The New Fitness


I’ve been rather introspective lately, which I figure is a natural side effect of doing a lot of self-work and spirituality seeking. My “Emily’s Deep Thoughts” posts seem to slowly be outnumbering the ones that contain what I ate for lunch and my latest run stats. At first this bothered me a lot, and I just didn’t want to post anything. I wanted to keep my “la la la, off to the gym, hey look, frittata for dinner!” content rolling but my personal life wasn’t in alignment with what I wanted my blog life to be. Sick of fighting with myself, I stuck to Instagram mini-blogging where it seemed easier to throw some stuff out there but not be too committed to a thought.

But I still felt bothered. I didn’t want to abandon my blog, but I didn’t know how to work it into what I felt like writing about. My whole paradigm of health and healthy living had been shifting, and I didn’t know how to address it. Part of it was because I keep looking to the outside for guidance – what are the other health/fitness bloggers doing? Oh man, I don’t have abs yet, so I can’t do it that way. Does … does she ever wear pants? Or even own pants? Wow, that’s a lot of green juice. And so. Many. Gym. Selfies. Wait, that was my account. But gym selfies of actually working out, not just in the mirror. Workout selfies? How do you even do that?!?

What I was trying to do just wasn’t working for me. I wanted to jump on the train of filming myself working out, coming up with inspiring recipes, and taking lots of mirror selfies of my non-existent muscle definition, which isn’t what I do. It really isn’t ever what I did.

What do I do? I listen to my body and try to give it what it needs. I work to heal my emotional wounds of the past and break myself free of the numbing, survival-based behaviors that no longer serve me. I remind myself constantly that I am love, and I give love, and try to be kind and respectful to all I encounter. And I eat well, go to the gym, take long beach rambles, and do what I can when I can. I am never perfect, and I no longer want to punish myself for doing anything but the best I can at the time. And I feel really, really happy.

To me, this is healthy. This is fitness. Take what you like, leave the rest, and always work in your own values and authenticity. And it’s not sexy. It’s not marketable, and it doesn’t engage people to click. But aren’t our newsfeeds filled up enough with pretty, empty images designed to make us feel not enough so we’ll buy whatever they’re selling?

I’m ready to rock a new road. A road that leads to a healthy, fulfilled life that’s full to the brim with love and experience. A road that says I am already enough, and all of this is just to celebrate all the things I can still do, for the fun and curiosity of it. I remember working out with the Girls Gone WOD group in Costa Rica, and realizing during the EmPack workout how much I love movement. We were sprinting up a hill with weighted duffel bags, something that would normally have me groaning and faking an injury to get out of it. But in that moment the experience was something else entirely. It wasn’t there to train therefore required to achieve and get better, it wasn’t because I ate a donut yesterday and I needed to do penance for my dietary sins, it was moving because it feels good and is good for me. Oh, and it was so, so much fun! One of the best times I’ve had in my life. I want more of that in my life.

Let’s make this the new fitness normal. No more restrictive diets and pills and powders that promise a sculpted body and almost certainly deliver an empty heart. Let’s do more of what makes us feel good, instead of look good. We are whole creatures that deserve wellness at all levels, not just our earth suits. Let’s be mindful of our fitness journey on the inside as well as the out.

Go make it a great day


Don’t Consume – Create!

dont consume create
p/c Pinterest

The other morning I sat on my bed and scrolled through Instagram for an hour. Yes, an hour. An hour I didn’t really have to spare, of course. I know it was a whole hour because at one point I looked at the clock and it was 5:30 am and when I looked up again it was 6:30 am. And aren’t I the one always complaining how I never have enough time? And when I checked in with myself and how I felt, I found that while I intended to be inspired and energized by taking a peek at what my friends and social media girl crushes are up to, I found myself feeling behind the game and flat. This was not the way I had intended on tackling my day.

With everything happening with my life lately, I’ve tried to be hyper-conscious of my attempts to numb or hide from things, so I don’t start down that slow slide to depression and isolation I know I have a tendency to head towards. I cut back on alcohol, I try to stay checked in with family and friends, and I try to read instead of watch TV. But I am catching myself more and more picking up my phone and gravitating to my social media apps when I feel uncomfortable, anxious, or bored. And I end up feeling sort of icky with all of the media consumption this results in. Politics, scandals, and social unrest leave me feeling helpless and confused, and I’m forever in a state of processing what I just absorbed. Don’t I have enough going on mentally and emotionally to be voluntarily jumping in the game of “What Facebook Memes Will Piss Me Off Today?” roulette? There’s being informed, and then there’s bingeing on Buzzfeed articles from amusing Pinterest posts. Time to find where that line is.

