Launching a Successful Massage Practice

Now that I’ve been in business for over 2 years, keeping my schedule full for 3-4 months solid at a time, I feel it’s time to share some of what I did to get to this point.

First of all, I attended Health Touch School of Massage. It is a 650 hour course over 10 months. It was excellent. I got so much out of it, and even though I came from the background of Registered Nurse, I found it quite challenging! I can’t recommend them enough. They’re located in Wausau, Wisconsin.

Let me set this up by painting the picture of my community. Rhinelander is a small town in northern Wisconsin. It’s pretty blue collar in relation to the surrounding towns that tend to be more touristy. There are about 8500 residents and when I started, about 10 local massage therapists. One was just leaving the area and sent some clients my way, which helped tremendously. After 3 months in practice, I was seeing 1-2 clients most days but not nearly as busy as I wanted to be. I was offering classic massage, hot stones, and deep tissue. Pretty standard issue. I was renting a small room in the city, but not super happy with the building. It looked like an old crappy house and smelled a bit like basement all the time. The room was so small I could easily touch all the walls with one hand on the client.

One insomniac night, I popped on to the Facebook group The Art of Building a Successful Massage Practice. There was a reference to the book 60 Clients in 60 Days and before I knew it, I had downloaded it on Kindle and read the whole thing. This was on October 31, 2017 according to Amazon. Basically, the idea is to give away free samples of massage and in getting people on your table, they are likely to want to come back. So, I ordered like 250 gift certificates for 30 minute sessions and started a list of where I’d like to drop them off for local business to maybe give their clients or employees. One of the places I stopped was Serenity Health & Wellness. The owner and I clicked, and she happened to have a much nicer room for rent. It was an easy decision to move. While I waited for certificates to arrive, I had a crazy idea….

I put an ad on Facebook Marketplace. Free 30 minute massage sessions. Upgrade to an hour for $25. I set up a coupon code in my online scheduler. This was on November 3rd. November 4th I was up and out early to provide chair massages 2.5 hours away. I was so busy all day I didn’t have time to deal with my schedule blowing up, but it blew up! I had to cap the freebies at 100. I was booked for nearly 5 weeks, just like that. 6-8 clients per day starting on Monday, November 6th. Many people were just there to try the free half hour. Some tipped, some did not. Some upgraded and some did not. I had to try to squeeze in my few established clients and continue to work as a nurse one day per week. It was absolutely nuts. And, IT WORKED.

I haven’t been booked solid for less than 2 months out since then. Most of my regular clients were a result of that insanity. Now I’m usually 3-4 months out with about 15 contact hours per week, 4 days, and I’ve transitioned it to mostly 90 minute sessions. I see 2-3 clients most days. I now work from home exclusively.

In January 2018 I learned ashiatsu. My hands and shoulders were not liking the requests for more pressure, and it just made sense to use gravity+body weight+my feet to get the job done. Most people in this small

Sarga

town never heard of ashiatsu. I can guarantee you that if I had a service menu offering classic, deep tissue, and ashiatsu, people would not choose ashi-whatsu??? I simply let my clients know that I use my hands, feet, hot stones and cupping, and if anything was uncomfortable in a bad way to please say something and I’d adjust. Funny thing is, even the people who are feet-phobic have come around to the benefits of receiving a massage by foot. Try it out if you haven’t. It’s next level.

Because my body is my body, I went on to develop a shoulder impingement by reaching overhead all day, so now I’m settled pretty well into Sarga Bodywork. Again, I don’t offer separate services. Or upcharges. I have my prices for 75, 90, or 120 minute sessions and they include all the things. Hot towels, hot stone, aromatherapy, cupping…. I go with the flow and what my client wants/needs that day but I only have one gal that has not tried massage by foot yet. She’s in her 70’s. I’m just glad she continues to come to me so I don’t push her.

In Summary:
1. Set up an online scheduler. I’ve been happy with Square for for a couple of years now. It’s free. I used to just do 30 minutes turnover, but by the time I would check out/turn my room over/check in the next client I barely had time to go to the bathroom! Now I do 45. I’m tired of feeling rushed.
2. Be sure to block out time for breaks and existing, paying clients!! I did not, and that was unwise!
3. Make a coupon code in your scheduler.
4. Run a free ad on Marketplace with your coupon code and any conditions (mine was for the month of November but it ended up going into December – I decided to cap it at 100 sessions).
5. Offer your service by time rather than modality. Especially important if you are offering something people are unfamiliar with.
6. Book your client’s next session right at checkout. Now, most of mine just ask to be booked out indefinitely, which is great by me. They can change their mind any time, but as of now (September 2019), most of 2020 is booked.
7. Put your roller skates on. You are going to be busy!

