Monday, July 24, 2017
Saturday, July 22, 2017
Friday, July 21, 2017
I know, I know, just what you’re craving in the middle of summer…a dish that brings the heat! Did I nail it on the head or what? Well, maybe you can entertain this as an idea for a rainy, cool-ish summer evening. We enjoyed it on a night like that just recently! We’ve had a lot of rain and clouds around these parts.
I’ve been trying to come up with the fastest of fast dinner recipes, since cooking with two kids underfoot is getting more and more challenging. If it takes me more than 10 minutes of prep during the witching hour, it’s usually not happening. (I don’t know, maybe I should try batch cooking and freezing meals on the weekends, but I haven’t yet come up with a plan for that.) Admittedly, I’ve also been feeling a bit defeated in the cooking department because Adriana is going through an “I’m not hungry” phase (after going through a really good eating phase in the spring that, in retrospect, could’ve been a growth spurt!). Most of the things we offer her have a few nibbles taken out of them. Or she just exclaims, “POPSICLE, PLEASE!” *facepalm* So, my mood lately has been basically PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME COOK ANOTHER REJECTED MEAL. The silver lining is that Arlo will eat anything that isn’t nailed down (for now!), as will Eric (lol), so my cooking confidence isn’t totally shattered. I’m like, “SEE, NORMAL PEOPLE LOVE MY FOOD!” (I may be losing it.)
One day I just started throwing things into a pot and didn’t actually expect this recipe to be a winner, but it turned out to be really tasty, especially after a couple more trials. I love that it’s extremely fast to prep. My goal was 10 minutes prep, and I usually clock in at around 7 or 8 minutes (when I have my cooking game face on!). I also wanted the dish to rely on pantry ingredients, such as dried spices rather than fresh aromatics. Don’t get me wrong, fresh garlic, onion, ginger, chillis, etc. are typically my first choice, but they aren’t always practical for those rushed nights. Another benefit of this recipe is that you can use whatever veggies you have on hand, so it can work for all the seasons. I, Eric, and Arlo are really enjoying it…and I’ve even convinced Adriana to eat a bit (it was a sweet potato version, and I ended up mashing her sweet potatoes into the dal and stirring in the rice).
Thursday, July 20, 2017
It’s no secret that working out and strength training can have positive effects on our mental health. Exercise can reduce anxiety and depression. 1,2 It can also contribute to increased self-confidence and help us feel more at-home in our bodies.
Transgender individuals tend to struggle with depression and anxiety at higher rates than the general public, due to the increased discrimination, stigma, lack of acceptance, and abuse that they often face. 3, 4 So it should follow that transgender folks are eager to come into the gym as part of their self-care and wellness routines, to reap those same benefits so many people enjoy, right?
Yet… it’s not quite that simple.
Harassment and Discrimination
A lot of people worry when they first visit a gym, and at the root of much of that worry is their fear of judgment from others.
Will everyone else be super fit?
Will it be obvious that I don’t know what I’m doing?
Will my body be ridiculed, or will my body type be noticeably different?
Am I going to be the only woman in the weight room, or the only person of color?
Do I belong here?
Daye, a trans woman, experiences a lot of anxiety going to the gym. She is only comfortable going with a friend, and avoids the locker rooms and bathrooms due to fear of being outed.
Going to the gym, says Daye, brings with it “the intimidation and fear of entering a space that doesn’t feel like it’s for me.”
Transgender and gender nonconforming folks may have even more anxiety about training in a gym than cisgender people do, and lot of that anxiety centers around locker room and bathroom access. (If these terms are new to you, please see this article for some basic information about gender identity.)
According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality, the majority of transgender respondents reported facing frequent harassment when using bathrooms in public places. 5
More than half (59 percent) avoided using a public bathroom in the past year due to fear of confrontation, being denied use of the facilities, or even physical or sexual assault.
Nearly one-third (31 percent) experienced discrimination, harassment, or assault while trying to access a place of public accommodation, meaning places that provide services to the public like stores, restaurants, hotels, and yes, gyms.