So for this month, I decided to set my absorption of social media aside, and instead focus more on creating content instead of consuming it. I internally lament all the time that I never have time to blog and write. Well, with hours spent mindlessly scrolling Facebook every day, imagine how much I could get out there if I used that time to put out my own content instead? This is the season of giving, right? So for me, I’m going to use it to give my voice instead of lurking in the background of online connection. Don’t consume – create!

Go make it a great day!

Get Back Up Again: Tips for Picking Up Where You Left Off

Can there be anything more exasperating than trying to pick up an activity or habit again that fell to the wayside? Okay, maybe my two-year-old is more exasperating, but really, why is it so difficult to climb back on the wagon? And I don’t mean with just diet and exercise. With everything. For example, I ran out of dental floss for, like, two days, and when I bought more it took maybe two months to get back into the habit of flossing. Or I haven’t consistently blogged in forever, and it took me about four consecutive days of opening a blank page and just staring at it before the words started appearing on the page. And I’m pretty sure this’ll be the only post I write for the next couple weeks, despite my best intentions and promises that I’m going to find a consistent rhythm of writing and not let it drop like dinner on a plate when handed to a two-year-old (ah, we’re back to the exasperating again). And don’t get me started on the piano I bought two years ago, because I played a lot of piano in my youth and had the delusional thought that I would totally have the time and energy to pick it back up.

Getting started again always feels more daunting than trying something new. With a new thing, it’s so thrilling! You don’t know what you don’t know yet (ahh, blissful ignorance!) so you just do stuff and see what happens. There’s no bar set, no standard to uphold. You just do you.

Then you do it for a while, and maybe you tire of it, or Life Stuff happens and priorities shift. Other things in your life start to take up that space that once was. It fades.

Then one day you think, “Hmm, I should start playing the piano again!” And you commit to doing the thing, taking the classes, doing the chore. Maybe once or twice. But damn, it’s hard to remember that I’m supposed to do the thing now! Or maybe you remember how awesome it used to feel, because of skill level or life circumstances, and now it doesn’t feel the same way. Now it’s difficult, and kind of depressing. What used to be fun is not fun.

The one constant in life is that things change. Sometimes the pieces that once fit perfectly don’t quite fit together anymore. And that’s okay. I can get pretty frustrated with myself when I can’t pick up where I left off again. So here’s a few tips I’ve gleaned from that sage wisdom giver, Google, for when you find out that your sophomore round is a lot more daunting than your eager, green freshman run:

1. Be honest with yourself: is this really something you want to do?

At one point after my son was born, I thought I would get back into bike racing. I still had all the gear, so why now? Well, because now I have a small human at home, I don’t exactly have the time that I used to for 4+ hour training rides. Nor do I have the same level of fitness I once had. And once I really started thinking about it, did I even want to ride a bike? Like, is it an activity that made me excited and happy? Because I’m now in the Life Spot where any time away from my kids needs to be some form of productive or beneficial time to me, otherwise I feel like I’m wasting my time when I could be with my family. And I had to be honest with myself: no, I do not want to ride a bike.

If my heart wasn’t in it, no amount of scheduling, coaching, or bullying myself into training would have worked. I would just be even more cranky and bitter than my postpartum, sleep-deprived self already was. Life is too short to spend time on stuff that doesn’t contribute to happiness and well-being. So I prefer to focus on the stuff I do enjoy. I signed up for a boot camp class instead, and I loved it.

2. Get some new tools

Trying that eating/meal prep plan again, but it’s tough sticking with it for some reason? Sometimes you need to try something new or bring in another resource to push past the plateau. Say you’re eating plan leaves you lackluster and roaming the goodies aisle at the grocery store? Try out some new recipes, or join an only accountability group to offer a new perspective. Finding it hard to stick to a new at-home workout program? Splurge on some new music, or set a new ring tone on your phone for when you want to work out (extra bonus points if it’s “Everything is Awesome” from The Lego Movie) to zap your mind in the “oh, we are doing this now!” mentality.

