Life Lately: Thanksgiving Food and Fitness

How’s everyone feeling after their post Thanksgiving food coma? Taking a second to get back to my last post, if you’re dreading today as the day that you have to beat yourself up for everything you ate over the weekend, please stop that (saying it a little nicer this time). Today is not the day to crush yourself in the gym to work through your food guilt– today is just another day to continue your healthy, moderate lifestyle. Just another Tuesday, just another week. Cool? Cool. Moving on.

Thanksgiving for us was spread out a bit, which is much better for us than trying to cram in multiple family visits over 1-2 days. Our holiday festivities actually began last Sunday, when Will and I hosted some of my family at our place for a pre-turkey day feast. We started doing this last year, and I really like that we’re keeping the tradition going. It’s really nice to cook for them without the stress of a major holiday gathering!

This year, we started the meal off with some delicious butternut squash soup that Will made. The main meal was roasted chicken with root vegetables accompanied by homemade macaroni and cheese. Dessert was my apple pie, which I changed up a little this year with a crumb topping instead of the traditional crust topping. I must say, I liked it better this way and will probably keep making it like this from now on.






It was such a wonderful, low key day to spend with family, and it was a great opportunity for them to see our new apartment for the first time.

Fast forward a few days and it was time for actual Thanksgiving, which we spent with Will’s family in Connecticut. We were lucky to spend the day with family, catching up and eating delicious food, not the least of which was the turkey that my brother in law had raised– can’t get much more fresh or local than that. I didn’t take any pictures of the food that day though — just trust me when I say that I ate well. Very well.


I’m not going to lie, I also spent a good part of my day visiting with the two mini goats that my in laws have, they are just so darn cute!


To me, time off for holidays usually means time away from my usual workout routine. I still get some workouts in, but they’re usually away from my gym, since my gym is at work. This year was no different in this regard, and I even had a couple of workout highlights in the past week despite being away from my usual routine.


  • I took advantage of some unseasonably warm temps for a backyard kettle bell and rope circuit while baking a pie. My favorite kind of multi tasking!
  • Wednesday, I did yoga for the first time in at least a year. It was exactly the kind of movement that my body needed that day, and I felt absolutely amazing afterward. It reminded me how incredible yoga makes me feel, and made me realize how much I need to bring it back into my life.


  • A not so successful run. I went out for a hilly 4, but about 2.5 miles in, my right IT band started biting at my knee and that was it. I did a really ugly walk/jog combination to get home, but my IT band was not having any jogging for more than about 10 steps at a time. It was frustrating, and certainly not the way I intended on starting my Thanksgiving. But did I let that stop me from eating all the pie my little heart desired? Of course not.


I may have been hurting, but the views were still amazing! 

Post Thanksgiving:

  • I most definitely did not beat myself up with grueling workouts following the holiday; in fact, the next time I laced up my sneakers was Sunday morning. Holiday food guilt has no place in my brain! Anyway, Sunday morning I went out for a run, intending on doing 4 or maybe 5 miles depending on how I felt. I intentionally ran a very flat route in order to keep my IT band (hopefully) happy, and without the hills of my usual loop, I cruised through 6.2 miles quite easily! I felt wonderful, I had a great time for me (average of 8:59 min/mile), and my IT band only nagged a little bit on a few small inclines. I’d call that a huge win for the weekend! Carb loading pays off, and this is proof.*

*Totally non-scientific proof.


Now I’m back in the swing of things and life is good. We have a few holiday parties coming up as well as a weekend in NYC, so I feel like this holiday season is just going to cruise on by.  Hopefully I can find a little down time in there somewhere to relax, but in the meantime, I’m ready to enjoy one of my favorite times of year.

Readers: How do you change up your workouts when you’re on a break for a holiday? Do you have any exciting holiday plans coming up?

Healthy Thanksgiving? Thanks, but No Thanks

I’m not going to stick around long today, because I’m too busy baking pie and hanging around my house in my sweatpants.
But what I am going to say, briefly, is a message to all of my US friends who will be celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow.

No, Thanksgiving is not all about the food (wait, what?), but food does tend to be the central focus of most holiday gatherings. And so, my message today is not about what I’m thankful for, which is so, so, so much these days. My message today is about the (absurdly delicious) food.

SO many people stress about what to eat and what not to eat at the holidays — how many calories is on that plate? How many miles will I have to run to burn that off? How will I ever live with myself after today?!?

