Squat Workshop 101: The How and Why of the Squat

The How and What of the Squat

The squat is a basic, primal movement pattern that humans and our ancestors have been performing for millions of years through activities such as hunting, gathering, harvesting, cooking and eating.

Squats are the number one compound movement you can do to improve strength, athletic performance, reduce instances of injury, burn fat, increase flexibility and improve core strength. Phew. So let me get this straight, this one exercise does everything I’m looking for at the gym?! Yes!  

Squats are hard. Doing hard things, even when you don’t feel like it, trains the muscle between your ears: your mind. This builds discipline and mental fortitude which is crucial to get results in the gym. It also build discipline that transfers in other areas of your life. It helps you sticking to good nutrition habits, doing the work, and so on.

Lifting weights, in general, lowers cholesterol, improves glucose metabolism, improves insulin response and stimulates muscle-building hormones like human growth hormone (HGH). Squats are the best weight training exercise you can do because they work more muscles, over a longer range of motion and with more weight than any other exercise. It’s therefore the best exercise you can do in the gym. It’s the only one you should do if you only have time for one.

squat images

Left: Backsquat positioning Right: Front Squat positioning

Benefits of Squatting

  • Enhanced Core Strength
  • Typical squats are loaded from top to bottom, your core has to work double-time to prevent injury
  • Front Squats target midsection core strength
  • Increase Full Range of Motion and Flexibility
  • Deep squatting moves your body through a full range of motion which boosts flexibility
  • Deep squatting increases your range of motion in the entire hip complex which results in reduced back pain. Translation: squatting helps you get down on the floor and pick up the laundry basket, over and over, without straining your back.
  • Squatting reduces your chance of injury
  • By building the muscles surrounding your knees and hips, you’re less likely to sustain an injury in daily activity like climbing stairs, picking up the laundry basket, or running after a child or grandchild at the park.
  • Muscle strength and development
  • Squatting builds your glutes, hamstrings, and quad muscles – which are primary stabilizing muscles for movement.
  • Why is squatting better than using a leg curl or press machine?
  • Squatting uses every muscle, in unison, in your lower body. This helps build real world strength by using a functional movement to develop functional strength.
  • Still need more convincing?: A leg press or extension locks you into a fixed position, which takes away your body’s natural urge to stabilize itself. This can lead to imbalances between the right and left side of your body.
  • Squats are a full body workout
    • Workout programs that regularly include squats will result in stronger, leaner, toned legs including the glutes, hamstrings and quads.
  • Squats help you Burn Fat
  • You lose fat when your body burns more energy than you eat. Your muscles burn energy to lift weight. Squats burn more energy than any other exercise because they work more muscles and with heavier weights. Heavy Squats also increase your metabolism for hours post workout (EPOC). When you combine this with proper nutrition, Squats will help you burn fat.

But what about my knees, you ask..?

If you’re concerned about your knees, you’d be well-advised to refrain from other leg exercises, such as leg extensions and hack squats. Properly done squats impart far less knee strain than they do.

Leg extensions produce an intense shearing effect on the knees that breaks down knee cartilage. That’s particularly true if you flex your lower legs past the 90 degree angle at the start of the exercise or if you use too heavy a poundage. Leg extensions are an isolation exercise, also known as an “open-chain kinetic” exercise. Because of their biomechanics, they place more stress directly on the knee joints. In contrast, when you do squats, the weight is distributed among several strong muscle groups, including the thighs, hips and glutes, and not being imposed directly on the vulnerable knee joints. This is with the assumption that you do the exercise in good form. That includes not rounding your back; descending in a slow, controlled fashion and not just dropping down; and not bouncing at the bottom. Some trainers advise looking either straight ahead or up, since looking down tends to encourage your body to bend forward, which is tough on the lower back.

As for depth, that is perhaps the greatest controversy about the squat. Early squatting dissidents advised squatting only halfway down, to the point where the thighs are parallel to the floor. The idea was that parallel squats preserved the knees. On the other hand, only full squats fully activate the powerful gluteus maximus, or buttocks muscle, which greatly aids squatting power.

Types of Squats:

  • Front Squat, Back Squat
  • Advanced: Overhead squat
  • Modified Squatting: Goblet Squats, Goblet Squats to a box/bench, Bulgarian split squat, etc.

The front squat primarily develops the muscles of the low body including the; quadriceps, gastrocnemius, and the gluteus maximus. The front squat is by nature a more quadriceps dominant exercise than the back squat and requires more mid-line stabilization, and muscle activity in the hips, and spinal erectors.

USA Olympic Weightlifting Team, Kendrick Farris, front squat

USA Olympic Weightlifting Team, Kendrick Farris, front squat

Front Squat Basic Skill Review

  • Take time to find your starting position.
  • Find your natural foot stance with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart and your toes slightly out so your toes can follow the path of your knees.
  • Find your grip on the barbell slightly wider than shoulder width.
  • Receive the bar from the rack on the front of the shoulders and step back onto the platform.
  • Keep chest up and raise the elbows high.
  • Stabilize the midline taking in a deep breath.
  • Keep the feet flat on the ground pushing down through the heels.
  • Squat down until the thighs are below parallel.
  • Keep the chest up, back tight, and the elbows high when coming out the squat aggressively drive the elbows up to come out of the bottom pocket.

How To BackSquat

Setup: Bar is level with the shoulder, or just below. Face the bar. Grab it tight with a medium grip shoulder width apart. Put it on the shelf created on your upper back by dipping under the bar.

Raise your chest – open up to the wall in front of you.

Place your feet under your knees – under your shoulders—to lift, straighten your legs.

