Exercise, Nutrition, Opinion, Other, wellness

The Holy Trinity

Health is defined by Miriam Webster as “the condition of being sound in body, mind, and spirit.”

Notice that there is nothing in that definition that relates to your weight, body fat percentage, or the amount that you exercise. Health is so much more than your physical body.

I was discussing this with a good friend of mine, telling him that once I let go of my body hang ups, my body fell into line. He then brought up this concept of the “holy trinity of health.” This is the idea that your physical, mental, and spiritual health are all interconnected, so when they are all being nourished, they all thrive. However, when one aspect of the trinity is off, any of them, this throws you off, and makes it that much harder to nourish the other two. This is a concept I’ve seen to be true, and one I can get behind.

It seemed that when my mind was right, when I was stress free (or as close to that as I can be) and happy, I was much more inclined to take care of myself physically. When you actually want to take care of your physical health, meaning exercising for health and eating more fruits and vegetables, it becomes much easier and more enjoyable to do so. On the other side of the spectrum, when I was very stressed a few weeks ago, the last thing I wanted to do was go to the gym and eat veggies. My body wanted it, but boy did my mind want a Netflix marathon and some cookies. Since my mental aspect was off, it basically gave me permission to neglect my physical health.

Mental and spiritual health are not things that are usually discussed in the realm of health and fitness, but they are just as important as your physical health. Your mental state dictates your physical journey. I’ve discussed the power of positivity before, meaning if you start your journey from a place of love and wanting to improve your health and wellness, this will be a fun and fulfilling journey, with the difficulties being worth it because you want this. If you begin from a place of hatred and wanting to change only the parts of you you hate, this will be a hard journey. It will be a chore, and lead to a temporary fix, rather than a long term lifestyle change.

Think about your why for this journey. If there are inherently negative reasons (“I hate my chubby tummy” or “I want to get rid of these thunder thighs”), flip the script. Change those reasons to “I want to eat more Whole Foods to nourish my body and power through my workouts” or “I want to strengthen my leg muscles”. These reasons say the same thing, but in entirely different ways. Rewriting some of the script in your head is step one to improving your mental and spiritual health, and step one in improving your physical health.

Nutrition, Opinion, Other

The Breakfast Club

Breakfast is my absolute favorite meal of the day. You want cake? Here’s a breakfast food for that. Want something more savory? Here ya go. Fries? We call them homefries here. Leftovers? Don’t worry about heating them up, they are, somehow, better cold in the morning.

It’s been called the most important meal of the day, and even a miracle for weight loss, yet it’s the meal most usually skipped. Don’t get fooled by weight loss mags, breakfast is no miracle. It’s not going to “jumpstart” your metabolism, but it is very useful if you want to indulge in it. Breakfast is a great way to energize yourself in the morning, giving your body the nutrients and calories it needs to get you through your daily activities. It doesn’t necessarily “jumpstart” your metabolism, but it does allow your body to continue running efficiently, since it has the necessary calories. As well, breakfast can prevent overeating at later meals. Think about the last time you went nuts on some food. How hungry were you? Probably pretty ravenous. Think about how long you went in between meals that day. It was probably a pretty long time. The main culprit behind overeating, especially at night, is eating too little during the day. Your body is smart, it knows how many calories it needs. If you think that skipping breakfast is a way to cut calories, you may be more than making up for it at night.

Even with all these benefits, breakfast is still skipped like it’s cardio. There is no need to have breakfast, it can be very helpful as i said above, but it isn’t necessary. Intermittent Fasting is a nutrition style where you fast for longer periods and eat all of your calories in a shorter window of time (around 8 hours). This works for some people, and that’s great. I’m not a huge fan of it, but if it works, go for it. The number one reason why people skip breakfast is because of a lack of time. I get it, your mornings are crazy busy (and you want to sleep as long as possible and cooking really gets in the way of that.) Some people just can’t eat in the mornings, their bodies just don’t enjoy it, and that’s fine. But you still need some food in the morning (just maybe not when you first wake up).

Enter: Breakfast Prep, the easiest meal prep you will ever find. I have three go-to recipes for breakfasts on the go that are easy to make, healthy, and delicious. Don’t believe me? Read the recipes below. Easy. Peasy.