Well, my PSA to you today is to SHUT THE F*** UP. Seriously. Not trying to be rude here, but stop it with that nonsense. Take your food stress and throw it right out the window. Eat the pie. Eat the buttery mashed potatoes. Eat the weird green Jello thing your aunt always brings. EAT THE DAMN STUFFING. Eat whatever you want to eat, and enjoy every bit of it. And then probably go back and enjoy another slice of pie. (Don’t forget the whipped cream).

Go back to your healthy lifestyle and moderation tomorrow, because Thanksgiving is not Thanksgiving at all without a few slices of pie, amiright?

Eat it all. Have no regrets. Have no guilt. Loosen up your pants and live a little!

There, I’ve said it.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!




Workout Wednesday: Landmine Squat and Press

I feel like I’ve been a bit lost at sea lately in the blog world — lacking focus and a plan, I’ve kind of just been bobbing about on the surface, without giving too much in the way of quality content. Well, I think it’s time I change that, no?


In hopes of starting a new Wednesday series, I’m giving it a whirl today. This hopefully will entail either workouts or descriptions of different lifts each and every Wednesday, in the hopes of giving you all some new ideas for your workouts or important tips on form.

Well then, let’s just get right into it,  shall we?

Today I want to describe one of my favorite lifts to you, although one that is not done very often. It takes a classic strength movement (the squat) and adds the forces from a slightly different direction, allowing you to work on different areas that may need a little work. I showed a quick clip of this on my Instagram page last week, and it’s something that I try to incorporate into my lifts at least once per week. Honestly, I use the landmine set up a lot, but the only equipment you really need for this is a barbell. The “fancy” landmine attachment is just a bonus.

The Set Up:

If your gym has a landmine attachment, place one end of a barbell into it and add weight to the other end. If you have never done this before, or if you are new to front-loaded squatting, start out with a lighter weight until you get the form down. If you don’t have the landmine attachment, simply place one end of the barbell on the floor in a corner of the room (so it doesn’t roll side to side). Remember, the weight of the bar will be added to your total, so don’t be discouraged if you can only do these with “only” 10 lb or so added to the bar (or even just the bar itself!)


See the attachment that’s holding the un-weighted end of the barbell? Many gyms have these, and they are great. But you don’t NEED one at all to do landmine work! 

The Lift 

Stand facing the weighted end of the bar, pick it up slowly with a good hip-hinge and flat back to protect your back. Position yourself so that you are standing with the end of the bar held at your chest, grasping the end of the barbell with both hands, feet shoulder width apart. You may have to play around with your foot position a little bit, but you can do this throughout the first few reps to find your zone.

Keeping the barbell held firmly at your chest, brace your core and sit your hips back into a squat. The most important part of this lift is sitting the hips back, not pushing the knees forward. Continue bracing your core throughout the entire movement, just as you would with a front squat or goblet squat. Sit down between your knees, making sure that your knees stay facing forward (not caving in towards each other). Explode through the glutes and quads to return to your standing position. When you reach the top, press the barbell up and forward (in it’s natural arc), and return to chest position. This is one rep.

Safety Tips: 

Just a reminder — brace that core, sit the hips back, and focus on activating your glutes to keep those knees facing forward. If you can do this in front of a mirror, do so — this is the best way to ensure that your knees aren’t caving in at the bottom of your range, or on your return to standing. If the press at the top causes pain in your shoulders, simply eliminate that from your lift. The squat is extremely beneficial on it’s own, and that is just a bonus movement for those who are able to complete it. Also important to remember: Don’t arch your back when going into the forward press; keep that core braced throughout the entire movement to protect your spine.

Why should you do this lift?

This is an excellent accessory lift for those who are looking to improve their front squat, and also for those who are just getting into weight lifting in general. Building anterior core strength and mastering the “sit back” movement of squatting is essential before loading up a heavy barbell on your back, and this is a perfect exercise to practice and achieve both of these things. Nervous about “wrecking your knees” with squats? Practicing the motion of sitting back with your hips is a great way to protect them, and a very important part of a proper squat movement. One of the great things about this lift is that it can be useful for people at any weight-lifting level — beginners and experts alike. And as an added bonus? You get a little shoulder action in there as well.

Readers: What do you think of a Workout Wednesday regular series? Would you be more interested in specific lifts or mini-workouts — or both? Do you ever do landmine work in your routine?

Small Successes

We all want to see success in our lives, in our fitness routines, in our diets. But what happens when you get to a point, where for some reason or another, things seem to plateau? It can be hard to stay motivated when you feel like your hard work is getting you nowhere, especially if you’re someone starting out on a new routine or a new challenge.

