Simple Sweat and Stretch

5 Surya Namaskar 

  • Stand Tall

  • Step to High Plank and Lower to the Floor

  • Lift heart into Cobra

  • Press back to Down Dog

  • Step forward and Stand Tall

10 Minutes / On the Minute

  • 10 x 2-Hand Swings

  • 5-10 Push Ups

  • Rest for the remainder of the minute

5 Breaths Per Pose (do all right side, then left)

  • Runners Lunge or High Lunge

  • Standing Forward Fold (Feet together)

  • Hand-On-the-Wall Heart Opener

  • Standing Figure 4 Pose 

  • Standing Forward Fold (Feet together)

Crazy Week Workout

When things get crazy and you only have time for a short workout here's my go-to. Hits all highlights without taking too much time!

Warm up with full range-of-motion joint work and be sure to adjust/modify as needed. My weights are listed...I do this for a living. (Just sayin')

3 Sets: 5+5 16 kg Single Leg Deadlift 1+1 16 kg TGU 10 x Deadbugs

5 Sets: 1+1 20 kg Presses R/L 1 Double 20 kg Press

2 Sets: 1+1 24 kg TGU

Check it out and let me know what you think!

Yoga Playlists: July Grooves

I've gotten a ton of questions about my playlist from this month ... so here it is!  Probablyone of my favorites thus far. It's just one of those that makes my heart ache in a really really good way  :)

(If you have a Grooveshark account, just use this linkto see and play the whole thing!)

  • River Song / Jagadamba / Jai Ma - Govind Das & Radha
  • Himmon, TX - Bon Iver
  • Heartbeat - Jose Gonzales
  • Taxi Cab - Vampire Weekend
  • Tesselate - Alt-J
  • Bittersweet Faith (Thievery Corporation Remix) - Bitter:Sweet
  • Waves (Robin Schulz Radio Edit) - Robin Schulz
  • Illuminated - Hurts
  • Mere Ornaments - J. Tillman
  • Om Namo Narayani - Edo & Jo

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!

Vegan Almond Flour Protein Pancakes

Had a hankering for pancakes this morning and decided to roll with it!  (I'd post a picture of the actual pancakes, but they do NOT look pretty despite tasting amazing.) Vegan Protein Pancakes

(gluten free, vegan, paleo, delicious)


1/2 c Almond Meal (I dehydrate the leftovers when I make almond milk)

1/4 c Protein Powder (I used Hemp Protein, but Sun Warrior would be awesome!)

1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder

1/2 tsp Cinnamon

1/2 c Almond Milk

(3-5 drops NuNaturals Stevia if your protein powder is unsweetened)

Mix it Up:

1. Whisk together almond meal, protein powder, baking powder and cinnamon.  Slowly add almond milk (and stevia if desired), stirring until combined.

2. Pre-heat a griddle or cast iron pan, greased with a little coconut oil.  It's ready when a drop of water sizzles on impact.

3. Place 1/4 cup scoops of the pancake batter on the griddle and cook for 3-4 min/side, or until they lift easily with a spatula (don't undercook...they'll fall apart!)

I topped mine with a little smear of peanut butter and a drizzle of maple syrup (also known as the best combo ever.)  Hooraaaaaay breakfast!


I swore I'd Never Juice Cleanse

tumblr_mh3z895DIy1qeerubo3_250Quick disclaimer: Check with your doc or RD if you want to try something like this. If you're easily triggered on the Diet/Eating Disorder front, a juice fast is probably not for you in this moment and this post may not even be for you. To clarify on my end: some weight loss was a SIDE EFFECT and NOT A GOAL of my juice cleanse. If I don't have hypoglycemia I'm about as close as it gets.

I've got a 15 year history of disordered eating = a really firecracker combination of restricting/bingeing/restricting.

Throw in my weekly workout and teaching schedule?  Forgetabouuuuudit.

But when my (very trusted and absurdly adorable) nutritionist, Dori Friedberg of Healing Thru Food, recommended it to help jumpstart some healing for my skin and gut, I agreed to try it.

The first couple days of pre-cleanse (just smoothies, salads, fruits, veggies) did not bode well.  I sent her a frantic email on the day before I started juicing full time.  It went something like "AM ALREADY STARVING! PLS SEND TORTILLA CHIPS IN BULK."

The response was very calm: "You've got this. Don't let yourself get hungry.  Drink TONS of juice."