Step back one stride with your right foot and then your left. Keep feet shoulder width apart, toes facing forward with the potential for you to rotate them outwards no more than 30 degrees.

Take a big breath into your diaphragm. Brace your belly.

Squat: hinge at the hip – imagine spreading the floor in the area between your knees while moving your hips back – like sitting in a chair.

Keep your lower back neutral.

Squat Up. Then Squat back up. 

Keep your knees out and chest up. Lock your hips and knees at the top. Feel the contraction in your glutes. Then break at the hips, push your butt back to the wall behind you, spread the floor (push the area between your knees apart), and squat.

Breathe. Repeat.



Form Tips and Pointers:

How to Squat: Squat in the Power Rack for maximum safety. Set the horizontal safety pins so they can catch the bar if you fail to Squat it.

Happy Squatting!

The Best Chopped Kale Salad, Ever.


Chopped Kale Salad

Get your motors running. This Chopped Kale Salad is the best salad to date.

A while back, a trip to Mad Greens introduced me to the wonders of a well-made chopped kale salad. I asked the staff how they made this delicious salad every morning and he listed off a handful of simple, healthy ingredients but I still didn’t know the portions. Enter the internet. I researched the salad online. Went to do some in the field research at True Food Kitchen, a restaurant rumored to carry another pleasing chopped Kale salad.

What I have for you here is a blended recipe of both the Mad Greens Chopped Kale Salad and the True Food Kitchen version.

This simple chopped Kale salad can be modified several ways. You can use Parmesan cheese or opt for the nutrient packed nutritional yeast (which surprisingly tastes like cheese and packs a mighty 7 grams of protein per serving). The original recipe calls for pecan halves, although I’ve always used shredded almonds because it was what I had in the house. So, what I’m saying is start with this recipe then as you get comfortable with the interchangeable parts, switch em out!

The Best Chopped/Shredded Kale Salad, Ever. 

They key to this salad is the finely shopped or shredded Kale. I like to put destemmed bunches of Kale into my blender or food processor and pulse it until it’s nice and small, tiny shreds. It’s important to have dry Kale when doing this to avoid a gross mixture mess. The salad is perfectly paired with a lemon-garlic dressing and for me, an almond “Parmesan” topping. As I mentioned, to make this diary free, I substitute the Parmesan for nutritional yeast.

This salad keeps in the fridge for a few days, and that’s only if I can actually KEEP it in the fridge. Regardless of how much I make, this salad disappears within a day or two. This salad will take about 20-30 minutes to prep and depending on how large your servings are, can serve as few as 4 people, or 2 people for 5 servings.



  • 2 medium bunches destemmed kale, finely chopped (8 to 9 cups chopped). Use a high-powered blender to cut back on chop time. It took a lot of trial and error for me to realize the blender worked as good as my hands chopping, and reduced prep time by half.
  • 2-3 large garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
  • 2 handfuls dried sweetened cranberries, for garnish
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Few dashes of fine sea salt


  1. Remove the stems from the kale and discard. Finely chop the kale leaves.
  2. For the Almond “Parmesan: In the food processor, add the almonds and process until the almonds are the size of crumbly peas. Now add in the nutritional yeast, oil, and salt and process again until it has a coarse crumb texture. Be sure not to over process
  3. For the dressing: In a mini food processor, process the garlic until minced. Now add the lemon, oil, salt, and pepper and process until joined. Adjust to taste, if desired. Pour the dressing onto the salad and mix it into the kale with your hands or toss with spoons.
  4. Sprinkle the Almond Parmesan all over the salad. Toss on the dried cranberries to taste ( I like a lot of cranberries so I add around a cup when I double this recipe. You can always add more once you’ve sampled the finished product). Place the salad, covered, in the fridge to cool and allow the flavors to mix together. You can eat it after about 30 minutes, or if you’re against waiting, eating it right away is perfectly fine, too! As I mentioned, this salad doesn’t last in my house. I leave it in the large mixing bowl, cover it, and place it in the fridge. It’s eaten at almost every meal for the 2 days that is lasts. After a few days you can start to see the salad losing some of its freshness. Thus all the more incentive to eat it up quickly.

last kale


Blackberry Lavender Scones

Blackberry Lavender Scones

As I type, I’m bubbling with excitement over the delicious scones that bake in the other room. The unmistakable scent of lavender wafting through the house.

I’ve been on a cut, or “diet” for several weeks. I hate the word diet. Why? Because of the feelings almost everyone feels when they hear the work, including me. It promises restriction, restraint, and a sense that you’re missing out on certain foods. That in order to lose weight and look good, you have to kick to the curb anything aside from chicken breast and cous cous. My intentions are to swing in the opposite direction of how I’ve been eating as of late, as I’ve been pretty indulgent (chips, candy, cookies, wine and lots of it). In swinging hard the opposite way, I’ll see the results I want: to lean out while still retaining muscle and strength. In the fitness world, we call this cutting up.  Somewhere during the process, I’ll find my middle ground – neither restrictive or over indulgent.

So after several weeks of very tight food management and reawakening my awareness around food and what I’m putting into my body and how it impacts my body, moods and athletic performance, I decided it was time to reward myself with some (HEALTHY) baked goods. BlackBerry Lavender Walnut Scones.

Let’s get to it. Grab your aprons and turn on some tunes, you’re in for a treat with these delectable delights.

