While the weather is nice in most parts of the country, it is always more fun to take your run outdoors than it is grinding it out on the indoor treadmill! Running outdoors can bring a sense of clarity, energy from the fresh air, gratitude for the strength your legs provide, freedom for your legs to move beneath you without assisted platforms from equipment and peacefulness despite the fact that you are, well… running 🙂 !! There are several apps on the market (many of which are free- Runkeeper, SmartRunner, Map My Run).  These apps allow you to track your run, provide you with voice motivation along the way, notification of your splits time, distance/mile pace and a cool map at the end of your run showing where you strutted your strong self and left sweat marks on the pavement, sand or grass! It’s also a fun tool you can share with friends and use as motivation, accountability, complete a challenge together or train for a race.  Some of “us” are taking the run maps a step further and having some fun “drawing” out creative designs based on our chosen footprint of mileage.

I encourage you to lace up your sneakers, crank up your playlist and set your running app in motion!  Have some fun with it, enjoy an active lifestyle and what I like to experience as often as possible… a runners high!  xx, a-m

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We all have been there… the time we open the refrigerator to find that the fresh produce we purchased is about to turn bad.  Fear not… there is a saving grace before you think to toss it and that is juicing.  Take what you have and put it into your juicer or blender to get to sippin’ not on gin and juice but on your vegetable juice.

One of my favorite all time juice concoctions was found when my spinach, cucumber and avocado were all about to feel defeated.  By blending them together and mixing in a pear for a little sweetness, a delicious green juice full of powerful plant based nutrition was created! Don’t be afraid to mix it up and use what you have!  Cheers to your health xx, a-m

 

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If you haven’t tried foam rolling yet, you’re missing out! An affordable way to release muscle pain, tightness and adhesions, this gem often feels like a deep tissue massage! I like to say I have a love/dislike relationship with my foam roller, but its more a “hurts so good” kind of mentality that I have grown to reap only the most positive benefits daily.

The foam roller can be used as an active warm up tool before you set out on your run, spin class, outdoor hike or other athletic competition.  It will bring additional blood flow to the areas you feel knots and/or muscle tension and works to break up the knots and scar tissue~ just allow yourself time to slowly roll over the muscles, spending no more than 20 seconds on each tender spot. 

Another bonus is you can essentially do this anywhere- at your gym, in the privacy of your own home or hotel room and there are now travel sized rollers you can take with you when you do have to travel.  It definitely is my go-to for recovery.  The foam roller gives a myofascial release as it works to remove toxins and bring oxygen back to your sexy muscles for repair.  There are several types of foam rollers available (shown here) that target various areas and range in level of intensity. 

Make sure to consult with a fitness professional/expert or contact me if you have any questions on how to use, which type to use… happy to help you get to rolling!!  xx, a-m

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USA Paratriathlete and University of Arizona Paratriathlete, Mary Kate Callahan does not back down from a challenge. At 5 ½ months old, she contracted transverse myelitis, a rare neurological disease that left her a T8-T10 paraplegic. Since that time, she has led anything but a life that one might expect of someone paralyzed from the waist down.  Mary Kate fell in love with swimming, relying on her upper body to power her through the pool. Her passion for the sport led her to where she is now.  She is, without a doubt, a bright light in my life and I am so honored to have met her, worked with her and now be able to share her inspirational journey with you.  This comes with a warning… her smile is in fact contagious ;)!

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AM: Who inspires you and why?  

MC: That’s a hard question because so many people in my life inspire me. I don’t believe someone has to be this BIG DEAL to be able to inspire other people. I always say my friends and family inspire me most. They are the people around me most and they have been through it all. They inspire me to try to be a well rounded person because having a balanced life is so important, especially when you’re competing at this level. You want to be focused during races and workouts but you also do not want to let it consume you. My coaches and teammates also inspire me to be the best athlete I can be. Seeing my teammates racing or at workouts drives me to want to be a better athlete and I think driving off another athlete is a great thing for both your athletic and mental well-being.  

AM: From one swimmer to another (fist bump and woot woot) Can you share some of your favorite highlights of your life journey with me? 

