Some Days Need You To Play Offense

There are days when you have a big to-do list, or just a normal list but you didn’t get enough sleep… days when you are doubting that what you want to achieve isn’t worth the effort, or that what you want is worth it, but you just can’t figure out how to make it happen.

Meet those draining thoughts head-on with a mental attack that will energize you! You can close your eyes, or you can stare determinedly at yourself in the mirror, but either way pick a positive mantra and repeat it fervently for at least thirty seconds.

You can try something like one of these, for example:

•. “I am excited for this day/this workout/this project!”

• “I am capable and can handle this with grace!”

• “I have SO got this! I can’t wait to show myself how awesome I am!”

You’ll set off a positive chemical reaction in your brain that really will help you feel more energized and improve your outlook.

–> What are some of the “yes-I-can” things you tell yourself?

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3 Simple Pilates Moves, courtesy of me and Premera

Version 2

I had the privilege of being part of Premera’s recent effort to entice their members to try Pilates. Why would they want their members to try Pilates? Too many reasons to mention! Among other things, Pilates is great for:

  • injury prevention
  • injury recovery
  • preparation for other physical activities
  • and, most famously, core strength!

You can check out the Premera Wellness quarterly newsletter complete with instructions and three how-to videos featuring myself and my hubby! The three moves featured will strengthen your abdominal group, your mid-back and spinal muscles, and your glutes and thighs.

Do you have questions about form, or wondering if these particular exercises are right for your particular body? Just ask! 🙂


PS. Special thanks to Carie Nava at Premera for choosing me for this project. I am so grateful for the fun experience, and getting to work with her writer Marygrace Taylor, and her wonderful videographer Dominic Dunbar. Thanks also to Louise Beckley, director of Pilates Northwest, for allowing us to film on site – it’s my Pilates home!

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Next Health Challenge Group is open!

Nutrition, fitness, and support!

• Daily check-ins using Beachbody’s Challenge Tracker app.

• Anywhere-workout programs streamed via Beachbody On Demand

• 28 Days of Healthy Focus!

All participants are requested to use body-positive language. We celebrate the journey, not just the results. ❤️

Don’t you want to feel finish March feeling mighty, too? Message me to snag your spot in this month’s group.

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It’s All In You

I am my solution

Everything you want in life is in your reach if you can master yourself. Maybe it’s your attitude, or a skill-set, or a work ethic, or even a scheduling challenge. Maybe it’s a combination of things! Just know that if you are willing to put in the time to be honest with yourself, you can figure out what needs to be done to move forward. 🙂

–> What revelations have you had that allowed you to get out of your own way and move forward toward your goals?

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No Self-Limiting Allowed

Mona's broken seat post

I had a spill on my bike last Saturday. The seat post stem freakishly sheared off while I was riding, which in itself wasn’t so bad. It was the fact that I took my eyes off the road to figure out why I was suddenly standing on my pedals that caused me to miss the dip in the bridge toward the thick mud. The split second of relief when I stopped sliding along the road was unexpectedly interrupted by my husband crashing on top of me. Yup, smooshed me even more decidedly against the asphalt.

I have to pause to say that I am ashamed of myself, when in my pain I cried out to my never-would-hurt-me-on-purpose husband, “What are you doing ON me??” I only slightly redeemed myself as I rolled over, clutching my elbow as pain helped me come to my senses, groaning, “Oh, well, at least you didn’t hit your head.”

Short story: nothing broken, but deep, broad abrasions and bruising on whole left side creating intense pain when I move my limbs, especially my legs, and hands that ache when I use them too long. When I’m on my feet my leg swells up. It’s ugly.

Here’s the thing: all week I’ve been feeling sorry for myself. Depressed, even. And you probably know me well enough to guess that neither of those things sit well with the kind of person whom I aspire to be. Which makes me cranky and then the spiral continues. But then this morning I saw this:

Only limit is YOU 434x600

Which made me think, okay, what IS still working? My right leg. My right arm, even if my hand can’t grip well. My trunk is fine. So, I kicked myself in the rear and picked up a kettlebell as a weight, since I wouldn’t have to grip it too hard, and got to work. Winded after 20 minutes but much, much happier.

