorningwas contacted recently by the awesome people at Perfect Vermont Retreat at Riverside Farms and offered the opportunity to visit their beautiful retreat center in Pittsfield, Vermont.

Unfortunately for me and VERY fortunately for you, I'm not able to take advantage of this awesome get away.  So they've asked me to give it away to you!!

Here's what you'll get:

1 night stay at Amee Farm Lodge Deluxe Continental Breakfast.

Possible activities/dining during your visit:

30+ miles of hiking and biking on the Green Mountain Trails, we offer yoga classes, snowshoeing right out our back door, skiing at Killington and Pico, tubing on the Tweed River, kayaking and fishing at Kent Pond and Tweed River, on-site massages, tours of the Amee Farm with Sweet Georgia P’s, and of course, just relaxing by the fire or on the porch at the lodge. Killington offers great restaurants and nightlife, just 15 minutes up the road. Enjoy wonderful live music during the winter months.

*Please note that space is limited and will be booked on a first come first served basis. This giveaway will cover you and a partner. (If you have kids, you may bring them along as well). No deposit or any funds will be required upon reservation or checkin. The prize expiration date is January 31, 2015 based on availability. The total value is $205-$350. This giveaway is non-transferable. Reservations are based on availability and given on a first-come, first-served basis.

Here's all you have to do!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Smash the Scale 2014


Jes over at the Militant Baker published a freakin' beautiful photo shoot this past week called "SMASH THE SCALE" - a montage of women declaring freedom from a number.  She called for the Body Positive community to share their stories about why they're doing the same.  Here's mine!


I'm smashing the scale in 2014 because until very recently - and to be honest, even now - I have been slave to the FEAR of the scale.

I haven't been a scale worshipper in the sense that I weighed myself every day except for very short (very disordered) points in my life.  Even at my most anorexic, I was only told what I weighed by doctors or nutritionists.  I have only used enough to generate an unhealthy fear of the spinning number gods.

It just sits in my bathroom, in plain sight, watching me.  Reminding me of what those numbers could mean.  You're good enough.  You failed.  GOOD FOR YOU!  Seriously, Anne?  I almost never step on it.  Because just looking at it is enough of a shameful reminder to stay on track.

I don't get on other people's scales.  I would only weigh myself under strict conditions (first thing in the morning, undressed, after peeing) and my scale is set in kilograms and runs 1.5 kg lighter than a medical scale.  I feared the ramifications seeing a number that hasn't been calibrated and controlled by me.

I don't look at my weight at the doctor's office and have begged nurses not to tell me.  My blood pressure runs 90/60...unless I see the scale.  I got stuck at the OB/GYN for an extra 20 min one day because she told me my weight - my heaviest ever at the peak of my bulimia - right before taking my BP and I shot up to severe hypertension levels mid-panic attack.


It's -11 degrees today here in Madison, so - more likely - it's just going in the garbage.  But it will no longer haunt my bathroom floor (or the back of my closet, laying in wait) or the back of my mind. It won't tell me a damn thing about myself, or make me feel guilty or ashamed.

Setting a Mantra for 2014

First - a super quick video love note!!


Decided this year, instead of resolutions, or anti resolutions or any of the other variations on a theme I've done set a mantra from 2014.  Something short and powerful that I can carry with me through the year.

Only This Moment.

With a rather rough, unfinished view of what the next year or few years will look like, it's the perfect time to live in each moment as it arises.

What is your mantra for 2014?

29 + 1 Things I Learned in my 20's

I turn 30 today ... on Friday the 13th.  12/13/13.  The big 3-0 on what is numerically speaking the most terrifying day of the year. And I'm freaking excited.

I told someone, quite bluntly, the other day "My 20s were a s*** show!" and - while it's true - I'm actually quite grateful for the crazy, scary, endearing experience that was my 20s.  And so, inspired by this post I found while killing time on Facebook reading industry specific blogs, here are 29 + 1 Things I Learned In My 20s:

1. Food is not the enemy. Stop fighting it - just eat what makes your body feel alive.

2. If exercise makes you miserable, you're doing it wrong. Uncomfortable: deal with it.  Miserable: do something else.

3. Toxic relationships serve neither you nor the other person.

4. OK.  Let's be completely honest.  When something makes you miserable: STOP.  Even if other people won't be happy with you.  Even if that magazine said it will take off that last 5#.  Even if you really want it to work out.  STOP.

