Last weekend we drove to Jon’s family in Ohio. With his parents, brother and SIL, aunt and uncle, cousin and his wife (CIL?) we celebrated four family birthdays and Father’s Day x2. It was a record I’m sure. Guinness? Call me.

One meal had three cakes, apple strudel, brownies and ice cream. ONE MEAL.

Honestly. It was ridiculous. I wish I had a photo, but I’m the blogger who rarely has my phone out and I haven’t been emailed any that were taken by others. It’s for the best I think. 🙂

Here are the healthy choices I made this week:


• Walked the track, ~ 2 miles. Joined my SIL and a friend of her’s in the morning.

• HIIT, ~30:00.
I stayed after for some strength reps: 20 each pushups, walking lunge, squat jumps, dips, high step ups (thank you bleachers), “box” jumps on the bleachers and dive bombers.
+ 200 high knees and 4 sprint sets (½ the track running, ½ walking) for another mile.
+ dumbells at the house: 20 each curls, tricep extensions, T raises, bent flys and chest press pulse.


• Drive home from in-laws. SORE AS HECK. Honestly. I thought Saturday was a good workout, but nothing killer. Oh how wrong I was. Everything hurt Sunday and Monday. Everything.

This was from the week before, but I didn’t post it, so here you go.
I live here people. Come visit.


• Yoga class, 90:00
Yet another great class. We really worked the shoulders and neck today, then went into headstand, handstand and shoulder stand. I’m gonna be KILLING my inversions by the end of this session.

Also not from Ohio. You guys the Library of Congress is gorgeous.
Easily my favorite place in D.C.


• HIIT, 30:00
I wrote my own workout today based on targeting four body areas: chest, back, legs/hips and core, plus cardio. I did in my apartment and don’t want to pound on my neighbors below, I my cardio intervals were toned back. Got to keep those jumps landing softly, ya know?

The intervals are noted below. Each circuit was 5:00, 6 circuits for 30:00. The chest and back intervals are a bit general, with moves hitting arms and shoulders as well. I used 8 lb. and 10lb. dumbells and a 15 lb. kettle bell.

                       First four intervals: :30/:15. Cardio interval: :60:60.
Circuit 1: Pushups | Flys | Squats | Plank knee tucks | High knees
Circuit 2: Dips | Plank rows | Lunges | V sits | Squat jumps
Circuit 3: Dive bombers | T raises | “Crab” alternating-leg hip lifts | Plank knee drops | High knees
Circuit 4: Tricep pushups R | Curls | dead lifts | V hold | Jump lunges
Circuit 5: Tricep pushups L | Shoulder press | Step ups | Plank pike  lift | High knees
Circuit 6: Front raises | Chest press pulse | Table alternating leg lifts | Back extensions | Skater lunges


• Rest day. Up early for my studio shift.

First harvest from our garden. Green beans for all the days!


• Yoga, 30:00. This power yoga class from focused on upper body. Hello shoulders.
• 15:00 arm workout from Tracy Anderson, part without weights, part with weights. Hello shoulders again.
• 15:00 butt workout from Tracy Anderson. Ouch. Seriously.

Happy birthday sundaes for me at work.


• Fartlek run | 3.21 miles, 35:00 (10:54 pace).
First morning working in AGES. Just felt inspired Thursday evening. Got up early and hit the treadmill. I just set it on a programmed workout and adjusted as I went. Rolling incline intervals and speed/recover intervals. This workout was honestly FUN and I haven’t felt that about running in a while.


Any news from you all?
What races are you running?
Have you tried some new workouts or had a recent success?

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“It was one of those experiences you don’t forget. Many years ago, when I was a neurosurgery resident, I was awakened in the middle of the night by a call from a new patient named Tom.

‘If I had a gun,’ he said, ‘I would blow my brains out.’

My heart pounded as I tried to figure out how to respond. All I could think was ask the simplest, most obvious question: ‘What’s wrong?’ The floodgates opened. Tom told me he was suffering from excruciating pain in his back. He had sought help from various providers over the years, he said, but nothing was working….

After listening to Tom, I tried to dispel his darkest fears by explaining to him what was happening – why his back likely hurt and what might happened over the coming days. I suspected that most of his pain was the result of muscle spasm. I assured him that as painful as this episode was, it was a common occurrence that would subside within a day or two. I provided Tom with a plan, complete with a timetable of when to expect some relief.

I was curious as to whether the pain he was experiencing had changed how that his fear had decreased and his anxiety was under control. ‘Do you need some medication for the pain tonight?’ I asked.

‘Doc,’ Tom said, ‘I have to tell you the strangest thing. At this moment, I have no pain at all.

Dr. Patrick Roth, M.D., is a top neurosurgeon and author of The End of Back Pain: Access your hidden core to heal your back (and avoid back surgery). I have never experienced back pain to the extent of Tom in this excerpt. I have had issues in my back lead to problems in my legs and been through physical therapy to finally address this.

