Change Isn’t Always Easy-Guest Post

Today I have a special treat for you.  Instead of my usual ramblings I wanted to introduce you to a friend and fellow runner.  Josh is part of MDA Team Momentum and although I have not yet met him in person and we have really only known each other a few months, I feel like we have been friends for a much longer time.  He has taken a very active role in our Team Momentum online community and has shown a passion for his marathon training as well as the Muscular Dystrophy Association.  The more I got to know this guy the more I felt he was the true definition of an inspiration.  Josh has been kind enough to share his story here.  A special thank you to Josh for his honesty and sincerity. 

Greetings Running on Healthy fans! I was asked by Coach Sarah to write a guest blog post to share some thoughts on creating a healthy lifestyle with you all. Sarah mentioned that she has been inspired by the changes I’ve made in my own life and thought maybe some of the techniques I used could be used by those of you seeking to do the same. I obviously agreed and I sincerely hope you find something in this article that you can use in your life.
The first thing that must be known is that no matter what circumstances life has dealt you, no matter what your current situation is or what your past contains; nothing can stop you from becoming the person you desire to be.
I personally had quite a bit to overcome and know firsthand how difficult it can be. I’m not saying what I had to overcome was more difficult than the challenges you face, but just so you know where I’m coming from, allow me to share just a little bit of my past. I’m not going to get too in-depth here or share everything, but I think you’ll get an idea of the life I was living prior to making the changes I have. So just to sum it up… I was raised in a single parent household by my father who had (and still does have) a very severe case of alcoholism. As a child there are a lot of ways that can affect you. I hope none of you know how terrible it can be. I myself became an alcoholic for years, avoiding death by toxicity or accident on a very consistent basis. For the past 10 years I’ve been diagnosed clinically severely depressed including diagnoses of social anxiety and agoraphobia. I married my wonderful wife 3 years ago, but prior to that I was a single father of a child with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. All of these circumstances combined with many others I have not listed led me down a very dark path. I was without optimism, enjoyment of life, or any respect for myself or my body. As a result I became brutally out of shape. At 5 feet 9 inches tall, I weighed in at 233 pounds. Needless to say I was headed in a terrible direction.

I’m not ashamed to share details of my past because it’s made me who I am today. Today I am an entirely different person. I am a person that most people I used to associate with no longer recognize. The change has not only been physical, but also mental. I have not drank alcohol in about 3 years, lost 70 pounds, eat an extremely clean diet, exercise daily, earned the 4th highest ranking belt in combat hapkido, study dietetics in the University of Wisconsin system, obtained my certification as a personal trainer from the National Academy of Sports Medicine, and most importantly I LOVE LIFE!
Change isn’t always easy. In fact, I’d suggest that in most cases it begins as a difficult process. I can’t tell you how many times I attempted to change and live a healthy life only to slip up and end up back in my old ways. In my opinion there are 3 keys to successful change. The most important is to find your motivation. My motivation was to be a great father to my children and set a respectable example for them to live by. I also wanted to be healthy for them throughout life and do my best to live a long one so I could be there for them as long as possible. There are many suitable motivators and each person has their own unique values that drive them. The important thing is to find what it is and use it to propel you toward greatness. Next, set specific goals for yourself both long and short term. It’s always great to get short term wins to boost confidence and keep building you up as you work toward your long term goals. When I was trying to lose weight (body fat specifically), I set a long term goal to reach about 185 pounds. I figured that would put me at about 13% body fat. In order to achieve that I started off by trying to lose 15 pounds the first month and typically 5-10 pounds per month thereafter. You can even break that down to about 2 pounds per week. This strategy built up my confidence and kept me focused on short term goals which led to long term success. Eventually I dropped my weight to 160 pounds and 10% body fat. I’m still working on losing nonfunctional mass and becoming as physically fit as I possibly can. Finally, you need to understand that change takes time. No matter how many marketers try to sell you short cuts based on claims of quick success, you must be certain that the only path to true success is intelligent strategy, performed rigorously and with a heart of perseverance. You can’t go from eating fast food, not exercising and having a negative outlook on life to eating the perfect diet, running a marathon, and feeling amazing. By implementing short term goals as suggested before, you will also understand that change doesn’t happen instantly. If your diet is unhealthy, you may want to start by eating 75% healthy, 25% whatever you want, and not adjusting exercise or anything else in your life. Once you feel confident in the changes you’ve made you can progress further and incorporate more change.
Most importantly, and this applies to all aspects of life, don’t ever give up. If you have a setback, consider it a learning experience and use it to move forward. Anyone can make drastic changes in their life. I truly believe that 100%. In fact, if you’d like any help implementing a healthy lifestyle or overcoming a challenge in your life, please feel free to send me an email. I can be reached at I am more than happy to help in any way I can.