My best tips for being a massage therapist in general:
1. Self care. You cannot give from an empty well. Walk your talk. I do something every day for my physical and mental health. I owe it to myself, my family, and my clients to be well in body and mind.
2. S l o w  d o w n. Move like a glacier. Breathe slowly. Relax.
3. Stop talking. Unless it pertains to the massage or the client wants to talk about something, zip it. Personally, for clients that I have things to chat about with (some are long-time friends and acquaintances), I build in time around their appointment to visit. I love that. Then they can relax into their massage. Obviously, it’s not all about the money to me. I make enough. I can work more if I want to make more, but I’m content. It’s also important to me to connect with people.
4. Require a credit card to hold the appointment. I’ve eliminated no-shows and weirdos by requiring new clients to schedule online and agree to my 24 hour cancellation policy, then use their credit card to secure the appointment. I respect my client’s time as well as my own. If someone has a problem with this, I don’t want them as a client. Be fussy. Quality clients only!
5. Be on time. I start on time and end on time. Period. Who doesn’t hate sitting in a waiting room when they have an appointment and it’s past the start time??

Questions? Comments? Leave them below and I’ll answer every one!

Finding My Pure Poise

And I’ll rise up
I’ll rise like the day
I’ll rise up
I’ll rise unafraid
I’ll rise up
And I’ll do it a thousand times again
And I’ll rise up
High like the waves
I’ll rise up
In spite of the ache
I’ll rise up
And I’ll do it a thousand times again
(Andra Day – Rise Up)

In my 44 years, this experience was one of the most transformative. I was invited to provide massage therapy for the Finding Your Pure Poise inaugural retreat. Amanda, the amazing photographer behind Pure Poise Boudoir, had this great idea to offer a women’s retreat on a private beach on the shore of Lake Superior in July 2019.  I’d been dreaming of massaging near a big lake, with the breeze and waves. Perfect. So I set the date aside. Amanda booked an AirBnB that would accommodate a group of women who came from very diverse backgrounds. There were two hair/makeup pros and I provided lakeside massage. Amanda prepared meals for the group and spent the rest of her time behind the camera lens. The first evening, we sat on the beach and got to know each other in a very fun way. It was like an instant sisterhood. The vibe of the weekend was so uplifting and encouraging.

I had zero intention on posing. Last Thanksgiving, I scheduled a shoot for September 2019 (2 weeks away as I write this!!). My role was to massage the people.

Somehow, I ended up writing my name on the signup for a sunrise shoot on the shore of Lake Superior. Before I knew it, I was trying on lingerie and body chains 🙂

Driftwood

For those of you who don’t know, most of my life I was overweight. I’ve struggled with weight and body image for decades. About 2.5 years ago I had a health scare that prompted me to adopt a plant-based diet. My symptoms cleared up and I dropped 15 pounds easily. I find it joyful and simple to maintain a healthy weight now.
Me in 2000

After my third baby, I continued to gain weight. I was out of control with food. I still struggle with food addiction at times (hello, nut butter!). As long as I stick with fruits, veggies and whole grains, I can eat lots and have plenty of energy to work all day, then go play. It’s awesome. This pic was taken in 2000, when I was in my 20’s. Think I was depressed??

Regarding exercise, I do what brings me joy. I do some strength training in my basement a few times per week. I ride my mountain bike a few times per week. I love yoga when I can.

I struggle with chronic pain due to a connective tissue disorder. I don’t remember the last day I didn’t have any tendon pain. But look; I could let that disable me or I could deal and live my life to the fullest. I do what I can, which is quite a lot. I found it wasn’t any better when I was sedentary. I honor my body by listening to it and that has even meant dialing back racing bikes. It’s okay. I’m no longer depressed. I’m healthier now than when I was obsessed with exercise. I do move my body most days, but it’s out of love.

I have held onto some embarrassment over my belly, uneven boobs and saddlebags for years. Seems no matter what I do, there they are. While I will continue to strengthen myself and work on my body, it’s out of love now. That is the difference. I couldn’t hate myself thin. I finally figured out that this girl is worth loving.

Yoga

When I received my photos, I cried. I’ve been so hard on myself. I let my insecurity about things like my belly and boobs interfere with my self worth for too long.

Favorite

So I swapped services with the amazingly talented Kassidy Ashbeck. She did my hair and makeup, and a group of us gals went to nearby Bonanza Falls. A friend suggested I go get on that downed tree. Haha. Now mind you, I’m a bit of a tomboy. Most days I’m in a ponytail getting dirt under my nails. My favorite cardio is mountain biking, which leads to sore muscles and bruises. Here I am wearing more makeup than I ever have and trying not to fall off this tree. And look at me! I can see my beauty now. The hair and makeup really just helped boost my confidence to do this. I’m pretending I’m a model.

Bonanza

And then when I feel so amazing and beautiful, I treat myself even better. This body is a gift. I’m a goddess of sorts, so I honor that by what I put in and out. I rise above the muck like the lotus tattooed on my leg. After enduring all of the forms of abuse, I am at peace. I am strong. I am enough. I am a badass woman.