5. It's highly likely that you won't use your college degree in the way in which it was intended.  The time you spent getting it, though: priceless.

6. A man will never (NEVER) make you feel as good about yourself as you want to feel.  Only you can provide yourself with the love you so desperately want.

7. Yoga isn't just exercise.  Yoga is a snapshot of your experience of life, condensed into an hour, in a small space, while watching other people do it better than you. Learn from it.

8. TRAVEL.  Get your passport updated and get out of the country now, because it may not happen later.

9. Along those lines: Those opportunities that you think will come along later ... may not.  Go to the concerts, parties, family events that you want to skip so that you can work another shift.

10. You are not broken.  There is nothing intrinsically wrong with you that needs to be fixed.  You are a whole, complete, perfect human being who has plenty of room to grow.

11. Quitting is perfectly acceptable.

12. Never be afraid to leap. Even if the net is a long way down, it will eventually appear.

13. Keep your birth control in a temperature controlled environment.  It will melt.  It will freeze.  It will become useless if either of these things happens.

14. Say what you mean when you mean it how you mean it.  Stop filtering your words to keep others from experiencing negative emotions.

15. Drinking pint glasses full of hard alcohol: bad idea.  Drinking pint glasses full of water: good idea.

16. Feeling negative emotions isn't a bad thing.  It's an unpleasant thing.  And they process and integrate much faster (like...years faster) when you take the time to feel them.

17. DON'T START SMOKING.  It's really really really hard to quit.

18. A size zero doesn't make you a better person.  And chances are, you didn't like yourself any better at a 0 than you do at a size 8.  Shoot for happy, not tiny.

19. Paint, Draw, Sing, Dance, Whatever!  You don't have to be "good" at something for it to express the life that is inside you.

20. Read more non-fiction books.

21. Read less (read: no) diet books, fitness magazines, diet blogs, "before and after" weight loss stories, or miracle supplement reviews <Admiral Ackbar voice> "It's a TRAP!"

22. Leggings are not pants.  But they are damn comfortable. And are considered work attire when you're a yoga teacher.  So... they ARE pants?

23. DO NOT download Candy Crush Saga.

24. Listen to your intuition, even when it doesn't make sense.  Cross country moves (three of them), last minute changes in expensive education (twice), or just ordering that random thing on the menu.

25. No matter how angry you get with your mom, she will never EVER stop loving you.

26. You WILL be like your mom.  And it's awesome.

27. Money, while not everything, IS important. Stop working for less than you're worth.

28. Journal!  Fill books upon books upon books with your stories.  They're valuable.

29. Give really good hugs and linger when other people give you really good hugs.

+1 (still learning this one) :

Take time, every day, to sit with your most precious, most divine self.  YOU are the best friend you'll ever have.




PULSE On the Road: Part 5: Headed Home!

Long post : buckle up... we're making it to Madison today! The last couple days of our time in Glacier were absolutely beautiful.  We spent a lot of time hiking, talking, snacking and just soaking up all the beauty that was around us.


We did part of the Highline Trail - which is about 14 miles round trip if you go all the way out to the camp ground - and after Nevada Falls at Yosemite, this was cake.  Beautiful, sunny blue-skied cake!


Hidden Lake Trail was a very. very. very. long hill.  Not steep - just long, and winding through alpine meadows that inspired one (and only one) round of "The HILLLLLS are aliiiiiive....." before we saw Mr. Mountain Goat!


And ultimately found the Hidden Lake.


That night, we slept at the St Mary's Lake Lodge, which was beautiful except we ended up in a weird basement room that reminded me of an insane asylum.

Looking for something to eat, we stumbled upon the Park Cafe...which had a 45 min wait for dinner and a slogan of "PIE FOR STRENGTH."  We left because we were too hungry to wait 45 min... but came back for dessert (who turns down Pie for Strength?)


So.  I'm just going to go out on a limb here as a fitness professional and tell you to EAT DESSERT.  Because every so often, one will change your life.  There are no photos of this dessert because I was having an intimate love affair with it and was not to be disturbed.  I am not exaggerating when I say: best thing I have ever eaten.

We went back to the Park Cafe for breakfast the next morning - which was amazing AGAIN - then headed over to the Many Glacier area of the National Park.

We hiked out to Red Rock Falls.


Found this hilarious tree.