But the truth is, in the world of health and fitness, big successes are often few and far between. It’s the daily grind, the tiny baby steps that bring us to our bigger goals, and those need to be celebrated just like the larger goals, or it can be difficult to realize that you are making progress, no matter how small.

This happens to all of us though — not only those who are just starting out on their fitness journey. For example, my workouts lately have been a little bit sub par for what I expect of myself. Work and life stresses, and a few random viruses here and there have meant that some of my training has taken a step back. My deadlift right now is not at my best, and I’m doing pull-ups in sets of 4 instead of 6-8. I went for a run last weekend that made me feel like I hadn’t run in years.

I could use these as reasons to hang my head and get discouraged, or I can decide to look at the whole picture and find the positives in all of this. The small successes that are bringing me back toward my goals after a little bit of an off time.


This is one of my favorite graphics because it is SO true. Very rarely, if ever, does real life let you get to your goals in one straight shot! 

So what are the small successes that I’ve had lately in my training?

  • I pulled 185 on my deadlifts last week for sets of 3, sans lifting belt. Why is this a success when my 1RM is/was 235? Well, after not doing a ton of heavy lifting all summer, singles at 175 were really tough for me coming back in the fall. 185 is now starting to feel much easier, and although I’m not up to where I want to be in terms of strength, I am seeing progress and that’s what really matters right now.
  • I completed multiple sets of 4 pull-ups. Again, when I’ve done sets of 8 in the not-so-recent past, I could get discouraged with only 4. But pull-ups are something that I’ve found tend to decrease if you don’t do them very regularly, and I let myself slack on them big time this summer. A couple of months ago, I was struggling to complete multiple sets of 2, but now 4 comes pretty easily. I’ll be back in the higher rep range before I know it!
  • A great 5-mile run on Sunday. I’ve been running most Sundays recently, and while some days are certainly better than others, I tend to stick to around 4 miles. Yesterday, I went out with the intention of running my usual 4, but got to 4 and felt so great that I kept going to 5.3. I honestly felt like I could have easily run 6 or 7, but didn’t have time as I had to get to work. To my surprise, when I looked at my splits, mile 5 was my fastest mile! I’m no speed demon, but when I haven’t run 5 miles since last spring, I’ll take a great negative split, especially when I was running into a good amount of headwind. Small success yes, but for me, great runs like that are exactly what I need to motivate me to keep moving forward.

Runkeeper Splits

Mile 5 my fastest full mile? I’ll take it! 

None of these are groundbreaking. None of these will put me in the elite class of any type of fitness category. But they’re all successes for me, right now, and that’s what matters the most. Even if you just improve by 1 rep or 1 lb, that’s still 1 rep or 1 lb more than you could move last week. Small successes may not be flashy or get you a lot of outside attention, but they are the building blocks to get you to where you want to be. Recognizing these can keep you motivated to move toward those bigger goals, even when they feel so far away. Because every little step gets you closer, and before you know it, you’re exactly where you want to be.

Readers: What are some small successes you’ve enjoyed lately? Do you take time to recognize the small successes in your life or are you more focused on the bigger goals? How do you keep yourself motivated during times of plateau? 

Good Reads Friday – The Intersection Between Lifting and Running

Hello and Happy Friday!

How is everyone’s week going? I’m going to throw it back to a couple of posts ago and ask – what is the best part of your week so far? And the worst?

Personally, my week has been glorious all around. For the first time in a few months, I haven’t had any late nights at work this week, which means I’ve been getting home around 7 every night. I feel like I’ve had so much free time, which is funny, because that’s not even really that early, considering how early I pass out every night. But I’ll take it!

I guess the worst part of my week so far is the state of my iPhone right now. It’s been through the ringer the past couple of weeks and I think it’s just hanging on by a thread. I’ll have a new one on Monday but the truth is, I’m afraid to take it out of the box. This is why I can’t have nice things.

Anyway, I haven’t done a good reads post in a while, so why not share some good old fashioned links today? These are some great pieces I’ve read recently, and have shared a couple of them already on my Facebook page if you follow along there.

Exercise Variety is Making You Weak – From the folks over at T-Nation. “Muscle confusion” leads to bigger gains? False. Here’s why.

Boston Marathon, Here I Come! – From Caitlin at Fit and Feminist. A beautifully written personal account of why qualifying for Boston means so much to her — a great reminder that a race isn’t always “just” a race. I love hearing the stories behind marathon runners, and I can’t wait to cheer Caitlin on in the spring!

Crossing the Finish Line 25 Pounds Lighter – Running vs. Lifting?  One runner’s story about how lifting helped her race times and her overall well being. I’m a strong proponent of runners lifting weights, and I love pieces like this to spread the word!