Cave

My major takeaways from this experience were:

-I witnessed women absolutely owning their beautiful curves. No matter their weight, they were gorgeous. Sexy. Strong. Amazing. It didn’t even matter. If they can, why not me??
-I like the way that hair curling rod and some makeup look on me 🙂 Hot damn!
-Amanda has a way of making women feel amazing. I can’t even describe it properly. Look up her Pure Poise Intimate page on Facebook and join. So artful. So tasteful. It felt like a celebration of femininity.
-I need more of this in my life. More time with women who are like-minded. More drumming around fires with women. More discussion about the down & dirty things from periods to where to buy sexy undies, to sex and relationships. More openness. More uplifting other women to see their beauty.
-I have arrived at home. In my body. In this body. I. am. home.

Sign me up to do this again. I carry myself differently ever since then. My self-confidence is high. Every day I care for myself because yes, I am something special. So are you.

Ladies, I cannot recommend attending one of Amanda’s retreats or a photo shoot enough. It will change your life.

Pure Poise Photography

Chicken Of The Woods – Foraging

As I was wandering down to the dock to take the kayak out for a lap around the lake this morning, I came across this beauty. I’ve only found one before that I could harvest, and here it was…. right in my own back yard.


This is a fungi known as “Chicken of the woods” or “sulphur shelf”. It’s easy to spot. I’m no expert, but this is a wild mushroom I’m confident I can eat. This is a huge specimen, and if I wait any longer to harvest it will likely be dry and nasty. So, I hatched a fun plan for dinner.

I cooked millet in the Instant Pot (1 minute under pressure – that thing rocks!)

Cooked millet

I picked grape leaves from the vine in the back yard. I blanched them to wrap the filling in.

Grape leaves

I picked stinging nettles to cook with the mushrooms. I have a small patch that I am cultivating. Yes, you can eat cooked stinging nettles and they are very good for you! Wear gloves to harvest.

Stinging nettles

We have a huge patch of day lilies, so I grabbed some of them to stuff as well. They are edible 🙂
Day Lilies

In the smallest amount of olive oil, I sauteed the stinging nettles, some wild leeks I harvested in spring, onion and garlic.

After several minutes, I added rinsed and chopped chicken of the woods mushroom and continued to cook for a few minutes, adding just a little sea salt.

When it was cooked through, I added it to the millet, sprinkled with garlic salt, smoked paprika, and a squeeze of fresh lemon.

Wrapped in grape leaves and stuffed in flowers, this meal was very satisfying! And pretty! 🙂

I had a lot left over, so I cut up the mushroom and cooked it to freeze for future use. So thankful for this gift from Mother Nature.

Weight Loss, What I Eat, Fascia Blasting, Feeling Great!

Warning: Booty in thong pics below. If glutes make you feel weird, this post is probably not for you. I’m done with body shame, personally! A strong rear end is making a huge difference in my quality of life!

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted an update! For those of you new to my blog and story, I’ll sum it up. I’m 5’1″ and 43 years old. When I was 27, I weighed somewhere around 170# and was diagnosed by MRI with “Probable Multiple Sclerosis“, showing 2 active brain lesions and with some scary symptoms. I had recently birthed my 3rd child. I was depressed and out of control with food. After tiring of giving myself injections, I turned to diet and lost nearly 40#. When I was about 32 I fell in love with biking. My symptoms were a thing of the past. I found I loved mountain bike racing and participated in as many events as I could. All the while, my tendons and muscles were developing pain that eventually had me in physical therapy, by the time I was around 35, and unable to enjoy biking or running very much. I tried many things; some with temporary relief but mostly no improvement. It hurt to have my legs touched. I had dozens of “knots” like marbles I could feel and the sensation was that of a bruise, leaving my legs (and other areas, but that was worst) very tight no matter how much foam rolling or yoga I did. I had a fibromyalgia diagnosis in 2015.

2 years ago today, in 2016, I was knocked right down with Lyme disease. I couldn’t stand up without help. I could’t drive. I was in so much pain I was beside myself. Walking up a flight of stairs left me breathless. It was a long road to be able to walk and bike again….

Early in 2017 I had a health scare. I feared I had breast cancer. While I awaited the battery of appointments for tests, I decided to be proactive and follow some of the Gerson Therapy principles. It’s basically a low fat, high carb vegan diet. Lo and behold, my pain symptoms went away. The extra weight I had been carrying despite many attempts at low carb, ketogenic, high protein, years of Paleo, being a gym rat, etc. just fell off. Prior to that I would have argued to my death that bacon was healthy!

Despite many health improvements, my legs were still riddled with pain. I had a couple of mountain bike events in 2017 but they hurt pretty bad. Then I met the Fascia Blaster. I’ll be forever grateful to the ladies who introduced me! This claw tool has been a game changer for me!! When I realized that my chronic pain was bound up tissue and some very weak glutes (I had no idea how bad things were back there until I took a pic!!) I made some changes. By the beginning of 2018 I’d started doing Ashley Black’s “Heart Butt” exercises 2-3x/week and blasting at those times.

