Client spotlight: the one and only LT!

If you come to Pilates Northwest, you’ve probably seen my client LT.  He’s the guy who, when he’s not in the middle of his session, instantly puts everyone at ease with his friendly smile and self-deprecating quips. He’s also the guy other clients notice during his session focusing hard on the smallest movements, inspiring them with his intense concentration and work ethic.  You might have seen that he has an unusual gait. You probably guessed that he was born with cerebral palsy.


LT is one of the most inspiring people I know. He never, ever stops working at improving. He always gives 100%. And he says things during his Pilates session like:  “That’s hard… I LOVE it!” and even after a really hard and especially muscle-lengthening workout:  “That’s. AWESOME!”


And this month, LT is featured in Pilates Northwest’s client spotlight! I encourage you to take a moment to check it out. I think you’ll be inspired by his dedication to figuring things out, to not giving up, to finding a way forward when the end goal is clear even though the pathway is not.

From LT:

“My work with Mona and Pilates Northwest has been the key to me learning to speak and understand the language of my own movement. Everyone’s language will be different, but they will all respond positively to Pilates. Pilates will challenge you, but it will also change you!”

Check him out here:

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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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