Monthly Archives: May 2015

Vegan For a Week

I never thought I would ever say these 3 words…  The 3 words that stop people in their tracks, cause the heart to skip a beat, and make someone take a double take.   I’M A VEGAN.  You heard me!  Well, for at least a week I’ve been able to say those words and they were actually the truth.  In fact, they still are!


I had been traveling for a week straight across the country from Florida to California and from very south to very north.  I decided when I came back that it was time to change it up and do a reset.  So, my friend and right hand gal, Danielle Bertiger has recently gotten her Holistic Health Coach certification, so I said – okay, let’s do this!  And I did!  I committed to a week of vegan eating. (*Note that she isn’t a vegan or an only vegan coach AT ALL – this is just her special cleanup program!  Check it out on her blog – Uncaged Cuisine.) Now, mind you – I still had my coffee, but no meat, no dairy, no unnatural sugar, no animal products.

Eating vegan this week opened my eyes to a lot things…  First of all, through Danielle’s “cleanup” I got some GREAT new recipes!  I can use these and keep them vegan/vegetarian or even add meat sometimes.  I also discovered some amazing new products!  Danielle turned me onto Vega protein, pre-workout, nuts, and bars.  I’m a fan.  But NOT of the energy gel – eeewwwwww.  That has been the only thing that I didn’t really love.  Let’s be honest – I hated it.  Haha!  You really don’t realize how great all natural food can be until you seriously give it a chance.

FullSizeRender-44Second, I realized that I eat too much.  I went ahead and wrote everything down.  I’ve been holding extra lbs for awhile now, and I think it’s just because I’m eating and eating and eating.  I spend most of my days training other people and not myself much anymore, so what I eat is super important, and this was a little wakeup call for me.

Third…  and I find this the most interesting….  If you know me, you know I have a little Quest bar problem.  Seriously, I was eating 2-5 a day. Not kidding.  Problem much?  YES.  So, yesterday I came back from a run and was starved and really didn’t have much in the house.  I grabbed my favorite Quest bar…  took 2 bites and threw the rest out!!!  It tasted so processed and icky to me!!  So…I find it interesting that after a week my tastebuds are still wanting natural stuff.

Fourth – we’ve been doing a team challenge at Shed, and my times have not been that great… However, this week I KILLED it and beat my best time by 2 MINUTES!!!!!!  I texted Danielle immediately and was like – maybe this IS actually good for you!  🙂  I’ve decided to give it another week and see what happens this week and then I’ll be truly convinced.  You can make some amazing vegan food…desserts and all.  Here are some Chocolate Avocado Protein Truffles.  (This recipe will be up SOON…do not worry!)

IMG_3492 Here’s another little yummy…  Black Bean Chocolate Protein Brownie Bars.  I added in freeze dried blueberries and pistachios!  These were a HIT with all who tried one.


Am I going to stay a vegan?  Doubtful.  I’m not a huge fan of restricting, so if I want something, I’ll have it.  All in moderation is my philosophy, but trying something new is a good thing.  Who knows – if my back keeps from hurting and I kill my time again next week – I may have to think seriously about keeping this going.  Time will tell…

So, maybe you need a change-up or a reset.  There’s a way to do it, so if you’re thinking of doing a detox or a cleanse, check with a professional before jumping in, otherwise you’ll be regretting it in a big way.  Danielle is a great person to contact to get started on nutrition info – check out her blog and you can contact her for more information from there – Uncaged Cuisine.

Here is one of Danielle’s recipes – “Pad Thai”…OMG. I could eat this every day…


And another one of mine that will be up soon – Roasted Cauliflower, Sweet Potato and Kale Salad..




So, if you’re thinking of changing things up – give it a go!  Try it and you might learn something new about yourself, about what you like and don’t like, and it might just inspire you to do a few things different!  Happy clean eating!






Roasted Cauliflower Steak and Kale Sprouts




This. Was. Delicious!!!!!!!!!!!!  Such a simple, clean, easy recipe that’s guaranteed to rock people’s socks off!  My socks are literally still not on because this was so good.

I discovered kale sprouts at Trader Joe’s and was so intrigued, I had to get them.  They are a hybrid between kale and brussels sprouts.  They cook WAY faster than brussels, and I actually like them as much and probably even better!  You have to keep an eye on them because they will overcook, but giving them a little crisp will really give them an extra yummy taste.  For a little extra awesomeness, fry up an egg and top them off!

