CLIENT SPOTLIGHT – Commit to be fit. Finding motivation with Amanda B

My relationship with Amanda began as a lot of my client relationships do – online.

When we met she was struggling with time, illness, kids….(3, not 1) and prioritizing life. After a false start, she came back resolute and stronger than ever. This year, at Pittsburgh VegFest we actually got to meet face to face – what a light that radiates from her. I was even able to meet her charming hubs…..after hearing “you changed my fricken life”….I was smitten.

Amanda has done SO well and is such a vibrant example of strength to her family. If you’re struggling with time, motivation and more, please read her interview for inspiration.

Amanda is a fit worker, wife, mom and most of all ~ independent woman who knows the value of self care. Rock it lady – you’re inspiring more people than you know.

Love you girl, so proud.



Compared to 6 months ago, how does your fit life look?

It has changed dramatically-20 lbs will do that!! The motivation I have to find out what I am capable of doing. Ex- I was not able to do a push up in April and now I am doing them-a real one LOL!

 What do you think were your biggest challenges as it relates to fitness and nutrition?  

TIME! The first 30 days I was DO or DIE-my neighbors were like “where are you” Im like over pressing tofu cooking broccoli. I had to keep away from social events just to get my mind right, check in after check it -it ALL paid off!

 If you took a break from staying fit at all in your past, why do you think this occurred and what value do you put on fitness now?

After my 2nd child I dropped the weight and was “fit” working out and that was just my lifestyle-was in nursing school and life was good, then FULL TIME job really diminished that “fit” life-I worked nights and had 2 kids and NO time for me. Then the 3rd babe came along and I was like I’m gonna just do this beautiful chaotic life and roll with the punches 2 years pass and I was mentally and emotionally ready to commit to getting back into fitness.

Why did you decide to look for a coach to help you with your goals?

I went vegan about 1.5 years ago…didn’t lose weight. Vegan processed food will do that, I was working out but no CHANGES and I felt defeated I knew I needed the accountability I needed someone checking in, cheering me on but letting me know where I was fudging up the plan.

 Do you think that having a support system (online or otherwise) is integral to your ability to stay on track?

YES! People ask “ what are you doing” I got a coach-she made them plan-I followed the plan! My husband is  a smart man, he wasn’t going to say “You think you need to eat that? Or did you work out”.

What is the most surprising part of your journey so far?

What 30 days of pure commitment will do, my focus and mind set has changed completely.  I allowed myself to have free days in July for sanity and summertime. I follow the set pan the rest of the days. My performance in the gym and my endurance has improved beyond measure. I even wore shorts and went swimming this summer which has not been a thing since 2013.

 What is your biggest challenge between work/family/self care?

Time again!! Just making sure I have my meals readily available, I do a batch cook day, press my tofu, cook the veggies, I always have frozen vegan meat and veggies on stand by. 

What is the biggest positive impact on your life since you undertook a healthier nutrition / fitness outlook?  

Hearing my 10-year-old say “Mom you are so strong” The fact that they are watching, they are seeing what hard work does and that girls are strong and working out is about being healthy! This journey also opened my eyes up to the relationship I had with food-my life revolved around food or socially drinking on most occasions. My mental and health goals became inline with my social life.

How do you keep progressing and set goals for yourself?

Just remembering how I feel now compared to how I felt on April 26 2018, when this journey started. I put away my “big” clothes and don’t ever want to bring them back out!

What/who keeps you accountable?

My tribe of 5, husband- Ryan, kids- Aiden, Chloe and Jaxon!


What are your top 3 favourite foods to eat (good or bad) and do you have a new or interesting food item that helps you with any unhealthy cravings you may have?

Salsa/guac and chips I love crunchy salty foods!! So Ill do guac and salsa with carrots or cukes. Also, pizza, that’s my weakness in food life. To get my red sauce kick ill sauté spinach with grape tomatoes and sprinkle on nutritional yeast.

