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.

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.”

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




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.”

Stronger Than You Think: Dianne Rideout

 

By Jill Farr

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Career woman and single mom Dianne Rideout has a very clear answer when asked the standard GORGO interview question, “What do you believe sets you apart? What’s your source of empowerment?”

“I have never been handed anything in my life,” Dianne says. “I have worked for every single thing I have.”

While achieving goals as the result of hard work certainly builds a certain amount of fortitude, it’s also not something born in a vacuum; the mindset of success has to be there, too. It’s something Dianne has cultivated carefully, over the years.

Dianne was not fitness minded as a child, or particularly athletic. In fact it wasn’t until after her second pregnancy when she turned to fitness for weight loss that she discovered its secondary benefits. 

“I started my fitness journey with Sisters in Shape after I had my second child,” Dianne says.

“I was heavier than I had ever been in my life--almost 200 pounds and I am 5’2.”

“I had my daughter in May 2014 and was heading back to work in January 2015.  I started searching the internet and stumbled onto Sisters in Shape. I did a 6 week challenge and lost some weight but I still wasn’t where I wanted to be so I contacted Erica Willick and she started coaching me one on one.”

The newly found fitness focus ultimately helped Dianne with more that just physical strength.

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“I was having a lot of troubles in my marriage and personal life,” Dianne says. “I turned to working out as a way to work through those issues. I lost weight and became fitter than I had been before, but more importantly I really gained mental strength and clarity from working out.”

As it happens so often with women, Dianne’s foray into strength training brought to light a need for the coalescence of strength and assurance from other areas into the places where it was lacking.

“I’m a lawyer by trade,” Dianne says, “And I feel that in that realm I portray myself as strong and confident.”  

“In my personal life I was anything but that.”

“I had been beaten down a lot and I felt like I was far from the person that everyone saw in my professional life, and on the surface.”

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In the summer of 2016, just as she had amped up her fitness journey by going from a program to personal training, Dianne went a step further and traveled to Camp Gorgo for the first time.  

“It was very much out of my comfort zone to go to something like this where I didn’t know anyone,” Dianne says. “But it really changed my life.”  

Dianne credits meeting strong and inspirational women at the camp with challenging her to make another jump, and transform her life even more.

“After meeting women who had overcome many difficulties in their life,  it really made me realize that I needed to take action to life a live that made me happy,” Dianne explains. “I set out to start living an authentic life. I wanted to be strong and happy, and show my daughters a strong female role model.”

While the courage to strike out and change the aspects of her life that were unhealthy--both physically and situationally--is something she advocates for, Dianne also shares that realistically, the choice to make even positive changes isn’t without struggle, itself.

“Single mom life is so hard,” Dianne relates. “Some days I feel like superwoman. Some days I’m hiding in my bedroom just to escape my kids and cry. But I keep trudging on. Ultimately I want my kids to know that I did not put up with an unhappy or unhealthy situation. I stood up for myself and ultimately for them. I don’t think they see it at the moment, but I hope one day they will appreciate it.”

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Fitness competition became the next tangible marker for Dianne’s strength journey.

“I never wanted to compete, initially,” Dianne says, “But I found that once I started to build physical strength my emotional strength also grew. I felt empowered and decided that I would challenge myself to compete in a competition to prove to myself that I was strong.”

“Competing really wasn’t about winning or losing. It was about showing myself I had the dedication it takes to do it.  When I stepped on the stage I felt like a different person. It was so empowering. It turned out to be more that I had hoped for because I ended up winning two first place trophies and one second place trophy.”

Fitness became an integral part of Dianne’s life, one that helped her make strong moves in order to pursue happiness and health, and realize the depths of her inner strength.

That inner strength was tested when tragedy struck for Dianne, but ultimately her fitness provided a solid foundation for her to move forward.

“Last year, I lost my biggest support, my best friend and the love of my life in a tragic accident,” Dianne shares.

“It’s hard to put into words how traumatic his death was for me. He was my constant and biggest support. During the times that I wanted to give up, he reminded me of how strong I was and told me how much he admired my strength.  When he died, my life was shattered. The strength that I had worked so hard for seemed to suddenly disappear. Now I am trying to pick up the pieces and rebuild my life. I don’t think you ever get over something like that. I know that once the pieces are together I will be a very different lady - and a much stronger one.”

“It is ironic – I remember thinking that 2017 was the hardest year of my life.  Entering 2018 I thought to myself that 2018 was going to be “my year”. After all my struggles and all the work I had put in, I was finally going to be happy. I had no idea then what life had in store for me.  Even though I felt I had already come back from “rock bottom”, I had no idea at the time what rock bottom was.”

“Even with all of the other challenges I’ve had these past few years, attending his funeral was the hardest thing I have ever done.  So, in the end, 2018 ended up being the worst year of my life.”

