Throwback Thursday: 1 Year Anniversary

“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.”

imageOne year ago today, I reached my original weight loss goal after 11 months of creating a lifestyle change.

Looking back, I wrote:

“338 days ago, the life I had been living for 15 years changed. For the better.

I can now be proud to tell you I was a competitive runner from 7th grade through college. I can tell you my career was in corporate fitness and I helped open the Valley Health Wellness & Fitness Center.

Before, I would definitely shy away from discussing my athletic accomplishments and educational background. Growing up in PA, friends in Winchester weren’t fully aware of my athletic background, and for that I was glad. I would be slightly embarrassed to tell them I once ran a 5:04 mile; that I still hold a couple district records and a state record. When the discussion would arise, I would say, “I know it’s hard to tell by the way I look now”. I was ashamed to tell people that I also had a degree in exercise science. I could just imagine them thinking, “she obviously doesn’t practice what she preaches”.

Me, 2011

How did I go from a Division I athlete to a sedentary lifestyle? Life. A year after college graduation, I met my husband along with his two children (who lived with us) and soon after, we added a third child. My husband traveled a lot with work. My priorities shifted. I would say I didn’t have the time to exercise. With two active children and a toddler, we were always on the go and didn’t always eat the best food. The weight packed on.

During perhaps the busiest time of my life – being a wife, a mother, working full-time starting up a local business and running my own business – I am unsure of the catalyst – but I decided it was time to make a change.

I had started to eat healthier (or so I thought). I just happened to attend a business luncheon and saw Jacqueline Shoemaker, owner of Winchester Weight Loss. I shared with her that I was starting to eat healthier, but wasn’t really losing. She said three little words – drop. the. carbs. My exact words back to her were, “I can do anything but that! I love carbs!”. However, I decided I had nothing to lose (but pounds!) and I would at least try.

Concurrently, I attempted running again. It was painful and disappointing. I could barely make a half mile, let alone a mile. I would struggle, but kept putting one foot in front of another, alternating walking and running. Each day, I promised myself at least 30 minutes of time to exercise.

Here I am, nearly 1 year later. I am 60 lbs. lighter. I just finished my first half marathon. I am teaching fitness classes and leading a kids running club. I am not ashamed to talk about my past.

I tell you this not because I want to boast. I want you to hear about someone that may be just like you. I want you to know you can do this. Make yourself a priority. Invest in your health.

Know the journey may be frustrating. The numbers on the scale will go up and down; you may not be able to run a mile or finish an exercise class. Stick with it.

After the half marathon, I told my husband this race was most likely the one I was most proud of finishing. When I was young, it was easy to run; easy to find the time and I didn’t have “adult” stress. Sunday, I didn’t win the race or even my age group. BUT – this medal represented a year long journey of finding me again.”

After my 1st Half Marathon – 4/2016

Over the last year, I have lost an additional 10 lbs and am hoping to maintain my current weight. Once again, I can say I am a competitive runner (and am LOVING it!). Training with friends, racing and setting new personal records has reignited my passion for running. Helping friends and family reach their goals has made my heart feel full. I am happy.

I feel like ME. 

Left: Before 2011/2012 Right: 2017

Every now and then, it’s nice to look back and see how far you’ve come.

If you haven’t read my journey, visit my earlier posts Runaissance, Making A Change, and Into a Holding Pattern to get more insight on how I made a lifestyle change.

Do you want to make a change? Have a question on how to get started? If so, always feel free to message me!

Until next time,



How the times have changed…

What’s old is new again…but better?

Some say the days go by slow, but the years go by fast. Truth. When I think about my running hiatus, it can be so hard to believe it was 15 years ago when I walked off the track and hung up my running shoes.

Now, running is still the same; yet so different.

In the 90s, I pretty much donned a pair of trainers, maybe put on my Timex and went for a run. Maybe, someone would drive around and measure a course to navigate and off I’d go. I had no idea of pace; distance during the run or heart rate. I just ran. I’d finish my run and then drink tap water.

Coming back into the running world, wow, was I overwhelmed with new products and gear. Today, we are surrounded by GPS watches, a myriad of running shoes, compression gear, hydration replacement, fuel and so much more. This last year, I have been educated in many of these areas and have tried a variety of new gear. I thought I’d share my favorites for any runners who may new to the game.

All opinions are my own and not influenced by any brands mentioned.



I’m pretty sure my first pair of running shoes were a pair of Nike Air Pegasus and I know I definitely had the Asics above at some point. When I started running again, I tried to go back to my tried-and-true Asics and unfortunately, this brand just didn’t work for me as well as it once did. While training and racing half marathons, I was suffering from blisters often.

After researching and talking to friends who run in zero drop shoes, I decided to try a pair and I LOVE them. I wish had several pairs of Topos! Since I switched to a shoe with a wider toe box and also started wearing a better sock, I haven’t had a single blister.