Tell us a little bit about what you see for your future goals.

I plan to just keep improving in my performance at the gym and in my overall outlook on my health. I feel great and am so proud of myself for making ME a priority. This alone has improved my relationship with my husband and children. They understand that mum just needs her hour to herself to workout and the day will carry on, it has made me a better woman, wife and mother. I have rolled around the idea of some sort of fitness competition…who knows!!

If you could give a solid piece of advice to anyone who may have been in your same position who just “doesn’t have time” to take care of themselves, what would it be?

YOU ARE WORTH IT-you get one shot here on earth, one body to do life in-WHY not feel good in that body!



Client Spotlight – The Vegan Runner with Tess J.

Introducing the witty, funny, one-of-a-kind athlete in my life – Tess Jones.

Tess is a mom of one VERY darling little girl as well as a step-mom and wife. She’s such an inspiration for working moms out there who want to keep a life of their own and be an outstanding parent – ain’t gonna lie, she makes it look kinda easy but she might have something to say about that.

I met Tess in 2017 online, helped her out with a meal plan for her non-competitive time as well as helping her with endurance nutrition. I also had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with her and her little nugget helping prepare meals for her busy life. She’s got health and wellness as a priority in her home which is SO refreshing. You’re amazing Tess.

If you’re in Pittsburgh looking to run throughout this beautiful city check out this running link HERE from Fitt Pittsburgh. Also, if you’re in the hood AND in need of some help with your gear, please head over to Fleet Feet and see Tess for the best of the best service.

Thanks for being an inspiration for vegans, runners and moms, Tess.



How long have you been running?

My Dad has been a runner his whole life and started me when I was 13. I am now 32 and have been running ever since!

When did you discover that running was your “thing”?

I realized I was good at running in high school as I was winning a lot of local 5K races. Once I started training, I realized I could be a solid runner. I went to college and competed on my Division III Cross Country team.

Why did you decide to go vegan?

I have always been mostly plant based as it just made me feel better. I had a lot of stomach issues when I ate dairy and meat so doing a lot of trial and error to find what worked for me was helpful. Eliminating animal products made me feel better overall.

 Do you notice a difference in your abilities running as a vegan?

It honestly took a while for me to adjust. I had an eating disorder in high school and in college, so going vegan really made my family worried that I was restricting again. I initially lost a lot of weight and was really tired all the time. It took me a while to figure out the right combination of Macros and supplements to make sure I was fueling myself properly so that I could keep up the mileage. Once I did, I was able to be a good runner and a vegan athlete.

What is a typical day of training for you?

It really depends if I am in marathon training mode or I am in an off season. I usually run 5 days a week and do 1 day of strength training and one off day. Usually a day of speed work, a day of long distance and then moderate distance the rest of the time.  

What are your favourite pre and post workout foods?

I love a good banana and toast pre-long run. The carbs are great for longer distances. I love a smoothie post-run, it is cold and feels so good and is easy to digest!

When did you decide you needed nutritional coaching for optimizing your training, and why?

Veganism is wonderful, but hard to navigate sometimes. There is so much information out there and I wanted to be sure I was getting enough nutrients. As I said, with having had an Eating Disorder, it is easy for me to go back to my restrictive tendencies. I really had to focus on getting the proper coaching and guidance.

What is the biggest hurdle you feel you face in your day to day life that running helps you to overcome?

I think running is my best therapist! I really can unwind and relax and just be me. I have a 5 month old daughter so having the time and space all to myself is really helpful for my overall health and wellness.

What are some of your favourite places to run and why?

I love running throughout the city; Pittsburgh is a beautiful place to run! So many trails that are just absolutely breathtaking. I love being out with nature!

If you could give three pieces of solid advice to those considering taking on running, what would it be?

Like anything else, start slow and ease in. Don’t try to start off running 8 miles if you have never ran before. Know that it might  not be fun to start, but the benefits are endless and it can truly be a lifetime sport if you do it safely.

