#GORGOgirl: Tiffany Sylvester

We love featuring our everyday GORGOgirls that are inspiring us to crush life and a balanced approach to fitness.
Meet Tiffany Sylvester.

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TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF!

I am a 37 year old single mom raising four boys all by myself, whose ages range from 14-3. I was born in KY but raised in Maryland and currently reside in Annapolis, Md. I have always had a passion for making people look and feel their best. So 17 years ago I decided to become a hairstylist. For the past 8 years I have owned Frederick David Salon in Severna Park, MD with one of my best friends, Geri.

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TELL US ABOUT YOUR FITNESS LIFE!

I have definitely been a lover of fitness my whole life. I am a firm believer in the mind/body/spirit connection. Fitness for me is a big part of not only my physical health, but mental and emotional health, as well. It’s become a fantastic coping mechanism to healthfully handle all the stress in my life. As the saying goes, “strong body, strong mind.” Crossfit is my new love in life! Like, I love love it!!!

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DO YOU HAVE ANY SPECIFIC GOALS YOU’RE WORKING ON?

My goals are simple, to be the best mother, friend, and person I can be. To live a full life with a tremendous amount of peace and happiness. To wake up every morning and make the conscious decision to be better and do better than the day before. Never make the same mistake twice. Live authentically and transparently with everything I do. Finally, to honor myself and my journey. Sometimes I think it’s really easy to forget about the source that holds it all together—me. I am good to no one if I am not good to myself first and foremost.

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Any Struggles?

My struggles are having too high of expectations in others to be decent and respectful humans. It’s very hard for me to understand why people can’t act with integrity and character in all they do in life.

I love the quote: Don’t talk, act. Don’t say, show. Don’t promise, prove.

DO YOU HAVE ANY MESSAGE YOU FEEL CALLED TO SHARE ABOUT WHERE YOU ARE AT IN YOUR LIFE RIGHT NOW TO ENCOURAGE OTHER GORGO GIRLS?

My message goes along with another quote I love: She needed a hero, so that’s what she became.

It’s really hard being everything to everyone all the time. I wanted so desperately for the right people to step up and do what they were supposed to do. Or if I were really lucky Superman would come along to lift me up and take me anywhere—show me the love I desperately longed for—and save me before it was too late. But the reality is, no man, woman, or superhero will ever do that for me or any of us. It has been me all along that possesses everything I have always needed to be my own hero, I just couldn’t see it—or didn’t want to. But now I do and that is one of the most beautiful lessons I have learned in recent months.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT THE GORGO COMMUNITY?

What I love most about the GORGO community is how much love and acceptance the entire community emanates. Everyone wants to see everyone else persevere and achieve their hearts desires. In today’s world where most attempt to tear another down in order to lift themselves up, this community does just the opposite. They all attempt to lift one another up to the highest level. They share the belief that life becomes limitless when one becomes fearless. With women like this by my side, it is a lot easier to let go of the fear and limiting beliefs. For that, I am eternally grateful.

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CAMP GORGO: THOUGHTS ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE? FAV PART? WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO ATTEND?

*CAMP GORGO was one of the most phenomenal experiences I have been blessed to be a part of. I knew no one; however, didn’t feel as though I met a single stranger. Everyone was so warm, loving, and welcoming plus beautiful! My favorite part was getting to know all these beautiful and inspiring women that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to encounter in my day to day life—all in one place—sharing a common goal of betterment of ourselves and others. I wanted to attend because I have never done anything like it before and was excited to experience something new that was totally outside my comfort zone.

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Gym BFFs

by Katy L.

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When I was young, I played on lots of sports teams. I was surrounded by girls who loved to sweat, eat, and spend way too much time together, so it came as no surprise that I grew up and became a Phys Ed teacher, trainer, and yoga instructor. As I matured (somewhat) and began replacing sports with fitness, I had a harder time finding those like-minded girls who loved to sweat. Apparently, not everyone's idea of having a good time involves getting the shit kicked out of them. I was confused. Didn't everyone think squatting to failure was fun? Who doesn't love comparing sweat stains and smelling each other's armpits? Wasn't running past the point of nausea everyone's favourite pastime? 

It will come as no surprise that I don't have many gym friends. Some would argue I don't have many friends in general, but I digress. I remember how often I'd tell people that I wanted a workout buddy. I wanted someone to hang out with at the gym instead of the 20-year old receptionist at the front desk who felt obligated to laugh at my horrible jokes. The other personal trainers were crazy jacked and only talked about protein powder, and the other yogis would just laugh at (not with) me when I tried to speak vegan. Really, I'd tell anyone in hopes that someone would take me up on it. The guy on the subway, a server, my taxi driver, my mom...

I got lucky when I finally met my gym BFF at age 30. Number one, she didn't run in the other direction when I called her my gym BFF after knowing her for one day. We started out as running buddies, and after only a few runs in, I discovered I was pregnant. I was terrified of losing my only gym friend, but didn't want to tell anybody I was expecting just yet. Our next run together, I swear I nearly died. I was beet red, drenched with sweat and panting while trying to keep up to our regular pace. My gym BFF was supportive and caring about my disgusting exterior and inability to run more than 100 meters. While on a walk break, she confided in me that she was pregnant! I jumped for joy (and believe I wet myself) and exclaimed that I was, too! We were at the exact same point in our lives, and both enjoyed active pregnancies by continuing to run, strength train (she would come to my fitness classes... Unforced!) and by taking prenatal yoga.

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I won't lie, having a workout BFF made me up my game. I'm competitive in nature, so it helped having someone push me harder than I would push myself. She wanted me to do three sets of stairs, I'd do five, then pretend to take a drink while gasping for air. We liked coming up with new workouts for each other, whether we were tandem on the treadmill or supersetting. I'd try to impress her by sprinting a little faster or lifting a little heavier, all while trying to keep my sweat to a glow and not let out a fart.

My workout partner kept me accountable. Knowing she was going to be meeting me at the gym or on the trail forced me to keep driving even when my senses smelled McDonald's fries, and helped me get my ass off the couch even if the Bachelor was on. My workouts became so much more enjoyable!  I had a partner in crime to carry out some of my favorite hobbies: bitch about people, rate the guys at the gym, and people watch.

I don't know about you, but I'd think about my workout BFF when I picked my gym outfit. "Awe, man- Emily is soooo going to notice how small my gunt looks in these compression tights!" "Haha, Emily doesn't need an XS sports bra to hold up her non-existent boobs!" "I wonder what Emily will think of my lashes in this waterproof mascara?" "I'll just use a little bronzer to make it look like I woke up like this."

Emily has since moved away (reading this, it makes perfect sense) and I am left without a gym BFF. We talk a ton, still share workouts and have signed up for a half marathon together. I'm not sure she is replaceable, but I have hopes that I can find another gym BFF.

It just may take me another 30 years.

#GORGOgirl: Teri Richardson

We love featuring our everyday GORGOgirls that are inspiring us to crush life and a balanced approach to fitness.
Meet Teri Richardson.

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Tell us about yourself!

I own and operate a Garbage disposal business in Texas with my husband of 16 years, Jack. Due to endometriosis I am unable to have children. However, I am a mom to several furr babies!

Tell us about your fitness life.

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The majority of my fitness comes from my job which is hard manual labor almost 16 hours a day, 6 days a week.

Do you have any specific goals you’re working on?

My personal goals are to make more time for myself and those I love. My professional goals are to continue building a strong, trustworthy business. A business to be proud of and that allows us to continue to give back to the communities in which we provide service.

Any Struggles?

My largest personal struggle is that I need to learn to stop buying people's love and friendship. My largest business struggle would be to learn to accept the fact that I can not please everyone and not everyone is worthy of my time and effort.

Fav Quote that inspires you right now in your life?

"Let them sleep while you grind. Let them party while you work. The difference will show."

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Do you have any message you feel called to share about where you are at in your life right now to encourage other GORGO GIRLS?

In the past I battled some depression. I felt I wasn't good enough. I let toxic people and their opinions of me dictate the way I felt about myself. I am very grateful for God and my husband and the unconditional love they have shown me. No matter the situation or the stress you're under, don't ever let temporary feelings lead you to making a permanent decision. Reach out. If you're someone who doesn't struggle with or understand depression, be a friend and really listen to those who may be reaching out. Today, I find myself stronger and more motivated than ever. I work hard doing a job that most people aren't capable of doing and that is considered the 5th most dangerous job in the United States. Being a garbage collector is an underestimated, under-appreciated, thankless job - and a deadly one. In 2017 there were 132 recorded fatalities. It is a labor intensive, nasty and disease-ridden job but is an absolute necessity for our communities and environment. Women only make up 1% of the workers in this industry. Being such an asset to what is considered a man's industry is very empowering. You can do anything you set your mind to. Believe in yourself. Dig deep. Take control of your power. Dust off your crown and make things happen.