  1. Preheat oven to 425. Line cooking sheet with parchment or foil.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, sugars and salt. Cut the oil into the flour using your hands until it all looks a little grainy and there are no large chunks left. Stir in the delightful lavender.
  3. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the almond milk and vanilla. Mix it together until it is almost all the way combined but stop just before you overkill it and make it a perfectly joined mixture. Good! Fold in berries and walnuts. Again, don’t over mix.
  4. Scoop out dough into 1/3 cup measurements and drop ’em onto the baking sheet. Brush with almond milk, and if you really want to tickle your fancy, a pinch of white sugar on top (I opt out of the extra sugar). Bake until a little golden around the bottom, about 12 minutes with a max of 15.
  5. Remove from oven and experience some self-control, damn it, and only eat a few. Or say fuck it and eat em’ all. Makes about 12-15 depending on how you measure out your servings.

You’ll need: 

2 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

3 tablespoons white sugar

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup refine coconut oil

2 teaspoons dried lavender

1 1/4 cups plain almond milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup fresh berries (black berries, blue berries, whatever berry your heart delights)

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Macros (based on 14 servings)

What makes these healthy, in my opinion, is the source of your carbohydrates, fats, and calories. The major sources of fat are coconut oil and walnuts. Walnuts have omega-3s, powerful free-radical fighting antioxidants, and for some men, a healthy diet of walnuts can enhance prostate health (Who knew?). A majority of the calories from carbohydrates in the scones are from the whole wheat flour. Whole wheat has a bit of an edge because it has the outer layer of the wheat, or bran, and that’s where all the good stuff is: dietary fiber, B vitamins, and antioxidants. Not to mention minerals such as zinc, iron, and magnesium (which helps relieve muscle soreness!)

So, without further ado, here are the macros based on 14 servings

140 Calories

5 g Fat

6 g Sugar

21 g Carbs

3 g Fiber

4 g Protein

Bon appetit!





Anti-Inflammatory Smoothie – Soothe Your Sore Muscles

inflam smoothie

Workout out hard today? Sore muscles? Sip yourself into relief. The ingredients in this smoothie help reduce inflammation and relieve the discomfort of sore muscles.

1 cup (155 g) pitted cherries

1 cup (155g) frozen blueberries

1 tbsp (15 g) GINGER

2 oranges

1 cup (237mL) water (coconut water to further tickle your fancy)

  • Toss all ingredients into a high-powered blender
  • Blend until creamy
  • Pour into your favorite mason jar or mug and enjoy!

Intermittent Fasting For The Female Athlete

Intermittent Fasting (IF) is all the rage in the fitness and health worlds.

For women, there are some extra considerations to account for before deciding if IF is right for you. From my experience, the ideal fasting window for women is 14 hours, max, leaving a 10 hour eating window. Research here findings state women need to consider hormonal balance while fasting and that can safely occur within a 10 hour eating window. Personally, I’ve never felt comfortable or deemed it necessary to extend my fast beyond 14 hours.

IF gets a lot of flack from knowledgeable health professionals, as well as the opposite. IF is an additional stressor on your body and hormones so if you’re battling sleepless nights, chronic stress at work and home, binge eating tendencies, and overloading your body by consistently heavy workouts, IF may not be for you and perhaps the best thing you could do to manage your weight and health is to address all the stressors I’ve just listed – get your shit together and then and only then do I suggest implementing IF.

I believe a person’s mental well-being is also one of the biggest factors when considering beginning IF. If you have esthetic or performance goals and frequently have to cut weight, track your weight, and closely monitor your macros, IF may add to someone’s obsession with their appearance and eating habits. Trust me, I know. I know the benefits of measuring out your portions and penciling down everything you’ve eaten for the day, weighting yourself every morning and tracking your cuts or gainz, and if this is something that stresses you out or triggers control issues, IF may not work for you. I read stories about Fitpro’s who went crazy (think mental clarity overload, as if there’s such a thing), interrupted their hormonal balances, experienced massive weight gains or losses only to have the changes quickly reverse due to binge / under eating. In most cases, this is NOT the result of Intermittent Fasting, it’s the result of years of stress and abuse on one’s body. With or without IF, our bodies and health will have adverse reactions to prolonged periods of stress and abuse; chronic dieting, stress, overtraining, mental well-being, under or over eating all contribute.  People have said they’ve developed eating disorders from IF and I think that’s a bunch of bullshit. If you have obsessive tendencies towards food (and life), sure, the lifestyle requirements that IF places on you will encourage a easting disorder, but IF does not cause a completely healthy, well-balanced, mindful human being to develop an eating disorder out of the blue.

Another common topic of discussion with Intermittent Fasting is the quantity and quality of your food. Ask yourself what are your goals. Why are you starting IF? Is it for weight loss goals or a lifestyle modification. Whatever it is be clear with your end result and allow it to shape your day-to-day fasting decisions. If you have aesthetic goals, managing your calories and macros is essential, and so is the quality of your food. As a weightlifter, I can’t tell you how often I used to eat donuts, desserts, massive meals, all in the name of gainz and refueling calories I’d expend during grueling training sessions. I wasn’t focused on the quality of my food, I was only focused on the quantity. Both matter, don’t forget that.

For me, I chose to start doing Intermittent Fasting for several reasons: increased mental clarity and creativity; as a graduate student I had a many early mornings spent researching and writing my thesis and I found that being fasted enhanced my mental clarity and thus, productive writing time.

Gracious Greens: Smoothies for Energy

Happy Friday to everyone! Recently, one of my clients told me they wanted more energy and were clueless on how to get there without the aid of coffee and red bull. The first thing that I wanted to ask her was “Do you drink greens?”

Here’s my recipe for an energizing smoothie packed full of plant proteins and essential vitamins and minerals.

Gracious Green Goddess
2 cups organic spinach
8 ounces almond milk/coconut water or similar liquid
4-6 fresh mint leaves
Handful of frozen mixed berries
1 organic cucumber,  with skin

Place all your ingredients in a high-powered blender and blend until smooth. Drink immediately.

