What I Learned From Completing A Spartan Beast

What I Learned From Completing A Spartan Beast

After finishing a Spartan Sprint in January, my husband, our friend Cameron, and I all decided that we wanted to get our Trifecta medals. What this means, is that we would need to complete a Spartan Sprint, Super, and Beast within one calendar year. Easy, right?

If you know nothing about Spartan Races, here’s a quick rundown:

*Image from spartan.com

Almost immediately following our Sprint we went online and looked up the closest Super and Beast so that we could reach full badassery and get our Trifecta medals. Because of the locations and timing, we ended up needing to book our Beast (the hardest race) before our Super. But hey. no biggie. We’re badasses now, remember?


We had been doing a fairly decent job at training until I came down with something that had me unable to do any extreme exercise for about a month. So walking into this race, I was nervous.

The Beast took place in Big Bear at the Snow Summit Ski Resort and it was the first time they had ever used the location, meaning that even seasoned vets didn’t know what to expect.

The moment my eyes met the mountain I was petrified, which clearly showed because Derek nudged me to take a quick minute to meditate and get right with myself.

Before I knew it, our time slot was being called to the bullpen and the announcer was leading us all in a Spartan chant.


Suddenly, we were off and headed up an almost perpendicular hill. Within minutes (and I do mean minutes), I had already gotten inside my head.

My breathing quickened, my legs trembled, and I felt like I was going to pass out.


There was no way I would complete this race, I couldn’t even make it up the very first hill.

Thankfully, Derek knows me almost better than I know myself and he came rushing over, urging me to place my hands above my head and breathe deeply.

Deep breaths, mama. Deep breaths. 

After the panic attack subsided we began moving again and finally reached the top of the hill, only to find another one immediately waiting for us—as steep as the last.

I placed my hands on top of my thighs, using force to keep them moving as I trudged up the mountain. Again, the “top” turned out to be a ridge and up we went some more.

After climbing for about 50 minutes with only a very small decline in-between, we came across an absolutely gut-wrenching sign. It said:



My heart sank into my chest.

There is no way I’m going to be able to finish this 12-mile race.

I felt ashamed, embarrassed, and defeated.

Why did I think I could do this? We climbed for another mile until we finally reached the sandbag obstacle, which, big surprise, included more climbing.

I began my mantras for the umpteenth time in the hour and a half since we started.





My face says it all. The internal struggle hit its peak right here.

I reached the top of the hill, dropped my sandbag, and sat down. I still had to bring it all the way down, but I needed a moment to catch my breath.

Derek and Cameron were already at the bottom of the hill waiting for me and I didn’t want to slow them down anymore, but I couldn’t find the strength to stand back up.

But then I looked around me and saw all of the faces of these men and women carrying their sandbags—covered in dust, and sweat, and determination—suddenly I was rising. Putting the sandbag back over my shoulders from the ground was taxing. I had to push all of the weight to one side so that I could lift it over my neck and then shimmy the sand to even it out before heading back down to finish.

When I met with the guys at the bottom they were taking a few bites of a protein bar and I was shaking all over. I sat for 2 minutes or so, and then back up the mountain, we climbed.

We were ascending for the greater portion of the course. Every time we would reach a peak, we’d turn the corner and see another climb ahead. It did a number on everyone’s mental state. There were people crying, complaining, and contemplating their life choices throughout the entire 12 miles.

The event page said that the race, “can access elevations as high as 8,200 ft and take you back down 1,200 ft of vertical drop” but what it didn’t say was that you would make that climb TWICE with 30 obstacles thrown into the mix.

Nobody, not even the most elite, were prepared for a course quite like this one.

I knew if I was going to keep myself going I needed to find pockets of joy and beauty wherever I could, so I began looking for them everywhere.

I found happiness in the breathtaking views of Big Bear Lake from the top of the summit. I found energy from fellow Spartans around us that had music playing (including one moment when “Don’t Stop Believing” came on right as we turned a corner and saw yet another hill to climb). I found strength from a little girl who had taken the ski lift up the mountain and then climbed down to a turning spot, purely to pass out high fives to every runner that passed her.

Each moment of weakness was met with an equal moment of power. And finally, as we reached mile 8, I knew that absolutely nothing was going to stand in the way of me finishing this race.

Without Derek and Cameron, I would have never made it.

Not only did they help me over walls, lift me up to bars I couldn’t reach, and grab my footing when I was slipping—but they showered me with encouragement the entire time and never left me behind.

Toward the end, we reached an obstacle called the “Bender” (pictured below) that rocked me.