The cauliflower was a whole new level, and so very simple.  I found this recipe on Allrecipes, and really wouldn’t change a thing.  Now, go make this and astound whoever you cook it for with how amazing cauliflower can be!

Roasted Cauliflower Steak

  • 1 large head cauliflower, sliced lengthwise through the core into 4 ‘steaks
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place cauliflower steaks on the prepared baking sheet.
  3. Whisk olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper together in a bowl. Brush 1/2 of the olive oil mixture over the tops of the cauliflower steaks.
  4. Roast cauliflower steaks in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Gently turn over each steak and brush with remaining olive oil mixture. Continue roasting until tender and golden, 15 to 20 minutes more.

Kale Sprouts

Cook according to the bag…  All I do is roast with olive oil and lemon pepper and boom – it’s done!!  Top with a fried egg or eat as is.


Vegan Black Bean Chocolate Protein Brownie Bars




I’ve been doing a week of vegan eating with my friend and newly certified Holistic Health Coach – Danielle Bertiger’s Uncaged Cuisine Cleanup!  It’s really opened my eyes to vegan eating and how purely GREAT all natural food can be!  Check out the link for more info on her and what she’s up to. The cleanup is a great place to start, and she has some recipes that are the

Danielle is not a chocolate lover (weird, right?!) 🙂 so I had to venture out on my own into the world of vegan chocolate land.  I went there, and it is a beautiful land, I must say!  I wasn’t in the least bit disappointed.  I shared these babies with a few friends, and they might be as obsessed as I am with these things!

So, vegan or not, you should make these and astound your family and friends at how black beans can be so wonderful!  I adapted this recipe to use no sweeteners and added in a few things from Chocolate Covered Katie’s blog!


  • 1 15-oz can, drained and rinsed very well
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 7 tbsp chocolate protein powder – I like Vega Chocolate
  • A dash of salt
  • 2-4 dates pitted (depending on how sweet you want it)
  • 3 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pistachios
  • freeze-dried blueberries


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Combine all ingredients except pistachios and blueberries in a high-quality food processor, and blend until absolutely and completely smooth. (A blender works if you absolutely must, but the texture and taste will be much better in a food processor.)
  3. Stir in your additions.
  4. Pour into a greased 8×8 square pan. Cook the homemade chocolate protein bars 16 minutes. They will still look underdone when you take them from the oven, but this is okay.
  5. You may want to taste them out of the oven – they are very brownie-esque, and good!  To make these into chilled bars – refrigerate overnight. The bars will have firmed up and are now ready to cut and eat. Store leftovers in the refrigerator. Makes about 10 bars.


Client Spotlight – Dawn Hesse – A True OVERCOMER


I don’t even know where to begin about this amazing woman.  I met Dawn at Barry’s Bootcamp, and I remember her mostly saying “I’m scurrrred” every time she would see me.  (Apparently I have a reputation of being a tough trainer…WHAT?!  Who?!  Me????  🙂 ).  But Dawn eventually faced her fear of me and joined a summer team that we did, and she realized I’m not as bad as she’d heard.  🙂

A little while down the road, I got an email from Dawn asking about training, so I started working with her one on one in addition to all of her classes that she attends. First of all – Dawn deserves 100% of the credit for her transformation.  I told her from the beginning – Dawn, all you have to do is get your eating right, and you’ll be SET.  And that is exactly what she did that really led to her seeing results.  She has always worked out SO hard, and I knew that once she got her eating in line, she would shine.  She started on Beachbody’s 21 Day Fix and it was the thing that she needed to teach her portion size, what and how much she should be eating daily.  This worked for her, for some it’s totally different, but this was a match made in heaven!

Dawn works out harder than almost anyone I know, lifts heavier, doesn’t complain, and always has a goal.  She is one of the most giving, loving, incredible people that I have ever crossed paths with.  I’ve had the pleasure of working with her weekly, going skydiving with her, going to the beach with her, Mike and his family, watching her crush goals, and recently becoming ENGAGED in Italy!!!!  dawn1

To me, Dawn is a HUGE supporter and encourager of all that I do and have done, and I couldn’t be more blessed to call her a friend and a client.  People like her keep me going and keep me believing that I’m on the right path.  Dawn, from the bottom of my heart – thank you.

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All of this awesomeness aside – most people don’t know her STORY, which makes her even more amazing.  You would look at Dawn and think she’s pretty perfect, and she is!  But Dawn has battled a syndrome and insecurity for most of her life…  Everyone who knows Dawn thinks she’s the best, but if you haven’t heard her story – take a few minutes to read it and then you’ll realize what an absolutely incredible woman she truly is!  She proves hands down that you can do ANYTHING you want, no matter what.