Add these items to your shopping list this weekend and set yourself up for a healthy, feel-good energy week!

14 Delicious, Nutritious, Slow Cooker Meal Ideas

fail to plan


Greetings to you all! On this wonderful Tuesday morning, I’m taking pen to paper to create a shopping list. I underestimated my time commitments this week, and under-shopped at the store over the weekend. I know I’m not the only one who’s done this! Alas, the internet came to my rescue this morning with a wonderful list of 14 slow cooker meals. This link provides you with a variety of great meal options and not only that, it provides you with macro-nutrient information for each meal! Not only can I save myself time with one of these slow-cooker meals, but the macros are already done for me! Here’s to a successful, productive week to you all. Fail to plan, plan to fail.

29 Life Lessons

nice-quotes-thoughts-past-is-the-best-teacher-life-quotes-best-quotesToday marks my 29th birthday. The better part of my 20’s have been witness to my spiritual growth, but this past year marks monumental growth, and this post sums up 29 of my favorite and rewarding day-to-day habits if you want to cultivate a happier, healthier, you.

1. Be Kind With Yourself

Cut out the negative self talk and doubt. When you find it sneaking up on you, recognize it, find the source, apologize for the thoughts, and surrender it.

2. Have A Morning Ritual

Make tea while meditating on your intentions for the day. Do a 20 minute meditation first thing in the morning. Read an inspirational passage from a spiritual text. Spend 10 minutes in child’s pose and 10 minutes deep breathing. Whatever grounds you in peace, start your day this way, and set a clear intention for the day. And do it habitually

3. Journal

If you don’t journal, start. Reflect on your day: Were you kind and sincere in your interactions? Where there things that triggered you throughout the day that you want to do better with? How was your day? Free writing about things that are following you around and sticking in your head is extremely healthy and therapeutic. Some of the most amazing memories of my life are documented in my journals and reflecting on them years later has shown me my spiritual and personal growth, and encourages me to keep doing what I’m doing.

4. Dance

Dancing is one of the most pure ways to reconnect with our child-hood self and tap into infinite sources of love, laughter, and happiness. Do it often. Too embarrassed to dance in public? Don’t worry, dancing has the same effect when shared with noone but yourself in the privacy of your own home or fitness studio

5. Practice Yoga

It has transformed my spiritual journey and the relationship I have with myself and my ability to love and connect with others. It has changed my life, and I believe can to transform others lives as well.

6. Have An Evening Ritual

Just how we start the day with intention and ritual, so should we end. In the evening you can do the similar ritual you do in the morning; yoga poses, meditation, journal reflection on your day. In addition, in the evening before bed time, visualize and set an intention for yourself for the next day. Work hard to visualize how that day looks to you: abundant with productivity or full of peace and love, etc. Doing this at night increases the likelihood your next day will flourish into what you’ve visualized.

7. Anything Negative You Think Or Say About Another Person Is A Reflection Of Thoughts Towards Yourself

Recognize them. Work on them. Learn and release once you’ve learned.

8. Do Something You love Everyday

Better yet, make it into a career and turn your passions into your life purpose.

9. Be A Good Friend

Most of us are lucky to have one or two people in our lives who will be there through the nitty gritty, as well as the birthdays and fun. Nourish those friendships, we are oh-so-lucky to have people like this in our lives.

10. Manage Your Finances

This year I set up a monthly spending, savings, and expenses budget and managed it diligently. It resulted in increased savings, more awareness of where my  money was going, conscious spending, and I lost the fear and anxiety I have always held on to about money and scarcity. It doesn’t have to be fancy; I keep three running tabs in an envelope in my desk, Food, Gas, Personal- I know my budget for each per month and stick with it. My monthly expenses are factored into another set up. DO what works for you, but what matters is taking responsibility for your finances.

11. Say I Love You More

To those you love, and most importantly, to yourself. And mean it.

12. Do Cardio At Least 3 Times A Week

I love working out; yoga, weightlifting, basketball, rock climbing, hiking anything. But with my variety of activities, I sometimes forget to make time for cardio. I’ve promised to schedule it into my fitness routine at least 3 times a week for 20 minutes. Cardio is the best activity for cardiovascular health, combating Cardiovascular disease, obesity, and much more. Not to mention the heightened production of endorphins will make you happier.

13. Travel

On whatever budget you have, find a way to explore new places locally and not so local.

14. Get OutSide

For me, going for a long way in the morning or evening helps me to connect with myself on a deeper level. They say nature helps us connect with our original selves, so get outside more.

15. Drink Lemon Water Every Morning

Before you drink tea or coffee or whatever, have a glass of fresh lemon water. It kick starts digestive enzymes.

16. Eat Healthier

Make a goal to cut processed sugars and foods, go big and drop gluten and dairy, tpp. I’ve spent most of the year cleaning up my diet and surprise surprise, the cleaner it gets, the better I feel.

17. Watch Less TV

18. Hand Write Letters To Friends/Loved Ones

In the days of emails, texts, and disconnected communication, sometimes the best way to communicate is through your own written words. The person who receives your letters will feel your presence and connection!

19. Volunteer

Anywhere that interests you. Once a week or once a month. Giving back is priceless.

20. Stop And Smell The Flowers

Stop throughout your busy day to practice presence and appreciate the life that is happening in this very second. And if flowers are near by, give em a smell.

21. Listen To Audio Books

No time to read? That’s no longer an excuse. Pick up an app on your phone or tablet from your local public library and check out audio books. For Free.

22.  Connect With Your Child Self

I’ve always remained a kid at heart: Reconnect with yours. No matter how much we’ve grown-up or the level of our professional careers, reconnect with the youthful, playful child within. Researchers have reported on the benefits of “playfulness” in romantic relationships for ages. Do it with your loved ones, or on your own. Just play.