I contemplated even trying it because my entire body felt exhausted by this point and I wasn’t sure if I would have the strength to pull it over the bars, but I finally decided to give it a go anyway.

The guys gave me a boost and the next thing I knew I was sitting on this bendy obstacle trying to figure out how to lift my weight and pull myself over it.

Derek and Cameron were both getting worried because I was so high up and I couldn’t get my footing right.

“Lift your body over the side! Pull your arm over! Don’t put your leg like that!”

I paused. Dangled my limbs, centered my breath, and finally, pulled myself over. When I jumped down, I ended up knocking Derek over with my butt which then turned into a giant joke, but in that moment I felt like a damn BEAST.

That obstacle scared the shit out of me, but I conquered it.

Momentum kicked in and we all picked up the pace.

The sun had set and darkness was filling in all around us, but we just kept moving.

And suddenly, we were surrounded by a group of people who were saying, “less than a half a mile left!”

Were we really at the end?

I zipped through the tire obstacle that stood between me and the finish line, did some burpees for the rope obstacle (because there was no way I could do that even if it was at the very beginning), and as we made our way to the slip wall, we saw Cameron’s wife, Kelly, on the sidelines.

She took our hydration packs for us so that we could go through the mud without ruining them and we bolted over the slip wall and came face to face with our last set of obstacles: The rolling mud and underwater wall.

By this point it was 6:30 pm and only 50 degrees outside, so the volunteers were telling racers that they could skip the obstacles and waltz on over to the finish line, but I wasn’t having that.

“Guys, we came all this way. We are fucking finishing this thing the right way!” 

Derek and Cameron were less than thrilled with my enthusiasm, but they made their way into the chilly, muddy, water anyway and after 7 hours and 4 minutes, we finally crossed the finish line.

The moment that medal was placed over my head I began to cry. I kept whispering, “I did it. I can’t believe I did it.” as we walked over to a series of booths where they passed out energy drinks and snacks, before cutting our timers off of our shoes and then sending us off to claim our shirts.

The guys were freezing but I wasn’t aware of the cold. In that moment, all I felt was alive.

I had conquered a beast. I WAS a beast.

Before the first mile marker I was convinced that there was no way I could finish this race—yet there I stood, 7 hours later, with two rolled ankles, bruises all over my body, and a finisher medal.

I always knew I was a fighter, of sorts. Stubborn and strongwilled.

But this race presented me my true level of strength. It pushed me past my breaking point over and over again and showed me that I can do hard things.

And most of all, it solidified my belief in the fact that with a helping hand and a heart full of faith, we can tackle any mountain that comes our way.

Eleanor Roosevelt famously said, “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

So the moral of the story is this: Do the things you think you cannot do.

This mountain was literal, but we face figurative hurdles every day. Money issues, marital problems, parenting woes, self-doubt, and so on. Life is in no short supply of ridges to climb. But if you trust that you can do hard things and keep putting one foot in front of the other, you will surprise yourself with the level of strength that comes from within you, every time.


A Healthy Life Starts With A Healthy Mind

A Healthy Life Starts With A Healthy Mind

In my deep quest to find myself— or rather, to lose myself— I’ve tried pretty much everything under the sun. The first diet I ever went on was the cabbage soup diet when I was in the 8th grade.

You mean, the one that is only meant for extremely overweight people who are in need of dropping quick pounds before a medical procedure? Yep, that’s the one!

At the tender age of 13, I was already so appalled by the way I looked, that I spent 7 days eating a soup that made my stomach churn, in hopes that I would love myself at the end of it.
Instead, I felt like Bruce Bogtrotter in “Matilda”, when Miss Trunchbull forces him to eat an entire chocolate cake in front of the student body— ashamed, engorged, defeated, motivated, triumphant, proud, full. Fucking full of nonsense. And cabbage. A freckle-faced, pale skinned, baby teenager with a head full of nonsense and stomach full of cabbage. I think I lost like 8 pounds that week, but it didn’t make me happy and to this day, cabbage in soup form makes me throw up a little in my mouth.

I continued to struggle with the number on the scale and the person in the mirror for the rest of forever. Once I had my first child, however, I began to genuinely give a shit about what I put in my body and how I treated it. So I started eating right and doing P90X after I saw a friend’s results.

I ended up being one of those lucky bitches who was able to shed all of her baby weight, plus an additional 10 lbs., 5 months postpartum.

I signed up to be a Beachbody coach after that, convinced that I knew the secret to success, and began drinking shakeology as well and promoting all of the goodness that was my remarkable transformation. And really, it felt remarkable. I was helping people and keeping myself motivated in the process.

