Teacher Gifts That Don't Suck

While you may be tempted to Pinterest some cute, crafty idea for your child's teachers - let me caution you to think again. 

It's not that we don't love the thoughtful creativity a letter made out of crayons requires...it's just not the same as a gift card or cute item we might love but never buy ourselves. 

I honestly do appreciate every gift I've ever gotten over my 11 years of teaching. But, to be honest, the things I've loved most are the gift cards and fun items I wouldn't normally purchase myself (like a monogrammed market basket that I used for everything).  

I know what you are thinking...

Gift cards are impersonal and you want something original and thoughtful. I understand where you are coming from...but hear me out. Have you ever gotten a gift card you didn't appreciate and use?

Yeah...me either. In fact, gift cards give me permission to spend some money on myself, on things I actually want. 

Still not sold? No worries, I've come up with a ton of ideas to show that teacher in your life some love...and only a few are gift cards. 

Full Disclosure - this list is mostly geared towards female teachers. If you have a fantastic male teacher in your life consider: apparel from their favorite team or a neutral gift card.

Okay...need some unique ideas that you don't have to make and that will likely be uber appreciated? Here's a ton! Scroll through the pics below!

Teacher gifts don't have to take lots of time (or money) to be super appreciated. Personal and thoughtful is getting your teacher friends things they would actually love! So, don't be afraid to gift card it up. Or, opt for one of the other gifts mentioned above! 

Teachers out there...what's a gift you would really love this Christmas? Leave your comments below!

Overcoming Unhealthy Eating Habits for Good

If I am being honest, I am terrible at eating well. I know, I know...I am a trainer - that should be easy for me. But it's not. I love the gym and working out. I find no struggle in pushing through a long workout. But, I hate to cook, am not great at planning and love all kinds of sugary, fatty goodness. Which is why I called in a friend for this one. I have learned how to eat in a healthy way, and the difference it makes in how I both look and feel. But it is a STRUGGLE to stay consistent, especially when school life gets crazy. 

Enter Jackie from the Whole 9 Family.

Jackie and I go all the way back to high school youth group back in NYC. Now, we are both married with kids and juggling pretty hectic lives. Over the last couple of years, she has found joy in a whole foods based lifestyle. She juggles homeschooling 3 girls, with living a truly healthy life. As a former teacher, she knows how insane weekdays can and shares her story of finding peace with food. 


I worked full time as an elementary school teacher when my oldest daughter was little.  It was really hard trying to survive the new mom gig I had at home while also being a “mommy figure” to close to 30 littles at one time.  Just thinking about the stress and anxiety of those days makes me shudder!  Who really had time to even think about eating healthy when I was in teacher survival mode?!  Unhealthy eating habits tend to creep their way into the lives of a busy teacher causing a vicious cycle that is very hard to break. 

Do you ever find yourself packing a lunch and then not eating it?  Maybe you’ve been peer pressured into getting in on that chinese food or pizza delivery with your colleagues....Maybe you would rather just get some fresh air and grab a VERY strong coffee and a muffin from starbucks instead.  You’ll save your lunch for tomorrow. ;-)  Besides, pizza is so much more comforting than that salad you brought to eat anyway.  You have a lot that has to be accomplished before that bell rings.  You want to actually leave your work in school this time and not spend your nights grading papers.  Go ahead and eat that comfort food!  It will make you feel all warm and cozy inside so you will have enough energy to tackle the world with your students! Right?! 


How about eat that comfort food and then feel gross, guilty and unhealthily tired.  When will that bell ring so you can go home and take a nap?!  (If you don't have kids.  Let's be real here.)  Trying to eat healthy more often than not ends up being a vicious cycle...  

You bring a salad to work because you know it's good for you but you're so incredibly exhausted to the core that you just don't want to eat something that doesn't make your tastebuds sing!  The salad can wait.  Pass the veggie fried rice please!  It has veggies in it so it counts right?!   Can you hear the sarcasm in my voice?  This was basically my life in a nutshell as a teacher.  I constantly justified and gave into my cravings and my serious coffee binging was what kept me afloat until my head hit the pillow at night.  

Nowadays, I'm a full time homeschooler to my three kiddos.  My life is still crazy but my relationship with food is drastically different.  I'm not fighting the urge to eat comfort foods as often.  In fact, I would say that 90% of the time, I would rather choose my favorite kale salad over that slice of pizza. 

What's changed? 

I completed three separate Whole30s over the course of the last few years.  Have you heard of the Whole30?  It's basically a dietary reset that restricts food groups that most commonly cause health issues for 30 days.  (No wheat, dairy, soy, sugar or legumes.)  It then reintroduces them one by one so that each person can figure out exactly what they need to eat to feel their best.   Is it super hard?  Yes!  Is it worth it in the end?  Absolutely!  

What I learned through my Whole30 journeys were invaluable in order to overcome my unhealthy eating habits.  Because of the program, I now read labels out of habit, choose healthy snacks over ones that would cause me to crash afterwards, have less overall body fat without feeling starving and have a lot more natural energy than ever before.  

I'm not in any way saying that I'm perfect.  I still binge on sugar from time to time and have my fair share of comfort foods that are worth it to me but I know exactly what to do to get back on track afterwards. If I could go back in time, maybe I would actually have had a desire to eat the healthy lunches I packed during my teacher days. ;-)

Food is the fuel that affects your feelings, your energy levels, and your ability to think clearly...all things you desperately need as a teacher.  Teaching is draining physically, mentally and emotionally.  There's no doubt about it.   Is the Whole30 drastic? It sure is!  Sometimes people need to be a little drastic for 30 days in order to see big changes and kick their healthy eating habits to the curb! 

Have you tried Whole30? 

I'd love to hear about your experiences with unhealthy eating habits in the comments! 

The Whole 30, as Jackie said, is a pretty drastic approach to finding your healthy eating groove. To read more about it, check out Jackie's blog the Whole 9 Family or grab a copy of the book that started it all. If you are looking for healthy living tips in the midst of a crazy life, check out Jackie's Instagram account, where she shares lots of tips and tricks to making a whole foods based lifestyle work for you!

Does the Whole 30 feel a little too intimidating right now? That's okay! I've got something fun coming up in a couple of weeks to help you ease into a healthier lifestyle. Sign up here to stay in the loop AND grab some great free workouts!

**This post contains affiliate links. Read my full disclosure here!

Legit Online Fitness Programs and Personal Trainers

Fitness Programs that Worl

The teacher life leaves little room for anything other than planning, prepping and sleeping. If you've got a family and some sort of social life, then you are juggling way more than could possibly fit in 24 hours a day.

But, you know you aren't the healthiest you could be. You are feeling tired, and want to lose some weight. Maybe you know where to start, or maybe you are completely lost. You don't want to live on the proverbial diet roller coaster, yo-yoing up and down. You also don't want to eat cardboard for every meal. You want to get in shape, feel stronger and have more energy, without spending hours in the gym or giving up the foods you love. Oh, and you have NO time to figure out which is the best route to take, diet to try or workout plan to follow!

No worries friends! I am here to help a sista' out!

First, thing you need to know is that there is more than one way to go about getting healthy, fit and strong. Even though you are #teacherbusy and #teachertired, you can totally get lean and energized by focusing on the basics.

Not sure what the basics are? Keep reading. THEN...stay tuned to the end for specific program recommendations!

Solid Nutrition

What you eat is 80% of the battle. There are a couple of things to keep in mind when it comes to food, weight loss and lasting results.

  • Drastic is NOT The best. You want to make small changes over time.
  • Feeling deprived will lead to binging. Choose a strategy that allows you to eat foods you love. 
  • There is no single diet that is best for everyone. Don't pay attention to what everyone else is doing, find what works for you. 
  • You have to focus on quantity - calories in/calories out- and quality whole foods vs. processed junk. You can "eat clean" and still gain weight if you are eating too much of the good stuff. You can lose weight while eating a bunch of processed crap, but will undoubtedly feel depleted, bloated and miserable. 

There are literally a million different ways to address your nutrition, so don't feel like you have to go extreme here. Small steps of change, consistently over time are the way to go. While that might not be as sexy as a wrapping your fat away, it's what actually works!

Effective Workouts

Stop slaving away on the treadmill - unless you are a runner - then by all means, run woman. For those of us who loathe running and cardio, there is hope! Cardio does have benefits for overall health and can help you shed some unwanted weight. But, it isn't as effective long term as  strength training.  If you want to get fit, lean and toned, then hitting the weights is your best bet. The amazing thing about this is that you can workout far less than when you rely on cardio alone. An effective weight training workout can be done in 30-45 minutes, at home or at the gym.  Don't believe me? Check out this blog I wrote a while back, explaining the incredible benefits of strength training for women! 

