Health and Fitness. You just have to keep working.

It gets coooooold here in Utah over the winter months.  Usually starts in October and feels like it lasts for the rest of forever.  It usually starts to warm up in late April or early May. That means a lot of exercising inside instead of outside.

This year I asked Santa for a bike trainer and I have LOVED riding the bike while I catch up on my DVR shows (when I exercise is usually the only time I have to watch shows).  I generally burn as many calories on the bike as I do when I run, but it doesn’t hurt as much.  I’m a huge fan of watching The Biggest Loser when I work out.

health and fitness--keep working.Most recently I’ve been watching Fit to Fat to Fit.  I read the book Fit2Fat2Fit by Drew Manning a while ago.  Drew is a personal trainer and felt like he wasn’t reaching his heaviest clients.  So he went on a mission to gain over 70 pounds so he could understand what it was like to be fat.  And then he went through the journey of losing the weight.  Crazy brave if you ask me.  And super interesting.

Now the book has been turned into a TV series where several different trainers gain weight and then lose it with someone who has been struggling to lose weight.  Again, crazy brave.


Several months ago I got a Dexa Scan (which is a post for another time).  At the time I felt I was in pretty decent shape though a few pounds had creeped on over the months as I became more lax about the things I was eating (aka, eating whatever the heck I wanted). But the Dexa scan showed otherwise and unfortunately the Dexa Scan doesn’t lie.  My body fat percentage was WAY higher than I’d like it to be.  While still in what is considered the “normal” range, it was much higher than I felt it should be for the amount and intensity of exercise I was doing 5-6 times per week.  My V02 max (the test they use to measure your endurance and “fit” level) was above superior.  But my body composition wasn’t what it should be.  The classic example of skinny/fat.  Even though I was in good “shape” and could do intense cardio activities, I have more fat in my body than I should (to be healthy–this has nothing to do with vanity or what I look like)

It was proof to me that the FOOD we put in our bodies is about 80% of the battle.

So the past several months I’ve been more conscious of what goes IN my body.  Trying to eat REAL food.  I will never, ever be able to give up some things (like pizza) but I have been trending in the right direction when it comes to what I was eating.  But the past month, I’ve been feeling worse.  Headaches, Migraines, fatigue, sore muscles, periodic stomach aches, and occasional lack of appetite.

So when I went down Wednesday with extreme stomach cramps, no appetite, and utter exhaustion, I was incredibly frustrated.  I told my husband “screw the healthy lifestyle if I’m going to feel like crap anyway.  Bring me all the food.”  I was discouraged.  Despite my best efforts of being more conscious of what was going in and really focusing on efficient exercise (high intensity interval training, time-limited cardio–no more than 60 minutes, and more weight training) I wasn’t feeling like I thought I should be feeling.

Then I started the never ending battle of wanting to work hard and just not caring.

But I woke up Thursday, climbed on the bike, turned on Fit to Fat to Fit and was immediately reminded that the journey to good health is just that.  A journey.  A long, HARD journey.  And results take time.  Hard work, conscious eating, and TIME.  A hard reality when I want visible results yesterday.

The only way to get to where we want to get in any aspect of our life, we just have to keep putting in the work.  Keep trying.  Keep working.  Keep doing.  And one day, we’ll get where we want to be.  If nothing else, we’ll be better than we were yesterday if we keep plugging along at our goals one day at a time.  Something I’m having to remind myself of every single day.

All I know is I better have the nicest toned arms at the end of all of this….

Keep at it my friends.  “A year from now, you’ll have wished you started today.”

ELEVEN tips to help with your fitness goals

After I had my last baby, I started taking more interest in my health and fitness level.  I’ve always been very active, but never focused much on truly being healthy.  And being strong. I shared my weight loss experience and how I lost all my baby weight (from all four babies that added up over time–over 50 pounds) in my “Getting Healthy” series which you can read about here.  

Today I wanted to share some of the things that help me reach all my health and fitness goals.  I’m currently training for a marathon in May (well, still trying to talk myself into this one–it’s a huge time commitment), a triathlon sometime this summer, and a Spartan race in August (soooooo excited to do a Spartan race for the first time).  All of these things below I use on a regular (or daily) basis to help me train and reach all of my fitness and health goals.