No fancy GPS, pacing or heart rate tracking here. Push start at the beginning and stop at the end….or wow, take splits! In college, one of my teammates was a math whiz and she would calculate our pace then inform the rest of us. Otherwise, we just tried to base our runs off of perceived effort.

These days, I have a simple but much more impressive Garmin – love being able to just hit the road running and have an idea of how far I’m going without necessarily having to plan a route beforehand. I do have to say I like the instant gratification of knowing my mile pace.



When younger, I usually rehydrated with basic H2O; most likely straight from the tap. Yikes. Maybe we had Gatorade or how about AllSport?

After training for a marathon throughout the summer, hydration was key for performance and recovery. I tried a variety of beverages to rehydrate during and after my long runs. Some made my stomach feel not too great. I’m happy to say I found Nuun and now I’m a Nuun ambassador. Clean product and perfect for me after a run or working out.

As far as basic water, learning about pH and the alkalinity of bottled and tap water has been eye opening – do you know what’s in the water you are drinking?



Now, this was a completely new area for me. I have struggled with hypoglycemia, so I was “fueling” 5Ks back in the day. Often I’d have an apple or bagel about 2 hours before I’d run. Some race days, you’d find me with a blue tongue prior to the race – I used to eat blue raspberry blow pops before races to give me a quick burst of energy to last through the 20 minutes of racing. Then, I’d crash.

When I started to train for half marathon and marathons, I asked many friends and researched fueling options including jelly bean and goo options. I headed to the store and purchased several different types which I tried during my training runs. Some were pretty gross and some were like candy (maybe my blue raspberry pop wasn’t too far off!).

My suggestion is to try several and find what works for you..and try them during your training runs, not race day!


Another new area of gear I’m learning about and I will be sharing more information on this category soon! Watch out for some news and a review in the upcoming days.

Massage/Foam Rollers


Often, I think about how lucky I was in high school. My dad, mom or coach gave me a leg massage before every.single.race. We’d break out the Atomic Balm and I’d get a fiery leg massage before heading out on the track or course. Some serious ointment although these days, I use something less atomic.

Foam roller. Ahhh, my saving grace after my 1st marathon. I’m pretty sure every single muscle was sore after 26.2 miles. A friend suggested foam rolling, so once again I headed to the store in search of a foam cylinder to help with my aches and pains. Since I don’t have my full massage team at my disposal these days, being able to replicate a massage with the foam roller is great!

So, there are a few of my new favorite things.

Have you been a runner for a long time? What gear do you love now? What gear do you miss?

Until next time,





Back in Action !

“Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.”
― Dean Karnazes

Hey all! Sorry for the delay in posting. Since Richmond, it has been a few busy weeks with work and I’ve been pondering about what I would write next.

Ohh, before I go on, here’s my finisher’s certificate!


After Richmond, I was definitely on my runner’s high for at least a week. As you know, the last few miles of the race were tough with cramps/spasms in my legs and my quads were sore for a few days. Looking back, I should have rested for a little while longer but I thought a little jog will help loosen up the muscles. Or, I was just stubborn (my husband is probably nodding his head). I do have to say, runners are awful about #1 resting when needed and #2 stretching!

Any way, I have been battling an annoying IT band since. In the last two weeks, I’ve been able to only train maybe twice a week – I finally gave in to give my leg more rest and focused on HIIT as well as a lot of foam rolling and stretching.

In between all the resting, I did jump in two 5ks. The Thanksgiving Day 5K was great with family and friends – finished 1st in my a.g. with a 21:09. After the race, I felt so great I headed out on a 9 miler with friends the following Saturday – yeaaaah, probably should have rested a little more! Strangely, I felt much better during the race than during training runs.

This past weekend, my son and I did the first race of an 8 part winter series. Conditions: approximately 37 degrees, 14 mph winds with gusts; wicked! The theme was “Beat the Clock” but unfortunately I had other commitments after the race I needed to accomplish, so we headed out at the hour mark start. Course was out and back; and we ran into the wind for the first half. Coming back after the turnaround point was great – less wind and I was able to see so many running friends – love all the support. Finished sub 21 – slowly working towards my 5k goal time.

Right now, I am planning on the Winter Series, a spring half marathon and wondering what else I would like to do. A few girlfriends and I discussed the possibility of JFK50 next year, but there was a little wine involved, haha. I think doing it together with no goal time would be a great experience.

I was also accepted as a 2017 Honey Stinger Ambassador since my last post. Since I run so early, I usually sleep in until the last possible minute and don’t have time to eat breakfast before I hit the pavement. However, I really enjoy eating a Honey Stinger waffle before I go. The chews are also great fuel during those LSD runs. If you haven’t tried them yet, you should!

