Last week I posted a little food challenge on the blog. It was designed to do a few things.
I’ve always been a late bloomer as they say. Late in comparison to others for a first kiss. Late in comparison to others to find my career path. Late in comparison to others to learn many lessons both financially, faithfully, and in fitness. Late in comparison to others to get married. Possibly late in comparison to others to find motherhood. I am not done blooming or learning, nowhere close. It has become clear that I just require a little more time in God’s molding. These moments of waiting have built my trust in him and proven his glory in my blessings. This is what makes the waiting bearable, tolerable, and doable.
So much of what I do spills over into each and every bucket of my life. I’m always scanning the internet for new workouts, taste testing out new recipes on Jason, and crafting skinny cocktails in my own kitchen…I consider this to be significant research! I even spend time each week praying with clients. I’m eating, sweating, sipping, and most definitely praying my way along this fit life on the regular. The teacher in me prompts me to consistently expand my learnings and share my findings with my tribe. That spirit is what lead me to initially create this virtual space so many years ago.
Professionally, the path has been winding and at times unclear to bystanders. But to me, each step has been intentional and necessary leading to the next one.
It’s been a year since I’ve been personal training on my own and it’s been a true joy. It took me years to get here, standing on my own two feet. There have been too many financial struggles, copycats, and even naysayers to count. Each creating their own set of challenges. More notable though are the supporters, steadfast friends, family, and now spouse. Now on the other side, I know these circumstances made me tougher, more tolerant, and more determined to keep after it. Proving just how much I really wanted this. Never settling. Learning what is worth negotiating and what I hold as true value.
I started this blog in 2011 and my hopes were to create a business that could ebb and flow with my personal seasons of life. One that would fit and compliment a life as a wife and possibly one day mother. At the time the blog began, there was absolutely no sign of either.
Now I sit, 60+ days from wifehood and if God’s plan for me includes motherhood, I imagine that’s not too far behind. But for today, I’m focused on the now, while paying respect to the rearview mirror.
My personal training business allows me to offer options attractive to those looking to broaden their health and fitness program. God has been beyond good this past year. And while daily, I struggle and continuously ask for personal guidance, peace, grace, forgiveness, and patience…I acknowledge the long list of items in my gratitude prayers. A list that grows daily.
Perspective is key to finding joy. Sometimes you must choose to look for it. As do most of us, my clients face illness, divorce, death, motherhood, loss, injury, and even financial/career struggles. That doesn’t make them unique. What does is their ability to dig deep and show up anyway. I consider that to be a form of faith. That is crosstraining.
That’s the thing about life and fitness. They parallel each other. Some days are easy. Many days are hard, forcing you to keep fighting and praying for those wins! By flexing your muscles for faith and fitness, you’ll attract the tribe and life you really want.
Ok gang. Who’s up for a little challenge? A slight nutritional remix. Basically it’s a way of getting out of your kitchen comfort zone. I do these from time to time for various reasons. No matter my why, it always has purpose. It’s always well thought out. This week my WHY is to fight some overall body inflammation and belly bloat. After 3 road trips in 1 week, my body is physically feeling it and the signs are visible.
Participating in a nutritional remix is a great way to bust through a food rut. It forces you to incorporate different ingredients, create new recipes, and try some new things.
I use the same concept when approaching a workout rut. You want some different results? From time to time we have to shake it up. Make up a new workout circuit, swap your cardio, or pick up heavier weightsThat’s why I created a beach boot camp option for my clients starting this week. We will work differently and on new terrain.
While I spend time today re-vamping my meal plan and prepping new food for the week, here’s what I’m keeping in mind.
- GLUTEN: gluten is an inflammatory agent. Pasta has become a bit too easy for me lately. I bet I could find an alternative that’s more nutrient dense and is more of a complete meal, not just a bundle of carbs.
- SUGARS: keep your fresh fruit, but check any processed foods & go without any artificial sweeteners. Goodbye sodas and salad dressings! Go for flavored water instead. Use vinegars and sweet/savory spices to sweeten or flavor foods.
- ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION: I’m not a drinker during the week anyhow so this is a bit easier for me. Try bubbly water or diy fruit infused spa water. I love adding sliced cucumbers, pineapple, and even left over watermelon rinds to a large pitcher of water.
- DAIRY: I’m eating a bit too much cheese and eggs and in order to gain perspective and portion awareness I’m challenging myself to find alternatives. Think guacamole, Greek yogurt, or nutritional yeast. Leaner, greener, and cleaner!
- ALLOW FOR INDULGENCE: We can’t buy the expensive shoes every month. We can’t sleep in everyday. We can’t have cake and wine every night. But from time to time, it’s not only appropriate – it’s necessary. Perspective and priority my friends!