What do you love most about the GORGO community?

I love the FACT that you become part of a tribe. You meet and bond with women from all different walks of life, all religious beliefs and different political beliefs. This is a loving group of non-judgmental strong beautiful women.

CAMP GORGO: Thoughts about your experience? Fav part? What made you want to attend?

I originally started following Christie Nix and her journey which led me to following Gorgo. Every year I've always watched the camp come and go with hopes to one day attend. After the 2019 New Year I jumped in on the early bird registration. I knew if I went ahead and paid for it, I would have to do it. I met some absolutely amazing women who brought me out of the shell that I had buried myself in and because of them I sang again for the first time in years. I look forward to a lifelong friendship with these amazing women. The Gorgo workshops were not only informative but motivational. I was pushed but not to the point of feeling defeated. In the last 3 years, I have maybe had 3 weekends off. I'm so happy Camp Gorgo was one of those!

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#GORGOgirl: Jennifer Hawley

 We love featuring our everyday GORGOgirls that are inspiring us to crush life and a balanced approach to fitness.
Meet Jennifer Hawley.

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Tell us about yourself!

I’ve been an Ultrasound Technologist for 20 years. My husband Scott and I have been married for 23 years and have 2 boys: Nathan (age 17) and Zach (age 14).

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Tell us about your fitness life.

I’m at the gym by 5 am to either teach a group training class or participate in one, everyday.  My favorite style of training includes group training, lifting heavy things, and metabolic conditioning.

What are your goals?

My goal is to inspire other women to have positive body image, be active and strong.

Do you have any struggles?

I struggle with hypothyroidism and premature menopause, resulting in major hormonal imbalances.  Managing stress and fatigue, body image. I work hard to manage stress by continuing a fitness schedule, making sure to get enough seep and proper nutrition. Body image is a bit rougher, but focusing on the things I am great at and the strength and power I have helps.

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Fav Quote that inspires you right now in your life?

“When it feels scary to jump, that is exactly when you jump, otherwise you end up staying in the same place your whole life.”   Why? So many good things can happen when you trust in yourself and go after your dreams.

Do you have any message you feel called to share about where you are at in your life right now to encourage other GORGO GIRLS? 

Keep moving forward no matter how small the steps or how many obstacles you face.  

What do you love most about the GORGO community?

I love to see that it is possible for women to support women.

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CAMP GORGO: Thoughts about your experience? What made you want to attend?  

I’ve always loved the pictures of Camp Gorgo posted by friends who attend each year. The women looked like they were having so much fun. 2019 was my first year and I had a fantastic time connecting with so many women and learning so much from them. It was a weekend of learning, growing and fun.

Any Advice for someone interested in attending but unsure if it’s for them?

I would tell anyone who is contemplating it to just go. The love on acceptance you feel there is greater than your fear.

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Chapin Schnick: Honoring Your Body Through Life's Ebb and Flow

By Jill Farr

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To say that Chapin Schnick was “active” growing up is an understatement.

“In high school, I played volleyball, soccer, basketball, and softball, and I swam,” Chapin says. “And then I played college softball.”

For many people who are athletes in high school and college, finding the time and energy to be the level of active they were in their youth is difficult; the pressure of getting a job and maintaining an adult life takes a big chunk out of the time formerly devoted to sports. But Chapin stayed athletic.

“I dabbled in things after college, CrossFit, running.” Chapin says. “I stayed active. Even during a time when I was overweight, I was still running marathons.”

Some big events altered that trajectory, however.

“After two consecutive miscarriages and a debilitating wreck,” Chapin says, “I took an extended break from the gym and enjoyed a few years where I just focused on being a rainbow-wearing, donut-eating art teacher my students loved.” 

“In a sense, this was excellent, because it helped my career. I came out of it with a few important grants, including the inaugural InstaGrant from the Indiana Arts Commission, I presented at national conferences, and was named the 2018 Indiana Art Educator of the Year.  My mental and physical health suffered, though.”

This time, Chapin took a different route back to fitness. 

“In the spring of 2018, I began taking weekly hot yoga classes and going on backpacking trips with DNK Presents, a women-owned adventure company, which led into a summer of camping road trips. Coupled with a focus on intermittent fasting, I finally felt like me again. In addition to now working for the Indiana Arts Commission (IAC), I’m training to be a guide with DNK Presents.”

Instead of an intense, regimented workout schedule, Chapin’s fitness life is more organic.

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“I focus on yoga and hiking, and natural movement in general,” Chapin relates. “Along with metabolic conditioning. If I have an upcoming hike, I’m preparing for it. I’m usually just focused on trying to get 30 minutes of activity, whether it’s weights, kettlebell exercises, or whatever. Today I did double unders..it varies.”

Another shot in the arm for Chapin’s fitness life has been Camp GORGO.

“I had been following Val Solomon on social media, along with Christie NIx, about six years ago, when it came up on FB that they were going to do a lifting workshop, and it was at my parents' gym. I was so excited to see it happening, and then after that they announced that Camp GORGO was happening in the same area. I’ve gone to every single camp since.”

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“It’s not even so much the workout experience for me, anymore...I came out of the first camp with friendships and more of a holistic view of fitness. Every summer since has been about catching up with these women, setting new goals...I literally can’t imagine my year without a Camp GORGO in it.”

Chapin gives yoga a lot of credit for bringing her back into the fitness fold. 

“For about six months,” Chapin explains, “After the accident, I did nothing aside from the occasional walk. Yoga was what brought me back to the point of being able to get active again.”

Yoga is deceptively simple, and good exercise for someone who needs a gentle fitness beginning...but it’s also a very intense workout that can level up as your strength and ability increases. Studies have shown that there are several reasons why it has such a positive impact on the people who practice it, but Chapin has her own opinion.

“The reason I think it appealed to me so much--after having basically destroyed my shoulder in this car accident--was the notion that it’s infinitely accessible. People following the same flow can have very different abilities. I may not be able to do this intense version someone else is, but I can do it where I am, and get benefit.”

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In addition to its gentle on ramp for beginners, yoga has the potential to build incredible strength, and Chapin has seen that, too.

“For the last two summers of Camp GORGO,” she says, “I’d only done yoga and hiking, going in, but was keeping up with everyone. I hadn’t picked up a weight for two years. It blew my mind.”

The mind/body connection can be experienced with any activity, but yoga’s origins give it a leg up, since it was designed with that symbiosis in mind.

“I always come out feeling relaxed,” Chapin says. “I prefer hot yoga and one of the reasons is that I just feel cleansed. It’s about more than the activity. Being into yoga for the last couple of years has gotten me into understanding chakras and things like Reiki. I always thought Reiki was crazy stuff, and now I participate in Reiki massage. It’s opened my eyes to more.”

Chapin’s love for hiking developed out of necessity, and is fed by the meditative quality of having the great outdoors as your gym.

“The hiking focus came about when I was prepping for some camping trips,” Chapin shares. 

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“I knew we were going to be carrying 60lb backpacks, so I got into it. I’d avoided the outdoors for a while, but this got me back outside. As with yoga, I feel renewed afterwards. Now I’m an assistant backpacking guide for a women’s outdoors company. In October we’re going to Tennessee, we’ll have a bunch of beginner backpackers --women--and we’ll teach them about no trace ethics, safety, and how to poop in the woods!”

“I had always felt like, coming out of being a competitive athlete, that I need to keep up with running, I need to keep up with lifting, but I don’t feel the stress of needing to have a certain type of movement any more. I’m trying to honor my body, and if I feel like moving my body a certain way, I do. I don’t feel the need to have a certain structure with having to have four lifting workouts that last a minimum of an hour...my only focus is four days with 30 minutes of activity.”

When you look at the pattern of Chapin’s activity, going from the highly competitive mindset of organized sports, to the Zen end of the spectrum, with hiking and yoga, you might wonder if a part of her misses the competition. She wondered about that, herself, and the answer might not be what you’d expect.

“I thought I would feel lost, not having competitions coming up. When I had the wreck, I was training for a powerlifting competition. That hasn’t interested me since. And it’s freeing in a way. I spent probably 25 ish years always trying to focus on being the best at some pursuit, or supporting other team members, and now I just feel like...I’m just trying to be good to my body.”

And as far as the team aspect of sports being gone, Chapin says that she’s found the fix for that in Camp GORGO, with even more of the support, and none of the competition.