Finally, I’d like to take a moment to thank Sarah for taking the time to work with Team Momentum. Team Momentum has been organized by the Muscular Dystrophy Association to raise money to help those with neuromuscular disease. I mentioned earlier that my son has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. I am running in my first marathon, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, this October as part of Team Momentum in honor of my son. Coach Sarah has given an enormous amount of guidance to our team and to me personally. I consider it an honor to work with her and appreciate her as someone I can call my friend. We are fortunate that she shares her thoughts and advice with all of us in this great blog.

Team Momentum Logos-04
Thank you to all the Running on Healthy readers. I hope you’ve found this article useful and appreciate you taking the time to read it. If you feel inclined to help support Team Momentum and the MDA with a tax deductible donation, my personal donation page can be found at:
Live Healthy, Feel Great, Love Life!
Take care,

Blessed-The Gratitude Edition

Wow this summer has been a crazy whirlwind.  I have barely had a chance to sit down and relax and there are just so many amazing things going on that I need to take a moment to acknowledge a lot of them.

Yesterday it came across my radar that listed me as one of their 28 Great Running Coaches from the Great Lakes Area .  I was absolutely shocked to see this.  Thanks ekneewalker!

On top of that I recently noticed that I have reached the 1,000 follower point on this blog.  Holy smokes!  I started this blog back in December as a way to help and encourage runners of all levels to get started and keep it going.  I have made so many great friends thanks to this special place and I have learned an awful lot in the past few months.  I never imagined that it would take off like it has.

I also was recently nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger award by Amy at Fitness Meets Frosting and Kathryn St. John-Shin at her blog.  Thank you both.  I haven’t forgotten.  I have been without a decent internet connection for the past few weeks and admittedly I need to figure out 7 things you guys don’t know about me.  Apparently I am a pretty open book!


Last week when I was up in Michigan I got roped into a Facebook challenge.  I normally don’t do these and usually would just ignore them but this was a really great one and I was honored with the challenge by a truly inspiring member of our MDA Team Momentum.  So I took the bait and joined in on the gratitude challenge.  Since I am in the spirit of talking about everything I am so grateful for today I wanted to share what I posted on Facebook.  The idea of the challenge is to post three things you are grateful for each day for five days.  I actually had a hard time finding 15 things; not because I don’t have 15 things to be grateful for but instead because I had a hard time narrowing it down.

1. My husband.  We have been married for almost a year (next week!) and it has been the best year of my life.  We have had some really awesome and some very difficult times this year.  But we stuck together as we always have and had an amazing time.  He is my best friend and biggest supporter.  When I decided to start a blog his eyes about popped out of his head in surprise, but he has been my #1 supporter and editor-in-chief.

2.  I am so grateful for my hometown of Kalkaska, MI.  You probably have never heard of it because it is pretty tiny.  But it is a perfect place to grow up.  I got to ride my bike everywhere, climb trees, hunt and fish, and have a pretty ideal childhood.  I knew every single person in my graduating class and I am proud to say that I still keep in touch with a great many of them.

3.  I am truly lucky to work with children.  They make me laugh, take me by surprise on a daily basis and keep me young at heart.  Not many people get to go to work most days and “play.”

I have the best job ever!

I have the best job ever!

4.  Life wouldn’t be as special as it is for me today if it didn’t work out differently from what I had originally planned.  After I graduated from college I passed up a scholarship to go to law school and instead kept teaching skating and sports classes because I had a “feeling.” I wouldn’t be living the awesome life I am now had I stuck to what I thought I had to do.  Can you imagine how dull this blog would be if it was about legal advice instead of how to properly lube your thighs to keep them from chafing during your marathon?!