You don’t need to try all 4. Maybe pick one or two. Maybe you have a completely different swap in mind. Make it fun, not forceful. Start small. The purpose is to bring awareness and attention to some habits that may need changing. When you swap out some of your weekly staples, you’ll probably notice some physical changes. Your skin may clear up, your belly may shrink, your energy rises, you may have lowered anxiety, and you may even better sleep!
Focus on these.
- Can you make it a week without X ?
- What did you put in it’s place?
- Did you miss it?
- How are you feeling without it?
I’ll be participating and experimenting with this until Friday. It’s a great way to break habits and build routine during the week. It allows Saturday or Sunday to be filled with celebration. Next weekend I have a bridal shower and I’ll def be indulging. It’s an appropriate time for treats. Once a week we need a rest day and a break from routine. I choose Saturday because it’s the most likely day for social engagements on my schedule.
How will you bust through your own rut and make your own change ?
With so many new fitness goals out there for folks to tackle, abs may seem a bit over rated and frankly might not be something you even care about. But it is one of my top questions so here is my soapbox on the topic.
The way to get them seems logical. Workout and eat right. But for many the recommendations are so hard to hear…and more difficult to implement.
While muscles are abs-olutely built during your workout sessions, the flat physique of your tummy depends more on what’s happening at the grocery store and in your kitchen.
I often gauge my own personal health, fitness, and wellness level by what’s happening with my tummy. Notice I didn’t say my self worth, simply just my fitness/wellness. When it’s flatter, I know I’m eating cleaner, leaner, greener, and have lowered my overall inflammation. A flatter tummy also means I’m keeping a solid cardio and weight training program, complimented by healthy nutrition habits. Your skin and energy levels are also great barometers of your current wellness level as well.
I have a curvy, but small build. With that body type, weight tends to be carried in places like my bust, booty, and belly. Keeping up with a clean nutrition plan keeps those curves where they should be without any added bulking, puffiness, or bloating.
During my half marathons I usually carry a little bit of a belly. I also have to be mindful of what I eat as too many raw fruits and veggies don’t mix well for long distance running. During those seasons, my weight shifts and the scale fluctuates (2-4 +/- lbs). At times I actually feel heavier and softer in my tummy. I personally find it necessary for my training. It’s where the carbs live. As you know with endurance sports, your body requires more fuel to perform. Not to mention, the mad sugar cravings I have while running longer distances. The perceived change in weight is in part a product of lowered weight training. With a few old injuries, I have to lay off of some of my favorite exercises in order to preserve the body for running. With that, we know muscle weighs more that fat. But fat takes up more space, hence feeling larger and less tight.
While I may take in more daily calories with half marathon training, I find it doable to keep those meals mostly clean. Lean proteins, plenty of potatoes, sweet potatoes, and rice. Pizza and fries are part of the program, but not a nightly occurrence. Those options fit better as a post long run meal.
The last two weeks my fitness routine and nutrition program have changed. And as a result, pretty instantly, so has my gut.
As this post continues, here are a few things to consider:
- How are you filling your body?
- How are you fueling your body? Is your current nutrition program full of added sugars and/or processed foods? You better believe your body will rebel against that. Usually in the form of inflammation, more weight around the gut, and maybe even problematic skin.
- What’s your happy hour look like? If nightly wine is on the menu, it’s something to consider swapping or skimming back.
- I drink black coffee. No need to add unwanted calories or chemicals to my morning beverage. If you feel you need a little something try coconut oil, coconut milk, or ghee. We also love the line of Laird Superfood Creamers. The small amount of fat will be great fuel for the brain. If you choose to add any of my suggestions, I recommend blending for a frothy bev.
- I drink a fair amount of water daily. Jazz it up with dehydrated citrus powder, flavored oils, or fruit/veggie peels.
- I have dessert! My current go to is either a Yasso Bar or a bowl of vanilla Greek yogurt with berries and a bit of dairy free whipped cream. It isn’t a nightly occurrence, but those times I need a little sweet treat this hits the spot.
- I hit the weights. Lifting heavier and more often burns fat. My workouts are short in length but pack a big punch. Most of my circuits include total body moves or what I refer to as “toes to nose”. For example, instead of a simple squat, try a weighted squat to overhead press. The total body move torches everything and engages the core. My theory is, if you’re gonna spend time working out, why not hit it all in one shot. My clients hear this often. A workout with me has many of these signature moves in it.
