Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Power of Vulnerability

OK...Im gonna put my serious hat on for a minute here and continue to talk about some real life stuff, not training and food and funny stuff. Yeah, it'll connect to training at some point...
My blog has always been a reflection of me and my life so today I am stepping out of my OWN comfort zone and writing about being Vulnerable, while building on my last post about FEAR

FEAR: to be afraid of (something or someone)

VULNERABLE: open to attack, harm, or damage

2 very powerful words and 2 very powerful emotions. Scary stuff. Who wants to feel afraid and open to attack?? NOT ME. Im pretty sure you don't want to feel this way either...

I have spent a lot of time thinking about these two things the last 5 months and I have been working hard to face certain fears -- trying to find my way to that fragile and scary thing called VULNERABILITY, which is surrounded by thick walls, build out of bricks of FEAR. It can be a very difficult place to access...at least for me. I've been building these walls for a LONG time. Mostly to protect myself, my feelings and my sometimes too sensitive heart. It's easy to keep things under wraps and protected if you don't let anyone TOO FAR in...which in and of itself it SO super confusing to me because there are certain parts of my life where I AM FEARLESS and can allow myself to be as open and vulnerable as you can be. It's a paradox for me...the ying & yang of fearful/fearless Jen. 

It's ALMOST like I wear my heart on my sleeve, open to the world on some things and yet still protected by thick mortar on others. It's a process and it will take time to untangle.

As humans, we just want to be loved. To feel connected to others. 
But do we allow our TRUE, authentic self to thrive? do we create a persona that we feel we need to be to be accepted and loved?

EXCRUCIATING VULNERABILITY: the idea that we have to allow ourselves to be seen. 

But this FEAR and VULNERABILITY comes into play in SO many areas-not just connections with other people. 

This can apply to training and racing too! I see athletes do this ALL THE TIME when it comes to races and training...If you don't truly allow yourself to believe that you can break 2 hours in a half marathon or really qualify for that BQ time, if it doesn't happen, you won't be disappointed...will you? If you don't put ALL of your HEART and SOUL into it, it won't hurt as much if it doesn't happen.

I remember one year training for Quassy and I put ALL OF MY energy and heart into training for this race. I had very specific goals and I knew what I was going to do that day on the course. I had visualized it, my coach and I had it all mapped out. It was gonna be my day out there and I was going to finally PR that course and kick some major hilly ass. 

And it was my most horrible race ever. EVER. The temps all spring had been very cool and it was super hot on race day. My body shut down. And as my body shut down, my mind started to quit. I even considered DNF'ing. One the drive home to Maine, I sat there dejected. Hurt. Crushed. Disappointed. This wasn't the race I trained for...I called Coach and cried with her. I got over it eventually and I still race that course every year.  But what if I left FEAR of that hurt stop me from ever racing again? That would be SILLY. 

Makes sense...right?

It is the WILLINGNESS to do something that has no guarantees. And if you have the willingness and ability to put yourself out there and into a place where you might get hurt, you might "fail" or you might even end up winning big time. 

I am trying to be more and more aware of when I "shut down" and go into protect mode and I am learning that's it's ok to step into that very slippery place where I could fall and get hurt. 

It's very easy to hide behind the "i don't cares" when you really care very much. 
It's safe to say you don't want something when you want it so bad you can taste it, feel it. 

This is such an amazing breakdown of being vulnerable. I watch it all the time. It's a great reminder to me. Take time to watch this and think...

What makes YOU feel vulnerable?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


May 1st is around the corner and my part of the world is starting to wake from it's winter slumber. The air is getting warmer, the sun sits higher in the sky; the living things around me are starting to turn green and burst forth with new life. I am feeling the same as the budding magnolia tree in my yard, Im ready to embrace the sunshine and bloom. 

On the first day of this year, I talked about not needing a NEW YEAR to make new changes in your life and I want to remind you of that today. Here's that first entry of 2015 with a bit of summary:

Today is the first day of 2015. Lots of people will make resolutions to do this or do that.
Get organized. 
Lose weight.
Get a new job. 