HIIT training is also an incredibly effective way to burn fat and build muscle, especially when done in conjunction with strength training. To read more about the benefits of HIIT,

Stress, Sleep and Gut Health

We all know that eating well and exercising are critical to getting in shape. But, few of us focus on these areas of our lives when trying to shed fat. Stress-relief, sleep and gut health are uber important to burning fat, getting lean and feeling energized. These three things can be areas many teachers avoid or neglect, because let's be honest...we've got too much to do to sleep well, our jobs are pretty stressful, and what the heck is gut health?!?!? No worries, friend, check out these posts for more info on stress , gut health and

So...all this sounds great, but ain't nobody got time for coming up with some big ole' master plan to burn fat and get in shape.

As a fitness writer, I am fortunate enough to work with some incredible women. These ladies have created programs that will not only help you burn fat and feel great, but will teach you how to live that way for a lifetime!

So, here are my top program recommendations for busy teachers/women! Everyone I list here is an actual professional in the health and wellness field, with programs that use sound principles that work.

Word of caution...all of these program recommendations will require work and lifestyle change. However, they all come with significant support and are based on truly solid principles. These programs and their creators are 100% legit, and were chosen because they are effective, sustainable and suitable to different types of preferences and lifestyles.

The FASTer Way to Fat Loss

If you are looking for a one stop, all inclusive program, this is the one I recommend.


  • This is truly an easily sustainable lifestyle.
  • The results speak for themselves, thousands of women have seen results.
  • Intermittent fasting means more time in your day. 
  • Carb Cycling means you can eat what you love while still seeing results.
  • This program is super flexible and includes everything you need. 
  • Workouts can be done at home or at the gym. There is even a beginner version of the workout. 


  • It is a little more involved. I tell people to give it two weeks and then they will never want to go back. The changes can be made gradually -there is a prep week to help you ease in - but this is more of a dive into a healthy lifestyle.
  • If you have never tracked your food, this program might feel intimidating. But, if you are willing to stick with it, it gets so. much. easier.
  • If you are a vegetarian, this will be rough. It is possible - one of my close friends did it - but it is much harder than if you eat meat!

Honestly, this program was a game changer for me, and I recommend it to everyone. There is definitely a learning curve, but I seriously think it is one of the most effective ways to make a lifestyle change! Check it out here!

Sohee Lee's Training Programs

I love Sohee, and think she has such a balanced view on life and health. She is all about what science says and uses her platform to educate and encourage her followers towards moderation and consistency. I have never used her nutrition services, but LOVE her book Eat. Lift. Thrive. and recommend everyone grab a copy!

I have been using her workout plans for a couple of months and LOVE her style. These workouts are definitely not for beginners, but for those who are comfortable in and have access to a gym. The biggest pro in regards to her workouts are that I am NOT spending hours in the gym. Depending on the day, I can usually be in and out in 45 minutes. Her nutrition services are ideal for those who want a tailored plan that is specific to their goals and needs.

Lift To Get Lean

Kylie is so legit, there truly aren't enough words to communicate her legit-ness! Seriously, this girl knows her stuff, and it shows! Her Lift to Get Lean program will focus on teaching you how to count your macros and get in a killer workout, without losing your mind. Kylie has both at home, gym and beginner versions of her program, making this an ideal fit for busy women at any level. Kylie's programs also incorporate some yoga, helping you to be a bit more rounded!

Weight Loss on the Wild Side

Breanne also knows her stuff. This program is based on super solid nutritional principles and will get you some incredible results. Here you will focus on Intermittent Fasting, HIIT and weight training, in addition to getting rid of allergens that could be affecting your weight loss, energy and overall health.

Sarah Cann

Sarah has a wide range of programs and also does VIP - custom coaching. Her programs will have you focusing on macros and hitting the weights for massive results. Sarah is super encouraging and will whip you into shape while teaching you how to maintain a healthy lifestyle!

Emily Field, RD

Emily is a registered dietician, so her programs are nutrition based. I HIGHLY recommend Emily for personalized coaching if you don't really understand how to count macros or turn them into a practical meal plan for yourself. She is all about balance and enjoying life and really knows her stuff! Emily is a genius at helping you reach macro goals with foods that don't suck!  

Simply Fit

Emily is one of the sweetest humans in the world! This little lady is young, but UBER knowledgeable and has some impressive results that speak for themselves! Her Simply Fit program will get your booty leaner and stronger in a truly sustainable way. Her contagious smile will make the journey NOT suck!!!

Here are some other ladies offering online group programs or one-on-one services that are majorly trustworthy and will help you get healthy, sustainable results:

There are a ton of people out there offering up all kinds of promises and programs. But, you don't have a ton of time, and you don't want to invest in something that won't get you real results that will last beyond your first two weeks in the program. Every program and trainer listed above is committed to helping you see real results the right way. These ladies aren't in to gimmicks and tricks, they are in to solid nutrition and effective workouts. They all have different approaches and ways to get you there, but they will all provide you with education and support as you get healthier, stronger and more fit!

Athletic Wear That Won't Break the Bank

I am all about workout clothes; as in moderately obsessed, spend all of my money on them and Starbucks, I know, I know... #basic. But, I tend to buy a lot of the same types of things. For example, I may or may not own 4ish pairs of black crop leggings and maybe 5ish pairs of Senita shorts. I'm just sayin',  I find what I like and I stick with it. 

So, I called in a friend to put together a workout apparel post for those of us who can't spend $100 on leggings...#teacherlife. Her picks won't break the bank, but will keep you looking like a boss, in the gym or out on the town. 

Katrina has a killer blog and a gorgeous IG feed, that you should totally check out. Plus, she's Canadian, which automatically makes her super nice and kind of fancy (cuz' she writes things like favourite). 

See what she's got to say and then give her some love!!! PLUS...I want to hear about your favorite athleisure wear! What are your go-to's, faves and must haves? LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW peeps. Sorry for yelling, but...sometimes, ya' gotta do it!

I love leggings! I mean, stretchy pants that feel like you are wearing nothing... YES PLEASE!

Whether you are going to the gym, training for an event, or just running errands, athleisure has become a style of its own. Which is why I want to share with you some of my favourite athletic wear pieces and where to find them for a steal!

The Yoga Lover

You love the peaceful meditation and the deep stretch that yoga involves.  And you have to dress the part!  If you are a yoga lover, you know that your clothes must allow for movement and inversions without the constant need for adjusting.  And those who love HOT YOGA know that material quality is key!

This sports bra from Victoria’s Secret is the BEST I have ever tried AND they come in two styles for those who need less or more support - one with a simple zip front and one with a full underwire front closure with a zip front sports bar on top!  If you have been to a hot yoga class and tried to take that sweaty sports bra off over your head, this is going to be a life changer! Around $50, I know that this is a pricier option but I also know how good it really is!

If you don’t need much support for the girls in your downward dog, skip the brand name and head to ForeverXXI.  They have SO many great sports bras for under $20.  (I’ll show you some down below!)

These black leggings from Old Navy are a great steal. Perfect moisture-wicking material, they are great for any kind of workout, especially yoga.  Plus at under $30, you can't go wrong!

The Cross Trainer

You rock your cardio, running to the best playlist to keep you motivated, and then you pump those weights.  For you, indoors or outdoors, comfort is key.  I like to keep covered up in a gym so layers are my friend. Grab your fav sports bra and toss a cute tank like this one over top for a cool and casual style.

Don’t have a favorite sports bra?  Remember I mentioned ForeverXXI? They have SO many great styles for light and medium support under $25!

The Go Getter

Feeling those Saturday vibes?  Running errands all day? Or you just don’t feel like wearing those stiff jeans?  Athleisure is now a style (it even has its own wikipedia page!) so you can totally rock those leggings around town!  Since they are just meant for pure comfort, you can really have fun and try out different styles.  I LOVE a great cotton legging paired with an oversized sweatshirt.

Finding the right athletic wear doesn’t always have to break the bank.  All these pieces are under $60!  The key is finding the right piece for the activity you intend to use them for.  I love Lululemon and Lole as much as everyone else, but sometimes I can’t justify spending the money. Old Navy, ForeverXXI, Joe Fresh and PINK are my top places for great athletic wear finds - your bank account will thank you for shopping there!