- I alternate my cardio. Get out of the same old routine. Sprints are moved to compliment a circuit. Long slow cardio may come on the form of a two hour hike in the trails. Spin or swimming is sprinkled in as a change up, again working the entire body!
- I don’t drink cocktails every night. That is hard to hear for those nightly wine drinkers. But trust me, it can be done. Being in the midst of wedding planning makes this one a bit more challenging. It seems there are cocktails everywhere. I do partake in them on the weekends. These days, I tend to stick with clear liquors like vodka or tequila and flavored water or fresh citrus juices. If I am ordering a drink out, I ask for it in a “skinny” option. That’s about as clean of a cocktail as one can get.
- I don’t keep a stock pile of chips, cookies, or frozen meals in the house . My shopping is 90% perimeter. Meaning I don’t venture into the middle of the supermarket much.
- I don’t feel guilty about a splurge. When an opportunity for fellowship with family or friends presents itself, I take it. Then I celebrate accordingly. Life is too short to feel bad about something like that.
- I don’t count calories, but I do read labels. Luckily for me, most of the food we consume is label free. I prepare the majority of our weeknight dinners with fresh ingredients. When using frozen veggies or packaged foods, I am conscious to read the ingredients being mindful of any added preservatives, sugars, chemicals. Those extras are big time culprits for inflammation, bloating, and unnecessary fat.
- I don’t believe in exclusivity statements. “I’m never eating x again” “I don’t consume x” I find that by saying that you’ll find yourself in a situation where you may just have too. If you are invited to a friend’s home for dinner and they serve something you don’t normally eat, you have the option to decide: to possibly offend or hurt them or make the best of it. If you’re at a restaurant that only serves x, you’re faced with a choice. Do the best you can with what you have. Don’t miss out on opportunity to bond with someone or enjoy yourself. When you’re following a good nutrition program and fitness routine on the reg, these one off moments won’t be as traumatic or damaging to your plan.
Need more guidance? Contact me for consulting or training details.
Now that the half marathon is over, I have more freedom in my schedule to shake things up. I get a little squirmy when I think about switching up my routine, but I get equally excited. I spent some time this week comparing class schedules at local studios and pool availability with my current work schedule. I do this every 90 days or so. This deliberate allotted time period works well when moving towards crushing goals. It is the perfect amount of time to train for a race, a vacation, or life event and have noticeable realistic results.
The last 3 months were devoted to my half marathon training. The next 3 are designed with bridal fitness in mind. A tad leaner, slightly more muscular, and definitely more tone. Take note I didn’t mention weight loss. I truly am focusing on body composition, not a scale number. With this change to my physical plan comes nutritional amendments as well. Less consumption of starchy carbs, more focus on lean proteins, and I will continue monitoring my sugar and alcohol intake…with the exceptions to wedding showers, bachelorette parties, and weekly date nights!
Nothing is off the table 🙂 This makes the plan achievable and enjoyable!
I am a big believer in keeping the body guessing. I find it equally refreshing for the mind. There are major benefits to change up your weekly routine. Here’s why I recommend it for myself and my clients regularly:
- SWAP YOUR SESSION. Changing up the routine breaks boredom. If running on Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday is your thing – take those weekly blocks and swap for another low impact cardio option like swimming or spin class.
- STAY INJURY FREE. You have pushed hard for weeks or months. If you’ve been grinding out high miles for a race or heavy weights for a competition, give your body a break after the big day arrives. To insure you stay healthy, let your body recover by adding in a yoga day or bootcamp class instead of the regimented workouts you’ve been putting in.
- OPT OUTSIDE.When looking for Springtime exercise options, think outside the gym or home! Give your body the chance to soak up the sun and all of natures surroundings. Strengthen your body and spirit by choosing an outdoor setting that suits you while enjoying the seasonal mild temps. Your muscles will work in a different way outdoors on new terrain. You can get the best of both worlds (cardio/strength) in a small group setting or personal training appointment at the bay, boardwalk, or trails.
Have fun with your shake up. If you find yourself needing some help with your own wellness re-design, read this and contact me!
It is Tuesday, which means it’s a partner workout day. I am heading over to my friend Janet’s house to workout with her in her home gym. It is two days post Shamrock Half, so I am working upper body only. The wedding is 88 days away and the sun is out..so start flexing!
Shamrock weekend 2019 could not have been any more special. I felt the importance and significance of it many times on the course. It was a bold move to commit to 15 weeks of training while planning our wedding, not to mention the roster of clients I had running who would need some guidance from me. But I was sure I had to be out there, sharing in the excitement of it all with them.