“It is so hard to put into words what I felt. The best example that I can think of is that for many years I was in a dark hole. I worked very hard to dig myself out.  At the end of 2017 I felt like I could finally see the light. I was just at the surface of the hole, but before I actually climb out fully, someone grabbed my hands and threw me back down in that hole again. Only this time, the hole was deeper and darker than it had been before. I didn’t really know how to process my grief so I turned to my workouts to help get me through the days. It gave me time to think and reflect on everything that had happened.”  

“Despite everything, I survived.  I am still standing and slowly I’m picking up the pieces. My goal for 2019 is to start rebuilding my life.”

Research has shown correlations between improving physical fitness and enhanced mental states, and that can extend to coping with grief. Dianne’s fitness foundation provided a great outlet to help her cope with her grief. While it’s still a work in progress, she’s focused on moving forward.

“I definitely am not out of the woods yet,” Dianne says. “But I have come a long way since last year.”

When asked what she would tell other women who are struggling to leave unhealthy situations, or what advice she would give the grief-stricken woman who is fighting to just get out of bed, much less to the gym, Dianne adds her own dimension to a favorite quote from a book she loves…

“Never ignore your inner voice. Listen to yourself and believe in yourself because you are stronger than you think. I love this quote from Glennon Doyle Melton’s book Love Warrior, and it sums up what I believe…

“I will not betray myself. I will trust the wisdom of the still small voice. I will not let fear drown her out. I will trust her and I will trust myself. Love, Pain, Life: I am not afraid. I was born to do this.”







 

Pre and Post Workout Nutrition: And How (Un)Important It May Be To You

 

Author: Stephaney Theobald, with preface by Erica Willick

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As a diet coach, I get a lot of questions every day, but perhaps two of the most common I hear are “Should I eat before I workout?” and “What’s the best thing to eat after a workout?”.

This article will answer that question.  However, in typical Gorgo-fashion we fill you in on the bigger picture so you can decide how important, or unimportant this question actually is for you.

Asking about pre and post workout nutrition, especially as you get started with diet,  is like someone asking you “What do you want from the menu?” before you determined what night you were going to go out for dinner (are you even available?), what style of restaurant is of interest to you (mexican, fast food, cafe, etc.), and what restaurant are you going to.  To have a great dinner out, there are a number of much more important items that need to be address before you dive into figuring out what to order off a menu!

One of the best representations of how important, or unimportant pre/post workout nutrition may be for you was developed by Eric Helms in his “Muscle and Strength Pyramids” books.

In the pyramid below, Eric Helms takes the aspects of diet and stacks them into order of importance as they relate to your overall dietary success.  The items at the base of the pyramid are most important, and the items at the top of the pyramid least important.  You’ll notice “Nutrient Timing”, which pre and post workout nutrition falls into, is close to the top of the pyramid.  This means pre/post workout nutrition is less important than overall Energy Balance (total calories in/out), Macros (your ratio of protein/carbs/fats), and the Micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).  

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So before you get bogged down with what to eat before/after a workout, you’re better off to master the items below Nutrient Timing in the pyramid.  Priorities in nutrition are like priorities in life!  Put your focus where it really matters, and only add to your priorities when you have a good handle on the really important stuff!

OK, SO YOU’RE ACTUALLY READY FOR PRE AND POST NUTRITION

If you’re rocking the other (more important) parts of your diet, then let’s dive into what to eat before and after a workout.

As with most things, there is really no ONE right answer, as it heavily depends on factors such as the individual’s body type, goals, workout style, fitness level, schedule, etc. – however in this article I will attempt to address these questions in a general sense that applies to a broad audience.

SIMPLIFIED: Eat protein and carbohydrates before and after workouts.

But, let’s get more specific:

PRE-WORKOUT

First, let me clarify that when I say “workout” in this article, I am referring to any high intensity activity such as heavy weight-training or any cardio that gets your heart rate above 65% max.

The most important rule of thumb I tell most people who are looking to build muscle or lean out while preserving muscle is that it’s VERY important to eat before a workout.  Working out on an empty stomach is more likely to encourage the body to break down its nutrient-dense muscle for the fuel it needs to get through a tough workout, which is the opposite of what most people are trying to accomplish.

Updated research supports this showing that fasted cardio is not effective for fat loss, although this used to be a commonly held belief.  If you hear a trainer or coach telling you to workout on an empty stomach for better results, they need to do some updating to their research.

Pre-workout, I find that a good strategy is to eat some kind of lean protein with a low-fiber carbohydrate.

  • The lean protein will provide the amino acids your body will need to protect the muscle during an intense workout. Generally, I prefer a slower digesting protein before a workout, but even a fast-acting protein such as whey isolate is better than having no protein.

