Staying active and eating healthy while on vacation

Bike riding on vacation

Bike riding at the beach

I get asked why I workout on vacation and do I also watch my eating while I’m away. I workout mainly because I feel best when I do. It’s also a great way to get a little time to myself and to explore my vacation spot. I often vacation with family and that hour or two by myself gives me energy and peace.

I carry fitness bands with me so I can strength train and on rainy days I’ll do a fitness video from YouTube or Fitness Blender. There is something to be said for running and biking in a new place. It makes the time fly by and I meet some interesting people. If you have run with me you know I stop to pet ALL the dogs who want to be pet. On vacation I stop for photos of things that interest me along the way. It keeps the workout fun and I have a digital memory of the sites.

Food is slightly more complicated. I bring snacks with me for the car (or plane) ride. I keep healthy snacks on hand for a quick breakfast before a workout or to tide me over to the next meal. I stock up on fruits and vegetables, keep oatmeal, whole grain breads, chia seeds, and sunflower butter on hand for breakfast and healthy options around for lunch.

I rented a house on our last trip so I generally ate breakfast and lunch there. Dinners were split between going out and grilling at the house. I enjoy a salad with both lunch and dinner to help keep me full and get my veggies in. Sometimes lunch is a large salad with some protein.

I do have dessert because I enjoy it. I get the smallest cup of ice cream, sometimes that’s the kiddie cup, or I get some local treats to share with the rest of the family. Dark chocolate also makes a good treat and a square or two is all I need to satisfy me.

When I am in a hotel room I still keep healthy snacks and breakfast on hand. If breakfast is included I usually choose the same options I would have at home: eggs, cereal, yogurt, fruit, etc. If there are waffles I will splurge one day and eat one; lunch that day is a healthier choice.

One thing I generally skip are mixed drinks, I would rather get my calories elsewhere. I do have a glass of wine or a beer but most days I leave it at one. Obviously there are exceptions and I don’t sweat about them.

I keep my choices healthy about 80% of the time on vacation. It’s an easy way to stay in balance without feeling deprived.

What are your tips for staying healthy and still enjoying yourself while on vacation?

Do you need help creating a balanced and healthy eating plan? Email me at and together we can come up with a plan that works specifically for you.

How to Get Motivated

I get asked how I stay motivated to work out so often, especially if I am not training for an event or taking a class at the gym. Honestly, it’s a habit now and one I miss when I don’t do it. It wasn’t always and there are days when I have to talk myself into making spin class or go out for a run.

Some days I give myself a pass and I just do something else. If I really don’t feel like running I’ll choose a dance class or break up my run with strength training. I get running intervals in but I’m not running for 3 or 4 miles straight. I’ll also make a deal with myself that I will work out for 15 minutes. If I truly still don’t want to workout I will stop. I’ve stopped about four times in 20 years, usually because I just didn’t feel well enough to keep going.

Yes, I’ve been working out pretty consistently for over 20 years. How the heck is that even possible? I didn’t start with hard exercises and I didn’t workout for long periods of time when I first started exercising again. I periodically add try new fitness trends to keep things interesting. Some I liked and some I didn’t.

Trying new to you workouts keep things fresh and can spark motivation. I had no idea that I would love belly dancing, bosu, or Pilates. I didn’t like Pilates very much when I first tried it, nor did I like spin – not one little bit. Now I do them regularly. Sometimes you have to try a few classes to see if you like it or not. An unskilled instructor could put you off something you might otherwise like.

On the other hand, if you truly dislike a workout there is no point in trying to stick with it. Fitness shouldn’t be something you dread, find something you like doing and that makes you feel good afterward.

I motivate myself for long runs by finding someone to run with. It makes it easier to get out the door knowing someone is waiting for me. Group fitness classes can also provide that accountability; my spin and Pilates instructors will ask me where I was if I miss class as do some friends I’ve made in the class. Knowing someone is waiting can be a great motivator.

Finally, get your clothes and gear ready the night before and exercise first thing in the morning. There’s less time to think about reasons as to why you can’t or won’t when you just get moving right away. Starting your day on a positive note is a great way to build a habit.

To recap:

  • Make a deal with yourself to workout for 15 minutes
  • Choose a different workout then what you planned on
  • Try new workouts
  • Give a workout a few tries before deciding if you like it or not
  • Do something you enjoy
  • Find a workout buddy or group
  • Do it first thing in the morning

Do you need help in creating healthy habits? Email me,, to see how I can help you create the healthier lifestyle you desire.