Overnight Oats

1/2 cup oats

1/4 cup vanilla Greek yogurt

1/2 cup milk

1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey for sweetness

Whatever toppings you’d like! (I like cocoa powder and peanut butter)

Optional: 1 tbsp chia seeds to thicken extra

1: Mix together all ingredients in a container

2: Refrigerate overnight.

At Home McMuffins

1 English Muffin

1 egg

1 slice Canadian bacon (or ham, sausage, bacon, whatever you’d like)

1 slice cheese

1: Cook egg. (If making multiple sandwiches at once, crack eggs into greased muffin tins and and bake for 15-18 minutes at 350. The easiest.)

2: Place cooked egg on bottom half of English muffin.

3: Layer ham and cheese (or whatever toppings you chose) on top of egg

4: Wait for eggs to cool completely, then wrap sandwiches and refrigerate or freeze.

5: Microwave to heat when ready.

Protein Pancakes

1 scoop protein powder

1 egg

2 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

Up to 1/4 cup of water for consistency

1: Mix together all dry ingredients

2: Add egg and water

3: Mix

4: Heat skillet over medium heat

5: Divide batter into three equal pancakes in skillet

6: Cook until bubbles form on the surface and flip

7: Cook until done through and top with syrup (I use sugar free)

Exercise, Other, Progress

Deadlift Your Way to Better Movement

The overall strength movement that gets the biggest negative reputation anywhere besides the fitness industry is the deadlift. There are plenty of deadlift fail videos out there, with the lifters fainting, falling, rounded/breaking backs, you name it. But what if I told you that there is no other movement as effective for total body strengthening than the deadlift? Along with that, did you know that the deadlift directly relates to everyday movement? Let’s dig deeper into the deadlift:

Deadlifts 101

The deadlift is a total body strengthening movement. It begins with a hip hinge, training proper lifting from the floor, as well as core strength and stability, upper body strength and stability, and posterior chain (glutes and hamstring) strength and stability. The biggest fear with the deadlift is that the lower back is in danger, but, with proper form, the deadlift will greatly reduce your risk for lower back injury and reduce lower back pain. The stronger your core is, no just your abs, but your actual deep core, the less stress that is placed on your lower back. As well, the main imbalances many people have include weak glutes/hamstrings and weak mid backs. These imbalances tend to be the leading cause of both lower back and knee pain. The deadlift actually trains these weak areas, increasing the strength, stability, and endurance of these muscles, helping to alleviate the imbalance.

There are many different deadlift variations, all with similar, yet different outcomes. The conventional deadlift involves feet around hip width apart, with toes pointing forward, and hands on the bar outside of your feet. The conventional deadlift is more of a true hip hinge, and recruits more glutes, with also more lat and mid back engagement. The sumo stance deadlift involves a wide stance, with toes pointing out. Your hands will be inside of your feet on the bar. The sumo stance deadlift recruits more glute, quads, and less back, as you are more upright in the starting position. The romanian deadlift, and stiff leg deadlift, are also true hip hinge movements, with more of an emphasis on hamstring strength, as the knees stay straight, but not locked out. Depending on the intention of the movement, each variation is incredibly efficient in strengthening the intended muscles. Deadlifts tend to be best programmed for strength (3-6 sets, 1-6 repetitions), as they can be loaded, and the load helps to translate to everyday life. However, deadlifts can also be programmed for hypertrophy (3-5 sets, 6-12 repetitions), which also helps lead to overall movement and strength gains.

To begin to learn the deadlift, learn the hip hinge. Once you properly learn to hinge from the hips, rather than bend from the lower back, you can continue to progress in the movement. As well, begin to learn the deadlift with a dumbbell or kettlebell, as there is less chance for form slips. Once you can easily do a hinge with a kettlebell or dumbbell, you can progress to a hexagon barbell or a barbell, as long as you are sure to maintain proper form.

The movement itself is not flexion/extension of the lower back, but a drive through the hip hinge, using the legs as the main movers. This helps to teach the movement pattern that you should lift through your legs, not your back. The deadlift also teaches you how to properly brace your core, and pull your shoulder blades back, helping to reinforce proper posture. The deadlift is not a scary movement, and should be incorporated into programming for a healthy, strong body.

Tips for a Successful Deadlift

1: Start light! Learn the movement first, then begin to progress in weight or volume.