Katrina is a 30 something mom who is not ready to give up style just because her 20s are behind her.  Her blog has been her go-to place to put her “mom” title aside and just be her girly self; sharing everything from everyday style, the best dry shampoo (because seriously, you need that!) and anything else that comes along with the life of a regular, full-time working mama.

Dont' forget to connect with her on her blog and Instagram profile!

Planners, Calendars and Getting it Together

When I asked about the topics you wanted to read about here, many of you wanted to know how I use my paper planner and online calendars for life and school.  So, here's a quick summary of how I try to stay organized, which for me, truly requires a good bit of effort! I am far from a natural planner, so seriously have an ever evolving process. 

Paper planner.


I use a Day Designer planner that I got from Target. Blue Sky makes these, and it is ideal for both my personal and professional life!

On the monthly pages, I write out what my co-teachers and I will do each day (just the standard we are teaching and the general activity we are doing) + any days off. I try not to add too much else here, because then it gets overwhelming. This is just for me to do a quick glance of the month. I write what we are planning to teach in pencil, because things always change. I keep days off or special days (half days) in pen. Flair pens obviously!


Then, on the daily pages, I write down all of my after school commitments, practices, and special things to remember during the day (IEP meeting, class trip to the library, when grades are due, etc.). I don't write what I am teaching here on these pages, because I can't have too much stuff written on each day or I will undoubtedly miss something. The monthly calendar is where that stuff goes and my co-teachers make power points for the lessons we teach. 

This planner is perfect because it has a to-do list for each day, plus a weekly top 3 to-do list. I always fill out my weekly top 3 on Sunday, and keep a running list of daily to-do's for the rest of the week. I put personal and work items on the same list...because if it needs to get done that day, I need to see it on that day's list. Lots of people have separate planners for home and work, but I need to see everything together! 

At the beginning of the school year, I write down my IEP due dates  and re-eval dates, (on the weekly pages, not the monthly pages), and then write down when invitation letters and reminder letters need to be sent out. 

On Sunday's I look at the coming week and figure out what I need to put on my daily to-do's in order to meet the requirements for the week. For example, this week, I have a ton of IEP meetings. I wrote them each on their specific day, then broke down the tasks for specific days coming this week (send 2nd reminder letters, do pre-voc testing, write draft IEP's). I also look at what needs to be done for cheer and write that down on my weekly pages as well.

Anything out of the norm for my daughters goes here as well, but things like regular practices don't get any precious space on my planner pages. 

I don't plan things like gym time, since my weeks are always a little different. I try to get to the gym at least three times per week, but would love to get 4 workouts in. I always workout on Saturday and Sunday, so decide each week when my other workout/workouts will be based on what's going on that week. Sometimes I end up at the gym at 8:30-9pm. If that's the only time I can get another workout in, so be it!

Calendar on my phone

I hate using the calendar on my phone. However, I do need reminders every now and then, so putting some important things on there helps keep me in line. 

My district uses Microsoft Office, so, all of my IEP dates are kept in my Microsoft calendar (that's how we invite general ed. and admin to meetings). Since my school email is linked on my phone, these appointments sync with my calendar, so I get reminders for those meetings. 

Other than that, my husband will occasionally put things in there, like our daughter's orthodontist appointments or the days he will be out of town. Those are helpful reminders, but honestly, that's all I use the calendar on my phone for. 

I am a paper planner girl, all the way! 

In terms of how most Type-A teachers like to plan, this is probably super basic. But, I need simple or I will get nothing done! 

How do you use your planner? Are you an online kind of girl, or do you love your paper planner as much as I do?

The Smell of Fall with Mrs. Meyer's

I've already told you how much I love fall. Like seriously, if I could live in a place where half the year was summer and half the year was fall, my life would be perfection.

One of my favorite pieces of fall are all of the fall scents.

When things are feeling chaotic, I find that scents work wonders for my mood and general state of mind.  Which is why I LOAD up on all of my favorite fall scents when they come out! 

And you should too! One of my favorite life hacks is using subscription services to keep my house stocked with the things I use regularly. It takes things off of my very busy plate, which is much needed at this stage in my life. 

Enter Grove Collaborative, a super helpful subscription service that delivers all natural cleaning products, and personal care products, right to your doorstep. They have all kinds of products to choose from, but my faves are the Mrs. Meyer's products. 


And this week, they are offering a cah-razy deal on Mrs. Meyer's fall scents. Grab yourself this free seasonal set of Mrs. Meyer’s fall hand soap, dish soap, and candle + pretty kitchen towel from Grove Collaborative! Here's how...

When you place your first order of $20 from Grove Collaborative, you’ll get the fall set — in your choice of scents — FREE!!! That means with a $20 purchase you will get:

  • Free Fall Seasonal Mrs. Meyer’s hand soap

  • Free Fall Seasonal Mrs. Meyer’s dish soap

  • Free Fall Seasonal Mrs. Meyer’s candle

  • Free Grove kitchen towel

  • Free Shipping & 60 Day VIP Trial

*If you’re already a Grove customer, you’ll get a free set of Grove walnut scrubbers. Just click here!

Find your chill this fall with Mrs. Meyer's fall scents, and this super simple subscription service, that keeps your house stocked with all natural cleaning and self care products. You can change your subscription at any time, and cancel or delay when ever you want. Plus, with your free 60 day trial, you will get free shipping on everything you order! 

So grab your free scents before they are gone, and take a load off this fall! 

Friday Favorites

Okay, so it's actually Saturday....I am a little late to the game. But, I'm here, so that's all that matters right?

One of the things I LOVE doing is sharing my favorite things with my peeps. If you are reading this, you are my peeps, so I want to share the things I am loving with you! I will try to keep these things health, fitness, teacher related...but I am a reality t.v. junkie...so no promises.

This weeks faves are...


Takeya Water Bottle

Teacher friends, grab one of these water bottles for the school year and make it your goal to drink at least two of them during the school day. One more after school and you should be all set.  I LOVE the caps on these bottles and they keep your water cold all day!! #stayhydratedpeeps




IAB and Senita Workout Shorts

I have recently become obsessed with shorts like these. These

two brands are by far my faves! They aren't crazy expensive, they stay put during a workout and they fit really well! #slightlyobsessed


Cult of Pedagogy Podcast

I have loved this podcast as of late. There are a ton of episodes about all kinds of education related topics, so teacher friends, check it out! I listen in the morning while I am getting ready for work about once a week, so I still have tons of episodes to get through! #professionaldevelopmentlikeaboss




Football Season, Pumpkin Spice And All Things Fall

I LOVE the fall. Seriously. I was uber-depressed come mid-September in Bangkok, when it was still 95 degrees. I 💙 football season, changing leaves, Pumpkin Spice everything and boots, jeans and scarves. This is 💯% my favorite time of year. #basicwhitegirl

There you have it friends, this week's Friday Favorites. What are you loving this week? Share some of your loves with me in the comments below!

September #Goals

Sept 2017 Goals.jpg

I used to write goal posts every month, way back in my rockstar blogger days. JK, I was never a rockstar blogger, I was just above average. But, that's not really important. What is important are the reasons why I shares my goals each month. I did this for a couple of reasons:

  1. I need accountability, and there is nothing like some positive peer pressure.
  2. I think seeing someone else's goals can encourage you to set some of your own.
  3. I want to be able able to come back to these posts at the end of each month and see the progress I've made.
  4. I truly believe that everyone should be working to grow personally, spiritually and professionally. So, goals matter and I want to share things that matter. 

With that being said, here ya' go peeps...my goals for September!


Getting consistent. If I am being completely honest, my time with God has been inconsistent at best. I truly love studying scripture and had created a pretty intentional prayer life. Then, last year we moved back to the States and things have been a bit of a roller coaster spiritually. While, I have LOVED living back in the U.S., finding consistency with my quiet time has been rough. I have it for a while, then don't.


This month, I am focusing less on an in-depth study and more on just reading and meditating on the truth of God. I will still be doing some study, because I am going through Judges with a friend. However, my daily goal will be to solely spend 20-30 minutes reading scripture, and praying.


Keep my eating in check. I am not quite sure what happened during the month of August, but I got super lax with my nutrition. I had been keeping things really tight, but with the start of school, I found myself eating way more junk than normal. So, this month is all about cleaning things up and indulging only in the things I really LOVE.

3-4 workouts per week. Again, August was rough in this department. During June and July I made it to the gym at least 5 days a week. My workouts aren't terribly long, but I like to hit the weights hard, so I was in great shape. Then school, after school cheer practices, and football games started up, and things got a little crazy. If I am intentional, I have time to make it to the gym at LEAST three times each week. So, my goal is 3-4 times per week..five if I am feeling wild!