I was in the best shape of my life, but then I decided to get pregnant again. It was planned, yet still daunting. What if I became that girl again? The one who hated herself enough to eat nothing but something that made her feel physically sick for 7 days, just so she could feel beautiful.

I was determined not to become her again. But life, and pizza, had other plans for me.

I worked out through almost my entire pregnancy, went on a sugar-free cleanse, and ate clean about 70/30, but it didn’t matter. I still gained a whopping 40 lbs. just like I did in my previous pregnancy where I lived off of brownies and lasagna.

In the midst of that, we lost our son’s Godfather before he could even meet his godson— and this would become the backboard for my postpartum depression to bounce right off of.

I had sweet little B, and immediately wanted my body back. I couldn’t wait to get back into working out and eating clean even more strictly. But life with two proved to be much more difficult than I anticipated, and I couldn’t manage to get all of the weight off.

Months past, and then a year, and still my body clung to those last ten pounds like a child to their daddy’s leg before he leaves for work in the morning— begging to stay with me.

I tried a fitness challenge through my stroller strides group, clean eating, paleo, whole30, low carb, ketogenic, Kayla Istines BBG guide, Christina Carlyle’s Total Transformation Challenge, P90X3, Leanhigh (which is basically just starving yourself for three days straight), Core De Force, and Isagenix.

Each regime started with the same intensity and fizzled out with the same extinguished spark within a month.

It wasn’t until now, that I realized why.

My mindset after a few weeks would always fall back into the same patterns:

“I have no time to meal prep.”
“I don’t want to deprive myself for the rest of my life.”
“I need ice cream and pizza to get through my period.”
“I can’t worry my life away about what I eat.”

What these excuses really meant were:

“I would rather sit on the couch and watch football than chop up veggies on a Sunday.”

“I need an excuse to cheat right now. Here it is.”

“Blaming my hormones allows me to avoid taking responsibility for my actions.”

“YOLO is a cop out for being too lazy to go for what I want.”


Talk about a wake-up call.

I realized just how destructive I have been to my own success as I was listening to Jen Secerno’s audiobook “You Are A Badass” on an Isagenix cleanse day. A cleanse day, is where you give your body a reset to rid itself of toxin build-up, and well, it kind of sucks.

But I was already three weeks into the program, making this my third cleanse, and I KNEW that the day after my cleanses I always feel incredible. Still, I was hating life on this cleanse day. I began thinking of ways to get out of it. And that’s when something just clicked.

Here’s the thing— you’ll never achieve the things you want to until you’re ready to allow yourself to. I have spent the last year and a half, refusing to allow myself to be successful.

Why would someone do that? Right? I know, it sounds crazy.

But the truth is, I didn’t believe I was worthy of that success. Physically, professionally, spiritually— I had road blocked my mind so intensely with these invisible “do not cross” signs blocking my way to my goals, and I didn’t even realize it.

So on that day, I decided it was time to fight. To ninja kick those invisible roadblocks down and to ignore the warning signs my own subconscious had placed saying that I shouldn’t enter because I wasn’t worthy. I told myself that I was freaking Aladdin and turned my diamond in the rough heart around that day.

As fate would have it, I had signed up for the Spartan Sprint a few months back and was feeling horribly unprepared for the whole ordeal right around this time. But once I had my come to Jesus, I made a conscious decision not to doubt myself anymore. I WAS going to finish that race. And I was going to love it.

I repeated the following affirmation the entire 1:52 min I spent on that course last weekend:

I am strong. I am fit. I am able.


I know, know with my whole heart, that this mantra (paired with some excellent team members who had my back at every obstacle) was the key contributor to my success that day.

In the last quarter mile of the race I got a crippling calf cramp that should have ended it for me. I’m notorious for calf cramps and Derek has actually had to carry me to the car and take me to the hospital before because they get so bad. So when I felt it, with that finish line in sight, I had a moment of my old excuses popping into my head:

I can’t do this.

My leg cramp is too intense. There is no way I will be able to pull that last bag or climb that giant wall.

But then I shushed the voices and got right with the universe. I sent out a prayer.

God, help me finish this.

And as I limped my way to the next obstacle (that requires you to either pull a heavy ass sandbag all the way to the top of a giant rope and then back down or do 30 burpees) a girl randomly approached me and asked me if I wanted to do it together with her.

Thanks, God!

That gave me momentum.

I picked up the pace as I climbed over some muddy dirt piles and walked through pools of water. I swam underneath the wall of murky water and made my way to the last obstacle before the infamous fire jump: the rope climb wall.