Lots will follow that plan for a few weeks...or even a few months. Most will fall off and go back to what they know. Some will be successful with what their goals. Others will build habits that last a lifetime and inspire others to do the same.

I have a secret to tell you. YOU DO NOT NEED A NEW YEAR TO DO DIFFERENT.
Guess what you need? A new moment. A new day. A new hour. A new week. That's all you need. You can decide to make a positive change in your life ANYTIME you choose.

This past year has been one of learning and growing. At times, confusion and hurt. Loss.
I felt lost a few times...only to find my way back to "normal" as I always do. I am a fighter. A warrior.

I look back on my early days of change (which happened in September, by the way...) and I am so proud of myself for sticking with it...and I know that a new year wasn't needed. only a new attitude.

And now that I face 2015 with honest eyes...I have to let go of things that do not serve me. Of things that do not bring me joy and embrace scary change. being uncomfortable. New starts and new relationships.

It's easy to get stuck in comfortable just for the sake of being comfortable but when you take a deep, hard look at things...are you truly happy. or just in statis? homeostasis is a very easy place to be.

It's hard to be vulnerable. OPEN. abject to being hurt.

and I guess that is where I want to put myself.

But putting myself in the way of "harm" will also bring me to absolute happiness. JOY. Pleasure.

So I open my heart to "what ifs" and the unknown. The mystery of what lies ahead and possibility of being hurt in the process.

So...live fearless. Don't be scared of what the unknown can bring. Embrace the new. Work on yourself daily. There is no rest for improvement.


One challenge I created for myself in 2015 is to try and live a fearless life. Making the harder choices, not the easy ones. It's been a learning experience and it has opened my eyes to many things. 

It has also forced me into situations where facing my fears was the only option. It is so liberating to to FACE FEAR and come out the other side stronger. Braver. A survivor. I have already conquered SO MUCH...this final chapter of metamorphosis is one I embrace. The journey is never ending and I continue to grow and learn. 

Fearlessly - 

Fear in itself
Will reel you in and spit you out
Over and over again
Believe in yourself
And you will walk
Fear in itself
Will use you up and break you down
like you were never enough
I used to fall, now I get back up.

I'm up here
I'm looking at the way down there
I'm staring through the I don't care
It's staring back at me

The beauty is
I'm learning how to face my beast
Starting now to find some peace
Set myself free

What fears are holding you back?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

You Gotta Know Your Own Crazy: Own It

yesterday while fumbling thru the newsfeed on FB, I found this gem posted by some of my Rev3 buddies (Tracey, thank you!).

The last several months have been such a learning experience for me...processing things I thought I had let go of, learning what makes me tick...what I want and don't want out of life and those who are IN my life. It's been a difficult process and one that will take lots of time, but I am embracing it and love learning more every day. 

I had to share this (excuse the profanity if it offends you)...

OWN YOUR SHIT via Elizabeth Gilbert
 (the author of six books of fiction and non-fiction—most famously her memoir "Eat, Pray, Love")
Dear Ones -
Oh how I love this drawing, sent to me last week by a friend of this page who knows me so very well, and who thought I would like it.