2: Keep feet as close to the barbell as possible to begin the movement.

3: Keep core braced the entire time. Pull your belly button in towards your spine (while still breathing) to fully brace your core.

4: Vary the set and repetition amounts to get all the benefits from a proper deadlift.

Conventional Deadlift:

Sumo Deadlift

Romanian (Stiff Leg) Deadlift

Exercise, Other, Progress

Say Goodbye to Slouching

Hey, you! Yeah, you right there. Are you sitting on the couch or at your desk, or maybe even laying in bed, right now, digital device in front of you, shoulders slouching? I bet you are. Because of how sedentary our lives are now, with driving and sitting for work, our posture doesn’t need to work nearly as hard. Whether you try to prevent it or not, a mainly sedentary lifestyle (I’m guilty of slouching on the couch too, don’t worry) causes our muscles to develop some strange imbalances. The main muscular imbalance I see (besides those pesky glutes, read more about that one here) is an overactive upper back and chest, with no other muscle helping to oppose it. This causes that round in your shoulders, and that slouching that I’m sure you’re trying to break yourself of.

Of course, you can try and maintain a “shoulders back, chest up” posture 24/7, but that’s actually harder than you think. Especially when it is from muscles pulling your body into this position, just practicing good posture isn’t enough. We need to get to the root of the problem, which is the overactive and tight muscles. So what do we do for tight muscles? We try to lengthen the tissue that is tight, while also strengthening those muscles that aren’t doing so hot at holding your body in the right place. Lengthening tissue, such as with stretching and foam rolling, is only a temporary fix, not lending itself to any long term results unless the stretches are done daily. This, as well as many other aspects of fitness, benefits greatly from consistency over anything else. To help with upper back tightness, and those dreaded rounded shoulders, we need to stretch both the trapezius muscle (your upper back) and your chest and front of shoulder muscles. This will allow for your shoulders to have enough leeway to gravitate back down, instead of being elevated, and also allows for the shoulders to be able to roll back into their place.

The next step in correcting your upper back tightness is to strengthen some muscles. We are definitely staying away from any exercise that activates the trapezius or chest muscles. The first muscle we need to activate is your serratus. This is the muscle that holds your shoulder blades down flush against the rib cage. With the serratus strengthened sufficiently, you don’t need to worry about your shoulders rounding forward, as you have a strong muscle holding them back and against your body. The serratus is also essential to efficient overhead pressing (and healthy shoulders). Serratus exercises involve gaining control over the motion of your scapula, and they are very different from the normal exercises I show you (and awkward and hard at first, but please just do your best and stick with it. They get easier!) The one thing to remember is to perform these exercises with your shoulder blades as down and back as you possibly can!

(Each exercise is a progression on the first)

Exercise 1: locked shoulder blade rocking (20 reps)

Exercise 2: Scap Pushup (8-10 Reps) Squeeze shoulder blades together for a second and then spread shoulder blades apart as far as possible.

Exercise 3: Scap Pushup to Downward Dog (8 Reps) Don’t let Shoulder blades rise in the downward dog!

As well, the mid back muscles, such as the rhomboids, are muscles that will actively oppose the shoulders migrating upwards and forwards. The rear delts are the last muscle we want to strengthen to oppose the sedentary lifestyle. Rear delts directly oppose the forces of the front of your shoulder, helping to keep them upright, rather than rounding. Keeping these exercises between hypertrophy ranges and endurance ranges for workouts will help to build the muscle strength and size, as well as allow them to get used to working and holding for long periods of time.

Exercise 1: Face Pulls (12-15 Reps)

Exercise 2: Reverse Pec Dec (12-15 reps)

Exercise 3: Chest Supported Rear Delt Fly (10-15 Reps)

All rear delt exercises should be performed with shoulders down, and the motion lead by the elbows.

Exercise 4: Barbell Bent Over Row (6-10 Reps)

Exercise 5: Chest Supported Row (6-10 Reps)

Keep Shoulders down and back, and squeeze shoulder blades together to get rhomboids activated!

Exercise, Opinion, Other

Ladies, Don’t Be Afraid to Lift Your Weights

Year after year, female client after female client, it’s always the same. “I want to tone,” “I don’t want to get big and bulky,” and all sorts of variations. This blog is going to discuss the reasons why women won’t get bulk by accident, and it’s going to be short and sweet.