This morning the scale said 124#. I am down 6 inches on my waist alone since making these changes.

I believe the photos speak for themselves, though….

I’m a work in progress, but my pain issues are definitely receding! This makes me so happy!! I ran a 5 mile obstacle course last weekend. I biked 50 miles with my husband mid-week and then went mountain biking on fairly challenging terrain a few days later! I’ll be increasing the difficulty of the exercises here shortly, but I’m participating in a 6 hour mountain bike race this weekend and look forward to being part of a 4-woman 24-hour team in less than 3 weeks! I want to emphasize that I do not take protein powders or drinks that help control appetite. I eat a lot. It adds up to 1200-1800 calories per day with a ton of fiber 🙂 I don’t have a gym membership. My routine currently looks like this:

Exercise:
Monday
– easy yoga/stretching
Tuesday – bike about an hour at a moderate pace
Wednesday – Heart Butt exercises with resistance bands plus pushups and inverted rows on TRX. Do 50 squats. Run 2 miles at about a 10-11 minute mile pace on a dirt road. Finish with 50 squats and another set of inverted rows. See Heart Butt exercises here. I do a set, then blast a leg/butt for about 5 min. Do another set of exercise, blast the other leg. Finish with a set of exercises. Everything including the run takes about an hour.
Thursday – same as Tuesday
Friday – same as Wednesday
Saturday – mountain bike longer and maybe somewhere different. 1.5-2 hours.
Sunday – Heart Butt + 5k run

I blast arms, belly and face whenever, and occasionally hand a blaster to my husband with a request to do my back.

Food:
Listen, I don’t do starvation very well and a tablespoon or 2 of fat does not fill me up. I need quantity! And color!

Celery juice
Banana, blueberry, date smoothie
Hugh Jass salad 😀 Mixing bowl size.
Fruit. The ultimate fast food.

 

Vegan spaghetti squash bolognese

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add to all of this 2 cups of organic black coffee, a piece or 2 of fruit along the way and a glass of organic red wine in the evening.

Recently I noticed that my struggle with binge eating is all but gone. If I’m hungry, I have a piece of fruit and move on. What about protein, you ask?? Well, where do you get your fiber? How much protein do you think you need? Have you read The China Study?

I think what makes it easy to stick with this is that my motives have nothing to do with anyone but me and my Creator. It’s great that my husband notices, but what pushed me to make changes was the chronic pain that had me in a very dark space.

I still have some residual pain, but consistency with the exercise regimen has made a tremendous difference. I thoroughly enjoy my time in nature, and it helps me stay centered in my life.

The food I eat began as a health priority, but has spilled over to include animal welfare as well as environmental concerns. I feel aligned in all aspects now. High-vibe foods for a high-vibe life 🙂

For more resources, check out High Carb Hannah, Medical Medium, Dr. McDougall and Chef AJ.

Thanks for reading! Go do something good for yourself!

Mind Shift

Something shifted in my brain very recently and I have to share. I’m 43. I can’t remember a time I was satisfied with my body. I was a chubby girl, then an obese woman, starved myself skinny in 2009, gained to the point of overweight, struggled hard with my weight until 2017 and FINALLY found what works for me – and with an amount of ease I am still not used to!

For months now, I easily maintain a weight of 125-128. Now, my actual goal at 5’1″ is 120#. It’s a healthy weight.

It’s a number on a scale. I saw this photo of me working yesterday at an Expo and it kind of hit me upside the head. I mean, as recently as the last few days I’ve been “doing a cleanse” or whatever to try to fight my way down to 120 for some reason.

I’ve been knocked down by “Probable multiple sclerosis”, fibromyalgia and an acute tangle with Lyme disease. Twice I struggled to stand up and walk for a period of time in my life. And with this body, I’ve fought my way back. I run 5k on a whim, ride my bicycles to and from work (21 miles round trip), work physically all day long and have the energy to make dinner when I get home. With this body. This. Body. How about just being content with precious gift of a body to enjoy?? It’s actually pretty fantastic.

It’s time to drop the struggle and turn to gratitude. I love the whole foods, plant-based lifestyle. I love the ways I move my body to keep fit. I love my job and the fact that I’m physically able to do it. I love my life. I love my body. I don’t give a crap how fast I can get from point A to point B any more. I do give a crap about having fun and enjoyment.

Grateful and content,

Andrea

On Detoxing

Here’s the thing about me and cleanses. I eat very, very clean the vast majority of the time. When I decide to do a cleanse/detox because that’s my January ritual, I spend the week leading up to it binging. It’s a scarcity mentality, I suppose. I’ll pile on a few pounds and then spend the cleanse bringing it back down. I love the way I normally eat and I’m a healthy weight now by anyone’s standards. I eat mainly vegetables, some fruit, some grains in the form of sprouted grain bread, rice and quinoa, and occasional seeds. Almost entirely organic. I drink coffee, tea, plenty of water and a glass of organic, sulfite-free Pinot Noir several evenings each week.