Then hiked 7 more miles to Grinnell Glacier.  No photos here.... I was reaching dirty/tired/crabby by the 3rd mile when I got smacked in the arm with a nettle and all following photos feature a very annoyed facial expression.

Then things got interesting...

Sweaty and hiked out we thought we would just drive as far as Bozeman and crash for the night.  Thank you Anne's inability to read a map despite there only really being 2 highways in the entire state: we never went through Bozeman.  And for those of you who have not been to Montana: THERE IS NOTHING IN MONTANA.  No hotels.  Nothing.

At the North Dakota border, we found out that thanks to an oil boom all local hotels were full.  At 4 am, a gentleman nicely offered us a hotel room until 11 am for $120.  Bail.  At 7 am we slept in a cul-de-sac for an hour (in a van. literally by a river. The irony did not escape me.) For those of you counting: we were on the road for more than 16 hours after hiking 10 miles that morning.  The van was...unpleasant.

At noon, we finally found a place in Fargo to sleep for a few hours, ordered $50 in Indian Food and slept another 10 hours.  THEN.  AND FINALLY THEN.  We made the last push to Wisconsin.  We spent a night at my brother-in-law's, shopped at the outlet mall for B's school clothes and pulled in to Madison to find our POD waiting patiently for us.

I'm just finishing up this blog post more than 2 months after the trip and feel like I have a really nice perspective looking back.

It was a trip with a little shadow of sadness.  We were leaving our home, our friends, our life in California to begin a really difficult couple of years in law school.

It was also a trip with a lot of sunshine.  B and I had an amazing reminder of why we're friends and why we love hanging out together.  We saw some breathtaking parts of the country and had the opportunity to experience them without feeling rushed.

I feel - more than anything - grateful for the experience and blessed by the time we got to hang out and hike out and eat out.  When I look at my life, these are the moments that take me back a step and ask "Why me?  Why am I so blessed?" then smile and hug B and just sit with the awe and wonder and joy.    IMG_0228b   

PULSE On the Road: Part 4: Montana!

After we left Alaska and traveled back to the States from Vancouver, we spent most of the following day getting through Washington... then the skies opened up and we were in Montana.


I seriously don't think I've ever seen so much sky in my whole life.

We stopped a few times for necessities like Huckleberry Shakes

huckleberry shake

and looking at awesome railroad bridges

bridge bw

And eventually ended up at Glacier National Park!


Our first day there, we drove the Going to the Sun Road, which is an experience I will never forget.  It was awe inspiring to drive our tiny selves through such an huge expanse of nature, carved by eons of energy and patience.


We walked the Cedar Trail - a short nature trail near the West end of the park - then drove to the East end of the park to the Rising Sun Motor Lodge, where we stayed the first night.  The room had no TV, windows open to the sounds of a waterfall in the mountains, wood floors and rocking chairs on the front porch of the little hallway.  It was the best hotel I've ever stayed in.


We got up the next day and headed out for a little hiking!  We started with a short walk to St Mary's Lake, which was breathtaking, although apparently smack in the middle of grizzly country.  I figured we were OK without bear spray because every other person we passed had a can, as well as a bell on their small child... and lord knows with my mouth I can't sneak up on anything.

st mary's lake blue sky filter

After St. Mary's Lake... we headed out for the Highline Trail and the Hidden Meadows Nature Walk because (as established) I can't go anywhere without climbing up something.

PULSE On the Road: Part 3: Alaska Days 6-7

When we left off, we had tackled Juneau and the dessert bar, taken the train to new heights, and frozen our butts off... Ships Log: Day 6: Ketchikan

At dinner the night before, we asked the very nice young man in a nautical uniform who was circling the dining room and chatting people up (still not sure what his job actually was..) what to do in Ketchikan.  Much to Brian's dismay, he recommended a hike!


(Backstory: This poor guy cannot go on vacation with me without being dragged up and down at least one VERY steep hill.  And usually there's some kind of weather or navigation error that causes a near disaster.)

After much, "can we, can we, can we????" he agreed to another workout and - when we got off the boat - we hopped a cab to the Deer Mountain Trail.  (Yes. A cab. It was a LONG hill through the city to hike a long hill in the woods and I was saving my legs.  Verdict: Worth it.)

IMG_3997It was beautiful!  A 3 mile out-and-back ... well, up and down, really... this hike rewarded aching lungs with amazing rainforest views and beautiful vistas.  We loved the opportunity to get out in the fresh air, away from all the tourist shops and restaurants and just see a little bit of what we felt was the real Alaska.  I am now fully committed to going backpacking up there some day.