ONE:  Photive PH-BTE70 Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds

Things to help you reach your fitness goalsCan we talk about how many times I’ve launched my phone across the room from hitting the chord on my earphones while running on the treadmill.  An embarrassing number of times.  It’s a really good thing I have a tough-as-nails case for my phone.  It’s been airborne and I’ve nearly had a Youtube worthy spill trying to dodge it more times than I’m comfortable with.

These wireless earbuds are my favorite.  No more flying phone on the treadmill.  And no more tangled chords when I’m running outside or riding my bike.  I can put my phone anywhere near me and they work great.  And they stay in my ears super well, even when doing high intensity activities (like burpees).  By far one of my favorite purchases lately.


TWO:  Polar FT4 Heart Rate Monitor

Polar Heart Rate monitor--great help for achieving fitness goalsThis is one thing I wish I would have used when I was initially trying to lose all my baby weight.  You can read all about this Polar Heart rate monitor here and why it will make losing weight easier here.    Definitely worth the investment to get some sort of heart rate monitor (doesn’t have to be this kind–I’ve had a few but like this one the best).


THREE:  Camelbak Eddy Bottle

Things to help you reach your fitness goalsIf there’s one thing I’ve learned, drinking loads and loads of water makes a HUGE difference in losing and maintaining weight.  I leave a water bottle out on my counter and take one in the car with me so I remember to drink all day long.  I don’t know the science behind it, but drinking more water makes a difference.  I like Camelbak water bottles.  I also like the bottles with hard straws so I can take quick sips every time I walk by.


FOUR:  Procompression Socks

Pro compression socks. Things to help you reach your fitness goals.I’m new on the compression socks bandwagon and I plan to stay on the bandwagon.  I LOVE these socks for days I do long runs or sprints.  They’re comfortable, they’re cute, and they help my legs feel better.  True story.  They’re awesome.  I get the Procompression brand–they always have GREAT sales so keep your eyes out for those and stock up!  I often wear them for hours after I’m done doing long runs as well.


FIVE:  Good Shoes

Nike Free 5.0. Things to help you reach your fitness goals.This one will be different for every person.  But investing in GOOD shoes that fit your feet right is important.  I’ve tried a lot of different brands of shoes.  Right now, I’m loving the Nike Women’s Free 5.0+ Running Shoe  for running.  After reading the book Born to Run, I decided to try a more “free” type shoe and loved them.  It took my feet some time to get used to not having much padding, but now these shoes work great for me.  I have a different pair of shoes when I do cross-training stuff (exercise videos or lifting).  My suggestion is to go to a store that is specifically catered to selling running/exercise shoes and do a running test on their treadmill.  They can give great suggestions for what type of shoes work well for the way you run/exercise and for your specific feet.  Or they can give recommendations for cross-training shoes (activities other than running).  I personally like something light-weight and not bulky.  And the arch has to hit my foot in just the right place.


SIX:  Garmin Vivoactive

I don’t have the Vivoactive, but I’d love one.  They track a lot of things I’d love to track.  And you can get a chest strap for these so it can read your heart rate (as talked about above).  They can also track distance for exercise.

I do not have a step tracker (Fitbit, Nike Fuel, Jawbone, etc.).  You can see what I discovered when I wore 7 different pedometers on the same day at the same time here.  It was really interesting.


SEVEN:  Garmin 305 Forerunner

Garmin Forerunner. Things to help you reach your fitness goals.This is what I have for tracking distance when I run or bike.  Although lately I’ve been using my phone more.  I use the app Map My Run (you can change the setting for when you’re biking).  I also hear great things about the app Strava.  If I didn’t already have this, I’d invest in a Vivoactive.


EIGHT:  BlenderBottle

Things to help you reach your fitness goals.This is great to put my protein shake in after I exercise.  I make this protein shake often and love having the Blender Bottle to put it in.  The little wire ball helps keep the shake mixed up.  And it’s the perfect size to hold my after-exercise shakes.


NINE:  Good exercise clothes

Things to help you reach your fitness goals.This will sound super shallow, but having “cute” workout clothes I think makes a difference.  If you’re wearing a baggy t-shirt and 10 year old sweat shorts, I think you feel different than when you’re wearing something you feel good in.  Does that make sense?  The clothes we wear can often affect the way we act and the way we feel.  So I recommend investing in some exercise clothes that make you feel like a bad a**.   And lay those clothes out the night before so you’re all ready to put them on and exercise the next morning!  I like to get clothes from the Nike outlet (I especially like Nike’s running shorts) or the Under Armor outlet when they have good sales.  Old Navy sometimes has some good exercise clothes as well.