Dawn, you are a huge inspiration to me, and I am so thankful for you.  I don’t think you realize how amazing you really are.  I wish you all of the happiness and joy, and the best life ahead with your FIANCE!!  I’m so grateful to be a part of your journey.  I love you FRIEND!!!

Here is Dawn’s story.  I asked her questions, and her answers are below…

Tell me your story…  when/how you realized you were “different.”  What’s the name of your condition and how did you overcome that? 

I knew I was different than all the other girls at a very young age, middle school really.  I was a skinny scrawny girl who had no need or use for a bra.  All my other friends were going in for their first bra and I had to pretend I was to.  Pretend, from that moment on I had to “pretend” a lot, basically until I was 33 I had to pretend to fit in, pretend I needed a bra, pretend I was tough ( I had a tough exterior and soft interior since I was 9) pretend I had confidence, pretend pretend pretend, always being something I wasn’t.  I wasn’t talkative, confident, pretty, athletic none of the above, I couldn’t be, I had a ‘condition” that limited me.  I didn’t know until I was 33 that I had “Poland Syndrome” all I knew was that in gym class when we had to change clothes I was always late, I would purposely be late so no one would see me change into my gym uniform so they wouldn’t “see” me and my deformity.  At this time I was very aware that I had well basically a hole in my chest, it was concave on my left side, I had no need for a bra so again I had to pretend and wear a bra.  As I grew into high school, my desire was to join the swim team, so I did.  the moment I had to put on the team swim suit during our first practice one of the girls said why are you flat on one side, I quit the swim team the next day because I just couldn’t be made fun of.  so that was the end of sports for me.  I never tried out for anything again.  

Because of my deformity I was a shy quiet girl with no self esteem or confidence and certainly no boyfriends.  I breezed thru high school and college with my brains, focused on my studies and that was it, everyday wishing and hoping I could be like other girls, wear pretty dresses, wear a swimsuit and go to the pool like the other kids but I just couldn’t, I was deformed so I put my nose in books and that’s what I was good at, I had few romantic encounters simply out of fear of rejection because I was different.  Then, years later after finally getting a prosthetic device so that I could be somewhat normal and gain a sense of mediocre confidence, I decided to join a group of colleagues at the pool one evening at a work function.  No-one knew I was different, I had years of practice at pretending I was normal.  I jumped in the pool and when I cam up my boss I had my prosthesis in his hand waving it yelling and laughing “someone just lost their boob”  he had no idea it had come from me, I was devastated!!!!!!

He tossed it out of the pool and everyone just laughed having no idea where it came from.  All I could think about was A) how much it cost me and B) how without that prosthesis my clothes for the meeting wouldn’t fit right, I would be lopsided and it would be very noticeable.  I had to find it.  SO I got up in the middle of the night and searched high and low until I found where he had tossed it.  While it was not in the best of shape at least I could fill my bra and my business suit would look normal.  This was the lowest point in my life.  up until this pint, knowing that I had no chance of a romantic relationship, and because of my deformity, food had become my closest friend.  Exercise, what’s that? Food! it made me happy, so I thought…

After the incident at the pool I thought to myself, this is ridiculous.  I am a 30 year old professional woman, I can afford to do something about this.  I so badly wanted to be pretty, wear a swim suit, a spaghetti strap dress or a strapless dress, things I could never wear in fear of revealing my deformity.  SO I called up my best friend, the only one who ever knew anything at all about me, yet she had never seen my deformity, I asked her to meet me at the drs office and see about getting an implant.  I will never forget that day, I was so scared to take off my top, keep in mind I was 30 and no-one had ever seen me naked or topless.  The Dr immediately looked at me and said “Wow, you have Poland syndrome” I said really? I have a syndrome? You mean there’s an explanation for what I have?  I was so excited!!!  I also remember him saying he thought I had one of the most severe cases/deformities that he had ever seen but yes I could be fixed.  I was so happy I could be fixed, and I could finally have a chance to be normal like other girls.

Now, because I was missing nearly all of my chest muscles I couldn’t have a regular implant.  I had to have my abdominal muscles pulled up like a rope wrapped in a circle where they would then attach a special type of implant, one that is not even FDA approved and I now would be a part of a 10 year case study with the FDA to study this type of procedure.  Most women who have implants are able to go in under the muscle, well, I didn’t have a muscle.  At the time, only 2 doctors in the US will even perform this type of implant surgery.  I followed thru and did it.  In the mean time I joined a gym hear in Nashville, ran my first ever race, (a girl who was never picked to be on a team in grade school or had an athletic bone in her body mainly out of fear.  Fear and pretending was what I knew, but I also knew deep down inside I was special I just wasn’t able to be me, something kept me back, it was the fear of being different.)