Tre, a transgender male, shares an experience he had while transitioning: “…there was an aggressive, muscular guy utilizing three weight benches on a day when the gym was very crowded,” he says. “I cleared away his weights so I could get a set in while he was using another bench. He started yelling transphobic and homophobic things at me, making a scene in front of all the gym patrons, and eventually threatened to follow me home and beat me up.”
Besides the threat of physical abuse, Tre’s worries largely centered around locker room and bathroom access. “Most of my gender-related issues at commercial and semi-private gyms have involved locker room access,” he says. “In the early stages of my transition when I still self-identified as female yet I was presenting and often perceived as male, I felt generally unwelcome in the women’s locker room.”
“Women… would ask me what I was doing in there, why I was in the women’s locker room, or they’d flat-out tell me to get out. When I started hormone therapy and identifying as male, I stopped going to the gym altogether because I didn’t want to make people uncomfortable in the women’s locker room, and I was afraid of using the men’s locker room.”
Mirroring Tre’s experience, one in five transgender people did not use at least one type of public accommodation in the past year because they feared they would be mistreated. 5
While these statistics are quite high, this data was collected before transgender restroom use became the subject of intense and often harmful public scrutiny in the national media and government.
Transgender people are not pretending to be something they’re not in order to victimize women and girls in public spaces.
The reality is that anti-discrimination protections allowing transgender people to use the facilities that correspond with their gender identity have been around for years, and there is no evidence that this leads to attacks in public facilities. 6
In fact, transgender people are more likely to be the victims of assault in restrooms. 7,8 Really, they just want to use restrooms — and the locker rooms — in peace and anonymity like everyone else.
Caleb, a transgender male who trains in a university gym, shares: “I am always low-key worried that I may get harassed in the locker room. I do change openly… and though I realize it’s incredibly unlikely, I fear somebody may notice and recognize my top surgery scars and question my right to be in the men’s locker room.”
Even Janae Marie Kroc, world record-holding powerlifter and bodybuilder, sometimes experiences discomfort with accessing gym bathrooms and locker rooms as a transgender female and genderfluid/nonbinary person.
Though people usually know who she is in most gyms, she still experiences “lots of stares and some level of awkwardness or people being a little uncomfortable.”
Janae describes how she changed her routine to avoid using gym locker rooms: “Typically I had to change before heading to the gym and couldn’t shower until I returned home. I tried hard to use the restroom right before leaving for the gym, because I did not feel comfortable using either of the restrooms designated as male or female due to fear of complaints from other patrons.”
She said that small “Family” locker rooms were helpful, and mostly used by individuals who needed the privacy.
Trans-Friendly Gyms Do Exist
Some gyms are making an intentional effort to be welcoming to people who span the gender spectrum. Having at least one gender-neutral private bathroom or changing area is key, but that’s just the beginning.
Morgan Vozobule is a full-time coach at CrossFit Center City and Owner of Liberty Barbell Club in Philadelphia. She describes the gym as being “a haven for members from all walks of life.” Says Morgan: “Regardless of previous athletic experience, our gym recognizes that trying the things you’ve never done before can be a deeply frightening experience. We have built this gym knowing that healthy people are defined by not only their bodies- but their relationships, their minds, and their sense of belonging.”
Asked how the gym is trans friendly and competent, Morgan says “Not only do our gym members represent the wide spectrum of LGBTQ athletes, but our staff does as well …We are moving away from the conventional idea of gendered weight recommendations, we host a free monthly trans-friendly CrossFit class called Strength in Numbers, and above all, we have created a welcoming and incredibly diverse group of members that are ecstatic to share their safe space with everyone else.”
In addition, the entire coaching staff at CrossFit Center City completed an introductory education program. “The training covered trans-inclusive language and practices, with a specific focus on the challenges that trans athletes may face,” says Morgan. “As a result, we as a collective staff can better understand the difference between gender identity and sexual orientation, appropriate language and definitions, the disproportionate marginalization the trans community faces, and how to be a better allies.”
The response to CrossFit Center City’s Strength in Numbers class has been positive. “The attendance from our own members, other affiliate members, and people who have never stepped foot in a gym before has been tremendous,” Morgan says. “Strength in Numbers has been an attempt to cultivate something much larger than a place for people to work out.”