To get back into blogging, I’ve dusted off my old Feedly account to look for other inspiring bloggers, and am getting more involved with other blogging networking groups. It’s the little boost and camaraderie I think I need to get the flywheel turning again.

3. Accept that you are a different person today than you were yesterday

We all change and grow, and sometimes what worked before just doesn’t work anymore. I used to have no issue waking up at 5:00 to bike to work in the morning. But after 5+ years of sleep deprivation (because small humans), there is no way my body is waking up before 6:30 on a consistent basis. I can do it a couple mornings in a row, but by Day 3 my body completely shuts down. So I’ve had to accept that getting up early in the morning to do anything as a routine is just a no-go for me. I’ll have to find another way to squeeze in that workout/get some writing done/tackle that work project. There is nothing wrong with recognizing your limitations for where you are at today, and rolling along with Plan B.

Above all, just know yourself, and trust that where you are at and where you’re going is exactly where you’re supposed to be.

Any thoughts or tips from the trenches on starting over?

That’s it for now. Go make it a great day! xoxo

The North Bay Fire Relief

Hi everyone!

You may have heard on the news by now, but there are severe wildfires decimating the San Francisco North Bay area right now. While I am safely south of the danger, I have many family and friends that have been affected. I used to live in Santa Rosa, and it’s been heartbreaking to witness the devastation and terror as I hear recounts of friends running for their lives with only the clothes on their backs, and seeing pictures of familiar places utterly destroyed.

Santa Rosa has always felt like home to me. I moved there shortly after college, and it was some of the best years of my life. It’s where I found an amazing fitness community, ran my first marathon, and discovered the joy of an active lifestyle. Even now, when things were getting tough and tight, I think to myself, “If things turn south, I could always move back to Santa Rosa.” The people and community there are the warmest, most welcoming and true folks around. I can’t believe this is happening to my old home.

I know there have been disasters and crises abound lately that have really impacted all of us, but if you still have the capacity, please consider helping my friends and family in Santa Rosa. The Redwood Credit Union has partnered up with The Press Democrat and Senator Mike McGuire to provide relief funding to those affected by the fire. Absolutely 100% of donations will go directly to those in need.

Here is the link to the website with instructions on how you can help:

Thank you so much for your thoughts, prayers, and support. If ever there was a “rise from the ashes” analogy, I’m sure this will be it. The community will rise again.

Go make it a great day, and give your loved ones an extra hug! xoxo



Awesomely Average

For some reason, I’ve been fearful of writing lately. After some refection, I think I understand why. The fear comes from perfectionism. Not that I’ll fail, but that I won’t be perfect. Exceptional. That I’ll end up in the dreaded average. Who wants to be average? I either want to be amazingly inspiring, or so horrendously ill equipped that my cautionary story of How I Attempted Exceptional and Failed Spectacularly is a source of future amusement. Does it really need to be one or the other? I used to say, “epic good, or epic fail!” in jest, but now it’s become more of a life motto than an amusing meme. What is up with my avoidance of Average? So far all it’s doing is preventing me from living life and doing what I enjoy.

There’s nothing wrong with average. It’s comfortably in the middle. It’s unassuming. It’s where the power can lie in wait, recharging for the next surge. Average gets stuff done. It’s still progress. Average sets the standard. As David Letterman said, C’s still get degrees.

Our culture wants to reward the overachievers, the “greatests,” because they’re an inspiring story. And it’s super fun to be the winner on top of their game. Everybody loves a winner, and the prizes are fabled to  be great, even if the prize is “Congratulations! More work!” But the average is also rewarded – with lack of resistance. You just move forward to the next step. If I’m an average parent, my kids still grow up right. If I’m an average employee, I am likely to keep my job. If I’m an average powerlifter, I can still move and lift heavy-ish things. Average can still keep me moving forward without all of the effort and stress Exceptional requires.

Of course I don’t want to get stuck in a rut. But average isn’t a rut if it’s just a place I’m hanging out in for a while as I catch my breath and my bearings. Nor is it complacent; eventually I’ll get bored of Average and want a challenge. And then Exceptional will take the stage, and we do the dance again.

Average. Moving things progressively forward since the first caveman looked at his cave painting and said, “Meh, good enough.”