I lost 23 pounds before I had my reconstructive surgery. I had my surgery in September of 2007 and for the first time in my life I felt as though I was on top of the world, I could finally be the person I always knew I could be.  for the first time I truly felt beautiful, sexy, smart, confident, desirable etc.  All the other things my friends had felt in their late teens and 20’s.  I finally was able to buy a real bra, wear pretty dresses, and tank tops, the simple things.  I worked out everyday, gained strength both physically and mentally rain my first marathon successes in my job and finally had a boyfriend! I was 33!  I had a lot of firsts at 33 my friends had in their 20’s.  I had been set free, all because of a boob! Well…so much more than a boob… just feeling feminine, and having feelings and desires.   

-What part has fitness played in your life and self confidence?

My life has been forever changed because of fitness.  I have a wonderful community of friends, I have traveled places to participate in races and have seen and done things I wouldn’t have seen otherwise.  I have a new level of confidence and strength and now know I CAN do this! I have completed 14 half marathons and 1 full marathon. I can lift weights with the best of them even though I am missing major muscles in my chest, most wouldn’t even know.  I’m not fast but I’m not last!  I am living and it feels good.  Fitness has become one of the most important parts of my life, I want to live and be healthy.  My father died at 28 and my mother died at 58, my genes are not in my favor so I must take control of what is within my control and my health is of utmost priority.

-What has been the hardest thing to overcome and your biggest realization along the way?  
The fear of rejection, not being good enough.  My biggest realization is that you must love and respect and accept yourself first.  A person will fail everytime if they seek love, happiness, acceptance from other people to fulfill them.  It has taken me 40 years to realize I am good enough, and worthy and I have learned the hard way you cant be happy until you are happy alone and by yourself.  Love must come from within, as well as respect and acceptance, you must be ok with you and what ever deformities  you may have, or afflictions you may have because we all have them.  no-one is perfect, and the sooner we realize we all have a story the easier it is to not only accept yourself but accept others as well.  Empathy has been the best quality to attain. we all have a cross to bare.

-What advice would you give to people who are looking to make a change?  

Well, I learned from the best ” If it doesn’t challenge you it wont change you”  Change is growth.  I urge everyone to take it one day at a time. You can’t eat an elephant in one setting, one bite at a time.  Every decision counts, every choice matters.  However, the desire for change must come from the deepest part of your soul, and with pure intentions.  You must want change for you and you only.  You must want it only to better yourself to empower yourself and to ultimately do better, be better so you can fulfill Gods plan for you.

-How do you FEEL right now?  

Happiest I have ever been.  I can tell when I haven’t worked out in a few days, because I feel Like I am lacking or missing something in my life.  SO as long as I keep that in check, I get out and do something to raise my endorphins I am able to maintain a health state of mind body and spirit.  I truly am a better person when I do something for me that requires me to challenge myself physically.  

-What are your goals going forward?

I have moved on from wanting to lose weight.  I know I will never be a Victoria secret model, I truly just want to continue to embrace the journey that I am on, continue to be my best, lift heavier, stay in tune with my mind and my body, workout and simply be an inspiration to others.

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Here is a little more information about Poland Syndrome –

Poland syndrome is a disorder in which affected individuals are born with missing or abnormal muscles on one side of the chest wall. Most individuals with Poland syndrome also have abnormalities of the hand, which often involve shortened fingers, partial fusion of the fingers, or both. The hand abnormalities usually affect the same (ipsilateral) side of the body as those of the chest. Poland syndrome affects the right side of the body more often than the left side.

People with Poland syndrome are missing part of one of the major chest muscles, called the pectoralis major. In most affected individuals, the missing part is the large section of the muscle that normally attaches to the upper arm on one side and the breastbone (sternum) on the other. Other abnormalities may occur on the affected side of the torso. In some cases, additional muscles in the chest wall, side, and shoulder are missing or underdeveloped. There may also be rib cage abnormalities, such as shortened ribs, and the ribs may be noticeable due to less fat under the skin (subcutaneous fat). Breast and nipple abnormalities may also occur, and underarm (axillary) hair is sometimes sparse or abnormally placed. In most cases, the abnormalities in the chest area do not cause health problems or affect movement.