23. Set Specific Goals And Hold Yourself Accountable

What to start your own business? Lay out the steps to get your there; set specific-deadline driven goals and hold yourself accountable to meeting those deadlines. This can help you carry out fitness habits, developing a blog, etc.

24. Get Outside Your Comfort Zone

Do something that scares/exhilarates you.  And do it often. If you aren’t making mistakes/taking risks, you aren’t living. (Just try not to make ones that leave you layin on your face, though those are sure to happen at some point in your life, trust me)

25. Declutter Your Space

Clearing your space has a huge impact on your mental health. Feeling stressed or overwhelmed? Look around you; are your dishes overflowing? Stacks of old mail, books and magazines laying about?  Get rid of it. Clear out your space and increase the energy flow throughout your living space. If you haven’t used it in a year, throw it away or donate it.

26. Keep A Gratitude Journal

Researchers have discovered that people living a whole-hearted life experience joy by cultivating gratitude. I  keep a gratitude journal on my nightstand and write down 3 things a day which I’m grateful for.

27. Laugh

Laughter really is the best medicine. Fill your life with it, do it often.

28. Love

Fall in love with yourself. Fall in love again with your partner. Life is too short to not be loving yourself and someone else, so give it all you got!

29. Life Is Short. Live It Up

The things you’ve always said you wanted to do, the places you’ve said you’ve always wanted to travel, do it. Life is too short to not do what you want.

Ditch Breakfast: The Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting


A recent article on Mind. Body. Green. discussed the often debated topic “Breakfast: The Most Important Meal Of The Day??” Whoever came up with this was lying, and that is something hard for the public to stomach. In this article, the advantages of fasting, specifically Intermittent Fasting are briefly examined. As an athlete who uses Intermittent Fasting, this article provided me with a little more information then I already had, simply reassuring the often mixed debate on the eating window I should use post workout when I’ve trained fasted. Training fasted takes quiet some time getting used to, and I always have to train first thing in the morning, or very early after waking up, allowing me to break my fast post workout around 11 (as a woman, I leave my fasting window open for 10 hours to help stabilize hormone regulation). If I can’t get to the gym first thing in the morning, I’ll break my fast before I lift with something very light, such as a banana (for the carbs and sugar) with a greek yogurt (14 grams of protein and around 15 grams of carbs). Training fasted also encourages adequate coffee consumption; caffeine directly stimulates the muscles. But coffee is a fine line, of course, as you need to keep your muscles hydrated. Caffeine simply helps some of the hunger cravings which may arise, nothing any other stimulate doesn’t do, just practice moderation.

Other benefits I’ve experienced from Intermittent Fasting include higher and sustained natural energy levels, increased mental clarity and creativity, increased fat burning, and a greater exploration of my body-mind-food connection, among many other things. So if you’ve thought about IF, maybe now is the time to try it out! There are some more resources on IF on this blog to help you get started!

The debate on bcaa’s while training fasted is still out. Research shows you can get enough bcaa’s from protein. Read about it here. Where and what are some acceptable forms of bcaa rich protein? Here’s one source.

Naked Summer Bean Salad

What You’ll Need

  • 1 can Garbanzo Beans
  • 1 can Black Beans (Crave extra Zest: Try Cuban Style Black beans)
  • 1 can Sweet  Corn
  • 4-6 Garlic Cloves (minced, to taste)
  • A bunch of basil leaves (chopped, to taste, I use 1-2 full bunches of leaves)
  • A splash of Red Wine Vinegar (to taste, light coating over entire salad)
  • A splash of Olive Oil (to taste, same as the Red Wine Vinegar)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Pepper (to taste)
  • Trader Joe’s Smoked African Spices (optional, to taste)

How TO

  • Put the beans and (warmed/microwaved) corn into a strainer and rinse, allowing all liquid to drain
  • Put beans, corn, minced garlic, chopped basil leaves into a large bowl
  • Add red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt+pepper (any favorite seasoning toppings)
  • Mix, and mix well as you add each ingredient
  • EAT
  • *Chef’s remarks, I like this salad cold, right out of the fridge. And it makes a great side to my paleo big-o bacon burgers, (scroll down mid page for recipe)
  • Additional add in: tomatoes, serve over a bed of kale, quinoa, or couscous.


My Spirituality Backpack: Take 2

I get so many questions about what I’m reading, who I’m listening to and what other spiritual goodies I’ve discovered. My spirituality backpack has developed into my bag of inspiration and guidance for my life.

My spirituality backpack contains resources offered up to me by those near and dear, or simply ones that speak to me at specific moments of my life.

I believe it of the up most importance to change the material we put into our heads and hearts. So often we are bombarded with TV Advertisements, billboards, and radio all advertising a product and potentially influencing and challenging us, most of the time without us realizing it. Just like the TV programs people watch, the audio books I listen to and books I read provide me with guidance and insight to deepen my spirituality and personal growth. Be it the life-long-learner in me, but I love to read, learn and grow and I love sharing my sources with others!


Caroline Myss The Power of Prayer:

Madly In Love With Me, Christine Arylo, That endless tape of critical self-talk played on repeat stands no chance against the loving tools, techniques, and tips offered forth in this book. From soaking in a love bath, to leaving yourself loving inspirational messages, this book gives practicing self love a whole new look. Super girly, but more than worth it.