Pilates Reformer Sessions and What I Learned From It

photo by: Balanced Body Video

I finished up my Pilates reformer private sessions and I enjoyed them, much to my surprise. I had never been a huge fan of Pilates, I’ve taken mat classes here and there over the years. They never excited me enough to go regularly but injuries and insistence, uh I mean encouragement, from my cousin had me give it another shot.

Theses sessions had me working hard and they were an eye opener. It’s always humbling to start a new exercise and realize that even though you’re in good shape there are things you need to improve. I was aware that I had imbalances but this definitely highlighted where my strengths and weaknesses lie.

I would not say my core is my strongest part of my body but it has gotten stronger with a variety of core targeted exercises and mat Pilates classes. The reformer sessions really took things up a level and I can see why people get hooked. I was also able to try the Pilates chair and have signed up for small group classes so I can keep working on my imbalances and strengthen my core.

I noticed that it helps in my running, I can feel my glutes engaging more as I run. Before I run I add in a set of marching bridges to my warm up to fire up my glutes. Having a stronger core also helps with my running form and makes breathing easier. Gotta love that.

In general it helps more with my posture, both in daily life and while working out. I sit at a computer for large chunks of time where I slouch and hunch over. This causes tight hip flexors and lower back pain. It’s been a while since I haven’t had back or hip pain, I’m working on changing that.

As with most classes I do recommend taking one with a live teacher before you do dvd or on-demand class. They can help you adjust your posture and do the moves safely and correctly. For instance, I tend to hike up my hip in Warrior III, which can exacerbate the imbalances and add to injury. Now that I know this I am much more aware when I practice on my own.

What new exercise have you tried lately? Did you like or dislike it?

Are you fan of Pilates?

Want other exercise ideas, healthy recipes, and tips? Follow me on Facebook at: The Empowered Plate.

Spinning, Pilates, and What Do You Want to Talk About?

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. I wasn’t running due to injury and felt that my voice wasn’t fresh when it came to my other posts. I wanted to be authentic in what I wrote and not just regurgitate what everyone else is already speaking about. To that end I think what I do best is write about what people actually ask me or comment to me. If you have a question or want me to talk about a particular topic, please email me at

I’ve been taking a few different classes at the YMCA and doing my strength training there. I’m using the assisted pull-up machine and while I am a while off from doing unassisted pull-ups I definitely feel stronger and notice more muscle definition. I am also trying to get those lazy glutes activated and my hip stronger.

It feels like a never-ending battle to keep the glutes and hips strong and stable. I do the exercises but I feel like there’s some key that I’m missing. In my o quest I’m trying Pilates Reformer sessions for 5 weeks. I know that it will help my core, which will alleviate some back pain, make spinning, running, and day-to-day life easier. Will it make my hip stronger? One can hope!

I’ve been taking regular spin classes as well as mat Pilates. Neither of these were favorites of mine previously. In fact, I down right despised spin. Having an injury and wanting to maintain fitness will have you doing things outside of your comfort zone. I ruptured the fascia in my foot and spinning has been a good way to keep my endurance strong.

I happened to take the one of the hardest classes offered. It was not on purpose but I liked the instructor’s style so I stuck with it. Turns out that was the best thing for me. I’ve taken a few other classes but I still prefer the strength and endurance combination that this particular instructor uses. When I started running again I didn’t feel like I was starting from scratch.

I’ve incorporated yoga and mat Pilates to strengthen my core as well as reduce back and hip pain. While it’s helping I need more, hence the reformer classes. I’m a bit nervous about them and tomorrow is my first class.

How are you stretching yourself physically?

Do you stick with the tried and true or do you branch out into other exercises?

Had an injury? Do you cross train, when allowed by your doctor?

The Pressure to Be Perfect

perfectMost of us put a crazy amount of pressure on ourselves to do things perfectly. I’m not saying you shouldn’t strive to do your best in most circumstances but perfect is generally not attainable. Or, at least, our idea of perfect isn’t attainable.

In a perfect world I’d be running every morning, my house would be clean (not even in wildest imagination do I think my house could be spotless), meals would be prepped ahead and I would have dinner ready well before 8 pm.

In truth, my house gets messy, I run or exercise when I have time that particular day, and some days we often eat dinner after 8 pm. What I get right; my meals are usually healthy, greens are washed and ready to go, there are healthy grab and go meal options for when I am crazy busy, and I fit exercise in.