Read "Eat. Lift. Thrive." by Sohee Lee. I found Sohee on Instagram, and love her message. She recently released her book, and I am slowly working my way through it. She is all about slow, moderate, sustainable lifestyle changes that will last over time. She dives deep into the psychology behind eating, weight loss and exercise. She preaches slow and steady over drastic quick-fixes, which isn't the sexiest thing in the diet and fitness industry, but is the healthiest way to get long-term results. 

Blog consistently. So, here I am! I really want to relaunch this blog well. I am pretty committed to the new direction I am headed in, and am excited to meet all kinds of educators! But, I am a fantastic starter and only a moderately mediocre finisher. So I am taking this thing one month at a time. In true Danielle form, I have 8 gazillion ideas, but am trying to just chill and make small steps of progress, one post at a time. So, by the end of September, my goal is to have 6 posts live for ya'!

Date nights and family night. Weekly dates with the hubs and phone free family dinners, once a week are the goal. I want to engage with my people and am guilty of always being on the phone. So, once a week, I want to spend some time with Esteban, and then as a family, with no phones in sight!


Read Teach Like a Pirate. We are doing a book study on this at school and I am super excited to finish. I have loved it so far, and am excited to discuss it with my co-workers!

Order and start implementing some strategies from Co-Teaching that WorksOften, co-teaching means a general-ed teacher doing all of the planning and teaching with the sped teacher standing in the back, offering individual help to sped kids. Ya'll that's NOT what inclusion is supposed to be, and I am pretty committed to doing better for the students. Fortunately, I work with some fantastic general ed. teachers who totally get it and are open to trying new things. Which means, I need to up my game and learn more. This was a highly recommended resource, so I want to go through it and see what might work best for the students we teach!

Get my IEP's done earlier than the night before. I have several IEP/re-evaluation meetings coming up in the next two weeks. I am terrible at getting these done in a timely manner, but by the end of last year, I had a good little system in place. So, my goal is to have everything done at least two days before the meeting, so I am not a frantic maniac the day of!

Pour into my cheerleaders. If you would have told me that I would be a cheerleading coach one day, I would have laughed LOUDLY in your face. Welllllllll......not only is that exactly what I am, it is actually one of the things I love most about my job. I truly love my girls, and am so lucky to play even the tiniest role in their lives. So, I want to use the time I have with them wisely. Nothing super quantifiable here, I just want to get a little more intentional. Being a girl is rough. Being a teenage girl is even more rough. I want my girls to know they've got someone in their corner!

Notice the good things my students are doing. I want to focus some attention this month on getting to know my students personally, and calling out the positive things I see in them. I am going to do my best to focus more on who they are than what they do, but mainly want them to know someone sees the good in them. I am learning more and more just how powerful words are. My students hear so much negativity, and it comes at them from every angle. I want to throw a little light their way!

Okay, there you have it.

Lofty? Maybe. But most of my goals are super simple.

They don't require tons of time or major lifestyle changes...cuz' ain't nobody got time for that! These goals do require some intentionality, planning and work...so I guess that's how I'll be hustling this month.

How about you? Do you have goals? If you blog about them, I would love hop on over and give em' a read. Leave a comment below with a link so I can check out what you are working on this month! If you don't blog, leave a goal or two in the comments below, so we can keep each other accountable...k? 

A New Direction


It has been a long time since I've posted around here, but I am back and ready to start getting a little more consistent. Because I no longer run my online fitness programs,  I will be changing directions a bit. Instead of using this space to support my paid programs, I want to fill this blog-o-mine up with incredibly helpful and encouraging content! 

Wanna know the new direction I'm heading in? 

I used to be all about helping busy women get fit right? ...well I still sort of am.

As a full time teacher and coach, I know the insanity that teachers live everyday. When you can barely find a minute to take a pee break, spend all night at a football game and have 45 minutes per day to plan, grade and grab a snack, healthy living needs to look a little different than it does for someone with time to hit the gym for an hour and prep and prepare super healthy meals every day. 

So, I want to begin writing content to help teachers live their healthiest, happiest lives. Because, at the end of the day, a healthy, happy teacher is WAY better for students than a teacher on the hangry struggle bus...am I right?

With that in mind, I would love to hear from my fellow teacher friends about the topics you want to see on the blog. Feel free to leave a comment below with some suggestions, or hit me up on social media. And, it doesn't all have to be health and fitness related, so ask away!

While I do plan to write a lot about exercise and nutrition, I'll also be sharing my favorite life hacks, the products I love, personal/professional development resources, and whatever else pops into my mind!  PLUS...I will be bringing in some friends to talk fashion, share some recipes and help you stay sane, all year long. 

Teaching is not for the faint of heart. We pour ourselves into our students, our schools and our communities often at the expense of our own health. I am committed to helping teachers live more energized and fulfilled lives, for the good of those students, schools and communities. So, if  you are a teacher, hit me up with some topics. If you aren't a teacher, don't worry, a lot of my upcoming content will pertain to all types of working women, so stick around. And, if you have other teacher friends, be sure to connect us over on Instagram!  

I will always share my posts on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, so make sure we are friends over there to stay in the loop. I will also send out recaps and special resources to those on my mailing list, so if you're interested in getting updates sent directly to your inbox, sign up here!

The FASTer Way to Fat Loss and Why I Joined

As a personal trainer, I am extremely skeptical when it comes to online programs. In today's market there are so many "coaches" selling quick fixes, full of empty promises. These miracle wraps, shakes, pills and restrictive diets are nothing more than an invitation to step onto the yo-yo dieting roller coaster.

Which is why I've always preached that results come from smart, effective workouts + intentional nutrition + lots of hard work and great habits. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. 

Over the last few months....

I've run into a bit of a bandwidth issue lately, and have had to make some changes. I LOVE helping busy women get fit without losing their minds. I LOVE fitness. I LOVE helping people lose weight the right way. I LOVE seeing people reach their goals 

BUT...I also love my sanity, my family and sleep...all of which have become more and more elusive for this busy mama. 

Why you ask?

Well... a few months ago I started doing some writing for Amanda Tress and her clients. Amanda is a digital marketing specialist, business coach and personal trainer. She works with female entrepreneurs...mainly in the health and wellness space...to help them grow their businesses, the right way. 

As I took on more and more writing jobs I realized a few things...

  • Content creation is an area that makes many entrepreneurs want to rip their hair out. 
  • I am totally obsessed with helping women who have real solutions bring their programs and services to the world.
  • Working with a team of amazing go-getters like Amanda's, is totally my jam.
  • I ain't too shabby at this whole writing thing.  

So I had to reassess.

I don't have unlimited time each day.

I am still teaching full-time at a high school I love.

I still have two daughters who need me on the regular and a hubby who likes to talk every now and then.

Something had to go. Online fitness seemed like the obvious answer.

When it comes to fitness, if I'm being honest, I really love working with people in person. I love teaching classes, chatting afterwards and getting to know people in those settings. Plus, I was struggling to find a real niche in the online fitness world. There are SOOOOOOO many options out there, I was having a hard time figuring out exactly where I fit.

But...writing was clear to me. 

So, I've decided to take a break from hosting online fitness programs. I may throw my hat back in the ring at some point, but for now, I am focusing on writing jobs, teaching others how to rock their own copywriting, teaching in-person fitness classes, and of course my day job and family. 

I'll share more on all of this in another post sometime next week!


I am still committed to helping women get fit without losing their minds. So, about three weeks ago, I signed up for Amanda's FASTer Way to Fat Loss program. I had written so much about it that I honestly felt like a total dumb dumb for not giving it a go.

Ya'll...I am truly blown away and feel as though I'd be negligent to NOT share about this program!

I hesitated to sign up for a while because of my past with disordered eating. I was worried the tracking and intermittent fasting would send me back into craziness. However, I can honestly say I feel incredible freedom on this program. I truly do feel more in control of my food choices, and do not in any way feel consumed or stressed out by the food cycle. 

I also LOVE the workouts. I am a big fan of workouts that don't waste time. Amanda's workouts are effective, efficient and challenging. This is saying a lot from a trainer-workout-snob like me!

The daily accountability helps me keep focused and on track. I love having a community of women going through the program with me, and am legit amazed by my results already. 

After just two and a half weeks I can see a huge difference in how my clothes fit. I don't know how much weight I've lost...because I hate the scale and haven't weighed myself in YEARS...but I do know that I am already seeing some great definition in my abs, arms, legs and booty. I also feel strong, energized and have had far less stomach discomfort than in the past.