With 21 Shamrocks that I can account for, it’s obvious I have a strong affinity for the event. It was the first race I ever did with my dad when I was 14. I’ve only missed a few during college and 1 in 2017 which was a blessing and an opportunity of a lifetime! After 2016 left me heartbroken, I had planned to get back in the Shamrock action with the 8k. But right after the New Year in 2017 I received an email from Brooks Running inviting me to attend Altitude Camp with their pro team and other social media influencers in Albuquerque. It would be over St. Patrick’s Day weekend. It was a life changing learning experience. It did something for me I didn’t expect. It opened my eyes to seeing something bigger than the time on the clock and taking me from the comfort of a race I was so familiar with. I certainly wasn’t invited there because I was fast like the Brooks Beasts Team. I had never even run in altitude. I was invited there because I loved running and had a passion for it. Fast forward to Sunday morning of 2019 and Meb talked about just that. Maximize your talent he said. My talent in this industry is my love for it. That stayed with me on Sunday, driving me to what would be one of my most fulfilling half’s.
The day began early. I’m so thankful for my brother in law offering to drive us so we didn’t have to worry with parking. Jason, my sister in law Sarah, my dad, and myself piled in and anticipated the excitement the day would hold.
Dad ventured off on his own and the 3 of us took care of our race day prep routine with the J&A Training Team.
Braden and I even got to snag a quick pic with Bart and Meb before heading out. I don’t know of any other race that brings in talent of this level to interact with participants so intimately. J&A truly is a step above.
The race start was 7:30 and the corrals would be packed. Braden and I had a game plan to start together and respectfully honor every woman for herself as the miles ticked off. It was a no pressure day for both of us. We shared gratitude for being able to attempt the journey, let alone the opportunity to begin this adventure together. Friends for 30 years, but the first time we lined up beside each other. We took our time heading to the start where we shared an on camera interview before crossing the mat. We were step for step until mile 5.
Miles 6-9 were solo, sunny, and breezy. It was the most gorgeous morning. I enjoyed views of the beach through Fort Story and relished the feeling of sunshine on my face. I was flooded with overwhelming joy. Passing through mile 7 I felt the tears come as I knew I was headed home and damn it, I was doing this! This spot was were I was 3 years ago when it all began to fall apart. It left me physically battled, emotionally beaten, and spiritually bruised, and in no way wanting to think of 13.1 again… until now.
While the pace was slow and light, the race was going by fast. Before long I was back at the North End hitting landmarks I knew. I passed 10, then 11! 2 miles to go and it would be over. I savored every feeling. I honored it. I cherished it, while I was tired I didn’t want it to end. I passed the 12 mile marker. I couldn’t believe in just moments this journey, this time of solitude I had found so refreshing would end. I sank into the moment.
39th st, 38th st, 37th st, turn.
Just like that, my body went on autopilot. I felt joyous. I was in celebration mode. I dropped my pace nearly 2 minutes. I began hearing cheers for me from the sidelines. I was elated. I was finishing it. And just like that Bob called my name for the last time as Jess Horton. The sound was bitter sweet.
It was important for me to run one more Shamrock as a Horton. I wanted to run one more half before we try to have a family. I wanted to run a half on a plan I built. I wanted to run a half the same day as my fiancé, my dad, my sister in law, and my team. I wanted to run a half where I felt happy, healthy, and strong even if I was tired. I wanted my race pics to capture what I am feeling inside. Lots of goals and I accomplished all of them!
For a short time a few years ago, I thought I had to be the fastest or strongest trainer to get fabulous clients or had to have the fittest/leanest figure to get the guy. Isn’t that messed up? As for the clients, mine by far are the best, hardest working, emotionally strong and gracious!!! Many who shared the same joy with me this weekend. And when it comes to the guy, he Sham-ROCKS my world every day. He was happily waiting, as proud as he could be of me after finishing a strong half on his own.
On Sunday I ran the entire race, without hip pain or a mental break. The half delivered everything I had hoped for. It has been an amazing way to stay grounded and focused during this season of life and love. It’s a reminder that fitness in any form can and should compliment your life without being the center of it.
Sometimes your fitness objective comes in the form of a new lifting goal or finish time, and other times it’s about just making it to your weekly spin class and completing meal prep. Whatever you choose is up to you. The great thing is, as our lives change and evolve, so can our goals for physical fitness. Proudly, this is what my life is about. This is what’s fueled my passion for living well. This is my theme. It’s my passion, it’s my mission.
If you haven’t scrolled through Facebook in a few days, now is the time to do it. Hundreds of stories like mine are filling the feed. There is magic in each individual miracle. The teamwork, celebration, and the perseverance over pain is what propels us forward to the next time we get to share the road for just a few hours.