I have run with friends who beat themselves up if they need to walk, run a little slower or end their run early. Listening the their bodies actually helps their next event, they’re not too exhausted to give it their best. Generally they do well at their races and sometimes even beat their envisioned times. The training may not be their idea of perfect but the results are pretty darn good.

I have a client who is frustrated with his meal choices but hates cooking. My job is to figure out if there’s anything he doesn’t mind making at home and how to have him order the best options for the rest of the time.

Is it perfect? Nope, but it’s better than eating junk food or meals that are supposedly healthy but don’t keep him satisfied. He has also confessed to hitting up the drugstore and grabbing candy at night. Seriously? I’d rather you ordered a meal or, at least, grabbed a yogurt and a piece of fruit.

So you don’t always buy organic, meals aren’t always from scratch and dry shampoo has become you’re biggest beauty must-have. The world isn’t going to end.

Are you struggling with healthy choices and making time for fitness? Email me,, to schedule a consultation. Together we can come up with a plan that works for you.

Why I Dislike My Fitness Tracker and Use it Anyway

runners legsI am not a fan of my fitness trackers. Yes, I have two. No, I don’t wear them both at the same time. I’m not quite that obsessive.

They have their good points, especially if you tend to be sedentary during the day. I sit at my computer a lot for work and like the reminder to get up and move more. I also like to see how consistently I am exercising on days when I don’t run.

What drives me nuts is that FitBit seems more accurate with mileage and counts the exercise I log towards my steps. But the Jawbone UP3 wins for one simple reason; I can program it to buzz me when I’ve been sitting for longer than an hour. I can choose the time period as well as the days for this. (It’s turned off on the weekends. I move more than enough without the reminder).

The truth of the matter is most of us sit way too much during the day and an hour’s worth of exercise doesn’t negate that. Blech. There are days I’m better at getting enough movement in than others. For the days I’m not moving the tracker comes in handy.

There is a weird satisfaction on feeling it buzz when I’ve hit my 10,000 steps for the day. And it can be annoying when it doesn’t hit those steps when I’ve been active during the day. Some days I will walk around the house to get those extra steps, other days I don’t.

Would I recommend the activity band? If you sit a lot during the day and this can help get you moving I say yes. If you like data and want to track your food, sleep and exercise then I say go for it.

Rather not wear a tracker? There are other ways to remind yourself to get up and move. A reminder in your phone or computer can help. Wearing a cheap pedometer can help you track your mileage. There are plenty of apps to help you get up and get moving, too.

Do you get enough movement in during the day? Need some help in getting track for a healthier lifestyle? Send me an email,, to set up a consultation.

Not So Challenging Fitness Challenge

cropped-running-with-dog1.jpgIt can be challenging during the holiday season to fit workouts in. There are a lot of fitness challenges out there right now to help motivate you. Run streaks, 21 day yoga, 21 day Fit and the Do Something Challenge. I happen to like the concept of the last one, even if I don’t love the exercises.

I’ve participated in an arm workout challenges, yoga challenges and a run streak. I loved my arms after the first challenge, ended up doing my own yoga practice (and that’s not a bad thing) and was close to hating running at the end of the run streak. (You can check out my blog on why I would never do another one). What I can say proudly is that for the last 15+ years I have exercised regularly.

I do some form of fitness at least 5 days a week, usually 6, whether or not I belong to a gym. So my challenge to you is to do some form of exercise for at least 15 minutes a day, every day through New Year’s Day. Yes, I want you to move on New Year’s Day – it will help the hangover.

There are no other rules. Activities could be walking, dance, yoga, Pilates, Cross Fit, running, strength training – or whatever else floats your boat. You can mix and match your activities. Do something gentle on days before or after a hard workout (if you choose to do one) to let your body recover. My goal is to get you to move during a time when you think you are too busy. Holiday shopping? Walk a few laps, take the stairs and park your car a bit further from the mall. There, you got your activity in.

Seriously, I don’t care what you do – just move. You can hashtag me on Facebook or Twitter with #notachallenge and let me know you got your fitness in. Add a picture if you like!

Why I Laughed at the Trainer’s Ideal Weight For Me

WeightLiftingYesterday I had my complimentary training session with a trainer at my gym. I wanted a few tips on form and ideas on what to incorporate as I strengthen my hips and glutes. He was cool and I liked the moves, almost all of which I already do. We talked about goals in the post session assessment. And, of course, this always includes weight loss.

I have started to lose the extra weight I’ve gained over the last year, I have more to go. Stress over my husband and training for a marathon had me eating more than I should. (The food might be healthy but there was too much. I’m sure there were instances my choices could have been better as well). The goal the computer picked for me had me cracking up though.