MC: I treasure so many moments but these two hold a special place in my heart: During High School, I swam all 4 years with my team. The early swim practices, the dual meets, the double practices… I did it all. But the sports association governing all of Illinois high school sports would not allow people with disabilities to compete at state. We asked them to adopt a qualifying standard (just like able-bodied athletes) – but they refused. Long story short… during my junior year of high school, myself and the Illinois Attorney General sued the Illinois High School Sports Association (IHSA) and when it came time for my senior year swim season, we had a settlement agreement that would allow athletes with physical disabilities to try to qualify for state. So in November of 2012- myself and 7 other athletes with disabilities made history and swam in 4 different events at the state championship. I remember finishing the first event and the crowd was on their feet not because they felt sorry for us, but because they realized we are athletes just like everyone else. The whole process (lawsuit, depositions) was because I didn’t want any other kid to have to feel like they were being pushed to the sideline because of their disability…especially in high school.  High School sports are so important~ during those 4 years.. besides the sports aspect of it- you learn so many life lessons and meet so many great people.   Second would be from this past June. I competed in the ITU Chicago Elite Paratriathlon Race. I have been traveling around the world the last few months racing in three ITU races to try to earn points towards my world ranking but this one was extra special… not only was it in the USA but it was also in my hometown! 65 elite paratriathletes from around the world were coming right here to racing the greatest city (I’m a little biased towards Chicago 🙂 ) But this was going to be one of the first times all my friends and family were going to be able to see me race on the international level. I knew it was going to be a tough race but I was able to come out on top. Having my friends and family right there for my first win at an international race… life couldn’t get much better that day!  

AM: What do you think are a few valuable lessons when it comes to controlling the mind/mental aspect of training? 

MC: Patience is key! My coach and I talk about different ways to improve things and I have learned that it’s not going to happen overnight. If you’re consistent and keep working on it.. You’ll get the result. The biggest thing is always stay positive! The second you let a negative thought into your head, you’re not going to be able to take it back and it will affect you. Especially in races, if you don’t have the greatest swim or if something happens to your bike, you need to be able to deal with it but then move on as quickly as possible…otherwise it could cost you the race. I’m a big visualizer before races so yes… you need to be able to know how to handle some situations should something go wrong, but when I’m thinking about a race- I keep it positive!

AM: You ALWAYS do! That’s one of the first things I noticed about you and what was such a draw in wanting to work with you!!  

AM: When did you know you wanted to compete and become a paratriathlete?

MC:  For a long time I thought I was going to go down the swimming route… but little did I know when I completed my first triathlon– I would be hooked. I had always done track when I was little and then I rode my bike whenever my friends were on their bike so I just threw all three together. A coach and now a good friend, Keri Serota, had just started a paratriathlon club (dare2tri) based out of Chicago so the timing was perfect. She was one of the main reasons I did my first triathlon after it was announced it would make its debut in the 2016 Paralympics! From that moment on, I knew what road I wanted to head down. It’s not an easy road but I’m willing and ready to do whatever it will take to get there.  

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AM: What fuels you mentally, physically, emotionally to wake every day and go out and be your best? 

MC: Truly, I love what I’m doing. If I didn’t love it – I wouldn’t be able to stick to the sport. You’ll do better at something if you are actually enjoying it. Can I say sometimes my muscles hurt and I just want to sleep in like a regular college student? Yes…but only for a few seconds. I think about how far I have come and how much I want that end goal and how I won’t let anything stop me. I get to compete in something I love, while traveling the world and meeting so many inspiring people- that’s what fuels me 🙂  

AM: What are some of your daily rituals and yes, I think I already know the answer as we are similar here :)?   

MC: Quotes, Quotes, Quotes. I wake up extra early to find a few quotes that I will get in my head before I start my day! My friends know all about my addiction because more likely than not, I will send all my favorite quotes (which is basically every single one) to them early in the morning.    

AM: If you could send a message to some of the other athletes out there up and coming, that you wish had been told to you, what would it be?  

MC: It won’t always be easy…but it’s ALWAYS worth it Always remember to smile and have fun!   

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AM: What’s next on your bucket list?