Watermelon “Cake”










I saw this on pinterest and just went for it when I had a kickoff party for my new training/cardio concept – Endorphins Training!  It looks like a cake, huh?  Pysch!!!!  It’s a watermelon!!

This is a simple, healthy, fun little treat that anyone who loves watermelon and fruit will LOVE.  This is perfect for a party!  Mine isn’t very pretty and can actually be a little messy, but it’s such a fun summer dessert, I just had to share!


  • 1 watermelon
  • Fruit – strawberries, kiwi, blueberries (or anything you want!)
  • 1 large tub of Cool Whip
  • 1-2 cups nuts – walnuts, almonds – anything you want!


  1. Cut the watermelon in the shape of a cake – this is actually harder than it looks!
  2. Once you cut the melon in your desired shape – take off all of the rind.
  3. Place your nuts in a food processor and pulse until the nuts are chopped.  Set aside.
  4. Cover the sides and top with cool whip
  5. Top with other fruit
  6. Cover the sides with nuts.
  7. Place it in the fridge or freezer if need be to set some.  Cut and serve!



THE BEST Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies





Well, well, well…….  I don’t have much to say about these besides the fact that they are THE BOMB.  These little things are So. Dang. Good.  I mean I really want to cuss they are THAT good, but I’m going to refrain.

I can’t take credit for these, but I would make one change to the recipe.  I would use coconut sugar instead of brown sugar.  I didn’t actually have any, so i went with the brown sugar, and wasn’t disappointed AT ALL, but I’d rather use coconut sugar if available.  I found this recipe on Chelsea’s Messy Apron.  Thank you Chelsea for an a-mazing cookie recipe!

Now – do yourself a favor and GO MAKE THESE!

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 tablespoons dark brown sugar, lightly packed OR coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1 and 1/2 cups oat flour (regular oats blended)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  1. Take regular old fashioned oats or quick oats and blend them until they resemble a flour or powder in a blender or food processor.
  2. Combine the vanilla extract, large egg, and brown sugar in a bowl. Melt the coconut oil and let it cool slightly before adding to the bowl. Beat everything together until just combined.
  3. Stir in the oat flour (measured after blending NOT before), baking soda, cinnamon (scale this amount to taste preferences), and salt.
  4. Stir until just combined and then fold in the dark chocolate chips.  (She let her dough sit for an hour, but I went right for it!  If you have patience, let it sit for an hour in the fridge).
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  6. Using a cookie scoop (and pack these in the scoop very tightly or they may crumble), scoop out balls of the dough onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Press a few more chocolate chips in the tops if desired.
  7. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges.
  8. Remove and allow to stay on the baking sheet for another 2 minutes before removing to a wire cooling rack.
  9. Enjoy!

Roasted Carrots and Corn Veggie Tacos




I decided to get creative tonight in honor of it being Tres de Mayo.  Cinco de Mayo is right around the corner, so why not?  I dropped by Kroger this evening (TJ’s just gets too crazy town on Sundays), and started thinking about the tacos I had made before – they were SO good with roasted sweet potatoes and black beans…  what could I do this time?

I recently discovered these ah-mazing tricolor carrots at Trader Joe’s that are pretty much the  I’ve made them into potato-esque type dishes like chips and fries, and they are SO SO SO good.  I’m not sure why we are eating french fries when we could be eating baked carrots….  The world needs to change.  Basically, I should become president and then change french fries to carrots.  The world would thank me.

So, I went through the aisles and basically just grabbed a bunch of stuff that I thought would make an interesting homage to a Cinco de Mayo veggie style taco, and here it goes…


  • 3 tricolor carrots or just regular large carrots
  • Red cabbage
  • Ear of corn
  • Lime
  • Avocado
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Greek yogurt
  • Cilantro
  • Pepper jack cheese


  1. Preheat your oven to 350.
  2. Prep your carrots by cleaning them and cutting them in half.  Place them on a baking sheet and douse in oil and salt and pepper.
  3. Prep your ear of corn by shucking it without pulling the whole skin off – just leave it on!  Put some olive oil and salt and pepper on it and put the skin back over the corn.
  4. Put your carrots in the oven and place the ear of corn directly on the rack – not on the baking sheet.
  5. While your veggies are roasting, cut your cabbage and avocado.
  6. When your veggies are finished in about 30 minutes, take them out and assemble your tacos.  I placed the carrots on the bottom, then the corn, cabbage, pepper jack cheese, a dollop of Greek yogurt, cilantro, more pepper, and a slice of lime!  Super fresh and easy!!