Curious about this whole FASTer Way thing? Cool....let me explain!

Here are a few things you should know about the FASTer Way:

  • I would NEVER recommend a program I haven't tried or fully believe in.
  • I would NEVER send clients to someone I didn't trust or respect.
  • The FASTer Way is unique in that it combines several different components that make it uber effective, including:
    • Carb Cycling (a variation in daily carb intake)
    • Intermittent Fasting (periods of fasting and feeding each day)
    • Counting Macros instead of calories
    • Strength and Speed Burst Training
  • Workouts that can be done at home or at a gym and take about 40 minutes per day.
  • It is recommended you go dairy and gluten free. I have not completely done this, but have cut back on both. 
  • You WILL see fat loss results, feel stronger, and more energized.
  • You will be a part of an amazing community of women.
  • You will get to eat!! This program is not about extreme calorie restriction, but about fuelling your body with what it needs to function optimally!

Things that have been challenging on the program so far...

  • Low carb days. This girl right here loves her some carbs. So, two low carb days in a row were tough at first. However...now that I've gotten some good protein/healthy fat based meals I enjoy, low carb days are A LOT easier.
  • Getting my sprints in. We've had some crazy weather over the last few weeks, so I haven't always been able to get my sprint/speed burst workouts in. 

What I am loving...

Leg day workouts and treats! I love a great leg day workout and the extra wiggle room it allows me in my macros. 

Intermittent fasting. I thought it would be harder than its been. I've done intermittent fasting before, but not for this long. I am finding it pretty easy at this point.

Juicing. I've used some fresh pressed juices on low cal days, and to extend my fast on other days. I can officially say I am obsessed. This is optional, but I have loved incorporating juicing into the FASTer Way!

Eating. I don't feel hungry, or overwhelmed by my food choices. I eat a lot!!

Community. I love me a group of rockstar ladies...which is totes what the FASTer Way ladies are. 

If you are looking for a way to get fit, burn fat and feel energized..this program is for you. It is effective and sustainable...two things the trainer in me LOVES!

The next round of the FASTer Way starts Monday April 24th and spots are almost gone. I promise you ladies, this program is truly the bomb.com....so, do NOT waste your money anywhere else! 

Stress and Fat Loss


Obviously eating well and exercising are the foundation of fat loss. But, there are several other factors that can affect your body's ability to burn fat effectively. Stress is one of those things that can completely derail your fat loss efforts. 

What is stress?

Stress is not something outside of your body...but the way your body responds to certain external stimuli. When your body perceives some kind of threat or internal imbalance, it has two responses...fight or flight, and it releases cortisol (the stress hormone). While cortisol gets a bad wrap, it isn't completely evil!

Your body has a natural cortisol cycle that helps with energy and focus throughout the day. However when the cycle is thrown off, and your cortisol levels remain consistently high, your body does what it can to preserve itself...which isn't a good thing for fat loss. 

Where does stress come from?

There are plenty of things that cause stress in our lives: family, friends, work, finances, deadlines and major life changes are just a few things that can cause our bodies to have a fight or flight response. Two common things that people don't think about often as being stressors are over training (working out too much) and under eating (restricting your calories too much). These two things while they seem like a good idea for someone trying to lose weight, can actually cause your body to store fat. 

Is all stress bad?

No! Stress for a short period of time can bring a surge of energy and focus. That's why people are able to lift cars after an accident or meet a deadline after procrastinating for a week. However, when your body's not given space to de-stress and your cortisol levels remain high, everything gets out of whack. Constant stress increases your hunger hormones, decreases your satiation hormones, tells your body to store fat, and messes with your sleep cycle. That means you crave more junk, eat more junk, and feel more like junk. 

How do you avoid stress?

Stress is going to happen, ain't nothing we can do about that. What we can do is learn how to cope, so our body doesn't remain in a state of constant stress. Here are a few things that might help:

  • Exercise and Recover: Exercising 3-5 times per week, for 30-60 minutes will give your body the hormonal lift it needs, while allowing it to recover and your cortisol levels to come down. Exercising strenuously every day will counteract your natural cortisol cycle. Doing things like yoga, pilates or walking on your off days will help you to stay active while not messing with your stress load.
  • Eat enough, Eat Well: When people are trying to lose weight, they often cut their calories to levels that cause their body to go into starvation mode. When you exercise too much, and eat too little, your body begins to store fat, and your cortisol levels will remain elevated. It is absolutely critical that you do your best to fuel your body with whole foods that provide enough nutrients to get give your body the energy it needs. 
  • Pray: As a believer, one of the most important things I do to relieve stress is pray. Recognizing that God is completely in control of all things, and spending time in communication with Him, resets my mind and allows me to relax a bit!
  • Gratitude: Daily writing out things you are grateful for helps to focus your mind on the positive. Those that look at the world with positivity, hope and joy are better able to handle the stress that's thrown at them each day. 
  • Establish routines: As much as possible, create routine in your life. Doing this will lighten the load of decision making, which can lower your stress levels over time. 
  • Drink Ionix: This has been a complete game-changer for me. The adaptogens (natural substances that help the body deal with stress) help your handle daily stressors. It's literally like a natural chill pill!
  • Unplug: Constant time in front of a screen is overstimulating to your brain, and can cause your body to release more cortisol. Limiting screen time before bed, and throughout the day will help you to respond to stress more effectively. 

While short amounts of stress are beneficial to productivity, prolonged amounts of stress can significantly impact your overall health and totally throw off your weight loss efforts. If you have been struggling to lose weight, make sure your stress levels are in check! If you are looking for a simple to follow workout program, shoot me a message, I'd love to find something that works for you!


  • http://www.precisionnutrition.com/good-stress-bad-stress
  • https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-mindful-self-express/201308/why-we-gain-weight-when-we-re-stressed-and-how-not
  • http://www.builtlean.com/2012/10/22/stress-weight-loss/


Simple Sources of Protein and Why Women Need It

In order to effectively build lean muscle and burn fat, you've got to do more than just cut calories. Ensuring that you eat the right macronutrients (protein, carbs, fats), is critical to changing your overall body composition, and doing more than just becoming a smaller version of yourself. 

Protein is critical to:

  • Increasing satiety
  • Helping your muscles repair themselves after a difficult workout
  • Increasing your metabolism
  • Decreasing the number of stored calories from food
  • Reducing cravings
  • Preventing muscle loss which can slow your metabolism down

When a high protein diet is paired with a solid weight training program, you will begin to see incredible changes to the shape of your body. You will see lean muscle gains, and fat loss...giving your body the toned, lean look most of us are going for!

But...how much protein should you eat?

Well, that depends on a lot! When figuring out how much protein you should eat each day, you need to consider your height, weight, activity level and goals. If you want to add muscle, you are going to eat a larger amount of protein than if you want to lose weight. If you are a 6'5 man, you are going to eat more protein than a 5'5 woman. If you are lifting heavy, multiple times per week, you are going to need more protein than if you are barely active at all.

According to Ryan Andrews of Precision Nutrition, "The basic recommendation for protein intake is 0.8 grams per kilogram (or 0.36g per pound) of body mass in untrained, generally healthy adults. For instance, a 150lb person would consume around 54 grams per day" (Andrews). This amount of protein is only to avoid being deficient. If you are training at a higher intensity level, the same person's protein intake would increase to around 95-135 grams of protein per day.

What are some good sources of protein?

It can be really hard to hit your protein goals for the day, especially if you are like most Americans and live on a steady diet of carbs and fats. However, there are some really great ways to squeeze some protein into your diet.

Lean Meat: Chicken and turkey are great ways to get lean protein in at each meal. You can also eat lean beef and pork as well. It is a good idea to get a palm sized serving of protein in each meal. Just to give you an idea of how much protein is packed into white meat, "1 roasted chicken breast without the skin contains 53 grams of protein, with only 284 calories" (Gunnars).

Fish: Fish is a great way to squeeze in some protein. Be sure to choose leaner types of fish, or eat the fattier kind (it's okay, its the good fat), in smaller portions. "Salmon is 46% protein, with 19 grams per 3 ounce serving, with 175 calories" (Gunnars). 

Milk, Cheese, Yogurt: When looking to dairy for protein, be sure to go with the whole versions. One glass of whole milk is 8 grams of protein and 149 calories. 

Eggs: Eggs are a fantastic source of both protein and healthy fats. On egg contains 6 grams of protein with 78 calories. 