The guys ushered me to go ahead of them, and I almost did— but something told me to have one of them go first, and so I did.

Next was my turn, and I felt a strength come over me. I climbed and climbed and made it to the top. As I went to swing my leg over the side of the wall, the leg cramp hit again— hard. If I hadn’t sent my friend up before me, he wouldn’t have been there to catch my leg and swing it over for me, and I would have fallen face first.

I am strong. I am fit. I am able.

I limped down the wall and found that I couldn’t walk on my right leg.

The guys wanted to carry me the rest of the way, but I was hell-bent on getting my fire picture.

I came all this way! I’m getting my damn fire picture! I’m finishing this damn thing.

Sheer adrenaline took me over those flames, and I limped my way to the finish line feeling so damn strong, so damn fit, so damn able.

The moral of the story is this:

Nothing will work for you until you work for you.

It wasn’t until I was ready to take a good hard look at myself and WHY I was making the choices that I was, that I was able to do something about it.

Currently, I’m a rebel.

I drink a various array of protein shakes. I do Beachbody home workout DVDs, and the Christina Carlyle bikini guide workouts, and BBG. I also eat pizza and drink wine.

Basically, I do whatever the hell makes me feel good and alive.

And it has been the best transformation of my life.

Sure, I’ve also lost 10 lbs and 20 inches all over in 30 days, but what I have gained mentally and spiritually is so much bigger than all of that combined. I’m no longer bound to my small mind that tries to keep me in that sad little box of “I cant’s”. I’m also no longer bound to the 40 oz. of coffee I was guzzling a day (Not kidding).

So get out there and do what makes your body and mind feel good.

And it all started with me be willing to say “yes” a million times until I found the right “yes” for me.

If you think your “yes” could be Beachbody, let me know— because I have a ton of awesome coach friends that would be so pumped to help you. If you think your “yes” could be a personal trainer/nutritionist, then go for it! Whatever your yes is, you owe it to yourself to go out there and find it.

Get your mind right, and your body will follow. And if you ever, ever need someone to bounce ideas or fears or crippling subconscious beliefs off of, I’m here for you. Because I’ve been there, and I’m still on my journey— so we can walk it together.

You are strong. You are fit. You are able.

And in the words of Spartans, AROO!

10 Minute Look For The Hot Mess Mama


I was talking with a girlfriend yesterday about mommy fashion bloggers and we were baffled at how they have the time to look so put together all of the time.

Mommy Fashion Bloggers: I’m NOT dissing you. In fact, you impress me— like woah. I’m in awe of your time management skills and totally jealous of your Aphrodite-like appearance even in your “I woke up like this” posts— with your perfect pouty lip and your adorable little white dog curled up with you on your perfectly white couch (I’m looking at you, Hilary Duff).

While you coordinate your jewelry to your stunning outfit, I can probably be found doing one of three things:

  1. Forgetting to shower
  2. Forgetting to change out of my workout clothes
  3. Forgetting to make myself look even semi-presentable

I won’t say that I’m too busy or don’t have the time, because that would be a lie. I think that we have time for the things we prioritize, and the difference is that I just don’t have those things as high on my list as these women do.

The truth of the matter is, I’m just one hot mess. I grew up more of a tomboy, and I don’t know much about hair, makeup, accessorizing, etc. I actually love all of those things, but I haven’t been able to master any of them. Still, pre-mom life I always made it a point to at least make myself presentable to the world, and I’m trying to find a way back to that. I feel better about myself when my husband comes home and I don’t look like a troll.

But since I am very limited on what I can successfully do, and I’m also limited on time because— Hi, I instruct 3-4 days a week, run a blog, own a company, care for a household, and raise two children— I’ve started to master my own hot mess version of how to get a cute look in only 10 minutes.

So let’s talk hair.

My hair is the worst. It’s this frizzy, wavy, pile of weird and I cannot figure it out after almost 29 years with it. It can be really time consuming with stubborn hair, so my go-to when I’m in a crunch (read: always) is throwing part of it up. That way, I only have to style half of my head! Toss half of that hair up in a top knot and you’ve already saved yourself a good 10 minutes of work. BOOM.

Secondly, I love to use my straightener to create curls.

Remember how I said my hair is frizzy and wavy? Using the straightener allows me to smooth my hair out, while also curling it. There are a million tutorials online about how to do this, but here’s another one: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Curl-Your-Hair-with-a-Flat-Iron/

The trick is not to press too firmly, which is something I learned the hard way.

10 Minute Look For The Hot Mess Mama

This took me 5 minutes, tops.