I was completely surprised, that she was right. I drank 16 oz of mostly vegetable juice every 3 hours or so and felt *amazing.*  I wasn't hungry.  I didn't have cravings until toward the end of day 3 when I knew solid food was in sight, and I was mostly craving the experience of chewing fresh fruits and veggies.

The most remarkable results of the cleanse were completely unrelated to the (mostly temporary) weight loss I experienced.

My thoughts and processes felt clear and unhindered.

My blood sugar was pretty consistent because I was drinking juice so often, and there was no sugar/gluten/dairy/bleh anything to gum up the works. I was *insanely* productive!!

The following week proved to be quite trying on a personal and professional front, and as I stuck with a "solid food cleanse" nutrition plan, I found myself able to experience and process my emotions in a really amazing way.  When the body is clear and clean, it acts as a beautiful conduit.

I could simply enjoy what I was consuming without worry or planning ahead.

I tend to be a planner when it comes to food.  Because my schedule is so wacky and I can't afford to eat at the Co-Op every time I gets snack, I have to pack food, plan for blood sugar lows and ensure that I have enough calories to get me through 8 hours of teaching some days. On the juice fast?  I only had to make sure I had a cooler and some juice.

I was never thinking 'Hm. I wonder what I'll have for dessert?  When is dinner again?  Should I eat more in case I'm hungry later?' I just enjoyed what I was drinking and knew my next juice would be ready when I needed it.  What a blessing to live in a present, abundance mindset!

Sugar cravings subsided.

I freakin' love sugar.  Plain and simple.  And while I've been *drastically* reducing my processed sugar intake (like...none) because it makes me feel sh*$^& about 12.2 min after I eat it, going more than a week without processed sugar was both enlightening and exciting.  A date with almond butter was MORE than enough of a treat after drinking kale lemonade for 3 days  :)

I learned - once again - that I'm capable of more than I think.

They say we'll keep getting a lesson over and over until we learn it.  And whether it's my SFG prep, moving across the country or juice fasting for 3 days, the lesson has recently seemed to be:  You are capable, strong and sufficient in this moment.  

Even in my recovery, food and dieting have been a crutch.  They are means to distract myself from unpleasant and uncomfortable emotions by either eating or thinking about eating or dieting or thinking about dieting.  Because this fast was a reset button with the intention of healing, it was a chance to practice caring for myself without those crutches.  And it worked  :)

Will I do it again?

My plan is to do a 3-5 day juice cleanse 2 times/year or so.  My skin was a little dry from lack of fat and we - obviously - can't live on juice especially when training.  There's something, though, about a straight shot of vitamins and enzymes to the brain!   After going back on solid food, I found myself kind of missing the simplicity and the clarity of the previous week.

What am I doing now?

Definitely juicing.  I love the afternoon boost of greens!  I typically make two or three 16 oz juices at a time and drink them over the course of two days.  (It's not ideal, but I hate cleaning my juicer.)

Eating pretty vegan and pretty "clean."  No meat, litte-to-no dairy, sugar or gluten (cards on the table: this weekend was sort of an exception on the dairy/gluten/sugar front and I feel like a$$.)  I LIKE eating plant-based and I really LIKE how I feel when my system is free of the stuff that seems to slow me down.  This is in NO way a diet and I'm leaving myself plenty of wiggle room, so it doesn't feel restrictive at all!  Mostly liberating, really.

Remembering that food is a blessing, that I have an abundance of healthy meals and options and there is no need to 'eat defensively' in case I'm hungry later (#packsnacks.)


Share your juicing experiences, questions, comments, complaints and general existential experiences in the comments!!!

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?


Why I'm Not a "Positive Thinker"

birds“We are not going to change the whole world, but we can change ourselves and feel free as birds. We can be serene even in the midst of calamities and, by our serenity, make others more tranquil. Serenity is contagious. If we smile at someone, he or she will smile back. And a smile costs nothing. We should plague everyone with joy. If we are to die in a minute, why not die happily, laughing. (136-137)”

~ Swami Satchidananda, The Yoga Sutras

I’m not a member of the positive thinking camp. I certainly don’t recommend wallowing in the depths and depressions, but without space for everything that arises we stifle parts of ourselves that are dear and precious. My darkest hours create beautiful art and prose.

The valleys in my life initiate ascension. My “worst” self gives me the nutrient rich compost in which I am able to grow a garden of awareness and contemplative practice. My teacher offers the invitation to “include and transcend” as we change, a phrase that continues to echo in my mind as I read and re-read this Sutra...

Read the full article here on Elephant Journal!