How Salad Can Make Us Fat  – This is NOT just about salads having too much dressing or high calorie fillings (although this is often true in restaurants). Some interesting ideas about how just the presence of healthy choices can lead us to making less healthy decisions when eating out — is this the ultimate health halo, and how can we counteract this?

The Deadlift Beginner Basics – From Tony Gentilcore. Most of you know that I have a true love for deadlifts — they are without question my favorite lift. There is nothing that makes me feel so powerful, so strong as a deadlift, and I think the world would be a better place if everyone did them. The problem is, many people are intimidated or just plain don’t know where to start when it comes to proper form, etc. So where should you start? Click the link for a great guide to the basics, and transform yourself into a deadlifting, badass superchick in no time.

And with that, I’m out. I’m working all weekend so I don’t think it’ll be filled with too much craziness, but I’ll enjoy it nonetheless. TGIF!

A Weekend in Pictures: San Diego

Hello friends!

Will and I got back yesterday from a whirlwind of a weekend in San Diego to celebrate the wedding of two of our good friends. The wedding itself was absolutely amazing — the scenery was incredible and it was such a fun group of people, I don’t think it could have turned out any better!

The whole weekend though, from start to finish, was great as well. Here we go!

Very early Friday morning, I left for the West Coast. Will had already gone out a few days before, so it was just me getting out the door that morning. I may or may not have come super close to missing my flight. Oops!

Since I had to leave my house at 4 am, breakfast was brought on the plane with me. I had a little bit left in this local greek yogurt, so I packed that up with some peanut butter and some granola/dates in my little ReebokOne GoStak, and I was good to go! It was a nice breakfast on a plane instead of the usual airport fare of a bagel or pastry.


Once I landed in San Diego, I was surprised to be picked up at the airport in this by Will and our friends Zack and Emily… talk about arriving in style!


Our first stop in San Diego was for what else… Tacos! We ended up going to a place called City Tacos in North Park, and it was delicious! I got the Chorizo and Mahi tacos, and wished that I could eat a thousand of them — that chorizo one was to die for.


Friday night we went to the rehearsal dinner at the bride’s parents’ house, and then I crashed pretty early as I had been up since 3:45 that morning! Saturday morning, with Will on Groomsmen duties all day, I had a few hours to kill until the festivities began.

The evening before, on a walk to the store from the hotel, I found this great set of stairs leading from the sidewalk up a hill to a restaurant. Being that I have a crazy love of stair workouts, I knew this would be where my workout would be the next day, instead of the stuffy hotel fitness center.

So out I went to the stairs, and it was perfect! Pretty hot for what I’m used to right now, but I got in some sweaty stair work along with what felt like a thousand push-ups. The view from the top of the stairs was pretty amazing too — I don’t quite get a view like that when I run stairs in the park at home!




Following the workout, I decided to go take a dip in the pool to cool off (rough life, right?). I then stayed out in the sun to do some program writing while catching some rays on this pale New England skin.


Saturday night was the wedding and as I said before, it was perfect! Taking place again at the bride’s parent’s house, with a view of the surrounding mountains, it could not have been more picturesque. The entire night was a blast, but I’ve only got a couple of pictures for ya!



Sunday was spent at a brunch with the bride and groom, and then cruising around San Diego for a while as our flight wasn’t until later that night. Since Will had already spent a few days there, he knew right where to take me!

Of course, coffee was the first stop.


…followed by lunch at this awesome place called Cafe Gratitude. I loved this place so much. The menu starts with “I AM…”, and each menu item is listed as Happy, Grateful, Incredible, etc. When you order, you say to the waiter “I am ____” and your menu choice. Then, the best part is that when they bring your food to you, your waiter says “You are____”. For instance, when Will got his smoothie delivered, the waiter said “You are incredible”. How awesome is that?

The food is all vegetarian, vegan and a lot of it is raw. And trust me, you leave there feeling on top of the world. Everything tastes so fresh! I tried “Happy”, a raw falafel wrap, and it was so incredibly flavorful. I’m not sure how they made raw falafel so crunchy, but it definitely wasn’t lacking anything by being raw. I can’t remember the name of Will’s dish, but it was also delicious and fresh!




We followed up lunch by walking around downtown for the rest of the afternoon, just browsing through shops, exploring, and quite honestly, waiting until we were hungry again for dinner.

That evening, we went to Juniper and Ivy for dinner, a restaurant that we had heard about through friends. It did not disappoint! We weren’t starving, so we intended to just get a few small plates (what they specialize in) to share. What we didn’t realize was that their small plates are actually quite generous portions, and we ended up with more food than we planned! Don’t worry though, none of it went to waste as it was insanely delicious.