I Spun, and Other Confessions

So the other day, I did something very strange. For me.

I went spinning. I spun. I’m not sure what the past tense of “Spinning” is as it relates to stationary bicycle classes. But yeah, I did that. It was totally last-minute. I was feeling beat up from lifting, and I wanted some yoga to help stretch out my hips. I had a couple of appointments that made finding the perfect yoga class a bit difficult, but one local studio offers a “Cycle in/Yoga out” class of 40 minutes of spinning followed by 30 minutes of yoga. Apparently I was that desperate for yoga, so I clicked the “Book” link on my MindBody app.

You guys, I have not ridden a bicycle for more than a mile in over five years. That was HARD. And I was sweaty. And I had a meeting after class, so I was sweaty and stinky all night. But it was pretty cool. I’m not a super-spinning fan, but the instructor was great and the music was phenomenal. They also did the thing where the lights were all turned off and little electric candles in all sorts of colors of red, blue, green, and yellow were peppered in between the bikes. It was like spinning on a space station with OK GO! blasting.

In other news, this happened yesterday.

Yes, that would be a donut. Which I only ate like three bites of because I found the flavor was candied ginger, and after the second hunk of ginger I decided I was done and I miss The Jelly Donut in Grants Pass.

Which brings me to Confession Time: I gave up on my Whole30 a few days ago, and I feel pretty conflicted about it. On the one hand, I’m totally good with my choices. I feel neither bad nor good about my decision to go off-plan with a beer enjoyed with an old friend. I’ve stuck mostly Whole30 ever since, except for some nachos (worth it) and Monday night’s dinner of a few handfuls of popcorn and some stolen M&Ms (totally not worth it). I’m making deliberate decisions, owning the results, and I still feel pretty darn good.

But I feel this guilt – or really is it shame? – about bailing the program when I had been posting publicly about it. The new Whole30 Coaching program is due to come out later this year, and I so want to be selected. I would love to help others find the freedom from food guilt that I’ve come to discover with this program, to embrace the curious process of finding that sweet spot between enjoying life and feeling good at the same time. But who do I think I am, when I can’t even finish the program? Never mind that I’ve successfully completed 4 full Whole30s in 3 years. It’s the ones I didn’t finish that make me feel unworthy.

The Shame Monster is real. Comparison is still a trap. I look at people in my feed and think, “I can do that! I can totally do a better job promoting my enjoyment and passion for wellness.” And then popcorn and M&Ms for dinner. Because life. Because sometimes after early wake-up call to work, long commute, small human care squeezed between housework and gym time, and the Bedtime Parade of Futility to get two sleep-hyper children to stay in  their beds, it’s good enough for now, and I’ll just have a healthy breakfast tomorrow that doesn’t consist solely of a gallon of black coffee and deep breathing.

I’ve had well-intentioned people in my life tell me that my desire to promote wellness publicly is misplaced because they see the extra pounds on my short frame, the missed workouts, and the extra side of fries and sneaky handfuls from the M&Ms bag and that all makes me unqualified to speak to health. That I will not be taken seriously. Because you know, REAL heath and fitness personalities don’t eat McDonald’s or miss workouts. By god, the stain on their credibility, just imagine! But what these people don’t see is the internal journey, from self-loathing to self-love, where I make choices now because they feel good to me on a “soul-ullar” level, not because others say this is what I should be doing, not because I’m bullying myself into choices to punish myself for whatever my dark, twisted brain has decided I should be tried and sentenced for, which is usually existing in too much space. I’m not here to preach how one can achieve a size 0 or “lose that bra fat”. Because 1) I haven’t figured that out either and 2) that totally doesn’t interest me. I am here because I want to share what I’ve learned about taking care of myself, which I’m finally learning how to do at the ripe old age of 34. It’s only taken me two decades to figure out that I am worthy of caring for myself physically, emotionally, spiritually. Because if someone reading this is stuck where I’ve been stuck, or needs a fresh perspective or inspiration to try something new, I hope my stories might spark an idea.