“I feel like a lot of folks coming to Camp Gorgo believe it’s going to be the opposite of what it is. They think, “Oh, it’s a fitness camp with all of these influencer types...everyone’s going to be catty...it’s going to be competitive, focused on looks...it’s the opposite. I actually feel so relaxed at Camp GORGO. We’re all trying to be the healthiest versions of ourselves. It’s freeing to be around women who have similar goals.”

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The ability to listen to what your body needs and honor it as life changes those needs is the big message that Chapin believes her story holds. And that adaptability has served her well in finding happiness and contentment with the changes she’s had to navigate.

“I spent more than 25 years thinking being a mother was the one thing I was certain I was meant to be,” Chapin says.

“But as I close in on 34, I am happily content with my handsome hubby and our three furry boys, my goal of 30-min. of movement most days of the week, and supporting fellow artists and arts organizations in Indiana through my position at the IAC.”

Dig, and Push Through: Joyce Harrison

By Jill Farr

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Joyce Harrison wasn’t athletic growing up, and carried some extra weight as a result, not unlike many kids who aren’t particularly active.

However, not many people have a clear idea about the “why” behind childhood habits...and Joyce does.

“I survived being raped and molested as a child,” Joyce explains. “So, from a young age, I already felt unworthy, broken and dirty. Looking back I think I kept my body hidden under layers of fat, ate my feelings, then hated myself even more in that vicious cycle.” 

“As an adult I worked through those feelings, or so I thought, and went on about my life and got married to an amazing man and started a family.”

While the trauma of her early years had posed a significant challenge, Joyce had no idea that an even greater one lay ahead.

“When our second child Olivia was 11 months old,” Joyce says, “She died of a very rare condition. We were devastated.”

The loss of a child is one of the most horrible things most parents can imagine, and Joyce and her husband Terrance faced it, and carried on.

But the heartbreak wasn’t over.

“Three years and three days later,” Joyce explains, “Our third child, 18 month old Samuel died of the very same rare condition.”

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“I fell into a pit of grief so deep and dark and terrifying. Losing one child is tragic, but losing two? I begged God to help me understand. I was in a constant state of fear that something else bad would happen. The toll that grief and stress takes on the body, mind and soul is immeasurable.”

Joyce kept going forward, doing the things that needed to be done, and living, but finally the pressure of continually managing such a deep, underlying depression finally became unbearable.

“When my youngest son, Max was 6 months old,” Joyce shares, “My husband deployed for a year to Iraq. Within a month, I hit rock bottom. I felt isolated and alone. I didn’t want to die, but I didn’t want to live either.”

Friends and family stepped in, helping Joyce to take some initial steps.

“My mom took me to weight watchers and a friend took me to a spin class--my first ever.”

“Within a few weeks of lining up some nutrition and exercise, I saw some results,” Joyce says. 

“I also sought treatment for my depression and PTSD and started to feel like I was worth it. I felt like I was climbing out of the rubble and looking around at my life--in fact, the previous almost 10 years were a blur, I didn’t even remember how I got to that point exactly.”

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Joyce decided that living her best life and being the best mom possible to her living children Gracie (now 18) and Max (now 9) would be a way of honoring Olivia and Samuel...not forgetting them.

The impact of exercise on a variety of types of depression is well studied and documented, and while those suffering should always consult a health professional for diagnosis and treatment, engaging in exercise is a meaningful way of helping your brain and body cope with trauma. Research has also indicated that the relief from depression that exercise can provide is long lasting, and Joyce is a believer. Once on the road of recovery, she made the decision to amp up her activity level.

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“My primary fitness goal is to be healthy and strong,” Joyce shares. “Although losing weight seems to be all I can think about. The scale and clothing size has ruled me for as long as I can remember, but I’m trying to change that mindset and not focus on the numbers. One day I would love to walk across the stage in a fitness competition just to wear the sparkly bikini, but right now I’m still trying to learn my body and how to get it in the shape I want. Until then I will love it and honor it for giving me 4 amazing babies.”

“After I got started, I followed (stalked) some people on Facebook. People like Busy Mom Gets Fit, Sisters in Shape, Dani Get UR Guns, FitNix and my coach, Natalie, and then I read about this thing called Camp GORGO!”

Joyce’s initial excitement was temporarily derailed by old, negative thought patterns, though. 

“It was so close to my home! But I kept thinking things like, ‘Oh, but I couldn’t, I’m not fit, I’m not strong, I’m too fat. So I just sat and watched for two years as this amazing event was happening.”

But that didn’t last, and eventually Joyce’s desire to be a part of this event overcame her self-doubts...and the results were worth it.

“Camp Gorgo literally changed my life,” Joyce says. “Obviously from meeting these amazing women that I totally fangirl over in person, but also from them being transparent, open and vulnerable.”

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“I connected with a tribe of women that are strong, fearless, full of grace and grit. I communicate regularly with my Camp GORGO roommates and even though it’s through text or Facebook, the strength, encouragement, and empowerment is palpable.”

In sharp contrast to the years of darkness and depression, Joyce now has joy in abundance.

“Sometimes I feel guilty for being so happy and sparkly,” Joyce says, “But God has restored my joy and I can find it anywhere! I have been an RN for about 20 years and I have just graduated from the University of Cincinnati with my BSN. I am very fortunate to have the support of a great husband and family.”

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When asked what advice she would give other women, who are struggling with feelings of unworthiness, or crippling depression that feels as if it’s all-consuming, Joyce admits that it’s hard to share, but wants other women to know that they can take the reins of their mental and physical health.

“I struggle telling my story sometimes,” Joyce says, “Because I am not where I want to be; it’s messy and imperfect. But I have learned to take responsibility for my mental and physical health, become proactive and less reactive.”

“Have an honest discussion with yourself, ask yourself, what is the life you want to live, what does it look like and how would it make you feel? It is so liberating to discover your authentic self. Do one thing everyday that will get you to your goals. Change your inner dialogue, tell yourself how awesome you are and what a great butt you have! I was told that whatever you are going through, God has already put in you what you need to make it through, So dig and push through! It’s painful and it reveals parts of me I don’t like- but then I imagine the life I want to live to honor my children and it’s so worth it!”

How to Enjoy Your (Less) Healthy Vacation

By Erica Willick, Sisinshape.com @sisinshape

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Summertime is in full swing and that means for many of you, vacations are part of your plans this month. If you have a vacation on the horizon, here’s a question to consider: How healthy do you plan to be on your vacation? This isn’t a trick question!

It may surprise you to find out that as a nutrition & fitness coach I don’t necessarily recommend you stick 100% to your healthiest plan on vacation. As you know, we believe in moderation and that also includes moderation on how strict you are with yourself. Unless you have a very special event that requires a top physique (you wedding day, competition etc.) coming up in a month to 6 weeks from your vacation, you don’t need to stick to your “plan” in order to still stay healthy.  I actually encourage my clients to be a bit (less) healthy on vacation!

When you go on vacation, one of the main benefits is rest, relaxation, and a time to get away for a while. Even with the best of intentions, if you decide to stick to your healthy plan in a regimented way, that won’t leave you as much time for spontaneous fun or the downtime that vacation is great for. Read on for my key tips on how to have a (less) healthy vacation this summer.

Should You Work Out?

The first question to ask yourself when trying to decide how healthy you need to be on vacation is often if you need to “workout”. While there’s no need to put pressure on yourself to follow your specific plan each and every day, getting movement and staying active is key to avoiding the ick factor that comes with being sedentary for a week. There’s no need to hit up the gym every day, instead think of doing active things like jogging along the beach, hiking, or swimming to keep your activity level up without throwing you off completely. As fit women, our lifestyle includes working out and eating healthy. If you completely throw that out the window during vacation you won’t feel good and it’s that the key to this whole lifestyle? But, if you don’t allow yourself to enjoy your vacation with less rules, you won’t experience the benefit of the vacation either. Plan to workout when you can, but don’t make any commitments to being in the gym every day if that won’t allow you to enjoy your time with friends and family.  

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What To Eat

When it comes to eating on vacation there are two extremes to avoid. First of all, throwing all caution (and health) to the wind and indulging all-day-every-day is not going to be good for your health or wellbeing. When was the last time you over-indulged and felt great the next day? It just compounds if it’s a weeklong binge.  That doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in some things that you love though! In fact, we would recommend that you do splurge a little because it is a vacation after all! Here are a few thoughts on when to splurge and when to keep to your healthy routine.

Should you drink alcohol?

If you’re someone who enjoys an adult beverage here and there, your vacation is the perfect time to do so! There’s no reason why you can’t have a beer or glass of wine if you enjoy it, and it helps you relax. Of course, binge drinking for an entire night won’t help you feel good either. The key is to do an indulgence in moderation, so that you will feel good not only the day you’re partaking, but the next day as well (because who has a great day after a night of binge drinking?)