Enough catching up for today – but I want to stress to my fellow runners (and a reminder to myself!) to stretch. Before races, I see many runners warming up; going through dynamic stretching – but after – rarely see anyone cooling down or stretching. Same with training runs – we are all guilty. We finish, and especially now that it’s cold, jump in our car and head to the nearest coffee shop.

Take a few minutes, whether right after your run, or later at home, to stretch!

Why is stretching after important?

  • Can help reduce muscle soreness – start to move lactic acid from the  muscle.
  • Help prevent injury.
  • Increases range of motion.

There are still some mixed reviews on the importance of stretching. However, I feel I can place more load/stress on a stretched, loose muscle than when I’m sore and tight. Do what works for you!

Chat soon,


Into a Holding Pattern

“The best motivation always comes from within.”
– Michael Johnson

A few weeks ago, I began to tell you the first part of my story – from my first organized practice through 4 years of college. When I left off, I was heading back to the DC Metro region for my first career position.

When I moved back to MD, I began working in corporate fitness. My company was a contracted company for a telecommunications giant in Virginia. My first role was an entry-level fitness specialist conducting fitness assessments and prescribing exercise programs. At this time, working out was still not a frequent activity in my life and I even spent 8+ hours at a gym every day!

Within the first few months at the center, I met my future husband. J would come in daily with his work buddies; hit the elliptical and then the weights. My duties included chatting with our members, so I was able to get to know him each time he came to work out. Our daily conversations lead to an evening out and sort of a whirlwind romance.

Fairly quickly, we moved in together and within a year of meeting each other were engaged. When I met my husband, he had a 6 year old daughter and an 8 year old son who lived with him the majority of the time.  In addition to gaining a spouse, I also became part of an “insta-family”.

A couple years later, we added a son and a dog to our family and moved to Winchester, VA.  The older kids were involved in many activities – roller hockey, cheerleading, track, etc over the years.

Running for me was extremely spotty over these years. I would try to run outside or on the treadmill, but I wouldn’t keep up any streak. My internal athlete hadn’t disappeared however. When I would go to our kids’ track meets, I felt my legs were literally craving to run . I wanted to feel the sponginess of the track under my feet and the wind through my hair. Fondly, I would remember running the anchor leg of the 4×400 in high school at the end of a track meet. The sun would be setting; the cool air entering my lungs and I’d be ignoring the fatigue settling into my legs after running several events.  I wanted to feel that again, but I just couldn’t seem to get there.

Priorities were different now. My husband commuted 3 hours round trip per day and went out of town on business travel up to two weeks a month. With 3 kids at home, I felt like I was doing all I could just to keep up the house and get everyone to their respective activities. I did not try to make time for myself. Looking back now, I confess I wasted a lot of time where I could have easily found time to exercise.

Years went by and I became more and more unhealthy. When I would visit my hometown, I would dread the possibility of running into someone I knew. I enjoyed living elsewhere since my current friends weren’t aware of my past athletic achievements and my old friends weren’t aware of the difference in my appearance.

Eventually, I grew tired. Tired of watching the Biggest Loser on TV and wanting to lose even a fraction of what the contestants were losing. Tired of needing to purchase bigger clothes. Tired of having the craving to run, but not hitting the pavement. I am in my 30s and decided this was the time. I wanted to look fit for my husband. I wanted to be healthy for my kids. I wanted to be an athlete again.

“To change your life, you must change your priorities.”

I cannot adequately describe how mentally and physically tough it was to begin. Walking was all I could do at first. I would try to run – my butt would jiggle; my thighs would brush against each other, my lungs would burn; it all would frustrate me. I would barely make it a half mile, let alone a quarter mile. The first time I ran a straight mile, I think it took me about 11 minutes. A far cry from my 5:04 in high school. Yet, I kept plugging along.

Thankfully, my husband was alongside me most of the workouts in the beginning. We would walk, hike and jog a little together; talking about our day. Eventually, I began to run a little bit further and a little bit faster. Soon my husband would say, just go on ahead without me.


At least 3-4 days per week, I carved 30 minutes of “me” time into my schedule. Sometimes it was before work, sometimes after. As with any other item on my “to-d0” list, exercise was just one more line to cross off at the end of the day. Slow and steady baby steps began to lead into faster strides, increasing into 3-4 miles. In addition to eating better, pounds began to drop. I was feeling better – mentally, physically and emotionally.

This brings us up to about late 2015. I will continue my story about how I increased my pace, maintained my weight and became stronger in upcoming posts.

Hopefully you were able to get to know a little more about my past from these previous 2 blogs.

Years ago, I am unsure if I would be comfortable writing about my struggles. However, in addition to losing weight and running again, I have found my voice. Public speaking almost terrifies me, but crafting my experiences into these posts is almost cleansing. I have learned so much about myself and I am thankful that I have inspired a few of you.

Keep checking in for more posts about running, nutrition and in general, just being a healthier YOU!