Hell yes, I do like it!
The artist is a woman named Carrie Hilgert, Artist . From what I understand, the character shown here is somebody named Myrtle, who, in the words of her creator, "doesn't give two fucks."
I love this character. I love Myrtle's posture, her attitude, her self-assurance. "What Would Myrtle Do?" is perhaps not such a bad question upon which to base your life
One thing I can tell you about Myrtle? SHE OWNS HER SHIT.
You guys, for serious, it's very important that you learn how to own your shit. At some point in your life, you really have to get honest about the weirdest and most damaged and most broken parts of your existence, and take responsibility for it all...lovingly, but unblinkingly.
Or, as Iyanla Vanzant puts it: "I know my crazy. Do you know your crazy?"
You gotta know your own crazy. Can't own your shit without knowing your crazy.
For many years, I didn't own my shit because I didn't KNOW my shit. If you don't know your shit, people, then that shit will control you and make your life into Crazy Town. Until you own your shit, all you do is make excuses for the madness that is always surrounding you, while throwing blame around like confetti.
By this point in my life, though, I know the worst of me. I know the triggers that make me into a temporarily insane person. I know my vulnerabilities and my pride. I know the stuff that makes me want to deceive, and the stuff that makes me vindictive, and the stuff that makes me insecure, and the stuff that makes me just flat-out mean and ugly. And I definitely know all my demons by their first names.
This is what therapy does — helps you to learn your shit, inside and out. This is what meditation is for. This is what recovery is for. This is what reconciling the contradictions of your life is for. This is what radical honesty is for. This is what the courage of truthful introspection is for.
Owning your shit begins to happen the moment you finally recognize that the common denominator in all your biggest problems is YOU.
Not them: YOU.
It's a beautiful, humbling, necessary realization. It's an education. It's painful. It's the beginning of adulthood. It's pretty much the definition of maturity.
And then you take a deep breath and say, "OK, I admit it. It's me. That's my crazy shit. I own it. Now what?"
Then, the work begins.
You might or might not be able to change it, but at least you gotta own it.
That doesn't mean abusing yourself: it just means taking accountability. Own your shit with love and perspective and self-compassion...but definitely own it.
Don't worry if other people are owning their shit or not. That isn't your problem. Just own yours. Keep your side of the street clean and honest, and rest of it is none of your business.
Just be honest and real. Like Myrtle. Who I freaking love.
Please do check out Carrie's blog, too, where, JOY OF JOYS, you can order this as a t-shirt:
Thank you, Carrie, for this fabulous creation!
Thank you, Myrtle, for being awesome.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

#TriDailyChallenge WIN FREE RACE ENTRIES to Challenge!

So how stoked do you think I was when I found out that Rev3 would be joining forces with Challenge to become ONE giant, awesome family!!?? I was super stoked...being an avid fan of Chrissy Wellington, I was well aware of Challenge races, especially ROTH for a long time. Knowing the clout that this company carries around the WORLD of triathlon, I was excited to see what the future would hold...and what would happen to my beloved Rev3 Team.

Lucky for US (the team) Challenge kept the team intact and we were able to expand our team to Canada and Mexico! Summit this year was again, amazing...and I did not suffer from food poisoning like I did last year!! UGH...it was a blast and I love the new additions to our team. 

The Challenge Family is ROLLING right into 2015 with some fun stuff. On Monday, they started the #TriDailyChallenge. Check it out: 

It Starts TODAY! Everyday for 30 days, we will present a NEW challenge for you. The FIRST Week is all about Getting Focused and Organized with the New Year.

2/9 TRI-DAILY CHALLENGE #1: List your TOP 5 goals you want to achieve in 2015. Jot it on a Post It, or add to your Notes App, or write it on computer and print it. Place it somewhere where you can look at it everyday to be reminded of your goals and what actions you need to do. Whether next to bathroom mirror, computer, or on refrigerator—take a PHOTO and and UPLOAD it to Instagram or Twitter or email/upload through this ENTRY PAGE www.TRIDAILYCHALLENGE.com. Be sure to use Hashtag ‪#‎TRIDAILYCHALLENGE‬ to be entered for chance to Win FREE Challenge Family race!

I just LOVE today's #TriDailyChallenge

2/11 TRI-DAILY CHALLENGE # 3: Wake Up Productive.
Now that you have your goals (do challenge #1)—how are you going to realize them? A trait that highly successful people have in common is having a morning ritual they follow every day. A productive morning routine will help clear your mind, energize you, and prepare you for a successful day ahead. 

Whether your routine is waking up at 5:00 AM; drinking a glass of water to hydrate; meditating for 10 minutes; doing a morning workout, eating a healthy breakfast, walking your dogs, and starting work etc. — Your morning ritual will anchor you, keep you focused, and improve your PRODUCTIVITY.

UPLOAD a photo of your new morning ritual to Instagram or Twitter or email/upload through this ENTRY PAGE: www.TRIDAILYCHALLENGE.com. Be sure to use Hashtag #TRIDAILYCHALLENGE to be entered for chance to Win FREE Challenge Family race!