5, 6, 7: Family.  I am so blessed to have such supportive parents.  They are always helping us out, including doing ridiculous manual labor every time we visit our lake house.  On top of that I couldn’t be luckier to have a husband with such a wonderful family.  They have all welcomed me with open arms into their family and I have always felt like a part of them.  But wait, it gets better!  I have four nieces and nephews who make life so special.  What a trio!

8.  This year took an incredible turn for the best when I got the opportunity to work with MDA Team Momentum.  I have had the chance to work with so many athletes this summer as they train for various full and half marathons.  This charity holds a very special place in my heart.

Team Momentum

9.  I am so in love with Chicago.  This city is absolutely beautiful and has so much to offer.  I love the people, the food, and the places.  If only we could do something about the winter……

10.  Running.  It has given me so much confidence and patience with myself.  Everyday is a new adventure.  I can’t wait to see where it continues to take me.

11. Food.  One thing I love is food.  I can eat the heck out of just about anything, especially dessert.  I avoid pizza because I consume embarrassing amounts when I get near it.  And with running….well the two are a match made in heaven.  #rungry

12.  Friends.  What can I say?  I am a super lucky girl.  I have great friends (especially girl friends) spread across the country; east coast, west coast, and all over the Midwest.  Wherever I go, I think I am covered.

13.  Faith.  This year has been a true testament to the power faith can have.  Whenever I am uncertain of where I am going or what will happen, it has kept me moving forward knowing that I can lean on my faith.

14.  Skating.  There was a time when my life was focused only on skating.  I couldn’t fathom a time when it wouldn’t be a part of me.  Today I am not on the ice like I used to be but it shaped who I am, took me to some incredible places, and I got to meet some very special people.  For some reason though it seems that I will never come to a point in my life where changing clothes in the bathroom of an ice rink isn’t out of the norm.  In fact, I did it about 10 times in the past two weeks in two separate states!

15.  I couldn’t forget about this blog and my readers.  All of you have at some point posted a thoughtful comment or sent a compliment my way that has made me smile or burst out laughing.  You have filled my world with new knowledge and had me cracking up with your silly antics.  Thank you!

Let’s keep the gratitude going and pass it along.



Simple Grilled Pork Chops

Hooray!  Summer came back through Chicago yesterday.  I had a miserable run in the morning heat, but I was happy to take it.  I enjoyed feeling the sweat again.  Summer in the Midwest always seems so short lived and I want to enjoy every possible moment.

After being in Wisconsin for a week and then Michigan the following week we have been suffering from eating out too much.  On Sunday we both agreed that our bodies need some home cooked and healthy meals for awhile.  So we sat down and wrote out a grocery list.  One of the first things we decided was that we wanted to start grilling again every night.

Typically when we grill we stick with the usual healthy fare, chicken breasts.  But we wanted to get out of our grilling rut so we went back to an old favorite that we sort of forgot about.

Somehow pork chops tend to fall off of people’s radar.  I always thought it was unhealthy but I couldn’t have been more wrong.  A 4 ounce serving of lean pork chops comes in at about 4 grams of fat and less than 140 calories.  It is packed full of protein as well as Vitamin B, Potassium and Zinc.  All of this makes pork a rather light meat as long as you prepare it in a healthy way.  In fact, it is just about as lean as a boneless, skinless chicken breast.


These spice rubbed pork chops pack a lot of flavor without adding in any breading or requiring other unhealthy preparations.  The rub has a touch of brown sugar in it which gives the chops a nice caramelization whether you do them on the grill or right on the stove top.  Put these on top of a salad or pair with some veggie sides and you have a very easy weeknight meal.

Spice Rubbed Pork Chops:



2 Pork chops

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1-2 teaspoons garlic salt

1 teaspoon chili powder (more or less to taste)

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)

Optional: cumin, turmeric (teaspoons each)


Heat grill or grill pan.  Combine sugar and spices and rub over pork chops on both sides.  Cook meat on grill or pan for about 5 minutes each side (times vary based on thickness of meat) or until thoroughly cooked.  Enjoy!

Keep in mind that the above directions will give you a mild flavored seasoning.  If you prefer a spicier kick you can add more chili powder or any other ingredient.  The combination of the spices with the sweetness of the brown sugar is so delicious.  And the best part is you can easily have this dinner prepared and on the table in under 30 minutes.