Maybe it’s a residual from my unhealthy past? This feeling of being compelled to detox after the Holidays? I guess there were about half a dozen holiday cookies consumed. Otherwise, I prepared and hauled healthy dishes to every gathering I attended.

I tracked my food today, weighing and measuring things out of curiosity. I used to do this all the time to try to force weight off (that didn’t work long-term, either). Here’s the breakdown:

Calories total 1437
Protein 34g
Carbohydrates 329g (I never would have believed this would lower my long-term blood sugar control)
Fat 2g
Fiber 45g (yeah!)
Sodium 679mg although I did add some salt to dinner
Potassium 6713mg
Vitamin A 1495
Vitamin C 433
Calcium 30
Iron 86

What I ate:
Breakfast: One pound of Russet potatoes and 1/2 cup red cabbage hashbrowns cooked in water, with seasoned salt

Lunch: Baked sweet potato (a full pound!) with cinnamon and 1 tablespoon real maple syrup

Supper: Diced potatoes 10 ounces and 1 cup diced canned tomatoes with chili seasonings and a good portion of spinach

Snacks: Apple, orange, potato

This fueled me nicely for yoga and fat biking in the snow 🙂 Drank lots of water. Sat in the sauna for 40 minutes. I’ll end my day with rooibos tea shortly. No lack of energy. Clean fuel.

If I wasn’t “detoxing”, I may or may not have added a glass of wine. Makes me think, what are we detoxing from?? Given my history of binging prior to a detox, might it be wise to eat as I do and if I feel the need, perhaps fast for a period of time? Is my motive love, or is it self-deprivation to atone for something I did? Like the binge prior. Hmm….

Easy Menu Planning + What I’m Thinking About During Massages

This is how I’ve done my menu planning for years. Usually I use one card or piece of paper and put the menu on one side/shopping list on the other. I like having my menu with when I shop. I tend to eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch all week, for the sake of simplicity. I will batch cook as much as I can on a Sunday afternoon, or when I have the oven hot for a dinner I will throw in 4-6 yams for grab-and-go food.

For the first 3 weeks of January I “detox”. Actually, I examine habits that I feel are unhealthy and put the kabosh on them for this period of time. This January I am doing it by way of a diet of fruits and vegetables. I want to acknowledge that I do have a coffee habit. I’m not going there. I’ve eliminated coffee several times in the past and nothing good comes of it. I love a rich, organic French roast *especially* in the dead of winter. Gets me out of bed in the dark of morning. The staples I have eliminated for these weeks are the evening glass of wine and grains. I tend to eat rice and sprouted grain bread. I have a glass of wine 3 or 4 evenings of the week. But, not for now……

As I’m writing this, I am thinking, “detoxing from some rice and red wine??” Yeah, I don’t know either. It’s not like I ate more than a half dozen Christmas cookies during the Holidays or anything.

At any rate, here are my menu and shopping list for the week. I made a last-minute decision to trade baked squash for baked hashbrowns – squash was no longer on sale and potatoes were. This is all organic food from my awesome local grocer, Golden Harvest. The recipes are from www.potatoreset.com and would be considered low-fat vegan. The “cheeze” and “queso” are made primarily from a boiled potato, nutritional yeast and seasonings. Yogurt is for my husband. I decided against almond milk for my coffee for now and crossed that off, too.

Menu

 

Here’s my haul for $98 and change:

Haul

That’s a full pound of broccoli to go with a yam for lunch every day. 10″ of Russett potatoes, 11.5# of yams. You get the idea. Plenty of food. Now, I do have some staples here already which helps.

The other thing I wanted to write about is massage. I love this 2nd job. I love it like it’s my brand new baby. I love the learning, and the people, and the atmosphere, and helping my community move a little easier. Want to know what the quiet pauses are if you’ve been on my table, or what I’m typically thinking? Yes, of course my mind wanders to groceries and obligations at times but for the most part it goes like this: Once you’re situated on the table I rest my hands on you. Usually on shoulders. I picture in my mind that I grow roots into the ground. I plug my hands into the energy of the sun. I give thanks for this person on my table. And then I proceed. This ritual centers me. For the duration, I am thinking about what my hands feel and what my eyes see. Sometimes I’m thinking “cool tattoo!!”. Sometimes I’m thinking what other tools I’d like to implement to help your muscles loosen up. If my mind wanders, I gently bring it back, just like in meditation. I think thoughts of appreciation, esteem, kindness and gratitude. If you’ve shared a struggle with me, I’m likely thinking affirmations for you. And as I conclude the session, I place my hands in 4 locations along the body while I say these words (usually in my mind):  May you be filled with loving kindness. May you be free from inner and outer dangers. May you be well in body and mind. May you be at ease and happy. Look up “metta” if you want to know more.

