Category Archives: Fitness

Categories Fitness

Life is Good: A Mindset, Practice & Mantra w/ Parker Johnson

From her days riding around on horses and training to be a state volleyball champion, to finding the love of her life who shares the values of physical and mental fitness–Parker shares how “Life is Good”.  From her mom’s words, as it’s manifested into her CrossFit gym, and her daily self-talk: it’s a mindset, practice and a way of living.

MindBody Nutrition Challenge Application/Learn More here:

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#NEW CD FITNESS Podcast Episode!

Categories Fitness

Not Your Average Girl Talk w/ Rachelle Bayuga & Kimmy Almeida

*SPECIAL EDITION EPISODE* with three good friends, Rachelle Bayuga, Kimberly Almeida and host of the show, Cheryl De Guzman.

Get yourself friends you can share goals AND girl talk with.

Not much need for an introduction as the three talk about everything from how they met, to food/fitness, career paths, dating/relationships, and everything in between.

Be sure to check out the upcoming Goal Crushing Seminar coming this September 8th in Des Plaines, IL!

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#NEW CD FITNESS Podcast Episode!

Categories Fitness

70+ lb. weight loss, overcoming emotional eating & eyeing the American Nationals w/ Jamelle Apolinar

Listen in how Jamelle’s weight loss had lead her down an exciting path to finding passion for fitness and Olympic weightlifting.  Her transformation is one that has been a long journey through genuine emotions, finding supports in her close friends and training partners, and even still, balancing out life’s obstacles while eyeing her ultimate goal of competing at the American National stage.


Goal Crushing Seminar with Mark England:


6-week Just Move Challenge Application:


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#NEW CD FITNESS Podcast Episode!

Categories Fitness

Building a Food Business on Passion & Service w/ Monica Picchietti

Listen in on how Monica’s personal journey through diligent exercising and meal planning turned quickly into a meal prep business—”Meals by Mon”—from her own kitchen as a means to help others with healthy eating.

As she took on more clients, and eventually trialed her first commercialized kitchen, she realized that this was a vision larger than herself, and that’s where Green Spoon Kitchen came to be.

Be sure to tune in and learn about GSK, and claim your exclusive discount code on your FIRST online order for $25 off!

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#NEW CD FITNESS Podcast Episode!

Categories Fitness

Choosing Me: Solo Travel, Rediscovery & Self-Worth w/ Kim Dionisio

Kim’s journey through different cities in different countries throughout the world, as well as her journey through re-discovering herself through fitness and time on her own can teach us a lot about our relationship with ourselves.  Listen in on how Kim’s passion for fitness and mental health have both brought her to a new way of living with newfound strength and clarity for what’s ahead.

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#NEW CD FITNESS Podcast Episode!

Categories Fitness

Food as Medicine & Taking the Mission out of Meal Prep w/ Personal Chef, Carol Mavarganis

Carol Mavarganis is a mother of 3, who loves to cook for her kids and husband, and now several others. Carol has embarked on her new business, “Carol Cooks for You” as a means to share her joy for creating in the kitchen with real food—mostly Paleo and Whole30.

At one point 8 years ago, Carol was alarmed by some of her daily struggles with her health: brain fog, weight gain, moodiness, and finally: hair loss. Carol was uncertain how to get herself out of this on-going conundrum of battling with herself just to do it all over again the next day.

After seeing a naturopath, and doing some research on her own, Carol was aware that most of this was being caused by food! The things we eat everyday. So she had to change it up or her body was going to continue to presenting its harms until she was ready to heal: also with food.

Upon testing for food sensitivities, the best route for Carol to take was to take on a paleo/Whole30 approach to eating. Since then, her symptoms had decreased, she’s lost the weight, feels lighter and happier, and most of all, she’s sharing this gift of cooking with the family too, and nothing brings her greater joy.