Protein Shakes: I am kind of a protein shake junkie! I have found some that I truly love, and usually have at least one a day for breakfast. Using a whey based protein powder will help you not only squeeze in some protein, but depending on the brand you use, you could also be getting in a ton of other vital nutrients and minerals. I use this meal replacement shake that has 20 grams of protein (it lasts about 3 weeks for us), and this whey protein powder for my veggie/fruit smoothies. 

For a more extensive list of proteins, check out this blog post from Authority Nutrition. 

Ladies, if you want to get lean, strong and toned, upping your protein intake, and adding in some intentional weight training is the very best way to get there. You won't get big and bulky, but you will teach your body to effectively burn fat while building lean, calorie burning muscle. 






3 Tips to Set New Year's Goals that Stick


It's that time again. You know, the one where you set a bunch of resolutions because of the fresh start right in front of you, only to lose sight of those resolutions by February 1st. 

Why do we do this? Year after year, the same story...is it even close to possible to stick with New Year's Resolutions?

In all honesty, I am not a resolution girl. However, I am a goals girl. I spend a good amount of time praying about, writing down, and checking off my goals each month. And yes, January 1st does present a new opportunity to do just that. 

So how do we go from resolution flunky to goal getters? Here are a few thoughts. 

Spend time thinking through your long term goals.

Where do you want to be 10 years from now? How about 20, 30, 50, 70? What types of things do you want to be remembered for when you die? What do you want your grandkids to say about you long after you are gone? Then, connect those long term goals back to the here and now. What do you have to do this year, this month, this week and today to get a little closer to that long term goal. You will likely find some short term goals on the way. It's okay to tie some short term celebrations to those short term goals, as long as you keep the big picture in mind. Choose goals that truly have meaning and that will leave a legacy. 

For me, I know that I want to be someone who was remembered for her faith and obedience to God. I also want to be someone who poured into the people around her, loving them with grace and truth. I want to be a wife who supported and encouraged her husband and a mother who was present and available for her kids. I want to be excellent at what I do, whether that's in a 9th grade classroom, working with clients in a gym or through online fitness programs and writing. I want to be someone who is remembered for pursuing God's glory in all areas of my life. For me...this is a good starting point. It helps me to consider the long-term, so that I can start thinking about the short term. Try it for yourself friend!

Write measurable goals that are a challenge but achievable. 

What do we really mean when we say, I want to get healthy this year? How about, "I want to be better with money" or "spend more time with my kids". Those are okay places to start, but we need to get a whole lot more specific if our goals are going to happen. What will it take for you to get healthy. Do you need to lose weight, gain weight, change your diet, get stronger, lower your blood sugar? What needs to happen for you to be "better with your money"? Do you need to pay off debt? Start setting aside money for retirement? Give more? When are you going to spend more time with your kids? After school? In the mornings? Before bed? On the weekends? Will you be unplugged during that time? These are all smaller more attainable things, especially when  you start to attach some quantifiers to them...how many pounds do you want to lose, how much debt do you want to pay off, how much longer do you want to spend with your kids each day? Specific goals get accomplished, even if not exactly. Do you really lose anything for setting a goal to pay off $3000 of your $5000 debt and only paying off $2500? ummm....no! You paid of $2500, that's a fantastic step in the right direction!

Get Accountability

I love Lara Casey's Powersheets, because they let me write goals that are meaningful, and then help me track them. I also share my goals with my husband and have shared specific goals with coaches, friends, mentors, and even on my blog! Starting something new requires a lot of effort, which means you are going to need some friends to cheer you on and give you a kick in the butt when you need one! Each goal can have a different form of accountability, but they all need something!

Goals help us to focus and spend our time and resources intentionally. I truly believe that God leads us to live our lives in a way that honors him in every area. Resolutions rarely pan out, but goals that have been prayed about, thought through and well planned often lead to significant change. 


Looking to finally get in shape this year, but need a plan and some accountability? I would love to help you make a change that lasts. Simple, effective workouts and a fantastic nutrition plan will help you to finally see some results! Sign up before December 31st to get $50 off!

The Benefits of Barre

barre 1.jpg

Now, you know I LOVE me some strength training and HIIT! But, I haven't shared much about my other fitness love: barre.

Barre is actually how I got into the fitness industry. I had taken a few classes at a chain in South Carolina and didn't really like it at first. Then, I tried a class at a Pilates studio in Bangkok and fell in love! I signed up for their teacher training on a whim and ended up teaching at that studio for about a year and a half, until we moved! I eventually became a CPT, but have taught barre ever since! 

While there are tons of reasons I love barre, here are just a few of the many benefits barre has to offer!

It's low impact.

If you have had any joint issues, or any old injuries, you can rest assured that barre will be easy on those ankles and knees!  While there is a cardio section to most barre classes, your joints won't be taking the brunt of incessant pounding. 

It's cardio + strength.

We all know that cardio burns calories, but long form cardio can actually negatively effect muscle composition. Not to mention that long form cardio can be boring for lots of people. Barre cardio is not always obvious, although you will quickly find yourself out of breath in most classes. In addition, barre uses bodyweight resistance training, and engages your muscles for a full body workout, every class! 

Anyone can do it, no matter what their fitness level is.

Barre is great because you can vary your workout based on your current fitness level. There is always a  way to make things more challenging, and there is always a way to make things a little simpler. Barre classes definitely have levels of intensity and difficulty, but anyone can give a barre class a try!

Barre forces you to make a mind-body connection

This is probably the most important benefit barre has to offer. Barre classes that are well designed, require you to focus your mind on the specific area of your body that is working. This not only benefits you while doing barre, but helps you to focus during all types of movement. Barre has made me significantly more intentional as I lift weights and do interval training. The type of mind-body connection you form during barre class will help you move and use your body in more effective ways throughout your day!

It's fun!

Seriously, it is really fun! A kick-butt playlist (umm...hello 90's rap with killer base) and some fun moves will make your hour fly by! Even if you feel a little silly, or like you aren't that great at it, you will undoubtedly leave with some shaky legs and a smile on your face!

If you haven't tried a barre class, I seriously recommend you hop on over to a studio and give it a shot. You will burn plenty of calories, get a little stronger and have lots of fun along the way! Or, give my Barre and Strength Bootcamp a try!

Holiday Gift Guide for a Healthy Lifestyle

I have a love hate relationship with Christmas shopping. On one hand, I love buying gifts for people. On the other hand it can be a bit overwhelming at times. So, since I am a fitness lover, I thought I would help you out! Here are some gift ideas for the fitness lovers in your life.

Infuser Water Bottle

Staying hydrated is absolutely critical and highly underrated! This Infuser Water Bottle keeps you hydrated in style, while allowing you to infuse your water with some tasty, healthy treats.


I am a huge fan of Lara Casey's PowerSheets. They are truly a helpful tool for anyone wanting to set goals based on what they value. I think every woman should grab a set of these.

Resistance Bands

There are so many exercises you can do with a set of resistance bands. These bands also make working out on the road a whole lot easier, since they are so easy to pack! And, they are super cute!

Trigger Point Foam Roller

After a hard workout, there is nothing more welcomed than a foam roller. These guys can relieve tension in a big way, and Trigger Point rollers are my favorite!

Cross Training Couture Tank

Who doesn't love a cute tank to workout in? I love the heart behind Cross Training Couture and all of their designs are cute and functional!

Monogrammed Yoga Mat

I learned pretty quickly from some southern friends how important a good monogram is. Why not give your fit friends their own yoga mat, personalized with a sassy, chic monogram?

Fabletics subscription

I have loved everything I've ever gotten from Fabletics, and think these products are so well made. A subscription to Fabletics for a few months would be a fantastic gift for any gym rat!

Day Designer Planner

I love a planner. I've gone back and forth over the years, but can say that the Day Designer has never let me down. You can get the flagship version, or get a Target version. Either one will help keep its owner focused, on track and fully intentional in the coming year!

If you've got a fitness lover on your list, check out some of these gifts this Black Friday!

*This post contains affiliate links. To read my full disclosure click on over here.

Staying on Track During the Holidays

If you've been working hard towards your fitness goals over the past few months, then you're probably looking at the upcoming month with some concern. Holiday party season is about to rev up, and with it comes countless sweet treats and busy schedules. While you might be tempted to just say, "eh, I'll just enjoy myself until January 1st", let me encourage you; you don't have to dive head-first into a month long food coma. You can rock this holiday season and enjoy it, all at the same time. Here are some tips and tricks!

