Fitness Reality Check: Cardio or Strength First?


This debate on whether to do cardio or strength training first has come up a lot recently and even clients have asked me what they should do first.

As if reading their minds, ACE recently put out an article which addressed this very issue. While giving scientific studies on the issue and a handy little chart, I couldn’t help but come away with my own answer to this question after reading this article.

Who cares?!

In a society where we have shown time and again that most people lead a sedentary lifestyle thanks to technology and the workplace, where if you sit like a good little employee you are commended for appearances of productivity. If you walk around for any reason, you’re not getting your job done.

In a society where P.E. has been ripped from the school programs in favor of forcing kids and adolescents to sit more and not exercise out their bottled up energy which I believe not only is contributing to the obesity in kids but also frustrating teachers who are dealing with the effects this has on their students.

As a personal trainer who works with a variety of clients at a variety of levels, I’m just happy to hear my clients tell me they exercised on their own during the week and not just for our session together. In 99% of my clients’  workouts, I infuse cardio with strength training. Where’s that combination in the chart? Honestly, my job at the end of the day is to get people to MOVE.

For the sake of trying to prove the point that exercise is important, I feel the fitness professional community has become a little too complicated and reached a little too far with all these scientific studies. Sure, a fitness professional like myself may want to have this information at my disposal so that I can better design my clients’ programs and provide evidence-based and informed answers to clients. But at the end of the day, when I have clients asking me because they’re afraid they’re not doing their workout in the right order, I have to say it plainly.

It just doesn’t matter.

Understanding that most exercise, especially running, is psychological, a large part of my job is being a psychologist at times. I have to help my clients navigate through tough times when working out is at the end of the to-do list, either because of work schedules, family time, and heavy marathon training schedules. I have to get to the bottom mental line at figuring out how I can help them stay motivated and motivate themselves. Some days I feel like a therapist, priest, bartender and trainer/coach!

I work with real people out there not Olympic athletes. And while I do feel that this information may be valid and valuable, it throws out common sense. Haven’t we confused enough people already? First, eggs were bad for you. Now, they are the perfect food and contain all the nutrients we need. Before, nuts symbolized fat and if you ate one you may as well expect to gain a lot of weight. Now, they are a great snack and source of good fats so long as you don’t have too many. Practicing moderation in consumption is not science. It is common sense.

So, let’s get to the bottom line. I don’t care what my clients do in what order so long as they are doing something to move their bodies and get their heart rate up and keep it up for at least 30 minutes, even if it’s 10 minutes at a time. Got 10? Run around the block a few times or get a mile in. Not all my clients have a solid hour in a day to exercise, and neither do I some days.

Sometimes, workouts are broken up into segments and as long as we’re getting 30 minutes to an hour in each day, there are health benefits. What we should be doing is encouraging movement with a combination of strength, cardio and flexibility.

I certainly don’t want to discourage people by thinking if they are trying to lose weight but they do cardio first that they won’t lose a pound so then they give up or don’t even try. I can assure you that all my clients who began initially working with me and needed to lose weight lost weight because they started to move their bodies and burn calories, regardless of the order of workout.

I also don’t want to break the bad news to my running clients training for their next marathon that they’re going to bomb in their race if they’re not running before they do weights.

So, let’s be real. Whether you run first and do weights later or vice versa, do what you can when you can as long as you are doing something.

Let’s encourage people to just get started, shall we?

Run Like an Olympian!

“I had as many doubts as anyone else. Standing on the starting line, we’re all cowards.”
-Alberto Salazar, three-time winner of the NYC marathon

I recently had the privilege of meeting Hazel Clark, 3-time Olympic Runner. I was attending the Women’s Leadership Forum presented by the Atlanta Business Chronicle and The Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University. As we gathered to eat lunch after attending some wonderful breakout sessions on women in business, the hostess introduced Hazel and she rose to speak to us about her transition from career runner to career motivator and Health and Wellness Ambassador. The more she spoke about her experience, the more I nodded my head until I almost nodded it right off my body. See, she conveyed what all running coaches know and what I try to drill into my clients’ heads also.

2015-04-17 13.29.00

Have a short-term memory. Hazel shared how she almost let a failure set her back and take from her an enormous Olympic win. Failing is part of life. But wallowing in that failure is going to rob life from you. You can’t let failure have the last word. Forget about it and move on. Keep running towards that goal. If you trip and fall along the way, get up and keep going.

Have a champion mindset. A champion mindset sees the goal and keeps moving towards it. Using that short-term memory, staying positive and continuing to work at achieving the goal rather than giving up entirely. Turn that negative outcome into something positive and learn from any mistakes along the way. Those mistakes or failures are part of learning success. Whether you come in first or last, running will teach you many of life’s greatest lessons in dealing with setbacks and staying the course.