TEN:  Exercise Program or specific goal.

You have to find some sort of program you like.  Or set a specific goal.  If you’re working toward something, it makes exercising so much easier.  I did the BeachBody program Insanity to lose my baby weight.  My husband likes P90x (I didn’t so much).  I’ve also done T-25, Insanity Max:30, P90X3, and Body Pump.  I like having a set number of days, knowing exactly what to do each day, and working toward that goal.  I’ve also trained for several races which helps me know how much to run and when to do it.

If you don’t like exercise programs, try joining a gym like Crossfit or OrangeTheory fitness where you go to a set class and have some accountability to show up.  Or come up with a specific workout program to do at home so you aren’t aimlessly making up things to do each day.  You do NOT have to go to a gym to lose weight.  But having specific goals and/0r programs can definitely help us be more efficient in the time we spend trying to lose weight/gain muscle and be healthy.


ELEVEN:  The right food at the right time.

I shared some of the food I ate while losing weight here.  People say abs are made in the kitchen.  And a widely used statistic is weight loss success is 80% food and 20% exercise.  You can’t out-exercise bad eating habits.  Eating the right kind of “real” food (at the right times) can make a HUGE difference in your success.  I also shared a few good food finds here.

I also share a bunch of super good healthy (and easy–easy is my jam) recipes on my Pinterest boards (come follow me there!).    I’d also recommend following @cleansimpleeats on Instagram.  I have no affiliation with her (don’t know her personally) but she shares a lot of really good recipes.


Getting healthy, getting strong, staying healthy, losing weight–it’s all a LOT of work.  And it’s hard to find time.  But if we’re smart about it and set ourselves up for success, it’s completely doable.  We make time for what matters most to us.  And health should certainly be on that list.  Here are a few more tips to help you on your journey to good health.

If YOU have anything that has helped you on your fitness journey, I’d LOVE for you to share them with me.

(affiliate links to amazon included in this post.  Nothing is sponsored.  I just use and LOVE these products.)

Hiking Lone Peak mountain

Last summer for our anniversary, Mike and I decided to spend the weekend being active. Doing things we normally can’t do with 4 kids. My sister took the kids for the weekend (we very rarely leave them) and we beat up our bodies. Friday we went paddle boarding down the Provo River (we actually did it twice it was so much fun). Saturday we spent the entire day mountain biking in Park City. My kind of mountain biking. You ride the ski lift to the top and just ride your mountain bike down. I only flipped over my handle bars once so I call it a success. Mike nearly got blinded from all the mud that I was spraying in his face but he’s looked at these MTB Goggles since then so it won’t happen again!

And Sunday, we decided to summit Lone Peak in honor of our 12 successful years of marriage. We’ve both hiked mountains before. And we aren’t beginners in the outdoors, but we definitely weren’t prepared for this. Mike’s famous phrase for the day was “I have no business being on this mountain.” It was hard. Really hard. But SO so cool. Something I’ll never forget. Truly an experience of a lifetime. It was a go big or go home kind of weekend.


I took our GoPro along with us and took little video clips of the trail the entire way up. The terrain changes quite a bit from the bottom to the top. I pieced together those video clips in this video. If you ever plan to hike Lone Peak, this gives you a quick idea of what it will be like. If you never plan to hike Lone Peak, you now to get to enjoy a 10 minute cliff-notes version.

And the photo version.

Starts out as a dirt path that goes virtually straight up. It’s called Jacob’s Ladder and the ladder part is no joke. It was like a ladder. Up. Up. Up. Steep. DCIM100GOPRO



I remember getting to this point and seeing that peak way off in the distance. We’d already hiked a tough part and seeing this I realized how far we still had to go. But the views were unbeatable and the entire way up I kept thinking “this is so amazing”.


Then you hit a meadow. It’s the only “flat” part of the entire trek. We saw a tent in there. Some people hike to the meadow, camp there overnight, and then head for the summit the next day.


And then come the rocks. And the giant boulders. And “the chute” as I called it (big rocks, straight up).