The Divine Law Of Compensation; On Work, Money, And Miracles, Marianne Williamson

Seven Spiritual Laws of SuccessDeepak Chopra

A Course In Miracles

Wild; From Lost to Found On The Pacific Crest TrailCheryl Strayed,  At some point in our lives we are alone. Utterly, totally, alone and isolated. Sometimes we intentionally isolate ourselves by going somewhere or doing something, like hiking the Pacific Coast Trail (PCT) solo. This book will at the least inspire you to do the things you’ve told yourself you can’t do for whatever reason; it isn’t safe, you can’t afford it, and so on. This book spoke to me in many ways about things I want to do, but have been told it simply isn’t safe to do alone, and as a woman. After the sudden loss of her mother to cancer, the unraveling of her marriage, and her personal struggles overtaking her life, the author journeys outward which becomes her journey inward.

The Gifts Of Imperfection, Brene Brown,

The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho, This fiction read takes you on the personal journey of a boy.

A Return To Love; Reflections On The Principles Of A Course In Miracles, Marianne Williamson

David and Goliath, Underdogs, Misfits, and The Art of Battling Giants, Malcolm Gladwell, A great research based story of the rise of the underdog. Great, inspirational read (audio listen).

This draft has been sitting forever, a constant work in progress. Instead, I’ve decided simply to publish, as is, now.

Living 101: Positive thinking

I woke, planted some positive seeds, and watered the ones flowering from all the days which have come before.

I flowed into my deeper space, my pure state. As I raised my hands above my head, lowering them and stopping at the mind’s eye, gently reminding myself to have kind thoughts towards myself and others, my hands stop at my mouth, emphasizing my words towards myself and others need be kind and loving, and lastly, stopping at my heart’s center and bowing my head gently down, taking the time to recognize myself for giving myself this sacred time, and to remind myself to carry my loving heart for others throughout my day.

This is how I start my day. And this is how I end it. Everyday. Sometimes there’s an evening here or there when I am unable to meditate and give this practice to myself, but there is normally another time during the day where I can supplement it. Rituals like this are also incorporated into most yoga practices.

I read an article recently and it stated – statistics showed that 80% of your thoughts carry over from the day before. So, some people say they have fallen into a funk, or they have had bad  DAYS  which have turned into weeks, months. years. which has turned into a bad LIFE. This is simply the carrying over of negative thoughts from one day to the next. It is the internal story.

When you are in the thick of negative thinking, if you can simply pull yourself up a little, plant some positive seeds, and then nourish them the next day, they will grow. they will spread. Positive thinking is a habit, it is a daily watering ritual, and if you pay attention to your garden, nourish and tend to it, you can cultivate a garden of abundance.

My daily spiritual practice has developed into such a special thing for me.  My intentions of positive thoughts – Beginning my day with such a sacred spiritual practice really sets my mood, thoughts, feelings, tone – VIBRATION, and energy for the day.

People ask “How do you start your day?”

I reply, I start my day thinking and feeling the way I want to feel for the entire day. It’s that simple.



My dark twisted weightlifting platform


I haven’t written about you in a while. Please forgive me. While I have kept up my training, I’ve been too busy to give you the platform on here equivalent to the platform you have given me.

Somedays I cannot see you. You ask so much of me that when I am feeling dark with despair, I will avoid you, in avoiding you, I avoid the darkness boiling within me.

You pull out the darkest secrets I keep buried in my soul. You slam them in my face like you slam into the crease of my hips, over, and over, and over again. You throw yourself up against me, pushing me to force myself up against you. I win. Sometimes you overpower me and I succumb to your monstrous strength.

Still I can not leave you for long, 2 consecutive days, max. I hate you and then I leave you and realize how much I love you. I come back to you, and you welcome me with your familiar touch. familiar sounds. I love you and you love me back. When I am in this place of love with you, we are working together, effortlessly bringing more and more weight up, faster and faster. But you haven’t given me this recently. I have been bashing my weight against you, and you are showing me your strength, your anger at me for not having given you my fullest heart, my deepest attention.

Welcome, to my twisted dark fantasy.

Want to be supremely Happy? 27 effective habits of insanely happy people

Want to be supremely Happy? 27 effective habits of insanely happy people


Humans are creatures of habit. This can be great for developing ourselves, but it can also led to us routinely doing things without thinking, without being mindful.

Insanely happy people, and insanely present people practice and devote their daily lives to establishing healthy habits.

Do you find yourself relating to each and every one of the habits listed in the article? Are there some which you practice more than others? Think about what we could all accomplish if we devoted our days to these kinds of thoughts, habits and interactions.

A big one is they make a point to listen. Ah. yes, when you are interacting with people on the day to day, do you give them your full attention or are you thinking in your head of the response you want to give? People can FEEL your presence, and are endlessly grateful for the platform in which they have been given.

They devote their time to giving. Are you giving back in anyway? Much of my limited ‘free time’ is spend giving back; this blog, volunteering, teaching, etc. It FUELS me. It is my purpose, to serve, in whatever capacity I can. And it is one reason why I am endlessly THANKFUL for this blog, and for everyone who tunes in. It makes me happy.

Right now, one of the most important things I believe in and do is They TRY to be happy. Yes, I TRY to be happy. All the time. I TRY to see the good in everything. I TRY even when I don’t necessarily FEEL it, why? Because it is the HABIT of happiness which needs to be instilled, and I believe it is in the moments when happiness may seem far away or way out of reach, that it is imperative we keep reaching, because it will come. It is here. It is now, our ego’s just hide it from us from time to time. For me, I will FAKE IT TILL I MAKE IT.



P.S. No editing was done in the creation of this blog. Free.

How to focus a wondering mind, and why.


Why multi-tasking and mind wandering is a double edged sword – it can take us away from the present moment, which is the only moment, but it also gives our brains perimeters in which we can learn to become better aware of present moment awareness.