I’m done with perfection. I’m done with feeling like my extra “padding” makes me unqualified to learn and talk about what I’m interested in. I will start Whole30s. Sometimes I finish them, and sometimes I won’t. I will go to the gym and work out hard with joy and gratitude that I have the privilege to move my body, and sometimes I’ll make a million excuses to skip my training plan so I can go sit on the couch and eat popcorn and M&Ms with my kids watching “Minions” for the eleventeenth time. The only qualification I need to enjoy and share my health journey experiences is to presently be continuing on my health journey.

You do you, kids. Go make it a great day!

Fur Buddies – Why Working Out with Dogs is the Best

One of my favorite things to do on a weekend morning is go for a hike with the one creature in my household that may rival me for my love of the outdoors.

I’ll admit, a big reason why I’m a dog fan is they keep me active. Olive can get rather, um, destructive with one’s personal property if she’s not regularly exercised.


Clearly I didn’t need that.

It is another commitment to my already-packed schedule, but Olive is pretty good about giving me hints that she’s ready for a walk. And by hints, I mean she doesn’t leave me alone until the leash is in hand and we’re walking out the door. Now I know where the idiom “being hounded” originated. But going for walks and hikes is something I enjoy doing on the regular, and I probably wouldn’t get out as much if it wasn’t for Olive’s insistence. It’s good for her, and it’s good for me! Plus, nothing beats a pooped pooch after a long, rambling hike through the hills.


For more info on the benefits of exercising with your best four-legged buddy, here’s a cool infographic from the canine lovers at PuppySpot (and can we just take a moment to appreciate that dog yoga is a thing? I may have unintentionally practiced this! What a great time to be alive):


While Olive is a rescue dog and your local animal shelter has many animals that would make great pets, I recognize that not everyone is up to the task of adopting and caring for a rescue, and may have different needs when selecting a new pet. PuppySpot is a great alternative to bringing a new fur-member to your family. PuppySpot is a service committed to helping responsible breeders place their puppies with caring individuals and families. They are a community of dog lovers whose mission is to make lives better by placing healthy puppies into happy homes.

And even if you’re not in the market for a new puppy, it is a worthwhile effort to check out their website just for the cute puppy pictures. Cute puppy pictures are scientifically proven to brighten your day. Okay, maybe not really, but that’s the kind of science I would totally sign up to be a test subject. You now, for posterity.

If you have a dog, what kinds of activities does your dog enjoy? And if you have a cat, do they even do anything? (<–Okay that last question was so my sister can be annoyed that this post was only about dogs.)

Go make it a great day!


On Owning Life Decisions

If you’ve been following me on Instagram (and you totally should, because sometimes I post unicorns) you know that last week I started a Whole30. I had been W30’ing and posting on it for six days, but now I have a confession to make … I had beer the other night. Not one, but two beers. It was a conscious choice I deliberated prior to and at the event, and I decided to go for it. And in my opinion it was deliciously and soul-fully worth it, despite the heartburn, crummy sleep, and rough morning after. I enjoyed the experience with a new friend, and we had a great time. I felt the situation called for it, so I allowed myself to make whatever choice I felt was appropriate.

Normally if I “quit” a Whole30, that’s it. I dive-bomb back into whatever my diet was before I started. But this time, I picked right back up where I left off the next morning, getting up early to make an egg scramble and pack a tuna salad for lunch. Because to me the process of getting my lifestyle and habits overhauled to embrace healthier food choices for myself matter more than giving into the “What the Hell” effect described in the “Food Freedom Forever” book, as in “what the hell, I’m eating this so I might as well eat all the things and go down in flames of glory,” which is so tempting. But I’m not tempted.


I know, right?

Now, I’m not too proud of going off-plan. Let me just make that clear. But what I am proud of is that it was a conscious choice, I don’t feel bad about myself, and my only regret is that I chose to make this Whole30 so public on my Instagram, only to “lol just kidding” six days in. Kind of awkward. But I am picking up where I left off, and I’m back on plan. This is a huge leap of difference between old Emily and new Emily. Old Emily would throw in the towel, fully succumb to the “What the Hell” effect (as in, what the hell, I might as well also have pizza and top it off with some Safeway sheet cake … and go for my usual Starbucks breakfast sandwich and coffee with creamer tomorrow morning for breakfast because whoops I’m done oh well) and it would be several weeks before I finally emerged from my nutritional off-roading glory to crawl back to the program, confess to my dietary sins, and try again. Oh, and feel terrible and beat myself up for “why can’t you just be healthy!?!? What is wrong with you?”