To get started, let’s look into how you even get “bulky.” Muscle bulk is simply muscle hypertrophy, or the tissue getting larger from increased stress and volume placed on the tissues. As well, testosterone in the body plays a big part in muscle tissue increase, in both and men and women. Testosterone is the main anabolic hormone in the body, assisting to build muscle size and strength, along with human growth hormone (HGH). However, women have between 15-20% less testosterone in their body than men, and that testosterone is much less respondent to training stimulus. Estrogen and progesterone levels in women are also much higher than in men, with these hormones being catabolic, or contributing to tissue breakdown, they keep muscle at bay. With our body’s build and hormone makeup, it is actually physically impossible for women’s muscle size to get to be as large as a man’s.

I know what you’re thinking, “Molly, what about those crazy looking women bodybuilders?” (Also, those body builders have worked hard on their physique, and whether you agree with it or not, it should be admired.) As well, those bodybuilders can not achieve the size or definition that they have without artificial help. Anabolic steroids are artificial sources of hormones, such as testosterone or HGH, that push muscle growth further than the body could achieve alone. Even so, those female bodybuilders work incredibly hard to build that size, so even with anabolic steroids, being big and bulky doesn’t just happen.

So now, how do I get toned? Easy. We increase our muscle mass (naturally, by lifting weights and keeping our volume within 3-5 sets of 8-12 repetitions), and decrease our body fat. Being toned is nothing more than having a low enough body fat to see the muscle tone underneath. If you feel that you are getting too large of muscles from lifting, either decrease the repetitions to a strength range (1-6 repetitions) or increase them to an endurance range (12-20 repetitions). However you want to do it, lifting weights and increasing muscle size and strength has incredible health benefits. Resistance training has been shown to increase lean body mass, leading to better body composition, increase bone density and decrease the risk of osteoporosis, and also help increase stability and decrease the risk of injury. Don’t stray away from resistance training simply because you are afraid of getting big. It takes more energy and effort to get bulky than you realize, and I promise it won’t happen by accident.


Going for PRs, Not Broke

Now that you’re armed with budget friendly gym options and alternatives and how to get your nutrition on point for next to nothing, we get to talk about the fun stuff. This post is all about looking (fitness) ballin on a budget. Many times you see a girl, or guy, in some cute workout gear and some awesome looking shoes, and you’ll ask where their clothes are from and you get the dreaded “Lululemon” or “Athleta” or even “Nike.” I love Nike probably more than the next gal, but my bank account does not. Since I only wear workout clothes, and the occasional jeans or jean shorts if I’m feeling fancy, I’ve gathered an arsenal of cute workout clothes you can get for less than a single pair of Lululemon pants (like come on, are they really worth the $100+ for one pair??)


I’m a big Amazon lover. There’s nothing better than browsing the app for tons of things you don’t even need, and it gets delivered so quick, sometimes even same day! Usually I tend to stay away from buying clothes online because I never know how it’s going to fit or if it’ll even look like what I ordered. However, I bit the bullet and ordered some leggings from Amazon, all pairs being $17! Not only are these leggings budget friendly, but they are squat proof (no see through butts here!) and hold up to being worn several days a week and washed constantly. The two brands I have ordered from Amazon, and loved, are Oalka and 90 degrees by Reflex. The 90 degree ones you can also find at TJ Maxx and Marshalls, but they tend to be a few dollars more, still around $20. As well, name brand shoes, such as Nikes, can be on sale depending on the shoe color and size, so keep an eye out for great deals on shoes!

Speaking of, TJ Maxx and Marshalls are amazing places to pick up activewear. They have big name brands (I’m talking Reebok, Calvin Klein, and sometimes Nike) at super prices! Usually the tops range between $10 and $20 and the leggings are between $15 and $30-40, depending on the brand. As well, these stores tend to have really great deals on sneakers, but can be hit or miss depending on your size. These stores are a really great alternative to online shopping, as you can actually try on the clothes in store, or if you’re really into those brand name shenanigans on a budget!