Is there anything that you are personally passionate about that you would like to share with FML clients, friends, readers?  

Having a plant diet is doable while being an athlete! You just have to plan, be smart and work hard!

Carb lovers home workout ~ holiday hacks

Want to make it out of the next week without the overeating, fat storing ho-hums??

This simple article is all about beating the fat away while still enjoying what most folks don’t think twice about on their holiday break ~ FOOD OF MANY SERVINGS AND CALORIE COUNTS!

The goal here is to prepare for carb overload using glycogen depletion. You don’t need to get too fancy with it, basically what you can shoot for is high intensity workouts with a lot of reps and plyometric style movement.

We attempt to use the largest muscle groups in this theory to tap into the areas with the biggest glycogen stores. Deplete…then refill. Make sense?

You can use the methodologies brought to you in the FML Fat Fry by going “low carb” for a few days before any feast….if you haven’t had that awareness / been low carb you can STILL prep using fitness as your weapon before and then the day after a big eating session.

Happiest of the Holiday Season to you all ~ may you nourish your bodies with the food and love they deserve this season and every other.

Let’s roll out the training…………

Choose any movement you wish for intervals – skipping is a GREAT fat burner but mountain climbers, Heisman’s etc…work just as well….Complete the work in a circuit fashion.

Exercise 1 – Intervals – 15 minutes

  • 1 minute work – Fastest cardio work (skipping/squat jacks….)
  • 15 seconds rest
  • 30 sec work – air squats (BIG air)
  • 15 seconds rest
  • 1 minute work- regular squats,
  • 15 secs rest
  • 1 minute work – jump lunges
  • 15 secs rest

Exercise 2 – Intervals – 10 minutes

  • 1 minute work – fastest cardio work (see above)
  • 15 seconds rest
  • 1 minute work – Burpees with jump tuck
  • 15 seconds rest
  • 1 minute work – crunches
  • 15 seconds rest

Exercise 3 – Intervals – 5 minutes

  • 1 minute work – fastest cardio work (see above)
  • 15 seconds rest
  • 1 minute work – elbow to knee crunches
  • 15 seconds rest
  • 1 minute work – push ups (modify if needed)

Psoriasis & Nutrition

For years I have suffered from Psoriasis. At first it was on my face and neck, then it disappeared for nearly 5 years only to reappear a couple of years ago on my scalp. Being an advocate for products that are as natural as possible, not tested on animals which are also gentle makes dealing with this disorder a {literal} pain.

In the realm of medicated “things” I have tried Denorex, Head and Shoulders, Selsun Blue, T-sal, T-gel, T-plus and what I can only remember as basically being straight up tar! Unfortunately I found that none of these products have really put a dent in the issue. I am now on the nutritional train of thought to try to irradicate this uncomfortable and at times embarrassing skin problem as well as changing my bathing protocol significantly.

If you are unsure that you have psoriasis, please go and check in with your Natropathic Doctor or GP to ensure it’s not another skin condition or a reaction to something else in your lifestyle/eating habits.

In case you are unsure, Psoriasis characteristics are dry, reddish batches covered with silvery scales which are ITCHY it looks like this (three different stages of healing):

I consistently have a patch on my own elbow that never gets THAT red, thankfully. But it is itchy and people always ask “what happened”…. it also makes the hair around that patch grow thick and dark and black…perfectly awesome for my head, my elbow? Not so much.

The cause of psoriasis is unknown, but there is some evidence of disordered arachidonic acid metabolism, which may play a pathogenic role. Studies have found that the skin of people with psoriasis contains high levels of compounds called leucotrienes, which cause inflammation. Leukotrienes are produced from arachidonic acid in the body. Arachidonic acid is found in animal fat.