  • The carbs will provide the fuel needed to get through the workout.  For pre-workout carbs, I typically like ones that are lower in fat and fiber because I find that foods too high in fat or fiber can tend to sit in the gut and make you feel too full or uncomfortable during an intense workout.  You may find that you feel better during a workout with slower digesting carbs like oats.  Give both a try and see how you feel.

  • Pre-workout meal timing is 1-1.5 hrs before working out (maybe 20-30 min if just eating a fast digesting shake).

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POST-WORKOUT

A strategy I’ve found to be effective with most people post-workout is eating a fast-acting protein and a higher glycemic carbohydrate.  After an intense workout your muscles have been broken down and are essentially looking for nutrients to aid in recovery and rebuilding.

  • Eating or drinking a fast-acting protein, such as whey isolate, will allow the amino acids to get to work more quickly, and

  • A higher glycemic carb will better spike the insulin and help shuttle nutrients to the muscle more quickly and efficiently.

It’s not BAD to eat a slower digesting/high fiber carb post workout. But the faster the carb can be digested, the more your insulin will spike and you get better shuttling of nutrients to recovering muscles.  I don’t promote eating SUPER high glycemic carbs like Skittles, PopTarts, etc. as a general rule (because I prefer cleaner eating), but of course, truth be told, there are times I’ve had candy with my post workout meal.  If you have committed to a healthy diet, and you are craving a little something sweet, the post workout meal can be a good place to slip it in.

A great example of a post-workout meal is a whey isolate protein shake with a white potato.  Plus, I like to add greens for their anti-inflammatory effect (can be whole veggies or a greens supplement), sea salt since it has 26 minerals to help the protein and carbs cross the cell membrane, and a fish oil supplement for more anti-inflammatory effect.

These are a few of many options:

  • whey isolate & white potato

  • egg whites & white bread

  • whey isolate & banana

  • egg whites & grapes

As with anything each individual should experiment and learn what works best for their situation, body type and goals. However starting with the tips above may help you get more out of your workouts and further in your journey towards a fit and sexy body!

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New Year, New You…OR not

 

By Val Solomon

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I like you the way you are.  Really.  

Maybe I don’t know you, exactly.  But I know this:  You have subscribed to this magazine about fitness and real women and empowerment… and you are reading it.  That tells me something.  

It tells me that you have this yearning somewhere deep inside to be strong.  Not just physically strong, but empowered.

It tells me that you love leaning on other strong women for support.  It tells me you are in #mytribe....this group of women that lifts up other women.

It tells me you want to keep learning.  You aren’t so set in your ways.  A GORGO Girl knows every person has a story she can learn from.

It tells me that you have some badass in you.  Maybe just a tiny tiny bit.  Maybe a whole lot.  

You are sitting here reading something for yourself.  So I like you.  Just like this.  The girl with the spark of curiosity and goals and dreams and that attitude you have.

I just want YOU this New Year.  100% you.  Not a new you.  Just the authentic you.  

 

Love and Lifting: Angela Stevenson on the Inspirational Power of Strength

 

By Jill Farr

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Seven years ago, Angela Stevenson was newly divorced, broke, and still 3 months away from receiving her Bachelor’s Degree, with four little boys to support.

Desperate to make ends meet, she turned to fitness as a way to bring in money while she finished her education.

“I began teaching Zumba classes,” Angela says, “Spin classes, any classes I could to make extra money.”

“My life was literally falling apart, but I managed to find the strength to finish school, graduate with honors, and get a job teaching kindergarten.”

With her career headed in a different direction, fitness still had a big place in Angela’s life, and the rewards that she began reaping from that time went beyond financial ones.

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“I felt as if I had been a victim,” Angela says, “And I never wanted to be a victim again. That’s when I took an interest in bodybuilding. I trained for my first figure show, and found that body building made me feel as strong as I felt inside. I felt I needed an "extreme makeover", and even though my outside body was changing, the real change took place on the inside. I found my strength and inner peace through weight training.”

Although Zumba remains Angela’s first love—she still teaches classes in the evenings—preparing for that first figure show instilled a love of strength training that has grown into a desire to share the power of weights with the world.

“My interests grew broader when I began training to do my first figure show 3 years ago,” Angela says.

“I worked with a diet coach, and trainers, and through that journey, I decided to study to become a trainer. I wanted to help people reach their goals. Today, I teach bootcamps, train clients…I want to share this with women as much as I can.”

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“I feel it is a kind of "pay it forward"--helping people reach their goal, and empowering them to find their strength. I had a weightlifting seminar, and as I shared my story of how and why fitness became so important in my life, I realized that many other women had their own demons to conquer as well. My story wasn't so unique after all.  Many other women had their own stories, and needed an outlet. Weight lifting seem to be their outlet too.”

The inner strength and peace that Angela found through building her body led not only to an increased love for herself, it served as the medium for finding another kind of love, as well.

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Angela met her current husband, Glen, in the gym, he proposed to her while she was teaching a Zumba class. They were even married in the gym…with their wedding photos featuring the bride and groom both holding weights.