The last amazing store I’ve encountered for workout clothes on a budget is… TARGET! I know, like you really needed another reason to go spend all of your money at Target. But, if you’re going to be in there, browsing for stuff you probably don’t need, you might as well look at the activewear to help motivate you to hit your goals. I recently went on a shopping spree to target and was pleasantly surprised with the selection. The leggings ranged from crazy prints and colors to just black but with cute cut outs and other details. The leggings were hit or miss depending on the material, but the ones I love, I really love. They are comfortable and cute, only costing me about $20-$25 per pair. The sports bras were also an awesome surprise, being cute and very comfortable, while also being sufficiently supportive. They also have a plethora of support options, from minimal to maximum, depending on your body and activity needs. The sports bras ranged from $15-$20 and are incredibly worth it, in my opinion. Last, but not least, the workout tops. I’m usually someone who works out in an old tank top or t-shirt, but these shirts were too cute to pass up. They are perfectly loose and flowy, while still staying relatively close to the body (so no indecent exposure here!), and come in so many different colors and cuts. I highly recommend browsing Target for your workout wear needs.


Another thing I really don’t recommend skimping on. Yes, you can technically get through a workout wearing any old shoes, but your shoes matter. Sneakers wear out over time, especially if you wear sneakers daily or are an avid runner. Once your shoes wear out, they can actually throw off your movement, putting your joints and body in a position that can set you up for injury. I recommend heading to a running store to get fitted for shoes that work for you personally. Some people have higher arches, some need more ankle support, some need more stability for heavy lifts, the main point is that everyone’s feet needs are different. I personally don’t skimp on sneakers, but a great place to get quality sneakers at a low price is an outlet mall! Nike and Under Armor outlets have great quality sneakers at bargain prices, for sometime no reason other than the color. Besides splurging on high quality sneakers for your body, be sure to have a few different pairs in rotation so they don’t wear out as quickly.


I know you’re probably wondering what accessories I’m talking about, but bear with me. So, by accessories, I am referring to the miscellaneous shenanigans that tend to help you out along your fitness journey, but aren’t clothes, shoes, or equipment.

Recovery Accessories

I’m talking about your foam rollers and your massaging sticks and all. These recovery tools are incredibly useful for keeping your body loose and knot free, helping with quicker recovery. Pro Tip: hit up TJ Maxx and Marshalls! Right near the activewear section, there tends to be a little display that has a whole bunch of fitness accessories, including massage sticks and foam rollers! I always recommend to clients that they check out these stores for a relatively cheap foam roller. As well, check out Amazon for foam rollers and recovery accessories.


TJ Maxx and Marshalls are your best friend, if we’re being honest. That same end cap that has a plethora of foam rollers also has a bunch of other fitness accessories on it. Obviously each display is different, but most have water bottles, shaker bottles, and weight lifting gloves on them. This is a great way to get shaker bottles (which can be $15-$20 in nutrition stores) for around $5! Check out these stores for great deals on all of those accessories that you might not think are important, and don’t want to spend a great deal of money on, so you can be all set for your workouts!


I recommend splurging on socks. Honestly, I’m not going to tell you that budget socks won’t get the job done, but now that I’ve made the switch to special runner’s socks, I don’t think I can go back. Even when I’m not running, these socks are more comfortable than the basics. These socks have special arch supporting contours, and also tend to come with extra cushion in them to help support you while you run. I buy mine at Fit 2 Run, but they are called feetures, and worth every penny.

Opinion, Other

Mental Health Matters

Talk to anyone you meet in a day and I guarantee, at some point, they’ll mention how stressed they are. And I don’t doubt that they are in the least. It seems like everyone, whether in person or on social media, is incredibly stressed these days. It affects so many people that it almost seems like stress is trendy. It could be because of work, finances, personal relationships, or something health or fitness related, but one way or another, we’re all stressed. A big part of health (and yes, health AND fitness) that is rarely talked about is mental health. I try to be very open in all aspects of my health and wellness, including the parts that I personally lack. Taking care of your mind will do nothing but allow you to take care of your physical being, and help to increase your quality of life.