Liberation Barbell in Portland, OR rejects the common fitness industry message that “our bodies are never enough — or more commonly — that they are too much.” Lacy Davis, who co-owns Liberation Barbell with Christina Cabrales, shares: “We are founded on the idea that physical fitness should be accessible to any body regardless of age, race, ability, gender identity, sexuality, current health, or size.” She adds that Liberation Barbell approaches fitness “through a lens of anti-oppression and with an aim to always grow and better serve the various communities that thrive in our space.”
This means that at her gym, they take the time to ask trans clients what they might like to see, and to continuously educate themselves about the actual experiences of trans people. “It is extremely important to take a moment to educate ourselves and listen.” Assuming that she and her co-owner will sometimes make mistakes, one of their core policies is “to constantly be teachable.”
“Trans and gender nonconforming people deserve to feel at home in their bodies, just like the rest of us! To me, it seems if we are excluding people from the opportunity to strengthen themselves, then we are actively screwing up,” says Lacy.
Nathalie Huerta, owner of The Queer Gym in Oakland, CA, would agree. Her gym is “a body-positive gym space free of homophobia, transphobia, and fatphobia.” Like Lacy Davis, she describes learning as an important part of her gym’s process to be transgender competent. “We genuinely wanted to learn,” she says, “and celebrate all of our queer community, not just parts of it.”
“We are the first [queer gym] in the industry… so it took us being proactive about seeking the answers to our questions and learning what was important for people under the entire queer umbrella to have in a gym space,” Nathalie says. “We spoke to members and different organizations and got the staff trained.
From there, we realized our membership base also needed this information, so we created a workshop called Queer 101. We require the staff to attend, but also open it up for our members and the community to come learn.”
Nathalie says the response to her gym has been overwhelmingly positive.“I thought someone would smash my windows or tag up our gym, but luckily [knock on wood] none of that has ever happened!”
Creating a Trans-Inclusive Gym Environment
A few key points came up repeatedly among trans gym members and the owners of transgender friendly gyms.
- It is imperative that gym owners educate themselves and their staff on the discrimination trans people may face in general, and especially on the discrimination they may face in a gym environment.
- Provide single stall or gender neutral bathrooms, locker rooms, and changing areas. At least one private changing area goes a long way to making trans folks feel that they can change safely at the gym.
- Avoid delineating “men’s” and “women’s” workouts or weights.
- Have a zero-acceptance policy against harassment that includes harassment based on gender identity. State this policy explicitly on your gym’s website.
- Don’t be afraid to learn from your mistakes. “I think people believe that to invite trans and gender nonconforming people into their gyms they must be perfect, but I disagree,” says Lacy. “I think we must take care to learn and be humble when we screw up.”
Creating a gym that is welcoming to transgender athletes is not about providing special rights and privileges to a group of people. It is about leveling the playing field so that people can come into a gym environment and not worry about experiencing discrimination or difficulty specifically because they’re transgender.
“I think that starting a gym routine can be intimidating for anyone,” says Morgan, “and the pervasive, systematic isolation that members of the trans community face every day make it that much more daunting… it is our duty as wellness professionals to give each individual the tools necessary to pursue their own fitness journey.” Morgan feels strongly that gym owners can be the pioneers of “creating more inclusive establishments that broaden our community and strengthen our connections to each other.”
“It’s every person’s right to have access to a space where they’re not concerned about being physically, sexually or emotionally harassed while they’re just trying to get healthier,” adds Nathalie.
“If we limit the access of trans and gender non conforming members, we are essentially denying them the right to health, wellness, and fitness.”
- Paluska SA, Schwenk TL. Physical activity and mental health: current concepts. Sports Medicine. 2000;3:167-180.
- O’Connor PJ, Herring MP, Carvalho A. Mental health benefits of strength training in adults. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. 2010;4(5):377-396.
- Schreiber K. Why Transgender People Experience More Mental Health Issues. Psychology Today. December 2016. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-truth-about-exercise-addiction/201612/why-transgender-people-experience-more-mental-health.
- Robles R, Fresán A, Vega-Ramirez H, et al. Removing transgender identity from the classification of mental disorders: a Mexican field study for ICD-11. The Lancet Psychiatry. 2016 Sep. 9(3):850-859.