Determine your indulgences ahead of time

What is it that you just love? Is it ice cream? If so, plan to have it once or twice on your vacation. Do you crave a hamburger and fries? Make that part of your vacation plans. By setting your indulgences up in advance it will help you to say yes to healthier choices throughout the rest of the vacation. There’s no reason to deprive yourself of all the fun treats your family is enjoying throughout the vacation, but if you plan ahead, you won’t completely derail your progress either.

Have a kitchen available if possible

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One of the greatest ways to set yourself up for success when on vacation (especially if you have little ones) is to have a kitchen available. This allows you to create healthy meals and have some of your staples available at all times, but doesn’t mean you can’t go out and enjoy a meal on the town when you feel like it. By having some staples like fresh fruits and veggies, and the ability to cook healthy meals, you won’t have as many situations where you need to indulge in less than healthy food when you may not even want to.

Breakfast can be your staple healthy meal

If you keep breakfast as your healthiest meal of the day, you will find that it sets a good for the rest of the day. Bring things like almonds, fruit, shakes and other items that are part of your healthy at-home routine to maintain some balance. Breakfast is a great choice for this healthy meal because it will set your day up to be a healthy one, instead of weighing you down with a lot of unhealthy carbs or sugars first thing in the morning.

Remember, a healthy breakfast includes: protein, carbs, healthy fats and fiber!

Have a “Recovery” Week Plan

When you get back from vacation it’s often a good idea to avoid indulgence completely for a week and get back to your “normal.” This can include having a cleanse day, avoiding all treats and alcohol, and getting back to your regular workout routine. By being a little strict with yourself the week you return from vacation you will be able to easily get back on track and back to your healthiest self.

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What do you think? Will you have a (less) healthy vacation this summer and see it as all part of your amazing healthy life?

Joann Rivas: Finding Herself Through Many Facets of Fitness

By Jill Farr

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For many women, the realization that fitness matters comes to them for the first time after they’ve experienced pregnancy and childbirth. Joann Rivas was one of those.

After her son was born in March 2012, Joann knew that her personal level of health was in question due to the weight gain she’d experienced during her pregnancy, but it wasn’t until she saw a family photo taken at an amusement park that she made the decision to make a change.

“I thought, ‘This is not me’”, Joann says. “This is not who I am.”

The journey to get back—or uncover—her true self ultimately led her to strength training with weights and competing in a figure competition, but that path was prepared with another pursuit; yoga.

“I started eating clean and making some weight loss goals in 2012,” Joann says. “After seeing some increased fitness and weight loss, I had a setback over the holidays, but made a New Year’s Resolution in January 2013 to get back in gear. A few months later, I began practicing yoga daily. I also began to incorporate a more plant-based diet into my life.”

Although you don’t hear “yoga” and “plant based” mentioned very often in the weight lifting world, Joann believes that both had a powerful impact on her fitness beginning.

“I definitely think it had an effect on my core,” Joann says. “After about two months of doing that and researching, I felt I was ready to start lifting weights.”

The flexibility that yoga practice brings is a positive, balancing force to weight lifting, Joann believes, and she points those who are curious to the Internet for inspiration.

“Instagram is great for yoga,” Joann says. “The monthly challenges you can find are great—some of my favorites are @beachyogagirl, @kinoyoga and @laurasykora—and you can get in contact with others easily.”

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While yoga helped to create a foundation for her fitness, Joann credits weight lifting with the final result.

“The weight melted off,” Joann says. “When I started in May I weighed 150, and by July I had lost 20 pounds and was 10 pounds lighter than my pre-baby weight.”

Joann began charting her progress and sharing her research on a blog, (jox0fit.blogspot.com) and on Instagram (@jox0_fit). Her social media sites also became a way to chronicle her progress towards another goal she had set; competing in a figure competition.

“I did my first competition last year,” Joann says, “And I plan on competing again in February.”

While not for everyone, Joann says that the experience was an encouragement, and she thinks it can have specific benefits for those who are curious…and careful.

“I like the stage, I like the process,” Joann says. “I’d like to get in the habit of doing it once a year or so; I feel like it gives me an accountability, a reason to focus.”

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For those who want to try it out, Joann cautions against getting too caught up in the competition itself, and extols the benefits of good coaching.

“I did have a coach for my first competition,” Joann says. “The first few weeks, I thought I could do it on my own, but there’s a lot of fine tuning beyond the basics. Find someone you trust, someone who either sees eye to eye with you on your goals, or respects them. If you want to do it naturally, if you want to not eat a lot of meat or use artificial means, find someone who will work with you, not against you.”

“You might get short term results if you neglect healthy choices for the sake of competition, but it’s not worth your overall health.”

When she’s not preparing for a competition, Joann still follows a predictable fitness schedule.

“I usually train two days, take a rest day, train two days, then take the weekend off to be with my son,” Joann says.

While that time to just relax and enjoy being a mom is important, Joann says that the workout time is just as crucial.

“It definitely helps my inner peace,” she says. “Taking that hour after he’s in bed or before he’s awake is beneficial. I’ve seen the benefits of it. As a mom, taking care of yourself benefits everyone in the long run.”

Joann also knows that the average woman will experience setbacks, and wants to be a realistic example of someone who takes life’s curveballs and still keeps going, and making choices that lead to good results.

“Take it one day at a time,” Joann says. “Don’t overthink the process. Fit it to your life. As long as you’re moving forward and doing the next thing right, you’re doing good.”

Top 3 #thatsogorgo Game of Thrones Finale Moments

By Erica Willick

The final episode of Game of Thrones aired this week.  As a GoT fan and a Gorgo girl, a few particular moments in the epic finale resonated with our inner queens.

While the unravelling of the badass mother of dragons Warrior Queen Daenerys could be seen as a let down to us Gorgo Girls, we know that everyone chooses her own path.  All the handsome heroes and wise friends in the world cannot choose our path for us.

The path Daenerys chose was definitely not gorgo-esque.  Empowerment is never about making the choice for someone else – no matter how ‘right’ and ‘good’ we view our perspective.

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If not the Warrior Queen, then what were the top #thatsogorgo GoT finale moments?

#3 Queen of the North, Sansa Stark

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We met Sansa Start as a girl who dreamed of being a princess and royalty.  Naïve, shallow, and a ‘helpless little bird’. Sansa believed that her betrothal to a prince was the fulfillment of her fairytale dreams.

Life delivered hard lessons.  Sansa’s betrothed prince was a sadist, and ‘rescue’ by men ended in manipulation and abuse.

Yet Sansa chose not to stay a victim in this story – her story – and became the Queen that liberated her people.  Not a Queen through marriage to a King but crowned in her own right, risen from the darkness and owning that darkness as forever part of her strength.

Sansa sitting on the throne in her final scene, a deep, powerful, wise and just woman.  A True Queen. #thatsogorgo

#2 Bran the Broken’s View of Failure

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Before being banished to the Wall for life, Jon Snow says goodbye to his family.  Jon kneels before his brother Bran, the newly crowned King of Westeros.

Jon apologizes “Your Grace.  I’m sorry I wasn’t there when you needed me.”  Jon is referring to his failure to make it to Bran during the Night King’s attack on the living in the Winterfell godswood.

Bran, the wise all-knowing-being replies, “You were exactly where you were supposed to be.”

Knowing that our failures, especially the big ones, were exactly where we were supposed to be in those moments.  #thatsogorgo

#1 Arya Chooses to Be Who She Really Is

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In the very first episode of Season 1, Bran a young boy and Arya’s younger brother, practices shooting arrows at a bullseye on a barrel (and misses repeatedly).  Bran is encouraged by the crowd of men watching to try again and given tips to improve. Meanwhile, Arya is stuck inside doing needlepoint with the other ‘young ladies’.

Arya hears the activity outside the window and sneaks out of her assigned activity.  As Bran misses another shot, Arya hits the bullseye over her brother’s shoulder.

Everyone watching laughs at the ‘cute’ scene of a sister showing up a little brother in a ‘male skill’.

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And so begins the eight seasons long journey of Arya’s fight to be who she really is, and not accept to be what others want her to be, or think she ought to be.

It was far from an easy road – but in the closing scene, Arya chooses to sail West of Westeros because of the adventure it holds for her.

The peace, happiness, and freedom on Arya’s face as she pursues her truth. #thatsogorgo





Running Coach Heather Albright and the Power of Pushing Yourself

By Jill Farr

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Sisters in Shape online trainer Heather Albright has a wealth of knowledge to offer as a trainer; nutrition guidance, strength training help...but her speciality, both personally and as a fitness coach, is running.

“I’m more of a running coach,” Heather explains. “And I personally do about one marathon a year and some shorter things in between.”