After the meadow there’s no clearly defined trail. So you have to follow Cairns the rest of the way up (man-made stack of rocks to show the way). They were generally pretty easy to spot.


And then the final summit. The part I was definitely not prepared for. I was ready to turn back. I was high enough. It was good enough. And the views were incredible. But Mike kindly stepped passed me and said “we’re going to the top”. And so we did. And I was shaking. And more scared for my life than I’ve ever been before. I hike. I don’t climb. We had no ropes. And the drop was straight down on both sides. One bad step, one missed hand hold and it would have been bad news. I’m not a huge risk-taker nor have I ever been climbing (like, real climbing, not just hiking) so this was all new to me. I’m sure people who do this kind of thing a lot wouldn’t have been as nervous as me. But I was truly scared.


There were two people sitting on the summit as we made our final ascent. And they encouraged me from above. Told me which ways to go and which ways not to go. Were it not for Mike (and those two strangers who had already walked the “trail”) I’m sure I never would have done it. By the time we made it to the very small tippy-top, I was terrified. And I couldn’t stay on the top for long for the fear I had of doing that last part all over again so I could get back down. And for some reason the video I took up there didn’t record. Boo.


Proof I made it as high as possible.


But. I can definitely say it was worth it. Despite my terror. The views were unbeatable. The terrain was varied. The scenery was breath taking. The physical journey was incredibly demanding. And making it to the top was satisfaction I haven’t had in a long, long time.




I turned on RunKeeper on my phone to track how far it was to the top. From our car at the base of the Jacob’s Ladder trail to the very top of Lone Peak, it registered as 5.67 miles. And took us 5:54 to get there. We went slooooooow. And had to take a lot of breaks.


I also wore my heart rate monitor the entire day cause I’m curious like that. From our car to the top of Lone Peak and back to the car it took us a total of 9:51 and said I burned 5868 calories. Just under 10 hours. We’re not fast hikers. You better believe I went and bought a pizza after we were done and ate nearly the entire thing by myself.


The way down was much more physically taxing for us than the way up. My quads were shot and having to get down those huge boulders on the way down and then the really steep part of Jacob’s Ladder was tough. The last hour I was hurtin’. Bad.

But we made it. And it was truly incredible. And I’ll probably do it again at some point. Just need to let enough time pass so I forget a few things. 🙂


For anyone interested in doing this hike, a few tips.

*Try to go when it isn’t super hot. We really lucked out and the weather was unseasonably cool when we went. I can’t imagine what the hike would have been like it it was hot.

*Bring plenty of water. We each had a full Camelbak and 4 disposable water bottles each. Even though it wasn’t hot, we still went through almost all our water.

*Pack in good food that is sure to give you energy. We had a lot of Powerbars, trailmix, high energy, easy to grab and eat as we walked kind of food. We also packed in lunch (peanut butter sandwiches). You need a lot of calorie energy to get through this long day hike.

*Make sure your phone is charged. Weirdly enough, I had cell reception on the peak and was in the middle of FaceTime with my kids and my phone died. Boo.

*Make sure you start early enough in the day to finish before it gets dark. We had plenty of time before the sun set, but we didn’t want to end up on the mountain in the dark.

*If you have a GoPro, definitely take it. I wish I would have worn ours strapped to my head while we hiked the last part to get to the summit. And it was great to have to take our photos on the top.

*Bring a jacket. It gets chilly up on top. It’s probably best to layer.

*Make sure you have a camera. Duh. I used our GoPro and my cell phone camera (iPhone 5s) for all my photos. And I love the panoramic shot I took while we stood on the peak.

*After you finish the dirt trail part of Jacob’s Ladder, you have to follow cairns the rest of the way up. For the most part they were easy to find. A few times we had to search. Just keep going up and you’ll stumble on them again. There seemed to be a few different ways to get up.

*I personally would wait until all the snow is gone. Hiking this in the snow, especially the final ridge, would be pretty difficult.

*Go with good company. And someone who doesn’t complain. Or it’s going to be a long, awful day. I’d love to take my kids one day, but it will be years (and years and years) before any of them are ready for a hike like that.


And just for fun, since I didn’t do this, here’s a video I found on YouTube of the final stretch to the summit. Makes me a little sick to my stomach to watch and remember how terrified I was. I gotta build up my bravery for hiking.