A genetic predisposition to this disease is also thought to be of some importance/merit and are a number of other theories regarding the cause of psoriasis, which include an auto-immune disorder, stress, environmental factors, hormones, drugs, infections and sunlight. Due to the lack of scientific evidence, however, these theories are not widely accepted. Nevertheless the disease affects the quality of and at least 10% of psoriatic patients also develop arthritis – interesting…Arthritis, yay.


Other than creams, ointments and washes there are not a lot of resources out there that will smack you in the head when it comes to figuring out your personal triggers. Some interesting steps in the right direction with this from the naturopathic perspective are to improve the diet, detoxify, improve digestive health, and balance stress.

Topical treatment can help, but full resolution will only come from the inside out. From the dietary perspective, it is fundamental to eliminate the foods that trigger your immune system. I have been reading up on doing an elimination diet where suspect foods are cut out for 3 weeks to see if symptoms improve – common culprits are wheat, dairy, eggs, and soy.

An alternative to this is a blood test checking for immune system antibodies to common foods. It is interesting to note that 16% of psoriasis sufferers have an immune reaction to the gluten protein found in grains (wheat, barley, kamut, spelt, oats, rye, triticale). For these people, eliminating gluten in the diet usually solves the psoriasis, amazing! Maybe my little test on a Vegan Keto diet will prove helpful with my scalp and elbow. Exciting.

Here are a few quick food tips below to start you off on the right track – good luck and I’ll update you with my progress as it gains momentum!

Oily fish like Salmon and Sardines OR flax seed oil, avocado & coconut oil which are CRUELTY FREE
Beta Carotine – carrots, apricots and mangoes
Omega 3 fatty acids – Flax seeds
Selenium – Brazil nuts (which also happen to be Keto friendly as the lowest carb nut on the market)
Folic Acid/Green Leafy veggies – broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts
Zinc – shellfish OR CRUELTY FREE wholegrain foods


Like with most health issues the first culprits to get cut from the list of suggested “nutrition” are red meats and dairy products. In the case of Psoriasis it is especially beneficial since these products contain arachadonic acid, a natural inflammatory substance that is believed to make psoriasis and psoriasis sores red and swollen. Avoid, prepared meats, sausages, pre-spiced meats, most cold cuts and pates, spice cakes, pickles, pickled spices and peppers, nut-based pastries, chocolate-based products. But hey, if you’re a vegan…go GUNG-HO.

All animal fats, eggs, processed canned food are also suggested as an opt-out in your diet as they can irritate the intestinal tract and perpetuate psoriasis outbreaks.

Psoriasis natural treatment from the outside

Psoriasis natural treatment from the outside involves using a topical cream that will alleviate the symptoms of psoriasis. This will eliminate the redness, itching, burning and flaking of the skin. It will temporarily heal the skin. Utilizing my meager Herbalists medicine cabinet since we moved south means getting creative / making do. However, I have found that the best topical treatments for psoriasis have the following ingredients:

Evening Primrose Oil – Topically applying evening primrose oil relieves inflammation, stimulates protein synthesis, repairs, and improves dry flaky skin condition.

Borage Oil – is rich in gamma linolenic acid (GLA), a “good” fat with numerous health benefits. Borage oil has been proven in many studies to reduce skin inflammation, dryness, scaliness and itching. Borage oil is very important for natural health psoriasis treatment.

Aloe Vera – Helps to hydrate and rejuvenate the skin. It can help make the skin softer, younger looking, and less wrinkled. Its healing and pain relieving properties have been well known for thousands of years. It is essential in psoriasis natural treatment.

Calendula – Helps to stimulate and regenerate the deeper layer of skin. They can help blood circulation along with strengthening the cell immunity against inflammation.

Coconut Oil – Great natural anti inflammatory, a little greasy but maintains its moisture and is super safe to use AND it reduces redness.

Tea Tree Oil – I apply this directly mixed with a bit of shea butter. Again, it’s an anti-inflammatory, you’ll see some natural psoriasis shampoos include this.