Here is my entry for today:

I go to be early each night because I wake up early...way too early for most, every day. My day starts at 3:15am when I check emails, drink my tea or coffee, wake up and enjoy the quiet silence of the morning.

I think of my goals for the day, the planned classes/clients and my own workouts. I do some positive reflection and think about my goals; for the day-the week-the month-the season. 

I pack up my giant gym bag with all the essentials I need for the day (water, electrolytes, snacks, protein shakes, gear for swim/bike/run/lift) then it's off the the gym for 5am most every day. 

I love getting up early and attacking the day. I enjoy having accomplished so much by 10am. 

This month, the focus is on getting back to a normal training schedule, keeping the nutrition clean and getting to my body composition goals. IT'S BEEN A GREAT WEEK SO FAR!!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Fitness & Fat Loss, Essential Tips

Wow...so the last several months of life have been trying, chaotic, and stressful. I wasn't focused on the things that make my body healthy and strong-like training and nutrition. I LOVE these things and feel best when I fuel my body well and push myself or try new things.

I am happy to say that I have been back on track the last couple weeks and I FEEL AMAZING> it's funny how much it all impacts my daily being and how I feel.

Since my "return" to a training plan and eating clean, I have dropped 9.4 lbs of body fat. All from working hard each session, a balance of cardio and weight training AND keeping the eats clean. I am also tracking what I am putting into my body. 
YES...and the abs are returning. Hello my little friends...

I have started training for the 2015 Challenge Triathlon season AND as well as the Maine Coast Marathon 39.3 Mile Challenge (half marathon on Saturday, marathon on Sunday). If you want to join us for the Maine Coast Marathon (half, full, relay, challenge...use DISCOUNT CODE JenSmall and save some $$ off your race registration).

The biggest factors in my nutrition is:
A) meal prep and planning 
B) clean supplements.

Meal Prep and Meal Planning 

If you are looking to lose weight OR your are a time crunched athlete looking to optimize your performance, knowing what you are eating is KEY! When you "wing it" meal to meal with out a plan or an idea of what you are going to put into your body, that is when the pitfalls of unhealthy choices becomes a hazard.

Go into your week with a plan of what you will eat and invest some time into yourself to do a little preparation. Today (Sunday) is that day for me.

I baked a whole hormone-free chicken and then separated all the meat, cooking down the bones for stock. Hard boiled eggs are cooked & peeled, ready to grab & go from the fridge. Veggies are ready for salads, snacks and meals. I just LOVE Olivia's Organics baby lettuces and baby spinach. Easy peasy...

From the stock, I will make THIS soup via Cooking Classy :

Chicken Avocado Lime Soup
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Yield: About 6 servings
  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts*
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped green onions (including whites, mince the whites)
  • 2 jalapeƱos, seeded and minced (leave seeds if you want soup spicy, omit if you don't like heat)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 (14.5 oz) cans low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 3 medium avocados, peeled, cored and diced
  • Tortilla chips, monterrey jack cheese, sour cream for serving (optional)

Add Swanson® Flavor Boost® For More Flavor
  • In a large pot heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add green onions and jalapenos and saute until tender, about 2 minutes, adding garlic during last 30 seconds of sauteing. Add chicken broth, tomatoes, cumin, season with salt and pepper to taste and add chicken breasts. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Then reduce heat to medium, cover with lid and allow to cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken has cooked through 10 - 15 minutes (cook time will vary based on thickness of chicken breasts). Reduce burner to warm heat, remove chicken from pan and let rest on a cutting board 5 minutes, then shred chicken and return to soup. Stir in cilantro and lime juice. Add avocados to soup just before serving (if you don't plan on serving the soup right away, I would recommend adding the avocados to each bowl individually, about 1/2 an avocado per serving). Serve with tortilla chips, cheese and sour cream if desired.
  • *For thicker chicken breasts, cut breasts in half through the length (thickness) of the breasts, they will cook faster and more evenly.