I did a little shopping (and found a new friend)      IMG_4033and we just chilled the rest of the day!

Ship's Log: Day 7: Cruisin' on Home

The last day, we just spent hanging out.  At one point, we were both even a little bored, although after a week of frantic packing and a week of sightseeing, it was rather welcome.

We did hit the gym for one last workout!  Back to basic dumbbell strength training since the gym didn't have a pull up bar or much floor space, which felt weird and great.


Lat Pull Downs + Bent Over Rows

Dumbbell Chest Presses + ... oh crap I can't remember now...

Military Presses + Push Ups

Heel Drops/Leg Lowers + V-Ups

Unilateral Oblique Crunches + Bicycle Crunches

That night, after a particularly "oh god I'm gonna pop" dinner, we just walked the deck for about an hour.  We saw a mama and baby orca (SHAMU!!!) as well as a pod of dolphins that was oddly announced by fish throwing themselves out of the water to avoid the impending danger.  It was a beautiful night and really special to just spend time together watching the water and the animals.

The next morning, we got into port and wrangled expedited disembarkation.  BOMB, by the way if you can get up early.

We grabbed our car at the hotel (the Holiday Inn North Vancouver, which I HIGHLY recommend. The BEST customer service I have ever encountered.) and B registered for classes using their business center before we hopped in the van and drove to the edge of Washington, where we spent the night in Liberty Lake (which I do NOT highly recommend.)

In the next episode: We find Huckleberry Shakes!!!

PULSE On the Road: Part 2: Alaska Days 4-5

...the journey continues!... Ship's Log: Day 4: Skagway

I got up that morning while B slept off the excitement of seeing the bear (and the embarrassment of his wife pretending to BE a bear) and worked out!

3 sets:

  • Single Leg Dumbbell Deadlift x 10 R/L
  • Renegade Dumbbell Row x 10 R/L
  • Heel Drop x 10 + Janda Sit up x 10
  • 2 min rowing machine between sets

3 Sets:

  • Pistol x 10 R/L
  • Push Up x 10
  • Side Plank Variations
  • 2 min rowing machine between sets

The ship stopped in Skagway, where we hopped on the White Pass and Yukon Railway for a trip up the old gold mining trek.  Seriously... best money we spent the whole trip.


The railway - which many people said could never be built - climbs more than 3,000 feet in just 20 miles over mountains and gorges to join the Yukon to the coast.


We had SO MUCH FUN riding in the old-timey cars!


That night, we sat and had a drink in one of the lounges and listened to dude playing acoustic guitar/singing covers of some truly awesome songs.  One drink in me and I was thiiiis close to yelling "DAVE!!! PLAY SOME DAVE!!!"  Then he took a break.  Sad.

Ship's Log: Day 5: Tracy Arm

This was probably one of my favorite days on the trip.  The weather was sunny and breezy (and cold!) all morning, while we cruised up the fjords and a bit overcast in the afternoon while we napped and worked out.  Perfection...

Summer vacation?

We cruised up the Tracy Arm Fjords to the glacier - and because the water was so calm/the ice so low, we were able to get just 1.5 miles way from the glacier!


One of those days that remind you just how tiny we little humans are...


That afternoon, after some napping in the library while attempting to read a book, we hit up the gym for a second round!

I did 45 min on the treadmill while B did my workout from the day before:

  • 2 min walk (steep hill)
  • 1 min walk (flat)
  • 2 min run
  • 1 min walk
  • repeat

*It's a janky tabbata for those of you who are looking for the missing zeroes.

That night, we trekked down to the onboard movie theater and watched IRON MAN 3!!!! Seriously - did I mention I'm a little kid? - I was scary excited since I hadn't been able to see it in theaters.  EEE!  We ended the night with cinnamon ice cream from the midnight buffet.  I die.

Stay tuned for days 6 & 7!!

PULSE On The Road: Part 1: Alaska Days 1-3

On Wednesday, August 7th, my husband and I packed up our 1 BR + Loft apartment in Sunnyvale, California to look for gold.. ahem... move to Madison, Wisconsin to begin his journey through law school and business school. For those of you that I work with and train, you know what a difficult summer it was for us - planning to leave a place that had become our home and people that had become our family.  I spent a lot of time in meditation and did a lot of yoga - something I'll get into as I write more - and found that although it was a tough decision, there was a lot of peace surrounding the sadness and the stress.