YouAreBeautiful-HEADLINEI have a friend who is breathtaking; her thighs are smooth, her arms are toned, and her abs are sculpted.  Her silky hair and flawless makeup are picture-perfect every single day. She photographs beautifully and she’s funny, talented, intelligent, and driven.  She eludes a strong sense of confidence and is truly lovely in every way.  She also struggles with low self-esteem... We, as women, have been steeped in a culture of dissatisfaction with our inner and outer selves. We are told, “You’re beautiful just as you are,” yet we are inundated with ads for diet pills and books on fad diets.  We are told, “Get strong, not skinny!” as we watch TV shows about how to get thinner faster and movies featuring waif-like women in size zero jeans.  We are told, “Stand up for yourself!” but are far too often represented as shrew-like and demanding when angry or afraid.

So how do we begin to build a strong foundation of self-love, self-care, and healthy self-image?...

Read the full article here!

Chocolate Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

The perfect snack! We needed some healthy "snacky" cookies to have around the house, so I took this recipe and made a few changes to create something that would be sweet and satisfying without breaking the bloodsugar bank!  Just a few reasons why these are better than Chips Ahoy  ;)

  • Flax Meal: Omega 3's
  • Coconut Oil: Healthy Skin
  • Whole Wheat Flour: Fiber
  • Oatmeal: Anti-Inflammatory
  • Dark Chocolate: too many to name...

Chocolate Coconut Oatmeal Cookies (makes 16 or so):

Could easily make Gluten Free by using GF Baking Mix in place of flour and GF Oats

  • 1 1/4 C Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/3 C Ground Flax Meal
  • 1/4 tsp Baking Soda
  • Dash of sea salt
  • 1/2 C Coconut Oil, softened
  • 1/2 C Raw Honey
  • 1 Tbs Ground Flax Meal mixed in 3 Tbs Warm Water (or one egg)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 C Rolled Oats
  • 1/2 C Dark Chocolate Chips or Carob Chips
  • 1/4 C Unsweetened Coconut Shreds
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Combine flour, flax seed meal, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
  3. In another bowl, beat coconut oil and honey until smooth; add egg replacer or egg and vanilla.
  4. Stir flour mixture into wet ingredients until dough is just combined. Fold oats, chocolate chips and coconut into dough.
  5. Shape dough into 1 1/2-inch balls or drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart.
  6. Bake 10-12 minutes or until slightly browned on the edges. Cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

The Power of Exercise (de)Programming

Wakefulness. Attentiveness. Compassion.  Photo Credit: Topher Simon Photography (THANK YOU! To everyone who read and shared my post on The Biggest Loser.  We saw more than 800 visitors that day! Please feel free join us on Facebook or sign up for our newsletter over there to the right if you want to stay in touch.)

A few months ago, I was talking to my teacher about my kettlebell practice, and how I felt that it was in direct opposition to the mindful, intuitive approach I take with my yoga practice.

In a Strong First practice, things are done "the right way" and there are specific things "to be done."  In my yoga practice, things are done in a way that feels resonant and vibrant and there are things "to be experienced."  I was - honestly - starting to dread my bell work because it was triggering old feelings of frantic-ness and rigidity.

He gave me some wise - and pretty obvious - advice.  Why not approach workouts the way you approach yoga?

Be without expectations.  Approach with curiosity.  Commit to wakefulness. 

So - until 3 weeks ago - my workouts were just that.  Some days I did swings and pull ups, other days I went for a jog or rode my bike, some days I just did yoga.  No set time or schedule - just moved when I felt like moving (which was pretty much every day.)  MUCH to my surprise, I lost a pants size in 3 months without dieting.  Without an exercise program.  Without stress.  In fact - I was enjoying myself so much that I only noticed the weight had fallen off when my favorite jeans almost did the same.

SO!  Here's a VERY CLOSELY GUARDED SECRET in the Fitness Industry.  HERE is the weight loss panacea...the GUARANTEED TO WORK diet for this year!! :


That's it.  JUST LISTEN. Your body will tell you if you're tired and need a day off, a yoga class, a hill sprint workout (although you have to be really committed to listening to pick up on that one.)  It will tell you if you need a kale salad, a smoothie or some simple carbohydrates and fat.  The most simple and challenging thing in the world: attentive listening.  (Anyone who's in any kind of relationship can attest to that.)

Here's where things get tricky.  Exercise programs and protocols are also important.  Discipline and structure serve a very important purpose for meeting athletic and physical goals.

The KEY is -- discipline and structure also serve a very important purpose in learning to let go.