“We competed in a bodybuilding show together,” Angela says, “And after dieting together and not killing one another, we thought we should get married!”

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As Angela pursues her dreams of continuing to compete, train, and coach, she believes that her singular spin on fitness comes from the example she sets; of a normal, everyday woman setting out to maintain personal fitness despite the obstacles that everyday life throws at us.

“I think women can relate to me, because I am an average working, busy mom,” Angela says. (She and Glen have seven—yes, that’s right, seven—children between the two of them).  

“I’m a kindergarten teacher, and I train and teach classes at night. I also just completed my Master's degree! I still find the time to work out, even when I have every excuse not to. I am passionate about being healthy in mind, body and soul. It is all about balance. I don't always do a perfect job at this, but I try every day.”

More than just a word, “strength” is a mantra to Angela; it’s emblazoned on both her car—as the phrase, “Where there is no struggle, there is no strength”—and on her body.

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“After a long, hard journey in my life,” Angela says, “I had the strength symbol tattooed on my foot as a reminder of how far I’ve come in life.”

“I love what GORGO stands for, motivating women to be strong, to encourage and lift each other, and to love yourself.  Strength is a powerful word to me.”

Finding that self love through strength starts with choosing your activity, Angela believes. She maintains that jump starting your fitness journey starts with finding the pursuit that makes your heart beat faster, not just literally, but figuratively.

“My advice to women,” Angela says, “Would be find your passion in fitness. Everyone is different, maybe it’s running or Zumba, crossfit, or weight training, but whatever inspires you, do it! Exercise is not just for the body, but for the mind as well.”

“Inspire, love and lift each other always!”

(You can find Angela on Facebook as Angela Stevenson and on Instagram as ANGELA_FIT4LIFE.)

 

Slow-Cooker Turkey Chili

 
This meal is perfect to let simmer away while you’re at work; the longer the flavours cook together, the better it tastes. It can also be made on the stove-top if you don’t have access to a slow-cooker - the benefit to the slow cooker is the bigger the batch, the better as this freezes well for later use, and is great for meal planning for your week.  Topped with freshly cut green onions and a sprinkle of low-fat cheddar cheese, this chilli is perfect healthy comfort food.

This meal is perfect to let simmer away while you’re at work; the longer the flavours cook together, the better it tastes. It can also be made on the stove-top if you don’t have access to a slow-cooker - the benefit to the slow cooker is the bigger the batch, the better as this freezes well for later use, and is great for meal planning for your week.

Topped with freshly cut green onions and a sprinkle of low-fat cheddar cheese, this chilli is perfect healthy comfort food.

By Aleshia Pint, Less With Bread

Imagine walking through your door, kicking your winter boots off and shaking off the chill from the frigid weather outside, and having a warm bowl to wrap your hands around - a bowl filled with comforting and filling chili.

Packed with protein from lean ground turkey and a variety of beans, one bowl for lunch or dinner will keep you feeling satisfied but not heavy. Be generous with the vegetables you add; a couple multi-coloured bell peppers, red onions, corn - it’s all to your personal taste. This chili has a spicy kick from jalapenos that are coarsely chopped and added with their seeds, but serrano peppers would work well too if you can get your hands on them! Don’t be shy with the spices either, the key to a flavourful sauce is all about building the flavour - smoky paprika, cayenne pepper, chili pepper and oregano all blend together to create that distinct and familiar chili taste.

Ingredients

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  • 1 package lean ground turkey

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 can of low salt black beans, rinsed

  • 1 can of low salt mixed beans, rinsed

  • 1 can corn (frozen works as well if that’s what you have on hand)

  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 1 can diced tomatoes and their juice

  • 1 can pureed tomatoes

  • 1 green pepper, chopped

  • 1 medium sized white onion, minced

  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced

  • 1 celery stalk, minced

  • 2 jalapenos, chopped (use one for a more mild kick)

  • 2 teaspoons cumin

  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika

  • fresh ground salt and pepper, to taste

  • additional (optional): green onions, shredded cheese, avocado, plain greek yogurt

Directions:

1. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add ground turkey and brown, breaking into small bits. Drain turkey and pour into slow cooker.

2. In the same pan, sauté onions, garlic, celery and spices until fragrant. (This step is optional - if you are short on time, go ahead and skip to step 3 - this just builds a more complex flavour).

3. Add onion, celery and spice mixture to slow cooker, along with all remaining ingredients.

4. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 hours.

5. Top with optional ingredients.

*if just using the stove, follow above ingredients using a large pot, and simmer for 1-2 hours.



 

#GORGOGirl Morgan Green

 

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

Tell us about your fitness life.

