Category Archives: Fitness

hiking zion canyon

Foodie Versus Fitness Adventures in Utah

Where was I last week?

James and I were hiking the national and state parks of southern Utah, namely Zion and Bryce Canyons. My favorite hike by far was through Kolob Canyon, part of Zion. I felt like I was on the set of Indiana Jones.


The landscape at Bryce Canyon was incredibly different. There were valleys and valleys full of rock formations called Hoodoos.


Each day we hiked about 8 to 15 miles, and each day we packed a lunch to enjoy on a rock. Then we’d head to an easy dinner joint for a little indulgence. Being a foodie, I usually like to try as many new local restaurants as I can while on vacation. But, this time, I was dieing to go back to the same place twice: River Rock Roasting Company.

Primarily a coffee shop with a great view, the River Rock Roasting Company makes a killer veggie sandwich complete with avocado, tomato, red onion, cucumber, sprouts, lettuce and vegetable cream cheese. Add a little salty crunch from a pickle or a kettle cooked potato chip and you’ve got a wham bam dinner.


Not only was their food great, but we found ourselves there in the morning ordering coffee…

IMG_2214 …and in the evening to enjoy a  crisp pale ale.


No worries – I didn’t let the foodie side win on this trip. We definitely worked hard for all the food and booze. Many of the hiking paths had fairly easy terrain through narrow canyons.


But, there were also many rocks to climb over, under and around.


Hiking boots were an absolute must on this trip. I’m so glad we did our research and made the investment, or I think we would have had extremely sore legs and feet.

So, lets get back to food, because it’s pretty much all I can ever think about. James and I hiked many miles in silence enjoying the peaceful sounds of nature. Every once in a while, James would turn back and ask what I was thinking about. Most of the time my response was NOTHING. And, I really meant it. I can do and try to do that when I go on vacations like these. I try to just be present in the moment and leave all life’s SH** at the start of the trail.

There were other times; however, when my response would be SANDWICHES or LUNCH. I always looked forward to our daily lunch and snack breaks – a moment to re-fuel and re-energize. We made a lot of forest friends during these breaks. The squirrels and chipmunks in Utah have no shame – they want your food and they want it now. So, we shared.


For James, lunch was always a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. For myself, it was mostly crackers and cheese, beef jerky, an apple or an orange and some snap peas. Snack time usually consisted of a handful of nuts or a Kind bar (the bars involving dark chocolate are the best).

We had a few more dinners that were a little more epic than those lunches or the veggie sandwich and worth sharing. These included a sushi night.


And, a Mexican night. I don’t even remember what this dish was called, but it was fantastic. With salsa verde, this was easily one of the best dinners James and I have ever had. I know that because we didn’t speak a word to each other until our bellies were full and the food was almost gone.


Of course all of these fabulous dinners were followed by dessert.  Yes, I had ice cream every night ok. I’m not proud of it, but just take another look at the landscape we hiked. We earned it.


Ok, we didn’t climb up that, but we climbed for miles and miles around these hills to get to the top of them.


Our longest and most strenuous hike was to see the beautiful Kolob Arch. Along the way, other hikers kept telling us it really wasn’t worth the trek, but I was pretty awed by it.

IMG_2178  IMG_2204

I was also pretty wowed by the color on the rocks. This one cave in particular looked like a Jackson Pollock painting.


While it was hard not to spend every day out on the beautiful trails, we knew we needed to let our bodies relax. So we spent one morning lounging along the side of the lake in Sand Hollow State Park, and then another day at the spa.


After a week of hiking bliss and foodie indulgences, if there’s any advice I can give, it’s never ever forget your rain pants.


Ok, but seriously the weather is a little wonky in southern Utah. It will be sunny and 75 one minute and the next thing you know it’s raining. The rain doesn’t last long at all – certainly not long enough to ruin a hike – but it does sneak up on you.

target tuesday: total body

Target Tuesday: Pilates

I’ve been really into Pilates lately. I think it might have something to do with the fact that my Pure Barre package ran out. As much as I love it, I just can’t justify adding another package of classes to my list of expenses right now. So, when working out at home using Grokker and YouTube, I’ve been gravitating towards Pilates workouts that really isolate particular muscle groups and work them till they’re sore, just like Pure Barre does!

Plus, they’re less intense than a cardio workout in the sweat department. Meaning, it’s easier to fit a Pilates workout into my busy schedule because I’m not completely drenched in sweat by the end of it.

Another added benefit of these types of videos is relaxation. With deep breathing and lots of stretching, these workouts are a great way to relax the mind in the morning, preparing for a crazy day of work, work, work.

All that being said, for today’s Target Tuesday, I thought I’d share some of my favorite Pilates videos from across the web:

Classique Accupuncture and Pilates Studio Intermediate Matt Sequence
I hope you’re ready for burning abs! The instructor, Brooke, makes it look really easy – and remember it can be, if you just meditate through the exercise instead of letting it force you to give up. Brooke has tons of other great videos, so be sure to check out her whole collection.