- James, SE, Herman, JL, Rankin, S, Keisling, M, Mottet, L, & Anafi, M. Executive Summary of the Report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey. Washington, DC: National Center for Transgender Equality. 2016.
- 15 Experts Debunk Right-Wing Transgender Bathroom Myth. Media Matters for America. https://www.mediamatters.org/research/2014/03/20/15-experts-debunk-right-wing-transgender-bathro/198533. Published March 19, 2014.
- Brady J. When A Transgender Person Uses A Public Bathroom, Who Is At Risk? NPR. Published May 15, 2016. http://www.npr.org/2016/05/15/477954537/when-a-transgender-person-uses-a-public-bathroom-who-is-at-risk
- Herman, JL. Gendered Restrooms and Minority Stress: The Public Regulation of Gender and its Impact on Transgender People’s Lives. Journal of Public Management & Policy. 2013 19(1):65-80.
The post Creating Welcoming Gym Environments for Trans and Gender Nonconforming Athletes appeared first on Girls Gone Strong.
Wednesday, July 19, 2017
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Monday, July 17, 2017
There are many benefits to spending more time outside, like soaking up vitamin D and engaging in physical activities such as hiking, swimming, biking, and running. In addition to the physical benefits of spending time in nature, going outside can go a long way in helping you feel mentally, physically, and emotionally better.
Have you ever found yourself feeling super stressed and thought, “I just need to go outside for some fresh air!” Maybe a friend has suggested that you go take a walk because “it will help you relax” when life is feeling particularly tough.
It’s not a coincidence that more often than not you just feel better after a quick nature break.
Whether it’s the fresh air, the sounds, the colors, the physical activity, or simply time spent away from screens and technology, nature has a way of healing, supporting, and nurturing.
1. Nature reduces stress and relaxes the brain.
Spending more time in nature can be beneficial not only for immune function and combatting inflammation but for several of the greatest public health issues in our modern life as well, like obesity, depression, and eyesight. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Researchers from the University of Glasgow found evidence to suggest that physical activity in natural environments can improve mental health and reduce stress, and a 2015 study out of Stanford University found a significant difference in the positive effects that taking a walk in nature can have on mental well-being compared to going for a walk in an urban setting.6, 7
While I encourage you to go outside and engage physically with nature, even looking out at a view of nature through a window when you’re feeling stressed out can provide some relief.8
2. Nature improves cognitive function and mental performance.
If you’re experiencing mental fatigue and can’t seem to concentrate or make decisions, go outside! Spending time in nature has been shown to have positive effects on brain function for adults as well as kids.9, 10
Not only can natural environments improve your attention and ability to focus, according to a study led by psychologists at the University of North Florida, when you engage in dynamic physical activities outdoors like climbing a tree, balancing on a beam, or even walking barefoot, you can increase your working memory by 50 percent.11, 12
Moving in a new or unfamiliar environment or terrain not only challenges your fitness and physicality, but also engages your cognitive function in ways you don’t get to when you only move in the same terrain or environment like a traditional gym.
When you are balancing or climbing a tree, for example, you are moving in an unfamiliar and unpredictable environment which challenges your proprioception (that is, your awareness and ability to sense the position and movement of your body parts in your surrounding space without visual assistance). This engages the “problem-solving” part of the brain (your working memory) to process the incoming information and helps you adapt to the environment, which results to improved working memory performance in general.
Spend some time moving outside, and you may notice that you can focus more own your studies or your work performance.
I’ve noticed this myself, when hiking on a trail I’ve have never been on. I am much more aware of my surroundings and how my body is moving in that space. It’s new information for my senses, my body, and my brain that requires me to be fully present to navigate this new terrain and avoid injury. It can feel like you’re working out a real-world puzzle for the body and mind.
3. Nature can protect eyesight.
We spend most of our days indoors, looking at screens and very rarely needing to look beyond a few feet. It is no wonder why myopia (nearsightedness) is increasingly prevalent.13 Just like the body requires natural movement to function optimally, so do our eyes.