There you have it.

Holistic.

Body, mind, and spirit.

Winter Solstice Reflections, Gyms, Workout Routine

Today is the winter solstice of 2017. Seems that many of us pause and take some time for deep reflection this time of the year. It’s kind of an annual review. Where am I and how does it align with where I want to be? Are there large changes to be made? Habits I’d like to adopt?

I’ve been licensed as a massage therapist for 4 months. While I still work as a nurse most weeks, the majority of my work time is spent in a lovely room, in a lovely space, with essential oils being diffused, my homemade candle flickering, Wholetones music playing and a client that I’m grateful for on my massage table. My intention was to be booked out for 4 weeks at a time by the end of the year, and that’s exactly what has happened. It has taken a lot of effort, but it’s here. I love it so much. I feel like my work is my hobby, my creative outlet and my gift. I love helping people feel better in their bodies. I love learning more.

I am a personal trainer and health coach, but don’t push that work. This is certainly the time of year people are thinking about their weight and health, myself included. I’ve lost 17 pounds since spring with ease by adopting a whole foods, plant-based diet and moving my body throughout the day. Once in a great while I will weigh and measure my foods, counting calories and macronutrients. It’s more to prove a point now, like that I do, in fact, get enough protein without eating animals. And that I do eat a rather large quantity of food. I like it that way. I like that my diet continues to evolve, to be more aligned with the seasons as well as my feelings about animal welfare.

Several people I’ve observed over the years turn to whatever the latest pill or potion is to lose weight, only to gain it back. Not only is the weight back, but the feelings of failure are worn around like a weight every day for many people. I’ve been there! Although I still have my struggles, they’re much fewer and farther between than they used to be. I truly believe the fundamental reason why the pills and shakes fail is that they don’t address the root of the problem. What if you loved yourself enough to nourish your body? What could you love about yourself right now, in this moment? Until you examine why you keep repeating the cycle, it will continue. Also, what are the ingredients in your shakes and bars?? Synthetic vitamins? Isolates? For me personally, I like a large quantity of real food. I like to put away a pound of veggies, or several cups of starch in the form or rice or yams every day. I do not like restriction, and if I think I can just have a little bit when it comes to chocolate or nut butter, I’m lying to myself. I’m an all-or-nothing kind of gal. Serves me well in some aspects of life.

Ok so, here’s my current workout plan:
plan

If you’re wondering what the heck Heart Butt and Blast are, check this site: https://ashleyblackguru.com/heartbutt/ – the Fascia Blaster is the only tool I’ve found that addresses my bound up fascia, and I’m able to see/feel a difference with regular use! I’ve struggled for years with IT band and Achilles pain, so this is huge for me. Most days I do my strength training and blasting in the morning, in my bathroom with the space heater on. I play loud music and do the strength exercises with a resistance band in sets of 10 for the duration of a song. Then I blast one area for a song (left upper leg, for example) and repeat for 3 full sets.

For cardio, you will no longer find me on some machine under fluorescent lights watching negativity on a screen. Here’s my cardio gym on Tuesday. Quiet stillness except for me moving my body through space, and the chatter of winter birds. The forest floor blanketed in sparkling white. Crisp, fresh air. Hills are my high-intensity intervals. I’m finding that a gentler pace and more restorative approach is more aligned with this season.

and Thursday, with my enthusiastic 4-legged soul mate:

 

I’m not so into “Resolutions” but in 2018 I’m taking steps to:
 – replace some evening glasses of wine with tea
 – create a morning ritual to involve a little yoga and meditation
 – create space in my schedule to relax, especially in the evenings

Weight Loss Update + Today’s Menu + Fascia

Time for an update. I will openly say I am an all or nothing kind of person. Most of the time that serves me well. If I’m in on something, I’m all in. This past couple of days, that included a loaf of sourdough rye bread and a generous portion of buttercream frosting. See, I still have my struggles with food sometimes. I stepped on the scale at 126# this morning. At 5’1″, while I’m no longer overweight, my goal has been 120#.

I eat plants for the most part. This is what’s on the menu for today and has been more typical for me lately. I feel fantastic like this. Due to nagging tendon issues for over 7 years (more on that later), my exercise level has been low. Yoga, walking, and about an hour of biking per week.

BreakfastBreakfast was butternut squash, green and red cabbage tossed in a mix of balsamic vinegar and brown mustard, then baked at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. It’s a large cookie sheet. I like to be full. Of vegetables!

Lunch

 

 

 

Lunch – I dumped a bag of frozen broccoli into a glass dish and baked it while my breakfast was in the oven. To that I added a baked sweet potato that I’d cooked in a batch a couple of days ago. Top with hot sauce.