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I have been pretty active since I was little. I played soccer growing up, then moved to competitive cheerleading, cheered all through middle and high school and competed with those squads, and then moved into the typical cardio queen mentality after having my first baby at 17. I have always loved to lift, training legs was always my favorite on our weight room days, but it was probably when we moved to Kentucky with the military that I really learned to love lifting....ever since I just love to feel strong as a woman...and I love to push myself.

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Tell us about your non-fitness life.

It’s really hard to put all that you do as a wife/mom into words...but I’ll try! My husband and I have been married for almost 11 years, he was a combat medic in the army for 8 years, and is now a firefighter and serves in the national guard. I’m blessed to be a mom to three incredible children. Wyatt is 12, Amie Rhea is 10, and Joshua is 3. I work full time as a receptionist for a busy pediatric doctors office in my hometown of Granbury, TX. My greatest passion is to sing, and thankfully God gave me the ability to do it well! I have been blessed to be able to use my gift on my church’s worship team for several years. I also love to read and learn....if someone would pay me to be a full time student...I would do it in a heartbeat! #nerdalert

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What do you love about GORGO?

This was my first year to attend Camp GORGO, and I have been so jealous every year before as I saw all these women posting pictures and sharing of what camp did for them. GORGO is the first place that I felt 100% free and safe to be myself. That sounds silly....but for that weekend my identity wasn’t solely based around being a wife, mom, sister, daughter, etc I just got to be ME! I got to be in the first women centered weekend without the catty cliques, without the judgements or comparison, and without the fear of fitting in. It was a weekend of encouragement for all victories, full of growth and self discoveries. There’s not another place on earth you will learn about your innermost self, where you’re free to dream for yourself without holding back and where you learn how to make those dreams come true! There’s nothing more beautiful than a woman who believes in who and what she is.

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Anything about camp GORGO you'd like to mention?

My favorite part of Gorgo was becoming part of this incredible tribe of women. It is the only group of women that I have EVER encountered where there is truly nothing negative going on. There’s no inside cliques, there’s just total inclusion. We are all women, who love and celebrate being a woman and love and celebrate other women. We encourage each other unconditionally. The giggles, belly laughs, competitions, tears, dancing, meals, it was all perfect....and I can’t wait to do it again!!!!

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Competition Without Comparison: Anna Earley

By Jill Farr

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Anna Earley grew up as an athlete, swimming and playing competitive volleyball and soccer in high school, and was a nurse for almost twenty years, mostly in pediatrics doing case management or coordinating services. She and her husband still play and coach volleyball as adults.

So when Anna says that she believes her online Isagenix business is a more empowered and helpful pursuit than nursing...it’s worth hearing her explanation.

“I feel like a lot of my nursing career was spent in “Band Aid” fixes--after the fact measures that really didn’t address the underlying problem, or promote wellness,” Anna says. “Nursing and healthcare isn’t really focused on prevention, in my opinion and experience. When I looked at Isagenix, though, they were addressing preventative health. Helping people get healthy on their own.”

Anna co-parents her 14 year-old daughter and 16 year-old son along with her ex-husband and current husband, in addition to running her online business, and their extended familial cooperation is right up there with her contribution to those seeking health, when it comes to life philosophies that she feels are essential.

“I have a great relationship with their dad,” Anna relates. “We’re probably not the norm when it comes to blended families--we all get along. My current husband has two kids and I’m good friends with his former wife...it’s a very rare thing, but it works well and everyone gets along.”

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“It’s one of the things I think I’m most proud of...I’m not proud of being divorced, but I’m proud of how we handled it. My mantra has always been, “Be the change.” In every sense, if you want a calm life, if you want fun fitness...be what you want.”

Forgoing the mindset of “Us Against Them”, and dropping comparisons isn’t just a tactic that Anna advocates for getting the best out of family relationships; it’s also a key to success in feeling your own worth in the age of social media, and doing your best for yourself.

“I have always found--especially with social media--there’s this huge comparison pressure,” Anna says. “To be on par with this person getting all this attention on Facebook, or a certain number of likes on Instagram, but for me...I’ve always loved fitness when it’s doing something I’m passionate about. I’d rather be on a volleyball court than in a gym lifting weights. But there’s a lot of pressure to do things other people are doing.”

A shoulder injury necessitated a break from Anna’s passion--volleyball--for a period of time, and that led to her discovery of weight lifting. While that progressed into a time of bodybuilding--and even competing--Anna admits that volleyball and yoga are the things that she loves...and therefore does.

“When I play volleyball, I get excited to go. I lift weights because I know the benefits, I like how it makes me feel, and I love yoga because I like being flexible. I think you have to love what you do to get the consistency you need. To get into a routine.”

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“Yoga is so underrated. Especially as we get older, we need it more. We need our brains to stop, we need to be grounded...yoga is great for flexibility and strength, but it’s good for those things, too.”

In addition to the love and excitement for a particular pursuit, Anna believes that taking the time pressure off will help with developing and maintaining a regular workout routine.