The first topic I’d like to brush on is disordered eating and diagnosed eating disorders. A good amount of fitness influencers, professionals, and competitors either come from a place of disordered eating, whether it be over or under eating, or have developed one in the process. This is a big problem in the fitness industry, where you don’t have the balance of “fit life” and real life, almost diminishing what you do to take care of yourself if you aren’t going to an extreme. I’ve talked about my previous issues with eating, with developing binge eating disorder and having extreme guilt associated with food, and I understand those feelings and where you feel like food is the enemy and hindering your dream “fit” life. This isn’t normal, and it isn’t healthy. If you are struggling with these feelings, try to reach out and talk to someone about it. I know it seems like you’re the only one dealing with this, especially in the fitness world, but you aren’t. You shouldn’t be afraid of calories, but grateful to them for powering you through your daily activities. It is more than possible to hit your goals without developing, or exasperating these thoughts, so don’t let that discourage you. Yes, eating disorders, and those similar disordered eating habits, are a big part of mental illness, especially in the health and fitness industry, but there are other issues you can have that affect either your fitness journey or your life.

Stress is defined as “a physical, mental, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension.” Stress is a real thing. It can not only fluster you, but it can seemingly overwhelm your entire day. When you feel stressed, it activates the “fight or flight” response in your body, whether you’re actually under attack or not. That’s right, mental stress releases the same response to a physical threat (and who says mental illness isn’t a real thing, am I right?) Basically, in the fight or flight response, your nervous system releases a whole bunch of hormones to prepare you for this huge stressor. The main two hormones are adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline is what causes your heart rate to increase and your mental awareness to peak. We’ve seen cortisol before, it is the stress hormone I’ve mentioned in previous posts that can wreak havoc on your waistline. Excessive cortisol can have adverse affects on your body besides weight gain, including fatigue and anxiety. Having so much stress in your life can actually increase your chances for more stress, such as feeling tired all the time or increasing anxiety. The best way I’ve learned to prevent this mental health snowball is to actively perform stress relieving techniques daily.

My favorite ways to relieve stress:

1. Workout (duh). Working out releases endorphins in your brain, and as Elle Woods says, “Exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins make you happy, and happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.” She’s right.

2. Get enough sleep. Having enough good quality sleep allows your body the time it needs to recover from the day, both physically and mentally. Even slight sleep deprivation can have adverse effects, including impaired memory and mood, and contributes to weight gain.

3. Journal. This one I can’t stress enough (see what I did there?). I discovered journaling in my junior year of college, when I took a course called “Writing for the Means of Self Discovery.” I learned so much about myself, and I was truly able to let go of some deep stressors. Now, it’s been a bit since college, and I got out of the habit. A very smart friend of mine, and possibly someone who is the most in tune I’ve ever seen with their mental health, re-introduced me to journaling. When I feel stressed or anxious, I just write whatever comes to mind. Usually by the time I’m done writing, I’ve either solved my problem myself, or I’ve calmed myself down enough to carry on.

Sometimes, you can prevent and prevent all you want, but there’s just nothing you can do. Anxiety is a whole different monster than just stress. Anxiety is being overwhelmed by worrying and fear until you honestly can’t do anything but worry. I have experienced, and still do experience, anxiety attacks in my life. I don’t say that I suffer from them because I don’t feel like it’s a suffering, but more so a part of my life that I go through and learn from. That doesn’t mean that others do not suffer from their mental illnesses, that is just my personal take on my own situation. When I experience an anxiety attack, nothing else matters. I can’t think straight, I start to go hysterical and it takes quite a bit to calm me down. I try to implement my stress relief techniques, but sometimes you just have to let it pass. That’s something I have learned in my experiences, sometimes you can’t do anything about what’s happening. It’s a scary feeling, but sometimes once you let go against the attack, you can actually allow it to pass, calm down, and move forward.

The biggest lesson I have learned in my experiences with all mental disorders is that it’s not my fault. I’ve always felt weird, or that something about me is abnormal, because of the way my mind works and the feelings I have. However, I’m not. I’ve come to realize that so many people experience stress, panic/anxiety attacks, or suffer from depression or another mental illness, but no one really talks about it. It’s not weird and you shouldn’t be ashamed of anything you are feeling. Yes, it can affect your health and fitness journey, as eating disorders wreak havoc on your body and mind, excessive stress can lead to weight gain, and anxiety can keep you out of the gym, but health and fitness is not just about your physical body. You cannot be healthy if your mind isn’t. However, just because you have a mental disorder doesn’t mean you aren’t healthy! Just remember: mental health and mental health care is just as important, if not more so, than physical health care.