Yes, I will have to sit for the next few hours with my leg up. But you can bet I will be doing another round with that kettlebell.

–> What has motivated you to find another way forward when you couldn’t move the way you wanted? How did you shake off the self-pity and get going?

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Don’t Wait for Monday

How many times have you come up with a great workout or meal plan, or maybe an awareness of how to get more movement into your day, or perhaps some other wonderfully healthy action that will add to the quality of your life, and you say to yourself, “I can’t wait to start on Monday!”  WHY WAIT? Every moment, every single moment, is an opportunity to choose and make positive actions toward your health and fitness goals. Do something toward your dream TODAY. 🙂

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Asking Yourself the Hard Question


How do you prioritize your time? Can you be honest with your answer? Like I tell my kids, often the truth is uncomfortable. If your health – fitness, nutrition, stress management, and sleep – is not really a priority, then will you choose to change how you use your time to make it so?

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Why Is Everyone Talkin’ Protein?

You’ve heard that you probably need to get a little more protein into your diet. What is all the chatter about? Why is protein so darn important?

Lemme tell ya! Image

– Proteins make up compounds known as enzymes, and enzymes, through biochemical reactions,  control every single bodily function.

– Proteins are a vital component of every cell in the body! Hair, nails, bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood all use protein as a building block.

– Proteins are needed to help repair cells, especially after exercise, and to make new ones.

– Proteins promote satiety, a feeling of fullness. This is especially helpful if weight-loss is a goal.

Proteins are the VIPs of your body!  But just like on the red carpet, there are A-list proteins and B-list proteins.  The quality of protein you eat makes a difference!  The reason? Your body does not store protein in cells for use as it does fat.  The protein makes up the cells, remember? So, do you want cells made of wiggly, mystery bits of hot dog proteins or would you prefer a higher quality, better functioning cell?  I know my preference!

So, what are the best proteins?Image

According to the Harvard School of Public Health, fish, poultry, and beans are your best bets. Try to eat from a variety of protein sources each day.  When choosing your protein, think of the food type as the protein’s “packaging.”  Compare these three protein-carrying packages:

– Protein in a 6-ounce grilled porterhouse steak does indeed pack a whopping 40 grams of protein, BUT, it also comes “packaged” with 14 grams of not-so-good-for-you saturated fat, and 38 grams of fat total!

– Protein in the same amount of salmon gets you 34 grams of protein, only 4 grams of saturated fat, and 18 grams of fat total. Bonus: salmon is packed with healthy fats like Omega 3s!

– Protein in a cup of cooked lentils has a nice 18 grams of protein – BUT – less than one tiny, little gram of fat! And oh, it comes packed with the benefits of heart-healthy, colon-friendly fiber!

There is also much research about the benefits of super-accessible-to-your-body whey protein, like that found in dairy* products, and egg white protein.  These two provide the nine essential amino acids that your body cannot make itself.  Soy products like tofu are also full of protein, and some other sources are beans, nuts, and seeds.  However, if you are lactose intolerant, or have an egg, nut, or soy allergy or sensitivity, you may want to talk with a nutritionist about alternatives, such as field pea protein (often sold as green or yellow “split peas”), which is easily digestible but has fewer sensitivity and allergy issues.Image

If at least one of your meals is eaten as a smoothie, read the label of your smoothie base carefully.  Again, think of with what your protein is packaged.  Watch out for excess sugars, both natural and artificial. If you’ve got gluten sensitivities, even the highest quality protein powder won’t feel good to your body if there are glutens in the mix! Same goes for the other major sensitivities like soy, dairy, nuts, and egg. You want your “VIP” of protein to only be accompanied by the highest quality entourage of ingredients that also agree with your system.