Leave it all on the track. Simply put, do your best – every time. We all know when we’re not giving it our all. Always give it all. Just when you think you don’t have anything left, there’s still a little bit left to give or a little farther you can run. Sure, some days we’re just tired, distracted, or not feeling well. But always give everything you can. I never regret a workout. Apart from illness, I always regret not doing one. While I never condone running through an injury or running when resting is necessary, sticking to a training plan is key to running success.

Take the first step. My specialty is working with women who are beginning runners or who want to take it to the next level. I want women to not be afraid to try because they’re too intimidated by those who are always winning races. I want these ladies to know that running is very personal and every person who gets up and tries and finishes is a winner! A huge part of life is finishing the drill. Some only want to win awards, but most just want to enjoy it and run injury-free and enjoy the journey (and scenery) that comes with running. Running smart is the best running!

It’s comforting to know that even Olympic runners experience the exact same struggles that those of us who will never go to the Olympics experience. No matter the pace, no matter the race, we’ve all found this common ground.

For more info on how to get started with running or improve, email me at!

March Madness Giveaway – Esprit de She Cycling Jersey!

10313620_10153142926399222_3114176342017361121_n There’s still time to get moving with this awesome cycling jersey by registering through March 31 for any 2015 GILDAN Esprit de She event using referral code EDS037! I have THREE jerseys to giveaway. Here’s how to win:

  1. Sign up for ANY Esprit de She event using my ambassador code: EDS037.
  2. Comment on this blog post that you’re registered.
  3. Three randomly selected winners on April 1 will be announced here!

*Only those registered in the month of March (2015) are qualified to be entered into the contest.

Your cycling jersey will arrive before April 30! GOOD LUCK! :-)

2015-03-23 14.14.532015-03-23 14.15.16

Marathon Recap and Recovery

“I had as many doubts as anyone else. Standing on the starting line, we’re all cowards.” -Alberto Salazar, three-time winner of the NYC marathon


Finally a Marathon Girl!

It has finally happened. I have completed my first full marathon. I’ve run several half marathons and shorter distance races, but now the journey to go all the way has been achieved.

It might seem ironic that I haven’t run a full marathon as a running coach but as I share with my clients, all of whom have completed full marathons, a full marathon is a a much bigger commitment of time and effort. Know what you’re getting into and commit to it.

With my schedule being one of juggling multiple jobs, giving my time to others and their events rather than being able to focus on my own personal goals has been my focus. I have coached many others to their marathon running success, but now it was my turn.


Pumped and ready to Start!

Last autumn, I was able to find the right marathon for the right, preferred running climate (winter and cold temps – yay!) and at the right time before the rest of my year is jam packed full of hosting events (starting in April) and training others to their running success and the the rest of life as I know it.


Mile 17 – feeling lucky!

In short, I picked the best race I could ever have hoped to have run as my first marathon on March 15, The Asheville Marathon. I knew about the race because my husband and I got married in Asheville last year around the same time as the race and I had seen their flyers around town.

The race is held entirely on the Biltmore Estate grounds, we had perfect and beautiful running weather, and the entire experience could not have been better. The volunteers were amazing and so energized. Even the runners were encouraging as we passed each other on “out and back” parts of the course. I found myself along with other runners snapping pictures along the way and just enjoying 26.2 miles as much as possible. Would I return? Absolutely.


About Mile 14-15 – beautiful countryside

I even surprised my husband at how well I felt afterwards. I never hit “the wall.” I hit a wind (full on gusting) in the last 3 miles that slowed me down a bit at the end but I was not in any pain and had only some tightness and fatigue afterwards but I’ve recovered nicely. After all, I’m a running coach so I was as prepared as they come! :-) Nevertheless, a trip to the Biltmore Winery after finishing definitely helped move my recovery along! :-)


Cheers to Finishing!

As part of my recovery, last Friday I FINALLY redeemed a massage certificate that was a Christmas gift because it was time to iron some of those running kinks out. I’m a big believer in massage therapy! I could probably have one massage a day for a month before returning to normal because like it or not, life in general, as well as running, can wreak havoc on a body. (Unfortunately I can’t afford that many!) And until the massage therapist finds that “spot” where pain is good because those muscle adhesions are being worked out, you don’t always realize just how tight and overactive your muscles are.

As I’m winding down my 2-week rest phase from the marathon with absolutely no running, I’ve already started registering and picking out other events for 2015! No, there are no more full marathons on the schedule for the year. But, I’m excited to think about what’s next in my personal race agenda as well as looking forward to the next massage!