100 Burpee Challenge

I get a little burned out on my various workouts every now and then and am always on the lookout for new things to help me stay in shape.

I’m planning to run the Big Cottonwood Half Marathon this September so I’ll be doing a lot of running, but I’ve been looking for something new for cross-training throughout the week.

In my searching I came across a site called the 12 minute athlete.  I haven’t fully looked into it yet, nor have I done any of the workouts so I can’t say it works, but I saw her post something about a “100 Burpee Challenge”.

So today, I decided to try it.  I’m always up for a challenge.  And she said “Doing 100 burpees in a row is an awesome way to gauge your fitness level”

Here were the guidelines for time:

12+ minutes:  You’re an athlete in training!  Way to work hard, and don’t stop pushing.
10-12 minutes:  You’re an athlete!  Awesome job getting past those mental blocks.
8-10 minutes:  You’re a super athlete!  You’re strong and in great conditioning shape
6-8 minutes:  You’re a total badass!  You have some serious burpee skills.
4-6 minutes:  You’re the ultimate badass!  Be very, very proud.

I’ve never done a burpee before.  I’ve done a few things that are kind of similar in Insanity, but never done an actual burpee.  Like, ever. 

And I ran 8 miles last Saturday.  So I’d like to think I’m in pretty good shape.

I did the 100 burpee challenge.  After I did 20 I was seriously questioning whether I was going to be able to finish.

I finished.

And it took me SIXTEEN minutes.  16.  16 1/2 actually.  But I didn’t cheat on a single burpee.  I went all the way down and I jumped after  I did consider lying about my time just now.  But I resisted.

It was humbling.  And made me realize I have some work to do on my overall body strength.  I’m going to work on my burpee skills and try again in a month.  I’m blaming it on my arms.

Anyone want to try this with me??  It kicked my butt, but I’m up for the challenge of improvement.

{I wore a Heart Rate monitor while I did it and will post about the benefits of having a HRM and how many calories I burned during this exercise in a future post coming soon.}

And because no post feels complete without a picture.  Photo Credit:  Carter, 4 years old.  Added blur for artistic expression.  

My truth about running.

I spent some time watching the Live camera on the Boston finish line on Monday.  It was a much different experience than the year before, when I was glued to the TV and on the phone hoping my friends who had run the race were okay.

This year, I was tracking 2 of my cousins and a friend and was hoping to see them cross the finish line.  Running the Boston marathon is a BIG deal.  And I hope I can do it one day.  Just gotta shave large amounts of time off my race pace.  🙂  But watching all those people cross that finish line got me thinking about running.  And why I’m compelled to do it.

Here’s the truth about running for me.

It’s not always easy.  Or fun.  In fact, more often than not, it’s HARD.  And it hurts.

But there’s something about running that cleanses the soul.  Clears the mind.  Squashes the stress.  And makes life feel just a little bit (or sometimes a lot) better.

Running is a lot like parenthood.  90% of the time it’s hard.  And painful.  And sometimes you’d rather not do all that hard stuff.  But then there’s the other 10%.  The days where you feel like you could run forever.  And you feel great.  And strong.  And “light”.  And that 10% of running euphoria makes the other 90% worth fighting through.  

I love to run.  But I didn’t always feel that way.  I remember one of my college roomates was an accomplished marathon runner and I used to think she was crazy.  Why on earth would anyone want to run that far and hurt that much?  And then I ran one.  And I understood.

There’s something pretty profound about pushing your body to its limits.  And forcing your mind to be stronger than the pain.  The feeling that comes after a race (and even during) is why all those “crazy” people run long distance races.

And I don’t run every day.  My main source of exercise when i’m not training for a race is either Insanity, T-25, or Body Pump.  But when I really need some good think time and soul cleansing, I run.

The hardest part about running for me, is the first 5 or 10 minutes.  Even though I enjoy running (usually when I’m done), it’s often hard for me to get myself going.  And sometimes, I can tell within the first 5 to 10 minutes what kind of run I’m going to have.  “This one is going to feel good”, or “I’m going to hurt the entire time.”  But once I’ve determined how far I’m going, I always just do it.  Good or bad.  I do the miles.

If you think you weren’t cut out to be a runner, read the book “Born to Run”.  You might change your mind.

Oh, running.  It’s not just for criminals.

 (All images were found on Pinterest)

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