Paired with a cheese platter.  Hey, we were rungry!

Paired with a cheese platter. Hey, we were rungry!


It’s Not You, It’s My Schedule

If you are training for a fall marathon you may have thought this a few times so far.  We have reached that point where training is starting to really get heavy.  The mileage is stacking up and your weekend long runs are starting to get into the double digits.

This past weekend I had a few different athletes ask me what they should do about the long run predicament. Some of them were going on vacation, others had schedule commitments, and some just weren’t sure how to fit it all in.

What I had to say left them shocked…..It’s okay to break up the occasional long run.


Now don’t get all excited and start thinking you are going to split every long training run in half.  But it really is okay to divide them when you must and sometimes you can reap benefits from this change.

If you need to break your runs in half or other proportions it won’t hurt your training.  In fact it can be very beneficial for many athletes.  You can get many of the same results you would from one singular long run by doing two a days.  Many coaches are now using these as part of their training plans for certain athletes and are finding great results.

If you are prone to injury or are dealing with one this can allow you to take some of the physical stress off of your body that comes with doing one big distance run.  You can do part of your long run in the morning and then take some time to rest and recover before doing the rest later in the day.  Taking some time to stretch, ice, or kick your feet up might take some of the additional strain off of your body.  When you are injured, a 3 hour long run might be too much for your body to handle all at once.

If you run at a slower pace this can be a great way to take away some of the strain from your feet and legs.  Running paces of 11:00 minute miles or slower will have you running for several hours during your longer training runs.  At some point you will go past the point of receiving the benefits of the long training run.  For example, you are training your body to handle more time on your feet as well as storing glycogen and using it more efficiently.  After a certain time period you reach a threshold.  Running for over 3 hours at a time might not continue to give you the same benefits you are looking for.  This would be an okay time to break your run in half without losing the benefits you are looking for.

Sometimes divvying the run up can help you to mentally deal with it better.  The idea of running 15 miles for the first time has you scared to death?  Perhaps a one time 8 mile run in the morning and a 7 mile run in the evening might help you get through that mental road block.  If it gets you through it, then great!BreakUp2

This is also a great way to handle long distance runs during the days of high heat and humidity.  Instead of stressing your body in one long bout, you will get the same rewards by doing one in the early morning and one in the late evening.  This will also help keep you avoid heat illnesses.  And while you are at it, live like a professional runner and take a nap in between!

Before you set out and do this you have to be really honest with yourself.  Are you the kind of person that will wake up early for a 16 mile day, put in 10 in the morning and still get out there and finish 6 later?  Sometimes it sounds good the night before, but after you get that morning run in and continue with the day’s activities, it can be pretty easy to find excuses for not doing the second run.  Know ahead of time that it will be mentally and physically hard to get started again.

If you are looking to break a four hour marathon pace this probably isn’t the most ideal thing to do and I wouldn’t recommend doing it more than once or twice during your training.  That being said, I had a horrible stomach virus during my own marathon training.  I tried doing a 17 mile run on a 90ºF day and after 5 miles I was in tears.  We were on the road that weekend and I went back to the hotel and took a nap.  I woke up still feeling pretty awful but hit the treadmill in the air conditioned gym and got my remaining 12 miles in later that evening.  If anything it helped me on a mental level to not fret about having missed a long run near the end of my training.

I strongly discourage athletes from doing this for their longest runs unless they do not have a time goal and are only concerned with finishing or it is an absolute must.  I personally think it is a bad idea to break up a 17, 18, 20, or 22 mile run unless you really need to.  If however, you need to break up a shorter long distance run (10-15 miles), I say go ahead.  Truthfully this has less to do with physical gains and a lot more to do with your psychological mindset.  I would hate for anyone to get to the start line on race day and think, “Oh crap I never ran that 20 miler straight through, I don’t know if I can do this.”  Self doubt will mess with you more on race day than just about anything else.

Marathon and all distance running is a major mental battle.  You don’t want to get to the race and start questioning your training.  If at times your schedule doesn’t permit getting all of those runs in at once, breaking them up will help you feel a lot better about your own preparedness and still give you the physical benefits.