Before we ventured off to our home state (I grew up outside Madison,) we took a seven day cruise to Alaska to celebrate our three year wedding anniversary - no limbs missing and no casualties - and our final chance to live like we still had a salary for a few years!

The drive to Vancouver, B.C. was a long one... and felt even longer after packing and moving out.  But with one quick detour to see a dear friend in Tacoma, Washington, we made it to the cruise ship with our luggage and selves intact.  Bon Voyage!

Ship's Log Day 1: At Sea: Captain and First Mate experiencing an overwhelming sense of gravity, leading to long hours spent sleeping and sitting down reading books.


Ship's Log Day 2:  At Sea: Read more books.  Took more naps.  Ate more foods. Found the gym and did a circuit workout!

3 sets w/ 2 min Rowing Machine between sets:

  • 10 Dumbbell Squats
  • 10 Dumbbell Presses
  • 10 Push Ups

3 sets w/ 2 min Rowing Machine between sets:

  • 10 Dumbbell Deadlifts
  • 10 Dumbbell Bent Over Rows
  • 10 Breaths in Plank

A whole bunch of core work...

Ship's Log Day 3:  Juneau, Alaska!

We hopped off in Juneau to check out the Mendenhall Glacier and took a 20 min ride to the glacier on a blue school bus with a rather entertaining driver for just $8.

We were there at the end of of the salmon run and were sooooo lucky to see a mama black bear and two baby black bears tumbling after her as she looked for an omega-3 rich dinner.


We took the Nugget Falls trail out toward the glacier, which was about a mile walk.


And ended our trip with the visitor's center. In which I proceeded to act like a lunatic/toddler.


Took a quick side trip to the Red Dog Saloon (because, you have to, right?) and for the obligatory sign photo, but otherwise, didn't spent too much time in Juneau proper.

IMG_1920Our next stop was Skagway, and probably my favorite!  Stay tuned for the next episode of MOOSE AND SQUIRREL!

(Honk if you got the reference.  Because that sh*t earned me two points during shipboard pub quiz.  Which we dismally lost anyway.)

Protein Snacks for YOUR Bikini Body

Can I just say how much I love this?  (apologizing now for the swears) bikini body

EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU has a bikini body... so love it and rock it!  Here's what I've been snacking on as we head into summer and into my bikini...

Edamame with Sea Salt

The process of shelling before eating will slow you down (it's the pistachio effect!) if you tend to be a mindless snacker, and this protein-filled snack will stave off sugar cravings and is as high in iron as a 4-oz chicken breast!

  • 120 calories
  • 9 grams fiber
  • 2.5 grams fat
  • 11 grams protein

Roasted Rosemary Almonds with Sea Salt

Rosemary and Sea Salt Almonds

Can I just start with how much I love Pinterest (follow me!) ?  JUST when I think I've seen it all... BAM. Angry cat is having a tryst with the adorable dog from Virgin Airlines.

All that aside, this recipe for sea salt and rosemary almonds is seriously amazing!

  • 117 Calories
  • 2.2 grams Fiber
  • 10.5 grams Fat
  • 3.8 grams Protein
    • (based on 1/4 c serving)

Organic String Cheese

Trader Joe... my dear friend... I could nosh on your organic string cheese along side an apple.  With a sliced pear.  Or sliced with a plate of organic turkey breast, carrots and hummus.

  • 80 Calories
  • 6 g Fat
  • 8 g Protein

Other stuff I chow when no one's looking...

Plain Greek Yogurt with Vanilla Stevia and Slivered Almonds

Small Apple with Chunky Peanut Butter

Brown rice cakes shmeared with avocado and hummus

Turkey Jerky


What are your favorite summertime snacks?!



what to do when your goals conflict

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA"Having it all" ... that elusive concept of balance in work, life, romance, fitness etc.  When you want a lean body, fitness takes over.  When you want financial success, work wins out.  When your relationship is most important, waistlines tend to grow and work may play second fiddle. This past summer, I started working with Celeste Walker of For Living Conciously to develop a deeper sense of self awareness and how I reacted to and interacted with the world and the people around me.

(Quick sidebar to tell you: this woman is amazing.  My life has radically changed thanks in large part to her loving and gentle reminders to be loving and gentle.)