“People are also always looking for the perfect timing, or amount of time to work out,” she says. “They think you need an hour set aside to go to the gym. But especially for new moms, or people on the go, you need to just take that ten minutes or whatever you have to do it now. Because if you love it, that ten minutes will naturally grow.”

Lessons from Anna:

Drop Comparisons...Do What You Love. “My belief is that you’re going to be happiest, you’re going to be most consistent, when you’re doing an activity that you love,” Anna says. “If you go into weight training because someone told you to do it, you might stick with it for a while, but if you don’t love it...it won’t last.”

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Competition and Play Aren’t Just for Kids. Anna plays volleyball weekly--sand and court, depending on the season. If you’re thinking, “I thought comparison was bad...isn’t that the same thing as competition?”, the answer is “No”. Taking part in games where there are “winners” doesn’t mean you’re a “loser” if you don’t take it all at the end...the idea is to focus on challenge. Challenge encourages growth, and can be an important part of an enjoyable physical endeavor.

Any Amount of Time Can Grow. Ten minutes doing something you love will leave you hungry for more, not wishing you weren’t there. When you find your passion, or at the very least, something fun, you’ll find the time. And make more of it.




The 5 Realms of Holistic Body Love

 
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By Rosalyn Fung

Holistic Body Love to me, is about being in a healthy relationship with yourself in five important realms of life: mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually & socially.

Let’s define these five areas:

1.  Mental: This is our self-talk, what it is we say to ourselves about ourselves. Ideally, we want to be engaging in positive self-talk significantly more than negative self-talk.

2.  Emotional: This is the way we feel about ourselves, and the ability to regulate one’s own emotions well. The way we think about ourselves leads to how we feel about ourselves.

3.  Physical: This involves our physical body, not in appearance, but rather with the health condition of our body. For example, a strong immune system, organs that function well, a body that’s well nourished with nutrients, a body that has abundant energy to thrive.

4. Spiritual: This area can have multiple meanings. For some, it would be one’s own ability to tune into their intuitive wisdom. For others, it may be their connection with a Higher Power. Essentially, it is the ability to see the bigger picture and connect with sacred aspects of life, so that life has fulfillment through deeper meaning and purpose.

5.  Social: We are social creatures at the very core of us, meaning we all need a connection with people to heal. We are influenced every day by relationships and dynamics in our home, work, school, and  life environments.

I see that having a balance in these five realms can help us feel more present, grounded, and empowered in who we are as an individual, and in the various roles we take on.

What Does It Mean to Have Holistic Body Love?

Holistic Body Love means to be kind to yourself, to treat yourself with love and respect, to have healthy and flexible boundaries so that you keep out things that do not serve you (drama anyone?! No thanks!), to feel gratitude for all that you have in your life and to feel enough abundance with what you have right now (rather than feeling deprived or believing that ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’). These are just some examples, and there are many more. Ultimately, it’s about being your own best friend.

My Journey to Finding Holistic Body Love

I did not always have an amazing relationship with me. In fact, I used to be my own worst enemy and beat myself up all the time because I wasn’t fit-looking enough, because I didn’t have six-pack abs, because my hips weren’t small enough, my arms were not defined enough, and because for goodness sake, that little piece of flesh on my upper back behind my armpit was too fleshy and soft! I used to restrict myself from eating certain kinds of foods because it’s what I thought would exacerbate my “problem areas”. So I stayed away from sugar, opting instead for the chemically enhanced sweeteners (but hey, at least they are calorie free!) and for the “fat-free” food products. And this made me feel good and feel (falsely) safe because I was eating perfectly. I would bring my own food to social gatherings because I was anxious about eating anything outside of my diet. I would take hours to try on clothes because nothing fit right or gave me the look I wanted, I would get so stressed out packing for vacation (okay I admit I still do but for different reasons now!) because I couldn’t decide what to wear since I couldn’t predict how my body would look each day I was away from home. And when I was alone, I binged. I ate, and ate and ate all the foods I deprived myself of – peanut butter, cookies, bread and anything high in sugar and carbs. I would feel guilt and shame for binging, so I would “erase” these feelings by over-exercising. It became a silent vicious cycle.

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This kind of relationship with myself went on for YEARS. And you know what? Even when I did achieve my then “ideal body” by competing in a bodybuilding competition, this didn’t bring me the happiness I was seeking. Nothing inside changed mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. Only on the outside did my capsule change.

Then I made a choice. I took the courage to go on a self-healing journey: through therapy; through my own professional training in a mindfulness-based therapy called Hakomi (in which I’m Certified now) and through exploring Eastern practices such as yoga, acupuncture, and naturopathy. I developed new practices to be kinder to myself, to slow down, to be more present, to learn how to shift out of limiting core beliefs and patterns, and to live in a new way. I decided to think, feel, and behave in my relationship with my new best friend- me.