 

 

Snack

 

I’ll probably have a snack before massage clients this afternoon, which is 1/2 of a baked kabocha squash with a tiny bit of brown sugar, and a Granny Smith apple. (Edit – I couldn’t eat the squash. Too full yet.)

 

 

SupperBefore I head out for work, I’ll throw the following into my Instant Pot for supper: Black eyed peas, brown rice, salsa and spinach. That way, supper is ready when I get home this evening.

Simple food.

Roughly 900 calories. 80% carb, 14% protein, 6% fat.

 

 

 

 

 

fascia blasterFor the past 7 years I’ve had struggles with my tendons/connective tissue. For a few weeks now I’ve been using this tool to “comb” my fascia. I warm up my by either doing cardio in a sauna suit, cranking up the space heater in the bathroom and doing yoga, or my latest addition – steam room! I picked up a small fryer, filled it water and a little peppermint essential oil, then put it in a crappy old tent. Last night I was reading a book in there by headlamp while an owl was talking in a nearby tree 🙂 I feel some positive changes happening and I can see changes in the shape of my body that I’m happy with.  The tool I’m using is called a Fascia Blaster. The hard, gravel-like crap in my IT bands and Achilles seems to be softening with consistent use. Steam room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, from January 2017 to October 2017. Less exercise. More plants.
Me
Me

It Costs Too Much To Eat Healthy – Plus Supper Tutorial

This puts a bee in my bonnet, so to speak. I have to disagree. If you’re coming from eating a diet of fast food, pizza, bagels and sugary cereal washed down with cow’s milk and soda, you might have noticed that your body doesn’t necessarily feel vibrant, or optimal. Right?

I know what it’s like to have to choose to put gas in the car or groceries on the table. When I put myself through school to be a nurse, I was in food pantry lines and using modern-day “food stamps”. My house was nearly foreclosed on. I was working 2.5 part-time jobs, going to school full-time, mothering 3 kids on my own and pursuing mountain bike racing endeavors. Yeah, I learned a lot about what’s important back then. No cable TV. I had a work-provided cell phone. An old Toyota with a lot of miles on it. The point is, I know what it’s like to have very little in the way of finances. While I do eat almost entirely organic these days and enjoy fueling my body with the best nutrition I can afford, this is a post for people who are eating food laden with trans fats, high-fructose corn syrup, and whatever other chemical cocktails are being served up at a drive through window.

I was told something about a healthy diet being too expensive and stressful.

Being obese and disabled isn’t expensive and stressful, then? Feeling lousy about oneself and out of control isn’t stressful? Really?! Yeah…. I don’t buy that. In fact, it pisses me off. I clearly recall being obese I was miserable. Am I alone in that?

I put together a week’s worth of menu and groceries for one hungry person. Before I get to that, I want to address some things.

“I can’t cook”. Can’t, or won’t? You can drive, wash dishes, wipe your butt, etc right? Don’t tell me you can’t cook. I call bullshit. You won’t. You don’t have the time? Do you have time to watch horrible things on the news? You have time to cook. Look up how to bake a potato on YouTube or something. You’re reading this. You have the internet. None of this is gourmet food. This is busy, weeknight, easy food. Tonight, I spent 10 minutes prepping supper which included sending a few text messages. The rice cooker (freebie, but they’re often $5 at thrift stores) cooked the rice. The vegetables cooked in a pot on the stove for 10 minutes. In that time, I cut and froze some vegetables and washed the prep dishes. Less time than it takes to go to McDonald’s.

Plan ahead. On a weekend, get your shopping done and  cook up a large batch of rice.

My menu is vegetarian. Suck it up. Eat some different foods. You might find you drop weight, save money, feel awesome and increase your health. Everyone is so obsessed with protein. Educate yourself. Try this article. You’re not a little kid any more. You can expand your palate. It actually does change, given even a few weeks.

Your body WANTS to feel good and it is ALWAYS trying its best for you. Give it some LOVE.

Tutorial Time. Here’s my Thursday-night dinner.

I put 2 cups of brown rice and 4 cups of water in the rice cooker, and pushed the “On” button.


I bought a giant cabbage for $2. Garlic and carrots are from friend’s gardens. Ginger root is cheap.

I cut it all up (5 minutes). Whew. Such hard work. I also got some turmeric, salt and pepper out.

I added some water to the pot, stirred it up, set the heat to medium and covered it with a lid. I stirred it a couple of times over the 10 minutes. Super time consuming. I can see why people don’t have time to cook <rolls eyes>.

I ate it!! I’m content and I feel good.  There’s enough left over for lunch tomorrow, too.

A word on the menu plan. You probably eat the same damn thing every morning for breakfast. I’d recommend keeping your weekday menu kind of boring and functional so you have time to play in nature. Or rest.