We started out with deviled eggs, but these were not your run of the mill deviled eggs! The white of these was made from a dehydrated egg white meringue, which literally melted in your mouth. It was such an interesting take on this dish and definitely unlike anything I’ve ever had before!


We then had a buttermilk biscuit that came with foie gras butter. I don’t even have any words to describe this — it was that good.


We finished up the meal with sugar snap peas, a delicious brussels sprouts dish, and lamb bolognese. I didn’t get pictures of any of this because I was too busy raving over how good everything was. Trust me, if you visit or live in the San Diego area, make a point to get here for dinner at some point! (And don’t forget that heavenly biscuit)

All in all, it was a wonderful weekend that went by way too fast!

Sunday night, we flew back here on a Red Eye flight — needless to say, work yesterday was interesting. Was it worth it though? Heck yes.


Readers: What’s the best meal you’ve had when traveling? Have you been to San Diego? How do you tend to workout when traveling — do you find places outside or stick to the hotel gym?

Wellness: One Easy Question That Will Turn Your Day Around

Working with athletes is an incredible thing. The determination and motivation that I see on a daily basis is enough to keep anyone inspired, and it’s all just in a day’s work. Most of the athletes that I work with don’t even know that they’re inspiring though. To them, they are just doing what they do — playing the sport they love, one that they’ve been playing for their whole lives. To them, each day is sometimes just another day.

One athlete in particular that I work with has impacted me beyond just the daily ups and downs of college athletics. This particular individual often comes to see me at the most exhausting points of my day, at times when I feel like I can’t even think for one more second. But no matter what my mood or the circumstances, she always manages to get me with one simple question:

“Steph, what was the best part of your day?”

And in that moment, I stop and I think about my day. Truly reflect on the good things that have happened in the last several hours for just a moment. Sometimes, the best part of my day is something as benign as a cookie I picked up from a local bakery. Sometimes it’s something more, such as a great conversation with someone or a random act of kindness. Whatever it is, I find that that moment spent searching for the best part of my day can turn my mood around instantly.

I go from just going through the motions, to really reflecting on the last several hours and all the good things that may have happened, something that I might not do otherwise.

happy dog

This guy knows what’s up, and he’s embracing the good in his day! 

Sometimes, she also asks the flip side of the question: “What was the worst part of your day?” and this gets me thinking too. Usually, I realize that I can’t pin point any “bad” things that have happened to me, or I realize that the worst part of my day has been something silly like a longer commute time, a shortened workout, or forgetting my lunch. All things that can seem “bad” in the moment, but in the grand scheme of things, tell me that I pretty  much lead a wonderful life. If the worst part of any given day is that I forget my lunch, then there’s really not that much to complain about, is there?

And on the rare occasion that there is something truly bad that has affected my day, it still helps to have this reflection. Because if I can stop focusing on the negative and realize all of the positivity in my day, all of a sudden that “bad” thing is just a little bit better. And sometimes, just that little bit of positivity is all you need to move on.

Both sides of this question can help to turn around my day. In fact, I’ve told this athlete this — there have been times that she has come to see me in my grumpiest moments when I don’t want to talk to anyone, and with these one or two questions, my mood can turn around instantly. All it takes is a little reflection for me to realize that my bad mood is unfounded, and it’s up to me and my pretty-awesome-day to turn it around.

In fact, I find it pretty amazing that I’m usually choosing between several things to tell her the best part of my day, and there have been several times when I couldn’t come up with any type of answer for the worst part of my day. Not even one. Not even the most benign “bad” thing ever. How great is that? Even if the “best” parts are silly and possibly meaningless, the fact that they strongly (and almost always) outweigh the worst parts of my day is a wonderful thing.

But honestly, sometimes I can’t see through my own moods to realize how great everything around me is. No, every day of my life isn’t sunshine and roses, but to stop and think about the bits of sunshine that we get along the way — and realizing that those bits of sunshine are far more significant than the negative is an important thing.

Next time you’re in a mood, think about these two questions. Maybe something bad did put you in a reasonably bad mood, but possibly by thinking about the best part of your day, you can improve upon that even just a little bit.

I can tell you right now that for yesterday, the best part of my day was visiting with my mom, who I haven’t seen in a while. And the worst part? Probably waiting an hour for brunch, which turned out to be one of the best brunches I’ve ever had. So hey — I’d say that pretty much cancels out that bad part, huh?

And with that, I ask you: What’s the best part of your day? And honestly, what’s the worst part of your day?