It’s about serving me, so that I can serve the world from a deeper, loving, and authentic place. When I show love to me, the world benefits. I can give back ten fold because I’m happy right here in my mind, heart and body. I have stopped abandoning myself and I have returned home to a peaceful and happy body.

The struggles I was experiencing in my relationship with myself were expressed in the areas of food and body. However, these struggles may come out in other areas such as being in relationships that are unhealthy and even abusive. It can be a love relationship, a business partnership, family ties, or even friendships. These struggles with self could be related to feeling deprived, chronically stressed, tired or anxious, feeling low self-worth, or having judgmental thoughts about others. Oftentimes, these struggles are unconsciously deep-rooted.

YOU can change the story of your life by first being open to exploring your relationship with you. You can start by reading a self-help book that appeals to you, or you can talk to a therapist who can help guide you. Invite curiosity, courage, and hope to be with you.

 

3 Easy Dinners Transform Into Perfect Lunch Leftovers

 
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By Kelly Keltner, naturallynourishedkid.com

Asian Grilled Steak

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Dinner: serve with brown rice and pan blistered snow peas.

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Leftovers for Lunch: serve atop a salad with mandarin oranges, shredded carrots and sweet bell peppers.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup tamari

  • ½ cup orange juice

  • ½ cup olive oil

  • ½ cup chopped green onions

  • ¼ cup crushed fresh ginger

  • ¼ cup chopped garlic

  • 1 tablespoon five spice powder

  • 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce (optional- increase amount for more heat)

  • ½ tsp toasted sesame seeds

  • 2 lbs flank steak

Directions:

  1. Whisk together tamari, juice, oil, green onions, ginger, garlic, five spice powder and chili garlic sauce in a small bowl.

  2. Place steak in a large glass dish and pour the marinade over the steak. Refrigerate for 4-8 hours, turning halfway through.

  3. Remove the steak and discard the marinade.

  4. Grill steak on high heat for 3-5 minutes on each side.

  5. Let rest for 5 minutes. Slice and serve. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

For snow peas: Wash and trim 4 cups of snow peas. Dry well with a paper towel. Heat a sauté pan on med-high heat. Add ½ tabs of cooking oil. Add snow peas and season with salt and pepper. Let sit for a couple of minutes. Give the pan a good shake and let sit for another couple of minutes. Continue to cook peas until they are blistered and soft, but still green and crunchy, about 8 minutes. Turn off the heat and squeeze lemon juice over the peas and give the pan another shake. Serve hot.


Italian Meatballs with Tomato Sauce

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Dinner: serve with spiralized zoodles (zucchini noodles) and top with fresh basil and chili flakes.

Leftovers for Lunch: serve with simple blanched steamed greens such as tender broccoli.

Ingredients:

For the sauce:

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  • 1 cup finely chopped onion

  • ½ cup chopped green pepper

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 tbs olive oil

  • 2 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes, undrained

  • 1 6-oz can tomato paste

  • 2 tbs fresh parsley

  • 1 tsp dried basil

  • 1 tsp dried oregano

  • ½ tsp marjoram

  • 1 tsp sugar

For the meatballs:

  • 1 large egg

  • ¾ cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs

  • ¼ cup finely chopped onion

  • 2 tbs finely chopped green pepper

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 12 oz ground beef

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a heavy pot over medium heat. Sauté onions, pepper and garlic until soft.

  2. Stir in diced tomatoes, tomato paste, 1/3 cup water, parsley, herbs, sugar, ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp black pepper.

  3. Bring sauce to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.

  4. Uncover and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings.

  5. While sauce simmers, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

  6. Combine all ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl and mix well.

  7. Shape mixture into 20-24 meatballs.

  8. Arrange meatballs on a baking pan and bake for about 20 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

  9. Stir meatballs into sauce. Serve over raw spiralized zucchini noodles. Garnish with fresh basil and chili flakes.

Mustard Grilled Chicken Breasts

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Dinner: serve with roasted rainbow carrots and wilted garlic baby spinach.

Leftovers for Lunch: make a wrap with sprouted whole grain tortilla and sautéed peppers and onions.

Ingredients:

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  • 2/3 cup chili powder

  • ½ cup sugar

  • 4 tbs salt

  • 4 tbs onion powder

  • 4 tbs garlic powder

  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper

  • 6 chicken breasts

  • ¼  cup yellow mustard

Directions:

  1. Combine the first 6 ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. This rub can be stored for several months in a cool and dry place.

  2. Brush chicken breasts with mustard and sprinkle rub on top. Repeat on the other side.

  3. Grill chicken until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

For roasted rainbow carrots: chop 5-8 carrots at a diagonal. Place carrots in a mixing bowl and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place carrots on a baking pan. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, turning halfway through. Remove and garnish with fresh parsley.