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Many people love running, both for its entry level ease and because all you need are shoes and space. While many teach themselves the basics, or just start running and never look back, Heather advises that there is a point where specific coaching about your running is valuable.

“I think the toughest part for people is getting over the initial hump with running,” Heather says. While she loves her chosen pursuit, she agrees that it gets a bad rap from those who aren’t immersed in it already.

“Running just kind of sucks for a while,” Heather admits. “It’s not fun when you’re starting out. But once you get to where you can easily run three miles on your own, then you can start looking at, ‘Okay, I want to get faster. I want to add miles.’ That’s when it’s sometimes helpful to get a coach. And a plan. I can evaluate how things are going, help you build in cross training so that you don’t get injured.”

That last part--injury prevention--is another facet of running’s killer reputation. It’s true that there are a host of ways you can hurt yourself, but there are also some basic precepts that can prevent the most common injuries.

“The biggest challenge for runners is getting injured,” Heather says. “You have to pay attention to the little injuries so that they don’t become big deals. You also have to do all the things--the stretching, foam rolling, recovery, sleep...all those things that balance you out as an athlete. Not many people understand that or have been taught that.”

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Anyone who has taken up running as a pursuit has probably encountered some joking about it, or heard lines like “I don’t run unless someone’s chasing me,” or, “You know we don’t HAVE to do that, right?”

Running’s perceived (and actual) difficulty may draw a certain personality type, Heather admits, but she also believes it’s a natural desire for humans to move...and sometimes move fast.

“I was just at a women’s running retreat and that came up. Why do we do this? A lot of us are competitive; we want to show the world our times, but that’s not the only reason for it. Most of it goes back to...we were never designed to be sedentary. Running was one of the original ways we moved.”

That primal drive may fuel the famous “Runner’s High” that gets so much press, and Heather acknowledges that both the exhilaration it brings and the intensity that running requires are key aspects of why she loves it.

“There is something just so incredibly freeing about it. It depends on the day, sure; some days my legs are heavy and it sucks. But when you’re flying and you feel like you’re walking on air...that’s the best. We’re just chasing feeling good.”

The fortitude required is also a positive, and Heather alludes to running’s unparalleled potential for cultivating tenacity.

“I believe you develop a mental toughness when you run. A lot of people in this day and age just don’t have that. I asked on a Facebook post recently…”When is the last time you really pushed yourself?””

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“My last track workout, it wasn’t great, I didn’t get my fourth tempo mile, but I pushed myself. It’s money in the bank. Not enough people go there. They don't push themselves. I do think runners push like few other people do.”

Coaching is a passion for Heather, but her first love was running, and it’s a love she still holds.

“Running has been such a source of confidence for me. I got into it as a way to lose weight, but I hit that first goal by actually doing a 5k, so I got hooked on the race thing early on. Then the times got shorter and the distances got longer. I’ve surprised myself by getting out there and doing better than I thought I could. That has bled over into other areas of my life, like training women.”

Lessons from Heather:

Change the narrative.

“I like to ask people...what story are you telling yourself about yourself? What are your limiting beliefs? I asked someone the other day, “What’s your biggest struggle?” and she said “Getting to the gym.” I knew her schedule, that she didn’t go to work until around 10 a.m., so I asked when she was going. She said, ‘After work’, and I responded, “Why don’t you go in the morning, before work?” Her answer: “I’m not a morning person.” She’s telling herself that she isn’t a morning gym person. But it’s pretty easy, once you identify that, to tell yourself a different story. Start saying, “I am a morning gym person.” Say it for as long as you need until it’s true. We all like to say, “I’m not a runner”, but unless you have serious challenges, your body is able to do it. Just ask yourself which limiting beliefs you’re telling yourself, and change them.”

Ease in.

“I like run/walk methods; Couch to 5k, etc. Start there. When you get to where you can easily run 3 miles, think about a running coach. If you come to me before that, I would just have you do something similar to that. It’s solid. That’s what I started with. It’s a smart way to build up.”

Don’t ignore recovery and form.

“Recovery is tough because no one wants to take the time off--but recovery has to happen. You have to take care of your body. That’s why there are so many injured runners. Not listening to warning signs, not strengthening, foam rolling, and recovering are not great. Understanding common injuries is important, too, so that you can recognize them.”

“If your form isn’t great, it heightens injury risk. Strength training is important, too.”

You can connect with Heather Albright at @halbrightfit




#GORGOgirl: Katharine Millar

We love featuring our everyday GORGOgirls that are inspiring us to crush life and a balanced approach to fitness.
Meet Katharine Millar.

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Tell us about your fitness life.

I am at the toughest part of my fitness journey again...GETTING STARTED!  After being in the best shape I have ever been in, I had my 4th and final child a year and a half ago.  I am starting over in terms of needing to lose weight, workout, eat better, and fitting in “me” time, etc.  It’s so hard to put yourself ahead of your children and family life. I love weights, group HIIT classes, and just about every sport out there. The nice thing this time around is that I know I can do it because I already have. I’ll get there eventually so I don’t stress about it or get down on myself at all. I just keep putting one foot in front of the other, and focus on making small changes knowing each one counts!

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Tell us about your non-fitness life.

I am a wife and mama to 3 active boys (10, 8, 6) and a sweet baby girl (1 1/2).  I own and operate with my husband a successful moving company that my father in law started 50 years ago this year.  

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What do you love about GORGO?

I love everything about GORGO and what it represents for so many different women.  Most of all, I love that I can be myself! I can be surrounded by women and never feel judged.  I am there to inspire and be inspired. Every year, I experience something different which leaves me feeling so incredibly empowered & motivated.

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Any fun facts?

I love to travel! Cruising especially, and mainly because the food is fantastic and I love to eat.  I started taking piano lessons this year in a simple attempt to get back at doing something for me.

Anything else you want to say?

I want to tell all those struggling women out there who think they’re the only ones who find it difficult to make time for themselves or aren’t able to get or stay motivated to keep going.  Don’t give up, you’ll get there, you just have to keep trying!!! Even those that appear to have it all together, or have the body that you one day hope to have, experience their own struggles as well. We all have days, weeks, or months that we can’t seem to get our sh#%* together.  Everyone has to work hard for what they want whether you’re just starting out or been at it for years! Don’t give up on yourself... you’re worth it!

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Anything about camp GORGO you'd like to mention? What made you want to attend this year, why do you look forward to it? Favorite part? Etc....

I look forward to it every year and it’s something in my life that is just for me.  Camp GORGO is a weekend of empowerment, a weekend to make new friends and connect with old ones.  It is a weekend to really fuel, inspire, and motivate one another. Everyone that attends contributes in some way even, if they don’t realize it. We are a family of like-minded women and I am so blessed to have found this tribe :)

Food Myth Busters: Debunking the Top 5 Food Fake Outs

By Shannon Liard

Not all nutrition advice is created equally. In fact, some of the nutrition advice that litters Internet searches, magazine pages, and social media posts is just that – created. Not scientifically founded, not medically based, just… created. More often than not some self-proclaimed expert crafted up some dietary tactic that worked some time for someone and slapped a sensationalistic headline on it and we’ve got the next trending dietary approach. Maybe it was pulled out of thin air, maybe it was nutrition advice someone gave us; maybe it is the truth, and maybe it is an untruth. When it comes down to the nitty gritty, it is regular exercise, consistently sleeping enough, and a balanced diet that are the three keys unlocking even the most far off health and fitness goals. Yet, still there are myths and misinformation in abundance when it comes to nutrition. Why? For most people excitement does not exist in regular exercise, sleeping enough, and eating a balanced diet.

When I was younger I learned the saying, “behind most lies is a sliver of truth.” Now, as an adult, I know that clearly there are many applications to that little nugget of wisdom. As a Dietitian Nutritionist, I know that nutrition advice and dietary approach are no exception.

So, Gorgo Girls, let’s take a hard look at the cold reality of the top 5 food myths I hear most often and debunk them once and for all.

1. Counting calories is good enough.

This is a myth that was started early in the century that has lingered around ever since. While counting calories can curb excessive eating or alert you of under eating (yes, that is a thing), it is certainly not the be-all and end-all of dietary intake. Not all calories are created equal; dietary fats and alcohol have a higher caloric energy load than carbohydrates and proteins. As important as caloric intake and calorie counting is, the split of macronutrients - carbs, protein, and fat - consumed is just as important.

Bottom line: Watch your macro split and your calorie intake for effective dietary control.