Something I learned quickly - was that there are multiple people bonking around in my head.  There's a task master.  A yogi.  A mother and caregiver. An athlete.  A college co-ed who just wants to sleep. and on and on.  The question is: How do you make sure that your "parts" equal a whole?

Tiny Buddha (which I read religiously) hit the nail on the head.  A concept used in neurolinguistic programming, "parts integration" simply means recognizing that all those people in your head have good intentions for you, and that - while they conflict sometimes - they're usually looking out for your best interest.  (The author calls them his " internal family" ... and I love that.) The trick is recognizing that bigger interest.

Whether you have time to read the article or not (and I highly suggest you do!) ... know that when incredibly strong emotions or drives to achieve a certain goal pop up and start to sabotage your hapiness, it's usually one part commandeering the rest.  But the biggest and best interest of most of those parts is success and happiness for YOU.  The whole.

What are your parts?  Who do you most frequently listen to?

Heart Healthy Valentine's Day Gift Ideas

Not sure what to get your sweetheart for Valentine's Day this year?  For the sake of your loved one's blood sugar and your reputation as a gift giver... consider skipping the box of chocolates and opting for something that will keep their heart pumping for a long time!

  • Heart Pumping PULSE Gift Certificates!  Email us with your desired package and we'll send a personalized gift certificate for our heart pumping kettlebell classes or heart melting yoga one-on-one sessions in Sunnyvale.  We'll even special order PULSE t-shirts to go with the certificate if you want a little something extra!
  • A Day's Worth of Heart Healthy Meals.  They say a man (or woman's!) heart is through the stomach... here's a whole day of healthy eats that say I love you.  (I'd take food over jewelry any day...)
  • A POLAR Heart Rate Monitor.  Help your loved one increase their athletic potential, track calories burned and make the most of their workouts.  I have an FT40 and LOVE IT.  Dare I suggest a PINK! one?

Leave us a note and let us know what creative ideas you have for your loved one this Valentine's Day!

3 Top Ways to Fight Obesity in 2013

As you push forward in setting goals and objectives this year... here's something to consider -- California came in 22nd this year in America's Health Rankings and 5th in Obesity Rankings...but the trend is upward, as it is all over the country.

The graph below shows - as we all know - that obesity is on the rise in California and across the nation.  And it's time to take a stand for our health!

The question is - what are we going to do about it?  The answer is simple, but not easy.

As Daniel Duane so eloquently pointed out earlier this month in his article "Everything you know about Fitness is a Lie" -- treadmills and weight machines are making us immobile and bored.

Movies and books such as Hungry For Change, Food Inc. and In Defense of Food are exposing the facts that "low fat" diets, low calorie foods and the diet industry at large are making us fatter and increasingly unhealthy.

So if what the paid media feeds us about the next great workout fad and diet craze that will give you those flat abs is a lie..... then what?

In order to combat obesity, America needs:

1. Body Awareness  Humans, as a species, have shut down our body/mind connection in the name of hard work, efficiency and convenience.  If we're going to take back our health, the first step is to get back into our own skins. Notice that packaged, processed foods and hours on a treadmill make us tired and sluggish.  Be aware of just how good a Yin Yoga class can feel to an immobile, desk-bound body and how much energy an organic, veggie-packed salad brings!

2. Home Cooking A few amazing, healthy restaurants notwithstanding, you are taking your life in your hands by entrusting your nutrition to companies and restaurants that make money by feeding you foods that make you want more.  Learning a few, basic cooking techniques - like roasting a chicken, putting together a salad or making soup! - is what will save our nation's health.  Read a blog, ask for help and make some mistakes.  Health home cooking could save your life!

3. Happy, Natural Movement I choose to use kettlebells and vinyasa yoga to move because they mimic and expound on our most basic movement patterns: pick up a heavy bag or box.  push a child on a swing.  twist around to look at a beautiful sky or roaring ocean.  You out there?  Find something that makes you happy!  Leo Babuta has a beautiful philosophy on fitness -- pure, childlike movement.  Find something that makes you feel that good all the time.

Personally, I spent years trapped in fad diets, on the Stairmill and out of my own body.  My journey to health has been such a blessing, and I truly hope that this year is an amazing step in your own process and progress.  Love the learning! Love the "in-between" times!  Love yourself exactly as you are... and love yourself enough to care for your body for years to come.

Happy New Year!