I was intrigued by a holistic approach to back care written by a neurosurgeon who’s career is back surgery. My conclusion: if you have back pain – especially recurring or chronic – get this book (here).


For the most part it’s an easy read, though I will warn you the chapter on the anatomy of the back kind of lost me a little. Who knew the front, sides and back of the core was so detailed? And, btw, my chiropractor said that every nerve in your body runs through the spine; puts into perspective why back health is so important to our bodies as a whole.

Dr. Roth takes a two-pronged approach to back health:

#1 is the mental aspect. “The brain and spine are intertwined – not only developmentally, but functionally…. The brain has a crucial role in enabling health. Education has consistently been shown to be an independent enabler of health. In fact, the brain’s capacity to learn and become educated may be its most important link to health (p. 14).”

Roth encourages his patients and readers to take charge of their health. “Every back pain sufferer can become an active participant in facilitating the body’s natural healing and shielding ability and mitigating back pain for good (p. 17).” He goes into detail about ways out brain and body are connected, how our brain processes “pain” and the significant role that plays in healing.

In fact, the nervous system and pain is fascinating to me. “Pain nerves never connect directly with the brain; rather, they ‘synapse,’ or form connection with, a second group of nerves that do connect to the brain. This extra step gives the brain an opportunity to influence what it experiences in term of pain…. The brain sets its own threshold for pain to get through, depending on how important the brain views the pain (p. 34).”

#2 in the physical part. Dr. Roth includes a 6-week progressive workout to build strength in the entire core. This is where the detailed anatomy lesson comes in. To fully support the back, we need to strengthen around the entire core. Front, sides, upper back, lower back – it all plays a role in a health, strong core.

“The ‘hidden core’ is both the most important and the most overlooked part of the core. It consists of the important multifidus muscles, the superficial erector spinae muscles, and a supporting cast of muscles that include the glutes, the quadratus lumborum, and psoas, and the hamstrings (p. 82).”

Roth describes a “circumferential built-in brace.” Strengthening this brace, which consists of superficial and deep muscles, will improve most back pain.

Some exercises included in the workout include planks, standing hamstring stretch (or forward fold with a straight back), kettlebell dead lifts, bent rows, back extentions, kettlebell swings and burpees. The moves build on each other each week, starting simple and leading to more advances ones.

Final thoughts: Everything in the book mirrored what my physical therapist said and did. And I did heal my spine in the process. I also enjoy health science-y stuff and appreciated how in-depth Dr. Roth went. It could be a little overwhelming, but you can easily skim some portions. The chapters are very well outlined and the organization is easy to follow.

And of course, I love the message of surgery as a last option. He makes clear that in some cases, surgery is in-fact necessary. But many times we can manage and heal back pain simply by understanding what’s happening and strengthening our full core to support the back.

I’ll leave you with a last quote:

“Our healthcare system spends too much time and money on treating disease. We have made fantastic progress in various disease states, such as certain infectious diseases and cancer. The time has come, however, to prioritize the promotion of health over the eradication of disease (p. 17).”

* Discplaimer: I received this book free-of-charge prior to publication for review purposes. Opinions are my own, of course. I’m picky about reviews and don’t do them often, so be confident that I really value something if I post it here.


Have you experienced regular back pain?
How have you managed the pain?

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Melissa Bender Fitness {}

Hangout, relax time, yoga class, HIIT workouts, a run… maybe a bike ride coming. I did everything this week.

Saturday + Sunday

• I got lazy, y’all. Saturday afternoon/evening we were at a cookout and I didn’t want to get up early enough to workout and be ready before hand. Sunday I napped on the couch to French Open tennis. #sorrynotsorry


• My first yoga class at my new yoga home!
Yoga II with Rick on Monday evenings. You don’t know Rick, of course, but he’s lovely. And I suppose different studios have different class level designations, so I’ll tell you that yoga II is the solid intermediate class at Willow Street. I wasn’t sure if I should start with I/II or II, but after chatting with some staff about the postures I can do comfortably, we decided II was the best fit. And after class #1, I made the right choice. I felt worked out and challenged, but nothing was overwhelming and I had no problem doing anything. And we worked handstands. On day one. In love.

I have to say I’m proud to be starting at this level, seeing as I haven’t taken studio classes in, like… ages. Home practice, ftw!


• HIIT + weights, 45:00
Two Melissa Bender videos. This one twice through for cardio HIIT work and this one twice through for weights. AKA upper body killer. My arms were seriously shaking by the time I finished, and I’m still sore this morning. #success

Melissa Bender Fitness {}

P.S. This is not me. This is Melissa Bender. Performing my current most hated (i.e. necessary) exercise. Hamstrings!!! So much silent cursing doing these…



• Rest day and a long phone date with a bestie.


• 30:00 jog, 20:00 lower body strength
So remember a while ago I talked about a park with ahh.mazing workout equipment? I keep going down there without my phone, and thus don’t have a photo to show you, but trust me… it’s the best park/out door equipment I’ve ever seen.