Numerous studies have found that children who spend more time playing or participating in sports outdoors have a lower prevalence of myopia.13, 14, Researchers in China found, over a three-year period, that children who spent as little as 40 extra minutes outside during the school day were less likely to develop myopia. 15, 16
At the very least, it is beneficial to take a break from the computer every 20 minutes to look out the window at the farthest point for a few minutes, and even better to step outside regularly and scan the environment and give our eyes a break if we spend most of our time indoors, under artificial light, or in front of a screen.
4. Nature improves mood and can help manage depression.
Studies suggest that spending time in nature reduces our cortisol levels and heightens our sense of well-being.6 Simply going for a walk has been shown to reduce anxiety and help with depression.7
Going outside and sitting by a lake or stream and allowing myself to melt into a state of relaxation has helped me to cope with depression and anxiety. There is research linking both, movement and nature to improved mood, though it’s hard to say what exactly is responsible for that result. Is it simply being outdoors? Is it the physical activity? Is it a combination of both? 17, 18 Does figuring that out even matter?
I think Dr. David Strayer, a cognitive psychologist from the University of Utah sums up the body-nature relationship beautifully in an interview with National Geographic Magazine on this topic: “At the end of the day, we come out in nature not because the science says it does something to us, but because of how it makes us feel.”19
We have a pervasive disconnect from nature and the more we can re-immerse ourselves in natural settings, the more it can help us feel more alive, vibrant, and strong, benefiting in ways physical, mental, and spiritual in the process.
Ready to connect with nature?
If you’re ready to start reaping the benefits of spending time outdoors, here are a few things you can do:
- Go outside, lay on the ground, and look up at the sky. Feel all your senses come to life as you breathe peacefully and take it all in.
- If there is an area in which you feel safe, take a walk. If you’re in the habit of walking the same route, switch it up if you have options.
- Climb or hang on a tree.
- Go hiking and explore a new environment and terrain through some dynamic movement like stepping over and under, crawling, balancing, or climbing.
- Walk barefoot. If this is new for you start on a gentle surface like sand or grass. Feel the ground beneath your feet and notice how you have to pay attention to the surface to avoid stepping on something sharp or hot. Each step you take barefoot you are using your working memory to help problem solve. It’s a win-win for your brain and foot-health. As your feet grow accustomed to different textures and surfaces over time, you can explore on more challenging surfaces like stones and rocks.
- If you have kids, take them to the park. Move and engage in the environment by climbing and hanging on the monkey bars, chasing your kids under, over, and through various obstacles, balancing on a beam. Everyone benefits!
These are just a few ideas. However you choose to do it, get outside today and fuel your body, mind and spirit with some vitamin N!
- Li Q. Effect of forest bathing trips on human immune function. Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine. 2010;15(1):9-17.
- Mao GX, Lan XG, Cao YB, et al. Effects of short-term forest bathing on human health in a broad-leaved evergreen forest in Zhejiang Province, China. Biomed Environ Sci. 2012 Jun;25(3):317-24.
- Mao GX, Cao YB, Lan XG, et al. Therapeutic effect of forest bathing on human hypertension in the elderly. J Cardiol. 2012 Dec;60(6):495-502.
- Miyazaki Y, Lee J, Park BJ, Tsunetsugu Y, Matsunaga K. Preventive medical effects of nature therapy. Nihon Eiseigaku Zasshi. 2011 Sep;66(4):651-6.
- Rose KA, Morgan IG, Smith W, et al. Myopia, Lifestyle, and Schooling in Students of Chinese Ethnicity in Singapore and Sydney. Arch Ophthalmol. 2008;126(4):527-530.
- Mitchel R. Is physical activity in natural environments better for mental health than physical activity in other environments? Social Science & Medicine. 2013 Aug; Vol 91:130-134
- Bratmana GN, Hamilton P, Hahn KS, Dailyd GC, Gross JJ. Nature experience reduces rumination and subgenual prefrontal cortex activation. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 2015 Jul 14;112(28):8567-72
- Shin WS. The influence of forest view through a window on job satisfaction and job stress. Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research. 2007;22(3):248-253
- Atchley RA, Strayer DL, Atchley P (2012) Creativity in the Wild: Improving Creative Reasoning through Immersion in Natural Settings. PLoS ONE 7(12): e51474.