Ask a nutritionist or your doctor which proteins work best with your particular biological needs. Choose a healthy mix of lean proteins each day that suits your dietetic needs and you, too, will join the conversation about the benefits of protein. 🙂 


PS.  If you are seeking a smoothie base with quality protein, my recommendation is simple: Shakeology, of course. And if you are vegan, soy-sensitive, or gluten-sensitive, check out the vegan Shakeology blends.  All Shakeology flavors are made from whole-food (not chemicals! not synthetics!), are certified low-glycemic (they won’t spike your blood sugar), and the new Vanilla flavor is also GMO-free! To your health! 🙂

*Dairy products contain both whey and casein proteins.


– Neil Osterweil & Dr. Charlotte E. Grayson Mathis,

– Dr. Michael Colgan,

– A.D.A.M. Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, and David R. Eltz. Previously reviewed by Alison Evert, MS, RD, CDE, Nutritionist, University of Washington Medical Center Diabetes Care Center, Seattle, Washington (5/5/2011)

– Harvard School of Public Health,

– All photos & protein word cloud illustration:

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Avoiding the Exerciser’s Hangover

What is the one thing you do everyday that when you don’t do it, something in your being feels… off?  You probably have several things that just need to happen for daily life to feel… right.  Health and productivity guru Chalene Johnson might call these “intrinsic priorities,” things you feel you must do but do almost without thinking, things that will happen almost without you having to consciously plan for them.


For me, it’s pretty simple:  brush, floss, Shakeology, and movement.  Are you at a place in your life in which movement is a necessity?  Not an I-know-I-ought-to-do-this necessity, but an I-feel-physically-wrong-when-I-don’t necessity.  If your answer is yes, fabulous!  What a healthy place to be… mostly.

Say what??

Notice that the word is “movement,” not exercise.  Those who love exercise can easily become as addicted to it is just as others are to french fries.  A little healthy moderate exercise becomes forays into also-healthy high intensity interval training (HIIT), which might be pushed into extended lactate-threshold training, and then done too often (more than 4 days a week for HIIT)  it becomes over-training.  A vague flue-like feeling sets in.  A feeling of just being… off.  Your limbs may feel heavy, and movement feels kind of… wrong.  That, my friend,  is an exercise-craver’s hangover. Image

The cure is simple:  keep loving exercise!  Do what you love, but dial in a low-intensity day of movement each week, not just cardio-vascularly but also muscularly. Competitive athletes do this.  Even hard core at-home exercise programs like P90X and Insanity include a periodized day of relative rest!  Give your body one day of lovely gentle movement, without over-stressing it.  Think of it as an easy cross-training or cross-focus day.  Depending on your current training, that could be a hike in the woods or a paddle in a kayak.  For some, it’s as simple as working in the garden or doing yoga. For a cycling enthusiast, maybe it’s an easy spin for a latte’!

The point is, your goal is to make movement one of your daily intrinsic priorities. Keeping in mind how much intensity you’ve had in your week and planning the day on which you’ll need to be a little more gentle will help keep movement feeling… right. 🙂Image

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Pencil and Pedals Ready? Northwest 2013 Cycling Rides for Your Calendar

Cycling with friends is fun and motivating. Grabbing your friends to cycle with crowds of strangers who become roadie compadres is even more fun!  Organized road touring rides are a great for lots of reasons:

– new riders benefit from encouragement, motivation, and ride support with hydration, fuel, & route planning, and sometimes even help with training from the ride organizer, without the added stress of training for a competition.

– seasoned riders benefit from the same, and also enjoy a renewed appreciation and excitement for their sport. Many seasoned riders choose the same rides each year to self-measure how their performance has gained from year to year, in addition to adding on new challenges of new rides.

– no matter your type of riding, having a ride on your calendar keeps you on track with your fitness and training goals.