2. Eat less to lose weight.

This myth applies to long term, sustainable weight loss. Science has proven that burning off more calories than you consume leads to weight loss. However, the problem comes in that this only yields short-term results. The truth is that often times when we “eat less” we’re under cutting the amount of calories that our body needs to function in life + fitness, so over time we’re putting ourselves into cellular starvation mode without even knowing it. This then causes our body to start holding onto anything ingested, slowly increasing our body weight and changing our body composition to a higher body fat over time. To lose weight long-term we’ve got to build lean muscle, propelling our metabolism; to build muscle we’ve got to eat more than the bare minimum.

Bottom line: Don’t short yourself to an extreme on calories trying to lose weight and keep it off.

3. Alcohol stores as fat.

The large truth debunking this myth is in the science of the human body having no ability to store alcohol calories like it does food calories. However, drinking alcohol does put a hold on your body’s digestion of any consumed food calories, taking priority in digestion until it is all excreted out of your system. Remember learning the “1 drink, 1 hour” rule? That’s roughly how long it takes you to metabolize one standard alcoholic beverage and it’s also roughly how long your metabolism is on hold per drink that you consume. Drink a six-pack in a day at the beach? That’s six hours on metabolic hold from properly digesting food and using it as energy. While the alcohol calories themselves may not be stored as fat, the food calories that you ate while you were drinking may be, simply because they are not being metabolized for energy while there’s still booze in your body.

Bottom line: Limit your consumption to 1-2 drinks no more than 4 times a week for women, and 2-3 drinks no more than 4 times a week for men if you want to hit your goals.

4. Carbs are bad and I shouldn’t have ______________.

I’ll let you fill in the blank. Carbs are bad and I shouldn’t have: bread. pasta. rice. potatoes. fruit. The list of foods I’ve heard filling the blank on this myth could easily be a mile or more long. Let me debunk this myth for you now, at long last. Carbohydrates are the number one fuel source in your body. They are a critical part of cellular energy, muscular function, brainpower, and a well balanced diet. Without adequate carbohydrates in our diet we can quickly feel slugglish, hangry, fatigued, headaches, brain fog, irritability, leg cramps, constipation, heart palpitations, and drastically reduced physical and mental performance. This myth got started years ago when the belief arose that carbohydrates make people gain weight. The truth is that any macronutrient in excess can make people gain weight.

Bottom line: Choose healthy carbs that are fibrous like whole grains, fruits, and starchy vegetables as well as reduced fat dairy as a part of a balanced diet.

5. Consume 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.

In recent years many diet approaches have left people over consuming protein in hopes of building or maintaining muscle. Eating excessive protein in amounts greater than the body needs can have negative effects including weight gain, extra body fat storage, extreme stress on your kidneys including excessive urine output, dehydration, and leaching of critical bone minerals. On average, Americans are consuming three to five times more protein than their body needs and can actually use. The truth? The body needs 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight for an average adult and up to 1.5-2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight for those that are performing strenuous exercise most days of the week. To accurately calculate how much protein your body needs, take your bodyweight and multiply it by 0.454 to get your kilograms of body weight. Then multiply that by 0.8 to get your grams of protein needed if you’re not regularly exercising, and multiply your kilograms of bodyweight by 1.5-2.0 if you are regularly exercising to get your protein macro goals.

Bottom line: 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight is only acceptable for very short amounts of time to not strain your body and have negative effects. Your regular daily intake should be between 0.8 – 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, dependent on your physical activity level.

I Cannot Even. No, Really You Can.

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I can’t.

I cannot even.

I just cannot even.

I mean. I can’t.

We’ve all heard these expressions. Goodness, we’ve all said them. Tiny little word jabs we use throughout the day to express our disbelief in someone, some thing or some event. Social media has made our ability to can or can’t such a toss away expression anymore, we’ve forgotten those two little words (and the extra ones we tag on for dramatic emphasis) are rooted deeply in our ability to accomplish something.

I mean, can you even? Can you just even?

Yeah, you can.

One of my favorite sayings from my competitive sports playing days is one I stole from my husband, and he stole from his college volleyball coach. It’s super simple. Say it with me:

“Can you?”

That’s it.

Any time a ball was out of play or shanked, his coach would yell “Can you? Can you?” In the middle of a heated game or intense practice, no one had time to answer. You either could, or you died trying. Once we get out of our 20’s or we stop playing something competitively or we stop training for a specific event or sport and begin training for life, we start making excuses about our ability. We start not being able to even – way too often these days.

I get that. I really do.

I have to scale or modify prescribed workouts on a very consistent basis. Some days my body tells me “no” all together. I have 20 years of competitive volleyball on this body and sometimes I wake up at the crack of dawn, peek at the workout and say to myself “I cannot even.” Three little words before the sun comes up that determine my ability in the gym and as a result, my ability and attitude all day.

So, I changed my husbands’ coach’s mantra a bit to fit my life. I switched the words around and took away the question mark – that left these two words: “You can.”

You can.

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Imagine beginning your workout, your day with those two words. You can scale or modify the workout. You can do yoga instead if your body says “no” to the weight room. You can just walk up to the bar and lift it without telling yourself that you can’t a thousand times before you get there. You can take care of your body, your mind, your spirit and your emotions without sacrificing one for the other. You can use this phrase to encourage other women in your life without compromising your own ability.

You can.

This phrase is now officially my favorite sports (and life) phrase of all time. As a teammate, I love pushing my tennis partner to take a few more steps to get that stray tennis ball “you can, you can!” In coaching, I love encouraging young athletes to try another time when they are ready to throw in the towel “you can, you can.” When my kids tell me they can’t find anything to pack for their lunches, I say “you can, you can.”

Our days are a series of choices. Sure, there is some level of serendipity, spontaneity and even chaos to any twenty-four hour period, but we can still choose how we approach the day and how we speak to ourselves about what we are able to do. Choosing to say to ourselves “you can,” before the world has a chance to tell us otherwise is strategic and powerful.

Guess what? You can be strategic and powerful. Now what?

You can.

Southern Comfort: Lessons on Loving Food Appropriately with Robin Shea

by Jill Farr

Southern gal Robin Shea has been known for her “Southern Fried” fitness approach for some time, but her relationship with food wasn’t always a balanced one.

“I’ve always been a fitness fanatic, fitness has always been a part of my life, but the relationships I had with food were very unhealthy,” Robin admits. “Dieting, not dieting. Dieting, not dieting.”

“I was tired of that yo-yo. I knew there had to be a balance that I could strike that was more rewarding and fulfilling. With the 80/20 method I found that, and a way to keep the passion I had for good food as well.”

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The 80/20 method-- which encourages healthier food decisions 80% of the time, leaving 20% for more indulgent choices—is not only a practicality Robin lives…it’s also the theme for her television show, which airs on the Paula Deen network, Create TV, and PBS.

Cooking 80/20 allows viewers to see Robin bring healthy recipes to life (and enjoy her vivacious personality), and the show has featured her four sons, exhibiting the reality that this way of life can work with large families, as well.

Retooling recipes and replacing some ingredients with healthier alternatives was one key, but Robin also says that there was another factor that needed embracing; letting go of guilt.

“A lot of people don’t realize that psychologically, we introduce guilt as a factor,” Robin says. “It’s a double edged sword. We have to understand that guilt sabotages us on every level. If you can push the reset button every morning when you open your eyes, and truly embrace that, you can learn to let go of guilt, and you’re so far ahead of the game and headed for success.”

The 80/20 approach contains a lot of common sense, as a method of eating—there’s evidence that supports not engaging in super restrictive dieting, long term, if you want to maintain good habits—but there’s also one simple reason to save some room in your diet for the occasional indulgence; happiness. Robin believes that healthy eating doesn’t have to preclude happy eating, as long as there’s a reasonable balance.

“A very important point is that if you’re not enjoying every step of your process, you’re on the wrong journey,” Robin maintains. “I’m not saying you’re not going to experience trouble. Just find the approach that gives you a certain level of satisfaction every day. You should be having fun! If you’re miserable, it’s the wrong diet, the wrong approach…identify it and change it.”

“You should be enjoying it—every day should be rewarding in some way.”

#GORGOgirl: Katie Singletary

We love featuring our everyday GORGOgirls that are inspiring us to crush life and a balanced approach to fitness.
Meet Katie Singletary.

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Tell us about yourself!

My faith and my family are the most important things in my life.  God has blessed me with people that love me regardless of my flaws and I am so thankful for that.  I come from a family of women who love to cook and are really good at it too! I love being in the kitchen and learning new recipes and cooking techniques.  Being a new mom has been such a joy and I can’t wait to teach my daughter all the things my mother has taught me.  My husband and I have both just taken up golfing and it has been so fun learning something new together.  He is already way better than me but I’m coming for him!  My love languages are quality time, words of affirmation and physical touch.  That means I’m always up for hanging out, meaningful conversation and I’ll never turn down a hug! :)
I am the proud wife of a Captain in the US Air Force.  Taurean and I met when he was stationed in OKC and we have since moved to Georgia. We are each others biggest fans and life together gets more fun all the time! Our baby girl Mila was born on October 2, 2018. I am the owner of Brand Boutique, promotional products and advertising specialties company. I was born and raised in Oklahoma, but currently living in Columbus, Georgia.