- Faber Taylor A, Kuo FE. Children With Attention Deficits Concentrate Better After Walk in the Park. Journal of Attention Disorders. 2009 Mar;12(5):402-409.
- Berman MG, Jonides J, Kaplan S. The Cognitive Benefits of Interacting With Nature. Psychological Science. 2008 Dec;19(12):1207-1212.
- Alloway RG, Packiam Alloway T. The Working Memory Benefits of Proprioceptively Demanding Training: A Pilot Study. Perceptual and Motor Skills. 2015 June;120(3):766-775.
- Sherwin JC, Reacher MH, Keogh RH, et al. The association between time spent outdoors and myopia in children and adolescents: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Ophthalmology. 2012 Oct;119(10):2141-51.
- Rose KA, Morgan IG, Ip J, et al. Outdoor activity reduces the prevalence of myopia in children. Ophthalmology. 2008 Aug;115(8):1279-85.
- Jones LA, Sinnott LT, Mutti DO, et al. Parental History of Myopia, Sports and Outdoor Activities, and Future Myopia. Invest. Vis. Sci. 2007;48(8):3524-3532.
- He M, Xiang F, Zeng Y, et al. Effect of Time Spent Outdoors at School on the Development of Myopia Among Children in China: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2015;314(11):1142-1148.
- Heesch KC, van Gellecum YR, Burton NW, van Uffelen JGZ, Brown WJ. Physical Activity, Walking, and Quality of Life in Women with Depressive Symptoms. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2015 Mar;48(3):281-291
- Craft LL, Perna FM. The Benefits of Exercise for the Clinically Depressed. Primary Care Companion to The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 2004;6(3):104-111.
- Williams F. “This Is Your Brain on Nature” National Geographic Magazine. January 2016.
The post Get Your Vitamin “N” — The Benefits of Spending Time In Nature appeared first on Girls Gone Strong.
Sunday, July 16, 2017
Name: Julie Gohring
Location: Tamarindo, Costa Rica
What does being a Girl Gone Strong mean to you?
Being a Girl Gone Strong means bucking traditional and conventional stereotypes of what it means to be a woman. It means defining myself by my own standards and creating space for other woman to do the same. We are all individuals, by owning our uniqueness and joining forces together we can achieve so much more!
How long have you been strength training, and how did you get started?
I dabbled on and off for years, but didn’t get serious until 2010 when I realized how getting stronger could help improve my surfing. I’m a surf fanatic, so anything that increases my joy when I’m out in the ocean makes me say, “I’m all in.” I also wanted to be able to pull myself up the side of a rickety panga boat that has no ladder, when I am out in the middle of the ocean, without the assistance of anyone. It’s basically like doing a muscle up. Ha!
Once I started lifting with heavier weight I was amazed at how the shape of my body changed. It created curves and definition like nothing I had ever seen before. I also noticed how the strength I gained in my body overflowed into other areas of my life.
I started showing up in my life more fully, more focused, and more alive than ever.
What does your typical workout look like?
Even though upper body strength is what solidified my strength training practice, I love to train my glutes. I can never find an excuses not to. When I train glutes, I always focus on heavy deadlifts, single-leg deadlifts, hip thrusts, kettlebell swings, and Bulgarian split squats.
The Bulgarian Split Squat. Nothing gets the glutes to burn quite like this split squat.
Most memorable PR:
My most memorable PR was not with a bar, but rather from Mother Nature. I was on a surf trip in Indonesia three years ago, where I was faced with one of my biggest surf challenges to date. I had gotten up super early (dawn patrol!) to get out into the ocean before the line-up got crowded with other surfers.
The surf break was about one mile off the coast over a not-so-deep reef, so I had to be boated out to the line-up. I had looked at the surf report the night before and knew the waves were going to be big, but I would have never expected what I saw that morning.
When I arrived to the line-up, it was in between sets so it was hard to tell what the conditions were. I jumped out of the boat and started to paddle over to the line-up when I saw the biggest waves of my life. These massive walls of water were rolling in, some of the wave faces were up to 15 feet! Up until that point the biggest waves I had surfed were six feet.