I'm currently back on a strict training program, getting ready for my SFG Recertification weekend in April, which is programmed at 5 days/week of training at a no-joke level of focus and dedication. And I had a lot of very legitimate fear that it would send me down the vortex of verbal self-abuse, exhaustion and anger...that the increase appetite associated with metabolic training would trigger my eating disorder symptoms.

But my teacher also says that "Practice makes you accident prone."  And the past couple weeks of structured training, I've had a lot of accidents.  Accidental wakefulness inside discipline.  Accidental release of expectations (which creates an amazing way to surprise yourself.)  Accidental curiosity.  All those months of practicing mindful exercise and listening to my body had conditioned me to operate within a strict discipline WHILE being present!

I've struggled a little with listening to my body when it comes to food...but mostly because it wants ALL THE FOOD.  ALL THE TIME. thanks to the increased training.  But I'm doing my best, and despite a lot of whole milk and peanut butter - I can see my abs for the first time ever.  I didn't even have abs when I was "skinny."  Ha!

So here's the takeaway (because who the hell cares about jeans size and abs):


Take 6 weeks, or maybe you'll need 6 days or 6 months, to practice mindful exercise. Go to the gym or the park or the trail with an attitude of playfulness.  Not sure how to do that?  Start here:

Picture an exercise and notice your physical (below the neck) response.  Clenching?  Opening?  Excitement?  Do this until you find an exercise that you really freakin' want to do and do it until you don't "feel like it" any more.  Then repeat the process.  No stress about how much you get done that day, as long as you are openly curious to what your body says.  Journal each workout with a note on what you did, how you felt and what your response was - resistance? fear? hopefulness?  (I experienced euphoric sprinting at one point...)

One caveat/caution to this practice:  Your brain saying "I'M TIIIIIRED.  I DON'T WAAAAAANNA" is not the same as your body saying, "OK.  Thank you so much for listening.  We're done here for now."


If the idea of chucking your program and/or diet out the window for a while is scary (terrifying?) - you're not alone.  Especially if you struggle with exercise addition or disordered eating, the idea of releasing control can bring up a lot of visceral fear.  And I would say that fear is a very important piece of information about yourself, so notice it and welcome it to the gym.  Then allow it to head over to the StairClimber for an hour while you play.  Because - honestly - you might lose a little conditioning.  You might temporarily set down a little bit of strength.

But I can guarantee you.  GUARANTEE.  that if you do the practice and allow your body to truly call the shots for a while (again -- your body, not your head) that emotional peace and physical contentment will follow.  

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.


Staying Fit in Winter

snowy street with vignette (1 of 1)First off - I'm going to redefine "fit" for the purpose of this article.

Fit (n) : vibrant, having access to free-flowing energy in the body, well and healthy

This winter has been INSANE (Polar Vortex is not, apparently, a specialty blended cocktail featuring peppermint schnapps) and many well-meaning people have joked "Well!  you picked the wrong year to move to Wisconsin!" Cute.  Speciality cocktails and well-meaning  Wisconsinites in 5 layers of smart wool aside:

It can be really challenging to feel vibrant and healthy this time of year and I have actually been pleasantly surprised with the lack of SAD and 5# of hot chocolate gain I was - honestly - expecting.  Drum roll, please?

Top 5 Things that Have Kept Me Fit This Winterice on tree2 with vignette (1 of 1)

1. Exercise

You were expecting naps?  But seriously - I have made a concerted and sometimes not super perky effort to make sure I exercise every. single. day.  Some days are hard core training days at the gym or in my basement, hauling kettlebells and my bodyweight around with vigor.  Other days I make it to a yoga class.  Over Christmas, I went snow shoeing and walked on the dread mill.  But there have been VERY few days where I haven't moved in some way and it has made ALL the difference in the world.

2. Green Food

I am vata-pitta dosha, so raw food and I just really don't get along in winter.  Salads?  Forget about it.  I've had to make the conscious decision to get green veggies into my life because I lean so heavily toward winter veggies like sweet potatoes this time of year.

  • Drink a green smoothie every day or so
  • Put a scoop of Ormus Greens in my water bottle
  • Sautee kale or spinach as a side dish

3. Fat

After spending so many years on the diet train, the idea of purposefully adding significant amounts of fat to my diet was -frankly - terrifying.  But with my excema flaring up and my hair falling out... I went ahead and tried it.  BAM. Skin cleared up, brain fog went down, sugar cravings decreased.