For garlic wilted baby spinach: Heat a sauté pan over medium heat. Add olive oil. Sauté 6 cups of baby spinach until just wilted. Turn off heat and stir in minced garlic and season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.

 

#GORGOGirl Leah Brouwers

When you are part of a movement, a gathering of compassionate, direct yet gentle, all-kinds-of-strength women equipping one another in more ways than technique under the bar, you accept the challenge and choose to leverage on this opportunity for permanent personal growth. I can’t wait go back and re-connect with the amazing women that collectively make Camp Gorgo!

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Get Over Yourself: How your Mindset is Affecting Your Results (and your life)

 

By Ali Ludovici

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Having had the honour of successfully coaching many clients in health and wellness, in addition to my own experience as an athlete and weight-loss journey, I can tell you with certainty, that mindset is the single most important element of success. If you don’t have the right mindset it doesn’t matter how credentialed your coach is, what exercises you are doing or what diet you are on, success will be elusive.

What you perceive and believe creates your reality. Though you may be predisposed to a positive or negative mindset, you can choose your perception (how you interpret the world) and your attitude (your beliefs and reactions/interactions).

In the world of health and wellness, your mindset will determine whether you succeed in achieving good health and peace with your body and food. You can purchase all the nice workout gear, fancy gym memberships, coaching, and diet plans you want - if you don’t have the right mindset, you won’t achieve what you desire. So what exactly is the right mindset?

Believe in yourself

Your body and mind are intimately connected; if you believe you can, your body will find a way. Disbelief leads to self-sabotage as you will create your reality to prove your mindset correct. Set your goal and believe in your ability to achieve it. You are stronger and more capable than you give yourself credit. Just because you can’t do something today, doesn’t mean you won’t be able to in the future. Keep working and believe in yourself. In time, you will amaze yourself with what you have accomplished.

Focus on the solution

Your health and wellness journey will certainly have its ups and downs. There will be nights you don’t have the energy for a butt-kicking workout and the days where you just don’t have time to pack a healthy lunch, don’t beat yourself up. No road to success is straightforward or easy - but all good things are worth the effort. In fact, having to put in some challenging work and overcome a few obstacles, makes you value your success that much more. You can choose to focus on the obstacles, or you can choose to focus on the solutions. “Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off your goal”, Henry Ford.

Be positive in your self-talk

Many of our limitations are created within our own mind. You tell ourselves you aren’t good enough, strong enough, fast enough. You create excuses and barriers where there needn't be any. What you tell yourself, your mind believes. Change the way you talk to yourself and you infinitely increase your ability to succeed. Tell yourself it is possible, believe it is possible and you will be amazed at what you can accomplish. Challenge yourself to replace any and every negative thought, with a positive (and realistic) alternative.

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Seek pleasure and balance

Despite the “hustle harder” and “no pain, no gain” mentality perpetuated by some fitness personalities, exercise and good nutrition can be pleasurable. You can enjoy both health and, athleticism while having a fulfilling and joyful personal life. While I do encourage every woman to lift weights for the physical and mental benefits, I also encourage them to seek exercise they find pleasurable. Whether you enjoy swimming, yoga, running, kickboxing or pole fitness, find something that gets you sweaty and smiling. When it comes to nutrition, trust the innate wisdom of your body. As long as you are predominantly eating whole foods (healthy fats, proteins and carbohydrates) with a plant-based focus, you are welcome  to enjoy a treat now and again. Balance, pleasure and respecting your body and its wisdom, is how you will discover a fulfilling healthy lifestyle.

Focus on Abundance

When trying to achieve a specific fitness goal, you will likely need to be more diligent with your nutrition and fitness routine. You can choose to focus on the lack; of calories, indulgent foods, and changes to your social life.  Or you can focus on the positive; your improved aesthetic, all the delicious nutrient dense foods, and the pleasure in seeing results. If you perceive your journey as a punishment, you will have a negative experience that will work against you and increase your odds of rebounding. Choosing to see the positive, you will have a more pleasurable journey and be more likely to create a healthy lifestyle with life-long reward.

Your mindset is the single greatest influencer on your reality. You can choose to have a pleasurable journey towards achieving your goals; you can choose to see yourself as a strong, capable woman; you can choose pleasure and balance. You can also choose to see the opposite. Your reality, your success, is in your control.


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Ali Ludovici is a blogger at Charm and Grit, writing about fitness, nutrition and strategies for extraordinary living. As a wellness and mindset coach, she specializes in helping women create healthy and fulfilling lives they love. Ali promotes respecting the innate wisdom of your body, doing exercise that gets you sweaty and smiling, as well as recognizing the power of your mindset to create your desired reality. She is well known for her tough love attitude, no excuses mindset and her supportive positivity. She is a natural bodybuilder, who also enjoys yoga, running and trying new forms of fitness. Ali is on a mission to inform, inspire and empower women to live extraordinary lives.