– not all rides are about you.  Some on this list require fundraising in a addition to the entry fee. Choosing to do a benefit ride elevates your group ride to a higher purpose.  No better motivator to get to the finish than to remind yourself you’re doing it for someone else who needs your help (and so you can answer “great!” when all your donors ask you how your ride went).

Here are some rides to put on your calendar, at least one a month from now through October:

Sunday, February 24, 2013: Chilly Hilly! For many Northwesterners, this is the ride that kicks our butts into action for the riding season ahead.

Route: 33 miles up and down and around Bainbridge Island. Starts with a ferry ride from downtown Seattle, ends with a chili feed!

Saturday, March 16, 2013: The McClinchy Mile, sponsored by B.I.K.E.S. of Snohomish County

Routes: 34, 48, 52, & 100 miles, from Arlington. ALSO: 8 mile escorted family ride!  Very pretty ride through river valleys. Short loop is mostly reasonably flat and mostly low-traffic and takes you from Arlington to Stanwood & back. Combine the more challenging 48 mile Granite Falls loop with the 52 mile Stanwood loop for an even 100 miles.

Sunday, April 14, 2013: The Daffodil Classic, with yummy Strawberry Shortcake at the finish!

Routes: 40, 60, and 100 mile loops through the pretty and rural Orting valley and surrounding rolling hills. ALSO: a paved-trail, very family friendly out-and-back of 1- 30 miles.

Saturday, April 20, 2013:  The Tulip Pedal by Group Health/Skagit County Medic One for Safe Kids of Skagit County

Routes: The 20, 40, and 60 mile routes begin and end in charming LaConnor, near Washington’s famous and oh-so-pretty tulip fields. Tip: much of the route is pretty flat, but the country roads can be “sticky” and sometimes the wind off the bays across the valley can be fierce, so be sure to add some hills or leg strength training to your preparation.

Sunday, April 21, 2013: Cherry of a Ride, for a view of the Columbia River Gorge not seen from the freeway.

Routes: 30, 48, 60, 80, and 100 miles from The Dalles, then meander through blossoming cherry orchards and wheat fields of rural Wasco county. Choose the 60, 80, or 100 mile routes for that special view of the gorge.

Sunday, April 28, 2013:  Lilac Century and Family Fun Ride from Spokane

Routes: 15 and 25 mile family-friendly routes primarily on the Spokane Centennial trail, as well as 50, 66, and 100 mile lengths. ALSO: for triathletes-in-training, a “brick” bike/run race-pace transition from a secure bike corral into a short 5K loop.   (Scroll down through Rotary blog)

Saturday, May 4, 2013: Streets & Beets, benefiting Alley Cat Acres Urban Farming Collective

Routes: 40-60 miles highlighting farming collectives in the greater Seattle area.  This is a small fundraising ride – only 150 riders! Take advantage of free training rides to help you get ready. Rest stops with nibbles every 10-12 miles, but pack your own lunch then enjoy the end-of-ride party.

Saturday, May 4, 2013:  RACC (Ride Around Clark County), from Vancouver, WA

Routes: 18, 34, 65, and 100 mile loops.  Rolling hills and lovely, springtime countryside.

Sunday, May 5, 2013: May Day Metric, around the South Sound region from Federal Way.  Pie at the finish!

Routes:  50, 72, & 104 (un-metric) miles.  Check out the FAQ page of this ride: hills are characterized as “rolling, small, moderate, and ‘character building.'”  Mentally prep for “Phil’s Hill” near the end!

Saturday, May 11, 2013: Oregon Cycling Challenge, something for everyone! Part of the RAMM Challenge.

Routes: 30 and 60 mile rides, a 120 mile Gran Fondo, PLUS 200 and 400 mile endurance races. Rides showcase the beautiful Willamette Valley and the Coast Range (endurance racers will also ride the Oregon coast from Newport to Tillamook).