MC: Right now I’m focusing on racing in the ITU races, I’m heading to World Championships at the end of August so I’m just gearing up for that. A few years from now I would love to start getting into 70.3 and Ironman distances but for right now.. Rio is on my mind 🙂  

AM: How do you best practice self care- nutrition, massage, skin, fashion, meditation, etc.

MC: I am a nutrition fanatic. With working out so much and having to be able to recover between workouts, I make sure I know exactly what I am putting into my body. I love making lists, so I’ll plan out my week for food and give the list to either my mom or dad. I do enjoy cooking but sometimes I don’t get home until 7ish from practice and when I get home I’m HUNGRY…so my mom always tries to make sure dinner is ready then. With my upper body doing ALL of the work, massage is a huge part of my recovery. Sometimes I wish I could drop my arms off for 24 hours and have them massaged but since that is impossible- I have just started going to a new massage therapist and she is great. She knows how much stress is being put on my arms so she targets those areas. I always get massages two days before I race too. Not only does it relax my body but also my mind that is always running 24/7. I have just started getting into yoga so it’s too soon to tell, but I hope I like it because I think that’s something my mind needs… time to just focus on my breathing and again, trying to stop my mind from thinking too much. HAHA. I call myself the diva triathlete… and so does everyone else. My helmets must match my bikes and my toenail polish must match my bikes. I practically live in workout clothes so I will dress up whenever I get the chance…. even if its to a team meeting. Instead of shorts, I’ll wear a black tennis skirt to bring out my inner diva. The latest trend during races is attaching my race numbers with PINK SPARKLY duct tape instead of the regular grey duct tape.

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AM: As always, I LOVE sharing time with you! You are such a beautiful inspiration that I know is providing a positive impact to so many. I am grateful to have had this opportunity to share some of your awesomeness with others and I have no doubt your attitude and outlook has turned someone’s day around! I look forward to following your journey, cheering you on and watching your celebrations of success and growth MC. Keep turning it up and never, never, never give up!!! xx, a-m

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Having had the pleasure of working with Meghan Duggan, 4x World Champion, 2x Olympian as well as Captain of the United States Women’s National Ice Hockey Team,  I thought it would be awesome to share some of her passions when it comes to fitness/nutrition and overall lifestyle with all of you.  I mean… who better than this to look at and say STRONG IS SEXY!!  (Here she is in action flying through the air and almost scoring- all while being covered by 4 opponents!)

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Check out our conversation below and what fun it was to be in the company of someone like-minded and as passionate as I am about health from the inside out!!

 

A-M:  What is your favorite workout and why?

MD:  My favorite workout is any type of circuit training. I love doing multiple different exercises and not stopping so that my heart rate is elevated the entire time. I find that circuit training gives me the best sweat, strength, and endurance workout!

 

A-M:  What is your favorite body part to train and why?

MD:  My favorite body part to train is my legs because being a hockey player; they are probably my most important asset. Making them stronger makes me a faster and more efficient skater. “The legs feed the wolf” as my college coach Mark Johnson liked to say.

 

A-M:  What exercises do you find most effective to keep your amazing abs?

MD:  Rollouts! Either with the actual ab roller or different version of rollouts that I do with the TRX bands at Mike Boyles Gym!

 

A-M:  What exercises do you find most effective for lean, strong legs?

MD:  Lots of squats and lunges! Partnered with jumps and hops. One leg, two leg, you name it!

 

A-M:  Where do you get your inspiration from or who inspires you?

MD:  My teammates inspire me. Every day when I train I think about how I am accountable to an entire team of elite athletes. In order to lead them in the direction that we want to go, I can’t ever let myself get outworked. I’m always inspired to be bigger, faster, stronger.

 

A-M:  What is one of your favorite inspirational quotes or mantras?

MD:  “A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. She doesn’t set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the quality of her actions and integrity of her intent. In the end, leaders are much like eagles, they do not flock; you find them one at a time”

“The price of excellence is discipline, the cost of mediocrity is disappointment”

 

A-M:  During the off season what workouts do you enjoy doing?

MD:  Aside from my off season summer training that I am required to do for the US Team, I absolutely love cycling, playing tennis, and playing golf.  (Pictured here after a long weekend ride with her brother)

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A-M:  What really motivates you to workout? You have such a strong, sexy, athletic body– what keeps you going?