There are actually 2 breakfast options.
1. Put a heaping 1/2 cup of rolled oats in a bowl that has a lid. Add 1/2 teaspoon or so of cinnamon. Cover with non-dairy milk and put in the fridge overnight. It’s ready in the morning. Chop up an apple, stir it in and drizzle with maple syrup (just a small amount!).
2. Scramble some eggs. Take a cup of cooked rice from the large batch you made. Put it in a bowl, add the eggs and some salsa.
Boom. Eat and get your butt moving. You have things to do.

Then, make one large meal for dinner. Eat the leftovers for lunch the next day. Or, make the large meal for lunch and eat it again for dinner. It doesn’t really matter.

Lunch/Dinner Options
1. Pasta Marinara
. Cook the pasta, drain it, dump in the marinara sauce. Rinse and drain the garbanzo beans and dump them in. Add a handful of spinach. Stir and heat through.
2. Mashed Potatoes with Gravy and Mixed Vegetables. Wash, quarter and boil the potatoes. Drain when tender. Mash them with a potato masher and some garlic powder, onion powder and salt. Top with gravy. Open the package of mixed veggies and cook them in a saucepan while the potatoes cook. I just add some water, cover, and cook on low heat.
3. One Pan Meal. Preheat oven to 375. Wash and cut up your sweet potato in some chunks. Open your bag of frozen California Blend vegetables. Cut up your tempeh and toss that in a bowl with a little soy sauce or liquid aminos. Get out a sheet pan and throw it all on there. Season with whatever you want. I like garlic and just a touch of salt. Bake for 45 minutes, flipping it all over on the pan halfway through.
4. Cabbage Stir Fry. See the tutorial with pictures above.
5. Potato Hash. Dice potatoes, green peppers and onions. Saute in a pan on the stove with either a little veg stock or in a non-stick pan with a spray of oil, preferably coconut, until browned. Of course this can be seasoned with whatever. I’m kind of stuck on garlic and onion.
6. Soft Tacos. Warm a corn tortilla. Warm some of your rice or cook another batch if you need to. Warm your refried beans. Put the beans and rice in the tortilla, top with salsa and eat.
7. Baked Potato. Wash and bake some potatoes. Saute the rest of your spinach with some onion. Put it on top of the potato when it’s done. Make another batch of gravy if you want to.

Try to let your digestive system rest between meals. If you need a snack, you have bananas and carrots. Bake some potatoes to keep on hand and eat one with just salt. If you’re not hungry for them, you’re not really hungry. Go take a walk. Drink some water or tea.

Drink mostly water. I put peppermint tea on the shopping list because it’s beneficial to your health and something different.

Here’s the shopping list and price breakdown. I went to ALDI for everything except cabbage, tempeh and peppermint tea, which was from Golden Harvest.

Shopping List (with prices as of October 5, 2017)
Bananas 2#……………………………………………………………. 0.84
Bag of spinach………………………………………………………… 1.49
5# baking potatoes…………………………………………………. 1.69
1 large sweet potato………………………………………………… 0.69
3# bag of onions………………………………………………………. 1.49
Green peppers (use 1, cut and freeze the other 2)…… 1.49
3# apples………………………………………………………………… 1.49
Carrots……………………………………………………………………. 0.99
Cabbage (use 1/2, save 1/2)……………………………………. 2.00
Eggs………………………………………………………………………… 0.58
Non-dairy milk………………………………………………………… 1.99
Corn tortillas……………………………………………………………. 1.29
5# bag of rice (will last awhile)…………………………………. 4.79
Rolled oats……………………………………………………………….. 1.75
Cinnamon (will last awhile)………………………………………. 1.19
Garlic powder (will last awhile)………………………………… 1.19
Onion powder (will last awhile)………………………………… 1.19
Brown rice pasta………………………………………………………. 1.89
Marinara (the organic is dairy-free)…………………………. 1.99
Salsa…………………………………………………………………………. 1.29
Refried beans (low-fat vegetarian)…………………………… 0.79
Garbanzo beans……………………………………………………….. 0.65
Tempeh…………………………………………………………………… 3.49
Vegetable broth……………………………………………………….. 1.89
Soy sauce (low-sodium)……………………………………………. 1.49
Organic maple syrup………………………………………………… 5.49
Mixed vegetables (frozen)………………………………………… 0.79
California blend vegetables (frozen)………………………….. 0.99
Peppermint tea (20 bags)…………………………………………. 3.59

Total for 1 week of minimally processed, easy, nourishing meals = $50.48

Try this for a week. Also, move your body for 30 minutes every day doing something you enjoy. Drink water or herbal tea, about 0.5 ounces for every pound of your ideal body weight. Get to sleep by 10 and wake up with the sunrise. If you don’t feel better after a few weeks, go back to eating the way you do now. What have you got to lose?

If you’re looking for accountability and personal training, I am open to take 1 new client at this time. It includes meal planning, weekly personal training sessions, daily accountability, availability by text/message and a massage 🙂 Click here to learn more.