Seeing waves that big, up close, with my very own eyes made me feel a wee bit scared, to say the least. Ha! It could have been very easy in that moment to panic, lose faith in my own ability, and turn right around and get back into the boat. But I didn’t. Somewhere inside me, I knew that I could catch one of those waves. (And this is one reason I believe the benefits of strength training overflow into other areas of our lives.) I not only had the physical strength but also the body confidence and internal belief to trust myself (and my mind and body), and say yes to pushing myself past my own limits. I truly believe my dedication to strength training gave me the physical and mental strength to stay in those conditions, when my gut reflex would have been to bolt.
On that day I caught one of the most memorable and biggest waves of my life at eight feet. I thank the iron for that!
Top 5 songs on your training playlist:
- My House – FloRida
- Treasure Chest – Bruno Mars
- No Scrubs – TLC
- Crash – Dave Mathews Band
- Jane Says – Jane’s Addiction
Top 3 things you must have at the gym or in your gym bag:
Water bottle with BCAA’s, lifting gloves, and resistance bands (for those glutes).
Do you prefer to train alone or with others? Why?
I love to train alone because it allows me to concentrate deeply on the inner experience of training my body, and it also forces me to push my mental limits. However, I usually train with my boyfriend, which is awesome as well. We push each other, and since he is a personal trainer too, it’s nice to have someone check my form and give me constructive feedback.
Most memorable compliment you’ve received lately:
A client recently told me, “ I came to you desperate to lose weight, but I have gained so much more than I could have ever imagined. Because of you, for the first time in my life I feel at peace with my body and proud of the skin I am in. I am no longer worried about the number on the scale because now I know it doesn’t even matter. It’s all about how I feel in my body.”
Most recent compliment you gave someone else:
“Hey you, I dig your shirt!” (that’s Nick, my boyfriend.)
Do wine and cheese or tortilla chips and guac count as meals?
Favorite way to treat yourself:
Sunset walks. The vibe in the air the five minutes before the sun goes down is like the most peaceful, serene, and perfect five minutes of my existence every time.
I have two faves…
“Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. Because it’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential.” —Barack Obama
“If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.” —Joseph Campbell
Sapiens: A Brief History Of Mankind — Yuval Harari
The Power Of Myth — Joseph Campbell & Bill Moyers
The Beauty Myth — Naomi Wolf
East Of Eden — John Steinbeck
What inspires and motivates you?
A courageous woman. A woman who takes care of herself first — even in a world where she is told to put herself last. She does what’s best for her, nevertheless. She stands tall, she takes up space, and she uses her voice. Every time I see a woman do, act, or behave in a way that is aligned with her, regardless of if it aligns with what society has told her, my heart smiles.
What do you do?
For a decade I worked in pharmaceutical/bio-tech sales, but once I relocated to Costa Rica I turned my passion for fitness into my full-time work. Now, I’m a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach and work with clients here in Costa Rica on the beach and also all over the world through Saltwater Fit, our online fitness and nutrition coaching. Technology is amazing!
Although I love living in Costa Rica and working for myself, I am so grateful for my time spent working in corporate america and the healthcare industry at large. Working within the healthcare system equipped me with an invaluable perspective that I would never have gained without that experience. I find it extremely useful in my work today as I wade through the endless amounts of health and fitness information.
Transitioning from working for someone else to working for myself has been a transformative experience. It truly has pushed me waaayyy out of my comfort zone and made me commit more fully to who I want to become. I am also very fortunate to have a business partner, my boyfriend, who is also a trainer and nutrition coach, and makes the entrepreneur lifestyle much more bearable. Together, we run our fitness and lifestyle blog Saltwater Fit.
… And when you’re not working?
I guess it is obvious by now, I love to surf and basically operate my life around it. Sounds funny I know, but to be a dedicated surfer it is a requirement. You have to schedule your work and daily commitments around the tides and the specific environmental conditions that are changing from day to day.
It’s different from other sports where the conditions are always the same. For instance, take basketball. There is always a basketball, court, and a hoop to shoot. Those are constants and usually readily available for practice when you have time.
In surfing, there are so many variables outside of your control that must come together to make a surfable wave. You need swell, the right wind direction, the right tide and time of day, etc. So you aren’t guaranteed surfable conditions whenever you feel so inclined to go surf. Therefore you have to be able to react in real time with some spontaneity to take advantage of the current ideal conditions when they appear.