The best rule is, stick to your plan as best you can.  If you need to accommodate in different ways go for it.  The more you can get the mileage in, the better you will feel on race day.  We all are adults here and things come along that keep us from adhering 100% to our plans.  Making it work for you will allow you to feel confident and prepared come race day.


Sometimes It Comes Back Around

Yesterday morning I was catching up on my blog reading and I came across a great post from one of my favorite bloggers Michael Anderson  at Running Around The Bend titled “Can’t We All Just Get Along?”  He wrote about finding a lot of negativity and people judging others on the web and especially in blogs.

After I finished my morning coffee I set off on a super hilly 10 mile run with my husband.  We chatted about this and I explained a bit more in depth how this blog post came to be in the first place.  We had a really thoughtful discussion about this until the run got too hard and we finished the last few miles just grunting, but the post was spinning in my head the entire time.

To be honest, I was a little bit surprised only because I feel like I have filled my blog world with some incredibly positive people.  I don’t really follow blogs that tend to whine or take negative spins.  On the other hand I am super lucky to have really thoughtful and kind followers who are always leaving positive feedback and encouraging me along my journey.

However, I do completely agree that there is a general attitude of negativity these days and people often get caught up in the belief that their way is the correct and only way.  Whether it is how you approach your fitness or diet routine or especially the way many view religion or politics there tends to be a “my way or the highway” attitude.  People can’t fathom why others don’t agree with their personal beliefs and tend to assume that those on the other side are simply just “wrong.”

After our run we went to a local diner just down the road from our lake house.  This place makes everything from scratch and is known for their various baked breads.  When we walked in it was packed full of locals on their lunch hour and lake house families who were up visiting for the week.

Shirley’s only has about 10 booths, a few seats at the counter, and one big round table in the back.  When we came in we got the last booth and two gentlemen were eating at the table in the back.  After we ordered I noticed a family walk in; a husband and wife, three children and a grandfather.  They were informed that there would be a wait unless they wanted to eat at the counter.  The parents kindly said not to worry they would just wait.

The gentlemen in the back table were just starting to eat their meal.  But I overheard one man remark to the other that they should move so the family could sit down.  Without a word, they picked up their meals, moved them over to the counter and told the waitress to give the table to the family.

If that was how the meal ended I would have been thrilled but the greatness keeps going.


After the family sat down my husband leaned in an told me that the dad got up and very discreetly pulled the waitress over.  He told her to please put the men’s checks on his bill.

I started to tear up at this really thoughtful act of kindness.  I was speechless.  And the greatness kept on going….

I remarked to my husband that it was a wonderful lesson for his kids to learn, that you can do something nice for another person as an act of gratitude.  But my husband said that the kids didn’t know because he did it so quietly.  The dad did it so discreetly, nobody noticed except my kindhearted husband.

When the men went to pay their bill the waitress informed them that it had been taken care of.  They were shocked and waited around to thank the family.  He stopped and said, “Thank you for taking care of our meal.  You really didn’t need to do that.”  The father responded and said, “It was our pleasure, you didn’t need to move.  Sometimes it comes back around.”

That quote has me tearing up again.  Sometimes it does come back around.  For every annoying thing that has come your way, there is that one amazing thing a friend or a stranger has done, even a simple act like waiting to open a door for you.  So instead of sitting around waiting to see something great happen, do something great for someone else.  Sometimes it comes back around.



We survived the epic dock day!    In the past 48 hours we have managed to drive to Michigan, paint a full room, purchase a dock, load a dock, remove former dock, put the new dock in, and then disassemble the old dock.  The good news is, we are all still talking to each other and hopefully we can spend a little bit of time today enjoying our house.

I had some requests to share the changes with you and I don’t want to disappoint.

First there was the entry room that despite having dark paneling was our last priority on the house because it was the lightest of the paneling in the entire house.  Looking at the before and after pictures you would never believe that.  I can’t believe how dark the room used to look.  We also replaced the sliding glass door on the room the last time we were up here because the other one was pretty crappy and had some gaps in it.  Last year was the summer of garden snakes making annoying entrances into our entry room.  Eek!  Not only are they creepy but I find them to be rather rude, showing up uninvited like that.



Yesterday we drove over to another lake about 10 minutes from our house to retrieve our “new to us” dock.  There was only one slight problem.  The house sat up high on a hill on a very narrow lot.  There was no way to carry the pieces of dock up to the car.