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Tell us about your fitness life.  

My fitness journey is one that is constantly changing.  I have always been pretty active and grew up playing sports but I didn’t fall in love with fitness until I joined Koda Crossfit in 2012.  It gave me a community of friends and fed my competitive spirit.  I had gotten in to pretty bad shape and they pushed me to get back to the athlete that I had once been.  Crossfit has taught me that a competitive edge is what I need to push me in my physical goals.  This has led me to compete in numerous Crossfit competitions, half marathons, a sprint triathlon, a powerlifting meet, with my Gorgo Queen Christie Nix and staying fit while pregnant! :)

SHARE SOME GOALS THAT YOU CURRENTLY HAVE.

I am currently working on some aesthetic goals.  Getting back in physical shape after having Mila is on the top of my list.  I am pushing to CONFIDENTLY wear a two piece this summer. I am also about to participate in the OKC Memorial Marathon with my family.  We will be doing the relay and I am responsible for one of the 10K legs.  

Do you have any struggles?  

A current struggle I am having is celebrating the little things after having a baby!  I can be my harshest critic and ain’t nobody got time for that.  The world is always going to have haters so I need to be the first one to love and support myself!

Fav Quote that inspires you right now in your life?

“You don’t need motivation if you have discipline.” - My husband, Taurean Singletary.

He might have stolen this from someone or it might be original, but it has sparked a good amount of conversation in our household.  It also goes well with, “The hardest part is getting out of bed. Once your feet hit the ground and you brush your teeth, it’s easy!” That’s also a gem from my husband! :)

Any message you feel called to share about where you are at in life right now to encourage other GORGO GIRLS?

Comparison is the thief of joy!  It is so easy to look at someone else’s journey and wish you were in their shoes.  STOP THAT! Finding contentment and joy in your own situation isn’t always the easiest task but there is so much peace when you get there.  God made you unique and special and he made only one of YOU!  , With that being said, you are the only person that can change the situation you are in.  If you want a bigger paycheck, hustle a little harder! If you want a smaller waist, turn that third glass of wine down. (Notice I didn’t say second… I gotta keep it real). If you want bigger muscles, pick up the heavier weights!  If you’re scared to start something new, ask someone who’s been there.  You can do it!

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What do you love most about the GORGO community?  

The GORGO community is such a great place for women in all seasons of life.  Young or old, married or single, kids or no kids!  It is a place to go to for encouragement and accountability.  It is a safe place to talk about real things with women that have been there or are going through your same things.  It is also just really fun!  In a community of women this big, it feels like a tight knit group of friends and I guarantee there’s someone that’s just your type of gal! 

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Thoughts about your experience at Camp GORGO?  

2018 was my first year at camp and it was a blast!  I was about 6 months pregnant and I was a little hesitant to go.  I didn’t want to feel like I was disabled and I definitely didn’t want to be treated that way.  Christie Nix, who invited me to camp, assured me that that wouldn’t be the case at all and SHE WAS RIGHT!  Everyone welcomed me with open arms and only babied me a little bit when I was whoopin’ everyone in leg wrestling.  Just kidding… and I really hope that being pregnant wasn’t a super power there. If I get beat this summer it’s going to be embarrassing.  But really, camp was way more than the physical fun I expected.  It challenged me mentally and at a time that I was a little unsure of what I wanted my future goals to be as a new mom and entrepreneur.  I can’t wait be go back this summer and see all the faces of the girls that have become my social media family!

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The Tale of Two Trailblazers

By Erica Willick

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The Tale of Two Trailblazers

As your beloved GORGO has transformed in the past couple of years into a glowing vision of strength, beauty, and power she was always rooted in, we reflect simultaneously on our roots and our future.

These cover models of GORGO embody our fiery roots and trailblazing future. Doris Barrilleaux, pictured here at 84-years-old first lady of bodybuilding, pioneered the sport of recognizing women for their efforts in physique. She gracefully flexes beside visionary Valerie Solomon, Editor-In-Chief of the publication you’re reading right now. Both are driving forces behind the unwavering belief that we as women can change the landscape of fitness and health for ourselves.

So what makes someone a “trailblazer”? A trailblazer sees the world through different eyes and chooses to not shy away from the criticism and challenges that comes with doing things differently. They tame a wild trail through a forest for other people to follow.

These two women have trail blazed a path for us first Gorgo Girls, us women who know deep down we have power and strength beyond what is currently expected of us. Not because “strong is the new sexy”, but because feminine strength is timeless and a universal right for all women.

Trailblazer: Doris Barrilleaux (Aug. 11, 1931 - May 12, 2018)

Doris was confident, empowered, strong, and well into her 80’s, maintained a deep passion for women’s equality. Doris raised a family, worked as a flight attendant, became a successful photographer, pioneered women’s bodybuilding and worked hard for female control of it. She also put a tremendous amount of energy into spreading the news of the sport as well as promoting the benefits of strength training to the masses.

Doris remains active on social media and posts regularly about her annoyance of images of helpless women in real life or media. You could call her a Feminist. “Not the man hating kind” she says, “I only hate a few of them…just a few of those that were determined to control the women’s sport from the very beginning.”

Doris is called “the First Lady of Body Building” for her tireless work spearheading the movement to make women’s bodybuilding competitions a reality. In 2011, Doris was inducted into the National Fitness Hall of Fame at the Arnold Sports Festival for playing such an important role in women’s bodybuilding.

Doris envisioned a sport in which women were recognized for being in superior ‘natural’ shape and still very feminine. She envisioned a respected sport in which women were recognized for being healthy and strong. Many times in her autobiography Doris expressed that “the men took over” or that was the “man’s version”. The quest for bigger and the oversexualized poses in some classes she questions - Is this what women want for their sport? Doris saw the sport as art and one that symmetry and aesthetics were awarded, not merely size or sexiness.

Doris had almost lost hope in the work she and other female pioneers had put into the inception of women’s recognition for their efforts of being in good shape, until she met and developed a strong bond with GORGO Magazine’s editor, Valerie Solomon through a special feature that Valerie spearheaded in 2013. Valerie’s research for the feature, led to an in person visit and the two women, born decades apart, united in a vision for telling the world about the healthful benefits of strength training and a fit lifestyle.

Trailblazer: Valerie Solomon

A teen mom at the age of 19, Valerie Solomon, has seen her children as reasons, not excuses before most of us grew into adulthood and attempted to discover our identities. A mother to 4 boys now, she is known to hundreds of thousands on social media as Busy Mom Gets Fit.

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Valerie started into the fitness industry simply by sharing her journey that resonated with so many busy moms: trying to raise a gaggle of children, maintain our passion for fitness, keep our families running smoothly, work, support our husbands in their work, go after our crazy dreams, and deal with life’s challenges.

Yet she stands apart from the noise of the mainstream by choosing to stay true to her beliefs in herself and belief in other women, and then acting on those beliefs. Valerie believes we do not need to bend to what others want us to be just because it is more acceptable in current day’s norms. Whether those norms are skinnier or more submissive. She believes that we can be more, that we are equals. The mantra Valerie has coined for her fans is “I’m not beautiful like you, I’m beautiful like me.” Valerie encourages her community to post photos with these words written on photos that they feel represents their unique body. You can see a gallery of these powerful photos by searching #beautifullikeme in Instagram.

Throughout regular attacks on her large social media page for a “too muscular physique” or “selfish” mom gym time, Valerie has become further rooted in her beliefs instead of changing colors like a chameleon to hide. Instead, Valerie pursued her vision of a stronger voice for women like her and co-created GORGO Magazine in 2013.

Valerie craved more from women’s fitness content and was tired of fluff-filled articles crammed with fat burner advertisements, amongst sexualized airbrushed female images. She knew there were other women who felt the same, and put forward the ancient Spartan Queen Gorgo as the namesake for the magazine. At the brainstorming table, “Gorgo” (pronounced Gor-GO) wasn’t well received initially as the word sounded a bit ugly and strange to the test group of women used to “pretty” or traditional titles. However, Valerie stood her ground and insisted that the brand was timeless and required a unique title to represent the movement.

GORGO Magazine was published in November 2013 with Valerie overseeing all publications since it’s inception. Each cover model and article, has been scrutinized by Valerie to ensure it was “Gorgo-enough” for the readers and women she was committed to reach. Her unique ability to rally others to join the cause has resulted in the growth of the GORGO tribe to tens of thousands of women, and contributions from top writers and experts in the industry with powerful and thought-provoking articles.