So, new Emily has come to realize that this is a journey, and what’s a road trip without a few pit stops along the way? Sometimes the detour to see Carhenge is appropriate (I mean, it’s a Stonehenge replica made entirely out of cars can you not even) even if it sets you back a bit both time and budget-wise. Or maybe not. But you need to own the decision. If I had planned ahead of time to have seltzer with lime, got to the bar, and threw it all out for a beer, that would be different. That was not a conscious, deliberate decision. That is old Emily behavior. New Emily considered the options ahead of time, and decided to evaluate in the moment. And then in the moment, evaluated the options again and concluded that this would be okay. It is not sticking to the Whole30, I am not following the program in that moment, but for me personally it is okay.  And you know what? I’m still a good person at the end of the day. Well, okay, some folks might beg to differ, but my dietary choices have no affect on my morality and self-worth. And that is something that it’s taken me the better part of two decades to figure out.

I have a couple other social opportunities this week where I’ll have to make a decision whether to stick to the Whole30 plan or not, because I’ll be at a party or at a restaurant and temptation to stray will be there. But for these situations, I’ve predetermined that no, going off-plan will not serve me, and I’m making arrangements to stick to the program, such as suggesting to my friends to cook a meal at their apartment instead of going out (I offered to grill steak for them, so I’ll still be popular don’t worry), and looking at the restaurant menu ahead of time to figure out how much I will be able to make work and bringing some snacks to supplement. This is not hard, it just takes a little planning an experience.

The takeaway is sometimes plans and intentions change, but instead of regretting and berating yourself for “not being more disciplined” or “I just have no willpower,” own your choices, take the results with grace and compassion, and go on to enjoy the rest of your life.

Am I perfect? Nope. Will every off-road decision be made with this amount of contemplation and contentment of the results? Most definitely not. I’m sure at some point there will be some regretful break-room-donuts or home-alone-beer-and-nachos decisions that were more automatic than mindful. But it’s about progress, and the best kind of self-care is when you can celebrate the wins.

And homemade chicken curry, because OMG so good.

I hope you are having a fabulous morning. Go make it a great day!


ERTR’s Summer Reading List

With longer days, vacations and travel booked, and the sunny outdoors calling, up here in the Northern Hemisphere there are an increasing amount of opportunities for a good summer read. I cruised through my Goodreads list, and here are a few page-turners I have gone through lately.

“Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline


Geeks, unite! This is an entertaining and nostalgic romp through 80’s pop culture as seen from a gamer in the future. Adventurous, mysterious, and a little teen romance because why the heck not?

“Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life” by Susan David

If you are looking for something a bit more self-helpy, this is a good find as it is both informative and entertaining. According to the book, emotional agility is being able to detach, acknowledge, and move through uncomfortable feelings without having them consume your life. After reading this book, I was very much more at peace with routine negative emotions I encountered (Awkward situations! Disagreements with family an friends!) and better able to work through them rather than ignore them or drown them in cupcakes and mindless Facebook scrolling.

“The Last Runaway” by Tracy Chevalier

This one is a good poolside or beach read. I’m a huge Tracy Chevalier fan; I love the language she uses and how she pieces together a historical story in a personable way that makes me understand and appreciate the character’s environment. This is a sweet, quick read of a young Quaker woman who immigrates to America in the mid 19th century with her sister, who is to be married. After her sister dies during the long voyage, the protagonist relies on the kindness of strangers and her new American Quaker community to make a new home in the new world, while becoming an advocate and support to the Underground Railroad. It’s a story of courage in unexpected circumstances, and how to follow your intuition despite outside pressures.

His Dark Materials trilogy (“The Golden Compass,” “The Subtle Knife,” “The Amber Spyglass”) by Philip Pullman

I would say this series ranks up there with Harry Potter and the Narnia series if you’re looking for YA fantasy. I wish I had the opportunity to read this as a youngster, but I read it the first time a couple years ago and it absolutely haunted me, in a good way. It was one of those stories that I just absolutely curled up into and consumed. You know that feeling with a truly good book that speaks to you. The characters, the language, even the characters’ names and how the author used unfamiliar words as if in another language to convey you were in a world similar yet separate from your own. It’s a story of a prophesies, strange magical creatures, and parallel universes, and a young girl finding her destiny. Block out a good chunk of time for this one, because you won’t want to put it down.