I have changed my hair care routine in trying to prevent my scalp from shedding itself all over unsuspecting victims as well as my dark clothing. This seems to work well in a more humid climate. Living in Vancouver, Canada and Pittsburgh, PA I’ve found it a lot easier to maintain a “clean” scalp with the help of humidity. In Calgary, Alberta (the dry dry frozen Rockies) I found it nearly impossible and actually used to have nightmares about the giant chunks of skin toppling down my black hair as people looked on in horror.

Here’s my regime for hair: 

Wash hair with shampoo every Sunday night

Rinse hair with water every day

Every other day condition hair

Every day (morning) use hair oil (like Moroccan oil etc…)

If needed (greasy) use dry shampoo

Topically (skin): 

Each night moisturize with Shea butter

Each morning moisturize with  Aquaphor

During the day moisturize with coco butter

2 applications of Tea Tree oil per day


IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR MORE: I write my own, personal skincare and diet programs meant for Psoriasis/skin disorder sufferers. Contact me if you are interested in working on a solution for your skin!




Are you breathing just a little – and calling it a life?

I fell out of touch with my Yoga. I know, that everyone does at a certain point ~ or maybe not everyone starts. In my heart, so much healing came from giving myself the gift of a whole person challenge at least 1.5 hours each day.

For a while now, I’ve only been able to muster up 1 hour per week. Some weeks – nothing.

Lately, that has shifted and I’ve been blessing myself with inspiration and comforting solitude. Today, a poem inspired me to write this blog post to in turn, try to pass on the inspiration to you.

After all, who on earth would equate the involuntary act of breathing to living?

~ Mary Oliver~

Have you ever tried to enter the long black branches of other lives —
tried to imagine what the crisp fringes, full of honey, hanging
from the branches of the young locust trees, in early morning, feel like?

Do you think this world was only an entertainment for you?

Never to enter the sea and notice how the water divides
with perfect courtesy, to let you in!
Never to lie down on the grass, as though you were the grass!
Never to leap to the air as you open your wings over the dark acorn of your heart!

No wonder we hear, in your mournful voice, the complaint
that something is missing from your life!

Who can open the door who does not reach for the latch?
Who can travel the miles who does not put one foot
in front of the other, all attentive to what presents itself
Who will behold the inner chamber who has not observed
with admiration, even with rapture, the outer stone?

Well, there is time left —
fields everywhere invite you into them.

And who will care, who will chide you if you wander away
from wherever you are, to look for your soul?

Quickly, then, get up, put on your coat, leave your desk!

To put one’s foot into the door of the grass, which is
the mystery, which is death as well as life, and
not be afraid!

To set one’s foot in the door of death, and be overcome
with amazement!

To sit down in front of the weeds, and imagine
god the ten-fingered, sailing out of his house of straw,
nodding this way and that way, to the flowers of the
present hour,
to the song falling out of the mockingbird’s pink mouth,
to the tippets of the honeysuckle, that have opened

in the night

To sit down, like a weed among weeds, and rustle in the wind!

Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?

While the soul, after all, is only a window,

and the opening of the window no more difficult
than the wakening from a little sleep.

Only last week I went out among the thorns and said
to the wild roses:
deny me not,
     but suffer my devotion.
Then, all afternoon, I sat among them. Maybe

I even heard a curl or tow of music, damp and rouge red,
hurrying from their stubby buds, from their delicate watery bodies.

For how long will you continue to listen to those dark shouters,
caution and prudence?
Fall in! Fall in!

A woman standing in the weeds.
A small boat flounders in the deep waves, and what’s coming next
is coming with its own heave and grace.

Meanwhile, once in a while, I have chanced, among the quick things,
upon the immutable.
What more could one ask?

And I would touch the faces of the daises,
and I would bow down
to think about it.

That was then, which hasn’t ended yet.

Now the sun begins to swing down. Under the peach-light,
I cross the fields and the dunes, I follow the ocean’s edge.

I climb, I backtrack.
I float.
I ramble my way home.