As a means to share this passion for helping others, Carol started Carol Cooks for You, and is a personal chef to individual clients who are looking to have healthy meals prepared to heat & eat, or are looking to learn how to cook in the kitchen, alongside her guidance.  Her website is live and you are able to find her at

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#NEW CD FITNESS Podcast Episode!

Categories Fitness

Week 3: Good | Better | Best

18.3: with a 14 minute time cap:
2 rounds
100 double unders
20 overhead squats (80#)
100 double unders
12 ring muscle ups
100 double unders
20 dumbbell snatches (35#)
100 double unders
12 bar muscle ups

(second attempt on 3/12: debrief below)


  • Approached with less nerves than the first time, which helped muscles to relax in first and second set of double unders
  • Knew first attempt’s time benchmarks, and paced ring muscle ups appropriately in quantity and speed to manage both shoulder fatigue and pace
  • Stuck to one method of dumbbell snatches (except for when taking short break) – helped control breathing going into 4th set of double unders
  • Didn’t count my own double-unders, left the job to the judge… tried to zone out as much as possible and go into “auto pilot” with these, even when tripping in rounds 1-3.
  • Did not take 30 seconds to put on hand grips for bar muscle ups.
  • Placed plates directly under rings and bar to decrease jump height for muscle up attempts
  • Worked until the very last second of the workout with a strong finish
  • Improved overall score by 47 reps — got into 43 double unders in round 2


  • Utilize proper and practiced technique on bar muscle ups for efficiency: push down on bar with straight arms as toes come forward for the kip.  DEEP “chest to bar” + turnover did not maximize efficiency and increased grip and tricep fatigue.  Also landed on my upper abdomen on a few reps, which affected good breathing…. and then made me feel like I was going to puke or have my heart pop out of my abdomen afterwards for 5 minutes straight!…
  • Utilize the kipping rip dip more effectively.  A few muscle up reps landed in a “dead” hang at the bottom of the dip, which caused extra tension, again, in triceps and shoulders… no looking like a dead fish–look like a gymnast!!!


  • Improve SINGLE jump roping technique in order to…
  • Improve high volume double-unders at any time
  • Improve double-under movement pattern to focus on relaxing shoulders and using wrists to rotate rope, rather than forearms
  • Continuously mobilize ankles and calves (which get the least amount of mobilization currently, especially in the winter!)
  • COMMIT to strengthening high-skill gymnastics skills in accessory work sessions throughout the week (3hrs/week * 52 weeks = 156 extra hours of practice for maximum achievement output) – need to re-prioritize this!
Categories Fitness

It’s Open Season!: What’s different this year…

No, I don’t hunt.  The CrossFit Open is summed up with this infographic:


Basically, the reason why I “do” CrossFit all year long is for the sole purpose of competing in the 5-week “Open” competition season.

It wasn’t always like this; I used to just do the Open for fun, and for the mere fact that everyone else in my box did it too; it was just a norm.  After the first year, I got a feel for my competitive side again, and I started to take it more seriously… almost TOO seriously.  I placed lots of pressure on myself–really confident about what I was good at, really scared of what I wasn’t… and it was a pretty immature mindset towards CrossFit as a sport.

Though I’m not a veteran, I’d have to say this year is much different than others.  I’ve evolved both physically, and simultaneously, I’ve invested lots of time and practice in also developing my mental and emotional intelligence regarding training and competition.

I know where I stand in terms of my strengths and weaknesses; I’m far from the “outcome” goal I’d love to achieve one day a few years from now… however, I’ve never felt more prepared.  So like… if I were thrown into the Hunger Games tomorrow, would I win?  Eh… but at least I’d be more fit than ever to do the damn best I can to make sure I thrive for as long as my body and mind allow me to!