Stay on track during the holidays

Exercise Hacks for the Holidays

While this season might be a busy one for you, don't slack in the exercise department. You may not be able to get in as many full workouts as you normally do, but every Sunday, plan your workouts for the week. Maybe you need to shorten a few, or move a few around, but you can make workouts happen. Get some accountability (I've got a group starting November 28th or grab a friend), and be intentional. Maybe challenge yourself to do 25 workouts between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Sweeten that deal with a fun little reward if you do (hello new Lulu's). If you can squeeze in three effective workouts per week during the holiday season, you're doing great. Four workouts and you are a total rockstar!

Nutrition Hacks for the Holidays

This is where things get a little tricky. Depending on your schedule, family situation and current nutrition plan, you are going to have to get a little creative here.

Eat clean MOST of the time.

Eat clean (according to your macros or calories) for as many days as you possibly can. This means that you do not need to chow down on every sweet treat someone brings to the office over the next month. Instead, plan your fun. If you eat clean the entire week before Thanksgiving, then you can enjoy all of the carby goodness Thanksgiving has to offer, with no guilt. Are those store bought cookies really worth it? No. Save your extra calories for the amazing catered party your office has. 

Add in some good stuff. 

If you aren't doing this already, now would be a great time to: up your water intake, add in some green smoothies and add veggies to all your meals. Simple hacks like these will keep you feeling full while giving your body some of the vital nutrients it needs. 

Track your food this month.

I am not a huge fan of logging everything you eat, all of the time. However, I do believe there is a time and place for tracking calories and macros. There is a significant amount of research that shows people who track their food, even if no one looks at their food log, lose up to twice the amount of weight as people who don't track their food. If you know that this month is going to be a challenge, then start keeping a food log from Thanksgiving to New Years. I love My Fitness Pal, because it has such a wide range of foods in its database. You can also use a fitbook if paper is more your thing.

Watch what you drink.

'Tis the season for lots of fancy cocktails and sugar-laden drinks. These are things that can put on the extra pounds with a quickness. You don't need to get an eggnog latte every time you hit up Starbucks. You don't need a cocktail at every holiday party you attend. Choose your liquid calories carefully this season and save them for truly special occasions!

Relax and be grateful. 

Take some time to really, truly rest this season. Stress leads to weight gain and a whole host of other health issues. Grab a massage, sleep in on the weekend, diffuse some oils, take a long bath, or plan a fun girls day out.  Doing your best to relax will keep your immune system strong and your cortisol levels low (which is good for weight loss). Enjoy time with the people you love, and live with sincere gratitude for the blessings you have. Studies have shown that people who practice gratitude are significantly more likely to lose weight and keep it off. Make this holiday season one where you daily count your blessings.

The holiday's don't have to derail your efforts to stay healthy and fit. In fact, they are the perfect time to really dial in your nutrition and commit to a workout plan. If you need help getting through the next 5ish weeks, I would love to have you join my upcoming bootcamp. For 12 weeks you get workouts, nutrition guidelines and regular accountability. We will work on building sustainable habits that keep you focused and free, so you don't feel like your losing your mind! This program is super affordable and designed with busy women in mind. Join me friends!




Give Your Gut the Bacteria it Needs!

Girl, you need to get some bacteria up in that gut! For reals…

The research around probiotics has been steadily growing over the past couple of years. Because of that, they've become popular in the fitness and nutrition community because of the benefits they seem to have to your overall health. I personally started using them faithfully about 6 months ago and have seen a huge change in the bloating I used to feel throughout the day. If you are curious about whether or not you should add these in to your diet, here's some info to help you make the decision.

Typically, we think of bacteria as a bad thing, and most of the time, it is. However, there are certain types of good bacteria that can help our bodies run more efficiently. The bacteria found in probiotics are some of the good guys. 

Our guts are microbiomes filled with all kinds of bacterial organisms. In fact, we have 10 times as much bacteria than we do cells. That's a lot of bacteria ya'll! 

The good bacteria:

  • Helps us synthesize and process certain vitamins
  • Keep a lid on the growth of bad bacteria
  • Help our gastrointestinal function (good-bye pain and bloating)
  • Produce short chain fatty acids (I'll talk more about this later)
  • Can improve the symptoms of IBS and antibiotic related diarrhea
  • Boost your immunity, leaving you less vulnerable to seasonal sickness 

If you're looking to see a change in your overall body composition, probiotics can help there too. A digestive system full of good bacteria is able to better process the micronutrients in food and can increase your body’s overall metabolism. If you’ve reached a bit of a weight loss plateau, adding in some probiotics, might bring your gut into check, giving your metabolism a little kick, helping you to shed those last few pounds. Why? Probiotics have been shown to produce SCFA’s (Short Chain Fatty Acids), which aid your body in burning fat and tell your body to store less of it. When you pair probiotics with a prebiotic fiber (which creates a favorable environment for the good bacteria) your body increases the amount of SCFA's it produces. An increase in SCFA's can result in weight loss and a change in your overall body composition (aka, more lean muscle, less fat).

The health benefits don’t stop there though, according to Ryan Andrews of Precision Nutrition, “Adequate consumption of probiotics can help to eliminate abdominal pain, gas, bloating, reflux, allergies, nausea, food poisoning and vomiting. Probiotics may even alleviate irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and dermatitis. You guessed it – this means they are anti-inflammatory” (Andrews).

So…how do you get this awesome bacteria into your gut? You could eat lots of yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi; or, you could use my favorite brand of probiotic supplements. I take one Silver Fern Probiotic pill every morning, then drink 2 Wai Drink mixes throughout the day. I’ve recently added in their Tino Fiber as well. All of this is part of their free Elevated Plan. I highly recommend you grab this simple guide to learn more about how you can incorporate probiotics into your current way of eating.  Whether you are looking to lose weight, strengthen your immune system or relieve stomach discomfort, probiotics could be a helpful tool in your toolbox. 

Ya’ll, these have made a huge difference in how I feel throughout the day, which is why I tell everyone about them. They have helped with some serious bloating, which has been a huge game changer for me. Grab your free Elevated guide and check consider adding some probiotics into your daily routine!





Getting Fit Shouldn't Consume You

Whether its online, in magazines or on t.v., we're constantly bombarded with images of the perfect body. And while those images are forever changing, most women can't help but define their own beauty by the standards promoted by those images. 

In pursuit of that beauty, we often find ourselves doing extreme things: going into debt for the perfect clothes, plastic surgery for the ideal curves, and constant dieting plus excessive exercise to shed a few pounds. Soon, thoughts of calories and macros and how many hours you've spent in the gym, take over way too much real estate in your mind. Your life is all of a sudden consumed with clean eating, and never missing a workout, and your heart is left longing for the "more" that God's created you for.

I know this, because I lived this for years. I spent so much time calculating and counting, weighing my food against my exercise to see if I would gain or lose, that the only thing I lost was a little piece of my sanity. I thought about every bite that went into my mouth and felt guilty for every "bad" thing I consumed. On the outside, I looked like everyone else, but my mind was working overtime, and I was tired.

Which is why health and fitness has become such a passion of mine. I truly believe that it doesn't have to be that way. I believe that we can eat, and workout and get strong and feel confident, so that we can live, love and serve without sacrificing our sanity along the way. 

Eating well and working out are good things. In fact, this article by David Mathias hits the nail on the head in terms of believers and exercise. But, these things can quickly become idols if we let them. 

Women today can and should get stronger, because these bodies we've been given are gifts and can be used to do truly amazing things. I also believe that we should do our best to fuel these bodies well, so they can be full of energy to do what we've been called to do. I even think it's okay to want to look fit and healthy, and that there are certainly occasions where weight loss is a good thing. But, I don't think we should ever spend so much time at the gym that we don't have time for the ones we love. I don't think we should be so concerned with what we eat, that we can't enjoy a dinner out with our spouse. I don't think we should be so obsessed with the "perfect" body, that we pursue it over everything else. 

Working out doesn't have to take hours, because we can get strong and lean with short, effective, well-planned workouts. Eating healthy doesn't have to mean cutting out entire food groups because you can make small changes to your diet and see big results. 

Getting healthy doesn't have to make you lose your mind. In fact, it can truly help you live with more energy, focus and intentionality. Great workouts aren't the point of life, they are only a piece of life. Food isn't about calories and macros, it's about love, community and togetherness. Health isn't about our bodies looking amazing, it's about the amazing handiwork of our awesome God.

There are lots of trainers out there that are selling a quick fix. There are plenty of companies that want you to buy their cleanses, drink their teas, or use their wraps to scare the fat away.

But, I will always push you to want more.