  • Switch to whole milk for coffee
  • Add Coconut Oil to my a.m. coffee or smoothie
  • Take HIGH QUALITY Omega-3 Fatty Acids (take my advice: don't buy the cheap stuff.  $30/bottle is worth it to not...ahem..."repeat" sardine oil all day)
  • Eat nuts for snacks

4. Vitamin D

This is going to sound ridiculous, but the best day of this winter, it was -15.  I had just finished a kettlebell class with a friend and was sitting at Chipotle nomming a salad in front of a giant picture window.  SUN!!!!!

  • Sit by the window at the coffee shop
  • Go outside for a walk if it's at or above your cold threshold (25 for me)
  • Take a Vitamin D supplement. Sunshine in a bottle : Trust me on that one.
  • Sun lamp or lights -- I use full spectrum lights in the basement for my videos, so I just pop those on when I'm working out down there!

5. Radical Self Awareness and Acceptance

There are "those days" -- when I think I'm going to tear my hear out because it's blowing snow AGAIN.  The trick is knowing what you need, and I've stopped judging myself when I realize what that is on any given day.

  • Do a few burpees or jog your stairs if you need to expend energy
  • Wrap up in a blanket with a  book if you need comfort
  • Watch a movie or take a nap if you just need to check out
  • Get on Pinterest and visualize yourself in the beautiful places you want to be

I really really really don't like winter.  But I really really really like feeling pretty damn good most of the time and don't see any reason why the weather should get to interfere with that.


Crockpot and Freezer Hacks

This will be quick.  But so are these hacks. PROBLEM:  Canned Beans.

I got really tired of using canned beans because of the BPA in the lining, the icky feeling every time I used a can and tossed it (in the recycle bin, but still) and the $1.89/can for Organic Chickpeas.

HACK:  Cook dry beans in the crock pot.

Soak beans overnight.  Rinse and dump in crockpot.  Cover with water or stock and add a bay leaf, garlic, whatever.  Cook on low for 4+ hours.  Cool them and store in 1.5 cup servings in your freezer.  Thaw when you need them!  Black beans are great cooked with salsa, chickpeas with garlic and lemon for hummus and kidney beans are a chili staple around here.


PROBLEM: Chicken stock -- also in cans or tetra packs, also expensive. 

HACK: 5 min DIY Stock

When you cook a chicken, save the bones (they freeze super easily.)  Throw them in the crockpot with 8 cups water, a carrot, the leafy tops of celery, large chunks of onion and a bay leaf or two.  (I save my veggie odds and ends also in the freezer for this purpose.)  Cook for 8 hours on low.  Freeze in old peanut butter jars that you've saved and rinsed!


PROBLEM: Wasted Kale.

My kale gets wilty before I can use it all in salads or sautés sometimes...and it's not cheap this time of year!

HACK: Frozen Kale.

Curly kale freezes *beautifully!*  Rinse, dry well, tear the leaves off the stems and store in a zip lock bag in the freezer.  Seriously perfect to add to a smoothie!


PROBLEM: Need a perfectly cooked chicken at 4 pm.

I use a whole chicken to use for a couple of recipes and some stock...but because of my evening training schedule, I don't always have time to wait while he roasts up golden brown.

HACK: Stick that bad boy in the crock pot.

Breast down.  Rubbed with anything you want.  I've done:

  • Curry = thai chicken curry, chutney chicken salad with apricots, and chicken + rice
  • Salsa = chicken tacos, burrito bowls, southwestern chicken salad
  • Lemon and garlic = chicken stir fry, chicken noodle soup, yummy right off the bone


PROBLEM: I don't want to do the dishes.

HACK: Leave them for tomorrow morning.

What are your kitchen quick-fixes to save time, money and sanity??

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

Why Yoga?

This article was published in Training and Fitness Magazine in January 2014 IMG_1177

For those who pursue strength and fitness as a lifestyle, the idea of surrender often looms as something foreign or frightening. We teach our bodies to push through barriers and our minds to block discomfort as we chase new levels of ability.

Yoga, on the other hand, asks us to feel uncomfortable, notice barriers that arise without blasting through them, and accept the healing of wounds that we’d often rather not admit to. And while the message is distinctly different from that inundating the fitness industry, the end result of simply allowing the possibility of that path can mean a new relationship with your body and its ability to build strength and surrender deeply.

Why Yoga? Yoga intimately touches upon the connections between body, brain, and drives.  By strengthening that connection, you can experience greater flexibility and less chaos in the gym and in your daily life...

Click here to read the full article at Training and Fitness Mag!