My schedule reflects this priority and allows for flexibility. Having a more fluid schedule can make creating structure in your day more difficult and require more energy and focus to get things done. But it’s totally worth it for me. Surfing always bring my mind to the present moment. It forces me into the here and now, which I find is where my best life is lived.
I also love to travel. Especially to faraway places and distant lands. I find traveling (especially international) one of the most educational and expansive experiences you can give yourself. It forces you to see how people from other cultures and countries see and experience the world and reflect back on your own. It gives you perspective and an appreciation for all that is.
Describe a typical day in your life:
Since living in Costa Rica, my life has become much simpler. This is by design. These are the elements of my day, not always in equal proportion or order. Ha!
Wake up: not a morning person.
Drink Coffee: necessary for function.
Hit the Surf: pure joy.
Work: train clients, write emails and blogs, read articles and books.
Eat: lots of cauliflower rice.
Train: lift weights or yoga — or both.
Sunset walk: mandatory.
Sleep: eight hours.
Repeat: yes, please.
Your next training goal:
Getting barreled. For those of you who don’t know the term, a barrel is when the wave creates a tube that you can ride in. You are essentially riding the inside curl of the wave. It’s pretty magical. When you’re in the barrel, you are completely covered up by the lip of the wave. The reason getting barreled is difficult is because you must take off or drop into the wave in a much more consequential section. Often times you put yourself at risk for falling or a violent wipeout because the lip of the wave can smack you down. This is where confidence, focus, and technical skill intersect.
For what are you most grateful?
My parents. They always prioritized my brother and I, making sacrifices so that we could have more opportunity and experience in the world. My mother emphasized the importance of education and travel, and my father raised me to believe I could do or be anything. As an adult, I see how the solid foundation they laid is fundamental to all that I am today. Forever humbled and blessed.
Of what life accomplishment do you feel most proud?
Working on the presidential campaign for Barack Obama. From 2007-2008, I worked as a volunteer community organizer for what is now known as Obama for America. I knocked on doors, made thousands of calls, raised money, and organized others to do the same. It was an extraordinary experience that taught me two important learnings:
- When you become part of something that is bigger than yourself, you can accomplish so much more than you ever thought possible.
- We are so much more similar than we are different — no matter our age, race, sex, education, political party, or socioeconomic status — we all essentially want the same things. When we put ourselves out there honestly, we can powerfully connect with others who seem different from us. This is how we come together, make change, and progress.
Which three words best describe you?
Passionate, intuitive, and loyal.
What’s a risk you’ve taken recently, and how did it turn out?
The biggest risk I took was when I decided to leave my corporate job and move to Costa Rica. This happened a little over six years ago. It was the biggest mental and emotional challenge I had ever put myself through because it brought into question my entire belief system. I had to reexamine everything I had been conditioned to believe about a “successful and happy life.”
Although this process wasn’t easy and was definitely uncomfortable, it forced me to align the way I was living with what I truly believed in my heart. I am forever grateful for this experience and that I trusted myself to make the leap.
Sometimes we know what is best for us in our hearts, but in our heads it just doesn’t make sense. Fear of the unknown and rational, pragmatic thought can get the best of us. When I moved to Costa Rica, I didn’t know how it was all going to turn out, there were plenty of unknowns. But I trusted a little voice that I had been trying to quiet for a long time, and I have been better off ever since. As Joseph Campbell says: “Follow your bliss (or little voice) and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”
What’s the coolest “side effect” you’ve experienced from strength training?
I now have more autonomy and a deeper awareness of my own body. Knowing how to activate or turn on certain muscle groups so that I can improve my form in any activity that I do.
How has lifting weights changed your life?
Lifting weights has grown my self confidence and ability to handle more challenging surfing situations. It has also reminded me what I can accomplish when I put my head down and put in the effort.
What do you want to say to other women who might be nervous or hesitant about strength training?
Strength training will transform the way you look and feel in your body. You’ll be amazed! You’ll forge a new found sense of independence and respect for yourself that will resource you in every other area of your life. But don’t take my word for it, go try it for yourself.