“The Universe Has Your Back: Transform Fear to Faith” by Gabrielle Bernstein

I had no idea who Gabrielle Bernstein was when this book popped up on my Audible suggestions list last fall. Apparently she’s a big deal. But I was going through a tough time, and the title of the book seemed to tell me what I needed to hear. I mentioned back in last year’s New Years Resolution post that I was seeking a new method of spirituality, and this was the book that finally opened the door for me. Full disclosure: this book is a bit high on the “woo-scale” for me. It’s a collection of guiding principles to help you reengage and stay aligned with the power of God/the Universe/the loving and creative energy force/whatever you want to call your higher power and potential. Maybe it isn’t quite what you’re looking for, but if you’re on the lookout for something else to spark up in your personal spiritual realm, this might be helpful. Since then, I’ve read this book and listened to the audiobook maybe 20 times. It’s full of encouraging reminders to keep me centered and on my own personal track. I’ll be honest, some of the stories and examples she gives are a bit first-world-y, but so are most of my problems so there you go. I do think that you can apply the general concepts of choosing love over fear to many situations.

“Food Freedom Forever: Letting Go of Bad Habits, Guilt, and Anxiety Around Food” by Melissa Hartwig

And I have to put a plug in for my girl-crush Melissa. The Whole30 program has helped me so much in my health and wellness journey, and this was the book that finally put the last of the pieces back together – it’s not as much as about the program as it is what you choose to do with it. It’s the answer to the question, “Ok, so I did a Whole30. Now what?” Hartwig walks you through the whole process, from deciding to do a dietary reset to executing the 30 day protocol you choose to how to reintroduce the eliminated foods to how to use your experience to build a custom way of eating that works with you, putting you in the driver’s seat for your own food choices. Spoiler alert: sometimes a cupcake is a perfectly good dietary decision, but only if it’s worth it, and only if you own that choice.

What are you reading poolside?

Go make it a great day!

Bonus Vacation: My Costa Rican Adventure (Part 4)

So I left you with a bit of a cliffhanger in Part 3 of my Costa Rican trip. Ha ha, I’ve always wanted to write a cliffhanger! Anyway, I missed my connecting flight from Panama City to San Francisco due to some other flight delays, so I landed in Panama City not really sure what would happen. Fortunately, I wasn’t the only one traveling on to SFO. My fellow passengers and I were met at the gate by an airline gate attendant who took us over to the information desk to sort things out and get us rebooked. I tried my best to be calm and remain positive.

Freaking out on the inside

I patiently waited, and a few moments later the gate agent came back to me. “Here is your boarding pass, we have you rebooked for a flight leaving at 9:00 am tomorrow morning. Here is your hotel and meal vouchers. The hotel shuttle is waiting outside of baggage claim. Wait one moment, and I will escort you through customs and immigration to the shuttle.” I could not believe my luck. I was certain that I would be spending the night in the airport, and now I have a free night in a hotel!

I got through customs and immigration and onto the shuttle, and in no time I was standing in a really nice hotel room with a big, fluffy hotel bed and AIR CONDITIONING.


I had a really nice hotel buffet dinner (MORE PLANTAINS YAY!), a long shower, and settled into my fluffy hotel bed with a book and a cup of chamomile tea, feeling super grateful that my awesome vacation continued on for another day!

In the morning I hit up the hotel gym. The hotel gym was gorgeous, and I used my newfound joy of movement to play around with some dumbbells and get some arm work done.

  • Couch-to-5k run on the treadmill
  • 10 x 3 @ 20 lb Shoulder press
  • 10 x 3 @ 25 lb Rows
  • 10 x 3 @ 25 lb dumbbell bench press


I cleaned up, had a lovely breakfast buffet at the hotel (YAY MORE PLANTAINS!), and hopped on the shuttle to head to my flight. I also got a sneak peek at downtown Panama City from the hotel window.


Maybe next time I’ll have a few hours to explore!

I made it on my flight, watched more in-flight movies and read my books for a few hours, and landed on US soil. Made it!


And now to begin the process of coming down from that post-vacation high back to the real world! And figure out how to make plantains, because those just need to be in my life.

That’s all for now, go make it a great day! Pura vida!