Saturday, May 11, 2013: Skagit Spring Classic, from Burlington, a.k.a. “The Cookie Ride”

Routes: 25, 45, 65, and 100 miles.  “Splendid rural forest and marine views” in Skagit and Whatcom counties.  Homemade cookies at well-stocked rest stops, all-you-can-eat pasta at finish.  Longer-distance riders enjoy Chuckanut Drive.

Saturday, May 11, 2013:  Group Health Inland Empire Century

Routes:  25, 50, 75, and 100 miles.  Skirt the Yakima and Columbia rivers, past vineyards, fields, and orchards, and ride the Horse Heaven Hills.

Saturday, May 11, 2013: Seattle Tour de Cure, benefiting the American Diabetes Association

Routes: a family-friendly 15 miles, and more hilly 25, 45, 70, and 100 miles.  Starts at Marymoor Park and heads up to Lake Stevens/Monroe area.

Saturday, May 18, 2013: Reach the Beach, benefiting the American Lung Association in Oregon

Routes: 25 (from Grand Ronde), 55 (from Amity), 80 (from Newberg), and 100 miles (from Portland/Beaverton).  All routes end in Pacific City with a hearty beachside feast.  This beautiful, well-supported fundraising ride is one of my favorites!

Sunday, June 2, 2013: Peninsula Metric, enjoying the challenges of the Kitsap Peninsula

Routes: 50K (31 miles), 70K (44 miles), 100K (62 miles), or 100 miles.  Enjoy panoramic water views, rural countryside, and lots of rolling hills. Choose starts from either picturesque Gig Harbor or the Southworth Ferry Terminal.

Saturday, June 8, 2013: Flying Wheels Summer Century, Washington state’s largest century ride

Routes: starting at Redmond’s Marymoor Park for 25, 45, 65, & 100 miles through lovely rural areas.  You can break for an ice cream cone in charming Snohomish! The 25 mile route goes around Lake Sammamish and into Bellevue neighborhoods and is great for families.

Saturday, June 29, 2013: World Bicycle Relief Red-Bell 100, from Redmond to Bellingham benefiting World Bicycle Relief in Africa & local kids programs

Route: 100 miles.  Includes a big climb in Woodinville and riding up Chuckanut Drive.  This is a fairly new fundraising event with great support every 20 miles, and a big BBQ at the Bellingham finish.

Saturday and Sunday, July 13 – 14, 2013: Group Health Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic, a.k.a. STP, a Northwest rite of passage

Route: 200+ miles, over two 100-mile days or in one 200-mile day.  Big, festive half-way and finish area.  Very well supported, LOTS of riders (caps out at 10,000 by around late February).

Saturday and Sunday, August 10 – 11, 2013: Obliteride! Ride to End Cancer benefiting Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Routes: starting at Seattle’s Magnuson park, one-day 20, 50, 100 miles, & two-day 180 miles in the greater Seattle/Tacoma area.  This is a brand new fundraising event with a kick-off party the night before.

Saturday, June 29, 2013: Mt. Adams Country Bicycle Tour, from Trout Lake

Routes: 11.5 mile Family ride, 51 mile valley loop, 54 mile forest loop, and combining the valley and the forest gets you a 105 mile “infinity” loop.  The Family ride is on super low-traffic roads, and for all lengths the scenery in the area is at times overwhelmingly beautiful. TIP:  For the 50+ lengths be prepared for long climbs.

Friday and Saturday, August 16 – 17, 2013: RSVP 1 (sold out)

– OR –

Saturday and Sunday, August 17 – 18, 2013: RSVP 2

RSVP: Ride from Seattle to Vancouver (BC) then Party!

Route: 188 miles over two days, exactly the same whether you’re signed up for the Friday or Saturday start.  Ride great back roads with a few long climbs and end up in downtown Vancouver to enjoy a BBQ, no-host bar, and music. This one usually sells out. Riders joke that this one is more challenging than STP since you’re heading “up” the map (to the north.)