For the makeup portion, I’m obsessed with my Ipsy subscription and I use the samples I receive religiously. Seriously, I was telling Derek the other day that I hardly ever have to buy makeup because the stuff they send is so perfect. I’m currently obsessing over my Smashbox Cosmetics Full Exposure Mascara, Crown Brush 3-Tone Bronzer, and IT Cosmetics No-Tug Waterproof Gel Eyeliner. I only pay $10 a month for these things and the samples are such good sizes that they last for a loooong time. If you don’t have Ipsy, I highly recommend signing up— and if you do, I would love for you to use my referral link so that I can points. Points = more cool stuff!

Outside of my Ipsy goodness, I’ve got on Tarte’s Amazonian Clay Full Coverage Airbrush Foundation, which is my love language. It’s vegan-friendly and paraben free which is sooo important for my crazy sensitive skin. I love this stuff because it is super light weight, doesn’t cake, and gives you full coverage (aka, hides my dark undereye circles and evens out my rosacea).

For lips, I love Younique’s Stiff Upper Lip Lip Stain in Skittish. It’s smudge proof which is exactly what I need, because I give that chubby baby of mine smooches all day long.

And then I round out the look by filling in my brows with the E Essence Eyebrow Designer Pencil and call it a day!

10 Minute Look For The Hot Mess Mama

Pair this easy look with something other than yoga pants and VOILA! You are no longer a hot mess mama. Well, just kidding. I’m still a hot mess. But at least I don’t seem like one on the outside with this quick and easy look!

What’s your favorite beauty product for when you’ve only got 10 minutes to spare? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!





5 Things To Do When You Wake Up In A Bad Mood

5 Things To Do When You Wake Up In A Bad Mood

Guys, I’ve been going through it.

Long story short, hubs was selected to be on a jury for a murder trial which has tacked on an additional 2 1/2 hours of solo time with two kids to my days. That might not sound like a lot, but 5:30 am to 5:30 pm with an almost threenager and an almost walking 8 month old is no easy feat.

Lack of sleep and almost no down time to recoup has cause me to wake up on the wrong side of the bed on more than one occasion recently. But when you’re a mom, you can’t let those things keep you in a mood all day, so I’ve come up with some sure fire ways to turn my frown upside down when I’ve got the morning blues.

Need a pick me up the moment you get up? Here’s 5 things to do when you wake up in a bad mood.


Don’t virtually look at me like “duh!” Truth is, we moms tend to put showers on the back burner of our to-do lists. When you’ve got little ones, it can feel almost impossible sometimes. But I encourage you to ignore the voice in your head telling you that you don’t have time,  that your four-day-old hair doesn’t smell that bad, and just go for it. Have you ever heard someone (outside of prison) say, “wow, I really regret that shower I just took.” — Nope. Because showers are amazing, and being doused in water and soap is the ultimate way to say, “screw you, bad mood! Me and this coconut scented body wash are in charge now.”


If you don’t have a “cheer me up” playlist, go make one— like now. Fill it with classic 90s jams or catchy John Mayer songs or the Wiggles, if that’s what gets you smiling. I like to play mine through the speaker we have so that it resonates throughout the whole room and gets the kids involved and dancing with me. Let yourself ugly dance to some Beyoncé and I guarantee you’ll have a better day.


Nothing gives you a false sense of accomplishment like throwing a bunch of shit in a pot and watching it magically turn into a meal 4-6 hours later. Being able to cross dinner off of your checklist at 9am is the ultimate boss feeling, and a sure fire way to help turn your mood around.


There’s a reason that sunshine represents happiness in almost every song, and that’s because being outdoors feel good. If I wake up in a bad mood, I get outside as soon as possible. Being in the fresh air allows me to regroup, remember that the world is so much bigger than whatever I’m grumpy about, and move past it.


You know what Elle Woods says: “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.”

And while you may not agree with her over obsession with pink or her paw-lictics (Legally Blonde 2 pun, anyone?) girlfriend is dead on about this one. You know when you hear people say that working out is their drug? And we all kind of roll our eyes at them and say, “nobody likes working out.” Well as it turns out, they may be telling the truth after all. Endorphins are a chemical that is released during exercise, which gives off a positive feeling in the body that is similar to morphine. Yep— drugs. And since we can probably all agree that exercise is a better idea than breaking a limb in order to get the special morphine button at the hospital,  I’d say this natural high is total go for cheering you up. Snaps for endorphins.


So there you have it. Next time you wake up on the crotchety side of the bed, try one (or all) of these things and I guarantee you’ll see you’re mood and your day turn around!