So my husband and dad had to float each piece over to a neighbor’s house that was kind enough to let us use their much more manageable stairs.  It was pretty funny to watch the process.  However, the woman who sold us the dock told us that each piece weighed only 125 pounds and given the fact that four of us struggled to carry one piece as a team, I am going to go ahead and say she lied or at least stretched the truth….a lot!


As we were walking back and forth carrying pieces of the dock to the truck I kept noticing a very cool rock each time I passed by.  Just as we were about to leave I stopped to pick it up.  I had thought it looked very familiar and after holding it, examining it’s shape and uniformity we were all convinced it was an arrowhead.  I kept it, because it was really too cool to leave behind.  Did I mention I am a bit of a Michigan history dork?


Once we were finally home the day continued with a silly adult version of super heavy Legos.  Thanks to my husband and parents, we have a fantastic final product.


Night and day from this before pic!

Night and day from this before pic!

On top of that I even managed to get a 7 mile run in yesterday morning.  A funny thing happened on my run.  As I passed a house I swore I saw a bear and slowed down to a walk.  Then I stopped and kept leaning in different directions to see what it was.  Finally I realized that it was a fake bear used as a lawn decoration.  It has been so long since I have been able to run around and really enjoy our house up here.  Somehow I forgot that we live on Bear Lake and everyone has bear everything on their lawns.  Let’s just say I was rather jumpy the entire run!

You Can Go Home Again- And Run

Well we are back up in the Upper part of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan again and that means more spotty internet and even more painting of our lake house.  Even better is that I decided to do a random search on Craigslist before we left and someone only 10 minutes from our lake house is selling their dock and we were in the market for a new one.  So that means today is dock retrieval, removal of the old one and installation of the new one.  It is going to be a long day and I am anticipating some serious hiccups, because that’s how projects seem to go.

Yesterday we painted our large entry room.  When we moved into this house 3 summers ago everything was covered in shag carpet and dark wood paneling.  We have since redone all of the floors and painted every room except for the entry.  So we spent the whole day painting and redecorating.  I swear, you never stop painting a house.  I already have other ideas running through my head (and I hope my husband doesn’t read this today).

We live in a very hilly area with curvy roads.  This makes for some rough running and since yesterday was speed training day we headed into town.

I grew up in a very small town in Michigan and when I was younger all I dreamed about was moving away to a city.  When I was 14 I moved to Indianapolis to train for figure skating and in college I took off to New York City.  Now we split our time between Chicago and New York so I see plenty of city life.

As I have gotten older though I have a much better appreciation for the way I grew up.  I got to climb trees in the woods and ride my bike everywhere without a single worry.  I knew everyone in my graduating class and when I go to the grocery store I almost always run into someone I know.

I took the opportunity yesterday to run around town.  It felt like a flood of memories and not just because it was pouring during the entire run.

I started out at the local ice rink where I taught skating when I first moved back home.  Then I ran past the small house we lived in until I was four.  It was here that I stopped in front of my high school and took a picture with our mascot, The Blazer.


Go Blazers!

Go Blazers!

I ran past the nursing home where my grandmother spent the last few years of her life.  She passed away this spring and it brought back a lot of memories of lunches with her and my mom in the dining hall.

I ran down a desolate road where I did my first 2 mile run with the freshman track team.  I remember hating it back then and my season was short lived.  This time I ran that road twice and felt fantastic.

After I completed one loop I still had another 3 miles that I wanted to get in so I ran back into “downtown” to the main road.  I stopped in front of the trout and did a selfie.  Our town is home to the National Trout Festival every spring on the opening weekend of trout fishing season.  Despite the fact that very few people really know where I grew up, when I mention that it is the town with the big trout that you drive past, they know exactly what I am talking about.


This also happens to be where the starting line was for my very first 5k.  I think I was 9 years old.  The run has been done as a memorial for a boy who grew up down the street from us and later for his father as well.  They were both outstanding runners.

I ended up back at the local rink and for about the 10th time in the last week in various rinks I changed clothes there.  It made me realize that there is a very good chance that I will never get to a point in my life where changing clothes in the rink bathroom isn’t some sort of normal routine for me.

Given my run down memory lane, it was just about the perfect ending.