For tips on race or personal training or recovery from a marathon or other distance event, email me at! :-)


“If You See Me Collapse, Pause My Garmin!” – Tracking Fitness in the Digital Age

activity_tracker2 If you’re a runner, I bet you’ve seen this phrase on a t-shirt somewhere! With the boom of technology over the past couple of decades, it’s no wonder that tracking fitness has moved beyond pen and paper to fit around our wrists or clipped to our clothing. Although I actually have met people who still keep a running journal and write down their running and fitness workouts, most of us have become dependent on GPS watches or web applications to track our routes, mileage, paces, and even our heart rates. And if these devices and apps don’t work, we can look a little like a runner stopped at a red light: impatient, fuming and frustrated! Why?

  1. Time. We may all have the same 24/7 available to us, but we can’t always dictate what needs to happen and when. The last thing I need as a runner is to sit down and write out all my workouts when I’m done. After all, that’s a lot of information that gets collected just by me acquiring the satellites and hitting the start button.
  2. Math. Not all of us are math majors. Again, a lot of info gets collected and algorithms behind pace per mile with distance. I start having flashbacks to pre-algebra (that I had to take over twice), and I break out in a cold sweat just thinking about calculations. I’d much rather sweat during my workout!
  3. Measurable Data. Taking the info that has been collected and being able to visually see improvements is definitely a motivational tool. While I was not a math major, even I know the difference between a faster and slower pace per mile. It’s also interesting to see how many estimated calories I burned during a workout to keep my nutritional plan on track!

With all the devices and apps available to us, it can be confusing to find out which ones to buy and/or use. Make sure you do your research and don’t buy anything that you know you probably won’t use. If you “might” use it on some occasions, then you probably won’t. For example, when I bought my Garmin, I paid extra for the heart rate strap. I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve used it. Someone with heart health issues or someone training in their heart rate zone would probably benefit from having one rather than myself. Just because you can pay for an extra “nicety” doesn’t mean you will actually get your money’s worth. Be realistic in what you’ll need. Start with something inexpensive and work your way up to something with more bells and whistles as you become familiar. As far as web applications go, know that you probably won’t use just one so register for a couple of different sites and see which ones you favor. To map a route out beforehand, I use MapMyRun on my computer then share the route with friends who can access the app on their phone.

To network with other runners and increase community engagement and track my events and workouts that are redeemable for fun rewards, I use cMEcompete. With the increase in health technology companies are also getting on board, for example, Oscar Health Insurance offers health insurance in New Jersey and New York and gives their members free Misfit Bands! They can sync them to the Oscar app and earn cash rewards whenever they meet their personalized health goals!

The key is to find what you enjoy and fits your fitness goals and needs. Also, remember that technology is not infallible. Sometimes it just doesn’t work and you might find yourself cursing the satellites above for not connecting. Instead of getting frustrated, I’ve learned to use those days to leave my Garmin and my cares behind and just go out and enjoy the run, GPS-free! _71692576_186259032 What’s your favorite GPS device and web application to keep you motivated?

Biting Off More than You Can Chew – A Look at New Year’s Resolutions



From the Facebook posts I’ve seen and from previous experience working in a gym environment, it sounds like many people this week are flooding the gyms and are gung-ho on their resolutions to lose weight through exercise and diets. How about you? What are your health and fitness resolutions for the year? And what are you doing to make those resolutions stick?


4e666ab3c95715aab9f8d7b25fe78a4f_50d1f0fcdb2d5We all know that by February, most people have given up what they were so revved up about on January 1 because “this time” they were going to stick with it. If you’re one of those few people who have stuck with it by next January, then I will applaud you. But, why wait until January 1? I cannot tell you how many people I have talked to who were “ready this time” to lose the weight and get in shape come January only to give out of steam and give up within a couple of weeks.

When the workouts have lost their luster, it’s time to sweat and take it to the next level, most people give up. They don’t want to do the work to get the results or they’ve tried to change too much. We’re creatures of habits so changing, replacing or giving up bad habits takes time. And we generally have more than one bad habit contributing to our lack of goal success.

More often that not, we bite off more than we can chew and want to achieve too much too soon. When that doesn’t happen and we don’t see instant long lasting results with as little work as possible, we’re done.

Unfortunately, staying healthy and fit requires making fitness and eating well part of a daily routine for a lifetime. It’s not about losing five pounds for a high school reunion. It’s about making incremental lifestyle changes so that you don’t have to worry about losing those pounds for one party every five or ten years. You’ll be ready anytime you receive a party invitation!

How do you stick with your goals “this time”? I’ll give you One tip. Just one.