Saturday and Sunday, August 24 – 24, 2013: RAPSody, Ride Around Puget Sound – Sold out for this year, put it on your radar for 2014!

Route: two-day 170 mile somewhat challenging loop around the sound includes a ride across the Tacoma Narrows bridge. Known for good food, good views, and good logistics.

Sunday, August 25, 2013: Bainbridge Island Kiwanis Summer Challenge – almost twice the hills as the Chilly Hilly!

Routes: 16 mile Family Challenge, 34 mile Summer Challenge (about the same as February’s Chilly Hilly), and 62 mile Climber’s Challenge.  The “Not So Chilly but Just As Hilly” ride!

Sunday, September 1, 2013: Great Northwest Fall Tour

Routes: 15, 30, 50, and 85 miles.  From Newport, WA, on the Washington/Idaho border, enjoy the scenic roads of Pend Oreille county.

Saturday and Sunday, September 7 – 8, 2013: Bike MS, benefiting the Multiple Sclerosis Society Greater Northwest Chapter

Routes:  22-97 mile loops, up to about 150 miles over one day or two, from Mt. Vernon.  No matter the length, you will love this ride. Super well supported with so much love from the MS Society. Very festive and fun, includes a great ride across Deception Pass, around Fidalgo Bay, and more.  Rider village with campground.  Join my team, Happy GO Lucky, when you sign up!

Saturday, September 14, 2013: Ride Around The Sound, benefiting the American Lung Association (ALA) in Washington

Routes:  45, 75, 88, and 100 miles, PLUS a 12 mile Family Ride.  Over half the route boasts views of Puget Sound, and a ferry ride brings you back to the finish line party.  Being an asthmatic myself, I have a soft spot for ALA rides.

Sunday, September 15, 2013: Chuckanut Century

Routes: 25, 38, 50, 62, 100, and double metric of 124 miles.  Northwest cyclists can’t seem to get enough of Chuckanut drive!  Enjoy views of Bellingham, Samish, and Padilla bays.

Saturday, September 21, 2013: Ride the ROC: Ride Okanogan County/Riverside-Omak-Conconully

Routes: choose from two different 50 mile loops, or combine loops for 100 miles.  Omak is home of the world famous Omak Stampede Rodeo, and as you ride through this rugged country you can just imagine the cowboys patrolling on their horses.

Saturday, September 21, 2013: Bridges to Breakers, from Vancouver, WA to Gearhart at the coast

Routes: at this time only the 100 mile route was listed (check their website for updates).  If you loved Reach the Beach in the spring, you’ll probably love the similar challenge of this autumn ride.

Saturday, September 21, 2013: Ride the Rogue, from the town of Rogue River, Oregon

Routes: 25, 45, 65 (metric century), and 100 miles.  Gorgeous southern Oregon views, from Table Rocks, to vineyards, rivers, and valleys.

Sunday, September 22, 2013: Tour de Victoria, because, honestly, we love an excuse to have a weekend in Victoria, B.C.

Routes: 50 km (31 miles), 100 km (62 miles), and 140 km (86 miles).  Organized by Canada’s Giro de Italia winner, Ryder Hesjedal, showcasing some of his favorite training routes around greater Victoria.

Sunday, September 29, 2013: Kitsap Color Classic

Routes: 25, 36, 55, and 64 mile loops.  Starts either in Kingston or in Edmonds, includes ferry ride.  Prepare for rolling and bigger hills as you ride around the peninsula.

Saturday, October 5, 2013: Ellensburg Manastash Metric Drier Ride

Routes: 50 km (31 miles) and 100 km (61 miles). Well supported ride, rest stops at historic sites, and very high  chance of SUN! Plus, delicious BBQ at the end of the ride.

NOTE:  This list is by no means exhaustive.  Check out some of the resources below for even more non-competitive road touring rides, multi-day tours, randonneur (timed) events, road racing events, mountain bike rides and races, and cyclocross events.

Happy pedaling!!

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