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The birth and growth of GORGO didn’t happen in a vacuum. Life challenges still happened to Valerie, like it does to all of us. Yet, giving up was never an option. No matter how challenging life becomes, a trailblazer doesn’t ever quit.

Passing of the Torch

Valerie flew to attend Doris’s 84th birthday party, amongst the pioneers of women’s bodybuilding. Doris says of Valerie, “Our dreams and goals, while several generations apart, were identical. The more I learned of Valerie’s dedication, determination, and success in the women’s cause for being physically fit, I saw her as the new generation to carry the torch we lit with our first women’s physique contest in 1979.”

At the party, a ceremony was held where Doris passed the “Torch” to Valerie with a physical representation of a torch. Doris, a woman who had dedicated her life to the cause of equality of women in fitness and recognition for those efforts, sees hope in the movement with Valerie and GORGO.

Trailblazers clear the path for so many of us. Yet there is something weaved through the fabric of Doris Barrilleaux and Valerie Solomon that is weaved through millions of women, and weaved through our Spartan Queen, Gorgo. Strong women with a desire to live and do things a little bigger than their stature might lead you to believe is possible.

See the ripple effect of Valerie Solomon’s vision and YOUR power to impact others as part of Camp Gorgo banquet speech.
https://youtu.be/HbiWh3phN1k?t=5m4s

Fabiana Pelucio: How Tragedy Inspired a Drive to Help Others

By Jill Farr

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Pivotal moments can happen at any moment in our lives, but sometimes the stage we’re in when they occur can make their effect particularly dramatic.

Falling in love at fourteen isn’t better or worse than having it happen at forty, it’s simply different. Similarly, loss of a loved one can affect us deeply at any age, but there’s something deeply impactful about losing someone important to you when you’re very young.

When Fabiana Pelucio was four years old, one such loss dramatically changed her life.

“My six year old sister suddenly died in front of me,” Fabiana says. “One minute we were playing and the next I was watching my sister lying on the ground turning blue. All I could say was ‘Stand up and walk, just stand up and walk!’  I got emotionally paralyzed from this incident. It took me 36 years to understand the demons in my head.”

But as so often happens, tragedy and the resulting pain inspired a drive to help others, and led to a passion that not only transformed Fabiana, but the lives of those she has come to touch in adulthood, first as a physiotherapist and now as a personal trainer.

“In essence I have come to understand that since that traumatic incident where I was only 4 years old I have always had the need to help people physically,” Fabiana says. “That fueled my choice of studies while growing up.”

“Since moving to Australia I have moved my focus into fitness as a Fitness Model and am undergoing a personal training course to gain credentials.”

Fabiana is a relative newcomer to the fitness model world…and unique in that she decided to pursue this path a little later in life than most.

“In 2014 I decided to do my first show,” Fabiana says, “Not knowing what to expect but wanting to experience something new.”

“I decided to compete in bodybuilding as a fitness model for the first time to celebrate my 40th birthday to try challenging myself as I embarked on the next chapter of my life.”

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“I competed in the Sydney IFBB show & placed 3rd…then I felt this fire inside to continue this. So I decided to compete in the ANB Australia Sydney titles in which I placed 1st in both novice and over 30’s divisions. Then I went onto the ANB Australia Nationals and placed 1st in both divisions. I was blown away by this experience as there were women on stage that were world class athletes. I started to believe in my ability even more. I received my ANB/UFE pro card and qualified to compete in the world titles in Canada. As the current Australian Fitness model I was chosen to represent Australia on the prestige world stage in Canada Toronto at the UFE show recently in November.”         

“My journey as a fitness model was a great start to connect to myself, finding the purpose to fulfil my life and giving myself the chance to break through my limitations to follow my inner desire.”

The level of training that Fabiana has undertaken has not only yielded physical results; she believes that strengthening the body can also heal your emotions.

“I consider myself a very spiritual person,” Fabiana says, “So the most rewarding aspect of training has been an awakening process of finding a real connection to my deep inner being because I believe in emotional and physical relationship. Now that I’ve met the real me, it gives me the motivation to keep committed to my strength.”

“Training sort of gives me the feeling of dating your soul mate where you have butterflies in your stomach on every date!”

That sort of connection doesn’t happen overnight, and Fabiana knows as well as most women that finding the time to devote to the sort of training needed to accomplish it takes commitment.

“As women we wear multiple hats in the family and it can be hard to juggle everything at once, but my advice is always to get started. They say that a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Go for walks, take the stairs, join a gym, make a get-fit club with friends; whatever stage of life you are in it is never too late to turn things around but you have to tap into your inner fire.”

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In a full circle demonstration of how the most crippling moments can give birth to some of the deepest strength, Fabiana has taken the instinctive urging she felt as a child in the worst moment of her life and transformed it into a call of encouragement to others.

“’Stand up for yourself and Walk’, that’s a quote I always say,” Fabiana says. “Reconnect to your true self and your inner desire. Regardless of the situation you may be struggling with in life, what matters is getting back you. Standing up from your struggles, learning from them and walking on to the next day believing in yourself with goals in mind. Believe you will get up stronger!”

“As a liberated 40 year old woman I decided to see how would feel to experience my dreams, something that I believed it was possible to achieve. Instead of saying “If I was____, I could” why not say, “I am willing to give myself a chance to experience this”, believing that is possible to create a different life’s story.”

“No matter what it takes for you to walk again both emotionally or physically, use your past pain to empower you by learning from it and channeling your weakness into your strength! You just need to take the first step.”

RED CURRY DRAGON BOWL - GLUTEN & DAIRY FREE

By Christal Sczebel, Nutritionist in the Kitch

Christal recreates a dragon bowl after a yummy dining out experience…

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Dragon bowls aren’t a new thing. A dragon bowl is simply a meal-in-a-bowl that consists of a high-quality protein and nutrient dense vegetables over a whole grain base like rice, or is sometimes served over roasted sweet potatoes and a bed of spinach.

I stuck with spinach and brown rice as the base for my bowl, and then chose to go with chicken, broccoli, snap peas, and peppers in a delicious red curry sauce (with peanut butter and tahini!) as the bulk of the bowl. Then I chose to use similar toppings as the bowl I enjoyed at Communitea – cabbage, carrots, cilantro, peanuts, and bean sprouts for that crunch!

The colours, textures, flavour combinations, mixture of warm and soft with cold and crunchy is honestly so amazingly good. I just can’t help but FEEL unbelievably nourished and satisfied after this meal. It’s definitely a keeper.

INGREDIENTS:

SAUCE:

  • 1½ cups coconut milk (I mixed full fat and light)

  • 2 heaping tablespoons natural peanut butter

  • 1 heaping tablespoon tahini

  • 2 tablespoons red thai curry paste

  • 2 tablespoons coconut aminos or gluten-free soy sauce

  • ½ tsp sesame oil

  • 1½ tablespoons coconut palm sugar

  • juice of 1 lime

  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed

  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger or ginger paste

BOWL INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 skinless boneless chicken breasts, diced into small pieces (cook with coconut or olive oil - see instructions)

  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced

  • 2 cups broccoli crowns, chopped

  • 1 cup snap peas

  • 2 cups brown rice or quinoa, cooked

  • GARNISHES:

  • 2 cups spinach

  • ¼ head of red cabbage, sliced

  • 2 carrots, shredded

  • 1 cup bean sprouts

  • ½ cup cilantro. chopped

  • ¼ cup peanuts, crushed

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Begin by making the sauce. In a bowl dd all the sauce ingredients EXCEPT the coconut milk and whisk until smooth.

  2. In a large pan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of coconut or olive oil and warm for 30 seconds.

  3. Add in the diced chicken and cook, stirring frequently until browned.

  4. While the chicken is browning, in another large pot/wok over medium-high heat add in the curry sauce and bring to a simmer. Stir in the coconut milk and bring back to a simmer.

  5. Add in the bell pepper, broccoli, and snap peas and continue to cook for a few minutes until the chicken is finished browning in the other pan.

  6. Add the browned chicken to the pot/wok with the red curry sauce and vegetables.

  7. Simmer everything for 3 more minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

  8. Remove from heat.

  9. Take 4 large bowls and line each bowl with fresh spinach leaves.

  10. Top the spinach leaves with warm cooked quinoa or brown rice (1/2 cup per bowl, cook the rice or quinoa ahead of time).

  11. Divide the red curry chicken and vegetable mixture between the four bowls.

  12. Top each bowl with the sliced raw cabbage, shredded carrot, bean sprouts, cilantro, and crushed peanuts.

  13. Dig in!

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