Big Journeys Begin With Small Steps

Start small. It’s better to take a larger goal and break it down into smaller steps than to try and change your whole life all at once. And once you gain success with a small step, move on to the next one!

Want to eat better and lose weight? Instead of replacing all of your pantry full of all healthy items which you may or may not know what to do with or how to prepare, try making one change to your pantry that will help. If candy is your vice, don’t buy any to keep at home. Skip that aisle at the grocery store. If you have a doughnut for breakfast, eat oatmeal or switch to a healthier alternative instead. Are you a carboholic? While carbs are not inherently evil, some types of carbs can do bad things to your body when taken in copious amounts. Start including a side salad with your meals or incorporate a fruit smoothie snack during the day to add fruits and vegetables to your diet. Do you head for the vending machine at 3 pm? Get up and avoid that part of the office entirely. Go for a walk outside. Have a cup of tea. Call your mother. Do something, anything, other than repeat the same habit.

Want to start working out and get in better shape? Sign up for a weekly class rather than trying to hit the gym 7 days a week. Pick something fun that a friend can join in, too. And if you’re worried about looking silly in the class, believe me everyone else is thinking the same thing. That is one thing I can say about having worked in gyms, most everyone is thinking of their own workout and not yours! Sign up for a 5K in the spring to keep you motivated at least until then because by spring, we’re all thinking about beaches and bikinis! Basically, start with something that can easily fit into your schedule than do a complete schedule makeover.


Need an example of how to start small? This year, I’ve made one change to my morning routine to help my day get going a little easier. I started using the automatic brewing option on my coffeemaker. (I do not know why I have not used it before!) I set it up in the evening while I’m cleaning up dinner so I don’t have to deal with it in the morning. It makes such a difference to my day when the coffee is already going for me. It gives me those extra few minutes to plan my day, which I have been trying to find. And who doesn’t want to wake up to the smell of freshly brewing coffee?!

Sounds easy, right? The point is that when you break a larger goal down to smaller steps then start implementing them a little at a time, you suddenly will find yourself sticking with those resolutions. Starting small may seem so easy, but we tend to look at the overall picture as some insurmountable mountain to climb instead of one step forward at a time.

List 3 goals for this year then list small steps on how to achieve them. Now pick ONLY ONE of those steps and get to work! :-) 

Need help on achieving your running and fitness goals? Email me at for a free fitness consultation.


Fitting Fitness into Parenthood – Part 2


So now that you’ve had a month to put into practice some of the suggestions from Part 1, how is it going? Hopefully, you’ve had more successes than not and have started to see how structuring our calendars as much as possible is key to getting things done. It’s been said that it’s easier to achieve a goal when you write it down. That same principle can be applied here as well.

Now that you’ve seen the nuts and bolts of fitting it in, how do you fit it in when you’re new to parenthood or new to fitness as a parent? The key is to do what you can do today. Some of us have been there in the gym on January 2nd. It’s full of all the new resolution makers to lose weight and shape up and they hit it hard. Then mid-February hits and pretty much anything and everything gets in the way of the calendar.

It’s like in running long distance. If you start out too fast you will burn out more easily. So start out with a realistic goal and go from there rather than try to overcompensate for what you haven’t been doing. Also, it’s important not to overdo it if you’re deconditioned to avoid injury!

If you’re getting (back) into fitness as a parent, here are a few tips to get you started!

  1. Focus first on posture! Holding an 8 – 10 pound weight (or more!) can really wreak havoc on posture. Just like when we’ve been told to switch sides where we hold our purses, start switching sides that you hold your little one to balance out the strengths and weaknesses. Incorporate Kegel exercises and drawing your navel into your spine as much as possible during the day to reactivate those abs!
  2. Invest in an ergonomic baby carrier! You can’t put a price on your health and while it may not seem related to health and fitness, how you carry any kind of weight is going to change your body position and could potentially lead to injury and/or chronic pain. And don’t forget to keep your legs, glutes, and core engaged when lifting, carrying and holding your bundle of joy. The baby should not be holding you; you should be holding the baby!
  3. Use that jogging stroller to your advantage and as a workout prop! This is an important time to build your energy back up in order to develop endurance and stamina. Starting with 20 – 30 minutes per day of exercise is a great way to start off slowly without overdoing it. After all, you want to increase your energy not zap it before you get a chance to start! As your energy increases and you feel ready for the next level, continue to add on time to your cardio fitness regiment and increasing strength for postural stability and joint mobility. You’ll know it’s time to step it up when it’s all too easy! And don’t be afraid of the next challenge!

Looking for some personalized guidance to fitting fitness into parenthood in person or online? Contact me at!