I will always push you to find a why that is more significant than finding your six pack.

While we burn fat and get lean, I will always remind you that our real goal is strength and energy to do what God's called us to.

When we talk about calories and macros and cutting back on things, there will always be grace and room to eat what you love.

Because being healthy, losing weight, getting strong, and improving your fitness level should never make you lose your mind. Nutrition and exercise should never consume you. Looking a certain way should never enslave you. And feeling strong and confident should never detract from the life God's called you to live.

Burn Fat with HIIT Workouts

Ladies, I hope you've hit the weights a bit since my last post!

While I truly believe strength training should be the foundation of your weekly workout routine, research shows that adding in some HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) can really increase the results you see from your strength training workouts. The reason I LOVE HIIT is because it is so time efficient. You get a ton of benefit in small amounts of time. As a busy, working mom, time is a hot commodity. So quick and effective is absolutely my love language in terms of a great workout. 

What is HIIT?

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is alternating intervals of all-out-high-intensity-work and low intensity or no intensity rest periods. For example, my favorite type of HIIT is a simple sprint workout. I typically sprint as fast as I can for about 10-15seconds, and then walk for about 40-60 seconds, then repeat that 8 times. You can do this with a bike, swimming, on a treadmill or at home with moves like burpees, mountain climbers and squat jumps. This type of workout is great for when you are short on time, or when you are on the road with no equipment. It's also the perfect finisher to a great strength training workout (I would do fewer repetitions at the end of a hard workout though).

Here's why HIIT is so amazing...

Burn Calories for Hours

HIIT obviously burns calories while you are working out. In fact, it burns more calories than when you do a steady-state type of cardio workout (steady paced running, biking, etc). But the really cool thing about HIIT workouts is that they keep burning calories AFTER your workout is over. The simple explanation for this is that you are requiring more of your body during high intensity intervals in terms of the way your body gets and uses its oxygen. After your workout is done, your body continues using that same pathway as it is repairing your muscles. If you want to get all geeky over the science, check this out.

Research has also shown that HIIT workouts increase your body's resting metabolic rate for 24 hours after your workout is complete. Simply put, your metabolism speeds up for 24 hours after your HIIT workout. Who doesn't want to speed up their metabolism?

Burn Belly Fat

Studies have shown that doing 4-30second sprints, 3 times per week will burn more fat after 6 weeks than 60 minutes of steady state-cardio (walking on an inclined treadmill). Other studies have shown that 20 minutes of HIIT, 3 times a week will significantly lower belly fat. HIIT gets you burning fat, which means you look leaner...especially around the mid-section.

Improve Cardiovascular Strength

HITT gets your heart muscle working, but also gives it time to rest and recover. Overall this means improved cardiac functioning and better cholesterol profiles. In addition it can help lower blood pressure and improve your overall aerobic performance (aka...you're able to do more cardiovascularly with less effort).

Improve Glucose Control

HIIT training helps your body use glucose more effectively which means that you are less likely to become diabetic, and if you are diabetic, it means you will be better able to control your glucose levels. In addition, better glucose control means a more efficient metabolism. That means your body will burn fat more effectively. Now that doesn't sound too bad does it?

Time Efficiency

The real reason I love HIIT is that you burn tons of calories, reach into your fat stores and improve your cardiovascular health...IN LESS TIME! If you're a busy, go-getter like me, then you don't have hours to spend in the gym. Which is why I love adding HIIT into my weekly workout routine. It is a TON of bang for your buck in terms of time spent vs. positive effects. You are more likely to stick with a workout that won't take forever, which means sustainable change that your body will thank you for!

As you build muscle through strength training, your body's metabolism will become more efficient, and you will see your overall body composition change. Add in some HIIT sessions and you will really see the fat melt away. In addition, you'll be strengthening your heart and improving your overall health, which means more energy to live the life God has given you. 

A Few things to keep in mind about HIIT:

  • During your work intervals, you want to go all out! If you are able to carry on a conversation, you're not working hard enough. You need to be working at a level where it is hard to breath. You are going to get a rest period, so make those intervals count!
  • You can't do HIIT for extended periods of time if you are doing it correctly. 8-10 intervals is probably the max for most people. Don't be a hero, your body wasn't designed to work that hard for longer periods of time. 
  • Don't do more than 4 HIIT sessions per week, and be sure to make sure you are incorporating strength training. For most of my programs I include 1-2 minutes of interval training at the end of each strength training workout, and one longer interval day with 8 intervals with a longer recovery period between intervals. 
  • Intervals can be done anywhere. You can do them on a bike, in a pool, in your home with no equipment, on the treadmill or outside.

Want to try a couple of HIIT workouts?


The Benefits of Strength Training for Women

If you were to ask me the single most effective way to change your body composition, lose weight and "tone up", I would undoubtedly say weight training. However, whenever I say that to a woman, I'm usually met with the same response..."but I don't want to get bulky".

Over the years, women have bought into the lie that heavy weights are for men. We are bombarded with workouts that promise to tone an isolated part of our body, with tiny little weights. However, if you're really looking to burn fat, you're going to have to hit the weights and you're going to have to hit them hard. Your body composition begins to change when you progressively overload your muscles, requiring them to work harder. As they repair themselves from that work, they burn a significant amount of calories, most of which come from your body's fat stores. 

So, next time you think about doing a 45 minute, medium paced run on the treadmill, consider these facts about strength training, and grab some weights instead!

Increased Metabolism

Weight training causes your muscles to grow (don't worry, they won't balloon up, I promise). According to Wayne Wescott, weight training expert and researcher, Phd., "As you add muscle from strength training, your resting metabolism will increase, so you'll burn more calories all day long. For each pound of muscle you gain, you'll burn 35-50 more calories daily." This means that if you gain 4 pounds of muscle, your body will burn 140-200 more calories per day, which adds up to 10 pounds per year. Ummm....Yes please, to sustainable weight loss!

Increased Fat Burning

Women are often concerned about bulking up when you mention weight training. But, because women don't have the testosterone levels men do, they aren't able to grow muscle in the same way. And, while weight training might add muscle weight to your body, it burns fat at a higher rate than it adds muscle. In one study, women who added 1.75 pounds of muscle, lost 3.5 pounds of fat. So, while women can gain muscle from heavy weight training, they are going to see the fat melt off, changing their overall body composition: creating a lean, strong, toned look.

Better Bone Density

Weight training not only builds muscle, it builds your bones as well. Increased bone density can fight against osteoporosis, and keep you from injury. As you increase the demands on your muscles, you are increasing demands on your bones, which helps build your bone's strength.  Professor Earl Mindell and Virginia Hopkins explain findings from their research in Prescription Alternatives"In a recent study on bone density and exercise, older women who did high-intensity weight training two days per week for a year were able to increase their bone density by one percent, while a control group of women who did not exercise had a bone density decrease of 1.8 to 2.5 percent. The women who exercised also had improved muscle strength and better balance, while both decreased in the non-exercising group." In addition, according to Kathy Keeton, "a research study by Ontario's McMaster University found that a year-long strength training program increased the spinal bone mass of postmenopausal women by nine percent. Furthermore, women who do not participate in strength training actually experience a decrease in bone density." 

Improved Mental Health

Strength training's effects stretch far beyond the physical. Studies suggest that resistance training is linked to a decrease in depression (a Harvard study found that 10 weeks of strength training reduced depression more than counseling did), an increase in executive functioning, a reduction in anxiety levels, an increase in self esteem, and healthy sleep patterns. During a strength training workout, your body releases endorphins which improves overall mood, boosts your immunity and increases your focus. 

Time to Start Lifting Ladies....

There are plenty of other benefits to strength training for women, but I think these are some pretty compelling reasons to hit the weights. If you want to dive into a strength training program, I recommend hiring a personal trainer (online or off) to make a solid plan for you. You can also find online plans through an app like Spitfire, or I recommend the plans in Strong and Thinner, Leaner Stronger. Aim for 3 strength training workouts per week, one short HIIT workout per week, and be sure to include some extensive stretching before and after each workout. Remember the goal is to increase your weights over time, so make sure that you find a plan that will progressively up your weight levels, requiring more from your muscles; that's where the real change takes place.

If you'd like an affordable personalized plan to get you started, I am offering a 50% discount off my One-on One VIP program. You get 4 weeks of personalized strength training workouts, nutritional guidance, and regular check-ins to keep you accountable, for only $75. My workouts will take no longer than 30 minutes and will get you leaner and stronger, while increasing your energy. As always, my programs come with a money back guarantee, so you've got nothing to lose!