Jessica Smith TV Pilates Total Body 
I love that Jessica’s dog, Peanut, is always part of these videos. Nothing makes working out seem easier than doing it alongside a cute little puppy! Cuteness aside, Jessica has a pretty endless supply of great Pilates and Yoga inspired videos.

YakTrax reviews

YakTrax Review

I remember when I was first learning to run, first discovering how much I could accomplish if I only pushed myself  a little. I can even still remember the moment I looked down at my phone and saw that I had covered 8 miles. “Did I really do that?” I thought.

I can also very distinctly remember feeling discouraged when trying to improve my mile times. Those darn icy sidewalks of Pittsburgh were getting in my way! Well that, and all the grad students groggily walking to their 8 a.m. classes.

I’m not really sure why I didn’t look for a solution to the icy sidewalk problem that winter. I simply continued to run at a slower pace, not enjoying the run or any of the Pittsburgh scenery because I was always focused down, scanning for patches of ice.

This winter; however, I’ve made some changes. Great changes. YakTrax changes.

YakTrax Benefits

YakTrax are the solution that let’s me enjoy a long or short, light jog or fast paced winter run. I’m now taking in all the scenery – the trees iced with snow, the sun coming up over them and making them sparkle. The best part of it is – especially since I don’t run with music – being able to run without worrying about slipping and falling makes the run time feel as if its going by a lot more quickly.

So, here’s my “official” review guys: If you’re a winter runner, you need YakTrax.

There are two variants of the YakTrax: run and walk. I own the walk pair because I like to be able to use them as multipurpose – for hikes in the woods and for light jogs down the road. Whichever style you choose, YakTrax are really easy to slip over a pair of tennis shoes, and even easier to take off.

They’re so light on your feet, you won’t even know you’re wearing them. Especially once you really get into the run and start bopping along.

winter running

They’re great for running on sidewalks or, what I’m running on this season: suburban roads. The roads are somewhat plowed, but in order to stay safe on the side of the road and avoid cars, I’m usually running through what’s left over from the side of the snow plows.

My favorite part about the YakTrax is that sometimes they allow you to get a little adventurous. For example, I choose to run closer to the side of the road over the snow piles instead of on the hard pavement. The snow adds a little cushion, making the run easier on my knees, and adds a little variability, so my legs are using some of the smaller muscles to stay balanced on the uneven terrain.

They’re not terribly expensive, so if you’re committing to running at least two or three times per week this winter season, you should definitely consider a pair for yourself!



target tuesday: total body

Target Tuesday: Total Body

Hey guys!

I’m sorry there was no weekend recap post this week – but there really wasn’t much to write home about. A pretty bad migraine took me out for most of it, and the rest was spent wandering through antique shops with James to find some necessities and not-so necessities for our new home (which we get the keys to this week!).

Anyways, after a pretty lazy weekend, we got right back to it with an at-home mountain climber workout. It’s been snowing nonstop here, so there haven’t been many opportunities to get in our cardio outside. I thought for sure I was going to get out this morning – especially with my new running gear (review coming soon) – but, I would have needed some snow shoes just to make it a mile down the road. That’s why having a workout like this one is great – it doesn’t require any equipment and it can be done anywhere.

So, here’s the gist. Complete each set of mountain climbers for 1 minute. Between each set, choose any type of cardio you’d like to perform for 1 minute. I listed a few ideas to get you started, but really the options are endless. You could even just keep it plain and simple with jumping jacks between each set of mountain climbers.

Enjoy the burn!

mountain climber workout

mountain climbers- inside angle
Mountain Climbers – Inside Angle


mountain climbers - wide
Mountain Climbers – Outside Angle 


target tuesday - glute and hamstring workout

Target Tuesday: Glutes and Hamstrings

Hi friends!

If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you know I’ve recently made the transition from daily gym lifter to at-home workout enthusiast. I thought I’d really slump on this one, but it’s actually been going great. So great in fact that I thought I should start sharing more of the workouts, so here’s the first of the Target Tuesdays.

High-intensity interval workouts are only as good as you make them, so you really have to put your energy into this one. If you’re unsure of how to do any of the moves listed, a quick google search should provide you with plenty of demo videos.

So, here’s the deal. After the warm up, complete each exercise listed in the HIIT workout for 1 minute. In that 1 minute, complete as many reps as you can. Repeat. Don’t forget to stretch when you’re done!

I only did two rounds of this, and I was definitely feeling the glute and leg pain the next day. Again, I cannot reiterate enough that this type of exercise IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT. You could do 5 reps in one minute, or you could really push yourself, feel the burn and double those reps. Form is important though, so make sure you’ve got the exercise down before you try and pick up the pace. Maybe today you only do those 5 reps to let your body memorize the form, but tomorrow, you do max it out and do 15.

glute and hamstring workout