Anyway, we jogged a neighborhood loop to the park. Don’t know how far it was, don’t really care. I just wanted about 30:00 minutes of cardio. Plus twice up  and down some stairs (maybe 30 steps?). Then this:

• 20 squats on balance disk
• 10 single-leg squats each leg, on balance disk
• 10 box jumps
• 20 box step-ups + knee lift
• 10 each leg “warrior III”/airplane/T-lift on balance beam
•  10 single-leg squats each leg on balance beam


I don’t have real workout plans this weekend. We’re going to be busy the next few weekends, so I want to do something fun with Jon before the weather get’s scorching. We’re can’t decide between a long bike ride to explore local trails or going to Library of Congress – my favorite museum in D.C. but Jon hasn’t been there yet.

Anything exciting this weekend?
What would you choose: bike ride or museum?

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Hello! Happy hump day! Happy national running day! It’s beautiful outside – albeit getting toasty already – and I’m up bright and early to work at the yoga studio. My alarm going off 2 hours early is a little painful, but I’m actually enjoying these peaceful mornings. My walk to the studio takes me through a park (unlike my walk to the office), the sun is just peaking over the trees when I’m walking at 5:45 and there are only 2 small classes during my shift. I can easily remember everyone, chat as they come in, and still have a quiet morning overall.

Wednesdays may be my new favorite morning.


On the June goals. Wait, pause. Let’s take a moment to collectively freak out that it’s JUNE. I don’t understand how that happened. Weren’t we having snow storms, like, a few weeks ago? Maybe yes, in fact. Crazy weather.

Anyway, goals. May was pretty great.


Fitness | I got in a few good “longer” weekend runs; 5 – 6 milers. Also plenty of quick runs, like 2 miles, before weight training. Not sure if I made it 3 times per week all month, but given my current struggle with running, I’m satisfied.

Food | Protein powder is my friend. Kale is my friend. Protein powder in kale/spinach green smoothies… we’re tight. Right now I’m using an organic hemp powder. Jury’s still out on whether I love it. Maybe I’ll just never love a powder. Maybe my powder soul mate just doesn’t exist. I’m not hating it though, so that’s a plus. And I feel TONS better when I make sure to drink a smoothie or simply mix up a glass of water first thing in the morning.

Fun | I got lazy and just went with books I could easily find a PDF for. *gasp* I have a growing summer reading list I’m excited about. But I did read the 50 Shades series. Got to say, it was different that I expected. Sure, the sex was a big part of it until the third book. But it was much more about abuse and trauma and healing that I expected. Much more depth to the story. I walked away pleasantly impressed.

Not so sure about a movie though? I just can’t see how they’ll get into that character development in the movie and I’m pretty certain I won’t want to see that much sex. Plus, I’m very under-whelmed by the Christian casting. And the trailer doesn’t pique my interest. Obviously, I don’t have high expectations. Thoughts?

On to June!


{P.S. I’m linking up with Amber from today. 🙂 }

Fitness | I’m HIIT workouts lately, so that’s what I’m doing. Melissa Bender at is a regular favorite. I just like her style and her real-time workouts. They’re great alone a few times through, and they’re great additions to a run or yoga session. Yesterday I combined two of her videos – one cardio, one weights – and did two rounds each for about 45 minutes total. I was dripping and my arms shaking by the end and today I feel great.

Food | Greens, greens, greens. Mostly I’m good with this during the week since I pack a salad for lunch. But most weekends I get too few veggies. Dinners are hit and miss. Hit if I at least have a smoothie after my workout. I want to be more mindful, especially on weekends.

Fun | Out. Side. Before it gets crazy hot. We’re already hitting 90° this week!!! There are some trails we haven’t explored, so it’s time to spring clean our bikes and get in some rides. And maybe some dinners outside. There is some picnic green space at our complex and I want to take advantage. AND we have access to a nearby pool; need to check out that business.

Do you have exciting June plans?
What is your favorite way to play outside?

Are you a morning person or nigh owl?

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First, thanks for the strength training tips on Friday! I’ve already made some adjustments. Excited to keep getting stronger!

I’ve got a busy week ahead with two evenings working at the yoga studio and leaving town on Friday afternoon for a long Memorial Day weekend in NYC. Looking forward to 3+ days straight with some or our favorite people.

In the meantime, with chores like laundry and packing, I’m anticipating limited − or at least quick − workouts this week. That always makes me less inclined to do it. Yes, I know I can do a hard and fast HIIT workout but I also crave my “me” workout time after work to decompress. If I can’t do everything I want to do, well… here’s where my stubbornness irrationally comes out. 🙂

So I’m setting the intention first thing this week to do some workout Monday −  Thursday. They won’t be long and maybe they won’t be hard. An easy 30 minute yoga flow would suffice. I also know I won’t be eating all that great this weekend, so I’m committing to being extra vigilant with my food. Then I can into the weekend feeling good, ready to relax and have some fun.

How was your weekend?
What are your goals or intentions for the week?

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