Clean Supplements

Let's face it. Im busy. You're busy. When I am burning 2-3k cals a day on a long training session, refueling is definitely important. How much is just as important as when when it comes to food. I keep it as clean as I can (veggies, fruits, lean proteins, complex carbs) but when you are eating 5-6 meals per day, that can be a challenge. 

For the last year I have been using the cleanest supplements I can find and my body definitely knows the difference. My energy is always SO high when I am fueling well and recovering properly. 

My favorite post workout shake not only delivers 36 grams of organic undenatured whey, but I am also getting balanced macros and replenishing my body so I can go and smash it again the next day. 

So what does a typical day look like for me?? Here is Sunday's food.

Woke up at 3:30am, first thing is stumble to the kitchen and get my liquids in me! I had my ionix, (first thing! on an empty tummy) and a cup of Morning Thunder tea> I will also drink 16 oz of water. 

Pre-workout: 1 scoop IsaLean PRO(vanilla), 1 Scoop IsaGreens and 1 scoop Replenish (orange) mixed with water. I also had 20 oz of water. I took my daily vits and my Powerbar Beta Alanine.

Off to the gym to run. It was snowing again so I opted for the treadmill. Today's run was 12 miles and then I did a quick/easy 30 mins
My fuel while running was 20 oz of water, 20 oz of Powerbar Perform in Lemon/Lime, 1 Powerbar fruit blend (which I did not consume, did not need it felt really good) and 1/2 an e+shot

Post-workout (meal #1): 1 IsaLean PRO shake (vanilla) with 1 TB coconut oil, 1 TB chia seeds, 1 frozen banana, 1/2 cup frozen strawberries. 

Meal #2: 6 oz chicken breast with chili/lime hot sauce, celery and a giant scoop of 12 spice hummus. 

Meal #3: 4 Triscuits (Garden Herb), cucumber slices with 1/3 cup of salsa. So not totally clean here but I wanted a couple crackers with my salsa.

Meal #4: a bowl homemade soup (see above) with MORE salsa on top!

Meal #5: a big salad with mixed greens, chicken, green chilis and salsa, avocado

I was totally craving salsa all day!! I got this super awesome spicy cilantro salsa which was fantastic...I even added a bunch to my soup. 

My macros for the day:
Carbs 97g
Protein 194
Fat 29g
Sugars 28g

Monday, February 2, 2015

Shimmer Suit Snow Angels & Soups!

More snow in Maine today, expecting another foot or so. The entire area has cancelled school and the Y even closed so no work for me today...it's a SNOWDAY!

Yesterday, I took advantage of the sunny weather to play outside...

After a treadmill session of 8.5 miles, it was time to suit up and hit the pool BUT there would be one quick pit stop before swimming.


Have you seen this contest on the Challenge Family page??

Of course, I had to join in on the fun!!

a post snow angel celebration and sprint out of the snow...here's the video of the whole thing.


So on snow days I cannot think of anything I like more than soups & stews! They are easy, economical. I wanted to share my very favorite veggie based soup/stew that is a staple in my home. Even lola loves it!!

I stumbled on this on The Gracious Pantry last year and it's in rotation since...click the link and it will take you right to the recipe!!

Clean Eating Chickpea, Sweet Potato and Spinach Stew

want to up the protein content, add some chicken breast! So easy and versatile.

Just a hint, I don't add spinach to the stew, I just put a big handful of baby spinach in the bottom of a big soup bowl and top with the hot stew. The spinach wilts and it does not get bitter in the left overs.

I love a squeeze of lemon, a dash of hot sauce and a little bit of cilantro on top. MMM

Friday, January 30, 2015

Got Snow? My NEW Favorite Way to CROSSTRAIN

So living in Maine, it's no shocker that we get snow storms. Lots of them. Frequently. It actually makes me laugh when there is a Nor'Easter or Blizzard coming to town and everyone freaks out.
You do know you live in Maine right?
This isn't South Carolina!!

Anyway, it's been a pretty calm winter here thus far and we got hammered with our first significant storm of the year this week. Over 2 feet of snow, howling winds and some drifts that are quite big. Some spots, the snow is overhead.