Here are a few highlights of what’s different for me going into the Open this year:

  • General Physical Preparedness is… mostly prepared!
  • Nutrition has been dialed in with over 90% compliance for months now
  • Not “afraid” of certain movements or lifts
  • Not “cautious” to “overeat” (eating so much that it’s literally a job! #payher)
  • More positive, self-affirmations – yes, sometimes even OUT LOUD (when no one’s around)
  • Reading a lot of mindset/ achievement literature lately
  • Sleep has been a consistent 8 hours 90+% of the time and my body is noticing its effect (lower body fat retention, better recovery, sharper mind & focus)
  • I’m actually excited and not as nervous (I say this now, and tomorrow the butterflies will be sure to show up) for an Open season and all its got to challenge me with
  • I won’t be having a beer after my workout — too many other nutrient-dense calories I’ll have to have
  • I will likely be re-doing the workouts on Mondays. *cue the positive self-affirmations*
  • This year’s placing will tell me a lot about the next 1-2 years

Hopping off now because I’m so tired and need to disconnect, chill out and sleep well.  After eating some more, though.

Keep you all posted…

Categories Fitness

Yes, I can eat this.

When you ask me “Are you allowed to eat that?” or “Dang, you’re going to eat all that?” do you feel empowered and entitled, or do you actually want to know?  Because of the tone of voice, most of the time, it seems like the former.

…and as I chuckle with slight apathy for your implied opinion about me and my long-developing relationship with food and don a superficial smile and politely respond “Hah, yeah…”

I actually want to say “Well, I’m already eating it… after taking a Lactaid for this cheese I can’t typically digest… but YES–I’m ‘allowed’ to, MOM.  Am I going to get ratted out now because I’m eating food that you don’t think aligns with your expectations of a person who still values health and fitness despite a single food choice?”

The image above is a personal pizza from Pequod’s Pizza–a local pizza joint where I grew up in a Chicago suburb.  On my birthday this year, I went to get this delicious, maybe even gluttonous, dish… and it is freaking. bomb. if you like deep dish pizza.

Despite the fact that I’m lactose-intolerant, and I just don’t feel that wonderful (lazy, bloated, a little inflamed, riding the struggle bus during a training session the next day) after eating something like this, I do enjoy it every so often, as I’m sure some would.

Now as a nutrition coach, the point of this article is not to say that you can eat deep dish pizza anytime you want, suck it up to feel a little off, and expect to live a pretty healthy life.  NO.  There is SO much more involved with education, coaching, support, practice, application, providing feedback, and communication that goes into my work with my clients, and this article is not a one-off to give out free passes to anyone to just go ahead “eat whatever, whenever”

However, I’m not a coach that believes that policing, criticizing, or judging anyone for the food choices they make is the way to go about creating habit, mindset and lifestyle change.

Furthermore, as a human being, I can completely empathize.

Whether you have specific fitness-related or sport-related goals, or are even just trying to be more health conscious, sometimes we simply want to enjoy a meal that satisfies their flavor palette every once in a while, as a mental and emotional break from the monotony or routine of the usual well-balanced meal from whole foods (lean protein, veggies, healthy carbs and fats).

It’s called finding balance and re-creating a mindset and in turn, a lifestyle.

I used to come from a place where I used food as a means to cope or reward myself.  Some very short-winded examples of this could be:

“I ate X, Y, Z (probably salads, smoothies, very few nutrient-dense meals) all week long, and since I’ve dropped a couple of pounds (probably water weight), I am TOTALLY going to go out for X, Y, Z this weekend because ‘I deserve it.‘”

“I just spent so much time doing tasks X, Y, Z, and…holy CRAP is I hungry (stress). Ugh, and I still have so much left to do… (anxiety) How are there not enough hours in a day??  Why didn’t I plan ahead?? (anger/frustration) It’s fine–I’ll just order for takeout this time, but next time FOR SURE I’m going to do it right.  Ugh, damnit. (self-depreciation)”

But things have changed.  My mentality has shifted.  My life has changed.

Yes, I can eat this. 

And no, it’s not because I am trying to find comfort or because I feel like I have ‘deserved’ it.