I am a proponent of meditation. Formal, sit and be still meditation. Yoga is also meditation in motion. Swimming, weightlifting, free writing, etc. All these things can be forms of meditation and productive for the brain’s neuroplasticity.

But, what it important, as I have found, is the practice of actual mindful, seated meditation which I begin and end my days with.

I hope you find this article informative, as it gives a much more scientific approach to understanding how the brain functions with and without meditation.

Blessings to you today.





This is about love – From my love Guru, Shelly Bullard, MFT

I can’t remember how I stumbled across Ms. Shelly Bullard but I can tell you that since I have, my AH HA meter has been going off NONE stop in the love/patterns/men/self love department. Her articles just SMACK me in the face.

If you have questions about your relationship belief systems, about what it means to have a healthy loving relationship with yourself, and with a partner, if you have ANY questions or are looking to learn more about yourself and how through being the best version of yourself will lead to a higher success rate for a lasting relationship, well then read on and let me introduce you to my love guru, Shelly.





21-day Meditation Challenge


So. I have been slacking on one thing that I KNOW is essential to bettering myself, meditating. I receive a lot of my bliss in much of my life, weightlifting and yoga both require mindlessness. But regardless of the ways I tap into bliss, a regular meditation practice is essential in order to…. well, be. To be the radiant spiritual being that I am.

Oprah and Deepak have put together an AWESOME program online FO FREE. The meditation challenge focuses on Miraculous Relationships, and starts with the relationship within us all.  It has daily guided meditations, resources, online journal with reflection questions and empowering thoughts to build on our practice, community, forums, etc. Everything. It is SO awesome. And since I somewhat fell off the “I’m meditating for 10 minutes every morning and every night” wagon, I’m getting back on it with a little help from Oprah.

So, please come along with me on this meditation journey. It will take very little time out of your day, I know we are all ‘busy.” Plus, there are some of you who I KNOW are ready for this because a few of you have been reaching out to me about mindfulness. So. Here it is.



“The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart.” —Buddha





A 5 step guide to mindfulness

If you have been in a FUNK, or thinking to yourself, SOMETHING needs to change AKA I NEED to change well, I think you are at the right place.

My weeks have been full of AH HA  moments lately and in those moments I become more and more aware. In becoming more aware, it solidifies the things in my life which fuel me, my life, and my growth. I want to share some of those things with YOU today!

5 mindful practices to change your life. Starting today.  

Yoga:  It comes to me when I know I need to be still with my mind. To stretch my body and tap INTO my inner voice by listening and feeling every square inch of my body through intentional movements. Setting my daily yoga intention to BE in every moment my practice gives me. I know yoga can changes lives, because it has mine

Meditation: Practicing mindfulness. Sitting in silence. Sit. in. Silence. HOW TO: COMMITTING to a practice of 10 minutes a day, for 30 days. After 30 days of mindful meditation, reflect. Have you felt an overall improvement in your moods, your energy levels? Have you experienced heightened periods of consciousness? I promise you the answer to all of those questions will be YES. If you find in the beginning of your practice your mind tends to wonder, be gentle with it. Guided meditation can help you with your practice. Here is a resource: http://www.meditationoasis.com/

Exercise:  Daily. Tap INTO the POWER you harness by USING your body, by DEVELOPING the muscles in your being. Your body is THE VEHICLE which carries you throughout your journey. How to: COMMIT to working out 3-5 times a week, for 6 weeks. Apply the reflection process for exercise as you did for your meditation practice. If you don’t know where to start in regards to exercising, here is a step-by-step guide to get you started (yes, for women, but plenty of resources on there for men as well): http://www.simplyshredded.com/the-ultimate-female-training-guide.html

Laughter:  Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed. Do not forget that. Keep a light mind, heart, and spirit with you. Laugh with the heart of a child. ENJOY your LIFE, RIGHT NOW. It is not about “When I get the big promotion, when HE/SHE asks me out, when I lose the 20 pounds” I will be happy. It is about NOW. The quote that rings true here: “It is about the journey, not the destination.” It is not in the end result, in the finish line, in the ‘accomplishment’ that we are after, it is the period in which we spend in-between the beginning and the end of our individual goals in life in which we are truly living. Divinely. We can not forget that IN THIS MOMENT we are THE BEST we can be.

 Love: I heard something a long time ago that has stuck, “Love the things which are easy to love, and stretch to love the things that are hard.” Love your career, love your smile, love your friends, love your enemies, love YOURSELF, PHEW- isn’t this one sometimes the hardest?! Do not harden your heart to its given power, to its DIVINE purpose which is to LOVE. When you look at your life with LOVING intentions, you FEEL the energy of love PULSING throughout your body. Keep this with you and use it to remind you to love, always.

its the journey

As I was writing this I sat and watched a ladybug land on my hand. As I gently moved my hand over, back and forth, allowing myself to watch this TINY BEAUTIFUL creature navigate its way around the surface of my hand, I felt its tiny little legs crawling over my skin, saw its vibrant red shell bobbing all around my hand. I noticed my breathing slowing down, I noticed the crickets, grasshoppers, birds and the LIFE buzzing ALL AROUND ME, RIGHT NOW, with this tiny little insect navigating its life, ON MY BODY. And just like that, its wings opened up, and it fluttered away. I strive to experience life, every moment, as intensely as this one. Life is about BAZILLIONS of these tiny little moments.

Do not forget that this life is here today as a gift meant to be lived, loved, cherished and released from us just a easily as it came to us.

HodgeTwins on Intermittent Fasting!

Who knew the BOSS HodgeTwins did Intermittent Fasting!?

I learn something new errrrrrrrrrryday.