Um, no, I may look good at 142 but I feel like crap. I’m tired and my body aches at that weight. A few pounds more and I’m a happy camper. I also will not count calories, calories are not created equal. And counting calories tends to lead me to crazy town. I’d rather focus on hitting nutrients and getting in my 9 servings of veggies. (Yes, 9. A serving is a 1/2 cup of cooked vegetables. It’s not that hard).

You could tell the trainer thought I was a bit nuts. I did explain why I won’t count calories and he understood. We both understand that there are many healthy, nutrient dense foods and that’s what I need to focus on with my training.

My current weight isn’t unhealthy, it’s just too much for me. My ideal weight is also well within healthy norms, just not as low as charts say it could be. As long as your body is healthy and strong don’t get caught up in a specific number or size. I have a few people who are my height and weight and none of us wear the same size. I’m no longer stuck on it.

I can run 18 miles. lift weights, touch the floor with straight knees and carry my 30+ pound dog when she’s afraid to go up stairs. That all means more to me than if I can wear a size 6 or 8 jeans.

Do you struggle with weight and body image? I’ve been there and it sucks. Shoot me an email,, to discuss whether working with me is right for you. No blame, no shame – just getting healthy.

Fitness and Healthy Meals Can Be Done, Even With a Long Commute!

crockpotI usually avoid reading the opinion section of my local paper. The comments are usually pretty off the wall and tend to make me crazy. But every now and then I can’t help myself, like tonight. “No wonder why Staten Islanders are fat, they have long commutes. No one wants to cook or exercise after a 12 hour day. I suspect people are collapsing and ordering takeout.”

A four-hour commute is a pretty big exaggeration on the part of the writer. But even if it were true, there are ways to have decent meals and to get some fitness in. It takes some planning and some flexibility but it’s definitely doable. You don’t even have to get up at 4 a.m. to do it. (unless you want to and then I bow down to you).

I don’t love to get up super early but I can do a half an hour to workout. Not possible for you? How about 3 10 or 15 minute mini workouts? That gives you 30 – 45 minutes of exercise. Do you get a lunch break? How about squeezing in a quick sweat session or a brisk walk then? My gym offers 30 minute classes at lunch time, which is great if you get an hour for lunch. (I realize not everyone does).

No time to cook? Prep meals on the weekend so you have foods you can reheat. Stir fries can be made in minutes if food has been pre-chopped. (You can buy it that way, no one is judging). My other favorite tool is my crockpot. I can set it to 8 hours and it will turn off to keep warm when it’s done. Dinner is hot and waiting when you get home.

Another handy tool is the pressure cooker. They’ve come a long way and are much safer than older models. You can cook meals in minutes and you can cook a lot at one time. Leftovers are a blessing when time is tight.

What are your favorite tips for fitting in fitness?

What’s your quick and easy go to meal?

Need help with figuring out how to stay on track and eat healthy? Not sure where to begin? Email me,, and together we can come up with a plan that works for you. No diets, gimmicks or magic pills!



I’m Running DC with Nike Women!

we runI’m in DC and ready for my fifth half-marathon. I’m excited and I’m nervous, which is kind of funny since it’s not my first race. My friends tell me after their first races they all sleep well. I wish I could say the same.

I’ve trained steadily, I’m faster than I’ve been and I know what foods work best for my body. Still there are outside factors you can’t control and just have to roll with. I certainly did not expect to fall at the last race but I got up and finished – bloody knee and all.

I have a stomach bug that I’ve been fighting on and off the past few days. It’s never fun and I am a bit worried how I’ll feel tomorrow. I know to eat early and on the lighter side since I run best if I have some food in my system. I’m also hydrating with plenty of water and some coconut water for electrolyte replacement.

I am running with my teammates which is exciting. It’s great to have company for at least part of a run. I can’t wait to post pictures but, of course, I forgot the cable to sync my camera! I did pose in front of the We Run Sign when I picked up my bib and shirt. The shirt is a great berry color, which can only happen at a women’s race!

I will let you know how the race goes in next week’s blog. In the meantime I’m leaving you with a recipe that I use instead of Gatorade. I dislike both the taste of Gatorade and its ingredients. There are better choices like this one from David Jubb. I use an apple instead of a pear and sometimes throw a banana in as well.

Do you need help in reaching your fitness goals? Not sure where to start or what foods will work best for you and your needs? Email me,, for a laser focused complimentary 30 minute consultation. You will get at least one tip you can begin implementing right away.