MD:  Working out, and pushing my body to its limits is something I have always enjoyed. I truly believe that our bodies were made to move, and our minds were made to be challenged. The training that I continually put myself through, does both of those things. I take a lot of pride in the health and physical state of my body, it’s important to me but also something I enjoy working towards.

 

A-M:  How do you decide if you need a rest day?

MD:  Having been training full time as a collegiate/Olympic athlete for about 10 years now, I am very in tune with my body. I have learned over the years the difference between “I’m tired and I need to push through this” vs. “I’m tired and sore and I need to let myself rest and recover to prevent injury” I pay attention to how well I’m sleeping, how my muscles feel, and when my next competition is. Those things all play into deciding if I need a rest day or not.

 

A-M:  What are some of your favorite things to do to relax and have fun?

MD:  1. Cook/read about new foods/recipes

2. Ride my bike

3. Play golf

 

A-M:  Body confidence is a big topic amongst younger girls and one that I view as important for us to stand together on a platform of encouragement and empowerment. I love the “STRONG IS SEXY” mentoring- What piece of advice would you give them on loving yourself and your body?

MD:  STRONG IS SEXY FOR SURE! Treat your body well, fitness and nutrition wise, and your mental state will be so strong you’ll be full of confidence! Life isn’t about how you look. BE HEALTHY! And love yourself and others for who you are and who they are!

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A-M:  If we were to glance at your playlist, what would be some of your top tunes we would see that keep you motivated during your workout?

MD:  1. Waves- Mr. Probz

2. Yeah- Joe Nichols

3. Burnin’ it down- Jason Aldean

4. Get me bodied- Beyonce

5. Take care- Rihanna and Drake

 

A-M:  We know how important it is to keep the mind, body and soul healthy from the inside out.  What has perhaps been a challenge for you here that you have overcome or what helps you to keep your “being” in a good, energetic space?

MD:  No matter what my day looks like in terms of training, traveling, competing, meetings, work, errands, etc… I have discovered that I need AT LEAST 5 minutes of time to sit and be still and quiet. In those moments, I close my eyes, shut my mind off, and just listen to myself breathe. It regenerates my mind, body, and soul. 

 

A-M:  Do you have a favorite food and do you cook a lot at home?

MD:  I love all seafood! My favorite is probably Salmon, baked and eaten alongside a fresh salad! And yes I LOVE to cook at home.

 

A-M:  What’s your go-to fuel before or after an intense workout?

MD:  I never start a day without my morning shake, I change it up occasionally but the staple ingredients which always find themselves in there are: Banana, Spinach, Frozen Berries, Green Tea, Organic Hemp protein powder, Chia Seeds, Coconut Oil, Cinnamon, Water

 

A-M:  Cheat treat or meal- we all have them, what would you reach for if you wanted to indulge a bit or have as a comfort food?

MD:  Chicken wings!!! I don’t have them often but when I do, I really enjoy them! 🙂

 

A-M:  Are there any foods that you stay away from or foods that you think have helped or hurt your performance?

MD:  I don’t eat much sugar, if any at all because in general it isn’t good for anyone, athlete or not. For the most part I tend to just eat whole, unprocessed, unrefined foods. I prefer to stay away from things that come in a box or a bag. I enjoy all fresh produce and meats/seafood!

 

A-M:  Nutrition is important to you and I know another similar passion that we share- tell us a bit more about your passion for this

MD:  Nutrition is my passion! One of my favorite quotes is “Take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live” and I truly truly believe that. Any article or book that I can get my hands on about food, recipes, and nutrition is always one that I want to read. Having a degree in Biology from the University of Wisconsin, I love learning about how all of the systems in the body work. Nothing gets me more excited than fueling my body properly, or encouraging/teaching others how to fuel theirs properly! A long time ago when I made the decision that I was going to make nutrition a priority in my life, I noticed how important it is in my day to day. Proper nutrition techniques make me happier, allow me to perform better on the ice, and make me just overall a healthier woman!

A-M:  This was so much fun Meghan!  Thanks for spending time with me and I look forward to exciting partnerships together by way of our shared passion for health, wellness and performance!

xx, a-m

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