Watch the video then down below, check out my experiences with IF so far.


  • I’ve been on IF for 3 weeks and I am LEANING out. I have gone down 2-3% body fat and am making strength GAINS.
  • I have been doing 10/14- 10 hour eating window which opens up after my morning workouts, and 14 hours of fasting, which starts around 10 at night (as I’ve mentioned, it has been suggested women allow for a longer ‘eating’ window to encourage hormone stabilization)
  • Also, eating this late at nite may not be best for everyone, you have to see what works best for you. I don’t go to bed until around 11ish, and eating this late COULD be problematic for some bodies, not mine. This is something you have to listen to your own body and evaluate the lifestyle. I lift early every day, maintain an extremely active lifestyle, so eating and then passing out does equate to me gaining weight. Ya follow?
  •  To kick the hunger which gets POWERFUL: Some mornings are hungrier than others, and on those days I utilize straight up black coffee and a heaping spoon of coconut oil. Kicks the hunger.
  • Calorie Counter app for Smart phones: Save meals, quick access to entering up and managing micros for the day.
  • Protein intake: I try to get .7-1 gram of protein per pound of body weight daily. Some days I go a bit under, but then other days I go over, I believe it is all about balancing things out.
  • Biggest meal of the day on leangains IF is post workout. I make sure to get at LEAST 1000 calories in on this meal. This sometimes takes up to and over an hour.
  • Encourages binge eating: If you have binge eating ‘problems’ IF may not be good for you as it almost encourages you/forces you to binge eat, especially if you are an athlete, as I am. I have no problems with this, but if I ever ‘slow down’ athletically, I may have to break this binging habit.This same ‘problem’ also applies to the REDIC amount of cookies I am eating. Yes. I am eating a FUCK ton of cookies.

Happy fasting folks. And have fun LEANING the fuck out while building and developing SEXY MUSCLES

Disclaimer: Oh, and don’t be irresponsible and follow my advice without doing your OWN research and talking to doctors if you know you need to be consulting them before doing IF or working out. This is my OWN personal experience with IF, and my research is based off talking to others who fast, online sources, and a few books. LISTEN to your own body.

If at first you don’t succeed try, try again.

Feelin like a PIMP dusting the DIRT off my shoulder.


Backsquat 79 kilos. MAXIN NEXT WEEK SON!

Snatch 2 x 2 LIGHT WEIGHT

Drop Snatch 2 x 2 @ 35 kilos,

2 x 2 @ 40 kilos

Fuckin dropping weights. Picking them up. Doing it again. 174 pounds on my back can’t even HOLD ME BACK!

Boss living, boss lifting. Get yo SHIT pumped today



Lessons learned from the platform

1. Do you.

If this means blowing off socializing in order to throw weights around, or to catch up on recovery sleep, DO YOU. If they are good friends, they will understand that you are doing what is necessary for you to perform at your best, don’t let anyone hold you back.

2. Find your Flow.
Find something that gets you in the zone. This is a state of mind where you are completely absorbed in the moment. For me, this is when I am adjusting my grip, taking a few breaths, setting up my lift..Everything melts away. . I am in my zone.  Find MANY things that transport you into this zone. It releases endorphin’s, the drug of choice for happy people.

3. Your body is your temple. Respect it. Love it.
Treat yourself kindly. Give it proper food, sleep, and nourishment. Meditate, do yoga, be loving to the vehicle which physically propels you through life.

4. Take chances. Often. Usually big ones.
Load up weight you aren’t sure you can clean,Travel to new places, read different books, whatever. GO. OUTSIDE. your COMFORT ZONE. It is only when we get truly uncomfortable do we open ourselves up for possibility of something great, be it growth, love, a new PR, whatever. Just do it. NO one EVER experienced GREATNESS without great effort. Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Buddha…

5. be a boss.
Seriously. On and off the platform. In and out of the classroom. the office. at home. in the gym. Fucking be present, and give your best lift attempt at life. It’s fucking awesome.

Today’s lift

  • snatch wrmups
  • snatch 2 x 2 @ 70%
  • For fun: Clean & jerk to within 10-20% of PR weight. 4 x 2 @ 45 kg
  • 2 x 1 @ 53 kg

Video: Sara: c & j 45 kg, 50 kg.
Aaron: pwr snatchin 70 kg
Post knee surgery/recovery, power snatching like a BOSS. Endlessly grateful he’s introduced me to this beautiful sport.

A life well lived

A life well lived.

Life is a life-long lesson in learning.

Life is an ADVENTURE!

Start living it today. Race after it. Once you are in the race, you have two choices, to slow down your pace to increase your changes of running further, or longer.

Or you can run faster. Really fast. Because sprinting like a kid through the race of life is way more fun than taking it slow or playing it safe.

And if you aren’t falling down, run faster.

run harder.

push yourself more.

Do more.

Be more.

Give more.

Live more.

Love more. Just. Love.

Day (483) – White Hot and Passionate

I love this.

Time itself is SO short. Whatever you do, whatever you love, do it with all your heart. Leap and fall often. Push yourself further today than you were capable of yesterday. Immerse yourself in your passions until they wear on you, for is living a life without PASSION living at all?

Do the things that challenge you. Take chances. BIG ones. Sometimes we succeed while others we won’t. The result is not always what is important, it is what we learn about ourselves in the process that is worthwhile.
And if we have some great experiences and become badasses in the process, there really is nothing to lose.

I love this. Time itself is SO short. Whatever you do, whatever you love, do it with all your heart. Leap and fall often. Push yourself further today than you were capable of yesterday. Immerse yourself in your passions until they wear on you, for is living a life without PASSION living at all? Do … Continue reading Day (483) – White Hot and Passionate

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