I can eat this because I have a healthier relationship with food today.

I can eat this because I have control over my food choices upwards of 80% of the time.

I can eat this because, after this, I can very easily go back to eating well-balanced meals.

I can eat this because I understand what role food plays in my life – a source of energy, nutrients, a means of living and thriving.

I can eat this because I understand how much food I need to be successful – in my work, fitness, my mood and in my life.

I can eat this because I track and log my food intake 80-90% of the time, which I have proved to myself that a consistent, committed approach will win over a perfectionist approach.

I can eat this because I have the knowledge to understand its impact on my body (and mind) and that one food choice does not define or change who I am or how hard I have worked to be where I am.

Thank you to a friend of mine who brought this conversation up with me yesterday.  As I learn more about others through their fitness journey, it sheds light on a lot of the deep-rooted past of my developing relationship with food.

If you’re interested in chatting about yours, or just want to learn more about habit, mindset or lifestyle change regarding daily nutrition, feel free to fill out this pre-assessment form on my coaching page.  I look forward to learning more about you!

Categories Fitness

Good. Better. Best.

I didn’t realize today how many more stressors have impacted me within the past two weeks since the start of the CrossFit Open. especially since I’ve taken many measures in my life to reduce stressors and practice good self-care and recovery…

but I’m human.

and I’m not invincible.

Today I’m going to start a practice that helps me evaluate my key performances as an attempt to do so–void of emotion.

It’s going to be difficult, but it’ll help me.

I’ve always been a person naturally driven by emotion, but I’m learning more and more that there are times where this is applicable (e.g., working with people, showing compassion/empathy, growing relationships, pursuing a passion) and times where I need to remove myself from these emotions (e.g., evaluating a performance, analyzing data, making major decisions).

The method is called “Good, Better, Best” – I read about this practice in the book called The Champion’s Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train and Thrive.  It’s an objective way to debrief your work:  “1) What did I do that was good?  2) What can I do better?  3) How can I change so I can perform at my best?”  It’s not a new-age practice–we’ve probably done this many times in our lives.  My challenge is keeping it objective.

With that, here’s a personal debrief of my most recent Open workout: 18.2 & 18.2a (second attempt, after self-reflection and analysis of first performance)

18.2: On a 12-minute clock, For time: 1-10 of each movement: Dumbbell Squats (35# each hand) Bar-facing burpees


  • Saved time on transitions by not hesitating to pick up dumbbells after each round of burpees
  • Paced the beginning of the workout better; did not start too fast & burn out in round 7
  • Took RISK to reach the “red line” level, despite the pain building up
  • Improved overall time by 35 seconds


  • Improve “snappiness” of burpees off the ground for efficiency
  • Improve burpee jump when tired–make every rep the same–no questionable reps


  • Continue to surround self with positive energy and people–start with self.
  • FINISH every rep of every workout strong, and not sloppy.  This could be the difference in several seconds.  This needs to change in training.

18.2a: In the remainder of 12 minutes, find 1 rep max clean


  • Utilized squat clean from the start, rather than switching mid-way through attempts (from power to squat)
  • Executed 90% of 1 rep max after sprint workout WITHOUT dead stopping at the bottom of the squat


  • Be more conservative with lift jumps in the future, over 90%
  • Be prepared to ADAPT to the failed lifts and continue to attempt, at more conservative jumps
  • FINISH hip extension in clean, and get out of the bottom of the squat quickly on every clean; utilize “bounce” if needed


  • Come up with a game plan that is a back up to the game plan when things don’t go according to plan
  • Place focus on building squat strength in the off-season
  • Choose 1 technical aspect of the lift to focus on in each training session–overloading focal points may rush the process and prolong technical improvements

Looking forward to 18.3 and hoping for some gymnastics for us featherweight athletes!  You can expect a post regarding my good-better-best from this next one too.

How’d you do?