A couple weeks ago I ventured out to try something new--SNOWSHOEING.
I picked up a pair of Atlas running/race snowshoes last winter and only used them a few times, short little jaunts around my "home field" only. So when the opportunity arose to really go get out, I took it.

the view of "Indian in the Mountain" from the frozen pond

My first foray into the wooded mountains was spectacular! It was a bright, sunny day and sky was bright blue. I was in awe of just how pretty the Western Maine mountains were from my new perspective (vs. a ski lift or slope). I had an experienced Guide and we traversed through trails, blasted through the 3 feet of fallen snow to make our own, crossed a frozen pond and even jumped over a small brook. I had a blast and I could NOT wait to do it again.
I am pretty sure I had a smile on my face the entire time.

I was excited to try this again...and SOON!

Sunday rolled around and I had 10 mile run scheduled. Another sunny day and I was feeling a bit nostalgic for the fun I had in the mountains. So I rallied my training partner to hit the trails instead of the roads. I figured a good 5 mile snowshoe trek would be great cross training & a good way for me to get lost in the woods.

I forgot to wear my GPS and track my distance on my first "real" time out but I wouldn't forget it this time!

 We drove out to the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust and  hit up the trails I run in the summer. It all started out LOVELY...some running on the snowshoes, some trekking, some getting off the trails to make our own in the deep powder. The trails are very well marked and easy to follow. Once we got a few miles into the woods, the trails disappeared but there were some lone ski tracks to follow.

Now, I am open about being directionally challenged. And apparently I cannot add either.
What started out as a 5 mile adventure started to tick away the miles...and as I compared the map to what we had covered already, I was starting to see that we would be getting a bit more than 5 miles in...5 was 6, then 7, then 7.5...we finally got back to the trailhead a bit over 9 miles in.

The last couple miles were fatiguing for sure...especially considering we ran at the start for a bit...and we only brought 1 bottle of water with us.

That didn't matter. All I can say is, I got lost in the woods for 2.5 hours.
I pushed my body, which I always enjoy.
And it was a beautiful day. 
I was able to leave behind the stress of the week and simply enjoy the quiet of nature.
The beauty of the fallen snow.
The sun on my face. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Maine Blueberry Cobbler Smoothie

I supplement with protein shakes frequently, most days daily-they are easy, tasty and deliver the macros I need without a lot of planning and cooking. Im busy, I like being able to put quality, organic protein into my body that has no garbage or fake stuff. Plus, they are economical. 

I personally use Isagenix IsaLean PRO, but you can use whatever protein powder you like. The Greens listed is also an supplement that I use daily (hello 9 servings of GREENS in one scoop...amazing!). I have tried other green supplements and honestly, hated the taste. The taste of these greens is very mild and mixes well with any flavor shake or smoothie, also mixes well with water just to drink. No strong "green" taste like I've had with other brands.

I am totally digging good fats lately and my 2 favs are avocados and coconut oils. 

I love creating new recipes and ways to enjoy shakes and smoothies. This is one I threw together today and it was a BIG thumbs up!! So I wanted to share...

Wild Maine Blueberry Cobbler Smoothie

10 oz water
6 ice cubes
1/2 a frozen banana, cut into chunks
1/2 cup frozen Wild Maine Blueberries*
1 TBSP Organic Coconut Oil
1 package Isagenix Isalean PRO Vanilla
(or a serving of your favorite Vanilla protein powder)
1 scoop Greens (optional)
Just a dash of quality cinnamon
A splash of Simply Organic Almond Extract
(no exact measurements on these last 2, sorry...it was literally a dash and splash)

Put into a blender and GO!!

I have tons of frozen blueberries from the summer, both WILD and conventional high bush berries...this just happens to be what I grabbed today. So why WILD blueberries?  

*Wild Maine Blueberries vs. Conventional Blueberries

wild Maine blueberries on the Left, conventional high bush on the right 

Learn more about wild blueberries here: http://www.wildblueberries.com/the-better-blueberry/faq/


What's your favorite smoothie or shake recipe? 

What's your favorite blueberry recipe?